Chapter 157

              The spirit inside Melbrook Hall was lighter than it had been in months, as its residents returned.  With the hurdle of last semester cleared, the next one far away, and Nick’s successful rescue; everyone was feeling optimistic about the coming weeks at Lander. One person was extra excited though, and his joy had nothing to do with the program.

                Vince and Hershel had only been back for half an hour, dropped off by Mr. Transport in the mid-morning, before the doorbell of Melbrook began dinging incessantly. Vince headed down the front hallway before any discussion arose, returning quickly with Alex, who was clutching a large binder in his arms.

                “Tell me you did some costuming work over the break,” Alex said, barely managing to get through the door before the words leapt out of his mouth.

                “I… we aren’t even seniors… OH!” Hershel nearly smacked himself as realized kicked in at last. “That costuming. For the Star Puncher opening. Yeah, I knocked out a few sketches in my downtime. What about you?”

                “I did considerably more than a few,” Alex replied, setting his weighty binder down on the table. “Home is really boring compared to here. Practically all I did was train and plan.”

                “That can’t possibly be full of just stuff for your costume,” Hershel said, words more filled with hope than certainty.

                “Of course not. I just knew everyone else didn’t have the background to put their own outfits together, so I made designs for them too.”

                Vince carefully interrupted the conversation. “When you say everyone…”

                “Everyone. You, Camille, Mary, Alice, Chad, Violet, Thomas, Will, Jill, all of our friends. Good thing Star Puncher has such a wide array of characters; I don’t think I had to repeat a single person.”

                “I don’t recall all those people agreeing to join us,” Vince pointed out.

                “Maybe not, but they will once they realize how awesome it’s going to be,” Alex replied, enthusiasm willfully undeterred. “In the meantime, we can start with the people we know are coming along. I whipped up some basics for Chad’s Gelfrak costume, there’s no one else he could really play. Vince, for you I wasn’t a hundred percent sure who best fit your look, so I went made concepts for Dialong and Tuspay. Technically they’re twins, but the style of their costumes and the make-up you’d need would both be very different.”

                “Wait, did you say make-up?”

                “Nothing too extensive, just some horns by your ears and ridges on your forehead. Oh, and of course we’d do all of your visible skin in either a light blue or a dark green, depending on which character you played.”

                “And you know how to do all that?” Vince asked.

                “Duh, I’ve been doing sci-fi openings since I saw The Trilogy for the first time. My dad taught me how to do Klingon make-up when we went to see Star Trek. I’m also decent with a sewing machine, but I’ve got nothing on Hershel.”

                Hershel gave a humble shrug and began flipping through Alex’s binder. He didn’t consider himself especially gifted at any aspect of costume crafting; it was just that running his LARP group for so long had given him wagon-loads of practice. Tunics and capes didn’t sew themselves. Well… technically they did in game when the right spells were cast, but he still had to do actual mending as the real-world counter-part to his character. Even with his level of skill, a cursory glance at Alex’s binder told him that many of the proposed outfits were beyond what he could manage.

                “Alex, you’re going to have to scale some of these back. The premiere is in about a month, there’s no way I’ll be able to do Kilworth’s Robe of Battle. It trails ten feet behind him and every scrap is a different pattern.”

                “I can pitch in some,” Vince offered. “We had to sew our clothes when they ripped for my whole childhood.”

                “Working a sewing machine with a pattern is a whole different animal,” Hershel said. “I’m not saying you can’t learn, or that I won’t take you up on the offer to help, just that it won’t cut out as much work as you might think.”

                Suddenly, Mr. Transport was standing in the middle of the room, as was Chad, holding a pair of suitcases in his powerful hands. For the three who had already been in the room, it was a curious experience. They were usually the ones being teleported, so they never got to see the momentary look of confusion as those hopping through space re-acclimated to their immediate change in surroundings.

                “Hey Chad. I thought you drove home over break,” Hershel said.

                “Hello Hershel. No, I merely caught a ride with someone; however, Mr. Transport was the best option for my return trip.” Chad carefully lowered his suitcases to the ground. “Hello Vince and Alex. Are you all studying already?”

                “We’re going over costume plans for the Star Puncher premiere,” Alex explained. “But this might not be good anymore, since Hershel I can’t manage all of it ourselves.”

                “I don’t mind adding my hands in when time allows,” Chad said. “It is supposed to be a group effort, after all.”

                “Do you know how to use a sewing machine and read a pattern?” Hershel asked.

                “Not currently, however if you give me half an hour for research and video tutorials, I should achieve a moderate skill level.”

                “Yeah… that’d be great.” It was amazing how easily Hershel let slip his brain that Chad’s ability came with an entire suite of practical uses. It boggled the mind to think what their blond friend could have accomplished if he’d gone into the mundane world for his career. Of them all, Chad’s power most lent itself to a life of ease. He could excel at a job that taxed the mind, body, or both. The fact that he’d traded it for Hero work, the sort of career that was likely to get him killed more than anything, made it all the more impressive.

                “Awesome, with Chad on board we should be able to handle the sewing, which is good because it frees us up the tackle the bigger problems,” Alex said.

                “Dare I even ask?” Vince said.

                “I thought it would be obvious. To make this night all that it can be, to truly turn it into the piece of cherished memory it was meant to be, there’s a crucial element that must be present.” Alex shut the binder and all but beamed with determination.

                “We have to get the girls to costume up and join us.”