Oblivion (27)

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RggWlcllooo 1987: Starlight Earthhh

Captain’s Log: 882.2424

The ship is handling the star ways well. It won’t be long before we reach the Inner Core. Then we can finally be done with this damn cargo. Also, the Doc has been getting on my nerves with all her research requests but don’t tell her I said that. Honestly, it’s a love/hate thing at this point. Without her there’s no funding from Tengri Moshe Industries and then we wouldn’t be able to afford the juice to make it this far into the system. Thankfully, she busies herself all day in her lab so I don’t have to deal with her.

“Captain!” someone shrieked.

“Speak of the Deville,” Emilio said, rubbing his temples. He turned the log system off and exited his quarters. Storming down the hall was the source of most of his headaches lately.

“Captain!” she shouted.

“Yes, Dr. Kirke?” Emilio asked, forcing a smile.

“Someone has been tampering with my equipment again. I won’t have it! Not anymore!”

“You don’t say. What was it this time?” Emilio asked, walking and talking as was his style.

“The caffeine distributor was two milligrams off my specifications.”

“Okay?”

“It ruined my morning coffee! I had to recalibrate the damn thing for an hour before I got it to my liking.”

“I’m sure the rest of the crew was thrilled about that.”

“Oh I’m sure they will be after you reprimand them!”

“Doc, I’m not going to do that. The coffee machine is a public appliance.”

“But I…”

“Just because you fixed it for us doesn’t make it “your equipment”. You need to learn to share.”

“What do you think I’ve been doing with you scum balls this whole time?”

“Please, tell us how you really feel,” Emilio sighed.

“Captain!” someone yelled from the bridge.

“On to the next crisis.” He turned to the good doctor. “Play nice with the others. I don’t want to have to drag your frozen ass back from the void because you pissed off the wrong guy. Or gal.”

“This work is too important to worry about feelings, Captain. For the sake of science we must advance!” the doctor exclaimed. Emilio gave her a curt wave and entered the bridge.

“Captain on deck,” second mate Leaj announced.

“What’s the situation?” Emilio asked, sitting in the captain’s seat.

“Anomaly ahead,” Leaj said. “Estimated two flibs until contact.”

“Flibs. Flibs,” Emilio said, flipping through his translation manual. “Um… five minutes. Got it.”

“Four now, sir,” the helmsman, Star, proclaimed. “It is picking up speed.”

“Toward us?” Emilio asked.

“Um. Well. Take a look,” Star said, pointing to a viewscreen.

Emilio had no idea what he was looking at. It was huge, that much he was certain of. He squinted, trying to make out the edges of it but it was difficult. All he could tell was it was dark. Darker than space itself. And it was spinning around some kind of orbit.

“We thought maybe it was stuck in a gravity well, but the instruments didn’t show any gravity distortion in the area,” Leaj said.

“Well, if it’s not of interest to us, log it for the egg heads back home and chart a course around it. We have a schedule to keep,” Emilio ordered.

“Yes, sir. Calculating new route now,” Navigator Rio said.

The ship rocked. The instruments started going wild.

“What’s happening?” Emilio asked.

“I don’t know. Um, we’re… being pulled in?” Leaj said.

“By what?” Emilio asked. The answer became obvious when two more dark tendrils shot out of the anomaly, attaching to the hull of the ship. “Holy Hera! Get us out of here!” Emilio snapped.

“I’m trying!” Star yelled, but the wheel was fighting him.

“Punch it! Warp speed! Something!” Emilio said, gripping the arms of his chair.

The anomaly opened wide, revealing an infinite tube of black glistening teeth.

“Oh gods above, brace for impact!” Leaj yelled.

The anomaly swallowed the ship whole. All was darkness. All was silent. Only the lights and sounds of the ship interior kept them company. Emilio got up off the floor of the bridge and shook himself awake. He was bleeding from the scalp and it was getting into his eyes.

“What happened? Guys?”

His crew were scattered in pieces everywhere. He almost hurled at the sight of it. Then he saw something impossible.

Emilio. Another Emilio. He smashed Star’s head in with what looked like a giant wrench. Leaj pulled a blaster on him, but Emilio blocked it with the wrench and then cratered Leaj’s chest. Emilio took a swig of something that smelled like very strong alcohol and then smiled at the captain.

“Hello, me. You’re under arrest,” Emilio said, his eyes unfocused.

“What the hell are you?” the captain demanded to know.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Emilio asked, hiccupping, burping, then shaking his head to stay lucid.

“Yeah. Actually it is. You’re a monster,” the captain said, removing a sword hilt from his belt and activating it. A crystalline blade shot out of the hilt and it glowed with a white hot fury.

“Wrong. I’m a cop. Ooo. Nice toy. Can I try it?” Emilio asked, burping again.

The captain lunged for Emilio, sword held above his head for an epic downward slash. Emilio took a drunken step back, lifted his wrench and waited. The captain landed dick first into the wrench’s head, crumpling him.

“Fffffffffuuuuuu-” the captain wheezed.

“Batter up, fuck face,” Emilio said, walloping the captain with the wrench. The captain dodged two hits before rolling away and flicking his sword through Emilio’s ribs.

“This is for my crew!” the captain yelled. He swung again. Emilio caught the captain’s wrist.

“Hey, lighten up, will you?” Emilio asked. His breath reeked of booze. It made the captain’s eyes water.

“What are you? Answer me!” the captain demanded.

“Okay. I’ll tell you,” Emilio said. His body split in two and enveloped the captain. The captain was ground down and integrated into Emilio. The whole process took a long, painful, twenty minutes to complete. From the door to the bridge, a fascinated Dr. Kirke watched as the captain screamed in mind-bending agony the entire time.

CNDTIFHDLKMEEOIK 882: Syncro Earrtthh

Julio woke up with a start. He’d been having a strange dream. A nightmare. He couldn’t quite recall what had happened, though. Space. A starship. Darkness. Class. Shit! He had class!

He rushed to get ready, falling down a couple times as he pulled his pants on. He rushed out the dorms and ran into Zach, who had apparently slept in too.

“Holy shit, man! We’re late!” Julio said.

“I know. Brunch took so long to make,” Zach grumbled.

“Brunch?”

“Yeah, it’s after breakfast time so now I’m waiting for brunch,” said Zach, holding up an empty plate.

“Forget brunch! We gotta go!” Julio said, grabbing Zach’s arm.

“Wait! My eggs and toast!” Zach cried.

They had the same intro morning classes. The one they were rushing towards now was Professor Vasquez’s Intro to Claires class. They didn’t have time to appreciate the wacky campus buildings and made it to Vasquez’s class only five minutes late. There were maybe a dozen students there. Julio and Zach took a seat in the back of the room. A cat sat on a podium at the front of the classroom, watching the other students write.

“Oh, man. Busted,” Zach sighed.

“What are you talking about? Professor’s not here,” Julio said.

“Yeah she is. See?” Zach said, pointing to the cat.

“The cat?” Julio asked.

“Yeah. We’re gonna get an earful now,” Zach said, shaking his head. Julio thought for a moment, then nodded.

“Relax. I got this.” He got out of his seat and approached the cat. The cat eyed him warily. “Hey, professor. Sorry about us being late. Had a rough night last night. You know how it is,” Julio grinned. The cat didn’t react in any way. “So, if we could get by with a warning today, I would so appreciate it. I’m so excited to learn about the claires.”

The cat hissed at him.

“Hey, I said I was sorry,” Julio said. He leaned in close to the cat. “Look, we’re first years. We still got a lot to learn about this place. Us being late, it won’t happen again. In fact, the only reason Zach was late was because he was waiting on me, so please don’t mark him late. I would be forever grateful.”

The cat swiped at Julio.

“Hey! That’s, like, child abuse or whatever!” Julio spat. The cat hissed again. “You don’t think I belong here, do you? You think my being here is some kind of mistake. I can see it in your eyes. Well, guess what? I deserve to be here just as much as anyone! And to prove it, I’m going to dispel this illusion you got going on.” Julio charged his hands and focused on the cat. “Releasem Illusionatus,” Julio chanted.

The cat’s fur buzzed with energy.

Then it exploded.

Fur and gore flew all over the room. Julio’s eyes went wide.

“Oh shit.”

“Jesuz! What the hell’s your problem, spaz?” Donovan chortled.

“Oh wow. That’s fucked up,” Zach said, swallowing hard.

Amanda arched an eyebrow but said nothing.

“Oh my god. Did I just kill the professor?”

Professor Vasquez appeared before the class in a puff of smoke.

“I’m back, kids! How’s solitary writing time going?” she asked. She saw the horrified looks on everyone’s faces. Then she saw the traumatized Julio. “Is everything okay?”

“Oh thank God. I… um… I thought you were…” Julio tried to speak but the words got stuck in his throat.

“It’s okay. You’re okay. Just breathe, Mr. Valdez. Breathe. That’s it,” Professor Vasquez said, putting a hand on his shoulder. Julio stopped hyperventilating. “Now, tell me what happened.”

“Well, I thought you… I mean, Zach and I…”

“He killed your cat! He killed your cat!” Donovan yelled with delight. “It was super mental!”

“No shouting in class, Mr. Montgomery,” Vasquez said with a snap of her fingers. She turned back to Julio. “Now, what what was he saying about my cat?” A piece of bloody fur fell from the ceiling as if in answer. Vasquez looked all around her. “Oh god. Oh God! Mr. Whiskers!”

“I’m so sorry! I thought that… but then you… I’m sorry!” Julio cried, running from the room.

He made it out the door of the building, the one made of tortoise shells, and ran head first into Professor Salvador. His piercing gaze shot right through Julio’s core, making the boy feel small and powerless.

“Going somewhere, Mr. Valdez?” Salvador asked slowly and deliberately. Julio backed away in fear. “Shouldn’t you be in class?”

“I can’t go back there. I can’t,” Julio sobbed.

“Jesuz, kid. Relax,” Salvador said. Julio sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly. It didn’t help. “You’re troubled. It happens. It’s okay. I don’t sense any physical trauma in you so why don’t we get you back to class.”

“Can’t I just go to the nurse or something? Is there a nurse at this school?” Julio asked.

“I just looked you over and you’re fine. So back to class with you.”

“But!”

“I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that skipping class is strictly forbidden.”

“Is there anything here that isn’t strictly forbidden?” Julio snapped. Salvador leaned close to Julio’s face.

“Luckily for you, mouthing off to your teachers isn’t. Though it can earn you some time in detention.”

“I’m… sorry,” Julio said, holding back tears. Salvador could see the boy was unraveling.

“Come now. Valeria’s cat has been through worse. We’ll get this all sorted out,” Salvador said, putting a hand on Julio’s back and leading him to the classroom. “We’ll blame all this on first day jitters. Okay?”

“Okay,” Julio said, sniffling. “Wait, how did you… oh right. You’ve got the sight or whatever.”

“Yes. I do. Just as you will too some day, once you’re training here is done. Then, eventually, we’ll get to the issue of just what it is you’re after here, Mr. Valdez.”

“Huh?”

“Missing a student, Professor Vasquez?” Salvador asked as he pushed Julio into the room.

“Yes, thank you, Professor Salvador,” Vasquez replied. Her fingers were glowing a soft pink and gossamer lines of pink energy flowed from them, like she was weaving something out of thin air. The class sat transfixed by the sight. Salvador waited by the door. “Was there something else, professor?” she asked.

“…No,” Salvador said with a frown. He turned with a whip of his cloak and dramatically exited the class.

“You gave me quite a shock, Mr. Valdez. Mr. Whiskers has been with me since I was a student here. He’s been through a lot, but I’ll admit I’ve never seen him explode.”

The gossamer lines grabbed chunks of cat meat and pulled them together on the podium. It began to resemble a cat in shape.

“Are you bringing him back to life?” Julio asked.

“Technically no. He was never alive to begin with,” Vasquez replied. She finished her work with a flourish. A flash of light, the smell of singed cat hair, and Mr. Whiskers was back to normal.

“Whoa. That’s amazing,” Julio said, jaw agape.

Mr. Whiskers glared at Julio and growled.

“That’s my Talent,” Vasquez said with a flick of her wrist and a snap of her fingers. “I’m a weaver. Psychic fabric is the clay with which I mold, the canvas on which I paint, the… yarn with which I knit? I guess art metaphors don’t really work when my Talent is the art itself. Anyway, Mr. Whiskers here is one of my earliest achievements.”

“He’s made out of psychic fabric?” Amanda asked, eyes bright and full of amazement. Julio grimaced. Her act was hard to stomach now that he knew her secret.

“Yes. That’s what I do. And later today, we’ll find out what all of you can do when you take the Talent Revelation Test.”

“Cooool.”

“Neat!”

“Right on!”

“Fuck yeeesss.”

“But first,” Vasquez pointed to Julio and Zach, “ten demerits for Club Tildi.”

“Aw what?” Zach griped.

“Each,” Vasquez continued.

“For the cat?” Julio asked.

“For being late to class,” Vasquez replied, lips tight and eyes narrowed.

“Okay. Fair enough,” Julio sighed. He took a seat next to Zach.

“Now then. The Four Claires. Who can tell me what they are? Anyone?” Vasquez asked. Amanda’s hand shot up. “Yes, Miss Campion?”

“The Four Claires are the basic psychic senses every sync has. They are clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience, and claircognizance. Though everyone has different aptitudes, we can all theoretically use them,” Amanda replied like the perfect teacher’s pet.

“Very good, Miss Campion. And can anyone tell me what each of them are?” Vasquez asked the class. Amanda’s hand shot up again.

The rest of the class went like this. It made Julio want to jump off a bridge.

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