Stitch in Time – 4.1

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The stitched servant helped lift our bags out from the side of the train.  Mine had been the last one in, so it was the first one out.  Once I had it, wheels digging tracks into the thin layer of snow, I turned to survey the area.

Storybook.  Best label to apply to it all.  Things were quaint, but in a very controlled, calculated way.  The colors of the houses, the pleasant aesthetic, and the winding streets, many cobblestone with the beginnings of ruts carved into them, all planned and rigidly enforced.

It was fascinating.  The houses were like cabins, but the exteriors were well looked after, white, gray, or blue in color, and almost every single one had smoke coming out of the chimney.  The streets were gray cobblestone and lighter gray slabs of concrete, covered in white snow and the black grime the wagons and carriages had dredged up.  For every man, there were five women, aged eighteen to thirty, and of those five women, four had monsters with them.  Academy creations.

The subtle hideousness of Kensford was clearer as I looked at the trees and plants.  In the early winter, there were trees and shrubs bristling with leaves, all a blood crimson in color, the leaves barely visible under the snow that had piled several feet high on each bough, or the ice that clung to branches.

There were also meat trees, in the natural-growing-meat sense and the ‘gibbets and meathook’ sense.  Not too unusual, except they were ubiquitous.

The end result was, in the end, storybook.  A town that embraced the old fashioned.  But so many people romanticized history, and forgot how very bloody it was.  The city smelled like smoke and crematoriums, and it made me feel like I was about to venture into a world where every house was a gingerbread house in disguise, and every pretty young woman was really a witch, ready to thrust unwitting children into ovens.

The other Lambs, now hauling their luggage, joined me, the six of us forming a loose line, looking at the town of Kensford.  The only building that was taller than one story was the local Academy.  Though all things in Kensford centered around Dame Cicely’s in a symbolic sense, it sat at the back, bordered on two sides by thick forest, a Victorian-style building grown like a tumor might be, asymmetrical, with the odd bit here and there.  A tree had been literally grown from one side, closer to the forest, framing it all in a trimmed crescent of red leaves.

“So pretty!” Helen exclaimed.

“Did you ever want to come here?” Gordon asked.  He was asking Lillian.

“Oh…” Lillian said, sounding surprised at the question.  “No.  You need to be at least eighteen, I think.”

“But if you were?  Or when you are?”

Gosh.  I’d be terrified.”

“Strict?” I asked.

“Yes, but that’s not why,” she said.  She looked around, and stepped closer to Gordon as a pair of young women walked on, a stitched in fine clothes hauling their luggage.  She lowered her voice and confided, “It’s so cutthroat.”

“A lot of Academies are,” I said.

“I don’t hear stories about other places like I hear stories about Dame Cicely’s Academy,” Lillian said.  “They intentionally fail out a certain percentage of each class, to cull and ensure they’re the best, or close to, because there’s Lady Eleanor’s-”

She drew quiet as more young ladies walked by, departing from the train.

“You scared of them?” I taunted her.

“I don’t want to say something that would stir up any rivalries,” she said.  “What was I saying?”

“You don’t hear stories about other places like you hear stories about here,” Jamie said.  “They intentionally fail a certain percentage of each class, to cull and-”

“Okay,” Lillian said, a little flustered.  “Okay.  Yes.  Thank you, Jamie.”

I caught the twinkle in Jamie’s eye and elbowed him.  He elbowed me back.

We continued back and forth like that as Lillian continued talking, “Most women who go to the Academies, they need permission and money from their parents, and from what I’ve seen and from what I’ve heard, most have to fight to hold on to their place.  If they mess up once, one year of bad gradings or lack of advancement, it’s done, it’s over.  Mom and dad cut off the funding and order you back home.  Then they introduce you to a nice fellow to marry, and that’s your life.”

“A lot of people with guillotine blades hanging over their necks,” Gordon remarked.

“It gets worse,” Lillian said.  “Put the two things together-”

I finished the statement, “-And you have a lot of classmates who know their peers are dancing on a razor’s edge.  Just a tiny bit of sabotage or cleverness, and there’s one less competitor for the remaining seats.”

Lillian nodded.  “Exactly.”

“I never liked the idea of working in a stuffy lab all day,” Mary said.  “I understand why people would, with it being the fastest path to greatness, but it didn’t feel like it was for me.”

“You like the idea of this?” I asked.

She smiled, “So much.”

“It’s nicer than the last few stops,” Gordon said, looking around.  “I felt itchy after we slept at the last guest house.  I’m still not convinced I don’t have something crawling on me.”

“Let’s not gripe,” I said.  “Please.  New place, fresh start.  It’s too easy to fall into old patterns.”

There were a few nods at that.

“Post office, then we find out where we’re sleeping,” Jamie said.

That was our cue to advance.  We carefully made our way through the crowd, weaving between the people who were walking and the clusters of people who had gathered in groups, talking.

None of the young ladies wore lab coats or uniforms.  Rather, the monsters in their company were their emblems and badges, fashion accessories crafted of meat and grey matter.  The better the work, the better the student.

Snow dusted us, drifting down in light amounts.  There was no rain here.  I was idly curious what the mechanism was for keeping the local experiments in line.

Perhaps the young ladies of Dame Cicely’s were managed carefully enough that there was no cause to worry about the experiments running off or causing trouble.

Jamie elbowed me for the hundredth time, but this one was to get my attention.  He’d done the same to Helen, who’d gotten Gordon’s attention.

I followed Jamie’s line of sight.  One of the houses had a set of stairs, and something dark moved in the space beneath the stairs.

“What?” I asked.

“Whelps are here.”

“Oh, that’s fun,” I remarked.  “Let’s hope they leave her intact enough for us to ask questions.”

“I’d rather hope we find her first,” Mary said.

Ah, crap.  For the second time in four minutes or so, we were stumbling on the same point.  We weren’t finding many leads, and to date, we’d only been able to arrive on the days after our quarry had disappeared to places unknown.  Half of the clues to her destination had been our finds, and the other half had been due to the work of others.  Dog and Catcher, Hangman, or a tip from someone who’d seen one of the wanted posters and recognized her face.

It was wearing thin, and some of us were wrestling with frustration.  There had been spats.

Rather than agree or disagree, I reached out and took Mary’s hand.

Then, in a majestically subtle manner, I declared, “This has been so damn fun.”

“Fun?” she said.

“You’re grumpy,” I noted.


“Do you remember how much the interviews in the Bowels sucked?  This is the opposite of that, which means this is the furthest thing from suckage!  It’s the best thing ever to get out and away,” I said.

“We’re chasing that bit of fluff that dances away from your hand as you reach for it,” she said, immune to my enthusiasm.  “Tell a dog to jump for the stick, and it will.  The dog might really want that stick, but if you pull the stick away every time, the dog learns.  I’d really like to think I’m better than a dog on that front.”

“Huh,” I said.  “Fair, but didn’t expect to hear anything like that.  Where did it come from?”

“Percy.  He gave me lessons in training others.  I thought he meant dogs at first.  Then I thought he meant training my subordinates, when he’d created dozens upon dozens of clones.  I only later realized it was how he trained me.  He let me have my stick just often enough.”

Not the first time Mary’s mentioned Percy in recent days and weeks, I thought.

I didn’t bring it to anyone’s attention.  Instead, I commented, “Sometimes, when you’re chasing that bit of fluff, you have to hold out your hand and be patient.  Let it settle in on its own.”

“Mm hmm,” Mary murmured.  I suspected that she’d gotten the thrust of what I was trying to do, which was changing the course of the conversation.  She played along, looking around, “This place is neat.”

One and a half seconds after she said that, we passed a carriage, and Mary came face to face with a large, humanoid monster, built like an angel with wings of flesh, chest thrust out by a matter of design, chin high so that it looked down on everything around it.  It was naked, and its limp member dangled right at Mary’s eye level, bigger around than my leg and as hairless as a baby’s.

I heard a slight ‘eep‘ from Mary, which punched right past the latent tension and wonderings on my part and made me burst out into hysterical giggling.

The entire group soon followed, Mary included, tittering and laughing, the tension flowing away.

“You think so, Mary?” Gordon asked, “Neat?”

There were more giggles from the group.

“For shame, all of you,” Helen said, putting her hands on her hips.  “Laughing at that.  Imagine the poor woman who made that thing.  She must have been so lonely!”

The giggles became outright laughter.

Perfect.  Good.

This was the sort of thing we needed.

Helen politely asked a passerby for the location of the nearest post office, and we went on our way.

The street might have been a fifty-fifty split of residences and small businesses, but as we reached the center of it all, we found that virtually every building touching on the main street served some purpose.  including grocer’s stores that were no more than four paces by five paces across in size and a banking office just a little under twice that size.

Further down the way was the small post office.  We filed in.

Helen approached the counter.  “Hello sir.”

The polite young lady routine.

“Good morning, darling,” the man at the counter greeted her.  “What can I do for you?”

“We have a package?  It’s addressed Lambsbridge, it should have arrived here a few days ahead of us.”

The man at the counter found it quickly enough.  He placed the box on the counter.  “Stamp?”

Without looking or saying a word, Helen put her hand back.  Gordon passed her the stamp.  She uncapped it and put the mark on the top of the box, inside the circle.

The man at the counter squinted, examining the mark Helen had just made with the one that the sender had put on it, then gave us a curt nod.  “There you go.”

“You don’t have a line, I was hoping we could ask some questions, please?” Helen asked.

“You most certainly can.  I’d be happy to answer them.”

“Which direction to the, um…”

“Dormitories three hundred through three-fifty?” Jamie asked.

“Up the main street, turn right at the stitchworks.”

“Thank you,” she said, smiling.  “About the package, you didn’t have anyone come in here and ask about it?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Or about children?”

“No,” the man said, a small crease appearing between his eyebrows.

“You haven’t seen a woman, twenty or so, with black hair?  She would have had a head with her, or a monster with a head that didn’t match the body?  Also black-haired, with bright blue eyes?”

The man puffed out his cheeks, letting out a breath.  “I see someone like that every day.”

Every single one of us was suddenly at attention.

“You’ve seen her?” Gordon jumped in.

“Ah, no,” the man said.


“I mean, I see different young ladies who fit that general description on a regular basis,” the man said.  “Pretty young ladies, many with black hair, and many with experiments in their company.  Those experiments range from big to small, fat to thin, and they have heads and eyes of all type.”

“Wait,” Gordon said.  “Lillian, do you have it?  The poster?”

Lillian fished inside her bag.  She found a square of paper and unfolded it.

“She looks like this,” Gordon said.

The man slowly shook his head.  “Attractive young lady, but I couldn’t say.  The customers become a blur, unless I get to know their names.  This is the one you’re looking for?”

“Very similar,” Gordon said.  “Not the same person.”

The man frowned.  “I can’t say.”

“I see,” Helen said, slumping a bit.  She perked up all at once, “Thank you, sir!”

“You’re welcome.  If you’re looking for someone, I could keep an eye out, especially now that I’ve seen the picture.  Does that help?”

“Actually…” I said, pausing strategically.


“We’re concerned that someone is keeping a look out for us.  We’re trying to surprise them, you see?”

The furrow in between his eyebrows was now as deep as it could get.

“Surprise party,” I told him.  “She’s rich as all-get-out, she’s from a powerful family, and it’s really hard to make a party something special for her.  So if she asks if you’ve seen us, could you keep quiet on that?  The surprise part is the only part that matters.”

“Ahh.  I think I understand,” the man said.  “I can stay quiet, don’t you worry.  Where are you all from?”

That he asked was something of an irony.  The less we told him, the better.  The moment Ms. Fray realized we were on her trail –if she was even here-, she would be in the wind.

“Outskirts of West York,” Gordon improvised, clearly thinking the same thing I was.

“Ah?  Ways away then.  What brings you here?”

The word escaped my mouth before I thought to say different.


I didn’t miss the glances that were shot my way.  Only Jamie didn’t.  His focus was elsewhere.

“Um,” Jamie said, waiting until he had eye contact with the man before continuing, “If it looks like the surprise party won’t happen, you can tell her whatever.”

“If it won’t happen?  You mean, if she finds out some other way?”

“You’ll know what I mean if it comes down to it,” Jamie said.  I gave him a curious look.

“Uh huh,” the man said, dragging out the sound, slowly processing it.

Someone came into the post office behind us, and Helen took that as a cue.  She waved, a little too dramatically, in a way that suited a smaller child.  “Goodbye, sir.  Thank you for everything!”

She was so good at becoming every adult’s favorite girl, so very quickly.  The man gave a little wave back.

We stepped back out onto the street, and I fixed my cap and scarf, hunching against the cold.

“She could be hiding in plain sight,” Gordon said.  “The man’s right.  She’s a needle, and this is a haystack.  It’s the perfect place for her to hide, maybe even lose our trail for good.”

“No leads,” Mary said.  “Just like yesterday, and the day before.”

I reached out and held her mittened hand with my gloved one, giving it a squeeze.

“What was that about, Jamie?” Gordon asked.

He cares too much.

“What was what?” Jamie asked.

“If the surprise party is spoiled?”

“It should make sense if Fray comes for him.  She’s left a few bodies in her wake, and we’ve found reasons for most of them, but if she comes after him, looking for any details on us,  I don’t want him upsetting her.”

“I’d rather have her upset and ignorant than the other way around,” Gordon said.

“So would I,” Jamie said.  “But if it came down to him getting hurt for nothing, I’d rather he talk.”

Gordon shook his head.

It was ironic.  All Ms. Fray had to really do to maximize the damage she did to us was to keep doing what she was doing and play keep away.

We’d spent months in the Bowels, with only Sub Rosa to deal with at the tail end of it, and that had been less of a team effort than the vast majority of our jobs.  Weeks on weeks of dreadfully dull interviews and interrogations, with little to show for it.

Now we were on the verge of another few months of something fruitless.  Chasing a woman who forever remained at least one step ahead of us.

There were countless factors playing into it all, but at the very core of it, we were entering into the dangerous years.  Important years for anyone, when boys became men and girls became women, but more important for us.

These were the years when we would be coming into our own.  We’d be forging our identities and adapting our fit in the group.

We were losing our edge, without opposition to keep us sharp, and without a practical test of our abilities, we couldn’t find a new configuration that made up for all the little changes.  It made for uncomfortable fits, little bits of bickering.

I’d hated the interviews in the Bowels, and as much as I was liked the chance to explore and stretch my legs, I didn’t think this was as constructive as what we collectively needed.

Mary was right.  We needed to sink our teeth into the stick, not to chase it endlessly.

The thought crossed my mind: If we don’t find an opportunity soon, I might well have to create a problem for the group to solve.  Even if it gets me into untold trouble.

At least this place seemed good for that.  A pressure cooker of an Academy, stocked with cutthroat young ladies.

I heard rattling, and saw Helen working to open the box, cutting at tape with a fingernail.

“We’re almost there,” Jamie remarked.

“I know,” Helen said.  “The box feels light.”

My heart sank at the same moment Mary breathed the words, “Don’t say that.”

Helen reached into the box and withdrew a small jar of pills.  They were purple, and they numbered-

“Fifteen, at a glance,” Jamie said.

Three days.

Gordon reached into the box, as Helen’s hands were full, and withdrew a folded letter.

“They want us back soon, so we can have our appointments,” Gordon said.  “It’s going to take us a day and a half to travel back to Radham.  Three pills each…”

Mary kicked a clump of ice that had fallen from a carriage, making it explode into icicles and shards.  Heads turned.  Mary crushed one of my hands in hers, her other hand clenched, a grim look on her face.

“Try to keep a low profile,” Jamie said.

I put my hand out to stop him.

“They’re giving up on us,” Mary said.

“They have enough faith in us to let us stay another day or two, follow up leads,” Jamie said.

“Yeah,” Mary said.  “And they sent the Whelps, and Dog and Catcher, and the Hangman.  And we know Catcher and the Hangman got closer to her than we did.”

“It’s not a competition,” Lillian said.  “What’s important is stopping her from hurting people.”

“Yeah,” Jamie said.

“I don’t think Mary’s saying that isn’t important,” I said.

“I’m not.”

“But it’s true,” I said.  “We’re chasing a ghost.  She’s smart.  It sucks.  We did so well on the last couple of jobs, proving the Lambs were worth something, now it feels like we’re backtracking.”

Mary nodded.  Jamie did too.

Rift mended, if just a little.

We turned onto a side street, at Jamie’s instruction.  The buildings here were a little more uniform.  It was possible that most of the quaint little cottage-houses were individual dormitory spaces, the rest occupied by people who supported the Academy town, like the postman, but these buildings lacked character.

“Look at this like an opportunity,” I said.  “This is a good thing.”

“Good?” Mary asked.

We quickly reached the dormitory where we were supposed to be staying, and we stopped as a group in front of the wrought-wood gate, taking shelter from the snowflakes under the canopy of a large evergreen with chains dangling from it.

In the summertime, the chains would have certain meats hung from them.  Those treated meats would keep the pest and vermin populations down in a city where the gutters and sewers might literally run red with bodily fluids during exam time.

They did in Radham, it wasn’t unbelievable for it to happen here.

“This is good because it forces our hand.  I don’t think any of us are going to relax or take shortcuts in the next twenty-four hours.”

“If you think I’m taking shortcuts-” Mary started.  I raised a hand.

“I know you don’t,” I said.  “Not really.  None of us do, exactly, but yeah.  Not what I meant.  It’s less about shortcuts, and more that we all get tired.  We get tired from different things and we get tired in different ways.  In a crisis, I know we pull ourselves together and give our all… but in a slog like this?  Every day, at least one of us isn’t at our best.”

There were a few nods.  Few would argue they were flawless.

“This is good because it’s a crisis,” I said.  “We can’t move on to another city, unless we have a damn good lead, so we focus our attention here.  It makes sense that she’s enjoying being the needle in the haystack, which gives us every reason to think she’s left the city, but that I’m even thinking that means she’s probably second guessed it.  I can usually play this game well, guess what people are doing when they aren’t even sure, but she plays it too.  Let’s use this opportunity to catch her off guard, do something she wasn’t necessarily expecting.  Change our approach.  One and a half days of the absolute best work we can do.”

“That sounds like a plan,” Gordon said.  “I think we should split up.  We operate in different ways, and we can cover more ground in different ways.”


We need to bind the group together, find the right configuration!

And splitting up is always a bad idea!

Except I felt like saying that much aloud might ruin it.  If people were self conscious, or the fractures in the group became conscious and significant rather than subconscious and minor…

Jamie glanced at me.  The glance was an ask.  He wanted to know what I thought.

“Sure,” I said.  Then, as a subtle bit of manipulation, I added, “We go out in pairs.  We spend a duration doing our thing, then meet up, report in even if there’s nothing to report, touch base.”

Gordon nodded.  “Sy, with me?  Jamie and Mary together.  Helen and Lillian.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because it makes sense,” he said, simply.

I frowned at him.  “That’s the worst answer you could’ve given.”

“If I give you more information, that’s slack you’ll use to hang me,” he said.

“Well yeah.”

“Come on,” he said.  He reached into Helen’s box and found a key, opened the door, and then dropped his luggage just inside.  He reached out for Jamie’s.  “If you can’t stand my company, we can rearrange things after our first meeting.  In one hour?  Here.”

There were nods.

I waited with him while he got everyone’s luggage organized inside and locked the door.  The others were already fanning out, heading in different directions.

“Why, really?” I asked, now that everyone was gone.

“The group is splintering,” he said.

“Yeah.  Not a lot, but-”

“It’s splintering,” he said.  “It can be fixed, but I think it’s best fixed at the ground level, the core.”

“Sure,” I said.

“Remember when it was just you, me, Jamie, and sometimes Helen?”

Two years ago.


“Let’s get back to basics.  You and I.  Like in the old days.”

I raised an eyebrow.  “You have something in mind?”

“Let’s go recruiting,” he said.

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49 thoughts on “Stitch in Time – 4.1

    • > It was ironic. All Sub Rosa had to really do to maximize the damage she did to us was to keep doing what she was doing and play keep away.

      Pretty sure that that’s meant to say Genevieve, or Ms. Fray, or whatever name they’re using for her, not Sub Rosa.

    • “thing ever to get out and away,” I said.”
      I said is italizied.

      “It was ironic. All Sub Rosa had to really do to maximize the damage she did to us was to keep doing what she was doing and play keep away.”

      I feel like this is referencing Fray and not Sub Rosa?

    • many cobblestone
      -many cobblestones, I think?

      purpose. including grocer’s
      Should be a comma, or maybe a new sentence?

      • “Huh,” I said. “Fair, but didn’t expect to hear anything like that. Where did it come from?”
        -but I

        I heard rattling, and saw Helen working to open the box, cutting at tape with a fingernail.
        -the tape

    • many cobblestone –> many ‘a’ cobblestone

      as much as I was liked the chance –> ‘I liked’ or ‘I was liking’, but I think ‘l liked’ fits better

  1. I’m excited to see more of Gordon. Sy has been dropping hints of info about Gordon’s actual personality, but we haven’t seen a huge amount of him in the spotlight recently.

  2. So Mary needs the pills to? I didn’t expect that. I would have assumed Percy wouldn’t bother with Academy safety measures.

    • She was in Radham, the chemicals in the pills were in the constant rain and the water supply. Mary, like any human, needs to drink sometime, if only to keep up appearances. Even if she didn’t, the rain fell on her like anyone else in the city. Given time, they’d be “hooked” on whatever it is just like everyone else. Ergo, she needs the pills.

      • That doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t think Radham’s population is yet so complacent that they’d accept getting a dependency-inducing chemical in their drinking water. I also feel like, if it was just a matter of getting hooked, Lillian (who I tentatively assume is the one not on the pill) would be hooked as well – she’s spent more time in Radham water than Mary, who probably spent most of her years hidden away.

        I also don’t feel like Percy also wouldn’t knowing instill a reliance on Academy controlled chemicals in Mary. Far more likely is that the Academy patched it into her system after folding her into the Lambs.

        • What you don’t at first know about, could become a fait accompli later.😛 If the local Academy just went ahead and did it under the label of “public health” (and, if it actually does have some benefit to shake under noses), by the time you realise you’re chained to the city or town around it, it’s a little late. If you even do realise.:/

          • Warren. Warren had been at University *away* from Radham.

            Either the tablets are readily available (at which point they don’t leash a good monster), or they apply only to the monsters.

            If they apply only to the monsters, then it explains Sy musing about how this town keeps it’s monsters in check if they don’t use Radham’s method of a chemical agent in the water and rain.

            Mary may have had the dependance introduced as a condition of her becoming a Lamb, or the method by which vat-generated beings are grown leaves them deficient in a substance that’s covered by Radham’s water/purple pills

          • That still leaves those who become stitched chained. Warren happens to be with somebody good enough to almost qualify as a professor… and, sly enough to beat her little bro to the punch. You want to bet the first thing she did when giving him a body back was to get rid of the problem?

            And, Warren, the Lambs, Dog, Catcher, Sub Rosa, et al prove that stiched aren’t without memory, desires, personality and other parts of being human (even if rather shattered in many): what they are without are rights, recognition and agency.😦 They’re still people… if fifteen broken, angry and victimised ones. -_-

          • I’m still a bit unsure why they introduced a killswitch and then set the counter-agent to be readily available throughout the city. I mean, it keeps them from fleeing the city, but cities are known for being large.

        • I’m not sure how Percy would be able to escape that measure, without totally blowing their cover as normal human beings.

    • Well, I would guess that however the chemical dependency is established, Hayle used the process on her to put her on a leash. Which is sensible, because Mary is established as the killiest of killy kids. You don’t want her running loose.

  3. Super excited for Boys Night Out and Sy’s eventual meeting with his little sis. My guess is that she either sets one of the students, one of their projects, or the Bodiless Horseman after the group when they meet up, trying to find out which one is Wyvern.

  4. It occurs to me that Fray may be one of the few people both able and potentially willing to extend the Lambs’ expiration dates. If there’s a biological component to it, she’s probably smart enough to reverse it, along with the chemical dependency they’re taking the pills for.

    On the subject of pills, I feel like they’re are a stark reminder of the Academy’s dim stance on the Lambs and experiments in general. It’s a pretty heavy-handed way of dealing with people you’re concerned might dislike your institution enough to defect – so heavy-handed I would call it a misstep, if the alternative option wasn’t letting dangerous things run wild without a leash.

    • Consider the mindset an Apartheid or Confederate one: control, stability, order… and the right sort of person (in this case, scientists of the “proper”” families and schools) directing it all “for everybody’s overall good” and all the pretty little lies you can find about how it’s best for the “ignorant, backward masses, poor things” — after all: imagine the mess they’d make of things! -_-

      We are not dealing with a democracy or anything like a proper meritocracy, here. This is Jim Crow, chemistry-style.😐

  5. I wonder how poverty works in this society. We have meat and presumably vegetable and fruit growing in abundance on command on trees. Do people still starve?

    I have this idea that livestock is now used almost entirely as raw materials for the academy.

    I love this girl’s school. I think this series would be wonderful as a comic. The settings are begging to be drawn with dark ink and watercolors. Stephen gammel style.

      • Sure: officially, you stick with criminals, traitors and other rule breakers. However, given Sub Rosa… that can be rather a loose description, if/when needed. And, well… sometimes, paperwork might just get a little fudged when the usual sources aren’t delivering the quality (or quantity) you need — or a boat-rocker needs to be got rid of under the table.:/

        • And let’s keep in mind that intentionally or not, the Academy promotes people to carry experiments on their own. That’s what Snake Charmer did, and he was tried for snatching up people from the streets, if memory serves right. So, again, no official endorsement (condemnation rather), but everyone keeps saying that’s what the system is set up to do.

  6. “Yes, but that’s not why,” she said. She looked around, and stepped closer to Gordon as a pair of young women walked on, a stitched in fine clothes hauling their luggage. She lowered her voice and confided, “It’s so cutthroat.”
    -Lillian is opening up. Time was, she would not be caught dead admitting weakness in front of Sy.

  7. So two boys, on the cusp of manhood, alone together. What will they talk about? Okay, work, but still it’d be funny if it was girls, or shopping or something.

    So “recruiting”. Sounds to me like they’ll be gathering intel and help from the local urchins maybe?

    Now about the groups. Interesting that the most action oriented (Mary) and the least action oriented (Jamie) got paired. Lillian and Helen should work okay, since Helen acts so well. Though it’ll be really interesting to see how those two will deal with it if they run into trouble.

    I was kinda hoping the lost lamb would have been reactivated by now, but apparently not yet.

    • It would take about a year, if I remember correctly. Sub Rosa took only about three or four months, and this was another three-ish. So probably another timeskip after this arc until we see the lost lamb.
      I’m curious how old said lamb would be….

  8. …Huh.

    There doesn’t seem to be a lot of communication between different Academies. Instead of talking to the other Academy, Radham went and dumped the Welps in Dame Cicley’s territory without any apparent talking on the part of either party. Gene doesn’t seem worried about having to deal with experiments from other Academies, and it sounds like they haven’t encountered any of those experiments, either.

    Maybe they don’t talk a lot because they’re competing with each other?

    • They probably do communicate, since they have lodging and such sorted out, plus no authorities are trying to pry into dog/catcher or trying to clean up the whelps.

      If I had to guess, I’d say that this academy is smaller and less weapon-heavy than Radham. Radham has an assortment of weapons at beck-and-call, and several “in case of emergency” ones, and at least one super-weapon. This one doesn’t seem that equiped, and considering the experiments we do see accompanying the female students, I’m guessing this school specializes less in walking WMDs and monster-assassins that make other monsters worry (everyone seems afraid of hanging man, for some reason), and more in things like human enhancements, poisons, riot-control, and the like.
      For instance, radham has stitched that a huge, bulking slaves and seeing a giant four-legged spider-like thingy on the road (from the first arc, right before we first see the orphanage) is perfectly normal, even though it looks like it could kill everyone on the street twice. The overall feel of the city seems more masculine and hulk-ish, with an enphasis on big destructive things.

      Here, things seem more… well, more sy-like (or mary-like). Scheming, clever, and unnoticeably deadly. Plus, women are more likely to use poison and other such indirect means to kill.

      So, this academy allows radham’s weapons to hunt the threat to the crown, gives said weapons room and board, and allows the big-bad-hunting-monsters do what they came to do, and proceeds to not give a fuck. Pretty much the city-personification of my sister

      • “Kill everyone on the street twice”. Yup. A second time after they are all made into stitched.

        To add to what you are saying, the Academies probably don’t want their traitors and monsters to be dealt with by other Academies, lest they learn something they aren’t meant to. So as long as a rogue element isn’t a threat to the city, they probably let the other Academy handle it its own way.

    • “Mary came face to face “, not eye to eye, which can mean anything from being at eye-level to each other or just directly in front of each other and almost touching.
      My bet is on the later, since sy describes the monster as being very tall, but not saying anything about it being hunched or bent over which would put its face at eye-level to someone of Mary’s size.

      Plus… she WAS technically “eye to eye”, if you think of the phrase “one-eye-winking”
      (euphemism for penis)

  9. I liked what Gordon did this chapter. Whether it was a good idea or not is left to be seen, but Gordon shaked things up a bit for Sy.

    Sy was worried that the group was going to start falling into old patterns, and Sy felt as though they needed something to hone them. Well, Gordon shaked things up a bit for Sy, making the group work in a different pattern than what he’d have had suggested, and keeping Sy on his toes.

    Meet trees. Where can I get a couple❤

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