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World of Darkness: Attrition - Surf 'n' Turf

Kaitlin Vandussen

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Tuesday, August 16th

It was early Tuesday morning and another beautiful day in LA. The sun shone brightly in a cloudless sky, the breeze blowing in from the coast with the smell of salt, cutting the rising heat and smog from commuters to something manageable. In Kaitlin's view, it was a thousand times better than the hot winds that blew in from the desert in Vegas, though all in all, she preferred a dry heat to the humidity.

Wearing a pair of denim cut-offs and a new, snug, one-piece black-and-blue swimsuit she had found on sale (of the five-finger variety), hips shaking to the music piping through her iPhone, Kaitlin was in the drive-way, putting the final touches on securing the trio of surfboards to the roof-rack of her beaten-up, almost thirty-year old Toyota Camry station-wagon. She had already made a run to Home-Depot to get some pipe insulation to cover the cross-bars and this time, was carefully following online instructions on her smartphone. During her first attempt, the boards had nearly fallen on her when she went to sit behind the wheel. At least, she already had the right kind of straps.

Kaitlin's Car

This is a pain in the ass! I can just throw my skateboards or snowboards in the back. But it looks like so much fun! Two days ago, she had been at the Venice Beach Skatepark - very sweet by the way - and on every jump and turn on the half-pipe, her eyes had been drawn again and again to the ocean, so tantalizingly close, and those surfing the waves. I betcha I can do that! It's really just skateboarding on water - the skills must be transferable... And I don't think wolves swim and vampires must sink or melt in the water. I'm sure I read that somewhere.

She had been staying at Oneca's for a week now, still didn't have a job or a place of her own to stay - beyond the storage unit, which she still had to the rest of the month and that was too confining... and technically, not allowed - and hadn't thought about school or what else she was going to do. Sure, she cooked - she wasn't bad - and helped around the house as she could, but she still felt like a total mooch, which, considering her larcenous ways, shouldn't have bothered her much, but it did. She was coming to see some of her house-mates as friends and she didn't steal from friends. But the idea of surfing sparked excitement and curiosity and that was progress, of a sort.

Progress that almost derailed when she looked around the next day and found out how damn expensive a big plank of wood (yes, she knew it wasn't really wood) cost. Well, thankfully, there was another way, it would just take a busy night. She was able to trade in a high-end digital camera - those were great, size for value - for a pair of used longboards at a pawn-shop.

The shortboard had purely been opportunity, just sitting there on top of a SUV, no one in sight. It was a huge, yellow Hummer, and everyone knew only douches drove those, so he was practically asking for his board to get swiped. Admittedly, lugging the six-foot length back to Oneca's and stashing it in the pool-house had been a pain and felt unnatural. Maybe three boards was overkill, but she had never tried surfing before, but assumed different styles handled differently and wanted a variety to find out which one suited her.

Kaitlin was going over the straps one more time - in the process of reading how to secure surfboards, she had read what happened when they weren't secured properly, she noticed August stepping out, eyes narrowing against the glare of the morning sun. She hadn't seen much of her yesterday and she seemed rather somber, which was a pity. She had a pretty smile. It was summer, it wasn't like she was being crushed under school work. Was she?

"Hey, August, whassup?" Kaitlin chirped, giving the pretty, dark-haired co-ed a wave.

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"Hey, Kaitlin," August called after a moment. "Not much... just wandering around the house." All of her reflexes seemed off to her; she was still in shock from yesterday. Everything in her life had just accumulated into one giant mess, ending with the meeting at the chantry. August was still more or less reeling from the onslaught of knowledge, as well as the sheer number of people in her life who were bat-shit nuts.

She kinda wanted to move. She kinda wanted to leave the state. For all that she'd begged Declan not to go in the mad fear of losing her newest friend, she now wanted to flee. But August's life was here; everything she'd worked for or valued was here in Los Angeles. And running away was letting her disease win. She wanted to fight it and take it down. She wanted to walk away from this the winner, and someday have someone write a best-selling book about her courageous struggle. August Turner: A Path out of Darkness had a nice ring to it.

Her green eyes were still half-distant as she finally glanced at Kaitlin and saw what she was really doing. "Oh, shit! Do you surf?"

"Sure do!" Kaitlin said with all the confidence of someone who had done this more than never.

"Oh... uh... would you mind..." August paused as she pulled up her courage. "Can you teach me? I've wanted to learn but haven't had the funds." Or been brave enough to go alone and see if some guys would teach me.

"Oh, yeah, no problem," Kaitlin said, giving the rope around 'her' boards one last tug to ensure security. "I'd love to. You get changed into beach attire, and I'll be waiting here."

"Sure," August said, turning around. Okay, this was exactly what she needed - some time away from the weird stuff in her life. She took two paces and turned back. "Say, wanna bring Aradia along? She was saying she hadn't gotten to the beaches yet."

"More the merrier," Kaitlin said. "I even have enough boards."

August went back inside, feeling cheerful for the first time in a while. She bounced up the stairs and hurried to her room, shucking off her shorts and tank-top for the emerald-green bikini. It was a little little but she looked hot in it, unquestionably. She grabbed a white light-weight wrap-around and a towel from her closet. Her next stop was Aradia's; she knocked on the door and said, "Aradia, Kait's going to teach me to surf, wanna come?"

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August heard the a slight "whumph" noise from behind the door, and a second later, Aradia threw it open. She looked disheveled, the bright-pink streaked ponytail her hair had been pulled back in looked like it was about to fall out, and the young acrobat's tank top was riding up her side a little crookedly. Just past her, August could see several pillows scattered around on the floor to cushion the occasional fall.

"Hey - I was just practicing. What's up again?"

"Surfing. Kait's gonna teach me, we thought you might like to come."

"Awesome!! One sec!"

She swung the door close with a bit of a bang, and August heard her rummaging around in her room briefly. Living with Oneca's cousin had been a bit startling at first - she tried to behave herself, especially when she first moved in - but the pretty circus performer was naturally exuberant, and had a tendency to pound her way down the stairs, talk loudly when she got excited, and slam the door when she was in a hurry. If she weren't so easygoing and likable and fun, it would probably get annoying.. but it was hard to dislike Aradia, she had a certain charisma about her that was hard to resist. Except for Saja, who seemed to find her exuberance exasperating, and who seemed completely and totally unable to intimidate or cajole Aradia into behaving in any remotely proper and respectable manner.

Less than two minutes later, Aradia - master of the quick-change, which she chalked up to all her years of performing - opened the door dressed in a slightly worn simple black bikini, the same pair of jean shorts she was wearing at the party, a much neater ponytail, and a pair of black flip-flops. It would be a dull look on anyone else, but the pink streaks livened it up quite a bit, and besides, what did she care how hot she looked - she was going to learn to surf!! She grabbed a brightly-colored canvas bag from where it was draped over the end of the bed so she'd have it to stuff her extras into once they got to the beach, then turned to August and gestured.

"Awesome, lemme grab a towel and let's go!"

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Kaitlin grinned, watching August and Aradia coming, beach-bags bouncing on their shoulders and other things bouncing on their chest. Sweet, and this time, I won't be suffering the wardrobe malfunction. She jumped in behind the wheel of her rust-bucket and coaxed it life, the engine making a barking cough before settling into an asthmatic purr. For a mere moment, she felt a trace of guilt for overstating her surfing experience, but then assured herself it would be fine - Aradia was an acrobat and she an X-Game champ, it would come naturally to them, and August, well, she'd be out with friends having fun. It would work out.

"Climb in girls, and let's go ride the waves," Kaitlin called out. "This is gonna be a blast!"

"Shotgun!" Aradia exclaimed, August acceding with good grace and tossing their bags in the back while the exuberant acrobat claimed the passenger seat. Kaitlin stole a glance at Aradia's legs, then turned it into an obvious leer so they wouldn't think she was hiding the fact and put her Camry in gear. Aradia and August shared an uncertain look then questioningly arched their brows at Kaitlin, feeling the obvious vibrations wracking the vehicle.

"No, really guys, it's fine!" Kaitlin assured them with a beaming grin. "It's done that since I got it. You get used it - I think it might even work your glutes. Here we go, Venice Beach, here we come!"

As if to spite her, the Camry lurched forward, the engine sputtering, then going silent. Kaitlin snarled and cursed under her breath, flashing her passengers a grin she believed was reassuring, which turned genuine when she got the engine chugging happily again. "See, nothing to worry 'bout."

She slapped the roughly installed car-stereo - which was probably worth more than the car - and Katy Perry's 'I Kissed a Girl' began blaring through the speakers as Kaitlin pulled out of the drive-way and headed down Hilgard Avenue. It may have looked, sounded, and felt like the zombie equivalent of a car, but Kaitlin's Camry handled quite fine and didn't lack for speed. Hilgard swiftly became Wilshire Boulevard and soon after that, they were cruising down Ocean Avenue, the sun reflecting like gold off the Pacific to their right.

Before they knew it, Kaitlin was pulling into the parking lot shared by the Venice Beach and the Skatepark, waving at the early skateboarders who recognized her. "There are some sick, sick skateparks in LA and this must be the sickest one of them all," Kaitlin said by way of explanation.

"Here we are girls, safe and sound. I don't even think anything fell of the Camry this time!" Kaitlin proclaimed, climbing out of the car. As August and Aradia followed suit with their bags, Kaitlin worked the buckles of the straps, quickly steadying the stack of surfboards before they collapsed on anyone. "Still safe and sound, I swear. A little help here?"

August and Aradia helped Kaitlin sort out the boards, then the three hot women were striding across the sand and heading for the enticing waves, boards under their arms and eyes turning to watch their progress as if they were moving in slow motion.

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Perfect. The warm sun beat down on her skin; August tipped her head up to grin at the heat that was embracing her. It felt delicious after the days of fear and uncertainty. There was something about the sun that made her smile and feel alive.

The chorus of admiration that followed wasn’t so hard to bear, either. August grinned as someone shouted, “Blonde, Brunette and Red! The trifecta!” So Aradia wasn’t really a red-head – pink was close enough for them, apparently. August assessed them in return, giving the boys sly smiles as they left the sidewalk and hit the beach.

Then August’s steps slowed. There was a form in the water, an inhuman creature. It was a hybridization of a shark and an octopus, somehow a mixture of both. The lean body of the shark had the tentacles of the octopus coming off its body. Not only did it possess a full mouth of sharp teeth, but it also had a massive beak, like a squid. The octopus’s bulbous head rose off of the back of the shark, and the shark’s fin rose off the head like fleshy blade. It should have looked ridiculous; it was terrifying.

And no one else was reacting.

August dropped her eyes and followed numbly behind the other two. She wasn’t going to let this ruin her day. By the time they had reached the water, she had managed a smile again, though it was sickly and she was far too pale. “Alright,” the green-eyed woman said, pointedly not looking at the monstrosity down the beach, “we’re in your hands, Kaitlin. Show us your surf-goddess ways.”

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"Alas, a Goddess is bound by the will of her worshippers," Kaitlin said with a put-upon sigh, pressing the back of her hand against her forehead in the best tradition of Southern Belles, then broke into giggle. "Let's find a place for our bags, then hit the water and show you how to ride the waves, girls." Just as soon as I figure it out myself.

They found a suitable spot for their things, peeled off their assorted shorts and wraps, then started for the water, the sand of Venice Beach soft and already hot beneath their bare feet. Kaitlin's large gold-green eyes flitted between those eying them on the beach and those surfing on the breaking waves, watching their movements, how they got up on the board and the way they stood. She was sure she would pick it up soon enough...

Then she saw someone get swamped under by a wave. She watched intently, seeing his head break the surface, only to be pushed under by the following wave. Okay... I'll have to watch out for that. Once you hit the asphalt, it doesn't usually try to hit you again... She caught the shaky smile on August's pale face and completely misunderstood the reason for it.

"Oh, don't worry, Auggie, we ain't starting out on the big waves out there, not yet," Kaitlin said, throwing a reassuring arm around her shoulders. "We'll begin in the shallows so you guys can learn to balance on the boards. After you guys feel comfortable, we'll swim out and work our way up to bigger waves. Sound good?"

"Yup!" "Fair enough."

"Excellent! Last one in the water does the dishes tonight!" Kaitlin challenged, giving August a nudge into Aradia, then sprinting across the beach, laughing and kicking up sand in her wake, the surfboard flapping under her arm.

The three girls entered the water with a plethora of splashes, thrown up by their bodies and the boards, and waded out until the water was chest deep. "Okay, first thing - get on the board."

Getting on the board wasn't that hard, though August did flip her board once before managing to stretch out flat on it, and it wobbled edge to edge more than Kaitlin would have liked. "Now, second thing - standing up. You'll want to keep you center of balance low, one foot near the back and the other at about the mid-point of the board," Kaitlin said with all the self-assured confidence of a professional athlete, even if this wasn't her main sport (ie, she believed she understood the theory). "Which foot goes where depends on what feels comfortable for you."

No, the hard part was standing up on the damn things. Kaitlin may have looked at the surfboard as simply an oversized skateboard, but it didn't move like a skateboard. She was used to some forward and backward motion when planting herself on a skateboard, but the water had a tendency to make the surfboard shift laterally as well. Thus, her first attempt at standing up on the surfboard ended up with it slipping out from under her and sending her splashing into the water with a yell.

Kaitlin stood up, flicking her hair back with a toss of her head and spitting out saltwater. Her cheeks dimpled with a sheepish smile as she held up a hand, holding her forefinger and thumb an inch apart. "I may have exaggerated my surfing experience by this much."

August arched a brow, but she was smiling. "Just how much experience have you had, surfing, Kaitlin?"

"Well... technically, this is my first time on a surfboard too," Kaitlin admitted in a small voice, but she brightened immediately. " But, I have tons of experience with skateboarding and have done a lot of snowboarding and even some wakeboarding too. The skills are transferable, I'm sure. I'll pick this up quick enough, but for now... It will have to be a group learning experience. Now, let's try this again!"

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"Man, I have a bad feeling about this," August sighed, but she didn't complain further. Instead, she lay on her belly on the board, gathering her muscles. She tried to spring up like Kaitlin did, but her arms and legs seemed to get all tangled up. Her board dipped and she felt her chin impact her knee; then she was tumbling into the water. Unlike Kait, she came up coughing up seawater, looking more like a drowned cat. Then the girl shrieked and jumped up on her board with awkward athleticism. "Something touched my leg!" she all-but shrieked.

Aradia laughed. "Chicken," she giggled, splashing August with water. "It's the ocean, there's a lot of things in the water, Auggie!"

August had pulled herself up on her board. She stared into the water, her sea-green eyes wide. "It was cold," she said softly, shivering a little. She snuck a peek up the beach; the shark-octopus thing was gone. "Fuck," she whispered, turning to stare into the water. Was that something moving under the waves, half-seen nightmare of tentacles and teeth?

"Can we surf?" she asked Kaitlin nervously.

"Get up on your board and we can," Kaitlin told her.

It took several more tries, but August managed to get up on her board, though she was hunched low and clearly not comfortable. "There. Can we go now?"

August's Dex+Atheltics to practice getting up on the board: 0 sux

Carver *rolls* 4d10: 6+1+4+6: 17

Carver hangs her head.

August's Dex+Atheltics to climb on the board: 1 sux

Carver *rolls* 4d10: 6+1+4+6: 17

Carver hangs her head.

August's Dex+Atheltics to practice getting up on the board: 1 sux

Carver *rolls* 4d10: 9+2+3+3: 17

August's Dex+Atheltics to practice getting up on the board: 3 sux

Carver *rolls* 4d10: 4+9+10+1: 24

Carver *rolls* 1d10: 9: 9

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"Hey!", a familiar voice called out to the girls as they struggled with their boards in the surf. The three beauties spent a moment looking about, trying to identify the source of the voice, but it didn't take long: it was hard to miss the huge, muscular, tattooed and also familiar form of Finn as he slogged through the water and waves in their direction, waving to attract their attention and smiling that huge, friendly smile of his as he approached. Somehow, seeing him in the water put the man's size into even better perspective, because none of the crashing waves looked all that large as he plowed easily through them on his way to the three girls, but they could each attest to the fact that those waves didn't feel small!

"Hey ladies", he said when he finally reached them, his infectious grin still on his face. The three girls couldn't help noticing that Finn was also carrying a surfboard, and though it was shaped a little like the short board Kaitlin was using it was clearly different, being made of what looked like wood and completely lacking the three fins that their boards all had along the bottom. They also couldn't help but notice how much at home Finn looked in the water. It wasn't anything they could've immediately put their fingers on, but somehow he just looked like he was born for the waves and the ocean - like this was his natural element.

He looked from one of them to the next, cocking an eyebrow at August's obvious discomfort on her own board, and then asked, "So, what are you three up to on this fine day?"

"We're surfing", answered Kaitlin with a coy (and somewhat challenging) grin, "Can't you tell?"

"Oh", said Finn, with a slow shake of his head and a dubious smile on his face. "Surfing. Is that what you're calling it..."

"We're still learning", said August, "Kaitlin's teaching us."

"Yeah", giggled Aradia, grinning mischievously, "except she doesn't know how to surf either!"

"Hey!", exclaimed Kaitlin, splashing water at Aradia's face in mock-exasperation, "Who says I don't know how to surf?!"

"Uh, you did, actually", August chimed in, a wry grin forming on her face despite the tension she was feeling.

Finn laughed at that, loudly but without any evidence of mockery. Rather, he looked and sounded like he approved of Kaitlin's go-get-'em attitude. Seeing Kaitlin trying to laugh along with her friends good-naturedly, but looking a little put out despite herself, Finn subdued his mirth and said, "Hey, Kait, don't sweat it. This stuff's harder than it looks." He glanced at August and, perhaps noticing the stress she was struggling with, he added, "It's pretty easy to get overwhelmed out here, really, but you three look like you're doing fine to me so far."

Kaitlin flashed him an 'uh-huh' look, her competitive streak kicking in and making it hard for her to just take advice from some random guy. Even if that guy was all tall and musclely and sleek and wet right now. "You know how to surf, then?", she asked, her tone neutral even if she couldn't quite keep a hint of a smile from quirking the corner of her mouth.

Finn smiled again and nodded with the complete confidence that, the three girls were already starting to realize, was typical of him. "Yeah, sure", he answered easily and unselfconsciously. "I can give you three some pointers, if you want 'em."

"Ooh", exclaimed Aradia, raising one hand into the air, her carefree attitude and mischievous grin both still firmly in place, "I vote yes! Pointers, please!"

"Yeah, I guess", added Kaitlin, noncommittally.

"We can use all the help we can get", August deadpanned.

Finn smiled with unconcealed pleasure at this news and said, "Well, alright then. I guess the first thing is, we need to get you three out past the breakpoint and into the lineup."

"Breakpoint?", asked Aradia. "Lineup?"

"Yeah", Finn answered her, "the breakpoint's out where the waves are starting to break, not way up here" - and he pointed around them, to both sides and back towards the shoreline - "where the waves are nothing but nasty whitewash and the shore's only a hundred yards or so away. We wanna be way out there", and he pointed past them, where they could just make out a distant line of figures paddling on top of boards out beyond the lines of waves still rolling their direction. Those figures looked like they were a long way off.

"The lineup", he went on, "is just that. See that line of guys out there waiting to catch the next wave? That's the lineup."

"And... how do we get way out there?", asked August uncertainly, privately wondering how a person was even supposed to survive a swim that long, through that many crashing waves. She was half-wondering if those people she could see out there hadn't been ferried out there on boats. Or helicopters, maybe.

"Easy", Finn answered, with an almost annoyingly self-assured shrug, like it really was the easiest thing in the world, "you duck dive."

Kaitlin gave him a look like he was crazy and asked him, "We do what? What's a 'duck dive'?"

"C'mon", Finn said with another grin as he waded past them and started heading out to the deeper water he'd been pointing at. "I'll show you."

The three girls watched Finn as he moved away from them, and exchanged dubious glances with each other. After a moment, Finn turned back and saw them still standing still in the water, looking a bit uncertain. "You three want to learn to surf or not?", he asked. "C'mon!"

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August paused, her green eyes wide. She glanced back at the beach, which was safe, warm and dry. Ahead of them, a seriously hot man was throwing himself on top of his board and starting to paddle out deeper. The incredibly firm ass at the end of those long, thick legs made going out deeper awfully appealing.

But more then Finn's sex appeal, August wanted to go out there. She wanted to slip into the water and just have fun like she did before this summer. The beach had always been one of her favorite places to be; before this summer, she'd get a nice tan every year. This year she was really pale. She didn't really like it, but she didn't really have the time or mental energy to think about it.

And God, she wanted that life back - the one filled with parties and carefree summers and crushes on Lucien without worried about him being crazy. She wanted a life where she wasn't crazy.

Gritting her teeth, August pointed her board out into the ocean, awkwardly pulled herself up on it and began to paddle.

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"The skills are transferable!" Kaitlin argued, though privately amending that her skills might transfer to balancing on the board, not necessarily dealing with the waves. She paddled vigorously after Finn before finding a steadier rhythm she could maintain for longer, shouting out encouragement for Aradia and August.

She was competitive, sure, but it wasn't really a need to win. It was more of just trying to better herself and feel better about herself and with herself. Freerunning - or Parkour, there were debates if they were different disciplines, but she used the words interchangeably - was more of a philosophy than a sport. In the beginning, the originators of what is now known as freerunning were adamant about not sanctioning competition, wary about it becoming to commercialized with corporations taking freerunning away from the athletes. Traceurs had different styles - it wasn't about who was best, it was about developing a framework for movement that worked for the individual. Sure, she pushed herself to get better - and admittedly, liked the acclaim - but never, truly, begrudged anyone who had better skills than her. They simple drove her to exceed her plateaus.

And while it was true that there were some Freerunning and Parkour meets now, there weren't really about seeing who was best. There were a chance to meet others who practiced the same discipline, to show off their skills and to learn from those who were a step above the pack, and to give faces and names to those seen in movies and commercials, beyond a tiny mention as a stunt double. Kaitlin drooled just thinking about meeting Daniel Ilabaca for real. And too, the meets were a way for those who practiced Freerunning to make a living doing it. You didn't get to be as good as a Daniel Ilabaca or a Ryan Doyle working a nine-to-five job.

So once she got over wanting to figure out surfing all by herself - well, with Aradia and August, helping them would have helped her learn too - Kaitlin was all for getting some pointers from Finn. Starting with duck-diving.

As far as Kaitlin was concerned, waves were assholes, being ornery about letting you ride them, so they kept pushing you back when you tried to get to the other side of them. The three girls quickly learned the importance of duck-diving, the way of sliding under the wave so you didn't end up paddling forever without the breakpoint getting any closer.

With patience and his habitual good cheer, Finn showed them how to hold the board and shift their weight to get the board under the water and then letting the wave roll over them instead of pushing them back. He explained how time their dives and angle their boards so they surfaced ready to paddle instead of into the face of the next wave, None of the girls minded Finn's attention, at all.

Maybe it was the better maneuverability of the shortboard, or just athletic adaptability, but Kristin picked up duck-diving the quickest, though not without getting tumbled by a wave or two. Aradia and August picked up duck-diving enough to get them out to the breakpoint, but none of the girls were anywhere near as good as Finn. Yet, Kaitlin promised herself, but there was a slight uncertainty to the though. Despite being huge and by all rights should be suffering severe drag, Finn cut through the waves like a damned fish.

Finally, with Finn's relentless encouragement, and the girls' stubborn resolve, they made it to the lineup at the breakwater, though not without a looseness to their arms from all the paddling and amateur duck-diving. Kaitlin was pretty sure she could have cross LA on her skateboard faster compared to how long it took to get to the breakpoint. On the streets, gravity and cars worked for her; one the water, waves were just assholes.


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"C'mon", Finn said with another grin as he waded past them and started heading out to the deeper water he'd been pointing at. "I'll show you."

The three girls watched Finn as he moved away from them, and exchanged dubious glances with each other. After a moment, Finn turned back and saw them still standing still in the water, looking a bit uncertain. "You three want to learn to surf or not?", he asked. "C'mon!"

"Hell yeah! This ain't my normal sport though, so be cool, okay? I have a feeling water's gonna be a lot harder to move through than air!"

"Yes, but maybe less painful when you fall."

The big guy grinned at her, and if Aradia hadn't been in the water, her knees probably would've gone weak. He had such an aura about him, a presence that was just overwhelmingly pleasant to be around. And damn, was the dude hot. She'd tried not to pay too much attention to him at the party, since most of the other girls were ogling so obviously, but being this close to him did make it a little hard to concentrate, which was probably one of the reasons Aradia struggled more than Kaitlin with the initial duck-diving exercise. She was also amusingly short next to him, and had to fight a little harder against the current because of her petite stature.

Once they finally got the hang of duck-diving, and managed to get out to the breakpoint, the girls settled into the motion of the waves, letting themselves relax and float a bit in the water. Of all of them, Aradia's arms probably felt the least like spagetti, since her acrobatic skills had left those muscles finely toned. But she still felt like she'd taken a beating from the waves, and was glad for a brief reprise.

"So.. now what?"

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"Now", said Finn, with that cocky-but-somehow-still-charming half-smile of his, "it's sink or swim time. Or maybe it should be 'sink or surf'", he added offhandedly. "Whatever. Anyway, the point is, now that you lovely ladies have made it out this far - and great job with the duck-diving, by the way! - it's time to paddle into a wave and actually ride it."

Seeing the three 'lovely ladies' looking at him a little questioningly (and maybe even a little accusingly), the big Native American laughed good-naturedly and said, "There's really not much to it. Seriously! The hardest part is getting all the way out here to the breakpoint."

Aradia and August simply stared at Finn and then they each arched one very pretty eyebrow in almost-perfect (but unconscious) unison at him. Kaitlin would no doubt have joined in as well but, still half-convinced that it was better if she just figured out all this surfing stuff on her own, she was already too focused on the surrounding waves, trying to watch other surfers as they dropped into a wave to figure out how they were doing it.

"Yeah, okay", said Finn, trying not laugh at the 'A-team's' synchronized eyebrow action (which had been utterly adorable in his opinion, but he'd learned long ago - and the hard way - not to make light of a woman's disapproval, even if unintentionally or with the best of intentions), "I guess there are a few more things I could go over with you before you start riding waves." He paused for a minute, lips pursed as he seemed to be getting his thoughts in order. "Alright, first thing: you notice how all the other surfers out here are all kinda lined up?"

The girls all muttered and-slash-or shrugged in affirmation. "Right, well - oddly enough - that's called 'the lineup' and that's just what it is: a line."

"What", asked Aradia, "now that we finally make it out here we have to wait in a line?"

"Makes sense," Kaitlin answered her, "the same thing happens at skate parks. Keeps things from getting too crowded and people from getting hurt - or punching each other in the face."

Finn chuckled and nodded in agreement. "Right", he said, "it's the same out here. You may not know it to look at them, but most waves only really have room on them for one guy - or girl", Finn added, smiling as his calm but piercing gaze flashed back and forth between each of the bikini-clad beauties floating attentively around him, "to surf at once. There's also usually one spot that's the best for dropping into the swell - into the waves that're forming that day - and that's the drop line, the sweet spot, or just 'the best spot to drop in on a wave'. Call it whatever you want to, really, but the point is: that's where the lineup's usually gonna form up at."

The giant feral surfer pointed and, sure enough, there was a surfer just in the act of 'dropping into' the last wave to roll under them while they'd been listening to Finn. As the surfer vanished over the lip of the wave another floated into the slot he'd vacated, waiting his turn for the next good wave to come along.

"That's the drop line", continued Finn, "and it's usually the one spot where a surfer can drop into a wave just as it's breaking and get the longest ride down the line on that wave. What that means", he went on, in a voice that drew the girls' attention back towards him, "is that if you drop into a wave at any point other than at the front of the lineup, you're cutting off another surfer that dropped into the wave before you, further up the line." Finn smirked distastefully as he described this and continued his explanation, "Not only does this make someone a total, snaking assmunch" - by which Finn apparently meant 'it's rude' - "it's also really dangerous! If you drop in ahead of someone, you can wind up with some other dude's board plowing into you at high speed, and the guy you cut off usually ends up getting rag dolled by a wave after he ditches his board trying not to hit you. It's not much fun for anybody, so don't do it!"

"Got it", August declared with a cute little smile, "no cutting!"

"Well, alright then!", Finn replied with a grin, "Then let's you girls surfing!"

And with that Finn set about getting the girls into the 'lineup' and, while they waited for their turn at the drop line, he went over the basics of paddling into a wave and riding it: ow it was important to try and position yourself so that the breaking wave would reach you just as it was reaching its steepest point before 'crumbling' (as Finn called it), how it was important to set your angle on the board to avoid the possibility of an 'acid drop' (where the bottom of the wave unexpectedly dropped out from under a surfer, usually cuz they're too deep into the curl), and finally, how to pop up on the board and get both feet under you in one smooth motion. "After that," Finn finished, "the rest is up to you. Just remember to keep your weight back on the board, your toes hangin', and your butt out of the water and you should be fine!"

None of that took too long, though, so the rest of the time in the lineup was spent in light chatter. Surfers generally engaged in surprisingly little conversation out on the lineup (they even had a word for chatterboxes who ruined everyone's fun by talking to much: 'dildude'), but today was a little different, because it wasn't everyday that three such completely 'filthy hot femes' came out to ride waves with them. Needless to say, the girls had fend off (or maybe that was 'got to enjoy'?) the attempts at flirtation by pretty much every grommet on the line. Finn, for his part, alternately got razzed for bringing three noobs out and given props because all three of them were ridiculously good-looking.

Finally their little group found itself at the head of the lineup, with Kaitlin floating along in what loosely passed as the front of the line. This close to the break point, the sound of the last wave to pass under them crashing was pretty loud, so Finn had to almost holler at Kaitlin in encouragement as the next wave in the set rolled their way, looking steeper and steeper as it approached. "Alright, you're up Kait! You got this - it's practically the same thing as riding a half-pipe - just use all those mad skater skills of yours and you will own this wave!"

Behind them, Kaitlin could faintly hear some of the other surfers as they hollered encouragements of their own - hell, they were practically cheering for her as they watched the super-hot skater-girl attempt her first paddle in to a real wave.

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The encouragement and interest of the surfers washed over Kaitlin like white-noise, blending in with the sounds of the ocean. She was focused on the waves, but loose and relaxed on the board, mind empty of distraction, fluid and flexible, formless, yet adapting to all that comes. Be like water, like the water all around me. Thanks Bruce Lee!.

The next wave rolled under her and with a long, steady breath, Kaitlin dropped over the precipice, picturing the slope of the wave as the slope of a half-pipe. But a half-pipe was a static entity, it didn't push with the strength of an inexorable beast. Tongue pointing from the corner of her mouth, Kaitlin flowed to her feet, weight back on the board, white water washing over her toes.

Almost, almost, the breaking wave swamped the skater-girl-turned-surfer. Not a skateboarding half-pipe, but a snowboarding half-pipe! At the last moment, she managed to angle her board, shift her weight, and with that, began shooting down the length of the wave, the lip crumbling right behind her, but growing further away with each moment.

Honey-hued hair blew back in the wind and over the sound of the waves floated Kaitlin's joyous laughter. She was right! The balancing skills were transferable - she knew they would be - and if she was sure at any moment the motion of the wave would willfully become unpredictable, that only added to the exhilarating thrill. She was surfing!

She shot a hand up in the air in victory, then quickly brought it back down to regain her suddenly precarious balance, but her excitement didn't dampen in the slightest. This is awesome! With growing confidence, she worked the board up and down the width of the wave, suppressing the urge to try to pull an ollie or kick-flip - since the surfboard was a beast compared to her skateboard and she was pretty sure it wasn't going to work on water. Glancing over her shoulder, she could see her wake cutting a white line across the surface of the wave.

Angling back down from the weakening crest, Kaitlin turned too sharply, the nose of the board in the trough and instantly, white water crashed over her, kicking her off the board like a mule. She clipped her wrist on the board, then salt stung her eyes as she was tumbled heels over head under water. Strong legs kicked, hands stretched before her, then she flipped over and pressed off the bottom.

The broke the surface up to her waist, tossing her head back with a shake of her head, a wide grin on her face, not at all disappointed she hadn't ridden the wave all the way. "That was a rush!"

She twisted around, giving Finn and the girls a wave, indicating she was okay. She was surprised at how distant they were - it hadn't felt like she had gone that far - then looked around for her board. She found it well ahead and to the left of her, caught in the remnants of the wave she had ridden. With an exuberant sigh, she swam after her board, looking forward to seeing how August and Aradia did with their first waves.

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Aradia watched Kaitlin, grinning at the other girl's success and letting out a whoop as she watched her ride the wave. They all watched anxiously after Kaitlin's wipe-out to make sure she surfaced all right. But when Finn turned to her next, she shook her head and motioned to August.

"You first. I learn by watching."

August shook her head, smiling faintly at Oneca's acrobat cousin.

"Maybe, but you won't learn anything by watching me blow it."

Aradia laughed slightly, and shrugged.

"You never know. But okay."

Aradia had no board experience.. neither surf, skate, nor snow. What she did have, however, was the experience of having a live creature moving beneath her, her toes and her hands responsible for anticipating it's every movement. And the wild roll of the sea wasn't far different from the steady gate of performing horseback. Not only that, but she had Kaitlin's wipeout as an example to keep her a little more focused.

Her first ride wasn't perfectly smooth, nor did it end much better than Kaitlin's, though she made it a little further. The primary difference was her ability to react to the subtle changes of the wave beneath her board - Finn could tell that at no point through the ride was she in danger of wiping out. Finally, the wave crashed over her, and she came up a little closer to the beach than Kaitlin had, laughing at the sheer coolness of it all.

"That was freakin' awesome!"

[Jasmyne] 8:21 pm: Is surfing going to be a dex+ath roll?

[Centimane] 8:22 pm: Jas: yes

[Jasmyne] 8:22 pm: *again

[Jasmyne] 8:22 pm: I'm so used to Invisible Castle...

[Centimane] 8:22 pm: Jas: that I don't know

[Wyrd] 8:22 pm: type /d

Jasmyne *rolls* 7d10: 8+6+2+4+3+4+10: 37

[Jasmyne] 8:23 pm: Thanks.

[Owns-The-Night] 8:23 pm: pop the 10

[Jasmyne] 8:24 pm: So two successes.

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August wasn’t sure if she could do this. It all looked so complicated: getting up on the board, keeping her balance and managing to ride the wave at the same time. She was so sure she couldn’t do that. Nervously, she paddled the board into place, feeling fear lump in her gut. The only reason she wasn’t backing out was because she really wanted to learn to do this. Just a few runs and it won’t be so scary. You’ll whoot like Aradia.

The water surged under her like a living creature; the wave was coming in. The world started to move faster and faster, sliding past her as the wave gained momentum. August had the strange feeling that she was getting thrown at something, as if she were being shoved out of a cannon at speed.

The wave of blue rolled into life over her head, blocking the sun. Get up. Get up! August’s legs moved as if on their own; her feet landed on the board, slipped and found some kind of purchase. She moved her weight to her feet and tried to straighten up. The board wobbled and August caught herself with her hands, her knees bent. Get up!

The girl stood, her wet, black hair whipping behind her like a flag of triumph. That moment of victory lasted a second; her board shifted again and August wasn’t ready. It went right, she went left and the ocean swallowed her whole. August was rolled and spun and rolled some more, the water slamming into her. She struggled to right herself, not sure which way was up. Finn’s warning to cover her head was forgotten.

Something flashed before her vision; a lean gray body with tentacles. August jerked away, screaming. The moment she heard her own cry, she remembered that she was underwater. Her reflexive inhale was a mistake; water rushed into her lungs. Thrashing and choking, August panicked worse when something grabbed her ankle. There was a rush of water as she was jerked; then something wrenched on her hair.

Mercifully, she broke the surface of the water, hearing, “Whoa, easy. I’ve got ya.” The man’s voice was unfamiliar and he was touching her, but August didn’t care. All she knew was that someone was helping her stay above water, holding her against a strange board. “Just breath, ‘k?”

August nodded, focusing on drawing breath in and out. “Thank you,” she rasped, her fingers gripping the board as tightly as she could.

“No prob,” he said and she finally focused on his face. His skin was tanned, with dark hair and eyes. He looked like a natural on the water, swimming under his own power. “Just breathe and when you feel up to it, we’ll get your board.”

August’s Dex + Athletics roll: 1 sux

Carver *rolls* 3d10: 2+8+6: 16

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