KDR 2: Dan and Stan

on October 31, 2011 in Kin & Distant Relations


It was not yet five when Dan Harris set out to catch the air coach in the morning. It was too early for boldness, too early for cleverness… too early to do much more than put one foot in front of the other.

It was only early autumn, but already the lingering night air carried a bit of a chill. Even after years on the ground, the cold still took him by surprise. Airships had their own climates… a not unwelcome side effect of the heavy elemental manipulation it took to keep them flying.

He was more tired than he looked, and he felt more tired than he was. He had the deep-seated, down-in-the-bones weariness of someone who has put up with more than he can stand of something and who knows it’s going to get worse yet.

During the more tedious or trying moments of his life, he often thought back fondly on his childhood spent in transit back and forth between the isles and eastern Magisteria. Technically he was a native of that land, but he didn’t feel like it. He was more a child of the wind and the water… his earliest memories had been on a flying ship.

Life on the boats had been simpler. Well, it had been hideously complicated, but it had been invariably so. The complications never stopped, and there was rarely more than a moment’s pace or any room to stretch out and breathe. That made things simple. It was do or die, so you just… did.

And if you did the right things at the right time and everyone else did the same and none of a million and one things that had nothing to do with anyone in particular went wrong, you didn’t die.

Except when you did, which happened… but since there was nothing to do about it, it didn’t bear thinking about, either.

He’d lived, when others had died. He’d fallen out of that life and landed square in this one… fell out of the sky and ended up in a meadow, like some kind of backwards fairytale… complete with three wishes, a nobleman’s daughter, and later on a foundling babe of sorts.

The main difference between life and a story, though, was that where stories led you to an ending, life just kept piling on more beginnings… by the time you reached anything like a meaningful ending then it wasn’t a life anymore, by definition.

Dan wasn’t ready for his ending yet, but he could have done with a nice quiet intermission, or at least a chapter break… a quiet period of grace in which to enjoy the fruits of The Story Thus Far might have been nice.

Dan didn’t have a plan in mind, as such. He’d announced his intention to go to Augustinium to sort the matter out because… well, because something needed to be done, and going to the proconsular seat was something, or at least it was the start of something. He’d figure out the next step when he got there. The important thing was to keep moving. His own dad had said it to him often enough, when he’d been on the boats: If you can’t see a way forward from where you are standing, find somewhere else to stand.

The overland air coach actually came through Lefton twice a day, in each direction. He’d said he would take the morning one just to better satisfy the need for immediate action. It meant getting up but now he was glad that he had done so. It left open the slim possibility that he’d be able to return home the same day as he left, and anyway, the afternoon coach would be busier. The morning coach might have a few long-distance travelers who’d boarded it sometime the day before at various points north, but the afternoon coach was frequented by villagers heading towards the city for weekend visits and shopping.

The bulky, squarish vehicle had little in common with the nautically-inspired ones that Dan had grown up aboard and now worked with. It consisted of three separate long, wheeled carriages with two compartments each joined together like a wagon train. The interior dividers were a relic from an age when unchaperoned ladies had required a separate compartment, maintained during the age when it had been acceptable to smoke inside a public vehicle but also acceptable to not wish to breathe smoke. Bulky luggage and small cargo shipments were lashed to the top of each carriage. There was a platform with a high railing around the outside of each compartment, and they were tethered together by walkways in flexible enclosures.

When the flying coach flew, it traveled fairly low to the ground, about fifty to sixty feet up. By following natural magical pathways… sometimes augmented or straightened through applied geomancy… it avoided the need for the complicated array of levitators and elemental regulators that a true airship needed. It had wheels for traversing terrain where such assisted flight was not possible, which included bridges over moving water of any appreciable width. It also landed on specially maintained roadways as it approached towns where it had a stop. The landings were fairly routine, but if something went bad it was better that it went bad outside an inhabited area.

Dan didn’t like the flying coaches. He knew that they were more stable and more reliable than airships, for certain values thereof, but that wasn’t the same thing as being trustworthy.

If something was reliable, you could rely on it. That was sensible.

If something was trustworthy, you trusted it. That wasn’t.

Dan didn’t trust anything that flew. He loved everything that flew, but he didn’t trust a one of them.

People trusted the coaches, though… and that included the people charged with manufacturing, maintaining them, and operating them. There wasn’t even a crew on the coach, just like there was no staff at the platform… he’d purchased his fare from a golem-in-a-box. He thought of this as a somewhat mixed blessing. So long as the operators were going to abdicate their most basic responsibilities, it was probably better that they didn’t stick around to get in his way.

Not that he could really do more than a quick spot-check of its flight spells and the basic safety features. He didn’t have the time or equipment to do a full investigation, and he couldn’t even go as far as he would have liked to with his bare hands without attracting suspicion.

He did what he could, though. Everything seemed to be in order…

If things went bad, he’d be okay, of course. He could possibly could make things better for other folks, if they were in his compartment. Given the chance, though, he would take an empty compartment… and he had two such chances now. The first compartment on the front carriage was empty, and so was the rear of the middle one. It looked like folks in the other compartment of the middle carriage were up and about inside it, so he took the foremost compartment… there were people in the one behind it, but few signs of life. He picked a seat and settled into it just as a soft chime sounded.

The doors closed and the carriages started rolling. They gained speed slowly, and were still moving at a rather sedate pace when they began to pull away from the ground. Dan settled in for the long journey ahead of him.

He’d be in the city well before noon, but traveling anywhere more than an hour away seemed like a long journey to him, a fact that amused his wife to no end. He’d never thought of the long transit over the ocean as traveling, though… the ship moved passengers and cargo, but the crew always stayed in one place.

At their average air speed, the coaches could have made the journey to the capital in not much over an hour, but they were constantly landing and taking off. The next point on the coach line south of Lefton was a tiny little spot on the map called The Hermitage. It was a discretionary stop, which meant that if no one had purchased a fare the coach would roll right through. Dan had made the early-morning trip to Augustinium enough times before to be surprised when this failed to happen.

Curious, he cast a glance out across the platform. There were three men there wearing heavy travel cloaks… the perfect thing for heavy travel, but also for concealing one’s identity, intentions, or weapon.

They stood well away from the lights, though that didn’t stop Dan from picking out details. The one with salt-and-pepper hair looked like a thinker. He seemed to be giving instructions to the other two, who were both big guys. Being a wiry half-demon, Dan knew well that a fellow’s size was not necessarily an indication of his strength. He did not, however, make the mistake of thinking this meant that a big tough-looking guy might not in fact actually be quite strong, or that he might have been picked for a hands-on sort of job based on more than his size alone.

It was a little bit early in the morning for nonchalant, but Dan gave it some effort anyway. If these gentlemen wanted to take him off the coach, he’d let them, but the discussion that would follow would be on his terms. There was a certain broad range of duly appointed imperial authority that Dan recognized. If they happened to fall within it, they’d find him reasonably cooperative. If not… well, some things could not be planned for.

If they weren’t with the government at all, of course, that would make things easier all around.

The very easiest scenario would be the one where the three people trying to remain inconspicuous while waiting for the coach at a little-used stop just wanted to get on it for reasons that had nothing to do with Dan. He wasn’t setting the probability of that at zero, exactly, but as it didn’t require any action from him he didn’t waste any time considering it. Especially when the coach doors opened and the pepper-headed one headed towards Dan’s compartment at the front of the forward carriage while the other two headed for the adjoining compartment.

Well, well… looks like someone’s looking for a private conversation, Dan thought. The heavies would be nearby if things went south, and could also make sure they weren’t interrupted.

Dan briefly considered tipping his hat over his eyes and pretending to be asleep… not so much to lull anyone into a false sense of anything, but more to make things just that more difficult. He decided he’d been a little too obvious about looking out the window for that to work.

Instead he said, “It’s sad,” by way of a greeting as the man with the salt-and-pepper hair stepped into the compartment.

“I beg your pardon?” Pepperhead said, freezing mid-stride, just inside the door.

“When friends fall out,” Dan said. “It’s sad.”

“I’m afraid I don’t follow you,” he replied, settling somewhat uneasily onto the bench across from Dan.

No, that would be your bloke in Lefton, Dan thought. He was either following me or watching the coach stop, waiting and watching for this opportunity. Whoever he is, he’s very good or I would have noticed him. Better than standard government issue, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not government… just not standard. Bad sign either way.

He didn’t say any of that, though.

“Your friends,” Dan said. “They’ve gone and snubbed you.”

“I believe those gentlemen wished to sleep,” he said. “They’re merchants of some kind, traveling south on business.”

“Did they sell you that cloak?” Dan asked.

“It’s a common enough style, in the north. We shared a good laugh about it while waiting for the coach.”

“Oh, yes. Similar-looking garments are hilarious, that’s a fact,” Dan said. “What line are you in, then?”

“Education. Are you headed to Augustinium?”

The coach started moving again. Dan weighed his response carefully. He wasn’t exactly at a loss for words, no… there were a dozen and a half decent responses to a question like that. But it was early, and he was tired, and he had a deep suspicion that this man was part of what he was tired of.

In any case, the coach lines on this island all headed for Augustinium, so it cost him nothing to admit it.

“Yes,” he said simply.

“You fly often?”

“Often enough.”

“Where to?”

“Up, in the main,” Dan said. “Sometimes down, but not nearly as often. Well, not quite as often. Right now up has a slight lead.”

“I see. You work at the airshipworks, don’t you?”

Dan looked at his hands.

“Oh, dear… I’ve got a bit of hull under my nails again, don’t I? You scrub and you scrub, but you can never really leave it behind,” he said. “Do you know, just last week I came home with an anchor in my boots…”

“I just wondered if it was satisfying work.”

“According to my last three quality assurance exams, it’s at least satisfactory.”

“Mr. Harris… perhaps I should be plain.”

“That would make for a nice change,” Dan said, still scrutinizing his nails. They were all trimmed short and carefully filed square, except the one on his smallest finger which he’d not only allowed to protrude slightly past the tip of his finger, but very subtly sharpened.

“Don’t you ever wish you were doing something… more?”

“I’m putting in a double shift on Tuesday next,” Dan said.

“I’m not talking about your work at the Airworks, though you certainly could be doing more than that.”

“Couldn’t,” Dan said. “The wife has her society meeting Tuesdays, or else I couldn’t do it then, either.”

“I mean you could be doing something greater,” Pepperhead said. “Something more.”

“Have you come to offer me a job?” Dan asked.

“Wouldn’t need to. You know there are jobs waiting for you if you want them. No, I’ve come to talk to you about the future.”

Dan stood up… slowly, carefully. He walked to the front of the carriage and looked out the big picture window at the world painted in early morning gray, with tinges of gold just appearing on the left.

“The future,” he said. “I’ve never understood why everyone’s in a rush to get there. Seems to me that the present is where the action is. Now the past, the past has some history. But what’s the future got going for it? No one can even say.”

“Some people say the future belongs to our children.”

Dan turned around… still moving slowly. Through the rear window of his compartment, he could see the two guards doing a mediocre job of looking like they weren’t watching.

“Mr. Harris…”.

“Mr. Harris was my dad’s name,” he said, putting on his most charming smile. “Call me Dan.”

“Thank you… and you may call me Stanley. Dan, you aren’t interested in enriching yourself or in piling up any more imperial honors, that much is and always has been clear. But you have a son, and it is specifically his future I want to speak to you about.”

Still moving with a carefully practiced, non-threatening slowness, Dan strolled back towards the man. He took care to turn his body slightly so that the rear window had a good view as he reached up behind his back and untied the cord that held the eagle feather pendant around his neck.

“Here, I think you should probably put this on,” he said, holding the feather charm out to the man.

“And why is that?”

“Because we’re a good fifty feet away from the ground,” Dan said. “That’s not far enough for you to feel safe from me, but if you start running as soon as you touch down it’ll make for a decent start.”

“Mr. Harris, that wouldn’t be a very prudent…”

“I told you, it’s Dan. Mr. Harris would have already dropped you twice without a second thought.”

“Give it a first thought,” Stanley said. “I am not threatening Aidan in any way…”

“You know his name,” Dan said. “I don’t know who you are. You tell me how that’s not a threat. You were waiting for me to get into an empty carriage so you could talk to me somewhere alone. You have two armed”—this was a guess but not exactly what one would call a long shot—” guards watching us. You tell me me how that’s not a threat. I’m an easy-going sort of a person, you know. Approachable. People tell me this. Or they tell me every little thing that’s on their mind, which amounts to the same thing. If you had a good enough reason to talk to me, you could have just talked to me.”

“Believe me or don’t, but we actually went through this trouble so you’d be at your ease. The idea was to catch… sorry, poor choice of word… find you when you were away from your family, strike up a casual conversation… we didn’t expect you to be so on your guard at a quarter past five in the morning.”

“Yeah? My guard is never down,” Dan said. He put the eagle charm back on. He might have actually thrown the man from the carriage, but he’d waited too long… the window had now passed where it would remain a credible threat. “That’s what it’s like being a demonblood in a human world, friend. You smile, you mug, you put on a friendly face… you let people see that you’re harmless, but you never let down your guard. You never stop watching. You spend half your time making sure your feet aren’t landing anywhere they shouldn’t and the other half watching for the kicks.”

“So what do you suppose it must be like, being a dragonblood?” Stanley asked.

“Do you know anything about that?”

“Not firsthand,” Stanley admitted. “But I have… resources. How much experience do you and your wife have raising one?”

“About the same as we do with a quarter-demon one, or a fully human one, or a fifty-seventh elven one,” Dan said. “We’re learning by doing, the same as we would in any other case.”

“Surely you can’t pretend that raising young Aidan is going to pose no greater challenge than any other child.”

“It depends on the other child, doesn’t it?” Dan said. He sat down. “But in any case, we’ve set out to raise a son, not to make comparisons. It doesn’t matter how hard or easy it is, measured against some imaginary average. He’s ours to raise, and all those other children are someone else’s blessings.”

“Spoken like a true parent,” Stanley said.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“I meant it as one. But still, there’s nothing wrong with accepting a little help, is there? Nobody truly goes it alone when it comes to child-rearing.”

“You said you worked in education,” Dan said.

“It was the truth. Mr…. Dan, I represent the Middlestone Institute.”

“Never heard of it.”

“We are pretty good at not being heard of,” Stanley said, with more than a touch of pride. “The Institute is a school, with a particular focus on youngsters who have certain ranges of abilities that can be beneficial if appropriately harnessed, but may pose a danger if not.”

“‘Appropriately harnessed?’ Sounds a bit like a private military academy,” Dan said.

“I assure you, Middlestone has no affiliation with the government, formally or otherwise,” Stanley said.

“Yeah, that would be the ‘private’ bit,” Dan said. “And the name… if there isn’t a Lord Middlestone somewhere backing all this, I’ll eat my left foot.”

“I’ll get you the salt. We’re largely a self-sustaining enterprise. Oh, we do get some outside funding from various sources, but there’s no one in the military, the aristocracy, or the clergy holding our purse-strings.”

“Where’s the money come from, then?” Dan asked.

“Well, there is the matter of tuition. But I have the idea that you can afford it. We are also often generously remembered by Middlestone graduates, who often go on to achieve rather high stations in life.”

“And yet none of these loftily-perched individuals are stationed in the army, the government, or the temple?”

“Of course they are,” Stanley said. “I told you those institutions have no influence on Middletone, but you see, the reverse is not true. We do have old Middlestone boys influencing them. They’re our family, and family looks after itself. If your son were to join our family, that influence would become available on his behalf. Words could be whispered in such a way that your reason for this trip would become redundant.”

“You mean to tell me that you have the necessary pull to go and speak to the ministry boys about modifying the terms of our little Aidan’s monitoring, such as altering the frequency of their little visits?”

“Oh, you make it sound so much more impressive than it actually is,” Stanley said. “Dan, you’re dealing with a small branch office staffed by low-level bureaucrats who are allowed to operate with some discretion, within their parameters. It’s not such a big thing for someone sufficiently well-placed to have a quiet word with one of them and…”

“…suggest they up the ante on us to put me in a position where I’ll accept your help?” Dan said. His voice was light, though he was carefully watching Stanley’s face. He saw a moment… a bare moment… of bristling umbrage at the suggestion, which was then swallowed up by a flicker of doubt.

So our Stanley’s an errand boy, not a taskmaster, Dan noted. He believes in what he’s doing. Likes to think of himself as an honorable man engaged in an honorable enterprise, but he doesn’t know whether them at the top share his convictions.

“Always on your guard,” Stanley said.

“Always,” Dan said.

“Dan, when you and your wife see what Middlestone can offer Aidan, you’ll understand that we don’t need to trick or trap you,” Stanley said.

“Which isn’t the same as saying that you wouldn’t,” Dan said. “If you’ve got so much to offer, why aren’t you offering? Why aren’t you laying your cards down on the table? You come at me with this cloak-and-dagger business…”

“That’s not fair.”

“Oh, right. I’m sure they’ve got something better than daggers under their cloaks,” Dan said. “You couldn’t have sent us a brochure?”

“We don’t work that way,” Stanley said. “We’ve always taken the one-on-one, face-to-face approach to recruitment. We’re particular enough in who we take that this works… anyway, would you have really trusted a mailing?”

“If I didn’t see it casing my mailslot while two big packages stood watch, I would have trusted it far enough to give it a fair hearing and maybe investigate its claims at my own leisure,” Dan said.

“Well, that wouldn’t do,” Stanley said. “There isn’t anything to investigate. You wouldn’t find any clippings about us, and Middlestone can’t just be found… you have to be shown where it is. That’s the other reason for the one-on-one.”

“One-on-one is usually an antidote for one size fits all,” Dan said. “If you want our consideration, then you’ll send us your pitch through the post. I want details, facts, testimonials, pictures…”

“We don’t circulate pictures of…”

“They won’t be circulating,” Dan said. “It’ll be a straight line, from you to me, and I swear to you that no one outside my household will see them.”

“Even if, for whatever reason, you decide that our school is not right for your child?”

“Stanley, you have my word,” Dan said. “Even if I end up exposing your organization and destroying your school brick by brick, I won’t use those pictures to do so.”

“It’s an amusing display of hubris that you think that’s possible.”

“It’s amusing that you use the word ‘hubris’ when describing your own perceived invulnerability,” Dan said. “Those testimonials I mentioned? I want to hear from at least three of your former graduates I’d recognize the name or face or title of, who would be damaged by any intimation of untoward outside influence, and who you’d be hurt by the loss of.”

“Mr. Harris, are you asking me to send you blackmail material?”

“Are you asking me to send you my son? A short while ago, you were dead sure that if only we saw your school we’d be begging you to help educate our son. And I’m certain we’d be meeting other Middlestoners in the natural course of things anyway. So what’s the harm in giving us an early peek at some inside information… unless you’re worried that I’ll be given cause to use it?”

“You realize, of course, that I’m not in a position to agree to anything.”

“Of course,” Dan said as the train of carriages began to glide downward again. “And I don’t really need to hear a yes or a no to anything. Either you’ll send us the information we’ll need to make our own minds up in our own time and in our own way, or I will give the matter no further thought. One of these two things will happen.” He stood up and pulled the cord to signal an impending departure. “And while we’re on the subject of ‘things that will happen’, you and your associates will be getting off either at the next stop, or else shortly after. The one-time offer of a featherfall charm will not be repeated or extended.”

“There is no need for threats.”

“You don’t come to me in the dead of morning wrapped up in a cloak and then tell me what there is or isn’t a need for,” Dan said. “I go to a pub after work, some nights… you could have come to me then. Not that I wouldn’t have made you the second you walked in the door, but I have an easier time not putting inverted commas around a ‘friendly chat’ when it’s done in friendly circumstances.”

“Well, I can see that I’ve made a bad job of our first meeting,” Stanley said. “So I apologize for that, and I think we will be leaving you alone for the time being. I’ll do you the kindness of letting our recruitment office know that you were a bit more enthusiastic about your son’s prospects while insisting on getting everything in writing… I’d hate to think that our doors might be closed to your son because someone thought you were less than serious about our overtures.”

“Don’t go doing me any favors.”

“Mr. Harris, someday you will know what a big favor I’ve done for you already.”

“Stanley, I’m going to give you a piece of advice, and I want you to listen to me, really listen, because one day your life may depend upon it,” Dan said.

“What is that, Mr. Harris?”

“Mind the gap,” Dan said, as the doors opened with a soft chime.


Tales of MU is now on Patreon! Help keep the story going!

Or if you particularly enjoyed this chapter, leave a tip!


Characters: ,





43 Responses to “KDR 2: Dan and Stan”

  1. Tomo says:

    OOK!

    It’s really nice to see what a badass Dan is. Also, just a refresher for me, but Dan is Mack’s step-brother, right?

    Current score: 1
    • Kevin Brown says:

      Yes, yes he is.

      Current score: 0
      • Jennifer says:

        Not step-brother, full brother out right. Albeit he was adopted by another, but they are full siblings.

        Current score: 3
        • Helen Rees says:

          It has always been known that while you can generally point out your mother, you can never say with 100% certainty who your father is. Not when there are evil twins in the multiverse.

          Mackdaddy’s evil twin… mmmm, there’s a thought.

          Current score: 0
          • zeel says:

            He is evil, he might have a GOOD twin, but evil twin just wouldn’t make sense. . . right?

            Current score: 0
            • Rin says:

              Eviler twin? If that is even possible.

              Current score: 0
            • Abeo says:

              It is only possible if you don’t have facial hair. If you do, then you are the eviler twin.

              Current score: 0
            • TheTurnipKing says:

              More likely one is Chaotic, and one is Lawful.

              Current score: 0
            • Erm says:

              So Mackdaddy would be the devil, and the other the demon?

              From his constant bargaining, I get the sense he’s Lawful Evil.

              Current score: 0
            • JS says:

              That’s an interesting thought (Lawful Evil). In mental health we call that “boundary pushing”, but I’m going to bring that in to work today and discuss its relevance or lack thereof.

              Current score: 0
            • sapphite says:

              Let us know how it goes!

              Current score: 0
        • zeel says:

          Correct, it seems odd to think that, but it true. Dan is the first child Mackenzie’s mother had, a child she was forced to give up. A child fathered by the same demon Mackenzie was.

          Current score: 0
  2. Lili says:

    Come not between the Demon-Blood and his Child, adopted not withstanding…

    Current score: 0
  3. Oni says:

    I had come on here to go “what, no Halloween entry?” I leave satisfied.

    Now, time to go see Steve-O in London.

    Current score: 0
  4. Time Kitten says:

    I couldn’t help but think “Torchwood” as Middlestone was described.

    Current score: 0
    • Helen Rees says:

      Mm – I was thinking more of Invisible Girl Academy from Buffy.

      Current score: 1
      • sapphite says:

        Where was that from?

        Current score: 0
        • Stonefoot says:

          Season 1, Episode 11: Out of Mind, Out of Sight
          Marcie Ross, who was socially invisible, becomes literally invisible… and a bit psycho. At the end (after Buffy stops her, of course) some government guys show up and take her away – to a school for VERY secret agents.

          Current score: 1
    • Rethic says:

      I was thinking x-men for sure, but torchwood sounds better now, in retrospect.

      Current score: 1
  5. N'ville says:

    Error report, the word “Could” used twice, it needs only one, funnily enough either would convey the same meaning.

    “If things went bad, he’d be okay, of course. He could possibly could make things better for other folks,”

    A nice quip at the end, “Mind the gap” Enough to bring a smile here anyway.

    Current score: 0
  6. JiBB says:

    “[…] a quiet period of grace in which to enjoy” is a sentence missing an end. Otherwise, nice chapter. “Mind the gap,” heh.

    Current score: 0
  7. MistyCat says:

    “It meant getting up but now he was glad that he had done so.”

    Should there perhaps be an “early” in there?

    Current score: 0
  8. Slippedhalo says:

    Love this chapter..dont fuck with Dan! 😀
    Yeah, I thought Torchwood too…

    Current score: 0
    • ripvw says:

      Torchwood? I thought Hogwarts.

      Current score: 0
      • Christy says:

        I thought X-Men. I mean, really, secret school for special people/beings? Screams X-Men.

        Current score: 1
  9. Zathras IX says:

    It’s good that Dan knows
    That Stanley’s an errand boy
    Not a taskmaster

    Current score: 1
  10. Greenwood Goat says:

    Hmmm. It would be interesting to know whether Aderick Lythander has knowledge or an opinion of the Middlestone Institute. Or indeed, whether he is in any condition to have an opinion about anything at this point…

    If Sir Stanley and the organisation he represents are on the level, it would be interesting to see their selection criteria. Obviously, mere half-demons don’t make the grade. Their alumni roll would make interesting reading too.

    At this point my thoughts turn, of course, to Callahan, and whether she has ever been to Middlestone and how many died as a result.

    Current score: 1
  11. V says:

    AE, your gift for “I’m going to tell you off in the most brilliant, polite, and savage way possible” is clearly still firing on all cylinders. Or floating on all levitators, or whatever.

    Current score: 1
  12. Helen Rees says:

    typo alert

    I told you those institutions have no influence on Middletone, but you see, the reverse is not true.

    Middlestone?

    Current score: 0
  13. Barnowl says:

    He’s his father’s son.

    Current score: 0
  14. Brenda says:

    Geez, you could cut that tension with a knife.

    Current score: 0
  15. anon y mouse says:

    “It meant getting up but now he was glad that he had done so.” – ‘getting up early,’ I think.

    “If something was trustworthy, you trusted it. That wasn’t.” – This wasn’t, maybe?

    “People trusted the coaches, though… and that included the people charged with manufacturing, maintaining them, and operating them.” – for consistency, ‘manufacturing them, maintaining them, and operating them’ or ‘manufacturing, maintaining, and operating them’, not necessarily wrong, but I think one or the other might sound better than the current configuration.

    “He could possibly could make things better for other folks, if they were in his compartment.” – ‘could possibly’ probably, or ‘possibly could’ maybe.

    “but more to make things just that more difficult” – that much more difficult?

    “fifty-seventh elven one” – it wouldn’t be that easy to come by that literally, but that may not be the point, so it may not be a mistake; but, 1/64th would be easier to come by, if you wanted to change it.

    “but he doesn’t know whether them at the top share his convictions.” – maybe those at the top, but since it’s thought-speech, perhaps not.

    Current score: 0
  16. OhPun says:

    rarely more than a moment’s pace

    Did you mean “a moment’s peace”? because on an airship there really could be not more than a moment’s pace.

    I love this chapter. Stanley did so many things wrong, the first of which was pretending that they were casual strangers. It just went downhill from there.

    Current score: 0
  17. dashel says:

    Evil twin, worse twin is what your looking for.

    Current score: 0
  18. TearsTheWingsOffAngels says:

    “If you can’t see a way forward from where you are standing, find somewhere else to stand.” – Love that! Is that a quote, or did you come up with that yourself? Either way, this was a great chapter in the continuing saga of Dan etc. ^__^

    Current score: 1
  19. Fae says:

    Mind the Gap <3

    Current score: 0
  20. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    Two of the three I spotted have been reported, though obviously not yet corrected. That leaves the third.

    You have two armed”—this was a guess but not exactly what one would call a long shot—” guards watching us.

    The space between the opening quotes and “guards” doesn’t belong and in fact makes the quotes curl the wrong way. Spaces on either side of the — marks wouldn’t go amiss either. In any case, mind the gap.

    Current score: 0
  21. Don says:

    I think I might love Dan even more than Callahan

    Current score: 1
  22. Am I the only one who finds Dan to be incredibly annoying? I’m not so sure trying to get people to think “no-one this obnoxious could possibly be dangerous” is a viable strategy.

    Current score: 0
    • Anthony says:

      You’re not. Dan’s horribly obnoxious. He’s essentially the Mary Sue Amaranth wishes she could be.

      Current score: 0
      • Mickey Phoenix says:

        I’m afraid I don’t agree. I think Dan was actually quite reasonable, under the circumstances. Remember, Stanley started out the whole interaction by lying to him, and then brought “children” into the discussion in a way that was, at least arguably, an implicit threat.

        I think Dan was quite calm and measured, in context.

        Current score: 0
  23. anna says:

    So, was the Eleventh Doctor homage at the end intentional, or unconscious, or is there a common source of the “one day your life may depend on it” structure?

    Current score: 0
  24. Khazidhea says:

    “and there was rarely more than a moment’s pace [/peace]”

    Current score: 0