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Ice Pie [SpyxFamily][Si]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Nugar, Oct 23, 2019.

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  1. Jans

    Jans That which smiles.

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    Holy cow, what an unexpected treat! I had no idea you had written this one Nugar, and it's top shelf work! Glad I saw it pop to the top, definitely followed.

    Amusingly, I saw this manga at a glance at the bookstore yesterday for the first time. Coincidence? :O Or outside actor!?!?

    :p
     
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  2. World Reader

    World Reader I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Family X Spy is fun!

    Can’t wait to see if and how our little telepath shifts stuff around!
     
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  3. Threadmarks: Chapter ten.
    Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    xxxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxxx Start chapter ten.


    Yor came home right on time, exactly like she’d spent the day at her usual job.

    Not at all like she’d changed clothes, went out, killed a man, went to her old apartment, cleaned up, changed back, and came ‘home’.

    Papa and I were waiting for her.

    He used the excuse of taking time off from work to help prepare me for the school. Studying mostly, but also going over the interview.

    But mostly studying. And that was mostly writing drills.

    Fucking normalschrift. My hand is tired. Damn my original education in Louisiana, one of like two places in the US that does French everything, including handwriting. The stylistic difference between French ronde and German normalschrift is the difference between wiping your ass with silk and punching a man in the throat.

    In between, we covered vocabulary, mostly pronunciation. My efforts to pronounce big words was rather hit or miss.

    We also prepared a light supper, ‘abendbrot’. Papa made eintopf, which was basically a crock pot stew. Lots of carrots, potatoes, lentils, and tender chunks of pork that was falling apart into shreds. Served with warmed up brotchen, these crusty little rolls which were pretty tasty.

    Honestly, to break character for a moment, I wanted to cut the end of one off, pack it full of stew, and cram it in my face.

    Yor had this look of wonder on her face when she came in.

    “Mama’s home!” I cheered, and threw myself at her in a full body tackle-hug.

    Well, it’d be a proper glomp if I was 200% taller. As it was, it was more a glomp-let. I ended up hugging her left thigh, because she hesitated too long before bending down and catching me.

    Papa took her light coat and hung it up, before offering but not demanding a hug.

    They didn’t hug.

    Little steps.

    “Papa and I studied a lot today!” I told her. “We practiced handwriting and vocabulary,” I added, enunciating distinctly. “How was your day, Momma?”

    Whoops, a little slip there. ‘Momma’ was my first life. I was trying to go for a mix of ‘Mother’ and ‘Mama’ here.

    “It was fine,” she lied.

    She actually briefly, mentally, regretted that she had to lie, but didn’t think of any details.

    “But it’s a lot better now that I’m here.” She paused, then added, “Home.” She said it with a tone of slight wonder, like she was trying out the word and finding she liked it. The smile she gave me was super effective.

    My assassin Mama can’t be this cute?

    “Would you like to eat now, or wait a bit?” Papa asked.

    “I think I’ll change clothes and wash, so perhaps, fifteen minutes?” she replied hesitantly.

    Loid smiled and nodded. “I’ll warm the bread. What would you like to drink?”

    “Ah, water to start with, perhaps a glass of wine?”

    He nodded, and she left to change.

    I gave him a thumbs up behind her back when he glanced my way. This was happening. We were doing this.

    Soon we were sitting down and eating.

    The whole German thing of a heavy lunch and a light supper always struck me as a little weird, given the issues of having a lot of food during a working day on a lunchbreak. Easier to do on a weekend or holiday. But eintopf is much the same as any other crock pot stew, and for a moment homesickness or nostalgia or a mix of both was hitting me like a brick.

    Loid lead Yor through a bit of gentle chitchat. How was work, was anything coming up, that kind of thing.

    After supper, where they each drank one glass of wine, Loid poured them each a cup of coffee while talks turned to more pressing matters.

    Not a full on study session like we tried before, but more a general planning session for my education.

    “Music is a good idea. I don’t know how to play anything, but Anya is very bright, so her everyday studies shouldn’t take long,” Yor offered.

    Loid nodded seriously. “That’s an angle I hadn’t considered. Recitals and such could be good ways of attracting positive attention.”

    “I’m up for it,” I agreed. “But I have no experience whatsoever, and I don’t believe I’ll be able to be a prodigy in music,” I added in warning.

    In my first life, I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket. But I did like music, and young is the best age to learn.

    “We can arrange for some lessons, and try to see if there’s anything that suits you.” Loid paused, then continued. “If you find it fun, anything is possible, but for the purposes of standing out, something suitable for solo or small group performances might be best. Violin, cello, piano, or such.”

    He had a good point. I’m not much for piano, but stringed instruments are nice. Brass, too, but the days of drum and bass, or alternative pop, or electronic music where a particularly funky solo with a French horn or something can stand out is too far in the future. No, we’re in the environment of classical music. The Desmonds aren’t going to ask for a private performance from a tiny strawberry blonde girl with a tuba.

    “I wanna take fencing at some point!” I blurted.

    Germany. Home of schlager fencing. Now, getting face scars as a girl would probably be a bad idea, but they probably had women’s’ fencing somewhere. I’d fenced in college in my first life, was decentish at it. Now that I was psychic, and in alt Germany, I wanted to get my sword on.

    “Mama, you look really strong,” I added. “Can you teach me to exercise like you?”

    Yor smiled at me. “That’s a great idea, Anya. I’d love to spend time with you. It’s important for a young woman to be fit and agile. Instead of music, we might also look into ballet.”

    Loid nodded, his lips drawn down into an impressed expression. “Yes, that’s a great idea. Do you know ballet, Dear?”

    She blushed just a touch at his endearing nickname. “I haven’t danced in years, but yes, I did ballet during my training. It’s a wonderful way to learn balance, flexibility, and timing.”

    Training. Not ‘schooling’. Ballet trained assassins.

    Not going to lie, that sounded cool as hell. Anyone who thinks ballet is a thing for girly girls has never gotten a good look at a ballerina’s legs.

    Or their fucked up feet, with calluses like a back-swamp coonass who only wears shoes to church.

    “That sounds fun, Mama!” I agreed enthusiastically. I mean, I wouldn’t mind learning the violin. But I’d love to learn physical stuff from Yor.

    I finally had a plan to bond with assassin-mom!

    We wrapped things up fairly soon after that. There were still things to memorize, plans to show certain family traits and such, but the most important thing was internalizing it. Not just pretending to be a character, but internalizing it.

    Living it.

    And so far?

    We were doing great!

    Yor relaxed into the setting. Loid wasn’t as tense. I wasn’t stuck trying to mediate between them.

    It genuinely felt nice. Almost like a real family. Being friendly acquaintances was the first step to real trust, and I was fucking STOKED at the idea of being psychic Penny Gadget to Loid’s James Bond and Yor’s Femme Nikita.

    We tried watching some TV, but it was a mix of weird Ostanian propaganda-news, some sort of long running drama, a family comedy sitcom, a sort of action-thriller about spies, and a mix of things like business reports and documentary stuff.

    None of it grabbed our attentions. Loid got his news elsewhere. Yor just didn’t watch TV and seemed almost as perplexed by it as she did the opera. I was somewhat interested by the documentary stuff, but the one that was on at the time was about African lions, and you can only deal with a few years of Big Cat Week before you get pretty tired of lions, especially low tech, low detail stuff made for general audiences.

    I was eyeing the bookshelf pretty hard, and I think Loid was, too, when Yor, the physical one of us, suggested we get some air and go to the park. It was still early evening, still plenty of light outside, so we agreed.

    Yor took us a ways away via a cab ride, to a park she knew of outside the main city hub.

    Surprisingly, it was more like New York City Central Park and less like some grey eastern Europe plot of scraggly trees, trash, and desperate proles sleeping in corners.

    Actually, it was pretty nice. One of the things I still can’t figure out about this place is how a country that reminds me so much of communist East Germany can be so full of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Like, from Loid’s thoughts, and possibly something to do with Yor’s secret profession, there’s definitely a secret police, spying, surveillance, and quiet ‘disappearances’ of regular citizens in the background.

    But it’s almost like some sort of weird superhero thing, where there’s villains and heroes and they fight, but other than major events, regular people aren’t involved. I never overhear thoughts of like, ‘Gotta look normal, or I’ll end up in the gulag,’ type stuff. I’ve never caught anyone thinking ‘well if I turn in my neighbor for being a spy, the suspicion will be off me for at least a few months’.

    On the other hand, I have overheard a fair amount of nationalistic thoughts, especially at that political rally that was so nasty. And Loid, an agent for the OTHER country, Westalis, wouldn’t be here and busy as a one legged man in an ass kicking contest if there wasn’t reason.

    Also, Yor’s thoughts about her assassin job implied she was called up two or three times a month.

    So I really do not have a good understanding of what’s going on around me.

    But for the moment, we were in a nice cobblestone square on top of a hill, overlooking a sloped forest on one side and residential buildings on the other. Kids a bit older than me played soccer in the street. People went about their business, looking neither hurried nor afraid.

    “I don’t come here often, but when I’m particularly tired, and just feel down, I find myself here,” Yor explained as we gathered at the railing keeping people from falling down the slope.

    It was concrete, not something really expensive like wrought iron or stone, but it had actual aesthetic shape, and wasn’t like brutalist slats or something.

    “I had no idea this place existed,” Loid admitted. “It’s lovely.”

    “I like it,” I agreed. “It has people, but it’s not too crowded. And the air smells fresh.” The streets and sidewalks had people walking or riding bicycles, and a few scooters and motorcycles in the distance, but there were nearly no cars. No car noise, no exhaust fumes.

    If this was the goal, maybe people in the FuckCars movement had a point.

    “When I remember that what I do is helping all these people, it gives me the energy to go back to work,” Yor said quietly.

    An idealistic assassin? Killer with a heart of gold?

    I want to sneer, but then I really look at her, Loid doing the same behind me.

    Yor Briar is a lovely woman. Not really ‘young’. Even though she’s just in her mid to late twenties, she mostly comes off as self-assured and driven, even when she’s out of her element. I have no eye for fashion but she always dresses chic. Like you could photograph her at any point and put her in the pages of any women’s magazine. Beautiful and attractive, but not in a way that begs for attention. Sexual without being sexy, just dressed for the weather and for the pleasure of looking good, without inviting comment or approach.

    In my mind, she looked upper crust, but without throwing money around. She was so impressive I was a little intimidated. In another world, she’d have been way out of my league. In this one, she felt more like an impossible ideal to strive for. Seriously, virtually none of the ‘Bond girls’ in the films could stand beside her without looking like a cheap imitation.

    Loid wasn’t thinking aloud, but I got the feeling that he, too, was impressed.

    She was an assassin, though. Objectively, that’s a bad thing. How she manages to function without becoming sociopathic or jaded in sheer self-defense mystifies me. The only other mental state I’m aware of that allows people to kill often without turning into an emotionally deadened monster is to be a fanatic for some sort of cause.

    Maybe? She believes she’s doing it for the good of the regular people.

    But hell, Loid is clearly killing people on occasion, too. And he genuinely believes he’s doing it as an only choice to protect people at large. Sort of a ‘greater good’ philosophy.

    Generally, I’m with the people who eye ‘greater good’ arguments with skepticism. It’s fine to say ‘greater good’ until you’re the one getting sacrificed. And also, the people inclined to ‘greater good’ type arguments never include themselves in the pool of potential sacrifices, because they’re too ‘necessary’. The whole thing is shaky, built on a house of cards rolling down a highway paved with good intentions. Scary shit, and absolutely the kind of thing I’m inclined to go against.

    But… what if it’s real this time?

    That’s a question I can’t yet answer, and equally can’t unthink.

    I mean, look around me. Non-shithole East Germany? Happy, prosperous people?

    What if their efforts really are what’s enabling this?

    Because… it kinda seems like it is? From my outsider perspective, this place is nice.

    Then it becomes more of a ‘Those who walk away from Omelas’ situation.

    Because as a US citizen, aware of the problems but still devoted to the freedoms… Murder ain’t right. I have no idea what sort of person I’d be if I was actually a native to the situation, but with my current set of experiences and morals, I’d absolutely leave Omelas. No amount of happiness is worth the sacrifice of one innocent. No matter how many people rely on it, no matter how many would die, or be miserable, or how many evils would rise without it, nothing is worth one innocent life.

    I could never get into Star Trek. Prime directive, greater good, none of that bullshit.

    Fuck your happiness. I matter. My choice matters. And so does his, and hers, and everyone’s.

    But… what if you’re sacrificing the people who want to sacrifice others? What if Omelas wasn’t powered by the pain of an innocent child.

    What if, instead, it merely required the lack of privacy of a larger group of people who are mostly thought to be varying degrees of evil? A few innocents get mixed in, but generally don’t get anything worse than having their secrets gone through. And virtually no true innocents get caught up in the purges. The assassination targets are the most evil, problematic people they’re able to target. Some real shitheads get missed, a few less guilty people inadvertently get murdered. But they’re trying their best.

    In a perfect world, no. My morals say that no amount of innocent blood is acceptable. But, better though this world is compared to my last, it’s still clearly not a perfect Heaven.

    ‘Better that ten guilty people escape than one innocent suffer.’

    Blackstone’s ratio.

    This is a better world, so what would the ratio be here? One hundred to one? A thousand?

    Even at a thousand to one, for every million violent crimes, you’d have a thousand innocents on the chopping block.

    I have no idea what the Ostanian crime rate is like, but would the accidental murder of ten innocents a year be a rate the population at large would accept?

    In my original world, I guarantee it. They accept a lot worse than that. Here, in a world with better overall karma?

    I’m not even six years old. I can’t make good judgements on this.

    Loid is a good person. Yor is a good person.

    I guess I just have to accept what I’m given, and do the best I can with it.

    Shouting from below caught my attention.

    “He took my purse!” an old lady screamed as a man sprinted away down the sidewalk.

    “She should have been more careful,” Loid noted callously, dismissing the crime as something he couldn’t do anything about.

    Huh, well, no place is every completely free of HOLY SHIT

    Yor went over the railing and down the slope like a police malinois going after a protester of color. I mean holy shit that is batman comic fast. Not quite anime flash step but definitely faster than any parkour efforts I’ve ever seen. She didn’t slide, she RAN down the grassy slopes, slowing herself down by landing hard on the switchbacks of level sidewalk and stairs that terraced the side of the hill away from the trees.

    The soles of her trendy, fashionable leather short boots, with low heel I might add, made heavy THWOK sounds as she hit each section of sidewalk, braking to lower speeds before hurtling down the next slope, her war cry of “You’ll pay for that, thief!’ splitting the air.

    “Ah. We’d better-“ Loid began, picking me up.

    “Yeah,” I agreed, too surprised to really react as the spy began running with me in his arms.

    We went down the slope at considerably lower speed, breaking off from Yor’s path to hopefully cut the corner and catch up with her faster.

    For their part, both the thief and Yor disappeared around a corner, their footfalls quickly fading out.

    Yor came back briefly to check on the old woman, and Loid started to head back in her direction, but she took off again down an alley.

    “We’ll have to cut him off,” I said excitedly.

    Loid was getting into the chase, and he didn’t disagree.

    The next ten minutes or so were spent pounding down the street, taking a few back alleys here and there. Loid was in excellent shape, and not particularly hampered by my modest weight. We went down alleys and upstairs.

    ‘He’ll head for the crowd near the market. It’s the best place to lose a trail,’ Loid thought.

    But when we got there, staring down at the crowd from a raised walkway, his shoulders slumped. The thief had clearly beaten us, if he was there, because we didn’t see any runners dropping to a stroll.

    And in the press of people going about their evening, it was impossible to pick out one man they hadn’t even gotten a good look at.

    ‘Ah. I think Yor will be disappointed we lost him,’ Loid thought

    Except that wasn’t the case. There were dozens of people, yes, but they were calm people going about their business. Mentally quiet people, focused more on navigating the crowd and only occasionally thinking about their next stop.

    The triumphant glee of a guy mentally counting bills, delighted in getting one over on a stupid old lady came through loud and clear.

    “There he is,” I said, pointing.

    “Loid?” Yor asked, running upstairs to the walkway to join us.

    ‘Aha, she’s right,’ Loid thought with fierce glee. ‘He changed his coat and put on a hat, but he still moves the same!’ Turning to his new wife, he barked a quick instruction. “Yor, watch Anya! I’m going to get the thief!”

    And then I got to watch Loid, blond James Bond in the flesh, sprint down the raised walkway and leap off, falling fifteen feet or so onto the hapless thief like a hawk swooping on a mouse.

    Death from above mother fucker!

    We quickly joined him below as he explained to the startled crowd that the guy was a thief and purse snatcher.

    Clearly a professional one, too, or at least habitual. He had other wallets on him, and had probably been stalking the streets all day.

    Loid seemed a little embarrassed to be the center of attention as the guy was taken away and the purse, with money, was returned to the old lady.

    Ultimately, Papa and Mama did the whole ‘aw shucks’ routine with the old lady and each other. Mutual admiration, Yor’s sense of justice, Loid’s successful take down, my quick spotting of the guy.

    The old woman even said it, like a moral at the end of a thirty minute episode, or the blessing of God X the Director.

    “What a wonderful family you are.”

    You know what? I was fucking stoked. Forget the existential implications. Forget the moral quandaries and philosophical conundrums.

    Super spy Papa.

    Assassin with a heart of gold Mama.

    (False) genius psychic tot me.

    “Hell yeah!” I whispered to myself.

    “Anya!” Loid said, startled. “Who taught you to say that?”

    x
    x
    x
    x

    AN: More on my patreon.

    After some teething problems getting the new family set up, things are finally starting to work out. Anya just has to quit poking at the man beind the curtain and get out there and BE.
     
  4. Robthebunman

    Robthebunman A very lonely boy

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    hell yeah!
     
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  5. LordVile

    LordVile Not too sore, are you?

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    Looks like stew tonight.
     
  6. DeclanDSI

    DeclanDSI The Eternally Dreaming Shrine Maiden

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    Answer that is in character within this universe: "The voices in my head did, Mama."

    Real answer: "My past life in an alternate universe did, Mama."

    Both sounds equally as crazy, both are probably equally correct with the different language being used and all.
     
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  7. ToastyMoasty

    ToastyMoasty Making the rounds.

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    Dream family team! I can't wait for the next chapter!
     
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  8. World Reader

    World Reader I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    LOL, why is this so funny???
     
  9. Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    Literally the hardest thing to write about Anya's voice, so far at least, is keeping pop culture references out. I don't just mean memes, but a shitload of sayings, quotes, and ideas come from media which may or may not be the same in both universes, so she's careful to avoid references which may turn out to be completely wrong.
     
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  10. Extras: whoops?
    DeclanDSI

    DeclanDSI The Eternally Dreaming Shrine Maiden

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    Wow, your reply to my comment deserved a chapter. Thank you for your flattery.
     
  11. Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    Whoops lol. How the hell did I manage to do that.

    You know what? Your reply to my chapter reply to your comment deserves a threadmark.
     
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  12. DeclanDSI

    DeclanDSI The Eternally Dreaming Shrine Maiden

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    Yayifications! I'll be sure to become famous from this! I'll use my fame to sell my new [Insert Product Name Here] to the ignorant masses, then using brand recognition, I'll make a new cryptocurrency based on my brand, mine plenty of coins, then post about it on social media. When the fervor reaches high enough, I'll immediately sell all of my coins, make millions of dollars, then use that to advertise new products, rinse and repeat, until I ride the wave made out of the tears of consumers to the top of capitalism!

    Capitalism ho!


    [​IMG]
    Disclaimer: By reading this post you have acknowledged the following: A - that the creator of this post is not responsible for any actions you take with this post and B - that you are now obligated to like this post. Anyone who reads this and chooses not to like this post implicitly agrees to invest in the creator's cryptocurrency.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2022
  13. Threadmarks: Chapter eleven.
    Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    xxxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxxx Start chapter eleven.

    And now, a change of perspective.


    Henry Henderson, housemaster of Cecile Hall and all around elegant gentleman, didn't do anything as crass as sneer, but there was a palpable sense of disdain as he stared down at the milling crowd of aspirants and their families through his beautiful set of Galilean binoculars. His facial hair was impeccably groomed, and one eye sported a monocle.

    After a moment, he lowered the opera glasses and resumed a stern though distant visage. As the oldest and most respected of the House Masters, and indeed the staff in general, he spent less time than the others making individual judgements. It was a tasteful and quiet nod to his years of service, while not embarrassing him with the face that his eyes weren't what they once were.

    "This year's applicants are a slovenly bunch," he announced to the room at large, where, along with several other vantage points, Eden Academy housemasters and other staff judged the incoming mob with highly critical eyes.

    Indeed, there were far more quiet announcements of 'fail' as the assembled staff made judgements long before the families made it to the personal interview part of the process. Behind them, assistants both male and female held leather bound notebooks listing the applicants, along with a brief recognition guide should the staff need a reminder of who they were judging.

    Few needed reminders.

    The admissions process for Eden Academy was its oldest, most important ritual. A ritual a large number of very well connected and powerful families across Europe would very much like insights on. A ritual only a few of the most powerful Ostanian families was privy to.

    Eden Academy was unquestionably the finest, most elite primary school in Ostania, and oft considered in the top one percent of one percent the world wide. Accordingly, despite laws which required them to open their application process to the citizens of Ostania, or at least the ones who could afford the rather exorbitant fee, much effort was spent weeding out the plebeians.

    Just because a family made a small fortune in business did not mean that they were fit to be inducted into the true upper class. Indeed, many such families, ambitious, power hungry, and pretentious, were often little more than up-jumped commoners who got lucky. The ones with taste, however, who had made the right connections and displayed the correct attributes, might get a helpful hint here and there.

    The truly elite needed no hint. They were the standard by which the others were judged.

    They still had to meet the standard, of course, but such things were handled privately, with consideration given to the family's image. An elite family with a dim or unruly child simply did not push for admittance, instead typically sending them to quieter, more private boarding schools.

    They did, however, largely tune out the House Master's yearly diatribe on the virtues of tradition, poise, and elegance. It wasn't that they disagreed with the sentiments, far from it. To a man, they positively abhorred the idea that the hallowed halls of their beloved school could be filled with the grubby, unwashed gremlins produced by the working class. But every year it seemed as if there were more applicants, meaning the selection process had to get even more stringent and efficient.

    Some bright stars did make an appearance.

    “Ah, there is Sir Blackbell and his wife. And that must be little Becky,” one of the female teachers commented. “Tasteful as always. The tails on his coat are a bold choice. I suppose they will be the height of fashion in the coming year.”

    This was sufficiently intriguing that Henry lifted his binoculars to take a look, if only to banish the images of the pretentious proletariat from his eyes.

    No one mentioned ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. The answer was obvious.

    Henry was about to put his binoculars back down, but another family caught his eye.

    "Oho? Is that family saluting the statue of our founder? By Jove! How elegantly respectful!" he announced, surprised. "Who is that family?" he demanded.

    "That's K212, the Forger family," a pinstriped assistant announced after a brief check. "The father is Loid Forger, the daughter is Anya, and Yor Forger is his second wife." He quickly found their documentation and passed it over to Henry, where several of the staff glanced at it curiously.

    "A 99!" one exclaimed. "That's the highest this year!"

    The entrance exam wasn't just a filter for the unfit, it also served as a placement test. Correspondingly, it had questions which any modestly prepared child could solve, and the passing score was set low enough that they were worth sufficient points to pass. The Academy had long since determined that the family interview was the key to keeping out the hoi polloi, not exam scores.

    However, it also had an escalating scale of difficulty, with some questions involving historical minutiae, reading comprehension, logic, or trigonometry at a level the Academy didn't start covering until Gymnasium, the academic focused schooling that was generally the preparation track for university, unlike the more general schooling of Realschule or the primarily vocational training of Hauptschule.

    Eden Academy did not offer Realschule or (*shudder*) Hauptschule. That was for the working classes.

    Those exceptionally difficult questions were there to identify particularly promising young prodigies-

    -or cheaters.

    Henry quickly flipped through the pages until he found the mistakes. Three of them, actually, a half point deducted each for spelling mistakes, rounded up to a whole 99. The handwriting wasn't great, but it wasn't the worst he had seen. Interestingly, all three of the spelling mistakes had the same mistake, an 'i' before an 'e' when it should have been the other way around.

    "A cheater?" Murdock Swan proposed, looking at it from the side. "Might also be a sham marriage."

    Although they, of course, attempted to stamp out any insulting hearsay, there was a persistent and hard to quash rumor that copies of the exam could be procured ahead of time for the correct price. Henry had been approached, hat in hand, with some hefty bribes, and taken particular delight in not only denying the would be cheat, but also banning the family from sending any children to attend for a period of one hundred and one years.

    Yet, the rumors persisted. Although it galled him to his very core, the possibility existed that some staff member or another might take such a bribe. Elegance was very expensive, and vice could ensnare the unwary.

    It wasn't impossible for a child to obtain a perfect, or near perfect, score. If so, the applicant would be exactly the sort of student the Academy delighted in nurturing.

    If there were any discrepancies, however…

    "We shall observe the family," he announced. "A 99 point score would naturally come from a 99 point family. But anyone willing to cheat on an exam is undoubtedly willing to cheat in other ways." He lifted his binoculars to observe the Forgers more closely.

    Henry had to admit, though, saluting the founder was a nice touch. A prospective genius of good breeding would be a welcome addition to Eden, especially compared to the morass of commoners besieging their hallowed halls so far.

    The father wore a charcoal suit of fine cut. Anzug, perhaps? Or maybe Kerstin. Hard to be sure from a distance, and his vision was sadly deteriorating. He at least needed to get binoculars with a higher magnification.

    The wife was fashionable without being overdone. A small amount of jewelry over the sort of fashion popular among young women of the city, who were oft in a position to be seen. She was very attractive, which could mean the father had shallow interests since his first wife passed, but that was an uncharitable thought. Her poise was perfect.

    The daughter was rather small, short for her age, with strawberry blonde hair that was nearly pink. An interesting result given the father's blond. She walked between her parents, but without holding their hands, showing she was self-assured enough to not need the comfort. A good sign in a child so young.

    Altogether, they were well above average for the crowd. If not for the shock of the nearly perfect score, he'd have given them a pass already.

    Ah! They've spotted one of the prepared tests of character. One of the younger boys, a chubby lad with poor academic discipline equal to his atrocious dietary habits, had accepted the onerous duty of pretending to fall into a nasty gutter to avoid getting a tonitrus bolt for his class performance.

    Most, nearly all in fact, families pretended not to see the boy, to their discredit. However, it was hardly a failing condition, as even the most elegant families rarely braved the grime. It was merely an opportunity for an otherwise marginal family to display better attributes, though it could also be their failing.

    He watched as the young girl spoke briefly with the father, who nodded and, without so much as a moment's hesitation, lifted the filthy student from the gutter with a single hand, ignoring the dirty water which splattered everywhere.

    "Humph. Terrible," he murmured in disappointment. "No family of true quality would dare come to an interview this important covered in filth." He watched a few more moments as the child offered a handkerchief to the chubby student. "Although sparing the feelings of the boy is commendable, I suppose we shall have to fail them regardless."

    Henry started to lower his binoculars, but the father's next actions caught his attention once more.

    "Wait, what's this?" he gasped. "He brought a change of clothes?!" He frantically focused on the family, doing his best to decipher their statements by reading their lips and body language. "They thought this might happen?!"

    The father dashed away, allowing his wife and child to send the sacrificial lamb away, then quickly returned, now dressed in an even more impeccable grey suit.

    "That is elegant," Henry admitted. "Could they be the real thing?"

    "Oh no! Animals have escaped into the streets!" came the cry from down the hall.

    "What?!"

    Soon they could all hear and see it. Not just cows from the agricultural program, but horses, sheep, goats, pigs, and even the exotic ostrich from the special enclosure!

    "Whose idea was this!" he demanded. "There are VIPs in that crowd! People could actually be hurt!"

    Many hurried shakes of heads and other denials responded. "I certainly didn't! Surely no one would be so foolish!"

    Henry Henderson gasped in shock. "This is... an actual emergency!"

    With no immediate way to respond, he turned back to the view below, wincing as the people cast all decorum aside in their efforts to flee, a stampede as literal as the maddened animals running through the streets.

    One child was pushed and fell, and though he wasn't trampled by the people, it was unlikely the cattle would spare him such a fate.

    Again, it was the Forgers who responded, the father sprinting with shocking speed to scoop the child off the street and into his arms, where he found shelter in the lee of a building.

    But now the wife stood out, also sprinting forward despite the fashionable heels she wore to slam fists into the junction of the lead cow's neck in several places, her superlative speed nearly impossible to follow.

    Disbelief warred with the scene playing out in front of him as the cow went from running full tilt to stumbling and collapsing in a matter of a few steps, crumpling to the stone street and sliding to a stop. With the herd leader now stopped and in the way, the assortment of followers also slowed. No longer stampeding, they began milling about, still anxious, but no longer dangerously running about.

    Now the pink haired daughter demanded attention, calling to her father and her mother as she ran to the collapsed heifer. Like her mother, he would have assumed anything the little girl might do would be useless at best, an impediment at worst, but the moppet surprised him as much as her parents had.

    He could faintly hear her commands now that most of the people were off of the street. Her mother, she of apparently herculean strength, was positioned at the aft of the cow, with instructions to keep it from getting its rear hooves under it, as 'cows get up hind end first'. If the cow could not get its rear up, it would be unable to stand.

    Then the girl began stroking the cow's head and neck, apparently crooning soothing sounds as her father approached, no longer burdened by a rescue. Under her directions he produced both the tie he had been wearing and a belt.

    The belt was looped around the cow's head, right behind the jaw, and the trailing length hooked forward, through the tie which was encircling the muzzle of the beast. He watched in astonishment as the makeshift halter was literally fashioned, with the belt's loop through the tie giving the most leverage to pull the heifer's head around.

    She pointed at the cow's nose ring and indicated it was for emergencies if the cow resisted, but cautioned against its use now that the cow was calmer, since nose rings caused pain if they were yanked on.

    Still soothing the beast, she coaxed the farm animal to rise and gently guided it back the direction it came from, her parents trailing behind to gently chivvy the others animals as they followed the herd leader.

    "That is absolutely a 99 point family," the housemaster stated to the other gawking staff. "Elegant, considerate, decisive, and intelligent. I would be honored to have Anya Forger in my Hall." He nodded at the others, then gathered his crystal topped walking cane and went to meet them.

    Fifteen minutes later, he was there to greet the family as they came back from the pens and corrals. He was there to be gracious, but was shocked once again.

    Instead of being rumpled and dirty, covered in animal hair, all three of them were wearing fresh outfits that showed even more elegance and fashion.

    "Well!" he announced with a harrumph, mentally chiding himself rather than the family which had met every expectation and then some. "I was going to give you time to clean yourself up before the interview, but I see I don't need to. Well done, Forger family. Well done."

    They bowed or curtsied with elegant little flourishes, proud smiles on their faces.

    “Eden Academy thanks you for your service,” he said, bowing back. “Please, follow me. I’d be delighted to get to know such a family as yours.”

    x
    x
    x
    x
    AN: Hated this chapter. Had trouble writing it, and it's not even fun to read. The next one is way better. I'll try to have it posted in a day or two. Feel free to throw tomatoes.

    More on my patreon.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2022
  14. DeclanDSI

    DeclanDSI The Eternally Dreaming Shrine Maiden

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    I think this chapter had a dire lack of "hell yeah!"s. Otherwise good chapter.
     
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  15. Wisard

    Wisard Getting sticky.

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    It's pretty close to the OG episode so the POV is a diservice I'd say.
     
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  16. Gnomishness

    Gnomishness Making the rounds.

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    I quick note: Donovan "Lord" Desmond would not appear at such a public event as this. They go into further depth about this later in the manga, but he is supremely reclusive, to the point where even getting the option to see him can only really be achieved by plebians through the parties of already established students at Eden academy. IE: the reason for the mission.

    This extends to the point where he is actually quite absent in his second son's life.

    He wouldn't be interviewing in person here, and if he was, there would've been a scene in canon where Twilight would've pointed him out from the crowd. They said no exceptions to the interview process, but as their country's leader, and given his temperament, it's obvious he'd be an exception anyway. Maybe they brought the interviewers to him.

    Given how he didn't come for Damian's first year picture at the end of episode 6, he definitely wouldn't have come here.

    If you wanted a family that could be treated with similar affect and might've canonically appeared, Becky Blackbell's family was also fabulously important, or maybe you could make up an OC.

    Other than that, a very elegant chapter, much like your others.

    As expected of the one I've judged as the greatest Spy x Family fanfic.
     
    Last edited: May 21, 2022
  17. Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    That's a good point with the Desmonds. Important enough that I'll fix it when I get a chance. Like you said, probably replace it with the Blackbells.

    Although I haven't really gone looking, I'm not actually aware of any other SpyxFamily fics. I mean, I'm pretty sure I was the first, or at least close to it, back when this story first came out I started writing it around when manga chapter 8 came out, and posted it about chapter 15. Thanks, though. A win by default is a win.
     
  18. Gnomishness

    Gnomishness Making the rounds.

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    There are some ok-ish ones on other sites. Mostly one-shots obviously, though I think that there was one other SI-as-esper-child that started up but didn't stack up to prime fanfic viewing. It had a really fun name though: How frequent is your migraine? It really hertz.
     
  19. ATP

    ATP Versed in the lewd.

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    On Mangakakalot you have it up to 62 chapter.When we discover past of Pa.
     
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  20. IsaacTheAutobot1229

    IsaacTheAutobot1229 Not too sore, are you?

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    I have not read it yet and only heard of the manga a month or two ago. This fic is pretty entertaining and heartwarming with how all of them interact with each other.
     
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  21. Threadmarks: Ice Pie chapter 12
    Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    xxxxxxxxx Start chapter twelve.


    What the fuck even is this place.

    I mean, I grew up poor. Like, dirt poor, on the edge of tens of thousands of acres of trackless swamp in Louisiana. We did nearly everything ourselves, from hunting, fishing, gathering, and farming to stretch our food budget, to doing all the carpentry, mechanicing, and other repairs ourselves. It's a great way to learn how to do a lot of different things.

    It's a shit way of preparing for stepping into the frankly bizarre world of the wealthy and powerful.

    They made a fat kid half drown himself in a gutter as a test for incoming families.

    He was so grateful for the chance to avoid getting a failing grade he willingly threw himself in. He only felt bad when he thought the muck he got on Loid was going to keep us from getting in the door.

    I was at least somewhat relieved that the stampede was genuinely not planned. It was either intentional sabotage or someone's fuck up.

    I say stampede, but it really, really wasn't. The lead cow seemed pretty scared but she wasn't sprinting, just doing a slow run looking for something that made sense to her. I doubt they would have been much of a danger to anyone actually caught up in the mass, except maybe that kid that fell. These aren't half feral free range animals here. Every one of them has spent its entire life being poked and prodded, but also petted and pampered, by a mixture of professionals and well-meaning if inexpert students.

    That cow didn't so much as give token resistance on the way back to the corrals. I've had dogs that were harder to wrangle. I mean, I've spent a lot of time with farm animals, but I have the least experience with cattle, since we didn't raise them on our farm. Cows were the kind of thing I learned about helping on other people's farms.

    Interestingly, I actually picked up some mental impressions from the heifer, primarily fear in the beginning, and relief when we led her back to the barns.

    Makes me wonder about how much empathy I pick up through my telepathy after all. It was also utterly fascinating from the standpoint of finally getting to be close to some animals. I'd spent a lot of time staring at birds and dogs through the windows of whatever building I was living in, and not getting squat, but in retrospect I'd never really gotten close to them.

    My telepathy does have some serious range limits depending on the person and the type of signal I'm picking up. I should do some experiments.

    Anyway, we end up inside the building on the side where the actual prospects go. Apparently, they do snap judgements on the families as they come in the gates. Anyone not well dressed enough, anyone with unruly children, or anyone they just decide they don't like gets sent to a much larger conference hall and told not to darken their door with their filthy commoner-ness.

    I hate this place. I want to burn the whole motherfucker down and put all their heads on pikes. Put the power back in the hands of the people who do all the real work, not these fatcats.

    Kill and eat the rich.

    I'mma still study like crazy, get this fabulously exclusive degree, and cheat my tiny ass into being the kind of hyper-rich that makes the term 'oligarch' look like someone's third cousin on the wrong side of the bed. If I'm worth less than a billion by the year 2000 I'm going to be very disappointed in myself.

    Kill and eat the rich, tho.

    'There is an imposter among you,' I thought gleefully.

    My ambitions of being a sussy baka aside, I'm not in yet. Just because you made it through the snap judgements doesn't mean you're free and clear.

    Like, I'm pretty sure we're good. My score was good, and we made a hell of a showing outside. The old guy, who's name I found out was Henry Henderson, seemed pretty solidly on our side. Apparently, his big thing was decorum and elegance, which we'd managed to satisfy. Loid's briefcase full of outfits and Yor's inherent chic-ness were unstoppable. I mentally nicknamed him 'Sasquatch', and he was the housemaster of Cecile Hall. But he's not the only one we have to impress.

    The thickset man with the weird bowtie looking mustache seemed to hate everyone. Murdoch Swan, housemaster of Cline Hall and son of a previous headmaster. Recently divorced, and the wife took the kid, according to Loid's files. He'd apparently been a no vote on almost every one of the applicants that wasn't already a VIP.

    Beside him was another man in glasses, one of those elderly, genial looking men who have had so much shit go absolutely perfect for them all their lives that it's polished all the rough edges off like a stone in a river. Just gently smiling all the time. Walter Evans, housemaster of Malcom Hall, reportedly 'gentle, conservative, and well-liked by his students'.

    But I made a point of not assuming that smooth rounded stone was soft, because even if he expressed small amounts of regret mentally each time he denied an applicant, he was still just as elitist as the others. Fail to meet his standard, and he'd vote no just as hard as the fat, angry Swan.

    Come and see the violence inherent in the system!

    Man was I glad we'd studied the history of this place so hard. Loid knew how these people thought, I'll give him that. Yor was the weakest link in our tower of power.

    Though obviously not physically weak. I've seen people punch out cows before, but never with the cowjutsu equivalent of a neck chop.

    We didn't have to wait long. Henry had personally invited us in, but there were people ahead of us. VIPs and semi-VIPs they couldn't bump down despite their gratitude for us stopping the animals.

    It was interesting to see the difference between the real elite and the pretenders. We were outside the room where our assigned judges conducted their interviews, but I could pick up some of the conversation inside with telepathy, and Loid had apparently broken in at some point and planted a freaking audio bug, and had a radio hidden in his jacket with a discreet earbud. Also, of course, we got to see the results as they left.

    Anyone addressed as 'lord' or with particularly respectful 'sir's had kids who answered the questions with little trouble. They knew the routine, and prepared for it. The adults had softball questions, or even just genial chitchat.

    The lesser variant of the VIP seemed to be people where the man generally had significant personal power, a judge or something, but didn't have any family weight and didn't move in the right circles. They didn't know how to prepare, so their kids, whatever actual academic prowess they might have, didn't know the answers to 'Who founded Eden Academy' and such.

    They didn't make the grade. By and large, they left with the kid crying and the parents either angrily scowling, or in some cases actually berating their little failure.

    I got the feeling their future children weren't going to have much of a chance of getting in either, at least in the case of the parents actually publicly scolding their child.

    Ol' Sasquatch had a point.

    How inelegant!

    So, at long last, we got called in.

    I'm not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. I mean, I was confident. We cheated so hard we broke the laws of physics. But Loid was a bit worried, because Yor and I were amateurs. Yor was worried because Loid and I were worried.

    And I was worried because this was absolutely out of my wheelhouse.

    Tests? Math, reading, whatever? I'm down with it. E Z P Z.

    [​IMG]

    Talking to people?

    Wooo buddy.

    Loid had immediately fixated on Swan as the biggest obstacle.

    But the real first move was mine.

    Immediately after introductions, I piped up.

    "Murdoch Swan, Sir?" I asked for attention. "Are you any relation to Wethersby Swan, former Headmaster of Eden?"

    Five sets of eyes zeroed in on me.

    "Why yes, I am," the portly man allowed, but instead of sounding flattered, he sounded irritated. "Did you memorize the list of Headmasters?"

    Irritation? Did he not like being reminded of his father? Or was there something else going on? I didn't have time to read his mind and figure it out, but I think I made a tactical error.

    "Not quite, Sir," I replied. "I simply thought it would be respectful to at least know the current Headmaster, as well as the more general history of the Academy. Unfortunately, the first book I grabbed at the Berlint Library was a bit out of date, and listed Sir Swan as the current Headmaster. I'm fortunate that Father caught my mistake when we were discussing the school."

    "The Berlint City Library?" Evans interjected. "I can see that happening. Although a very fine library, they have been known to keep out of date material on the shelves for longer than they should."

    Everyone nodded, and the fat bastard seemed to relax at that revelation. So I failed at advancing, but at least I didn't set us back.

    I kept my mouth shut as they returned to their planned interview structure. Swan focused most of his questions on Loid and Yor, which tracked given our knowledge of his failed marriage. He barely gave a thought to me, but clearly resented the shit out of anyone in a happy marriage.

    Ironically, he'd probably be less irritated if he found out it was a sham marriage, but he'd be even more delighted to give us the boot.

    They sparred for a bit. Swan actually got personal enough that Henderson chided him for being uncouth, and Evan's smile briefly flickered. That cheered me up a bit, as they seemed to use a simple majority system.

    Instead of targeting Swan, it might be better, tactically speaking, to target Evans and get his approval. Unfortunately, the man was so goddamn genially noncommittal it was impossible to get a grip on him. Even his thoughts were like air. His mind was like a soufflé being baked. Unformed potential, before solidifying and being expressed.

    Henderson continued to approve of our elegance, though. Loid had him in the bag.

    Evans finally asked a question. "We would like to hear about Anya from the perspective of her parents. What do you think her strengths and weaknesses are?"

    Loid smiled. "Strengths? How should I list them? She's extremely intelligent, and it shows. She reads voraciously, sometimes finishing multiple books a day. Her memory for what she reads is excellent. She thinks logically, and she pays attention to everything around her. It is, in fact, nearly impossible to keep secrets from her, because she notices the smallest things and then quickly extrapolates shockingly accurate conclusions from the data."

    Heh. [​IMG]

    "She's empathetic, quickly picking up on other people's moods, but she's also kind, and shows a wisdom that seems beyond her years."

    Lol.

    "She's so intuitive, it's almost like she's reading your mind."

    Lmao.

    "But she does have her weaknesses. Her approach to reading material is rather scattershot, picking up whatever catches her interest at the time and following those paths of inquiry, rather than a more consistent, regimented approach to study. She has in depth knowledge of topics you wouldn't expect, but has missed other, more basic subjects most people take for granted. I confess, that's mostly my fault as her father, since I've encouraged her curiosity more than I've given her set lessons."

    Yes, yes. As we talked about. I had to come up with something to explain how I can do algebra but I didn't know what Bizzaro Italy was called.

    "She's also spent more time studying advanced topics than playing with other children her age, so her interpersonal skills are somewhat lacking. In particular, she's uncomfortable in crowds and prefers smaller, quieter groups."

    "Her exam score was exemplary-"

    Oh nice!

    Housemaster Evans noted, "but there are some concerns."

    "She made several spelling mistakes," Housemaster Swan interjected.

    So?

    "And her handwriting isn't very elegant," Housemaster Henderson added, "but her score was the highest of this year's applicants. She actually got every question correct, but points were deducted for, as my colleague stated, spelling."

    Oh, it was spelling that cost me a perfect score. I thought I'd actually missed something. I feel better now. There's no reason for a grown ass person to get less than a perfect score on an entrance exam to an elementary school, no matter how exclusive. But if it was just spelling, in a bizarre-funhouse-carnival version of a foreign country you ended up in after you died, in a language you've yet to master, I suppose it's okay to not be too down on myself.

    "You see, Mister Forger, the entrance exam here at Eden isn't just to see if students have the necessary aptitudes to succeed in our school, it's also how we determine a student's academic strengths and weaknesses, to see if extra tutoring is necessary, or perhaps arrange for advanced studies," Evans continued. "In short, the entrance exam is also a placement exam. Many of the questions are easy, the sort of thing which any reasonably prepared child should be comfortable with. But there are a series of questions in each category which rapidly ramps up the difficulty, to see where their knowledge stops." He paused. "Young Anya got every single question correct."

    Oh. I see where they're going. You know, I think this may actually be the first time I've ever been accused of cheating. Because-

    Henderson continued. "While there have been other students in the Academy's past who have done as well, including several perfect scores, all of those students were already known to have demonstrated genius potential. Some had been noticed internationally. Several had scientific papers written about them, following their development and their savant level skills." He paused and slightly adjusted his monocle. "Anya was a total surprise."

    "In short, we suspect that cheating may be involved," Swan said rudely.

    Oh. Huh.

    You know, technically, we did cheat?

    Shit, I actually overlooked that. Like, I've never knowingly cheated before in my life. Not out of any particular academic integrity, more that, in the tiny schools I grew up in, I was the guy to cheat off of. Not the cheater.

    The closest I ever came was one particularly memorable bit in a science class, my best subject, in eighth grade. I'd made a mistake when marking off the vocabulary words, and put the dividing line one word short of the whole assignment. The word was 'sepal' the bit of the plant at the base of a flower. Through some series of coincidences where I just never noticed the word, the test rolled around and I had no idea what the answer to the question was. My puzzlement actually caught the attention of a girl sitting beside me, who quietly told me the answer was 'sepal'.

    But I didn't write it down, because not only did I not know what a sepal was, it didn't even ring a bell in ANY of the words I knew. So, because I was so confused, I left the question blank and missed it.

    Only later did it even occur to me that it had been an opportunity to cheat.

    Same situation here. Yes, we had the test, and I studied it, but I was still hung up on the fact I'd technically passed it before cheating, therefore I wasn't a cheat.

    But I was.

    Huh.

    Neat.

    Meanwhile, Loid got mad. Yor got mad, too. I'd actually missed most of the argument because I was puzzling out the whole 'cheating' bit.

    "-our home library. We may not have the means some families enjoy, but I arrange for her to have access to as many books as possible, and she also trades in many of her old ones. I understand that Eden's entrance exam is one of the most rigorous for most children, but I've watched Anya fill out crossword puzzles in The FAS as fast as she could write. She doesn't quite meet the definition of a photographic memory, but she rarely forgets," Loid said, and paused to breathe. "More to the point, Anya is extremely excited by the prospect of going to Eden Academy. The education here is the best. What other school could provide an education that could challenge a student that learns at a glimpse? And she hopes, and more particularly, our hope as parents, is that at Eden she will finally find peers to make friends with. Anya has nearly nothing in common with average children her age. She has no friends, and little in the way of social skills, because her intelligence and maturity set her apart. At least at Eden there is a good chance she will find someone that can keep up with her."

    "Humph. If she is as advanced as you say, why has she gone unnoticed until now? You might not know this, but Eden Academy works with the Vivante Klinik and other institutions to identify prodigies as they appear, and invites them to apply to the academy."

    He paused.

    "At least, you should know that, as a doctor at the Vivante Klinik Berlint. Why are there no papers on her abilities? She could be the next Gramm, or Schulze, both of whom were immediately invited to attend Eden on their discovery."

    Oooh. I did not think of that. Yeah, if I'd been born to a normal family, there's a good chance I'd have ended up the subject of a study or something by now. If it wasn't for the whole orphan thing, and now the spy thing, I would have tried to stand out to the point of like, getting in college by the age of ten or something. I am really not looking forward to the monotony of having to do normal school stuff.

    Like, it's fun to excel easily. Very satisfying. But I'm pretty sure I'm going to get tired of sitting in a class all day for the next twelve years or so.

    And given he's supposedly a clinical psychologist, he should have put me forward as a research subject. I am anomalously advanced for a six year old. They'd shit if they found out I was even younger. Honestly, I think I'm around five, maybe even a very late four. My original birthday was July 12th 1980, and I have this totally unfounded but persistent suspicion my birthday is the same. I will admit I'm too big to be a normal sized four year old, but I am short for six.

    "Because I never published them. Anya is my daughter, and although I may not have the perfect skillset to research the speed of her development, I'm certainly capable of monitoring her progress and performing cognitive tests," Loid lied directly.

    Papa's quick on the ball, I tell you what.

    There was a brief stalemate, Loid's confident gaze brazenly challenging the thickset house master.

    I decided to jump in.

    "Sirs, to be clear, am I being accused of somehow cheating on the test?" I asked.

    Henry Henderson was the one to answer me.

    "There are some concerns held by some of my colleagues, not just Mister Swan, although I must stress that there is no formal accusation."

    "Yet," Swan added.

    "How?" I asked.

    "I beg your pardon?" Henry asked.

    Then beg.

    Shit! I almost said that aloud.

    I took a moment to recover from the burst of panic. Being a saucy little memelord would not help me here.

    "Sir, I mean, how? How would I cheat? I don't understand."

    The two of them shared a look.

    I continued. "I couldn't very well get answers from the students near me. They didn't know the answers, correct? And that's the only way of cheating I know about. I will confess I knew the answers ahead of time-"

    Swan sat up straighter but it was Henderson who sported a tiny quirk of his lips. I'm pretty sure he knows where I'm going with this.

    "-since I had read them in books. And Father and Mother taught me as well. But I'm pretty sure that's just studying."

    Swan frowned. He and Henderson glanced at each other again. "But how did you know what questions to study for?"

    "I didn't?" I lied. "I just learned as much as I could and hoped the test questions were things I knew. I know many things that weren't on the test, but all knowledge is worth knowing, even if it's not immediately useful."

    There was another pause. Both were thinking about the copy of the test that went around for the most powerful to prepare their children, but neither wanted to be the one to bring it up. Interestingly, Henry thought it was just a rumor. He also didn't think I cheated, thanks to the incident with the cow somehow? Weird. But even Swan was getting doubtful.

    Papa spoke up. "Isn't there a simple solution to this? Just give her another test. She'll pass it, I guarantee."

    Probably not with a 100 or a 99, but yeah. I'll pass it.

    "In fact," Father was adding, "why don't you just ask her some questions right here and now? If she has particular trouble, perhaps a full test may be warranted, but she won't have trouble." He got louder. "In fact, I'm so confident in my daughter, the genius, that I will place a bet. Test her knowledge on things she wouldn't know to have studied for, but could have appeared on the entrance exam. If her genius is still in doubt, I will voluntarily withdraw her application to Eden Academy. She may not know the answer to every question, but there will be no question that she wouldn't need to cheat to pass the exam."

    What the fuck Dad? Placing the whole mission on a bet?! What if I fail?! I mean, I know he sincerely believes I'm a genius prodigy savant, but shit man, that's a hell of a risk!

    "There's no need to go that far," Henry Henderson replied in protest. "Don't wager your child's future on a foolish bet."

    Loid gave him a level gaze, his thoughts full of confidence. "A bet is when an outcome is in doubt. My daughter will not fail."

    Damn. The dude genuinely believes I won't let him down here. It's both empowering and humbling.

    "A bet is a bet," Swan replied, sticking out his hand to Loid, who shook it.

    Henry shook his head in disapproval, and had to stop and reseat his monocle. "So what kind of questions should we ask," he mused. "Obviously, there will be subjects she doesn't know. We merely want to challenge her in the same way as the placement exam.

    "That's exactly what I mean," Loid agreed. "As for a subject? She's got the makings of a young polymath. Ask her anything, right off the top of your head. She'll know the answer."

    …Rofl.

    Sometimes I have to remind myself that Loid doesn't know I'm telepathic.

    Any nervousness I had at Loid betting the farm disappeared, replaced by the smuggest grin.

    Henderson's eyebrow rose. "Confident, are you?"

    "Absolutely. Tests are fun," I replied. And I'm not lying. Tests are fun. Learning is easy.

    I was accepted, with a small scholarship, to MIT in my first life. Didn't go, because I wasn't smart enough for a full ride scholarship, and my family didn't have the money for that kind of expense. And looking back on it, and my performance in the college I did go to, I absolutely would have had shit grades or even actually failed if I HAD went to MIT. At least I can still brag and say I was accepted.

    Like a lot of 'gifted' students, nothing in grade school required any effort to excel in, but in college level classes that even smart people have to actually put in some effort studying, I kinda got fucked. I didn't know how to study, because I'd never learned. However, in my late twenties I went back to college for two years. Armed with an actual adult's discipline, I was the top in my classes. Even in math, which has always been my worst subject.

    Just to be clear, I'm not claiming to be a genius. I'm not. I'm merely reasonably well educated and my interests and professional career have continually refreshed my basic knowledge. Seriously, though. While the hardest questions on the entrance exam were ludicrously advanced for a six year old, they're still just middle school level questions. Any reasonably intelligent adult should be able to handle them. And I am making mistakes. I'm just in the fairly unique position to cover up those mistakes by telepathically grabbing the correct answer.

    "That is the kind of attitude we like to see in our students," Henry said approvingly.

    I gave him a bright smile.

    Murdoch Swan, though, came out of the corner swinging. "Why is the sky blue?"

    "Short answer? Rahlait scattering and a lack of violet receptor cells in our eyes." Almost got tripped up with that one. I nearly answered 'Raleigh' scattering. The name of the scientist was different in this world, but fortunately everyone (But Yor, poor Yor.) immediately thought of the local guy.

    They weren't expecting the bit about the receptor cells, though.

    "What do you mean, 'violet receptor cells'?" Murdoch asked.

    "Rahlait scattering is the phenomenon where light is scattered by particles smaller than the wavelength of the radiation, correct? And the atmosphere scatters the smaller wavelengths first. Human eyes have three kinds of color receptors, corresponding roughly to yellow-green, green, and blue light, although the absorption properties of the rest of the eye broaden our overall receptive range, so we effectively see from red to violet. However, the S cones responsible for the smaller wavelengths in the blue range are the rarest cells in the eye, meaning their sensitivity is the lowest, and they still have hard limits on the lowest bound of color they can react to." I paused to take a breath and order my thoughts. I started to go into animal use of ultraviolet wavelengths in vision, but decided to be more concise.

    "As ultraviolet has even shorter wavelengths than blue, it's scattered even more than blue, down to the limits of Rahlait scattering in our atmosphere. That scattered light is what we see when there's little else for the light to bounce off in a clear atmosphere. So in actuality, the sky is violet, even ultraviolet, we just can't see it. The best approximation our eyes can tell us is the closest match, blue."

    "Well said, and included some information that I didn't know," Walter Evans praised.

    Murdoch grumbled internally about needing to verify that, but even in his own head it wasn't voiced. Man, what is that guy's problem?

    "Elegantly stated," Henry added. "I can see I'll have to pick something obscure if I'm going to stump you." He paused, thinking, then asked a question I shouldn't know, but most of us do. "What is the Latin word for 'go'?"

    "Eo, sir," I replied promptly, messing up the pronunciation a bit because I had to choke a laugh.

    "Conjugate it."

    I couldn't help it and started giggling.

    "What's so funny, girl?" Swan asked indignantly.

    I was still giggling. What Monty Python fan wouldn't remember the famous Latin lesson in Life of Brian? I just hoped I wasn't going to have to write it out a hundred times. I'd already lost my balls, after all.

    After a few moments, I was able to recover and answer them. "Ah, sorry about that, Sirs. The truth is I've barely touched Latin at all. I will not be able to answer many questions about it correctly, but I was giggling because you picked one of the few things I did know. It's funny, because the pure coincidence would actually make me seem more educated than I actually am."

    The adults present did generally agree that it was a little amusing. At Henry's prodding, I did list out the conjugations in the order he thought of them. Truthfully, I'd have missed a number of them, since Monty Python only covered ire, isit, itis, imus, eunt, i, and ite, and Henry also wanted ibam, ibas, ibat, ibo, ibis, ibit, and such. There were actually like fucking twenty words, and that sobered me up pretty fast.

    Oh Jesus. I was going to have to actually learn Latin. Like, all of it, not just the funny insults and curses. That was going to suck.

    Henry was satisfied with my knowledge of eo, but curious about my professed weaknesses with Latin. "And if I had asked about 'curro' instead?"

    I winced a little. "Uh, curris, currit, curram… curr…" I shook my head. The words were available for me to grab out of his head, but I'd already admitted I didn't know shit for Latin. "Sorry, sir. That's all I can remember."

    "A noteworthy effort, despite that. I hope you will give the same effort in Latin as you have everything else," Henry both praised and chided. "After all, a truly literate person is not just fluent in Ostanian, but Frankish, Anglais, Latin, and Aramaic."

    Aramaic was apparently this world's version of Hebrew, which must have been the result of some truly different historical events.

    "Yes, Sir. And I look forward to learning them. It's a terrible thing that so many of the books at the library are unavailable to me." I paused. "Oh! I have managed to learn Anglais," I added in English. "I just haven't had time to get to the others yet."

    "She's fluent in Anglais?" Evans asked, turning to Loid.

    Loid smiled paternally. "She learned to read so fast I started writing things I wanted to keep secret in Anglais. Notes about birthday gifts and so on." He shrugged, both helpless and proud. "Secrets don't last around Anya."

    [​IMG]

    "Hmm, that might actually explain something, now that I think of it," Henry mused, still in english.

    "How so, Sir?" I asked. Apparently we were just straight up speaking english now.

    "I noticed that all of your spelling mistakes were the same. An 'I' before an 'E' in words where that shouldn't have been the case."

    "Oh!" I exclaimed. "May I see my test, Sir?"

    My test was quickly removed from the folder and laid flat on the table between us. Everyone craned their heads to look as Henry pointed out the three mistakes. Two of the same word, one of another. "Ah, I do see my mistakes," I admitted, still in english. "Yes, Sir. I've been learning to spell Anglais words over the past year or so, and there is the rule in Anglais that you put the 'I' before the 'e', except in such a large number of exceptions I honestly wonder why they decided it was a rule at all."

    "Can you name some exceptions, then?" Henry asked.

    "Yes, Sir," I replied. "Eight, weight, abseil, caffeine, zeitgeist, feisty, atheist, reign, foreign, heinous, gneiss, vein, heist, neighbor, leisure, weird, fanciest, inveigled, forfeit-" I trailed off as Henry made a negation gesture with his hand. "Are you sure? There's quite a few more," I offered. I wasn't even reading their minds. "Rules and Anglais don't exactly go well together, but most of the exceptions do come from either older Anglais, or have been stolen from other languages, so you could use that definition for an exception list. The problem is that there are so very many words in Anglais stolen from other languages it would probably be easier to memorize a list of words that aren't. After all, Anglais has been described as a stack of other languages in a trenchcoat, pretending to be one subject." I shook my head. "It really makes me appreciate our language even more. Anglais is terribly untidy."

    The four men, even Swan, chuckled a little at that. Loid's chuckle was less about the shitshow of english and more a smug 'I'm totally winning this bet' chuckle.

    "Perhaps one more question?" Evans mused aloud, reverting to 'Ostanian'. "Although Mister Forger's confidence in his daughter has clearly been validated." He turned to me and smiled in that genial, sanded smooth way of his. "Although I merely want your opinion more than anything. What is your favorite of the sermons of Saint Bonifact?"

    URK!

    I'd seen the dude mentioned a few times as the patron saint of Ostania. He was heavily associated with both faith and learning, which, you know, great and all-

    -but I hadn't actually read any of his writings!

    And fucking Walter Evans and his god damned silent mental voice was screwing me over here. Henry wasn't giving me anything actionable in his mental musings, either, and was simply curious about what I'd pick.

    Murdoch Swan, on the other hand, was switching from grumbling acceptance to inner glee, as I took longer and longer to reply, and it was growing clear that I didn't have an answer.

    They had me cornered. Neither past life knowledge, current life efforts, nor telepathy were getting me out of this one. I wasn't religious, and didn't go to church. More to the point, I did not want to go to church.

    "I…'m sorry, Sirs, but I have not read any of the works of Saint Bonifact in any detail. I cannot give you an honest opinion."

    Evans frowned just a little. Henry simply accepted it.

    Murdoch found an angle. "Ah, so religious works are not a priority in the Forger house? All too common, these days." He turned. "Eden Academy is officially non-denominational. No specific faith is put before others. We do, however, discuss various beliefs and practices. I hope that's not going to be a problem?"

    "No, of course not," Loid replied, carefully not growling in anger. "We encourage education in all of its forms, and Anya is learning many subjects. As you've noted, she is only six years old. At Eden Academy, she will surely find the time to cover any areas she is weak in."

    Evans's little smile was back. He accepted that answer, and looked forward to educating me. In both he and Henderson's minds, I was already accepted, and they anticipated that I would soon be a star student.

    Murdoch mentally acknowledged that, too. It was quite literally pure spite that kept him pushing.

    "I suppose the loss of a wife and mother might cause a certain… crisis of faith," the bastard insinuated. "And perhaps a preoccupation with more worldly matters with a new woman."

    Loid's eyes tightened. Fortunately, Yor didn't really get the insinuation.

    "MAS-ter Swan, that is highly inappropriate," Henderson chided angrily. Like, actually indignant on our behalf.

    "Really, Master Swan, that is completely outside our current topic," Evans said in protest.

    "Ah, my apologies," Swan lied, backing down hard now that both of them were against him. "Young Anya is clearly no cheat. However, we've barely talked to her mother at all. I'm merely doing due diligence. It would be terrible if we failed to address the deficiencies in her existing knowledge. For such an advanced student who's gotten her education from home so far, I'm merely curious what her new mother's role in her education is?"

    "Mother teaches health and exercise," I countered confidently. We'd covered this in our preparation.

    Yor may not have completely understood everything that we had been talking about, but she had certainly been paying attention, and knew when to step in.

    "Loid loves his daughter very much," Yor began. "And, being rather intellectual himself, has managed a simply amazing job instilling a love of learning into Anya. However, while he is a surprisingly excellent cook, and stepped up to handle the domestic duties of the house when it was just he and Anya, he tends to make too many rich dishes. Proper nutrition is necessary for good growth, but we certainly do not wish to overfeed Anya. Also, both of them were more inclined to curl up with a book than to play catch. Anya needs a healthy body as well as a healthy mind."

    Murdoch was taken aback. "Oh? So you make sure she gets healthy food, correct?" He turned to me, obviously sensing weakness. "So, Anya, what is your favorite food that your new mother cooks?"

    "Turnip greens," I said promptly. "Before Mother came along, I didn't know how nice greens could be. Now I love trying everything, especially things I've never had before. How will I know if I like them or not if I never try them?"

    That was a winner with Evans and Henderson.

    "And what kind of exercising do you do to keep such a trim figure?" Murdoch continued, still trying to portray Yor as some sort of shallow floozy, or something. It was going over about as well as a fart in an orchestra, but he kept pushing.

    "Mother is teaching me ballet!" I cheered proudly.

    That perked both the other teachers up nicely, and even Murdoch seemed taken aback.

    Yor acted a little bit demure. "Although I never had any professional ambitions, since I chose to focus on my career in government administration, I performed ballet quite a bit all the way through university."

    Yor had a college degree. And not just in murder. Wild.

    "Show them your Grand Adage, Mother!" I added enthusiastically. "And a Grand Jete!"

    Yor tried to decline, but Murdoch still hunted for a failure, and both Henderson and Evans were intrigued by the possibility of ballet. Loid also liked the idea, since she'd performed a bit for us already. Although she protested a lack of proper shoes and space to perform, Yor did graciously agree to put on a brief display.

    Remember how I said her legs were like pythons wrestling in tights? When she leapt into the air she practically exploded off the floor, high enough with legs outstretched that I could have walked under her with my hands all the way up. And her poise, balance, and control when she stood on the toes of one foot and showed off the moves of a Grand Adage were quite literally worthy of being a prima ballerina. Henderson was moved nearly to tears at the display of elegance and skill.

    "I want to be as smart as Father and as skilled as Mother," I announced boldly. "I understand Eden has a number of physical disciplines available, and I can't wait to try out for ballet."

    "I'm sure you'll do wonderfully," Evans announced with a smile. He glanced at his notebook, then back to me. "And in the spirit of completion, there's one more common question that we have yet to ask. We've heard answers from your Father, and your Mother, but now I ask you. Why do you want to attend Eden Academy?"

    "The simple answer is, Eden Academy is the best," I replied. "But I say that with perhaps a different emphasis than others you might talk to. I understand that Eden is the school for the elite, the wealthy, the powerful, the influential. There are social reasons for the wealthy and powerful to send their children here, a boost in reputation or refinement to say their children attend Eden. For most children, they want what they've been conditioned to want. To be seen as elite, better than everyone else. And while I acknowledge the reality and the importance of those reasons, I want to be clear."

    I stood up from my chair, acutely aware that every eye was upon me.

    "Their reasons are not my reasons." I gave them my best steely look, my eyes alight with passion and my hands clenched into fists.

    "I want to learn."

    I paused, letting them take me in.

    "If you allow me to attend this school, I will make the most of it. I want to learn music. I want to learn art. I want to learn Frankish, and Latin, and Aramaic, and other languages as well. I want to learn math. I want to learn ballet. I don't want just any education, I want the best education. Teachers that are experts. Curriculums that ensure I don't miss entire categories of knowledge. A school full of the opportunities to learn things I cannot learn elsewhere. It's said there are more than sixteen thousand books in the Eden Academy library. If I'm only going to be here twelve years, that's about four books a day I need to read if I want to read them all. But I don't want to just read the books. I want to learn the things that I don't even know enough about to know how to learn them. In short, I want everything Eden Academy has." I paused, breathing heavily before I continued.

    "Father tells me I also need to learn about people. Peers, rivals, friends, all the stuff I genuinely cannot learn by myself. I don't know about that kind of thing yet. Every other child I've met just seems slow. I relate to adults better. But if Eden Academy has students I can really talk to? Students more advanced, or even smarter than people keep telling me I am?" I shook my head. "That would be wonderful. I want to find students like that, and learn from them, too."

    Loid and Yor looked proud. The two headmasters who weren't assholes looked sort of genially tolerant, with a tinge of being impressed. Swan just looked sort of resigned, and a bit rueful. Even in his head he'd given up on fucking with us.

    The three briefly conferred before coming to a conclusion.

    Swan stood and offered his hand to Loid in a show of respect I honestly wasn't expecting. "I withdraw any of my misgivings, Mister Forger. There will be no accusations of cheating. Congratulations on your very well prepared daughter."

    Loid was gracious in his acceptance.

    Evans gave us the official results. "Although we generally keep the results a secret until the formal announcement, there's no point in being coy here. Welcome to Eden Academy, Anya Forger. We expect you to be one of our brightest stars."

    Henry harrumphed and got our attention afterwards. "Students at Eden are given the opportunity to join our elite group of particularly gifted students, the Imperial Scholars. As you probably know, achievements in learning, service, or other noteworthy ways are rewarded with Stella Stars. Getting at least eight stars automatically inducts you into the Imperial Scholars."

    Hmm?

    "Ordinarily, the elegant way you handled the stampede of animals would be worthy of a Stella, but I'm afraid we can't give you one, as you're not actually a student here, yet."

    Dang, but oh well.

    "However," and it might be my imagination, but I think light glinted off his monocle, "a lesser known tradition is the award of a Stella Star upon perfect completion of the entrance exam." He held up a long boney finger with immaculate manicuring. "That's a perfect completion, not merely the highest score of the year. Normally, that means a score of one hundred, which Anya did not quite achieve. But, given our failure to reward her for saving our guests, but also being both intelligent and gentle with our animals, and the fact that she did technically get every question correct…" He smiled at us. "I will be putting Anya in for a Stella the moment she officially starts the academy."

    "And I will second it," Evans added.

    Swan sighed. "And I third."

    "I look forward to seeing you in autumn," Henry concluded.

    x
    x
    x
    x
    x

    AN: The patreon is being shut down! I am pleased to report that I've finally lined up a new job which I will be starting at the end of the month. Thanks to all my supporters, I have survived this jobless period. Couldn't have done it without you. Everyone who is currently a patreon supporter will get moved to a mailing list and continue to have early access and special request rights, but no longer pay for it. Yay!

    Also, a heads up about Ice Pie. I'm taking a little break from it and working on No Promises, as requested by a number of supporters.

    Also, Gnomishness, I fixed the Desmond issue. Also went back and fixed spelling, grammar, and some other mistakes. Plenty left to find, though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2022
  22. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    Yay, update!


    QQ doesn't support the [ISPOILER] BBcode.

    Same, with the addition of an invalid [img] tag.
     
    Armana and Nugar like this.
  23. Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    But how did one of them work... I'm very confused.

    Also, irritated with myself since I apparently didn't double check the post like I thought I did. Thanks.
     
  24. Catacus

    Catacus Know what you're doing yet?

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    This is a lot more fun to read lol!
     
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  25. Gnomishness

    Gnomishness Making the rounds.

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    Thanks for making an edit due to my suggestion. It's nice to feel your concerns being addressed...

    But more importantly, that was an incredible chapter. 7x as fun as the actual scene in the series was, and the interview has probably been my favorite scene in all of the anime so far. Yet you just one-upped it. Incredible.

    Bravo.

    I hope you don't put too high of an expectation on yourself after this chapter, since I know how that can kill a person's motivation, but seriously, the drama, the character writing, the flow of conversation, the subtle world building...
    Even if you gave me a whole month, I doubt I could make something this good.
    This latest chapter was great.
     
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  26. Threadmarks: Ice Pie chapter 13
    Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    xxxxxxxxx


    After such an event, you might think I was riding high. And truthfully, both Loid and Yor were both very pleased and very excited.

    Me?

    “What the h-eeeck L-Dad?” I sputtered.

    He gave me a look I can only describe as sardonic.

    “I take it you’re upset about the bet?”

    “No, I’m upset that you brought the black coat with OF COURSE I’M UPSET ABOUT THE BET!” I exploded.

    Yor was giving me a funny look. Loid looked at me like he thought I was funny.

    “Don’t risk everything on a single event! Eventually, the coin’s going to come up tails!”

    “Anya, have you ever listened to yourself?”

    “What does that have to do with anything? I’m trying to be angry here!” I protested.

    Yor started giggling.

    “And you!” I cried, rounding on my ‘mother’. “You! ...Did great, actually. Never change. But ‘PA-pa-“

    Yor scooped me off the ground and gave me a bone creaking hug, enveloping me with a giggle.

    “EEEeeurk!” I squeaked. It’s like being wrapped up by pythons.

    Loid patted my head. Given I was currently trapped in some sort of smother-vise, I couldn’t protest.

    “Anya, anyone who talks to you, at least when you’re not pretending to be normal, can tell you’re a genius instantly. It’s fine. It’s okay to have confidence in yourself,” he said. “You did a great job, Anya. More than I could have ever asked for.”

    I grumbled quietly. It had to be quiet, I didn’t have the breath to get loud. Yor was treating me like some sort of plush doll, squeezing me again whenever her cuteness meter overloaded.

    We were on our way home.

    It felt good to think that.

    Home.

    Eventually, Yor transferred me to an easy hip carry, and I was able to reply to Loid.

    “Fine,” I grumbled. “But now we have to produce all those cognitive tests and such. They want genius? I’ll show them some genius.” I paused, giving it a thought. “I need to go some places. And I’m going to need some money to buy things.”

    “Given your accomplishments, I think a reward should certainly be in order,” he agreed placidly.


    xxxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxxx


    I will admit, not everything I asked for was one hundred percent mission related.

    My first visit?

    A pet shop.

    “This hamster is very cute,” Yor admitted. “I like his bulging little cheeks.”

    I came over, glanced at the little critter, and pressed my forehead to the outside of its glass fronted cage.

    Nothing. Well, maybe a hint of sensation, but nothing actionable. I definitely couldn’t sense the evil I know to lurk in hamster hearts.

    “They’re cute,” I admitted, “but the moms eat the babies pretty often, and they’re all more carnivorous than you’d think. Also they’re pretty bitey. Hard pass.” I pointed over to a cage of bicolored rats. “Rats and mice are nicer, and much more inclined to play with people.”

    I’d already checked the rats.

    Truthfully, I wasn’t here to buy, which I’d assured both of them. I just wanted to look.

    Actually, I just wanted to get close to them to see if I could telepathically pick up anything from them.

    So far, I wasn’t getting much.

    The cats were kittens, and I could pick up vague impressions of hunger or playfulness. They didn’t have any adult cats on site unfortunately. Also, the best way to get a cat is to wait for some half feral mog to adopt you, not shop for one like they’re a commodity. It’s disrespectful and, I dunno, results in an inferior bond between you or something.

    I had a similar problem with the puppies. They only had small breeds, and only puppies. I actually like picking out a dog, looking for specific qualities, but every dog is the bestest boy or girl so it generally doesn’t hurt the bond.

    I like rodents, and have some very fond memories of certain mice and rats I’ve had, but I don’t have time for a pet-pet. I’m looking for something to experiment with my telepathy, and they weren’t working.

    I got a bit more out of a guinea pig, as much as the kittens and puppies, but guinea pigs are horrible little monsters with human hands and human lips and absolutely zero redeeming qualities other than that, apparently, they are a tasty ingredient in south american cuisine.

    Other than hamsters and guinea pigs, I like most animals. But again, I wasn’t here for a regular pet. I got zip from the reptiles and tarantulas. A pity. A telepathic bond with a snake would have been pretty cool.

    I’m really fond of parrots, but I ran into a problem as soon as I got to the cluster of cages devoted to birds. They had cockatoos, and budgies, and finches, and canaries, and what I think was a mynah bird.

    They also had an african grey parrot in a big domed cage, bigger even than the ones the cockatoos shared.

    I looked at the parrot.

    “Hello,” I said, doing my best to project friendliness in my head.

    “Squawk!” said the african grey.

    */~SQUAWK~/* said the parrots mind, hitting me like a ball-peen hammer lobotomy.

    No birds, then. Shit that’s loud! It’s like the opera singer but without quite as much range, since it wasn’t a problem until I got close.

    Absolutely brutal volume, though. I was hearing some softer, more charming mental noises from the budgies and the canaries, but the mental honk of what must be the fucking Metatron, angelic voice of God, parrot sent me reeling.

    “Anya! What happened?!” Yor exclaimed, practically teleporting to my side. “Your nose is bleeding! Did you run into something?”

    I let her steady me and dabbed at my upper lip.

    Blood.

    ‘Well, there go my plans for the day,’ I thought as we left the store.

    But when I’m old and run my own multinational conglomerate and have to worry about other psychics stealing my secrets with telepathy, I’m going to surround my headquarters with parrots.

    xxxxxxxxx
    xxxxxxxxx


    Most of the stuff I asked for really was part of the mission, though. Music is important, so we finally got a record player and some records, and even better a small cassette player and even more cassettes. We looked at a VHS player but the damned things were insanely expensive in the mid-80s, so we mutually decided to hold that off as a reward for another Stella, or something equivalent. I got some art supplies and drafting tools, plus clay and sculpting tools. I also got a number of books. Through Frankie I also got access to some electronics and basic tools. Useful, reasonably priced LEDs weren’t really a thing yet, so I had to get incandescent bulbs and tinted filters.

    One of the biggest things I got was a typewriter. It’s much faster than writing, and also low key helps explain my lousy handwriting.

    The hardest thing to get was good quality silicone, for making soft body sculptures, but also molds for other things.

    We also took some trips out of the city, to various old growth forests and such. I got to see the Black Forest! That’s where my ham comes from!

    A joke I can’t share, because no one would get it.

    I mostly asked Yor, since she was the most physical of us, to escort me. Together we hiked, and bonded, and came back with some interesting bits of mossy, fallen logs, chunks of tree bark, and the occasional pretty rock. We came back with Loid and some tools when I found the perfect mossy tree stump.

    Yor had surprisingly cute sneezes. Turns out she was allergic to something, possibly spores, on the stump. We had to keep it in a bucket with a bag over it until I was able to get glycerin to kill and preserve the moss. I tried the denatured alcohol method but it was discoloring the wood.

    And then, I made art.

    I’d had some serious ambitions art wise in my first life. I carved and sculpted and painted and sketched. I airbrushed and I did spray can graffiti and I used brushes and rollers. I got all sorts of ‘how to draw’ books and practiced the lessons.

    Ultimately, I found out that I had no talent. I developed skill, because I really did try. I could look at a real life object, or a picture in a book, or some physical thing, and I could copy it fairly well. Even modify it a little.

    But producing things straight from my imagination?

    Couldn’t do it. Not and it look right. It was like some mental block, stopping me from turning the mental image I saw so well in my mind’s eye, to something real on paper or in clay or metal.

    But that sort of helped me quickly make a compressed timeline of my artistic efforts. Loid, and some of his support people back where ever, were faking a history of cognition tests and such. I helped with that, of course. Together with Loid we faked the data, and the actual unpublished ‘papers’ Loid had supposedly been writing as notes on my progress got faked by his support crew.

    But I handled the art bit myself. For ‘old’ crude stuff, I used my imagination. It mostly sucked, though I did manage a pretty nice western dragon, though it was similar to something I’d done before so it wasn’t pure imagination. Then, for ‘improved’ art, I switched to stuff from books. Flowers and sea creatures and prehistoric creatures (mostly sea life, again) and mushrooms.

    Lots of mushrooms. Easy and fun to draw. There are so many pretty ones.

    I also three-quarter assed some plush animal patterns of nonstandard plushies. Anomolocarus, of course, but also an ammonite, an octopus, a trilobite, and a Sally Lightfoot Galapagos crab, my favorite. I saw three-quarter because I really did try my best, but I wasn’t an expert seamstress. Most of the plans were sent back to Loid’s people to be turned into plushies.

    I kept the crab and the anomolocarus to have done at some place called Mona and Monacca’s, which was some sort of seriously elite tailor shop, as it was the only place in Berlint that sold Eden Academy uniforms.

    It figures it was also one of the places where the tres chic Yor shopped for clothes. Loid spent a pretty penny there on my clothes, I tell you what. Even Yor chipped in.

    My other art projects were mushrooms made from molded silicone, placed as if they were growing from the stump. Beneath that, hidden in the stand that displayed it, was a light and three light tubes made of clear glass filled with a bleach solution, then coated in a mirror solution. A primitive fiber optic replacement, in other words. A rainbow gradient color wheel placed in front of the light source spun slowly in place, and a three chambered pocket that kept the light tubes separate channeled the light from each section of the spinning color filter to the undersides of the silicone mushrooms.

    With three light pipes in play, the slowly spinning gradient filter made the visible, translucent mushrooms slowly light up and change in a wave of rainbow color.

    It took almost a month to complete. Loid wouldn’t let me do the soldering myself, even if I totally could, and Franky had to do it. It also took way more effort and probably ten times the price it would take with a basic set of RGB LEDs and some fiber optic strands in the future, but oh well. It was a conceptually easy project, and made a nice night-light in the corner of my room. Still needed a little fairy figurine to really finish it, conceptually, but it was still nice.

    Speaking of conceptually easy projects, I also designed a whole set of fidget spinners. A fully circular ‘zero’ lobed one. A ‘one lobe’ to be made from a connected pair of different sized but both small sprockets, linked with a small bicycle chain piece. And the rest were two, three, four, five, and six lobed versions of the classic fidget spinners that took over the world for a while in the aught-teens.

    The plans called for them to be made of brass and to have high quality bearings. Loid sent them along with the plans for most of the plushies. While we certainly could have them made here in Ostania, this was all supposed to be stuff we’d had for years as evidence of my ‘genius’.

    Following the fidget spinners, Frankie and I made a simplistic fidget ‘cube’ with various switches.

    Then we had to make another one, because Frankie wanted one. Frankie and Yor got along well enough. Between the fidget cube and the mushroom lights, he was over a pretty good bit.

    Not every project worked out. ‘Slap-bracelets’ were big schoolyard fads when I was in school in the slightly later mid-80s. I tried to make my own, sacrificing a big tape measure in the process. The problem was that, while the tape measure would stay straight without issue, it was the windup spring that forced it into a curl. It needed to be heat treated to do the ‘snap-curl’ bracelet thing, and that wasn’t an easy thing to set up. I ended up abandoning that project, unfortunately.

    Lastly, although we never had time to get them made, I started the concepts and sketches for my big debut into children’s toy genius.

    Building on the easy concepts of fidget spinners, I came up with two more ideas stolen from better designers than me.

    For girls, the flying Barbie spinner doll. Though not Barbie here. Probably go with a ballet theme. Swan lake, maybe, and some fairies. A relatively tall, rigid doll, with hinged arms that splay out into soft foam wings. Set the ‘feet’ in some sort of spinner-launcher device, pull on a ripcord, and send that thing flying like a helicopter without a tail.

    Right into a face, usually. That’s why the wings have to be soft foam, barely rigid enough for flight. Other popular landing destinations include fire places, dog’s mouths, over railings, or behind appliances.

    They’re really genius as toys because they get destroyed very easily, requiring frequent replacement. The expensive part is the launcher.

    Which will be reused with the products for boys, beyblades!

    Again, not really beyblades. I barely know anything about them. No one I knew ever bought any for their kids and literally the only thing I picked up through meme osmosis was that apparently dranzers were bullshit.

    But same concept. An arena, which will probably be kinda pricey. It’ll need to be a big metal bowl with a mostly flattish bottom. A wok, maybe. The launcher will be the same as for the ballet fliers, but will need some sort of triggered launch mechanism.

    I know that beyblades were more complicated than just a spinning top, but I don’t know the details. The first generation will probably be kinda simple. A few different tip geometries, a few different weight profiles, and a variety of different knobby rings for hitting and being hit.

    Toys work best with an attached story, so I had to come up with something. I was thinking some sort of League of Legends/DOTA style ‘warriors from all over’ plot, with lots of easily recognizable characters grabbed from cultures all across the world. Roman centurions, dual axe wielding fighters, samurai, halberdiers, spearmen, just all kinds of stuff. Whip up some art, get some prototypes made, write a story…

    Too bad I can’t draw comics. I’ll need to find someone. Maybe someone in Eden. Anyway, it’s a longer term project. Don’t want to use all my sleeve cards in the first hand. But being seen working on this stuff at school in my free time, then getting an actual toy company to make it, should impress people nicely.

    One of the more fun things I did before school started was use that typewriter and bang out some stories. Nothing directly plagiarized, though my fantasy story about the girl and her giant fucking bird looks a lot more original now that it predates all of the stuff it cribs from.

    All of that stuff took pretty much all the time I had between the interview and school actually starting. It was really busy. I didn’t really have time to truly study, not that I apparently need to. Really, the only true school prep stuff I did was exercising and the very beginning of being taught ballet from Yor.

    The time appeared to go by in a flash for me. I had my job, ‘be a genius’, and that was what I focused on, to the exclusion of most else.

    I imagine that time period looked very different through the eyes of the people around me.

    x
    x
    x
    x
    AN: Here's something from the last of the patreon posts, with minor edits. Patreon is shut down, since I have a full time job now. Thanks to everyone who supported me and helped me survive.

    I ain't saying things are perfect now, I'm still having some lingering health issues and my new insurance, despite being ludicrously expensive, still doens't want to pay for me to get an actual insulin pump. Also going from no schedule to fixed schedule always sucks. The biggest complaint I have is not having time and energy to write much, but that's typical. Everything is super busy at work right now because of back to school but in another couple of months all that calms down and I'll have more time and energy.
     
  27. Gnomishness

    Gnomishness Making the rounds.

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    The return!

    Loid's growing overwhelming trust in Anya's intelligence is going to cause problems in the future, isn't it? You've foreshadowed that wonderfully.

    For a setup chapter, this was great. Especially given how the manga chapter in this part of the timeline was my personal least favorite.

    I'm glad you're continuing this!
     
    Nickballas, Wolfsroses59 and Nugar like this.
  28. Nugar

    Nugar Not too sore, are you?

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    He's not wrong, exactly. I mean, Loid's an extremely intelligent man, and well familiar with the level of ignorance most people live their life in. So the thing that's impressed him the most isn't actually that she's already this good at learning, knowing a number of advanced subjects and such. Really, the bits that have quietly blown his mind in the background is the smaller things that she's done more to show off slash try to impress him so he won't throw her away. Things like figuring out that he's Twilight, or spotting the guy that passed him the dime with microcode in it. She doesn't think that's impressive of her at all, because with telepathy it's not. But that's the kind of thing that impressed him way more than just being able to do algebra.
     
  29. Zxzx24

    Zxzx24 I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Indeed.

    Though I think the most important lessons are for them to learn about each other. Much as they were for the show. This is just a slightly more serious take.

    Also hope future dog does show up!
     
    ravengt likes this.
  30. macdjord

    macdjord Well worn.

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    You accidentally threadmarked this post, FYI.
     
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