Mini-Interlude 19 – Rudolph

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The following is a commissioned mini-interlude focusing on Rudolph and his new team (Roxa’s old team). 

The early light of the still-rising sun above the ocean illuminated the beach where six figures, five male and one female stood almost a quarter mile away from the edge of the Crossroads school grounds.

“See this here?” Jasmine Rhodes stood beside Rudolph Parsons, gesturing to the boy. “This is bullshit.”

Blanching a little, Rudolph glanced toward the tall, black girl with a weak shrug as he offered, “Sorry?”

Paul Calburn, the big Kentucky boy, put a hand on Rudolph’s shoulder and squeezed reassuringly. His role as the peacemaker of the team was well established. “Aww, I’m sure Jazz didn’t mean it like that.”

Rolling her eyes, the girl shoved both hands back through her dual-colored purple and pink hair. “No, I don’t mean your very existence is bullshit. I mean you’re another dude. They think they can replace Roxa with a guy. Which means I’m all by myself. This team is a great big sausage fest.”

That, naturally, was the perfect opening for Isaac Acosta, the short Hispanic boy with black curly hair that fell to his shoulders. His face lit up and he grabbed his roommate by the arm. “You hear that, Gordo? She said we have great big sausages. Do you–”

Gordon Kuhn, his face as flat and humorless as ever, slipped free of his boisterous roommate’s grasp. His voice was dull. “I heard what she said, Isaac. It’s not funny.”

“Aww,” Isaac’s grin lit up the beach more than enough for both of them. “Don’t worry, big guy. Like I said before, we’ll find something that makes you laugh before the year’s out. That’s my new life’s goal. How do you feel about monkeys on little trampolines?”

“We’re getting a little off-subject here,” Paul pointed out. “We didn’t come out here to talk about Gordon’s sense of humor.” To Jazz, he added, “Or your lack of female companionship.” His hand went up almost immediately in Isaac’s direction to forestall the boy’s next words. “I know. I know. I heard it when I said it. Let’s just let that one go for now, kay?”

“My ‘lack of female companionship’ is a pretty big subject.” Jasmine insisted while folding her arms under her chest. “Who the hell am I supposed to talk to about girl stuff, Doug?”

In the back of the group, the short, skinny boy kept his eyes riveted to the Gameboy that his fingers were still dancing across. The lowered bill of his omnipresent New York Rangers cap hid the boy’s expression, though his voice was mild. “I choose to take that as a compliment.”

Jazz shook her head. “I’m serious. You three,” she gestured toward Paul, Douglas, and Rudolph, “get moved to a bigger room for you all to share. Meanwhile, I’m all by myself. It’s…” She shifted a little before sighing. “It’s lonely, okay?”

Feeling a pang of sympathy, Rudolph bit his lip before speaking up. “I can, umm, ask Headmistress Sinclaire if she can switch me with a girl. It’s okay, I don’t mind going to another team.”

Sighing, Jazz shook her head. “Nooo, it’s okay. That’ll just break up some other pair of girls and leave one of them by herself. I can deal. Besides,” she added pointedly, “I don’t want another girl. I want Roxa back. We had a good system. Err,” the girl waved vaguely toward Rudolph. “No offense. Nothing wrong with you. You’re just not Roxa.”

“That,” Paul seized on the opportunity to cut in, “is why we’re out here. Why we wanted to talk to ya away from the school.”

Rudolph blinked around at his five new teammates staring at him. Well, four. Douglas was still engrossed in his game, fingers flying over it so fast they were almost a blur. “You wanted to talk tome about Roxa? Uh, sorry, I really don’t know anything more than you do. Just what the teachers said. She went-”

“Yeah, yeah, we know the official line. Family emergency, had to stay home.” Isaac interrupted. “We don’t buy it. Something else is going on.”

Blinking again, Rudolph hesitated before asking slowly, “Something else? You think the… teachers are lying?”

Paul shook his head before considering. “No, we—okay, yeah. But we don’t think they’re being malicious or anything. We think they’re trying to—dunno, protect us or protect Roxa or something. Whatever, they’re not telling the whole truth.”

“What makes you think–” Rudolph started.

“Roxa doesn’t have any family,” Jazz interrupted. “Trust me, we talked about it. She was an orphan. She lived on the streets. So how does she suddenly have a family emergency?”

Before Rudolph could try to find an answer to that, Paul took over. “That kinda told us there was something else up. So we looked into it. Which brings us to you.”

“Me?” The pale boy blanched again, head shaking. “Listen, I really don’t know anything else. I just volunteered to come over here so Tristan could stay with his si–”

Gordon interrupted, his face somehow more serious than before. “It’s not about that. It’s about Flick Chambers.”

Now Rudolph was even more confused. “Flick? What about her? What does she have to do with Roxa?”

“We’re not sure, exactly.” Paul shook his head. “But—you’re tutoring her, right? With the whole bow thing.”

Rudolph nodded slowly at that, looking around at them. “Yeah? Why? What does that have to do with anything?”

“Like he said,” Jasmine put in, “we’re not sure exactly what Flick’s got to do with Roxa. It’s just… eh, you tell him, Doug.”

The short boy finally looked up from his game, thumb hitting the pause button as he focused. “It’s this power I got on that second hunt we went on. It sort of… gives directions.”

Rudolph’s head tilted uncertainly. “Gives directions?”

Douglas nodded. “Yeah, I mean, once a day I can ask a question and it gives me a hint about where I can find the answer. Sometimes it’s really vague, sometimes it’s really specific. Depends on the question. So I keep asking it how we can find out the truth about Roxa. And every single time, it just gives me one thing. Flick Chambers. That’s the only hint it’ll give me. Flick Chambers, over and over again.”

“Oh.” Rudolph straightened with realization. “That’s why you’ve been staring at her. I thought you had a crush.”

Doug coughed, flushing a little bit. “I was trying to make my power give me more information. But it won’t. It’s just Flick Chambers over and over again.”

“So you see,” Jazz put in then, “why we’re interested in your whole tutoring thing with her.”

Hesitating, Rudolph slowly nodded. “Sure, but I don’t know if she knows anything about her. Did Flick and Roxa ever even talk to each other?”

The other five exchanged glances before Paul spoke up. “We’re not sure. But we need to find out. Whatever the teachers are lying to us for, doesn’t matter. Roxa’s our teammate. We wanna help her if we can. And right now, the only clue we’ve got is Flick. So we’re hoping you could tell us everything you know about her.

“Cuz whatever happened to Roxa, that girl’s involved.”

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17 comments

  1. Thanks for reading this commissioned mini-interlude, guys! Plus, an extra-special thanks should be given to the person who commissioned it. Just a little one to check in on Rudolph and Roxa’s old team. And, as should probably be a surprise to nobody, they’re not just accepting Roxa’s disappearance unquestioningly. Oops.

    Tags for today are: Douglas Frey, Gordon Kuhn, Isaac Acosta, Jazz Rhodes, Paul Calburn, Roxa’s Old Team Running Into Roxa’s New Team Can Only End Well., Rudolph Parsons, They Already Shot Down Isaac’s Offer To Be Jazz’s New Roommate.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wait, so it’s not a crush? I’m disappointed and relieved at the same time. After all, having the interest of someone named “Frey” can’t be good.

    Oh, and also there’s now a good chance that Roxa’s old team is going to do something that seriously messes things up, so there’s that. I’m fairly worried about that. Doug’s got a pretty dangerous power.

    Like

      1. Roslyn isn’t that horrible, either. Sure, she kept silent, but… if she hadn’t, she might have wound up like poor Jinglebell (not sure if he counts or not, the pitiable begger). 😦

        Like

  3. “”“What makes you think–” Rudolph started.
    “Roxa doesn’t have any family,” Jazz interrupted. “Trust me, we talked about it. She was an orphan. She lived on the streets. So how does she suddenly have a family emergency?”
    Me: It does seem odd, from their PoV. A bit sloppy of the faculty for apparently not considering that her team would smell bullshit and want answers.

    “The other five exchanged glances before Paul spoke up. “We’re not sure. But we need to find out. Whatever the teachers are lying to us for, doesn’t matter. Roxa’s our teammate. We wanna help her if we can. And right now, the only clue we’ve got is Flick. So we’re hoping you could tell us everything you know about her.
    “Cuz whatever happened to Roxa, that girl’s involved.””
    Me: Hm, a little unfair as far as info distribution is concerned, but at least their hearts are in the right place. For now, at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine that this is anything less than purposeful on Gaia’s part. Feed Roxa’s team a line about why she isn’t in school any longer that they know is untrue, and obviously they are going to start looking into the truth. That truth is going to lead to them talking to Flick and ideally finding out what actually happened to Roxa at some point. They are going to come to the obvious conclusion that Roxa isn’t a mindless murder machine now just because she is a werewolf, which leads to questions about if other Strangers are also not as bad as they have been taught.

      Next thing you know you have another group of kids who are onboard with the whole “maybe every Stranger we meet isn’t a monster” view on life, and Flick has more support in her quest to bring Alters and Heretics together. It isn’t a super concrete plan, and is something of a long con, but I can absolutely see Gaia planning things out specifically to get this outcome in the end.

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  4. You know, with all the powers and magic out there, I can kinda see where the council was coming from with the memory wipe. Not that it is in any way justifiable to remove choice from the equation, but without a memory spell of some sort secrets seem to be ridiculously hard to keep, especially from your fellow Heretics.

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  5. Welp, this is complication regarding the plan to try and keep what really happened to Roxa & how she’s been turned into an Alter secret that Gaia, Flick & company probably don’t really need at the moment.

    The cover story about Roxa having to take a sabbatical to help with a family emergency isn’t being bought by her old teammates, because Roxa opened up to them enough about her backstory of being an orphan living on the streets of LA before Crossroads recruited her for them to realize that story is a load of garbage. And if that wasn’t enough of a complication, one of them has the ability to get a direction to a target of interest, which, when applied to Roxa, points right towards Flick. Oh, and Flick’s archery instructor is also part of that tear.

    So, wonder how long it’s going to be before Flick, her teammates, Vanessa & Tristan, or some of the staff are going to find themselves trying to field some awkward questions regarding Roxa….

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  6. “Complication” is an understatement. From a protecting Roxa standpoint, what can Flick really do if probed by Roxa’s old team? Take the chance (on Roxa’s behalf, no less) Roxa’s team hasn’t drunk too much of the Strangers Are Evil Kool-Aid and explain? Not a chance as a right off the bat response, but then how would she go about determining their trustworthiness?

    I know Flick’s the heroine, but this really seems like an upcoming “Harry needs to chat with Dumbledore” kind of issue. If/when it becomes clear to Flick that Roxa’s team aren’t gonna let this go, it’s above her pay-grade without experienced guidance. Every move she makes, every word she chooses to speak (or even not speak, depending on the possible circumstances) is a gamble with Roxa’s future, if not her life.

    Though I do see this being potential impetus for Flick and HER team to try and re-involve themselves personally with the pursuit for Pace’s choker once the Pack is located. One way or another, it seems likely Roxa’s team is going to at least partially erode (duration-wise) the “Family Emergency” excuse keeping Roxa’s return to Crossroads viable.

    Like

  7. Douglas needs to learn to ask better questions. If he asks “How we can find out the truth about Roxa.” verbatim of course it’s going to give the same answer. Though I’m pretty sure he’s smart enough to [b]not[/b] be asking the exact same question each time. Maybe he should try “Who else other than Flick Chambers has information they are willing to share about what happened to Roxa?” Knowing how some powers work it very well might answer “Felicity Chambers”, or maybe even more trollish, “Roxa”.
    Of course this isn’t taking into account that some other magic or ability might be interfering with his question asking one, maybe something put in place by Gaia as a layer of protection on Roxa, hide her from scrying attempts or some such.

    I’m [i]really[/i] curious as to what he killed to get that ability though.

    Love the team dynamics. I also like how this team was an inverse of Flicks team: four guys and two girls, while Flicks team is four girls and two guys.
    Looks like Crossroads was keeping the genders at even numbers on the teams at the start, from what Jasmine is saying about not wanting to split up a pair of girls on other teams.

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