ivara



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  1. Rec 11

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    You had to fight a big snake for your thesis defense. One of the largest ones you'd ever seen—and you'd attended plenty of defenses, seen the fear in the doctoral candidates' eyes as they sought out their snake in the shadows. You don't actually know if it's the biggest snake the facilities department had to offer, because they don't like to give out that much information. But it was a very big snake indeed.

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    01 Mar 2021

  2. Rec 6

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    This crowded maze of shelves and boxes, this wash of dark wood under sourceless weak light, it is a comforting, familiar space. Even despite the hated spiders that sometimes surprise him when he reaches for said boxes, it is safe, and it is where he belongs.

    The Archivist begins his thirty-eighth escape attempt anyway.

    *

    TMA AU that uses the trappings of Hades but none of its lovely light tone. No knowledge of Hades is required to read this, but be warned that there are some implied late game Hades spoilers.

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    28 Feb 2021

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    Returning to the Archives always puts him in a foul mood, you see. Even worse than its association with his repeated failures, the starting point from which he cannot escape, even worse than the cold empty corners that should be neither cold nor—

    “No,” the Archivist says, stopping. He looks to the air and addresses nobody very firmly. “Narrate what you want, but you will not talk about him.”

    Er, yes. Well.

    Even aside from the, ah, many reasons that we will not go into—

    (the Archivist nods and resumes his dejected trudging through the stacks)

    —there is the unassailable truth that, simply, the Archives are where he belongs.

    He does not hunger here. He does not ache.

    And there is, as well, the shade of Tim standing guard by document storage, awaiting the news he has of the stranger the Archivist meets sometimes on the third level. There is Daisy in the break room, snarling as she always does that she will not let him win so easily next time. Even Gerry makes one of his rare appearances, smoking moodily by the railing as he watches the river of ink from which the Archivist emerged.

    ...

    “You said you wouldn’t let me leave too,” the Archivist says, and tugs at the bottom of the marionette’s shirt to straighten it out. He is making a point of looking nonchalant, you see. “And then I learned, and I got stronger, and here you are.”

    Ink is seeping up from the wooden slats to pool around Magnus. Although it never rises beyond the level of a shallow puddle, not even enough to cover the Archivist’s shoes, Magnus sinks slowly below it. As it is not yet time for him to be claimed by the Archives, the Archivist does not.

    “And here you are.” And with only his grin visible over the ink, yellowing skin stretched over his ancient skull, Magnus says, “And here you will be. No matter what new tricks you learn, the Beholding will learn them too, and so you’ll keep coming back. Again and again and—”

    It swallows him, and his words, and the Archivist is left with only the sound of recorded applause from the tapes in the seats above.

    He heads for the door.

    ...

    “Fine...fine.” There is, between them, echoes of many such arguments that we will not delve into, but suffice it to say, Gerry was not best pleased when he discovered the Archivist was trying to escape, and he is not pleased now. “I just—You can’t brute-force this, Jon. No matter how many boons you collect, it won’t be enough to beat the Watcher.”

    The Archivist inhales deeply of his foul-tasting cigarette. If he still had lungs, he imagines they would burn. “I almost got it last time, you know.”

    “Yeah? Then what happened?”

    “...It got back up.”

    “Uh-huh. Like a certain someone we know?”

    The Archivist’s silence is answer enough. He, too, has surprised many an enemy by rising after they thought he was slain. He had not particularly enjoyed being the recipient of that surprise.

    Especially not when the Beholding had returned with lasers, just for added flavour.

  3. Rec *

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    There was very little hope to be found within the Darkmount cell. What there was, Optimus clung to, for as long as he could.

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    22 Feb 2021

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    “Good.” Megatron looked down at Thundercracker. “Well, Thundercracker? It’s taken a while. Longer than I thought it would, I confess,” he added dryly. “But have I kept my promise?”

    Thundercracker’s eyes widened a little, still staring, and his voice actually distorted slightly, fuzzing with static as he said, “Yes. Yes—my lord.” And he bowed his head in a sudden deep jerk, and put his fist across his chest.

    Megatron just nodded. “I’m putting you in charge of supervising the prisoners. Stay sharp.” Thundercracker was nodding, quick; his optics had brightened. “And I also imagine some of our own will be inclined to look for some recreation. Soundwave is monitoring, but if you get there first, make clear they’re disobeying direct orders, and handle them accordingly. I don’t want any mistakes down here.”

    He glanced at Optimus briefly once more, and then he stalked away down the corridor and passed out of sight. Thundercracker just stood there staring after him for a long time, even after Optimus couldn’t hear footsteps any longer. There was something almost wondering in his face. Then he pulled himself out of it and reached for the door controls.

    “Thundercracker,” Optimus said. “What promise did Megatron make you?”

    Thundercracker paused, looking in at him. After a moment, he said, “I was gonna quit after Vos.”

    “The bombardment of Vos,” Optimus said. “That was—early in the war. The fiftieth vorn.” He remembered. The high towers shattered, left smoking ruin; the streets filled with the charred corpses of the dead.

    “Yeah,” Thundercracker said. “And Megatron told me…he told me the war was going to be fragged up to the limit and there wasn’t any way to get around it, and I’d be sick of it the whole time if I stuck it out. But he promised me that when the war was over…it wasn’t going to stay fragged up any longer than it had to.”

    Then he slid the solid wall shut, and left Optimus closed inside staring at the featureless surface, equally blank.

    ...

    “I guess then at least the assignments might get done,” Optimus said dryly, and Starscream and the audience all jerked around and stared at him. “It’s nice to see so many of you out here to help get the turbines in place. Why don’t we get started?”

    The whole pack of them formed up around him, a ring of menace—all of Megatron’s worst monsters, the Decepticons it had been so easy to despise and fear, all this time—and Starscream, smirking in the front, purred at him, “So, Optimus, you thought you could just waltz in here alone and start giving orders?”

    Optimus had long-established threads ready to be invoked in situations like this, full of combat triggers and cold verbal condemnation, steely resolve. Several of them automatically tried to request processor time, and he had to manually put them aside, force his strategic unit to reevaluate the situation. These weren’t his enemies to defeat. These were mechs he had to save. Because if he couldn’t save them, he couldn’t save Elita, either.

    That realignment was the first and hardest step; once he’d pushed his brain through it, the second came smoothly, generating itself almost instantly out of a rapid cross-linking: the eons of data from the war, and his recent experience with the young Decepticon foursquad. “Starscream,” Optimus said, in a conversational tone, “you’ve tried to murder Megatron maybe thirty times that I know about. Do you know why he hasn’t killed you for it?”

    “He can’t afford to. I’m a critically necessary officer,” Starscream sneered.

    Optimus nodded. “All right. Now, can you think of a single strategic or tactical reason why I wouldn’t kill you? Same question goes for the rest of you,” he added, as the smirk fell precipitously off Starscream’s face.

    “Megatron would destroy you!” Starscream said.

    “I don’t think he would, actually,” Optimus said. “After all, once you were gone—I’d be a critically necessary officer.”

    “And you seriously think you could beat all of us?” Starscream’s optics had gone narrow and furious.

    “Try me and find out,” Optimus said cheerfully. “Anyone want to go first?”

    Everyone instantly looked at Starscream—he’d set himself up for it neatly—and Starscream stared up at Optimus, his jaw sliding back and forth almost invisibly, furious. “Perhaps you’re right, Optimus,” he said after a moment. “You could be a very valuable Decepticon. Generous of Megatron, letting you switch to the winning side this late in the game, but—better late than never, I suppose. I wouldn’t really have expected you to be so enthusiastic about it, although I imagine it does beat sitting in a cell with the rest of your minions.”

    It would have been a very effective dig if Optimus hadn’t actually been there trying to save Starscream’s life. As it was, Optimus only said, “I’m glad you see it that way. All of you fuel up and let’s get these turbines going.”

  4. Rec 7

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    Hawks stares at him. “I don’t believe you.”

    “I don’t give a shit if you believe me.” Smoke vents from Dabi’s nostrils and the staples along his jaw.

    “I admire your commitment, but I think your organs are charring themselves just fine. No need to help them along.”

    Dabi blows smoke in his face. “Good thing I don’t give a shit what you think, either,” he says, and eats the fucking cigarette.

     

    One month before the war begins and the heroes vanish, Dabi lets Hawks in on a secret.

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    21 Feb 2021

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    Dabi snaps his fingers and a blue flame flickers over his thumb. It’s an asinine bit of theatrics, but that’s Dabi for you. He lights the cigarette between his teeth. A tremor goes through Hawks’s fingertips, through his wings.

    Dabi rasps a low laugh and melts back into the pillows. His eyes slide shut. “I’m going to kill you.”

    That is probably even true. Hawks is not long for this world. Neither is Dabi. But you don’t love something because it lasts.

  5. Rec *

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    It is the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and a student needs a snake for her defense.

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    19 Feb 2021