Chapter 304: Mental Warfare

on August 15, 2015 in Volume 2 Book 9: Who Is Mackenzie Blaise?, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort

In Which Dee Places Second

Nobody said anything after that for a while. Dee had closed her eyes… I figured it was a concentration thing, though outwardly she looked pretty relaxed. Maybe it was just a way of making sure there was only one thing she had to “see” at a time.

“No, Rowan,” she said, eventually. “It will not ‘screw things up’ if you speak.”

“Okay… I wasn’t going to ask in case the answer was yes, but I didn’t really think you would pick up on it,” he said. “Sorry.”

“The front of the mind is always more prominent than the back,” she said. “But it is not unduly distracting… finding a way past the noise of the foremind is a necessary first step in learning to do deeper readings. I appreciate your concern, however. If you have any further questions or comments, I suggest that you simply speak them. Not only will it allow Mackenzie to hear them as well, but I find that unvoiced thoughts ring all the more loudly.”

“Okay, well… I was hoping you could at least confirm that I’m not lying,” he said.

“I know sincerity can be faked, but you haven’t yet struck me as the cunning type,” I said. “Though, I guess a good actor could come off as a bit of a rube…”

“Khee, thanks,” Rowan said.

“If I can tell you nothing else,” Dee said, “I can confirm that he believes what he’s been telling you, and so far as I can yet determine, his memories do agree with it.”

“Is that really the most telepathy can do?” Rowan asked.

“There is a lot to untangle,” Dee said. “The events in which we are interested have been on your mind quite a bit lately, which makes things easier in some ways, but also harder. There is a trail for me to follow from your recent memories to the older ones, the true record which you have been perusing… but it is a looping trail, fraught with the subjectivity of distance and time.”

“I thought all memory was pretty subjective,” I said. “The way it’s been explained to me is that only a few really solid details are nailed down, and if we have to think about what happened later, we just reconstruct what’s missing.”

“This is so,” Dee said. “When I said ‘true record’, I did not mean to suggest that what is recorded in Rowan’s mind is the truth. I meant the actual memory itself, fragmentary though it may be, rather than his recent recollection of it.”

“I know my memory of my childhood is kind of hazy and incomplete, but I figured that was just because it was years ago, and I was young,” Rowan said. “You’re saying that’s just the way things are?”

“With greater and smaller exceptions, yes,” Dee said.

“So being a telepath doesn’t mean you can root around and help me fill in the parts I might have forgotten?”

“In some cases, perhaps… in any mind, there are likely to be more memories stored than the mind itself knows how to access,” Dee said. “But recognizing them and bringing them to the surface is a highly specialized skill, one for which I lack the training. The subjectivity of memory makes it a dangerous task, as it is far too easy to alter memories or create new ones.”

“Uh… should that maybe have been mentioned up front?” Rowan said. “Just as part of the general disclaimer?”

“Do not worry, I am reading only,” Dee said. “I would have to actively assert myself to influence your thoughts, and I would not do so. It is similar to the difference between looking and touching.”

“Still, pretty scary,” he said. “I mean, I guess it was kind of a given that memories can be altered, given what we’re doing here, but I figured that would be like some kind of super-secret high-level mind-fu and not just something that anyone can do by accident. I kind of think I was entitled to know that you could scramble my brains before I let you in.”

“Your brains are in no danger from my gift,” Dee said. “Even if I had the raw power to rip your mind to shreds… and I do not… your organ of thought would be physically unharmed. Unless I chose to assault them telekinetically, of course.”

“…maybe this is not the time to split that particular hair?” I said, watching the color drain from Rowan’s face.

“I am sorry,” Dee said. “The mind/body distinction is important to my discipline, though it seems trivial to most who lack such gifts… Rowan, I apologize. In my attempt to construct informed consent, I failed to consider how little you knew, or what would be important to you. Would you like to continue?”

“I guess,” he said. “I mean, if you wanted to mess things up inside my head, I doubt you would have asked for permission in the first place, right?”

“That thought had crossed my mind, but I doubted it would sound as reassuring to you, coming from me,” she said.

“Yeah, I guess it wouldn’t have been,” he said. “Hey… you didn’t plant that in my head, did you?”

“Rowan,” Dee said. “This is exactly the reason I sought an affirmation of trust before I began. If you are going to require reassurance that each thought that crosses your mind is your own, we had best discontinue now, so as not to give you more opportunities to second-guess later.”

“Sorry,” he said. “It was more of an idle… I was thinking more that it would be pretty slick than anything else. I trust you as much as Mackenzie trusts you, and she seems to trust you plenty.”

“Dee is easily the… second most moral person I know,” I said.

“Second?” he said.

“That is fair,” Dee said.

“Hold on, why only second?”

“First place doesn’t have a dishonest bone in her body because her maker sculpted them by hand,” I said. When that failed to register, I clarified. “She’s a golem.”

“Is a golem really a pers… aaaaaaah!”

“My apologies,” Dee said. “I appear to have inadvertently triggered your memory of urinating inside your pants in the second grade.”

“I don’t think Two would approve of that,” I said, which was the only real criticism I could muster… I was unusually inclined to be charitable to Rowan, though, both because I needed him and because I felt I owed some extra patience to the apparent best friend I didn’t remember.

“And this is why I am only second,” Dee said.

“Okay, sorry, I get it… I’m an asshole,” Rowan said, throwing up his hands. “Bear in mind, I’ve never met one before. I don’t know anything about golems except what I’ve seen on TV. If you can try to remember that… I’ll try to remember it, too, the next time something pops into my head about one.”

“Fair enough,” Dee said.

“Going back on topic… if it is so easy to create new memories,” I said, “are we really accomplishing anything here? I mean, how can ”

“Believe me, from my vantage point, the difference would be apparent,” Dee said. “The possessor of a false memory is less likely to notice because their own need to have a coherent sense of self will drive them to integrate it into the whole, but structurally, they are quite distinct, more often consisting of concrete words or visuals than the abstract sensory impressions that make up a real memory.”

“Not that I don’t understand why you’d be open to the possibility that I’d be the one who was brainwashed,” Rowan said, “but… why would someone go to the trouble of making me think I knew you, if I didn’t?”

“There are people who would go to more trouble than that to get to me,” I said. “One of them tries to keep a low profile and the other one has been pretty assiduously sticking to the technically correct side of the law, but… well… if you volunteered to have your memory altered as part of a ploy to get close to me and slip in under my guard, I’m not sure that would in and of itself be illegal?”

“I kind of want to ask what the hell kind of life you’ve lived that you have to worry about that kind of thing, but I kind of don’t want to know?” he said.

“I’m not sure I’m ready to get into all of that, either way,” I said. “Honestly, I haven’t heard from anyone I’d call ‘one of my enemies’ lately, and I’m not in any hurry to dredge any of that up with a stranger, even if I’m not a stranger to him. But, I’ve been careless and stupid when dealing with them in the past.”

“It’s cool,” he said. “You just seem to be kind of yo-yoing on this whole ‘trust’ issue, and that doesn’t really seem fair since I have to commit all the way.”

“I know it seems that way,” I said. “But this is kind of what trust looks like, in my situation. I mean, I believe you, Rowan… I really do. But no matter how much I say that, in the back of my head I still know what I know. And I can believe with a near-dead certainty that it’s wrong, but it’s still what I know. I mean, if I can’t trust my own memory, how can I trust the guy who tells me he knows the truth? How can I trust anyone?”

“That’s fair, I guess,” Rowan said, though he looked increasingly nervous. “Maybe your paranoia is rubbing off on me, but I’m just suddenly acutely aware that I’m letting someone into my mind on the word of someone whose memory has been altered…… what if you’re all acting on some kind of post-hypnotic thingy to eliminate anyone who knows the truth?”

“Such buried triggers must necessarily be simple and straightforward to be effective,” Dee said. “It would be plausible that someone… not myself in particular but someone… could be acting under such a trigger. It would be far less plausible for said trigger to include detailed instructions such as scanning your memory to verify whether you in fact knew the truth or not before proceeding with the elimination. Of course, you must rely on my word that this is so.”

“Strangely, it’s still reassuring? Because even without knowing all the nitty-gritty details of how it works… yeah, it does seem more likely it would be all ‘crush, kill, destroy’ and not ‘laboriously verify, then crush, kill, destroy’… and I know, I know… I’m supposed to be thinking about my childhood, not all the ways this could go south,” Rowan said. “But it’s hard, okay? You don’t know how hard it is to focus on something so freaking mundane when there’s so much weirdness and newness and new weirdness going on… or maybe you do. I guess you probably had special training in focusing your thoughts.”

“Indeed,” Dee said. “among my people, even the mind-blind are given some rudimentary training in aligning their thoughts and raising or lowering their guards. I have not spent much of my time on the surface deliberately reading the thoughts of my fellow students… I had not considered how poorly prepared you would be for this.”

“I guess if nothing else I can stop talking, though,” Rowan said. “I mean, that can’t be helping, right?”

“It has not helped, no,” Dee said. “But I know how difficult it is to not think particular thoughts when nothing is there to distract oneself from them, and so I fear that forgetting your worries and focusing on your memories in silence will prove fruitless.”

“Wait, you’re giving up?” I said. I would have been the first to admit that the session had been pretty disastrous so far… except that I would have been the last to admit defeat, given how much was at stake for me.

“No,” Dee said. “Merely changing my angle of approach. Instead of less conversation, I believe we should have more… or at least, more focused conversation. It is far easier for the uninitiated to choose a topic of conversation than a topic of thought.”

“So we talk about what we want Rowan to think about?” I said. “I mean, me and him… you scan while we talk?”

“Indeed,” Dee said.

“…so how do we do this?” Rowan said. “Because I’m not sure where to start.”

“Mackenzie will ask questions,” she said. “You will answer with as much detail as you can, to the best of your ability.”

Tell me about my mother, I think, but something holds me back from saying it. Maybe I’m not ready for that. Instead, I say, “How did we meet?”

Rowan laughs, a nervous sort of barking laugh.

“Believe it or not, I don’t remember that,” he said. “Is that weird? I mean, does that mean something?”

“In this case, no,” Dee said. “I am told my early childhood recollections are uncommonly clear, yet my life is peopled with very important people for whom I have no clear ‘first’ memory. They were simply there, always there. It is the way of things.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly how it is,” Rowan said. “I don’t remember a time we didn’t know each other. We were in the neighborhood together… not next door neighbors, more like a couple houses down and a street over. But they were barely streets, you know?”

“Dirt roads on the edge of town,” I said, nodding. “Tiny little houses, no two alike. Lots of trees, overgrown bushes. A lot of untidy lawns, though I didn’t think anything of that until I went to live with my grandmother.”

“My mom liked me playing at your house, both because your mom was better at watching us and because my house was right up against the pasture land. The bigger kids would go off and play on the other side of the fence, and I always wanted to join them.”

“I did, too!” I said. “My memory is that I wasn’t allowed to join them. My mother didn’t even let me go over the fence into the pasture for a few years, but I still don’t remember playing with the older kids after she gave in. Or did I lose my memory of playing with them?”

“Mostly, no, they didn’t play with you,” he said. “By the time we were old enough that our moms said we could go on the other side of the fence, they were mostly too old to feel like running around playing rangers and stuff. Your mom called it…”

“The Big Kid Paradox,” I said. In my lonely memory, I was alone in our dining room lamenting that I had no one to play with, that the gang of neighborhood kids I’d chased after the heels of were no longer interested in doing the things that had made being a couple years older seem so appealing. “No matter how old I got, the older kids were always older. I remember that.”

“So, we made our own games,” he said. “We used to watch them playing war, you know, like their own little version of skirmish… but we just had each other, so when we did it, we were like generals of imaginary armies.”

Dee made a sound that, from anybody else, I would have sworn was a swallowed laugh turning into a snort. It sounded exactly like that, but I couldn’t quite credit her ever doing something so undignified.

“What?” Rowan said. “It’s the truth.”

“Yes, I… see it,” Dee said. “It is… I apologize, Mackenzie. I am certainly not laughing at the image of you playing war games.”

“I’m not laughing, either,” I said. “Is this for real? My mother hated any kind of play fighting. There were no toy soldiers in our house, I wasn’t allowed to pick up a stick and swing it like a sword, nothing. Is that real?”

“Yeah, she was kind of a tight ass about that?” Rowan said. “I think that probably hardened her resolve to keep you out of the pasture, honestly, but she gave in eventually as long as we weren’t really fighting, not even really play-fighting… that’s why we were the generals, I guess? Because as long as we were imagining what our archers and knights were doing, we weren’t actually fighting ourselves. We each had our own little forts. Yours was just a stand of pine trees on the top of a hill. Mine was the space between three big piles of deadwood. We’d take turns coming down with our armies and we’d sort of play out what they were doing, with a combination of storytelling and play-acting and… well, I don’t know how much of this was… our imaginations were kind of in sync back then. I didn’t really associate it with the mind-reading thing, but I never found someone I could connect to like that. It was almost like we shared our own little reality.”

“Could an untrained telepath do that?” I asked Dee.

“It is possible,” she said. “Children lack many of the inhibitions that would make such a thing difficult in the first place, and without training, telepathy functions mostly as an added channel overlaying speech… I learned to operate my mental and physical voices separately in much the same way a child learns to flex individual fingers independently of each other. If you did have some kind of latent telepathic ability, it would have been quite literally child’s play for you to weave your minds together as you shouted your imaginings back and forth.”

“This might be too weird for me to think about… and I don’t think that’s the suggestion rearing it’s head again,” I said. “I haven’t really dealt with the mind reading stuff yet… I mean, if I was telepathic as a child, what happened? Because I sure as hell am not now.”

“I could not begin to speculate without being able to examine your mind more closely than would be healthy,” Dee said.

“Also, I just can’t imagine having that kind of bond with anyone,” I said. “Telepathic or not. I mean, my childhood… the way you remember it… Rowan, I look back and there’s nothing like that. I was… I don’t like to think of myself as lonely. I almost can’t. But I was so alone.”

“You weren’t ever lonely that I noticed,” he said. “I had a real feeling that I needed you more than you needed me… like, you were happy to have an audience and someone to tell stories to and stuff, but I went looking for you way more than you went looking for me. Part of that was me being the littler kid, but I really do think you were better at being alone than I was.”

“Still, your version of my life sounds more fun than what I remember,” I said.

“Anyway, the one thing your mom had a bigger stick up her butt about than the fighting was you wandering off or whatever,” Rowan said. “And the thing about the cow pasture is that it had definite boundaries on all sides, so she could tell you to stay inside it and there’d be no fudging. I don’t know if you remember, but you used to get in fights with her about what counted as going into the woods… she’d flip her shit at you if she thought you’d gone too far out of bounds.”

“…I do remember that,” I said.

“I wasn’t much help there,” Rowan said. “I learned pretty quick that if I took your side in that argument, I’d see a lot less of you for a while. She was really touchy about that one thing.”

“Knowing what I know now… or suspecting what I suspect… I can’t say that I blame her,” I said.

“What’s that?”

“I’m pretty sure that’s how she met… the demon,” I said. I’d called the man who’d impregnated her my father a couple of times for lack of a more natural way to refer to him offhand, but I didn’t like to claim him when I could avoid it. “Wandering off in the woods.”

“Do you think she knew…?”

“What I was?”

“I was going to say what he was,” Rowan said.

“I think she knew he was bad news,” I said. “After I turned, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what she knew and when she knew it… it was easier to believe she didn’t know anything, because then I didn’t have to wonder why she’d never warned me. But the specific things she seemed to worry about… not just me wandering off in the woods, but the fighting, and she’d freak out if I ate anything weird… though maybe that’s just a mom thing in general… I think she had an inkling? Maybe she didn’t say anything because she hoped she was wrong. Dee, are we maybe getting too far off-topic here? Is this useful?”

“…one moment, please,” Dee said.

“What, are we interrupting something?” Rowan said.

“I said, one moment, please,” she repeated, in a tone that did not brook any argument. “Continue speaking about the time when Mackenzie disappeared from your life, Rowan. When’s the last time you saw her?”

“…I couldn’t actually say,” he said. “I guess there wasn’t anything special about it? Like I said, one day you just weren’t there anymore. I didn’t think anything when you didn’t show up at school, though the second and third day I was kind of worried and curious.”

“You didn’t go by my house?” I asked.

“…no?” he said. “I usually did when you weren’t at school, though you didn’t actually get sick much? But I don’t think I did. I remember we were all in the dark. Why didn’t I, though?”

“Perhaps you did,” Dee said.

“I don’t remember!” he said. “This is starting to freak me the fuck out.”

“Dee… were his memories altered, too?”

“Not altered,” she said. “Not removed. Destroyed.”

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45 Responses to “Chapter 304: Mental Warfare”

  1. crows says:

    Ook, first time commenter.

    I’ve never been caught up to current before. Now I’m frustrated that I’ll be waiting another week for the next cliffhanger!

    Current score: 15
    • zeel says:

      Welcome to the top, it was a long climb wasn’t it?

      Current score: 6
      • zeel says:

        Speaking of long climbs… I just completed my latest re-read. And damn this thing has gotten long. It has taken me all summer (well, I wasn’t reading very consistently) to get through it.

        This latest stretch of chapters has been interesting in hindsight.

        Current score: 0
  2. Jennifer says:

    “My apologies,” Dee said. “I appear to have inadvertently triggered your memory of urinating inside your pants in the second grade.”

    I laughed REALLY hard at this bit. I love Dee.

    Current score: 23
    • Jon says:

      I was in a MEETING when I read this and laughed. Must remember not to read ToMU in meetings 🙂

      Current score: 1
  3. Nocker says:

    You know, it doesn’t really help the “drow aren’t all evil” bit when you mentally torture a dude for a slip up he has know way of knowing even happened.

    Current score: 4
    • Nocker says:

      Seriously, I’m wondering how this is any different from The Man teaching Laurel to give into her worst instincts and do more or less the EXACT SAME THING when she was much younger. The only difference is unlike young Laurel, Dee is supposed to be trained and experienced enough that she should really know better.

      Current score: 2
      • undertheteacup says:

        It’s just the mental equivalent of a slap upside the head – not to mention this kind of instantaneous negative reinforcement is also probably one of the most effective ways to get people to stop saying offensive shit.

        You can question its viability as a tactic, but it’s pretty fucked up to compare Dee’s reaction to him questioning someone’s personhood with Laurel Anne wanting to humiliate her friend in front of the entire class just out of pettiness/because she wanted to take her down a peg.

        Current score: 9
        • Nocker says:

          …and slapping someone is still out of line. There was no malice in his words and how was he supposed to actually KNOW?

          This was absolutely out of line. You put your hands on someone, literal or metaphorical, only when you have no other option. To act like that immediately betrays a fundamental pettiness and lack of class.

          Current score: 3
          • Nocker says:

            To drive the point home, the question of a golem’s personhood is an entirely valid one. They don’t have souls, they don’t have sentience unless specifically given any, and even a lot of the ones made to look “person like” aren’t actually sentient, since a lot of Sam golems from way back when were basically just simple automatons made to look friendly and given varying degrees of actual brainpower.

            For someone like Rowan, who’s never even SEEN a golem, to know that a golem can get that complex and “counts” as a person is unreasonable.

            Current score: 4
            • undertheteacup says:

              Well, now he knows. And he’s extremely unlikely to repeat that same mistake again 😀

              Current score: 7
            • Nocker says:

              …but now he’ll just make other ones. Since he has no real new information if he ever sees another golem he’s likley to make another mistake about its nature and screw up there, and likley worse than he otherwise would. Because there’s a difference between knowing you don’t know, and thinking you do but having bad information.

              This wasn’t about correcting this mistake. It was about Dee feeling good about herself for doing it. Otherwise there were far better ways to accomplish that end.

              Current score: 3
            • PrometheanSky says:

              We don’t know that golems don’t have souls. One of the OT stories involved the question, which could have been settled via resurrection of a dead golem. The resurrection was never attempted though, leaving it an open question.

              Current score: 2
            • Nocker says:

              That took place before the main story. Two says now that she doesn’t have one. Ergo, the question must have been answered somewhere else.

              Current score: 1
          • FeralK says:

            I don’t disagree, especially since Dee knows he is freaked out by this process, but maybe reconsider your use of the word “class” to denote humane behavior?

            Current score: 0
            • Lurk says:

              Yes, Dee should be deeply ashamed of herself. If this abusive pattern continues, Baby Rowan will likely grow up displaying the same abusive tendencies of gently rebuking his friends when they behave insensitively.

              Current score: 9
    • Hollowgolem says:

      I wouldn’t call “a momentary bad sensation” mental torture.

      Dee performed the psionic equivalent of slapping him on the wrist. Yeah, it hurts now, but it gets the point across that what you did was inappropriate.

      Current score: 12
    • Mickey Phoenix says:

      Please note that Dee’s triggering of that memory was accidental. She’s imperfect. That’s profoundly different from “she’s intrinsically evil”.

      Current score: 0
      • Ace says:

        I got the idea that it was “accidentally on purpose.” But seriously, triggering such a small incident isn’t exactly my idea of evil. I mean, if I gave someone a poke to correct them… or even just because that’s how I felt, I don’t think that should reflect on every single person who happens to share my heritage. It’s a bit of mischief, not a declaration of war. People misbehave sometimes. Even Dee, who, while she has been arrogant and overstepped bounds, has actually been one of the most consistently well-behaved characters in the story.

        If we really wanted to use individuals as representatives of a race to determine the goodness of said race, the surface elves have far more damning examples. And through Glory’s court we see some good–though not perfect– counterexamples.

        Current score: 0
  4. Nicholas says:

    Feels like the end of this got cut off?
    “accomplishing anything here? I mean, how can ”

    Current score: 4
    • NekoLeila says:

      Not sure, but Dee might have been cutting them off.

      Current score: 1
      • Conan the Grammarian says:

        Yes, the usual editing convention is to end with a dash.
        “I mean, how can —”

        Current score: 2
  5. Readaholic says:

    so – I wonder if they were destroyed for the same reason Hissy’s menories of Mack’s mind were removed – to protect Rowan from the infernal mind-contact damage. Given the bond they shared, Rowan would probably have had the first, and worst, although unintentional, contact. Of course, that’s the best outcome. the worst? Involves The Man.

    Current score: 7
    • Tomo says:

      I really think it’s less malevolent than that–I think Lorellon erased Rowan and Mackenzie’s memories. Rowan because possibly, right after she turned, she was pretty demonic, and she didn’t want Mackenzie to blame herself for how she was, and she didn’t want rowan dealing with the trauma of his best friend being like that.

      Current score: 2
      • zeel says:

        How is that less malevolent? Removing memories because they are infernally tainted is standard operating procedure for mental healers. Removing memories just to cover something up, or to prevent hypothetical trauma is less benign.

        Current score: 2
        • Oni says:

          I agree, and think this is a reasonable guess considering that we know the effects of an infernal mind and that at some point Mack was able to touch other people telepathically. It’s highly probable that all these memories were removed because a telepathic half-demon is basically a weapon of mass destruction; a trained one could take out an unknown number of mortals at a time, and an untrained one could actually be worse.

          Current score: 0
    • Nocker says:

      I think it’s a bit simpler than that.

      Rowan is a loose end. If Rowan spent his whole life investigating what would he find? Lorellion Brand, trying to be forgotten? Or Martha, not above killing if things don’t go her way? Or the demon behind all of this, who’ll kill whoever he needs to to keep things on track? Laurel probably rationalized this as it being for his own good if I’m correct.

      Obviously, I don’t think this was the right course of action. After all, The Man’s primary weapons are secrecy and misinformation, and he doesn’t do well in groups. Likewise Martha’s only gotten where she is because the skeletons in her closet got there out in the Khazar waste or out in the jungle with FTR where people can’t say for sure. For Laurel to play by their rules, or by the rules of LAW who let psychos like Mercy have free reign with a crazy master plan, means the whole plan was doomed from the start.

      That is, I think, ultimately the best weapon every single one of Mackenzie’s enemies has ever had: Secrecy. If ever the general public knew what any of them were doing it would make life far more dangerous for all of them. Which is why The Man brought Harlowe the journalist up the tower with Sam, instead of any of the fighting women. Or why Emberies stopped Mackenzie from telling anyone that he was a man eater. Or even really why Laurel is taking a new name and refusing to give answers. One of the recurring things about MU characters is that anyone with a big secret on that level is probably dangerous, and I don’t believe Mackenzie’s mother is any exception.

      Current score: 5
      • Elder Sage says:

        Agreed,yet Mercy, et-al, aside … It seems that there maybe a bigger connection between the MAN & “Gran-Ma Paladin”. Least we forget that Mac, may have a sibling or two with-in striking distance.

        Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      This is an interesting possibility, though I am not certain it fits considering the wording:

      “Not altered,” she said. “Not removed. Destroyed.”

      But Teddi tells Hissy:

      We had to remove a whole section of your memory in order to stop it from destroying your mind.

      Both Teddi and Dee like to be precise about their language. The semantic difference between “remove” and “destroy” must be important. So if the procedure for tainted memories is to “remove”, one would expect to “destroy” for a different reason.

      Of course, we have no idea what “destroying” a memory even means, so there just isn’t sufficient data yet. And for all we know, the real difference is precision and care, and “destroy” was simply the hasty and unskilled way that Anne went about removing memories.

      Current score: 2
      • Lurk says:

        Interesting, in terms of semantics. “Remove” implies deliberate, careful, surgical precision, though the skill level may vary. “Destruction” implies more savagery than surgery, a certain indiscriminate brutality that could be either deliberate or accidental.

        More intriguingly still, when you remove something, it’s gone. When you destroy something? Typically you smash it into tiny pieces, but those pieces are still there, little bitty fragments that, with time and patience and care, may be reassembled. Maybe not enough to really serve their original purpose – you’re not going to write on a reconstituted piece of shredded paper – but enough to read what was written on it. So, in theory, if Dee can put Humpty together again, Rowan may still not remember those memories directly like he would other things that have happened to him, but he or Dee may be able to play them back like a videotape.

        Wild speculation, of course, borne of semantics in a field whose lingo we don’t really know. All those three important words may have completely different connotations to a subtle artist than to an English major.

        Current score: 2
        • Conan the Grammarian says:

          I forget if it’s been addressed, but The Man must have had a mental barrier like a wall of iron if Laurel didn’t pick up on the extraplanar aspect. To be nitpicky, how does a subtle artist fall for someone who reads as a blank wall? Hmm.

          Current score: 1
          • Oni says:


            Current score: 1
            • jayloo says:

              You’re thinking True Blood. Bella Swan wasn’t a telepath.

              Current score: 0
            • Silverai says:

              Yup, Twilight. Bella Swan might not have been a telepath, but she definitely read as a blank wall. Edward would be the subtle artist in this case.

              Current score: 1
          • zeel says:

            I recall her being unable to sense him at all – no wall, not even a void, he simply failed to register.

            Current score: 0
          • Lucy says:

            because they are a mystery, there’s always something new

            Current score: 0
        • Lyssa says:

          Destroyed, to me, implies panic. It makes me think someone had to get the job done thoroughly and quickly. That seems to support the theory that it was done to protect Rowan as well as to prevent Mackenzie’s telepathy being known.

          I could see the choice being made that waiting for (or even just calling for) a trained mental healer would draw too much attention to Mackenzie’s secret.

          Current score: 1
  6. Zathras IX says:

    ŦΨØ is Number One
    But we already knew that
    (Or suspected it)

    Current score: 14
  7. Syndic says:

    Hi, found this site so can’t comment on the story yet – but wanted to let you know that the link to the start of book 1 is wrong, both here in the “about” section and on the web fiction guide. Both point to instead of the correct

    Current score: 0
  8. Syndic says:

    actually, the link to “read on” on the first page of book 1 is broken too (I’d add this as response to my earlier comment, but I guess there’s moderation here so it’s not visible yet… and if I wait for it to be, I’ll just forget >_> )

    Current score: 0
  9. John Neisser says:

    I think I can see what this is leading to and we will not like it .

    Current score: 0
  10. Arancaytar says:

    “Even if I had the raw power to rip your mind to shreds… and I do not… your organ of thought would be physically unharmed. Unless I chose to assault them telekinetically, of course.”

    That’s very reassuring indeed, Dee.

    “My apologies,” Dee said. “I appear to have inadvertently triggered your memory of urinating inside your pants in the second grade.”

    That might be a little petty.

    Current score: 4
  11. Syndic says:

    well, now I am caught up and *can* say that I very much enjoy the story 🙂

    One question though – I’ve read in some comments about “more tales of MU”, and there’s hints there would be more back story about Jamie and his friends – particularly about that bracelet of his? I can’t find any link to that on the website, was/is this something exclusive to patrons or something or just hidden behind a link I didn’t think to check?

    Current score: 0