487: Heart-To-Heart

on February 7, 2011 in Uncategorized Chapters

In Which No, The Man Didn’t Actually Say That. Check Again.

The fact that none of the other agents headed for the front door as Kent led me outside left me more than a little uneasy. Were they securing Harlowe for some reason? Did they expect they’d have a reason to need it secured? Or were they planning something that would require it?

Maybe I’d been thinking too small before… maybe it wasn’t Leda’s death that needed a scapegoat, but something that hadn’t even happened yet. It was hard to put a limit on how far Law would go, since chances were good that the worst of their excesses had never come to light.

“I guess it’s a small chariot?” I said to Kent as we stepped out into the sunken patio in front of Harlowe. It was a stupid joke, especially under the circumstances, but I preferred the false joviality he’d first greeted us with to the stony silence I could almost feel him settling into. “Or is it more of a metaphorical vehicle?”

“We’ll be moving on foot from here,” he said, gesturing towards the steps up to ground level. “Towards the eastern edge of campus.”

That told me nothing, since that’s where the carriage parks were. If they wanted to spirit me away in a black wagon or something, they could do it a lot more discreetly by walking me over there first than by pulling one up to the front of the building.

Was that why they’d wanted my cooperation?

It was a little late to do anything about it, though, so I just started walking. I was not at all fooled by appearances… even without an obvious large and well-armed escort squad falling in place beside us, there was no way we were actually alone.There could be snipers on the roofs with crossbows or wands, an assault team following alongside us in extradimensional space, battlemages ready to teleport right on top of us…

Hell, maybe the whole plan was to get me alone outside and try to provoke me into attacking. Then they wouldn’t even need a cover story. The demon girl attacked a man… luckily there were still imperial agents around.

“So… let’s hear it,” I said once we were up on the path and headed around the dorms. “Tell me whatever you actually can tell me.”

“Well, basically… a deal has been brokered to bring the incident to a close,” he said.

“And that’s the incident that was supposedly already brought to a close when they said it was a wandering monster,” I said.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss the nature of the incident beyond the details that have been reported,” he said.

“Oh, come on… you know full well that I know what really happened,” I said.

“I’m not at liberty to say whether I know that or not,” he said. “Or whether I knew it before you just told me. See, kid, we don’t just ironwall people for the hell of it. When you think you’re saying one thing, you’re usually saying three other things you haven’t even thought about.”

“You’re telling me to keep my mouth shut?” I asked. “Isn’t that sort of going to be counterproductive?”

“Only if we want you to talk,” he said. “I told you that I don’t know what the plan is, and I don’t. This isn’t our show.”

“So when you said ‘a deal has been brokered’… you weren’t just abusing passive voice for fun,” I said. “You guys didn’t have anything to do with it.

It was probably unwise to run my mouth like that, but I didn’t feel like I was running my mouth… it was a self-sustaining thing. It was like the sense of danger pressing in from all around me was sharpening my wits, only the “wits” that were engaging in my head weren’t the kind that helped one avoid danger, they were the kind that provoked it into hitting oneself in the face.

It was kind of liberating, but at that moment I would have really preferred some actual liberation to the feeling of it doesn’t matter what I say or do because I am fucked regardless that I was experiencing.

“No, ma’am,” Kent said, with a tightness of jaw that suggested he wasn’t thrilled about that. “We’re just facilitators here. We just want to make sure it all goes down as cleanly and smoothly as possible.”

“I suppose if this really is the end of the whole thing and someone’s figured out how to tie it all off with a nice big bow, then talking is probably the last thing anyone wants me to do,” I said. It sounded fatalistic even to my ears, but I couldn’t see any other conclusion to be drawn. “I’m a loose end, aren’t I?”

“I don’t know that,” he said. “There are ways of ensuring silence. Geases, memory removal and modification… though that one’s probably more trouble than you’re worth. It’s worth.”

I thought about saying something about how I hoped he didn’t think I’d been bluffing about Amaranth calling in Mother Khaele, but I didn’t see how I could say that without making it perfectly clear that I had been bluffing. Just because Amaranth got the personal response more often than not didn’t mean she could make a major goddess do her bidding. I really kind of suspected that Mother Khaele would tell Amaranth to solve her own messes. She might even see this as the unfortunate but inevitable end of her daughter’s involvement with someone like me.

Anyway, there was little point in trying to impress Kent with how much bad stuff would happen if anything happened to me… it wasn’t his decision. He was only the messenger, and he didn’t even have a real message to give me.

“So, what else?” I asked. “That can’t be the whole thing… I mean, there isn’t any reason you couldn’t have said ‘a deal has been brokered’ in front of Amaranth.”

“As I said: every time you say one thing, you’re saying three other things,” he said. “But, no… that’s not it. You aren’t part of the plan. The entity that orchestrated the deal asked for you after it was agreed to by all parties.”

Entity was the first word that jumped out at me… it made me think of the eyeless fish-beast. But while entity was a handy word to describe those who weren’t precisely people, people were entities, too. And so were organizations. In Art Kent’s “not-telling-you-nothing” approach to conversation, all I could really read into that was that he wasn’t saying whether it was a person or what.

So that just left the idea that the entity had asked for me to toll ominously in my brain. As payment? My mind again went to Mercy… I couldn’t imagine her being any kind of a diplomat.

“And you’re going to tell me that you don’t know why I’ve been asked for,” I said. “If I ask.”

“If you ask, I will tell you that,” Kent said. “But only if you ask. There’s never any point to advertising ignorance.”

“For someone who doesn’t want to give anything away, you’re really kind of full of advice.”

“It’s an investment,” he said. “Or maybe a gamble, at this point.”

“What exactly are you investing in?”

“You,” he said. “If you have a future, it could be an interesting one. If you learn to keep your head down, keep a lower profile.”

“Are you trying to recruit me?” I asked.

“No,” he said. “That would be premature, for multiple reasons.”

The unspoken part: not yet.

“Yeah, um… thanks, but no thanks. If I do have a future, I can’t really see a career in the intelligence services in it,” I said.

“I don’t think you’re cut out for Law, per se,” he said. “But there’s a sort of affiliate program I’ve inherited. We always have uses for unique women with interesting talents.”

“I’m hardly unique,” I said. “Except maybe in the sense that everyone is.”

“You’re a half-demon,” he said. “Unlike most other crossbreeds, there aren’t any breeding populations of you anywhere, and no stable mixed populations producing more of you. That means every half-demon is a special case, an anomaly. You’d be unique even if you weren’t you.”

“Why am I in particular unique?”

“All uniqueness is particular, Mackenzie,” he said. “They were just idle words. Don’t read too much into them.”

“Right,” I said. “If I tell you that you remind me of my father, it’s not a compliment.”

“I’ll tell you something for free,” he said. “I’ve met your father.”

“Did you offer him a job, too?”

“I haven’t offered you a job,” he said. Yet. “It’s true, though. I’ve spent my whole career in the central provinces. There aren’t many of what you might call ‘long-term residents’ in this region. We’ve crossed paths a few times.”

“I’ve never met him myself,” I said.

“You already told me I remind you of him.”

“I meant the way he is inside my head.”

“I’ve met him,” he said. “I’ve met me. I knew what you meant as soon as you said it, Mackenzie. It’s a little late to try to cover it with a lie.”

“It wasn’t exactly a lie,” I said. “I’ve never seen him outside of my head.”

“Yeah, that would be the sort of thing he’d do,” Kent said. “He keeps his nose clean, as far as his kind can. There were times we thought he’d gone back below, until another body popped up.”

“Body?” I repeated. I really didn’t want to know, didn’t want to be talking about this, but the hook of the mystery was too barbed and too well-baited.

“Yes, with the heart gone or torn open in the chest,” Kent said. “He needs blood from a virgin’s heart, every thirteen months or so. We don’t have the interval nailed down exactly because we don’t find all the bodies. The diabs say thirteen months is most likely, if it’s not a lunar year.”

“So once a year or so, he kills a virgin,” I said.

“That’s our understanding.”

“That’s… that’s actually good to know,” I said. “Thanks.”

“Can I ask why?” he asked.

“Because I’ll remember it the next time I see him,” I said.

“He’s sneaky about it, though,” Kent said. “He’s sneaky about everything. That’s how he’s managed to stay in plane for so long. Sooner or later, he’ll get cocky and stick his head up, and then we’ll send his ass back to hell.”

“How long is ‘so long’, exactly?” I asked. “How long has he been here?”

“The dossier’s older than the agency,” he said.

“You’re awfully forthcoming about all this.”

“It’s not classified,” he said. “Demon activity is only classified when releasing the information would jeopardize an ongoing operation. This is old news and it’s relevant to you. Honestly, I’m surprised you’ve never looked him up.”

“I wouldn’t know how, if I wanted to.”

“He’s poking around your head. Don’t you want to poke back?”

“I don’t want to have anything to do with him,” I said. “Knowing for a fact that he kills… and how he kills… is one thing, because it gives me another reason to shut him out. Knowing anything else? I don’t know… it just feels like a way of letting him in.”

“If you ever change your mind, reflect me,” he said. “I’ll get you his file.”

“Assuming I’m in any condition to do that.”

“Naturally,” he said.

“I don’t think I’ll take you up on that,” I said. “Take this with as much or as little offense as you want, but I really hope that I never see you guys again after this.”

“Well, then I guess this is just a win-win situation for you, isn’t it?” he said.

“Are you enjoying this?”

“The conversation? It’s fairly pleasant, and quite stimulating,” he said.

“I meant the whole thing,” I said. “The fact that you’re delivering me to what may or may not be certain doom… for the sake of a plan you don’t even know. Do you like what you do?”

“It’s a necessary job. I don’t enjoy every single thing that I do in the course of my performing my duty,” he said. “I shovel shit for a living. No one likes shoveling shit, but I like the fact that it gets shoveled.”

“I’m pretty sure someone somewhere actually would enjoy that,” I said. I thought it was along the lines of something Amaranth might say.

“Probably,” he said. “But those aren’t the people you want to hand a shovel to, generally speaking. Metaphorically or otherwise.”

“Like McAvoy,” I said. “I get the feeling he really enjoys his work.”

“Del doesn’t enjoy anything,” Kent said. “He likes to make sure everyone else is enjoying things even less so he can feel like he’s having a good time.”

I thought I understood one of the other things he was saying there: you’re lucky I’m here, kid. I was lucky it was him and not someone like McAvoy. Art Kent was a grade-A slimeball and probably wouldn’t hesitate to kill me himself if he thought it would preserve order, or aid the Imperium, or maybe even just to advance his career, but he wasn’t Del McAvoy. He didn’t take pleasure in it.

We were nearing the end of the path, and the edge of campus, which was where I imagined the masks would fall off, or at least slip down another inch or so. I didn’t expect to be told what was happening before I was bundled off into a vehicle, but the nature of the bundling would probably tell me something… and assuming that I was able to see and hear and speak, maybe there would be somebody there who would tell me what the hell I was even doing.

But there weren’t any vehicles waiting at the carriage park, that I could see. If there were any concealed by magic, it wasn’t a kind I could pierce.

“I don’t suppose you know where we’re going next,” I said. “At least tell me if you’re coming along, or just handing me off.”

“We’re not going anywhere,” he said. “We’re almost there already.”

“Seriously?” I said. “You want me to believe you’re just bringing me out to the edge of campus for the hell of it? What, is there some esoteric law of imperial diplomacy that the edge of a university’s grounds are like international waters? Or are we meeting with an intellectual vampire, who can’t stand on learned ground?”

“No,” he said. He pointed at where the path curved slightly away from the carriage park. “It’s just where the administration building is. That’s where we’re going.”

“Oh, right, you guys took that over, too.”

“There aren’t enough men in the entire central office to take over that building,” he said. “Our agents and the boys from the bureau who set up shop there have mostly withdrawn from it, and those who haven’t have gone home for the night. The offices are closed.”

Translation: it’s a big, empty building that students don’t have access to, set well back away from anything else on campus. That was ominous enough in and of itself.

The part about not being enough men take it over? That wasn’t ominous at all.

Ominous was the spooky music that played while the atmosphere of terror built up to a crescendo. When the crescendo was reached and the monster appeared, things were well past the point of being ominous.

It was like the difference between an omen of death and death.

If the location had been chosen for any other reason besides being conveniently secluded, then I had a strong feeling that the monster was already on the scene.

It was obvious in retrospect what “entity” had brokered the deal, and who had sent an entire contingent or division or whatever of Law agents to fetch me.

Who had been standing there at the press conference, smirking like the proverbial cat that ate the souls of everybody in the viewing audience?

Embries.


Wednesday:


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149 Responses to “487: Heart-To-Heart”

  1. Frelance says:

    the whole thing and someone’s figure out how to tie it all off with a nice big bow, then talking is

    Current score: 0
  2. Kobold says:

    Nice. Liking the current arc alot. Also, tempted to do the whole kindle deal. Would be a cheap, simple way to support you while still getting something from it.

    Current score: 0
  3. Frelance says:

    That’s one heck of a proverbial cat. The fuck kind of proverbs proliferate in this world?

    Current score: 3
    • Miss Lynx says:

      I think that may be my favourite comment here in quite some time… And no, I don’t think I’ve come across that particular terrifying proverb either.

      Current score: 2
      • Jennier says:

        Yes, I’m going to remember that proverb myself, vividly. Perhaps it will be useful in daily conversation.

        I really liked the chapter a lot, and will be rereading it several times, undoubtedly. Except for the part of me that is screaming “Enough with the foreplay!!!”

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    • JS says:

      It’s not that strange, really; she’s splicing the saying “cat that ate the canary” with the thought that cats sit on your chest and suck out your breath (and maybe your soul).

      Current score: 0
  4. drudge says:

    Emberies. Goddamn, whatever he wants I doubt he’s going to want to kill Mackenzie. If he did, as Mack Daddy establishes, there would be absolutely nothing stopping him legally or physically.

    Speaking of, a Virgin heart every thirteen years. I’d wonder how long L.A. Blaise was with him for, but I doubt she counts as a “virgin” unless “except for demons” is added to the end.

    Lastly, I love how he’s trying to guide her towards working with them. “You don’t want to hear from us. How about your dad? We could give you the means to go after him and do our job for us!”

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    • Miss Lynx says:

      Thirteen months, not years. That’s a little over one year.

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    • bramble says:

      Thirteen months – approximately one a year.

      In As I Went Down To The River (III), it’s heavily implied that he started molesting Laurel Anne when she was twelve, and if I’ve got everything worked out right, she was fifteen when she became pregnant with Aidan. It seems like the “sleep with them as soon as possible to get them off the menu” strategy is something all the members of the family have independently come up with, when dealing with someone they have further use for or romantic interest in.

      Current score: 1
  5. Leesai says:

    Wait… In this chapter he says that Mack’s dad needs the blood from a human heart to live.. but didn’t he tell Mack during one of his dream-visits that he needs human ovaries? I’m slightly confused now… Great story! Definitely keeping me on the edge of my seat.

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    • drudge says:

      I think that was, as other readers have guessed, him messing around with the truth. He shows disdain at mere survival, he wants to *live*. He NEEDS blood to survive, he WANTS children to live.

      Current score: 2
      • drudge says:

        Exact quote on the survival thing:

        “Survived? Survival is for suckers,” he said. “Fish sucking scum off the bottom of a pond survive. Those poor dumb things that Mercy woman calls ‘half-demons’ are surviving. During our long years apart since your mother died, you just barely managed to do more than survive. Don’t you want more than that? Don’t you need it? Don’t you feel the hunger deep down in your bones for it?”

        Current score: 1
        • Chris says:

          In the character questions he said:
          “What do you need to survive?” – Guest

          As if I’d settle for mere survival. I want to live… the organs I need to do that are ovaries.

          Typo:The be in this sentence should be replaced by a by.
          The entity that orchestrated the deal asked for you after it was agreed to be all parties.

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          • Markii says:

            To live in the terms of not dying, he needs the heart. To live in the terms of having fun with life, he enjoys the company of human women both conversationally and carnally.
            basically he lives to screw and make halfbreeds, and needs ovaries for that.

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          • Burnsidhe says:

            That’s perfect misdirection from “the man”. “Survival” = the heart of a virgin. “Life” = Ovaries, because that’s how you get children.

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            • Krista says:

              Yeppers, agree with you there 🙂

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            • beappleby says:

              I’m glad this thread came up, because I had no idea what the subtitle might be referring to!

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            • I’m glad this thread came up, too, because otherwise the subtitle would have gone to waste.

              Current score: 2
  6. Sylvan says:

    I noticed two strange places in the text, possible errors.

    “I suppose if this really is the end of the whole thing and someone’s figure out how to tie it all off with a nice big bow, then talking is probably the last thing anyone wants me to do,” I said.

    “someone’s figure out how to tie” Sounds strange in that sentence. The next is in the following.

    “If you ever change your mind, reflect me,” he said. “I’ll get you his file.”

    “Assuming I’m in any condition to do that.”

    “Naturally,” I said.

    “I don’t think I’ll take you up on that,” I said. “Take this with as much or as little offense as you want, but I really hope that I never see you guys again after this.”

    Should it be he said after that “Naturally”?

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    • Matthias says:

      beat me by 1 lousy minute

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    • beappleby says:

      “I suppose if this really is the end of the whole thing and someone’s figure out how to tie it all off with a nice big bow, then talking is probably the last thing anyone wants me to do,” I said.

      Makes sense to me. Break it up:

      “This is the end of the whole thing and someone’s figure out how to tie it all off with a nice big bow.”

      “I suppose if this really is the end of the whole thing and someone’s figure out how to tie it all off with a nice big bow, then talking is probably the last thing anyone wants me to do.”

      Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        Except, of course, that it should be “figured” and not “figure”!

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  7. Matthias says:

    “If you ever change your mind, reflect me,” he said. “I’ll get you his file.”

    “Assuming I’m in any condition to do that.”

    “Naturally,” I* said.

    *Think this is supposed to be “he”

    Current score: 0
  8. Kevin says:

    Yet another chapter leading up to Embries and still not in the belly of the Dragon’s Lair. On the other hand we saw something interesting about demonic breeding as The Man eats the blood of virgin hearts where as his children need virgin ________ (possibly blood) makes me wonder if half demons require a non-lethal equivalent to their parents needs.

    Current score: 1
    • Silvertongue says:

      This makes me wonder what Bohd’s full-demon ancestor needs… brains, maybe?

      Current score: 1
    • bramble says:

      Not necessarily non-lethal, though – one of Mercy’s pets eats livers, doesn’t he?

      Unless Mercy’s been over-feeding him, giving a full-demon’s diet to a half-demon.

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      • beappleby says:

        Well, all Mack actually NEEDS is blood – but she has had flesh as well, on occasion… and enjoyed it.

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      • Kevin says:

        Well it could be that Mercy’s liver lover only needs part of the liver. When I said non-lethal I should have said less lethal.

        Current score: 0
        • TJHairball says:

          Maybe he just needs bile from the liver.

          Which would make him a bile demon! OK, half a bile demon.

          Every thirteen months is an interesting frequency. Not nearly so often as Mack needs feeding, but often enough to make for a long trail of dead bodies over his lifetime.

          Current score: 1
          • TJHairball says:

            I will say, as an addenda, I had always suspected that Mack-daddy was one of those demons that needed something immaterial, like innocence.

            Actually… it may be that he needs “the heart of a virgin” either metaphorically OR literally, which is why he might sometimes seem to disappear from Law’s scope for a few years. I wouldn’t rule out Law not having the full story on Mack-daddy.

            Or Mack-daddy playing a very clever game of some sort with Law, though that seems less likely.

            Current score: 1
            • drudge says:

              It could be that he’s just killing virgins in a specific way to throw them off a different need in case of emergency, but that’d be a lot of mutilated corpses for a ruse that’d make you seem MORE dangerous.

              Current score: 2
  9. alashara says:

    I’m really liking Kent right now if only because he seems to be able to keep Mack in line, or at least keep up with her without resorting to telling her she’s arguing.

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      Keep her in line? He’s letting her go on. He could refuse to say anything. The warning about not talking too much seems to be nothing more than good advice.

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      • TJHairball says:

        This might actually be an interrogation of sorts. He’s certainly doing a good job of gleaning information from her.

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      • alashara says:

        yea, sorry i noticed i’d screwed that up as soon as i posted the comment. i meant something more along the lines of lead her without actually browbeating her like amaranth does(yes i know browbeating is an overexaggeration). you’ll notice he hasnt really needed to flatout say “im not allowed to say” except for the part at the beginning.

        Current score: 0
  10. Burnsidhe says:

    “I’m sure you are wondering why I have brought you all together this evening…” is looking more and more likely. And it looks like Embries is either going to reward Mack personally (though that’s unlikely) or do some back room negotiation-by-intimidation to get the suit against the university dropped.

    Current score: 0
    • Ducky says:

      I don’t think he actually cares very much about the suit against the University.

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      • fka_luddite says:

        While Embries has some concern about the interests of the University,an arbitrated settlement reached at a sedate but reasonable pace would probably best serve those interests.

        Current score: 0
  11. Burnsidhe says:

    Of course, the other possibility is that Embries is not there at all, and that all this was orchestrated to bring Mackenzie to Leda’s family, who will ask her to bear witness. Entity IS a very versatile word. It can even refer, for instance, to a law firm.

    Current score: 0
  12. Burnsidhe says:

    Just spotted this: “If you have a future, it could be an interesting one…”

    I’ve read that before, with a similar phrasing, from Callahan.

    And Callahan is “an interesting woman with special skills” who is perfectly placed to keep an eye on students who might be future recruits, and she’s the kind of entity who would be involved with the “affiliate program” Kent inherited.

    Current score: 2
    • Alyxe Barron says:

      Heyla, Burnsidhe

      Funny you would say that.

      This section tickled at me on the first reread and I figured out why on the second.

      “I don’t think you’re cut out for Law, per se,” he said. “But there’s a sort of affiliate program I’ve inherited. We always have uses for unique women with interesting talents.”

      As far as I can determine… every single Hydra Company member was female. I can bring to mind Jilly-bean, Nora, the captain, the mage, Mur-Si. Any other specific members spring to mind?

      Admittedly, part of me is just amused at the thought of Mackenzie coming to command a new Hydra Company for some reason and having to go tell Callahan and Mercy that they have been reactivated. -giggle-

      -r

      Current score: 1
      • Burnsidhe says:

        Mercy, if it’s the same Mur-Si, is not physically female, and might not even self-identify as female, if I’m remembering correctly. The former I’m more sure of than the latter.
        Amaranth said something about it during the evening, after the performance in the Virgin’s Cage, if I recall correctly.

        Current score: 1
        • Burnsidhe says:

          Oops, I was wrong on both counts. Mercy is half-kind, and the conversation took place in 411: Information.

          Current score: 0
          • drudge says:

            I believe in a question Mercy said she wasn’t half kind so much as physically male with a boob job(likley the same sort of potion Steff took). The distinction seemed to bug her.

            Current score: 1
            • She said she’s not a hermaphrodite, and it bugged her because she’s not a hermaphrodite.

              What you’re describing is exactly (the physical side of) what the under-elves call “half-kind”.

              Current score: 1
            • JS says:

              Oof, I’m missing a distinction here that is truly bugging me!

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            • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

              Hermaphrodites are people born with the genitals of both sexes (E.G., penis and vagina). “Half-kinds” are male to female transgendered individuals (not female to male, though, or at least not as I remember) who’ve taken a potion that both gives them breasts and exaggerates their penises.

              Current score: 0
            • What ‘Nym said above is sort of in the neighborhood of being true, for the sake of accuracy I must point out that “male to female transgendered” is a different expression/construction of a similar concept to half-kind. Mercy does not in fact consider herself to be half-kind because she doesn’t belong to a society that has half-kind, and Steff doesn’t either, that’s why I specified “the physical side of” above.

              Physically, Mercy and Steff have the same sort of body as a half-kind would.

              “Hermaphrodite” as a biological term should really never be applied to a human being (unless they choose to identify themselves that way for convenience). It’s kind of dehumanizing and has freak show connotations. A human being who has a phenotype (physical expression) that seems to mix the primary sexual characteristics associated with male and female is more properly termed “intersexed”.

              Current score: 2
            • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

              I suppose it would have been more accurate to say that the half-kind seem to be the dark elf equivalent of male-to-female transgendered individuals, as, being as the culture has three genders, they don’t really identify as “female”, per se, so much as somewhere between female and male? We don’t really as a whole have a cultural equivalent to half-kind…

              Also, I hadn’t actually heard about the term “hermaphrodite” being considered dehumanizing. I’d just thought “intersexed” was a broad category of ambiguous genitalia, and “hermaphrodite” referred to having a penis and vagina specifically, with no implication of anything demeaning. Thanks for the clarification- I’ll be sure to adjust my vocabulary accordingly.

              Current score: 0
            • anelfgirl says:

              scientifically, things like flatworms, or plants, are “hermaphrodites” because they are routinely capable of producing both kinds of gametes. this is not something mammals do.

              Current score: 0
      • erratio says:

        One of the elf mages had a male mate who died early in the first Hydra chapter, and I think there was also a barbarian type guy who joined Callahan in the standing-and-fighting

        Current score: 0
        • Elisabeth says:

          IIRC that male mate was an ancestor of Jaime’s and was able to turn into a stag as well.

          Current score: 0
      • Marx says:

        Despite the part about Hydra being an all-female club not being true, I’d say ‘unique women’ sounds better than ‘unique people’ and is definitely *more* correct than ‘unique men’ when adressing Mack.
        Me thinks he just used the phrasing as parts of his sales pitch, no?

        Current score: 0
  13. The Other Leighton says:

    So was the benchmark of 10 Kindle subscribers hit yesterday to get us a Wednesday update or are we going to have to wait until Friday for the next one? I really enjoy how this arc is going, though as usual the pace could stand to be a little faster.

    Still, though, I’m hooked and curious where this will be going. My current theory is Embries either offering Mack the “honor” of killing the mer herself or being there to watch to see that it’s actually been done… and then Embries asking her to work with him or whatever her dad had warned her not to do.

    Current score: 0
  14. The Dark Master says:

    So it is going to be Embries? I guess he was the most obvious. He did say he wanted to get rid of Mack early on. It is looking like there is going to be a confrontation, one that Mack cannot possibly win. Either Dee or The Man is likely to be fighting Embries before the night is over, maybe to stall for the 2 hours. This also might be the point where AE removes The Man from the story, so she doesn’t have to deal with the misaligned fandom. Though, I wouldn’t count out Callahan yet.

    Damn it Mackenzie, didn’t you just learn that Demonic nature is hereditary? Learning about your father will give you in site to your own demonic nature! Why does she constantly turn away from all these opportunities to better herself?

    Current score: 0
    • Ducky says:

      Because she can’t see how learning anything about her demonic self can better herself.

      Her grandmother told her for nearly 10 straight years that her demonic side was evil, vile, and should be kept in a little box where no one can see it. Now that it’s out of the box, she’s trying desperately to ignorie it.

      It’s like the gay Mormon kids who commit suicide. They don’t understand that being gay isn’t some mortal sin, and their families don’t do much, if anything, to help them cope. They’re sent to priests who tell them that yes, they’re sinful and dirty and should repent – but they can’t, because it’s not a choice.

      Current score: 0
      • beappleby says:

        And she has made progress, but it’s been one step forward, two steps back. I think she just stepped back again…

        Current score: 0
        • The Dark Master says:

          One thing she might learn is her natural aura of temptation, and maybe some other things that can’t be turned off… She really needs to learn that her demonic nature isn’t going to disapear if she ignoors it, but she might be able to contain it if she understands it.

          Though I’m not just talking about that, also Dee’s meditations and training, and learning to tolerate Divine energies.

          Current score: 0
          • The Dark Master says:

            Are some of the skills she has just not spent the time learning, just stoping after deciding to do it.

            Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      We STILL don’t know that it’s going to be Embries! That is the conclusion Mackenzie has drawn… but she hasn’t always had the best track record in that department!

      Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      …somehow, I don’t think that there’s any reason to be concerned about “misaligned fandom” in regards to the Man. Yes, lots of us are fascinated by him, and kind of wish that Mack would acknowledge him a little more… but that doesn’t mean we want the story to be all the Man, all the time, or that we think he’s likely to be “redeemed” or something. He’s the kind of character you’re supposed to be intrigued by without necessarily approving of, and I think Ms. Erin trusts her fans to be smart enough to recognize that.

      In fact, part of what I love about this story is the variety of characters who are charmingly amoral, ambiguously evil, or villains with good publicity – the Man, Embries, Caron, possibly even Callahan, to name a few. I certainly hope all those characters aren’t slated for removal from the story because we readers can’t be trusted to figure out who to cheer for!

      Current score: 0
      • It’s not the people who think he needs to be redeemed who are a problem for me.

        It’s the people who think he doesn’t need to be redeemed that worry me.

        When I see people saying, “What has he even done that’s so wrong? What? No, he didn’t groom a child for sex… he groomed a child and then later separately had sex with her! That’s different! But he didn’t choose to have sex with her because she’s a child, that was incidental and beside the point.”, it’s not a matter of trusting (those particular) fans or not.

        When this happens, there are people being creepy and gross and are engaged in apologetics for someone who canonically preyed on a twelve-year-old girl in a sexual fashion*. I would absolutely remove a character from the story if this kept happening in the official comments area.

        *Yes, the story is ambiguous about when exactly in the timeline sex first started happening. That doesn’t make the sentence “preyed on a twelve-year-old girl in a sexual fashion” any less accurate a summary of what happened. It takes a strong will to want the Man to be good (perhaps because they like him as a character, perhaps out of the peevish insistence that anyone Mackenzie doesn’t trust must be good) to interpret the story as The Man became good friends with a twelve-year-old-girl, introduced her to sexual concepts and induced her to keep everything secrets, and then some indeterminate time later she happened to decide she was ready to have sex with him but it had nothing to do with what had come before.

        I wrote a story about a man who preyed on a child, which by definition makes him a child predator**. It made me feel creeped out writing it. But then people started cheering for him either because they think he’s cool or they think his daughter who doesn’t trust him is an idiot.

        **It does. It doesn’t matter if children are a target of preference or only of opportunity. One who preys on children is a child predator. Stop and think about what you’re arguing for/defending before you jump in to argue otherwise. And then don’t argue otherwise, because this venue is not the place.

        Current score: 1
        • Gorgonopsid says:

          What kind of donation would it take for his canon ending to be “Callahan ripped his skull right out of his head and beat him to death with it?”

          Current score: 2
        • bramble says:

          Hey, no, I get it. There’s a difference between thinking that he’s not likely to be redeemed and thinking that he doesn’t need to be redeemed, after all. And maybe I’m giving other people too much credit when I think that most of them probably get that difference, too. If you decide that he’s been taken the wrong way and that the only way to fix that is to write him out in a definitive way, that is completely your prerogative. I’d just like to put my two cents in and say that I find the Man to be a fascinating villain, and will be a little disappointed if he’s killed off for good just as we’ve started to actually find something out about him.

          Current score: 0
          • Oh, I’m probably not taking him out, no. I wouldn’t be continuing to develop him if I wanted to minimize his part in the story.

            It’s not a question of what most people think/know about him. It’s the tone of the most numerous comments about him.

            Current score: 1
            • The Dark Master says:

              If you do want to remove him from the story, I’d just ask that you make at least one of the other characters a skilled manipulator. You are very good at writing them and I would love to see a conversation between a good one and a bad one.

              One of the things I really like about these sorts of people is the inherent dangers when talking to them. Some of my favourite conversations in fiction are verbal bouts of manipulation between two people. Both know the dangers of the other and are still trying to gain the upper hand.

              Current score: 1
          • Durragh says:

            i have to agree with you, “the Man” is fascinating, and i definitly want to him included as the story rolls along, but not because i think he’s “not that bad” or able to be redeemed, its because he’s been so well written and makes such a great villian. i can very easily see him as the puppetmaster behind all sorts of things, and at the same time, i can see him being the one to rip Mercy to shreds, not because he has a heart of gold where his daughter is concerned, but because Mercy could get in the way of his plans. i can’t really judge which character i find more despicable, once you get to a certain level of “just plain wrong” its hard to distinguish degrees of wrongness, and for me, Mercy’s breeding slaves rank right up there with Mack-daddy, they are like 1 and 1a. i’d love to see a battle royal between them, maybe with Callahan jumping in at the end to finish off whichever one survives.

            Current score: 0
        • drudge says:

          I’m going to say right now I don’t agree with The Man, he’s a lying, murdering, child molesting psychopath.

          Unfortunately, as he points out, plenty of others pull similar stunts with the law doing jack shit to stop them. He lies, cheats, kills, and molests over and over without remorse, but then if you remove one of those four you’d count a large portion of MU characters. As he points out, they’re either ignored or excused by the law due to not being a demon. Given a large portion of Harlowe griping is discrimination, it’s easy to see how someone could make the leap of logic and assume he’s in the same boat as everyone else.

          Granted, most of those characters I assumed were ALSO meant to be written as Skeezy assholes, but given most of them are more regular characters interpretations were bound to vary.

          Current score: 0
        • DKS says:

          The Man is one of the few characters in the story who is not only competent but also takes initiative. This makes him attractive to read about, because he’s always trying to make something big happen and has a reasonable prospect of ultimately doing so.

          By contrast, most of the student characters aren’t competent and most of the faculty characters are much less interested than The Man in actively intervening in Mack’s life.

          The Man is compelling reading for the same reason a movie murderer hiding the evidence is compelling to watch: he’s out to achieve something outrageous and it looks like he might pull it off.

          Unfortunately, finding a character exciting kind of slides in the brain into finding excuses for him, because our brains handle fiction in weird ways.

          If more characters in Tales of MU had such definite powers and agendas, The Man would get less special attention. But since most characters in MU are students (not competent) or adults without special ties to motivate having strong agendas for Mack, The Man stands out.

          (Yeah, a lot of characters would like to just kill or mindwipe Mack, but that would just end her story. The thing about The Man is his agenda holds the potential of doing crazy stuff to the story without ending it. That’s tantalizing as a reader — even though it arises out of how decadently vile he is as a personality.)

          Also, The Man is one of the few people openly pushing Mack to turn her demonblood into a positive, which on the surface jibes with any reader frustration with Mack’s pretend-it’ll-stop-mattering attitude toward her ancestry. (Not that Mack’s attitude isn’t natural, but her world doesn’t seem likely to cooperate.)

          Current score: 2
        • Elisabeth says:

          I don’t think he needs to be redeemed.

          Why? Because he’s a fucking demon. He’s the bane of mankind, the epitome of evil.

          I like my vampires Lestat, not Edward, and I like my demons demonic. While I think “redemption of a demon” would make an incredible story, it would really only work with a main character.

          Current score: 0
    • TJHairball says:

      He may *have wanted* to get rid of Mack. However, he may *also* want to give Mack a little present or thank-you note for handing him the key to a much bigger problem than the lawsuit.

      The Other Leighton might be right in that he wants Mack to play witness. It’s sometimes hard to know what is important from Embries’ perspective.

      Current score: 0
  15. Not her, the other girl says:

    AE – did you fiddle with the LJ setting? Because suddenly the whole story is showing up in my feed instead of just a bit of it. It’s not a big deal, but it’s eating up a lot of screen space (and I assume it would adversely affect your own page hits).

    Can’t wait to see what happens next! I wonder if Dee is still around?

    Current score: 0
    • Yes, I did, and yes, it will.

      It was necessary to get the content on Amazon. I suppose if it bothers people I could set up a second feed for Amazon and change the one that LJ knows about back, but I’ve had people ask for the full text in RSS for various reasons before so it might be sort of mixed.

      Of course, if there are two feeds everyone can be happy. I’ll put that on my to-do list.

      Anyway, I used to be really super concerned about the loss of page views I’d get if the full text is in the RSS, but it doesn’t seem like that big a deal at this point. Not many people read things in their feedreaders versus bookmarking websites, and ads aren’t so huge a percentage of my income that I couldn’t lose them entirely. When I re-did the page in parchment I almost axed them, but other serial creators asked me to keep them as they make for a good and cheap way to reach a large and receptive audience.

      Current score: 0
  16. barnowl says:

    I wonder if Law knows about Mursi and her breeding plans.

    Current score: 0
    • Kevin says:

      It’s Law’s job to know things like that. That is sort of the purpose of Intelligence Services.

      Current score: 1
    • drudge says:

      Art’s lines about a ” breeding population” and “stable mixed population”, along with the implication of recruitment, make me think he knows, but thinks the situation is under control in some way. Maybe they don’t think Mercy’d be able to actually do it(given her track record and the fact that she’s had her first pet for three centuries, this isn’t unfounded), maybe they’ve struck a deal of some sort(plenty of other targets to aim that kind of army at, not to mention the opportunities from getting a baby like that), maybe they think they could just paint a giant holy symbol an fuck up the lot of them if it’s an issue.

      Odds are they’re vastly underestimating her if they do know, they thought they needed Callahan to try to kill her to begin with, and Callahan has killed gods and repelled apocalyptic armies without retribution.

      Current score: 0
      • Jinzo says:

        I think it is incidental. Assuming that Law is not infact the type of police that is bound to rights and other technicalities (such as modern police are, where the police can KNOW somone did something, but have to let them go if it cant be proven). According to Mack (not always fully correct on things, I know) the Law is more of the secret police who will make people “disappear” if they are a threat to the stability of the realm, up to and including introducing and disposing of kings and dictators.

        If Law “knows” Mercy is up to breeding an army of half demons, she would have to be VERY crafty indeed to not be stomped. And in that BDSM club of hers she is public enough so I dont think she is that hidden (comparativly).

        Current score: 0
        • Burnsidhe says:

          Law is the dirty tricks squad. They’re the assassins, the spies, the MI 5, the CIA, the KGB. They’re the ones who, as Kent says, “shovel shit because it needs to be shoveled.” If Mercy needed to be “taken care of” and if Law had no further use for her, she’d probably get very dead very quickly.

          Current score: 0
        • drudge says:

          She’s a centuries elvish assassin with more than one old, if they don’t think she’ll survive or are getting something out of it, they’d probably turn a blind eye. They’re the “dirty tricks squad”, aiding someone unstable if it looks like they have something to gain would be perfectly characteristic of such a group.

          Current score: 0
      • jagroq says:

        I don’t think his comments have anything to do with Mercy. He is saying that there is no group of half-demons sizable enough to could maintain its own numbers (a breading population) or any area where groups of demons and humans live together (a mixed population).

        Its more than likely that LAW has a file on Mercy, (as has been pointed out she is a centuries old assassin this is someone to keep an eye one if only so you can find her when you want to hire her) but unless she becomes a threat to the Imperium they likely don’t care.

        And unless I’m mistaken Mercy only has 2 male half-demons at the moment. That’s hardly the makings of an army. Even if she somehow gets Mack and breads her non-stop, think about how many generations it would take to have even 1000 mature “solders”.

        Current score: 0
        • Kevin says:

          First as Mercy was part of Hydra Company which Law started they most definitely have a file on her. As for the amount of time it would take to breed an army she has a female half-demon as well and with the extremely slow aging rate of half-demons as well as the fact that they might never die of old age (that’s an assumption as most don’t live a century and are still young then) there is one trump card in Mercy’s hand: ELF she just has to wait patiently for her army.

          Current score: 1
  17. Zathras IX says:

    In Which No, The Man
    Didn’t Actually Say
    That. Check Again.
    (grin)

    Current score: 2
  18. 'Nym-o-maniac says:

    Nice cut text. He eats hearts, but the organs he needs to “live” are the ovaries? Looks like Mack Daddy’s almost definitely doing his very best to breed half-demons… I wonder what his game is.

    Current score: 0
  19. beappleby says:

    There’s a typo in the very first sentence:

    The fact that none of the other agents headed for the front door as Kent LEAD me outside left me more than a little uneasy.

    Should be “led”.

    Current score: 0
  20. p says:

    In the three years I’ve been reading this it has never gotten boring, (if someone tried to film or animate it I expect every commercial break would have a Dukes of Hazzard” cutaway) and the quality of writing has only ever improved. It’s a great story, fun and unique and I’m glad you’re still telling it.

    Current score: 0
  21. Raemon says:

    Loved this chapter. I actually like Kent quite a bit and hope to see him again.

    I’ve said before that I’d like to see occasional Flash Forwards to Mackenzie as an adult. Preferably as the actual canon-future (done in such a way that it actually raises more questions, i.e. Lost season 4) but I’d be almost as happy if we got a few alternate futures to be tantalized with. I’d personally be willing to pay $5 for a single “possible alternate future” short and $10 for a “definite future” short.

    If you went the former route, depending on how concrete your long term plans are, you could do another of those “vote with money” contests to determine which alternate future ends up coming to pass. I suspect you could find a way to do it without writing yourself into a bad corner, though I admit it’d be trick.y

    Current score: 1
    • That raises some intriguing possibilities. Thank you for the suggestions.

      Current score: 1
      • Burnsidhe says:

        I liked the way Strazynski handled it. A very short scene, little more than a flash; Most commonly with Londo and G’kar. Londo knew G’kar was going to kill him, always knew..

        But when the scene finally came up, it was nothing like any of the fans of the show could have guessed.

        Current score: 0
        • Burnsidhe says:

          Hm. Incomplete thoughts.. that was in reference to Babylon 5, for those who don’t know the show, and it was the context in which the scene occurred that completely changed the meaning.

          Current score: 0
          • Raemon says:

            Tee hee. What’d be really fun (for AE) would be to do five or so possible “flash forward” snippets, let us vote on which one we want to come to pass, and then have the eventual context completely ruin whatever we thought we were voting for.

            Current score: 1
        • Kevin says:

          If Strazynski were a mage his best spell would be contingency because when he did that scene he knew exactly what would happen in the scene that the viewers weren’t seeing and had about 12 different ways for the story to get there depending on which “unforeseeable” events took place. He is the Nostradamus of science fiction.

          Current score: 0
  22. Erm says:

    affiliate program

    And in this affiliate program, Mackenzie would be reporting to someone named Jillian, I hazard a guess?

    Current score: 0
    • Speight says:

      Seeing this phrase for a second time, and with less context, almost made me wonder what Law was doing in affiliate marketing. A cross between CIA and Amway…

      [elsewhere, a tiny typo: missing close-quote after ‘You guys didn’t have anything to do with it.’]

      Current score: 0
  23. David says:

    CONVERSATION CONFUSION:
    “I’ve met him,” he said. “I’ve met me. I knew what you meant as soon as you said it,

    (“I met me”???, I understand this phrase, but it doesn’t seem to fit into context real well. My understanding of using this phrase, usually represents skills/personalities that both parties may have used. It might have been more understandable if that part came before “he said”. If this is what you really meant to say.

    Example: I’ve met him, I’ve met me.” He said. “I knew…)
    =========
    Art Kent was a grade-a slimeball

    (I might capitalize it to “Grade-A” or “grade-A”)
    =========

    Current score: 0
    • beappleby says:

      I think he’s just saying that he is *aware* he is a slimeball.

      Current score: 1
  24. Fae says:

    I don’t read the comments/forums often, so I don’t know much about the debates over Mack Daddy, but I will say that I am glad you wrote him as you did, AE.
    I’m one of many who grew up being groomed, coddled and coerced in all the sweetest fashions by those who’s true intents with me were, well, sickening at best, now that I’m grown and know how the world works. It is actually kinda helpful to have a fictional character to identify with, and even to show others who demand to know why I didn’t fight for myself. People that think rape only counts if it is violent.
    And yes, I also enjoy reading him now because he brings an interesting dynamic to the story, but I will never think he is a good man. I’m still fucked up over what happened to me, more now than I was then. Anyone who thinks what he did isn’t wrong can feel free to talk to me.

    Thanks again, AE, for both the wonderful read, and for giving me even just one fictional person that knows where I’ve been.

    Current score: 0
    • Thank you for posting this.

      Current score: 0
      • Fae says:

        Thank you for writing this. I do wish I could fully convey what it means to me… I hope breaking my typical silence gives you at least a glimpse?

        On that note, if I can cast my vote for more backstory on Mack’s mom next time it comes up, I do enjoy reading those =)

        Current score: 0
  25. Jinzo says:

    If Mack was summoned just to be killed, well little could keep her from dying in the next 2-3 chapters.
    Embriss problebly wants her to do something for him, or just have a chat (if he picked up she wasnt affected by the aura of awe he projects, even though TV screens), possibly wants her to do something for him.

    Being at all among “things Embriss notices” is bad, if he has plans, it is worse and that is why Mack’s lawyer wanted her to skip town for a few days til Embriss forgets about it and amuses himself with something else.

    Current score: 0
    • The Dark Master says:

      Mack Daddy did warn her not to be alone in the same room as Embries, the outcome of her dying would be very likely in such a case. Remember that Embries likes to eat people (like demons) and Mack has an aura of temptation (that makes it very hard for things that eat people not to eat her).

      Fortunately for Mack, right now her aura of temptation is likely disabled by the potion of anti-fertility and Dee is probably still following her. I believe the under elf ambassadors are still at MU and Dee can probably contact them telepathically. Plus there is also the call to Mother Kheris in 2 hours.

      I don’t think that Mother Kheris has a problem with Mack per say, she said as much in her interview, it’s the behaviours in Amaranth that would be encouraged if she owns Mack. There is a possiblity that she might do something; like say, calling in a favor from a dragon/god slayer.

      Current score: 0
      • Kevin says:

        Mother Khaele not Kheris

        Current score: 0
        • The Dark Master says:

          Right thanks, I tend to have trouble with names.

          Current score: 0
      • jagroq says:

        Dee hiding in a dorm where she is supposed to be anyway is one thing, but I would find it unlikely that if Law has as many people on this as Mack thinks that someone doesn’t have the ability to spot a student with no actual training at being stealthy. Mack is likely on her own here.

        Current score: 0
  26. Nick says:

    I find it interesting pondering that The Man is not a good man, but may have a good cause (I suspect Demonic rights or liberation of some sort may be the purpose of his children in his plans). The entire thing reminds me of the prominent role of some pedophiles inside the very early stages of the movement for gay rights… yes, THEY were bad people, but the cause they supported was right. I can support his ends, without liking his conduct. Part of the problem here is that you wrote him SO SLICK, AE – I think his proponents were worked over almost in the way Mac’s mom had been. That people think like this means they missed it, but it also means the writing of the scene was really, really well done.

    Current score: 0
    • Fae says:

      The most effective, longest lasting pedophiles are those slick ones. Find a girl with a troubled life, make her feel like a princess, make her feel special. Make it out like you are doing her a favor, but also that she is the jewel of your life. Mack-daddy made Mack’s mom feel smart, important, special, he let her in on “grown up” secrets that she didn’t like being left out of… Make the girl want to be part of your world.

      It really was amazingly written, how slick he was. Not trying to speculate on such things, but it read like it was written by someone who’s been there, or at least seen it happen. I could easily (and did) replace Mack Daddy with The Man from my life. People cheering him, I guess, it reminds me of the people who saw him as my favorite, most adoring uncle. They see the good man, spending his valuable time with this girl, teaching her, making her feel special and worthwhile. It is easier to gleam over the reality of what really happened. As long as she is happy, it is okay, right?

      They don’t count on the lasting effects, or the innate sickness of it all. This is the problem both with the interpretation of fiction, and with reality, in my experience.

      Sorry for kind of hijacking this- but he really is really, perfectly well written for what he is. I think Nick is probably pretty spot on- even in regards to fiction people will be prone to human flaw.

      Current score: 0
      • Kevin says:

        I try not to psychoanalyze authors ever since I discovered that Steven King bases his most profoundly fucked up novels on life experiences.

        Current score: 1
        • Fae says:

          Is it better or worse to know that such things were not simply conjured by a twisted imagination?

          Current score: 1
          • Kevin says:

            Steven King wrote a novel about an alien parasite invading the earth and the entire thing was based on him breaking a leg in a car crash and thinking “Hmm, I should write about this.” Given the movie adaptations is one of my favorite King Films I might be a little biased but I like to think that greatness comes from being able to twist real world events to coincide with your imagination.

            Current score: 0
            • If I were any sort of writer… ah me. I remember one time looking at a bit of blood when I’d got a scratch and thinking ‘what if each human is a self contained universe’. The odd things that crop up.

              I met SK once. He’s awesome. He was roomies for a little while with my second cousin’s lifemate back in college. I wonder if he’ll ever write something inspired by the night they came back to a cabin while camping to find that all of the praying mantis cocoons that Troy had gathered for some reason had hatched while they were gone. The ceiling was literally crawling with them if I remember right from what I’d been told of that time. I think that would be interesting to know if he has, or ever does do.

              Current score: 1
    • Burnsidhe says:

      Yeah, except for one. Little. Thing. that people tend to overlook somehow.

      Demons are top predators that feed on sapient beings. And they don’t just feed, they torture, they seduce and then kill.

      Demons ARE evil. They have to be, to meet their needs and to survive in a world where everything is hostile to them.

      So “liberating” Demon-kind should not be the goal of any sane, sapient creature. We can empathize in an intellectual way, perhaps, but to actually root for him achieving his goals? Forget it.

      Current score: 0
      • Burnsidhe says:

        That said, obviously, half-demons are something else entirely. Not all of them *need* to kill to survive, and some assimilate quite well into society without being innately a user, manipulative and predatory.

        So while I can support Mack in her efforts to be accepted, I can only hope that whatever long term plans her father has, either for her or just in general, that they come to a crashing end. Assuming his plans for Mack are more than just “Survive, live, prosper according to how you want to live your own life.”

        Current score: 1
        • Nick says:

          I made a post at the end of the thread that addresses this a bit. What if his plans involve redeeming demonkind and breaking the curse on them that forces them to do such terrible things if they want to exist outside hell itself? Are there demons in hell who just accept eternity there without having done wrong? It’s suggested demons did not always need to feed on humans to exist on this plain. None of that excuses what he did to Laurel Ann, and likely has done to others. None of it makes him a good person. Just, terrible people have been known to do good things, or support a worthy cause.

          Current score: 0
      • drudge says:

        Demons don’t need to torture or seduce. Mack Daddy needs a virgin heart and nothing else, the child molestation and lies and mental invasion are things he did otherwise. You’re confusing the actions of one demon with what seems to be a specific plan going back centuries with the entire race as a whole.

        I sure as hell don’t want him to win or live through this, but saying that no efforts should be made to combat the problem with anything other than three feet of steel seems rather counterproductive.

        Current score: 0
        • Burnsidhe says:

          True, three feet of steel isn’t enough. It needs to be blessed, too.

          Current score: 0
        • The Dark Master says:

          Considering how much ‘need’ Mack felt when she came to MU, I think Mack Daddy would feel very unfulfilled if he didn’t seduce or derive some other form of pleasure.

          It is heavily suggested that he is some sort of demon of temptation after all.

          Current score: 0
  27. ylistra says:

    MackDaddy doesn’t feed on sapient beings as a whole. He feeds on a subset of humanity. There are lots of sapient beings (in MUverse) who would have no problem with Demon hoards being unleashed on the world. I believe in fact, the vast majority of sapient beings wouldn’t care, and more that a couple species would cheer them on.

    We only consider killing humans as evil because of our point of view as human and that we’ve historically had the power to enforce our moral contract on others.

    We call it murder.
    A Greater Dragon calls it a decent lunch.

    Current score: 1
  28. Miss Farrower says:

    Take this however you will, but I rather like the idea someone posted with regards to The Man possibly not needing to actually physically consume a virgin’s heart, but rather might be able to draw sustenance from a still living heart given willingly to him… It makes him even more of a monster, because he doesn’t need to kill at all, but chooses to anyway.

    Current score: 1
    • Nick says:

      It can get VERY twisted very fast when looking at that possibility. Does he choose to anyway? Or does he get virgin girls to fall in love with him, then go back to killing when he can’t resist taking them sexually any longer? Has he tried to keep a virgin in love with him but found that as they get older, they turn on him if he does not “be with” them, losing them personally AND unleashing his hunger both? Does he actually like them so much (in his own twisted predatory fashion, mind you) that loosing them at that point is worse than the life of other virgins? Just how creepy and twisted this can get has next to no limits, so I’m glad you mention it.

      Current score: 1
  29. Qalic says:

    ” ‘I’ve met him…I’ve met me.’ ” Kent is The Man! No not really, but that would be a sneaky way for The Man to visit Mack in person and give him a good cover to continue his own dirty tricks. On a related note I’ve been thinking that The Man tried to kill Mack’s mother as a target of opportunity. It seems like he and Granny Blaise are long term antagonists, without her realizing it. First time commenting though I’ve been reading for a few years now. Thanks for the story AE.

    Current score: 1
    • JS says:

      I did wonder about this…

      Current score: 0
    • Gorgonopsid says:

      I’ve generally figured that Mack’s mother was chosen for his little plot specifically because she was Blaise’s offspring.

      Current score: 1
  30. Kaila says:

    While I appreciate a character that everyone ‘loves to hate’ etc – Mack’s father – Redemption? Are you kidding?

    Some things you don’t fix – some things you END. Permanently. With blessed weapons. Just because it looks and talks like a person does not mean it is a person.

    Mack can’t necessarily help her ‘episodes’ – her father is the way he is deliberately. He is a subtle, cunning and utterly soulless malevolent force that screws with people for fun.

    I like that MU has the subterranean races as not necessarily evil(Dee = Win, dunno bout her stepmum) – but demons, I think, are truly monstrous in thought and deed.

    Current score: 1
    • bramble says:

      And even if demons, as a species, aren’t inherently monstrous, the Man is. His actions speak for themselves. For that matter, everyone keeps throwing around the “fact” that he needs such-and-such to survive, but really, he doesn’t. He needs virgin’s hearts to survive on this plane. As far as I remember, there’s no indication that demons in Hell need to feed on living humans, and as there are likely to be few living humans in Hell, it doesn’t seem particularly likely to me. That means that the Man isn’t performing distasteful acts necessary to his continued existence. He is willingly committing atrocities because he prefers to live on a plane that is inherently hostile to his presence.

      Current score: 0
      • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

        While I agree the Man is a complete bastard, to say the least, it’s been my understanding that “Hell” in this story is called that for a reason. I can understand wanting to get out of there, even if I obviously don’t like it that he kills people.

        Current score: 0
  31. Kitsune 9tails says:

    The Man is indeed a smooth criminal.

    I think one of the things that confuse some readers about him is the fact that despite being evil, he very well could mean nothing but good toward Mack. However, the recent revelation that he needs ovaries to ‘live’ rather than to survive throws that into doubt. Maybe he and Mercy are in bed together.

    Er, so to speak.

    In other news, Despite Mack’s deduction, I think it still makes more sense that she is being sent off to a secret meeting with Leda’s family than with Embries. A Royal family from the Shift could easily demand that Law secretly deliver Mack for questioning regarding her involvement with their princess’ murderer.

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      I don’t think that the Man’s goals and Mercy’s are compatible, in the long- or short-term. I mean, it’s hard to say exactly what the Man is planning, but he seems to want intelligent, functional kids/minions, possibly ones with some potential for the subtle arts, who are loyal or at least indebted to him but still capable of independent thought. Mercy, on the other hand, wants savage, mindless super-soldiers who are wholly dependent on her.

      Current score: 0
  32. alexander says:

    Interesting. So virgins blood, one way or another, is the full family’s predilection. I wonder if that’s inherited.

    And she figured it out! Clever girl!

    Current score: 0
  33. Beachcomber says:

    This absurdly poor perception of reality is simply typical of Mackenzie. Its no wonder she has trouble dealing with others without all that drama, or understanding herself. It further explains her piss-poor taste in many of her friends and romantic interests. But honestly, this is a whole new level of stupid.

    How the hell does she mistakenly identify a human-shaped dragon as any sort of cat, much less a proverbial one?

    Current score: 0
    • Burnsidhe says:

      … I sincerely hope you’re being facetious here.
      Because if not, you’re the one who’s misperceived things.

      Current score: 0
  34. Kaila says:

    You say clever girl, and I think raptors.

    Someone tell me I’m not the only one?

    Current score: 0
  35. Meg says:

    Hello! I wasn’t sure if this was intentional or not, but I just wanted to alert you that the rss feed is now showing the entire updated chapter (as opposed to the link to the page)… I know you have some ads on the site, and for all I know, that might lower the traffic hits you’re getting!

    Also, I just wanted to let you know that you are amazing at keeping this up for so long! I’ve been following MU for ages (though I never have anything interesting enough to say other than ‘thanks for writing it!’)

    I can’t wait to see what happens next!

    Current score: 0
    • moofable says:

      It was intentional, it had to be changed to use the feed for the kindle blog subscription thing.

      Current score: 0
  36. Nick says:

    Demons are evil slightly misses the mark to me, even if it’s accurate for the most part. They are MONSTERS. What it is they do is horrific, and raises questions of how terrible a thing a conscious entity capable of suffering would be willing to do if the alternative was being literally in hell. This is much more interesting. Are they more monstrous and evil than dragons? Taken over a lifetime, greater dragons likely have as much a body count as most demons.

    Also, the demons having to do horrific things to stay out of hell is a clever inversion. Humans do monstrous things to other humans, and they go TO hell. But if demons want OUT of hell, they must do such things.

    Also, I might be TOTALLY wrong about Mack Daddy’s plans involving demonic liberation. But even if they are, there comes the question of what scale are we talking about? It’s been rumored that before some event, demon-kind did not need to feed on humans to remain on this plain. Part-demons taking an active role in protecting their right to exist can and should be done… beyond that?

    But what of the demons in hell? Are there many who refuse to do what they would need to to escape? Are they eternally in HELL for no real reason, suffering because they refuse to hurt others to escape? We don’t know anything at all about such demons, should they exist. Do they really deserve to live like they do?

    The biggest question of all about demonic rights, can the event that banished them to hell be reversed? And what would it take to do so? If it could, nobody BUT a demon willing to commit the horrors needed to stay on the earth plain would have any interest in pushing for such a thing. But alone… no, they would need supporters, which would require functional, intelligent, well-off, part human children who already have rights under the law. Creatures like Mercy handles would be useless, counterproductive in fact.

    These are the things I think about in the situation anyway.

    Current score: 0
    • bramble says:

      Your thoughts are pretty close to my own on the subject, actually. The Man may well be attempting to build support for demonic rights on the mortal plane, but even if this is the case, he’s still evil despite the fact that he’s trying to better his race’s lot. He’s aiming for the (relatively) easy way out of their mess rather than the moral way, which would be to somehow improve their conditions in Hell. Atrocities willfully committed in an attempt to mitigate his own suffering or that of other demons are still atrocities willfully committed.

      Current score: 0
  37. Arakano says:

    On The Man being evil and yet POTENTIALLY having Mack’s interests at heart…

    well, even some of the sickest Nazis had an benevolent interest in their own children: they wanted them to prosper. However, they mostly wanted them to be racists and chauvinists like themselves, nevertheless, and, of course, them wanting the best for their children does not mean those children had no right to be repulsed by their fathers’/parents’ actions – so I really do not get how some people can be so insistent on Mack accepting his “help”. I mean, if this was a story about the child of a HUMAN mass murderer, showing up and offering his daughter advice and maybe money, would anyone object to the daughter being freaked out and not wanting him in her life? Just wondering… somehow, “demon charm” seems to blind some.

    Current score: 2
  38. Man, I figured it was Embries coming up, but I was not expecting Kent to reveal all that about Mack Daddy.

    Doubleplusawesome.

    Current score: 0
  39. Random annoying dude says:

    Seriously…? Guess you really dislike the man… -_-
    No I am not going to defend his actions…. yes he is killing humans, probably because out of necessity, yes he is a pedophile…. but I still like someone like that more than an ass of great dragon with aura of worship…. Hell I would even like it more to see Mercy beeing Macks “Owner” than her working with Embris…. I really hope she won`t -_-
    (And I fucking despise the concept of slavery)

    Current score: 0