Archive | September 29, 2016

Buffy: the Invitation (an Addergoole Crossover), Part XIII

Part I: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1096503.html
Part II: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1100922.html
Part III: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1104619.html#cutid1
Part IV: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1108537.html
Part V: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1112216.html
Part VI: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1124762.html
Part VII: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1134781.html
Part VIII: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1139412.html
Part IX: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1146552.html
Part X: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1155478.html
Part XI: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1164418.html
Part XII: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1173922.html

Magnolia was spending a lot of time staring at them as if they were cheating. Buffy gave the girl her best vapid smile and waited to see what came out this time.

“Y’all are just totally ringers, ain’tcha?” she asked slowly. Her accent thickened the more stressed she was. “Ah mean, you study demons, you have a Mentor…”

“So we know a few things.” WIllow had her stubborn face on. “WHat’s wrong with that? This is a school, right? Learning is important.”

“Learning is important,” Magnolia repeated slowly, like the words were foreign to her. Buffy wondered — not for the first time — if she was a demon, too. “Yeah. But you’re ruinin’ all the fun. Ah mean,” she twisted her lips up. “Well, I suppose if you’re used to demons…”

“You know,” Xander cut in, “we get that. I mean, there’s always that fun moment where you get to watch the new person’s mind break.”

“Exactly!” She looked pleased. Buffy waited. That wasn’t Xander’s friendly tone.

“Yeah, like, Buffy came to town, and you know, somehow Will and Jesse and I had never questioned —”

“Jesse?”

“I’m not there yet. So Will and Jesse and me, we knew a lot of people died. Gangs on PCP, wild animal attacks, barbeque fork accidents — our school paper has an obituary section, you know, and we just never questioned it.”

“…What?” The tall girl was lost, and, more than that, she was worried.

“…And then all of a sudden, the monsters have Jesse. And there we are, trying to figure out what’s wrong with the world while our best friend is dead. Tons of fun, right, for Buff? Showing us the real world?”

Buffy almost felt sorry for Magnolia. Almost. “There was certainly that entertaining look of shock and horror on your faces. And then the way you nearly got yourselves killed.”

“Oh, oh, and then there was that thing where…” Willow trailed off.

“Oh, no, Will, she wants fun, that’s a good place to start.” Buffy waved her hands in encouragement. “Please. Tell her how much fun we’ve had, dealing with the real world.”

“…That time your boyfriend lost his soul and tried to kill us all,” Willow continued, in a much smaller voice. “And—”

Xander took over. “And you did the awful, horrible right thing and killed him. I’m sure that was loads of fun. Right, Buffster? So much fun…”

“…I freaked out and pretended that the fun world didn’t exist for a while, yeah.” Buffy managed something that could have pretended to be a smile once, in a pageant or something. “Loads of fun.”

Magnolia held up her hands. “Ah surrender, ah surrender. Ah’ll even owe you a favor for that one… mebbe one each. By all that’s holy and the Lord’s dirty laundry, you three don’ need this school and it might not survive you.”

“But the thing is,” and all of a sudden Willow was in earnest-research-mode, “don’t you see? You know entirely different sets of information than we do. We look at your friend with the bat wings and we don’t know what sort of demon she is. But I’m betting you, you look at her and think — well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? We don’t know what you think.”

“Ah beg your pardon?” At this point, Magnolia looked lost, confused, and a little bit offended. It was Willow’s turn to hold up her hands.

“Not like that! Well, all right, I’m not sure exactly what you were thinking there, but that’s sort of the point. The point is, you look at your friend, and you’re not seeing demon. So the thing is, there’s a lot we can learn from what you do see when you look at her. And if you’re thinking that people are called demons that aren’t — well, there’s a lot of world we haven’t seen yet. Maybe things are different in Sunnydale. I mean, hellmouth, mouth-into-another-dimension…”

“Breathe, Will.” Xander patted her again. “What Willow’s trying to say is that there’s probably something we could learn here, with sexy naked girls with wings, far from the Hellmouth. Buffy?”

“…We can’t leave the Hellmouth.” It was a weak protest, and, besides, she wasn’t really paying attention anymore. Something had caught her attention, the way that normally only vampires and the occasional demon did. “Well, I can’t leave the Hellmouth.”

“You can and have,” Xander pointed out.

“You know that was an awful idea.” Buffy strode down the hall, chasing the feeling.

“What’s she lookin’ for? Hey, Buffy, where’re you goin’, sweetheart?”

next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1182860.html

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1178885.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

October Patreon Theme Poll!

It’s that time again!

Time to decide what my Patreon theme will be for October; time to cast your vote and make it count.

It’s time to look at spooks and creepy people, monsters and fairies, costumes and false faces. It’s time to dig into your urban legend stock and decide exactly how spooky you want your Hallowe’en to be.

My Patreon is here. Every month I post:
1 free short-short story
1 locked short-short story
1 locked long short story

We’re just $3 from getting back to the Serial Story milestone, where poor Nimbus has been stuck in the middle of a deadly plant for months! And a $5 pledge will let you prompt in all the prompt calls….

Vote now, pledge if you can, read either way. 🎃

If you don’t have a DW account, feel free to vote in the comments.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1178790.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

LadiesBingo: Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Written for my [community profile] ladiesbingo card and my Second Finish-It Bingo Card for [community profile] allbingo. Genique is the title character of my Space Accountant setting.

Background: Genique just wanted to go on a nice cruise. She never anticipated being kidnapped by pirates… and when that happened, she never really expected to become their accountant. Now that she is, though, she’s going to do a good job as a matter of course.

Genique had been working all day on a particularly tricky set of paperwork, pausing for a ration bar at noon but not really tasting it. It was well into the evening, but she wasn’t sure, still, about this contracted husband she’d ended up with, the problems were particularly thorny–pirates might be awful at accounting but they were far too good at hiding money–and, besides, she was having fun.

“We don’t actually pay overtime, you know.”

Genique looked up to see First Mate Cleonorayen Clyd standing in the door of the closet Genique was using as an office. “You should,” she answered absently. “Maybe then three-quarters of your crew wouldn’t be embezzling.”

“We don’t have time cards,” came a voice from behind Clyd. From the accent, it had to be Quatermaster Marist Irio. “They’d just embezzle time, then. I mean, if we had paychecks.”

“I don’t quite understand how this place works as a business.” Genique stared at the tablet in front of her. “That is, by all rights, it ought to. I mean, according to most of your books, you haven’t repaired the ship in twenty-five years.”

“Come on, we’re going out for a beer.” Clyd stepped into the small room and took Genique by the arm. “Before your poor husband comes to claim you again.”

“About that…”

“We’re not talking about him, not yet.” The Quartermaster shook her head. “We want to talk about the books, first.”

Genique let herself be led out. “I thought I didn’t get paid for overtime.”

“Oh, but this isn’t work.” Clyd was smiling with too many sharp edges. “This is… well, gossip.”

“Gossip,” Irio agreed. “And some explanations that will probably make you want to pull your hair out.”

“So also we brought you a new cap,” Clyd offered. “And we’re going to buy you some beer.”

“And a pair of shipsocks,” Irio added. “You don’t look like you have any yet, and you really need them.”

Genique looked between the two of them. “How badly am I going to regret this conversation?”

“Wellll,” Irio offered slowly, “Donnye the ship-boarder and engineer owes me a really good haircut…”

“Okay, so you really do want to talk to me,” Genique twisted her lips thoughtfully. “All right, beer and a conversation. And those shipsocks.” Her hand went to her hair. “We’ll hold the haircut in reserve, mmm, because if it’s important for you to tell me, chances are it’s important for me to know, too.”

“I told you she was a smart one,” Clyd commented.

“Who told whom, mmm? She’s a bright bulb, best thing Basi’s done so far.”

“Standing right here,” Genique reminded them.

“Well, why are you doing that?” Clyd mock-scolded with no shame. “The beer’s this way.”

“Ma’am, yes, ma’am.” Genique let herself be steered, listening but not paying too much heed as Clyd and Irio discussed various crewmates.

It wasn’t ‘till the beer was poured, they’d sat down, and Clyd and Irio had both gotten halfway through their mugs that they looked over the edge of those mugs at Genique.

“You’re brilliant at paperwork. You find missing numbers nobody even knew were missing.” Clyd took another swig of her beer. “That’s good. We need that. Problem is…”

“Well, two, maybe three problems. First problem,” Irio picked up, “is that you’re going to find numbers someone did know were missing. It’s some junior officer who’s skimming the till, yeah, we want to know. But, uh…”

Clyd picked up. “If it’s the Captain, you don’t want to know and neither do we.”

Genique considered that. “All right. So there are lies in the numbers. And some of those lies, I need to find. Some of them, it’s okay if I find. Right so far?”

“Right so far. I mean, we do need the ship to run, and we need it to keep running. And, well, you found our first lie right off — the ‘wages’” she explained to Irio. “She figured out first thing that if you work the way we hire on new captives, you’ll never be free.”

“Some people take years to get that one.” Irio smiled. “Well done. But,” and her smile vanished, “that’s the problem. You’ve got your lies and your damned lies. And the damned ones can kill you.”

Genique frowned. “Right, so, I want to be careful what I ‘find’ and where I find it. And then there’s stuff I need to be very sure nobody finds…” she sipped her beer and found herself smiling. “Well, that part’s easy. I mean, once I don’t find it, then it’s damn simple. I’ll just hide the numbers.”

“You can do that?”

Genique smiled broadly. “Of course I can do that. Text summaries, statistical analysis, double booking… I’m an accountant.” She lifted her chin. “And, it appears, a pirate. Of course I can hide a little booty.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1178439.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

The Hellmouth Job, Chapters 17 & 18 (A Leverage/Buffy Fanfic)

Part I
Part Ia
Part II
Part III
Chapters 7 & 8
Chapter 9 & 10
Chapters 11 & 12
Chapters 13 & 14
Cahapter 15 & 16

Sixteen: The Introduction, Part 2

“We’re too old for this place,” Sophie commented at the door. “You know that, don’t you?” She checked her lipstick in her compact.

“Yes, of course. It’s a teenaged hangout. And?”

“And nothing, of course. I just wanted to be sure you knew it.”

“You wanted to be sure I agreed with the we there. We’re not teenagers, Sophie. I’m not sure we ever were.”

They shared a long look, then shook their heads in mutual understanding. “Nah,” they agreed as one, and entered the Bronze.

The place was as advertised: A hangout for the young and, occasionally, for those who just wished they were young. Tara and Sophie were neither, but they were grifters, and in this case, it stood them in good stead. They wandered to the bar, where the bartender did them the favor of carding them.

His eyes travelled over their licenses. “Wouldn’t have believed it,” he offered chivalrously, of the entirely-made-up birthdates on their forged papers. “But you’re legal. Here you go, ladies, one whisky on the rocks and one sex on the beach.”

“You’re so sweet, thank you.” Tara overtipped and sipped her drink, watching the crowd. “So they come here often?”

“If they come out, it’s the only reasonable place to come out. Tara, what aren’t you telling Nate?”

“Nothing I’m going to tell you either, Sophie.”

“But Tara,” Sophie cajoled, “We’ve been friends for years. Why wouldn’t you tell me?”

“Because one, knowing could get you killed. You remember the Diamond of Saleem?”

“Oh, that awful thing? And every thief in the world wanted to steal it, but there was no way to do it without dying awfully? I remember. And I didn’t tell you, because you were having one of those weeks where you had to steal everything nobody else could. Like the Lost Tome Of Ebackanial.”

“I still have that,” Tara admitted. “I couldn’t get anyone to believe that I had the real thing.”

“-Since the real thing can’t be stolen, of course. Buyers can be so stupid sometimes. Tara, what does this have to do with the Diamond of Saleem?”

“The things I’m not telling you, I don’t think you could keep your hands off of them. And they’re dangerous, get-you-killed dangerous, worse-than-killed dangerous. Are those are targets?” She pointed one well-dressed toe across the room.

“Dorky guy matches. Blonde girl matches, and there’s the dark-haired one, pretending not to be interested. Tara,” Sophie’s voice took on a lazy, cajoling tone, “is this about demons?”

“Sophie!” Tara hissed it out in an angry admonition. “What do you think…” She took out her earpiece and dropped it in a small silk bag, then did the same for Sophie’s. “What possessed you?”

“Nobody, today, although there was that one time in Berlin… relax. I’ve known about the demonic since I was a wee girl. And here we are on the Hellmouth.”

“Here we are on the Hellmouth…” Tara agreed slowly. “Sophie, why exactly did you call me in?”

“Call you in?” Sophie aimed an innocent look over her glass. “All I did was tell you where we were going. You filled in the rest.”

“We don’t grift friends.” Tara sat up straighter and frowned.

Sophie chuckled over her glass. “Oh, look at you. I’m sorry, but you’re as funny as Nate when you think you hold all the cards. Tara, I’ve known what you are since he first time we met, but I couldn’t very well say ‘I need an expert in demons, please come help,’ now could I? You’d have shut down and stopped talking to me for months. Like the Diamond of Saleem thing. Now hsst, here comes the boy.”

The boy sauntered over, goofy smile telling the world he knew he was ridiculous and, what’s more, he didn’t care, thank you very much. He put his elbows on the bar next to Tara before turning to both of them. “Ladies.” The waggle of his eyebrow was both corny and charming. “Buy you a, um, a non-alcoholic, legal drink?”

“You’re sweet to ask.” Tara waved her glass languidly. “Are all the boys in this town so sweet?”

So they were going Russian. Sophie shifted her position and got ready for the charm offensive.

Eighteen: The Escape

Xander smiled uncertainly between the two women.

“Uh, sweet? That’s, no, not everyone here, no ma’am, that is, no miss. Lots of people might be nice or kind or even gentlemanly, but sweet, that’s all me, just Xander. That’s what my girlfriend says, oh, well, that’s the thing.” He attempted something like a bow. “My girlfriend. She’s the one over there making dagger-eyes at both of you, which is probably of course because you’re lovely. So, can I buy you a drink and return to my seat before she kills me, ma’am?”

“He is so very sweet,” the blonde one repeated. Her accent was thick. Russian maybe. “We keep him?”

“Mm. Maybe we do. And girlfriend too.” The darker one ran her fingers up Xander’s arm. “Could be fun.”

Vampire? Xander thought, but they were far too warm for that. He was far too warm. Everyone was…

Xander fled.

next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1185157.html

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1178273.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable