Tuesday, 12/17/2250 – By Rebecca Green
It was an art. Each ingredient was time sensitive, had to be brewed just right. Sweat dripped from his brow from the heat of the concoction and the concentration necessary to complete the spells, magic not coming easily for the mage. Koda had been up for the past hour and the clock read a clean 3:30 AM. Technically he wasn’t supposed to be in the potions lab so late, but he had reason to be there and had swiped a key off a janitor.
What was he making? An addictive substance, brought to Earth from Atlas, not unlike cocaine or meth. Except it was magical, which brought a whole new level of high. Made of beetle juice and newts eyes, along with the extract of an illegal worm that he had growing under his bed back in his dorm. He told his roommate it was just a pet of sorts and he was unaware of its true breed. The substance, known as Synthesis based on the fact that it fostered creativity and certain insanity based actions that could be explosive and erratic. But it made the user feel fantastic, feel new again, and those with depression, those that were in a rut, would take it to feel good. Even when they were neurotypical, with repeated use, addiction was inevitable, thanks to the maple leaves he added, reacting with the worm extract.
He needed money to buy his own cigarettes and alcohol. All illegal for him to be doing at the age of seventeen, only a sixth year, but Koda hardly cared about legality. Plus, he just liked money, and he banked on his little business giving him a nice life after he’d graduated. A comfortable life. He was careful about it, anyway, and had a report only in cities along the trainline. Selling directly at the school and in town was much too risky. His clients didn’t even know his name.
His father had taught him how to do it, the only useful thing the ass had ever taught him before he himself was sent to jail. Koda was already quite comfortable with his wealthy grandparents, but he wasn’t able to bank on them giving him any money after he graduated. They hated his guts, so it was unlikely at best.
Even then, Koda had a cigarette in his mouth. It added a certain aroma to the room, mixing with the Synthesis fumes. It wasn’t as addictive or potent as chewing it, the preferred method, while swallowing too much would mean at least a week before he was conscious enough to function again. He was humming quite contentedly, something he would never do while completely stable.
Three-thirty in the morning was the only time he was willing to make his money. No one else was ever up, but today proved to be his unlucky day.
The sound of footsteps, at least, warned him. The dungeons contained hard, cold, concrete floors, and the footsteps would echo from far down the hallway. Koda froze, there was no telling where the footsteps were headed, but he wasn’t about to take the risk. He snatched up the vial of worm extract, shoving it under the counter on a shelf. Beside him was the small water cooler he’d drilled holes into for tubes for burning the leaves and funneling the resulting fumes in. He grabbed it and turned to shove it into a cabinet. Grabbing the flask of beetle juice, he readjusted himself onto the counter with the newt eyes, pouring both into a cauldron. That, at least, would look more legitimate to be in the lab in the first place. There was nothing he could do about the smell, not quick enough as there was a key placed in the door.
A jiggle for a moment, and then a pause. Koda had locked the door behind him, but that didn’t stop the person from pushing the door open and Koda narrowed his eyes at the kid. A shortie, he was clearly a first year.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Koda demanded and the kid froze in place, staring at Koda.
“What are you doing here?” He asked back in astonishment, a certain look of fear crossing his face.
Koda sneered at the boy, “That’s none of your business. You’re the one barging in on me, what do you want?”
“I-I’m making a potion.” The boy held the knob of the door tightly, unsure if he still wanted to enter the room with the rude and rather intimidating sixth year. “I need it.” He didn’t elaborate, it wasn’t something he was particularly proud of, but he needed it and he couldn’t afford to run off with how low of a supply he had. Thanksgiving had taught him a lesson about procrastinating.
Koda turned back to the random mixture he had created, beating it with a pestle. Not the standard equipment for mixing beetlejuice and newt eyes, but he had been using it to crush the newt eyes for his intended project. The stupid first year had caused him to ruin it and he was quite bitter over that lost- it would cost him.
“Well, I’m here now. Scram.”
All at once, Noklie wrinkled his nose and his eyes became a glare. “I have just as much of a right to be here as you do.”
“Well I have special permission. A pass from a teacher for my… project.”
“So do I.” Noklie let the door close behind him as he moved forward to reach into an upper cabinet, having to stand on his toes to reach the ingredients he needed. Glancing at Koda and the jar of newt eyes, he began to approach, “I need some of those.”
Koda snatched the jar away from him, holding it at arm’s length away from the kid. “This is mine. What the fuck are you making anyway? What are those leaves?” They weren’t maple leaves like the ones Koda had bought from a store in town. He’d never seen them before, or the blue liquid that the kid had in his other hand in a clear flask.
The kid’s grip on the flask tightened. “It’s just a potion.” He eluded.
They both jumped when the door opened again, a girl standing in the doorway. She raised an eyebrow at them, “What are you two doing in here? It’s nearly four in the morning.” She quipped in annoyance as she strode into the room, headed directly for the cabinet. “You better have not touched my experiment.”
“What are you doing here? Why is everyone waltzing in on me?” Koda replied, glaring at the girl. Lunette, she was in his year- two years younger than him though, and a total snob if you asked him. Then again, he mostly hated everyone at the school. They were idiots and while she had somehow managed to skip two grades, she grated on his nerves like everyone else.
“I’m finishing up an experiment.” She explained in aggravation, “It’s time sensitive. My aunt gave me a key- what are you even making? Are you adding something else? Beetlejuice and newt eye don’t do much.” At best it could work as a makeshift painkiller on cuts, but it was weak, and could easily be strengthened by the addition of a frog leg. Or the dust of a unicorn horn, but those were illegal to get ahold of.
The boy looked at the mixture, hesitating as he searched for some excuse. He’d just thrown it together to look purposeful, but damn if he knew what it could be used in. Finally he bullshitted it, “Vann told me to make it. Something about a base for something he was doing in class, I don’t fucking know. You can leave and come back later, I was here first.”
Lunette held up the keys she had been given, dangling them. “I have actual permission, I’m not slinking about.” Her voice smug as she raised her nose. “Vann wouldn’t ask you to do that, do you even take potions?”
“Yeah, I do actually.” Even though he barely showed up. He mashed the newt eyes a bit more aggressively, muttering ‘Bitch’ under his breath.
Noklie hedged off to the side, carefully reaching for the jar of eyes that Koda had set down as he turned to glare. Fishing out a couple, he placed them in a graduated cylinder.
Lunette eyed him, but then she turned to open the cabinet. Throwing over her shoulder as she did, “And what are you doing here?”
Noklie halted in his quick movements to pour the newt eyes into the blue liquid. “I’m just making a potion.” He explained.
Lunette suddenly exclaimed, “What the hell is this?” She stared at the cooler sitting on the bottom shelf, smoking. “It’s ruining it!” Distressed as she tugged a tray from the upper shelf, covered in what looked like balls of cream colored clay. Koda shrugged.
“It was there when I got here.”
Lunette dropped the tray on the counter, hands on her hips as she glared at the pan. “Now I’ll have to start all over!” Picking one up, she turned it over in her hand, devastated to feel it was damp, ruining what she had been doing. Holding it up, she wafted it toward her and wrinkled her nose. “God, that stinks. What the hell is that?” Koda didn’t answer, focusing on whatever the fuck his mixture was making.
The red haired girl unceremoniously dropped the ball onto the tray, aggressively dumping it into the disposal can, meant for the chemically sensitive creations that were often created in class. She looked toward the ceiling, before her eyes flickered back to Noklie. “What is that?” She questioned, looking at the leaves that Noklie have begun to crush in a mortar.
Noklie froze, before he answered quickly, “basil.”
Lunette narrowed her eyes, approaching the boy, “That is not basil.” She accused, “That’s-” She picked up one of the leaves, turning it over in her hand and examining it. “It’s custos. What do you need custos for? It’s not very common.”
“What’s custos?” Koda asked, looking up from his pulverized mixture.
“A stabilizing agent- it’s used to keep sensitive solutions from exploding, or contain it at least. Are you planning to blow something up?”
“No!” Noklie instantly defended, “And- yeah it’s custos. I lied, but it’s not anything that concerns you.”
“Yes it does, you’re in my lab.”
“It’s not your lab.”
“It’s more mine than it is yours, what’s that for?” She hadn’t seen something that used those particular ingredients before, “And what’s that liquid?”
Koda eyed the boy, taking a step forward and glaring in an attempt to be menacing. “What is it?” He demanded, “Is it some stupid project like Luna’s?” It was a nickname he’d begun to call her back when they’d had a project in Lit class before, finding it too much work to call her by her full name. She’d been annoyed by it at first, but by the end of them finding common ground in their complaints of being forced to read books, she hadn’t minded as much.
“It’s medicine, okay?” Noklie snapped, “It’s something like a project, but it’s medicine.”
“Are you trying to hold a form or something? Are you a shifter?” Lunette suddenly asked, holding the custos still, “It stabilizes cells, too.” She’d seen it used for some wereanimals to keep them from shifting for a brief period of time. Her aunt didn’t use it, thanks to its tendency to make its user sick for several days and give them a major headache. Usually it was only used in emergencies where they had to remain human.
Noklie flushed, “No.” He lied, “Can I please just get on with this? It’s none of your business. Neither of yours, just leave me alone! I’m allowed to make it, they have it on file.” A flare of anger in his words as he glared at the two of him.
Koda took a step forward, shoving the boy. “Listen you little shit,” Koda hissed at the boy, “I don’t care if it’s not my business. Tell us what it’s for and how you make it, and we’ll leave you alone. No strings attached.” He wasn’t sure why he cared, but he was annoyed that a first year would have the audacity to speak to him like that.
Lunette watched the exchange, well aware that she should probably keep Koda from bullying the first year, but yet she didn’t. She couldn’t help but want to know what the potion was for. Noklie balled his hands into fist as he stepped backward, away from Koda.
“Get away from me.” He snapped once more, “It’s not for you. I need it and you should leave me alone before you get hurt.”
“You think you can hurt me?” Koda laughed cruelly, “That’s a load of crap.” Lunette suddenly took a step forward, nearly level with Koda as she reached to place a hand on his shoulder, calling for his attention.
“C’mon, just tell us what this is about.” She urged the boy, “We’ll leave you alone. We’re not going to hurt you. It’s a stabilizing agent, so you’re trying to stop some reaction, or stabilize atoms. I doubt you’re working with isotopes, what is it?” Koda briefly glanced over at her, pleased that she was backing him up.
Noklie’s eyes became harder as he looked up at her, a certain new intensity in his eyes as he spoke in a deeper, dark tone. “Don’t make promises you have no intention of keeping!”
Koda reached forward, grabbing the kid by the front of his shirt, beginning a threat, but Noklie went on, astonishingly unphased by the grab compared to before as he continued to glare, “You best remove that hand before it gets burned.” He threatened Koda, “You people should learn to leave people the Hell alone. I have a key too, and you don’t, so maybe you should back the fuck off of Noklie before I rip your throat out. ”
Koda didn’t notice, but Lunette did as she exclaimed, “Koda!”
He didn’t move quite in time, fire beginning to develop at Noklie’s feet, and it shot up toward Koda’s arm. Koda hissed as his arm burned, jerking back and stumbling as he ran into Lunette. The girl squealed, falling until she gripped the counter, knuckles white, her eyes wide and frozen with fear. Koda jumped to the side as the fire erupted in a straight line. Lunette could only manage to dip her head down, squeezing her eyes shut as the fire nearly reached her.
“I warned you!”
“What the fuck.” He hissed, “Fuck!” He gripped the burn with his other hand, “What the hell are you? Some kind of freak?”
“Freak?” His voice only became darker, “I’ll give you a hell of a burn you pile of ash!” The tone wasn’t that of a first year and Koda had no idea where it had come from. Lunette would later understand, now knowing exactly what the potion must be for. Keeping the kid from losing it to whatever his other form was, from becoming a whole other person and acting like this. At the moment, Lunette found it impossible to think it through.
Koda glanced back at her, hoping that she’d be doing something useful, but she had quite uselessly frozen in place. He looked at the boy, hopping to the side again as more fire shot out at him- lunging for the cabinet with the intention of taking cover.
“You should have listened! Course you’re weak! Hiding like a child-”
“Luna!” Koda called, trying to snap her out of it.
Noklie followed Koda’s gaze with a glare. “And you! Just standing there, I should burn you too!”
Lunette’s eyes snapped open, staring at the boy in fear, her eyes wide and Koda pushed off the wall to shove her out of the way as more fire shot out. It didn’t spread thanks to the concrete walls, but it was still dangerous and she wasn’t doing anything.
The shove, however, sparked some reaction from her. The girl swiveled around, tearing a cabinet open and rummaging quickly before she grabbed a vial. She turned back toward Noklie, who had diverted his attention back to Koda. She took several steps toward him, before throwing her arm in an arc, covering Noklie with the liquid inside.
Instantly the boy was coughing, falling backwards against the counter that stretched all around the room. He rubbed his eyes furiously, bending his head forward as he felt whoozy.
“Ha!” Koda whooped, relief flooding through him and he grinned back at Lunette, who was covering her mouth with her shirt, “What was that?” He asked eagerly. Lunette didn’t respond right away, only barely seeming to get the words out of her mouth as she held her nose and stared at the boy who was heaving against the counter, sliding to the ground.
“Chloroform. Not- Not a lot.” He blinked at her, wondering where the hell she’d gotten the idea to use chloroform of all things. However, he couldn’t think too long on it. Instead, he was swivelling to where he had stuffed the vials he had hidden into his pockets. Using Luna’s state as a cue for him to leave. He grabbed the cooler unceremoniously, hoping she wouldn’t see that it was his, and hurried for the door.
Only, he halted as the knob began to turn.
“Shit!” He cursed, quickly dropping the cooler and kicking it away from him, just in time too. The door opened and the potions professor stood there, staring at him and rubbing sleep from his eyes.
Marius blinked at the students. Embarrassingly enough, he had a bit of a bad habit of falling asleep in his office whilst grading papers. That day had been no exception, but perhaps it was a good thing. He’d awoken only moments before due to the ruckus and it was then that he could smell the trouble. Smoke, first of all, and then the chloroform. He quickly raised a hand to waft the fumes away from his nose. There was another smell, but he couldn’t quite place it. It reminded him of maple syrup.
“What in the world are you doing?” He demanded, peering most of all at Koda. The kid was in his potions class, but god knew that he was a trouble maker. Marius was more surprised at the other two in the room. Noklie, a reasonable and quiet first year, looked like he was about to throw up from where he sat on the floor. Then there was Lunette- one of Marius’s best students, she was in his research class a year ahead of the typical potions track. She was the only one he would expect to be there, given her experiments that kept her up at odd hours.
Koda looked back at Lunette and the girl turned to stare wide eyed at Marius, still holding the chloroform vial. She held it tight, but she was quickly jumping to answer the man, taking a deep breath only to remember the air was filled with chloroform. She’d deal with the resulting migraine later.
“I was working on that experiment to work on the configuration of Aspirin and get rid of the headache symptoms.” Lunette began, nodding toward the balls of crushed up aspirin combined with essence of lavender and kappa blood. “Koda and Noklie were here helping me out and we were trying to see if we could add basil to get rid of the symptoms. But when Koda tried to light us a fire to ready the basil, he accidentally hit Noklie. I panicked and grabbed the first thing I could to try and put it out, which happened to be chloroform.” She rattled off the excuse in seconds, and it was a bit of a stretch – why would she have Koda and Noklie help her of all people? – but she was unwilling to explain the truth. There was no telling if she’d be in trouble for interrogating the boy, or throwing chloroform in his face.
Koda was staring at her, as was Professor Vann for that matter, both a bit incredulous at her story. Koda had no idea how she’d come up with it, or how she seemed dead serious. She held up the vial to accentuate her point and Vann sighed.
“I don’t know what really happened,” He began, knowing Lunette well enough that she’d never work with pairs. Especially with a trouble maker like Koda, or a first year like Noklie. Noklie wasn’t bad at potions, but he was still a first year. And Koda was good when he applied himself, but he certainly wouldn’t be of any use to Lunette, nor did he believe she’d ask him. “But even if I gave you permission, I did not give these two.” He glanced over at Koda first, and then at the boy on the ground. “Are you alright?”
Noklie rubbed his eyes, squinting up at the professor. “Y-Yeah.” He coughed, “I think… I did have permission though, I have a note from Professor Blackhall.” As he spoke, he began to dig into his pockets, pulling out a crinkled piece of paper that Marius stepped forward to take.
“Hmm… Yes, you do seem to have permission, I remember he mentioned this to me, but I’m sure he didn’t mean at four in the morning.” He looked up at Koda, “And what are you actually doing here?”
Koda shrugged, “I was helping Luna.” It seemed best to stick with that story, despite Noklie ditching them. Quickly, Lunette found herself speaking up to side with him.
“Yeah, I’m sorry I lied about Noklie, I didn’t know he had permission and didn’t want him to get in trouble. But I did ask Koda, we’ve done a couple projects together.” By a couple she meant the one literature project, but that was close enough.
Marius squinted at her, trying to decide just how much bullshit he’d believe for the day. It was still early and he wasn’t willing to put in the effort to figure out what happened. They all seemed to be alright, barring the headaches. “Alright. Just clean up in here and head back to your dorms… Come on, get going. I’ll be in my office and if I hear any trouble, you’re all getting detention.”
“Yes sir!” Lunette replied, Koda parroting her while Noklie struggled to his feet, rubbing his eyes still. Marius turned to him,
“You head to bed, they can clean up themselves.” Noklie nodded, happy to take the opportunity to stand, grabbing the custos and the mixture of newt eyes and blue liquid as he sped out the door. Marius gave Lunette and Koda one last long look before closing the door behind him as well.
Koda grinned at Lunette, “Nice one.”
She shrugged, “He didn’t believe me.”
“But he didn’t get us in trouble.” He leaned against the counter as Lunette grabbed a broom from the corner, quickly sweeping up the ashes.
She glanced up to see him leaning, and quickly pointed toward the vial. “Clean that in the sink, be careful it doesn’t get on you.”
Koda wrinkled his nose, considering complaining before grudgingly doing as he was told.
“What were you doing in here though?”
“Nothing.” Koda replied innocently, Lunette paused in her sweeping to eye him, her gaze flickering toward the cooler that he had moved, and then to his bulging pockets.
“So that’s what ruined my project.” She sniffed, “What is it?”
“It’s just a project of my own. I don’t exactly have permission, so I tried to hide it. I didn’t know it would ruin yours.” He shrugged, he wasn’t about to tell the niece of a professor that he was making an illegal magical drug.
“What does it do?”
“It uh…” Koda hesitated, “…just stuff. It’s not important.”
Lunette put her hands on her hips, humming a ‘uh-huh’ before marching over to the cooler and tugging the lid off and immediately coughing at the fumes. “What the hell-” She began, only to have the cooler ripped from her hands, the liquid within sloshing about. Koda glared at her once more.
“Don’t just touch it!” He complained, “It’s sensitive- and it’s probably ruined anyway, I was supposed to stir it five minutes ago.” Taking it, he headed for the sink, tipping the cooler and pouring it into the drain, against Lunette’s protests.
“Really?” She exclaimed, “C’mon, what was it?” Her voice insistent as she tried to get him to tell her, nearly begging just to know.
“Nothing!” He repeated.
Lunette groaned, “It can’t be that bad. What’s it gunna take?”
Koda paused, looking back at her with a grin, “You could make-out with me?” He knew she wouldn’t take the bait, and he wouldn’t actually tell her anyway. But hey, she was hot even if she was annoying as hell. Lunette predictably scoffed,
“Wow, okay. That’s disgusting.” She dropped the broom back in the corner, and shuffled the pan her project had been rested on in the sink.
“Hey, you asked.”
Lunette wrinkled her nose, but didn’t reply as she picked up a couple of ingredients – winter break was almost there and she planned to do some work at home – and stuffed them into a bag. Speaking only as she was headed for the door, “Whatever. I’m going back to my dorm. Stick around if you really want to.”
Koda remained leaned against the counter, lifting one hand as he called, “Bye Luna!”
Lunette glanced back long enough to raise an eyebrow, before answering back, “Bye Koda.” And heading out the door.