This is written as @inventrix’s commissioned continuation of this drabble posted on the Addergoole Facebook (also the first ~100 words of this piece).
Luke folded his wings against his back and tried not to stare.
When Cynara had come to them, to Regine, saying “I built a school,” he hadn’t know what to expect. Hell, when she’d started building the CITY, he hadn’t know what he’d find.
What he saw was… children, and teens, moving from building to building, smiling, their grey-and-black-and-white uniforms adorned with splashes of color and their interactions adorned with what sounded like playful rivalry.
He’d come anticipating a mess to be dealt with, or a boot camp to be… handled.
He didn’t quite know what to think about this.
Luke had first visited the city back when it was nothing more than four houses and five half-done walls. Cynara’s grandchildren had been worried about her – for the first time in their lifetimes, she hadn’t taken a Kept that year. And she was wandering off…
It wasn’t that fae didn’t get senile, but they didn’t often do so that young. Still, halfbreeds were halfbreeds, and Boom wasn’t exactly known for their stability in the first place. Luka had gone to check up on Cynara, both because her grandchildren had asked, and because a more-unstable-than-usual Boom was something they would need to know about, before it… ah, exploded.
And found Cynara building a city. She was, as far as he could tell, building it mostly with Workings, staring at the ground and willing up vast walls a foot at a time. It had to be exhausting work. It had to be miserably boring. And yet he watched her go on for hours.
She didn’t acknowledge his presence until she stopped for a break, and, even then, she poured two cups of water instead of one, and held out up in his direction.
When he went home, he told Regine & the grandchildren that everything was fine, and meant it.
The second time he’d visited, Regine had just turned Cynara down. This time, he found the walls complete, many of the buildings inside finished, and a bustling population. He also found guards at the gate who were quite clear that he would land and walk in like a normal person, or be shot down.
Since he was pretty certain that they could and would do it, he landed, and, rather than coming in, wrote out a message for Cynara, called Red Doomsday (and what had her Mentor been thinking, with a name like that? Red Doomsday? Might as well have called her Explosion Waiting to Happen.
Of course, they’d all been waiting for that explosion for a very, very long time…)
The message was short, but it said what it needed to: Addergoole will not interfere. I’d like to come visit, if you’ll allow it.
It was her home, after all. He went home and told Regine there was nothing to worry about. He wasn’t sure, this time, if he meant it or not.
When her reply had not come immediately, Luke had begun to doubt his choice. He’d chewed it over with Mike – who had a bias – with Laurel – who had far less of one – and with Mystral – whose bias was at least different.
The consensus, inasmuch as you could get those three to agree on anything, was give it time.
Luke had given it a year. Then the letter had arrived from Cynara: You are welcome to come, but it would make me more comfortable if you would wait one more year.
She was hiding something. There was no reason to send a letter like that unless she was covering up something.
Luke had written back: Then I will see you in a year. He’d told Regine that there was nothing to worry about, lying through his teeth.
Cynara had sent him an engraved invitation, which showed up fifty-one weeks to the day since her last letter had arrived. An actual engraved invitation, the curly font requesting the honor of his presence for a “Demonstration Day” at Doomsday Academy.
Luke had responded on the enclosed RSVP card. He had added a note to the back, in his own words – tempting as it was to borrow Mike for the fancy phrasing – telling Director Cynara that he would be honored to visit. When he passed it over to her very-formal-looking (and very-young-looking) courier, he suppressed all concern and gave the boy a friendly smile and a tip.
And here he was, standing at the entrance to Doomsday Academy, under the arch that probably-coincidentally was too narrow to allow his wings to unfurl, waiting for his tour guard.
“Sa’Hunting Hawk.” Cynara looked – not all that different from forty years ago, as long as you stopped at the superficial. Her face was still young, but her posture and her expression were a lot more sure of herself.
Luke was surprised – although he probably shouldn’t have been – to see that she had her Mask down, the fluffy mink-like tail and ears of her Change visible for all to see. And she was smiling, although Luke knew better than to read anything at all into that.
“Jae’Red Doomsday.” He nodded politely to her. “Your city is quite lovely.”
“You’ve hardly scratched the surface.” She gestured through the stone arch towards her school. “But I do thank you for coming. Would you like to see the rest?”
“Yes, please.” He could already see at least seventeen ways in which the plans Cynara had provided to Regine had been altered. “I’m surprised you’re willing to let me in here.”
“Well, there’s always the chance that you have a photographic memory and, well, being a Mara, I assume you’re a tactical genius.” She turned a bright smile on him. “I chose to decide that you were unlikely to attack the school.”
Luke blinked. He considered the issue, thought about asking a question, discarded it, and then decided that he probably needed to know. “Do you do threat assessment on all your visitors?”
“Don’t you?” She changed the subject before Luke could answer. “All right, this is the campus complex. If it looks like a series of houses in a residential neighborhood, that’s on purpose.”
When he had told Feu Drake where he was going, the enigmatic Law Professor had asked Luke two questions.
Do you remember yourself as a teenager?
He did, of course. The Revolutionary War tended to stick even in immortals’ minds.
Do you remember yourself as a grandfather?
“Over and over again.” Chavva and Icarus had kids now, after all. His granddaughter Griselda’s children had children.
Feu Drake had simply smiled. Looking at the set of Cynara’s ears, Luke suddenly remembered that her grandchildren, too, had children.
Luke cleared his throat. “It doesn’t look too different from the rest of the city here. A couple of the houses are bigger, maybe, but I saw houses that big coming through town.”
“Exactly.” The smile she shot him was the you-bright-student-you type of expression. Luke struggled to keep his wings from flapping.
This was a quiz, then, was it? “Your plans have the school in the tower there. And it does say ‘Doomsday’ on it.”
“It makes a nice big shiny target, doesn’t it?” She was enjoying this, the little minx… mink. “This is the Dining Hall. We’re running about seventy students, so it doesn’t need to be big. Staff lives upstairs, and the gardening club handles the gardens behind it.”
At first glance, the building looked like a church – giving it a reason for the size, Luke supposed. But it was a bright yellow in color, and its tower-like front entrance was not, technically, a steeple.
“And here’s your student guide.” Cynara turned to gesture at a lovely young woman. The girl, nearly an adult, was stunning in a way Luke had seen rarely since his childhood. “This is Nehara cy’Doomsday. Nehara, this is Luca Hunting-Hawk, a former teacher of mine.”
Cy’Drake, Luke suddenly remembered, liked to play gamed. He bowed politely to the girl. “Pleased to meet you, miss.”
Next: Whilst at Doomsday…
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