TT3.59b: Power Struggle

Previously: Chartreuse has a thing for Carrie since the school dance. Luci couldn’t crack Linquist’s code. The principal is worried about the school factions.

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PART 3.12b: POWER STRUGGLE 2

MiniBannerCarrie waited for Mrs. Haye to turn back towards the blackboard before glancing down at the piece of paper she and Julie had been passing back and forth for the last twenty minutes. It was funny – their English teacher was always on the alert for phones, but apparently not for the low tech alternatives.

Pursing her lips, Carrie reviewed what had been written so far.

‘C, think there is trouble. Can we use powers to help? J.’

To which she had scribbled, ‘Am not a magic wand! Define trouble. C.’

Response, ‘Person plotting. Need info on future. Please? J.’

‘Reservations. Anything I see seems unchangeable. C.’

‘Exception this once, maybe? J.’

‘DOES. NOT. WORK. THAT. WAY.’

‘Sorry, C. Maybe use machine instead? J.’

‘Discussion over.’

And then the last line: ‘PLEASE, C? Need a friend here. J.’

Carrie shifted her attention over towards Julie’s desk. To the casual observer, Julie appeared to be engrossed in her note taking – but Carrie noticed a certain rigidity in her posture. Then, even as she watched, Julie glanced her way and fired off a quick look of desperation. Carrie immediately turned away, back to her own english notes.

‘Need a friend here’. A friend. The words floated through her head, causing Carrie to hold her pencil a little tighter. WAS this a friendly request? Or was Julie trying to use Carrie for her abilities?

Carrie frowned. Then again, what did it say that she was even asking herself that question? It’s true that their original friendship had been completely shattered, but they were rebuilding. They had recently traveled through time together, to help Lee. That’s what friends did, right?

Julie should get the benefit of the doubt. Yes, once again, Julie wasn’t the issue. Carrie’s own temporal powers were the real hang up here, like always. She HAD to get over that.

Mrs. Haye started into the last set of examples. Carrie knew that if she was going to send a reply, she had to do it now, before the class started back into a discussion of that boring Shakespearean play. Letting out a quick breath of air, she dashed off one final line: ‘Help me corner Pinkie after class. We’ll talk. C.’ This way, if Julie couldn’t figure out that Pinkie referred to Chartreuse, well, that was her own damn fault.

***

Julie hustled both Chartreuse and Carrie into the nearby custodial supply closet right after English class. “Okay, uh, what’s this, like, about?” Chartreuse wondered.

“I’m not positive myself,” Carrie admitted. “But Julie seems to think she’s in some sort of trouble today.”

“No, not think, now I’m sure I am,” Julie told them. “Because the more I’ve considered it, the more the timing fits. Particularly given Corry’s overly complacent attitude since the dance. He’s become a target, and while I’m indirectly involved, I haven’t been keeping myself in the loop at school. So I need more information.”

“You know, I did sense some kind of destructive force when I was walking by the library this morning,” Chartreuse agreed. “But I thought it was, like, aftereffects of the bran muffin I ate this morning.”

“Look, Julie, if you’re hoping to stop the future – you don’t want my help,” Carrie said, placing her hands on her hips. “We haven’t done much experimenting that way yet, but thus far, anything I’ve seen? It’s happened. Cafe fire, Tim at the dance, and at a recent session, the grade on my history report. In fact, if we try to change things? We could end up causing the event ourselves.”

Julie couldn’t hold back an exasperated sigh. “But Carrie, I can’t simply sit back and allow Corry–”

“Which is why I suggested Chartreuse here,” the blonde interrupted. “Her more ambiguous impressions would be of greater use.”

The pink haired girl blinked back at Carrie. “What? But those need meditation, or direct contact. Besides, you don’t need to look into the future here, you’ve been getting wicked accurate at, you know, pegging what people are doing in the present! You could simply centre yourself in the school and, like, see if anything looks out of whack.”

“Well gee Chartreuse, I could, but I neglected to memorize where every molecule of the building is supposed to be in the river of time.”

“You don’t need to be so specific. If we–”

“Okay, know what?” Julie broke in again. “We don’t have time for this. Classes resume soon. Carrie, Corry’s probably still at his locker – couldn’t you take ten seconds to see if there’s anything obvious around power trip boy that he’s missing? And Chartreuse, when she does that, is there some way you could interface to pick up your impressions second hand?”

The two girls exchanged a glance. “I have kinda wondered about interfacing with you,” Chartreuse whispered. “We came close to something back at the dance! It’s just, since then there never seemed to, you know, be a real good way to, um, suggest it?” She swallowed.

Carrie ran her fingers back through her hair. “Yeah, look, I don’t think a janitor’s closet is the best place for our first interface.”

Chartreuse’s hopeful look crashed into sadness. And there it was again, the same thing Julie had noticed on their time trip into the past. Something about Chartreuse’s reactions to Carrie’s indifference seemed… personal. Almost like unrequited… no, seriously? Julie made a mental note to see if anyone else had noticed.

“Carrie, please,” Julie insisted. “If… if my suspicions aren’t verified here and now, I swear I won’t bother either of you for the rest of the day! At least try, okay? For me, if not for Corry?”

Chartreuse canted her head to the side. “Wow Julie! Are you begging us to do this for you?”

Julie cast her a withering glance. “I’m requesting. Don’t exaggerate my case, Pinkie Pie.” She assumed Carrie’s nickname had been a reference to that show.

“All right,” Carrie cut in quickly. “All right, Julie. We’ll try. But whether it works or not, no more about this today! That’s the deal.”

Julie nodded. “You have my word.”

Chartreuse extended her hands, and after a nod, Carrie took them. Julie watched as both girls closed their eyes. She shifted her weight back and forth uneasily as ten seconds passed, then twenty, then forty. Finally, after just over a minute, Chartreuse snatched one hand away from Carrie’s with a gasp and looked down at it. A couple of seconds later, Carrie reopened her eyes.

“Wow,” Carrie murmured, frowning. “Julie, my apologies. You were right. Someone’s after Corry today.”

“What is it then?” Julie pressed. “What did you see Joe Drew doing?”

“I… wait, Joe?” Carrie protested. “The guy I got a bead on was Tommy Kvish.”

“No, no, the impressions I had were of Megan Falls!” Chartreuse protested, looking back up from her palm. The three girls stared at each other for another long moment in the supply closet, blinking in confusion.

“Well, damn,” Julie said to break the silence.

***

“M-M-Mr. Burke?” Tim stammered. “My computer won’t boot.”

The computer science teacher approached the blonde boy’s workstation and flipped the power switch himself a couple of times. “Yup, you’re right,” he affirmed. “I’ll notify the school tech. Paul’s away today, so use his computer, over by Luci.”

Luci glanced up briefly as her name was mentioned before returning her attention to the notebook in front of her. Her notebook, filled with the strings of Linquist’s letters that refused to make sense, no matter how she played with them. If only she could let go… but she couldn’t. At least she’d been able to reign her emotions back in last weekend, before everyone had returned from their time trip. Otherwise it would have been pretty embarrassing.

“Hey Luci, what’re you up to?” Frank asked.

As he sat down on her right, the young girl quickly slipped her notebook out of her lap and around to the far side of the computer. She couldn’t admit to her boyfriend that she had become as obsessed with Linquist’s book as he seemed to have become with Glen. “Nothing much,” she said, smiling. “Random coding thought.” It wasn’t a total lie.

The bell rang for class to begin. “Now remember,” Mr. Burke stated, “today is another work period, but the printouts of your assignments are due on my desk by end of day tomorrow. If you finish early, try the bonus question. I’ll continue to circulate for help as needed.”

Luci listened to the teacher with half an ear as she pulled up her coding folder on the desktop. She started doing a bit of debugging, but her heart wasn’t in it, and soon her eyes had wandered back to the open notebook on her left. As focused as she was on the contents, it took a minute or so before she realized that Tim was staring over at the notebook too. “What??” she demanded.

Tim flushed red and turned back to his computer. “N-N-Nothing,” he stammered in reply. “D-Didn’t know you were studying some derivative of l-latin.”

“I’m not,” Luci snapped back. “It’s… wait, this looks like latin?!”

Tim looked back up at her, then again down at the notebook. He frowned, then shrugged. “Okay, no… it did at first, a bit… but this is a language I don’t recognize.”

Luci barely heard him, eyes riveted back on the page. The characters began to swim before her eyes. A language. A *language*. It wasn’t shorthand. It wasn’t a cipher to be decoded. No, Linquist had gone and developed his own damn LANGUAGE! She didn’t need a better code breaker. She needed a linguistics expert.

“Tim,” Luci croaked, her mouth dry. “You’re taking a latin course, right?”

“Y-Yeah,” he admitted. “Why?”

Luci tore her eyes away from her notebook long enough to meet his gaze. “Are you busy today at lunch?” she breathed. In fact, Luci was so shocked by this latest development that she didn’t even notice Julie’s messages to Frank on his computer.

*

This is the conclusion of the part from last Tuesday! Click PREVIOUS if you missed it. Click VOTE FOR T&T if you’re willing to, er, vote.

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