Facing Evil 11-05

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“Koren!” I blurted in spite of myself. As worn out (not so much tired as… emotionally and mentally exhausted) as I was after the events of the past half hour, my anger shot to the surface. “You can’t do that. Don’t you get it? That piece of shit knows how to get past the shield. Everyone but us is vulnerable. You can’t just leave everyone else in danger by withholding crucial information like that.”

A guilty flush crossed the girl’s face before she retorted, “I—of course I know that! But my parents—what do you think I’m supposed to do when you people are keeping secrets from me that have to do with some mind controlling psychopath that might go after my parents? Seeing what that piece of shit did when he went in the lighthouse, it’s the only thing I’ve got to make you tell me the fucking truth!”

I realized what she was doing then. She was scared. Koren was terrified, and doing the only thing she could think of to try to keep her family safe, with her usual… personality. What I’d reflexively thought was a callous threat to get gossip out of the situation was actually her fear-fueled desperation talking. She hadn’t thought through the threat at all. She’d just seen that she had information we wanted, and were withholding information about the danger her family was in. She wasn’t that callous, just scared.

Still, I half-expected Gaia to chew her out. This wasn’t the right situation to withhold information like that, or even to threaten to do so. Yes, Koren had reason to be angry and frightened about what was going on, and why it involved her family somehow. But threatening the safety of the school was wrong.

Not that, to be fair, I had a lot of room to talk. I couldn’t begin to guess how I would react in the same situation. Hell, was I that different? I already knew I’d place finding my mother over obeying Crossroads rules. Maybe I shouldn’t judge so quickly. Especially when it came to something like this.

Instead of disciplining her, however, the headmistress just spoke her name quietly. “Koren.” When the girl reluctantly looked at her, Gaia continued. “You are correct. We ask too much of you to turn around and hide something this important. The danger that we put you in even at the best of times is too much for us to keep secrets from you that pertain to your family. If you can be trusted to put your life in danger to protect others, then you can certainly be trusted to know the truth about those closest to you. So I will tell you. I give you my word on that. But first, you must explain what you saw in there.”

Given that promise and the opportunity to back down without losing face, Koren swallowed hard. “I—okay, I’ll tell you. But it’s probably easier if I show you. He did, um, something with the light thing.”

I started to step that way, to go to the lighthouse with her. But the headmistress raised a hand to stop me. “Felicity,” she said quietly. “There will be an investigation. You cannot be seen as part of it.”

My eyes widened at that, and I blurted, “What—but–what are you talking about? He was here for–”

“I know,” she interrupted, her voice soft, yet regretful. “And I will share everything that I can with you, as soon as possible. You have my word on that. But our security personnel already contacted the BSR as soon as they realized something was wrong and that they had been deliberately sent away by Professor Kohaku. They are on their way, and the investigators they send will not see things as you and I do. You are witnesses and intended victims. The Runners will insist on thoroughly debriefing you. Which means that you and Shiori should take this time to rest, recover, and… organize your thoughts.”

Right, she didn’t want the Runners coming in and finding their ‘witness’ investigating the same thing they were. If that ended up on the report that made it to Ruthers’ desk, and he was given any kind of proof that I actually knew what was going on, that I knew this was about my mother’s true history and all the hidden secrets that entailed… well, it’d give him even more ammunition to use against Gaia.

Flinching, I glanced toward the other girl. Shiori was still shivering in spite of the temperature shield, her eyes open, yet downcast. I could see something in her gaze, obvious horror at her complete inability to stop herself from following Ammon’s orders. Her eyes were haunted and wet from unshed tears.

Gaia went on. “Go to the underclassmen lounge. I already sent Columbus there with fresh clothes and blankets for you both. Mr. Gerardo,” she added toward Sean. “Would you please accompany them, then visit the kitchens for some hot chocolate?” Finally, she added, “Once I finish speaking with Miss Fellows, I will send her along so that you may have your own conversation. She can tell you everything that she shows me. There will be no secrets from you, I promise. Not when it comes to this situation.”

I didn’t like it, but for Shiori’s sake, I nodded. Taking the other girl by the hand, I started to walk that way with Sean on my other side. Vulcan trotted next to the other girl, letting her rest a hand on his back for support. We walked, and the I looked toward the boy once we were halfway to the other building. “How’d you know what was going on? I mean, you sent Vulcan ahead, so you knew it was Ammon.”

He nodded. “Yeah, Columbus was working on this telescope… thing. Trust me, it’s better if he shows you. Anyway, we sort of snuck out to get up to the roof so we could test it and saw you come running out of the other dorm. Figured out who the kid you were chasing had to be from what happened with Koren. So I sent Vulcan out there after you while Columbus and I went to make sure Avalon was okay. The headmistress was there, having this… let’s just say pissing off her or Kohaku is a really god damn bad idea, okay? I’m talking, given the choice between going mano a mano with another Amarok or fighting one of those two, bring on the big bad wolf.” Belatedly, he added, “Oh, and your uh, room is gonna need to be rebuilt. And, uh, several other rooms. And the hallway. And the… It’s a real mess.”

“But Avalon’s okay?” The question didn’t come from me, but from Shiori. Her head had snapped up at that. “Nothing… bad happened to her, right? And… what about Rebecca?” Her expression was guilty again, as if her not being in the room might have had anything to her roommate possibly getting hurt.

Even hearing the question made me want to go sprinting off to check for myself. The memory of Avalon… Avalon of all people being under Ammon’s control, of the fact that he had been alone with her, that they’d had a conversation (one in which she had apparently been ‘rude’ to him), made me sick. It made me want to scream, made me want to go after Ammon again and just… just beat the evil little piece of shit into the ground for everything he’d done. I wanted to make him pay for everyone he hurt.

In the end, only two things stopped me from going off to find Avalon to make sure she was safe for myself. The first was the fact that I wasn’t exactly sure what would happen if I showed up there and any of the girls woke up and wasn’t cleared of Ammon’s mind control. Yeah, it seemed to clear up after people were unconscious, but testing it right then seemed like a bad idea. And the second thing stopping me from leaving was that Avalon was asleep, while Shiori was awake. After what Ammon had done to her, what he almost made her do, leaving Shiori alone was probably the absolute worst idea.

“Oh yeah, they’re all fine,” Sean assured her. “Gaia was holding off Professor Kohaku, and protecting all the girls. While, you know, making sure they didn’t leave the building. They were looking for you, Flick. Being really damn insistent about it too. The baroness, she uh, she was pretty amazing. Kept switching her attention between protecting and containing everyone else, and dealing with Kohaku.”

We reached the lounge by then, and I went in with Shiori while Sean moved on to pick up the hot chocolate. As soon as we entered, Columbus turned away from the television and stepped over quickly. “Shiori!” he blurted, sounding terrified. “What the hell happened? I went to look for you, but you weren’t in the hall with the others. I thought—I didn’t know what—I mean… what—how–” The poor guy was trying to ask so many questions all at once that they kept getting jammed up on one another.

“She’s okay,” I told him. “Physically anyway. There’s no—it’s a long story. Ammon told her to drown herself. We had a little incident in the ocean. But she’s okay. You’re okay, Shiori. He’s gone now.”

“Drown herself?” For a moment, I thought the boy was actually going to storm out of the building and go after Ammon himself somehow. His face contorted in anger, and he made a few frustrated noises before turning around and lashing out to punch the nearby wall with his closed fist. “Son of a bitch!”

As soon as the words left his mouth, he seemed to realize what he’d said and flushed guiltily. “I mean–” He cringed a bit, head shaking rapidly. “Sorry. Sorry. That was a really bad choice of words.”

“It’s okay,” I managed a bit weakly, my throat painfully dry as I fought to find the right words, words that would make him feel even a little bit better. “I know what you meant. Trust me, I’m pissed off too.”

Together, Columbus and I led Shiori past the enormous tropical fish tank that took up most of one of the walls. On the way, I glanced toward the occupants, thinking about the sharks that had saved our lives. I’d promised to go back soon and visit them. And I would, as soon as I had the chance. Something about the way they had all acted more like loyal puppies than perfectly evolved killing machines made me feel not quite as scared of them as I had been before. They were almost cute, in a really deadly way.

And to be fair, as a Heretic, my house was made of a bit too much glass for me to start throwing stones when it came to things that were supposed to be perfect killing machines. At least they did it to eat.

We sat down on one of the couches, and I let the other girl slump against me. Yeah, we were still soaked through. But at that point, I didn’t really care about getting the couch wet. It would dry. Or they could replace it. Or use magic. Whatever. After everything that had happened, they could spare a couch.

A few seconds of silence passed before Shiori spoke up quietly. “I’m sorry.” Her voice shook as she repeated herself. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. If I hadn’t been there, if I hadn’t given him a target to use against you, you could’ve stopped him. You almost had him. I didn’t know what was going on, and he… he was there. He… I’m sorry.” Her voice broke, cracking a bit as she shook her head. “I screwed up, and he escaped because you were too busy saving me to stop him. He got away because of me.”

Flinching, I glanced to Columbus before looking back to her. “Shiori, look at me. I don’t care. I’d let a thousand Ammons walk away before I’d abandon you. Ammon will show up somewhere again. He can’t help himself. There will be other chances to stop him, to catch him. But there’s only one Shiori.”

The two of us locked eyes then, and in that exact moment I remembered what had happened under the water. She had been close to gone, no air and no chance to get more in time. I’d panicked, desperately needing to give her oxygen. And then I’d… my face turned pink at almost the same time as hers.

“Clothes!” Columbus abruptly blurted, straightening to move to a nearby table where a bundle sat. “Gaia had me bring over dry clothes for you guys. I—huh. I wonder how she knew you’d be so wet.”

He brought over our clothes, as well as a few towels, then stepped out of the room for a couple of minutes while the two of us hurriedly dried off and changed. Being in dry clothes actually helped me feel a lot better. Even it was technically just a little thing, the fact that I wasn’t wearing stuff that was soaked through in ocean water made me feel like that whole horrible situation really was over.

Once we were changed, I looked toward Shiori. “I meant what I said before. I know you feel guilty, that you feel bad now. But don’t. Because the fact that I have people that I care about, people like you? That’s what makes me different from Ammon. Empathy. Friends. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Her mouth opened and shut again before she managed, “But everyone he hurts now, everyone he kills because I was in the way… because I let him use me as a hostage so he could escape, that’s all my–”

“Don’t.” I warned her, stepping that way. “It’s not your fault. If Ammon hurts anyone else, that’s his fault. His and his father’s, not yours. You can’t try to shoulder that burden, Shiori. I won’t let you.”

Before the other girl could say anything else, the door opened, and Columbus came back in. He held the door open for Sean, who came through with a tray of not just mugs full of piping hot deliciousness, but also what looked like little cinnamon rolls. “Thought you guys might be hungry after your… swim.”

Taking one of the mugs, I blew on it like the little wuss I was before taking a sip. The hot liquid felt unbelievably good just then, and I shuddered a little. Then I focused on the boys. “When you guys were over there, did you see the twins? Sands and Scout, the… she was shooting, and I sort of sent Koren in to make her stop before she did anything too bad. I hope she didn’t—I mean, Scout’s okay, right?”

“Uh, yeah. I hope so.” Columbus looked guilty. “It wasn’t Koren that stopped her. I did. I mean, she was working on it, but I sort of shot them both with these things.” He gestured to the goggles. “It was the fastest way to stop them before they did something they’d regret. Then the headmistress did something to make them stay down, and I made sure they were comfortable. I just hope they’re back to themselves when they wake up, because I do not want those two pissed at me for blasting them.”

“Anyway,” he finished, “Koren took off as soon as Scout wasn’t shooting at anyone anymore.”

Sean nodded. “I guess that’s how she had time to catch up with Ammon and see what he did in the lighthouse.” When Columbus started to demand to know what that meant, the boy shook his head in mock resignation. “I’m sorry, man. But if you hang out in the game room all day, you’ll miss stuff.”

That left Columbus sputtering about Gaia and towels and clean clothes for a moment. And, I noticed, had the obviously intended effect of making Shiori smile just a little bit. It looked adorable, as she held the hot chocolate against her mouth and smiled with her front teeth slightly biting the lip of the mug.

I gave the Hispanic boy a quick smile of my own before clearing my throat. “I hope Koren gets here soon. I uh, I guess I get to tell her she’s my niece now? That’s gonna be an interesting conversation.”

The door opened then, and I thought it was pretty good timing on Koren’s part at first. Instead, however, the man who stood in the doorway was one of the staff that I didn’t have much experience with. He was just under six feet, a man with a face that was handsome and rugged in sort of a distinguished middle aged sort of way. The guy looked like Liam Neeson in those Taken movies.

I had to think for a minute before remembering his name. Peterson. Peterson Neal, the head of ‘student affairs’, whatever that meant. I’d never seen the man do anything other than stand around, and occasionally take a phone call or tell a student to hurry up and get to class. He wasn’t a conversationalist.

“Chambers,” he addressed me directly. “They’re ready to talk to you.” Beckoning with two fingers, he pivoted and left the room again, letting the door shut behind him.

Shit. I sighed, then looked to the others. “When Koren gets here, just… promise her I’ll explain when I get back. And wish me luck?”

Shiori caught my hand. “Thanks,” she murmured. “Thanks for saving me. I… I know what it cost you.”

After bracing myself to explain to the Runners what had happened, without telling them more than I had to, I made my way into the hall. “So who am I meeting this time? Is it Runner Kine again?”

Peterson just shook his head, gesturing the other way while another voice spoke. “No, Miss Chambers. I thought I’d get my information straight from the source this time.”

I looked that way, and found myself looking at a face I’d seen in several pictures already, a face that made me freeze up, quips disappearing.

“So I thought we could chat,” Gabriel Ruthers announced. “Just you and me.

“One on one.”

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28 comments

  1. Well there you are, guys, another chapter down. Hope you enjoyed it. Even if it did leave off where it did…

    Anyway, thanks to a special donation/commission request, we will be having another mini-interlude at some point as soon as possible. This one will be centered on Scout. So look forward to that coming next week. I’m getting ready to move across the country, so I’m not sure when exactly I’ll get it out. But it is coming soon. I promise you that.

    As always, if you’d like to vote (or renew your vote, as they do expire after 7 days) for this story on Top Web Fiction, you can do so here. And even if not, hey, use TWF to find a story you enjoy even more. You can click that link and then click ‘top web fiction’ in the top left instead of clicking vote now to get to the list without actually adding a vote. You know, if you prefer not to for whatever reason. I’m easy.

    Today’s tags, for people on mobile are: Columbus Porter, Felicity Chambers, Flick, Gabriel Ruthers, Gaia Sinclaire, Koren Fellows, Peterson Neal, Peterson Neal: Because Calling Him Buttmonkey McRuthersstooge Was Too On The Nose., Sean Gerardo, Shiori Porter, Vulcan, What? Did You Think We Were Done With The Point Of The Arc’s Title?

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  2. What? Did You Think We Were Done With The Point Of The Arc’s Title?

    I didn’t. I thought Fossor would show up at first. Then when Ammon left so quickly I realized Ruthers would show up.

    Speaking of which, I’m reasonably sure he’s not supposed to be doing this, that he’s either breaking or bending rules to interrogate Flick.

    The next chapter will likely make or break my opinion of the bastard. It will either reignite the hatred I previously had for him or make him a little more interesting, and thus more bearable.

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    1. The next chapter will likely make or break my opinion of the bastard. It will either reignite the hatred I previously had for him or make him a little more interesting, and thus more bearable.

      The next chapter should definitely be interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. O,O

        I really, really hope this means that he’s going to defy my expectations. But so far he’s only managed to do that by being even worse than I was expecting him to be. I figure he’s either going to spend the next chapter threatening (and maybe beating) Flick, or start trying to bring her around to his way of thinking.

        I’m hoping it’s the latter because, as I said, that would be so much more interesting than just watching him rapidly rant the way he did in Gaia’s interlude. Your comment raised my hopes that something else will happen, but I shoved them back down because I’ve learned my lesson: Always assume the worst of Ruthers.

        He definitely won’t be trying to figure out if she’s a spy because he’s already decided that she is.

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  3. “Belatedly, he added, “Oh, and your uh, room is gonna need to be rebuilt. And, uh, several other rooms. And the hallway. And the… It’s a real mess.””
    Me: Might as well say the entire building will need extensive reconstruction.

    “Something about the way they had all acted more like loyal puppies than perfectly evolved killing machines made me feel not quite as scared of them as I had been before. They were almost cute, in a really deadly way.”
    Me: I getting a “Halping?” feeling about those sharks.

    “A few seconds of silence passed before Shiori spoke up quietly. “I’m sorry.” Her voice shook as she repeated herself. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry. If I hadn’t been there, if I hadn’t given him a target to use against you, you could’ve stopped him. You almost had him. I didn’t know what was going on, and he… he was there. He… I’m sorry.” Her voice broke, cracking a bit as she shook her head. “I screwed up, and he escaped because you were too busy saving me to stop him. He got away because of me.””
    Me: I’m not entirely convinced of that. I think he would have come up with something else even if Shiori had not been there.

    “The guy looked like Liam Neeson in those Taken movies.”
    Me: Hah! Well, he does have a particular set of skills…

    “I looked that way, and found myself looking at a face I’d seen in several pictures already, a face that made me freeze up, quips disappearing.

    “So I thought we could chat,” Gabriel Ruthers announced. “Just you and me.

    “One on one.””
    Me: Hm. Not unexpected. Those last words have me more than a bit on edge though. I’m wondering what tack Ruthers is going to take here- Paternalistic and guiding (good luck trying to inculcate your poisonous worldview on Flick) or hard-line authoritarian.

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    1. Me: Might as well say the entire building will need extensive reconstruction.

      Pretty much.

      Me: I getting a “Halping?” feeling about those sharks.

      *snickers*

      Me: I’m not entirely convinced of that. I think he would have come up with something else even if Shiori had not been there.

      Definitely.

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  4. The son of a bitch comment cracked me up, that is so totally something that would happen to me in that situation.

    So it looks like at least one backdoor into the school will be uncovered now. I suspect that Ammon is going to learn that even no consequences days have exceptions. The more I think about it though the more I suspect this was perhaps Felicity’s Mom’s plan all along. Tell the impulsive kid the secret so he will use it and reveal it so she can’t be forced to use it for an even worse reason in the future.

    I hope everyone starts to carry ear plugs with them. Ammon’s power is crazy powerful only if you are not prepared for it. I wonder if it would be possible to make enchanted ear plugs that would let in all sounds except his activation phrase.

    Scout’s chapter has me giddy with anticipation =)

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    1. The son of a bitch comment cracked me up, that is so totally something that would happen to me in that situation.

      Yeah, that actually came out pretty naturally. Originally he just said it without me thinking about what it meant. Then I realized the implication and started to change it. But, you know, it made sense that it would come out like that.

      So it looks like at least one backdoor into the school will be uncovered now. I suspect that Ammon is going to learn that even no consequences days have exceptions. The more I think about it though the more I suspect this was perhaps Felicity’s Mom’s plan all along. Tell the impulsive kid the secret so he will use it and reveal it so she can’t be forced to use it for an even worse reason in the future.

      That would be pretty sneaky of her.

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    2. Yeah, the Heretics made a huge fuss earlier in the school year about how their real powers aren’t based in moment-to-moment magic, it’s their artificing and prep-work that gives them an edge. So it wouldn’t surprise me if within a week the school is equipped with a ward that mutes anyone who tries to say “My name is Ammon” and every Heretic has an enchanted item that selectively prevents the user from hearing the word “Ammon”.

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  5. Well, that was dumb of her. Yes, it was a life/death situation, yes I’m perfectly willing to cut her some slack for it, but Gaia told her to go talk with Shiori and get the story straight that they were going to tell. She didn’t and now is kind of screwed.

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    1. They didn’t exactly have time to say that much beyond getting each other caught up on what actually happened. Gaia was expecting them to have more than they got, because she wasn’t expecting Ruthers to show up personally. It’s not really ‘dumb’ to not be absolutely perfect. It was a nasty, terrible situation. Shiori was still recovering from being forced to nearly drown herself. Is it really that surprising that they might need a few minutes to recover?

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  6. Hmm, looks like we’re on pace for yet another wham moment or two with the fallout from Ammon’s attack, not just in how it’s going to affect everyone, but because Ruthers is finally sticking his head in because he wants to personally talk to Flick about what just happened.

    At least Flick & Gaia were able to talk some sense into Koren, though it seems we’re going to have to wait a while to find out just what she saw Ammon doing between Flick & Shiori being sent off because it’d look bad if Flick was poking around a ‘crime scene’ for an incident she’s personally involved in, and Ruthers deciding it’s time to meet Flick personally.

    Interesting talk between Flick, Shiori, Columbus, & Sean- definitely brought some serious feels where it came to Shiori- girl’s definitely going to need some help getting through this. Though things could be even more awkward with the twins because Columbus had to shoot them before Gaia could put them under. And not surprised that the battle caused by Ammon stirring everyone up pretty much trashed that floor of the dorm.

    Though things are going to get even worse for Flick, as this mess has come to Ruthers’ personal attention & he wants to have a private chat with her.

    Flick’s pretty screwed here, as she already knows too many things, has done stuff the more orthodox heretics would disapprove of, and has some rather heretical ideas for a Heretic, when he already has his suspicions & agenda. If Flick comes clean, it’ll get a lot of people in trouble & confirm his suspicions that Flick is a spy/infiltrator looking to pick up where Joselyn left off (which, TBF, Flick’s experiences since coming to Crossroads have pointed her in that direction,) yet Ruthers would probably be able to tell if Flick’s trying to BS him or holding something back, even if he doesn’t have any abilities that’d compel someone to be truthful & forthcoming, which would also go badly for Flick.

    Plus, since they’re alone, Ruthers’ would be able to spin the discussion however he wanted & it’d be his word as the respected member of the Committee against the word of a student whom a lot of the faculty had misgivings about because she’s the daughter of the ‘great traitor’ who led the rebellion, and it’s unlikely that a more objective third party who’d at least keep Ruthers honest, such as the Headmistress, Professor Dare, or perhaps Runner Kine is going to get a chance to sit in, let alone be Flick’s advocate here.

    So, the $64,000 question of the day is whether Flick’s going to be good enough to tell the partial truth in a way that won’t get anyone else in trouble convincingly enough for Ruthers to accept it, because if she can’t she’s going to be in a lot more trouble.

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    1. I honestly think what Ruthers is doing isn’t official. As in, I think he’s overstepping boundaries or bending/breaking protocol to be doing this. Mostly because of this tag:

      Peterson Neal: Because Calling Him Buttmonkey McRuthersstooge Was Too On The Nose.

      This makes me think that he’s going behind his colleagues’ backs to do this. If were something official and within established protocols he wouldn’t need a stooge to bring her in. Plus, it’s already established that Gabriel “Asshat” Ruthers is willing to act without Committee consensus.

      If I’m right, the unoffical nature of this interrogation may hurt the credibility of any “evidence” he gleams out of it in the eyes of the more rational members of the Committee.

      Frankly, I’m expecting the next chapter to mostly be Ruthers making threats rather than actually debriefing her. After all, he’s already made up his mind is enough of a fanatic that out-there concepts like “reality” and “facts” don’t matter to him.

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  7. Being able to summon local sharks is kinda neat, but it’s incredibly niche.Seems like Flick really lost out on the chance to get something far more useful–like being able to breathe underwater, or the ability to make the wounds she inflicts harder to recover from, or being able to sense electricity/bio-electrical reactions from a long distance away, or a powerful sense of smell, etc.

    Think about it: how often could Flick possibly find herself operating in the ocean? And of those times, how often would there be sharks nearby enough to be able to make it in time to help? And how many of those situations would be ones where the ability to, say, breathe underwater wouldn’t be just as helpful (or more helpful, or even almost as helpful)?

    Anyway, it’s time for the Ruthers talk. Was kind of expecting this, given what Ammon did (and how blatantly he did it), and how there’s basically no way to cover up that Ammon was targeting Flick. Still, I imagine Gaia is quietly freaking out about the prospect of Ruthers questioning Flick one-on-one.

    Also: Scout, Avalon, and Shiori are going to need a hell of a lot of therapy after this. *Ouch.* Thankfully, this is something they can *actually talk with therapists about*! (Hard to call them therapists when they can’t be trusted to respect confidentiality–and no, you can’t just blame that on bigotry, since you’re not supposed to let personal biases/opinions get in the way of confidentiality.) Scout, in particular, is going to be messed up–not only did she snipe Flick, she was singlehandedly responsible (well, her hijacked-self was) for allowing Ammon to get away AND very nearly force Shiori to commit suicide (and kill Flick in the process). Still, Avalon got mind-controlled in her own room (in her own bed, even) and was alone with the psycho for an indeterminate amount of time. And was used as leverage to A) prevent her best friend from nailing the psycho, and B) force Flick into compliance. Plus, there was Kohaku, who is most definitely *not* okay, given that she was head of security and still A) allowed Ammon to sneak into Crossroads undetected, B) got mind-controlled without seeing him coming, and C) was controlled into COMPLETELY sabotaging Crossroads’ security AND attacking her boss and endanger a number of her students’ lives.

    Oh yeah! There was a lot of collateral damage, apparently. Is Herbie okay?

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  8. Okay, not as tired now, so able to comment a bit more.

    I think that the best tack to take in the interrogation would be to go on the offensive. Even if Ruthers is an idiot, it’s probably safe to assume that he’s still competent, just like almost every other Crossroads Heretic we’ve seen so far. By putting him on the back foot and demanding questions, Flick might just be able to make it through.

    I can’t remember if Flick mentioned Fossor to Kine after her birthday trip, but if she did then she could cite her History project as proof of Ruthers’s impartiality without giving too much away.

    If that isn’t an option, she could play things the other way and pretend to be glad to see Ruthers. There are a number of inconsistencies that Flick noticed long before getting any answers, so Flick could ask Ruthers about them while claiming that the staff keep stonewalling her questions. It probably wouldn’t work, but it’d knock Ruthers back a step and make that much more angry when he finds he’s been tricked, making it more likely to be used.

    As usual this is just conjecture though. Roll on Monday!!!😀

    By the way, can we get a viewpoint in the Development track at some point, because I’m really curious about those weapons?

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  9. Man, the shark power was useful, but it sucks that she finally killed another powerful Stranger and got such a situational, mostly useless power. I mean even if she’s fighting in the ocean, sharks would be mostly useless against anyone who’s been a Heretic for any amt of time.

    So presumably NOW the entire school will be made to kill some Stranger with a mental defence? It would have been a pretty obvious thing to do FIRST THING for ppl who were going to be given such power in a world with mind control. After Amon showed up it was even MORE obvious. Now that he’s shown that he’ll come and go from the school as he pleases it would be totally unbelievable for them NOT to get everyone mental defence powers. They would have to be pretty common, considering how bad from an evolutionary perspective it would be for a prey animal to have a predator which could order it to march into the predator’s mouth.

    Interested to see how the meeting with Ruthers goes. Honestly I don’t even legal for him to do things in this way as the Runners had some autonomy if I remember, so he shouldn’t be able to just usurp them. Also he’s not a dictator, and at least half of the leaders don’t agree with him when it comes to Flick or she wouldn’t be at the school. All that being said he shouldn’t have too much leeway when it comes to pressuring her, as his very presence improper and his position is not unassailable within the leadership. Any more impropriety could be used to oust him, on top of his wildly idiotic stances when it comes to Strangers (if nothing else then all the leadership certainly know that the party line is a lie).

    Also interested to see how Flick handles him. Hopefully not by crumpling. If nothing else I believe she publicly knows that Fossor is behind Amon, and she discovered that Ruthers used to be Fossor’s ally in a book in the school’s library with other people witnessing it,so she should be able to turn any accusations back on him pretty easily. After all, the son of HIS former ally is attacking the school that HE has access to and whose leader HE is opposed to. Not to hard to see how that could be used a lot more easily against Ruthers than Flick, especially if his alliance with Fossor happened long enough ago that it’s not widely known. I’ll definitely be disappointed if Flick just lies down and lets him steamroll her, knowing what a garbage person he and how much damage his irrational bigotry has caused.

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    1. So presumably NOW the entire school will be made to kill some Stranger with a mental defence? It would have been a pretty obvious thing to do FIRST THING for ppl who were going to be given such power in a world with mind control. After Amon showed up it was even MORE obvious. Now that he’s shown that he’ll come and go from the school as he pleases it would be totally unbelievable for them NOT to get everyone mental defence powers. They would have to be pretty common, considering how bad from an evolutionary perspective it would be for a prey animal to have a predator which could order it to march into the predator’s mouth.

      This is nonsense.
      1. Evolution does not work that way. Natural Selection is the result of small, random mutations, of which only a few are of any use, that increase adaptability and occur over vast periods of time. It does not quickly give organisms exactly what they need to escape one environmental factor. While it is conceivable that some species might develop resistance or immunity to mind control, it is by no means a certainty.
      2. It assumes mind control powers are themselves the result of Natural Selection and not developed independently by groups, cultures, or individuals.
      3. It assumes mind control is common.
      4. It assumes all forms of mind control function exactly alike.
      5. It assumes a given race or species that is immune to mind control will be as weak and numerous as Peridles, as opposed to a fully developed society capable of resisting being farmed.
      6. If there was a weak, easily harvested species like the Peridles immune to mind control, Crossroads would already be harvesting them like Peridles.
      7. If there was a cheap, easy way to instantly make all of their forces immune to all forms of mind control, Crossroads would have started using it centuries ago.

      It would be a lot more unbelievable if Crossroads were to just instantly find a way to overcome all forms of mind control forever. Plus, spending so much time on Ammon and then immediately rendering him a non-entity would be bad storytelling.

      Based on what we saw in Visitations and heard in Gaia’s interlude during her conversation with Ruthers, Flick’s immunity to Ammon’s powers is apparently more complicated than “it just doesn’t work on her,” because he is immune to her powers as well. They’re immune to each other’s magic, which apparently extends to other close blood relatives like Koren. It’s obvious that the immunity is based specifically on genetics, and thus not easily replicated for non-relatives.

      Also, Koren saw what Ammon did to leave the school. So now they’ll have an idea of what to look for and be able to prevent him from coming and going as he pleases.

      As for the rest: It is not publicly known that Fossor is behind Ammon. Flick specifically did not say anything about Fossor in her official debriefing. Among Crossroads Heretics she only told her team and Gaia. Furthermore, Ruthers and Fossor were not allies. Fossor tricked Ruthers when the old Heretics were having trouble dealing with something else. And this happened 655 years ago, not yesterday. So besides the fact that Flick doesn’t want to mention Fossor to the higher-ups (because she wants to avoid “protective custody” or being used as bait), taunting the irrational, near rabid man that’s already pre-disposed to hate her for being Joselyn’s child about the greatest mistake of his life that he regrets so much he’s willing to commit unspeakable atrocities to keep people from doing what he thinks is the same thing would qualify her for a Darwin Award.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. 6. If there was a weak, easily harvested species like the Peridles immune to mind control, Crossroads would already be harvesting them like Peridles.
        7. If there was a cheap, easy way to instantly make all of their forces immune to all forms of mind control, Crossroads would have started using it centuries ago.

        I made the same point twice and now I’m embarrassed.

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      2. Hi embarrassed, I’m Bart. 🙂

        “Furthermore, Ruthers and Fossor were not allies. Fossor tricked Ruthers when the old Heretics were having trouble dealing with something else.”

        Or at least that’s what one old book said. Maybe Ruthers was fully behind what Fosser did, and only pretended to not want it for political purposes. We don’t know yet.

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