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Jun. 17th, 2015


A Return (Clara)

Leto sat on the high stool pulled up against the countertop separating the kitchen from the living area. He was very still, hands resting on the countertop in front of him. The eddies of time were sometimes so divergent as to be too blurry to fully see - but not this day. This day, he knew exactly what was coming. Or rather, who. He waited, dressed in a sand-colored collared shirt and a pair of casual jeans, boots on his feet. He waited, equal parts anticipation and dread welling inside him.

When the time was right, he dropped down to the floor, circled around to the kitchen, and set water to boil. Scrubbing the back of his hand against his forehead, he stared at the floor in front of his feet. Clara was not Oswin. He knew this. But there was so much about Clara that was very much also Oswin. Was it right to tell her? Was it right to leave it?

He knew that the questions were his and his alone to answer. She could go the entirety of her life here in the City without knowing that Leto had once met a girl name Oswin who lived in a shell - a girl who tricked herself that she was still living, still human... until, one day, he wished her human again. Clara never need know about Oswin, or about the time he spent with Oswin in the dinosaur-infested island. It was wholly up to him to tell her or not.

And he still hadn't made up his mind when the knock came.

Unhurriedly, he walked back out into the living area, through it, and to the door to his apartment. When he turned the handle and swung the door open, he still couldn't help the smile, despite everything.

"Hello Clara."

May. 30th, 2015


Re-routed. [Leto]

The watch was brilliant. Press a button and a tiny holographic map if The City showed up. It was better than psychic paper, and if she ran into anyone else to talked like her gran, might give her a little bit more credibility in the world saving department. She kept the map open as she ran, which made it difficult to remember to look both ways before crossing the street --


"Sorry! Sorry!" Clara apologized to the irritated motorist who stopped just in time. There was a twinge of terrible, overwhelming guilt just then as she stared at the driver shaking his fist at her. Her face fell. Her heart ached. She'd almost just died a boring, ordinary death. Her large, expressive eyes sparkled but she didn't cry. The car honked at her again and Clara had just enough sense to walk to safety on the other side of the road.

Before she could dwell, Clara looked down at the map on her watch and noticed that the map had shifted again.

"No! No! No! Why won't you let me go where I want?" she shouted. Clara looked up to check her surroundings, and found herself standing in front of a rather ordinary apartment building with two doors facing the street. Reluctantly, Clara remembered what Peggy said and checked her belongings. The address on her ID and key matched. One of the apartments was hers.

Clara exhaled, deeply irritated and pointed up accusingly at the sky, "Listen you! City, or whatever you're called! You brought me here. You knew what you were getting! Now there are people getting hurt. Why won't you let me help you!"

She probably looked a bit mad, shouting up at the sky, but she didn't care.

Dec. 26th, 2013


Fear is the mind killer. Fear is good. Fear is human. Fear isn't dalek. [Leto]

Oswin was excited for Christmas morning -- the presents, the food, the company and cheesy Christmas specials on the telly. She woke in her mind's eye and started to go through her daily routine -- patching up an imagined exit to her small craft, cleaning up from the attempted intrusion that came every night.

Being so close to Christmas, Oswin didn't let the strange message from the PathWeb bother her. Oswin had hacked the PathWeb before, a sort of locked down intraweb version of dalek telepathy. It disturbed her that a message should come in and use the same channel. Stranger was the message itself -- instructions on how to open a dalek shell from the inside. It happened at the City's tree and she tried to burry the meaning behind it.

All Oswin wanted was to have a lovely Christmas.

The time readout inside the craft said 5:52 AM. Leto would likely be asleep. Oswin sat in her imagined overstuffed captain's chair and turned on the view screen. The blue lens of the dalek's eyestalk flickered to life and focused on the tree.

And then Oswin saw her own lifeless body folded up underneath it.

The apartment was filled with a terrible, electronic noise. But it wasn't an alarm. The dalek was screaming.

Dec. 21st, 2013


A Christmas Wish

By now, The City had watched many of its denizens celebrate this thing called 'Christmas' and it was beginning to understand it better. It was a time for fir decoration. A time for singing songs. A time for creamy or apple flavored beverages. There were also presents.

The presents were the most interesting things to The City. It understood that the presents were designed to be special. To be meaningful. To express care. And The City did care about its people. Very much.

This year, it decided that it would participate in this 'Christmas.' And it wanted to participate in a big way.

A Douglas Fir sprung up overnight, positioned in the heart of The City. It was huge, dwarfing most multi-level buildings, bedecked in oversized copies of the decorations that previous and current citizens had used on their own trees. The Christmas star dwarfed the moon in its brightness.

But what to do for presents? The City had seen that presents were supposed to be personal. They were supposed to be something that made sense for one to give to the other. But The City did not know how to give presents in this way. It tried to calculate what would be right for every citizen - and failed. At last, it decided that it would grant one wish to each citizen. Just one. And it would do its best to fulfill it in a personal way.

Dec. 11th, 2013


Mastering the Art of French Cooking [Leto, Threadmas]

Oswin had become something of a fixture in Leto's apartment. With the exception of conversation the dalek shell never moved, staying motionless in the living room. Despite housing a supposedly human consciousness it lacked the need to move or even fidget. And in the dead of night, the dalek was an uneasy presence with only dim ambient light to outline its existence.

It was easy to wonder what Oswin did all day, and it was easy to forget that the classical music that frequently played in the apartment wasn't the radio being left idly on, but her own broadcast. It wasn't constant and it was hard to say if she realized she was even doing it.

To Oswin, there was plenty to do inside her imagined shuttle. She cooked. She cleaned. She decorated. She reinforced the door almost daily. There was ritual to keep her sane, or insane depending upon your perspective, and it was sometimes very time consuming. Every so often she would peer over at her view screen, particularly when Leto was in view. But given their circumstances they were less roommates and more long distance video pen pals.

She never followed him into his room or around the apartment. Oswin was just simply there. Some day, she realized, that wasn't going to be enough.

It was mid-afternoon and completing much of her daily ritual, Oswin started to prepare her kitchenette for another souffle attempt.

"EGG... STIR..."

That was strange to hear the cold, robotic voice of the dalek. Whenever possible Oswin preferred to broadcast her own human voice through the appliances in Leto's apartment.

“Sorry," she called out. "I must have pressed the wrong button.”

Nov. 16th, 2013


After the ball. [Leto]

She knew it was him. It didn't take a genius to figure that much out. Leto may have been covered in head to toe like a desert nomad from an alien world, but Oswin knew it was him all the same. He had been kind, generous with his laughter. She would have deduced that much even if he had not asked her to dance.

And the dance had been ridiculous and wonderful. Mostly it had involved spinning in circles, which unless you took dance lessons from Titanic wasn't much of a dance. But it was best Oswin could do. Leto had done everything that he could. Then, like Cinderella and every damaged damsel before her, Oswin left.

Only this time Oswin didn't wait for royalty to track her down. He had already approached her, made the first move, signaled that things were okay or that he wanted things to be okay. It was Oswin's turn to accept his offer.

The dalek drifted silently to his apartment door. She couldn't knock to announce herself. Instead she gently nudged the body of her craft against the door to announce herself. She was afraid, for him mostly, and for the first time she entertained doubt that the costumed man had been him at all. It occurred to Oswin that she cared for Leto.

That frightened her, too.

Without realizing it, all the electronics in Leto's apartment with speakers began to broadcast an Italian opera.

Oct. 30th, 2013


All Hallow's Eve Ball

On the long downtown street, the grand facade of the City Opera House glowed with light, hummed with excitement. Across its gleaming marble steps, all manners of beasts and birds and creatures of fantasy and myth climbed to enter the myriad doors. Across the doors, flung wide to the City this night, yards of red velvet lay in rich folds over the curved entrance archways and hung down the sides like blood. Running carpets of a matching color led the revelers into the opera house itself and directed them inside.

The Opera House itself was dressed for the occasion. The foyers, corridors, and adjoining rooms around the grand staircase had been divided into seven distinct 'rooms'. Six of the rooms were decorated and illuminated in a specific color: Blue, purple, green, orange, white, and violet. The last room was decorated in black and illuminated by a scarlet light. In this same room, a grand ebony clock stood, casting a foreboding pall.

Tables lined the back walls of each room, where polished tuxedos created and distributed all manners of cocktails. In the main ballroom - the white room - a standing orchestra played brilliant, glistening notes that carried throughout the opera house and invited all to join in dance. Along the sides, pristine waiters moved in and out carrying silver platters, some with hors d'oeuvres, some with bubbling champagne, some with deep red wine.

At precisely 8:30 p.m., the music turned screeching and sour. The lights dimmed, and from the depths of the black room, that great ebony clock tolled, strangely, on the half hour. From the grand staircase, came a figure dressed head to toe in red and black, with a death's head for a mask. As this figure descended, so too came a sense of dread and doom, and whispers filtered throughout the thrilling crowd:

-- The Red Death! -- Do not touch him! -- He's come for us! --

Just as the figure reached the bottom of the stairs, just as the shiver running through the crowd turned to something approaching panic, a single violin cried out a tense, shrill note, and a bass thrummed slow-building excitement. That figure held up his arms over the crowd, as if to curse them all. At once, from the crowd, came a single lady dressed in white, complete with wings and a halo. She ran to the base of the steps, and at once whipped off the mask and tossed it aside. From a nearby vase, and with an actress' flourish, she pulled a rose and tucked it into his lapel. The Red Death at once became that well known sinner Don Juan. He held out his hand to the single lady in white, that saint and angel who was his only love. And when his Christine was on his arm, the Opera Manager called out -- "Begin!"

At once, the lights crashed up, brighter than ever, and with them, the orchestra broke into vivid notes that dared every guest to forget their troubles and revel in the night.

After all, what was a ball at the Opera House without a little pageantry? The gala was off to a brilliant start, in true dramatic operatic style.

Oct. 27th, 2013


Waiting [Leto]

Maxine didn't question the adults who brought her to the hospital waiting room, or the nurses that said Wash wasn't able to have visitors yet. She sat in the waiting room with crayons and computer paper and spent the afternoon drawing pictures.

Eventually she was going to see Wash, or someone was going to take her to Jo and Ted's. None of that mattered, however, because Wash had been in an accident and was hurt. She wasn't panicked by the news. He was still alive, she could feel that much through the Red, but the idea that the person who looked after her could get hurt made her uncomfortable though she wasn't quite able to articulate why.

Maxine didn't cry. Instead she drew pictures of her and Wash in his spaceship and gave the stars smiley faces.

Oct. 17th, 2013


The Doctor Returns [Open!]

Cut for 'The Name of the Doctor' spoilers. )

The Doctor sat up suddenly from the ground. He was nowhere near Trenzalore. In fact, pulling out his sonic screwdriver and waiving it about in the air, he adventured to guess that it quite possible that there was nowhere further from Trenzalore that might have existed in all of Time and Space than from the very spot he occupied at that very moment.

"This is unexpected."

The Doctor frowned and scratched the back of his head, still puzzling over the readings from his screwdriver, which looked more like a handle with a tiny claw found in those ineffective crane vending machines with the cheaply made stuffed animals surrounding a tiny green light.

The Doctor's sonic did not retrieve stuffed animals from vending machines. Well, it could but that would be a very serious abuse of power and not to mention very undignified. The Doctor had only done that the once.

Standing up slowly, noticing that there were stars in the sky and his own timeline no longer appeared under attack. Well, first he noticed his own timeline was no longer under attack and that there were stars in the sky he did not recognize. Now that was a neat trick.

"Alright," he spoke to the air, "you've got my attention."

Oct. 4th, 2013


Killer robot on the loose! [Open!]

For about five months Oswin had been inactive, little more than a statue in the park, when Leto brought her back into the world. Now that she was active again, Oswin thought about revisiting Wash, or even Stark Tower. Floating aimlessly through The City, she saw an ad for Wash's shuttle service.

Good for him! she said in her mind's eye.

What she worried about was that she wasn't needed anymore. Or perhaps that she hadn't been needed at all. It was very lonely in her shuttle. Sometimes Oswin began to remember that it wasn't just a shuttle, usually when she thought about the doctor with the massive chin, those were times when she blasted her music and tried to clear her thoughts.

For the most part the natives were friendly. Or at least indifferent. Rarely though, Oswin got an entirely different reaction.

Oswin rolled up to a pleasant little cafe. Although she couldn't eat, she liked to look at the menu and remember what it was like to sit down and eat a meal that didn't come from her own kitchenette.

On this occasion, however, once the patrons saw Oswin coming close they ran screaming. Oswin paused, her eye stalk searching the street for the cause of the panic, unable to find one. It was almost as if some residents of The City remembered seeing something like her before...


No one answered Oswin as they fled. Why on Earth would they do that?

Sep. 6th, 2013


Watch How We ... (Wash)

Cars were quaint and just a touch distasteful. Carbon emissions, loud engines, the stench of exhaust... True, some of that still existed with the sky transport Leto was used to, but all the fuel his people used was renewable. He couldn't manage to get over his distaste just yet. So, his surprise and delight was expansive when he discovered that there was an air shuttle service in the City.

To see this place from the air was exactly what he'd hoped for. After placing the call for pickup, Leto headed down from his apartment and waited at the curb of the street. He wondered how the craft handled, wondered just what this strange place would look like from the sky. The great walls around it were fascinating. He wondered what was past them.

Today, perhaps, he would find out.

Sep. 1st, 2013


A Walk in the Park (Oswin)

By the time Leto finished exploring the apartment he'd been given, the day was nearly over. Eager to see more of the place where he'd found himself, Leto stepped back out onto the streets of the City. But his steps took him back to where he'd begun -- the City Commons, a lush park full of green things. At the palace back home, they'd kept a garden much like the park -- though smaller in size. This park, however, was something grand and beautiful. He wanted to see the rest of the City, yes.... and he would. But this luxurious green was still a wonderment.

He walked through it at a leisurely pace, staying off the pavemented sidewalks. At some point, he removed his shoes. Crushing grass under his feet as he went, Leto couldn't stop the smile on his face. It hadn't truly faded since he'd arrived. The immense sense of freedom was delicious. A whole new life to live. A whole new path. He only wished his twin sister were here to share it with him.

Presently, the sun began its slip down toward the horizon, filling the sky with fire. Only then, did he step onto the sidewalks. There was a bench close at hand, and he used it to sit while he pulled on his socks and shoes again.

A glimmer caught his eye as he laced up. When he turned to look, something large and metallic presented itself from the growing shadows in the park. It seemed to be a statue, but a strange one. When he was done with his shoes, he stood back up and approached it. The stillness of it would indeed suggest some sort of ornamental creation, or perhaps a monument. But there were no plaques to announce its meaning, and no base upon which it should have sat, were it a true statue. Leto put out a hand to the shell of it, and pushed lightly.

Jul. 31st, 2013


A Different Path (Baba)

Bare from the waist up, with every bit of his blood saturated in spice, Leto dropped to a knee beside the sandtrap in Sietch Jacurutu. He'd lived this moment countless times in his vision, this focal point. He went back -- he went forward -- but it was always here, here: the Golden Path began here. The choice his father could never make. The preservation of the future of humanity -- and all the terrible choices that must rise from this one. Gently, he lowered his hand toward the sand, touched it, slid his fingers deeper --

-- and found himself kneeling on lush, thick grass, blinking in the brightness of the sun. He was never for a moment confused: This was no vision. Leto stood to his feet. He was dressed in strange clothes - finely made, but not in any of the styles of the Fremen or the House Atreides. Stretching his arms out in front of him, he smiled a quirky little smile and then turned his attention fully outward, eyes closing as he breathed in deeply.

This was not Arrakis. This was not even his solar system. And this existence was wholly, blissfully free of the stagnation brought about the dependency on melange, the power of the Spacing Guild... and the Bene Gesserit... and the Kwisatz Haderach breeding program. Here, humanity's evolution would continue, unfettered from the traps of Arrakis.

His electric blue eyes snapped open again. At once, Leto began to smile. The smile grew and grew until at last he was laughing -- laughing warmly in the freedom. There was no need for that Golden Path now. Humanity was free.

Leto was free.