KDR 1: My Way Or The Sky Way

on October 1, 2011 in Kin & Distant Relations


“Something funny’s come up in number 3, Danny.”

The words seemed to come at Dan Harris from a long ways away, but when he shook himself out of the reverie he’d lapsed into he found the eager, earnest face of one of his diviners uncomfortably close to his own.

“Thanks, Willis, I’ll have a look, then,” Dan said, taking a careful step back, mindful of the railing. A fall from the catwalk might not hurt him, even from three levels up inside the massive, warehouse-like hangar of Lefton Imperial Airworks… unless he happened to land on something particularly hard or pointy and sufficiently magical to overcome his natural invulnerability, and there were certainly plenty of things like that around.

“Everything alright, chief?” Willis asked him.

“What? Oh, well, we’ll know soon enough, I expect,” he said.

“It’s only you’ve got that far-off look in your eyes again.”

“Comes from growing up at sky,” Dan said, clapping him gently on the shoulder. “You get used to seeing hundreds of miles at a go, makes it hard to get used to regular distances.”

“Er, right,” Willis said. “Oh, and about number 3: Don’t take her up before you’ve felt her out… I’ve an inkling she might need grounding.”

“Oh?”

“I’ve a feeling she might need a complete tear-down before we let her out again.”

“Right,” Dan said. “Excuse me, will you, Willis? I’ve only just now recalled a meeting I’m urgently needed at.”

He left Willis and headed for the nearest stairs leading up towards the box-like office in the center of the immense shed. He hesitated for just a moment before opening the door, without knocking.

“That door was locked,” Martindale, the hangar manager, said.

“Still is!” Dan said. “Only the bolt’s sort of sheered clean off a little bit… you might want to have a man in. I’d suggest getting a magic one next time. Much more durable.”

“It was magic,” Martindale said.

“Cheap enchantments… not very stable. You get them right and they last forever, but one little thing goes wrong and they could just poof away at any time,” Dan said. “On that subject: there’s something off about the skyff in bay 3. I think we need to take apart the whole array… levitator, stabilizers, elemental flow regulators… before we release her. I’ve a funny little feeling there’s something badly wrong with her.”

“All that trouble for a feeling? Harris, it’s a glorified lifeboat,” Martindale said.

“Right, so let’s make sure she’s in tip-top condition before she’s entrusted with any glorified lives.”

“It doesn’t even need propulsion or lift, it just has to reach the ground.”

“Well, I can just about guarantee she’ll do that, sir, but she has a full levitator suite in her and she’s rated as a self-propelled craft, so we can’t give her a pass just because she might fall somewhat slower than the next leading brand of dead weight, right?”

“But if everything else on the ship works right, it’ll never be needed.”

“And if anything else on the ship fails, the boats need to work right,” Dan said. “You ever seen what happens when a lifeboat fails?”

“No.”

“Neither have I. I’ve seen what happens when they work, though. It’s worth glorification.”

“And proof that they’re generally reliable.”

“Sailors don’t climb aboard generalities, sir. Otherwise we’d have to inspect them, too. And this is not a simple driftboat, so there’s a lot more that can go wrong.”

“It’s just a regulatory inspection, Harris. We schedule five of them in an hour for a vehicle that class.”

“That’s how long it takes to clear a boat her size with no problems,” Dan said. “If there is a problem, diagnosing and fixing it takes longer… if she weren’t one of ours, we could just flunk her and free up the bay for something else. Thet owners would take her to the shop of their choice to get her sorted, and that would be it…”

“But it is an imperial skyff,” Martindale said. “Which means it doesn’t leave until we sign off on it.”

“Begging your pardon for a trivial correction, but I think you’ll find that the words are unless and I, as in ‘she doesn’t leave unless I sign off on her’.”

“You aren’t the only enchanter here rated for that.”

“And I wish you all the luck in the world in finding one who’ll sign over me.”

Martindale stared at him. It was meant to be a hard stare, but hardness is relative.

“Did one of the lads put you up to this?” the supervisor asked after the pause had gone on long enough for him to feel awkward. “They think they can’t come to me themselves, you know. They think I’m some kind of orc.”

“No one would say that of you,” Dan said. “We all like Kurzg far too much for that..”

“They think I’ll just dismiss their complaints out of hand.”

“You’ll have to excuse them for being observant,” Dan said. “But no, I’m here on my own agency… as a matter of fact, it’s Willis who drew the inspection and he came to me ready to recommend we give her full marks.”

“Willis, eh?”

“Yes, sir,” Dan said. “One of the diviners.”

“He’s the Argenti, isn’t he?”

“No, you’ll probably thinking of Barton, but it’s an easy mistake to make seeing as they have all different letters in their names,” Dan said. “Willis says I’ve gone off my potions, that there’s nothing wrong with the skyff. In fact, he was all set to tear her down just to prove me wrong but he said he couldn’t justify holding the bay any longer on my say-so.”

“And he’s quite right on all accounts,” Martindale said. “Well, you tell Willis I said to have it moved to one of the interior bays, and then he can do a full tear-down inspection. And Harris, if he doesn’t find something to back up your funny little feeling, your name’s going on the report.”

“Fair enough,” Dan said. “Though fair being fair, I expect to get credit if he does find something.”

Martindale snorted.

“I should reward you for being difficult and having a lucky guess?” Martindale said. “If Willis finds something, I’ll see he gets due credit. I’ll take a steady head and a skeptical eye over an elevated sense of self-importance any day. You take a lot of liberties, Harris, but don’t forget that it’s luck that landed you where you are today. Pure luck.”

“True enough,” Dan said. “If the wind had been southerly, I might be married to a washerwoman.”

“You wound up a hero of the empire, but you could have just as easily become an albatross,” Martindale said. “The man in charge of making sure the whole thing stays rightside-up and in one piece survives when it all goes belly-up and explodes? It’s like a captain not going down with his ship.”

“Captain McAllister was carried to his launch by three of his officers,” Dan said. “He broke two arms, one of them his.”

“The way I hear it, his sons have a nurse following him around to make sure he doesn’t slip and fall on his sword,” Martindale said.

“Gentlemen of leisure often have odd hobbies,” Dan said. “Were I one, I’d collect them and keep them over the mantle. Hobbies, not gentlemen.”

“You’ll be one someday, won’t you? Just have to outlive the old man. You’ve said your Dell is his only daughter.”

“The way he tells it, his Dell is my only wife,” Dan said. “And she is both, but alas for my deep-seated aristocratic ambitions, Lord Robert has sons, many of them past any age the prospective Lady Ardellia would admit to being.”

“The point is that McAllister ended up a pariah while you married a nobleman’s daughter.”

“It’s not my fault. The man was a tax collector when I met him. Still, no one can help their birth, eh?”

“It could have gone the other way for you,” Martindale said. “The same set-up, the same what d’you call it… scenario… only you wind up the scapegoat. My experience is it’s not the happenstance, it’s the handling. Someone decided to make a hero out of you instead of hanging the wreckage on you.”

“And vice-versa, no doubt,” Dan said.

“It could have gone either way, is my point,” Martindale said. “Could have… and still could. The public is a fickle beast, Harris. It wouldn’t be popular or… politically wise… for me to sack a hero of the empire, but if people were to start thinking about the crash in terms of your safety record instead of your miraculous survival I’m not sure the public or the politicians would stand to have you fiddling around with airships on the imperial coin. Careless whispers, Harris. A few careless whispers in the wrong place is all it would take. And I do know a few people in the wrong places.”

The easy grin slid off Dan Harris’s face, and for a moment Martindale thought that he’d finally won. He’d never seen the younger man being serious in his presence… in fact, that was one of the things he didn’t like about him. After a few moments of stony silence, though, Martindale was finding that he preferred the impertinence.

“Honestly, I don’t know what surprises me more,” Dan said finally. “The fact that you put this together or that you imagine I haven’t. But there’s a little detail you’re missing in your attempt to paint me a picture.”

“What exactly is that?”

Dan leaned over Martindale’s desk, bringing his face in low and close.

“Somebody thinks I’m useful,” he said. “Don’t know what for, don’t know when, don’t expect to like it… but when you talk about political wisdom, you should bear in mind where the horse stands in relation to the cart. The powers that be wouldn’t move to protect me because I’m a hero. I’m a hero because they moved to protect me. Now, if you want to guess that you have an angel that flies higher than my angel… be my guest, and the best of luck to you, because if you’re wrong, I wouldn’t want to trade places with you.”

He straightened up.

“I’ll just show myself out, then,” he said, heading for the door. “I’ll just tell Willis the news, and then send someone around to see to your lock.”


Much later, that night.

Dan Harris stepped out of the pub at the same time as Willis and the top half of Chester Darrow, one of the Airworks’ smiths. The latter gentleman had an arm around each of his friends, though his feet and legs trailed slightly behind them.

“Don’t see why he can’t carry my whiskey any more,” he said.

“Oh, it’s not the fashion any more, Darrow my chum,” Dan said. “No one wants the plain stuff. It’s all artisanal these days. Seven-grain whiskey. Organic. Free-range.”

“That’s right!” Darrow said. “Dead right. Take that… that… new stuff out of St. Duthain… it costs more, and for what?”

“Well… it does go down a bit smoother,” Willis said. “In my opinion.”

“Exactly,” Dan said. “It doesn’t even varnish your insides. Why pay so much for a drink if you can’t go peel paint with your breath afterwards? I suspect a conspiracy by a consortium of the manufacturers of sandpaper and turpentine. They’re the ones who benefit in all this.”

“S’right,” the tall man said. “It’s exactly… hold on, Harris, you wouldn’t be taking the piss out of me, would you?”

“Not all of it, Darrow. I promise I haven’t the time for that… I’ll be getting in late enough as things stand, once we’ve seen you home.”

“I’m serious, though,” Darrow said. “What’s so special about this new stuff that he had to switch?”

“Well, for one thing it’s B-B-G-O-B,” he said.

“B-B-G-O-B?” Willis and Darrow both repeated, though Darrow did so a bit more slowly and with perhaps a few more Bs than were strictly integral to the exercise.

“Booze, By Grace of Bob,” Dan said. At the blank and bleary look that Darrow gave him, he said, “It has the ‘Imperial Appointment’ label on it. It means the distillery services the emperor.”

“Where’s this Bob come into it, then?” Darrow asked.

“Bob. You know… B-O-B,” Dan said. “Bag O’ Bones.”

“You call the Unnameable Emperor… that?” Willis said, horrified.

“Well, who else would I call… that?’ Dan asked. “Doesn’t fit anyone else I know, does it? Granted, we are all somewhat bag-like and full of bones… in fact, come to think of it, he’s sort of missing the bag, isn’t he? But I can’t call him ‘Ob’. It’d be disrespectful.”

“You can’t call him Bob, either!” Willis said.

“What? People say worse every day,” he said.

“It’s sedition!”

“Sedition, abstraction… I never had a head for maths,” Dan said. “At least I’m being affectionate-like about it. Anyway, it’s not as though you’d run off and tell a praetor, is it?”

“You don’t know that!”

“Well, would you?”

“Of course not,” Willis said. “But… supposing I would?”

“You just told me you wouldn’t,” Dan said. “Are you calling yourself a liar? That puts me in a very uncomfortable position, because on the one hand, I won’t stand to have one of my crew insulted. But on the other hand, I only have your word to go on here and I’m not at all sure that you’re a reliable witness.”

“Alright, so I wouldn’t,” Willis said, “but supposing for one minute that I was somebody else?”

“Then you’d either be standing on Willis, or more likely you’d be somewhere else entirely and unlikely to hear.”

“No, but… hang on,” Darrow said, suddenly seeming to catch up to the thrust of the conversation. “You know his majesty has… had… has a big family. Some of them imperial types take their stations all serious. What would you say if you was making jokes like that in front of me and it turned out that I was one of his relatives?”

“Well, then,” Dan said, “Bob’s your uncle, isn’t he?”

Willis sputtered out a laugh, then immediately looked guilty.

“I don’t get it,” Darrow said.

“That’s okay,” Dan said. “All art is ephemeral.”

“Can we please just get him home before we run into an imperial informer?” Willis said.

“Good thinking, that,” Dan said. “It would be awkward if we ran into one first. We might get arrested for smuggling liquor.”


“Any problem shaking down that boat?” Dan asked Willis, after Mr. Darrow had been deposited into the care of Mrs. Darrow.

“Not a one,” Willis said. “There was a flawed crystal in the power bank. She would have held together fine under normal conditions, but as soon as someone really opened her up… boom. The worst part is that it was a natural inclusion, not a crack or stress fissure. It was bad from the word go. I don’t know how it ever passed quality control to begin with.”

“The same way the boat would have passed inspection,” Dan said. “The world is full of Martindales.”

“I thought he would be furious when I told him… I was all relunctant to, but he seemed unusually sympathetic. He told me he knew I’d done my best and offered me a cigar.”

“Well, Martindale gets some funny ideas from time to time,” Dan said. “Which usually takes him by surprise. It’s like creatures from a foreign plane invading his brain.”

“What is?”

“Ideas.”

“He thinks you’re bucking for his job.”

“He thinks a lot of things,” Dan said. “Intermittently.”

“Maybe you should be.”

“You wouldn’t want that, Willis,” Dan said. “I do fine with my crew, but I’d be a bad boss.”

“Bad’s better than terrible, isn’t it?”

“Sure, Martindale’s a terrible boss, but that’s not actually his fault. He’s a terrible boss because he’s an excellent carpenter.”

“Carpenters make bad bosses?”

“No, they make furniture and things,” Dan said. “And they serve as passable carpenters, except for the good ones, who serve as good ones. Martindale was one of the best, which is why someone got the idea to put him in charge of the shop. He knew how to do everything the company needed carpenters to do, he knew where everything went and how everything worked, so someone thought he’d be good at supervising other people doing that.”

“How’d that work out?”

“Well enough apparently, because he got bumped up a few more times,” Dan said. “This was before my time… charitably, I’d guess he was a decent enough bloke when he was on the floor but that when they took him away from what he knew and shoveled a pile of responsibility on top of him he fell back on bluster and general puffed-up-edness. From a distance, that looks a bit like someone who knows what he’s doing and gets results. So they moved him up again, further from anything he had half a clue about, and he got even more blustery. Put someone like me in his place and I’d probably be every bit the martinet he is, given a few years time.”

“What’s a martinet?”

“It’s a very small weasel,” Dan said. “The point is that he was a craftsman, just like us. He probably had real pride in what he did, once. If you pull a fish out of the water, you can’t blame it for flopping around and gasping, can you?”

“I suppose not,” Willis said. “I never thought of it that way.”

“Of course, in this case instead of dying a terrifying and painful death, the fish gets a big house in the countryside, an unwarranted and artificial yet wholly satisfying sense of satisfaction, and seven times your pay.”

Seven?”

“Don’t say that too loudly, Willis, it’s a violation to discuss confidential matters of compensation. As your superior, I won’t stand for it.”

“Sorry, Danny.”

“See? I’m only in charge of a single crew and it’s already going to my head.”

“If all this was before your time, how do you know so much about it?”

“Well, I like to pull things apart and see how they work,” Dan said. “A company’s a thing. So’s a person. Though, that’s not to say I’ve ever pulled a person apart to see how he worked, or for any other reason… the point is I was curious. I like to know how things fit together. When I saw a Martindale-shaped piece slotted in a hole he didn’t seem to fit, I wanted to know how he got there. This is you, isn’t it?”

Dan gestured at the coach stop.

“So it is,” Willis said. “See you next week, chief.”

“See you.”


Dell Harris was waiting for him at the door when he opened it. She stood there impassively, and for a moment he thought she was going to be angry… real anger would be unusual, but frustration would be normal on this of all days.

“I hope you’re going to ask me what sort of a time I think it is,” he said, somewhat contritely. “I have a response prepared.”

“I expect you do,” she said, stepping back and letting him into the house.

“Everything go off alright? Or well as can be expected? The gentlemen from the ministry behave themselves? ”

“They were… right gentlemen,” Dell said. “I still don’t like them coming in here, waving wands over our boy.”

“Well, they have a right to,” Dan said. “And if they don’t, they will anyway, because that’s what ‘government’ means. It’s a small enough intrusion…”

“Small enough for you to run off every time it comes up.”

“That was our agreement,” Dan said. “I’m willing to revisit the issue. Anyway, I’m not sure how much good it does… I had my own inspection anyway.”

“They came to your work?”

“No,” Dan said. “I was being shadowed in the pub, and then watched on the way home.”

“Are you sure?”

“Sure enough,” Dan said. There was a mad spark in his eyes, the kind that Dell loved to see except for when she didn’t.

“Oh, Danny… you didn’t…”

“Didn’t what, love?” he said

“Didn’t… say anything… ill-considered?”

“No, I considered long and hard before I said anything,” he said. “You know me.”

“Aye, I know you plan your lines in advance,” she said. “You shouldn’t test the emperor’s men, my love.”

“If they want to do anything about it, they have to admit they were following me and explain why,” Dan said.

“No, they don’t!” Dell said. “It’s like you said, that’s what government means.”

“Well, at the very least they’ll give away for certain that they were.”

“But you said you were sure.”

“True, but it’s nice to have confirmation,” Dan said. “Anyway, were there any surprises on your end?”

They say the aura is fading,” Dell said. “They don’t know what it means, or what to do about it.”

“Is that all? Well, I expect we can…”

“I’ve taken care of it,” Dell said.

“Are you sure?”

“A mother knows her son,” Dell said. “Trust me on that. But they want to use it as an excuse to up the schedule. Every month instead of every three months.”

“So, we’ll let them come back next month and see that it’s fixed,” Dan said. “And then…”

“And then they’ll come back a month after that to make sure!” Dell said. “Don’t you see? It’s just an excuse. It’s their opening, and once they’ve got their foot in the door…”

“What if I’m there?” Dan said. “They might be less apt to argue if I…”

“You mean they’ll be more apt to listen to you,” Dell said.

“Only because they’ll be getting something they want,” Dan said. “It’s close access to me they’re digging around after, not my font of husbandly wisdom. Remember that.”

“I know that, but… Danny… it’s not just that.”

“They’re old-fashioned men with old-fashioned ideas. Out of step with time. Bureaucratic wizards. How else could they be?”

“Don’t tell me it’s not their fault, Danny, don’t you dare tell me that.”

“Of course it’s their fault,” he said. “I’m just saying, the whole world isn’t like that. Anyway, we’ll be firm and clear about it, that we’re not putting up with this for more than a month.”

“I don’t want to put up with it for even one month,” Dell said.

“Then I’ll go down to the ministry tomorrow and make them understand.”

“Tomorrow? It’s seventy miles! You’d have to…”

“I’ll be on the air coach first thing in the morning,” he said. “That’s how they’ll know I’m serious.”

“Danny, you’ve never set foot in an imperial office when you didn’t have to…”

“Well, I have to now, don’t I?” he said. “My wife’s unhappy, my son’s life is being disturbed, I’m being followed… I don’t see that I have another choice.”

He wasn’t sure what reaction, if any, he expected from her, but he definitely wasn’t expecting her to burst into tears.

“Did I… was that wrong?” he said.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ve just been… keeping it all inside me, all day. The nerve of it all! I just can’t stand the idea that those… those… goons think they can just come into our lives whenever they want, start poking around and interfering with what’s ours…”

“Well, now, I expect you know how your neighbors felt growing up, then.”

“Don’t you start with the corvir jokes!” she said. “In the first place, my father is no goon and you know that. In the second place, we didn’t have a choice. These men went into the ministry. He was born a taxman. In the third place… if you think our neighbors hesitated to tell me exactly how they felt about my father and his duty, you’re attributing far too much delicacy to a bunch of old drunken farmers!”

“Dell?” he said very gently and quietly.

What?”

“Sometimes I get the taps for ‘clever’ and ‘stupid’ confused,” he said. “I’m sorry.”

She visibly relaxed, though she was a few seconds composing herself.

“You’re alright,” she said. “It’s been a bad day, and like I said… I’ve been keeping it inside. I know why you stay away, but I wish you’d been home earlier.”

“I had a bit of a situation at work,” he said. “Which didn’t keep me late, but led to a bit of a situation at the pub.” He held up a hand. “I swear, it really couldn’t be avoided. I’ve my own goons to deal with, and my own things that stay buttoned-up inside me.”

“Oh, you don’t have to explain further,” she said. “I was glad enough to start working from home, once we got little Aidan. On my worst days here I miss my best days at the office, but the tantrums I deal with here are mostly age-appropriate.”

“I still can’t believe you named him that.”

“It’s a darling name,” she said. “You would have called him Aderick Fulton.”

“Or Fulton Aderick,” Dan said. “I wasn’t particular, if you recall. But fathers are important. They could do with some honoring.”

“That’s why he’s named after his,” she said. “Anyway, I didn’t want to give him a Pax name. I don’t want him thinking of himself as Metric.”

“‘Aderick’ would have taken care of that nicely, I would think.”

“‘Aidan’ is a lovely name. More to the point, it’s his.”

“That’s the thing I like best about it.”

“You don’t really have to go to the city tomorrow.”

“I do, unless you’d rather I were here.”

“I’d rather they’d b… buzz off and leave us alone,” she said.

“Then it seems I do have to go to the city tomorrow.”


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41 Responses to “KDR 1: My Way Or The Sky Way”

  1. 'Nym-o-maniac says:

    I really like this family. Dan’s sense of humor is especially <3.

    Current score: 1
  2. AmyAmethyst says:

    “make sure she’s in tip-tp condition”

    Should that be “tip-top”?

    Current score: 0
  3. Kaila says:

    He really can’t help himself, can he? So sharp he’s going to cut himself one day.

    Current score: 1
  4. carson says:

    “The fhat you put this together or that you imagine I haven’t.” fact that.

    Enjoyed this. Thank you!

    Current score: 0
    • E says:

      another: “run off zand tell a praetor”

      Current score: 0
      • pseudoname says:

        slurring drunkness?

        Current score: 0
        • Luke Licens says:

          In case no one else has said anything:

          “I’d guess he was a decent enough bloke when he was on the floor but *that* when they took him away from what he knew…”

          May or may not be an actual typo, but it parses funny to me. I would say it either needs a ‘that’ after ‘guess’, or no ‘thats’ at all.

          Current score: 0
  5. Zathras IX says:

    A hero of the
    Empire could as easily
    Be an albatross

    Current score: 1
  6. Helen Rees says:

    typo relunctant – unless he’s that drunk…

    Current score: 0
  7. Kevin Brown says:

    So… he referred to the emperor as “Bag O’ Bones” whilst knowing he was being shadowed. Just to provoke a response? Apparently Dan Harris is a lot more dangerous than anyone thinks he is.

    Current score: 1
  8. Abeo says:

    At first I thought he was throwing Willis under the bus. Then I thought he was just fucking with his boss. Then I realized he was looking out for his crew. Then I realized the latter two aren’t mutually exclusive.

    Current score: 2
    • arsenic says:

      ^This. I actually went back to make sure that I read what Willis originally said correctly, and was like “ohhh… that makes sense…”

      Current score: 0
      • Brenda says:

        I had to read it several times and I was still not sure I had it right…

        Current score: 0
  9. Davorien says:

    Make Dan Harris a MAIN CHARACTER!!

    Or at least get more of that brand of wordsmith humour out and about, its brilliant.

    Current score: 2
  10. Zukira Phaera says:

    The exchange with his boss shows that Dan can think like his biological father without being ashamed of who he is.

    Current score: 0
    • pseudoname says:

      probably never met the guy, doubt he knows hes like that

      Current score: 0
      • Zukira Phaera says:

        True, but he does know he, himself, is part demon since he clearly isn’t a starving half demon.

        Current score: 0
        • pseudoname says:

          yeah, he obviously figured out he needs virgin blood(in a past story, (not related to the sentence i’m typing but maybe the food they need is genetic, father apparently needs virgin hearts from magesterian file in yet another mu page(then again i think another one had mercy say she got a pet from an orphanage that had a group of half demons from a single demon rampage somewhere and the halfdemons all had different food requirements and those with less easily met needs had to be killed before she got there))) but does he know his father does the manipulative wordgames thing? that thinking isn’t exclusively demonic and it sounds like several others of that race tend more to brute force taking stuff or intimidation or bribery.,,they just don’t get to stay topside as long as sneaky.

          Current score: 0
          • Zukira Phaera says:

            There has been some debate as to parentage influencing dietary needs, though of course not confirmed. One of Mercy’s pets eats eyes whereas Bohd’s demonic ancestry leads her to needing blonde human hair but far less frequent feedings (approximately ever 2 months as she’s 1/16th demon) than a half demon needs because the degree of separation from her demon relative is greater.

            Some of the same debate includes natures, that the more astute and ‘tricky dicky’ (Oh dear, I’m comparing ‘the man’ to Nixon now… oh dear oh dear) demons are apt to be the ones best known on the plane. General knowledge has that they (demons in general) are masters at nuance ie tricky wording of what they say. The way they use it manipulation, bribery, intimidation depends more on the target and less on the demon.

            Personally, I wouldn’t compare Mercy’s pets to Mack or Dan for signs of how most demons or half demons are. Or you could throw Bohd in the mix here too for comparison. Mercy’s pets have distinctly different behavior, most of it stemming from a. starvation fed insanity (from the orphanage) and b. Mercy encourages them to be vicious and beastly and c. They react to Mack the same way other predatory ‘monster’ races do. Mack smells like food – which is assumed to be a trait of female half demons. By comparison Mack, Dan and Bohd are all relatively well fed. For all that Martha was harsh as a guardian she did encourage Mack to ‘be good’ and while Mack still is somewhat socially repressed and unsure of herself she’s far from being a raging monster unless starving or under the influence of pitchy. Dan obviously is a well balanced young man, he was raised well, with understanding, and educated. Bohd we don’t know that great of history on but obviously she’s balanced.

            Now the thing that leaves me with the thought that wordplay is a general demon trait is that story of Heads or Tails (in OTs) is possibly about the Man, but it may be another demon with a similar M.O. – the thing is it is prefaced with being an -old- story that the origins of is in question, could have been brought over from the old republic even. If most tales of demons are like that one then it would be a logical tick on the ‘maybe I’ve gotten a little of my knack from inheritance’ list along with the not being damaged by anything non magical along with the dietary needs issues.

            I’m rambling (tired) but I guess to sum it all up.

            1. Dan knows that he has demon blood. He might not know how -much- but he knows it is in his background. (This is pretty obvious to me but I do read between the lines sometimes too much)

            2. There aren’t ‘types’ just different food needs for different demons. This is stressed in a few different chapters. It seems to be both common knowledge and yet not ‘general’ knowledge because demons are one of those things that are hush hush, unless one is being made a scapegoat or is making a spectacle of him or herself. It seems that the layman version of this concept is that only ‘fire’ demons can come to the MU prime plane, with the general population thinking that other ‘types’ can’t cross over but that other types must exist, not that ‘all’ demons have fire affinity.

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            • Zukira Phaera says:

              also, in the Q&A the man states that he needs ovaries, not human hearts.

              additional notes:

              I’ve the suspicion, that degree of demonic heritage influences the frequency of feeding factor for how often an individual needs to feed, along with factoring in how easy to obtain the food source may be or how renewable it potentially is.

              Examples:

              Mack (1/2) needs to feed approximately once a month, or in tune with her cycle.

              Bohd (1/16) needs to feed approximately once every 66 days.

              Mercy’s Puppies:
              Cassius (1/2) eyes. Frequency not stated in Q&A.
              Brutus (1/2) a liver at least every three months.
              LuluII (1/2) Mercy doesn’t know as of Q&A.
              (3) Unnamed females and Lulu(the first) (1/2) who didn’t survive mingling with Cassius and Brutus because of the female half demon prey scent.

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    • Bramble says:

      Haha, yes. It appears twisty corkscrew minds run in the family – just Mack’s got hers all turned in on itself so she thinks in circles and has trouble keeping on track, whereas Dan’s able to direct his outward and use it to run laps around everyone else. 🙂

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      • Zukira Phaera says:

        exactly – I wonder however how much of that stems from self confidence (Dan) vs lack thereof (Mack) or Martha’s influence when Mack was growing up. Being that I figure its a general demonic trait I’d wager that the minute Mack showed some tricky wordly play Martha cracked down on it and stomped as hard as she could to try to exterminate that demonic trait.

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  11. Month says:

    So THAT is why he cannot be used in Daemonic schemes. He is too much of a smartass. He would be a fine pair with Mac. I can see it in big flashing neon letters: The smart and the clueless.

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  12. Dave says:

    So the Peter Principle works in the MUniverse too. No surprise that.

    And AE, I do hope you couldn’t write like that all the time. A bit of Aidan’s clever dickery is great, but it would grate to get too much of it.

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  13. Anonamouse says:

    How do you come up with the wordplay? It’s pure genius.

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  14. R- says:

    “Comes from growing up at sky,”

    I assume there’s a missing word or two.

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    • Luke Licens says:

      I actually parsed that just like ‘growing up at sea’, seeing as he did grow up on airships.

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      • Brenda says:

        I got that too, but it took me a double take to get it!

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  15. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    “No, you’ll probably thinking of Barton,

    Should be “you’re”.

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  16. wocket says:

    …OH. I just got the “Farmer in the Dell” pun.

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  17. Asmora says:

    Dan = new favorite character. I found myself repeating what he’d said aloud, just to be sure I’d gotten my head around it. I can see where it’d be virtually impossible to write him as a main character if he was ON like that all the time, but if he moderated his cleverness and held the punchiest bits in reserve, I think it could work. Writing for him on a regular basis would probably make it come more easily, too.

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  18. anon y mouse says:

    “On that subject: there’s something off about the skyff in bay 3.” – just wondering if ‘skyff’ is correct, almost just assumed it was (second usage kind of confirms it).

    “Thet owners would take her to the shop of their choice to get her sorted, and that would be it…” – the owners?

    “We all like Kurzg far too much for that..” – do you want a period or an ellipse here?

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  19. Tigger says:

    This: Sedition, abstraction… I never had a head for maths

    That. Pure brilliance.

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  20. ASeriesOfWords says:

    Love it, so much. Actually reads a lot like how my husband writes.

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  21. siberian says:

    I seem to have lost track somewhere, is it the father or the son that is Mack’s half brother? i’m thinking its the father but i wasn’t sure and it really changes the story if its the son.

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  22. TearsTheWingsOffAngels says:

    Loved loved loved this story!

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  23. Arachia says:

    What it the opposite of back and also means something fake.

    “Only because they’ll be getting something they want,” Dan said. “It’s close access to me they’re digging around after, not my (((font))) of husbandly wisdom. Remember that.”

    just another typo alert being poked at with un sharpened words.

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  24. Arancaytar says:

    Sedition, abstraction… I never had a head for maths

    Aaargh, I finally got it.

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