Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "Experience Keeps a Dear School"

This poem is a direct sequel to "Education Is What Survives" and was inspired by comments from LJ users Natasiakith and Siliconshaman. It also fills the "manipulation" square in my 4-19-16 card for the [community profile] genprompt_bingo fest. It has been sponsored by LJ user Lone_cat. This poem belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

"Experience Keeps a Dear School"

Contretemps hated riding the bus,
but it was that or walk, because
the downtown area had little space
for parking private vehicles.

So it was that he came to be trapped in
a sealed vehicle with a large number of children,
many of whom had visible superpowers.

One energetic infant kept flapping
her downy white wings, which fortunately
were not yet developed enough
to let her fly around the bus.

There was also a tough guy in
a black sweater and blue jeans, with
an expensive vidwatch gleaming silver
on his wrist, who stared at Contretemps
with cool intensity and great persistence.

Given the comparative rarity of soups,
there was no way for this to happen naturally.

It had to be a setup.

Contretemps gritted his teeth and
tried to keep a pleasant expression
on his face, but it was difficult.

"What's all this about?"
he muttered to himself.

"Oh, there's a town meeting about
the new development," the tough guy said.
"Apparently some parents would have preferred
a school, but that didn't work out, so now they're
lobbying for child-friendly features instead."

"Wonderful," said Contretemps.

A small boy fired rubberbands at him.
Luckily, all of them missed.

"Can you teach me to do the Luck thing?"
asked a chocolate-smeared child, pawing at
Contretemps. "Your superpower feels like mine,
only I don't know how to make mine go right."

"No," Contretemps said, "I'm not a teacher."
He pulled away and frowned at the ruin of
his silk suit. What a pity that he couldn't just
fight his way out of this, but he wasn't a whackjob.

At that moment, the bus gave an alarming lurch
and the engine ground noisily to a halt.

"Yeah, that ... keeps happening,"
the boy said, looking away.

A toddler who had been climbing from one lap
to another made her way to Contretemps and
plunked herself on top of him. Her blue hair
tickled his face, making him sneeze.

Then came a sudden smell of excrement.

"No, honey, poo only goes in the potty!"
her mother exclaimed, picking up the toddler --
and leaving the fetid puddle behind.

The little beast had shat on him through her clothes.

"Sorry about that," the mother said with a shrug,
"but she's not potty trained yet and there isn't
anywhere to teach her not to teleport the poo."

"Experience keeps a dear school,"
Contretemps grumbled.

"Well, at least you finally learned
from it," the tough guy said.

* * *


Hudson Lam -- He has ruddy skin, blue eyes, and dark hair shaved mostly off with a scruff of beard and mustache. He is the strong silent type, thoughtful but rarely revealing his thoughts. He's good at getting people to do what he wants. However, his typical lack of expression makes casual socializing difficult for him. Hudson works for Kraken now, and they appreciate him without trying too hard to make him seem normal.
Origin: Having been diagnosed with various mental illnesses over the years, Hudson was dosed with many different drugs. None of them made him more pleasing to the people in charge of him. But something in that mix left him with superpowers.
Uniform: Kraken uniform of dexflan and capery. The jumpsuits are sensibly designed with sleek fit, plenty of pockets and fasteners for equipment. They provide Expert (+4) Camouflage to a designated user, but if worn by anyone else, turn garish neon colors. When off-duty or needing to blend in, Hudson favors casual men's wear in dark colors.
Qualities: Good (+2) Convincing People, Good (+2) Krakenguard, Good (+2) Methodical Thought, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Unflappable
Poor (-2) Flat Affect
Powers: Good (+2) Tough
Motivation: To get by without being noticed too much.

Celeste Cote -- She has fair skin, blue eyes, and short blonde hair. She also has downy white wings, although she can't fly yet because the feathers are just starting to grow in.
Origin: Celeste was born with naked wings on her back. They soon sprouted down, and the fledgling feathers are just beginning to appear.
Uniform: Baby clothes, more often white than pink. She loves ruffles and bows because they are fun to chew on.
Qualities: Good (+2) Cute
Poor (-2) Mischievous
Powers: Average (0) Wings
Motivation: Figuring out her wings.

Layton Donovan -- He has pale skin, brown eyes, and short wavy brown hair. He enjoys school and has plenty of intelligence, but he's always getting into things. He has a particular penchant for chocolate. Fortunately, Layton also knows how to ask for help from people who can get him out of trouble.
Origin: His superpowers are growing in during childhood, but he has very little control yet.
Uniform: Play clothes. He likes bright colors.
Qualities: Good (+2) Asking for Help, Good (+2) Cook, Good (+2) Logical-Mathematical Intelligence
Poor (-2) Frequently Covered in Chocolate
Powers: Average (0) Luck
Motivation: To learn control.

Emy Ouellet -- She has fair skin, black eyes, and light brown hair that is turning blue. She is adventurous and friendly. Emy is not potty trained yet, and typically relieves herself by teleporting the waste a short distance away. So the diapers are basically for modesty and wishful thinking.
Origin: She was born with telekinesis, and her hair is turning blue.
Uniform: Baby clothes. She likes yellow, pink, and blue about equally.
Qualities: Good (+2) Energetic, Good (+2) Extrovert
Poor (-2) Not Potty Trained Yet
Powers: Average (0) Blue Hair, Average (0) Telekinesis
Motivation: To explore.

Ilana Ouellet -- She has fair skin, brown eyes, and light brown hair just past her shoulders. She is the mother of Emy, a toddler with telekinesis and blue hair. Ilana is a dedicated activist interested in many social issues, especially those based in Canada's past. Given how often she crosses lines in pursuit of justice, she's not always good at recognizing boundaries. She works as a secretary.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Activist, Good (+2) Canadian History, Good (+2) Mother, Good (+2) Secretary
Poor (-2) Boundary Issues

* * *

"Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other."
-- Benjamin Franklin

Breastfeeding is legal, but many prudes oppose it, which leads to protests. Among the more popular forms of protest involves mothers gathering around the objectors while letting their hungry infants scream. This scene was rather inspired by that tactic.

Contretemps is a magnificent bastard, but he still has standards. Like most supervillains in Terramagne, he considers children off-limits. He's very smart and very strategic, but that doesn't stop him from occasionally getting hoist by his own petard.

Despite mainstream portrayals of instant mastery, most people need time to learn how to use their superpowers. In Terramagne, the latter is by far the more common case.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, fantasy, fishbowl, humor, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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