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Metro-verse Anthology

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1 year 9 months ago #55403 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology

...for there were others who had this knowledge, some of them would always be better than he was, and some of them had not sworn Solomon's Oath to take on the burden of the magical forbearance to 'do no harm.'

-- "To Seal Our Happiness (Part 1)"



Breakfast, Friday, October 12, 2007,
Crystal Hall, Whateley Academy


Wyatt 'Kodiak' Cody's head was still reeling with the world that had been opened up to him in the early morning hours. He was grateful that his instructors hadn't decided to give him a lecture on the spot as to which traditions favored lighting magical wells just after the cusp of the New Moon and why. Not that such knowledge couldn't be useful, but it was sufficient that the magical core of his self burned with an arcane fire he couldn't have imagined even twenty-four hours past. Not that Wyatt would have minded getting more sleep, but he was feeling a good kind of tiredness, similar to the cool-down after a workout that had finally hit an important group of muscles. A large helping of breakfast meats and delicacies on his tray promised to be just what the doctor (should have) ordered.

Wyatt asked his spirit, "Hey, Baloo. What was it like back when you were a neophyte?"

"You mean back when rocks were soft and cubs respected their elders?"

"I don't think even the Tao remembers that far back!"

"It was different for myself and Grizzly. Magic was always a functional part of us for as long as there has been an us to speak of. The Sundering came and changed, then changed again," The Kodiak projected a shrug of his shoulders into the young man's mind. "All I can do is work with what I have, to guide you into your own power. Without making too many fatal mistakes."

"Such as?"

"Forgetting that the mutant power ratings you've been taught here barely begins to address the power that Sidhe mages, terrestrial gods and their paladins, and others can bring to bear if they choose to. The coming battles with The Bastard have drawn the attention of numerous vested interests."

"If you're referring to the deal we struck with Rev. Englund, I haven't forgotten how useful Fey's power could be, nor how much we all lose if she falls." Wyatt punctuated his points by spearing a few savory slices of bacon.

"I was thinking about someone else."

"Who?"

"Try looking up from your food from time to time."

"Huh?"

Wyatt looked up into Metro's grinning face. Just great. Instead of enjoying a major achievement in his studies and a good meal, he was going to have to start the day by reminding some stupid freshman of his place. He chewed what food he'd already put into his mouth, giving the other time to say:

"My congratulations. . . and condolences too, I suppose."

Not the usual reason for a freshman to invade Alpha turf.

"I hope you have a good reason for interrupting me to offer them, you being?"

"Mads Jensen. We have met, in a roundabout way..."

'The tissue sample we were asked to analyze? Notice any similarities, cub?'

"... but yeah, I'm speaking about 1 am-ish, early this morning, basement of Kirby Hall, three women, one guy, sound familiar? - you lucky, lucky bear."

This was too early in the morning for that kind of lear, on a kid that young.

"If you're going to suggest that I was involved in anything inappropriate I'd recommend contacting Security. Maybe your therapist as well, considering it must have been in your dreams."

The boy ticked his replies. One finger up, not that one, "I work for Security." A second finger "It's therapists, plural." A third finger joined the others, though neither young man was a Boy Scout. "And there's no mistaking a ritual that the school insists on teaching. Even with Circe's shield work, I could tell that one of the three women was Miss Grimes. What I am saying to you is: welcome to the finger-wigglers' union, ya dork."

His mission completed, Metro shook his head in amusement and turned to walk away.

"Most people would've settled for a handshake."

Metro stopped for a long moment, then answered over his shoulder.

"Yeah. You'll get used to that."




Friday, October 12, 2007,
Independent Study, Kirby Hall, Whateley Academy



Circe sat patiently through her student's recounting of the morning's odd event. Wyatt Cody was surprised that she smiled when he repeated what the youngster had said about her shielding (skipping over the 'lucky, lucky bear' commentary). He was surprised again at what seemed to be regret? sadness? crossing her face regarding the bit about handshakes.

The sorceress spoke. "You need to understand that very few people, mutant or baseline, will knowingly allow direct physical contact with a magician. Those that do so tend to be signalling trust in, lack of concern for, or an ignorance of your intentions and abilities."

"Not disrespect?"

"After four years of being treated in the same manner? Not likely, no."

"What about the comment about your shielding?"

"He may, given enough time and blood loss, learn not to poke things that don't belong to him. I trust that you will prove a quicker study. "

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1 year 9 months ago - 1 year 9 months ago #55698 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
Is This Thing Even On?

Afternoon,
The Quad, Whateley Academy



The Fabulous and Sexy Imp noticed the two blond-haired boys when the one pointed at her, followed predictably by two young male voices arguing. One might think they'd been taking stealth lessons from the Secret Squirrels. God she hoped not.

"Seriously. You want to interrupt a teacher to tell her she's fragging up?"

"If it were me, I'd want to know!"

*sigh* "Fine."


The two changed the direction they were walking, to blatantly intercept Imp's path. This routine was getting tiring, but she did have a reputation to uphold. The taller one was clearly an exemplar; his body language hadn't caught up to his apparent age. The shorter one's body language read as older, though some of that could be military bearing. He was also packing small artillery. Their discussion was still in progress.


"... her Ms. Imp."

"Ms?"

"It's the very early twenty-first century. By now she's sure to have had a failed marriage or three."

"Mads, western civilization is not that dysfunctional!"

"Ah, innocence."

"Yes. It's something you've obviously been working on for quite some time. You should try it some day."


That was more interesting than the usual theft and larceny accusations, she'd give them that much. With that much early-onset cynicism, maybe it wasn't so surprising that the shortstop was packing heat.


"Ms. Imp?"

"Yes?"

"Er, you would not have seen the school flag recently, would you?"

"Of course! I even replaced it with a good-quality replica. Why do you ask?"

She'd almost missed the shorter kid signaling roll with it, but you don't get to be the Fabulous Imp by ignoring things like Syndicate hand-signs.

The taller one soldiered on, "The last I checked, today is a red flag day, and well..." He looked over at his friend and got a 'This is your fiasco. I'm just here for the entertainment.' look back in non-solidarity. "That is, er, are you sure that showing horns and a tail is consistent with that?"

Imp was 99.7% sure that the amulet that allowed her to "pass" was activated and working. However, this was Whateley Academy and anything could break down. Roll with it?

"Sad to say, the school does frown upon open display of powers and other fabulousness on red flag days. In my case, it's no secret that I've retired from my former life of crime to teach art here at Whateley Academy. That gives us faculty members some room to hang ourselves. Now, trade. Speaking of secrets, who are you guys?"

"Kris, I mean, er," the kid almost caught his friend's eye-roll. "I'm Rorsmand and this is Metro."

"You're just using this excuse to get introduced to the world of fine art, aren't you?" Got to drum up business somehow!

Kris actually thought about it, but looked over again at Metro's smirk and panicked.

"No! We, that is, I, was just concerned, about? My apologies for the interruption!"

"Have a good day, gentlemen."


As the two students beat a hasty retreat, it was amusing to hear their argument continue.

"Kris. Look. If I'd ever boosted or redeveloped an art museum, don't you think I would have mentioned it?"

"Hell no."

"Damn straight."

"You haven't, have you?"

"Nope."

"Why is that not a comforting denial?"



Evening,
Flying Blue Squirrel



As either luck or precognition would have it, one of the people Imp could trust with (some of) her fabulous secrets (A working girl needs to hang on to whatever mystique she has, right?) was seated at an open table. Practically an invitation! Picking up her Cowkiller Sunrise, she walked over to where Circe was sitting.

"Mind if I join you?"

Circe smiled. "Not at all. Please do. I was wondering when the next karaoke night was going to happen, myself."

A fair opening. "Second Friday after Halloween. We can't let anything interfere with candy, costumes, pranks, and more candy! I'd have gone for the 2nd, but I've heard that that's too close to the main event."

"As the third day of Allhallowtide, it lends itself to solemn observances. More importantly, it would also be the first night that Security and my department have a break from a week of double shifts."

"The pranks are that good?"

"Oh, yes. However, I get the feeling that you had something else to ask me?"

"I know it amounts to extra homework to grade, but would you mind checking something out for me? I have this amulet-"

"The one you use to disguise your more unique features?"

"Right in one! Don Pardo, tell us what our lucky contestant has won!"

"You're worried that it's failing. Can you tell me which student saw through the enchantment?"

"Some kid going by Roar-man. His friend Metro was busy trying to shut him up."

Circe smiled. "There's nothing wrong with your amulet, Christine."

"You've baited the hook. I'll bite."

"Rorsmand," It sounded different when Circe said the name, but she probably knew the kid's native language, "somehow has been gifted with da-shealladh, and so tends to see most of the living and some of the dead as they are." Her smile broadened, "Imagine the surprise when one of the psychic students walked through the mystic arts entrance looking for his Esper 1 class: not because he'd seen through the wards on the entrance but because he couldn't even perceive the enchantment in the first place."

"Not the best spellcaster candidate, I take it?"

"We'd have better luck teaching Roland."


From there, the two did move on to less work-related discussion, until Circe was called away to her newly-waiting table in the cafe next door. Imp took the cue to head back to her apartment and some take-out that was begging to be gobbled up. Along the way, something about one stray comment refused to go away.

What if Barney could be taught a magic trick or two?

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1 year 9 months ago #55851 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
Twilight

12th century BCE,
March of Dreams, Near present-day Uppsala



The spirit cast his own memory back to an age passed. In his mind's eye he could see two broken and bloodied black birds had been placed upon the ground before the ancient cairn he'd been summoned to. Raven was surprised the red-headed Asgardian had stayed. He recognized the two. He'd been promised they'd be cared for. He'd promised them that they'd be cared for. He . . .

He hopped down to inspect the damage.

Little Huginn's right wing had been crushed then left unattended some days before his death. His body had the look of one who had died of thirst and hunger. The blow that had snapped his neck must have felt like a merciful end to the cruel pain.

His throat dry, Raven asked, "What happened?"

"He was sent to steal a mouthful of water from Mimir's Well. Mimir, he was too swift: he caught Huginn by the wing and crushed it, leaving Huginn to walk the entire way back."

"So he swallowed the draught and that enraged his master?"

"No. He was days in returning, but through signs and gestures he convinced a server to bring him to where he could spit it out into a proper vessel. It was at a great feast, and so he was punished for the insolence of discharging his duties so."

"Muninn?"

"His protest was deemed unseemly. It was decreed that if he imagined himself the equal of eagles he should have an eagle's wings."

Raven knew of the custom, as he knew many things he chose not to remember. He bridled his anger for the moment.

"What would you have of me?"

"Fix them. Replace them. It matters not to me or my brother."

"I will give your petition the consideration it deserves."

Raven bundled the juveniles up in the cloth they'd been carried in and flew elsewhere. He returned by a different route, with two juveniles of the common species. Out of morbid curiosity, he asked the Asgardian what they would be named.

"Huginn and Muninn. It wouldn't do to let slaves and commoners think any of us mortal," the being replied.

With that settled, Loki gathered up Huginn and Muninn, and went his merry way.


Raven spat on the jötunn trickster's tracks, "The day shall come when you and your brother look upon your own dead children as I have today and see the end of your day approach. How loudly will you laugh then?"




Fimbulwinter, 536 CE
March of Dreams



Sigyn slapped the Totem hard enough to leave welts on his beak:

Her eyes slitted in fury she spat, "You KNEW Odin's blood-oath was to Loki, never to any of his children. Our CHILDREN!"

Said "victorious girl-friend" could also throw a mean punch or two.

Objectively, her presence away from a certain coastal cave in the Arctic meant two things to the darkling spirit beyond her rage. Her children were long dead and her husband was now free to cash in all his favors owed. It was likely he'd margin more on top of them.

"Your husband and his brother deserved to know how that feels, the impotence, the anger, and oh yes, the sorrow and regret, having killed two children I'd trusted to them."

"You had NO RIGHT to do that!"

"I had every right."

"It was the same two souls murdered, you stupid feckin' corbie!"

Raven thought on his next statement. What would Coyote say? Probably something that would piss off the patron of high-rise fires even more.

"Sigyn, they didn't die in battle,"

Were her eyes glowing that shade of red before?

"Something I am very, VERY well aware of, having BEEN there, and knowing the ways of sword and shield myself. Perhaps I should demonstrate."

"Have a care, dirge-singer! What I'm saying is that they should be reborn after spending some period in Hela's care."

"They. Were. Destroyed. By those bastards. Nothing to return from."

"Hm."

"There's naught left to hang their stories on. If any sagas survive the Foreigner's rhymers' retelling, who in all the Creation will be pressed into their service? You don't know, do you?"

"I have my suspicions."

"Keep them. Though it prove our doom I and mine shall have our vengeance."

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1 year 9 months ago - 1 year 9 months ago #56020 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
Nothing Like A Little Adult Supervision

“I wonder why nobody has ever asked me to chaperone one of these trips,” I mused to myself with a smirk. My tail, hidden by both the masking charm and my coat, swished back and forth behind me, unseen.



Wednesday Afternoon, January 2, 2008,
Office of the Headmistress, Schuster Hall, Whateley Academy



Each new term, Whateley Academy students and staff managed to come up with some new and unusual set of problems to complicate or delay their arrival. The sub-orbital, jet-propelled pickup truck was a recent high-water mark that Elizabeth Carson had no desire to see surpassed. Yet, she had summoned one of her more capricious and flamboyant instructors to see a group of students safely back to the school.


"Christine. Under other circumstances, I would call in a more senior staff member to chaperone this group of students."

"Preferably one with a more boring background as well?"

"You'd be surprised how many times I've relied on Lillian's ability to keep unruly teens and adults in line. Unfortunately, she isn't welcome in Boston, and I'd rather not send her to Bedford."

"Hmmm...A man doesn't get in a situation like this every day."

"Not in Bedford Falls, anyway, but in Bedford? I've got a student who's been the subject of multiple attacks this past week, and a not-so-innocent bystander flying MAC to Hanscom Air Force Base very early tomorrow morning. Two others are on a red-eye flight to Boston, inbound from Heathrow."

"I've heard about things like this, but I've never..."

"Am I going to have to tell your fiancée on you?"

"What about security?"

"We're shorthanded thanks to other holiday misadventures, but one of the students you'll pick up in Boston has completed the DD100 course. I have an envelope of papers to hand off to him, once you've left the airport. You can pick up some xanax in the infirmary before you leave."

"Will either one self-destruct at the end of this message?"

"All I can say at this point is to be very careful what you ask for."



Thursday Afternoon, January 3, 2008,
Office of the Headmistress, Schuster Hall, Whateley Academy


Mrs. Elizabeth Carson, Lady Astarte, Headmistress of Whateley Academy, etc. had been waiting for this next appointment for hours - starting maybe with the second frantic phone call she'd received on her office's secured line. Christine was trying her best to look chipper and unconcerned, but like a cat's, Christine's tail moved differently in synch with her moods. An offer of coffee was accepted without comment.

Carson said, "You'll no doubt be pleased to know that the Haggets Pond Conservation Area fires are under control."

"That wasn't exactly our fault."

"According to the released videos the Lamplighter was ... overly enthusiastic. Interstate 495 was tied up for hours behind you."

"Obviously what they really needed was a Boy Scout."

"That's similar to the Air Force's opinion regarding earlier in the morning. Something along the lines of it being a military base, not a Jamboree."

"Rorsmand's the one who did the knot tying. That guy who showed up to stop us? I'm pretty sure he didn't pee himself until Metro started whispering in his ear."

Carson rubbed her eyes. The more she knew, the worse it got. "If they ask, I'll try to forget I heard that. Getting back to your return trip: the Massachusetts State Police has already dropped the kidnapping charges based on a lack of substantive evidence."

"Who got kidnapped?"

"There remain a number of competing theories regarding that."

"The more the merrier!"

"However, not one of them accounts for the decision made to head to Innsmouth."

"By the time we got out from under the KoP boys, it was clear that we were being tracked. On the strong chance that scrying was in use, Mads suggested we lose that tail by passing through one of the towns on the Mysty Arts off-limits list. Something along the lines of Let the looky loos perv on that drek for a while?"

"As you may have noticed by now, that boy's idea of the best way to evade a bear chasing him usually involves a detour through the den of something bigger and meaner."

"Also that the best defensive driving is a good offense."

"You know what? I don't even want to know unless criminal charges are involved."

"Probably for the best. I almost forgot: that xanax did come in handy. The 'batter' we picked up stopped screaming real quick once that hit his bloodstream."

"Why was he screaming?"

"We let Metro drive again once he regained consciousness."

"Why would that cause ... what part of the vehicle was he duct-taped to?"

"Funny you should ask that. The hood. And just so you know, we stayed five mph under the speed limit. The streets in Innsmouth are a little bumpy, and they only get worse at the beach. Have you ever tried getting a slimy, unidentifiable marine organism away from a cranky teen? That was an adventure, but the KoP guy didn't want back inside after that. So... When do I get to do this chaperone thing again?"

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1 year 8 months ago #56120 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
The Large Print Giveth...

Winter Term 2008, Administrative email system, Whateley Academy

"One of the students had a neuron or two function long enough generate a useful idea. Let me know what you think. --A.H."

"I take it that Part C was your own innovation? -- E.C."

"Never Again Volunteer Yourself :) --A.H."


Spring Term 2010, Whateley Academy


Asa 'Percusor' Hernandez was quite pleased with himself, in that he'd managed (if not succeeded) where numerous predecessors had failed. The Whateley Academy Neopagan Knowledge, Education, and Research Society had a charter and a (somewhat unwilling) faculty sponsor. With that academic and bureaucratic support in hand, it was time for the logical next steps to be carried out.

He was only too well acquainted with the standing ban on any installations or dedicated spaces devoted to the worship or congress with any non-Christian (the Dillon Chapel remaining firmly ensconced in the academy's grounds, much to the resentment of the handful of atheists among the student body) Powers or Principalities represented through attending students. There were a couple of reasons for that acquaintance. Among them were his two-week detention served in various humiliating jobs and the recognition that it really was moronic to want a worship space dedicated to One who was already there. Did Jesus' followers go looking for a church or a corruptible temple, or did they walk with the one who had come to save them?

Thus, the charter was carefully crafted to focus on those entities of cultural significance who were not so readily knowable. It also included something of a post-graduation grace period because by all accounts Zeus and Hera were still Grade A Prime jerks after all these years. There was also no way Asa was going to admit to the rest of the club that Feral had offered to redecorate the Quad with the remnants of his testicles if he so much as encouraged the campus' former power couple. One strike, no matter how painful, was not yet an out!

It was with this confidence that Asa strode into Schuster Hall's administrative offices to request a copy of the elusive form F-0055 "Request for Permission to Maintain Public Sacred Spaces". He smiled back at Mrs. Claire's knowing smile, thanking her for the help before learning the requirements.

Back at their clubhouse/library room:

"What do we have to do, sacrifice a black cock at a crossroads at midnight?" asked Gladys 'Damiana' Mann.

Asa grimaced at the sarcasm, not that she was far off the mark. "Something even more of a commitment, actually."

"What could that be?"

"Part A requires a parent or legal guardian's signature for each of the club officers."

"Not chilling the discourse much, is it, guys," grumbled Kaylee 'Mara' Byers. On the other hand, if only one signature was needed, her mother would sign nearly anything sure to piss off her father.

Elija 'Orrery' Coombs shook his head. "Something like that pops up here and there in the Handbook, to discourage frivolous requests for things that will have to be removed at some expense later. Hey, my roommate's Jewish, that's how I knew that temporary shelters like a sukkah aren't covered under the prohibition. Besides, if Moshiach happened to enroll here, I think there'd be bigger problems ahead of us."

Gladys doubted the school cared even that much about outside minorities. Exemplars pretty much ruled the roost here. "If there's a Part A, there must be a Part B. Out with it, Ace."

"We need signed permission from recognized figures representing each Entity or Deity to be involved."

"No heresies, no problem. What about those who don't have formal cults?" There had to be a catch somewhere.

"As far as I can tell, their personal Mark would be accepted, or a 'signature obtained' statement vouched for by an instructor in the Mystic Arts faculty."

"So what is the catch? Our parents sign for us, Their parents sign for Them..."

"Close Damiana, so very close. Part C. Fricking Part damned C."

"How bad can it be?"

"Part B was religious figures. Part C is where their families have a 90-day period in which to file their objections."

Kaylee wondered out loud, "There's got to be someone somewhere who doesn't hate and isn't hated by their family, right?"

"Time to hit the books, then!"


Three months later

Asa opened 'Old Business' with "Damiana, who do we have so far?"

"Of the Greek deities, we may have gotten a sign-off on Nyx."

One of the general members asked, "Is that Stevie Nicks or some other Nyx?"

"That's why it's tentative. No one wants to upset the Lady of Night, least of all Imp-, er, Zeus. After all, the annual New York event is Night of a Thousand Stevies, not Night of a Thousand Pedos, so the Bad Boy of Olympus might not want to mess with Stevie either. I get the feeling that the Discordians would sign off on either one, with the majority in favor of the singer."

"What about the Norse? Personally, I'd love to get something going with Thor."

"... I'll just have to keep that in mind. The Freya who graduated from here had no connection to the historical one. Hela is a few weeks away from a court injunction or worse if she doesn't pick a new code name."

"Why is that?"

"Because the Mistress of Hel thinks she's an embarrassing little prat."

"Um, right. What about the others?"

"We have three direct male descendants of Odin on campus. One of them has called 'dibs' on desecrating anything erected to honor Odin or Loki. The other two want us to remember that they know where we sleep."

"Do they?"

"Ever hear of something called the Campus Directory?"

"Oh, yeah."

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1 year 8 months ago #56398 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
Hot For A Teacher

Sunday, February 3, 2008,
Office of the Headmistress, Schuster Hall, Whateley Academy


If anything, Sam Everheart had been reactionary, uptight, and still more efficient than America had expected, even managing a morning meeting with the Headmistress. The morning air was cool, only a couple of degrees below freezing, and clear. From the Kane Hall entrance America could see a couple of institutional style buildings south of a grassy area her escort called The Quad, the Beck Library to the east of it, and their destination Schuster Hall. Those buildings of note that weren't examples of poured-concrete Modern Soul Crushing were of the Early-Pretentious New England Style. Maybe the point of her assignment was to help the students liberate themselves from Patriarchal conformity?

Maybe it was just the job title, 'headmistress', that skewed America's expectations. Or, it may have been the marble tiled floor and dark wainscoting in the outer office. Either way, she didn't expect to be greeted by a woman who could have stepped right out of one of Steve Rogers' pinup calendars, dressed comfortably in a flannel shirt and jeans. Even the coffee from the woman's thermos bottle was good.

Elizabeth Carson took a slow drink of her coffee. Canela would be in her fifties by now if she'd stayed put, but she'd taken a chance on going where she could see histories being made. Now, one of the fruits of that journey sat across from her, bearing a recommendation for an internship. Was this a gesture of trust that her teaching skills had improved, or payback for her critiques on the young history student's term papers?

Setting her cup down, Carson lead back in with "Ms. Chavez, what has your professor told you about our school and this plane in general?"

"Not very much. There were growing concerns regarding mutants and mutation away from some arbitrary human norm when she left this parallel. She probably wanted to teach me to rely less on my powers, you know? The first time I met her I had walked straight into a simulator running with powers and magic neutralized 'to rely on ancestral knowledge and not just brute force.'"

"Walked in late, did you?"

"In one. How'd you know?"

"Canela Douglas was one of my students back when I was working on my doctorate in English Literature."

America's brows furrowed as she tried to do the math. "..."

"The last I checked, I was still seventy-six years old. Do you need to see my MID?"

"No! I mean, it looks good on you."

"I'm also in a relationship."

"I didn't mean it that way!"

"I have been around the block a few times. However, too many of our students come from very conservative backgrounds or are survivors of abuse. As an intern, you may be shielded from some of the acting out if you chose to be open about your life, but likely not all of it. That brings us back to the most important thing about Whateley Academy: we are here to keep our students safe, and to teach them how to survive in a world that is largely hostile to their existence."

"It's going to be harder than it sounds, isn't it?"

"Here I am, sitting in my office on a Sunday morning instead of spending time with my daughter."

"I didn't mean to get in the way of that! ¡Dios mío! I'd give just about anything to spend one more morning with my mothers."

"It's not your fault. One of our many high-spirited students... Let's say that I do thank God, or whoever's listening, that I'm not breaking bad news to his mother this morning."

"Is getting hurt while playing hero a common thing?"

"We do have some of those, but the neutrality agreements that keep some of the wolves from the gates require us to
favor neither heroes nor villains. In practice, that means that someone like Doctor Diabolik can rest assured that I, we, will do everything in our power to keep his children safe here and free to get the same quality of education as the children of any of Star League's members."

"If you ask me, that sounded un poquito too specific."

"This position has introduced me to sinners, saints, and monsters, on all sides of the law."

"As long as I'm not stuck with Loki ever again, I think I'll be able to manage."

"Remember what I said about neutrality, Ms. Chavez? Family members are allowed to visit, unimpeded and unmolested, so long as they behave themselves."

"Relatives? Him? Or her?"

"It's complicated. However the perimeter wards recognized one of his sons as close kin to at least one enrolled student."

A light flashed on the intercom. Good timing. "Obviously I haven't yet decided on placement for you. So, if you don't have any pressing questions for me, I believe your tour guide is in the outer office waiting for you."

"Pester her with the boring stuff?"

"Be my guest."

Mrs. Carson stood up, and stepped around her desk. Shaking hands with America Chavez she said, "Welcome to Whateley Academy," before escorting her out the door.

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1 year 8 months ago #56403 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
Private Conflicts


To: Gunnison, L., Cdt 3c
Fm: Gunnison, M.

Hey chummer, thanks for dropping by before heading out for school! Wish I could have been out of isolation to shake your hand, but if wishes were fishes, right? Same for wishing you success because I know you will do just fine. By the way, if Simpson gives you too much static, wait till he's screaming mad (bad habit!) and ask him if he needs to be reintroduced to "Pollywog Creek". What? I can lip-read a bit.



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L., Cdt 3c

Mads, what in seven hells did you DO? Or what did YOU TWO do?

Really, I do need to know, because I informed him that you hadn't told me YET, but you would if it came to that. I talked to your doctor briefly. She said one always makes promises instead of mucking around with threats. I'm not sure how to take that from from a surgeon.



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L., Cdt 3c

Thanks bror. Really. Mail call is right after lunch and I did not need that much detail.



To: Gunnison, L., Cdt 3c
Fm: Gunnison, M.

Never ask a question if you don't want to hear the answer. Thanksgiving?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L., Cdt 3c

I am never looking at turkey the same way again, but yes. Travel arrangements SEPCOR.



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L., Cdt 2c

Bror, please. If you get this msg, please at least find shelter when you can? The weather's turning cold, and I worry.



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L., Cdt 2c

Godammit bror, it's NOT SAFE. People DIE that way. See you at Tday break, if you live that long.



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L., Cdt 2c

Very f-ing funny, asshole. I am glad you've found shelter and are attending school (On the south side of Hell by most accounts!)

But, No. Just, No. The corps-provided sniper on a rooftop doesn't count as "having someone looking out for you".
Yes, Winter Break, if one of your so-called "classmates" doesn't shank you first. Word is, that there's been an up-tick in gang-related violence in that area. Surprise, fragging surprise.

P.S. That so-called high school makes the "Seattle Underground High" hyperreal vids look like Princeton. Did you know that someone got burned to death in that school recently?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

For the record, I had to cash a couple of favors to get this account, just to read your last msg. WTF,K? Why on earth would anyone need this level of encryption? Atkins, the guy who helped me with it, first was going to help me spoof the credentials to bypass the classification checks (Scary, right?), but my own worked, first time. He's refused to talk to me since. Would there just happen to be a reason for this?

At least you aren't living on the street anymore. I know, I know, you didn't sleep through Survival class. Who could? But you had me worried out of my mind. Can't someone get you into a better school?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Bror, thank you for the comm link. I can tell *someone* spent a lot of time on it. What was it originally? I need to know in case I get hauled into the Commandant's office again for even having something like that.

Of course I have money riding on the answer.

BTW, who's Proxie, and what did he mean by "that old firewall couldn't stand up to a matchstick"?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Happy New Year and all that, Mads. I'm glad, for certain values of shocked and appalled, to hear you have a job, but no one hires a 9th grader as an office intern with your academic record. No one. Seriously, bror, have you been seeing Dr. Owens like you're supposed to?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Owens was FIVE therapists ago?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

At least you aren't in Lansing. One of the guys whose mother works in one of the enforcement groups says he overheard that some routine "gun and run" turned out to be tied to that war down in Amazonia. First, drug wars in Detroit, now this.

I think I get the part about you torquing off two very hawt elves. How drunk do you have to get an elf to manage that without someone dying of liver failure?

I still am having trouble believing that you're working as an intern. Apparently someone who looks just like you has made a good impression on the executive assistants and accounts clerks I've talked to.



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

So you've met a guy. It's about time, even if "it's complicated." Does Evie realize that telling me not to worry that you're spending your weekends in Kansas City only makes me worry more? There's no way you could afford to travel like that on an intern's salary! Or is this "guy" living there?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

WTF do you mean by 'Survived surgery. Need better meds.'?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Nevermind. I talked to Evie. I'm still getting used to the idea that she's taken on both of us, but I think I can like her.

Bror, you could always use a few more working brain cells. You could have mentioned you still had a skull plate left to replace. See you over break, or will you be in KC?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Bror, it was great seeing you over break. You do look a lot better! One of these days you've got to take me to see this mythical office you work at. Meeting T was interesting. Caustic, but interesting.

By the way, when the hell were you going to mention that you're a mage?

Yes, the AK-97 is awesome. I did not know that that much recoil compensation could be retrofitted in. I did recognize the sound suppressor in the case. Did you know those things are illegal? Because they are!

Now for the thing I didn't want Evie overhearing. Remember that afternoon you lent me your -illegal in the States- skateboard? I was trying out a few tricks in the park you pointed out when some Russian dude comes up to tell me "Is good your brother trusts truce. Means no problems here, da? Say hello for Valentin." The guy moved like one of those Adepts in a spy flick, but for an Ork that's impressive. That's also insanely dangerous, which is why I believed him.




"This just in, hot off the Net: A second major explosion in Kansas City. No information yet on casualties. Initial leads tie it in to either the drug gang violence that led to bombings in KC and Amarillo a few weeks ago or to the international terror strikes earlier this year in Detroit and Lansing."

"Godammit, Mads, pick up! I know you're in Kansas City this weekend. Damn it!"



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Bror. If you ever receive this, I want you to know I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry for not believing in you. I'm sure you didn't want it to happen, but I was read in today. Not everything, flatscan! I know they left out a lot because I'm still just a kid. But you're just a kid too! This can't be happening.

Wherever they send you, please try to make it back.



"This just in from Tír na nÓg: A raid on an IRA arms drop went wrong today. Several national policemen have been injured in an explosion at the munitions bunker and subsequent firefight. The search is now on for four munitions smugglers, armed and dangerous, possibly operating out of London."

---

Evelyn tried to brace herself as she worked in the kitchen to put together a meal with two extra plates. Lars might even eat for a change. Thunderbird's Song had warned her who'd be letting himself in. Right. It would take a top-of-the-line sequencer to crack the front door. Maybe she could tell Lars she heard something scratching at the ... her AR display flagged the door opening barely enough to fit a thin figure, with no one there. Three guesses who would have the guts to break in in daylight and still be that paranoid. She waited.

"AAAAAAAAAUUUUGH!"

*whooof!*

*thunk* *thump*

Ah yes, the sound of a human body crashing into an interior wall before hitting the wall.

"MADS!"

"Who? I'm not so sure. Maybe I bumped my head? Hej ... no, no, no, don't ... no, really. See? I'm fine. I'm here now, Lars. Just. It's okay. It's going to be okay."

"Dr. Beaulieu,"

"Please call me Evelyn, or Evie. I'm not on the floor."

"That does beat 'Who the hell are you and what are you doing with my son!'"

"That it does."

"Evelyn. I like the feel of that. Give them a couple more minutes. Braindeath the Magician is having some odd pains in his chest and throat, but it'll take a tow rig to make him let go of Lars right now."

"You two are still going at it?"

"Meh. He enjoys being a pest. An irrationally risk-taking pest with a nose for trouble - can the guy even walk into a music performance without generating injuries? - but a pest, nonetheless."

"He does grow on you."

"That, now that is a horrifying thought, woman. Are you *sure* he isn't yours by birth?"

"As a doctor and a woman, I can assure you that I would remember giving birth to either one."

The two refused to notice any red eyes or wet patches on the brothers' shirts as they walked in on the conversation. Mads positioning himself almost unconsciously to keep watch over his brother and foster mother.



Mama Bear hated that she'd had to ask her sons to come to the clinic to help out. On a good night, she, a nurse, and a local volunteer could handle the patient intake. Lars might be exposed to might be a knife injury or two, because the clinic was in a No Man's Land between Trog Town and South Detroit proper. Where it was needed. The bangers left her alone and she didn't have to break heads.

This just wasn't shaping up to be a good night.

The weather had been hot and muggy for days leading up to a full moon weekend. The kind that too often had ended with her setting one of her older son's bones or treating a dislocation, but the manic glint in his eyes, that lopsided broken grin: 'Hej, Mama! I'm still here!' somehow warming her heart more than he broke it. However, this weekend it wasn't just trog-punk mosh pit violence, but a drug money-fueled turf war.

Candace had had to cancel when already too many border zones went hot. That left Peters to assist in back, Mads up front to keep his brother too buried in filing forms and recording payments to deal with too much. She prayed what spilled over wouldn't be too much for the eleven-year-old.

By sundown, she and the nurse were trying like hell to save a young Ork couple's first litter. One of the babies would need to be turned to avoid a C-section they couldn't afford, or worse. The last thing they'd need would be:

"Doc. How's it going? Daddy's beside himself"

... exactly that.

"Oh, really? HE'S beside himself? HE DID THIS TO ME!"

"Tell him 5 cm, and no more interruptions if he wants to keep breathing!"

"Got it."

--

"Mister Torres? 5 cm, and I wouldn't go in there if I were you."

"Too true, kid."

-- one voodoo doll to be named after an obstetrician later --

"Lars, call up the forms list, we've got five sets of live birth records to fill out, not four."

*thunk*

"Aw, hell. New daddy needs smelling salts."

"NEW DADDY BETTER GET HIS ASS IN HERE AND MEET HIS KIDS, RIGHT NOW!"

"I'd hurry up if I were you."

--

A couple of hours later, even Lars wasn't astonished by his brother's announcement to the clinic's makeshift lobby:

"Folks, listen up! The word out of Metro PeeDee is that the Skeletons may be moving on the Chromers tonight. If you don't have colors - no, I don't need to know - anyway, the right colors to fly on the out and about, or serious armor, I'm going to recommend making plans for home while you can. Ms Williams, we've got time for Jeffy here if you've got wheels lined up."

"Yo, Al1ce! Is it just the Skellies and Chromes rolling?"

"'Busher, my man, you know it ain't. That's from the popo's tote board. Azzies are bringing in some high-grade for their Alpha-rated clients, but that drop won't hit T-Town streets. Make that better not. Looking at posted courier rates, the southwest docks 'round River Rouge must be getting warn-offs."

"Then I'll camp here until Mama Bear can work her magic on my arm. Better odds that way, I figure."

"Chip truth, that. Let me place some calls before the party goes mobile."

...

" ... yes, Max, really, really. Makes and models serious. Clinic? yeah. Listen, could you make a pickup on the way over? Sending that too."

"Ambusher, Miss Comstock, Mr. Smith, Mrs. J. Doe? I've got a mechanic in-bound with gear, he should be here in an hour or so, after a stop at Covenant Community. Yes?"

"If he's rolling straight through past Triple-C your friend better have his DocWagon paid up."

"I know Max. DocWagon and a metric hoopful of scrap iron stashed in the frame."

"I'll stay. You've got my interest now.

---

"MAKE WAY, people. That includes you, breeder. We've got wounded here."

"That's just peachy. One, this is Mama Bear's clinic, not the Skels'. Two, no colors. Three, I mean ditch the fragging colors and stop waving heat. NOW."

"Do you know who I am, brat?"

"In a whole world of fucking pain if you don't move your mother-fucking hand off my arm. Neutral ground here, but I WILL make an exception for you. Five seconds more, BOYS, and I'm calling the hunt on whatever's left."

" ... Axe, Jake, do it. 's'n order. "

"You just got lucky, kid."

"Jake? Shuddup."

"Back again so soon? Back off, bucko. Lars? Paperwork for Mr. Mickey Mouse. Let his friends help with that. What've we got here?
... slot me sideways. Doc's still in surgery, too ... damn.
Yo Bones, you're still conscious. What are you running on this evening?"

"Nothin' man. Jus' *argh* clean *m'th'rf'kr* Guts n' Coke, okay? Tha'z it. Swear. Don't poke there!"

"Listen hard. We're short on supplies, the night's young, and you're short on time. I need your permission to do what I decide is necessary to keep you alive. Scan?"

"Yo! We didn't bring him here to die on us!"

"... yeah. Whatever. Do it. "

"Got it. Lars, keep an eye out for Max inbound. Miss Comstock would you go outside with Lars to keep watch?

OK. Right. Lemme break out a tray."

...

"Gentlemen. These, are bandage scissors modified for ballistic clothing. Over there, we have an assortment of implements. You'll be removing clothing and armor as I direct once I scrub up, aaaand holding your bro down. But first,

"Folks! I've got 100 ready to go for one good hit of Nitro. Any takers? Thank you sweet lady!"

...

"'busher, Comstock, thank you for pitching in, waiting for Max, and NOT running away screaming when he showed up. I owe ya."

"Null sheen, omae. I was surprised to see a cleancut like you reach in for those rounds. Messy work."

"Beats losing a patient. Sucking up a few miles of ditchwater and muck - that's messy."

"You see? It's all about people. That's why I want to start up -"

"NO, Max. Just, no. And we both know your dogs hate me."

"They don't hate other Changelings. I don't understand how there'd be that much difference."

"I don't want to test any theories about that either."

...

"Um, Max?"

"Yes? Lars, right? You know, you do look a lot like your brother."

"So I'm told. Yeah. Are you a runner? You seem awful comfortable with combat medicine."

"What do you think?"

"What about Mads?"

"That's his name? I sort of forgot while we were in London. No offense, but who'd hire a kid for that kind of stuff?"

"London?"

"Ahhh. Ummmm. Don't tell your brother I mentioned that. He can be a little scary even when he isn't on edge."



To: Gunnison, L.
Fm: Gunnison, M.

Guess who'll be back in Motor City to see you off to your 1c year? Also, whatever rumors you've heard, I had nothing to do with it. Want anything from the Tir?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Mads, thank you ever so much for introducing me to the perimeter security patrols. According to my teacher, we're not supposed to notice them. First time I've ever lost points on a quiz because it had to be classified. Thanks.



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Speaking of things you could have warned me about: the Bravo Company awards case. Apparently, I'm expected to be as good at orienteering, confidence course, and outdoor swimming as 'The Madman' was, his 1c year.

P.S. This year's confidence course was designed by a sadist.
P.P.S. I'm still not fine with turkey.



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

I enjoyed having a relaxing Winter Break, but the barracks here feels more like home. I can't believe I'll be in 7th grade next year. Is it too much to hope that Seattle will be a normal assignment?



To: Gunnison, M.
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Based on the news from Seattle, I can only assume that "normal" is a setting on my big brother saw on a washing machine, once, from a distance, using a telescope with dusty lenses. I wish you could have made it back to Detroit for Spring Break, but there's always next time, right?

P.S. Evie told me about your arm.



To: [expired account]
Fm: Gunnison, L.

Bror. They said it was a routine courier job.

How does a "routine courier" go missing?

All I remember is how sad you looked packing for the trip. And you and Thomas both were looking around at everything like you didn't think you'd see it again. But it was you I wouldn't see again, wasn't it?

Evie said this would be the last msg I could send to any of your accounts, and that I'd understand some day.

I don't want to understand some day.

I want my brother.



Author's note: All events referenced happen over the course of two years, prior to the start of " Chewing Through The Straps "]

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1 year 7 months ago #58247 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
Nickelback Tour

Sunday, February 3, 2008,

Office of Student Services, Schuster Hall, Whateley Academy


Perhaps Providence had decreed that the first meeting of the morning had gone too smoothly. Or perhaps, it was just one of those days. Maybe it was something in the way that Auxiliary Security Officer Jensen stood - more like bounced on his heels in a localized area - or the slight build that helped make him look short for his age, or the way his restless glamour silently keened the untended dead into the aether, but Ms. Chavez must have seen enough reminder of the despised Loki Laufeyson in the boy to clench her fists. Jensen went on alert at almost the same time. Elizabeth Carson braced herself to intervene, but she'd also taken stock of the bandaging barely hidden by the duty cap that the young man was wearing. She could work with that.

"Mister Jensen! Would you care to explain why you are standing duty while injured?"

Jensen didn't take his eyes off of Chavez as he replied, "Ma'am, Admiral Everheart thought I should get an early start on my latest detention. Should I have reported to Arena 77 instead?"

"No. It was intended that someone from Security show Ms. Chavez around campus, not necessarily to defend themselves from her."

"Mrs. Carson, do you know who that son of a whore is? He's —"

"Mads Christian Møller-Jensen af Rosenborg, a freshman-year student at this school and the eldest adopted son of a talented surgeon I'd gladly welcome to practice medicine here. Trust me, we have met on more than one occasion."

"Ma'am?"

"In my position I have to always be on the lookout for new talent to make up for attrition."

"I see."

To be fair, America didn't want to fight a kid, and the more she looked at him the more she could make out differences. This boy was a few inches taller than Kid Loki, had dirty blond hair instead of jet black, mismatched hazel eyes instead of green, a f-ing assault rifle and pistol, and somehow he was even paler than that Asgardian pain in the culo. She asked him, "If you aren't him, then why do you remind me so much of a certain lying, thieving," *ahem* "... jerk I used to know?"

"Maybe some of my awesome rubbed off on the Wilson by accident?"

"Ay! Now I've got it: you both have a head you don't need."

Jensen raised one eyebrow in disdain, "Miss, I don't provide those services to just anyone."

Mrs. Carson sighed, "Can I trust the two of you to set aside your plans for impending apocalypse long enough to manage one tour of the campus?"

"Yes, of course." "Yes, ma'am." Both: Not a chance in hell.


Homer Gallery, Schuster Hall

"Are we really supposed to be starting this tour with an abandoned museum?"

"The Homer Gallery is part of the standard nickel tour we give all our incoming. Think of it as a rite of passage."

"Is that why you picked the lock?"

"No! Of course not. I just had to give it a little encouragement. Let's start with the one piece every new student must view within their first conscious 24 hours on campus: a portrait of Lord Paramount, Prince of Wallachia."

"Why? While you're at it, what's with the Vlad Dracul reference?"

"One: he's a major donor and money talks. Two: Wallachia is in Eastern Europe, maybe he sees himself as unifying the postage stamp country as a bulwark against the infidels."

"Megalomaniac."

"But a successful one. They'll have to enjoy it while he lasts. Now this over here is gold. That's pretty much all there is to it. One ton of gold. It's supposed to be a statement - up to the individual to figure it out."

"Let me guess: another major donor with more money than God?"

"Yep. Gabriella Guzman. Like Paramount, she's an alumnus, only her money comes from real estate and other businesses in the Southwest and Mexico." Metro paused, and let his voice become much more somber, "One thing to remember if you happen to meet her is that her kid was murdered here on campus last year."

"Madre de Dios!"

"Puts that lump of gold AND the portrait into perspective doesn't it?"

"And then some. Was the killer caught?"

"As far as I know. But word is there's more to the case than that, and that's all above my paygrade. On a happier note? Superhero costumes that beg that universal question which spans the generations: 'What the hell were they thinking?'"


Crystal Hall

The Crystal Hall was ... interesting. The geodesic dome was somewhat dated, and there was a hint of that universal cafeteria smell, but the layouts of the different dining levels and the interior design demonstrated that someone had put thought into a recent rehab of the place. What truly stood out was the variety of shapes and sizes and appearances among the student body. The kid pointed out some features of the weekend morning's sluggish self-organization of cliques, clubs, gangs, and mobs. It seemed that no matter which universe one chose, there would always be The Beautiful People (some of whom were so smoking hot America might consider trading teams for some batter practice), the Losers, the Misfits. But what could possibly be the point of having Jocks and Cheerleaders?

Some of the kids were weird even by Roberto da Costa's standards, others were prime trademark infringements if this universe had a Marvel Comics worth paying attention to. "What's with the Dani Moonstar clone?"

"Hm? Down, girl! That's Pejuta and I hear she's got a lady of her own back home. If you mean she's heavy into her tribal identity, that's because she is. She's also divides her time between rehabbing ancient autos, combat skills training, modeling, math tutoring, and inter-planar travel."

"Not impressed by a strong young woman showing she can make it in the white man's world?"

"From the combat simulator schedules I've seen, she's doing that by burning her candle at both ends. Anyway, over there we've got our special needs line, one of the 'big eaters' lines, and you can pretty much tell what the others offer. Let's show you the faculty and staff dining area so you can grab some grub off someone's ID other than mine."

"Why not yours, too cheap to share?"

"I pick up my meals from the short bus line."

"Just how special are those meals?"

"The chefs pride themselves on being able to prepare nearly anything needed, and it still be edible. Even Muktuk a lá Minamata. On that cheerful note, I'll be back in thirty minutes or so to continue the tour."

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1 year 7 months ago - 1 year 7 months ago #58304 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
9:15PM, December 24th, 2007,
Aarhus, Denmark


Margrethe checked her watch. If all had gone to plan her cousin's guest should be nearby and her grandchildren either running from them or ganging up on them. Remembering her own grandfather and knowing the children's mothers as she did, the smart money was on the latter.

"Mary? Would you be so kind as to check on the boys and Isabella? I hate to think what mischief they might be getting into."

"I was thinking the same thing myself. By your leave?"

"Of course."


One week ago

"Rudolph!"

< Sshhhh. We must keep it a secret. Julemanden doesn't know I'm here! >

Mary pursed her lips, not wanting to convey Parental Approval for whatever was coming. "I'm beginning to see the reasoning."

< I promise! He IS coming, right? >

< Of course he is. Maybe he'll bring some Lego blocks? >

"This went on for hours at the airport in Boston."

< What are Lego blocks? >

< Lots of fun! >

< ... for big boys who pick up their toys! >

"Mads, Kris, I'd intended to ash what the two of you think about the school? I'm sure the publicity photos don't tell the whole story."

"I thought you were still trying to weasel out of that?"

"Have you met your aunt? Or Tink?"

"Who's Tink?"

"A cheerful, if diminutive, young woman capable of striking terror into the hearts of velociraptors."

"A velo-, ci-, um, that?"

"A dinosaur that runs fast."

< Could I get one of those for Christmas? Does it fit in the sleigh? >

Mads smiled brightly. "Would an autographed photo suffice?"


One hour earlier


Monica's voice called out from the Turners' back porch, "Jack! Just the person I wanted to see!"

< Go. Save yourself while you can! >

Adam Carlisle giggled at the lame movie quote. "Race ya!"

< You're on! >

Loser had to sign the printed-out photos last, with the girliest glitter pen. Life was so unfair when you're Jack Carlisle.



< What do you mean I get to deliver them too? >

"Stop being such a baby. Here, take this." She handed him a glass rod. He wasn't sure he wanted to find out where to put it. "You break it when you're ready to come back. Come back early enough and we'll take you to out for some last-minute shopping."

That was so not happening.

She handed him the mailer with the autographs, and started with the chanty finger-wiggly stuff. It's even more confusing with extra arms. "Say hello to Denmark for me!"

"WHAT?"


Down the hall

Mary opened the door to the room, one where the children were supposed to be behaving themselves, in time to hear "Yay!"

"Oh my God!" was her own response to the sight.

There was a small (?) dinosaur sitting on Mads' chest. Her son and Alexandra's youngest were riding on the dinosaur's shoulders, cheering it on, much to Nikolai's and Lars' amusement. Thomas had Isabella out of her crib and well away from the rough-housing. That must be the one sane man in this mob. At least no one was crying or bleeding.

The dinosaur barked a couple of times at its prey before turning his head to check out the intruder. It gestured in some form of sign language which a box hung round his neck translated to:

"Did you want this one? He's a bit scrawny, but put enough ketchup on and no one will notice."

Nikolai announced, "We better call it. I think Mads is turning blue-er."

Lars told him, "I'll get Felix if you'll get Christian."

"Deal."

"I'm just going to lay here for a bit."

"Oh, is that so, Mister-my-ribs-are-all-healed-up?"

"Doesn't make Jack any lighter. What've they been feeding you, entire herds?"

"Gentlemen, I would like an explanation for all this. One of you must be capable of acting his age."

The "dinosaur" named Jack leapt over to a table to pick up a mailing tube, before helping Mads up and walking back to the unamused parent. She looked familiar, but how would anyone normal know Metro? Unless Noms had sent him to Hell... hopefully by mistake.

Again from the translator box: "My dear lady, I was sent here from the farthest miles and miles of miles and miles to peacefully deliver this before I was set upon by rabid Vikings. Though sorely persecuted, I prevailed."

Mads spoke up, "May I present to you Jack Carlisle, from Australia's Northern Territory, otherwise known as Razorback the Detention King of Whateley Academy."

"You're the one racing to catch up, pinky biped."

"And Jack, I should also properly introduce Her Royal Highness, Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark."

So THAT was where Jack recognized her from! That must also be why everyone had insisted that Jack make the delivery in person. Such great, great friends he had. He'd plan his vengeance later.

Northern Territory? Darwin? Mary felt numb as she accepted the mailer, "Thank you." Opening it, she saw three other faces she knew both from television and from reports, which meant this had to have been one of the people who risked their lives back in January. If he knows Mads from school, he couldn't be more than a teen himself? She extended her hand for a handshake, "I do mean Thank You to you and to your friends."

Jack pointed a clawed thumb at the crazy one. "May I ask how the rest of you know him?"

Christian said, "Rudolph said he could get me picture of a dinosaur for Christmas, and you came!"

The oldest of the four explained, "He means 'Cousin Mads'."

"Thanks, guys. This bus will do just fine. Oh, look: rust on the undercarriage."



Afternoon, December 24th, 2007,
Turner Residence, Kilgore, Texas


"Jack! What took you so long? Noms said all you had to do was hand over the photos."

< There I was, minding my own business, when suddenly I was attacked by Vikings. >

"Riiiight. Save it for someone who'd buy it. Any last-minute requests for dinner?"

< I'd like a pony. >

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1 year 5 months ago - 1 year 5 months ago #59484 by null0trooper
null0trooper replied the topic: Metro-verse Anthology
Loathsome Liberated Libers and Other Homework

Early morning,
Hawthorne Cottage, Whateley Academy


Like any other school day at any other boarding school, the hour or two before breakfast and classes was the usual helter-skelter cluster-stumble as night owls and procrastinators barely avoided being run over by the eager beaver morning persons. The superficial differences in form and capabilities among the youngsters added a mad touch of diversity to the crowd. Informal wagers over what Jimmy T would be waking up as mixed together with the latest emotional weather report for downtown Eldritch-ville, hummed snatches of bad indie pop, and sometimes really weird gossip. It shouldn't work out, but from the house parents down to the youngest resident, it was made to work.

Debbie Cantrell put down the telephone receiver in her office. The news was good. By most measures it was even great. However, she had no illusions that the young woman moving back in had emerged unscathed by her ordeal.

"Should I make the announcement now, or present it to the children as a done deal?"

A middle-aged man appeared in the room, remaining standing to better stay face-to-face with the House Mother in her grav chair.

"I think we should break the news to Caitlin and Melissa first, then send out an email. The freshmen shouldn't know her at all. Even some of the older students never had much contact with her."


Lunch,
Euro-Promotional League table, Crystal Hall, Whateley Academy


Mads 'Metro' Jensen had been seated for maybe five minutes, just enough to plan an assault on whatever the dietitians had dreamed up this time. The green things that looked like nano-cabbages looked and smelled dubious. He tapped one with a fork before holding himself stock-still to double-check if they were still moving, just in case.

"They're called brussel sprouts," offered Thomas 'Valravn' Jensen, sitting down next to Mads. "Or, little green balls of death. By the way, check your mail."

Mads mumbled something along the lines of, "Whatever I'm accused of, I'm probably completely innocent. Brussel sprouts are cruel and unusual punishment for whatever I didn't ... Uh. Oh."

"Might as well eat while you can. They might be cool with it."

"You do know that you are automatically implicated as accomplice?"

"What else is new?"

Unless his taste buds deceived him, the less chewing and more swallowing involved, the easier the sprout things went down. The rest of the meal was easier to chew on. Twelve minutes in, Mads was able to excuse himself and head off to his residence cottage.

Reach stared at the Thornie's retreating back. "Wow. The guy managed to eat like a normal teenager for once. No offense, Ayla. Any chance we'll get to know the occasion?"

Thomas smiled. "He just remembered where he put one of his library books."

"He reads?"

"Sometimes he even reads the things he's supposed to."

"How often is that?"

"I didn't call it a habit, now did I?"



Midday,
Hawthorne Cottage Common Room, Whateley Academy


"... back, Sara. I hope you don't mind that we tried to not make a big fuss over move-in," Mrs. Cantrell said.

"I don't. I do mind being treated like a fragile china doll by Otto and the few staff members who weren't openly hoping I was burning in Hell."

Louis Geintz replied, "Not being in a position to free you doesn't mean we weren't worried. In fact-" In fact he was interrupted by a student trying to get through the main doorway before the door fully opened. Judging by the labored, raspy breathing and purplish complexion, Metro must have tried running from wherever. What could be that much of a problem? Oh. Oh, dear. He reached out telekinetically to stop the boy.

"Sara, might I introduce one of our fellow downstairs residents before he passes out trying to sneak past us?"

This was more like the Whateley Academy that Sara dimly remembered!

"I'd be delighted."

"Well, then. Sara, this is Mads Christian Møller-Jensen. Mads, Sara Waite. Carmilla, this is Metro, who I believe would be delighted to escort you to the Lovecraft Room."

Sara held out her hand for a handshake. Mads hesitated a moment but returned the courtesy with a firm handshake of his own.

"Really?" Sara's smile was a shark's grin in freshly-chummed waters.

"Surprising to say, that's where he was heading in such a hurry."

Busted.

"Far be it for me to impede progress." Sara snared the boy's arm in hers, "Lead on, MacDuff!"



The Lovecraft Room, Whateley Academy

Sara wondered if the boy was mute, intimidated, or afraid to admit whatever he'd been up to in the Demon Princess' absence. If the latter, she hoped against hope that turned out to be very naughty. With her luck, the worst he'd done would be to read a book. Considering the books she hoped she still had, that could be very, very naughty.

At the door, instead of pulling out the room's key Metro retrieved a lock pick set. That explains how. Almost.

"This might take a few tries. The room's presents a different tumbler arrangement every time I," he said before the door he leaned on opened of its own accord.

"I know I locked this door! Of course, if we were going to be ambushed it's a little late to start shooting."

"Personally, I think it's never too late for some well-placed target practice." The voice was unmistakably male, richer than chocolate and blue velvet, and came with a tall, dark, gorgeous man who the boy could have sworn hadn't been there seconds ago. He would have noticed!

"Daddy!"
So much for those fantasies.

Mads, be sure to raise the settings on your room's psi dampers. Miranda might be old enough in your culture to be learning such things, but not in her mother's! I am glad that you favor nylon over hemp or sisal.

Louis, you ever try marching in combat boots with rope burns on your ankles?

I truly didn't need to live that experience, but thank you for sharing.


Sara ran to greet her father with a hug.

Am I intruding? I just wanted to see you, but I can be patient for a few minutes, or join in if my little girl prefers to share.

The one who's mentally undressing you? And looking for places to tie ropes? He didn't look at me that way.

If you knew his ancestry you wouldn't be surprised by that. That doesn't mean you'd be left disappointed.

Tease.

Gothmog released his dear child. "Some other time perhaps? Where are my manners today? I am Antonio Marques Dominguez, Sara's father. I admit to being curious as to who else has been using her room."

What Mads thought: I'm more curious about using him in her room.

What Mads said: "I've been storing some reading materials, that's all. I'll just grab the manuscripts and get out of everyone's hair."

Gothmog stifled a laugh. "Academic study in a school? Why don't you show us the manuscripts? You've piqued my interest. Sara has some valuable first editions of her own, here. I'd hate to see them get mixed up." Seeing the boy's suddenly guarded expression, "I am not kidding when I say that some of them are not for general consumption."

Sara said, "I would like to see what you've gone to so much trouble for, and - no promises, but - I might even be able to help you with translations or interpretations."

Realizing he wasn't getting out of this, not with two entities packing the raw power he associated with Dragons and Other Equally Bad News, Mads walked over to the room's writing desk. From a shelf above the desk, he pulled down a couple of tomes that she knew damned well had not been there the last time Sara had seen the Room. Both were inscribed with the Elder Script of the Hyperboreans, one dealt with the wizard Eibon, making the other tome an ancient version of the nigh-apocryphal Pnakotic Manuscripts.

"Those weren't here before."

"Like I said, this seemed like the safest place to keep them."

"How did you come across these? Somehow I don't think you checked them out of the library."

"One could say we rescued them from inevitable decay."

"Riiiight. Were there other books like these?"

"There was one about Ghoul Cults."

Cultes des Goules was only one of the most accursed tomes of black magic known to the West. Truly healthy reading for a high school freshman whose main concerns should be mid-term grades and seeking a cure for virginity.

"And where did you leave that one?"

"On the nice fireproof floor. I can take a hint."

The Mythos texts Michael Waite had been familiar with were far more likely to arrange the ignition of the reader first, along with scenic portions of the local countryside. Sara could feel her father's amusement.

"And you've been studying these?"

"When I get enough free time," Mads shrugged. "Whether I am studying them is an open question."

"How so?"

"I looked up semi-historical Hyperborea in the library. I'm fairly certain that Old Norse was not being spoken back before Uzuldaroum was scraped off the face of Greenland."

Sr. Dominguez had a suggestion. "Son, why don't you leave those here? They've been safe here so far, and it would be far easier to explain visiting my daughter than picking the lock to her room."

"You may be right, but the room and I enjoyed the challenge. You're both sure?"

"Mads, if I'm not engaged in personal affairs it's okay to visit. Just, knock first, please?"

"I can do that. I should also get to class. Sorry to be such a bother!"

Sara waited until the boy had scurried out before speaking again.

"Old Norse?"

"I did say his ancestry explained a lot."

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WhatIF Stories: Fall Rush

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Last Edit: 1 year 5 months ago by null0trooper. Reason: Clarifying dialog
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