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Character: Watari Yutaka (Yami no Matsuei)
Theme Set: Alpha
Themes: 20 themes, 5 artist's choice
Number of icons in post: 25
Number of icons completed total: 25/100

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If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, even if we don't speak often, please post a comment with a memory of you and me. It can be anything you want--good or bad. When you're finished, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people remember about you.
freosan: (Default)
"Go to sleep," the Master mutters, when the Doctor rolls over for the third time to stare at the one wall he hasn't already memorized.

"It'd be easier if you'd stop talking about it," the Doctor mutters back.

"It would be easier if you'd relax."

"I am relaxed. Very relaxed. You weren't complaining about my state of relaxation earlier."

"That was before you worked yourself up again. Do I have to do something about that?"

The Doctor shivers. "No, I don't think that will be necessary."

"Then shut up and go to sleep."

"I wasn't even talking until you -"

The Master places a hand, gently but firmly, over the Doctor's mouth. "Your mind, my dear Doctor, is going faster than this TARDIS."

The Doctor rolls his eyes, and nods. The hand moves back. "I'm asleep. Look." He closes his eyes. "Completely unconscious. Dead to the world, you might say."

"Don't tempt me."

The Doctor says nothing. The Master waits for a moment, until the Doctor's breathing is deep, and his heartbeats slow and regular. Then, slowly, almost hesitantly, he wraps his arm around the other's body, pulling him in close. He lets his head fall on the pillow, face half-buried in the Doctor's curls, and closes his eyes.

Unseen, the Doctor smiles.
freosan: (Default)
"I'm sorry, you woke me up for /what/?"

Rodney McKay was not amused. He'd been dragged from his bed, he hadn't eaten in six hours and would surely go into hypoglycaemic shock soon, and Sheppard was mocking him.

"I just told you, Rodney, this box showed up a few minutes ago and we want to know what the heck it is."

"It's three in the morning and we're not going to die in the next
fifteen seconds and I'm awake. I'm just pointing out that I could have been preparing for our next unmitigated disaster."

"Look, whatever it was landed in engineering. Just make sure it’s not going to explode and then you can yell at some lab assistants and go back to bed, okay?"

The door wooshed open as they approached, revealing a handful of jumpy Marines who stood aside for them. More importantly, there was Zelenka, slightly ruffled, yelling at a large, blue, apparently wooden box.

Zelenka turned to the pair of them and immediately shoved a laptop in Rodney's face. "Look at this!"

“This says it’s made of wood!”

“I am aware of that!”

Rodney looked at the screen, then at the box. "That's impossible."

"It is sitting right in front of us, Rodney."

"Well - open the door!"

“We have tried that. It will not open."

“We can't have a city full of Marines and no way to open a wooden door."

John looked at said Marines. “Guys?”

Cadman was the first to respond. “Doc said he didn’t want us blowing it up, Sir. No other way to open it we can find.”

“The lock looks standard but it is not possible to even get a key in it,” Zelenka explained. “I did not want to try explosives until we had exhausted all other options.”

Rodney was about argue further, but then the door opened.

The occupant of the box had a head full of blond curls and a superior expression, but Rodney didn't spend a long time looking at his face. No, it was the coat that drew his attention: something like a cross between a bowl of fruit loops and a chameleon's wet dream. He blinked a few times, but the image didn’t go away. Damn it.

"Oh, /Marines/. Never ask them to do anything. Probably try to blow it up," the man in the alarming coat said. The Marines, true to form, had guns drawn on him the second he walked out. He took a look at the barrels and beyond that didn't seem to care much.

“Peri!” he called back into the box. “It's okay, they're military, they'll never be able to hit you!”

“Oh, Doctor, I told you this was a bad idea," said a woman's voice. The woman attached to said voice was dressed almost, but not quite, as eye-searingly as her companion, and was a lot more surprised by the guns. Rodney approved of that. It meant she had sense. On the other hand -

“Who are you and what the heck is that thing?” he blurted out.

The man gave him a look that said that although the questioner was obviously too stupid to understand the answer, the questionee would make an attempt to bring his astronomical intelligence down to the questioner’s level. Rodney had used it himself.

“I’m the Doctor, and this is Peri, and this is my TARDIS. The more apt question would be, I believe, what you are doing on Atlantis.” He straightened his lapels. “I’m sure this place isn’t supposed to still be inhabited by humans.”

“They’re human, Doctor?” Peri asked.

“Of course we’re human! What do we look like, Klingons?” Rodney snapped. The brunette looked at him and opened her mouth, but Sheppard cut that one off at the pass.

“Not helping, Rodney,” he said. He looked at their visitor and raised an eyebrow. “We’re human, and we’re here on a research mission.”

The man looked down his nose at him. “Really.”

“Yeah, that’s about it.”

“What year is this?”

“Don’t even try to tell me you’re a time traveler,” Rodney sputtered. “That’s only possible with the Stargate, which you did not come through, and there is no way that your little box – ”

“If it’s too hard a question for you, don’t answer it,” the Doctor said, turning to Sheppard.

“It’s two thousand eight, last I heard,” Sheppard said.

“That late? No wonder.” The Doctor straightened his hideously mismatched lapels, turning to his companion. “Peri, this will be a chance for you to observe my genius in action. You may want to take note of it.”
freosan: (Default)
Boo I am failing it! I give, it's not going to happen. But here is the rest of what I have. Some of it is mildly tweaked repost. Starts right after the line of asterisks at the bottom of this one. Oh and Sivier is now a girl. Called Silvie. Or Blondie, if you're 'Tatsu and can't remember names to save your life. 

I was more than a little annoyed to be put on prisoner detail, especially since not more than a week after the man had been trying to kill all of us, Boss wanted him working on important machinery. The conversation, however, went something like this: 

'Sin', ya want this guy to work for us, he's good.' 

'He's Spacer. A bomber pilot.' 

'Yeah, 'cause you never fucked anything up.' 

'I never killed hundreds of unarmed civilians.' 

'Ain't his fault how he was raised. Besides, you need the break. Ya work too hard.' 

'I don't have time to take a break.' 

'D'ya really trust someone like that to anyone else'? 

All right, he'd won. 

I took the Spacer out the next morning. It's only three and a half blocks from HQ to the apartment building. It'd been eight days since the last run, which had been far more of a disaster for them than for us; it was late morning; it was cloudy; we were safe. I kept glancing upwards and around anyway. 

'You're gonna get really bored doing that, the next one's not for another month,' the prisoner told me, two blocks down the road. Smirking. I knew better than to respond verbally, but I did flash a glare at him. 

'Yeah, right, you're scary. I know that, man. My humerus knows that. Chill.' He grinned like he expected me to be in on the joke. I wasn't. 

He kept talking. Very good at that. I kept ignoring him until we reached the fire exit that serves as a front door to this bank of buildings, and then all I said was 'Shut up and climb.' He followed orders more insubordinately than I would have thought possible. 

The apartment was in bad shape, but it had a bed, running water and most of the glass in the windows. The Spacer's only comment was 'Hell, it's bigger than my barracks,' so I didn't feel a need to beat appreciation into him. 

He collapsed on the bed and sighed. 'So, you gonna hang around looking ominous all day? I mean I appreciate eye candy as much as the next pansexual teenager, but I'm not into the shooty thing,' he said, making a gesture that, presumably, indicated a gun. 

I may have been leaning on a wall, and I don't think I'd let up on my glare all morning, so perhaps he had a point. Not about the eye candy, though. 'Not all day; I'm supposed to be checking on you every so often. Though I have more important things to do.' 

He gave me an incredulous look. 'So go do 'em. I'm not gonna run off, you know? Boss trusts me.' 

I shook my head. 'No, Boss trusts /me/. Not to let you run off.' 

No matter how pointless it was; I was going to end up having to shoot the man, no matter what Boss said about second chances. I would probably enjoy it. 

'Well /yeah/ that too, but that doesn't mean you have to be right bloody here. You can always go do your stalky thing someplace else.' Despite his claims, he didn't look at all scared. In fact he'd turned around to look at me upside-down on the bed, completely relaxed. 

It would've been easier if he were scared. Or at least made more sense. 

'If you were actually trustworthy, you wouldn't be trying to get rid of me.' 

'Ha! You are a paranoid bastard, aren't you'? 

'And you're Spacer trash; I know which I'd rather be,' I snapped back; he visibly flinched at that, which I'd hardly expected. Very interesting. I revised my estimation of him up a point or two. 

'I'm not Spacer, man. I mean I was about a week ago, but y'all aren't the only ones who got burned by them.' 

'Oh, so they're a 'them' now. I suppose you think that means you're Earthsider.' If he'd made the slightest move towards an affirmative answer, I think I would've added another few broken bones to his tally; but he didn't. Instead, he looked at the ceiling and scowled. 

'Nah. Not yet, anyway.' 

'Wise of you.' 

We were silent for a few minutes; apparently he'd run out of things to ramble on about. I was about to leave and let him get on with things - I didn't really expect him to be able to get anywhere, between the bugs and the noisy fire escape - when he came up with another topic. 

'Y'know I don't think I ever properly intro'd myself - I'm Futatsu. Walker. Call me 'Tatsu, no one can pronounce it right,' he said. He held out a hand, upside down. I stared at him. He thought better of it. 

I'm nowhere near fluent in Japanese, but I know the basics. 'Futatsu. I sincerely hope your parents weren't Japanese.' It's not at all difficult to pronounce, either. 

He laughed. 'Nice catch. Yeah, no, it was my Grandma. She was kinda off in the head,' he mused. 'So yeah. Some people get all the luck with the cool-sounding foreign names.' He gave me a considering look. 

'It's not /foreign/. My mother was Chinese.' /Why/ was I having this conversation? 

'That explains the pretty, then. Does it explain the accent? 'Cause I /like/ the accent.' That was about the point at which my common sense overrode whatever schaudenfreud-loving part of me had kept me talking. I refused to be flirted with by a Spacer. Particularly one I couldn't shoot. 

'This conversation is over. I'll check in in a few hours.' 

'All right, all right, see you later then. I promise not to blow anything up that you don't want me to,' he said. He may very well have continued, but I couldn't hear it once I hit the ladder. Just as well. 

Almost as soon as I got to my room, my comm buzzed. Wonderful. 'SingKueh.' 

''Kueh, man. How'd it go?' It's Silvie. Of course, Boss would've asked her to check on things. 

'He's installed. I take it the mics are working?' 

'Sure are. He's talking to himself. Sounds kinda annoyed about the whole thing.' She laughs. 'Ya should hear the nicknames he's come up with.' 

'I'm better off without, I'm sure.' 

'So I don't think we're gonna need ya for a while. Get some sleep. Keep the comm on though, Boss says he's thinkin' we could have trouble.' 

'Understood. SingKueh out.' 

I don't like it when Boss thinks we could have trouble. He has a very good track record of being right about it. 


(And here goes the bit in that entry that starts "Morning number one starts at...')


Day Three stabs me in the face - it's getting to be a tradition - and I once again forget the ground isn't where I frikkin' told it to be and drop out of bed. 'Fuck.' There isn't any glass there any more, though. See? Silver lining, knew I could find one. 

I get up. I say 'good morning' to the mic under my bed and the one in the top-right corner of the kitchen area, and give it a running narration. 'Going to counter, opening cabinet, pulling out a -' I check the label on the package '- tinfoil pack of probably-cornflakes, making plans to overthrow your despotic regime - oh, whoops, did I say that out loud?' It's the little things. I wonder if they're actually listening. If they are, I bet Boss is getting a laugh out of it. 

'So yeah, cornflakes.' I got my casts off yesterday thank /God/, and with the accelerated healing thing my leg's almost at full capacity, and my shoulder's, well, I'm just not gonna think about my shoulder right now, but it moves at least. So I can pace in circles if I'm bored instead of just thinking in 'em, which let me tell you is a hell of an improvement, giving me as it does almost fifteen more minutes of interest before I go totally stir-crazed. 

You know what I need? A monkey. No, seriously, hear me out here, it'd be like one of those hero-type sidekicks, and it'd sneak out and bring me like a soldering iron or something so I could finish this steam-powered water thinger. And it'd be dead cute so's to attract chicks. 

Who am I kidding, any monkey of mine would probably just throw shit at the walls. Nah, maybe a parrot. That'd give me something to talk to anyway. More interactive than the bugs, and less likely to cast suspicion my way. 

I finish the cornflakes just as someone comes through the window. I expect it to be SDaC, so when the footsteps are way lighter than they should be I just about refrain from throwing myself under the table in instinctive 'ohshit' response. I bet that full-body twitch looked pretty interesting. 

"Chill, it's me," a female voice says. I turn around and it's Blondie. You know, Boss's girlfriend. "Twitchy much?" 

"Hey, if I am you made me that way," I say. "What the hell's up with you?" 

She strides in and starts running her hands around under the table. "Checking the bugs," she says. "Ya found 'em, we gotta make sure you ain't got some kinda loop on 'em. That one's clean..." she pulls it out, checks it over, and sticks it back in. Woman's got really pretty hands. Hm. 

She jumps up on the counter to check the one on the ceiling, and when she's sure I haven't, like, put a tiny nuclear bomb on it or whatever, jumps down and starts looking over my diagrams, I guess so she can figure out if those are explosive or something. Don't know why they /would/ be, given I'd be the first one to go, but given my shitty track record down here they've got no reason to think I'm /not/ suicidal. 

"See, totally fine. Paranoid, aren't ya?" I ask her. There I go with the syntax again.

Not that, you know, I have a leg to stand on where that goes. I mean, I /have/ drawn up plans to mount one of those little mics on eight legs so it can follow me around. It actually only needs three, but an eight-legged camera is just awesome. Don't question the spider-cam. 

"What the hell is this?" Blondie - what's her real name, Silvie - is questioning the spider-cam. 

I grin. "Walking bug, of course," I tell her. 

"Y'know, I didn't half believe 'em when they said how good ya are." She looks at my wallpaper-and-ink plans - floralprints? - in disbelief. 

"You better now." 

Blondie's probably got a reason for being here. Now I can't blame her for being distracted by my engineering prowess, but I'd kinda like to know. And she's gotta know I want to know. She's almost as good as Boss at casual psychological torture. 

"Yeah, gotta face facts I guess. Y'think ya can get your brain 'round somethin' more practical?" she asks, smirking at me. She puts the prints down. 

"Depends what kind of practical you're talking about." 

"Think Boss said we wanted ya workin' on the G-819," she says. She's probably expecting me to jump in the air with glee, or something. I don't, but only 'cause it'd hurt coming down. 

I can feel the uncontrollable grin coming up, though. "Seriously? I mean, seriously seriously? You got a G-819 I can work on?" I mean they said it before, but. Holy shit. This may be the most awesome thing that's happened since back in university when I - well, that's a long story, remind me later - and this time doesn't even involve a universal solvent. 

"Yeah, seriously seriously. Ya start tomorrow if you can deal with, ya think that arm'll work for ya?" she says. Sweet of her not to mention my manic expression. Or the minor flailing that I may or may not be doing. 

"It'll do what I need it to for a gee-nine," I say. "Christ. I barely even got to fly one of those." 

"They're good," Blondie tells me. "'Til they get shot, 'course - that's the problem here, fuel tank's fucked, and the radio's still sending homing signals when it's on." 

"Oh /man/." I think I'm in shock. Just a bit. Blondie is way too amused by all this. Can't begrudge her that though, I get pretty ridiculous when I'm on a tangent. She pulls out a pack of actual graph paper, a ruler and pencils from her backpack and slaps it on the table. 

"I'mma work with ya on this one, so I got materials," she says. 

"I could kiss you." 

She slides down into the nearest chair, and says, "Don't." 

Instead, I pull up a chair, and we get started. 

freosan: (Default)
Yay I am doing it! This part: 2,209 words. So far: 2,209/50,000.

I am so behind.

Ever been on a bombing run? No picnic, let me tell you. For one thing it’s always at like oh-two-hundred hours, and for another there’s freaking terrorists with antiaircraft fire underneath you. Let me paint you a picture: it’s dark, it’s cold, you’re ten centimeters away from being impaled on a surprise skyscraper, you’re going way faster than any human being should, your flight suit is bunched up around your ass ‘cause you forgot and wore the jeans that aren’t tight enough, your face is sweating ‘cause your flight goggles don’t breathe, you can’t see shit out your window ‘cept the other guys’ bombs exploding and you don’t have targets ‘cause no one’s dumb enough to light candles while this’s going down. Oh, and sometimes your radar doesn’t grab the missiles coming your way until they’re in the same plane as you and you realize you’re only alive right now out of sheer dumb luck.

Best adrenaline rush in the galaxy. I try to keep my headset off ‘cause otherwise the guys say I scare ‘em. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one with a crazy laugh though.

I have fucking amazing dumb luck. I was in between two skyscrapers when someone’s little antiaircraft missile nearly took my tail off, which of course means it didn’t, which means, again, I’m the master of lucky breaks. And when you fire, you give off your position, so that was my next target settled. I dropped the bomb and pulled out of my dive, getting some air again before I went back –

The world shook and I went down. Shit. Not my idea. Checked the window, checked the controls, going down waaaay too fast to even think about pulling out, hit the eject without even thinking about it and sprang up into the night sky. Sitting duck up here, not even Kevlar on me, not that it would’ve helped a whole lot against the kind of thing they were firing. I had no freaking idea where the ground was so I pulled the ripcord as soon as I started falling again, making me an even bigger target. Colder out here with the wind and, you know, the pants-shitting terror. On a parachute at night you may as well be target practice.

Bullets started ripping by me as soon as the ‘chute filled and I kept getting shot, dropping faster, stabilizing, and doing it again. Including one really heart-stopping time that someone got in two shots in a row and I dropped twice as far as I should’ve. With some kind of supernatural willpower I let every muscle in my body go limp and played dead. Surprisingly enough they didn’t hear my heartbeat and I got to drop without getting shot at. Straight down through a pair of buildings.

I stopped faster than I really would’ve liked with a jerk, a crunch, and a shout. Jerk because my ‘chute caught on something, crunch because human ribcages weren’t meant to do that shit, and shout because having your ribs broken hurts like hell. Then I shut the fuck up. There was bound to be someone here to check if I was actually dead.

Problem with playing dead when you’re dangling from a building is that nothing wants to hold as still as you do. I kept waving in the breeze, or the ‘chute would slip, or the pressure on my ribs would just get to be too much, and I’d tense – which’d make everything worse not to mention being a real obvious clue that I had a little more life in me than I should’ve – or I’d try to keep still and come up against a couple of million years of evolution telling me to get the fuck out.

I waited. I tried to will blood to go through my fingers and waited some more. I tried to calculate the compressive strength of human lung tissue impacted by bone in my head and continued waiting. I got a really awful, really catchy song stuck in my head for timing purposes, and waited out sixteen verses of it. Then it got real quiet.

And no one was coming, no footsteps, and the sky was starting to turn grey, so it was time for me to give in to evolution.

Looking around gave my location as ‘former main street’, full of the usual junk, all the windows gone but most of the walls still there, and looking up showed me that I’d got stuck on a bit of exposed I-beam. If I remembered right I’d been in this bit of the city a couple of weeks ago. For all I knew this could be one of the buildings I’d hit. Is that irony? At just above shoulder height there was a piece of intact floor. So that was my target sorted then.

I could be really badass and roll up the ‘chute lines like this guy I saw in a movie once, but my ribs told me that badassery was not in the cards for me. I probably already had enough cred, anyway. Doing the more logical thing, I flipped so my foot was up above my head and hooked an ankle on the edge. That should’ve hurt anyway, but I hardly felt it. Thank God for adrenaline, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.

My arms weren’t working as well as they should’ve either so it was taking a lot of concentration to pull myself up – I couldn’t jerk anything or the ‘chute lines would slip in a threatening manner. I’m as in favor of gravity as the next guy but seriously, can’t it give a guy a break once in a while? So anyway, it was my frozen fingers against the entirety of Earth’s mass, and that’s why I didn’t notice the rocks until they hit me in the leg.

Actually I didn’t even notice the rocks then, what I noticed was my leg going ‘CRACK’ and pain going ‘FUCK YOU’ right up to my knee. I dropped to the end of the ‘chute lines, jerked around cursing, and when I got my breath back, I looked down to see three little kids all lined up with freaking slingshots. I mean, seriously, what the fuck.

I didn’t want to shoot kids, but I didn’t want to fall onto them more, and anyway, two seconds after I saw them my gun was in my hand. Instinctive response to human threats.

“Get back or get shot!” They didn’t move. In fact, at least one of them giggled. Fucking ace.

Had to make good on my threat, so I fired in front of them, hitting the ground – I’m not a great shot but I can miss if I want to. They jumped back, but not far enough, and one of them had another chunk of concrete. I lined up again.

“Drop the gun.”

That was new. And a voice like that sure didn’t come from someone under thirteen. I looked behind me, up a little, and right into the barrel of a .33. A very steady barrel.

Behind it was the single most gorgeous man I’d ever seen in my life, with a glare in the running for the top five scariest. There are worse things to die of than a beautiful sniper, but let’s be honest, I don’t want to die. I especially didn’t want to die dangling from a parachute being menaced by preteens with rocks.

I managed to keep the gun steady on the kids. “Sorry, beautiful, I’m kind of using it.” I don’t think I kept the stress out of my voice, but it at least didn’t crack. Small favors.

He didn’t look at all impressed by my witty repartee. “Three seconds and I’m shooting. Put the safety on and drop it.”

“Get that thing out of my face or /I/ shoot,” I told him, or tried to, because before I finished half the sentence I had a bullet in my shoulder.

That shit hurts. I screamed some kind of curse, dropped the gun – of course – and the kids scattered off behind the buildings. The sniper barely even twitched at the recoil and had /his/ gun lined up again before I’d even got my vision sorted out.

“That was a warning. Don’t struggle, or you die.” Very calm sort of guy. I believed him. I might’ve tried to struggle anyway, but it was at that point that my brain decided it’d had more than enough of this bullshit, and punched out.


The pilot was bleeding enough that it didn’t come as any kind of surprise when he passed out. I holstered my gun and climbed up above him.

“Ross, Marc, Melissa, get up here!” I called out. The three of them, slingshots hastily stuffed in pockets, came out of hiding and ran up to me. They’d had fun. I should probably have discouraged that, but who could blame them? It wasn’t every day you got to use Spacer trash as target practice.

The four of us pulled him up and cut him out of his parachute, and I slung him over my shoulder. Boss wanted any Spacer we could catch alive, so this one was safe. For now. Hopefully, if it became necessary, Boss would let me shoot him. I don’t appreciate having the children threatened.

“Make sure you pick up the parachute,” I told them. Melissa immediately grabbed as much of it as she could hold and smiled at me. Ross picked up the train.

Marc, being Marc, immediately challenged the pair of them to a race back to HQ and ran down the stairs. I waited until I was sure they weren’t going to get tangled up and hang themselves, then followed with my load of bloody Spacer pilot.

On the walk back, I passed a lot of triumphant grins. As far as I’d heard, there hadn’t been any fatalities last night, and this idiot’s ship wasn’t the only bomber we’d shot down. He was, however, the only one left alive. That meant, for last night at least, Spacers 0, Earthsiders 4. A small enough gain for our side, but still a victory.

HQ, despite the name, isn’t particularly impressive. It’s a small former gym in a good location with strong walls, surrounded by better targets. This being the reason we picked it, of course.

Boss was at the front desk looking harassed, like he is every morning at or before sunrise. So was Silvie, his girlfriend, and Dirk, the doctor, though rather than looking busy the old man lounged on a bit of equipment we hadn’t taken out yet.

“Heya, SingKueh. Don’t tell me ya got more good news, my heart might not take it,” Boss greeted me. Back at her computer desk, Silvie took her hand off her pistol and waved.

I nodded politely to the other two and told Boss, “You might want to sit down, then.”

“So he is a pilot!” Boss exclaimed. “Awesome. Drop him in the cells. Dirk, keep ‘im from dyin’ on us.”

The doctor followed me down the little hallway to the ‘cells’, actually jury-rigged barred doors on the locker rooms. I gave the keys to Dirk, since my hands were full of pilot, and let him unlock it.

“Five-thirty in the morning you drag me from my bed and all the use I get is on a filthy Spacer,” Dirk complained. I ignored him. I generally do, unless he’s telling me something to do with my personal survival. It’s either that or go insane listening to him rant.

“Put him on the ground, it’s good enough,” Dirk told me, so I dropped him less than gently and got him lined up.

“His leg’s broken, I put a bullet through his shoulder and he was hanging from a parachute, so check his ribs,” I said. Dirk just shook his head at me.

“Kids telling me how to do my job. Go on, get out.” He waved me off and opened his medkit. I left before he got too far into things. I’m not delicate, but I don’t much like the sight of blood. Though at that point I needn’t have bothered, since it was already all over my hands. I wiped them off on my trousers.

I wasn’t two steps into the main room before Boss verbally collared me. “’Kueh! Get yourself out to Nueva and take an engineer, there’s a ship down. Apt to be dangerous.”

Silvie, who’d actually looked up from her desk, added, “But clean up first. You look like an axe murderer.”

“On it,” I told them both.

The water in the bathrooms was running today, for a change, and I spent some time trying to get the blood off of me. There was a lot of the stuff. If he bled out, it would be my fault. Boss wouldn’t care a great deal, and it wasn’t as if I would be demoted or anything, but – I’m not a fan of killing. Not if I don’t have to. I don’t particularly care for failing Boss, either.

But I had other things to worry about, so as soon as I’d got all the red off my hands and face I went out to inspect a downed airplane.
freosan: (Default)
If you have seen me IRL you've read it. Hopefully to develop a plot at some point.

The blue police box vworpped into Chicago, Illinois, United States of America, Earth, Two Thousand, just after sundown, surprising absolutely no one. When the tall, wiry man with the hair like a bird’s nest in a hurricane stepped out and took a deep breath, no one noticed.

A graveyard. The Doctor was almost positive he had not chosen to be here. Sometimes the TARDIS had its own ideas about where/when was best for him, but he’d had enough death for this week – year century lifetime – and it knew that. Clearly he’d got himself somewhere by accident, and more often than not when he did that he ended up saving the world, the human race, or the entire universe.

He’d had enough of that for this week as well.

He bounced on his heels and sniffed the air again, then screwed up his face. “That’s not good, no, not at all,” he muttered. “I’m sure I didn’t set it for Earth, and this is just…”

He left the thought unfinished as he ran back into the TARDIS, which whined at him, mentally. It didn’t like being here. Something – “Oh come on, what have I got into now?” he asked the machinery, darting around to the main monitor.

Tap-tap-tap and two levers and some telepathic nudges later, he had his answer. “Oh no no no this can’t be right!” He ran around to the opposite side as his ship sparked its indignation at him.

Outside, something loud and bright cracked into a tree, and the Doctor was one hundred percent certain that it had not been lightning. Not here.

“Don’t tell me that, I’ve just saved the one, don’t say there’s another one demanding it please.” His words matched the pace of his fingers on the keyboards, and his heartbeats were getting in on the race. “And not even oh, there goes that 23rd century monitor, I liked that one.” Things were falling apart at an alarming rate, and he’d made some backups after the last time this happened so the TARDIS would be all right in itself, but a lot of the peripherals weren’t meant to stand up to –

Another crack and the TARDIS whirred and died. The Doctor took only a moment to sigh over it; he’d better get the backups working before he went to investigate.

Plug the recharger into the disconnected energy source, switch it on, and watch it glow. Much more convenient than using up his lifespan, even if it was considerably less dramatic. “Hang on, all right? I’ll go do something about this,” he told the egg of blue light. He had the sonic screwdriver in his pocket and was out the door before the next flash of light crashed into the side of the TARDIS.

He winced, but the shields didn’t waver, and he let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d held. Something large and remniscient of a Korlzitelk, all big curled horns and goat legs, barrelled past him bellowing its displeasure. The Doctor was sure that Korlzitelks didn’t smoke, ordinarily, and stepped out of the way to let it continue its rampage.

Something that was probably human ran after it, shouting in very bad Latin, and sending another blast of the light – blue, now that he had time to notice – at the Korlzitelk, which shriveled and disappeared. They had been known to do that on occasion, so the Doctor decided to let it go.

The human – yes, certainly a human, no doubt of that now that he had time to look, really see the man – stopped, and stared at him. He had a big stick and a black trenchcoat, and his timelines and potentialities twisted in a way that gave the Doctor a headache.

Looking at Jack was wrong, because what Jack was was wrong. Looking at this man was wrong, but it wasn’t due to any inherent flaws on his part. No, in this case, the fault lay entirely with the Doctor.

“Oi, you, you nearly blew a hole in my ship,” he greeted the man, putting on his best disarming grin along with his spectacles. “Not that it did any harm, but that is a fascinating stick you have there. …Mind if I have a look?” he asked.

The man did not look impressed, and looked less impressed when he looked back to see the TARDIS where the Doctor had pointed to it. “That’s not a ship,” he said. “That’s a wooden box.” Though he did look a little concerned about the whole matter.

The Doctor sighed. Every time. “Well of course it is. Bigger on the inside though, I’ll give you that – though not if that thing you’ve got there had gotten through the shields.” He bit his lip thoughtfully. “Some kind of sonic blaster, isn’t it? Are you sure I can’t have a look?”

“Who the hell are you?” the man challenged. Well, all right, he’d walked into that one. He should have known he was dealing with the suspicious type.

“I’m the Doctor,” he said, and stuck out his hand. The man didn’t respond, his left hand clenched in a fist and his right still around the stick, which was glowing, and not just with the fascinating patterns it was making in causality.

The Doctor gave up on a friendly handshake and returned to the matter at hand. “You just discorporated a Korlzitelk. You lot aren’t supposed to have those until what, 3380?”

The man gave him that stare he knew so well – the one that said that here was a mind with untold depths of inanity. But the man wasn’t meeting his eyes. He was doing a good job of looking him in the face, but there’d been not a flash of eye contact since they’d begun speaking, or the Doctor had.

“But I think you’ve got in touch a little bit early, haven’t you? Yeah, yeah, different world different rules – I’m guessing eye contact does something kind of…” he waved his hand in an expressive manner: alarming, terrific, dangerous. “…You know, and you were speaking Latin back there. Very bad Latin, mind. So you chose words.” He was becoming unable to contain his grin. All right, he was stuck here, but a whole new universe, with whole new rules.

“But I bet if I tell you Carrionite…” he said, pointing. The man failed to shriek and disappear, but he did take a step back. The Doctor nodded and smiled. “Oh that’s wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.”

“I don’t know what you are, but take your damn wooden box and get out of my city,” the man said, raising the stick. Or, rather, the sonic… sonic staff? Why not.

“Oh very good, very good! ‘What’, not ‘who’. Yes, very good. Except I can’t.” The Doctor went serious very suddenly, thinking of that little blue light in the darkness. “Because it’s going to take a little while for my TARDIS to put itself back together.”

“Is that what you call that thing?” the man asked.

“Yep. It’s partially alive, but a lot of it is electronic,” he explained. “And your technology doesn’t play well with my technology.” And he was stuck in a world where technology was in the head and on the tongue.

“Magic. It’s not technology, it’s magic,” the man said. “Dresden,” he said finally, shifting the staff into the crook of his left arm and putting out his hand. “Harry Dresden.”

“Nice to meet you, Harry Dresden,” the Doctor said. They shook. Harry was wearing a bracelet of silver that glistened and rippled in eye-bending ways.

“And you’re the Doctor. Just the Doctor? I gave you my name,” Harry said.

“Yeah, and thank you for that,” the Doctor said, moving on quickly to the next question. “So, magic! The staff is, the bracelet is, the ring is, you are,” he added. “Do you count the Korlzitelk as magic too?”

“You mean the satyr,” Harry corrected him. “It was a satyr. And it was trying to kill me,” he added, almost defensively.

“It probably had a good reason for it, but no harm done,” the Doctor said. “It’ll be back eventually.”

Harry rolled his eyes. “Yeah, trying to kill me again. Are you going to try that? Only it’s been a hell of a week and I’d rather not.”

“What? No, I’m not,” the Doctor told him with genuine shock. “I’m just stuck here, not bent on invasion. You lot have had enough of that.”

Harry gave him a long, suspicious look. “What are you talking about?”

“Oh, sorry, it’s 2000, isn’t it.” Canary Wharf, the Christmas invasion, even the Master were all still half a decade off. If they happened happened. If Torchwood here would leave well enough alone – would there be a Torchwood here?

Only if there was another him here. The thought gave the Doctor pause, but he didn’t let the uncertainty show on his face for very long. Last thing he needed was for Harry to take control of the conversation.

Manic expression again. “That aside, if you’re done shooting up the place, I’m here for at least another forty-eight hours. The TARDIS’ll be fine by itself. You wouldn’t know where I could get a good meal, would you?” he asked.

“You haven’t told me anything,” Harry pointed out. “That box shouldn’t still be standing. You’ve got no name and half of what you’ve said is nonsense.” He shifted the staff back into his right hand, setting himself up. As if the Doctor were a threat.

“I told you enough, haven’t I? I’m the Doctor and I’m stuck here. And I’m absolutely starving. Come on, let’s go find a pub. Are we in Chicago?” That was what the TARDIS had said, but the skyline was different. A few extra buildings here, a clear space there, nothing too dramatic – and on the other hand, it certainly smelled like Chicago. He set off.

Taking the lead usually worked, and people were happy to follow him, or at least too confused to do otherwise. Harry Dresden was different. The Doctor was nearly out of the graveyard when he heard, “You don’t want to go that way. There’ll be more of them.”

“What, more Korlzitelks? I’m not the one who’s shooting at them,” the Doctor reminded him, leaving the boundries of the graveyard. Then he stopped, looked around, and ducked, quite suddenly. Bullets whizzed over his head.

“Always with the shooting!” They’d come from over to his left, from the parked cars, and then there was Harry, already running in the opposite direction, and shouting at him to do the same. It seemed sensible. He ran. Behind them, bullets bounced off a force field in midair.

Harry launched himself into a small and beat-up multicoloured Bug, and the Doctor, slightly faster, whipped around into the passenger’s side.

“Well that’s a good old-fashioned Earth welcome for you,” he commented. Harry ignored him, intent on speeding away as fast as possible. Just as well too; three cars had pulled away from the curb and were in hot pursuit.

“What are you doing in my car?” Harry growled, and made a turn that had to be illegal, by the laws of nature if not the laws of man.

“You said to run!” The Doctor glanced behind them. “Good idea, by the way.” Someone was leaning out the window of the car behind them. The Doctor pulled out his sonic screwdriver, rolled the window down, set the device to ‘resonate lead’ and pressed.

The gunshot went off but was not followed by a bullet, and Harry turned into a busy street while their pursuers slowed in confusion. “There! No harm done.” Assuming they weren’t followed any further. The Doctor looked back; the cars went past the intersection and then faded from sight. That was new.

“You’re not a wizard. What the hell did you just do?” Harry asked, with a suspicious glance at the sonic screwdriver.

“Wizard? No, not so much. Well, I am brilliant enough for it. But this…” he tossed the screwdriver from hand to hand “…is just a fascinatingly good piece of technology.”

Harry gave it a look like he expected it to explode at any second. Given the TARDIS’s reaction to his sonic blaster, maybe it would. Better to avoid it: the Doctor slipped the thing back into a pocket.

“So, have days like this often?” he asked Harry brightly.

“More often than you’d expect,” Harry told him. “Though the suicidal British guy is a new one on me. Why are you following me again?” The light was green, and the car traveled slowly down the street. Almost as if they hadn’t been nearly killed moments before.

The Doctor shrugged. “Seemed the best thing under the circumstances?”

“It isn’t. I’ve got something weird after me. And I’m leaving you out of it.” Harry’s jaw set, and the lines on his brow deepened. Outside, the heavy traffic gave way to a side street which offered the tantalizing possibility of parking space.

“Oh, weird, I like weird. How weird?” the Doctor asked. “How much weirder does it get than a wizard?” He gave Harry his it’s-just-an-innocent-question look, but Harry was having none of it.

“Someone with no name who stepped out of a police box that wasn’t there five minutes ago?”

“Yeah, well. At least I’m consistent.”
freosan: (Default)
Like I said: 'Kueh POV. A couple weeks after the last one.

There are very few things to do at six-forty-five in the morning and contemplating your own mortality is most of them. I was trying very hard not to do this, because it’s never best to contemplate death when you’re on the roof of a twelve-storey building. I concentrated on the fact of my freezing fingers, instead.

They were colder than the rest of me because I was holding some obscure metal piece in place for our new mechanic. I was trying, also, to ignore this, because if I were to give him any sort of encouragement he’d be trying to talk to me again. Not that words weren’t coming out of his mouth right now, but at least he wasn’t expecting a response.

“So I just slam this thing in here and get the coils locked in place, and it won’t take toooooo much longer if you just – ah fuck, I was counting on that wire – yeah so hold this and don’t move and give me another ten minutes…” He handed me something and ducked back under the fuselage. I took the wire, though my fingers didn’t want to move. In ten minutes the sun would be fully up, so perhaps they’d be able to thaw me. Perhaps.

Boss had insisted I take the job of watching him, because ‘you need the break’ and ‘he’s gonna be dangerous’. So I was again left with the job of supervising the new Spacer idiot. Granted, Une had turned out all right, but still, it was a bit much.

I think this one had taken all the words Une wasn’t using; he talked more than enough for two. Just as well, really, since I was in no mood to be conversational. He’d been down here for long enough that I was no longer ready to kill him on sight, but I still didn’t feel the need to be friendly.

For some reason he kept going out of his way to be friendly with me. I didn’t know why; I do have that effect on people sometimes, but usually people who haven’t met Boss. Until you talk with him, you don’t really understand that sucking up to his people doesn’t work.

The sun wasn’t quite all the way over the horizon when the Spacer took the wires out of my hands and wove them through everything else in some complicated way. He slid out from under the body and stood up straight, grinning at me. “Totally air-worthy! Told you I was good.”

I nodded a bit and ignored him, trying to get the feeling back into my fingers. He shrugged – most likely thought I didn’t notice – and turned back to his handiwork.

“Come on, admit it. I’m fucking awesome.” He leaned back on the guard-rail with a self-satisfied smirk.

I did have to admit it was a well-done piece of work. Very few people could reconstruct a fighter plane from the framework and scrap pieces of metal. Fewer could fit it with jury-rigged versions of the flight controls. And all with Earthsider materials, which at this point were little more advanced than hand torches and rivets.

When I said this, he responded, “Well yeah, it’s well done, ‘cause I’m a fucking genius. Look at this! This wing” – he stepped back over to the plane and knocked on said wing – “Is half the wrong side of a twelve-year-old ship. And do you have any idea how hard it is to get that damn ceramic to act like it’s supposed to? Pain in the ass, I tell you…” and he was off.

I’ve never been interested in engineering, so this was lost on me, and he could probably tell that, but he was too enamored of the sound of his own voice to care. When he looked ready to start another lecture on the cockpit, I put a stop to it.

“We should tell Boss. He’ll need to be informed before we test it.” And quite honestly I wanted to get down from there; still cold, and I’m not good with heights, not really.

A moment of surprise and then he shrugged and stuck his still-greasy hands in his pockets. “All right, cool, let’s get to it then. Though.” That grin again, with a spark in his eyes that I was not at all sure I liked. “I got one way to show him that it works.”

He jumped up on the wing, which of course was my cue to point a gun at him again. I have a very quick draw – it comes from my sword work. “Get down.”

He put his hands up but didn’t move, just looked resigned. “I should’ve known. You going to shoot me again?”

“I’m prepared to.” Because there was no way a new, untried Spacer was going to use a new, untested ship – that he’d built, mostly alone – without another pilot around. Not if I had a say in the matter, and I did. I had bullets.

“It kind of hurt the first time, y’know,” he told me. He was probably going to try to jump for it. Not the best idea; he might think I wouldn’t shoot the ship, but I certainly would. Its hull integrity was not as important as keeping him grounded.

“That is the point. Get down.” I don’t like talking to people when I have a gun on them. You can never tell when they’ll have more patience than you.

“You don’t think flying this thing over the encampment would be a good way to show off?” he asked. Could he be serious? As serious as he’d so far shown himself to be.

“If you want to cause a panic, then yes, it’s a lovely idea. Get. Off. The plane.”

When he made a sudden movement I nearly fired – I was a little hair-trigger that day, for what I think are perfectly understandable reasons – but he was only jumping off the wing again.

“No fun, no fun at all,” he said, shaking his head. “I can see I’m going to have to be the one to put some excitement back into this place.”

“We have excitement,” I said. “Mostly supplied by your colleagues.” I put my gun back in my side holster, but kept it easy to draw. I wasn’t ready to be anything like relaxed right then.

“Getting shot at is a thrilling and valuable pasttime, but in the realms of ‘fun’ it’s right up there with root canals, tetanus shots and getting your face torn off by wild badgers,” he said, as if the words coming out of his mouth were perfectly reasonable. I didn’t laugh, because I don’t. Neither did I smile. Much.

The logical disconnect there is just inherently humorous. Moving on. “We don’t have time to be distracted,” I told him. “You were military; you should understand that.” Une had, but then the difference between this man and Une was so great as to make it hard to believe they were members of the same species, let alone the same command structure.

He waved his hands around vaguely. “Yeah, yeah, there’s that, but military’s a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. You know, so many guys in rotation, there’s not a lot to do most days, except when there’s a run…” he glanced at me, and flinched. “Sorry.”

I didn’t respond. Let him stew in his guilt for a while. He deserved it.

“Let’s get moving,” I said, already walking towards the staircase. “Sivier will fly this thing on its test run. Please remember that if anything unexpected happens, you’ll die.” And with luck, he wasn’t suicidal.

He looked annoyed but not actually in fear for his life, which said good things about Sivier’s prospects. “Because I’m going to let that happen. If I wanted to get out of here I could – your security sucks ass.”

I was in charge of security. “It’s as good as it can be.” My tone was laced with all the irritation and defensiveness I had; I had next to nothing to work with when it came to keeping the city safe. Boss, Une, Sivier, a few former solders, a few other members of the original Earthside Rebel – only the solders had real training, and Boss and I didn’t trust them enough to let them take charge of much.

He snorted. “Oh whatever. I used to wire up my bedroom better than those fucking infrareds you’ve got. Couple of tripwires, some mines, and get those snipers to better places, you’re set.”

I would have agreed with him, actually, except that there were a few notable facts he was missing. “Each time we put the snipers higher, someone snipes them. They have to be hidden from air as well as ground. And we simply don’t have the resources for better sensors.”

We were halfway down the stairs by now. He still had his combat boots; they echoed. Harder to hear properly, and I was starting to get nervous, because I’d let an unknown quantity walk down the stairs behind me. Not the brightest idea I’ve ever had.

“I didn’t say higher, I said better. And there’s still the mines, I know where you can get a fuckton of explosives if you want ‘em,” he tossed off. I stilled.

“You know where to find explosives?” Yes, I did want them. And soon.

He kept walking and just about crashed into me, dodging at the last moment to thud down the stairs. “Ye-ah, I think there’s a resupply base what, a couplea-fifty miles off the point? I mean it’s not gonna be easy, but it’s sure as hell better’n what you’ve got now.”

I followed, slightly more at ease now that he’d fixed my mistake. “’Off the point’. A sea base?” I frowned. We had no real way to get to anyplace in the ocean.

“Yep. You got what, five, six jets? Send two. Do it at twilight, paint ‘em up like Spacer’s sea patrols, I’ll fly one and give ‘em my callsign – it oughta work once, anyway, maybe twice – we land, we steal, we cripple, we move out. You can fit a couplea passengers in those things too, so we can have backup and a way to get anyone who looks like they might be worth convincing.”

We hit ground and he stopped in the caseway, waiting for me to think it through before we went back outside. It wasn’t a good plan. It was a workable plan, with high payoff – but high risk. Were we willing to take it for the possibility of weapons?

Probably. We were desperate, at that point. But… “I’ll consider it. You won’t be flying and you won’t be armed,” I say. “And don’t think that this will get you in my good books. Not yet.”

He shrugged. “I wouldn’t trust me either, man. Give it time.”
freosan: (Default)
Picks up right where the last one left off. After this we'll switch to 'Kueh's point of view for a while, 'cause 'Tatsu is tiring.

No, you haven't seen Sivier before. He exists. Looks like Quatre only taller and nastier.

I’m not gonna take this lying down – figuratively, anyway – though, so. “I’m gonna be after his fucking blood! I might never get this fucking arm back, and you can’t fly with one fucking arm!” I snarl. Oh. Is that what I’m so damn upset about? Yeah, that’ll do it. Worse than trechery, worse than conspiracy, I am grounded now. I’m a groundie. Gods above and below, that’s disgusting.

But since Marine is looking at me again – fuck him. I have bigger problems – no, I don’t, not at the moment, and not looming over me with fists clenched – okay, I back off. In a manly, reasoned fashion. I absolutely do not jerk back from him and slam into the wall. I knew that wall was there, I just don’t want to upset it by telling it so, so I yelp. At this rate I’m never going to heal.

Boss laughs at me. Oh shut the fuck up. “Down, boy. We already got what we need, we can stop freakin’ him out. Go get some sleep,” he says. “I’ll get him set up, soon enough.” He drops on a cinderblock, hand on his hip holster, and lounges. I gotta give him this, it’s kinda impressive to see a guy lounge on an improv chair made of all right angles.

Marine goes off somewhere, which leaves me alone with the guy who has not yet actually hit me, which is at least somewhat reassuring.

He looks at me. I look at him. He has this shit-eating grin on his face. I doubt I look so fucking pleased with myself.

“Get the canary?” I ask, dry as Death Valley.

He nods. “Ya know, we gotta work on your attitude problem.”

“I will show you a fucking attitude problem the next time I can fucking stand up –“ I growl at him.

“Not great reason for me to let you, is it?” No, it’s not. “Look, here’s where we are – I got a ship needs fixed, you got a powerful need to get off the ground. We’re going’ at the same angles, see?” he says. I chart trajectories before I realize it’s a metaphor. Thought I had a monopoly on those. Yes I know that’s stupid, I told you I was concussed.

“So you let me hang onto you for another coupla days, you can get the feel of the place, we can make sure you ain’t got a bunch o’ friends on backup, we’ll be in business.” He leans back even more on the rough brick. That so can’t be comfortable, though I guess I don’t have much of a leg to stand on – metaphorically, I still have most of my leg intact – since I’m sitting on a piece of metal that’s making a really serious bid for interpersonal relations. I’m too tired to actually move.

“All my friends are brainwashed or dead,” I say. “I still blame that last part on you dicks. Just so you don’t get any ideas.” Would I take another way to get back at the colony leaders? Don’t know. Like ‘em or not these guys did save my life, in a sick and twisted and sadistically torturous way, and only after kicking the shit out of me to begin with. But there’s still shit left to be kicked, so that counts for something.

“I know there ain’t no love lost between us, and I do hate what we gotta do some days. But look me in the eye and tell me you ain’t killed.” I can’t do it and he’s gotta know that.

“Seventy-three. That I’m sure of,” I say. I don’t look up at him. Yeah. I’m not proud of that, either. I don’t know all their names, I’m not some psycho-angsting anime hero, and I don’t know half their faces. But I know I killed ‘em.

“Headed right on down with the rest of us,” he says. Okay, so I killed the laughter too. Not for long though, ‘cause he can’t seem to stay on a hard topic too long, not that I’m in any place to throw stones.

“Think I’ll put you in with ‘Kueh first off. He shouldn’t’a shot ya,” Boss says, conspiratorially.

“Damn right he shouldn’t’a!” Oh shit, I’m picking up his accent. Give me another week and I’ll have his freaking syntax, too.

He continues like he didn’t notice, which, you know, I’m usually the only one who does. “So I think it’ll do him some good, if you’re on his watch for a while.”

“And where the hell does my good come into all this?” I snap. I do not want to room with that bastard. I only have so much control over my animal instincts. And I can’t figure out whether jumping him or hitting him would screw up our further relationship more.

Boss gives me a lazy, mocking smile. “I ain’t never said nothin’ about your good,” he says.

Are infuriating bastards born, or made? Either way, like I said: this one’s had lots of practice. “And if either of us kills the other?”

“I’m not liking your odds in that matchup,” he says.

More footsteps, lighter this time, interrupt my detailed revenge fantasy. It’s a tall skinny blond guy with a big-ass rifle. “Trey,” he greets Bossguy, than sees me and nods. “This is the one?”

“I’m the one? Does this mean I can dodge bullets now?” I wonder aloud.

Boss chooses to ignore me – I knew he learned fast – nods to blondie, and says, “Yeah. Futatsu Walker.”

“’Tatsu, okay? You guys suck at Japanese ‘f’.”

“’Tatsu,” says blondie, blank-faced. “I’m Sivier. You won’t be seeing much of me.”

“Ow, burned,” I say. Sivier gives me what might be the tiniest of smiles. Dear god – does that mean he actually got a joke? There’s someone in this place whose sense of humor isn’t totally fubared? Well shit, I might get along all right.

“Well he might,” Boss says. “He’s Air Force.” Sivier looks at me again with new interest.

“What kind of ship?” he asks. I shrug.

“Little bit of everything – my Stella was custom, got the body of a G-813, little extra in the computers and wings – dammit, it took me like eight months to get those wings attached right…” I say.

“Your Stella?” he echoes. “You called a spaceship Stella.”

“Yeah, I did, and it got me laid for six straight months, so don’t knock it,” I say with a grin. He shakes his head to hide the smirk, then goes back to the poker face.

“Y’all pilots can perv over your boats later, hear? He’s with ‘Kueh for a couple weeks, get that G-8whatever off the ground, and if he’s still in the clear maybe I’ll let you play,” Boss says.

Sivier’s eyes widen. “He’s gonna fix the G-819?”

My eyes’d be bugging out of their sockets if they weren’t halfway to swollen shut. “You have a G-819?”

Boss throws up his hands. “I bloody hope so and not if you don’t get it workin’. I tell you. Pilots.”

“Because you’ve never spent an hour fondling your semiautomatic,” Sivier snarks at him, then puts a kind of intimate hand on his shoulder. Well I guess he’s off-limits then, you really don’t wanna flirt with the boss’s boytoy. Remind me to tell you that story sometime. Or maybe not.

“I ain’t made a career out of it, is all. Sivier, wanna get someone to stick down here for me? I got shit to do and this guarding thing is hella stressful.” Boss is so relaxed he may as well be asleep, but whatever. As long as newguy – do they have chicks in this place? Haven’t seen one yet – isn’t triggerhappy, I’m cool. Since I’m not gonna be getting out of here anytime soon.

“Nice to know I’m a high priority,” I snipe.

Sivier ignores me. I’m truly and deeply wounded. “Yeah, sure. Who you want?”

“Seiji or someone.”

“Got it, Boss.” They touch hands before he leaves. Cute.


So the next three, four days, maybe, it’s not like I can tell time anymore what with the distinct lack of window, I sit around and get better, for a given value of ‘better’. I don’t see SDaC – good – but I do see a hell of a lot more of Marine than I want to. And kind of a lot of Boytoy, which I can deal with. As long as I don’t refer to him by that nickname to his face.

And there’s this guy Dirk, who’s the doctor, about seventy years old, a total drunken lout, and fucking awesome. And did something to my leg and ribs that made them heal in about a week. Which, seriously, even if not for the other great aspects to his personality, that’d have me putting up little candlelit shrines to the man. Assuming I had candles.

After three-or-four days, while I’ve still got the fucking cast on, they pull me out of the little cinderblock not-cell and install me in a third-floor apartment with external access only. Charming. Even more charming is the fact that it’s got SDaC living a floor below it. And he’s got orders to check up on me like once every six hours.

Boss’s rationalization for this is that I’m an important guy, got engineering knowledge they can’t match, so I get the most important guard. He grinned way too hard when he said that. Dick.

Morning Number One dawns at, to no one’s great surprise, dawn, when I get stabbed in the face with a sunbeam. Fucking lack of curtains. I roll out of bed, stop myself when I remember bed’s actually off the ground now, manage not to injure myself getting to the little food closet, and accomplish breakfast, the only casualties being some not-very-important-anyway taste buds. This shit they call cereal is almost as bad as MREs.

“Okay, that’s done, is there any way to take a fucking shower in this place? Water pressure’s shot,” I say out loud. “Nevermind, I’ll just stink, not like anyone else cares.” Not like I get to see anyone else, ‘cepting my sort-of jailer.

He’ll be by at some point. Do I care if he sees the place a mess? Nah. Besides maybe he’ll take the messed-up bed as an invitation – good god I need to get laid.

You know what? I bet I can get these water pipes to take steam power.

Two and a half hours, some serious stick-on-wallpaper diagrams, and a rough wooden model later, SDaC shows up looking like someone kicked his cat. “What the hell are you doing?”

I’m halfway buried under the useless kitchen sink with a pair of shitty wirecutters. “Engineering. ‘S why you’re keeping me around, right?” I say, without moving. It took some serious doing to get into this position without killing any ribs and I am not giving it up without a fight.

“What sort of engineering requires tearing down the walls?” he asks.

“This sort,” I say. What the hell is that accent? I thought UK, but it isn’t. Wrong vowels. Weird. I shouldn’t be thinking about this while my fingers are where they are.

I swear to god he actually taps his fingers on the countertop, waiting for me to be more enlightening. I’m torn between being annoying and gushing about my new project. Ah, what the hell.

“I wanna get some piping so I can work out a steam system for the water in this building. Model’s on the table. Might not be the best mockup but it’s scaled, and this ain’t rocket science,” I say, and finally get the damn wirecutters to pierce the last bit of metal. Awesome. The pipe falls on my shoulder, which isn’t so awesome, but whatever. It’s not the healing one.

I wriggle out of the cabinet and make a show out of it, ‘cause I am just that talented, and also ‘cause otherwise it’ll look like I’m pathetically unable to bend more than three degrees. Which may be true. Which is his fault. But I don’t get the feeling he goes in for guilt.

With pipe held above my head – in the single working arm I have currently, not that I’m bitter or anything – I declare, “This is my boomstick!”

He raises an eyebrow. Some people have no appreciation for the classics.

“And what exactly are you going to do with that?”

Ow fuck I think I just bit through my tongue trying not to give the first eight replies that inspired. Seems a damn shame to throw away such a perfect straight line. Such is my suffering.

I plunk the boom-pipe down on the table. “Gonna be my stress-test. Now have you got something to actually do?” I ask him.

“I was supposed to be sleeping, but found that impossible,” he says. Come to it he does look kind of tired. Though his hair’s not messed up. Gotta get him to tell me how he does that.

“Sorry man, it’s time to get out of bed. Bright and shining new day.” I grab my best presketch and look it over. “Hey, you got a big metal tub and some solder?” I ask. Look, I have some seriously serious attention when I’m on a project. Pretty as he is, SDaC can’t compete with steam power.

“Some of us didn’t get in until five this morning,” he says, refusing to be distracted. Hey, okay, I get it, man needs his sleep.

“Been out partying?” I ask. Am I trying to piss him off? Signs point to probably.

He gives me this cutting look and hell, for all I know he could be actually trying to laser a beam through my skull. He’s got his work cut out for him then; I got one hell of a dense head.

“Now that is a hangover look if I ever saw one,” I declare.

I swear he’d be growling if he knew how. I should teach him. “I do not party. I was out until five in the morning waiting for your rescue party.”

Ouch. Man knows how to hurt a guy. “Wait, I have a rescue party?”

The glare’s too far gone to make any worse without doing some serious facial rearrangement, but dammit, he tries. “We got intel that you did. Fortunately, you weren’t that important.”

And again. I’m gonna have to start scoring some points or he’s – wait, he shot me. I still have the moral high ground, at least until he starts bringing up strafing.

So whatever, I let it slide off me and go about my business. Point made, he leaves. I don’t look up from my blueprints - wallpaperprints, whatever - until half past noon.
freosan: (Default)
I am not all that good with words.

Last night, I may have killed someone. This is not unusual. I only wish I had not, which is… let me start again. I am not good with words.

Last night, I woke up early, just after darkup. I am no kind of early riser so I was surprised to see the last rays of sunlight; I suppose I could stay awake in daytime, now.

It is, I have noticed, much easier to see in bright light than in darkness, but I still retain some fear, even after being exposed for hours. Light is dangerous – was dangerous.

Forgive me. But it is as if you, tied to the ground all your life, were suddenly given the power to walk on air – though it were as solid as earth, you would still fear that moment of stepping off the mountainside. Though you may have always felt the terrible draw of the leap. Though you may look upon this as the curse that finally, irrevocably deprives you of knowing what falling feels like.

I woke early, and looked ‘round, and lit the candle-lantern which has become my constant companion; nothing was there to have woken me. As well I strained to hear, but nothing was close by, though I can hardly hear so much as a footstep.

I stood, checked by the windows, in case, took a glance at the big clock, which read fifteen minutes to eight, with the speed of time at six seconds per second; fairly fast, though not so fast as the time I was born in – but I cannot tell these things now.

It is a curse, but I would not feel it if only I had never been so… ah, that is another digression. Forgive me.

The timing made me nervous, and I was still uneasy from having seen the sun; I dressed quickly and without care and perhaps my clothing was less modest than expected in this area, in this time. What of it? It is surely no woman’s fault what she chooses to wear, when the country around is so capricious in its ideals. I cannot imagine how one is expected to follow.

When I left, on my way down to the nearest night-open shop – and there are precious few of those that sell food worth eating – I passed a few women who eyed me with undisguised scorn. I eyed them directly back, with, I like to think, a certain amount of aristocratic chill, and of course my smile has always frightened that sort. I went unmolested until I turned down an alley, a common shortcut.

It was then that I realized, in my earlier forced nonchalance, I had left my lantern burning on my window; and also, that there was no other light down this alley. Well, again, what of it? I had nothing to fear there.

I am still strong, as I compare, though not nearly a fraction of what I once was, and still fast and light and agile, though I feel clumsy as a kitten some times, and when I am attacked, I still have the same instincts.

When the man put his hand on my shoulder, with obvious immoral intent, I did not react. I have some control. When he attempted to reach inside my collar, I pushed his hand away. This did not deter him, and neither did my smile; when he pushed me against a wall, anger in his aspect, I extended my hand quickly and drove my fingers into his throat.

Blood. Oh great dragon. Warm, rich, red velvet blood, covering him, and myself, and my hands – I did as anyone would and drank. Deeply. Though the taste was no deeper than iron and salt, and he still jerked and twitched in my hands, I had not tasted of it in months and it was as sweet and good as a pure maiden’s. I drank until the wound stopped bleeding and dropped the body on the ground. I licked what remained from my hands and leaned back against the wall, deeply satisfied. For a few moments.

My body betrayed me as it so often does these days. I fell to the ground, heaving, and though I tried my hardest I could not keep from vomiting everything I had drunk – everything I had ever drunk, or so it felt. The blood, now mixed with bile and as worthless and lifeless as water, soaked into the ground.

I do not remember how I left or how I went back to the hopeless little cell I called home or how the women who’d scorned me earlier reacted now; I was in shock, I believe. Blood all over me and dirt, and I had no way to wash, and I would not have cared but a month ago. I was not sure I cared now, but I did not sleep that day.
freosan: (Default)
All you need to know: 'Tatsu got shot down. *Someone* picked him up. Backstory. To Be Continued as soon as the next line stops trying to injure me.

So here I am fucked up beyond all recognition in someone else’s cell, which is not where you wanna be in the middle of a war, and especially not when you know the war’s against terrorists, and especially not when you’re trained to resist torture and they know it, because dammit, all my training ever gets me is beat up worse. Anyway yeah, I already have about five hundred bruises and I can’t breathe right and hey, they patched up my leg, which is damn decent of them, but not gonna help my opinion of them a whole lot in the long run.

I go through all that in two and a half seconds and I don’t make a noise except a little tiny hitch in breathing when I find out about my broken ribs, but the guy standing watch over me still knocks on the cinderblocks and says, “Hey. Get up.”

No point pretending, I guess, and I sit up and try not to scream. I mean they know I’m fucked up, but I might as well try to do the tough-guy thing, and dammit, I swear I do not whimper. Not even a little bit, when I twist and my abdominal muscles are attacked by flamethrower-wielding porcupines.

Guy is taller than I am and half again as big around, and full of efficient-looking malice. He has a dorky but practical haircut. His clothes are beat up. I’m trying not to think about how few scars he has. You think facial scars are scary? Nah. What’s fucking scary is someone who looks like he’d break you in half and pour your blood over cereal, all casual-like, and doesn’t have any marks from the eight hundred fights he must’ve been in.

Scary-guy glares at me – I guess it could be his standard, but it looks like a glare. God, imagine having sex with a guy like that. Anyway. So then someone else comes in, and he is kinda roughed up, but scary-guy defers, so he’s probably even more dangerous. God-fucking-dammit.

I push myself sitting against the wall, and stop. “Sorry man, can’t get any farther than this. Thanks for the leg, though. Feels almost like it’s not gonna cause my painful death from blood-loss and infection!” I tell boss-guy, and give him a wave and my best smile. I think it’s kinda hard to charm a guy when half your face is gone purple from a fucking rock being thrown at it, though, ‘cause he doesn’t look impressed.

Also the porcupines have taken up tap-dancing. Does this mean I should keep my stupid fucking mouth shut? Nah.

“That’d be kinda a shame, yeah?” he says. Guy’s got a straight-up Earthsider accent, probably some flavor of North American. He also grins like a pro. I am in such deep shit right now.

“I like to think so,” I say. Like I ever pass up a chance to talk.

“I’d think so. You got a lot to tell me, flyboy,” he says. Who the fuck says ‘flyboy’?

“Yeah that’s not high on my list of priorities right now,” I tell him. “I’ll just be leaving. Hate to be mobbed and run, but you know, got a lot to do.”

He nods, totally nonchalant. I may be outclassed. “Yeah, I bet. Lots of folks to slaughter, buildings to bomb, that kinda thing, yeah?”

I weigh the options, trying not to talk with my hands and failing. Damned ingrained habits. “Something like that. Probably lighter on the slaughter and heavier on the bombings. What with the whole ‘terrorist’ situation, you fuckers are hard to kill.”

Bossguy sighs and nods at scaryguy, who promptly steps into my cell and kicks me back onto the floor. I do not yell. Maybe just a little bit. Mostly I’m centered on the oh-my-fucking-god-PAIN thing, so I might not know what I’m talking about, but I don’t hear myself yelling until after I get a chance to stop seeing white. The porcupines take up residence in my head and shoulder and also, get issued napalm. Little spiny fuckers.

“I ain’t anybody’s terrorist, spacer. So. You’re Futatsu Walker.” He gives my rank and serial number, and the division I belong to, and the model of plane I fly. Well fuck me.

From somewhere – sure as hell not my brain, ‘cause that’s clearly not working at this point or I’d have shut up – I manage to retrieve the sentence, “Something seems kinda backwards about this.”

I don’t see him grin, being all sprawled on the floor, as you do, but I can hear it. “I’m not seein’ it, nope. See, way I got this situation worked out, the guy willin’ to give out the information don’t get beat up. You seem like a bright fella, you understand.”

Yeah, I understand, since this situation is not exactly new to me. These guys are smart though. Bothers me. Seem nice enough, too. It’s really gonna suck when I have to kill ‘em.

“Warning you, I’m trained in resisting torture.” ‘Course that doesn’t mean I’m actually good at it, and like I said, all it ever gets me is more bruises. Not like guys like me even ever get any top-secret shit to keep under wraps.

I pull myself up, keep my head as still as I can – feels like my brain’s sloshing around in my head, and it takes me a while to focus. Concussion: fun with sensory warp.

Bossguy nods. “Yeah see, I kinda figured. So I’m not gonna bother, right off, ‘less I hear you cursing my folks again.” Oh great… wait, what?

“That’s not how it’s supposed to go.” I don’t think. Could be wrong. Might be perceiving time backwards. That’d be kinda cool.

He shakes his head, and all of a sudden scaryguy is pulling me to an upright position. The fuck? Bossguy says, “Nah, wrong again. First I’m gonna give you some info, you’re gonna kindly not try to kill me, and then we’re gonna see who’s willing. After that, we go on to torture. If we need it. We usually don’t.”

I get upright in time to hear the end of that little speech and boggle. There’s a usual? “What the fuck?”

I’m kinda starting to hate that grin. Serious annoyance factor going on here. “Yeah, we get folks down like this a lot.” He nods at scaryguy significantly.

I pick up on this subtle sign instantly… momentarily… very slowly. Oh shut the hell up, I’m concussed. “…Tall-dark-and-fucked-in-the-head there was Spacer?”

Scaryguy says, “Yes, and I’m not anymore. Though I still do hate pilots.” He has a perfect Colony accent and the deepest voice I ever heard.

He also has a very specific attitude. “Oh fuck me, it’s infantry.”

His glare gets deeper. He’s gonna get wrinkles when he’s older. “I was Marines. Don’t even.”

“Thought Marines never left a guy behind? Fucking traitor,” I spit out. He hits me again. Something kind of cracks in what I think is probably my spine.

Bossguy clucks, which is just surreal. Sounds like someone’s grandma. “Both’a you shut it. Une here’s gonna give you some stuff that’ll give you a real life-changin’ experience, then I’m gonna come back, we’re gonna talk. You clear?”

Yeah, clear, even though the porcupines running races through my eye sockets are making it kinda hard to focus. “…Ow. Yeah. Clear. Fucked up, but clear.” I want to curse out the fucking traitor a bit better. Can’t though. Kind of fuzzy. Oh look, I’m halfway on the floor again. And I’m so going to have a black eye. Nice.

Bossguy rolls his eyes, I think. I’m losing focus. I will not pass out, dammit. “Yeah, you’re gonna fit right in,” he says. “Une, get him the folders, and for the love of Pete don’t let SingKueh in here ‘til after he’s had his revelation.” Marine-man walks out. I do not sigh in relief. I think.

Anyway so new information! I latch on to that to keep my brain from frying itself. “Who the hell’s SingKueh?”

Bossguy snickers. “Chinese guy, ‘bout your height, carries a sword.”

I know him! “That motherfucker shot me!” And it fucking hurt! And I completely forgot about it until right now! Fuck. Now my shoulder hurts even worse. It’s probably totally fucked up. Whee, that means seven hundred hours of physical therapy before I can even think about setting this whole damn place on fire.

Shrug. “You’re a bomber pilot.” Oh really. I’d forgotten. Damn, my sarcasm sucks right now.

“I wasn’t shooting at him,” I protest. Okay I was about half an hour before that, but then I got shot out of the fucking sky, so I think I made up for it, you know?

Bossguy gives me what I think is his calculating look, and I shiver. Because it’s cold. And I may or may not be in shock. “Yeah, that’s true. And you didn’t shoot the kids.”

“Oh man, that says…” deep breath to finish the sarcastic thought “…great things about your social system.” Bossguy shifts half a step closer and I do not edge back, I move to push myself back up against the wall. Because I’ve fallen on the floor again. Okay, that last bit’s actually true, I am so, so fucked. And he’s really tall. Though that could be just ‘cause I’m looking up from the floor of a fucking cell. I hate perspective.

He looks curious, not murderous. That’s scarier. Oh I am so killing him when I can stand up without crying like a little bitch. “None of us ever shoot kids. You folks, you shoot everything.”

Not like I’d have to if someone hadn’t decided it was time to blow a fucking colony out of the sky. “I don’t. Can we get this fucking over with?” I’m kinda looking forward to the unconsciousness bit now. Except for the bit where I have to wake up later.

“Not a problem. Just knock out for a while, Une’ll be back when you come to. Read. Talk to me when you’re done.” I have no idea what the fuck he’s talking about, and you know, I’d tell him so, but he’s kinda spinning and I don’t think he’d hear me from so far away and I don’t have the energy to shout…


I wake up, and it hurts. Like I didn’t expect that. Still.

At least it’s not porcupines anymore! Now, it’s sandpaper in the eyeballs, and pickaxe-bearing, combat-boot-wearing circus bears. In my head. Mother-fuck.

At least I’m tracking. I think. When I hear something outside the cinderblock wall – Christ, if I was in any shape to take anyone, I could waltz right on out of here – and my head whips around on instinct, I only yelp a little as the world turns forty-five degrees inside out. Forty-five degrees of pain.

But after that, I can focus. It’s Marine-man again. Whatsit. Une. Weirdass name. Not that I’m one to talk (thanks, Grandma). He’s got a file folder, beat-up old thing with a bunch of cheap newspaper in it.

He tosses it over at me and I just barely manage to smack it with the tips of my fingers – oh god why I just made a quick movement with my shot arm OW – and send the contents flying across the floor. “Fuck!” I swear to high heaven I’m usually more coordinated than this.

“Read those. Keep quiet ‘til you’re done,” he says, and settles himself back into the opening of the cinderblocks. He doesn’t put his back to me, and normally I’d say that’s smart, but seriously? I’d have trouble fighting off a concussed mosquito at this point. If I tried to knock him out, it’d be like the blooper reel to a slapstick comedy. Pick up cinderblock, spin around under its weight, flailing picturesquely, drop on toes, cry like five-year-old girl.

“Whatever, Groundie.” He growls – swear to God, growls, like the world’s most horrifying pit bull. I subside. Guess my sense of self-preservation is kicking in – didn’t know I had one of those.

So the papers are all Colony, Pacem Times, Inceptia Report – hang on a frickin’ minute, Inceptia? I check the date. It’s just two and a half days before the explosion.

I glare up at Marine-man. Are they trying to make me even more pissed off than I already am? There’s a reason I’m down here, dammit, and this is it.

He glares right back. There’s something to be said for the fuck-off power of a black eye and an open head wound, but his is still better. I look back at the paper, and force myself to focus on the text.

Nothing interesting. The clipped article is on the hydrogen-fusion energy cells. You know, the ones the Inceptia scientists were working on before the fucking groundie terrorists fucking blew up the fucking colony with every fucking civilian still on it. The ones that would’ve put us on Mars and let us get the hell out of Earth’s skies.

It’s cross-reffed to a bunch of the bits that Marine-man spilled all over the place – I am so not at fault for that, you don’t throw shit at a concussed guy unless you really want it broke. Don’t really feel like dragging myself all over the room to look ‘em up in order, so I grab the nearest. A piece of damn good repro military memo paper, signed and sealed – holy mother fucker of God.

This isn’t repro. No, that is sure as shootin’ the real thing. And it says, and I quote the important bits:

Operation Earthside: mission accomplished. Rebel planted.

And it’s signed by the fucking head of the UK Army. And it’s dated a day before the explosion.

I try for a laugh, but I wind up sounding like death with a head cold. “You guys got some good forgers, down here,” I say. Marine-man doesn’t dignify that with a verbal response. Yeah, so it was pretty weak. No way they’ve got the tools to do this kinda stuff down here. Not then, not now. I already figured that out: the actual head of the actual UK military sent this. To the actual head of the actual US army. A day before anyone ever capitalized the word ‘earthside’.

So everyone knows Earthside Rebel were the guys who brought down the Inceptia. I was only ten and I remember it damn well – hell, that’s when I decided I wanted to join the military. I used to go on field trips to Inceptia. My dad knew some people there. I saw it fall apart and burn up on reentry. I went to the funerals.

No one ever figured out how the groundies got in. There were all kindsa conspiracy theories, and here I am, holding the proof of the biggest one of all.

“Someone tell me I’m asleep,” I mutter, and shake the paper. Yeah, ‘cause my fucked-up brain is just hallucinating conspiracy shit – dammit, I never believed a word of it, always figured it was just social engineering and there were maybe two or three suicidal bastards on the colony – and it’ll resolve into something totally innocent if I just look at it right.

Marine-man says, “You woke up fifteen minutes ago.”

“Goddammit, I was trying to forget that,” I tell him. Glare. Maybe if I focus through the paper.

Nope. I grab the next article. The Mars project is postponed: there’s Earth to deal with first. Earthsiders keeping the crops, refusing to support the colonies, yeah, I remember that: fucking famine in the most developed time in man’s history. There’s a reason I’m so damn short.

So then we finally figure out the stupid space-worthy growing fields, get some supply colonies going, and there’s a whole fucking official paper trail that says shit like ‘postpone acknowledgement’ and ‘delicate situation’ and ‘sway public opinion’ and God damn it.

“Fuck!” Not eloquent. I’d hit the wall, but I don’t need any more breaks, so I just slam my head against it, very gently. “God-damned mother-fucking sons of camels’ prison bitches!” Better. I still need to hit something.

“Yeah, it’s kind of like that,” Marine-man says. He has a told-you-so smirk on. I could hit him. That’d be cathartic. I probably look like I’m about to try, because he says, “If I hit you again, you’ll stay down. Don’t.” Like I have a choice.

“Real tough, Marine. You usually threaten guys when they’re down with cracked ribs and a broken leg?” I fucking hate torturers so much. I also hate traitors. …Fuck. I think I’m about to have to hate myself.

He does that growly thing again. “I don’t usually have to hit people more than once.”

I believe it, but dammit, I do not let it show. “Oh right, sorry, tough guy. Didn’t mean to insult your mad beating-defenseless-prisoners skillz.” It is one of my virtues that I get more sarcastic when I’m terrified. It’s probably a good thing he doesn’t know me well enough to know that.

There’s a light footstep in the hallway before he can pull his brain cell together for a witty comeback. That’s not Bossguy’s walk, so… huh. I did have a revelation, after all.

My suspicions are confirmed when a sword-hilt and shiny black hair come into view. I can’t remember his name, but it’s my Chinese swordsman. The one who put a bullet in my shoulder.

Which shrieks as I try to pull myself into a less pathetic-looking position - I’m going to put a bullet through his eye. Okay it’s gonna be a shame, ‘cause they are damn good-looking eyes, but I am still going to do it.

He looks over Marine’s shoulder, glaring down at me. Fuck. So maybe I’m not, actually.

“You’ve figured it out?” he says, with a clipped UK-groundie accent. I glare right back. I think I’ve got him beat, though he gets points for being, you know, standing upright.

“Yeeeeeah, I think I got it,” I say. “You guys should look into getting a bigger circulation.” Bigger than ‘people you’ve nearly killed and are keeping captive in a jury-rigged prison’.

“We’ve tried. Each time, we find ourselves fighting enemies from above,” short-dark-and-Chinese says. It’s damn impressive how much ice you can get into a UK accent.

I try to shrug, wince, and settle for a sort of quirk of the eyebrows. Even that hurts. And I don’t think I’m getting back to the infirmary anytime soon. At least I won’t have to resist the temptation of sweet, blessed morphine that way.

Short-dark-and-Chinese does not seem impressed by my massive skills in reparte. Do something about that later. “So I guess you’re done with me here? I think I have some angst scheduled in about an hour. You know, brainwashed by the system, oh-god-what-have-I-done.” Yeah so that may not have been as sarcastic as I’d’ve liked it.

“Do it here,” Marine says. SDaC says nothing. I maybe shouldn’t be developing a crush on the guy who shot me... ah whatever. He’s probably straight as a laser.

“Not the best place for it, you know? I mean it’s a great place! Brilliant decoration with the misspelled lewd graffiti and I tell you the fallen cinderblocks and the open indefensibility of the place make it an exquisite contemplation on the true nature of freedom, but for a proper angst, you need, you know. Empty space. Rain falling on your head, dirty shoes, wind in your hair. In short, the outside world.” I think I stole part of all that straight out of something I wrote in middle school. You know how everyone goes through that emo phase? Mine had poetry.

Marine never wrote poetry. You can tell because he’s actually trying to make sense of what I just said. SDaC, on the other hand, knows bullshit when he hears it. I like that in a guy.

“You’ll manage. You’ll also stay here until we’ve decided what to do with you.” By his expression, he’d be perfectly happy if he was ordered to string me up by the nuts until dead. I’d be kind of less so.

“I’m sure I’d be all kinds of helpful in making that decision,” I tell him. Who designed the human face so it stops working when it gets hit? My charming grin is not working properly. On the other hand, this guy could probably resist Marilyn fucking Monroe, so I don’t waste my time feeling bad about it. Continue with the brave, if kind of stiff and swollen, face in adversity.

“You’re not helping anything. Une, keep him quiet.” He stalks off.

“Aw, dammit.” I slide back onto the wall. My shoulder twinges. Oh yeah, I had some revenge to take. Maybe later. Hey it sort of counts as revenge if I talk him into a good fuck, right?

So now I have nothing to do past re-read the communiques – which just makes me pissed off to the point that I slap the floor, which wasn’t high on my list of the best ideas I’ve ever had – and my only company is a guy who might as well be made out of tungsten.

I sit there for a while and emote pain and distress. Doesn’t work. I try bordom. Not a twitch does he give. Doesn’t even blink when I flop onto my good shoulder and try to grab some sleep. Fifteen minutes later I spend all the energy thus gained getting back into a sitting position.

“So. Marine. What’d you do to get the staring at prisoners gig?” I ask him, eventually. I think that might have been the slightest raising of an eyebrow! Fascinating. I press on in the name of research.

“I mean you were Spacer so you must’ve done something to get in their good books. Your boss kind of has trust issues.” Now he looks like he’s trying to decide if that’s close enough to an insult that he can hit me again, so I back off a bit.

On the upside, after a slight pause where that braincell works overtime to get the thought lined up with the mouth, he says, “Took care of something for them. Spy work.”

This killer worked as a spy? Fuck. Well, hell, I wouldn’t question a guy like him – okay so I would, but most people aren’t as buckfuck crazy as I am. On the other hand I’d be a shitty spy so that way out is not going to do so hot for me.

I tell him this, and he shrugs one shoulder. Helpful, extremely helpful. “So you think there’s any other kind of thing I could take care of? I can do tricks. Juggling, precision sniping, areospace engineering, I make a mean chicken alfredo-“ he looks up at me all sharp-eyed and I stop cold. Scary Marine is fucking scary.

“Tricks, huh?” he asks, looking interested for the first time. I bump my estimation of the cardinality of his neurons up to three. Unaware of my rising opinion of him, he clicks something on his belt – and you will not believe me but I swear to God, it’s an old-fashioned walkie-talkie, with a speaker/reciever and static and everything – and says, “Boss, need you here.” Then he clicks it off.

“Boss?” I ask.

“You met him.” Hah. I guess I guessed right. I knew he was in charge. Guy like that didn’t get that way taking orders.

“So what, you think he’s going to be terribly impressed by my stovetop skills?” I kind of hope so. On the other hand it’s probably as hard to get parmesan down here as it is to get titanium alloy, so maybe I should just let it be – nah.

Marine’s glare changes fractionally from ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about’ to ‘stop taking the piss’. I shut up, but only ‘cause I can hear stomping footsteps down the hall.

Boss walks in, looks at Marine, looks at me. I shrug and give a halfassed finger-wave. He rolls his eyes.

“Tell him what you said,” Marine says.

“The bit about the alfredo, or the bit about the trust issues?” I ask. God, do I ever listen before I open my mouth – wait, does that make sense? Never mind, doesn’t matter, it’s not making Boss like me any better.

“Sounds like you two had quite the conversation,” he drawls. “You got something useful or do I just fuck off ‘til you get bored again?” Marine glowers at me. Well, don’t want to make the guy with the big muscles mad at me. For the moment.

“Probably what he wants me to say is either ‘I’m a crack shot’ or ‘I built my own damn jet’. Both of which are true,” I toss off, casual-like. Hey, down here I might even get to reverse-engineer the new stealth shit! It’s all kinds of illegal upstairs, but hell, these guys are already getting bombs dropped on ‘em, so how much more damage can a little bit of copyright violation do?

Boss is impressed! Or maybe not, it’s hard to tell since his default expression is stuck on ‘tolerant skepticism’. I had a teacher like that in the eighth grade and I never knew if I was in trouble or not ‘til she was calling my parents in. Again. You know, being trapped in an open cell by a single representative of a backwards terrorist disorganization is significantly less embarassing than a parent-teacher conference in which you have to explain you really didn’t know the ceiling was inflammable.

Anyway, he says, “You built that? Shit, I almost feel bad about it now.” My stomach goes kind of watery. Must not sound weepy-emotional over my ship. Pissed-the-fuck-off-emotional is fine, though.

“What the hell did you do to my Stella?” I ask him. He does not look at all like he is feeling bad about something.

He shrugs. “SP is gutting it and taking it apart for scrap, but there wasn’t enough left of the computers or the skin to make it worthwhile. We flamethrowered it and scavenged the ceramics.”

“Fuck you! She took six years to get spaceworthy!” So okay about three of those were spent telling folks in bars ‘hey, I have a shuttlejet waiting for flight rights, wanna see my cockpit’ – that line works more often than you’d think – but seriously. “You killed my ship!”

“I ain’t the one who was flyin’ her,” he says. “Think of it like burnt bridges.”

“Burnt bridges I can get the fucking wood for, there’s no way I’m getting hold of enough titanium down here – or the workspace – damn it!” I am not going to pound my head against the wall in frustration, I am not, I am not – ow. Aw, fuck it, I’ll heal. Stella won’t. Nanobots aren’t that good yet, though dammit, they should be, it’s been like half a fucking century.

He does the smirking thing again. “Yeah, he’s an engineer. All good, we’ll put him with SingKueh and he can fix those damn fuel lines, we’ll see what he’s got.” Marine shrugs.
I can almost feel my knuckles slamming into Boss’s scarred-up cheekbone. I bet I could get out a tooth. Maybe he’s got a glass jaw.

“Still conscious,” I remind him, since, you know, I can hardly move right now so the only fighting I can do is verbal. “SingKueh’s the guy who tried to dismember me. Not conducive to a good working environment.”

“Most of us’ll be after your blood, spacer, but he won’t be if I tell him not to,” he says. Looks kinda bored. Wonder how many times he’s given this lecture? At least one – hell, it probably took a couple of times for it to take in musclehead here’s skull, so he must’ve gotten in some practice.
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[ profile] fullaquirkes is cruel and killed Schuu and broke my universe. ;.; So I needed to put down some canon. Here it is. This one, too, threatens to develop plot. Sometime between the end of the war and meeting Nadia.

Estoy asustada. I should not be but I am, I am the strong young new face of Earth, ambassador to las colonias, peace-maker, leader, and I am terrified out of my mind.

I wish ‘Tatsu were here, or SingKueh, or Boss. Especially Boss. I have Schuu, and that is and should be enough to keep me standing tall, but it is not enough to make me unafraid. I have no one to hide behind, literally or figuratively. I am the highest authority I can appeal to.

I only wanted to protect what was mine. I did not ask to be a leader. But I am. I am going now to the top of the world, to the places that man built and used to destroy, the places that I helped change – no, revolutionize, and so is it any wonder I am scared?

I do not look it, though I am sure Schuu and Ross and Maddox can recognize it. Hali maybe not, but then I have just told her she is to lead for me while I am Skyside. She has her own fear.

Sivier is a good pilot, and takeoff is not rocky, but he is not as good as ‘Tatsu and also, I cannot stop wishing for solid ground beneath my feet. I may be crushing Schuu’s hand. He is not complaining, but he would not even if I cracked bone, until I was past the need for him. Lo amo but my puppy, he is often another big, scary responsibility.

We dock also simply, and without shaking. I have Sivier, Kir, and Schuu with me, all people I can count on to protect me and good with blades. That is important, because I am not and you cannot carry a gun on a colony, where vaccuum is only a few metres away at all times. I should not think of that.

Kir gets out, then Schuu, then me, with Sivier behind us locking up his ship. There is a welcoming committee, three women older than me and two men in suits who look nearly as intimidating as my bodyguards do.

I put on my best eager, determined smile, and greet them. “Hello. Call me Rela – you are President Wilcox?” I ask the woman at the head of the group. I know she must be, though I have not seen a picture in a while. She has more lines about her eyes.

“Yes, Ms President,” she says. I shake my head.

“Just Rela, please, Madame President.” We shake hands. She has no calluses, long nails. I cannot remember the last time I shook hands with someone with long nails.

“This is Schuu,” I say, “And Kir, and Sivier.” They nod, no handshaking. President Wilcox introduces the two women on either side of her as Laolei Nather, Secretary of the Left, and Desca Flint, Head of the Earthside Relations Committee. Her bodyguards do not get an introduction. They stare at us instead. They are not good at it.

“We’ll show you around a bit first,” the President says. “Since this is your first time on the colonies, you’ll want to know what’s what, I expect.”

“That would be wonderful,” I say, though I do not think so. I am only here as long as it takes to work out a trade agreement with this government, and I will not stay a moment longer. I do not care what is what. I only care what will get me a steady supply of aereospace engineering materials, clear airspace and refiner nanobot access.

Madame President takes us through the diplomatic-approved spaces, the biospheres, the big buildings that span across the diameter of the colonies. Through the low-grav catwalks and the viewing windows where you can watch the ‘Earthrise’.

I call everything fascinating and excellent and a wonderful example of the kinds of things humankind can do when we are of one mind. I think she does not realize how sarcastic I am being.

We happen to run into a large amount of members of the governing body, whatever they are calling it now. Senate? Yes, Senate. One President as head-of-state, an elected eight-person oligarchy as head-of-executive-branch, and one hundred thirty-two minority representatives. Dauntless is from the old United States, if I am remembering my history correctly.

I perform my diplomat smile, my diplomat speeches, my diplomat perfect handshake. I am good at this, and maybe I should worry about that. Later.

‘Later’, defined as ‘too late to do anything useful but too early to sleep’, Secretary Nather shows us to a small suite of rooms, Madame President having given us to her two hours ago when she realized she had more productive things to do with her time.

The Secretary shows us around, and Kir and Sivier position themselves at a chair by the window and the wall by the door, then wait. Schuu shows the Secretary out.

The doors shut behind us, and I count to twenty before I collapse on the bed and shout, “I cannot do this!” into the mattress. Schuu sits down beside me.
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Faerie stories. Who these two are is not actually important. Only a few of these are real superstitions. 411 words.

Because there are things deeper than his own little life, the rider is careful. Never walk under a ladder, don’t follow the lights at night, never get between two mirrors. There are reasons.

He doesn’t have to worry it much though. Where he is now, nights are black and there is nothing to climb to and he hasn’t seen a mirror in six months, and wouldn’t look in it if he had. And his partner, he knows, too, and because his partner was born fast he doesn’t even have to think about the rituals anymore, just does them natural as breathing. Pour salt on tilled land if it spills, never look over your shoulder at a sunset, never hold a horseshoe upside-down.

The rider runs sand through his fingers in place of salt and hopes it holds. He resolutely looks ahead when he drives the herd east at dusk. Cross your fingers when you say someone’s name, put your shoes wrong way ‘round at night, don’t walk where a cat or fox has been.

Still he sees her, in the sixth or eighth week of driving. It’s sunset, and he hears something behind him; he glances back and stops, wheeling his horse. His partner flinches back, already picking up sand to throw in his eyes, but it’s too late; he’s caught the vision.

Later, when he’s drunk, the rider tells his partner, “a woman on a horse, but not on so much as of. She was part of it and it was part of her, and neither of them had the sense of a real horse and rider,” and his partner nods and says nothing, because the rider has told him this near fifty times now, dancing around the same wording every time.

It happens in just a moment, and after, the rider is as if it had never been; he blinks, fixes the loose tether that caused his distraction, and turns back to the trail. His partner gives a deep sigh of resignation, because he’s lost good men to this before. The rider looks solid as ever, but he has the wind and the fire in his soul.

When they reach the next town he tells anyone who will listen about what he’s seen. And when they’re going back, headed through the slow honey-coloured desert, their faces to the sunset, he does not stop when his partner turns to the south, but continues to the red edge of the sand.
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Yep, this happened.

Once, Wild and Kaos are drifting aimlessly through Neptune’s atmosphere, still wired from a sparring match. Kaos is always a little more open, less of the hardened warrior, at these times.

Kaos tells her that they once died together – the two of them, and Destiny, who hasn’t come back to them yet. Wild doesn’t remember it. She only remembers her time as a wolf.

Kaos has had a few lifetimes since then, and she tells Wild the story.

There was a tear, a break in this universe, she says. The kind of distortion that a black hole produces, with nothing at the center – true nothing, emptiness that shouldn’t be able to exist, she adds, and shudders when she says it. It had to be repaired, but it would take a great deal of power – three lives’ worth of power. The Lioness made the choice: Virgo, Aquarius, and Pisces did the honors. Together, they gave their memories up, and their powers with them.

“That is that star,” she says, and points upward, to a brilliant point of light just sunward of Orion. “Our lives.”

Wild contemplates the star. “Was is worth it?”

With no hesitation, Kaos answers, “Yes.”

Wild is unable to be so sure.
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It seems that I need to split my canon off from my fanfic, because I often decide later that old fics are out of character. Therefore retcons whee! But this? This is canon. Caution: may contain plot.

Kaos is out flying patrol when she all but slams into Fury’s floating castle. She spins backward, orienting herself to it. It’s both larger and darker than it was when it was still part of Mars. Fury is no longer what she was, and her home shows that. Even the aura – Kaos can hardly see the place.

She doubles back, because the first thing she should do is tell the Lady Leo that she’s found her sister. She doesn’t get far, though. Before she can get far enough away to teleport, something big and black and sharp runs into her and she has to spin on a wing-tip and get her feet on the castle, so that the stars are ‘up’.

The castle walls, old as the planets, are a dull ache through the soles of her boots. She stays down anyway, quietly bringing her staff to bear – she’ll take the discomfort for the cover offered by the decorations.

The big black sharp thing is one of Fury’s ravens, Kaos doesn’t know which. Doesn’t matter. It will have recognized her and that it’ll be wanting to take her to its master. She isn’t planning on going. She has no idea what Fury is capable of.

Behind her, something twitches on the edge of her perception. A wing and a shadow – the other raven. The distraction is just enough that the first one is able to dive toward her before she can attack. She swings her staff half-circle and uses the momentum to get out of its way, but it catches her on the leg. Broken.

It’ll heal but she can’t touch down. The other comes up beneath her in the half-second it takes her to assess the injury and flies straight into the blade of her staff. It screams, and feathers fly everywhere as it disappears.

It’ll have gone right back to Fury, but she can’t worry about that right now, there’s the first one to worry about and it’s on her all of a sudden and just as she brings her foot down on its wing, the shadows of the castle itself come out for her and her wings get fouled up in their blackness. She struggles, but it’s useless. Fury is a lot older than she is.

“Kaos,” she hears, and freezes, trying impossibly to hide her aura. Fury strides up the side of the castle with heels clicking, wearing a completely impractical dress of black silk and lace. Of course, she doesn’t need to be practical. This is her territory, and Kaos has just trespassed. If Fury wants her dead, she has very little choice in the matter.

“I wonder if you came here deliberately. But then you won’t tell me, will you?”

Kaos shakes her head and returns her mind to the somewhat futile task of getting her wings free.

“That’s okay, I’m sure I can talk for both of us.” Fury leans forward. “I want to know why you’re still on Leo’s side.”

Kaos ignores her, or tries to. She’s heard this argument a hundred times before and she doesn’t intend to start paying attention to it now, but Fury is very attention-getting. Especially when her shadows are pressing Kaos against her castle wall, and she’s about two inches from Kaos’s face.

“My sister is dangerous to us. She’s irrational. Uncaring. Despotic, even. Haven’t you noticed? How did you get those scars, Kaos? How have you died, the last three times? Don’t bother answering, I know.”

Kaos died, an uncountable number of times, doing her duty. The last time her body was two hundred and three and she threw herself in the path of an oncoming fire spell. The time before last her body was ninety-eight and the last thing she remembers is grabbing the cut ends of a thread that was supposed to have magic running through it. Three lives ago… she doesn’t remember. Oh, she knows, but that memory is gone along with everything before it.

Her face hasn’t moved, she’s sure, but Fury smiles when Kaos gets to that bit of her mental narrative. “You gave up your entire memory for her. You, and Destiny, and Wild, gave up a total of two and a half thousand years’ worth of built-up power and memory for a supernova that would close the gap between our universe and a parasite universe.” Fury’s face grows sharp, her eyes looking at something even Kaos can’t see. “Do you know why? It was on her say-so.”

“If she ordered it, it was necessary,” Kaos says.

Fury snorts. “No. No it wasn’t. She’s had her memory for more than eight thousand years. Right from the start. If she’d done it, it would have only been her who died. She asked you to do what she wouldn’t dream of doing.”

“I am loyal to the Lioness,” Kaos repeats.

“You didn’t get reincarnated for eighty years after that. You were lucky. Wild came back sixteen years ago as a wolf. A wolf! Her soul was so weak that she became an animal. And who knows how long it’ll be before Destiny returns to us,” Fury says. Her voice rises in pitch, her aura stabbing out wildly. “Your loyalty is to a woman who thinks you’re disposable!”

Kaos fixes her eyes on a point out in space and says nothing.

“You shut down when you’re out-argued. I had more respect for your stars, Virgo.” Bitterness, mostly, tinges Fury’s tone.

“I knew this, Aries,” Kaos replies.

“Then why haven’t you joined me yet?” Fury asks, but she’s defeated. The shadows start sliding away from her, letting her wings free to move. She tests them, preparing to fly off.

“Leo is the one to lead us. It’s in our stars.”

“You of all people know how mutable the stars are.” Yes, she sounds bitter. Not angry, but resigned, and her aura stops spiking, coiling in on itself like a snake.

“Those haven’t changed.” Kaos spreads her wings and takes to the sky again.

“Everything changes, Kaos. Everything,” Fury says, but Kaos barely hears her.
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I shall probably never again invent a new twist on anything. Ah well. Enjoy the vampirism.

“Don’t be an idiot. You can’t go out here at night.”

Annas sighs and closes the curtain, looking back at Maria as the shaft of moonlight disappears. “I’ll be all right. I’m not so marked that anyone will notice…”

“It’s not even that. This town gets dangerous after darkup, especially…” she stops; it’s hard for her to say it, even after Annas has told her so many times that,

“It’s Darks, Maria. You may as well learn to use the word. And of course it’s that; what else would it be?” Annas leans against the windowframe, pushing back into the curtains.

It’s dark in here except for the dying fire and the two candles on the mantel; though the moon is bright, the curtains are velvet and the room is done in ebony and dark brick.

In the daylight, it’s a rundown place, full of cobwebs and termite holes and the scuff marks and dirt of age. In the dark, it suits Maria immensely.

“I just can’t see how you can say that about yourself. I mean, you’re less dark, I guess, now, than you were before you were…” Annas can guess that she’s twisting her fingers, a common nervous habit of hers.

“Turned, Maria. And no, I’m not, really. I can’t see you right now, you know that?” Maria’s gasp is distressing, and Annas knows how she feels. It had been a struggle to admit that about herself, and she has the stubbed toes and skinned knees to prove it.

“You can’t see in the dark?” Maria asks, and Annas nods – Maria can still see her, at least.

“But I tried yesterday – I can see in the daytime. It didn’t even hurt, that much,” she says, remembering the feeling of sun on her face. She’d never felt that much warmth, or seen that much light all at once, before, and it’d been absolutely terrifying, but, well…

“You went out in the sun?” Maria’s appalled tone is what Annas had expected, but it still stings, just a bit. It’s all but blasphemy to talk about daywalking.

“Yeah. It, you know, it wasn’t all that bad.” She pushes further into the curtains, letting them cover her more completely. The thick velvet – the only thing in this part of the house that’s new, because true blackout curtains are a necessary part of life – was comfortable this time last week. Now it feels suffocating, which is a new and unpleasant experience.

Maria’s crossed the room in less than the time it takes to blink and is running her hands over Annas’s arms and face. “Are you sure you’re not injured? No burns?” Maria’s father died from sun exposure, so Annas isn’t surprised that she’s worried, but she doesn’t need to worry about that. Not anymore.

“I’m all right. That, at least, heals fast. But it leaves my skin darker – I guess that’s where we got the name,” she says.

Maria’s hands are cold on hers, which she’s never noticed before, and Maria is most likely just as shocked by how warm Annas is. Her hands, almost of their own accord, move to Annas’s wrists, then her throat, and finally come to rest over her heart.

“It’s beating. You have a heartbeat. But that means you’re not…” she doesn’t finish the sentence, so Annas does it for her.

“Not dead. I know. I’m alive now. Like bait. That’s what Darks are – bait that used to be vampire. That’s what I am.” It’s the first time she’s actually said it, and it’s not quite the release she’d hoped it would be.

Annas has always been stronger than Maria, but now her friend has her wrists in what feels like an unbreakable grip. “Annas, you shouldn’t have come here,” she says, her voice lower and closer than Annas had hoped.

“Just because I’m alive doesn’t mean you have to eat me,” she says, and hopes to high heaven she’s telling the truth.

Maria shakes her head and steps back. “You’re absolutely right, of course. I’m sorry. It’s just so weird. Who else knows?”

“Just you and my parents,” Annas says. “I’m going to have to leave – I can’t stay on this rock. There’s too many of us – of you – and not enough bait for me to stay alive.”

“So if you die again, you stay that way? Blood won’t bring you back?”

Annas shakes her head, her thumb pressing into the brand-new pulse point on her wrist. “Nope. I have to make the stuff myself now, I gather. So if that process stops, so do I.”

“And there’s no way to turn you back.”

“None whatsoever. Darksblood is powerful stuff.” She’s done so much research, but there really is no way to turn a Dark back into what she was before.

“Where are you going to go?” Maria is farther away now, probably sitting on the couch, trying to get away from the smell of Annas’s blood.

Annas shrugs. “I thought maybe Yigeron? There’s enough people in and out of there that I won’t be too stand-out, at least.” She would’ve been a week ago, because the children of the Dragon all have beauty and grace beyond any other people – and she is noticing that so much more these days, with her clumsy living reflexes and her useless eyes – but now she’s boring by anyone’s standards, and if she can stop tripping over herself she won’t attract any attention.

“Yigeron’s tropical, isn’t it? You’ll be… oh, I guess you won’t. Sorry.”

Yeah, she’ll be better off away from here. “I’m going now. I promise not to get eaten on the way to the dock,” she says. She wants to be there before darkdown so she can get on the first ship leaving. She just wanted to say goodbye before she left.

“All right, then,” Maria says, slowly. “Goodbye, then. I guess.”

“Yeah, that’s it. ‘Bye. I’ll come back to visit sometime,” she says. She’s lying. She turns the doorknob and takes a step into the street; Maria moves to the door without apparently covering the intervening space.

“I’ll hold you to that. At least write me a letter. Not in blood.” That’s always been kind of an in-joke ever since Annas wrote with her dinner instead of drinking it when she was about twelve.

“Not even someone else’s?” she asks lightly. Maria’s laugh is a touch strained.

“I thought Darks had rules about that,” she says. Annas deliberates.

“Bait does, but I don’t think Darks do,” she says. “We’re a bit off, you see. Think we used to be dragon-children.” Her fangs haven’t changed, and the grin she gives is all the more worrying for coming from an otherwise normal face. “Maybe I’ll send you a nice Mainland boy. I hear they’re delicious down there.”

The laugh this time is genuine, and Annas pulls her cloak around her and sets off.
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Sorry for the spam, but you know how it is. More Kylie and Daven - Kylie is probably going to show up a lot more, Daven may not.

You come down twice a week and ask about the Dawn Flash, which nearly never comes into port. It’s been six years, now, since the last time. Before that it was two, and before that, three and a half.

You wake on a grey-skied chilling morning and you know, just on instinct, that you have to go down today. You go to put on the shirt she saw you in last time, but something in you makes you reach for more stable, more standard clothes. Thick canvas and rivets, hobnailed boots, a herder’s uniform. You want to run to the docks but you turn out the horses and move the sheep first.

The Dawn Flash is there when you reach it and the dockworkers, who know you well by now, give you congratulations and admire her lines. She’s a beautiful ship, all sleek and elegant in fresh, white wood without a nest on it. You know little of ships and care nothing for its speed or maneuverability, too concerned with searching its deck for your wife.

She sees you before you see her, and shouts down to you. You grin and wave back. She’s always been beautiful just like her ship, sleek, wild, whipped thin by the wind. No lord or master but herself, captain of her ship and constant wanderer, she’s nearly gone feral. The wind flashes in her eyes, evident in every bit of silver around her wrists or in her hair, the wild smile she gives you.

She jumps from the prow of the ship and you catch her like a mountain in the path of a storm. You kiss her, and she kisses right back, tasting like rum and salt and the metallic tang of snow. You haven’t smiled in a year and a half and your face hurts, but now you’ve started, you can’t stop.

“I was starting to worry you wouldn’t be back,” you say, teasing but honest. She shrugs.

“It weren’t so long for us, we got stranded in some slow time. I ha’en’t aged but a year and eight months since last I saw you,” she tells you. You’ve heard of slow time but it sounds like a skies story to you, the kind of thing sailors tell after too much beer. You tell her so.

“So maybe it is, maybe it ain’t, I just know it were real. You ha’en’t e’er heard time’s all to do with where you are?”

You shake your head, and make to step off the docks; but she lets her feet touch ground, just barely. “You know I can’t.” It’s only here, on the docks, that you can meet her, at this place between air and land. She won’t come closer to stone and you can’t set foot onto sky.

“It’s not much of a marriage, is it?” you ask her, for the seventh time, because you have this same conversation every time she docks.

“Nay, it is, Daven. I love you – you know, don’t ya?” she says, and once again, you reassure her, and repeat the words back. They’re true. Your love for her spirals high as the skies and that does not change, even if you’re both on opposite ends of the world.

“I have to unload her,” she says, nodding to the Dawn, “but stay, or come back tonight.”

“Of course,” you say, and she kisses you again and leaves you to sit on a barrel and chain-smoke while she flits around the rigging, shouting orders to her crew.
freosan: (Default)
So it turns out that every time I do a NaNo, I get another universe. Actually every time I hear a new song/read a new book/have an interesting dream/come across a concept/breathe I get another universe, so perhaps this should not come as a total surprise. Anyway, here is a story from a world made up of countries and towns floating in mid-air.

“I’m going on that ship.”

Daven was standing on the dock of Aurn Harbor, looking out to sea without much interest, when Kylie made her pronouncement. He looked up. She was balanced on the dock-ropes, standing on two thin braids of cotton with her skirts hiked up to her knees and her eyes fixed on the mainmast of the Swimming Eagle, the fastest ship to dock in Aurn.

He flicked the ash off the end of his cigarette and eyed her skeptically. “Girls on a ship are bad luck.”

She gave him a look of disgust worthy of the Empress. “I am not a girl. I am a woman. And I’m a better sailor than any three boys you can name.”

“Maybe we know that, but the crew doesn’t, and sailors are a superstitious lot.”

She smirked, then, and looked dangerous, despite her frilly blouse and pink skirts. “It’ll be much worse for them not to have me.”

Daven thought she was probably right.


She was. Daven hasn’t seen her in seven months: twice the amount of time of a standard voyage. The day she left, he sent her off with a kiss and a promise to be waiting. He’s waiting now, on the docks of Aurn Harbor, though the sun’s burning hot and the air’s filled with the stench of a thousand sweating sailors and a thousand thousand dead fish.

The ship she set out on – not the Eagle, despite her protests, but a smaller one called the Areomaid – is supposed to dock today. He doesn’t hold out much hope she’ll actually be on it, but he did promise.


She came to his house three months later, and the first thing she sad to him was, “Told you I was going to sky.”

“You told me you were going on the Eagle.”

Kylie flipped her hands back and forth, signifying the utter irrelevance she attached to that fact. “Eagle, ‘Maid, it’s all the same air. Like my outfit?”

“It’s not very regulation, is it?”

She laughed and turned so he could get a full view. She was wearing an old green skirt, hacked off at the knee, over men’s trousers and leather boots half a size too big for her. Her formerly-white shirt was tucked in with a myriad of leather belts, at least one of which was meant to hold a sword.

“Areomaid isn’t as strict about all that. It’s not like I signed on with those stuffy bastards in the Queen’s Guard – oh, sorry,” she said with a smirk. Daven sighed. She’d been mocking him ever since she’d found out that he’d decided to enlist in the elite corps.

“At least I don’t look like an explosion in a tanner’s, oh great captain,” he drawled.

“Hah! That was almost snappy. Another six weeks and we’ll have you up to clever!” she declared. He rolled his eyes at her.

She sat on his table and looked him in the eye. “Look, I’m leaving tomorrow at sunrise, all right? I want you to be there.” She fidgeted with her hair, as if the effort of being serious was frustrating her.

“I’ll be on the docks by sunrise, then,” he said. She burst forth from her perch and nearly knocked him over hugging him. “Relax, woman! Damn.”

“Psst, Daven. I’ve got a secret,” she whispered in his ear, after she’d gotten him pinned to the bed.

“Oh really?” he asked. “Is this like when you told me there was pirate treasure at the bottom of Lock Lake? Because that was kind of painful.”

“Noooo, it’s actually true this time.” She pushed herself off of him so there was enough distance to look in his eyes. “Want to know?”

He actually kind of did, so he didn’t say anything, just smiled at her until she got impatient.

“I’m going to marry you. When I get back,” she said.

He was stunned momentarily while she giggled at his expression. “You’re right, that was a secret,” he managed, eventually.

“And it’s absolutely true,” she assured him.

“I don’t even get to say yes or no?” he asked, pulling her down to lie beside him again.

“You know what your answer would’ve been,” she said, and he had to admit she was right.


So of course he’d been on the docks, and she’d left him, and he’s been in the Guard for seven months and she’s been at sea, and now he’s snuck out when he’s supposed to be drilling to see her come back. So she’d better be here this time.

He lights another cigarette as some ship he’s never heard of before lands and the crew starts throwing ropes in to dock. He’s not looking for her there, of course, so when he hears…

“Daven! Aren’t ye gonna at least wish me safe landin’?”

…He drops the cigarette and stares.

She’s hanging off the rigging like she was born there, looking down at him. He wouldn’t have recognized her had it not been for the grin. Her hair’s lighter and longer, with beads and bits braided into it; her clothing’s all been replaced with items of stained brocade and water-crushed velvet; her skin’s tanned and worn and she’s gotten a few small scars on her cheek.

But her smile’s the same, and her voice, though accented, is the same, and she jumps off the ship and lands on him like a ton of bricks in exactly the same way as she always has.

He doesn’t fall over this time – the Guard’s taught him that much. He catches her and kisses her instead. She tastes like saltwater and rum.

“I don’t need to if you’re going to land like that,” he tells her. She laughs at him.

“’Ave ye seen my ship? She’s gorgeous, ain’t she?” she asks. “Well, she ain’t mine as yet, but she’s gonna be, you wait.” Halfway through her sentence she slips back into her old voice, which sounds odd coming out of her new face.

“She’s lovely, yes,” Daven says. He knows nothing about ships but this one doesn’t look like much, especially next to the Navy’s Eliza II docked next to it.

“You haven’t got a clue, actually, and she looks ruddy awful,” Kylie informs him with a wink. “We’ll have her shipshape in no time flat, though. She’s the Kelvin, and she’s a lot faster than she looks, S’truth. But look, I’ve got things to do up there – I’ll meet you here in a half hour, right?” She doesn’t wait for an answer, but jumps onto one of the docking ropes and walks up it casually.

He’s got half an hour. Right. He doesn’t think that’s enough time to come to terms with the fact that his fiancée has become a pirate.


“So what got into you, anyway? That Kelvin is no Navy ship. You deserted!” he rails at her, forty-five minutes later, after they’ve gotten back to his house and he’s served her tea. She glowers at him defiantly from over her porcelain cup.

“Yes, I did. What of it? The captain of the Areomaid was disgusting,” she tells him. “Not to mention the crew all thought that there was only one purpose for a woman onboard – the only other women I saw in four months were dock whores. The rations were awful, punishment random and extreme, and eventually, I’d had it.” She puts her cup down and looks up, daring him to comment. He glares right back and takes another drag – he’s been chain-smoking since she landed. Too much stress.

“You’re still not supposed to desert. It’s kind of punishable by death. By hanging. Which is unpleasant. I shouldn’t even be talking to you right now, I should be reporting you –“ he stops at her look, waving his hands “–Not that I’m going to, but you know, these are the things you force me to think about when -”

“All right, then, come off with me and you won’t have to anymore,” she says. He stops midsentence and midflail, stares at her, changes his hand gesture into something that he hopes expresses the level of oh you have got to be kidding me that her offer has induced in him.

She correctly interprets his expression, and says, “Well, you wouldn’t have to worry about what’s going to happen when you go back to camp today,” in the sort of eminently reasonable tone that one would use to talk about, perhaps, choosing class schedules. Not deserting and going pirate.

“I’m not going to sail under a pirate flag! I don’t sail at all, anyway, and stop giving me that smirk,” he says, in response to her sparkling expression. “It’s impossible.”

“You’re no fun, you know that?” she says. “I wanted a pirate wedding.”

He nearly swallows his cigarette.

“That was a joke, Daven. You really wouldn’t?” she says. He knows those puppydog eyes are practiced and they don’t look half so sweet with kohl smeared around them, but dammit, he’s weakening.

“I’m sorry, Kylie, but I’m not marrying a pirate. I’m not becoming a pirate. It’s not what I’d expected when you got back,” he says. It is, of course, the wrong thing to say. She stands up.

“Please accept my deepest apologies for not bein’ the same li’l girl you been pining after,” she says, as sarcastically as he’s ever heard her.

“That’s not what I meant, Kylie, come on,” he says.

“I ain’t gonna ask what you did mean. Don’t much care, either. I’ll be goin’ now,” she says, and matches actions to words by heading for the door.

“Kylie, please. I just can’t, all right? I don’t like you being out there either,” he says. “Marry me and stay here. Stay home. Please.”

She looks at him for a long moment. “Damn you, Daven, you made a liar of me again.”

He grabs her before she can turn fully to the door, because he knows he’ll never see her again if he doesn’t fix this, right now and right here.

“Kylie. I know – I’m being stupid, I’m sorry. Just wait, please? For just a second.” For long enough for him to get this out, so he can get his stupid brain to send the correct words to his stupid mouth.

She pauses and turns back to him, but has her hand on the doorknob and a closed expression on her face.

“All right, I know better than to ask you to stay here, I’m sorry,” he says, yet again. “But – I can’t go either. You know that, right?”

“Aye, I know,” she tells him.

“So I’ll wait for you, okay? Just make sure you come back.”

There’s a long, long moment of silence, where she looks up at him, and he looks down at her, and her eyes go from hard to soft to teary. She blinks, a few times, and shakes her head.

“You know I always have to,” she says, and finally leaves. But not before standing on tiptoes to press her lips to his.
freosan: (Default)
For [ profile] fullaquirkes. Happy Christmas!

For this fic, assume an AU where Dreams and Undying did not happen.

Well, they’re immortal, more or less. She a bit more than he, or maybe not. She’s come back from the dead before. Twice. He probably hasn’t, since most of the really nasty supernatural diseases don’t affect things like him.

She wonders why not. There should be some things, right? Shouldn’t there be a faerie version of lycanthropy? At the very least there should be some faeries, like some humans, who think that they’re something else.

James was dead. She’d known he’d die eventually, being human no matter how much he protested, but… he was dead. And he didn’t even have the decency to continue walking around.

She went to the funeral dressed as a bad imitation of a Goth, which got her a lot of stares, but allowed her to think he was still around, just a little bit. She sat in the front, just aside from his grieving children, who’d lost their mother just a year ago and now lost their father too.

No one knew who she was. She was much too young to be his best friend, almost his sister. He’d been in his eighties. She looked twenty-seven. She’d looked twenty-seven for sixty-nine years.


But she doesn’t spend much time with faeries. Not for a while now. Which is why, maybe, she’s so nervous about coming here.

No, that’s not even it. It’s him. Everyone’s nervous about him. Well, no, that’s not quite right. Everyone’s terrified of everything about him.

She is not terrified of him; she is fully in control of herself. She tells herself that over and over and only calms down a little when she realizes that it’s been three decades since he’s hunted her kind. He’s on to something else now, though she’s not sure what – nothing that anyone she hangs around with is.

She pushes the old glass door open, carefully. There aren’t any wards against her, so she steps inside.

This place is old and familiar – she knew it when the building around it was brand-new.

“If you walk three times widdershins around a liminal place, you’ll find yourself elsewhere. Usually it’s Faerie,” Rain said, eyeing the standing stone. “Remember Allvers? The weird seasons? That was a liminal place.”

“What’s widdershins? Wait, I know this one, it’s counterclockwise, right?”

“Yes. But it also means in the direction that you can’t see your shadow.”

He took her hand, sending a little shiver running up her arm to her spine, and led her around the standing stone, and they found themselves elsewhere.


She needs to go to Faerie. She breathes deeply and does so.

Nothing changes but the direction of the wind, but it’s enough. A world of new smells opens in front of her, strange grasses, stagnant water, something like blood but without the metal. She’s here.

“Ah, little one. I wondered how long until you came to me.”

He’s behind her. She turns around to see him perched on a fallen tree, his hair a bit longer, his clothing updated to be only fifty years out of fashion instead of a hundred, his eyes every bit as predatory as the last time she saw him.

“Where’s he gone?”

“Little one, even had he not asked me to keep that information from you, you haven’t the price to pay for it.”

“I could kill you right now.”

“I would have silver through your heart before you could so much as bark.”

“Where is he?”

“Go home, little one. I cannot tell you that.”


“Spare me the psychic act. I need information. Do you know what I need?” she asks. He can’t smell fear, not the way she can. He can see it, though. She does her best not to waver, not to shake. He won’t hurt her. She’s not dangerous. At the moment.

He smiles. She restrains the answering predatory growl. “I can hardly do both, little one… but at the risk of seeming psychic, I do know what you wish. The price is high.”

She throws the bag she’s carrying at his feet, where it lands with a clatter. “Latest microtech computers, three of them. Overclocked tazers. One of those palm-tops with a magical interface. Enough?”

He pulls the items out and inspects them, long delicate fingers dancing over the keys, running over the triggers, stripping and reassembling the weapons and pushing into the palm-top’s finger caps. Eventually, just when she’s ready to howl for something to break the tension, he puts them down and nods. “More than enough. Now, what exactly is it you require?”

She growls, hiding her relief in irritation. “Locations, times, dates, and tracking possibilities. And I want to know everything that’s been recorded about me. And him.”

They sat in a coffee shop. She wasn’t eating; she was picking at her sausage and hoping he wasn’t noticing her nerves. He probably wasn’t. Even over the confusion of scents wafting through the shop, she could make out the smell of faerie fear.

“I can’t stay around,” he said, holding his cup of tea like a lifeline.

“Why not?” she whined.

“You’ve – I told you about the dreams. I told you what would happen if you –”

“I had to, Rain, I didn’t have a choice! It was spring, you couldn’t’ve stopped me, I would have killed you!” she said. Her voice cracked.

“But now it’s fall, and you might kill me anyway,” he said.

“No,” she said. “I won’t kill a friend. I’m not like you.” She meant for it to be cruel, but regretted it right away. The self-loathing on his face was painful.

“I’m leaving, B. Please don’t try to follow me.”


“I see. Mounting a hunt, are we? It’s gratifying to see one such as you following in my footsteps.” He slips his fingers back into the palm-top, experimenting while he thinks.

“I. Am not. Like you,” she says, finishing with a whine that she covers with a growl. God, she hopes not. She’s got a reason, right? So she’s not exactly doing what he’s doing.

Anyway, her prey is going to still be alive at the finish, she hopes. Assuming she doesn’t kill him for being a complete jerk.

“Of course not, little one. I am much better at it.” She sighs. “If I weren’t, would you be coming to me to learn that he was last sighted on the fifth of this month at eight fifty-three local time, in a small bagel shop just east of Newport News, Delaware? And that he has been sighted in several such establishments on a fairly regular basis, all near towns with names that recall Newport? Sloppy of him.”

He’s not that sentimental. Maybe he really is that bad. She wouldn’t disbelieve it. But maybe it’s a signal.

Maybe he’s tired of running, and tired of waiting for her to catch up.

“I didn’t ask for your opinion,” she tells him. He smiles and nods. She is suddenly very, very tired, and she glares suspiciously at him, though she hasn’t heard a single note from his wings – and her hearing is very good nowadays.

She stifles her yawn but he notices anyway. “You should rest, little one. It’s the middle of the day.” He motions to the ground beside him, where there is a soft, mossy hollow. She shakes her head.

“I can’t. I’ll lose the time. He moves fast when he wants to.”

“Time moves differently here.” She knows that, doesn’t she? She’s heard it before.

“But we don’t know differently how.” She could wake up and find a hundred years have passed back home. Rip Van Winkle, only worse. Her lover would still be alive.

“It will be all right.” He’s always right, isn’t he? She’s not dangerous and he doesn’t hunt wolves anymore. The ground looks inviting. She’s so tired.

She steps forward, and he pats the spot near him – it’s condescending but well, it’s him. She curls up and sleeps.

She will be chasing him. She will look desperately through the crowd and finally, finally, see a shock of black hair, the edge of a trenchcoat. He will turn without sensing her into an alley and she will push through the masses of people, so that they’ll be all alone when she reaches the alley’s mouth.

She will shout out, “Rain!” and he will turn around in shock, not expecting that she’d still care enough to find him after five years. She will run and hug him and he will not react at first for surprise but will eventually pull her into a perfect, sweet embrace.

They will kiss. She will cry. He will try not to but his tears will leave rivulets in his white makeup. She will apologize for being too rash, he will apologize for being too chicken, they will kiss again. He will tell her she’s obsessed. She will tell him he likes it. They will climb the nearest fire escape and sit and catch up and in between questions make out like teenagers.


She wakes up to changed light, to his fingers running gently through her hair. She thinks at first it’s another’s touch, but they’re pulled away so fast she hardly remembers they were there.

“Good morning, little one. I have the information you asked for.” He waves his fingers, still in the caps. She sits up, then thinks better of it, and stands up. He’s still the one with all the power but she can assuage her anxiety a little if she feels like she’s got the upper hand.

“So what’s in there about me?”

“There’s not a lot. You’ve been covering your tracks well.” Courtesy of a few other friends of hers, mostly, and of the Hunter himself, though he’s polite enough not to mention that. “What there is I have put in this file,” he adds, waving his new computer, “which I have sent encrypted to your palm-top. You know the key.”

She does; a ten-twenty-four bit randomized key that would take years and massive resources to crack, if anyone could even get their hands on information sent through the faerie wireless. Faerie is slow to change, but it has many very old, very smart citizens. Faerie technology does amazing things with human bases.

“I shall have to remember that I owe you for the palm-top. An excellent piece of work.”

“Thank you,” she says, because one should never forget one’s manners in Faerie.

“You’re welcome, little one,” he says. “Do say hello to him for me, when you find him.”

“I’ll be sure to.”

She walks thrice sunwise around the standing stone and the wind shifts, bringing familiar scents: gasoline, sewage, iron-infused blood. She has her information, she has her prey, she must begin her tracking.

She walks forward.
freosan: (Default)
For Kuri-chan. Happy Christmas! Continues in the previous fic-verse.

Angie goes back home for Christmas, of course. She comes alone and has a very serious, intent conversation with Damion for about five minutes, then has a flailing, denying argument with him for a further twenty.

That’s about the time that Van shows up, and Angie is rather surprised: Damion pulls himself together, drags Van into the kitchen and gives him a very stern lecture about taking care of his little sister.

At some point Van explains that he already does and Damion pauses for about half a second before throwing his hands up and saying, it’s different but whatever, if you hurt her I swear I’ll get Ming to kill you.

Angie giggles in the living room. Damion’s overprotectiveness is cute if misplaced; she’s a hundred percent sure that Van would never deliberately hurt her. Of course, her brother has most likely already given Mickey this same lecture, back last October.

She’s doing better now than she can remember having been in years. She should probably tell Damion that. But later, so the boys’ egos don’t inflate any more than they already are.

Damion gives her a scandalized look when he sits down: something like, but you’re my little sister! Stop that! She smiles at him and shrugs.


Damion does his level best not to be too surprised when Angie comes home and tells him that she is now dating Van. He’d figured there’d been something going on with her and Mickey, since Mickey got really quiet about the whole thing about two months into it.

He’s somewhat more surprised when she points out that nowhere has she said that she is not, in fact, dating Mickey. In fact, he is surprised to the point where he can feel himself getting incoherent, and when Van comes over there’s nothing to prevent him from yelling at the man about all the typical older-brother stuff.

Not that he has any way of threatening a fallen guardian angel with anything and Van knows it, but this is the kind of thing that still needs to be said. And Van probably knows that too.

Damion is going to strangle Mickey when he gets here.


Mickey arrives most fashionably late in his best suit with a bottle of the best wine he could get his hands on and a six-pack of decent beer in the back, because he suspects Damion is going to need it. When he walks in and sees Damion glaring at him, he holds his hands up and grins sheepishly.

He might, kind of, deserve the rant that Damion gives him, but it’s way more interesting to observe the familial protective habits of adelphus major in its natural habitat. Damion has matured and calmed a lot in the last few years, but he still has a wonderful rant-and-flail mode.

Mickey knows how to deal with a freakout, however, and offers tea and alcohol and a discussion during which Angie blushes a lot, Van is alarmingly silent and Damion spends a lot of time with his head flat on the table. Ah. This is familiar.


Van is by nature against the commercialization of Christmas but he has to admit that the tree and decorations have a certain something about them. If nothing else, it makes him nostalgic. With luck – and distraction, which is probably in order if the way Mickey keeps looking at him is any indication – that nostalgia won’t turn into homesickness.

It’s Angie who starts the carols. He hasn’t heard her sing before; she has a good voice. That demon inside her – does it hear? Or does it curl up and try to ignore the words?

He’s hardly surprised when she starts to tear up about halfway through Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and joins in two octaves lower. It gives him a certain smug satisfaction to see how surprised Mickey and Damion are.


Ming doesn’t visit Damion until two days after the holiday, when his tree and crèche are down and she doesn’t have to worry about the decorations making her nauseous. She sees at once that she should have come earlier, decorations be damned: there are fascinating events afoot.

She teases Angie and the angel about it all day, and she and Mickey exchange the kind of stories that make Damion try to hide under the couch. Eventually Van gets tired of it and snaps at her, and she thinks it could turn violent, except that Angie steps in, and with not much more than a smile and a sentence makes Van calm again.


Angie leaves at the end of break with promises to call more often, with another head-shaking expression of disbelief from Damion, and with Mickey on her right and Van on her left.

That went, she thinks, better than she’d expected.


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June 2009

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