Dec 10, 2019 7:03 PM
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"Should I haul Linyabel over here too? I have no idea what Vivienne would make of her, actually..."

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"Yes. Haul Linya over here," says Miles. "Let's all have a big party in the spooky magic bar. I'm going to have to report to ImpSec about this, you realize. Stalas had better come home with us, otherwise Illyan is going to think we were both very high."

"Can't whoever that is just come and look at the spooky magic bar himself?"

"It wasn't here yesterday, I'm pretty sure; I would not be willing to place a large wager that it will be here tomorrow."
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Ivan opens the door and pens to Linyabel. "Hey, Linyabel, there's - actually I think I'm going to make Miles explain this time. Miles. Explain."

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"There's something completely inexplicable going on, and it's at Vivienne Vorville's house, and it involves someone who I don't think is actually another clone of me but who sure as hell looks like one, and we would like you to bring your medical scanner," says Miles. "Also, he smells really bad, sorry about that."

"You try spending three days straight scrambling through collapsed tunnels and fighting for your life every few minutes, see how good you smell afterward," Stalas says irritably.
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Linyabel appears in the pen display to reply presently. "And how am I supposed to explain myself to Vivienne Vorville?" she inquires via speech-to-text subtitles, arching an eyebrow.

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"I just told her there was a family emergency. You can say the same thing. Somebody might start some bizarre rumours, but they're definitely not going to guess the truth, so let 'em."

Stalas is now looking at Miles strangely. Again.
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"All right. I can be there in -" the display wobbles slightly - "ten minutes, longer if I'm held up at the door deflecting questions about the nature of the emergency. Where in the house are you?"

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"Second floor, leftish."

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"Leftish. Thank you, Ivan. I'll be along presently."

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"See you soon," says Miles. "What's that look for, scrawny dwarf me?"

...Stalas cracks up.
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The call ends. "I showed him a wedding holo, this can't just be astonishment at the 'pretty human'."

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"You just... sounded a lot like me, is all," says Stalas. "Also, I vote we call each other by name from now on."

"Sure," snickers Miles. "Stalas, right?"

"Stalas Aeducan. And you're - Miles Vorsomething?"

"Vorkosigan."

"Right."
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"And I am still Ivan, and Linyabel only lets Miles call her by nickname so she's probably Lady Vorkosigan to you, and can we think of a better name for this place than 'magic wormhole bar'?"

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"Damned if I know," says Miles. "Does it call itself something, I wonder?"

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"There's not a sign."

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"Yes, signs traditionally appear on the outsides of establishments, and this place sort of seems to lack one," says Miles.

"I'd suggest asking the proprietor, but—" Stalas gestures wordlessly at the general emptiness.
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"No 'ring bell for service', no listed hours of operation."

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"But the lights are on and the mildly alarming holo display still works."

"Horrifying void full of exploding stars," Stalas agrees cheerfully. "How do you know it's a display, anyway?"

"...Well, thank you for that cheerful and uplifting thought."

"Anytime."
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"I did not need that possibility. If those are real live exploding stars this place has got to be fantastically radioactive."

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"What's radioactive?"

"It means 'full of invisible intangible poison that spreads like light, goes straight through almost anything that's not made of lead, and can kill you or make you very sick or fuck up your ability to have children depending how much hits you where'," Miles summarizes.

"Why is there a word for that?" says Stalas, eyeing their surroundings warily.

"Because the universe is an amazing place full of wonders and delights," says Miles.

"You have my sense of humour," Stalas accuses.

"So it would appear."
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"A vital resource that the galaxy was previously desperately short on."

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"Shut up, Ivan," says Miles affably.

...Stalas looks slightly wistful.
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Ivan sighs, and shuts up.

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And Linya comes up the stairs. "Stay here, please," she tells what is presumably the Armsman accompanying her at the top of the stairs, and she proceeds leftish.

Ivan waves her into the bar. She looks at the tableau of bar, Miles, Stalas, exploding stars, and door into the hallway of the Vorvilles' house.

"Well," she says, producing her medical scanner, "this is certainly interesting."
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"Isn't it just," Miles agrees. "Stalas, this is my wife, whom you may call Lady Vorkosigan until she tells you otherwise. Linya, this is Stalas Aeducan, who claims not to be human. What's the scanner have to say about that?"

(Stalas makes a slight bow in Linya's direction.)
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