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[personal profile] perevision
Sometimes you just have to write something even if it doesn't seem like anyone will read it. I'm a bit touchy about original characters in fanfiction, and yet it seems to me that I have begun something which is basically a space academy romance novel which just happens to feature Jim Hawkins as one of the leads. What I am actually trying to achieve is a Star Trek/Harry Potter Victorian naval AU written in the style of Robert Louis Stevenson. I reread Treasure Island and am reading Kidnapped! and Stevenson's Travels to get the flavour but as yet have only done about 3K.

Treasure Planet - Stellar Academy Chapter 1

Beginnings are delicate times.

- 'Maybe you should scrap that line. It sounds cheesy.'
'I thought it sounded memorable. Anyway, maybe -you- shouldn't look over people's shoulders while they're writing.'
'Maybe I -should-, in case people happen to be writing utter crap about me.'
'Who says you're even going to be in it? Maybe I'll leave you out.'
'Maybe if you did that, there wouldn't -be- a story.'
'Oh, go -away-. I can't write about you if you're going to hover.'
'Aha, so you -are- writing about me!'
'Get OUT, Jim.'
'I'm going, I'm going.' -

(Ugh, he's right. Also, I'm positive I've seen that sentence in some book or other. While it would be quite apropos to begin my first pirate epic with plagiarism, I'm sure it wouldn't be proper. All right, let's begin again.)

I would have liked to begin this story by telling you that I could see Jim Pleiades Hawkins' immense potential shining out from every pore as soon as I met him. Unfortunately, that would be a lie, and also I would never hear the end of it from the lads. The truth is, -something- was immediately evident, but I honestly didn't see the truth of it for a while. The first day a boy arrives in Stellar Academy after a trip of several hundred light years, he is naturally too exhausted, nervous and busy to pay attention to anyone but himself.

Unless, of course, someone almost scalps him.

I had flown in from Lion Harbour, in the outlying Eastern Quadrant of what used to be the Empire but was now the Alliance, to meet my cousin Fitzwilliam. I am inexplicably fond of Fitz, who in my opinion is one of the worst examples of old Empire attitudes, and a grand argument toward the kind of meritocracy we were able to establish in the former Colonies. Perhaps that fondness stems from our shared ordeals in a labyrinthine extended family which winds like a many-headed Nebula Serpent through the Alliance--and beyond, if Aunt Victoria's complaints about certain unnamed relatives are to be believed.

In any case, I'd arranged to meet Fitz at his family's town house in New London so we could take the shuttle together to the planet of Portal Mouth, greatest hub of military travel in the former Empire, now a spaceport almost as large and famous as Montresor or Greater Greenwich, and training ground for the young males, females, zes and zirs of Stellar Academy.

Forgive me my melodrama here, gentle reader. I hope I can be allowed some enthusiasm, especially I had set my sights on Stellar Academy since I was a small child listening to my grandfather's stories of the school days that led to his captaincy and admiralty in the Imperial Fleet. It was always taken for granted that my father and I would follow him. What I still hadn't told my grandmother was that while Father had taken the Command track and gone on to become the head of our merchant fleet and shipping company, I planned to take Navigation and help chart new areas of deep space.

I would have to tell her eventually, and I anticipated a battle the likes of which the family hadn't seen since the end of the Empire and the liberation of the Colonies. This all sounds self-aggrandising and exaggerated, but if time allows I will be able to introduce her into this narrative, and then my readers can judge for themselves.

Once we had landed though, nothing more was on my mind but the confusion of sorting out our Houses and possessions. Between us Fitz and I only carried one suitcase and one Academy-issue duffel each, but the rest of our boxes and bags had been sent ahead by special transport and we needed to fetch them and bring them to whichever House or Hall had been assigned to us. I felt responsible for Fitz, as even though he was on the Command track he was rather helpless on his own. Honestly I think our family sent us to the Academy because they despaired of us ever learning to manage ourselves without proper training.

There may have been something in their low opinions of us, at that. No sooner had I loaded my boxes, bags, wardrobe cases and sundry extras on a trolley next to Fitz's, than someone yelled 'Look out!' And something golden, sharp and very fast flashed toward Fitz's head.

I pushed him out of the way. With a whirr of internal gears the thing jerked aside, but not in time to keep one bright wing from scoring a line along the side of my head from hairline to jaw, narrowly missing my ear.

I bumped against the hover trolley and sat down hard, blood streaming down my face and dripping down my chin. I think I may have missed a few seconds in my daze. Fitz was yelling, which brought me back. I stumbled to my feet and felt in my pocket for my handkerchief, pressing it to my face (incurring some risk of infection, no doubt, but at that moment my only thought was to spare my new uniform).

Fitz was still yelling, his voice taking on the slight shrillness he gets when particularly outraged. People were staring, and some of the students were running toward us, first among them a Lacertilian with her frill outstretched in alarm and a scruffy Human boy in oversized clothes and boots. A gold earring flashed in one ear. I remember thinking muzzily that he looked rather too much like a pirate to be running around a Naval Academy.

'I am -so sorry-,' gasped the Lacertilian in her sibilant accent.

'You had better be!' Fitz yelled. 'This sort of chicanery shouldn't be allowed! My cousin and I will--'

'Fitz, do shut up,' I muttered. 'And pass me your handkerchief, there's a good chap. This one's wet through.'

Several people felt in their pockets, but the Human boy brought out a parcel of waterproof material and unwrapped it to show some clean white handkerchiefs. He grinned with a little embarrassment when he saw our expressions.

'I solar-surf, get banged up a lot.' His low voice betrayed a Montresor accent. Pirate Boy was becoming more intriguing by the minute. 'Here.' He replaced my handkerchief with his own, holding it to my temple with one big warm hand while he stuffed the pack back into his jacket pocket with the other. In the meantime, Fitz was powering right into one of his embarrassing rants about how several of our members were on the school board and would -personally- make sure the school rules were rewritten to forbid -flying razorblades-. Nearly everyone had practically forgotten me and were gawping at him. I rolled my eyes.

'Sorry about my cousin,' I told Pirate Boy. 'And your handkerchief.'

He smiled briefly, showing a flash of dimple. (Oh gods. Remember to erase this bit before Jim sees it.) '-I'm- sorry,' he said. 'We got excited about the new camshaft on the micro-glider and didn't recalibrate for the increased rotation speed.' This last hadn't been directed at anyone in particular, but the Lacertilian's frill drooped even as her jowls flushed pink.

I smiled back. 'You're clearly on the Engineering track,' I said, taking up the kerchief. (Our fingers brushed when he took his hand away. I am also deleting this sentence from the approved-for-public version; I am in enough trouble already.)

'That's what I'm hoping for. You?'

'Navigation. My--'

Here we were again interrupted. Some of the more sensible students had broken off from the crowd and were heading for the registration building, where I could see faculty and staff emerging to see what the commotion was about. Fitz was arguing with the Lacertilian, presumably about the golden thing now safely caged in her long scaly fingers. He made a grab for it, but she snatched it back, holding it out of his reach.

'What are you doing?' she screeched, her tail whipping up in front of her to bar Fitz's path. 'This is -delicate machinery-!'

'That thing ought to be confiscated!' he shouted.

I nodded at him. 'My cousin Fitz is on the Command track.'

'Star-gods help us,' Pirate Boy said, in the dryest of tones. He looked back at me, and his brow creased in concern. 'Hey, that's still bleeding. You should go see the nurse, you're probably going to need stitches.'

I -was- feeling a little lightheaded, but I shrugged in my best nonchalant manner. 'I've had worse than this in dojo training. I suspect you've taken worse while solar surfing.' His grin was answer enough to that.

I glanced up and saw the staff running towards us. 'You'd better go,' I told Pirate Boy. 'They -will- confiscate your machine if they think it's dangerous.' The Lacertilian straightened at this, and then turned and dove into the first row of startled students.

Pirate Boy laughed. I made an abortive movement to give him back his handkerchief, but it was done for. He shook his head.

'Keep it,' he said. Fitz was trying to see where the Lacertilian had gone, but she had vanished as if into a hole in the ground. He kept dashing in one direction and then the other, too distracted to keep tabs on either of us. The crowd was starting to disperse; no one wanted to be questioned by teachers right after a long shuttle ride. Jim turned to join them, then turned back to me and stuck out a large hand.

'James Hawkins,' he said, smiling a broad, dimpled smile. 'Jim, I mean.'

I shook his hand with my free one. 'Leigh Leong.' I think I could be forgiven for not telling him my full name, although in all fairness I'm not entirely sure I could remember it at that point.

'See you around,' he said, and ducked in among the other students. For a boy who stuck out like a brigand in a room of admirals, he could vanish rather effectively.

Fitz came back just in time to see him go. 'Stop him!' he shouted, pointing a hysterical finger in the general direction of student housing. I rolled my eyes again.

Then Fitz attempted to give chase again, but there was enough of a crowd still (although it was now moving) to stump him entirely. Unlike his sister and I, Fitz has never been to the Lion Harbour markets, and so is rubbish at making his way between people who don't feel like letting him through. When it was obvious Jim was quite beyond chasing, Fitz came stomping back to glare at me. 'You just let them go!'

(I am writing this next bit in a separate file, so James Bloody Hawkins never sees it as long as we both shall live.)

'Leigh, what is the -matter- with you?' my cousin demanded. I shrugged, still holding Jim Hawkins' handkerchief to my face.

Fitz stared at me, then groaned, throwing up his hands. 'Not again!'

I blinked at him. 'What?'

What remained of the crowd was making way for the approaching staff. It looked like the Academy Head Nurse, who was bringing two assistants and a First Aid Bot with her. She pushed aside the kerchief, which I tucked into my pocket before she could discard it in the bot's disposal unit, and swabbed my cut.

'We'll need to get that stitched,' she said, applying a stinging ointment to the cut. As she moved down toward my jaw, the stinging left a numbness in its wake. She motioned to the Aid Bot.

I drew back, trying not to panic. Training or not, I greatly doubted my ability to let a robot sew up -my face- in full view of many of my future classmates, without making an utter ass of myself. Bad enough they had seen Fitz do it for both of us.

Fortunately, the Aid Bot merely extended a folding arm for me to lean against as it guided me up to the infirmary. Nurse Tharalongkorn and her assistants hustled everyone out, and the Head Nurse stitched me up herself. She was most gentlemanly and pretended not to hear the noises I made (even with the anaesthetic to dull the pain, it did rather smart), or notice the involuntary tear or two that ran down my face. The only thing she did, after she applied more salve and bandaged me, was hand me a clean cloth as I was about to wipe my eyes on my sleeve, and give me some pills for the pain.

I had to stay for bed rest, as the stitches had to be disturbed as little as possible in the first few hours, and settling into new dormitories did tend to be a slightly strenuous experience. However, they let Fitz in once I was settled, which usually tended to guarantee the opposite of peace.

'You -did- take our bags in, didn't you?' I asked him. We were to share a room for the first year.

He waved a hand. 'I made sure the porters took care of it. Tipped them outrageously.'

'You -do- know the point of Stellar Academy is to teach us to fend for ourselves?'

'The -point- of Stellar Academy is to turn us into officers and -gentlemen-,' he retorted, a little pompously, '-not- to give us disfiguring scars before we've even had any -lessons-.'

I touched my bandage gently. 'Does it look that bad?'

'No,' he lied. (This is one reason why I remain fond of Fitz.) 'That's not important, though. Leigh, you can't do this again.'

'Do what?'

'Fall smitten with...with rough elements!'

I burst out laughing, which was a terrible idea as it pulled at my stitches awfully. Nurse T charged in at my startled whimper (which had been embarrassingly loud) and shooed Fitz out. She carefully lifted my bandage to check that I hadn't torn any stitches, and when she was satisfied, tucked me into bed like a sick child and left. I lay there in my swaddling and a cloud of chagrin, but I must have dozed off, because I soon blinked awake when I heard a soft noise by the door.

Jim Hawkins slipped in, and crept up to the foot of my bed. Those huge boots made surprisingly little noise, and I wondered if somehow he -was- some kind of brigand after all.

He looked a bit unsure. There was something about the way he slumped into his oversize clothing—even his belt was too long, and tied in a knot instead of properly fastened—that made him look like a young boy dressed in his father's clothes.

I realised how long I had been staring at him to come to that conclusion, and could do nothing about the heat that crept up my neck. Trying to wriggle out from under the sheets and sit in a reasonably dignified position did not at all help, either.

My discomfiture seemed, ironically, to put him more at ease. His mouth quirked. 'Leigh Leong,' he said, sticking his hands into his pockets.

'Jim Hawkins,' I returned, trying to keep my tone light. 'We meet again.'

He grinned, but the smile slipped off his face when he saw the bandages spanning the right side of my head. I'd thought that the cut had looked worse than it really was, but Nurse T might have gone overboard. She hadn't seemed like the sort at all.

'Are you, um...' he gestured, involuntarily it seemed, at his own face. 'How are you?'

I sighed. 'I honestly can't see why everyone's making such a fuss. It's barely a scratch.'

He laughed before he could muffle it, a quick bright sound. I raised an eyebrow at him, but his grin was invincible now. 'Sorry, I just—you sound just like someone I know.'

I was staring again, I know it. 'I'm sorry, I, er...was there something...?'

He leaned a hip against the bed, looking abashed. 'I actually came to apologise,' he mumbled. 'Didn't mean to make trouble for you on your first day.' He was looking at his feet now, not at me. His shoulders were drawn up so he seemed almost to disappear into his own collar like a tortoise. I would have smiled if he had not looked so lost. 'Always seem to make trouble for someone, somehow.'

I watched him, unsure of what to say. Finally, afraid he would leave once he had spoken his piece, I ventured, 'That flying thing. The one that...' -cut me- would not have been the right choice of phrase at all, '...that you and your friend had. Did you make it?'

He shrugged, but seemed to emerge a little from his shell. 'I was tinkering with something on the way over, and Jer thought it would make a good motor for her glider. We started messing with it—I can't remember which of us did what to it, really.' That small ironic smile appeared again. 'I just remember what needs work.'

'It's beautiful,' I said, deciding to be honest.

His smile brightened a little. 'Yeah?' Then he came to himself, and seemed to try for modesty. 'Well, you know. We made it to fly, not be pretty.'

'It flies very well, as I can attest,' I said, touching my bandage. He winced, and I smiled to let him know I was only teasing. 'No, I seems to work well, as designed, but it's -also- beautiful. I don't often see that kind of craft.' I paused, remembering my grandfather's former frigate Embassy. 'Except on ships, of course.'

His face kindled suddenly. 'Yeah!' he said. 'They're gorgeous. At full sail, with the solar cells all lit up...'

'That little lift when you leave orbit, and the thump when they engage gravity...'

'...and then the thrusters!' he exclaimed. 'Pow!'

'Whoosh!' I cried. We fell helplessly to laughing, and I was about to ask him what his first ship had been when Nurse T came in. I realised we had forgotten to lower our voices.

She was not as sharp with Jim as she had been with Fitz, possibly because I had learned my lesson this time and managed to laugh without pulling my cut overmuch. Nevertheless, he had to go, and with a rueful smile and a little nod Jim Hawkins shuffled out. I had to stop myself from waving goodbye like one of my little cousins.

So my first day at Stellar Academy, and my first meeting with Jim Hawkins, was rather more fraught with drama and distraction than I would have liked. But I had a good feeling about it even then, and that warm glow, I remember, carried me back into sleep.

-end 1-

Reluctant to post on AO3 as this desperately needs a beta, and I am not sure who I can even ask. Should I get rid of the framing device? Is it 'Stevenson' enough? Can I convince people to care about Leigh and his problems? Any help or advice would be appreciated.
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October 2015

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