The response bestowed upon Les Amants de la Nuit totally reminded me how much I love writing for you guys (thank you thank you THANK YOU!). Right in the middle of that grin-like-a-lunatic phase that you fellow writers/readers all know all too well, Mom sent me off to do something that made me even happier…
…hang out the laundry!
Yay for spawn!
I don't know what it is about doing laundry outdoors, but something about shaking damp cloth and clipping socks to the clothesline is really inspiring.
…welcome to Fanmail.
Exposition: Studio 254
Headmaster's Office, HIVE
"Good afternoon, Max."
Nero looked up to see his bodyguard standing in the doorway. "Ah, Natalya. Back from the Middle East so soon? I trust the operation when well."
Raven nodded. "That uncooperative oil baron will never hinder us again. Unfortunately, the situation in Libya has not improved. They are still grappling with the problem of installing a government to succeed Gadaffi, which creates an unstable climate that will greatly hinder any of our own interference."
"I presumed just as much." Nero laced his fingers. "What do you need?"
"I need to take Malpense, Brand, Trinity, Fanchu, Darkdoom, and Argentblum out of class. Oh, and those two new kids… their surnames escape me… "
"Indeed? What has that bunch gotten into this time?"
"You don't want to know."
"I don't doubt that. Go ahead."
As she turned to leave, her face held a strange, un-Raven-ish smirk.
On the other side of the world, another Raven was still on an incredibly déjà vu-inducing assignment.
Flying Italian sauce-covered projectiles were involved.*
Studio 254, Upper East Side, Manhattan
The Shroud ride had been swift and uneventful, though the students kept trying to inquire regarding their destination. Now, nine people stood on the balcony of a New York penthouse overlooking Central Park.
"Whoa." Shelby muttered. "This place must cost a gazillion dollars in rent."
Raven opened the balcony doors. "GLOVE happens to have a gazillion dollars. And then some."
The group stepped inside a wide, spacious room with modest furnishing, including nine off-white leather armchairs surrounding a small glass coffee table. Three of the walls boasted floor to ceiling windows with spectacular views of the Park and New York skyline. The fourth wall had an open door that led to the restroom. In the corner was a kitchenette.
"Nice place," Otto remarked. "Who lives here?"
"This is my studio," Raven answered.
"Studio?" Nigel asked. One would have a rather incongruent mental image of an assassin in a smock with an easel and paints.
"There are many types of studios."
That didn't answer much.
"Hey, Otto, remember that time at the orphanage when Shannon demanded a personal studio, and we fixed up that creaky old room in the back? Well, actually, you put me and Tom in charge of it and left to go do some 'thinking' and then one month later you were gone and never came back…"
"I remember." Otto nodded.
"Who's Shannon?" asked Laura curiously.
Shelby waved her hand. "Just another one of Otto's former sweethearts, dear, no one for you to worry about."
"What? For one thing, there's absolutely no reason I should be worr—"
"I am wondering when the food will be arriving, as it is being a rather long time since breakfast, ja?"
Raven fished out some food from the mini fridge, at which everyone ceased asking questions. As the Alphas settled into the armchairs, Raven went back to the balcony. A piece of paper was in her hand.
From a nearby treetop, a small figure with a black backpack slung over one shoulder lithely landed next to her. The newcomer wore inconspicuous jeans and a dark hoodie, but a mouse-eared (realistic mouse ears, not Mickey Mouse ears) brown headband perched on her head and a cute little tail flicked behind. Wings were attached to her sneakers at the ankles.
"Raven" handed her the piece of paper. "Copy and deliver. You know who the recipients are."
The other person nodded.
"By the way, what's with the get up?"
The other person shrugged. "I'm a mouse. The wings make me look more… Hermes-ish. Look, my backpack has painted wings, too."
"Shut up. It was your idea."
"Whatever. Now, hurry up."
The younger girl leapt back into the trees, where she paused, kneeling, to peruse the note.
It's been a little over one year since the first little hit on the traffic chart, twelve beautiful months of laughter and insanity.
I'm pretty sure you've been wondering when the day would come when someone would round up Otto, Wing, Laura, Shelby, and Nigel (and HIVEmind, I guess… I mean, I DO have a blackbox) to answer your burning questions and hear what you have to say.
This will either be the most wonderful, ridiculous, are utterly stupid thing I've ever done, but I've put my life/sanity on the line many times before, so this is nothing new to me.
Here's how it'll work.
Each chapter, one Alpha will be taking fanmail (voluntarily or not… either way, they don't get to choose, and I happen to have a few nifty vials of veritaserum lying around). This is to ease congestion, and give you more chances to ask stuff. For instance, Otto's the victim, er, subject of next chapter, so please just send Otto fanmail only.
Of course, normal reviews always make my week. *winkwink*
I only have a few guidelines and warnings. Please, to make my life a little more organized, one question and comment per review only. Additional requests will have to be put forth anonymously.
Please review as soon as you can so the next chapter can get rolling.
As for the warnings…
I will NOT be editing any sloppy grammar, and the asker will NOT be anonymous. Obscene users will be banned. Don't embarrass yourself. Don't waste your time and my time, because if there's anything I can't stand, it's wasting time.
In addition, I cannot be held responsible for any mysterious casualties or disappearances resulting from an Alpha's response to a piece of fanmail.
Ask at your own risk.
"Weirdo," muttered the girl.
Several pigeons on a nearby branch were glaring at her beadily, as if telling her to get to work.
Chocoholic Mouse rolled her eyes at them, but stood to leave nonetheless.
"It's hard work being pigeonattack's twelve year old little sister."
Inside the bathroom of the studio, pigeonattack disdainfully pulled some wads of tissue from the sole of the combat boots that had been used to match her height to Raven's. Wiping off the makeup, but leaving the scar (cuz it looked cool and was the first time she'd done one since Halloween), she was reminded for the thousandth time why she never bothered with makeup unless she was performing. Which, coincidentally, was exactly what she'd been doing today.
As she yanked off the wig (ah, that felt better), a knock sounded at the door.
"Yes?" she called, changing her voice to match Raven's.
"Erm, I'm sorry to rush you…" It was Franz. "… but I am really having to pee…"
"I'm done," called pidge in her normal voice.
The door opened. The Alphas looked up, all shocked, except for Shelby, who grinned. "Nice impersonation. I was wondering when someone would notice, besides me. Hey, you're from Alpha, aren't you?"
Pigeonattack wasn't surprised that the master of stealth/disguise had known. "Thanks, Shel. Yeah. I'm Alpha, though I'm not around much."
A million questions fired up at once.
"Who are you?"
"What'd you do to Raven? Forget that, how did you manage to subdue her?" Penny sounded very eager to know.
"What are you doing to us?"
"Screw that, I'm out of here."
"Nuh-uh," said pigeonattack, grabbing Otto's shoulder mid-escape attempt. "Everyone, sit. Please. I'll explain."
Wing was halfway to the door. "Why should we trust you? You abducted us from HIVE, taking us here without our consent."
"On the contrary, you seemed all too eager for a field trip a few hours ago."
"That was before—"
"Look," she said calmly. "You don't have a choice. But, if you wish, I'll give you one minute to attempt an escape."
They all looked at each other uncertainly.
Otto piped up. "She's just our age! Why's she—"
"I'm your age, and I happened to fool the HIVE headmaster himself. Can you say that much, Malpense? Remember the… 'submarine pen'?"
She'd hit a nerve. Otto snarled. "Well, I was only thirteen—"
"And now you're not much older. I might not be a super genius like you, but it's not smart to cross me. All I ask is for you to—"
Franz spoke through a mouthful of chocolate. "Actually, I am being quite happy here."
"Franz!" Nigel admonished. "We're—"
"Going to be here for quite a while," finished their friendly host, waving her arms magnanimously. "So make yourselves comfy. As soon as everyone is seated, I can start explaining."
"When you say 'quite a while'," Laura asked nervously, "how long…?"
Pidge shrugged. "As long as it takes for you to answer a few questions. Nothing scandalous… I hope."
And before the wave of new questions could start up, she launched into her explanation.
Several minutes, a million questions, a lot of swearing, general indignance (but resignation), and a tray of chocolate later, Otto croaked, "So… I'm the first victim?"
"You got it," said pigeonattack. Otto did not look enthusiastic, but that wasn't her problem.
She passed around some previously unnoticed electronic tablets. "This is how you'll receive your… fanmail."
Laura nodded appreciatively. "Latest generation. Cool. The design of these things is so nice. I mean, it's really functional, but aesthetic, too."
"Glad you like. Otto, tap the mail icon."
The white haired Alpha did so.
"See anything?" pidge asked, smirking as she looked over.
His eyes were slowly moving down the screen, his already pale face going white as a sheet.
When he spoke, his voice was hoarse. "Uh…yeah…"
*For additional details, please refer to the Epiclogue of "Pigeon's Prom".
To be continued.