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#937680 - 09/18/17 07:09 PM Re: Young Legion - A Tale of Earth-K2 [Re: Klar Ken T5477]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Klar Ken T5477 Offline
Klar Ken T5477  Offline

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Posts: 1,414
Paradise Valley

“We have a latecomer,” said Cosmic Boy. “A walk-in.”

The space-flyer landed quietly in the parking lot. A young man climbed out, at no older than Cosmic Boy.

She was blonde, a little pudgy, and obviously struggled somewhat with acne. In fact, she most resembled a fairer young Cera Kesh-- unfamiliar to the Members, as she did not exist in this Universe.

The young Founders resumed their places on the dais.

“I am Jenifer Jahnson,” the young girl introduced herself. “My father is Ennis Jahnson, a metahuman with the ability to transform humans into animals, and animals into humans, who runs the exclusive resort world Jahnson’s Planet. My mother is Dori Aandraison, once known as Rainbow Girl, a metahuman with the power of super-charisma. My big sister, Meredith, has no super-powers, but through a remarkable set of circumstances, is Queen of Faeryland. A Queen, of a Faeryland.”

“I, on the other hand, have inherited my parent’s metahuman tendencies. I have the power to super-cutify animals.”

“I’m sorry,” said Saturn Girl. “Cutify?”

“I make them cuter,” said Jenifer. “Permanently.”

She pulled a small, bedraggled kitten out of a large coat pocket. It was sad, skinny and wretched-looking. The creature’s fur was short, badly matted, and balding in places, one ear half-missing, one eye scarred shut. It looked like it had lost every fight it had ever been in. “I picked up this poor little guy at a rescue shelter on Mars. They told me he’s been pretty sick during his short life, but he’s had all his shots now. They have done all they can for him. Of course, no one wants to adopt him. He will suffer the fat of all abandoned pets that the Shelter can’t sell.”

Lightning Lass gasped.

“That’s right,” said Jenifer. “He’ll be sent to Cornfield, Planet of the Feral Animals. But wait! Now, I apply my powers.”

The kitten’s ear and eye healed. His eyes grew large and round. His skinny body fleshed out and rounded, and its coat grew sleek, and then long and fluffy. The grey and brown fur gradually brightened into rainbow colors. He was so adorable, he seemed to glow.

“How precious!” cried Lightning Lass. “Can I keep him?” Jenifer handed the kitten over to Dacey, his new owner.

“Yes!” cried Saturn Girl. “I see it now! This is what the Super Hero Club was founded for! This is our destiny! We will travel the Galaxy, rescuing abandoned kittens and puppies and cats and dogs, even turtles and reptiles and fish and birds! Jenifer will cutify them all and we will give them away to new homes, where they will be lovingly taken care of. We’ll even sell some of them. The Super Hero Club will even be self-funding!”


But this is just an imaginary story.

In the real Earth-K2 Universe, Jenifer never joined the Super Hero Club. In fact, she may have never been born.



Oh, wait. Because so many people are such better writers than I am, a little side-trip, if you are interested.
The Colors of Evil

And so it was. And they lived happily ever after.

Last edited by Klar Ken T5477; 09/18/17 07:11 PM.

I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#937681 - 09/18/17 07:15 PM Re: Young Legion - A Tale of Earth-K2 [Re: Klar Ken T5477]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Klar Ken T5477 Offline
Klar Ken T5477  Offline

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Paradise Valley

“We have a latecomer,” said Cosmic Boy. “A walk-in.”

The space-flyer landed quietly in the parking lot. A young man climbed out, at least as old as the Ranzz twins. He was simply dressed, in a dark-gray long-sleeved t-shirt, black jeans, and black boots. In contrast to his drab clothing, his face was extraordinary: evenly split in half, one side lavender, with black hair, one side tan, with flaming red hair. His eyes were two different shades of blue.

“I know him!” said Cosmic Boy. “Hey, I know you,” he told the young man. “Your dads are friends with my dad. You came to my birthday party once-- five or so years ago? Afterward, the two of us played video games together for hours, while our folks talked.” He turned to Saturn Girl and Lightning Lass. “You weren’t there,” he said. “That was one of the ones you missed.”

“Yeah,” said Lightning Lass, “We’ve occasionally been jerks to you, and you’ve reciprocated.”

“I’m Ted Rivolkane,” the boy introduced himself to the Ranzzes. “Hello, everybody,” he said to everyone else.

“You’re a… pi-something,” said Cosmic Boy. “Something cool.”

“Piebald chimaeric fusion,” Ted replied. “My dads wanted me to be unique, and I kind of am.”

“His dads were once members of the Legion Academy, too,” said Cosmic Boy. “Gravity Kid and… Powerhouse?”

“Gravity Kid and Power Lad,” said Ted. “But that was a long time ago. I more or less have their combined abilities. I can independently affect the gravitational or inertial mass of any object.”

“Just what exactly does that mean?” asked Lightning Lass. “Practically, I mean.”

“If I increase inertial mass, an object becomes stronger,” Ted explained. “Decreasing it makes the object light, even insubstantial. Decreasing gravitational mass makes it float, increasing it makes it fall. I can also re-shape gravitational fields, making things fall up, or sideways, for instance. And I should be able to do the same with the Higgs field, but we’re not sure what that would look like. My dads suggest I call myself Mass Master.”

“What do you think, Saturn Girl?” said Ten. “Here’s another meta-human that can alter fundamental, universal forces. Cosmic Boy seems to vouch for him. We’re all here, I say we vote on his membership right now.”

“Slow down a minute,” said Ted / Mass Master. “My dads were members of the Legion Academy. I’m not really confident in the control of my power, yet. I was hoping to spend some time in your academy?”

“Well… er… we don’t actually have an Academy yet,” said Saturn Girl. “We’re just barely starting out our ourselves...”

"Maybe that's what the Super Hero Club should be," said Lightning Lass. "A kind of by-your-own-bootstraps Legion Academy."

“Oh, well, what…” said Ted / Mass Master. “What…’

But he was interrupted by a high-pitched, keening, pulsing, ululating shrieking.

I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#937791 - 09/21/17 08:31 AM Re: Young Legion - A Tale of Earth-K2 [Re: Klar Ken T5477]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Klar Ken T5477 Offline
Klar Ken T5477  Offline

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Paradise Valley

The young girl materialized out of thin air, her clothing varicolored and flamboyant. She was accompanied by a bright green rooster.

“I am Princess Pollita of Tharn, the New Sorcerer’s World,” she announced.

“Another walk-in applicant!” said Matter-Eater Lad Two. “Or rather, teleporting in.”

“Oh, don’t misunderstand,” said Princess Pollita, “I am no applicant. I’m only a messenger. I have no super-powers, or even magical powers. I am merely the caretaker of Chanticleer,” she indicated the green rooster. “When he crows, he teleports, and can take others with him. I have been tasked with inviting you to stand before the First General Coventry of Tharn. They have been debating sending a magical acolyte to become a member of your New Legion.”

“Actually,” said Saturn Girl, “It’s just a Super Hero Club. And following tradition, it is the applicant who comes here for the audition.”

“One does not ordinarily reject an invitation from the Councilours First General Coventry,” said Princess Pollita. “Still, I am unable to transport you there without your consent, so if I must return to the Council alone and empty-handed, I must.”

“You know, a magical member might be interesting,” said Ffiona, “Even if only a sorcerer’s apprentice.”

“I think Ffarrah once spoke of Adventure,” said Cosmic Boy. “A strange, magical world sounds like it might be at least a small adventure.”

“I advise caution,” said Ten. “Magic is difficult to understand, predict, or control.”

“I agree with my charge,” said Mr. Andrews.

“I’m not sure you get a vote, Mr. Andrews,” said Ffiona.

“Well, has it come to that?” said Saturn Girl. “I propose a vote then. But it needs to be unanimous- we all go, or no one goes. All in favor?”

Ten hands went up. Saturn Girl gradually raised her own.

“Well, ‘Forever and ever farewell, Cassius’,” said Ten. “‘If we do meet again, why we shall smile.’ I suppose I am coming too,” he raised his hand. “And don’t forget Mr. Andrews, Princess.”

The rooster crowed, the air shimmered.

And Ted Rivolkane, the Mass Master, was left alone.

I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#937792 - 09/21/17 08:39 AM Re: Young Legion - A Tale of Earth-K2 [Re: Klar Ken T5477]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Klar Ken T5477 Offline
Klar Ken T5477  Offline

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Paradise Valley

The old sorcerer was looking well. His hair and beard 'of formal cut' were well-trimmed, and more gray than white. He wore a modern ‘French Court’ style business suit, in a subtle pinstripe. He looked as though he smelled of peppermint and Macassar oil. His absurd hat, the green fez with eagle’s wings and a great red ruby eye, sat discreetly beside him on the table.

“Welcome, young people, I am Lord Mordru, Chair of the First General Coventry of Tharn, the New Sorcerer’s World; Chief Executive of the Council, and Arch-Chancellor.” He smiled. “Allow me to introduce the other members of the Coventry. From my far right: Counselor Rincewind, Professor Leitseid, Thane Fitzneron, The Sensei, Karannat, and Falco Columbarius. From my far left: Mariam Abraxas, Lady Leshove, Nagromma, Viviane Inwidu, Capella, and The Manananggal. We have invited you to Tharn, as we are considering placing one of our apprentices in you charge. Oh, my, an objection already? The Chair recognizes Rincewind.”

“Why does it have to my Occultress?” Counselor Rincewind whined. He was a slight, stooped man with gray 'Fu-Manchu' moustaches and a scraggly beard. “Why not Strego Stefano, or Zauberlein, or La Bruja Amarilla?”

“All excellent suggestions,” said Lord Mordru. “That is precisely the matter this committee is to take up. The Chair recognized Nagromma.”

Nagromma was somehow hard to look at, as if out of focus. “Might we ask the Durlan to assume some other form?” she asked. “His current appearance is offensive to some of us, as it resembles the Demons of Avalon.”

“Would you oblige her?” asked Mordru, kindly.

Chameleon looked around for an appropriate alternate form. He settled on the Triplicate Girls, choosing shades of purple and gold for his costume slightly different from the ones they were wearing.

Ffey giggled. “Now there are four of us,” she said. “We’ll have to call you Ffameleon.”

“Is there any other old business before we attend to the business at hand?” asked Mordru.

The Coventry was silent.

“Very well, then. You, young people, have appeared before us. We have even now taken your measure, through our refined senses,” said Mordru. “I think I speak for us all, when I say you seem persons of good character. As a group, you display many positive virtues, especially courage. We believe you to be trustworthy and honorable. The portents do foresee any untoward dangers in your immediate future. I believe we can commit one of our acolytes to your care, to begin to experience the worlds beyond the Sorcerer’s World. Understand that this will be a temporary appointment, no more than two or three years.” Lord Mordru turned and addressed the Board. “Counselor Rincewind has objected to sending his Occultress to Mars. Perhaps Professor Leitseid would be more generous with his pupil, Zauberlein?”

“She has only the most narrow and elementary understanding of the mystic arts,” said Professor Leitseid. “But if she will continue her theoretical studies on her own, I would not object to exposure to more practical experience.”

“Then let it be proposed,” said Lord Mordru. “A show of hands?”

The motion carried unanimously.

As the remainder of the Coventry filed out, Lord Mordru motioned the Members up to the stage.

“With Zauberlein, you will be thirteen,” said Lord Mordru. “A propitious number.” There were two large bronze gates behind his throne. “These transport gates will take us anywhere on the Sorcerer’s World in an instant,” he explained. “A perquisite of the office. Please accompany me to Miss Zauberlein’s dormitory. Outside it, of course. We will knock bfore entering.”

The gates opened, and Lord Mordru and the Members walked through.

I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#937795 - 09/21/17 08:51 AM Re: Young Legion - A Tale of Earth-K2 [Re: Klar Ken T5477]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Klar Ken T5477 Offline
Klar Ken T5477  Offline

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Paradise Valley

The first thing they noticed was that their flight belts had not come through the gate with them. Neither had Mr. Andrews. They were in a large, drab, and smoky warehouse, with a distinct chemical odour in the air.

“This is our Thaumaturgy and Alchemist’s shop,” said Lord Mordru. “The largest such Factory on this world.”

There were some three dozen workers, seated at tables, doing close work, or standing, operating machinery. They mostly appeared in late middle age, and all seemed tired and worn, with dark, sunken eyes. Many spots of clothes and fingers were burned or chemically discolored. There was an undeniable overall griminess to their appearance.

“Come,” said Lord Mordru, “We have found you the positions of employment with which you will be most comfortable.”

Saturn Girl and Lightning Lass were seated with a woman who appeared to be their mother, and two doppelgangers of themselves. Imra Ranzz pointed out their father across the room, a one-armed blacksmith, with Garridan and Graym operating the forge and bellows.

Cosmic Boy was put with his parents as well, and another Pol Krinn, carefully measuring chemicals out with eyedroppers, according to ancient, yellowed recipe pages.

Shrinking Violet was placed at the next table, with Salu Digby, and Ayla Ranzz.

The four Triplicate Girls (including Ffameleon) were placed under the apprenticeship of a Mr. Taine, a slender, badly wrinkled, jowly man who seldom spoke, except to give curt orders or corrections. He was assembling what appeared for all the world to be watch-parts, into small, bizarre machines according to some weathered blueprints.

Phantom Girl was assigned to work with the Nah family: Jo, Tinya, Ronin, and Arna.

Matter-Eater Lad Two found himself with Tenzil and Eve Kem.

Polar Lass was assigned to work with the Bannins.

Ten found himself at loose ends, in a child-care center off the main factory, with Freski and Froyd Bannin, Violet Ranzz-Digby, two little, blonde three-year-old sisters, both named Glorith, and a little Orandan girl known only as ‘Princess’. The nursery was supervised by two middle-aged Chinese ladies who insisted on being called 'Good Ms. Marya' and 'Good Ms. Li'. One wall of the nursery was rather disturbing, as it appeared to house a massive aquarium, containing a single, torpid, ill-looking Hykraian.

Once each day, the little group of children would march out for lunch, and eat in the cafeteria with the teen-agers and grown-ups. There was very little that a Coluan might eat, but Ten satisfied himself with a colored, sugary gel which was available every day.

On their walk back, they always passed another Coluan, a long-haired adult dressed in motley, bells, and fool's-cap, who sat murmuring to himself, occasionally breaking out in spasms of Tourette’s: mad laughter or profanity. There was a small, oval metal box next to the Coluan that continually muttered, “He does not like this place, oh, no, oh, no, he does not” over and over again, as a little light blinked on and off.

They worked ten hours a day for seven days, and rested on the eighth. Their homes were a ten- or twenty- minute walk from the Factory, in a little isolated ghetto. If they came a half-hour early to work, they were given breakfast, usually porridge, occasionally with warm, fatty bacon. If they stayed an hour late, they were served a meager dinner, just enough to drive the hunger pangs away. They often took advantage of this benefit, as there was little time for cooking between work and exhausted sleep.

It was also easier to eat their meals at work, because keeping food in their houses meant another half-hour walk to the town market, operated by ill-tempered goblins. None of the workers ever explored past the market, into the unnamed town beyond: the days were too short, sleep was at a premium, and there was water to bring in from the communal well.

If they were late to work, they were beaten by their taskmasters, Zoe and Thanat Saugin, (whose names meant Life and Death). They were fiercely loyal to Lord Mordru, and had a clear sadistic streak. If they fell asleep at their posts, or were otherwise thought to be slacking off, they were happily beaten.

Many of the jobs seemed menial and pointless. They would be called upon to sort chips of corundum into piles of red, blue, and purple. Then they would need to sort the red chips into burgundy, scarlet, and pink. Sometimes they would be asked to take one color, and sort it yet again. Sometimes, in the middle of a task, the Saugins would pull them off to an entirely different task. Shrinking Violet once found herself pasting together tiny scraps of old parchment into pieces large enough to make labels.

Other work was purely dangerous, such as working with the furnace. Certain chemical compounds would sometimes emit harsh, choking gases.

It was only after a couple of weeks that the spell began to wear off, and the Members began to look around, and perceiving at last that this was not how their lives had always been. Something was very wrong.

I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#937846 - 09/22/17 07:00 PM Re: Young Legion - A Tale of Earth-K2 [Re: Klar Ken T5477]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Klar Ken T5477 Offline
Klar Ken T5477  Offline

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Paradise Valley

It was only after a couple of weeks that the spell began to wear off, and the Members began to look around, and perceiving at last that this was not how their lives had always been. Something was very wrong.

It was a few days after the second time that Lord Mordru had returned to gloat.

The sun was setting on Eighthday, and Pol Krinn and the Ranzz twins were sitting in the little alley between their two small homes.

“It’s this place,” said Pol. “It’s because of this place that we don’t have powers.”

“It’s not just us,” said Dacey. “Cargggans, Braaliens, Bgztlrs, Saturnians, Bismollians… They've never had powers. They don't remember ever having powers. Hillarie and Mr. Kem eat normal food, just like the rest of us. It isn’t natural.”

“You’ve noticed, haven't you,” said Dorrit, “It's not just our parents here. It’s all the old Legion. Everybody here. Somehow, Mordru has gathered them all together, without them realizing it, and stripped them of their powers. Retroactively.”

“Yeah,” said Dacey. “I’ve been trying to identify everybody. That green jester is Brainiac Five-- but without his super-intelligence. Without even human intelligence, really. And I’m sure that little box beside him used to be called Quislet. Somehow, Mordru has... ensorcelled them all, is keeping them prisoner here.”

“That’s not quite right,” said Pol. “I was talking to Dad. There never was a Legion. He’s been working in this place since childhood. Recruited from Braal when he was only fourteen. He’s never been back. Mom was recruited a little later. He calls this place Tharn, but he’s never heard it called Sorcerer’s World. It's not just their powers-- he's messed with their minds and memories, too.”

"No, I don't think he's messed with their minds," said Dorrit. "I think he's messed with time. I think this is some kind of parallel Universe where the past was different: no extraterrestrial human colonists ever gained powers, and therefore, no Legion."

“You’re right. I don’t think our parents are our parents at all,” said Dacey. “Only some kind of weird alternate-reality doppelgangers. They may have started out similarly to our parents, but their spirits are completely broken. I’ve tried bringing up leaving the factory, but they won’t even hear of it.”

“Yeah, because why is there another Pol, and another Dorrit, and another Dacey?” said Pol. “They come from here, but we come from… there.”

“And why are there two Gloriths?” said Dacey. “You know, those little identical twin sisters that run around with Ten. But Glorith-- he Legion’s Glorith-- ought to be only a few years younger than Mom and Dad, not a little baby. They just don’t fit.”

“I can't figure the age difference. But maybe one of them is from here and one of them is from there,” said Dorrit. “Like us. There are two Bloks, too, you know..”

“Blok?” asked Dacey.

“Those two big stone statues that guard the door,” said Dorrit. “The door back to the Sorcerer’s World. Only they’re not statues. I know they look empty, lifeless… like burned-out volcanoes. But I’ve seen them move. They… tense up, if anyone walks near the doors, even the Saugins.”

“Glorith… Blok… I wonder if they came from the other Sorcerer’s World with Mordru,” said Dacey. “That would make sense. Only then there should be two Mysas as well, and there’s only one. The two Gloriths live with her and her sister, Nura.”

“Maybe the other Mysa is dead,” said Dorrit.

“No, that can’t be right,” said Pol. “It’s not just who is here. It’s who is not here. I asked Dad if he ever knew anyone called Lyle Norg. He seemed surprised. Said he’d come to work at the factory at about the same time as Dad, but died in a terrible accident. I asked him about Douglas Nolan. Same story. Poor boy, terribly disfigured. Also died at a young age. There is no Legionnaire here who is dead in the our world. The details of the past may be different, but it all leads to the same outcome.”

“Look at our father,” said Dorrit. “His right arm is missing, just as if there wasn’t the technology here to re-grown one.”

“And how do Aunt Salu and Aunt Ayla have a baby?” said Dacey. “The technology doesn’t seem to exist here-- it’s like the dark ages. But they do. And they've lived in the Factory their whole lives.”

“I don’t think this place is real,” said Dorrit. “It’s a copy of our world-- only the past is different. Only I think that the past has only been different for a little while.”

“There’s one other thing,” said Pol. “I can’t use my magnetic powers, but I still have my infra-red and quantum magno-vision. I haven’t been reverted to complete, Earth-base human.”

“Yeah, I notice I still have my ‘shark-sense’,” said Dacey. Pol gave her a questioning look. “You know. I can ‘smell’ electric fields.”

“I think Mordru made a mistake. He only cancelled the powers he knows about. Dacey and I still share our permanent telepathic mind-link,” said Dorrit. “That’s been a comfort.”

“Wait,” said Pol, looking at the two girls. “You two have a permanent telepathic mind-link?” Pol quickly ran through all the conversations he could remember having with one twin while the other was not present.

“Um, yeah,” said Dacey. “Didn’t we ever mention it?”

“Do you think you could link with the other Dacey and Dorrit?” Pol wondered.

“I wouldn’t want to try it,” said Dacey. “They’re so afraid of Mordru… if we have an advantage he doesn’t know about… well, maybe we can use it to escape.”

“He’s suppressed all the super-powers he knows about,” said Dorrit. “He ignored super-senses.”

“And he’s been careless with us,” said Pol. “He’s relaxed his mind-control. Our parents may still under his influence... No, I think he's broken them, and they just don't have the spirit to resist. Either he thinks it will be the same with us, or... He doesn’t think we’re important. But then why go to all the trouble to bring us here?”

“Yep,” said Dorrit. “I just took a peek out the other Dacey’s eyes. I was quick; she didn’t even know I was there. But she and the other Dorrit mind-talk all the time. They keep it a secret from Mordru, but they feel guilty about it.”

“So if Mordru brought people here from the real Sorcerer’s World, why aren’t there two Mordrus?”

“Maybe there are,” said Dacey.

“No, not possible,” said Dorrit. “Otherwise, he wouldn’t have to come here every week. He’d already be here.”

“Maybe,” said Pol, “Mysa is the other Mordru. Or vice versa.”

That gave everyone a pause, and a chill, and the three friends stopped talking, and went home.

I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#937847 - 09/22/17 07:04 PM Re: Young Legion - A Tale of Earth-K2 [Re: Klar Ken T5477]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Klar Ken T5477 Offline
Klar Ken T5477  Offline

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Paradise Valley


“I can’t stand this food,” said Hillarie Norjay to his foster-parents. “It tastes of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen. The same four elements over and over again, with little variation. It may look different from time to time, but it all tastes the same.”

“I know, son,” said Tenzil Kem. “I’ve had the same problem for twenty-five years. “But you have to keep up your strength. The work is hard here.”

“Hard work is good,” said a voice in Hillarie’s ear. “If you were not working hard, we would not be doing are job,” said Thanat Saugin.

“It’s Sevenday Night,” said Hillarie. “Would you mind if I went over to the Bannins for a little while?”

Eve Kem smiled. “Of course, dear. But don’t stay out too late. Tomorrow is our only day to clean up the house. And I was hoping to be able to go to the market-- maybe find a special treat for you and your father.” She gasped, and put her hand over her mouth.

“Sorry, son,” said Tenzil Kem. “It’s just… after all these weeks with us, we’ve come to think of you as our own child.”

“It’s OK,” said Hillarie Norjay. There had been a time when the thought of being the son of the President of Bismoll would have seemed like a fantasy come true to him. But seeing them like this-- gaunt and worn, a woman who had once been considered the most beautiful First Lady in the history of Bismoll… It was depressing. They were less than ordinary. He thought of his own parents, his brother and sisters, fondly now. The only bright spot in his life now was Kylda.

The Bannins always took a warm and comfortable seat near the furnace and forge. Hillarie hurried over after dinner.

“Would you mind if I came over again tonight?” he asked the Bannins. Mr. and Mrs. Bannin nodded, and their daughter giggled. Their son rolled his eyes.

But Kylda Zimm stood up quickly, and told her guardians, “Hillarie and I will walk home together.”

They walked hand in hand, Hillarie perspiring in the warm summer evening, and Kylda wrapped in furs, barely suppressing shivers.

“Are you cold?” asked Hillarie. “I’m sorry, of course you are. You’re always cold.”

“Not when I’m with you,” said Kylda, pulling him closer. Her ice-blue eyes stared into his green ones, and the next thing they knew, they were kissing.

Little Freski Bannin’s giggling brought them back to reality. They turned and walked casually down the road, as if they had not just been kissing in the middle of it.

Kylda laughed quietly.

“What are you laughing at?” asked Hillarie. “Am I so funny?”

“You are funny,” said Kylda, “But I was just thinking of that silly old nursery rhyme.”

His eyes are as green as fresh pickled toad,
His hair is as dark as a blackboard.

“That describes you to a jott,” she said.

“<And I know how that old nursery rhyme ends>,” thought Hillarie. “<‘The Hero that conquered the Dark Lord’. But I’m not doing any conquering, and I’m a Hero in name only.>”

The Bannins always had a huge fire going in their fireplace, and their home was hot and smoky inside. The family gathered close around the fire, but for Hillarie’s sake, he and Kylda sat far back against the opposite wall, sharing a chair. The six sat silently, watching the flames.

“You may always feel cold,” Hillarie whispered to Kylda, “But you’re hot to me.”

“You may feet hot,” Kylda whispered back, “But I think you’re cool.”

It was their little game.

“Do you think you ever could live on Tharr, where the temperature never drops below 90 celsius?” asked Kylda.

“No,” said Hillarie, “Do you think you could ever live on Bismoll, where the temperature never gets above 40 celsius, and there is nothing to eat but rocks?”

“No, honestly” Kylda replied.

“Star-crossed lovers,” said Hillarie. “But at least, we’ll always have Tharn.”

“I’m afraid that may be literally true,” said Kylda. “Neither of us may ever see our homeworlds again.”

“Would that be so bad?” Hillarie asked.

Kylda Zimm sat silently.

“So what is there to do for fun on Tharn on a Seventhday Night?” asked Hillarie.

“We could sit by the fire. We could go to sleep,” said Kylda. “We could get up, do the once-a-week household chores, then we eat, we sleep, we get up on Firstday and go back to work.”

“That’s one of the problems with this place,” said Hillarie. “No variety.”

He stood up with Kylda, and went over to the couch where the Bannins were sitting.

“Have you ever heard of Fire Fairies?” he asked.

“Fairies aren’t real,” said Froyd.

“I don’t know,” said Hillarie, “We have goblins down at the Market. But Fire Fairies are very real, and they come out whenever a fire is kindled-- in a store, or fireplace, or even a candle. Now, look at the fire, especially around the edges, where the coals have burned down, to red and orange and yellow embers. If you look long enough, you’ll begin to see little shapes. Little people maybe, or horses or lizards or birds. They’re always changing, so you have to pay attention.”

“I see them,” said Freski. “They’re really there!”

Even Froyd was impressed. “Hey, yeah, what do you think of that?” he said.

“Oh!” Freski jumped. “I saw a dragon jump out at me! But it shrank, and now it’s only a kitten.”

“Sometimes,” said Hillarie, “When I stare into the fire, the Fire Fairies act out a story for me. Would you like me to tell you what I see?”

Freski and Froyd nodded. Even Kylda seemed to be paying attention.

I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
#937848 - 09/22/17 07:05 PM Re: Young Legion - A Tale of Earth-K2 [Re: Klar Ken T5477]  
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Klar Ken T5477 Offline
Klar Ken T5477  Offline

Joined: May 2010
Posts: 1,414
Paradise Valley

“Once upon a time,” Hillarie began,

There was a king whose kingdom was lost when it was overrun by invaders. His youngest son managed to escape, however, and took it into his mind to wander the world, seeking his fortune. He worked at jobs no king’s son would have imagined doing, feeding chickens and tending swine, or taking odd jobs helping farmers harvest their crops in the Autumn. Still he kept traveling on, seeking his fortune.

One day, he came to a castle in a strange country, where the king of the land had a remarkable custom. One of his courtiers was a celebrated trencherman, and every week-end, the king would set a great table out in front of the palace, with seating for a hundred men. At one end would sit the trencherman, and the assembled guests would try to out-eat him. Those who failed (and it as all of them) would receive ten lashes with a rod, in the presence of the king, but such was the poverty in the land that there was always a full table willing to risk a beating for one good meal.

Now the former prince had a keen eye (for, truth to tell, he had plied his trade more than once as a thief) and saw that at the trencherman’s place, there was a secret hole in the table, and fully half of all he supposedly ate was disappearing down that hole, and into some pit beneath the lawns.

The king's son continued on his journey, away from the kingdom with the cheating, wicked king, but still wishing he could find a way to teach him a lesson. That night, as he traveled through the woods, he was drawn to a fire, at which a great man was roasting four whole oxen on spits. The man was tall, and as wide as he was tall, and was he endeavoring to turn all four spits at once, and he collecting the drippings in buckets, and drinking them up while he roasted the oxen.

“Ahoy!” called the king's son. “There is a great deal of cooking going on in this woods. I suppose you expecting a great company to help you with that feast of beef?”

“Alas, no,” said the fat man. “This is scarcely an decent evening meal for me alone, my appetite is so great. I spend all day searching for food, and eat it up as soon as it is prepared. I would invite you to sup with me, but I hardly have enough for myself.”

“I eat very little,” said the king's son, “Hardly a heart, or half a liver, but if you will share with me, I will tell you of a place where you can get a hearty meal, even for you, in six days time.”

So the fat man shared his meal with the king's son, and the king's son told him of the trencherman’s challenge, and how the king cheated his own people. The fat man was outraged to hear that fully half the trencherman’s food disappeared down the secret hole in the table, for he thought it a great loss to him personally not to be able to eat it.

For the next week, the king's son helped the fat man in his search for food, cleaning the trees of berries, nuts and fruit, and catching and roasting every deer or boar or rabbit that came within their view.

However, as they made their way back to the little kingdom of the wicked king, the game became more scarce, and even the fruit trees bore little. By the day of the trencherman’s challenge, the fat man had become quite slender, and though he still stood head and shoulders taller than the prince, he was most alarmingly thin.

“Is this a skeleton or a scarecrow who comes to challenge my trencherman?” laughed the wicked king.

But the king's son’s champion matched the trencherman bite for bite, even the ones which did not make it past the trencherman’s lips. As one by one, the other challengers began to leave the table for their beatings, the fat man (for now he really was getting quite fat) took their plates, and ate their leftovers. At last the trencherman, unable to take another bite (and equally unable to dispose of his food without doing so) sat upright and frozen in his seat, as the fat man called for more and more to eat, emptying the kitchens, and even finishing the king’s own dinner.

The wicked king called up the fat man (who really was now remarkably fat) to stand before the throne.

“How came you to this country?” the wicked king inquired. “You are not from around here.”

“I owe it all to my good friend here,” replied the fat man, and motioned for the king's son to join him before the throne.

“Did you know,” said the wicked king, “That I had offered a thousand thousand pieces of gold to the man who could beat my trencherman?”

The king's son and the fat man acknowledged that they had not known this, but thanked the wicked king for his generosity.

“You’re quite the clever one,” said the wicked king to the king's son. “Your champion will receive his thousand thousand pieces of gold, and a wagon to carry them in. He may leave our kingdom in peace, provided he never returns. But you, my clever friend, will be locked in our dungeon, and next week when the trencherman’s feast is held, you will watch it hanging by your neck from our gallows.”

The king's son begged for mercy, and even the fat man offered to give back half his thousand thousand pieces of gold, if the wicked king would spare his friend’s life. But the king was adamant, and would not change his mind.

But the fat man and the prince continued to weep and plead, and at last the wicked king, just to make and end of things, declared, “If, while you are locked away in our dungeons, you can find a man who is willing to be hung in your stead on the trencherman’s day, I will give you ten thousand thousand gold pieces, and send you safely on your way.”

So the king’s son was led away to the dungeons, and the servants of the wicked king brought a wagon ten feet long and ten feet wide and five feet deep, and filled it with gold pieces, and sent the fat man on his way.

The fat man traveled as far from the little kingdom of the wicked king as he could get, and used his gold to buy a little house by the sea-side. He hired a great number of servants, to fetch him food, and prepare it day and night. The fat man himself would sit at a great table in the middle of his house, and spent all of the day and most of the night eating. Noblemen would come from all around, to sit at the great table and watch the fat man eat, and to sup on the leftovers from his meals, for which privilege they payed a gold piece a day. So the fat man’s wagon full of gold pieces dwindled very slowly.

The king’s son spent most of a week locked in the wicked king’s dungeons, and the other prisoners nodded knowingly when he told them that his crime was being too clever. The king’s son considered that he had left so seek his fortune, and that this, apparently, was it.

The day before the king’s son was to be hung, he was looking out his window, which showed him a fine view of the feet of the people who passed by on the street above. A little man with a long scarf wrapped around his neck bent down, and spoke to him.

“I am a friend of the fat man,” said the fellow, “and I believe I can help you.”

“I am afraid I am beyond help,” said the king’s son. “And why are you wearing that great scarf wrapped around your neck?”

“My neck suffers from a great stiffness,” said the little man. “As it is made of iron, and the scarf is a little comfort. But as a good hanging can only do me well, I am inclined to take your place tomorrow on the scaffold.”

The next day, the man with the iron neck presented himself to the executioner, who felt that one hanging was a good as another. He carefully measured and weight his charge, put a rope around his neck, and dropped him through the trap. When the man with the iron neck refused to die properly, the executioner hauled him up again, re-measured the rope, and dropped him through the trap again. This time the rope broke, and the man with the iron neck fell to the ground, but he obligingly climbed back up the scaffold to give the executioner another try. On the third try, there was a very satisfying jerk, but the man with the iron neck simply hung there happily, and watched the proceedings of the trencherman’s feast.

At the end of the feast, the wicked king called the man with the iron neck, the executioner to stand before the throne, and the king’s son to be brought from the dungeon. He also called for his best archer, and requested that he put an arrow through the forehead of each of the three. But the archer had heard the king’s decree concerning the king’s son, and refused to do it. Then the wicked king called his captain of the guard, and asked if he would kindly cut their hearts out, but he also refused. So the wicked king was obliged to call for ten wagons, each ten feet by ten long and ten feet wide and five feet deep, and fill them with gold, and send the king’s son, the man with the iron neck, and the executioner out of his kingdom forever.

The king’s son gave three of the wagons full of gold to the executioner, and four wagons full of gold to the man with the iron neck, who declared that his neck felt wonderfully stretched out and supple. He considered that perhaps three thousand thousand pieces of gold might be just as fine a fortune as ruling his own kingdom, and that perhaps he ought to find a place where he could stop wandering, and settle down.

On the way out of the little kingdom of the wicked king, the king’s son stopped at the last house on the last street before the open road. There was an old woman there, sweeping her steps. The king’s son inquired if she could read, and she said she could, having learned letters as a child. So the king’s son gave her a letter, sealed in wax, and told her that this was for her.

Carefully printed in the king’s son’s own hand, the letter read, “There is a hole in the table under the trencherman’s plate.”

Hillarie finished his story, and Freski and Froyd clapped their hands, but old Mr. Bannin took him aside, and told him “It would probably be better if you didn’t tell those sorts of stories anymore.”

I'm nigh invulnerable. I have the reflexes of an Olympic-level jungle cat. I have the strength of 10, perhaps 20 men: a crowded bus stop of men. But my greatest power is this: when destiny speaks, she speaks to me.
She says hi, by the way.
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