485: Siege Perilous

on January 31, 2011 in Uncategorized Chapters

In Which Dee Goes Underground

Literally the only person I could think of at that moment who I might have wanted to be behind the door was Dee, and I didn’t think that had been Dee knocking. It would have been uncharacteristically impatient of her to come knocking in the first place, and that had not been a very patient-sounding knock.

And while it was maybe within the realm of possibility that Lee had contacted me… and then cut off the reflection… for entirely unrelated reasons, it didn’t seem likely.

“It’s whats-her-face,” Steff’s voice whispered in my… and probably everybody else’s… ear. “Regina Twatwaffle the Third.”

“Who?” I whispered.

“I don’t know her real name,” Steff said. “I don’t like her enough to remember it. You know… Roderick or whatever her name is.”

Who?” I repeated.

“The head RA.”

Gwen Rodrigues?” Amaranth said.

Instinctively, I looked all around the room… it was just what you did when an authority figure turned up outside your door. You tried to figure out what you were about to get in trouble for, and if you could do anything about it. But none of us smoked anything. Being Two’s roommate meant there would never be alcohol or other contraband in the room… at least, not openly.

I found my quick visual search of the room ending up at Steff.

“I’m clean,” she said. “Ish. I’m not carrying anything. I don’t even have my prescribed potions on me.”

“Sorry,” I said.

“It’s cool,” Steff said. “There have been plenty of times everyone with me would have been completely and totally fucked with a red-hot poker if we’d been searched.”

“Miss Mackenzie,” Gwendolyn said. “I can hear you whispering in there. Please open the door.”

I looked at Amaranth and Ian for ideas. Obviously we had to open the door, but I wanted to know just what I was opening myself up to. Lee wouldn’t have tried to get me away from campus because of a visit from the head RA. Had he become privy to some plan to get me expelled on some trumped-up charge? That didn’t seem likely… if it were something so banal, it seemed more likely that he’d want to use it to build a case against the school than try to sneak me away from campus before it could happen.

“I’m afraid that Mackenzie is not available at the moment,” Two called out with a smoothness I wouldn’t have imagined her being to employ in the name of the truth, much less an obvious lie. “What is this regarding, please?”

“Who is that?” Gwendolyn said. “”Two? Is that Two? Is Mackenzie with you?”

“Mackenzie is not available at the moment,” Two repeated with the sort of automatic grace that only a really graceful automaton could muster. I realized she wasn’t lying, per se… she was just following a well-established bit of protocol for dealing with potentially unwanted solicitations and inquiries. “Is there a message I can give to her?”

“Two, open this door.”

“Would you like Ms. Mackenzie to contact you?” Two said.

“Two, you had better open this door.”

“If you want to inspect the room, you have to give twenty-four hours notice or have an immediate cause for suspicion,” Amaranth said. “And I don’t think you have that.”

“How about a bunch of fresher girls who won’t open the door when they’re told to?”

“That’s pretty circular, as reasons go,” Amaranth said. “We mean no offense or disrespect to you, Gwen. I’m sure you’ve been put in a difficult spot here, and we don’t want to make things harder for you but we have reason to be protective of our rights. Maybe we should find out what our lawyer thinks we should do?”

“What? Why are you talking about lawyers?” Gwendolyn said. “I just want Mackenzie to open the door so I can talk to her like a human being… um, talking to another being.”

“You’ve already been told more than once that she’s not available, so your insistence is kind of baffling,” Amaranth said. “And a little threatening. If you’re not going to take Two’s offer to leave a message, I really think we should be talking to our lawyer.”

“Two? You know that the matron of Hearts of Clay told me I can reflect her any time if I think you’re having a problem?” Gwendolyn said. “I’m concerned about you, Two. I think you need to open this door.”

“I’m fine,” Two said.

“We’re going to be contacting our attorney now,” Amaranth said, nodding towards the mirror that was still in my hand. “If you’d like to tell us what exactly you want from Mackenzie, of course, maybe we can avoid that.”

“Nice try, Miss Smarty-Pants…”

“I’m actually kind of offended by that epithet,” Amaranth said.

“I know Mackenzie’s in there,” Gwendolyn continued, “and I know your mirrors aren’t working, so stop stalling and open the door.”

Icy fingers wound themselves around my heart as I opened and closed the compact. I couldn’t raise anything but my own image inside the mirror.

I know your mirrors aren’t working. Plural mirrors. There was only one mirror in the room that was actually spelled up to anything, but whoever was blocking mine didn’t know that and wasn’t taking any chance. That meant it wasn’t Pendragon & Associates simply deactivating it for whatever reason… that wouldn’t have been good, but this was worse.

Scary worse.

“Who sent you?” I asked. It was the sort of question I should have felt ridiculous asking, but I didn’t. Things were way too fucking serious for that.

“Mackenzie, there are some men who’d like to talk to you downstairs, in my office,” she said.

There was something about the way she said men that really hammered it home. These weren’t just people who happened to be male. They weren’t boys who’d grown up. They were men, as in what one sent round or issued forth. Troops or agents or officers.

“IBF, or Law?” I asked her.

“I was trying to have this conversation in a way that would respect your privacy, but since you won’t be helped… I don’t think anybody wants to arrest you, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she said.

“No,” Ian called. “If they were going to arrest her, they’d let her talk to her lawyer.”

“Dee’s downstairs,” Two whispered, her eyes wider than usual. I really hoped Gwendolyn couldn’t hear her through the door, as she was better at the theory of whispering than the practice. “She says there are men in the dorm office. They’ve cleared out the basement. She also tells me to be more quiet. I am being quiet, Dee. I’m whispering! She apologizes that she can’t reach Steff…”

“Please tell them I’ll be down in a few minutes, when I’m done changing,” I yelled towards the door.

“I don’t think it’s wise to keep these gentlemen waiting, Mackenzie,” Gwendolyn said.

“So go tell them!” Ian said.

“She’s heading towards the stairs,” Steff said. “Shuffling, kind of slow. Like she’s afraid of missing something interesting.”

“Two, can you find out from Dee what the men look like?” Amaranth asked.

“She says she cannot see them at the moment from her vantage point, but she saw a pair of colorful black robes.”

“Colorful… black?” I said, trying to picture it. All I could come up with was black with rainbow trim or something.

“Dee doesn’t see things like we do,” Steff said. “Just take it to mean black with black and shades of black.”

“Diabolists?” Amaranth guessed.

“Maybe in a secondary way,” I said. “But they’ve got to be Imperial agents… I really doubt I’d be important enough for someone to make this kind of move without official backing.”

“Dee says there are also men in suits who do look like Imperial agents,” Two said. “She apologizes that the robes stuck out more to her.”

“Things can’t be too serious,” Steff said. “Dee’s only apologized twice… let’s not take anything for granted, though. These guys could be working for the Shifter royals and Regina’s going along because she wants to believe you’re in deep shit with the actual authorities.”

“Yeah, no fucking way should you go down to them,” Ian said. “Make them come up and get you. Whatever they want, you should make them do it in front of witnesses.”

“Like anyone on this floor who isn’t in this room is going to care,” I said.

“We’ll make a fuss that goes up and down all four floors,” Ian said.

“Because the building’s full of people who’ll care?” I asked.

“If they don’t care about you in particular, they’ll care about Imperial goons storming in and dragging someone away,” Steff said. “Remember when you got yourself labyrinthed and everyone rallied together?”

“Yeah, that made a nice break from being a total pariah,” I said. “How long did it last, again?”

“You were totally still a pariah,” Steff said. “See, the thing is, people weren’t rallying for you so much as they were rallying against the school… the big, faceless institution that had been so arbitrarily shitty to you… and could, by extension, be shitty to them. Even people who perpetuate injustices don’t actually like injustice in general.”

“That’s a little cynical, but I think Steff’s right, in essence,” Amaranth said. “They’ll have a hard time bringing you out of the building against your will without involving the rest of Harlowe.”

“That’s probably why they want you to go downstairs,” Ian said. “They can get you that much closer to an exit before there’s any chance of a disturbance.”

I could see it happening… Shiel and Celia and others taking exception to Imperial aggression in the dorm and deciding to make an issue of it. I could also see it going very, very badly for them.

There were other students in the dorm who could be more of a threat. There was a gorgon and a gargoyle, half-ogres and at least one minotaur. The more students were being trampled in the fray, the more likely that they’d be drawn into the fight or would jump in to protect someone they cared about.

Someone like that could do a lot of damage before they themselves were taken down… and they would be taken down, because we were talking about the highly trained agents of a particularly powerful arm of a vast imperial power. Even if all of Harlowe came together and devised a plan to take all the agents downstairs by surprise and were able to defeat them completely, we wouldn’t win.

It would be like the goblins trying to deal with the armies of the old empire. We couldn’t do more than trim the metaphorical fingernails of the hand holding a sword to our throats.

“I have to go down,” I said.

“Baby, you can’t,” Amaranth said.

“If I make them come up here… if I make it into a fight, we’d never win it,” I said. “And if we did, it would be worse. I’m not going to pull Harlowe into a war when we don’t even know what we’d be fighting, or why.”

“There is more than one way out of the building,” Ian said.

“Not without going downstairs,” I said. “I can’t imagine they don’t have the nexus door covered, even if I don’t have to go all the way down to the basement to reach it.”

“Well, actually, I meant there’s more than one way out of the room,” Ian said, looking towards the curtain covering the window. “Even if it wouldn’t be much of an exit for anyone else…”

“Maybe too much of an exit for anyone else,” Steff said.

“So I jump out of the window,” I said. “Then what?”

“Then we get in touch with Lee Jenkins and figure out how to hide you until he’s worked out what’s what,” Ian said.

“Except that I wouldn’t last five minutes out there,” I said. “They know what room I’m in. They know a fall won’t hurt me. There’s no way they won’t be watching… that, and it’s freaking cold out there, and I don’t deal well with cold.”

“You can’t just walk down and hand yourself over to them,” Amaranth said. “Baby, I want to believe they have good intentions, but their conduct isn’t really supporting that. And Lee wouldn’t have tried to spirit you away… especially when it’s so obvious he wasn’t supposed to be contacting you… if they just wanted to ask you a few questions.”

“There isn’t really another choice,” I said.

“What if I forbid you to?” Amaranth asked.

“If you order me not to… then I can’t keep being yours,” I said. “Because I can’t stay up here and let the building be torn apart to get to me. I mean, even if they just launched an assault on the room… you’d be okay, Amaranth, no matter what happens, but Two and Ian and Steff are mortal.”

“I wouldn’t be okay if I lost you!” Amaranth said. I realized that while she had the least to fear directly, she was the most afraid. Steff and Ian were determined that we should be defiant and fight somehow. Two was surprisingly calm, considering all the authority-resisting that was going on.

I… speaking in public frightened me. Being hungry frightened me. Losing control frightened me.

The powers that be wishing me harm? That was life. It wasn’t that I didn’t think Law could do anything to me, because when push came to shove I was pretty sure they’d shove hard… but I’d grown up thinking of the gods themselves as enemies. I was actually sort of used to the idea that someone had both the desire and power to just reach out and end me.

That’s how I ended up being the one to reassure Amaranth rather than the other way around.

“You won’t lose me,” I said as something vaguely resembling a plan began to take shape. “Look, I don’t really have a choice here, but we can be smart about this… they obviously don’t know Dee’s down there…”

“They know she’s there,” Two reported. “They don’t know where she is, though. It bothers them. They’ve decided she’s not important, she can’t interfere with them without revealing herself and when she does they will ‘nail’ her.”

“Okay, well that’s one ace halfway in the hole,” I said. “And you’re the other one. We’ll go down together. You’re my witness. They can’t do anything to you… they can’t lock you up, they can’t even mistreat you. The Department of Law might not have to worry about legal niceties, but they’ll respect the power behind the legal protections nymphs have… especially since they know you’re one of Mother Khaele’s favorites.”

“I don’t know if I’m…”

“She went on TV to bitch about you to million of strangers,” Steff said. “You’re her favorite, babe. No worldly power could stand up to the shitfit she’ll throw if they don’t treat you right.”

“I suppose that’s true,” Amaranth said. I only hoped that they believed it. It seemed very likely that they were eavesdropping on us, though there was a chance that they wouldn’t be able to… the quickest and most effective ways of shutting off all ethereal communications from the room would also be the least selective. In cutting us off, they might have closed their own windows into the room.

The thing that was bothering me, though, was that it didn’t seem very likely that they would’ve forgotten that my girlfriend was a nymph, and they wouldn’t have taken into account her divine mother when they’d planned this operation, whatever it was. It seemed like they’d been counting on the idea that I would have opened the door to Gwendolyn and followed her downstairs without too many questions… which I really might have done if not for Lee’s warning.

But they weren’t abandoning their plan, which meant it couldn’t be something that relied entirely on surprise.

“Where’s Gwendolyn?” I asked Steff.

“She went into the stairwell,” Steff said. “I can’t really sort out sounds past that. I don’t think there’s anyone on the floor who’s not supposed to be.”

“Let’s do it, then,” I said. “Dee, if you can get in touch with Amaranth when we get closer, that’ll be great, but stay in contact with Two. And if you can do anything like a scream that’ll carry to everyone around you, be ready to do that if you have to.”

“She says she believes she could reach most of all three adjoining buildings if she needed to,” Two said.

“That’s good,” I said. “If it’s not just Harlowe involved, I think it’ll be better for everyone.”

“And I’m supposed to just sit on my hands, I suppose,” Ian said. “I should get used to that… strike that. I hope I have a chance to get used to it.”

“No, as soon as we’re gone, start trying to get a hold of Lee… try taking the mirror out of the room, try using the one in the hall, try borrowing a mirror or ball, whatever,” I said. “And Steff… if things go badly, you need to be ready to run.”

“What, like… away from the bad things?” Steff said. “Pull the middle one, Mack… it has bells on.”

“If they’ve got a cordon or perimeter or whatever set up, you have a better chance than anyone except maybe Dee of actually getting away,” I said. “You can spread the word on campus, then try to meet up with Lee or alert the media or something. I’d tell you to try to get away from here now but there’s nothing distracting them and they might just zap you on principle.”

“It’s not like we’re fugitives or this is a crime scene,” Amaranth said.

“No, but they’ll know her as a friend of mine and if they see her fleeing they’ll blast first and ask questions of her spirit,” I said. “Law doesn’t exist to uphold the laws, it exists to fight chaos. If we’re opposing them, that’s us. That’s why we don’t oppose them… we go along, but we do what we can to protect ourselves. It’s the only way.”

“Are you sure about this, baby?” Amaranth asked.

I was about to say that no, of course I wasn’t, but Ian stopped me by stepping around behind me and putting his hands on my shoulders.

“Look at her,” he said. “Do you think she’s ever been more sure of anything?”

“Not counting things she was completely wrong about,” Steff said. “Obviously.”

“Yeah, well, let’s just hope I’m not completely wrong about this,” I said.


Soon:


A word from the author:

Hey, all! For those of you who only come when there’s a new chapter up, we’re in the midst of the Onliest Annual Tales of MU Roommate Fundraising Derby! As outlined in the post preceding this one, I’m letting readers vote with their dollars about who will fill out a four person suite with Amaranth and Mackenzie on one side and Two on the other: Dee (current favorite), Steff, or Hazel (the underdog). As a further incentive, I’ll be writing more stories about Mackenzie’s lost/estranged family as fundraising benchmarks are hit.

See here for all the details!


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90 Responses to “485: Siege Perilous”

  1. beappleby says:

    Very nice. Not a single reader guessed who was actually behind the door.

    Anyone else got a bad feeling about this? (That was sarcasm…)

    Current score: 0
    • Gorgonopsid says:

      Given that the correct answer to “Who’s at the door” was “a character who was named right at the beginning of the series and hasn’t shown up since,” it’s not really a surprise that no one got it right.

      Current score: 0
      • fka_luddite says:

        Except, Gwen is there on behalf of the IMPs. So IMP guesses should count as hits, even though the Imps may be acting for the black-robes.

        Current score: 0
        • barnowl says:

          Way back when Sooni and Mackenzie had a magick/physical fight in the hall, a chapter ended on a cliffhanger with an unidentified voice “who was the last person Mackenzie expected”. Reader speculations included everyone up to the Spanish Inquisition (no-one ever expects them). It turned out to be the RA, not Gwen I think but the other one just for the floor whose name I forget.

          So it’s mildly ironic/amusing that the mystery person turns out to be a RA again. Who after all in the normal course of things should not be all that unexpected.

          Current score: 0
          • beappleby says:

            Kiersta?

            Current score: 0
          • Greenwood Goat says:

            Damn. Completely missed that. Yes, they have made use of surprise and fear, and are probably ruthlessly efficient and almost fanatically devoted to the empress. We’ll have to ask Dee if their black uniforms are shaded a nice red.

            Gwen looked sour. ‘They trash-talked my office furniture, you know? Said my chairs weren’t comfy enough. Then one started toying with these soft cushions…’

            Current score: 0
  2. Seth Gray says:

    This chapter was intense. Is Dee speaking Mentally to Two?

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      She’s majoring in subtle arts, isn’t she? And she’s worked with Two before – I was rereading some of the archives, and in one of the “Diary of a Golem” Other Tales, Two describes helping Dee with her homework by visualizing things for Dee to “read”.

      Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        Okay, I just went and checked the introductions chapter, and Dee is a double major in martial combat and divine magic with a minor in the subtle arts.

        Current score: 0
        • Krista says:

          Dee is also an elf, and elves can ‘whisper’ into the ears of select people. Maybe she just can’t whisper Steff for some reason?

          Current score: 0
          • beappleby says:

            Maybe so, but we’ve only seen the “whisper” effect when the people involved are in the vicinity of one another. At this point they are several floors apart. I think this is probably a different technique – and I like the idea that Two is more receptive to it, both from previous experience – and possibly by design.

            Current score: 0
            • Dee’s family is known for their telepathic powers and she’s had alot of training in that pre-MU. Since she’s worked alot with Two she’s got a bond to work from for focusing rather than broadcasting. Not being able to reach Steff on the other hand could be as simple as one or both, while being comfortable on one level, still having a subconcious racial bias against each other with the whole dark/light elf thing, or Steff’s medical potions may act as a blocker.

              Current score: 0
            • beappleby says:

              Oh, good point about wanting to focus rather than broadcast – harder to keep secrets when broadcasting…

              Current score: 0
            • SirBatty says:

              Or, Steff’s been ‘blocking’ other Elves her whole life…as a personal defense mechanism.
              I expect either a return of a certain “fork”,or ‘Daddy’ appears.

              Current score: 0
  3. Charlie says:

    “That didn’t seem likely… and it seemed more likely that”

    You forgot a bit there.

    Current score: 0
  4. 'Nym-o-maniac says:

    … wow. Talk about an intense chapter. Is Friday here yet? *perches on edge of her seat, waits*

    Also: probably an epileptic tree here, but didn’t Callahan’s super-secret team have some sort of affiliation with one of the top-secret departments of Law or something? I can’t help but wonder if that’ll be relevant here, and even if Callahan herself might turn up at some point.

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      Oh, that would be a hoot if Callahan somehow ended up in the middle of all this!

      Current score: 0
  5. Jennifer says:

    …and no update until FRIDAY?????

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      “Good things come to those who wait, good things come… AAARGH!!!!!!”

      Current score: 0
  6. Peter says:

    Wow. wonderful, intense, so many things on the edge, Mackenzie’s THINKING!!! This is what I love about Erin’s universe.

    Current score: 0
    • arsenic says:

      Yes!! It’s nice to see Mackenzie’s way of thinking cut to the chase and actually make a difference in a real life situation. I always suspected she’d be good in situations like this. Hopefully it will turn out ok ._.

      Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        Well, a lot of the stuff that’s been difficult for her has been related to the idea of NOT just submitting to the authorities and the status quo. This is at least familiar to her.

        Current score: 0
  7. arsenic says:

    “What, like… away from the bad things?” Steff said. “Pull the middle one, Mack… it has bells on.”

    I’m confused about what Steff is talking about here. A middle one with bells on? Anyone know what that means?

    Current score: 0
    • Not her, the other girl says:

      It’s an expression. See link for a fuller explanation I don’t have time to type out: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=pull+the+other+one

      Also – did …. did Mack just put together a strategic *plan*? And kind of become the leader for the moment? Holy crap!

      Current score: 0
    • ayla says:

      “Pull the other one, it’s got bells on” is a phrase used to respond to a statement you think is unlikely– accusing the person of pulling your leg. Steff, in true Steff fashion, is taking this expression and making it sound vaguely dirty by referring to her “middle leg.” (I hope I don’t have to explain that part!)

      Current score: 1
    • A Random Pooka says:

      I am guessing it refers to pulling her leg. Mack’s got to be joking. If she’s going to pull Steff’s leg, at least pull the middle one.

      Current score: 0
  8. Sapphite says:

    Whooosh! Exciting!

    Current score: 0
  9. Calia says:

    Oh crap- Things are happening, with a capital T 😮
    A Monday-Friday wait is much more unbearable than a Friday-Monday wait 🙁

    Current score: 0
  10. Zathras IX says:

    Gwendolyn Rodrigues
    Also known as Regina
    Twatwaffle the Third

    Current score: 1
  11. Kitsune 9tails says:

    Great to see Mack using that big brain of hers so well. I wonder if she is going to be taken to see Iona? If Iona is missing because she was captured, an interrogation might be in order before she is ‘dealt with’.

    Current score: 0
  12. Alar the Stormbringer says:

    Something tells me that our auspicious author has things planned out to write this section of the story up to 500, and then we’ll have some sort of break or summary leading up to the next section of the story.

    I have to say, as a long time reader, I’m really enjoying this. There are bits and pieces that I’ve only skimmed over because (at the time) I wasn’t really into it, but I have kept close tabs on this story and read almost all of it (with the exception of the side-story).

    Can’t wait to see what happens next!

    Current score: 0
  13. Frazzlebloo says:

    Interesting explanation of “pull the other one” here: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=390344

    Includes the reason for “it has bells on.”

    Great chapter! Can’t wait for the next!

    Current score: 0
  14. SirBatty says:

    Hmmm……What a movie this chapter alone could make.
    So glad to be blessed with a mind that can take great writting and ‘play’ it out in my head. IS IT FRIDAY YET ?!?

    Current score: 0
  15. Kaila says:

    Having trouble expressing my reaction to this chapter in words, so I’ll just say awesome job, and why must I wait for FRIDAY?! Which in my case is saturday, and just bloody well rubbing it in. I’m on the other side of the planet, why can’t time bend and I get it a day early to keep up with the calendar?

    *sigh*

    Incidentally, ‘pull the middle one’ I got pretty much automatically, but I’ve been known to have a dirty/open mind. It also nearly made me spray my coffee as I got a mental image along with my understanding and into my head popped ‘Really? Well, that’d be a tad inconvenient in a skirt. Piercings or just strung on?’

    Current score: 0
  16. So, I wonder what the pretext for their detaining Mack will end up being? I’m going to guess that it’ll be because she knew that the merfolk were dangerous predators, and didn’t tell the authorities. Of course this will be BS, as there’s no plausible way that the in-universe equivalent to the FBI wouldn’t have already known that, even if the general public didn’t. So I think they’re putting the scare into her, so if she puts the pieces together, she won’t be tempted to go public about the coverup. But she wasn’t liable to do that anyway.

    Current score: 0
  17. Gremlin says:

    Wow! this chapter was awesome. All I can say atm.

    Current score: 0
  18. Chuma says:

    Anyone else thinking “double-cross”? Kill the merfolk and blame it on the half-demon?

    Current score: 0
    • drudge says:

      That tactic’d run into the same reason they never went after Mack to begin with. She’s got no fangs in that shape, and never will. You’d just wind up with a needless loose end to it all.

      Current score: 0
      • Gorgonopsid says:

        I think Chuma was saying that they were going to kill the mermaids and pin it on Mack, not pin the crimes the mermaids committed on Mack. Still sort of a roundabout way to do a coverup.

        Current score: 0
        • drudge says:

          Still strikes me as rather unnecessary. There’s plenty of unthinking monsters in the woods that don’t have influential friends hanging around.

          Current score: 0
          • bramble says:

            Yeah, but the unthinking monsters in the woods generally stay in the woods, rather than going around campus stirring up trouble and butting heads with people who are already prejudiced against them. We don’t know what kinds of connections Ariadne has or what she knows about the murder, but we do know that she thinks she’s got enough clout to be taken seriously, and that she takes Mack’s presence on campus personally.

            Mind you, I don’t really expect either mermaid to be found dead (Embries, if involved, is probably not going to leave enough in the way of remains to be identified), but I can see how Mack could end up being blamed if a body does turn up.

            Current score: 0
            • drudge says:

              I was under the impression some of them generally came out at night. Hence why they need protected walkways and a weapon on them at all times…

              Current score: 0
  19. David says:

    SPELLING ERROR: chapter 485

    couldn’t hear her throught he door
    (“he” should be “the”)
    ========

    Current score: 0
    • fka_luddite says:

      Actually that’s a spacing error “throught he” should be “through the”.

      Current score: 0
  20. beappleby says:

    This isn’t the cops. This is an Imperial Investigation.

    That said, I think Mack should walk *really slow*…

    Current score: 0
  21. carson says:

    Holy. Sugar.

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      It’s okay, we’re all grownups here…

      Current score: 0
  22. Gorgonopsid says:

    Maybe it’s not a case of them not being able to stop Dee so much as them not considering Dee to be a problem worth the headache that could come about of them putting the hammer down on the daughter of a very high ranking foreign official. Yet.

    Current score: 0
    • true, her kin is far off, but the delegation was just here with the fish thing. They can’t have gotten all the way home yet.

      Current score: 0
    • as for Dee’s standing, she could well become the high priestess of her house-chapel, as well as the fact that she’s a candidate for her the throne in her family line. A position she doesn’t want, which is part of what prompted her to seek a surface education. Citation Further, her family is quite high ranked, based on this:

      “For the noble houses, a general measure of their power and importance could be taken by examining their distance from the outer walls of the caverns. The wealthiest and largest were located towards the middle, along the shore of the lake, or on islands of rock, with the biggest three somewhat uneasily sharing a single landmass jutting out of the very center of the dark waters.

      House d’Wyr was situated on an island more than a mile from the shore and from the island compounds of any other houses.” Citation House d’Wyr was not the most powerful or wealthiest clan in Durakesh, but they were the most careful. Same as last citation. This however is eclipsed by the fact that Dee’s family line consists of 20 generations of daughters in an unbroken history in a matriach society. Noted in that particular story to be one of the longest unbroken chains in that society. Dee, unlike her younger sisters is considered ‘nobility’ in a sense being the firstborn, which is proclaimed by her being Delia Daella (having a matronym) although she quibbles that it means more that she’s the daughter of a woman of lineage – citation which leads one to believe that while her sisters’ progeny would be of the house as well, the wouldn’t be of the primary line, and thus not in line for the throne even if Dee were to be eliminated from the running.

      Current score: 0
  23. Xi'Cree says:

    So about Mac taking charge here… She really brought out the competent side of her I guess everyone has wanted to see… and in a completely in character way as after all the ‘Right thing’ to do here just happens to be a bit of SELF-SACRIFICE ^_^.

    I really do like Mac especially now, but I really wouldn’t mind something bad going down… (I have the horrible taste to take joy in the misery of characters i like… Especially when its relating to a visceral threat like what we feel here now.)

    On the flip side, it’d be just as amusing to have it all lead to an anticlimax… though i think i might be the only one happy with such an outcome.

    Current score: 0
  24. Rin says:

    While it’s true that there is plenty of power among the MU professors (given her known acts of deicide Callahan alone could probably wipe the imps out completely without breaking a sweat), it seems unlikely that they (again, with the possible exception of Callahan, though even she probably wouldn’t endanger everyone else by starting a fight like that) would be willing to use that power to stop imperial investigators from doing their jobs.

    After all, even if the imps currently there wouldn’t be able to win such a fight, that kind of resistance would only invite even worse trouble. It would be like fighting off a local FBI task force only to invite a Delta Force raid.

    Now, if they could get EMBRIES to interfere on Mack’s behalf though, that would be a different matter. Callahan is probably just as strong as he is, but she doesn’t nearly have the same kind of status as he does. I doubt even Law would go against his will.

    Current score: 0
  25. Kevin says:

    You know I would laugh so hard if it turned out that Law found out about her help with the mermaids and wanted to offer her a job or something.

    Current score: 0
    • Oniwasabi says:

      Charlie’s Demons? ^_^

      Current score: 0
    • Kevin says:

      The idea was that it was the longest shot possible, aside from Mack finding out that her father is actually the emperor which would be the worlds largest unexpected plot twist.

      Current score: 0
  26. readaholic says:

    arrgh, the suspense!!
    I vote for Imps(Feds) dealing with Pitchy and possibly The Man, I doubt Embries will have anything to do with it, he’s a Draco’s Volcano really. Chances are he’ll erupt at some point, but for a full Plinean eruption with Pompeii level destruction, you can only pull that off once every five hundred years or so.
    Although, if Ariadne has managed to brainwash/threaten some imperials, things could get nasty.

    Current score: 0
  27. Langley says:

    I’m not sure your reading on the situation is correct, if you’re calling the Law guys “cops”. Mack is very clear that they’re not bound by or dedicated to small-L laws.

    I’m thinking that if the IBF is the FBI (obv.) then Law is probably something more like the CIA, all shadow ops and the ends-justifying-the-means.

    Current score: 0
    • Rin says:

      True, but we don’t know for sure yet if it’s IBF or Law (even if Law does seem more likely at this point) and at any rate, it makes little difference. Whichever group their dealing with, taking out a local group of an organization like that only invites an unpleasant visit from a bigger/stronger and most likely meaner group.

      Current score: 0
  28. Greenwood Goat says:

    “I don’t think anybody wants to arrest you…”

    When you’re high enough up the scale of deniability, you don’t have to. Especially if the suspect’s not going to the big house but instead is headed for the narrow house, six foot under. So it looks like Lee was trying to stymie an official action, or at least, an action by officials, and trying to give his call a gloss of mere coincidence. We can only hope that he doesn’t get a visit himself.

    So, let’s try to pick this one apart. They’re a team apparently consisting of diabolists, probably first rate ones, and some additional agents. We don’t have much of a picture of what diabolists can do, but they can probably control Mack if need be. It’s not a part of the original investigation, as they had an area secured in the administrative hub, and could easily use that. Unless they wanted to avoid moving Mack any distance, but then why? It’s not really covert, since they’ve made a fair bit of noise already, and know that they’ve acquired a spectator or two … sorry, a spectator AND Two. >:=)> (If they had wanted a covert acquisition, they could have slipped into Mack’s room in the small hours of the morning and made use of sleep, silence and levitation spells.) They’re clearly not worried about the peripheral witnesses and what they’ve seen so far. Mack and co. are held pretty well incommunicado at the moment, but they can’t keep that up forever without grabbing them as well. They’re not going to make a serious amount of mess – if they were, they’d have set up somewhere else. They’re not looking at a deep six, at least not yet – if they were, they’d just be set to bundle Mack into an unmarked, black-windowed carriage, and dispose of her in the forest by the highway. Or do the job any one of umpteen ways – they’re professionals facing amateurs, after all.

    Oh, and there’s the small detail of Mack being first person narrator. If she dies, so does the story.

    Based on all of this, when Mack goes into the office, she’s not going to leave until they’ve finished with her. They’re not there simply because she is a half-demon – legally, she has the same standing as any other citizen, it’s not a statutory check (she’d know about them) and they’ve had plenty of time to put the finger on her for making waves. They might have the recent murder in mind, or even know that Mack was withholding evidence, but that could be left to the investigation team. So, they must intend to do or say something that will not leave permanent marks, and will cause Mack equal or greater trouble if she is able to communicate it to the wider world. What could it be?

    How about: an offer she can’t refuse. Callahan got one, being pressed into a commando unit in the Chaos Wars in exchange for a pardon for her pogrom against immortals. Mack would need a lot less carrot and stick, and would probably have a lot less required of her in return. At the moment. They might, for instance, give her a handler and get her to report stuff – that would be the intelligent thing to do with a weird crap magnet like her. They might conceivably have something specific for her to report on – her father, for instance. Or how about Mur-si – a threat to the status quo if ever there was one? Being neither forgetful, blind or stupid, imperial intelligence ought to be keeping as close an eye as they can on cer, and so might have picked up on cer dealings with Mack. Food for thought, at least.

    As for it being Gwen Rodrigues at the door, it’s not significant. She’s head RA there, but she’s also the one whose office they pinched, and so they used her as a messenger girl as well.

    Woo! Exciting times! Roll on next episode, and further opportunities for prognostication.

    Current score: 0
    • drudge says:

      I’m thinking “an offer she can’t refuse” as well, given your statements. We know they don’t get Mackenzie, because she lives for at least another year. We know they don’t get Dee, since she’s got a comfortable voting lead for fourth room-mate, Amaranth, Two, and Steff are safe due to being there or in the running as well.

      …now. Who they’d want to pit Mackenzie against is a very good question. Mercy is the obvious choice, but Callahan and Emberies strike me as the sort of people that get tolerated because there’s no real better option that wouldn’t make as many corpses as leaving them be. Mack Daddy is another good theory, and I’m beginning to doubt Mackenzie and Danny are his only living kids. There’s always more unsuspecting, stupid mermaids out there to deal with.

      If it’s information they want, Mackenzie doesn’t even need to change her schedule, evil seems to come to her instinctively…

      Current score: 0
      • Gorgonopsid says:

        The common thread I’m seeing between the “need Mack to help against Mercy/Embries/Callahan” is lack of a reason for why they need Mack that actually makes sense.

        Sure, Mack’s something of a weirdness magnet and amassed some friends unusually quickly (and, of course, she’s a half-demon), but that’s not exactly the kind of traits that would make sense for the Imps to be headhunting for.

        Current score: 0
        • drudge says:

          She’s a weirdness magnet on a rather unusual scale. I mean, most people, and most demonbloods if we go by Danny, don’t get in nearly as much shit. While most people would get pissed, Mackenzie was somehow worth a mass walkout back in history class. When she disappeared for three days a riot breaks out. While they can justify it all they want, that is *not normal*. As stated below, from an objective standpoint Mackenzie is absolutely TERRIFYING. She’s someone who show up out of nowhere that no one knew very well that’s already changed drastically from previous notions, has managed to intimidate or defeat anyone who’s tried fighting her head on, created a circle of potentially powerful people, and has managed to beat trained warriors and deadly obstacles with no training or preparation. Throw in immortality, super strength and magic, and the fact that she doesn’t seem to have any obvious GOAL and this is the kind of person I’d want on my side.

          On paper, if you remove all her little scrapes and slips and minor mishaps, she’s the kind of person who seems to basically take charge of whatever room she walks into in short order.

          Current score: 0
      • fka_luddite says:

        thgen she could change her name to Kit Marlowe.

        Current score: 0
    • erianaiel says:

      The problem with the ‘offer she can’t refuse’ idea is that Mackenzie has no qualities nor qualifications that make sense.
      She doesn’t know anybody important, not even indirectly.
      Her (lack of) ability to fight has been summarised pointedly by Callahan already (along the lines of: you do not belong in this class but it entertains me to see you try, so you just have to see if I am sufficiently amused to give you a passing grade).
      She is forgetfull, occasionally clumsy and prone to fits of raging insensitivity (and uncontrollable hunger). She also is about as subtle and insightfull as a brick.
      She has a lot of magical power at her disposal but she is training as an enchanter, the nerds of the muniverse.
      The few things she is good at is being pretty much immune to harm and ordinary fire and titilating a certain crowd with how well she submits to Amaranth. If not for the presence of Mursi she could likely do without the grants and pay for her tuition by stage performances.

      I can not think of anything that would make the muniverse equivalent of the fbi think she is somebody they have to force to work for them. Quite the opposite, she is more likely to mess up undercover operations in progress through sheer ineptitude.

      Current score: 0
      • Gorgonopsid says:

        It’s nice to see that at least one other person is on the same wavelength I am.

        Current score: 0
  29. Sindyr says:

    Great chapters, AE! My husband and I love the suspense here, and we are both proud of Mack for staying calm and coming up with a plan. Also, way to go, Two!

    Current score: 0
  30. drudge says:

    Thinking on it, killing Mackenzie isn’t likely on their list of priorities.

    I mean lets look at the sort of people you’d need to silence in order to get away with it: The son of an influential noble, with lots of monetary, political, and magical power. The daughter of a major Yokan lord, someone who’s spoken with the Yokan emperor multiple times. Eldest Daughter of a powerful Dark Elf house, while not controlling it’s city state outright is certainly in the top five. Heir to an ogre nation you JUST managed to pacify. Wealthy heiress to an old money gnomish family. Favored daughter to a goddamned major goddess.

    Mackenzie herself, if you don’t know the specifics, is almost scary. She just shows up almost out of nowhere and suddenly has all these “friends”. She goes missing for a few days and suddenly there’s a huge riot. She’s already made more money in a couple of months than some people see in a full year. She’s never fought a day in her life and transfers to the hardest fighting class and proceeds to wail on a paladin in training. Just as a very problematic corpse shows up and people are scrambling for an answer she shows up to reveal who likely did it and what their motive was. Already some of the most dangerous people the world has ever seen have taken a liking to her, and you’ve seen gods and immortals and whole races die and apocalyptic armies retreat in fear when *Callahan* gets angry, and Mur-Si is on the same tier as her. The issues with making them dissapear(and Amaranth again when she just respawns in her field) would have ramifications that would start a lot of wars and make a lot of corpses.

    While from a readers perspective she’s just some awkward girl derping around with her mentally suspect buddies, looking at it from another perspective suddenly she’s this person that you need to handle very delicately.

    Current score: 1
    • beappleby says:

      Those are good points – and the alternative view of Mackenzie has been seen in Jamie’s Tale.

      Current score: 0
    • The son of an influential noble, with lots of monetary, political, and magical power.

      [citation needed]

      She goes missing for a few days and suddenly there’s a huge riot.

      [citation needed]

      while not controlling it’s city state outright is certainly in the top five.

      [citation needed]

      Although that last one is at least closer in its estimation of Dee’s family’s influence/power than the comment the other guy made about “they’re not even mayors!” That one ranks right up there with the evangelical Christian refrain that Buddhists are going to be disappointed to learn that you can’t get to heaven by praying to Buddha. The only real problem with this is that you, as you are so often wont to do, have pulled an arbitrary/random number out of the border ethereal plane and phrased it as a certainty

      Seriously. You’ve admitted before that you’re not really paying attention to the story. And yet on many chapters you’re among the posers with the most comments, and these comments are always phrased with an air of the utmost certainty even as they mix actual events with invented numbers and your own personal readings and skewed recollections that you have no interest in actually backing up.

      I know from experience with a previous commenter who basically asserted his own inner fan fic as canon on the comments that this sort of thing does have an affect. When you sit here and baldly state that X did happen, that there are Y of Z, and you do it with no hint that you might be fudging or spinning things, people get swayed by the confidence and it affects their memory of what they’ve read. It becomes part of their personal canon.

      Drudge, I’m going to ask you one more time to stop doing this voluntarily.

      Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        I don’t think I would have called it a riot, but there was quite a large crowd protesting Mack’s disappearance. I assumed that was what was meant. Also, Drudge’s post further up about her being a “wierdness magnet” was an interesting summary of how events could be perceived by someone expecting the worst. We got some of that in Jamie’s tale – not to that extent, but I can see where Drudge is coming from.

        Of course you have the final say on what you mean in the story, but it made some sense to me.

        “The son of an influential noble, with lots of monetary, political, and magical power.” If that’s referring to Ian, I get the idea that his family is well off but not necessarily having that much influence. His father is very conscious of status, in a way that makes me think he doesn’t have nearly as much of it as he would like everyone to think. (I hope that made sense!)

        Current score: 0
        • Gorgonopsid says:

          Yeah, but even a little digging would have shown that Mack wasn’t actually the instigator of a lot of it: She wasn’t part of the walkout, she told the teacher “guess you’ll just have to fail me” and only changed after Steff (I think it was Steff) pointed out that she needed to keep her GPA up for her scholarship. The protest was, IIRC, not spontanious but organized by Dee.

          You know, an idea I had today: what if this has to do with the pitchfork?

          Current score: 0
        • I’m sure the protest is what he was talking about, but the difference between a riot and a demonstration is considerable and important. In real life when people call a demonstration a riot, it’s usually because they’re trying to paint the protesters in a negative light.

          In this case, I don’t think that’s exactly what he was trying to do, but a “riot” fits his point better than a student protest so he calls it a riot. It’s like the other day when he claimed that thirty quarter or half-demons had gone to MU and fewer than 5 had survived to graduate, when truth was that 5 had gone and fewer than 5 had survived to graduate.

          Ian’s father is status conscious, powerful for a certain value of powerful, and not poor, but he’s not a noble and nothing in the story has suggested he is. Your conclusion of “he doesn’t have nearly as much [status] as he would like everyone to think” is way closer to what I’ve been trying to convey than Drudge’s, which is “He cares about status so clearly HE IS A RICH AND POWERFUL HUMAN NOBLE.”

          If it were just one thing or two things I wouldn’t even be saying anything, or I’d be more diplomatic about it. But this is a pattern with Drudge. I establish that Mackenzie weighs more now than she did at the start of the term and Drudge concludes that canonically she’s put on “a lot of weight”. If I dug through the archives I could find a bunch of similar comments and similar conclusions, some of which I commented on at the time and a lot that I didn’t.

          This is a pattern and it’s one I’m sick of, especially since when somebody else asked him where he gets his ideas from he admitted he doesn’t actually pay attention to the story.

          I really don’t want to pull “I’m the author and there is only one way to read this story and that’s my way!”, but… five doesn’t mean thirty. A demonstration is not a riot. A little weight is not a lot of weight. A self-important asshole who’s a member of a fraternal order sort of like the Elks or the Freemasons is not a noble.

          Words mean things. If that basic premise can’t be accepted as true, then there’s no point in me writing or you reading.

          Current score: 0
          • beappleby says:

            “some bureaucrat somewhere who has never met anyone who has met Mac, and who must rely on second and third-hand reports, often from people with a bias. Such a bureaucrat might view the situation with considerable exaggeration or confusion, much as Drudge describes it.” Yes, that was what I was thinking as well.

            Current score: 0
          • To me the analogy works more along the lines of the peerage system, without there being a monarch but instead a ruling council (city mothers =:?:= House of Lords?) formed by the thrones of each house. (Mayors have seats, to me, the peerage system sounds more on par with the nobility implied by each house having a throne. I’m tired though, rereading this it almost sounds like I’m quibbling semantics.) To me, I’d figure house d’Wyr on the scale of being a Dukedom or a Marquess. The names in Dee’s lineage Duquesna Desiera, and Deshalla Duquesna phonetically hint at it being a dukedom, but that might be my reading more into it than anything else.

            Durakesh and the lake are described as immense and mention is made of outlaying tunnels being part of the city itself in terms of defense at the very least. Then there is of course the islands – not really usable land, but rocks jutting out of the water. Mention is made to the d’Wyri carving out shelters and their island becoming quite the palace. We don’t know how large these estates that have been carved out my be.

            They aren’t one of the top 3, “The biggest three somewhat uneasily sharing a single landmass jutting out of the very center of the dark waters.” But they rank right up there, since they have an island, and it is more than a mile from any other island and from the shore. Reference

            Current score: 0
          • Kevin says:

            If the United States had nobility I think many would consider the Elks to be nobles they have an air of nobility. Incidentally Ian’s father sounds more Masonic than Elk.

            Current score: 0
          • Now 178 does make it clear we might title Matriarch Duala as ‘mayor’ of ‘city d’Wyri’, but that is just part of a much larger city.

            We might, if we’re the sort of person who thinks that an imam is a Muslim priest, that samurai are Japanese knights, or that Buddhists pray to Buddha for salvation.

            I’m not that sort of person. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if you are.

            Current score: 1
            • Kevin says:

              I give points for recognizing that an imam is not a Muslim priest.

              Current score: 0
  31. Kaila says:

    Is it friday/saturday yet?

    No?

    🙁

    Current score: 0
  32. I’ve been starting to wonder if we’re all not blowing this up a little out of proportion.

    What if this is a simple as someone finally checking the ‘safety’ issues with a demon-blood using an anti-fertility potion. If the healing center looked into it and it raised some eyebrows isn’t it possible that it got some serious attention in light that this is Mack we’re talking about, she’s already had issues with things going awry when dealing with the healing center. If someone got worried enough about a potential problem arising from that couldn’t this be a possible result? Couldn’t someone have overreacted to the possibility that there could be late showing side effects (aside from scent change) to her having taken the contraceptive and called in some big guns to check on things just to be sure.

    Considering all the upheaval so far in terms of the first semester an overreaction by the powers that be, in an effort to avoid further incidents which might arise if avoidable?

    Current score: 0
  33. Kaila says:

    Honestly, I do not care. I want to read what the author has written, and do not particularly care to speculate. Kind of like I try to refrain from having an opinion about something if I don’t know all the facts.

    Incidentally, it’s friday morning over here.

    *looks hopeful*

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      Well, I’m sorry, but this section down below the story is where the rest of us do all our speculating…

      Current score: 0
  34. drudge says:

    “Words mean things” is an interesting thing. I never said anything along the lines of “doesn’t actually pay attention to the story”. I said “I’m not spending an hour searching for the specific line in the specific chapter”.

    Words mean things, thingS, plural. A lot isn’t a specific increment, but given it was noted by multiple characters and the fact that she went from eating literally nothing to a diet consisting largely of meat and sweets with little excersize, I decided a vague word with no specific increment could be used.

    Noble isn’t some specific title like Thane or Baron, it’s a something that can be attained in multiple ways,and it’s been used to describe so many vastly different classes in so many different societies over periods of time with so much social upheaval in them it doesn’t mean much more than ‘*usually* hereditary position that gives you *some* measure of importance’. I decided “status obsessed rich guy in a monarchy with a certain amount of influence” may be acceptable since I wanted a word everyone would know.

    The number of infernal students is an actual error I apologize for, though the fact that you didn’t just say it makes me feel like a bit of a target, given simple factual or numerical errors were cleared up by you both before and after in the comments of that exact chapter.

    I’m not trying to give some kind of radical new way to understand the story, I’m trying to read YOUR story here and know damn well I’m not a MU encyclopedia, which is why I’m going through my third re-read in my spare time. I am however trying to put things together from the limited perspective of someone getting information from in universe perspectives. I have no idea how the full scope of MU politics or half demon metabolism works, I’m trying to piece it all together from pieces you’re giving over gaps of time and will naturally get things wrong. You never gave us a “one way to read the story and thats my way”, so we sort of have to work with the limited perspectives you DID give us.

    ———

    Long story short, sorry for factual errors, words have multiple. I’d like to ask you to stop looking at individual points and pay attention to the statement I was trying to make here, which illustrates my point perfectly: Who knows the whole story here? It sure isn’t me, it sure isn’t the characters I’m getting information from, so LETS GUESS WHAT *might* BE GOING ON.

    I don’t mean to be rude, but you’ve been coming off as rather insulting for a bit now and for points I’ve stated before, I’m beginning to take it personally.

    Current score: 0
    • Calia says:

      “I don’t mean to be rude…”
      Then why are you being rude?

      AE has told you off multiple times for passing things off as fact that you’ve obviously just pulled from a random orifice. From an outside perspective, you’ve been “coming off as rather insulting” for a long time. You don’t “guess” or “discuss”, you dictate. And you’ve been pretty rude to a lot of readers, and to AE, when they tell you you’re wrong.

      Also: While you’ve never said “I don’t actually pay attention to the story”, I can think of multiple occasions where you’ve outright said “I don’t know that I care anymore” (during points where things weren’t “happening fast enough” or Mackenzie diverged from what you apparently considered the “main plot”), which comes off very similar. Maybe you should take a step back, and instead of taking it personally when the author tells you you’re wrong, realize that you’re being kind of a prick and have been for a while.

      AE: I apologize if this comes off terse. Please, if you feel it’s inappropriate, moderate it. I just don’t think it’s fair for people to bite your head off when you: A) aren’t feeling well, and B) have repeatedly asked them to stop what they’re doing, rather politely.

      Current score: 0
    • I honestly wish you had apologized; it would change the way I’ve been reading your comments. While I now realize… now that you’ve more or less pointed it out… that you haven’t done this in a while, you’re still “The Guy Who’s Perpetually Telling Everyone How Close He Is To Quitting Because Of Everything That’s Wrong With The Story”. That sort of changes how I view your comments, and you’re such an active commenter that it’s hard to avoid them if I read the comments at all.

      You’re not the only person who ever got a [citation needed] tag. David Argall has, too. If he gets them less often, that’s because he creeps me right the fuck out.

      Anyway, the perspective I’ve had of you is part of why your inaccuracies provoke my ire. Another is that you happen to hit on hot button topics.

      Like weight gain. If all you know about someone is their diet, you know nothing about their weight, and vice versa. The human body and its metabolism are more complicated than the popular understanding would have us believe. The metabolism adjusts itself to calorie intake and use to try to keep the body as stable asit can… it fights outside influences, in other words. This means you could not gain a substantial amount of weight in 6-ish weeks just by changing your diet. You couldn’t. If somebody needs to put on weight for a film role, they don’t just start downing Big Macs… they go through periods of eating more followed by dieting, because dieting trains the metabolism to hold onto every calorie and every ounce more jealously.

      (This is also why a lifetime of dieting makes most people fatter and less healthy.)

      And I understand your defensiveness… because I was attacking you… but you are being defensive if you sit here and try to tell me that “a lot” doesn’t mean “a substantial amount”. Words mean things, but “a lot” doesn’t mean “a bit of”. Neither are specific quantities, but they represent opposite concepts. Multiple characters commented on the fact that Mackenzie has put on a bit of weight. I established that her clothes fit tighter. But she isn’t busting out of them.

      The demonstration/riot thing is on my mind because you made that comment while real-life demonstrations were being characterized as riots by a real-life oppressive regime, and that word was being mindlessly parroted by people commenting on the situation overseas, thus playing into the regime’s propaganda. See my newest Livejournal post for more details.

      I don’t want to argue these points with you or anyone else… and when I say “I don’t want to argue these points”, I mean “such an argument will not happen“. I’m only expanding on them to show you why your comments pushed my buttons when other people’s didn’t.

      And no, you didn’t say in so many words that you don’t pay attention, but the full text I was thinking of was more than just “I’m not going back to check.”, it was more like, “I’m not going back to check. I only remember Mackenzie, Steff, and random people we never see again.” I took that to mean that you just don’t care about the rest of the details.

      Reading into it? Yeah, but again, my brain has you pegged as The Guy Who Hates Everything.

      Anyway… now that I know more of where you’re coming from and where you’re at, I’ll try to give the mental Etch-A-Sketch a good hard shake and view your comments from a clean slate. I don’t enjoy the feeling of being at odds with a reader, and for all that there are times that I take exception to your description/reading of events, there are a few things you’ve said that made me glad that someone said them.

      Also, you’re not David Argall. Fuck that guy.

      Current score: 0
  35. NatalieF says:

    I’m glad that I am reading this chapter on Friday and so assume that the next is imminent…

    Current score: 0
  36. readaholic says:

    heehee Saturday here now, so I’ve been hanging from this cliff-face for a while now. I just couldn’t talk myself out of believing that I might get lucky and have Ms Erin post the next update at 12am Friday my time. Yeah, I know, silly.

    Current score: 0