chanter_greenie: a starscape, including a spiral galaxy (on a quest for a jewel)
[personal profile] chanter_greenie
Thanks to a donation from the ever-lovely [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith, another orange!verse fic gets posted. This one's backdated roughly three years from the end of Cat's In The Cradle. Bonus: Spot the cameo by another sH cast member!


There's a saying among the Resistance that Quinn goes as far as the road runs. It's true.

He's been from Sept-Iles to the backstreets of New Orleans and most places in between, discounting one or two along the way that even he isn't brave (or foolish, or committed, or just plain curious) enough to attempt to visit. Quebec is and will always be home; anybody who tries to persuade him otherwise gets treated to a case of selective deafness and a disgusted look or four. Worse, if they're persistent about it. But Quinn's got wandering feet, to say nothing of reasons and vested interest, enough to make temporarily leaving home base a bearable thing.

Quinn knows his own sky, as much as anyone can lay claim to a starscape. When you study something from the rooftops of McGill on certain autumn evenings, fueled by nothing but coffee, curiosity and the adrenaline rush that comes with avoiding security guards by the skin of your teeth, you get to feeling maybe not ownership, but certainly connection with the view. It's not as if those stars change dramatically in a hundred kilometers. but Quinn notices the subtle differences in pattern and angle just the same as he goes from Montreal to Ottawa, to Toronto, to Windsor and Detroit, to Chicago, to Saint Louis and southward and back again. They're tilted cobbles in a path, loose floorboards, uneven stairs; they'll trip you up until you get used to them. Maybe you stop noticing after a while, maybe you don't.

Quinn doesn't.

He maps them, chartless and comparatively clumsy with that lack, whenever he gets the chance. He knows perfectly well that his results will be on the unreliable side; clandestine views from university rooftops or no, he's an amateur at the skywatch, and it's not as though he always has time for careful surveys. Dancing under a Manitoban September sky, for instance, doesn't leave large amounts of room for contemplation, especially with such a talented fiddler playing from the barn doorway. Between raised dust, the mingled campfire and cornsilk smells in the air and the girl in his arms, he only gets a glimpse of the constellations before he's happily distracted again. But it's enough to remember, if nothing else.

A couple glimmers here and there, none of which he's had time to research enough to get names, change in angle and location so gradually he barely notices at first. The quieter streets of the Sault Sainte Marie on one side of the border are, after all, just different enough from the ones in a similar city south of the line to merit his attention staying mostly on the ground once he hits the latter. But Indianapolis is something else again, at least when passing trains aren't obscuring the horizon with pollution, and a handful of small Illinois cities might only have whistle stop hints to give, but Quinn is not an unobservant man. It's when he's busy losing a pair of determined cops in the river district of Saint Louis that he really notices, someplace between avoiding sprawling on the cobblestones and making himself disappear on the other side of a line of evening shoppers better termed a trickle than a stream, just how much different the stars are here.

It's not home. It'll never be home.

Quinn can't fault the angles of the stars for being off by comparison to what he knows by heart. Hell, he's fond of saying, not just any night can challenge perfection. He's got nothing at all against other people's stars, and all the sappy cliches about sleeping under the same sky aside, that's exactly what they are.

But they're useful, those altered shapes and shimmers, and they're friendly in their own politely distant sort of way. What's a pinprick on the far northern edge of the horizon when viewed from Texas, seen from the vantage point of a friend's supportive copper shoulder, is a distinct spark breaking through the dusk descending on Bois Blanc a month later, winking out at Boblo Island and its throngs of tourists from a rapidly deepening indigo gloom. Quinn looks up from beneath curls dyed an inconspicuous middling brown, then keeps walking, pointing out the marker while still on the move. "See that? Not sure about its name, but you'll hit Windsor if you keep heading that way. Works like a charm. Take it from a charmer, oui?"

The sober-faced, shorn-haired teenager at his side doesn't say anything. Her dubious look suggests she doesn't think much of either the Q-so's reckoning or his attempt at easing the tension, but Quinn does catch her glancing upward just before she steps aboard the Ontario-bound ferryboat, and that's enough to make him smile to himself until the vessel's out of sight.

Other places' skies aren't his. They'll never be his.

But... they're alright enough, if you ask him.


Notes start here:

*Bois Blanc was an amusement park near Detroit. The island it was set on shares the name, though that's usually called Boblo Island instead. Thanks to Ysabet and hers for the tip. In the orange!verse, the park is still in operation. You can bet there are Americans closely monitoring the incoming ferryboats and passengers from the Detroit side, but the island itself is in Canadian hands, so if someone's determined to slip through and has a little help... :)

*QSO is a ham radio term meaning contact, specifically a conversation between two or more operators. It's often pronounced Q-so, as in 'I was having a nice little Q-so until the storm static messed it up.' In this case, it's used as a code name for a Resistance contact or guide.

*McGill is a university in Montreal.

*Footnotes are useful. Again, I owe Ysabet for the practice.

Wow!

Date: 2014-01-14 09:44 am (UTC)
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
From: [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This is beautiful. I love the development of Quinn and the charming travelogue.

I'm so happy to be able to share it with other folks. I've linked to this from the Schrodinger's Heroes site, and from my blogs.

Date: 2014-01-15 03:15 am (UTC)
thnidu: A propellor beanie with an icebag. Smoffing the Filkers, http://bit.ly/eNgQ0T (fanac)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Very nice! Thank you for writing this. (And thanks, [personal profile] ysabetwordsmith, for sponsoring it and pointing to it.) A side of Quinn I haven't seen before – though of course this is orange!Quinn, and I'm not superfamiliar even with the core!cast. All I can guess for the "copper shoulder" is Tim in a color-change.

There's no "e" in "Sault". Maybe you were led astray by "Ste."; I know I was puzzled by it in school. — My current puzzlement is that "pinprick on the far northern edge of the horizon when viewed from Texas". I keep thinking "Follow the Drinking Gourd", but it can't be Polaris, which is ⅓ of the way up the sky in Waxahachie (ca. 32° N), so it's not going to hold still. OTOH, it's only 30 km, and she'll see the signs soon enough. (GIMF.)

I was wondering about "Q-so"! I was WV2PBR, much 2 long ago. This seems just right as slang/code.

Date: 2014-01-15 07:34 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
Oh, well, I assumed Q – Quinn. Really, Q's too conspiQous to miss. [And that was too obvious to resist. ;-)]

The name of the city is usu. abbr'd "Sault Ste. Marie", "Ste." for "Sainte" (standard Fr. abbr.; "St." is "Saint", the masculine form). I don't think I've ever seen "Sault" abbreviated.

GIYF = "Google is your friend". UrbanDictionary and such indicate that it's usually used snarkily, ≈ "Why don't you just look it up on the Web, stupid?" I don't generally like snark; sometimes I yield to temptation, but seldom if ever with that one. Saying that I had to Google something, OTOH, causes me no problem: in this case, the latitude of Waxahachie, and the direction and distance from Bois Blanc / Boblo (not Bab-lo, AFAIK) Island to Windsor.

You won't find a star other than the polestar that will stay in one place and point the direction, and the height of a star will vary through the night, unless you're at a pole or the star is Polaris. But it should be possible to find a fairly bright star that, as seen from Boblo Island at a given time on a given night of the year, will be at just about the right bearing.

?? I don't get the title. ??
Edited Date: 2014-01-15 07:37 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-01-16 05:51 am (UTC)
thnidu: road sign: diamond-shaped black on yellow. Animated silhouette of user banging head on keyboard over & over (headbang)
From: [personal profile] thnidu
the name of the title is related to radio waves propagating by bouncing off meteors.
D'ohhh! I kept reading or interpreting it as "Meteor shower!" Now that you mention it, though, isn't it reflection off the dust and whatnot in the meteor's wake as it burns in the atmosphere?
… (GIMF)
Ah, close:
• Meteor burst communications (MBC), also referred to as meteor scatter communications, is a radio propagation mode that exploits the ionized trails of meteors during atmospheric entry to establish brief communications paths between radio stations up to 2,250 kilometres (1,400 mi) apart.
Wikipedia


I've never actually seen a starscape for myself
I never saw a moor,
I never saw the sea;
Yet know I how the heather looks,
And what a wave must be.

I never spoke with God,
Nor visited in heaven;
Yet certain am I of the spot
As if the chart were given.

—Emily Dickinson
Edited Date: 2014-01-16 05:56 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-01-17 05:36 am (UTC)
thnidu: my familiar. "Beanie Baby" -type dragon, red with white wings (Default)
From: [personal profile] thnidu

It's something like "Don't worry about never having seen a starscape. You're doin' just fine." :-)

And you're very welcome. I can understand what you wrote, and Google Translate tells me it's xièxiè nǐ with tones and 谢谢你 in hanzi – is but I can't answer in kind on my own. :-) But I enjoyed it!

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