A couple hours later David nudges Josette for lunch. She gets up, uses the bathroom, and follows the others through the hallway to the dining hall.
"How was the tour?"
"Good, except for the morons sneering about fantasy books." David rolls his eyes. "Yeah, what the fuck did he expect would be signed at a comic book store. . .war and peace?"
"In the original Russian." Alexander snorts.
She detours to the front room. "Expect some swearing from Granda in the next couple of databursts. Some asshole who doesn't like how he's doing things is suing to get the school shut down immediately."
"He'll show them." one of the teachers nearby snorts.
"Yep. They had all these plans for the future. . .what are they going to do when the rug is yanked out from under them. . .hmmmm?"
"What they were planning to do anyway?" President Bartlett snorts. "And of course they're wailing about that?"
"Yep, laying on the floor kicking his heels fit about it not being fair. How can they continue on with their plans? Because god knows the school is only a portion of Granda's businesses. One snag isn't going to stop everything."
"Yep, just like one business closing here for a while doesn't bring everything else down to a grinding halt."
"Started print yesterday. Six this year and six next year with hopefully more ready to print a couple years after that."
"And your old books?"
"Ten of the last eighteen debuted."
"Me Granda, the boys Mom. I go last this year."
"Your special orders?"
"We took in the first batch when we went out after Thanksgiving."
"Sooo, when do you think Doc and the others are going to start dropping hints about your books?"
"Tooo laaa-ate." David says in a sing-song voice in the back room.
Professor Druid giggles. "Yeeessss, they debut in another year out there my time. And we've got a show next year. I was having students and teachers coming up to me asking if I was the same Josette Takahawa for stuff I hadn't even done yet. 'Why didn't you tell us you were an author? You never asked?' My life is fucking weird."
Her loving family sniggers at her hangdog look.
"Anyway, I've got four months worth of stuff to sort through over the next few days."
"How long until you're in the same time period?"
"About four years give or take a few months."
It takes about three days to get everything put away and she sniggers at Calvin's choice words about foolish people when the lawsuit is filed. She heads off to the first planet to plant the raised beds, coming back and stiffening.
"Storm?" David asks, grabbing his PADD.
"Bad one, three weeks snow and nearly as many to dig out. Coming in in a couple nights." Alexander heads downstairs to add empty batteries to the rack for charging as David sends out the notice. The triple beep has everybody who can looking at their PADDS and those who can making the announcement to those who can't.
The commercial replicator is turned on and pallets of wood start appearing, people ducking in when they can and buying a few armfuls as part of their storm supplies.
"That takes care of our overstock of candles." One of the women sighs. "When the storm blows over we'll have to ask Josette to bring out more supplies for us." Her companion nods as they shut the building up until after the storm.
The storm finally blows over and everybody is busy digging out as Josette heads to Archimedes for her tests.
"How is Haven?"
"We're digging out but that allowed me to slam out the classes on Granda's system. David's pouting but he's over a year into his degree now.
"I'm going to be nine classes into the last year for the first comics degree this semester and I'm going to be two years into the tv degree. Susan and CJ are looking at degrees since they're finishing theirs this year."
"Your comic degree?"
"Is actually one of seven, I've already signed up for the second one." Dr. Cross chuckles. "David's looking to pick up a second degree when this one is finished."
"I am so glad calmer heads prevailed and all this wasn't just tossed aside as it was in our world. Did the storm delay planting on the first planet?"
"No, I'd just come back when I felt the storm. I'll go off to green pick tomatoes and peppers tomorrow."
Josette slumps onto a couch the next day.
"Everything that didn't sell is in the stasis unit." Josette yawns. "Tomorrow I'm heading off to pick up the supplies for the school and drop off the recycling. I might stay out there a couple days. The last of the orders from the Great Britain supplier should be in and they've got a sale at a supplier in Vegas."
"Money, money, money." David chants.
"More getting to see some shows and whatnot."
Josette leans between Principal Madison and Professor Druid the next day. "Dropped off the supplies at the cooking school, they've got the suggestions on what to pack first pinned up everywhere." Professor Druid chuckles and nods. She looks at Frances and Elaine. "I already sent out the announcement but the supplier that I ordered from from Great Britain is opening a site in the states, they're having a special grand opening sale."
"We're in." Principal Madison makes a sound like a hit to his wallet and everybody chuckles.
"Did you talk to Madison?"
"I'm still on the tour, she'll talk to me when I go out after finals."
After lunch Josette starts replicating supplies for three more comic book classes, putting them upstairs after putting away everything from the last six classes.
The weather starts getting warmer several weeks later and windows are opened to start airing out rooms. David moves the last of the books from his classes to the building and looks at the partial shelves of DVDs.
"I am not taking classes this summer." Josette makes a 'poor boy' noise and pats him on the shoulder in a there there gesture and gets flipped off with a grin. "You only took classes last summer because Dr. Blake threatened to beat your fool ass like a rug." David sniggers.
"How are you on your degrees?"
"Lack three of finishing the comic book degree and I'm two years into the other one."
"You'll finish it this summer."
"Yes, and this is the first of seven. And yes, I've already signed up for the second one. The degrees bring us up to the comic code that nearly destroyed the industry. That's about twelve degrees since it's from multiple sources."
"Just like people were up in arms about music lyrics." Alan says as he comes into the room behind them.
"Exactly, there's always going to be people sticking their noses in none of their business because they think they're better than everybody else in the world."
Calvin smiles as the familiar lights of the tesseract appear and students and employees start walking out into the parking lot of the school.
Madison waves Josette into her office. "Okay, so we're now in the same time period, how was the tour?"
"Long but good. I got a lot of pictures and listened to some fools who were whining about 'fantasy' books being sold in a comic book store." Madison rolls her eyes. "Always going to be mental midgets who open their mouth only to change feet. What the hell they were doing at a comic book store in the first place they probably don't know."
Several weeks later the tesseract opens on Haven and everybody starts walking through, students heading to the auditorium to have their bags checked just as a matter of habit, they've all been there long enough to know not to bring anything back they shouldn't. Josette puts up the latest pictures of the city-ship as she's delivering everything, flying back to the dorm.
"Fucking idiots." Pat is saying.
"What do you expect from short-sighted morons." David snorts. "Ahhh, the buildings in the news."
"Yep. Morons didn't want large buildings going in there because they're hateful bitches then whine when the business in the community that would have come from the same buildings didn't magically appear anyway. Or the tax money the city council was rubbing their hands together in glee over.
"So now they're whining about their taxes going up to make up for the shortfall and tried suing to force them to buy the land and put up the same buildings. . .'welll, we'll let you have them now."
"I'm glad they went somewhere else, those assholes deserve what they're getting. Both higher taxes and the ridicule and scorn of everybody else."
"Always going to be somebody making trouble for everybody else trying to make themselves feel superior." Josette says as she comes in. The others sigh and nod.
A couple days later Josette starts replicating the supplies for the last three classes for the first degree, three classes to start the second degree, and to start the second year for her tv degree. Everything goes upstairs, Pat moaning when she looks at the full tables.
"Your other classes?"
"I'm nowhere near finishing any of the others, I'm only taking fourteen classes, one to finish the second year for a degree and the eight I was taking on the school computer this spring."
"Did you start any new degrees? Beyond this one." Pat drawls.
"Two, the Mechanical Engineering degree from MIT and starting the five degree set on plane crashes from the history school."
"Are you close to finishing any? Besides this one."
"Next year, I'll have the first of the subs in war degrees done but there's three more degrees."
The next day they fly back off to Calvin's Earth, coming back an hour later talking about the new supplier, checking the order they had placed, and making a list of what to order next. Josette delivers their purchases and flies back to the dorm.
"The others put in a big order?"
"Yep, Principal Madison's going to feel the pinch to his wallet again." Everybody snickers. "Not to be greedy but . . ."
"We've got a lot of money in the school's account on Earth, more than enough that if we never reopened we'd be good for couple hundred years worth of supplies like we're getting in now. And we've still got twelve years of tuition and whatnot to go into the account. That includes the dual education money too, everything but Oxford and Cambridge." The others nod in satisfaction.
"How is the colony dimension coming along?"
"Good, they've got their homes built and after a winter in them are starting on improvements they need. They caulked the logs to keep out breezes after the first storm and might end up buying the panels to put on the walls for added insulation. Even if they don't buy the solar panels in the future."
"I hope they have floors, I know some were bare dirt floors but that would be miserable cold in the winter." Pat says. The others nod. "Damn linoleum is cold on bare feet, bare ground in the middle of winter would be worse. I hope they have the well pipes protected."
"I'd have it in a lean-to attached to the house." Monk says, coming out of headquarters. Everybody nods again.
"Becka has a well house around hers with a heater to keep it from freezing in the winter. She has a sink and one of those old wooden tubs in her porch but she has to shut off water to those in the winter since while it's enclosed, it's not heated." Pat nods.
The first crops start coming in and everybody's busy canning, drying, or storing everything.
"Is the mushroom building open this year?" Bethany asks, leaning in the doorway from Headquarters.
"Yeah, they were inoculating the spores when I walked through from smashing glass." Josette says. "I'm going out to grow mushrooms on the first planet in a couple days."
She comes back from the first planet after selling the mushrooms to the others, what's left going in stasis. It's a pouring piss from a boot rain that had Josette putting up a shield as she'd flown, the others sniggering as she flies through the door Alan holds open for her.
"Sell a lot?"
"A good bit, everything else is in stasis for us until I plant again." Heading upstairs she looks in the library, finding one of her other selves in the middle of a class. Down the hall to her workroom she goes eeny meany miney mo and grabs a kit from the quilting box to start. Laying out everything on the table she goes in the other room for fabric for the back and cuts batting off the roll. Copying the instructions she pins a set to the corkboard and cuts out duplicate pieces from plastic after she brings up another box. She'd emptied a pallet with this box and puts it on the pile to take back.
"Yeah?" She looks up at Pat in the doorway.
"When is the boys show?"
"Next week, I gotta take the special orders to the ship in a couple days. The boys are getting crowded again."
"Are you taking back stuff from the large special order?"
"Yep, as well as our regular special orders. Which seems to be finally slowing down."
Josette leans back on the couch as the door opens in the rooms and she grins at Professor Xavier.
"The boys are with Dexter talking with the group that have us the big special order. David and Alan are shopping for socks and underwear, the girls are at a special fashion show."
"And you flatly refused to go?"
"Not like they have anything in my size." She snorts. "I had a meeting with M'Lynn anyway."
"We started printing twelve of the new ones this year but were delayed by a major storm so we'll only print four books this year. By the time the last ones are done we should be reprinting some of the older books. Either that or some of my fiction."
"Settling, by the time you guys come out for the Lights Festival they should not have anybody under the age of seven, at least six and a half. Some fool tried suing to force the school to shut down because he didn't like their plans for the future. If the school was going to shut down what would they do?"
"Same thing they already planned because the school isn't the be all and end all for Calvin?" James asks, coming into the room.
"Exactly, he whined like a baby when the judge told him to grow up and stop being a fool."
"Those type can't stop being a fool." Mary says.
"Exactly." Josette rolls her eyes. "It is your god given right to make a fool out of yourself but some people abuse the privilege." Clarinda sniggers. "So did Clark and the others take your books to an agent there?"
"Yes and they debut my senior year out there, I knew it was coming because the students and teachers would come up to me with one of the books and ask 'Is this you? Why didn't you tell us you were an author? Ummm, you never asked?' I actually talked to an agent when we went out last year."
"How much longer will the school be open?"
"We're planning on twelve more years, not counting this one. The cooking school teachers are leaving this year, the student numbers should start going down and in about three more years when the second batch of teachers and employees head home we should have no new students."
David makes a buzzing sound like a wrong answer on a game show.
"Nope, Calvin and Principal Madison are talking less than that. He's also figured they'll be closing earlier than expected." Josette does the math and nods. "Four years is about six and a half on Earth, so by the time this group of teachers leaves there won't be any children younger than nine on Earth."
"Closer to ten." David says. "If we have a third batch of teachers it might only be for a year. They're going to talk with the teachers and employees about staying out until the school closes."
"From what some of the others said they were expecting it." Alan says as he comes into the room.
Later that afternoon when they return to Haven Josette slides into Principal Madison's office, getting a nod as she repeats what David had said. "I was going to talk to you this afternoon when Dad arrives. We're already seeing more students graduating than are enrolling. Any other time our figures would have been right on the money but this time there seems to have been fewer births longer before Earth hit the plateau."
Calvin nods when he arrives and the two men head to the auditorium where the teachers and employees are waiting after dinner.
"We've already talked, the schools are getting less students than usual for a zero-population period and the schools going to be closing earlier. . .right?"
"Yes, we're looking at seven additional years instead of twelve."
"Damn, I knew we were getting less students but not that it was that bad."
"In two more years Haven time there shouldn't be any students under the age of ten left on Earth."
"With six and a half years to four on Haven that will have everybody through school by the time the second group of employees was ready to go home."
"If not it would only be a year after that. . .two at the most to get a fifth grade student who enrolled this year or next through high school. And before you ask. . .no there are no fifth grade students this year. It's high school students and they're all dual-enrollment."
"Okay, show of hands. Who needs to head home in two or three years?" Everybody looks around. "I think that's your answer Calvin. We're staying until the end. We all know we'll have jobs waiting on us when we finally get back to Earth."
"I'll make the arrangements for your mortgages or rents to continue to be paid." Calvin chuckles as the meeting breaks up.
"We've got good people." Principal Madison says.
"That we do, your employees didn't think anything of picking up and moving to another planet, mine don't think anything about staying an extra five or six years to see the last of the students through school."
"Is it just our schools not seeing students in a grade?"
"No, there's multiple schools around the world that are looking at 'whoa, where's the next grade?' even beyond the lack of students starting their classes. Where there are students they're seeing smaller than normal class sizes."
Josette repeats the talk when she gets back to the dorm, the others shaking their heads. "How did the . . ."
"numbers go so wrong? Less younger students. We have no fifth year students enrolled for next year. Granda just said it's not just parents not wanting to send their kids off, other schools are seeing years where there are no students beyond the kids starting school. Where there are students they're seeing smaller than normal class sizes."
"Not that that's a bad thing." Anna snorts. "So only high school students enrolling for the next three years?"
"Looks that way. And all the newcomers are dual-enrollment. Now Christmas?"
"Next week. Granda's heading back to Earth after dinner."
"Ditto. I'll have them all in by the Harvest Festival though."
"Seven more years. It doesn't seem possible."
"Are you going out for midterms?"
"No, I'll be picking everything up while we're gone."
Principal Madison makes the announcement at dinner, students stopping what they're doing and staring at him. The news quickly is sent out to the others who aren't eating right then.
Calvin then stands up. "Students, I have a special treat for everybody. I'm sure you've all heard of the hit musical Hamilton. Thanks to the producer, we were allowed to tape one of the shows. That has been put on the server and you will be allowed to watch it. ..but you've also got questions you'll need to answer and there will be a discussion in your classes." Moans from the tables around them and on the screens. In the back room everybody sniggers. "And yes, students in the other school also have the same questions when they watch it."
David opens the tesseract when they arrive on Earth, students and employees walking through to be met by family and friends. The news of the school closing early is on everybody's lips as Josette fills containers in the office and heads to the manor.
"While I'm here actually, this keeps us from having to make a second trip out."
"Expect long, long, long lines."
"How many books?"
"Nearly twenty five thousand." Marcus says a couple days after the show. Josette is inhaling a mug of coffee and it's David that asked.
"I was signing all night and into the morning." Josette says. "I know the owner of the gallery wanted to go home but there were too many people still waiting."
Marcus snorts. "She made a number of sales after the gallery would otherwise have closed so she's not complaining too loudly."
Several weeks later the students and employees walk through the tesseract as the Josette that had been on an offworld harvest lands her ship. David opens the tesseract and they walk off the ship as Josette starts bringing out food as well as the containers of supplies she'd picked up.
"Is that everything?" Anna asks when both of them return to the dorm.
"For today." they say in unison while merging with the Josette who'd been on Haven.
Doc and the others shake their heads when they come out for the Harvest Festival and hear the news.
"How are you doing?"
"We're dealing with it. It's hard to think how long we've been open, it will be nearly 45 years when the last of the students graduate. We knew it was happening but not this quickly."
"Josette, are you taking out belongings?"
"Yes, I'm running out and dropping them off when I pick up the mail."
Jane looks over as Josette appears in the doorway, waving a hand and piles appearing. She nods as she gets the files. She points towards the other room and Josette nods, grabbing the mail carts and heading off.
"Are we going to be in the same time period soon?"
"Yeah, we're leaving . .. tomorrow I think." Josette checks her PADD. "Yeah, tomorrow. Jane was at the school getting everything ready for the students to return in a couple days.
After the Festival Josette heads off to pick up the students.
"Is that everybody?"
"Yep. A good number for one grade but . .."
"Not the numbers we've been getting. But I know other schools are in the same boat."
"Do we have empty dorms yet?"
"No, but everybody who wants a private room has one."
"Which since the students are taking basically eight years of classes in four isn't a bad thing in their minds."
"Nope, and they're paying more for the privilege." Joyce snorts. Josette sniggers and heads to the replicator, getting her supplies for the classes.
"How far are you Josette?"
"Going to be three years in one and three classes into the second year on the other. David should be two years into his when he's done."
Josette finally finishes replicating all the supplies for their classes and heads back to the dorm, putting everything in the library.
"Thank you Josette. Still planning on getting the stuff for three more classes after midterms?"
"Probably. I'll see how far I'm into the other classes then."
"This is a dumb question but what's going to become of the school library?"
"Monica's still going to be running it, it's going to be a private library for the school employees until the school reopens. We're still going to be getting shipments, even if I have to go to Vegas to pay for them." The others snigger.
Midterms Josette takes the last of the containers to the school.
"Is this everything?"
"But what the students and cooking school teachers are bringing back with them after Thanksgiving." Josette's eyes grow dark a second. "We knew it was coming." Jane nods and pats her shoulder. "I've lived through this three times before now, we will get through this."
"I know. . .and the sad damn part is this isn't the first time the school's closed because we'd be graduating the last of the students. Anyway, to get the hell away from morbid moods. . .I'm going to be down for at least a week to talk to Madison and the others about another book tour." Jane snickers at Josette's hangdog look. "Yeah. This one looks to be overseas."
Three weeks later her time Josette settles on the couch in the dorm.
"How long were you gone?"
"Three weeks, talked to Madison, Joanne, and Jessica about a tour since the books are being reprinted in different languages, hit a number of drop-off sites to make a little extra money." She looks out. "Are we expecting rain?"
"Not according to the weather satellite but it wouldn't be the first time you caught a storm coming in before they did." Alan says. "We need rain anyway."
"Otherwise we'll have to water everything. And we need to check the cisterns before then." Susan says, coming out of the storeroom with a package of toilet paper.
"They need filling, I was looking at them a couple days ago." David says from the stairs.
"I filled them yesterday." Josette says, looking over the back of the couch at them. The others look at her. "I was out and got both the Kent farms and Wayne Manors, both Headquarters, plus Mom and Dad's and Tim's farm."
"How are you on the degree for clocks?"
"Finish the second degree of the history of clocks next year and then we start the hands-on classes."
The next couple of months pass quickly, the crops are coming in and Josette heads off to Archimedes to take her finals. The first planet raised beds are picked and the plants tilled under for two years before she heads off to sell the tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. The last of the recycling is picked up on the other planets for the year and after Thanksgiving students, employees, and the returning cooking school teachers walk through the tesseract.
"Josette, are you going to clean the cooking school buildings and apartments?" Jane asks.
"Yeah, if we find anything I'll bring it back to the lost and found. We'll be checking the furniture and the mattresses will probably need replacing. That way the apartments can be used for a late class and people don't feel like traveling. I don't see many needing it with the tesseract links but the option's there for them." Calvin nods in satisfaction. "Probably need painting too."
"And carpets replaced." David says.
"Oh definitely after thirty years." Calvin says. "Even with cleaning them routinely they wear out. We've got to work on our dorms here when the school closes. Do you have any empty floors yet?"
"No, but we will next year unless more of the high school students want their own rooms."
A few weeks later they return to Haven, the students walking to the auditorium as Josette delivers containers.
"Are any of the orders from the supplier in?"
"No, we're expecting them next spring."
They head to the other dimensions the next day, Josette busy with book signings and tours that would have been happening while she was back at the Tower the summer between her graduation from university and starting grad school.
Back at the dorm a couple months later for them they start unpacking, Josette settling on the floor in the Albatross Nest.
"Josette, how delayed are your books going to be?"
"First semester year after next now, but that isn't any hardship since we're going to start reprinting some of the older quilting books after that." The others nod in satisfaction. "We can take a break from those when I have new books ready to go."
"How many books to go?"
"I have six books of the last eighteen yet to debut over there."
Agatha whistles. "I remember the backlog of books."
"What happens when you debut two a year." Josette shrugs.
"Changing the subject, how is construction going on the city-ship?"
"Good." Josette puts the latest pictures up on the screen in the building, the others looking at it and nodding in satisfaction.
"Takes a while to build a city but that's what this is going to be."
"Any new quilts?"
"Eight." Josette brings them out and they look them over.
"I got the three nearly finished and four more started. They'll sell just as well as the others at the shows, I was signing all night after the show and into the morning when we were off for Christmas with the students."
"I can't believe people are that . . ."
"Foolish, stupid. . . any of a dozen other rude words to buy books they'll probably never use? Oh yes, I once said out loud I could put out a book of baby babble and they'd line up to buy it because it was at the shows." Agatha nods frantically, cackling too hard to say anything. "Yeah, that was everybody else's reaction because they know it's the damn truth. I know everybody here will actually read the books they buy, not put them on a damn shelf as a status symbol."
"Are we getting the books Principal Madison and President Bartlett are writing?"
"Yes, they're going to be printed here before the old books are reprinted."
"Are we going to have any more cookbooks?" Somebody asks.
"They're working on them."
"What's happening with the buildings?"
"Assyrian's taking them over for their cooking classes after we give them a good scrubbing." Josette says. "The apartments are going to be used for people taking late classes. Yeah I know with the tesseract links it's only a few minutes to get home but we'll have them there for that option."
Josette puts the cookies and kits away when she returns home, finding the others cutting the plastic on new pallets of yarn. Susan looks up from finishing filling the last tote. "Pat wants you to bring out some stuff for her."
"I'll go right now then."
Josette brings out stuff for Pat, moving now empty containers to the ship to take back before joining the others.
"Get everything done Pat needed?"
"And moved the now empty containers to the ship."
"Double what we had been getting since the school is closing early. We're going to have containers coming out our ears until everything is put away. Granda's already doubling all the commercial freezers. . .including ours."
"Yes, two are going up next year. And ours is going to be enlarged again." The others shake their heads but nod as they walk into the dining hall. Josette is waved to the front room.
"Josette, can you . . ."
"I already told Joyce I'd help her run the replicators when the students start getting their books for their first class. The twins are going to be running them to her and taking the receipts back to me. I already brought out boxes of bags to put in the room with me."
"Thank you and thank the twins. Even at the students having days they can pick up their books and supplies, it's going to be a lot of work."
The others begin coming out for the Lights Festival, Calvin sighing at the long lines. Though they're moving faster than he expected.
"Josette's running the replicators and the twins are running the bags of supplies to Joyce and taking the receipts to Josette." David says. "With all the new students in dual enrollment plus the older students, they've got days to come in and get their supplies." Calvin nods in satisfaction.
Josette and the twins slide into their seats in the dining hall that night.
"Is this everybody?"
"Three more days."
The last day Joyce sighs in relief as the last student heads off with the books for their first two classes of the semester. "Thank you girls, I never would have been able to handle all this on my own."
Josette slides into her usual seat at in the board room. "Did Granda get all the buildings enlarged he wanted?"
"No, he's coming out before the Harvest Festival to get the others. Did he talk to you about the orders?"
"Yes, they're doubling since the school's closing early. We're going to have containers coming out of our ears by the time everything's said and done." President Bartlett chuckles but nods.
"Not quite that bad but if we don't keep on top of emptying the containers and putting them on the ships to return it will be."
"I'll deliver everything in the winter, easier to leave them on the ship." The others nod.
"How are you in your classes?"
"I'm finishing the tv degree this summer and I'll probably be finishing the other one this fall."
"I understand that's the second of seven for the set?"
"Yes, this is timely comics. . .which will be marvel in the future. I'll start one for the national comics. .. which will be DC comics after that. There's another set for the other smaller comics."
"And the brouhaha with people up in arms about the violence in comics?"
"Yes, that's an even dozen because it deals with all the comics. Just like there's people who were up in arms about video games, music. . .you name it there's an old biddy with nothing better to do than decry about protecting the sanctity of childhood from the violence. Same way they bleat about the people who went out and shot somebody, they're the damn victim instead of making them take responsibility for their own actions."
"I blame coddling parents there, for every parent who tells a child you have a serious disease that you have to take responsibility for, there's a dozen who'd rather the world bent backwards to take care of him. How dare students be in their classes learning, how dare people be watching a movie in the theater. . ."
"Anytime anybody acts out. . .'ohhhh, I'm a victim of my disease, you can't blame me for that'."
"So how many degrees are you looking at?"
"All of them?" David and Doc say dryly and nearly in unison. Josette calls them annoying men in Kryptonese.
"Okay, with Josette taking care of the containers in the winter and maintenance concentrating on stuff that can be quickly put in buildings, the containers shouldn't pile up too badly. Now, the cooking school building?"
"We cleaned it before the others came out, they've looked over both and 'waved' it for Assyrian just like we waved the dining halls, school buildings, and dorms. When the school closes we'll do the *major* cleaning and whatnot needed." The others nod as the meeting breaks up. Josette stops to the bakery before returning the the dorm, finding her other selves taking classes, working on quilts, working on stuff for shows, or in the woodworking building.
The next few weeks pass quickly as everybody settles into the rhythm of winter classes, spending a few hours on the island or first planet to get some sunshine and warmth in their old bones.
"Are you planting the raised beds?" Alan says as he finds her looking at the beds.
"Purple Krim and cayenne peppers, both that I don't pick green." He nods and helps her fill the watering system.
The crops in the growing area are coming in and Josette looks at the full shelves. "Are we picking on the islands?"
"Yes, it needs it."
Josette looks at the bushels of oranges and bags filled with cacao and coffee beans a couple weeks later before she heads to the first testing week on Haven. Sheriff Carter is finishing the first year for his latest doctorate and shaking his head as he thinks that if anybody had said he'd be a doctor three times over back when he first moved to Eureka. . .
"Oh I know, when I remember telling Doc that my twenties was old to be starting a doctorate."
"Or you didn't have the temperament to be a medical doctor." Dr. Cross says with a chuckle.
"Yes, now I really am Dr. Takahawa." She sighs. Shaking her head as the others laugh. Dr. Stark looks at his mate.
"Oh no, nope, nu-uh, no way, no how. And in case I forgot to mention it . . .fucking hell no."
"You should have somebody in the sheriff's office who can render first aid."
"So hire somebody on each shift. . .beyond me going to med school."
Josette chuckles as the argument goes on and Vincent puts down plates in front of everybody. "Vincent I'm growing Purple Krim tomatoes and cayenne peppers on the first planet. I'll send out the message when I'm picking them."
"Thank you Josette, I'd hoped you'd plant both soon." Vincent smiles.
The next couple of weeks pass quickly and Josette finishes her midterms, picking up and dropping off recycling on various planets before she heads to the school. Looking at the containers she fills everything and drops the totals on Jane's desk since she's on the phone. Calvin's door is shut and she grabs the mail and supplies for the graduating students, picking up the supplies and heading back to Haven. Looking over the inventory she starts opening containers and moving everything to various buildings, Principal Madison nodding as maintenance thanks her.
"Is that everything Josette?" Principal Madison asks an hour later.
"Yes." Josette's voice says next to them though she's still on the ship. "Everything's in the buildings, maintenance can move it to where it's needed by everybody over the next few days. The mail is in the office along with the supplies for the graduating students."
On the ship she merges with the ten other selves that had been moving everything and flies back to the dorm.
"Get everything delivered?" David asks as she comes in for a landing after flying through the door Abby had held open.
"Yep, the empty containers are on the ship and Principal Madison is going to go over the list of what's in the containers to see if any of it can go in the buildings to be taken back in a couple months."
"Rather than stacking more on top of them and bringing stuff out as it's needed."
Josette snorts as she reads the databurst a couple days later. "Hey guys, celebritwits are suing to be allowed on the first trip into outer space on the city-ship. Because it should be a party. . .not anything serious."
Susan moans as she grabs her PADD. "They really said that. What a bunch of morons."
"I'm sure the judge will tell them to grow the hell up."
"But it's a city." Josette mock-whines. "What do you mean there's no paparazzi, night clubs, hotels, and bars? How can people live like that?" She reads further down and snorts. "Oh it's her. . .figures. She must not be able to sell enough books advertising them herself so she's looking for more publicity."
"And of course she'll write a tell-all book about her harrowing journey through space." David snorts. "Because a day without frying what few brain cells she has left is just awful for the poor dear. Thank god her stupidity won't breed." In the doorway Principal Madison snickers. "Josette, Frances and Elaine have a list of stuff they need from the containers." She puts her PADD on her belt and follows him outside, being shoved back inside and her outside clothes pointed at firmly.
"You know, I don't really need winter clothes. Invulnerable. . .remember?"
"Too bad, so sad. Wear them anyway.
"I could walk around naked on the sixteenth planet and not feel the cold."
"Please don't, I can just see you trying to see if pee will freeze solid in 40 degrees below zero when it hits the cold air."
"Body temperature, no it wouldn't." Josette snorts. "And no, I didn't try it for myself. Arctic worlds in the Legion's dimensions, some of them have temperatures that cold and sometimes you just gotta go when you're outside if they don't have the bodysuits that handle waste." They walk to the containers, Principal Madison reading off items on the list and Josette bringing them out then emptying the rest of the container and putting it on the ship.
"Frances, Elaine. Josette brought out everything you asked for and a little more to empty the container." Principal Madison says as he finds them in their offices.
"Thank you James, we'll thank Josette at lunch."
The weather finally starts warming and Josette is off spreading manure on the garden and fields.
Inside David is looking at Alexander and Michael. "How can you guys be two years into a degree and the twins and Alan only three semesters? You started the same time?"
"We picked up extra classes every semester to finish earlier when we got this big order. Just like you picked up extra classes to be five semesters into your degree when you were finishing your other degree." David nods. "Of course you didn't continue to take the extra classes."
"But annoying Grammy Allie is fun." David mock-whines. Then grins. "We can't all get in fifteen classes a semester on one system, eight on another and eighteen on a third."
"Yeah, but I'm going to be finishing my third degree to your first." Josette says smugly from her spot on the manure spreader. "And I'm finishing four degrees this year if you count the clockmaking history degree."
Windows are open in nearly every room on Haven to air everything out after winter and the new crops go in before Josette heads off to take her finals. Dr. Blake comes over and whispers something in her ear and she smirks.
At the dorm she brings out a pool noodle, whapping David over the head and shoulders with it a few times before putting it away as the others laugh. "Grammy Allie?" he asks with a sigh.
"Dr. Blake." She agrees with a smirk. "She's a leeetle bit upset with the men in her life right now."
"Ohhhh really." He purrs.
She holds up three fingers and he falls off the couch howling with laughter. "Of course Dr. Stark is smug and Sheriff Carter is just praying he lives through the mood swings until she delivers."
"Did you make her a bag?"
"Two of them."
The tesseract opens on Earth a few days later and students and employees are greeted by family and friends. Josette joins the others at the mansion a few hours later.
"Get everything delivered?"
"The supplies picked up and the empty containers dropped off." She settles on the couch and takes off her shoes, wriggling her toes in the rug under the coffee table.
"Some of your order arriving?"
"Yep, everything will be here by the time I come out for the new students."
The next four weeks pass quickly and David opens the tesseract back on Haven as Josette starts delivering containers various places, including Albatross. Back at the dorm she adds a few things to the building before joining the others walking to lunch.
She detours to the front room. "Frances, Elaine. the orders from the supplier are beginning to come in. Do you want me to keep yours on the ship until we have everything in or bring them out? Here's the list of what's in so far." She sends it to them. "The rest should be in by the time the new students start arriving."
"Got the room so I already brought them out."
"Bring them out Josette. The others are going to give us room for everything." Josette nods and her eyes grow dark a second and she nods. "There, everything's out now. Let me know if you want help moving stuff inside."
"Thank you Josette. Now your shows?"
"Me Mom's dimension, the boys Calvin's. I go second again this year. The boys show is next month, I'm taking out two ships because I got a book tour afterwards."
"How many books?"
"Four more of the last eighteen after this year. Oh, and the party for the last two new books is eighth day." They nod in satisfaction. "Did you pass along the new books to that woman who came out with the reality show people?"
"Yep, I signed them for her and her mother and gave them to Granda when we were out, he's sending them out a couple days before the show."
Eighth day everybody comes through the tesseract link or the open door for the party, everybody eating then lining up to buy the books and have them signed.
"How many books do you have finished?"
"Four done, three more just waiting for one or two more quilts, and two more started."
Josette is busy cutting the potato vines when the ship lifts off for the boys show, the tops going on the compost pile before she puts the machine away in the garage. Another few days and she'll be harvesting the potatoes, putting them in the potato cellar until needed. The seed potatoes had already been harvested and were in a second cellar until they were needed for planting.
Principal Madison looks up as Josette walks in the dorm.
"Cutting the potato vines before we harvest them." He nods and passes her the information on the next student numbers and supplies.
"Three more years and we'll start seeing the huge graduation numbers with the extra high school students."
"And floors empty if not dorms. How many students do we have for the last year?"
"Six thousand and two. All the other students that year were for the older grades."
"Are all the incoming freshman dual enrollment and have their own rooms?"
"Yes, Dad says they're paying through the nose for it."
Josette snorts. "Always going to be somebody who pays good money for feel sooooo much better than anybody else."
The others come back to find the two of them in the living room talking about the school plans.
"Josette, is that a fabric warehouse in the dorm and a supplier?"
"Yes, and no it's not the one I brought. This one I copied when an uptight little asswipe pissed me off sneering at me because he was sure I couldn't afford anything I was buying. He was taking over his daddy's businesses and looking down on the little people. . ."
"Who were the ones who kept him in business?" Principal Madison asks dryly.
"Yeah, he was sneering the entire time he ran my card and blinked when it went through without a second's pause. Because this way he couldn't have me arrested for trying to steal from him. He'd already had me banned from ever entering his business again. Then he lowered himself to attend a show at a local gallery and recognized me and realized he might have offended somebody important in the industry."
"Moron." Alan snorts as he and the Josette that had been away move boxes to various rooms.
"Yep, Daddy was not happy when he had to admit what he'd done. He very loudly and publicly called him several kinds of fool, making sure the news that he wasn't in charge anymore and the old man was taking the business back over would make the rounds and his former customers would return before the business. . ."
"He'd built with his blood, sweat, and tears was lost. Hopefully he's got other kids who can take over the business."
"Yep two younger daughters and a son. In fact. . ." Josette grabs Principal Madison's PADD and looks at the list of incoming students. "Hah. I thought that was a familiar name. His younger son arrives after the Harvest Festival and the girls already attend. One is graduating this year and one is in ninth grade."
"No, the mother went for a masters and doctorate. The first baby was an oops from celebrating her finishing university. Something dumbass is going to have to do now to get a good job."
"Something he's wailing about?"
"How big is this fabric warehouse?"
"Big. Ten floors just of fabric. This was for serious seamstresses. Be they quilters or not. You didn't buy by the yard there, you brought by the bolt."
"That's got to be more convenient."
"Until you have all these remnants you can't use." Elaine says from the door. "Josette, can you come move stuff for us?"
"Sure. But I remember seeing tables full of remnants at expos."
"Yes, and most people had their own remnants, they didn't want anybody else's. They usually advertised in trade journals for other crafters and sold them cheap to get rid of them. Or donated to second-hand stores."
Josette nods, remembering all the fabric remnants on the shelves in various stores she's walked into as they walk to the containers. "It's only places like Sue and Agatha's store where you get a good turnover in remnants." Suzie, who'd been walking past talking to her Mom after lunch at the chicken place looks at them. "Josette copied a fabric warehouse that only sold by the bolt and we're talking about all the leftovers."
"Ah yes, I remember the tables of them at expos. I used to buy them at the very end and would get all of them for Assyrian for a good price because they just wanted them gone by the end of the expo."
"Yep, a few expos before we left Earth I made a announcement I'd buy everything left over for Haven. Everybody was glad not to have to take anything back home." Sue nods vigorously. They talk quietly as Elaine reads off items and Josette moves them into the textiles buildings.
"This is nearly empty, bring the rest inside and we'll find a place for it."
Josette shakes her head as she reads the databursts over the next few days when she's not harvesting or planting.
"I'd say I can't believe people are that damn stupid but my teeth would explode at that lie." David snorts when he reads of the absolute fit the dumbass suing to go on the city-ship has in court at being told no.
"Probably the first time somebody told the damn fool no." Susan snorts. "Did you go to the first planet?"
"Yep, everything I didn't sell to the others is in stasis or in wreaths."
"Picked them up when I took out the returning students belongings."
"Where are the others?"
"Enlarging the textiles buildings for the rest of the order that was in when I went out."
"And a big room for the containers like we have. They're talking tesseracted warehouses for the others."
"Didn't they plan on expanding the stores anyway?"
"Yeah, everybody's on top of each other working on quilts at Sue's. They also need more room on the shelves and racks for supplies. Especially when they've got the layers put together and there's a wait on the long-arm machine."
"The other places are going to need expanding soon."
"Yeah, I'll make a list for the next meeting." Josette splits off a duplicate and heads into town. She walks through every building, looking in every nook and corner and talking to the employees.
She finds Bronwen talking with Sue and chuckles as she grabs a few items from the shelf. "I don't have to ask you if you need to enlarge and what you want."
"No, not us or either Albatross Nest." Sue snorts. "Though we need more old clothes."
"I'll bring them out next week. Do we need more room or containers up there?" Bronwen leads the way upstairs, looking around and nodding.
After dinner that night Josette goes up to her studio, looking at her supply of old clothes and realizing she needs to bring out some for herself too. Opening one of the boxes she ducks as the clothes shoot out into piles.
"I'd wondered if you needed some yourself." Bronwen says from the doorway.
"Yeah, it's not something you really think about until ..." Josette sighs. "I gotta check my thread supply." She leans into Headquarters the next morning, Renny looking up at her from the table.
"Tell Pat I'm making a trip to the thread complex next week, I'm not low low but I want to get in an order before I reach for a spool and only find an empty box." Renny nods and Josette heads off, people signing in before the ship lifts off for the offworld harvest.
"Josette was just here, she's making a trip out to the threads complex next week." Renny tells Pat when she comes into the room. Pat blinks and moans. "She says she's not low low but she wants to get in an order before she reaches for a spool and only finds an empty box."
Pat sighs and nods. "Better to have too much on hand than not enough. I really need to do an inventory of everything."
The next week Josette brings the flyer in for a landing, Frances, Sue, and Agatha getting out with her and Pat. She's got a wagon attached and can put anything that doesn't fit there in subspace.
"Are we going out to Ellis's?" Frances asks as they walk to the door.
"I thought we'd make a special trip this year or next if there's enough interest."
"If there's enough interest she says. I think everybody goes out those trips since you've got the room on the ships and you warn Ellis so he has all his employees there to help us."
Josette snorts as she reads the latest databurst after they'd come back from Christmas. "Dumbass didn't get her own way about getting a trip on the city-ship when it's finished, the court flatly refused to hear a case about us taking the useless twat and her butt buddies in, now they want their own colony dimension. But they're stunned that the government won't pay for everything for them. 'You mean we have to buy our own supplies? Put up our own homes, there's not going to be running water, heat, nobody's going to cook and clean for us? There's no MALLS? How can we live like that?'"
Everybody in earshot sighs, rolls their eyes, says a prayer for the future of humanity, or laughs.
"Are all the offworld harvests in now?"
"Do we have two Christmases the year everybody graduates?"
"The year before, Principal Madison and I were checking everything on the schedule. The year the school closes I'll have two offworld harvests."
"Is this the last year for new students?” Doc asks as he comes in from Headquarters with Doc.
"Next year, the freshman arriving next year or eighth graders if they're already here will be graduating a year before the school closes."
"How many students will be left?"
"Six thousand and two. They're sixth graders right now."
"How are the schools. . .?"
"Elementary schools will be closing end of next year, the year after that at the latest depending on how many older students there are. There's no students under the age of seven in the schools now and there's either small classes in other years . . .smaller than normal classes anyway or no students in a grade. Depending on how many grades middle schools have I'd say no later than a year after that and by the time we go out for the second Christmas the year before we close doubt there will be any schools left open. Granda says they'll be out of students the year before that, their youngest students are all seventh graders."
Josette heads off to Mom Clarinda's dimension with the others, a second ship heading off for the book tour. A third Josette is flooding the cranberry vines after she'd put up barriers around it, the floating cranberries being knocked off and float up into a container. Some will be dried, some will be put in brine then dried, while the rest go in stasis. After a good chunk of it is sold to the other planets.
She joins with her other selves late that night when everything's been harvested and the water pumped back into the cistern.
"Get your tv degree finished?"
"Yeah, and I'm six classes from the second comic book degree now." Josette says, putting the last of the DVDS and books away in the tv building.
After the Harvest Festival Josette is busy bringing in the new freshman and their belongings.
"Are you only taking the last semester for the comics?"
"Yeah, I'll start the new degrees next year. Relax this semester."
"The new ones have days to sign up for their classes and get their books and supplies as soon as we get back from Thanksgiving, first them, then the other dual-enrollment students. It's only at the beginning of the year that's everything's hectic, other times they can just sign up for one or two classes and get their supplies from Joyce."
"Just like when they're getting their books and supplies before the new semester."
Josette drops off the last of the graduating students belongings at the office when she comes out for midterms. "Do you want me to keep making the socks and stuff?"
"Yes, we'll have them for sale at the spa if you can add a few items." Jane says.
Josette sends her pictures and a list. "What I've been working on, yarn prices, a breakdown on what I can get from each skein, and what you can charge for them from what I've seen in various places."
"Do it. Are you going to need more machines?" Calvin says, looking over Jane's shoulder.
"Unfortunately yes." She sends him the cost breakdown with them and he nods. Josette sends out the order. "Ellis was going over the different yarns with me when I took out more books for him."
"How many more books?" Maria asks.
"Four more old ones yet to debut, four more done and edited, they'll be finished printing next year with the second six. Three more nearly done, I got one more quilt to finish for one of them and two for the other two. Two more started. When these last four are printed we gotta start reprinting some older ones, I'm running low. Which I wouldn't have thought was possible when we first started printing them."
Maria chuckles as Josette grabs the mail and heads off.
She leans in the open door of Principal Madison's office. "I talked to Granda about continuing to make the socks, scarves, and whatnot. He said yes, approved the new designs, yarn, and more machines. It's all been ordered, I'll probably have the machines by the end of the year, possibly some of the yarn, and be making them next spring." Professor Druid nods in satisfaction.
Sue nods when she comes in the next morning and finds the tables covered with piles of fabric and Josette putting a bolt in the partial bin as she grabs another one.
"I'd wondered when you were going to get more supplies."
"Got the money now." Sue just gives her a look and helps her go over the list. They measure the remnants and bring out replacement bolts. Sue looks at the getting bare shelves. "I've got to do inventory and make a list of what we need to bring out."
The last crops start coming in and Josette heads to Eureka to take her tests, picking up and dropping off the recycling a couple days later.
A few days later David opens the tesseract for the returning students and employees, the graduating students either heading inside for their graduation ceremony if they're in the first batch or heading home with family and friends.
Josette arrives at the mansion a few hours later after having moved shipping containers to and from the ship.
"Get everything taken care of?"
"Except for anything we buy while we're here."
David sniggers and turns up the television, Josette staring at the screen then swearing at the whining fit a celebritwit is having about not being able to go to another planet because everybody's being mean to her. They expect her to work. . .work is for little people and her Daddy's rich.
"Yeah, he's rich but you're going to be out on the street on your cute little pierced ear little girl if you keep embarrassing him. Oh please tell me she didn't just fall down and flash everybody because she's too stupid to wear underwear."
"Yup." Alan changes the channel to a comedy channel and shuts it off when they shake their heads.
A couple days later Josette sniggers as she listens to the radio. "Dumbass is going to rehab after Christmas or Daddy's cutting off her allowance."
"Huh, didn't know too fucking stupid to live was an addiction." David snorts.
"Or spoiled brat?"
"It's the alcohol talking she says. Or should I say a publicist Daddy paid for says."
"Ah yes, that old devil alcohol. It's always at fault. It can't ever be them."
"Yep, the old alcohol bottle grabbed them by the throat and poured itself down their throat."
A month later Earth time David opens the tesseract and the students walk to the auditorium. Josette is busy moving containers here and there before they lift off to go to the other dimensions.
"How is everything?"
"Good, we just came back from Calvin's dimension, that stupid woman who was suing to go on the city-ship had a drunken fit on tv, everybody was being mean to her by not letting her go to Haven, we expected her to work and work is for little people. . .her Daddy's rich." Pat rolls her eyes. "And of course rich people don't work." She waves her hand at everybody.
"Or wear underwear obviously because she drunkenly fell down and flashed everybody." Alan snorts.
"A few days later there was an announcement that she was going to rehab. Because oh god she wasn't a spoiled brat. . .it was that old devil firewater talking."
"Oh of course." Andrew snorts. "God forbid they take responsibility for their own actions."
Principal Madison and Doc look over as they walk through the dorm doors several months later for them. The Josette who'd gone out to Thomas and Doc's worlds joins with her other self.
"Did you get everything delivered to the seventh planet?"
"Yep." Josette stretches and yawns. "Note to myself. . .spread these trips out over a couple days. It won't kill me . . .Doc might." Principal Madison sniggers.
"Get all our stuff?" Abby asks her brother.
"Yeah, Josette's other selves on the ship is delivering everything here that we didn't put in the boxes on the trips."
"How was the trips?"
"Nice to see young people who have some common sense and know how to act in public." Anna says. The others nod. "Josette and the boys had a show while we were out. How far are you in your timeline?"
"Into my first year for my masters. I got the whole 'you're an artist too?' then."
"How are you going to handle being at the Tower your last year?"
"Staying on the ship the trip or spending some time exploring the land they brought. We'll come to that when it happens. I was in the lab a lot that last year, you could have locked the door and I wouldn't have known anything happened until Doc dragged me away for a shower, some food, and several days sleep." Doc and Principal Madison chuckle, they've both had to do that many a time when Josette was in the middle of something.
"Are all the knitting machines here?"
"Yes, And a good chunk of the new yarns. I'll take care of everything over the next couple weeks, it's not like they'll be needed right away."
After lunch Josette goes up to her studio, looking at the tables the boys had made for her. Bringing out the power strips she starts setting everything up, bringing out the boxes of knitting machines before dinner.
Over the next couple of days she opens the boxes and registers them, bringing out pallets of yarn and filling containers.
"Books?" Agatha asks in the now much enlarged Albatross Nest. Josette even has a chair to sit on instead of the floor.
"Four ready to print next year after the last six are done. Two that are being edited and one that just needs one more quilt. I've got two more started and hope to get three more started next year."
"Did somebody say you're starting more stuff for Calvin?"
"Yeah, better quality stuff for when the school out there closes. Sweaters, hats, gloves. . .stuff like that that can be sold at the spa or in the office because there's going to be somebody cooing they gotta have it because it's from another world." Agatha snorts. "I see that fool woman is going into rehab."
"Yes, because of course something else has to be the root cause of her problems...not that she's a spoiled stupid little brat."
"Who must believe only poor people wear underwear."
"Oh . .. lord." one of the women whines. "She flash everybody?"
"Yep, she fell on her ass during that drunken rant and showed off her diseased self. I guess the bad publicity was the last straw for Daddy, he was going to cut off her allowance if she doesn't go to rehab."
"She'd be poooorrrrr . ..and have to get a job." Sue mock-whines.
"Exactly. Living proof that people can still live without a brain."
"Nah, she's got a brain. . .it's just pickled with all the booze. Even those people who drank Granddaddy's white lightning never got that bad." One of the other women says.
"That's because your granddaddy's white lightning usually killed anybody who drank it it was so potent." Agatha snorts.
"Eight, and I'm nearly done with a ninth, that's the last one I need for my book." She brings them out and the others nod as they're looked over. Josette puts them back in subspace and the boxes of kits and cookies are passed out. Josette's elbow deep in hot soapy water cleaning everything after the leftovers are packed up. Everything is shoved on her and she heads to the dorm, Susan shoving her back out the door. "You got a call a few minutes ago from Pat in Doc's world, there's a fabric warehouse going out of business sale going on." She flies off and Pat nods in satisfaction as she arrives a few minutes after she'd sent out the message.
Josette comes back an hour later, boxes full of stuff she puts in her workroom until she can go through everything.
"What was it?"
"Some asshole wanting the land for their business. . .why should somebody who's been there for years keep the land even if there's plenty of land elsewhere I could build on. I want that land and I'll have a friend on the board grab it by eminent domain."
"Ohhh Christ. . . Don't people learn this never goes the way they want it?"
"Oh who are you to tell me it's going to go bad? I'm the big bad moron here. Of course it did go bad, they were suing the city council and asshole. He's whining that they should have given him that land. . ."
"Business as usual with whiny assholes?"
"Yep, the guy's building outside the city limits, the publicity means more business. The city council's whining because they're getting bad publicity as businesses realize it could have been them. So they're all up in arms and the asshole who caused this entire mess is blubbering that he's going to have to go out of business, nobody is buying from him now. The little bastard's done this before."
Everybody rolls their eyes. "So anyway. . .yeah. The bad guy is hip deep in shit and only digging himself deeper, the victim's rolling in clover, and the city council is praying that this bad publicity blows over soon. The sad thing is. . .moron could have had the damn building if he'd fucking waited a year, the business was already planning on moving to the land outside town because they needed the room."
"Those type wait? Never going to happen. They think their money makes them soooo much better than anybody else." Michael says dryly.
"Not everybody. . .remember Barbara?" Alexander smirks.
"Lemme guess, had to prove herself because the parents favored a brother?"
"Yep, and her father kicked her out of the house when she dared to want to go to a good university. She took all her knowledge and business dealings and was richer than him in five years. He came begging her when the boy was lost in a car accident, drunk and stupid and wrapped it and himself around a telephone pole. Idiot was driving on a suspended sentence from previous drunk driving arrests. They'd lost a good bit of money keeping him out of prison and sending him repeatedly to rehab. . .which never worked."
"Parents like that need to be beaten. Every child should be allowed to reach their full potential. . .or lack of it in some cases." Pat says from the doorway.
The others begin coming out, helping with the last few decorations as Josette heads to the office with the twins. There's a steady stream of people coming in and out of the office with books and supplies for two or three classes. Josette comes back the first day and waves a hand, two piles of books, DVDs, and other stuff appearing on the tables in the library.
"Are these Timely comics?"
"No, I started the National comics this time, I'll get in one or two before I start Timely again."
The Lights Festival is bustling and the table with grab bags is empty by the end of the first day.
Josette slides into her seat in the boardroom the first day of the new semester. "Okay, this is from talking to everybody in town when we were enlarging buildings last year." The file is sent to the others and they nod.
"This is reasonable, it's hard to think it's been over a hundred years."
"What everybody thought was enough back then has changed over the years." Principal Madison sighs. The others nod. "Okay, is there a priority one?"
"No, they're all handling everything. This is all dream renovations. We can easily add additional floors to some of these or expand backwards."
"Or both. . .with maybe a dumbwaiter to bring boxes down from upstairs, you can turn the handle to crank it up or down." They make plans to have somebody from Sanders come out to talk to everybody this summer before the meeting breaks up.
Back at the dorm she checks on her other selves and settles on the couch, feet up on the coffee table as she checks over the list of tomatoes, peppers, and herbs that she's getting low on to plant on the first planet.
"Are you planting?"
"Not this year, we've got good supplies on everything I'd normally plant. I'll go out and check on the building with the others in a couple weeks."
"And add compost to the beds beyond when you tilled under the plants."
"Yeah, I don't want to destroy them." Josette sends out the message she's not planting on the first planet this year, getting nods from the others. A second message to a few people get more nods.
"Get the last book finished?"
"Yes, it's being edited right now and I'll start printing next year after the others are done. Then we'll start reprinting the older books. ..especially if we're going to be having more shows in Doc's world and offering them for sale there."
"You're going to have to increase the orders."
"Already did. Half again the old print run." Pat nods in satisfaction as she comes out of Headquarters. "Josette, can you move some containers for me? We just emptied them."
"Sure, I gotta empty some of mine and rearrange what's left. The rest of the yarn is due in when I go out midterms." Josette says as she follows Pat into Headquarters.
"Josette, are there such things as yarn warehouses?" Bethany asks.
"Yes, I got online and found some addresses I'm going to have to hit when we go out again. Including a greenhouse and nursery."
Pat nods in satisfaction.
The next couple of weeks pass quickly and Josette arrives at the school after picking up the supplies. Jane is reading something online and shaking her head. "Useless wretch."
"Do I want to know?"
"That stupid woman who whined about not going into outer space to colonize a new planet. She left rehab and is already causing trouble. She got slapped into virtual reality to show what would happen in space and she's whining about having to build her own house, farm,. . .and dig a outhouse. They stink. Can't we just buy our food? What do you mean there's no store? I've got to cook my own food? Every day? Okay, where's the microwave? There's no electricity? NNNNNOOOOOO!!!!!"
"Damn fool. She expected it to be just like Earth where everybody bows, scrapes, and kisses her ass for existing." Calvin says from the door of his office, waving Josette inside.
"Are you going to be here long?"
"At least a week. The court case for that stupid brat who was trying to drive through our gates is tomorrow. Dumb bitch just stood there flapping her hair to make herself look good and saying that Daddy says she can do whatever she wants. How dare we have our gates shut when she wants to use our house for her drunken sextapes. Who cares what we want? Dumb bitch got her ass kicked up around her shoulders by her father for her stupidity at the station, her mother was wailing at the indignity of her good name being drug through the mud like this."
"Obvious where she gets the attitude." Maria snorts.
"Yup. So the police is looking through her sextapes trying to match them up to home invasions. She's looking at serious prison time because 'do you mean breaking into people's houses is a crime?'" Snorts of disgust. "Yep, I'm expecting a huge wailing massive fit in the courtroom when the judge sides with me in the civil case. Because Daddy's washed his hands of her, she's got to pay any judgments herself now instead of having Daddy throw money at it to make it go away. She's going to have to work, both to pay off the judgment, in prison, to pay off other judgments, and afterwards."
A few days later Josette slaps down the stupid woman who tried going after her and calmly tells her exactly what she thinks of her before she's drug away.
"How long did you stay?"
"Four weeks, for that stupid bimbo's civil trial. . .moron tried throwing herself at me when she lost. . ." The others shake their heads. "Those type of people need to be shot."
"Repeatedly. . .or kicked in the head repeatedly. There's no possibility of brain damage. . .you need a brain to damage. I stopped at Ellis's and a yarn warehouse. Ended up saving a small sheep farm that was going to have to declare bankruptcy." The others snigger.
"Gonna have to sell more books?"
"Yep, but I've got a steady supply of good yarn coming in. Technically I'm the partial owner but once they have the money they can buy me out. A couple bad years they're recovering from, some work that needed to be done on the farm after a storm and you know insurance doesn't cover everything, and a car accident took away the money they had put away. Bronwen knows them, she'd have stepped in if I hadn't and when they contacted her saying they had somebody who was offering money she was worried until she realized it was me. I'm thinking that one of us is going to bring them out to put up a table at the Harvest Festival. They'll certainly sell out here." The others nod. "Bronwen's friends that had the business I brought the yarn sitting in the warehouse is back in business, they went to court and the insurance adjusters and everybody else was told to grow up children and play nice." Alan sniggers, he recognizes who Josette is mocking. . .somebody from a series of annoying commercials that make you change the channel if you have the remote handy or want to throw something at the tv if it's not. They're gods, they already make the tvs unbreakable.
"Found a book warehouse, a lot of overstock stuff and went to town. Same with a music and DVD warehouse." Josette sends a file to the others. "Latest pictures of the ship, they're looking to be done with the infrastructure in a few years then start working on the buildings. With multiple crews working on five or six buildings at a time it should go fast."
"And as buildings go up they'll start filling them. . .either with supplies or furniture. It should be about a year after the last buildings are done and everything's tested before they get in the last of the supplies and lift off."
"How far is Becka's city-ship in their mission?"
"I think her last message said nearly a year into the five year mission, they're making plans for the second tour when they're back on Earth."
Josette heads to the office to pick up the books and supplies for three more classes a couple weeks later, getting books and supplies for three students while she's there.
"Thank you Josette." Joyce says when she brings out the bags and the students head off. "Are you finishing any more degrees this year?"
"No, I'm only two and three years into most of them." Putting everything away in the library she finishes putting away everything she purchased at the warehouses and the 'temporarily' going out of business sale.
The weather starts getting warmer and Josette is busy spreading manure on the fields and garden, tilling it under a few days later and planting a few days after that. After her finals she takes care of the recycling, the students walking through the tesseract David opens.
At the mansion Josette snorts as she she reads the whining 'apology' from the bitch who'd tried attacking her.
"Sorry you're a miserable human being who wouldn't let her do what she wanted?"
"Yep, she's going to get a lot of that in prison, seems this uncovered a major theft ring. Since she's part of little miss 'but Whhhhhhhhyyyyyyy won't they take me into space? Don't they know I'm spe-shul' group she's keeping her head down and being good when Daddy dearest told her just what she could be charged with for not doing anything to stop her. She finally figured out people aren't putting up with her bullshit anymore."
Josette and the others drive past the buildings on the school's new land a couple weeks later. "Looking good." Alan says, pulling up next to Jane.
"The local town is pouting. They're losing business and we're going like gangbusters."
"Because they haven't realized yet you need to spend money to make money and they really need to so some maintenance all around town. If they did that they might be able to entice businesses to come back."
Jane, the man she's talking to, and another man at a table all nod vigorously. "That's why I went to all the stores in Town last year to see what they needed and wanted."
"Is the paint factory opening?"
"Next year, Sanders is coming out to tell them how much paint and whatnot they'll need before they order. Suzie was tormenting Agatha about how they'd paint the store light purple with a darker trim like the Victorians."
"Agatha just look at her and remind her she's not too big to spank?" Abby snorts.
Josette sniggers. They park in the lot and split up, Josette or Alan putting the bags in subspace.
A month later on Earth David opens the tesseract on Haven, the students and employees walking off the ship as Josette starts delivering containers.
"Is everything delivered? Here anyway?"
"Yeah, I gotta deliver to the seventh planet tomorrow."
"Are the orders staying with the schools closing?"
"Yes, at least for five years after the school closes. After that we'll see but everybody can use a break. And the factories need to be checked."
The others nod.
The next couple of months pass and Josette's busy bringing in the offworld harvests. The crops start coming in on Haven and everybody's busy canning, drying, or otherwise storing everything.
Josette chuckles as she sees a couple of familiar people with Bronwen.
"I'd wondered if you were going to bring them out."
"Where were you?"
"Buying a few farms that butt up to our land before the vulture realtors brought them then tried grabbing ours.. . .bleating they didn't know it was our land. I basically just doubled our land." Richard moans as he comes by, saying a few words. Josette nods. "I was going to have you talk to them."
"You're going to get more morons suing to make you sell. Cheap of course or better yet force you to give them the land. So they can build McMansions. . .because of course millionaires and billionaires will flock to them to be seen by the right people."
"And make them money and have their names in the spotlight. Where they become the right people." Josette snorts. The others nod.
Calvin looks at Principal Madison later that night.
"Who's your high priest or priestess?"
"Joyce, I couldn't run the school without her. Though Jed is a close second."
"No reason you can't have both since they're over different areas."
"Damn dumb fucking assholes." Josette grumbles a couple days later as she reappears in the dorm. "One of the realtors who wouldn't take no or even HELL NO for an answer sued to get control of my finances. .. everybody's taking advantage of me. I can't possibly know what I'm doing . . ."
Snorts of derision and cackles of laughter.
"Moron was stunned to realize how old I really am. . .he thought he was talking so some kid with a little money. Of course if he had control of my finances. . ."
"He'd snap up the land, sell it out from under us, and have us arrested for trespassing no doubt." David snorts.
"He was stunned to find out you're only a year older than me. . .well except for the dirty old man over there." Alan snorts. "His whole flimsy story collapsed like a house of cards when he saw how many years I've been attending mine or the boys shows. How long I've been selling the quilting books..."
"Whine like a little kid? And throw a tantrum in court?"
"Yep, especially when the judge threw his ass in jail for ninety days for contempt of court for using the system to his own end like that. Of course he's whining louder since I'm very publicly suing the bastard for all this. He was very loudly fired from the company he works for. . .the boss didn't want the bad publicity of one of his employees trying to steal land to make himself rich. . ."
"More like cover his own ass and deny, deny, deny that it's a common business practice." Anna snorts. The others nod. "And pray he keeps his mouth shut so nobody digs deeper into the business."
The Harvest Festival comes and the people that had come out from the farm are stunned at how everything seems to fly off the tables.
"Does everybody knit, sew, or quilt?"
"A good portion of us. Those that don't replicate or buys it at the stores."
"The school gets in supplies of woolease for socks, hats, mittens, gloves, and scarves for the students since they can't wash them out by hand sharing a bathroom with at least one other person." Nods from everybody she'd brought out. "We've got stocks of it in the stores but most of us have the room to wash them out by hand. . .even if it's just a tote of water and lay them out to dry."
Josette settles next to David on the couch.
"Is that it for the students?"
"How was sales of the yarn at the Harvest Festival?"
"Good. I think they enjoyed seeing everything out here."
"The last two of the old ones to debut next year. I picked up number seven and eight from the printers after the festival."
The others walk into the store, either through the front door or through the tesseract link. . .finding tables loaded with books and more loaded with food. Josette rolls up her sleeves after the party along with the others and soon the building is put to rights.
"How many books?"
"Not quite five thousand of each. I took out 6000 of each."
"How far in your masters will . . ."
"We be when we go out? I think just finishing it. If not I've only got a few weeks left. I didn't come right back to the Tower after graduation. Now I know why."
"Is this the last of the student belongings?" Maria asks when Josette comes out midterms.
"Except for anything the students are bringing back on the ship with them."
"How long are you here for?"
"At least a month, Richard's going to be walking through the farms I brought to see what they need beyond a year or so to rest the land and doses of manure and compost. Bronwen's already done that for the others. . ."
"Yep, and talking to Madison, Jessica, and Joanne about another book tour."
Josette walks into the publishing house past the wailing man standing outside. "Bad review?"
"Stupid hotel manager wailing because he's not getting our business now from conventions and book tours after he canceled the reservations of a group of authors and refused to give us back the money we'd paid so we had to sue. He's horrified at how much publicity and money his competition is getting now and was stunned when we refused to use his hotel anymore." the receptionist snorts. "But that shouldn't matter now. Let bygones be bygones. . .I need the money."
"Twit." Josette snorts.
"Joanne's out with the kids getting school clothes and Jessica's in a meeting but they left you envelopes since they knew you'd be in soon." She digs through her desk and hands them over. "Madison's holding the hand of a new author right now but . . ." A man walks through with Madison who nods her head toward her office at Josette. "She should be through any minute."
Madison comes back to her office to find Josette reading everything in the envelopes. "Jessica okay?"
"Yes, she's just got a cold and wants to stay home and sulk. She hates being sick."
"I'm the same way. I just want to be alone, piss bitch whine and moan until I annoy myself let alone anybody else. A cold won't kill you. . ."
"You just wish it would." Madison nods and they settle in to talk.
"Do you know anything about realtors getting their own dimension?"
"I suggested it to Granda. Of course I also said they'd whine when they realized they had all this land but nobody to buy it because they had nothing there. They won't take NO for an answer about selling my land to them, one's gone as far as try to get control of me and my money because I can't possibly know what I'm doing. He's facing serious charges because everybody knows he would have stolen everything and left me penniless. And that he didn't come up with this idea on his own."
"People like that give good realtors a bad name. The industry tries to police itself but there's still some bad apples who only see the money they can make no matter who they hurt." Madison nods. "Thanks to word of mouth and the internet, those type of people never last long. They were looking for the quick money fast, not having to work for it over time. The agencies that make the big money work for it."
They talk about books, tours, and other stuff for a couple hours, making plans for the next year and Josette goes back to the mansion. A couple hours later a beeping from the gate has her turning on the camera.
"They've finally passed a law to protect people from unscrupulous realtors. You're allowed one attempt, by certified mail to contact somebody about buying their land. If they refuse to accept the letter it's a no and you cannot contact them again. They can contact you if they want to sell in the future. If you try again it's harassment and you can get fined. Of course you have to have a record of it, but with phones with cameras everywhere anymore you can easily take a picture of the letter's return address and postmark. The school is already going to be doing that for us since they handle our mail anyway."
"And if they continue to bother us we can show off all the pictures and they'll get their butts handed to them by the court?"
"Yep. Of course they're up in arms over that but we're not the only people they've used heavy-handed tactics to get the land. Nor was I the only one they tried getting control of to steal the land. We were just able to fight back. And make the bastards pay through the nose for their greediness."
"What brought this on? Not that they haven't needed it." David snorts.
"The wife of the asshole who tried having me declared incompetent went bleating to the police that we'd stolen the land from her when she was in the hospital. She couldn't tell the police what the inside of the house looked like. . .they were stunned when a bungalow turned into a mansion with multiple outbuildings. She had five acres. . .we have over seven hundred and fifty thousand. . .she finally had to admit she was doing this because we dared not accept the pittance the agency would have given us for our land. We needed to be punished for that. She was stunned when she was thrown in jail and the news hit the media. The agency ended up closing down after being investigated and the head is facing charges of his own for not reining his employees in. The employees who were cleared of any wrongdoing had jobs waiting on them."
"Good, no use everybody being hurt for a few bad apples."
"Ohhh, the realtor dimension opened." Josette smirks at Pat.
"They realize that they got all the land they want but nobody to sell it to?"
"Yep, and are wailing because they got what they want but . . ."
"It wasn't the be all and end all they thought it would be?" Bethany smirks.
"Exactly, they have to set up ways for people to get there, either as employees or to shop there. It's going to be a lot of work and years before they see the profits they were expecting." Sniggering from the doorway. "People with brains knew it would be hard work and not the profits they were expecting and didn't get involved?"
"Exactly. Oh, we're going out to Doc's world early. . .like next week. And you're coming with us." Josette tells Bruce. "I got the call when I was coming back from Granda's world."
"They've got their own Bruce Wayne they you to talk to about stuff." He nods. "Was there one on Calvin's world?"
"Yes. He retired to start a family. His grandson is in charge of their Wayne and his great-grandson is being groomed to take over the reins."
"We gotta think how long ago it's been on Earth. The boys are fifty-three now and they were six months old when we went out there. What's it been out there? Seventy-five?"
"Closer to eighty-five years probably. Is he still alive?"
"Yes, he's on his second identity since Dr. Cross gave him golden apple extract when he was hurt bad one time. Yes, there was a Superman too, he sent them a message when they came back that first time so what happened on the ninth planet couldn't happen there. Kryptonians don't really age age, even on their home planet. Even less so with their powers."
"The older you are the slower you age?"
"Sounds like it. And with invulnerability, cells don't really age or get destroyed. Immortality the same thing, you get exact copies of the cells instead of the damaged cells that happen as you grow old."
"Oh. . .I was wondering. With all the new people on Thomas's earth, is Wayne, Wayne, Dayton, and Drake staying open?"
"Yes, people that had come out had their own discoveries and quickly slotted into the group that was still there."
"How is their old world?"
"Pouting, they didn't realize that with getting rid of the 'undesirable' orphans it meant that people would have to do the scut work they'd shoved on them. And they took their discoveries with them, a lot of stuff they had taken for granted was discovered by former orphans and they couldn't use it anymore. Now they have to do without. . ." Josette mock-whines as everybody around them smirks.
"They're too good to get off their asses and rediscover it themselves?"
"More along the lines of 'only orphans take those classes." Josette snorts. "Morons didn't realize that they went to better schools, took harder classes, and got better jobs than the people who thought having parents made them better than that. And now those classes are gone because it was at schools that came with the orphans. They've got a lot of knowledge to regain. Or learn to make do without."
"Like any other natural or man-made disaster. Thomas's Earth is going through the same thing, so would ours if everything hadn't happened."
The next couple of months pass slowly, the crops coming in and Josette heading off to Eureka to get in her finals.
"How far are you in your new comic book degree?"
"Twenty-four classes. I'm three semesters into the new tv degree. David's three years into his tv degree."
"Not bad, a degree every two years. I'm sure there's tons of degrees at the school."
"Nearly a thousand and they add to them yearly. Including some sets that concentrated on ones you already took. Case in point. . .superman comics... were they set in Earth one, earth two, or another earth entirely. Were they Golden Age, Silver Age, or something else entirely? Alternate Universe, what-if, or time changed?"" The others nod.
"Dallas." Vincent snorts.
"Oh yes, the whole season was just a dream. Bobby was in the shower." Josette rolls her eyes. "But the damn soap operas were just as bad. . .and let's not forget prime-time shows were just as bad with disappearing children nobody ever mentioned again." All the older men smirk.
"Rapid aging children. One day they're kids and the next they're adults." Sheriff Carter snorts as he walks up to the table. "And their parents are the same age."
"Not just soaps, at least Family matters did that. One season the sister's baby was a baby the next he was a kid? To make the show more interesting. of course this is the same show that had the younger daughter go upstairs and never be seen again."
"Happy Days did the same thing, in the early episodes there was an older brother."
Josette looks around the empty library. David had cleaned up his area after his last class and Josette had cleaned up her area before she went out for her finals.
"Get all the recycling done?" Alan asks, coming up behind her.
"Yep, I picked up the last from the school to drop off. Probably take care of the recycling while I'm out there." She snorts.
"Probably." Alan agrees. "Going out to Vegas?"
"Yep, come to Momma nice little money. There's a comicon while I'm out there sponsored by the school I take classes from, I'm sure they're going to be getting a lot of publicity from this."
"Do they have the room?"
"A new hotel opening up in the next town, the comicon is their first guests."
"And probably make enough money for them to last the year even if they never get another customer again."
"Yep, the 'Official' opening will be a couple weeks after the comicon. By that time everybody should stop twitching and see if they want to do it again next year." Alan chuckles and they walk downstairs.
"Wasn't that the moron who was wailing last time I was here?" Josette asks walking into the publishing house. She looks at the receptionist, the man outside, and back.
"Yes, he tried suing demanding all our business be given to him instead of another hotel. We told the judge why we didn't use his hotel anymore and he was told to grow the fuck up and leave us alone."
"Lemme guess. He didn't wike that?" Josette snorts.
"Nope, he's going to go out of business. It's all our fault." The receptionist whines. "He's going to sue again. He tried and got laughed out of court, the business is sound. . .the little prick's just not making the profits he wants."
"Own damn fault." Josette snorts. "He thought he was soooo much better than everybody else and got his ass kicked up around his ears for his stupidity."
The comicon is well attended and Josette and some of the teachers from the school snigger as every employee seems to take a deep breath when everybody is settled in their rooms after the last talk of the con.
"So I understand you work at a school?"
"Yeah, I'm the librarian slash second in command of the school with one of the teachers. She handles the class stuff, I handle the non-educational stuff."
"How long are . ..?"
"We're closing in five years. Our youngest students will be starting eighth grade when the school reopens after break."
"Are we getting double orders of supplies for the graduating students?" David asks when they return to the dorm.
"Starting year after next when we have the first batch of freshman graduating. We've been getting larger batches as we graduate more students but the last four years we'll have double batches of supplies."
"If we run low we can let them know."
"So they know they have to buy more for the next year." Principal Madison who'd come into the room nods. "Supplies?"
"Delivering them from the ship, it should be another couple of hours. I'm just moving them to the buildings like usual, maintenance can put everything where you want it."
"Thank you Josette, are you going to the other dimensions?"
"Over the next couple of days.
"Did you take out some of the new stuff?"
"Oh yes, they'll have it for sale in the office by the time our school shuts down. And in the spa."
"Did we get another shipment for the library?" Alan asks on the way to the dining hall for dinner.
"Yeah, I'll take care of it over the next couple weeks. After we decorate the dorm and come back from the other dimensions.
"Last two of the books next year. I wouldn't have thought it." Anna shakes her head. "How many more books?"
"Nine with the last two from the original twelve. Next year and partway into the year after that for my quilting books, Principal Madison and President Bartlett's books will finish the year with the third printing for the first book and second printing for the others after that."
"Do you see much need for them?"
"No, that's why these printings are only going to be half of the others. I already have boxes of the others on the replicator, these are just in case. . .or for Doc's dimension." The others nod in satisfaction. "I don't see the demand that great when I'm not debuting new books." On the screen to the front room Professor Fletcher is nodding as Professor Druid repeats her words.
Clarinda agrees with Josette's thoughts when they go out the next day. They stay out there a few weeks before coming back.
"Anything on the databurst?" David asks a couple days before the lights festival.
"Whining from realtors who don't wike the new law. This is going to make them go out of business but since they're among the worst of the bunch everybody's ignoring them."
"D'Awwwwwww. Poooo' babies." Abby coos as she walks through. "They can't use their usual high-handed tactics and have to work to sell homes."
"Yep. The stupid bitch who tried claiming we stole the land from her sued to get her judgment overturned. The judge heard the case and doubled the judgment against her so she's wailing."
"Own damn fault."
"But we didn't get the land away from them. . .I shouldn't have to pay her money." Josette says in a whiny fingernails on the chalkboard voice. "Whole damn family needs their asses beaten for their stupidity. Their daughter had a wailing fit against the school she attends, she'd made sure one of the other girls in her class got a bad assignment when they had to spend a few days at a local business for some class project. This way she got a cushy assignment where she could lord it over everybody. The girl got involved in something that made the national news for a week straight and she's wailing that that attention should have gone to her."
Everybody rolls their eyes. "Yeah, the other girl's going to a good university and wants to make something of her life. This one just wanted to sit on her ass and have somebody else do the work. Now she's got to work with her parents in prison for years. If they get out they'll be working menial jobs too. Just like her."
"Are the realtors still wailing about not getting everything they wanted in their own dimension?"
"Yessssss." Richard says in disgust. "They tried suing and got laughed out of court. So they have to put their big boy pants on and make roads and bring in the other services they'll need before they can start selling the land. They're wailing that they won't make as big a profit that way and trying to make the government do it. The government told them to shove it and threatened to pull the dimension from them and give it to somebody else."
"Wail like the little babies they are?"
"Well hell, only the ones who wanted to make a quick buck and not work for it went for that, everybody else knew it was going to be a lot of work and they'd have to have a way for the mythical businesses that were lined up waiting to build to get there."
"That's why you don't have a mall in Death Valley." Josette snorts.
"It's not just land. . .it's location, location, location."
Josette moans and grabs Simone. "A casino on the land the school brought."
She blinks and grins. "Ohhhh yes, that would make them scream."
"Can you do it?"
"Calvin." Simone bellows. "Josette just gave us the perfect way to piss off the town." He walks into the room with Principal Madison. "A casino on the land the school owns." He blinks then laughs. "Not the land we own now but the government is selling a parcel that would be perfect." He sends off that information to Jane and puts the PADD away. "What brought that on?"
"The realtors whining about having to bring in roads and other services in their dimension for the mythical businesses they expect to be lining up to buy land. That morphed into why there's no malls in Death Valley."
"Or in the desert between California and Nevada." Anna says. "Because lord knows there was enough land there for anything they wanted to build. On the senior trips to Vegas we drove through the desert and there was nothing to see for miles around."
"Except for the brothels." Josette snorts.
Jane looks at Calvin as she gets the message. "The land the government wants to sell?"
"Look into it for a casino, mall, and hotel complex." He'd been sketching out ideas and passes them along to Jane. She looks at everything, smirks, and adds a few features. "Josette?"
"Josette. Brought on by the whining of the realtors dimension and Why you don't buy up huge tracts of land if there's nothing there to bring somebody there. That's why there's all that open space between Nevada and California in the desert and no malls in Death Valley."
Maria brings up a website and sends it to them. Calvin looks at it and nods. She gets on the phone to make an appointment to look at the land. "Did Richard look at the kids new farms?"
"Yes, and this way they can take a year off and grow other crops. They couldn't have before. .. now they have the money."
"Same with the sheep farm Josette gave the money to."
"That's the problem with commercial farms, they're often run on a shoestring and if something happens they go belly up."
"And selling at the school."
"And the casino complex. Especially if they have a separate restaurant besides the casino and hotel?" They sit down to make plans.
"How is the school?"
"Good, Josette has been running the replicators for Joyce for the students, both the new ones starting their classes in a week and the students already in dual enrollment. They have days to come in and get their books and supplies for their first classes of the year. Next year the last of the students will be starting dual enrollment and it will start lessening when the graduating students go home."
"Do we have all the supplies in to clean and paint the dorms when the last students graduate?"
"Just under half, the last supplies should be here just as they're needed." Maria says, checking a file on her computer. A glow heralds the arrival of Josette. Calvin looks at her. "Some asshole trying to claim they own the house and land, we're just squatting and he wants us evicted. I'm going to beat his stupid ass to death with a baseball bat."
A few hours later she drops into a chair.
"Get everything taken care of?"
"Yes, the little prick's in for a world of hurt. He finally blubbered that . .. noooo, he didn't own the land but a management company reallllllllyyyy wants our land and they promised him all sorts of money. The judge is not happy and I'm destroying the management company in the media. I dropped a dime and the government is going after them. . .and I'm suing the bastards for billions of dollars for trying to steal my land. Because surprise, surprise this is the same management company that has been contacting all the realtors. The housing court isn't happy since they brought this case up without any evidence, there was no papers drawn up. . .nothing. It just appeared on the cases for that day. The only reason I knew anything about it was an e-mail notice I got."
"I was going to say no paperwork came to us."
"Yeah, the judge is demanding a thorough investigation of all this people to find out how this happened. I'm leaning towards a hacker myself. Either somebody who isn't really that good since the paperwork was real bad or somebody working for them but they're also working against them."
The news is on every station that night with the footage of people being led off in handcuffs making the news the next day. A government agency is tearing their offices apart and horror stories about how they'd stolen land from other people start emerging.
"So anyway, they're in a shitload of trouble with the authorities." Josette says when she comes back to Haven. "As in never seeing the light of day except through prison bars ever again after centuries paying off judgments against them. They're keeping very quiet since citizens are demanding accountability and the government's listening to them instead of the 'right' people."
"Meaning they can't bribe 'em to ignore irregularities anymore." Alexander snorts.
"You know. . ." Alan says slowly. "There were instances of houses going up in foreclosure sales that didn't have loans. They swore it was an accident and people were just rubberstamping them but now. .."
"It might have been an attempt to steal them? Wouldn't surprise me in the least. Hell, they could have used the whole mortgage problem to do whatever they wanted."
Josette snorts. "There's tons of empty streets in big cities all over America, if they'd get off their asses and clean them out they would have all the land they wanted. They complain about some places not knowing where their food is coming from, bring in grocery stores and other places."
"Not enough profits, they want the big money of multiple stores in a mall. Not one monthly rent from a store that's actually helping the community."
"Welll yah," Anna snorts. "A feel good feeling doesn't put money in our pockets."
Josette slides into her seat in the government building the first week of the new semester. "Anything new we need to talk about?"
"Not on Haven, are people pouting on Earth?"
"Yes, whiners who were bitching that we should have given them the land were asked if they would have. They blustered of course they wouldn't have then went 'ooohhh' and shut up." Principal Madison sighs.
"We were talking about this after we came back Thanksgiving. We've been getting extra every year as more students graduate. Next year we'll get double when the first of the three years graduates. If we run low they'll buy more. And so on until the last year when the last students and employees head home. We shouldn't need them, they've been good about checking the numbers and sending out enough." Principal Madison nods.
"How long is the school out there going to be open?"
"Three years, including this one. They stopped getting younger students before we did because we got all the university classes."
"Are all the elementary schools closed now?"
"A good eighty percent of them, the rest don't have sixth grade as part of their middle school. I know some elementary schools are K-2 but that's just stupid." President Bartlett rolls his eyes.
"That was overcrowding, that's why you had third graders in middle school and seventh or eighth graders in high school."
"And some schools needed to be torn down." David snorts. "That one school by the Tower." Josette nods. The others look at her. "Sideways tuning fork, k-5 in the handle. . .cafeteria and gym in the middle, seventh and eighth grade in one prong and high school in the other with the high school library between them. They were trying to pass a millage because the elementary section wasn't passing inspection now. They didn't have room for sixth grade in the elementary, they had them in portable classrooms outside." Principal Madison moans. "They'd put up a new middle school years ago for sixth through eighth grade but for some reason they were going to tear down the elementary section and bring back the middle school students, putting them back in that other prong with the elementary students going to the other school."
"If they didn't have the room for them to begin with, why bring them back?" President Bartlett moans. "And what about the high school classes?"
"No clue. . . they want to put up a new gym in the school yard, making it open to the public so they can get grant money from the state."
"That doesn't fix the problems, that just moves them around."
"Exactly. If you need a new building, put up a new building." David snorts.
"They tried that several years before according to somebody, the millage didn't pass. They're hoping all these changes means this one does."
"I can't see it passing. . .yes, you're taking care of the elementary but you're hurting the other grades."
"Exactly, they've only got ten classrooms for three or four grades? Something's got to give."
"Ten? For the entire high school?"
"Maybe twelve? Plus the shop class and one used as a study hall." Principal Madison shakes his head. "That's why so many public schools are failing. Dad said something about a textbook expo?"
"University classes this time. They're getting in a section on texts about the zero-population period. There's rumors of texts about the realtors and the management company too."
"Either history for punishing them for their shit or psych to see why they went so bad."
"Mommy and Daddy said they were special and could do whatever they wanted." David coos.
"Or their parents wanted to be their best bud and not their parents?" President Bartlett says dryly.
"And sometimes they just don't grow out of the terrible twos stage."
Back at the dorm Josette looks at the shelves of bags for quilts, empty bags ready to be filled again and then the remaining quilt ideas in the notebook and the number of books she can make yet.
"Heading to the stores to get stuff for more quilts?" David asks, coming up behind her.
"That's what I was trying to decide."
"How many more books?"
"Seventeen, I'm just over halfway through them. I've got five started but they're nowhere near completing."
"What about the ones from the last set?"
"Those are the ones I started first."
The next morning Sue walks into her store to find the tables full of piles of fabric and the remnants bin full of partial bolts with more piled beside it. She looks around and smiles as she sees Josette coming out of the back room with replacement bolts that are piled on the counter.
"I was running out of quilts for the books."
"How many yet to go?"
"Seventeen. I'm just over halfway through the books. And I started with the quilts from the last batch."
"I thought you were getting them out quicker than usual." Josette starts putting everything in the bags as she scans labels, sighing at the total even with the discount before they start measuring the remnants, putting them in the bin, and putting the new bolts out. The store officially opens and Marilyn chuckles as she walks in. "Josette?"
"Running out of quilts for the books. She finished the ones from the last set first."
"Is this all your quilts now?" Agatha asks a couple hours later when Josette pays for her purchases there.
"Until the damn bunny jumps me again."
"Got any more books started?"
"Last of the old books?"
"Debut this year in the other dimensions."
"Are you going to start with the new ones right away?"
"No, I'm waiting at least a year." The others nod. "Those in the know know I have more books that I'm holding back. I'm not the only one. Even if it's a niche market we don't want to glut it. And see how many books are brought in to be signed even with no books debuting." Nods from everybody in earshot.
Back at the dorm Josette fills the shelves and nods in satisfaction.
"Is this it for the quilts?" Alice asks, looking over everything.
"Until the damn bunny jumps me again."
"How many more books?"
"Seventeen, I started with the ones I had completed from the last batch."
Josette snorts as she reads a databurst a few days later. "We knew that was going to happen when you base your economy on one thing."
"Saudi economy take a shit because they depended on oil for everything and the rest of the world isn't buying it anymore with alternate power?"
"Yep. They're going from owning a large chunk of other countries to other countries owning them. The colony dimension was their last hope in getting back on top and they're not buying any. Drying cow and horse patties for fuel to supplement the wood is the wave of the future there."
"Do they use the fake wood?"
"Yes, the government has brought tons of it since it works both in cookstoves and fireplaces."
"Are they heating barns?"
"Very. . .very carefully. A stove put away from possible hoof strikes."
"Better that then the houses that were one or two rooms with the animals in one room and the humans in the other."
"That would be miserable. The dorm is bad enough over the winter with the air scrubbers and enough room to spread out in. And opening a window a crack for five or ten minutes for fresh air when it gets too bad."
"And fans when the bathrooms are used."
The next few weeks pass and Josette snorts as she reads the databurst after coming back from taking her first tests in Eureka.
"Don't think so dickhead." Josette sends a scathing response to the asshole demanding they stop paying women and men the same pay for the same job, then carbon copies that to his boss and the media, smirking as the uproar in the media over the next few databursts has him desperately trying to form a response that doesn't make him look like a 'total' women-hating bastard.
"What a moron."
A couple days later Josette rolls her eyes. "Oh god, isn't that the standard excuse for bad behavior?"
"Lemme guess, blubbering about how he doesn't know why he says these things? Even though he had plenty of chances not to write down and send that e-mail demanding we stop paying men and women the same amount for the same job?"
"Yep, women's groups are up in arms. They've been getting 75 cents to every dollar a man makes for years, idiots like this is dragging them back to the days when women were barefoot and pregnant in the home. . . ."
"Always going to be somebody who only opens their mouth to change feet." Susan snorts. "I'm sure some new moron will knock him out of the top spot soon enough."
"How was the comicon?"
"Good. The school is getting a lot of interest from the academics and those who thought they were too good to read comics." David snorts. "Those people who thought it was a fluff school looked at the degrees and whimpered. They're planning on opening a limited number of online classes in the next couple of years as well as limited online ordering of the books and comics. They gotta pay about ten percent more than a student though."
"That will keep the school in business for decades." Alan snorts. Josette nods. "I noticed you looking through the catalog."
"Yeah,I might pick up the Harvey comics set. I remember reading Richie Rich, Casper the friendly ghost. . ."
"Wasn't that a movie?"
"Yeah, but like a lot of movies made from comics and movies it didn't do it justice. The movies from Josette's books were different since they made sure they stayed true to the source material and had good plots."
"Most of them were like that first asswipe in M'Lynn's office, just out to make a name for himself and hadn't even bothered to read the books." Josette snorts. "Then they're stunned when the expected money doesn't start rolling in."
"Lone Ranger, Dark Shadows. Green Lantern, Man from UNCLE. . .
"The new Fantastic Four." Susan rolls her eyes. "I don't even wanna know how they got around the Sue's white and Johnny's black thing if they were still brother and sister."
"His father was black too in the movie so maybe he adopted her."
The others nod and look at the time then walk to the dining hall through the tunnels.
Calvin looks up as Josette comes into his office a few weeks later. "Filled the shelves at the spa and the containers out here, the totals are on Jane's desk. Picked up the mail, supplies, and supplies."
"Thank you Josette. Are you going to be out long?"
"A couple months, I've got a book tour and I'm doing some shopping."
Josette comes back to Haven several weeks later. "God. . .people are stupid."
"Amen, but what brought that on?" Doc looks at her since the others are in the middle of classes.
"You remember that damn fool hotel manager I was muttering about, the one that canceled the reservations of the authors on that one book tour. . ."
"Then refused to return the deposits. The publishing house had to sue and he came whining when he realized how much money another hotel was making from the authors and convention."
"Then he wanted the money for himself, sued, lost, sued again, and lost again." Pat snorts.
"Yes, now he was picketing every hotel and business the publishers were using because of course the bad publicity would bring them to him."
"The only bad publicity was on him?" Alan snorts as he come through. Doc looks at him. "I just finished a class and they're grading the final."
"Exactly, he got arrested every time he tried that shit and the sales went through the roof. Now he's whining because he's got all those charges to face and his own lawyer is calling him a fucking fool. He was told to grow the hell up but of course he couldn't be bothered."
"Those type never do, they think they're soooooo much better than the rest of humanity then start whining when things don't go their way." Alan snorts. "But this means 'you can't pay men and women the same wages for the same job' should be kicked off the top of the 'you dumb fucker' mountain."
True to Alan's words the story is all over the media for the next few databursts.
"How many times was that moron arrested?"
"I believe the record is five times in one day. The hotel, each of the stores where authors were signing books, then the hotel again. This is what. . . day three? You've got another two or three weeks yet to go."
"Why did they keep letting him go?"
"Because this is a grey area in the law. He's not on their property so they can't have him arrested for trespassing, there's still freedom of speech even though he's picketing the wrong targets, and he's letting people in the buildings. I think he figures if he bothers enough people of course they'll tell the publishing house to give him business again. Moron doesn't realize the more people he pisses off the less business he'll get. Of course the hotel has disavowed any knowledge of what he's doing like in the MI movies."
"Why the fuck doesn't he picket the publishing company?"
"They have a restraining order against him since the little bastard kept standing outside the business wailing because they wouldn't do what he wanted. That should be talked about in the next databurst." The others shake their heads. "Well you know humanity, some of them still haven't grown up past the 'me, me, me, who are you to tell me no? Don't you know it's all about me?' stage. Unfortunately those are the ones that keep hitting the news because they need the attention and do stupid shit to get it."
"That's why there's so many 'reality' shows on tv." Principal Madison snorts from the front room."
"And so many drunk and stupid people on TMZ."
Josette goes into the replicator room and gets the supplies for the last three classes of the semester, putting everything on the tables back in the library when she's done.
"How are you on the second tv degree?" David asks, coming into the room with Alan.
"Four semesters with this one. I figure three years for a tv degree and two for a comic book." Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. She grins as a sphere appears next to her, a light spilling out of the opening that appears. Both boys can see inside and neither is surprised to see books as far as the eye can see.
"Something like that. An artificial planet that was all books. . . .inside and out. Huge sucker, the planet is in it's own dimensional space. . .this is just an opening."
David just shakes his head. "I know. I think every civilization has had stories about a place like this."
"Library of Alexandria times a hundred million billion trillion zillion?"
"How big is the library you inherited on Thomas's world?"
"I don't think anybody's ever found the end of it. If it has one." Josette shrugs. They walk to the dining hall for dinner.
The next morning she finds Thomas and Alex in the library at the compound.
"Has anybody ever explored the library fully?"
"No, though I know all the protectors have kept journals and maps of what they explored." Thomas looks at her.
"Yeah, we found that room."
"I'm not sure if there is an end to the library." Thomas says. He looks at Josette. "Why?"
She waves a hand, the sphere appearing next to her. Alex pokes his head in before his father can pull him away and whistles.
"Have you told the doctors about this?"
"I sent out messages asking if they had anything on . .." around them TARDISES start appearing. Various versions of the Doctor and Doc look at her, then the sphere, then back at Josette. Alex bites the back of his hand to muffle the cackle that so wants to escape him. That's the 'what did you do now?' look of a parent. His own father nods.
"I thought that 'do you know anything about this mythical library' was a little too innocent." the doctor from Momma Clarinda's dimension says.
"Oh yes." Says the doctor from Mom Clarinda's dimension. They turn identical looks on Josette. The Doctor and Time Lord Doc are already looking through the opening. Josette sighs and waves everybody inside.
"The ships? The fact I'm been selected by Earth's library? Or the fact that I have Mara's book gift? Which I think is more important than she let on but since I've got my own secrets it's not that big a deal." The others nod as they look behind them. The opening is now in the middle of a large room filled with books. "I'm going to have to start working on my languages. Once I figure out what languages they are."
"How big is this?"
"An entire planet according to the stories. An artificial one like the moon the islands are on."
Josette nods. "The entire planet is hollow, they started on the inside once they ran out of room on the exterior. They put the entire thing in it's own dimensional space for safekeeping, that's why there's only been rumors of it." The doctors and Thomas nod. "Because small minds would have tried to destroy it since they couldn't control it."
A couple months later Josette slumps onto the couch.
"Get everything done?"
"Finals. Took care of the other planets recycling. The last of the school's recycling will go on the ship right before we leave. The orders are on the ship to take out along with the stuff for the school."
Josette is waved into Joanne's office with a grin. "Did they ever get that twit hotel manager taken care of?"
"Yes, the judge strongly suggested he seek counseling after he was told to grow the fuck up and leave us alone. That includes staying away from the stores our authors are signing books at and the hotels where they're staying."
"Oh I bet that went over well." Josette snorts.
"As well as expected. He had a howling wailing fit in the courtroom. The court had him examined by a psychiatrist and they agreed with everybody else. . .he's a whiny fool." Josette sniggers as they talk over the tour and book sales, upcoming books, and other stuff before she heads back to the manor.
Calvin is there and lays out all the information on the land where the hotel, casino, shopping center, restaurant, and farm market is going, the others making suggestions.
Josette blinks when they come back and find Doc, Mara, and the others at the dorm talking to Doc.
"Josette Kiriko Takahawa." A familiar voice purrs. Josette looks behind her and grins at the fifth doctor from Momma Clarinda's dimension. "Awwwwww." David laughs. "That's the 'I just found out what you were doing young lady' voice and since they already know about your new toy I'd say somebody found the DVDS in the building." Josette sniggers then looks at Doc and the others. "We want to add some things to your Dorm, are you in the middle of anything right now?"
"No, the summer semester doesn't start for a couple weeks and I'm only one taking classes anyway. . .unless Dr. Blake is talking to David about being an annoying brat and making him finish his degree."
"You might need to stay at the ranch for a few weeks."
"I got a place I can take classes there." Josette shrugs. "Not like I'd planned on getting in many this summer with the offworld harvests coming in hot and heavy in a couple weeks."
"How many did you get in last semester?"
"41 between the three systems?" Josette counts off degrees. "Yeah, I picked up an extra semester to finish a degree. Otherwise it would have been twelve classes on teacher, eight on the school computer, and fifteen on the one from Granda's school."
"What degree did you finish?"
"Apartheid from the sosh school. I'm finishing a degree from the history school on plane crashes this fall but it's a three degree set. There's a set on the history of aviation I plan on signing up for next."
"What was Calvin grumbling about?"
"Some asshole trying the same shit with him that they did with me, getting the land away from them by any means necessary. Legal or otherwise. Then whining like little babies when the judge tells them no. Some moron doesn't wike the plans for the new land. . .or rather doesn't like the idea of anybody but him having the profits from the casino, hotel, and whatnot."
Everybody rolls their eyes. "Sour grapes."