Posted on: 2016-05-21 22:20:08 UTC
He stuck out a tanned hand. "Jesse McKines, Alleb's partner."
He stuck out a tanned hand. "Jesse McKines, Alleb's partner."
Valon Vance and Kala Jeng were the first to arrive in the Really Very Tiny Auditorium; the former wasted no time in gleefully emptying one of his vest's many pockets of equipment. It took him about three minutes to get the microphone, speakers, Jukebox of Infinite Music (really just his battered laptop), and chairs set up.
Kala looked at him questioningly. "Are you sure anybody's gonna show up? Some people think that singing is Sueish..."
"Come on, I sing all the time, and I'm glitter-free! I also posted flyers in the Cafeteria."
"...does anyone even go to the Cafeteria?"
"We'll find out!"
((We're not gonna get to the singing right away. First, just introduce your folks as they come in!))
Close to each other, the two men were almost of a height, though Chakkik was far, far bulkier. Valon read the note and grinned. “Didn’t know you liked metal, Chak.”
Chakkik gave him a Look.
As the gigantic blond man stood before the microphone, a few somber piano notes filled the auditorium. After a few bars…
“I’m gazing upward, a world I can’t embrace…
There’s only thorns and splinters, venom in my veins…
It’s okay to cry out, when it’s driving you insane…
But somehow, someday… I’ll have to face the pain.”
Chakkik’s voice was deep, mournful, and thrumming; it wouldn’t have been out of place in an opera. He had approached the stage reluctantly, but when guitars and drums joined the piano, he threw himself into the song.
“I’m begging for forgiveness, everything I’ve done…
If God is listening, he knows I’m not the only one.
It’s okay to lash out from the rules that I’ve enslaved…
But somehow, someday! I’LL HAVE TO TURN THE PAGE! ”
He kept his eyes tightly closed throughout his entire performance. He prayed desperately that the melancholy he was feeling wasn’t showing on his face.
“My heart’s an endless winter, filled with rage…
I’m looking forward to, forgetting yesterday… ”
Chakkik was silent for a few seconds. When the music returned, he practically roared the lyrics.
“… it’s all gone COLD! And no one wants to change!
It’s all so WRONG! And no one wants the blame!
It’s all gone COLD! There’s nothing left to gain!
It’s all so WRONG! But who am I, who am I to say!?
To say… It’s all gone cold, BUT WHO AM I TO SAY!? It’s all gone cold… but WHO AM I? WHO AM I TO SAY! ”
He finally opened his eyes as all but the piano faded.
((If you're wondering, the song is Cold, by Five Finger Death Punch.))
"So..." She clasped her hands behind her back. "Who goes first? And don't you dare say I should because I was in Gryffindor; bravery and willingly making a fool out of yourself for no reason are two completely different things."
"But you'll have to do this anyways.And given the way you sang, you shouldn't be worried," Marina said as she was going on stage, making sure she didn't touch anything electronic on her way. Once she was before th micro and the usic began, she began to sing in a rather low voice.
When can we do this again?
When can I see you again? When can we do this again? When can I see you again? When can we do this again? When can I see you again?
Switch on the sky and the stars glow for you Go see the world 'cause it's all so brand new Don't close your eyes 'cause your future's ready to shine It's just a matter of time, before we learn how to fly Welcome to the rhythm of the night There's something in the air you can't deny
It's been fun but now I've got to go Life it way too short to take it slow But before I go and hit the road I gotta know, 'til then, when can we do this again? Oh oh oh oh When can I see you again? Oh oh oh oh When can we do this again? Oh oh oh oh I gotta know, when can I see you again? (When can I see you again?)
Joined at the hip, yeah your sidekick needs you Life is a trip down the road that leads you Look all around at all the mountains you haven't climbed It's just a matter of time, before we learn how to fly Welcome to the rhythm of the night There's something in the air you can't deny
It's been fun but now I've got to go Life is way too short to take it slow But before I go and hit the road I gotta know, 'til then, when can we do this again? Oh oh oh oh When can I see you again? Oh oh oh oh When can we do this again? Oh oh oh oh I gotta know, When can I see you again?
Don't close your eyes 'cause your future's ready to shine It's just a matter of time, before we learn how to fly Welcome to the rhythm of the night There's something in the air you can't deny So let me know before I wave goodbye
When can I see you again? Oh oh oh oh When can we do this again? Oh oh oh oh When can I see you again? Oh oh oh oh When can we do this again? Oh oh oh oh
Yeah, it's been fun but now I've got to go Life is way too short to take it slow But before I go and hit the road Tell me when When can I see you again? When can I see you again? Tell me when When can I see you again?
She then left the stage with a short bow to the public. At least, she hadn't stumbled at any moment during the song.
"Nice job," she said, then gulped when she realized it was her turn. Slowly, feeling like she was being dragged before the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, she climbed onto the stage and took the microphone in her shaking hands, biting out the name of the song to Valon.
Ix had to glance behind her to reassure herself that no, not everyone was staring at her, before turning back when the music started. She closed her eyes; she knew the words by heart as it was, and it was easier to pretend she was somewhere that wasn't crowded with upwards of thirty people.
"Struck by lightning, sounds pretty frightening
But you know the chances are so small
Stuck by a bee sting, nothing but a bee thing
Better chance you're gonna bite it at the mall
But it's a twenty-three four-to-one
That you can fall in love by the end of this song
So get up, get up
Tell the bookie put a bet on "not a damn thing will go wrong!""
She was grinning now; she must have lost track of all the times she had listened to this song, trying to take comfort in the words. Though she didn't begin dancing—impossible with her bad leg—she did start swaying in place slightly.
"The odds are that we will probably be alright
Odds are we're gonna be alright, odds are we're gonna be alright tonight
The odds are that we will probably be alright
Odds are we're gonna be alright, odds are we're gonna be alright for another night!"
By the time she reached the end of the song, her voice had lost its quaver of fear and she replaced the mic with a huge smile, turning to look at Marina. "I do okay?"
"You know, it has been a long time since I had the opportunity to hear many music. If anything it makes for an interesting party." She then looked at Richard, who was scribbling someting on one of his notebooks. "And I feel I will hear this song again in no time."
Ix slowly made her way off the stage, heavily favoring her bad leg. It was feeling stiff again, she noted, and made a mental note to see if maybe this place's medical department could do something about it. She rejoined Marina, still smiling. "I must have listened to it several thousand times by now," she added sheepishly.
Marina nodded at Richard. "He going through I don't know many songs when he can. Don't mind it though. His tastes are usually acceptable, and he's willing to put songs I appreaciate too." She then returned to Ix. "Did you have a problem in a mission recently? With your limping..."
Ix looked down and felt her face turn red; she wished she could disappear through the floor. "No, my leg's just been a bit messed up ever since I was little. It's no big deal, really."
((I think you meant "limping" and not "leaping". :P ))
Judging by the way she had reacted, no point for guessing what was that problem. "No big deal, then. There was nobody able to do anything about it? With magic or ordinary means?"
((Yeah, my bad.))
Not liking how many people were nearby, she jerked her head and moved farther away from the stage to a quieter area of the room. "That's... that's just the thing with werewolf bites," she said quietly. Her face was burning. "They can't be healed with magic, and when I got—when I got bitten, my leg was broken and the Healers never set it right. Accidentally or on purpose, I don't know, but..." She trailed off, twisting the hem of her shirt in her fists and trying to swallow away the dryness in her mouth.
"You didn't have to answer if it was that bad. Besides, you should try your luck with Medical now. With all these sci-fi continua, they should be able to do something for you."
"You mean, like, some sort of special brace? Because if there's no cure in my home continuum then that's that, nothing can be done..."
"Although it's logical when you think about it. But yes, you could try for a brace. Just play the efficiency angle when you do that. I guess this sort of brace would be difficult to make, and you need any argument on your side."
Ix looked down. "In that case, maybe not... My leg doesn't really hurt, it just kinda aches and slows me down a bit, but not enough to really make a brace necessary."
"'slow down a bit' will mean death when things go south. You don't want your leg to fail you against 'glitterbags', as my partner say. And given the way this place works? You can be sure that a situation like this will come up."
Ix smiled; it was a little sad, a little wistful smile, but a smile nonetheless. "I was in training to become an Auror before I came here. Helped my mentor bring in a few neo-Death Eaters, actually. And besides—" She grinned fully now. "—my partner's pretty damn fast when she wants to be and has no trouble carrying me at full speed. It'll be fine."
"And I'm sure she wouldn't let you down. But that's your life at the end of the day. You should be ready for the worst happening to you." She paused for a moment before continuing. "Wait, you went through Auror training? It must have been something. Our own anti-warlocks police, the Wardens, are also supposed to be more than able when it comes to using magic in combat. They also used to have enchanted swords, but now..."
Ix sighed. "They told me they wouldn't worry too much about the leg, since Alastor Moody was one of the greatest Aurors of all time and look at him! He was chasing down Dark wizards with a wooden leg!" She sighed. "I wish I could have met him, he sounded like a great man."
"I don't know if you began reading the books about your 'verse, but he was... Well I cannot exactly tell paranoid, since he had done things to earn all these enemies. But I guess it's also a difference of continuum here. We don't have teleportations spells similar to Apparating, and when monsters generally don't stay in place launching spells."
"You need to concentrate if you want to arrive at your destination unSplinched." Ix shrugged, looking uncomfortable. "That's how I ended up here, actually—wasn't concentrating enough and Apparated here instead of London. I got lucky nothing worse happened."
"I ended up in this place in a similar way. Servants of the Fomors just had burnt down my office and my appartment before pursuing me. When I saw I was being trapped, I opened a Way to the Nevernever to try escaping. Except I arrived here."
Ix tilted her head. "You wouldn't happen to come from a fanfic as well, would you? Sorry, just, I'm curious, because it seems like we've got a bit in common."
"I live in Philadelphia. Until now, there was nothing written in my home-'verse which would make my presence here uncanon, and it seems the events which occured in my 'verse and the canon one matches. But if I understood this right, my backstory also matches a setting created by a RPG player in my 'verse. Result, I'm potentially stuck betweent the two possibilities."
Ix tilted her head. "Have you taken a CAD reading of yourself? That's how my partner found out where I came from."
"Well, my partner did it. Before the thing was shut down by the hexing, it was alternating between 'canon', 'uncanon', 'RPG character', or so he says."
Ix shrugged. "Guess it doesn't really matter, though, does it? Sorry, I'm being nosy, I'll stop."
"The worst part about it is I cannot go back home, or contact anyone there. Meaning my family, my master and my friends don't know I survived the two arson which destroyed my appartment and my office. Otherwise, I don't exactly care if I was from the actual 'verse or the RPG one."
Ix sighed, suddenly feeling a lump in her throat. "I can't get back to my old fic because it wasn't published, or something like that. My parents are probably going to assume the worst happened; get kicked out of Auror training because of my... condition, and then I vanish soon after? It doesn't look good." She sighed again. "It's a sucky situation for both of us."
"You say you were in the top of your class, and they still kicked you out? What's the hell is wrong with your people? Not that mine are always better though," she sighed, then shrugged. "As for the latter... Well, I discovered magic through a sucky situaution, So I guess it doesn't change me too much."
"I mean, once they found out about my condition, that was it. Didn't expect anything different, really..." She sighed. "And yeah, discovering magic in a sucky situation—that seems to be about right. Wonder how often it happens to other people?"
"There is only hundreds of wizards in the White Council, but we're only a very small part of the humans with magic powers, most of them with way fewer powers, or not aware of them or worst, doing black magic. And I hope people don't mostly discover them because they're being attacked by someone or something." She then continued, eyes frowned. "However, the fact they kicked you out isn't logic. You say it's because you're... what you are, but they should have known and acted earlier if it was the case. I guess they keep track of this condition in your Ministery, and the recruiters should have discovered it when you sent your candidature. I don't believe for a moment they just discovered it out of the blue like this, well after you recruiteùent."
"And all my teachers provided some amazing references to the recruiters." Ix bit her lip. "There's a register you're obligated by law to put your name on after being bitten but my parents guessed—correctly, I might add—that putting my name down would pretty much mean no more future prospects for me. But... well, when I left Hogwarts, I also left behind access to the Wolfsbane Potion and when I kept missing lessons to recover and kept showing up with new injuries, someone put two and two together, my name got put on the register, and I was kicked out." She shrugged, looking resigned. "Honestly, I'm just lucky they didn't decide to arrest me after that."
"No offense, but there was no chance you could hide this eternally, and you're pretty lucky indeed they didn't arrest you, and that you had no problem without Wolfsbane Potion. Although I don't understand how the topic couldn't have been aborded before. Your teachers didn't approve about lying to people who are the Special Forces of your government, right? And they couldn't have ignored the matter given the fact you used the potion, right? It's not like there was a cauldron of it just lying around for seven years."
"It's not like the teachers aren't above lying to help their students," she said morosely. "Though why they went to such efforts to help me, I don't know. Maybe because it was a fanfic and not actually canon? That's the only thing I can think of."
"Your partner said you were coming from an... angstfic, right? I suppose the most important for the author was creating a way for you to fall all down the bottom, and he, or she, didn't think about some of the pratical aspects. At least you didn't end up kill someone. Not exactly the best first peak to the supernatural world if you ask me. Well, at least it beats first peak at afterife," Marina said, a grimace on her face.
"Thank Merlin I never killed anyone, though." Ix's leg twinged at the thought. "Though now I'm wondering if that was planned for a later chapter, thanks..." She tilted her head, latching onto Marina's last words. "You've seen the afterlife?"
"It's just that... Remember when I talked about killing someone? I was getting back from high school when I witnessed someone being aggressed, by a man. I didn't have to do much more though, since this man stood up and saw me..." Marina shuddered. "He just looked freaking crazy, a bloody knife in his hand, and ran at me, screaming like mad. I was deadly scared, wishing for something to just stop him, and he ended up getting crush on the ground by some sort of invisible force. And he was still moving — well, crawling — forwards, with the same mad look, even if he was clearly dying. I ran away pretty fast after that, trying to forget that crazy thing. Later, I learnt he was a Renfield, a human whose the mind had been destroyed by a Black Court Vampire to turn in him in some killing machine with no sense of self-preservation." She sighed heavily "If I hadn't used magic, I would have been dead. And I would have been seeing whatever afterlife my world has got in stock. If there is even one."
"That sounds terrifying. I..." She grimaced. "I can see why you hate vampires so much now."
"And it was the one who had created the Renfield to boot. Turned about, this one had created this Renfield and several others to get the police and my master off his back to make his escape." Marina grimaced. "Anyways, that was when he learnt about me. A week later, more or less, he was in our living room, speaking about magic, and 'asking' to take me as his apprentice, underlining how I had doged another bullet back in this alley. Remember when I talked about the Laws of magic in my 'verse? Killing a human is the first one. The only reason I got away with this was because a Renfield's mind is destroyed when he's created, meaning there is nothing really human left. Otherwise, it would have been judgement and decapitation. And even with that, he wasn't so sublte about stressing the fact this apprenticeship was also a probation of some sort."
Ix almost shook her head in disbelief, but then remembered her own home universe wasn't much more forgiving and stopped. "Well. For what it's worth, I'm glad you weren't."
"Using black magic, even accidentaly, will taint your mind, driving you to use it more and more until there is nothing left of it. And between the fact there is too many people in the world to monitor, it can become ugly pretty quick. It leads to a pretty brutal way to deal with the problem, the only exceptions are when the use is 'justified', like killing someone in self-defense, or if the potential warlock surrenders himself of his own will. But even there, there is still the need for another wizard to accept to take the convict as an apprentice, and make sure he doesn't turn again to black magic, or he's killed. And his mentor too, if the apprentice is still with under his direct care at the moment. They call this the Doom of Damocles. Even if there was no technical ground to use this with me, you could say I was pretty lucky here."
"I am so glad I don't live in your world," she said. "At least in mine, Dark magic is a conscious choice."
"Especially since you would have a population of warlocks rising pretty quickly. I mean, tampering with the mind or the body of other people, playing with time... Things you can do pretty easily — less easily with the last one — , but in my world, all of it would be black magic. Richard says that Butcher likes overpowered settings, but he sure doesn't make them frequentable."
"All that stuff you mentioned aside from time travel is also usually considered Dark magic," Ix said. She tilted her head. "Why is time travel bad, anyway? As long as you don't interfere with fixed points and aren't seen by your past or future selves, I think it would be fine..."
"Like I said it also covers things like Mad-Eye using metamorphosis against soemone. The catch in my world is that by trapping a human mind in a form which cannot handle it, you can destroy it. And there is the Obliviate spell. The human is considered so important, and mental damages are so terrible that there is two laws against black magic here, one against entering the mind of another person and another against any form of manipulation. You can project illusions at best. As for the time travel, imagine someone addicted to it, able and willing to use it against its foes, but cunning enough for not leaving traces. And, even if he's not cunning enough, imagine someone leaving all sorts of time paradoxes behind. I'm sure you can see how bad it would be."
"This is quite a music collection, uh...uh...I don't think I got your name. Do you have any Lady Gaga songs?"
((OOC: I decided a performance would be better than Miguel and Violet bickering.))
Her supernaturally-enhanced voice did come in handy for certain songs, after all. She pulled the mic off the stand and began dancing along with the opening of the song, mimicking Countess Coloratura's dance moves in the episode. Standing under the spotlight caused her skin to take on the same odd gleam the Cullens' did under the lights at Bella's graduation party. It only served to enhance her performance, if you asked her.
"Time for the spectacle
Time for the show
The lights are bright and the colors glow
I'm not just anypony
I think you know
The time is now, it's about to blow!"
Yeah, having an enhanced voice made emulating the synthesizer sounds from the song much easier. Charlotte grinned hugely as she reached the chorus, having to hold back a laugh at the words.
Glitz and glam
Turn it all up, it's a spectacle
Give me more
Glitter eyes, big surprise
Glitz and glam
Turn it all up, it's a spectacle
Hear the applause
Here to impress
Not just a pony, I am the Countess!"
Charlotte flipped her hair and bowed before jumping nimbly off the stage.
((Link if you want to know what the original is like.))
"Woo-hoo!" she cheered. "That was amazing!"
But without a goddess to guide him, a fit of stumbling around trying to put himself in front of the mic would have to do.
Having told the name of the song to Valon, Cupid cleared his throat, and as the music began to play, he aimed a deliberate glance at Violet and hoped that his voice wasn't slurred. Though Sarah's temporary alcohol ban may have helped somewhat.
"I was so high I did not recognize
The fire burning in her eyes
The chaos that controlled my mind
Whispered goodbye as she got on a plane
Never to return again
But always in my heart, oh..."
Cupid's voice was almost angelic as he continued. Okay, it WAS angelic. Flapping his wings and tapping his toes to the beat, it was surprising to see that this normally alcoholic, scatterbrained youth could sing so well.
By the time the song ended, he bowed, spreading his wings one last time. If only Stephanie could see him now - Oh, wait.
((OOC: Inspired by this. Yes, that's Pit's VA doing the singing. ;D))
...whereupon he looked at her and asked, "How did I do?"
"Does it matter what she says? You were awesome!" said Sarah, patting him on the shoulder.
"It kinda does. Girlfriend, remember?"
"Oh, right. Sorry!"
She grinned ferociously as she turned to her audience. "Hold onto your asses, this one's gonna be crazy." She tapped Valon's laptop with her stinger.
The first few notes of Halestorm's "Mayhem" pounded from the speakers, and Kala lost herself to the metal. She whipped her head back and forth, her side-tail flying around her ear.
"I'm so bored with... this world that spins around me... used to make me dizzy..."
Kala's singing voice was high, with a faint rasp; the kind of voice common to all metal vocalists, the kind that can turn into a scream at a moment's notice.
"A little mayhem never hurt anyone, when'm I gonna get some...
A little bedlam, till I'm coming undone, when'm I gonna get some..."
And indeed it did; she put a great deal of force into her voice, compounded by the fact that her legs and pincers were constantly clicking and tapping with the song's drumbeat.
This reached an extreme in the song's bridge, where she punctuated each line by pounding the floor with her pincers, so hard that the entire auditorium shook.
"I wanna feel the chaos
I wanna hear the uproar
A little pandemonium
I know I'm not the only one
I wanna be, blown away
I wanna feel the walls shake
I wanna feel the walls shake!
I WANNA FEEL THE WALLS SHAKE IT SHAKE IT SHAKE IT SHAKE IT SHAKE IIIIIIIIIT!"
That last scream nearly blew out her voice, but she soldiered on with the last few lines of the song.
"LOOKIN' FOR SOME MAYHEM, LOOKIN' FOR SOME MAYHEM! Yeeeaaaaaaaaaa-AAAAAAA-AAAAAAAAAAAAHHH!"
She concluded the song by thrusting the mic above her head, her chest heaving with her ragged breathing.
"That. Was. Amazing!" said Lapis. "How are you able to sing like that? I could never do that, I panic so much I just - You'd get full marks on a Tough contest, that's for sure!"
"But contests are for Pokemon, not people," said Falchion, sitting nearby.
"Yeah, but still!"
The Aviator was standing by the doors, her arms crossed tightly over her chest. "And I still can't believe you tried to get me to sing that crap with the Librarian! Do you have any sense of decency?"
"I'm sorry," Zeb said, his ears flat against his skull. "I just thought—"
"Yeah, well, you thought wrong."
Both agents were silent for a moment.
"I just thought you would have fun if you tried it," Zeb said quietly.
The Aviator barked out a harsh laugh. "Yeah, fun. What's so fun about getting up there and singing in front of a bunch of people?"
Zeb shrugged. "I thought it was," he said quietly. His ears pricked up slightly. "C'mon, please? Just one? I'll let you pick," he added hastily.
"Oh, that's awful generous of you." The Aviator sighed and looked around. "I dunno. I mean, my glitter's bad enough as it is..."
"It's karaoke," Zeb said desperately. "Everyone's doing it and I don't see the DIA running in to arrest them for turning into Sues."
The Aviator hesitated. She hadn't sung in centuries, after all, but she still remembered how much she used to enjoy doing it.
"Just one?" Zeb tried again.
"...Oh, f*** me, I must be crazy. Fine. But only because you asked nicely."
And just like that, Zeb's face split into a massive grin. "Yay! Thank you!"
The Aviator swallowed and headed up to the microphone, where she told Valon the name of the song. Gripping the mic almost hard enough to break it, she listened to the few opening bars, prayed for a low glitter count by the end, and began to sing.
"Heart beats fast
Colors and promises
How to be brave?
How can I love when I'm afraid to fall?
But watching you stand alone,
All of my doubt suddenly goes away somehow.
One step closer..."
She realized her throat was beginning to tighten, but she powered on, pouring her heart into the music. Her voice sounded... good. Too good, and she hated it, certain that her tracker was already beeping.
"I have died every day waiting for you
Darling, don't be afraid I have loved you
For a thousand years
I'll love you for a thousand more...."
When she reached the end, she put the mic back on the stand. Her cheeks were wet, and she reached up to dry them as she hurried off the stage. Stupid emotions. Stupid karaoke night. Stupid, stupid, stupid everything.
"I have to rescind my previous statement, it seems." The Librarian was standing there, arms crossed.
"I—" Her face was burning; she didn't like anyone see her cry, especially not him. "What? What statement?" She finished wiping her eyes and crossed her arms, blinking rapidly in an attempt to keep from crying any more.
The Librarian opened his mouth to add something, but closed it when he noticed the Aviator rubbing her eyes. One could almost see the gears turning in his head. "Are you alright, Aviator?" he asked after a moment or two of high-speed thought.
He stayed there, watching intently to see what would happen.
The Aviator shrugged. "I'll be alright," she said quietly.
The Librarian looked at the stage. "Wait, is that Desdendelle over there...?" The Time Lord squinted at his partner and cupped his chin with a hand. "His singing voice is rather poor," he said when the cyborg was done singing, "but I must admit to not feeling as annoyed as I would have it if would have been anybody else." He tilted his head, a confused expression on his face.
He padded around so he was behind the Librarian and butted his head against the back of his knees. "Go—be—nice," he ground out, trying to push the Librarian closer.
The Aviator just looked down at Zeb and rolled her eyes. "He's trying," she said, nodding at Des. "You can't get annoyed at that."
"Watch where you are going, will you?" he growled at Zeb. Turning his attention back to his partner, he squinted. "Where do you think he is going?" he asked the Aviator. "He seems... lost?"
"It was a sad song," she said. She felt the lump in her throat trying to make itself known again and she swallowed it back.
Zeb gritted his teeth and pushed the Librarian again. "You help her," he growled quietly. "I'll see what Des needs."
Instead, he looked at the Aviator. "You do not seem alright," he said. "You should, perchance, sit down?"
The Aviator just stared after him for a moment before turning back to the Librarian with a weak smile. "You do realize he's just trying to set us up, right?" she said, trying to avoid the question.
He stared at the Aviator for a moment and frowned. "Hm."
"What," she finally said after a long moment.
"What was your first clue?" she said, sitting heavily in a nearby chair.
He crossed his arms. Opened his mouth, closed it. Finally he sat down with an annoyed sigh.
The Aviator slouched in her seat. "Keep forgetting you can't be nice without someone holding you hand."
If the Librarian's voice would've been any drier, it would've put the Atacama desert to shame. "Very funny."
"It's not supposed to be funny, it's the truth," she said sharply. "I don't know why you're even a little nice to me most of the time when you can't be bothered to give others the time of day other than to sneer at them."
"I am trying," he said through his teeth. "It is not easy to change a decades-long habit in the space of a month."
"The day you get rid of that massive superiority complex is the day Zeb gets a girlfriend," she said. Her scowl looked like it was permanently etched on her face.
The Aviator took several deep breaths, rubbing her temples. "Snapping at you isn't going to help things, I know. I'm sorry for that."
The Librarian sighed and leaned back in his seat.
"You really have been doing better, you know," she said. "And by the way... don't hesitate to call me out when I start getting shirty. Authors know I could use a good smacking every now and then."
"You're joking, right?" She eyed him for another moment. "You're not joking. Irritable, bitchy, what-have-you."
"I, the one with the superiority complex, have to admonish others?" the Librarian asked with a frown.
The Aviator shrugged. "If you can notice when others are behaving unacceptably, maybe it'll help you become more self-aware? Iunno." She slouched somewhat when she saw Zeb and Des approaching. "Come to tease us some more?"
Zeb's ears flattened. "No, I just wanted to say I was sorry."
The Aviator blinked, then smiled. "It's alright," she said, holding out her hand; Zeb stepped forward and pressed his nose against it. "Just stop trying to force us together, yeah? We're just really bad friends, that's it."
Des, meanwhile, tilted his head at the Aviator. "Yeah, I'm here to tease you because I have no eyes and I can't see you're not in the best of moods right now, Avirait," he said dryly. "Hayo, Librarian."
"You know better than to piss me off as it is. Zeb, on the other hand..." She gave him a Look.
"It's not gonna happen again," he mumbled. "I'm sorry, too, Librarian. I shouldn't have pushed you."
"... looking expectantly at me, Desdendelle?" the Librarian asked. It took him some time — considering that the cyborg wasn't forthcoming with an answer — to figure it out. "Thank you for apologising," the Time Lord told Zeb.
Des took a seat to the Aviator's other side. "How's stuff holding up, Avirait?" he asked.
"Alright, I guess," she said morosely. "Shouldn't have sang, though, I can feel my tracker beeping."
Zeb's ears flattened. "Seriously?"
She shrugged again. "Guess that's what happens when you're already glittery enough as it is."
Or perhaps he wasn't staring — it was hard to tell with an unmoving faceplate for a face. "Say, Avirait," he said slowly, "maybe you can experiment. Specifically, try to live your life... well, not normally, you're an Agent, but without talking about your glitter count? Treat it like my grandfather treats his diabetes. It's there and you have to take care of it, but you don't have to make it a bigger deal than it is." He steepled his fingers. "That's an expectant look," he added after a few seconds.
"Your granddad didn't have to worry about getting arrested and having his TARDIS taken away if his diabetes got out of hand," she said sourly.
"But my point is this: complaining about your glitter levels might — I'm not certain — raise them. Positive feedback and whatnot." He tugged at his faceplate.
"You could conduct a simple experiment," the Librarian said, "have someone scan your with a Character Analysis Device before and after you talk about being glittery and see what happens."
The Aviator was quiet for a long time. "I suppose I never thought of that."
The Aviator shook her head. "Can we talk about nicer things, please? This is making me kind of anxious as it is." One of her hands drifted to the pocket which held her alcohol; Zeb noticed the motion and swatted her hand away.
"... talk about my bad mood instead of yours," Des offered.
"I fail to see—" the Librarian began.
Des cut him off: "I'm joking, you lout."
Zeb's ears pricked forward. "Have you found anything you like, Librarian?"
The Librarian looked aside for a moment. "There is a trilogy of books on Desdendelle's bookcase — Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy — that have an interesting linguistic gimmick," he said at length.
"Anything else?" he said, a hint of a whine creeping into his voice.
"He's allowed to not like Pokémon, you know," the Aviator said, rolling her eyes.
"...is because I watched the original series as a kid," Des said. "Id est, I've the nostalgia goggles on. I don't think Librarian here did that, and I doubt he'd find the games interesting."
"In general, I do not read fiction," the Librarian said. "I do not enjoy it overmuch."
"But..." He looked baffled. "Then why are you in the PPC?"
The Aviator buried her face in her hands, anticipating this ending horribly.
Des glanced from the Librarian to Zeb. "Yeah, I'm with Avirait here. Bad subject, Zeb."
"Why're we doin' this again?" he asked, moodily strumming his well-worn guitar. "Don't we have missions to do, 'n stuff?"
"Because, Sir Jesse," Alleb said, practically skipping. "it will be fun!"
Jesse snorted. "Fun for you, maybe."
Alleb's smile grew a little wider. She looked out over the assembled group, to the stage. "Should we play now, do you think?" she asked, readjusting her grip on her flute case. "There is no one up--" She cut herself off, staring at a specific person in the crowd. "Oh, dear..."
"What?" Jesse asked, then followed her line of sight. His scowl turned itself into a wolfish grin with uncomfortable alacrity. "Y'know, Alleb, I think you're due for a doctor's appointment."
Alleb rounded on her partner. "Sir Jesse, if you even think about--"
"HEY DOC!" Jesse shouted, already starting towards the Doktor. "HOW YA DOIN'?"
Alleb set her teeth, sighed, then followed her partner as one walking to her doom.
"Hi! Valon Vance, Department of Floaters; I'm hosting this shindig. Don't think we've met before." He extended a hand to her.
Alleb stopped, blinked once, then took his hand with a smile. "I am Lady Alleb, of the Realm," she said, with a small curtsy. "Thank you for putting on this... shindig. My partner and I are looking forward to performing."
((It's rather funny that you described him that way, because Glimpses are literally whiter than a ghost holding a bottle of milk wrapped in a sheet of paper in the middle of a snowstorm standing on a sheet.
Valon tilted his head. "That makes me think of Westeros and Creation. You'll have to be more specific."
"A... YA series, I believe you call it. I am still reading them--it's rather fascinating to see Alleble through the eyes of a stranger. Where are you from?"
"My lovely wife is from Monster Musume... that's her over there, with the eight legs and the stinger."
"She looks lovely," she said, hoping she didn't sound as shocked as she felt. She turned back to Valon. "What is Monster Mu... Musume? I have never heard of it."
Just then, Jesse, having lost sight of the Doktor in the crowd, looped back around and rejoined his partner. He walked right past Valon, stopped at Alleb's side, then spun on one heel and tipped his hat with the head of his guitar in one smooth motion. "Howdy," he said.
"Technically the full name is Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou, or Daily Life with Monster Girls..."
He was interrupted by Jesse's greeting. "Uh... Doctor Livingstone, I presume?"
He stuck out a tanned hand. "Jesse McKines, Alleb's partner."
"Valon Vance, Floaters, my wife and I are hosting. I actually just sang. What are you guys gonna do?"
Jesse held up his instrument by the neck, as if it had been invisible before.
"I play the flute," Alleb said, also holding up her instrument, though it was in a case. "Have you ever heard of--" she cleared her throat quietly, as if she had rehearsed this. "See-mon and Garr-funk-el?"
Valon shrugged. "The name I know, but I don't know what or who they are."
She coughed, then straightened her shoulders again. "They are musicians," she explained. "From the Mirror--I apologize--from Earth. I thought they were very well known."
"We're playing--what was it called again?" Jesse asked, scratching his stubble.
"'I Am a Rock,'" Alleb told him.
"Never heard it in my life!"
((I thought everyone had heard that.))
"Well, I suppose you shall hear it soon!" Alleb said, smiling. "A version of it, anyway."
Jesse muttered something under his breath that might have been: "A real weird one."
Alleb, still smiling, elbowed him in the ribs.
Des walked around for a while, muttering to himself. He did, however, raise his head when he heard someone else starting to sing. It was the man he talked to just a moment ago. With a sigh, the cyborg looked around, trying to find his partner; when he saw him sitting with the Aviator, he decided to let the Time Lord be for the moment.
Then the song was over and the stage stood empty. Tugging at his faceplate, Des made his way onto the stage. "Can you get Pippin's song? From Return of the King? Good."
He cleared his throat, waited for the music, then started singing: "Home is behind, the world ahead,
And there are many paths to tread
Through shadows, to the edge of night,
Until the stars are all alight.
Mist and twilight, cloud and shade,
Away shall fade! Away shall fade..."
Afterwards, he bowed curtly and hopped off the stage, feeling decidedly worse. "Dammit," he mumbled, "I managed to make myself sad again."
His tail was limp with worry. "Hey," he said, nudging Des' hand. "Are you okay?"
Des looked down. "Oh, hi Zeb." He sighed. "I'm kinda... I sang that and it made me sad, you know? Especially because of the song that comes after it in my mind." He crouched so his faceplate was level with Zeb's face. "But in dreams," he sang quietly, "I can hear your name... and in dreams, we will meet again." His voice hitched. "It's just... it's sad. Full of the sadness of the mortal Man."
Zeb tilted his head. "Well... why don't you sing something happy instead?"
"I can't sing a lot of songs," he said. "Not well, anyway. And that's one of the few I actually remember all of the lyrics for. The other that springs to mind is, well, 'The Rains of Castamere'. Not exactly cheerful, either."
Zeb's tail drooped slightly before perking up. "Well, did you hear what I sang? That's a fun one!"
Des tilted his head. "That's a smile, by-the-way." He sighed again. "I thought I might have fun here, but I've been deluding myself. This isn't my cup of tea, exactly."
With a groan, he sat down on the floor. "How've you been, Zebbie-boy?"
"Alright, I guess," he said morosely. "Your partner is being stupid, though." He put his nose on his front paws, looking (and sounding) for all the world like a rather petulant child.
Des absentmindedly scratched behind Zeb's ear. "And, well, you sound as alright as I am right now, y'know?"
Zeb let out a heavy sigh. "I made my partner mad, and then she cried, and now your partner is passing up the perfect opportunity to make her feel better." He lifted his head slightly and looked over at the Time Lords. "I should probably go over and help her..."
Des looked at the Time Lords as well. "It sounds like this really bothers you." He paused, glancing at the ceiling before turning to look at Zeb. "You can't always avoid making people angry; that's how life works. You should probably apologise, though." Another pause. "And you can stop shipping them, too, because it obviously bothers her."
"Everything bothers her these days," he muttered.
"But I certainly know this needling is bothering her. It's bothering Lump, too." The 'I doubt you care' tacked to the end was barely audible. "Now, mind you, I'm not a psychologist and neither are you, and neither you nor me are supposed to solve Avirait's problems." He sighed. "But I know that quiet is better than constant arguing."
"If they just tried a little harder instead of being so snippy around each other—ugh." He sighed. "But fine, I'll tone it down if that'll make you happy."
"Tried a little harder?" Des asked. "Zeb, mate, I don't know about Avirait, but Lump is trying very hard indeed." He stared at the wall for a moment. "He's trying to change a decades-old habit. I can't even fathom how hard it must be."
Zeb made a face. "Why can't he just go back to being nice? It's much easier than being mean all the time and people will like you more!"
After a somewhat-lengthy pause, Des cursed softly under his breath. "That's a raised eyebrow, by-the-way. Anyway: I doubt that Lump 'chose' to be 'mean'. Rather: it is highly likely that it some way of coping or for defence against a hostile universe. Everybody here has problems, Zeb, it's just that Lump's are more evident than others'."
"The Librarian's mean, the Aviator drinks more than the cast of The Sun Also Rises—I don't know which one's worse."
Des sighed again. "Though I suspect it has something to do with what they're coping with. Me, I have my problems, but, well. I have Shakhar." A pause. "That's a smile. I have someone I can trust; I have a safety net, somebody to help me climb back to my feet. I don't think either Lump or Avirait have that right now."
Zeb jumped to his feet, his mane bristling. "She's got me and she knows I'm here for her but she never talks! What made you go to Dawn, huh? Why can she help you and I can't do anything for my partner?"
"Zeb, she's my girlfriend. It goes a little more than hi and bye in the corridor." He made a small noise. "Smile again. I trust her more than I trust myself. Unless it's tea, in which case, ugh, sugar." Another sigh. "You're not Avirait's boyfriend, you're her partner. It's a different sort of relationship."
Zeb sighed and lay down again. "I just wish there was something I could do."
Des shook his head. "But such is the life when you're not a hive mind; people have to sort their head problems themselves."
Zeb sighed and glanced over at the Time Lords again. "Want to go rejoin them?"
He needed to clear his ideas after his... less than stellar conversation with Desdendelle. Comforting to know he still mastered the art of putting his foot in his mouth. Only thing left was hoping it wouldn't affect his performance.
When he had learnt about this karaoke event, he had been thinking furiously about the songs he would sing, and had finally ended up throwing a dice for reaching a decision. At least the result looked it would fit with most of the precedent ones. Oh well, you only live once, and he liked being here. He always liked singing. Now, the question was, would people like it too?
"So, for this time I'll go with Please Don't Say You Love Me, by Gabrielle Aplin. Hope you'll appreaciate it."
Richard sung quietly, trying to his best to match the tune of the music. One of his hands was slowly whirling around, on the rythm of the song. He moved a bit before the micro, sometimes closing his eyes.
Summer comes, winter fades Here we are just the same Don't need pressure, don't need change Let's not give the game away
There used to be an empty space A photograph without a face But with your presence, and your grace Everything falls into place
Just please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back Doesn't mean my heart stops skipping when you look at me like that There's no need to worry when you see just where we're at Just please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back
Heavy words are hard to take Under pressure precious things can break And how we feel is hard to fake So let's not give the game away
Just please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back Doesn't mean my heart stops skipping when you look at me like that There's no need to worry when you see just where we're at Just please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back
And fools rush in And I've been the fool before This time I'm gonna slow it down 'Cause I think this could be more The thing I'm looking for
Just please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back Doesn't mean my heart stops skipping when you look at me like that There's no need to worry when you see just where we're at Just please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back
Please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back Doesn't mean my heart stops skipping when you look at me like that There's no need to worry when you see just where we're at Just please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back
Just please don't say you love me 'Cause I might not say it back
He then bowed, waiting for the public's reaction.
((Tell me if you think I should show less lyrics the next time. Or edit that message.))
Charlotte applauded as she strode in, Ix trailing behind her with hunched shoulders. "I never really liked that song but you did good." She elbowed Ix, who yelped and jerked away, but nodded agreement.
"I've got other things in stock, more cheerful too, if people here are interested. And once other people also had a go with the micro too," Richard said, looking pleased as he exited the stage. "Now, who are you? I don't exactly know that many people, but I don't think I ever saw you around. Oh, my name is Richard Legard."
Charlotte grinned, showing off her perfect, shiny teeth. "I don't leave my RC much, but I've been working in Floaters for about two years now. You're one of the newbies in Sues, right?"
Ix offered him a nervous smile. "I'm new, too," she said.
"Why wouldn't we go discuss with my partner? More comfortable than next to the stage." He then waved a hand towards the chair next to Marina, who eyed Charlotte with a bit of suspiscion. Richard didn't see this though, and faced the brunette. "You didn't tell me your name, and the way you look... Is there a problem?"
"N-no, no problem at all," she stammered. "I'm just... I don't like crowds too much. Sorry." She shuffled her feet for a moment before remembering she'd been asked a question. "I'm Ix, by the way," she added, holding out a hand.
"Do you mind staying with us? Unless four people is too much of a crowd." He offered both of them a seat near his own, before turning to face his partner. " Marina, these are Charlotte Webb and Ix, Floaters. Ix, Charlotte, my partner, Marina Nicodelli."
"Pleased to meet you," Marina said, offering her hand to Ix, and looking at Charlotte out of the corner of the eye.
Ix returned the handshake, taking several deep breaths to calm her nerves. This was going better than she'd thought.
Charlotte just eyed Marina back, as if daring her to say something.
"Is there any reason for this?" Richard asked, a bit surprised.
"Blunt version? I would like to know what she is. Now, I guess if she was dangerrous, she wouldn't be here, but my old job gave me some habits."
Richard eyed Charlotte a bit more, noting the pale skin, the perfect body... "She's probably a reformed Sue. Or someone who got really lucky with her looks."
"Richard, I met White Court Vampires, Faes, a few shapeshifters, and even some Red Court Vampires before arriving in this place. I know the difference between 'too-beautiful-to-be-true' human and 'too-beautiful-to-be-true'... other."
Charlotte looked visibly annoyed. "And thanks so much for asking me directly, I really appreciate you not talking about me as if I weren't right next to you." She smiled, though it looked more like she was baring her teeth. "I'm a Twilight vampire, which hopefully is a sufficient explanation for you." She turned to Ix and stage-whispered, "Gosh, I wonder what continua they could be from. Maybe Dora the Explorer? It would certainly explain why they think they can talk about other people sitting next to them and not have to worry about being overheard."
Ix had to turn away to hide her grin.
"But... Twilight? But your eyes don't match... Oh, I heard about another vampire from this 'verse here, feeding on Sues, so I guess that explain this. I'm from World One, by the way. Sorry again. On the plus side, I guess you don't have too much to fear from glitterbags."
Marina smiled, though said smile didn't reach her eyes. "I'm a wizard from the Dresden Files, thank you very much. Now, this little joke was funny, but honestly? I'd take this show over your piece of White Court propaganda as a continuum of origin any day. Elementary logic is still logic."
"Uhm, what about your own continuum Ix?" If you don't mind the question, Richard said, trying to change the subject.
"I'm from Harry Potter," Ix said. "Nothing special. So you're a wizard?" she asked Marina, trying to get the topic away from herself.
Charlotte harumphed and crossed her arms, glaring at Marina.
"Could you please trying to stop that? I would prefer to not discovering if I can trigger a soulgaze with this disguise on, thank you very much." She then composed herself and turned in the way of Ix. "Yes, I'm a wizard. Although magic follow... different rules in my world. If you except evocation, the quick and dirty use of power in combat, most of the spells need quite a preparation, materials, a focus and power, so no turning people into weasels with a twig there. And there is Laws about what you cannot do with magic on humans, lest your soul be corrupted bit by bit until you become a raving psychopath only deserving death. And metamorphosis like the one I talked about would be breaking the second of these laws, for example."
"I recommend the series if you're searching urban fantasy," Richard said, sounding more cheerful, "Butcher do quite an interesting work with it, and some variations on the theme of classic monsters like vampires, werewolf... And the snark is wonderful. Now that's good first-person prose."
It was probably less than polite, but Ix had already learned the hard way that elbowing her partner only resulted in bruising. She licked her lips nervously at Richard's words. "I'll pass, thanks. Don't really like werewolves that much."
"Several important supporting characters are werewolves. A whole group of student, and RPG afficionados, to boot."
Marina frowned a bit. "Well they're a sort of werewolves. Or wereforms if you want to be technical. But they're only the main focus on one book. Which does include the four types of werewolves too," She then looked for a short moment at Charlotte. "By the way, I was telling this for both of us. Soulgaze can be really traumatic, even between great friends."
Ix tried to keep the note of desperation out of her voice.
Charlotte put a hand on her shoulder and gave her a reassuring smile before turning to Marina. "Geez, who shoved that stick up your—"
"Lottie!" Ix said sharply.
"And several of them tried to kill me. Now, some of them were these super zombies of the Black Court, or the White Court breed who probably edited your book, and there was this war between our Council and the Red Court Vampires. I don't have the best experience on the subject."
Richard looked at Ix, worried, "Hm, what is your problem with werewolves? Looks like you have quite the history with them—" He then stopped dead in its track, half the mind of smacking his head. Way to go, genius. Press the obvious issue.
She turned her head, hoping he wouldn't notice the scarring on her face and put two and two together. Despite Charlotte's promises that most agents didn't have a problem with werewolves, that didn't mean there were none.
Charlotte rolled her eyes at Marina. "Listen, I don't know what you're yammering on about, but my kind of vampire has about as much in common with normal vampires as a Disney pixie has in common with the Cornish pixies in Harry Potter. You dig, or are you gonna keep freaking out?"
Thankfully, he stopped himself of telling anything. Situation was bad enough as it was. "So, any idea about what song you would sing on this stage?" Please. Do not let the situation go souther.
Marina tried to compose herself. "I know that, and I guess that's a chance in some way. If things like you existed in my world, things would have gone far worst for us wizards. But thing is, I'm not exactly more comfortable around any kind of vampires after this than your friend here would be with any kind of werewolf. Mines aren't on the face, but I ended up with scars too."
Ix looked like a deer caught in the headlights. "I-I dunno, I never thought about it..."
"Hm. Fair enough," Charlotte said. "I can leave if you don't like me hanging around."
"Like I said, if you were someone dangerous, you wouldn't be here. Besides, you didn't chose to be a vampire more than your partner chose to be a werewolf, right?"
Richard tried desperately to divert Ix's attention. "Eh, if you don't mind, I have got some songs down here on this notebook. You can see if any of them interests you."
She kept her eyes on the floor, her shoulders hunched. She didn't seem to have heard Richard.
Charlotte put an arm around her partner. "That's right," she said calmly. "And don't worry, the only thing I ate before I got here were animals. Now it's just Sues for me." She shot Richard a glance and gave a tiny shake of the head, mouthing "Not now."
"It's not a problem at all. Do you really think people would dislike you just because you were victim of a monster and survived? If wizards in your world think that way, that only means they're idiots. In my world, no kind of werewolf is 'contagious', so you would have ended up dead. The most similar thing we have in our were Red Court 'half-vampires', and the ones who were victims had founded their own organization against them. Most of them are dead, but since the Red Court vanished too, they'd said that was a fair deal."
"She's right," Richard said. "About the idiot part, I mean. There is no logic reason for being hostile at you. When in the Potterverse are you coming from?" He then turned to face Charlotte. "And you, for that matter? From what I understand, eating animals isn't exactly the first reflex of sparkelpires in this 'verse. No offense meant for you," he hastily added.
"You didn't exactly like Lottie," she said quietly.
Charlotte rolled her eyes. "Ix, loads of people don't like me because I'm a sparklepire," she said derisively. "I wouldn't worry about it. And the both of us are from fics," she said, turning to Richard. "I was a bit comic relief BFF for a Sue destined to be Edward's soulmate, and Ix here was from an unfinished angstfic. Dunno how she ended up being such a little ball of sunshine."
"Shut up," Ix mumbled.
"And she mentioned she was a year above one Mister Teddy Lupin," Charlotte added in a sing-song voice, giving Ix a playful grin.
Ix's cheeks burned. "I said shut up!"
"So she was a stalking psychopath? More seriously, werewolves are still ill-viewed after Voldemort's death? What's the problem with wizards in this 'verse?"
"Too easy way to reach power," Marina said. "Having a twig which let them do anything, provided they have got some vocal chords, must let them feel almighty and haughty, present company excluded. And my problem is with vampires, most of them who are card-carrying murderers, especialy in my world, although I couldn't have discovred magic without that Renfield. Now, if I found a vampire who genuinely hated the way his life is, it could be different, but if you forget the half-vampires I mentionned, the other vampires gain their powers through murder of another person, or are so twisted that nothing is left from the person they were. As for my origins, I'm not sure exactly."
"To be fair, most of the White Court vampires don't seem to know anything about the supernatural world before their first kill, most often an involontary one," Richard said, "Their parents think the trauma make them better predators. And if you want a sympathic vampire, you have Harry's half-br— Whoops, spoilers," Richard said, putting his hand before his mouth.
"Minister Shacklebolt was working on getting some laws passed, but..."
"Prejudices aren't going to go away overnight," Charlotte finished. She gave Richard the stink-eye. "Consider yourself lucky I'm not interested in reading the books because that's just not dope, you hear?"
"Though it's brought up quickly once said character is on the main spot."
Marina looked at him, quite interested. "That would explain some of the rumors about Dresden. But let's forget that. Anything you wold want to talk about?"
Charlotte glanced at her partner and tapped her chin. "You know what you need to do?"
"Well, it is karaoke night..." Charlotte waved at Richard. "You said you had some song ideas, yeah?"
"I intended to present them to Marina too. What sort of song would you prefer? Sad, cheerful? I even have got some French ones, if you're interested."
That was the moment when Marina jerked her head back at her partner. "Wait a moment. Me too? I don't remember saying I'd sing. And what about giving me songs to sing?"
"Well, it is a karaoke, so you could give it a try. Besides, how many songs did you have the occasion of listening since you discovered magic?"
Ix just mumbled something and slid further down in her seat.
"She likes Barenaked Ladies and Train," Charlotte informed Richard. At Ix's stunned look, she rolled her eyes. "Oh, come on, I hear you sing in the shower all the time."
"I don't know either of these groups. Well, I know Barenaked Ladies, but only through Big Bang Theory's opening. Would this fit? At least you could say it's an ironic song for a wizard."
Marina was still giving him the stink-eye.
But Ix gave a tiny smile and took a deep breath, beginning to sing. Her voice was a lovely soprano, if a bit warbly from nerves.
"Our whole universe was in a hot dense state,
Then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait...
The Earth began to cool,
The autotrophs began to drool,
Neanderthals developed tools,
We built a wall (we built the pyramids),
Math, science, history, unraveling the mystery,
That all started with the big bang (Bang)!"
Charlotte clapped lightly, but Ix wasn't done, instead launching straight into the next verse. Her voice was stronger now, having gotten over the initial nerves.
""Since the dawn of man" is really not that long,
As every galaxy was formed in less time than it takes to sing this song.
A fraction of a second and the elements were made.
The bipeds stood up straight,
The dinosaurs all met their fate,
They tried to leap but they were late
And they all died (they froze their asses off)
The oceans and Pangaea
See ya wouldn't wanna be ya
Set in motion by the same big bang!"
"How about you save the rest for the microphone, hun?" Charlotte said, putting a hand on Ix's shoulder before she could continue.
"O-oh, sorry," Ix said, turning beet red. "I'll shut up now."
"It was good, though," Charlotte said, grinning.
Ix shrugged morosely. "Not as good as you."
Charlotte rolled her eyes. "Oh, come off it, I've got a supernaturally enhanced voice; of course I'm going to sound good. You—" She poked Ix in the chest. "—should be proud."
"I do not sing that well.If I tried to go louder with my song earlier, I'm pretty sure it would have been horrible. Anyways, looks like you've got a song ready for the scene. Now Marina..."
The wizard sighed, before taking Richard's notes. "Fine. But I'll only sing if a find a song I like in these notes? Am I clear?"
"Yes," Richard said before going back to the two Floaters. "So, anything else you would to speak about? Missions, fandoms, anyting?"
Ix rubbed the back of her neck in embarrassment. "I only got here back in March, you see. And, um, fandoms? I read a lot, but I really liked Doctor Who." She licked her lips nervously before adding, "I used to binge-watch it with my mum and dad while recovering from... you know."
"I've been here two years, got nothing special to remark on," Charlotte offered, putting an arm around her partner's shoulders. "And I like reading about vampire stories done well. Dracula? Not nearly as dry as most people would imagine. Seriously, if you haven't read it, go do so, like, ASAP. It's great."
"Lottie, didn't the book come out just a few years after you were born?" Ix asked skeptically.
"Hum, 1897, so forty-seven years after."
"Sorry, it's just in my world, Dracula was published by one of the Vampire Courts for screwing up one of their rival Courts by displaying all their strengths and weaknesses. Needless to say, this breed is near-extinct now."
Richard shrugged. "We don't have been on that many missions too, and we're here since January. Last one was a trollfic in Madoka Magica. My favorites fandoms at the moment are Dresden Files, Persona, and RWBY, but if I went for the full list, I would still be here tomorrow."
"No kidding?" she said. "Interesting. Guess I should be thankful for near-invulnerability."
"Since when have you ever lamented that?" Ix asked.
"Well, never, but that's beside the point."
"So, RWBY?" Ix said, turning to Richard and giving him a tentative smile. "That's a good one—Yang's my favorite."
"The sneaky geniuses behind Dracula's publication? They're psychic vampires feeding themselves by making humans around them feel emotions like lust, fear and despair, and they're don't shy about manipulating people to make their feeding easier, by using films for example. Remember how 'love' looks like in Twilight and do the maths. And I guess the vampires here are indestructible both for ego-stroking and dissuadng resistance. I don't know what would be the worst about this book and the other that were 'inspired' by it. People wrote and edited them straight, or some monster pushed them on the front side?"
Richard smiled back at Ix. "She and the other members of Team RWBY. and JNPR. You know what? It would be easier listing characters I don't like in this show. We also went in for a mission not long ago.."
Charlotte wrinkled her nose. "I am so glad this is limited to your home universe."
Ix's eyes lit up. "That must have been interesting. I'm still trying to get used to missions into my home continuum; I still can't get over those weird uniforms the students wear in the movies."
"I mean, there's no proof, but it does fit their modus operandi. And actually, these guys are rather on the low end of the supernatural food chain, they make up for this with manipulation and organization. Seems like my author does like writing worlds with a high power level."
Richard made a face at Ix's answer. "If 'interesting' means an obnoxious, emo, hyper-arrogant wreck mocking basic rules of the 'verse, with a fixation against Ozpin and badly written weapons who at least provided a quick way to deal with him, yes it was. But I guess that gong in a Harry Potter badic must have been quite the surprise. Marina ended up with the same problem for her first mission, and her hexing pretty much sent us there right after se had arrived at our RC. That made for an intense first mission. At least you're from the bookverse, so I guess you've got less chance of seeing your actual world being butchered, even if it feels weird to you." He then listened for a few moments at the Aviator's song before sighing. "Well, that's quite sad. Beautiful but sad."
She almost asked who the singer was, but decided she could later if it was so important. "Yeah," she agreed. "And you can't be serious—there are just as many badfics involving the bookverse as there are the movieverse. Sometimes you get fics blending the two as well, and things get really fun. So no, I'd say there's even more of a chance seeing it butchered."
"That said, she really seems like she was hit hard by life for putting so much emotion in this song. As for fanfic, I must admit I'm not exactly searching very deeply for stories to read, I don't always trust my jdgement about it. My main source of info are Tv Tropes recommendations, then favorites stories of successful authors or sporkers, like Mervin and Hyde's work."
Meanwhile, Marina had gone through one of Richard's notebooks of songs. "What do you people think about a song called I See Fire?"
"But if you want to, go for it," Ix said. She felt eyes on her and looked up to see Charlotte staring at them in disbelief. "What."
"You guys seriously don't know who she is?" She said. "That's the Aviator—half the agent team responsible for single-handedly taking down both Rose Potter and Little Miss Mary. She started off a human, got killed and turned into a Time Lord, and went nuts after she thought her partner died. Stole a TARDIS, ran away for a month, came back a few centuries older with some pretty high glitter levels. She's got a bit of a reputation."
"I... wasn't sure about it but— stop. Focus. No fanbratting. She clearly doesn't need this. Or anybody here, for that matter."
"Richard, what's this reaction?" Marina said, "Reminds me the way you acted at the end of our discussion with this cyborg, Desdendelle."
"Simply put? I admire her. The Flowers threw almost anything at her, and she's still here. She and Zeb are on of the two teams having taken down two Legendary badfics. The reports about her missions were one of the main thing which led me to go to Freelance. I thought about the Floaters Division for a moment, before remembering I wouldn't stomach potential Bad Slash. And I honestly think that's glitter story is duckheck."
"Well, she clearly didn't get any advantage out of these missions. She looks like some of the survivors of the worst part of the war with the Red Court. Is glitter level fueled by pain or what?"
Charlotte began ticking them off on her fingers. "Excessively tragic backstory, turning into a Time Lord, even more tragic stuff, becoming famous in a short amount of time—I think she was here for about a year before taking out Rose Potter and regenerating—becoming some amazing TARDIS pilot, a lot of angst..." She shrugged. "I don't know the full details but it's obvious the Flowers are worried, and for good reason. I mean, seriously, it sounds like something right out of a really bad fanfic."
"Tragic is trajeck if it doesn't involve long-term emotional scars, and unless I suddendly became blind and deaf, it doesn't look like this tragic was pushed aside like nothing given the way she looked like on stage. Pain like this cannot be feigned.
Turning into a Time Lord may seem cool, but that also means new body with bizarre abilities and no ducking way to be prepared to these problems, leading to serious identity troubles, identity troubles not helped when the two following missions in a row were about a Time Lord Sue, especially a 'human' one looking like her. Upstairs could just as well have rigged her console to say 'you're a filthy Sue' and get the same result. Oh, and becoming an alien from another universe means kissing goodbye to World One and her whole family on the long term, family that she can potentially outlive down to the last generation now. Now that seems like a wonderful boon giving you no reason for angst.
And about the moment she took down Rose Potter: the ducking Flowers threw the mission at her feet, what was she supposed to do, refuse or die? And Zeb was a pure newbie at this moment, and nobody is screaming glitter here. Celebrity has more to do with more missions being available to the random folk like me, and she clearly don't get any advantage of it. I mean, the Flowers threw her into Little Miss Mary after she had shown signs of snapping, when their usual politic is forced stay in FicPsych, because they 'care about our sanity', if only for efficiency. Sending some Neo-Black Cats to gun her down in her sleep would have been just as much subtle. They threw that much things at her, and now she's punished for surviving this, when she's already broken by this? That would be like blaming Ix for being a werewolf.
As for TARDIS piloting, like you said she had centuries to get better, and if I understood gossip well, she came back fesh of the Time War, meaning daily do-or-die situation where dying a way which lets you regenerate is actually a stroke of luck if I get this right.
That looks like badfic stuff indeed. Keywords here are 'looks like', given the fact she never got nothing on a silver platter, and paid full-force for anything thrown at her. If anything it looks like more some god decided to have some sick fun torturing someone to oblivion, and she's supposed to be blamed for that? Like the Flowers would said, that's compost. Period. Harry Dresden got a similar roller-coaster of Hell in his own life, and you would have to be mad to call him a Gary Stu. No way I'm judging someone with a similar story differently."
"Looks like I struck a nerve there," she said at last. "You know, the Flowers weren't too pleased when she stole the TARDIS and ran off and a bunch of agents jumped to her defense, either. She broke a ton of rules and a load of people hero-worship her. Sounds like Aura of Smooth to me." She crossed her arms. "If you ask me, they were right to put that tracker on her. I'm not saying she's a Sue... yet. But it doesn't look right to me. Especially since she's got a pretty high glitter count as it is; say what you will about her past, but that sends up a big red flag to me. And unless every single one of the CADs used to scan her was malfunctioning, she's got a pretty high glitter count last I heard."
"Yes, the Flowers are always right, and treat all the Agents the same way... Oh wait, they didn't rise a leaf when Nume came back as sole sane survivor of the Subjugation debacle. Suicide and Diocletian came back years later, and it didn't went much farther than stern warnings from Captain Dandy and probation. Same situation later? Whole Board on the case, with potential sentences nowhere near the standard set for any similar cases before, up to including a measure which would have been not disguised at all execution. And I'm pretty sure Agents reacted that way because now the Flowers are just sending us to the grinder without even caring about most basic efficiency. There is point where even the Laws of Narrative Comedy back down. And because the guy handling her reports just decded to hand down pretty much everything. I'm pretty sure any other agent ending up with the same public record would have ended up with similar support if people got to know what they're going through. I know I would have supported anyone in the same situation.
And there is this guy who pulled the Time Lord stunt first. Tawaki, right? He didn't get the tenth of the flak she got when he pulled this off, and ended up with a TARDIS he could fly perfectly without any form of training as if it was perfectly natural, handling these transfrmations around like free candies and he never was worried. Making up for lost time by double tapping the next people to do this doesn't feel right by any stretch of imagination for me."
Emphasis on tried. He then sighed heavily. "Sorry. You've got nothing to do with that, and fact is some things like geting her TARDIS back could have raised the glitter level, and they settled only for probation and tracker, at least I think... It's just like... That's beyond unfair. We're all doing things who are pretty crazy by the standards of our home-'verse just by being here, and we're not getting glitter levels off the charts. Besides, remember when I mentioned Dresden? Out of context, even a fraction of his whole story would be enough to get all the C-CADs we've got here blowing up, but taken inside his story? Perfectly credible and awesome story. We're ready to tolerate this sort of things for canon characters, but agents with similar problems and valid reasons? Glitters. Guess I'm still childish on the edges when it comes to this sort of things. I cannot imagine she deserved even half of this, so I get furious when I think about it. No one deserves this. We've got a right to happiness, duck it! Or at least for something else than constant torture until snapping."
"You're right, that is childish," Marina said. "Life is out for doing its worst at people. Only thing left is accepting this and moving forwards. You hate this? Do something about it. It probably won't succeed but it's that or whining."
"Best anyone can do is try to make the most out of the hand they were dealt. But that's it. Happiness is just a nice bonus if you can make it work."
Charlotte nodded agreement, frowning at Richard. "You do realize she hasn't really done anything all that great besides taking down two Legendaries? And even then she made a huge mess for others to clean up. Why so many agents insist on treating her like some amazing hero is beyond me."
"And, excuse the trolling, but if going after two Legendaries isn't a big deal, why getting up at her like this? More seriously, usual records about these things always have been a mess. Land Before Time? Repeated updates led to constant missionning for a while. Clbr**n? One of the agents die, his wife go to get him back, and they earn this happiness bonus both of you talked about. Subjugation? I'm pretty sure everyone know about this one in HQ. It's not like Legendaries are missions that end up smoothly. I mean, they are designated as Legendaries after all. I'd also want to point out that for Little Miss Mary, only important thing left was getting Snape and Harry out of their plothole and neuralyzing them. A cakewalk compared to this horror.
But that's not why I'm doing this, neither because I think she's some hero needing special care. This would go beyond Suvian. I do this because I think that us agents are alone against these 'Purfecter-than-U' abominations, and if we cannot count on each other, then we've got no one left. We aren't heroes by any stretch of imagination. We're just misfits left to the mercy of sadistic talking plants pitted against the worst these worlds can offer. We're the only people left who can care, and I honestly hope I'd care as much for any other agent in this situation. I'd prefer not adding hypocrisy to my other defaults."
"If somebody points a C-CAD out at you after that and it blows up, you cannot say you didn't do anything to provoke it," Marina said.
((I... should stop this, right?))
"You can't pin all the blame on the Flowers, you know. She could have just as easily decided to go to FicPsych and didn't; she could have taken better steps to make sure she didn't screw up those missions. Nothing was stopping her from asking other agents to help. Nothing was stopping her from taking precautions." She sneered. "I can guarantee if she weren't famous you wouldn't give two hoots about her."
"You know what? You had won this with the first part of your arguments. Oh, I could have said something about these, like the fact seeing herself like a Sue led to thinking she had to prove herself, leading to a vicious circle, but fact is you were right here. Nobody is perfect, especially not the glitterbags, but everybody should do its best, and accept life is unfair. Duck, I was even ready to let the first one pass, even if I know that refusal to see a shrink can hide an actual matter. But let me get this straight: never suggest again something I only care about famous people. I refuse to let someone say I'm that shallow I'd just let someone in the gutter without reacting because I don't know him. If I was really that uncaring, I wouldn't be in here in the first place."
Charlotte folded her arms. "But I'd bet anything you wouldn't be this invested in defending someone to a stranger you knew nothing about. Tell me more about why my old partner doesn't deserve to be locked up in FicPsych right now. No, really. Go on. I'm interested to know."
"Now, if you want to force him to see real life like real life, that's your probelm," Marina said to the vampire. "But humiliating him by pitting him in a dead end, enven a logical one, like this doesn't serve you better." She then turned to face Ix, "Now, would you have any idea about somethng relatively cheerful to sing? I've got some problems with the mood here."
((Should I edit out my precedent posts?))
Charlotte got up and moved to the other side of the room, leaving Ix with Richard and Marina.
She grimaced. "Sorry, I've not been here long enough to know what's going on," she said sheepishly. "And, hm." She thought for a minute. "I'm sure there are plenty of Disney songs out there that could work...?"
((Nah, it's fine, but I hope I proved my point that the only reason Ave gets so much sympathy in-universe is because she's well-known by the other agents' authors. There is a trope for that.))
"There are subjects I can react pretty strongly. Don't try to bring up the latter half of RWBY's Volume 3, for example. Now, if we're speaking about a Disney song, what about When Can I See You Again?"
"Would that work?" Marina asked to Ix.
((Guess it is easier to defend someone when you know him indeed.))
"Want to go up there together?" She looked a little terrified at the prospect.
"We'll see who begins there. You with this Big Bang Theory, or me. Is that good enough for you?."
"Though..." Ix gave a shy smile. "I was thinking of something else for my song." She stood up. "Shall we?"
((A thing? A THING!
Anyway, just so that people aren't waiting on me: From here on out, anybody can write their performance as a reply to the OP. You can assume Valon or Kala turns on the song you want; any reactions can be replies to the appropriate performance.
This came to me after my wifi ran out last night, and Skar couldn't actually write his performance with Lapis [who I indeed planned on going after Valon], so I decided to head that off on other people.
If you're wondering on who else is going for me? Well, originally I'd planned to reveal one or two new characters here, but I scrapped that. For now, though, know that Stephanie, Chakkik, and Kala are all going to perform.
Juuuuust as soon as I can figure out what songs they should sing.))
"Um... H-hello, everyone!" Her voice was small, so she had to lean into the mike to make herself heard. "Oh man, I'm r-really going to regret this... Uh, would it be okay if I performed just one song tonight? Hmm, how about "Try Everything" by Shakira, from the soundtrack of Disney's 55th animated feature, Zootopia?"
In the stands, Sarah began nodding enthusiastically. This did not comfort the blue-haired girl. At all.
She then scuttled to her dazed husband and withdrew two pairs of Snerchphones from his vest. "No offense, we just haven't seen the movie. No spoilers."
...and Lapis began strumming her lyre to the music. The melody seemed to dissolve her stage fright. Now all she needed was a special friend.
She took out a Poké Ball and threw it into the air. "All right, Triton! The floor is yours!"
As the music continued, the Oshawott started spraying beautiful jets of water into the air, making sure to aim them away from any electronic equipment. Lapis smiled, and then she sang.
"I messed up tonight, I lost another fight, I still mess up but I'll just start again... I keep falling down, I keep on hitting the ground, I always get up now to see what's next..."
The performance went beautifully. The water spray seemed to form shapes in the air, of Pokémon dancing and frolicking to the music. The final "Try everythiiiing..." was marked by a beautiful rainbow over Lapis' and Triton's heads.
The blue-haired girl bowed, and then realized she was staring down a live audience . Without waiting for everyone's reactions, she recalled her Oshawott and ran screaming from the stage.
"Well done, Lapis!" Sarah clapped her partner on the back when she returned to her seat.
"Please stop it," she replied, even though she was smiling broadly herself. "I'm already in enough trouble as it is!"
((If you haven't listened to "Try Everything", please do. It's amazing.))
"Hey, kid. You did well up there." She settled down next to the smaller girl.
"Armored... Sharp pointy bits... Deadly-looking... I think I'm in love..."
Cupid was laughing his butt off at the sight of it, while Sarah gave her female partner a Not Amused look.
"Uh, Lapis? We're in public..."
"Oh, right! Sorry!"
She released Kala and added, "Thanks for the kind words, by the way. I was worried that my stage fright would get the better of me, but... yeah. So, Kala, right?"
"Um... I'm already married... and yes, I'm Kala. So, um, why did you run from Valon?"
"Well... I saw the look on his face, and I thought he wanted to... uh..."
"Lapis is a former Sue," said Cupid. "She has, uh, issues..."
"Like the worry that half the PPC would want to kill her." Sarah wanted to dope-slap Lapis for encroaching on Kala but, remembering her super strength, she thought better of it. "Which is totally not true."
"Well... Rayner told me that your husband doesn't like children," Lapis added, before "meep"-ing a little. "I think Falchion told him that, but I don't know how he knew..."
Kala brushed her hair back. "Unfortunately, we had to go there during business hours. Valon doesn't hate kids, really, he just doesn't know how to deal with them. He had to live with his hellion of a younger brother for ten years, so I can't really blame him for that. He likes kids, but he can only handle them if they're well-behaved."
"Yeah, well, there's just one little problem," said Sarah. "Lapis' first reaction to just about anything is to panic. A lot."
She punctuated this by poking Lapis in the side, causing her to yelp in terror and nearly jump out of her chair.
"Sarah!" She glared at the older girl, but recomposed herself. "Anyway, yeah. I get scared easily and often. It's always been a thing with me, and I can't undo it. I'm not sure how Valon will take it..."
"Since when has that stopped her, though?" asked Cupid. "She's as loyal to the rest of us as Pit is to Lady Palutena, and have you seen her plan executions? If it weren't for her, Chakkik wouldn't be here with us!" He looked around. "Where is he, anyway? Is Steph with him?..."
A pair of gold tentacles wrapped around his waist and reeled him into a tight embrace. "HI CUPID!"
...the tentacled embrace of the kraken girl who was, apparently, right next to the group.
"H-hey, Steph! How are you and Chak tonight? Oooh, are you performing? I know I am!"
"How have you been?"
"We're all good," she said. "How about you?"
"She's probably more than fine with me around," Cupid replied with a laugh. "At least HQ doesn't have any interrupting ninjas! Right?"
"An interrupting console is much worse. Trust me."
((snatches up mini-Agent))
"An interrupting badfic." Stephanie's entire body darkened. "Nothing ruins a date like a Sue invasion."
"What happened?! Was this about what you said earlier?"
"Yep." Cupid looked understandably cross. "Monster Musume and Naruto. Nothing ruins your day quite like a monster-girl Kurama replacement..."
"I don't know. Cupid learned a lot about liminals, though... and I learned that I can't use PPC technology..."
"...something which I honestly should've done when they joined me and Lapis on an outing of our own."
"Wait, this was while Steph and I were dating, right?" asked Cupid.
"Yep. Steven Universe featuring three different anime continua. Luckily, we had three other agents with us, plus Seung-Li. It was pretty crazy, but we managed to pull through and got to hang out in Beach City afterwards."
"Sounds like you had a good time," said Cupid. "A better time than we did, that's for sure..."
Stephanie turned an even shinier gold color and reeled Sarah into a hug as well. "THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!"
"Happy to help a friend of a friend," she said. "Now could you please let go? I think Lapis wants me to introduce her to Valon..."
Cupid gave her a look indicating his assent.
... and immediately turned to Cupid, her eyes sparkling.
"So when are you gonna sing?"
"He likes making friends, and the thought of losing one forever makes him sad."
...by Lapis letting out a small scream and nearly jumping onto Kala.
"Oh, it's just Steph," she said, waving hello to her poker friend's partner. "Anyway, well, I'll try to talk to Valon. Falchion told me that he seems like a nice enough person, but again I'm not sure if my nature would clash with his own."
"Hey, I can try and ease you into it," said Sarah. "If only I knew him personally like Adam does, but I could still help out at least. Hopefully."
"... he'll probably find you, he's been dancing around all over this place."
"Could you at least tell him that it's okay to try and talk to me?" Lapis twiddled her thumbs a little. I may be young and panicky, but I've been told that I can interact with others as though I'm a grown-up. The worst that could happen is if I got startled and jumped onto his head... Uh, he wouldn't mind that, would he?" She tugged at her collar, which made her anime sweat drop slip down her shirt.
Well, at least she didn't jump onto Kala's head...
He appeared almost as if by magic. "Yes, hon?" He froze at the sight of Lapis. "Er... hi?"
Lapis nudged Sarah, who had just been used as a "cuddlefish" toy, and whispered, "Help me..."
Having recovered from the awkwardness, Sarah returned to her female partner's side. "Oh! Hi, Valon! I assume you've met Lapis, ri-"
"I ran off on him." Lapis buried her face in her hands. "Which was kinda stupid of me... I do get a bit irrational when I panic, okay? Anyway... Hi?"
"Valon, this is Lapis," said Sarah. "She's my partner, and she's really nice once you get to know her..."
"Um. Am I that scary? You actually look kinda huggable." At six-foot-six, Valon towered over Lapis; he knelt down in an attempt to be less intimidating.
"Um, honestly, I don't like it when people treat me like I'm still a kid, and bending over kinda smacks of that... Sorry. I just... There's a reason I joined at the age when I did."
"We'd rather not explain what happened," said Sarah. "I mean, Lapis knows more than I did, and Cupid told me a while back that he does, too, but... I'd rather not know the full story. Nobody would, anyway."
Lapis decided to change the subject. "So, what did you think of my performance? I was a Pokemon Coordinator in my homefic, and I sang a lot when I did my contest shows. I was trying to channel that particular period, and I think I succeeded."
"Sorry, I didn't hear it... I was still dazed from my face-to-floor, and when I collected myself there were Snerchphones on my head."
"Her song was from a movie you hadn't seen, Valon." Kala shrugged. "I thought that maybe it'd be spoilers."
((Think maybe next time you could let the "whole crowd" decide for themselves if they want to be amazed or not?))
Without waiting for anyone else, and before Kala could stop him, Valon had already made his selection and made his way to the microphone.
He took a deep breath…
And with a flurry of wild gesticulations, Valon started his performance of ‘One Week.’ He never stood still for a moment; his hands were constantly flying around and making appropriate gestures. His voice was a lively soprano, loud and full of energy.
“Hold it now and watch the hoodwink! Cause I make you stop, think! You’ll think you’re looking at Aquaman!”
At the first verse, Valon started drawing things from his vest, again trying to match the song: an Aquaman costume and a stop sign were the first things to emerge, followed very swiftly by a plate of sushi and a frying pan. Valon continually drew out new props and dropped the old ones at his feet.
By the time the song concluded, the pile of things at his feet consisted of a film camera, a katana, a giant Snicker’s bar, a bag of golf clubs, a Sailor Moon coronet, a fedora and whip, and numerous other things.
“It’ll still be two days till we say we’re sorry… Birchmount Stadium, home of the Robbie…”
When the last note faded, Valon turned, bowed, and tried to walk away… completely forgetting the pile of knickknacks at his feet. His boot caught on the pile, and he fell rather gracelessly to the floor.
Falchion rushed over to Valon, ready to extend a hand until he realized that he had razor-sharp wings for forelimbs. So he offered a talon instead.
"You okay? That was a great performance, but... well... Hey, can I help you clean up all that stuff?"
Rashida glared at him from the stands, but didn't argue.
Valon stood up in something of a daze. "An' sure, knock y'self out..."
"I'd rather not be the first guy up, if I mess up it'd ruin the show..."
Lapis was there a moment later, keeping a healthy distance from Valon, but having decided to help as well. "Technically, two people went before you. And I know your author enough to say that you have nothing to worry about."
"Yeah, but still. You know what, why don't you go next?"
"You're already on the stage. I guess this thing is free volunteering, so..."
Lapis shuddered a little, but then sighed. "All right, if you insist. But if I mess up myself, you owe me. A lot."
Her glare softened slightly. "Hey," she said grudgingly. "Didn't think I'd see you here."
((Jumping up to the top to keep the threads from getting unwieldy.))
The Librarian sat down in Taldaris' vacated seat. "That is to say, my dear partner." He paused. "How are you doing?"
"Was doing better until some protoss came up and started asking questions," she said sourly. "At least it looks like the others are getting ready to start singing soon. This should be a hoot and a half..."
The Librarian sounded rather confused. He tugged at his chin. "You mean the telepathic alien?" he asked after a while. "I could... feel it, I think. It was broadcasting like a faulty antenna."
The Aviator briefly tugged on her ponytail. "He mentioned something about having problems with that. Dunno if it went two ways though... maybe I was too short with him." She sighed, then gave him a tired grin. "I guess you're not going to be singing today?"
"Me, sing? As if the whole idea of non-professionals singing in public was not embarrassing enough," he said. "Supposedly, I am here to 'socialise'." He frowned.
The Aviator punched him lightly on the shoulder and glanced up at the front of the room. "Oh, hey, it looks like Zeb is going first. This should be interesting."
He hm pensively. "It might be," he allowed. "I do hope I will not have to clean my ears afterwards."
The Aviator watched, a grin slowly appearing on her face as Zeb burst into song, adding some impromptu dance moves along the way. "Kid's certainly excited," she commented, hiding a smile as she settled in to listen.
Her partner was good, though not incredible, but she still applauded loudly when he finished.
Of course, her grin promptly vanished when Zeb came running over to her. "You should sing next!" he said, putting his front paws on her knees. "It'll be fun!"
The Aviator made a face and lightly pushed him off. "No."
Zeb just started at the Aviator, giving her the best puppy eyes he could master. "Pleeeeeease?"
The Aviator just stared at him. "I told you, I'd only come if I didn't have to sing."
"Aw, come on! Look, look, look, how about this: one song. Just one. I get to pick it. And then you can go back to the RC and play with your TARDIS. Okay?"
Well. How could she resist that? "...Fine," the Aviator said, letting Zeb grab her jacket sleeve in his teeth and start pulling her to the microphone.
Wait, no, this was a bad idea, very, very bad idea. The Aviator glanced at the Librarian over her shoulder as she was pulled away, mouthing "Help me" as she left.
"Who wants to sing first I DO I D—mmph!"
Kala clapped a hand to her husband's mouth and dragged him away. "YOU can wait. Let's see..." She looked around at the gathered agents, before pointing at Zeb. "You. You're on first."
Zeb looked up in surprise before bounding over to Valon and Kala. "Okay, then! I'm cool singing anything." He beamed and swished his tail happily when a thought occurred to him. "Though—" He glanced over his shoulder at the Aviator, who he noted with a pleased smile was talking quietly to the Librarian. "Do you have that first song from High School Musical? I think my partner would like to sing it next..."
"Just tell me what song you want played; I've got Apple Music, YouTube, Soundcloud, the works."
"I have no idea what any of that means, but okay. Um..." He thought for a minute, then hesitantly said, "Maybe 'You've Got a Friend in Me'? From Toy Story? I always liked that one."
The first few notes of 'You've Got a Friend in Me' issued from the speakers.
Deep breaths, he reminded himself. You're good at mimicking people. You can do this.
Following his own advice, he took a few deep breaths as the intro finished, then launched into the song.
"You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
When the road looks rough ahead
And you're miles and miles from your nice warm bed
You just remember what your old pal said
Boy you've got a friend in me."
Unfortunately, there was only so much mimicry could do, and he ended up having to sing an octave higher than the original song, his voice thin and reedy, but what he lacked in talent he made up for with enthusiasm, starting to dance along in front of the microphone as he sang. The fact that he tripped over his own paws a few times didn't deter him one bit.
He almost didn't realize when the song was beginning to wrap up, but when he reached the end, he belted out the last few lines with as much enthusiasm as he could muster.
"And as the years go by
Our friendship will never die
You're gonna see it's our destiny
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me
You've got a friend in me!"
Done, and feeling quite pleased with himself, he turned and bowed, grinning from ear to ear.
"Right, Valon," he said, beckoning him down so he could whisper. "Have... what was it... Oh, yeah! 'Start of Something New'! I'll go get the Aviator." And with that, he ran off, tail held high.
Once they were standing beside it, he let go, bouncing in place.
The Aviator took one look at the song Valon had pulled up on his laptop and noped out. "High School Musical, Zeb? You gotta be f*****g kidding me."
Zeb shook his head, still grinning. "Nope!"
"You do realize this is a duet, right?" the Aviator said, backing away only to bump into the Librarian.
"Yep!" Zeb said happily. "And that's your partner right behind you!"
The Aviator stared pleadingly at Valon. "Don't do this."
The cadaverous agent tapped at his laptop again, and the song started up.
"Forget it, Zeb, I'd rather stay here and not sing."
And with that, the Aviator turned and strode back to her seat, leaving Zeb to run after her, the music still playing in the background.
((But after seeing this, I'm half the mind of singing Please Don't Say You Love Me, Gabrielle Aplin. Would that trigger any reaction?)
((I saw Something New's lyrics, and now I'm not getting this idea out of my head.))
((This isn't The Little Mermaid; you're not going to get anyone to fall in love by having them listen to a song. :P))
He was immediately followed by an even more gigantic young woman with the features of a squid.
"Miss Podd? If you would be so kind as to remind me why you brought me here?"
"I know you like singing, and you can sing pretty well!"
For once in his life, Chakkik felt heat rising in his face. "Singing 'Don Giovanni' in the showers does not qualify for this... karaoke... thing." He mentally cursed just how badly he'd run out of words.
((Who wants bubbles and grumps, YOU DO YOU DO))
"Because it might be fun and we could both use some socialisation," Des replied. "If I can try to sing in this tub" - he tapped his faceplate - "then so can you."
The Librarian tried make an about-face, but found that Des stood in his way.
"Ah-ah-ah," tutted the cyborg, "no shirking of social duty."
"Fine. It is on your head."
"If you want a seat, there is still some chairs here," he said waving his hand slightly.
Marina looked a little bit more dubiously at the larger and bulkier agent. "Are you sure that's a good idea? This armor wouldn't fare very well if..."
"You only need to avoid touching him. Things should be fine."
"Do I need to scram? Because going hallucinatory or having life support break down right now would suck massive balls," he said and crossed his arms.
"Well, Marina is a Dresden Files wizard, and they pretty much disagree with tech. However, we've found out that getting her a World One disguise supress her powers, and the techbane field."
"Except if I touch something directly. But I only need to not stay close of you for avoiding any problems. Or you can go elsewhere if you really want," Marina shrugged. "Cannot blame you if you want to avoid risks."
Surprisingly, the vehement answer came from the Librarian, who, immediately afterwards, frowned and looked aside.
Des' helmet turned a little toward the Librarian, his faceplate as immobile as ever, before turning back to Richard. "I'm a cyborg, mate. More machine than man here." He sighed; it sounded metallic. "I mean: if, say, the cybernetics regulating my heart fritz out, the resurrection cocktail will kick in after a minute, but it's not pleasant. Gods forbid that my CyberBrain will short out — we're looking at permanent memory and capability loss at best, in that case."
Richard looked disappointed. "Marina is right, I cannot ask you to remain here if you can get hurt that much. Unless you use a disguise yourself, since being cyborg must make the singing difficult, but... No if you want to go, just do it. Sorry for the disturbance, ... What's your name? Mine's is Richard Legard."
"And mine is Marina Nicodelli, just like he said," Marina said, before eyeing silently the other man, perplexed by his reaction. "You don't exactly look like you have a life support system. Could you tell me why my — suppressed — hexing seems to scare you so much?"
"Go on, Librarian," he told his partner, "I know this sort of thing bores you. I think that's the Aviator over there?" He pointed at the Time Lady, who was seemed like she was having a bad day.
With a puzzled shrug, the Librarian left the small group and Des turned his attention back to the conversation.
"I'm Desdendelle — Des — and that's the Librarian," the cyborg said. "I'd say pleased to meet you but I'm kinda fond of my brain. Anyway, short version, since I've said this already: most of me is a machine. Right now, I'm closer to a droid than to a proper meatbag. Fortunately you can replace cybernetic body parts, but unfortunately, my brain is also about... seventy percent? If I remember correctly, anyway — seventy percent electronics and stuff. So yeah, no, I'll skedaddle. I'd like to keep my memories."
Richard stopped speaking for a short moment. "You're agent Desdendelle?" he continued, a bit in awe.
Marina raised one brow. "Is there any reason you look like this?"
"Well, amongst the Floaters in service whose the reports are available he's easily the veteran. Three or four years in this place, with some really horrible missions, so he does deserve some respect in my opinion. Reading his reports also hooked me up on the magical girls animes from Nanoha and Madoka... Euh, sorry I'm being really rude speaking about you like this. And keeping you here."
Marina looked a bit curiously at the cyborg "So, you're the guy we can thank for getting this wonderful trollfic? No offense, but that was quite the ride, though I guess this place was quite a ride for you, judging by your state. Anyways, what was the problem with your partner? I could swear I saw him paling when my techbane problem was aborded."
((The fic I'm talking about is still in the making, and Crawling Chaos, it kills me more inside every time I see it.))
"Blame Intelligence for your trollfic problem, not me," he said. You could almost hear the unsaid "idiot" at the end. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'll go avoid having my brain fritzed by techbane wizards. Not to mention Lump's in some sort of problem."
With that, the cyborg turned a hundred and eighty degrees and made a beeline for his partner, his heavy boots stomping noisily on the Generic Surface floor.
Marina Nicodelli looked around dubiously, before going back to her partner "I'm not exactly up to date when it comes about music, Richard. Must have something to do with the fact that I'm not able to use a music player."
"Because you wanted to meet more people, and this is an excellent occasion for? Nevermind the fact it's a karaoke, making it automatically a wonderful event?" Richard said, with a bit more excitation than his partner. Make this way more.
"...Okay. I guess I can try this myself later,but for now, I'll be watching this. But it's better to be worth using this disguise again."
The two Assassins then took place at chairs at a reasonable distance from te mic.
"I can't believe it took someone this long to host a karaoke night!" she said. "This is going to be great!"
"I think so, too," said Miguel. "You want to get us signed up or should I?"
Ami looked at the stage where the host was. Then she shook her head, blinked several times, and looked again at the large scorpion-woman standing behind him. "Whoa. Um...?"
"Oh, that must be Kala," said Violet. "Cupid told me a little about her. She's Valon's husband and a Monster Musume-verse girtablilu. Remember Stephanie from the New Years' party?"
"Vividly," said the other three agents.
"So do all of us want to sing, or just Ami, or what?" asked Chris, desperate to change the subject.
"I'll take a whack at it," said Miguel. "I can't promise anything mind-blowing, but...it should be fun."
Violet nodded. "Count me in, Chris. I've got a handful of eighties songs and total confidence in myself."
Chris gave his partners a thumbs-up. "By the way, no amount of pleading, bribery, bargaining, or brute force is going to convince me to get up onstage. I'll sing along to the crowd songs, but that's it. Are we clear?"
"Very," said Ami.
"Awwww, does somebody have stage fright?" Violet teased.
"Shut up, Violet." Chris stalked off to the front in a huff, while Ami got the others three neighboring seats in the middle of the fourth row.
Well, the disguised dinosaur, anyway. Chris soon found himself staring down a tall Japanese redhead, who was making sniffing noises and tilting his head at him curiously.
"There's a faint scent of close kin on you," he said. "Not the same species, but similar."
He looked away and snorted, before glancing back at him and specifically the empty seat next to him. "Can I sit here, or is there anyone else who is due to occupy this particular resting spot?"
The shorter of the two, a yellow MLP-verse Earth pony with an orange-streaked red mane, stopped dead in her tracks when she saw the assembled agents, causing her protoss partner to stumble over her.
"This. Is. Awesome!" she exclaimed, hopping excitedly in place. "There's so many people here!"
"Fire Flash. Watch where you stop," said the High Templar telepathically as he stepped over her. "One must ensure that room entries and exits are clear at all times." He straightened out his black tunic and turned his glowing blue eyes at the crowd. Despite the lack of a mouth, he grimaced as he struggled to tap into the psychic presence generated by the assembled agents.
Fire Flash looked up at him. "Taldaris," she said, "it's not the time to practice your psychic things. I brought you here to have fun, not for you to grumble. So c'mon, lighten up and join me! We can totally rock this crowd. With my voice and your... telepathy... thing... um. We'll make this work. We'll turn that frown of yours upside down! Even if you can't actually smile!"
"Easy for you to say," he replied. "You are not the one who has had to alter their entire way of life. I will go meditate in the back of the room. Call me if you need me."
As Taldaris wandered away, Fire Flash rolled her eyes. "Suit yourself," she muttered grumpily before trudging towards the stage. She then noticed Ami out of the corner of her eye. Overjoyed at seeing another native to her home continuum, she dashed up next to her and skid to a halt in a clatter of steel shoes and Canterlot day guard armour. "Heya!" she said cheerfully. "Nice to see someone else from home! What's your name? I'm Fire Flash!"
"Oh, h-hello! I'm Ami Seeker. It's nice to meet another pony. I hear about the others in HQ sometimes, but I never see them. We should organize a meetup in the Courtyard!"
"Oh, absolutely!" she said, looking around. "We'd just need a head count, and someone to send a message, and... and..." She took a deep breath. "Oh, right. Did we intr— yeah, we introduced ourselves. So, where are you from? I'm all the way from Vanhoover, hence the scarf!" She pointed at the article of clothing in question that was peeking out from under her armour's harness with a hooftip. "Alright, so maybe the scarf isn't necessary since we're mostly indoors all the time, but I think it looks good on me. So, er..."
The pony realized she wasn't waiting for Ami's response. She then tried to stand still for a minute and waited for an answer with a smile on her face.
"I don't actually know where I'm from, though. My author never got around to writing a full story for me. Can you tell me about Vanhoover?"
At that point, Chris made his way over to them. "OK, gang, I let Valon know you three wanted to sing. No promises on specific songs, though," he said.
"Thanks, Chris," said Violet. "Sorry about the stage fright crack earlier. Have you met Fire Flash?"
"Bwuh? Oh, hi! Sorry, wasn't paying attention. I'm Chris, it's nice to meet you." He held out his right hand for the pony.
With her armour restricting her mobility and the height difference between the two agents, it proved to be an arduous task. She eventually gave up and curtsied instead, crossing one of her front legs over the other and doing a quick bob.
"Pleased to meetcha!" she said enthusiastically. "Always lovely to meet new folks. How are y'all doing today?" In almost the same breath, she turned to Ami and answered her question. "Vanhoover is awesome! It's by the ocean so the weather is kinda wet all the time but it's nice and constant and come winter we get snow and--" Fire Flash took a deep breath before continuing. "And we're right up next to the mountains and the big pine forests of the north so we go skiing and hiking in the winter and... yeah! Oh, and they say that they're planning to lay down railroad tracks that'll go even further north and cut through the Crystal Mountains! That'll make for a good vacation, right? Yeah, so, I'm excited and how about you?"
She flashed another large smile again and hoped in Celestia's name that her verbal tsunami she hadn't scared the other pony off. Maybe Taldaris had a point when he was telling her to calm down.
"I hope that works out for Vanhoover!"
"If you're referring to the karaoke event, yes, I'm very excited," said Violet with a grin. "We've been practicing!"
"Or all individually?" asked Fire Flash. "That'd be so cool if you were doing a duet with one of your partners. I wanted to do one with my big bro over there," she said, nodding in Taldaris' direction, "but the grouch said he didn't want to. Something about 'uncontrollabe psionic emissions'. Pah."
"I mostly practice singing on my own. Stuff tends to happen when I sing--" she showed Fire Flash her cutie mark "--and I don't want to bother my partners with damage control."
Chris looked at Ami with concern. "I didn't feel anything when you did that defeat-by-poetry reading in Moria..."
"I didn't have my regular magic then," she clarified. "Elf magic is weird."
He nodded. "I see. ...Wait, where'd Miguel go?"
"Who? I don't think I saw anypony disappear somewhere."
Turning back to Ami, she added: "So... what kind of magic are we talking about? Super-destructo voice or something? Sounds neat! Makes my own talent sound lame by comparison." Fire Flash smiled and shifted her position a bit, making her armour's plating clatter against each other.
"The effects depend on the song and my intent when I sing, really. For example..." She closed her eyes, focused on her magic, and began humming the Song of Storms.
She knew she'd done it right when Chris and Violet gasped in surprise, and a distinct smell of wet fur reached her. Ami opened her eyes and rubbed the water off her glasses. "I've found that with instrumental pieces, it's easier for me to make a literal, or in this case canonical, effect happen," she explained. "There are some songs I pretty much have to use to affect others' emotions, like Pinkie Pie's Smile song, or the spell doesn't work."
"So that's what you meant by damage control," said Violet. "You could theoretically use your voice as a sonic weapon, though, right?"
"If I were willing to hurt my throat and learn a metal song, yes," Ami deadpanned.
The Aviator had been slouching in her seat at the back of the room, arms still tightly folded, when she noticed the protoss approaching. Noting the grimace on his face, she said, "Your partner drag you here, too?"
He struggled to touch the Aviator's mental signature with his own psionic presence. The events of the past few days had drained him of energy and had thrown him off balance, as if he had suddenly been robbed his his sight.
"Yes," he said via telepathy, broadcasting his answer through multiple mental channels in hopes that it would reach the Aviator's ears. "Fire Flash dragged me here. Said that I needed to, and I quote, 'relax and have fun'. I do see her point and will do my best to interact with others, but it is... difficult."
The High Templar took a seat next to her. Unfortunately, being over three metres tall, he didn't fit very well in his seat. Nevertheless, he tried to make himself comfortable. "May I ask how your day has been?"
Though she knew protoss were telepathic, she'd never met one in person before. It was interesting, to say the least.
"Day's been sh***y," she said, shrugging. "Had to take down triplet Sues in a Twilight badfic and then get dragged down here by my own partner." She nodded at Zeb, who was bouncing excitedly around a very familiar looking Skarmory. "He's the grey and blue lion over there. Gets waaay too excited about this sort of thing for his own good." She paused. It would probably be polite to return the question. "How was your day?" she asked lamely.
"A little disorienting. I have recently lost on of my... senses," he said, turning his head slightly so that the Time Lady could see the cleanly-severed neural cords at the back of his head. "Even if it has been a few days, I still cannot find an efficient way to channel my psionics. I fear HQ's technology had been a crutch. Were it not for plothole technology I would have had to deal with this issue much sooner."
The protoss then seemed to sigh. "Forgive me. I did not wish to say so much. My sister," he looked at Fire Flash, "is trying to distract me from my troubles. I appreciate the thought, but I'd rather discuss it with a peer."
The Aviator gave a tired sigh. "I know it's not exactly the same, but my species can feel others of our kind. Ever since leaving Gallifrey, it's been weirdly quiet having only a few others around. I still have all my abilities, though, so..." She grimaced. "Not even close to the same. I'll shut up now, sorry."
"As you wish." He let his gaze wander around the room. "Do you know any of these agents? I'm afraid my department doesn't let me socialize often; I have very few acquaintances outside Internal Affairs." The High Templar seemed to sigh again. "I forget my manners. My name is Taldaris of Aiur, formerly of the Templar caste before its dissolution. And you?"
The Aviator eyed him warily. DIA. Great. Just what she needed. "I'm the Aviator," she said, internally cringing. "And I recognize most of the agents here, but I only know a few of them—" She broke off when she sensed the Librarian, only to notice his and Des' arrival a moment later. This day just kept getting better and better. "...a few of them personally," she finished.
Despite his half-muted psionics, he could acutely feel the tension emanating from the Aviator. "Excuse me," he said, "but I am feeling quite a lot of negative vibes coming off of you. Have I offended you? If so, I apologize."
The Aviator took a deep breath and slowly let it out. "Sorry. Just. DIA. Makes me nervous."
"Memories of the Department of Internal Security still linger on." The protoss shifted in his seat and laced his fingers together. "Regrettable. I had hoped that time would help to rehabilitate the image of my department, but alas. Still, I suppose that this negative perception of a department with power over other agents will never go away in a place like this." Taldaris' gaze softened. "Not that I have anything against the PPC's idea of order. It has been an enlighening experience-- and I have made plenty of good memories here. Perhaps I should request a transfer... become an agent trainer... if I had success with Emiranlanoamar, I figure I could whip anyone into shape. Figuratively speaking, of course."
Finally realizing that he was serious, she shook her head. "DIS hasn't got anything to do with it; that was way before my time. But if you don't know, then I'm not going to say." She tilted her head. "So you're Emiran's trainer? I don't think he's mentioned you."
The protoss' eyes twinkled. "With an ego that large, do you think he would ever admit to being trained? Yes, he was my disciple when he first came into the PPC. He was fresh out of the fire— the Time War, I believe he called it. He came into the PPC extremely arrogant and full of notions of Time Lord superiority. Thankfully, he listened to my teachings and he found a newer, more productive path to channel his emotions."
Taldaris idly picked some lint off of his tunic's shoulder. "And you, Aviator: I sense great turmoil in you. It would do you good to find an outlet for those emotions as well."
And worked on setting up mental walls, hoping that would keep Taldaris from doing whatever it was he was doing to read her mind. "Tell me something I don't know. Believe me, I'm already seeing a shrink. FicPsych just loves me."
It was an odd mental noise— and it seemed to burrow in one's ears.
"Moving on, then," he said. He glanced at Zeb, who was mingling with the crowd. "I see that your partner is one of these... Pokey-men. If it is not too much trouble, can you explain what they are? I have worked alongside a green fairy in white robes and what appears to be a grass goat during some of my assignments. Are they Pokey-men too?"
The Aviator frowned for a moment before connecting the dots. "Oh, Victoria and Buck? Yeah, they're Pokémon, too—Zeb likes to hang out with them sometimes. Pokémon are monsters that come from the Pokémon franchise; the player is sent off on a journey to complete a Pokémon encyclopedia called a Pokédex, and to do so you have to capture, train, and battle Pokémon. There are different types of Pokémon, like Fire, Water, Grass, and each type has its own strengths and weaknesses. Fire burns Grass, Water douses Fire. Stuff like that. There are eighteen different types so it's like playing a really weird game of Rock, Paper, Scissors." She paused. "Did that make sense?"
...then shook his head.
"If these beings, these... so-called 'monsters'... if they are as intelligent as Officers Victoria and Buck... why do they allow themselves to be captured? Do they have a civilization? A language? I do not understand."
The Aviator tilted her head. "I know they don't have a civilization, at least, not in the same sense we do. Pokémon seem to have a language they all understand despite making different noises. As for the battling... I never asked, but I suppose that's just how they are." She thought for another moment, then shrugged. "It's not gone into detail in the canon as far as I know, and my own partner comes from a universe where the rules were different, so I wouldn't be able to ask him anyway. Sorry."
((Have a fan theory I have added to my headcanon.))
Taldaris slumped in his chair, clearly thinking hard about the situation at hand. "This is... new. Terrans produce the strangest things in their media..." He glanced at the Aviator. "Is there one Pokey-man species or 'type' that is generally superior to all of the others? Or is it in the trainer's best interest to assemble a diverse team? In retrospect, I assume it should be the latter choice but I shall defer to the expert's opinion." He looked at the Aviator expectantly.
"Well, up until the last set of games, Dragon was generally considered overpowered, but then a new type, Fairy, was added to balance things out. So... now, there isn't a huge advantage like there used to be. As for team diversity, yeah, that's generally what most people try to achieve. Some like to pick one type and stick with it, though; makes for a nice challenge."
"With regards to capturing sentient creatures and using them to fight," said the Templar. "At least in this place, Officers Victoria and Buck are acknowledged as sentient beings and enjoy the rights and independance that all PPC personnel benefit from. What of the Pokey-Men in the 'verse itself? It feels... off, somehow. Do they need more freedom? Should something be done?"
((And so, Team Plasma rises again :P))
"It ended up boiling down to 'people and Pokémon working together can do more than working alone', so make of that what you will." The Aviator shrugged. "Zeb does have some traits that make him act a bit like a pet sometimes—I can't tell you how often he tries to beg for food using puppy eyes—but I think it's more a case of practicality and safety. Wild Pokémon battle all the time on their own, but trainers provide Pokémon with regulated battles, a regular source of food, and guaranteed access to a Poké Center—that's a Pokémon hospital, basically—and trainers give their Pokémon a chance to train and get stronger."
"I shall have to study this further. I should always learn more about my allies— if only to serve and protect them better." He crossed his legs and watched the crowd. "This is nice, isn't it? I wonder when the singing will start. Fire Flash needs the outlet for her... boundless energy."
He seemed to sigh and shrink in his seat. This so-called "boundless energy" was an obvious source of many lost hours of sleep.
"I dunno when it's supposed to start, but I'm hoping it doesn't." She sighed. "I wouldn't be here if my partner hadn't made me come. So my opinion the "niceness" is gonna be a bit skewed."
"You are only here to please your partner, I see. I believe that you are under no obligation to stay— and if this makes you this uncomfortable, I'm sure your partner would understand."
The Aviator grimaced. "I was a sh***y partner to him in the past; I have to make it up to him somehow. And... well, he really wanted me to come here, so I did."
Taldaris stared at her for a few moments. "That is a... strange way of compensating. Then again, I shall not pretend to know anything about your life. I would advise you not to think of yourself as a martyr, however. Such notions are seldom productive."
The Aviator's face hardened."I'm just trying to make him happy. Sometimes you have to compromise to make others happy. Martyrdom has nothing to do with it." She crossed her arms tightly, glaring at the far wall.
Taldaris filed a little mental note to himself. He stood up, dusted himself off, and bowed towards the Time Lady.
"I am sorry for inconveniencing you, Aviator," he said. "Please accept my apologies. I think I shall leave before causing further offence."
"Look, Navare, he's got no mouth! Wonder how he eats?" Surprisingly, the deep baritone belonged to a melon-sized ball of gunmetal-coloured light.
"I do apologise in my partner's stead," the man accompanying the ball of light told Taldaris. "Politeness is not its strong suite."
...as he continued to move away from the Aviator.
"No harm done and no offence taken," said Taldaris. "In fact, I could ask the same question of you, Agent. My name is Taldaris. I am a protoss and my kind feed by photosynthesis. And you two are...?" He looked at the two agents.
"So you're a plant!" it said.
"Amris...!" the man said, waggling a finger at his partner. "Where're your manners?" He sighed. "I'm Navare, a mage," he told Taldaris, "and this is—"
"Marsivil Getrono-Parsim Amris Handrahen Trehebil-Makat, Culture Drone," the ball of light interrupted. It turned gunmetal again. "Wait a moment. How are we communicating? You are obviously not talking, nor are you broadcasting in any shape my instruments can pick up."
"Although my psionic talent is currently..." He made a vague gesture with his four-fingered hands. "Dampened, shall we say, I am still able to broadcast my speech and perceive some of your own thoughts. All on the superficial level, of course-- true mind reading is an ability only my people possess. Sorry-- used to possess." He shrugged. "Times change. But a question, if I may, Agent Marsivil. How much of your body is organic? I sense a formidable amount of energy in your shell but little if any biological power."
"Amris. Marsivil is the star system I was manufactured in," the Drone explained. "To answer your question — if the word 'Drone' wasn't a big enough hint — my level 5 brain is biomechanical, but that is it. I am a machine." It turned grey-yellow.
Navare, meanwhile, hmed to himself. Once Amris was done speaking, the mage tried to ping Taldaris with his own brand of telepathy, broadcasting a simple mathematical series. In the back of his head, he could feel Apparaat's subroutines, but he paid them no heed.
"Another question, if you do not mind. I see that you have no 'mouth' either-- what is it that sustains you? A miniature power generator obviously, but what is its type and fuel? Nuclear fusion, perhaps?"
He felt a light touch at the edge of his mind. It carried with it a simple mathematical formula-- something universally recognized and easy to parse. Taldaris turned to Navare and seemed to smile. "Trying to establish first contact through mathematics, Agent? I'd recommend reciting prime numbers instead of an equation. Any sentient species can easily recognize their worth-- less chances of being interpreted as random data."
"Efficient and clean." The Drone turned orange. "Fusion power is dangerous, not to mention rather wasteful, considering. No sane Mind would design a Drone with such a power supply."
Not first contact — we're already talking, aren't we? Rather, I wondered whether our brands of telepathy are compatible. Navare smiled, too. I admit to being somewhat... biased in the choice of testing matter, though — it's the beginning of the standard Kabupatenic Device calibration test, and one of the simplest to juggle around when it comes to magic.
"At the risk of repeating myself, I find all of this endlessly fascinating. I have spent nearly two decades in this place and yet I have not yet seen everything."
To Navare, he added: "What is this device you speak of? My kind use a mix of psionics and technology in all aspects of life, from civilian to military. Do your people have a similar system in place?"
"A Device, with a capital D," he said. "You see, where I come from, some people have an organ called 'Linker Core', which allows them to gather and use mana — think of it as ambient energy. Those people are mages or knights and the use — magic. What we call 'spells' are actually mathematical calculations. Some people make the necessary calculations by themselves; however, the majority use Devices for that purpose." The mage smiled. "All Devices are, essentially, AIs. How much personality they have depends on their type; Storage Devices have the least, while Unison Devices have the most. Apparaat here" — Navare tapped his breast pocket, from which a chain was protruding — "is roughly equivalent to a Belkan Armed Device. She wouldn't be quoting poetry any time soon, but she's hardy and dependable."
"She's a horrible bore, you mean," Amris piped up, coloured red.
Taldaris glanced over to Amris. "And the flashiest armaments tend to fail just as often, if not more than a proper soldier's weapon. I would prefer to take a solid, reliable weapon over the latest technological gizmo."
He lifted his right forearm, which was encased in a plain gold bracer. Several motifs were etched around a polished blue gem set on the top, but the piece of armour was otherwise smooth and polished to a mirror shine. "Take this psi-blade for example. A simple sword for a simple soldier-- nothing more, nothing less. Any proper warrior can concentrate to channel their psi in order to produce a coherent blade. Portable ranged weapons are a rarity among my people but... ages of conflict have shown us that the oldest ways are sometimes the best."
"She is a friend, first and foremost." The mage fished the Device out of his pocket; right now it looked like a simple pair of dog tags with a gem in their middle. "She helps me fight, true, but she is unlike a gun or a sword; rather, we fight together as one."
Amris turned rainbow-coloured for a moment, then flashed white and sped off.
Navare sighed. "You should apologise to it, Apparaat. It might be twisted, but it is still our comrade," he said quietly.
"Have I missed something?" he said to Navare. "And what do you mean by 'twisted', if you do not mind me asking?"
He put his Device back into his pocket. "You have noticed that Amris' Aura Fields have been changing colours all the time, right? That is how it expresses emotions, among other things. That white flash is anger; the rainbow before it is 'communicating via tight beam'." He paused. "As to 'twisted', well... it's an artist, but its choice of materials is rather poor; it seems to have a preference for live creatures' or Suvians' innards. The Foxglove Official has reprimanded it multiple times already."
"He revels in torture?" Taldaris made a move to stand. "How has such a creature passed muster? The Foxglove Official must be out of his mind to allow such a sociopath to remain in the PPC."
The mage frowned, rubbing his chin. "The simplest explanation is that the subject did not come up when it was recruited. The Foxglove Official wasn't pleased when it found out. Not at all." He winced minutely. "Amris is on probation now. I hope it passes, because at the end of day when push comes to shove it is a dependable partner, despite his... problem... and Madokami knows I need one; Nanoha Sues tend to be OP even for Sues."
Taldaris grudgingly sank back into his seat. "Battle rage is one thing and sociopathic tendencies, another. Were I his commander back during my days in the Expeditionary Force, I would have him stripped of his rank and taken to Aiur in shackles. No matter how strong the enemy and no matter how well your ally fights them, you have a choice. Never let your guard down around this creature, Agent Navare. I do not trust it."
Navare interlaced his fingers near his chest. "Every one of us has our own quirks, Taldaris," he said. "Amris' is just worse than others. That is not to say it cannot change. For its sake, I hope it does."
"But you have not touched his mind. It is not something I wish to do again. I do not consider bloodlust of this degree to be a mere 'quirk'. However, I admire your... optimism, to say the least."
"I have seen true evil, and it is not Amris. Amris is... suppose you have a pet that keeps biting the guests. You wouldn't put it down because of that, would you? I know that I would first try to educate it." Navare glanced off to the distance. "No, Amris is not evil. Twisted yes, but evil? No."
"Agent Amris is a sentient being and fully capable of comprehending the harm it is inflicting on others. This harm being 'smearing live creatures on a wall' and gods know what else. This is torture, Agent. Do not excuse it. Do not turn a blind eye to it."
"I don't think torture is good. It'd require some... pretty impressive ethical juggling on my side." He touched his shoulder blade. "But I do think Amris deserves a chance. Everybody deserves a chance to mend their ways. If Sues can reform, why can't a Drone? It is not as one-dimensional as them."
"...he has been warned several times, to no avail. There are limits to tolerance, especially when the infraction involves such an abhorrent act." Taldaris laced his fingers together and rested his elbows (uncomfortably) on the seat rests. "How far does your tolerance go?"
"... and, right now, it's in probation." Navare rubbed his shoulder blade again. "It is not my place to judge Amris. I am not his commander or employer. It is my place to do my job to the best of my ability, which right now means working with Amris, not against it." He stared at nothing. "Were I his commanding officer I'd have had it court-martialed. The TSAB does not tolerate such things."
"Not only must we guard against the dangers without, we must be on guard for the dangers within. Now, let it be known that I condemn in the strongest terms possible a police-state where people are encouraged to betray each other to the authorities. I know what evils that society entails. However, I trust all PPC members to exercise common sense and to warn others if they feel something might cause harm to themselves or to others. It is not your place to put him on trial, no. However, it is your place not to blindly follow directives. Do you understand what I am getting at?"
Navare hmmed. "I'm a soldier, not a politician," he said at length. "Amris' problem is already known and the relevant authorities have already taken action. I don't think I have to do anything else right now. Will I try to discourage Amris from eviscerating the next Sue we dispose of? Yes, I will. Will I, I don't know... fight with it? Over something it needs to decide by itself? No."
The Aviator slid down in her seat, glaring at the wall hard enough to burn a hole in it. Stupid agents with their stupid prying and stupid karaoke night and stupid agreeing to come to this and let other people talk to her. Thank god the psychic DIA busybody was leaving.
He would rather be sitting in the Response Center, watching whatever and not watch anybody embarrass themselves. But Levy came along, and Matthew would annoy him half to death if he didn't come along. So, with the prior mentioned individuals, as well as Nickul, they had arrived at the Really Very Tiny Auditorium.
"I'll sign us up," Levy stated. She took a wild guess that the man with the laptop next to the scorpion-brand centaur was the officiator, and made her way to him, Nickul trailing close behind.
Matthew decided to socialize, and dragged Ajax with him to the gaggle of individuals chatting amongst themselves.
"Hey-hi-howdy! Name's Valon Vance, Department of Floaters. The seven-foot scorpion is my wife. And you might be?"
"The dragonborn here is my partner, Nickul Tiamat"
"To be honest a human having a half scorpion wife is not the strangest thing I've seen, but it's up there." Nickul said.
"Ignore him, he's socially awkward. We're here to sign up." Levy said, to the insult of her partner.
These included, in order of entry, two maniraptorans (one in disguise), a humanized pegasus, an angel, a blue-haired Pokemon trainer, a disguised sphinx, a demon girl in chains, a Super, a blond Homs, a white-skinned fitness trainer, and bringing up the rear, a vampire, a soccer girl with hair on fire, and a creeper.
At the front of the crowd, Rayner was actually pushing a very obstinate armored bird - who, in his words, didn't "do well in crowds". Cupid and Lapis, meanwhile, were raring to go, the latter having brought her special homefic keepsake - a lyre shaped like Kyogre with the strings between its outstretched fins.
"I cannot believe I'm doing this," said Falchion. "Literally. Cannot."
"Hey, you said your author was a pretty good singer," said Lapis, plucking a few strings on her lyre experimentally. "So I figured the same could be said of you, and birds sing, anyway, so why not?"
"Only songbirds, though!" Falchion protested. "And besides, what if I embarrass myself in front of everybody?"
"Are you SURE that's gonna happen?" asked Cupid. "If anything, the one who's most likely to get laughed off the stage would probably be me! And Sarah made sure I didn't bring anything alcoholic today, not even Bleeport!"
"He will," said Rashida. "Trust me."
"My thoughts exactly!" said Falchion. "Just... I don't think I'm ready for this."
"Well then," said Rayner, winking at him. "I hope you enjoy Valon's disappointment."
Falchion could only groan.
"SALVO YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!" He yelled, having noticed the green monster. He then promptly glomped the being, knocking both to the ground.
"Apologies for my friend here, he doesn't usually do this." Ajax said, annoyed.
Which didn't stop him being flattened. Brenda and Feratu, who were nearby, rushed over and tried to wrench Matt off of him.
"Are you crazy?! You know what happens when you get too close to a creeper!" cried Brenda.
"Yeah, don't scare him like that," said Feratu. "I know he's pretty chill, but..."
"No no, it's fine," said Salvo, though he had to admit the vampire had a point. He looked at Matt and asked, "Do I know you? And how did you know about me?"
"Well, I used to. Transferred out a few weeks ago. Got stuck with this ray of sunshine" He pointed his thumb behind him, having already gotten up.
"Hey!" Ajax said, the receiver of the pointed thumb.
"I haven't worked there very long," said Salvo, "so I guess we've only met once or twice. Still, it's nice to see a familiar face. I hope."
"So, you're here to sing, right?" asked Brenda. "We're just here to watch, me and Vamp here. Neither of us are interested in participating."
"Robin does not sing." Feratu huffed and tossed his hair. "And Brenda... well, I don't know how good her singing voice is, but I'd rather not risk her embarrassing herself in front of everyone."
Zeb almost tripped over his paws in his haste to reach Falchion. "Hello!" he said. "I, I, oh gosh, I don't know where to start! Skarmory are really cool! Hi! I'm Zeb!" His tail swished happily. "What's your name? And yours," he added to the agents near Falchion. "Sorry, am I being rude again? Just, I've never met a Skarmory before, so this is neat! Nice to meet you." He gave a rather toothy grin.
Falchion flinched a little, sensing a little electrical charge surrounding Zeb. "Hey, uh, yeah. Good to see you too! I'm Falchion, and you must be Ri-er, The Aviator's partner, right?"
(Cupid was about to reach out to pet Zeb, but Falchion nudged his hand away with the side of his beak.)
"He's with me," said Rashida. "I assume you're here to perform too, right?"
"Well, so are we," said Falchion. "So, uh, anything specific you want to sing?"
"And yeah, she's my partner. She's..." Zeb glanced at the Aviator, who was still sitting sulkily in the corner. "...not too happy to be here, but she really needs to socialize more, you know? And, um." He shuffled his paws and gave the armored bird a shy smile. "I dunno what I want to sing, but I'm willing to try anything! I think it could be fun."
"Well, I'm guessing your partner told you about me beforehand? Huh. A-anyway, I'm only singing because Rayner wanted me to. I do have a few songs in mind myself, but I kinda don't like performing in front of crowds..."
"Yeah, but have you SEEN his author?" asked Lapis, joining the two of them. "From what Falc told me, while he doesn't exactly sing for people, but he HAS presented papers at conferences - and once he gets over his initial stage fright..."
Falchion covered his face with his wing, snickering. "Well, heh, the problem is that I'm not the same as him. But eh, I'll wait until the time comes. Good luck with your performance, I guess!"
(EDIT: Falc is no longer disguised. Continue as you wish :3)
"Hey, I don't know if I'll be that great, but thank you!" Zeb beamed. "And don't worry, I'm sure you'll be fine. Better than me, that's for sure."
He smelled the familiar scent of Time Lord and whipped around; a rather evil grin appeared on his face when he spotted the Librarian.
"Besides," he said, turning back to Falchion, still sporting the evil smirk, "I'm sure whatever happens, it won't be as bad as what I'm planning."
((I must have totally missed he was disguised. My fault entirely.
...Hm, not sure how to fix that...))
((I kinda winged it (heh) and had Falc assume that Ave had told Zeb about him. Perhaps it'd be nice to work from that.))
((...that doesn't explain how Zeb recognized him as a Skarmory when he was disguised.))
((...but then how would he be able to hold the mic? With his talons? xD
Eh, if it's okay with you, I'll retcon the disguise thing anyway. ;))
"Uh... hi guys... I did not expect this many people to show."
Valon waved. "Howdy! Which of you will be singing?"
"My partner wanted to try but I worry she'd end up revealing some kind of ability to hypnotize people with her song and turn this whole thing into something out of a bad mega-crossover smutfic."
E.V.L. jabbed Rayner's ass with her tail tip, making him yelp. "Enough, Pony Boy."
"Hey, you insult me all the time! Why can't you just let me return the favor every once in a while?"
Lapis and Cupid joined them a moment later. "You must be Valon! Hi!" said Lapis. "We're from the DIC, and I'm friends with Rayner..."
"...and this, I assume, is that scorpion friend Steph mentioned," said Cupid. "You two do look like a lovely couple. A belated congrats on the wedding, by the way, and sorry I couldn't join the reception."
Rayner elbowed the angel lightly, but even he couldn't help but smile.
"Er... um... uh..."
Oh god who invited a kid I'm going to lose my mind where's my aspirin I'm gonna want a freaking drink...
Kala turned to Cupid. "Yep, I'm Kala Jeng. Nice to meetcha. Steph's nice, but she's a little too affectionate for my liking."
((Valon and children do not mix well.))
Well, she got the message as soon as Rayner whispered in her ear what Kala had told him a while back: that Valon and children don't mix well.
Which left Cupid and Sarah, Rashida, Rayner and E.V.L., and Whitney and Backslash to address Valon and Kala.
"Nice to meet you too! And don't worry about Steph, she and I are totally cool with each other. Though our dates could stand to use less badfic interrupting..."
"What happened?" asked Backslash. "Did you two do any cool back to back figh-"
"Stephanie. Hates. Fighting." Cupid sulked, regretting that Sarah had forbidden him from bringing any Bleeport. "And for the record, it was just Naruto replacing Kimihito in a 'rewrite' of Monster Musume. Not my usual, but what can you do?"
"I guess I haven't introduced myself," said Sarah, turning to Valon. "I'm Sarah Squall, formerly Stratogale. My brother-" she pointed her thumb at Falchion - "told me about you two a while ago. I was also at your wedding, but we didn't meet in person. So yeah. Hi!"
"Didn't know we had superheroes here, but then I'm not sure I should be surprised. I mean..."
Without much warning, he reached into his vest and withdrew a jackhammer, a Haloverse bubble shield, and what was unmistakably a smaller version of his Box of Memes. "... look what I'm carrying."
"Welp, if there was any doubt that HQ is one weird, amazing place, it's gone now," she said. "Adam mentioned that thing about your vest pockets, nice! I've gotta ask Seung-Li if they could try coming up with something like that."
"So, does Kala plan to sing, too?" Rayner asked to Valon. "I mean, I'm fine if she doesn't want to, but I'm wondering now if she can."
"Now where were we? Oh right. Er... she's still deciding what song she wants to sing, I think."
The Aviator didn't stop complaining as her partner dragged her down the corridor. "How many times do I have to tell you, I'll come watch you sing but I'm not doing it myself!"
"Aw, c'mon, you used to sing really well!" Zeb said, still tugging her along by the wrist.
"Yes, and then I regenerated and I haven't tried since. Gerroff!"
Zeb let go of her hand and she yanked it back, shoving it in her pocket.
"Please?" he wheedled.
"No." The Aviator pushed open the doors to the Really Very Tiny Auditorium, looking around. "You know, maybe the Council meetings wouldn't be nearly as boring if it looked this cheerful in here the rest of the time." She sat down in a chair as far away from the mic as possible while Zeb bounded up to Valon and Kala, grinning toothily.
When he looked over the bell and gestured wildly. "Ach! Zeb! Vhat ein pleasure it ist beink to be seeink you again! It has been far, far too long ein time since ve have shared ein Poffin und pondered zer nature of zer universe! At least, zat vas vhat I vas doink, I am thinking zat Gabrielle vas preoccupied vizz goink ein funny colour -- meine kleine Gabrielle, vhy are you goink even redder?"
"NOTHING IT'S NOT A BLUSH YOU CAN'T PROVE IT-" Gabrielle saw Zeb herself and faltered for a moment. "Um. I'm... I'mma go get the big lady. With the stripy clothes. From over there."
"On zer uzzer side of zer Auditorium?"
"Yup," Gabrielle squeaked before dashing off at almost supersonic speeds.
Valon waved cheerfully. "So, Ave, what do you think of Halestorm? I'm trying to think of something to sing myself... Hmm... English, Japanese or German..."
Kala shrugged. "I dunno what I'm going to do either, Valon."
Zeb glanced over his shoulder at the Aviator, who gave Valon and Kala a little wave before crossing her arms tightly. "And I'm sure she'd say hi if she weren't on the other side of the room. She doesn't really want to sing," he said, lowering his voice slightly before perking up again. "But I do! I don't know Halestrom—or much of any songs, really—but I'll try anything!"