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Bonus Story 9: We Have a Problem


November 25, 2012 by Lyn

Just after Chapter 12.


Professor Valerian grabbed Mallory and Bel and yanked them away from the quickly-vanishing sinkhole, as she muttered a long string of Words.  Bel recognized Eperu, of course, and a good deal of Quipia.  Preserving the earth? That seemed the opposite of what she wanted to do.  Why wasn’t she doing something, everything, to get Jovanna back.

“Porter can…”  She moved towards the door, but the professor, stronger than she looked, was holding her firmly.

“Wait a moment, Belfreja.  Let’s make sure the sinkhole has healed, and the ground is sturdy.  I don’t want to lose another one of you down there.”

“But if I get Porter, he can just open a Door.”

“He’s good, but he’s not that good yet.  He would destabilize the Workings here.”  She frowned at the ground. “I thought this location was clear.  It’s almost as if someone shifted some of the Workings, or hid them.”

“You’re saying there was sabotage involved?”  Mallory looked in no hurry to get free of Valerian’s arm.  With the ground unstable beneath them, Bel couldn’t blame her.

“There could have been.  I want to get the two of you back into the school, and then talk to Doctor Regine and Luke.”

“What about Jovanna? Shouldn’t we find her?”

“It’s best to let us worry about that.  You girls just go back to your rooms, directly back to your rooms, and sit tight.  We’ll deal with it all.”  And now she was moving, shooing them towards the door, still muttering at the earth under their feet.  “The school is going to be on lockdown; I don’t want to see you in the halls for more than five minutes.”

“But Jovanna…?”  She knew she should just be quiet.  Back to her room was where Porter was.  Porter could walk through walls.

“We’ll deal with this.  I’m sorry about your friend, girls.”

“You make it sound like she’s dead.”  Mallory’s frown echoed what Bel was feeling.   And the Professor’s expression was no help.

“We may have to accept that she is.  Come on girls, this way, I want to talk to Luke before anything else happens.”  She was pushing now, pressing them towards the doors.  Bel took one last look at the ground, reminded herself that Porter could open a Door, and let herself be pushed.

“Straight to your rooms.  Don’t make me find out how to give detentions.”  They got another push once they were in the hallway, and then the professor was heading off towards the stairs.

Mallory’s expression was troubled, and she focused on the floor as they walked. “Do you…do you really think she could be dead?” Her free hand was playing with the edge of her collar nervously. “I just feel like there should be something we could be doing…something we should be doing.” She paused. “Maybe I’ll ask Silas.”

“That’s a good idea.  “I’m going to see what Porter can do.”  If the teachers were going to be that firm about being in the halls, she didn’t want to be seen crossing them.  “Good luck.”

As she reached the suite door, a siren sounded, a long wailing, obnoxious noise she’d never heard down here before.  The school didn’t exactly have fire drills, after all.  She stepped into the suite, glad to find the sound almost completely muted.  “We may have a problem.”


“We have a problem.”  Laurel Valerian was not out of breath, because she would never do something as uncouth as be out of breath.  But a lock of hair was loose from her bun.

“Define the problem.”  He was already standing up and pushing the button that called Doug.  If her hair was out of its bun, it was going to be big.

“Jovanna opened a hole in the earth; it dumped her into the Fourth Floor.”

That wasn’t a big problem.  That was just the tip of the iceberg of a gargantuan problem.

“You’re sure?  The class areas aren’t over the fourth level.”

“I’m sure.  I did a series of Working before the hole closed up.”  She pursed her lips tightly.  “Best-case scenario?”

“Best-case? She landed somewhere uninhabited right now, and we can get her out before they notice she’s there.”  Neither of them really believed that was likely, but it one for best-case.

“Where?  Who?”  Doug arrived in the doorway, already frowning.

“Fourth floor.” Laurel answered him.  She twisted her lips downwards in what, in another woman, Luke would have believed was worry.  “Jovanna fell through the floor.”


“Exactly.  Come on.”  Luke grabbed his spear and gladius off the wall.  Laurel came with her own weapons, and his son never went anywhere bare of arms. “We have to tell Regine, and then we have to get her out.”

“Her Keeper,” Doug added.  Luke didn’t shake his son.  There had to be a reason the man acted like he was doling out words on a tightwad budget.

“Her Keeper?” Valerian frowned.  “Jovanna isn’t collared.”

“Kept, not collared.”  He seemed grumpier than usual.  Luke wasn’t going to shake him. He really wasn’t.

“Who’s her Keeper, Doug, and why isn’t she wearing a collar?”

“Arnbjorg’s being stupid.”  He rolled his shoulders.  “I’ll call her.  You tell ‘Gene.  Then we go downstairs?”

“Sounds like a battle plan.”  He wasted a precious three seconds trying to figure out what was going on with his son and his son’s Students, and then turned and made for the door.

Regine was in her office.  Regine was always in her office during class hours.   Luke plowed past her secretary, Hayley, without bothering to explain or ask questions.  In the very unlikely event that Regine was naked with someone in there, she’d put on her clothes for this.

And of course she wasn’t; she was frowning at her cameras.  Not, as he’d half-hoped, at the three remaining functional cameras on the fourth floor.  No, she was looking at the third floor, the ones near where Doug had found that hidey-hole.  There hadn’t been cameras there before; not until the upperclassmen started using the unmonitored back halls for their hunting grounds.  Then Luke had made sure almost every damn public inch of the place was covered, and half of it double-covered.  Most the time, he only saw things he’d rather he didn’t.

This counted, although not for the same reasons.  Llew was skulking around.  He’d clearly found the cameras meant to be found, and disabled one of them, although not the other two, which he was just trying to avoid.

“We have a prob…”  He and Laurel weren’t the only ones to barge into her office unannounced; Ambrus-called-Ambrose interrupted him.

“Problem,” the skinny kid interrupted.


“Several problems.”  Laurel Valerian was radiating unhappiness like an unexpected early frost.  Ambrose looked around the room.  A tense mist- former-mistress, an angry and worried Luke, and Laurel Valerian, leaking unhappiness and shedding leaves.

“Fight in the halls,” Ambrose cut in, before anyone could tell him he shouldn’t be here.  Things were different.  Luke kept saying that like it meant he didn’t still love Regine.

“Shit.” Luke glared at him like it was his fault.  “Well, stop it.”

“I’m trying.  But I’m not all that powerful.”  He wiggled his fingers at the grumpy old Mara, hoping he’d remember Ambrose had promised to limit his powers, much like Manira had – although far more willingly in his case.  “It’s Leo and Reese… and Garfunkle.”

“Shit.”  This time, it was Doug glaring at him. “Go back, try harder.  Get someone else.”

It had to be big trouble – the scene on Regine’s cameras looked like Llew trying to find something, and that couldn’t be enough to have the whole Hawk family snarling at him.  “Going. Sir. Who else?”

It was Laurel who answered.  Having him as her student had flustered her endlessly for the first month, until she’d gotten over her nerves and taken him up on his so-helpful offer.   Ambrose liked being helpful.  Now, she could finally talk to him like a peer.  Odd that that’s what it had taken, but he wasn’t going to argue with the results.

“Get Shira Pelletier and Agmund Fridmar.  Send Shou down to us.  Hurry, Ammie, run.”

Run he could do.  Three offices, and what little he’d been able to do to the combating students wouldn’t hold for long.   He pounded on Shira’s door, sending in the strongest sense of urgency he could manage, and kept running.  “Help, fight,” he called, hoping she’d Already Know enough to go from there.

He did the same thing at Agmund Fridmar’s door, although for the Bear he was a little more specific.  “Disabled three students, briefly, in dorms, they’re going to start again.”  And then he was running again, in a way he couldn’t remember running since he was very young.

Something was really wrong, obviously.  Luke didn’t get like that over fights in the hallways.  None of them got worried-looking over a single student being stupid.  And never in all of his years with Regine, even in the three since she’d released him, has she simply sent him off to deal with a problem on his own.

“Professor Sakamoto there’s a problem on the third floor Luke needs your help.”  It was all one sentence, spat out while he sketched the messiest bow ever.  “I have to go now thank you sir.”  And he was gone again, panting and a bit out of breath by the time he hit the stairs.

He was three stairs down when the siren went off.  He hadn’t heard it since they’d first tested it, and it was louder than he remembered, loud enough to make him slip on the stairs.

They’d added something else to it, too, or somebody was playing a prank on him.  As Ambrose hit the stairs hard with both hands and his ass, he could feel a surge of panicked emotion – over tones of danger and trouble over a resounding theme of go hide.

As he skidded down the stairs towards a fight, Ambrose resolved to have a long talk with Professor Reid when this was all over.

And this should have gone up this past Sunday. I’m caught up on bonus stories now!

Addergoole: Year Nine updates every Wednesday evening EST.

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  1. Rix says:

    Ooooh! Ambrose gets to pull out all the stops?

    And this brings us up to those two things I asked for, doesn’t it?

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