Post by augustus farr ✯ d2 - ɢʀɪғғɪɴ on Apr 24, 2023 3:40:04 GMT -5
after a forced resignation letter from quartz muttation zoo, lillifee 'lily' carling found her true passions elsewhere. veterinarian of her class with a master’s degree in gamescraft, she amassed a great amount of funding by herself a year ago and successfully created her own wildlife and mutation research center that moonlights as a community theatre, a kombucha business, and an arena design school, all at once.
Post by augustus farr ✯ d2 - ɢʀɪғғɪɴ on May 4, 2023 4:46:34 GMT -5
A cold room, bright fluorescents.
There is a harshness to the light that she despises, a chemical hoarfrost of brilliance. It makes her feel as if she is in a lab. The many recording devices around them do not help. In the midst of dark, all-seeing eyes and bright, all-vivid light, she is but a little creature pinned to a desk and pried open for dissection. Little butterfly on a petri-dish.
“Lily? Lily, are you with us?” The lady prompts. She is dressed for show: rouged lips, dark eyes, and hair that a dozen pigeons could nest in. Even her words sound made up, her tone refined to a bright timber as she says again, “Lily, doll, are you—”
“—No, I am not,” she says demurely. Smiles a tiny smile with her lips closed, a rabbit’s smile as her mother affectionately calls it. “Sorry. What awful question did you just ask me again?”
That shuts the other up.
Lily feels her mouth part to show teeth.
Lady readjusts. Draws composure back around her like a shield. “I apologize if my questions are, uh, pressing. It’s only because the Capitol is so interested in you. It is not every year we have the honor of a Gamemaker so young.”
Her shoulder rises daintily to shrug. “Why should age be a factor? Personally, I’d advocate for more youth in Hunger Games design. It is quite a nuanced subject.”
Lady, or rather Shelly, the host of Good Morning Panem, she remembers, sucks in her cheeks and nods. It suddenly makes her look like a blowfish. She unleashes a laugh at that, leaning back against the plush seat and crossing her arms. First time Lady - Shelly - has caught her interest. She could feel it fluttering between them, a dove cupped between two imaginary hands.
Lady's - Shelly's - eyebrows arches. She looks at her the way she's been looked at her entire life, like an animal never before seen.
“So, Ms. Carling, what are your thoughts on the two other Gamemakers?”
The dove suffers a heart attack. What a tragedy. “They are fine. I haven’t met them, so I don’t know who they are.” “Astrid Zane has become a household name. What would you say she's like?”
“She is fine. Again: haven't met.”
“Have you met Maddox?”
Lily pauses, listing her head to one side and frowning as Lady - Shelly - does not follow her question with a conclusive punch-line.
“Oh, that wasn’t an attempt at humor. I thought I made myself clear when I said I have not met them.” Does she assume her a liar? If so, that is indeed a wonderful attempt at humor. Lily has not uttered a lie in years. They feel heavy on her tongue, invisible stones in the mouth. And why lie when the truth is as malleable as freshly harvested clay?
Lady - Shelly - clenches her jaw. It reminds her of a hippopotamus and Lily’s smile returns, amused.
“Let’s talk about your accolades then. Graduating at the age of twenty and building your own company. A tremendous achievement.”
“Everyone grows. We all have a seed in our chest. It only needs to be nurtured, fed the stinkiest fertilizers, and it fucking grows!”
A choke is scraped out of Shelly’s throat.
“Are you alright?”
She nods, and her hair wobbles along with the same grace as a melting tiered cake. Lady - Shelly - does not look too hot. “I heard about this rose plague that is ravaging the districts. Perhaps you should take a test.”
“I am fine. We must, however, ask you to refrain from all sorts of vulgarities on Good Morning Panem, Ms. Carling. We make kids-friendly commentary on the Games.”
“But, Panem is a free country.”
“It’s, uh- let’s move on. What is your goal for your company, Ms. Carling? The Lily Sanctuary has made quite an impression.”
“No goals. They are tedious, and charting the future rarely works. The past, present, and future should all be a convergence.”'
“But you must have a vision for it, no?” Lady - Shelly - presses on. She is a cat now, eyes sharp, lips pursed. Lily supposes she is the mouse in this scenario, shy and skittish, but out of all of her talents, gentleness is one she never fully mastered.
“No, I do not,” she answers, smiling again. “I only want all the animals there to roam free. We are hosting kombucha classes soon, too! You must attend.”
Lady’s nose wrinkles. She does not appear to be someone who enjoys kombucha. That is fine. More for those who enjoys it.
“I was only wondering on whether you were worried about a repeat of what happened in Quartz Mutt Emporium. The snakeroots, the death toll. Quite a tragedy.” Oh, now Shelly bares her claws in true reporter style. She goes for jugular unexpectedly - quick and sure. Lily’s lips curve at their edges, her own feline’s grin, as she leans forward and rests her chin on her knuckles.
“What do you suspect happened?” she asks Shelly. That day, of course, remains as clear as spring rain. She was only beginning her shift, dressed in long leather boots because she was on mutt feeding duty, and on her way to the glass domes where they kept the snake-roots, her coworker, friend, rival - Margaux - said: “they aren’t aggressive, see. They say they are, but they are not. It’s all Capitol hearsay.”
Lily had laughed. “I humbly disagree,” she said, shaking her head.
Margaux kept her insistence. Lily, on the other, proved her own conclusions right by opening the hatch to the snake pit as Margaux was cleaning it.
Her eyes gleam at the recollection.
Oh, what sweet victory it is to be vindicated. But Lily knows she couldn’t say that out loud, not when manslaughter is indeed a tiresome charge, so she instead leans back in her seat and smooths the plaited sides of her green skirt. “It’d been proven to be a faulty mechanism in the gate, no?” Shelly asks, disbelief thick in each word, trying to lull her inward.
Lily nods. “Yes, very tragic. Margaux was my dear friend.”
“Indeed. She was also your academic rival, who you routinely quarreled with.”
“Debated. We had great discussions.”
“It’s only an observation and a matter of timing, Ms. Carling. The public cannot help but—”
“The public gets so awfully tangled up when it comes to comparing the brilliance of two academics. It is profoundly upsetting.”
“I only mean to say—”
“The gate mechanism at Quartz Emporium has not been updated for a long time. It was faulty, rusted, and a lot of lives were lost for it to have the upkeep it needed. Margaux’s death, however tragic, was not in vain.”
Shelly gapes at her.
She feels her lips stretch, widening to the edges of near delirium, as she leans closer conspiratorially.
“Have you ever seen a breed of Nakom that could masquerade themselves as leaves? A pack of them, all gathered around a tree, harmless-looking until it’s too late.”
One of Shelly’s brows slowly arch in both question and puzzlement. “No, I—”
“Oh, you simply must. In fact, all the people here should.” Lily looks back at her attendant, makes a coy wink. They nod back knowingly and kneel in front of a large, decorative box. The lid gets tugged open.
“Ms. Carling, what did you—oh dear Ripred! Run! Run, everyone!”
From the very depths and mazes of her being, tinkling laughter fountains out like silver bells swinging in the air, all before it is muffled by the wingbeat of a thousand Nakoms.