Archive | March 6, 2012

What You Need

For @inventrix’s commissioned continuation of

Part 7-7.5 of 7.5

Mr. Ting was beginning to creep me out and, what was more, I was worried Mt. Jordan was going to blow any minute now. “We really need an AC unit,” I put in, trying not to stare at the silver whatsits. Or the tin with the tentacle thing on it. “An air conditioner. We have a kid at home, and cats and rats…”

“Already taken care of.” He smiled benevolently at us. “A new unit has been delivered to your doorstep. What is more, in your absence, Ashton and Taylor are installing it – and cleaning the window.”

Jordan stared at him. “You can’t know that.”

“Aaah. That may be. But what also is, is that I do know it. And when you return home, you will see that these things have happened.” He patted Jordan’s shoulder, and somehow came back with all his fingers. “And that is all right. But that is only what your household needed, no? That is not what the two of you, what J.J .and Jordan, and J.J.-and-Jordan, need, is it?”

“There is no J.J.-and-Jordan,” we both said hurriedly. The tiny man only smiled.

“There may not be a romantic relationship. You do not look at each other as if you are having a romance. But you are here together because there is a together, no? You are living in your house of complications because there is a friendship, a something-more?”

We shared a look, and it was Jordan who looked away, but me who spoke.

“There’s an us, like that,” I agreed. “Friends. Just… just friends.”

“Indeed,” he smirked. “‘Just’ friends. It is a good thing to have, ‘just’ friends, like Mrs. Gent and I. And do you believe me, J.J.?”

Did I believe him? That was a very good question. “It seemed ridiculous. It seems unbelievable. Far-fetched, at the very least – Ashton setting up anything?” I smirked at him. “Compared to that, you psychically delivering an AC to our house seems entirely reasonable.”

He bowed, like the stereotype that had been in my mind when I first walked in here. “Then allow Mr. Ting to continue to provide what you need.”

“What will it cost us?” Jordan asked again, a little less sharply.

He shook his head, and patted her shoulder again. “Mr. Ting sometimes needs things too. Actual things, mind you. Radios. Cathelyubra. Paperwork. You will come across something that it will look like the store could use. That’s the cost.”

“That’s it?” That was me, this time. “For the AC?”

“The Air Conditioner – that, your roommates paid for in cash and a third of a chocolate cake. It was a very good cake. No, you will bring things back to the store in payment for what I will give you now.”

That sounded ominous. More ominous was the sound of the building shaking and thudding again. A shelf twisted and turned, and we were on the section labeled “P.”

“You will need these.” He passed us each a rucksack that seemed loaded to the top. “And here is your exit.”

“Thank you?” I had turned to put on my backpack, and when I turned back, the little man was gone and in his place was the exit. “Well.”

“Well.” Jordan looked at me, looked at the door, and walked through. “Let’s go… oh.”

“Oh?” I’d followed her through, on her heels like always; now she stepped aside so I could see.

See the island we were suddenly standing on, see the stream meandering through, the grass purple, the water green. See the string of islands off the shore to the left, at least thirteen of them. See the creature fishing the stream, holding the pole in two of its fourteen feet.

See the door behind us close, just in time to hear it click and watch it vanish.

“…Oh.” I tried to pretend I wasn’t excited, and hoped Jordan would forgive me for this new quest.

~fin~

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Re-Engineered, for the Giraffe Call (@shutsumon)

For [personal profile] becka_sutton‘s prompt, after Engineered

“Hey, Liam, I think I figured something out.”

Cara and Alex tensed. Ever since Jason had defected, the Boss had been miserable. It wasn’t Namae Sauter’s fault, but since she’d gotten Jason’s workstation, she’d also gotten all of his blame.

(Nobody could actually do anything to Jason, short of a tac nuke, and they weren’t entirely sure that would work, either. After his roses had eaten two recovery teams, they’d stopped trying).

Liam limped over to her desk, his cane thudding the deck angrily. “What do you have, Sauter?” he snarled.

“I think I’ve figured out the formula Jason was working on in his spare time. Not the roses – they’re a mess – but the reverse-aging one?”

The Boss softened barely-perceptibly. “I wondered what he’d been doing. So what’s in the formula?”

She swirled a beaker full of a viscous red-purple fluid. “Blood of grape and juice of girl.”

“Blood of… ah, Sauter, have you been working overtime? I think you’re mixing your words.”

“Not exactly.” She opened the curtains to her greenhouse; Cara and Alex saw Liam’s flinch, but he managed to hide it from Namae. Inside, a few rose-like vines writhed, but more than that, there were grapevines.

Grapevines? They seemed to be something like fingers…

“Unknowable formulae,” Cara breathed reverently. “Alex…”

“That’s a dryad. She’s made a dryad…. a grape dryad?”

The girl in the case looked, he thought, sad. Wistful, maybe, reaching for the glass. And tapped.

“Technically, it’s sap,” Namae was saying. “She doesn’t bleed, though her fruit seems to. But the formula works on rats, and I’m ready to start orphan testing.”

“Beakers and tubes,” Liam swore. “I…”

Cara and Alex shared a look. Had their boss found an ethical limit? They hadn’t known it was possible.

“I think it might cure cancer, too,” Namae added, and, with a quiet sigh, The Boss passed out.

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On the Adriatic, a story of Fae Apoc Apoc for the February Giraffe Call (@Rix_Scaedu)

For Rix_Scaedu‘s prompt.

Fae Apoc has a landing page here

“Well.”

January and Hugo stared off the bow of their boat at the sea in front of them. The Adriatic was churning wildly, the waves shaking their little craft. And, in the center of the sea, a hole seemed to be ripping open. When Hugo had called Jan up to the bow, the hole had been a half a meter wide. Now, it was three meters in diameter and growing. Worse, something… something was peeking through.

“I should get the others.” His sister slipped back into the cabin, her tail swishing unhappily. He didn’t blame her. They had been doing so well out here with their little operation, and this… whatever this was, this was going to interfere.

By the time Jan got back with Lyslotta and Abigail, the hole was about five meters wide, had stopped growing, and was causing some difficulty to the… thing… trying to get through, since that looked to be just a tad wider than the hole.

“Is that a dragon?” Abigail whispered.

“I don’t know,” Hugo had to admit. “I mean, it looks like the front end of a Chinese dragon, but I didn’t know Chinese… Dragons… existed.” He tried to make “Dragon” sound different than “dragon,” but from the giggle that came from behind him, he was pretty sure he failed.

“I don’t think it knows we’re here, yet,” Lysa added. “Are we, you know… leaving?”

“Slowly,” he agreed, shifting the sails and beginning to tack away from the monster. “Backing away slowly.”

“Hugo…” Jan was pointing, so he looked; to their starboard, another portal was opening up.

“Well,” he sighed, “there goes the end of our days of wine and roses in the Adriatic.”

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Ciara: Wolf in the Hand

After Wolf in the Circle (LJ).

Ciara was floating, for a moment, dreaming of a pasture full of bulls, angry bulls, stomping their feet and grumbling.

She came to in a rush of disorientation, to find Luke leaning over her, his wings spread wide like a canopy, sheltering her from view. “There you are,” he murmured. “Clever girl. I got you stabilized, but you need to go to the doctor’s.”

She nodded, startled at how much energy that seemed to take. “Amadeus…?”

“He’s standing right here, holding your purse.” Luke looked worried. “Ciara…”

“I know. Tigers and tails.” She nodded. “Muzzle him before I let go of the tail.”

“Good girl. I’m going to pick you up now.” He did so, gently, and she could see, then, the remaining crowd, hovering around looking – disappointed? Surprised? Some, at least, looked happy – and Amadeus, definitely looking murderous.

“Amadeus. There’s a notebook in my purse. Get it out. The items on the first page, that begin with ‘do not harm or attempt to harm Ciara,’ are your standing, long-term, permanent orders. Read them, obey them. The second page, beginning ‘go to your room and pack your belongings,’ are your orders for today. Read them, obey them. You may keep the notebook, but I want my purse back now.”

Looking absolutely poleaxed, he did as she ordered, handing her the purse and reading the notebook with an increasingly unhappy expression.

“The order to not touch anyone or anything is void now,” she added, and then let herself go limp in Luke’s arms. She’d expected him to hurt her. She’d needed him angry enough to lose control, and she’d know that would likely involve some damage. But she hadn’t expected it to hurt quite this much.

“Done?” Luke’s voice was pitched for her ears alone. She nodded, and he carried her across the hall to the Doctor’s office.

As he set her on the exam table, the normally dour PE teacher smiled at her. “You planned the whole thing, didn’t you?”

She shrugged, just a little – even that hurt. “I just like making lists.”

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Pantry

For [personal profile] eseme‘s prompt.

“What do we have left?”

Henry stared at their pantry. The winter was nearly over, true, but not nearly enough, and nobody had expected that the blizzard – if blizzard it really was – would be so heavy, so long, or block any sort of travel so completely. They hadn’t left their house in three weeks. He tried not to think too hard about the neighbors. He hadn’t heard from the Kaperskis in over a week, and the last time he’d seen the Gentalis, they’d been begging yet another cup of rice off of them.

He hadn’t thought of their family as being all that prepared, but it turned out shopping the sales and buying in bulk had more advantages than saving money. They’d eaten well for the first week, decently for the second week, and now…

“We have two bottles of wine, three kinds of rice, and a can of beans. And an onion that’s starting to grow.”

“Oh, good.” Junie smiled at him. “I thought we’d eaten the last of the onions. Okay, I’ve got a bit of lard in the fridge, and the bones from the chicken. I’d say we’re good to go.”

He stared at his wife in a little bit of awe. “You can make a meal out of that?”

“Honey,” she laughed. “I could make a meal out of ramen noodles, a can of tomatoes, and a beer. We have wine. As long as we have wine, we’ll be fine.”

Henry stared at the pantry, trying not to acknowledge what he was thinking. The Gentalis, he knew, were great wine drinkers. They’d shown off their extensive wine cellar more than once…

“We’re fine for today, then,” he smiled at his wife. And maybe the snow would melt soon.

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A New Flower, a story of Fae Apoc Apoc for the February Giraffe Call

For Friendly Anon’s prompt.

Fae Apoc has a landing page here.

This comes after Leaving the City (LJ)
Tros had a feeling she wasn’t the sort of girl you brought roses and
wine for, and besides, there wasn’t any place around here to buy wine,
or roses.

So he settled for helping Nila with everything he could, scouting
ahead, scrounging for food, making sure when he brought down game, he
gutted it out of her daughter’s line of sight.

It was puppy love, he knew. His Mentor had, more than once, accused him of that, scolding him for the attention it took from more serious matters.

But his Mentor was not here, and, it seemed to Tros, Nila was pretty much the most serious matter there was right now. She’d promised to heal him and keep him fed in return for his service; therefore, his service was the most important thing in his life for the ten days he’d pledged her.

Comfortably justified in his obsession, he spent his evening watch carving tokens from deer antler: a bunny for Susan, a small saber for Allan, and, for Nila…

That took more thought, and more time. Not wine and roses, certainly. He was unsure if, despite her two children, the girl had ever been romanced. She didn’t seem to look at him as a man, other than in that “another warrior to guard the camp” sort of way. If it hadn’t been for the kids, he would have guessed lesbian, or, like his former crewmate, just-not-interested.

The kids meant he might have a chance. So her carved her a flower, following the patterns of her ears and her markings, a Nila-flower from the remains of his kill.

Looking at it in the dim moonlight, he had to smile. That, that seemed like the perfect gift for this fucked-up new world of theirs.

Note: The views expressed by the narrator are his and his alone and are not necessarily endorsed by the writer

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