The story that was supposed to happen but became bullet points instead
The Lab was misbehaving.
Shy stared askance as the lab faded in and out of existence, followed by bells and whistles and a gratingly annoying ‘whomp whomp whomp’ sound. He stood, hands on his hips, head tilted as the lights started to flicker on and off.
“What is it doing?”
Imraan slowed his steps, pausing alongside the Scientist. “I think” he answered slowly, amusement in his tone. “It is throwing a temper tantrum.”
Shy threw up his hands in disgust. “A tantrum?” it made even less sense. “Why would an island need to throw a tantrum?”
A loud ‘whomp whomp’ noise followed by what could only be called a dismayed cry of a whale followed.
“Did it just. Talk back to me?”
Imraan nodded, crossing his arms as he stared at the island. Amusement glinted his eyes, as well as a shade of worry. “He’s never been so vocal before.” He murmured.
Shy stared, fascinated. “What do you think it- he” he amended quickly. “Wants?”
Imraan sighed, patted the Scientist on the back. “That is for you to figure out, daddy dearest.”
- The elemental was Not Happy. He recognized some of the metallurgy talents of the Imperial Guard: very specific gifts that Shy had studied on him. “Is nothing sacred any more?” he mutters like an old man, talking to himself and not expecting an answer.
- Except something does. The Labs.
- Kotor is not sure what to make of his home island; it has started to communicate with Projects in pictures or in sounds, and while he does not mind the company, he does not appreciate having a sentient island disapprove of his smoking habit.
- As Kotor lights a cigarette, the sprinklers switch on.
- Getting the hint, Kotor goes outside to the balcony, lighting up and watching the stars. So much talk of warfare, of battles and strategies against a group of dragons. The elemental considers himself above all, and does not quite understand why they need to get involved in a fight between evolved lizards.
- The elemental has no plans on getting involved.
- He says as such outloud to the Lab, who seems to agree with him, regurgitating yet another set of Death Court bones. (How many zombie dragons had the island consumed?)
- “Maybe we can get out of here. Go somewhere else. Avoid the war.”
- The Lab thinks this is a very good idea.
- Scene cuts to Essai, a young mortal student taking notes diligently in one of her many classes at Carramba High. She giggles at something the professor says, texting Ari: can you imagine a class on Ethics? At the Labs? she asks. “When no means no.”
- Emojis and gifs flood the chat.
- The human student and daughter to high level council members at the Vella Crean was one of many students sent to Carramba High. To study, and to better equip themselves for the world. The Nexus has reconnected, and there are many things that they do not know.
- Essai has a talent for detail and memorization, wholly human her parents claim, but some wonder if maybe there was an ancestor who was augmented (or maybe, one had molten gold eyes). She believes she is lucky to have been selected by Ari to be the human counterpoint at the Council. To liaise and work with the Aide on all matters related to the Empress and Shy: because for a grandmother still healing from a coma, the Empress has ambitious plans for their city.
- Essai does not mind. She finds the studies delightful, some a bit painful, but overall, she thrives at the school. Studying, she knows, is something she can do. She worries about when the time will come for practical applications, but so far everything seems new and exciting.
- Essai picks up on rumours of an interesting project that a group of professors are working on. She shares the news with Ari, wondering if there is a connection with Shy, and receives expletives as a response.
Ari, Shy, the Lab
- “What is this? What are you doing? Haven’t you added enough on my plate?” Ari is not happy to discover that the Scientist has been cavorting around Carramba High working on a new project. In fact, she realizes now that there had been a period of time of suspiciously good behavior (she handles all the legalities and paperwork whenever Shy “forgets” the rules of Carramba, and there had been that suspiciously long span of two weeks of no reports).
- Shy says it’s not his fault. There was a dinner, with a few drinks, and really, with a collection of so many bright minds, what were they supposed to do in their free time? (Well, they did that as well, but that was hardly the point). A Cybercourt, bringing together the best minds and technology and, (okay boomer) some trends that Shy realizes he is a little bit behind on.
- “You can build new Technology Projects here. Why dragons? Why a new court?”
- Shy’s answer is simple.
- Why Not?
- In hindsight, it was probably not a good idea to goad the Aide.
- A sudden and unexpected trip is planned for Carramba High. Ari needs to take a look at all the paperwork and processes, and figure out what they might be liable for should things not work out in their favor.
- The Lab arrives just outside of Carramba, and decides: well. This is nice. It could be a new home.
Kotor, Essai, the Lab
- Kotor finds Carramba High interesting. He enrolls himself to audit Computer Basics (no Kotor, you are too old to be considered a student) and delights in the class. Shy has barely started working on any tech related Projects: and Kotor starts to think of his future progeny. Almost all tech is to some extent metal based, is it not?
- Essai delights in meeting Ari in person, and both student and Aide bond over a very giant bottle of wine, giggling as they come up with theoretical classes that Shy should be taking. (Sexual Harassment 101, “the art of diplomacy”, “no, you can’t put that there”).
- Shy, satisfied to see that Ari is not furious with the Cyber Court, decides that it is time to return to the Vella Crean. He commands the Lab-
- – who refuses to move.
Shy, the Lab
- “Puberty. The Lab is going through Puberty.” Shy doesn’t understand. He has had very young Projects who grew up and matured after their creation: Aki was a good example, a loyal and dutiful dragonrider at Dawn Watch. He had also cared for Projects when they had been with child, had cradled newborns in his arms.
- But this was a sentient island. It was not supposed to throw a temper tantrum outside of a highschool, and it was definitely not supposed to play loud electronic music in defiance.
- “Do you want to stay here?”
- A sharp toot of horns, and a noise that could only be described as ‘well duh’.
- “As a residence?” a blare that could only be defiance. “A… candidate?”
- Surely not.
- A burst of canned applause greets his words, and Shy stares.
- “No, it can’t be done.”
- Ari finds petty pleasure in parroting his words back to the Scientist: Why not?
- Essai is delighted at the thought of being a candidate for the cybercourt clutch. How special, how unique! She obediently sits through the medical examination, and finds the entire process very scientific.
- Essai isn’t sure if the application is supposed to be a six hour exam, or if it is supposed to run the gamut on all the courses she had taken until now. (The bonus questions asking her to write out scenarios in which Shy has gotten into trouble, and how she would defend him to the rest of the council? She is sure that they must be a joke. Right? You couldn’t possibly be grading her for a dragon, based on how she plans to interact with the Scientist?)
- Kotor is less delighted: he is too old to bond a dragon. He is not some bright eyed Project freshly out of the Lab, eager to serve Shy. He wants to be left alone, and in peace! But the thought of a special dragon with supposedly new powers? To do with electricity and technology? That makes him take pause: maybe it would be an interesting experiment. The few classes he had audited had been enough to teach him of new opportunities he had not considered.
- The thought of anyone Shy adjacent directly handling his bodily fluids is unacceptable, so Kotor submits a series of intricate metal disks, intertwined like a tangled slinky. “This is part of me, it will do.” he says.
- Kotor sits through a three hour example, initialling and signing the application document as if it is a contract. Wait, you are supposed to answer questions? I thought there were just rherotical scenarios. Kotor is confident that he has passed. Maybe.
- The Labs. Ah. Shy offers the Lab access to avatars to walk the campus, to tour Crescent city and to travel in person to the Dome for samples to be taken.
- The Lab shoves all the avatars into a room and removes the door.
- It emails a heavily encrypted file as part of its application: mostly it is full of music it has collected, a few seasons of Doctor Who, and videos of Shy sleeping. (Totally not creepy). It attaches and intricate and complex piece of code, which when played, is a jaunty little tune that Shy explains is the Lab’s “theme song”.
- The Lab takes up permanent residence, just a little on the outskirts of the highschool (close enough for Essai to visit), and seems to shrink so it is only a little larger than a neighborhood.