Stardock: Part 5

Sean’s faced tightened up, and he said, “I still didn’t do it, and besides, he didn’t hurt you or anything. It was just a stupid prank.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I said. “Based on what happened last fall, anyone who looks at this is going to assume you told Jody to do it, and you’ll probably get kicked out. I know you didn’t. That’s why I’m not going to say anything unless it happens again. If it does, I’ll report it, and I’ll tell them about this one too.”

Sean gritted his teeth, and said, “Then let Jody go, okay? I’m done with this. Jody, you leave him alone.”

Jody held his hands in the air. “Okay, you got it.”

The Jenny nearest me said, “I’ll let him free,” in the same tone of voice that she might have used to say, “It’s your funeral.”

As all the Jennys but one popped out of existence, Jody gave me the finger, and joined Sean and Dayton.

Then they walked toward the hall that lead to the dorm rooms.

Dayton caught my eye and mouthed the word, “Thanks,” only to widen his eyes as Sean turned toward me again.

“You think you can do anything you want because the staff and everyone’s on your side. Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t last. One of these days, you’re going to be somewhere where connections don’t matter.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Are… Are you threatening me?”

Sean stiffened. “I didn’t mean it that way. I was just saying that everyone helps you here. It doesn’t work that way in the real world.”

Then he turned away from me and walked down the hall with Dayton and Jody in tow.

Jenny watched them step into the hallway, and turned back. “He’s not exactly grateful. Are you sure I shouldn’t report him?”

I wasn’t, but I didn’t tell her that. What I said was, “He needs the program. Daniel’s dad got him in because he needed it. I don’t want to be the guy who gets him kicked out.”

Jenny frowned. “I don’t want him to be the guy who kills you with a ‘joke’ that doesn’t work the way he thought it would.”

She had a point there.

“You know what’s kind of funny? In my high school, he was one of the jocks who got special treatment. Plus, the assistant principal was friends with his dad.”

She gave me a little smile. “It sounds like he’s having trouble adjusting.”

“Could be,“ I said.

It was strange to think that I had the power to make Sean’s life a kind of hell. It wouldn’t be that hard. All I had to to do was make it clear what he’d been like to me in high school. I couldn’t see how that would make anything better now though.

Jenny nodded toward the door. “Are you done? I was thinking I’d go back to my room.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I can’t read the book without taping a page back together, and I don’t have any tape here.”

We started walking toward the hallway. “So,” I asked. “Why aren’t you reading in your room?”

Jenny said, “Remember when you were visiting us in L.A.? Brooke and Alex could barely keep their hands off each other after they decided they were going out. Well, they still can’t, and I decided to let them have some time to themselves.”

“Huh,” I observed. “So what are you going to do if they’re not done doing whatever they’re doing?”

“I don’t know. Drop by your room maybe? Well, unless Daniel and Izzy are going at it. Then I guess we’re both exiles. By the way, are they an item?”

“Daniel and Izzy?” I threw up my hands. “I don’t know. They looked like it for a while there, but, right now it seems like they had some kind of fight. It’s anybody’s guess.”

Jenny snorted. “Do you know anybody who’s not going out with someone in the program? We can go there.”

“No idea,” I said.

We walked down the hallway, passing fellow students talking in groups, and dorm rooms with the door open and a knot of people inside.

When we were close to her room, she asked, “Are you still going out with Haley?”

“Yeah,” I said.

She smiled for a second. “Of course you are. I saw you on the news with her last week.”

“Weren’t you going out with someone when I visited? I didn’t meet him, but you mentioned him.”

She stopped walking. “We’re not going out. We broke up last week.”

I stopped too. We were next to a row of doors, and a group of our fellow students were laughing pretty hard a few doors down. “Oh, sorry.”

She shook her head. “It’s not that bad. I broke up with him. He’s a civilian. Between Stapledon and the Defenders, I got sick of lying to him about where I’d been. Next time I date, I want it to be someone in the program.”

“It does make some things simpler,” I said.

“I’ll bet,” she said, and she sounded happy enough, but there was a hitch in her voice as she said it.

She glanced down the row of rooms. Following her gaze, I noted that Brooke had stepped out of the doorway and waved at us.

Alex wasn’t anywhere in sight.

Jenny smiled. “It looks like I’ve got my room back. Stay safe, okay?”

“Of course.”

Within a minute, I was walking up to my own room. It was just like Brooke and Jenny’s—one in a line of near identical apartments that broke up the former factory’s floor.

As I was a couple doors away, Izzy stepped out of Daniel’s and my room. Her hair covered her shoulders, and while the expression on her face wasn’t angry, it wasn’t happy either.

I felt acutely aware that she was bigger than I was, and that I wasn’t in any kind of armor.

She noticed me, and stepped into my path. Skipping any of the preliminaries, she asked, “Did you know why we weren’t dating?”

21 thoughts on “Stardock: Part 5”

  1. MadNinja, that’s why the best liars believe the lie. Also, super hearing would at most detect signs of stress. I think he can get away with being stressed out over an angry supergirl in front of him.

    The correct answer is, “His crush on the guy who plays Loki?”

  2. This is weird. He’s “acutely aware” that she’s bigger than him, but not that she can punch through steel walls with her bare hands?

  3. The correct answer to Izzy’s question is, “Mostly.”

    Five bucks says that Jenny and Daniel put in a little extra-curricular studying

  4. “It was strange to think that I had the power to make Sean’s life a kind of hell. It wouldn’t be that hard. All I had to (to) do was make it clear what he’d been like to me in high school. I couldn’t see how that would make anything better now though.”

    Double entry with the (to).

    Also, making Sean’s life an ironic hell would be kinda perfect or maybe Nick should just stand by & watch with popcorn as Sean does it to himself as he turns into the Jaded Washout.

  5. “You’re not dating? Then he’s an idiot, and I know he can hear it in my mind, so I’ll think it louder at him.”

    Scrunch up your face and beam the thought, YOURE AN IDIOT in his direction.

  6. I wonder if Izzy got a straight answer out of Daniel – if she knows why they aren’t dating. He’s avoided giving one so far.

    Second, on Sean, I’d like to propose something of his motivations;

    First, read the article

    I’ll call bulls#!^ on one point; if they’re doing it consistently at 9 months, it’s not a learned behavior, it’s instinctive. It’s a learned behavior NOT to respond that way.

    So Sean is used to being able to identify someone as ‘not one of us’ and hammer them in order to gain popularity points. Problem is that Nick is identified by too many people there as part of the in-crowd, and Sean is alienating himself from his desired peer group with his actions; the opposite effect he intends and expects.

    Since the problem can’t be with him, it must be with Nick. Thus, resentment.


    “You think you can do anything you want because the staff and everyone’s on your side. Well, let me tell you, it doesn’t last. One of these days, you’re going to be somewhere where connections don’t matter.”

    Oh the Irony.

  7. The answer would be ” Yes I know, but frankly I have no right to be involved. If your going to get mad and kill me then hurry up and end my shitty day. If your not then let me through so I can tell him why he is an ass for for putting us both in this situation.”

    P.S. Nick should report Sean. He cant be trusted to not get people killed because he is inherently an ass. Also Jody is a bully and getting powers seams to only have made it worse. They both will abuse power in any form they have, and are unable to take responsibility for that abuse.

  8. “Did you know why we weren’t dating?” The answer should be “Yes, as it turns out, Zionism is as apartheid as it sounds.”

    1. It wouldn’t be accurate though. Daniel cares about raising any kids he might have to be Jewish. He also doesn’t want to force Izzy into being part of a religion she doesn’t care about. His only real mistake was not being open about that from the start.

      The thing is, he also likes her. Sometimes that makes for stupid decisions.

  9. @ Jim: I see facepalms in all his friends minds when they get a wind of this, bonus if it happens all at the same time as he reads their minds.

  10. If only they didn’t consider Judaism to be somehow inherited through the mother. I guess that’s one of those things that happens when a religion has been so systematically oppressed throughout history that they’re considered an ethnicity.

    1. Personally, I see this part of the story as something that could be told using many faiths–not just Judaism. If you live in a diverse culture it’s not hard to find someone you like who disagrees with you on issues of faith.

      If you then have kids together, it requires a degree of negotiation–especially if you both care what your children believe.

  11. Correct answer: “He told me some. Whether or not he told me all or even knows all of it himself is up for debate. What did he tell you?”

    And yes, Jim, you’re definitely right on about this. I’m not Jewish, but do have strong religious beleifs and beleifs can be a problem even if kids aren’t involved and even if they’re not religious.

  12. Well I’ve tried to avoid jumping ahead, limiting myself to reading sequentially and commenting along the line.

    I had to read a couple recent posts though to see if you have maintained the pattern though, and it seems that you have.

    How much effort does it take you to create story hooks in such short installments, Jim? I generally write 3000-5000 words per post for my chapters, and I sometimes have issues with hooks. I can see that you’ve been fairly consistently generating decent hooks for years, in 1000-ish word posts. Is this something that you’ve consciously guided/trained yourself to do, or is it something that “just happens” because of how you write? Or do you have a very regimented style of writing where you figure out where the end of a post will be and then fill in everything before that, adding or subtracting as needed to keep the word count within the range of 1000-1500 words or so?

    Or is it something else?

    Oh, also – sorry I’m blowing up whatever notification tools you are using with my comments on prior chapters – I’m doing my best to read it sequentially, and comment as I might if I were actually caught up with the story at the time I’m reading it.

    I’ll be caught up to here in a few days I think, it’s been a nice archive binge so far!

    1. I don’t find writing cliffhangers to be all that hard. My writing process goes like this: I have a general outline, and when I start work on a specific section, I’ve got a general outline of that section in my head. When I start writing a subsection of that section, I’ve got a general outline of that in my head. Thus, I always know where I’m going even if I don’t have all the details figured out. Sometimes I end up changing what I’m planning based on the details I added in.

      Cliffhangers are basically determined by where I want to stop for the subsection. Basically in my mind anything can be a cliffhanger if it hints at conflict. Potential for conflict should be all over in a story (at least in this genre), so it’s more a matter of choosing the right line than anything else.

      I think that you can get away with bigger, more ominous cliffhangers with larger subsections. No one wants to read a story where people are in mortal danger every 500 words, but it’s okay every 3000. Typically my posts have been 800-1000 words. Lately they’ve been 1000-1500.

      With this, I ended essentially with two people standing and talking to each other–no violence, but there’s a lot of ways it can go. The key point is to stop at the point where it pulls the right amount. If I’d stopped a little earlier, there wouldn’t have been much pull. If later? That remains to be seen.

  13. Not all faiths are quite as uptight as others, but religion is certainly an important aspect of someone’s identity, something I know well from arguing online. Judaism is one of those, especially since the mother has to be Jewish for them to be considered automatically ethnically Jewish or something like that. Still, mixed religion marriages are certainly a topic of convention.

    It can be quite dicey between a Christian and an atheist, and even worse if that’s the result of a deconversion after they’re married (as Captain Cassidy of Roll To Disbelieve can attest). That’s not even taking specific sects into account. Mormons and Evangelicals would be bad enough, but then you have groups like Christian Scientists, Dominionists, and Quiverfull families…bleh.

    You can edit some parts of that last sentence out if you want, Jim.

    It’d all be so much simpler if Izzy could just throw Daniel over her shoulder, shout “Me want snoo snoo!” and carry him off to her room.

  14. Oh hooks aren’t always violence or life threatening. Two people standing and talking can certainly be a hook – at this post clearly demonstrates. I was just curious if the hook is determined before you write the post, or if the hook just eventually finds it’s way to the end of the post.

    Sounds like you do something like stream of thought writing, but bounded by a loose plan with a range of expected outcomes that might be possible in a post.

  15. “Sean’s faced tightened up” (face). “the hall that lead to the dorm” (led)

    Jody is definitely a bad influence on Sean. I suppose that went as well as it could have. I’m actually a bit more interested in Jenny here, and her reference to Nick going out. Is she merely a bit frustrated by the ‘everyone dating’ thing she’d mentioned? Is she feeling a bit lonely, given what she sees of Brooke soon after her breakup? Or are there some possible feelings there? Hmmm. … And now I’m picturing Jenny dating herself. That went to the wrong place in my head pretty quick.

    By the way, totally get what you mean about cliffhangers. I suspect I apply something similar.

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