463: Listening In

on October 19, 2010 in Book 16

In Which Mackenzie Is Obliviously Perceptive

There was a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I’d let myself get sidetracked away from something important, but I also felt like I’d said what was on my mind so I pushed it away and let Ian lead us back inside.

It was easy to cede control to Ian. His need to take the lead was practically reaching out and twining around me. I didn’t mind following along behind him… something about the night was making me feel very small and very vulnerable and being outside away from the crowd was only making it worse. I felt like we were as much fleeing from the cold and strangeness in the air as heading towards the warmth and familiarity we could find with each other, indoors.

Also, it was a nice feeling to be wrapped up in his need and his love, like being bundled up in his coat… like the way my hand was gripped in his.

He stopped us in front of the group where Pala and Two were. It had both split and grown in the time we were outside. Shiel was off having her own conversation, and Honey and Hazel had disappeared, but some of Two’s classmates who had been at our party.

“Hey,” he said. “We’re going to go upstairs for a bit, but we’ll come back down if people are still hanging out. Otherwise, I guess… well, I think we’re going to be inside for the night.”

I noticed that he was very specifically looking at Pala as he said this, like he was updating her about our whereabouts. I didn’t know exactly what the parameters of her bodyguard gig were… I would have assumed she was off-duty once I was back at the dorm.

“Have you eaten dinner?” Two asked.

“What?” Ian said. “Uh, no, I guess not… maybe we could order something in?”

He’d clearly not thought that far ahead. Neither had I, but I didn’t need to eat food, I just liked it. And I was supposed to, to try to make me feel more connected with my human side. I felt plenty connected at the moment, but I could always be more so. What could be better for that or more appropriate than pizza? It seemed like such a prototypical college food, and so… communal, too. One persons says something like “Anybody else feel like pizza?” and everybody throws in a few coins and before you know it everybody’s eating out of a box.

“Pizza sounds good,” Ian continued, his voice growing in confidence. “We’ll put an order together later, if anybody else wants to get in on it. Are you going to be around, Pala?”

“I think so,” she said. “I was hoping to spend the night in the dorm, overnight. To see what it would be like, living on campus.”

“Mack, I need your permission for her to stay with us,” Two said. “Which I think you should give me because it’s not fair if…”

“Yeah, Two, it’s fine,” I said. “As long as she doesn’t mind sleeping on the floor.”

“Is there something very different about your floor?” she asked, and I realized that she was lying on the floor, as it seemed like she had been half the time I saw her. I supposed being comfortable without furniture made it easier to move between differently sized cultures.

“No, it’s just a floor,” I said.

“That is what I like about floors,” Pala said. “They are always floors, or very nearly so.”

“Well, anyway, if you can’t stick around, let Two know so she can tell us,” Ian said to Pala.

“Okie dokie,” she said. “Anything else?”

Maybe she was off-duty, but it seemed like Ian liked the thought of her working for him. He wasn’t being rude or pushy or anything, just acting less like a client and more like a boss… or a commanding officer. In fact, it wasn’t even really anything in how he was acting… it was more how he carried himself, what he projected.

In that instant I thought I had an inkling of understanding about the… rapport… he seemed to be cultivating with Callahan. Perhaps he was looking for a leadership position in the arena.

Coach’s assistant? Captain? I didn’t know how the program was organized… there were team events but I wasn’t sure that the roster of gladiators constituted a “team” or that it had or needed a captain… but he wouldn’t be satisfied with just being another fighter. I felt certain that he’d want to work his way up more than just the competition ladder.

Especially since he would never be the strongest gladiator, or the best fighter… he had some natural talent and he was focused, but there were people in the program who had been fighting competitively their whole lives. Given that he’d signed up in part to overcome feelings of inadequacy and lack of control…

I felt a flush of embarrassment, like I’d somehow pried too deeply with what was basically idle speculation. The weird thing was I wasn’t even paying attention to what he was saying… it was more in how he said it, it seemed.

I tried to ignore him and focused on what was happening around us instead.

I’d always sort of blocked out anyone around me that I wasn’t actually talking to or actively paying attention to… it had been an emotional survival technique in high school, I supposed. If people weren’t talking about me then it didn’t do to get all excited or interested about whatever they had to say, and if they were talking about me… well, it had been better to just ignore it.

Safer, emotionally and physically.

I’d mostly got over my extreme aversion to the attention of others… which had come from the same place… but I was still keeping my head down and my eyes and ears metaphorically closed most of the time. Now, with my growing sense of connection… of belonging… opening up seemed like the easiest, most natural thing to do.

Off to the side, Shiel and Jeanie were still talking… mostly about their game, but interspersed with little excited outbursts about some meeting they were planning on going to. It seemed like they were trying to be nonchalant about that, though, because neither one really acknowledged the other’s outbursts and they just sort of wove the game conversation around it.

Farther away than that, it was all an indistinct babble of voices, sounds unconnected to faces and too mixed up for me to find any meaning on them. I didn’t want to seem like I was eavesdropping… even if that kind of was exactly what I was doing… so I just closed my eyes and focused on trying to pick out distinct voices.

All around us, people were talking about everything: homework, sex, love… it surprised me how open people were being, talking about the things they’d done, the things they wanted to do, the things they wanted to do them to and with… there was a guy somewhere behind me talking about how he wanted to take a girl, hold her down, and “fuck her in the ass till she can’t walk straight, until she bleeds, until she fucking breaks”.

It was shocking, but what was more shocking was there was a girl over towards the corner wondering aloud if she’d ever find a guy who was aggressive enough to just take her, brutally and savagely and with no regard for her feelings. They both sounded so lonely… he sounded desperate in every sense of the word, and she sounded almost despairing.

I wondered what would happen if one of them overheard the other, or if they met. I wondered if they would be compatible, if they would be able to “click” beyond having somewhat similar fantasies/desires… or if that would be enough..

I shouldn’t have been surprised that people around me had those kinds of desires, or that they talked about them. It wasn’t like my own circle was particularly sexually inhibited… and after all, we were all college students, a phrase that could be used in place of either “kids” or “adults” for most uses.

We’re just kids. We’re all adults here.changed something, but she just felt like a kid at a long sleepover. That was an interesting way of putting it.

A guy was talking about how he had no idea how to do laundry… he did it, but he had a nagging feeling that he was doing it wrong.

He sounded embarrassed, but he was admitting it, so maybe he was making some progress. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who felt an extra sense of connection… maybe a lot of people’s barriers were coming down in the wake of everything that had happened.

It was probably a good thing for people to get all of this out in the open. If more people realized how many of their fellow students felt inadequately prepared for adulthood… or had “extreme” sexual desires and fantasies, or whatever… it could only be a good thing.

Going away to live in a tiny pseudo-apartment with minimal supervision for five months at a time or so was probably better preparation for adulthood than just diving in to the deep end of the responsibility pool, but there wasn’t much in the typical high school existence to prepare you for it… it seemed like feeling utterly overwhelmed and totally unprepared for being on one’s own was a fairly common subject, too. I heard a girl complaining about it to no one in particular and felt bad for her… then realized she was also talking about seeing her parents on the weekend.

Most of the people around me had way more of a safety net than I did. I had my grandmother, but going back to her would be giving up on everything… if she was a net to catch me if I fell, she was the kind of net made out of pointy metal bits set in a pit twenty feet below the floor.

I couldn’t say I’d done a great job of coping with the “on my own” aspect of college… I hadn’t really dealt with it at all. I’d been busy with other things, some of which probably spoke reflected better on my coping skills than other ones did… but nevertheless, I was here and I was getting by and that was something. I wasn’t going to get a visit from my mother on the weekend. I wasn’t going home to a comfortable room full of beloved possessions in a familiar house full of people I cared about for the holidays. But I was managing. Without any parental support at all… at least, without any parental support that appeared outside of recurring nightmares…I was managing, and I was doing kind of okay.

I didn’t exactly feel proud over that, and I didn’t exactly feel relieved, but I felt something that was a bit like both of those things. I felt the urge to take that information and store it away for later, for the day when I was feeling overwhelmed and incapable of coping.

The other thing that surprised me was how much homework some people seemed to have. I’d lucked out there, I supposed, with two labs on my schedule for subjects I had enough of an aptitude for that I didn’t have to do much work outside of class. That wouldn’t last once I got into the higher level enchantment classes… it was a very complex and hands-on subject.

Elsewhere in the nexus a girl was verbally beating herself up for not having had the guts to go into Harlowe with her friends on Sunday and wondering aloud if anybody say anything if she just wandered into the dorm. I realized I hadn’t really heard both sides of any conversations since I started listening, but I chalked that up to the fact that I was focusing on picking up individual voices. She was pretty clearly talking to herself.

How good was my hearing that I could pick this out? I knew my sense of smell could be pretty strong when I focused on it, which I didn’t tend to do consciously. I also had better than average night vision, for a human. It didn’t seem impossible that I could also have unusually keen hearing, if I could just learn to access it. Like by closing my eyes and focusing on voices around me.

The weird thing was that even as I was trying to focus on specific voices, I seemed to be picking up a really strong sense of the general atmosphere. People were worried and angry, on the edge… but they were also hopeful and relieved, and excited. You could hear it in their voices, almost feel it in the air.

It was kind of heady and exhilarating to just open up and take it all in… and more than a little bit overwhelming. I felt almost like I was floating in a sea of sounds and voices and feelings, and all these things… these snippets, these facts… were just floating towards me. Taking them in was as easy as opening up my mouth and breathing. I was getting some things without even picking out specific words, like the fact that Oru thought that Shiel was trying to lure human boys with her war games.

I was starting to feel a little bit sketchy about the whole thing. Hearing a public conversation was one thing, but listening to people voicing their feelings was almost like being privy to private thoughts. This was something I’d have to experiment with more at some point… it really wasn’t a good idea to have so little idea of my actual capabilities. I really didn’t know what I was capable of, for better or for worse.

For all that my grandmother had never let me forget about my demon half, she’d never wanted me to do anything to acknowledge it. I couldn’t really blame her for that… judging by the other half-demons I’d met, I had to agree that there was reason to be concerned.

But the one full-blooded demon I’d encountered hadn’t been all bestial, for all his faults. And it wasn’t like seeing in a dimly-lit room or bounding across the hillside had increased my craving for blood. Neither had straining my ears to pick out voices in the crowd… though it didn’t really feel like I was even straining that hard.

In any case enough was enough. I’d test my ears out some other time… maybe talk to Steff, see if she could explain what it was like for her to hear things in a crowd. She’d been experiencing the world with semi-elven hearing for her whole life. It seemed likely that she’d be able to give me some help with attuning myself to particular things while blocking others out.

I opened my eyes and tried to focus on blocking out the sound of the crowd. The weird thing was that all of a sudden the hallway seemed to get louder. The nexus was all tile floors and brick walls and metal roof, and there were a good three or four dozen hanging around in it, at least.

Ian gave a tug on my hand, and I realized he’d turned and was starting to leave. He gave me a look when he realized I wasn’t moving with him.

“Oh, sorry,” I said. “I guess it must have looked like… I mean, I guess I spaced out again.”

“What?” he said.

“I just mean my mind was elsewhere,” I said. “Or everywhere.”

“Whatever,” he said. “I was just telling Pala to let Two know if she changed her mind about staying.”

“You spent that long?” I asked.

“What long?” he said. “I mean, I told her just that. In so many words.” He shook his head. “I guess you really were spaced out, huh?”

“You caught me,” I said, feeling like I’d missed something… though that was kind of the point of spacing out.

“Whatever,” he said. “Let’s get upstairs.”


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109 Responses to “463: Listening In”

  1. Calia says:

    Alright, is anyone really going to try and argue that Mack doesn’t have some bit of her mother’s power now? 🙂

    Current score: 4
    • Jack Wood says:

      I think I must have missed something. When did we learn about Mackenzie’s mom having powers, and what were they?

      Current score: 1
      • Calia says:

        It was in one of the Other Tales a while back, concerning Laurel and MackDaddy. I’m not one to keep links to things and am far too easily distracted to go looking, so someone else will have to supply the link.

        Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        In the set of stories about her mother meeting her father. She seemed to have some telepathy, and an ability to influence people’s thoughts.

        Current score: 1
    • fka_luddite says:

      What exhibited in this chapter could (not MUST, but could) be demonic enhancement.

      Current score: 0
    • OhPun says:

      If I had to guess, I’d say that Mackenzie will (argue against having that power). Remember that she (thinks she) can’t see in complete darkness either.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        in one of the other tales we find out her mother has talent in the subtle arts

        Current score: 0
  2. Ducky says:

    If I had a superpower, I would want telekinesis.

    If that wasn’t available, I’d want whatever Mack just did.

    Current score: 0
  3. Kirine says:

    Methinks Mack was listening in on other’s thoughts without realizing it. I don’t remember or not whether, Laurel was telepathic. If she was indeed telepathic, then it stands to reason that Mack will be extremely telepathic, since MackDaddy is as well (as shown via invading Mack’s dreams).

    It’s definitely an interesting twist for Mack to gain some “abilities” now that she is gaining freedoms as well as a sense of peace about things.

    Current score: 1
    • Rognik says:

      I don’t know if this is so much gaining a power as suddenly realizing she had it.

      Current score: 0
      • Chips says:

        More like finally allowing herself to try it out.

        Current score: 1
        • Arakano says:

          Or maybe it was the eyeless fish-thingee touching her mind that triggered it? Maybe it will go away again… OR it only now “bloomed” and will stay.

          Current score: 0
  4. D says:

    Mind reading… that’s gonna shake things up a bit. Wonder how long til she notices.

    Current score: 1
    • Kim says:

      about until Dee or Violet catches her, I’d say…

      Current score: 2
      • Arakano says:

        Might be dangerous for them. Infernal minds, you know? Not sure how the details work.

        Current score: 0
      • Maesenko says:

        I miss reading about Violet…

        Current score: 1
  5. Ogg says:

    It’s also interesting that Mack hear the thoughts of a lot of people in almost no time. In fact, she broke herself out of her trance, so it could have been instant. Definitely an interesting ability; I wonder if she hears surface thoughts or subconscious thoughts.

    Current score: 1
    • Arakano says:

      Probably surface. I don’t think THAT many people have subconscious thoughts about laundry? *?*

      Current score: 0
  6. Jonathan says:

    Shiel was off having her own conversation, and Honey and Hazel had disappeared, but some of Two’s classmates who had been at our party. Perhaps it should end in “had joined the group.”?

    Current score: 0
  7. gwendy says:

    Broken italics tag.

    We’re just kids. We’re all adults here.</em

    Current score: 2

  8. gwendy says:

    Broken italics tag.

    <p><em>We’re just kids. We’re all adults here.</em</p>

    Current score: 2
  9. Greenwood Goat says:

    It looks like the empathic equivalent of a timeslice – being able to halt or slow the apparent passage of time in order to perceive a greater number of views around a particular locus. If Mack can learn to bring this on at will, it could be damn useful. Exempli gratia: being able to scan the minds of an angry mob, and spot which will turn and flee in panic if she yells, makes a face and runs at them; and who will turn and flee in panic if they see others turning and fleeing in panic…

    I’m really just making an educated guess, but it looks like Mack is just picking up surface stuff, but not necessarily articulated as words. The sort of thing that Violet picks up, only without the pictures. For now.

    Typo:

    Shiel was off having her own conversation, and Honey and Hazel had disappeared, but some of Two’s classmates who had been at our party.

    Something missing there.

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      I was thinking that as well – that her perception of time was altered while she was focused on listening.

      Current score: 0
  10. Zathras IX says:

    In which Mackenzie
    Fails to realize that she
    Is telepathic

    Current score: 2
  11. Rey d`Tutto says:

    Interesting.
    As always, Thanks for the Tale. I enjoy it immensely.

    Current score: 0
  12. anna says:

    It seems, to me, a lot less likely that this is an ‘innate’ ability that we’re just learning about, and more likely that something has (temporarily?) granted her the ability. Perhaps some sort of eyeless fish-beast was lurking about, trying to read her thoughts, and she was somehow inadvertently ‘riding’ on its power?

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      Her mother had a similar ability – it’s in the set of stories where Mack’s parents meet. Apparently she could also influence others’ minds.

      Current score: 0
    • Andrea says:

      This is exactly what I thought. I hope it’s innate, though! It would make things interesting in a new way.

      Current score: 0
      • Arakano says:

        Could be both. Innate, but triggered by the beast (sorry for double posting this somewhat).

        Current score: 0
  13. Kevin says:

    I don’t know if I would consider a demon’s ability to invade the minds of mortals “telepathy” however given that her mother was apparently chosen because it was more likely she would have a child with subtle arts talent Mack Daddy could be using his possessive abilities on his offspring in an attempt to gain power in the subtle arts.

    Current score: 1
  14. Flexerton says:

    Everyone naturally slows down time a little bit when they focus on something. It’s like that expression “A watched pot never boils.” That expression is true to some extent, because as you analyze the situation on a more thoughtful level less time will actually pass. In addition, I’m sure you all know people who are good at reading people, to the extent where they can figure someone out just by talking to them, or even just by listening to them talk. It seems to me like these are fairly mundane abilities that may be enhanced by Mack’s demonic ancestry for the sake of the story. Not to mention, Mack hasn’t really ever tried to stand in a public area and listen to people’s conversations before. She could probably do this all along and just didn’t realize it because she was too shy. I’m sure we’ve all felt like that at some point in our lives.

    Current score: 0
    • Chris says:

      I’m not so sure the sudden manifestation of psychic ability has to do with the guardian’s presence as much as Dee’s absence.

      Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      we don’t slow time, as we begin to think about only one thing, other thoughts no longer take up mental resources, thus we begin to think FASTER about that one thing which creates the illusion that time is slow.

      Current score: 0
      • Flexerton says:

        So in relation to how fast our thinking is, everything else is slower. Same difference.

        Current score: 0
        • zeel says:

          not really. time is not under our control. we may think it is slower but it has not changed.

          Current score: 0
          • Rey d`Tutto says:

            Time is an illusion. A very pervasive one, but none the less illusory for that. Perception of times passage is based upon the observers “framework”, using a relativistic example.
            Accelerate to a significant portion of the speed of light (C, or ~300 Million MPS), and you will “age slower” than an observer at relative rest. Additionally, Time travels “faster” in a gravity well, and the greater the gravitation (i.e. Acceleration) the “quicker” time flows.
            We do not have “control” over time (yet), but control over it is theoretically possible.

            Current score: 0
            • Flexerton says:

              Haha, thank you Rey. Well said.

              Current score: 0
            • NatalieF says:

              “Time is an illusion.”

              Lunchtime doubly so.

              – Douglas N Adams.

              Current score: 0
            • zeel says:

              Relativity can change how fast time moves relative to our frame of reference. But focusing on things can not. Our perception will change, but it requires a rather vast amount of energy to create a noticeable real change.

              My point was that you don’t “slow time” you “speed up thought” – the perceived effect would be identical, but achieving the first is extremely difficult, where the second is just a matter of mental focus.

              Current score: 0
  15. Frelance says:

    some of which probably spoke reflected better on my coping skills than other ones did

    Current score: 0
  16. Daniel says:

    I just have to say, that was amazing. I’d give a longer post, but I need to be somewhere, so let me just repeat that this installment was amazing.

    Current score: 0
  17. Demons need to know people’s desires and foibles, the better to manipulate them, right? It seems like if Mack has basic “subtle arts” type telepathy, someone (Dee) would have noticed by now. I wonder if it’s not something else…

    Current score: 0
    • Jinzo says:

      Keep in mind though that Dee really dont want to poke deeply into Mackenzies infernally built mind.

      Current score: 0
      • hoppy says:

        Then there was her incredible self-absorption, this may have been the first time she has opened up in a long time, thanks to an eyeless-fish-beast.

        Current score: 0
  18. Voiceless says:

    I’mma call it right now and say that Mack’s a psyker. 😛

    Current score: 0
  19. Konso says:

    There is evidence to support the theory that this might be a temporary thing, Violet and Laurel both had subtle talents from a very young age. If all subtle talents start from birth (or very early development) then one could argue that Mack’s talent now is from an outside source. There are several counter arguments to this though. If one assumes that Mack is simply a late bloomer to her talent then it could be a combination of Mack’s talent not growing until she was in her grandmother’s care…at which point she started suppressing it (she said so herself in this chapter). Also Dee might very well have known about Mack’s subtle arts (she has said more than once that Mack projected strongly) and never mentioned it because it’s none of her business or because or because she thought every one knew already or even because Mack suppresses it enough that she appears to have almost no talent. Whichever way you choose to view it, this turn shall prove very interesting.

    Current score: 0
    • erratio says:

      I would be of the theory that she was unconsciously suppressing it due to general social withdrawal, and the fish beast triggered it somehow, so that it’s now active. Which means that now she’d better learn to control it or else some seriously unethical shit is gonna go down. She’s already made Ian ‘decide’ to order pizza just by thinking about how much she wants it.

      Current score: 0
    • Klaus says:

      Strange thing. Remember when Mack went bloodcrazed? she was accosted by rocky and hissy? Then while Hissy was trying to read Mack’s thoughts she kinda lashed out with her mind? So there’s so far 4 hints of telepathy. Her mother’s talent, her ancestry, hissy and co and finally this post

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        she explained that it is commonly known looking into the eyes of a telepath increased the connection. when she looked at hissy it was hissy who entered Mackenzies mind, and found out first hand how dangerous the mind of an infernal is. she must have been ignorant of that fact. there is no evidence that Mackenzie did anything but accept hissy into her mind.

        Current score: 0
  20. zeel says:

    It is probably inherited from her parents, her mother we KNOW is a telepath. and her father is either a telepath, or demonic blood grants some subtle arts like powers. as for why it was never noticed, perhaps the trait was tied up with her demonic traits. she did not exhibit those until (actual time unknown, sometime right before her mother died i think) and once at her grandmothers house, those powers would have been repressed. the only power she knew about before MU was fire, because of her accidents. it can thus be assumed that any telepathic ability would go unnoticed until she stumbled apon it. as for Dee, if Mackenzies ability was completely shut off (since she admittedly tries NOT to listen to others, and keeps to her self) Dee would likely not notice it unless she was actually looking for it.

    OR. . .

    she has realy good hearing, and actually just heard a few words from each person (which is why she only heard one side of the conversation), but in her moment of thought was able to comprehend it all.

    BUT. . .

    telepathy has a MAGER supporting evidence: she remark at how open people were being, which is odd, though if she heard thoughts. . . well most people don’t go around lieing to themselves.

    AS FOR. . .

    people who think it is temporary. . .
    it isn’t the fish thing
    and would it really make sense for her to become temporarily telepathic? this is Mackenzie, if she was temporarily anything she would never notice it. from a plot perspective she would have to be very out of character, and there would be a short strande episode of tele-mack then back to scheduled programing. or this could be a great (no brilliant) new plot twist which would be awesome. or its not telepathy.

    SOOO. . .

    comments? do i have logical holes hear???

    Current score: 0
    • Lunaroki says:

      At least one. Mack’s mom, by the available evidence, does not seem to be dead so much as missing. Mack never said that her mother died, but rather that she does not know what happened to her. Also, MackDaddy, A.K.A. The Man, once told Mack that her mother is the smartest person he “knows”, not “ever knew”. This use of the present tense leads to the possibility that Laurel Anne Blaise is still alive somewhere. Mack is remiss in not following up on this, but then she really does have a rather full plate these days.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        wait. . .

        damn it! now i have to go back an see what all she has said about her mother. . . could have sworn she said her mother was dead. . .

        Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        http://www.talesofmu.com/story/book06/270

        second to last line:

        “My mother’s dead,” I said.

        also she knows something hence “it wasn’t my fault” being said at some point.

        Mackenzie could be mistaken i guess. but it is more likely the tense used by the man is a simple typo.

        but hay. . . what dose Mackenzie know that she always refuses to tell anyone?. . .

        Current score: 0
        • flooge says:

          ya, i remember her kind of shutting down and saying “it wasn’t my fault”

          always gave me the impression that she had something to do with her mothers death and felt
          guilty about it.

          Current score: 0
          • hoppy says:

            Somewhere, Mack said that was all her grandmother would say was that it wasn’t Mack’s fault. So literally that is all she knows.

            Current score: 0
            • zeel says:

              don’t remember that. also it would not be in her grandmother character to comfort her like that.

              I doubt she actually was directly involved

              Current score: 0
            • hoppy says:

              I kind of got the idea that Mack’s grandmother had some guilt/blame issues, and it was less in comfort and more dismissal.

              Current score: 0
    • tjhairball says:

      I take this line: “I’d always sort of blocked out anyone around me that I wasn’t actually talking to or actively paying attention to”

      As supporting evidence for her having had the talent all along. She just learned to block it off early without realizing what she was doing.

      Current score: 0
      • Zergonapal says:

        Mack does mention at the beginning of this chapter that when her demonic heritage became apparent she would keep her head down. Given that supernatural powers usually manifest with the onset of puberty it is not unreasonable to assume that Mack was suppressing her own ability.
        Now it seems she is blossoming, I only hope that Dee enters the picture again to take her under her wing before she inadvertently steps on someones mental toes.

        Current score: 0
        • zeel says:

          Ya, she was supposed to be doing a lot of stuff with Dee I would hope she eventually gets time to do that. The clumsiness thing has always been one of my least favorite parts of Mackenzie.

          Current score: 0
      • Arakano says:

        Oh my, it just struck me… may this be why so many people find mack attractive? Especially those she craves attention from, like Amaranth, Barley, other attractive women, Ian, Steff? Alright, would not quite work for the Puddy-rape stuff, but… imagining her subconsciously projecting “love me, oh PLEASE love me! And want me! And TAKE me!” at people she felt physically attracted to… oO

        Current score: 0
    • Barbrady says:

      Sorry, I haven’t really finished reading everyone’s comments, but other than “it isn’t the fish thing,” what evidence do you have that it isn’t the fish thing? Mack herself suggests that the “fish thing” could be some sort of outsider or extradimensional energy. The fish thing has been aggressively scanning the campus using some form of telepathy to try to identify the murderer. The fish thing is known to be intelligent, and might very easily have been brought into the confidence of whoever Mack’s lawyer leaked the mermaid information to.

      The fish thing could very easily be using telepathic influence on everyone in Harlow Hall, trying to either (a) force a confession or (b) force a realization of the identity of the killer in the other residents of Harlow. While Mack certainly wants to avoid a riot, that might not be the case for everyone tasked with resolving the murder investigation. If the people who want to resolve the international incident are particularly cold-blooded, they might have decided that it would be easier to use a foreign diplomat to telepathically manipulate the “monsters” in Harlow to make them take care of the problem. If the killer dies without an investigation, the Imperium does not have to deal with the mess that might result from the predatory nature of mermaids becoming public knowledge.

      Alternatively, we have no information regarding how Mack’s infernal nature would react to the power of an Outsider. It’s perfectly possible that she might have a weird reaction, such as getting an “echo” of what the fish thing is picking up as it scans the building.

      There are probably other possibilities, but I really don’t see a good reason to leap straight to “Mack has another superpower” to explain it, other than the “dude, cool,” reason.

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      • Calia says:

        How about the “her mother had this power and that’s pretty much why MackDaddy wooed her, because he wanted a demon/subtle artist hybrid child” reason?

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      • zeel says:

        I say “it isn’t the fish thing” because I REALLY would hate for that to be the case. it would be far to disappointing to think about.

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    • Rey d`Tutto says:

      Really… ” well most people don’t go around lieing to themselves.”? I would think it would be better stated as “most people do not acknowledge or believe they lie to themselves.
      I will be disappointed if this is a that isn’t used.

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      • Rey d`Tutto says:

        let’s try that again.

        I will be disappointed if her new abilities are a Chekhovs Gun that isn’t used.

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      • zeel says:

        I meant people thinking about the things in the chapter is perfectly normal. it was a poorly worded sentence. . . Mackenzie actually dose it ALL THE TIME. ..

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  21. Helen Rees says:

    typo alert:

    some of which probably spoke reflected better on my coping skills than other ones

    I would say ‘spoke’ or ‘reflected on’ is superfluous.

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  22. Patrick says:

    Ok personal opinion time here… we seem to know (not positive) that for most people in the MU universe powers come about around puberty… be it magic or psych…. with small evidence shown before hand except for a select few… now of course not knowing what are amazing author is planning here is what I see.
    Puberty doesnt really actually start in men or women till there is sufficient body fat… meaning you can actually mature and develop stunted if your not getting enough food… Mack may have had enough to survive but the fact that a week of human food produced a noticable change in her body shape shows that her body does not register as fully finished with development yet…. this means medically at least Mack is 18 and still going through the first stages of puberty….
    this logic then allows that anything that could be connected to puberty can easily be started now without any plot holes since her body wouldnt have waisted the energy to develop the abilites till it thought it would be able to replenish them.

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    • zeel says:

      this would explain a lot. but how did she get the pubic hair then?

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  23. IronDino says:

    So everything is in italics after a point? Technical issues?

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  24. First — the site went into italics about half way through and that was super annoying.

    Second — I’ve suspected for close to 2 or 3 years that Mackenzie was empathically picking up on people’s emotions, and that affected her behaviour — and also that she warped the emotions of the people she spoke to, since soooooo many characters are obsessed/attracted/angered by her on a visceral level. She’s not as glamour-ific as the Chancellor, but she has pull. It just took a long time for her to overtly use it in the story.

    And, being a bit dense, she might not realize what she’s done for a bit.

    This is intriguing, but it took so long to get to it that I’m not sure I’m as interested as I used to be — it’s just confirmation of a theory I’ve had for a long long time, not really mind-blowing.

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  25. Akalas says:

    Nice chapter; the little “twist” of the entire event only taking a few seconds was interesting.
    Also, Mackenzie’s displayed some abilities to “read the mood” of a crowd before; the most memorable instance was in the Tomb of Horrors, though that time, if I remember correctly, it seemed like it came more from her sense of smell?

    …Anyway, there’s all sorts of cool things it could be. And again, it’s always fun to read the next installment of a book you like. ^_^

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  26. Red Stream Reader says:

    Note it’s not receive only – Ian responded to her internal dialog regarding pizza as if she had actually spoken.

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    • zeel says:

      OMG your right! i thought it was odd at the time but didn’t think about it later!

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    • Rethic says:

      It’s just like how Mommy Mack said she could “make” people do things.

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      • zeel says:

        not really. she probably just though so “loudly” that Ian heard it. Jamie can hear violet in his head without having subtle arts talent of his own. so we could assume she was just literely “thinking out load” and he did not realize that he was hearing her through his mind rather than ears.

        or it could be that someone left out something. . .
        i doubt that one though. . .

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        • beappleby says:

          Hehe, yeah, she was definitely broadcasting “PIZZA!!!1!!”

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          • Dave says:

            Remember, folks, if you ever need to compute the size of a Pizza, for a radius z and thickness a, the volume is Pi zz a 🙂

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    • erianaiel says:

      Considering what connecting to her infernal mind did to Hissy this would be a very bad thing for everybody involved if Mackenzie were a projective telepath and started broadcasting uncontrollably.

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      • zeel says:

        Dee is unharmed when she hears surface thought from Mackenzie. It is the looking into the mind that cases harm. like looking at the sun, the light its self is fine, but if you look directly at it you can be blinded. or in this case your mind would be broken.

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  27. potatohead says:

    A missed bit of code
    Makes the comments look quite strange
    Italics gone wild

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  28. Starcloud says:

    I figure this is basically what D&D calls “ESP,” The ability to read surface thoughts. Add to that maybe a touch of empathy (as in, reading other people’s emotions), and it makes sense to me. Whether she got it from her mother or her father doesn’t seem to matter much.

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  29. zeel says:

    shit new theory:

    when did she last eat??? oh ya looong time ago. this could be a side effect of not eating. . .

    this is the 6th week is it not? she gets hungry Saturday of week 2, and on her date with Steff in week 4 (think it was Thursday). so early week 6 should be feeding time.

    Timeline: http://talesofmu.nfshost.com/wiki/index.php/Timeline

    which BTW ends at ch.450

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  30. Chris says:

    IIRC, she had some blood at the fetish club.

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    • zeel says:

      oh your right nevermind

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      • beappleby says:

        It is a good point, though, that it might be coming up again! We must all be on the alert…

        CONSTANT VIGILANCE!!!1!!

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  31. Lorδ_Zeθeξ says:

    I kind of hope that this is a temporary thing or at least gets a better explanation then “she suppressed it”. Because I can’t imagine that she was suppressing it the whole time when she was feeling safe around her friends, and it has been made very clear that she was totally oblivious about apparent details (not to mention actual thoughts) and making superficial assumptions of people even when talking to those people.

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    • erianaiel says:

      I can easily imagine that if she had that talent she would rigorously suppress it the whole time.
      I mean, what would she have picked up with it? How much everybody around her, including her own grandmother, hated her. It does not seem something you would want to be exposed to all the time, if you ask me.
      And if she learned to suppress it all the time to the point that she does not even have to pay any attention to it, it is not that unbelievable that just because there are now people around her who do not hate her and would love to see her killed painfully she woud suddenly open up to a part of her abilities that she never even knew she had. I mean, she refused, and still refuses, to accept that she can see in (almost) complete darkness amongst all the other evidence of her demonic heritage. And that is kind of hard to ignore, compared to an ability she never excercised.
      That said, Mackenzie does not exactly need more awesome superpowers either to be an interesting protagonist.

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  32. OhPun says:

    Missing “would” although that could come up in the next chapter.

    … wondering aloud if anybody would say anything …

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  33. Pate Granzeau says:

    It seems the italics were a matter of a missing close.

    I suppose we are discovering that Mack is actually telepathic, or at least, can read what others are thinking. I have come to be a bit irked by her constant cluelessness, but I have to remember that she is just a few months into a new life after having been deprived of nearly everything for most of her life.

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  34. Dani says:

    > There was a nagging feeling in the back of my head that I’d let
    > myself get sidetracked away from something important

    Is the EFB is broadcasting mob violence – and also some “don’t think about me”?

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  35. Sapphite says:

    Incredible.

    With a long enough gap from the last one and chatter about telepathy, I’d forgotten about that entirely. This was a *fantastic* example of how telepathy could feel/sound/be, particularly when you’re not aware of it. Truly awesome – I only picked up on it at the tail-end, with “I realized I hadn’t really heard both sides of any conversations since I started listening,”

    Best update in ages, and that really is saying a lot given the good stuff recently.

    Also most grammar/typos in ages 🙂 Here’s two I caught (third one I noticed escapes me).

    “… but some of Two’s classmates who had been at our party.” [had joined?]
    “… the things they wanted to do them to and with” [who they wanted to do…]

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  36. Lesath says:

    So Mack can impose her feelings on others. I wonder if this has anything to do with Amaranth’s inexplicable desire to “pin [Mack] down and do things do her.”

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  37. lwo says:

    Small chuckle at myself…
    Just returned and caught up, and was wondering why there was some irrelevant comment from Sooni at the end of the last couple of chapters. I’m reading this on a thrashed LCD, and when I cut and pasted it out of curiousity realized it’s the latest teaser lead-in. Soon (/colon) !! {contents}
    Thought I’d pass along that bit of oddness. AND of course we all know the results of a full-colon. (a long pause, where as a semi-colon is a shorter, sometimes barely perceptible pause….. but hopefully both pauses that refresh)

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  38. Andrea says:

    Typo: “I hadn’t really dealt with it at all. I’d been busy with other things, some of which probably ***spoke reflected*** better on my coping skills than other ones did…”

    Also, Mack is definitely psychic, whether it’s just for this chapter or something she can access at will in the future. She specifically mentioned that every conversation she heard was one-sided (except for Shiel and her friend). That sounds an awful lot like “thought” to me. It also explains how Shiel&Co ignored each others’ bursts of excitement: they didn’t hear them.

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    • zeel says:

      right. they both kept thinking about it, but neither ever said anything.

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  39. zeel says:

    I would suggest a re-read to you all. there is so much subtle wording in there. once you have the idea of telepathy everything in this chapter makes perfect sense.

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  40. Speight says:

    Mack is more talented than we thought. I can see why people like her.
    Not too bright though.

    One more small typo: Elsewhere in the nexus a girl was verbally beating herself up for not having had the guts to go into Harlowe with her friends on Sunday and wondering aloud if anybody [would?] say anything if she just wandered into the dorm.

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  41. Brittany says:

    Ooh, I love this update! Ha, I’d almost forgotten that they were all in their first year, mostly because when I started reading this I was in the middle of MY first year at college (and had not dissimilar insecurities to those expressed here :D), and that seems like a billion years ago. (More like two, but still.)

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  42. BMeph says:

    So, the half-demon girl is picking up telempathic trance abilities like her mom?

    …That’s one bad-ass mother-fuguer, there.

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  43. Lythar says:

    Oh no the world went all slanty!

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