Interlude 32B – Miranda, Abigail, and Seller.

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“She was attacked here, and barely survived.”

The announcement came in the middle of a motel room that looked as though an entire world war had taken place inside of it. Both chairs in the room were overturned and broken into splinters, and the bed had been broken in half with bits scattered everywhere. Blood of various colors lined the walls, along with other viscera. The bathroom door had been ripped off its hinges and lay broken in half. And dozens of various sized holes dotted every wall as well as the floor and ceiling. Also, the television was on its side with one body stuck halfway into it, through the broken screen.

Seller, the man who had spoken, looked back to his two female companions, Miranda and Abigail. “Whatever attacked Lies in here, there were a lot more than one of them. My guess is that they teleported in right on top of her.”

“Them,” Miranda corrected faintly while walking forward to look at the body in the television. “Remember, there’s two of them, even if they’re sharing the same body. Lies and Pace.” She looked over to the man. “We have to save Pace.”

Abigail slowly stepped into the room as well, her head shaking. “From what little we know,” the woman announced slowly, “it doesn’t sound like these…” her face twisted with disgust, “… handicapped Seosten have any real chance in their lives.” The woman refused to use the term Lie. She found it barbaric and horrible, and flat out refused to be a part of it. “That video that you showed me of the girl, that is not a healthy individual making their own choices. And from what else we’ve found… she’s damaged. She’s as much a victim in this whole situation as anyone.”

Seller cleared his throat. “The point is,” he began flatly, “we need to find both of them. We can’t save Pace without Lies. And right now, we don’t even know if either of them are still alive.” Pointedly, he gestured around the destroyed room. “Give me a minute to look at this place over and try to put it together.”

Leaving the man to examine the place, Miranda and Abigail stepped out of the room and back into the motel parking lot. It was late at night, almost to the point of technically being morning. The place looked pretty much completely abandoned, without any lights on in any of the other rooms, and the office had the blinds pulled tightly shut. The two women glanced to one another before Miranda asked, “Do you really think that we can get through to Lies?”

“What I think,” the woman replied, “is that every single person in that girl’s life has probably used, abused, and abandoned her. She doesn’t even have a real name. So, I am not going to make any judgments about what she might be capable of if someone did give her a chance. I’m not saying that she’s some perfectly innocent, fluffy little lamb, but she could be more than they’ve made her, if someone gave her a chance.”

“Pace is innocent too,” Miranda pointed out quietly. She went silent for another few seconds before kicking hard at the ground in front of her with a harshly muttered, “Fuck the Seosten.”

“That does seem to sum it up,” the older woman agreed. Her voice softened then, as she reached out to squeeze the younger girl’s shoulder. “They will bring Felicity back, and the others.”

Flinching a bit notably, Miranda let out a long, low side before admitting quietly, “I’m scared. I know that being scared doesn’t help anything, but what if something happens to her out there? She’s my friend. I abandoned her once, because the Heretics said that it was better than getting her involved with the monsters. That was a lie. It was all a lie. They knew that she was already involved. They knew. They just didn’t want me to be a part of her life. And now, she’s all the way out there, and I can’t do anything about it at all. I feel so… so fucking helpless.”

“If it helps at all,” Abigail put in then, “I would bet that the people who actively recruited you didn’t know much about the situation with Felicity and her—I mean our mother.”

Miranda resisted the urge to cough at those words. That had been a bit of a surprise. She had known that Flick cared about what happened to Abigail, but had thought that it was because the woman was Koren’s mother. Seller, however, had taken the two of them far away from Earth, to some other planet in order to tell her the truth back when they had started this whole search. Abigail and he wanted Miranda to understand just how connected the woman was to the situation.

And finding out that Flick technically had a fifty-something-year-old sister (and brother) had taken some getting used to. Let alone the revelation that Koren was actually her niece. That was… something.

“That memory spell…” At first, Miranda thought that Abigail was referring to the same one that she had just been thinking about. Only belatedly did she realize that the woman was actually talking about the one centered on erasing Joselyn. As she spoke the words, the Abigail’s face twisted with anger, “Thanks to that, I doubt the people low enough to be recruiting you as a student knew the whole story. They probably knew that Crossroads had a claim on her, and that’s why they didn’t want you being involved with Felicity. But I doubt they actually knew about the rest of it.”

Miranda’s mouth opened and shut once or twice before she finally replied, “I’m still pissed off about it.”

“So am I,” Abigail confirmed. “So am I.”

Before either of them could say anything else, Seller stepped out of the room to join them. “Okay,” he announced while adjusting his emerald green suit, “as far as I can put it together, our little friend won her fight in there. Most of the blood is from other species. I can put together a rough estimate of how the fight went. She took some pretty bad hits, but with the werewolf regeneration and anything else she’s got, I’d say she was the one who walked out of there.” Looking around as he stood there on the sidewalk, the man raised a hand to point off in the distance. “That way,” he continued. “She went that way.”

“How can you tell?” Abigail asked curiously.

In response, the man winked. “I can smell her,” he replied easily, “and I can see the path she took through the lot.” He indicated various spots on the pavement. “I can see the disturbances where her feet came down. Trust me, with the right kind of powers, it’s not hard to notice. And besides,” he held up a finger with a bit of red on it. “Not all of the blood in there was from other people. I’ve got enough blood tracking power to get a pretty good bead on the girl.  So trust me, she’s that way.”

The three of them thought out that way, while Miranda asked, “Do you really think it’s the other Seosten who’re trying to kill her?”

“It makes the most sense,” Abigail replied. “Think about it. She’s clearly been out on her own for awhile now. We’ve picked that much up just from tracking her. And we know that the Seosten somehow knew that Felicity and the others were onto them. That’s why they sprang that trap. The only real way for them to know that would be if they knew the choker wasn’t destroyed. And if they knew that, they probably blamed Lies for losing it in the first place.”

“So they’re pissed at her and she’s on the run.” Miranda sighed. “And we’re playing rescue party for the crazy–” She stopped at a warning look from Abigail, biting her lip hard. “I mean, she’s probably not gonna be that happy to see us either, you know.”

It was Seller who responded. “We’ll deal with that when the time comes. Right now, we focus on finding and subduing her.” He gave a quick glance to Abigail, adding, “Victim or not, that girl is dangerous. We make sure she’s not going to kill any of us before trying any of this negotiating.”

For a moment, Abigail looked as though she was going to say something to that. In the end, however, the woman simply gave a tight-lipped nod.

The three of them walked on for a bit longer, and they reached what looked like an ordinary, sleepy suburban street with small, one and two story houses lining both sides before Abigail finally did speak up, looking to the man while asking, “Does your blood tracker say how far away she might be?”

“Yeah, she’s–” Seller started before falling silent abruptly. His mirrored sunglasses didn’t hide his frown. “That’s funny, she was about three blocks that way, but it just disappeared. It’s like she–”

A blur of motion filled Abigail’s vision before the woman was suddenly grabbed and yanked around. She found herself facing Miranda and Seller, while an arm was held tightly against her throat and another hand was pressed against her face. She could feel the razor-sharp claws as they lightly, yet pointedly brushed over her skin.

“Like they knew you were tracking them and waited until you were right where they wanted you to be, then blocked it?” The by-then familiar voice tickled Abigail’s ears before the girl giggled. “That was what you were about to say, right? We love winning these games.”

“Lies!” Miranda blurted. The girl already had her shield in one hand as she stood there beside Seller, facing the one who had taken Abigail hostage. “Stop, don’t hurt her! We’re not here to attack you.”

“She’s right,” Seller confirmed. The man made no move to attack, draw any weapon, or make any threatening motion. He simply stood at ease. “We didn’t come to fight.”

The girl’s response was a sharp, lilting laugh before she leaned in close to Abigail’s ear, stage-whispering, “Is that right? Are the little birds telling the truth with their chirp, chirp, chirps? Or are they mean, nasty old beavers in crocodile clothing?” As if anticipating confusion, she added in a thoughtful tone, “Beavers are mean. Territorial. Nasty. Angry. Chomp, chomp, chomp. We weren’t even trying to steal your den, we just wanted to look inside because we were curious, jerk.”

“But why would you say in crocodile clothing?” The question clearly came before Miranda could stop it, even though she felt ridiculous even as the words tumbled from her mouth. “They’re pretty bad too.”

“What?” Lies sounded honestly flabbergasted by that. “No, they’re not. They’re adorable and cuddly. Name one animal with a better smile. If people would stop being so mean to them, maybe they could all get along.”

“Um.” Trying not to shift with the girl’s claws against her face, Abigail quietly spoke up. “I think we might have drifted somewhat off-topic.”

“Let her go, Lies.” Seller’s voice was firm. “Like we already said, we didn’t come here to hurt you.”

“Funny,” the Seosten girl retorted. “We didn’t come to hurt you either. We came to hurt the bad, bad, mean guys chasing us. Set a whole trap for them and everything. Left blood for them to track, had a whole thing set up. It would’ve been spiffy. But it was you, not them. You’re chasing, but not those chasers. You’re not them. You messed it up. We should punish you for that–what? No, I didn’t. We didn’t–we–yes, but if one of them dies, that still leaves two. That’s fair, isn’t it? But they really messed up our trap and it’s not fair. We worked hard on that trap. It’s not fair.”

Miranda’s head shook at that. “No one needs to be punished, Lies. We just want to talk.”

“Oooh, nobody needs to be punished?” Lies echoed the words, her smile appearing quite similar to that of the crocodiles that she had so recently extolled the virtues of. “Maybe you pretty thing could stick around and tell the mean old Manakel that, hmm? Maybe he’d change his mind then.”

“Manakel?” Seller jumped on that. “He’s sending all those guys after you, isn’t he? That’s why we’re here. You come with us and we’ll protect you. We can help each other. All you have to do is tell us what you know. Help us deal with them and Manakel won’t be able to hurt you.”

Again, the girl giggled. “You hear that? They came to protect us. Our knights in shining armor.”

“You’re in danger,” Abigail, standing as still as possible, reminded the girl. “The other Seosten obviously want you dead. We’ve already seen some of the results of that, and they’re obviously not going to stop. You can keep going by yourself, or you can make an alliance with us. None of us have to like each other, but we can help each other. We can all get what we want, what we need.”

“But if you hurt her,” Seller added in a voice that brooked no argument, “I promise that Manakel will be the least of your worries. We can work together. But you need to let her go. Show of trust. Let her go and we’ll work all of this out. Just take it easy.”

Miranda tensed, watching the other girl intently. Yet, she had a feeling that it would be okay. As violent as Lies was, and even though she was holding Abigail hostage, there was something innately different about her than there had been before. She seemed a little more in control of herself, a little less… crazed. Still not exactly reasonable or calm, but Miranda just had a feeling that she wasn’t going to kill Abigail, or even really hurt her, despite the implicit (and explicit) threat. Being hunted by Manakel’s people, it was obvious that she’d had a long few days, or weeks, or whatever it had been. She clearly knew that Miranda and the others were her best chance at survival. The question was whether she could control her psychological problems and violent impulses long enough to let that sink in. But thus far, the fact that she had stopped to talk to them, that she had shown herself at all and was still just standing there, it was actually a good sign.

“Take it easy?” Echoing Seller’s words in a tone that was somehow simultaneously mocking and curious, Lies shook her head. “None of this will be easy. They don’t understand, do they? No. Not easy at all. But helpful?” Leaning closer to Abigail’s ear, she stage-whispered once more. “They might, maybe, possibly prove how helpful they are now.”

Abigail spoke quietly. “Like I said, we want to help you. Tell us what we can do.”

Giving a long, curious sniff, Lies nonchalantly replied, “Maybe they can kill those ones.”

“Kill what o–” Miranda abruptly cut off her own question as a series of shuffling and creaking sounds caught all of their attention.

Spinning, she and the others took in the sight of figures emerging from all around them. They came from the shadows, pushing their way through the gates of fences that encircled nearby yards, pushing up out of a manhole in the middle of the street, kicking open the doors of a few parked cars to fall out before picking themselves up. Dozens of the creatures.

“Zombies,” Seller muttered, his voice flat as he scanned the area around them. They were surrounded, more and more of the things appearing with each passing second.

“Told you,” Lies primly reminded them. “You broke our trap.”

Shaking his head, the old Heretic announced, “We don’t have to deal with this.” He held a hand out, pausing briefly before sighing. “Or maybe we do. Something’s blocking teleportation.”

“Uh huh.” Lies sounded not the least bit surprised. If anything, she clearly thought that it was all very amusing. “Manakel doesn’t like it when you run away from his surprises. Oh, and FYI, not really zombies. Super-zombies. Manakel zombies. Hades. Stronger, faster, and smell worse. And more bad things. Like skills, powers, abilities. They keep them, not like normal boring zombies.”

“We can still fight them,” Miranda insisted. She took aim at one of the creatures as the army gradually surrounded the group, encircling them and moving forward, closer with each step.

“No.” Seller put a hand out, stopping the girl. “I’ll deal with these guys. The rest of you get out of here.

“Uh.” Miranda’s head shook. “In case it escaped your attention, we kinda can’t get out of here. They’re in the way.”

In response, the man extended a hand, making a quick motion. Part of the pavement about eight feet wide beneath the feet of the shuffling zombies abruptly raised upward, knocking them aside while forming into the shape of a tunnel, creating an opening right through the middle of the horde and continuing on for what looked like several blocks, straight down the road. Meanwhile, the man raised his other hand and made a sharp pushing motion. Immediately, the air near the ‘tunnel’ blurred and turned a bit hazy.   

“What did you–” Miranda started, before Seller’s hand caught her shoulder. He gave her a solid shove right into the mouth of the tunnel. As soon as she was there, the girl felt some kind of gravity-wind-force catch hold of her, and she was rapidly hurled down the length of the several-block long raised pavement tunnel. Her body tumbled end over end in mid-air, as though she was falling sideways. A startled yelp had just managed to escape her before she was gradually slowed to a gentle stop at the far end of it. For a second, the girl continued to float there a foot or so off the ground, before even that disappeared and she dropped lightly to her feet.

“Wheeeeeeeeee!” Behind her, Lies came soaring through the tunnel like Supergirl, hands outstretched in front of her as she flew right to the end. Once the ‘ride’ stopped, she pouted. “Aww, we wanted to keep going. Can we do it again?”

“Where–” Miranda’s question was cut off as Abigail came flying through as well, the woman crying out right as she reached the end to be dropped to the ground.

Once the three of them had collected themselves, Miranda stared down the street. She could barely make out the fight that was going on, and a part of her wanted to create a duplicate that could run back to help Seller.

But to be honest, she wouldn’t really be helping. The man could handle some zombies, even the ‘improved versions’ that Manakel apparently created, whatever that meant. At best, she would be a distraction. And if more bad guys came after them while Seller was busy, she would need all her powers to deal with that, rather than splitting them between duplicates.

“We have to get out of here,” she announced. “Seller will find us, and…” She paused, looking to Lies, who had walked around behind her. “What are you doing?”

“Hmm?” Glancing up, Lies gave them an innocent look. “Oh, nothing. Other-Me just thinks you have a cute butt, so we were getting a better look.” She paused briefly while Miranda made a choking, stammering noise before adding, “I wasn’t supposed to say that. So we’d like it if you just pretended we didn’t. We never said that.” As she spoke the last line deliberately, the girl waved a hand as if she was trying to be a Jedi.  

“I–we–what?” Head shaking, Miranda started, “Why do you keep saying we–wait.”

Abigail understood already. “Pace? Is we you and Pace?” the woman carefully asked.

“Well,” the girl retorted with a sniff, “there’s hardly anyone else in here with us.”

“I’m confused.” Miranda frowned, watching her closely. “Are you trying to say that you two are… working together or something? Why do you keep saying we, and talking about what Pace wants or… or likes?”

“Me, other-me, we, Pace, all of us.” Lies gave a languid shrug. “Pacey Pace already said if we don’t work together, we’ll die. So we do. We work together. We compromise. We are together. We are we.” She gave a little giggle then. “Still working out the kinks. And speaking of kinks, could you turn around again? Other-me really does like your butt. If-” She paused, coughing. “Oh. Other-me didn’t want us to say that again. This is very hard to know what we are supposed to say or not supposed to say. Trying to be nice and let her speak, but some things she thinks we’re not supposed to say. So complicated. So many rules.”

Stepping in quickly while Miranda mentally and vocally flailed, Abigail spoke up. “So you’re already working together. You can work with us. We can all help each other.”

Finally catching herself, Miranda nodded. “We get out of here, we meet up with Seller, and you can tell us what we need to know. You can tell us about Manakel, about the rest of the Seosten, and in exchange, we can protect you.”

“Ohhh, not that easy.” Lies shook her head slowly. “Not nearly so easy. We can tell you a lot. We can tell you oh-so-much. But it’s not protection we want. No. Not protection. We need more. We know so much, we can help so much.” Her hand tapped the side of her head. “So very much indeed. But if you want it, you have to earn it. Yes. You have to give us what we really want.”

Abigail gave a slow nod, shooting a warning glance to Miranda. “Okay, what do you want?”

A slow, still-manic smile spread across the face of the Lies-possessed Pace. “Do what Mama could never do. Fix us. Help us separate. I-We-She don’t want Pacey to die. Help me-me get out of other-me. Teach me, help me, fix me. Make me whole. Make me complete. Make me a full Seosten. Fix me so I can do what I’m supposed to do. Help me let Pacey Pace go without killing her.

“Do that. Fix me… and we will tell you everything you want to know.”    

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42 comments

  1. Whelp, there we have the second main interlude chapter for this arc. Thanks to the donators for deciding what the subject would be! So now you guys can see what Miranda, Seller, Abigail, and Lies/Pace have been up to. Making alliances. 😉 Sort of. And speaking of alliances, apparently Pace and Lies are, at least to some extent, cooperating. Which is kind of a… Seosten-Human partnership that’s somewhat different than Flick and Tabbris…

    Anyway, I hope you guys enjoyed this. On Friday, we’ll be getting back to Flick and the others in the start of the new arc. And in the meantime, I do hope that you’ll take the time to click this link to vote for this story on Top Web Fiction. 😀 Thanks!

    Tags for this chapter are: Abigail Fellows, Lies, Miranda, Pace, Right‚ So Nothing Too Difficult Then. Just Figure Out How To Do What The Entire Highly Motivated Seosten Empire Has Failed At For Millennia., See How Much Of An Influence Pace Has Been On Lies Already? Why‚ Aside From The Taking Abigail Hostage Part‚ She Was Downright Cordial With Them.

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  2. Hey, I caught up with you story 1 or 2 Weeks back, and would like to give some reader-side feedback on your website. I don’t know if you are interested in that sort of thing or where the place to post stuff like that is. Because I think, for example, that stuff like the ‘archive’ on the right is an objectively worse version from the tables of contents and is just wasting space.

    Also, about the chapter: I think the easy solution would be that spell that makes Seosten leave the bodies of people they are possessing.

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    1. It’s unknown if that spell actually works on Lie-types.

      We don’t know precisely why they can’t eject. Do they have a working eject and something pulls them back, or do they just not have a working eject?

      And we don’t know precisely how the spell works, either. Does it force the Seosten out directly, or does it forcibly trigger the eject function?

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  3. well… seostens may have been motivated, but humans are creatives…
    wonder, if you “speudo kill” (stop the heart and whatever is needed) the ost then ressucitate after the lie got out, would that work?

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  4. Hah, I totally called that they’d start saying “we,” and the listeners would just think she was insane. It was great.
    I wonder how worried they are that Lies is just lying about working with Pace.

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    1. Seller’s been around long enough that lying to him without special prep should be impossible between enhanced senses and direct lie detection powers.

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  5. First thing first: One of the recurring issues with MIs is jarring, “as you know” type exposition, often in the form of internal monologue that feels like they’re explaining to the readers. This doesn’t have that. Letting us know that Miranda has been read on the Twins was accomplished in a completely natural way.

    Now onto the chapter proper:

    Excellent description of the hotel room. The blood colors were a nice touch. I wonder how the bystander effect copes with CSI trying to run blood tests on non-human blood?

    Oh god, Abigail is great. Refusing to use with word “Lies” for handicapped Seosten? Insisting on saving both of them? And the little back and forth ending with everyone agreeing on “fuck the Seosten” was nice. I really want Athena and Abigail to meet at some point.

    Miranda’s issues with having separated from Flick make sense. I hadn’t really thought on that, but it makes sense.

    Seller being the voice of cynicism makes sense.

    —-

    Okay, time to revise my estimate of Lies’s skill level upwards. She fooled Seller’s tracking power and got the jump on HIM. Nice.

    So Lies likes screwy animal metaphors. Yeah, really fits the character.

    We should punish you for that–what? No, I didn’t. We didn’t–we–yes, but if one of them dies, that still leaves two. That’s fair, isn’t it? But they really messed up our trap and it’s not fair. We worked hard on that trap. It’s not fair.

    Pace talked Lies down here, didn’t she?

    “You hear that? They came to protect us. Our knights in shining armor.”

    Lies talking to Pace, right?

    Lies checking Miranda out? Amusing. Lies checking Miranda out because Pace thought she was hot, then getting all awkward about it? Hilarious.

    “Oh. Other-me didn’t want us to say that again. This is very hard to know what we are supposed to say or not supposed to say. Trying to be nice and let her speak, but some things she thinks we’re not supposed to say. So complicated. So many rules.”
    Lies asking to check Miranda out AGAIN because Pace thinks Miranda is hot, then getting scolded by Pace because that’s totally inappropriate? Horrifying. Horrifying because it implies the only real socialization Lies has post-puberty is what she’s assimilated from Pace.

    A slow, still-manic smile spread across the face of the Lies-possessed Pace. “Do what Mama could never do. Fix us. Help us separate. I-We-She don’t want Pacey to die. Help me-me get out of other-me. Teach me, help me, fix me. Make me whole. Make me complete. Make me a full Seosten. Fix me so I can do what I’m supposed to do. Help me let Pacey Pace go without killing her.

    “Do that. Fix me… and we will tell you everything you want to know.”

    Oh god. Lies has “possession test target” and “friend” crosswired in her head decades later. Going crazy didn’t let her move past what Kushiel did to her at all. She’s still associating “friend” and “person I need to depossess to prove myself to mom”.

    And the way she calls Pace “other-me” has some disturbing implications given the origin of the possession power. If Lies and Pace are seperated, how much bleed will there be? Will the resulting people by Lies and Pace, or Lies with a side of Pace and Pace with a side of Lies?

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  6. Isn’t it great that Lies wants the same thing Abigail and Miranda want? As long as she’s willing to dish out some goods for partial solutions or clear good faith progress she’s not asking for much.

    I wonder if she’d settle for the ability to eject via spell instead of innate ability? If the possession canceler rune works on handicapped Seosten then the main symptom of her disability is reduced from being unable to eject to ejection being a bit time-consuming and hurting like a bitch.

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  7. >“Take it easy?” Echoing Seller’s words in a tone that was somehow simultaneously mocking and curious, Lies shook her head. “None of this will be easy. They don’t understand, do they? No. Not easy at all. But helpful?” Leaning closer to Abigail’s ear, she stage-whispered once more. “They might, maybe, possibly prove how helpful they are now.”
    Abigail spoke quietly. “Like I said, we want to help you. Tell us what we can do.”
    Giving a long, curious sniff, Lies nonchalantly replied, “Maybe they can kill those ones.”
    “Kill what o–” Miranda abruptly cut off her own question as a series of shuffling and creaking sounds caught all of their attention.

    Well, tenseness and Manakel zombies aside, I would say the negotiation turned out rather well. None of the search party was injured and Lies is (technically) on-board.

    > She gave a little giggle then. “Still working out the kinks. And speaking of kinks, could you turn around again? Other-me really does like your butt. If-” She paused, coughing. “Oh. Other-me didn’t want us to say that again. This is very hard to know what we are supposed to say or not supposed to say. Trying to be nice and let her speak, but some things she thinks we’re not supposed to say. So complicated. So many rules.”

    Despite the situation, I am amused by Lies’ trolling of Miranda.

    An enjoyable update.

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    1. Other than that, really cool update! Looking forward to more of this subplot, as well as the main storyline on Friday 😁👍

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    2. The enhanced zombies may be a standard high level necromancer trick. Prepared zombies keeping combat skills is a thing Fossor also does. We don’t if Fossor can make his zombies keep non Edge heretic powers, though we do know he can’t make them keep Edge powers.

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  8. I feel like Seller bringing a not-very-combat trained Abigail along here speaks a few volumes about what he thinks of how safe she would be alone at Eden’s Garden.

    Lies’ opinion of crocodiles is great. Also, I think she was trolling Miranda and Pace with the butt thing. Between her behavior in Isaac’s interlude, her lucidity when talking to the orcs in her own interlude, the way the narration here notes she seems less crazy than before, and the fact that she has direct access to Pace’s thoughts and emotions, I think Lies is exaggerating her insanity to some extent and knew exactly what she was doing there at the end with Miranda.

    Also, Abigail’s spiel about Lies makes me wonder what she’ll think of Ammon’s unnatural sociopathy.

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    1. Yeah, I can see Lies playing up the crazy. Actually, I suspect she’s been doing it for longer than she’s been cooperating with Pace. A lot of her dialog has kinda had a “sanity is boring” feel to it.

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      1. Isaac’s interlude gave me the impression that she’s doing the same thing Wyatt does: exaggerating her genuine issues and flaws to levels that make people underestimate her more than they otherwise would. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think otherwise.

        And in the particular case of openly checking out Miranda for Pace, I think she’s just messing with both of them.

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    2. I feel like Seller bringing a not-very-combat trained Abigail along here speaks a few volumes about what he thinks of how safe she would be alone at Eden’s Garden.

      It’s a toss-up of how much of it is that and how much is the fact that she wanted to go and has super-arguing skills. Seller very well could have started off with the firm opinion that she would stay behind, but then Abigail started talking and the next thing Seller knew, she was going with them and he still isn’t quite sure how it happened.

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      1. Now, I know she’s been doing that at EG, but somehow the image of her pulling it on her centuries old great-great-grandfather is funnier. It almost reminds me of a toddler bugging grandpa into giving them treats.

        On a more serious note, I’m also interested in what Abigail said about the people who recruited Miranda not knowing Flick’s situation because it sounds like she thinks the Victors are aware of Flick being Joselyn’s daughter by now, or knew back then.

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  9. That is DIRTY POOL Cerulean! You hit upon the ONE tack that Lies could take that would make me cease calling for her head on a pike. Damnit. I LIKE Villain-heads on pikes!

    I swear, Ammon had better not become an effective vigilante or something. I’ll give up on Lies, but that brat has got-ta-go.

    Of course, fixing a Lie when KUSHIEL couldn’t do it with all the psychosis at her disposal would be no mean feat. This sounds like a job for Grandfather. Pity none of these guys know him.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kushiel has no relevant skills as far as we know, so her failure doesn’t mean a thing. Especially since she was trying to “fix” Lies to avoid the shame of being mother to a “defective” child and so would not have consulted anyone who might have the relevant skills, because that would mean telling other Seosten about her daughter’s condition. Add in her ridiculous unscientific methodology that seems more designed to indulge her sadism than anything else and there’s no reason to assume that her inability to “fix” Lies says anything new about the ability of actual specialists to fix it.

      She’s Rule 63 Angel Mengele, her failure to fix Lie Syndrome doesn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know about the difficulty.

      And we still don’t know if the possession canceller will expel a Seosten with busted possession powers IIRC.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. The Seostens may be motivated, but overall I’ve been less than impressed by their problem solving capacity. They tend to be incredibly arrogant, and arrogance tends to leave massive blind spots in your critical thinking.

    One idea I had is to try stopping Pace’s heart and then restarting it again. I’m pretty sure there is a non-zero chance that Pace wouldn’t wake up again, though. It might also be a bad sign that this is very similar to plans used by both Harry Dresden and Agatha Heterodyne.

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    1. One WoG that cropped up awhile ago is that Manakel isn’t used to covert ops like this because the last time he was on earth was when they were still playing gods and could move a lot more openly. He’s far outside his comfort zone and that makes him more prone to screwing up than he would be in circumstances he’s better used to.

      And before him, Paschar was hampered by adhering to procedure by taking pains to ensure nothing he did to kill Avalon could lead back to the Seosten. He’s still the only one of the four Seosten (himself, Manakel, Charmeine, and Lies) assigned to kill Avalon who hasn’t done something to directly expose their race and Empire to Heretics (depending on whether it was him or Manakel who brought in Lies).

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      1. It was him.

        And given how idiotic that decision was he’s to blame for anything that goes wrong because of Lies.

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      2. To make things clear, Paschar is the one who brought Lies to Earth because she was assigned to him, not by his own choice. The Seosten responsible for assigning her to his team is… someone whose identity we do not know at this point. The point was that between Manakel and Paschar, her initial superior was Paschar, who kept her busy doing quiet and not-intrusive things for awhile until Manakel showed up and made her take a more active role in things.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Given werecritter regen stopping her heart isn’t going to be enough to count as dead, I don’t think. The only organ where removing it without silver involved is a killshot or even close to one on a werecritter is the brain, and that’s assuming no non-werecritter regen/defense powers. Just stopping the heart? Not nearly enough.

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  11. Lies is where I draw the line on the “maybe the monsters aren’t really monsters” theme that’s been underpinning this story so far.

    There’s a certain point where the “maybe they were never given a chance, maybe it’s not their fault they’re doing bad things” concept gets taken too far and becomes “this person is a monster because of their abusive past”. It turns abuse into something that makes people into damaged monsters, when, y’know, most abandoned and abused people don’t torture others for fun. (In fact people with CPTSD, who were abused as children, experience a much more elevated risk of being the victim of further abuse later in life than of becoming an abuser themselves).

    There’s a certain level of sympathy I have for people who are conscripted and forced to do horrible things, and I have an even greater sympathy for children who are forced into those circumstances. But abuse can’t make someone *want* to do monstrous things to people, and we’ve seen Lies willfully and gleefully torturing people of her own initiative, just for fun. To now start establishing a narrative that says “maybe Lies did these things because she’s a victim” may seem like a compassionate, caring concept on the surface, but if you dig a bit deeper it gets ugly. It says that abuse can make people into monsters, and that’s not only untrue it’s a narrative which in the real world dogs victims of abuse in a really awful way.

    I just … as a victim of abuse myself, I’m really uncomfortable with the direction Lies’ story is taking. I’ll suspend judgement until the whole thing pans out (for all I know Lies’ apparent redemption arc is going to get subverted) but right now I’m not comfortable with what’s going on.

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    1. Disclaimer: This message is not intended to persuade you to find Lies sympathetic. Honestly, I agree with that sentiment to an extent, in that I think the strength of Abigail’s desire to help her is a little odd in the face of everything Lies has done and tried to do (although I also sympathize with Lies, and the way Miranda doesn’t seem to feel the same way as Abigail mitigates this concern for me a lot).

      That said:

      I feel like the point you’re making is undermined by the fact that Lies is by no means the only person in this story who was abused as a child.

      Case in point: Avalon. She was also violently abused by her father, physically and emotionally, on a regular basis until she was eleven. She still has psychological scars from it and she’s not exactly squeaky clean, no one is going to call her a monster any time soon.

      Similarity, Wyatt was emotionally (and probably physically) abused by the Rendells growing up. Roxa ran away to live on the streets to escape an abusive home. And the closest thing Nevada had to a parent before meeting Pericles was a woman who only sees and treats her as a tool and property to be used for her own ends.

      You’re saying that most people who are abused as children don’t grow up to be abusive themselves. Well, this story reflects that. Most of the characters we know were abused as children grew up to be well-meaning, outright heroic people. And to my knowledge, Lies is the only character abused as a child that grew up to knowingly do monstrous things.

      Well, her and Ammon. But by now it’s clear that Fossor is intentionally conditioning/raising/brainwashing him to be like that, at least partially though artificial means, so I don’t think that situation applies to this conversation.

      Back to the point. I don’t doubt what you’re saying about the majority of victims of abuse growing up to not be monsters. But I’ve heard and read too many real life accounts of abusers that were themselves abused as children to believe it can’t happen.

      On the other hand, there are plenty of monsters worse than Lies in this story that weren’t abused as children. There’s no indication that Isaac’s parents ever did anything to him. And while Fossor’s relationship with his dad was frosty as a kid, the man wasn’t really abusive (at least not in the sense we’re describing here).

      Furthermore, I would argue that Kushiel’s treatment of Lies isn’t the only factor leading her to do monstrous things. She may be a lie, but Lies is still a Seosten. And for all that Seosten lies are second class citizens in the Empire, they’re still held in higher esteem than all the slave races. The fact that Kushiel was willing to kill so many of them to “fix” Lies is evidence of that. Like almost every other Seosten, she’s been culturally conditioned to view all other species as worth less than her own. It’s the same kind of mindset that leads to ethnic cleansing in real life.

      And while there’s no explicit wording to confirm this in the story, I would also bet that Seosten lies really are conscripted into the Fomorian war at a young age. So this Lies likely has that experience on top of everything else to deal with. Though again, I can’t assert this.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Just a quick question, but… when you say that you’ve seen Lies ‘willfully and gleefully torturing people of her own initiative’, are you by chance thinking about the pixie torture? Because *that* was done by Isaac, not Lies. Lies herself expressed disdain for it, calling it ‘stupid torture games’.

      To now start establishing a narrative that says “maybe Lies did these things because she’s a victim” may seem like a compassionate, caring concept on the surface, but if you dig a bit deeper it gets ugly. It says that abuse can make people into monsters, and that’s not only untrue it’s a narrative which in the real world dogs victims of abuse in a really awful way.

      I understand your point, but… no it doesn’t. It establishes that people can react to systematic abuse in different ways. I’ve also established that Isaac, who is arguably a much greater monster than Lies, has **absolutely no horrific backstory or abuse** to make him that way. His childhood was fine, his parents were fine, etc. He’s just fucked up, and was since before he was a Heretic. So I have very firmly established that I’m not saying ‘monsters are made by abuse’.

      Basically, I really don’t think that ‘this person was abused and broken psychologically and thus has done monstrous things’ in any way, shape, or form equals ‘all psychologically damaged people are monsters’, unless one is really trying to take it that way.

      And more to the point, the fact is that abuse CAN turn people into monsters. I’m not saying it always does, or that they don’t have a choice in the matter. But ‘environmental factors’ certainly contributes to it in many ways. Yes, absolutely, many, many, many people who are abused go on to be absolutely wonderful people with lovely families. But to say that people who are abused NEVER become monsters because of that abuse is somewhat disingenuous.

      Besides, let’s look at the facts here. Lies wasn’t simply abused. Her entire civilization is built around treating her like a monster, reject, failure, etc. She wasn’t simply tortured by her mother, her society itself rejects her very existence to the point that she isn’t given a name. She was brought to Earth in the first place mostly to humiliate her parents in a political move, and then left to be tortured by rogue Heretics for days just because her superior couldn’t be bothered to spend the little effort it would have taken to rescue her.

      And yet, it could be argued that she is still one of the more competent Seosten we’ve seen on this mission DESPITE all her issues. She is horrifically damaged, yes, by her parents and her entire society. Yet she has continued to try to make herself as useful as possible to her people.

      So, I think dismissing it as ‘to now start establishing a narrative that says maybe she was a victim’ ignores pretty much EVERYTHING that has been a part of the character pretty much the entire time (or at least shown to the audience since that first Pace interlude that revealed Lies’ existence). She’s been established to be more sympathetic than she was initially shown as for quite a long time now, as her backstory and character was revealed more and more.

      And when it gets right down to it, what the current trajectory of the Lies storyline establishes is that EVEN as damaged as she is, even as much as she has been abused and broken by everything that has happened in her life, she is NOT simply an irredeemable monster. That’s pretty much the entire POINT of her storyline. Has she done monstrous things? Sure. But the point is that she can change. The point is that anyone is CAPABLE of change, under the right circumstances and motivation, or even just the person making the right choice at the right time. And, of course, the point is also that the Seosten are basically tossing her aside because they have never respected her or seen her as worthwhile no matter how hard she tried (in her own way), and that is going to bite them in the ass in a major way.

      No, she is not suddenly a shining paragon of virtue and honor, she’s not some fluffy perfect person. That wouldn’t make any sense whatsoever. But she is making choices, her own choices, because of the Seosten basically throwing her under the bus so many times.

      The short version of all that rambling is that her storyline is absolutely not the only demonstration of abuse in the story, thus it is absolutely not any kind of indication that I think ‘abuse = monster’. And even if we see it as a storyline of abuse creating a monster, it is also a storyline of that resulting monster having a choice of her actions, and actually being quite competent in spite of how she’s seen. Her entire species, as a whole, rejects her as worthless. And they will pay for that rejection, in more than one way.

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      1. Just a quick question, but… when you say that you’ve seen Lies ‘willfully and gleefully torturing people of her own initiative’, are you by chance thinking about the pixie torture?

        I’m obviously not sengachi can’t speak for him, but I’m reasonably sure he was talking about the times she enjoyed “playing” with Sean, Columbus, Flick, and Shiori; told Flick she was going to give her to Doxer as a present, laughed about what Lemuel did to Roxa, and and helped kidnap all the were kids.

        … although I’m reasonably sure the only one of those things that was done on her own initiative was the present thing.

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    1. A. It’s unlikely that spell will work. It’s designed for normal Seosten rather than Seosten lies, and it was originally created by a Seosten. If the first Tabbris had a way to stop lies from needing to possess until death, he would have used it.

      B. Even if A is wrong, Flick isn’t the only person who knows that spell. They don’t have to wait for Flick to get back to try it.

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