Sep 25, 2020 6:50 AM
fabulous rebecca in whateley
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"I made it!"

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"Wow, you must be really talented. I could never make something like that. But, you know, that's why we have tailors, I guess. Come on, I'll show you around!"

She floats out of the office.

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"Oh, I didn't sew it, it's part of my magic."

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"Ooh! Did it come baked in, or did you still have to design it? My mom had this suit of black spiky armor made of ice that she manifested, but I think that's just how her power shook out."

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"I designed it. I mean, not all of it, I didn't invent Greek dresses. I don't think black spikes would be very pretty! I have to be pretty or my magic doesn't work."

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"Then you've got good design sense! What do you mean you have to be pretty - are you using some kind of obscure hipster magic I haven't heard of?"

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"People are saying I'm from another dimension?"

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"Oh, wow, shiny. So, prettiness-based magic, clothing manifestation - can you then take the clothes off and, like, sell them?"

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"Nah, they disappear if I take them off, I can only do that with stuff that I shapeshift as like part of my body. I haven't tried it but people do that for cash if they don't want to sign on to boats or don't have good magic for it."

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"Huh, okay." Ariel goes over to the receptionist's desk. "Hi Ms. Dawson! Rebecca needs an ID, can you print her one?"

The receptionist nods and taps some buttons on her keyboard. "Here you go, hon," she says, taking a small laminated card from a whirring printer and handing it to Rebecca. The card has a picture of Rebecca's face on it, with text reading REBECCA ARDEN, FRESHMAN, NO TEAM AFFILIATION.

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"Thank you!" She closes her eyes for a moment to find a good place to put a pocket, and pockets it. "What's a freshman? And, uh, team affiliation?"

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"Freshman means you're in your first year at the school, and teams are like - instead of school sports here we have play combat, and kids form teams to fight with to shore up their weaknesses, and a lot of the time that's who you usually hang out with too. I've got a team, we're called Star Force. You don't have to get one."

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"Oh. Okay," nods Rebecca. "Is it a really big deal if I forget I have this card and stop having the pocket and the card's gone?"

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"It's not a super big deal, but you'd have to come get another one printed and you don't want to have to do that every time you need it. And you need it to get into the cafeteria and buy stuff at the school store. So I'd advise against forgetting it."

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"I'll do my best."

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"Speaking of the cafeteria, are you hungry? Because we could very easily go there next."

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"Yeah, I am a bit. How does the card pay for meals?"

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"It's got - let's call it a signature, on it, that tells the machine that lets you into the cafeteria that you've got a meal plan included in your scholarship. So when you go to the cafeteria it'll recognize the signature and let you through."

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"Wow, a scholarship."

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"Yep! As a fish out of water you have a scholarship which waives the normal fees associated with attending Whateley and includes a meal plan and an account at the school store."

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Giggle. "I'm not a fish! I was a mermaid for a few minutes one time but I've stuck with wings since then."

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"I know, it's just a term for somebody who doesn't have anywhere else to go. You must've made a lovely mermaid."

They approach the cafeteria, which turns out to be an enormous glass-and-steel dome. The dome, once entered, reveals itself to have three levels, the upper level containing a fountain with waterfalls down to the ground floor. There are several different food lines, each delineated with a unique legend. "The carrot," Ariel explains, "is for vegan fare. The cheese is for vegetarians. The steak is for meat-eaters, not to be confused with the cow, which is for obligate carnivores. The geode is for people who eat rocks and minerals, the baguette with a line through it is gluten free, the banana is various fruits, and the cake is for desserts. You must try the desserts. Also, there's the specialty kiosk, which is for people with specific dietary needs, like blood, insects, or live prey. If you have such needs, you can inform the administration and they will be provided. I am going to go to the obligate carnivore line to get an entire rack of lamb, then to the dessert line to get some pie, and I'll be available on the first floor when you're ready. Okay?"

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"What's a vegan and why is cheese a vegetable? And what's gluten?"

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"Oh, vegans are people who don't eat meat or stuff that comes from animals. Cheese isn't a vegetable but it distinguishes the vegetarian line from the vegan line because vegetarians are willing to eat cheese, unless something else is going on like an allergy. Gluten is the thing that makes bread soft and delicious, but some people can't have it so they eat special bread that's kind of terrible instead."

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"Oh. Are there a lot of people allergic to bread softness around here?"

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