Posted on: 2017-03-02 14:12:55 UTC
A small rectangle of fine cardstock has been slipped under your RC door. It is an invitation, in elegant script, to a get-together with fellow . . . interested, parties.
It proceeds to detail an event in which agents will be given a chance to get to know one another. A bit like speed dating. If you have received the invitation, you are already on the list of participants, and a place has been set for you.
Of course, your attendance is at your discretion.
The interesting part for the inquiring-minded agent is this: the invitation gives directions to an address within central HQ (near the Lounge, in fact).
This address has never existed.
Your investigation leads you to a door of rich, warm mahogany, and inside you find a warmly lit room, dominated by gas lamps and candles.
The ring of tables is covered with a deep red tablecloth, a single lamp on each providing enough lighting that you can see your partner, but little enough for it to feel . . . private. Additionally, a card of the same material as the invitation marks your place at the table. It bears your name, in the same fine script as the invitation which brought you here.
The Mysterious Host sits at (his?) table at the back, the two halves of the ring sweeping towards his like wings. His table is slightly more shadowed, his chair richer and higher-backed and his table smaller. There may even be a place beside him.
All you can tell of his appearance is that he is dressed in elegant clothing, and seems to be smiling warmly. He raises his his glass, full of deep red liquid, in greeting, and brings it to his lips.
Of course, your attendance is at your discretion . . .
The Host looked on at the revelry as the last few grains of sand fell into the bottom of the hourglass, rotating it without needing to examine the display.
He made a few adjustments to his mental list, and seemed to grow still for a moment. Another signal went out, and had the agents been watching, they would have noticed their cards grow a little longer as the name of the person they had just met with appeared at the top.
As the agents shifted, new tables became apparent, as if they had always been there. Interestingly, there was just enough additional room to seat the newcomers.
Regardless of whether the guests were paying attention or not, they would feel something from their placecard as another set of instructions appeared below the names of their current dates, guiding them to their next partners, who are as follows: Harris and Apecian; Chris and Shamrock; Mia and Kei; Lou and Naergondir; Randa and Kaatah; Cat and Lu; Finch and Thorn; Alleb and Steele; Miguel and C; Michael Tanner and Michael Green; Jesse and the Mysterious Host; Ami and Sonia; and Bingle and Apollo.
The newcomers would find their names elegantly written on namecards at their appropriate tables, and the attached directions were enough for those already in attendance to find their respective partners, even if they had never encountered one another before.
As the evening moved onward, the Mysterious Host smiled at Jesse, beckoning him toward the open seat across from him.
((First things first: This is not the end of the first round. This is me attempting to open up the door for our later arrivals, and giving people a bit more to do every day. I was thinking that each conversation should have about ten posts for player, but that is not a hard and fast rule. Secondly, please post your agents interactions for this round as replies to this post, to keep this thread from becoming impossible to navigate. Finally, these pairings are, ultimately, random. I rolled dice, I did not decide who anybody would be seeing. Thank you. That is all.))
((Wanna start Ami and Sonia's schtick here? I'm good to go whenever.))
...as the unicorn trotted up to the table. "I, uh... hi?" said the Pegasus Knight. "I'm Sonia. And you are... a small unicorn."
Maybe my show's not as well-known as I thought...eh, whatever. That's not as important as being sociable, she thought. "It's nice to meet you, Sonia. My name is Ami Seeker." She offered a hoof. "Your armor looks beautiful!"
Jon jumped slightly at Lirene's words, even though she was walking calmly beside him and had been since they'd left their RC. "Oh--yes, Lirene Sedai." Even after being partnered with him for over a year, she had to suppress a wince at his voice. It sounded like desiccated leaves being pushed across stone by a whistling wind. Not at all the kind of voice you want to bring on a date. Jon fished in the pocket of his sunshine-yellow robes, then pulled out a pair of Ray-Bans. He stuck them on his face, then turned to look at her, cautiously hopeful.
"Much better," she said, smiling slightly. She still wanted to shudder as his eyeless face turned towards her and saw, but it was a little more manageable with the glasses. It felt very strange to be walking so calmly beside a Myrddraal, but Jon was harmless. He practically fainted at the sight of blood--even Sue blood. He nervously adjusted his lank black hair, trying to make it hang appealingly. That was impossible. Lirene briefly considered placing a Mirror of Mists on him, to make him look human, but she didn't. He'd firmly rejected the idea of using the disguise generator to alter his appearance--it was the only thing she'd ever seen him firm about--and she didn't want to slight him.
"I think this is the place, Lirene Sedai," Jon said, stopping in front of a handsome mahogany door.
A year later, and he still uses the honorific, she thought. It was sweet, if anything about a Myrddraal could be thought sweet. "I believe you are right, Jon," she said. "There are no female channelers inside that I can sense. You should be fine."
Jon tapped his fingers together, frowning at the door. He looked remarkably like a young pangolin. He started. "Oh," he said, then reached forward to open the door. His movements were fluid and snake-like, as always; so at odds with his gentle personality.
Lirene walked into the dimly-lit room, appreciating the subtlety of it. She was Cairhienen, after all. Though, she thought, glancing down at the bright green of her dress, with its yellow slashes, I do still have more of the Foregate in me than anything.
She took her invitation card from her belt pouch, but found no new directions on it yet. By the twist of his pale lips, Jon had no directions either. "Come," she said, walking to an empty table. "We will wait together."
She hoped she wouldn't be forced to bind anyone in Air to keep them from killing her partner. It was always such a hassle afterwards.
((A new agent pair joins the fray! I'm just experimenting with them. They're from The Wheel of Time, if anyone is curious. Jon is a Myrddraal, though he's had a personality added (obviously), and Lirene is an Aes Sedai. It should be noted that, despite his demeanor, Jon really is terrifying to look at. A common phrase in WoT is "The look of the eyeless is fear." It's an involuntary reaction, almost, to something clearly inhuman.
Also, Aegis: Larfen and I were wondering if it'd be okay to pair Lou up with Jon? She's has been idle for a bit and we both think she and Jon will be a lot of fun to write together.
She walked here, she walked there, she walked up, she walked down. Duane never actually said that he didn't know where he was, but Lou was deeply aware that he didn't. He tended to get quiet and sweary, when he didn't know things and didn't want Lou to know that he didn't know those things.
'Gosh, Duane. Since you don't know where Narrary-Gondy is-' she paused, grinning at Duane, waiting for him to stop swearing quietly. 'I'll have to ask someone. Who knows things, Duane.' So she stepped along, a skip in her step and a smile on her face. Her plan went as follows:
Step 1: stop when I find someone who looks like they know things.
Step 2: ask them about those things they know (like 'Where's Nareygwondlir?')
Step 3: have a great date with Nphfaregondir and get married and have babies (not right now, maybe a bit later)
The plan was unstoppable, as far as Lou saw it. No matter what butt-things Duane said with his butt-mouth.
She stopped almost instantly, quivering in the air like an arrow that's just hit a target. She looked to her side. There was a man with sunglasses, sitting at a table, some woman opposite to him. A brief wave of something cold and clammy and dark that might have been terror swept through her and disappeared when it hit the other side. He looked like the type of person who knew things. Duane wanted her to walk away and find someone else, for some reason.
'Hello!' she said to the man who looked like he knew things. 'Hi, I'm Lou. I was wondering if you knew things?'
Duane really wanted her to walk away and find someone else. That was a bit odd, Lou thought.
((Oh, also, Aegis gave the thumbs-up in DM. So we can go right ahead!))
"Uh..." he said, his voice like rotten leather crumbling, "Um, uh, yes? I, I know a few things." He turned his head and looked at Lirene. With his shoulders slightly hunched and his head tilted he looked like a frightened youth, not a creature of shadow.
Lirene felt her mouth try to quirk up into a grin, but she kept it impassive. Her ageless face was the picture of Aes Sedai serenity. She stood gracefully. "Oh, look," she said, peering into one of the dark corners of the room. "I'm quite certain I ought to be over there." She glanced down at her card; it showed no new directions. "Yes, quite certain. Goodbye, Jon," she said, nodding to her partner. "Goodbye, Lou," she said, also nodding to her.
She swept away from the table in a rustle of skirts, leaving her stuttering partner behind. Only when she was well into the shadows did she let herself smile.
"Rotten leather crumbling" is a canon description of a Myrddraal voice, which I've stolen shamelessly.
Then she turned to the fellow, Jon, who knew a few things. He had a voice like a gravestone being dragged over gravel. This did not concern Lou in the slightest. 'Oh, gosh, great! See, I need to find Naririgwandor-' she showed him her card. 'But I can't find him and the card can't find him and Duane can't find him. Duane thinks he's not here, and that my plan is dumb, but that just makes me want to find him more.'
'So do you know where he is?' She said, smiling hopefully. Duane, were he not an igneous, volcanic rock of felsic composition known as 'rhyolite' by scientists and 'Duane' by crazy people, would have been squirming to remove himself from Lou's grip. He seemed somewhat worried about something.
((You'd make a good burglar, Aleeb. That line probably wouldn't sell for much, on account of having no physical presence at all, but it is bloody good!))
"Naer--Neer--Nar-- oh, Burn it, I--oh!" he gasped suddenly, looking up at Lou. "Oh, I'm--I'm terribly sorry! That just slipped out. I--I--oh, I'm so sorry." The Myrddraal huddled in on himself as if he could disappear into his yellow robes. "I'm afraid I don't know where he is," he said, in a very quiet voice. He cursed himself silently; this Lou wasn't even flinching when she looked at him, and what had he done? Blurted out a foul curse without thinking. She was probably horribly offended. She wouldn't want to speak to him anymore, he was certain. Besides, she was looking for someone else. Jon shrank back into his chair a bit more and waited for Lou to be mad at him.
((Myrddraal are always described in a wonderfully chilling fashion. They freak me out. Except Jon; Jon's a cinnamon roll.
I'm a burglar now. Cool.
She caught on almost instantly, and covered her mouth. 'Oh! Oh, gosh, sorry - gosh, it just - oops!' She stood back, waiting for Duane to have a go at her. He didn't. In fact, he told her that she should move away from this humanoid abomination and hide under some sort of furniture for a week or so. Something Lou didn't recognise ran down her spine. It came to the end and leapt right off, and Lou didn't give it a single thought.
'Wow. Gosh. Duane is really stressed by you, you know.' She held the rock to her ear for a moment. 'He thinks you're a terrible, horrifying beast that terrifies him on a deep, primal, and unnatural level.' She appeared to think of this. Thoughts dashed through her mind. Her face was blank.
And then a grin ran right over her face. 'That's really nice of you! Thanks!' she extended a hand.
Lirene Sedai had been his partner for a year, and was always kind to him, but she never touched him, not even when he was in disguise. He knew that was specific to him; she was the type to put a friendly hand on someone's shoulder or pat them on the back. Jon couldn't ever remember having someone hold out a hand for him to shake.
Slowly, so she could pull away if she had second thoughts, the Myrddraal took her hand and gave it a very gentle shake, grasping it delicately. He hoped his hand wouldn't frighten her; his skin felt normal to him, but to a human, it probably felt... wrong.
What Lou had been saying suddenly registered. "Duane?" he asked, tilting his head. He focused on the rock in her hand. "Is that... um, pardon, is he your partner?" Were there such things as sentient rocks? He supposed there might be. Lou didn't seem frightened of him at all, but Duane was, so he supposed the sentient rock was the sane partner. He wondered suddenly if he was taking advantage of Lou somehow, if she were insane. If she were sane, she never would have approached him. Was it wrong of him to try to talk to her more, if a saner her would have run away by now? Jon wasn't used to moral dilemmas like this. He wished Lirene were there to tell him what to do, but she had disappeared from her corner and was nowhere to be seen. He bit the inside of his cheek and hoped he wasn't doing something wrong.
((Most people's response to Lou: She's talking to a rock like it's a person. She's insane. Jon's response: She's talking to the rock, so it must be a person!
Duane began releasing helpful strategies on escaping from a handshake while inflicting horrendous pain on the part of the opposing handshaker at the same time. Lou ignored him, and shook away. She, in fact, shook away just a tad longer than she would have, otherwise.
'Yeah, he's my partner. Sorry about him being rude,' she said, glancing at the rock. 'He's a butt who's scared of new people and is really loud with it.'
She dropped into the chair opposite to him, observing his hand. Naergondir had disappeared. The plan had disappeared. She would have been struck with a deep confusion, if you asked her about either of those things, at that particular moment. 'Hey, are you human? Your hand feels weird, and Duane keeps calling you things like "monstrosity" and "inhuman." But he's probably exaggerating.' She placed Duane on the table, by her side, with a thunk. 'At least, probably with the "monstrous" one, because you don't seem very monster-ey.'
((I like Jon, Alleb. He is bloody terrified and confused and he has no idea what to do, and it's adorable.
And, you know, you can't prove Duane's not sapient! Might be right.))
To him, "not very monster-ey" was an unprecedented compliment. "I'm not human," he admitted, trying to make his voice sound a little less... like his voice. "I'm a Myr--" no, what was he thinking? "Myrddraal" practically reeked of evil. "Um, a Fade." He thought he should probably try to move the topic on to something else, because if she started asking about what Fades were, he'd have to tell her he was an eyeless abomination spawned by mutated beasts for the express purpose of fighting all that was good and holy. And he had acid blood. "So, er, why can't I hear Duane?" Maybe the sentient rock only spoke very quietly, or he had some sort of mental link with Lou.
Maybe Lou is the sane one, and the rest of us are just mad.
Those sounded like magical, beautiful things - pacifistic creatures of goodness and holiness, possessed of blood that acts as a sort of reverse-acid, healing all things it touches. What luck! Lou was glad that she had abandoned whatever it was she had abandoned in order to sit here, doing this, instead.
'Oh, that?' she said, looking from Jon to Duane, Duane to Jon. 'Oh. Well, Duane just doesn't like people, so he only talks to them when he needs to, and he only needs to talk to people when he wants to say something mean or stupid to me.' She paused briefly in consideration. 'But sometimes people don't hear him and they think I'm crazy. But, gosh, I don't think I am. Duane would tell me if I was crazy!'
She tilted her head, looking straight at Jon's sunglasses. Her smile was unnervingly relaxed. 'Gosh. Where are you from?' she asked, half-certain it may have been somewhere in Russia. Russia seemed the kind of place to have Fades. Russia seemed like the kind of place where people had inhuman-feeling hands, and where Duane would feel immense, deep terror. She would have been very surprised if it wasn't Russia.
Another hard question. He definitely couldn't tell her he was from the Blight, because that would then lead to him having to describe what the Blight was. He also didn't really want to tell her the name of the continuum he was from, because then she could look it up, and then she would realize what he was and be terrified of him. "Oh, um, a bit north of Kandor," he said, his voice sounding like gravel being ground between two slabs of stone. "What about you? You look like you could be Domani," he said, smiling. Then he froze. Jon, you Light-forsaken fool, he thought. She might not think of that as a compliment! "Er, I mean, you look like you might have family from Arad Doman," he clarified. Sheep swallow and bloody buttered onions! he thought, and was slightly shocked by his own foulness.
((The Domani are universally acknowledged as a beautiful people, but their women wear incredibly scandalous dresses, hence Jon's backpedaling.
"Sheep swallow and bloody buttered onions!" is billed as "impressively foul language." I love The Wheel of Time.
decided that she would be flattered. In anyone else, this would be insincere. The smile would seem fake, it wouldn't reach the eyes. The general mood of the whole thing would go down, just a touch. This was not the case with someone like Lou, whose entire face seemed to brighten up.
'Aw, thanks!' she said. 'I don't know what those are, and Duane thinks you're subtly insulting me, but I don't think so. You're nice!'
She shook her head. 'I'm from World One. It's the boring one, and they don't have Arad Domans or Flowers or even Fades. Oh!' Lou started, remembering something. 'There was a woman! Was she your partner? Are you an agent?' There was, of course, an alternative possibility regarding a woman sharing a table with him on a night specifically designated for dating, but Lou very specifically went out of her way to ignore that one. It'd somewhat put a damper on the whole thing, she felt.
((Such a fun swear! I mean, look what we got today, in comparison. 'Drat.'
Bit boring, innit?
And I keep saying this, but Jon is bloody adorable and I love him. ))
"That was Lirene Sedai," Jon said. "My partner, yes, and we're both agents in the DMS. What Department do you and Duane work in?" He hoped that Duane--if he was sentient--wouldn't keep insulting him or urging Lou to leave. She didn't seem very inclined to listen, but Jon wasn't sure he could look at his eyeless face in the mirror if he were defeated by a maybe-sentient rock.
((I've actually started saying "Light!" as an exclamation when there's either no one around or no one who will judge me. It's so much more fun.
Hehe, I'm glad; that's what I'm going for. Actualy Myrddraal really are horrific, so I'm having fun making him the least horrific thing I can.
'Gosh, DMS,' she said, face going slightly blank, as she pictured it all in her mind. 'Duane thinks DMS are all a bunch of spotlight-hogging over-violent madmen. But even if they are, I don't see the problem with that. Duane wants to know if-' she cut herself off and glared at the rock.
'Sorry. He's a butt,' she said, looking up. Her annoyance was then promptly wiped off her face, and she leant in once more. 'Do you have stories? DMS stories?'
((Pffft, I've almost called people 'boss' and said 'bloomen' once or twice, myself. Fun stuff, that.
I am having fun experiencing him being the least horrific thing you can!))
It felt--well, it felt good to be asked for stories. He'd never been asked for that before. When he started thinking about the stories he had, though, he deflated. Most of them involved Lirene Sedai saving him from Sues and Stus. What would that look like to Lou? Not very good. "Most of them are boring, though," he said. Then, to distract her, "What's it like in the Floaters? I've, uh, never been in it. Um. Obviously." Jon mentally kicked himself. If this conversation ended with Lou not detesting him, he'd count it a victory.
Boring was a relative thing, Lou knew. There were people out there who hunted boars and who fought fires and who got shot in wars who weren't excited at all. There were people out there who stopped leaping off cliffs for fun, because they had ultimately decided that leaping off cliffs wasn't fun and that they simply didn't feel the rush, anymore. Jon was in the DMS - and he found it boring. Boring! Lou was astounded. She widened her eyes, just a touch. Her heart was beating a lot more conspicuously than it usually did. She was feeling quite warm. Gosh, she thought.
'It's boring,' boring she thought, still astounded, 'too. It has lots of variety, though, so the boringness stays fresh. Gosh.' She glanced at the table. She glanced at Duane. She ignored everything he said.
'I don't think you'd have boring stories. Are you sure they're boring? They might not be.' She was feeling quite warm.
((I love this bloody weird situation they've both ended up in, where neither of them have any idea what's going on, yet are very certain they know exactly what's going on.))
Jon thought he must have had at least one heroic moment in all of his missions. Lirene Sedai couldn't have had all of them... could she? Jon thought about his partner for a moment and realized that yes, yes she could.
So stories of Jon saving the day were in short supply. What else did he have? "Oh," he said, alighting on a particular mission. It didn't exactly leave him looking like a hero, but it didn't make his partner look like one either. It'd have to do. "Once, while Lirene Sedai and I were on a mission in Narnia, the Sue managed to knock both of us into the ocean," he said. He chuckled, remembering the sheer outrage on Lirene Sedai's face after the pink-haired Suvian had shoved her off the side of the Dawn Treader. That was a good story, wasn't it? Jon suddenly realized that he didn't have any practice telling stories. Were they supposed to be longer? He watched Lou's face for her response.
((Jon has no idea what he's doing.
The tension, the sheer suspense. She wanted to know more. She needed to know more. She felt like she was truly there, salty water lapping at her neck, sea breeze running over her hair. Duane, meanwhile, was telling her how, not only was it a terrible story, it was also the last terrible story she would ever hear in her life, because this man was going to steal her soul and eat her and make her into a rug. Silently, awed eyes still on Jon, she took Duane off the table and placed him on the floor. 'Shut-up, Duane,' she murmured.
'What happened next?' she said, leaning in. 'Did you - gosh - did you drown? Did you both sink and drown horribly?!' She really hoped he hadn't. That would have been a sad (but artistic, Lou thought,) ending, indeed.
"Lirene Sedai opened a portal up right to where the Sue was, then shoved her overboard." Jon grinned. It had been quite amusing to watch an enraged Lirene Sedai bodily throw the Sue over the railing. "Then I grabbed the Sue, we charged her, and then we fed her to the giants in Harfang," he said. He wasn't quite sure whether or not they were supposed to do that, but Lirene Sedai had been mad enough to chew iron and spit nails, so he hadn't said anything.
((Oh, Lou, you lovely soul.
At every twist, every turn, every sudden revelation, every up and every down, she widened her eyes, leant in even closer, or tilted her head. What a story! What a journey! What an adventure!
'Wow. You grabbed her?' she said. 'And took her to Harfang?!' she continued, her total lack of awareness of the significance of this adding to her astonishment, rather than the opposite. She sat back, thoroughly amazed by this incredible, epic journey she had been taken on. 'Don't listen to Duane. That's brave,' she said.
'Gosh, is this frequent?'
He hoped he wasn't preening. He felt a bit like he was, and he didn't think that was good. "I usually grab the Sues, yes," he said anyway, smiling in what he hoped was a confident way. He straightened his spine a bit, squared his shoulders. "How do your missions usually go?"
The smile nearly boiled with confidence. Lou felt herself unfolding beneath it. She smiled right back. Was it warm in here?
'I grab the Sues a lot, too. Duane doesn't really grab anything, except the charges, and those are non-physical.' She scratched her chin. 'I guess he does the "snark" part, too. I'm not good at that. But we do a lot of things, and sometimes there isn't even a Sue to grab. But it's usually me grabbing, anyway.'
((When do you think, actually, we should end this? Not that I'm saying we should end it now, 'course, 'specially not if you got more to do. But we're both at ten posts, I believe.))
"She has a mind for it." Jon leaned to the side, trying to catch a glimpse of Duane. "Isn't he angry down there?"
((We should probably start winding it up soon. Maybe let it come to a bit of a natural close, have their cards fizz soonish.
She breathed the air in, felt it down her throat, reveled in it, appreciated it thoroughly. 'He's angry,' she said. 'He's enraged,' she added. 'He's horrified,' she concluded.
She sighed, joyful. 'He thinks you're going to steal our souls and eat us and make rugs from our skins. He's going mad, now I've told you this.' She sighed, again. 'He thinks you're going to enter a state of beserk-rage and tear the entire room and everyone in it apart.'
She drew her eyes off Jon, and glanced around the room. There was a very conspicuous lack of 'everyone' around to get torn apart. The night hadn't ended, but it was on its last legs. The final few people shuffled and moved about like the last few leaves in a gust of wind. 'There's not many people for you to tear apart, though,' she said. And then she sunk lower on her hand, and sighed again, smiling. 'Gosh. It's late. I think.'
He felt like Lirene Sedai had wrapped his chest in flows of Air, squeezing it tight. A frown tugged at the corner's of his pale lips. He felt... guilty. Lou was just sitting there, smiling, talking about the things a normal Myrddraal would do (well, it would probably kill everything in the room if it could; Jon wasn't sure about eating souls and making rugs out of human skin. He'd never done that, anyway) while Jon sat across from her, like a snake pretending to be a harmless worm. He couldn't do this. He liked Lou, and he didn't want whatever friendship (or relationship, though he hardly dared hope for that) he had with her to be founded on lies.
"Lou," he said, his voice like stone crumbling to dust, "I--I should have told you this sooner, but--" Rolling his lips together to keep them from shaking, he reached up and took off his sunglasses, revealing his smooth, eyeless face. "S-Some people call my kind Fades, but our--our proper name is 'Myrddraal.' Lou, Duane's right about me. I mean--" he added, hastily, "not me specifically, but all other Myrddraal are evil. They'd do all the things Duane is afraid of. I, um, got lucky. A bad parody fic gave me a personality, and instead of killing me, the agents that missioned it recruited me." He looked down at his hands, toying with the tablecloth. "I, um, I'd understand if you want to--I don't know--punch me or something." That was a normal response to being lied to, wasn't it? Jon wasn't sure. In any case, he braced himself.
((dramatic reveal music plays
Her mouth had formed into a straight, curious line. She listened, silent, to the whole thing. And then she thought, for a bit. 'Oh?' she said. She blinked.
'Oh, okay!' she said, growing her smile back and nodding. 'But why do I have to punch you?'
He was quite sure that, if he had eyes, he would be blinking stupidly. "Uh. Um, because I lied by omission?" he said. He felt that if Lou didn't understand, didn't comprehend, what a monster he was, he'd be doing something wrong, somehow. But how could he convince her?
He thought of something.
He thought of something brilliant.
"What's Duane saying about me now?"
'But I wouldn't punch you,' she said. 'I couldn't punch you before because I didn't know I was supposed to punch you, and I can't punch you now because you un-lied!'
She sat back against her chair and stretched. 'You shouldn't listen to what Duane says,' she said. 'Duane's not a misanthropist, because he doesn't hate just humans. He hates everything. He'd hate you if you were a rock.'
She frowned. 'Gosh. I'm sorry he's been so rude. Has he been getting to you?'
Here he was, a Myrddraal, a being used to frighten children, a thing that struck terror into the hearts of men--and she was worried about him. "N-No," he managed, sounding a bit choked. "No, he's--he hasn't been bothering me. Has anyone ever told you that you are remarkable?"
He felt his card shift and fizz in his pocket. He groaned. "Oh, no, Lou, it--my card wants me to go." He pulled it from his pocket, glaring at it. If looks could kill, the card would be fine, because he had no eyes to look with. But if anger could kill, the card would be a small pile of whimpering ash.
He read the new directions, then stuffed the card back into his pocket, anger turning to misery. No one else in this room would be half so kind as Lou, he was sure.
This was not out of any sense of stoicism or hard-hardheartedness or anomalous control over her bloodstream, it was more out of the fact that she was largely blind to pretty much anything that would have made someone blush. Her most common response to such circumstance, as such, was usually a scrunching of her face, a raising of an eyebrow, a pause and a 'What?' Lou did not do any of these. She blushed.
'Oh, uh. Gosh. No, not usually. Much.' She lowered herself to the table, a tad. It was all feeling a touch dreamy. A little bit floaty. Was it warm?
She felt a fizzing from her own pocket. She looked up at Jon, frowned right back to him. She smiled, immediately afterwards. 'We can do this again! What's your RC? Mine's 333-nine. The door has the paint on it.'
((I'm preeeeetty certain I haven't given her an RC yet. Preeeeeeeeetty certain. Fairly.))
"You should be told that everyday, because it's true," he said. "I'm in RC 7-Alpha-Foxtrot-Greg." His hand shook slightly as he held it out across the table. "It--it's been a pleasure, Lou. Truly."
((In which my hunt for RC names I can remember continues.
'Has it? Thanks,' she said, shaking it. 'Um, thanks! Thank you - thanks!' she wasn't sure of what else to say. 'Thank you!' she said, again.
She stepped back, lowered herself to pick up Duane, and looked at him. 'See you!' and she smiled as brightly at him as she could have.
"See you," he said. He looked down at Duane. "Um. Bye, Duane." With a slightly awkward wave, the Myrddraal departed for his next speed date, his step lighter than it had been in years.
((That was so bloody adorable. We need to get them together again.
P.S. And by need I mean "if you want to do that, we should."))
He looked down at his card. He looked up at the Mysterious Host's mysteriously shadowed table. He looked down. He looked up. He shrugged.
He meandered over to the Host's table and sat, trying to see the man's face through the thematic gloom. It proved impossible. "Howdy," the cowboy said, tipping his hat. "The name's Jesse."
"I'm very glad you could make it to my little soiree, Jesse," he added from the shadows, stirring his wine glass slightly. "Enjoying the evening so far?"
"Your, uh, mathcin' system is a bit off, though. I got paired with a horse." He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb. "I mean, she was a nice horse, but a horse." He leaned forward slightly, trying to see the Mysterious Host's face. "Are you always this hard to see?"
((Sorry I took so long to get Jesse over here!
After much careful meandering around the edges of the room, definitely not trying to avoid attention, she found the right table. "Here we go," she murmured, "round one, first match of the night." Sitting down, C realized that the chair was softer than almost anything she'd sat on before. "Oh my gosh this is perfect." Her eyes slipped closed, just for a moment. Probably. Maybe, say, fifteen seconds. Definitely.
"Just wish there was some food around; I'm getting kinda hungry. Anyway, I'm Miguel Correa. Nice to meet you, Miss...?" he said. Maybe it was just the lighting, but he couldn't really tell what she looked like. It added to the film noir atmosphere, in his opinion.
Her eyes flicked over her match. Not too bad, in her opinion... it would be too obvious to roll a Perception check, so she had to go off of her Passive Perception. Which was notoriously poor. But he seemed okay. "I'm Calliope. But most people call me C - easier to remember. Nice to meet you, Miguel."
(Sorry for the poor descriptions. She's an average-sized person, maybe a little tall - about five-six without shoes. Really dark brown hair, goes a bit past her shoulders. Pretty pale skin, but not as pale as, say, Alleb. Her eyes change colors sometimes, but right now they're green. Her top is dark brown, her skirt a slightly lighter brown (thanks, Sims 3, for dressing my Agent in your stupid unmatchable colours). Let me know if you need more info; I'm still sort of putting her together. I'd like a short description of Miguel, as well, if it wouldn't be too much trouble; just a little thing like this one would be fine.)
(Oh, wait. C's a nail-biter, so her nails are uneven and some of them are clearly ragged. This felt important.)
"I can't say I've met anyone with that name before. It's pretty. Where are you from?"
((Miguel was a bit character when I recruited him, so he's an average-sized teenage boy. He's wearing a nice gray suit right now; he usually wears a black t-shirt and khakis. Brown eyes, dark chin-length curls, sepia-tone skin.))
"Geography-wise, I'm from Georgia - sorry for the accent slip a moment ago, by the way, I usually try not to run all my words together like that. But the three of us... well, okay, Dad wasn't as bad as my brother and I were, but we spoke like that around the house. It sounded nice to us."
"Continuum-wise, which is what I think you were really asking about, I'm from something called The Gamer. It's a nice little webcomic, updates frequently, nice story. Especially if you're a gamer yourself." C realized that she was blathering too much. What cosmic entity had rolled that Diplomacy check? Or was it Oratory? Which rules were being played by, even? Ugh... why must the rules be so confusing...
"Um. Anyways, uh, where're you from?"
(Sorry about that. The infodump. In the first post, I heard her talking the way Lore and I do when we feel comfortable doing so - which is to say, we basically lose most of our enunciation skills. Something like this: "Hmm? O aye. I'm Culliapee. Bu' mos' people call me C, 's easier t' remember." Yes, we actually do that, except maybe with less spaces. She sounds... more like she's from Michigan here. So it's a bit more clean, if that makes sense.)
"I say 'mostly' because I actually got recruited from a Pokemon badfic that mashed up the anime--at least, I think it was the anime--and World One. The Sue had me and my mom get Celebi powers as a counterpoint to her Mew powers, but Chris and Ami decided we didn't do anything wrong.
"Your home verse sounds interesting; maybe I'll give it a look."
Consciously attempting to avoid spoilers, she tried to think of an explanation for home. She then promptly decided that such a thing was highly improbable to actually occur and sound appealing.
"What's your Department?" Wow. Nice reaction, C.
"What kinds of stories have you been in?" Oh, no. That would not do. "Er, continua." Better.
...stupid low Oratory scores. Maybe grinding Charisma in Sims would help. Yeah, she'd have to do that once she got back to the RC.
But maybe she should focus more on the person in front of her for the moment.
"Steele..." she muttered. "I certainly hope he is not a sword." Still muttering to herself, Alleb wrangled her skirts into submission and sat down to wait.
Steele looked around to see if there was anyone who looked like an Alleb. Hmm... well, she never was any good at telling someone's name from their face before she'd learned it. After a bit more of a wait, she decided to see if her card had directions... well, would you look at that. It did! Following them led the deer-girl to a table occupied by a very strong-looking female. "Hello! Are you Alleb?"
(I learned from my mistake last time! Here's a mostly SFW description of Steele: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1kXo-LT7IYel7FwPiJN_x9U3Y93fc4N9QcIskqJytMNg/edit?usp=sharing. There were some things about her that I really kind of wouldn't have felt right leaving out, but anything that I deemed NSFW had been highlighted in black. These are optional reads, mostly there as a sort of "if one studies the right spot, one can see..." thing.)
Her brain felt like a strand of hair that's been tossed into a fire--burning up quickly, leaving only smoke. She couldn't quite convince herself that she was seeing what she was seeing. "Uhh..."
((Good grief, I can't think of a being that would freak her out more. XD This is going to be interesting.
The deer-person leaned towards possibly-Alleb. "Um, are you okay? Should I call for help?"
(Let's just say that Steele likes to change. It's rare for her to keep one form for too long; in fact, this is kind of an outdated description of her! Her most recent form looks a lot more doglike. Is there any particular reason that this form in particular freaks Alleb out? Because they recently released a set of shark mods... and some feral-seeming dog mods... and I've kind of been wondering how a six-legged cat would look when spliced with bee parts...)
"You--you--deer--eyes--" She could only gape for a moment. Blue for King Eliam, red for Paragor, green for the undecided--but what did black mean? "Lady," she whispered, not knowing quite why she was bothering to answer the question. "I'm Lady Alleb."
((On the colors thing--in Alleb's home continuum, eyes will "glint" a certain color, depending on that person's loyalty. Alleb's eyes occasionally turn blue for a moment at particular angles.
This particular form freaks Alleb out because it's a nine foot blue deer lady with black-streaked eyes. I think I'd be freaked out too. XD
Steele moved the chair aside and folded her legs under herself. She wasn't fond of sitting like this, but trying to squeeze into a two-legger chair? She'd learned not to do that the first time she'd been a taur. That was one lesson that didn't leave a girl.
"I'm Chikara Steele. I'm sorry if I startled you, Lady; my long-standing partner is used to me by now, and the new one hasn't been around long enough to think more of it than 'non-humanoid individual'. But hey! Let's talk about you! Are you into boys or girls or both? Or neither, I guess."
(Oh, wow, I forgot that she was blue! Hmm, I'll have to find a way to change that... preferably without using one of the never-turning-off mods. As for the eyes thing, that's really interesting! I'll have Steele ask after her continuum in a few posts. I absolutely must acquaint myself with it!)
Alleb had no idea what to do. She wished suddenly and desperately for Bingle's company; the man was over twice her age and had a wooden nose, but he'd used the chair.
Control yourself, she thought. You are a servant of King Eliam, and this... woman obviously means you no harm. You have cowered long enough.
Taking a deep breath, she straightened her spine and raised her chin slightly. At least Steele didn't tower over her when she was sitting. "I am afraid I do not know what you mean," she clarified, in a steadier voice. "'Into'?"
((Alleb's straight; she just doesn't get modern English.
It's a pretty fun continuum! Here, I made a wiki entry for it a while back. Don't look at the actual Wikipedia article unless you want massive spoilers, though.
She recognized her partner's discomfort. She'd seen it on faces before; some people simply weren't comfortable with people who modded themselves extensively. Some people dealt with it politely, or not at all, like Lady Alleb. Others, she thought, remembering the officer on Tavros Station, dealt with their discomfort through racism and hate.
With a mental twinge, Steele cast her eyes down somewhat and spoke again. "I'm sorry, Lady. I'm making you awfully uncomfortable, aren't I?"
(Looks like an interesting read! I may have to pick it up at some point.
(...assuming I can deal with the religious themes.)
(Also, I am so incredibly sorry for the infodumping I am doing. Or at least feel like I'm doing. The information feels important to me, and I can't think of any better way to make it known in a roleplay sense.)
Alleb held up a finger. "But that is a fault in me, not in you. The PPC is a strange place to me, filled with many things I do not understand, but that does not give me leave to be unkind. When humans first arrive in my country, they are often frightened and suspicious of Glimpses, simply because we look strange to them." She gestured to her ghostly skin. "They soon learn, however, that we are the same within." She held a hand out towards Steele. "Please, forgive my weakness. May we begin again?"
Suddenly, her cheeks blazed a bright, tomato red. "And, um... Men. When I am married," she muttered, and was unable to look Steele in the face.
((It's certainly religious in nature. I like it for that reason; it's an interesting take, you know? Like, if I were in that universe, I'd be over here, living a normal life, but my twin would be a knight, which is such a cool idea. Ahem. I'll stop fangirling now. If you do end up getting them, though, I heartily recommend the audiobooks; they're read by the author, and he does a really good job.
No, no, you're fine; it's definitely important info, which I need to write the roleplay well. No need to apologize!
One of Steele's ears twitched. "But for the record, it's fine to want to save yourself for marriage. I didn't have the patience - or willpower, or raising, or whatever you want to blame - but I admire people who do."
She smiled and extended a hand. "Now, then. Hello, Lady Alleb; I'm Captain Chikara Steele. It's a pleasure to meet you!"
(I'm afraid that I just can't really do audiobooks; I really need the text in front of me, you know? And how do you know that this isn't the universe with Glimpses? After all, there is some scientific proof of other universes - what's to say that we aren't connected to the Realm?)
"A captain, you say? Impressive! I am but a swordmaiden--one of many." She tapped her right fist against her heart in a salute.
((Yeah, I can understand that. I really like the freedom of audiobooks--like, I don't have to put my book down while I wash the dishes, that kind of thing. But I get you.
Ha, that'd be great. The Realm is a really cool place.
Steele tilted her head - and massive antlers - towards Alleb. "Which continuum are you from? 'Swordmaiden' sounds like something from one of the books Bess loved to read." Her eyes unfocused slightly. Bess... ah, it had been a while. She missed her Archivist.
(Alleb wouldn't be familiar with starship captains, huh? Ahaha. This is going to be fun.)
"Written by Wayne Thomas Batson. And you?"
((Pfft, starship captains? Nope! This is gonna be fun!
Steele smiled. "A nice game, but not one most people would introduce to their parents."
(This is going to be most entertaining.)
(Oh, and, uh. Steele has a reason for saying that Trials isn't a game most would introduce to their parents. It's a bit... risqué. Check it out at your own discretion.)
She cast around frantically for a topic of conversation--an awkward pause here would be horrible--and said, "What Department do you work in, Captain? I am in the Department of Floaters."
"Who knows - maybe someday, the Flowers will see fit to put us on a mission together!" The cervitaur's everything seemed to have become more buoyant somehow. Excitement at work, most likely.
"That would be nice. My partner, Sir Jesse, and I have been largely limited to The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia so far. Neither of us are familiar enough with anything else," she admitted. "What continua do you usually work in, Captain?"
((I'm still amused by the fact that Steele is a space ship captain. Alleb's home country doesn't even have a navy.
"Augh!" She squeezed her eyes shut and found her head jolting forward, narrowly missing bashing Lady Alleb with her antlers. Oh, Void, what was so painful? Why was she hurting? She felt like... like that time she'd tried to fix the Casstech and had been royally shocked. All her muscles were quaking; it was almost all she could to to stay upright.
(She, ah. I haven't actually thought about that much. I've been meaning to write a slightly-extended document detailing how she and Lu met, some memorable moments from a smattering of universes (actual badfics optional), and sort of generally fast-forward to when C comes in. I may go back and write a few missions from 'before' eventually, but... well.)
(Also, how long have they been talking?)
"Captain, what is wrong? What ails you?" Her hands fluttered through the air, useless. Her mother was a healer, and she knew some of the trade, but would any of that be useful in helping Steele? She might hurt the woman, rather than help.
((That's fine; I only have a mission apiece for my agent pairs.
I'd say about five to ten minutes. This will be the... eighteenth post, I believe. Huh. That went fast.
"I'm not entirely sure," she began. Speech was difficult. Ouch. Her voice was very unsteady, and her cadence was completely off-kilter. "It felt like - shocks. Hard shocks."
(This really has gone quickly, huh? In the future, maybe we could do something with these two. Like, they run into one another in Rudi's or something. Just sitting down and conversating.)
She looked around the room for help, but while there were several people looking over in concern, no one looked like a medical professional.
((It has, and we should! Alleb needs to learn about space ships. Hey, I actually just introduced a new character to the RP who has magical healing powers. Want me to bring her over here to help out? We could close on that note.
She tested her range of motion with her arms - still a bit jerky - and decided to sort of stay sitting there with Alleb until her card fizzled again. Yeah, that sounded pretty perfect. "Just, let's sort of stay here until the cards tell us to go, okay? I think standing would be a bit of an adventure."
(Nah, let's not. The shocks were from the universe trying to avoid any potential timeline inconsistencies; besides, I think it'll be interesting working this into another date, wouldn't you say?)
"Are you quite sure you are alright? You seemed to be in a significant amount of pain..." Still frowning, she reached down and righted her chair.
((Alrighty. Yeah, leaving options open is always good.
Steele tried to shrug, and mostly succeeded. "But then... what reason would there have been - for the shocks? Something happened. Staying here might make it not happen again."
(I kind of hope Miss Nalleb gets paired with C or Lu at some point. I want to see what it would be like to write her with one of the... well, one of them looks normal. The other still looks a bit odd, but not as much as Steele! And they don't really act much like each other.)
"Conversely, staying here might make it happen again." She felt her card buzz in the pocket of her gown. "Oh, dear, it appears my time is up. Can you stand?"
((Alleb would be quite grateful for a normal-looking partner at this point. XD Watch, she'll get paired with an Orc or something next.
She extended a hand with a large smile, which happened to fully expose her teeth for the first time. "Here's hoping we can see each other again sometime, Lady Alleb!"
(She just keeps getting the weird ones, doesn't she? Ahaha. Now I really want her to meet Lu - her only visible eye is red, so... I'm sure you can make the connection I'm thinking of. Considering what you've told me of Miss Nalleb's home.)
"I hope so as well, Captain," she said, shaking the hand. Great galloping *moonrascals**, she thought. She fished her card out of her pocket and began walking away, waving one final time at Steele. *If my next partner is Paragor himself, I'll be glad, she thought.
((Oh dear. XD Something like that happened in the Rudi's RP once; everyone threw their red-eyed characters at Alleb. It was quite fun.
Kei noticed his name written on a card propped up on a table on the other side of the room from where he stood, as clearly as if a spotlight had been shone upon it.
"Thorn, I think I found my spot. I'm, um, going to go now." He pointed a couple times, then waved. She smiled and waved back as he scurried off, cape billowing. She had to admit, it matched his pink hair oddly well.
Her youngest daughter would have loved his outfit. Beulah had been fascinated by the Kerch-style theater troupe that had visited their town in Novya Zem the month before Thorn had had to leave her family and had spent the next weeks scrounging for fabric and paint to recreate the costumes. Although, perhaps Kei's shiny, angular codpiece would have been too much even for the, what was it called, the Komedie Brute.
She was herself feeling drawn towards one of the tables, where she could see a boxy sort of person wrapping up a conversation. It didn't even occur to her to smooth out her yellow floral-print gown before striding over. It would cling; there was nothing to be done about that. She needed to have all her wits about her: she was about to have a conversation with a complete stranger.
((Because I can't just describe their outfits and bearings like a normal person :P
--Key lives for flashbacks))
"Looks like I've got a match." The hybrid cast her eye around the room, looking for some indication of where she was supposed to go.
Lu strode towards the table that had seemed right to her - occupied by a female, what a coincidence - and came to a stop behind the open chair. "Would you be Cat?"
(A proper description of her usual state can be found here (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HPnHDXYqKt9q_aJfY1pvpa86VlV6zg0J3jKFgONzoso/edit?usp=sharing), but it's more understandable if you read the description of how she originally looked, which can be found here (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aPrhhHYnkmF1pjYXsDPE6JWC2Hzrz5vYsM5QbZMVTIU/edit?usp=sharing). Note that both are written from her own perspective.)
Cat didn't recognize her first date's species, but Lu's appearance heartened her. Humanoid, seemed to share a few basic cultural norms -- she could easily be from Cat's own continuum. Flirting would be (to borrow the latest unnecessarily colorful human idiom she'd picked up) a piece of cake.
The Vulcan woman leaned forward, propping her chin up with her fist. She wiggled her slanted eyebrows up and down, and one could almost claim she was smiling. "So, what is it you're looking for at this event?"
((Let me know if you want more description of Cat's appearance. Also, thank the great bird of the galaxy that I didn't open your links at school -- I do not need a teacher glancing over my shoulder and seeing a detailed description of a succubus' breasts :P
--Key can actually be really squeamish about that sort of thing and probably wouldn't have clicked that link if she'd been warned))
The hybrid pulled out her chair and sat, unhappy at being forced to pull her tail into a weird angle to avoid sitting upon it. "I was dragged along by one of my partners. Steele is the only one genuinely excited to be here."
Lu unconsciously leaned towards her 'date.' "My question is, what or whom are you looking for? If you're looking for anything, that is."
(Oh, gosh... I completely forgot about that! I am so sorry. More than I can express over text.)
Lu didn't seem very interested in the event's stated purpose, but good only rarely came from lying, even lying for the sake of smoothing over a social interaction. Humans did so compulsively, she remembered -- Sarah sprung to mind, with her countless "he didn't mean it"s and "I already have plans"s -- but there was no reason for Lu's species (whatever it was) to expect the same.
"I'm looking for romance," she said, "But if you're not enthused by the idea, I'd settle for a conversation with someone interesting. What is it that you and Steele do for the PPC?"
((EDIT: Apology accepted :)
"Steele and I have two jobs, almost. First off, we're Floaters - though from what I've heard and seen, most Agents are. Secondly, we were recently made into a trio - girl named Calliope. So we're also trying to make sure she doesn't die."
Lu glanced away from her date for a moment. "Question of mine, now... would it be - rude - if I asked what you are? Biologically. You look a bit... that is, you look like a hybrid, or you would be, if..." Lu promptly shut her mouth and stared at what was probably a spot past Cat's left ear.
"I'm mixed-race -- most Vulcans are at this point, segregation based on phenotypical differences is totally illogical -- but I'm one species, of course. Some biologists are working on technology so that Humans and Vulcans can have children together, but it's new stuff. When I left canon they'd only had one success. Anyway, ancestry isn't considered important where I come from. The Federation is a utopian paradise which provides equal opportunities to all, regardless of race, gender, creed, or planet of origin." She smiled, an grotesque mimicry of hundreds of personable representatives and cheerful recruitment posters, then let her mouth fall back into a stern line. "Do you come from a society less in denial about its failures?"
((I love the original Star Trek series, but sweet Ghezen is it gross about racism.
She bent her head forwards slightly and grinned, looking Cat dead in the eye. "I can't speak for how the majority of my continuum works - I was created via roleplay, and my only connection to any 'real' continuum is the continuum used to generate me, so that's the one I consider to be mine - but as for my own story, I was designed to look a certain way. I am a hybrid - my 'base' DNA is that of an arctic fox, layered over with succubus and gryvain modifications. I won't go into the whole story of my life, but--" Lu tapped her eyepatch with one claw. "--Father decided he didn't like me and that I deserved to be given a horrible childhood. I thought he was doing everything he could to make me miserable just because he could. He, on the other hand, thought that he was justly dealing with a 'malfunction' - or so I've been told."
Lu leaned back, accidentally popping her spine with a few sharp cracks. "Now, then... did I answer your question?"
(Lu forgot that they had only a little time to talk - otherwise, she would definitely not have spoken of her past. Feel free to deal with this however you want to; I won't be bugged by any question you have, I promise. Or any reaction, really, positive or negative. Unless you tell me my character sucks, in which case I will go cry in the corner and then desperately try to fix her.)
What an astute observation, she reprimanded herself. This was not the place for an impeccably-reasoned editorial on ethical obligations. She couldn't fathom what else she was supposed to say, however. All that reading of human books should have equipped her. Lu's situation was just like -- perhaps it did not make sense to descend into fandom mode, either.
"One good thing I can say for the Federation," she found herself saying, "is that they've clamped down on people who play with genetic engineering but won't shoulder the responsibility for having created a person. Your father sounds as if he had a similar mindset to one of those 20th century eugenicists." Her brain finally caught up with her mouth.
"So, you didn't grow up in your home continuum? What was that like? Did you arrive at the PPC after the backstory part of your life was finished, or. . . I don't know much about metafictional realms."
"But as closely as we've been able to tell, I was bandied about through a succession of roleplays - I was meant to replace another character, actually - and I was dropped into a plothole after one of them, because the other person just stopped replying."
Lu's eyes flicked around for a second, and she found herself murmuring - almost too quiet to hear; almost, but not quite - "Not seeking isn't not finding..."
Was she meant to respond to that last half-audible comment? Maybe Lu hadn't even said it aloud -- some species with poorly-developed psychic abilities leaked stray thoughts, she remembered T'Magu mentioning, after one of their earlier unsuccessful lobbying attempts. She'd been somewhat drunk at the time, though.
The best course seemed to be to ignore the whispered comment, particularly since Cat didn't understand it. Then again, the only way to begin to understand something not understood was to investigate. Cautiously, of course. No assumptions should be made, and utmost tact should be used in the asking.
"You said something about seeking and finding? What did you mean by that?" she said.
She took a breath. "I mentioned earlier that I wasn't the one who wanted to come here, right? That's still true. And I still didn't come here looking for anything, especially not love or whatever the equivalent might be for one such as me. But not looking for something and not finding something isn't the same thing, as a certain memory has decided to remind me."
Lu looked straight at her partner. "I'm still not in love with you. I don't trust anyone this quickly, not with anything, especially not something important. It's just not who I am. But, I suppose, I'd be willing to continue conversating with you after tonight - if that makes sense."
(This is her way of saying that she likes Cat. Again, still not romantically, but she's okay with having her around - which, for Lu, is pretty good praise. She's no people-person.)
It had turned out, to his disappointment, that there were no official openings for 'professional coward.' His side choices, 'official yellow-belly,' 'executive milksop,' and 'full-time namby-pamby' had all gone that same route. Building Maintenance was all that was left, as he saw it. He never, however, gave up on his ambitions, and worked paranoia and cowardice as a full-on hobby. His skill had grown beyond compare. He was, as such, very highly talented in the art of deducing whether or not somebody was walking towards him. His sonic-sensors spiked. Something unique in the levels, something odd in the volume. He swished his ocular to the side. Whir, click. It widened, then narrowed. No doubt about it. Moving, towards him. Right towards him - a direct path that led right to him. To Finch.
'Hello,' he said. He extended an actuator and pointed, backing off slightly. 'This is a date-thing, right? You don-t have a giant, serrated knife knocking around on you you want to stab into me, or anything like that, right? And don-t get bloody cheeky, I-m against giant serrated guns, too. Even moreso, honestly.'
"Don't worry; I'm unarmed," she said, "I don't blame you for being cautious though; you never know what some agents will think is appropriate for a social event. I'm in research, though, so" -- she smiled -- "at least my sort of inappropriate isn't dangerous." She waited a moment to see how Finch would react to that. No need to rush anything.
He hovered a touch lower, a touch gentler. His engines thrummed slightly quieter. The heated air spewing from his ventilation shafts spewed out more a bit more politely. It all still had enough power, of course, to enable Finch to shoot off into the distance at a speed that would make missiles jealous if he needed to, but it was the thought that counted. 'Oh, brilliant! This date-s off to a bloody fabulous start, then, I-d say.'
He hardly even noticed the 'inappropriate' part. It was washed off and away by his happiness at that sudden turn of events - the fact that his existence had been guaranteed an extension of at least a minute, or two. 'Who-re you, then?'
((So, where's Thorn from, might I ask? If that wouldn't bugger up the flow of the RP or anything like that or some such, of course. I'm also somewhat curious as to how you could be inappropriate towards a vending machine.
Er. Not that I'd need to make use of that knowledge or anything like that.))
She was careful to keep her palms clearly in front of her and kept her tone gentle. She imagined that she was dealing with a spooky horse, albeit one more articulate than she had ever come across back home. "Actually, it wasn't Thorn originally, but Standard Translation took effect while I was filling out forms and, well, everyone calls me Thorn now. I hear that names don't usually translate, but I suspect the translators don't deal with Zemeni very often -- the Grishaverse fandom is pretty small, I hear -- so it's probably full of bugs. So if I say something ridiculous, blame DoSAT!" She laughed a little. "And who are you?"
((The Grishaverse is written by Leigh Bardugo and consists of the Shadow and Bone series (YA trash, better than Twilight but that's about all I can say) and the Six of Crows duology (YA at its best, better than waffles, the current love of my life, I borrowed them from my friend a month ago and refuse to give them back. It's this great tightly-plotted adventure story that's also about dealing with trauma and addiction, and has complex psychology and good writing -- really good writing. I don't want to oversell it because then you'll be disappointed if you read it, but. . . it's important to me). The universe is the best thing for making OCs in: it's many-faceted and interesting, but not fully developed, so there's lots of room for a fanwriter to fill in the gaps!
And by "inappropriate" Thorn only meant not appropriate to the situation! Like how Bingle behaved inappropriately by launching into an intense discussion of weird universe-bending math stuff and folded a table, not like how those people who asked about a "knobbo-wand V44 with tentacle attachments" behaved inappropriately. And there's lots of ways to do the former (and clearly you can think of at least one way to do the latter).
'But call me 'Finch,' everyone thinks it-s less of a pain.' Finch didn't really see the problem, himself. He thought it had a nice way of hopping out the speakers.
Finch ran 'Grishaverse' through the archives. He came up with one result, and that was from when his sentence formation algorithms mixed up and he spent five hours babbling straight, until the technicians finally figured out what the issue was. He babbled a little bit afterwards, but that was out of regular anger that it took them five hours to find the "self-fix" program. 'I-ve not heard of it, so I suppose you-re right. It-s better, anyhow, not coming from something with much of a fandom. Makes it easier to distance yourself from all the bloody weird nonsense.' He began to turn the opposite direction, but stayed enough to face her. 'You want a table, or something? I-m fine without one but, then, I don-t have any arses to put on any chairs or legs to feel tired.'
((If you want to blame anyone for my jumping to that assumption, blame the Good Mod Addict. And Aegis. They'd suck the innocence out of a teddy bear orphanage. They'd find gutters to stick their heads into on a hot air balloon. They've come up with four innuendos within this message alone, by now, I don't doubt. Ahem. Pardon me!
Also, that series honestly does sound really bloody interesting. Is the world actually as interesting as the brief snippets of Wiki I've looked at suggest? I'll look into it, anyhow, maybe despair a touch as my reading list grows ever larger!
And, you know what, I will admit: Finch would make for a really spooky horse.))
Speed-dating was quick, right? No need to bother anyone who didn't need to be bothered.
"What continuum are you from?" she asked. "How's your fandom?"
((The series is vastly more interesting than that pathetic excuse for a wiki suggests. Look upon it no more. Especially since it's full of spoilers.
Although, it's a hard series to spoil. My friend told me Kaz's entire backstory before I read it, and it scarcely made the dramatic reveal less dramatic. But that might be me. I know not everyone falls hopelessly in love with this book.
It was a hissing, static-sounding thing, and it was gone in a second. But it had been there. 'Can-t argue with that, I-ve never had comfy shoes, myself, either.'
He straightened himself out, turned back to face her. 'Don-t have a fandom, don-t have a continuum. Nonexistent bloody character from a nonexistent bloody story, that-s what I am. He looked a bit off to the side. 'I was probably a joke character in it, anyway. Good bloody riddance.'
He turned his ocular back up, facing her. 'You-ve been here for a while, haven-t you?' People tended to be a bit more surprised than she was being when they were exposed to Finch. Unless they were like Bingle, who had been around for so long that nothing in existence struck them as odd, anymore. The possibility that maybe she was new, and was just a very nice person in general swooped and flew past Finch's head, which would have probably had a hard time of accepting it, anyway.
((looks upon wiki no more
I'll see if I can find it. Certainly seems worth reading! It'd be nice to fall in love with it, anyhow. That's always nice. ))
"Although I didn't know that people could establish a being without a story to come from --" wait. Was that what that exorcist had meant? "Actually, I think I might have met someone in the same position. The partner of a Bad Slash agent I've been working with. He's a little fluffy crab-thing, very shy -- you wouldn't happen to know him?" Not even this narrator, with unparalleled access to Thorn's thought processes, knows how she decided what gender to assume Burd was, considering the Venusian bore more resemblance to an armchair than any man or woman she had ever met, nor how it occurred to her that Finch and Burd would know each other. Perhaps she thought FicPsych held a support group for non-humanoids hailing from unbuilt universes -- or perhaps she was desperate to keep the conversation going. Perhaps she didn't quite know herself. Small talk is terrifying that way: you must swing from one delicate, tenuous, potentially offensive rung of thought to the next. Thorn could navigate the aerial swings with surefingered ease, but once in a while she gripped something she wasn't sure would hold her and had to hold her breath and pray to Ghezen she wouldn't fall into the silent abyss.
((Trying something different here; it's probably ridiculous. Isn't that what RPs are for, though? Mucking around?
--Key needs to stop staying up so late))
'No. But I-m bloody sure I-ve hallucinated something like that before, one-ve the times my audiovisuals broke. He looked up at her, tilting the ocular. 'Hang on, are you in Bad Slash? I would-ve figured you-d be a little more insane, from all the things I keep hearing.' He did give a brief consideration to the possibility that maybe she really was insane, and that her own biological audiovisuals, maybe plus a few more things, had broken. She hadn't tried killing him with a flamethrower yet, however, and as far as Finch was concerned, that was all that mattered. She could go around being as insane as she wanted to, so long as she kept that nozzle firmly in the opposite direction of him.
((What's the different, ridiculous thing you're doing? The, whatsit, lots of internal monologuing, or some such?
Also, have they actually, genuinely met? I can only remember that one non-canon RP that we all agreed to not remember. You know. The one where Finch became Abraham Lincoln. That one.))
Lou looked from the card in her hand to Duane. 'Is this me being racist, Duane? Because I can't say his name? Gosh.' She stepped through the room, steadily following the directions.
'That'd be a horrible first impression, wouldn't it, Duane?' And there was the table. Lou tried smiling. She didn't want a horrible first impression. Not at all. She wanted a great first impression. Or a good one. Decent. Lou, ultimately, wanted a first impression that was at least a step away from 'horrible.'
"Harris?" he said to himself. "Huh, this'll be interesting." Following the directions on the card, he found the table he was supposed to be at, although he could have sworn that some of the "Left. No, no, the other left! There, better."s had not been on there when he first started looking. He slid into the seat opposite the Spy and said, "Hey, Harris. How's it going?"
Meanwhile, Michael had almost thought there had been a mistake when he had first glanced at his card. Then, he noticed the last names that had been conveniently provided. Ah, well, then. He made his way to the table indicated on the card, and sat down to wait.
He was still laughing as he fell into his new chair. His sides now aching, he reached a hand across the table, not looking up. "Hi, Michael! I'm Michael." This was going to be great.
"Good afternoon, Michael," he said. "I, Michael, am pleased to meet you. How are you, Michael, doing this evening?" He reached across the table to shake Michael's hand.
((Ooooh, yes it is. - Granz, the Very Amused Monarch.))
He sat up, still chuckling occasionally. He took a drink from his mug before saying, "Well, Michael, I guess the Host didn't take sexuality into account; I'm straight. I don't mind talking for a bit, though, Michael." He grinned.
"As it happens, I am straight as well. I must agree with you on the sexuality point, for before, I was partnered with a robot who seemed as interested in myself as I was in him." He took a glass from the side of the table and took a drink from the it. He grimaced. "I should not have tried that," he muttered. He searched momentarily for an acceptable topic of conversation. His previous date did not seem to have gone well, so that was out. Work? As safe a starting point as any. "In which department do you work?"
((BrOTP indeed. :P - Granz, the Still Rather Amused Monarch.))
"Floaters," he said, absently running a hand through his poof of hair. "You? And what continuum are you from?"
"I am an Oculator, from the Alcatraz Smedry universe. It is, unfortunately, rather obscure, but I find the books enjoyable." Would asking the same be too intrusive? No, the conversational door was open, it was safe. "If you do not mind me asking, what universe do you come from?"
"You're from a Brandon Sanderson universe!?" he exclaimed. He beamed. "That's awesome! He's my favorite author--me and my sister, actually. Aw, and you're a magic-user? Man, that is so unfair!" he chuckled, then remembered that Michael had asked him a question. "I'm from Worm. It's a superhero series. Pretty dark. I'm kinda glad I ended up here, really. Better than getting smushed by an Endbringer, y'know?" He looked down at his mug.
((In which Michael shows that he is, indeed, half of my author avatar.
"I know of Worm. It does seem to me that the PPC would be preferable." He wondered if the young man sitting across from him hid the kind of secret that caused a trigger event, but knew better than to ask. It was a bit of a sobering thought, but the conversation could probably be steered away from such a personal topic without being rude. "I take it you enjoy life here, then?" he asked.
"I mean, it's better than wondering if Louisville is going to be destroyed this week, or what the Kingdom is going to try next, or any of that, but... it could be better." He hid his expression with a sip of coffee. "So, uh, what about you? How'd you end up here?"
If people continued to ask like this, he might as well stop trying to keep from bringing the topic up. But, in the meantime, he needed to answer. "I, like many agents, arrived by plothole. This particular hole was caused by a combination of Canonquakes and the Sue who had taken up residence with the regiment I was assigned to," he said.
He nodded, then took a sip of coffee. "So, you said you're an Occulator?" he asked. He paused for a moment, as if he'd just realized there was something just about to bite him. "Uh, are you a Smedry, by any chance?"
His good humor was restored a bit, and he added, "You need not worry about your chair vanishing from beneath you, nor being bludgeoned by a stray fish, unless it would make sense for that to happen, of course. I am, however, an Oculator, and managed to retain a few Lenses when I arrived."
"Oh, good. I was a bit worried." He took a drink of coffee. "What Lenses do you have, if you don't mind my asking?"
"I possess a pair of Oculator's Lenses, Tracker's Lenses, and Voidstormer's Lenses. Of course, I did not bring them with me tonight, the Oculator's Lenses most of all. That would be unspeakably rude."
"It's been a bit since I read the books," he added.
"They pull things towards you, and with the rules of my home universe, I'm sure you know how varied these things can be."
"Cool," he said. "I've always wanted to visit a Brandon Sanderson universe, but there isn't much badfic for it. Have you read any of his other stuff?"
((Pfft, I just realized that Agent Alleb will has read everything that the author of her home continuum has written--and that means she's obsessed with pirates now.
"As of yet, I have not, although I do plan to in the near future."
((A knight obsessed with pirates? That's gonna be fun. :P ))
Michael took another drink of coffee, then glanced at his watch. "I wonder how long these are supposed to last; I don't want to stand anyone up, you know?"
((In other words, do you think we should start winding up? It's been many posts.
Just after he said this, he felt a fizzing in his pocket once more. "Ah, perfect timing," he said before pulling out the card. He then stood up and extended a hand. "It's been a pleasure, Michael."
((Heh. You read my mind. I thought we were getting close, too. Well, it's been fun! - Granz the Ice Cream Monarch))
He felt his own card shift in his jacket pocket as he stood. "See you around," he said, waving, and turned to follow the new directions on the card. Other Michael is nice, but I hope I actually get a date this time, he thought, peering down at the paper.
((I'll wrap things up with ST and then Michael will be over to meet Michael. Sorry for the delay!
Harris stood up to shake the agent's hand. "Long time no see, guy. How have you been? And Any luck tonight?"
"Just met a guy, seemed pretty cool. Might say yes, actually, whenever I find a pen." Apecian grinned. "How 'bout you? How was your first date?"
"Madwoman with a 'partner' that's actually just a rock. She called it 'Duane' and kept on talking to it," he said in a very low voice as to avoid drawing Lou's attention should she be in the vicinity. "I mean, whatever floats her boat but I'm not into that. I'd like someone a little more... I don't know. Someone I can be comfortable around."
His eyes subconsciously flicked over to where Sonia was sitting before focusing back on Apecian. "Also, you said you needed something to write with?" he said as he pulled out a small pencil from a pocket. "Take it, there's loads in the Sorting Room. Don't think they'll miss one pencil."
He didn't shout it, but he didn't bother lowering his voice to the levels Harris had. "That's a first. I get exactly what you mean, though. Here's hoping we don't end up at the same table at the end of the night, and that yours goes better." He took the pencil, and started playing with it with his fingers. "Thanks a lot! I was wondering where I'd find one." He paused to consider. He'd never seen Harris give any signs, but... "Do you actually want this to be a date date, or just wanna relax?" he asked.
"Sorry man, I don't swing that way," he said simply. "So how about we relax for a bit? And help yourself to to the drinks," he said, waving a hand at the bottles on the table. "Just don't overdo it, yeah? Night is still young and all that."
He took his glass of cola and sipped from it. "So, if you don't mind me asking... who was the guy you were interested in?"
Apecian shrugged, then cast a contemplative look at the drinks. "You know, this would be the perfect chance..." He shook his head and grinned. "Nah, not worth it." He grabbed his own glass of unknown-brand soda and sipped at it. "Huh, not bad. Anyways, you asked about him? His name's Miguel. Last name... Correa, I think. You know him, or somebody who knows him? He's in Floaters, if that helps."
"Good luck," Randa said, getting up to switch places.
"Like I need it," Shamrock said, though she pulled her tail around and began fiddling with it nervously, hoping to make it appear fluffier.
Randa clapped her on the shoulder and moved off to find Kaatah.
The voice was deep and rich, with a slight accent to its masculine tones. It carried across the room, but did not disturb the conversation, and a tall figure could be seen rising from his chair to raise his glass once more in greeting.
He took a few steps to his left, and was then standing by the door, as if he had always been there. He offered cat a warm arm clad in black and escorted her to a small, comfortable, and, above all, convenient chair, just near the door and outside the ring.
"I'm glad you could make it," he said. "I was worried you all would not be joining us." His grin was just visible in the shadows.
"I believe the couples have just finished talking. I think the new round will be beginning shortly."
Softly lit and filled by low voices which echoed ever-so-slightly, mingling enough to render what was said entirely private and adding a steady undertone of activity and excitement to the proceedings, he was frightened out of his mind. How was he supposed to start talking to any of these -- he looked about -- people, horses, robots. . . squirrel-people? There was so much going on! He found a spot from where he could observe and catalogue the shifting shadows on the wall.
Thorn was not worried. She was sure whoever approached her to strike up a conversation would be perfectly lovely. She was eager to begin. She found a spot where it seemed polite for her to wait.
They stood next to each other in perfect silence.
Cat had no such problems. After thanking her host -- she tried to catch a glimpse of his face as he helped her to her seat, but a trick of the lighting obscured it -- she turned to the person nearest her, a cervitaur in a blouse which could only be described as stunning.
"Hello there," she said, "Please pardon me for having bumped your flank on my way in; I was exhausted after such a long walk to get here. I must have been too focused on my destination; I was so eager for the opportunity to make the acquaintance of a beautiful woman such as yourself." She shook her head wonderingly. "Who in all the multiverse might you be?"
He felt ill at ease, despite Gurnirel's encouragement. He was an Elf of the First Age, one who had seen the light of Laurelin and Telperion in the days before the sun and moon. He had fought in too many bloody wars. His name he had chosen for himself: Man of Lament. It had seemed only too fitting.
And here he was, entering a room full of...'speed daters'.
"You need not find love here," Gurnirel had pointed out the day before. "We are both aware that tragedy follows the pairing of one of the Eldar with a mortal, and there are few of us in Headquarters."
"Then what reason could I possibly have to attend?" Naergondir had asked her.
His sworn sister had smiled. "You might find friendship there, Meldaner. On that, the Valar have so far smiled."
He could not argue with that, even with the Doom of Mandos ringing in his ears (To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well...), and so he had consented to attend.
He had dressed well, as one did for first impressions. His robes were long and blue, in overlapping layers and varying shades. His hair had even more small braids than usual, and bore a shimmering array of tiny gems at the clasps. He bore no weapons save a short dagger at his waist under the outermost robe, and that only in case of unexpected trouble. He had learned not to underestimate any place's capacity for unexpected trouble.
Unfortunately, he had no idea where he was meant to go, and so he stood just inside the doorway and looked around for direction.
"C. Forwards. Now." The first speaker was a decidedly feminine individual in frame, but somewhat less so in manner. Even before she'd opened her mouth, her eyepatch advertised to any who glanced at her face that this woman hadn't had a cushy life, and the set of her features advertised that she was not wanting to convert to such a life. In contrast to her eyepatch, and her somewhat battered-looking horns (if one cared to look at them), she was dressed in a fine red gown, exposing a pair of armored arms but hiding almost everything else.
"Relax, Lu, she's not one for attention." The creature at the back of the group spoke in a fair voice, but... well, she was very much not human. Her torso and face were, yes - though they were quite a bit higher than the average human female's was - and they were rather pretty for human features, at that. Below her torso, though... well. Cervitaurs weren't exactly common in HQ, but this girl had managed to get her hands on the mods to make it happen. Clearly, she held her human and deer halves to quite different standards; she had worn a stunning blue blouse to cover her human half, and though she technically wore a skirt below it, it primarily served to complete the outfit as opposed to covering anything.
"Steele, thank you for defending me. Lu, I will move as soon as I decide where I would like to go. Besides, standing in doorways makes for a nice picture, if you ask me!" The final girl - or the first, if you were going by who was where in the cluster, as this was the one actually in the doorway - was most certainly the most 'ordinary' of the three. Light skin, brown hair, and completely human. She hadn't worn anything particularly fine, either - a darkly-colored top and a somewhat more lightly-colored skirt, which was nicer than any of her usual attire, but looked extraordinarily ordinary amongst the finery of the room.
"I wonder what the inside of this room could possibly look like," he added in an unnecessarily loud tone of voice. Thorn was horrified at his rudeness, but she was the shy variant of Socially Inept Nerd, while her partner, she thought, was of the strain that didn't know when to shut up. She clenched her jaw and turned away by a couple of degrees. Perhaps her Afro had grown large enough to bop him in the face, allowing a natural change in topic.
Nope, a couple more centimeters to go. She took advantage of her new position to avoid making eye contact with either Kei or the agents waiting (very respectfully, she thought) in the doorway.
"Maybe there's a good reason they're not letting us in," Kei mused, "There could be a fire! Perhaps we should thank them for being thoughtful enough to," he hitched his volume up a notch, "barricade the door."
The agents didn't react, engrossed in their own conversation, which relieved Thorn and frustrated Kei, who proceeded to fling himself against the wall of the corridor -- and slip down his silk cape, landing him on his butt in a less theatrical pose than he had hoped for. Thorn turned at the noise, and they held eye contact for a dumb moment before folding in half with laughter.
"That's what you get for wearing such a ridiculous outfit!" Thorn hooted softly. Kei could only nod, breathless. "You better take off that ridiculous mask, too, before you poke someone's eye out!"
"Nonsense!" he gasped, mock offended. He patted the beak of his red-sequined mask. "Roxie's my good-luck charm!"
"I don't know." She gave him a skeptical look. "It's hard to figure out if you're attracted to someone if you can't tell what they look like."
Collected, he hopped to his feet and dusted himself off. "My suave masculine charms will shine through any disguise."
Thorn smiled, then whispered, "You're right, though. When are we going to get in? I'm more than ready to find my second husband."
"I identify with the sentiment if not the specifics," Kei returned.
Down the hall, Cat was walking at the fastest clip she could manage towards the door, rubbing her arms to keep warm. The curve-hugging little black dress had seemed sexy and fun in the comfort of her RC, but she'd forgotten that the corridors of HQ were clearly temperature-adjusted for Humans. Or perhaps for snowmen, she thought. Oh well, she wasn't about to turn around and be even later for meeting the single ladies of the PPC -- owwww, her hip. What was she doing again?
Oh, a door. . . right, single ladies! Hurrah! Ouch.
((I'm having fun already! Okay, Kei has no preference with regard to gender or species and is a recent high school graduate. Thorn is lesbian but doesn't know it, so send her women to freak her out; she's middle-aged. Cat is a grandmotherly lesbian who has probably wrecked her hip by walking this far even with her cane; get her a table near the door, please?
--Cat and Thorn, Kei, Burd (not present).))
"Agh!" The girl whipped around, finally noticing the impatient people behind her. "Oh my gosh, I am so sorry, I--"
Lu clamped a hand over the babbling human's mouth. "She apologizes for blocking the entryway." She firmly dragged C to the side. "But look. Now it's not blocked anymore."
Steele sighed and brought one hand to her forehead... and then drew it back at the feeling of paper. Oh! Right! They had things to do! "Let's all go in together, okay? We've got people to see!"
Shamrock Alsike came running through the door, tripping over her floor-length emerald green evening gown. A large, bushy squirrel tail poked out of the back of her skirt, and her hair had been done up in elegant braids that fell to her waist. She righted herself and looked around, skin darkening with a blush when she realized most of the tables' occupants were already, well, occupied.
"Shamrock, relax," Randa said, coming in behind her. She pushed her glasses up her nose and looked around, smoothing down her knee-length, sky blue skirt. "I guess we'll take a table and wait for the host to tell us to switch."
"Aw man!" Shamrock wrinkled her nose. "I gotta date you?"
"I feel your pain," Randa said dryly, and sat down at the nearest empty table.
Or, well, some of them did. Others had a bit of difficulty finding theirs. This wouldn't do. They couldn't enjoy themselves if they spent the night wandering about aimlessly. He reached out and tapped on one of the armrests of his chair. Immediately, the cards in the Agents' hands fizzed a bit. Were they to turn them over, they would find instructions guiding them to their first partner of the night. It had been arranged as follows: Harris was to see Lou, Sonia was to see Michael Green, Jesse was to see Ami, Mia was to see Apollo, Chris was to see Kaatah, and Alleb was to see Bingle. He smiled and sipped his glass once more. This should keep things interesting.
((Note: The RP is not closed. Feel free to join if you want, and even if nobody takes you up on it, just mark your agent's entrance, and we can work you in on the next round.))
He had done his best to clean up— three showers and a full bottle of shampoo and body wash still hadn't been enough to remove all of the smell of dragon drool from his person— and he was seriously starting to wonder if anyone was going to come to his table. He had found his place and sat down all right, but aside from that nothing seemed to be happening.
He sighed and scanned the menu for the umpteenth time before rolling his eyes and tossing the card back onto his plate. Boring, boring bo– wait. Was that Sonia?
He craned his head to get a better view. It was her! And she was wearing that beautiful long red dress and her silky, wavy brown hair was down and cascading over her shoulders and...
Harris caught himself staring and tore his eyes off of her. He kept on forgetting that he had no chance with her— best to stay in his metaphorical lane. He picked up his menu again and scanned it again.
Sonia rose an eyebrow as she watched Harris bury his face back into the menu again. She had been quite surprised to see him here— the Pegasus Knight was convinced that he had been planning to stay in the RC for tonight and binge-watch RWBY. She felt the urge to go over to his table and talk to him— he was always a surprisingly good conversationalist and quite funny— but remained seated at her table. Harris did as Harris does—sure, she was placed with him to make sure he didn't get into too much trouble, but she didn't need to shadow him at all times.
Even if he was charming and actually quite handsome and...
Sonia caught herself staring and tore his eyes off him. One of his best qualities was how forward he was— and she was convinced that if he had any feelings for her, he'd have said something by now. She picked up her menu and listlessly read through it.
He felt his stomach tighten involuntarily. He may or may not have forgotten that speed dating would, in fact, involve talking to girls.
Gulping down some coffee like it'd be the last he'd ever get, he followed the directions, stopping by Sonia's chair and clearing his throat nervously. "Michael Green," he said, holding out a hand. "Uh, you're Sonia, right?"
((Almost misread my directions and sent Jesse over here. Whoops!
...and into the eyes of the boy standing next to her. She smiled and brushed her hair over her shoulder. "Yep," she said as she rose from her seat. "Sonia Knight, at your service." The Pegasus Knight held out a hand towards Michael. "And you are...?"
He looks rather young, she noted. Like, three or four years younger than me. Whose idea was this anyways...?
He shook her hand, trying to walk the delicate line between firm and not-too-firm. His smile felt a little fixed. She looked to be in her twenties at least. This is awkward.
Trying to relax his smile, he sat in the chair opposite Sonia. He took a nervous sip from his travel mug. On the plus side, all the jittery nerves bundled in his stomach woke him up wonderfully. He barely needed the coffee to remain upright. "So, uh, where do you work?" That was a normal question that normal, non-nervous people asked, right?
How long had it been since he'd had a full conversation with a woman who was not Mia or a Sue?
Michael gulped down some more coffee. This was going to be difficult.
((In which I realize how romantically awkward all of my characters are. Also, hi, ST!
The boy was on edge-- the tension in his handshake betrayed his nervousness. She didn't blame him, though: Michael looked as if he had never so much dipped his toes in the dating pool before.
"I'm in Intelligence," she said. "Assigned to watch over the incoming badfic... and this guy over there." She waved her hand at Harris, who looked as if he was literally trapped between a rock and a madwoman. A part of her wanted to stand up and rescue him from his torment, but she couldn't just leave Michael as-is.
"Okay, honest question and expecting an honest answer," she said to him. "How old are you, and is this your first time putting yourself out there? Because, uh... you look pretty young to be chatting up a 21-year-old. No offence."
"Yes and yes," he said, then realized that that made absolutely no sense. He pinched the bridge of his nose. "Um, I meant to say, I'm seventeen, and yes, this is my first time in the pool. The dating pool. Dating." He stopped pinching the bridge of his nose and instead let his hand cover his whole face, hiding his blush. "Oh, geez," he muttered. On the list of awkward conversations he'd had, he put this just beneath the one back in seventh grade when the principal had mistaken him for his twin sister. That had been a nightmare. "Look, can we just pretend that I didn't say anything there, and that this isn't actually speed dating, and we were forced to share a table at Rudi's or something? 'Cause you're right, the age gap is redonkulus." He paused, looking up at Sonia in shock. I just said redonkulus, he thought, mortified. He squeezed his eyes shut and let his head thunk to the table. And he goes down in flames...
((Aw, poor Michael. He has no idea what he's doing.
"Relax, Michael," she said. "No need to panic. 'sides, I'm always looking for new friends, so this isn't much of a bother," said Sonia. "So chin up and pretend that I'm just a very glamorous looking agent, right? So... which department are you in?"
((She's the forgiving type, no worries. He's in good hands :P))
Friends. Hm. He could do with more friends. He raised his head, cheeks still ablaze. "Floaters," he said. "You?"
((That's good. Michael has the romantic acumen of someone with no romantic acumen whatsoever.
She folded her hands together. "Not much to say, really. I'm sure that you have better stories than me. Had any 'good' missions lately?"
The last mission he'd been on, a possessed Hermione had nearly cut his face off. So that one hadn't been very good. The time before that, two Sues had forced Boromir and Aragorn to nearly cut his face off. So that one hadn't been very good. The time before that, Mia had nearly cut his face off for accidentally destroying her favorite sword. So that one hadn't been very good.
He took a sip of coffee. "Uh, 'fraid not," he said. "All pretty... standard."
Sonia brushed a stray lock of hair away from her eyes. "What counts as 'standard' for you? Like, my standard is fishing Harris out of a jam," she said, looking over to him again. "But just last week I nearly got my head taken off by a dragon, so that's a change of pace. I assume Floaters work is just as dangerous, yeah?"
"Uh, standard for me is... Um, Mia gets mad at me, we barely manage to coordinate enough to take the Sue or whatever down, and she never lets me anywhere near the charge list. And then, next mission, we do it all over again." He frowned thoughtfully at his travel mug. "It's kind of like a bad sitcom." He glanced over at Harris. "Is he your partner, then?"
((In which I give the "formula" for Michael and Mia missions despite the fact that there is only one Michael and Mia mission.
She leaned forward slightly in her seat. "That sounds less like a partnership than it is a dictatorship. And, uh..."
Sonia looked over to Harris, who was now chatting with Apecian. "Sorta-not really. I mean, I'm still doing my work, he does his work, but I shadow him to make sire he doesn't destroy anything or get himself killed out there. He's... actually not as bad as most people think he is. He's quite conpetent and a quick thinker and funny and..." she trailed off as she realized that she was talking a little too much. "Yeah. Um."
"Sounds like a nice guy," he said. "By the way, what continuum are you from?"
((Huh, thought I'd posted a response to this. Must not have clicked the button. shrugs
"Just another badfic recruit from a wildly popular game," said the Pegasus Knight with a smile. "I'm a Pegasus Knight, which is pretty much what it sounds like. I still take Flora out for a flight every now and then. Gods knows she loves to stretch her wings."
"Nice. I've just got an uncomfortably intelligent cat." His nose wrinkled. "Oromë can be such a jerk sometimes."
"The sweetest girl you'll ever know. We looked out for one another back when I was still in my home 'fic. I lived through a lot with her at my side." Sonia nodded to herself. "I couldn't ask for a more loyal companion. And you say that you have an 'intelligent cat'? Like, is it different from a regular cat or...?"
"We both fell through a plothole about a year ago, and he was just a kitten then; the best FicPsych's been able to tell me is that the intersection of various realities muddled his brain somehow. He understands English and has a better memory than I do. He's a jerk, though. He likes to pretend to be a normal cat and knock everything off my dresser, and then I catch him reading Keats." Michael sighed. "Really, he's just a normal cat, but with heightened intelligence."
'Hello! Are you Harris? I'm sorry if you're not. I don't think you're Harris, myself,' Lou dropped into her seat and held a hand out towards Duane. A fork jutted out into the air, its end held beneath him. 'But Duane thinks you're Harris, and he'll complain for years if I don't listen to him.'
The Spy did his best to smile and resist the urge to lean away from the sudden apparition. "Yes, I'm Harris. Harris Frost," he said, offering Lou a hand. "Charmed. And, er..." He looked at Duane, completely at a loss for words.
"Um. What makes you think I'm not me and what does... Duane think about this?"
The effect was more of words bursting from her mouth like shrapnel, as opposed to her sitting back, considering the question, and delivering an intelligent, well-researched discourse. 'Gosh, I dunno. You just don't seem very Harrisey,' she said, shaking his hand. 'I think it might be your nose. Duane, what do you think?'
She looked at Duane for a moment, before rolling her eyes. 'He says that it's because I'm an idiot who couldn't tie her shoes within the span of a week.' She took a sidelong glance at Duane, before looking back at Harris. 'I can, for the record, and I'm very happy about it.'
He forced a smile as his hand was vigorously shaken around by Lou. "Always good. Yes, not bad. So, er... From which department do you come from? Floaters? DMS? And, uh..." He looked at Duane.
"Is this your partner? What's his backstory?"
'And, yeah, he's my partner. I don't know what his backstory is except that he met me one day and then started being a giant butt.' She shot a glare towards Duane, as she said this. 'And I don't think he'll ever tell me because he's a giant butt.'
'What about you? Duane says you're in Intelligence.'
...as his nervousness increased with every syllabe that Lou uttered. She was absolutely past flamethrower-crazy at this point and had reached the fabled ranks of the metastable-insane. As awe-inspiring as was this sight, Harris wasn't feeling particularly impressed with this. He was almost certain that Lou would explode if he pointed out that maybe, just maybe, Duane wasn't as talkative as she thought he was.
"Intelligence, yeah," he said, nodding. "Nothing extraordinary, y'know. I'm just the one who has to deal with the fics first. Thank me later, huh?"
'I'll remember to do that.' She sat there in silence for a bit. She glanced, briefly, at Duane.
'Gosh, this is going awfully, isn't it?' she said, not coming off as particularly torn up about this.
He considered telling her about Duane's not-aliveness but held his tongue. On one hand, this woman was clearly channeling her insanity through her 'partner'. On the other, she was here and trying to be social... with Duane. Something had to give.
"Not so much," said Harris slowly. "I think Duane might be... er... getting in the way...?"
And Apollo really hoped that this event wouldn't become a basis for, or an actual, one. Still it was an opportunity to get out of the RC and try and get to know others who he could become friends, or even more with. He hadn't really had much of a chance to do that back in his home continuum, mostly because of his real occupation and the savviness that most of the inhabitants of the continuum had, he'd known several people who'd lost loved ones due to other people's schemes.
Still, it was a new chance, and so Apollo had decided to dress as well as he could, or at least as well as he could without alerting the attention of Kelly, who would otherwise tease him for going for a long time. And so he was dressed in some semi-formal black chinos and a simple black t-shirt, his normal boots being the only pair of shoes he owned, even if they did make him look more casual than smart.
Beside him, Kaatah shifted nervously as the two walked towards the room where this event was meant to take place, Kaatah had expressed interest in it to Apollo when they'd met up to talk at Rudi's one day in the last week, the inhabitants of RC 9.81 and 1692 often met up as Kaatah had worked with Apollo and Kelly before she'd been assigned to Theo and DOGA. Now that the day of the event had come, Kaatah was nervous, even beneath her normal Colussus suit of armour that she always wore (although Apollo could tell that it'd been cleaned up somewhat), and Apollo could tell.
"Don't worry, you'll be fine, we already went through what speed dating is, right?" He said, hoping it'd calm her down, at least a little bit,
"I know." Kaatah replied, her voice really on edge, "I just don't know what I'm going to do if a Geth or another AI sits down next to me, I kinda wish I hadn't asked Theo to lock all of my normal combat functions on my Omni Tool now."
"You'll be fine" Apollo reassured her. "Besides, if things get really bad, I still have a knife in my boot, and you can borrow that."
Kaatah nodded, noticing they had reached the mahogany door. "Keelah, what is you say? Break a leg?"
Apollo smiled in reply, "Something like that."
With that, he opened the door, gesturing for the Quarian to walk inside before following himself. Noticing Kaatah heading off for her table he scanned the room, looking to see if someone there interested him.
((For reference to appearances etc. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1KV3Dx10WJFrUNjqeOvHVeRsrTTUQrjykDFLVtNV3cjw/edit?usp=sharing ))
"Come on, host, you go to all this trouble setting up a fancy room and don't even give us a photo of our date?" he grumbled. Then he spotted someone wearing--
He did a double-take. Is that armor? Who wears armor to a speed-dating event?
Clearly someone awesome. With that cheerful thought in mind, he stood up and waved at the armored person. "Hey, over here! Are you Kaatah?"
"Err, yes I am Kaatah'Lekh vas Headquarters." She mumbled nervously, taking a good look at the human who'd approached her. She'd seen some humans wearing fancy suits like the one he was wearing in some vids before, and realized that, to him her armour must have looked really weird, especially at an event like this. Hoping she hadn't created an awkward silence, Kaatah looked at the card on the other side of the table and asked, "So, you're Chris then?"
"I'm pleased to meet you. So what 'verse are you from? I've never seen anybody wear armor like yours before. Doesn't it get hot?" He almost asked if she was bonded to it like Alphonse, but wisely decided against it.
before remembering seeing the gesture among some Humans on the Citadel and took it, shaking it gently in reply.
"I'm from the Mass Effect 'verse." She replied, "And no, not really. It isn't just armour you see, it's my enviro-suit, so I can cool myself down if need be." She stopped herself from rambling on, he probably didn't want to know all about that sort of stuff, or would run away if he did. "So, err... where are you from? Humans are prevalent in just about every continua aren't they?"
"I've actually heard about you guys! Granted, that was only because the random button on TV Tropes led me to the page for Mass Effect 3...uh, anyway. I'm from the Pokémon series," he said. "If you haven't heard of it, the gist is that practically everyone lives, works, and even fights with the titular Pokémon--short for 'Pocket Monsters', but no one ever calls them that." He took out Mareep's Ball and gently tossed it to his right. "Go, Mareep!"
The sheep Pokémon looked around uncertainly and hid under the table. Chris scratched the back of his neck. "Oops. Forgot Mareep can be skittish in new places. Anyway, if it won't short out your suit, feel free to pat him. Mareep wool is really soft, but it stores static electricity."
'You look absolutely brilliant, Finch!' Bingle said, patting the upper chassis of his absolutely brilliant-looking friend. 'Oh, you'll be like Alexander the Great out there, Finch! The most famous conqueror of hearts of all time, you know.'
An actuator unfolded from Finch's side and fiddled with the bow tie attached to his front, below his ocular, where a neck would be on a being that used necks. 'Alexander the Great-s the most famous world-conqueror, Bingle. Not hearts, the world.'
Bingle shrugged. The suit wasn't designed to shrug. The suit probably wasn't designed to go on Bingle. It looked like it had been stretched and pulled and slapped onto Bingle's body before it could reform into its own shape. 'Surely, Finch, the world would involve the hearts of charming young women?'
'Bingle, don-t do this to me. Don-t bloody do this to me. Not now.' his ocular flicked here, flicked there. It fell on a lit candle, it fell on a very flammable looking tablecloth. It fell on various other people, all of whom did not look as silly as Finch. He was painted black, all the way up, all the way down. His display chamber had been emptied. A bottle of wine had been placed inside to fit the mood. Finch had to keep himself from yelping every time he heard it clink or slosh.
'Finch, you look fantastic. Like kangaroo, the second most famous conqueror of hearts of all time!'
'Kangaroos are Australian marsupials, Bingle. They don-t bloody conquer anything except for grassy fields.'
'Historical bias, Finch. Historical bias...'
Lou stepped in, shuffling by the old, rather stretched-looking man and his hovering vending machine friend. Duane didn't step in, because Lou was holding him under an arm. Lou hadn't looked so fancy in years. She still wore her hoodie, still wore her pajama pants. But, for once, she was wearing proper shoes. Black ones. Shiny. And a waistcoat, too, which would have probably looked even more fancy if it wasn't over her hoodie. Duane wasn't wearing anything, because Duane was an igneous, volcanic rock of felsic composition. Geologists liked to call him 'rhyolite.' Lou called him 'Duane.' If you asked Lou what Duane would have called himself, it would have been 'The only worthwhile entity within this horrid mess we call Headquarters.'
'Gosh, Duane. Maybe you're not overdressed,' Lou said, leaning into the rock. 'Look at them all, Duane. That woman looks like an umbrella!' Lou wished she was an umbrella. People loved umbrellas. Lou knew she did, anyhow.
Mostly because she kept bumping into and scurrying around other people who were also trying to find their tables. When she at last collapsed into her proper seat, face still flushed, gown still struggling to contain her, she found herself facing a very tall, very thin, and rather old man. And was that... was his nose wooden?
No matter. Lady Alleb, swordmaiden of the Realm, servant of King Eliam, had faced many challenges before. She could face this with ease. She squared her shoulders, putting on a smile like it was armor. "Hello," she said. "My ame is Nalleb, and I--oh, uh, er, I mean, my name--my name is Alleb." Her voice cracked on the last word, as if she were an uncertain squire of fourteen summers. She winced.
This challenge might be more difficult than she had thought.
(("My ame is Nalleb" is an almost direct quote from the main character of Alleb's home continuum, because I couldn't resist.
'Hello, Miss Nalleb-' He shook his head. 'Alleb, pardon me.' He extended a bony hand. 'I am Bernhard Bingard Bingle, but most people call me "Bingle," or "You." How are you?' He leant in a smidge. 'You look terribly nervous, you know.' Bingle, himself, didn't look particularly nervous at all. He didn't look anything beyond placid.
"Nonsense! I am perfectly at ease." She took his hand in a firm grip, then shook. She hoped her grip wasn't too firm. She also hoped her blush had faded (it hadn't), and that her gown looked alright (it looked perfectly ridiculous), and that she wasn't actually expected to exchange gifts or go on walks with this man (as one did when courting), because he looked to be at least thrice her age.
She hoped Sir Jesse was having better luck so far.
((How old is Bingle, anyway?
If Bingle's body wasn't long dead and largely non-functioning, he probably would have yelped. His nerves, however, did not work. His voice box, too, only worked when he very specifically concentrated, so something all fast and sudden and reflexive like a yelp would have sounded like a the gentle fluttering of dusty paper in a tomb, as opposed to the 'AAAAAGH!' that would have been expected. So Bingle didn't notice at all (except for the very faint sensation of something, somewhere being shifted out of place,) and continued smiling placidly.
'Pardon me, then! But you do seem terribly nervous for someone at ease, you know.' He looked at her. He looked at things around her. Not quite her, but relating to her. Trailing behind her, flowing around her.
'Good heavens,' he murmured. 'You know, I was hoping they would have partnered me with one of those immortal fellows. This is now a tad odd, isn't it?' He tilted his head as he said this.
((Somewhere within the area of three thousand years. Give or take. It gets easy to forget this or that when you reach those ages, you know.))
She looked distinctly unsettled. "I am sure we will switch partners soon," she said, frowning. She put her hands under the table and unconsciously scrubbed the one Bingle had touched. She paused for a moment, then blurted, "Do you know much of swordplay?"
'I learnt it as a boy,' he rubbed his nose, recalling this. 'I don't think it was very practical, though. Lots of swishing and taunting and "en garde"-ing. I don't think it'd be as good as yours, anyhow. You do look like you could probably tear me in half.' He smiled as he said this.
'Are you anyhow inclined in the magical arts, Miss Nalleb?' he asked, leaning back. 'Folding the universe and walking flopes and seeing past the veil and such?'
She felt suddenly and irrationally angry at Jesse for getting her a gown with no sleeves; she usually kept a knife in her left, but she didn't have that, now. Not that she felt particularly threatened by the old man--he agreed with his assessment--but she would feel more comfortable with a few inches of murynstil nearby. "No," she said. "What is a 'flope'?"
His smile widened, his wrinkles seemed to smooth, somewhat. He looked, for a brief moment, like he was one-thousand or so years younger. 'A flope! Oh, a flope! Wonderful things. You see, you see, we have slopes,' he said, gesturing to the left as if there was a slope there (there wasn't.) 'And what happens with a slope, is that you walk forward along an incline, and you go up-' He gestured up. 'Or down-' He gestured down.
'But, see, a flope - flope is short for "five-dimensional slope."' He gestured away, leaking enthusiasm. 'Which means that you walk forward along an incline, and you can go up-' He gestured up. 'You can go down-' He gestured down. 'Or left-' He gestured left. 'Or backwards-' He gestured behind himself. 'Or to Cambodia!' He gestured towards where he thought Cambodia was. 'Anywhere you please, a flope can take you!'
'Remarkable, isn't it?!' he said, leaning in. 'You wouldn't be interested in learning more, would you? I'm quite a good mentor, if I do say so, I haven't had a single student go completely mad, you know! Not even one! Not once, you know!'
((This is where I slink into a corner and hide as everyone who half understands maths comes in, brandishing machetes.))
"Thank you," she said, in the most polite tone she could muster, "but I am no longer a squire; I need no mentor." She blinked. "Cambodia?"
((I barely even understand it a quarter, so you're safe from me.
'I don't doubt that, not a bit, you know! But!' he held up a hand, as if Alleb was about to leave and wasn't obliged to stay, or anything like that. 'Can you do this?' He reached down, holding a corner of the table between two fingers. Noiselessly, he pulled it over, folded it in like it was paper.
'Lovely, isn't it?' The fold in the table seemed to move and shudder. It quivered faintly, like reality itself disagreed with the general situation and wanted it to go back to normal. Bingle grinned.
"That--that is not--I do not think--" She scooted her chair away from the table, staring at the fold and frowning worriedly. "Would you unfold it, please?" she asked, her voice slightly pleading. She most definitely wanted her knife.
Bingle didn't exactly frown, as such. But something in his smile was terribly disappointed. Something in the way it didn't quite reach his eyes, and the way he hung his head slightly lower. It was a very old, very lonely smile. He tapped the table and it snapped back into place with a popping noise and a rushing of air. 'Ah. Terribly sorry. I.' He rubbed his nose. 'I suppose I get a touch passionate. I had not intended for that. Pardon me.'
He looked up, still smiling. 'I suppose I should be taking my leave, then?' Still smiling.
On the one hand, she very much wanted this man to go, and take his frightening magic with him. It was in her nature, as a warrior, to be on guard around things she did not understand. On the other hand, it was in her nature as a servant of King Eliam to comfort those who were sad, and to accompany those who were alone. This war lasted a good thirty seconds, and in the end, her suspicion was defeated.
"That is alright, Master Bingle," she said, smiling as kindly as she could. She deliberately relaxed her tense shoulders, and scooted her chair towards the table again. Not all the way, but partly. "I apologize for my rudeness; we do not have magic like that in the Realm. Please, how do you do it? The table didn't look particularly pleased to be so bent." Only, please, she added silently, no more demonstrations! The sight of the table quivering had made her queasy.
He felt, somewhat, like he was being pitied. He felt, too, what with all the lingering guilt in his head, that this was somewhat deserved. What a very old person thing to do, that was, being pitied. Bingle didn't usually think of himself as 'old.' He always felt that the aging process was the kind of thing that officially stopped with your heartbeat. You never see people bringing birthday cakes to graveyards, anyhow. And if you did, it was always promptly followed by the sounds of sirens, and groups of men in white coats who work in places with padded walls. Bingle was feeling rather old. Perhaps he should have stayed at home. Read a book, ate some popcorn. Dead men didn't read books and eat popcorn but, then, neither did old people.
'No, reality isn't very fond of that kind of thing. It is both elastic, and very unhappy that it is elastic, you know.' He scoffed, faintly. 'You'd never imagine how it reacts, when someone snaps it. Terrible, very terrible, for everyone involved. And the bystanders and people on the other sides of the street, and a few other people who happened to be unlucky.'
He looked up. 'Now, generally speaking, plane folding involves the manipulating of. Well. Planes. The planes that make up everything are, when you look at them in quite the right way, flat. Flat, much like paper. It may be folded, too, much like paper. I knew a fellow who folded a ship into a crane.' He smiled at the memory. 'It flapped its wings when you pulled its tail and blew its horn when you pressed its head.'
'I do have books on the subject I am more than willing to lend, but, ah.' He smiled and shrugged. He didn't think this topic liked him very much. 'What do you do, Miss Nalleb?'
If she had not just seen this man fold the table as if it were linen, she would have very carefully escorted him to FicPsych. "Oh, me? Ah, nothing so... drastic. I and my partner are in the Department of Floaters, and when not performing the Duty, I usually practice my swordplay. Or wrestle, when I have an opponent." She smiled, remembering a particular fight from not too long ago.
'You're not a knight of some sort, are you?' he asked. 'You know, I wanted to be a knight, when I was terribly young. Or a baker, one of the two. I can never quite remember.' He considered, briefly, asking if she was a baker, but something in the back of his head answered 'No, probably not.'
((Should we, perhaps, start closing it up to enter them into round 2? Give others a shot and such? Unless you got anything else to add or whatnot.))
"Very similar to a knight, except, well," she gestured to her dress, "obviously, I am not a man." She certainly hoped it was obvious in this ridiculous outfit. She knew her shoulders sometimes confused matters, but a dress was a dress.
((Sounds good to me. The last word is yours, if you wish. bows with a flourish
'Oh, I don't doubt that, Miss Nalleb! There are continua where they have female knights, of course.' He blinked, as he realised that he wasn't actually aware of any specific ones. 'Well, I'm quite certain, anyhow. There must be at least one. Or two, maybe three. A spin-off of one.' He suddenly paused, like somebody had tapped him on the shoulder. He slipped a hand into his pocket, bringing his card out, looking at it. He brought it down and looked at Alleb.
'I believe we must move on to our next partners, assuming my card isn't glitching terribly.' He went to his feet, made a faint little bow that was concerned only halfway with politeness, the other half concerned with not stressing the spine too much and snapping it in half. 'It has been a pleasure, Miss Nalleb! I do wish you luck, and hope you encounter someone more suited to you, in terms of tastes, age, and general state of mortality.' He extended a hand and smiled.
Alleb stood and took the hand. She gave it a firm shake, hoping she hadn't hurt the man's feelings with her own ineptitude. "Take care, Master Bingle," she said. As she moved away to find her new partner, she said, by reflex, "Never alone!"
She hoped her next partner was a better fit.
((Pfft, that was fun. I somehow don't think Alleb and Bingle are meant to be, but that was fun to write.
This robot did not appear very human. In fact, it looked rather like a large, incredibly complicated box. This is interesting, he thought. Nevertheless, there was no need to be rude. "Good evening," he said, taking his seat and looking at the boxbot across from him. "My name is Michael. May I ask yours?
'Like Hildegard of Bingen, Finch!' And before Finch could even remind Bingle that Hildegard of Bingen was a nun, famous for being a nun and doing generally nun-related activities, such as not conquering hearts, he had receded into the distance. So he turned to the human. First, he observed for laceration hazards. Glasses, could break, could cut. He observed for fire hazards. Green neck tie. Knot unidentified. May burn. He observed for tripping hazards. Shoes, could trip. And so on and so forth. His ocular whirred and clicked as he aimed it here, then there, moving constantly.
'S86FNC-11630. Morning.' he looked from left to right. 'You-re not one of those bloody mech-fetishists, are you? If you are, I do not have what you-re looking for.'
He smiled a bit ruefully. "I admit, I had not thought I would be meeting one such as yourself this evening. I assure you, that is not one of my interests. However, with that said, this need not be a waste. How are you this afternoon?"
Finch said, ocular visibly relaxing, widening. 'This afternoon? I-ve been well bloody glad, as of late, that no-one-s gone and asked me to flip out that knobbo-wand V44 with tentacle attachments that I don-t have, for one. For two,' an actuator unflipped from his chassis with a whir. It was held out and gestured to the ceiling. 'The ceiling hasn-t fallen in and torn me into millions of little sparking pieces, starting a fire that further burns and melts my charred, wrecked body. I-m quite happy about that.' His entire body shifted slightly on its hoverplates as he explained. 'I-ve decided to take a more optimistic look at things, as of late. You?'
Unless he really needed to, he wasn't sure he wanted to know... anything about it, really. Putting that particular train of thought aside, hopefully not ever to be put on a track again, Michael said, "I have been well, thank you. Over this last week, the Duty has not been particularly unpleasant, although I do not expect that to last." He hesitated, then added, "May I ask what Department you work for?" Somebody had to begin asking questions, after all, and they didn't have much time to waste.
Oh, bugger me, thought Finch. Not in a literal sense, the date just started and now I don-t entirely trust this person he added, to straighten the record with himself. 'Should-ve figured you were a bloody agent. Who isn-t a bloody agent, here?' He shook his ocular sadly. 'Operations. We-re the frowning bastards who get pulled over to fix up all the hallways you lot mangle. With your bloody flamethrowers.' And his ocular jumped and gazed and looked, searching for any stashed away flamethrowers in the general area.
The corner of his mouth quirked up a bit in a smile, but that dropped as he recalled what had happened last month. "On the other hand, my partner is responsible for the hole in the wall of Response Center 11235813. I am sorry for that." He noticed Finch's eye looking around, seemingly nervously, and wondered if he really ought to have said that.
'Ceilings collapse, floors crack, consoles blow up, response Centre Walls get holes in them. The actuator flipped and folded back into place. 'I-d like to get righteously mad at everything you buggers break, but I-d probably blow out my aggression circuits. Whose your partner? Tall? Blonde? Four arms? I might know him.'
"That being said, if you do spend much time there, he would usually be at the bar or a crowded table. His name is Apecian, he is a bit taller than I am, and has curly black hair, pale skin, and red eyes." Michael paused for a moment, trying to identify anything else that might help Finch recall his partner. "You might also have noticed that he wears the same thing almost every day. A black t-shirt and black pants, with a rather distinctive red mark on the back of the t-shirt."
'There-s a combination of organic biology, alcohol, and lots of discussion slash potential arguments that tends to scare people like me off.' Saying that, he glanced about, looking at a great variety of organic biology, alcohol, and discussions slash potential arguments. He, ever so subtly, powered up his hoverplates.
'Haven-t met him, sorry. He sounds bloody horrid smelling, if he wears the same thing all day.' Finch's nasal sensors hadn't been working for eight years, now. He didn't truly understand the meaning behind this. The true pain behind what he had said. The uniquely organic misery that was the experience of a smelly shirt.
"I'm sorry, I am afraid I was not clear on what I meant," he said, managing to keep another from escaping. "I do not mean that he wears the exact same clothing every day, but that everything he wears looks exactly alike." He caught a small hum of a hoverplate, and added, "In regards to Rudi's, I cannot say I blame you for that. It can get quite a bit louder and more crowded than our current surroundings, yes?"
'"Quite a bit louder." I blew out my audial sensors there, once.' He looked left, looked right. 'Bloody well does get "quite a bit louder." How the hell do you handle it?
"When was this?" he asked. "I haven't ever heard it reach levels above mildly uncomfortable."
His ocular spun slowly as he searched for the name. 'Detective, I think. Got some Sueness in him, so one-ve the agents,' he paused, and considered this. 'Well, I-ll assume she was an agent, considering the violence and shouting. It was a bloody mess, let me tell you. Had the bugger against a wall and yelled, and-' He went silent and froze. After finally deciding that he was safe, he flicked his ocular to his card, which had been placed on the table.
'Got to move on, mine says,' he said, looking up at Michael.
He took it out, and looked at it. "Ah, yes," he said. "So it appears. Well, it has been a pleasure meeting you. Perhaps I shall see you again sometime, perhaps not, but still, it was a pleasure." He extended his hand to shake one of the robot's.
Agent Alleb was certainly uncomfortable. If she wasn't touching her hair--as if it were in some special configuration and not falling to her shoulders like normal--she was fidgeting with her dress, or wringing her hands, or biting her lip. However, even if she had been still as a statue, it would have been easy to see that she was uncomfortable, because her paper-white face was nearly covered in an embarrassed flush.
"Really, Sir Jesse," she said, tugging at the shoulder of her gown as they walked, "are you sure this is... fashionable?"
"Yep!" Jesse answered. He practically skipped through the Generic Halls, looking dapper in a black three-piece suit and starched white undershirt. She found the cut of his jacket odd; its front edge ended at his waist while the back went nearly to his knees in two long tails. He'd tamed his mop of golden hair and hidden it beneath a brimmed cylindrical hat--a "top hat" he'd called it--and had even shaved. He grinned at her, eyes twinkling. Alleb managed to smile back, though she was still tugging at her gown.
Well, Alleb thought, biting her lip and peering down the corridor, that's rather easy for him to say. He does not look ridiculous. She looked down at her own clothing, and felt the knots in her stomach tighten. The color was alright--a deep blue--but some madman had designed the shoulders to not be on her shoulders. She kept trying to tug them up; she was sure the whole thing would fall at any moment. Not to mention the fact that the cut revealed two stab wounds and the edge of a long cut on her shoulder, all long healed, but red and ugly nonetheless. And, as if that weren't bad enough, she had a train dragging along behind her, rustling over the Generic Floor and making a nuisance of itself.
Alleb sighed. At least she'd resisted the shopkeeper's attempt to stuff her into one of those "corset" things. She wouldn't have breathed for fear of breaking the laces.
"Hey, I think this is it," Jesse said, stopping in front of a wooden door. His grin returned. He opened the door and swept his top hat off in a bow, ushering her in. "After you, Lady Alleb," he said, his grin never faltering.
Alleb raised an eyebrow and bowed in return. "My thanks," she said, "Sir Jesse." She took a deep breath, squared her shoulders, and marched into the dimly-lit room. It was going to be an interesting night.
Michael Green was tired of a lot of things. He was tired of missions, he was tired of Sues twisting the canon, he was tired of the unrelenting grey of the Generic Hallways. More than anything, though, he was tired of his partner.
They both stopped outside of the mahogany door. Michael was in a slightly-rumpled suit, and had traded in his white ceramic coffee mug for a sleek black travel cup. Mia was in her customary leather jacket, black tank top, and black ripped jeans, her ever-present black sunglasses... present. Michael suppressed a sigh (he had a lot of experience doing that). She might have been original in her method of expressing rage at life in general. She might have opted for an orange jumper, indicating her lack of respect for society's rules of fashion. She might have chosen a red hat, symbolizing her anger for the world. She might have worn a pair of green pants, showing off her disgust for everyone.
But, no, she'd chosen black, as if it hadn't been done a thousand times before. Michael suppressed another sigh. This was going to be interesting.
"Why're we here, Greenie?" Mia growled. Well, she tried to growl. Her voice was too high and feminine for growling, but he had to give it to her, she really did try. "Wouldn't counting loose threads in your suit be a better waste of time for both of us?"
Probably, he thought. "We're here so one or both of us can get married and move into another RC," he reminded her. "Then you won't have to deal with me, and I won't have to deal with you." He took a sip of coffee, blinking tiredly at the mahogany door. Why weren't they going in? "Oh," he said, reaching for the handle. Mia scoffed as he opened it, brushing past him into a darkened room. Michael took another fortifying gulp before following her. He hoped she was wrong about this being a waste of time; he really wanted a different RC.
A girlfriend would be nice too, he supposed.
((Alleb and Jesse are in standard 1870s formal wear, as Jesse is from that time period and Alleb unwisely let him shop for her. I couldn't resist stuffing Alleb into the stuff; she's a muscle-bound warrior woman in a sleeveless, shoulder-less dress, from a time period that loved slim waists and the like. Poor girl. I thought about giving her a corset, but she's built like a slightly-feminine bull, so I didn't think that would go well.
Thanks for putting this soiree on
Aegis Mysterious Host!
Noting one he felt like he had a good chance at, he set off towards the table, moving confidently through the room. The female currently sitting at the table had short-ish blond hair and was wearing what looked to Apollo, very much like a bikers leather jacket. Interested in the clothing of choice, although aware his clothing wasn't exactly the most orthodox choice for something like this, Apollo approached the table, sitting down on the other side of it, he maneuvered himself so he casually sat side wards on the chair and decided to introduce himself. "Hey, I'm James, just call me Apollo. May I get your name?"
Before the pool of bubbling acid that was her mind could respond, her emotions--those of a teenage girl--replied, "Hi, I'm Mia."
Mia blinked. She'd sounded... friendly. She tucked an errant strand of hair behind her ear, frowning slightly. He must be using some sort of mind control. She hadn't sounded that friendly since her glitter count dipped below one hundred. Her best course of action would be to flip the table and run out of the room before--
"What department do you work in?" she found herself asking. Her eyes widened behind her sunglasses. It must be very strong mind control. So strong, in fact, that she found herself not wanting to flip the table over and barrel out of the room. In fact, she wanted to stay for a while.
She settled back into her chair, steepling her fingers and smiling slightly.
'Considering some of those here, maybe she's surprised she's ended up with a regular enough human.' He thought, 'or at least human to normal eyes anyway.' He cleared his throat before replying to her question. "I'm from DMS, Freelance Division to be exact. What about you?"
Smiling. Bloody smiling, and not a dead Sue in sight. She felt positively unnerved by her own behavior. "No sub-division, though." She toyed with the sleeve of her jacket, trying to think of something to say. What did people talk about on speed dates, anyway? "So what do you do for fun?" That sounded alright. I think.
"But both my partner and I are archers, so we're often down the practice range competing against each other." Apollo stopped for a second, thinking that something in his previous sentence had sounded wrong he mentally went back over it, realized and then corrected himself. "Not partner, partner you know? Just my RC partner."
Wiping a hand over his forehead, he continued, "What about you? You able to get up to much?"
As it was, he was quite content to just sit back and let Mia lead the questioning, she wasn't that bad at all really, and he didn't really have the confidence to try and lead the conversation at the moment.
"Other than that, missions. Lots of missions. Had any interesting Sues recently?" she asked, settling back in her chair. She was liking this; the conversation felt like it was developing normally. She didn't even feel the urge to scowl at something. It was all so strange.
Chris was wearing a clearly rented but still nice black suit. He didn't have a tie, but he did have a yellow violet corsage pinned to the jacket.
"I can't believe they had something for a pony," said Ami. She had a simple pastel-purple dress and a blue ribbon holding her mane out of her face. They'd offered fancy horseshoes, too, but she declined.
Miguel, meanwhile, had simply dug out the suit he'd wanted to use for a Bond costume the previous year. "It's a shame Violet didn't want to come. I really love that pheasant dress from last year."
"Yeah, me too." Ami looked around for the table with her name. "Remind me again what the signal for 'Let's go home' is?"
"One of us finding the other and saying it," Chris deadpanned. "Ami, we're not undercover agents or going into a risky neighborhood, we don't need a safeword."
"I'm ready to split up if you two are," Miguel commented.
Chris nodded. "All right. Have fun, guys!"
Miguel wandered off towards the back, and Ami headed for the left wing. For his part, Chris found his table relatively quickly.
He hoped he got paired with someone nice. He hadn't courted a lady in... it had to be at least five years. And sure, this wasn't regular courting, but it was a sight better than nothing. Ami... he thought, peering down at his directions. He swung mid-step and stopped in front of one of the tables, his most charming grin firmly in place. He extended a hand, saying, "Miss Ami, I pre--"
That was a horse.
He blinked, sure he was wrong.
No, that was most definitely a horse.
((Can we all stop to appreciate the irony of a cowboy speed-dating a pony?
She extended a hoof and shook the offered hand. "It's nice to meet you. I, uh, hope you don't mind too much that I'm a unicorn...really, I was hoping to meet another pony, but I like humans just fine. What's your name, by the way?"
As first impressions went, it was one of her better ones. She just hoped her mystery date wouldn't mind her home verse.
((Irony duly appreciated.))
Jesse realized that he wasn't sure what he wanted to say. It's fine that you're a unicorn? It's definitely not fine that you're a unicorn?
"It's Jesse," he said, surprising himself with a voice that was not a panicked yell. "Jesse McKree."
He had absolutely no idea what he should say next. The only thing that was coming to his mind was that Alleb owned a unicorn, one that definitely couldn't speak, and that Jesse had fed said unicorn apples and scratched behind its ears.
For obvious reasons, he couldn't say any of those things.
"So, uh, whereabouts are you from?" he asked. He wondered exactly how long he could sit here without breaking into hysterical laughter. He hoped Alleb wasn't having such difficulties.
((Jesse would hit on the Notary herself if the opportunity arose, but the poor man has absolutely no idea what to do in this situation. I'm enjoying this immensely.
"I don't know if you've heard of it; it's a really popular show about, well, friendships. The story started when the supreme leader of my country, Princess Celestia, sent her most talented student to Ponyville a few years ago to oversee the Summer Sun Celebration. Twilight--that's the student--was also supposed to make friends while she was there, but she was more interested in the legend of Nightmare Moon.
"See, for thousands of years Princess Celestia and her little sister, Princess Luna, ruled Equestria together by giving us the day and the night respectively. As time went on, Luna grew increasingly jealous of Celestia; the ponies loved her and her day, but slept through Luna's night. Legends said that one fateful night, Luna refused to lower the moon and transformed into an evil version of herself, Tartarus-bent on creating eternal night.
"Princess Celestia banished her to the moon with the most powerful magic she had, but there was a prophecy that Nightmare Moon would come back on the longest day of the thousandth year. Naturally, that was the exact day of the Summer Sun Celebration." Ami paused for air. "Sorry, did I lose you? I get really passionate about things related to the Princesses, and you seemed surprised I was a unicorn so I figured you'd never heard of my show..." Her ears went back against her head, and she blushed in embarrassment.
"That's uh... wow," he said, articulate to the last. He put an elbow on the table and leaned forward, frowning. "Lemme get this straight--so you've got a Princess, and she's immortal, right? You said she was alive for thousands of years. And she's got a sister. And the older one rules over the day, and younger one rules over the night, and the younger sister don't know that sleepin' under the stars is the best dang thing a cowboy out on the trails has, so she gets all mad that people're sleepin', and goes crazy?" He thought about this for a moment. "Sounds like my uncle, Randy."
"That about sums up the pilot. Long story short, Twilight and five other ponies end up discovering the Elements of Harmony and using them to bring Princess Luna back. Then Twilight gets an official task from...wait a minute, did you say your uncle Randy?" She really hadn't expected this. "What happened to him?"
"Before that, he was a blacksmith. And a real good fiddle player. But then he went crazy." Jesse shrugged, as if that explained everything. "Wait a minute, though. If there're two Princesses, where'd they come from? If there ain't no King or Queen, well, why ain't the older sister the Queen? I ain't exactly an expert, but that sounds a bit off." He reached up and scratched his head, knocking his top hat askew.
"But if it makes you feel better, my partners asked the same question the first time I showed them the pilot episodes. Give it a try if you're curious. I think you'll like Applejack the most out of the core cast. She's an earth pony who runs a farm and an apple orchard with her cowpony family. You guys even sound similar!"
She smiled when she realized she actually liked talking to him. Chris was right, I didn't need to worry. He's patient, he listens to me getting excited, he's actually kind of charming for a human... "I don't think you mentioned where you come from, Jesse."
"Born and raised. 'Course, went north when the fightin' started, and I was in Kansas when old Firefly and me got tossed in here." He waved his hand vaguely, as if to indicate HQ as a whole.
((Just to be clear, Jesse fought for the Union in the Civil War; he went north to enlist, not as part of a campaign.
"Who's that?" She made a mental note to ask Miguel what fighting Jesse had referred to after this was over. "For that matter, what was a plot hole doing in Kansas? Did you wander onto Gale property or something?"
"Dunno why the plot hole was there. One of the other agents said one of the other cowpokes mighta had a bad novel in his saddlebag." Jesse shrugged. "How'd you end up workin' here, Miss Ami?"
"They told me I'm my author's 'ponysona', but since she never wrote anything solid about me I kinda fell through a crack in reality. All I remember is waking up in HQ and realizing that I couldn't remember my family." Ami looked at the floor for a moment. "Worst and weirdest day of my life. Watching season one of my show helped. ...Sometimes I wonder whether meeting my author would answer my questions about me. Then I remember it'd probably break the universe first and move on."
She hadn't meant to share that, but the words had come out anyway. "I know people fall through plotholes to get here all the time. That's how my partner Chris got here; we basically got partnered for convenience and because we actually had some common ground. I just...well, I wish I had a better backstory, you know?"
((Well, that escalated quickly.))
He wasn't very good at comforting people, and he had no experience at all in comforting ponies, but he figured he should at least try--Ami had been nothing but pleasant. "Backstory don't matter," he said, shaking his head. "It's what ya do with the future that matters." He reached into his coat and pulled out a metal flask, then paused. "Uh, I was gonna offer you some 'a this... can you drink whiskey?"
((Aw, Ami. She's such a sweetheart.
"Though I have to wonder; how come no one's offered us a menu yet?"
"I don't recall anyone mentionin' food. Maybe it'll come later?"
Both were in formal wear, although Apecian's was more an approximation of such adapted from his usual outfit, the most notable changes being that his shirt had long sleeves and he was wearing a vest in a deeper shade of red than his eyes. Michael, on the other hand, was wearing a traditional tuxedo, with a green neck tie tied in a knot whose name Apecian couldn't remember. Apecian grinned at his partner, who had seemed to relax a bit after seeing the modicum of privacy afforded by the low lighting.
"Alright, you ready?" he asked. His clothes may have been more formal, but his speech most definitely wasn't.
"I believe so, yes," Michael replied quietly. Apecian had been around him long enough to pick up that he was nervous, and scoffed.
"Come on, you'll do just fine," he said. "Go on, find your table." Michael hesitated, but then nodded.
"Good luck," he said, and went in search of his name. Apecian waved to his partner, then started walking around the tables. He managed to find his name rather quickly, and he considered taking a peak at his first date's name. He grinned at the thought of this as a date, and decided against it. No need to ruin the surprise. He slid into his seat, and waited for the other to arrive.
"Hello there! I'm Miguel Correa. You must be Apecian; pleasure to meet you." Miguel sat down across from the mysterious man. "So...nice place, huh? I wonder why no one's ever noticed it or been here before."
He was a bit surprised to see somebody who looked younger than he was. Or, younger than he looked, anyways. But, hey, who was he to judge? Going by time, he should still be in the Nursery. "Yeah, that's me," he said. "Probably because they were too busy not looking for somewhere else. I mean, I've never ended up in the Marquis' office when I was not looking for Rudi's." As he said this, he automatically tapped on the table with his knuckles.
He wasn't going to make a good impression by being semantic and he knew it. "I guess it makes sense when you put it that way. How long have you been in Headquarters? I've been here a little over a year, but it feels like a lot longer sometimes."
Some part of his being was whispering to him that he was going to have to try a little harder to if he wanted to catch Miguel's attention. Perhaps it was something about him having cut off in the middle of his sentence. Unfortunately for that little part, it was ever so quiet, and so couldn't actually commune with Apecian to tell him to clean up his speech, too. He paused to think about the question. "About six months, I think," he finally said. "I'm not sure about that, though. I can't ever remember to keep track of time, most days. But, yeah, about that long. So, where do you work? I mean, what kind of continua. And department, if you feel like it."
"I don't think my partners and I have done two missions in a row from the same continuum. Maybe the IO thinks it'll keep us on our toes or something." He knocked on the table three times. "To be honest, I kinda like that. Keeps missions interesting and probably keeps us from losing our interest in such-and-such a verse, you know?"
Apecian nodded and said, "I know what you mean. We got a few missions from my home 'verse when we first started, but after we learned some new stuff, we haven't really gotten lots of the same thing, either. Good thing, too, because that'd be really boring. Only so many ways you can see Harry OOC in a row before you start pulling out the cards, right?"
Miguel smiled. "My mom and her friends liked those books a lot more than I did. One of them, I don't remember her name, always spent the entire day the new books came out reading them no matter what else we were doing. Mom swears she even read them at the pool!" He laughed, remembering him and Brenda trying (and failing) to convince the woman to swim with them. "I wonder if she remembers that, too? The jump to HQ kinda played havoc with our personal timelines...but that's a story not suited for speed dating."
((That thing Miguel mentions is based on what my mom and her best friend did with the books IRL. By the way, I saw a Tumblr post either today or yesterday with a headcanon that Harry is multiracial; the post cited his hair and the whole "Lily brought shame to our family by marrying James" thing as evidence. Your thoughts?))
"Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. See the eyes?" he asked, grinning and pointing at them. "Two things weren't related, sorry, just mentioned Potterverse because this one time, we got a whole week of nothing but. Mike practically had to drag me into missions by the end of it. Usually, though, Potterverse is good. It was... I think the third or fourth thing I read here? I actually tried reading on a mission until I lost a foot because I wasn't paying attention." He laughed a little at the memory. He'd barely even noticed when the parenthesis had cut it off until he'd felt it growing back.
((Hm. I was under the impression that it was mostly Petunia who wasn't happy she'd married James, and that was because Petunia was greener than Envy of the Giant Lizard form. Is an irritating skeptic. Also, since it's probably relevant, Apecian's eyes are red and have slit pupils. No, I didn't draw any inspiration from any of the canons. That would be silly.))
He hadn't read Brotherhood (yet), but the eyes and Apecian's comment about his foot were starting to make him wonder... "Uh...don't take this the wrong way, but...are you a chimera or something?"
He immediately gave himself a mental smack. Nice going, genius. Your first speed date and you've already contracted foot-in-mouth.
They circled back to nest in his hair, decided it wasn't all that comfortable, and flew away again. Apecian grinned. "Close, but not exactly," he said. "I'm a Homunculus, so a foot's not a big deal." He paused, and his smile faded a little. "Uh, that's not gonna be a problem, is it?" At last, some of the downsides of running on Soul Power threatened to manifest.
He made a mental note to watch more Brotherhood when he had the chance. "So how'd you end up here? I don't think I've met an agent from FMA before."
"After I was made in the badfic I'm from, I wandered around the world, doing my own thing, until I ended up in Amestris, and I found a couple things that pointed me in the direction of Central at the Promised Day. I saw part of the big showdown between Van Hohenheim and Father, and because of the whole living-ish souls thing, I ended up here, 'cause my maker said that I didn't have those, just formless energy." Apecian sighed. "It's stupid, I know. Only thing I can say is that he was an idiot and I was supposed to be there so he could kill me after he failed to right after he made me. So, how 'bout you?" he asked, eager to both find out more about Miguel and draw attention away from his backstory. Why couldn't he have come from a goodfic?
"There was this girl, Natasha, and she somehow got Mew's powers. As a complement to that, my mom and I both got Celebi powers. Chris and Ami decided I didn't do anything really bad, so they brought both of us, plus my friend Brenda, back to HQ," he said. "Mom doesn't use her powers, though. She works in the Nursery. I haven't seen Brenda in...oh, gosh, at least two years. Wonder how she's doing?"