Cat out of the Bag 2.5

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“This keeps getting worse.”

I took Gordon’s statement to be a thought about our errant reverend Mauer and the riot.  Then I caught a glimpse of the Academy, a considerable distance down the road.

Even standing so far back that we were closer to Lambsbridge Orphanage than to the Academy, I could tell that the Hedge was closed.  Shutters closed and no doubt locked, front entrance closed with an iron gate. More security would have been used inside.  The Hedge was the easiest and most obvious point of access for anyone looking to attack the Academy, and measures had to be taken to make it defensible, while keeping it accessible to the public.  I suspected the measures were very similar to those in the Bowels of the Academy.

Where twice the number of men had been posted there earlier in the afternoon, it sat at over three times the usual, with ten men and ten stitched.  The gates they guarded were only open wide enough for a man to slip through, ready to be closed at a moment’s notice.

It was getting to be later in the afternoon, now, and as long as the summer days were, the daylight was fading.  The lights were just being turned on, in anticipation of looming sunset and evening.

“What do you want to bet they won’t let us through?” Jamie asked.

“We need badges,” I said.  “Secret badges that we can flash to any member of the Academy that gets in our way.  Maybe we can get the Academy heads to pass a rule so everyone knows they have to do anything we say.”

“That would be useful,” Helen said.

Yeah,” Gordon said, with a generous heaping of sarcasm and emphasis.  “Does anyone here think Sy wouldn’t abuse that six ways from Sunday?  Anyone?  Show of hands.”

“I’m hurt,” I said.  “And I still want badges.”

“I hate to break it to you,” Gordon said, “But nobody who knows you in the slightest is going to sign off on that.”

I huffed, sticking my hands in my pockets.

Jamie gave me a pat on the shoulder.  “Don’t be grumpy.”

“I’m not being grumpy!  I think it’s dumb that we keep getting held back because of arbitrary stuff and secrecy.  Half the students know us, the other half keep getting in our way.  Like back when we were wrapping up the Mothmont thing, that guy stopping me from walking out?”

“I wouldn’t say half,” Gordon said.

“Don’t nitpick,” I said.

“Don’t use hyperbole, then,” he countered.

“I wasn’t.  I was generalizing.

Mary made a little ‘ahem’ sound.  Our heads turned.  “It’s interesting to see you interacting like this.”

“Interesting how?”

“After meeting Sy at Mothmont, seeing how he was there, having weeks to worry about how I’d deal with all of you as a group, um.  It’s not what I expected.  Seeing you, him, here like this?”

“I understand,” I said.  “It takes people some time to adjust to how amazing we are.  Me in particular.”

Mary’s mouth parted a bit, but she didn’t manage to produce any vocalization.  Beside Mary, Lillian’s hand went up to her face.

I took advantage of it, turning so I was walking backward, flashing her a smirk.  I used a hand to push hair away from one corner of my face, where the rain had made it damp, posing like I was a hero on a cover of some seedy romance novella.  “You’ll get used to it.”

Jamie spoke up, “I think Mary might have been talking about the contrast of how you portrayed yourself at Mothmont and how badly you were just losing your argument with Gordon there.”

My smile disappeared, and I glared at Jamie.  He, in turn, shot me a quiet, small smile that suggested he was secretly pleased with himself.

“Jamie,” I said, “You’re one of the very few people I can beat in a fight.”

“In theory,” Gordon offered.

“Like Wollstone’s ratio set is a theory,” I said,  “At a certain point, you have to accept that it’s a given.”

“I’m the book-reader and scholar with glasses,” Jamie said.  “Why are you the one making the pathetic stabs at intellectual wit, here?”

I raised my eyebrows.  “Gordon’s bad enough, but you?  You’re asking for it.”

“Come on,” Jamie said.

I threw myself at Jamie, arms around his neck, but we didn’t stop moving toward the Academy gates.

“There’s a dynamic,” Gordon said.  “A big part of the dynamic is keeping Sy from becoming unbearable.”

As if to illustrate the point, he reached back to take Jamie’s notebook with a reverent care, freeing Jamie’s other hand and making life harder on me in the process.

“-Resent that!” I grunted out the words, meaning it in more than one sense.

“Why is he special?”  Mary asked.

“He’s meant to be the unpredictable one, bending and testing rules and altering the patterns we operate in.  Sy said you got the broad strokes from the puppeteer?”

“Broad strokes.  Not necessarily all the right strokes.  While I was still being questioned and tested on at the Academy, Sy told me that Evette and Ashton didn’t work out.”

Jamie and I stopped our struggles at the mention of the names.

“No,” Gordon said.  He sighed.  “No, they didn’t.  They didn’t make it past the beginning stages.”

“Ashton was like me,” Helen said.

“Except not at all,” Lillian pointed out.

“Except not at all,” Helen clarified.

“Vat grown?” Mary asked.  I noticed the change in her voice and body language, interacting with Helen.

“Yes,” Helen said.  “Like you and I.”

Abruptly, almost to the point that I’d call it impulsively, Helen reached out and touched the side of Mary’s face.

The word ‘stricken’ derived from the word ‘strike’ in the same way that struck was, and Mary looked more stricken than if she’d been struck with a sword.

“She’s doing that-” I started.

Jamie pulled on the back of my shirt, forcing me to bend over to maintain free range of movement with my arms.  I did what I could to jab at the softer sides of his belly, tickling him.

-on purpose, I finished the sentence in my head.  Helen wasn’t doing anything wrong, exactly, even if she was being weird.

Gordon reached out and took hold of Helen’s hand, removing it from Mary’s face.  He stepped between the two of them and held Helen’s hand, more for Mary’s sake than for Helen’s.

“The original plan was for each of us to have a role, a specific set of talents, and for us to be able to address any problem.  A gestalt.”

“I got that part,” Mary said.

“Nothing goes one hundred percent according to plan.  Not all of us wound up being entirely what we were designed to be, and Sy wasn’t intended or even proposed for the gestalt group.  Entirely different project, minor in the grand scheme of things.  Hayle picked him up anyway.  He’s, I’m blanking on the word, starts with ‘v’.”

“Versatile,” I said, redoubling my efforts to tickle Jamie.

“Variable,” Jamie said, almost at the point where he was able to pull the bottom of my shirt over my head and arms.

Variable,” Gordon said, probably going with Jamie because it made me wrong.  “Sy is variable, to the point where he inadvertently covers other bases.”

“As a scoundrel.”

“As Sy, whatever labels apply at the moment.  But see, point I’m getting around to is that Sy likes to describe humanity as a collection of careening objects, bouncing and ricocheting off established boundaries.”

Jamie pinned my hands in his armpits by pressing his elbows tight to his body, and hiked up my shirt more.  That he could talk and I couldn’t suggested he was winning, which was as irritating as hell.  “He says that because he’s a bouncing, random object.”

“Sort of,” Gordon said.  “He’s human.  Only things keeping him bound in and constrained are the firmest ones the Academy sets, and us.  As Jamie is demonstrating.”

“Eat dicks!” I told Gordon, my voice muffled by the shirt Jamie had pulled up around my head.

“I was scared of him, once,” Mary admitted.  “And now?”

“Say what you will about Sy, he’s very good at making people experience that dissonance between what they expect and what they get.  Sy is scary, he is dangerous and capable, you weren’t wrong when you judged it, back then.  But now you’re with us, a member of our group, which is very possibly the safest possible place you could be when dealing with Sylvester there.  With us as a whole, even.  Keep that in mind if you’re ever entertaining the idea of stabbing us in the back.”

There was a pause.

“I was wondering when that was coming,” Mary said.

“Had to be said.  Sorry.”

There was an awkward pause.  I struggled with Jamie for a second, seriosuly annoyed at this point.  I wanted to be able to do more to handle the Mary thing.  Left alone, Gordon could push her away.  I was the biggest villain of the two of us, but when Gordon hurt people, they took a while to bounce back from it.

Mary broke the silence.  “That stuff you were saying, in a roundabout way, am I right in interpreting that as you saying that I don’t need to worry?”

“How worried were you?” Gordon asked.

“Mary’s been very tense,” Lillian volunteered.  “Worried about how things would go.”

“I was.”

“You don’t need to worry about us in general.  Really.”  Damn Gordon.  He was so good at sounding sincere.

“Oh, good.  Gosh!  Even Helen, then?”

“Am I so scary?”

“A little!  More than a little, but if Gordon says you’re okay, and Sy’s not protesting…”

I was silent.

Gordon jumped in, stumbling with his words in a way he usually didn’t.  “I’m… saying that you don’t need to worry about us in general.”

You’re a cruel, cruel man, Gordon.

Correcting her about Helen without saying anything outright.

Nobody was saying anything.  I suspected Mary’s fears about Helen had been redoubled, and I had further suspicions that Gordon had done it on purpose.

He wasn’t as confident about Mary being a part of the group as I was, or he was concerned on a level.  Just as he’d talked about the group keeping me in line, he was using Helen as the proverbial whipping stick for Mary.

I wasn’t so keen on that.  Mary had enough sticks.

I struggled to pull my shirt down, while Jamie interfered with those struggles.

“We’re at the academy,” Gordon said.  The meaning was clear.  Stop roughhousing.

Jamie let me free.  I fixed my shirt and tucked it in, then fixed my hair.  Mary was giving me an amused look, and Jamie looked smug.

I wasn’t proud.  I was willing to look silly in front of Mary if it meant she could let her guard down a fraction, easing into the group.  Losing to Jamie was part of that.

Entirely intentional.  For real.  No joke.

The people by the entrance gathered together as we drew closer.  The six of us against ten or so Academy students and their stitched.

“We’ve been invited,” Gordon said.

“No entry,” one of them said.

“We’ve been invited,” Gordon said, again.  “Thank you.”

One way to win an argument, just keep hammering at them until they give way.  If they tire or show weakness, seize on that, hammer again.

“No entry,” the same student told us.

Gordon looked at Jamie.  Jamie’s prediction had been right.

“Go inside, find and talk to Professor Hayle.  He’ll tell you we’re allowed inside.”

“He’ll tell us the same thing every other Professor has told us.  Nobody in or out.”

It was the same problem I’d had with Rick.  We could be manipulative, we could poke, prod, bait, and mislead, and if we found any give at all, we could capitalize on it.

No give here.

“Professor Hayle told us to run an errand, and report back at the earliest possible moment.  If you don’t let us past, it’s going to upset him.”

“I’m willing to take that risk.  You’re being irritating.  Go home.”

“This is our home,” Helen said.  “It’s my home.”

The man studied her, up and down.  Helen didn’t look like a proper student.

“Helen Ibott,” she said, extending a hand for him.  “Yes.  I am his daughter.”

The name carried weight.  I saw two men behind our obstacle exchanging glances.

“He’s not married,” our antagonist said, unmoved.

“I’m still his daughter,” Helen said, without flinching.

One of the two spoke up.  “I could just run over to Claret Hall and-”

“No,” the man said.  “There’s no need.”

It was so stupid.  Such a waste.

Mary stepped back a bit, until she was standing to one side of me.  Her voice was soft, “I don’t think they’re very good at fighting.  I could try something, make a distraction, and we could slip through.”

“Too messy,” I murmured.

“I thought so.”

“It’s interesting that you think you could win against ten people and ten stitched,” I said.

“I don’t think I could win.  I do think I could get us inside and slip away.”

I nodded slowly.  Interesting.  Gordon couldn’t do that, and Gordon could probably beat her in a scrap, but she did have techniques and talents.

Everything about the group fit together, a larger puzzle of talents, strengths and weaknesses.  Every element was a thing I could potentially use or a thing I had to account for.

“You’re Vernon,” Jamie said, cutting off Gordon mid-sentence.  “Cornet?”

Our barrier to entry nodded, frowning a little.  “That’s my name.”

“You were working on the group project last year, Claret Hall, the kit.  Smaller, lighter pack for field care of soldiers and stitched on the battlefield.”

Vernon didn’t respond, but his frown deepened.

“It didn’t go well, I heard,” Jamie said.

“That wasn’t my fault.  The others dropped the ball.”

“But it was such an unfettered disaster that your classmates talked about it, and I heard about it, and I remember hearing about it.  A year later.”

“What went wrong?” Lillian asked.  I suspected it was out of genuine curiosity rather than an effort to play along.

“They took it on themselves to develop a smaller, lighter pack.  A basic failure would be producing something smaller and lighter, but less effective,” Jamie said.  “But when you design by committee, and you somehow produce something heavier, bulkier, and less effective, a failure on every count…”

Vernon suddenly looked exceptionally unhappy.  “I said it wasn’t my fault.  Why even bring this up?  You think I’m going to let you in because of it?”

“No,” Jamie said.  “I’m not that cunning.  I remembered and thought it was interesting.”

I picked up the slack.  “But if you’re trying to earn brownie points by pulling volunteer duty standing guard, and being a problem because you’re trying too hard to do your job, well, the professors are going to get upset we weren’t able to report in…”

I trailed off, letting someone else pick up.  Gordon for that note of authority and command, perhaps.

“We might have to drop your name, Vernon Cornet,” the ‘daughter’ of Doctor Ibbot said, instead.

Just as good.

Vernon looked over his shoulder, “Go find one of the professors and ask if the kids are allowed in.”

“Hayle,” Gordon said.

“Hayle,” Vernon corrected.

We settled in for a wait.

Claret Hall was the rare sort of building that was entirely grown.  The wood had been given a deep red color as part of the growing process, it had been shaped every step of the way, and made into a veritable work of art.

It was the starting point and end goal for most members of Radham Academy.  Students took their introductory classes here, Lillian included, and those who climbed the ranks and proved their mettle ended up as part of the administration, elsewhere in the building.

The guard had gone in and found Hayle, then reported back to us with his location.

As a group, we entered one of the faculty-only rooms.

Professors Briggs, Sexton, Hayle, Fletcher and Reid were all present, in black lab coats.  They sat in chairs, stood, or leaned against the tables around the perimeter of the rooms.  Though it was summer, a fire blazed in the fireplace opposite the entrance.  Two plates with only morsels of food remaining on them suggested that some but not all had eaten their dinners.  The wine glasses were full, the firelight catching the contents and making the deep reds into something bright.

The other professors didn’t pay us much mind as we approached.  The glances they deigned to give us were almost disinterested.

Briggs was the one to impress.  He ran Claret Hall, and through that position, he was the head of the Academy, controlled much of Radham, and a fair portion of the surrounding area.  He was older but not old, and unlike Hayle he had colored his hair and rejuvenated his skin.  He looked as if he’d stretched himself a half-foot taller, but retained the same body weight, making him into a living caricature of the man he’d once been.  His fingers were spidery, one hand holding a wine glass, the other on the desk, pads of the fingers pressing down so the fingers themselves bowed.

The armless, crimson-tinted glasses that were perched halfway down his nose were purely for show, but they caught the firelight as he stared at the source of it.

It might have been my association with Hayle, but I tended to have less respect for those who’d gone so far to alter themselves with medicine and surgery.  Professor Briggs was an exception.  It was hard to disrespect a man who could terminate the Lambsbridge project, or terminate the Wyvern project and me with it.

He was, in an indirect way, responsible for the existence of the Lambs, for Dog and Catcher, for the Hangman, Gorger, Foster, the Whelps and all the rest.

His pet project, however, wasn’t out and about, hunting for Whiskers.

Hayle wanted to prove our worth as a group.  This was where it counted.

I touched the small of Gordon’s back before he could say anything.  He didn’t give any indication that I’d done anything, but he did remain silent.

“Insurrection,” I said, as we drew close enough to be in earshot.

That turned heads.

Briggs, however, was unfazed.  “We expected something in that vein.”

“Reverend Mauer.  He’s got Dicky Gill and Mr. Warner at his back.”

“Gill was already restless, suggesting something was wrong.”

“That something is the Reverend,” I said.  “He’s probably been laying groundwork for a long time.”

“Since he arrived in Radham three years and two months ago,” Jamie said.

Briggs nodded.

“He told a crowd that two people were killed by the experiment,” I said.  I looked at Jamie.

“Upper-west part of Radham.  Oscar and Martin Meadows?”

It was Sexton who answered.  Young as professors went, pale, with blond hair neatly parted, he had a shadow on his chin that suggested he hadn’t had time to shave earlier in the day.  “We didn’t hear about that, and we should have.”

“It was probably a lie,” I said.  “And if he can lie about that, he’ll lie about other things.”

“Useful information,” Hayle commented.

“Of course you think so,” Fletcher said.  “They’re yours.

“I prefer action to information.  Unless your children removed the problem, Hayle?”  Professor Briggs asked.

“If they didn’t, there was a good reason for it,” Hayle said.  “Gordon?”

“We couldn’t reach him, and we thought we should ask, just in case.  Mauer is surrounded himself with people, and he’s preparing them as soldiers.  The crowd nearly rioted.”

“We can handle a riot,” Briggs said.  “It’s poor timing, but if he’s determined to be inconvenient about this-“

“He’s not,” I interrupted.

Briggs frowned.  He finally turned away from the fire and looked at me.  When he spoke, however, he remarked, “Six, Hayle?  Are they multiplying somehow?”

“Mary over there, with the ribbons and brown hair, is a new addition to the Lambsbridge program.”

“I didn’t authorize the increased budget.”

“I didn’t use one.  It was Percy who developed her.  I simply took over guardianship of her after he fled.”

“Brilliant,” Fletcher said, under his breath.

I suspected the man was quite drunk.

“You told me I had discretion to manage the project as I saw fit,” Hayle said, in a tone that was overly clear and calm.  He was trying to frame it all so that if Briggs spoke out, he’d sound unreasonable.

“If you aren’t misappropriating funds, I don’t care,” Briggs said.  “The project has yet to impress, I don’t see how seven disappointments are much worse than six.”


Oh.  He was counting Evette and Ashton in the number.

Insulting them.

Considering that I’d never even met them, I felt a surprising degree of loathing for the man who’d insulted their memory.

I must have been giving some indication of what I was feeling, because Jamie bumped into me, his hand finding mine, clutching it hard.

“If your children are incapable of dealing with the Reverend, Hayle, then we can have the Hangman accompany them to the church.  Once they point the way, the Hangman can deal with the Reverend.  Kill the problem at its root, then deal with the peripheral concerns, it’s a matter of time before we find our escaped project.”

“That won’t work,” I said.

“Sylvester,” Hayle said.  “If you could show Professor Briggs an appropriate amount of respect by not interrupting him or jumping in to correct him, I would very much appreciate it.”

He put emphasis on ‘very much’, in a way that insinuated Hayle might have me put down if I didn’t shut up.

“I’m showing Professor Briggs respect by not letting him make a mistake that would reflect badly on him.”

Hayle didn’t say anything, but the look in his eyes promised consequences.

“Why wouldn’t it work?” Briggs asked.

“He knows very well who you are, what the Academy is, and what you’re capable of.  He’s clever, and he’s positioned everything in such a way that you’ll pay in spades for anything you do to him.  Kill him, and you martyr him.”

“As I said, we can handle riots.”

“And as I said,” I pointed out, without missing a beat, “He’s not concerned with being inconvenient.  He’s set on making himself convenient, entirely essential to the smooth running of Radham.”

I didn’t dare look away from Briggs, in case he took it to mean I was weak, but I was pretty sure Hayle was ready to kill me.  One didn’t generally debate with Professor Briggs.  He had the clout and power to handle most problems in a direct means.  He probably could handle this situation by throwing everything he had at it, and he wouldn’t regret the aftermath, messy as it might be.

“Explain,” Briggs said.

It was Gordon who explained.  “He’s been planting seeds and nourishing them in key people.  Yes, if you have him killed, you’ll have riots.  But things don’t end there.  He’s reached some of your students.  He’s reached major figures across the city.  He’s playing a game of chess, and he’s laid out the board so you can’t take one of his pieces without his taking two of yours.”

“We have more pieces,” Briggs said.  The man didn’t even flinch.

He was fully prepared to wage a war if it came down to it.

“We have more pieces, but he has an agenda,” I said.  “He’ll spread word to other cities, other Academies, because that’s how he can hurt you best.  He’s already telling people about the special projects.  Word might leak out in other cities, they might have problems now and again, they might even have a riot now and again, but if he makes everything go wrong, lets all the information slip, he could make Radham look like a joke.

Looking at Briggs, he most definitely didn’t like that.  I wondered if it was concern for the problem or the implication that Radham could even be a joke.

“I have to say,” Fletcher said.  “One thing I like about Dog and Catcher is that they don’t talk so much.”

“The Lambs aren’t like Dog and Catcher,” Hayle said.  “They are, I should stress, much better equipped to solve problems that brute force won’t answer.”

“So you say,” Professor Briggs said.  He pursed his lips a little.

It looked like he was going to say something, but the doors opened.

A man in a grey coat strode into the faculty room.  The room was large enough it took him a few seconds to get into earshot.

“Word got out,” the man said.  “About three more escapes.”

“Three more?” Sexton asked, voice arching.

“Only one we know of, but it was visible.  Large enough to be seen as it climbed the wall.  Bullets wounded it but didn’t stop it.  Citizens are talking about there being three, which-”

“Is a lie,” Hayle said.  “Our Reverend is in full control right now.”

“How very fortunate that we had your Lambs to inform us what was really happening,” Briggs said, with a note of sarcasm.  “Lambs.  You can do this?”

“Yes,” Gordon said.  And he was exactly the right person to say it with utter confidence.

“I’ll need some things,” Hayle said, “to better coordinate.”

My eyes widened.  I jumped in.  “We need two things.”

Oh, the look Hayle gave me there.  I’d promised to be good, but I suspected I’d never get another chance.

“Two things?”

“Hayle might need more.  But for us… badges.  A way to get past the blockades and general interference.”

“Hand written notes,” Briggs said.

“With something permanent after?” I asked.

I was testing my luck, considering the tension I felt from my fellow Lambs, Hayle, and Briggs, and the incredulity on the other professor’s faces.

“Possibly,” Briggs said.  “What else?”

“We need an adult,” I said.

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83 thoughts on “Cat out of the Bag 2.5

  1. Clever Sy. Let no crisis go to waste.

    If he can get access to anywhere, no questions asked, like that badge would give him, and move unrestricted throughout the Academy…I think we might be seeing the first steps towards a revolt of his own.

    That, or he just wanted badges, because he is twelve.

  2. I can see why having an adult Face in the group would be advantageous, but… there are downsides to that, too.:/

    And, that’s quite a badge-shaped bee you’ve got in your bonnet, Sly.😀

    • Well, since the Lambsbridge Projects are short on department funds & Briggs is cheap on projects that doesn’t catch his fancy, he may just dump on them a punny failed project with an “Adult Supervision” theme; Crotalus DNA for Infrared Sensory load-out & reaction speed, Bubo virginianus DNA for sheer ocular power and near 360° head turning ability, and finally Crocuta crocuta DNA for solid and powerful neck muscles to prevent neck-snaps all packaged into a female form as a sorta evil Mary Poppins.

      Sy really treats people as “cattle” to be herded to his will right? That’s what Hayle brought him into the project for, to use on the gestalt & their targets, only now, Sys is aiming it at the Academy Administration with Hayle himself as one of the “cattle”… Hayle knows this too, no wonder he’s pissed, way too close to being like the targets he usually sends the Projects after.

  3. Now I’m wondering about that other project.

    I’m curious how many of the academy special projects would be useful for riot control. Surely the Academy has aerosolizable incapacitating agents, and delivery systems handy.

    I’m also really interested about how ITTL people managed a full sequencing of any genome, or to even see the stuff they’re manipulating at an atomic level.

    • I think in one of his now-vanished notes on the test chapters, Wildbow said that one of the difficulties of writing this world would be doing some research on biology so he didn’t make glaring mistakes.

      The Wollstone ratios are a method of hand-waving some of that (IMO). They allow Wildbow the freedom to say that the Academy knows tricks our biological sciences don’t, which allows results that our biological sciences can’t do. Yet.

      Bottom line: I don’t expect him to explain how to cook up Whiskers in a lab. And I am fine with that – the fewer real technical details that are shown, the fewer that could jar my sense of disbelief by being wrong (I have a strong background in biological sciences).

      Now, if you want someone who can link real biology to solid sci-fi, check out Peter Watts. His Wikipedia page ( has links to some of his books published online; his short stories are at He uses real biology along with some extrapolation to produce compelling works that are scarily close, emphasis on scary. His tech and physics are sometimes a little off (because he is a biologist) but his biology is so well-researched and spot-on that his books have actually predicted some developments – his end notes in βehemoth list several hits or near hits (which is near-miraculous, even for a smart person). And he writes dark worlds also.

      • I’m aware of Watts, and I’ve read Blindsight and Echopraxia. Those were certainly hard(core) sci-fi.

        I was more wondering out loud about that stuff (I’m currently doing an undergraduate degree in the biological sciences), than expecting any real explanation.

  4. I’m resisting the joke with all my strength.

    Helen once more continues to be… Helen.

    Hmm, Ibott didn’t show? I can see him figuring this was unimportant to his situation.

      • A running gag from Dragonball Z Abridged is that an adult says something creepy to kid character Gohan, Gohan replies by stating that he needs and adult, and the adult makes a failed attempt to reassure Gohan by pointing out that they are an adult.

  5. Absolutely brilliant update! This whole chapter was perfect. The fights, the quips, the badges, showing us the bigwigs in charge of the budget. Ugh so good. The dialogue is just too good.

    I am particularly impressed with the scene where they convince the guard to let them through. Cunning along with that quintessential synergy of the group🙂

    I am also really glad Gordon brought up the potential of Mary betraying them. I was just thinking the same thing when he comes out with that Helen-stick.

    However, I checked with chapter 1.07 and at no point does Sy actually mention Ashton to Mary. In fact, he insinuates that he is part of the original six. So either he told her behind the scenes, or something is a little off.

    • “While I was still being questioned and tested on at the Academy, Sy told me that Evette and Ashton didn’t work out.”

      Sounds like he told her about those at the Academy. She isn’t going around believing that Evette will suddenly appear with a solution, at least.

  6. So this is the founding of the Secret Police?

    Also with Sys’ parameters, I can’t help but to think that to contain him, everyone needs to win all the time but Sy only needs to win once.

    • If the Lambs gradually become very effective as a group, I could see more groups like the Lambs

      I’m genuinely curious. We’ve seen the special projects, but all of the major ones (hangman, gorger, dog/catcher) seem to be one-offs. Surely this hugely limits the potential for each of these projects. Why can’t there be two Gorgers, one held in reserve. Same with dog and catcher. Unless the town is small enough that just one of each special project is needed to police the Academy/town, or the special projects are really expensive, or the projects have crown legal restrictions?

      • Or replicating previous work doesn’t get funding, and using the resources to make two without knowing it’ll work can kill your career if it goes wrong somehow.

        • Well, not exactly. Whiskers was going to get mass produced.
          I assume the “unique” special projects are unique because that way people are less prepared to deal with them, and they would have diminishing returns anyway. Also, while Conservation of Ninjutsu may not be used in-universe as an argument, it still works in a smaller way in people’s impressions: what do you fear more, the hunter who personally tracked down and killed all those who stepped out of line, or the obvious army of monsters?

          • It was stated that the university is primarily focused on innovation, so funding to redo work does not seem to be easy to get. Also, Gorger and the other are not so much spacial as they are “secret” (some of them bad kept secrets, but they are not “official”).
            The reasons why they remain a secret and are not mass produced may be political, they may be economical, they may be very profound (as in “has anybody seen the lab notes on the Gorger creation process?” “Oh those… we seem to have … misplaced them”)

            Also, maybe they tried to make a dozen Gorgers, but only one entity proved viable? In biological engineering, especially with the displayed tech level, sometimes boils down to luck.
            Luck can be counteracted with trial and error, but that gets back at the funding problem.

          • haihappen makes some good points. Other driving forces that may produce unique rather than mass-produced products are:
            —Deliberate secrecy. Part of preventing reverse-engineering is keeping the prototypes few and well-protected.
            —Academic rivalry. This includes secrecy but also includes competitive behavior that makes sure each project has unique properties that can be showcased, especially if the properties are better than those of someone else’s projects.
            —New fields of study. When a new field of study opens up, there tends to be a gold-rush mentality to stake as many new claims as possible.

          • Also, note how Dog, for example, is put together. His creation process wasn’t something that was planned then executed, but rather a process that eventually led to the product we see. Going through the same process, and repeating the same mistakes, would probably be horribly inefficient, but trying to avoid those mistakes and improve the process could easily lead to an entirely different result.

      • I feel like they are fundamentally more “mad scientists” than “engineers”. A project that replicates another project is a wasted opportunity! It gives you another Gorger, sure, but it doesn’t TEACH you anything. Instead of another Gorger, build something even better which uses the lessons you learned from the first one!

    • I don’t think that’s quite it: our Sylvester has too much of a dog-chasing-cars-because-zoomy-things feel to sustain anything he does. He really does need others to supply the pylons to ground his plans in.:/

      I think he really is trying to “win” for the group (any group will do, but he’s working with this one)… Which, despite his grumbles, may include Hayle and others in the Academy. But, it’s probably not a win shaped in any way they’d ever thank him for.😛

  7. I can’t help but think that Sy is a little resentful of Lillian. Every time she shows that she’s different from the experiments, he points it out. Every time she works with them, he calls it a fluke. At first I thought it was because she wasn’t part of the original group, but he wants to integrate Mary just fine, despite any mistakes she might make or history might have. Maybe Sy just resents Lillian for being “normal”. I also note that Briggs doesn’t include her as a real part of the Lambs either. That’s going to cause trouble later on.

    • Well she isn’t part of the lambs. She’s just essentially an intern thats providing them field-medic support on the job to cover her fees.
      If she had the funds, she wouldn’t be here. She can leave any time she wants. She can fail, give up, and insult almost anyone she wants without having her very existance threatened to end, not to mention not having a rapidly-approaching expiration date for herself and the team she spent her entire life around.

      She is an outsider and doesn’t belong as part of the lambs, and won’t ever be (in sy’s mind). They don’t have a fraction of the freedom she does, and if someone else offered her the same benifits to help with some project that she can share the credit in, there would be no reason to stay. The others don’t get that. They need to keep doing these things to survive, including killing others.

      Two quotes sum this up- “Kids who grew up with nothing but peace, and kids who grew up knowing nothing but war, will never truly see eye to eye, for their values are fundamentally different”
      And- “I kill people with this hand. I eat with this hand. There isn’t any difference. I do both these things… so that I can live”
      The latter sums up the lives of the lambs, and because of the former, Sy believes that she won’t ever understand that way of living, because she isn’t bound like that.

      Mary is a lot like them, which is the kinship that he feels resonating between them. Lil, not so much.

      • Nice write up and I agree with it completely. But personally, I think that she isn’t part of the lambs….. YET. Somewhere down the line, something is going to force her to throw her whole lot in with the Lambs.

        • I feel almsot the same way. Sy doesn’t agree currently, but I hope he will come around.

          The reason I say “almost”, is because the banner-picture at the top of the page for Twig gives me a smidgen of doubt.
          There are five sillouetted people/kids. What looks like (to me anyways) sy in the middle, gordon and hellen on the right, Jamie on the far left, and a hooded figure in between sy and jamie.
          Yes, this hooded figure has a bag/satchel thing, but at this point, it could be either Lillian or Mary. If it’s the latter- Lil’s time on the team might come to an end soon. If the former, well, who knows about mary.

          I’m hoping that it’s Lil, and that she will become a part of the group. We don’t see much of her, but I think she’s essential towards the team. Not just help completing missions and provinging intel/support, but essential to them becoming more human, developing as people, and gaining dreams and aspirations. I also hope she herself gets more fleshed out as a character- I know almost nothing about her other than she’s pretty damn normal for a genius child. She even makes lumpy pills like one would expect from a child (who knows how to make pills, anyways)

      • Ok,the first quote is from Donquihote Donflamingo from Eichiro Oda’s one piece….but where’s the second from?

        • Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~

          Another anime. Props for getting the first quote though, I forgot who was the one who actually said it

          • To be fair,One Piece is one of the 4 most mainstream manga/anime.

            And the best one imo,DBZ being good but the obvious alpha of shonen series,Naruto being just decent,and Bleach being…not that bad,but there are many worthier manga for that spot.

          • I pretty much agree, except for its time, DBZ was beyond amazing (I’m not counting GT because as far as I’m concerned, it never happened…. much like the myth of a third tobey maguire spiderman movie. Everyone knows there were only two…. silly people and their myths)
            True, but that quote wasn’t really a memorable one, even if one piece is pretty popular. Then again, I guess donflamingo is fairly quotable, almost everything he and shanks says are things I expect to see as motivational (or demotivational) posters at my work, haha

          • Not memorabe?his monologue takes half a chapter,and give the chapter its title (justice will prevail).

            And there are amazing alphas,they just tend to pale in front of the completed version.

          • Not his monologue, that specific sentence in his speech. It wasn’t really unique and didn’t stand out from the rest of what he was saying, but I thought it aligned to something I was working on when he said it, so it stuck in my memory.

            If that wasn’t the case, I doubt I would have remembered it if someone quoted it on a webserial much later

          • His whole monologue in that chapter is the more memorable quote of OP yet,in p[art because any of its sentences is extremely quotable on its own.Heck,this monologue might even be the ost quotable thing in all manga,since TTGL isn’t a manga .

          • Eh, Fairy Tail has some awesome quotes in my opinion. Especially guildarts.
            I think it would be a close race between FT and OP. But that’s just my opinion. I see what you mean about his epic monologue of epicness though.

            I wish TTGL was a manga, specifically one that revealed how the “possible future” (the one in the first two minutes of episode one, with a humanoid mole-pig and something called the transdimensional waterfall) could have happened…
            That possible future thing was like the biggest cocktease in anime-history.

  8. I am with hayle on this one- sometimes there are problems that you can’t force your way out of.

    However- I’m more of a “results” kind of person, so I can see why others aren’t on the same boat. The gorgers and hanged men of the world have gotten results, but these kids don’t have nearly as much to show.
    I just hope they prove soon how important they can be…

    • Uh, their last mission can be called a sort of success. While they didn’t manage to apprehend the target, they rooted him out, and defeated his minions while nabbing a new asset in the process.
      The mission before that was a clear success.

      • The result- school almost shut down, lots of eyes on the incident, promising students and staff to send new bright minds to the academy are now scared and might not return, the one responsible got away, and the one who almost killed literally everyone on the team, multiple times, is now part of the team.

        That might be considered a success, but not a win. It’s not evidence that there are some problems might can’t solve. Send dong and catcher and they might be able to sniff out the problem and take out the person.

        We know that this wouldn’t help, because the group he is now apart of have contingencies for those two, but if we assume that the director doesn’t know this, and is biased towards might-makes-right solutions, this won’t count as a win.

  9. “responsible for the existence of the Lambs, for Dog and Catcher, for the Hangman, Gorger, Foster, the Whelps and all the rest”

    More projects … Foster, a thing made out of australian beer?

  10. I’m hoping that “adult” is code for “let us team up with Dog and Catcher,” because I really enjoyed the respect and friendliness that the experiments had between each other.

  11. Reactions:

    It is good to see the Lambsbridge gang acting more like the kids they are. The fact that that behavior allows some additional exposition is quite nice.

    Sy and Gordon are inferring far more of Reverend Mauer’s plan than was really visible to the readers. Hopefully they are right; otherwise their pressuring of Briggs is going to backfire badly. Which is not saying it won’t backfire anyway, but if they prove to be right it might not backfire as badly.

    Briggs may be right to begin with – in the long term, Reverend Mauer looks like he will be a significant problem for the Academy. Flat-out killing him now might be the ‘best’ play.

    What is really, really interesting is the interactions of Hayle, Briggs, and Sy. Hayle is phrasing his orders to Sy as requests and Briggs is actually listening to what Sy says and responding to it. Two powerful men who ought to see Sy as an experiment to be evaluated and brought to heel if necessary are instead responding to him as a person with power and agency. This is a really uncommon attitude for people with their respective positions.

    “We need an adult.”
    Well, that’s going to change the dynamic quite a bit. I wonder how long it will take for the group to establish dominance over whoever gets assigned.

  12. Boy, the academy is lacking in terms of long term social planning. They figure they kill the Reverend, weather the riot, and all’s hunky dory? That’s the sort of thing that starts subsersive and revolutionary movements. What’s more when you have external enemies, plus a bunch of relitively recently annexed terriotories… Recipe for disaster.

    • The nerds are in charge, this is government by hard sciences professors. No shock that their response to rioters is more “Release the hounds” than “Reassure them that their children are safe”.

  13. Wait a sec… I’m starting to pick up some hints about something… I’ve noticed that it’s always “Evette and Ashton” — and somehow six plus two equals seven?

    I’m suspecting now that these two are a single project. Two minds, one body? One mind, two bodies? Two minds, two bodies, but engineered explicitly as a unit?

        • The guy doing the counting is likely to include the specifically hired (against his better judgement) scholarship student (total waste). Lillian is not in a happy position: to many overseeing the project, she’s very likely lumped in with it thanks to both her age and on-the-ground association. To the Lambs, she still isn’t one of them, because she’s an unaltered medical overseer.😐

          • Uh, no. 6 disappointments = Gordon, Sy, Helen, Jamie, Evette, Ashton. Mary is the 7th. Briggs does not count Lilian I think as she’s not a project.

    • Which one? We all know he’s going to crash the first, and one of sy’s scheme’s are going to cause the destruction or sale of the second….

      Oh lord- adult Sy. Scary thought….

  14. I especially like how Sy’s social techniques aren’t an exact science, and even when he’s lofting a ball for one of his teammates to spike, the successful hit often isn’t the one that he intended. In a way, this shows him as more adept than the more common, easier portrayal of a “master of manipulation” who controls others’ actions with precision.

  15. I find it interesting that Briggs dismisses the usefulness of espionage/covert-op constructs when his entire power base is fundamentally derived from information control.

    • There too focused on the obvious weapons. To put it in military terms they’d love battleships and huge tanks and nukes. But they’d consider it wasteful to make better communication gear and radar.

    • You’d be surprised how long it took military forces to acknoledge the importance of information and sabatauge.
      Hell, even though ninjas were arguably more useful than samurai more often than not, feudal lords still valued the obvious power-tool-esque samurai more, and the common populouce thought ninjas were dishonorable and just outcasted samurai.

      The fact it’s 1921 might have something to do with it….

  16. Interesting chapter, the interaction with the group is interesting, as well as the view the Academy has on anything that isn’t immediately viable as a weapon. I find it interesting that all Academic research seems to be weapon based, which is odd for a society that seems to have a Crown that is as powerful as it is. Are there other countries they are at war against, or are the weapons meant to suppress insurrection?

    • If this is supposed to be around 1925, there are several things that seem to be missing. No telephones (Sy had a quarter and a pay phone, Percy would not have escaped) no radio, no mass transit. Stuff that had a lot of practical everyday applications.

  17. So anyone else think Hayle could have done better in answering if the Lambs were multiplying?
    “I should hope so. If they can’t do multiplication yet at their age then our schools are woefully inadiquate.”
    “I meant are they reproducing”
    “Not yet. Perhaps in a few years.”

  18. Somehow, I get the feeling Sy is accidentally encouraging the Academy leadership to cover this up with extreme prejudice. People can’t leak secrets if they’re dead, after all. Of course, the only unifying trait of people who might leak them is that they’re in the city, but that still leaves a nice, simple way to get all of them.

  19. “This keeps getting worse.”
    Gordon, stop reading Swarm Queen novels on duty.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how much farther out of control this gets. I could easily see it getting to Academy-endangering levels before the arc’s out…that escalated quickly.

  20. It’s not the Lambs that need an adult; it’s that last guy they let Helen get her hands on.

    “Show on the doll where the bad little girl monster touched you.”

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