Interlude 6 – Gaia Sinclaire

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April 3rd, 1920

“Three days, Joselyn,” Gaia Sinclaire spoke crisply as she entered the classroom, her eyes already directed toward the lone student sitting in the middle of the front row. The girl wore a security track uniform, which seemed to be directly at odds with the reason she was there. “Three days in a row that you have found yourself drawn into an open brawl, this time in the middle of the school courtyard.”

“To be fair, Professor, I wasn’t drawn into this one.” Sitting casually in her seat, ankles crossed at the end of her stretched out legs, Joselyn Atherby drummed her fingers along the desk with an air of dismissive lack of concern. “That bimbo didn’t even see it coming until I put his ass on the ground.”

Giving the girl a long look, Gaia let out a breath before moving to sit on the edge of her own desk directly in front of Joselyn. “If that is your best attempt at sounding penitent, I would strongly suggest that you not get your hopes up when auditions for the end of year musical begin.”

Drawing her legs back under the seat, Joselyn sat up a bit straighter, the casual expression falling from her face. It was replaced with an intense look. “You always said to be honest with you, Professor. You want honesty, you’ve got it. I’m not sorry I hit that asshole the first time, and every time I’ve hit him since then, I’ve been even less sorry. You want penitent? Fine, I’m sorry he’s still conscious.”

“Joselyn,” Gaia spoke sharply. “Talking like that is going to get you into trouble with the Headmaster.” After a brief pause, she amended, “Even worse trouble. Which, in your case, is saying something.”

“Headmaster Ruthers already wanted me gone anyway,” Joselyn replied, though she at least looked a little less flippant. “If it weren’t for you, I’d already be back out on the streets, just another clueless dame waiting to hook up with some drugstore cowboy and pop out a few kids. He’d wipe my memory so fast I wouldn’t know from nothing. That’s how he deals with people who don’t toe his line.”

“Insisting upon carrying out this vendetta against his son is hardly going to make things better, Joselyn.” With a sigh, Gaia reached across to take the girl’s hand, squeezing it. “Listen, the headmaster cannot have you banished just because he disagrees with you. That requires authority from the Committee with a two-thirds vote. But if you keep doing this sort of thing, if you don’t show that you are capable of following the rules, the headmaster will have a much easier time gaining those votes.”

“You mean pretend I don’t know the truth.” Joselyn’s voice was hard, and she extricated her hand from the older woman’s. “Pretend they’re not full of shit. Pretend this whole school isn’t lying to us.”

Without breaking the girl’s gaze, Gaia shook her head. “What we teach here are not all lies, Joselyn.”

“Yes, they are!” The girl stood from her seat, kicking the chair back in the process. “I know what I saw. That werebear wasn’t hurting anyone. She was protecting people, innocent people. She was protecting them and we stopped her. We killed her. We took away their protector, and now most of those people are either dead, or enslaved by those mobsters. That werebear was protecting them until we killed her. Now a lot more innocent people are dead. So you tell me, Professor, who’s the monster now?”

“That is a harder question than you realize,” Gaia admitted in a soft voice, still meeting the eighteen-year old girl’s intense stare. “Allow me to speak frankly, Joselyn. No, you are not necessarily wrong. It is quite possible that the creature you and your team were taken to fight was no threat to any humans.”

“Then why did we have to kill her?!” Joselyn’s voice rose so loud that Gaia was glad for the sound dampening spell she’d already cast on the room before starting this conversation. “We’re supposed to be the good guys, the heroes! We should be working with the Strangers that aren’t evil, not killing them! What the hell is killing the ones that aren’t evil going to accomplish other than turn them all into the complete monsters that you people keep trying to tell us they are? It’s wrong, and you know it.”

For a moment, Gaia admired the fire in the girl’s eyes. In this as with all things she was actually interested in, Joselyn Atherby was extraordinarily passionate. There was no middle ground, no demure politeness. The girl said what she meant, and damned the consequences. It was an admirable quality, one that would get her far in life and attract others to her. If she managed to survive long enough.

Joselyn continued, the heat in her gaze only growing as she went on. “Killing an innocent is wrong, Professor. It doesn’t matter what they are. If humans can be monsters and innocents, then so can Strangers. And if we kill the ones who are innocent, that makes us the monsters! I won’t do that. I don’t care what the consequences are. I won’t be a part of murdering innocent people. It’s wrong. It’s evil.”

When Gaia began to respond to that, it was with a voice whose softness was at odds with Joselyn’s loud, brash demands. “It is. Listen to me. Killing an innocent is evil, there is no question about that. But dear girl, please, listen to me. Did you think that you were the first person to notice this?”

Joselyn’s mouth opened and then shut, a frown knitting across her forehead. “What do you mean?”

The red-haired woman gave her student a gentle smile. “I mean, you are hardly alone. There are others who share your… opinion, that we should not be killing every Stranger we find. There are those of us who are well aware that there are some who are as innocent as any human Bystander, who pose no threat to anyone and could easily be left alone to live out their lives without ever harming a soul.”

Joselyn was staring at her in disbelief. “Then why do you let it happen?! What the hell is wrong with you!?” Her voice had risen to a shout, and she stepped around the desk to openly glare at her teacher.

Gaia took in a breath before letting it out again. “Joselyn, what do you think would happen if we openly stated the same views you have about working with Strangers? If those very few of us who believe this way were to be open with those beliefs, what do you believe would be accomplished?”

“Well,” Joselyn’s retort came immediately. “Maybe we’d stop murdering innocents, for one thing.”

Shaking her head at that, Gaia corrected the younger girl. “No. We’d simply be identified and removed from duty by the majority who do not see things the same way. In the long run, the only thing making such opinions known would do, is remove our ability to actually accomplish anything useful. And, in the end, it would actually cause many more innocents to die that wouldn’t have otherwise.”

Joselyn was simply staring at her in silent, yet obvious disbelief, so Gaia continued. “If these arguments were to become public knowledge, it would cause our people to hesitate in the face of possible danger. Our Heretical Sense does not discriminate between those that would kill or enslave us on sight and those who would not. It tells us nothing else, Joselyn. Many have wished that it did, that it would only alert us if the creatures we are facing are genuine threats. But it does not. It simply tells us that they are not human. And at the exact same time that we learn that, they are learning that we are the ones who hunt them. They know that we are Heretics. It is the actions in the seconds beyond that moment of identification that are most crucial. If we hesitate then, and the Stranger that we are facing is truly one of the monsters that so many of them are, the best case scenario is that we will die.

“If we teach our students that the creature they’re looking at when that alarm goes off in their head might be perfectly innocent, they will hesitate. They will pause and if that Stranger is not of the innocent variety, our student will be murdered. Or worse, captured and enslaved. Believe me, Joselyn, such a case would be worse than death. So, what do we do when given the choice between sending our students out to potentially kill Strangers who were guilty of no real crime, or sending them out to be massacred by the ones who were guilty, simply because our teachings made them hesitate at the worst possible time? Even worse, if such opinions were to become common knowledge, it would start open fighting between those who believed that way and those who do not. Our students, our people, would be fighting each other instead of the enemies. We wouldn’t be protecting anyone at that point.”

“There has to be a third option,” Joselyn insisted, the fire in her eyes hardly diminished at all. “You wanna know what you do? You find another way. You fix the problem. The Edge isn’t doing its job right. Someone built it, right? So find someone who can fix it. Don’t just accept it because it’s always been that way. You damn well do something about it. You change it! Make it better. It’s magic. Change it so that the damn thing will tell you whether the creature we’re looking at is evil or innocent.”

“If only it were that easy,” Gaia lamented. “We have been searching for a method to do just such a thing for many years, Joselyn. It is not as simple as you may believe. But that does not mean we have given up. If such a solution can be found, it may become possible to change things the way that you wish they would be changed. For now, however, we do the best we can. Those of us who share your opinion have spent many years, decades even, organizing a method of protecting certain communities of Strangers whom we know are truly innocent from our more… enthusiastic companions.”

Blinking once, Joselyn started in surprise. “What, you mean like an underground railroad?”

Gaia chuckled just a little bit. “Of sorts, I suppose. We don’t actually send them anywhere, unless we happen to know of an imminent patrol or investigation within the area. Instead, there are a few of us in positions of authority who simply ensure that such patrols rarely happen within areas where we have sent those innocent Strangers to stay, or that they are carried out by those who share our opinion.”

“You mean you’ve agreed with me this whole time?” Joselyn demanded. “You gave me detention last week just because I said not every Stranger is evil, and now you’re telling me you already knew that?!”

“As I recall, you spent that detention reading a book that you’d been meaning to get to for a long time,” Gaia pointed out mildly. “And I gave you that detention because if I had not, news of it would have reached the headmaster, and you would be in a much worse position. Both of us would be. As it was, when he asked after the situation, I informed him that you had already been punished for the mistake.”

She saw the way the younger, far more impetuous girl’s mouth started to open to blurt that it wasn’t a mistake. But Joselyn stopped herself at the last second, setting her face into an unhappy expression. “There has to be a better way. All that stuff, it’s just temporary, and it’s not enough. There are still innocent people dying. There has to be a way to fix it, to make things better for both sides.”

“Perhaps there is,” Gaia acknowledged. “I truly hope so. But until that solution is found, you must stop presenting yourself as a target. Stop attacking Jonathan. Continuing to draw the Headmaster’s attention by assaulting his son will end very badly for you, and there I cannot protect you from that for long.”

If she was cowed or frightened, Joselyn didn’t show it. “Like I said, Johnny boy had it coming. He’s a bimbo and a thug. He thinks just because his father’s the headmaster, he can do whatever he wants. I don’t let people like that push me, or anyone else around. Her face was set in a determined stare. “And I’ll figure out how to make it so that we don’t have to fight every Stranger we see.” The words were stated flatly and with utter conviction. “I’ll find the way to fix the Heretical Edge.”

“I hope you do, child,” Gaia replied in a soft, barely audible voice.

“I truly hope you do.”

******

October 29th, 2017 (Present Day)

“You’re entirely too soft on that girl,” the man in the luxuriously padded leather armchair announced. “Just like you were too soft on her mother. And we all know how that went, don’t we, Gaia?”

Standing on the other side of the obscenely ornate metal desk, Gaia simply inclined her head. “It’s Headmistress Sinclaire, Counselor Ruthers. I’m sure you of all people recognize the need to respect the title of the office that you personally held for so many years. And as far as Felicity Chambers goes, she was cleared of any wrong-doing by Professors Dare and Kohaku, as well as Runner Kine.”

“All of them your people,” Counselor Ruthers pointed out with a note of disdain in his voice. He was very nearly as old as Gaia was, yet like her, didn’t look anywhere near his age. Indeed, he could have passed for a man in his early forties. His straight brown hair was worn just past his shoulders, while his face resembled a heavyweight boxer who had gone a few too many rounds with people stronger than he was. His nose had been broken repeatedly and now sat a bit off-center in spite of his healing abilities, and his muscular frame had packed on more than a few extra pounds in the time since he’d been an active fighter. Gaia had heard students who met the man for the first time describe him as a bulldog in a fancy suit.

“They’re your people too, Counselor,” she reminded the man. “After all, we are all on the same side.”

The man waved that off. “You know exactly what I’m talking about, G—Headmistress Sinclaire. You’ve gone out of your way to ignore each and every suggestion for new faculty members since you took over that place. I’ve sent you the files for six very qualified candidates to teach there and yet you continue to use the people who don’t know how to do what needs to be done.”

Yes, Gaia thought to herself, I’ve ignored your suggestions. But I’m not stupid enough to believe that you don’t have some of your minions on staff already, even if I don’t know who they all are yet.

Aloud, she simply demurred. “I examine each candidate carefully and make the most informed choice that I can. Your words do carry considerable weight, I assure you.”

They carry all the weight they need to make it from my desk to the garbage can across the room, in fact.

She pressed on before the man could get bogged down on that subject again. “The fact is, as far as we have been able to determine, Felicity is very lucky that she is neither dead, nor a slave of this… Ammon. You know why she’s immune to his power, what it means.”

“Oh do not start with that conspiracy garbage,” Ruthers all but spat. “Atherby regained her memory because your bleeding heart group wouldn’t go all the way with what needed to happen. She got her memory back and went on the run. It’s got nothing to do with any Stranger abducting her, especially not… him.”

“You may disagree with Joselyn Atherby on many issues, Counselor,” Gaia spoke through gritted teeth. “But the very thought that she would abandon her husband and child for over a decade of her own free will is patently absurd.”

The stubborn fool shook his head. “Not if she wanted to keep them out of her little rebellion.”

Restraining the urge to openly sigh, Gaia met his gaze. “If Joselyn returned to her rebellion, why have we not heard from them in years?”

“They got smarter,” Ruthers claimed. “Every set back we’ve encountered, every time one of those damned Strangers gets away when we should have had them, it’s them. They’re still out there, it’s just that they’re quieter now. They know they can’t win an open war, so now they’ve resorted to this petty campaign. But believe me, if you and your softhearted crap keep getting in our way, keep stopping the rest of us from doing the right thing, Atherby and her ilk will tear our whole world apart. They’re too gods damned blind to see the evil right in front of their faces. They’d rather have a tea party with the monsters than kill them, and if they get their way, this whole world will become a damn open buffet for every piece of sub-human trash out there.”

Once again giving thanks to every possible power in the universe that the man had only managed to convince half of his fellow committee members to vote to exclude Felicity from the school (they held an absurd belief that she would function as a spy for her missing mother), Gaia managed, with some effort, not to openly glare at him. “Dismissing the evidence that Ammon is the offspring of Joselyn and the Stranger who abducted her is extremely unwise.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Ruthers put his fist down on the desk hard enough to rattle the random knick-knacks collected there. “Strangers don’t breed with humans. Next you’ll be trying to tell me that you think parrots have been mating with people. This Ammon, if he exists, is obviously one of Atherby’s pet Strangers trying to get a message to their Mistress’s daughter and fucking it up.”

The urge to argue with the man was great, but Gaia resisted. It wouldn’t accomplish anything. “Try to consider the evidence fairly before the committee votes next week,” she replied a bit stiffly. “We need to put resources toward finding Ammon, no matter where he comes from.”

“I agree completely,” Ruthers informed her with a smirk. “We find the kid, we find Atherby. And when we find Atherby, we’ll put an end to this entire charade. She’ll be brought to justice and punished the way she should have been the first time. No more half-measures.”

Taking that as the best she was going to get, Gaia excused herself a moment later and strode from the man’s office. In the hallway she was met by Virginia Dare, who had been waiting patiently for the past hour.

“Any luck?” the blonde woman asked as they started down the corridor.

Gaia shook her head once. “It’s like talking to a brick wall. He’s convinced that Felicity either knows where her mother is, or that Joselyn is trying to communicate with her through Stranger servants.”

Virginia let out a long, low sigh. “Flick knows more than she’s telling us. We have pretty good evidence that a very powerful necromancer was there that night. I think we both know what that means. But she’s not talking. Which means she doesn’t trust us.”

“I don’t blame her,” Gaia replied. “Not after everything that’s happened. Are the Runners any closer to determining who was responsible for Zedekiah’s death?” The loss of Professor Pericles had been a harsh blow.

“They checked the timing again.” Virginia sounded just as tired as Gaia felt. “No change. The murder happened before the shield was brought down. Even if it was possible for someone to get on the island and kill him in that tiny window through some kind of speed awakening, Zedekiah had already been dead for ten minutes by the time the shield came down. And the Pathmaker was shut down at the time, specifically to avoid interfering with the shield recharge. Which means it has to be one of us. Faculty or student, someone who lives at Crossroads killed Zedekiah.”

The two women exchanged sober looks before Virginia asked, “What about those Garden students that came after Avalon? They said something about having a mole on the island. If it wasn’t empty boasting, it’s probably related.”

“Indeed,” Gaia agreed. “And it’s something I would very much like to speak with the three of them about, but their leader is being quite stubborn about the whole affair. I doubt he’s going to let us have a conversation. It’s been… very frustrating.”

Virginia heaved a long sigh before nodding. “I’ll talk to Hisao and see if he can come up with anything subtle. No promises, but he does owe me.”

“Oh, I’m quite certain he does.” Gaia gave the other woman a sidelong look, and was gratified to see her blush.

Clearing her throat then, the headmistress spoke before Virginia was able to find her voice. “We’ll track down the person responsible for Zedekiah’s death, stop whoever is targeting my daughter, and find Joselyn. Once we do, things are going to change. Because Ruthers was absolutely right about one thing in there.

“It’s time to put an end to this entire charade.”

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42 comments

  1. This concludes arc 6, everyone! The subject of this interlude was voted for by donators. Running an extremely close tied second were Miranda and Tribald Kine, so expect to most likely see interludes for them before too long as well.

    Oh, and thanks for every top web fiction vote you guys give! it really is great to see the story up on the list, and the higher we get it/longer we keep it up there, the more exposure the story gets. So thank you all! See you in arc 7.

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  2. Man I love anytime in a story when we get to vote on something. It’s so fun to see a chapter where I actually had a say in what we get. Just think, if I had switched Miranda with Gaia when I made my vote we would be seeing her instead right now (since there was only one point difference)

    Not that I’m unhappy with this chapter of course. I both love getting to see some of Felicity’s Mom and getting to see more of how the school works right now and whose the asshole that screwed over Flick’s Mom. Really glad too that there’s an element of people in the Crossroads who aren’t paranoid racists. I hate when all members of a group get painted with that same brush in any story.

    Here’s hoping Gaia and Dare are planning a revolution of their own.Which the last line kind of seems to imply.

    Ruthers is the worst kind of politician in my mind. Bigoted, close-minded, and happy to ignore any sort of evidence that contradicts his views. I hope he gets what’s coming to him.

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    1. Man I love anytime in a story when we get to vote on something. It’s so fun to see a chapter where I actually had a say in what we get. Just think, if I had switched Miranda with Gaia when I made my vote we would be seeing her instead right now (since there was only one point difference)

      Yup, it really was that close. Actually, before one person switched their votes around close to the end to give Gaia more points it would have been one of the others.

      Really glad too that there’s an element of people in the Crossroads who aren’t paranoid racists. I hate when all members of a group get painted with that same brush in any story.

      My goal here has been (in this case) to show that it isn’t the groups themselves that are right or wrong/bigoted or open minded, but the people within them.

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  3. The plot thickens, we finally get a few more tidbits about Flick’s mum and the headmaster.

    Why do they automatically dismiss the idea that humans can breed with strangers? (other than the species barrier across worlds of course) it seems like it’s not much of a stretch if vampires can vampirise humans there must be some inherent compatibility.

    The reasoning that Flick is a spy for her mum is a bit thin, but not implausibly so, I have heard people in real life hold even more implausible opinions just as fervently.

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    1. Why do they automatically dismiss the idea that humans can breed with strangers? (other than the species barrier across worlds of course) it seems like it’s not much of a stretch if vampires can vampirise humans there must be some inherent compatibility.

      Pretty much the same kind of reasoning that made so many insist that minority races weren’t as intelligent as whites for so long. Though I will note that neither Dare nor Gaia believe that. It’s one of those opinions that needs to be stamped out, which is something Joselyn was attempting to do.

      The reasoning that Flick is a spy for her mum is a bit thin, but not implausibly so, I have heard people in real life hold even more implausible opinions just as fervently.

      He wants it to be true because he hates Joselyn that much.

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  4. Well, I now feel comfortable in labeling Crossroads in general as the “bad guys.” I’m not claiming the organization as a whole is evil, that’s obviously ridiculous. But it now seems clear that between Crossroads and Eden’s Garden, Crossroads has the darker moral shade. The fact that the reformists felt the need to form an Underground Railroad rather than openly challenge the status quo is quite telling, and brings to mind the pre-Civil War American South or Nazi Germany. Although it looks like Gaia’s been planning a more subtle revolution. More power to her.

    All that said, I still do not feel comfortable definitively labeling Eden’s Garden as the “good guys” in this status quo by virtue of the fact that Joselyn apparently tried to start her own faction rather than join up with them. There’s something sinister about the Garden.

    The way Joselyn talks about being “back on the street” if it weren’t for Gaia seems to suggest that she was a Bystander before coming to Crossroads. Odd, given her relation to Seller. Although it would partially explain why she’s at Crossroads instead of the Garden if her branch of the family was separated from Heretic society.

    Does Gaia know that Joselyn and Flick are Seller’s descendants?

    I love how the more sensible Heretics already know or suspect pretty much everything Flick is now hiding from them. Although it makes me think that Flick’s going to wait awhile before following her mom’s advice to trust Gaia, which would be disappointing.

    And finally, it is incredibly ominous that Ruthers didn’t want to speak Fossor’s name out loud. Part of me was thinking that Seller paling at his description in 6-02 had more to do with what he did rather than who he was. The fact that a hardliner like Ruthers is similarly rendered nervous by the thought of him is frightening.

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    1. All that said, I still do not feel comfortable definitively labeling Eden’s Garden as the “good guys” in this status quo by virtue of the fact that Joselyn apparently tried to start her own faction rather than join up with them. There’s something sinister about the Garden.

      Yup, as I said above, my goal was to show that it’s not the organization/school/group itself that’s right or wrong, it’s the people within it.

      Does Gaia know that Joselyn and Flick are Seller’s descendants?

      Yeah.

      And finally, it is incredibly ominous that Ruthers didn’t want to speak Fossor’s name out loud. Part of me was thinking that Seller paling at his description in 6-02 had more to do with what he did rather than who he was. The fact that a hardliner like Ruthers is similarly rendered nervous by the thought of him is frightening.

      Considering the effort the Heretics put into simply BANNING him from the world, only to have him turn the entire population of his own world into a means of bypassing that magical restriction, yeah.

      I’m not sure how clear this was before, but Fossor’s world does still exist and does still have people living and breeding on it. He just snatches them at random whenever he needs a new dead body to play with. Which means it’s not like he’s just going to run out of bodies to pop into ash and walk on. He has billions more where that came from. He’s a necromancer who already WON on his own world and took it over.

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      1. To be honest, Fossor’s description of the way he subverted the curse first made me think that he had wiped out everyone on his homeworld.

        But I more or less figured that he’s actually farming it for souls. It makes more sense. I’m glad and horrified to have my suspicion confirmed.

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  5. Anyone else getting a Dumbledore vs, Fudge vibe here? Hope Gaia makes it out better than Dumbledore. i love that the adults are real amd competent people, instead of the added oastacle. somthing tells me we are only going to be at this school for this 1 year, one way or the other.

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    1. Like I said in the other comment, she reminds me more of the dean, Lilith Grimm, from the Alexandra Quick HP fanfic series.

      The no-nonsense schoolmarm facade, the non-obvious protagonist-favoring political intrigue, while trying to keep her head down in a corrupt system…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. cannonfodder: You might want to give it a go, it’s hadly more fanfiction-ish than Heretical Edge.

        American wizarding school, original cast of characters and backstory… there just also happen to be houselves hanging around and people occasionally say “Avada Kedavra”.

        Like

      2. hmmm, do you have a link or is it on Amazon? is it finished? And does it still have those mega racist weird overtones like HP? (seriously how do ynu not know how Muggles live, you live right next to then?! and why stick solely to magic when Muggle tech seems more advanced in some areas at least? lol)

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      3. cannonfodder:

        It’s organized into “novels”, with the first four published and the fifth mostly written and unpublished out of seven planned.

        https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3964606/29/Alexandra-Quick-and-the-Thorn-Circle

        Yes, muggle-muggleborn-pureblood dynamics are heavily investigated in it, particularly in comparison to american racism. (That’s one thing that made me think of it from this chapter, and generally from the sinister underlying culture of the heretics).

        Like

  6. Nice work on the usage of “bimbo”.

    – “What, you mean like an underground railroad?”

    This line made me thinking if maybe Crossroads is finding it increasingly hard to maintain it’s propaganda.

    A few decades before this scene, during the time of the actual Underground Railroad, they could have easily fished for candidates from the overwhelming majority of the population who accepted that anyone who doesn’t look like them is subhuman.

    By Joselyn’s time, people who ran the Underground Railroad were historical heroes, but it was still a time when the majority would have accepted that indiscriminately rounding up a whole ethnicity can be necessary for self-defense, even if a necessary evil.

    By Flick’s time, any teenager could tell that “I was just following orders” is the WRONG excuse, and that treating whole races as the enemy is something that you would expect to come from Magneto, or Voldemort, or Donald Drumpf.

    Even more importantly, they have swathes of media that specifically expands that principle for fantasy races. Flick was already making references to a certain show that had vampires with souls in it. Do the heretic-born also watch Bystander TV? I guess they do, given that their speech is up to date…

    That must have a huge impact on the old regime sounding more and more obviously evil to every new year’s pack of kids. If anything, it’s a miracle that they only got caught up in that one prejudice, and apparently managed to keep up with all of the more mundane social revolutions, with many of them being hundreds of years old.

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    1. Cerulean, have you ever read the Alexandra Quick series?

      It’s a HP fanfic novel series, original location, original cast, and it shows some remarkable similarities with Heretical Edge, particularly what seems to be the overarching plot, and the moral tone, but also some specific details like the Headmistress’s characterization.

      (If you didn’t, but you like to read the kind of stuff that you write, then you might want to. Though fair warning, there is a disturbing lack of lesbians in it 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Yeah I was confused with the bimbo thing as well. Was it used differently in the 1920s, or was that just a sad attempt at feminism by the author? Honestly I’ve never understood the various groups that think everyone’s out to get them complaining about words like bimbo. I’ve never seen a guy getting outraged when some guy was called a dickhead or something along those lines that is only used for guys. If it was such an attempt, it really feels out of place for the 20s… pretty sure feminism in its modern form didn’t even exist then, certainly not to the degree of women hunting down any little minute infraction those evil men made against their view of the way things should be, like gender-specific insults pointed at them instead of someone else.

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      1. According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word Bimbo originally meant “foolish male” and the earliest known English use of it was as American slang in 1918.

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      2. “pretty sure feminism in its modern form didn’t even exist then, certainly not to the degree of women hunting down any little minute infraction those evil men made against their view”

        Well, it didn’t exist in it’s CURRENT forms, they were called “suffragettes” back then, and they certainly wouldn’t have been hunting down any little infractions, but that’s becase they were too busy sending mail bombs and setting buildings on fire.

        Be glad that you are alive now when they are being nice.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. lol Curulean explained the bimbo thing in the secound coment om this chapter. hmmmm, though xou might have a point to the fememism accusation, all of the women are some order of badass. while all the men have been either blah or assholes. personally, i dont think it is anything personal against us men, i just assumed that Cerulean is a woman and is just writing from a more comfortable angle. though im not sure why Seller gets dubbed a coward when Gaia abandoned Captain Massagemist too.

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      4. i dont think it is anything personal against us men, i just assumed that Cerulean is a woman and is just writing from a more comfortable angle. though im not sure why Seller gets dubbed a coward when Gaia abandoned Captain Massagemist too.

        Nope, not a woman. And it’s nothing against men.

        Seller gets deemed a coward because the Nobleman told him to take GAIA with him and escape. He instead ran off without her.

        And Gaia had no idea how to fight back then. Staying where she was would have made her a liability and forced the nobleman to waste his time protecting her, splitting his attention. Leaving was the best thing she could do.

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      5. Yeah I was confused with the bimbo thing as well. Was it used differently in the 1920s, or was that just a sad attempt at feminism by the author?

        Read the tags, it’s already explained. Or just try using Google for two seconds instead of taking it as another excuse to throw shade.

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      6. @Cerulean. Ooops sorry my bad bro, you know what they say about assumption lol. As to Gaia being a liability and needing to leave the battlefield to give Senor Suave less to worry about. im pretty sure the same could be applied to Seller needing to abandon her. unless he had super strength she would slow him down ay a huge margin, making the possibility of escape that much less. the fact that he hesitated and stuck aroumd for a bit shows he dient make the choice lightly. If you are able, saving people IS brave, noble and just. but if you cant all your efforts will do is add to the death toll. it might have aeen really cold but Seller seemed to kmw his limitations and made the best decision. and i kinda think that there is a kind of twisted bravery in not playing the hero when you know you cant.

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    3. Even more importantly, they have swathes of media that specifically expands that principle for fantasy races. Flick was already making references to a certain show that had vampires with souls in it. Do the heretic-born also watch Bystander TV? I guess they do, given that their speech is up to date…

      Indeed. The issue is that there ARE plenty of evil/vicious/nasty Strangers, even vampires and other beings like that, for the students to run into. Mostly because the ones that are good don’t tend to make themselves known as much. So by the time they graduate, most have already associated Strangers with evil because it’s been drilled into them for so long, their classmates believe it, their family’s believe it, they’ve SEEN plenty of evil Strangers, etc etc etc.

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      1. Still, people regularly jump ship from fundamentalist religions, radical ideologies, and such, even when the whole community is trying to shelter them from outside influence.

        It must be even harde to stop them when they get a yearly infusion of outside-socialized kids whose most formative years can’t be fully overwritten, and who are also more familiar with the basic checklist of answers to the queston: “Wait a minute, am I in a cult?”

        i’m just saying that Joselyn would have needed to be extraordinarily open-minded and rebellious, to draw the same conclusions, that are a lot more accessible to Flick by the virtue of her being a millenial.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Still, people regularly jump ship from fundamentalist religions, radical ideologies, and such, even when the whole community is trying to shelter them from outside influence.

        Yup, and in this case, when they do, Gaia attempts to keep track of and guide them quietly. She is the headmistress, but the committee can overrule her with a vote. So she’s been working on getting people into positions where they can influence such votes or even potentially be on the committee itself.

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  7. I fucking love Joselyn. All of my yes.

    On to specific quotes that I found particularly interesting!

    If those very few of us who believe this way were to be open with those beliefs

    I can’t remember if we’ve been told how recent a thing Eden’s Garden is – but since it’s a legitimate competitor to Crossroads in the present day, a far cry from ‘very few’, things have obviously changed a LOT in the century between the two halves of this interlude. (That, or Gaia was lying about how widespread the opinion was for some reason, although I think it’s much more likely that Joselyn personally spearheaded the move to popularise the idea.)

    Strangers don’t breed with humans.

    I literally don’t know how he’s managed to maintain this view… is what I’d like to say, but sadly I can imagine it. Ruthers certainly never stopped to talk to any vampire, who could have told him that their entire species is the result of Strangers breeding with humans, because he was too busy killing the shit out of them. Any hybrids hiding among the Heretic population (like Shiori and that eidetic memory girl whose name I can’t remember) would have been too scared to speak up and correct his view in case it brought scrutiny down on them. (Although I’m surprised not one tried to bring it up subtly – “This Stranger I was killing the shit out of mentioned something about its family, and we found this guy and a kid that looked exactly like him and had weird powers. We totally killed them too, though, and didn’t spirit them away to some safe house or anything, nuh uh.”)

    Wow, though. I mean, maybe we’ve seen a disproportionate number of hybrids, but it doesn’t seem to be that uncommon. I suspect that Ruthers’ faction has some kind of interest in maintaining the story that Strangers can’t breed with humans, because otherwise it doesn’t seem that important an issue to stick on. Maybe it’s just because it literally humanises their greatest enemies they’ve been conducting a genocide on.

    one of Atherby’s pet Strangers

    I’m taking this to mean that Joselyn’s rebellion actively incorporates Strangers as part of their number (and why not, if they’re fighting against their oppression). I can’t remember if Eden’s Garden goes so far as to do that – I remember they were willing to work with them in some cases, but I think they’re a Heretic-only operation. So Joselyn went even further away from Crossroads philosophy than Eden’s Garden did.

    Well! That was one hell of an interlude.

    (And how far Gaia’s come from when we first saw her and Seller!)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t remember if we’ve been told how recent a thing Eden’s Garden is – but since it’s a legitimate competitor to Crossroads in the present day, a far cry from ‘very few’, things have obviously changed a LOT in the century between the two halves of this interlude.

      She was specifically referring to Crossroads heretics because that’s what Joselyn was trying to change/challenge.

      . I suspect that Ruthers’ faction has some kind of interest in maintaining the story that Strangers can’t breed with humans, because otherwise it doesn’t seem that important an issue to stick on. Maybe it’s just because it literally humanises their greatest enemies they’ve been conducting a genocide on.

      Yup. If there can be children made, that opens the door to there being humanity within Strangers. Plus it throws up the question of what to do with hybrids, so it’s just ‘easier’ to assume they’re all full Strangers. Which are totally not what Heretics are, nosiree.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This chapter kinda made me hate Gaia. I mean, now we see clearly what the revolution was about and that she knew that they were right. We already more or less knew that before, but now it’s completely confirmed and we see that she’s going to fight against it NOW even despite her earlier objections, and having no solution to them.

    So basically she just let Joselyn be banned, kidnapped, and turned into a mind-controlled sex slave because she didn’t want to risk HERSELF. Since, you know, her current plan to rebel apparently still risks everyone else, just now she’s finally willing to put herself on the line.

    Honestly, the whole justification for not telling Heretics that strangers aren’t all evil is pretty wish-washy, just like all that sort of logic. Because they might hesitate? Really? I mean, wow. The central fallacy here obviously (beyond the whole, ‘it’s totally okay to murder loads of innocents as long as you catch a few bad guys in the mix’ thing) is that the Heretics are at a disadvantage. That their hesitation spells certain doom. However while that may be true for the newbies, it’s certainly not for the veterans given the way the world’s been laid out. There has been no indication at all that the Strangers have any sort of similar ability absorption power. That means that, inevitably, the veteran Heretics will massively outclass more or less every Stranger they run into after a decade or two of hunting.

    Their reasoning is just weak. Sure, the newbies will be at a disadvantage against the most powerful Strangers. That’s why you have the school in the first place, to power level them to the point where they can take on most of what they face. I really don’t see the logic in this world for Heretics being afraid of Strangers to the point where they allow it to drive them to moral depravity… if anything it should be the other way around. Certainly none of the people like the Headmistress who sat on the sidelines of the rebellion can be forgiven for what appears to be pure cowardice at this point, not without some pretty impressive reasoning explained at a later date.

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    1. So basically she just let Joselyn be banned, kidnapped, and turned into a mind-controlled sex slave because she didn’t want to risk HERSELF. Since, you know, her current plan to rebel apparently still risks everyone else, just now she’s finally willing to put herself on the line.

      You haven’t seen the whole story that led to Joselyn being made human or what Gaia attempted to do to stop that from happening. And it’s quite a jump from ‘left as a normal human that no one should be able to find or endanger’ to ‘enslaved by a massively evil necromancer bastard a couple decades later.’ You also don’t know what she’s done in the meantime. Conclusions have been polevaulted toward, in this case.

      Certainly none of the people like the Headmistress who sat on the sidelines of the rebellion can be forgiven for what appears to be pure cowardice at this point, not without some pretty impressive reasoning explained at a later date.

      Or Gaia knew that should such open rebellion fail and she was taken away, it would leave ONLY the hardliners to teach new Heretics and thus any attempt at change would never happen. Better to be subtle and find similar minded Heretics as students, gradually moving them into positions of power so that real change can be affected.

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  9. Well well. A LOT of information here. Crossroads/Heretic culture continues to be less and less rosy/wholesome the further we delve into it. Ruthers is extremely resistant to critical thinking as well it seems.

    Re: Joselyn-
    Hmm. She was/is rather radical in her views as a Heretic, and that caused quite a bit of friction back in the day. It also reinforces how…petty or grudge-holding the committee is. Seriously, looking to punish her daughter for her having views that don’t like, going decades back? I’ve seen more control of emotions in 5 year olds.

    “Next you’ll be trying to tell me that you think parrots have been mating with people. This Ammon, if he exists, is obviously one of Atherby’s pet Strangers trying to get a message to their Mistress’s daughter and fucking it up.””
    Me: …

    This video says it all.

    Anyway, a very, very good update.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. lol, I think that video sums it up pretty well, yes.

      Anyway, a very, very good update.

      Thanks! I’m glad the interlude came off well, since people have been wanting to see something from Gaia.

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