Hey, remember how before TLOK6/1 came out, there was a Mini of a scene where Korra was meeting somebody? If it ain't broke...
This post also commemorates my last shift as one of the tool crib attendants in the University of Maine's Machine Tool Laboratory. This is a federal work study job, and graduate students don't get federal work study, so I will no longer be eligible to work here. I've had this job for four and a half years now—considerably longer than any of my Actual Grown-Up Jobs has ever lasted. I'll miss it.
P.S. Spot the Real Life reference!
Benjamin D. Hutchins, Co-Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & Forum Mod
Eyrie Productions, Unlimited http://www.eyrie-productions.com/
zgryphon at that email service Google has
Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.
Wednesday, June 26, 2391
New Avalon, Zeta Cygni
Rafik, as stylishly dressed as he'd been when they'd all gone clubbing Saturday night, was waiting for Korra at street level, by the top of the stairs coming up out of the Avalon Dramatic Arts Institute's N station. With a big grin, he greeted her in an odd and artsy style, with a pair of flamboyant air kisses that didn't quite connect with either of her cheeks, then led the way to a sidewalk café a block and a half up from the Institute's main building.
"Before we get into anything else," said Rafik cheerfully once they'd placed their lunch order, "I just want to thank you for sorting out Mike and Gisele. Those two were going to drive me to drink before too much longer." With a thoughtful frown, he paused and then said, "Well, further to drink."
Korra chuckled, then said, "So I was right, then? She made her move?"
Rafik laughed, slapping his thigh. "Girlfriend, she made four or five moves after you left us, and that's just the ones I stuck around long enough to see. I knew right away what had happened, of course. She got lit enough to tell you her troubles, and—the exact wording's just a guess—you told her, 'Girl, if you want the boy that bad, stop whining and sack up, or the distaff equivalent thereof!'"
"I was a little more diplomatic than that," Korra laughed, "but I admit that was more or less the message."
"Well, it worked," Rafik said with a satisfied nod. "That's the important part." He shook his head with an indulgent smile. "I love those two with all my heart, but watching them together's been torture since about the tenth grade."
"You guys have known each other that long, huh?" Korra asked, sipping her water.
"Oh yeah, we're the Original Rich Parker Crew," said Rafik. "There were half a dozen of us whose parents all moved to town at the same time, we all went to Parker Memorial High together. Saturday night was a regular ORPC reunion. Couple of us have moved away and Adam had to work, but the rest of us were present and accounted for."
"Well," said Korra wryly, "I'm glad I could help."
They talked about the adventures of the Original Rich Parker Crew and Korra's other experiences in New Avalon while working their way through their sandwiches. Toward the end of the meal, the topic came around to Rafik's current course of study and his career aspirations, which centered on the design of clothing both fashionable and practical.
"Costumes, eh? Hmm." Korra considered something for the lifetime of one of the last bites of her sandwich, then said, "Do you know anybody who does props? Maybe has access to a wood shop, that kind of thing?"
Rafik nodded. "Sure," he said. "Wouldn't be a film-and-theater school without prop nerds," he added with a grin. "Why?"
"I've got a little project in mind," Korra said. "Nothing really fancy, but I'd need access to tools and materials I don't know where to find in this town."
"Ahaaa," said Rafik with an air of satisfaction. "I know just the person you need to talk to. It's Wednesday, right?" Korra nodded. "Perfect," said Rafik with a nod. "Hie yourself downtown to our alma mater, dear old Rich Parker High, tonight at sixish and sign up for the adult ed woodworking class. Twenty-five credits gets you access to one of the best small-project shops in the city. Half of the stuff you see in ADAI student films gets made down there 'cause the faculty's always hogging our own prop shop," he added with a sly grin. "The instructor for this summer's night class happens to be the missing man from our formation on Saturday. You tell him Rafik sent you and he'll hook you up."
"That's perfect," said Korra. "Thanks a lot, Rafik."
That evening, Korra presented herself in the front office at Rich Parker Memorial High School and asked if she could please enroll in the Introductory Woodworking adult education class. Indeed she could, and for a very reasonable price; and so she went down the hall to the door marked WOOD SHOP and entered.
The room beyond was large and institutional in an instantly familiar way. Korra would have known just from the smell what it was; that combination of oiled machinery and freshly cut wood was unique to places like this. Standing for a moment in the door to get her bearings, she saw that it was laid out much like the woodworking shop at the old Future Industries. The equipment was all surprisingly recognizable, given that she was effectively in The Future, but then she supposed a lathe was always going to be a lathe as long as such things existed in the first place.
One corner of the large, open-plan room was set up as an impromptu classroom, with a cluster of a dozen one-piece schoolroom desks arranged facing a bench and whiteboard. Seven of these were occupied by people, most of them human and the others pretty close, in various stages of life, all sitting with notebooks or datapads and awaiting the start of the class. A few turned to look as Korra entered; several nodded to her and the rest turned back without comment.
At the front of the classroom space, standing behind the bench, was a young man, evidently human, with short, none-too-orderly ginger hair and a matching vandyke beard. He wore heavy black-plastic-framed spectacles, blue jeans, and a black T-shirt proudly displaying the cheerfully lettered slogan I DO ALL MY OWN STUNTS. (Korra made a mental note to find out where she could obtain such a thing.) At Korra's entrance, he smiled and said,
"Welcome! Have a seat, you're right on time. We're just about to get started."
Korra smiled in return and took a seat at the end of the front row, then got out her little notebook and the space pen Frantzen had given her. She wasn't really here to learn introductory woodworking, but you never knew—she might pick up some interesting new tricks. The instructor seemed very young to her, but then, Rafik had said he was a member of the Original Rich Parker Crew, which would make him 22 or three.
He waited for her to get settled, craned his neck for a second to see if there was anyone else coming in after her, then turned back to the class, placing his hands flat on the bench in front of him.
"OK!" he said cheerfully. "I guess we're all here. So. Welcome to Introductory Woodworking. My name is Adam, but the employee handbook—" (he placed a hand on the small stack of loose-leaf binders next to him on the bench) "—says I should insist that you all call me Mr. Savage." He looked around his audience for a second while letting that sink in, then grinned and said, "But since maybe two of you are younger than me, I don't think that makes a ton of sense, so I'm gonna leave it up to you. One or the other. Either one works.
"Now the second thing the handbook says is that I should get you all to introduce yourselves and talk a little bit about what you're hoping to get out of this class. Unlike the Mr. Savage thing, I think that's a pretty good idea, so let's start there. Then we'll talk a little bit about shop safety, and then we can really get started. Who wants to go first?"
An hour later, while her classmates were looking through books of suggested projects and trying to figure out what they were going to build, Korra was over by the materials rack, selecting the stock she would need. She was thus engaged, mulling over the various bits of different woods available and taking a couple of preliminary measurements, when Adam finished advising one of the others and sloped over to see how she was getting along.
"You appear to have a pretty good idea what you need already," he observed mildly.
"Reasonably," Korra agreed, nodding, as she sighted down a length of some dark, fairly heavy wood, eyeing the straightness of the grain. "Just not sure if I'm going to find it all here... this'll do for a start, though," she said, taking the piece down from its place on the rack.
Adam stood and watched her for a minute as she put the length of wood she'd selected on one of the workbenches and set about recording and considering its measurements. Then, with a speculative smile, he said, "I'm gonna go out on a limb here and guess that you don't really need the 'class' part of this class."
Korra looked up from her work and gave him a slightly sheepish smile in return. "Well," she allowed, "maybe not, strictly speaking. But it's interesting!" she assured him. "Different from the way I learned, and I'm always looking for new ways to do stuff. But yeah, I guess I have to plead guilty to that. I needed to get access to a good shop, and Rafik suggested I try here first. I hope that's not a problem?"
Adam looked slightly taken aback. "You know Rafik?" he said; then his eyebrows went up. "Oh!" he cried, slapping his forehead. "Korra! You're the one I missed on Saturday night!" He gave her a judicious look, then nodded. "OK, I totally get what he was talking about now."
"I'm... not sure where that's headed," said Korra.
Adam looked puzzled, then blushed and said, "Well, he said at first he thought Mike had imagined you, and then after he met you he still wasn't sure." He grinned. "And now I see what he meant." Then, briskly, he added, "All right, well, I'm going to trust that you're not going to cut your fingers off with the table saw or anything and let you get on with your project. That's not a problem. But don't be surprised if I end up using you as a TA from time to time. You're the only other person here with any experience, and I think some of these guys are going to need a lot of help," he added with a boyish grin.
Korra couldn't help grinning back; Adam's cheerful energy was infectious, and she found herself taken with his artlessness, too. This was a guy who either had no ulterior motives at all, or could bury them so deep she had no inkling of them—and with all her experience in handling people with an agenda, she thought the latter was very unlikely indeed.
"You've got yourself a deal, Mr. Savage," she said, and then went back to work while he bustled off to help one of the other students make an initial material selection.
By the end of the three-hour block reserved for the class, Korra had a reasonable start on the first piece of her project; she'd cut the piece of wood she'd started with to length, ripped it to width, and made a preliminary pass at its proper shape. It had still to be drilled, slotted, massaged into its final shape, and finished, and then there were all the other parts to make, but she was well pleased with her opening efforts as she tidied up her workspace and made sure everything was back where it belonged.
"All right, everybody, that was a good first day," Adam assured the class as they finished up their own cleanups and filed out of the room. "Whenever you leave the shop with the same number of body parts you came in with, I've done the most important part of my job. See you all on Friday!"
Korra took her work-in-progress with her rather than leave it in the corner of the shop set aside for students' projects. She lingered in the hall while Adam locked up the shop, then walked with him toward the front of the building, remarking to herself that there was something eerie about schools and company offices when everyone had gone for the night. His footsteps echoed down the corridor in a way she somehow didn't think they would have during the day, for instance.
"I have to be honest," Adam remarked, "I've watched you work on that thing all night, and I still don't have the faintest idea what you're actually building."
Korra chuckled. "It's a surprise," she said.
Adam grinned and held the school's front door for her, then made certain it had locked behind them. At a bit past nine in the evening, the downtown area where Rich Parker Memorial stood was brightly lit but virtually deserted; New Avalon's nightlife happened in places other than the southern City Center, evidently. Without making a big deal about it, Adam walked with her to the nearest N station—not that there was anyone else about, nor did she particularly need an escort, but she appreciated the uncomplicated neighborliness of the gesture.
They chatted as they went about how long she was planning to be in town, how she'd come to know Mike and the rest of the Original Crew, and the like. By the top of the stairs down into the N station, they paused for a moment and stood side by side in quiet thought, looking up at the towering buildings and orderly aerial traffic.
Then Adam zipped up his battered brown leather jacket and said, "Welp, I'll see you Friday, Korra. Stay safe."
"You too," she said. "Great meeting you."
Adam gave her a cheerful grin and settled his old-fashioned hat a little more firmly on his head. "And you," he said...
... and then, with no more drama than hailing a cab, he flew away. Not with a rocket pack or some kind of collapsible personal aircraft, or anything like that, nor by catching an air taxi. Just... one second he was standing on the pavement beside her, and the next, he was, well, flying, like a model on wires, disappearing into the night sky.
"What," said Korra flatly, looking up into the sky where he'd gone.
Shaking her head and smiling wryly at her own consternation, she turned and descended into the subway. Every time she thought she was getting used to this town, it always found some new surprise for her.
She liked that a lot.
"And So They Met, Pt II" - A Legacy of Korra, Book 6 Mini-Excerpt by Benjamin D. Hutchins
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