8FOLD: Mancers # 2, "Company Man"

Drew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Mon Aug 20 23:04:03 PDT 2018

Uff, and then repeated attempts to get back to RACC and being distracted by one 
goshadarn thing or another. @@ Let's see...

On 7/16/2018 9:46 AM, Tom Russell wrote:
> Theirs is the midnight war - theirs, the twilight destiny!

SUCH a good opening *.*

> -------------DRAMATIS PERSONAE-------------
> MAILE AKAKA, age 19. Aeromancer.
> The Company's top field agent and assassin, her memory has been wiped,
> and she now believes herself to be the leader of an anti-Company group
> of mancers called the secret circle.

Yay, full names and-- wait, she became the top field agent and assassin at 
*nineteen*? :o I hope we find out how *that* happened!

> LIEKE VAN RIJN, age 26. Doppelmancer.

That's a good word. X3

> Split into two autonomous bodies. Members of the secret circle tasked
> with gaining Maile's trust.

I recommend that Lieke makes puns on Maile's name. "Gee, Maile, what are we 
gonna do?" "Hurry up! Don't be such a snail, Maile!" That'll definitely endear 
you to her and not be annoying at all.

> DAVID COLLINS, age 30. Mnemonomancer.
> An agent of The Company. Unbeknownst to him, he is in actuality a
> member of the secret circle working deep undercover.

Ahhhhh, yes. :D

> David sees the woman's face, but he doesn't remember it; as he's
> looking into her eyes, he's forgetting them. He's tried to explain the
> dream to Trini, but he can never get it across, this sensation of
> forgetting something as you're looking at it, of hearing her voice but
> not recalling the words, let alone the way her voice sounds.

I feel like I've experienced that in dreams, or perhaps simply upon waking.

> He had
> started a few books, books which were perfectly good on their own
> merits, but only ever gave each of them a few pages or chapters before
> losing interest. He'd come back to them later, he knew, and would fall
> deeply in love with them.

Interesting. Is this pulled from personal experience?

> David was always falling deeply in love with
> books, but "Strange & Norrell" was less like a fling and more like a
> marriage, and it would be unsightly to take up with another so soon
> after their amicable divorce. He had faced pretty much the same
> situation two months ago when he finished reading it for the first
> time, which is why he immediately started reading it again the next
> day. But if he was to pick it up again a third time it would start to
> feel a bit like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton.


>     Without a book to fall into, David's thoughts turn predictably to
> work. Specifically he thinks about the question Bill asked him
> yesterday, and just how royally he flubbed it. He knows now what he
> should've said, and how he should have said it, and he finds himself
> now silently mouthing the words, and hearing Bill's response, one that
> is much more complimentary than the one he received the first time
> around, and now he's responding to Bill, again mouthing the words, in
> preparation for a conversation that will never actually happen without
> a time machine. Or a memory wipe.

Haha relatable. @@;;;
>     They got into an argument, one of those meaningless loose pieces of
> string that you both keep tugging at against your better judgment, and
> just when things reach detente, you pull at it again, until the whole
> thing is a tangled mess that can't ever be put straight again. The
> sort of argument that could end everything they had built together. In
> a panic, he stole the hour from her. She forgot about it, though she
> wondered for the rest of the night why her throat was so raw, and why
> her eyes were so red. She forgot, but he remembered. Sometimes when he
> looks at her, he gets overwhelmed by the guilt, and he wants to make
> himself forget, so he doesn't have to keep living with it. But he
> holds onto it instead. He remembers it on purpose, so that he'll never
> do it again. She deserves better than that.

Ohhhhhh. God, yeah, I can imagine panicking and doing something like that and 
uuuuuuugh jeez louise that's Viscerally Painful @. at v

>     David returns to the living room. Trini's standing in the hallway
> without a stitch on. David's eyes migrate, as they often do, to the
> mancer's mark on her abdomen, just above her fuzzy muffin.

>     "Well, I think I told you on Tuesday or Wednesday about how they're
> supposed to be merging Q and A across the board. Maybe they're giving
> the London crew the boot."

This is disturbingly corporate for this kind of organization. Good job!

>     David frowns. "I don't like it. Of course I don't like it, Trini.
> It's a dirty job. If I liked it, if I enjoyed it, if it all sat well
> with me, I'd be some kind of monster. But. I am good at it. And it
> needs to be done, to protect The Company, to protect us. And I do it
> humanely. I only take the memories that need to be taken. Is this what
> I wanted to do with my life? No. Is it something I can live with
> doing? Sure. For us, I can do this thing. And if I can move up, get
> more pay, not get my hands so dirty, then sure, I'll do that too. I
> want to do that. I'm working toward doing that. For us."
>     "For us?" says Trini. "Gee, thanks. 'I'm going to be a corporate
> drudge because I love you, Trini. I gave up on all my dreams and
> aspirations, because I settled for you.' For us."

Guys, sit down and talk about your feelings, _please_

>     "When you were a kid, what did you want to do when you grew up?"
>     "Does it matter?"
>     "It does," says Trini. She touches her abdomen with her fingers.
> Before she came to work for The Company, she was a surgeon. But then
> she was kissed by Venus. The police are still looking for her. "When
> you give something up for someone, they deserve to know what it is."

_Damn_ that's a good line.

>     David doesn't remember, of course. Pretty much everything before
> the car accident is a swirling, hazy blank. But Trini doesn't know
> that, so he lies.

Ohhhh. :o I wonder why.

> I wanted to be a spy, okay?"
>     "Like James Bond?"
>     "More like George Smiley.

"Carre created Smiley as an intentional foil to James Bond, a character whom he 
believed depicted an inaccurate and damaging version of espionage life.[2] 
Short, overweight, balding, and bespectacled, Smiley is polite and self-effacing 
and frequently allows others to mistreat him, including his serially unfaithful 
wife; these traits mask his inner cunning, eidetic memory, mastery of 
tradecraft, and occasional ruthlessness."

Interesting. Feels kind of like a Superman fantasy for David - sure, he fucks up 
and is under people's thumbs all the time, but really he's Amazingly Cool

>     "I know you do," says David. "And I wouldn't have met you, and you
> wouldn't have met me, if not for us both working for The Company.
> Confidentially, I got the better end of that deal." He smiles, like
> it's a joke, but he knows it's true; they both know it's true; he's
> seen it in her eyes when she thinks he isn't looking.

Aw sweetie. I wonder how much that's true and how much that's David's own anxieties.

> "You've changed
> my life profoundly. You've changed who I am. So, when I say that I can
> do this, and that I can do this for us, that's not me settling, or
> giving up on what I want to do with my life. Because this. You, me.
> This is what I want to do with my life. This, right here, right now.
> This is what matters. This is all that matters." He kisses her cheek.

Yeesh. ^^; That's gonna be awkward when he gets his memories back.

> Ten minutes later, when he gets to the London office, David is asked
> to wait in a tiny little room with a bare white table and two folding
> chairs. Well, that's weird, but okay, whatever. It's very warm in the
> room. He's alone in there for a good ten minutes, sweating like a pig
> while holding a fruit that smells like raw sewage.

Feels like a sort of Kafka/The Prisoner thing.

> She's very polished, uber-professional: long black hair tightly
> coiled into a bun, dark green jacket and skirt that improbably matches
> the color of her umbrella.


>     "Impromptu pizza party?"
>     She looks confused for a moment, then gives a little nod of relief.
> "Oh, you're trying to be amusing and ingratiating. I see." She smiles,
> as if trying to smile for the first time in her life, and decides that
> she doesn't like smiling.

This is a series of good lines. X3

>     "I'm being confrontational? I don't even know who you are and
> you're asking me... wait, why don't I know who you are? I should have
> asked you right when you came in the door. Why didn't I ask you?"
>     "Mild glamour effect, with a smidgen of authority for flavor," she
> says. "Confuses the senses. Good for interrogations. You're actually
> about to forget about it all over again."

Oh snap!

>     "Let's talk about something else, David. Have you ever experienced
> a loss of memory?"
>     "What do you mean?"
>     "Have there ever been periods of time that you've forgotten?"
>     "No," says David. "This is silly. How can I remember forgetting something?"

I mean, contextually o3o

>     "You'd be surprised. Do you know what darkness is, David?"
>     "That's... that's a legitimately creepy question."


>     "Lots of people are scared of the dark, of course. But that's
> silly. It's silly because of the answer to my question. Do you know
> what darkness is? Nothing. There's no such thing as darkness. It's
> only the absence of light." The white walls of the room start to glow.
> Claire is glowing too. (Her name is Claire. How does he know that...?)
>     "And forgetting," she continues, "is merely the absence of memory.
> You can measure the darkness by looking for light. You can measure
> your amnesia by trying to remember."


>     "Well, this is all very disorienting and very Zen," says David. "I
> don't know if this is the best use of my Saturday morning." He gets up
> out of his chair and walks around the table, and opens the door. Then
> he's sitting down, and the door is closed.

That's surprisingly flippant for the situation.

>     "Maile Akaka has run away," says Claire. "She became extremely
> disoriented. She forgot who she really was, and forgot how to control
> her magic. Several of our anti-men died trying to protect her from
> herself."

Or *did* they?

>     David suddenly feels another mouth pressed against his. Claire's
> mouth, only she's over there, on the other side of the table, staring
> at him with that same cold bemused expression. His agitation fades
> away immediately. He feels calm and sleepy.

:o *WOW* That's an intense set of sensory details.

>     "But I'd remember that," says David.
>     "Not if you wiped your own memories," says Claire. "So, I will ask
> you again: are there periods of time that you can't account for?"
>     David stares at her, then nods.

>     "This isn't your fault, David," says Claire. "You're the victim
> here, as much as Maile is. The Company is going to fight on your
> behalf. I'm going to fight on your behalf. And I think you'll find
> that I'm a great person to have in your corner."

What a fucking manipulator. Excellent job! <3 <3 <3

>     "Unfortunately, we can't let the enemy know that we're on to them,"
> says Claire. "So, I'm going to need to wipe this entire conversation
> from your mind. I'm sure you understand."

And of course that puts this "we are on your side" pitch outside of conscious 
memory, where it can be engaged it, burying it deep in the land of unquestioned 

>     Lydia tugs at Claire's bun, letting the long silken threads cascade
> down. Idly, she runs her fingers through her hair. "So, I guess my
> question is, why are we letting him live? The obvious solution when
> someone is working for the enemy is to eliminate him. Before he does
> it again. Before he does it worse. Umbrella. Now."
>     Claire reluctantly tosses her umbrella onto the small sofa in the
> corner of the office. Without it, she's unable to draw on the mystical
> energies of other mancers; she's utterly powerless. She tries not to
> focus on that.

There's a lot of really intense power dynamics in this series, and it feels 
almost like it's running on the emotions that fuel BDSM, though I'm sure that's 
just subtex--

> "If he is a long-term sleeper agent, the enemy is
> unlikely to use him again so soon. Because that will set up a pattern,
> and draw attention to himself. They still think they got away with it.
> They have no idea we're on to them. That gives us an... edge." She
> shudders as Lydia's fingers brush against her breasts.

ah o#o

>     She wants to sigh, to shudder, to hum and to moan. To laugh and to
> giggle. To scratch the itch. The itch that demands to be scratched,
> and scratched hard. But she will get no relief while her body belongs
> to Lydia, no matter how desperately she wants it. She knows that.


>     Claire's pulse and respiration begin to slow, and with it, the
> giddiness. What remains behind is a mild, sweet anxiety, and a lovely
> blush of shame.
>     After ten minutes, Claire feels her muscles return to her own
> control. "May I move now, Miss Black?"
>     "Hmm?" says Lydia absent-mindedly. "Yes, go ahead."

Heeheehee. ^#^ Lovely.

Drew "always very nice to see" Perron

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