Jan 20, 2022 9:35 AM
Boston keeps its promises and pays its debts. Boston protects and avenges its people.
Next Post »
« Previous Post
Permalink

Marcy's parents drill her on situational awareness and psychology. The Boston enclave tutors drill her on languages and melee combat and ranged combat. Her friends all drill each other on all of it, at lunch and on the weekends and on the outings everyone in her year goes on together so they can be a tight-knit high-trust group. They're constantly competing to see who can be first to translate a sentence or run to the end of the hallway or do fifty pushups or scale a fence or throw a pencil across a room and impale an apple. Different people win at languages on different days, but Marcy always wins at throwing things, because her affinity is projectiles and when your knife can come back to your hand it's worth getting good at throwing it.

And when Marcy's alone, she drills herself more, because if you want to survive it's not enough to be good. Plenty of dead kids were good and she has to be better than them. She conjugates verbs in the shower and stalks mals in her dreams. She speaks eight languages and knows how to make her own crossbow and bolts and she totally might die but if she does she's going to go down fighting.

When it comes time to pack they all coordinate with each other. Some things everyone needs their own of, especially with the rooms being who knows how far apart, but other things--medicine and spell supplies, mostly--can be redistributed and passed around once they're in there, if that's what will save on containers. Marcy ends up with a lot of their shared trade goods because her body weight is so low and lets herself be smug about it when nobody is looking. She knows they have to stick together and help each other but if she wants to privately attempt to be the best and most helpful one in the group then so much the better for all of them.

She loads up her bags with medicine and letters for older siblings (none of them hers, she's the oldest of six, spaced one every year like clockwork) and alchemy ingredients and dental floss and clothing (but not underwear, who needs underwear), and shaves her head and eats steak and cheese and chocolate bars and buttercream frosting out of the can and the day before they leave she eats absolutely no salt, because salt makes you retain water, and nothing for two hours before induction because she would just puke it up anyway. 

Also on the day before induction, they meet up for the last time outside, and they all put their hands on the same stack of dictionaries and pledge to each other their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. It's an old tradition but they all mean it, and they each know in their bones that all the others mean it.  

She does her final weigh-in and hugs her parents goodbye and tells her oldest younger brother not to worry, she's going to clean out the mals for him. Her ten-year-old sister says "I triple dog dare you to come back alive," because Marcy always told her that if it's a triple dog dare then you have to do it. Marcy absolutely refuses to cry about this and thank goodness she only has to pull that off for five seconds because now she's gone.

Total: 1
Posts Per Page:
Permalink

Kevin is a weird kid with a weird set of skills. He can't focus on a book, can't take notes on a lecture, can't memorize lists of facts or solve an equation or make an essay say what he means. But he can spot the one slightly discolored tile on a floor and tell all the other kids apart by their footsteps from the other side of a wall. He knows when something is going to fall over and where it's going to land. Nobody has successfully snuck up on him since he was seven. Half his tutors love him and the other half despair.

When Kevin is eight, he's spending Christmas with Abigail and Franklin and Marcy at Abigail's house, and his parents take his older brother and sister out for Christmas dinner in mundane Boston. When he gets dropped off at his house the door is unlocked, and he waves goodbye to Abigail's parents and heads upstairs and discovers that they aren't back yet. Several hours later they're still not back, and the mals that sneak into the enclave start converging on the soft target of an eight-year-old home alone. Abigail's parents get a panicked phone call and reach his house to discover Kevin holding off a three-mouthed hexapod behind improvised barricades, surrounded by the corpses of lye-flies.

Eventually they find Kevin's parents and siblings, or what's left of them. There aren't a lot of ways for an adult wizard to die, and the absence of any witnesses make it hard to say for sure what happened but their remains are surrounded by mal corpses and the charred remains of a hazardous materials truck. Now Kevin is Abigail's brother.

No amount of grief or sobering reminders of the stakes can magically make Kevin good at school, but part of being an enclaver means you don't have to be good at everything. You just have to be good. The squad works out an arrangement: Kevin will do all four of their maintenance shifts and none of his own homework. He knows maintenance track kids are usually minions, second-class citizens of whatever group they're trying to be in, but that's not how it is for him. He wants to do maintenance, and he's good at it. He has an affinity for plumbing and the situational awareness to watch his own back even with his head and shoulders stuck in a hatch. He studies with the enclave's own maintenance crew, learning how enclaves and the Scholomance get what they need and get rid of what they don't. They're like spaceships, like tiny planets, like little sheltered gardens in the desert of the void, and it's hard to remember that other people don't want to dedicate all their time to keeping them running. He's half in love with the Scholomance even before induction.

Here Ends This Thread
Next Post »
« Previous Post
Total: 1
Posts Per Page: