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JL | Xue'Daio Nox & Lt. Evan 'Weirdo' Merlin | "Fly Away..."

Posted on Sat Dec 23rd, 2017 @ 1:36am by Xue'Daio Nox Tr'Verelan & Commander Evan Merlin

Mission: The Round Table

Zero G was magic.

Maybe it was because he'd been found floating in deep space that he was so fond of zero G. The feeling of weightlessness, as if with the weight one really could put all the burdens or daily humdrum behind (not that he usually had trouble discarding that). The sheer magic of movements which were impossible to do in normal gravity, the unique perspective of floating sideways or upside down in a normal seeming room.

It all added to the atmosphere. Xue's rooms were large and, for the most part, neat, but glasswork and pillows and pieces of clothing were floating through them along with everything else. And now that they were floating together, more or less upside down, fingers and toes interlocked to prevent drifting away from each other, occasionally a random item floated close enough to bump into them. Usually he changed its trajectory by either gently blowing at it or just nudging it quietly out of the way.

The woman floating next to him was more dreamlike than ever when there was no gravity to pull her down. Her white hair streamed in the air around them like wings, and his eyes lit up as a sudden idea struck him. "Butterfly wings!"

"Butterfly wings?" The Empress asked, turning her head to look. If it weren't for the odd piece of whatever that tried to reach out and touch them, Xue very easily could have simply closed her eyes and made believe they were suspended in the weightless atmosphere of water. Where most would have felt put off and nervous, she was perfectly at home - content and relaxed as she idly stroked the odd one's shoulders. Aside from near angelic quality of his face, she'd decided that his shoulders were her other favorite physical feature... At least to look at. Regardless it had been an experience unlike any other she'd ever had - a fantastic change of pace from a routine that had grown... Lackadaisical and... well... Routine. While guilt did in deed reside within the heart and soul of the star-like woman, she knew that it was the way of her people. Not a single ruler had ever ruled without at least one 'object of pleasure' on the side. It didn't feel right... But it was something she'd have to come to terms with given how fascinated she'd become with the man simply referred to as 'Evan' for lack of a better sobriquet.

"Yes!" He untangled his toes from hers, though he let his fingers remain entwined, and slowly rotated so that he was now looking at her, literally, from all angles. "Surely you've heard about the masked ball they'll be organizing here, oh, next week or so-" there was that airy weave of his hand again, denoting that time in itself wasn't really all that relevant. "If there's any occasion for you to go out and relax, that'd be the perfect time. And if you were to wear a costume with butterfly wings, that would be completely awesome!" By this time he had completed one full rotation and was back where he began, more or less aligned with Xue.

Both of the albino's silvery brows lifted and her head canted softly to the right as she regarded him sidelong and with avid interest. The man's mind never stopped, or so it would seem, and it was always arcing and dabbling in profound and disturbing directions. He spoke of the party she'd heard a word or two about - and had dismissed promptly as something she wasn't interested in. Becoming a spectacle wasn't her forte. Quiet, subtle moves... Those were more her style. Xue was a watcher who long ago had learned that she was constantly under vigilant eyes and did little to blend with her surroundings - after all... It was an impossibility. "And pray tell, dear sir, just what has lead you to that conclusion?" She asked, welcoming his return, "Why would a creature of the sea ever have wings? Only certain fish have learned to fly..."

He stopped his rotation with a deft motion and drew closer to her once more. "That's exactly why. One, nobody would expect you to be at the ball. Two, it's the perfect opportunity to walk around where everybody can see you but nobody knows who you are, something which must be an unique experience for you. Three, you'd look marvelous. Stunning. And it's a costume which nobody would expect any Stenellis to wear. Oohh, especially if it's combined with an antigrav harness, so you'd actually be able to fly…" His eyes sparkled at the idea, tiny flecks of gold like sunlight reflecting off water. He executed a bow, still in mid-air, making tiny movements with his free hand to keep himself positioned. And with a serious face, for once, he said: "Dear lady, may I invite you to the ball?"

Her brows furrowed now, considering his fantasy and the implications behind it with a small sigh and wave of her own hand. An invitation was an invitation and it gave her reason to be near him again - perhaps tame his craziness long enough for a chance to pry beneath the surface a bit deeper. There was so much more there, and she could practically hear it begging to be set free. "You may... On the provision that I will not be flying anywhere."

"Whether or not to fly is completely up to you. As is your choice of costume." He glanced around as he talked, suddenly snatched at something as it drifted by. A quick motion and the something – a piece of clothing, probably pants – was set adrift again. "I've been practicing for part of my costume for days," he added. A glass ball began to roll across the back of his free hand, ride up his arm, came down again, flowed between his fingers and vanished as if by magic. "It's easy in zero G, but a pain in normal gravity. I mean that literally, it's quite heavy when it falls on my toes."

That it was... Her decision anyway, and for the moment she chose to stay grounded - the irony of that decision, however, wasn't lost on her as she hung in suspension near the warmth of the strangest man she'd ever met. The transparent sphere was the main focus of her attention, though, watching as he played with it and finding it truly hard to believe he had any issue with mastering it at all. "Show me?" She requested, glancing briefly down towards the expanse of couches and chairs that waited for them once gravity was restored. Falling would be a pain in the rear, literally, but she was willing to bet he'd plan a much more careful return to 'normal' than simply allowing them to crater. Or so she hoped. "I want to see without the cheat of floating."

"Hoo boy…" But he grinned as he said it. "Okay. Computer, restore normal gravity, sliding gradient over one minute." He plucked his floating trousers out of the air as they slowly came down and had them on by the time full gravity was restored. There was even time to move some of the furniture out of the way.

And so, dressed only in black trousers, the glass globe appeared again, rolled over the back of one hand, wrist, palm and back again, between his fingers, then rolled from one hand to the other, seemed to stuck to the palm of his hand when it was turned down, ended up on the back of his other hand. Then it rode up to his elbow and down again. A second ball appeared in his other hand and he began to manipulate both, smiling faintly all the time. Nevertheless, the strain was visible if you knew what to look for: a slight tension where the eyes narrowed just the tiniest bit in concentration, the smile somewhat fixed, not as easy as usual.

When he tried the 'glued to palm upside down' trick with both hands, it happened: the left one came 'unstuck' and fell to the ground. He moved his bare foot away just in time ("See, I am getting better," he muttered) and managed to let the second ball disappear before it could fall down as well.

Perched upon a well cushioned sofa and hidden beneath a loosely tied silk under robe, Xue watched with fascination as the ball followed the lines of him as if by magic and drawn by some unseen force. He was fighting it, working to remain in complete control, and even when the one ball fell she knew he'd not rest until he had it worked out. A man like him, while in love with chance, was also in love with control. Even spur of the moment motions, his idiosyncratic nature, all boasted on a creature that thrived on being the pinnacle feature of their domain and territory. It didn't much matter about rank, Evan was the master of his own life and the folly and fortune that followed suit. How he ever fit in with her life remained a mystery, but she knew she simply couldn't allow it to be the touch and go of a one of. Her eyes followed him from where the one ball had nearly massacred his foot on up until they rested on his face, and she felt the curve of her gracious mouth broaden into a smile, "Marvelous. I'd ask you how you do it, but I was once cautioned that a magician never shares their tricks."

"There's not much of a trick," the man said, while both balls disappeared again without leaving any suspicious bulges in his pants – not even in the obvious place. "There's just practice. Lots and lots of practice. And blue toes, if you're not fast enough." He blew a straying strand of hair out of his face and sat down gracefully. One ball made a reappearance and began its magic dance again. "Now this one is a bit more tricky… I haven't quite got the hang of it yet, it only works about half the time." He held the ball on the palm of his hand, level with his face, and blew gently. The ball floated away from him, suspended in mid-air without any visible means of support, only to return when he made a beckoning motion with the hand. This time the strain was clearly visible: no faint grin to make it look easy, just a look of fierce concentration. He puffed a sigh of relief when the ball had safely returned to his hand. "Now that *is* magic… Or at least, sleight of hand." The second ball appeared in his other hand, and a third: those two spun around each other while the first one rolled across his other hand and moved towards Xue's delicate palms.

She was hesitant to extend her fingers, but curiosity was curiosity and hers was still almost childlike. Holding her hand out, she watched as the magical little orb came for a visit, "Yes. Sleight of hand. Magic... Same thing, depending on who's viewing the act." Xue breathed, realizing she'd been holding her breath, "I'm intrigued." It was the most blatantly obvious thing she'd ever said in her entire life. Her intrigue was easily written all over the dainty lines of her alabaster face.

He withdrew his hand, left the ball in her palm. "Now try moving it. Just hold it in the palm of your hand and move it around. Try wriggling your fingers and see the effect it has. You'll get the hang of the basics soon enough."

Wrinkling her brows, the albino did as he suggested, feeling the weight of it glide on her skin as a direct result of the most minuscule motion of her flesh. The bend of a finger saw the ball scoot to one side. Bend another, the ball danced away in another direction. Within a few minutes the brows were relaxing and she found herself smiling in wonder of the way the little object worked, "Fascinating." She managed, "What drew you to them?"

One of the other balls he was holding had found its way to his own palm, the other had disappeared again. He held his hand in such a way that she could see it and mimicked her movements. Now he began to let the ball make slightly bigger circles in his hand. "Try this next. Enlarging those movements is the first step to moving them across your whole hand, palm and back. Just do it slowly, small steps. Give yourself the time to get accustomed to the weight, to the feeling." He nodded at her movements. "I'm not sure, really… The first time I came across it was when we organised a classic movie night in the Academy, couple of years ago. There was this weird guy there who did some tricks with those balls. I thought back of that when I was thinking about outfits for the masked ball, so I replicated these and started to practice."

"I see." She replied, working to follow along with how he moved the ball. It took a couple seconds, figuring out how to individualize the right muscle and ligament, but the learning curve was one she was willing to work with. "I'm not so sure I'm confident enough to ask it to travel anywhere else but in my palm." She smirked, slowly reaching with her free hand to tuck a wild strand of hair back and away from her face, "I like my toes not mashed into floor boards."

The man grinned again. "Simplest solution for that: train while you stand in a bath. If the ball falls, the worst what will happen is that you get splashed. By the time I thought of it, my poor toes did ask me why I couldn't have come up with that idea before. But for now, this ought to work as well." He still kept moving the ball with one hand, making the circles wider and wider now, and moved his other hand to position it under Xue's. "I'll catch it if it falls."

"Is that all you will catch if things should fall?" She asked, taking her eyes from his hand and the ball, feeling as it began to rotate across the precious territory of the back of her hand.

"Depends on the thing…" he said softly, looking not only at the hesitant movements of the ball over Xue's slender, white hand, but at the woman herself. The stars and space held their miracles, but none were so wondrous as another being, so near and yet so far, thoughts and minds entwined and still at times so far apart. Mystery of mysteries, an endless riddle waiting to be solved. "So many things are worth catching."


Lieutenant Evan Merlin
Chief Strategic Operations Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


Empress Xue'Daio Nox
Queen of Apsha
Ruler of Aleine
Stenellian Ascendancy


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