Tag Archive | character: juniper

Love Meme: Jin and Junie

The meme is here: Give me the names of two characters and I will tell you why character A loves character B.

Here is [personal profile] sauergeek‘s first prompt.

Jin had been just old enough to be annoyed by this whole little-sibling thing when his mother had put Junie in his arms.

He hadn’t instantly fallen in love with her. She was small and fragile and loud. He, at that point, had very little interest in things small and fragile and loud.

It was weeks later, when he found out that he could make very minor illusions and had to show them off to someone, that’s when things changed.

His mother was brewing a tisane and couldn’t be disturbed; his father was reading a large tome in the library and looked like disturbing him would not go well. He could wait for dinner – but Jin did not want to wait for dinner. (Patience was a hard- and late-earned skill for him.)

So he decided to show the new baby the illusion.

And she cooed. She reached out for it with her chubby little hands. She was thrilled. Jin felt amazing. This tiny little thing, this thing that cried all the time and nothing at all seemed to soothe her – she liked his illusions.

That cemented it. From that day on, Junie was Jin’s first audience for every illusion, every spell (that was safe to her, of course; he kept the others to a room behind the garage where no-one else came), every cantrip.

And, eventually, Junie found out Jin’s secrets, too.

Want More?

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The Rescue of Junie, for “Finish It” Bingo and several requests.

Never Try to Steal a Dweomer
Backpack Gremlins (LJ)
Hunting Junie I (LJ)
Hunting Junie II (LJ)
Hunting Junie III (LJ)
Red Covers (LJ)
Bounty (LJ)
Team D (LJ)
Victimization (LJ)

This runs to 3800 words.

There was a man – a human man, a bog-standard boring kidnapping human, normal and plain as they came – picking up an unconscious dweomer child, and Kelkathian and Azdekious were doing nothing at all to stop him.

Indeed, they were riding along, Az tucked inside Junie’s backpack and Kel riding in her front shorts pocket.

There was another human – even more boring and standard than the first, including the fact that this one didn’t even have a shred of common sense – swearing at the first human, but the first one was doing his best to ignore him.

There had been a number of scenarios in Kel and Az’s planbook that ended like this, but none of them had been this positive.

The only problem was, as Kel saw it, that this human might not be a match for the first three teams of creeps that were after Junie, and he was, at the moment, their biggest, best defense for her.

Well, that and he’d been fine with the whole kidnapping idea, up until he found out that the kidnap victim just happened to be from Smokey Knoll. Kel couldn’t argue with the guy’s self-preservation instincts, but one had to question his moral choices.

“Hey! Tall person!” He might not be able to see gremlins. There were definitely humans who seemed to have an issue with their vision, especially when it came to the Small and Smaller Races. But if he could…

The man swallowed and stopped dead. “I am trying to take this child back to her family. I am going to take her back to the bus stop where she was grabbed—”

“Yeah, yeah, you said that already. Down here, human.” Kel waved. “I’m not big but your eyesight can’t be that bad.”

He squinted, sucked in breath, and stumbled. Kel noted that, though he nearly fell down, he never lost his grip on Junie. “Shit. Shit, look, I swear I didn’t know. Donnie, that idiot —”

“How was I supposed to know?” Donnie shouted from somewhere under the roof-lining of the van. “And who are you talking to?”

The human coughed. “Uh. One of the girl’s protectors. Good luck, Donnie.”

“Smart man.” Kel peered up at him. “So. You have a problem.”

“I, uh, I noticed that, yeah. I’m trying to fix that.” He was turning red. Kel always found it fascinating how humans did that.

“Not us. Not even her parents. Or the dragons that are her friends. Or her harpy babysitters. Those are problems. You have a more immediate issue.”

“…are you wearing mirrorshades?”

“Yep. Bodyguard duty.”

The man barely suppressed a snicker. “Right. Sorry. What’s the bigger problem than the dragons?”

“You’re team D. Which means teams A through C — which know what she is — are gunning for you now.”

“…oh.” Kel wasn’t entirely sure about human coloration, but suddenly-pale didn’t seem like a good sign. “Oh. Are, uh. Are these ‘teams’, are they, that is, um. Human?”

“Well.” Kel ticked them off on fingers. “The mirrorshades, we’re pretty sure they’re human. Team A. Team C, that’s a hunter. Could be human, could be a dweomer. Betting on human, though, or he’d have twigged what we were doin’ to him quicker. That leaves team B.” Kel shuddered melodramatically. “We’re not sure about him. But I’d stay away from any sweet old men if I were you.”

The human had regained some of his color. He looked down at Kel and twisted his lips up. “Look. I might be human, but one of the things I know about places like Smokey Knoll is that you avoid anything that looks sweet, or innocent, or innocuous. Like her.” He nodded at the unconscious girl in his arms. “So. I’ve got to get her to the bus stop and I’ve got to keep her away from several other creeps. I’ve got to avoid being eaten by any bodyguards who might not understand why I’m there. And I’ve got to do this all while knowing her parents might still kill me.”

Kel nodded sharply. “That’s about it.”

“Remind me to go into a better line of work if I survive this.”

This guy was starting to grow on Kel. “Good idea.”


Chelsea had been swearing for ten straight minutes. Ryan had been checking their equipment — still dead, of course — their visuals — still blank of anything except two very annoyed harpies — and, lacking anything else, his own pulse — still running high, but that was to be expected with Chelsea swearing up a storm and their target simply gone.

He wasn’t going to ask if she had magic that let her do that. Not yet. It might go on the list eventually — like Chelsea had said, they were into the “red covers” now, which apparently meant off the map and into the “here be dragons” part.

Ryan’s gran had warned him about those parts of the map — in Gran’s place, she’d been being literal. “Don’t go to Seventh Street, that’s where the witches live.” “There’s dragons down in the subways, so always take some rue and some comfrey with you when you take the Metro.” It had turned out that the witches on Seventh weren’t remotely human — elkin, they called themselves, but they were anomalous individuals to the home office and, living down in the numbered streets, hadn’t managed legal representation to challenge the label. The dragons in the sewer were a non-sentient — according to home office, who hadn’t had to cage them — being that was not, technically speaking, a dragon, but you couldn’t fault Gran for the assessment.

After the dragon-things, Ryan had started writing down everything he could remember of his Gran’s cautionary tales.

In code. In a locked notebook. That was locked in a hidden case. The home office —

Well, if Chelsea was talking about the Red Covers, maybe the home office was more understanding about folk tales than he’d thought.

They would not, however, be understanding about missing the target another time. Ryan sighed and checked the visuals one more time.

“Chelsea? Chels. Ma’am. You’ve got to see this.”

Orin was in something a few steps beyond a foul mood. He had been dive-bombed by harpy chicks, stabbed by pixies, and farted on by a centaur foal, and all that in the half an hour he had taken trying to leave the neighborhood nearest Smokey Knoll.

The nonhumans didn’t usually let their children out of the village without an adult escort, but Orin had a feeling what was going on. He’d already been suspecting gremlins when his equipment started failing… and gremlins probably counted as adult supervision when your kid had wings or hooves.

Orin looked at the thing in front of him now. He didn’t like using words like thing; get to thinking about your prey as non-people and you forget they thought like people — more or less. But this… well, it was outside his vocabulary of monsters. And if this was the juvenile, he really had to get out of the area before the adult showed up.

He held up both hands and spoke carefully and clearly. “I’m leaving. I’m just trying to get to West Ave. Leaving Smokey Knoll.”

The thing growled deep in its throat. It was asymmetrical! Living beings just weren’t. Was it wrong? Like, sick or damaged somehow?

It didn’t matter. It was moving towards Orin threateningly. He didn’t dare attack it if it was a juvenile. He didn’t dare let it attack him. Orin repeated himself. “I’m just trying to leave.”

The thing cut off in mid-growl. It turned, facing more or less where Orin had been trying to go, and snorted.

“Well, shit,” Orin muttered, as the thing lumbered off down his escape route.


“Well.” Kel shifted position on Junie’s backpack strap. “I see the mirrorshades and the creepshow, but not the … oooh.” The echoing bellow of an upset juvenile troll cut through the air. “I wonder what got Little Junior upset. Well, he’s harmless to … uh. Me and Az, and Junie. He loves Junie.”

The human coughed. “Junie?” He looked down at the girl and the gremlin he was carrying. “Is this…”

“Yeah. The darling of large parts of Smokey Knoll. Relax, relax,” Kel scolded. “You didn’t know, and Az and I are gonna do our best to keep you alive.”

“Toads are alive,” he muttered. Kel snorted.

“Nobody in Smokey Knoll would turn you into a toad. Well… nobody you’re going to run into in this situation. Hrrm. You see the people in the expensive sedan looking upset?” Kel gestured, because even with binoculars, nobody would see a gremlin gesture at 200 feet.

The human had to be more surreptitious, but he was. “Yep. Those your team A?”

“Yeah. I think they’re working for one of the big paramilitary groups. And Junie might not be powerful now… but she’s still a little-thing and they like to get them little and…”

The human swallowed. “Yeah. I get it. Creepy bastards with back up.”

“On the plus side, they have no functioning tech more impressive than a stick and, if I really wanted to, I could make their sticks stop working.” Kel grinned. “Az and me are good.”

“Remind me not to piss you two off… again.”

“Oh, I don’t think you’ll need any reminding if you get out of this. Of course, we fried the kid’s cell phone, too. That was a mistake.”

“Oh, good to know I’m not the only one who screwed up.” He made a face. “What’s this creepshow?”

“You see that old man there? The bird-watcher with the binoculars and the breadcrumbs?”

“Him? I’ve seen him all over town.”

“Yeah, well, normal kids work too, it’s just the fancy ones like Junie are a delicacy.”

“Are a…” He swallowed. “Right. Anyone notice if I put a bullet through his brain?”

“Probably your authorities. Unless we vanished the body… but we try not to do that too much. Has consequences.”

“I do not want to know how gremlins vanish bodies,” he muttered. “Okay, so I have to get past the sedan and the… shit, I think the sedan saw me.” The two in mirrorshades were getting out of their useless car and heading their way. “This is going to get messy.”

Privately, Kel was inclined to agree with him. “Az!” Gremlins had very good hearing, when they wanted to. “Trouble!”

“What are they going to do, hit him with sticks?” Az’s return hiss was almost a cackle. “They’ve got nothing.”

“They’ve got two big folk to our one big folk, one unconscious child, and us. That’s not good odds, Az. And the creep is still over there.”

As if he’d heard Kel, the creep looked up, binoculars pointed straight at Junie. Kel swore. “We could really use the cavalry.”


A repeating bellow was echoing over Smokey Knoll. Ryan’s field book said it was probably a juvenile troll.

He didn’t know whether to be more worried about that or the man in Very Ordinary Clothes carrying their target — their unconscious — target directly into the probable path of the juvenile troll.

Then again, there was the dark cloud growing over Smokey Knoll. That looked really worrisome, too.

At the moment, however, Ryan’s attention was utterly and completely held by the petite flying person aiming a small spear at his nose. Her — he was assuming her, and let Chelsea ream him out later — voice was a chipper, happy squeak that he could barely hear.

“I’m looking for my friend! She’s… she’s a tallfolk, but short for tallfolk, and she’s got brownlike hair and she went missing about when you showed up.” The thing had pink hair and, more importantly for Ryan right now, the tip of the spear was pink. Glistening, sickly-sweet pink.

Ryan swallowed very carefully. If he breathed heavily, he might be able to blow her away. Then again, if he breathed too heavily, she might jab that pink spear at his nose, and Ryan didn’t know what that would do.

He made a mental note to look up pixie weapons later. If he was a very small creature with a very large temper — which this thing apparently had, even if their species as a whole did not — he would be carrying the deadliest poisons he could get his tiny hands on, or maybe neurotoxins, paralytics, acids… the list went on, none of which he wanted poking into his face.

“If you will look to my left,” he said, very carefully and very slowly, “you might see a tallfolk, ah, a human—” probably “—carrying the young lady that is probably the one you are looking for.”

The pixie flew even closer to him. She was holding the spear with a great deal of professional skill, for all that she could fit in his cupped hands. Ryan held very, very still.

With a whoop that threatened to break glass, she darted away. “Junie! Junie, Junie what are you doing to her?”

The cloud was getting closer. Ryan glanced at Chelsea. “Walk to a safe bus stop, send a tow for the car tomorrow?”

“We can’t just…” She frowned and looked at the cloud. “Yes. Walk fast, Junior. If you want to live to go on another mission.”

Ryan glanced up the hill into Smokey Knoll. He swallowed once, and turned around and started walking — quickly — before he snapped out a “yes, ma’am.”

Chelsea was shorter than him. He made sure she didn’t fall behind.


Kel whooped happily as the mirrorshades ran off. “That’s two down! Now all we have left is… oh.”

“Yeah, oh. That doesn’t look good.” The cloud on the horizon had settled itself into the shape of millions of insects — or very angry pixies — swarming towards the bus stop. “I don’t suppose they’re here to eat the last of your baddies, are they?”

“They’re no more my baddies than they are — uh. Kid’s waking up. Be very careful, mister, and whatever you do, no sudden moves.”

“She’s…” he stopped whatever he was going to say. “Right. Uh. Pink things.”

“Pink… oh.” Flying towards them was a small team of angry pixies. “Same goes for them only twice.” Kel stood up as tall as possible on the backpack strap and waved both arms wildly. “Same team, same team!” For once, the gremlin wished to be larger. “Same team.”

“Same team,” the human echoed. “Easy, easy, I’m on your side. I am..” he swallowed as one of the little pink pixies — taller than a gremlin, sure, but delicate and flighty and ethereal, everything gremlins really weren’t — the little thing hoovered in the air near his nose. “I am taking Junie to her family. Can you contact her family? She is unconscious and she is in danger.”

“He’s on our side,” Kel confirmed. The pixy barely glanced down, but that wasn’t surprising. Its spear pulled back a little bit; it had heard. “Junie’s been drugged, and I don’t know what will happen when she wakes up — which is going to be soon. What happened to the harpy team? Haven’t seen them around.”

“They were on Teams A and B for a bit, but they started getting sick. Medula fell out of the air.” The pixie tittered. Pixies were not known for their empathy. “So they had to head off. Something’s drugged them or something.” It was still looking directly at the human. “The others have been doing what they can, but there’s a lot of funny-headedness going around. Anything bigger than us isn’t happy.”

Kel’s gaze was pulled towards the dark cloud of bugs. “Yeah. That’s some really nasty mojo going on. And Junie…”

“I think she’s waking up.” The human shifted uncomfortably. “Should I set her down?”

At some point, this guy was going to figure out that Kel and Az were using him as legs. “No, no. Not until her eyes are open and she’s making words. Any word on the cavalry?” Where was everyone?”

“Green team couldn’t get any answer. And brown team couldn’t make their selves understood.” The pixie clucked in frustration. “This wouldn’t happen if…”

“Shht, shhht,” Kel hissed. “And if the sky were pink what would the flowers look like? We’ve got what we’ve got and that’s that.”

“Well, what we’ve got is this… guy. This guy-thing doing this.” The pixy gestured backwards angrily at the cloud of bugs coming closer and closer.

“Wait.” The human crouched down carefully. “I’ve got an idea.” He looked up at the pixy. “You should go find an adult person big enough to carry Junie and legally or morally responsible for her. Parent, parent-of-blessings, whatever. Someone that can get her home. And you should go now.”

Kel frowned at the human. Blessings-parent? Most of the experience the gremlins had with humans was in annoying their technology, but didn’t they normally say godparent? Blessings-parents, that was… well, it was a centaur word, as far as Kel knew.

Also, what was he up to?

The pixy was frowning, too — glaring, really. “What are you to tell me what to do?”

“Look, if I do this right, it’s doing to disrupt all magic in a small radius. If there’s any magic in your flight….”

“Right, looking for Junie’s family or the Smiths.” The pixy took off in a flutter of wings.

“”Right. So, I’m going to need you and your partner to distract any humans with tech, and keep Junie calm if you can. This is gonna take — well, hopefully not too long.” From his pockets, the human pulled a few things. Kel recognized a packet of salt, a candle stub, a small bamboo fan. “Don’t suppose there’s water in her bag?”

“Az,” Kel hissed. A moment later, the shorter gremlin emerged, hauling a short bottle of water — short for a human’s hand, at least. Az was wrapped around it like a cozy.

“Thank you.” He scattered the salt in a circle and, much to Kel’s surprise, added pepper. Then he put the water bottle to one side of him and the candle to the other. A flick of a bic lighter and the candle was burning. Three pebbles went directly behind him.

“What are you doing, human?” Kel wanted to jump up and down. “We should be running.”

“I can’t outrun that, not carrying her and maybe not on my own. You and your partner are welcome to try if you want, but leave now.”

Kel frowned. “No. She’s our responsibility.”

“And because of my partner’s idiocy, she’s my responsibility, too. So let me work.”

Kel looked at the cloud. It would be on them soon. “Right.”

The human began muttering things under his breath. Some of it was Latin, Kel thought. Parts sounded like Low Ogre or Simplified Dragon. One part sounded like High Troll.

Kel watched him. The power was crackling off of him, crackling, sparking, rising, and… connecting. Slowly, far too slowly for Kel’s comfort, the lines of power began to touch the salt and fuse to it.

The bug-cloud was close enough that they could hear it, a steady, malevolent buzz. The power weaving into the salt formed a ring and began lifting up, surrounding them. The buzzing grew closer, setting Kel’s jaw on edge.

“Hey!” The policeman seemed to notice them before he noticed the bugs. Or maybe he thought the human was making the bug cloud. “You can’t…”

Belts were hard, but they counted as technology. Kel fried his with a sharp glance and a moment of hard concentration that caught his radio and his cell phone in the blast.

The cloud was resolving into millions of individual bugs. Not bugs, bees, and wasps and hornets. Kel dove into the bag, head out in case the policeman wasn’t deterred.

The human shouted a final word — it had to be Latin, Kel was pretty sure — and the sparkling ring of light closed in a dome over their heads. He sagged a little, just as Junie opened her eyes.

“What… hey!”

Kel was still holding a tight breath. Those bees… they could easily kill a gremlin. That many bees, they could easily kill a small human, maybe a large one. The cloud of bugs was heading straight for them.

“Hey, hey, let me go.” Junie was wriggling violently in the human’s arms now. Kel tensed. She had a habit of getting… explosive… when she got too stressed, and then passing out and forgetting the whole thing. It was a third of why the gremlins had been assigned to watch her; nothing fazed a gremlin.

But right now exploding could hurt Junie badly. Kel couldn’t look away from the bees. There was this thin line of salt between the threat and them. there was… Kel took a breath. “Junie, honey. This human is a friend. He’s taking you back to your parents.”

“Let me go… Kelkathian? Azdekious?” Junie’s voice went quiet. “That’s a lot of bugs.”

The bugs hit the edge of the salt line and broke over the shield, hitting it like a windshield, scattering around it, flying over it. For a moment, their little group was surrounded on all sides by stinging insects… but none came inside the shield.

The human let out a breath. “Hi,” he said ruefully to Junie. “I’m the cavalry.”

Around them, half of the bugs vanished. A third of them fell to the ground, confused or stunned. The rest of them flew off aimlessly. Whatever magic had been guiding or summoning them had been broken.

Kel sniffed the air. The distinctive sulfur smell that always heralded a Junie-attack was slowly dissipating. But… Kel studied Junie. There had been no attack.

A flap of dragon wings and a dragon-trumpet announced that one of the Smiths would soon be here — Cxaidin, from the sound of it. Kel looked up at the… at the would-be kidnapper. “You…” Kel took a breath. “You’re not a human.”

The… the would-be kidnapper… smirked. He looked, Kel thought, justifiably tired. “You’re the only one who said I was.”

“But…” Kel flapped hands at the place they sat, between Smokey Knoll and the human world. Junie peered at her, looking mostly perplexed and a little lost.

The not-a-human shrugged, still smiling. “Some of us find places like Smokey Knoll, I guess. Some of us aren’t so lucky.” Deliberately, he leaned to one side and broke the salt circle. “The dragon’s your friend, right?”

Kel felt as stunned as the bees on the ground still looked. “Uh… yeah. Cxaidin Smith. Junie’s god-father.”

“Safe travels, gremlins. Junie.” He helped the girl to her feet with a gentle thump. “Thanks for giving me a chance.”

Cxaidin landed with a dragon-snort, eating all of Kel’s attention for a moment. By the time the gremlin turned around, the not-human was gone.

Buy the
some tea

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1110486.html. You can comment here or there. comment count unavailable

International Women’s Day: Junie

This is an answer to [personal profile] kelkyag‘s question asked here for International Women’s Day: “What does Junie want to do when she grows up? (At any value of ‘now’ you feel like writing about.)”

Junie as a child is very torn about what she wants to be when she grows up. She sometimes wants to be a ballerina, sometimes an ambassador to one of the far-flung nonhuman settlements. Sometimes she wants to do her mother’s job, and act as a cultural translator; sometimes she wants to be a wizard like her father (and like her brother). For a week, she wanted to be a dragon, until she realized that was not biologically possible. As of “now,” being the kidnapping-Junie storyline, she wants to be a lawyer and an FBI agent.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/906718.html. You can comment here or there.

Victimization, a story of Dragons Next Door for the Giraffe Bingo Call

To [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt to my orig-fic card. This fills the “Cunning Plan” slot.

Juniper, Kelkathian, and Azdekious are part of my Dragons Next Door setting; its landing page is here.

This story is directly after Team D.

“What’s the big deal? She’s a rich kid.”

Kelkathian stood on kel’s toes and shot Azdekious a glance. The driver still wasn’t getting it. This could be a problem. They had an unconscious kid they’d contracted to protect, an immensely important unconscious kid, a panicking backup guy, and a dumb driver.

The situation could be a lot worse, of course; any of them in the front could know what they were doing.

“The big deal.” The backup guy coughed. “The big deal? The big deal?

“Stop saying that!”

“The big deal is that this is a kid from Smokey Knoll!”

“It’s a human kid from Smokey Knoll. Only rich humans live up on that hill.”

Kelkathian counted silently. One, two, three.

Four, five, six, seven. Wow, the passenger really was angry – or stunned. Possibly both.

“There are no humans living on Smokey Knoll.”

And now there was another silent count. Looking at Azdekious, he was doing the same thing. One, two, three…

“Say that again?” The driver’s voice had changed.

“There are no humans living on Smokey Knoll.” So had the passenger’s voice. They were both using very careful, measured tones.

And now, now it was time to make sure the driver understood. Kelkathian reached out with kel’s othersense, grabbed the electricity, and shorted out several fuses. The car went dead.

“There aren’t… but… the heck?” The driver turned the key a few times. Nothing happened, of course… and then the glue holding the cloth to the roof failed over the driver’s side.

The seat brackets failed. Something in the radio began to pop and hiss. A spring in the seat popped out and jabbed the driver in the posterior. Kelkathian had to stifle a giggle.

The passenger got out of the van. Fleeing? No, the back door opened.

The passenger, a slim man in his late twenties, was holding both of his hands in the air. “I am going to take the girl out of the van. I am going to carry her to this bus stop. I am going to call her parents and wait there, protecting her, until someone arrives to pick her up who can prove parentage.”

“The heck are you doing?” The driver was trying to extricate himself from his seat, but not having much luck.

The man appeared to be looking at Junie, who was still laying motionless. “I do not wish to be the victim of this child’s allies’ rage. I am going to do everything I can to get her back to her parents before I am.”

Kelkathian studied the man. She didn’t generally have much use for humans, but this one was showing promise.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/632365.html. You can comment here or there.

Team D, a story of Dragons Next Door for the Giraffe Bingo Card Call

To [personal profile] kelkyag‘s prompt to my orig-fic card. This fills the “Cunning Plan” slot.

Juniper, Kelkathian, and Azdekious are part of my Dragons Next Door setting; its landing page is here.

“What… what the seventeen different sparks?” Kelkathian and Azdekious stared at each other, and then at the van they had suddenly found themselves in. “This isn’t team C.”

“This isn’t Team B.” Kelkathian gave a headshake, and wormed out of the backpack. Juniper was unconscious, looking for all the world as if she was napping at home in her bed. “Can’t be team A.”

“You’re telling me we were guarding against three teams of kidnappers…”

“And a fourth one came out of nowhere. I am indeed telling you that.” Kelkathian dropped carefully to the floor. The back of the van was filled with plumbing supplies, all of it with the appropriate level of wear for an actual plumber, but something about it still felt wrong to Kel.

“Is she waking up back there?” The voice came from the driver’s seat; Kel ducked into Juniper’s jacket while the passenger turned around. “I thought I heard something.”

“Must be dreaming, then, ’cause she’s still out like a light.”

“Hunh. Thought a rich kid would be harder to grab than that.”

Kel peeked over Junie’s pocket and saw the driver’s face – nothing exciting, nothing important, and her othersight told her he was nothing but human. Very human, strong and tough and so normal it was almost painful, but this wasn’t a dweomer or an elf or an elkin or really anything but a normal human kidnapper…

…who thought Juniper was a rich kid.

“You’re sure her parents have money?” The passenger seemed to have the same qualms about this plan that Kelkathian did.

“They live in Smokey Knoll. You tell me a human that could afford a house there who wasn’t filthy rich.”

The car screeched to a halt. “This is a Smokey Knoll kid?” The passenger’s voice was a hiss. That was your cunning plan? To grab a kid from Smokey Knoll?

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/632365.html

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Two Years Ago – Badges

Two years ago, I wrote Questions for the “Spooks, Creeps, Ghosts, and Ghouls” Giraffe Call. This follows that.

I admit, Juniper joining a Girl Scout troop was not my favorite idea when she broached it.

The troop, like her school, was mixed, which both a point for and against it. Juniper needed more experience dealing with “normal human kids,” on the other hand, dealing with normal human kids sometimes meant she came home crying, because they didn’t live in the same world she did.

Sage and I conferred. Then we debated. Then we bargained. Then Juniper went to Girl Scouts.

First, there was that incident with the Rakshasa. The Girl Scout leadership, you see, is entirely human. They’re entirely human and very, very mundane, and they didn’t know what a Rakshasa was.

I had a talk with them – and a much longer talk with the Rakshasa – and the troop got a second leader. I thought everything was settled. Juniper was having fun. She was even making friends, friends with human girls. She even had her first sleepover – which meant I had a nice long conversation with three human mothers and, in the end, one of of them slept over, too. We braided each other’s hair and watched bad movies; it was like being back at the Pumpkin again.

Things were going well, and the Rakshasa hadn’t eaten anyone (my brownies, she said, helped quite a bit). Then Junie came home with her new friends, crayons, and blank badges. After they’d been working for three or four hours, I thought to ask what they were up to.

Junie looked up at me with her best I’m-innocent-really-Mom expression. “We’re making new badges.” Her friend Mirella was drawing something very very tiny with pen in the middle of her badge.

“New badges?”

Courtney held up her paper, on which, in very careful handwriting, was listed a full description of what had to be the badge Mirella was drawing. “They don’t have enough badges. So we’re making more. This is the pixie furnishings badge.”

Well, at least she was spending time with more girls her age…

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Red Covers, (A story of Dragons Next Door) (@rix_Scaedu)

After this story, this story, this story, and this story (LJ), part four of three as part of a fixtion exchange with Rix_Scaedu

Thanks to Kiss of Judas for the names!

“Shit.” They’d been just about ready to grab the kid when all their equipment died. For the third day in a row. “Shit, shit, shit.” Ryan pulled out his earbud and threw it to the ground. “If I didn’t know better, I…”

“Don’t,” Chelsea cut him off. The rookie glared at her.

“Come on, Taylor, we’re hunting a fracking baby singularity! You can’t tell me not to be superstitious at a time like this!”

“Exactly.” She pulled out her own earpiece. “Come on, we’re walking back to base. Look, Moore. We’re hunting a baby singularity. That means that we’re out of the main guide book and into the red cover.”


“Meaning don’t know better. If your gut or your superstition tells you it’s probably a flying tribble, then look for flying tribbles. The target has harpies providing air support, Moore. Harpies. Anything. Is. Possible.”

“Is that the first page in the red-cover guidebook?”

“Rookie, that’s the only page in the red cover.” She grinned at him and got out of the car. “Anything can happen. Your granny was right. Watch out for flying tribbles and talking moose.”

“And wear comfortable shoes,” Ryan added, looking down at his very-practical black boots. “Is there any proof against… whatever keeps happening?”

“Depends on what it is that’s happening. If it’s a conventional EMP, turning everything off or using old-style tech would do it, although we’d stand out like a sore thumb in a steam-powered car. But what were you saying, before I cut you off?”

He shot her a look. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say it was gremlins. My grandfather was a World War fighter pilot,” he added, his hackles visibly rising. “He talked about gremlins all the time.”

“Gremlins.” Chelsea flipped back in her mental creature list. Goblins, greymalkin… gremlins. “You know, that would make sense. I wonder how they got them to work for them?”

“Sheer charisma?” Ryan glared sourly at the ground. “You’ve met the pair. They don’t seem all that charming, but they’ve got all the aberrant races eating out of their hands – in some cases, I’d be willing to bet it’s literal.”

“Well, they’re singularities. You can’t expect a singularity to act by normal human rules.” As nice as it would be, since most singularities looked and acted like humans on the surface.

“Man, she really looks like a kid.” He frowned, suddenly worried. “You’re sure she’s really an anomalous individual?”

This happened to all rookies at least once. Some of them got over it. Others washed out. “Ryan, look. You gotta just put on your green lenses and look at the flows. Don’t look at the kid-shape in front of you. That way lies madness.”

“Right.” The rookie’s shoulders slumped. “It’s just…”

“Yeah, I know, kid. They look so cute. It’s like a baby harpy, though: it looks cute, right up until it’s ripping your intestines out. Stay strong, man.” She patted his shoulder. “You’ll see, once we get this one contained. Then her true colors will come out.”

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Hunting Junie III (A story of Dragons Next Door) (@rix_Scaedu)

After this story, this story, a,d this story, part three of three as part of a fixtion exchange with Rix_Scaedu

Kelkathian and Azdekious regrouped back at Junie’s backpack, and braced themselves for Team B. They were the worst of the three, because they looked so benign, and because they weren’t fueled by money or job loyalty, but by some sort of faith Kel didn’t really understand.

“Okay,” Azdekious whispered. “The Harpies are on their way; we just have to keep Junie away from Team B until the wingies get here.”

“Easier said than done,” Kel hissed. “You know she… damn. There they are.”

Standing at the bus stop, walking an entirely-harmless looking dog that the gremlins had already learned to hate, was a completely-innocuous looking old man who would cheerfully sacrifice Juniper to his twisted altar of fate and never think twice about the fact that she was a little girl with a loving family.

“Ah, it’s my lemon girl,” he smiled. The gremlins didn’t know where he’d come up with the nickname, but Junie answered to it, and didn’t seem inclined to correct him with a true name. “Running late today?”

“There were lots of people swearing in the street,” Junie answered with bright innocence. “I had to take a bit of a detour.”

“Ah, that’s no good. People shouldn’t swear.” He tch’d and shook his head solemnly.

“My father says people should swear only when it’s most appropriate, or when they won’t get caught,” she told him primly. In her backpack, the gremlins readied everything they had in their arsenals and hoped they wouldn’t have to use it.

“Ah, well,” the old man seemed a bit tripped up by that, but managed, “your father seemed like a wise man.”

“A Very Wise Man, my mother says,” Junie told him, dropping the capitals in with a self-satisfied smile. “Unless he’s not listening.”

“Ah, well,” the creep repeated. Kel and Az would have been happy at his discomfort, if they hadn’t been bouncing with worry. “And when he’s not listening?”

“I’m not allowed to say,” Junie giggled. “Oh, look!” Those were the sweetest words the gremlins had ever heard. “There’s my friends! Aetia! Kyark, Skee!”

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Hunting Junie, Part II (A story of Dragons Next Door) (@rix_Scaedu)

After this story and this story, part one of three as part of a fixtion exchange with Rix_Scaedu

Kelkathian watched Azdekious swing over to the other car with bitten-lip worry. Kel knew Az was steady-ready for the job, but these people were unlike anything they’d dealt with in years, decades. They were bound and determined to catch something, anything, a dragon baby or a dweomer child, a harpy egg or a centaur foal.

Kel thought they were government, but it wasn’t a certainty. Mirroshades and black suits could be bought off the rack, after all, whether you were human or gremlin.

Kel put on a tiny pair of mirrorshades, just to illustrate the point, and scanned the area again. Azdekious had Team A well in hand. The Harpies still hadn’t shown up, and neither had Team B, but there was Team C, slinking up the side like they thought nobody was going to notice them being sneaky.

And no muscle in sight, and Kel couldn’t leave Junie’s backpack while Azdekious was out there, doing what have you. It was time to get clever.

Junie had a phone in her backpack, a small pre-paid-plan one for emergencies only. Kel danced on the keys, pulling a little gremlin magic to connect to the hunter’s cell phone and disable caller ID. If luck was holding, he… yep. The jerk jerked like he’d been shocked, and picked up his phone.

“Busy here,” he snarled.

Kel did a few minor tricks to the phone and used a voice simulator they’d dreamed up for pestering telemarketers. “Got some problems…” The phone fuzzed and spat static. “…back right away… real issues… now.”

“Damnit.” The hunter stared at his phone as it disconnected. Kel watched from the back of Junie’s backpack, hoping that would be enough.

Over Kel’s held breath, the hunter packed up his phone, shouldered his backpack, and headed for his car. “Better be good,” he muttered. “Better be really worth it.”

Kelkathian sniggered, but the laughter covered more than a bit of worry. That trick would only work once.

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Backpack Gremlins, a drabble of Dragons Next Door

A much-belated 100 words on the Gremlins mentioned here for [personal profile] kelkyag

Guarding a kid’s backpack was, Azdemkious had to admit, easy work, if a little strange.

Az and Kelkathian had drawn backpack duty this week, trailing Sage’s daughter Junie to school and back, watching her, monkey-wrenching anyone who was stalking her – and there were at least three distinct teams doing so, that Az and Kel had found.

It was, as backpacks went, a nice one. Az had done a stint in WWII in a G.I.’s backpack – now THAT had been a mess. Some sandwich crumbs and a spare long, pointy stick were nothing compared to the places Az’d been.

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