Black Sheep – 13.6 (Lamb)

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Every moment she was out in the open was a moment of restrained terror.  Only her allies were to be trusted, and they were outnumbered by a hundred thousand to one.

People milled through the streets.  The old were potentially demented.  Other adults were healthy and strong enough to pose a danger to her, all potentially criminal.

Facts had been ingrained into her understanding and perception on a raw, structural level.  Anything bigger than her was scary.  Anything that moved quickly was cause for alarm.  Color oft suggested poison.  Prey had eyes spaced further apart, while predators had eyes placed closer together, on the fronts of their heads.

There were so very many people in this city, and almost all of them were bigger.  They moved briskly this way and that, unpredictable, and Helen and Mary and Lillian and Lacey all navigated that unpredictable current with ease, while she jumped and relied on them to create a path for her to walk.  Sometimes one of them would place a hand on her back or her shoulder, to help guide her.  Each time, she would have to keep from jumping and unsheathing the weapons stored in her back and shoulders to retaliate.

And this milling crowd of people were sometimes dressed in bright colors, dyed sleeves and bright decorations moving quickly past her, as if they were going to swoop into her mouth or brush past her.  They had eyes on the fronts of their heads, close together.  Predator eyes.  If she didn’t keep her gaze on the ground, then she was bombarded with the aggressive stares of the crowd.

It was easiest and best to keep her head down.  Be small.  Let Helen lead her, holding one of her sleeves.

Scared, she buzzed out the word, using structures in her head, chest, and the largest bones of her body.  The signal went out, and she could hear the distorted reverberation as it bounced off of large objects and made its way back to her, faint.

She felt the signals in her scalp like she felt sounds in her ears.  She couldn’t help but process the signals as words.  Not like an echo, it came faster, from all directions, her own voice bombarding and taunting her.

Scared scared scared scared scared…

One word was enough to help draw Lara’s attention.  Now she could expand on the thought.  Crowds are bad, just woke up, the sun is too bright, feels like we’re walking into danger.

Again, the signal came back to her, but the signals came back at different intervals, some faint, some strong.

Crowds just sun are woke walking so into bad…

-We’re close– Lara replied.  -Not too close, but close.  The people with you are the strongest Lambs.-

Scariest Lambs.

-Strongest Lambs.  We almost got shot.  Now everyone acts like everything is normal.  The sun is too bright.  I want more clouds more rain.-

Nora felt reassured.  This was something they did.  They would echo each other’s thoughts and build on them.  The sun was too bright, shining through an inconsistent mix of clouds.  It was hot, and the parts of her that were human were sticking to her shroud of clothing.

The sun is too bright.  I want more clouds.  More rain.  I feel sticky.

-Better than being sticky with blood.

Hate blood.  -Hate blood.-

Their messages nearly coincided.  They both communicated amusement to each other.

Sweat stinks.

Lara’s voice was quieter.  They were positioned badly.  It sounded like she was shouting, which only made the next message better.  -You stink.-

Well, I never!

More mutual amusement.

Helen tugged on her arm, pulling her to one side.  Nora felt fear seize her.  The fear redoubled when she saw why Helen had pulled on her arm.  A man had a dog on a leash, and it passed within a few feet of Nora, her fear only seeming to make it more interested.

Then it was gone, moving in the other direction, well behind her.  She scowled at the place it had just vacated.

“Hate dogs,” Hate dogs.

-Nasty.  Filthy.  Aggressive.-

“Cats too,” she said, under her breath.

“I know,” Helen said.  She adjusted her hold on the cloth to give a reassuring squeeze to Nora’s largest claw.  “But it’s rare a dog will hurt you.”

“Rare,” Nora said.  She hunched her shoulders forward.  “That means it’s just often enough to catch me off guard.”

Helen stroked her head.  She heard jumbled noise at all the contact there, false positives on signals and sound, but at the same time, she didn’t mind it.  The contact appealed to the part of her that was more human.

Would that part go away at some point in the future?  One day she would transition to become less human and become something of a warbeast, albeit one meant more for communication purposes than for outright combat.

She would lose her skin and her diet would change.  She would become far larger.  She faced the possibility of losing her voice, in whole or in part, and her doctors were busying themselves with figuring out how to handle it if that happened, because that would invalidate her purpose.

Lara was going on a tangent about cats that Nora couldn’t follow.  She had to focus to catch it.

-hiss and spit.  Little lambs are better.-

You hiss and spit, Nora sent the message.

-Do not.  Smelly Nora.  Telling lies.  You only have three claws on your two feet.  Inferior sister!-

Slimy Lara.  You secretly lick cat butts.  Detestable creature!

They communicated mutual amusement, a babbling fluctuation that could be interpreted like laughter, if she really tried.  But she didn’t really need to try.  This was how they laughed.

I just screamed to this city about your secret and nobody hears.  Tales of your furtive lickings reach past person and building and nobody understands, Nora communicated, along with a titter of amusement.

But the only reply was a mere, Gone.-

Then, just like that, there was no noise but the faint echo of her own laughter finding its way back to her.

Lara had something to focus on, so she had ended the conversation there.  Nora no longer had her distractions from the bustle of the crowd, the countless small and large terrors.

“I think this is the building,” Lillian said.

“It looks like it,” Mary said.

They moved off to one side of the street, where they had some limited cover but could still lean over to take a look at the building.  It was tall, four floors, and situated on a corner.  The intersection wasn’t right angles, however, so the building was more triangular than square in shape.  Like most of the buildings in this city, it was all pale stone, more yellow than gray, with plants crawling up it.  The windows were decorated.

“Plan of approach?  Do you want to get involved, Lillian?” Mary asked.

“I’ll participate some.  When we checked last night, it looked like nine, didn’t it?”

“Yes,” Mary said.

“And we can expect there to be more, if they’re bolstering their numbers after their losses last night.”

“Yes.  Twelve, fifteen, twenty.  Anything more would feel like too many, unless there’s more to this particular building than it being only a gathering place.”

Lillian nodded.  “Your comfort level is twelve, I remember.”

“More or less, depending on how many there are in a room.  Helen can take six.  She can also take on the most dangerous threats,” Mary said.  “But after last night-”

“Last night was lovely,” Helen said.  “I needed last night.”

“You’re running out of clean outfits to wear,” Mary said.  “You need to stop tearing them apart.  Leave the inside parts of them inside them.  For the sake of your wardrobe.”

Nora watched as Helen pouted.

“I like my wardrobe – I’ll miss the dress with the blue trim and the ruffly straps.  But I also like inside bits.”

Mary covered her mouth, “We know where Sylvester is-”

She dropped her hand, then continued, “Given time constraints, if you come, we can’t be waiting ten minutes for Lacey to go and buy something else for you to wear.  And we can’t be walking down the street in broad daylight with you dripping blood.  You need to stay clean and tidy.”

Another pout, “You’re making me fight with both hands tied behind my back.”

Lillian dryly commented, “I saw you kill someone last night with just your legs.  I know for a fact you can very literally kill people with both hands tied behind your back.”

“My fingers weren’t behind my back, they were in the other man’s eye sockets, silly.  That’s leverage for twisting around and moving!”

“It’s true,” Mary said.

“Don’t.  No, enough of that,” Lillian cut in.  “When you two gang up on me, bad things happen.”

Nora felt out of place.  The Lambs were made for this.  Ashton and Helen and Lillian and Sylvester and even Mary had been made to do these things.  But Nora and Lara and the others had been made to avoid trouble.  They had been made fearful by nature so they would stay alive and be available to send messages if they were needed.  They had been made dangerous and given weapons so they could protect themselves if cornered, not so they could pursue and chase and attack.

Lillian spoke with some authority.  “Consensus, then, is that you’re lead, Mary, I come as a just-in-case, maybe I take out one or two or make a distraction, Helen comes and doesn’t get her clothes dirty, and Lacey stays with Nora?”

“Yes,” Mary said.

“I’m coming under protest,” Helen said.  “I’m not even that fond of this dress.  Ibbot bought it.  Now I think about things he said every time I wear it.”

“You only have two other dresses,” Mary said.  “And for all we know, we might have to get on a train to keep up with Sylvester.  We might not have time to shop for clothes.”

“I’ll make do,” Helen said, firmly.

Lillian looked at Lacey and rolled her eyes.

“You’re okay here?” Lillian asked Nora and the older woman, as she bent down to access her case.

“I think we’ll manage,” Lacey said.

“Okay,” Lillian said.  “Give me a hand?”

Nora watched as Lacey helped Lillian put on the sleeves.  They were arms, much like the ones that might belong to a brutish stitched, but there was little fat to them, only skin and muscle, with supporting structures.  Lillian winced a bit as she pushed her hands inside.  She flexed the meaty hands on the ends.

She then moved her hands, flexing them as far back as they could, until the wrists stuck out further forward than the fingers, and syringe needles sprouted from the center of each palm.

Nora managed to keep from jumping.

Lillian moved one needle to her upper arm, and injected herself.  She closed her eyes and let her head hang, before taking a deep breath.

Lillian wasn’t even an experiment.  She was smart, she was courageous, and she knew some Academy science, but she was human.  She still chose to go into danger.

Nora wasn’t sure she’d ever understand that.  She envied it.

“We’ll be back soon,” Lillian said.  “About…”

“Ten to fifteen minutes,” Mary said.

“About that long.  Then we’ll have up-to-date information on what the Devil is doing.  His people have been doing a bit too good of a job finding us, so let’s hope we can cut that short.”

“Or cut him short,” Mary said.

Lillian winced.  “Or that.  I hate the feeling we’re playing into Sylvester’s hands by getting embroiled in this.”

“But you also hate the fact that this is a scumbag of the highest order,” Mary said.  “One that hurts kids and sells very sketchy drugs.”

“It’s not that they’re sketchy.  It’s that I know what some of those drugs are, and he shouldn’t have them, or anything close to them,” Lillian said.  “So for now, we’re on the same page.”

“Kill the Devil, then find Sy,” Helen said.  “I want dibs on the Devil.”

“We’ve already made the rules,” Mary said.  “No dibs.  It makes for ugly kinds of competition.”

“But it’s romantic,” Helen said.  “Imagine being able to say the Devil was brought down by the power of love.”

“Constriction and strangulation?  Disembowelment?  By having someone reach inside him and cause severe internal damage?” Mary asked.

“I prefer to say it’s defeat by hug,” Helen said, prim and proud, “It’s a politer, neater phrasing.”

“You’re not getting dibs,” Mary said.

The three girls walked off.

“Finally, a quiet moment,” Lacey said.

Nora wasn’t sure she was happy with the quiet moment.  She wanted to hear from Lara and know that Lara was okay.  Talking made her feel less anxious.

“Can I see your eyes?” Lacey asked.

Nora stepped into shadow and lowered her hood.  She looked up at Lacey.  She didn’t need to be prompted to move her eyes, looking up, then over, then the other direction, then down.  She pulled her lower eyelids down, then her upper eyelids up.

“Good.  The sun exposure wasn’t too much.”

“Gets easier,” Nora said.

“Filaments and hair are fine?”

Nora touched her head.  She nodded.


She flexed her hands without pulling the sleeves down.  She nodded.

“Good,” Lacey said.  “I wish they were all more like you.”

“I wish I was more like them.”

“Dangerous road to go down, in more than one way,” Lacey said.  “Tough and often short life to lead.  That’s one.  Trying to be something you’re not?  I’ve seen too many people burn themselves out like that.  You have to have faith in yourself.”

“I do.  I just know what my self is.  I was made to do something, I do it.  I’m good at that.”

“I can tell you, Nora, that I’ve seen a lot of projects start out as one idea and then become something else, as the situation demands.”

“As the Academy demands.”

“Yes.  Sometimes.  Lillian’s sleeves there are one of those things, but it was her needs and demands that shaped what she was doing.”

A male voice cut in, “and I’m another example, aren’t I, Lacey?”

Nora froze, and immediately began signaling to Lara.

Sylvester!  Sylvester!  Sylvester!  Sylvester!  Sylvester!  Sylvester!

Lacey, meanwhile, reached to her hip, turning her head, looking for the source of the voice.

“Don’t draw the gun, Lacey.  Let’s not make this that kind of encounter.  I’ve got a gas grenade, and civilians would get hurt, and… I’m just here to talk.”

Sylvester!  Sylvester!  Sylvester!  Where?


Nora looked up.  She saw two feet extended somewhere above her head, owned by a figure that was sitting in the windowsill.

Sylvester!  Sylvester! 

-Coming!- Lara replied.

Lacey followed Nora’s line of sight, sighed, and put the gun back at her waistband, extending her hands to show that they were empty.

Sylvester looked down, peeking, and then hopped down from the second floor.  Nora winced at his imminent, fast approach, felt fear response mechanisms throughout her body kick into action.  He landed, pivoted, and came to a stop with his back resting against the wall in front of them.  He held up the canister.

She could attack.  She should attack.  She had the weapons.  They could run from the canister.

“You look so nice with the hood down,” Sylvester said.

Nora remained silent.  She looked at the boy, who was younger than Lillian.  He wore dark slacks tucked into summer boots, a white button up shirt with some buttons undone, and the sleeves rolled up.  A mix of sweat and oils made his black hair look wet.  It had been neat not long ago, but the loose curls were pricking up, like a dozen or two dozen black fishhooks.  His nose and chin were sharp, cheekbones noticeable, and eyebrows arched.

His eyes were penetrating and predatory in a way that exaggerated what she’d seen on some other people’s faces on the street, yet he wasn’t trying to threaten.  Just the opposite.  He avoided eye contact, turned his shoulders so he wasn’t even facing her.

He stepped away from the wall, looking as if he’d walk out of the alley and into the main street, then turned around, his back resting against the same wall that Nora was standing by.  He slouched as he came to rest there, toes off the ground, heels firmly set.  With the angle he was positioned at, his eyes were on a level with hers.

He still didn’t make eye contact.  He was the least threatening threat she’d had to handle in recent memory.

“Hello, Nora,” he said.

She remained silent.

He leaned forward, looking past Nora to the taller, red-haired woman.  “Hello Lacey.”

“I should have known,” Lacey said.  “Can’t have a quiet conversation.”

“Sorry to intrude,” he said.  “I don’t know how many opportunities I’ll have to actually check in and talk to people, so I take the opportunities that arise.”

“Are you going to treat me like you did Duncan?” Lacey asked.

“No,” Sylvester said.  He craned his head to look out of the alley and look in the direction the girls had gone.  “If anything, I wanted to apologize.”


“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?”

“Changing subjects, to keep me off balance?” Lacey asked.

“Maybe that’s a bad habit of mine.  But this very moment, I’m watching Mary and Lillian as they approach the building.  I was watching Helen earlier.  Their skirts and dresses, the way they move, the dance… do you know what I mean if I talk about the dance?”

“No,” Lacey said.  “I’m sure you’ll tell us.”

“What’s the dance?” Nora asked.

“When you know people and have worked with people for so very long that you know how they move, where they’ll go, what they’ll do.  You move in concert.  It’s like three people on a dance floor.  There’s a beauty in it.  Then you have three beautiful girls carrying that out…”

He craned his head some more.

“I’m kind of captivated,” he said.  He laughed, very briefly.  “I might actually be in trouble, if I get this mesmerized when they’re actually coming after me.”

“Let’s hope,” Lacey said, dryly.

Sylvester turned, abruptly, and Nora jumped, stepping back.  Lacey put hands on her upper arms, stopping her from bumping into her.

“Sorry,” Sylvester said.  “Got distracted, forgot I didn’t want to spook you, Nora.”

Nora didn’t speak or move in response.

“Okay.  Lacey.  I’m very aware of the venom in your words.  Fitting, given your field of specialty.  But I did want to say sorry.  I handled things badly.  I’ve had time to think.  We left it on a bad note.”

“Just because you’re apologizing doesn’t mean I have to forgive,” Lacey said.

“Very true.  But remember, forgiving me would be for you, not for me.  It’s about not letting things burden you or get to you.  And you can forgive me without saying that what I did was okay.  I sabotaged your career and made things very difficult for you a number of times, for my own sake, because of my own perspective.  You could have ridden the Wyvern project to a place of some prominence and instead I selfishly kicked you off it.  Now that I’m seeing things from another perspective, and I’m having to value the support I do have, instead of having support from all corners, with the Academy… I regret pushing you away.  I know you could have been one of the half-decent doctors.”

“Please don’t try to manipulate forgiveness out of me,” Lacey said, unmoved.

“That-” Sylvester started.  He stopped, then leaned against the wall.  “-Wasn’t what I was doing.  But okay.”

“Okay,” Lacey echoed him.

“I’m glad the girls are enjoying themselves, going after the Devil,” Sylvester said.  “I’m glad I get to watch as they do it.”

“You were supposed to be watching over the others,” Lacey accused.

“They’re a bit… tied up at the moment.  And I have other eyes.”

“Of course you do.”

“I’m not worried,” Sylvester said, smiling.  “I’m fascinated, though, by the fact that the girls are doing things so roundabout.  I thought they’d go right for the head of the snake, or go right for me.  But they’re doing things surgically, going after the Devil’s peripheral groups, lieutenants, and holdings.  Is that because they don’t have the numbers to barrel through, or is it Lil’s influence?”

“No comment,” Lacey said.

“Of course,” Sylvester said.

Coming coming coming.- Lara signaled.

Nora closed her eyes, as if she could avoid being here altogether.  She trembled a bit between Lacey’s reassuring hands.

“Nora,” Sylvester said.

“How do you know my name?”

“I’ve been watching pretty much all the time.  One group or the other.  Binoculars and lip reading go a long way.  I got your name, but I’m… somewhat stumped about how you and Lara work.  I thought it was a subtler sort of messenger bird?  A hive inside your body, you send her a messenger bug with encoded messages?  But it’s faster than that.”

She set her jaw.

He smiled, still not looking directly at her, but at her shoulder, at her sleeve, then the ground between them.

He dropped down to a crouch, still holding the canister.  Sitting on his ankles, he waddled closer to her, closing the distance.

She shrank back against Lacey’s side, but when Lacey didn’t budge she had nowhere to go.

Slowly, Sylvester reached out, and took hold of the very end of the sleeve.

Did he know?  That that was something her creators and Helen and Mary and Lillian did, at times, that reassured her, let her know they were there?  Did he understand that?

“I wish I got to be there when they invited you to the group.  That we could have been friends,” he said.  “Not just you, but Lara, Emmett, and Abby.  I would have liked to bring out the strong, beautiful parts of you and gotten to the point where we could have danced.”

She remained silent.

Lillian and Mary had been very firm about the fact that if she ever heard him talk, she should not believe a word he said.

But she almost believed him, even as she strained to bury his words under doubt and fear.

“But that’s the joke, isn’t it?” he asked.  “If I’m on the team, you wouldn’t be.  If Evette was on the team, I wouldn’t have been brought over.  I’d be Lacey’s stress-testing experiment for a study drug that would be discarded when they were done with me.”

“You’re on Wyvern right now,” Lacey observed.

Nora turned her head, looking up at the woman, then back at Sylvester.

“I had an ‘appointment’ shortly after I saw Duncan’s group turn up,” he said.  “I needed to make some last minute adjustments, and I wanted to be at my best.”

“Thought so,” Lacey said.

Sylvester let go of Nora’s sleeve.  He rested his arms on his knees, as he crouched on the spot, low to the ground, relatively still.

“One of the three great tragedies we all have to deal with,” he said.  “That we couldn’t all be together.  Evette, Ashton, Gordon, Jamie, Helen, Mary, the new Lambs…”

He sighed.

“My condolences about Jamie,” Lacey said.

Sylvester startled at that.  He looked at her.

“Both times.”

Nora looked up at Lacey.  For someone offering condolences, her face was very still.

“Yeah,” Sylvester said.  “Thank you.”

“Can I ask?  What are you up to, Sylvester?” Lacey asked.  “I know you won’t give me a straight answer, but a part of me hopes you’d feel you owed me an answer.”

“I might.  You mean here, right now?  In general?  In the bigger picture?”

“I’ll settle for any answers you’ll give me.”

“Right here, I’m enjoying the company of the Lambs the only way I can.  Teasing, sticking to the shadows, watching, visiting when I’m sure I won’t get a knife in the back.  I’ll let them, let you get close and then I’ll scurry away.  If it all works out, I hopefully leave you with little rewards and tidbits that will make the Lambs look good even while I escape successfully every time.”

Nora transmitted the message.

“You’re actually answering,” Lacey said.

“There’s more to it, but saying more would be telling,” he said.  He winked.  “Uh, I forgot the questions you asked.  What I’m doing right now…”

“And in general?”

“Living.  Enjoying life.  Missing people dear to me.  Trying to protect children.”

“By giving a lunatic reason to hunt them down?”

“I’m a complicated lad of complicated means,” Sylvester said.  He grinned.

Nora looked up.  Lacey wasn’t smiling.

The grin slipped off his face.  “This is a wake up call.  It reminds people that the children need protecting.  That the future needs protecting.  It’ll serve as a scare, and force certain people’s hands.  Already, the Devil’s old alliances are breaking down, people are questioning if he’s really an evil they can tolerate just because he’s the evil they know.  When and if the Lambs execute him, people in power will be more careful about what they allow to happen.  If the Lambs don’t, I might, depending.”

Nora continued transcribing.  The only real disadvantage was that while she was doing it and Lara was telling the others, there was no way for Lara to communicate to her.

Lacey spoke, “And in the big picture?  You threatened that you were doing something big.”

“I did,” Sylvester said.

“Would it be telling if you shared any hints?”

“Yes, but I’ll tell you anyway.  In the Lamb’s first meeting with Fray, she challenged me.  She asked me what drove me, what my core goal was.  It was belief.  Belief that there’s a better future.  A way out of the trap we’re in.”

For the first time, he made direct eye contact with Nora.  His eyes were very green, his eyelashes long and dark.

He continued, “And I still want that.  I still believe the Lambs might play a role.  And I actually have a way to do it.  If I fail, I intend to be the only one that goes down in flames.  If I succeed, I want to pull the Lambs up with me.”

“We’re not Lambs,” Nora said.

“Shh,” Lacey said, abrupt, as if she could shush Nora fast enough to cut her off, when the words had already left her lips.

“I know,” Sylvester says.  “I can see that, just from the way you’re put together.  Gordon, Helen and I, followed soon by Jamie, we meshed on a level almost right away.  I don’t see that.  And I caught some snippets of conversation and I put the pieces together.  Maybe you’re stronger as individuals.  Or as a pair, in you and Lara’s case, I don’t know.  But, so long as I’m given a choice, I intend to raise you newcomers up, not push you down.  And, just to ensure that you and the Lambs aren’t kept confined, I’ll let slip a detail, and you can tell the Academy you discovered it when I didn’t want you to.”

“Sounds too good to be true,” Lacey said.

“I’m a jerk like that,” Sylvester said.  “Mauer’s killing nobles.  I’ve heard rumors, some were being actively suppressed when I heard.  Now the nobles are readying for a move against Mauer.  I fully intend to get involved.”

“Could be a red herring,” Lacey said.

“Could be.  Tell them.  They’ll decide,” Sylvester said.  He straightened.  “Which reminds me.  I’ve got a nasty habit of losing track of time, and they’re due back soon.  And I can’t be sure where Duncan is, now.”

Nora transmitted the last of the transcription.

He walked past Nora and Lacey, deeper into the alley, turning so he wouldn’t have his back to either of them at any point in time.  He walked backward for the latter half of the trip, before rounding a corner.  He tossed the gas canister behind him, and the gas billowed out, protecting his retreat.

-Close.- Lara communicated.

But it was too late.

Lacey led Nora out of the now-hazardous alleyway and into the street, pulling up Nora’s hood and putting it back in place as she did so.  Nora looked in the direction that the message had come from, and saw the others approaching at a run.

I’m not as scared as I was, she communicated the thought aloud.

-Why?– the question came.  -How?  I’d be so scared, in your shoes.-

She couldn’t articulate an answer in the minute or so it took the group to run down the length of the street and reach them.

Lara, the one individual in the whole world who didn’t scare Nora at least a little, ran into her full-force, wrapping sleeve-clad arms around Nora.  Nora gripped her sister just as hard.

“What happened?” Duncan asked.  “Did he slip away?”

As Lacey began to explain, turning her head to note that the three girls were joining the greater group, Nora turned her full focus to her sister.

“You’re shorter than me, you know, you depressing little abortion,” she whispered to Lara, gripping her tighter.

“By two centimeters, you cockroach.  And you snort fresh rat poops,” Lara whispered back.

The two laughed in their own way, inaudible to the others.

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96 thoughts on “Black Sheep – 13.6 (Lamb)

  1. And, this has been an episode of Totally Sisters. XD

    Awwww: Nora would love to be able to emulate Lil. And, did Sy just put Lacey in honorary Lamb territory, there — alongside the newbies? I think my heart is a puddle somewhere. 🙂

  2. Nora and Lara’s banter is fucking RIDICULOUS. Also, if I was in Nora’s situation, I could see myself developing a slight crush on Sy.

  3. Huh. I like the new challenge. Find a way to raise up the newcomers, whilest opposing them and beating them.

    Which means he can’t do things in quite his usual, annoying as all get out way, can he now? Sy must be having the time of his life.

  4. I was worried for a few hours, there. 🙂

    Third-person Sylvester remains an insufferable prick, but these new lambs are pretty cool.

      • Sy is definitely being manipulative here with Nora.

        I can see why someone might hate Sy but in my opinion third person Sylvester might be the best character Wildbow has ever written. He is complex and mysterious. He could be a card carrying villain or an anti hero caught on the wrong side of the story. If Sy had never been the POV character I would still want to see him the most. Devastatingly Brilliant Wildbow.

  5. Extra thing I love in this instalment: Lillian, Mary, Helen and Lacey seem on the same “the Devil must die” page without a full-on discussion about going for it (I doubt Duncan got a word in): skipping from “should we” to “how” in record time. Sure, they immediately got that Sy manipulated them into this. But, wary of Sy’s reasons or not… sidequest “Revenge of the Mice” accepted. Devil goin’ down. 🙂

  6. I’d love to see a Twig tame of squad tactics RPG. You get some intro missions as Sy, who is completely OP, where you have Academy-set goals and some bonus happy-lambs objectives. Then Lugh, with three factions with conflicting goals and trying to balance them.

    Then the meat of the game is after Sy’s defection. You play as Duncan and/or Lacey, trying to balance the Lambs’ loyalty for Sy with your Academy objectives. At the end of each mission that you complete you get a list of what objectives of his own Sy completed. It’s always more than yours.

  7. I just wanted to say that you’re hitting this arc out of the park, Wildbow.

    Without our ability to see his internal monologue (And all the struggle and effort that comes with it), Sy starts reading like a force of nature every time he appears. He’s always seemed like a credible threat, but scenes like the one with Lara in this chapter make it so much less abstract when other characters talk about how Sy’s presence makes every conversation a nightmare. It’s a bit like Fray’s appearances in that respect, but the fact that we know how his head tends to work makes it even more extreme.

    It’s a great effect, and it instantly makes Sy a great antagonist in his own story. That the rest of the structure (Shifting viewpoints particularly) feed back into that has served to make this really engrossing reading. Thanks so much for the great work.

  8. Oh you awesome basterd you. How does Sy just come off as so damm cool here? I can’t decide if I see this as Sy consciously troping him self up as a cool af loveable rogue or Nora getting a bit of a crush and that colouring her narrative a bit. And the Sy-harem saga continues!

  9. I honestly think I’d be fine if the rest of the story played out from a different PoV than Sy. He’s just so interesting to read about from other’s perspectives, when you don’t have the benefit of being able to know his though process. Dude is such a smooth operator.

    I’ve been having issues imagining how he looked since we haven’t gotten a good description of him for a while. I kept defaulting to the silhouette of the banner image. Glad we got a nice description of him here.

    On a side note, I wonder what Lillian was doping up with before the fight? It’s clear that those arms are re-purposed for battle from her original meat suit idea, but muscle is heavy. I wonder if the drug was some type of strength enhancer, so she could lift them? She winced when she put them on, so I’m thinking she had to connect to something near the fingers. Maybe the drug coursed through her and into the arms to sort of reactivate the flesh so it’s movable again?

    Inquiring minds want to know!

    • She entered a den of evildoers known to use crazy combat drugs with the intent to take on several of them and came back without serious damage.
      Mary likely covered more than the lion’s share, but she was most definitely running on some general purpose boosts to handle that as gracefully as she did.

    • Taking a wild shot in the dark here, but it might be something to help her body interface with the arms? So rather than needing to worry about the weight, the arms basically move themselves at her command.

      • Yeah that was my second thought, especially since it seemed like she connected to them in some way when she put them on. It’s a really interesting way to give Lillian some combat ability. She also seemed pretty nonchalant when it came to “taking out” enemies. Clearly, she hasn’t been sitting idle while Sy’s been away.

    • Eh, I reckon the only reason it’s interesting and fun to read about Sy from other perspectives is because we know exactly what’s going through his head at other times. If the story shifted to an outside perspective all the time, it’ll lose a bit of that magic.

  10. I assumed she winced cuz it was unpleasant, like shoving your hand inside the uncooked thanksgiving turkey to get the guts out. And I ALSO addumed she injected herself with Wyvern. IDK i got this whole “she’s becoming the bride of Frankenstein” vibe where “Frankenstein” is Sylvester. (LilVester for the win)

    And yeah. It’s always more impressive to see the expert from an outside view. It doesn’t seem as cool when you can see all the effort, thought, and practice that goes into making it that smooth and seamless. Still, I don’t know about the REST of the story in POV, but yeah, it is pretty fun.

    And awwwwww. That part at the end where Sy made Nora a better person just by that brief encounter, that was so sweet. Honestly, I think Sylvester’s greatest power is his ability to make other experiments more human.
    Sadly, I don’t think that’s an affect the Academy can recreate, since Sy got that from experience, not experiments.

    Ooooo. That sounded good.
    “Experience, not Experiments”
    I like it…. feel free to use that Wildbow… you know, if you want. Not trying to sound braggy.

      • From a third person he’s a dangerous fugitive, who bombed a train station, is involved with the murder of a noble, stirred up a gang war and creepily watches them the entire time just to pop out to have an ambigious talk. That doesn’t seem very good, and the “worst”, the well intentions isn’t really noticeable that much from a different perspective.

        • “dangerous fugutive” =implying 95% of named characters aren’t dangerous

          “bombed a train station” = its clear now even to other lambs why he’s done it, we are looking at him at third person, not at how society looks at him

          “murder of a noble” = like, I have yet to see someone calling that bad, including a fellow noble.

          “stirred a gang war” , which he explains in this very third person in a way that makes him seem heroic if you agree, or unhinged but well intentioned if you do not.

          I can’t disagree in him being creepy, tho, but that doesn’t make him appear totally villainous in a setting when 70% of named characters are creepier, and that includes every faction.

          “ambiguous talk” = ambiguous in that, it either means he is a deluded well intentioned extremist, or a right well intentioned extremist?

          • While all characters are dangerous, it’s more often on a personal level, while Sy’s abilities make him dangerous on another level.

            And what’s the real difference between an undefined third person and society in this case. A third person is part of society and will have similiar values. And even if Sy made the reasoning for his bombing or other actions clear, that doesn’t make them any less perilous.

            He’s quite literally a terrorist, who believes in his cause and that all the chaos and suffering he causes, to both his targets and bystanders, is an acceptable cost, and that’s how others perceive him.

          • “another level” … like all nobles, Mauer and Fray? and the lamb project as a whole?

            “undefined third person” . Problem is, Wilbow does not do undefined third person. Also, there is a big difference between “Sylvester as seen by society” and “Sylvester as seen by a (even undefned) third person” : the second sees him IN PERSON. Meeting a famous or infamous guy in person and knowing him from his actions/work/whatever are very very different stuff.

            “quite literally a terrorist” – first of all, this word is thrown out too much without understanding. A terrorist is someone who uses terror against ociety to achieve his/her purpose. Sy causes chaos, but his attacks are surgical and meaningful in a way bigger than “creating terror” . Sy is a revolutionary – he wants change . Sy uses violent means for this change. Sy uses guerilla warfare for this change. Sy is also a vigilante. But Sy does not rely on causing terror on the population, at least not yet.

            “who believes in his cause and that all the chaos and suffering he causes, to both his targets and bystanders, is an acceptable cost”= sounds like a guy who would be rooted for by a lot of people in Twigverse. I know firsthand that whether such guys seem justified or not by the populance relies on how much the state seems justified for them. And the only named characters who liked the Academy and Crown were either nobles, doctors , or closely related to a doctor- even the most loyal experiments disliked them. So your description makes him sound like someone who would be rooted for by most.

          • Yeah, exactly like the nobles, or Mauer and Fray, but not the Lambs project. The Lambs without Sy are not able to cause such shifts to politics, technically they are, but without the guidance of Sy or Jamie they are not able to intentionally cause these shifts.

            And the question wasn’t if Wildbow would do an unspecified third person, it was how Sy is perceived by such, and if seen by a person or not, that changes nothing on his actions.

            Also, terrorism isn’t defined by spreading terror. I didn’t throw out the word, it applies perfectly to Sylvester. Several definitions of terrorism are: (There is no unified definition, but these all work)

            -It is the use of violence or threat of violence in order to purport a political, religious, or ideological change.
            -It can only be committed by non-state actors or undercover personnel serving on the behalf of their respective governments.
            -It reaches more than the immediate target victims and is also directed at targets consisting of a larger spectrum of society.

            And these all apply perfectly to Sylvester’s actions. Take a guess, most terrorists see themselves as revolutionaries or freedom fighters, and technically they are, from their own point of view. But that changes nothing on the fact of their methods they use.

            And I don’t see how a terrorist like that would be rooted for by any population. Sorry, but that you think that is quite worrisome.

            For the average person in that city, he just stirred up a gang war, poisoned the water supply, and bombed the train station. And no one can tell me that there weren’t caught innocents in there with any step, at least for the first two. And that doesn’t even include on how much the individual victims of him (that he aimed for) deserved this, or how many were like the Lambs and had only minor or even no choice in joining the gangs.

            So you would really root for a guy who sets your home town on fire, causes a gang war that probably brings violence directly at your front door, poisons the water supply (before you say anything, I know it was only limited in time and area, but I don’t believe for a second that only gang members were affected by it) and maybe responsible for death of family members or friends? Just because he says that will make a better world?

          • What I was saying was,we never saw Sy from an “average” third person perspective, we saw him from Nora’s perspective – and his showing was, frankly, almost exclusively positive. So would it be to any person he wants to impress, is not superintelligent and he meets in person.

            The definitions of terrorism used by you and some major information players (such as wikipedia) veer dangerously, DANGEROUSLY close to including any definition of violent revolution. So if these are the definitions, well, then terrorism can be a good thing.Frankly, I find these definitions disgustingly propagandistic, but hey, they are supported by major sources. Viva la terrorism then .

            Note that a big part of how people see terrorism (and, in fact, revoluion too) is, again, RELATED TO PEOPLE’S CONTENTMEND. Anyone living in a democracy will judge it negatively because, frankly, democracy is created so that such stuff are not needed, and such stuff in a genuine democracy are a genuine threat to human civilization and decency. But the definition used by major players would include, say, any independence movement ever (except maybe Gadhi’s), so we’d have no America and a much bigger England and Turkey without “terrorism”. Nevertheless, people there supported the “terrorists”

            Just so you know, there are people rooting for ISIS where it was created, and ISIS is pretty much the worst terrorist organization ever. Discontenment would make people latch to those they see as revolutionaries, even if they harm them. It happened to many independence movements and it happened in the french revolution, and it happened in the Soviet revolution. All people there fit to the definition of “terrorist/” you supprt, yet were supported for due to publicdiscontent.

            For the RICH person in that city, he just stirred up a gang war, poisoned the water supply, and bombed the train station.For the average person he is cleaningup the gangs that have ben preying on him, and that the Academy doesn’t care about, and uing any means necessary for it. Sure, some will hate him or it, but if he succeeds, most will justify him-and he has already cleaned house of most of the gangs.

            The water supply poisoning pretty clearly only harmed people near there, these being gang members, and was quarantined easily. Even if there was some spillage, he only gained a few haters on that specific area. The gang war will be rationalized by most as being the gang’s fault. Only the rich care about trains.

            Your argument about the gang members being like the lambs is moralistc, and has litle to do about perception of him by others. But either way, the lambs never showed mercy to enemy combatants and never wanted the same to be done to them, even though they would (and did) take advantage of it. Its non combatants, and especially children, they tend to not involve/save. (note that they consider some people who would consider themselves noncombbatants as combatants, e.g doctors, and it makes sense in the setting.)

            So if I was a poor sod, it was likely that I would root for the enemy of the Academy who fights against the yoke of the dreadful gangs in the town I struggle tomake a living in.

          • We never saw him from an average, but we can assume how he would be seen. The people in Twig aren’t fundamentally different, just some different values and experiences.

            The definitions don’t veer dangerously close to violent revolutions, they basically include it. That’s because violent revolutions are basically a form of terrorism. I mean, there are a lot of other factors, like the influence from outside forces or the political changes, but it’s technically a form of terrorism.

            And if you call a definition propagandist, the definition isn’t wrong, your own bias are the problem there.

            And I don’t see how that relates to democracies in general for this matter, or the contentment, while it may be true, isn’t really applicable here. Any form of revolution or terrorism is founded by people being unhappy with the current regime. That you tie it, or the absence of that, that much to democracies, that is propagandist, but not really the point here, so I move to the more relevant ones.

            Yeah, terrorists are responsible for several larger countries forming themselves, but that’s exactly my point. If they won, they were celebrated and celebrated themselves as the freedom fighters and heroes. If they lost, they were dangerous criminals.

            That people root for ISIS, or did for the french or russian revolution is the same point. And once again, not really that relevant.

            For the rich and powerful, his actions would actually be less inconvenient than for the poor, quite the opposite of what you’re telling. They can sit the gang wars out in their well protected mansions, probably not plagued by it unless the devil would want to do, for whatever reason and even then you wouldn’t be safe no matter what.

            For the poor, you would hope that you make it to your house in time, before you get caught in a fight, mistaken for the wrong guy and killed or similar horrible fates. You would hope that the fights just don’t get carried to your front door, or at least stay there and don’t come in. You may lose family members and friends in the fighting, and in the end even if the gangs did “get cleaned up”, just that someone else will use the power vacuum to establish themselves, most likely said one who made the cleaning? Sounds plausible for them.

            So he would only get a few haters for poisoning the water supply? Seriously? Would you be okay if someone poisoned the water of your hometown but it was said it mostly hit acceptable targets. Or would you worry that next time it’s poisoned it’s your water, or even worse, you fall under the acceptable targets?

            And only the rich care about trains? Once again, seriously? The same argument for the water supply can be made, because next time it could be something that’s closer to you, your workplace if you work in a factory, for example. Also, trains bring supplies, food, material. They are important for the trade, and nearly every city depends on trade to bloom.

            Of course my argument about the gang members is moralistic, but that’s the point. They all have family and friends, people that make a lot of the population and they wouldn’t think very fondly of the one who brought that much suffering over them.

            And the lambs did want to do the same to them, otherwise they really couldn’t have taken advantage of it.

            So, if you were poor sod you probably to make a living would want not to get poisoned, or to be blown up, or to be caught in a crossfire.

            Well, you already said that you support the “terrorism”, and that people latch to the terrorists just if their discomfort is great enough, even if they harm them. You basically answered it there yourself.

          • “just” some different values and experiences? just? JUST? excuse me, but that word choiceshows how litle you know about humans. Nurture affects lots of stuff. And once again, there is HISTORICAL PREEDENT based on this kind of behaviour.

            I call said definition propagandist because 1) it was created after the word, and 2) every teacher onmy university agrees that some words are hard to even truly define due to how complicated and nuanced they are, words that have been given various definitions by various thinkers. Also 3) because it villifies all forms of armed rebellion (it is OT my own bias, it is society’s , and I can understand that) . But as I say, these definitions, by definition, justify terrorism, because historically, by such definitions, oursociety couldn’t exist without terrorism. So, again, viva la terrorism.

            I tie it to democracies because true democracies have less bloody ways to change things, thus unjustifying, both logically and in the public eye, violent revolutions most of the time.It relates because the Crown is neither democratic nor makes people content, making people likely to side with any form of revolution .

            The French revolution lost, yet they are celebrated (even if, in some cases, it doesn’t deserve to). History is NOT written by the winners, its written by the survivors , by the historians and by our current sense of values.Similarly, several revolutions in third world countries succeeded, only to be hated cuz they replaced a tyrant with another, maybe a worse one. And besides, weare not arguing about morality or retrospect, but about public perception: all these revolutions were supported.

            For the poor its dangerous anyway. For the rich it upsets the status quo, but still, maybe you are right, maybe the middle class has it worst. But either way, for the poor he is cleaning his town, and while some may hate him, other will love him.Not everyone sees the world with the cynical viewpoint you proposed, even if it is the most logical, and Sy is the one protecting the kids.

            Sy poisoning the water supply would worry me… because I live in a civilized country , where war, violence and danger of me or my children being experimented by the state are NOT everyday things. You keep missing the fact their context is very significantly different. Even with this society’s values, I would root for him in that reality, if I was born there, I may have seen him as hope. Its not like the french revolution didn’t raise in support while doing worse things daily… oh wait, it is.And they weren’t nearly as justified in many cases.CONTEXT matters, not everything is 21st century civilization.

            I admit, not only the rich care about trains in general, but they are the only ones who care about daily trains, the trainstation will, after all, get fixed soon. Also, not everyone can see the big picture.

            Gang members have more haters than they have family and friends, and its likely said family and friends are in some way gang affiliated too.

            The lambs didn’t believe they deserved it, though.Tey believed it would happen.

            If I was a poor sod, I would bet on everything that had a chance of taking me or my children outside of this cesspool of doom and decay, no matter how risky. Remember, also, public education isn’t as prevalent on Twigverse, so aside from people with exceptional street smarts (mice and ex mice, mostly) , people cannot analyze stuff as deeply, and even if they could, they’d search for the best revolution faction, not villify it.

            yes, I did answer myself there, and your way of phrasing it is a great example of how this definition of terrorism wikipedia and other major info brokers use can be used to colour public perception by using buzzwords based on technicalities and de focusing from the real arguments.

          • How little I know while you insisted that people would prefer to basically live in a warzone because it might give them maybe a better chance at live in the case they survive. Nurture affects a lot of stuff, but nature remains unchanged, and even for nurture the Crown is from all we know an absolute monarchy, which for most part of history made most forms of government.

            And just because it’s hard to define doesn’t make it’s in any way propagandist, neither does that it vilifies violent revolutions, because it doesn’t. It describes them for what they are. Neither does it change anything that some societies are based on revolutions.

            And you make it sounds is that the only way any other form of government except for a “true democracy” is a form of violence. Especially because unless you live in Switzerland, there aren’t any other “true democracies”.

            Where did the french revolution lose? They succeeded in the abolition of feudalism and getting a constitution for the king. That’s far from losing and kinda makes your argument that I don’t look for historical precedent weird.

            While for the poor their lives might not be the most stable, they are technically are also the ones that make the most numbers of what Sy cleanses, the gang members don’t come from the rich families. Also, like you said, not everyone sees the big picture. Not everyone looks for the best revolution faction or villifies it, most people are content to stay with the things as they are. They don’t root for any revolution.

            The french revolution was catalyzed by a hard winter and a following famine, when people had nothing to lose and would starve otherwise. For the people there life simply goes on, gangs are a danger, but a reliable constant that doesn’t act out. Same goes for academies. They simply try to go through with their lives, as everything goes as they know. Not the best, but it could also be worse.

            But then suddenly their environment is basically turned into a warzone, would they really prefer that state because it might improve their condition? Especially because most of them won’t think that way, because they don’t even know that Sy proclaims he will make a batter future, so they only see that someone turned their home into a battlefield, without any reason to believe it will help. Once again, they don’t see the big picture and only the immediate environment.

            And I never said that anything there happens in the context of 21th century civilizations, especially because most people there are used to the academies and experiments, and see them as nothing unusual, and not the horrors like people today would see them. It’s you who says how great terrorism is because it lead to modern societies, not me.

            And your accusing me of using buzzwords or my phrasing, while yourself are using things like “Viva la terrorism” or trying to justify Sy’s terrorism because it’s just a violent revolution which makes everything apparently okay.

          • “while you insisted that people would prefer to basically live in a warzone because it might give them maybe a better chance at live in the case they survive” You keep forgetting context, how big the everyday danger is matters. Today’s peaceful society has made us forget- there are worse things that war.

            “Nurture affects a lot of stuff, but nature remains unchanged,” Exactly, and it is nature to rebel when everyday life is danger, torture and hunger propagatedby one’s own government. JUST LOOK AT HISTORY

            “It describes them for what they are.” No, it doesn’t, because they had nothing to do with terror. And while a learned man, like you and I , will clearly understand that terrorism=revolution=potentially good, with this definition, a less learned man will get manipulated cuz buzzwords are a thing that is a thing. TV and dictators has used lesser associations to manipulate

            “And you make it sounds is that the only way any other form of government except for a “true democracy” is a form of violence” Never said that. I said than any place that doesn’t allow the citizens to change stuff with more peaceful means is likely to incite violence, if the citizensare not placated. A partial democracy may fall into letting citizens change things, or it may not.Sometimes, even a king may change stuff to the more democratic, so its never the only way if all sides are willing to listen- it is , however, the only way if the authority figures are uncooperative, like in France, in Russia , or in the Crown States.

            The french revolution’s army got beaten, and the kings of other countries reinstated a monarchy and tried to villify it.

            As I said, some people will hate Sy, but most will love him for clearing the gangs

            “most people are content to stay with the things as they are” that requires complacency, which requires your life to be worse off by war, which isn’t how it works in the Crown States.

            The Crown states are catalyzed by forced sterilization and a plague- both implied to be the Academy’s

            ” so they only see that someone turned their home into a battlefield” some may see so, but most see it as someone finally clearing the gangs and protecting them from the Devil (remember, without top tier info, the Devil takes the bad rep for the kids, and even with the info, manny are likely to blame the Devil regardless”

            “most people there are used to the academies and experiments, and see them as nothing unusual” Just like eople saw the famine as something unusual. We have seen people complaining about the Academies and Crown repeatedly. If it was as you said, Mauer wouldn’t find supporters so easily, especially not in Radham.Besides, most people saw monarchy as normal cuz it was ancient and rooted in tradition- something the Crown abhors.Plus, being used for an experiment is abhorrent no matter the culture- some things in nature nurture just can’t change.

            Firstly, I only used “viva la terrorism” because one can understand buzzwords do not work only when he hits a wall of opposite power. Secondly, I never once argued Sy’s morality, except for them not hitting non combatants: YOU did . I argued public perception

          • Stop saying that I’m ignoring context or historical precedent, because I’m not, and I know that unless immediate life or future are threatened, people will always avoid war.

            And to cut this sprawling discussion short, because you always defend Sylvester and see him as good, no matter what atrocities he commits and this just goes on without any progress: Terrorism is an apt description for Sylvester, he fits perfectly the definition and he uses terror. And the definition isn’t in any form propagandist, and if revolutions fall under it, they are terrorism, and while revolutions may be “potentially good”, everyone tries to justify themselves as freedom fighters or revolutionaries, no matter how they act.

          • Ok, lets cut discussion short by agreeing we disagree, then.

            The fact that you still can’t see that I only once tried to defend Sylvester morally (and it was lukewarm, and I ever said that it was besides the point because you brought an argument that is besides the point), and the rest of the time it was an argument about public perceptions aka pr, not morality, means that we can’t communicate anyways.

  11. Wonder what the dynamic between Mauer will be now that Sy’s all defected. Also great to see Sy like this, really Wildbow, you’ve don’t great.

  12. See, Sy is the friend of all freakishly altered little girls everywhere.

    Now his conversation with the elder Lambs has the potential to be really interesting.

  13. They really amped Nora/Lara’s fear factor to eleven thousand, gee.
    Another bunch of poor kids with a terrible childhood…

    Also of concern, how could they even let her eventual mutation possibly do away with her voice ? Metamorphoses aren’t rocket science, dammit.

    • They aren’t? Well, technically they are not, but they’re complex. And we don’t really know how well-tested she is. Probably not at all.

      • Lol. Actually, when you think about it, in this version of the world metamorphosis would be on par with calculous. Where-as Rocket Science would be on par with Advanced Quantum Mechanics.

    • I’m fairly certain that at the very least Lacey wasn’t told that Jamie is still alive if the other lambs know. If she knew anything she would have been told not to mention it, because face it, Sy could read her like a book. If she said anything about Jamie he would know what she actually knew.

      • I base my comment on this line:
        “Nora looked up at Lacey. For someone offering condolences, her face was very still.”

        I don’t know whether I should read it as Lacey genuinely offering condolences to Sy for losing his best friend (twice), even though she kinda hates him, and he’s responded very badly to her showing pity in the past, or whether I should read it as her fishing for a reaction, because she doesn’t believe Jamie’s really dead. Lacey knows how twisty Sy is, so even if she hasn’t been told anything, she may still be suspicious.

        Also, this chapter was from Nora’s point of view, so we can only deduce their thoughts from her observations.

  14. Nora, Nora, I think that greasy creep Sylvester was violating you in his mind.
    Lara, Lara, I fear that monologuing weirdo was including you in his perverted ambitions. .

  15. Hi, wildbow, just wanted to say that I’ve loved all your stuff so far. I started Worm in June, and I just caught up with Twig now. Thanks for the awesome writing, characters, and worlds!

  16. I was kinda surprised when Lacey called Sy out for being on wyvern–I imagined he had to always be on at least a little bit, perhaps just to live, but certainly cold turkey Sy just wouldn’t be Sylvester. That’s what I imagined anyway.

    • She might have been throwing it back in his teeth, because he was talking about how she used him as a stress-test for Wyvern, despite the harm it’s done him. Like, “if you think it’s so bad, why are you still using it?”

      In the Lugh Arc, we got to see Wyvern dosages in action. From that, I think that the time directly after a dose is when most of the brain changes take place. Sy was very careful about what he focused on to keep, and new knowledge/skills to aquire, and what he could let be erased. Once he’s used up the “freshness” of this learning effect he seems to still have more brain-elasticity than a regular person, plus the accumulation of what he’s learned and kept.

      If Sy was to go cold-turkey, Sy would probably lose the ability to use the tricks that he uses to cope without the things he’s discarded. He couldn’t quickly re-learn to pick locks or throw knives, for example. Plus, I don’t know if he CAN quit Wyvern at this point. Withdrawal might ALSO be lethal, not just mentally-crippling.

      Wow; I didn’t mean to write an essay…

      • I’m also positive that he can quit Wyvern whenever he wants. He just doesn’t, because he’s terrified of being a “just normal” again. He ran away once, remember? And he only got “captured” because he gave up and voluntarily came back, so that he could get his drugs again.

        • I know that he doesn’t WANT to quit Wyvern, even if he could. The way I imagine it, though, if the drug is slowly killing him, and has made his blood poisonous, it’s got to have worse withdrawal side-effects than just losing his sharpness.

  17. Yes, i have finally caught up with the story.
    BTW, Wildbow, the schedule calendar on the right side is still on july 2016.

  18. Sy kinda comes off as a really pretentious prick in third person in this chapter (especially all the “those beautiful lamb girls and their dancing” stuff), but in an amusing way.

    I honestly don’t see how the other lambs are going to win against him in this situation. He understands them almost perfectly (since understanding/reading people is his whole deal), but the other lambs have never really been able to predict Sy’s actions. I’m sure they’ll put pressure on him at some point, though.

    These past couple arcs have been the most upbeat non-depressing arcs in this entire series, I think. Which makes me kind of nervous for when things inevitably become depressing again later. It’s been kind of sad seeing Sy’s potential for happiness when separated from the Academy/Lambs. I was expecting his post-Lambs period to be really sad/depressing, but he’s actually adapted to it really well.

  19. Nora is adorable. Her sister is adorable. Nora wanting to be more like the lambs is heartwarming. I find the idea of Nora developing a crush on Sylvester possibly the most amusing thing ever.

    I like seeing Sylvester without hearing his thoughts. Given a year or two he’d develop into some sort of Moriarty-lite, always in the shadows, working through skilled helpers and teasing the Lambs throughout as his plans come to fruition. I literally can’t wait for Sylvester to interact with the old rebel groups.

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