Mini-Interlude 56 – Klassin Roe

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“I just… I just want to explain, you know?” The voice of Russell Bailey, formerly monikered as Virus, was quiet even in the small room that amounted to Klassin Roe’s therapy office. The headmistress had offered to make it larger, but Roe had declined. He didn’t need an enormous room to work in. It was best that the students he worked with feel secure, not overwhelmed.

Now, he sat back slowly in his chair while lifting his chin to the boy. “You want to tell your family what really happened to your father.” His voice held no judgment, no condemnation.

The boy flinched a little bit, running a hand up through his newly shortened hair. At one point not long before, it had been long and dyed an obnoxious bright red, but Russell had taken most of it down to a short crew cut, and it had grown out to its natural light brown. He also no longer wore the facial piercings that had been such an extensive part of him at the beginning of the year.

“They think it was just some crazy cult initiation or something,” the boy mumbled, his gaze dropping to the floor. “They’ll never really know. They’ll never understand that it was… it was…” His voice caught a little, mouth working before he gave a little shudder. “That it was my fault.”

“You still think that it was your fault?” Again, Roe did not correct the boy, not in this particular situation. He believed that Russell was wrong, of course. But simply telling him that would accomplish nothing. What the boy really needed right in that moment was someone to talk to, someone to sit and listen to his turmoil without correcting or inserting their own opinion.

Russell gave him an incredulous look for a second anyway, blurting, “Of course it is! I–Just think about it. I hang out with a bunch of psycho gangbangers to look cool. My parents tried to tell me to leave them alone. Everyone tried to tell me to leave them alone. But I thought they were badass, so I made ‘friends’ with them.” His fingers jerked up to form the air quotes while mouth twisted in derision at that word. “I fucked around with those guys cuz they were sooo cool.”

He went silent for a few seconds then, his face contorting a little as his head shook violently. There were tears forming in the boy’s eyes, tears that he angrily blinked away. “Then I become a Heretic. So I go back over Christmas to hang out with my old ‘friends’, and guess what.”

Roe remained quiet. He knew this story, of course. He’d heard it many times. But talking it through, repeating it, helped Russell deal with everything. It seemed to help him cope.

“They’re monsters,” the boy spat, his hard gaze glowering at the desk between them. “They’re a bunch of fucking monsters, most of them. Strangers. And they know what I am as soon as they see me. They know I’m a Heretic, so I get the hell out of there. I’m freaking the hell out, so I run away. I didn’t know what to do. I should’ve called you guys. I should’ve called Crossroads. But I just ran to the arcade and screwed off for awhile. I had to think. I was just… I didn’t know. I didn’t know what to do. So I just hung out. I fucking–” His face twisted once more, and the tears threatened to come back. It was clearly all he could do to keep it somewhat under control.

When he finally continued a few seconds later, his voice was hollow. “I walked back home. I walked home and… and my dad… those assholes. Those fucking motherfuckers, they… they went to my house looking for me while I was hanging out at the arcade. But they found my dad instead. They found my dad and they… they murdered him. They killed my dad and–and–and tore him apart. The cops thought it was some kind of devil worshipping cult initiation because of all the–the blood and how they–how they just…” Trailing off, Russell lowered his head, no longer fighting the tears as they fell freely down his face.

As far as Klassin was aware, only the staff and the boy’s team were aware of exactly what had happened. And even some of his team might not have known the whole story. Most of the school was entirely unaware of the trauma that had caused the formerly-named Virus to change so much after that first semester. It was his choice to tell them or not, just as it had been his choice to continue attending classes so soon after everything that had happened. The headmistress had, of course, urged him to take some time off. She had almost insisted on it. But in the end, Russell had made the point that he needed to feel useful. He needed to keep himself busy, not dwell, and that the longer he spent just sitting around, the worse he actually felt. The creatures responsible for the murder and dismemberment of his father had completely disappeared, which meant that the most Crossroads could do was get his mother and little brother out of there, move them to a new city with a job transfer, and thus hopefully keep them away from any further reprisals from Russell’s former friends. The attack and murder had happened at the very beginning of the holiday break, and Russell had spent the remainder of it coming to terms (as much as he could) with the loss of his father.

“But I can’t tell them any of that,” the boy spat angrily, pushing himself up out of his chair rather than sit any longer. “My mom, Jake, I can’t tell them why Dad’s dead. I can’t—I can’t explain. I can’t tell them about the monsters, because they won’t remember it anyway. I just–” Turning, he lashed out, punching the nearby wall with both of his fists. The wall was reinforced, yet the twin blows still dented it visibly while the boy slumped, head shaking. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Russell.” Standing as well, Klassin moved that way, laying his hands on the boy’s shoulders from behind. “You know how easy it is to repair the walls around here.”

For a moment, the boy just stood there, fists partly indented into the wall while he shuddered. “I told you the story before,” he mumbled. “You already knew it anyway. I just–I want to tell them. I want to tell them so bad, but it won’t do any good. And I can’t—I can’t handle letting them know the truth once, just so they can forget it again right after. I can’t handle that. What if they hate me and then completely forget about it? I couldn’t… I couldn’t deal with that. I just–I can’t.”

Silence filled the room for a few long seconds then, before Klassin finally spoke up, his voice soft. “The Runners haven’t stopped looking for the Strangers who murdered your father. And they won’t stop looking. They will find them, especially with all the information you’ve given.”

“For all the good it does,” Russell muttered darkly. He turned from the wall, facing Klassin with a forlorn, empty look. “It doesn’t bring my dad back. It doesn’t–” He stopped then, biting his lip while his head shook as he changed to, “You know why I really wanted to keep coming here instead of taking time off like the headmistress wanted?”

Klassin had his guesses, but he simply inclined his chin curiously and let the boy speak. That was what Russell needed right then. He needed to talk. That was why he had brought up the entire situation again, despite the fact that they had already been through it several times.

“Because I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.” Russell’s voice was firm, his hands tightening into fists. “I can’t bring my dad back. I can’t go back in time and stop myself from being such a stupid fucking–” Cutting himself off, he gave a violent headshake once more, forcibly pulling himself back from the precipice of that emotional crater. “I can’t undo anything I did. But I can be a good Heretic. I can help other people.”

Smiling just a little bit, Klassin gave a slight nod. “That is an admirable goal, Russell. One that I think your father would approve of. And so would your family, if they understood the situation.”

For his part, the boy simply swallowed hard while looking down, folding his arms against his chest uncomfortably. “Yeah, well, can we talk about something else? I don’t wanna talk about that anymore.”

“Of course.” Nodding once more, Klassin asked, “What would you like to talk about?”

At first, Russell was quiet. He shifted, clearly unsure of whether he should really ask what he wanted to. “The umm, the car you were working on before.”

“The Sixty-Nine Mustang Boss 429?” Raising an eyebrow with a tiny smile despite himself, Klassin nodded. “Of course. It’s been a nice little project car for awhile.” Magic, of course, would have made the work pass much faster than the months that this had actually taken. But Klassin preferred doing this kind of thing the long, slow way. He enjoyed working on the cars with his own two hands, no powers or spells involved.

“Do… do you think I could–I mean I don’t know if you need—or want–or…” It was clearly hard for Russell to find the words, his face flushed.

Saving him from floundering even more, Klassin reached out to squeeze the boy’s arm. “Why don’t we get out of this place before we both develop claustrophobia, huh? Come on down and take a look at the car with me. If you’re up for it, maybe you could help me get some of the rebuild done.”

Gaze lifting at that, Russell managed a tiny smile. “You… you’re sure?”

Grabbing his leather jacket from the nearby hook, Klassin nodded while gesturing to the door. “Absolutely. Figure between the two of us, we should be able to get the old girl purring again in just a couple weeks.”

As the two of them started out of the office, the boy hesitantly volunteered, “My dad had a muscle car before he had to sell it a couple years ago. I helped him fix it up so he could sell it. That’s how he paid for our trip to Hawaii. I— I was pissed at him for selling it. I wanted it. I–I didn’t… I treated him like shit.”

“Hey.” Klassin stopped in the doorway, looking to the boy. “You helped your dad rebuild a car. I guarantee you, that’s what he remembered. Everyone knows that their kids are going to lash out and say stupid things. Especially teenagers. But I promise you, that’s not what he focused on. That’s not what he remembered. The time you guys spent working on it, that’s what your dad thought about. That’s what mattered to him.”

Russell’s voice cracked a little bit. “You… you think so?”

“I know so,” Klassin assured him before teasing, “Now come on, if I’m gonna exploit our time together to get free work out of you, we better be quick and quiet about it.”

“It’s Headmistress Sinclaire, sir,” Russell retorted. “I’m pretty sure she knew how we were going to spend our time today before we did.”

Chuckling despite himself as he stepped out of the office, Klassin bowed his head in acknowledgment. “You know what, you’re probably right. That headmistress is one smart cookie. But you know what I think?”

“What?” Curious, Russell stepped through and watched as the man closed the door to his office.

Klassin winked. “If we do get in trouble… we’ll just bribe her with the car.”

******

“So, how did it go today?”

Later that evening, Klassin was stepping out of his office and flicking the light off on his way when the voice spoke up from nearby. Smiling despite himself, he looked that way.

“Hey, Risa,” he greeted the woman, stepping that way. “You mean with Russell?”

Risa Kohaku nodded, stepping in to embrace him. The two exchanged an initially brief kiss that lingered slightly more than Klassin had intended before they both stopped to catch their breath. “Wow,” the security chief murmured under her breath with a tiny smile. “Looks like someone really needed that.”

“Long day,” Klassin agreed. He stepped back, still holding the woman’s hands. “I got Russell working on the car with me. It was even his idea, pretty much. I just…” He sighed. “I wish we had better news for him. Your contacts in the Runners, they don’t have any more news?”

Risa winced, shaking her head a little. “No, they’re still looking but… honestly, I’m not sure how much more they’ll actually find. The Strangers who murdered his father are… they knew enough to get the hell out of town afterward.”

“At least it means they’ll probably leave the rest of his family alone,” Klassin noted. “They’ll know that we’ll be watching for them.” Heaving a long, heavy sigh, he shook his head before asking, “Anyway, I thought we could go out for dinner tonight. You know that little place in Italy with the great seafood? What was the name of that village?”

“Atrani?” Risa supplied. “Sure, we haven’t been there for awhile. But umm….”

Lifting an eyebrow as the woman trailed off, Klassin poked her forehead. “This isn’t really you, is it?”

“It’s me,” she retorted a bit defensively. “Duplicates are totally me. But uh, yeah, it’s a duplicate projection. Sorry. I couldn’t get away yet, but I still wanted to meet you. I missed you.”

“And your duplicates can’t leave the island without you,” Klassin finished for her. Some types could, he knew. But Risa’s were limited to the same universe (or pocket universe, in this case).

“I promise,” the woman assured him, “it won’t take much longer. I just have to listen to Rucker’s report. Twenty minutes, tops. I’ll meet you by the Pathmaker?”

She offered him another kiss, and Klassin took it, giving her a little smile despite himself. “Sure. But you tell him that he’s gotta give you a couple hours without any interruptions unless it’s the end of the world. I want to have you to myself at least for a little while.”

Her smile, embarrassed as much as it was proud, lit up the little corridor. “I promise,” she agreed. “We’ll have some time to ourselves. Just you and me.”

The duplicate disappeared then, leaving Klassin standing in the hall by himself. The man smiled slowly, anticipating not only the upcoming meal, but everything else that the evening promised to bring.

Whistling softly, and just a little off-key, he shrugged into his jacket and started down the hall. As busy as things were, as much work as they still had to do (especially when it came to finding Chambers and the rest of the missing students), it was still possible to find bits of joy here and there. It was important to have those moments.

His phone rang a moment later, and the man glanced to it. Unknown number. Shrugging, since that didn’t mean much in his work, he answered it. “This is Roe.”

“Klassin Roe?” an unfamiliar voice on the other end replied. “The man who used to be Jonathan Ruthers?”

Pausing, Roe frowned. “I don’t go by that name–who is this?”

“It’s okay,” the voice replied, “I just got your name from… let’s call her an old, old friend of yours. She said that you could help me with something.

“But first, allow me to introduce myself. My name… is Denuvus.”

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54 comments

  1. There we are, just a simple little commissioned interlude focusing on Klassin Roe that clearly has no larger connotations and is virtually pointless when it comes to the overall plot. 😉

    Thanks for reading, guys and girls. Hope you enjoyed the bits of information you got out of this one and are suitably interested in where it might go in the future. Tags for this chapter are: Denuvus, Klassin Roe, Let’s Just See Exactly How Much Paranoia I Can Instill In The Entire Audience At This Point., Professor Kohaku, Russell Bailey, See‚ Sometimes A Person Having A Total Personality Change In Between Semesters Isn’t Because They Were Possessed.

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    1. I think I might stop answering phone calls until you kill Denuvus off in the story. I mean it is just a story, but that never stopped me from pulling my legs up onto my bed when we were telling scary stories as kids. (On an actual note, great writing, I’d say you’ve instilled all the paranoia by this point, I’m just curious if Ammon is immune due to sharing the source with the user of the power?)

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  2. Welp. Denevus is making her moves. Christ I forgot everything I had to say because she showed up.

    And apparently her power works over phones. GREAT.

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    1. Kohaku still could be. Actually, this chapter has made me even more convinced that she is. It’s entirely possible that a Seosten possessor could make and control these duplicates without the host’s help. Manakel wouldn’t be possessing the duplicate, which would explain how he could have avoided Flick finding out. The biggest issue is that Dare and Gaia should know about the duplication power and be able to figure this out.

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  3. You know, I’m starting to wonder just how common it is for Bystander kin students to run into Strangers over vacation. Flick, Koren, and Russell all managed it just this year, and that’s just the ones who didn’t go looking for them. That we know of.

    I wonder if Koren and Russell are going to end up talking to each other about Strangers killing their fathers over break.

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    1. That’s actually a really good point….
      I mean the backgrounds of the Bystander kin students should be researched like hell. Like from what the professors hinted at, they are looking into EVERYTHING. How did they miss Russels friends being Strangers?

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      1. They might not have missed it. Remember that Gaia’s in charge, and enough of her people are running the background checks that they might be hiding things like that. She did know about Shiori’s connection to Asenath, after all.

        Of course, that raises the question of why they let a pack of murderers hang out with Russel. And to that, I’ll again say that Russel didn’t actually see what happened to his dad or if he former friends did it. He wasn’t there.

        They might not have actually killed his dad, basically.

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  4. Well shit. Denuvus is moving fast. I both dread and anticipate whatever she’s planning to do.

    That relationship stuff makes me hope Kohaku isn’t Manakel’s host. Does Manakel consider “hell” a curse word? Because he did mention hating swearing and Kohaku dropped an ass over Thanksgiving.

    Also, I’m surprised Crossroads didn’t notice that one of their potential recruits was hanging around Strangers when they were checking him out. It really seems like something that should have come up in the background checks.

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    1. Yeah, I was wondering about that. Clearly, crossroads needs to improve their background check standards.

      I vote that Wyatt should be put in charge of those.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course, it’s also possible that someone is sabotaging checks… or that there’s more to what happened to Russel’s dad than he’s aware of, since he didn’t actually witness what happened.

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    2. He returns home, discovers that the gang members are actually Strangers, they discover he’s a Heretic, they react violently, he further internalizes the idea that all Strangers are evil. It’s so predictable and elegant that it could almost have been planned, assuming that the planner considers the trade of one dead Bystander worth one ‘good’ Heretic.

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      1. We don’t know much about Russel, so he could have some kind of history or ancestry that would justify an effort to manipulate him on this level, assuming it’s manipulation.

        Alternatively, it’s possible that something else attacked Russel’s dad and his Stranger friends saved him and went to ground.

        I’m going to take the story at face value for now, but I’m also going to keep an eye out for more information going forward.

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      1. Everything we’ve seen of Denuvus so far, both firsthand in the Nevada interlude and secondhand in Nevada’s descriptions of her (and the heavy implication that Nevada is still under lingering orders not to talk about her), makes me doubt that.

        And also the author’s out of story descriptions of her, but no one should be expected to be aware of those.

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    3. It really wouldn’t surprise me if Manakel considered “hell” and inside joke, not a swear word. He could even use it as a way to fit in without “really” swearing.

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  5. Red Light! Denevus didn’t give a command, and Klassin’s fairly quick AND smart. Wouldn’t anyone in their right mind hurl their phone as far from them as possible? As if they had a Black Mamba by the tail?

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    1. Hmm. It seems obvious that this isn’t going to happen, but your suggestion makes sense. I bet Klassin will just take too long to remember who Denuvus, and her next words will be something like, “Stay on the phone and don’t tell anyone I’m in contact with you.”

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    1. Denuvus did apparently let Ammon kill a bunch of people, or at least destroy a restaurant, before he took her (in disguise) with him back to Fossor’s base. Her appearance in Nevada’s interlude when she created Nevada by murdering her own sister, along with her subsequent treatment of the new Djinn, Nevada’s descriptions of how she always makes a point of hunting her down to re-enslave her after passing her along to different masters for kicks, and the heavy implication that Nevada is still under magical compulsion to not talk about her at all paint a not-so-great picture.

      There’s also the way the Septs described her (although they think she’s male and aren’t sure if she exists) as a boogeyman to Heretics and Alters alike.

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  6. Might be a stupid question, but are Seosten immune to Denuvus/Ammon? I mean, Ammon was unable to influence Flick, but Flick was also already possessed by Tabbris at that point and she didn’t react either. Tabbris could have taken over to fulfill Ammon’s commands. Or do Denuvus and Ammon need to know about the possessor and speak to him/her directly to work their magic?

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      1. We’d be happy to see you around those places. The SB thread is the most active. Although the Discord chat that got started a couple months ago is a close second.

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  7. …okay, the next upgrade for all Heretic phones is to voice detection keyed to the phrase “My name is XXXX” and blare “SLIM SHADY!” at Maximum Volume whenever “XXXX” = “Ammon” or “Denuvus”. Regardless of whether the voice is coming across the phone line or just ambient….

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  8. Okay, I have to call bullshit on this one.

    Crossroads recently had a major breach where someone with a Denuvus power nearly murdered multiple students, while mindcontrolling the head of security and an entire dorm full of students. All by saying his name.

    So you’d think that one of the FIRST security measures they’d take is to install some kind of distortion filter–or whatever magical equivalent is necessary–onto the phones of ALL staff, at a MINIMUM. Realistically, they’d do this for all student phones as well, because the least thing they need is hundreds of instant security breaches just waiting for Ammon to take advantage of, or hundreds of potential sleeper agents to worry about at all times.

    And they already know that it’s possible to fake someone else’s voice perfectly, so it’s not like some kind of distortion filter would make things less secure in any way.

    I mean, Crossroads already has shit-tier security, but this is just a bad fucking joke at this point. It’s at the point of “why hasn’t this school been totally infiltrated and controlled by Strangers yet?”

    Not to mention the fact that there’s no way Denuvus should have gotten this number through Jocelyn–if he hasn’t changed numbers in DECADES, something is wrong, because cell phones haven’t even been around that long without changing dramatically.

    Regardless, it’s annoying as hell, because at this point it feels like any key personnel NOT being mindcontrolled or possessed is a contrivance in itself. Like…why hasn’t Gaia been possessed, again? She’s immune? How?

    And, frankly, you’ve pulled the “ally has been secretly compromised or was secretly an enemy all along” card pretty damn frequently, lately. Isaac, Paul, Scott, that woman on the Crossroads Committee, Scout and Sands’ dad, Columbus, whoever Manakel is possessing, Kohaku, and now Klassin. It’s getting to be a bit fucking much, to be honest.

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    1. I will admit that the security of Crossroads is a joke.

      But with the Seosten possession the major defense is that the most powerful Heretics such as Gaia are too powerful to control unless you have a weak spot due to being possessed when one was weaker. Jophiel is cheating with Elisabet after all and that was why Sariel was slipping in with a kid.

      >“why hasn’t this school been totally infiltrated and controlled by Strangers yet?”

      Does it count if it started out that way? Because originally the Seosten has control and were running the show.

      1. Akens and Liesje killed the original hijacked headmaster Bosch

      2. Risa (Head of Security) is under suspicion of being possessed due to being “cleared” after Charmiene realized that the choker was still in play

      3. All signs point to a major bullet being missed due to Sariel going rogue when she did because she was one of the original infiltration experts in comparison to say Paschar the chef.

      4. The Heretics have a problem with not being the boogie man and as you can see they are paying for it.

      It’s partly just due to Seosten having enough hooks because they set everything up, (Elisabet/Jophiel are in charge of security) making anti Seosten changes difficult. And the fact that Deveron’s (and thus Ammon’s) silver tongue is fueled by djinn wishes. Aka one of the most potent open ended things around.

      But I think having possession being a reoccurring problem helps drive the fact Seosten are a threat. That’s their trump card so they use it often.

      Similar situation with Ammon and Deveron they are a threat. And Deveron got a hold of Jocelyn last we saw her, and that has problems.

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    2. Denuvus is getting information from Joselyn, which leads to backdoors into contacting specific people like, say, her longterm spy in the school.

      Not to mention the fact that there’s no way Denuvus should have gotten this number through Jocelyn–if he hasn’t changed numbers in DECADES, something is wrong, because cell phones haven’t even been around that long without changing dramatically.

      Joselyn and Klassin had secret ways of contacting each other involving magic to get numbers that changed constantly and bypassed Crossroads security measures similar to Flick’s special phone. Joselyn gave that knowledge to Denuvus.

      Regardless, it’s annoying as hell, because at this point it feels like any key personnel NOT being mindcontrolled or possessed is a contrivance in itself. Like…why hasn’t Gaia been possessed, again? She’s immune? How?

      As was already said, too powerful to be controlled by any but the strongest, and too paranoid with security measures, powers, and magic to get close to. And there are absolutely plenty of key personnel that have not been shown to be controlled in any way. Name the key staff within the Crossroads school who have been shown to be possessed/mind controlled. Not just suspected by readers at this point, but shown. Gaia, Nevada, Dare, Kohaku, Hisao, Carfried, Wyatt, Reid Rucker, none of these have been SHOWN as being compromised (aside from Nevada being magically unable to talk about Denuvus). To say nothing of minor teachers that haven’t really featured much. So I am honestly not sure where you’re getting the idea that almost everyone has been controlled at this point. Genuinely confused, unless one of us is forgetting/missing something.

      And, frankly, you’ve pulled the “ally has been secretly compromised or was secretly an enemy all along” card pretty damn frequently, lately. Isaac, Paul, Scott, that woman on the Crossroads Committee, Scout and Sands’ dad, Columbus, whoever Manakel is possessing, Kohaku, and now Klassin. It’s getting to be a bit fucking much, to be honest.

      Isaac and Paul were revealed to the audience at the exact same time, and that was seven months ago. Scott was never an enemy, what are you talking about? He was secretly a Pooka, but he was never an enemy. He was protecting Flick. Of course there would be a Seosten on the Crossroads committee, they CREATED Crossroads. And hell, there’s question about how much of an immediate/direct ‘enemy’ Jophiel and Elisabet would be anyway. Scout and Sands’ dad isn’t an ‘enemy’ so much as he’s misguided and turned in his old friends thinking he was protecting them. Columbus was possessed and is now free, why are you counting Kohaku as an enemy, and you don’t know what Denuvus wanted from Klassin. It could have been anything. Information, future aid, a cookie, any number of things.

      The point is, it’s not really fair when you say ‘pulling this card lately’, and then name every compromised character ever in a story that’s like a million words long, even some that have not actually been shown to be compromised in that way.

      Oh, and of course Crossroads has protection against Ammon’s kind of power in place. But the method Denuvus used bypassed that specifically because she had information from Joselyn about how to contact Klassin without going through the security system. You’re forgetting that Joselyn and Klassin clearly had a secret way of communicating that Crossroads security never caught onto. That’s kind of the entire point of that whole thing, to show that Denuvus is taking advantage of Joselyn’s information.

      Liked by 2 people

    3. Actually my first thought was some charm that would render someone deaf for a few seconds anytime the phrase “My name is” starts. Doing an archive crawl and came across this comment. =)

  9. Paranoia? None! After Amon they were briefed on her, and with Heretic super-reflex, he weill be able to break the connection instantly after the name!

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  10. In the next chapter: All crossroad security have been replaced with a sign that politely ask intruders to don’t intrude.
    Same effectiveness, less expensive!

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    1. lol, funny. 😉 But to be fair, they’re compromised from the very beginning of the entire creation of the organization by the Seosten.

      Also, in this case and as I said above, Joselyn and Klassin had secret communication methods during the rebellion, which Denuvus just took advantage of.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pretty much all the security leaks we know about are due to either the Seosten (who basically built their own backdoors into the original system) or are connected to Joselyn. And Joselyn was running a guerrilla civil war, which is a security nightmare. If you take those out… I’m not sure what you have left.

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      2. That makes sense to me. Most security breaches are because of human error, and “not updating the security measures on your backchannel communication with a person whose existence you can’t remember” is a pretty understandable source of human error.

        Of course this is also a world filled to the brim with exotic and unpredictable powers, and the Heretic organization is filled to the brim with people who have their own unique situations and complex webs of information. It would beggar belief for me if the beefed up security consisted of a simple filter on standard Crossroad’s communication and that was it. They’ve got to know that their staff is filled with people who have tons of non-standard communication methods, and that *someone* is going to be vulnerable along some vector no matter what they do.

        So I’ve got to assume they have some other layer of security. Something that isn’t meant to prevent Ammon-style mind control directly but is meant to deal with what happens when someone is successfully turned into a sleeper agent.

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      3. I think another thing to keep in mind is that there’s a big difference between preparing for Ammon and preparing for Denuvus. Yes, they both have the mind control power. But Ammon is an impulsive child while Denuvus is a 400+ year old manipulator so good at hiding and covering her tracks that very few people even know that she actually exists.

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  11. So, if anyone sharing Ammon’s blood is immune to his power and therefore Denuvus’s, shouldn’t that include Joselyn? Correct me if i’m missing something.

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    1. No, but it’s an easy mistake to make.

      The blood immunity Fossor cast on Ammon only applies to people that share blood with Ammon. That’s his parents, half-siblings, niece, and Denuvus because he gets his powers from her blood (WoG says that Seller’s relation is too distant).

      None of them are immune to Denuvus for two reasons: first because they don’t share blood with her, and second because nobody cast the spell on her that Fossor cast on Ammon.

      I think WoG has also confirmed that Nevada is immune to Ammon because she was made from the corpse of Denuvus’s identical twin sister, but I might be wrong about that.

      Like

    1. You’re thinking of Tribald Kine. And no, he and Klassin are just friends, former classmates, fellow spies, etc.

      To my knowledge this is maybe the second bit we’ve seen of Klassin’s love life, the first being a slight, possibly-in-my-head implication that he had some unrequited feelings for Joselyn.

      Like

  12. I’m still stuck back on Denevus not giving a command when she said her name. I used to play with M-240s a lot. I still have ten fingers. The reason I still have ten fingers is I pay attention and ditch any fast-fuse troublemaking M-240s before I end up getting a demeaning nickname. Now, I’M not a Heretic. ANY of the First Years could break me from a seated position, I do not doubt. *I* could dump that phone the instant I wanted to. Screw throwing it. Open-Your-Hand. Gravity is your friend.

    Like

      1. I was kinda assuming the ‘Freeze’ was built in. And if it wasn’t, that Denuvus is competent enough to know she should add it.

        Because, unfortunately, Denuvus strikes me as a very irritatingly competent villain.

        Like

  13. Russel’s misfortune in trusting the wrong people, and said people doing horrific things to his father, is certainly a stumbling block to getting more Heretics to see past the automatic “Alter = Monster to brutally slaughter” fiction they are indoctrinated with. I do like that he made the first move in asking to work on Klassin’s project car.

    >“Klassin Roe?” An unfamiliar voice on the other end replied. “The man who used to be Jonathan Ruthers?”
    Pausing, Roe frowned. “I don’t go by that name–who is this?”
    “It’s okay,” the voice replied, “I just got your name from… let’s call her an old, old friend of yours. She said that you could help me with something.
    “But first, allow me to introduce myself. My name… is Denuvus.”

    Well, shit. I am wondering what her objective is by contacting him. I have doubts it’s for a entirely benign purpose, given her nature.

    Nice Interlude Cerulean.

    Like

  14. Welp, this is a potential mess in the making- one of the rebellion’s (and by extension Flick’s) allies in Crossroads potentially compromised by Denuvus, depending on what that monster’s agenda was trying to pull.

    And poor Russell, with how his pre-Crossroads life came back to bite him in a major way.

    “The Sixty-Nine Mustang Boss 429?” Raising an eyebrow with a tiny smile despite himself, Klassin nodded. “Of course. It’s been a nice little project car for awhile.”

    Imagine that being around for as long as one can be as a Heretic means that one can accumulate all sorts of interesting, rare, valuable, and cool stuff from both the Heretical & Bystander worlds- to provide some context for those of us who aren’t car people, the Boss 429 Mustang is a very rare musclecar produced 1969-70 intended to homologate a special version of Ford’s 335-series V-8 (the 429 & 460 big-blocks) for NASCAR & NHRA competition- 857 Boss 429 Mustangs (and 2 Mercury Cougars) were built in 1969, and according to Hagerty Insurance (which specializes in collector cars,) a Boss 429 in show-ready condition is worth well over a quarter-million dollars

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