Lessons 32-07

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“Today, we’ll mix in a little bit of your newest power,” Athena announced a few days later. At the moment, we were in a long, empty corridor. I wasn’t sure what it was for, but it kind of look like one of those special wind tunnels.

“So,” she continued then, “let’s see you make one.” She stepped back, folding her arms as she waited expectantly.

Right, she wanted to see that power, the one that I had gotten from that soldier who had been trying to make the portal to pull the rest of his companions through and cut us off while we were fighting Radueriel’s troops. Technically, I had killed two with that. There was the portal guy, of course, and the one who had been partially sticking out of the portal when it closed. From that second guy, I had received a significant boost to my balance. I could go across a beam like one of those trained gymnasts, or even make my way over marbles that were spread across the floor. Tabbris and I had practiced with that one a bit, and it was pretty fun finding out just how easy it was for me to maintain my balance even on slippery or narrow floors. And we’d definitely worked it into training. If nothing else, using my item-transfer power to suddenly cover a floor with a bunch of marbles or something to screw with people’s balance while mine remained just fine could end up being really useful.

But clearly, that wasn’t the power that Athena was talking about. Nor was she talking about the couple of other minor strength, stamina, and speed boosts that I have gotten from the few soldiers who had wandered into my planted mines. No, she wanted to see the other major one. So, I nodded and held up my hand while narrowing my eyes in concentration. Looking to the far end of the tunnel as far as I could see, I focused.

A couple of seconds later, a small, light blue portal appeared in the air right in front of my outstretched hand. It was only about a foot wide, or maybe even a little less. At the same time, an identical tiny portal appeared at the far end of the tunnel where my eyes were focused. With a smile, I stretched my hand forward through the portal. It appeared out the other end, and I waved to myself.

This was the power that I had inherited from that guy. I could make these small portals, not large enough to actually fit through or anything, but at least big enough to put my hand through and grab something small enough. They wouldn’t get any larger than this, or at least I hadn’t managed it yet. And I could only make them reach as far as I could see. The other end of the small portal had to be within my line of sight. But still, it was really cool. And there were a ton of ways to synergize it with my other powers and fighting style. I just needed practice. Especially when it came to making the portals appear quickly, without taking a few seconds to focus. If I could make them in the middle of a fight, it would be pretty awesome. Which, of course, was another advantage to having Tabbris around.

“Good,” Athena commended. “Now shut it down. Lady Tabbris, I would like you to take control of the left hand, and focus on creating portals and dismissing them. In the meantime, I will distract Lady Felicity. We will start very simply,” she promised.

With those words, the woman produced a simple baton. “Lady Felicity, I would like you to simply focus on blocking my blows with your staff. They will come slowly enough that you will be able to block them, but they will be sufficiently distracting that you will be unable to focus on creating the portals. You will need Lady Tabbris to do that. Shall we begin?”

We practiced that way for a little while, getting better and faster each time. Finally, I took a break to pick up a bottle of water, taking a long pull from it before remarking, “I wish you could train the others as much as you’re training me. Or at least Vanessa and Tristan. They deserve to learn from you more than I do. I mean, it’s their mother on the line.”

Blinking at that, Athena tilted her head a little while narrowing her eyes at me. “What do you mean?” she asked carefully. “Who exactly are Vanessa and Tristan?”

It was my turn to blink at that, equally confused. “Wait, you don’t know about them? I thought you knew about… uh, basically about all the stuff.” When the woman simply shook her head at me, I took a breath and let it out slowly. “Wow, okay then. Um, Vanessa and Tristan are Sariel’s other kids. You know, the ones that she had with Haiden, her human husband. The twins.”

For a few long seconds, Athena just squinted at me. “I am aware of Haiden Moon, and his work to locate his wife. But, as far as I am aware, they did not have any viable children.”

She doesn’t know? Tabbris sounded just as surprised as I felt. I thought she knew everything.

“Wow.” My mouth open and shut a couple times before I shook my head. “Well, whoever is giving you that information is either completely full of shit or they’re misinformed themselves. I… I just assumed you knew all this stuff, like… everything basically. I mean, what else don’t you know about? You know why Haiden and Larissa have been immune to Seosten possession, right? I mean–wait, no, you wouldn’t. Only Sariel, Larissa, and Haiden knew about it until we came along…”

Her response was to squint at me for a moment. “Their immunity is a topic of discussion, yes. The prevailing theory is that they were able to obtain the power of a rare creature with such an ability. Those do exist, though any who appear anywhere near Earth are quickly eliminated by non-human forces, and their remains utterly destroyed.”

Swallowing, I nodded slowly. “I can see why. But no, it’s a spell. Well, sort of.” Quickly, I explained what we knew about it, that the original effect came from something that Sariel had done, which Haiden and Larissa had figured out how to copy onto other people while obfuscating what it actually was.

Once I was done, the woman looked thoughtful for a moment. “This raises… many interesting questions, indeed. But not nearly so many as your previous statement. Viable children between a human and Seosten pairing. That is what I would like to know more about, Lady Felicity. If you would be so kind as to… enlighten me.”

So, I told her everything I knew about Vanessa and Tristan. I told her about Tristan being trapped on the Meregan world, about Vanessa ending up with the adoption people, and everything else they had told me. I told her about Tristan being linked to me in order to anchor him to Earth, and how we had to eventually transferred that to Vanessa. I even told her about how Vanessa had managed to make contact with her father thanks to Apollo’s help.

By the time I had finished, Athena was staring at me. If she had been the type, I was pretty sure her mouth would’ve been hanging open with surprise. As it was, she put a hand out to the nearby wall as if to steady herself. Her voice, when she finally spoke, cracked a little bit. “Viable children,” she murmured in a soft, utterly awed voice. “Viable children who show no ill signs or problems after blending human and Seosten genetics.”

Tabbris actually popped out of me then, stumbling a little before catching herself in her hurry. Looking up, she blurted, “You mean you really didn’t know about them?”

Athena looked back-and-forth between the two of us for a moment before her head shook. “I can assure you, I was not aware that any of this was the case. As far as I knew, no human and Seosten offspring had managed to survive past infancy. This is… remarkable. It is…” She trailed off, and I thought she looked pretty emotional about the whole thing. It really drove home to me just how much children meant to the Seosten. I remembered what Athena had said about how the Fomorians had murdered her husband and infant son. And now I wondered if she ever had a human lover after that, or anyone she had cared about that much, whom she was now imagining having another child with. Not to replace the one she had lost, but… to have another chance. I wondered what was going through the woman’s mind, as she blinked rapidly at the news that human/Seosten offspring were possible.

This was Athena, and I thought she might have been about to cry. Literally, physically cry, at the news that there were viable, living human-Seosten hybrid children.

Tabbris offered a hesitant, “I guess you really want to talk to them now too, huh?”

Meeting her gaze, Athena replied softly, her voice somewhat choked with emotion in a way that seemed utterly alien coming from her, “My… my lady, that is quite possibly the understatement of the past several millennia.”

********

“Come on, Tab! Come on, Flick!” Richton called a couple of days after our discussion with Athena about Vanessa and Tristan. He and the other three Seosten kids, along with Bandy and Reft, were standing at the far end of the sidewalk that ran in front of the house that Tabbris and I had been living in. The six of them wore obvious workout uniforms. Even Reft was wearing what looked like a bandana over his rocky head.

Approaching with my partner at my side, I asked, “You guys haven’t been waiting that long, have you?”

Kisea shook her head. “Nope, Richton’s just impatient.” Teasing her friend a little, she nudged him before looking back to us. “But are you guys ready?”

“Oh,” Meley put in then, her attention on Tabbris, “Those all fit okay?”

‘Those’, in this case, referred to the clothes that the little blonde girl was wearing. For once, she didn’t just have on that simple bodysuit. Instead, Meley had given her a pair of blue shorts and a white shirt. When Tabbris had objected, saying that all she really needed was the bodysuit, which would keep growing with her, Meley had pointedly replied that that wasn’t the point, and that Tabbris should have other clothes that were purely hers.

I liked Meley.

There had also been some talk about getting her an entire wardrobe of her own, along with other things. That had quieted down a little, but I was pretty sure giving her this single outfit was just the first step along those lines. Which was fantastic, because I wanted my little sister to have everything she deserved, even if she didn’t think that she needed any of it. She deserved that and so much more. These guys were great. It was just amazing to see how well they did with her, and how much they seemed to understand. Even if I hadn’t been getting all the extra training and everything else that I had been getting over these weeks, staying here would have been worth it just to have given Tabbris a chance to interact with kids at least close to her own age. Not to mention the fact that some were her own species, and weren’t horrible examples. My little partner needed that.

“Oh, uh.” Blinking down at herself, Tabbris nodded quickly. “Yeah,” she confirmed, “they all fit really good.” Belatedly, she added a quick, “Thanks!”

Meley just shrugged. “Plenty more where that came from,” she promised before adding, “Next time, you can pick out the colors.”

Before Tabbris could respond to that, Demeas cut in impatiently, “Okay, okay, can we stop talking about clothes and all that for now and focus on actually getting some exercise in? I’d like to work up a sweat for once.”

Richton nodded. “A couple laps around the neighborhood, and then we’ll make our way back for a break.” He looked to Tabbris then, his voice turning a little hopeful, “Then some magic and possession training?”

That was what we were doing with these guys. Tabbris was getting a little actual exercise of her own for once, while we had the chance. It was helping her with her coordination (which she desperately needed). And in exchange, she was teaching the others a bit of the magic that she knew from her mom, and some possession tricks. In the latter case, Bandy and Reft were the guinea pigs. Both had volunteered to let their friends practice their possession powers on them, which showed an incredible amount of trust between the members of the group.

The relatively short run wasn’t much of a workout for me of course, but I did like learning the magic and possession tricks, especially since I could actually do it myself. We all learned together from my little partner, who knew an incredible amount about that kind of stuff. Her mother had taught her well, and she was passing it on.

“Yup,” I confirmed while rubbing Tabbris’s head a little. “We run, then we practice, right?”

Her little head bobbing up and down quickly. “Right,” she chirped. The smile on her face told me everything I need to know about how much Tabbris was enjoying actually being able to contribute. Yes, these weeks that we were spending here were absolutely worth it. Even though I missed my friends, and especially missed Valley and Shiori, it was still worth it.

“Okay then,” I announced, turning to start jogging. “Let’s go, last one back is a rotten egg.”

Kisea piped up while following after me, her voice curious. “We have heard that kind of thing before, but I don’t understand. Why do Earth children call each other rotten eggs if they are slow? What does one thing have to do with another?”

Blinking at the question, I glanced over to the girl while all of us began jogging together. “I don’t know,” I admitted. “Maybe that’s another mystery to add onto the pile.

“But hey, at least that’s finally one that shouldn’t be too hard to solve.”

*******

“Are you girls ready?” Athena asked. “They’re going to be a bit faster this time. I think you can move to the next level.”

It had been a little over three weeks since the woman had saved us from Radueriel. If I had my days right, back on Earth it would be about April sixth, a Friday. Over three weeks since I had been brought here and started training with her. The time had pretty much flown by before I even realized it. I missed the others more than I could even try to articulate, but Athena kept me busy. She kept both of us busy. And when she wasn’t, I was kept distracted  by any number of things, from learning more about this place and all the people on it, to playing video games with my new friends, to just sitting in class with Tabbris sometimes. Or just by wandering around and getting to know this place and the people in it. They were all endlessly fascinating, and most were willing to just stand and talk with me as much as I wanted. There were some who were too suspicious, or to private of course, and I tried to give those ones their space. But for the most part, people were almost eager to tell me about themselves. And, I told them about myself in return. It was fun, and infinitely informative. And it definitely meant that I was never bored.

Now, the two of us were back in the training room, standing side-by-side. At Athena‘s question, we looked at one another briefly. “Yep,” Tabbris chirped. She had her hands clenched at her sides as she gave a firm nod. “We’re ready.”

“Good,” Athena replied. “Then let’s see how you do this time.“

With that, Tabbris grabbed my hand, and jumped into me. I felt her presence inside me like a reassuring and comforting blanket. We were together once more.

As soon as my partner was settled, Athena stepped back and hit a button on the remote that she was holding. The training began. From straight ahead of us, what looked like a pitching machine begin shooting small rubber balls at me. With a thought, I transferred my staff from its place at my side, into my hands and smacked the first ball out of the way. More kept coming. They varied in speed and direction, and I had to stay focused on knocking them away, or just dodging them when they came too close together.

Eventually, the balls came not just from in front of me, but from machines that had been placed to either side as well. I had to keep track of all of them, constantly turning one way or the other to bring my staff around as quickly as possible. One after another, I blocked as many balls as I could.

Meanwhile, I could vaguely feel things appearing behind me with my item sense. But I couldn’t focus on them and deal with the incoming balls at the same time. That was Tabbris’s job, and I could sense her intently focusing on those things.

After an intense ten minutes, Athena called a stop to it. She walked forward, stooping to pick up something off the floor. It was one of the things that had been floating behind me, a metal object in the shape of a letter. In this case, it was a W. “Very nicely done, Lady Felicity. Your reflexes and focus are getting better every day. Pretty soon, it will be time to add more speed, variation, and direction to the incoming balls.”

Coughing, I gave the woman a wry smirk. “I think you’re just upset that you’re not hitting me as often as you used to.”

She winked at me then, before asking, “And you, Lady Tabbris?”

My partner popped out of me, already reciting, “The bird flies low and the monkey flies high. Run fast, run slow, eat a banana, and away we go.”

What her part of our little training exercise here amounted to was that a bunch of those letters would float behind me, slowly forming into words. She had to use my item sense to get the idea of where each letter was, and what words they were spelling, then keep track of the actual sentences. She had to do all that while I was distracted with the incoming balls. The point was to show that she could do that kind of support stuff, while I dealt with the immediate threat.

Smiling broadly, Athena congratulated her, “Very, very good. I believe we are ready to move on to your item swapping test next.”

The item swapping test. That was where I would hold a green stick in one hand and a red stick in the other. Various targets would appear in front of me to either side, some red and some green. My job was simply to swing at them with whatever I happen to be holding in that hand. Tabbris’s job was to use the power that could move objects around my body to swap the sticks between different hands so that the right color stick always hit the right color target. Athena had already promised that once we got good enough at that, she was going to start making targets appear all the way around us, and include more than just two colors, while extra color sticks would hang from my belt to be swapped up into my hands. And once we actually got good at that, she would move on to something even harder.

The two of us nodded, and Tabbris started to jump into me again, before Athena held up a hand to stop us. “Hold one moment,” she announced while turning away. It looked like she was listening to something, leaving Tabbris and I to simply shrugged uncertainly at one another.

A moment later, she turned back to us and smiled. “Well,” the woman announced, “it looks as though we are going to need your aid with something else first, before continuing any more of your training.”

“Something else?” I echoed uncertainly while glancing to Tabbris. “You need our help?”

“Yes.” Athena winked. “We have finally located your friends. We can set up a portal to them, but I believe it would be better if you were with us at the time. It would… help avoid any issues.”

My eyes widened dramatically at that, surprise at the news making me gasp out loud. “You found them!?” I exclaimed, before adding quickly, “Yes, yes, yes. Let’s go get them.”

With a soft chuckle at my reaction, Athena turned to lead us out of the room, and I held out a hand to my partner. After Tabbris jumped into me once more, I quickly followed the older woman, unable to hold back the wide smile that had stretched its way way across my face.

The others, I was finally going to be reunited with them. Finally, finally, we could all get caught up on everything that had happened.

And boy were they going to be surprised by how I had been spending my time.

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39 comments

  1. Whelp, that right there amounts to the end of this particular arc. I do hope that you guys enjoyed this cool down/breather arc to give readers (especially those that binge read the archives) a chance to catch their breath and slow down a little. On Friday, we will have an interlude focusing on the rest of the space group after Flick disappeared. Then, on the Monday after that, we will have an interlude decided on by the donators. And the Friday after that, the next arc will begin with getting Flick reunited with Sands, Roxa, and the others! Also, since I am finally back home, mini-interludes will start being written again.

    Speaking of which, the two winners of last month’s free interlude drawing have (finally) been informed. Thank you for bearing with me, guys.

    Tags for this chapter are: Bandy, Demeas, Felicity Chambers, Flick, Honestly Flick‚ By Now The Only Way They Could Be Surprised By What You’ve Been Doing Is If It Was ‘Spent Time At Home Having A Perfectly Normal Day’, Kisea, Meley, Nimue/Athena, Reft, Richton, Sorry To Everyone Who Had The Thought Of Just How Lethal Even Small Portals Could Be‚ She Can’t Produce Them Over/Intersecting With Anyone’s Body., Tabbris

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    1. “She Can’t Produce Them Over/Intersecting With Anyone’s Body”

      But she can look up, create a portal as far up as she can look (essentially in space) and put the other end of the portal on, say, somebody’s eyball, right?

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      1. “Gooooood morning Heretic Space control, I’d like a camera feed of your biggest gun. What’s that? I can only get the Big, Massive, Futuristic Gun? Gee, what a real shame, it’ll just have to do.” Proceeds to open portal next to enemy’s face. “Fire whenever you’re ready.”

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    1. okay… portals are deadly enough… redirect your own attacks, partner attacks, ennemy attacks, etc…
      now, about a little tibit that fit right with previous infos:
      if Athena is… let’s say hot, for an human, it has to be one who would be “old” now…
      now, the way it was said, Arthur isn’t dead, just… unavaliable… I’d say, do the maths
      now, what to expect from the reunion?
      probably they have surprises of their own… (would be boring else ;p)

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      1. I would say Athena’s relationship with Arthur looks to be a surrogate mother-son thing than anything else. Any reunion they have is probably going to consist of a lot of hugging.

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  2. Assuming Athena’s contact on earth is Jophiel, I’m curious about her and Elisabet’s precise reasons for not telling her about Vanessa and Tristan. I mean, I can see a bunch of reasons why she wouldn’t, but I’m wondering which ones they were.

    Again, this assumes Jophiel is the contact.

    On that note, I’m wondering if Athena actually knows which of her former colleagues is her contact on earth (only that they’re on earth), or how long she’s had contact with them. I feel like Jophiel could have arranged that Athena/Joselyn encounter she and Elisabet wanted during the revolution if she had been leaking her information at that point.

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  3. Wait… the Seostens didn’t realize they could have kids with humans? If even half of the stories about the greek gods are even partially true, how on earth did they not know this? On the other hand, given that the greek heroes were supposed to be children of the gods, and apparently Apollo wrote those stories… if those stories aren’t accurate… that’s kinda low, Apollo.

    Or maybe Sariel just did something special that made the twins survive. Or maybe it’s because Haiden is a Heretic.

    Sorry To Everyone Who Had The Thought Of Just How Lethal Even Small Portals Could Be‚ She Can’t Produce Them Over/Intersecting With Anyone’s Body.
    Somewhere, Scout is wondering why you think that means small portals aren’t very lethal.

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    1. I just said this over on Discord, but maybe the demigods of Greek myth were natural Heretics that were retconned into being demigods later on as a way of spreading propaganda that all power comes from Olympus rather than being called children of the gods from the beginning.

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      1. That does fit, yeah. I can still see that not going over very well with some of the Seostens.

        On the other hand, they did somewhat co-opt the Greek mythos, not create it entirely. Maybe that explains it. Actually, between that and Apollo’s sense of humor, that would explain quite a few things you really wouldn’t expect the Seostens to say about themselves. Like, say, the interesting family dynamics of the Greek pantheon.

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      2. The family stuff we know from WoG was mostly Apollo screwing with the others. Puriel/Zeus and Kushiel/Hera are actually married, but other stuff like Aphrodite being Eros’s Mother is untrue (because Jophiel and Paschar apparently don’t get along).

        Also, apparently Radueriel and Abbadon are lovers.

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    2. Or might be it is because the twins are… twins, with the seosten traits distributed between them.

      But it is only might be instead of maybe, since in this scenario the chance for Athena to have kids are pretty slim, and it would be a sadistic after this chapter

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  4. As opposed to Greek myth, where they were rivals for Aphrodite’s attention. And I don’t doubt that Hephaestus being so ugly that Hera threw him out was also Apollo’s doing. Not so sure about Athena being Zeus’ brain tumor, though…

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  5. Those portals are could be good with sleight of hands, scouting & sneaking stuff in and out with help of Tabbris or mice (maybe loaded with cameras ?) since line of sight might mean few kms if you are in a flat or high landscape.

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  6. Oh jeez, I had never considered the importance of Seosten/human hybrids. I’d taken their existence for granted for so long that when you told us about the Seosten’s child problem, the connection just never happened.

    Dang this is going to be a gamechanger isn’t it?

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  7. Crossposting from SB.

    Ok, I’m pretty sure Athena just had a regret-induced BSOD moment where she realized that she or someone she cared for missed an opportunity for a family with a human they loved.

    And given that as far as we know Tristan and Vanessa didn’t suffer any medical issues I spy shenanigans behind her thinking human-seosten hybrids were non-viable. Sariel’s a wizard with memory effects, not biomancy. And while the best biomancer in the verse is on planet, we’d know if he was involved.

    OOOOH, Tabbris got to go clothes shopping! Someone needs to clone the enchantments on that outfit of hers because those are AMAZING.

    Oh cool, the kids are training together. And Bandy and Reft are THAT close to their friends that they’re OK with being the test subject for possession lessons? Daawwwww. So cute.

    OK, that was an excellent training scene. Avalon is going to be so thrilled to have to deal with the dual threading in sparring. And I don’t mean that sarcastically, Valley really likes a good workout, and as annoying as it may be for her to fight Flick and Tabbris together, it’ll be far MORE annoying for their enemies. Ooops, I didn’t mean annoying for the enemy. I meant fatal.

    Oh boy, reunion time.

    Anyone want to place bets on how many minutes it takes Athena to figure out that Gordon doesn’t want to be touched for power/safety reasons?

    No sadorableness this chapter. That’s odd.

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  8. Question: Can Flick sever inorganic matter with the portals? Like say, manifest a portal an inch below and through the base of a stalactite to cut it free/make it drop?

    The sadorableness was bound to drop due to rising levels of mental health for Tabbris. This little pit-stop has likely headed off permanent emotional/behavioral and physical problems.

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    1. Given that the portals have a range of line of sight, I don’t think that placing them in solid objects is going to be a thing. Well, maybe transparent objects, but I kinda doubt it.

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  9. >So, I told her everything I knew about Vanessa and Tristan. I told her about Tristan being trapped on the Meregan world, about Vanessa ending up with the adoption people, and everything else they had told me. I told her about Tristan being linked to me in order to anchor him to Earth, and how we had to eventually transferred that to Vanessa. I even told her about how Vanessa had managed to make contact with her father thanks to Apollo’s help.
    By the time I had finished, Athena was staring at me. If she had been the type, I was pretty sure her mouth would’ve been hanging open with surprise. As it was, she put a hand out to the nearby wall as if to steady herself. Her voice, when she finally spoke, cracked a little bit. “Viable children,” she murmured in a soft, utterly awed voice. “Viable children who show no ill signs or problems after blending human and Seosten genetics.”

    Wow, she’s absolutely floored by that information. It’s like a dream come true for Seosten imo.

    >Kisea piped up while following after me, her voice curious. “We have heard that kind of thing before, but I don’t understand. Why do Earth children call each other rotten eggs if they are slow? What does one thing have to do with another?”

    That’s…honestly a good question. Never really thought about that one before. Probably had meaning in the past that has drifted away over the years.

    >The others, I was finally going to be reunited with them. Finally, finally, we could all get caught up on everything that had happened.
    And boy were they going to be surprised by how I had been spending my time.

    On the same token, I imagine Flick will be surprised by what they have been doing as well. Little chance they’ve been idle during this time.

    A nice update Cerulean.

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    1. … yeah, seems like it.

      But making that information widespread might lead to revolt — the more who know the more who can let it slip. You’d have to have a cadre of “midwives” who’d cast the spell each day on a pregnant Seosten. They’d soon be the elite of the race because they’d be the only ones who hold the key to viable pregnancies.

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      1. The spell would be based on the one that keeps Avalon immune to possession. It would be the same spell repurposed across the Seosten species rather than Liesje’s bloodline or Edge-Heretics.

        Nobody has to cast the spell on Avalon every day, so why would it need to be cast daily on the Seosten.

        The same applies if they base on on Haiden and Larissa’s dibs spell. They don’t cast theirs on a daily basis.

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    2. There’s been speculation about this. I’m pretty sure it’s the reason they’re keeping Tangle alive, so they can get into Bosch’s vault after Avalon is dealt with, get Liesje Aken’s research on casting the anti-possession spell on all Heretics, and modify it for the purpose you just suggested.

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  10. I really hope you convey the sheer emotional torment they must have been going through–and the relief they’ll feel upon finding out that Flick is safe–justice. I mean, yes, Flick is full of surprises, but they knew she had nothing left there, was trapped by an army, and shouldn’t have had any allies on the entire planet. And they had no way to know where, exactly, they were taking her, nor would they have had the means to rescue her.

    And some of them would know that they had not only lost Flick, but Tabbris as well. Especially for Sands and her mother, that had to feel awful and traumatic on so many levels. And Jazz…ouch.

    Also, it’s rather difficult to reconcile the fact that Seosten apparently value children so heavily due to the 90% fetus mortality rate, but they still treat their children so impersonally and callously that they trade them around like commodities and bargaining chips. You clearly don’t care about your child much if you just send him/her away to be raised by others so that you can gain political or financial points. Hell, I have a hard time reconciling those two aspects in terms of how it developed in the first place–even if the practice existed before the 90% morality rate thing, you’d think that it would have vanished *after*, when children became so precious (and attempting to have a child became so difficult and traumatic, that you would only try if you really wanted to have children).

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    1. Nearly everything about the general psychology of Seosten society as a whole has been warped to hell and back a few times by being in a near-constant state of war with genocidal bioengineered horrors for many thousands of years. As a result, pretty much everything about how they do things is framed in its relation to that war.

      Regarding children: every life is precious not only because life is inherently valuable, but also because every single life is needed to fight the Fomorians. On a cultural level, producing children is going to be done out of duty as often or more often than out of desire.

      Once those children are born: their potential usefulness in fighting and winning the war is too valuable to risk with untested parents that could turn out to be abusive, neglectful, or otherwise incompetent. Instead they want to raise them in a safe environment that can monitor their health and waste no time in beginning their training for when they’re eventually brought in to fight.

      Children are traded around because their society values individuals based on how well they’ll support the war effort above all else, and each Choir wants the most effective operatives.

      Every single individual is a resource.

      That’s their mindset.

      Of course, the treatment of Seosten lies is something that undercuts that mindset immensely. As is the way a constantly duty-driven life leaves them generally terrible at dealing with dissent.

      There is logic to the way it’s all set up. But they’re ultimately full of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Heh. I’m just picturing Sands acting like a mother hen towards Flick from now on, terrified (on the level of PTSD, even) of her being lost again, or worse.

    Oh god, her whole team is going to be kind of like that, aren’t they?

    Liked by 2 people

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