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Outtake: Moore, Year 16

20

March 14, 2013 by Lyn

“Don’t want to go to school.”

Moore’s signs were sloppy and angry, and his voice felt loud in his throat.  His mother answered with calm, smooth signs and carefully formed lip-shapes.

“You need to.  Sorry, but this is a non-negotiable.”

“I won’t know anyone there.  They won’t…”  He trailed off.  I’m going to have to teach them how to deal with a deaf kid.  All over again.  “Want to stay here.”

She’d already pulled the non-negotiable card.  He wasn’t going to get her to move.  But he needed to make sure she knew exactly how unhappy she was about this.  “Don’t want to go to this… Zombie school.”

“Zombie… ha.  Ghoul.”  Mom rolled her eyes at him.  “Cute, Moore.  Go pack.  I’m going to go pick up that laptop you wanted.”

“Bribery.”

“You bet.”

“What’s Dad say?”

Mom paused with her back half to him.  He thought she might not answer.  When she turned around, her face was strange and her signs were tight and unhappy. “Dad understands.”

“I don’t.”

She wasn’t going to explain, either.

~

Moore still didn’t know what was going on when he got on the plane.  He didn’t know what was going on when he got off the plane in the tiny airport, with the short guy who knew pidgin sign and was clearly relieved Moore could handle spoken English.

“What did they tell you about me, anyway?”  Was he going into someplace where everyone expected him to be helpless?

The guy – Luke, he’d said – hesitated.  His answer was careful, his shoulders pulled tight.  “Deaf.  Clever.  Didn’t need an interpreter.”

Hunh.  He nodded.  “They forgot ‘likes World of Warcraft and the Yankees.’”  He made his words carefully.  New people sometimes had trouble understanding him.

The guy smiled, and his shoulders relaxed.  “They did.  Baseball, hunh? That’s a new one down here.”

“Down?”  He gestured, not quite the sign, not certain he’d read that one right.

“You’ll see.  Buckle up.”  And the guy did the sign for seatbelt.  Pretty well, too, for a muggle.

The drive was boring.  Moore spent the time entertaining himself with scenarios.  It was really a work camp.  It was a brainwashing center for a cult.  It was a special training camp for secret agents.  He was going to learn how to be a ninja.

That was his favorite.  “Does ninja training camp come with cool masks?”

“Ninj…”  He watched him repeat the words.  “Yes.”  He turned to smile at Moore.  “Very cool ones.”

Now Moore didn’t know if he was being catered to, or played along with.  He wasn’t sure which would be better.  He fell silent again, imagining how ninja training camp would go.

Sneaking training, of course.  And vanishing in plain sight.  Cool masks, of course, and then there would be the throwing stars and the swords.

This held a remote chance of actually not sucking.

~

This place was oddly not-sucky.  Moore wasn’t sure he understood it yet: why wasn’t it sucky?

It was a basement school, posh-looking, full of strangers.  It should have sucked.  Any one of those things should have made it miserable.

People asked him questions about his deafness, of course.  A couple people tried shouting.  A couple people asked stupid questions.  But, for the most part, nobody thought it was that big of a deal.  There was even a girl who was studying ASL, and, unlike most people who were “studying ASL,” she actually knew what she was talking about.

Actually, there were a lot of girls in Addergoole.  Reasonably, fifty-one-percent-of-the-population, there ought to be a lot of girls.  And Addergoole had a lot of pretty people.

Pretty people who, in more than one case, were going out of their way to talk to him.  There was always, he’d discovered, new-kid-novelty whenever you started in a new place.  And all the new kids seemed to be getting their share of friendly attention, so maybe that was all it was.

All in all, for a hole in the ground, the school was pretty good.

“Hey.”  A short guy with black hair and freckles stepped up in front of Moore.  Cillian.  “Bunch of us are going to have a pizza party at my place tonight.”  He signed pizza, party, us, and then something Moore was pretty sure was supposed to be video games.  “You in?”

Moore grinned. “Love it.  Where?”

This school was absolutely not sucky, and he might even forgive his mother.

~

This school was a fucking nuthouse, and he was never going to forgive his mother. Ever.

Moore darted through the halls, trying to figure out what was going on.  Cillian had only been the first of the freakjobs to accost him this morning.  Suddenly, everybody was using everything they could against him – not just him, against all the new kids.  Moore just had one more thing to use against him than some of the others.

“Accost” wasn’t really the right word, even if it was one of Professor VanderLinden’s favorites this week.  “Jump.” “Attack.”  “Sneak up behind and grab.”  Those were closer.

Now, it was Drina, whose tactic of choice appeared to be making holes appear in the middle of the floor, and Aegina, who was shooting some sort of arrows at them.

Moore just wanted breakfast.  Breakfast, was that too much to ask?  “Cut the shit out.”  He put as much force into the words as he could, until he could feel his lungs really pushing air out.  “Cut. It. Out!”

The out shook the hallway. Drina and Aegina – and two others he hadn’t noticed coming up on him – stumbled backwards.

Moore grinned.  Okay, that was neat.  “Back Off.”  He added the signs, pushing at the air.  Drina held up her hands, in what he hoped was surrender.

Okay, this had its possibilities.

“Done?”  He made the sign and made an effort to not put too much force in his voice.

Drina nodded urgently.  Aegina, on the other hand, was moving slowly up the hall towards him.  Moore turned his head towards her and shouted again.  “Back. Off.”

She stumbled, tripped, and fell.  He glanced back at Drina.  “No more.”

“No more.  Look.”  She’d moved close enough that he could see her lips easily.  “There will be more of this, all the way to lunch.  Let me come with you, it will help.”

“No tricks?”  He didn’t really know Drina; they had two classes together, but she sat behind him.

“No tricks. Scout’s honor.”

“Kay.”  He kept her in his sight at they walked.  Conversation could wait until they were sitting down.

Drina pushed off three different groups on their way to the Dining Hall.  Every time, she turned her back to Moore, and a few moments later, the people went away.

It irritated Moore. She was doing it on purpose, he was sure of it.  She was keeping secrets.  “No tricks.”  He muttered it to himself.  “Promised.”

She set her hand on his shoulder.  He glanced over, and she mouthed “almost there.”

“…all right.”

He was seething by the time they got to the Dining Hall, but he still noticed that Drina’s shoulders relaxed and her hands stopped shaking.  She turned to him, took a long breath, and then looked him straight in the eyes.  “Ok.  Things are… weird.”

“Got that.”

“Really weird.  Nice power, by the way.”

“Power?”  He had an idea what she meant. But better to play dumb.

“The sonic boom… oh, you can’t hear that. Right. You can understand me okay? ‘Cause I can do something else, to make it easier.”

“I can understand okay. Can you understand me?”

“Hrrm.”  She turned her face away from him again, and then, in the back of his mind, he felt her speak.  It was the strangest thing, like seeing the words written on the inside of his skull.

::How’s this?::

::Weird.::  He tried to imitate whatever she was doing, thinking the words instead of mouthing them.  ::But really clear::

::Good. It’s also a lot harder to eavesdrop on.  Okay.  So, things are weird.::

::You said that.::

::I did.  I’m trying to get around to exactly how they’re weird.::

::Really freaking weird?::

::Ha.:: In front him, she smirked.  ::Yes. Really weird. Magic, you got that, right?::

::Check.::

::There’s also, like, magical… promises and stuff.::

::Magical promises.::  He made his best doubtful face at her.

::Seriously?

::Seriously.  And today, today is the day that everyone and their cousin is going to want to get a magical promise out of you.::

::Why today?::

::Because it’s Hell Night.::

::It’s ten in the morning.::

::Figure of speech.  Today’s a massive hazing ritual, and it’s topped off by getting people to make promises.  Specific promises.::

Even without talking, her face was very expressive.  She wasn’t telling him the whole story yet.

::What sort of specific promise?::

He could feel her pain across the telepathy thing she had up, but she answered him through it.  ::To Belong to them.  To be theirs.::  There was more, not quite words, just feelings.  Something like bonds.  Something like love.  Something like need.

She shrugged at him, her smile apologetic.  ::I told them you were Mine.  It kept them from jumping you.::

Moore could follow that thought easily enough.  ::And now you want it to be true.::

 


 

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20 comments »

  1. Rix says:

    So whatt’s he going to decide?

    • Gudy says:

      Yep, I’d like to know, too. As far as first impressions go, Drina doesn’t seem too bad, but that doesn’t have to mean anything. OTOH, Moore seems to have some idea of what’s going on, so there’s some hope he’ll choose wisely.

      Also, one of the shorts Lyn posted the link to a couple days back had him getting to know a mute girl, IIRC.

    • Wysteria says:

      I’m rooting for him telling her to shove off, but then, I usually do.

      • Kuro_Neko says:

        Really? Even knowing this is probably a pretty good deal, and without it there’s a good chance of a much worse fate in store for him?

        • Wysteria says:

          Well, just because I accept that the system is what it is doesn’t mean I want the characters to accept it. For one thing, there lies a very boring story. For another, there lies very boring characters. “What shall we do today, Brain?” “I don’t know, take a nap.” Anyway, personally, I prefer an honest antagonist (Rozen) to a dishonest friend (Mabina, Ty).

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            There is certainly that. But the situation is different enough that there are interesting stories there even when the characters are decent to each other. Being decent doesn’t necessarily mean no mistakes will be made or misunderstandings had. Kai and Conrad weren’t boring and they were decent to each other.

            There’s also the objective story based opinion and the more subjective character based opinion. From a story viewpoint, of course I want conflict in the story. Otherwise, as you say, it’ll just be boring. I lived through boring high school already, I don’t need to read about it. But from the character viewpoint, I empathize with the poor guy and want what’s best for him. In my opinion that’s the highest form of compliment for a work of fiction, that the reader gets emotionally invested in the well-being of the characters, hurting when they hurt and happy when they are. Addergoole certainly did that for me, to an extent that I haven’t experienced in quite a while.

            By the by, I’m with you on the honest antagonist versus dishonest friend. More then once I wished horrible things on that snake Mabina.

  2. LilFluff says:

    Or maybe he’s the next person to think to suggest a timed keeping? Really, is Shahin the last one to ever successfully suggest that?

    • Kuro_Neko says:

      The problem is the new students are purposely kept in the dark to such an extent they don’t even know such a thing is possible. Shahin basically lucked into it without even knowing what she was really doing. And really, Emrys could possibly have managed to get around it with some clever wordplay if he really wanted to, considering his mentor. Shahin was pretty sharp but Emrys had the benefit of knowing exactly what was going on and all the rules involved and she didn’t.

  3. Kuro_Neko says:

    “It was really a work camp. It was a brainwashing center for a cult. It was a special training camp for secret agents. He was going to learn how to be a ninja.”

    He’s kinda right on all those, in all the worst ways of course, this is Addergoole after all.

    Good for Drina that she’s trying to do it right, even to the extent of fighting the geas. Any student that even tries gets alot of brownie points from me. This doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll be a good Keeper, but it does bode well.

    Good chapter, well written.

    • Inventrix says:

      The worst ways? I mean, Addergoole can be really shitty, but it isn’t always really shitty.

      I like to think of it as sort of like X-Men plus eugenics without the baby murder.

      • Kuro_Neko says:

        Except the students at Xavier’s school aren’t mind controlled, aren’t prevented from leaving, or forced to return against their will, are not forced to breed, are not enslaved to other students, or tortured by other students, or manipulated or lied to or sexually assaulted by the staff, are not bound to send their own children there…
        Basically, other then the students from both schools being superhuman and being taught to use their powers it’s nothing like the x-men. I have my own issues with Xavier drafting children into his cause, but he’s leagues above Regine in every respect. Hell, Magneto is above Regine.

        As to Addergoole being shitty, for about a third of the students, it’s shitty but survivable. For another third it’s really shitty but survivable with only a few scars. For the remaining third it’s hell on earth. That’s not what I call much of a school.

        • Wysteria says:

          I’m not sure about your math there. By my count, two or three students per year end up in really bad situations (torture, overt rape). That’s only a tenth, not a third.

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            If you just count the outright atrocities sure. But the situation can be really bad without crossing that line. Lee might be the only 9th cohort atrocity, but that doesn’t mean Ahouva’s situation (pre-rescue) or even Akaterina’s situation are walks in the park. Maybe Ceinwen as well, we don’t really see enough of what happens to her behind closed doors. Speedy would be another atrocity if his personality wasn’t just right.

            It doesn’t need to be violent to be rape, especially with that damn bond. Can you really say that the majority of Kept aren’t naked in their Keeper’s bed within a week if not a day of capture, whether or not they’d have wanted to be there before the bond? No matter how much they enjoy it, or even how much they want it at the time, that’s still rape. And it’s still going to take it’s emotional toll after they’re released.

        • Inventrix says:

          I think a good half of the things you claimed the Xavier Institute doesn’t do are covered in eugenics, really. Breeding, restriction of personal freedom, forced compliance, etc.

          But thank you for explaining! I think we have a fundamentally different way of weighing pros and cons that is making our total balances come out a bit different.

          I’m also with Wysteria on the division into thirds seeming a little extreme. I think it’s closer to 10% who get “hell on earth”, if that much; probably 50% “survivable with scars”, 35% “wow what the fuck is with this school” without anything seriously terrible or traumatic happening, and a lucky 5% who have a totally fine time of it and wonder why so many of their fellow students are having so much crap happen to them.

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            I might be erring on the side of caution a bit much on the hell on earth category. It’s my own personal bias coming into play, as much as I try to keep it out of it. I’m very vehemently against any form of slavery, the careful and consensual d/s scene excepted. I don’t have any problems with Belonging as it’s supposed to be, and as it more or less is with Kyle or Tamora. But anything less then that I tend to judge rather harshly. Honestly, your break down is probably more accurate.

          • Kuro_Neko says:

            I have very strong feelings regarding slavery and sexual assault, as well as very definite opinions regarding trust and loyalty. I try not to let these feelings and opinions color my posts here too badly, but as I’m sure you’ve noticed I don’t always succeed.

            If I was a student at Addergoole I could not ever have any kind of positive relationship with someone who enslaved me via coercion or trickery and against my will, at least not one that wasn’t created and enforced by magic. It doesn’t matter how gently they treated me, or how pure their motives, I just couldn’t do it. I would also hate the staff with a burning passion for the rest of my life.

            As a reader, I can forgive student Keepers if they’re portrayed sympathetically enough, because they’re kids and kids are allowed to make mistakes. Especially considering the environment they’re in almost forces them into those mistakes. On the other hand, even as a reader I can’t forgive the staff. I have a strong sense of respect and trust for teachers as the givers of knowledge and guides to the next generation. With that, I can’t see the actions and inactions of the teachers and staff at Addergoole as anything but a massive betrayal. I don’t think there’s anything the author could do to redeem them in my eyes.

            I respect that others may not feel as strongly or in the same way regarding this, and I won’t hold that against anyone, but I can’t help how I feel about it. Obviously I’m not militant regarding these opinions, otherwise I’d be condemning author rather then just the characters (to be clear, I’m NOT doing that. I have nothing but respect for the author and enjoy the stories very much).

  4. Inventrix says:

    YEAR SIXTEEEEEEEEEEEEEN

    • Inventrix says:

      I am sorry, that was the most useless comment ever. XD

      I bet Moore and Noam would have gotten along really well, if they’d attended at the same time.

      Drina is being interesting. I’m wondering how much of this is an attempt at self-defense, and how much is her actually trying to help Moore?

  5. DMoore says:

    I feel happy that you would name a character of Addergoole after me even if it wasnt on purpose. And I am interested in seeing where this leads…

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