The Third Degree 21-02

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Please note, if you haven’t seen it yet, there was a bonus chapter posted Wednesday that started off this arc. You may want to use the Previous Chapter button to check that out if you happened to miss it. 

“Have you ever wondered why they’re all first-year teachers?”

Blinking across the library table at Vanessa as the blonde girl finished speaking, I asked hesitantly, “Wondered why who are all first-year teachers?”

It was Tuesday, January 16th, a couple days after Avalon, Shiori, and I had met with Seth and Calvin (and Buddy, of course). They had promised to get in touch once they actually had a meeting set with Fahsteth. So on that front, all I could do was wait as patiently as possible.

In this particular case, waiting patiently partly involved working on a project for a Heretical Geography that Vanessa and I had been assigned to do together by Professor Vandel. He’d said something about me being one of the few people outside of her own team that he could believe wouldn’t just rely on Vanessa to do all of the work. Which was either flattering for me or really disparaging toward the rest of the class. Probably both.

Looking around briefly, the blonde girl leaned closer while lowering her voice. She had already put a special privacy coin between us (apparently Scout had taught her how to use it). Yet, like Koren, she was still smart enough to be cautious. “Headmistress Sinclaire, all the teachers she said we can trust, the ones in her inner circle, they’re all first-year teachers. What about the ones that teach the older grades? Does she… not really trust any of them?”

Lowering my own voice, I shrugged. “I thought about that, and I’ve got a couple options. First, maybe she just plays her cards close to her chest. You know, like she doesn’t tell us everyone she trusts. We are students, after all. She told us people in the first-year staff that she trusts because those are the teachers that we actually interact with. Why would she tell us about someone we hardly ever see, let alone talk to? How many of the upper-year teachers could you even name?”

The other girl’s mouth opened, but I stopped her with a raised hand. “Sorry, I forgot who I was talking to. All of them, obviously. My point is, how many of the upper year teachers could the average first-year student name? Someone without a perfect memory.”

After the other girl conceded that point with a nod, I added, “It’s, um, compartmentalization. If someone like Ruthers finds out something from us that they shouldn’t find out, her entire network isn’t taken apart. It makes sense that she wouldn’t tell us everything. Especially if they believe that those are the only people firmly on Gaia’s side in the whole thing. There’s a better chance they’ll slip up and someone else that’s loyal to her, someone she didn’t tell us about, can warn her.”

“That… yeah, that makes sense.” Vanessa agreed. “What about the other option you mentioned?”

I looked at the table for a moment before answering. “The other option is that the teachers she trusts are all at the first-year level because it’s easier to hire new teachers, people she can personally vet or already knows, for the younger grades. It makes sense, doesn’t it? A new teacher comes in and they go for the younger students while the more experienced faculty move up to teach the older students. So if Gaia wanted to hire more people, they’d be at this level.”  

Vanessa tilted her head, clearly considering that for a second before slowly nodding. Her voice was quiet and thoughtful. “It makes sense for another reason too. Maybe she was preparing.”

Raising an eyebrow, I asked, “Preparing for what?”

“For new students like–” The other girl paused before gesturing back and forth. “Like you and me. Like Shiori. Like Tristan. Like Koren. Students who need extra… guidance. Extra help, from people who understand, people who can tell them–us the truth. Maybe that’s why she stacked the deck for the first-years. Because from second year on, we can still talk to the first-year teachers. They can still help. But you said it yourself, most of us don’t even know who the upper-class teachers are, let alone have any idea of how to get advice from them. She puts the people she trusts in the younger years and lets us bond with them earlier instead of spreading them out.”

“You’re right,” I agreed. “That does make sense. So… I guess the answer is probably a little bit of all of the above. Gaia has her reasons for not telling us about everyone she might trust, but she also puts most of them in the first year staffing positions because it gives us people to talk to.”

“I guess so.” Vanessa looked thoughtful for a moment before focusing. “But umm, changing the subject, Scout said you guys were trying to find out everything you could about Avalon’s mom.”

Surprised that Scout had said anything at all about that, I hesitated. “Oh, uh, I guess, but it’s–”

“A secret,” she finished for me. “I know. Don’t worry, Scout said she talked to your roommate first and got the okay to ask me.”

Well that was also a little surprising. “Avalon gave the okay to talk to you about her mom?”

She nodded. “I just had to promise not to tell anyone about it. Not even Tristan. Which…” Pausing, Vanessa made a face. “It feels weird, but I get it. My brother’s not… subtle.”

“Yeah, he has a lot of good qualities,” I agreed. “But keeping things quiet isn’t his strongest suit.”

Shrugging, the girl pointed out, “He’s kept the whole hybrid thing quiet so far. And your secrets.”

Quickly nodding in agreement, I pointed out, “Sure, but there’s a difference between not blabbing secrets and being subtle. Tristan stands out. He loves standing out. He’s um, how do I put this?”

“He’s a show-off,” Vanessa finished for me. “I know. Not subtle. But that’s not why I didn’t tell him anything about how you guys are looking into Avalon’s mom. I didn’t tell him about it because Avalon and Scout asked me not to. I owe you guys. I… you helped get my brother back. So you ask me for help, you ask me to keep a secret, ask me for anything and I… I’m there. Promise.”  

Swallowing, I met her brown-eyed gaze. “And I promise that I’ll find a way to help get your mom and dad back, Vanessa. We’re not done with just your brother. We’re gonna find your family.”

There was a look in her eyes for a moment before she glanced away. Her voice was even quieter than it had been the whole time, to the point that I could barely hear her. “I’m not used to having anyone to talk to about this stuff. The whole time  I was growing up, no one believed what I told them about what happened… until I realized that I had to keep quiet about it or they’d keep sending me to…” She paused, biting her lip as she finished a little hoarsely. “Special homes. So having Headmistress Sinclaire, you, Scout, Tristan, I… I don’t know how to deal with it.”

That was why she came off as so shy most of the time, why she didn’t tend to interact much with people. Besides the fact that she had been busy desperately looking up anything she could to find her parents and brother, she’d also conditioned herself to keep quiet about what she knew so that the people who were supposed to take care of her wouldn’t think she was crazy and lock her up.

“Well,” I coughed, shifting in my seat. “I know we’re not like, best friends or anything. But any time you wanna talk about… anything, I wouldn’t mind. Even if Tristan isn’t magically glued to me anymore.” I said the last bit with a tiny smile, since Gaia had finally succeeded in switching the anchor spell from me to Vanessa just the other day. “Doesn’t mean you have to be a stranger.”

Her brow knitted as she looked at me. “Was that last part a joke?”    

“Was what a–” I stopped, flushing a little. “Right, don’t have to be a stranger. Uh, no, just a coincidence. But can I take credit for it anyway?” Giving the other girl a smile, I added, “Sorry, you were saying something about Scout telling you about looking for stuff about Avalon’s mom.”  

Nodding at that, Vanessa reached down into the bag on the chair beside her. “Yeah, so I um, I looked into it too. I wanted to help, especially since Scout was already helping Tristan and me by looking into anything she could find about the… um, my mom’s people while they were in Europe.”

Raising an eyebrow, I asked curiously, “Did she find anything important?”

“Maybe,” the other girl replied slowly, frowning thoughtfully. “She found some books and journals and stuff that mention beings that can possess others. I’ve gotta read all of them and compare it to the stuff we have in this library. You know, Strangers that were already identified and catalogued.”

Squinting then, Vanessa muttered, “I would’ve been through all of them already, but Tristan and the others keep distracting me. And,” she looked back up while pulling a folder out of her bag. “I wanted to keep looking for stuff about Avalon’s mom. You know, because I sort of have experience with…” She trailed off briefly before amending herself. “I know what it’s like to try to hunt down information about your parents and have everything end up being a dead end. Before I came here, I couldn’t find anything about mine.”

Swallowing the thick lump in my throat, I nodded. “A lot of us seem to have at least one missing parent. I guess it makes us part of the cool club or something.” The words sounded hollow even to me, and I shook it off before gesturing for her to go on. “I take it you actually found something? Wait, are you sure you shouldn’t tell Avalon about it?”

“You can tell her,” Vanessa quickly replied while blushing slightly. “She um, she kinda scares me.”  

I coughed. “I guess she can have that effect on people. But she wouldn’t hurt you or anything.”

“I know, but um, still. You can talk to her better than I can. I get nervous and um, then I start to babble and she gets impatient and it’s a whole thing.” Laying her hand on the folder, she opened it to show me the first page. “Her name was Ophelia Penn. Before she was married to Avalon’s dad, I mean. And before that, her name was Adelind Jaspers. That lasted about two years, and before that one, she was Francesca Dumont. And–”

Holding up a hand, I frowned. “She kept changing her name? How far back does that go?”

“As far as I can tell?” Vanessa hesitated before flipping through some papers in the folder. “The earliest name for her I can find is Giselle Meyer, when she was sixteen. That’s when it was changed to Kaia Pierce. Before that, I dunno. There’s some school records, but they’re spotty, like someone went through and started getting rid of them, but didn’t finish.”

“She was hiding,” I murmured under my breath. “She and her family, I guess. It doesn’t go any further back than that? What about her mom and dad?”

Flinching, the other girl shook her head. “Sorry. All I’ve got for them is a couple names that popped up on her school records. Kinsley and Brennan. Last name Meyer, just like the name she used when she was sixteen. If it was anything else before that, I dunno. There’s no birth certificate, nothing like that. The earliest thing I could find was a note in her freshman year of high school about being excused from gym for the semester because of a broken leg. Before that, there’s nothing. It’s like she just poofed into existence.”

“Or like whoever went back and erased her identity did a really good job up to that point,” I muttered under my breath. “It sounds like they were working on scrubbing everything about her and just didn’t finish.” Thinking about it for another moment, I added, “Maybe it was her. Maybe she was the one erasing her past and it stopped when she… when she died.”

“There’s something big about her, isn’t there?” Vanessa asked, her eyes squinting at me. “Someone’s trying to kill Avalon. And now you guys are looking into her mom’s history and there’s all this stuff?” Before I could say anything, she held up a hand. “I know, it’s secret. Don’t worry, you don’t have to tell me. I just…be careful, okay? It sounds like they were trying really hard to hide from someone. If it’s the same someone that’s after Avalon now, that means it was Heretics the whole time. And if Heretics were after Avalon’s family for that long… it’s something big.”

Swallowing hard, I nodded. It took me a second to find my voice. “Trust me, we know. Don’t worry about it. You’ve got enough to focus on. I’ll umm, I’ll look through this stuff you found and see if anything jumps out. Did you notice anything else?”

“There was one big thing,” Vanessa started slowly. Glancing at me, she reached out to shuffle through the papers before coming to a single page. It was blank, but I could tell there was something on the other side, from the colors that bled through. “She visited the high school counselor a few times. Most of the file’s gone, but this was in there. It’s a watercolor she made when he told her to draw what she was dreaming about.”

Watching my expression, she turned the paper over, and I found myself staring at Avalon’s mom’s painting.

It was the lighthouse, the one here on the island. That much was obvious. But surrounding the lighthouse there was a pair of folded, half-visible angel wings. And above it, there was a face topped by a halo. It was like there was a giant, mostly invisible angel guarding the lighthouse. Yet the expression of the angel was… dangerous. It looked menacing.

Seosten. Avalon’s mother had made a painting of the Seosten and the lighthouse when her counselor told her to draw what she dreamed about. But she hadn’t been a Heretic, had she? I had to believe that if she was, Gaia would’ve said something.

Unless that part was erased from her memory too, of course. But that was just… we needed to know more. Maybe one of her parents was here and told her stories about it. If it was… I started to talk out loud to work it out. “Maybe whichever one of her parents wasn’t being… chased originally used to go here. Maybe they were part of the group looking for the other parent, and they found them. But instead of bringing them in, they… fell in love and started running away. Then the parent that went here told Avalon’s mom stories about this place.”

It was little more than a guess, really. But I had to believe that Gaia would know if Avalon’s mom had gone here. But if one of that woman’s parents had gone here before leaving, that might have been enough for Gaia to not make the connection. I’d have to see if she recognized the names Kinsley or Brennan, though I doubted either were their real names by that point.

Shaking that off, I looked up again. “Vanessa, thanks for this. You didn’t have to do all this work. It couldn’t have been easy.”

She shrugged. “It’s like I said, I’m used to digging into people’s pasts. And you–you helped bring my brother back. I owe you.”

My head shook at that. “No, you don’t. We don’t have to get into the ‘who owes who what’ game. But helping each other because we can? That I’m good with.”

The other girl watched me for a moment before nodding. “Okay. But um, we should probably help each other by doing that project so we don’t fail Professor Vandel’s course.

“Because that would be really embarrassing.”

******      

“Revolutions,” Professor Ross began the next morning. “There’s been a lot of them throughout human history. Some the Bystanders know about, others they don’t. But one in particular stands out both within the Bystander world and our own. The American Revolution.”

Standing in front of her desk, the elderly woman watched us for a moment before continuing. “Can anyone tell me why the American Revolution is important to both Bystanders and Heretics?”

Vanessa’s hand went up immediately, of course. And in this case, so did most of the other Heretic-born students. On the other hand, my fellow Bystander-kin looked as confused as I felt.

“Mr. Gerardo,” Professor Ross nodded toward Sean. “Why is the American Revolution important to both Bystanders and Heretics?”

The boy shifted in his seat and straightened while laying his hand on Vulcan’s head. “Because what the Bystanders call the American Revolution, we call the Splinter-Rebellion.”

Before my brain could finish summoning the image of a giant mutated rat directing his turtle pupils to wage war for independence, Professor Ross continued. “Very good. Yes, and what was formed from the Splinter-Rebellion, Mr. Leven?”

Zeke all-but snarled the answer. “Eden’s Garden.” He was pointedly looking in Avalon’s direction.

That brought my head up and around, as I blurted, “Wait, what?”

“If you have a question, Miss Chambers, raise your hand,” Professor Ross admonished before answering anyway. “But Mr. Leven is correct. What began as a war between Crossroads and those who splintered off to create what eventually became Eden’s Garden bled into the Bystander world. However, where the Bystander war was about the American colonies fighting for independence from Great Britain, the Splinter-Rebellion centered around a… violent disagreement over which Heretic group should control the territory of the new world.

“Small and young as they were, Eden’s Garden possessed a good deal of influence over the British Parliament and leadership. They had begun to use that influence to immediately begin giving themselves advantages in the colonies. Crossroads could not directly combat those kind of connections. So, we went for a different tactic.”

Raising my hand until she nodded to me, I managed a slightly weak, “… Revolution. Crossroads pushed for the American Revolution to separate the colonies from Great Britain so that all that influence Eden’s Garden had wouldn’t mean anything.”

The woman smiled a little at me. “Yes, very good, Miss Chambers. Exactly. It’s slightly amusing if you think about it that way. Eden’s Garden staged their own revolution in order to be independent from Crossroads. Then, in order to combat their new political power that would have given them a great deal of influence over the shape and direction of the new continent, Crossroads helped to stage a revolution in the Bystander world. That revolution resulted in the formation of the United States, and helped cut a good deal of the power away from Great Britain.

“Of course,” she added then, “There were other wars going on at the same time with the same intention. Eden’s Garden had firm control over Great Britain, which meant that Crossroads had to attack them from multiple fronts, using different proxy countries.

“You might say that without Crossroads working to neuter Great Britain’s power, and thus the power of Eden’s Garden, the United States never would have been formed.

“And wouldn’t that have been a very different world to live in?”

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19 comments

  1. Well, hey hey hey, now we know what kind of connection the Heretic world has to the American Revolution, don’t we? And you know roughly when Eden’s Garden was formed: slightly before the aforementioned revolution.

    Hope you guys enjoyed that little bit. I figured it was a good time to have Vanessa and Flick interact some, and Vanessa bringing her information to Flick instead of Avalon made sense given… well, how intimidating a certain brunette can be. Plus, you know, just letting them talk was good.

    Anyway, thanks for reading. Today’s tags were: Felicity Chambers, Flick, I’m Pretty Sure That Eden’s Garden Teaches A Slightly Different Variation Of That Story., If Only Avalon’s Mother Was As Good At Picking Husbands As She Was At Changing Her Identity., Professor Ross, Sean Gerardo, Vanessa Moon, Vulcan, Zeke Leven

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting. Wouldn’t have expected a tie-in to the American Revolution quite like that. Although Sands did imply Washington was (is?) a Heretic in arc… 17, I think.

    The painting was a bit haunting.

    Nodding at that, Vanessa reached down into the bag on the chair beside her. “Yeah, so I um, I looked into it too. I wanted to help, especially since Scout was already helping Tristan and me by looking into anything she could find about the… um, my mom’s while they were in Europe.”

    Should there be a word after “mom’s” in the last sentence?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Although Sands did imply Washington was (is?) a Heretic in arc… 17, I think.

      15, while she was reacting to the news about Avalon being related to Bosch.

      Should there be a word after “mom’s” in the last sentence?

      Yup. ‘People.’ The phrase should be ‘my mom’s people’. Thanks. 🙂

      Like

      1. 15, while she was reacting to the news about Avalon being related to Bosch.

        Right, I was thinking of that time she trying to find a Bystander to compare Flick getting personally trained by Gaia to.

        Like

  3. Wow, for people who profess to be all about protecting Bystanders, violent military insurrection against the then-most powerful military in the Bystander World as a go to plan is…harsh.

    It was nearly six more (human generations) before a war came along to eclipse the casualties of the Revolution, and it wasn’t until WW-I that relative to population total casualties were greater than the Revolution.

    That was less a rebellion and more the (undocumented) first World War. Extremely fascinating world-building.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ““For new students like–” The other girl paused before gesturing back and forth. “Like you and me. Like Shiori. Like Tristan. Like Koren. Students who need extra… guidance. Extra help, from people who understand, people who can tell them–us the truth. Maybe that’s why she stacked the deck for the first-years. Because from second year on, we can still talk to the first-year teachers. They can still help. But you said it yourself, most of us don’t even know who the upper-class teachers are, let alone have any idea of how to get advice from them. She puts the people she trusts in the younger years and lets us bond with them earlier instead of spreading them out.””
    Me: Almost sounds like how to set-up and/or expand a (semi-covert) Resistance movement, doesn’t it? Which, frankly, Gaia and those she trusts are doing against current-day Heretic culture/society.

    “”“You might say that without Crossroads working to neuter Great Britain’s power, and thus the power of Eden’s Garden, the United States never would have been formed.
    “And wouldn’t that have been a very different world to live in?” ”
    Me: And now I’m wondering if one or more of the Founding Fathers was a Crossroads Heretic or had close connections with them.

    Like

  5. Well, that was interesting bit of background on Avalon’s mother, in that she changed her name a lot, and that a lot of the paperwork that ought to be associated with her is missing. Plus, among what little there is, there’s a drawing of the lighthouse the Edge is in & a Seosten from one of her dreams. So, seems like her grandmother was a Heretic who tried to go to ground, and even if Avalon’s mother never awakened as a Heretic, she was quite possibly told about Heretical things. And it seems like this Seosten plot to gain control of the Bosch vault has been going on for some time, and the conspiracy targeting Avalon is only the latest version, as the Seosten got her mother, and presumably her grandmother beforehand.

    And then that history lesson- damn. So, the schism that led to the Crossroads/Garden split was going on in the second half of the 18th century, and as part of a power play over control of North America, the Garden got their hooks into the British Parliament and used that influence to their advantage, so Crossroads manipulated and provoked things to bring about the American Revolution so as to put a damper on the Garden/British influence, and that was part of a larger scheme to contain the Garden’s influence by attempting to curb the expansion and power of Britain.

    Makes one wonder just how much of the Second Hundred Years War was the result of the Garden & Crossroads manipulating the Bystander world to try and get an advantage over each other, and, for that matter, whether it has anything to do with how & why Canada has been taken over by a powerful Stranger, or why the French Heretics don’t particularly care for other groups of Heretics?

    I’m Pretty Sure That Eden’s Garden Teaches A Slightly Different Variation Of That Story.

    Hmm, wonder if the equivalent part of the history curriculum at the Garden would have some choice words for Crossroads at this time, probably accusing them of being willing to sacrifice a bunch of Bystander lives through manipulating them into bloody wars, just to try to get one over on the Garden. Imagine that would be another subject where things would get, ah… contentious in a chat between Crossroads & Garden people.

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    1. Makes one wonder just how much of the Second Hundred Years War was the result of the Garden & Crossroads manipulating the Bystander world to try and get an advantage over each other, and, for that matter, whether it has anything to do with how & why Canada has been taken over by a powerful Stranger, or why the French Heretics don’t particularly care for other groups of Heretics?

      Good questions.

      Imagine that would be another subject where things would get, ah… contentious in a chat between Crossroads & Garden people.

      That’s for sure.

      Like

  6. and here could come an helpfull explanation about France and french heretics, since:
    – France isn’t dominated by either Eden Garden nor Crossroad but by a third party
    – France medled in the american revolution first then was at war (Napoleonic wars) with the whole Europe…
    and before all that, they alway were a “main character” in Europa history, so there must be many interesting thing to dig there…
    also
    their stance on strangers (kill them all [Crossroad]/ use the one we can, kill the others [Eden Garden]/ live and let live [Felicity mother utopia])
    their source of power awakening (lighthouse [Crossroad] / apple [Eden garden])
    and since we started on a third party, there must be 4th, 5th and so, partie, as humanity, heretics or not are unlikely to be unified in less than dozens power groups

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, besides Crossroads, Eden’s Garden, and whatever the French group goes by, we’ve seen mentions of at least two other Heretic factions, the unaffiliated group Prosser leads after taking over when the Atherby line nearly died out as a result of the invasion of DeSoto, and a Chinese group that Shiori’s bio-dad is (or perhaps was) part of the top leadership of brought up in 19-07.

      Like

  7. Wow, this is an awesome story. Read it all over the past two days and thoroughly enjoyed the characterisation, the convoluted plot(s), and above all else the worldbuilding. Keep up the good work!
    There were, however, a few points that struck me as odd;

    1) Until the last few chapters, pretty much all the major antagonists were male, and the majority of the friends/allies the story focused on were female. Hoping we’ll see some credible female bad guys. Pace seems like a good immediate candidate; as a werewolf heretic who likes killing, she could easily get human victims to infect and execute. I’d like to see how strong/tough/fast/agile she’d become with a few hundred “werewolf” kills under her belt. Plus with easy access to the alter-infested woods, she could pile up monstrous alter kills too.

    2) Given how many times Heretic students are paralysed mid-fight by the euphoria of a kill, how hesitating over killing Alters is something Crossroads wants to eliminate, and how valuable regeneration is, why aren’t new students going through exercises that would deal with all those matters? Just have Peridle-summoning circles like the one used in Avalon’s attempted assassination, one that summons a bug every time a student kills the previous bug. Then put students in rooms with said circles instead of standard exercise. They’ll learn to ignore the euphoria, learn to kill more easily, familiarize themselves with their weapon, do great exercise, and rack up regeneration. If one Peridle kill could heal wounds in minutes, could a thousand kills enable healing in seconds or less? It’s not as if thirty thousand kills per year are going to be a blimp in a species’ multiversal population.

    3) A cellphone-sized expanded container could hold two hundred pounds. A gun-sized expanded container could fit a heavy artillery gun, or a 50-mm rotary cannon. Why not give heretics that kind of firepower?
    3b) Armor is good. We saw how tough some armored Alters are to kill. Since Heretics can make weapons that withstand point-blank explosions with no damage, wouldn’t similarly tough armor over their recruits help? Especially since any Heretic with super-strength could wear armor thicker than any human.

    4) How come don’t magic-focused Heretics use it in combat? Sure, magic isn’t fast. Unless you use triggered spells. A wizard could load up on hundreds of invisible, intangible enchanted objects. In a fight, he’d essentially be calling magic in an instant.

    Now, a few questions on hypothetical situations;

    1) What happens if the Heretics attempt to hit Fossor with a pocket-nuke? By that I mean a suitcase-sized extradimensional space containing a 100-megaton thermonuclear bomb.
    1b) What happens if Fossor has Ammon send a nuke into Crossroads when Felicity is not there? One set to trigger as soon as it is transported so any guards in the room with the reaper head can’t stop it no matter how fast they react.

    2) Fomorians are banished from Earth, like Fossor. But they have both spaceships and genetic slaves for grunt work. Can the Heretics stop a Fomorian fleet from parking in orbit, performing kinetic strikes on major cities, and sending a few hundred thousand monsters to mop up resistance?

    3) With Fomorians being so good bio-engineers, how come one of those remaining on Earth didn’t make an underwater lab and start cloning himself into a Fomorian army?

    4) Why does Felicity need anyone to send her back in time to stop Fossor? She could spend decades building up her powers and magic in the future before she gets back, including learning how to get back on her own. And with the possession power of a Seosten, she can look into anything her hosts know, including their knowledge of magic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, just to let you know (and maybe you already do), there’s a discussion thread for HE over on the Spacebattles forum site, which tends to be a much more active place to discuss these kinds of questions (due to the thread being much easier to use than these comments sections): https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/heretical-edge-discussion-thread.358588/

      As for these hypothetical situations…

      1. Why don’t they send a nuke at Fossor? According to WoG, they did. Here’s a link: https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/heretical-edge-discussion-thread.358588/page-46#post-22558807

      1b. I don’t think Fossor would want to nuke Crossroads like that. Partially because of this WoG: https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/heretical-edge-discussion-thread.358588/page-95,

      Which seems to indicate that he’d rather not disintegrate too many Heretic corpses or destroy the Heretical Edge itself.

      2. Maybe the Fomorians already have sent ships to attack Earth… but space is vast. Depending on how far away Earth and the Fomorian homeworld are form each other, it could take centuries to get there even with FTL. And that assumes that the two planets are in the same dimension. Remember that the Meregan world is in a different dimension from Earth.

      3. Maybe one or two has tried that. Or maybe Stranded Fomorians don’t have the resources necessary to pull that kind of thing off.

      4. I”m guessing that traveling through time becomes more difficult the farther back you go. Tristan’s trip back wasn’t exactly a safe and easy trip, and he was only sent back five years. There could be other factors that make Future!Flick feel the need to move faster, but we don’t know what they might be yet.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Wow, this is an awesome story. Read it all over the past two days and thoroughly enjoyed the characterisation, the convoluted plot(s), and above all else the worldbuilding. Keep up the good work!

      Good to hear, thanks! And thanks for the interesting questions to cover.

      Until the last few chapters, pretty much all the major antagonists were male, and the majority of the friends/allies the story focused on were female. Hoping we’ll see some credible female bad guys. Pace seems like a good immediate candidate; as a werewolf heretic who likes killing, she could easily get human victims to infect and execute. I’d like to see how strong/tough/fast/agile she’d become with a few hundred “werewolf” kills under her belt. Plus with easy access to the alter-infested woods, she could pile up monstrous alter kills too.

      Yeah, I’ve been working to rectify that with Pace taking a bigger spot, the semi-introduction of Denuvus, and now Charmeine.

      Given how many times Heretic students are paralysed mid-fight by the euphoria of a kill, how hesitating over killing Alters is something Crossroads wants to eliminate, and how valuable regeneration is, why aren’t new students going through exercises that would deal with all those matters? Just have Peridle-summoning circles like the one used in Avalon’s attempted assassination, one that summons a bug every time a student kills the previous bug. Then put students in rooms with said circles instead of standard exercise. They’ll learn to ignore the euphoria, learn to kill more easily, familiarize themselves with their weapon, do great exercise, and rack up regeneration. If one Peridle kill could heal wounds in minutes, could a thousand kills enable healing in seconds or less? It’s not as if thirty thousand kills per year are going to be a blimp in a species’ multiversal population.

      Honestly? This will be covered later, but for anyone who happens to read this comment, it’s because killing too many too soon before they’re accustomed to it doesn’t innoculate them against the the feeling, it tends to addict them to it. So they tend to become a lot more bloodthirsty. Which is why Gaia discourages it. Obviously it doesn’t happen to everyone, but let’s say you take a class of 100 and have each of them kill a hundred peridles. Then say only ten percent get addicted and lose control. That’s ten super powered serial killers that will kill anything to get that rush.

      3) A cellphone-sized expanded container could hold two hundred pounds. A gun-sized expanded container could fit a heavy artillery gun, or a 50-mm rotary cannon. Why not give heretics that kind of firepower?

      When you get right down to it? Because a story about every character walking around with a heavy artillery gun would be boring after the first fight. Plus, every job doesn’t require a sledgehammer.

      3b) Armor is good. We saw how tough some armored Alters are to kill. Since Heretics can make weapons that withstand point-blank explosions with no damage, wouldn’t similarly tough armor over their recruits help? Especially since any Heretic with super-strength could wear armor thicker than any human.

      Full Heretics that get into heavy combat and don’t have sufficient powers that would render the armor pointless do tend to wear it sometimes.

      4) How come don’t magic-focused Heretics use it in combat? Sure, magic isn’t fast. Unless you use triggered spells. A wizard could load up on hundreds of invisible, intangible enchanted objects. In a fight, he’d essentially be calling magic in an instant.

      There are Heretics who rely on magic in a fight. Remember, we haven’t seen that many adult Heretics in an actual fight.

      1) What happens if the Heretics attempt to hit Fossor with a pocket-nuke? By that I mean a suitcase-sized extradimensional space containing a 100-megaton thermonuclear bomb.

      Hendy covered this well. It wasn’t a pretty sight when they tried it.

      1b) What happens if Fossor has Ammon send a nuke into Crossroads when Felicity is not there? One set to trigger as soon as it is transported so any guards in the room with the reaper head can’t stop it no matter how fast they react.

      Hendy also covered this.

      2) Fomorians are banished from Earth, like Fossor. But they have both spaceships and genetic slaves for grunt work. Can the Heretics stop a Fomorian fleet from parking in orbit, performing kinetic strikes on major cities, and sending a few hundred thousand monsters to mop up resistance?

      The Fomorians are banished from the same *dimension/reality* that Earth is in, not just the same planet. More on this later as we get into the planetary stuff that we’ve been seeing a little bit in things like the Haiden, Sariel, Larissa interludes.

      3) With Fomorians being so good bio-engineers, how come one of those remaining on Earth didn’t make an underwater lab and start cloning himself into a Fomorian army?

      They have. Heretics are busy little beavers.

      4) Why does Felicity need anyone to send her back in time to stop Fossor? She could spend decades building up her powers and magic in the future before she gets back, including learning how to get back on her own. And with the possession power of a Seosten, she can look into anything her hosts know, including their knowledge of magic.

      I can’t really answer this one yet, sorry.

      Liked by 2 people

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