2020-06-29 - Sister Schools Joint Exercise: Jogging

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Sister Schools Joint Exercise: Jogging

Another semester, another joint class attended by students from all three Sister Schools. This year it's phys ed; the first class is held at Ohtori, and run by Midori and Fumi.


Yuzuki Mayuzumi, Kozue Kaoru, Utena Tenjou, Fuu Hououji, Yumi Ohzora, Mikoto Minagi, Niramo Umokeshi, Kasagami Araki

GM: Pink Moon Stick


Ohtori Academy

OOC - IC Date:

6/29/2020 - 09-09-15

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Ohtori Academy (#284) +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+
  The ivory crown on the brow of Southern Cross Island, Ohtori Academy is       
  separated from the world by more than just water. Outside, education can be   
  a luxury. Within this white-walled compound, education is /luxurious/.        
  Marble colonnades spring up like fountain spouts, scarlet flowers drench      
  every free surface. The architecture is at once daringly art deco and         
  austerely Classical, white marble lending an angelic weightlessness to        
  pillars and fences that can seem more woven than carved.                      
  At the center of campus is the Chairman's Tower, a dizzyingly tall spire in   
  the center of a manicured grassy field. Radiating around this field are the   
  lecture halls, dormitories, art buildings, and other facilities by which the  
  chosen few receive education, with small class sizes in large buildings.      
  It's common for students to refer to a building's location as if the hour     
  hand of a great clock extended from the central tower. At twelve o'clock,     
  for instance, the Duel Arena looms like a jade stormcloud, a great forest     
  forming a living pagoda of leaves that reminds even longtime students that    
  their school keeps many secrets.                                              
  The rose is the emblem of Ohtori, and campus is decorated with a profusion    
  of them, both living and frozen in frieze. Poppies are favored as well, and   
  thick carpets of either flower can be found wherever the loosest excuse is    
  available. Only the most bitter of winters seems able to fully erase the      
  faint fragrance from the air, and students who leave the island via quick,    
  convenient bridge or ferry can often find a memory of it on their clothing.   
<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

Let's play two truths and a lie!

1) The Sister Schools are doing another joint class to continue to experiment with, and explore the benefits of, a mixed-student setting. As last time, it will rotate between all the campuses.

2) It's phys ed this time, instead of cooking!

3) And they have celebrity instructors again!


<SoundTracker> Fuka Gakuen Seikatsu - Mai-HiME OST - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5n0ACjZ7fBs

It's after lunch, during which time Infinity and Juuban students were brought over to Ohtori campus by whatever combination of train, bus, limousine and helicopter that they each preferred. Class has already stretched, then assembled on the grassy field in the central Ohtori courtyard, which is to say, surrounded by white buildings that gleam beneath the blazing sunlight in three directions, with a tower -- also white and gleaming, but distinct enough nevertheless to bear mention -- at the fourth.

The students are a mixture of volunteers and the volunteered, and the teaching staff seems to be that way as well. It may, however, be tricky to tell which is which.

Homeroom and history teacher Midori Sugiura, swathed in the white fur-trimmed red cloak she prefers for official functions, is marching up and down the line of students with outthrust chest and open enthusiasm. She's got a triangle's worth of flag -- Ohtori yellow, with a hot pink M -- slung over her shoulder on a pole. Every so often she pops it up and twirls it, in order to relieve the intensity of her feelings.

She could not be more different from Fumi Himeno, who is placidly still at the center of the group -- Midori sometimes passes behind her, and sometimes passes between her and thte students, as she marches. Fumi's a well-known figure at the Sister Schools despite not being a teacher; she is the maid of Mashiro Kazahana, who is in turn the wheelchair-bound Headmistress of the Middle and High Schools. She is occasionally tapped for this sort of thing, so it isn't a complete surprise to see her here. Her smile is serene.

...maybe there will be celebrity instructors another day.

"TEN-HUT!" Midori yells gaily. "THIS IS THE FIRST ANNUAL,"

"Weekly--" Fumi corrects her softly, but she only gets through the first syllable before Midori interrupts her with a gym teacher whistle she's scored from someplace, so it's more like "Week--" *TWEET*


She spins the flag across her shoulders until it's a blur, then plants it solidly in the ground like she's just claimed Southern Cross Island for Spain. "...FLAG!"

"If you put it down," Fumi remarks serenely, "Then that is the first flag."

Midori yanks it back up with enough force that a few clods of dirt come with it. "WRONG!" She sweeps the pole like a sword until it's pointing at Ohtori's main gate. Sure enough, there's a flag beyond it, snapping in a fresh fall breeze. "THAT! is the first flag! You will jog to it! Then to the next! And the next! Himeno-san will inform you when you have reached the final flag! Then you will turn around and jog back!"

The maid confirms this with an agonizingly slow nod which is somehow also razor sharp, despite the wholesome roundness of her face.

"This isn't a race!" Midori concludes, then grins like the very devil. "Unless you make it one! Seize your youth! Five! Four! Three! Two! One!"

OOC: Open social, three pose rule is in effect! I will occasionally provide a little flavor and scenery.

Setsuna Higashi walks over from Yamanote High City.
<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue Kaoru slides out of a luxury car. Taking a step down on the concrete. The driver slowly lowers the window, indicating, "We can pull up closer." Kozue takes a deep breath, closes her eyes, "No. Here is fine."

And then she takes her first step onto Ohtori campus. Then another. More quickly now. Seeing as how she isn't already drowning she assumes that she's not broken any rules of her expulsion. That doesn't mean she's safe here though.

Never that.

Lining up amongst whispering students, she finds herself scrutinizing Midori throughout it. Her arms crossed vaguely over her chest. It's like she expects any second she's going to get drawn into HiME business, despite no longer having anything to do with them.

"That's it?" Kozue asks as Midori plants the flag the first time.

Fumi though... reminds her. And Midori yanks it back up.

Kozue rolls her eyes, as she mutters rudely to herself, "You're doing a good job reminding me exactly of what I didn't miss old lady..." As the taps her fingertips on her arm, she idly swivels her neck to see where the actual first flag is.

With a shrug, she starts walking at an idle pace, allowing other students to get ahead of her. It's uncertain whether she's being rebelliously defiant to authority, or being a jerk in the sense of giving everyone a head start.

Then suddenly the ace swimmer starts to jog. Her pace starts to swell, feet stabbing at the concrete, as she swiftly starts to overtake the students at the back. Soon enough... the former Ohtori student, now wearing the Infinity Institute P.E. uniform inserts herself square in the middle of the throng of students.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Utena is ALWAYS in her gym clothes (if she removes her jacket), and this is her campus to boot, so she was napping until the last possible second. A somnolent softness remains on her face even as she pumps a couple amiable lunges; she can literally stretch in her sleep.

She does not take the bait to start at a sprint, but the length of her legs and the energy of her stride nevertheless carries her further and faster than the average participant.

Glancing over her shoulder, she looks past her mane of shimmering pink hair -- it should really be up, but it isn't -- and manages to spot Kozue on the other side. The sun breaks across her face.

"Yo Kozue!" she calls, adjusting her pace so that, soon enough, the two of them are side by side.

The whispers... adjust, from venomous to curious. Utena tends to have that affect on the masses.

"So it's true eh," she says, grinning at the other girl's blue uniform. "Miki must be jealous, yellow's not his color."

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

This is not the sort of event for which Fuu Hououji would normally have signed up. However, any regrets are studiously being kept banished from her face; an elastic band holds her glasses comfortably in place against jostles or bumps that might dislodge them, her gym uniform is as neat as they ever are, her sneakers' laces are tied securely but not too tightly.

Like it or not, she's here, and she's going to do her best. As far as *she's* concerned, this is not a competition, and it would take extreme degrees of leverage to make her try to outrun anyone; the key to jogging - especially over the distance that Sugiura and Himeno seem to be planning on - is to pace oneself, not to sprint.

Sugiura's joke (presumably it *was* merely a joke) about making it a race draws a wry smile to Fuu's face, and she shifts her weight from one leg to the other again as the countdown is issued ... followed by that blast on the whistle. Fuu starts jogging along with the others, glancing around to see who's gravitating towards whom - whether by natural sorting of relative speeds, or seeking each other out. "Kozue-san," she greets the transfer student as she passes ... and is then passed in turn *by* her when Kozue gets serious about jogging.

Fuu just smiles, and keeps jogging, continuing to keep casual track of the students around her.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi Ohzora came along with everybody else, rather than here in a luxury car at least for her part. She's dressed in Infinity's gym uniform, towering over a number of her classmates at the moment with very nice shoes. Very nice...

Very new shoes. Like they haven't even been touched.

Maybe there will be celebrity instructors another day, but the very spiky red introduction to the class gets a big blink from the beglasses'd Yumi, who actually steps back a minute glancing around to make sure she's not in the wrong place. But it's fine. She looks between the two (Midori and Fumi) for the moment, and swallows, preparing.

"Ha ha, a race," Yumi starts, and then looks to Kozue for a moment without actually saying anything. She has a bag with her, which she adjusts a little where it hangs from a shoulder strap, and as the tweet goes--

Yumi goes off at it with an expression of determination!!

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Fun fact: Midori is Mikoto's favourite teacher.

Part of this is just because history is one of the few academic subjects Mikoto doesn't flounder in - she actually has some basis in it, which means she understands it so much better than she does chemistry or physics. Part of it is because Midori is sympathetic to Mikoto's various extracurricular activities and the way they impact class, for reasons it's not worth getting into in the middle of the day.

(Miroku, in its sword-case, is leaning on a locker in the changing room. It is the grumpiest bag of golf clubs in existence and no one wants to be the first to touch it. That's for the best.)

And part of it is just because Midori has always presented herself as a bright and cheerful character, and Mikoto can appreciate that kind of enthusiasm.

Of course, Mikoto does tend to see Fumi Himeno now and then too - though, strictly speaking, as little as she has to, given whose company Fumi Himeno keeps. (How ungrateful!) But she has little quarrel with Fumi herself, even considering everything; to her eyes Fumi acts in service, and she can't argue that. And so when Fumi tries to interrupt, Mikoto grunts, head tilting her way briefly. Every week..? Is that it..?

... wait, is annual just a fancy word for something that happens every week..?

Mikoto is saved from this disastrous conclusion by the fact that Midori bullies on through to the point: flags. She blinks, eyes wide, as the flag thuds into the ground and shortly leaves it again. Following the gesture...

Her head cocks to the side at a sharp angle, with a sceptical expression.

At least Midori seems to see the ridiculousness of it as well as she does, she thinks, because the teacher goes on to specify that it is not a race. Which is good, because that would really be way too easy of a race.

Though, she thinks, looking back over to Yumi with another grunt and a little shrug of one shoulder, maybe it's more fair this way.

(Sorry, Yumi, Mikoto just doesn't think you're very good at sports.)

In Ohtori's sports uniform, Mikoto starts off--!! Is she going to overtake Kozue, who has appeared on Ohtori's grounds for the first time in so long?!

Nope. Sure, her gaze did lock on her for a minute, but in the end Mikoto just immediately rounds on Yumi and starts jogging backwards, at an ambling pace. "Yumi!" She chirps, hands clapping together and then spreading out. "It'll be okay!" She sounds so completely sure of that, even though she's not looking where she's going...

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Some students would agree that being able to escape the everyday humdum of everyday class would be worth it, no matter the price. Why learn about what formula that a foreign scientist created or the proper context of an English word that doesn't seem to match the definition? Something like that might come up in entrance exams years in the future, but a quick break can be healthy for the mind too. It's completely worth it to escape the confines of the classroom, right?

Then again, signing yourself up for something you hate to escape a dreaded subject isn't exactly the best move Niramo could have made.

Dressed in her Juuban P.E. uniform and making sure that the ribbon holding her ponytail in place is properly secured, Niramo looks back and forth between Midori and Fumi with an eyebrow raised. Was this some sort of comedy skit between two people that act like polar opposites to motivate the students? "Seems kinda silly, but we just have to follow the flags, right?"

Pushing aside her misgivings for the 'celebrity' instructor duo aside, Niramo waits a moment to let the most competitive students rush towards the front of the group before she starts to move forward in an easy jog. 'Stretches are good and all but it's best to let the body warm up to the exercise first before you start trying to push yourself.' No prize at the end, no official race to be had so it's best to just take it easy, at least for now!

Jogging is completely different from practicing a dance routine, but Niramo has been surviving Ye-jin's training sessions for a while now. This should be easy!

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue caught a glance of Yumi earlier on, but she didn't say anything at the time.

"Utena." Kozue replies, and it's perhaps an unusual change, as Kozue typically calls her Tenjou. Strangely she looks more relaxed as Utena sets into pace jogging beside her.

Kozue smirks as she runs, arms pumping at her side as she runs alongside Utena.

"Ah. You've figured me out." Kozue says with a tone of friendly mirth. "Not just to make him jealous though. Or so more people can tell the two of us apart..."

Kozue flicks her head in a way that seems only to highlight that androgyny of features.

"... it's all to support my brand. If Nori-chan wants to compete, she'll be transferring to Juuban any day now."

Kozue flicks a glance over her shoulder... Yumi's way, "We're not racing by the way. After all Utena wouldn't want to get so far ahead of you... ne, Yumi-chan?"

Her tone becomes a light tease towards the girl beside her, "If you faint, I'm sure she'll be quite gallant..."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"I like her enthusiasm, but she really needs to just say it's a race." Comes Kasagami as she watches Midori. The Student Council Secretary has actually deigned to show some sense in this not-petition (it's what you make of it!!!). The top half of her Student Council uniform, and a far more run-worthy set of track pants in the same coloration as everyone else. Medical reasons, she waved off any curious looks.

Also her coat's hanging up elsewhere, she doesn't want to risk knocking out a fellow student with a sleeve nevermind the heat. Sadly there will be no competitions on coats today between teacher and student. The boots are there, though!

Kasagami does herself some stretches, which unlike the ever-stretching Utena, is more of an amateur cartwheel followed by an utterly unnecessary arms-straight up stretches followed by side-to-side leg-bows. Then boxer-like bouncing on the toes of her boots.

And then they're off! Kasagami has her choice of victims to socially harass or attempt aggressive competitive bonding with. Kozue in particular gets a half-grin, half-glare. Utena is ever promising, but is talking with Kozue, and Kassie isn't that rude (for now). But no, she's starting off at a light pace that has her leisurely making her way right past Mikoto and Yumi.

"Yumi-chan, Miko-chan's right! Put your all into it! I do not expect you to come in first, but if you come in not last I'll...make you some tacos or something. A royal delight!" Teases Kasagami briefly. Then a wink to her favorite delinquent and Ivy Witch.

Through slightly gritted, grinning teeth, she then uses those long legs and over-aggressive pent up desires to start a flat run, fully aiing to barrel forth.

One might be reminded of a charging horse, barely avoiding people. She makes it a point to give a challenge to any she passes.

Kasagami tries to catch anyone's eye willing to make it a race.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Yumi does not have great technique. She's not entirely sure what to do with her arms, except to wave at Mikoto when she looks over her way, but her very long legs give her a stride that helps her keep up for a little while.

"Thanks!" she says to Mikoto, not too jealous of the other girl's easy athleticism. "Yeah! So far, so good!" Pause. "Uhhhh--huff--are you sure you shouldn't watch where you're going?" But as she gets close enough to Kozue to actually talk...

"Huh?" Yumi asks. "Oh, I'm not..." She flushes red (though that was going to happen anyway) and answers, "I'm not going to faint!" Pause. "...Hopefully."

She looks eminently serious about this, to the point that she actually smiles at Kasagami as she encourages her. "I'll try!" she says. "...I'm not exactly expecting tacos though," she admits with a lopsided look. ...Forward, side Kasagami sure is charging ahead.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

The front gate isn't far away, just through a few pale arches, under a few porticos, past a garden. Even the least out of shape can make it there pretty easily, and then around the broad curve of the campus wall, as the next flag is dimly visible, far down the road that encircles campus.

It snaps, distantly, in the late summer breeze, which warms immediately upon passing through the gate.

Hopefully the FINAL one will be clearly marked. Wasn't the maid supposed to announce that it was the last? She's still standing calmly next to--

--well, Midori isn't standing anymore.

She's flipped down a pair of sunglasses, flipped open a lawn chair, and propped her feet on a cooler.

"Good luck!" she yells through cupped hands, waving at the last of the students until they're all out of sight.

Cars are rare on this road, which is always beautifully paved. The side of it that isn't school wall is lined with trees; a most pleasant boulevard. Ohtori's pretty far up Southern Cross Island, so behind the trees there's a slope, and if you looked carefully, you might see a view, but this isn't the ideal place for that. There are buildings also, and it's flat enough up here for quite a bit to be between the eyeline and the shore.

OOC: At a loss for what to talk about? You're encouraged to bring up topics from 11/72, /73, and /74, the rumors that the schools
are abuzz with.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Utena's dumb, but she's also in greater possession of the true story of Kozue's expulsion than most; her lips tug to one side, pulling an apologetic wince at the idea that she implied this was about Miki at all.

"Oh," she contemplates, innocently thoughtful, as she glances at the nearest Juuban uniform (Niramo's) for reference. "I didn't realize you and Nori were competing..."

Yes: dumb. Also dumb enough that she didn't really pick up on the comment about gallantry, let alone understand it. Following Kozue's gaze backwards, she smiles at Mikoto's backwards-running, then at Yumi, to whom she flicks a double thumbs up. Ganbatte, Yumi!

It's probably inevitable for her and Kasagami to start racing at some point but since her expulsion her Kozue time has dropped precipitously, so she continues to indulge herself, appreciating her crimson counterpart's decision to not lay out too much bait.

"So," she asks the blunette, in an entirely normal speaking voice -- she's not a bit winded yet -- "What's it like?"

This is kind of an absurd question; like any Sister Schools student, she's been in the skyscraper countless times. But she asked it earnestly, and her big blue eyes meet Kozue's entirely without guile.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

In response to Yumi's concern, Mikoto beams. "Don't worry!" Sure, there are obstacles, but Mikoto manages to stay out of the way of... the trees, at least. She must know the path well enough for that.

Kasagami tears past, and Kozue offers comment, and Mikoto smiles to them, too. "Yumi won't faint!" She says, in complete confidence. "It's for tac... takosu!" Pronouncing that last part is really hard, okay.

"I'll make sure," she adds, to Yumi, who sounded a little sceptical about the factual truth of tacos.

And so, arms swinging beside her as she looks to Kozue, she follows on from Utena to ask - nay, demand - the obvious question: "Kozue tell me about the cat!" The cat, from, presumably, Infinity...

... oh no, Mikoto isn't asking about Mr. Cat, is she?

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"Tacos?" Fuu asks, a hint of confusion on her face as she comes up alongside Yumi. "I didn't know Kasagami-san knew South American cooking ... that *is* the region we're talking about, right?"

She's still maintaining a fairly easy pace, which makes it easier to talk while jogging. "And how was summer vacation, Yumi-san? Did you have much trouble with homework?"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Oh and Yumi's wearing one of those green fitbit type devices from the Computer Club--or at least, hers is green. It's actually seeing use!

...And Yumi herself finds herself stepping a little more lightly when Utena Tenjou gives her the double thumbs-up. Was that a sparkle? She's pretty sure that was a sparkle. She smiles back, and--remembers not to redouble her efforts.

But she finds herself looking back to Mikoto again who's... still beside her. "Yeah!" she answers back, and indeed Mikoto has an important question for... Hey. Wait. Why doesn't Mikoto ask Yumi about that???

It's a mystery that she doesn't solve yet, as Kozue gets asked what Ohtori is like. Instead she looks over to Fuu and shrugs, having decided now to put her arms up with bent elbows. "I dunno," Yumi admits. "I figured she waas going to buy them."

A beat, "Oh, homework wasn't really an issue. I mean, mostly anyway." Yumi looks around at the beautifyl road, the nice trees... "I mean, I'm not signing up for the Academy Decathlon or anything but I'm doing fine, y'know?"


<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"No?" Kozue smirks, "It's Red versus Blue. The eternal struggle. Whoever defines themselves by one still defines themselves against the other. Nori-chan's the traditional beauty... and I'm..."

Kozue suddenly veers sideways, into a friendly arm bump against Utena's bicep.

"... well you know what I am better than almost anyone..."

Kasagami tears past, and Kozue doesn't turn her attention at her beyond giving her a glance. Whereas Mikoto comes to Yumi's defense and Yumi denying it, and Kozue raises a hand to flap behind as they jog, "Hai~Hai~"

Utena though asks what it's like, and at first Kozue has an expression like that was a dumb question and Utena's about to get an earful. Yet, then her features smooth out and...


Kozue looks up at the sky, like she's trying to find the words. And she's struggling to come up short.

"... huh. Not... Ohtori."

Kozue doesn't seem to know how to describe it other than that.

"The focus is different. I've never known anything like it."

There's not something she can really quantify about it. The teachers can still be eclectic. The girls talk about the same things. The boys care about the same things.

"I've been going to Ohtori since pre-school. But it's just, like something is different."

It's like she's taking the question seriously, until she gives Utena an amused look, and her answer becomes a flippant one, "It must be seeing my reflection everywhere... a school made for me."

Kozue makes this low hum, she's chatting pretty easily. "By the by... it did reach even Infinity that the identity of Fujino-san's mysterious fiance... might just be known... " Kozue's eyes flick to Utena's face, as if searching it. "... care to confirm? Deny?"

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Two things become quickly apparent to Niramo as her feet hit the pavement and she lets her body find a rythym. The first one is that just because you gotten better at one thing that is physically demanding doesn't mean that you're automatically better at all things physical. The second? It doesn't mean that no progress has been made on that front either.

The inhaling exercises that a stern yet rewarding dance captain had helped Niramo practice is letting her breath like there was actually oxygen in the air as soon as it comes to anything physical. Not that it's easy, but it doesn't feel like she's trying to climb a mountain either. "Alright...maybe I can actually keep jogging all the way for once!"

Kasagami speeds on past her like it's the final lap of a climatic race, but Niramo just shakes a hand in the negative. "I'm not going to use up all my fuel from the start, Kasagami-san!"

Glancing a little behind her and seeing the struggling Yumi, Niramo cups a hand to her mouth to make sure she can be heard. "Breathe through the nose and out through the mouth! It helps keep you cool and let you keep your breath!" It's something she wish she knew in the past, so maybe it can help someone else struggling?

Considering there's some Ohtori students who can talk while keeping up a steady jog, maybe they can answer something she overheard a few days ago about the school. "So...is it true that some foreign students are at Ohtori? Seems kinda odd but i'm sure they have their reasons, right?" Niramo's breathing is a little harder but she just need to focus on keeping rhythm. Talking and running at the same time is actually difficult to do.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kasagami, upon vaguely hearing the skepticism about the holy taco of delectability, briefly pauses in her attempts to fish up a few of the more competitive sorts. In response, she just points to Fuu-chan meaningfully!

"See? The best food, I'm telling you!" She may have had no idea where they came from. Her stomach knows devour-ables when it senses them though.

The road is really nice, though, under her boots. Super nice actually. With her obligatory show of running done and little others drawn into her web of competitive spirit yet, she zeroes herself in right back towards Niramo. Cue glance number two Kozue and Utena's way.

Something passes over her face this time. She refuses to think of it as guilt. One at times must lie a bit to ones' self to keep up sanity in the land of the rich and pretentious. A pauper would-be-King even moreso.

"Gold Star League." Kasagami offers up towards Niramo and anyone nearby.

The Duelist doesn't immediately elaborate. Her grin is cheshire here, teasing, eyes sparkling.

"Scouting ~talent~ if I'm any judge. I swear, once I strangle enough of my paperwork to death, I am going to unveil their every secret!" Such as, 'where can I get all that money and influence' or 'aggressive sparring', no doubt coming from her.

Kassie sounds excited. Maybe now not entirely focused on her footwork.

"How are things at Juuban Nira-chan?" Her eyes hunger...for rumors!!!

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

"I thought the opposite of red was green," Utena mumbles, brow wrinkled as she tries to remember her art classes. But there are more interesting things to talk about.

There's a valid reason Utena has never asked Fuu or Yumi what it's like to attend the Institute: whoever defines themselves by one still defines themselves against the other. Kozue's perspective is unique -- she's the only person Utena knows who's ever gone to both.

She listens intently, and is maybe a little disappointed that Mikoto's question wasn't answered. But Kozue's changing the subject, and her friend is happy enough to go with the flow.

"What, Chiba?" Utena's a lot more likely to call a boy by his surname than a girl. Make of this what you will, gender studies analysts.

She sucks on her lower lip, indecisive. Clearly she has mixed feelings. In the end, though, teetering to either side of the subject, she lands on the positive.

"They're really glamorous together," she offers, finally. "Like, I could never have imagined senpai dating anyone," because when you're Utena you only imagine girls dating boys, and Shizuru just doesn't seem like she's interested in boys, "But when you see them together, it's kinda... aspirational, I guess. I bet they have a real fairy tale wedding someday. Maybe they'd let me usher."

Her legs pump like a robot's, and her bare torso is starting to gleam with the beginnings of a good sweat.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.

A bright golden noise punctuates the conversations, coming up from behind them. It's a bicycle bell. Fumi rings it again.


She is pedaling at an extremely sedate pace, which is all that's required to keep up with joggers. Indeed, she looks positively casual.

Her front basket is full of water bottles.

"The yellow caps have lemon water, the green caps have mint water," she murmurs over the sound of her gears spinning loosely, as she takes her feet off the pedals entirely and just coasts for a minute so people can easily approach without anyone having (or getting) to stop. "Please hydrate yourselves as you jog."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

"Who else?" Kozue says to Utena. Before listening to the answer of her question. And there's this light smirk as Utena states she could never have imagined her dating. She doesn't comment on that. Nor does she scoff at it being a fairy tale dream. If anything, she looks... happy?!

"If it's so aspirational... then you should angle at least to be a Bridesmaid."

Kozue is smiling so big suddenly. It's actually a bit unsettling. "I'm hoping to be the maid of honor myself."

Eventually, Kozue does answer Mikoto's question about the cat. Suddenly her volume increases, "As for Neko-sensei..."

It's impossible for her not to know about the cat given that Tsuru is in ballet. Even if the two don't gossip about him.

"... I heard, that whoever comes in last place in this WILL HAVE TO MARRY HIM!"

As she says it just loudly enough that the rumor will pass down the line.

And perhaps create a panic.

Kozue then smoothly extracts a bottle of lemon water.

She can't handle sweet things after all.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Fuu nods in agreement to Yumi, "The trick is always to spread it over the length of vacation ... not to scramble through it in the last week, or the last day." She looks somewhat chagrined at a memory spurred back to the surface of her thoughts, but lets it go again without elaborating.

Partly because Kasagami chimed in on the topic of tacos. "Are you sure you're from Japan, Kasagami-san?" Fuu calls out, *extremely* good-naturedly - she's not actually doubting where Kasagami's from, but she's not above teasing her a little for espousing a decidedly non-Japanese cuisine as 'the best food.' Then again, Fuu reflects, you can be Japanese and love hamburgers (American) or spaghetti (Italian) or mapo tofu (Chinese, at least originally).

She quickens her pace a little as the words 'Gold Star League' drift back from Kasagami, although Fuu diverts just a little to collect a bottle of mint water, bowing her head briefly in thanks to Fumi-sensei. Procuring water might cost her the chance to glean any insight into the League in question ...

Ehh. There'll probably be other chances - and Fuu's not that fussed about the Gold Star students. She has more important things to worry about ...

"Oh, Kasagami-san?" One of those more important things just came to mind, apparently. "Out of curiosity, have Ohtori students had a rash of stolen items lately?"

<Pose Tracker> Yuzuki Mayuzumi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Yuzuki takes the train to Ohtori, arriving at the school with some other Juuban students. The campus is incredibly pretty with all its flowers and such. She hasn't been here yet, sothere's a sense of mystery around it.

She frowns at the shenaniganry unfolding in front of her between the teachers. Maybe that wasn't the best. At least they eventually got the flag situation sorted out.

She stretches, her arms upwards, Blooming Spark's pin mode gleaming in the fall sunlight. On the one hand, she was really tempted to just bolt out the gate to get ahead of everyone...but it's supposed to be a jog, not a race.

Then again...

"Spark, think you can time this?" Yuzuki whispers. It might not have been a race against the others, but herself? Sure, why not?

<Understood. Starting in 3...2...1...GO!!>

And with that, she runs out the gate, heading down the hill with the others.

Eventually, she sidles up alongside one of the Infinity girls, some girl in glasses with blonde hair. (Fuu, in other words.)

"Uh...Hey. You three go to Infinity, right?" Yuzuki asks. "I hear you guys have a new teacher. Do you happen to know what happened to the old one?" She asks.

Also that maid on the bike passes by, and Yuzu reaches out to grab one of the mint water bottles. In fact, she almost drops it as Kozue shouts about MARRIAGE. She's heard that line enough times in ballet lessons, and by this point that flinch is almost a trained response.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

"Blehhh," is the rough transliteration of the noise Mikoto makes when Fuu gets her thinking about Homework.

Don't ask how many nights Mai had to listen to her grumbling because she was busy shoving her face into a textbook after dinner. Don't do that terrible thing!

"Opposite of red is yellow," Mikoto informs Utena, with incredible surety.

Maybe don't ask how she got that idea, either.

(Maybe it's a mistranslation..?)

Kozue doesn't talk about cats, but Kozue has other things to say, and Mikoto blinks in abject surprise as Utena answers. She wobbles on a foot; she turns, in the motion, and rights herself going the correct way forward. "Whaaat? That's it?! Shizuru's gonna get married for real?!"

Did... did she think she was only engaged for show, or something..?

This is the precise moment that Kozue elects to Actually Answer Mikoto's Question. "Huh?! No way!" Mikoto yelps, in alarm. "I don't wanna get married!"

She snatches up a bottle from Fumi, and all a sudden she is going much quicker. She's quickly catching up to Kasagami, at this rate...!

"Lots of foreign students at Ohtori!" Mikoto yells over her shoulder to Niramo, helpfully, as she gains on her fellow swordswoman. "Like Georgia! She's really nice!" She does not realise how disastrously she has missed the point until Kasagami supplies the obvious answer. "... oh, and them," she huffs out in aside. (She's actually putting some effort into moving, now, so she's breathing more heavily. Puff puff.)

It's weird how they seem to be looking for something in the students here. What are they searching for?!

... maybe Mikoto should be a bit more sympathetic to them...

One might think, from that, that Mikoto Minagi has not paid attention to a single rumour.

But, yelled out across the field...

"Niramo! Cooking club's making snacks?!"

... that's either incredibly surprising, or not at all surprising. You pick.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Yeah," Yumi answers Fuu, "That's how you do it all right." But with Niramo trying to help, Yumi makes a point of calling back, "Thanks!" because it's just good manners when someone's trying to help out, and she is used to that. She gives a thumbs-up back up to Kasagami, though. ...Yumi is definitely sweating already.

It's as she's starting to slow down a little more that Fumi rings her bell and pedals close, Yumi blinking over at her before, "Oh! Thanks," she says with a little huff, and reaches out to accept one of the green bottles. She pops it open and the next few moments are spent focusing on the difficult task of jogging and drinking water at the same time. ...At least, tricky enough.

She loses some of the water at 'MARRY HIM!' and calls ahead to Kozue, "I'm not even IN his classes!"

She doesn't want to think about snacks right now.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Even if she's a little late to the food talk, Niramo might as well throw her own hat into the ring. "Never had a taco before, actually. Not that it sounds gross in any way just...not really interested?" Niramo attempts to shrug her shoulders while she pumps her arms and stumbles for an instant before stabilizing for her efforts. "It's just a hamburger with a bun made out of chips, right?"

Leave it to Kasagami to even fill her explinations with dramatic pauses! Or was that due to all the running? "Foreign talent scouts? Uuugh, no thanks. I can make fun of my own performaces if I really want that. Though i'm sure you're gonna blow their socks off anyways, Kasagami-chan!" Be it with her own talents or something else goes unsaid.

Wait...if you mess up, then you have to marry a teacher?! Juuban has its' own oddballs but sounds crazy! It's motivation, but...no. That's just wrong!

Kasagami's inquiring look is a little worrisome, but she's used to how intense her friend can be with her emotions. "Rumors? Uh, I heard that some popular magical girls have been sighted a lot near Juuban lately. There's dramatic speeches and everything from what I heard, but I haven't had a chance to go look myself yet. Been too busy with-"

A loud shout can be heard from Mikoto, and the ravenette turns her head to call out to Mikoto. "-ah, yeah! Once a week, the cooking club serves our own lunches at a stall. I didn't get a chance to eat my own lunch when we did it yesterday, but it's fun!"

Between all the running and talking, Niramo is building up a good sweat at the moment. "I knew I should have brought some water..." And with a dinging bell that acts like the universe fulfilling a wish, Fumi is there on a bike with cold bottles of the life-giving liquid. Panting as she pushes herself forward to get a bottle with a green cap, Niramo manages not to drink the entire bottle down and just take a few quick swigs. "Thank you very much."

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Carnival of the Animals - VII. Aquarium https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCBDlC0N8Rc

They pass the flag in a loose clump of clumps, and the leaders are forced to jog in place until Fumi extends her arm directly sideways. Into the trees.

Into the forest. They're outside the walls, so this won't be the woods forbidden to the student body... probably... the geography gets a little confused out here. For what it's worth, there's a dirt path, reasonably well-trodden. And the wilderness isn't particularly wild, not here, not yet. There's less undergrowth and more overgrowth, helped both by grooming and the self-selection of trees that have been allowed to grow truly massive over many, many, many years.

There is something mysterious about this place, though... the sudden drop in temperature and light intensity from the shade makes every shadow cool, every lick of mist that little bit fae. The woods are lovely, dark, and deep.

One assumes another M flag awaits them, down the trail.

Fumi slides to a stop next to Yumi, then, unsaddling herself, and offers the huffing girl the bike with an encouraging smile.

"Don't worry about it," says the maid. "I'll catch up."

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Utena thinks tacos are from Okinawa; she thinks the Gold Star League boys are jerks; she thinks mint water and lemon water are both fine but rose water is better; and--

"No way," she argues with Mikoto and Kozue simultaneously. "It is SO not yellow," though Seito Kaicho and his little sister make a pretty solid case for Mikoto, all by themselves, "And I am SO not marrying Mr. Cat--!"

The sliver of her grin widening in profile to engulf her cheek is Kasagami's only warning before she's off like a shot into the treeline. She guzzles half the lemon water she scored off the bicycle, then keeps the rest in hand. Good thing it isn't soda; it's really getting shaken up by the speed of her sudden sprint, capped only by her thumb.

Though she's a little less quick than she might be... Utena's no cheater, and flat out with a head start would end the race before it started. It's only once the other girl catches up that it will truly begin.

She flashes a glance behind her, looking for her would-be rival. Her vivid eyes are full of laughter.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Yoink! She gives a thumbs up towards the bicycling Fumi, before stealing a lemon water. Pop. Kassie proceeds to drown her throat in cool liquid. Glug glug glug! Then an overhand throw to the most convenient bin for bottles.

She hits the rim. It wobbles, and just stubbornly sits there. Neither missed, nor hit. It's that kind of day.

"That's about two-thirds of my paperwork at this point. I swear, can't people just get insurance for their valuables!? I have no clue who, or what group, is doing it though. I'll make sure they taste Ohtori justice when they're discovered! It's an insult to this beautiful campus, theft stomps on the trust each student has in each other!" She actually says this with a straight face.

"...Same thing with Infinity?" She then offers tentatively to Fuu.

Eyes are made at Mikoto! Competition eyes! 'Come at me, delinquent!!!' They say, even as Kassie smiles warmly yet fiercely at her friend!

And then Kasagami laughs as she runs boastfully. "I will have all of them BEGGING for my skills with the blade!"

Why does she sound a little angry when she says that?

As for Juuban rumors? "That sounds amazing, actually. Huh. I wonder what an Ohtori Food Cart would be like. Roasted squid maybe...." Ponder. Poooonder.

Kasagami is interrupted though. By the dark, deep woods and that misty beauty that really draws her in. Her gaze casts to where she knows beyond the walls lay. The Dueling Arena, everything. Hands clench together briefly as if holding a sword. But she shakes it off. She'll save that jumble of a ball of emotions towards that place for when she steps into it.

After all, pink hair and dancing eyes are upon the wind. The understated grin is met with her overstated one.

"Looks like someone isn't a fan of fur or catnip!" Taunts Kassie with nothing but warmth and friendliness as she makes a sharp jog towards the Engaged.

And only once they're both footwear-lines even? Does both of the crimson-bedecked young woman raise her eyebrows and pantomimes a gun firing into the air with a finger.

Then she puts everything into it. No more performative grinning or useless showing off, she outright slams into a run everything she has. Boots thunder down the path as she tries to keep Utena in her peripheral vision. A competition, pure, without the stakes that's so left her lost of what she once had.

And her eyes, too, dance. With a burning intensity that seeks to light up her friend's own, not to consume. Not now, not here. The ambitious fires of wanting to outdo someone she respects...and maybe just of happiness, to run full-on with someone she admires! Sweat redoubles and her calves protest, but pride demands she charge forth valiantly.

Kasagami doesn't speak, because her entire being radiates 'bring it' towards Utena!

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue just argues self-confidently. "It's definitely blue... when it's for the sake of glamour."

"Then you'd better run fast~" Kozue lilts playfully at Mikoto as she runs on by, sounding far too pleased with herself.

Kozue then smiles as Utena takes off like a shot, because...

... she absolutely loves to watch her go. "So determined to remain Ohtori's most eligible bachelorette... you have to admire it."

It's only when she's far enough away that Kozue uncaps her lemon water, and takes a lengthy sip, as suddenly she's feeling overheated.

Eventually though, she starts to fall back on purpose rather than compete with Kasagami and Utena. She's athletic enough that she could probably hold her own, but what's the point with contenders like that? Kozue knows what realm she competes in...

Instead, she purposefully allows herself to fall back.

... coming up alongside the Infinity Girls, and one Juuban girl.

As if to test her celebrity appeal, she finds herself matching pace to come up alongside Yuzuki, where she whispers a question, "My... haven't I seen you around somewhere?"

Kozue hasn't actually but she's saying it anyway, "Don't tell me... even though you attend Juuban you're actually more of an Aohime kind of girl aren't you?"

Since Yuzu is in Juuban's fashion club, it's likely she'll recognize she's suddenly jogging alongside the headline model of the Aohime fashion line.

She has a reputation for being something of a delinquent wild child...

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

"New teacher?" Fuu arches an eyebrow briefly at Yuzuki, racking her brain. There are a *lot* of teachers at Infinity, after all, arrayed among the different levels and subjects. The rumor mill's been churning merrily away, though. "If you mean Scaddlethorpe-sensei, I'm not really sure - something with his family, I think. I'm not one of his students," she adds apologetically. "Yumi-san, do you happen to know?"

Mikoto's highly expressive 'Blehhh' gets a sympathetic smile from Fuu - but also a mischievous little hint of a grin, in between sips of mint water from her bottle. The drink is definitely refreshing, but she doesn't want to simply chug it down - pacing, again.

Fuu also nods to Kasagami, grimacing a bit. "I'm not sure how widespread it is," she says, "but rumors are circulating ... and not everything that's been stolen is insurable. A little thing, something that can technically be easily and cheaply replaced, could still be dearly precious beyond all price. A favorite hairclip, a preferred pen or eraser ..."

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

Mikoto doesn't want to get married! Yumi notes that, just packs it away as a bit of knowledge about her friend, and admits, "I'm not exactly eager myself..."

"But tacos are great," she assres Niramo." She keeps hold of the water at the moment as she keeps going, passing the flag eventually until she sees ahead--the forest!

She helpfully answers Fuu, "Family stuff. I didn't try to pry too hard," she admits, "But what I do know is that Professor Croix is really cool, whatever they say about her being kind of new age." Yumi absolutely exists in the circles where she's heard this complaint. A hundred percent. Buuut...

Now, Yumi loves forests. She also loves the cool, because she's very hot from all the jogging. But she's a little worried about tripping on the forest floor... until Fumi slides to a stop next to her, and she blinks--before giving Fumi a grateful look. "...If you're sure, thanks a lot," she says, and takes the bike as it's offered, resuming her forward motion this time into the forest. It gives her a nice view of the race engaging ahead, and a moment to catch her breath bikeways. ...On the other hand it's hard to keep her balance going too slowly, so she speeds up!

This also has nothing to do with Kozue showing up and whispering in that particular way of hers.

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

And so the delinquent comes at Kasagami, just as she challenged her. After so long hanging back with Yumi Mikoto still, inevitably, ends up leading the pack when they come to the next flag. She's ready to take it on-!!

Jogging in place, she makes sure to take a drink from that bottle. It's minty fresh, and Mikoto chirps in thanks to Fumi, full of cheer: "It's good!" Her umai is uplifting.

... well, she's full of cheer until Fumi directs them to the next goal, and Mikoto's jogging in place slows with hesitation. Oh, it's... the forest outside Ohtori. Running in there...

But if Mikoto comes last she will have to marry Mr. Cat. Kozue wouldn't lie to her!

(This is a completely genuine thought, and Mikoto has sources to back it up.)

Besides, why would Mikoto have a weird feeling about this forest? Mikoto is the best at forests. She practically knows Nishitama like the back of her hand. There's no reason for her to be nervous. She hops from one foot to another, looking down the dirt path and back at the tall buildings of the school, before she finally resolves to herself: it's fine!

Luckily: here's Yumi. On a bike. "Oh!" Mikoto beams, when she spies her riding in. "Yumi's okay now!"

... wait, was Mikoto just going to leave her to get married to Mr. Cat?!

Ohtori students can be so merciless...

"Come on, Yumi!" Mikoto encourages her, very deliberately jogging along beside Yumi and her bike. Her extra speed doesn't seem to bother her; if anything, Mikoto might be egging her on to go faster. "Let's go!" Neither of them particularly want to get married, so it's an eminently sensible suggestion.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Niramo winces and shakes her head as Fuu brings up the rash of thefts spreading throughout the Sister Schools. "Yeah, it's pretty bad. Wakatsuki-chan had some headphones stolen, and while they were found...it just seems odd. The studen who was found with the headphones swore to her that he didn't do it." Niramo takes another quick sip of refreshingly cool water as if to wash the distaste of it all from her mouth.

It's not the words but the tone they carry that creases Niramo's brow. She's been a little out of touch with Kasagami lately, but things haven't gotten better yet...?

"They are? Hmmm...I guess I should try one sometime if everyone says so. I don't think it's too complicated to make, either..." Beef and chicken is apparently the most popular types of meat to use for a taco, but she heard mention of fish every once in a while. Maybe with some salmon...?

Niramo looks up from her food thoughts as Kasagami rushes on ahead to compete with the pink-haired student and smiles softly. Niramo starts to ease herself back a little as she jogs under the shady branches of this part of Ohtori's forests, starting to enjoy herself despite the sweat.

That is until she's realizing that she's starting to trail behind everyone else, and the echoes of 'Neko-Sensei' and 'MARRIAGE' ring in her ears. They weren't serious, right? Neko-Sensei wasn't even here but if everyone is rushing ahead...

"Hey! You're not leaving me behind!" Twisting the cap back on her bottle to secure the precious cargo, Niramo pushes herself forward down the dirt path. Jogging and sweat is miserable to deal with, but it's only a minor inconvience compared to the horrors of marrying a teacher she never met!

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> CALLING - Advent Children https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3nzCr4kzDk

The tension rises between Utena and Kasagami as the latter catches up to the former, until it's so electric that it might as well crackle between them. It's friendly lightning, but all the same, not something easily bottled.

And then they go -- and Utena runs.

She runs, and runs, and runs. A track-and-field enthusiast -- she's one of those annoyingly omnicompetent jocks, but if basketball is first in her heart, track is certainly in the top four -- Utena loves to run, and especially she loves to race.

She also races intelligently; she's brain-dumb and heart-dumb but not body-dumb. Instinct more than strategy lets her eat Kasagami's dust far longer than anyone might have expected. The older, taller girl is an excellent windbreaker. But she pressures constantly, often almost clipping her heels; in other words, not allowing Kasagami to maintain her lead with any kind of comfortable, steady speed.

She is pink hair streaming behind her like a samurai's banner, and a spiking strain in her thighs that settles into a steady burn as they reach their highest gear yet. She's a pounding heart and her eyes are still laughing.

She sheds sparkles.

No, she sheds WATER -- having saved the second half of her drink, she douses herself with it, revels in the feeling of lemony rivulets cascading down her forehead, neck, shoulders and back. Then she accelerates, the IDEA that without half a bottle she's lighter and therefore faster more important than any actual PHYSICS involved.

Utena's an introvert who everyone assumes is an extrovert. She's a bonkler who gets tutored by a middle school boy. But when she runs, it isn't her troubled heart or her silly mind in the driver's seat. There's a deeper place still to draw from, a simpler place... Utena runs with her soul.

The treeline on the far side is approaching fast. The two of them are neck and neck as the sunlight starts pouring down more and more heavily upon them, through the thinning canopy--!

<Pose Tracker> Yuzuki Mayuzumi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

"...Mmm." Yuzuki goes quiet a bit after Fuu and Yumi confirm that Scaddlethorpe had to leave for family reasons. She then sighs. "Got it. Thanks anyway." At least the other teacher sounded interesting, though.

One of the other Infinity girls slows down alongside her, and whispers something about knowing her from someplace. Yuzuki's head saps to her left, towards the voice, frowning. "Huh? What're you talking about-" Yuzuki's eyes widen as she registers who she's talking to. "Holy crap. Kozue Kaoru?!" Yuzuki almost shouts. She almost drops the bottle again, since Kozue did kinda sneak up on her. She clears her throat, trying to regain her composure and NOT be starstruck for a moment.

"Style wise, yeah." Yuzuki says, grinning. "The flowy clothing is a bit more my thing."

She glances around as the path goes into the woods. "Where the heck is she leading us?" Yuzuki says offhandedly.

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

"Yeah!" Yumi answers Mikoto, briefly coasting along as Mikoto jogs beside her since of course she can do that. But Mikoto encourages her. Encourages her... to speed. "Do you think it's okay?" she wonders, and grins a little at the mere thought of speeding along. "...Yeah!"

She lifts a hand to wave back at Niramo who calls up, but doesn't turn her way--she's got to keep hold of the bike's handlebars, which she does. The water bottle she was holding hangs in the basket, capped again; her glasses are clear in the dim of the forest. Her hair starts to billow out behind her like a silver flag as she speeds up, the power of bicycle transmuting her recovering energy into forward motion. The wind as she speeds ahead is cooling, and she glides forward along the path with a newfound confidence.

And this newfound confidence sees her sweeping on the bike right past Utena and Kasagami both, into the sunlight.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Jogging through the woods is something quite different from jogging along a clear path or across an open field; Fuu has had to shed some speed as well, making more certain of where she's about to place her feet. It's still a good thing this *isn't* an outright race - she really would be trying not to lose, if it were a competition instead of a joint phys-ed class - but she still doesn't give up more speed than she has to. She's making sure, as best she can, not to drop to an outright walk.

As she drifts back among the joggers, she hears the worried questions about having to marry Mr. Cat, and can't help but chuckle. "This isn't even a ballet class," she comments, whether to Mikoto or to Yumi or to nobody in particular. That *is* Mr. Cat's domain, after all ...

At least for the most part. That she knows of.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue seems pretty pleased by Yuzu's answer.

"I admire your taste." She indicates, "Everyone should want to wear something that breathes..."

As Yuzuki asks where they're being led... Kozue looks up around the shadows of the cool forest.

"Well I attended Ohtori Academy for eleven years..."

The model sounds quite confident, reassuring...

"... and I think we're about to pass what was one of my favorite spots for taking someone for a secret make out session."

She says that completely without shame. Kozue keeps jogging for nigh on five seconds.

"... or maybe it was on the other side of the forest..."

With a low hum of uncertainty as she jobs along...

"You know, in a forest, one place is as good as any other when you're in the mood..."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

If there's one thing that's been burned into her very soul, is that one does not underestimate Utena Tenjou. No matter how much she wants to defeat her friend on the battlefield of rushing legs and foot coverings, she must not become arrogant in her confidence! A tiny little reminder she shoves into the back of her skull, mentally again and again like a mantra.

And Utena is the kind of challenge that she relishes. One that pushes her higher, farther, faster! Her own heart hammers from the force of effort and the need for oxygen in her extremities, but not nearly as much as pure excitement. Dark hair flutters back, her ponytail all but aloft as arms pump and legs ravage ankles while balance keeps feet going. Like some sort of beautiful pink boot-devouring shark, her heels are nipped at so often!

And it only makes her madly rush forward, wielding that advantage in height for all she can! Sweat drips down her collar, even her arms ache at this point, and soon enough she's being challenged right up to the end.

By the time they're neck and neck her attention is utterly on Utena. Joyful, almost mad enjoyment dances in her mind like it does whenever she's in a good fight. The past seems so distant, running like this, having to put every ounce of skill and desire to be skillful beyond that when presented with a friend like this.

Kasagami feels light as a feather, and she too can run without worries for a little bit. The only thing that matters is fighting for victory without regrets. Trying her hardest to win. And daring Utena, too, higher alongside her!

The canopy thins, and sunlight blares. The sheen of sweat and light has Kasagami looking like a grinning half demon half angel with flowing ponytail and rogueish locks up front, leaning forward at an almost dangerous running angle to try to claim that last few steps to beating Utena!

And then silver and a suspicously bike-mounted Yumi-like shape zooms past. The moment pops, and Kassie actually stumbles for a second in surprise as the Witch of Lost Ivy claims a surprise win!!!

She barely manages to not collapse into a pile of laughter as she finishes out the run with a gaze of...not quite satisfaction, but immense enjoyment as she stares at her fellow in defeat by Yumi-chan.

"I think...haaaah...we've been outsmarted and thoroughly defeated." Admits Kassie between breaths. The promise of many, many rematches doesn't even need be said, even as she fishes out a second water bottle.

"We're not marrying any felines, however!" The Duelist says far too loudly.

<Pose Tracker> Pink Moon Stick [Admin] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Kyou no Hajimari - Mai-HiME OST https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SXniH95IHY

Good things come in threes.

At the far side of the forest: a flag and a maid.

The flag is self-explanatory; Fumi's presence ahead of the group inexplicable, but its implication clear -- this is the final stop, or at least the trip's halfway point. A good place for a break, in any case.

Especially because of the companion, to flag and maid alike...

...the view.

The elevation drops sharply downwards, and this, the far side of the island, is the one that isn't facing Tokyo.

The whole ocean seems to open up before them -- dazzling in the afternoon sunlight -- sky and sea indistinguishable from one another on the endless horizon.

OOC: It's getting late for a weeknight, let's make this the last round!

<Pose Tracker> Mikoto Minagi [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Mikoto hums certainty, with a firm nod, as she's asked whether it's okay. And Yumi goes! Yumi goes! "Yeah!" Mikoto cheers, pumping a fist, as the Witch sails into the distance.

It's only after that she realises...

"Yumi's gone," Mikoto blinks, as she looks out past the track where she pedalled ahead.

... at least Yumi definitely won't come last now, right?

Luckily, Fuu is here with a logical point: this isn't ballet class. "It's only for ballet..?" Mikoto blinks, head tilting, before relief crosses over her face. "... right!" Kozue must just not have known that because she only just started going to Infinity, Mikoto thinks.

(Maybe Mikoto can't hear what Kozue is saying to Yuzuki. Or maybe she's just electing not to comment. Who knows?)

She keeps on jogging beside the blonde, who has apparently inherited a Mikoto satellite now Yumi has gone off to secure first place (and her tacos, which Mikoto hasn't forgotten about, either). Out safely through the forest with her friends, they come to --

how is fumi ahead of them again

-- the ocean cliffside! Mikoto wheels about on a heel as she comes to end of the road, and lets herself fall backwards - onto the grassy earth, not over the edge.

(She's done with that.)

"Haaa...!" Mikoto sighs, all stretched out. "This place... it's so nice!" Wind through the grass, seagulls soaring above... she hups as she swings her weight forward, sitting up again and pointing out to the ocean. "Look, look! There's fish in the waves!"

Are there, really? Isn't it hard to see from this far..?

Then again, that splash...

... was it a dolphin?!

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Utena does not so much lose her footing as, in their moment of mutual defeat, allow her momentum to pitch her forward willingly and wearily, into a controlled drop; she does not begrudge the ground its opportunity to dig pebbles and dirt into her palms and knees.

Then she flops over onto her back, still gasping for air, that physiological demand competing, even now, with laughter.

"Good run," she tells Kasagami, husky with weariness and mirth. "And congrats, Yumin..."

Her smile is as guileless as ever; her good-natured pleasure in the other girl's victory, no matter its circumstances, unfeigned.

"You're the fastest of us all, today!"

<Pose Tracker> Yumi Ohzora [Infinity Institute (11)] has posed.

It isn't a ballet class. And Yumi? Yumi blessedly can't hear from Kozue as she speeds ahead. Instead she comes to a slow and then a stop, breathing hard but not showing trouble with it. She smiles at Fumi as she reaches her, and stops, not immediately getting off the bike because with a burst of speed it was an effort.

But she is smiling, as Utena and Kasagami both speak up, and Utena congratulates her. "Ah, haha, thanks!" she says, rubbing the back of her neck. "Whew," she says, and then laughs, "I don't think it'll probably happen again, but I'll enjoy it for now!" She beams Utena's way.

She starts to swing off of the bike and pushes it towards Fumi again, "Thanks--I feel a lot better. And, heheh..." She looks a little happy-embarrassed.

But then she looks out over the view, and her mouth falls open as she sees what seems like the whole ocean, and stares out at it. ...She's smiling for a different reason, now.

"...Ne, Mikoto-chan," Yumi says, finding her now that they're all here. "I guess I got to see what it felt like after all, huh?"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Kasagami doesn't immediately topple no matter how she may stumble. Mostly out of stubborn pride, really. This lasts all of point-five seconds, when she puts arms behind her head and just WHUMPS onto the comfy grass.

Huff huff huff! She looks up into the sky and out to the ocean. It's a view she's never seen, or at least never taken the time to enjoy. A glance to the rest flags of pink.

"Always...my pleasure!" Her eyes gleam.

Only after she gets water bottle number three, does she finally gaze upon the victorious Yumi-chan.

"This means I must render unto thee a tribute of delicious tacos, oh Queen of Bikes." Kassie's culinary fate, thus sealed! Wink! Her gaze finally falls to the ocean, seeking out the dolphins that Mikoto speaks about.

<Pose Tracker> Niramo Umokeshi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

The forest path seems relatively clear of any undergrowth, likely due in part to the lack of sunlight reaching the ground floor and perhaps a little Ohtori groundskeeping. That's fortunate for Niramo, as the rushing ravenette would be covered in a fine later of dirt if she took a tumble at this part of the jog. A half-filled bottle is filled with minty foam as the contents are shaken with each pump of the arm and each jostling footstep.

Breaking out of forest cover and back into the light of day, Niramo is making up for lost ground and time. She wasn't about to complain about Yumi using Fumi's bike since this wasn't a race. In fact, pedeling sounds much more fun than just jogging...

Niramo stumbles to a halt near the flag before drinking the rest of her bottle, even if chugging water was bad for you. She's not even going to question how Fumi got here before anyone else did, she did give some free water after all.

Huffing a few times as she leans by the 'halfway' flag, Niramo moves out of the way of upcoming joggers and sits herself down close to the edge to get a better view. It seems a little odd not being able to see Tokyo out of the corner of her eye when she looks at the ocean, but the unimpeded view makes up for it with the natural beauty shown before them all.

"A dolphin? Where?!" Niramo sits up a little straighter as she looks downwards at the nearby ocean surface, looking for the elusive water mammal.

<Pose Tracker> Fuu Hououji [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Rather than collapsing onto the sunlit grass, Fuu slows from jogging, to a brisk stride, to walking, and finally stops, tapping her fingers lightly on the flagpole - not that she really needed to, but the gesture holds some meaning for her.

That meaning, however, pales next to the view. If there is one thing on all of Southern Cross Island that makes it worth visiting, that makes it worth putting up with the superiority complexes of the wealthy students who barely know what a 'scholarship' is, save that those who need them are somehow lesser, as are those who choose not to attend Ohtori even if their families can afford it?

  • This view.* This moment, the splendor of the ocean under the sunny and clear blue sky. That makes it worth the trip.

It's a view which Fuu will endeavor to etch into her memory - one of the *real* treasures of Southern Cross Island. And if she'd ducked out of the joint phys-ed class today, she might never have seen it.

Yes. Entirely and absolutely worth the trip, and the jogging - before and after.

<Pose Tracker> Yuzuki Mayuzumi [Juuban Public School (9)] has posed.

Yuzuki can only laugh awkwardly at Kozue's make out comment. TMI much?

And then someone whizzes by on a bike. "Wha- HEY! That's gotta be cheating!" Yuzuki picks up speed, rushing through the forest after the bike rider. In fact she picks up enough speed that she doesn't stop before the steep incline.

She loses her footing and skids to a halt, landing firmly on her butt at the end of the line. "Oww...." Yuzuki whines, rubbing her lower back. She then turns her attention to the vast sea ahead of them.

<Time.> Spark chimes, though she doesn't say much more at the moment.

Yuzuki remains seated on the sunlit grass, and looks out over the ocean. She's not thinking about the timer she put on at the start right now - because this view has all her attention.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Infinity Institute (9)] has posed.

Kozue doesn't pipe up to defend Yumi. Instead allowing Yuzuki to make her own assumptions. Perhaps she simply enjoys the chaos...

She doesn't speed up. Instead she simply slows down, like she's cooling down from a run. When she breaks the tree line, she has her hands on the back of her sweat-covered hair as she walks past Yuzuki to look out to the sea.

There's an expression of rueful wistfulness, until eventually she dips her head and closes her eyes.

"Heh. You know... you never realize just how much you miss a view like this until it's taken away from you."