Josette looks over the new additions to the retreat building in satisfaction, walking through them with the builders and the women running the retreats before sending off the last payment. A truck comes up and supplies start coming off, being moved to various rooms. A furniture truck is pulling up as Josette heads off.
"So that's it." Josette says, slumping onto a couch in the mansion. "Renovations are done, the last payment was made, and supplies and now furniture was being moved into the new areas when I left." She looks over her shoulder at Doc. Who'd come out when the monitors at Headquarters had alerted him to a ship arriving.
"Is Calvin expanding the stores at his school?"
"Yeah, much to the annoyance of the school board in town. They've stopped suing trying to get him to stop, now they're just sulking because their school can't compete once students get old enough to choose. Not that many parents will want* to pay money for their children to attend his school this early."
"And most children would rather stay with the teachers they've known all this time."
"Yeah, I can't see Granda opening the school for one or two students. Even when we had students from the planets, we had at least eleven students in a classroom."
"And like the students here for a while, you had the same teachers the whole four years your school was open."
Meanwhile Calvin looks at the list of additions he'd planned on making to the school over the zero-population period and nods in satisfaction. Most of them have been accomplished while the rest will be ongoing projects over the next several years.
In town a meeting of the town council is happening.
"Why the hell was the emergency fund drained over the zero-population period? We knew we'd need it for extra money with so many deaths meaning less taxpayers."
"B. . .bu . . .buh I was sure that with the improvements it would bring more people to the area and the fund would quickly be filled again."
"And did it?" Somebody else asks dryly.
"Noooooooo." He wails.
"And now we need the money and don't have it."
"Can't we get the money from the other areas?"
"No dumbass, they're all bare bones now. . .that's why we needed the fund."
He grabs the budget trying to find money being wasted and whines deep in his throat.
"Would take years to refill the fund."
"Ditto. And so would raising prices on the services the city provides, we couldn't say it was for improvements. . .we're cutting services."
"Can we request money from the state?"
"No, because they'll want an accounting of what happened to our surplus."
"But I was so sure that people would flock to the area to live once they saw all the improvements."
"What improvements? There's not a damn new thing here that would make anybody come running to the area."
"Th . ..the. . .the credit union at the school?"
"The one nobody's a member of? The one sitting empty? The one every town around us is sniggering about? That credit union?"
"But . . .but . . .but the people who talked me into it swore we'd have plenty of interest in it."
"They lied . . .so they could get a fool like you to pay for it."
"Do we have any options?"
"Nothing that wouldn't lead to dumbass here being arrested for fraud since he didn't have the permission of the rest of the board to use that money."
"But it was going to bring people into the area." He wails again. . .because of course if he says it enough it will have to come true.
"You didn't clear it with the rest of the board because we'd have said no. You might bleat it was with the best of intentions but all you did was throw our money away."
"Is there anything we can sell?"
"Nothing that would bring in that much money."
"Can we borrow the money?"
"We don't have anything big enough for collateral. And where the hell would we find the money to pay the loan?"
"What about the land outside town?"
"We sold it. That money went into the emergency fund."
"So that's it." Calvin says a couple days later as Josette plans on heading back to Haven. "The town council is throwing up their hands and wailing about not having any money. They called in the state who is looking over all the budgets for the last decade or so. . .because emptying the emergency fund didn't happen overnight." Josette nods. "It's only the fact that he was trying to make improvements to bring in people that kept dumbass out of a jail cell."
"So the state's taking everything over? A step to hopefully keep the town council from declaring bankruptcy."
"Yes, did this happen in your dimension?"
"Not around us, though California's state budget was strained way back when I went to the school. . .California was more than happy to let me be Massachusetts problem. Josette said there was a few cities declaring bankruptcy in her dimension though, being put under emergency managers. One didn't turn out very well she said."
"And then there's normal cities trying to find money to handle all their necessities and failing."
"Yeah, even back in school you were hearing stories on the news of cities trying to cut pension funds."
"And the people who'd been working years depending on that instead of putting money away getting the rug yanked out from under them until the court told them they had to pay. They were also trying to change contributions to the funds."
"That's human nature. Nobody wants to put money in until they realize they might need it one day."
"Oh Christ. . .not again." Josette says when she's pulled back to Earth a few days after she's left. She returns to Haven an hour later cursing roundly. Calvin looks at her. "You'll know it when it happens." She says sourly.
"Fucking a-hole?" David asks dryly later that night.
"Yes, both of them. Dumbass wailing about losing the publishing house and how I'm taking advantage of him by making him work to try to buy back the business. I should give it and my books to him. . .for existing.' David rolls his eyes. "Yep, and dumbass is wailing about the changes I made to the retreat house. . .I have to give it back to him. It. . .it . . .it's not fair he can't live there on my money. The special interest groups that filed the lawsuits are being very quiet. . .they were stunned that old people could be crooks."
"Of course they were stunned. . .young people are always taking advantage of old people." Susan snorts. "They never want to talk about the parents that take advantage of their kids by running up bills in their names."
"They were allllllll . . .'running a publishing house is a lot of hard work, something. . .'"
"You'd never know the first thing about? Figures."
"Yeah, they finally saw all my books and art and realized that maybe, just *maybe* I might know the first thing about a little hard work."
"They're finding out how hard work really is. . .and don't like it."
"Nope, they want their cushy lives back. On my dime. . .and it's not going to happen. Dumbass is back in the medium-security dimension to pay off another judgment in my favor. . .wailing that his life is over. Because the court has had enough with them both and are refusing any cases brought on their behalf against me."
"Which they're wailing about?"
"Of course. . . the courts won't take any lawsuits from them. . . now they won't let them talk somebody else into suing me. It's not fair. Miserable old fools."
"How is dumbass coming on paying off his judgments?"
"He is so far in the damn hole he'll never pay them on his own, the medium security dimension is sending him to the work dimension to make more money to pay them off."
"Because god forbid the old fool stop causing trouble?"
"Amen." They're allowing him to make enough money for his fantastical funeral and to repay me everything I spent on his son. So he'll have the grand tombstone for him. Of course he can't have it there, he's going to have the casket exhumed so he can be reburied next to him."
"Because where he's buried now people have a long memory about what he did?"
"Yep. It's their fault his precious darling boy is dead. . . "
"And of course he's not doing the same for his estranged wife or daughter."
"Nope. He can't whine about injustices done to him about their deaths." Josette snorts. "They're buried in a nice cemetery that keeps up with all the plots, whether they have family or not. I sent money to a fund they have to help with the upkeep." David nods in satisfaction.
Josette looks at her PADD at the notice from the courts about the money coming in from her judgments.
"Only way you would have been paid for his stupidity."
"Yep. I'm sure the old fool was wailing about having to work* for everything he wanted. But the dumb fucker should be happy at getting more money in his account."
"Assuming he keeps out of trouble."
"Not going to happen. . .those type never learn from their mistakes." Susan snorts. "As Josette knows from how many times people sued to move to Haven, were turned down, and sued again."
"I'll know when it happens." Calvin says when Josette comes to the school to deliver socks and other stuff.
"Yep, at least dumbass can stop wailing about all his money going to other people in the medium-security dimension now."
"Did the other fool have to put more money in the account to pay down the judgment?"
"Nope, since the court knows he's never going to get off his ass and make a real effort to do it they stopped it. Of course he was crowing about it. . .until he realized he wasn't getting the business back or the money he'd been putting in the account and he is absolutely gutted about it now. . if . . .if . . if he knew the court was serious about him not getting the business back unless he paid the judgment he'd . . .he'd have made more of an effort." Josette mimes rubbing crocodile tears out of her eyes.
Jane snorts behind them.
"Yeah, the judge told him that he must think they're as stupid as he is if he thought they'd believe that crap. He was stunned nobody believed his bullshit."
"Old fool was the one in power too long, he could make people do what he wanted. Now he can't and he doesn't like it."
Calvin looks at Josette. "Are you keeping the business? With him gone?"
"Nope, I don't want it. We went to mediation, came up with a fair price for the business, and the family will be adding money to the account over the next couple decades. I'm still going to be getting a percentage of the profits. . .the great-nephew insisted. And that's not money going towards the price of the business. He insisted on that too." Calvin and Jane nod in satisfaction.
"Not their fault the man's a moron."
"Oh yes, dumbass is wailing again that his life is over. . .everybody's got to take care of him. Old fool doesn't realize he'll end up in a home for his own good if he keeps that nonsense up."
"Of course not, he expects everybody to pat him on the head and tell him what a shame it is everybody treats him so horribly." Calvin drawls. Josette sniggers and laughs. "Anything new?"
"Usual whining from people who think they're better than they are and we have to do what they want." Jane flips through the papers on her clipboard. "The fool who was trying to claim we didn't have the proper permits so we'd have to tear everything down got his ass kicked out of court when the inspectors proved we had the permits and we're not in the same damn county as him."
"Old fool was probably looking for a kickback."
"Probably. There's always going to be fools looking into what can you do for them instead of what they can do for you."
"Their job." Josette says dryly.
"The ones that fund homeless shelters and soup kitchens are doing well, there's not that much demand for them now. Food banks are quiet, with so many people working one or two jobs there's more money for food. Humane societies are good, with the zero-population period a lot of animals found 'furr-ever' homes." Jane says, checking her list. "We're donating to local ones and national groups. Puppy mills are a thing of the past now, the fines and jail sentences wiped them out. Pet stores either closed, get their pets from reputable breeders, specialize in fish or other pets, or have signs telling them to adopt from the humane societies."
Josette hits various drop-off centers before heading back to Haven, yawning as she flies back to the dorm.
"Are the sales at the spa slowing down with the zero-population period ending?" Abby asks when she comes into the building.
"Helllllll no." Josette snorts. "Not with all the classes and new stores. There's still whining about Granda trying to steal students but people are ignoring the idiots. People with some damn sense realize they're not going to open the school for one or two students and this early most parents aren't going to be wanting to pay money for their kids schooling."
"And they'd be leaving the teacher they had for so long, it'll be years before they need more than one classroom or teacher. No matter what the self-same morons want. . ." Susan's voice trails off as the doors across from them opens, Principal Madison standing there with a few familiar figures.
"Josette?" he says in a 'what did you do this time' voice that has everybody sniggering.
"Yes, we were grabbed and tossed in another dimension . . .again."
"Just after I got the judgment from dumbass last year for suing me trying to claim I stole the business from him. Doc and Professor Xavier jointly run a huge school for mutants and magic users. . ."
"You went to it?" He asks, his lips twitching. The cackling from the other seven tells him there's more to the story than that.
"Nope, they got brains and children or in my case grandchildren have to attend other schools to make sure there's no hint of bias." Principal Madison snorts. "If there's bias it's not from family members. Real teachers can treat every child under them fairly."
"Exactly, but this gives everybody an even playing field. . .supposedly."
"Josette went to every other school." David chortles. Principal Madison just gives him a 'And? of course she did' look. The visitors snigger, the kids had told them that Principal Madison was Josette's all but official adoptive father and it's obviously the truth.
"Josette, the business?"
"I don't want it, we've already entered mediation and came up with a fair price for it. The family's going to be using the money dumbass put in the account as a starting point, adding to it over the next couple decades. The great-nephew in charge insisted on still giving me a percentage of the profits, and that's not counting towards the purchase price. Again, he insisted on it to make up for the stupidity of his great-uncle and his butt buddy. The old fool was over the moon that he didn't have keep making excuses not to pay off the judgment, but was horrified that stopping the judgment didn't mean he wasn't getting the business back or the money he'd been putting away to pay me off. If. . .if. . .if . . .if he'd known the court was serious about him paying the judgment, he'd have made more of an effort.”
"He knew the court was serious about paying off the judgment, the only effort he made was in whining about having to work."
"And trying to get other people to sue to get the business back, don't forget that. Because he was the victim. . .no, there was no reason for him to lose both the business and his job running it." Josette snorts as she walks over to the door of Headquarters, poking her head inside. "To quote an annoying song, oops I did it again."
Doc comes to the door and just looks at Josette when he sees the visitors. "Not it, and if I ever find out who's dragging me hither and yon I'm going to have a serious talk with them."
"This was a school?" Professor Xavier asks a few hours later.
"Yes, when the kids were in school we were only a high school, in the years after they graduated we added an education center that handled they other grades. When we moved to Haven we still only accepted high school students. It wasn't until we were in contact with Dad's dimension. . ." Calvin and the others had come out early for one reason or another, "That we officially started taking younger children."
"My school allows students to start boarding in the fifth grade, when James' school became an adjunct of mine we started allowing students to board here in the sixth grade. Most parents don't want their children that far away that young. . .though there's always some." Nods from everybody.
"Officially started taking in younger children?"
"Our school has opened and closed over the years after the students we had when we lost Earth graduated, how long it was open depended on how many children we had from the planets. But once we started getting in contact with other dimensions we accepted orphans. . .including teachers and support staff. With so many students we had to offer classes at the school, not just the education center."
"Did they return home after schooling?"
"No, officially it was 'you're joining an established colony in a first step of colonizing new worlds, unofficially it was 'there's the door, don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out, you're orphans. . .nobody's going to miss you'. The government sent over tons of supplies, paid their schooling. . .including college, their housing, and were offering jobs to get them settled. They stayed in the dorms through their university degrees then headed to apartments that were already set up for them."
"We'd learned after having so many former students in temporary housing until we could put up apartments for them."
"That allowed them to pay down their schooling though. . .and put money aside for their homes and furnishings once they found out they got places in the lottery. We learned a lot from the mistakes we made then."
"And all the planets wanted to put up a complex when they started growing commercially so we've got plenty of housing."
"Are you magical?" Headmaster Doc asks after dinner when he joins Josette's grandfather in Headquarters before a meeting of the others. Meanwhile Charles is talking with his other selves.
"Yes, but it's not my major focus."
"Father training us to fight evil didn't allow us to have the mindset for magic to come naturally. While that leads to less accidents than magic users who . . ."
"Go with the flow and end up having to be pulled out because they lost their footing and were nearly dragged under?"
"Exactly. They think it's all fun and games until a serious incident makes them settle down and take it seriously."
"While the by the book students need to loosen up a little."
"Usually. Some do need the help."
"How did you become a school principal? From the teasing Josette was getting, there's more than one school."
"There is. . .and it's a long story. Did you have a vampire council in your dimension?"
"Yes, they're based on the fourth planet."
"Are you . . .?" He taps his lip. Doc's smile is a little toothy.
"I am. . .so are Josette, Bruce, and David here. Josette inherited my vampire gene even though neither of her parents did, David received multiple vampiric blood transfusions, so did Bruce. Josette became a vampire naturally, David and Bruce were turned."
Headmaster Doc makes a decision and starts glowing softly, Doc smiles and does the same.
"I know that Wolverine feels very paternal towards Josette but . . ." Katrina looks at her husband in the bathroom mirror where they're getting ready for bed.
"He's Clarinda's father in their dimension."
"Ahhhh. that makes more sense."
"Okay, there's a story about how we met since I'm not your grandfather here. And the way the others lips were twitching. . ." Logan looks at Josette. She starts laughing as she looks between him and Professor Xavier.
"Is Remy LeBeau one of your group?"
"You, Mr. Lebeau, and Logan came to the school our freshman year. You were looking at shutting down the school after taking the students you wanted because our school was a school, a student might get some help with his mutation from a teacher or student who had a similar one but Principal Madison wanted the students to be students. . .not warriors." Professor Xavier sighs but nods. "Earlier we had to fight for our rights."
"As did we, it was only after something bad happened that Mutants got the same protections as others. We got a lot of students who had purely physical mutations and others that had been in problems with other schools. At that time our mental link was just beginning to form and my mutation was purely limited to knowledge absorption. You. . ." she looks at Professor Xavier, "told Principal Madison I'd have to go to a normal school once ours was shut down. He bluntly told you hell no. You went to the government that the students weren't being trained in their abilities but since you weren't going to take all the students. . .that was back when 40 to 50 students a year was a good class size. .. and since you weren't going to give all of us a proper education like Principal Madison was you were told no. The others said that even back then I was the queen bee on the school since I'd been the junior dorm monitor under Professor Druid for a couple years and that was my first year as the senior dorm monitor with the twins as juniors. You tried to get Logan to scare me off but . . ." Josette smirks. "It didn't turn out like you expected."
"You said back then 40 was a good sized year. . .how many students did you have?"
"A couple years after we graduated they started getting bigger and bigger when our school got more notice, when Alan and the twins younger brothers enrolled they were part of a 200 and 400 incoming student year, after that they just started getting bigger and bigger and *bigger*, when we lost Earth we had over 40,000 students in all four years and when the school closed after the last of Granda's students graduated our last year was 6,002 students. The year before that had been over 35,000 and that was just one year."
"The first time we fought I was in my science class. . ." Clarinda snickers at Professor Druid's assertion that Josette did not need victory music as the others led her off. She's cackling when her father is turned purple but starts cussing when she finds out Remy had discovered her working in the school's laundry to help pay for her schooling."
"It was my first time working by myself, the student who had had the job before me was on his senior trip, when he came back he'd have his finals and be packing up his room to leave. It was only five hours twice a week then, the fall it moved to five hours four times a week when we had more students on the second floor of the dorms." Abby looks over and pulls out a scrapbook, showing the others what the dorms looked like then. "Our senior year it went to six hours four nights a week and an eight hour shift on Sundays. By then we had the first and second floor occupied and students on the third floor. The semester we graduated the school started work on the new girls dorm, five floors and twenty-four student rooms on each floor with a monitor on each floor instead of Anna, Abby, and I taking care of the entire girls dorm while David, Michael, and Alexander handled the boys dorm."
"Just the girls dorm?"
"They started construction on the boys dorm the following year. we were going to be full first. The girls moved to the new dorm that fall, starting with the girls on the top floor since they'd mostly been there the least amount of time."
"So they should have the least to move." Headmaster Doc says. "And give the others time to pack their rooms up."
"Yes, the weekend after the third floor girls moved the second floor girls went over, then finally the first floor girls."
"Why not all at once?"
"The floor monitors weren't in place yet and it gave them time to pack everything. Because some girls had a lot of stuff. . .tvs, radios, dvd players, pets. . ."
"Kennedy would have demanded everybody move her stuff."
"Kennedy was a grade A bitch."
"A girl in our class, she was actually a year older than us but had failed all her classes the year before. The only reason she didn't get expelled was because her Daddy paid to have the dining hall renovated. A girl in our year. . .her older brother paid to have the health center renovated. Kennedy had a fit about having to share her bathroom with a new student and threw a punch, her mutation was strength and she nearly put her fist through a solid wood door. The other girl's mutation allowed her to get away from her and she was thrown in a 'time-out' room. She was given schoolwork and ripped it up, the school psychologist we had at the time kept trying to wipe her nose and ass . . .telling her it was everybody else's fault."
"Yes, he was fired and she went to a rehab facility for her attitude problems. Daddy was wich so she thought she could do whatever she wanted. She soon learned otherwise when Daddy wiped his hands of her and she had to work like other people."
"Was that all between you and Logan?" Professor Xavier asks dryly. Josette's twitching lips tell him of course not. The rest of the story is told and Clarinda has slid out of her chair she's laughing so hard at the story of her father 200 feet over the ground, cursing a blue streak and she can just imagine the look on his face when her daughter had calmly asked him to repeat what he'd just said so she could make sure she'd wrote it down right. Her 'I said please' makes her laugh even harder. "There was a power outage as we were lowering him and we had to take off to handle the dorms. . .during power outages the dorms are locked down and all the students are inside. If it happens during classes, teachers would be bringing their students to the dorms and we'd be checking off names to make sure everybody is there, just like we did nights when that damn fool student set off the smoke bombs in the boys dorms our sophomore year." Headmaster Doc looks at them and they tell them what happened. "Young adults need their sleep, having it interrupted isn't good for them.
"During storms. . .times like that when there's a power outage, and when the somebody gets drunk and stupider and phones in a threat. During power outages you hoped the hell you had a way to get into your room since they had the locks like hotels."
"Not while we were in school, the only buildings with them were the ones renovated by students families. They were added to the new dorms, we had one added to the dorm by David's godmother, and the other buildings either had the small ones that ran on gas or had bigger ones that ran on propane added as each building was renovated."
David cackles. "Which made some of the students pout because thanks to the generators and the tunnels that link all the buildings they still had classes." Both headmasters snicker despite themselves.
"Be damn glad the school had them as many times as we lost power." Josette snorts.
"All the times you lost power?"
"The first time was 'the storm of the century' in the media, those of us who lived through it called it something a lot worse. We had a storm just squat in the area and dump snow on us for weeks. The front of the dorms were buried." Abby finds pictures of the school and they shake their heads. "No use trying to dig out while it was still snowing, garbage was piling up and we shoved it into an empty room since we didn't have the replicator then. When maintenance was able to start digging out the garbage went outside the front of the dorm or in the tunnels if the doors were buried. The National Guard had been bringing in supplies for us. The head of the electric company refused to start working on the lines, saying that generators meant they couldn't do anything. The other power companies had no problems with generators, just that moron. After nearly a month without power and several days of the electric company getting fined for refusing to work on the lines the governor had him arrested. Some of the schools were out nearly two months as lines were worked on. We got our power back fairly quickly since we were on the list of people who needed it back first with all the boarding students. Otherwise without the generators we'd have had to shut down the school and send the students home."
"At least the schools didn't have to shut down and students start the year over again that time." Michael mutters as he comes out of the bathroom. The others look at them. "It was a few years later."
"It had been a bad winter of revolving power outages. We just got our power back from one when the power went out again. This time though something had gone up at the plant and it would be six weeks until the new parts arrived and they could fix everything. Anything that didn't have generators shut down completely, including some of the buildings that only had the small gasoline powered ones because it would be too much money continually refilling them."
Headmaster Doc nods. "They're meant for limited outages, not continual use. Not even larger generators are meant to be in use so long continually."
"Yep, so the six weeks are nearly up and we find out they'd never even ordered the parts. They hadn't thought the damage was so bad and had been trying to fix it in house. . .saying they didn't have the money to order the new parts. The man who'd been put in charge after the other dumbass was arrested lost his job and somebody new took over. But it would be a good six months between the time the power had went out and the time it came back on. It was January when the power went out and it was nearly July when the power came on permanently because when they started installing everything they found more damage then they first thought. The power would be on. . go off, come on again, go off. . .be on a few days. go off."
"Oh lord, students would still be making up the previous year when the new year started." Professor Xavier moans.
"Exactly, seniors were allowed to take their senior trips since they'd already paid for them and they were allowed to take their finals. If they passed they graduated, if not they started the year over again in September. The third time the power went out the schools were already closed."
"The nonsense with the Department of Education?"
"Yes. Anyway, we got power back three days later, the girls who couldn't get in their rooms had cleaned up the rooms they were using on the second and third floor and tossed their sheets and blankets down the laundry chute. Later that night you arrived at my back door, waving a handkerchief as a white flag. Seeing Mom's picture you realized who my family was. . .that was the first I'd heard that I even had family."
"James called me but since we were involved in something at that time it was a while before I found the call. And I thought it was a grandchild from one of my . .. adventures. It was the kids first semester of university when I was called to the school to apologize for the misconduct of the former board in denying Josette a scholarship for her last name. I knew Josette when we first met. .." Headmaster Doc nods. "and when we went to her room to find the pictures she'd taken of rocks she thought had writing on them and tried translating from Johnny's books."
"Monk." Headmaster Doc sighs.
"I saw Clarinda's photo, the three familiars, and remembered James's phone call. It took me several days to get hold of you, it was by accident that you, me, the kids, and Principal Madison were at the tv studio at the same time."
"And you were sneaky, Doc was waiting on the DNA test to come back. . .you wrote a letter telling me they were my grandparents. So we already knew by the time they came back out."
"How long were you working in the laundry?"
"Until the first semester that we had four dorms, by then Principal Madison had hired out the job. I was working with two women showing them the ropes, once he knew they were handling it okay he 'fired' me by paying me through the spring semester. By then I would have my library science bachelors and I took over running the library. The next year the sheets and towels went to the commercial laundry in Boston they worked for because we were adding four more dorms and we'd outgrown the eight commercial washers and row of dryers in the back room."
"That was also the time the job of putting together packages of laundry for the new dorms and putting together the first year books and supplies for the new students were taken over by temp workers."
"Sets of laundry?"
"Bottom sheet, top sheet, and pillowcase. Each student got two, they used one and tossed it down the laundry chute when they were told and opened the second set. The next day they'd go to the storeroom and get a new set. Towels were two hand towels, two bath towels, and two washcloths."
"And they got two sets of those too."
"Yep, before it was taken over by temp workers the four of us girls usually worked five or six hours a day running sheets and pillowcases through the folding machine and making sets. I can't complain about the money, while Josette was the only one officially getting a paycheck, the school counted how many hours she'd been punched in there and paid us the same amount."
"Only you girls?"
"Yes, the boys were usually busy with the construction. Once we were done with the stuff for the dorms. . .including extra for the older dorms to replace stuff that was getting worn out we started putting together packages of books and supplies for the incoming students. That usually took a month. The boys helped us when we worked at the bookstore when the students signed up for the new semester. They'd hand over their class list and we'd get their books, they just had to get their supplies so the lines kept moving pretty quickly."
"That's the way to do it, otherwise with as many students as you had the line would be out the door."
All of them nod. "We had a variation of it when we were replicating books for the students going for dual enrollment. One of us would run the class list and bags to Josette, she'd replicate everything and we'd bring them back to the student. Of course they were only allowed to take one class at a time, when they were done with one they went to the office and got the books for the next class."
The school is investigated over the next several days, the newly put together dorms getting head shakes from both men. "I can't imagine having that many students."
"I can't imagine having to shut down your school down because you won't have children for nearly three decades. Even those years we have small classes. . ."
"We still had children. Though that small of a class size will mean teachers being able to devote more time to their students."
"I do like that they're opening the school to the town." They can see people walking into the textiles building for a class.
"They've been doing it for years according to James. Calvin's school has just as much experience at it, they've recently built a textiles building and are offering classes to the public. There's a waiting list for those and the language classes the school offers also."
Josette looks at the message on her PADD, blinking and reading it again before grabbing Bronwen and Calvin.
They read the message, having a similar response to Josette.
"It . . .makes sense." Calvin says finally.
"Is there enough free land?"
"Yes, and the state is trying to unload it. That's how you were able to buy so much land, it was vacant from the last zero-population period."
"And it would cut out shipping prices." Josette sends a message to the people over the retreat, getting excited babble back a couple days later.
"Ohhhhh. .. " Professor Xavier says as he walks out onto Calvin's school grounds.
"Yes, each school has it's own charm." Calvin says, having come back a week ago his time though he'd just left after the Harvest Festival, Haven time.
"Stores?" They can see a building going up and one being worked on.
"A store that sells fabric, yarn, and jewelry making supplies for our classes. James's school doesn't have one since they've got both Sue and Agatha so close." Both had met the two women during the Harvest Festival. "We opened a national chain bookstore at the same time."
"Open for years."
"Did your students have jobs?"
"Yes, having a branch of the bank here was very helpful. ..both for the scholarship students and the ones who had jobs."
"What was your percentage of boarding students?"
"Usually hovering somewhere between 90 and 95 percent, with the rest living nearby. While the school in town was whining about losing students to us over the last couple of years, they're not our major student body."
Josette comes back with Jane a few hours later.
"Perfect, and you might be interested in this. It's nearby." Jane hands over a folder, Calvin looking it over and smiling. "Are they interested?"
"Once they found out who was going to be moving into the area and where I work. We've been thinking of being associated with a university for a while."
"Which will have the whiners up in arms in full force. . .until they realize that you're not going to be opening the school for one or two students." Maria rolls her eyes. "They've got a good reputation and are one of the schools that always use the zero-population periods to go over classes and update textbooks. Teachers have been there for years and they routinely mentor younger teachers who transfer to other schools."
"I think they were a little overwhelmed by the schools." Susan snickers after everybody heads home.
"I'm sure we felt the same way when the incoming classes started getting bigger and bigger and bigger." Josette says.
"Are we done with the offworld harvests?"
"Yep, today was the last of them." Josette disappears and reappears a few seconds later. She heads off and comes back an hour later.
"God damn effing moron."
"Dumbass in the medium security dimension?"
"Other god damn effing moron. This one wailing in front of the publishing house that his life was over. . .he was going to kill himself if I don't give him back his job and the company. . . Oh. . .and my books too. Don't forget that. The police who were called to deal with the fool were not happy to hear about that. . .oh not at all."
"Christ, how goddamn stupid is he?"
"Oh I know. . .they walked off telling him to kill himself." Susan sniggers despite herself. "He howled about that and tried throwing himself at one of them. They threw his ass in a 72 hour hold at the hospital, but they've already said he's not mentally ill. . .just too fucking stupid to live. They're talking about putting him under conservatorship in a home if he doesn't stop pulling this shit." David rolls his eyes. "Yeah, I know. . . not going to happen on his own."
"Is dumbass settling down in the medium-security dimension?"
"Fuck no, now he's got the money to try to push his weight around. . .before that he couldn't. Not that he's getting anywhere, everybody hates him for his stupidity. He's still got to work. . .he wailed when his money didn't mean he could sit on his ass."
"Shouldn't that old fool have realized that by now?"
"Oh you're just saying that because I don't have any money. Now he's got money and is whining that people still aren't bowing, scraping, and kissing his ass. He's still looking for that magical number that will let him come home."
"Dumb fucker still doesn't realize he's never getting out of there."
"Ohhhh. .. .you're just saying that." Josette flaps her hand in a 'I know best' voice. "Dumbass still thinks he can just pick his life back up if he just makes enough money."
Josette howls with laughter during the next databurst. Doc takes the PADD she's holding over her shoulder and reads it.
"Dumbass whining because the cemetery won't let him put up that magnificent monument to his stupid son and himself. He's got to put up a normal headstone."
"Fuck no I'm not putting up that monstrosity on my land." Josette snorts a few days later when she's called before a judge. "He wants people to whine, weep, and wail over it when he's gone, he can find some other place for it."
"Do you live in the house that was given to you in the judgment?" the judge sneers. Josette's look makes him silently gulp. This isn't a kid he can just run roughshod over. . .the deep part of his mind that actually has sense is silently slapping him stupid. . .or should that be stupider.
"No, I turned it into a retreat for textiles people since there's a university nearby. Right now there's fifty-eight students and three teachers working on lacemaking projects."
"Is that why you added onto the home?"
"Yes, we've nearly tripled the space we had.. . that's why we're offering more classes."
Dumbass wails and trying throwing himself at Josette, getting jumped on by the authorities.
"So that's it. . .if dumbass wants to make a memorial to him and his useless son he's got to find land to buy and put it up, plus have enough money in a fund for upkeep and taxes."
"I didn't think that he was allowed to sue you anymore." Principal Madison says.
"Probably the people who made the headstone sued him because he refused to pay for it and he dragged you into the mess." President Bartlett rumbles.
"Exactly. He was howling about me turning his house into a business. . . the judge was a sneering bastard about me not having the property zoned and how I'd be facing massive fines and have it shut down until dumbass had to admit he'd done that himself. Fucking fool. He got lectured about his nastiness by the other judges, fool man thought he would run roughshod over me."
"That fool won't stop causing problems until somebody shoots him for his stupidity."
"Nope, he's wailing that he's got another judgment to start paying off. The police took him past his old house and he was wailing about not seeing a dime of the money coming in. Not that he'd ever lower himself to do something like that. Ohhhh. . .and he'd have added onto the house more than I did." The others make ooo la la sounds. "Yeah, so he's headed back to the work dimension to pay for the monument he created and buy a spot of land to put the damn thing up on, along with a fund for maintenance and taxes."
"Did they move his son yet?"
"No, and since he can't have the damn monument where he wanted it to lord over everybody he's wailing about not moving him now."
"Why can't they be buried on their own land? There used to be . .."
"Old family cemeteries. Yes, but they were usually grandfathered in because they were old."
"Yep, and you'd generally have to get special permission to add new bodies. The land would have to be zoned specially for it. . .that's why most cemeteries were outside town." The others nod.
"Dumbass pay for the land and whatnot?" David asks when Josette's returned from her midterms.
"Yes, all the meanwhile wailing about how everybody is being so damn mean to him. He's gonna sue to make them overturn their rules on oversized headstones. . .they'll be sorry. Not that the old fool's got a leg to stand on. Neither does that old fool judge who was going to sue because he got sanctioned for acting like an asshole in court. He got told to grow the hell up and stop being a miserable bastard."
"Ohhhh, and I'm sure that went over well."
"Yep, he's wailing that this is all an attack against him because he's up for re-election and his poll numbers are tanking because everybody knows what a miserable old bastard he really is. . .this just proves it."
"How is the new land coming along?"
"Good, the state is happy to get that land cleared up and developed. . it's been sitting empty for years but nobody wanted that big a parcel and rezoning it would be too much of a hassle. The universities that specialize in textiles are happy. . .they'll be dealing with less shipping if they can't drive to the complex themselves. Morons are wailing about Granda going into business with a university but people are finally beginning to realize just just because a school offers more classes they're not out to steal their oh so precious students. It's going to be years before he opens the school to students unless it's on a case by case basis."
"Even then it wouldn't truly be open."
"No, it would be more like how I was tutored before I started high school."
Principal Madison nods from where he'd just walked in the pocket doors. "Josette, supplies?"
"Tomorrow. Do we have any more empty containers to take back?"
"No, you picked up the ones we had last week."
Josette slips into the library at the school since Jane and Maria are on the phones and the door to Calvin's office was closed.
"What's going on?" Josette asks Monica who's sorting through trade journals.
"A couple of different things. The state sticking its nose where it doesn't belong. That old fool judge trying to find problems because you're associated with the school and getting his ass handed to him for his stupidity. This is the last nail needed in his coffin. He's off sulking. . .how can people actually do everything legally?" Josette snorts. Monica nods. "The school in town might not be opening. . . "
Josette is shaking her head when she returns to the school. "Long story, I'll tell everybody at dinner so I don't have to repeat myself."
"Excuse me . . .dumbass judge did what?" Professor Druid splutters at dinner.
"Dropped a dime to the state trying to find fault with the school because I'm on the payroll here. And I wouldn't respect his authority. Old bastard is now looking at 180 days in jail for his stupidity and he lost his spot on the bench. Never mind the election. . .He's out on his worthless little ass. His name is off the ballot and his team is scrambling trying to find somebody to replace him with or lose their spot on the ballot. Granda's already filed the lawsuit to slap him stupider for this."
"180 days?" Professor Eppes looks at President Bartlett and Professor Ziegler. They both nod.
"The state was not happy about his stupidity. He had a raging fit when they didn't find a damn thing so got more time tacked onto his sentence. Seems using his position for personal gain is a no-no. And the federal judges do not have a sense of humor."
"Yep, the school in town looks like it might not be opening. . .the state's scrambling to find money for all the schools. ..the town council can't give them any money, they're barely skinning through on what they have now and can't afford it. They tried passing a millage to pay for the credit union and got laughed at, they're trying for an emergency millage to pay for it but I don't see it passing, it's only five years but it would raise everybody's taxes too much. They're hoping for money from the federal government. . .the federal government is looking into turning the school over to us as another adjunct school. Since they'd been so lucky with us."
Principal Madison buries his face in his hands. "Yeah, Granda is just giving them a 'you have to be kidding me look'. If he does take over running the school they're going to have to hammer out a lot of details. Details the people in town won't be happy about."
"More emphasis on education and less on sports, bringing back art and music. Languages and science."
"Bringing back home ec, making it mandatory, and making it a whole year."
"Making the school years match."
"Having to look at the texts the school uses and either replace them with their own or find other ones for the earlier years."
"You damn fool, what is your problem that you did that?"
"But she got me sanctioned." He whines.
"Your damn stupidity by repeatedly being nasty to people in your courtroom got you sanctioned. She just wouldn't put up with your bullshit."
"But I didn't know he'd already had the land zoned for a home business."
"You had no damn business calling her in, the case was against him not her."
"But she could have let him put that monument up on the property. She doesn't live there." He sneers. Then gulps at the look of sheer hatred in his former boss's face. "Leave.them.the.HELL.Alone." He says through gritted teeth. "Don't contact them, don't threaten them, don't do anything against them but apologize for your blatant stupidity at the civil trial and hope like hell they don't get too big a settlement."
"They wouldn't dare sue." He huffs.
"They've already filed the paperwork jackass."
"But that's not fair."
"Neither was you 'dropping a dime' and trying to cause problems for their school because you got your feewings hurt." His former boss says mockingly. "Get the hell over yourself. . .it's not that damn difficult."
Dumbass wails louder when he gets the judgment, he'd refused to behave in the courtroom and gotten an additional three days tacked onto his sentence and been removed from the courtroom.
Josette yawns as she slides into her seat in the testing center after finishing her finals.
"How is the school situation?"
"The state and federal government really want Granda to take it over. They're offering a lot of incentive, paying all the students costs until the fifth year, then allowing them to either switch over to the other school and pay half or continue on at the school in town while still paying half. Parents will know this and will be opening accounts at the credit union where they should be putting money away for their tuition. There will be a refilling fund for the teachers for classroom supplies. . .no having to buy stuff with their own money." Dr. Stark nods in satisfaction. "And the students will be getting supplies at the beginning of each semester. . .the school now going year-round."
"Granda's got a list of them to look over, more worksheets in the classes. Adding a bookstore to the store and enlarging the library. If the state and federal government really want him to take it over, they're going to have to do it on his terms."
Josette Grover pokes her head around the pocket doors. "Do you have extra room, I picked up some strays on the way here."
"Who'd you get?"
"We were in Sheriff Carter's dimension, when he found out where we were going he insisted on coming along. And Dr. Stark came with him. Jack and the Doctor there insisted on coming with us when they found out where we were going. So did General O'Neill and Colonel Sheppard when they found out you have the ships. They're currently whimpering on the bus because we detoured over them." Josette smirks. "Yeah. Anyway, we detoured to Jacar and Jonathon's worlds. The fourth doctor came visiting just before we left, and so did one of my fathers."
Josette thinks a second, another hallway appearing. "Yeah, we got plenty of room."
Sheriff Carter chuckles as he drags O'Neill and Sheppard into the dorm. "You can talk to her later. Hello everybody." David waves a hand from the wall where he's talking to Alfred. "Alex is in his workroom, they'll let him know when he comes up for air." Sheriff Carter looks at him. "Alex Wayne moved to Haven years ago, there was an . . .incident on his world."
"Good or bad incident?" Sheriff Carter and Jack O'Neill sigh.
"Bad, very bad. A 'religious' group set off chemical weapons to sterilize everybody that didn't believe their brand of hate so they could still breed and take over. It got everybody."
"Ori." O'Neill sighs. Sheppard nods. "Genii." "Everybody under five and over 50 in the immediate area died. There was about a hundred people off the planet on a satellite who weren't affected but it wasn't enough to rebuild their world. But after they lost a good chunk of their population I found a planet that was stupidly getting rid of their orphans because the others were sooooo much better than they were because they had families." Everybody in earshot rolls their eyes or sigh. "Anyway, I brought out the orphans. . .including their schools and several hundred families that weren't that fucking stupid to their world. Many of them had been orphans themselves and ended up making their own families."
"The planet falling to pieces because they did that?"
"Yep, they'd shoved the scut work onto them and had to do it themselves now. They lost a lot of technology, orphans generally went for the harder degrees. Those classes went with the orphans."
"Proof humanity is stupid everywhere." Jacar snorts. Jonathon nods. "Their world is on par with Becka's, we did a lot of clearing out empty countries and cities did a lot of urban renewal, tearing down buildings that should have been demolished years ago."
"Tony is from her dimension, the coup morphed into a industrialist's pet scientists creating a machine that caused a massive EMP. . .on the scale of continents. It wasn't powerful enough to take out everything but it caused massive power failures that affected everything . . .as in not even batteries worked. Only the wind-up emergency radios with a light worked. Some of the time. They lost Europe and Australia to the machine and the rest of the world lost power multiple times before they finally took him out. He did it so he could make tons of money rebuilding."
"Sounds like big business. Lemme guess, the government swooped in and took the machine . ..not to destroy it oh no. To examine it."
"So they could use it on their enemies? Yep, the damn thing kept being turned on by every fucking fool who wanted things run their way. Finally some fool started tinkering with it because he thought he was so damn smart and fried it. Unfortunately he fried a lot of the remaining infrastructure with it. They lost a lot of the power grid, subways. airplanes, traffic signals and electronic signs on freeways, batteries. . .flashlights still didn't work unless they were the ones you shook or wound. They got solar panels back but otherwise. .. you name it, it fried thanks to that damn machine. And morons in big business went wailing because factories that were open were concentrating on stuff like water treatment and sewage plants, not stuff they wanted."
"Uh-huh, in other words they worked on stuff they needed, not stuff that would make them money." Jacar snorts.
"Yep." Josette drawls.
"What's their population?" Dr. Stark asks. "Losing two continents must have brought it down drastically."
"Hovering somewhere around a billion and a half. Our population was under a billion when the solar flares killed everybody left on Earth. And We lost nearly two billion people in the war."
Josette sighs and waves everybody into seats, the story of the 'Friends' of humanity, the war, and the loss of earth being told by everybody. Alex and his Dad had come in by then and they talk about what had happened on their world over dinner and afterwards.
Becka and the others had arrived by then and that turns to the talk about what had happened in their dimension.
"This shows you how easily things can go to hell in a handbasket and instead of just affecting Eureka or Atlantis, it affects an entire world." Sheriff Carter says when they go upstairs to their rooms.
"Yep." General O'Neill sighs. "So how different was their world than ours?"
"No Stargate, Atlantis was in contact with the vampire council in their world. Stargate, Stargate Atlantis, and House were tv shows in their dimension like with Xander. Twilight is a series of popular books. Both their dimensions I should say. They're ahead of us by a good bit, what had happened in our world. . .Nathan coming back with Alexander had happened while they were in high school. And from what I can gather now, that was decades*] ago for them."
"Atlantis was in contact with the vampire council?"
"Yes, Josette says the ships had been in contact with each other even scattered around the galaxies. When Atlantis says she'd bonded with Josette the others picked up and moved to Haven to meet her."
"Bonded?" Colonel Sheppard asks.
"It's not like with you where you have to have the gene to operate the ship and you have to be in the chair. Josette doesn't have the gene and while she's in the chair, it morphs into a chamber for takeoffs and landings. It's not like with you were you're wiped after being in the chair, Josette's okay. It's more she's a bystander watching everything while the AIs are in charge, she'll handle a lot of the little stuff. The ships don't need her in the chair."
"Can she fly the ship herself if needed?"
"Yes. And yes, I'm sure she'll go on a trip around the solar system on one of them while we're here."
In a room 4th, 8th, and Eureka doctor are talking to the their other selves, the time lord doctor arriving a few seconds later.
"Josette, I know you're a reader." Headmaster Doc says dryly. The others laugh and lead him to the door at the end of the hall he'd been eyeing.
"Oh my lord." Professor Xavier breathes.
"Each hallway has several rooms and there's more than one building. . . now. And this is just fiction."
"Plus movies, audio books, and cds."
They're led to another room. "This is all our non-fiction beyond textbooks and reference books from our degrees. Those go in another library."
"Josette?" Superhero Doc says in a too calm voice. David looks that way and sniggers. "Just find out how many degrees Josette took while she was out there?"
"Eighteen degrees in five years?"
"Eighteen degrees?" Headmaster Doc and Professor Xavier ask. David sniggers and leads them to the library, Doc moaning when he sees all the books and framed diplomass.
"First floor is our dimension, second floor is Clark's. Third floor is Calvin's while the fourth is theirs. Theirs is only one room so far since Josette's only taken classes at one school. Each hallway is a separate school, each room is an area. Yes, there's diplomas that seem to be the same, some are multiple degree sets while others are from different schools."
"Different schools came at it from different directions?"
"Good Lord!" Professor Xavier moans when they find Josette putting books, comics, and DVDS away.
"Sosh school that specializes in comics. One big part of it is when you are finished you will have mint copies . . .so you get two. One to read for classes and one to put away. I've graduated with 13 degrees and I've finished five more comic book degrees and a second degree on tv shows since then. I wanna get in two more comic book degrees and probably another tv degree before Granda starts giving me looks about graduating again."
"How do you handle graduations?"
"GD prints out diplomas every several years, Dr. Stark usually handing out the ones for the schools that didn't come up."
"How often do you finish a degree from this school?"
"Two years for a comic book degree, three for a tv degree since I have to watch the disks."
"That's. . ."
"Nine comic book classes a semester, a semester a semester for the tv. Because of all the disks. Yes, the others don't like me taking so many any more than you do." Professor Xavier chuckles. "The others get two or three classes in a semester."
"Your magical books?"
They head down a hallway to another area, Headmaster Doc nodding in satisfaction at a decent sized workroom and huge library. "I copied every magical text I could scan from my ship and found a *lot* of lost areas. I didn't bring all of them out."
"Are you the only one with copies?"
"No, I passed along a good bunch to Dr. Blake on the 8th planet. Doc can come in here to look at anything he wants, I know he's got his own library in Headquarters. We'll pass them along to the other magic users as needed."
"Josette, are the printers done with your fiction?" President Bartlett asks at dinner.
"Yes, I moved the last batch to the ship last week. The store's got two boxes of each book."
"I want to talk to you about a bookstore." Calvin calls from the backroom.
Professor Xavier looks at them. Susan chuckles. "Doc, Josette, David, President Bartlett, and Principal Madison are our planetary government. They meet a whole hour once a month. Any other time it's like this, somebody will come up to one of them and they'll talk, they'll pass it along to the others."
"An hour a month?"
"Different than staff meetings. And you couldn't even get people to come to a one hour meeting, let alone run a government. The meetings are longer if we're bringing something out." Principal Madison says.
"Josette, your comic degrees?"
"I just finished my second Tmely degree. I'm going to start the last National degree next year then finish the last Timely degree."
"Pre Marvel and DC. These two degrees will finish a seven degree set from each school that brings me up to the comic code kerfuffle, that's twelve degrees but covers all the companies. . .a lot that closed thanks to that. Then there's the explosion of super-heroes."
"How is the new store coming?"
"Good, the yarn will start splitting off into it by the time Josette comes out for supplies. The existing store is nearly three times larger now."
"And they'll probably be even larger after Ellis opens his second location?"
"Yup. And I'll probably be enlarging the textiles building too. Or building a second one."
"How are the plans to work with the university coming along?"
"Did you officially take over the school in town?"
"Yes, the final paperwork was signed before we came up. A crew is working on the interior of the school right now, they'll add onto the school as soon as they can."
"Is there room?"
"They're tearing down one whole wing, the elementary isn't up to code now. That area will become a three story addition and they'll be adding at least a second floor to the other sections."
"Which is why they moved the elementary to the other school in my dimension." Josette Grover says. "Didn't you say you had a school a lot like my old one?"
"Yeah, in Doc's dimension. The millage didn't pass there." Josette says, waving at superhero Doc.
"It did in my old dimension, which may be why the millage to get bus service in the county didn't." She snorts. "Of course these are the same morons who didn't wike kindergarteners having to ride a bus with the big kids."
"Ignoring the fact they'd be doing it anyway the next year? And going all day?" Josette drawls.
"Yeah, of course Michigan was the only state that didn't make students go to kindergarten, they could start school right in the first grade."
"Sounds familiar." Doc chuckles. Josette just laughs. "I skipped kindergarten, there's a difference."
"Those portable classrooms would be perfect for classes until you need more than one room for classes." Josette looks over at Calvin. Who nods. "I plan on leaving them there for just that reason for a few years, it will be at least that long for all the work to be done on the main building."
Josette looks over the plans when she comes out to the school after the Lights Festival.
"We're looking at five now. The school doesn't have any room to expand outwards, we have to go up."
"Yes, this is a piss-poor place to have a school. There's no room to grow."
"That's the school districts for you. If they have it outside town it means more people having to bus or parents taking them to school."
"And most private schools are out of the city limits."
"Where they can tell the city to blow it out their asses and have the room to grow."
"They really didn't think of future growth when they decided to put the school there."
"Let it be somebody else's problem. Now, why are you here?"
"That miserable old bastard judge sued trying to get his judgment overturned. The courts slapped him even stupider and he's off wailing to the minimum security dimension to pay off this one. He's still upset he got sanctioned because he's a miserable bastard and I wouldn't let him run roughshod all over me."
"Too many years of being the man, now he's no better than anybody else and he's pouting."
"All of them." Jane, Maria, and Calvin nod. Josette takes pictures of the construction going on for Ellis's new warehouse complex before heading to the publishing house, getting waved into Joanne's office since Jessica and Madison are off. She goes over all the contracts and a book tour. She also talks about expos and conventions, handing over paperwork on all of them. Josette nods, she'd talked to Calvin and the others about some of them.
"Are conventions, expos, and tours picking up or dropping off now that the zero-population period is ending?"
"No, much to the horror of the people who'd been proclaiming one way or other." Joanne snorts. "So I hear Calvin took over the school in town where he is?"
"Yep, they're going to be tearing down a wing that was built years ago and isn't code now and build a five floor addition on that end and add extra floors onto the rest of the school. The government is falling over themselves to make it into a showcase for what they want schools to be like instead of all the horror stories you saw about schools on the news before the zero-population period. They've got portable classrooms by the playground they're going to be using until they need more than one classroom."
Josette returns to Haven a few weeks later her time, sliding into her seat at the government building.
"Did you read the message from Sarah?" She asks David. He sniggers. The others look at them. "Sarah said she's not having any more birthdays, they make her old. In a couple years Jasmine and Sebastian will be older than she is. Jasmine hasn't started caring about her age yet."
"Did you talk to Dad about the school plans?"
"Yep." She sends them to the server, the others downloading them. "They're up to five floors now."
"Got a list of them in various fields from Joanne." She sends that information to the others as well.
"I should be finishing at least three this year. Including the first one on the Titanic from the school computer."
"The others?" Principal Madison looks at David.
"All of us but Michael and Alexander are going to be three years into our degrees. They just started their degrees."
"How are you on your art?"
"Good, with no classes for a year the boys were able to get more stuff done."
"Me Mom a couple weeks into the second semester, the boys Granda just before the Harvest Festival."
"Do you have stuff for an extra show?"
"Yes, I've been doing some stuff here and there on the ship when I go out."
"Twenty-two yet to debut. Thankfully the damn deluge of quilts didn't come with books this last two times. Maybe this means I won't be getting more." Josette sighs. "And I'm probably going to have to think about a new identity. Earth isn't Haven, people are going to notice I'm not aging like I should be. . .especially after the zero-population period."
"Talk to Dad, I think he's got a handle on it. I think you can pass it off as good living for a few more years. You're not continually in the limelight."
"Thank you god no, damn fools having to have their faces and tits in front of every camera they can." Josette shudders. "No matter how damn old they get."
Back at the dorm Josette picks a bag and starts looking over the notes, turning it into a proper pattern. She shivers and nods at the extra heat coming up through the vents, one of the others had tossed a fireball in the second furnace.
"Got a tour?"
"In a few months."
"How's the school coming along?" Susan asks at lunch.
"They're busy removing everything they can salvage from the school before they tear it down. Granda's got a replicator going for the debris they can't reuse. Once they get that one section that's not up to to code torn down they'll start tearing down the roof on the other section so they can start adding the other floors."
"Is anybody complaining?"
"Of course. . .the school should be declared a historical landmark. . ..nope. The school doesn't need the old section torn down. . .it should be grandfathered in because it's so old. It's quaint and should be saved."
"Oh yes. They walked off pouting when people just gave them 'get the fuck out of my face dumbass' looks."
"There's always people who hate change and think they're so damn better than everybody else so you should do what they want."
"Yep, meanwhile others who actually attended the school are very interested to see the new changes that's going to happen. Because they remember the old school. . .and not fondly." The others snigger in the back room. "Not just more classes than was offered in the old school, it's newer books, better facilities, and their kids getting them from the start. All the schools are making an effort now to add more classes and whatnot."
"Hopefully it will be centuries before schools get as bad as they used to."
"Amen." President Bartlett says from the front room.
Josette comes back from the book tour several weeks later, dropping onto the couch with a moan. Doc chuckles over her head as she waves everything out of subspace. "Damn effing morons."
"Dumbass in the medium security dimension or . .. "
"Other damn effing moron. He's wailing that his life is over. He's got to work and not lord it over everybody at the publishing house. He was so sure they'd come begging him to take the job back once his great-nephew ruined the business."
"And he hasn't?" Susan snorts. "Laundry?"
"Did it before I came back. And nope, in fact the business is showing a fifteen percent increase in sales. Because he's doing stuff the old man didn't want to do."
"Of course. . . .because he's not coasting along." David snorts. "Have they started tearing down the old school in town yet?"
"Yep." Josette lifts her head from the couch cushion, looking at the cat who was just about to jump on her head with a 'don't even think it' look that has everybody grinning. "The bag by Alexander's foot. No, the .. .yeah that one. Pictures and video footage on the hard drive with the red dot." The files go on the server, Principal Madison thanking them from his office as he looks everything over.
"Is this information available to the public?"
"Yep, we've got copies of everything in the area that won't be torn down, it will the be last area worked on and people can come in and look over the proposed changes."
It finally begins warming up as Josette puts the first batch of supplies for her last National comics degree up and everybody is opening windows. . .even if they do have to shut them a few minutes later when the furnace starts coming on. A few times a day helps with the 'lived-in' funk of the dorm.
"Are any schools open yet?" One of the cooks asks at breakfast.
"They figure next year for those schools that don't offer headstart."
"With the small class sizes it won't be needed for a while."
Everybody nods. The teachers will be able to give the students all the attention they need.
"Is Calvin's school ready to open?"
"Yep, they've got three students scheduled to start this fall, two girls and a boy. Their parents are the first non-employee members of the credit union."
Josette leans back in her chair at the government building after the planting. "Do we have anything to talk about?"
"Not that I can see." President Bartlett leafs through the PADD in front of him. "The school is going well, nobody has said anything in town or Albatross. Are you growing on the first planet?"
"Next year, we don't need the food." Doc nods as he walks into the room. "The greenhouses are in good repair and we routinely trade extra food among them." Principal Madison nods behind him. "No David?"
"He's off with Dad talking with Kara about either bringing out a home for her or building her own."
"How is the Kents dealing with fresh food in the winter?"
"Clark built growing areas on both farms. Right now they're just greenhouses but he wants to enlarge them over the next couple years to include hydroponics. Of course neither of them think they need them but. . ."
"You take care of family." President Bartlett says. The others nod. "Both the family you create and those you're born into."
Josette starts cussing when she and Doc return to the dorm, Doc chuckling as she creates multiple sketchpads and multiple duplicates and starts working on more quilt ideas. The others chuckle as they walk past her for lunch, Josette walking into the back room ten minutes after them.
"Yes, these time with books. And more books for the others. I've got three duplicates going through the other notebooks making lists." Josette looks up at the ceiling, swears, and splits off a duplicate that starts tapping out notes on her PADD.
"And there go the other books." Principal Madison says in the front room. Professor Fletcher nods at another table. "Yes, the bunnies attack in droves. I've had ideas for three books come at once. Josette gets hit more often because she writes in more genres."
The original Josette nods as she fills her tray and starts eating.
"Are the others on the 9th planet going for supplies?" Professor Ziegler asks.
Josette nods, her mouth full. She looks at Abby who rolls her eyes. "Josette says they're heading off in a couple days with eighteen ****huge**** ships for supplies for all of us. And that won't scratch the surface of what's on Earth."
"Of course not, Earth has always been a consumer planet." Mrs. Bartlett says. "Though I see they're cutting down on packaging and using more recycled content." Everybody nods.
"Josette, what are your plans for the afternoon?"
"I gotta get in books and supplies for this summer's classes."
"Are you finishing a tv degree?"
Josette nods. "And I should be finishing another when I finish the Timely degree."
"How many degrees will that be?"
"Four comics, three tv. I haven't heard anything about graduation yet. They should be having one soon, the comic school wasn't affected by the zero-population period and all the classes are at capacity."
"Yeah, they're hosting another one later this year. The week after the boys show and we'd be out there anyway." In the front room Principal Madison nods.
Josette and the others head off to Mom Clarinda's dimension a couple weeks later, dropping off the stuff for the show, the few special orders, and the books with Dexter before checking out a couple special exhibits at museums before dragging themselves to the rooms. A visitor is startled but James just waves at them as they take off their outer clothes, Josette floating as she hops around on one foot to take off her shoes.
The visitor looks at James. "Our kids from another dimension, they come up a couple times their year and we're out there as often. Three of them are artists, Josette has a show in a couple days."
The visitor whistles, stunned despite himself as he looks around the gallery. He hadn't known what to expect. . .too many parents using their influence to get their kids spots they don't deserve but the sheets and other stuff is flying off the shelves. He's looking through the special orders and making a list of what he wants.
Josette and Alan start delivering boxes when they return to Haven six weeks later their time. Michael and Alexander start going over their orders as Josette empties the boxes of wood, metal, and other supplies in their own areas. The boxes are moved to storage until they're needed again before they start working.
A couple months later Josette flips thumb drives on Joanne and Madison's desks. They nod since they're on the phones and Josette heads off to join the others at the mansion. They come back from checking out the work on the school.
"Looking good, are the library and bookstore going to be part of the new construction?"
"Yes, thanks to the credit union there's no room for separate buildings."
"Is the town still on the hook for paying for it?"
"Yep. Because it was already decided before the state and then federal government took over. They paid for it, working out a payment schedule with the town that won't make them have to try to pass a new millage or cut the budget even further. They're hoping that Granda taking over the school will bring new interest to the area."
"How close is Ellis to opening his new location?"
"Second month year after next, we've already got an invite for the special sale. I put the information on the server and they've got two years of offworld harvests to get the fund up to where they want it. This will handle the regular order." Calvin nods in satisfaction behind the others.
David chuckles as Josette slips out of her high heels under cover of the table where she's signing books, rubbing her feet together and wiggling her toes. If she could have wore tennis shoes with her outfit she would have.
"Was that the damn moron?" David is talking about the man who'd been staring at all the books being sold and wailing until he was asked to leave.
"Yeeeessssss, he was horrified that he can't take the money from my quilting books. So I'm sure the dumbass fool will try suing again. Emphasis on trying because everybody knows what kind of fool he is and won't accept the case."
True to Josette's words the fool man wails as he leaves the third law office that had refused his case trying to get her books. What is the matter with these people? Why won't they just let him steal her books? Gods, who ever heard of somebody being able to keep aaaaallll the money from their work? It. . .it. . .it's unAmerican.
"He'll find somebody else to try to steal from and they'll shoot the old fool." Alan snorts. The others nod. Marcus is busy talking with the boys about their show after he went over Josette's book sales and Josette looks at the time and heads off, arriving at the retreat buildings for a special party.
Joanne and Madison arrive the next day, giving Josette disgusted looks that make her cackle before talking over the new contracts with her.
"Yeeeeeesssssss, I've got a few dozen in the chute but that won't be for a while. I got dumped on three separate times, this last time with books both for those quilts and the other ones." Madison snickers.
After the comicon the ship lifts off and returns to Haven, Josette moving stuff to various buildings. The others come out a couple hours after they return and the bus and Hall of War appear on the school grounds.
"Uncle Hiram?" The new head of the publishing company asks when he finds his great-uncle going through records.
"I went to Ms. Takahawa's show and saw the books flying off the table. I was so sure that we could get the same sales here but. . ." He waves a hand at the records of other craft books. The other man nods. "The only reason she gets the sales she does at the show is because of the shows. I've talked to the supplier that she allows to sell her books and it's not one percent of the sales."
His great-nephew leads him off, having somebody take him home. He has the sad idea that he won't be seeing the older man again, he's devastated by the knowledge that there was no way they could ever make that kind of money Josette makes from self-publishing her books.
Josette shakes her head as she reads the news of his death in a databurst after the Harvest Festival, saying a silent prayer before she looks around at the thud behind her. She'll never grow old and bitter with her family to keep her busy. . .trying not to hurt herself not laughing at them. Abby glares at the door that had just shut in her face as she floats supplies out of the closet.
"How are we on supplies?"
"We've got to start emptying the containers upstairs. Now. . .do you see a show in Doc's dimension?" Abby had seen Doc looking at their work until he'd seen the list of work they had ahead of them.
"Not this year, what with the special orders we picked up from Mom's world. Maybe next year. That gives us all time to have extra stuff put away."
"Books? New Dimension."
"Yeeeesssss, I've got to run out in a couple weeks for an appointment to meet my agent there. And hitting a couple expos."
Josette comes back several weeks later for her, moving boxes of stuff various places.
"Did you enjoy yourself?"
"Helllll no, some damn fool tried demanding I make changes to all my books to suit him and I nearly took his head off cussing his fool ass out without raising my voice. His boss clapped and told him to grow up. He didn't have a damn thing to do with my books, he was just wanting to push his weight around." Susan rolls her eyes while Professor Ziegler, President Bartlett, and Principal Madison sigh and nod.
"Three. One with Pat, one with Doc, and one with one of his associates. She's the one who got Doc in touch with the publishing house there."
Josette looks at the shelves slowly emptying as she works on quilts and pulls her big girl pants on. Sue snickers as she walks into the store the next morning to find piles of fabric everywhere and Josette putting another nearly empty bolt on a pile.
"I'd wondered when you would be buying for more quilts. . .everybody knows you got hit earlier this year and this time it included book ideas." Sue starts measuring the leftover fabric on the bolts and putting them in the remnants bin, the now empty bolts going in another pile. Josette finishes cutting the fabric for her quilts and starts bringing out new bolts to replace the empty ones, adding to the list of what needs to be ordered or refilled. Josette sighs at the total as she runs the card she'd been putting everything on, the receipt filling ten pages. Sue wipes the card after she's gone, putting it back on the pile so it can be grabbed and used again by another customer. That cuts down on the time it takes to check out, especially with huge orders like Josette's.
After stopping at the bakery Josette walks into Agatha's store, getting an amused look from everybody who'd been expecting her. Fabrics and measurements are called off and they soon get the bags full. Josette gets a few more items and pays for everything.
"How are the books?" Agatha asks as Josette settles on a bar stool with a cup of coffee and a cookie.
"The ones already done? I've got twenty more books to debut. New ones? Nearly fifty that I've been making plans for but they're nowhere near ready. They can wait until I have the quilts done."
"Work on the school in town is going well, they'll have the old section that isn't up to code anymore torn down by Thanksgiving. Once that's done they'll start building next year. They figure construction will be done year after next."
"Two girls and a boy to start next year. They're setting them up in a portable until they need more than one room. By then they can move into the main building."
"Are they going to be buying their texts?"
"Starting the second or third grade when they start adding more classes. Kindergarten will be making sure they have the necessary skills to pass onto first grade, first grade will be all worksheets. By then they'll have students in more than one grade and the older students will be working on different assignments." Everybody in earshot nods.
"And starting in the fifth grade they'll either be moving to Calvin's school or staying there. Either way parents will be paying half their expenses."
"Yes, Granda says the families of the three students are already putting money in their accounts even before they start classes."
"That's the way to do it, this way they don't have the big hit to the wallet when tuition and books are due."
Josette puts the bags on the shelves in her workroom, the notepads going in the working on file cabinet before she joins the others at the dining hall.
"Get more quilt supplies?"
"Yeah, I've got enough for the next couple years. Even working on them constantly like I do."
"Book tour?" Madison and Joanne had been giving her looks when they were out before the Harvest Festival.
"They want me to go on another cruise after Thanksgiving."
Josette slumps into her usual seat in the testing center on Archimedes, thanking Vincent as he puts a plate in front of her.
"How is the school coming along?"
"Pretty good, they'll be done with all the deconstruction in a couple months and will start the new work next year. The portable building is ready for the first students and should be in use about five to ten years before they need to move to the main school building."
"Are they keeping the portables?"
"Yes, once they're in the main building they can use them for specialty classes."
"Used before for classes?"
"Yes, in Josette's original dimension they held the sixth grade since there wasn't enough room in the elementary school for all the grades. They were supposed to get rid of them by blocking off hallways for classrooms when the sixth grade became part of the middle school but Josette tells me they were back in use before the millage passed to move the elementary students to the newish middle school, tear down the old elementary section, move the middle school students back to the school that didn't have the room for them in the fucking first place. . .that's why they built the damn school in the first place, then build a new gym. The elementary school students never had their own cafeteria before. . .they always had to share."
"Oh god, this is the same nonsense as kindergarten students on the same bus as the big kids." Dr. Blake moans.
"Yep. I'm sure they'll start blubbering about that in a couple decades as schools start seeing students in all classes and they start having to bring in students who live outside town again. Which won't be for at least a decade after they open schools, they won't open a bus for one or two students. Their parents would take them in just like when some schools got rid of bussing to save money."
Josette leans between Principal Madison and Professor Druid, catching President Bartlett's eye. "Five." Both men laugh at her hangdog look. She just rolls her eyes and heads into the back room. Their wives look at them, the back room where the others are laughing at Josette, then back to them. "I asked Josette how many degrees she was going to be finishing this year. She said at least three. So what did you pick up?" Principal Madison raises his voice slightly.
"Pompeii and Ancient Rome from the history school, the second degree on famous plane wrecks from the Naval Academy, the first degree of three on the Titanic, and a second degree on characters DC picked up from the comic book school. I was a semester from the two from the history school, a year from the others. I didn't plan on finishing the other two but I didn't feel like starting new degrees either."
"And lord forfend you only take six classes a semester." Professor Ziegler says dryly. Josette mock-shudders in the back room, getting laughs from everybody.
"Pick up the other planets recycling?"
"Yep, everything's where it needs to go. Last of the crops in?"
"Not for another couple days."
Back at the dorm Josette puts the books she'd picked up that day with the others to take upstairs to the library, idly enlarging rooms and putting up more shelves.
"That didn't even put a dent in your closet." Pat says behind her, shaking her head at the now empty containers. "How many degrees are you still going for?"
"Thirteen I'm taking classes in, most of them that are multiple degree ones. Three that I finished one degree but haven't started taking classes in the next one."
"How many degrees do you have finished since your last graduation then?"
"Twenty-three, not counting the ones from Calvin's dimension. And most of those are multiple degree ones I'm not really counting."
Josette and the others head to Calvin's dimension after Thanksgiving, putting everything away in her cabin then signing in with the organizers and getting two thick manila envelopes.
"How was the cruise?" The others ask when she comes back. Since it had been so long a cruise she'd took a second ship down.
"Long, even with breaking up all the talks with stuff on the ship." Josette yawns. "It doesn't seem as long when you're attending a comicon or one of Ellis's cruises, but . . .god I could not stand one of those trips they were talking about on tv."
"Too much like being on the road trip again but on a ship?"
"What are you bringing out?" They'd seen the limbo files being accessed.
"A setup to make clay, Warner is being tapped to open a pottery by the government. Becka copied one for Mars when she went to a demonstration at an expo and passed it along to me."
"And of course the government is doing this instead of working on stuff that actually needs the attention." Susan drawls.
"Of course. Becka was grumbling about some asshole at the phone company whining because she wouldn't get rid of their prepaid cell phones and come back to them. Becka told him if the company had fixed the damn problems with their line, they might still have a landline."
In the doorway Principal Madison moans but nods. "Anyway, they're putting up three buildings this year. . their time, two next year, and three the year after that with the pottery and claymaking buildings. They're also planning on adding onto the selling building."
"What did you get into the sockmaking information for?" he asks.
"Some dumbass in the government wanted to put up a building of sock machines, Becka asked for all the information. Dumbass went wailing that he hadn't meant for them to make a go of it. . .he'd wanted to make them look bad." Principal Madison snorts. "Lemme guess. . .so their butt buddies could swoop in and take over."
"Yep, they didn't wike how Warrick and Becka run the business. Their butt buddies. . ."
"would run it into the ground instead of keeping it a profitable venture." David snorts.
The decorations for the Lights Festival start coming out and they're busy putting everything up when the others start arriving.
Becka smirks at Calvin. "The moron who wanted to start a colony dimension ran off whining after the third time the government told him the power facility wouldn't reach into another dimension. Building one would take decades and cost too much money, his people would be paying hundreds of dollars a month before they paid for the power. Moron had to be reminded there wouldn't be any money coming in with no jobs. He went to court the next time and they tossed him and a car through a portal to another dimension. He wailed it took him hours to wind the springs to drive the car back 500 feet to Earth. . .where the electric motor started right back up again. So he guesses he has to believe them when they say the power facility won't reach the other dimensions."
Calvin snorts but nods. "Yes, people were whining our colony dimension had to be for show, now we can build a real colony then went whining when they realized they couldn't have everything they wanted."
Becka looks at Josette. "The government wants the sock building now."
Josette lays her head on her arms and laughs. "Didn't the fool who wanted it in the first place go off whining because he didn't want you to actually make a profit on it?"
"Yeeeesssssss, but while he did it for the wrong reasons. . .he did have the right idea. We're going to be making socks for the moonbase and satellite, the city-ship when it's back, and possibly get in a stockpile for if and/or when we ever get a real colony. It will be a while before they can start making stuff like that. We're not only going to have socks but scarves, mittens, gloves, and hats. Sweaters too but they have to be special ordered. Selling some at Warner, some at the tables that were at the flea market, some for Stark and the Institute, and some sold directly to the government."
"Sock machines?" Two Docs ask at once. Josette laughs and shows them pictures of the building on the school grounds.
"Oh dear lord." Professor Xavier moans. There's tables as far as the eye can see and each has a number of machines on them.
"And there's another building with just as many machines in town. It started out like Becka, one machine and a couple boxes of yarn when Principal Madison asked me to make socks for the emergency supply. We'd had them when we were in school. . ." Josette smirks at Anna who waves a hand at her.
"The smoke bombs in the boys dorm?" Professor Xavier asks with a smirk.
"Yes. . .somebody got up a full head of steam and forgot to put on shoes or boots." Everybody looks at Anna who rolls her eyes. "The demand for the socks was good so I brought another machine and more yarn so we could sell them at the flea market in town. The demand kept growing and growing so we were buying more yarn and sock machines and then the government contacted me to see if I could supply them with socks for prison canteens and the foster care system, both kids and adults. It started with 750 machines and 2500 boxes of yarn twice a year and every time we turned around they wanted more. Each building has 9000 machines, in my studio I have 250 sock machines for Eureka and 528 for the school. We were getting nearly 20000 boxes of yarn yearly. Each pallet held 25 boxes of yarn and each box held 30 2 pound skeins of yarn. Making just tube socks so they were one size fit all we could get four pair of socks out of one skein, with some left over. We made hanks out of four of them to get two more pair of socks, what was left over after that went to Frances and Elaine for the tied quilts."
"Do you make the other items?"
"Now I do, I brought more knitting machines to sell stuff at the spa during the zero-population period." Josette looks at her Granda, "Are you going to be keeping the spa open once you start getting more students?"
"Yes, we can bring out a hotel for the spa customers and adult students when it's needed. Which won't be for years." Everybody nods.
"Are there any plans for a second round of settlers in the colony dimension?" President Bartlett asks from the other room.
"Yes, now that we're having more children. This is something we'll have to think about for future colonies."
"Yes, they'll want a good base of people so there's no inbreeding."
"Josette, are you growing new stuff on the first planet next year?" Principal Madison asks from the front room.
"Yes, I wanted to grow a new potato."
"A type that's not normally grown?" New Dimension Doc asks.
"Yep, we try to introduce new foods every few years, mostly potatoes. Sometimes peppers or heirloom tomatoes. Once in a while a grain like quinoa or farro."
"I have several areas on the first planet, first it was huts that we used for vacations. Then we brought out a copy of one of the buildings on Mom's world. Around that time I put up raised beds for growing and put up a permanent home. I generally raise two crops in the raised beds every other year and have permanent crops out there. With it being a permanent tropics, I could plant year-round if I wanted. Some years I don't plant crops if we don't need the food, this year was one of those."
"Are you going to be green picking?" President Bartlett asks. Josette pulls out her PADD to see what they're running low on.
"Green picking?" Headmaster Professor Xavier asks.
"Thinning out plants by picking some while it's still green. Usually tomatoes and peppers." Headmaster Doc says. Everybody nods.
"Not this spring, Purple Krim and cayenne peppers again."
"What do you do with the green pick?"
"Sell it to the others, the rest goes in stasis until we need it. Most of the doctors buy the hot peppers for herbal remedies, they grow hotter on the first planet than we can get them here."
"Do you dry them?"
"Half the peppers we dry, I string the peppers on wreaths so they can pull one off as needed. The rest is fresh."
"We need to grow a special planting of peppers, herbs, onions, and garlic." One of the cooks announces from the kitchen. The others nod.
"We can do that. Powder or whole?"
"Every few years we grow extra, put them out to dry, then grind them into powder for cooking. Mostly onions and garlic. If we're running low on the other stuff, we'll grow it too."
"Just like you find on store shelves."
"Josette, do we need the smokehouse next year?"
David grabs his PADD since Josette's making a list on hers. "No, it looks like we're good for another year."
"We'll need to harvest the fish then too." Alan says. David looks up something else and nods.
"And see if the 9th planet is harvesting. We grow different fish and other seafood." David says at their looks.
Nods from the others.
"You smoke them?"
"And dry them. And the last couple of times we harvested we've experimented with salting."
"Have you made fish sauce?"
"We've talked about it but we have tons on the ships in stasis and can replicate it."
"Have you made pepper sauces?"
"Chiplote sauce, but like I said before we have it on the ships or can replicate others."
"Have you grown ghost peppers?"
"Yes, a couple years before Doc and the others came out." Alan nods at superhero Doc. "Josette, do you see a demand?"
"No, it's mostly used for herbal remedies and everybody still should have a good supply of it."
"Four finished, I'm halfway through my last National degree. I have one more Timely degree to go, then it will be the massive set of degrees on the national comic code."
"Three, I'll have another one done when I finish the Timely degree."
"About then is when the school is planning their next graduation service."
The others look at them. "The school is a niche one, students don't take a full semester of classes at a time, so it takes longer to graduate. Every few years they have a massive graduation ceremony."
"Have you ever grown everything that. . ."
"Farro and yucca, for all that you can see farro on the store shelves as part of the Bob's Red Mill line. . .it's not something you usually eat except in salads." Nods from the others. "And it's easier to buy supplies of tapioca rather than grow the plants that make it."
"And neither of them we could introduce new recipes to use them." One of the cooks says. Everybody nods.
"Josette, are you growing mushrooms on the first planet again?" President Bartlett asks from the front room.
Josette flips through the records on her PADD. "Yes, it's been a few years."
"We have the mushroom growing building here and every few years or so Josette will grow on the first planet."
"I grow in wood on the first planet." Nods from everybody around them again.
"Can I ask how long?"
"We've been on Haven? We'll be starting our hundred and nineteenth year during the Lights Festival." Josette says calmly. "Thanks to the longer days and years our aging slowed about a decade after we arrived."
"You age depending on how long it takes your planet to travel around the sun?"
"Yes, you can tell the difference most readily with the fourth planet inhabitants, their year is the closest to Earth. When we were reopening the school for the children born on the planets, the fourth planet students were older. . .even if they had been born at the same time."
"Then you're all in your hundreds."
"Well the teachers we had when we attended school are closer to three hundred but yeah. . .nobody on Haven really cares about their ages. All the fresh fruit, vegetables, exercise and clean air keep us young." Susan says absently.
"Have you been keeping a history?"
"Oh yes, we had a big show for our hundredth anniversary of arriving on Haven. We've got the books and DVD in the dorm as well as photo albums showing all the work we've done on the dorm."
"Then it wasn't always a castle?" Headmaster Doc asks, his lips twitching.
"No, the dorm was three floors, twenty student rooms per floor with a bathroom between two rooms. With two dorm monitor rooms at the back of the dorm, basically the equivalent of a studio apartment."
"The second round of dorms were five floors with twenty-five rooms per floor. Twenty-four were dorm rooms with a bathroom between them with the last a floor monitor apartment. That way each floor had somebody there instead of having them cover an entire dorm."
"That would be better." Professor Xavier agrees.
"The next step was going from five twenty-four room floors to ten thirty room floors. Sixteen rooms on one side and fourteen on the other with two rooms being storerooms."
"The dorms really didn't change after that, they just kept getting bigger."
"Did the other dorms have storerooms?"
"Yes, we have them at the front of the dorm by the mailboxes. But as the dorms got bigger, they needed the extra room."
At the dorm they dig out all the photo albums, the others looking over the progress of the dorm. The books and DVD are brought out and they see how much the area has grown over the last hundred years. Josette's lips twitch. "And we still don't have the subway somebody on Earth wanted to dig."
"I'd ask if you were joking but yes, people are that stupid." Headmaster Professor Xavier sighs.
"Yes, they were stunned we didn't need or want one. It took a whole five minutes to walk from one end of town to the other back then, even now it only takes fifteen."
"Was there anything else people wanted on Earth you didn't need."
"Post office, cell phones. . .cars."
"That sounds about right."
Josette slides into her usual chair in the boardroom for the first meeting of the new year. "We need to grow a commercial crop of cucumbers for pickles. The store is getting low." President Bartlett looks at the file on the PADD and nods. "What about potatoes?"
"Two batches, one the regular potatoes we normally grow and a new to us variety." She looks up at the ceiling, sighs, and checks another file. "Make that two batches of our usual potatoes, the potato starch and flakes are getting low."
"That will last us for a few years." President Madison says. Doc nods. "Anything else? I saw you'd brought out the smoker and wood disks."
"I'm experimenting with pastrami bacon, I saw it on a cooking show in Granda's world."
"Did you make the bacon wrapped onion rings?" David snickers, having watched the same show. Josette just rolls her eyes "No, that's still a stupid idea. Either smoke bacon or smoke onions. . .don't try stuff like that. . .that's like deep-frying ice cream, twinkies, or whatever else you wanted to deep fry. Just because you can." President Bartlett chuckles but nods.
After the meeting Josette heads back to the dorm, putting the doughnuts from the bakery in her first floor room before checking on the smoker. She'll slice the bacon later that day and put it in the refrigerator for sandwiches.
It had turned colder after the first of the new year and Josette looks out the window at the snow falling in big fat flakes before heading upstairs. The others had chosen to start sorting through containers to make room. Not only did they have stuff from Granda's dimension, they had five ships on the planet full of stuff from the others on the 9th planet.
"We got 7A, 9C, 12D, and 23B empty and ready to move." Alexander says when she peeks into the room.
"Without killing yourself in the hallway?" Josette's lips twitch.
"Yes, without killing ourselves tripping on the cats." Susan snickers. The empty containers are moved and the others settle in place.
"Is that all?"
"For now, we're just getting started. It's going to be a couple weeks. We should be able to empty a good half of these."
At lunch Josette is waved to the front room, Frances saying something and Josette nodding. "Frances wanting to know when I was going to put in the order for the retro fabric in Becka's dimension." Grabbing her PADD she sends out the notice to the others and puts it back on her belt.
"How long until you order?"
"I'll put up a reminder 9th day and order next week. I already figure on ordering at least half again what everybody orders. Or double depending on how much we order. And I don't doubt we won't be putting in a second order." Frances and Elaine laugh and nod in the front room.
The next couple of weeks pass and Josette sends out the order, getting confirmation back from both Becka and the manufacturer.
"Shows?" Frances asks one day when they're in the fabric building. They're getting fabric for a project and Frances sends off the payment once everything's cut.
"The boys Mom, Me Granda. I go first this year."
"Not this year. . .thankfully." Frances chuckles at the look on Josette's face.
"How many books do you have to debut?"
"Eighteen. That should be it for a while. People have to be wondering how the hell old I am. Especially if you add in my other books."
"Can't just say. . .'ehhh, Josette's a vampire. . .of course she doesn't look as old as she should'." Frances snickers as she puts the fabric in a bag and they shut the fabric building back up before walking back to town.
"I suppose I could do a Highlander and be my own grandkid." Principal Madison hears as the pair walks past him as they walk into the textiles building. He turns back around to look at them.
"Eighteen books left to debut, nine years making it nearly eighty years we've been going out there and damn near sixty we've been having shows. Sooner or later I'm going to have to drop out of sight."
Principal Madison snorts. "Isn't that what you've already done by living in another dimension?"
"Which is why Clark and Thomas moved here, they were already the 4th and junior and were looking at having to take time off and return as their sons."
"And while you've been having shows and debuting books for years in Calvin's dimension, you're just starting in two other dimensions."
"Yes." the others snigger at her hangdog look.
"No complaints about your Mom's dimension?"
"Nah, everybody seems to be older than they look there." Josette waves a hand.
"Josette, update at the comic book school. They added a degree on Fawcett comic books. Five degrees, one that deals with the lawsuit." Alan says as he comes down the stairs.
"Good, I was wondering when they were going to. It should have come before the comics code kerfuffle."
"Maybe it was because of them going out of business and the lawsuit from DC?"
Josette is busy moving boxes into the hall a couple months later as she replicates everything for the second semester. classes. She disappears suddenly and Alan. . .who'd been coming to see how much longer she'd be sighs and continues moving everything to the hallway. Josette appears a few seconds later and roundly curses.
"Yep. Moron tried claiming I had to have killed his darling butt buddy. Of course he'd get everything back in the lawsuit. Including the publishing house. Because of course the other old fool didn't die of natural causes. The boy was covering up the murder. . . for his own nefarious reasons."
"Thought he couldn't sue you or have anybody else sue you?"
"Yup, Bastard sent off so-called 'anonymous' letters to various outlets that of course led directly to him. Bastard is looking at more hours of work, more time in solitary, and losing all his privileges. . . again."
"Thought he'd already lost all his privileges. . .permanently." Principal Madison snorts from the hallway.
"Ohhh, some fool bleeding heart liberals group went whining to the courts and got them reinstated because we were being mean to his stupidness. They're now hiding because they're looking very stupid in the media." She disappears again and appears a few seconds later.
"Yeesss, left a rambling psychotic letter to be opened upon his death saying I killed the bastard. Moron tried grabbing a guard's gun during the transfer and got shot."
"Did the moron pay for his grand funeral?"
"Nope, he put enough money away for a regular one. Moron's probably wailing about nobody weeping, wailing, gnashing their teeth, and all that other shit he wanted at his lavish funeral." Josette rolls her eyes. "Damn fool."
"Josette?" Doc asks as she, Alan, and Principal Madison come up from the basement. He'd got the notice she'd went out off-schedule not once but twice.
"Dumbass from the other dimension. He sent out 'anonymous' letters saying that his dear friend didn't die of natural causes. . .his great nephew was covering up me murdering him. He'd get everything in the lawsuit. . .including the publishing house. Fucking bleeding heart liberal group got all his privileges restored. . .we were being mean to the stupid puke." Doc sighs while Pat rolls her eyes and David snorts. "Dumbass tried grabbing a guard's gun and left behind a rambling psychotic letter blaming me for everything. Dumb fucker's probably wailing in hell because I wasn't arrested like he wanted."
"What the Hell did you think you were doing getting us involved in that mess?" A man sighs as he reads the file and looks at the gulping man across the desk from him. "I . . .I thought he had to have been behaving by now and it wasn't right for him not to have any privileges. I . . .I . . .I didn't know he'd immediately start causing problems."
"You would have if you'd bothered to read the damn file."
"But he'd been there for decades, he should have started behaving by now."
"Morons like that old fool never behave. Gods, why the hell do you think he's been there for so long. If he'd been behaving he'd have been out of there by now."
"I . . .I . . . I never thought of that."
Josette is quiet for the next couple of days, the others patting her shoulder. They know the old fool got on her last nerve but she didn't want him dead like that. It starts getting warmer and windows open as the machines in the dorm start their spring cleaning routines as the curtains start being taken down to be washed.
"Josette, have the u-pick farms been growing?" Doc asks at the next government meeting.
"Yeah, every year since people are buying more and more. So has Albatross's. I've been looking into areas to bring out new farms if they're needed." She puts up a file on the screen then cusses. "Wrong file, that's one I've been working on after watching a show for noise in Granda's dimension." The others look at her. "Putting a farm on one of the islands." Doc makes a trilling noise. "It was one of the animal shows where they went out to an island in Alaska. First they had to fly out to the island then they had to take a truck to an area then walk to the farm."
"With a flyer it would just be one trip." David says slowly as he looks everything over.
"Yeah, but we wouldn't need it for years. Even if we had somebody who wanted to live out there. But it wouldn't be hard for a flyer to go out once a week or so during the growing seasons." The others nod. "This is the same type of growing we'd been talking about in the tropics. . ."
"Before I started growing on the first planet? Yup. I put it aside for a while, watching that show made the muse howl."
"Have you planted on the first planet?"
"Yeah, I'm out there right now." A few hours later Josette walks into the cafe diem on the 9th planet. Vincent looks over and nearly squeals as she brings out bushels and bags.
"Purple Krim tomatoes, cayenne peppers, herbs, and wood-grown mushrooms." they settle down to haggle over everything.
"How much was sold?" David asks when Josette merges with her other self who'd been off-planet.
"Just over a third of everything. I've got a quarter of the remaining herbs and peppers dried, everything else is in stasis."
"Josette, do we have more of the ships?" Doc asks as he walks to the door to Headquarters.
"No, Archimedes has five too. The vampire and animal planet are splitting four with the first and second planets getting a share, the remaining four are split between the others. And yes, we're looking at more in the future." The others sigh or roll their eyes.
"Are these. . .?"
"Planned eventual colony ships? Yep. Or to set up stations on the other planets."
"They'd do good for it."
Josette yawns as she looks at the dark sky outside Calvin's office. Calvin pats her on the shoulder. "Dumbassery at its finest."
"The Supreme Court will kick his ass up around his ears and he'll walk off pouting. He's not really hardcore about this nonsense. .he's just trying to make a name for himself."
"Oh well, I'd been trying to come up with a way to get out of the spotlight anyway, we keep forgetting how long I've been writing. I'm going to be here eighty years and we've been having shows sixty when the last of my quilting books debut. It's not like Haven where somebody will just shrug and say 'so what? Everybody's older than they look."
"Yes, especially after a zero-population period. You don't need to be in the spotlight all the time."
Josette walks into the front room at dinner. "Heads up, some damn fool on Calvin's world is trying to take over that old fool's idea to get rid of fiction now that the zero-population period has ended."
Muttered swear words and oh dear lords can be heard in both the front and back room. "Yeah." Josette snorts. "But this is the opportunity needed to start getting out of the spotlight in Calvin's world. Joanne, Jessica, and Madison are finally retiring. . ." Josette shrugs.
"You've got the other dimensions for books and shows yet."
"Yeah. The Supreme Court will kick his ass up around his ears and he'll walk off pouting. He's not serious about this nonsense like the old fool was, he's just out to make a name for himself." More disgusted sounds and swearing. "So anyway, I'd been thinking of a way to get around the non-aging thing, this is as good as any."
The crops start going in on Haven, a special garden set up for the crops the kitchen had said they'd needed.
"How soon until the offworld harvests. . .?" Principal Madison asks after everything is planted.
"Probably year after next, the offworld harvests are due to start coming in in a few weeks."
"Has anybody started going through the ships?"
"Yeah, I have. These are just drones, they're meant to be taken in tractor beam and towed instead of having a control room for a crew." The others nod in satisfaction. "The ship with an actual control room is on the 9th planet."
"Has the demand to stop fiction been dealt with?"
"Yes, the court of public opinion called him a god-damn fool and he ran off wailing. The legal courts refused to pass injunctions barring fiction and the Supreme Court just laughed at him when he tried going to them."
Josette walks into the publishing house for Jessica, Joanne, and Madison's retirement party. They give her hugs and grin before the others start trickling into the room. Several hours later they walk out of the building.
"Ohhh, I'm tired. How the hell can a party be more tiring. . ."
"Than working all day? I feel the same way about my shows."
"Yours are worse since you've got your quilting books to sign too."
"Yep, and I've got one in a couple weeks."
"I do wish you'd chosen to continue with the house but I can see your point. Even the most dim person is going to realize you're not aging." Joanne says.
"Yeah, but I can turn it into something like the Nancy Drew books."
"Continuing the books supposedly as a ghostwriter? That would get you out of the spotlight but still allow you to write."
"And eventually come out as my granddaughter after a certain length of time for the others." Josette shrugs. "Maybe by then the damn muses will quiet down. . ." The others snigger at her.
"Yeah, that's what I figured."
"How is Haven?"
"We planted our first crops. The dining hall kitchen planted a special crop of peppers, herbs, onions, and garlic since they were running low. It's a double crop so we'll dry and grind part of the onions and garlic into powder."
The three women blink. "I'd never thought about that but that's how they produce the stuff in the stores."
"Yep." Josette says. "Everybody who has the extra room to grow more of a crop will put some of it aside to dry and grind into powder. If they don't they buy it from the store. That's from the commercial crops I grow offplanet. We've got a couple more this year, we're running low on cucumbers for pickles and we're growing a double crop of potatoes along with a 'new to us' crop."
Josette drops onto a couch in the dorm a few weeks later for her.
"Enjoy yourself?" David asks. He snickers at Josette's look. "How long were you out for?"
"A couple weeks after the show. I was in Vegas then."
"Ahhh, are you officially separated from the publishing house now?" Doc's voice asks behind her.
"Myeah." Josette makes a yes no maybe hand motion. "The four of us were talking about going on like the Nancy Drew books. I still write but officially it's ghostwriters."
"Hmmm, that gets around the publicity factor."
"Yep, and as more kids are born I can start hitting cons and whatnot. Once I'm not being interviewed nobody really recognizes me."
The others nod. Professor Fletcher and Principal Madison nod as she repeats her thoughts at lunch. Professor Druid and President Bartlett are doing the same. "The head of the publishing house will know the truth of course. . .I do own it." The others chuckle. "It's going to take decades to pay off the debt, I see more than one generation finding out that Josette Takahawa is Josette Takahawa, she just lives in another dimension."
"Are you going to have another agent?"
"When Madison, Joanne, and Jessica get tired of their retirements and come back under another identity. They can't very well come up as their kids or grandkids, but maybe in a few generations they'll introduce themselves back into their family."
"Ahhhh, they're immortal then?"
"Yep, they could actually own and run the house. . .pretending to be their kids or grandkids over the years but they don't want the headaches."
"Like the rest of us." President Bartlett rumbles. Everybody else laughs and nods.
Josette rolls her eyes as she listens to a databurst from Calvin's world. "Eff you moron, too bad you didn't die during the zero-population period. But most of the fools didn't manage to die during that time." Doc looks over at her muttering. "Some old fool wailing about how the five of us are dictators because we don't hold formal elections. The 'little people' have to be suffering because of us." David and Principal Madison snort as Doc sighs and everybody else roll their eyes.
"Of course it can't possibly be nobody wants the damn headaches."
"Or has their own lives or are happy with how the government is being run."
"Oh no, of course not. The governments have to rush in and take over Haven to free the citizens. But they have no way of getting here and Calvin and the others who have been here kicked the old fool's ass up around his ears. He ran off wailing that we can't possibly have people's best interests at heart. Not like him."
"No he doesn't." Pat snorts. "He just wants to be some damn bigshot."
"Yep, same with that damn fool who wanted to outlaw fiction. With the zero-population period ended they figure now it the time to make names for themselves. And end up shooting themselves in the foot then run off wailing because they just proved what everybody already knew, they're damn fools."
Blubbering apologies that he didn't know the citizens could get on the council any time they wanted but nobody wanted to run the world so they let the others do it are in the next databurst. So are muttered comments of serves the damn fool right. If he wants a say in how governments are run he might get off his ass and try voting once in a while.
Josette yawns as she drinks a large mug of coffee the day after her show, the others sniggering at her. She halfheartedly makes a rude gesture their direction.
"How many more books do you have?" Marcus asks once he's certain Josette is awake. . .even if she doesn't want to be.
"Eighteen more ready to debut and another fifty that's still in the 'notes on quilts' stage."
Marcus just moans. "Yes, you see the problem. Another nine years to debut the books will put us at sixty years having shows."
"You're going to have to start a new identity."
"Yeah, that's one of the reasons why I didn't continue on with the publishing house after Jessica, Joanne, and Madison retired. Now in a couple decades our 'grandkids' can continue the family hobby of art."
"And you have the other dimensions."
Josette moans as the others snigger and nod. A computer starts beeping and Josette grabs a gun.
"No, the damn laws about stealing people's land didn't magically disappear over the zero-population period." A judge snorts a couple days later as he glares at a blubbering man in front of him. "What the hell did you think you were doing trying to break onto their property."
"But they should have wanted to sell by now." he whines. "It . . .it's not fair they have all that land. We could turn it into so many homes and businesses."
"Moron, we have homes and apartments already sitting empty. We don't need more." His own lawyer snorts.
"But developing that land would make me rich." He wails as he's dragged back to his cell.
"Christ, people are goddamn stupid."
"Yes, everybody's back to the same stupid shit they were before the zero-population period. Just goes to show there's fools no matter how damn old they are."
"Josette, this is probably a dumb question but those commercials for Wiseman food?" Alan asks a couple days after they return home. There'd been days of 'the rules against stealing land are still in effect, dear gods people there's plenty of empty land if you want to fucking make a masterpiece to your magnificence, you don't need to start bothering people about selling to you for the few damn dollars you figure they'll sell it to you for' lectures over the air. More than one person snorted at the wails that having to pay what the land they wanted was worth was too much money.
"During a disaster you can feed your family? Yeah, we have tons on the ships and various places on the planets. Since it's shelf-stable it lasts forever. The government was getting stocks of it for the ice ages along with MREs. Not to mention I picked up more from the other planets we harvested. Atlantis figures we've got enough to feed a million people for a million years and not even make a dent in the supplies."
"Okay, I was wondering. We see the damn commercials. . . "
"Yeah, and laughed at them. Does that include water for 25 years?" Josette snorts.
"Or access to cooking fuel? The paper ads show you a cupboard but never mention what all is included."
"Or prices." Susan snorts. Doc chuckles behind them from the doorway of Headquarters. "Josette, can you or Alan come move supplies out of containers for us?"
"And move the containers if they're empty?" Josette splits off a couple duplicates and follows Doc into Headquarters. They return after the others have come back from lunch.
"Get everything moved for Doc?"
"And got a quarter of their containers empty and on the ships. of course now they have to find room for all that stuff they brought out. . . " The others snigger and nod.
Josette sighs as she puts everything away from the classes she'd taken at the comic book store, looking around at the empty tables. Susan sniggers from the hallway. "It will be full again soon enough."
"Have you heard about graduation?"
"In a couple months. I'll be graduating with four comic book and two tv degrees. They're having the graduation ceremony before the comicon."
The crops start coming in and once the second crops are planted the offworld harvests start. David opens the tesseract to allow the pickers to walk off the ship as Josette is busy delivering food to various places. John Watson smiles in the store when he sees containers being filled, including potatoes.
"I was wondering if the harvest was in."
"Yeah, Josette says she was going to pick it up on the way back." Susan says from the stairs. "Is there anything that she needs to bring up?"
"No, I was just filling the last of the barrels." He puts a cover on the barrel of cucumbers that will be pickles in a while and nods in satisfaction as he looks at everything.
"Ahh." Susan nods and turns around to head upstairs.
"Did she drop off the other potatoes?"
"Yeah, the sorting planet and manufacturing satellite should have at least some ready for us by the end of the year. Next year will have everything done."
Superhero and New Dimension Doc are both in the dorm when Josette returns and she blinks at them for a second. "Yes, we're early. We wanted to talk to Doc about Headquarters and the dorm but he's busy talking to Headmaster right now." Superhero Doc's lips twitch as Josette guffaws. They hate it when they slip into the shorthand Josette uses to identify who's who to somebody else.
"Oh good Josette, you're back. Toilet paper." Alan says as he walks past.
Josette grabs her PADD. "We'll be running low in a couple years. I'll harvest some scrub trees next year for the angel soft brand and harvest more and plant cotton the following year for the charmin brand." The others look at her. "We have a factory on the sorting planet and every several years or so they open to make toilet paper for all the planets." Josette looks at her PADD again and sends out a couple questions.