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John Umland, Beater
Wicked cool, my friend.
Thu Nov 17, 2016 12:17
50.96.102.188

John had also not slept well the night before the match, though not because of Pecari. He had had a packet of letters from home, and one of them had included a word search puzzle.

This was not, in and of itself, anything that strange. He and his friends and family regularly exchanged all sorts of puzzles, riddles, and pages from things they’d read. This one, though, had come with a letter which had boasted that the puzzle would have him begging for mercy, a prearranged code word which had let him know to go to the ninth line down. It had started out reading YOKSCRFCEJWUGDAW; he used the tabula recta to shift that three letters back into VLHPZOCZBGTRDAXT, then used their current keyword to turn that into PTOLEMYPTOLEMYPT. From there, it was just a tedious matter of counting squares until he had plaintext, which he could only stare at in utter confusion for a few minutes, because it was GSTEVCECKISINRCIA.

G. Stevcek was Billy Boy. He had gotten this latest nickname after John had managed to show Joanie a picture, so she could at least know who she was speaking to if he figured out she was a friend of John’s and succeeded in cornering her, not to mention try to avoid getting cornered in the first place. That much he was sure he was reading right. No way he inserted spaces, though, made much sense of ISINRCIA. There was an obvious and readable answer, but he was having a hard time figuring out why Bill would be there….

Right before bed, he had finally had an idea, and it had resulted in poor sleep. There were two reasons: either he was going to really elaborate lengths to introduce himself into the neighborhood…or everything John thought he knew was wrong. His gut violently rejected that idea, but his brain couldn’t help but point out that the balance of evidence was in favor of it and that emotions were not relevant. It had not made for a quieting thought to go to bed on.

It was morning now, though, and he was making himself focus on the game. Quidditch was not something he was wrong about. He and Clark had a brilliant plan to get the trophy back and it was going to work and if it didn’t, John also had a back-up plan - shouting rude things at Park to distract him. He hoped, though, that he wouldn’t have to resort to it. For one thing, he liked to think he was better than that, and for another, Clark didn’t actually know he had this plan. He had a feeling his friend would disapprove of it.

John had been puzzled to see Clark with Jake Manger, of all people, at breakfast, but then the captain showed up with a visibly nicer broom than usual. Jake really was, John mused, a decent sort when he wasn’t on the Pitch; since it was Clark, it never occurred to John that coercion could have been involved in obtaining the broom. Jake had surely just lent it to him without even thinking that this could well set Teppenpaw up for a finals loss. Joe was probably going to want to smack his team’s Seeker when John gloated to him about it, John thought happily as Clark began his speech to the team. His brother had to be at least one of a very small group, a Teppenpaw whose Teppenpaw-ness was proved by the fact that he worried about not being good enough for his House….

He grinned when Clark reiterated about not worrying if he was nearby when a chance to hit Jamie was available and nodded, trusting Clark to indeed get out of Dodge if that happened. While Clark was shaking hands with Joella, John took a moment to add a last-minute bit of reinforcement for Louis. “You’ve got this,” he said to the younger Beater. “Just remember what we’ve practiced, don’t feel sorry for any of them, and don’t panic if you make a mistake or if they catch you a in fork.” John had borrowed the chess term to apply to situations like the one in one of his early games as a Beater, a situation where he had to choose which teammate to defend or whether to defend or attack. “Good luck.”

Clark began his grid and John began his vigil. Soon, quicker than he’d really expected, Sammy Meeks took a shot at Clark and threw Clark off the grid. Luckily, this, too, could work to their advantage, throwing Park off further as John raced in as fast as he could on his own school broom and smacked the Bludger toward the Pecari Seeker instead, hoping to catch him off-guard in the early-developing chaos. If he could injure Park right now, it would all get so much easier, though just unsettling and alarming him would work, too. It looked like Meeks was not going to just come and go as much as she had in the last match, which was unfortunate from where John was sitting (an unprotected Seeker was often a nervy Seeker, he thought) but John thought he could work around her. She was good, no doubt, but he was bigger than her. He could probably hit the Bludger harder and further and have the stamina to continue doing so longer just because of a happy (for him, anyway; not so much for her) accident of biology.

  • Are you calling me wicked? Wicked cool, I hope?Captain Clark Dill, Seeker, Thu Nov 17 08:39
    Well, they said a battle plan never lasted past first contact with the enemy. He probably wouldn't go so far as to call Pecari 'the enemy' but the axiom worked well enough for rivals, too. He had... more
    • Wicked cool, my friend. — John Umland, Beater, Thu Nov 17 12:17
      • Nah, fam, just the normal kind of wickedAC Sammy Meeks, Beater, Mon Nov 21 00:14
        Welp, she didn’t hit Clark. Sammy hadn’t really expected to--the Aladren was too good, and he had the good fortune of an Assistant Captain Beater, just like another fabulous team--but it did feel... more
        • No rest for me thenJamie Park, Seeker, Thu Nov 24 08:28
          Jamie would never admit it to anyone but he was actually feeling kind of nervous. They had a title to defend. That was a very different feeling than being the plucky have-a-go heroes looking to end... more
          • No worries, I'm happy to keep you busy.John Umland, Beater, Thu Nov 24 13:05
            The deflection of his Bludger was unwelcome, but not altogether unexpected. What was unexpected was the glimpse of Meeks’ expression John caught as he flew after it again. He had only seen it for a... more
            • You guys have fun.Captain Clark Dill, Seeker, Fri Nov 25 09:52
              Clark returned to the starting point of his pattern and began it again for the second time just as Sammy cracked her bat on the bludger and shot it back his way again. John was there this time,... more
              • Winners usually do. AC Sammy Meeks, Beater, Fri Nov 25 15:57
                Bad news: she was gonna have to back down first from the little game of pseudo-catch she played with John. Jamie needed to mark Clark, which meant sending Bludgers at the Aladren Seeker’s face was no ... more
                • Pecaris know how to partyJamie Park, Seeker, Sat Nov 26 03:27
                  Jamie was expecting the bludger to be sent hurtling down into the Chaser game (though, as they were dominating with the Quaffle right now, perhaps it was better that it didn’t - this fact, however,... more
                  • After the game you can write an instruction manual for usClark Dill, Seeker, Sat Nov 26 12:36
                    Clark looked back at the sound of the bat meeting bludger, but it was just Sammy again, and John would take care of that one. Clark kept going. After another few seconds, he glanced back again to see ... more
                    • I prefer to do it my way.John Umland, Beater, Sat Nov 26 16:35
                      For a moment, John thought Sammy was, indeed, going to send the Bludger back to him, something he found a little disappointing. The one thing he respected about her House was, after all, that they... more
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