Trying Too Hard
Hahn pulls the long black threads from the container where he'd been accumulating it since Professor Holt's experiment had completed. Chemical tests indicate that the stuff is almost pure elemental Carbon, but the shape is nothing like coal or the pitch from which it's made.
Fibers of Carbon, Hahn decided it was just this, and the material seems quite strong; a few threads were more than capable of holding up a lead weight, and even more strength comes when it's heat treated over a couple thousand degrees Centigrade. All this from something no less flexible than sail cloth... just imagine the possibilities.
The student puts down his pen, and looks at the paper he's been writing on the potential applications of Carbon Fiber. While he suspected that it would be even more useful if he could somehow make the fabric hold rigid, the cloth woven from such fibers readily stopped quite a few projectiles and strikes before it finally tore, and he immediately thought of protective apparel. He wonders about the ancient civilization that first discovered it, and what they were like, being able to do almost anything with their boundless knowledge. They probably all lived in the lap of luxury and comfort, like gods of their realm....
A mechanical clock on the other side of the room begins to chime, and Hahn snaps out of his daydream.
Shit, I'm late! He throws the paper into his backpack and sprints into town for his night job.
Bartender! Gimme the strongest shtuff ya gots! Hahn looks at the drunkard, uneasily swaying as he insists on yet another drink.
I hate this place.... He pulls a fresh glass from under the bar, and quietly adds a dash of sedative to a shot of expensive whiskey before collecting payment for the drink. The drunk snatches it up and downs the equivalent of a week of Hahn's wages in a single gulp before slamming the glass back down on the counter.
One of these times, some guy's liver is gonna jump out and call for a general strike. Then what'll these idiots do?
The drunken man sways for a couple minutes, and finally falls backwards off his barstool. As Hahn signals to the bouncer to remove the unsightly body, another student of the Academy walks up, flashing a toothy grin,
Hey, Hahn, my man! What's happening with you?
Hahn reaches under the counter and pulls out a bottle, popping the cork for his friend with his trusty dagger.
Just trying to make tuition for the next term....
Don't your family send an allowance? What tight-asses...
My father didn't even want me to come here.
Hahn's friend helps himself to the bottle and tosses a generous tip over.
What kind of bullshit is that? C'mon, this is supposed to be the one time in your life where you do whatever the hell you want! The student takes a large swig from his bottle, and extends it to Hahn.
Here, you need this more than me.
Hahn waves it off,
I'm afraid one taste and I'll be asleep like that guy, Hahn points at the person he drugged right as he gets thrown out into the street by the muscled Motavian that acts as a bouncer for the student pub.
The two engage in small talk for a bit, and Hahn eventually looks at the graduated candle used to measure time in the bar.
Hey, you ready to take over? I gotta go over to the inn in a few minutes. He passes his bartender's apron over to his friend, and heads towards the inn to take over as night clerk.
Hahn settles down in the backroom of the quiet inn and breaks out a math book to study, but his tired mind begins to wander... he thinks about his home, and how he wound up leaving it. Would his parents ever forgive his leaving without permission? He remembers receiving a letter stating that he'd been cut from his father's will, but he hasn't heard anything at all on his mother's thoughts. It's as if he simply isn't their son anymore....
As he contemplates on all the friends he's out of touch with, he decides the one person he misses the most is Saya. He closes his eyes and dreams of her... her long, silky hair and perfect body paired with an amazing intellect and a humble demeanor.... His imagination places her on the shore overlooking Soldier's Temple, wearing nothing but the nightgown he last saw her in. A light breeze picks up, and she lets the pink silk drop to the sandy ground before turning to him, a smile on her face.
Hey, are you in there?
Huh? Hahn lifts his face from the textbook and looks around.
Why is it always only a dream...?
Yeah! Hang on! Hahn silently vows to never fall asleep at work again as he makes his way to the counter.
Hello, and welcome to the inn... Hahn yawns.
Hahn, isn't it a bit late for you to be working?
Hahn opens his eyes and realizes that it's the Principal himself who had walked in.
Wh-what brings you here?!
The old man pulls out a list and passes it over.
I need to book rooms for these people for when they come up for Prospective Student Day next month. Just charge it to the Academy account. Hahn takes the list and walks over to a large calendar in the backroom, and begins to put names into the various rooms.
By Light.... Hahn's eyes grow wide as he nears the bottom of the list, and he nearly falls backward.
Is something wrong, Hahn?
Wha-no, nothing's wrong. I'm just a little fatigued. Y'know, two jobs plus school...
The principal frowns a little.
Perhaps I should go visit the Financial Aid office again, just to make sure you are getting everything you need. I'll tell you if I find anything to help. Hahn watches the man walk off, and with his heart fluttering, he writes Saya's name onto the reservation calendar.
Prospective Student Day. It's a holiday of sorts celebrated by the town of Piata, where school and business alike open their doors to the scrutiny of those considering pursuing an education in the Town of Learning in hopes of attracting the brightest minds and the money they bring. Hahn found himself
volunteered to fill in for the inn's day clerk, and found out quite quickly that the place becomes crowded faster than a lemonade stand on the hottest day of the year with the innumerable families arriving tired from their long journeys to see the place.
As Hahn pulls out a handful of room keys for a particularly angry bunch of parents, a voice pierces through him like a blade through an unarmored fighter.
Hahn! He looks over to see a blue-haired girl clutching a reservation letter.
Saya! Hahn vaults over the counter and pushes his way over to his fiance.
Oh, how I've missed you, Saya....
The two lovers hold each other in an embrace, unwilling to let go. Eventually, one of the customers approaches.
I hate to interrupt, but do you mind getting your lazy ass in gear and getting us checked into our rooms sometime today?
Man, I hate my job....
One second, sir. Hahn brushes Saya's hair back and gives her a kiss before getting back to work.
An eternity of six hours later, Hahn steps out of the inn, his bag in hand. Desperate to get in a little studying before the final exams, he walks through the main city gates, and takes a short trek to a grassy plain a short ways to the southwest. When he reaches his favorite shade tree, he finds that someone was already partaking in a nap there.
His feet rustle the grass as he approaches, and the woman opens her eyes and looks at him.
Saya? What are you doing out here?
This felt like a good place to relax for a bit. I guess you came here for the same reason?
Hahn nods, and sits down cross-legged beside her.
So, how has everybody been since I left?
Your dad's been going crazy trying to find an apprentice, but I think he's secretly missing you. My mom's not feeling very well, which is why I'm here. We need another teacher to help take the load off her.
The two continue to make small talk as Hahn skims through his textbooks, and as the light turns too dim to read, Hahn packs up his stuff, and the two make their way back to town.
Back at the inn, Hahn uses his key to unlock the front door and to let Saya in without alerting the night clerk.
So, I was thinking, uh, it'd be quite a bit cheaper if we shared one dorm room and split the cost instead of keeping separate lodgings.
Saya giggles a little.
You just want to see me naked, isn't it? Even in the moonlight, she can see Hahn's face turn a cherry red.
That can wait for the honeymoon, right? She gives a quick peck on the cheek,
Thank you for the offer.
As Saya steps out of sight towards her room, Hahn lets out his breath. To no one in particular, he says,
I take it that's what happens when you're too forward....