aldersprig: (lock and key)
[personal profile] aldersprig
First: Slaves, School
Previous: Space and Time

They didn’t get to meet the ninth member of their dorm until the next morning.

That first night, they spent a little time talking, getting to know Doria, Poiy, and Lufet and sharing more stories of the stairs, but they were all exhausted and they had an unknown but presumably early bell to answer to coming probably far too soon.

Des’ last thoughts as he drifted off for the night were that the bed was surprisingly comfortable, the pajamas ridiculous, and the ceiling far too close.

The bell came early, but not as awfully early as he’d expected - there was already a splash of light through the window. In the winter, that would make the bell unpleasantly early, but right not Des could see enough to climb out of bed without kicking either Talia or Doria.

He dressed quietly, listening to the grumbles and rumbles of his dorm-mates without really hearing anything. The buttons on his shirt seemed to give him trouble, but he managed on the third try without anyone else seeming to notice his issues.

He left his tie messy, as many other members seemed to, and slicked back his hair in the bathroom. He looked - he spent a minute he should’ve been spending on getting to breakfast looking at himself - he looked like someone different, in the clean and fitted clothes, the white and beige and blue. He looked rich - except the collar.

::I beg your pardon. I look rich, too.::

Desmond touched the collar with two fingers. “Rich people don’t wear collars,” he muttered. “People who wear collars aren’t rich.”

::That is an interesting belief; however, it has little to nothing to do with reality. Now. Breakfast.::

“I’m going, I’m going. Why are you in such a hurry?”

::Because there will be magic today, and if you have not eaten, you can not perform magic properly. Go. Go.::

“Going, going.” He managed to catch up with the tail end of his dorm-mates halfway to the dining hall - Doria, Talia, Jefshan, and the younger “new” student.

“This is Cataleb,” Jefshan introduced the short, childlike ninth Blue. “Cataleb did the stairs yesterday and then, as soon as a bed was provided, fell down on it.”

Cataleb nodded solemnly. “It was a lot of stairs.” The voice, too, was childlike. “And I wasn’t hungry for nothin’ after all of the stairs, so I just… slept.”

“I can’t say I blame you.” Desmond wanted to ask how old this newest member of their group was, but it would be rude to imply Cataleb wasn’t capable of being there. “My collar’s been yelling at me to get to breakfast. I’m surprised yours didn’t yell at you to get to dinner.”

Cataleb held up one of the collar-suppressors with a wicked grin before dropping it back in a pocket of their kilt. “Lifted this one. Comes in mighty handy when the thing is too talky.”

“That’s…” Des trailed off. He remembered what his collar had said about how it felt, and he didn’t know what he should say.

“…Amazing,” Jefshan filled in. “How did you get it?”

“I’m pretty good with my fingers. And now my collar’s all quiet and not bothering me at all. Nifty, isn’t it?”

“Your collar didn’t complain?” Des offered cautiously.

“Well, yeah, a bit, but I’ve still got the thing. ‘Sides, it’s not like it’s a person. Just a talkative piece of metal. So, what’d I miss in dinner?”

“Food.” Talia looked almost as unhappy as Des felt. “And some talk about where we were and what we were doing.”

“Gonna dig ditches magically and all that, right? Glare at people and make them tell the truth in court, that sort of thing? Go off on boats and pray they don’t get lost like they always do?” Cataleb’s head-shake made golden curls go every which way. “Forget that. I’m out of here as soon as I find a door, collar or no.”

“Do you really think that’s a possibility?” Des was curious, more than interested for himself. “And - really, why? Good food, good sleeping arrangements, education - what do you have to go back to that’s better than that?”

“Not having a thing talking in my head all the time, for one. You tell me that’s what you like? Someone always talking?”

“I’m the middle child of three,” Des answered without thinking. “Someone’s always talking either way. And I like - well, everything here so far, almost.”

“Including that death trap? Those stairs? Seriously, a body could’ve died on those stairs and who would’ve known except their screamin’ collar? No thank you. This place wants to kill me and I want to keep my skin on my body, thank you - shut up! Shut up or I’ll shut you up!” Cataleb fell quiet, glaring off into the air.

Des shared a look with Jefshan, who seemed to have become the unofficial dorm parent for their group. Jefshan’s shoulders twitched in a shrug that Cataleb could either miss or pretend to miss: Don’t ask me.

Des sighed. “What do you think breakfast will be like?” he asked Doria, just to be talking about something else.

“No idea!” Doria looked far too cheerful about the lack of knowledge. “But I bet it’s going to be food. Probably edible food, maybe even tasty.” A tug at the waistband of the uniform kilt showed that Doria’s, too, had been fitted. “I hope our collars are good at letting skirts out the way mine made it all go in, ‘cause I’m going to need a new kilt in a week otherwise.”

“Unless,” Talia pointed out, “they keep us running up and down stairs - really?” Talia’s nose wrinkled. “Magic uses energy. Some of it’s from the collar, but some is from us. Maybe as much as running up and down stairs all day. No getting fat from us.”

“Where do the collars get energy? Mine said something about that the other - that was yesterday.” Yesterday seemed a long time ago.

“They can starve?” Cataleb perked up.

Desmond shot a disgusted look at the newest member of their dorm and moved into the lunch room.

::I don’t like that one:: his collar murmured in his ear. Desmond was pretty sure it went without saying that he felt the same.


Want More?

Date: 2017-04-03 01:39 am (UTC)
inventrix: (Default)
From: [personal profile] inventrix
....eurgh. Cataleb is either going to be an unpleasant ending or a Eustace.

Date: 2017-04-03 02:53 am (UTC)
sauergeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sauergeek
That's still one of the very best openings to a book I've ever read.

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it."

Date: 2017-04-03 03:49 am (UTC)
inventrix: (Default)
From: [personal profile] inventrix
Yessss. It's one of my favorite books, too.

Date: 2017-04-03 01:46 am (UTC)
lemon_badgeress: basket of lemons, with one cut lemon being decorative (Default)
From: [personal profile] lemon_badgeress
Looks like there's a lost remnant at the end, or the first part of it got et?

Maybe Cataleb can fall down those stairs. UGH.

Date: 2017-04-03 04:15 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

::I don’t like that one:: his collar murmured in his ear. Desmond was pretty sure it went without saying that he felt the same.
people that young.”

(See what I did there?)

• but right not Des could see
→ now
Edited Date: 2017-04-03 04:15 am (UTC)

what I did there, if anyone cares

Date: 2017-04-04 02:52 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Q&A from Reddit, slightly edited:

I'm currently reading Larry Niven's "Ringworld", and I'm on page 121 (chapter 9 - Shadow Squares). About halfway through the page, there is a large break that says "DISCONTINUITY." I was wondering: was this something that was added to later editions due to the fact that it conflicted with later work, or is it something that's always been in this particular book and will/may come into play later? If it's the former; what was altered?

This has always been like that. Niven's universe has stasis fields that stop time from passing while they are active. So if your ship gets blasted, the stasis field turns on, and turns off when things are safe. Of course, by that time you may have passed through a sun or crashed into a planet or gone into orbit for 3 billion years until your ship accretes an asteroid around it.
This causes a discontinuity to the people who see the ship go from outside Ringworld to crashed on the surface in between heartbeats.

Date: 2017-04-03 06:00 am (UTC)
inventrix: (Default)
From: [personal profile] inventrix
I'm pretty sure she just accidentally copied the last couple words from the prior update when copy pasting the tip buttons at the bottom.

Date: 2017-04-03 03:03 am (UTC)
sauergeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sauergeek
I can only imagine that a collar subjected to a collar suppressor is going to be cranky afterward.

Seconding both [personal profile] inventrix and [personal profile] lemon_badgeress, I gotta say that Cataleb is coming across as someone who will soon be subject to a blanket party or possibly flat-out rebellion by his collar.

Even so, I wonder why he was chosen for the collar.

Date: 2017-04-03 04:04 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
I also wonder just why Cataleb was chosen for the collar, as I got the general sense that the truly unwilling didn't get the nod, as it were.

My initial reaction to the swiping of the collar suppressor was 'Whoa!' at the lightfingered skill, followed by '... Wait a second, eew.' Cataleb's threat to shut their collar up clinched it for me; what a jerk. I like the others, though. Granted, where one particular name's involved, I'm kinda biased... :)

Date: 2017-04-03 05:48 am (UTC)
kelkyag: eye-shaped patterns on birch trunk (birch eyes)
From: [personal profile] kelkyag
These names are getting stranger and stranger.

Kilts with pockets!

I'm surprised Cataleb got as far as four flights up to stairs / to the dorms, given how poorly he seems to be getting along with his collar. I wouldn't be offering any assistance to someone that enthusiastic about starving me.

Where did the pajamas come from?
"the newest member of their dorm" -> newest does not seem like quite the right word here, especially from Des as last up the stairs, though newest to Des, yes.
"No getting fat from us." -> I would say "for" rather than "from.
Previous segment, "if they are wearing red or green ties": green->yellow
In Introductions, "Eight other people in various shades of blue and turquoise were sitting there" ... but four of the nine weren't there, and if there were upperclassmen in that group they didn't say anything...
And further back, when did Des's cravat become turquoise? He was given "blue-on-blue-on-turquoise" that matched the textiles in the dorm room. Did he change color as well as fit when he adjusted his clothes?
Edited (Introductions) Date: 2017-04-03 05:54 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-08 01:17 am (UTC)
clare_dragonfly: Reid standing with his hands together, text: the profile suggests that the UNSUB is an itsy bitsy spider. (CM: Reid: itsy bitsy spider)
From: [personal profile] clare_dragonfly
I like Cataleb! He's got an attitude! I think he will fail at escaping, though. (Reminds me of Skif, a bit.)

I like Doria, too XD

Date: 2017-06-19 01:46 am (UTC)
wyste: (Default)
From: [personal profile] wyste
FYI there's no 'next post' link on this one. *goes to find manually*

PS am reading these for the first time, they are neat.


aldersprig: an egyptian sandcat looking out of a terra-cotta pipe (Default)

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