One step forward, two steps back followed by an all-out sprint.
...Hannah, honey, that's your cue?...
Events unfold including but not limited to:
“Han slow down, where are we even going?!”
With a frustrated growl I tugged her along behind me.
Despite her apparent need to complain about everything she didn’t actually use her overwhelming strength advantage over me to stop our forward momentum, so she’s obviously just moaning to be annoying, which I REALLY don’t need at the moment because I can’t find the workshop I was looking for and I can’t remember why I wanted to find the workshop, or what workshop I wanted or.. or.. um?..
We came to a halt in the middle of one of the more poorly lit workshops that we apparently made our way into somehow along the way and with a thought the roof rolled back to show a delightfully transparent quartz ceiling with bright sunlight past that, which really helped make the workshop look nicer, at least in my opinion.
“Why are we in workshop seventeen, Sare?”
My sister seemed to almost let off some kind of relieved huff in the few seconds it took for her to finally catch up to my side like a particularly slow puppy.
I don’t know why but Sarah’s been acting really odd lately?
It’s like she isn’t sure what’s going on or something, disorientated, that’s the word I was looking for!
While I waited for her to gather her wits together my eyes cut around the workshop.
One of my more boring storage spaces compared to the others I’ve needed to create over the last few months sadly.
A heavy sigh forced its way past my lips in frustration.
My potion’s running low again, I don’t know where the times gone, last thing I remember I’d downed two vials of the stupid green goo that keeps me lucid enough to be safe and I really doubt we’ve been doing... whatever we’ve been doing?... for THAT long at all.
“Huh?... so that’s where I left my Voodoo dolls...”
Without a thought I let Sarah’s hand slip from mine as I made my way over to the still strong smelling little figurines to give them a proper look over.
I can’t quite remember how far I got while working on them before they disappeared, apparently having been accidentally left on one of the desks in here through my travels.
It surprised the hell out of me when I first found Arista’s, beyond secret, stash of illegal drugs and ingredients tucked away in a heavily enchanted set of grow-beds.
She had them running pretty much autonomously inside a rather large room within the realm, one of several that I happened to leave disconnected from the main hallways while reshuffling everything around initially because no-one had been there in centuries.
Along with her apparent drug farm, a few other more useful places like her raw materials stash, enchanted objects stash and her own workshop which, to this day, I’ve been too scared to enter due to how much dangerously uncontrolled magic practically rolls out of its door when I come close, there’s an amazing amount of unsorted storage space just sitting in the void of my realm that I haven’t honestly had the interest or concentration available to deal with lately.
My thumb ran over the little thread of blood soaked material tied into a cord like bundle with some recognisable hair, obviously taken from my own head, which stuck out of the chest of the first hemp doll, thoughtfully as I assessed my own work with fresh eyes.
As things go, I seem to have done a pretty good job surprisingly?
I’ve seen worse before at least and from what I can see the slips of paper tucked into each limb of the doll with Mongolian, the native language of the first people to cultivate the so called ‘weed of dreams’ that I probably used to help with my spells potency when I use them, seem to be all in order.
With a bit of poking I managed to get a better feel on the most important one within the dolls head, sealed with resin from the same cannabis plants used to make the dolls themselves and marked with an Ankh to show who crafted it.
I really need to work on making my own symbol at some point...
Don’t get me wrong, I like the ones I use regularly, the Ankh, Wicca star and Yin-Yang symbols that were used on my suppressors thanks to Edith’s forward thinking, but when you really get into sympathetic magic and run out of cheap tricks to boost your power like I’ve found myself doing lately then your only option left for a power boost is to start refining things better.
Having my own ‘symbol’, preferably one built from the same elements that I’ve used in the past, could potentially give me an edge the next time I match wits with someone who knows sympathetic magic just as well as I do.
I know that technically the only person who could manage that would be Arista herself and she’s gone now but... but in my nightmares she’s still here?
I don’t know if that says something or not, but I’m definitely not taking chances on this one.
If that parasitic bitch decides to somehow come back, just to spite me probably, then I’m going to be bloody READY for her this time!
I swear on my stupid broken core that I’ll be ready!
The second doll needs a bit of tweaking, I must have gotten a bit distracted at the time, I’ll have to sort it out before I try using them on any kind of defensive spell just in case the-
My head swayed to the side instinctively to move away from Sarah’s loud, angry yell right next to my poor ear.
“What’s wrong Sare?”
Her chest was raising and falling rapidly for some reason as she glared at me with her hands clenched into tight little balls.
“Are you okay? You look really upset for som-”
“Am I okay? Am I OKAY! Are you bloody okay?!”
Her fingers twitched slightly as if she wanted to reach out and strangle me but she quickly pulled them back into those same painfully tight looking fists at her side instead.
“You went dead still and stopped answering me for over three minutes! Those stupid dolls you were holding are pulsing with magic and I didn’t have any idea if they’d done something to you or... or...”
Without warning her words trailed off and her lips trembled a few times before she surged forwards and pulled me into a tight hug instead of finishing what she was going to say.
I felt a bit confused over her odd reaction at first but after a few seconds pause I relaxed into her hug and looped my arms around her to hold her awkwardly as she shook in what could be rage, happiness or just suppressed tears in general for all I know at this point.
I really need to start paying more attention to this sort of thing.
I’m out of practice dealing with people sadly and that’s a skill I’ve probably taken for granted too much in the past honestly.
Slowly Sarah’s shoulders loosened up and her shaking reached a point where I felt safe pulling back to stare at her gently.
She offered me an awkward, slightly apologetic smile in return which I took as an encouragement to move on with what my instincts insisted was the right thing to help Sarah calm down a bit better.
“Wanna see something really cool Sare?”
Her smile twitched up a little bit more at my enthusiasm which was all the encouragement I needed to keep going at this point.
Although, to be fair, it’s not like I need much of a push to show off some of my new toys in reality.
I AM kinda proud of them after all!
“This way Sare, keep up!”
A playful giggle rolled past my lips which made her smile widen just a little bit more.
This is going to be fun, I can’t wait to see her reaction to my biggest completed project to date!
After a few false starts we came to a stop at a blank stretch of wall which I’m pretty sure is the correct one this time.
My knuckles came up to rap on the wall a few times, mostly just for show considering this realm is practically under my complete mental control these days but you don’t just make doors appear out of nowhere without some sort of gesture to warn everyone what you’re doing, it’s the principle of the thing after all.
For a heartbeat nothing happened but then the wall folded away to reveal the, usually sealed from contaminants, chamber inside containing my prototype magical satellite.
With a happy giggle I practically skipped forward to start checking that the calibration hadn’t slipped or anything equally stupid, leaving Sarah at the entrance in some odd state of stasis or confused hesitation which I really hope isn’t a permanent thing because honestly it looks kinda undignified from this angle.
When it became obvious she wasn’t going to move any time soon I turned my attention back to the launch platform instead.
As always the left cradle needs a bit of tweaking for some reason that I’ve yet to work out, it always does that if I leave it alone for a while and by the Powers have I TRIED to work it out because it’s bloody annoying an-
My arms flew out childishly as I turned away from the calculations in my head to face my apparently returned to reality sister instead.
A curiously raised eyebrow and slight tilt to my head was all it took to get her speaking again luckily.
“Why are the words ‘Never try time travel agai-’ written on that wall in what looks like still wet blood?”
Slowly my eyebrow twitched in annoyance at how easily distracted from my much more interesting and impressive mix of magic and technology, Technomancy, as its slowly becoming reluctantly known in the magical world, she is...
She’s not going to let the subject drop unless I at least pretend to humor her though sadly.
With a frustrated huff I turned to look at the wall she was staring at and glared at it harshly.
The words are still there, just as always, just as boring as ever.
Whoever wrote them had terrible handwriting; either that or they were in a rush at the time, an idea that’s sort of backed up by how the ‘n’ on the word ‘again’ is smudged to a point of being practically unreadable by what looks to be a small palm and fingers trailing themselves down the wall to rest at the bottom.
The whole ‘design’ is finished off by a surprisingly distinctive handprint just off to the side from the trail at the bottom, as if they tried to write more after coming to rest down there but couldn’t.
“I dunno? It just kinda ‘appeared’ there one day... no idea how or why really, but its good advice and the red sets off the copper-wire colors on my, much more important and impressive looking, SATELLITE!”
With a swinging wave I tried to bring her attention back over to my masterpiece instead of that annoyingly stubborn wall.
I’ve tried to clean it but despite the continuously wet look to the blood, it’s apparently resistant to being wiped off. The wall itself seems to actually block me from moving, shaping or generally removing it too, which would honestly be a bit more worrying if it wasn’t so aggravating at the same time!
Like it or not, I have a wall covered in not-wet, wet blood writing in here forever now apparently?
I guess technically the wall could be quantum locked into a state of permanent stasis, a bit like Sarah was when she first saw it really, but that would imply that time travel is a real thing with the more worrying addition being that someone messed up time in general somehow and THAT would just be STUPID because time travel is far too insane to be real... no matter how useful it could potentially be if it WERE real...
“Come on Sarah, I show you my genius in action and you focus on some stupid finger-painting!”
She didn’t seem entirely convinced of either my point or my sanity but at least she’s looking at me now.
“Look! Satellite, me make-y by myself, with magic and science and kinda with luck too, impressive?”
Again, she didn’t look too convinced and I caught her eyes slowly inching back towards that stupid wall again.
I allowed myself a frustrated growl at that one just on general principle, even Bitey was more impressed then this when I showed it to him damn it!
In a flurry of eye-catching movement I leapt up onto the launch pad, grabbed the basketball sized tangle of wires and wire-mesh that I call my ‘delivery sphere’ up from its previous position floating at the center of the launch pad and tossed it over to Sarah with slightly more force than strictly necessary.
Showing once again why she’s the ‘athletic’ twin in our now broken twin-ship, she managed to catch the ball out of the air by hugging it to her chest with little-to-no warning, which kinda annoyed me honestly because I was aiming for her head.
“Ta-Daa! See, much more impressive... you’re not clapping? Why aren’t you clapping?”
I scripted this whole scene out in my head a thousand times during my off days in here, she always clapped when she got her hands on the satellite and truly understood my genius at last.
She hesitated, her eyes jumping from the ‘ball’ in her hands and back up to me with more than a bit of worry on her face for some reason.
Oh THAT’S why she’s not clapping!
She’s got her hands full, how silly of me, I completely missed factoring in that part when I envisioned this moment before for some reason?
With a careless shrug I lent myself heavily against one of the four support cradles of the launch pad and started my spiel anyway, the problem of Sarah going off script solved, at least for now.
She has a nasty habit of forgetting her lines sometimes I swear!
“This, is my Satellite.”
Her eyes shot up to mine for a second before glancing sceptically down at the ball in her hands yet again.
“...It's a ball of wire...”
“Well... yes, and no?”
My arms came up to fold defensively under my chest, my eyes narrowing slightly at the mix of confusion and disbelief obvious on Sarah’s face.
I’m getting pretty annoyed with having her send those weird looks at me lately!
“Wanna run that one by me again, in English please, Han.”
“Subjectively yes, it’s a ball of wires, and actually no that wire mesh is there to hold the other components inside safely while providing a core that I can build other shapes around.”
She rolled the ball between her fingers, staring at it with that thoughtful, interested expression on her face that I’d been hoping for from the start of this messy introduction.
“Inside the mesh is several bags of magically-compressed fine powder materials, base-components and anything else I could think of needing, all surrounding a main mini-wardstone I’ve designed specially to handle several tasks from remote viewing to transmogrification, material summoning and even storing a mini-waypoint beacon that I can use to send extra materials up there in case of an emergency or if I decide to make an extra satellite someday to save time I can-”
I trailed off as Sarah rose her hand up in the universal ‘stop talking’ gesture with a frown on her face.
“You’re losing me Han, stick to the basics, I promise I’m very impressed but save the technical jabbering for John, okay?”
That’s... surprisingly reasonable of her?...
I can work with that!
“Okay, so one of the biggest problems with normal satellites is that their BIG, and therefore hard to get up into space while being practically unchangeable once they’re up in orbit, with me so far?”
She nodded with just the slightest hint of an exasperated smile on her lips at my expense.
“There’s a trick in sympathetic magic where you can make an object ‘mirror’ it’s partner across great distances, it’s usually been used in the past as a way for quick-covert mail delivery by pairing sets of notebooks, because mages are stupid and have no imagination so they find a use for something and then stop, because their super-stupid, and ignorant, and frustratingly-”
I stalled out again as Sarah rose her hand to interrupt.
It took me a few seconds to realise why she would be doing that and when I did I shot her a thankful smirk in response. The potions wearing thin, but it’s not completely gone out of my system yet, strong emotions prompt stronger effects from it so my annoyance at peoples stupidity in general took me into babbling territory for a second there.
“Anyway, I read online a while ago about this science thing called ‘quantum entanglement’, which sounds a lot like what the mirroring spell does, but on a much smaller scale at the moment due to technological limitations. At the time I found it interesting, if kind of confusing, and ended up skimming through some of the more fanciful, half-joking ideas people were putting out for what entanglement could mean in the far-future and that got me thinking...”
Sarah cringed for some reason.
“HEY! Be nice!-”
She snorted under her breath and gave me another disbelieving look, shifting my delivery sphere under one arm so her other one could settle onto her hip, a hip that she proceeded to cock to the side in a show of distain I’ve not seen her pull off that well since our teens.
“-Well, as I was saying, one of the biggest ideas people were bouncing around was for either faster-then-light communications for deep-space voyages or somehow breaking the ‘teleporting’ aspect of the entanglement to create a real life version of the ‘replicators’ from Star Trek to make stuff from practically nothing an-”
I stalled to glare at her lightly for interrupting again.
I’ve not even gotten to the good part yet!
“So this ball of parts is my payload, I need to fire it up into space obviously but once it’s up there then I can activate the rune chains I’ve embedded into the wardstone and-”
My hand waved dramatically making the back-wall behind me fall away with perfect timing.
“-force the stone to turn all those stored raw materials through in-built transmutation arrays and a LOT of math into a perfect replica of whatever is in THIS area to the best of its ability!”
This time I couldn’t blame Sarah for the blank, astonished look on her face.
While the launcher platform is housed in practically a cube shaped little cave tucked off from one of my old workshops, I quickly found that satellites in general are a lot bigger than they look on TV and I needed more space to work with as time went on.
The roughly marked out square area, signified by the warning tape draping all over it in bright yellow and black, along with its surrounding walkways I left in to make working in general easier look even better with my current ‘final’ design model for what the fully deployed satellite will look like sitting in the center of it too.
“That’s a spaceship?”
No, it’s a Satellite, thank-you-very-much my poor deluded sister!
A big satellite which doesn’t really look like a ‘conventional’ one by the shear fact that I don’t need silly normal things like heat insulation, solar panels, antennas or anything else really inside it when I can recreate every use you could imagine for it with a specially calculated, one of a kind, plug-in-and-play rune system of my own design, I’ll grant you... but it’s still just a Satellite.
If I wanted a spaceship I’d have made it MUCH bigger!
The pressurised internal area is shielded from pretty much everything, thanks to magic obviously, but due to boredom more than anything else I kept things to a basic level with just about enough space inside to fit one of my workshops, swivel chair and all, next to the wall-mounted array of ‘slots’ left open and ready to receive any of my new mini-wardstones that I want at any time with just enough room to let me go up there and fix something personally if I have to.
Plus, let’s see John-boy ruin THIS bolthole if I ever need to run- uh, ‘take a break’, again without warning him first!
“There’s a specially designed long-range warp point setup on-board already, it was one of the first mini-stones I produced and it’s keyed specifically to my magic so I should be able to kinda ‘half-Bula warp’ up there safely if I need or want to... obviously adding that meant I had to work on oxygen scrubbers next, and a water’n’food source, which both became a lot easier after I somewhat drunkenly applied a bit of logic, a bit of brainpower and a butt-load of math into changing the ‘mirror’ spell so that it draws from a set of stored patterns instead of a direct analogue to source it’s reproducti-”
She’s giving me that look again... why’s she giving me that look again?
“You are unbelievable, you know that?”
“Why? This is all really easy; it’s just applying sympathetic magic in a new way with runes to get the outcomes I needed at the end of the day. The biggest problem I had was working out how to get geo-synchronous orbit going properly while avoiding collision or detection from the normal government junk up there, which took a bit of work because it turns out fire-magic doesn’t like being contained or produced by a rune pattern for very long an-”
I paused and looked at her in confusion once more, I was just getting to the interesting bit damn it!
Slowly her hand came up in an almost perfect mimicry of me when I’m getting a headache as she squeezed her nose with her eye’s scrunched up tightly in obvious pain of some kind.
“...Stop talking, please?...”
Excuse ME, for being proud of the stuff I’ve done over the last three months.
It’s not EASY creating amazingly new technomantic devices while under the influence of some of the world’s most potent psychotropic drugs, ya know?!
I kinda had a helping hand with all the lovely new knowledge from millennia of magical studies that I stole from Arista of course, but I still had to design and make the bloody stuff!
I still am in-fact... in-fact, you know what?
SCREW IT! I’m getting back to work, so THERE!
With an angry growl I shouldered my way past Sarah’s taller form and made tracks towards my current ‘main’ workshop where the little mini-wardstone I’d been working on earlier, before her and John decided to interrupt me, was sat.
The little teardrop shaped rock is still only partly engraved due to a rather frustrating problem I’ve come up against in trying to make a working rune-matrix that can power magical ‘lasers’ I can fit to my awesome satellite, for defensive purposes naturally, mostly coming about when it turned out that actual ‘normal’ lasers don’t work the way they are supposed to on TV in real life apparently.
We’ve had decades, possibly more than decades, of ‘Sci-fi’ showing us how laser-guns are supposed to work, why the hell do I have to be the first mage who wants to make them real with magic?!
It can be really frustrating being the only person in your field striving to make something NEW for once and it’s even worse when-
“Han, wait up!”
With another frustrated growl I picked up the pace and practically sprinted through my workshops to put some space between us before I snap at her properly.
I need another dose or three of my potion, right, bloody, NOW!
My humming stopped which was a little odd because suddenly the vibrations radiating around in my head stopped with them making me feel momentarily light-headed.
That problem didn’t last for long though and I spun away from my desk to offer her a nice big socially acceptable grin in response to her questioning tone.
I want to say her names... Sahara?... Sally, Simone, Simon? Sam, Sully, Steve? Sa-, Sa... there’s definitely a ‘Sa’ in there somewhere.
With a twitch good-old Righty came up to slap me back into reality after I started slipping into a sa-, sa-, sa-
SARAH! That’s her name, good old Sarah, I remember now, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah...
“Are you feeling okay Han?”
My smile went up a notch and I nodded helpfully.
Righty twitched at my side as if it wanted to slap me again but Lefty moved quickly to stop its usually more helpful twin instead.
“I feel great Sarah, how are you?”
For some reason my smile didn’t have the desired effect I was trying to achieve in helping her feel welcome so I let it slide into a more neutral, yet slightly whimsical, lopsided smirk instead.
“Damn it, you’re completely wasted again, aren’t you?”
For a moment I thought she wanted me to confirm that idea for some reason but she beat me to answering the question all on her own, which left me cocking my head to the side in confusion over why she asked in the first place.
“I need to get this suit you put on me, off again, Han... I need...”
She hesitated for a moment before ploughing on anyway.
“I need the bathroom, okay? So you need to do whatever you’ve gotta do to turn this thing back into its big loose form so I can go quickly an-”
“Why would you need to take it off?”
My eyebrow rose to join my left ear in fixing her with a curious look of confusion that my already cocked head was showing ever-so-nicely anyway.
“The suits are permanent, taking them off would be most impractical and not to mention stupid beyond belief because it would negate all the protection they offer.”
She growled my shortened name out in frustration making me cock my head to the other side for a better look at her face in case I’m missing something here.
“-Han, I get it, your tripping out of your mind right now but can you just PLEASE be serious for a second?... I REALLY need to go and this suits going to be pretty ruined if I can’t get it off pretty damn soon!”
I stared at her for a few seconds trying to work out how something can be both ‘pretty’ and ‘ruined’ at the same time, but then she did this silly little dance on the spot, rubbing her thighs together for some reason and distracted me yet again.
“What do you want Sarah? The suits are important to stop Arista from freezing you to death so I can’t exactly-”
“DAMN IT HAN, I NEED TO PEE!”
I pulled my head away from her due to the volume involved but quickly settled back into my seat as an even more confused frown formed on my lips moments later.
Why is she complaining about THAT of all things, I’ve had that sorted since the second suit prototype after all an-
“HANNAH! Seriously, jus-just tell me what to do here? Fine, I won’t take the suit off but... is there a fly, or a zipper, or something that I just can’t find?!”
Ohhhh... well, this is kinda awkward?...
After a moment’s thought I ended up giggling to myself about the whole situation, which probably had some kind of ‘cause and effect’ relationship with how red her face suddenly started going just because of the timing, although I can’t think of why really.
All of a sudden she burst into action and pounced so quickly that she had me pinned to the floor before I realised what was happening, her face flustered and breath heavy but anger burning in her eyes.
“The suits are self-cleaning?”
The words squeaked out almost automatically to her unasked question, as her elbow came down towards my throat for leverage with almost dangerous precision.
For a few long seconds she froze in her position above me but then the arm restraining me went slightly slack, enough so that I managed to get Lefty free and with a bit of effort press the deactivation runes at my throat which I designed to make the suits perfected ‘I don’t exist’ array turn itself off temporarily.
Her eyes widened as she took in the sight of my suit, or at least what was visible of it from underneath my clothes, which basically consisted of the long sleeves, gloves, high-neckline and possibly a hint of stomach considering how quickly she threw me to the floor in her frustration.
“Toilets are impractical, Shower Monsters are scary and Periods are annoying, so I fixed it?”
Her mouth dropped open in some strange mix of shock and horror at the same time that made me want to start studying her again, but I should probably wait until she lets me up off the floor for that at least an- details!
That’s what she needs; details, then she’ll let me get back to work.
“The suits skin-tight in a literal sense, internally there’s a mesh of tightly packed runes which destroys anything excessive and ‘new’ produced after the initial ‘scan’ the suit did of you before it activated the fitting process you went through at first to a reasonable degree. Liquids are transmogrified into base components for either disposal or use in repairs if needed, same with solids including body hair.”
She still didn’t move so I decided to switch encouragement tactics slightly.
“I told you before that you could go to space in this thing, didn’t I?”
A grin played across my lips which I’m pretty sure is encouraging, either that or annoying, I can’t remember which at the moment.
“I meant that quite literally too, aside from a propulsion system which I still haven’t quite finished making for the Satellite, let alone making the array small enough to fit on the suits, you are your own self-contained unit now and can survive pretty much anything the universe can throw at you for the most part. There’s even a ‘helmet’ bubble of constantly generating air you can turn on to help you breath too if you press your thumb into the three main magic lines running up the underside of your right wrist.”
Finally she seemed to understand what I was saying at last because her shoulders slumped slightly and she rolled off of me so I could get back to my feet.
I watched with only a mild amount of confusion and curiosity as she curled in on herself for a few moments, until her legs twitched slightly and her face went a lot more ‘red’ then I think is entirely healthy for a human-being in all honesty.
“Damn it Han! You thought of everything as always, but still damn you! Thi-this is the most embarrassing thing you’ve ever done to me...”
My hand came up with a finger raised to correct her on that one.
Considering I once let her leave the house to go play as part of a parent-suggested ‘play date’ in our backyard wearing only a tutu and diaper when we were two, despite my better judgement at the time saying it was a bad idea, this really isn’t the MOST embarrassing thing... but after a moment’s hesitation I decided that it would probably just lead to more drama if I pointed that fact out and I really need to get back to work before John breaks another wall down with his ‘Koo-ya-ore’ no doubt, whatever the hell that is, obviously interrupting me yet again in the process.
I settled myself down in my chair and picked up the rune-covered mini-wardstone again to go back to my calculations, only half-paying attention as Sarah slowly eased herself to her feet with an awkward, slightly bow-legged, stance which I found odd considering the self-cleaning enchantment on her suit should activate instantaneously.
With a partial shrug I forced myself to focus entirely on the mini-stone instead, only just catching her final grumbled words before losing contact with the world in general as the numbers became everything I could ever need once more.
“...Damn you Hannah Cooper...”
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