Sharkhunt 23-01

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Please note that there was a commissioned mini-interlude posted yesterday that was focused on Wyatt and Abigail. If you missed it,  you may wish to use the previous chapter button above. 

“So, wait, you’re seriously telling me that all these guys were built by one Heretic?”

It was Monday, January 29th, a couple of days since my staff had been upgraded and almost a week since the meeting with the Committee, and… and when I had killed Doxer. Not that it had gotten any easier to think about. It was a good thing I didn’t need much sleep, because every time I closed my eyes, I saw the older boy’s grapple tearing through his throat, and his look of surprise.

Luckily, I had plenty of distractions to keep my mind off it. Two of which were sitting on the arm of the couch in the rec room with me. Jaq and Gus, my new little cyberform mice, had spent the past week gradually warming up to me. They were still pretty skittish, but they listened to what I said and didn’t seem to act like I was about to rip them apart every time I picked the little guys up.

I’d asked about the fact that they seemed to be accepting me pretty quickly for someone who had killed their last master, and Professor Dare had explained that it was purposeful. The cyberforms were designed to latch onto and obey whoever their owner was, similar to the way that a baby animal imprinted on its mother. When the old owner died, the imprint programming would wipe and set up to latch onto a new one. They didn’t forget their old owner, they were just conditioned to accept a new one relatively easily after the old one died.  

Yeah, apparently unlike most of our Heretic weapons, cyberforms weren’t buried with their owner when the Heretic died. Instead, a sort-of fake stand-in was used while the real thing was passed to someone else. That… somehow made me feel a little better. The idea of burying these guys while they were still ‘alive’ just because their owner had died had made me kind of queasy.

Vanessa, Tristan, and Sean were in there with me, waiting for it to be time to go to class. The latter gave Vulcan a little scratch behind the ears (I still wasn’t sure how the metal creatures felt things like that, but they sure seemed to like it) while shrugging. “Sort of. I mean, at first it was just one guy that made the cyberforms. But a few other Heretics managed to work out enough of his blueprints and reverse-engineer them to make their own. That’s how they ended up in both Eden’s Garden and Crossroads. But yeah, I’d say about seventy percent of them were made by one guy.”

“But…” I paused, watching as Vulcan stepped closer to the couch. He lowered his head while making an inviting noise for the two mice to climb on. Jaq and Gus both looked at each other, then up at me as though waiting for permission. I gestured. “Go on, but don’t forget your brother.”

Immediately, the two of them hopped over behind where Herbie was sitting, carrying the little guy between them as they scampered onto the mechanical dog’s back. They had really taken to their new ‘big brother’, carrying him around all the time. Hell, the first time one of the others had reached for my favorite rock without permission had been the first time that I heard Jaq and Gus hiss as they put themselves in front of him. They were already fiercely protective of Herbie.

As the three cyberforms (and one rockform) bounded around the room together, I shook my head before continuing. “But why? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the guys, but…” Gesturing to the mechanical snake that lay stretched across the back of the couch, her head on Tristan’s shoulder, I finished, “Why did he make ‘robot animals that turn into weapons’? And how are they so life-like? I mean, Heretic technology is impressive, but these guys seem like they’re actually alive.

Vanessa spoke up then, her hand slowly stroking gently along Bobbi-Bobbi’s side as she explained. “The man who invented them is named Harrison Fredericks. He’s pretty much a recluse now, but about twenty-five years ago, he was part of an expedition to another dimension. See, there was this really powerful witch named Telsima–”

“Wait,” I quickly interrupted. “Witch. Those aren’t normal Strangers, right? I mean–” I coughed, shaking my head. “I mean they aren’t the kind that set off the Heretic Sense, because they’re…”

“Humans that were bonded with some other Stranger to become natural Heretics,” Vanessa finished for me. “Basically, yes. Usually it’s a human that’s bonded with a Stranger who gives no benefit beyond unlocking the ability to use magic. But that’s not quite right. Sometimes they set off the Heretic Sense, and sometimes they don’t. It depends on the Stranger they’re bonded with.”  

That made sense. After all, vampires set off the Heretic sense, and they were basically natural Heretics. Actually, was there any difference between natural Heretics and vampires beyond the fact that they apparently couldn’t do magic? I made a mental note to ask Senny about that.

“Okay,” I replied, “so there was a witch named Telsima, and some kind of dimensional portal?”

“A dimensional portal that she created,” Vanessa confirmed. “They killed the witch, but the portal was still there. So…. Crossroads sort-of set up an expedition to go through and see what they could find. Harrison Fredericks was one of the only two who actually made it back here. He said they had to fight some people over there that had… you know, powers, like Heretics do. Only they seemed to be human. The point is, there was one that had all these mechanical animals helping him. Fredericks killed him, and suddenly he could make the things. It was as if the guy he killed had a superpower specifically geared toward ‘building super-advanced cybernetic animals’. Then when Fredericks killed him, he inherited the same power with the same focus.”

“A human being who had the superpower of ‘build things’?” I stared at her for a moment after that. “So this Fredericks guy kills the alternate-reality human, gains his super-inventor power, and starts making all these guys until some of his plans get out and other Heretics manage to copy them?”

“Then he went into reclusion,” she finished with a little nod. “Pretty much, yeah. Sometimes he still comes out with new ones, but he sells them to the highest bidder, whichever side they’re on.”

Sitting back against the couch at that, I stared at Vulcan as he continued to take Jaq, Gus, and Herbie for a ride around the room. “Wow. And here I thought Heretic-society was just weird.”

“Oh, it’s definitely weird,” Tristan informed me with a quick smile. “Just weird with a purpose.”

Pushing himself up, Sean nodded. “That’s pretty much our motto, yup. Weird with a purpose. Anyway, you guys ready to go?”

Checking my watch, I saw that he was right. Stranger Truths was about to start in a few minutes. “Yup, let’s go from Professor Moon’s class to Nevada’s.” Winking at the other girl as she blushed, I reached down to pick up my three little buddies from Vulcan’s back, tucking them into the pocket of my uniform jacket before walking out with the others to head for class.

******

“So,” Nevada announced about twenty minutes later. “Who can tell me what one of the most important effects for a Heretic to protect themselves against is?” True to form, the bubbly young teacher was dressed in white shorts, a bright pink top with a white smiley face on it, and sandals. She looked more like she was ready for a day on the beach than to teach a class about monsters.

Across the room, Travis Colby raised a hand. “Uh, death?” he asked with a quirked eyebrow.

Nevada gave a laugh at that, along with the rest of the class. “Okay, yes, that too. But this is almost as important. Anyone?” Glancing around, she shook her head before finishing, “Mind control. See? Mind control is one of the most dangerous problems that a Heretic can face, because it turns all their power not just against themselves, but against everyone they care about. And in its basic form, mind control or something similar to it isn’t exactly a rare power for a Stranger to have. You’ve all heard the stories about monsters who can control people.”

“So what do we do about it?” That was Sands, her hand raised as she spoke. “Isn’t there a way to protect against being controlled, if it’s such a common thing?”  

Nevada nodded. “Yes, there is. By the time you graduate, most Heretics are given the chance to absorb several different powers that block most kinds of mind control. I believe it’s your junior or senior year when they focus on that kind of thing, mostly because you’ll be strong enough by that point to actually kill the Strangers who can give you that sort of protection.”

Jasmine’s hand shot into the air then, her voice pointed. “So someone like, say, the head of security for a place like this school should have every protection there is against mind control?”

I knew I wasn’t imagining the fact that almost everyone in the class not-so-subtly turned slightly to look at me, including Jasmine herself. They were all looking my way, their thoughts obvious.

“Okay, yeah.” Nevada gave a knowing nod at that. “Obviously, we all know what you’re talking about. The boy who invaded the school not-so-long ago with a vendetta against Flick here.”

“He controlled Professor Kohaku,” Gordon announced flatly. “How did he do that? She’s head of security, shouldn’t she be immune to being controlled? If not, that’s a pretty big security hole.”

Beside me, Avalon spoke up. “She is immune, just like all the teachers are. He’s just… different.”

“Different how?” Gavin Rish asked, his hand in the air. “How does some little kid control our head of security? That just seems, y’know, weak.” He gave a shrug then, his eyes never leaving me.

“Never judge a book by its cover,” Nevada reminded them. “Just because the boy looks young and helpless doesn’t mean he can’t have one of the most powerful mind control abilities in the world. Appearances can be deceiving.” She let that hang for a moment before continuing. “But to reiterate, yes, graduating Heretics tend to take on protections from many forms of mind control. By the time they reach Professor Kohaku’s level, they’re immune to pretty much all of it. At least, all of it that can be protected against. Obviously, there are always exceptions. It’s like the Bystanders say about computer viruses:  every time there’s an uncrackable defense, someone will come up with a way to break it. It just so happens that the boy who came that night was… special, somehow.” She trailed off for a moment, obviously thinking about it before shaking her head. “Anyway, there you go. High-level Heretics are immune to almost every form of mind control, but no defense is always going to be one hundred percent effective. Remember that, the next time you start getting big heads. There’s always gonna be someone whose power can counter yours.”

Not content to let it go just like that, Douglas spoke up. “But who was he? What kind of little kid, even if he just looked like a little kid, could break in here and mind-whammy the head of security? And why would he do all that just to make everyone go after Flick? What was the point? And–”

“I heard he was Denuvus.” That was Shiori’s roommate, Rebecca. The tiny girl was one of the only people who wasn’t looking at me. Her attention was on Nevada. “You know, in disguise.”

“Don’t be stupid,” the always-charming Zeke blurted then, his eyes rolling dramatically at Rebecca. “Denuvus doesn’t exist. Or if he ever did, he’s been dead and gone for a long time. He’s just a bogeyman that Strangers use to threaten each other, and us. He’s not real.”

“Well, then you explain it,” Rebecca shot back at him. “Some little kid has enough oomph behind his mind control power to puppet the head of security? Either our security sucks, or he’s someone with an unbeatable mind control power. Oh, and guess what? When he took control, he said his name. He said his name, Zeke. Who the hell does that sound like to you?”

The boy shrugged. “It sounds like someone with a massive mind control power who heard the same rumors you did and decided to use them to give himself a scary reputation right away.”

That just made a bunch of people in the class start talking over each other. The Heretic-born were arguing about whether Denuvus could actually exist, while the Bystander-kin were trying to butt in to ask who the hell he was. Meanwhile, all I could do was sit there and try not to look like I already knew the answer to all that. Because of course Denuvus was real. Twister had already told me about how she had been killed by Fossor because one of the other Pooka had done a job for him by stealing some of Denuvus’s blood, and then tried to stiff the necromancer by selling it to someone else. Fossor had gotten it after all and used it to give Ammon his powers.

So Denuvus was real. They were right about that much. But now some of them thought that Ammon was Denuvus. And I had to pretend that I didn’t know what any of this was about.

Sometimes I didn’t know which was worse, all the questions I didn’t have any answers to, or the ones that I did have answers to but had to pretend that I didn’t. Growing up, I had been all about getting news out there, about exposing the secrets that people tried to hide. Now I was burying most of the secrets that I knew, and sometimes I didn’t really like how that felt. I didn’t like it at all.

Finally, Erin Redcliffe managed to speak over everyone else. “What do you think, Nevada?” She gestured toward our teacher while the rest of the class quieted down. “Does Denuvus exist?”

Something a little strange happened then. I swore that Nevada’s head started to nod before her expression twisted a little bit, like she was fighting against something. It only lasted for a brief second, before her smile returned. “Well, some people say he does, others say he doesn’t,” she answered noncommittally. “But we do know from what happened in the dorms that the level of mind control that Denuvus is rumored to have does exist. So we can–” She stopped then, head tilting a little. Again, it looked like she was about to say something, or trying to say something. But that moment passed as well, and she walked to the board. “Anyway, let’s start talking about the different kinds of protection there are against being controlled like that, shall we?”

There were still more questions about Denuvus, but Nevada mostly side-stepped them. She only answered what she had to, repeatedly pulling the class back to the main subject. Which was weird, since she never objected to us going off on tangents, particularly when they were at least semi-related to the subject. She never avoided questions like that, and I had absolutely never seen her act like she did when it had looked like she wanted to say something but then changed the subject. It worried me, because it felt like another problem when we really couldn’t afford one.

What was going on with Nevada, and why did she act so weird when Denuvus was mentioned?

******  

“You sure you’re ready for this?” I asked Avalon hours later. It was just past curfew, as the two of us sat on her bed. My head was nuzzled against her shoulder as I held her hand.

Squeezing my fingers, the other girl snorted before giving the top of my head a gentle kiss. “Of course I’m ready, Chambers. You have no idea how long I’ve been looking forward to this.”

“That long, huh?” I teased, straightening up to look at her with a little smile while giving the girl a gentle poke in the shoulder. “Did you ever think you’d actually get the chance?”  

“I knew I would,” she answered flatly, though a tiny smile tugged at her trying-to-be-stoic lips. Despite herself, she couldn’t quite hold back her emotions. “I don’t give up that easily.”

“Oh,” I replied, giggling despite myself. “I guess we should go for it then.” She nodded once more, and I heaved myself to my feet, offering a hand to the other girl. As she took it, I helped her up and we went to the door. Peeking out, I looked both ways, then headed out while beckoning for her to follow.

Sneaking out of the dorm was easy enough. After all, I had a pass to be up and around all night long, past curfew. Which meant that between it and my item-sense, I could let Avalon know when it was safe to move around. Together, the two of us quickly headed across the grounds and to the edge of the shield where the path down to the beach was. With a quick look to each other, we stepped across and then waited for a moment.

Nothing. Gaia had promised that we would be added to the exceptions for the night, but I still let out a breath when we didn’t have a bunch of security jump down our throats. Nodding to Avalon, I walked ahead as we moved toward the predetermined meeting spot

“Hi, guys!” Shiori stage-whispered, practically giving me a heart attack while popping up out of the bushes just barely outside the range of my item-sense. She waved. “You made it.”

“Did you have a hard time getting past Rebecca?” Avalon asked, not having jumped at all.

In answer, Shiori glanced toward me before blushing as her head shook. “She–umm, she doesn’t know.”

I blushed as well. In preparation for this, the other girl and I had made it a point to sneak out now and then over the past couple of nights, always letting Rebecca ‘catch us’ sneaking back in while acting… well, embarrassing, to put it simply. If Shiori’s roommate did notice that she was out of bed tonight, we wanted her to think that we had just snuck out for another… date.

“Is it here?” I asked, looking around. “They said they’d leave it right out under that tree, but I don’t–”

Shiori held up what looked like a wooden pencil box with a combination lock on it. “Right where they said it’d be.”

She held it out, and I took the thing. Carefully inserting the combination that I had been given, I looked back to the others. “You guys ready for this?”

They both nodded, and I opened the box before quickly dropping it. As I did so, a brilliant blue burst of energy shot out, shaping itself into a portal that hovered there in the air. Together, the three of us moved through the portal.

Stepping out the other side, we found ourselves standing on the edge of a crystal clear lake, illuminated by the moonlight. There was a simple wooden cabin in the distance, with a dock that led out to a sailboat. But most importantly, standing directly in front of us was a man. A tall, handsome, dark-skinned man who stood with one hand resting lightly on the shovel beside him.

“Hey there. Good to see you again, Felicity,” Gabriel Prosser announced. “And these must be your girlfriends. Shiori and Avalon, right?”

Beside me, Avalon made a noise that sounded an awful lot like a high-pitched squeak. It was the single most surprising, strangest sound that I had ever heard come directly from my roommate.

“Uh,” I looked that way. “Avalon, are you…” I trailed off, staring. Not because there was a problem, not because we had suddenly been attacked or something had gone horribly wrong. No, I stared because Avalon had the single goofiest, absurd smile on her face. She looked utterly enraptured, like a little preteen meeting her idol.

“Oh my god,” I managed to get out.

“Avalon’s a fangirl.”

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47 comments

  1. Start of a new arc! And we finally get to see Avalon meet Prosser right away! This is gonna be a fun time, huh?

    I hope you guys enjoyed that chapter with its answers and references to things I certainly know nothing about. 😉 And hey, if you did enjoy it, please think about dropping a vote for this story at Top Web Fiction by clicking right here! Thank you so much.

    Tags for this chapter are: Bobbi-Bobbi, Felicity Chambers, Flick, Gavin Rish, Gordon Kuhn, Gus, Herbie, I Have Absolutely No Idea What Kind Of World This Harrison Guy Could Possibly Have Gone To. It’s Gonna Bug Me Forever., Jaq, Jazz Rhodes, Nevada, Rebecca Jameson, Sands, Sean Gerardo, Shiori Porter, Travis Colby, Tristan Moon, Vanessa Moon, Vulcan, Wait Until Avalon Begs For An Autographed Tee-Shirt., Zeke Leven

    Liked by 1 person

  2. ““Don’t be stupid,” the always-charming Zeke blurted then, his eyes rolling dramatically at Rebecca. “Denuvus doesn’t exist. Or if he ever did, he’s been dead and gone for a long time. He’s just a bogeyman that Strangers use to threaten each other, and us. He’s not real.””
    Me: Oh Zeke, you ought to know better than to discount anything in a world of magic off-hand like that.

    “What was going on with Nevada, and why did she act so weird when Denuvus was mentioned? ”
    Me: That’s quite the interesting and dramatic tale Flick, one that Nevada doesn’t remember fondly and obviously is reluctant to speak of.

    “Beside me, Avalon made a noise that sounded an awful lot like a high-pitched squeak. It was the single most surprising, strangest sound that I had ever heard come directly from my roommate. ”
    Me: Not sure why Flick is that surprised, since she is aware her girlfriend has a noted interest in anything Prossor-related IIRC. Heh. Still, Avalon’s reaction is amusing to me.

    ““Oh my god,” I managed to get out.

    “Avalon’s a fangirl.”

    Me: Pfffft. And she finally puts 2 and 2 together.

    Also, interesting to see Gus and Jaq get along with Herbie so well so quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me: That’s quite the interesting and dramatic tale Flick, one that Nevada doesn’t remember fondly and obviously is reluctant to speak of.

      To say the least.

      Me: Not sure why Flick is that surprised, since she is aware her girlfriend has a noted interest in anything Prossor-related IIRC. Heh. Still, Avalon’s reaction is amusing to me.

      I know, right?

      Like

  3. Sharkhunt, huh? Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen later in this arc… Although it could theoretically refer to Flick’s sharks, or even Flick herself if you want to get figurative, rather than Fahsteth.

    You know, I’m looking forward to seeing Zeke get taken down a few dozen pegs almost as much as the Committee. And holeee shit. I just did reread the section with Nevada’s class, and I realized that while she could have been internally conflicted about whether or not to speak, she could also still be under magical compulsion not to talk about her original Master.

    Other than that depressing note, who is the “they” that left the pencil box? Prosser’s people? Gaia’s teachers?

    Eh, whatever, we need to see more of fangirl Avalon!

    (Joking aside, I can see how Avalon would look up to someone who overcame abuse and servitude to educate himself).

    Like

    1. Sharkhunt, huh? Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen later in this arc… Although it could theoretically refer to Flick’s sharks, or even Flick herself if you want to get figurative, rather than Fahsteth.

      Clearly it involves the whole team going onto Shark Tank.

      You know, I’m looking forward to seeing Zeke get taken down a few dozen pegs almost as much as the Committee.

      He doesn’t seem to have many good sides, does he?

      Other than that depressing note, who is the “they” that left the pencil box? Prosser’s people? Gaia’s teachers?

      Prosser’s people.

      (Joking aside, I can see how Avalon would look up to someone who overcame abuse and servitude to educate himself).

      Indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s still impressive, given the whole “pocket dimension” thing.

        Also scary, because it means others may have figured out how to do it.

        Like

  4. Sooo that Harrison killed a Tinker who specializes in AI constructs? That’s pretty darn cool. And now I want the story to go off on that tangent!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Landcollector: That’s quite the interesting and dramatic tale Flick, one that Nevada doesn’t remember fondly and obviously is reluctant to speak of.

    Me: And Nevada is possibly _still_ under some compulsions regarding what she’s not allowed to talk about Denuvus.

    … as I see Hendy already pointed out. 8P

    Do Cyberforms imprint personality traits from their owners as well? ’cause Jak and Gus are showing the typical Atherby protectiveness towards family. 8)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Me: And Nevada is possibly _still_ under some compulsions regarding what she’s not allowed to talk about Denuvus.

      … as I see Hendy already pointed out. 8P

      Based on the descriptions of her as a master manipulator, I would be incredibly surprised if Denuvus didn’t make sure to take those kinds of countermeasures to ensure the djinni that periodically left her service couldn’t give anything about her away. It also wouldn’t surprise me to learn that whatever she did place that compulsion on Nevada would be strong enough to outlast changing her species.

      But the real question is this: Is that compulsion an order from her mind control powers, or some other form of magic. If it’s the former, it means Denuvus’ power is stronger than Ammon’s, since his victims leave his control once they’re unconscious.

      Like

    2. Do Cyberforms imprint personality traits from their owners as well? ’cause Jak and Gus are showing the typical Atherby protectiveness towards family. 8)

      Quite possibly.

      Like

  6. I swear Cerulean, if Herbie doesn’t become a golem of some sort by the power of Flick’s love at some point, I’m going to be sad and disappointed. And sad.

    Tsukumogami Herbie, I choose you!

    Like

    1. Though wouldn’t something have to be at least 100 years old before it can awaken as a tsukumogami? (In other words, it’s going to be a while before Herbie comes to life through that method, though hopefully, by then, Flick & Co. will changed Heretic society enough so that he won’t have to worry about being attacked as a Stranger….)

      Like

  7. I have to wonder, why is Flick playing the game? She doesn’t need to play by the rules and build up power in the traditional ways, currently Flick is pretty much just a particularly powerful infantry soldier. I think this situation can be compared to being challenged to a dual by the state of California and responding by taking fighting classes when really the options are A) Recruiting several large armies. B) Investing in WMDs. C)… Oh wait she seems to be taking C aka avoid the fight intirely. And finally D) all of the above.

    But still there’s lots of opportunities available to her that aren’t available to normal Heritics with their restrictive philosofies and she isint taking them.

    Or to put it another way although everybody these days thinks they know that might does not make right many do think on some level that right makes might and that it follows that if they have might then it must come from right, which exsplain alot about the powerfull. However things tend not to work that way, infact people/organisations with traditionally evil philosophies tend to be better at warfare simply through greater practical experience. Thus trying to fight them head on is playing their game when one should analysis their philosophy for flaws to exsploit as philosophy is the basic difference between sides of any fight that is even possibly nessesary to be fought. In Fossor’s case it seems to be the shear number of enemies his modus operandi creates, the only reason he hasn’t yet drouned under the weight of them is that they are too scared to attack him(with good reason), have more urgent issues(Prossor and associates) or consider him a minor issue and think they have bigger things to worry about, if they were organised perhaps they could pose a threat.
    Not critisisim, just thinking aloud.

    TL:DR I’m worried Flick will continue trying to solve problems by hitting them with her stick.

    Like

      1. hmm. for some reason I can’t reply to your later comments.

        yeah, rereading my comment, it does come across as more aggressive than I realized/intended at the time. I used the underscores to try and add emphasis, since there’s no italics button. My apologies for the tone of my previous post.

        While you are correct that there are many groups who hate Fosser, actually getting them to cooperate runs into problems, such as the Crossroads Committee as a whole believing that the only good Stranger is a dead one, while several of said groups that hate Fosser consist of Alters who have no reason to trust Crossroads.

        I’m trying to picture a world where sheep could have significant amounts of TK, yet still end up as a food animal, you’d think they would use said TK to combat or escape their predators…
        Remember killing a second critter that gives power X at strength Y doesn’t give the Heretic power = 2Y, but rather (Y+a fraction of Y), with the amount of boost decreasing steadily with additional kills.

        Plus there’s the factor that Ruthers has apparently decided his two great Hates have joined forces to torment him and suspects Flick of working to their (Fosser and Joselyn’s) plan.*rolls eyes* So he’s just gonna be _more_ obstructionist.

        Fossor’s primary strengths seem to be massive armies of cannon fodder and spells drawing on the life forces of those under his rule. It sounds like he can transfer damage to himself over to prepared victims (sort of like Lust in Intrepid)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the critisisim, this is the sort of comment I like. Anyway the sheep were just an example (current sheep could probably trample the sheepdog and ecscape if they tryed hard but they are just to stupid for it.) but ya now that I think about it I was underestimating the diminishing returns. I do still think there must be a better way than going out and hunting down each animal.

        Also I wasn’t suggesting the counsall work with strangers as that clearly wouldn’t work but the counsel on it’s own still packs a punch. On the other hand there may be other divisions among Fossor’s enemies and the counsall hasn’t already attacked implies there’s some reason for them not doing so. On the first hand again playing diplomat could be profitable.

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    1. Onetruevonix
      you say that Flick should be using a different method to prepare for Fosser, but you don’t actually _give_ any suggestions.on what you think she _should_ be doing.

      Please explain how you think she could do better.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Just FYI I wasn’t complaining, Flick doesn’t seem to be doing it just for plot convenience(I hate when a charicter’s charicter changes suddenly for no reason other than for a simpler plot but Cerulian is better than that.). I didn’t mention any ideas because the comment was already rather long and it was late, a few ideas I had were: There’s probably large numbers of groups who hate Fossor, if they were better organized or even in contact at all they could pose more of a threat or at least have the ability to get closer to being a threat. Fossor as far as we know can only be in one place at a time so an attack only needs to distract him in order to be worthwhile. If flick and co. could find a world where telikenetic sheep are a staple food source then get a job in an industrial livestock prossesing plant for a few months it’ll be far more efficient than going out and hunting them. Studying the remains of places Fossor has passed through could reveal something about his strengths and weaknesses. Constructing weapons beforehand could be far more effective than improving the ones they already have(AKA KKVs, one use teleporting exsplosives, etc). Although the allys in the counsall naturally can’t help Flicks potential ally’s directly carting several hundred tonnes of construction equipment to distant worlds on a whim is the kind of thing they do and may or may not be questioned. On that subject why not tell the counsall, they hate Fossor’s as much as the rest and a particular time and place for Fossor’s to be present is a good hint regardless of what they think of Flick and vice versa.

        Like

  8. “Wait,” I quickly interrupted. “Witch. Those aren’t normal Strangers, right? I mean–” I coughed, shaking my head. “I mean they aren’t the kind that set off the Heretic Sense, because they’re…”

    That (and the following paragraphs) were confusing. Don’t you usually call it “stranger sense” when someone registers as stranger to heretics (i.e. Flick’s stranger sense screamed at her). So I’d think heretic sense is stranger’s ability to detect heretics. Yet, you mention vampires triggering the heretic sense, so you mean what used to be stranger sense.

    Also, it sound like most natural heretics (except witches) register as strangers. But so far it doesn’t look like they’re being hunted. Prosser, for example, is well respected even. So it only makes sense that they register as heretics.

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    1. Heretic-sense and Stranger-sense have been being used interchangeably throughout the story. Pretty sure Heretic-sense has shown up more often.

      A “witch” is a specific type of natural Heretic that doesn’t gain any super power from the Alter they bonded other than the ability to use magic.

      For some reason, some witches/sorcerors and natural Heretics with actual powes (like vampires) set off the Heretic/Stranger sense. Crossroads Heretics than assume those witches and Heretics are dangerous and kill them, as they do.

      Gabriel Prosser doesn’t set off the Heretic/Stranger sense, so they don’t regard him as a Stranger. Asenath does, so they do.

      And to my knowledge, most natural Heretics don’t set off the alert, like Prosser, Nicholas Petan, every Crossroads and EG Heretic that was a Heretic before being exposed to the Edge.

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  9. The relationship between Herbie, Jaq and Gus is so adorable, it just made me want to smile. The “three cyberforms and one rockform” line made me giggle. Regarding the back-story for the invention of cyberforms, I see what you did there… Now I kind of want to see some more development track stuff at some point.

    Some speculation, Nevada’s odd behavior during the discussion about Denuvus reminds me of the magical oaths that Fossor has Jocelyn under. I guess those might have stuck around despite Nevada being transformed into a human.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I wonder what happened to the hangman body. At the very least you’d think they could have made a couple more super powered heretics like Prosser. (I’m assuming his undiluted access makes his power absorption abilities stronger than normal)

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    1. If you’re referring to the Hangman involved with making Prosser what he is, there was no body. To quote what I’ve said elsewhere on the subject:

      Gabriel hit the thing with one of the shovels that was there in preparation of burying him after he was hanged, trying to save the same people that were intent on killing him. The Hangman hurled him away, impaled him on one of the branches and broke his spine. Then it would have finished killing him, but there were a lot more reinforcements coming, so it left rather than stay since it had been injured.

      In the meantime, Gabriel fell next to the shovel that he’d used to attack the Hangman with. The blood on it from where he’d hit the thing mixed in with the blood from his extensive wounds. The people came, found Gabriel along with all the other bodies. Due to his horrific injuries, they thought he was dead and buried him. But by that time, the Hangman’s blood from the shovel had fully mixed with his, so he gained its powers and woke up again after being buried in the dirt. He clawed his way out of the grave and met up with the Heretic that had been sent to investigate the attack.

      So that Hangman is still out there.

      But yes, as a natural Hangman/Reaper Heretic, he gets every power when he kills something, not just one.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. reverse engineer the to make their own.

    That “the” should be a “them”

    Looks like Nevada is still under some sort of geas not to talk about Denuvus. Is that a left over from his base power, her having been a djinn or something else? I’m sure a lot of other students noticed that as well.

    I knew the Flick-Avalon scene wasn’t what a lot of people wanted it to be but I still had no idea what it was actually going to be
    Was happy to see Shiori but still had no idea where it was going, other than “not where most people would want it to”. Maybe Choo?

    Also:

    while acting… well, embarrassing, to put it simply.

    Not sure if that “embarrassing” should be an “embarrassed” or not.

    Oh. OH. It’s a meeting with Prosser. Holy shit. Did not see that coming.

    “Avalon’s a fangirl.”

    Didn’t Flick already know this?

    Well, this is looking to be a fun Arc. Curious about the name though. Knowing you though it’s going to have more than one meaning.

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      1. Because everyone IN STORY was using male pronouns it slipped my mind at the time and I realized my mistake re-reading my comment earlier today,

        Since you can’t edit posts I couldn’t fix it and I didn’t feel it was worth commenting on to have corrected for me.

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      2. Right. I figured it would be something like that. But there’s a lot of details in this story that people forget, and that seemed like the kind of thing that slips people’s minds occasionally. Sorry.

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  12. Aaaand officialy caught up now. That story is awesome, and I can’t wait for more updates. And Intrepid too, of course.

    Now for the reaction about the chapter… Herbie!’cyberform’ must happen. With its own joke tag. It’s just too perfect to not happen. Oh, and will we see more of Dork!Avalon? 😉 Tat’s just to precious.

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      1. Yeah, though I’ll have to wait tomorrow to read it (joy of living in Europe). And frankly, how could the fact the fic or story is updating fast and several times every week be not a problem (How long until Winds of Winter)?

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