Jan 19, 2020 8:34 AM
Aether at Whateley
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"Yeah, I suppose that would change things. So what are vaccinations like in real life?"

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"They come at you with a little needle full of a clear liquid, it stings like a bastard when they jab you, and it feels like somebody slugged you in the arm for a couple hours afterwards. And then you don't get hyperplague. I've never had a bulk vaccination, though, so that might be different." He declines to contribute the mental image of about fifteen hypodermic needles sticking out of Bella's arm, suspecting that it would be unhelpful.

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"Joy."

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"Little bit, yeah. But having been vaccinated is nice. Polio was not a fun experience by anyone's account. Anyway, shall we?"

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"Yeah, lead the way."

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He does so.

Down through the halls of Emerson they go. Boys stare, wondering dimly about the presence of a female of the species.

Morty grits his teeth. "Sorry, I probably should have mentioned it's, um, single-sex housing. So. This looks a little bit weird, possibly."

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"Is it a suspicious time of day or just an unprecedented social event?"

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"Not unprecedented, just... weird. I don't think anybody's going to assume this is a walk of shame thing, though. That would imply me having physical contact with a pretty girl, which is, uh..." A nervous, self-deprecating chuckle. "Implausible."

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"...If you say so. I don't have the local stereotypes but I'll take your word for it."

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"Mm. The assumption is that if I tried to flirt I'd have a fit of Diedrick's and end up screaming at you about how I'm a superior life form and probably vaporize you with a cardboard ray gun."

He considers. "Though, I mean, they're not necessarily wrong."

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"Diedrick's?"

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Morty makes a sour face. "The mental disorder of choice among mutants, especially Devisors. Characterized by fits of egomania, along with regular mania, plus a tendency towards obsessive and antisocial behaviors. Most of the time I'm pretty much alright; when I'm in a fit, I'm Doctor Insano. I was having a fit when I built the machine that summoned you, for reference. I'm pretty sure I actually said the words 'I'll show them, I'll show them all!'" He shakes his head in disgust. "What a fucking tool."

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"Oh. I haven't had nearly enough actual therapy training to begin to comment on that and I'm sure the locals are better equipped anyway."

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He shrugs. "The therapy thing isn't really for treatment, anyway; that's all about how the wires in my brain line up, nothing much they can do about it. It's mostly just to keep me from feeling too shitty or not shitty enough about the stuff I do when I'm riding the crazy train."

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"Gotcha. How often does this happen?"

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"Depends on my stress levels, really. It averages out to about once a week, with a really bad attack every month or so. I'll get little flickers of it if I get too worked up about something I'm making, but that can be headed off pretty easily by distracting me with something shiny. Fred- my roommate, he's gotten really good at that."

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"The guy with the dog ghosts? ...I hope you don't wind up summoning people every time this happens to you, most of them wouldn't be so gung ho about it."

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He laughs uncomfortably. "No, this is a one-strike kind of deal. If it became a habit, I would be in a lot more trouble than I am. Usually what I end up doing is accidentally blowing something up, but that's what blast shields are for. And yeah, Fred's the one with the dog ghosts. Real good guy. We're in the same basic combat class."

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"So you do have combat classes but you don't have a weapons policy. Not sure what to extrapolate from that."

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"Um, probably that we don't stab each other? Mandatory combat classes are all unarmed. And you can take weapon training if you want to for some reason, like you have the power to manifest a sword or you're training to be a big-league super or something. But otherwise it's just aikido and tae kwon do and stuff, unarmed nonlethal combat. Half of it's just so we get some exercise."

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"Huh. ...Is this a college or a high school?"

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Morty shrugs. "Honestly, it's kind of both. It's for high school age kids, but half the students are geniuses one way or another, so if you want more advanced course material you can go all the way up to grad school classes if you want. It's weird."

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"So I'm probably older than everyone here, being nineteen?"

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"There are older students! Most people manifest in their teens, but it's been known to happen in the twenties, and if you come to Whateley to learn to use your powers, you enroll as a freshman regardless. It's a special arrangement, but there's usually a few of them in every year."

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"I pretty much already know how to use my powers and I don't think anybody here is particularly likely to know the kind of magic I was learning. Maybe I'll wind up somewhere else."

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