Bleeding Edge – 8.1

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A carriage passed us, the wheels cutting through the golden leaves that had collected at the street’s edge.  The man atop the carriage looked down at us and tipped his hat, smiling.


I watched as the carriage continued down the long, well-maintained road.  The properties on either side were well spaced out, each one less than a proper manor, but more than a mere home.   Walls both short and tall surrounded each.  Stitched in servants’ uniforms were busy raking up leaves and pruning some peculiar trees with charcoal black bark and autumn-yellow foliage.  I wondered if the grass was a similar type of affectation, because it wasn’t green, but a color comparable to wheat.

Peaceful, idyllic, every scene an image from a painting, juxtaposed by the contents of the carriage – a large cage with a dozen people and one monster crammed within.  A young child gripped the bars with both hands, staring back at me as the beaked monster peered over her shoulder.

She let go of the bar, reaching out in my direction.

I lifted my hand, as if to take her hand, but she was already ten feet away, the gap growing.

I’d pulled ahead of the others, so I turned and started walking backward, looking at the Lambs.

Our contingent of Lambs were dressed up.  It wasn’t a huge change for Jamie, who wore a shirt with a straight, stiff-necked collar, a jacket, and slacks, but Gordon had really come into his own with the finer clothes, dressing up in very much the same, but without the jacket.  His shirt was tucked in, and a stylized belt buckle drew the eye.  Even Hubris was groomed, his short coat brushed until there wasn’t a stray hair.

Lillian, though, had gone the extra mile, with a new dress, navy blue and pleated with a folded collar and a coat stylized after the doctor’s lab coats, new, fashionable, and nice enough that it could be worn in high society.  She had a daub of makeup on her lips and the ends of her hair were curled outward and up.

It wasn’t her.  She was prettier than I’d ever seen her, unless I counted some mental images of her in a nightgown, lit in just the right way by the light from the window, but I found myself itching to mess up her hair or clothes.  I didn’t want to see her upset, but surprised would be nice.  Smiling would be better.

I wasn’t sure how to reconcile the feeling or how to make it happen.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing,” I said.

“You had a look in your eye.”

“Lies,” I said.

“You did,” Gordon said.

“Can confirm,” Jamie said.  “Perfect recall.  In prior moments when you’ve had that look, you’ve been up to mischief.”

“Okay, okay!” I said.  I turned around, taking exaggerated steps to the left and then the right, before letting myself crash into Lillian’s shoulder.  “Minor mischief.”

Lillian looked at me out of the corner of one eye, wary and getting warier by the second.

“You look nice,” I said.

“You said as much, just ten minutes ago, when you saw me come through the door,” Lillian said.  “Are you saying it again because you want to distract me from what you were really saying or thinking?”

“So paranoid!” I admonished her.

“Is that a yes?”

“It’s a partial yes.  The two ideas are linked.”

I watched her turn her eyes forward, picking her way through the possibilities.

No blush, but I could see the change in her expression as she connected the dots.

“Be good,” she said, suppressing a smile.

“Never,” I said, reaching down to take her hand.  I squeezed.

“I’m serious,” she said.  She didn’t pull her hand away.  “This is really important to me.  If you play around or mess up here, then I’m going to be really upset.”

I swung our hands back and forth.

“I know you want to, Sy.  I know how your brain works, as much as anyone can.  These people are as important as people can be, without having the power to cancel the Lambs project or call in favors to end us.  They are probably the most important and powerful people you can get away with practicing your own Sylvester brand of villainy on, without repercussion.”

I started swinging with more and more vigor.

“Now it sounds like you’re trying to convince me to do something.”

“No!” Lillian said, her voice suddenly sharp.  She pulled her hand away from mine, letting mine flop to my side, while stabbing a fingernail at my throat.  It had been artificially grown or else glued on.  Lillian didn’t normally have longer nails.  Sharp.  “No joking.  No turning around thirty minutes from now and saying I convinced you to do it, no nonsense at all, Sy.”

The more serious and stern she got with me, the more I wanted to do something.  Seeing her all prettied up just made me want to tease her more.

I could kiss her and make her melt, and smudge that makeup that made her look less like our Lillian and more like someone else’s Lillian.

It was a nice mental image.

“Yes ma’am,” I said.  I smiled, but it might have looked more like a smirk.

Jamie turned to Gordon, pointing at his own eye, “Mischievous glimmer, right?”

“I saw it,” Gordon said, expression flat.

Lillian took that as excuse to stab my jugular with her fingernail again.  “Be good, Sy.  I want this.  One day, I’m going to have to choose what I do with everything I’m studying.  Professor Ibott wants to attend the nobles and have the most power a non-noble can have.  I asked for this job, we didn’t have to do it, you agreed to do this for me, they did too, but you agreed.”

“I’m entirely on your side,” I said.

“I don’t trust you for a hot bloody second, Sy, not when it comes to unfamiliar territory like this.  If I’m ever going to be a black-coated professor, I need friends, contacts, patrons.  I need to make friends, and I need to look like I know what I’m doing.  Please.  Please, please, please, I’m begging you, don’t muck this up.  Please.

“We could have him wait outside,” Gordon suggested.

Lillian snapped her head around to look at Gordon, and I could tell that she was actually pleased at the notion.

“I don’t want to wait outside.”

“It’s a possibility,” Lillian said, not acknowledging me.

“I miss the old days.  When I had backup,” I said, staring out off to one side, at the houses and the trees.

“Jamie would have been backing Lillian,” Gordon said.  He looked at Jamie, “Sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Jamie said.  “If it matters, I don’t think we should leave anyone outside.  People like this, they’re liable to worry about subterfuge.  Not being able to watch or keep track of every member of a group of visitors?  I think it would put them in a warier mindset.”

Did he actually just back me up?

“That’s a good point,” Gordon said.  “Where did you pick that up?”

“A book series I’ve been reading.  Intrigue in noble courts.  Not like ours.”

“Huh,” Gordon said.

“I’ll be good,” I said, with emphasis.

“I wish I had something on you,” Lillian said.  “Something you wanted that I could take away, some weakness I could exploit, but you don’t leave any good openings.  It’s so one-sided.  How do I punish you if you ruin this for me?”

“I won’t.”

“You can beat him up, or wrestle him into submission and make him cry uncle and admit he smells like butt, or whatever you want him to say,” Gordon said.  “I’m pretty sure you could beat him in a fight.  He still can’t seem to grasp the basics.”

“First of all, not necessary, because I won’t do anything to deserve a beating, but she tried that this one night this past summer,” I said.  “I teased her too much and she-”

“We’re not talking about that,” Lillian said, louder than was necessary.


“Not talking about it!”

I dropped the subject.

“Silent treatment, then,” Gordon said.

Won’t work, I thought with confidence, as I saw Lillian glance at me, working through the idea in her head.  She’ll crack before I do.  And I can make her break the silence.

“I’ll do it too,” Gordon said, “Silent treatment.  Solidarity.”

“Hey,” I said.  It’s like he read my mind and deftly countered my preliminary strategy.

“Me too,” Jamie said.  “If it’s deserved.”


“We can pass on word to the others, too, just in case Sy got the bright idea of joining with the others the next time the teams got shuffled around,” Gordon said.  “Mary would play along.”

“She would,” Lillian said.

“Helen too, if we bribed her.”

“Yep,” Lillian said.

“Ashton, well, if Sy really wants conversation, I don’t think Ashton would really suffice.”

“You boys are the best,” Lillian said.  She put her hands on Gordon’s upper arm, then rose up on her tiptoes to give him a kiss on the cheek.  He had to bend down a fair bit to even allow it.  Lillian quickly skipped around to Jamie.  She didn’t have to bend down or even raise up on tiptoes too much to do it.  She beamed a smile as she looked at me.

“I’ll be good,” I said.

“You better,” she warned.

The rest of the way to our destination, she walked between Gordon and Jamie.

The properties to our right had given way to a downward slope and a view of a slice of beach and a lake filled with docks and fancy boats.  The cart that had passed us earlier was now parked by the water, the door open, occupants and monster gone.

The houses to our left grew greater and grander the closer we got to the water.  The modifications to each home changed, too.  Where the smaller houses were riddled with signs of the cheaper means of building, trees growing into and through them, the bigger houses were more carefully done, the growth and alterations set in the gardens and into the walls.  The stone walls had branches and vines creeping through them, covered in bright red berries and thin yellow leaves, crowned with greater clusters of golden yellow foliage at the tops.  More conventional, old-fashioned houses in more alien settings.

Those leaves would be security measures, I knew.  Poisonous to the touch, or covered in tiny fibers that would cause pants-crapping levels of agony for days on end.

The house at the road’s end was the capstone.  A true manor, larger than any of the rest.  The walls to the left and right of it encased rows of the black-barked, yellow-leafed trees, and the gardens were weird and wiry, more black wood and autumnal colors.  The house itself was a sprawl, the wood done dark, the highlights and shingles pale enough they stood out.  Stitched waited at the gates.

I tugged my shirt into position and straightened my collar as they began opening the gates, lifting and dragging them back and away.

Lillian appeared next to me.  She looked at me.

“Please, Sy.”

“Your lead, Lil.”

“Don’t call me Lil.  If they start calling me Lil because you did, I can’t correct them, and if this somehow works and I get an opportunity, I’ll have to live with that for a really long time.  I know you’d get the biggest kick out of that, but-”

I raised my hands, putting them over her mouth, cupping them so I didn’t smudge her lipstick.

“Lillian,” I said.

She huffed, then nodded.  I let the hands drop.

“I’m all agitated now.”

I turned to face the gate.  People were coming down the long path.  I wondered if it was more polite to meet them halfway.  Under my breath, I said, “Your own fault you’re agitated.”

“No it isn’t,” Lillian said.  She was facing squarely ahead as well, talking out of the corner of her mouth.  “Two years of experience have led up to this, Sy.  Gordon, Jamie, do I look alright?  I’m not all ruffled, or red in the cheeks?  Or-”

“You look fine,” Gordon said.  Jamie nodded.

“You look like a proper professor in the making,” I said.

“Don’t,” she said, focused on the approaching husband and wife pair.  She didn’t look at me.  “Please don’t raise me up just to make a bigger crash when you trip me up and I fall.  Any other time.”

“Said the frog to the scorpion, who was asking for a ride across the water,” Gordon said.

“You too.  Don’t make me nervous,” she said.  “Don’t-”

She let her voice drop off as the pair drew close.

I whispered, “Like I said.  Your lead.  You get to take point.”

Lillian gave me the smallest nod.

Husband and wife.  He was a middle-aged gentleman with obviously altered features, cut a little too sharp.  His face was clean shaven, his blond hair waxed to the point that it looked artificial through and through, as if it were finely carved of wood.  He wore a jacket with tails and thin slacks, and held a bone cane, more for style than out of any need for one.

She was a woman who’d had more work done on her body than most.  I might have taken her for his daughter, but she was wearing the open-front blouse that was so common to yesteryear’s high courts.  The cut of the dress bared the space between breasts, and the resulting picture was decorated with low-hanging jewelry and framed with ruffles and lace.  It would have been the style for Lillian’s mother when the woman was Lillian’s age or a few years older, if Lillian’s mother was born to a good family.

That dress told me a lot.  It suggested she was forty, for one, her apparent age cut in half by good care by good doctors.  It wasn’t unfashionable, but it took courage or reasons to wear it when she could have an easier time following modern fashion trends.  The risque styles of dress had been a reaction or signal of support to the Crown around the time the infighting between Crown and Church had started.  It was very possible that she or her entire family had a deeper stake in that particular fight, remembered even today.

She also had a tic, one finger moving rhythmically where she thought we couldn’t see, one hand in the other arm’s sleeve of her.  If I remembered right, it was a problem common to people who had had certain augmentations placed within their forearms.  A precursor to the same sort of thing that let Fray hide needles in her fingertips.

No, even from the way they held themselves, and the ease and care with which they moved, it was clear they were augmented from head to toe.  Grafts, physical alterations, drugs, changes to their biological construction at the ground level, and more.

They weren’t nobles, but by golly, they wanted to be.

“The so-called Lambs?” the man asked.

“Yes sir,” Lillian said.

“I heard stories, I inquired, and what I was told led me to expect monsters dressed up like children.  I was skeptical.  Now I’m not sure whether to be disappointed or impressed.  Are you the monsters I heard descriptions of, with particularly good craftsmanship?”

I bit my tongue rather than make a clever reference to Helen.  Three sprung to mind.

“We’re very good at what we do, sir,” Lillian said.  “Without knowing the stories, I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you.”

He looked us over.

“Very well.  This is my wife, Mrs. Adelaide Gage.  I am Everard Gage.  I am grateful to you for coming.”

“We’re happy to render any assistance we can,” Lillian said.

“I would request that the dog stay outside,” the man said.

“I’m sorry, sir, but Hubris stays with me,” Gordon said, voice firm.  “He’s a member of this team and a resource.  May I suggest that I leave and take a walk down by the water?  I can wait for the meeting to conclude, without bringing him inside or leaving him behind.”

The man studied Gordon, looked again at the dog, then shook his head.  “No, both you and him can come in.  Follow us, please.”

We followed the pair as they took the path to the front door.

I continued to bite my tongue.  Gordon is willing to suggest having me wait outside, but the dog, oh, no, the dog is a member of this team.

Heavy double doors of black wood opened with Everard and Adelaide’s approach, though there were no eyes watching through nearby windows, and the doors themselves lacked openings.  I glanced to one side as we passed through.  The man in a servant’s uniform wasn’t stitched, but something else, lacking eyes, ears and hair.  The man on the opposite side was a close match.

“In here,” Everard said, “This sitting room gets more light at this time of day.  Not that there’s much to enjoy these days.  All overcast gray.”

Lillian started to open her mouth, then stopped before voicing anything.

I stuck my elbow forward and to one side to push it into her back.

Lillian spoke, “If you don’t mind my saying so, sir, it’s much better than it is in Radham.  The rain never stops there.”

“I’d forgotten about that,” Adelaide said, speaking for the first time.  Even her voice has been altered to be younger and prettier.  “I’ve been, but it’s easy to forget it’s so incessant.”

“Yes, madam,” Lillian said, more enthusiastic now that a basic rapport had been established.

I would have slapped my hand across my face if I didn’t think it would get me in trouble with Lillian and the silent treatment from the rest of the Lambs.

Lillian continued, “It’s so rare that I can go outdoors without an umbrella or a raincoat that I feel strange without one.”

The woman offered Lillian a tight smile, chin drawn slightly in, and replied with a simple, “Quite so.”

Lillian glanced briefly at me.  She hadn’t missed just how quickly the mood had shifted.

“Would you have a seat?” Everard asked.  He indicated the chairs and loveseat of the little sitting room.

We sat.  I sat beside Lillian in the loveseat.

“Tea will be along shortly.  We called for it as you arrived at the gate.”

“Thank you, sir,” Gordon said.  He’d settled in a chair, and hand his hand over the armrest, scratching Hubris’ head.  He looked like a young aristocrat, entirely at home in this environment.

Lillian had lost her voice, it seemed, if Gordon was stepping up.  I guessed she didn’t know what she’d done wrong and she dreaded doing it again.

“Mrs. Gage, ma’am,” I said, “Mr. Gage, sir.  Can I ask what happened?”

“We wrote about it all in the letter to your, who was it?”

“Mr. Hayle,” Adelaide said.

“The man in charge of our project, yes sir, yes ma’am,” Lillian said. She’d picked up on my hint.

“That letter should have had the necessary details,” Everard said.  “Are you so forgetful?”

Right on the attackDefensive.

I gestured discreetly with my hand at my knee, watching the eyes of the pair to make sure they weren’t noticing.  At most they might take it to be distracted movements of the hand.  Paper.  Watch.  Hidden.  Word.  PaperStrategy.

“Sir, letters get intercepted, particularly those from people of your status,” Lillian said.  I could hear the tremor in her voice partway through the sentence.  Not something someone unfamiliar with her would have caught, but a sign that she was anxious.  “It wouldn’t be unusual to keep details out of the paper that you wouldn’t want your enemies to catch wind of.  But if we’re going to help, then we’ll need all of the details.  The work we do is dangerous, and a seemingly innocuous detail could get us killed.”

Good, I gestured.  You.

Everard and Adelaide exchanged a glance.

“You’re right,” Everard admitted.  “Well said.  I’ll be blunt, and admit our second daughter is missing.  She’s run away from home, and she’s done so in the worst way possible.”

“A gang of hooligans,” Adelaide said.  “In Lugh.”

“An hour’s ride away,” Jamie said.  “Lugh is a blight.  A harbor for rebels against the Crown and illegal trade.  I can see why it concerns you, sir, her being affiliated with such things.”

“Yes,” Everard said.  “A blight, I quite like that.  We’ve hired help to go find her and drag her home, but it’s a hostile place.  The Crown comes and stamps at them now and again, but the rats crawl into hiding, and they come out of hiding shortly after the Crown leaves.  If they send people to stay and try to defend the city, they find resistance and sabotage every step of the way.  We would send more people to recover her, but that would make this less discreet.  We wanted quality.”

“You’re too kind, sir,” Lillian said.  “I think you’ll be satisfied.”

Not how I would’ve worded the first half.  Would have dropped the ‘I think’ from the second.

Adelaide spoke, “She’s altered herself.  Threw in with artists and dock workers who tattoo themselves and go to back-alley hacks that alter their bodies.  She’s lost leave of her senses, and now her outside shows it.  Horns, altered eyes, tattoos, and who knows what else.  All easily remedied, thankfully, but if it’s linked to us…”

She fanned herself with one hand.  Her husband reached out to take her other hand.

“You’ll find her,” he said.  “Without drawing attention.”

“Yes, sir,” Lillian said.

“Good, good,” Everard said.  He paused, then gave Lillian a curious glance.  “What are you, then?”


“The Lambs are creations, alterations, am I wrong?”

“Oh, yes sir,” Lillian said.  “But not me.”

“Not you?”

I leaned forward a little, “Lillian is purely human.”

I could see the disappointment cross Everard’s face.

“She remains one of Radham Academy’s top students, sir,” I said.  “She’s years ahead of her peers, she does errands for Radham’s professors, handles aspects of various Lambs projects, and assists us as a field medic and, I don’t want to say she’s our handler, because we don’t need explicit handling, but…”

“She’s the human element, ensuring we don’t diverge into problematic territory,” Gordon said, very diplomatically.

Everard nodded, looking Lillian over.  I wasn’t sure Lillian knew what to do with herself, finding herself put on the spot like that.

“If I may, sir?” Jamie spoke up.  “I’m sorry to change the topic.”

“If you may what?” Everard asked.

“You implied there were details that you didn’t include in the letter, sir.  You included nearly all of what you said here.  Is there more?”

My memory wasn’t so bad that I’d completely forgotten the earlier conversation.  I was fairly certain that he hadn’t implied any such thing.  Implications were the sort of thing I paid close attention to.

“Did I?” the man asked.  Then his expression changed as he realized what the rest of us had, that he’d verified that he’d at least thought it.  “Yes, there is more.”

“Anything and everything you can tell us is helpful, sir,” Lillian said.

“You’ve heard of these texts that are being shared around?”


“These hooligans they’ve befriended, they’ve got one of them.  They’ve been occupying themselves.”

“Oh,” Lillian said.  “That’s problematic, but-”

“It would hardly be of concern, but for the harm it does to the Crown, and the severity of the charges that would be laid against her if she were caught by the full and proper authorities.”

“Yes sir,” Lillian said.

“…And the implications, with the alterations made to her,” Everard finished.

There was a bit of a pause.

This keeps getting better.

“What alterations, sir?” Gordon asked.

“She’s immortal,” Adelaide said.

“Immortal, ma’am?” Lillian asked.

“We don’t know the particulars.  The doctor who started her on the regimen left for the war and hasn’t yet returned, though we’ve corresponded by mail.  Exceptional fellow.  He says that the drugs he’s given her will extend her lifespan indefinitely, and give her some healing ability.  If it doesn’t, or if there are problems, she should last long enough for care to advance to the point of being able to fix it.”

“Some experiments have been done that seem to be pointing in that direction, sir, but the level of care required is high,” Lillian said.  “Immortality exists, but it’s paradoxically fragile, enough that even many nobles avoid it.”

“Her doctor thinks he’s unraveled it, and our daughter was the test subject.  We provided the funding.  There was and is a massive chance she’ll die from complications, but the chance to pioneer something like this, we had to take it.  Setting her above the rest.”

“Yes sir,” Lillian said, with less enthusiasm than before.

“It would be a grave disappointment if she were to figure out the particulars of that work and share it out at a lower cost, until it became common,” Everard said.

“We’d hoped for her to be special,” Adelaide said.  “Enough to draw attention.  Baron Richmond won’t be on this end of the Crown States forever.  He’s a bachelor, keeping the company of his twin sisters.  We need our daughter back in time to get her cleaned up and presentable, and we need it done with discretion.”

“Enough that the Baron doesn’t have to hear of it, perhaps?” Gordon asked.

Everard smiled, “We would be grateful.”

Lillian tried to speak and fail.  She did a fair job of hiding her quiet shock.

They really want to be nobles, I thought.

“We excel at discretion, sir,” Gordon said, making brief eye contact with me, as if challenging me to disagree.  Or maybe he was thinking of the Brechwell Beast.

“Very glad to hear it.  We can provide rides from here to Lugh and back, should you need it, and anything else you require.  Funds, to be sure.”

“Yes sir,” Lillian said.  “Thank you.  If it’s alright, we’ll confer between ourselves and then decide how to move forward?”

“You can do so here,” Everard said.  “Adelaide and I will see what’s keeping the tea.”

And confer among yourselves.

The two departed the room, gently shutting the door behind them.

I gestured quickly, to let the others know we were probably being listened in on.

Lillian looked at me.  She seemed a little lost.  I wasn’t even sure she’d registered what I’d gestured at her.

Then she smiled a little, and leaned across the loveseat to give me a peck on the cheek.

“Thank you for the nice things you said,” she told me.

“Always,” I murmured.  “Even if I call you a crybaby, I’ll have a hundred other nice things to say too.”

“I don’t know what to do,” she said.

“You’re going to do your job,” I said.  “You’re going to do it well.  You’ll make contacts.”

“But she-”

I gestured again.  Another reminder.

She nodded.

“We’ll figure out the particulars on the way,” I said.

Lillian nodded.

Then she leaned over and gave me another peck on the cheek.  Her hands found my right hand and held it.

I’d opened up the relationship with a kiss to save her and to save myself.  To cast doubt on her word when it came to me.  I’d let her down, in a way, hurt her in the eyes of people she very much wanted to impress.

This, I could do this much.  I would give her this in compensation.

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118 thoughts on “Bleeding Edge – 8.1

  1. Another excellent chapter. I feel like this story is just now starting to come into its own, for some reason. Like Twig has found it’s stride. There is enough established background to really get a feel for how the world is put together, so that each new area is tied firmly into the rest. Makes it feel like a real place, and it’s getting to where we can follow the hierarchy without it needing to be explicitly laid out for us.

    Honestly, while I love Worm for so many reasons, I’m already convinced this is, on a technical level, your best work yet, by leaps and bounds.

    • Agreed. It also places even more emphasis than Worm on having smart and competent characters (both protagonists and antagonists), which was one of its strongest points.

    • This one also makes me far more invested in the protagonists than in Pact.

      This story’s a lot better at dialogue and just interactions between people in general.

    • Yeah, I Don’t like it the best. Worm felt a lot fresher. However, it is definitely the most flawless. I’d notice little problems with the writing on Worm and Pact, but not at all with this.

    • I suppose Taylor also worked a little better as a tragic character. In this and pact the protagonists don’t really have enough freedom to *really* feel the crushing weight of their decisions. Although, I have every hope we’ll see the Lambs with the freedom to tear themselves apart at the end😀

      • Because the parents are assholes, Frey’s books are out, and the last time the Lambs went up against something immortal is was Sub Rosa, and that was one of the hardest fights they ever had?

        • I don’t think they’ve been giving “immortal” a formal meaning. Sub Rosa was hard to kill, but I don’t think she was ageless. The plague soldiers were referred to as immortal, but they seemed to go down quite easily to stabbing or blunt force. Maybe they got back up? But all we saw was immunity to Academy weapons.

          In this chapter immortal clearly means ageless, or near ageless. It also mentions its fragile. Just look at how the Duke has fourish doctors attending to him! And the “some healing” bit doesn’t sound as impressive as Sub Rosa’s. Sub Rosa was difficult to kill, but they didn’t make a big deal about being ageless. In this chapter though agelessness was the big deal.

    • Because even the rumor of an immortality serum is more then enough to bring out every mover and shaker that catches wind of it, up to and including Mauer and Fray?

      Because her “Sudden teen rebellion” is almost certainly because of the serum?

      Because distilling and distributing even a nonfunctional serum is such a major insult to the Academy that they will almost certainly wipe the town off of the map in response “just because?”

      Because an anti aging serum that actually works is something that Gordon desperately needs?

  2. So yesterday I reread through the earlier chapters of twig, and I have to say it is marvelously paced. I remember now hoe uncertain I was about the setting, and how much it has all come together. Wildbow’s best undoubtedly.

    A girl with horns though. The timeline must be wrong for it to be the same girl with horns Warren met. Which would make it a not uncommon alteration. It’s going to be interesting to see the underworld of Twig.

    Also I’m sad there will be no Helen this chapter, though I can see why not.

      • Heh, Learning thriving and growing by leaps and bound with every word.

        I have to say those sweet exchanges between the lambs are really invigorating this entire work, wonderful familial/friendly exchanges right next to harsh brutality of the setting makes everything so much sweeter.

        It’s making anticipation of what happens next a bit of a roller coaster, will it be sweet life or bitter realities?
        You’re getting even better at using Mood Whiplash as well (which is something you’ve always made good use of from the onset of Worm).

        General Structure of the work the way everything shapes to help the themes have definitely improved.

        Also you’re exploring a set of topics here in Twig which are dear to my heart in so many ways, Biotech, Trans-humanism, The creation of inhuman intelligence to share our world… and better yet thematically showing both the positive and negative sides of every one of them with that lovely tendency towards horror which you have, mixed in with the newer positive dynamic of the ‘Lambs’ as a family group mixing all such elements distilled.

        This brings me back every update in a rush to learn more about both the world and the people you’ve populated it with, To see how you handle it all, and best of all to see an author grow in the technical skill which matches his scope and creativity.

        (Xi tosses out more Praise on the bonfire heap)
        I hope this doesn’t come off as cheap praise to you, because I quite honestly enjoy your work. Its up there with many of the best science fiction and fantasy greats which I grew up with, and even in the earlier stages of it being rougher you always had a great spark to it that blows many other efforts, professional and otherwise, out of the water.

        One of the main things about it being the focus on and understanding of the human condition as a whole. It feels most often like you have something to say without preaching, observations about people in general within difficult situations… which you then express though the extreme and the ‘superhuman’.

        All in all things which aren’t the main point of your tales… so much as they compliment them.

      • I’m curious now, actually, if you would like to answer. How does that mingle with the process of editing Worm?

        Do you ever look at something you wrote for Worm as you were writing Pact, and now think “this isn’t right”? Or something you wrote as you started Twig? Or do you try to avoid going that rabbit hole of infinite revisions?

  3. Not that I am complaining but how is gordon still alive. Maybe he’s immortal, too? :3

    It seems like Sy is over Jamie. And Jamie is trying to fit better to Sy?

    I don’t really like the relationship with Sy where hurting someone isn’t enough of a deterrent for him to not be a jerkwad.

    “We can pass on word to the others, too, just in case Sy got the bright idea of joining with the others the next time the teams got shuffled around,” Soooo… the Lambs didn’t get split up into permanent teams? Huh.

    These nobles just SCREAM villain. Like, they couldn’t pack more tropes into their bodies. Sy also seems fixated in the youth of the woman. I wonder if he has a problem with it? Maybe it’s seen as bad because of how related it is to nobility?

    Of course Jamie is trying to appeal to the pseudo-nobles, but he just called people things. Dang. And that girl just sounds like your average rebellious teen. Poor girl :<

    So! Creepy thing of the day. The servant without eyes and such. Stitched have always been a kind of gray area of this story, where it is implied they can feel, but they are so very inferior to us. But making inferior people from scratch or modifying people to be like this is… way nastier. Are we going down the Brave New World route?

        • Basic utilitarian logic says worth it, you have a finite chance for unhappiness via death vs potentially unlimited happiness via immortality. It would sell like hot cakes in the Twigverse, even if there was a 99.9% chance of death during the procedure.

          • This is actually curious… I get the logic, you don’t have to explain it to me (unless I actually don’t get it, I guess), but I’m not sure I’d take a .1% chance of living in exchange for infinite happiness. Heck, I’m not sure I’d take higher chances, at least not now (maybe in twenty or thirty years). When you start getting closer to 70% chances of survival, I’d start to consider it, but I doubt I’d do less.

            Infinite happiness is great, but it’s also infinitely far away. I don’t honestly care for Zim a million years from now, or a ten thousand, or heck, I barely care for her one year from now. This infinite happiness promise only helps this hypothetical infinite being, but it is assuredly going to kill me now, and I won’t ever reap my rewards. I’d would be faaar more likely to take it if the procedure were to leave me with horrible physical conditions rather than death (duh), because those might be curable at some point in my lifetime.

          • I guess the most important factor in my utility function there is “can I recuperate?” I might recuperate from illness, but not from death. The negative utility quickly overcomes the “infinite” utility with chances of death. But we are talking about infinite utility, so my assessment makes no sense, so either my assessment is stupid or the whole infinite thing is ill-defined. (I’m not starting an argument or anything, just “speaking” out loud my train of thought.)

          • Infintes are the bane of any math problem ever. And thats before I ignored peoples subjective value of death vs being alive, instead focusing purely on years of life as a measure of utility.

            Anyway, the more I think about this treatment, the more it terrifies me when applied to the Twigverse. My most recent thought was that the nobles would probably start funding cloning and vat growing techniques so they could produce 1000s of potential offspring on the off chance that 1 or 2 survive to maturity.

    • Sy’s fixation on her youth might be tied to his stunted growth. Staying young seems awesome, as long as you get to mature normally. If you don’t…. well, it sucks if you’re stuck in perpetual teenagedom.

    • I’m pretty sure Sy was fixating on her youth because it is an important character trait. As he said, looking the way she did would require lots of work by quality doctors. But after going through all of that effort she still dresses in a way that obviously dates her. In effect, she is the kind of person who wants people to know that she is much older than she looks, taking pride not just in her beauty but also in the way she had maintained it.

      Knowing those sorts of details and motivations is Sy’s job. And it pans out later when Lillian doesn’t realize calling her “madam” instead of “ma’am” was a mistake.

    • Honest question here: did “teenage rebellion” exist as we know it today in the time Twig takes place? It seems to me that IRL teens in the 17-1800s were way too busy working to develop a counterculture. They were probably working full time for nearly a decade by the time they hit 18.

      • Teenage rebellion has always existed. We’ve got records of it dating clear back to Socrates. Historical early 20th century had large-scale youth movements.

      • Well, depends on which teenagers you’re looking at. The lower class ones who had to struggle to make it through the day indeed might have been to occupied with more important stuff than rebelling against their uncool parents. The kids of some bourgeois, wanna-be-nobility shmucks though? Yeah, definitely. Just think about the era of romanticism in the early 19th century. Or even better, the literature from the “storm and stress” era in late 18th century Germany. (Sturm und Drang) This was nothing BUT rebellious and lovesick and suicidal teenagers.
        So yeah. Whenever teens get the breathing room they tend to do that. Although it might take different forms in different cultures and eras. Like… horns instead of embarrassing tattoos in awkward places or corny poetry. I like the horns best, I guess.

  4. Oh, Sy. I’m not sure I hope you’re lying to yourself as to why you kissed Lil or not. Either way, you’re going down a nasty path.

  5. Mmm… after reading the previous Enemy chapter I wonder if a switching POV a la “A song of Ice and Fire” wasn’t considered at one point. Twig is very much an ensemble story instead of just Sy’s.

    I dunno, it felt Worm really was Taylor’s life story and Pact was the same to Blake, but I feel in Twig Sy is more our viewpoint entry into this world instead of the main protagonist. The first person narration remains but the tone is definitively different.

    Anyway, it seems the group dynamics here have changed, especially where Jamie2 is concerned. I wonder how it will evolve.

      • You misread. I’m not bothered, I simply say the way the story is presented feels subtly different from Wildbow’s previous works . It is simply the last Enemy chapter kinda made me realize Sy is the viewpoint character, instead of the main one.

    • Sy has a far less inward focus than either Taylor or Blake. Sy’s strength is that he reads his world and sees how everyone fits together in it, which translates to richer internal catalogue of the world around him.

      Taylor could merely see things around herself… but she never focused outside of her own head for long.

      Blake was outright made to be utterly singular in focus, and it really showed in how narrowly he was directed. But he was basically the horror movie slasher as a protagonist so it kinda showed.

  6. So /that’s/ why he timed the kiss like that. I appreciate the clarity!

    On implication:
    …’exchanged a glance.
    “You’re right,” Everard admitted. “Well said. I’ll be blunt, and admit’…

    To me, at least, that strongly signalled “Ah, there /is/ something important they didn’t write in the letter after all.”. The thing he said immediately afterward was in the letter, but the hesitation there shows that they were thinking about and decided to tell things which weren’t in the letter… maybe Sy missed the implications of that hesitation somehow? Then again, maybe I’m reading too much into it.

  7. Typos:

    This paragraph is entirely italicized:
    “Hey,” I said. It’s like he read my mind and deftly countered my preliminary strategy.

    Something is missing or extra here:
    one hand in the other arm’s sleeve of her.

    had his hand, not
    hand his hand over the armrest

    • “but the rats crawl into hiding, and they come out of hiding shortly after the Crown leaves.”
      Wee bit heavy ‘hiding’ repetition.

    • “juxtaposed by” sounds a bit strange to me; perhaps “juxtaposed with”?:
      Peaceful, idyllic, every scene an image from a painting, juxtaposed by the contents of the carriage

      Should be “you and he”:
      No, both you and him can come in.

  8. I really enjoyed Sy’Sy’s analysis of Adelaide.

    Of *course* him kissing Lillian was intentionally timed by Sy. At least he feels like he needs to make amends for it /:

    And I’m so glad the Lambs are going to be shuffled every so often, rather than being split into two static groups. I don’t want to lose any of them! Maybe we’ll get a look at what Helen, Ashton, and Mary were up to in this chapter’s interlude?

    • I really pity whatever poor fool has been assigned as the Lillian substitute for the other group. Also interested in finding out why anyone thought it was a good idea to put the least human thinkers of the lambs all on 5 he same team. I feel like you couldn’t send those 3 out on a shopping trip without it having horrifying consequences.

  9. Top of my head:

    The Gages’ are lying to cover their asses; little Miss Gage isn’t hanging with hooligans, she joined the rebellion. Misidentifying Lillian as an experiment instead of human was intentional to throw the Lambs off-guard, they wanted an “Inexperienced Academy Student” as a scapegoat when their daughter is killed to claim innocence and sue for compensation, selling out their daughter for profit/status.

    Or they could be Wrong Genere Savvy Nouveau Riche Social Climbers who think they’re living in a Victorian Novel and really deserve everything they wish for, much to their detriment.

    • “little Miss Gage isn’t hanging with hooligans, she joined the rebellion”

      That’s one possibility. The chance of there being serious details that the Gages didn’t say are really high. For example, the elephant in the room: they experimented on her in untried ways and plan to use her to catch the eye of an extraordinarily dangerous sociopath, just to raise their family’s social position. The girl isn’t having a teenage rebellion, she is trying to escape and will fight being dragged back.

      • Yeah, I’m pretty much 100% sure she’s not going to return voluntarily. And since she’s apparently immortal and has gotten numerous additional combat modifications since then, this is not going to be pretty.

        • Thanks. I read this regularly too (and a few others), but I only have time to comment in depth on perhaps two serials a week. Right now those are The Gods are Bastards and Practical Guide to Evil.

      • Yeah. And, there’re a lot of very good reasons beyond cosmetic or handing secrets out to try tinkering with her own body: trying to counteract the downsides the experimental “treatment” handed her, for one. Or, she could be trying to find a way to reverse it.:/ Her mother might want to live forever as a porcelain doll, but she may not.😛

  10. The other Lambs might not be on a mission at all, after the last few chapters they might be getting training on blending in.

    Splitting them up but changing the mix each mission is a better strategy than permanent split teams. Keeping some behind gives the Crown leverage and even hostages. A permanent split would result in the same strong group bond of the original Lambs, but rotation keeps them uncertain about loyalties, particularly Jamie 2, Ashton, and even Mary and Gordon.

    I’m just a tad confused by this chapter because I thought they had to deal with the twins?

    • Apparently, they were considered loyal and useful enough and the Duke, being slightly less crazy than the Baron and the twins, decided to not allow them to be tortured for his cousin’s amusement.

        • There’s plenty of scope for the Gruesome Threesome to interact with the Lambs. Particularly if they keep running into plots that connect with them. Which they are likely to do: they are the local nobility.

        • Oh, just had a thought: they made it so their darling daughter is both hard to kill, but easy damage and heal up nicely to heal… and thought it was OK to hand her over to Mr Abusive In Creative Ways for the social boost. I’d run, if I were looking at being somebody’s fun little custom-designed not-a-masochist ragdoll of a bribe rather than bride for a few centuries.😛

  11. Typo:
    > “Hey,” I said. It’s like he read my mind and deftly countered my preliminary strategy.

    Latter part of the line shouldn’t be italicized.

  12. Fun fun fun. I’d run off if I were their daughter, too. No doubt she’s had many a complication from the alterations that have been forced upon her. They may have the best doctors they can find, but I imagine they rotate between them resulting in many alterations not quite meshing. Many artists sharing a canvas.

    Also, same twins? Are we going to see the mad nobles again? Sidenote- ohgod getting married off to that guy would be the wooorst

    • He’s also a bachelor noted for spending an awful lot of time with his sisters. That is somewhat disconcerting, especially since they don’t seem to be married either.

    • I would imaging the moment her parent’s started talking about marrying her to the fucking baron she started planning to run for the hills. Actually I’m amazed it’s never been married instead of widowed multiple times.

    • … I don’t think that the Baron is the sort of person who gets married, period. Maybe a string of “unfortunate wives” who last for a week each, but nothing that would solidify an alliance, and certainly nothing noteworthy enough to increase a family’s social standing.

      …Why do I get the feeling that the Baron accepts tribute in the form of ‘toys’ resilient enough to be breakable in new and interesting ways?

  13. ^Personally, the potential incest between the Baron and his creepy twins sistersis the least of the horror that trio produces. Then again, I reject the incest taboo in general and incest among nobles is truth in television.

    • While I also reject the incest taboo… Really, the less I know about the personal lives of these nobles, the better I’m off. I really don’t don’t don’t want to think about what they do in bed.

  14. So, Jamie1 had read Worm and Pact, while Jamie2 went with Peer… or maybe Pact, where jr zbfgyl nibvqrq gur engure vagrafr Snrevr pbheg vagevthrf. Hard to tell from just that bit. The full title would shed more light on which it is.

  15. So, this is my first time ever commenting on one of your stories and I feel almost guilty about that… I am a science teacher at a middle school and we were discussing why students need to stand up and speak out when something is bothering them, when a kid asked me, “Isn’t there something you always knew you should do, but you didn’t do it, and you don’t know why?” This is me being able to tell that student I fixed that… I started reading Worm when Gru met Bonesaw (not really a spoiler, just saying when it was) and I caught up rather quickly. You lost me about 3 arcs into Pact, I just couldn’t get into it, but Twig has reignited the flame. I am not a writer, or even really someone who loves to read, but I cannot wait for each chapter of this story every week. You have made me truly look forward to reading again and your stories have a very strange way of making me feel like I can connect with someone or something I previously thought completely unimaginable. I find myself trying to talk about your stories with my friends but none of them are willing to give the story a shot because, “their lives are too busy,” so I have come here looking for people to talk to and share ideas with… I know I won’t be disappointed, and I hope I get embraced by the commentators as others have before me.

  16. So. Bleeding Edge. Referring to the dangerous, state of the art immortality modifications? A literal knife of a doctor? It’s also a little foreboding, a clouds on the horizon sort-of-thing.

    Speaking of those immortality modifications, what was Lillian’s problem with them? Did she have her eyes on being the one to solve that riddle and get the fame and fortune? It would make sense to me for her to be thinking in that direction, given that all her friends have a built in death-clock. Or is there something else that makes the parents unsuitable as patrons? Maybe Li’s reaction is just because they’re horrible people.

    Sy’s such a pain sometimes, I love it. It’s even better when the rest of the Lambs just completely shut him down. They’re such a family.

    I was musing on it a little, that one of Sy’s many contradictions is that he can’t help but conform to those around him, but he goes so far out of his way to be contrary, and spends so much energy being an utter prick (but, you know, an endearing one).

    And the contrasting between is that and his new feelings for Lillian are great. Those two were inevitable since Sy peeked up her skirt. I feel like the relationship as done here, the way the emotions are presented and, hell, just the kissing itself, is leaps and bounds ahead of anything similar in Worm or Pact. Or an awful lot of other stories. It’s very well done.

    I think Lillian and the group were being a little unfair to Sy, I can’t see him actually going through with intentionally sabotaging them at a point when it /really/ counts.

    Lillian’s changed a little since the last arc. No blushing and lots of kisses on the check (as well as the obvious dressing up she’s doing for the job). She seems more confident. It’s good, but that and her goals here are tugging on my heart stings a little, reminding me of Lillian’s “expiration date”. It’s going to suck when she leaves to go off and do Doctor things.

    And on that note, I can’t help but wonder if Gordon’s insistence on keeping Hubris close stems from him being particularly worried about his health, at the moment. It’s been a few months since the last arc…

    But anyway, I like the group of Lambs we’ve got for here, I wouldn’t want to change anyone who’s here for this arc. It looks like it’s going to be a good one.

  17. I’ll freely admit, I stopped reading shortly after your “Bury Your Gays” moment with Jamie, Wildbow – I was very, very unimpressed given that it could very easily have been Helen being appropriated by the Duke or Gordon having heart problems severe enough to merit a replacement if you wanted to cause emotional damage to Sylvester, and especially considering that you handed the Academy and the Duke an Idiot Ball of epic proportions by having them hobble the Lambs so badly in the midst of a war, of all things.

    I don’t know if you killed off the real Jamie because you don’t know how to write gay-straight sexual angst, conflict, and confusion, are simply unwilling to write it, don’t want to put off your readers, or legitimately needed Jamie to die, but the fun thing is that it doesn’t matter – in the context of this story, Jamie’s death is a legitmate Bury Your Gays played straight.

    “Often, especially in older works (to the extent that they are found in older works, of course), gay characters just aren’t allowed happy endings. Even if they do end up having some kind of relationship, at least one half of the couple, often the one who was more aggressive in pursuing a relationship, thus “perverting” the other one, has to die at the end. Of course, it can also happen to gay characters who aren’t in relationships, particularly if they’re psycho lesbians or depraved homosexuals.” –

    I’m not suggesting that keeping the real Jamie alive would have permitted a happy ending – it wouldn’t, but you likely would have cumulatively caused Sylvester more anguish and distraction by leaving him alive and killing off another character. But y’know, you’re the author and I’ll give you props for mimicking the early 20th century writers in killing off Jamie. If we’re following outdated tropes from yesteryear however, the next to die will probably be Helen or Lillian for their blatant sexuality. Probably Lillian, because Helen has the excuse of being blatantly nonhuman and could probably kill anything that didn’t kill her outright.

    I’m reading again, but this time I’m looking forward to more protagonists dying.

    • Honestly I really, really can’t see where you’re coming from here.

      Pulling from the exact same link as you:

      “Please note that sometimes gay characters die in fiction because in fiction sometimes people die (this is particularly true of soldiers at war, where Sitch Sexuality and Anyone Can Die are both common tropes); this isn’t an if-then correlation, and it’s not always meant to “teach us something” or indicative of some prejudice on the part of the creator – particularly if it was written after 1960”

      Jaime was gay. Jaime died. There’s no relationship between the two things.

      As I see it, Jaime died because that was best for the story. It robbed Sy of his best friend. It came at the one moment when Sy would lack closure. It was an unexpected punch to the gut yet still completely plausible. All this heightened the emotional impact, which is sort of the point of storytelling. And it laid the foundation for just about everything else that’s happened since.

      Jaime wasn’t treated any differently, by the story, because of his sexuality. On the other hand, keeping him alive BECAUSE of his sexuality would have actually been discrimination.

      • Any time you decrease cast diversity with a death, it’s suspect. Given that the only two unambiguously positive depictions of LGBT characters in Wildbow’s works so far, by the end of the work in question, have a) been working for the BBEG and also have what is functionally a drug addiction, and b) died – and the rest of them are varying degrees of Depraved Homosexuals – and the various protagonists tend to get the best possible option handed to them at each story’s end, it does make it look bad. In all of his works, there have been less than five characters that I can point to and say ‘yup, they’re gay’. Given the staggering size of the cast for Worm, when combined with Pact and Twig, it does look quite bad.

        Helen – functionally nonhuman
        Gordon – heterosexual male
        Jamie – bisexual/homosexual male
        Mary – heterosexual female (NB: possibly bisexual, passing reference to SSA r/t Lillian)
        Lillian – heterosexual female (NB: possibly bisexual, passing reference to SSA r/t Mary)
        Sylvester – functionally nonsexual due to his treatments

        “Jaime wasn’t treated any differently, by the story, because of his sexuality. On the other hand, keeping him alive BECAUSE of his sexuality would have actually been discrimination.”

        You realize that the author can choose, right? That the story isn’t telling itself using the author, but rather, that the author is telling the story using the readers? I mean, I can already tell that you’ve given zero thought to how that trope applies because the Anyone Can Die trope can only be invoked once it’s established that, yes, anyone can, in fact, die – or else that trope literally does not apply. This is the first protagonist death in this story, so that trope hasn’t been established yet here, and therefore can’t be used as an example of itself. Furthermore, protagonists in Wildbow’s stories have a degree of genre savvy and a degree of plot armour (until it’s most dramatic that they die – including dying casually). The fact that a gay kid dies after coming out to his best friend and confessing romantic attraction – and getting rejected for it – *is the fundamental essence of Bury Your Gays* and that is completely non-negotiable.

        Best friend or not, Sy would have been nearly as anguished had any of the rest of the protagonists died. Here’s how I’d list them in order of ‘amount of pain suffered by Sy by their death/removal’, from least to most: Helen, Lillian, Gordon/Mary, Jamie. However, Jamie /being alive/ was also causing Sy anguish, and killing Gordon or Mary would have caused nearly as much distress to Sy *while leaving the anguish that Jamie was causing by being alive completely intact*. Furthermore, if it had been written that Gordon or Mary had died *because of distraction Sy had experienced trying to work out what to do about Jamie*, he would absolutely blame himself and increase the anguish that he felt, and possibly apportion some of the blame to Jamie, thereby causing both more anguish and actually providing a setup for Jamie voluntarily being replaced, especially after a second, more explicit rejection or repudiation by Sy.

        There were plenty of places that Wildbow could have gone, given the nature of the cast and the fact that they have expiry dates, and I’m absolutely not saying Wildbow is bigoted. I’m saying that he wrote something which plays a bigoted trope completely straight and I’m goddamn unhappy about it.

        • The reason that Jamie was the one that died was because he was able to be ‘replaced’. The fact that Sy has to see a carbon copy of his dead best friend with completely different mannerisms is completely different from any anguish caused by the mere loss of a friend.
          Jamie being who he was, he was the only character who could have gone through that.
          That also doesn’t even include the fact that Sy relied on Jamie the most out of all the Lambs, so on any mission he would be sorely feeling the lack of Jamie.
          I get where you are coming from, but I think there is more that factors into this than just what you suggest.

          Besides, what Wildbow work doesn’t include Anyone Can Die? It is one of his signatures.

          • While I’m nearly willing to concede the point, consider the situation that I outlined – as compared to what happened, which one do you think would have caused more pain and suffering before Jamie’s eventual replacement?

          • Hard to call, but as it happens Wildbow does not write things purely for the characters to experience pain and suffering. If Gordon or Helen had died this arc would not contain a Gordon or Helen.

        • By my count, Worm has at least three major sympathetic homosexual characters who lived out the entire work and are below the Worm average for morally dubious actions. Pact has at least one who is fine.

          • I don’t know whether we disagree on our definition of “morally dubious”, “major”, “sympathetic”, or “homosexual”, but unless my memory has utterly failed me or you’re willing to provide examples, my count for the two works are one and zero, not three and one.

          • V’yy tvir lbh Cnevna naq Yrtraq (V UNQ sbetbggra nobhg Cnevna), ohg Cnvtr naq Syrpurggr, ab, sbe inevbhf ernfbaf.

          • I think you’re nitpicking at this point, and you’re getting well off track.

            You invoked Bury the Gays as a trope, and the tropes specifically notes:
            A) Gay characters are denied happy endings
            B) Gay characters are killed off far more often than regular characters OR they’re killed because they’re gay.

            Putting aside how moral characters are, sympathy or whatever else (I think it’s digressing quite a bit), I’ve been pretty fair to the gay characters in my stories in these respects. You’re free to make the calls you want on whether to keep reading or not, on seeing Jamie be the first to die, but I’m comfortable saying that that whole arc with Sy dealing with that and the whole Jamie thing (old & new) isn’t resolved and forgotten.

            I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. Is it that I’m a latent homophobe? That cast diversity should be preserved first and foremost, even if it means contorting the story around it (in much the same way that old horror films called for the black guy dying first, but reversed?) ?

            In answer to your earlier point about the number of gay characters versus hetero ones – I’d ask you to list the total number of confirmed relationships/sexualities in the stories and not just assume that a character is only gay if they’re open as/stated to be such. I think you’d find it more than representative of real society, where 2-4% of people identify as gay in national surveys and up to 6% have some same-sex attraction.

        • Technically speaking, Ashton is actually like Jaime: second version. Should Evette get resurrected, so would she be. Although not “major” in the sense we’ve not met one at all and have only met Ashton.2 relatively recently, their first versions do hang over Sy and the rest of the Lambs.

          Dead before story, but still pulling influence.🙂

          You’re also stretching when you call Wildbow out for burying gays. He’s like Joss Whedon: he buries at least one character you realy like, regardless of the rest of the package. At least one — more is always an open offer the longer the story in question.😄

          If you want your knickers in a twist, yell at Ubisoft, Capcom or EA as better targets for how they portray the rainbow.:/

        • Given that the only two unambiguously positive depictions of LGBT characters in Wildbow’s works so far, by the end of the work in question, have a) been working for the BBEG and also have what is functionally a drug addiction, and b) died – and the rest of them are varying degrees of Depraved Homosexuals…
          Wow, Parian/Foil hate much? Also sphinx hate; I don’t care how much you dislike her, Paige’s boss ain’t BBEG material.

    • I’m gay, identify most with Jamie, and was and am firmly on team Symie. Yet, I still called Jamie’s death before the arc was published, and my reasoning was that a) we knew someone was going to die and b) Jamie’s death would challenge Sy more than anyone else’s. I’ll further add that an absolute requirement to protect cast diversity in terms of their survival would realistically mean a gay character could *never* be killed, which have the a ridiculous consequence of depriving readers of diversity in tragedy. I want to read about realistic gay characters, and that means gay characters who can at least potentially a) die, b) be the first character to die, and c) be the only character to die.

      • Exactly. How boring it would to corral interesting characters into safe zones. Let alone really likable, interesting characters. The risk adds spice and realism.

        After all, Jaime’s death wasn’t random either from a Doyalist or Watsonian perspective. On the one side: emotional whams only work if you wind the dramatic tension up, first — and, then deliver. On the other: the Duke (probably) didn’t pick the target at random.🙂

        Better yet: we all pretty much liked Jaime. Not like the bad old days when the only role available to gay characters was “giggling, sissy villain” for the guys and “dyke ego-bitch demagogue” for the girls. And, let’s not even touch on the slim pickings for trans, polys and asexuals…😛

  18. “…She’s lost leave of her senses, and now her outside shows it. Horns, altered eyes, tattoos, and who knows what else.”
    As the old song goes: One of these things, is not like the others…

    • Yeah.

      I mean, seriously, altered eyes? you’d let someone mess with your visual perceptors, human’s most important perceptors? wtf, thats not cosmetic, thats dangerous and stupid.

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