A Storybook Story
Part 7 (Previous parts linked in signature below
So is everyone looking forward to finale?
I know I damn well am. And we'll also get to meet the greatest character of this story next time.
I hate to do this, but the lack of comments has made me wonder if anyone is reading this. I know everyone hates it when people get naggy for comments, but after the last few installments there hasn't been anything and my paranoia is starting to act up.
But anyways, I know it's odd to put Equius in as the miracle worker, but the interaction between him and Aradia are a great substitution for Max and Valerie's. Besides, Equius' dead pan is a nice contrast to Billy Crystal's hilarity in the movie.
Man, I'm following this religiously, waiting with baited breath for every chapter. it is just that I have nothing relevant to say.
I can relate....on both ends. I've gotten very little feedback on my fic, but I'm honestly trying not to sweat it. I only have a couple parts up and I know it doesn't even compare to the awesome talent of the other writers on this forum.
It is nice to get feedback. Even if it is 'Wow this kinda sucks.' or 'There's tons of holes in here' or 'THis doesn't really make sense'... Its still SOMETHING that gives some sort of direction. (oh gog that just made me sound really desperate, didn't it? oh well)
I try to comment on the fics I've been following (which, in this thread, has been every single one), but I really never have anything relevent to say other than some form of 'this is amazing! I love it!' I get really wrapped up in stories ( I find them to be very ----EXCITING!) and sometimes forget to comment. Apologies from my end.
But with your writing Wig, you really have nothing to worry about. Trust me, people are reading yours and loving it. I know I am
Everyone keep on truckin' and never forget how awesome you are! Keep makin' those mIrAcLeS hapen!
Approximately one kilometer above Derse - facing the faded outer edge of the Incipisphere - Rose stepped out of a magic tear in space. The prototyped Dersian arrived at the agreed rendezvous point not a minute later, careful to stay just outside viewport range. Once they left, such precautions naturally wouldn't be necessary.
She readied Dave's map, and got her bearings. This voyage would be quite difficult; she could spare a minute here to relax.
"...I assume you're prepared for this?"
"I mean, is this the direction we're going, miss?"
"Call me Rose."
"Oh, sorry! Got it, Rose."
"Thank you. Are you concerned about the route, or just having second thoughts?"
"Well... there are all those creepy dark threads coming in from outside, and then these voices and gnashing teeth and... frankly it's scary. I'm kinda flipping out, here."
"What you sense now is only the barest of glimpses into the warbling cacophony of ballads bellowed by the gargantuan, non-euclidian denizens of the expanse between dimensions. We will encounter pockets of their concentrated madness, rivaled only in peril by the stretches of the journey where time and space are variable and undefined."
At some point - back when she had been flying at breakneck speed along the surface of a mystic land of light, seeking advice from temporally independent aliens of varying states of maturity, and defacing ancient ruins with dark magic and a familiar at her side - the thought had once occurred to Rose that things couldn't possibly get any more ridiculous.
It was a stupid thought. And that was before her survival rested on the assistance of an impossible oversight of fate, an omnipotent agent of Derse with the countenance of a scared little child.
Then again, am I much more than a scared little child with dark powers and strange advisors?
Oh, hush, you.
Now, before you embark on this gothic, Lovecraft-bent rendition of Candyland, you should probably take a step back and make sure you're preventing the most vital possible mistakes. A quick checklist, perhaps?
One: Encourage childish sidekick to accompany you, so he doesn't decline now and doom you.
Two: Make sure he knows the risks of the mission, so he doesn't get surprised and abscond later.
Three: Figure out why he's crazy enough to embark in the first place, on the off chance he's about to maliciously or ignorantly endanger all creation.
Oh, my. Aren't our priorities a tad jumbled? No matter; addressing each concern in order should suffice.
"Nobody's forcing you to save my life."
"Don't worry so much. I would have wanted to go this... direction, anyway. You just found it is all, and it turns out its this neat savey stuff."
"Ah, my mistake! Of course you wanted to fly out into the horrific nothingness beyond the furthest ring of your own volition. Is there some sort of appointment you're keeping? Festivities, perhaps? I wouldn't want to make you late; Abyssal Lords are notoriously uncompromising with regards to punctuality."
"...something tells me that maybe you didn't mean all that just now."
"How perceptive of you."
"Ah, thanks. So it was one of those 'you weren't supposed to actually believe me' things? Like when Noir said I'd get a promotion if I snuck into the Black Queen's room and-"
"Okay. What were you saying, again?"
"You have a life, 'friends' of a sort, and a ring of ultimate power. You've managed to escape Skaia, too. One in your situation could lead a fairly comfortable existence, rather than flinging himself into the void. Especially when there's a good chance we won't make it."
"You'll make it, alright. I haven't pulled them hard, but it feels like you do."
"The threads you're following. You're gonna make it somewhere, that's for sure."
"Let's say I do. Who says you will?"
"Hey, I'm the one with the ring. I don't think there's much out there 'sides that bomb of yours that'll six me. And it looks pretty scary, but now that I figure it, I kept it together around you, so I think I'll be fine."
"Oh, you're welcome!"
"There's nothing really out there; nothing I'm about to find, anyway. What do you stand to gain?"
"I dunno, but I can't stay here. Even if I dodge all the threads and keep this ring, the web will collapse really soon and this whole place will... something bad. No clue what it is, but I get the feeling there's nothing left here for anyone after that, either."
"Lots of avenues exist out of this session. My friends, as I understand it, will soon leave this place to meet the 'otherworldly acquaintences' you're avoiding by keeping this distance between us."
"More webs, more threads, same story. There was even that really big place the ring got exiled through, and that might have been better, but it had Skaia's fat threads in it too. If there's someplace where I can know I won't get used again, I have a feeling your path is gonna lead me to it."
"And if it doesn't?"
"I still wanna know."
"Why are you doing something so dangerous for something so insignificant? So what if our actions get caught up in someone else's plan. They're still ours, aren't they? As long as nothing terrible happens to us, we wouldn't know any better. What if you didn't know about the threads at all, for instance? Would it really be so objectionable, as long as you led a peaceful, fulfilling life?"
The Droll tilted his dog-shaped head at her.
"Are you doing that thing again?"
"The 'I don't really mean what I'm saying' thing! You sounded like it, just now."
Rose smiled, again.
"Yes, I believe you're right."
Rose had been smiling quite frequently, as of late.
Two hours into the void, it was the furthest thing from her mind.
Soaring through unlimited nothingness is not as easy as it might seem. There is often no real "space", not even a cold or vacuum-filled expanse. Just a gentle pull outward, urging one out of their ordered state, inviting them gently into the fabric of the metaverse.
Space wasn't a problem. Rose's magic could channel her an atmosphere, protection, and the Droll didn't need it while his ring was on. The real enemy was Time.
Waves of causality rippled and flowed through Paradox Space, linking unconnected dimensions in what could be considered vaguely reminiscent of chronology. Relative to each pocket of space-time, different bubbles and membranes of the metaverse synced up at different times and rates, backwards and forwards alike. The Tumor was set to hemorrhage and detonate at a specific time relative to its originating session, regardless of the amount of time that passed for the object personally. Dave's map provided a path that traced the ebb and flow of time in both directions, staving off this deadline until arrival at the Green Sun.
Not an exact one, however; Rose had to monitor her session's clock through a spell, keeping a sharp eye out for deviations from the expected temporal flow at each leg of the trip. If she lost time due to an over-fast anomaly, they would have to linger in the next reverse flow to recover it. Reaching the deadline prematurely would obviously be fatal; or at least mean failure, if they expected it and warped the bomb away.
From their perspective, the mission should take just over four days.
Though the Horrorterrors are often addressed as a collective - and, hearing their manyfold voices from afar, they almost seem a hive-mind - they tend to be dangerously individual in-person. Some will understand and sympathize with a mission to their benefit, if they had been watching or care to listen for a minute. They may even offer to speed one along her path. Others prefer to gnash and writhe in seclusion, muttering sorrowful tones or vicious ramblings.
Many would notice the power of the Green Sun in the Droll, and see a threat. When taking off the ring didn't stay their hands, a small show of emerald force would quickly set them aside.
However, there were more devious entities among them. They saw a toy, a curiosity. Prey.
They would simply wait for an opportunity. Horrorterrors are very good at waiting.
She flew side by side with the Droll. They allowed themselves five-minute breaks, but only in reverse flows. The horrors had taught her a hastening spell to keep her awake for the journey; if she slept, or put away the Thorns, there was a risk she'd lose her personal atmosphere. It was grating, like a constant buzzing in the back of her mind. While it kept her awake, it did little to help her exhaustion.
She resisted the urge to ride her little dog-like friend. That would just be silly.
"How much longer is it? I can't read the map."
"It should be another three days from here."
"You... did you bring anything to eat?"
Rose retrieved John's gushers from her sylladex.
"More candy? Even before we left, all I had in a day or two was a bit of candy."
"They have healing properties. It won't satisfy you; your stomach might still hurt. But you'll survive."
She dispensed a couple for him.
"If it's any consolation, I'm in much the same shape."
"Two more days."
"In case you were curious."
Days of limitless darkness and horror whispers would be sobering to anyone. The talkative Droll had grown markedly silent as of late.
"I'll need your help, up ahead, Clubs."
"Oh! How can I help?"
"The next leg of the journey runs at over one hundred times the relative rate of our session's timeline. It would be a tight race at my top speed, the toughest segment if I was alone; but if you can give us a boost, we can relax a bit."
"You got it."
They arrived at their 'turn'. Rose's clock was already spinning up.
She came around and took hold of the Droll's stubby right hand.
He unfolded a colossal set of green wings.
The term "PCHOOOOO" came to mind.
From their perspective, they would have had about six minutes to get through to the extremely slow flow beyond. Going straight, the Droll would get her through in under sixty seconds. The map showed this pocket as significantly faster temporally than all surrounding space. There was no risk of a faster sub-pocket or perpendicular flow, so speeding through should have been safe.
"We're almost through."
"Yeah... I'm seeing a bunch of dark threads here and there. Didn't expect them out in the middle of nothing. Are they woven into the spacey stuff, or-"
He was out of the fast timeflow. His hand was empty; Rose was gone.
*BWOOONG.* Still nothing!
*BWOOONG!!* *BWOOONG!!* *BWOOONG!!*
The Droll floated in the slow timeslip, warping section after section of their previous path into an area next to him. No luck. They'd covered a lot of ground in that short minute; despite all the extra time being in the slow section gave him, he couldn't seem to find her.
*BWOOONG.* Come on! He'd have to broaden his reach, take larger stretches of space. *BWOOONG.* *BWOOONG.*
"Whoa. That… that's certainly a thing, isn't it?"
A thrashing monstrosity assumed the space in front of him, larger than Derse's moon. Perforated leather beaks growled menacingly, revealing scaled teeth and leather tongues, amidst a background of grating screeches like a regisword dragged across solid metal, an unworldly darkness radiating like the stench of-
She was twisting back and forth desperately amidst a sea of tentacles, eyes wide. He spotted her.
A single controlled warp brought her away. Another retrieved the Thorns, which the thing had loosened from her grasp.
A healthy green blast finished the job.
She swallowed a fistful of disgusting blue gushers. They got to work on her myriad bruises and gashes, her wrung wrist and ankle. It didn't help with the shaking, though.
"What the fuck!"
She held her arms, still shivering. That... thing had treated her mind and body like a rag doll. A cat with a fresh mouse. She wished it hadn't gotten such a quick death.
Skaia. Her mother. Them. She was the multiverse's favorite plaything! Buy now! She's flying off all of the shelves.
"Take me back."
"You heard me. I can't fucking do this. Do the goddamned warping thing."
"But you'll make it! I know you ca-"
"The threads! You just have to-"
"Fuck the threads! Don't I have a choice in the matter?"
"Uh... no. You don't."
She looked up at the Dersian, expecting to see a sword pointed at her throat. Instead, she saw pity.
It felt worse.
"There are threads through you and the Tumor thing, remember? They lead in one direction, and it's not backwards. Yet."
"You can't know that."
"I can't read the map, Rose. I can't take the bomb anywhere useful. You're still tied to it."
"Are you sure?"
"Prove it to me, or I'm not budging until you send me home."
He came closer.
"First take out the bomb card thingy. Just hold it."
She retrieved the captchalogue card for their quasi-organic super-nuke.
"It feels 'in place', or something. It's supposed to be where it is, right now. Can you feel it?"
"Compare it to my ring for a second."
He took off the ring. Rose expanded her little atmosphere to cover him properly.
She held the ring and the card, one in each hand beside her wands.
"Which feels more meaningful? More important?"
She closed her eyes.
"Take a step back. Like, in your head. Do you feel it?"
"I... maybe. Just a little. The card feels more significant than the ring."
"Good! Now, focus on that feeling in the card."
He took the ring back, donned it.
"You'd better keep your eyes closed for this part."
She did, and waited.
"I'm going to pull the thread. It's going to feel stronger, tighter, like it's really straining or something. You'll be able to see where it goes."
Very slowly, it began to feel brighter, more crucial. Desperate, almost. How was he doing this?
...and what was that sharp feeling? The one drawing slowly across her chest?
"Yeah, right here seems to pull it tightest. I'll be careful, but it'll sting a bit."
"What are you-"
It stung. She opened her eyes.
His sword had breached the skin above her heart. Blood glinted off the tip, fizzling away in the green sun's energy.
She struggled. His energy was restraining her, somehow. She couldn't move.
"Careful, careful! If this thing moves an inch, it'll be real bad!"
"What the... hell... are you doing..."
"Pulling it! This thing won't go where it's destined to go without you, remember? Threatening you is the only way to pull it hard, and I need to pull it really hard if you're going to see it."
"J- just... get away..."
"I can take it away whenever you want to, but you told me you wanted to see this. You can slap me around later, too, for all I care. But you can calm down and look at that bomb again, feel the thread, or you can tell me to stop again and I'll stop. You won't really have another chance; it's not like you'll let me do this again."
That fucking Dersite gnome.
She looked at the bomb.
Yeah, now she could see it. It's importance, that big crucial sense it had about it, was strained into a thin line. It would follow the Tumor all the way into the center of the Green Sun, then explode. Center, hm? Guess she'll forgive the Dersian long enough for him to pull that off. At least he's caught in this fucking thread, too.
"I saw it. We're setting off again. Feel free to take that blade out of my body. I hope my blood didn't stain it."
He sheathed the blade in his torso and took off his ring. She didn't bother giving him an atmosphere.
He began to flail around a bit. She watched, popped another healing gusher.
Tears? Come on. Just put on the ring.
Guess he doesn't want to.
She coated him with air again. He heaved a few breaths, then merely panted for a while.
"Thank you. Hand over the ring."
She pocketed it.
"You'll have it back when we get there."
"But what about those screwed-up monster things?"
"You mentioned 'threads' where it laid those twists in spacetime for us. Teach me how to see them, and we'll be fine. You saw our fate yourself, remember? We reach the Green Sun."
Along the way, they recruited friendly horrors to weave spacial destinies for practice. Rose learned to parse the fortunes of objects, horrors, and themselves, even read the direction of threads without nudging or pulling them. Over the next two days, she began to see the silver cord she'd woven, even clearer than the Droll could himself.
Quietly, inadvertently... she became a Seer of Light.
(I'd love to get some feedback before I write the final chapter! Comment here and/or pester, etc.)
Last edited by BlastYoBoots; 01-09-2011 at 03:47 AM.
Reason: Linked to subsequent parts
Hey again guys! So, directly after the Aradia update, I was on a sadfic kick, so here, uh. Have something I wrote in about five minutes. Fading
These were the emotions that suddenly assaulted Aradia, even as the universe was getting ready to destroy her. They hit her hard and fast, and she gasped, metal hand clutching her hand where her heart had been. Feelings so vivid were not what she was expecting in her last few minutes of life.
Having finished her goodbye message to Sollux, she now knew for certain what had prompted her to do it. It was that old love that had ended in violence once, and it was the regret that had been just out of her range of feeling since. She stood.
Sollux had stood up as well, confusion written all over his face. Once again, that strange mix of emotions invaded her, making her heart ache. She was not 0kay with this, and that revelation brought two more emotions: anger and sadness. She was angry at the universe, but it wasn’t how she had felt towards Vriska. This rage was the more aimless sort, born from needing, wanting to hate so many things, and being unable to. And as she embraced her once-matesprirt, the emotions overwhelmed her.
Despair because, once again, she was leaving not only him, but all her friends.
Regret because she didn’t have more time to explain why she had to leave, and wasn’t that ironic, the very thing she could bend to her will, refusing to extend just a bit longer for her.
Anger at Vriska, at Sollux, at herself, at anything that she could think of, because so many things had aided in destroying the life she had had on Alternia, and just as she was adjusting to her new one, it was to be ripped from her grasp again.
And love. It was the very first emotion she could remember losing, and it was the strongest in her now. Love for her long-lost lusus, love for her friends, for Sollux, hell, even love for Equius. She would never be able to tell them how much they meant to her.
Aradia Megido stepped back from Sollux- not Aradia the ghost, not Aradia the sprite, and not Aradia the soulbot. It was Aradia, the maroon-blooded troll girl, who loved archeology and Troll Indiana Jones, who gave the boy she had always loved a small smile before she exploded.
And it was that Aradia that felt, in her last fleeting moments of existence, an emotion never felt before in her short life.
I just am asking why she is selling sausages at a funeral.
Originally Posted by inexpediency
Everyone is a hedgehog...on the inside.
Originally Posted by Tesseract
On a deadness scale of normal to doorknob I would rate her as double doorknob
Originally Posted by Jitka
fuck yeah sodium hexametaphosphate
that is my favorite hexametaphosphate
Malakin:because its actually the truman show just with ponys
crash826:far too much sense
Malakin:think about it
Malakin:it all makes sense
Originally Posted by Catbread
Those sound like some pretty badass park rangers.
Originally Posted by ranasan
Wow... it's like if someone managed to manifest Missingno. from Pokemon Red and Blue into the real world, grind it up into a fine powder and then snort it.
18:21 Girard so I learned something at the barber:
18:22 Daniel ?
18:22 Girard The entirety of England, London in particular, is actually a stage for the biggest production of the musical Oliver ever made.
18:22 Girard England is a giant musical.
18:22 Girard This explains the small children with cockney accents and giant hats who dance in the streets.
18:23 Daniel ...DAMN YOU MARY POPPINS!
18:23 Daniel DAMN YOU TO HELL!
It's a ritual of his he's kept since John was an infant. As always, the untidy mass of black hair springs out from under the blankets, mashing against the pillow, and the rounded face is flushed from sleep. The blankets rise and fall with the regular, deep pace of sound sleep. And as always, his boy wears an expression no thirteen year old child should be able to produce, and definitely not in their sleep. But especially not his child.
And as always, he crosses the room quietly, the leather soles of his shoes whispering against the carpet, and stands over his little boy. Like usual, the boy's expresion eases, just a fraction.
He takes a moment to look at the corner where the walls join nearest them. They are plastered with the movies John spends countless hours watching and enjoying, something that brings a brief smile to the man's lips. He shifts his pipe in his mouth, and the smile fades as he looks at the more disturbing additions to the wall. Childish insults, depictions of bizarre, black creatures berobed in mountebank garb, all in a gaudy scrawl hanging over his son like a sentence.
And, as always, for the first time for many times, he is at a loss to approach it. John never acknowledges them, and he maintains a rigorously sunny disposition. The man rubs at the stubble beginning to form on his chin, and wonders if John even knows about his sleepwalking habits.
Dad looks down automatically. And gently places one large hand on the child's head, fingers resting on the thick black hair, like always.
The clouds that have gathered on John's brow are swept away, like a breeze wiping a horizon clear.
He fetches a sigh, and nestles into his pillow.
Dad bends, and brushes his lips against his child's forehead. The skin is cool, even though his cheeks are red. He makes a note to check John's temperature in the morning.
"Good night, John. I love you."
He is walking back to the door, when he hears, in little more than a sleepy whisper, "I love you, too."
Strider brothers fics (many thanks go to egregiousBass for compiling them):
Musical Interlude- Dave tries to ironically score in the ongoing fight to one-up his brother. By joining the school chorus.
BlastYoBoots - Augh, I love this fic. CD and Rose are the two of the characters I enjoy the most, and seeing them work together is all sorts of fun. I wonder how you're going to create conflict in the final chapter though? The duo's had a relatively easy time of it so far.
Sionnan - Stop it. Stop making me sad. You're an awful person =(
Way late but whoopsiedaisiy; Kassie - More NFaDT? Huzzah! Breaks my heart about Jade, and I can't help but wonder what Aradia's motivation is.
OK I'm just going to post this before I convince myself it's terrible and I should be ashamed for writing it and augh
augh augh augh
This Troll Abomination Called Family, Prologue (1/???)
Your name is PERRUT KORDIS.
Once you might have expressed an interest in ALTERNIAN SECRET HISTORY and even the discovery of such via PSEUDO-ARCHEOLOGICAL ADVENTURES. Your respiteblock was strewn with PUTATIVELY ANCIENT KNICKNACKS OF DUBIOUS PROVENANCE. Lately, however, your taste has shifted to ALTERNIAN BIOLOGY and TROLL EVOLUTION, an unusual focus for a troll of only six solar sweeps. TEXTBOOKS OF VARYING QUALITY now line the walls.
You also used to make a living by partaking in the many and varied forms of HIGH-STAKES ROLEPLAYING, but you haven't really had time for that recently, which bodes poorly for any chance of finishing your STRIFE SPECIBI COLLECTION. You and your LUSUS have been busy making sure you had enough food and supplies on hand – difficult when you live so far from civilization!
You hoped to join the venerable and honorable EDGETERMINATORS and thus practiced with a WICKED COOL SWORD from time to time. This past sweep has seen you practice A LOT MORE, but your hopes are DOWN THE DRAIN. You don't have time to change to the new Trollian chat client, and so are stuck with the more established TrollIM. Your trolltag is acrimoniousTemplar and you are too tired to put up with this quirky bullshit.
* * *
Perrut's day began, with the harsh clangor of his alarm, a half-hour before sunset. “Ugh,” he grunted, then yawned and pulled himself out of his recuperacoon. It was the work of a moment to carefully scrape off the excess sopor-slime gathering on his hair and pronged horns, and dump the collected goo back into the 'coon to be sanitized. Once the recuperacoon began to hum as its self-cleaning function kicked in, he padded to the ablution block.
The ablution trap was gurgling quietly in the corner of the room, slowly heating up the water for the shower. Perrut eyed the hot water handle longingly for a moment, then shook his head mournfully and stripped down. His trap didn't have a very big water heater, and it wasn't very quick to heat up, either – but it did keep the water constantly lukewarm, at least. He could live with that.
A few minutes later, he staggered out of the shower's spray, shivering. Lukewarm was all well and good, but it was third fall, and that meant it was cold out. He toweled off and dressed as quickly as he could, gathering up last night's clothes and dumping them in the hamper. They landed with a sodden squelch and the scent of stale sopor-slime, and Perrut winced. He would have to find time to do the laundry soon. His stomach growled, loud enough to echo in the ablution block, and he grinned. Chores could wait until after breakfast.
Iritus was waiting in the kitchen. The lupent eyed Perrut, then sat up a little straighter and yawned. He was presented with his lusus' maw of massive, gleaming ivory fangs, before the lupent's muzzle shut again. Iritus smoothly rose to his feet, stretching (incidentally exposing the long, curved talons tipping his paws) and pushing past Perrut – and then turning back around and shoving the troll into the kitchen with one mighty headbutt.
“Augh – fuck you! I was going to make breakfast anyway!”
Iritus made a cheerful chuffing sound and rattled the hollow quills on his head and shoulders. Perrut glared at his lusus for a moment longer, then gave it up as a bad job and started pulling out the makings of that evening's breakfast. A few minutes later, a pot of seed-mash was simmering, slices of smoked swinebeast hissed and browned, and the last batch of fried cluckbeast eggs was almost done. Just in time, too – Iritus lifted his head up from his paws, and then hastily scrambled out of the way as a pair of trolls came racing down the stairs and into the kitchen.
“Hah! I win – oh, evenin', boss!”
Perrut turned off the burners on the stove and added a double handful of red starberries to the seed-mash. “You two are up early, on your own and everything,” he said to the two other trolls, as he started distributing food. He ladled dollops of seed-mash into three bowls and grinned lopsidedly at the others. “Anybody'd think you were excited about something today – but I can't think of anything important, though. Can you, Iritus?”
Iritus whurfled and rattled his quills confusedly, then thumped his scaly tail on the floor twice when Perrut tossed him a whole side of smoked swinebeast. He'd have to mop later, but his lusus' patience had limits.
One of the two trolls sputtered at their teasing. “B-boss!”
Perrut grinned at her indignant tone. “Yes, Varana? And don't talk with your mouth full,” he added, as she opened her mouth to start scolding. He could have gone all day without seeing that disgusting mouthful of glop.
Pouting, Varana chewed ostentatiously and swallowed. “You's knowin' 'zactly what day it is, boss!” Next to her, Trivam nodded emphatically.
“We finally get to go to the schoolhive!” he added, bouncing excitedly in his chair. Perrut couldn't help but grin again at his excitement. He reached across the table and tousled the boy's hair, avoiding the grinning more broadly at Trivam's flailing and pouting.
“You do – once you finish your breakfasts and get cleaned up.”
Saying that turned out to be a mistake on Perrut's part. Five minutes later, Varana and Trivam rushed back upstairs, racing for the ablution block, and Iritus hesitantly poked his head out from around the corner, watching a grumbling Perrut wipe up the food-splattered mess that was the kitchen. Irritation was writ plainly on the troll's face, so the lusus ducked back around the corner, then returned a moment later to deposit the cracked bones of the swinebeast side on the middle of the table.
He turned tail and fled when Perrut's face flushed blue with rage, and was already on another floor when the shouting started.
Perrut took a deep breath, and then another when the first didn't help banish the haze of blue clouding his vision. He hated his temper, sometimes – he had an unnaturally short fuse, even for a troll. His lusus was just testing his control, but he wished Iritus could be a little less blatant about it. Or at least less messy. He might have passed the test (he didn't smash anything, after all – this was progress!) but it still left him with more to clean up. Perrut pushed his roiling anger down deep, where he could ignore it until it fizzled out, then got back to work.
The kids were quick to get ready, and came stomping down the stairs with Iritus trailing after by the time Perrut put the last of the dishes into the scrubber.
“We's ready t'go, boss!” announced Varana. She and Trivam were bundled up to face the cold of a third fall night, so much so that even slender Trivam looked almost bulky. They'd both patched their coats with their emblems – a bisected circle in maroon for Trivam and a yellow-green, heavily stylized troll skull for Varana. Perrut eyed the symbols for a moment, then shrugged. Most trolls didn't choose an emblem until after they finished their mandatory sweep at the schoolhive, but if they wanted to pick early, who was he to tell them no?
“Right then, time to go,” he said, throwing on his own coat.
“Boss, ya should get an emblem too! Like us!” Varana spun in a circle, revealing the much larger version of her emblem sewn onto the back of her coat.
“Who's to say I don't already have one?” They trotted at Perrut's heels, following him down the hall and out the door. He waited for his lusus to amble out the door before locking it behind them.
“I says it!” Varana seemed offended that Perrut hadn't immediately seen her idea for the genius insight that it was.
Trivam spoke up. “Um, your coat looks like it used to have an emblem, sir.” Perrut looked over his shoulder at the boy, who paled and began to babble. “Ah! Sorry, sir, I didn't mean to - “
“Relax,” interrupted Perrut. “And breathe.” He waited for Trivam to calm down, smiled a little at Varana's concerned patting of the boy's back, and continued. “And good eye, too. I did have an emblem once. I got rid of it a while ago; it was bad luck.”
“Bad luck, sir?”
They walked on in silence, breath steaming in the early night air. Fallen leaves crunched underfoot, and soon the kids made a game of trying to make as much noise as possible, darting around the bare white trees and kicking up great clouds of leaves. Perrut would have yelled at them for attracting attention, but it was a rare beast indeed that would brave a lupent, even for a tasty meal of troll-child, and they both knew it.
And, of course, he and Iritus had taken a few days last week to track down those that might have made a try at it anyway. There wasn't anything bigger than a boar swinebeast for miles around.
They tired of the game after Varana leaped into a drift of brilliant red and gold leaves, only to send a curved branch spinning through the air and bounce it off of Iritus' flank. The lupent's red-eyed glare and low, rumbling growl sent both kids scurrying back to Perrut's side.
Perrut just shook his head. “We're here,” he said, distracting them from their half-worried glances at the irritated lusus.
'Here' was simple grey building, three times the size of his hive, sitting next to a round landing pad. Perrut led them inside, and harsh fluorescent lights flickered on to greet them. The inside was nearly as dingy as the outside – all dingy off-white walls and a floor of some pale blue-ish stone. A small desk sat near one wall, bolted to the floor and dotted with interface-ports.
“Welcome,” he said to his companions, spreading his arms as if he was embracing the very building, “to the transport hub.”
They craned their necks, looking around, and then Trivam said, “It's very boring, sir.”
“Yeah, boss, it should be way less boring!”
Perrut frowned, then shrugged. “Remember, I'm the only one that comes here anymore, and I only come to pick up my food-stipend. It used to be nicer, but the lawnring this place was built to serve...” He trailed off at Varana's stricken look. Trivam pulled her into a hug, and Perrut winced a little to see it.
Oh god, they were going to be eaten alive at the schoolhive.
He cleared his throat and continued. “The hub is still technically active and serving, because my hive is still in the system, but besides us, and Akhila when she visits, nobody comes here but the maintenance droids.” Trivam perked up a little at that – he was always fascinated by droids and other examples of exotic mechanical technology.
Perrut walked around to the other side of the desk, and beckoned the other two to follow him. “Now, watch this, kids,” he said, once they were standing next to him. He struck a pose, his hands held out over the desktop like he was typing at an invisible computer, and summoned his husktop from tesseract-space. It appeared beneath his fingertips, booting up with a barely-audible purr.
Varana clapped excitedly. “Sylladexes are cool, boss! When's we getting 'em?” Perrut grinned at a successful distraction.
“If your grades are good, we'll see.” He actually already had a pair of sylladices in storage (within his own sylladex, and wasn't that a mindfuck and a half?), but he had yet to steel himself to going through their contents. He'd have the opportunity while Varana and Trivam were away now, though, and that meant he was out of excuses. He really wasn't looking forward to that.
He forced himself to focus. He had things that needed to be done. “All right, you two, watch carefully,” he said, and plugged the husktop into the desk. A window immediately popped up on the screen. “Most of the work in programming these transportation flitters are already done for us – all we need to do is input the destination coordinates. For now we'll be using my account, because I know for a fact that you would steal a flitter to take it apart, Trivam, and you'd help for the hell of it, Varana, don't think I didn't catch you making that face.” He turned and glared at them, but they just looked innocently back at him. After a moment, he gave it up as pointless and turned back to the husktop.
“Once we get logged in, we just input the destination coordinates – here – and tick this box to make sure the flitter stays for the return trip – here. You can add other destinations, or have it leave and return again at a later time, but that's more complicated than you need it to be right now. For now, we'll stick with the simple there-and-back trip, right? Right.” He hit the confirmation button and leaned back. There was a brief moment of silence, and then a sudden rattling commotion on the other side of the wall, and he smirked when both kids jumped.
He shut the husktop down, unhooked the connectors, and deposited it back in his sylladex. The other two had already run outside, and he could hear their high, excited babble and his lusus' warning growls. The lupent never did like the flitters. He patted the sylladex-casing at his hip and made his way outside.
The flitter was a low-slung, slate-grey box, with stubby wings and a tinted bubble canopy big enough for a half-dozen trolls. It hovered inches above the ground, dust and leaf-litter dancing and sparking beneath the hover-disks arrayed underneath it. Perrut arrived just in time to haul Trivam out from underneath it by his coat.
“Ack – sir! I was just trying to get a closer look at the - “
“We don't go crawling under the mysterious hovercraft, kid.” Perrut held him at eye level by the back of his coat until the boy nodded, then put him back down. Varana was immediately on him, throwing the boy into a headlock.
“Yeah, I'z tellin' ya not ta do that, boss'd get mad - “ She alternated between eying Perrut to see if he bought it and furiously grinding her knuckles into Trivam's scalp.
“Ack – get off me, darn it!” He twisted in her grasp and she let go with a yelp, only barely avoiding his long, curved horns. She lunged forward again immediately, all thoughts of tricking Perrut abandoned in favor of beating the smaller boy up.
Trivam was ready, dodged her charge, and put her in a headlock of his own. He started noogieing her back in revenge, her short twisting horns not nearly as big a threat, when Iritus had enough and let out a warning roar.
It wasn't a loud roar, as they went, but both trolls leaped apart immediately. “Thanks for that, buddy,” Perrut said, and then looked at them. He was already having second thoughts about the whole schoolhive idea. Hell, he'd call the whole thing off right then and there – except he'd already begged Akhila into hacking the schoolhive's systems, and adding in two more students. If they didn't show, the Ministry of Education might look into their absence (schoolfeeding was expensive, and Ministers looked poorly on money-wasting Administratorturers), and catching the attention of the system so blatantly could not go any way but poorly.
He licked his lips. “I – look. I want you both to look out for each other, all right? Stick together. Most of the other students will be alone, so you're at an advantage if some jumped-up brinesucker decides to start shit - “
“Don't worry, boss! I'll stomp 'em good if'n there's a fight!” Varana stood up straight, hands on her hips, chin stuck out and her small tusks bared in a parody of a threatening expression.
“And when she knocks them down, sir, I'll kick them in the head!” Trivam grinned cheekily.
“Good kids,” Perrut said, and then threw dignity to the winds and pulled them both into a hug. “Listen to the education servitors, too, their warden-drones won't take shit and if you come back beaten by one of them I won't be sympathetic at all. Remember to drink lots of water before you take your learning lozenge, otherwise you might throw it up - “
“Don't worry, sir, we'll be fine!” They both had wriggled free, looking embarrassed, Varana especially. Fearsome Berserkillers didn't tolerate hugs, apparently.
Perrut flushed, sharing the shame, and opened the flitter's hatch. “Get going, both of you. Haul that lever, and it'll take off – do it again to come back, and if one of you leaves the other behind tonight I swear I will feed you both to Iritus.”
They laughed, and clambered inside. The hatch shut after them, and he stepped back as the low hum of the hover-disks grew suddenly louder. They were both pressed up against the canopy, waving madly. Perrut waved back even as the flitter rose higher, then rotated and took off towards the south.
Iritus made a low, worried groaning sound, and Perrut patted the lupent's head. “Me too, big guy. Me too. Let's get back, though. I've got work to do.”
The trip back to his hive was far quieter than he would have liked. Iritus paced by his side, his stiff tail and twitching quills signs of discomfort. Every so often, he would issue another low moan, and the quills would rattle and flush blue-purple for a second.
As soon as Perrut had the door unlocked, the lupent pushed past and headed past the kitchen and down the hall. A moment later, he could hear his lusus scratching and shuffling – digging another tunnel. The foundations of his hive were riddled with the things, relics of a fretting lusus. A lupent in the wild would dig false burrows when a member of the pack was wounded or sick, to throw off other predators.
He just shook his head and headed up to his bedroom. Iritus would dig until he calmed down, or exhausted himself and calmed down that way. In the meantime, Perrut had some work to do.
He cleared off his desk by the simple expedient of shoving the pile of biology books onto the floor, then took a deep breath and drew out two more sylladices. His own sylladex grew uncomfortably warm, but he ignored it and stared at the two cases in his hands. Both were scuffed and battered, the damage as fresh as when he had put them into storage, more than a sweep ago.
“Goddamnit, Kordis, stop being such a nooksniffer and get to work,” he told himself. He flipped both cases over and held down the recessed reset-tabs. A second passed, then both sylladices disgorged their contents with a muted pop. The sylladices' former owners were captchalogue-happy, and so his desk was suddeny flooded with junk – swords and knives and spears, FLARP manuals, old issues of Gamegrub, and all sorts of other shit. A photograph was buried under a FLARP campaign participation badge, and Perrut knew even before he picked it up that he was going to regret looking at it.
There he was, in a Robed Dervisheikh outfit, the proud leader of a brand new FLARP team. There was Akhila and her goddamn battle-puppet, a Petticoat Seagrift with a truly ridiculous hat. Barzik in his slip-shod Ironmonger Woodsman outfit, with the ax he was so proud of. Ruilzi and her spear and her big goofy grin, the worst Hyperborean Spearwoman any of them had ever heard of...
He crumpled the picture in one hand, snarling a curse, and hurled his chair across the room. It bounced off the wall and landed, upside down, next to his recuperacoon. He trembled, hands twitching, then sank against his desk with a sigh. Keeping a tight reign on his temper was hard. It was hard, and nobody understood.
Perrut carefully smoothed the photo out and looked down at his old friends. Barzik would have understood, he thought. “Goddamn, you guys,” he said aloud. “How the fuck did I end up here?”
While I don't particularly intend to make more than passing shout-outs to canon characters, I feel this still fits here - it's basically fanfiction of Alternia, to me.
It's also terrible auuuuugh why am i even posting this
What happens when a girl with a crush gets crushed? The following happens.
What happens when Kawa has a story in mind and the "Aradia blows up" event occurs? Make like the Borg and adapt.
Here it goes now, the circular motion rub-it!
Population: 13½ -- Nevada Cubs
-- apocalypseArisen [AA] began haunting arsenicCatnip [AC] --
AA: hell0 nepeta
AC: :oo < aradia?
AC: :33 < i thought you died!
AC: :(( < again
AA: thats right
AA: i did
AA: i guess it has s0mething t0 d0 with the snapback
AC: :33 < where've you been!?
AC: :(( < we all missed you.
AA: really n0w 0_0
AA: even s0me0ne like cg
AC: :\\ < well okay, i suppose not -him- in purrticular.
AC: :33 < but most of us did!
AA: ive been
AC: :33 < *ac wonders where her old client player is hiding*
AA: right behind y0u
AC: :33 < *ac turns around anasAG24!A#R
"FLOATING PDA WHAT WHAT WHAT?!"
To Nepeta, the surprise of seeing a slightly outdated PDA with a cracked screen float in mid-air didn't last as long as she would've initially expected. After all, she had already witnessed far more impressive acts of invisibility when she was Aradia's server player all those years ago.
The moment Nepeta had accepted the fact that her client player was dead and well, she attempted a pouncegreet into Aradia's general direction.
Naturally, she ended up face-down on the floor.
AA: h0ws life
Nepeta started to write a reply, but realized that the only reason Aradia was using her PDA was because she couldn't be heard. It reminded Nepeta of the conversations with the voices in their heads.
"It's pretty good actually", Nepeta finally answered. "There's a whole lot of funny beasts here in the desert and it's a real challenge to hunt them down."
AA: s0unds like s0mething that w0uld keep y0u busy just fine
"Oh it is, trust me. I hardly even get the time to think about this baby thing Karkitty and Terezi have going on! But hey, how's death? Or is that re-death?"
AA: im 0kay with it
AA: its really n0t that different fr0m back then
AA: the 0nly thing that b0thers me
AA: even if its 0nly a little
AA: is h0w y0u all grew up
AA: and i still l00k six sweeps 0ld
"Couldn't you just... possess another, more 'adult' soulbot?"
AA: if had 0ne
AA: and besides
AA: it 0nly b0thers me a little
AA: im 0kay with this
AA: thanks f0r y0ur c0ncern
AA: whats this ab0ut a baby thing y0u menti0ned
"Oh that? Well, the way I understood it, there were only twelve of us left -- and that's including you -- so miss Rose got worried and told Karkitty and Terezi to do something about it."
AA: there was that thing ab0ut the matri0rb that ga br0ught al0ng
"Yeah, didn't work out."
AA: i w0nder what cg and gc did then
"They made a grub without a bucket!"
"Her name is Shula and she's quite pawssibly the cutest g-what?"
The PDA fell to the ground with a soft bounce, then slowly rose back to its original height.
AA: i seri0usly d0nt kn0w what t0 think 0f that
AA: n0 bucket
"Yeah. From what I heard, they did it in a more Earth Human way. Miss Jade thought we were alike enough or something."
AA: i see
AA: hey nepeta
AA: are y0u 0kay with it
AA: i mean
AA: werent y0u flushed f0r cg y0urself
The PDA hovered near Nepeta's reproduced and updated shipping wall and tapped a corner against the "CG ♥ AC (oh yesss)" panel.
"Yeah, but it's okay. I still got my bestest meowrail."
AA: actually i d0nt think that w0uld be a g00d idea
AA: but i kn0w better than t0 try and talk y0u 0ut 0f s0mething
AA: y0ull find 0ut ab0ut the pr0blem s00n en0ugh
AA: and the easy s0luti0n
"Problem? What problem?"
There was no answer. Instead, the PDA disappeared in a quick red flash.
~~~ A week or so later ~~~
"Aradia? I know you're around here somewhere!"
Nepeta had her right arm in a crude but functional sling as she looked around the remains of the old central room, the place where Aradia's soulbot had exploded. Though most of the equipment (and several pieces of wall) had been stripped away, the hole in the ground was still there.
"Aradiaaa? I found out about the problem and now I can't use my arm! I need a hint for the solution!"
She had talked to Equius about procreation. One explanation and a linen closet later, he had argued against the idea. For one, they were moirails. Moirails were not meant to procreate together but merely support eachother. For two, he was STRONG. Nepeta then made the mistake to basically order him to take her, accidentally playing his little submission fetish against herself. Before anything productive could happen, he had broken her arm and got launched off the bed by two well-toned legs to the stomach.
It wasn't until after her little flashback that Nepeta saw the little post-it note on the broken remains of Aradia's terminal.
ac <3 cg
ask gc if 0kay
The art of one-handed typing had two main uses. One concerned Internet porn, the other PDAs. Nepeta whipped out hers and scanned the list of online users.
-- arsenicCatnip [AC] began trolling gallowsCalibrator [GC] --
AC: :33 < *ac carefully walks up to her dragony friend's cave*
GC: OH H3Y!
GC: YOU C4UGHT M3 4T 4 B4D T1M3 N3P3TA.
AC: :33 < mrr?
GC: 1 W4S JUST 4BOUT TO M4K3 LUNCH FOR SHUL4, TH3N GO STUDY 34RTH HUM4N L4W.
AC: :33 < oh okay, my bad
AC: :33 < but terezi?
GC: WH4T >8?
AC: :33 < can i borrow karkitty?
GC: 3H, WH4T WOULD YOU W4NT TO "BORROW" H1M FOR?
AC: :33 < *ac looks a little uncomfortable but she's a strong kitty!*
AC: X33 < i want to help save the species!
AC: :(( < but stupid no good equius broke my arm
AC: :(( < *ac licks her wounded paw*
GC: 4H. 1SNT TH4T CUT3? >8D
GC: S1LLY K1TTY, 3QU1US 1S FOR HORS3S!
AC: :oo < for what?
GC: H00FB34STS, WH4T3V3R.
GC: YOU R34LLY OUGHT4 4SK K4RKL3S H1MS3LF THOUGH...
GC: 1 M34N, TH1S 1S S3R1OUS BUS1N3SS.
GC: BUT 4S FOR M3...
GC: 1 SUPPOS3 1 C4N 4LLOW 4 SM4LL 4MOUNT OF 1NF1D3L1TY
GC: 1F ONLY B3C4US3 TH3R3'S NOT 3NOUGH TROLLS TO GO 4ROUND
GC: 4S LONG 4S 1T DO3SN'T B3COM3 4 HOBBY >XD
AC: X33 < yaaay!
AC: X33 < *ac jumps around happily*
AC: X33 < i'll go ask him right away!
GC: PROT1P: DON'T ROL3PL4Y.
GC: TH4T WOULD ONLY P1SS H1M OFF.
@Kass: Now you've got me curious what prototyping a Chess Person would do to the game. I can't imagine it would cause a problem. Sure, Sburb ends up in the hands of people who have people they want to resurrect but by the time someone gets into the game the odds of dead Dersians and Prospitians being available rises exponentially. In an alternate universe, Sprite!Slick really means it when he said he made this world...
@Wigmund: I still wish I could be reading your fic but we're still waiting on tomorrow or the day after for The Princess Bride! I know what you mean about feeling that people aren't reading. It's an easy first impulse. I haven't had much drive to finish Cold Grublings but I've insisted on doing it because it's personally interesting even if no one has anything to say (hits have picked up on A03 after I changed the summary - shows the value of a good pitch, though!). And no news is at least no bad news, right? I hate losing the drive like that so I know what you mean, but we're both one chapter from completion so it'd be silly to stop now. I'll read it, one way or another! Just... not now. We're watching Heroes Season 3 over here, because the universe loves odd coincidences and having me watching a season that's not worth commenting about while writing this is the peak of Morissetian irony.
Last edited by SkaianRedeemer; 12-30-2010 at 11:15 AM.
Reason: "feeling that" is what I meant to say, whoops.