Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Rackenhammer »

The real world was indeed different from Fairy Tales, though it remained divided upon whether it was actually more mundane or even more strange. But they were alike in this; that no matter what weird and magical things were walking about, they could be bound by logic, and compelled to accept deduction.

Tamas and Consensus were something that few authors of fiction had tried to grasp the nature of, though some Zech could think of had tried. Reason compelled a certain course of action, however much instinct may rail against it. Still, one had to accommodate for instinct, or what some psychologists would have called the subconscious logic of the situation.

"As you have probably guessed by my actions, I am not at all interested in re-starting former conflicts. We must do what we can for each other, we who remember." He got to his feet, his slight smile gone now. "There are limits to what I can do. I retain a great deal of skill and power in magic, but even then I am not sure I could fully protect you with the wards I know if I were to bring you south now. I know little about your makeup, especially after the likely warpings time and the Fey have taken upon it. If I were to perform surgery, I would be likely surprised at what I found. Consensus made few of your kind, and none came within the University's power to experiment upon. I can bargain with the new Consensus as to your fate, though I do not know how much faith you will put in their word. Likely not much.

"But with all that understood, gentlemen, I think we may say that we have a deal."
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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Sade »

“Yes,” Moss answered with eager quickness, so as not to give Tamas a chance to say or do something stupid, “we have a deal.” In reality the construct could overrule him or ignore him if he chose, but as far as Moss was concerned, this was their best bet. Tamas might also choose to kill him, but he doubted he would do that. The construct simply hadn’t shown any inclination to cause harm in these modern times, and, notwithstanding his tendency to ignore Moss, Tamas had not threatened him either implicitly or explicitly.

“Surgery…” the rat construct shook its head. “Cutting into this body will not help me. Like Vedicus I am very large, with most of my structure and mass hidden from sight in a nearby pocket dimension.” He did not comment on his faith in anything Consensus might say; Consensus was the enemy, the disease to be eradicated. If they did offer to help, he could not imagine ever accepting it. “It is my hope that you will find others like yourself with the necessary expertise.”

“I will send you back,” Tamas said at length. “You cannot use the return spell you prepared. The rats’ northern frontier detection network came online shortly after your arrival here. It is sensitive to most forms of magic and would surely detect the origin of your spell when you passed through. It is likely they have noticed your absence and have anticipated my own actions, though I do not think they actually know of this place. I have been fortunate that Consensus learned so little about Fey magic in all this time, else even these frozen wastes would not protect us.”

“When you return, ask them about the fourth construct,” the rat suggested in a conspiratorial hiss, still convinced that their old foe remained as such and was duplicitous in its claims of reformation. He wanted to catch them in the act. “I would be interested to know what they tell you, if they admit to its existence at all.”

“Do we have any further business to discuss?”
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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Rackenhammer »

Moss understood that first principle of audacity that warriors and diplomatists used to great effect throughout history; that once an action is taken, furs are less inclined to attempt to revoke or undo it. Tamas, Zech felt, would not have otherwise consented to an explicit alliance with the dragon that included an implicit one with Consensus. Even now, he had his doubts, and expressed them in the challenge to question.

"Fourth Construct?" He asked, with a raised eyebrow. "I don't suppose you'd like to give me a few facts to check the veracity of Consensus' reply? We only picked up a few scraps of rumor in the days of the University, and naught else since."
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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Sade »

Tamas tilted his head to one side, “I don’t know as much about it as I would like, actually. I do know that the previous Consensus had been working on a fourth Construct incorporating lessons learned from Leviathan, Vedicus, and myself. You might think of us as prototypes. I have reason to doubt some of what Consensus had told me back then, but if they are to be believed in this instance, this construct was to be more intelligent than Leviathan, more powerful than Vedicus, and more cunning than myself. They gave the impression that the performance differences between it and us were rather… non-trivial.

“Such a construct would pose a threat difficult to quantify. It would be a truly horrific weapon. I am unsure how far along Consensus was at the end, but if this newly emerging Consensus is in such a hurry to bury the hatchet, one would assume they would have destroyed it by now. Why keep around something so dangerous unless for a sinister purpose?"
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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Rackenhammer »

Habitual equanimity aside, Zechariah was troubled by the prospect of a construct surpassing any of the three faced so far. On the other hand, there was an almost overlooked fact. "It wouldn't be the fourth, though, would it?" He asked, nodding towards Moss. "It would make five all told. Unless..." And here the dragon turned to the gerbil, a piercing gaze raking him over. "Perhaps you have hidden capabilities."
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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Sade »

“What!? No!” Moss wailed, cowering away from the dragon, “I’m just a Fetch! I’m alive, like you! I’m not a machine!” He thrust his hands at Zechariah, “cut me, you’ll see, I bleed just like you!” But he quickly withdrew his hands, afraid of the pain and realizing the futility of the gesture; Vedicus was a construct, and he could bleed. The gerbil glanced over at Tamas and his distress was magnified. The rat-construct was actually considering!

“…Vedicus did leave many Fetch behind…” the construct said at length, “and there was a Fetch named Moss at one point… but all the other Fetch were hunted down and destroyed by Consensus. You alone managed to escape.”

Moss’ eyes darted back and forth between them in desperation. “Yes I managed to escape, but maybe I’m just smarter than they were? Those other Fetch were just weapons! They did not need to be very smart or have any experience, they just had to follow orders! Vedicus made me to fool the Edwinians, so they’d lead him to Trolon Rief. He gave me a whole lifetime’s worth of memories, free will, the ability to make my own choices! I was just smarter than they were!”

“I’m not a construct! I don’t even know any magic! I’m just… I’m just a fur. I just want to get away from all this snow and live my life.”
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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Rackenhammer »

As Moss began freaking out, he would have felt a gentle hand on his shoulder. Zechariah was assuming his teacher persona now, calming down a student dealing with existential anxiety, as being in a magical University tended to amplify these normal crises of youth. The dragon's voice was in a calmer tone now, as if it came from a different person. "One of the main tenants of magic is that form defines function. That which has the shape of a fur will think and act like it; patterns of thought and action are forced upon it. You have the form of a fur, and were well-built, whatever you are. Fetch or construct makes little difference... except in the capabilities you have to maintain yourself, or in what you may do to or for others."

It was a little disturbing to Zech how much work it took to bring this part of himself to the fore; it had once been second nature. He had changed over these thousand years; perhaps not for the better. "I will say, your aura certainly looks more genuine than that of the Fetch that I remember. I'd compare it to Tamas', but the sample is by now far from representative." He finished with a wry smile.
"In any case, I have no more questions for now. I will do what I can to ensure your safety with my other associates and Consensus."
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Sade »

“We have all made sacrifices…” Tamas said, but whether he was talking about Moss, Zech, or himself was not outwardly clear. In fact it was an acknowledgement that much had changed, and that life- even the facsimile of it- was full of compromise and the possibility for regret. It was a rare moment of clarity and perception for the ailing construct.

Zechariah’s words turned Moss’ desperation into despair. He’d been firm in his belief that he was a Feilan like any other- his unusual original shouldn’t have been important, it was just a quirk. But now he wasn’t so sure, and the thought that he was just a thing, following the rules ascribed to it, was crushing. The gerbil retreated to a wall and sat against it, hugging his knees and burying his face in his arms.

The trip back was unceremonious. Tamas raised his hand toward Zechariah, and then the dragon was gone from that place of glassy ice and curved surfaces. There was a brief discontinuity and a sound like shattering crystal as the spell penetrated the rat’s frontier detection net, followed by a brief and fleeting impression of the curve of Feila’s surface as seen from high above, and then he was back in his office.

The office had been… thoroughly searched, though some might use the word “trashed.” Every drawer and cabinet had been opened, their contents strewn all over the place. The computer and other electronics were gone. The tiny footmarks covering everything, the toothmarks on the edges of every paper and every page of every book, and the overwhelming stench permeating the air left little doubt as to who or what had been here recently- and in great numbers.

***

The dragon was gone. All that remained was to wait and see what would happen, though Tamas was not hopeful for a good outcome; the only good outcome would be Consensus’ annihilation. If he had to cooperate for a while until Zechariah could arrange repairs, he would suffer in silence and bide his time. Then he would strike.

Moss, on the other hand, was less stoic. The gerbil was still down against the wall, sobbing quietly. Tamas watched in silence for several minutes, simply standing where he had come to rest and staring blankly. “Are you alright?” He asked at length. His cohabitant appeared to be startled by this. The gerbil peered up over his arm at him before lowering his head back down and slowly shaking it. Tamas didn’t say anything else. The rat construct just stared off at nothing in particular.
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Re: Enemy Mine II (Rackenhammer, Sade)

Post by Rackenhammer »

If Zechariah felt old before, now he was feeling practically decrepit. It was not merely that the old skills came hard to him, but now seemed impossible. His attempt to comfort and encourage only seemed to push Moss over the edge, and overall he could not see that his visit had accomplished anything productive, in the net analysis. He made one last game attempt, before he was to leave. "Whatever sacrifices are asked of you, let no one make you think that the decision is anyone's but your own. Construct or not, I can respect a free will when I see one."


He made the travel back impassively. Even the sight that greeted him elicited no outward response. He merely brushed the debris off of his seat, and sat down to think.
If there was anything that could lend credence to Tamas' assessment of the matter, it was this. In truth, the greatest blow to the dragon's scheme was not so much the loss of secrets, as this particular office had held the least sensitive in the databanks actually physically present, but it was clear that Consensus was not fully trustworthy, to say the least of it.

"On the other hand, a new Consensus logically implies a new Dissent." He reasoned aloud. He cursed himself quietly for not asking about that in the first meeting. Logically, it made little sense for Consensus to tank it's own diplomatic credit so blatantly, and he knew from experience that Dissent could act independently, to a degree. Where this left him, in terms of his next move, was doubtful. He could simply wait; if Dissent was responsible, Consensus would make attempts to repair the damage.

And yet... Tamas' paranoia was catching. This could possibly be an elaborate plot to secure secrets from two sources, first a raid, and then a pledge of faith against a fictitious common enemy. Clearly, some active steps would have to be taken to secure against both possibilities.

*Hester. I was hoping to be in a better position before talking to him, but there are few living furs with anything like expert knowledge in the matter.* Removing himself to a more secure position, he made arrangements to get into contact with the Yamanese tycoon...
Be Humble in Yourself, but Adamant in the Truth.

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