self_composed: (Default)
Bella comes home and tells everyone who knew she was gone that she has come back, and everyone who knew Jane was down that she is up.

And then she brainphones Janine, who knew neither thing. [Hey, Janine!]
self_composed: (h ~ calm)
Jane has been out a while. Not that long. It is not yet time to panic; really it wouldn't be anyway, not with everybody in Eos belonging there and everyone belonging there in Eos. Bella is worried, but mostly for social reasons, not practical ones.

square one

May. 2nd, 2013 12:26 am
self_composed: (i ~ thoughtful)
Bella spends the first ten minutes after Jane misses a scheduled filtered-email-dump staring at the Janepoint, flaring aura at it, willing it to work. This is what her aura is supposed to do, right, make electronics work?

It doesn't help. Nor does wishing.

She sends a general announcement to her staff and Alice:

[Jane broke. I don't know how, but I can't fix it. She could come back at any time. Till then we're back to the door standard. Please let me know instantly if you do find a door.]
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The guest list winds up being pretty huge.

To start with, there are now eight Bells. Pattern isn't bringing anyone besides herself, and Aegis no one besides herself and her Whistle, but everyone else -

Between Alice, the Joker, the rescued Queenie, Kas, Micaiah, and Sue, plus Ghosty who Amariah picked up on her way home, that's seven Whistles. (Stella thinks ahead: there is a soundproofed orgy chamber away from the main party awning. With a few nodes off of it in case more than one orgy forms; she can think of at least two other likely ones.)

There's an equally absurd number of Sherlocks and Tonies if you count them together. They have Juliet's matched set, Shell Bell's matched set, two other matched sets from Bell-less worlds (one with souled vampire, one both human), a stray Tony, and a stray Sherlock from Downside.

Amariah grabbed a random Libby on top of the random extra Whistle, but at least she's not incorporating anyone from home.

Golden's bringing much of her family and many of her friends - although Edward is staying home, that still leaves Elspeth and Jacob, Alice and Jasper with little Brandon, Rosalie and Emmett and little Henry, Nathan accompanying his mate and their child Kerron, Esme and Carlisle and their Lily, Addy, and Elena who'll get to see her brother. Golden claims that this is a conservative list and she could easily have produced another twenty enthusiastic guests. Stella doesn't doubt it. She puts up a few signs reading Please Conduct Adult Conversation Only Via Brainphone. Little Half-Vampires Have Good Ears And Perfect Memories. As a last-minute surprise, Golden has taken Elspeth's suggestion to bring Edward's deceased mother Elizabeth, too.

Juliet has, on top of her boyfriend and his - progenitor? - her tiny Libby, James, a tagalong thereto called Virginia, and a ghost called Minnie, plus Giles.

Angela's list is more modest: her, her husband, and their friends Alleluia and Caleb.

Shell Bell is responsible for half the Sherlocks-and-Tonies all by herself, a tagalong called Pepper, and also someone called Darcy and also Matilda. (Shell Bell is also the reason Angela is not inviting her brother-in-law.)

Stella herself is responsible for inviting Libby, Orfeo, Chris, Mary, Anna, Sandy, Eights, Chainsaw, Lazarus, Kolya (who is informed that it would be awfully inconvenient for a majority of Bells to all have to coordinate on pretending he doesn't exist when only one of them has even met him to be able to identify him in the first place, so he can simply stay home if he's planning to be hidey), and Bridget.

Stella sets up a name tag system. Everyone will have a tag stuck to them. Solo persons - a minority - will just have their names. People with template names and nicknames will have both stamped on automatically. ("Hi! I'm a Bell, and you can call me Stella!"; "Hi! I'm a Whistle, and you can call me Alice!" "Hi! I'm a Sherlock, and I don't have a distinguishing nickname yet but as soon as I pick one it will appear here!")

She conjures up a nice buffet of food and beverages which will stay its correct temperature until consumed, and assorted synthetics for the vampires (labeled not for human consumption), and dishes and flatware (all glass; even some of the food-eating guests might dissolve anything else) and fusses with the awning opacity until it lets in just the right amount of sun, and, what the hell, she throws in a stage in case Angela wants to sing or she decides to play the flute or someone decides to pentagon some other performative skill to entertain the crowd. She makes sure there are enough bathrooms for all the people who still need bathrooms.

She puts out a few tables here and there with little bowls of squares and triangles - a mix of her glowing red and Alice's shifty black - in them for everyone's convenience. She accumulates coins in those sizes faster than she generally uses them and has a great many, so there are plenty for anyone to dip and wish if something comes up. She double-checks to make sure the Martian ground rules prohibit any misuses available for those size coins.

Jane gets one of those high-tech holographic projectors, on wheels, which she promptly manifests in, drives around the floor, and makes faces through.
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[Hey,] says Stella to all three mints. [I wanna talk to all of you. You busy?]
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"I didn't wind up interacting directly with Micaiah much," says Stella, after returning home from a certain visit. "Does he deviate from template significantly? He didn't have wings, so I imagine it was by less than Angela deviates from my template."
self_composed: (i ~ thoughtful)
Mars has more people on it now. Bella has conjured herself a crown of seamless moissanite and star sapphire, and wears it around most of the time. She does something nice for Earth every Cygnus and makes routine public appearances, with the PR guy Libby found for her on the brainphone steering her away from missteps. (Most missteps. Occasionally she just disagrees with him.) Life is good.

It happens one day that she attempts to read Alice, thinking it about time to top off her supply of coins - and besides, even if it weren't, she does like to spend time with her boyfriend - and - he's not there.

Her first reaction is panic. She has known from the beginning that a contest between them would come down to reaction time. Did she screw up by introducing him to Ghosty - did something else happen - does some switch trip in the relevant template at a certain age, is hers decent only because he's young - has he blocked her off with his considerable power and begun to wreak havoc?

But of course there's a much more reasonable explanation. He's in Milliways, that's all, he found a door and wandered off without thinking to notify her.

Because visits to Milliways take only moments worldside. This has been true even when they've been into other's worlds: the door is at a very narrow slice of time except when held open.

But she checks again a minute later.

And he's still not there.

Is he dead? Did he think of - stumble across - cook up some way to die that would be so fascinating that he had to try it right then, without consulting her, without thinking of her and how it would hurt her at all, without knowing if stars can revive the dead -

Or did he, somehow, in spite of what is now magically bolstered love for her -

Decide not to come back at all?

She's getting ahead of herself. She can find out if he went to Milliways or not. She -

Stops before completing her wish.

If he's gone - if he's not coming back soon, or at all - then she has to work at least for a while with the coins she already has.

She will not spend a pentagon to see this one snippet of the past. She will spend a hex to gain past-viewing as a stable power she can use whenever she wants. If she chooses the right powers to make with her current supply of hexes, she may be able to coast for many years with almost no individual wishes larger than a square. Now that she has the template of Olympus to draw on she's sure she could find a way to compress wishes for more cities - maybe even planetsful of cities - into single stars, and she has a lot of stars from the days Alice spent turning.

And there have got to be other masochists in the world. Some might be comparable, or people like Shell Bell's Sherlock who'll willingly be made so.

Her empire will go on just fine.

Bella's just not sure - when she's finished designing and installing the power, when she's finished watching Alice casually walk through the kitchen door in his lair to Milliways instead and not come out - whether she will.
self_composed: (Default)
Bella finds Milliways next, too, on New Year's Day, and calls in Alice (he's not coming to Goldenworld even if they find a person who can take them there, but he might find someone interesting to talk to in the bar) and also Lazarus. She mentions the door to Libby, too, in case she and/or her wolf want to take an excursion and see if his friends and family back home can be visited.
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[It is now Christmas in the latest time zone on Earth,] Bella announces, when this becomes the case. [C'mere.]

She has conjured a syringe of venom. There are no known effects relating to any particular person doing the turning, but she's gone ahead and duplicated her alt's venom - what would be hers, if she turned - regardless.

She hides it behind her back and smiles.
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Bella goes on TV with Pat. It goes pretty well. She doesn't have a PR person yet, but running at 5x and thinking carefully means she doesn't trip over herself when called on to talk enough that most people would notice. She takes questions-slash-requests from the crowd, and winds up healing an amputee, showing off a pretty illusion of terraformed Mars over the crowd, and flying around. She gets to talk about the nice features of Mars, including the fact that any further amputees could just make their way there and sit in one of the medical devices for a moment to clear that right up. Pat gets to look like she "discovered" Bella. It's a decent arrangement.

Then the time designated for the spot is up, and Bella bids everyone goodbye and teleports away over the shouts of investigative reporters, and it's not currently baseball season so she goes ahead and extends her protection-from-media over Renée and Phil in case someone figures out who she is despite having only her first name to work with.

She goes to Moonstone Palace. She has nothing in particular to do. She decides to read Alice.
self_composed: (d ~ eyebrow)
Bella finds Milliways in the moon palace instead of one of her balconies.

"Huh," she says aloud.

Then, to Alice, Libby, Elena, and Mary, and Lazarus except he autoreplies with a busy message, [Hey folks, Moonstone Palace grew a bar that I don't remember putting in, come check it out.]
self_composed: (b ~ skyward)
Bella has watched a simple, managed Martian ecosystem and a glitteringly colorful first city pour procedurally out from assorted points of origin on her computer with a variety of rand seeds, and picked the prettiest result.

She's standing on that ideal origin spot now - the top of Olympus Mons, under a blue-dyed sky and a breathable layer of atmosphere - holding her laptop which holds this specification under her left arm. All present to witness this moment are Alice, Libby, Lazarus, and Bridget.

She defangs a trio of stars: one for the terrain, one for the wildlife, one for the city of Olympus. To be dramatic, she squares them off her bandolier and holds them high in the air between the fingers of her right hand.

"Welcome to Mars," she says.

Wishwishwish.

Moss ripples out from under her feet and carpets the landscape, giving way to forest further downhill and, further away, to freshwater ocean. Birds, startled by their existence, take off. An instant later they're all standing at the foot of her crystalline tower that sits at the center, watching skyscrapers riddled with magical appliances sprout from the ground, and streets pave themselves with smooth tiles.

Bella defangs more stars and lays down what she's taken to calling Ground Rules with another gesture. Mars is going to be peaceful. Mars is going to be safe. Mars is going to watch its people and report to her.


Mars is going to be the seat of the Empire of the Stars.

(There's a flag, on the spire of her tower. It's sky blue, and there are half a dozen seven-pointed stars spangling it. It ripples in the breeze that's begun to waft in from the sea.)
self_composed: (h ~ calm)
Bella bikes to the airport on Friday. She gets a little reading done on her flight, then sleeps-on-purpose through the remainder of the trip, waking up precisely when the plane touches down. One nice bonus that she didn't even explicitly build into the power is that she can sleep at will in virtually any position; she doesn't have to get comfy if that's not convenient.

She steps off the plane, backpack full of her things over her shoulders, and stalks into the halls of LaGuardia, eyes peeled for Libby.
self_composed: (e ~ fascinated)
Bella stockpiles hexes.

She already has a ridiculous number, but she wants so many that if it seems most expedient to individually do some manner of hex-magic to every cubic inch of space in her dorm room, she can and still have a ridiculous number left. She wants enough that if Libby turns out to be a particularly dab hand at extortion, to the point where paying up is her best bet, Bella can keep gritting her teeth and handing over tribute up until the point where even this person will believe that this is all there could ever be - and still have a ridiculous number. She wants her ridiculous numbers to have ridiculous numbers.

What does she have?

An Alice. She has one of those.

And she can use what she has to get what she wants, late into the night, hexily disassembling her body's dependence on sleep, and till she should start thinking about catching up on the internet and heading to class.
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The first day Bella spends out and about with her new who's-watching-me powers, she is rather alarmed.

Maybe she's just mistaken about how much time people spend looking at reasonably pretty eighteen-year-old girls. She kills a pentagon to try it on a nearby control - who's looking at that girl over there?

Fewer people. Fewer people are looking at that random girl, and less intently. They're looking at her familiarly - they know her - or casually - they're checking her out.

[I have a spy problem,] Bella says. She makes a faintly exaggerated show of snapping her fingers in frustration and turning around. She's going back to her room to get a mirror and bobby pins and barettes, so she can spy back on the pretense of checking her hair, without making it overwhelmingly obvious that she knows what's going on.
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Wisconsin fast plants (so called because they are from Wisconsin, fast-growing, and plants) are the subject of Bella and Bridget's chosen bio experiment. It involves taking at least some measurements after sunset - Bella managed to find an exact specific experiment design that hasn't been done before, when she heard they were allowed to choose their own, and even though all it will determine is whether indoor plants without windows can "tell if it's night" even if you leave the light on all the time, she is slightly excited about this.

She meets Bridget there. They measure their plants in the lit room and the dark room, take pictures, and write down subjective evaluations of leaf droopiness. They leave.

They're about a third of the way to Bella's building when a man's voice behind them says, "Hello, girls."
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Bella attends her classes with faultless punctuality, every time. She sits in the second or third row on an aisle in the middle section of seats, in the classes that take place in big auditorium lecture halls like the main section of Bio; she's willing to put herself closer to the professors in smaller classes like OS and of course her flute chair (third; she hasn't been quite ridiculously showoffy enough to climb beyond yet) is assigned. But right now, she is in Bio, learning tidbits about auxin and tropisms that the textbook didn't cover fully. She's running at about one and a half speed, just enough that she can trivially listen to and process the lecture against her memory of the text while also permitting some mind-wandering. She liiiiiikes her cognitive speedup power.
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The eighteenth birthday is the best one. Bella is no longer A Minor. She no longer needs Charlie's or Renée's permission to do random things that real people are allowed to do. She still can't drink, but she doesn't feel like throwing her cognitive edge out a window anyway.

Also, she is going to get a cake.
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The party guest list includes a wide range of interestingnesses of rich people. There's a fellow who sits on various boards of various faceless corporations; there's two who started startups and swept up a few million dollars that way; there's a small handful of professional philanthropists, who have oodles of money from various sources and make a hobby of distributing the interest to worthy pet causes; there is a congresswoman, and a state senator, both from New York but apparently willing to travel to the West Coast on occasion. There's also a lot of dull old money who do this sort of thing and nothing but all the time, but they still concentrate a lot of financial leverage, and Bella would rather have ins with them than not, as long as she can.

She bikes up - speeding shamefully, hexing herself radar detection, and cutting the trip in half from its estimated time to just eight hours on the road. Tegu can go very very fast.

Alice made her a new dress for the occasion - this one's autumny, mostly a dark red-brown, with leaf patterns in deep gold and burnt orange swirling up around and soft ruffles in the same colors around her knees and puffing out over one shoulder. It stands out more than the little black dress - which is fine. She would like attention, and just being the hostess's son's girlfriend will not quite get her there at a rich people party, she thinks.
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By the time when Alice first shows up at Stanford visibly (as opposed to lurking around the ceiling at Bella's classes, making smart remarks in her head), Janine has put in a request, and so have four other girls on the hall. (Lillian wants a summery floral dress, Tasha wants a midnight blue evening gown, Ruth has expressed a fondness for polka dots, and Kuo wants something gothy. Bella politely makes no remarks about anyone's taste.)

Bella likes all her teachers okay, and also the orchestra conductor and her soccer coach. Life is good.
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