Feb 082016
 

“Sure,” you shrug as you answer your neighbours. “It’d be nice to have a guide, and I was headed out there anyways.” Meeting new people could be fun, but you’d rather do it on your own terms instead of being forced into it like some kind of circus animal being prodded with a stick. Besides, Whitney was okay. “Where are we going, though? My family and I grabbed groceries before I moved in.”

“Grabbin’ breakfast, for one.” Joe said simply. “Never start the day without it. I know a few places we can go, and on the way I can point out stuff like where you can grab groceries. Just because you’ve got food now doesn’t mean you won’t need more later, right?”

“If you could point out the nearest Timmies while you’re at it, that’d be great.” Whitney spoke up. “I literally can’t function without it.” You briefly consider pointing out that she seems to be functioning just fine without it right now, but you let the moment pass. You can tell from the look on Joe’s face that he’s thinking the exact same thing.

“Addict.” He scoffs jokingly, gesturing for the two of you to follow as he starts walking down the hall. Looking around, you can already see some students marking their rooms as their own and setting up plaques and whiteboards. Maybe you should get one yourself at some point. “Wait, what’s going on up there?”

The three of you round a corner and encounter an uncomfortable sight. A small group of police officers and campus security have set up shop at the end of the hall, cordoning off the furthest room and ensuring that nobody can get pass. A few of the students were nearby sparing glances towards the scene, but none of them seemed willing to actually let on that they were watching.

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Jan 282016
 

There was sliding, screaming laughter, and Aelita was riding it. Inside that artifice of joy, voices rose and fell through twisted time; the echo of words and worlds never been and yet to be. Wet, viscous pounding hammered behind each of her senses. Waves of filmy, clinging heat erupted through her pores as her sight was drawn inexorably towards a black, blistering marble that chirred with the ringing of liquid on crystal.

Then she was free-falling wildly through the clouds, an oily, slick dust pressing against her skin and burning her lungs. Scattered shafts of light broke through the smoky skies; an unearthly orange that rippled and fumed like a boiling cauldron. Beneath the cacophony that assaulted her senses, an industrial sprawl of spires spidered across the cracks in the land below. Tongues of flame licked up from its depths to scorch the skies.

Aelita was dreadfully lucid through it all.

This world – wherever it was – had something it wanted her to see.

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Jan 252016
 

“I’m in culinary arts.” You say, smiling all the while. “It’ll be nice to cut loose in my own kitchen for once. Back home everything was too crowded, I’d have to cater to people’s tastes and not experiment, or I’d get ‘backseat cooks’, so to speak.” You run a hand through your hair as you talk, trying to bring it back down to a manageable state. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m gonna miss it and with these little kitchens I’m not going to be able to make too much. But it’s definitely going to be a fun experience.”

A fun experience, it was how you viewed a lot of this, when you got down to it. Living on your own, being able to carve out a new identity, meeting new people, it was all very… nice. Maybe you could make something nice for the others in residence, or just whip up something to share with Whitney. After all, she wanted to be your friend, and it couldn’t be that bad of an idea, right? “Maybe… I could make you something sometime?” You offer, perhaps a little shyly.

Your worries were thankfully unfounded; Whitney immediately gave you an eager smile. “Sure! I’ve mostly just got instant noodles and minute rice right now, so some actual food would be amazing.” Whitney was nodding to herself now, as though confirming to herself that she had just been offered food with actual flavour in it. You can’t help but wonder how anyone could possibly survive off of nothing but microwaved starch and grain. It feels so… hollow and empty. You almost feel guilty at the thought, and you nearly consider the idea that you should mother hen this girl and make sure she’s eating well. Of course, that’s a silly idea. You’re quite sure that Whitney’s a big girl who can take care of herself… hopefully.

You start to ask Whitney what she’d even like to have when suddenly the door behind her cracks open. Your conversation didn’t wake up the other residents, did it? You inwardly cringe and get ready to offer an apology when a young man poked his head out of the doorway.

The first thing you notice about him is his hair. It’s a little long, and the first thing you think when you see it is that the boy must be one of those scene kids you always roll your eyes at. His shiny black hair was swept back save for a fringe down the front of his face, and the tips had been dyed an almost neon blue. He was definitely a pretty boy, and you couldn’t imagine that the body attached to his head had anything in the way of muscle or a physique. He looked about as tired as your reflection had been, but he didn’t seem irritable or angry about your little meet and greet outside his door. In fact, if anything he seemed curious and amused, as though something one of you had said struck him as something funny.

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Jan 222016
 

The observation lounge was peaceful. Where the rest of the ship could be noisy, hectic, even cramped, the lounge was the perfect place to relax. It had a certain serene quiet to it, punctuated only by the gentle, dreamy notes of the pipe-organ that occasionally played itself in the late hours of the evening. Its massive iron-wrought window was a portal to the endless skies.

Kneeling in flickering candlelight, Aelita looked on as thunder crashed through the heavens above. Though the storm had brought its full fury down upon this unraveling world, the young Jedi watched unblinking. The Force was with her. She knew it as intimately as she knew every groove, every word engraved in the prayer beads wrapped around her palm.

Elfin and graceful, Aelita was a vision in pink. Her stately comportment combined with her pale-rose skin and long, pointed ears to create an image of a being straight out of a book of fairytales. But beauty was only skin deep. Aelita prayed so that she might retain what people valued most; the warmth of a smile, the honesty of an open heart.

Aelita lifted the wooden talisman at the end of the chain – a gift from her old friend Dysis – and kissed it before offering her final words:

“I am a Jedi, an instrument of peace;

Where there is hatred I shall bring love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

I shall never seek so much to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in death that we are born to eternal life.

The Force will be with me, always.”

As the last notes of the organ’s tune wound down, Aelita gave her talisman one last squeeze and wrapped it back around her wrist. That prayer – her mother’s prayer – perfectly encapsulated the fact that service to the galaxy was also a service to the self, and she had long endured the slings and arrows of those who would call these words empty platitudes.        

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Jan 202016
 

When you were younger, your father had told you that if you weren’t willing to get up before the sun to do something, then you didn’t care about it enough. He still had less energy in the mornings than Whitney does now. That left you wondering why and how. You had the sneaking suspicion that anybody who claimed to like mornings was lying through their teeth. You yawn and lightly smack the side of your head in an effort to psyche yourself up. “What do you do to have this much energy in the morning?” You ask at the end of your yawn, the question coming out like an exhausted sigh.

“Oh… did I wake you up?” The change on Whitney’s face is almost instant; her smile wavered and she looked genuinely concerned for your well being. “I’m sorry, I can get overexcited sometimes.” You can’t help but shake the feeling that Whitney gets the cold shoulder for being a morning person a lot.

“No, it’s fine and all.” You try to reassure the girl, raising a hand in defence. “I’m just… not the kind of person that has that kind of drive this early in the morning, you know?” You shrug, a shadow of a grin crossing your face. “I mean, I wish I did, I’d probably get a lot more done with my life.” Another yawn interrupts your condolences. You can actually see Whitney starting to yawn back. Clearly your sinister plot to drain the sunny girl’s life force was well underway. “I’m Ashley, by the way. I’m new here too.”

“Oh good, it’s not just me.” Whitney breathed a sigh of relief. Did she really suspect that she was the only one living in residence that wasn’t a local? Having a more practical place to live than home was kind of the entire point of residence. “That means we can figure the place out together, right? It’ll be easier that way.” The thought occurs to you that it probably would’ve been easier for her to learn about the town if she had a more local student as a roommate that knew where everything was. You decide not to bring it up, the poor girl looks like she might work herself up into a lather over it.

That does leave you with having to move the conversation along somehow, though. Your mind calls back to something she had mentioned in her little introductory schtick. “Hopefully. You, ah… you mentioned you were in game development?” That had stuck out to you. Whitney seems like the kind of person who… would not be very good at something that required the patience and attention to detail that coding does. You knew more than a few kids when you were growing up that dreamed of making video games when they grew up. Every single one of them turned away from that dream when they realized the kind of intensive work that went into that. Continue reading »

Jan 142016
 

Noelle’s ship was not special, as starships went. In her previous life she was little more than a yacht, meant for playboys and politicians over pilots or pirates. She was Jedi Flagship not through any great power or bearing but because Noelle loved her and always had, ever since the Senator DeWytt first smashed champagne over her prow.

To Syra – who did not know, but instead knew ‘of’ such things – the Vivienne was a labyrinthian colossus; a cold, metal leviathan that dwarfed and eclipsed her entire existence. Even the entry hold seemed to stretch on like those too-familiar sands outside. It felt wrong, felt too big. There was a definition of shelter that Syra had cultivated until today, and it had not made room for comfort, luxury or space.

Up ahead, Noelle felt the redhead’s wandering gaze. It took in bulkheads and doorframes but not the flowers hung above them. It saw columns, but not the water that cascaded gently down their sides. A distant memory blossomed in the Grandmaster’s heart. Long ago, she had begun her own journey with fear instead of wonder. She slowed her pace and began to talk.

“She might not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts.” Noelle ran her hand lovingly across a column for emphasis. “My father had her commissioned when I was very young; after I inherited her, my master and I rebuilt her from the ground up.”

“I imagine that… You’ve upgraded the… Engines. Probably the… Shields.” Syra began. Heavy breathing punctuated each sentence; her speech was laborious and slow, done with much effort and significant care. Her breathing had only worsened since they’d boarded; Syra had spoken more today than she had in several years. The ventilator that covered her face hissed with each breath, echoing against the hull as it struggled to keep up.

“Thank you again… For agreeing to take me…” Syra continued, her eyes flashing with irritation as her ventilator forced a particularly large gulp of medicated oxygen into her lungs. Each breath seemed to make her more tense, more nervous. “I did not like to contemplate… Life alone… After they passed…”

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