A story about two reused characters of mine. Written for "Quotation Inspiration".
|(Word Count: 1998) |
Penelope Reuthe’s tail twitched back and forth in frustration, her arms crossed over her chest. This wasn’t working. WHY wasn’t this working? It should be working. There was no reason it shouldn't be.
The lattice work of gears and levers which was causing such offence, released a high pitched groan before the motor she had connected released a tendril of smoke. The young tabby let out a hiss, brandishing her screwdriver like a knife set to stab the machine, in response to this affront.
As if in self defense, and further defiance, a brass cog chose that moment to shoot out of the device. Missing its creator by less than a foot, and causing her to recoil from the attack, dropping the tool from her hand. Penelope slumped into her seat, her orange tabby fur fluffed up like a cushion.
This automatic difference engine was to be the proof of concept for the rest of her bachelor's thesis. If she couldn’t get this done, how would she finish the rest of the project? It was far too late to start a new one from scratch, so she had to make this work… somehow.
After smoothing out her fur, she turned back to her notebook, and the plans she had drawn out. Checking her calculations… again.
She had checked her measurements, and tolerances at least ten times now. She knew they were correct. But she was obviously still missing something, for the live of her, she had no idea what!
“Ahg!” she screamed, slamming her fists on the table, sending a number of items flying, “WHY WON'T YOU JUST WORK!”
“Well, dear heart,” a soothing feminine voice came from behind her, “whatever you’re doing, I would venture to guess: berating it into submission isn’t likely to work.”
Penelope turned to look at her roommate, Rada Drahokam, suddenly feeling a tad sheepish, “Um… how long have you been here, Rada?”
The ravishing equine woman shrugged her jacket off, hanging it by the door to their dorm room, “Since you tried to murder your thesis project with a screw driver.”
“Well, it hasn’t been cooperating,” Penelope turned in her seat, “I thought I would try more tyrannical methods. It decided to fight back.”
“I see,” Rada collected the ejected cog from the floor, “with a vengeance too, it would seem, darling.”
Penelope let out a harsh laugh, “Yea, I guess it was. Well, I should get back to it. I have to figure this out… WHAH!”
Rada pulled the smaller woman, and the chair she was in, to the middle of the room. She stepped around to look the feline in the eyes, barring her from escape by grabbing the arms of the chair.
“What you need to do,” the busty equine insisted in a stern voice, “is get away from this for a while. Or at least before you end up destroying your thesis, and our dorm room.”
Penelope pressed up against the back of her chair, “But I need to get this done! I…”
“You assume I’m giving you a choice in this, darling,” the pale coated fashion design major all but dragged Penelope out of her chair, and over to their shared wardrobe, “you need to relax and TAKE. A. BREAK.”
As Rada began sorting through her collection of evening dresses, the notably smaller feline woman started to edge back towards her work table. Only to be stopped in her tracks by her roommate.
“Ah! not another step, Penny,” Rada turned on her hoof, her hands set on her hips, “Look, if you keep beating your head against this project, all you’re going to get is a headache.”
“AAAGH,” the younger roommate groaned, “Can I at least turn the thing off? It’s smoking.”
“Ok, go ahead,” Rada conceded, turning back to the wardrobe, “but you and I are going out, and having fun tonight.”
“What’s more fun than beating unfinished machinery into submission?” Penelope jested as she switched off the motor on the difference engine, and disconnected the small electrostatic collector powering it. She grimaced at the assembly of, seemingly unrelated, components. All were still large and clunky, though, it was only the proof of concept.
Still, it infuriated her that it was being so difficult. She felt her tail fluff at the possibility of it not working at all.
“Hmmm,” the fashion-designer-in-training considered aloud, “Well, there is this delightful social club downtown, the Lightning Rod? How about... we stop at the pool hall, and beat the trousers off of a couple of cute freshman? And make them pay for a night splendor, dancing and dining.”
“UUGH!” Penelope groaned, as she padded across to her bunk, “Again? You know, someone is going to catch on if we keep this up. What do you plan to do if we lose to one of these freshman?”
“The only thing we need is…” Rada didn’t seem to hear her roommates quiry, “AH! Perfect! Here, Put this on, darling, it’ll be perfect on you.”
“Um, Rada,” the small orange feline chided, taking the ensemble she was handed, noting that it seemed tailor made for her, “Did you hear a word I said? If we keep doing this every time we want a night out, someone’s going to catch on. And they won’t be happy about it.”
“Oh, don’t worry so much, Penny,” Rada dismissed, “Besides, if anyone does try to get fresh with us, I’m sure the two of us can handle whatever they dish out.”
Rada had developed a reputation around campus as something of a wild mare, so hooking young, drooling, hopeful freshman was often easy for her. The problem was, she never followed through with any imagined promises of sensuality when she did hook one. All though, so far as Penelope had witnessed, she had never needed to.
Not that Rada ever actually made any such promises, most just seemed to assume such things were on the table. Any time the idea was put forward by some one, she quickly turned it down, and took her winnings.
Shaking her head, Penelope changed into the deep rust colored clothes she had been given. It was a complete outfit, too. All the way down to the beautifully crafted leggings; made from lacquered auburn leather, with what looked to be hand carved engravings in them, too. The brass buckles on the sides shown brightly, even in dim light.
As she continued to dress, she realized that the clothes Rada had given her didn’t seem to be tailor made for her. They were tailor made for her. Everything fit perfectly, even the tail slit in the bustle-skirt. How did her roommate do that? Penelope had never given any of her measurements. Especially to this detail.
She shrugged the deep rust colored velveteen outing jacket on over the crisp, white button blouse. The rolled cuffs of the blouse peaked perfectly out of the three quarter length sleeves of the jacket. Open cuffs on the jacket ensured her movement was unhindered.
Penelope observed her reflection in a standing mirror Rada had insisted on being present in the room. The ensemble somehow managed to be both attractive and practical. She nodded to her double in the mirror and turned to her room mate.
What she saw made her breath catch in her throat.
Rada was already fully changed into a stunning promenade dress, of varying shades of silvery silk. She looked as though she was sitting on a small storm cloud, complete with rain droplets and the occasional flash of lightning.
Lightening, she saw, which came from a pair of ornate silver barding. The segments of which ran from the edge of each hoof, to her knees. They flashed brightly every time she moved, even through the layers of translucent material which made up her skirt.
“What do you think, darling?” The ravishing equine turned to her stunned roommate, “It’s not too much, is it?”
“Wow,” Penelope gaped, “I doubt you’ll have any trouble catching the attention of… well, everyone.”
She caught herself admiring how well Radas outfit managed to be perfectly modest, while accentuating the woman's statuesque figure. Though Penelope had always found her tastes leaning towards men, a certain out-of-reach canid professor of hers in particular. At times, her roommate made her second guess such feelings.
As if reading her mind, Rada let out a full, yet musical laugh. Then turned to a nearby mirror, pinning a matching hat into her, currently, black and silver streaked mane
“Well, if I can turn your attention from that handsome Professor you’ve been pining for,” She spoke into the mirror before smiling over her shoulder, “even if it was only for a moment… I would be inclined to agree, dear heart.”
“You, on the other hand,” Rada turned and strode to where Penelope stood, examining her and the new outfit, then teased, “look positively delicious. If I didn’t already know your preferences, I would just bring you on my arm tonight.”
Penelope was well aware of her friends romantic leanings after living with her for three years. Though she was never sure if she should feel flattered or uneasy with the equines playful flirting. And often dealt with a mixture of both.
“How does it feel?” Rada was now a tad more serious, “Is the fit alright? How’s your range of motion, I know how you hate restrictive clothing.”
“It’s wonderful, Rada,” the young feline reassured, “I don’t think I could be more comfortable if I was in just my fur.”
Penelope’s eyes went wide when she realized what she had said. She went to retract the statement, but her roommate beat her to it.
“Really now,” the fashion students tone was turning seductive, leaning down and drawing uncomfortably close to the younger woman, “you know, I could work with that…”
“Um, w-well…” Penelope sputtered, her whiskers suddenly feeling strangely warm, “L-let’s get going… w-we don’t want to miss out on… um… the best tables!”
She wheeled around her friend and quickly marched to the door, opening it. This brought on another hearty, melodious laugh from the older woman.
“Sweet heart,” Rada followed to the door, taking up a simmering lace parasol, “you are far too fun to tease.”
Still feeling more than a little flushed, Penelope opened the door and held it for her friend and roommate.
“Rada,” she continued to sputter, now more exasperated than anything, “w-why do you have to be so… d-damned confusing!”
“Simple, my darling Penny,” the tall equine smiled as she strode through the open door, “it makes life so much more entertaining.”
Penelope rolled her eyes at that, and followed her friend out the door, closing it behind them. Leaving a loose cog to spring free of her difference engine, alone in the locked room.
Penelope awoke late the next morning, back in their dorm room, sprawled on her bunk. As she moved her head from the pillow, her head throbbed in remembrance of the alcohol she had consumed the night before. Never again would she allow anyone to convince her to try “Green Chartreuse,” she didn’t care if it did have mint in it. The tip of her nose and whiskers were still a little numb from the experience.
Groggy and feeling as though she were somehow floating, the tabby managed to find her way out of bed and over to their coffee engine. Slowly, she began making a fresh pot of coffee.
While she did so, she noticed her roommate, asleep on their loveseat. Half of her magnificent dress from the night before was removed. Rada seemed to have fallen asleep before she had gotten further.
Penelope allowed herself a slight smile at how peaceful she looked.
Coffee in hand, and her head beginning to clear, she looked to her thesis project, still strewn across her desk. As she did so, something clicked in her mind.
It was so simple…
She quickly sat in her chair, and with a triumphant smile, began working on the device once again.