Tuesday, 23 April 2013

OFUDisc Chapter 7

That night, Class Two's dormitory was home to twenty young(ish) women, one (invisible) anthropomorphic personification – and one piece of clockwork.

"It's not fair!" Esme Something declared stridently from where she lay, ticking softly, on her bed. "The paperwork asked what you wanted to be brought back as, right? Well, I wanted to be in the City Watch!"

"Don't blame you," Tisea murmured, and Saphie nodded in agreement. They were both Vimes lusters (although Saphie also had other tastes), and Phoebe found it hard to keep herself from nodding along. Esme... probably would have scowled, had her face been anything other than the sort with numbers.

"So I put it down, and what do they make me? A freaking timepiece!"

"You may have meant... what you said," Raen said quietly, cleaning her nails with a butter knife (a substitute for the daggers she hadn't been allowed to bring), "but what you wrote..."

"... was just 'Watch', I know," Esme finished in a disgusted tone. "I didn't know they'd take it like that!"

"Should've been more careful, then," Nenya murmured. "Words are important, you know."

"Psst!" hissed a total non-whisper from next to Phoebe's bed, and she turned to see, of all people, Lucy2 kneeling there. "You're the death girl, right?"

"Um... yes?" Phoebe offered. Lucy2 nodded.

"Good. Then we need you. Sorry."

Phoebe blinked – and the sudden pain in her head told her that her eyes would be closed for a long-

"... quite so hard."

"You do it next time, then, Iplis!" Lucy2's voice screeched as Phoebe drifted back to consciousness. "If you don't like my plans-"

"She's awake," another voice cut her off, and someone leaned into Phoebe's line of sight. "Hi there, Phoebe. I'm Mercuria. I'm an elf, like you."

"No you're-" Phoebe bit down on the instinctive denial. "What happened?" she asked instead. "Who hit me? And why, I ask in all honesty, am I lying on a suitcase?"

The 'suitcase' in question bucked suddenly underneath her, tipping her to the cold flagstones of the corridor. "Oh," Phoebe managed to wheeze. "Sorry, Traveller. But really, what's going on?"

"We're escaping," Mercuria explained as Phoebe climbed painfully to her feet. "I mean, this place is horrible, and, well..."

"And, they've poisoned darling Ponder into hating me," Lucy2 cut in. "I'm going to find him and magickckck him back!"

"I'm just going along to watch," another girl, Gaia, said quietly. She'd been one of the most vigorous Stibbons-glompers, and bore the bruises to prove it.

"As for me, I just want to get out of here," Iplis put in. "It's no fun at all, and Penny doesn't – never mind."

"And I haven't seen hide nor hair of Otto," Mercuria finished. "If they don't care enough to let us see him, I don't care enough to stay here."

Phoebe swallowed a 'Who's Otto?' and glanced at the Luggage accompanying them. "We don't know," Gaia pre-empted her. "She wanted to come – would you have turned her down?"

"All right," Phoebe said, rubbing her aching head. "But, er... why did you decide to abduct me on the way?"

"Your powers," whispered Lucy2 in a hushed voice. "With your powers over death, you can keep us safe from harm. You are the key to our plan!" She met Phoebe's eyes, attempting to project confidence and inquiry in the same gaze, and succeeding... about as well as Phoebe expected. "Now – will you help us?"

"... er." Phoebe ran a hand through her hair. "I'm not even sure I have that sort of power... and I'm certain I don't while I'm not on Duty."

"Well, go on duty, then!" Lucy2 snapped, ignoring the increasingly-nervous looks she was getting from the rest of her crew. "It's a simple enough request," she went on, wheedling now. "We'll even drop you off with your Lust Object... what better offer could you get?"

"It doesn't work like that," Phoebe tried to explain, exasperated. "I only get them when somebody dies, you understand?"

"... oh." Lucy2 looked distinctly nonplussed. "Well, what good is that? No-one's dying tonight!"

And that, of course, was when the floor fell away.

It was a long fall. Exactly how long, Phoebe never cared to speculate, but long enough for her to find the time amid her screams to reflect on the cruel nature of narrative comedy.

Lucy2 "Diamanda2" Tockley2-Stibbons was screaming too, but hers seemed less like fear of death and closer to useless magickckck incantations. Mercuria's face had turned grey – her Disc elf glamour falling away with the panic to reveal her true face. Gaia was praying quietly to some god or other, Iplis had started flapping her arms as if she expected to fly, and Traveller...

... was somehow falling faster than the rest of them, tumbling end over end, in defiance of all the laws of physics.

Somewhat later, Penny pointed out that the Discworld ran fundamentally on belief – and that almost everyone, deep down, truly believes that a heavy wooden box will fall faster than a person. All Phoebe knew at the time was that the animate sea chest hit the bottom of the pit a full half-second ahead of her co-conspirators – that she hit hard enough to crack clean in two – and that the Death of Fangirls landed with a scythe in her hand and a job or five to do.

Disclaimer: All Discworld canon characters and locations are the creations of Sir Terry Pratchett. The Official Fanfiction University concept is the creation of Miss Cam. Phoebe is based on an application to OFUDisc by Fawkes Phoenix. All other students are based on applications to OFUDisc. All details of (and mistakes in) plot, narrative and dialogue are mine. Thanks to the Irish Samurai for betaing.

Author's Note: What do you mean physics doesn't work that way?  

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