(Show/Hide Browsing Column ->)
Oranaan walked into the auditorium, his feet heavy under his brand-new stylish indigo robe and official hat. The robe was stiff and uncomfortable, and seemed a portent of his afternoons to come this tenday. (Though Oranaan didn't believe in portents, he did appreciate the resonant evils of bureaucracy.) Emeroma had assigned him penance for blowing up his lab, and though, for once, he had the sense not to protest that anomalies didn't exactly blow up things, here he was, in the robe she had insisted he buy, with her Manual of Laboratory Safety in his hands and a room full of squirmy students muttering, poking each other, and clearly ready to ignore his unspeakably boring topic.Author's Notes
He stood at the edge of the stage, trying to look proper and grim, like Emeroma, but then he saw a girl in the far back fold herself into her chair upside down (a surprisingly skilled headstand), and a teacher hurrying over to scold her, and Oranaan grinned. He didn't have to be close enough to hear to know what he would be saying to the girl. He missed goofing off for no other reason than to get that look on a teacher's face.
The nervous young man on stage with him made a theatrical flourish with his hand, "So I present to you Science Master Oranaan."
The applause was rote and uninspired, except for a double row of students in the front. One of them stood up to clap and Oranaan recognized Lidineyev. A younger, curly-haired boy next to him looked around with alarm and pulled him back down. Oranaan remembered the experiments he and Lidi had been doing, shooting beer barrels into the sky in the fields near the City of Lights. A few of them had interacted with anomalies, and come down scorched and melted. One had even come down like shooting stars--it had taken them (mostly Lidi) days to hunt down the pieces, and even after all that trouble, over half of the barrel was gone. Those experiments had to be abandoned when the City of Lights was evacuated. What luck to find Lidi again!
Oranaan walked up to the podium and looked down at the provided notes. They were everything he'd hated as a boy--dry and full of lengthy prescriptions for a dull (if safe) lab. This wasn't why he got into science--and it wasn't why Lidi and his friends were excited about science either. More importantly, that wouldn't help the grinning girl in back who was now sitting cross-legged (but upright) in her narrow auditorium chair.
He smiled at the students and took off the archaic hat he was wearing. "I'll put this on in a while and take questions, but first I want to talk about what it's like being a scientist, doing experiments with things that we don't know enough about to have good safety rules for yet." In the sudden silence that followed his words, Oranaan dropped the manual on the podium. It made a satisfactory, echoing thud.
"You'd think everything necessary to keep your lab from going up in smoke would be in here," he said. "It's certainly big enough." The students laughed. Oranaan smiled, and started to tell them a little about the anomalies (though he had sense enough to leave certain things out, given the age of his audience). He talked about experiments gone wrong, and how those very things sometimes led to new knowledge. The students loved it--well, most of them. He saw the girl in the back slide her legs down to the floor silently, to lean forward with the rest of them, but the boy next to her appeared to be taking a nap.
To his surprise, Oranaan loved this. He had the undivided attention of several hundred people, and he suddenly understood the appeal of being a musician or actor. He highlighted the humor, when he could (even at his own expense), but got serious too, warning that the world can be dangerous, and sometimes making a mistake--or even just not understanding what you are studying--can get you killed. "Or, of course, assigned to lecture a bunch of kids on lab safety, which is why you have the pleasure of my company today. Science Leader Emeroma said, since I must wait for my lab to be rebuilt, I should acquaint you--and reacquaint myself--with the contents of this book. But no one could remember every detail in this book--" Here, Oranaan distinctly heard the curly-haired boy next to Lidi mutter, "I could." Oranaan shot him a speculative look, but continued, "So I thought I'd convince you it's worth the time to have a copy of this book and use it. It can't prevent all mishaps, of course, but at least if you do, when you burn your lab down it will give you new and interesting data."
This time, the applause was genuine. The kids in the front rows stood up and whistled, and some of the ones behind them stood up too. Oranaan grinned at them, wondering how an Emeroma-designed punishment had turned out to be fun. He reached for the hat and set it on his unruly curls. "Now, whoever wants may ask me questions."
Written for the August, 2013 Muse Fusion, with thanks to LJ user chordatesrock for wanting to see more of Amaroin.