Chapter 76: Bureaucratic Attacks

on March 30, 2012 in Volume 2 Book 3: Figments & Fragments, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which One Door Closes And Another One Opens

I spent the time between my hazards class and my last class of the day reviewing the past two days’ bouts in my head, trying to visualize what I’d done… what had worked and what hadn’t. Coach Callahan had given me two days to try out new things without consequences, and today she’d put them to the test.

If I could impress her, she’d offer me a chance to get the extra credit I’d need for an A. If not, I’d get the grade she thought I deserved. Her grading was arbitrary and subjective, but I couldn’t say in so many words that it was unfair. I wasn’t an A fighter, and I never would be.

But I needed to be an A student. I needed an A in this class.

Coach Callahan was leaning against the door to the salle when I got there. A number of the other students were milling around in the hall.

“Can’t go in there yet,” she said. “Some wand-necked parchment-pusher thinks my modifications to the red mockbox might be violating some basic fundamental something or other, so some jackass from maintenance has an enchanter, a diviner, and an illusionist going over it now.”

I knew that Callahan’s teaching methods brushed up against the limits of what the school considered to be acceptable… if she had her way, it would be literal survival of the fittest… but it was hard to see why her customized mockbox would be singled out. The changes she’d had made to the red one gave it maximum realism when it came to pain and damage, but the effects reset them faster

Even though the bell hadn’t sounded yet, I found myself annoyed at even the prospect of a delay. Maybe it was a sign of my growing maturity that I saw this as an inconvenience rather than a lucky break. More likely it was just the fact that this was my day to prove myself, and I would have less than an hour to do so. I was predisposed to resent anything that cut into that time.

“What, they couldn’t look at your class schedule first?” I asked.

“I’m sure they did,” she said. “This is what an attack looks like, when you’re a bureaucrat.”

“What are you going to do if they shut it down?”

“They won’t,” Callahan said. “You think I never learned how to cover my ass, Frybaby? I didn’t do the modifications myself. The whole thing had to be submitted and approved before anybody would touch it. Anyway, there are standard mockboxes in there for my other classes. If they haul away the red one… class goes on. It just doesn’t go quite as smoothly. And then I lodge a complaint with the vice-chancellor.”

I shuddered at the mention of Embries. I couldn’t help it.

“Either way, you’ll get the chance I promised you,” she said.

“It seems like you’re getting singled out a lot this year,” I said.

“I’ve always had enemies wherever I go,” she said. “When I joined the faculty here, I got people who think they’re my enemies, though they don’t really know the meaning of the word. Part of the problem is our beloved chancellor wanting to put a fine polish on this gleaming turd of a school before she kisses it goodbye, it makes her care more about the complaints. But it isn’t just that. It’s not my enemies…”

The door beside her opened, and she stepped back. A burly-looking guy in orange robes stepped out, followed by a group of three wizards who were in close conference with each other. The three followers stopped talking and shrank back when they saw the look on Coach Callahan’s face. She ignored them, though, and addressed the foreman.

“Oh, good… can I have my salle back now?” she said.

“Sure,” he said. “Just as soon as I get a crew out here to haul out the suspect boxes.”

“There are a lot of things wrong with that sentence but I’m going to start with the plural at the end of it,” Callahan said. “You were sent here to check out a box. One box. The red one. The only one I’ve had reconfigured. It’s hard to miss, because it’s red.”

“Oh? You sign my work orders now?” he said. “Listen, we checked out the other boxes to get a baseline comparison and they all show the same issue.”

“What the fuck issue is that?”

“It’s hard to pin down,” the man said. “Which is why we have to take them in to where we can give them a real going-over.”

“What the hell have you been doing for the last twenty minutes?”

“Giving them a preliminary going-over,” he said. “Which told us that the issue is something that’s hard to pin to down.”

“But what, exactly. is the issue?”

“We’ll know it when we find it,” he said.

Callahan’s whole body began to shake, except for her right arm which remained absolutely still at her side. Her face… it would be hard to describe what happened with her face. It was like watching an animated character going off-model briefly as part of a poorly drawn reaction take. She was basically the size and shape of a human, but she’d arrived at that point by taking the long way around.

Seeing it left the foreman flummoxed long enough for her to regain a bit of control.

“Hang on,” she said to him. “Those boxes are property of the university athletics and armaments department, and they are not to be removed from this building without proper authorization.”

“Are you nuts? I have authorization. I am authorization.”

“Yeah?” she said. “Show me.”

Wordlessly, he thrust a stack of forms into her outstretched hand.

“Where does it say in here that you can take the other boxes?” she asked.

“You can read,” he said.

“I already know that it doesn’t say jack or shit about the other boxes and I suspect there’s nothing in here about removing the red one,” Callahan said. “You’re just hoping that sheer administrative magic will be enough to transform a pile of papers into a general right to do whatever the fuck pleases you. Well, I say you’re a thief, and if you don’t want me to treat you like one, you need to prove you aren’t.”

The small crowd in the hallway had already fallen silent, but this was the point where things got really quiet… nobody was moving, nobody was breathing, nobody was thinking.

The three assistants looked like they would really like to be somewhere else, but none of them quite dared to be the first one to move.

The foreman looked her up and down, really taking in the muscles of her arms and the gold pommel of the sword she wore on her back. Was it possible that anyone who worked for the school even on a contract basis didn’t know who Coach Callahan was? Maybe he’d heard stories but didn’t quite know what to believe.

The bell rang.

“Fine,” he said. “Fine! I’ll be back with an authorization to remove the equipment. In the meantime, I’m removing the authorization to use this room. Potentially unsafe conditions.” He turned to one of the squirming wizards. “I want a seal on that door, maximum warding, with retribution and silent alarm.”

“I… I… we’re not actually allo…”

“Fine, I’ll do it myself then,” the foreman said. “Everybody stand clear.”

Callahan remained where she was, but the wizards who’d apparently failed to find anything wrong with the mockboxes took the opportunity to clear out completely. The foreman closed the door and then made a big show of tracing seal runes onto it with his thumb. The outline of the double doors and all their hardware glowed orange for a moment, and then the glow faded. He took a rod off his belt and pointed it at the middle of the door, and a sign appeared indicating that the room was closed for necessary maintenance.

“There, and I hope you’re dumb enough to try to open it,” he said. “There’s going to be an inquest, and it’ll go hard for you if you try to force the seal… that is, if there’s anything left to discipline.”

Callahan said nothing. She’d remained still as a statue since he announced his decision to seal the door, her face betraying nothing.

Could the foreman really be so stupid? He was stupid enough to pick a fight with Callahan, but it was hard to believe he could have spent twenty minutes in the room and overlook such a crucial fact… but then he hitched up his belt and swaggered away.

I let out a breath, and I wasn’t the only one.

“Did you piss off someone in the maintenance department?” I asked Coach Callahan.

“Only because I’m not allowed to piss on them. Anymore. But this wasn’t about me,” she said. She turned and walked past a bulletin board to the one of other two sets of doors into the wide salon and opened it. “Okay, class… important safety tip for the day: make sure don’t use the middle doors when you leave. Time’s a-wasting.”

The class filed in through the two un-warded sets of doors. Though there was some hesitation at the ones that Callahan hadn’t opened first, they proved to be passable. The coach went straight to the red mockbox and ripped the bright yellow tape that had been wrapped around it off.

“Let’s get going, people,” she said. “We’re already burning daylight. Pair off as you mock your weapons and begin sparring. Do best of three falls and then switch partners. Today’s an evaluation day. Show me what you’ve learned, show me what you can do… if you’re doing what you’re supposed to, you won’t know when or if I’m watching you, so give it your best the whole time.”

I would have liked a few minutes to get myself centered on fighting again after watching the drama in the hall, but I didn’t begrudge Callahan wanting to get to it. I’d wanted the same thing. I took the time I had while I was in line for the mockbox to try to review my plans in my head one more time.

She wanted to see me doing something more than powering through my opponents’ defenses… well, I’d practiced things like feints and rapid direction changes to get around them instead. I assumed she would still want to see me winning, so if if I had the choice between knocking the hell out of an opponent or taking a lethal hit I’d lash out. The name of the game was self-preservation, after all… I just needed to show her that I was open to all options.

I got lucky in that my first opponent was someone I hadn’t yet fought extensively with. He had a two-handed sword with a big spiky crossguard and pommel… not the most nimble of weapons. I got him down on the mat by tripping him up as he came forward, and then took him out of the fight with a quick thump to the chest. I might have had a hard time making it “fatal” without the demon-strength behind it, but I wasn’t necessarily supposed to be pretending I was weak. I had a clear shot and I took it.

My practice the past two days had taught me the folly of trying the exact same trick twice in a row… in an actual fight to the death, of course, that would probably be a moot point, but I had to come up with something new. I decided to start by trying the same thing anyway, because it made for a plausible feint… it had worked well enough the first time, right?

My opponent didn’t lower his sword, though, he just stepped back sharply. Okay, so it was going to be a bit trickier. He was being a lot warier of my weapon’s longer reach. I adjusted my grip towards the center, from aggressive to defensive… it was probably obvious that I was baiting him to come in closer, but he took it.

We went through a couple passes, him coming on swinging and me mostly trying to slip inside the arc of his blade rather than swatting it aside. We both got a glancing blow or two in. Then our legs happened to collide, and I took the opportunity to try to trip him the old-fashioned way. It wasn’t a move I’d ever practiced or even tried to do on purpose, and we both went down.

There are some advantages to having a blunt, round weapon. It hurts a lot less to fall on it from a height of three or four feet. Having the hilt of his sword lodged in his stomach wasn’t enough to trip the red, but apparently the virtual damage he did pulling it out was.

That was two out of three to me, so we moved on to our next opponents.

I tried not to over rely on the tripping thing, because part of the point was to show versatility… but the other part of the point was to do what worked, and it did work. Plus, like the coach had said, she wouldn’t be watching any one fighter for the whole class.

“Keep fighting until the bell,” Callahan said, near the end of the session. “And watch what door you go out through.” She positioned herself near the middle doors. As much as it would probably amuse her to watch someone walk into an aggressive ward, I could imagine she had feelings about letting someone else harm her students when she wasn’t allowed to. She’d happily make her classes more hazardous if she could get away with it, but a random death by door wasn’t part of the lesson plan.

I didn’t finish the day with anything like a perfect record, but I had the feeling of having done well… not “I did great” so much as “I did it”, period… I got it done. I dispelled my phantasmal weapon when the bell rang and headed over to Coach Callahan so I could find out if she agreed.

I had exactly enough gumption to walk up to her but not quite enough to be the first one to speak. She looked at me and nodded once.

“Okay, here’s the deal,” she said. “Starting next week, you’re going to be fighting gladiators. Not the best of the best in terms of skill, but the ones like you… the special cases, the ones who can get by on brute strength or other power and who’ve never had to learn how to be better than good. I can pit them against each other, but there are only so many combinations. Throwing another person into the mix can only make things better.”

“I have to beat trained gladiators now?”

“As fast as you can,” the coach said. “That’s your goal. That’s always your goal. Some of them I’m going to give different instructions to… because otherwise there wouldn’t be a fight. If one of them needs to work on control, I might tell her to hit you as many times as she can without ending the fight.”

“I thought you didn’t like games,” I said. “You don’t want us learning lessons that won’t apply when we’re in a fight for our lives.”

“Believe me, from your point of view you will still be in a fight for your life,” she said. “The whole point of this exercise… at least as it applies to you… is to give you a scenario that credibly challenges you.”

I suddenly remembered some of the people that Callahan had in her gladiator stable. Pala the storm giant, for instance… she would definitely qualify as a “special case”, and in fact Callahan had used her in an attempt to level the playing field in at least one bout last year.

She was also probably one of the last people I’d want to play a game of who-can-hit-the-lightest with.

“Now, I told you that if you impressed me I’d give you a chance to earn extra credit,” she said.

“Fighting your gladiators isn’t that?” I said.

“No,” she said. “That’s just to make sure you’re actually working for your regular grade. I’m just trying to put you on the same level as the rest of the class. For extra credit, you’re going to have to go above and beyond and do something completely different, and you’re going to have to do it on your own time outside of class.”

“What?” I asked.

“Fight gladiators,” she said.

“But you said… oh,” I said as realization caught up with my mouth.

“That’s the only offer you’re going to get from me, and you can take or leave it,” she said. “I’m not going to do anything for you I won’t do for anyone else who qualifies. You don’t have to join the stable… and at this point I wouldn’t take you… but every open match you participate in will add a bit to your final score.”

“How many do I need to get an A?”

“That depends on the rest of the year,” she said. “And how you do in the arena. Don’t worry, though… you will get the grade you deserve.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of,” I said. “Are you worried about the ‘inquest’?”

“No,” she said. “Because the worst thing they could do is fire me, and they know it. You should watch your back, though.”

“Me?” I said, as some of the things Callahan had said caught up with me. “This was aimed at me?”

“It would be one hell of a lame bankshot if it was,” she said. “It wasn’t aimed at you, it was aimed at me… but it seems like a number of people who’ve taken your side one time or another are getting targetted. I’m not worried. This is barely an inconvenience. But from the way you kids bitch, I get the feeling it doesn’t take much to fuck up a school year.”

Maybe I should have been surprised at the thought of an organized campaign against me, but I wasn’t. I didn’t even have to think very hard about who might be orchestrating it. It was just possible that someone in the school administration had decided on their own to give me some kind of quiet pushback, but that didn’t seem likely… not while Ariadne was around.

True, it was a completely different M.O. than she’d shown in the letter to Acantha, but Acantha had no previous connection to me. Maybe she’d taken a different tack because she’d expected sympathy from another elf.

Maybe it was just wishful thinking on my part, the desire to not have one more enemy in my life. I didn’t have any evidence that Ariadne had anything to do with Coach Callahan’s bureaucratic difficulties, but if she was right about a larger conspiracy I hoped it was Ariadne, because I had evidence I could bring to bear against her and hopefully stop any further persecution.

If there was someone else out there who had it in for me… I didn’t want to think about what that would mean.

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54 Responses to “Chapter 76: Bureaucratic Attacks”

  1. Zathras IX says:

    Anyone who would
    Choose to make Callahan an
    Enemy is baaaaad

    Current score: 3
    • Oniwasabi says:

      Bad is not the word you are looking for. Stupid, suicidal, insane. Much better words.

      Current score: 1
      • Kaila says:

        Mad. The other options have too many syllables.

        Zathras does haiku, silly.

        Current score: 2
        • jc says:

          Maybe “dumb” would work (though that does have the problem of having another, inappropriate meaning). Does English have a good one-syllable word for suicidal?

          Current score: 0
          • Xi says:

            I vote for the word ‘Insane’ because clearly they have something against all processes of common sense which prevents them from considering safer less painful options, like telling Emberies they want to try being a dragon snack.

            Insane. is a good word this. Though it is still 2 syllables.

            Current score: 0
            • zeel says:

              Mad is the correct word. As Mad actually is synonymous with insane. Also one syllable.

              From Google Define:
              1. Mentally ill; insane: “he felt as if he were going mad”.
              2. (of a person, conduct, or an idea) Extremely foolish or ill-advised: “he had some mad idea”.

              Current score: 0
            • DarkSage says:

              Or going to a dog fight wearing a meat-suit on a warm day.

              Current score: 0
        • Zukira Phaera says:

          Well, any of the mentioned words would fit if it was Ariadne anyway.

          Jill does have a point about collateral damage around Mack.

          Current score: 0
        • Marx says:

          The fact that Z is using italics for the words ‘choose’ and ‘bad’ tells me there’s a wordplay afoot here, or possibly a reference to something I can’t quite put my finger on. I mean, Z does have a good enough grasp of the english language to know when to use which words, right? 😉

          Addendum: Why I think there’s something more to that haiku? I’ve never seen a haiku where Z did use italics; this is the first i’ve seen with them.

          Current score: 0
  2. Scott Simmons says:

    Or stuuuupid.

    Current score: 0
  3. pedestrian says:

    Yaay!! Another posting by Alexandra, another miasma of clues to puzzle through. Yaay!!

    Thinking about the seemingly disconnected events of the teleporter interference, the poisoning, the break-ins, the missing pitchfork of awfulness, this latest round of flapper/functionary irritations, I am suspecting that Demon Daddy is actually on campus.

    Perhaps as an employee or student. Perhaps possessing/corrupting others to do his dirty work. I have been suspicious for some time now, of the floor aide, Kiersta?. She has keys/access/knowledge and is always unavailable to prevent trouble but always available to make a bad situation even worse for Our Mack.

    I was wondering if anyone else is as paranoid about these events as I am?

    “Paranoia is your friend, pay attention to him!”
    -I don’t remember who wrote it but I quote it often-

    Current score: 0
    • nemka says:

      I wouldn’t rule out ‘the Man’ being around and screwing with things. It seems to be his favored method. But Kiersta? She’s not even relevant anymore since they left Harlow and I doubt she’s anyone’s RA now, and even for last year, she came across as more desperate/angry/scared/blindingly stupid than cog in the maniacle machine.

      I dunno, I just feel like the man has higher standards of indecency.

      Current score: 0
      • pedestrian says:

        Kudos Nemka;

        “higher standards of indecency’

        Great turn of phrase!

        Fighting trained and/or experienced gladiators?
        Mackenzie…..welcome to the Sharkcat tank.

        Current score: 0
      • fka_luddite says:

        I’m quite sure Kiersta isn’t anyone’s RA now – she was a senior last year.

        Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      I don’t think Kiersta would/could do it.

      1. She is scared shitless of non humans
      2. She may vary well no longer be at MU, she needed the RA position to pay tuition
      3. She certainly does not have enough power for this kind of thing.

      As for father D:

      1. Disrupting her fighting class seems counterproductive
      2. He would need to be very involved with the school to pull off such a stunt
      3. Doesn’t seem like his style

      However, there are others that wish her harm (an Callahan) for instance Puddy.

      1. Motive against both Mackenzie and Callahan
      2. Mad enough to try it
      3. Her family must have some pull with the university, given the number of them that attend it. And there are probably some among the faculty.

      Current score: 0
      • Ducky says:

        Puddy still thinks of herself as Mack’s friend, though. I can’t see her risking disrupting Callahan’s class, either.

        Current score: 0
        • zeel says:

          I don’t know that she considers herself that, she just claims it.

          Current score: 0
      • Marx says:

        You forgot to include Mur-Si (or ‘Mercy’) in the list of enemies there. After all, she’s still interested in acquiring a new ‘pet’, isn’t she?
        How that ‘attack’ would help further her goals, I don’t know though.

        Current score: 0
        • Kevin Brown says:

          Mercy and Callahan actually are enemies however and as Callahan intends to kill Mercy on their next meeting (or was it that Mercy intended to kill Callahan) I don’t think she’s the time to use bureaucracy.

          Current score: 0
  4. squidsinger says:

    “The changes she’d had made to the red one gave it maximum realism when it came to pain and damage, but the effects reset them faster”

    Is this supposed to end mid-sentence like that? Or, typo’d? Or stolen by a dragon?

    Current score: 0
  5. That one guy says:

    She’s going to end up fighting Ian. If she wins, will that take the wind out of Ian’s domineering? Or will that make it better for him? What will Callahan think of Mackenzie’s reaction, either way?

    Current score: 0
    • Rin says:

      I think (though I’ll admit I’m not 100% sure) that Ian quit the gladiator thing already.

      Current score: 0
    • Corven says:

      Nah, I don’t think thats gonna happen. Even if Ian still was a gladiator, he hardly is one of the “special cases” with super-strength or super-speed etc.

      Current score: 1
      • Dzen says:

        He is still a special case in that he represents a uncommon obstacle for fighters; someone with whom Mack has a deep emotional attachment.

        Current score: 1
  6. William Carr says:

    At the standoff, I was really expecting some student to silently wave everybody else back, and step a pace backward, shaking his/her head.

    After all, you don’t want to get blood spatter all over your clean clothes.

    Current score: 0
  7. chalmyr says:

    i was waiting for the moment where mackenzie’s opponents failed to get back up again, i was worried that the mock boxes had been tampered with, and the door thing had been an elaborate show. i was unable to stop holding my breath until the end of the chapter >.<

    Current score: 0
  8. Morten says:

    Ian fought in the unarmed class. I doubt she would be fighting in the unarmed class. Being able to punch through stone walls.

    Current score: 0
    • Rafinius says:

      Can anyone remeber the chapter where she punched through the wall. I feel like re-reading it.

      Current score: 0
      • Jennifer says:

        Current score: 0
      • Stonefoot says:

        Well, technically, she didn’t punch through the wall, although she certainly did some major damage. (And it was well worth re-reading.) Also, it was cinder-block, not that she couldn’t have punched a hole in a stone wall, it just wouldn’t have been as large (if she only hit it once).

        And Jennifer, thanks for the link.

        Current score: 0
  9. Readaholic says:

    Om nom nom!
    I wonder if the foreman is only pretending to be stupid enough to miss the other doors. That way, Callahan has less reason to kill him, and he can claim to The Powers That Be that he sealed off the Salle.

    My guesses for who is behind this – Ariadne, or her general agitation; Mercy, trying to get Mackenzie in her power; Khersian bigots in general, possibly also The Man.

    I can’t see Puddy behind this, I really don’t think she has the push or the will.

    Current score: 0
  10. Renshan says:

    Perhaps some people (Khersians or others) dislike the idea of a halfdemon training with – probably – one of the best fighting teachers in a class centered on offensive fighting technique.

    Current score: 0
    • pedestrian says:

      I would think that the militant religious orders want Mackenzie available as a straw-dog for training paladin wanna-bees.

      Reading over all these posted hypothesis…. great, something else to flog my paranoia into overdrive!

      Current score: 0
    • Stonefoot says:

      The more I think about this, the more it seems that this would really make Ariadne paranoid. Er, more paranoid.

      Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      If the “attack” was more directly aimed at Callahan, I would be more inclined to accept the possibility of Khersian involvement; they can’t be very pleased with a known deicide on staff.

      Current score: 0
  11. Lunaroki says:

    The only way this makes any sense as The Man’s doing is if he is trying to subtly incentivize Mack to want to fight, otherwise it’s simply counter-productive. As for Puddy, there’s just no way I can see her pulling something so indirect. If she wanted to get back at Mack she’d get back at her, not cause her annoying inconveniences. Similarly I can’t see this being Mercy’s doing. Simply too inefficient at getting the job done. Ariadne, however, fits the profile rather nicely. Still, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find this is some other enemy we either forgot about or don’t know about yet.

    Typo Report

    “Okay, class… important safety tip for the day: make sure * don’t use the middle doors when you leave.

    While it might be OK as is, I find myself thinking there should be a “you” before “don’t”.

    so if if I had the choice between knocking the hell out of an opponent or taking a lethal hit I’d lash out.

    Double “if” after “so”.

    Current score: 0
    • Lyssa says:

      I agree with your assessment. Neither The Man, Mercy, nor Puddy make much sense for it. Ariadne’s kind of haphazard in how she handles things, expects sympathies based on race, and could very well not remember Callahan much at all (non-elf, “new” in comparison to her tenure).

      Current score: 0
  12. Month says:

    Sounds like someone new as an enemy. We have a letter attack by Ariadne, but this is not her MO. Ariadne targets the students and not the teachers, that is what she showed us last year. The two attacks are, kind of, intertwined. So someone is organizing them. We only have to wait to see what will happen to professor Bohd and professor Goldman, to figure out the one behind the attacks.

    Current score: 0
    • erratio says:

      Neither Bohd or Goldman are still teaching Mackenzie. Try Prof Stone and/or the gnome teacher(whose name I can’t remember at the moment due to gnome unnoticeability)

      Current score: 0
      • erianaiel says:

        True, but those other two were actively helping Mackenzie last year. This burocractic attack (if it is what Callahan assumes) is aimed at making teachers hostile towards Mackenzie. Perhaps hoping to make her feel unwelcome enough to leave on her own.

        If so, it is a bit on the very subtle side indeed. Unless there is going to be a blackmail letter doing the rounds with the professors, but I can not imagine a university letting something like that quietly slip past. For one thing it would totally destroy their credibility in the Mackenzie versus Magisterus University that is still waiting for arbitration…

        Current score: 0
  13. pedestrian says:

    –Nobody Expects The Spanish Inquisition!–

    Current score: 0
  14. That Dave Guy says:

    Finally caught up! Woot!

    Oh, wait, that means I have to wait now =

    Current score: 1
  15. Alluvial says:

    I presume we will see her paired with Puddy in the future, what with all the mixed blood she claims to have.

    Current score: 0
    • Stonefoot says:

      That could be really interesting. Puddy is actually stronger than Mackenzie, but she can’t hurt her (actual physical damage, that is).

      Current score: 1
      • Lyssa says:

        Wait, is she stronger than Mackenzie? I know she’s hella strong, but I cannot remember how strong. I should re-read that fight of hers maybe.

        Current score: 0
        • JN says:

          The working theory is that Puddy has a faerie blessing to be the strongest person in the room. In fact, it’s probably multiplicative. Callahan commented that she was by far the strongest person in the arena matches that Mack attended, and Embries was there.

          Current score: 0
    • Cadnawes says:

      I figure that will happen, too. It would also potentially allow Callahan to get back at Puddy for probably cheating that one time.

      Current score: 0
  16. Zukira Phaera says:

    Anyone else wondering what happened to Dobbs?

    1. Doesn’t like Mack
    2. Unless I’m having a bit of “sometimers” he’s possibly missing this year?

    Did he get sacked?

    He’d know about the boxes from previous years so he could drop a hint, especially if he wanted to exact some revenge, might not even know Mack’s in the class.

    Current score: 0
    • Lyssa says:

      Oh, man, which one was he?

      Current score: 0
      • fka_luddite says:

        Callahan’s student aide in Mixed Melee.

        Current score: 0
  17. Ermarian says:

    If one of them needs to work on control, I might tell her to hit you as many times as she can without ending the fight.

    And that one might be named Puddy, by any chance?

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  18. Erm says:

    Mack said Puddy was stronger than her. Whether she actually is is anyone’s guess (Mack’s the definition of unreliable narrator sometimes), but Puddy did overpower her regularly. It may have been ingrained fear and deliberate holding back, or it may have been pure strength.

    Current score: 0
    • Sher says:

      I think Puddy in’t stronger than Mack. It was only once, when she was cheating in the arena during the gladiator fights. Outside of that occasion, I think I remember Mack saying something about being stronger.

      Current score: 0