Category Archives: Jade League

[incomplete late Jade League scene]

(Originally written 10/9/08)

Etienne found himself at Mira’s room far sooner than expected. He hadn’t thought of anything to say yet—no excuses, no ploys, no plans—nothing to hide the fact that he had been sent to see her. But something inside him had fluttered at the thought of spending time in her company, and he was happy to be here. Why complicate things with deception when the truth remained that he just wanted to say hello?

Her door was open, the light from the windows filling the room and spilling out into the dim hallway. He could see the silhouette of the vase of chrysanthemums he’d brought her a few days after she woke up. They had started drooping slightly, but still looked presentable enough. He’d have to remember to bring her new flowers next time.

From the doorway, it looked exactly like Elizabeth and Olivier had described. Mira was sitting up in bed, a notebook open in her lap as she stared out the window, no writing utensil in sight. Etienne leaned against the doorframe, watching her eyes make little movements while she twisted and laced her fingers together absentmindedly. Her eyes had dark circles under them, but her expression was—as always—thoughtful and vibrant. She was thinking, maybe a little too hard and a little too much. Maybe he just needed to help her think about something else.

He knocked on the open door. She looked over at the door and smiled to see him there.

“Hi,” he said quietly.

“Hey,” she answered.

“Writing?” he asked, taking a step into the room.

She shook her head, but beckoned him in anyway. “Reading something,” she explained, gesturing to the notebook.

For a split second, he considered pulling up a chair—but he changed his mind and sat on the edge of her bed. He could see her handwriting filled the pages in front of her. Her hands played along the sides of the notebook like ballet dancers fluttering across a stage.

[a late Jade League scene]

(Originally written 10/8/08)

Etienne was sitting at his desk, reading the first newspaper from Jean-Pierre’s team, when Elizabeth sidled in. Thinking Elizabeth would say something to get his attention, he didn’t look up at first. After he finished the main article though, he looked over and saw that she was still hovering in the doorway and biting her lip.

She looked tired. No one in the League had much experience with healing magic—only Elizabeth, with a vague recollection of anatomy lessons from her doctor brother and with the help of the handful of non-mage doctors, could do much of anything for those injured in the last battle for Paris. And with Mira’s paralysis on top of everything else, Elizabeth hadn’t gotten much sleep lately.

Etienne folded the newspaper and set it aside. “What’s the matter?” he asked gently.

Elizabeth sighed and folded herself into a sitting position on the couch, hugging one knee to her chest. Etienne thanked some celestial being that she wasn’t the hysterical type of person, because her expression implied controlled hysteria. He let her sit there for a moment before asking again.

“Elizabeth, what’s the matter?”

She bit her lip again. “I know you’re busy…” she started.

“It doesn’t matter,” he said, standing and pouring her a glass of water. “What do you need?”

She took the glass delicately, and took a short sip. “It’s Mira.” She inhaled sharply. “I can’t spend much time with her, but I’ve noticed she hasn’t been sleeping.”

Etienne seated himself in the plush reading chair across from the couch. “Insomnia,” he sighed. “She’s bed-ridden; what does she do?”

“I’m not really sure,” she answered, massaging her temples in slow circles. “Sometimes she just stares out the window. I’ve seen a notebook in her lap a few times, but Olivier noticed that it’s usually open to a blank page, but she never has anything to write with. No pencil or pen, just an empty page.”

He sat back and ran a hand through his hair. “So what can I do?”

“I don’t know,” she groaned and rested her cheek on her knee. Her hair fell across her cheek, but she didn’t bother to tuck it back. “She’d talk to you,” she muttered through the veil of hair.

“And talking would make her sleep?” he asked.

“Who knows? I’m out of ideas.”

He stood up, went over to the couch, and knelt in front of her. Resting his hand gently on her shoulder, he whispered, “Get some rest. I’ll take care of Mira, alright?”

“You better,” she said mock-menacingly.

Smiling suddenly, he grabbed her and tried to throw her over his shoulder. She shrieked and tried to kick out against him, but he was stronger. With Elizabeth still flailing in his arms, Etienne managed to get through the doorway. He ran down the hallway laughing, Elizabeth screaming bloody murder all the while and pounding at whatever body part of his she could see. Several doors opened, and their residents called out words of encouragement to Etienne or Elizabeth, mixed in with miscellaneous obscenities for disturbing the quiet.

Finally they reached Elizabeth’s room, which was unfortunately locked, so the only other option was Olivier’s room across the hall. Poor Olivier, staring through the open doorway at the two of them in sheer terror, couldn’t think fast enough to slam the door closed before Etienne had dumped Elizabeth on his bed. She was still shrieking and flailing wildly, hoping to kick him by chance.

“Your girlfriend,” announced Etienne with flourish, backing away from the tangle of sheets under which Elizabeth was trapped. “Make sure she gets some rest.”

A/N Continue reading →

Etienne, post-Fall in Paris 2

(originally written 2/27/08)

I went to the Notre Dame last night. I’ve been itching to get my hands on a piano, but that’s not why I went. Olivier and I split up late in the evening, both of us hoping that by separating, we’d be harder to trace.

I did stop by the café, around 9:30 by my watch, and I nearly ran into Marie. I’m under the impression she’s running the place now, and that makes me glad. She’s a smart girl, a little snappy sometimes, but you need that in a waitress and manager. I almost said hello, although on second thought I decided it was a bad idea, considering the late hour. Anyhow, I didn’t want to put her in danger.

Good old father left me something in my old hideaway. When I shifted the brick aside, I found a brief letter explaining he and mother were in hiding, and a good deal of don’t do this and don’t do that. Of course, I fully intend to ignore most of his advice; I think he knew that when he wrote it. Aside from the letter, I found a pocketknife and the Celtic knot ring, both gifts that Tonton Pierre gave me years ago except father confiscated them. The ring I’m wearing now, and the pocketknife is, of course, in my pocket. The letter doesn’t say anything particularly revealing, so I’m holding on to it for now. I can’t bear to let it go.

After the café, I followed the river for a bit until I got the idea of going to the Notre Dame. I wondered what kind of religious sanctuary the Church offered, and what kind of blasphemous heathen they’d find me, especially if they knew. As it turns out, the Notre Dame is a haven to everyone who enters, provided they agree to accept all others present. It’s a bizarre utopia there, but only utopian in the unbreakable peace and harmony. There’s no forward progress (no economic growth, so to speak, although my economics background most definitely will not help in the coming months) and the stagnation would kill me if I tried to stay there.

In the meantime, I found peace there. I could relax. Until Olivier and I figure out the police’s patrol patterns, we’ll have to lay low and stay paranoid. The church I found a welcome break. I hadn’t realized how tired I’d become until I lay down in one of the pews and promptly fell asleep until one of the priests woke me up.

I never thought much about religion until this last night. The father and I spoke for a time. By the end of it, I can’t say if either of us knew what to make of the other. Père François was exceedingly kind, and he eventually figured out what I am. Apparently he comes from the school of thought which cannot decide upon the sanctity (or lack thereof) of mages. As promised, I was not cast out, and to my surprise I was not singled out or shunned by the good père. There is so much about the church that I find I do not understand.

All I know is that there, in the Notre Dame, I felt at home again.

A/N Continue reading →

Etienne, post-Fall in Paris

(originally written 2/25/08)

I don’t like fog in Paris. Actually, I take that back. Paris looks fantastic with fog, but it’s frighteningly unnatural. I can’t remember the last time I saw fog this thick in Paris — London any day, but Paris? I will admit, however, that it made walking this morning a particularly epic venture. Olivier said I looked like a phantom materializing out of the fog this morning when we met on the Champs Elysées.

We went past the café this morning. I didn’t risk getting too close, not that I expected much. None of father’s friends were there, playing cards and talking like they used to. Of course, there was no sign of father, either. I’m thinking of going back tonight, but Olivier says there might be a trap there. On ne sait jamais… if I’m careful I’ll be fine.

I want to be able to miss the old days. I haven’t been in Paris for the spring in years, and this spring is so disturbingly different that I can’t be sure what I’m trying to compare it with. My best memories of Paris are of the Christmas season and of summers working at the café, neither of which is comparable to whatever this is we’re having right now. I can tell Olivier feels the same. We’ve become strangers to our beloved Paris, but neither of us knows if it’s because of the recession or if it’s just the weather.

We’ve been forced to grow up in these few months. Granted, Olivier was almost done at university, and both of us have been away from home for years, but I can’t help missing the security of knowing we have our parents to fall back on. Olivier agrees; we can’t assume that they’re all right. It hurts, yet we have to believe the worst. That way we won’t be disappointed.

A/N Continue reading →

[an early scene]

(originally written 7/24/08)

“Et puis, on a reçu cette message encore ce soir,” he announced. “We received this message tonight,” he added for the English speakers in the room.

Mira looked up at the message on the screen.

Tell me when you have my plum and tell her I am perfectly all right for now.

She exhaled in relief, but then her brow furrowed. Why had Etienne mentioned encore — again? He wouldn’t dare send the same message over and over without reason… She shifted forward in her seat then stood. “Excusez-moi, Monsieur Leclerc. Cela, c’est la texte originale?” Is that the original text?

The board members around the table turned to her quizzically.

Vous parlez français, mademoiselle?” one asked.

Bien sûr,” she answered, dismissing the question as irrelevant. “C’est l’originale?

Olivier moused around his computer screen, looking thoughtful. “Euh, non…” He brought up a new image. “Cela — this is a scan of the original.”

Her eyes darted over the screen. The text of the message was the same, but there appeared to be stray marks all over the page. She ran through the words quickly, trying to translate in her head.

Ah beh beh beh ah… ah beh beh ah beh, Monsieur Abe, oh c’est drôle, ça…

Olivier spoke tentatively. “Mademoiselle Rousseau?

Attendez,” she said. Wait.

A minute later she sighed. “C’est comme vous déjà savez,” she said. “La police connaissent le visage de Monsieur Laroche.” It is as you already know; the police know the face of Monsieur Laroche.

Expliquez,” demanded Etienne. His voice was quiet and low—dangerous.

Mira froze for a moment. In her rush of relief that Lucas was alive and sending messages, she had forgotten his instructions. Well, no turning back now.

Le message a dit ‘plum’ et c’est moi.” The message said “plum” and that’s me.

Pourquoi?” demanded Etienne, his face betraying no emotion whatsoever.

Parce que…” she faltered. “Moi, je m’appelle Mira. C’est pour ‘Mirabelle.’” Because my name is Mira. Short for Mirabelle.

Etienne’s eyes hardened. Slowly, he spoke, each word slow and deafening in the still silence of the room. “Quand j’ai dit, comment vous appellez-vous, je ne voulais pas un sobriquet.” When I asked for your name, I didn’t want a nickname.

Mira almost flinched at his anger, but forced herself to stand straight. He was being unfair—she had just given him information, she was trying to be helpful, but he responded with fury.

She looked him in the eye and said slowly and deliberately, “Mon nom registré avec le gouvernment des Etats Unis est Mirabelle Emmeline Rousseau.” My registered name with the government of the United States is Mirabelle Emmeline Rousseau.

The tension in the room stretched a little tighter.

Mira refused to look away from Etienne’s eyes. “C’est tout?” she asked quietly. Is that all?

He stared her down for a few more tense moments. He finally said, “Oui.

Alors,” she said, still not looking away from him as she tried to put her accusation into her gaze. Finally she looked away, turning instead to the deathly silent board members. “Excusez-moi, mesdames, messieurs.” She pushed away from the table, turned on her heel, and stalked out of the room.

Out in the hallway Mira started slowly in a random direction with a vague idea of a bed.

“Mira! Wait!”

She paused, shaking with temper and exhaustion.

Olivier came running up, his footsteps light and muffled by the carpeted floors. “Mira…”

“Hi,” she said.

“You’ll have to excuse Etienne in there,” he began, but she cut him off.

“What, you make his apologies for him?”

“No…” he said, watching her carefully. “He lost his temper, and you dealt with it admirably.”

She almost laughed at that. “I completely lost it.”

“No,” he disagreed. “You had information to volunteer, so you did. When he accused you, you answered his question. You didn’t say a word about unfairness, just did as he asked. He knows he was wrong—believe me, especially after that look you gave him.”

She scoffed, the halfhearted laugh of someone sleep-deprived and trying hard to take the world lightly.

He smiled, guiding her to a chair further down the hall. “Don’t worry,” he assured her. “Etienne’ll come around. We were all just surprised that you could find a message in something we’ve been staring at for weeks.”

“Weeks?” she asked.

“Yeah, since the first week of September. Out of curiosity, how did you solve it?”

She sighed again. “That message—it was from my friend Lucas. He was the only other French-speaking person at my high school, and he used to tease me about my name meaning ‘plum.’

We used to pass notes in class using ciphers and codes, so we could pretend to be passing a lecture handout, but have a hidden message in it. The one he used on that message in there was a Bacon’s cipher. I asked for the original because the ciphers depend on other visual clues, like those marks on the paper. A mark meant ‘A’ and the lack thereof meant ‘B.’ If you take every five characters as a block, they encode a letter. Like… ‘A-B-A-B-A’ encodes for ‘L.’”

Olivier smirked in disbelief. “You commit this to memory?”

She shrugged. “We were doing this for three and a half years…”

“Ah. Well then, what did that message encode?” he asked.

“Um…” She was struggling against sleep, and her memory was not being very helpful. “P-O-L-C-K-N-O-L-R-O-C-H. Which, based on the way he spaced the message in the original, read ‘P-O-L-C’ or police, ‘K-N-O’ or know, and ‘L-R-O-C-H’—”

“Laroche,” he said for her. “So they’d recognize him now…”

“Yes.”

“Impressive,” he sighed. “Well, we’ve got a backlog of these messages to translate, so that’ll keep me busy for a bit.”

A/N Continue reading →