Oblivion (24)

Oblivion (24)

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Pllluuurrrrrr 5412: Shattered ERth

“Run! Come on!” Polyglau screamed, pulling Suhni behind her. Star followed them, running like the devil.

The booming continued as a swarm of skitters came flying from all directions. One skitter landed in front of the tunnel network entrance, cutting off their escape, while the others circled the office park ruin.

Tech pirates. A motely band of scrappers and salvagers that fed off the bloated remains of San Diejuana. They dressed themselves in faded but colorful clothes, wearing the castoff remnants of the people that once walked these streets, claiming it as their own. Their fashion choices, their weapons, their vehicles, all cobbled together from the ruins. Their entire presentation was a mockery to the old Imperial sensibility. A cheeky thumbing of the nose to what San Diejuana represented.

And cheekiest of all, was Jaan, who descended on his personal skitter, the Leona Fabla, before the huddled researchers. He was human, or near human enough in appearance. His colorful hair, arranged in the center of his head like a peacock mohawk, flapped in the wind kicked up by the skitters. His skin was like pale moonlight, unusual in this clime, and he had one pointy ear. The right one, if you’re curious. He was bare chested today, with sleek black leotard pants that shone like hard plastic or spandex but were neither of those things. They almost looked like beetle shells in pant form. Chitinous. Yes, chitinous is a good word for it. In his hand was a long silver staff with a microphonic transducer, or microphone to Earthmen, at the end.

“Back so soon, Polly dear? How was your trip?” Jaan asked, his voice booming from the Leona Fabla’s massive speakers.

“Go to vepis!” Polyglau cursed.

“Ah, still the same Polly. Good good. Dr. Suhni. You’re looking stunning in that coat of yours,” Jaan winked.

“What?” Dr. Suhni asked, her ears blown from the noise.

“Great. Listen, I want to thank you all for coming to my show,” Jaan said with a dramatic wave of his arm. “It’s a fabulous day for it too. The sun’s out. The sky is bright and clear and blue. And you three are here despite all of my very very VERY specific warnings to stay away from my turf. If I didn’t know better, I’d think you’re basically asking for it.”

“Look, whatever you’re going to do, just do it already,” Polyglau yelled. Jaan raised his fist and the booming commenced for another five seconds before cutting off again. The researchers picked themselves off the ground, shaken.

“Don’t interrupt me. Seriously. Rude,” Jaan said waving the microphone staff in a tsk tsk motion. “Part of the fun of being us, is that we can have fun with you. It gets boring out here in the ruins. Right boys?”

“Yeah!” the tech pirates shouted.

“So how about you entertain us for a change, huh?”

“Screw you!”

“Oh, don’t be so sour. Here, how about a little mood music?”

The Leona Fabla began to shake as its speakers ramped the volume up. The researchers doubled over in pain, clutching their heads in futility as the sound waves pummeled their insides. Then, just as suddenly as it began, the speakers shorted out and fizzled to a soft whine.

“What happened?” Suhni asked.

“I don’t know,” Polyglau replied, shaking on the ground.

“What in the… I just tuned it up this morning,” Jaan said, scratching his head.

“Hold it. Hold on, everybody. Hold, hold… hold on.”

Emilio approached the Leona Fabla, holding his head in a daze.

“Who the hell is this guy?” Jaan asked.

“Emilio, help us!” Dr. Suhni pleaded.

“Emilio?” Jaan asked. “Oh, are you the Instruman Polly went seeking back East? My my. I was expecting someone more formidable looking. You’re just a disappointment.”

“Look, I’d love to do the whole witty back and forth thing with you, but there are only so many hours in the day and I’m getting really hungry. So, do you mind if we skip all this banter and just, you know, get this over with?” Emilio asked.

“What a boring idea. You’re so boring. How are you even alive?” Jaan asked.

“That’s a great question. Want me to tell you?”

Emilio’s head stretched fifty feet up in the air, splitting down the middle and expanding, revealing a gaping maw of teeth and darkness. Jaan’s mind went blank at the sight and his microphone staff slipped out of his hands.

“Wha… what the fu…” he stuttered.

“Hey, Jaan. Get in here,” ‘Emilio’ said.

A thousand tendrils of blackest black shot out of ‘Emilio’s’ mouth and wrapped around the Leona Fabla, engulfing Jaan completely. Jaan’s screams mixed with the feedback of the Leona Fabla’s speakers as they disappeared inside ‘Emilio’ into Oblivion.

The tech pirates scattered like roaches in the midday sun. Some ran for their lives, others fought to get their leader back. ‘Emilio’ cared not. It was time to feast. And feast he did.

Pffubufubfudffffff 882: Synchro Earrtthh

“Here we are,” the bus driver said as he pulled into the welcoming circle. “This is going to be your new home for the next few years.”

The twenty or so pre-teens on the bus pressed their faces against the windows, taking in the campus. It was a sprawling complex, filled with oddly shaped buildings, very curious buildings and perfectly cromulent buildings.

“I can’t believe we’re actually here,” one pre-teen said.

“I’ve been looking forward to this my whole life,” another said.

“I’m going to rule this school! Guarantee it!” a third said.

Julio sighed from his seat in the back of the bus. He already knew he was going to hate it here. All the proof he needed was the excitement seeping out of his peers like jelly. It was too sweet. He hated sweet things. And now he was going to be spending the next chunk of his life in this place. This “school”.

“Okay, everybody off the fucking bus,” the bus driver yopped.

The pre-teens didn’t need an invitation. Well, technically they all had one; a letter of acceptance placed snugly in their pockets by a creature of dream while they slept. The kind of creature that appeared to give you your letter was supposed to tell you something about the kind of person you were and the kind of future you could expect for yourself. Julio didn’t know that when he got his letter. If he had, he would have stayed far away from this place.

“Isn’t this exciting?” the girl sitting next to him asked. Her name was Amanda. Julio knew this because he could see her whole life written on her astral shell like an encyclopedia. Also, it was stitched into her backpack. She had hair like sunlight through amber. Orange. It was a light orange. Her face was a minefield of freckles and it complimented her smile in a way that made Julio feel warm and fuzzy.

“Yeah, I guess,” Julio replied.

“You guess?” she asked.

“Yeah. I mean, I don’t know. Sure.”

“Do you not want to be here?” Amanda asked.

“Sort of? I… I mean… I don’t know. I guess I’m nervous.”

“Oh yeah. Totally get it. I got so many butterflies in my stomach I think I might fly away,” she giggled awkwardly.

“Like… literally?” Julio asked.

“Huh?”

“I said off the fucking bus!” the bus driver screamed.

“My name is Amanda by the way,” she said, grabbing her bag.

“I know,” said Julio.

“You do? Oh right. Duh. Ha ha, I forgot,” Amanda said, waving her hand around her head. She paused. Then with narrowed eyes, “you didn’t read my mind, did you?”

“I don’t read minds,” Julio said. Amanda pondered him for a moment.

“I believe you,” she concluded.

“You’re a very honest person, aren’t you?” Julio asked.

“How’d you know?” Amanda asked, fascinated.

“Call it a hunch.”

“Get off my bus! Get the FUCK OFF!” the bus driver screeched.

Once all the arrivals got off the bus, the driver slammed the doors shut and peeled out of the welcoming circle, clipping a fountain and taking part of the gate with him. A lone man was waiting for the arrivals. This surprised everyone since no one had seen him until that very moment. Julio got the jitters from him right away. His shells were clear, almost invisible, and his mental sleeve was completely absent. That was super freaking not normal.

The man took each of the arrivals’ measure quickly. He paused when he got to Julio, but only briefly.

“Hello, year one students. My name is Professor Salvador. Welcome to the Potter School for Talented Youth. I will be your guide this morning. Follow me, please. And stay close if you value silly little things like your lives.”

He turned on a dime and started walking. The concerned year one arrivals quickly kept pace.

“There will be no flashing, no zip-zapping, and no hobbling in this school,” the Professor said as he led them through the grand arch in front of the Welcoming Hall. “Slideways travel is strictly forbidden and absolutely no one will imbue any person, object or conceptual dreamwork in any way without express permission from the staff and not without intense supervision. That last one is grounds for permanent expulsion and possibly even… censorship.”

The mention of censorship earned a gasp from the year ones. Julio didn’t know what any of that meant, but he wasn’t even remotely curious enough to find out.

Professor Salvador stopped abruptly. He turned to look at the gathered students. His eyes passed over Julio again, stopping only briefly, before continuing.

“Is something wrong, Professor?” Amanda asked.

“I gotta use da baphroom, yo,” a portly blonde kid said. Professor Salvador’s jet black eyes shot right to him. The blonde kid stiffened.

“What was your name?” the professor asked.

“Um, I’m L-L-L-L-Larry. Larry’s my name,” the kid said. Julio could feel the kid vibrating. Was that normal?

“Larry. How old are you?” Salvador asked.

“M….m-m-my age is ttthhhhhhirteen. Sir.”

Salvador made his left hand like that of a focusing monk. Index and middle finger pointed straight up, thumb, pinky and ring finger curled into the palm. His eyes flashed.

“Kai!” he shouted.

Larry coughed, undulated, puffed up, and then began to vent air out of his skin at a rapid pace. He sounded like a balloon. It almost made Julio laugh. Then Larry doubled over, seizing. The rest of the year ones backed away giving the boy space. When he was done deflating, he slowly rose, shaking, revealing himself to be a tall, skinny, balding, fifty year old man, with thin fingers and jagged nails.

“Oh shit. Oh shit,” Larry cried.

“Hmm. It seems we have a pervert in our midst,” Salvador observed.

“No no no, I’m not a… I just wanted… I want to be a kid!” Larry sobbed.

“Expulsar,” Salvador commanded. With a wave of his hand, a cloud of sparking red energy surrounded Larry, squeezing him, and then rocketing him into the atmosphere.

“Holy crap!” a short, year one boy exclaimed.

“That was insane!” Amanda said, clearly excited.

“What the fuck was that?” Julio asked, suddenly terrified.

“Are there any other students here that are not the age they claim to be?” Salvador asked. Everyone shook their heads fiercely. “Good. Let’s keep going, children,” he said with a sly grin on his face. “The fun, as they say, is just beginning.”

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4 responses to “Oblivion (24)”

  1. Emilio is The Empty. There’s a 10x creepier version of Hogwarts with a protag who reads auras. (I do hope Amanda doesn’t turn out a manic pixie dream girl, though).
    “The fun, as they say, is just beginning.” is a pretty good summary of S2 so far.

    Liked by 1 person

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