Dyed in the Wool – 12.2

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Our carriage slowed as it pulled into the makeshift stable.  I began to put away the first aid kit and mirror.

Pierre was already hunching forward, his shoulders threatening to graze the roof, his neck more horizontal than vertical.  His elbows had no place to go, so his arms dangled between bent knees, hands touching the floor.  I was learning to read his body language, and even if common sense hadn’t told me, I’d know he was uncomfortable by the way his ears twitched.

Already in an uncomfortable position, he leaned down even further to peer through the window at our destination.

“Under construction?” he asked.  There was a human mouth behind his mask of rabbit flesh, either black by ethnicity or tattooed that way.  I hadn’t looked closely enough to say one way or another, but it made his mouth hard to see behind the mask.

“Work in progress, all of it,” Jamie said.  His eyes were on the files.  He barely seemed to glance over each one before moving on to the next.  Occasionally he’d held up one of interest while I swabbed at my nose or ear.  Now he was gathering the files together again.  “We’ll be a minute before we stop.  There’s a garage and stable under construction, but we have to make our way past the piles of material and the work crews to the back.”

“Work in progress.  Are we core components in this work?” Pierre asked.

“You are not,” I said.  “You’re pieces of a puzzle we’re still putting together.  They’ll wonder if you’re core components in the plan, and if that misleads them, then that’s a good thing.”

That got a nod from Samuel.  He almost seemed relieved to not be a core component.

“There were other people of general interest in other cell blocks, but they were isolated, one person of interest to each cell block, and it wasn’t worth the trouble or the time to go, especially when we weren’t sure.  Block F had three of you.  We did our research on you, asked around, and got some particulars before visiting.”

“The only person who would have particulars on me would be the people I was working with,” Samuel said.  “Them or my mother.”

“Yep.  We had tea with your mother,” I said.  “We went over a second time and brought cake, asked a few more questions.  After that visit we arranged a grocery delivery service and a house cleaner.  At our expense, not hers, don’t worry.”

Samuel seemed more concerned at hearing that, not less.

“Was there a need?” he asked.  “Were you so sure you’d bring us onboard?”

“We had no idea,” Jamie said.  “But Sylvester had a good gut feeling, and apparently his instinct when we’re starting out and carefully apportioning out every dollar we earn is to spend money on unfamiliar old women.  There was a bit of a need.  Your… prior employers sent her money, but going out was hard for her, she fell behind on things.”

“You make it sound like me spending money on something like that is a problem.  It’s an investment,” I said.  “The grocery service and the cleaner were referred by the local church.  A small and powerless church, but it has ties to the local community.  That tie is important.”

“It’s still coming out of your personal luxury allowance, Sy.”

“Yeah?  Coming out of my luxury allowance?  When’s the work team coming to help unwedge my boot from your rear end?  Huh?”

Jamie gave me a very unimpressed look.  He glanced at the pair sitting across from us.

I grinned, to make it clear I was joking.  “It made sense, gave me a chance to talk to the minister.  We need some ins with the locals more than anything, and this opened the door.”

“I’m not disagreeing,” Jamie said.  “But the reality is you’re terrible with money when money is limited.  You’re used to having an near-endless supply.  This is a good lesson.  Weigh the benefits.  Yes, you got to talk to the minister and now he likes you, I assume.  But we effectively have a steady drain on our finances for the indefinite future.  Is that worth it?”

Not that indefinite, I thought.  “When it’s a drain we will more than make up for later.  “You know I can go and just get a few thousand if we’re short.  It’s harder here, but not impossible.”

“I know.  But if I’m deducting from your fun money, then maybe, somewhere along the line, you’ll stop, think to yourself that oh, hey, look at that, if I give this random person money and help them out to accomplish some tertiary goal, it’s going to be an inconvenience and risk to us.”

“We’ve stopped,” Samuel pointed out, diplomatically.

“I know we’ve stopped,” I said, sighing.  “But we just had an adrenaline-fueled job where we broke out some prisoners and looted heaps of confidential records from a major Crown facility, and apparently when Jamie’s riding the emotional high of a wild success, the first thing he wants to do is ride my ass.”

“Sy, that-” Jamie started.  He put a hand to his face, then changed his mind about what he was going to say.  “No.”


“The reason I’m making an issue of this is that I now feel like we’re finally free of the distractions of the job, so we can focus again on all of the little details that have been piling up in the meantime.”

“Uh huh.”

“But let’s not bicker in front of the new hires.  We’re done, we succeeded, and we’re back.  Let’s get them settled.”

“Let’s,” I said, agreeing with a smile.  I reached over and opened the door, gesturing for Samuel to step out.

The carriage had parked in the rear yard of the property.  Walls surrounding the area protected us from prying eyes that might see and report Pierre, not that there were many.  We were situated on the edge of the city.

A prior building had stood here, but the roof had been removed and replaced, with room for a third floor.  The sides were also being extended out with four rooms each.  Two cranes had been erected to help move material up to the third floor and rooftop, and scaffolding and ladders had been erected so the builders could set the panels in place for the builder’s wood to grow between.

“A lot of watching eyes,” Pierre commented, with a bulging eye on the building crews.  “I feel exposed.”

“You’ll feel less exposed when you’re inside,” I said.  “Later, we’ll have you running errands for us.”

“Running sounds good,” he said.

The double doors that led onto the brick patio just outside was unlocked, and I pushed them open with a bit of dramatic flourish.

The first floor had high ceilings.  The main room was open space, twenty paces across and thirty paces from front to back.  The back door was behind us, a recessed fireplace to the right, some scattered armchairs and piled up building material in the middle, and the front door ahead of us.  Off to the left, one of the workers was putting a false wall in place over the door that led to the cellar.

“How’s it coming-”

“Nathan,” Jamie murmured, without missing a beat.

“-Nathan?” I finished.

“This is not what I normally do,” the man said.  He turned and gave me a look, as if he was angry and I was at fault.  “I had to take some of it down, pull it apart, fix it.  It would be easier if you did not want things so seamless.  It will be convincing to anyone not looking for it, without being perfect.”

“The people that hidden door is meant to fool are very good at seeing seams, and they’ll be looking for it,” I said.  “Keep at it.”

He gave me a curt nod in response, paused, then said, “And the walls on wheels?”

“When you can get around to them,” I said.  “I’ll put together the rest of that particular setup once you’ve got the walls in place.”

He scowled, looking more frustrated than before.  He gave Pierre a wary look before turning his attention back to his work.

“The more I see, the more questions I have,” Samuel said.  “I’m afraid to ask.”

“This may become a battleground,” Jamie explained.  “Sylvester wants to put things in place so we have options if it does.  Unlike our disagreement over spending money on your mother, this is one case where I have no problem just nodding my head and signing off on it, however whimsical he’s being.”

“Whimsical?” I asked.  “You have a funny way of pronouncing ‘practical’.”

Jamie rolled his eyes at me.

“A battleground,” Samuel said.

“One where you shouldn’t be at risk, but you’ll have options and protection either way,” I said.  “Come on upstairs.”

The stairs led from the central room of the ground floor to the second floor.

Shirley was upstairs.  A desk had been placed near the top of the stairs, but hadn’t yet been moved to a room.  She was leaning over it, writing something down.

“Sylvester,” she said.  She smiled, “Hi Jamie.  You brought… friends.”

Her face fell for a moment as Pierre finished climbing the stairs.  Eight feet tall, not counting the ears, and the same body weight as a typical man two feet shorter, his face was moderately horrifying to look at, more like a dead rabbit than a live one, and his clothes were disheveled and ill-fitting.  Shirley managed to compose herself and put her face back in place a moment later.

“Hello, Shirley,” I said.  “Meet Samuel and Pierre.”

She smiled and did a little curtsey.  Any unease she’d displayed before was invisible now.  Good poker face.

“That’s a new dress,” Jamie observed.  “It’s very nice.”

“Thank you, Jamie.  It’s nice of you to notice.”

“Did you buy it with your last payment?  Because I seem to recall that you were waiting- no, you didn’t buy it with your own funds.”

“Sylvester told me I should go shopping, and gave me some money.  Did I do something wrong?”

“No,” Jamie said.  He gave me a pointed look.  “No you didn’t.”

“That’s not fair,” I said.

“I didn’t say anything,” Jamie retorted.

“You gave me a look.  You’re going to say that’s coming out of my spending money.”

“I handed you money and told you it was your spending money,” Jamie said.  “You then took that same money out of your pocket and handed it to Shirley.  What money do you think it is, if not your spending money?”

“Organizational funds,” I said.  “Because Shirley is the face of our organization.  The person who isn’t wanted, who can show her face in the city without possibly raising hell?  The person who can interact with anyone who stops by the house?  She needs to look good.”

“Another ‘incremental advantage’, Sylvester?”


“I’m crossing my fingers it’s going to dawn on you that you can’t spend large or even medium sums of money to accumulate those small advantages.  Maybe you’ll learn to spend small amounts on small advantages.”

“Keep crossing those fingers, then,” I said.  “Because I’m forgetful, an especially when it comes to this stuff, I’m not about to learn my lesson.”

He opened his mouth, finger raised, as if he was going to retort, then slumped a little, defeated.  I grinned.

“I have some change,” Shirley said.  “I didn’t spend it all.  I got a pretty good deal.  I could take the dress back?”

“No,” Jamie and I told her, simultaneously.

“Alright,” she said.  Her hands smoothed down the fabric of her dress.  “Alright.  Then, speaking of people stopping by the house, the first of the potential hires have turned up.  She’s looking at the rooms in the red wing.”

I glanced down the hallway.  The building effectively broke down into the central building, the blue wing, and the red wing.  Down the hallway were a series of doors.  The exterior wall at the end of the hallway was thin, the window looking out onto nothing but wooden panels and boards.  When the builders were closer to being done, they would tear open the end of the hallway, opening the way to the extension, and then connect it to the hallway.

The archway of the hallway to the right had a line of red surrounding it, as thick as a wide painter’s brush was wide.  The other hallway had a matching line of blue around it.  There were plans to extend the color just a little bit further, to differentiate the two areas.

“She’s early,” Jamie commented.

“She is.  Very eager.”

“First impression?” Jamie asked.

“She’s lovely.  Nice.  I worry she’s too nice.”

I frowned a little.  “When you say that, I wonder.”

Shirley looked offended.  “I’m not too nice!  I can stand up for myself!  Some.”

“You’re getting better,” I said.  “And given time and more lessons with me, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with.  But I’m worried about this woman who is apparently soft enough to give you doubts.”

“We’ll talk to her,” Jamie said.

I nodded.  “Samuel, Pierre.  For now, get yourselves settled.  This central area is where staff will live, for the time being.  Three rooms on that side, three on this side.  You’re on this side.”

I crossed over to the doorways nearest the stairs, then opened two.  The rooms were large, with beds, desks, bookshelves, standing closets, and space for more furniture if it was wanted.  Supplies ranging from paper and pens to candles and decks of cards and small bottles of alcohol were laid out on top of the desks.  In addition to the sheets on the crisply made beds were folded sheets, blankets, and towels.

“I know it’s a bit much like your cells were,” I said.  “And being cooped up is the last thing you want when you’re free, but if you’d stay in your rooms for the time being?”

“Like my cell?” Pierre asked.  “This is swank compared to my cell.  I’m okay with this.  Just give me room to stretch my legs later, and I’ll be the most loyal person you’ve got.”

“Noted,” I said.  “Listen, I know those ears are probably pretty good.  You may feel compelled to listen in, or even to leave your door ajar.”

“And I shouldn’t?”  Pierre asked.  “I’m well versed in paying attention to only what I’m ordered to.”

“No,” I said.  “No, that’s the opposite of what I want you to do.  Feel free to listen in.  Pick up what you can.  I know me and Jamie go at it like an old married couple sometimes, maybe you have doubts, and you guys may have more as things get underway and there are a lot of question marks in the air.  Figure things out when and where you can.  When we have work for you, we’ll spell it out, and the less spelling out you need when that happens, the happier we’ll all be.”

“Listen in.  Eavesdrop,” Pierre said.

“Yes,” I said.  “Unless we’re making it abjectly difficult for you to eavesdrop, in which case don’t.”

“Uh huh,” he replied.  He bobbed his monstrous head in something of a nod.  “That’s vague.”

“You’ll figure it out,” I said.  I moved closer to their rooms.  Pierre turned to go into his room.  Samuel was slower.  I had to put a hand on his arm to steer him in the right direction.  He looked back, at Jamie and Shirley.  At Shirley.

My hand still on his arm, I wiggled my index and middle fingers against his arm in a set pattern.  If I’d been holding my hand against a hard surface, it would have made for a short drumming sound.  As is, it got his attention better than a squeeze or another touch might have.  He looked down at me.

I shook my head slowly as I led him to his room.

He looked almost mournful as he walked into the room.  I shut the door behind him, leaving it ajar.

She was, I supposed, the first woman he’d seen since he’d gone to jail, and she was a nice looking woman.  A little slice of hell, perhaps, to be reminded that she was off limits.

“She’s taking a while to look at the rooms,” I observed.

“I told her I would take a moment to finish writing things down from our initial meeting,” Shirley said.  She picked up papers from the desk and handed them to Jamie.

“She found something to do?” Jamie asked.

“I suppose she did,” Shirley said.

“Did you tell her anything about us?” I asked.

Shirley shook her head.  “I wasn’t sure what to say.”

“Perfect.  Do you want to make yourself scarce, Jamie?  I doubt a random woman like this is going to recognize you by your wanted poster.  Wouldn’t be a problem if we’d come upstairs and saw her, but since there’s an opportunity to keep you out of sight…”

“Not a problem,” Jamie said.  “Better safe than sorry.”

He walked up the stairs.

“Call her,” I told Shirley.

And with that said, I took hold of Shirley’s hand, turned my back to her, and placed her hand on my shoulder.

“Cordelia!” Shirley called out.

Our prospective hire didn’t take long to appear.  She was blonde, nicely made up, with a blouse that had a frill on the front, an ankle length dress, and boots with heels.  She beamed as she saw Shirley.

Rosy cheeked and warm, to look at her.

“Sorry, sorry!  I was distracted,” Cordelia said.  “And hello!”

She extended a hand for me to shake, smiling.  I didn’t take it.  Instead, I stared her down, my facial expression something close to what I wore when I was about to kill or hurt someone and I wanted them to know it.  Cold, with as little humanity as I could manage.

Cordelia momentarily broke eye contact, faced with that.

“Cordelia, this is Sylvester.  Sylvester, Cordelia.”

“Moving in, are we?” Cordelia asked, attempting to form a connection.

“I already moved in,” I said.  “I was one of the first here.”

“Were you?  I haven’t looked at the boy’s wing,” Cordelia said.  “I looked through the girl’s rooms, very nice and tidy, and I peeked through the window and past the gaps in the planks to see the men at work.  They’re putting a good sized bathroom at the end of the hall.  Some other rooms, too, I think?”

“One for the boys, and one for the girls,” Shirley said.  She’d realized what I wanted to do and she wasn’t outing me.

I did like that Shirley was a fast learner.

“Luxury,” Cordelia said.  She flashed a smile, as if trying to exude enough positivity to overwhelm me and put a smile on my face.

“Bathroom shared with twenty other people, and some of them are, what, five?  Six years old?” I asked.  “Yeah.  Wonderful.”

Cordelia rallied, “It looks like a very extensive bathroom.  There were several toilets, stalls, more than one shower-”

“What did you do?” I asked her, interrupting.

“Do?  I was a teacher, before I was-”

“No,” I said, firmly.  “Your last job.  You looked after children, right?”

“Yes.  Three years of teaching, three years of tutoring and looking after a dormitory at an all-girl’s Academy.”

“You were very specific about the dormitory.  Where did you teach?” I asked.

She laughed a little, defensive, caught off guard.  “Are you giving me my interview, here?”

Shirley reached over to the desk with the papers and picked it up.  It was covered in tidy handwriting, each section with underlined headings.  Her finger traced down to the ’employment’ part.  “Three years of teaching.  You didn’t say where, Cordelia.”

“I started at a school in Yearnsby, Lord Matthews.”

“And then?” I asked.

“Then Rookhill.  Then Croftway Institute.”

“Fancy names,” Shirley said.

“They are,” Cordelia said, beaming.

“Was that it?” I asked.

“Was what it?”

“The extent of your teaching.  You’re being evasive.  Your hands are picking at the bottom of your blouse.”

Her hands moved away from the frilly part of her blouse.

“I worked at five schools in total,” she said.

“Over three years,” I pointed out.  “That’s more than bad luck.  That’s something going on behind the scenes.  You have a vice.  Drink?  Chemicals?  I know there’s a chemical problem around here.  Drugs.  Custom drugs.”

Her expression shifted as I said the words.  Offended, but whatever it was that she was into, the hold on her was strong enough that even the mention of recreational drugs made her eyes sparkle for an instant.

She managed to sound offended and proper as she asked, “Who are you to pry, hm?  Some might call that rude.”

I dearly wanted to tell her I was the person in charge, but I didn’t.  Instead, I said, “I’m one of what will be forty or more people that live here.  I’ve spent my life in orphanages, and on the streets.  I’ve been hurt, I’ve hurt people, and I’ve seen things so horrible you wouldn’t imagine.  Some of the other children will be the same.  This isn’t some prissy-pants girl’s school, and it’s not a nice school.  It’s an orphanage.  And you’re going to have to match wits with youths that have nothing to lose.  You’ll lose that battle of wits and wills, and you’ll crumble.  You don’t belong here.”

“Well, we can agree to disagree on that,” she said, firm and confident.  “I’m glad you’re not the one making the decision.”

“He might not be,” Shirley said, “But I saw your eyes light up when he mentioned drugs.  I’ve known women who had the same look.”

“You’re accusing me, without any proof?” Cordelia asked.  The indignance became borderline outrage.  “I haven’t even had my interview.”

“I don’t need proof, and there’s no need to move on to an interview,” Shirley said.  “All I need to do is say no.  No.  If you’ll go downstairs and to the back door, I think the carriage driver is still there.  He can take you back to the city, wherever you need to go.”

Cordelia puffed up, mouth slightly agape, as if she were about to put up a fight.  Then she sensed that she was lost.  She remained puffed up as she descended the stairs, artificially tall and proud.

There was a pause as we heard her cross the room.  She said something I couldn’t quite hear to one of the workers on her way to the back door.

“That was unkind, Sy,” Jamie said, from the top of the stairs.  “Were you putting on a show for our new hires?  I’m betting you knew she was a bad fit by the time she’d said five words.”

“Not quite that fast,” I said.  “I felt she was wrong, but I thought maybe if she stood up to me in the right way or showed more steel, she could work.  If she was sober, she could’ve worked out.”

The doors beside me opened.  Samuel stood in the doorway.  Pierre sat on one corner of his bed – he’d extended one overlong leg to open the door with his toes.  Now he hunched over, elbows on his knees, looking comically oversized for the surroundings.

“The next person should arrive in half an hour,” Shirley said.  “Will it be the same routine?”

I shook my head.  “Too time consuming.  There are things to do.  Before we pulled today’s job, our hires made a call to Radham.  With luck, the Lambs are coming.  With bad luck, they’ll hold them back, send someone else, and Jamie and I have to finagle some sort of countermeasure for the someone elses.    We have the skeleton of something here.  We need bodies.  I want something operational before the Lambs arrive.  At a minimum, based on where the Lambs were last seen, that’s going to be two days.”

“You like setting difficult time limits for yourself,” Jamie observed.

“If we waited any longer to pull the prison job, we ran the risk that the Lambs’ search would be deemed a failure and they would be pulled back.”

“Like when we were chasing Fray,” Jamie said.

“Exactly like when we were chasing Fray.  We spent too long tracking her down, always one step behind, and they threatened to pull us back to the Academy.  Same idea here.  This is the timeframe that makes sense.  Two days before there’s trouble.  Today, I’ll recruit.  Tonight-”

I glanced at Pierre and Samuel.

“-Tonight, we work.  I’m done bitching about money, and, frankly, I don’t want anyone getting in the way when the Lambs turn up.  I want to figure out who the major players are, locally, and get them under our thumb.”

“What?” Pierre asked, as if he couldn’t have heard right.  Samuel simply looked deeply, deeply concerned.

At least Shirley and Jamie seemed to be on the same page as me, or at least willing to roll with it.

Well, almost on the same page.  Jamie said, “You know it’s not going to be easy, even if we do that.  They’ll have help, especially with the city being Academy supported.”

“But you get what I’m going for?”

“I get what you’re going for.  The Lambs turn up, and half the city folds in on them, with traps and problems at every other turn.  I know how it is, Sy.”

“There’s something deeply cathartic about being on the other side of that particular paradigm,” I said, smiling at the thought.

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68 thoughts on “Dyed in the Wool – 12.2

  1. Sy and Jamie’s headquarters is going to be an orphanage. Because of course it would be. Looks like they want to help out the Mice in this city. Interesting that they seem to be recruiting both criminals and legitimate teachers. Would the criminals be required to help with the children, and how much would the teachers be told about what was going on behind the scenes?

    Aside from the three bounty hunters, it doesn’t seem like they’ve made many new hires. Sy already called the Academy/Lambs to his position even though his base isn’t established or even built, he hasn’t recruited many people and he hasn’t got a grip on the city at all. He must be pretty confident in himself if he thinks he can do all that in two days…

  2. This arc is turning out really strong it seems like, or maybe it’s just that FINALLY the insane, frantic underdog stuff is over. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it’s good to Sy in control again for once.

      • I think we’re halfway. The shape of the story seems, at least to me, maninahole- maninahole- maninahole- ragstoriches – tragedy.

        We have several arcs where the protag is thrust in a difficult situation, a consecutively deeper hole. He then overcomes the difficulty through personal sacrifice and changing himself in the process, but ends up more or less in the same place he was before. A bit more free, a bit more alone, maybe.

        Then the rags to riches arc. Sy is going to rise. Then the tragedy arc.

    • I’m getting a similar vibe to warlord Skitter and I’m very hyped about that. Warlord Skitter was best Skitter.

  3. Illegal drugs typos thread.

    “When it’s a drain we will more than make up for later. “You know I can go and just get a few thousand if we’re short. It’s harder here, but not impossible.”
    > extra ”

    “You’re used to having an near-endless supply.”

    “(…) Jamie and I have to finagle some sort of countermeasure for the someone elses. We have the skeleton of something here.”
    > quadruple space

  4. If Mary didn’t already want to kill Sy, she sure will by the end of this upcoming fight.

    Heh, Sy is going to get to see what it’s like from the other side. He’ll probably find out it was harder than it looked.

    • I’m actually scared it’ll be too easy.
      I mean, we all read what Sy did to Dog when he was on the run, in a plague infested city, sans Jamie, worried about Jamie, against people people he’d only worked with a few times, in about two hours.

      I’m honestly excited and frankly a little terrified to see what he could do with his own place, in a stable city, with not only Jamie helping; but hand-picked recruits and possibly even half a city, his mind relatively clear, against people whose workings and thoughts he has an intimate knowledge of, in two DAYS.
      I can’t wait!

  5. I love how Sy is just casually dropping worrying phrases in conversation, for Samuel and Pierre to boggle at. “Battleground.” Getting the “major players” “under our thumb.” “Academy” “Lambs” “limited time frame”…

    Who are these kids!?

  6. Wait, Sy and Jamie are building a permanent rebel base AND preparing a confrontation with the Lambs? That doesn’t make sense. Even if the Lambs fail to catch Sy, they’ll find his headquarters immediately, and then it’s just a matter of sending a police raid there. Even if Sy and Jamie escape the cops, they won’t be able to take all their assets with them.

    • Not into a Lambridge twin they won’t. Uh-uh. Even knowing Sy’s playing them, destroying Lambsbridge.II by doing that will only happen over their dead bodies… They’ll either have to do it carefully themselves, or play elsewhere. To do otherwise would be admitting to no longer being Lambs, but Academy Lapdogs. 😛

    • You know, I’ve noticed a lot of people doubting Sy recently. Honestly, I find it kind of sad. I mean, I’ve been reading this for so long that I kind of feel like one of the Lambs. I have faith that when it comes down to it, Sy will do his part Just like he always does. It makes me sad to think that after everything that we, the readers, have been through with him, that so many of us still doubt his abilities.

      • Well, sure, if you put me in front of Sylvester the person, I would more or less trust his choices whatever they were.

        But this is Sylvester the character, written by wildbow, who, the devastating quality of his work aside, isn’t above writing things that don’t seem very logical on second thought.

        • Really? What he’s written has always made perfect sense to me. Like here, how he’s building a house specifically designed to baffle, beffudle, and stymie the other lambs.

        • Maybe so, things aren’t necessarily logical on second thought. But they always do end up logical and sensible by your third thought. For example, a big one to me was:

          gur gvzr gur Fvzhetu tneoyrq Qentba’f zrffntr hcqngvat urefrys ba gur tbvatf-ba vafvqr gur Oveqpntr. Znal pbzzragref cbvagrq bhg gung fgnaqneq reebe pbeerpgvba grpuavdhrf fubhyq unir pnhtug gur vanpphenpl, ohg Jvyqobj riraghnyyl rkcynvarq gung gur Fvzhetu’f vagresrerapr unccrarq va fhpu n jnl nf gb yrnir gur qngn va gur rknpg funcr bs gur oyvaq fcbg Evpugre cebtenzzrq vagb Qentba ba ure zbfg shaqnzragny yriryf. Guvf, ab bar qbhogf gur Fvzhetu gb or pncnoyr bs.

          It didn’t seem like it could possibly be believable, until Windbow’s explanation made it obvious in retrospect. Thanks to that event and other similar ones, he gets tons of slack, a ton of opportunities to explain, before I’d consider anything unbelievable.

  7. I have something that has been bothering me for awhile. What was the purpose of Gordons experiment? Sy is wyvern limits. Jamie is memory. Helen is assassination augmentation. Ashton is mob control. But Gordon seems left out. The only thing i can think of is that they wanted to test how long they can prolong life by switching organs. Any ideas?

    • As I understood It It, Gordon was about making a person stronger, or more.
      He was basically a living Frankenstein s monster, filled with other people’s parts.

    • It’s probably an early look at how organ rejection works, and how to overcome it fully. Then again, the thing uniting the Lambs was that they were mostly brain based projects, so I don’t know.

    • I’ll let you know. I’m reading through a second time. I honestly forgot what the point of Project Galatea was too.

    • He was about improved learning. I’m not sure of the details, I think he was somewhere between Sy and Jamie: while he wasn’t any smarter than average, he could learn skills faster than normal and he never forgot what he learned. He always seemed more normalish than the others because he died before the accumulated enough skill to have an edge over Sy or Jamie.

      • I’m pretty sure he was just generically enhanced; they got all their individual trait enhancement projects and stuck them in one person to see what would happen. He picked up skills quickly, was always strong and large for his age, etc. But he wasn’t as dramatically enhanced mentally as Sy or Jamie.

    • All are different aspects of building better brain related projects for both the academy and possibly humans as a whole.
      Sylvester was a test for taking a proven way to increase intellect and stressing it to its limits as well as observing what a life on the stuff is like when one’s brain is still malleable. It wasn’t originally a “lamb” project but it fit with Hayle’s plans.

      Jamie is memory, and how to basically add more hard disk and external memory to the computer aspects of the brain, contrast to Sylvester’s non volatile like RAM.

      Gordon is, basically, how to build the best human. Every single genetic and engineered advantage was looked at, decided upon, and used as basically parts for turning an existing human into a man-made super human. Or, at least finding how far they could go. We have no idea what Gordon looked like originally, but it probably wasn’t even a blonde hair color. Hell, Gordon could have been a girl at birth, but they basically kept replacing better and better parts until little of the original was left.
      Of course, this includes his brain as well. Continuing the computer analogy, they made him a solid state drive, more adaptable and durable than a hard disk drive with faster startup times, but also upgraded his CPU, graphics, RAM, operating system, etc, in order to find the most optimal configuration. I’d imagine at the end of the entire Lambridge project, they’ll take EVERYTHING from the others and combine them into the Griffin project and just try to keep it as long lasting as possible. This is similar to the group of four that sanguine was in, and how that group was supposed to combine all the sense augmentations into the one that lives longest.

      Helen was the idea of taking the typical approach of normal academy killing machines, and Hayle’s plans for monsters that look like humans, and combines them into a sleek new shiny package. Using computer analogies again, she’s basically Apple computers. Looks nice, everyone who doesn’t know better gets drawn in, more for quick and impressive feats in explosive fashions than lasting long, and is ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE FUEL under all the pretty.

      Evette was supported to be creativity and academy science, with Sylvester’s ability to adapt and problem solve.

      And Ashton is taking the best parts of nature, and combining it into the best parts of human society, in a very academy like fashion. Similar to Helen’s project, but focusing on using elements in nature to exploit other humans and creatures, which is what humans do better than other animals. As he can be simultaneously the cause and solution to literally every problem, Ashton would be the equivalent of Linux. Can do anything thanks to those who work on or with him, but also…. can’t sometimes and gets hung up on issues that everyone else find as common as saying “good morning” when it isn’t morning time.

        • they probably are going to or already hav.. His project had the most people even though it’s life expectancy was the shortest by fa..
          Doesn’t make sense for more people and more resources to be put into the the one that will die soon if it shows the most promise. Gordon was the best one to operate solo followed by Sylvester and can do the job of most of the others by himself to lesser degrees.

          If one can achieve those results by doing what everyone’s been doing for year,, making stitche,, why not?

    • As I recall, the intention of the original lambs project was to create spies and each had their own way of getting information. Gordon and Helen are the crow and raven, their method is to make the target fall in love and spill secrets in bed or romantic moments, and they both have the physical capabilities to get out of the situation if it turns bad, Ashton manipulates their emotions to get what he wants and works crowds in the same way, Jamie remembers every detail and the brain network figures out what information he’s supposed to bring back based on things said in passing, meanwhile nobody even knows how the information got leaked or that it did.

      The only reason any of the lambs were always in such violent situations is that Hayle failed to convince the powers-that-be that information gathering had its own merits and none of the projects were far enough along to be good enough at what they’re supposed to do in order to prove it.

      Then, 2 projects got cancelled, and Lil & Sy were brought in to make the team capable of paying their own upkeep while the training phase of the lambs project was being finished.

  8. It seems ye olde Wilbow formula holds true… no one can write without formulas…

    Which formula? well… znxvat gur cebgntbavfg unir n genqvgvbanyyl ivyynvabhf ebyr, gura ribyivat uvz vagb nabgure ivyynvabhf ebyr, juvyr znxvat gurz gur tbbq(vfu) thlf guebhtubhg.

    Gnlybe: fhcreivyynva->uvirzvaq (gubhtu gb or snve, fur unq n fgvag nf n fhcreureb vaorgjrra)
    Oynxr : zntvpvna gung qrnyf jvgu qrzbaf->Obbtrlzna
    Fl: frperg ntrag sbe na rivy betnavmngvba -> znfgrezvaq bs n pevzvany onfr, pbzcyrgr jvgu frperg cnffntrf naq nyy gur fghss rivy znfgrezvaqf abeznyyyl unir.

  9. “…and apparently when Jamie’s riding the emotional high of a wild success, the first thing he wants to do is ride my ass.”

    “Sy, that-” Jamie started. He put a hand to his face, then changed his mind about what he was going to say. “No.”

    It took me exactly too long to stop laughing at this part.

    • Ah, Sy. When will that plastic brain of yours hold onto the precious skill of noticing double entendres before you say them? (Or at all?)

  10. Sy’s motivations in regards to the Lambs are confusing to puzzle out. On one hand, I can’t see him specifically hurting them; that’s just completely not his character. I’d say he was angling to capture them, perhaps twist them to his side, but one of his main reasons for leaving before was to ensure that Lillian had a place in the Academy, and having them switch sides would completely contradict that goal.

    The only way I could see Sy pushing Lillian to join is if he could somehow covertly take over an Academy and have her set up shop there. But, the city they are in is an Academy-supported city, not an Academy city itself. So I got nothing.

    • @,@ oh god… Sy in charge of his own Academy? Can you imagine the horrors? Although I feel Sy isn’t quite sick enough to do a lot of things the same way the academy did. Still… i could see him mass producing Lambs.
      …. An army of Sylvesters… *shivers*

      • Oh lord, now it’s all I can think about. I’m picturing the story reaching it’s climax as Sylvester is confronting the king. After a long argument and short fight, Sy obtains the upper-hand. As the king lies defeated on the floor, he shouts, “Do you have any idea what you’re doing? Without the Crown the world would descend into squabling states and factions fighting amongst themselves! The world needs the Crown! The world needs its king!”
        Sy just stands there staring coldly at the man until he finally responds with a simple, “You’re right”
        He then raises his hand and snaps his fingers. At that moment, the king is riddled with anti-noble munitions. The late monarch crumples to the floor, his crown rolling across the tiles to come to rest at Sy’s feet.
        His expression still cold, he bends down and picks it up, toying with it as he walks over to the throne.
        With a quick turn and a flourish, he slumps onto the ornate chair, resting the crown upon his own head.
        His eyes dark and serious, he speaks. “Long live the king.”

        • And then the other lambs burst in, and Sy says to them,
          “Admit it. You’ve all had this exact nightmare haven’t you?”

          • Remember when Sy said a good enough scam could get the King to part from his crown? Sy’s going to do a good enough scam.

      • On the plus-side, anybody he recruits gets to consent. True, he can and will manipulate the bejesus out of them, but… that’s a better starting option than the Academy usually gives. 😛

        • Huh. True. That’d actually scarier. Not only could he modify the living crap out of them until they became unholy abominations, but he could make them WANT it.

      • I can see him keeping an eye on whatever people are carted in as subjects, and quietly shuffling away any children before they can undergo experimentation.

  11. Now I’m beginning to wonder, why hasn’t The Academy tried creating new Lambs that Sy won’t predict?

    • Because it would be a waste of resources on what many Academy doctors seem to (mistakenly) think is just a faulty experiment that can be easily apprehended. After all, no escaped experiment has ever evaded the academy for long. Besides, they have bigger things to worry about, like Fray, and Mauer. And the people who DO know of the threat Sy poses are either helping him, don’t have the authority to do so, or probably realize Sy could STILL probably turn them against the Academy.

      • I’m pretty sure the Academy has truckloads of experiments that have escaped their grasp never to return. When Dog and Catcher went rogue, none of the Lambs doubted that they’d be able to do their own thing for the rest of their lives away from the Academy.

        Also, murdering the Baron in single combat kind of puts a lower bound on how dangerous the Academy could rate Sy. And the guy who created the Lambs, Hayle, now has the authority to create new Lambs and officially assess Sy’s threat level.

        So I’d say the Academy is pretty serious about stopping Sy, and is intent on making new Lambs. It just takes time and resources.

    • Because that would take at least a decade. Well, maybe they could shave some time off if they salvaged the Ghost creation process, but they’d still need to spend quite some time training.

    • One of two reasons. It either takes too much time and energy to make one that’ll last long enough to be useful AND still be useful without being an integral part of the team (because Sylvester will be able to figure out the team if he can at least meet the new lambs if the old ones are still there)…
      Because they are TOO good and risk turning on them. Remember, what fray did changed EVERYTHING about how kid academy works. They no longer can rely on the chemical leash to keep dangerous experiments in check and from defecting, and their BEST resources, like dog, catcher, Petey, wry man, etc, all turned. They were what the academy used when an experiment, or ex professor, used academy knowledge and power against the academy. When they left, the lambs stepped up and picked up the slack.
      However the lambs lost all three of the original core members and the ones left aren’t fit for dealing with any problem that can’t handle a direct approach, except Lillian.

      It’s not worth they academy’s time either way. Either it’ll cost a ton of time and resources and has a short life expectancy due to being inexperienced and new, on top of the usual short life span they have and that comes with the job, or it’ll be a waste trying to balance a good weapon with a weapon totally in their control

    • “I’ve got five new projects in the works, pursuing what I’ve managed to convince the Academy are worthwhile approaches to Academy science, investing in the brain, but they’re nascent enough the risk isn’t worth it…”

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