Chapter 245: Up In The Air

on September 4, 2014 in Volume 2 Book 7: Courtly Manners, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Mackenzie Comes Down

If Amaranth hadn’t been out that evening, I would have broached the topic of the trip with her first, while we were alone. She wasn’t there when I woke up, either… but when she showed up for breakfast and I saw it was just the four of us… that is, myself, Amaranth, Ian, and Steff… I decided it would be as good a chance as any to tell them about Glory’s planned trip, and the invitation she’d extended me.

I started by cautioning them against telling anyone else, in particular Nicki or Grace, and then laid out the basic details.

“That’s really great, baby!” Amaranth said. “I’m happy you’ll be seeing something of the world outside the central provinces.”

“She’ll be seeing the inside of Glory’s cabin,” Steff said. “And by ‘cabin’… actually, I’m not sure what I mean. What are you guys up to now, anyway?”

“Hang on,” I said. “I said that she asked me. I didn’t say that I was going.”

“…I hope you’re not about to lay this on me,” Ian said. “Because, I mean, my feelings are probably going to be pretty mixed when I stop thinking ‘holy shit, that sounds awesome’… but… holy shit, that sounds awesome.”

“It’s not just your feelings,” I said, realizing in time that telling him I hadn’t been thinking about his feelings in particular wouldn’t have been the right thing, even if he hadn’t cared up to that point. “I told her that if it was anything but an air cruise, I probably would have said yes right away, but… I just couldn’t commit to something like this without thinking about it.”

“Why is an air cruise different, baby?” Amaranth asked.

“Apart from being awesome,” Ian said.

“Well, for one thing… those things are really unsafe,” I said.

“Air travel can be,” she said. “But cruise liners… they’re playgrounds for the rich. They keep it low, they keep it slow, they don’t push the envelope and they stay out of monster territory. You’re not going to be buzzing harpy nests.”

“I know, but… there’s still… I mean, it’s really high up, and it takes an unbelievable amount of magical power…”

“Where did this sudden fear of flying come from, baby?” Amaranth asked.

“It’s not sudden,” I said. “It’s just… it’s not something that comes up very often. I mean, when would it? Look, my grandfather was an airshipman. Practically the only non-religious texts my grandmother kept in the house were aviation related, and let me tell you, they didn’t provide much of a break from the usual prophecies of doom, in terms of fire and brimstone and rains of blood and sounds like thunder.”

“Rains of blood?” Ian said.

“…okay, I may be exaggerating a little,” I said. “But… light afternoon showers of body parts wouldn’t be far off the mark, in some of the worst historical disasters.”

“I haven’t read as much on this topic as you, or on any topic as Amy,” Steff said. “But I kind of think ‘worst’ and ‘historical’ are probably the operative words there,” Steff said. “If this is your big excuse for saying no, it’s pretty thin.”

“First of all, I haven’t said no. Second, it’s not an excuse,” I said. “I really mean it.”

“I’m sure you do,” Steff said. “Mack, honey… people mean their excuses all the time. I mean, sometimes someone will actually sit there and come up with a cover story for doing the thing they want to do anyway, but most people… they just do what they want, and are very relieved when reality finds a way for them to cover for their actual reason without them ever thinking about it.”

“Sure, that probably happens sometimes…” I said.

“Mack, I’m a bisexual transgender half-elf,” she said. “Trust me when I say that people do it all the time.”

“I think you might be ignoring the fact that you give people some pretty substantial reasons to be creeped out by you that have nothing to do with your race or sexuality or gender stuff,” Ian said. “Not the least of which is that you’re creepy.”

“Right?” Steff said. “Like the necro thing, you mean? Except if I didn’t do that, I’d still be kinky. And if I wasn’t kinky, I’d be aggressively queer. And if I wasn’t aggressively queer… I’d still be politely queer. If I pared myself down to a reserved, shy little trans chick who was still a half-elf but who never spoke out of turn and never suggested she had a sexuality except for maybe being passively available for people who are feeling generous and experimental… people would still find a way to hate on me, or a reason to be creeped out, or they would just be quietly uncomfortable with me and avoid me for no reason they’d ever bother to articulate or even think about. The fact that I’m so openly… everything that I am… well, it saves people the trouble.”

“Or maybe you just think that because it’s convenient for you to believe it,” Ian said.

“There are two problems with that theory,” Steff said.

“Only two?” Ian said.

“Just two worth mentioning,” Steff said. “The first is, I haven’t always been like this… I’m not always like this now, for various values of ‘like this’. Things changed the more out there I let myself get, but they didn’t necessarily get worse. Two,… I’m not the only bi girl or trans girl or even bi trans girl that I know. I watch ‘the good ones’ bend themselves into pretzels and jump through pretzel-shaped hoops that are set up for them, and if it gets them anything… any respect, any accord, any accommodation… that I don’t get, it is conditional as fuck , let me tell you.”

“I think you’re nuts,” Ian said.

“See? And that conveniently lets you dismiss what I’m saying,” Steff said. “That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about.”

“It’s not a perfect example,” Ian said. “I am considering what you are saying, and I am finding it lacking, and on that basis I find you nuts. I’m not… I’m not deciding you’re nuts and then dismissing what you’re saying.”

“Right,” Steff said. “You find what I have to say unpalatable, and so you dismiss it. But because you can’t just dismiss things out of hand without a better reason than that, you decide I’m nuts.”

“You know, I’ve never been sure why finding something unpalatable isn’t a good enough reason to dismiss it,” Ian said. “I mean, if I put something in front of you that you don’t like and tell you to eat it, are you just going to take it?”

“If you do?” Steff said. “I guess it would depend on how you say it… and maybe what you’re wearing. But anyway, I guess it makes a difference if we’re talking about unpalatability as a reason for sending a dish back to the kitchen, or a reason for removing it from the kitchen.”

“Isn’t this metaphor getting a little far afield of the point?” I said. “Though… now that I’ve said that, I’m kind of sorry for making this all about me. I mean, this is the first time it’s been all four of us and just the four of us together in a while, and I’m holding the floor again.”

“Well… you kind of are what the three of us have in common,” Steff said.

“Anyway, there is a comforting sort of regularity to it,” Ian said.

“And you really don’t mind that we’re talking about Glory?” I said to him. “About me, going off with her for like a week and a half? Because you’re taking this a lot better than I’d thought.”

“Well… I’ll be honest,” he said. “Now that we’re past the awesome, the next response coming up is jealousy, the angry type of jealousy.”

“You don’t show it at all,” I said, surprised.

“I’m surprised, because I feel it,” he said. “It’s like, why couldn’t you spend the holiday with me? But then I ask myself if I’d ever asked you to, or if it was something I even wanted before I found out that Glory had asked you.”

“For the record, I probably would have said yes if you’d asked me,” I said.

“I figured,” he said. “Just like I figured it would be a dick move of me to ask you now. So, I still feel the way that I feel, but I’m trying not to let it count for much.”

“You could always come back to campus a few days early, Ian,” Amaranth said. “My guess is that Mack will be returning before the break ends, and that would give you some private snuggle time.”

“I didn’t think to ask when we get back,” I said.

“Well, you can find out the next time you see her,” Amaranth said.”But I’ll bet I’m right… even if Glory can afford a longer cruise, I imagine she’d want some time to unwind on her own turf before classes resume…

“Right,” Steff said. “If she went directly from vacation mode to attending one class every other day, the shock would probably kill her.”

“Where would I stay?” Ian asked. “I know they keep some of the dorms open for international students and stuff like that, but I don’t know how to get in on that, or if it’s something that would be a viable option for someone just coming back three days early.”

“I could tell you about that,” I said. “It’s not just international students who don’t have anywhere to go for the break, usually… but anyway, Glory’s got a lot of extra rooms.”

“That’s not a bad thought, but I’d feel really weird asking her,” Ian said.

“You wouldn’t be asking her,” I said. “I’d be telling her… I mean, I’d be telling her that it’s a condition of me going on the trip. I’m not about to start handing out orders.”

“You think she’d go for that?” Ian asked. “Hosting me on her turf… hosting us there?”

“If she doesn’t, then I definitely don’t want to go on her trip,” I said. “Why should you be the only one who makes compromises?”

“…you really are trying,” he said. “I think it’s worth saying yes just for that.”

“Not for the prospect of an extra three or five days in my company with no school?” I asked.

“Well, that’s a very big yes in general, but I mean, balanced against the weirdness and possible discomfort of being in a dorm full of lesbian elves,” he said. “That’s not exactly my idea of a good time.”

“You must have had a very boring adolescence,” Steff said.

“I’m not an adolescent anymore,” Ian said. “One of the big differences being, I’ve met lesbians and so I know the difference between the things I thought would be exciting when I was twelve and actual living, breathing h… uh, people. Anyway, Mackenzie, I guess inviting me mean you’re done dragging your feet? Or is this still all hypothetical?”

“I’m not dragging my feet,” I said. “This just isn’t the kind of thing you can just say yes to on the spot.”

“Isn’t it?” Ian said. “If someone invited me on a big expensive vacation, I’d have to hate them kind of a lot to not want to go on it. I mean, this is still just a casual thing, right? It’s not like she’s asked you to sign a contract… or did she? Because if she did, I want to change my answer right now.”

“I don’t think there needs to be a contract for this to be a big deal,” Amaranth said. “Vacationing together sounds like a big step to me.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” I said. “She actually made it pretty clear to me that she sees this as an explicit choice between… well, between being more than her associate, and just going back to the way things were. If I say yes, then we’re off on a romantic getaway together…”

“Just you and her and a couple dozen of her closest friends,” Steff said.

“Okay, but we’d be in a state room or cabin or whatever alone together,” I said. “My point is that whatever I pick, it is going to change things.”

“Baby,” Amaranth said. “I don’t want to sound like a mother hen, but…”

“There wasn’t a contract!” I said. “And did you all miss the part where I said that I haven’t said yes? Being deliberate and taking my time? Responsibly? Even if there was a contract… which there isn’t… I wouldn’t have signed it yet.”

“I’m completely on your side here, Mack, and I totally did notice that,” Steff said. “But I also notice that you just said ‘yet’.”

“I just meant that I haven’t made up my mind one way or the other here, in non-hypothetical reality, where I’m not being asked to make any kind of binding commitment,” I said. “Although… well, actually, that’s the other thing I wanted to bring up. I still do have my existing commitments, and one of them is kind of looking after Glory’s affairs… so the other side of this is that if I say yes, then it’s on me to find someone to play custodian of Oberrad House while we’re all away, since I won’t be around to look after it. I was thinking that you might like to do that.”

“Me?” Steff said.

“Yeah,” I said.

“When you say custodian… do you mean, like, keeper… or more like janitor?” Steff asked.

“I think as long as it’s in no worse shape than they left it, you’ll be okay,” I said. “I mean, you’ll have to clean up after yourself, but mostly I think Glory just doesn’t want it standing empty.”

“Blessed season to me, I guess,” Steff said.

“I thought you’d be happier about that,” I said. “I mean, you’ve been looking for an in with Glory.”

“Yeah, and this isn’t my idea of an in,” Steff said. “Sure, I’ll be literally inside of Oberrad House… while Glory and everyone else, including you, are away, having fun and doing cruise-y things.”

“I think it would be a little hard to get you onto the cruise at this point,” I said. “I’m only getting in because Glory’s personal accommodations are underbooked. I’m not sure any of her retainers have extra berths.”

“Yeah, and I actually wouldn’t want my introduction into the group to be me taking up their space,” Steff said. “Or being confined to a small area for a week or more with them. I’m not trying to snag an invitation, Mack… I mean, I kind of wouldn’t even expect you to have the pull to get me one. I just… I mean, there’s a lot of unexplored middle ground between ‘trapped on a boat with’ and ‘in an empty building a million miles away from’, you know?”

“Okay, I see what you’re saying,” I said. “But still… it’s a position of trust. And we’ll be coming back before the semester begins.”

“So you want me to give up most of my holiday break on the hope that when Glory comes back, she won’t just take the keys from me and show me the door,” Steff said.

“Steff, Glory’s… if she says yes to this, she’s not going to turn around and kick you out the first chance she gets,” I said.

“So, you don’t know for sure that she’d say yes, then,” Steff said.

“That is a thing you can take from that, yes,” I said. “I didn’t want to run this by her without knowing that it was actually something you’d want to do, because I didn’t think it would go over real well for your future prospects if I asked her and then you backed out. And also, I wasn’t planning on running anything by her until I’m sure it’s going to be necessary… basically, I didn’t want to get anybody’s hopes up about anything.”

“Well… okay, it’s not honestly like I had a bunch of big holiday plans anyway,” she said. “So I’ll say yes… but only if you get this figured out here and now, and then go tell Glory. I don’t want to sit here for days wondering if I’m even going to be needed, much less if Glory will accept me. I can’t deal with that.”

“I really don’t know if I can do that,” I said.

“I’m not saying you have to,” Steff said. “I’m just saying if you can’t, then… you’ll have to find someone else. It’s not like I’m the only one who’s qualified to occupy space and not set things on fire. Fuck, it’s not even like I’m the best person qualified for that.”

“If you don’t want to, you don’t have to, either way,” I said. “It’s not going to be your only way in, I just… it would give me a chance to sort of lay the groundwork.”

“It’s not that I don’t want to,” Steff said. “I just want to know if it’s happening or not, before I let myself want it… I don’t want to get all invested in a stupid fantasy if it’s a stupid fantasy, okay?”

“Can I ask a question, baby?” Amaranth asked.

“Of course,” I said.

“You said that you’d have said yes in a heartbeat if it was anything else,” Amaranth said.

“Yeah,” I said. “And I would have.”

“But… would you?” Amaranth asked. “I mean, it’s easy to say that now, since it isn’t something else…”

“That’s kind of what I was getting at with the whole ‘excuse’ thing,” Steff said.

“Look, unless we can find a scrying portal to the parallel dimension where Glory invited me to a spa getaway, I think you’re going to have to take my word for it, okay?” I said. “While I do have a history of circling around my feelings when it comes to Glory…”

I stopped, and blinked. Suddenly, it seemed so obvious.

“…yes, baby?” Amaranth prompted.

“Sorry,” I said. “I was just… hearing myself. Yeah, you guys are right. I don’t think I ever in my life thought one way or the other about air cruises before this, any more than I considered whether I would visit another plane of existence or the other side of the world…”

“Does that mean you’re in?” Steff asked.

“…surprisingly, no, it doesn’t,” I said. “I mean, not in a bolt of inspiration coming down from… wherever… kind of way. But… fuck it. Why not? I haven’t been off this campus for more than an overnight trip in more than a year. I’ve never flown. When else am I going to have this chance? And even if it means stepping things up with Glory… well, I can always step back if I don’t like how things are going. Or down.”

“So… you are in?” Steff said.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m in.”

“Cool,” she said. “Then so am I.”

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33 Responses to “Chapter 245: Up In The Air”

  1. Order of Chaos says:

    Good to see Mack finish over thinking things, I have the same flaw.
    So is Ian in or out? This (both meeting Glory and her analysing his outlook) could be just what he need to get over himself.
    And yes I’m still an Ian fan but I agree he has his flaws.

    Current score: 2
    • Nocker says:

      He’s basically abstained if I’m reading this right. He knows he’s not unbaised and he’s obviously realizing some of his flaws here, so he’s just gonna keep as quiet as possible.

      For what it’s worth though, he’s not wrong here. Steff IS really creepy. She can say “well I wasn’t ALWAYS like that!” all she wants but we’ve seen her freshman letters about skin-boots and we’ve seen her dreams about torture-raping people to death and we’ve seen her long term goal of being a scary psycopathic henchman. She could be the whitest brodude on campus and she’d still be one of the creepiest folks there.

      Current score: 7
      • Oni says:

        You’re not wrong. I also wanted to strangle Ian for that entire side-tangent. I’ve been at that table before. I’ve heard that passive-aggressive argument before. I have refrained from stabbing people with pancake-forks so far, but I don’t think I could do university breakfast table chat again.

        Current score: 3
      • Anthony says:

        Yeah. Between the obnoxious, sanctimonious whining early on and the subtle but honest admission that she’s probably not a good choice as a caretaker because she might end up burning the place down, Steff just continues to remind us of what a miserable, worthless character she is all throughout this chapter.

        It really seems like the author wants to write Ian out of Mackenzie’s life and her story, and keep Steff in it, but I’ve yet to see a single good reason why it shouldn’t be exactly the opposite. Steff is practically a Darkness Induced Audience Apathy Elemental, and it’s getting worse…

        Current score: 5
        • Nocker says:

          Agreed. Ian has issues as a character but they feel like the kind that one generally develops around and grows through(lacking direction or skill, trying to deal with larger overarching issues). I can see him going places in a narrative sense at some point.

          Steff though? Even she’s made it clear her current path is only leading to one place and the narration makes it clear that she isn’t self aware enough to really notice it beyond the most obvious stuff. She’s nearly gotten herself killed out of stupidity twice over with the knife and the potion and constantly needs to be bailed out.

          Ian comes off as snippy and petty at times, but that’s mostly because he thinks about things and his (usually minor) place in them. Steff makes an effort of largely doing the opposite. A good example of this is chapter 476 of last volume, where Ian spends his time guessing at details that were actually correct and suggesting defenses that paid off, and Steff spent the same conversation advising that Mackenzie do zero research and forget it entirely.

          Current score: 5
          • zeel says:

            Remember though that this is a slice of life tale about college students. Both the charecter of Steff and of Ian are common among university students. It’s an authentic level of diversity.

            So while Steff has many negative traits they don’t make her a bad charecter. A bad person? maybe.

            When it comes to Mackenzie’s relationships I think Ian/Mackenzie is breaking down because they aren’t really compatible, while Mackenzie/Steff isn’t because it’s just not that serious – it’s so casual that there isn’t anything to break.

            So while Ian may be a more paletable charecter, he is more likely to drop off because his relationship with the protagonist is more fragile.

            Current score: 3
        • Mack says:

          At least Steff is interesting and a much stronger character than Ian. You might think Ian is a better person, but he is a weaker characture.

          Current score: 0
      • P says:

        She’s saying she didn’t always feel like people perceived her that way, but now she does feel like they do, they would see her that way even if she wasn’t a necromancer or kinky, and people perceive other gay/bisexual trans women that way too. And then (cis, straight, human) Ian says “No, that’s crazy and you’re being irrational” coming across like the biggest bro dude ever. I’m not always a huge Steff fan but I’m totally with her on this one.

        And to Anthony: Steff isn’t really saying she thinks she’ll burn it down. She’s saying she feels like she could fail and something could go horribly wrong- which she says because she feels like that about *everything she does*. She feels faulty and she expects to fail in her goals and dreams.

        Current score: 12
        • Nocker says:

          Right, but we’ve seen other necromancers talk about Steff when she’s not there, and a couple of other people. It’s never about gender issues, it’s about Steff being a corpse molester with a bunch of very real personal issues she’s refusing to look at or into. It doesn’t matter how white or male Ian is, he’s still talking about her actual problems that she’s previously admitted right to him in conversation that she has.

          Which is why Steff really does fail so often: She has serious personal issues she refuses to correct. She almost killed herself *twice* out of a lack of thought or restraint and has literally nobody but herself to blame for either occasion.

          Current score: 5
          • undertheteacup says:

            Apparently Steff being in therapy for oh a year now, successfully managing her drug addiction and staying clean, taking MU’s equivalent of medication, and testing the waters for a future direction that isn’t moving in with Viktor at Kilrest… all amounts to “refusing to look at or into” her “personal issues”.

            You know, a lot of comments in the thread above ping as exactly what Steff was pointing at, and the kind of behavior Ian was exhibiting.

            I for one loved that exchange so much, I was practically fist-pumping and shouting “Yesssss!” There was so much energy, it was well-written, and I am so so excited to see more of Steff and her journey. To me she is one of the most delicate and complex characters in this story. You can think you have her pegged and then she goes and reminds you, with moments like this, that she can’t so easily be dismissed.

            And the comparison above in this thread between Steff and Ian is just so ridiculous… I mean people talk about the shitty Steff stuff has done and the situations she’s been in. But what exactly has Ian had to overcome in his life? What kinds of things has he had to avoid and struggle with, what kinds of difficult choices has he had to make in his position as an upper middle class cis straight white dude? Come on now. And funny how people are ready to call Steff a corpse molester and talk about how fucked up her dreams and fantasies are, but no one’s talking about how Ian’s kink is beating a woman senseless before fucking her. Because that wouldn’t be read as creepy, it’s actually a tacitly sanctioned way for people in his position to relate to women. Hmmm, I wonder what Ian dreams about?

            Current score: 13
            • Nocker says:

              Forgot about the medication, that’s on me. If Steff is making some efforts to improve then that’s all well and good.

              Ian’s beating is consenting though, and isn’t actually breaking laws. The undead we’ve seen and the stuff Steff has worked with has mostly been stuff of roughly animal intelligence though and CAN’T consent.

              Let me put it this way: Lets say for a second I’m into bloodplay. Is there something slightly offputting for most people about it? Yeah, but everyone involved agrees and it’s all in good fun. But if the dude three feet away likes to fuck cats then that’s a totally different deal altogether. They aren’t equivalent situations.

              The things Steff has done aren’t nearly equal, and they aren’t related to her race, gender identity, or sexuality. Like I said, you could swap all those details and the rest would still be offputting.

              Current score: 4
            • Not her, the other girl says:

              I agree, Steff has made a lot of progress over the past year. And honestly, aside from the “I don’t want to sleep” days right after the breakup, I was expecting her to go more to pieces when her primary relationship crumbled. I think it’s like what Ian and Mack had been talking about – Steff has stuff going on in her life that Mack doesn’t see and they don’t necessarily talk about, so it’s not in the story that we see. (Random thought – when was the last time Mack and Steff knocked boots? Has that even been mentioned this semester or was it probably just glossed over with all the time jumping year two has had?)

              Current score: 3
            • Lunaroki says:

              I’m pretty sure Steff and Mack have “knocked boots” at least once so far this in-story year. The necromantically-enchanted jeans that had to be destroyed is the occasion that leaps to mind.

              Current score: 8
            • spess imvader says:

              Funny how people will choose a side they find less palatable to demonize (either the sick-minded and disturbed sissy boy who wants to be a girl and is all whiny, or the white, privileged, insipid, cis, hetero, mediocre, jealous, macho-wannabe, insecure guy who gets of by beating his girlfriend and cannot stand when he feels she is at a higher position than him), choosing the other side to defend and protect, dismissing any flaw as the same bias they sustain in opposite direction.

              Current score: 2
    • Trent Baker aka Zergonapal says:

      I think its given Ian some food for thought, perhaps next break he might invite Mack on a holiday with him.

      Current score: 1
      • Mickey Phoenix says:

        I would *love* to see either Mack or Ian take some responsibility and action toward spending non-sex time together. Yes, they have hot sex. Yes, they are uniquely well-suited to satisfying each other’s fantasies in bed. But the problem with their relationship is that, by and large, they don’t have one! They’re barely even FTFs, because they’re barely even friends, because they basically never interact except as part of the Scooby Gang or through fucking.

        If they want their relationship to work out, they might try having one, first. At least then, they would find out if they got along well enough to want a relationship!

        That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with being, or having, fuck-buddies. And I’m like Mack: even if I’m just fucking someone, I’m going to fall in love with them in short order (yay, abusive childhoods and attachment disorders!)–but there’s still a difference between “fuck-buddy that I am also in love with” and “partner I am in a relationship with”. And that difference, in my experience, boils down to time spent together outside of bed.

        Current score: 0
  2. Kriss says:

    Fantastic Chapter, I’m sure Mack’ll enjoy herself, and I’m glad Steff has decided to help out as Custodian, that makes Mack’s life a whole lot easier

    Current score: 1
  3. CBob says:

    Steff is in is…Simply delicious.

    Current score: 0
  4. pedestrian says:

    Ian is the Human condition.
    MU version male

    Current score: 2
  5. Zathras IX says:

    Mackenzie is up
    In the air about whether
    Or not to take flight

    Current score: 10
  6. cass says:

    Noooooooo – why does Mackenzie always let people make her decisions for her? This will end in tears. She had valid reasons for not going that they have just swept away from her by blinding her with other issues. Those reasons still exist but they won’t let her consider them. Sometimes, this lot are not good friends for her *sigh*

    Current score: 0
    • Mickey Phoenix says:

      Her only expressed reason for not going was fear of a mid-air cruise ship disaster. Which is an irrational fear for multiple reasons. What “valid reasons” are you taking about, here?

      Current score: 0
  7. Lunaroki says:

    Typo Report

    Amaranth said.”But I’ll bet I’m right… even if Glory can afford a longer cruise, I imagine she’d want some time to unwind on her own turf before classes resume…

    Space missing between “said.” and the quotes in front of “But”. Also, the paragraph ends without closing quotes around what Amaranth says.

    Anyway, Mackenzie, I guess inviting me mean you’re done dragging your feet?

    Should be “means”.

    Current score: 1
  8. JerK says:

    While you guys argue over Steff and Ian I’ll be quietly sitting over in the corner thinking they’re both horrible people. I wouldn’t want to hang out with either let alone be in a relationship. 😉

    Current score: 0
    • Mickey Phoenix says:

      I hear where you’re coming from on that. For me, though, both are deeply sympathetic figures. It’s hard enough being mixed-race in a racist society, without also being trans in a sexist, transphobic society. It’s hard enough being raised by an emotionally abusive, controlling father, without also having a socially unacceptable kink for beating the shit out of women with your bare hands.

      Doesn’t mean I would sleep with either of them. I probably wouldn’t — Ian because I’m mostly straight and he’s male, and Steff because…nah, I’m kidding myself. I’d take one look at Steff’s mask of devil-may-care bravado over deep emotional pain, and I’d fall for her so hard, it’d register on the university seismographs.

      I’d hang out with either or both of them, though. I’d want to help Ian come to terms with both his father and his kink, and I’d want to comfort the living hell out of Steff, whether we were lovers or not.

      Full disclosure: I was raised by an emotionally and physically abusive mother and a physically abusive father, and have a socially unacceptable kink for beating the shit out of (consenting) people with my bare hands. I’m also a 6’8″ cisgender mostly-straight white male with privilege absolutely dripping out my ears. This may provide some useful context for interpreting my reactions to Ian and Steff.

      Current score: 0
  9. Barnowl says:

    Steff was pretty snooty about the job offer. It’s not up to Mackenzie to guarentee her future employment.

    Current score: 3
    • Mickey Phoenix says:

      Steff was terrified to let herself imagine the possibility that the job offer might work out. Where you see snooty, I see not daring to hope.

      Steff pretty consistently uses snark and sour grapes to handle the shit life hands her. They aren’t the best coping mechanisms, but they’re the one she has. When I have hope for Steff’s future, it is when she shows signs of relaxing those defenses around her friends.

      Current score: 0
  10. Cadnawes says:


    This chapter touches on a set of feelings I know well. If you have a set of characteristics you can’t help which make people hate you, you will embrace traits that are your choice… that make people hate you. At least then you can pretend that it’s OK. Don’t get me wrong, being a decent person and doing good in the world helps too; but less than you’d think.

    Healthy? Not really… but neither is the alternative.

    Current score: 3
    • Sapphite says:

      [Edit: odd – timestamp is for.. Like Caiman islands time]

      That really helped me ‘get’ this chapter, thank you.

      Actually enjoyed the conversation between Ian and Story – was surprised.

      Also thought Mack might have had a mental block from her mother to avoid airships, but realized that doesn’t make a lot of sense, both for intent and timing reasons. Her grandfather thing makes much more sense.

      Current score: 2
      • zeel says:

        Odd timestamp? That’s weird, I’m in Eastern, which is the same as AE I’m fairly sure, and it’s four hours ahead of my time. did that just change or has it been that way for a while?

        Current score: 0
    • Order of Chaos says:

      You’re not alone.

      Current score: 0
  11. m says:

    eh, still seems like glory gets a harder time than anybody else.

    shes saying yes to the trip because vacation without knowing how she feels about glory, doesn’t seem fair to her.

    Current score: 0
  12. Arancaytar says:

    Look, my grandfather was an airshipman.


    Current score: 0