Dancing with the Faeries

DANCING WITH THE FAERIES

 

THE FAERIE GLEN NIGHTCLUB

BOULDER, COLORADO

 

It’s Saturday Night and the Faerie Glen is busy, but not crowded. No special performances are planned for the evening, though go-go kids and oiled-up cuties of all genders and body types flit from table to table, serving drinks and food.

 

Nat is already here, flitting about more literally than the other employees; ey’s literally swooping through the air to give big hugs to regulars and employees ey hasn’t seen in a week.

Continue reading “Dancing with the Faeries”

A Stitch In Time: The Invitation

MONTREAL, CANADA

THE PRESTWICH ESTATE

 

Adam had always loved the smell of White Diamonds. Estelle wore the fragrance, even today, when she should have been focused on work. A woman was allowed a few indulgences, after all. She carefully, carefully, wrote a list of names in looping cursive. It was important to match the card that she had seen in her Vision, after all.

Continue reading “A Stitch In Time: The Invitation”

A Stitch In Time: Estelle

THE PRESTWICH MANOR

THE GUEST ROOM

 

“Come in, come in. Can I get you a drink?” Estelle swept the group into her guest room, a place of upholstered furniture and carefully organized china and a bar up against the wall, stocked with quality liqueur and expensive glasses of all sizes.

“That would be lovely, ma’am, thank you!” Nat said in a slightly pitched-up voice, beaming eir most winning smile. Continue reading “A Stitch In Time: Estelle”

A Stitch In Time: It’s All in the Execution

FOUR HOURS AGO

 

Lights Show had been thinking hard, and he jumped up with his hand in the air like a schoolboy proud of his answer. He flushed, cleared his throat, and started talking before someone could tease him about his opening.

 

“Let’s go to the field where he’ll be. Let’s bring a stripper pole. Nat will do eir thing, I’ll drop the beats… No one could resist a show like that.”

He punctuated his idea with finger guns and an “Ayyyyyy!”

Continue reading “A Stitch In Time: It’s All in the Execution”

A Stitch In Time: A Just Reward

Estelle sat in the largest, most comfortable chair in the guest room, hands pressed together and fingers steepled.

 

“You may have saved the world.” she finally pronounced, a queen on her throne. “Everyone, everyone, on Earth must thank you.”

“Oh goob. Dat’s fantastig.” Fi mumbled from behind a handkerchief. Apparently, kicking an angel into the back of its own mind had consequences, and in this case, those consequences were periodic nosebleeds. “but I meang. I lib on da wurlb?” Continue reading “A Stitch In Time: A Just Reward”

Stars and Oceans

The Flying Fortress was quiet in the night cycle. Summer found this quite odd. Had she grown too used to ships that bustled at all hours? Was this how normal people lived? A life of night and day that was not just on-shift and off-shift. She enjoyed the silence though, an opportunity to explore the public areas of the Fortress at her own pace. She came across a dark viewing room with wide windows and felt her breath catch at the play of moonlight upon the dark ocean.The deep, inky sheet of water danced about with the interbroken, mathematically fascinating line of lights, little diamonds tesselating into one another and glittering like little-

 

SCHKNNNNPFHOOOM-

 

Ah.

 

The surface of the water erupted in a rising plume of thousands of glittering, bright blue lights, the jewelry of the scattered sky. A tendril the length of a bus coiled around the midriff of a young man, shirtless but for glittering red outlines, patterns of ancient runes – whose hand held a massive axe, whose back was streaked with sheeting water. The moment was there, and gone, as he dove back down, a bellowing roar of menace, sending a shudder in the water.

 

The black, inky ocean shivered again.

 

The surface broke anew, as the young man flicked his hair back behind his head, the axe and monstrous form now missing.

 

Summer pressed her nose against the glass, quite forgetting that this was was not what princesses and generals did. Well. This was quite unusual. With one backwards glance, Summer lightly jogged towards the hangars, her long legs quickly eating ground underfoot. The Star Sear waited for her, silver and polished to a shine like a bird-like jewel. She stepped into the lush interior, a vehicle worthy of being an interstellar emperor’s war chariot, and it rose and glided out of the hanger at a quiet thought. Summer hung out of the open door way, loving the way the wind caught and lifted at her short hair. Her short cape whipped out behind her, silver as the rest of her outfit, a double breasted jacket and close fitting leggings. Her crown-like protective headpiece hovered over her head as always.

 

The Sear glided silently through the night sky, flying low until the waves could be scooped with just a little bend. With a thought, the Sear hovered near the young man that Summer had seen. She waved, what she hoped was a universal gesture of friendly intent on this planet.

 

“Hello? I saw you from the Fortress.” She had said better greetings. And she hoped her translator delivered the proper intent.

 

“WHAT HO, YOUNG LADY!” called the voice of Hamilton, also known as TIDEWARD, SCION OF THE SUNKEN CITY. That outdoor voice of his made a lot more sense when he was adrift in the middle of the sea, when the water was all around – that wonderful rolling sound of him, like he was hollering from boat to boat. He swam with an ease that wasn’t quite normal either – he simply treaded water effortlessly. Arms spread wide in the water, the shirtless boy waved one-handed. “The Fort-” he looked up.

 

“Oh!” a big grin. “I think I’ve been in one of those!” One of those? Does he think there’s more than one?

 

Summer laughed, hopping onto the wing and walking to the tip as the ship swung around to let her face the man in the water. “You have a good voice! It’s good for yelling across ships!” She did sail when she was a child in happier times. You’ve been on the Fortress? There’s only one I’m sure. Then again, I don’t know if they would tell me if there were more. Who do I have the pleasure of meeting?”

 

She sank to a knee, so as to talk to the swimming man face to face.

 

He looked up at the wing of the vessel – and with a gesture of his hand, seemed to ask if it was okay for him to haul himself out. It wasn’t something he waited for a lot of response – and then he swung his hand up and caught the edge of the wing, hoisting his entire body up out of the water, throwing himself up onto the surface and standing, before her – balancing on the tip of the wing.

 

The man – or boy? It was hard to say; he was young, certainly, but not that young – was a sight like that – sheeting off water, with sea-green hair, shirtless but for long black slacks that ended just above the ankle, he stretched wide and held out his hand, not to shake, but in a suboceanic gesture of sincerity – showing his palms were unoccupied. “What ho! Why, you have now met TIDEWARD, SCION OF THE SUNKEN CITY.” He wasn’t doing it particularly loudly – but there was sure a bigness to him. A big grin, a bright sincerity – “And this is your vessel?”

 

Just as there was an otherness to the young man, there was a similar aura to this young lady. The moonlight made her exact skin colour difficult to distinguish, but her glossy black hair and luminescent fuchsia eyes were all too obvious. She was young, but carried herself with unconscious grace.

 

“Be welcome to the Star Sear, Scion of the Sunken City. Yes, she is mine.” Summer smiled and replied in turn. “I am Glorious Summer, Princess of Chrysos from the Gi’ia’n Empire in the Stars. You are royalty?” It was necessary to know to whom you spoke to.

 

And that earned a bright, beaming smile – it was weird, he didn’t really stop smiling, he just renewed the impact of the effect. “Why, yes! I am a Prince of the City E’ya’doen, Whose Walls Yet Slumber.”

 

“Your highness.” There was a curtsy of appropriate depth and a responding smile. This felt familiar. Though far away and floating over an ocean, this almost felt like home. “I was not told that there were cities under the oceans. What marvels. Do you come to the surface often?”

 

A sort of awkward pause. “…Yes! I rather do.” he said, turning and gesturing downwards. “Affairs in my city are quiet,” they’re dead, “and the demands of my office reasonably untaxing,” because everyone down there is dead, “Which has given me freedom to come to the surface cities,” and away from the dead city full of dead and dreaming enormous monster things that have no name nor identity, “and do some good on this world, away from the borders of the Atlantean empire.” he turned again and gave her a smile. “But there are times when things of the ocean seek to attack the surface as a safe and defenseless sort of prey.”

 

“Ah, border disputes. I know of them well.” She caused a few of them herself. After all..They were still her borders even if she were exiled from them. Summer smiled instead. “Ahh, you must be adventuring before you take your father’s crown. I would ask about the lack of retinue about you, but it is in my experience that many cultures allow their princes a great deal more freedom than their princesses.” She turned her face upwards. “I come from the stars….in which direction, I cannot tell you. I am cast adrift with only my vessel. I hope to find my way home soon.”

 

Sure. Adventuring. “Well, I have the time to enjoy the duties of a prince, yes? Which are doing good, adventure, and…” he waved a hand. Honestly, he’d never been all that clear on what the prince’s duties were, and he’d studied.

 

“Ah, gifts from beyond the stars? Such our people seek,” he said, with a completely gormless, innocent smile. “And now, I suppose, in our days, we have found some!”

 

It could have been a flirt. It, much more likely, was an enormous doofus who didn’t really know how people romantacised language. But then again, how did someone who collected stars consider them?

 

“Gifts from the stars? Ah, you mean meteors? I prefer crystals from mountains instead. They do shine so.” Summer dropped to sit on the wing, her legs dangling off the side. She gestured to him to follow suit. “What gifts do you find under the seas? I really do not know much of this world. I have only been here for less than a month.” She tilted her head up, studying the large young man. He was much too different from the humans who lived on the surface of the world. That was very interesting.

 

He turned, and spread his arms wide, gesturing out at the symmetry of the ocean and sky; both festooned with lights, one reflecting the moon, cut into a thousand diamonds by its turbulent surface, the other cut into spaces of territory and control, of domain and command, that she could look upon and feel mighty. On his back, faint lines by his spine suggested some slightly different biology – perhaps that was how he breathed underwater? – while he spoke.

 

“It was said, generations ago, that the people of the city whose walls yet slumber would meet their king, their ruler, the one who would own them in awe and terror, as a figure who fell down to them from above, from beyond the stars, who would not look like them, nor would he speak as they; that he would rule them and be their king, and so doing would they feel whole.” he lowered his hands. “My grandfather.” Then he shrugged.

 

A far, far wiser person than Hamilton might be able to piece together some of what he knew.

 

But alas – it was all just flowery language, no? “Under the sea, we have coral, nacre, pearls and other things that life crafts. Occasional shafts of luminous stone – but for the most part, we craft things for one another in form of song and story.” he smiled again, walking slightly along the wing, lowering his arms. “So you are out here of a late night, bored, as the idle royals are wont?”

 

A long time ago, someone wise told Summer that all stories had the edge of a truth. Not too long ago, she told someone on Earth that all stories had thread that rang of that truth, that only waited for someone who destined to tease out that strand. Now, Summer of the Gi’ia’n Empire tilted her head up and thought that she heard something that spoke true, something that needed only time to pick out the thread of true fact.

 

“Coral, nacre, pearls,” Summer breathed. “Crystals, diamonds, emeralds. Gold, silver.” She leaned back against, head cushioned by her hands. “Palaces and cities. What is wealth and power without people to lead.

 

Then she laughed. “Bored? I do hope that I am not so transparent. It reflects badly upon my hosts. I keep different hours, I am afraid. I am awake for much longer than my hosts. Perhaps I should visit their clubs of night.” She paused, frowning at her parsing. “Nightclubs. That is the term. But I feel odd about visiting such places without my relatives. And you? Are the seas much different by night as by day?”

 

Hamilton was only slightly less worldly than she was, which is why he didn’t react to the idea of visiting nightclubs with your family. But then, he didn’t know what they were for.

 

“I rest when I am in need, I am otherwise awake,” he shrugged. “And some nights, there is great and wondrous singing, awful and terrible in the depths, so I travel to listen.” he smiled again, “Where the coloured flames dance beneath the waves around runic shapes that have no words. You speak of comrades – the others of the fortress, such as Oathkeeper?”

 

That was the only name he had. He knew Naut by sight, and Arf by smell, but he wouldn’t be able to name them.

 

“Oathkeeper…I’ve only seen her once. But no, I speak of others. Nat, who dances, Fiona who is shy. There is Travis who is….” She paused. “Strange? Even stranger than normal. He is friends with small furry animals?” Summer held out her hands, around rodent sized. “There are many more..all are very kind, I must say. And then there is Hans, who is more than kind.” Summer smiles at that last name for long moment before looking at the undersea prince. “Do you have a phone? A means of reaching their communication systems? There’s a network that you can reach out to to communicate with others. It is very useful.” She sighs. “I have made many mistakes here.”

 

Lifting herself to her elbow, she raised a brow. “And you? Have you made many mistakes on the surface?”

 

He blinked.

 

Twenty Hive victims, remembering a voice that echoed from the depths, the voice of the hive driven out from their head but a strangely haunting shadow replacing it; the smashed supports of a large research facility through which he’d been thrown; a machine that could think, accidentally smashed.

 

“Not so much as I see myself -” he hesitated. “It is mostly a matter of not being familiar with how things are done, you understand?” He smiled anew. “And yes! I have a phone! Aren’t they interesting devices? Mine seems to crush candy.”

 

“Yes, that sentiment I am familiar with.” The tone was much too wry. There were too, too many times when she and her crew had to run away from natives angered over some or another slight. Sometimes, if she were lucky, she wouldn’t even be covered in unnameable goo.

 

“Crush candy? That is not an application I am familiar with. Ah here, this is the Twitter. And this is the list that is maintained by the Legion for hmmm…approved users.” Summer paused. “I rather like the game of the signs that are elder. It is about dice, I think.”

 

Unnameable goo featured in his life too, of course. But in a different way.

 

“That sounds beyond me, but then, the games we play are…” he waved a hand. They are about practicing dying. “A little different. And I have not played them in much time. Honestly, I have been working at the creation of or acquisition of a space for myself on the surface, so as to immerse – ha ha! – myself in the culture.”

 

Summer was looking through her phone as a demonstration. Normally she accessed the Twitter and the communications through her ship. “Oh, this is Naut. I have heard that she enjoys the pizza a great deal. Ah, yes, cultural immersion.” Summer presses her hands together then let them spread apart. These are the things and these are how they are, the gesture said. “I take it that you have not aligned yourself with the Legion? I believe that house and board is provided for on the Fortress. I tend to live on my vessel myself.”

 

“I…” a slightly embarassed look.

 

“… Everyone talks about these things as if I’m meant to know what they are? And then when I ask, they tell me what they can do for me. Rather than just… um.” he shrugged a little helplessly. “What is the Legion? Are there a thousand of them?”

 

,Summer sat up. “Ah! I apologise. I assumed that you had known since you spoke of Oathkeeper. Hmm….I do not know if there are a thousand of them. I think it’s a name they call themselves as a symbol of unity. I believe that they are…the governors of Earth. Hmm. Of Surface Earth. Or at least that they organise the protection of Surface Earth. They do seem to think themselves an army at the very least…They are lead by three Legion Generals. One of whom is my friend, Hans, and the other is Oathkeeper, herself. I have not met the third.” Summer kicks her legs in thought. “I really need to learn more about how Earth works. A monarchy is so much simpler,” she sighs. “I’m not sure that I’m explaining this all very well.”

 

He stepped off the wing – into the water, and just slithered into it. There was almost no ripple, no fear in how he moved into the ocean. “How strange; an army that is also the leadership? That seems… unuseful.” he turned, resting his arms behind his head – and floated in the water, laying on the surface of the ocean, almost.

 

“And it is alright; you are not obligated to explain things to me. After all, we have but first met!”

 

“Yes, it is very much…less army of conquest and more army of guardianship.” But explain guardianship against what in particular, Summer could not say. “And I am glad to have met you, Prince of the Sunken City.” She certainly was. It was good to meet someone who did not think that royal rank was an oddity.

 

And he gave her that smile again. “Why, I am glad to meet you too. There are after all, not many people in my city left to meet.” Oh, he must have already met everyone, being a small city, and an important ruler.

 

“And that is why many travel, to discover new perspectives, to see sights that have not yet been seen in your home.” Summer smiled a smile that was meant to be encouraging. “I do miss home.” Did she think about her murdered family? Daily. “But you always run the risk of the home you return to will be different than the home that you left.”

 

“Ah, there is a term…” he waved a hand, and spoke a language that didn’t sound right in the air. When he spoke the word, it put another word behind her eyes – loss – but that isn’t what it sounded like. “we use. It refers… it translates more into a phrase? ‘The current you step into is a current lost forever.’ How by existing, we destroy possibilities, and must therefore not concern ourselves with the things we cannot have.” What a bleak way to rephrase no-one steps into the same river twice.

 

Her headpiece hummed with that word. It struggled to contain it, to fix meaning to it, but it appeared behind her eyes regardless. She thought it was interesting, and filed it away for another day. Instead, Summer heaved a sigh. “Yes. I do know what you mean. There are time when I could visit a place everyday for a week, and everyday would be the same routine…but for the last. And you would come across a change that would affect your universe so much…And nothing would ever be the same. I do wish you find a way out of your loss, Prince Tideward.”

 

((Good time to wrap it up?))((yep! and oh man, Summmer did poke at his wounds a bit XD)) ((Not really! I mean, he’s kind of well armoured, because he doesn’t have a faintest fucking clue he should be distressed about this stuff))

Summer Sweatin’

PHALANX FITNESS CENTER
DREAMLIGHT, LUNA

 

The Fitness Center in Dreamlight never closed, and it was never empty. Today, it was close, but several troops went through methodical, repeat motions in frictional exercise machines. One trooper stood out; a muscular, tall, broad-shouldered woman in her mid-twenties with a colorful soft mohawk and an even more colorful warmup outfit. She was in a clear cylindrical tube, bounding off the walls in a rainbow-hued streak.

 

Another figure that stood out was the pink alien lady in the silver uniform. She’d taken off her jacket and cape. Cape? And what looked like a sword and buckler belt and and laying it at a practice dummy barehanded. And in thigh high boots.

 

Aliens ammirite?

 

Meanwhile, across the room, walking out of the bathroom was a shirtless figure that appeared to be made completely out of obsidian filled with stardust. Also baggy grey workout shorts. He placed his hands on his hips and examined the entirety of the workout room with a curved featureless head, aside from the galaxy floating within. His hips made some cracking noises as he stretched them, and his arms popped multiple times as he stretched those too. It had been literally years since he had worked out. “Ok Summer you got me here, now what?” He asked as he approached her.

 

Summer finished her set with a spin kick that would have made someone’s day worse and jogged on over. She gave the obsidian man a critical look. “Let’s start with some stretches. Let me see how well you can touch your toes.”

 

“Ok. Right.” He pointed two hand downward. Then leaned with his back until there was an audible crack. “Ahhhhh jeeez that hurt then felt good.” He said, voice strained as he reached further. His fingertips were only able to get down to his ankles.

 

It gradually became apparent that they had an audience. The jacked woman in the clear plastic tube had ceased her focused bounding, and was staring, fascinated, at the two aliens(?). People. Interesting looking… bipeds.

 

“That’s good, better than I expected!” Summer clapped her hands, then she waved at the woman in the tube. She returned the wave immediately, beaming. Summer turned back to Shane. “Let’s go through a few more stretches then we’ll go on the running machine things.”

 

The colorful woman resumed her exercise, though she kept glancing over to the cool looking people across the room in the process.

 

Shane glanced back a few times, though it was hard to tell because well, he had no eyes. “Alright alright more stretches more stretches.” He sat on the floor and attempted to get his foot behind his head and was surprisingly quite successful at doing so, though it was preceded by a series of sharp popping noises until it came into rest. “Oooooooh there’s the spot….” Apparently he had a lot of practice doing this one before.

 

“That is good! You’ve done -” and here her translator split into three voices as opposed to the normal two. One, the word she used, xi’latie’s. Two, an extended explanation of the term. Three, a simple Earth term, yoga. Summer paused, looking annoyed as she tapped what appeared to be an ornate hairclip. “I’m sorry, it’s still adjusting. What was that word you know? Yo-ga? You’ve done such stretch and breathing exercises before?”

 

The slamming noises from the plastic tube resumed. The woman was once again sending herself in a controlled ricochet from one end of the tube to the other, turning in midair so her sneakered feet always hit a different place on the wall. She was very fast for a human, though she certainly didn’t seem to be faster than baseline.

 

“Oh yeah I have liked weirding people out with stuff like this since I was a kid.” Shane chuckled as he slowly pulled his foot back down, making noises that could only be described as wincing. “Though it hurts a lot more to do it now days. Yeouch.” He slowly brought himself back up to his feet with a groan. “Hey. We should try those grav tube exercises. Looks fun.”

 

Summer nodded. “They certainly look like they’ll give you a full body workout. I’ve not tried these yet. There’s a few empty ones…yes, there are.” She led the way to them.

 

The woman finished a circuit and then braced herself at the end of the tube, sweaty limbs splayed and watching the other two. “Tastemaker!” She told herself with a toothy grin.

 

Shane walks up to it, tapping it on the glass. “Hmmmm. I really should know how to work one of these.” He flicks a few switches on the side. “Ah. There we go.” He puts it up to high weight gravity, stepping inside with thunks so loud one would assume he is made out of solid iron. “Well I’ll be damned, the techs they had working on this did a great job.” He slowly fought against it, feeling the weight on his body. “Feels just like when I jump in the Map.”

 

Summer looked at the setting Shane set it as and her jaw dropped in protest. “But….” Then stared. “Ah, I see. But perhaps you should start at a lower setting. You have not worked out in a long time and your muscles will protest tomorrow.” Somethings were basically universal.

 

“No way I need to feel the burn!” Shane replied as he forces his arms up in the air defiantly. Perhaps some of Dr. Lydes serotonin experiments had longer lasting side effects than intended. “Why don’t you give it a try?”

 

Summer gives an indelicate and unladylike snort. “Oh no. You can’t fool me like that.” She crossed her arms, looking amused. “Why don’t you try a few…” she paused, looking for a word. “Squats? Yes, squats.”

 

“Fine fine sure.” He took a wide stance, his body crackling under the weight as he went into his first squat. Man baggy pants looked weird under high gravity. Shane appeared to be stuck in his squatting position, making straining sounds as he tried to come back up. He did  not ask for help.

 

Summer gave it anyway, adjusting the gravity settings to something more comfortable while still being a challenge. “You need to start small before you can do big things,” she said gently.

 

“I totally had that Summer.” Shane assured, though it was in a joking way. “I just don’t get out much. Probably won’t have much time to build up enough small to do big anyways.” He sighs, pulling his elbow in yet another stretch.

 

The tube in which the colorful lady had been exercising was no longer visible from their current vantage point. After a few minutes, purely coincidentally, she left the grav tube and walked over to a tension pull machine across from them. She set the weights– high, for her size, but certainly very human– and clambered into the machine.

 

“You don’t have time to hurt yourself by starting big. And perhaps you can schedule breaks into your shift?”

 

“No can do, I need to be at my post as often as possible. I am instrumental to the expansion of earth settlements in this system and keeping an eye out on other civilized planets. Not to mention every hour I have off I spend in the labs working on Wheird and Catalysium physics.” He looks up dreamily. “I could be in the labs right now.”

 

“So do exercises at your post!” The woman in the tension machine blurted in an enthusiastic and husky alto. In the silence that followed, she realized that she had committed a gaffe, and hurriedly added something to save face. “….nerd!”

 

Shane looked over at Buster. He stared. He stormed right up to her. “Do you even know who I am?” He leaned his head in close to hers. She reared back a little. She probably wasn’t supposed to punch him, so rearing back seemed good. “I’m the biggest fucking nerd.” And then he leaned back. “Thanks for the advise. Sorry if that was a bit weird. Let someone mess with my brain a bit earlier.” He scratched the back of his head a little more, turning to look at Summer. He shrugged.

 

Summer shrugged back, bemused. “That is very good advice. There are a great deal of exercises that you can perform at your station.” She wandered on over.

 

“It weirds me out that more people up here aren’t weird! We on the moon, people! You’re all right. Are you two from offworld or what?”

 

“I am,” she nodded. “I am Summer of the Gi’ia’n Star Empire.” Her tone was friendly to match her smile.

 

“I have no idea what that is!” Buster said cheerfully. “I’m Buster! I drive the Cestus.”

 

“Human born and raised here.” “Huh.” “Oh!” Shane said calmly, readjusting himself as the strange serotonin surge died down. “Shane, or Astral. Nice to meet you. The Cestus huh? That’s a good one. I worked on the Ether Chalk and Phase Cascades designed for that. It’s treating you well?” A lab coat materialized out of cosmic dust around him as he said this.

 

“Oh for real? Fuck yes! I love my baby. Run drills every other day, and we’ve been on a dozen-ish sorties. Best tank I’ve driven yet.”

 

“Fantastic. I will be sure to let the techs know their driver is satisfied.” Shane nodded, sounding pretty pleased himself. “Summer is from another solar system, more advanced than us.” He clarified with a motion of his hand. “It’s very impressive.”

 

“Hell yeah! I’m mad impressed! I’m also impressed that you’re human-born but obviously way fuckin cooler than most humans!”

 

“Heh, thank you. I personally agree with you but….you do have to be a bit careful who you say that around.” He said it a bit softly. “There are others who have a similar condition and it isn’t exactly something that happens by choice. They get treatments and can remain, for the most part human but…yeah. Some folks get rather touchy about it.”

 

“Right. Sure. Cool. I’m still kinda learning this uh offworld diplomacy thing. I was real sheltered before I joined Phalanx to be honest.”

 

Shane did a small wave in dismissal “Oh it’s fine, don’t worry about it too much, I think we are good here. But, ah, yeah. The Cestus? One of it’s main functions is to keep anyone who doesn’t want to become this-” He gestures to his body “From becoming it once they enter the Cat zone on the other side of the moon.”

 

“Ohhhh. Yeah. I’d be four kinds of dead and even more kinds of messed up without it by now.”

 

Shane nods. “Yeah I was one of the lucky ones. Was a really messy business when all that went down. Anyways….how are you enjoying the moon so far? I know it’s not exactly the ideal place to live but….we are trying.” He kind of sounded like one of those door to door surveyors.

 

Shrug. “I don’t have much of a basis of comparison. I applied for my Phalanx scholarship the day after I moved out of my parents’ place, so it’s been, uh. Dorms dorms dorms.”

 

“Yeah I can’t really say much either. I basically like in my lab. And the observatory.” He sighed. “Nice to hear that the scholarship is bringing in smart talent though. Not anyone can handle machinery like the Cestus. That was a good decision.” He looked around. “Our gyms beat the shit out of earth ones though am I right?”

 

Buster beamed at the praise. “Hey, thanks, that’s right nice of ya. Not for nothing, neither. I’ve got the highest recorded scores on the CLAMORs since they were implemented. And yeah! This gym is the best I’ve ever worked out in. I spend more time in here than I spend video calling my bro.”

 

Summer had stepped to the side, taking a call. “I’m sorry,” she said to Shane. “I’m being called away. I do hope this has helped you.” She nodded at Buster. “It’s been good meeting you.” She gathered her things and left in a hurry.

 

“Bye cool name lady!”

 

“Find a job you love and you won’t work a day right?” Shane said in response to Buster’s fantastic test scores. “Bye Summer, keep looking for that masseuse for me will you?” He chuckled after her as she left. “Ah, so a brother on the surface then?”

 

“Yeh. Benny, my identical twin. Kinda shy, but he’s a mensch. Miss ‘im. Tried to convince him to join up too, but couldn’t convince him. He works some shit job and lives in a matchbox under Rock City.” She pauses for a moment, then frowns. “I worry about ‘im.”

 

Shane placed a hand on his chin, thinking for a bit. Hell. He was in a good mood. Why not. “Would you like to check up on him?” He asked with some curious mischief in his voice.

 

“I check up on ‘im like four times a week,” Buster replied, audibly confused. She wasn’t connecting the dots.

 

“Right. He is working right now though right?”Shane said patiently. “I think it’s normal business hours down there at the moment.”

 

“Uhm… yeah I guess he does have a shift right now. He’s a barista, so his hours are kinda weird, but he keeps me up to date on his schedule week to week.”

 

“Now what if I told you we could send a hologram of you down there right now into his shop and have a conversation with him?”

 

“Yooooooooo,” Buster whispered.

 

“Want to give it a shot?” Shane asked, pretty amused at the moment.

 

“Yeah let’s do it,” she squeaked, “he is gonna fliiiip.”

 

“Awesome.” Shane says, the hype real. He sets a hand on Busters shoulder, and slowly the Gym and Luna fade out. They are floating in space, but it doesn’t feel like space. Just looks that way, and the earth’s massive orb is resting in front of them. “Now don’t worry too much, this is just how my power works. It’s a bit weird at first, but if at any point you feel uncomfortable all you need to do is take a step back and I will let go.” And it was true, he had no real grip on her shoulder. “Rock City right?”

 

“Yeah. Route 1, exit 13, transit level, at the Bean Sidhe coffee shop.” Buster bounced on the balls of her feet, excited.

 

“Alright, hold on to your lunch.” Shane said, raising an outstretched hand to the earth , slowly pulling it to the side, causing it to rotate until they were looking directly at Rock city. He strained his obsidian muscle and squeezed his hand into a fist and the sky split before them as they rocketed down, down, down till they floated in the skies above Rock City. Buster whooped in delight.Route 1, exit 13” Shane said ponderously as he moved the earth beneath him, or rather, moved their own position rather quickly. Soon they found themselves right above the Bean Sidhe, slowly floating down to the ground. “This the place?” Shane asked with a bit of pride in his work. He very rarely projected towards the earth, and honestly his memory of it’s landscape was quite weak.

 

Buster looked down at the pavement, and up at the girders and the ceiling of Rock City’s transit level, then over at the populated parking lot and the rush of cars on the other side of the lanes. Every surface was painted a harsh yellow from the rest stop’s sodium lighting.

 

“Yup, this is the shithole.”

 

Shane chortled. “Ha, I dunno. It’s kind of quaint. Cute little shop.” He shrugged, taking his hand off Busters shoulder. “We’re invisible right now…we should wait till we get inside. Really spook him.” His voice was all mischief as he began walking up to the Bean Sidhe’s door, phasing right through it.

 

Buster scampered past him and ahead, then pointed at a dishwater-blond boy behind the counter. “That’s Benny,” she tittered. The resemblance was obvious the moment he lifted his head; other than Buster’s slightly fuller lips and softer face shape, the two were identical right down to the freckles. They probably had the same hair color when Buster’s wasn’t dyed in the colors of the trans flag. Their bodies couldn’t have been more different, though; Benny lacked Buster’s breasts, hips, and musculature. He had broad shoulders too, but little muscle to speak of and a fair bit of pudge in its place.

 

At the moment, he was the only barista on the floor. The shop was nearly empty, save for two customers sitting in corner seats.

 

Shane walked behind the counter. “So this is Benny! He seems to be doing alright for himself.” He then looked right back up at Buster. “How should we scare the shit out of him?”

 

Buster squinted, then grinned. “See how mechanical his motions are right now?” She whispered, even though Benny couldn’t hear her. “He’s using his time dilation powers right now to make a boring task less boring. That means he’s slow to react and spacey. Perfect time to imitate one of his supervisors.”

 

She scampered through the counter, taking a position just behind Benny and to his right. She gave an exaggerated ‘okay’ symbol and a wink to Shane.

 

Shane returned it with a thumbs up and Buster slowly began to fade into existence, only slightly retaining a wispy see through quality. She could see it herself when looking down at her hands. Shane then gave her an okay symbol back, letting her know she was all ready!

 

“SCHUSTER!” Buster bellowed, her voice suddenly a perfect natural baritone. “Whaaaaaat did you dooooooo!!!”

 

Benny startled so hard that a spray of coffee grounds flew upward into his face. “What! I didn’t– what– WHAT??” His confusion only deepened as he turned to see his spectral sister, laughing too hard to speak.

 

Shane appeared behind him. “I was supposed to reap her soul, but your sister decided she would rather haunt you for eternity instead.” His voice was deadpan and flat.

 

“Oh my god what? What??” Benny’s eyes were wild, and he reared back at the sight of Shane.

 

“Say what again, motherfucker!” Buster quoted, imitating Samuel L. Jackson’s voice nigh-perfectly.

 

“Wh–“

 

Shane was cracking the fuck up at that. “Don’t say it man she will go poltergeist on your ass.”

 

“Bennyyyyyy. I didn’t aaaaaalmost die this time,” Buster said in a spooky ghost voice. “I died for reeeeeaaaallll!!”

 

“You’re such a fucking asshole,” Benny scowled at her, “and I don’t know why PHALANX lets you use expensive equipment.” There was no venom in the assertion; he was just cranky about being pranked so hard.

 

“You should have seen your face, dude,” Buster said, and twisted hers into an imitation of it.

 

“Are you gonna introduce me to your friend the grim reaper, or what,” Benny brushed coffee grounds off the front of his apron.

 

“Oh yeah. This is Shane. Shane, Benny.”

 

“Hi there.” Shane gave a small wave. “I do holograms and projections along with a bunch of other stuff up on the moon.” He was still shaking the laughs out of his voice. “And yeah, your face was pretty sweet.”

 

“Yeah, leave it to Buster to make a friend with a cool power and then use it to punk me right away,” Benny made a face. “Well uh. Nice to meet you, and welcome to the Bean Sidhe. So to speak.”

 

“To be fair, it might’ve been my idea.” Shane says, only a little apologetically. “Don’t get to do this stuff very often, so I saw my opportunity and took it.” He chuckled a little bit. “Nice place you have here.”

 

“Oh,” Benny replied, looking around, “is it?”

 

“No,” Buster replied.

 

“That’s what I thought. But it’s a living, right?”

 

“No,” Buster replied.

 

Benny glared the glare of someone who agreed but was mad about it.

 

“You want to work for Phalanx?” Shane said, giving Buster a look that said…well. Something. No face. Was kind of hard to tell.

 

“I kind of don’t, to be honest,” Benny shrugged apologetically, “I was still living with Buster when she went through basic, and that nonsense is brutal. Also it’s way dangerous. I’m not thrilled that she’s doing something so risky.”

 

“Oh. Well like. I meant you could be a space barista. But yeah it’s hard to make drinks at zero G too. Super dangerous. Could burn yourself.” Shane nodded in understanding. “But your sis is going to be fine. She drives the Cestus. That’s like….well. It’s as close as we can get to making one person into a full sized tank. It’s pretty dang cool.” He turned to Buster “You’ve shown him the Cestus right?”

 

“She’s described it,” Benny said, “in lurid detail.”

 

“Nathanyul Craaaawss,” Buster elaborated via whining, “says that I’m not supposed to distribute images of it because it’s claaaaaaassified.”

 

“Oh yeah that guy’s a dick.” Shane nods. “Well when it’s unclassified you should drive it over for Benny to see. It is a MARVEL of modern technology.” Shane was hyping it up big time.

 

Benny smiled knowingly. “You worked on it, huh.”

 

“Well, yeah. A bit. Valkyrie also helped. It is SO cool.”

 

“Gotcha,” Benny said. “Well, I really oughta get back to work. Nice to meet you, Shane.”

 

“Talk to you tonight?” Buster shot twin finger guns at her brother.

 

“Sure, buh.”

 

“Nice to meet you too!” And with that, they were suddenly and immediately back in the gym, Shanes hand still on Busters shoulder. “So that was pretty cool right?”

 

“That was so cool,” Buster clenched both fists and bobbed up and down. “Thank you so much! I haven’t been in that awful coffee shop in almost a year!”

 

Shane grinned. “Glad I could help. Now i’ve only got about 15 minutes before my next shift starts….” He checked a watch weirdly attached over the sleeve of his lab coat. “Need a spotter?” ((Tag/endscene? Gonna have to shower n then go to work soon))((sounds good! Thanks! 🙂 ))((I had a lot of fun! Thank you too!))