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Running of the Horses; Open
Topic Started: Apr 3 2018, 12:49 AM (399 Views)
VirgoSaberOfWo
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It was a relatively warm afternoon, and with afternoon classes over for the day, students were free to pursue club activities, visit the town, do homework, or just generally unwind. One student in particular was taking advantage of the latter; Rather than tending to her garden by the dorms, today Juli was on the track to get some exercise.

Having checked the times the track would be in use, the teen made sure it would be free that day, so she could run. In most situations, the brown-haired teen would join the a track club, but circumstances dictated she couldn't do so. After all, it would be unfair to non-super speedsters to run against a centaur in competition.

"Okei, teemme tämän!"

Setting up a laser stopwatch at the 500m mark at the end of one of the straightaways, the centaur girl trotted back to the other end of the straight to set up the other part of the stopwatch system. Stopping at the start line, she unzipped her fleece and set it aside. Adjusting her weight as she readied herself to run, Juli took a deep breath before pushing off from the ground with small plumes of dust in her wake.

Thundering down the track as her 650kg bulk soon reached her top speed of 28mph, the teen was focused on her end-goal of the 500m mark at the end of the straight.
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GrimRPer
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"A centaur? My, haven't seen one since my last wander within Brocéliande.~", that refined speed came from somewhere close to a tree? There was no one there, was there? Yes there was... Standing on a branch, a girl wearing what is quite regal for this age, rapier sheathed hanging at her waist.

As this girl traversed to the blind side of the tree, she had changed clothes in what some would call magic, but was in truth all thanks to stage magic training, being quick enough to change clothes on the fly.

In truth, Elayne kind of just arrived, catching the end of Juli's 500m sprint. She would be patient as to let the centaur girl and come to her.
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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"Hyvä on!" ("Alright!")

Thundering past the second laser of the stopwatch system, Juli deliberately ignored the right-hand turn, in favour of slowing herself down without a messy tumble. Slowing from a full gallop to a canter, down to a trot, and then to a walk, in the space of maybe eighty metres, the teen turned around and headed back to the stopwatches to check her time.

"Se tuntui nopeammin kuin ennen..." ("That felt faster than before...")

With her ears twitching and turning, Juli was somewhat aware of her watcher's presence, but just not who or where they were. Reaching the end-mark again, the brown-haired centaur checked the little display for her sprint time. Reading the numbers, she let herself smile; 36.5 seconds. Her best time yet.

Streching her arms, Juli halted, her ears straight up. Her nerves were on edge, and it was bringing memories back of Afghanistan... For a moment, she twisted and turned, looking all around her, seeing only rocks in her memory. Reaching to her waist for the Kel-Tec PLR-16 Ultra-compact Carbine slung there, the teen's hand grasped only air, as the memory vanished instantly.

"Kuka siellä?! Näytä itsesi!" ("Who's there?! Show yourself!")
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GrimRPer
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Elayne blinked a few times upon the sight of an imaginary firearm. But soon gave a giggle and responded while walking towards Juli "Elayne Duval, just a French girl, <but maybe you wouldn't believe the later part after all, what would a french girl be doing here?> , as she hastily spoke the later part, she chose to do so in French, as if to get her point across.

"But again I wonder, what brings a centaur so far from Europe?", thankfully Elayne herself had a kind aura about her, and at the same time would feel like someone who shouldn't be among common folk.
Edited by GrimRPer, Apr 4 2018, 04:41 AM.
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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"Juli. Juli Katariina."

Turning to face the interloper, Juli pawed at the all-weather track nervously with one hoof. As a requirement from her time as a PMC (and Child Soldier), she had needed to have at least a basic grasp of several languages aside from Finnish and English, so she could understand what the rabbit-girl had said.

"I'm here by choice. I had a choice about where to go, and I came here. The island is so peaceful most of the time, and the fresh air is rather good for my condition."

Like she had with Ezan and Zamari when she was planting her little garden between the two Dorm buildings, Juli was skirting what her problem was. PTSD, after all, wasn't fully understood, and like so many other mental health problems, there was a stigma around it, that caused most sufferers to be shunned by the people at large.

It was for such reason, that she was at the school; The relatively isolated nature of the island, its lower population, and the monitoring by SERAPH, meant that she could slowly adjust to a more "normal" environment safely and with minimal risk to other people if she were to be caught up in a particularly violent flashback.
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GrimRPer
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"So, Juli been to a chaotic past, I presume? Mmhmm, I suppose this island is peaceful indeed, Vent Noir didn't get any nervous when he woke up and has been behaving nicely with others himself.", the golden-haired human student responded with a nod or two.

That reminded her of a familiar feeling... "Tis almost like Brocéliande, except far more urban. Pray tell, has Ms Juli been to a forest of the fair folk, or has it been in this new world that thy life has began?", with refined speech and tone, the fellow student continued with their conversation.
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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"...That is... not exactly inaccurate, I suppose. It's been... Rough for me."

Tilting her head to one side slightly, Juli focused her soft blue-eyed stare on Elayne as she spoke. Having planned to sprint several times, and even do a few laps of the course that afternoon, the Centaur had left her fleece by the start line, and her supply of carrots with it. A fact, she was somewhat regretting now, since it would be rude to walk or trot half a kilometer to the other end of the straight to reclaim it.

"I used to live in a village in Finlad, but it's gone now. Humans, and Centaurs, living together peacefully... Though I've been away from my homeland for six years. I've been to Egypt, Mexico, and... Well, Afghanistan, and now, to Japan. I had to... Leave a number of friends behind though, to come here."

Don't cry... Don't cry... Don't cry in front of someone you've only just met...

Blinking away the tears that threatened to form at the memory of her colleagues who had been killed, especially the seven who had been executed by terrorists before the remaining five (counting herself) had been rescued by Austrian Special Forces, Juli tried to keep her composure, but it was an uphill battle, especially for the generally calm and gentle centaur girl.
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GrimRPer
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"However rough the road may be, however aching may stumble upon thee, stand and step straight, never err to thy path, nor to thy folk. A sunny sky often follows the rainy night. Perhaps is best you resume your exercises, and free thyself from the creeping past. Or perhaps...", as Elayne spoke, she had her arms crossed, but when she uncrossed them... A hand held a bird-like black whistle.

"Perhaps it may be best for thee to keep exercising, and me to follow.", and thus she blew into the whistle. It was a sharp cawing that it produced, and for a while nothing seemed to have happened... Then a response.

*WARK!*

Something covered the sun, a black shadow with red eyes, which soon landed behind Elayne and rested its head on her shoulder, letting the french girl pet it. It was a monster bird, no doubt.

"Juli, be acquainted with my loyal steed, a friend at first sight, Vent Noir... A chocobo. And Vent, please greet Juli Katariina properly.", his eyes may have felt wild, but he took a step to the side and stared deep into Juli's eyes...

Before he lowered his head into a courteous bow, spreading his wings to the side. He was quite well taught...
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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"Were it that I could, there's nothing waiting for me back in Finland at the moment."

Ah, of course... The reason she had been able to become an employee of Drakenthorne PMC; The fact that her family were all killed by a Finnish Pro-Human Supremacist terrorist group when she was a child... Along with the rest of the population of her village. A massacre, to cover up the theft of a supposedly-magic sword.

"It wouldn't be wise for you to try and keep up with me unless you haOW! That hurt!"

As Elayne blew on her whistle, Juli's ears had both rotated and tilted back behind her, her more sensitive hearing definitely upset by the loud, sharp blast of sound.

Clenching and unclenching her fist a few times, the centaur looked about her to see what, if anything, was summoned by the whistle. She was getting impatient, as her tail-swishing and pawing of the ground showed. She was about to question the girl, when the large shadow blotted out the light for a moment.

Back-pedalling in shock, with her ears now pointing out and down in shock, and a neigh-like sound from her throat, Juli managed to keep from rearing up or bolting as Vent Noir appeared. Managing to get herself under control again, as Elayne introduced her friend, the teen tilted her head as the avian creature stared at her.

"I... See...? I've never encountered a, what did you say, Chocobo...? Before."

Ah... W...Was he...? Yes, the Chocobo was bowing to her. Blinking a few times, Juli recovered her wits enough to bow back to the large bird.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Vert Noir, was it...?"
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GrimRPer
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"Apologies, I should have informed of how unusual and sharp is the summoning of my loyal mount and friend.", as she commented that, Elayne let the two share their greetings, before she mounted on the back of the monster bird. "His name's Vent Noir, the Black Wind. As his name suggests, he is agile, wild and free, like the winds... And underneath the coat of darkness lies a heart of gold. Please, show Juli thy kindness, Vent Noir.", the monster bird obeyed her "master", if one could call the french blonde that.

Approaching Juli with Elayne on his back, the best lowered his head under the centaur's hand and rubbed his feathers between her fingers, letting out a low *wark*, inviting her to caress his head. His feathers would feel so clean, warm, soft...
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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Ah... So fluffy...

Gently stroking the feathered crown of Vent's head, Juli was amazed at how soft and fluffy his feathers were... It was a texture much akin to the myriad of plushies and teddy bears she had in her room, one of the many things that the therapist had recommended as a means to help with the emotional factors behind her PTSD.

After a few moments, the brown-haired teen looked up from mount to rider, with a slight smile on her face.

"Well then, shall we take a lap or two, while there's still time before dinner?"

Picking up the ending timer from the end of the straight, Juli began to walk back up to the "start" line, or rather, the other end of the straight where she had started the run before. Since she wasn't running this time, it would take around ten minutes to cover it. Though, Juli would walk a few metres past it, to place the laser device at a distance where her body-length wouldn't deactivate the clock as soon as it was started.

Returning to the start-line, she pawed the line with her rubber-clad horseshoe, getting ready to once again run down the track, this time for a full lap of the 2km-long obround circuit. While she was unsure how fast Vent was, Juli was at least partially confident that the chocobo wouldn't be in her way at the two sweeping corners... After all, over half a ton of centaur was not something you wanted to hit or be hit by, even by accident, on a race course.

"Ready?"

A glance to the side, to make sure Elayne and Vent were ready to go, before slipping back into her native Finnish from familiarity rather than any malicious intent.

"Kolme" ("Three")

A shift in bodyweight distribution, in preparation for the sprint.

"Kaksi" ("Two")

A deep breath, and a slight clenching of her hands.

"Yksi" ("One")

Eyes forwards, and just focus on the running the race...

"Mennä!" ("Go!")

And just like before in the shorter 500m sprint, the teen was off like a shot, all four legs kicking up small plumes of dust in her wake.
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GrimRPer
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Vent Noir had no objections to getting his feathers ruffled like so, as it was relaxing to Juli, it was also to him. And as Juli proposed a couple laps, given the much time they had in hands, Elayne gave a reassuring nod and added "I have yet to think of something to dine on. Maybe I will think something through the laps.". Leading Vent Noir to the starting line, instructing the monster bird in a gentle tone to not go full speed, after all she didn't intend to outdo Juli.

Once they were all ready, Elayne awaited what she knew was the countdown. And on cue, she mumbled "Allons-y!", for her chocobo to sprint after Juli. Little surprising was that he managed to keep up to Juli's pace, maintaining a safe distance through the lap. Unless asked to do his best by none other than Elayne, Vent Noir would not surpass Juli.
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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Within a dozen metres, Juli had accelerated from standing to trot, to canter, to full-blown gallop, hitting her top speed within seconds of leaving the starting line. Reaching her top speed of 28mph, the Centaur focused on the first goal of the run; The end of the straight.

As she thundered down the straight, Juli could see the corner getting closer and closer. Unlike the previous run, she was going to take the corner. Hitting the corner in under 40 seconds like before, the teen began to take the next 500 metre leg; The first of the two 500 metre corners. The corner itself was almost imperceptible at least initially; Being a difference of 0.36 degrees for every meter travelled.

Come on... I can't lose speed here... I can't!

As she ran the corner, Juli practically willed herself to avoid the usual trap of a corner; The deceleration caused by the turn. Helped of course, by the exceptionally shallow curve of the track itself, Juli was able to avoid slowing down, compared to a human runner who would have simply leaned slightly to avoid their own speed loss.

Powering out of the corner and onto the second straight, she kept running, her hooves reverberating along the polyurethane surface like a thunderhead. It had been maybe 75 seconds since Juli and Vent Noir had started running, and the Centaur was already glad for the company... It was incredibly rare that she could run with someone, and not have to slow down to their level, like the few times she had been able to run with the track club.

Soon enough, the brown-haired teen could see the track beginning to curve to the right again ahead of her; The final leg of the massive track, and the final half-kilometer. Once more like the previous corner, Juli threw her over-half-ton bulk into the gentle corner. Trying to eak out every last iota of speed before the looming finish, she pushed herself as hard as she dared... She had a time and target to beat... She had to run the 2km in less than 150 seconds.

Just... A little... More...

Crossing the finish, with the second laser stopwatch, Juli began to decelerate as quickly and as safely as she could. Covering nearly a hundred metres before she could stop, the Centaur began to trot back to the timers.

"Oh, I can't look! What does it say? Is it under two and a half minutes...?

If Elayne were to look at the display of the stopwatches, they'd find it flashing "2:4778", a little less than two and a half seconds faster than the time Juli was hoping for.
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GrimRPer
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Elayne held onto Vent Noir as they followed Juli safely, focusing only in giving her some more motivation in racing... Once they came to a stop, Elayne gave a nod to the centaur, proceeding to check the stopwatch, while letting Vent Noir do a lap by himself at such speed that was almost twice that of the centaur. Quite show off, ain't he? Granted, he wasn't holding back and Elayne wasn't riding him.

"Two minutes, forty-seven seconds and almost four-fifths of a second. Still no two minutes and a half, but I think that from now on it's all about a balanced diet and improving your technique. I'm no professional, but have taken into reading it once.." , soon after Elayne spoke, Vent Noir came to a full stop next to her, cawing inquisitively for pats, and getting headpats as a result.
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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“Two forty-seven? That’s slower than I thought I was going... I must have slowed down somewhere.”

Picking up her fleece, if only to take the bag with a peeled whole carrot from inside the right-hand pocket, Juli frowned as she walked over to the French girl.

“I ran the half-kilometer in thirty-six and a half seconds, that means I should have run the circuit in two twenty-six. I lost nearly twenty-two seconds somewhere.”

That was… Frustrating… For the centaur teen. By her estimation, she had been going flat-out at twenty-eight miles per hour. That meant she should have done the run in 2:26 on the nose, not nearly 2:48.

“I need to run it again. I can’t understand where I lost the time at all. Can you watch me, maybe find out where I slowed down?”

Chewing on the vegetable as she thought, the teen awaited for the response from her companion, her tail swishing a few times with her irritation at the disparity in her time versus her estimation.
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GrimRPer
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Elayne thought for a while, shaking her head briefly at a thought or another, before concluding a few possibilities: "The turns. I suppose it is possible to lose five to ten seconds in a full circuit because of those. Or the lane could be influencing at some point... Hm... Okay then, do it again, I'll watch and keep track of the time too. Vent Noir, stay clear of the track for Juli, please."

And by doing so, they cleared the path for the centaur, as the french girl would keep watch on Juli's performance, but not worried specifically about the time, but rather where the speed may have dipped. "A number of thing factors in a race's performance: average speed, hills, obstacles, turns, wind resistance and even wind itself. The speed did feel constant for me, but can I say the same for all other aspects?", in her thoughts she pursued an answer.
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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“Normally, I’d agree, but they’re very wide and sweeping, it’s nearly impossible to lose speed on them.”

At 0.36 degrees/meter, the corners were so gradual, you would have to be looking for the curve, to realise you were actually turning until you crossed the entire half-kilometer corner. Walking along to the start line again as she ate her carrot, Juli positioned herself to take another stab at her 2:30 record.

“Ready?”

Taking a deep breath, Juli shifted her weight in preperation to kick off the starting line. With a forceful kick, the brown-haired centaur jumped off the line into a run. Within seconds, she had reached her top speed and was thundering down the track again.

Just like before, she crossed the first 500 meters within 37 seconds, driving straight into the corner without an instance of hesitation. Like before, the gentle curve offered next-to-no impediment on her speed, soon bursting out of the turn and onto the opposite straight in just over seventy seconds. Pushing herself as hard as she could, Juli galloped down the straight, eating up the meters as quickly as she could. Hitting the final turn, the teen tried to keep her pace going as she burst around the final hundred meters, crossing the line again at top speed.

This time, the timer would read “2:2603”, under her target time of two and a half minutes.

Though, it would be nearly a minute before Juli returned to her companions, having been so focused on the run, that she had nearly reached the end of the straight again, before she realised she finished the run.
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GrimRPer
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"Now that you mention... You have to be very conscious of any impact this curve has on time to let it be detrimental to speed, which seems to not be the case at all... Anyhow, ready when you are.", Elayne prepared to observe her time.

And for their surprise... "Two minutes and twenty-six seconds, pretty much. Hm... Care to race again, this time followed by Vent Noir? He should maintain his speed on par with yours, while still staying behind, Juli.", her words were confirmed by the monster bird cawing with a wing half extended up.

"Could it have been some sort of performance anxiety? What was truly different then and now was that Juli was being tailed by me and Vent Noir. So, if the unusual time repeats itself, that will explain it., or so the french girl thought.
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VirgoSaberOfWo
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“Two twenty-six…? I… I did it..! Päihitin parasta aikaani!” (”I beat my best time!”)

Giving a relieved laugh, Juli managed a wide smile, one of the most sincere she had had for months. She had tried for the best part of a month, to beat her best times, and finally today, she had managed it!

Such was her elation, that the centaur nearly missed Elayne’s words, asking if she wanted to run the course a third time with Vent Noir following her like the first time. Swishing her tail a few times, the brown-haired teen nodded.

“Alright, though it’ll have to be the last run of the day. I still have to return the stopwatches to the storage shed before sunset, and shower before dinner too.”

Moving back to the start line for the final time that afternoon, Juli took a deep breath as she focused on the track. She could do this. It won’t be a fluke, it can’t be a fluke…

“Ready…? Set… …Go…!”

Kicking off the ground like before, Juli quickly brought herself up to a full gallop. Though, despite being half-racehorse and half-draughthorse, her stamina wasn’t limitless. If she ran at full speed for more than a single lap at a time, she would be too exhausted to continue. Though, even a single full lap was pushing it being just over a mile at a time.

Running into the first corner, she focused on the track, ignoring the dull ache in her legs and her chest.

Just… Keep… running… Push… Through… It…

Oddly, the voice in her head didn’t sound like her own, and more like a middle-aged man’s, despite it being her own thoughts…

You can do it, kiddo!

Keep running, kid!

Go for it, girlie!


More voices filtered into her head, voices from her past, during her time as a member of a PMC… Men and women she had trained with, fought alongside, bled with…

With a blink of surprise, Juli found herself thundering down the final corner, her breathing starting to come in ragged gasps as her hooves ate up the distance. Crossing the line once more, the teen tried to slow back down from her gallop into a trot so she could return to her companions to find her time.

This time, the display would read “2:2756”, while not faster than the previous time, was still faster than the first run of the full track.
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GrimRPer
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"Don't worry, I'll return them for you when we are done for the day. More important than getting a good time in this run, have fun.", Elayne would keep a trained eye on Juli, hoping to understand what would afflict her time. However over and over she worried for the centaur girl well-being.

She was pushing herself too hard, might even get hurt in the process. But could not stop them now, not when it could hurt her pride. Elayne knew the pride of a warrior was to be valued, no matter the kind of warrior: a racer, a fighter, a healer, a wise. In a sense, all were warriors of their own fights...

Elayne herself had a stare of uttermost focus as Juli crossed the line, eyes on the stopwatch. Analyzing the results, she made a conclusion: "It is a very good time! To be fair, you worried me there for a moment, feared you could get hurt, Juli, but this result satisfies me a lot. My guess was that maybe a competitive performance anxiety could have harmed your time back then, but thankfully this guess of mine was disproved."

Vent Noir came to a stop next her and, reaching within the bag she carried, she pulled out a potato as a reward for her bird, who chomped on it. Though his beak cut through the vegetable without problems, it had careful and calculated movements, as to not wound her master.

"Now, Juli, worry not for the stopwatches. Leave them to me, while you shower.", the blonde girl informed her centaur friend.
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