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A Name for Herself

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After Lord Business stole the Kragle, Vitruvius knew he wouldn't take long to start the crackdown on Master Builders. He picked himself off the ground and made his way out of the volcanic land, starting the journey to his home.

The Old West was a long ways away, and his newfound lack of vision made the journey that much harder. Vitruvius put together a crude staff out of bricks on the ground, just to prove he still could. No longer could he see every individual brick of the world, but he could feel them, and he knew they were there to pick apart and put together into something new. A Master Builder never truly lost their abilities. No, Vitruvius would adapt, and he would stop Lord Business from using the Kragle to end the world.

Even if he had to do it alone.

He still had some vision, enough to make out blotches of light and color, and as he traveled through the rocky lands that bordered the Old West's desert, he saw the sky begin to darken. Vitruvius rubbed his sore eyes–no doubt exacerbating the damage–and kept going. He should be nearing the town by now, where he could rest for a while before moving on to his next steps.

A bright light was visible in the distance, or closer. It was hard to tell. Vitruvius tapped his makeshift cane against something, only for it to shift at the impact and fall down with a loud clatter and a yelp.

Vitruvius frowned. "Who's there?"

"Who are you?!" A shape moved in front of the light. "Identify yourself!"

Vitruvius thought carefully. Could Business be looking for him already? "I am but a blind man, looking for the way home."

"That's not an answer!" The figure moved closer. Vitruvius could make out blue and pink blending together. "Who are you, really?"

He shrugged. "Who are you?"

Whoever he was speaking to, they didn't respond right away. Their breaths came harsh and irregular. He tilted his head. "Is something wrong?" he asked.

"I don't know."

Vitruvius raised an eyebrow. "You don't know who you are?"

The figure moved again, this time away from him. "Look, just leave me alone. I've got enough to deal with."

"Of course. I wouldn't want to be a bother." Vitruvius smiled behind his beard. "Take care, and stay safe."

He leaned on his cane and it snapped in half.

Vitruvius landed in a heap. The figure's demeanor changed. "Oh! Are you alright? Here, let me get that."

They crouched next to him and picked up the cane. Vitruvius heard a soft click, and before the unknown person handed it back to him, he knew the cane had been fixed. He couldn't help but chuckle.

"I know who you are," he said. "At least, I know a part of it."

The figure's movement stopped. "What?"

"You're a Master Builder, aren't you?"

They gasped and said nothing. Vitruvius stood up and pointed himself in the direction of their breathing. "You know what that is, don't you?" he said.

"No," they whispered. "I… they just said I couldn't sing with them anymore. That something was wrong with me.I can see–" They made a gesture Vitruvius couldn't comprehend. "–how the world fits together, and I saw something wrong, and I tried to fix it, but then…"

"Are you all alone?"

"Yes."

Vitruvius nodded. "My name is Vitruvius," he said. "I'm a Master Builder, too. Come with me; I can teach you how to use your powers, and you can help me get home. Do you know where the Old West is?"


They reached the Old West just as the sun was rising again. The nameless girl unlocked his door for him and they went inside. "We can't stay long," Vitruvius said. "I'm not certain, but I might be on the run."

"How do you not know?" she asked.

"Well, Lord Business might think I'm dead. In that case, all I have to do is keep it that way."

"Business?" The girl closed the door behind her. "What did you do to make President Business mad at you?"

"I disapproved of his rise to power." Vitruvius felt around the room and picked up something long and straight. "He claimed I was getting in his way. I hadn't gotten to that point yet, but once he made his goals clear, I felt it was my only option."

"You knew him?" she said incredulously. "And he hates you?"

"Yup."

The girl let out a short laugh. "Maybe I shouldn't be hanging around you, if he hates you that much to want you dead."

"Maybe so. But you're a Master Builder, just as I am."

She stopped laughing. "What?"

Vitruvius identified the object he was holding as an actual cane, one built out of a single piece so it couldn't break. He discarded his makeshift one and it clattered on the floor. "Lord Business is not a fan of Master Builders, to say the least," he said. "You must have noticed. He may not have outlawed them yet, but his attitude gives the public permission to discriminate against them, denying them jobs, housing, healthcare, and throwing them into volcanic pits."

"I got a job," the girl protested. "And you say I'm a Master Builder, right?"

"And what happened when you built something?"

She didn't answer.

Vitruvius went deeper into his home. "Could you find the kitchen for me and put together some food to go? We're going to be traveling for a while."

"Where are we going?"

"To meet with one of my friends, hopefully. Another Master Builder. He'll give us a place to stay."

"Why can't we stay here?"

"Because Lord Business knows where I live. Are you getting the food ready?"

The girl stopped talking and walked away.

After some time, Vitruvius finished gathering his things and met the girl at the door, where she told him she had all the food she could find. It wasn't much, given that he spent most of his time out of the house, but it would be enough to get them to their next destination.

A thought occurred to him. "You're going to need a name," he said.

The nameless girl didn't speak for a moment. "Why?" she finally said.

"Something to introduce you as, at the very least. It doesn't have to be your real name, and you can change it later. Just… whatever works."

She took a deep breath. "Gemini," she said. "It's just my star sign, but…"

Vitruvius smiled. "It works. Let's go."


In Middle Zealand, Gandalf was kind enough to host him and Gemini for a few days, long enough for Vitruvius to rest and receive treatment for his eyes. His vision would never come back in full, but the pain went away, and soon he was well enough to start Gemini's training.

"What do I do?" she asked once they had found a secluding clearing in the trees. "Do I just… build things?"

"That's how we're going to practice, yes." Vitruvius tapped his staff on the forest floor. "You already know the basics of building, right? Build something for me."

Gemini didn't move, and Vitruvius couldn't see her expression. He decided to wait for her to act. Wouldn't be good to push her too much, too soon.

Ten minutes went by. Vitruvius coughed.

"I don't know what to build with," Gemini finally said.

"I see." Vitruvius waved his staff around. "Alright, your first lesson is to view the world differently. As a Master Builder, you'll learn to see potential everywhere you go. See how everything is made of bricks?"

"Well, duh. What else would anything be made of?"

"We'll get to that later. Now go punch a tree."

To her credit, Gemini did so without questioning him. "Ow!"

"Punch it until it breaks. Everything is made out of bricks, and bricks can be made into anything. Don't look at the tree as a permanent object, think of it as the sum of its parts. Those parts can be broken up and made into something new. The tree doesn't have to be a tree. Do you understand?"

He heard the thump of Gemini's fist hitting the trunk, over and over, until he heard a crack that he hoped was the tree and not, say, his student's fingers.

"Oh!" Gemini said instead of screaming in pain, so her fingers were probably fine. "What do I do now?"

"Build something. Anything. If you need more bricks, there are more trees."

Gemini said nothing, but Vitruvius heard her move, Click after click, the bricks were put together, and more trees were broken apart. In the little vision he had left, Vitruvius saw a structure taking shape.

With one last click and a grunt of effort, Gemini jumped to the ground and took a few steps away. "What do you think?" she asked.

Vitruvius approached the structure and tapped the walls. "Sturdy," he said, and he stepped up and inside it. "What is it?"

"Oh. Uh, it's a house."

"Alright. Any significance?"

A shadow blocked the light from the entrance. "I miss my home, I guess," Gemini said. "We're not staying here long, are we?"

Vitruvius shook his head. "We'll have to be on the run for a while longer, I'm afraid. But this house is very nice."

When Gandalf could no longer keep them secret, they had to flee Middle Zealand, but they kept the house intact. Vitruvius hoped it would last for a long time.


As time went by, the crackdown began in earnest. The walls went up and Master Builders were expelled from society and forced to go underground. Gemini and Vitruvius stuck together, and Vitruvius taught Gemini all he knew about Master Builders and how to build. He taught her more, too; the Man Upstairs, strange objects that didn't fit into the grid of their world, and the Kragle–the most powerful of the relics, and one that could end the world.

"President Business is going to end the world?" she said in horror. "Is this not enough? We already can't live like normal people!"

"He stole something that could make things much worse, yes." Vitruvius paced back and forth in the small room, the basement's ceiling low above his head. "I don't know when he intends to use it, but he certainly intends to. We have to get it from him as soon as possible."

"You can't," someone said from the doorway.

Vitruvius turned towards the noise. "Larry Poppins?" he asked. "It's very nice of you to let us sleep here, but I didn't realize you'd be sitting in on our lessons."

"You can't just waltz back in and take the Kragle," Larry said. "Lord Business has all the worlds under his control, he has relics we haven't even heard of, and half the population's been brainwashed by him and his robot army."

"We have to do something," Gemini insisted. "Even if it seems hopeless, we can't give up! I want my life back!"

"That's impossible!"

"Be nice," Vitruvius said. He aimed a glare in Larry's approximate direction.

When the other man spoke again, he sounded somewhat apologetic. "I'm not trying to be rude," he said, "just realistic. You're young and naive, and you haven't been a Master Builder long. What we need to do is keep our heads down and blend in. He might not use the Kragle. Maybe he'll never use the Kragle, if we keep playing by his rules."

"Is that really the life you want to live?" Vitruvius asked.

"Hey, any life is better than none at all. And I gotta say, it's gonna be hard for you to blend in with that cotton-candy hairstyle."

"What?" Vitruvius said.

"Oh, right, you're blind. See, your student has this blue-and-pink striped hair, and–"

Vitruvius heard a door slam. "Gemini?" he called. "Did you leave? Which way did you go?"

Larry sucked in a sharp breath. "Whoops! I didn't mean, uh–"

Vitruvius shook his head. "Larry, I suggest you follow your own advice and keep your head down. The Master Builders need hope most of all. You may be content with what you have, but a better life is worth fighting for."

He turned away from Larry and went to find Gemini.


"I'm gonna change my name."

Vitruvius politely ignored the sharp smell of permanent marker in the air and focused on his student. "Is this about what Larry said? Listen, he's just a knockoff of a much more beloved character. Don't take it personally."

"He was right. I am naive. I need to be tough and cool if I'm going to stop Lord Business. Or, y'know, help the others stop him."

Vitruvius hesitated. "Well," he finally said, "if it helps your confidence, I won't argue. What should I call you?"

"Darkstorm."

He nodded. "Very tough and cool."

"Thanks," Darkstorm said, though there was no joy in her voice. "Let's get back to training."


Darkstorm threw herself into her training, and with Vitruvius' training, she learned to stretch her imagination to the limit. The number of Master Builders dwindled, more and more captured or otherwise done away with, and Vitruvius worried about his student's emotional state. Certainly, as her skills expanded, Darkstorm was a valuable asset to the remaining Master Builders, but she was so much more than that. Vitruvius wasn't sure she recognized the value in herself.

The breaking point came when she changed her name again.

"Student," Vitruvius said, "we need to talk."

With his limited vision, he could tell his student was edging towards the door of their underground shelter. "I have a name, y'know."

"I know, and it's because I care very much about you that I am telling you this: I don't think calling yourself 'Neversmile' is healthy."

Neversmile groaned. "Look, I just need to do my part in taking down Lord Business, alright? Then Master Builders won't have to live in fear anymore."

"There's more to life than that."

"No there isn't! Not while we're being hunted!" Neversmile raised her voice. "We still don't know what Lord Business is doing to the captured Master Builders! The only thing I can think about is survival! There's not gonna be some hero who swoops in to save us–we have to save ourselves!"

Vitruvius recalled the last words he said to Lord Business. Just a spur-of-the-moment speech to keep him on guard, but it could serve two purposes, couldn't it? Master Builders needed hope.

His student needed hope.

"What if there was a hero?" he said.

"What?"

"When Lord Business stole the Kragle from me, I had… a vision." Vitruvius took a deep breath. "One day, a talented lass or fellow…"


Neversmile might've kept her name as is, but Vitruvius could've sworn he noticed her smiling once in a while. He could feel it, even if he couldn't see it. They worked together for some time, but Vitruvius was getting older, and he couldn't keep up with her as well as he used to. He taught her all he knew, but their paths took them apart. They parted ways, Neversmile promising they would find each other again. Vitruvius believed her.

He found a saloon in the Old West willing to host him. The owner didn't remember him from when he lived in the area, but she was sympathetic to an old man with nowhere else to go, and when Vitruvius was a bit too loose with his building, she looked the other way. That was all he could ask for, really.

One day, he heard someone creeping up behind him while he played the piano. Vitruvius didn't sense any weapons on them, but he tensed all the same. Had Lord Business finally found him?

"Vitruvius," the strange woman whispered.

"Oh," he said casually, "you mean the great wizard wanted by the Super Secret Police? Never heard of him."

"Vitruvius, it's me."

So this was someone he knew, hm? Vitruvius had many friends and more enemies. "I am a blind man, and cannot see."

"Wyldstyle!" she hissed.

Vitruvius frowned. "Who? Are you a DJ?"

"What? No, why does everyone keep saying–"

He finally placed an identity to the voice and brightened up at once. "Oh! You're the student I used to have who kept changing her name!"

"What?" Wyldstyle said. "No, that's not–"

"Yeah!" There was no mistaking that voice now; he felt silly for not recognizing the name as one of hers. "First it was Gemini, then Darkstorm, then Neversmile–"

"No! No! I mean–okay, yes, it's me!"

Vitruvius cut his piano short and turned to her. "Meet me upstairs in five seconds," he said, then added, "It's good to see you, Wyldstyle."

"Yeah," Wyldstyle said. "Good to see you too."