|The Keeper's Society : Genesis
Author: Jo of Genesis PM
Jo and Archie are the kids of a business manager in a steampunk world, Faven. Companions, telapathic animals who can only speak to one human, Bond to their human at ten years. At fifteen, Jo and her weasel Companion, Saada are in etiquette school, her brother Archie, at nine is in trade school. When Companions start to disappear and family is framed, they have to run to stay alive.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure/Sci-Fi - Chapters: 2 - Words: 5,300 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 08-06-12 - Published: 08-04-12 - id: 3047799
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This story has no beta. If anyone wants to offer, that's cool with me. Also, it is highly recommended you read 58-A-7 to Faven before reading this, however it is not required to get the gist of it.
"This is talking out loud." "This indicates mindspeech between Companion and Keeper." This is thought.
"One, two, three. One, two, three. That's it children, you are doing just fine." The dance teacher's shrill voice cut over the sound of the record player blaring out slow dance music. She walked through the room of waltzing teens to cut the power to the record player, done only when the switch to stop the steam from flowing through the power tube into the device was flipped. Immediately the hall went quiet. "Today's lesson is over. Now if you will all gather your things and proceed to your next class. Without speaking!" She added sharply.
A few whispered conversations were cut short.
Josephine Feenix Hammond quietly gathered up her things, stopping for a moment to brush out a few of the wrinkles in the first of her many layers of skirts. When she thought no one was looking, she adjusted her corset for more comfort. It always amazed her how it always seemed to pinch in all the wrong places.
"Jo! You shouldn't be doing that in public, what if someone saw?" Saada broke into her thoughts, completely derailing the train of thought that was running through Jo's head.
"I'll be fine! No one saw. Anyways, I don't think I'd be able to stand cooking class otherwise. Not that I'll be able to stand it either way, but you know what I mean." Jo sent back to her Companion. The ever-patient long-tailed weasel huffed, and crawled up onto Jo's shoulder, her tail curled around her Keeper's neck. Jo's Companion had been a large topic of discussion for the students at Miss Turner's School for the Upcoming Members of Society, more commonly called SUMS. It seemed odd that she would Bond with the animal commonly thought of in literature as the turncoat, the spy, the double-agent. So as a result, Jo was not often given hold of many secrets, and her true friends were few and far between, not that she cared, because as far as she was concerned, she had everyone she needed in her family and Companion. Very few people had this sort of security that early in life, especially when at the tender age of fifteen, Jo had only had her Companion animal for five years.
"You've forgotten yet again, that on Fridays, you do not have to go to cooking class. You need to go pick up Archibald." Saada reminded gently, her whiskers twitching amusedly at the little brother's name; Archibald, more commonly called Archie, was most definitely not bald. Archie was in Mister Adam's School of Selective Enterprising Trades, or ASSET. Since ASSET got out early on Fridays and Jo, being the daughter of one the most successful business managers on Faven, probably wouldn't have to cook in her lifetime, she was allowed out early to pick her brother up for school. Otherwise, Archie would have to stay in ASSET until Jo got out; walking the streets alone was one of the privileges given to Bonded pairs. Archie was impatiently waiting for his tenth birthday, which would arrive in three months, and one of his favorite ways to waste time was thinking up with animals that he might Bond with.
Jo smiled; a full blown grin as she left the room, books in hand, and walked down the busy hallway filled with students, and animals. It was quite the sight to see. There were all manners of creatures following their Keepers around. Lions, birds, lizards, and dogs were only the tip of the iceberg that made up the variety of wildlife at SUMS. Not that it was wild. It was uncommon to see animals fighting, and if it did happen, generally it was because the animal's Keepers had started the violence. Jo had never gotten into a fight, terrified to think of what might happen if a larger animal got a hold of Saada. "Calm down. I can hold my own in a fight." Saada soothed, picking up on her Keeper's distressed emotions. Jo took a deep breath and continued to her locker, pulling a key from one of her hidden pockets to open the door.
Pressing her ear to the cool metal, she could hear the gears turning and the tumbler clicking. The door popped open slightly, and she pulled it open with ease. Grabbing her book-bag, she unceremoniously dumped her books inside, closed the door, and locked it, before returning the key to its hidden pocket. "Let's get out of here. I mean I love learning but this place is claustrophobic." Saada nodded in agreement, her whiskers brushing Jo's cheek.
Jo nodded as she passed by the secretary's office. The elderly woman looked up to confirm her identity and went back to her work. Her bloodhound sniffed in Jo's direction, and Saada poked her head over Jo's intricately bobbed copper red hair. Yawning, the dog plopped its head on the ground. Pushing the door open, the girl and her Companion escaped the building built upon the teaching of etiquette and social order.
At around one thirty in the afternoon, the streets could hardly be considered busy. All the children were in school, and the men mostly at work. That withstanding, one of the most common sights to see were housewives in small groups going about their daily errands.
"Saada, can you believe that in just three years that could be me?"
"Ha ha ha. I doubt that. I can't see you traveling in one of those packs, sharing the juiciest gossip of the day. The very thought is laughing stock." The weasel chuckled. But she was right. Jo had never been one for following the social norm, Saada was proof of that. "Now get going, we don't want to be late. There are some dreadful bullies in the area, and I can't stand to see little Archie hurt. He has such a sweet face."
Stopping at the market to pick up two apples and a piece of meat, about the size of two of her fingers, at the counter she handed over five bits, the SOK currency. It took four chips to make a bit, twenty bits to make a piece, ten pieces to make a unit, and five units to make a credit. But bits were the most used part of the currency so that was what Jo carried around in her money pouch.
"You can have the meat after we pick up Archie." Jo told to a grumbling Saada.
"You're killing me."
It was with relief that Archie spotted Jo coming down the street. Four of the older boys had ganged up on him. Their Companions nipped at his heels as he tried to run away. He'd never been a fighter, he wasn't very competitive after all, and he couldn't throw a good punch to save his life. It also hurt that he was the youngest in his year. When all the other kids in his year were sent to SUMS, he would have to stay behind because of the classes in Companionship he needed to take. The classes the other kids were already taking because they had already gone to the Emporium to be bonded.
"Hey!" Her voice broke through the taunts and bitter insults. The boys jumped back in shock. They whipped around to look at the thin girl. "Who were you calling Bondless? Now I don't want to hear that you four bullied my little brother ever again, or I'll have to take drastic measures, and you don't want to know what those are. C'mon Archie, let's go."
The little boy hurried after his sister, smiling at Saada, who winked at him and stuck her tongue out. "Thanks Jo," he murmured. Jo shook her head sadly. She handed him the apple, which he took graciously and ate a bite.
"We need to have a talk when we get home." She told him seriously.
Archie winced, not wanting to know what the talk would be about. Obviously it would have to do with bullies, but honestly, he didn't know what he could do, after all they had Companions and touching another person's Companion was one of the biggest breaches in social conduct someone could do, barring family of course. Family was considered close enough that to touch each other's Companion was allowed, but with permission of course. Archie would never dream of touching Saada unless Jo said otherwise. They walked aways in silence for a while, eating their apples, during which Jo pulled out a piece of meat and gave to her weasel.
Archie watched the little creature. Saada was a weasel, that when on Earth, would have lived in the southern parts of its range, near the equator, so when she molted for the winter, her fur didn't turn white like a northern weasel's would. He thought that it was better like that, he liked her fur. She was a rich chestnut brown, with a reddish gold shine, but her belly, neck and lower jaw were a pure white.
"Sometimes its strange how Archie stares at me while we walk." Saada said offhandedly. "He's been watching me for the past four blocks."
"Wellll, you are very pretty."
"You're just saying that."
The trio turned down a driveway, a driveway that many mistake to be a street, and at the end of the driveway was one of the biggest houses in the city. The house of Dr Geoffrey Bidelf Hammond, head of the business, Hammond Fuels, the largest fuel company on Planet Faven. Hammond Fuels sold the combustant called Hydrofire, mined from the very large moons of Faven. One drop of the half-solid, half-liquid, would keep a very large airship in the air for years, but was very expensive to buy, and with the fuel being the largest source of power on Faven, Mr Hammond became very rich.
At the large door, Jo knocked five times, a code so that the butler would know them to be family. "Good afternoon, Master Hammond. How was school, Miss Josephine?" The stately man, the very man on whom the stereotypical butler could have been built from, greeted them as he opened the door. He got a noncommital grunt and the shrugging of shoulders from the young lad, but from Jo he heard :
"He was ganged up on by bullies after class. He hadn't a chance because of their Companions."
"Ahh, I see. Your mother wanted me to tell you that she won't be home until late, and Doctor Hammond is in his study. He requested that you go to him immeadiately after you get home."
"Do we have his permission to change into more expendable clothing?"
"Thank you, Boland." The man disappeared, off to finish some business elsewhere. Jo and Archie quickly ascended the stairs, splitting off to go to their rooms, where they would change out of their good school uniforms and into more everyday wear.
Jo changed into a plain white button-up blouse, and a single layer skirt, grateful that she wouldn't have to wear hoop skirts until much later, that is, until she got married, she dreaded the thought of being tied down to someone she didn't have a choice in choosing. Her father would be the one to decide who she would marry. Slipping on a pair of sturdy boots, which would be hidden by the long skirt, she held her arm out for Saada to climb up on, which she did, and exited the room.
In his room, Archie was doing the exact same thing, minus the skirt and Companion. He took off the fine vest, overcoat and shirt, to slip on a pale yellow long-sleeved cotton shirt, buttoned the wrists, and put on a pair of poofy, dark blue pants made out of woven llama fur. A leather vest went over the shirt, and the straps that ran down the right side were snapped in place. Quickly fixing his hair, and taking a deep breath to gather his courage, he joined his sister infront of the door to their father's study.
They shared a nod, and Jo knocked several times, paused for a moment, and then knocked once.
"Come in." A deep baritone voice answered.
Archie twisted the doorknob and pushed the door open. Sitting at the desk was a man that was intimidating yet inviting at the same time. At his feet lay a tiger, basking in the sun pouring in from the windows. Saada jumped onto a bookcase and started to peruse the titles available.
"You asked for us to come after we got home and changed?" Jo began.
"Oh, yes. I wished to speak to the both of you about the ball we will be having in the main hall this Sunday. You are both to attend, no complaints or objections."
Archie grimaced. The dinner balls his father threw were nothing less than mind numbingly boring. "What are we to wear, sir?"
"You'll both be going to the Tailor's tomorrow evening. He and his wife know what to choose."
"Perfect. Now not only do I have to go to a ball, I have to stand in place for hours while the fitter pokes and prods me with needles so that she can get the dress so tight I can't breathe."
"I'm sorry for your pain. Yet, Jo, I must laugh at the ridiculousness of the entire thing."
"Ha ha, very funny."
"Josephine! Were you not listening? I said, I don't want you and Saada walking around on your own after dark anymore, Companions have been going missing lately, and I don't want that to happen to you."
Saada leapt for Jo's shoulder, and clung on, her needle sharp claws making tiny hole in the smooth fabric. "I'm sorry sir, Saada asked me something and I answered her." The patriarch of the Hammond family nodded, knowing what it was like to have another mind linked to yours. "But, sir? Companions going missing, what's happening?"
"It looks like kidnapping. Either way, be careful."
Jo yawned, looking around her sparsely furnished room, a desk, a dresser, a wardrobe and a bedside table, and of course a bed. Those were the only things she needed in the room, so that's all she kept. After all, she wasn't one to waste. It was late, the sky had turned black hours ago, the clock on her bedside table said one a.m. She flipped over underneath her sheets, and then let out a long sigh.
"What's wrong?" Saada asked, her head poking up from her own little bed on the bedside table. Jo looked over to her, and then shook her head. "Nothing." She said out loud.
"It's most definitely not nothing. I don't want to dig deeper, but I will if I have to. I'll never sleep if you keep shifting around. Your bed squeaks."
"Its… Its just, I can't sleep. I have this bad feeling. A really bad feeling, call it instincts if you will." Jo murmured. "Believe me, I'm exhausted. There's nothing more I want than to sleep right now, but I can't." She turned her head to look at the weasel, who's head was tipped to one side as she mulled over what her Keeper had just said.
Suddenly, Saada's head whipped around moments before there was a soft knock at the door. Jo leapt out of bed, as Saada jumped quickly on her shoulder, and crept over to the door, opening it quietly.
Standing in the hall, with his nightclothes on was Archie.
"Archie what are you doing out of bed so late?" Jo reached her arm down to the bedside table while she whispered the query. Saada climbed down her arm and got back into her little bed.
"I had a nightmare, couldn't sleep, I heard voic-," His jaw widened with a yawn. "-es. Can I stay here?" He asked, his large baby blue eyes looking at her so pitifully. He was like a tiny kitten who always got the most treats, because his eyes were so cute. She let out a deep sigh. "Okay, but don't wriggle. I can't sleep either."
She got into bed and held the covers up as Archie crawled into bed next to her, cuddling into her side like a heat seeking missle. She let out a small smile. He was such a sweet boy, and perhaps now with some comfort, she might be able to sleep. Her eyes blinked slowly shut as her mind drifted into the deep wells of sleep.
It was five in the morning when it happened.
Archie, Jo, and Saada were abruptly woken from their sleep by the sound of crashing doors and clicking of a gun being primed. Saada woke with a gun right infront of her head, and Archie was roughly pulled out of bed. The precarious position her Companion was put in stopped any effort to resist in Jo's case. One of the figures in the room grabbed Saada harshly, putting a small muzzle around the weasels mouth. "Hey!" Jo protested, only to fall silent when a gun was shoved in her face.
"Everyone into the main hall." Another figure spoke in a guttural tone. Brother and sister obeyed without hesitation, and allowed themselves to be moved around. In the light of the lamps, Jo drew in a sharp breath. These people weren't bad. They were police officers. But, what were they doing here?
Their parents stood in the center of the hall, their father's tiger and mother's cardinal were both bound. Saada was shoved into Jo's hands, and she held the weasel tightly against her chest.
"Need to breathe, please!" Saada called out, her thoughts sounding breathless. Jo, released her grip, but just barely not wanting to risk the chance of losing her Companion.
The Police Chief of Capital City approached the two adult Hammonds. "Geoffrey and Melissa Hammond, you are being arrested for the kidnapping of Companions, a crime that I may add, is punishable with death!"