Tag Archive | character: tess

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Originally posted February 27, 2015


The fighter pilot with the callsign Spice was new to the team and, although all her credentials assured that she was not, indeed, new to space fighting as a concept or a skill, still the team had to be reassured.

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Fancy Dresses, long lingering kisses, awkward moments with your friends, bullies… Prom!

Anton had figured he didn’t have a chance.

He was new to Hieder Hill High, he wasn’t one of the popular kids – was the new guy ever the popular guy? – his family wasn’t rich or even that well-off, and he didn’t dress like or act like the popular guys.

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I live!  It’s been a hell of a month.  But here I am. 


This story originally posted June 4, 2011.


He came to the school in autumn, once the crops were in. They’d gone back to old habits and old practices in the Academy, as in so much of the world, knowing that the old existed and had survived for so long for a reason.

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Beginning With a Kiss, a story of Planners Post-Apoc for Moonwolf

This is a story for [personal profile] moonwolf, as payment for her compilation of The Planners Character List.

It involves the characters also found here (in order first-last):

Saying Hello
A Kiss Under Duck & Cover

It had begun with a kiss.

Which was, of course, a lie, the sort of lie the poets told, even now, with the world over for so long it was becoming a new world.

It had begun with a look and a smile. It had continued over the course of two years with more looks, and more smiles.

It had begun with an interest that was, if nor strictly forbidden, certainly frowned upon strongly. Tess was older than Thomas, four times his age when he came to the school. She was the Dean and he a novice. She was a grandmother and he a young, strapping man: good breeding stock, when she was past breeding.

It had begun with him shouting, and her scolding. It had begun with him questioning, questioning everything, and her answering, calmly, from the mandates of her people, from the charter of the Library, from the teachings she, too, had once questioned.

It had begun with an argument, with many arguments. The kiss was simply a way-point along the way.

Still, it was quite a kiss. Tess had not had a chaste sixty-two years, and Thomas, it seemed, had been paying attention to more than just books in his studies. The kiss was hot, their hands firm on each other’s shoulders, their breath nearly silent.

The sirens provided cover when their silence was not enough; the thick chairs, built to last centuries, provided a visual screen. Thomas’ fellow students, hiding, too, as the raid protocol demanded, provided the rest by politely looking anywhere else. It was possible that they had known this was coming longer than Tess and Thomas themselves had.

“Well.” When she could breathe, Tess sat back on her heels. “That…”

“Shall we catalogue it?” The boy smirked at her. “List it under ‘Embraces, unexpected and forbidden?'”

“You enjoy teasing me, don’t you?” Tess found she didn’t have any desire to get angry with him.

“I enjoy poking at the system. You are, as Dean, part of the system, of course.” He quirked an eyebrow in her direction.

“Poking, mmm?” Now it was her turn to raise her eyebrows. “Is that what you had in mind?”

“It might have been. Although, truth be told, the kiss was further than I thought I would get.” He tilted his head, peeking out towards the door. “The sirens are still going.”

“Then the guard has not yet turned them off. If they trigger the secondary sirens, then we will have to fight.”

“I know how to fight, at least.” He rolled his shoulders. “And if the sirens go off with no fight, then what, Madame Dean?”

“Then we go back to our classes.” She said that, at least, with all the firmness that her age and experience gave her. “And then-” He had raised his eyebrows, which was amusing. “-then you attend me in my office, when your classes are done for the day.”

“For discipline?” He was clearly teasing her as much as she was him. “Have I, then, been a disobedient student? Naughty?”

“When have you not been, Thomas?” She smirked at the boy. “Attend me in my office. We will go from there.”

“Ma’am.” From his kneeling position under the table, he bowed. “As you wish.”

She wondered, briefly, did he see that movie? Then she remembered, with a stab of something like pain in her chest, that movies, and the casual watching of such around the living room, with microwave popcorn and a polyester blanket – all of that was gone, lost in her memory and the minds of those as old as she was.

“I wish it.” It was easier that remembering exactly how much time separated them.

The sirens silenced, and they did not need, that day, to fight. Tess handed over her classes to an adjunct, and spent the afternoon cataloging damages, taking notes on the prisoners they had captured, and planning notes and pensions for those guards too injured to continue as guards, and letters and fatter pensions for the families of the two who had died in the attack.

She caught sight of Thomas twice. The first time, he was helping, with his medicine class, to attend to the lightly wounded guards. The second time, he was speaking with one of the wild-tribe women who had been captured. He spoke softly, and his hand was near the woman’s dirty one. Tess squelched the feelings like jealousy that rose up in her; this was not an appropriate time for such things. She had families to visit, and condolences to give.

Those condolences were still fresh on her lips and heavy on her heart when Thomas brought himself to her office.

They left her in less than a receptive mood to his cockiness; she turned, ready to be stern and short with him, only to find him looking every bit as solemn.

It shook her foundations. She stepped back, making the move into a gesture inviting him to sit. She had not come this far without learning to cover for her gaffes.

“You wanted to see me, Madame Dean?” He took the seat she offered, every inch the suave gentleman, if you paid no heed to the tightness of his voice or his face.

“I did. She folded her hands on her desk. It gave her an appearance of gravitas, if not the actual feeling of such. “I wished to discuss your future with this institution.”

He bowed from his seat. “I knew there would be a reckoning.”

That had not been the response she’d expected, but, then again, very little Thomas did fit within her expectations. “And yet you did it anyway.”

“And yet I did.”

“Wh… no.” She shook her head. “Now is not the time, as curious as I am.”

“If you’re going to send me away, Madame Dean, there won’t be another time.”

Tess pursed her lips. “Fresh from today’s raid and its consequences, I don’t think either of us are interested in kissing at the moment, Thomas, or in its reasons. Unfortunately for us, we will need to deal with the consequences.”

He raised his eyebrows at her. “And so you will send me away.”

“No.” She leaned forward over the desk and dropped her voice. “And so we will discuss how to best keep you here without sullying either your reputation or mine.”

She had the dry pleasure of seeing him, for once, surprised.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/544892.html. You can comment here or there.

Inside the Walls

For Lilfluff‘s prompt.

Planners ‘Verse, in the after-the-apoc by about 10 years. Planners have a landing page – here (or on LJ)

Commenters: 8

It seemed safe out past the walls, but Tess knew it was an illusion. As the junior elder at the Library, it was her job to take the stories of the refugees they let into the camp between the inner and outer walls, and the far fewer students they let into the inner sanctum. She knew from those tales that even now, ten years into what they were calling The Collapse, things were hard out there, and dangerous, and the bandits were only getting worse; with all of the country to gather in, they still had more refugees coming to their growing-cramped camp than they could handle, and the story was the same from every Family outpost they could reach. The world was a dangerous place, outside of their forts.

Tess wondered, as she took the long stairway down from the wall into the inner courtyard, if the elder Elders would make the decisions they did if they heard the stories she did. She was haunted by those stories, by the expressions on the faces of the refugees, by the injuries they would show – and the ones they would only hint at. She was haunted by the violence she sometimes saw just outside their walls, when those that weren’t allowed inside tried to set up camp, and the marauders were feeling brave.

“We should expand,” she’d told the elder Elders, and “we don’t have the resources,” they’d come back; “we’re already stretched thin with the farmland inside the walls. Maybe when the marauders aren’t such a threat.”

By then, of course, it would be too late for so many hundreds of refugees. By then, the ghosts haunting Tess’s nightmares would have doubled or quadrupled in number.

“Elder Tess,” the guard called, as she reached the bottom of the stairs. “We have more refugees than we have farm work, and the others are asking for something to do.”

Like that, it fell into place. “Do you have a few guards to spare?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Ma’am, from a man probably old enough to be her father. Rank had its privileges. “We are over full strength right now; everyone wants to join the guard.”

The guard got full rations and a better place to sleep, and the test wasn’t as hard as becoming a Scholar. “Take those that want to out about two hundred feet beyond the outer wall, and begin prepping to build another wall. I’ll send an engineer with a plan while you get them gathering rocks and clearing the ground.”

If they didn’t have enough room for more refugees, the answer was clearly to build more room.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/151216.html. You can comment here or there.

A Kiss Under Duck-and-Cover, for clare_dragonfly

[personal profile] clare_dragonfly requested Theresa/Thomas in the kissing meme.

This comes after Hello and Forbidden.

It came, eventually, the moment she’d been waiting for.
The sirens did it, which meant that, in a manner of speaking, she had the wild tribes to thank. As they had all been drilled, they moved into the nearest interior room, and from there under the big, sturdy desks.

Theresa had been teaching a class, the one class she still taught and one, coincidentally, that Thomas was in. She stepped into the nearby library and slid, with a dexterity she was proud of, considering her advanced years, under the widest desk. She’d been hiding under this particular desk for so long, her teenaged initials were carved into a hidden corner.

And then, just as she was getting comfortable, Thomas slipped under there, smiling wickedly at her, like he knew what she’d been thinking. There was no talking, not with the sirens blaring, but that meant they were in relative privacy.

In relative privacy, in the center of the Library, surrounded by her students. This was madness. She reached for him, ostensibly to tug him further under the desk. Safety first.

He reached for her in return, pushing her academic hood back off her shoulders, his fingers brushing against her bare neck, her cheeks. She hadn’t been touched like this in… too long.

“Too long,” she mouthed, under cover of the sirens.

“I know,” he mouthed back, and kissed her.

Next: Beginning With a Kiss

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/108580.html. You can comment here or there.

30days: Beginnings

Day 21 of 30 days of Fiction: 21) Write a scene with a drink(ing) of some sort.”

In The Planners setting, long before Hello but not that long after Ants, Grasshoppers, Magpies.

“Sit down.” Jasmine poured two finger-widths of the thick bluish drink into each of the tiny crystal cups; on the other side of her desk, her three most promising young relatives (a niece, a nephew, and a second cousin, twice removed, none of them old enough to drink, if the rule of law was still holding) sat like their strings had been cut.

“You know what the family has been doing.” It wasn’t a question. If they hadn’t known, they wouldn’t have been called here. Still, three heads nodded silently; the niece, Theresa, frowning while she assented. Interesting.

“You know that we have locations around the continent where we have been stockpiling supplies.” They barely bothered to nod to that one; it was common knowledge. “And that there are elders of the family, senior Planners, at each site.” Of course. This time, it was the nephew, Jonah, who frowned. The family elders, Jasmine included, were often considered hide-bound and too traditional, too slow to respond, by the younger generation. So had it been through human history. “This is why I need the three of you.”

All three faces lit up; she paused to hold their attention and sipped from her cup. Politely, they all did the same; only the cousin, Bauer, didn’t flinch at the thick fruity alcohol.

She took a second sip; so did they, more carefully this time. Impatient: Jonah’s foot was tapping. She set her class down.

“I need you to keep an eye on the elders.”

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/64840.html. You can comment here or there.

30 Days Meme: Forbidden

Day 7 of 30 days of Fiction: “7) Write something dirty (take that how you will)”

This comes after Hello, and before The Cathedral, and I believe the Foundation/Library/Academy setting is The Planners.

Tess had found herself fascinated with Thomas from the moment he walked into her Academy. He was young, far younger than she was, the age she’d been when the world had fallen apart. But there was something in his eyes… if she had believed in reincarnation, she would have thought he had come back with the full knowledge of some ancient sage. He had that feel to him, that tired worldliness. She wondered if he’d ever been young.

She tried not to stalk him. She paid him no more attention than she did any other student, for his first months, his first year at her school. She said nothing untoward to him, nothing that could cause any eyebrows to raise. She shot him no steamy glances, spent no time reading his file other than as her position as Dean demanded.

But he seemed intent on coming to her attention. He questioned policy, loudly, in the atrium, three crimes all in one. He questioned the facts in the old texts, another crime, and, once, was found making margin notes in a book that had been a century old when the Library was built. He argued science with his teachers, and wanted to test the theories in the books. He questioned everything.

And the more he questioned, the more she wanted him. Illicit as it was, forbidden in so many ways, Tess could no stop her desire. She was past child-bearing, his ultimate authority figure here at the school, 4 times his age. He was her student.

And she wanted him.

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/54845.html. You can comment here or there.

30DaysMeme – Hello.

Okay, this setting officially needs a landing page and an icon now. via [personal profile] kc_obrien, via [personal profile] ravenswept, the first of the 30 days of fiction meme. It’s in the same setting as the Library/Academy/Foundation. Which also needs a NAME

1) Write a scene saying “hello”

He came to the school in autumn, once the crops were in. They’d gone back to old habits and old practices in the Academy as in so much else of the world, knowing that the old existed and had survived for so long for a reason.

He was young enough, fifteen, the youngest they accepted students full-time, that this was the only world he remembered. That he had likely never seen a building still standing as large as the Academy, or as many books in one place as the Library. But he didn’t stare like a hick, the way some of them did. He didn’t gape, or gawk. He looked around, calmly, taking it all in. She got the feeling he was looking for escape routes, although he didn’t have the fight-or-flee set to his shoulders, either.

She hadn’t planned on coming down until the rest of the students arrived, probably within the week. She had under-Deans to handle admissions. But something about the way he looked around made her descend the stairs from what she thought of, somewhere in the dark recesses of her mind, as her ivory tower.

“Hello,” she said, trying not to smirk when he finally deigned to notice her. “I’m Dean Theresa.”

His slow smile in return was everything she had been expecting. “Hello. I’m Thomas.”

The 30 in KC’s Journal, and the original post

A Kiss Under Duck & Cover
Beginning With a Kiss

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/49769.html. You can comment here or there.

Daily Prompt: The Cathedral

I’ve had the world’s slowest week of writing. I.e., this is almost all I’ve written, all week, and it’s 686 words. That’s like 1/10 of my normal weekly wordcount.

From [community profile] dailyprompt: “preparing for change,” and “cathedral of data.” It’s misc. post-apoc, based on a Gehenna(*) cult idea I’ve had running in my head for 10 or 20 years.

They had built it, and they had come. The movie misquote was long past archaic by this point, but Tess still found herself thinking it when she stared out over the ramparts and towers of The Library. They had, before the disaster that had ruined their world, designed this place, built it and fortified it and stocked it.

It hadn’t been that they had known the disaster was coming, she assumed (fifteen years old when the world had collapsed, she hadn’t been consulted on the decades of preparation that had led to the library), so much as that they were, by their charter, always planning for change.

So they had built this, The Library, an academy, a town within walls, a cathedral of data. They had built a storage place for all of the knowledge of the world as they knew it, and done everything they could to keep it safe.

Sometimes Tess wondered what the Founders had been planning for. Change, of course. The entire mandate and charter of their foundation was “to prepare for the smoothest transition in times of change.” But that left open a whole realm of things, from a governmental shift of power to a world-ending cataclysm. Had they really expected this?

Expected or not, she could find no fault with their planning. Inside their fortress, they were safe, they were warm in winter and cool in summer, well-fed and well-clothed. Inside the Library, they educated generations of children and young adults, preserving knowledge that would otherwise have been lost, and, through their students, spreading that information across the continent. They had, for their small corner of the world, held off another Dark Age, through their vigilance and preparation.

The job, however, wasn’t over. There was no end point on the foundation’s charter, and the world did not stop changing just because most of the major governments had fallen. And Tess, who had been running the Library and the foundation for longer than she had been alive when the world had ended, who could barely remember what things had been like under a continent-spanning government, found herself second-guessing her predecessors’ plans.

She walked from the high wall down to the main hall of the library, nodding politely at the students as she went. In their comfortable, warm, wooly robes (the sheep and goats, too, lived within the fortress), they looked like a woodcut of medieval monks. And that, Tess believed, was the problem.

It wasn’t that the founders hadn’t planned well; their preparations were impeccable. Tess cringed to think of the billions of dollars, the thousands of man-hours, that had gone into the Library project, resources that the founders had had to burn, that she no longer had. They had built to last, and it had worked.

But what they had built, that was the problem. They had built a temple of knowledge, a chapel with the information of those-who-had-come-before as their god, and students came to worship it, to soak up the knowledge and spread the word of the founders far and wide. It staved off a Dark Age, yes, but what did it leave in its place?

Tess had a feeling, a vague one but supported by research, that there ought to be innovation. People ought to be striving to find new things, create new things, invent new things. People ought to be trying to do what had never been done before, and instead, they were simply retreading old ground. Stagnating. Not falling into barbarism, but not growing, either.

Maybe, she wondered, staring at her robed students, their pens scratching on their paper (both made here, as well as the ink) as they researched the work of long-dead scientists from long-destroyed places, maybe the purpose of a catastrophe was like winter for the trees: a chance to rest, a chance to reset. Maybe by fooling the order of things, the foundation had taken away a necessary step of human evolution.

And maybe they had just slowed it. Change was coming; Tess could feel it in her bones. It was their job to be prepared for it, that was all.

* Okay, “apocalypse.” Onceuponatime, when I played VampireLARP, E.Mc played a character in a Gehenna cult bloodline (Gehenna is the vampires’ end time in World of Darkness), so the phrase always wants to be Gehenna cult in my mind.

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