Mini-Interlude 14 – Wyatt

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The following is a commissioned mini-interlude focusing on Wyatt and his efforts to protect his newly discovered family (even if they remain oblivious to those efforts). It takes place earlier in the same day as the most recent regular chapter. 

The sound of Elvis Presley’s Jailhouse Rock filled the small kitchenette of the apartment that Crossroads had provided Wyatt Rendell for his security position at the school. In the midst of the lyrics about Spider Murphy and Little Joe, Wyatt himself worked his way across the room to the counter near the fridge. His steps were short and awkward, as his feet were crammed into shoes that were more than a little too small for him. As a result, his movements looked more like a mincing tiptoe than a stride.

Two cat litter boxes lay on the floor next to the counter where Wyatt was moving. A small gray cat (really little more than a kitten at the moment) of the breed known as the British Shorthair sat beside the boxes, his deceptively simple-looking collar hiding a baker’s dozen worth of enchantments that ensured no one could shapeshift into the cat, possess the cat, or mentally control the cat without setting off several alerts that had been set up. Rather than look impressed or proud at the collection of magic he was carrying around on his neck, however, the cat simply looked profoundly irritated. Most likely because, rather than hold their namesake, the litter boxes were filled with a combination of dirt, sand, rocks, twigs, and other assorted debris.

“I know, I know, Corporal Kickwhiskers,” Wyatt assured his recently acquired roommate over the sound of the music while stepping directly into the litter boxes, one shoe in each. “I need to empty yours! And I will! As soon as the watch is ready.”

Suiting action to words, the man bent over the counter while plucking up a pair of jewelers glasses. Fitting them onto his head while shuffling his feet back and forth so that the too-small shoes they were partially stuffed inside of would take up more of the contents of the litter boxes, the man settled the many-lensed devices onto his head. Flicking all five additional lenses down over his right eye, he carefully picked up an expensive-looking silver watch. Holding the watch in one hand, he picked up an electric engraving tool with the other and set it against the metal backing. After a quick glance toward the nine different photographs of a similar ring that were taped to the wall above the counter, Wyatt carefully began to inscribe words into the back of the watch to match those in the photograph.

For Services Above And Beyond – G. Ruthers

Once the inscription was finished, and the music had long-since moved on to Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps performing Race With The Devil, Wyatt straightened and stepped out of the litter boxes. Turning to the nearby wall, he kicked out a couple times to knock the loose material off the shoes. Then he mince-stepped across the room with the watch, slipping it into a pocket of his too-large jacket before bending down to pick up a third litter box, this one actually filled with what it should be (as well as several distinctly smelly things that made it clear just why the perturbed feline had all-but vocally demanded it be cleaned). Turning with the box, Wyatt dumped it into a nearby waist-high trashcan which appeared to be empty, sans even a bag. Then he tapped his hand against it and triggered the enchantment, transporting the contents into the bottom of the ocean.

That done, he deposited the box back where it belonged and took a moment to fill it once more with the kitty litter. Then he beat a hasty (if awkward-looking) retreat from the room while Corporal Kickwhiskers made a mad dash for the newly-filled box.

In the living room of the apartment, Wyatt kicked off the too-small shoes and slipped on his own proper ones. Bending down, he plucked them off the floor, holding open his jacket pocket before dropping them inside. Not yet done, however, he also reached to the nearby counter and picked up a collection of hairbands, a simple button that belonged to one of the uniform jackets, and three different armbands. All were deposited into that single pocket where the shoes had gone, though it appeared to be flat once more as he patted it on his way out of the apartment.

“Keep an eye on things, Corporal!” he called back to the cat. The answering meow was more annoyed grumble than enthusiastic agreement, but they’d work on that. Frankly, he was considering it progress that the cat responded to his words at all.

Turning back, Wyatt shut his door. Then he proceeded to engage all seventeen of the locks that he had attached to it, as well as the half dozen alarm spells. There were more inside the room itself that would react to any presence other than his own and his new feline roommate.

The cat hadn’t been his idea. He had been a gift from his niece, who thought he needed company in his apartment. Koren. Koren Fellows was his niece, and her mother, the woman currently staying at Eden’s Garden, was his sister. He had a sister. A twin sister.

More than that, he had a family. The very concept itself was… confusing. It made him feel things that he hadn’t actually felt since he had been a young child. Discovering that the people who had taken him in and posed as his parents were spying on him for an unknown party (now obviously revealed as Gabriel Ruthers) had pretty much erased the whole idea of family pride and love from his mind.

And yet now, now he had found out that he had a real family out there. And it was just as awkward and strange as Wyatt often felt he himself was. His father appeared to be much younger than he was and (thanks to possessing the appearance of an incubus) didn’t look at all like him. His twin sister had been raised as a Bystander and was now at Eden’s Garden being tutored in Heretic ways as an adult. Meanwhile, his half-sister and his niece were both first year students here at Crossroads. And their fathers were Bystanders.

Had been, in Koren’s case. Her father was… dead. Killed by the Fomorian and then erased from their memory. The tragedy of it, the idea that his niece couldn’t even remember her father, made him feel… anger. And that in and of itself was a strange feeling for Wyatt Rendell. After growing the way that he had, he hadn’t really felt genuine ‘anger’ that way in… well, longer than he could remember.

But when he thought of what had been done to Koren’s now-erased-and-deceased father, he felt it.

At least his half-sister’s father was still alive. And hopefully would stay that way, considering the protection that Flick had arranged for him. Not that she’d told him that much about it, but he’d looked into the situation himself just to be sure that she wasn’t about to lose her own father. Finding the vampire there, he’d thought the worst, but further investigation had revealed the truth.

So that was his family. A niece and half-sister as students, a father as a slightly older-yet-still-younger-than-he-was student, a sister who was a Bystander living at Eden’s Garden, a mother who was the prisoner of an evil necromancer, a Bystander brother-in-law who had been killed, and a Bystander stepfather who was some kind of reporter and who was being babysat by a vampire.

In a way, he liked it. Not the parts where his mother was a prisoner and his brother-in-law was dead, of course. But the chaotic absurdness of the rest of it. Having a completely normal family where everyone fit the exact storybook roles would have confused him, maybe even driven him off. But this? This weird, awkward, totally confusing mish-mash of positions and relations actually helped. The convoluted mess of it made the whole thing feel more real and approachable. It felt comfortable, in some small, strange way.

Or maybe he was just weird.

But comfortable as it may have felt, the last thing he was going to do was slack off when it came to the danger that surrounded them. No sir. Not now, not ever. Not when he actually had something to lose. And he knew for a fact that there were goblins (the metaphorical ones were more dangerous) waiting to snatch all of his family away, and ruin all of this.

The threats surrounding them were almost innumerable. In addition to the standard problems facing any Heretic, there was Gabriel Ruthers himself (who had already abducted Wyatt and Abigail as babies in order to force their mother into prison before erasing her entire identity), Fossor (who currently had their mother imprisoned and clearly wasn’t going to settle for just one), the Fomorians (who obviously weren’t going to stop trying to find a way to use one of his family members to break the spell that prevented them from returning to the planet), the Seosten (who were somehow involved in all of this, he just knew it), Trice and the others from Eden’s Garden (who were trying to kill Avalon Sinclaire and had made enemies of his half-sister and her team in the process), including the werewolf girl (who somehow didn’t show up as a werewolf to Heretic-sight), Fahsteth (the mercenary Stranger who had poisoned Avalon as a child and somehow led to all of this), and whoever was secretly behind both him and Trice’s group (who had arranged the murder of Zedekiah Pericles as well as the current condition of their own ally, Professor Giselle Tangle).

And there were probably more that his frenzied thoughts weren’t thinking about, but before he could sort them out in his head, his feet had already carried him straight to his first target.

“Mr. Adams!” he bellow-squeaked, his voice cracking a bit in mid-word despite his best effort to sound like a proper authority.

Deveron. Father. Dad. Papa. All those words and more worked their way through his mind as the boy-man-person-student-father in question turned away from the conversation that he’d been having with several other students. For a half-second, Wyatt saw an expression of emotion and… longing in the handsome boy’s eyes before it vanished back behind his cool mask.

“Telling you, man, I didn’t do anything,” Deveron-Father all-but drawled. “What’s wrong now?”

“A likely story. I’m onto you.” Shaking his long, awkwardly bony finger at the boy who was his dad, Wyatt stepped forward. “Hands out, knees apart. And don’t make any sudden movements. You all, stay there, or you’ll be tried as accomplices.”

Sometimes, making a point of having a reputation for being… well, the way Wyatt was had its advantages. The boys that Deveron-Father had been talking to barely batted their eyes. They did, however, roll them pretty extensively. But, as awkward and dumb as they thought the interaction was, it was not suspicious.

Stepping close, Wyatt carefully patted his boy-father down, checking all of his pockets in the process. While checking his left jacket pocket, he surreptitiously slipped a folded note there while simultaneously extracting one.

Even with privacy spells, it would still look strange for him to interact too often with a normal student. Yet he really wanted to talk to his father. So, the two of them had set up a system of drops and encounters like this in order to pass a constant stream of notes back and forth to one another. It allowed them to almost-converse regularly.

Wyatt didn’t stop there, however. While continuing his pretense of patting the ‘boy’ down for contraband, he straightened and slipped the previously prepared jacket button from his own pocket. With dexterity belying his awkward appearance, he slipped the button directly over its identical counterpart on the front of Deveron-Dad’s uniform jacket and triggered one of the simple spells he had placed on it. The button immediately switched itself for its twin, attaching itself to the jacket in its place, while the normal button was deposited in Wyatt’s hand and quickly discarded back in his pocket.

The spells on the button would warn Wyatt if anything happened to Deveron to put the man-boy in danger. It was the third uniform jacket he’d altered that way. Pretty soon, he’d manage to tag all of his father’s clothes similarly.

And yet, even then, Wyatt still wasn’t done. Stepping around behind the boy, he clapped him on the biceps, one for each hand. In that same motion, he attached one of the armbands that he had prepared. As soon as the band closed around the arm, its magic triggered and the band became invisible and intangible to everyone except Wyatt himself.

Deveron wouldn’t know about the band, itself covered in even more protection and alarm spells, similar to the one he had prepared for Avalon (the same reason that the people after her were apparently trying to kill him, even if they didn’t know that he was their target… yet) any more than he would know about the button. But Wyatt would know. And it made him feel just a little bit better to have more layers of protection on his father. More redundancies for when things turned sideways and everything went to hell.

Why the button if he was already going to put the armband on his father? Back-ups. Always back-ups. Never rely on one solution. Never.

“Ehhh you’re clean, this time.” He announced while stepping back. “But I’m watching you, Adams. I’m always watching you.”

“That sounds really creepy, dude,” Deveron-Dad retorted while giving him a mock-salute. He turned to head back with the other students, casting a glance over his shoulder before giving Wyatt a surreptitious wink.

Then they were leaving, and Wyatt felt the watch on his wrist vibrate as the silent alarm went off. Not from any of his myriad of defensive spells, but simply the one he had set for the current time. Giving his watch a quick glance to confirm, he about-faced and almost sprinted back across the grounds. He had to be at the right spot at the right time, had to be there, had to be there. Run faster. Don’t see the students staring. Now slow down. Slow down, have to look natural. Slow down.

Easing to the right pace at the last second, Wyatt turned the corner of the cafeteria building just in time to see the doors open as a small figure practically lunged out of them. Koren shoved her way through the doors, laden down with a tray that was piled high with pudding bowls.

At the same time, a male figure was moving up toward the doors. As Koren shoved her way out, the tray slammed into the man, sending bowls of chocolate, tapioca, and vanilla pudding all down the front of his clothes.

Not bad, but he was going to have to teach her how to look more subtle.

“Oh my god!” Koren blurted, managing to avoid sounding rehearsed (appropriate considering the hours they’d actually spent rehearsing). “Professor Neal, I’m sorry! I’m so, so sorry!”

Peterson Neal, the so-called Head of Student Affairs (and less commonly called Head of Being Ruthers’s Stooge and Official Buttsmoocher) recoiled with a curse. “Miss Fellows!” he blurted. “Watch where the hell you’re going. Do you have any idea how–”

“I saw that!” Wyatt interrupted, charging that way. “Attacking a teacher, attempted assassination! It’ll be the gallows for you, missy!”

“The—what?” To her credit, the girl managed to look equally horrified and confused. “It was an accident. I was just–”

“Save it for the Runners.” Wyatt snapped around. “Will you be pressing charges, Professor? I saw the whole thing. Her murder spree was only thwarted by your quick reflexes and cunning.”

“Murder spr—no,” Peterson managed a bit distractedly. “I just—slow down, Fellows.”

Koren’s head bobbed up and down rapidly. “S-sure, yes, sir. I’m sorry, I—here I can…” She stepped forward and started to rub the man’s shirt down with napkins from the tray, mostly simply managing to rub the pudding into his shirt in the process.

At the same time, Wyatt moved to the man. “Stop it, assassin,” he snapped in mock-anger. “You won’t succeed in your attempts, I’m onto you!”

While ‘threatening’ the girl, he took hold of Peterson’s wrist, lifting it to press his card into the man’s palm. “If you change your mind about pressing charges, I’ll be glad to put this little miscreant in her place.”

Then, while the man was being assaulted by the sensation of Koren rubbing pudding into his shirt, as well as the feel of his wrist being held and the card being pressed into his hand, Wyatt smoothly undid the latch of his watch and replaced it with the one that he had just finished preparing. It held all the same enchantments that Peterson’s old watch had (that had taken a long time to work out) as well as a few new ones, such as one that would allow Wyatt to hear whatever was said when the names ‘Flick’, ‘Felicity’, ‘Chambers’, ‘Koren’, ‘Fellows’, ‘Deveron’, ‘Adams’, ‘Joselyn’, or ‘Atherby’ were said.

He was going to find out what Peterson talked with Ruthers about, and just how much the former headmaster knew about what was going on. The only trouble had been finding a way to slip the enchantments onto Peterson without the man realizing what was happening. For that, Wyatt had needed a partner. Enter Koren Fellows, his niece. She had come to him asking for tutoring in the kind of things that he did. So, they had come up with this plan.

Shaking both of them off, Peterson snapped for Koren to get to where she belonged. Then he gave his soiled shirt a distraught look before turning to march back to his own apartment to change. He never even gave Wyatt a second glance.

Once the man was out of sight, Koren straightened, glancing toward Wyatt. “Did we get it?”

“Yes,” he replied, giving his niece what he hoped was a proud, encouraging smile. But it was probably far more goofy and awkward than it was endearing, despite his best efforts. “You were decent.”

Then he nodded down at her shoes, where he had made sure to flick some of the pudding from Peterson’s shirt. “You missed some. Here, let me clean them off.”

“Decent?” she echoed. “I kicked ass, and you know it. I should be an actress, not a monster hunter. A monster-hunting actress.” Kneeling down, she untied her shoes and pulled them off, one after the other. “You can really get pudding off them?”

Nodding, Wyatt whipped a paper bag from his pocket. Dropping both shoes into the bag, he triggered a spell on it. Except, in this case, rather than a spell to clean the shoes, it simply switched them with the other set in his pocket, the one he had just finished breaking in and dirtying up to look similar enough to Koren’s real shoes that she wouldn’t notice the difference.

“See?” he announced then while tugging the new shoes (with their own protection and alarm spells) from the bag and handing them back to the girl. “No pudding.”

“Thanks,” Koren bent to tug the shoes on, focusing on tying them. “How’s Corporal Kickwhiskers doing, anyway?”

“He didn’t pee on my bed today,” Wyatt replied while reaching down to help the girl back to her feet. In the same motion, he clapped another of the armbands against her bicep, letting it vanish from sight and become impossible to either feel or detect before he released her arm.

“See? Told you, you guys belong together.” Koren grinned at him. Not up at him, despite the difference in their ages. Hell, she was an inch taller than he was, so she was practically looking down at him. Funny, he’d never really cared too much about his height, and yet now… it was just another reminder that he’d never had a chance to actually get to know either her or Flick while they were young and small. The two were practically adults when he met them.

How many birthdays had he missed? How many conversations would he never have with them? How much had been taken away from him by Ruthers? Not just his own childhood, but the opportunity to experience his family’s.

Koren extended a hand, holding it out with her palm up. “We make a good team.”

For a moment, Wyatt simply stared at her offered hand. Emotions and thoughts, far too numerous to count or even try to understand, ran through him. Finally, however, he brought his own hand down to slap hers.

“We do.”

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41 comments

  1. Whooooo, there’s another commissioned mini-interlude! Hope you guys enjoyed it, and liked seeing a bit of what’s going on with Wyatt (and Koren) outside of Flick’s personal viewpoint. Obviously, we’ll be seeing from that soon.

    Thanks for reading, guys! See you on Friday. 😉

    Tags for this chapter are: Corporal Kickwhiskers, Deveron Adams, Knowing Heretics – There’s Probably A Way For Wyatt To Mount Some Kind Of Weapons Platform Onto That Cat. And Knowing Wyatt – He’ll Do It., Koren Fellows, Peterson Neal, Planting Magic Bugs On His Niece While She’s Helping Him Plant Magic Bugs On A Teacher. Say What You Will About Wyatt – He’s A Great Multitasker.

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    1. In a world where we’ve seen people try to kill little girls, successfully killing a girl with a gas pump, enslaving a woman and forcing her to have a child, and turning someone into a werewolf just for kicks, seeing Wyatt dump his trash directly into the ocean actually unsettled me more than all the others.

      Like

    2. As I said below, he sent kitty litter and cat poop into the ocean. He has different spells on his garbage for different results. Some incinerate the trash, some dump it into the ocean, some send it into a volcano, etc etc. Depends on whether it’s organic, plastics, and so on.

      Like

  2. Normally when I read a chapter that has a line or two I especially like, I’ll quote it in my comment. But there are just so many that I don’t even know where to begin. This was excellent. Wyatt’s great. And so is Corporal Kickwhiskers. I’m surprised he made corporal so quickly and can’t wait for his inevitable stream of promotions!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Deveron wouldn’t know about the band, itself covered in even more protection and alarm spells, similar to the one he had prepared for Avalon (the same reason that the people after her were apparently trying to kill him, even if they didn’t know that he was their target… yet)…”

    Maybe it is just me, but I can’t really parse what the aside here is about. He goes from thinking about how he has put an armband on Avalon, to thinking about the reason why people were trying to kill both of them, but I don’t see the logic linking those two thoughts.

    That aside, Wyatt is dangerously competent. I really appreciate the the usual trope of someone pretending to be awkward and bumbling to hide their true nature doesn’t apply here. Wyatt really is just an awkward, goofy, too-eager guy with a whole airport’s worth of baggage. But hot damn can he channel that paranoia effectively. Plots within plots and dozen of redundant systems and alarms, all with the singular goal of keeping his family safe.

    Although I will say that his behavior is bordering on the cliche when it comes to not telling everyone that he is bugging them. I get the need for operation security but I am just not quite sure what the difference is between Deveron wearing the armband knowingly and not. It would still be invisible and intangible to everyone but Wyatt, but if anything did end up triggering it Deveron would have the added knowledge that other people were aware of the situation and he could alter any of his plans accordingly. Thinking you are on your own versus knowing that help is on its way is bound to change how you handle a dangerous situation.

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    1. Maybe it is just me, but I can’t really parse what the aside here is about. He goes from thinking about how he has put an armband on Avalon, to thinking about the reason why people were trying to kill both of them, but I don’t see the logic linking those two thoughts.

      Wyatt putting the armband on Avalon is the reason they’ll want to kill him. They can’t kidnap her as long as it’s there, and it will continue to work until the person who made it is dead. They killed Pericles because they thought he was the one who set it up, when it was actually Wyatt. As soon as they learn that, Wyatt will be their next target.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. As Hendy said, he’s referring to the fact that him preparing the protection band for Avalon is why the people after her will try to kill him if/when they find out he was the one that made it.

      As for why he doesn’t tell them about the protection… well, he IS still Wyatt, and as much as he’s been opening up to his new family, he does still have literal DECADES of keeping things to himself.

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      1. Plus, if they know about all the tracking spells, they might do something heroic/stupid like take them off in a desperate situation to keep him from risking his life for them.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Things to not do: piss the convoluted Atherby-Fellows family tree off. When they get into gear about it upon cutting through the smokescreens you threw up to save your bacon, you’ll be sorry you ever even thought of thinking about screwing them over…

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  5. Operational Security is always something you wish to have more of, in hindsight. Yes, Deveron knowing he was tagged *might* help him. Or, some evil Heretic or Stranger might be able to pluck that knowledge straight from his mind as soon as he thinks (during a bad situation) something along the lines of “Just gotta stay alive until the cavalry arrives.”

    If Deveron doesn’t know about it, the enemy can’t learn it from him. The enemy remaining ignorant to the armband is more useful than Deveron knowing about the armband. Seeing as how at least some of the enemies around here don’t mind stooping to kill the makers of defensive enchantments on their targets, maintaining his anonymity is Wyatt’s best chance of staying alive to yanno…keep putting layers of defensive stuff on his family.

    Wyatt is the good kind of paranoid to have on your side. He’s just going to keep tagging his family members until nothing there’s actually a way to stop can actually touch them. (Which helps more than just the protection he’s affording them. Look at how fast-paced most Heretic-fights are. Know what happens when an enemy tries an attack they were SURE was going to hit and it just goes ::fizzle::? They get a charged kinetic burst-staff in the face from the girl they were SURE shoulda been a half-melted corpse five seconds prior. Wyatt doesn’t have to defend them against everything. If he defends them against even a sizable minority fraction of Somethings the Law of Large Numbers says that during the course of a fight, one of his defensive enchantments will kick in, and thereby give his family member a free, unopposed shot at their attacker.)

    It’s genius.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely. Wyatt is probably one of the best advantages they have on their side. Every paranoid, goofy inch of him.

      I mean, not only did he manage to create a identical copy of the watch that Peterson Neal had, but he also managed to put a copy of all of that man’s enchantments onto it, enchantments that he had to make feel identical to the ones that were already on there, AND create them in a way that allowed Peterson himself to access them. If that’s not impressive, I don’t know what is.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. @Cerulean: (I want to preface this by saying I don’t doubt you, but given a timeline thing went wrong once and THIS timeline-issue is WAY more complicated than the Larissa thing I thought it bore mentioning)

    The Nicholas Petan Interlude: One thing only about One Year Older Flick Who’s Somehow In Petan’s Five Years Into the Future-Timeline…everything else could be explained by rapid power acquisition…But Felicity is going to need TIME to incorporate that Kinetic/Explosive Ability she’s gained so extensively into her combat routines.

    I would’ve suspected that way you were going to explain that was meeting Nicholas Petan was not Future-Flick’s first time-jump (Which in that case could theoretically have given her “extra” years to get all badass in combat)…BUT, you gave yourself a hard-limit when Flick told Nicholas “It’s only been a year FOR ME since we last met.”

    It’s that “For Me” that’s created the clock. Now all that could still *theoretically* be explained without resorting to Flick having had to get really badass the old fashioned way (Hard work, tons of practice, etc etc) If Flick absorbed some Ability directly applicable to exponentially increasing her combat skills in an absurdly short period of time…

    But even then, she’s still gotta have the time to gank a couple Seosten, gank the Shockwave and Explosion Absorbing Ability-having Stranger, get a new staff built or otherwise acquired…and THEN *completely* start over her weapon’s training (because I know from time spent as a King’s Champion in an SCA kingdom that “similar weapon” equates to “95% different sort of weapon-proficiency”

    (Went from fighting Long blade-swordbreaker (Or with Kydex weapons more accurately sword-trapper) to Longblade-Shortblade Florentine. You’d think there’d be a lot of overlap in technique between using a swordbreaker/trapper and a short blade, but there really isn’t.)

    Flick is a couple months on from Tristan’s appearance, further than that from her adventure with the Meregan. She’s got maybe…9 months, maybe 8 & 1/2 until her time-jump appointment with Nicholas?

    Not expecting any of this commentary on my part to lead to an explanation. That’s ALL Deep Spoiler Country. Just wanted to check and make sure there’s still room to turn a Flick whose struggling to match Deveron and Avalon when they’re both also equipped with Staves into a Flick that seems to be nearing like 1/3 as battle-competent as Haiden Moon in 9 months.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the in depth thoughts about all that! Nice to know that people are thinking ahead and care enough to wonder about that sort of thing.

      As you said at the end of that, there isn’t MUCH I can say without getting in spoiler territory. But yes, there is still time for Flick to improve to that point. After all, she’s being taught by some of the best, and she has both lots of motivation AND extra time to do the training. If you think about it, the fact that she doesn’t need to sleep more than an hour a night AND the fact that she can train so thoroughly without wearing out multiplies the apparent time that she has by a few factors. Say a normal person in her situation could train at something for an hour a day at full strength, she can do several hours a day and still have energy left to study.

      Don’t worry though, I get your point, and we will see vast steps in improvement as we move through this second semester. I’m not going to do that thing that happens in some shows/stories/etc where we get to the end of the time limit and suddenly have to abruptly throw a billion things in at the last second and it turns out all that stuff you saw her doing only happened to her yesterday. We’ll see those things gradually come into play.

      That said, just to quickly note, the bladed staff thing wasn’t a new weapon from her, it was weapon that belonged to the guy that she possessed. She just used it similarly to the staff that she has.

      Oh, and also this little bit:

      Flick is a couple months on from Tristan’s appearance, further than that from her adventure with the Meregan. She’s got maybe…9 months, maybe 8 & 1/2 until her time-jump appointment with Nicholas?

      It may SEEM like that, cuz so much has happened (way too much crammed into a short timeframe really). But in reality, it’s only been a bit over a month since the Meregan planet happened. That was Monday, November 6th. It’s now just past Mid-December. Tristan showed up shortly before Thanksgiving, meaning it’s been about 3 weeks, not a couple months since he appeared.

      Not that it ruins the point you were making about needing to see progress, but we’ve really got about 11 months before Flicks’ appointment with Nicholas.

      And all this does is stress that we need to stretch things out more over the second semester so that not so much is crammed into a short period.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. “Monter” is missing an “s”, I think.

    Also Wyatt is amazing. His ability to predict, plot, trick and generally be Wyatt is incredible. If Abigail/Koren the First inherited Jocelyn’s activism and righteousness, then does that mean that Wyatt has her cunning and over-protectiveness?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. There’s a saying “you can only have as much preparedness as you have foresight” and I feel like a similar phrase applies to Wyatt. “You can only be as paranoid as you understand spycraft.” Wyatt, for all that he uses his powers for security, would be a *terrifyingly* effective spy. Hells, here we see him bugging the upper echelons of Heretic authority on campus incidentally, in the course of him protecting his family.

    Also, I now find it utterly hilarious how confidently Flick and co. have been relying on their privacy coins. I feel like Wyatt wouldn’t even consider those coins an adequate first line of defense.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I feel like Wyatt wouldn’t even consider those coins an adequate first line of defense.

      Pffft, No. No, he would not. He’d barely consider them adequate false leads. Like “Oh, that’s great, you make the enemies think they can easily spy on you by breaking through that. …. wait, what? That’s REALLY your defense?” *rants for ten minutes about operational security*

      Liked by 2 people

  9. @Cerulean: 1st: Thanks for the timeline correction. Eleven months of Amarok-Stamina-Assisted training does seem like an effective timeline for that kind of improvement. Especially given her mentors.

    2nd: However, even though the bladed staff belongs to her “Host Body” it bears keeping in mind that highly skilled use of a similar-to-hers weapon naturally must equate to a much higher level of skill with her own weapon. So it might prove useful to envision an equation like “Flick must be X-Level Skilled with her Kinetic Staff to be X minus 3-skilled with the Double Bladed Staff.” The only reason I emphasize the difference is right now Flick uses a weapon that’s primarily lethal at one end. Thinking in terms of either end being equally lethal (Which she demonstrated a stupendous mastery of versus the Fomorian Crocodile-Ape Flesh Horror) is as much or as little a separate skill as Obi Wan’s proficiency with a conventional lightsaber is to Darth Maul’s proficiency with a double-bladed lightsaber. There’s overlap, which you see in them using some of the same lunges, ripostes and guard stances…but then there’s the acrobatics-intensive stuff Maul does to rapidly bring both ends into play one after another, rapidly.

    3rd: I see a point you alluded to. Flick is *already* learning to use the blasts of her Burst-staff to move around rapidly. So she’s already on-course and honing the skill required to use the kinetic energy she absorbs to assist her acrobatics. (Basically all she has to add on is a making her kinetic-burst-assisted movements begin in places other than the end of her staff. Not a terribly difficult adjustment to make. I concede this one.)

    4) Didn’t touch on this one earlier, but you made me think of it bringing up her host-form used for that fight. Part of Flick’s training is going to have to include learning to adjust her combat skills to bodies with different dimensions than her own. I assume from the way it has been portrayed that Seosten-style possession comes with Host-Body-Muscle-Memory. (Or else Sariel wouldn’t have moved like Young Larissa whenever she was in conscious control)…But there’s still the matter of learning to adjust *intellectually* to having a greater or lesser effective strike-range due to varying reaches dependent on different bodies possessed. I’d surmise that simple experience possessing people for awhile would acclimate the new possessor eventually to such details..but it’s certainly a learned skill if one wants to demonstrate superhuman-level weapon mastery while wearing a body you weren’t born in.

    5) *Far and away* the biggest time-sink I see in Flick’s future is learning to absorb and redeploy kinetic energy at combat-speeds once she absorbs that Ability. Using it is simple. Using it for things like Absorb Incoming Attack, segue a split-second later into a kinetic-energy-release-assisted leap, Absorb again, and Kinetic Strike…that’s a four-move combat routine right there. A complex down-to-muscle-memory routine like that…That both takes time to develop, and declares that if she knows one four-move Ability-related combat routine, she certainly knows others or she wouldn’t be confident using the Ability under such challenging conditions. (I define “challenging” as “Fighting any target that *repeated* blasts from a frigging GRENADE LAUNCHER merely STUNS” 😛 )

    I’m willing to bet real money she’s going to be acquiring that Ability soon. Before Valentine’s Day, maximum. (I wanted to say New Year’s, but thought I should give myself a bit of wiggle-room if I wanted to make sure I was right 😛 )

    6) I feel like an absolute IDIOT it’s taken me THIS LONG to realize that Gaia is leaving nothing to chance, and wielding her influence as Headmistress to save the Strangers with the most Desirable-to-Absorb Abilities for Flick and Avalon’s Team. (Of course she is. That’s EXACTLY how I’d cheat for my favorites if I was in Gaia’s place. I bet she even hedges her bets by choosing at least a few of the most juicy Strangers located in scenarios fit for 1st-Year Teams that the Weapon Capabilities of Flick and Avalon make them the two most likely on their Team to claim the Deathblows on. (The Amarok was almost CERTAINLY going to fall to either Flick’s Staff or Avalon’s light-constructs. Yes, it was possible one of the others would get it…and Gaia would be fine with that if one of the others was that inventive. Their teammates are her students too…but she certainly stacked the deck in Flick and Avalon’s favor there…and I’m willing to bet if she’s done it once she’s done it more than once. I bet the only “Unscripted” Abilities that Flick has gained took place on her trip to visit the Meregans with Shiori, plus the Werewolf and Belly-mouth monster outside the Garden’s Tree. Gaia’s rationale is likely something along the lines of “I’m just giving them good opportunities. They still have to prove they’ve worked hard enough to actually claim the kills.”)

    7) Yeah…I can see the framework of it coming together. It’s actually kind of ingenuous. Showing the Badass Future-Flick, and then being able to dole out the progress onscreen than transitions Flick from Present to Future. Bravo Cerulean 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. However, even though the bladed staff belongs to her “Host Body” it bears keeping in mind that highly skilled use of a similar-to-hers weapon naturally must equate to a much higher level of skill with her own weapon. So it might prove useful to envision an equation like “Flick must be X-Level Skilled with her Kinetic Staff to be X minus 3-skilled with the Double Bladed Staff.” The only reason I emphasize the difference is right now Flick uses a weapon that’s primarily lethal at one end. Thinking in terms of either end being equally lethal (Which she demonstrated a stupendous mastery of versus the Fomorian Crocodile-Ape Flesh Horror) is as much or as little a separate skill as Obi Wan’s proficiency with a conventional lightsaber is to Darth Maul’s proficiency with a double-bladed lightsaber. There’s overlap, which you see in them using some of the same lunges, ripostes and guard stances…but then there’s the acrobatics-intensive stuff Maul does to rapidly bring both ends into play one after another, rapidly.

      You definitely have a point about needing enough skill to warrant being good with a bladed staff rather than one without blades. However, I’m not entirely sure what you mean by her staff being ‘lethal at one end.’ Could you clarify a bit for me?

      I assume from the way it has been portrayed that Seosten-style possession comes with Host-Body-Muscle-Memory. (Or else Sariel wouldn’t have moved like Young Larissa whenever she was in conscious control)…But there’s still the matter of learning to adjust *intellectually* to having a greater or lesser effective strike-range due to varying reaches dependent on different bodies possessed. I’d surmise that simple experience possessing people for awhile would acclimate the new possessor eventually to such details..but it’s certainly a learned skill if one wants to demonstrate superhuman-level weapon mastery while wearing a body you weren’t born in.

      This is also quite true.

      5) *Far and away* the biggest time-sink I see in Flick’s future is learning to absorb and redeploy kinetic energy at combat-speeds once she absorbs that Ability. Using it is simple. Using it for things like Absorb Incoming Attack, segue a split-second later into a kinetic-energy-release-assisted leap, Absorb again, and Kinetic Strike…that’s a four-move combat routine right there. A complex down-to-muscle-memory routine like that…That both takes time to develop, and declares that if she knows one four-move Ability-related combat routine, she certainly knows others or she wouldn’t be confident using the Ability under such challenging conditions. (I define “challenging” as “Fighting any target that *repeated* blasts from a frigging GRENADE LAUNCHER merely STUNS” )

      lol, yeaaaaaaaah, no kidding. Obviously, I had her use that rather than any of the powers we’ve actually seen her use before to avoid giving away her identity too early. But yeah, she needs to get it with enough time for it to become second nature.

      6) I feel like an absolute IDIOT it’s taken me THIS LONG to realize that Gaia is leaving nothing to chance, and wielding her influence as Headmistress to save the Strangers with the most Desirable-to-Absorb Abilities for Flick and Avalon’s Team. (Of course she is. That’s EXACTLY how I’d cheat for my favorites if I was in Gaia’s place. I bet she even hedges her bets by choosing at least a few of the most juicy Strangers located in scenarios fit for 1st-Year Teams that the Weapon Capabilities of Flick and Avalon make them the two most likely on their Team to claim the Deathblows on. (The Amarok was almost CERTAINLY going to fall to either Flick’s Staff or Avalon’s light-constructs. Yes, it was possible one of the others would get it…and Gaia would be fine with that if one of the others was that inventive. Their teammates are her students too…but she certainly stacked the deck in Flick and Avalon’s favor there…and I’m willing to bet if she’s done it once she’s done it more than once. I bet the only “Unscripted” Abilities that Flick has gained took place on her trip to visit the Meregans with Shiori, plus the Werewolf and Belly-mouth monster outside the Garden’s Tree. Gaia’s rationale is likely something along the lines of “I’m just giving them good opportunities. They still have to prove they’ve worked hard enough to actually claim the kills.”)

      In some ways, yes. Gaia is attempting to ensure that they gain the powers that would be helpful. That said, the Amarok was **NOT** supposed to be there. It was not a planned creature, but rather, one that Trice and his friends put out there as part of their ‘kill Avalon’ attempt. When Flick actually killed it, that was when they went for the direct assault.

      Basically, Flick *was* supposed to get better stamina… from the Chamrosh things. It was Gaia’s plan that she start killing things to increase her stamina, but the Amarok was a step beyond her plan.

      It worked out though.

      7) Yeah…I can see the framework of it coming together. It’s actually kind of ingenuous. Showing the Badass Future-Flick, and then being able to dole out the progress onscreen than transitions Flick from Present to Future. Bravo Cerulean

      Thanks! Yeah, it helps see what we’re working toward considering she started out as an average teenager without fighting skills.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ve been reading up on the Spacebattles thread and something else just occurred to me. Flick has *incredibly powerful* Mentors. People deeply committed to her safety. Everyone assumes when Flick turns 18 she’s going to be eighty kinds of outgunned versus Fossor…and that might be true if she were limited to a normal 1st-Year Heretic’s resources…

    But Gaia and Dare can outright cheat for Flick if they want. Gaia could take Flick on an outing to track down some of the deadliest Alters on Earth, use her demi-deity level Heretic abilities to telekinetically render the monsters helpless and let Flick trot over and bash their brains in for Ability Absorptions. For example: Is there an Alter out there that feeds on the energies of disembodied spirits? Something that happens to be so dangerous no adult Heretic would normally let a First Year Heretic-in-Training within ten miles of? Gaia pins it down, Flick sucks it dry and poof…you’ve got a Flick that can eat Fossor’s ghost-minions.

    Some people might call that fiat-writing. I wouldn’t. The Heretics on Flick’s side, like Gaia and Dare and Nevada have, above all, been depicted as being *SMART*…Feeding Flick two or three Alters that punch above her weight-class, specifically hunted down because they possess Abilities that strike directly at Fossor’s *primary* strengths? Giving Flick a few Abilities that’d make it *more difficult* for Fossor to just accost her *directly*…that’s smart.

    Wyatt believes in layered protections. Gaia and Dare believe in layered protections (Gaia praised Wyatt for his use of them in the attempt on Avalon’s life on the cruise ship hunt)…Placing a few aces in Flick’s sleeves that they WANT Fossor to find out via spies, subverted minions etc. Something to make him WORK on a kidnap plan…rather than making a “jump Flick the moment I find her sometime after her 18th b-day without ten Adult Heretics right next to her”…that’s smart.

    You couple that with Wyatt’s type of protections. The measures Dare has undoubtedly learned from experience are more effective versus Fossor…and Gaia’s plans once she hears about Fossor’s threat from Dare…That’s layered protection. It won’t stop Fossor from making the grab-attempt…but they can slow him. Slow is good. Slowing attackers has worked *beautifully* to keep Avalon among the non-kidnapped, non-dead.

    I hesitate to speak for others..but much discussion seems centered on the idea of Flick Vs Fossor…when that’s not the narrative at all. Flick is…bad reputation with the conservative Heretic elements notwithstanding, a Crossroads Heretic-in-Training in good standing. The narrative is Fossor Vs Flick *+* Flick’s Team + Flick’s Heretic Friends Not on her Team + Flick’s Adult Heretic Allies + Any Adult Heretics moral enough to find the idea of an inhuman monster that practices Sexual and Necromantic Enslavement of Sentient Beings being allowed to kidnap an innocent young woman completely unacceptable.

    While this may well be a David Vs Goliath parallel..it’s a loose one. In that THIS David has a couple Special Forces Teams backing her up versus Goliath and the Philistines. Underdog limited to outsmarting Fossor because she can’t possibly oppose him directly my ass. That’s two dimensional thinking.

    People who think Mother Bear-types like Gaia and Dare are easily thwarted by a male with unsavory designs on a young woman they favor haven’t read Kipling’s *Female of the Species* 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Vague offense taken at the hopefully unintentional implication of sexism aside, it’s not that I think the fight is going to be Fossor jumping Flick right off the bat, or that Flick won’t have all her allies in the beginning. Far from it, I don’t doubt for one second that she’ll have tons of help fighting him. It’s that everything we know about Fossor indicates that he’s capable of winning that fight.

      I’m not “assuming” that Flick will have to deal with him on her own for at least a little bit of time, because to assume it to believe without reason and I have reasons to think it will happen, and while I could be wrong, I’m not basing this particular belief/prediction on nothing.

      1. If killing or beating him were as simple as farming anti-necromancer powers from specific monsters, the Heretics would have already done that centuries ago. It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when you have large numbers of power-absorbers on hand.

      2. As you said, the people on Flick’s side are smart. Well, so is Fossor. You don’t survive as long as he has while doing the kinds of things he does (conquering planets (confirmed via Word of God), exterminating species (8-07 and Interlude 12)) without being smart. He has centuries of experience fighting Heretics in general and has had over a decade to prepare to abduct Flick.

      3. He has enough influence to incite enough Nocen attacks to stretch the limits of Crossroads and Eden’s Garden’s resources solely for the sake of having a conversation with Flick (6-02).

      4. If you’ve been reading the SB thread, you may or may not have reached the points where Cerulean has confirmed that Fossor is one of the most powerful individuals in the setting combat-wise. He’s above Committee members, who (thanks to power-sharing among themselves (also confirmed by WoG)) are all substantially more powerful than Gaia. Also, he’s tanked a nuke (again according to a WoG on the SB thread).

      5. He has some level of access to information on what’s going on in Crossroads. To what extent is unknown, but at the very least he has enough access to learn the names of all of Flick’s teammates (Ammon mentions that he knows them in his mini-lude), the fact that Pericles was murdered (17-06). Furthermore, he has had a decade to learn everything Joselyn knows and could use that information to incite conflict (depending in what info she has) between reformists and hardliners, Crossroads and Eden’s Garden, Ruthers and Gaia, etc.

      Of course Flick is to have support, allies, and back-up when her eighteenth birthday comes. She’ll have tons of it, and they will be prepared. But ignoring or forgetting the near-certainty that Fossor will also come prepared is silly. He’s not just going to jump her, he’s going to be ready.

      Because if he was enough of an idiot to not make those kinds of preparations after he explicitly warned Flick that he’s coming for her, then how the fuck has he lasted this long without getting killed?

      Liked by 2 people

  11. “However, I’m not entirely sure what you mean by her staff being ‘lethal at one end.’ Could you clarify a bit for me” -Cerulean.

    I mean that Flick’s kinetic bursts (unless I’ve grossly misunderstood her weapon) form at one end when she hits the right button on her staff. Now, if I’ve misread and Flick can form the charged bursts at either end of her staff, then my point about her using her host-body’s double-bladed staff is moot.

    If I’m right though, and her burst-staff only created the orbs of kinetic energy she discharges when she strikes something with only the one end of her staff (and not the other end) then using the host-body’s staff, which is bladed on both ends, is a somewhat different skillset than the skill she’s learned to utilize in wielding her burst-staff. That make sense?

    Or more simply: Utilizing a staff that’s much more lethal on just the one end, instead of being equally lethal at either end (as her host-body’s staff, bladed on both ends is) is much like utilizing a conventional lightsaber versus Darth Maul’s double-bladed lightsaber. The one is wielded much like a conventional sword, while wielding the other is more parkour-oriented if one wants to bring both ends to bear in a rapid-fire fashion.

    Like

    1. I mean that Flick’s kinetic bursts (unless I’ve grossly misunderstood her weapon) form at one end when she hits the right button on her staff. Now, if I’ve misread and Flick can form the charged bursts at either end of her staff, then my point about her using her host-body’s double-bladed staff is moot.

      You misread.

      From 2-01:

      “Kinetic-burst staff?” I echoed, staring at the thing. I already wanted to be holding it again.

      “Yeah, look here.” He showed me one of the ends of the staff, then directed my attention to a small depression in the handle where his fingers were resting. “Press this here to charge.” As he pressed it, the black ends of the staff began to glow blue.

      “Release the button to stop charging.” Katarin continued. He moved his finger off the button, but the blue glow remained at both ends.

      From 2-06:

      Rather than randomly lash out with the staff again, I held it close and adjusted my grip so that both of my hands were spread equally apart from the middle. With one finger, I pressed the part of the staff that made it begin to charge with kinetic energy. The black ends of the staff began to glow with that blue energy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ugh. These sentences were supposed to be bolded.

        As he pressed it, the black ends of the staff began to glow blue.

        He moved his finger off the button, but the blue glow remained at both ends.

        The black ends of the staff began to glow with that blue energy.

        Bottom line: Both ends of the staff charge and release kinetic bursts and mines.

        Like

  12. “Wyatt didn’t stop there, however. While continuing his pretense of patting the ‘boy’ down for contraband, he straightened and slipped the previously prepared jacket button from his own pocket. With dexterity belying his awkward appearance, he slipped the button directly over its identical counterpart on the front of Deveron-Dad’s uniform jacket and triggered one of the simple spells he had placed on it. The button immediately switched itself for its twin, attaching itself to the jacket in its place, while the normal button was deposited in Wyatt’s hand and quickly discarded back in his pocket.”
    Me: Wyatt is quite the smooth operator here. Probably a mixture of natural talent and experience.
    *reads about him switching Petersen’s watch*
    Very smooth. The guy apparently didn’t notice at all. Wyatt’s quite the scary individual from a certain point of view.

    Like

  13. Like I said over at Spacebattles though:
    Fossor has enormous power, yes. He also has an equally enormous number of enemies. Destroying entire races, releasing bio-weapons that end the current configuration of European Society…acts like these generate enemies like no one’s business.

    If I thought for a moment that Flick’s backup when everything went down was limited to the Crossroads Heretics, I’d be betting on Fossor even if all of Crossroads showed up to the fight…but this guy has made enemies out of pretty much EVERYONE by being a Lone Wolf Despotic Soul-Tyrant.

    I have no problem envisioning many entities who don’t give one spit for Flick’s continued life/well-being wanting to crash this party. For one simple reason:

    History has shown that the best time to confront Fossor is when he’s focused on something else, and not pre-prepared for a given enemy’s potential attack. (His backing down from Gaia when not prepared for her.)

    Smart individuals would take that as a cue that that’s the sort of situation they want Fossor in. Focused on one thing (Grabbing Flick), while they crash down on him. Given the sheer enmity he’s certainly generated, many of these beings aren’t going to quibble about just who or how Fossor goes down, so long as he does go down. He’s been a thorn in a lot of sides.

    Logic suggests that behavior as anti-social as Fossor’s usual modus operandi has generated a total number of adversaries that collectively so far eclipse him in power as to make the point moot. Yes, Fossor will come prepared with a plan…and going by the effectiveness of his past-acts it’ll likely be an effective plan.

    Some circumstantial evidence points to the possibility he might well have planned and carried out the mass-execution of 99.9% of Reaper-Heretics as part of his attempt to grab Flick. That’d be Fossor trying to preemptively eliminate much of the support Flick might otherwise be able to count on.

    Circumstantial evidence also exists that more than points to the PROBABILITY that while THAT part of his plan went off without a hitch, he FAILED in the “Grab Flick” portion of his plan.

    One has to ask yourself then. If all the Reaper-Heretics were dead…and yet Fossor STILL failed to grab Flick…why did he fail?

    Like

    1. Okay, first of all, please starting using the reply button when you’re responding to someone so they don’t have to check if your comment is a response to theirs.
      Second:

      One has to ask yourself then. If all the Reaper-Heretics were dead…and yet Fossor STILL failed to grab Flick…why did he fail?

      Here’s another question: Why are you assuming that plan worked in the first place?

      “If you don’t,” Felicity Chambers finished, “Fossor is going to use my mother to kill Every Crossroads and Eden’s Garden Heretic in existence.”

      Admittedly, the fact that this situation involves time travel muddles the waters, but that statement doesn’t definitively state that all the Heretics are already dead or that he’s still putting that into action. In either case, the answer is that Flick escaped. Either his plot succeeded and Flick slipped away in the chaos, or he hasn’t done it yet but was alone with Flick long enough to gloat about it and then she escaped. Or he gloated about it in front of other people, but I doubt that considering the lengths he apparently went to in order to speak with Flick privately in Visitations.

      I’m not trying to say that I think he’s infallible, it just seems like you’re underestimating him. Now, maybe I’ve been overestimating him. I still THINK he’s going to successfully grab Flick before he’s beaten, that he’s going to come prepared because he’ll have had eleven years to prepare. I could be wrong, I could be right. Maybe I’ve been taking that prediction for granted and I’ll try to stop, but I still think that it’s gonna happen.

      I’m going to go more in depth over on SB.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Sorry for the bit of thread necromancy.

    First, I really enjoyed reading this chapter. Wyatt had gone from a super annoying character at the start of the story to someone I have a blast reading about. Very well done 🙂

    Now for my comment that goes against the grain a bit. The privacy violations that Wyatt imposes on his family are crazy. No matter his intentions or reasons if I found out someone did this kind of thing to me I would be beyond pissed off. I really hope one of these tracking devices fires off at an embarrassing time for someone (they sneak out for a private romantic moment only to have Wyatt bust in thinking they were abducted).

    With the crazy range of things magic is capable of in this world one of my first priorities would be to ensure I was warned the instant a spell targeted me or stopped targeting me. This exact situation (someone enchanting me without my knowledge) would be near the top of my nightmare list.

    I really hope someone calls out Wyatt on this at some point.

    Like

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