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TheFrostedLatios
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PostSubject: IPI Feedback   Wed Aug 12, 2015 3:13 pm

This is for my chapter pieces to get feedback from the rest of you guys. Everybody's thoughts are welcomed and appreciated, good or bad!
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Wed Aug 12, 2015 3:16 pm

IPI Chapter 10 Introduction:

I exhaled a jet of flame, Kyu scowling at me with disapproval. “God, Eon, you’re horrible at this! Keep up this pace and you’ll be laughed out of this school before you get a chance to sign up for the tournament. Again!” I couldn’t fail Kyu--not now, not ever. I willed up all of my power and breathed another flame, this one my largest yet. Two men in Type Suits collapsed to the ground, the acrid stench of burned flesh filling the room.

I snapped awake, abruptly sitting up in my bed atop my tails and breathing heavily. Flare wasn’t in his own room, still in the infirmary recovering from the toll his final attack had taken on him. So I was alone, waking up from the third nightmare this week. Each one taunted me and pointed out how weak I am, but just as I show my strength they die again.

Am I a murderer? I reasoned that it came down to the definition of murder. Yes, I ended two human lives. Then again, I wasn’t exactly human myself. Not anymore, at least. Second, they were going to kidnap me and subject me to a fate worse than death had I not fought back. Self-defense isn’t considered murder, I supposed.

I drew my knees in closer to myself. But did I have to kill them? Surely I only had to incapacitate them, and at times I hoped that I had done only that. But whenever I tried to convince myself of it, I remember their horrific wounds and charred flesh. If either of them survived, it would be a miracle.

My head dropped into my knees. I’m a killer. I might not be a murderer, but I killed two people with families and friends. They might not have made the best choices, joining an organization bent on forwarding science at any cost to hybrid kind… my kind… but they didn’t have to die for it! And certainly not at my hands either...

Surprisingly, my tears didn’t hurt me the way most water did. So for the third time since returning from that lab, I mourned my fallen adversaries.

Did Flare ever wake up from nightmares about the people he obliterated in an instant? He must have heard those people right outside before his Aura nuke went off. Or what about Kyu, who saw and fought exactly who I did? Still, I wasn’t about to ask them, especially not at… 2 AM. Ugh.

But every time I closed my eyes, I was greeted with acrid fat melting off charred, bleeding muscle. It looks like I wouldn’t get any sleep again, just in time for my first Math quiz. I don’t even remember what it was over either. At this rate, I really never will succeed here.

I nearly jumped out of my fur as somebody softly knocked on my door. Curious, I uncurled myself and walked up the newly-repaired door. A quick look through the peephole revealed… Hope. I scowled, but nevertheless opened the door. “What do you want?” I spat.

He cringed at my brusque tone. “I’m so sorry to come over so late at night… Umm… would you like a friend to talk to tonight? I couldn’t really sleep myself,” he chuckled nervously.

As I stared him down he seemed to always shy away from eye contact. “You… just want to talk?” I repeated.

“Mhm!” he nodded, straightening up a little. “It doesn’t have to be about anything in particular--you could tell me about your friends or your games… as long as you don’t have to be alone.” He gave me a look like a shy puppy dog. His tail was even wagging.

“Come in,” I muttered, waving him in. He respectfully avoided my tails, instead skirting around me to stand against the wall.

“So…” I said.

“Well… sometimes it helps people to talk about what bothers them. It lets them put their problem into words so they can make more sense of it. Would that help you?”

I sighed. “I’m not doing too well in school here. Nobody explained to me that you pretty much have to learn twice as fast as most people in order to make room for training. And I have to work twice as hard there, too, since I have to get into the tournament before sign-ups close.”

“Oh, that does sound really hard,” he replied sympathetically. “How do you think you’ll be able to do it?”

I groaned, pawing back into my room. Hope’s claws clacked as he slowly walked behind me. As I sat on my bed I sighed and said, “I really don’t know… how do you put up with it?”

“I guess I just got used to it,” he spoke softly, sitting beside me. “It was hard for me at first, too, you know. It’s better here than the city I grew up in, where I couldn’t hear myself think over the anguish of so many people around me. Still, I was so far behind in my schoolwork that only this year I caught up with my age group.”

“When did you come here?”

“About four years ago. I was twelve but in the fourth grade, since my parents didn’t care enough to make me go to school and it always hurt too much to go myself. I got lots of help from the teachers here, though, and now I’m all caught up.”

“Sorry to hear that,” I replied, trying my hardest to distract myself.

“It’s okay now, but thank you. So you said you were having trouble with training?”

I took a breath. “Yeah, just… it’s so hard. Every day I push myself as hard as possible, but I’m still miles away from ever joining a team.”

“Why do you want to join a team so bad? It’s a good goal, yes, but I’m curious why you want it so badly.”

“Because… because… it’s my fault!” I finally admitted, both to him and myself. My head hung in shame. “I’m as much to blame as you are for Flare’s kidnapping, if not more so. So I promised myself that I would become strong and powerful like the rest of you guys, so if Plasmid ever comes after us I can actually do something other than watch and hope you’re strong enough without me.”

“Oh, Eon…” Hope whimpered, gently placing his soft, furry arms around me. “Nobody blames you for what happened last week. Not me, not Kyu, nobody. We all understand that you tried your hardest, and in the end it’s thanks to you we managed to rescue Flare at all.”

“And maybe if I’m skilled enough in combat… I don’t have to kill anyone else,” I muttered.

“Is that what’s bothering you?” Hope asked gently. I had a feeling he knew this all along.

“Yeah.” I finally gave in, tears welling up in my eyes. “I killed two people. But if I knew what I was doing, like you do, I could have just knocked them out or something! But no, they’re dead because of my overwhelming incompetence!” I cried more openly.

Hope pulled me closer to him, letting me cry into his fluffy chest. His fur was rather soft and comfortable, I had to admit. “It’s okay, just let it all out,” he whispered, petting my back. “Death isn’t easy on anybody, and killing is even harder to live with. But… well, do you trust me, Eon?”

“Trust you?” I lifted my head. “For what?”

“Well…” he thought for a moment. “Do you trust me to see what lies ahead for you? What dangers you need to be aware of?”

I thought back to the mission. “I guess so…”

“I think you’ll attain your goals. You’ll be a strong yet gentle fighter, you’ll keep up in your classes, and you’ll be able to move on from this too. Just be patient with yourself, okay?”

The sincerity in his voice was overwhelming, and I found myself relaxing for the first time that night.

Hope began to rub behind my pointed ears, which was remarkably pleasurable. “And until then, I’ll be here for you,” he promised. “So relax for now. I’m here; you’re safe with me, I promise.”

His gentle massaging, warm fur, and promise of a better future seemed to drain all the tension out of me. When I closed my eyes this time, I saw myself in the Battle Stadium, surrounded by cheering spectators…

---

When my alarm woke up, I couldn’t help but smile, I felt so refreshed. Apparently Hope had… tucked me into bed before he left…

I blinked a few times, my cheeks burning. Hope and I… cuddled last night. Okay. I guess I was so tired it barely registered with me how awkward that was. Hopefully he didn’t tell anyone, that would be so embarrassing!


(This serves as the transition from the Flare Rescue arc (Chapters 7-9) to the Training arc.)
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Tue Aug 18, 2015 4:43 pm

Well done on this!! I especially appreciate the focus on Eon's psych after killing those two, as I adore psychology and there are definitely ramifications to doing such a thing. Most would just brush it off and not focus on it at all, or poorly at that. And Hope coming to help! I loved their interactions in here, and how Hope helped Eon out. This was a really good exploration of both characters and their friendship with each other.
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Tue Aug 18, 2015 5:43 pm

Latios: Thanks! I love just reading it myself, I'm so proud of it! And I also want to tease as many romantic pairings between my characters as possible, so hopefully (assuming I have them) fans will want to ship EonxHope because of this~
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Wed Aug 19, 2015 1:27 pm

TheFrostedLatios wrote:
Latios: Thanks! I love just reading it myself, I'm so proud of it! And I also want to tease as many romantic pairings between my characters as possible, so hopefully (assuming I have them) fans will want to ship EonxHope because of this~

Yeah, I can see what you did with the pairings Very Happy I was thinking there were hints of EonxHope there!
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:21 am

Okay, here's the rest of Chapter 10!

Regardless, I slipped out of bed and went about my day. I still bombed the math quiz, but at least I felt alert for it. Lunch with Kyu and Matthew went smoothly, and aside from a comment on how I looked better today it seemed Hope didn’t say anything to them, which I appreciated.

Training went just as well. While I wasn’t blasting out flamethrowers nearly as well as I’d like to, both Vulcan and Kyu remarked at how much I improved overnight. From there I was set to practice on my own.

Ninetales can produce a sort of ethereal blue fire with practice, one that can spring up nearly anywhere as long as I have a direct line of sight. The exception being inside another person, of course—as I had to generate a large amount of Fire Aura on my target, the Aura within someone else would just consume it far faster than I could produce it.

Instead, I practiced on rocks that had no more Aura than anything else. Large, half-melted marble pillars dotted one corner of the gym. It was a challenge among Fire-types to see how much of the pillar one could melt before getting exhausted. The very best students can nearly bring it down to a puddle, but no one has ever gone all the way.

My record at the moment was being able to make the top glow brightly and get a little soft. Time to see if I could break that. I focused intently on the spot I wanted my flame to appear, the very tip of the remarkably candle-like stone. Just as if I was possessing someone, I let my Aura stretch towards the tip of the stone and pool into it. The air rippled as my stamina drained, but with just a few more moments of concentration… the stone caught fire.

It let off a bright bluish-white glow as it heated the stone beneath it. I continued to pour my energy into my fire, trying to get it to burn as brightly and warmly as possible. But eventually I shut off the flow of Aura and gasped for breath. That was exhausting.

I stepped up to the pillar, casually prodding its top to gauge my process. The rock glowed a dull red and felt smooth under my hand, but not malleable. Suddenly the pillar to my right became wholly engulfed in a blue fire, which seared the rock until it became coated in lava. I turned to see another vulpine hybrid holding a gnarled, burning stick in her hand.

It looked as though she was wearing a dress, with very long brick-red fur that flowed down to her wrists and ankles and an orange fire design by either leg. Beneath the dress-fur black-furred paws and hands were barely visible. Atop the red was some white fur that cascaded to a point from her chest and down her torso, and yellow fur atop that which flared up at her shoulders like a curling fire.

She held her pose for a few more moments, letting the marble drip down and pool at its base, before cutting off her fire and fixing me with a proud smile. “How was that?” the fox said.

I blinked. I had never heard a girl with such a masculine voice… unless she wasn’t a girl?

“Pretty impressive, right? The name is Delphyn; nice to meet you!” Well, the name didn’t help matters much. He… she… they slipped their wand into their sleeve-fur and extended their hand in greeting. I shook it politely.

“I’m Eon. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Delphyn.”

“Eon? Perfect!” they smiled. “So, are you really as good at controlling people like they say?”

“Excuse me?” I hadn’t told anyone about my… talent.

“Possession, hypnosis, whatever you call it. You know, that thing where you look at someone’s eyes and you take control of them?”

“Yes, I know…” I couldn’t help but be a little wary of the fox hybrid. “But how do you know?”

“Come on, people are still talking about how you possessed Plasmid guards and got them to shoot each other on your super special mission. And besides, everybody’s seen you and your girlfriend practicing it!”

I blushed in embarrassment. While I did still take control of Kyu every now and then, mostly for her sake, I didn’t know people were watching us! “Okay, yes, so I can control people, but I don’t ever do it without their permission, I promise. Also, she’s not my girlfriend.”

They laughed, revealing sharp, white teeth. “Whatever you say, friend. My point is that I’d love to have you on the team I’m making for the autumn tournament!”

My ears perked. Surely I heard Delphyn wrong. No team would ever want me for the tournament with how weak I was. “Come again?” I asked.

“Do you want to join my team?” they enunciated.

“Well, of course!” I exclaimed. “But other than my whole Hypnosis shtick I’m pretty pathetic.” To demonstrate, I quickly gathered up some Aura and let loose a flamethrower that traveled a whole five feet. I maintained the fire for a good ten seconds or so, but I quickly became exhausted after that. Closing my maw, I gave Delphyn a serious look. “That’s about the best I can do. I mean, you saw me with that tiny flame earlier, right?”

“Yes, I know, but… I think you’re worth it! See, I’ve been working on my own skills, one of which is soothsaying.” They extracted the stick from their sleeve-fur, setting it alight in the process. “My wand burns with a magical fire that helps me to meditate. With enough concentration… I can catch glimpses of the future.”

I was skeptical. “So what did you see?”

“I had a vision of a bright silver fire that could force anyone, even the sun itself, to bow to him. He would secure my victory.”

“What’s this about the sun?” I asked. “I guess I can make someone bow to me if I ever wanted to, but I’ve never done anything with the sun.”

A light seemed to flash in their eyes. “Have you ever tried?”

“No. What do you mean?”

“Come on, I want to show you something. Bring that other Ninetales, too. If she’s not your girlfriend, she’ll want to be after this.” They winked. My eyes widened.

I went to get Kyu.

“Where are we going, and who’s she?” Kyu asked.

Delphyn groaned. “Right, forgot to say. I’m biologically male and I like it that way. I’m a guy, you two, got it?”

“Oh, sorry!” Kyu apologized immediately. “Your fur really threw me off, that was bad of me, sorry.”

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “So long as you don’t make any jokes about my robe fur looking like a dress, we’ll get along just fine.”

“Right, so, what did you want to show me?” Kyu asked again.

“Follow me, you two. I think Eon’s got a nice surprise for you, Miss Ninetales.”

“My name’s Kyu, by the way.”

“Kyu, got it. Now let’s get going.” We were led out the door that took us directly outside, putting between the two wings of the school in a shaded sort of alleyway. We walked along the side of the school until we reached the academy park, where Delphyn turned to face me.

“Now I want you to focus on making the sunlight more intense,” he instructed.

Kyu narrowed her eyes, and I could only give him a look of confusion. “What? Make the sunlight... more intense?” I asked.

“Just will it to happen, I guess.” Delphyn clarified casually, but I heard both of their heartbeats quicken.

So I did what he asked. I imagined the sunlight getting brighter and harsher… and it did. Perhaps it wasn’t too much brighter, but the area around me seemed filled with solar energy.

Delphyn began cheering, Kyu groaned and slumped against the brick wall, and I could only look at them both, bewildered.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“You’re a walking drought!” he exclaimed. “You can make the sunlight intensify just by thinking about it!”

“So what? If I can do it, I’m sure any other Fire-type else can.”

“Oh my God, you just get all the luck, don’t you…?” Kyu muttered.

“No, no, no, see, this is more like your Hypnosis,” Delphyn explained. “There are exactly two hybrid species in the world who can make the sun brighter as fast as they want. Groudon, an ancient, immortal hybrid who’s rarely if ever seen by anyone and is the only of his kind… and a very few lucky Ninetales.”

“So I’m one of these few?” I clarified. Delphyn nodded emphatically. “Kyu?” I turned to my fellow Ninetales.

“He’s not lying,” she grumbled. “But jeez, you’ve got me jealous. It’s like you’re the paragon of Ninetales-kind, between your Drought ability and your Hypnosis. So ironic, too…” her eyes flicked to Delphyn, and she finished, “considering you still struggle with basic combat techniques.”

“Don’t worry about that, Kyu,” Delphyn said with a manic smile. “I’ll train him up over these next couple months; come the tournament, we’ll have the best team in the league!”

Kyu laughed. “Good luck with that! My team always dominates!”

“Except against Fire Storm,” Delphyn teased.

Kyu huffed. “Why does everybody mention that? Of course we lost to Fire Storm; Fire Storm always wins!”

“Yeah, they do. But I’m bet with my team we’ll finally knock them down a few pegs,” Delphyn boasted.

Kyu snorted. “Now that’s a laugh.”

“I guess we’ll just have to see, won’t we?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Something seemed to click in her mind. “Wait, you’re adding Eon to your team?!”

“You bet I am,” Delphyn grinned. “There’s no way I’m passing up a Drought user who can win by staring at people.”

“But… he’s weak! Sorry Eon, but it’s true.” The comment stung a little, but I’d gotten used to it, so I just waved it off. Kyu continued, “Surely you’ve seen him actually fight, right?”

“No, but I’m sure I can help teach him anything he needs to know.”

Kyu turned to me. “Are you sure this is a good idea?”

I shrugged. “This might be my only chance to get into the tournament. Even if I do get kicked out in favor of someone stronger, then… well, I guess that’s just the same as being rejected in the first place. But at least I have someone willing to add me, right?”

Kyu thought it over. “As long as you both know what you’re getting into…”

Now I was starting to feel hurt that she had so little confidence in me. “I’ll make it work, Kyu. I promise. Remember, I’m learning pretty fast, right?”

After a moment Kyu smiled. “That’s right, I guess you are! Well, good luck you two.” She turned around and walked back to the gym, her beautiful tails swaying behind her.

Delphyn had to tap my shoulder to get me to stop staring. “So my team’s all training out in the park. Why don’t we go out and say hello?” he suggested. I nodded, and so we went further outside. The difference in our training was again evident when I had to sprint to catch up with his jogging, and he slowed his pace as soon as he looked back.

Within a minute or so we entered what appeared to be a war-torn field, with fire crackling through overgrown thorns above overturned earth pocked with dozens of holes. Suddenly some of the brush exploded in a bright fireball and two figures darted out of it. As I approached, I was able to make out more details. One of the hybrids was taller and avian, with white and red feathers and a cruel yellow beak and talons. A V-shaped hairstyle (featherstyle?) jutted out from the back of his head. His movements were blindingly fast, to the point where I couldn’t even tell the end of one strike to the beginning of the next.

Yet his foe casually dodged his movements, his graceful form exuding… serenity, really. The tan-furred canid hybrid seemed to have small leaves growing growing out of various points all over his body, and it took a couple moments to realize the two enormous leaves growing out of his head were actually ears and the one growing out his backside was a tail. He gripped a large blade-like leaf in each hand, and spun and twisted in unison with the avian hybrid’s movements to both dodge and counterattack with precision and fluidity.

Suddenly the earth trembled beneath them and a third hybrid joined the fray from underground, spinning between and up into the air. Initially the stockier hybrid had his upper torso and head encased in a cone of steel, but as he descended the cone broke apart into two massive and vicious metal claws, with a third crest of steel growing out of his back. His face resembled that of a mole’s and his brown fur was marked with gashes of red that at first glance looked like blood.

His huge claws served as both offense and defense in his assault, with each strike conveying huge power and a surprising amount of speed. When he attacked, the other two would dodge instead of block and it wasn’t hard to see why. If those claws were tough enough to burrow through the ground like that, getting hit by one would definitely leave a mark.
Their three-way melee continued for some time, with all combatants preferring close combat yet still occasionally jumping back to throw chunks of earth, breath fire, or summon strange plants that seemed to choke the others. Finally the avian got a decisive blow on the leaf-like hybrid, kicking him square in the chest and sending him flying through the air out of the field. Soon after he jumped and kicked off the mole’s steel crest, flipping in the air to engulf him in flames.

He drew closer to attack again when the mole raised his claws in surrender. The fiery bird relaxed. Soon the leafy hybrid rejoined the two and they sat and talked amid the scarred earth.

I jumped back to reality once Delphyn clapped my back. “So, why don’t I go and introduce you to them?”
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Mon Aug 31, 2015 9:34 am

Wow! To where the new stuff is, I love the addition of fantastic, massively done descriptions on the new hybrids and their battling actions. Very detailed and exciting. And I'm excited for Eon, being added to a Team! I just hope things go well for him.
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:58 pm

Chapter 11, by Leaf and Shay!

Chapter 11: Team Solar Flare

I nodded weakly at Delphyn’s request. The Delphox shoved me forward as we descended the hill down into the destroyed field. The mole-like hybrid with the giant steel claws seemed puzzled at my approach, the leaf-fox waved politely, and the fiery bird simply watched me walk up to him. He was even taller in person, I found; I had to crane my head to meet his gaze. He seemed to be rather like a chicken, if they had evolved to become predators rather than prey.

“Team, this is Eon,” Delphyn introduced me. “He’s a Special-based utility fighter, specializing in debilitation and weather control. He’s a bit of a fixer-upper, but I’m sure we can get him up to speed by the time Tournament comes around. And Eon, this is Exca, Bracken, and Blaze.” Delphyn pointed to the mole, the leafy hybrid, and the avian in turn.

“What is a fixer-upper?” Exca spoke up. He had a very foreign accent that I couldn’t pin down, and I now noticed that he had dreadlocks and a fierce expression, and he wore only muddy jeans.

“Eon, this is Exca, our terrain control expert and tank,” Delphyn explained. “To answer your question, Exca, he’s not too good at fighting yet, so we’ll have to train him extra hard so he’s ready, too.”

“Punch my hand,” the fire bird said, extending a talon-like hand with its palm towards me. I responded with the hardest punch I could muster, yet his arm was as steady as a rock. He returned his hand to his side and closed his eyes in thought. My heart sank.

“I know he doesn’t seem like much, Blaze,” my advocated insisted, “but he really is something special. His friend tells me he’s a quick study and I had a vision about him!”

Blaze opened his eyes and affixed his gaze on me. “And what do you have to say for yourself, Eon?” His voice was deep and smooth, like a lion’s.

I sighed. “I really don’t know. I just got here a couple weeks ago and while I’ve been trying really hard I just can’t compare to the rest of you who’ve had years of battling experience.”

Blaze didn’t respond. Eventually it was the Bracken who spoke up. “Well, why does Delphyn want you so bad?” His voice was light and airy, like the wind.

“My, um, ‘utility’ I guess,” I responded. “I can make the sunlight grow more intense really easily and I can take control of someone if I look into their eyes.” I noticed Exca averting his gaze, yet Bracken retained eye contact and a dreamy smile. “Not that I’d do it unless I had to, of course,” I added.

“Well, could you try it on me, then? I’ll do my best to resist your control, so we can see just how useful it is,” Bracken said, scratching one of his leafy ears lazily. He looked into my eyes expectantly.

I looked back at him and exerted my Aura to overpower his. I was surprised how effectively he kept me out, forcing his own Aura into a sort of mental shield around him. Nevertheless I broke through quickly—

And fell backwards as Bracken tackled me, snapping back into my own body. Luckily I had fallen on my tails and Bracken hadn’t touched them, but I still scowled at him.

His relaxed smile never wavered. “So that’s its limitation, then. You can’t guard yourself while trying to bring someone under your control.”

“You could have warned me…” I muttered as I stood.

“Is it then that you have the Drought talent too?” Exca asked as I dusted off my tails.

I looked to Delphyn, who nodded with a grin. “Yeah, watch,” I replied. I closed my eyes and willed the sunlight to grow stronger, causing the air around me to become charged with energy once again. I opened my eyes to find Bracken in a state of ecstasy, his head tilted up as he soaked in my sunlight. He let out a sound that seemed halfway between a groan and a whimper. Blaze began to tap a foot anxiously, his muscles tightening beneath his feathers.

“What’s going on with them?” I asked.

Delphyn’s bushy yellow tail was whipping back and forth. “Can’t you feel it? The sunlight seeping through your fur into your soul, filling you to bursting with Fire Aura?”

Now that he mentioned it, I was feeling quite energized. I smiled and allowed my own tails to wag as well. “But what about Bracken? He’s a Grass-type, which are hurt by Fire Aura, right?”

“Oh, but what could be better for a patch of grass then some sweet, sweet sunlight?” Bracken groaned.

“My team practically rides on you if you sign up,” Delphyn said. “Unlike almost all hybrids at this school, your weather control barely costs you anything. You’re not feeling at all tired from that, right?”

“No, I barely felt it.”

“Yes! Yes, oh, this is perfect! You see, in this special sunlight of yours all of our fire-based attacks are much stronger, and Bracken has a unique ability to turn it into pure energy, which makes him scary fast. Faster than Blaze, even! You saw him fighting, right?” I nodded, recalling my complete inability to track his movements. “Can you see just how important you are now?”

I ducked my head, embarrassed. “But I’m still so bad at fighting in general!”

“Do you truly believe in Eon, Delphyn?” Blaze asked.

“Of course I do!” Delphyn exclaimed.

“I see. Come with me, Eon,” Blaze said, already walking away.

I followed the bird to an unscarred patch of earth; I noticed Exca behind me effortlessly shifting boulders and mounds of earth back into the ground, leveling the field somewhat, while Bracken regrew the grass from seemingly nothing. “So, you are a Special-based fighter, yes?” Blaze asked.

“I’m not sure what that means, sorry.”

“Weak body, powerful Aura.” He remained expressionless.

I sighed. “I’m more like ‘weak Aura, weaker body.’” Tilting my muzzle towards the sky, I let out a flamethrower that burned brightly, but only reached a few feet above us. “I tried my hardest on that,” I admitted.

“Do not discount yourself. Honesty is good; self-hatred is not. And you are wasting Aura.” he said bluntly.

“What do you mean?”

“Where are you converting your Aura to fire?”

Where? I had never thought about where before. Taking another Aura-filled breath, I tried to focus on where Aura ended and fire began and found it to be in the back of my throat, which I relayed to Blaze.

“That will waste Aura. Ignite the Aura on the tip of your tongue as you exhale instead.”

I nodded and once more prepared a flamethrower, this time focusing on my tongue to burn the Aura there instead. It felt strange and I ended up coughing out a few sparks as they built up in my throat, while the fire itself was pitiful.

“Again,” Blaze instructed. I complied and failed once more.

“Again.” Try, fail.

“Again.” Blaze watched silently every time I attempted to produce fire as he instructed. But with practice, my technique gradually improved until it met and quickly surpassed my previous limits. By the time an hour passed, I was gasping.

“Again,” my instructor commanded. Mustering what Aura I had left, I took a deep breath and exhaled fire with all my might. I scorched the grass over six feet away.

“You have potential,” Blaze decided. “Your dedication is clear. I will train you further.”

Even though this is the third time I was told I had potential by a Fire-type so far, I still smiled. “Really? Thank you, Blaze!”

“Now spar with me. Strike my chest or head by any means you can.”

“Wasn’t I supposed to be a Special fighter or whatever? The whole ‘weak body, strong Aura’ thing?” I questioned.

“You want to be weak?” he growled.

“No, sir,” I replied hastily and took a fighting stance.

“Call me Blaze.” He threw a punch.

It was clear he was holding back—a lot—but I was nevertheless too slow to dodge or block and was hit square in the chest. I grunted in pain. Blaze frowned, then swung his leg towards me.

This time I was a little more prepared and manage to slide under it and aim a punch at his stomach, but he quickly brought his leg down on my arm, bringing me with it. I quickly pulled away and got back to my feet, then attacked again.

Blaze snatched my wrist out of the air. “Stop,” he commanded. “You must learn how to strike properly.”

What followed was a lecture on proper physical technique, to remain coiled but not tight, so that I can move at any time in any direction. I had to use force from my whole body, putting all of my weight into each attack while also maintaining balance. As he moved me through the motions of a correct sidekick, I noticed Delphyn watching from some distance away. He waved politely when I met his gaze.

“Eon, focus.” When I looked to Blaze to nod, I caught him staring at Delphyn too.

When I could successfully punch, kick, chop, and block to Blaze’s satisfaction, I was released to train elsewhere. “You know, I never did explain how the tournament works, did I?” Delphyn said as I approached.

“Oh, yeah,” I replied. “How is this all set up?”

“Simply put, it’s a six-versus-six team battle with some specific rules. For one, only one hybrid per team can be fighting at any given moment. You are, however, allowed to switch with a teammate at any time—assuming you can get off the field before being knocked out. You can use any power or ability at your disposal, but you can’t bring in any items to help you. The goal is to knock your opponents unconscious, so you should hit hard but not lethally, which really isn’t too hard to do with how sturdy we are. By the way, fighting hurts. A lot. You know that, right?” I nodded, reminded of Kyu and Bark’s vicious sparring.

“Good.” Delphyn continued, “You can do anything you want to the field: set it on fire, boil away any water, or change the weather to your heart’s content. This applies to both sides of the field, too, but only within the lines, so don’t go breaking that shield.”

“Shield?”

“The psychic barrier that keeps the fight from hitting the audience.”

“Ah, right.”

“Let’s see... so, as your team captain, do what I say, okay? I’m the main strategist, so if I say to pull out, turn tail and bolt for the sidelines, got it? Rebels and mavericks may win in the movies, but in these battles the most coordinated team almost always wins.”

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to break any orders; I hardly know what I’m doing anyway!” I managed a small chuckle.

Delphyn smiled politely. “Works for me! Finally, the match ends when one team is entirely unconscious or has surrendered. Any questions?”

I considered the rules for a moment. “No, I don’t think so.”

“Perfect! Now go to Exca; I want you to train against type disadvantages, got it?”

“Type… disadvantages? Was this what Professor Darck was saying about water and earth hurting me more?”

“Yeah, that’s right. Exca can explain.”

I voiced my understanding and found Exca shoving a pile of dirt into one of his burrows with the enormous claws he had for hands. The sharp, steel claws nearly reached his feet and were as wide as they were long; how he hefted what had to be at least a hundred pounds of metal was beyond me. “Um… excuse me? Exca?” I called.

Exca looked up from his shoveling. He seemed to squint a lot, but whether it was the light or my being there I couldn’t tell. “May I help you, Eon?” he asked. At least his voice was amiable.

“Delphyn wanted you to help me with type disadvantages, and explain it if you could.”

“Yes, okay,” Exca nodded. “A hybrid has Aura that is one of many types. You have the Fire-type, and I have both the Ground-type and the Steel-type. One type may have the advantage when used on another type. For example, the Fire Aura has the advantage against the Steel, hurting the Steel hybrid deeper than a regular hit. So if you breath me with fire, I will hurt more than normal because you have hurt my Aura too. But! I also have the Ground-type, so my Ground Aura absorbs the Fire Aura and weakens it, so it balances to no change.”

“Let me see if I have this straight,” I interrupted, shaking my head to clear it which caused my mane of hair to whip back and forth behind me. “Fire-based attacks are more effective against Steel-types because Fire Aura consumes Steel Aura, but it’s bad against Ground-types because Ground absorbs Fire? And because you have both, they cancel out and my attacks do no more or less damage, right?”

“Yes, you are understanding now. There are many types with many effectives and not effectives, but you may find it easy if you look at the types in nature. Earth puts out fire in nature, yes? So too does fire melt steel?”

“Which is why water tends to sting, right?” I ventured.

“Yes, it does give me a diminishing feeling.” Exca nodded.

“Oh, you too? I was referring to myself.”

“Steel is impartial to the Water Aura, but Ground is washed away. So you see, it is my weakness.”

“And how many types are there...?” I muttered.

“I believe there is eighteen or so. Don’t have worry; the interactions will come with time, okay?”

“Yeah, alright. So if I’m going to train with you…”

“I will fight with my Ground Aura, so you can feel how it hurts and how to avoid it. Do you have ready? I mean, are you ready?”

I took the fighting stance Blaze taught me. Already I felt far more powerful in this pose, if somewhat fatigued from my prior training today. In response Exca drove his claws into the ground, creating a rumbling that resulted in a pillar of rock jutting from the ground toward me. I sprang away and strafed around Exca, breathing fire as I ran. In response the mole pulled his claws up, and with it a huge boulder that halted my fire.

Suddenly the boulder came hurtling towards me and despite my attempts to jump over, it caught my legs and sent me falling on my face. I groaned in pain; it felt like my paws had been bruised all the way down to the bone.

“Can you stand, Eon?” Exca called.

“Yeah,” I called back. Getting to my feet, I noticed that Exca had prepared an assault of floating pebbles. No sooner did I gasp than the rocks all flew towards me at an incredible speed. I dashed off to the side, cringing from my hurt paws, but I nevertheless managed to approached and exhale more fire. Exca pulled up a wall of rock, but I skipped over it and burned my foe from the other side. Exca in turn skipped out of the flames and swung his massive claws at me. I pulled back and quickly tried to summon my foxfire between us to no avail.

Exca drove his claws deep into the ground before him, and as he pulled them apart a massive crack opened in the ground beneath me. My paw was caught in his trap before I could jump and before I knew it I was trapped in a tight prison of rock, my arms pinned beside me and my tails crushed against my back. The dirt seemed to sap the strength from my body like water would, and despite my struggles I could not break free.

“This I think will make a good test, Eon,” Exca said. I glared at him and he grinned apologetically. “Come, friend, it’s only a test! If you don’t get out on own I’ll help you out and we can try later. But keep in mind that if you fight the foe who has this power too and you cannot escape, you will be knocked out very quickly.”

I nodded and steeled myself. I strained and pulled and tried to force the ground apart, but it was as unyielding as it looked. I even tried softening the rock around me with my fire powers, but to no avail. I was well and truly stuck. I sighed and relayed the sad news to Exca.

Shortly thereafter the ground shifted away to give me room to jump back to solid ground, and once I felt grass beneath my paws again I groaned and stretched. All my muscles ached and I found myself trembling and panting… I couldn’t recall being so exhausted before.

“Ready for the second round, Eon?” my foreign friend asked, adopting a battle stance with those wicked claws pointed straight at me.

“No!” I exclaimed. “I mean, no, I feel totally spent now.” I groaned and fell on my blessedly soft tails, silently wishing my arms would stop twitching.

“Already? But I barely used my attacks!” Exca said, surprised. He eyed me quizzically. “Are you sure you have the strength to fight?”

I expected myself to grimace, but instead my resolve toughened. “I have no choice,” I said coolly, remembering my talk with Hope last night. “If I’m not strong enough now, I have to train as hard as I can until I get there.”

Exca grinned, revealing excessively long front teeth like a rodent’s. Were moles rodents? “I like this idea! Now up; if you can move, you can train! I will use lighter force as you are weak now, but do not give up! Understand, friend?”

I gave him a desperate look. He only sighed. “Fine. Stay weak as you are. We do not need you on this team, then.”

That brought me to my feet in a heartbeat. “No! But Delphyn, he—”

Exca laughed heartily. “That’s what I wanted to see! Now prepare; I will start attacking again. Fight back with all you have!”

All I had wasn’t much. Although I managed to dodge the much slower rocks he sent hurtling towards me, my fire soon dried up until I could barely cough out sparks. Exca didn’t let up, however, and forced me to dodge volley after volley of pointed stones until my arms hung limply at my sides and my tails dragged along the ground. As my chest was pelted with the sharp rocks, I only fell over, too tired to even care about the blood soaking my silver fur.

Fur. Two weeks ago I would have said “shirt”, because I would have been a regular human back then. Instead I’m a fox who stands on two legs and managed to get caught up in a world of combat and kidnapping… although I hoped that one time was a fluke. Still, now that there’s an entire organization of people who want me as a lab rat, it’s not like I could stop pushing myself to get stronger.

Exca looked down at me, his face darkened by the encroaching twilight. “So… you give up then? You wish to resign from Solar Flare?”

My heart sank. “No, I can… I can be strong enough…” I pushed against the ground with all my might in an attempt to stand, but my arms simply gave out again, driving the rocks stuck to my chest deeper into my flesh. I groaned half-heartedly. I felt smooth metal beneath me and suddenly I was standing, resting against Exca’s sturdy body.

Enraged, I pulled away from him with my newfound energy and began channeling a curse. My mind became filled with strange, arcane knowledge and with nothing but will alone I caused Exca’s claws to become heavier. Much, much heavier… I though with a sadistic grin. The mole yelped as he fell forward, the weight of his claws alone driving them deep into the soil. “Do not touch my tails!” I shouted.

And then my anger, my energy, and my knowledge faded away and I tumbled back to the ground in an exhausted heap of fur. “What in hell did you do?!” Exca shouted, struggling to stand.

After a moment of pushing through my haze of exhaustion, my reasoning returned. I just cursed Exca! “Oh, jeez, I am so sorry! You must have touched my tails when you lifted me up.” This time I gathered the energy to stand and make my way to him.

Exca glared at me. “I brush against a tail of yours and you make my claws too heavy to lift, pretending too you were out of energy? You have issues, friend!”

“It’s not like that, really!” I stammered. “Trust me, it’s an instinct that I can’t control.” I swung my tails around, and felt the soft fur covering them, instinctively revelling in their splendor while more consciously cursing their power. “When someone makes contact with my tails, I literally can’t help but… punish them for it, I guess. Something deep inside me says that they’re too sacred for other people to touch.” I quickly added, “Which makes no sense to me but I really just have to live with it, I’m sorry.”

“And so now I may not lift my claws because your instincts?” His muscles trembled as he succeeded in pulling his metal claws off the ground, but he soon gasped as he dropped them again.

“It’ll wear off over time, but I can remove it right now if I brush you with them again.”

“And this will not cause me to have another cursing?” he asked warily. “Will my teeth be too heavy next?”

“No, trust me on this; as long as I touch you with them rather than the other way around, I can remove the curse.” I stepped sideways beside him.

“Whatever, I would just appreciate moving again.”

As my tails lowered, they once more froze a few inches from his muddy fur.

“What are you waiting for?” Exca asked, not daring to move in case he would get cursed again. “Will you remove the curse or not?”

My instincts fought with me, insisting he deserved this and I shouldn’t get my tails any dirtier for nothing. I growled with frustration in a rather animal way. Bloodied fur, cursed tails, fox noises…!

“Stupid hybrid body!” I shouted, pushing my tails into his back. Before my instincts could resist again I willed with all my might to remove the curse and quickly pulled away.

Exca sighed with relief as he lifted his claws again and swung them back and forth. Seeing his relieved expression caused me to feel a flicker of regret deep inside… I had a feeling forgiving my next victim would come a little easier.

A flash of light signalled Matthew’s teleportation, causing Exca and me to jump. “Eon, I found you!” he exclaimed, soaring towards me with arms outstretched. He stopped just before me, however, eyeing the tails curled against my back with his big, blue eyes. I sighed, pulling my tails down to rest parallel to the ground. Matthew wasted no time in hugging me then, seemingly unaware of the blood on my chest.

“Are you done with your training? I hope so! It’s Friday night so I wanted to play Mario Kart with you and Kyu in Flare’s room!” His words came out rapid-fire, matching the tempo of his swinging tail.

“Oh, is he feeling better?” I asked, relieved. Whatever Flare’s Aura nuke did to his body, it took more out of him than the Healing Machines could fix and he’s been bedridden ever since.

“He can stand up now,” Matthew nodded emphatically as if my roommate had fully recovered. “So I wanted to surprise him with a video game party!”

I glanced to my side to see the sun had nearly set. “Um, let me make sure Delphyn doesn’t have anything else for me to do today first,” I said, making my way over to where Blaze had trained me earlier with Matthew close behind.

There I saw Delphyn and Blaze sparring, with the bird attempting to bring the fight into close combat while the fox used telekinesis to hold him back. Even if Delphyn lifted Blaze into the air, the moment Blaze touched any surface he immediately sprang free of the psychic power with what to me looked like sheer power. Delphyn nearly dodged a devastating kick that cratered the ground as I walked up. Both hybrids relaxed, gasping from their exertion.

“How can I help you, Eon? And who’s your friend?” Delphyn asked between breaths.

“I just wanted to know if there’s anything left for me to do before we call it a night; Matthew here wanted to hang out with me is all.”

“Oh, don’t worry about it, then,” Delphyn decided, sitting down on the grass. “We should all call it a night, really. Mind telling Exca?”

“Sure,” I said, looking around. Finally I spotted Bracken clutching those leaf blades of his. He moved through a variety of forms, taking swipes at imaginary foes all without losing a hint of composure.

My ears fell. All my teammates were so well-coordinated and powerful and I could only stand there and get bruised and broken, unless Exca went easy on me.

“You alright, Eon?” Delphyn asked, a concerned look falling over his vulpine face.

“Do you really want me this much? I mean… I’m so pathetic! Even when Exca went easy on me I didn’t stand a chance.”

“Oh, come on, it can’t be that bad! How inexperienced could you be?” Delphyn clapped my shoulder, looking directly to me with a confident expression.

How inexperienced could I be…?

“Matthew, Blaze, I’d like to speak to Delphyn alone for a moment.” Delphyn looked at me quizzically, but didn’t speak up.

Blaze nodded and sprinted away in a flash, and Matthew nodded. “Okay! I’ll go watch your Leafeon buddy, then; talk to me when you’re all ready to go!” He flew over a fair distance away to where Bracken twirled and slashed.

“What’s all this about, then?” Delphyn asked solemnly.

I sighed. “Can you promise me not to hate me after this?”

“Of course! Cross my heart!” Delphyn nodded emphatically. “So, what’s on your mind? You can tell me anything, trust me.”

“Up until about two weeks ago, I was a human.”

Delphyn was puzzled. “A human? But how?”

“Kyu, that other Ninetales cursed me to become a Ninetales too when I touched her tails. It’s a long story, but basically I’m stuck like this forever.”

“Don’t say ‘stuck like this’ like being a hybrid is a bad thing!” He snarled. I turned downtrodden, however, and his expression softened. “Sorry… I’ve got bad memories of humans.”

“So, do you hate me like other humans?”

“What? No! I mean, you’re not a human now, are you? Besides, my vision said I needed you and I trust my foresight.” He looked up into the darkening sky and took a deep breath. After a moment, he chuckled. “You know, that does explain your inexperience and complete lack of self-esteem… but worry not, Eon! I’m going to train you up even if I have to train twice as hard every day until the tournament begins!”

I looked to him in amazement. “Really? I’m still worth it even with… my human origins?”

He grinned. “Look; humans are awful and I hate just about all of them; never met a nice human in my life.” I started to object but quickly reasoned against it. “But you… even if your life up until now was less than ideal, I’ve never seen anyone try so hard in just two weeks! I mean, from zero to where you are now in 14 days? That’s kind of impressive, you have to admit.”

“Thanks, Delphyn,” I said, beaming. “But… please don’t tell anyone. I trust you because you’re my team leader, but Kyu said some of the other hybrids here would react poorly to my… you know, ‘being human once’ thing.”

“You bet! In fact…” he seemed to debate within himself for a moment. “Let me tell you a secret of mine as collateral.”

My ears perked up at that. “What is it?”

He glanced off behind me. I turned around to see Blaze with his arms folded, gazing off at the setting sun. Looking back, I saw a dreamy smile stretched across Delphyn’s face. “I love him,” he said softly.

“Who? Blaze?” My eyes widened.

“Yeah… Isn’t he just so cool and handsome? He always helps me out in my team leadership and he’s so quiet and kind and… yeah…” Delphyn sighed. “I love him with all my heart, Eon.” He gave me a wink. “And now we can both trust each other to keep our secrets. If I let it spill you were once human, you out me as gay, and vice versa!”

I took a moment to have that sink in. Then I nodded.

“Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, by the way. I haven’t told anyone that, and if Blaze knew I loved him so much, well…” he scratched the back of his head. “I don’t think he’d be on my team for much longer to be honest. So, any more secrets to share?”

I smiled. “No, that was it, really. How about you?”

“I’ll never tell,” he winked. “Have a nice night, Eon!”

“You too, Delphyn.”
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ParallelDimension75
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Sat Oct 24, 2015 2:06 am

Nice chapter! I loved reading it and the descriptions were so smooth and clear. The secret but felt a bit rushed with Delphyn's confession, but honestly the rest was done so well it doesn't matter.

Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:33 pm

I like the chapter a lot. I seriously got a lot of EonxBlaze and EonxDelphyn vibes and I'm inwardly cackling at the thought of either or both Blaze and Delphyn asking Eon to pretend to be with them to make the other jealous and Eon agreeing because of his own denial of and not to focus on his own love problems with Hope and Kyu~

It's got good training and attack descriptions, though I worry you're drawing out the whole training bit and all that too much. I think you should head to the tournament soon (maybe after a chapter or two), so that you're not drawing it out too much. I actually think the secret confession was fine, though I think when Eon actually confesses he was human that there should be some mention of hesitation on his part as well as some other nervous and worried-like emotion.

Good job overall!
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Sat Nov 14, 2015 7:37 am

Latios: I feel like this one might need work...

Chapter 12: Gratitude

A couple weeks later I trotted out to the training fields towards my team to find Delphyn sitting against a thick oak tree, his muzzle buried in his robe fur. Exca, Bracken, and Blaze were all looking similarly despondent. I frowned.

“Sorry I’m late, Delphyn. Is something the matter?”

Delphyn sighed and looked up at me. “How many hybrids are on our team?” he asked without emotion. That took me aback; Delphyn was always so energetic.

I nevertheless quickly counted up my team members. “Five?” I replied.

“And how many do we need for the tournament?” He wouldn’t even make eye contact, just slumping against the oak.

“Six, but we should be fine. We don’t have to sign up until November, right?” I grew uneasy. Something was definitely wrong.

“Oh, I wish,” Delphyn muttered. “No, they close tomorrow.”

For a moment the world ceased to exist as my brain took its time to process what Delphyn said. We don’t have enough team members, but we have no time left to find them. So… our campaign was already over. All that training for nothing.

I returned to reality to find my tails drooping and my jaw wide open. “Tomorrow? But… there’s gotta be someone!” I exclaimed. “There’s, what, two hundred students in our class? You can’t tell me there’s not a single person who wants to join us!”

“There’s not a single person who wants to join us,” Delphyn parroted spitefully. “They either have no interest, would synergize really poorly with the rest of us, or they’re already on another team. It doesn’t help that I’m a rookie captain, so my chances of winning are low anyway.”

I groaned, falling backwards on my tails. “All that work for nothing… I can’t believe it.”

“To see the bright side, this means we have more training days when the battles occur,” Exca said.

“Except that you really can’t do much better for training than actually battling another team,” Delphyn countered.

“Well, not if I ruin it all for you,” I grumbled. “Maybe I should be glad I have to wait a semester to fight; we’d just lose instantly because of me anyway.”

“I told you not to say that!” Delphyn snapped. “Your self-defeating attitude isn’t helping anyone, Eon!”

My ears fell back in shame. “Sorry… I don’t know what came over me.”

“I will admit that even the warm sun and soft grass isn’t enough for me today,” Bracken sighed. “Maybe tomorrow will be better.”

“I don’t see how,” Delphyn said. “It’s not like we’re going to magically get a teammate between now and then.”

“Hey, what was that about being self-defeating?” I retaliated.

“Do you see any way to find someone I glossed over?” He growled low in his throat.

“I thought that was your job, O mighty team captain!” His growling seemed to make my blood boil. Stupid fox instincts.

“Delphyn, Eon,” Blaze said simply, standing between us. In response I realized that I was directing my frustration at Delphyn when he didn’t deserve it. He really had tried his best, even if he couldn’t find anyone to join our team.

“I’d like to join your team,” a soft voice above me said.

Startled, I scrambled to my paws to see it was Hope made the offer. How long had he been there? He had a habit of suddenly showing up to places, but still! Overwhelmed with gratitude, I threw myself in his arms and hugged him tightly. And as he hugged me back with his gentle embrace, I felt something deep in my heart. It was rather similar to how I felt around Kyu… My ears perked up. Could I really…?

“Oh my god, are you serious?!” Delphyn exclaimed, leaping to his paws. Hope was yanked away from me as Delphyn grabbed his arms and stared him down. The Absol let out an involuntary whimper at the roughness, but nodded.

Something suddenly clicked. “Wait, really, Hope?” I asked, furrowing my brow. “You couldn’t even fight those Plasmid guys! What makes you think you can beat up your friends?”

Hope looked to me with a slight smile. My heart quickened on its own. “You’re not the only one who’s trying to improve, Eon,” he explained. “I know I failed that night. I know I need to be able to protect my friends, even if it means hurting others. So I thought I would help you out at the same time!”

“Hold on, hold on,” Delphyn interrupted. “Can you fight, Hope?”

“I was hoping you and Eon could teach me,” Hope replied sheepishly. It was rather cute of him, honestly.

Delphyn didn’t respond for a moment. Then he blinked. Finally he grinned and shook his head. “First Eon, now you? Fine, whatever. Let’s just hope you’re as quick on the uptake as he’s been.”

“I can vouch for him, kinda,” I spoke up. “He’s really strong; I’ve watched him slice tranquilizer darts in half out of the air. he just doesn’t like hurting people.”

Delphyn looked back to Hope and raised his eyebrows. The Absol only smiled.

***

I sighed, relaxing in the couch in my dorm’s living room. I was half-listening to a TV show that I kept turned down for Flare as he studied, but mostly I kept thinking about Hope. I thought about his soft, white fur, his gentle embrace, his smile… I replayed over and over those moments that showed how caring he was, when he broke into my dorm to try to save Flare, the way he protected us in that non-violent way on our rescue mission, and even when he saved the day today by joining our team.

Speaking of, while he couldn’t yet be coaxed into sparring with any of us, he destroyed several Bracken’s wooden training dummies so fast Delphyn had to close his mouth several times before his jaw stopped dropping. We all officially signed up after that. We were finally in the tournament! All my training had finally paid off!

Still, as I thought of him, I contemplated the feeling that accompanied these thoughts. This feeling, I confirmed, was love. I had fallen in love with him. But I thought I loved Kyu! Sure enough, thinking of her bright smile, cheerful demeanor, and all the ways she’s helped me adapt to this new life made my heart flutter as well.

But who should I pick? They were both so friendly and kind and attractive. Should I even choose between them, or would I find myself always thinking about the other when I should be focusing on the one I chose?

A sudden rush of perspective reminded me that I was trying to choose between dating a vixen and… well, I guess he looks sort of like a wolf. Wait ‘til Mom hears about this.

I suddenly felt a pang of guilt. While Mom lived nearby in an apartment Darck provided, I hadn’t called or Skyped her since I transformed. She didn’t know I had signed up for the tournament or risked my life to save Flare… hopefully she’s not worried sick. Well, of course she is; she’s my mom.

I got distracted by a faint whiff of a familiar smell. My canid nose did have the benefit of keeping track of almost everything and everyone I met, and through my open window came Hope’s dog-like musk. I looked out the window to see him jogging towards the campus fields. My heart pounding, I resolved then to go after him and confirm whether my feelings towards him were more than just a fleeting emotion.

I turned off the television and made my way outside to the park, tracking Hope’s scent as it tangled more and more with… Kyu’s… What could they be doing together? Training? Studying? What if, by some incredible coincidence, both of the hybrids I loved to were already in a relationship? I grinned at that.

As I caught up to them, it became clear that both of the hybrids I loved were already in a relationship. Hope was enswathed in Kyu’s tails as they both sat on a park bench, his head against her shoulder. From a distance I picked up on their conversation with my sensitive ears.

“You’ll be okay, Hope,” Kyu said comfortingly.

“You don’t know that… I can sense your worry,” Hope replied in an unsure voice.

Kyu scoffed. “Fine, I’m trying to convince myself too. But really, love, I have faith in you. Why not just try sparring lightly with Eon next time? Start gentle and work your way up over this next month.”

I wasn’t sure whether to be jealous that Kyu wasn’t cuddling me with her beautiful tails or that I wasn’t cuddling Hope with my beautiful tails. This was such a confusing feeling…

“Eon...?” Kyu called, pulling her tails off of Hope and standing. She looked guilty

I walked up to the couple and waved hello, trying to act casual despite my thumping heart. Kyu’s pulse was rather audible as well. Hope frowned, looking contemplative. His heartbeat was mellow by comparison.

“So, um, I…” Kyu stammered uncertainly. She scratched her ears, refusing to make eye contact.

“I’ll just be frank, then. I’ve…” Why was this so hard to say? I had a feeling it wouldn’t matter in any case, so holding onto that thought I managed to finish, “I’ve had feelings for both of you.”

“Eon, I,” Kyu continued to falter. “I…” She cleared her throat. “Eon, you’re a very attractive fox. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt my heart leap whenever I saw you.” My emotions were ripped further apart. She loved me back? Really? But then again… “But I’m already in a relationship with Hope, so… I can’t be with you. I’m so sorry.” I knew it.

An uncomfortable silence followed. I felt my heart starting to crack, and trying to convince myself that they were both happy together wasn’t helping. I just wished with all my heart I could be with one of them, just for a little while…

“Why not?” Hope suddenly said, eyes widening with some realization. He sat up straighter on the bench.

“Hope, I can’t just leave you,” Kyu said, growing distraught.

“You don’t have to,” Hope said softly, eyes darting back and forth. “Kyu, you love me and Eon, right?”

“Yes…” Kyu replied slowly.

“And Eon, you say you’re attracted to both Kyu and myself?”

I looked at Kyu and my heart soared. I turned to Hope and my heart melted. Finally I nodded.

“And I love you both too.”

“Really?” Kyu said, surprised.

“Yes, I do. I love you with all my heart, Kyu, but Eon… well, I like him too.” He smiled, looking shy.

“Hold on, hold on,” Kyu interrupted. “You’re telling me you’re both bi?!”

Hope nodded, beaming.

I shrugged. “I really don’t know. Maybe I’m straight and it’s just Hope. ...Maybe I’m gay and it’s just you. Or maybe I am bi. I just don’t know.”

Kyu seemed at a loss for words.

“But what do you mean by I can be with Kyu?” I asked.

“If we all love each other, why can’t we all be together in one big relationship?” Hope’s blade-like tail began to wag.

I raised an eyebrow. “A three-way relationship? How does that even work?”

“It’s easy!” Hope exclaimed, standing. “I love you and Kyu with all my heart, you love Kyu and I with all your heart, and Kyu loves you and me with all her heart!”

“You can’t do that,” Kyu insisted. “You can’t give all your heart to both of us.”

“Why not? Who said love is a finite resource?”

“I…” Her eyes darted back and forth. Finally she sighed in resignation. “This can’t work,” Kyu nevertheless insisted.

“There’s a reason everyone and everything in nature pairs up,” I commented. “It’s natural, isn’t it?”

“Neither are phones or park benches, but I just sat on one!” Hope countered.

“A phone or a bench?” Kyu snickered.

Hope pouted. “Kyu, I’m serious about this! It can work out, I’m sure! I don’t sense anything wrong with this course of action.”

Kyu widened her eyes. “Well… why don’t we both go on a date with Eon?” My pulse quickened. “That way we can be sure there’s no better pairing between us three.”

Hope chuckled. “Come on, Kyu, I know you agree with me.”

Kyu seemed flustered. “Well, I…” She took a deep breath. “I just want to be absolutely sure we all love each other before we jump into this. I mean, what will our friends think? We have to be ready to face that, you know.”

“I think that’s a great idea, Kyu,” Hope replied. “And don’t worry; we can handle whatever people say if we stay together.”

“Kyu, would you like to date me first?” I blurted out. I was immediately overcome with embarrassment at how practiced that sounded. I blushed all over.

“Aww, Eon,” Kyu cooed, stepping forward to wrap her tails all around me. Hope then pulled us both into a hug, and all together we enjoyed one another’s company.

Inwardly, my mind was racing. All in the span of ten minutes I had learned both Kyu and Hope loved each other, that both of them loved me, and that I just got a date with both of them! And now we were going to be in one big three-way relationship? How could this possibly end well?

Still, Kyu’s tails and Hope’s chest were so soft and warm and both of them seemed so happy… So I smiled, bringing my tails around to surround them both.
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ParallelDimension75
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:06 pm

All of them love one another? Ha, now that is idealistic, even for you.
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Sat Nov 14, 2015 8:33 pm

Is... that a bad thing? >_>
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PostSubject: Re: IPI Feedback   Sat Nov 14, 2015 9:15 pm

Can be. In this case I read that bit and was just like 'Well, that worked out perfectly.' It felt a bit... well... contrived, to put it indelicately.
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