Mini-Interlude 20 – Scout

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Please note, the following is a commissioned mini-interlude focusing on Scout. It takes place about a week or so before the current events, not too long before Scout and Sands leave for their European trip with their father.

The satisfying pop of the fast-moving ball landing smack in the middle of the open leather glove was followed almost instantly by the whiff of the swinging bat cutting through the air just barely too late.

“Whoo,” the boy with the bat, Tristan Moon, tapped the end of it against the ground while shaking his head. “Nessa’s right, you’ve got a great arm over there. What’d you do, kill a Stranger-Nolan Ryan?”

Standing where she was, Scout Mason felt a blush touch her face. Which wasn’t anything new. It seemed like any time anyone addressed her, the uncertainty and embarrassment tried to set in, let alone if they were paying her a compliment. Strangely, criticism wasn’t as bad. She could handle that. It was when people were nice to her that she felt weird and didn’t know how to respond.

After finally settling on shaking her head, she held her glove up and waited. Rude. Wasn’t it rude not to say anything? But she wasn’t trying to be rude. She just didn’t know what to say. She hardly ever knew what to say to anyone, let alone when it was someone as boisterous and… well, confident as Tristan.

“See?” Vanessa herself straightened up from her crouched position behind her brother, shaking her hand out where the wicked fast ball had slammed into her glove before looking to the boy. “I told you she’d be a good match for you.” As she spoke, the blonde girl carefully threw the ball back to Scout. She wasn’t quite as awkward and uncertain as she had been when the pair had first started to play catch on the roof of the dorm, though it was obvious she would never be the kind of natural athlete her brother was.

Scout saw the sly look on the boy’s face at Vanessa’s choice of words. The same look she’d seen on plenty of other faces when someone left them open for a great joke or bit of teasing. His eyes glanced toward her, mouth open to put voice to what was obviously a play off of his sister calling her a ‘good match.’

Except he didn’t. The words were obviously there and ready to come out, but the boy paused when he looked at Scout. Remaining silent like that for a couple seconds, he finally shrugged and set himself back up with the bat up. “All right, let’s go, let’s go. I got your timing now.”

Vanessa resumed her position, and Scout took a moment while asking herself why the boy hadn’t said anything. It was obvious that he caught the unintended insinuation, yet he chose not to capitalize on it. He just let it go after he looked at her.

Rather than dwell, she carefully checked the ball against her mitt. Taking a breath, she wound up and then let it fly.

As promised, the boy was ready. That time, his wooden bat connected with the ball rather solidly. The white sphere rebounded from the bat with a satisfying crack that sent the ball spinning off into the air toward the right side of the grassy field they were in.

Scout didn’t bother chasing it. Instead, she turned to watch while tucking her mitt under her arm. Further out, a different figure went after the ball. A very different figure. Tristan’s giant robotic snake twisted its way through the grass, head craned up to watch as it moved at a pretty impressive clip considering its lack of legs, managing to keep up with the flying ball and stay under it as it began to fall. Mouth opening wide, the snake let the ball fall right inside, swallowing it. In the same second, the snake rotated, to aim its mouth toward Scout and fired the ball back toward her. She quickly caught the ball with her glove and turned back to the boy.

“Aww, whose side are you on, Bobbi?” Tristan called to his snake. “You could’ve let that one go.”

“Her name is Bobbi-Bobbi,” Vanessa reminded him. “Not Bobbi.” She, of course, had been the one to come up with the name for the snake-robot that had become her brother’s weapon and companion.

For his part, the boy just blinked. “There’s a difference between saying it once and saying it twice?”

“I’m gonna make you read the book,” the blonde girl threatened before sighing. “Bobbi-Bobbi was the Australian snake-god, remember? Loved humans, gave them bats so they’d have something to eat. Only the bats flew too high to reach, so he took one of his own ribs and gave it to the humans to use as the first boomerang.”

“Right.” Tristan gave a quick, satisfied nod before teasing, “Don’t worry, sis, I’ll only ask you to explain it fourteen more times before it sticks.” With a wink, he called to his partner. “You must reaaaaally love being helpful, don’t you, Bobbi-Bobbi? Just like your namesake.”

The snake made a hissing noise of agreement, and Tristan shook his head before focusing on where Scout was still standing. “Err, right, speaking of being helpful… you mind if we take a little break and talk about something serious?”

Giving her head a quick nod, Scout started to gesture that she would head off to give the two some privacy so they could talk. To her surprise, however, Vanessa shook her head. “No, um, it’s sort of something we want to talk with you about.”

Blinking at that, the quiet girl hesitated before walking in to join them. Her eyes moved quizzically from one to the other.

It was Tristan who spoke first. “Listen, you can do that whole… coin spell thing, right? We sort of need that, just in case.”

Coin spell. Right, the privacy spell. Clearly the boy just hadn’t wanted to be obvious by outright saying the word. With a quick nod, Scout reached into her pocket and took out one of several already-prepared coins that she had from back when the rest of her team kept asking her to do it. Touching her finger to the coin, she activated the spell before nodding to them.

“Great,” Tristan started immediately, not even bothering to beat around the bush. “We need your help to find our parents.”

Clearly recognizing the surprised look on Scout’s face, Vanessa quickly put in, “You remember who—I mean what they are, right? And what happened to them?”

Scout hesitated before slowly nodding. Her voice was a whisper as she spoke only two words. “Garden. Seosten.”

“Yeah, our dad was from Eden’s Garden and our mom was one of the Seosten,” Tristan confirmed. “But the thing is, Nessa’s been looking everywhere in this place and there’s nothing about the Seosten. Nothing. We even asked Gaia and she said that Heretics don’t learn about them. It’s like everything about those dicks has been erased and removed. Which isn’t surprising considering, you know, they made this place.”

“The point,” Vanessa added before her brother could rant any further. “Is that there’s nothing here, so we were hoping you could help.”

She wanted to, obviously. Except… Scout hesitated before whispering a single word. “Vacation.”

Both twins bobbed their heads up and down quickly. Tristan spoke first. “Right, we know. You’re heading out with your sis and dad pretty soon. Off to Europe and all that?”

That was right. In fact, Sands was busy packing up the last of their stuff as they spoke. And probably cajoling their father for more spending money for she and Scout to spend on souvenirs. They’d be leaving pretty much as soon as that was finished.

When she nodded silently, Vanessa gave her a slight smile. “That’s kind of why we’re asking you for help, actually.” She went on in the face of Scout’s uncertain look. “See, you’re going to Europe. Crossroads and Eden’s Garden still have presences there, but they’re not as strong. There’s even entire countries where different Heretic groups are in charge, like France. Crossroads and the Garden barely have an embassy there, and they don’t really have any power. So we were thinking that–”

Scout’s eyes lit up with realization, and she silently raised both hand to pantomime opening a book.

“Yeah!” Vanessa clearly couldn’t hold back her smile. “If the Seosten don’t have as much power in those other places, there might be books about them. We were hoping you could maybe look around while you’re there. Just see if there’s anything about them, or Strangers that possess people, or angels or… or anything like that.”

“Sorry, we know it’s a lot to ask,” Tristan added with a regretful look while laying a hand on the head of Bobbi-Bobbi. “But we don’t really have an easy way to get over there. So when Nessa found out where you were going, we figured… it couldn’t hurt to ask. But if it’s too much, don’t worry about–”

Scout interrupted by holding a hand up to stop the boy. Her head nodded once, and she gave them a tiny smile. Of course she’d help them find their parents. If there had been a chance of saving her mother, she knew she’d never, ever stop trying. She’d run herself into the ground for a chance to go back and rescue her mother from the… from the–

She forced herself to focus, tuning out the memory of the Stranger simulating her mother’s voice to plead for the young Sarah to come out and help her. Looking straight at the other two, she announced simply, “I’ll help.”

A look of obvious relief crossed over their expressions, and Vanessa actually hugged her. “Thank you, thank you. If you find anything, it’ll help. But especially anything about an orb that can teleport people to other worlds and bind them there. If there’s a way to track them, or to undo it, or to build another one, or to–”

“She gets it, Nessa,” Tristan gently interrupted while putting an arm around his twin. “Really, anything at all. Like we were saying, the Seostains erased everything that could’ve been in here. Or they stop it from being recorded at all. Whichever, there’s nothing, so we’re running on just what Grandpa Nick could tell me. Or would tell me. Plus, you know, maybe the Natural Heretics here on Earth found out something he doesn’t know about.”

Scout was already nodding when she saw two figures approaching from across the field. Quickly dismissing the privacy spell, she murmured an almost silent warning while nodding that way so that they’d stop talking about it.

Still, Vanessa gave her a smile and mouthed, ‘Thank you’ while her brother raised his hand in front of his chest to give her a hidden thumbs up. Even Bobbi-Bobbi leaned in and pushed her nose against her shoulder in a show of affection.

“Hey, guys!” Scout’s father called once he and Sands were close enough. “Sorry to interrupt your game, but we’ve gotta get going if we’re gonna make it in time for dinner. Rome’s about seven hours ahead of us.”

Sands turned to poke the man before stepping over to her sister’s side. “So that’s why you wouldn’t let us eat lunch. I thought you were just making some kind of object lesson about respecting people who don’t have as much food as we do or something.”

Their dad gave her a look. “Now what kind of father do you think I am?”

Sands shrugged. “I dunno, one who wouldn’t let me have the cheeseburger I wanted an hour ago?”

Shaking his head, Scout’s father looked toward Vanessa and Tristan. “You two all right over there? We weren’t interrupting anything important, I hope.”

“Nope,” Tristan lied so easily that Scout was immediately envious. “Just trying to decide who got to bat next. Guess it’s Nessa by default.” When Bobbi-Bobbi bumped against him, he shot her an exaggeratedly exasperated look. “You can’t bat, you don’t even have hands!”

Chuckling, the man reached out to grab both of his daughters by the shoulder. “Right, good luck with that. All right, girls, ready to go? All the stuff’s waiting in the Pathmaker.”

“O’course we’re ready!” Sands blurted. “We’ve been ready forever. I’m starving, old man. Let’s go.”

So they started off, heading for the portal building that would send them clear across the globe. On the way, Scout looked back over her shoulder toward the other pair of twins. Vanessa and Tristan were watching, matching expressions of mixed relief and worry on their faces.

She gave them a quick, surreptitious thumbs up before turning back.

Of course she’d help them find information about the Seosten. After all, she hadn’t forgotten that those were the people who had created the Bystander Effect, and probably everything else that had to do with the hated, vile memory erasing spells.

Which meant that if she was going to fulfill the vow to herself to get rid of all of those horrible, evil spells so that everyone could retain their memories the way they should, she’d have to find out as much as possible about the Seosten themselves anyway. If it meant helping Vanessa and Tristan along the way, that was even better.

But one way or another, she was going to make sure no one’s memory was ever erased against their will again.

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16 comments

  1. And there’s the Scout mini-interlude for you guys! Hope you enjoyed it, and please remember to throw some thanks toward the commissioner for spending money so that we could all get a peek at what the resident quiet girl with the big gun is up to.

    There’ one more commissioned mini-interlude on deck so far (focused on Sariel and Haiden back when the two found out they were going to be parents), which you can expect probably next week. Other than that, see you guys on Friday for the regular update!

    Tags are: Arms Or No Arms – The Snake Would Still Be A Better Batter Than I Am., Bobbi-Bobbi, Liam Mason, Sands, Scout, Scout’s Hatred Of Memory Spells Is Going To Collide With The Truth About Her Father’s Past Actions Like A Freight Train Hitting A Pile Of Bricks., Tristan Moon, Vanessa Moon

    Like

  2. Scout’s Hatred Of Memory Spells Is Going To Collide With The Truth About Her Father’s Past Actions Like A Freight Train Hitting A Pile Of Bricks.

    That’s an interesting analogy. A pile of bricks could never stand up to a freight train.

    You know, the phrase “beware the quiet ones” comes to mind about Scout. Imagine the look on the Committee’s faces when/if they learn that Flick is a far less active threat to them than the traumatized, near-mute girl on her team.

    They’ll never see her coming.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree that Scout is going to catch them all off guard. One shot one kill.

      I also see her reaction to the truth about her father to be basically the opposite of Flick’s about her mother. The question is if it will cause a split with Sands.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. >You know, the phrase “beware the quiet ones” comes to mind about Scout. Imagine the look on the Committee’s faces when/if they learn that Flick is a far less active threat to them than the traumatized, near-mute girl on her team.

    Me: I’d say the two are equal threats in different ways. After all, Flick, like her mother, wants to tear down the institutional anti-Alter prejudice and culture while Scout yearns to destroy the practice of memory spells.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I said active threat, not bigger threat. Flick’s immediate goal is to save Joselyn from Fossor, which will take awhile, and then tear down the institution. Scout is waiting for an opportunity to reverse the memory spell as soon as possibe.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Remember that the Bystander Effect is the mother of all memory spells. Scout’s probably going to try and break that too if she figures it out. And that breaking is something that neither Heretic nor Bystander civilization as we know it would survive. Compared to that, the revolution is small potatoes.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I think back to Haiden’s interlude and about just how much Scout doesn’t know that helping the Moon twins would be helping the Mason twins.

    We could use an update on Sariel’s location to be honest. Is she, like her husband, hunting for shards of the orb in an attempt to be free of its bindings or is she under more bindings than just the orb? Might be something for someone to think about comissioning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We could use an update on Sariel’s location to be honest. Is she, like her husband, hunting for shards of the orb in an attempt to be free of its bindings or is she under more bindings than just the orb? Might be something for someone to think about comissioning.

      Good questions.

      Like

  5. So, Scout’s made a few friends outside her team, as both the Moon twins are baseball enthusiasts as well, and through that connection, Vanessa & Tristan end up making an interesting request of Scout that draws a couple storylines together.

    Not only are Tristan & Vanessa aware that the Seosten were responsible for their parents’ disappearance & Tristan’s exile, but Scout’s aware of that too, which led to the next interesting point- not only are there no references to the Seosten in any of the library or instructional material they have access to, but it’s not something that Crossroads Heretics are taught about, suggesting obvious Seosten interference. And since the Mason family vacation to Europe will be taking them to places where Crossroads & the Garden have at most minimal presence & influence, the twins are asking a little favor of Scout, to keep an eye out for anything over there that might have to do with the Seosten.

    Plus, Scout’s thoughts on what the Moons told & asked of her is interesting as well, in that she figures that there must be more of that memory magic she can’t stand at work, and that the Seosten are probably responsible for all of it, so helping Vanessa & Tristan with their project will also help her quest to rid the world of memory magic.

    (Though wonder what the three of the would think if they became aware that Larissa & Haiden have teamed up and are wandering the universe, fighting the Seosten, and trying to find a way back home & reunite their families, or for that matter, Sariel’s hitched a ride in Larissa multiple times, and probably saved her life on more than one occasion….)

    Scout’s Hatred Of Memory Spells Is Going To Collide With The Truth About Her Father’s Past Actions Like A Freight Train Hitting A Pile Of Bricks.

    Um, yeah, considering the role he played in Ruthers’ side of that rebellion and the memory spell used to suppress it (which might have even involved messing with Larissa’s mind- can’t remember which chapter that was in, or how that argument got settled in the end) on top of how getting involved in Flick’s stuff must have affected her view of things, Scout’s reaction is going to be explosive.

    Between the saying of beware the quiet ones, and the point Prosser made about family members fighting one another during the rebellion, I’m getting a feeling that calling the resulting trainwreck ugly will be quite the understatement.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. #TeamScout!

    New quest, new revelations, and new friends…but no one is talking about the really important thing.

    What was behind Tristan’s lack of teasing? :p

    Did he think that Scout would be offended? Did he worry it would insinuate something that was never going to be true as he has zero romantic interest in Scout? Perhaps it is the opposite and he actually is attracted to the quiet girl and did not want to draw attention to that.

    Personally I think he just could see how nervous Scout was by the new interaction and did not want to make her more uncomfortable.

    My favorite part about Scout interludes is being able to read about all of the thoughts she has compared to how little the other characters see. She is constantly analyzing everything but from the outside you would never know it.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Scout’s a favorite of mine. Her quest to smash the memory spells is awesome. The fact that even after smashing them will reveal her father to be one of the Top 100 Cowardly Scumbags of all time, and that even in hindsight she won’t regret having smashed the memory spells and revealing that fact means SHE is awesome.

    I agree with Hendy. Scout is the more active threat, simply because she has nothing on her plate except for her quest to eliminate memory spells. Whereas Flick has to prevent Avalon from being killed by a conspiracy, save her mother (and all of Heretic society, though she doesn’t know that yet), defeat Fossor, defeat Ammon, AND salvage Roxa’s life by retrieving Pace’s secret-keeper and God knows what else.

    Liked by 2 people

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