Wunderkinder: In Distress

BOULDER, COLORADO: “FAIRY GLEN” QUEER NIGHTCLUB

 

“Niiiiice,” the dancer emerging from the hall into the backstage dressing room was wearing little: a pair of pasties, a glittery pink thong with a faintly-noticeable bulge, and expertly-overapplied eyeshadow. They cut a small figure, slim and slight, with short red hair and a dusting of freckles all over their face and arms. In their hand was a large wad of dollar bills. “Lotta people out there.”

 

“That’s because they’re hoping one of us will be next,” a muscular young man replied, peering at his own made-up face in the mirror. He was slim too, but rather than a waifish figure, his was chiseled like a greek statue with a head of curly black hair to match. “It’s murder porn for them.”

 

The standing dancer made a face. “You’re such a buzzkill, Adam, what the hell.”

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Wunderkinder: Spectacle

BOULDER, COLORADO: ‘Fairy Glen’ Queer Nightclub

 

“This club is terrible,” Dave complained, sneering at the surroundings, “and it smells bad.”

 

“That’s you,” Chris wrinkled his nose, “you smell bad. You should have taken a shower.”

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Wunderkinder: Strategic

THE FLYING FORTRESS

(CURRENTLY ABOVE MONTREAL, CANADA)

 

Alice “Oathkeeper” McGowan leaned back from her desk, stretching her wrists and cracking her knuckles. Her role as General, Recruitment Management Officer, Logistics Manager, Public Relations Officer (depending on the day and the duties at hand) and, of course, a mother was a challenging one. But sometimes, on days like this… She knew she was doing some good in the world.

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Hanging in the Hangars

 

Wherein Jupiter Meets Nat and introduces eir to Markus Cross and Red. They then meet up again the the Faerie Glen.

 

The hangers of the Flying Fortress held a variety of craft, but Jupiter Strike was at the far end. She had a stack of large backpacks nearby and she had one un-packed and laid out. They were parachutes, and she seemed to be checking them for safety. She’s a tall woman with her dark hair in a ponytail and she’s in obvious civvies, jeans and a tee. There’s a bomber jacket thrown carelessly onto a nearby crate with a pair of aviators tossed on. She waves.

 

“Hey! You must be Nat. I’m Jessica.”

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Where There’s Smoke: Second Album Syndrome

SECOND ALBUM SYNDROME


Chad listened to the challenge from the loud speakers, took a breath and made to set Fi down. “Okay. I’m gonna…”  

 

Good enough for Fi. She stormed right inside.  

Continue reading “Where There’s Smoke: Second Album Syndrome”

Fae at Work

‘FAERIE GLEN’ NIGHTCLUB
BOULDER, COLORADO

 

If someone asked you to describe what the owner and operator of a national strip club chain and the largest queer dance parties in North America looked like, you’d probably describe Tommy Varo. He was an aging gay man who acted the part like it was still the nineties, stereotypical swish that you’d never see on television without outcry. He was tall and thin and well-dressed, and he carried about him a sense of authority that he wielded liberally, sending waves of his employees to carry out his whim and will.

 

“All right kids! Listen up!” He clapped over his head several times, and the assorted bustling staff of the Glen looked up. Many of them were cleaning, patrolling, studying, or messing around on their phones, but a few were practicing their dances on the poles and stage, and the Damselfly emself hovered above everyone else, pausing a runthrough of eir trickier aerial moves.

 

“I know you’ve all heard of Lights Show,” Varo said in a conversational tone that somehow still managed to be very loud, “and I know you’ve all been waiting for me to pin him down and make him sign something. Well, mission fucking accomplished! He’ll be spinning for us once every other friday and whenever else he and I agree to put him on the schedule.”

 

Varo gestured to Lights Show, and the staff cheered with genuine enthusiasm.

 

And, like a champ, Lights Show almost missed his cue!  He tapped out a few notes with a finger, a frown displaying on the LED of his mask screen, and then he jumped, spinning around, an exclamation appearing on the screen– he’d obviously gotten an upgraded helmet.  Just like that, he hopped up and over by him, helmet turning this way and that, looking around, then gave a shy little wave, shuffling from foot to foot.

 

A nervous laugh came out of the speakers on the side of his mask. “Uh… hey.”

 

Above, Nat squealed in unsuppressed delight, hands to eir cheeks.

 

“Go ahead and introduce yourself to the family, kid,” Varo gestured (a bit dismissively?). “Adam and Mac are our den parents, but Chris is all right too, I suppose. You know Nat. Our… handler will be by in a bit to discuss your other duties.”

 

Lights Show nodded, taking in the names, assigning them to faces, and giving one of those little wiggly finger waves at Nat with a 😉 on his mask as he did it.  On the ‘handler bit’ he glanced over at Varo, wondering just what he could mean by that but– OH YEAH he was supposed to be introducing himself!

 

There was that nervous laugh again, and he reached up, clicking the wheels around the speakers.  There was a small hiss, and Lights show lifted the top part of his mask off, revealing big honey brown eyes, freckled cheek and button nose, and a messy mop of curly blond hair sticking over to one side, the other side of his head shaved to stubble.  He had a lopsided grin, and was blushing ear to ear. Squealllll

 

“Hey, uh, I’m Elliot. Lights Show. You can call me Eli? Or Elliot. Or Anders. Or LS. Or whatever I don’t mind I promise.” He hugged his helmet top to his chest, shuffling foot to foot.

 

The two very handsome-in-different-ways young men who approached grinned and offered their hands to shake in turn, taking Elliott’s gloved hand without forcing him to let go of the helmet.

 

“Hi Lights Show!” This young man was muscular as fuck; developed pectoral muscles straining against the surface of a size-too-small white t-shirt. He had a mop of curly hair like Elliott’s, but his was black, his skin olive-toned. “I’m Adam. It’s great to have you on the team.”

 

“Elliott, it’s great to finally meet you in person!” The slighter and more boyish-looking of the two immediately pinged Elliot’s transdar, and a glance at his collarbone revealed a trans symbol tattoo, confirming it. “I’m Mac. Huge fan, for real.”

 

Was there a way for freckles to turn red and hide? They might have just found a way.  Elliot blinks once, twice, staring a little at Adam as they shake hands– yeah that was a double take on THOSE PECS– and then he sees Mac and the blush fades a bit but those eyes LIGHT UP.

 

“That’s awesome! I, um, uh–” he was going to say something, but lost it.  Where did it– Oh never mind. “Thanks for the great welcome. Y’all are great and amazing.”  Yes, that was a bit of southern twang that snuck into his otherwise plainly mid-western accent.

 

Nat descended from above upside-down, craning backwards like ey was leaning over the back of a nonexistent chair. “Elliott, you are one tough motherfucker to get ahold of. I’m so glad you’re working with us; you’re going to love it here.”

 

“That impromptu performance you gave a few months back?” Mac gushed. “I’ve been following your sets ever since. Just. Your taste is great, your transitions are seamless. We’re super lucky to have you.”

 

Adam just stood there, smiled, and looked pretty. Holy shit were his abs visible through the shirt? Oh my god they were

 

Getting accused of being hard to get a hold of reminded him! Lights patted down where pockets would be on normal jeans, front, then back, then went for chest pockets– nope. No clue where his phone was. Hopefully it was on the Musical Marauder.

 

“I’m stoked to work with you and–” And he’s distracted again because wow Mac is being cute af.  Lights just grins at him, like an idiot, because, like, what is he even supposed to say? If he’s like ‘yeah I’m totes a badass’ he’d sound like an asshole and that’s just rude, but– are Adam’s abs staring at him? They are totes staring at him.

 

They so are. Are they saying something? In a tiny voice? “Touch us, Elliot,” they whispered. “Lick us. Are you kids having fun.”

 

Whoa wait no somebody actually said that last one.

 

Wearing a slight smirk, Tabitha Armitage was looking at him. When did she show up? In spite of Armitage being merely the administrative lead of the Fortress, some people had started referring to her as ‘The Queen’ behind her back, given that she basically ran the entire goddamn earthside Legion.

 

“Hi Nat,” she nodded to the Damselfly. “Adam. Mac. Elliot.”

“Tab-Tab I need to talk to youuuuu,” Nat whispered.

“Not now, bug.”

 

Huh. That was. Wow, was his brain supplying this or did this guy really qualify on his cookie-jar scale?  Wait, kids having– OH NO HE KNEW THAT VOICE.  Elliot let out a little squeak, standing up a little bit straighter and reflexively almost putting his helmet back on, but he fumbled it instead, helmet bouncing a few times and out of his reach.

 

“Hey qu— uh– Mrs. Armitage.” Elliot cleared his throat, fidgeting like a kid in the principal’s office.

 

“At ease, Elliot, you’re not in trouble. I’m just here with a proposal for you, and a little info. Mac, Adam, can you give us a minute please?”

 

“Yes Miz Armitage!” Adam replies with a bad military salute, causing the too-tight shirt to stretch even tighter fuck. He puts a hand on Mac’s shoulder and the two scuttle away.

 

“Thirst. I mean. Um. I’m thirsty. Wow my mouth is dry. NOTLIKETHAT.” Elliot does, however, watch them go (his ASS, oh my god. BOTH of their asses. mmf) before turning his attention back to Tabitha, fingers fidgeting like they needed something to mess with and his fingers had no helmet or stringed instrument or piano for that matter, so there they were, becoming a tangled mess like his tongue right now.

 

“So uh, what’s up?”

 

“Let’s take a seat,” Tabitha gestures to one of the tall bar tables, and strides to it, her mid heels making that decisive click click click sound. “I’m sure you’ve run into my wife Emi at some point. Do you know what she does for the Legion these days? Not everyone does.”

 

Nat gasps and squeals, hovering a circle around the bar table. “Ohh, I know where this is going!!”

 

Lights doesn’t do sitting well. Oh no.  He looks at the chair, then leans against the back of it, because, y’know, compromise and all that jazz. “She’s that shadow ninja right?” He just blurts that out, then pauses, goes bright red again, and clears his throat, looking down.  Oops.

 

“She was,” Tabitha doesn’t seem offended.

 

“But then she took an arrow to the knee!” Nat chirps. “OH MY GOD HIGH FIVE”

 

“Nat, why do you keep saying that. It wasn’t an arrow.”

 

Nat just giggles and high-fives LS.

 

Tabitha sighs, then shakes her head. “Emi hasn’t been field-ready for a while. But her skills are still vital to us. She leads our small but focused Covert Ops department. Nat is our lead black ops agent, actually, and works directly for her. So does Tommy Varo, actually. The Legion has shared ownership of the Faerie Glen, and is bankrolling its remote franchises.”

 

“Whooooaaaaa.” Lights blinks a few times, looks over at Mr. Swishy, then back at Queen and Nat. “THAT IS SO COOL.”

 

For her reputation as a brutal machine, Tabitha’s smile sure looks sincere. “We try. Operation Faerie Ring is our attempt to expand our surveillance network, intended both to aid recruitment operations as well as to keep an eye on and capture hard-to-find Villains and criminals.”

 

She taps both fingers against the tabletop. “We’d like you to join the team.”

 

“Ooo, ooo! Does that mean I can be Double-Oh-YesPlease?” Elliot doesn’t know if he should laugh or be slightly ashamed so rubs the back of his neck instead. “I mean, yeah, that’d be EPIC. Like, dude.  Dude.

 

“We, ah, don’t really have separate designations for our black ops agents. Also, you need to be careful about talking about this to anyone. Obviously. The staff here is briefed and sworn to silence, and we’re slowly putting them all through basic training as well. They’re fairly good, actually. So. You’d be pairing up with Nat for some missions, luring in and pacifying very dangerous people, but sometimes we’d just have you playing gigs across the continent. Do we have your… synth?” Tabs made a face. That reference hadn’t gone as she’d hoped.

 

At first Lights pouted. No special secret code names? Like, what’s the fun in– TEAMED UP WITH NAT!  Elliot does the Success Kid pose, and the ‘item found’ sound from Zelda hits the airwaves around him.  “How are you so fucking cute” “Bug, can you wait five minutes to flirt” “haha no” Not to mention–didshejustsayplaygigsaroundthe–OH MY GOODNESS THIS WAS HUGE.

 

“Where do I need to sign? Like, can I just give you an epic guitar riff or like, do I need to press and hold X, like, what’s your deal?”

 

“The pertinent shellwork is in your secure Legion mail account. Complete it as soon as you can, please. You don’t have to do anything special yet, though; get settled in at the Glen. Play a few gigs. Work with Nat on custom choreo song combinations. Do your job, basically. Emi will be in touch about special training.”

 

A thought just struck him, and he got really thoughtful looking, like people could see the thought bubbles practically. “Does this mean… I get new costumes?”  He says it more to himself, but is seriously thinking about it.  Yes, the important questions.

 

“Oh yes, related: go see the Valkyrie sometime this week. Talk upgrades. We’ll fund them.”

 

“Valkyrie? The flying jet lady? I mean– that’s not what– this is a stri– I mean.” Elliot cleared his throat. “Cool, yeah, I’ll do that.”

 

“Well, you don’t have to,” Tabitha shrugs. “I have to get going. Estelle is going to expect me to be there to train her, and–“

 

“Wait! Tab-tab! So like! I heard that you and Alice–“

 

Tabitha slapped the table so hard and decisively that everyone in the room fell silent. She hissed, “come to my office, Mx. Zygoptera. Now.

 

Cowed, Nat floated behind her as she strode away.

 

“Oh shit.” Elliot clapped his hands over his mouth when that accidentally slipped out, staring as Queen took Nat away. Awww, that was sad. He wanted to hang out with eir.  Then again, he was supposed to maybe be working or something like that, figuring out work expectations or, figuring out what people needed for background on routines. He wasn’t really sure.  He was used to DJing house parties and birthdays, like, this was SWEET.

 

So he looked to Mr. Swishy like a deer in the headlights and just STARED.

 

Mercifully, the moment that Tabitha collared and frogmarched Nat away (as much as you can frogmarch a person who does not walk), Mac reappeared at Elliot’s side.

 

“Don’t worry about it too much,” the boyish dancer explained sheepishly, “Miz Armitage is like a mom to Nat. Ey gets in trouble all the time, and they’ll have worked through it within the hour.”

 

“Oh good, I was worried I’d have to like, barge in blaring that theme song I made for Oathkeeper or somethin’.” He laughed, then looked at his feet and shuffled a bit again, then looked up, giving a little nervous bite of his lip before talking, “Um, do you want to give me a tour? I feel like I’d be, SO LOST.”

 

“Yes! DEFinitely!” Mac leapt at the opportunity at once, gesturing for Elliot to follow him across the dance area. “You’ll probably spend most of your time in here in the DJ booth up there on the 2nd level, on that balcony. Though probably you could be way more mobile than our other deejays, which is just. So cool. The booths up there are reservable so our most high-profile clients and our agents or plants are gonna be up there during missions.”

 

“From up there, I could like, project my lights over the ceiling and it’d look SO COOL. I mean, I like being down in front of people, but I don’t want to get in the dancer’s way unless like, we work something out– Am I babbling? I think I’m babbling.” Elliot picks up his helmet while going past it, considers, then sets it on the bar. He’ll be back down after the tour.  THIS PLACE HAD MORE THAN ONE FLOOR. How exciting!

 

“Omigod tho, you and Nat together. Forget best burlesque performance, we’re gonna have the best performance, period in North America. Like I know that we’re a black ops front but this is just so cool. I’m glad I didn’t quit for real during that whole… Downer serial murder thing. Okay so this is the door to the backstage hallway…”

 

Nowhere was the Faerie Glen’s cutting-edge renovation more evident than backstage. A ladder and elevator both led up to a bank of automated lighting controls with multiple flatscreen displays and dozens of switches and sliders. The fly system for setpieces, curtains, and stage lights was mechanical and automated too, though a manual system stood as backup that backstage techs could use to manually raise and lower the fly bars above. Banks of brand-new, expensive, modular lights were arrayed like turrets at a military installation, ready to illuminate the shit out of whatever they focused on, switching from flood to spot and swapping color gels at the touch of a button.

 

It was the most theatre-like club setup that Elliot had ever seen, and put most theatres to shame, to boot.

 

“Badass, huh?” Mac grinned. “I almost can’t believe that when Nat Emerged, we only had two dozen lights. Two followspots, six PAR cans, twelve fresnels, and four cheap as fuck striplights.”

 

“THIS IS SO COOL.” And Lights is like a kid in a candy store, buzzing around from thing to thing, looking, hands close, but not touching because wow, it’s like the Holy Grail of set ups and I’M NOT WORTHY.

 

He did a little spin, taking it all in, then very smoothly moon walked back over to Mac, “Though with the kind of looks around here, don’t need this kind of set up to make y’all hot as fuck.”

 

“Hhhhhh.” Mac’s face went beet red at that, and he seemed to be temporarily unable to speak. He’d probably been about to say something, but that something was gone. Gone forever.

 

“So, what else you wanna show me?” Lights ruffled a hand through his hair, giving Mac a grin. He was trying his hardest to NOT babble on– a few puns about him being the Show, blah blah yeah no don’t blow it STOP– and totes ruin any brownie points he’d just racked up.

 

“I w-wanna show you–” by the look on his face, it was apparent what Mac wanted to show him, but instead he swept them both into the backstage hallway, face still flushed. “Th-this is the backstage hallway. There are um. Changing rooms, and the showers and bathrooms, and. The security office.”

 

“Whoa, you have an actually security office too– I mean, that makes sense with the whole super secret badasses in lace thing but– was that part of the remodel?” Lights is looking around with wide eyes, just taking it all in with wonder.  This. Was. So. Cool.

 

“Yeah, it’s important,” Mac coughed, gradually regaining some vague sense of composure, “and you’re gonna need to learn how to use it, actually. I think Tabitha wants you to figure out whether you can patch into it remotely. You’ll wanna talk to her later, but for now you should at least see it.”

 

Mac led them both into the security office. Wow that was a lot of screens. Not a whole lot of controls; it looked like a single computer controlled most of them, which was currently displaying a screensaver slide show of promo photos from the Glen’s numerous performances.

 

Once they were both in the room, Mac gently shut the door behind him. “Here we are,” he murmured.

 

Remotely patch in? Like some cyberpunk wet dream? OH HELL YES.  Elliot hopped inside, looking around with that same glee, and then paused at the screensaver, head cocked slightly to the side.

 

“You in any of these?” Elliot winked with that lopsided grin again, and glanced back at the screensaver, not touching anything just yet.

 

“Well,” Mac smiled and scuffed one jazz flat against the clean tile floor, “yeah. A bunch of ’em. See? There’s me. Just look for the guy in the binder.”

 

Sure enough, there he was. With most of his clothes off, it was apparent that Mac was extremely fit too, even though he didn’t have the same bulging muscles that Adam did. (as if on cue, the screensaver changed to an image of Adam wearing nothing but a thong that left nothing to the imagination.)

 

Elliot lets out a low whistle at that one. “Damn.” He gave the picture a glance over, then looked over his shoulder, giving Mac a very obvious one-up, nodded in appreciation and laughed, “Now I won’t be able to concentrate on the computer. OH WELL.” He laughed again, like it wasn’t really a loss as far as he was concerned.

 

“Ha ha, c’mon,” Mac’s blush deepened, and he wiped a bit of sweat from his brow. “You’re making me– heh, quit teasing! Is it hot in here?”

 

“I dunno, you still in here?” Elliot gave an over the top eyebrow waggle and blew Mac a little kiss with a very unbecoming giggle.

 

Mac looked a little faint. “Holy shit, Lights Show is hitting on me,” he said aloud, then realized he’d said it aloud, and his eyes widened, bright white over his bright pink cheeks.

 

“How do you feel about kissing?” Lights deadpanned that. Like, he was nervous AF inside, but man did being on stage help with stifling that some. “I mean, like, you’re cute, I’m cute, we should totes kiss sometime.”

 

“O-oh my god you’re– kissing? You w-want– yes please kissing. I want to– yes. Please kiss yes.”

 

Yes that was the victory fanfare from Final Fantasy. And a few lights that looked like hearts fireworks. What of it? Don’t judge.  With permission, he went right in for the kiss. Short, sweet, but he really knew what he was doing and might have nipped a bit of lip at the end there for good measure.

 

Mac leaned against the wall behind him in an attempt to steady himself, breathing ragged. He smiled. “Wow. Um. Wow,” he stammered, “please uhm. Forgive me, I should be so much more together than this, but– wow.”

 

Yup, Elliot giggled.  His uber-confidence was spent, and now he went back to shuffling and looking down at his feet and biting his lip. “Ha, um… so computers and stuff? Um?” Elliot did, however, reach out and grab his hand, holding it now with his own gloved one.

 

Mac smiled, looking away and then back up at Elliot. “Computers and stuff,” he said, giggling a little, “yeah. You don’t hafta learn the system right now, and we don’t have an account set up for you yet, but that terminal is what most of us use when we’re on eye duty. We’ve got cameras set up… pretty much everywhere. Even here, tho you can’t see it.”

 

“Well, I guess I should wave for the cameras, or say you’re welcome for the show or something.” Elliot blushed a little at that RESISTING THE URGE TO USE HIS NAME AS A PUN with all his might.

 

“Oh, uhm. Don’t worry too much about that. We all have a kind of. Agreement. That if you’re working security, you don’t share or keep anything you see, and nobody reviews the recordings unless we have to.” Mac shrugs nervously. “I’m… pretty sure that Nat has had sex in every room of this building. Like, methodically.”

 

“I need to high five eir later. Can you remind me to high five eir later?”

 

“I can probably remember that. Nat is pretty much in a constant state of wanting to high-five you. We’re all big fans, honestly.”

 

Oh he’s glowing at that, and gives Mac a peck on the cheek like it’s a reward for being such a sweetheart. “That’s awesome. I mean, I wanna see y’all work ‘cause I know I’m gonna be your biggest fan, like this is so cool.”

 

“Well, we’re… all on the same team, now!” Mac looked delighted, then looked nervous, then looked at the floor. “Look are– are you just being weirdly friendly though, or– I dunno, like. I don’t want to be the creepy fan, but I also don’t– want to–“

 

Elliot frowned, nose wrinkling with it as well. “What do you mean? I mean, like, I’m friendly but what do you mean really friendly?”

 

“Oh come on dude,” Mac stuck both hands in his short, tousled, messy-spiked brown hair, “it’s got to be obvious I have a huge crush on you. Are you actually interested, or just– I dunno, naturally flirtatious?” He leaned against the wall, then, kind of unbelieving that he actually said it.

 

“Oh. Hrmm…” Elliot thinks a moment, kinda sad that he had to let go of Mac’s hand for the obvious frustration hair pull maneuver, but it was what it was. How did he even–”So, you seem like a nice guy, and you’re cute as all hell, so I would enjoy sharing physical space with you and like, getting to know you? I mean, I’m like, pretty poly and whatever, but not really seeing anyone currently and I totes feel like I’m testing in front of a jury and shit can I like, not and just kiss you again?”

 

Mac nodded slowly, and finally said: “Yeah okay that sounds like some kinda interest. I’ll take it.”

 

This time, Mac moved in for the kiss, wrapping his arms around Elliot’s shoulders and pressing their lips together with hungry enthusiasm.

 

Well, this seemed like a perfect opportunity to use that wall that was behind Mac to be a nice stabilizer– and push him up against it, responding with the same enthusiasm, though it was less hungry and more playful.  He was a bit handsy, too, because he’s always been a very tactile learner, he plays a bunch of instruments, no duh, and hey, Mac was right there and sure.

 

Mac must have been some kind of instrument, because he made some Really Nice Noises in response to Elliot’s attentions.

 

“Whoa, nice,” Adam said from the doorway. “Mac, you give killer tours.”

 

Elliot looks up like a deer in the headlights– he is REALLY good at that look– turning bright red like a stripe painted across his face. “Um, uh, I… Um…”

 

“He’s not actually being sarcastic,” Mac whispered, face also bright red.

 

“Let me know if I can give you a tour too,” Adam winked and closed the door, leaving the two alone again.

 

“That also wasn’t sarcastic,” Mac added, giggling a little.

 

Well. That seemed like a seal of approval, and really, Elliot had no intentions of– FUCK IT. Why not?