I think I’ll leave this discussion for the next session. See you Thursday!
“You wanted to touch base?” Brian asked, after he’d pulled off his mask.
I swear, “touch base” is by far one of the most euphemism-sounding terms for meeting up and chatting.
“I had some words with Skitter,” Lisa answered. “I think it’s about time we all got on the same page.”
Coil. It looks like we’re going down that route this Arc.
“In terms of tactics?”
Lisa shrugged, “There’s that. I think working independently is kind of throwing us off, and it leaves us weak against any coordinated attacks from the Chosen. We work best when we complement one another.”
It’s more fun from a reader’s perspective too.
Alec shrugged. “Okay. That’s easy enough to arrange. Not really a reason to throw a major group meeting.”
On point Alec is back.
“There’s something else,” I said. I swallowed, looking at Regent, Imp and Bitch. “I’ve already talked about this at length with Lisa, and I’ve discussed it some with Brian. This isn’t an easy topic to broach, because it sort of fucks with the team’s status quo.”
Yep. Coil it is.
By all appearances, they were too.
“Safe to turn around,” Tattletale told the boys.
They did. I gestured, and people found seats in the various chairs.
“Feels like we’re different people than we were an hour ago,” Imp said, looking around.
I had a haircut today, but I suppose that’s not quite the same as a complete costume overhaul.
I considered her words. “I appreciate the sentiment, but I think it’s more accurate to say we’re different people than we were a week ago.”
Fair enough, but veering off topic, if you mean what I think you mean.
There were some nods. I glanced at the scar on Tattletale’s cheek, at Shatterbird, who stood obediently behind Regent, and at Grue, who had transformed more than any of us.
…okay, fair. Fair. It’s on topic.
And I couldn’t forget the change I’d undergone, even if I didn’t have the objectivity to nail down exactly what about me was different from a week ago. Sure, my costume was different, and I had the three hundred pound beetle that was resting on the roof.
You seem to have gotten harder. More willing to lash out and deliver disproportionate retribution.
Or proportionate retribution, in the case of the Nine themselves.
For Regent and Imp, I’d settled on bodysuits and masks. Regent would wear his beneath his costume and Imp would wear hers as a simple black bodysuit, complete with a scarf and the horned mask Coil had provided.
So basically, not much has changed for them either besides the materials involved, and Aisha turning into a ninja.
There was more to do: belts, Imp’s scarf, Tattletale’s mask and Bitch’s shirt, not to mention finishing my new mask, and my plans for different masks for our various minions.
This is a pretty solid proof of concept, though. I suspect they’ll need to but these costumes to use before Taylor finishes tailoring these extra bits.
When we’d been fighting the Slaughterhouse Nine, I’d lamented the fact that I hadn’t better outfitted the team, and people had been hurt where the costumes would have otherwise protected them. In the days I’d had to wind down, focusing on getting people organized and working on cleaning up the area, I’d been in range to get a serious effort going on the costumes.
Ahh, so that’s why right now is when this is happening. Makes sense.
I was satisfied with this.
You should be! You did really good work here.
Man, how long has it been since Taylor was last satisfied with something she accomplished?
Grue’s costume was not unlike his motorcycle leathers in terms of thickness and design, making him one of the most heavily armored of our groups in terms of the amount of material he was wearing. His headwear was the part I’d changed the most: I’d modeled the face-plate after a figurine he’d bought at the market.
It was a step away from the visor he’d worn up to now, more demonic than skeletal.
I think I like him being the grim reaper better than him being a demon, but it’s still pretty neat.
The only real trick there had been making it non-porous enough that his darkness wouldn’t bleed through. A quick experiment proved that my efforts had turned out alright. In costume, the face-mask down, the darkness framed his mask but didn’t cover it unless Grue forced it to. A demon’s face in dark gray in a vaguely human-shaped twist of darkness.
The way his costume makes use of his power has always been really cool. As long as that’s included I’m not terribly disappointed.
When I turned to head downstairs, she followed.
I guess that means ‘thank you’.
Best you’re gonna get for now, yeah.
We were greeted by the others in the kitchen. There was just enough time to grab and prepare our burgers before the others arrived. Grue, Tattletale, Imp, Regent and Shatterbird.
One of these is not like the others.
They turned down the offer of food, and together, we ventured back upstairs.
There’s a lot of up and down those stairs today, huh.
Watch out for the stairs.
With everyone gathered in my headquarters, I handed out the costumes. Like Bitch’s, the other costumes were in various stages of completion, primarily with minor details missing or askew. I ate while the others tried it all on.
Aw, we’re not getting extended first reactions for them?
It’d take a while, maybe, but it’d be fun.
Lisa’s costume was virtually the same. The complicated aspect had been maintaining the crisp differences in color without any bleeding of black into lavender or vice versa. There’d also been the issue of getting the mask to fit her face well. I’d accomplished the former by making the black and lavender pieces separately and attaching them to a gossamer-thin sub-layer when I was done.
Well, her costume was pretty neat to begin with, so I can’t complain.
We had the boys and Shatterbird turn away while Lisa and Aisha changed at one end of the room. The mask was a failure, it didn’t sit right around the eyes, but I was left with an idea of what to do.
You could, of course, have sent them back down the stairs, or even up the stairs, but I suppose this works, and raises fewer questions from Rachel’s minions.
I looked over my shoulder. “What? Nothing.”
“You’re trying to get some favor from me.”
She already got one of those today…
“No, I’m really not. It might feel like it, with the timing and what we’re going to talk about with Lisa and the others, but it’s really not.
Hm? So this upcoming meeting is not about their costumes.
Is it about going up against Coil?
You’re free to argue and disagree with me or the rest of us, just like usual. The costume’s a gift.”
“I don’t get many gifts.”
Well, then this can be considered a first step towards fixing that. 🙂
I shrugged. What was I supposed to say to that? I couldn’t help but feel that if I were a little more socially adroit, I’d have had a snappy answer.
She kept talking. “All of the stuff I’ve gotten, it’s been with strings attached. Used to get gifts from one of my foster dads,” she paused. “And I get the money from Coil.”
Money from Coil may seem like a gift but I really don’t think it is.
“Those aren’t really presents. They’re more like bribes or enticements. Really truly, this is no strings attached. You can act like you normally would, I won’t expect any different.”
Again, that glower.
Maybe the glower is just Rachel’s way of saying “thank you”.
I swallowed. “Wear it or don’t wear it. It’s okay either way. It’s not a big deal.”
“I’ll wear it,” she said.
“I made it anyways.”
She adjusted her mask, turning it so it hung off one side of her head. She was glowering at me. “Why didn’t you listen when I told you to fuck off?”
“Because I’m your friend.”?
Two ways I could interpret that question. “Don’t worry about it. Look, the hamburgers will be ready soon…” I trailed off.
I suppose it could be read as going all the way back to Insinuation, and various “fuck off”s from there on.
I like how we’re treated to Taylor actually attempting to employ the tactic she just mentioned a couple paragraphs back, in order to illustrate Taylor feeling the need to escape the dual question without actually saying it. Chekhov’s social escape tactic.
An awkward silence reigned. I turned to head downstairs.
“What do you want for this?”
It took us a while to get here, but I think I can finally accept this relationship as a shaky friendship rather than hostility and denial.
“Looks like Brutus,” she said.
I didn’t see it, but I didn’t see fit to correct her either.
She pulled it on.
“It’s just a little bit flexible, if you want to bend any bits that are rubbing in the wrong place, or shape it to fit your face better.”
“It’s fine,” she said. She adjusted her jacket again.
She’s gonna look so cool with that mask on.
I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s costumes. I’m guessing we’ll be seeing those too in this chapter, when the others arrive. There’s plenty of scrollbar left.
“If you want me to change anything-”
Her refusal was so curt it gave me pause. I couldn’t tell if she was upset or happy.
If anything she might be upset that there’s nothing to be upset about.
I forced myself to keep my mouth shut. I’d give her a few seconds to let me know either way. If she didn’t, I was ready to escape by pointing out that lunch would be waiting for us.
“You made stuff for the others?”
Maybe we’re about to see the other costumes before the others arrive. Though I’m not sure I want to. I’d like to see their reactions too.
“But I didn’t ask for it. I told you to fuck off when you asked me for my measurements, remember?”
Ah, here we are, though it’s more civil than I was expecting at first.
“Yeah? I didn’t get a chance to get your measurements, so I went by memory, based on the jacket you lent me.”
That was, what, two months ago? How good is your memory for such things?
She pulled it on and adjusted the front. “Fits fine.”
“Here,” I said. I turned around and grabbed the next piece. I handed it to her.
She turned it around in her hands. I’d cheated and formed the base sculpt out of chicken wire, covering the remainder with layers of dragline silk and painting the end result. It was, as close as I’d been able to manage, a recreation of what her power did to her dogs in the form of a mask.
Oh man, that’s awesome.
Except I’d made it half human and half dog.
THAT’S EVEN BETTER