The Myrmidon (WIP) (Minor update 03/10/2017)

science-fantasy
gender-choice

#2126

I don’t know if telling him to not read anything into that is going to work when even I’m starting to read something into that now.

Though I don’t know enough about the good Mr. Gray to fully form a theory of my own… I suppose he’ll be… someone to keep an eye on.


#2127

Hi guys, sorry for the silence over the past few days, but I’ve been re-writing the section I was going to upload last week. Just didn’t like it very much, and I’m still relearning coding so its slightly slower than I hoped.

The plan now is to have a section up in the next couple of days, but in the meantime here is a little apology teaser starring Ser Farah and Princess Echo.

So…

Enjoy that:

The West Wing of the Palace contains the Royal Gallery, built into the upper belvedere looking out over the Great Lake. You’ve been dying to visit ever since you learned of its existence. You’ve apportioned a full hour of your day to come and peruse, with no attempt at social climbing whatsoever.

The best laid plans of Mice and Myrmidons…

As you float dreamily from portrait to portrait, you drink in the artistry and skills of the Great Masters of the Form. Here a Martlemann showing the bizarre intricacy of his ecclesiastical fervour, there a Schostovah from his famous ‘Oblique’ period.

As you flit to and fro, Ser Farah obligingly follows. Her eyes still roaming all the corners in search of particularly art-savvy assassins. However you’ve spent more than enough time around the woman to read her moods like a compass.

She is bored. Frightfully bored.

Who would have thought that it would be so difficult to enjoy an afternoon without chasing miscreants along rooftops or dodging bullets and bricks? At the very least she should have been glad of the opportunity to rest her poor ribcage after that fall…

Nevertheless she is clearly bored sick, and you feel a curious compulsion to do something about it. Coming to the famous Royal Gallery of Kadana and treating it like a tooth-pulling is verging on the bloody treasonous in your eyes.

Also some part of you wants Farah to enjoy the things you do. You know it isn’t necessarily the healthiest way to think, but you find yourself wanting her approval more and more as you come to respect her.

You try to single out a painting that might provoke more than nonchalance in her. Scanning the room you find the ideal contender: Idolban’s The Watchmen.

It depicts a squad of dirt-smeared watchmen holding the line against a rioting crowd of miscontents and rebels, protecting crowds of innocents recoiling in horror at the savagery of their fellow man. Surely that will provoke some reaction in the stoic guardian.

“What do you make of this one, Ser Farah? A most interesting use of perspective, wouldn’t you say? It really carves the scene into distinct zones of interest, wouldn’t you say?”

It takes a moment for Farah to realise you are talking to her, but she is not so crass as to utter a noise of confusion. She simply steps closer to the painting with her hands behind her back and seems to study it as intently as she does everything. After a long moment her lips curls ever so slightly. Distaste?

“It lacks realism, my ${lord}.”

Your own brow knits in confusion at this. Idolban is known for his dogged commitment to realism, in this going so far as to rent rooms and hire locals to re-enact the whole scene with support from the local garrisons.

“I can hardly believe that to be true, Ser Farah. How precisely is this painting imprecise?”

Ser Farah blinks, suddenly unsure of whether she should continue. Realising that it is you she is talking to, she shakes her head faintly and goes somewhat cold. When next she speaks her voice is dark, brooding.

“They appear to have left out the intestines, my ${lord}.”

You balk a little at this. Surely a painting is no place for such vulgarity as that. I mean we’re all aware of the barberous nature of combat, are we not? Is there any need to reiterate them so ghoulishly in something meant to be beautiful? Ser Farah purses her lips and stares down the painting

“Maybe he wasn’t very good at them…”

With that curt statement she pointedly turns around and resumes her scan of the room, leaving you to your thoughts for the time being.

How fascinating. She finds this piece distasteful but it clearly evokes something in her. You muse idly that perhaps you should gather her opinion on some less martial pieces when your thoughts are interrupted by a voice you are beginning to recognise as intimately as your own.

“My ${lord} Calinas! What a delight to find you here.”

Princess Echo and her ever-present bodyguard Dvorkin approach you, her pretty lips not quite parted in a coquettish smile. You remember yourself and mentally check your poise and diction.

“Your Highness, I trust the afternoon finds you well in light of these most troubling recent events.”

The Princess indelicately checks for people watching your exchange, but there are precious few people in the gallery right now, so she evidently feels that she can be somewhat more candid with you.

“I’ve been quite consumed with nerves ever since that dreadful business. I really must thank you again for all you did. I’m not entirely certain what would have become of me if you hadn’t turned up when you did.”

Her words denote fear but her attitude is one of nervous excitement. She has already managed to turn the trauma of her incarceration into an adventure rather than an indignity. Would that we could all exercise such feats of mental gymnastics…

“I thought an afternoon in the Gallery might improve my mood immensely, but what brings you here, my ${lord}?”

You see an opportunity for some mischief here, and smile winsomely.

“Actually Ser Farah and I were just discussing Idolban. She asserts that the honourable gentleman has a squeamish streak that limits his work. Weren’t we, Ser Farah?”

Farah’s eyes nearly shoot clean out of her head for a moment, discretely settling back into place before anyone but you or Dvorkin catches them.

“…As you say, my ${lord}.”

Princess Echo’s eyes light up at this revelation, and she turns to Farah as if noticing her for the first time (which is probably accurate).

“Is that so? How wonderful! I’d dearly love to hear your opinion on this piece, Ser Farah!”

Farah makes every effort to contain her discomfort, but you can feel it radiating off of her. You’re not precisely sure why you feel the need to tease her today, but some part of you thinks this might just be good for her.

“Your Highness is very kind to say so, but I am sure I could offer no insight of note.”

Echo dismisses Farah’s intransigence with a single wave of the hand, seamlessly joining you on your mission to pull Ser Farah out of her shell.

“Nonsense, brave Ser Knight! I think that after your heroic part in my rescue you have earned the right to speak your mind, don’t you agree?”

You immediately step to the Princess’ side and Ser Farah sees that she is entirely outmanoeuvred, she slumps her shoulders by no more than a fraction of an inch, conceding defeat.

“Oh Dvorkin, I’m sure you’d be bored quite rigid by all this. Why don’t you take this opportunity to peruse the rest of the Gallery? I’m sure that I shall be quite safe with ${lord} Calinas and Ser Farah, wouldn’t you say?”

Dvorkin raises a laconic eyebrow at his charge, entirely use to her indelicacy and resolved to do his duty with as little animosity as possible. Even so he shoots Ser Farah a look which she accepts, patting the baton at her waist subtly. The enormous blue behemoth sighs and carries himself to the other side of the room, placing himself on a bench just out of earshot but no more than a few steps from the Princess.

“Now, Ser Farah. You say Idolban lacks the grit to tackle subjects like this?”

Ser Farah looks to you with a slightly worried expression on her face, unwilling to incur a minor diplomatic incident over a painting she doesn’t even like. You give her a reassuring look.

“Don’t be concerned, Ser Farah. Neither I nor the Princess would take anything you said beyond the confines of this room. You can be quite sure that we could take no offence for an opinion plainly given. I promise no dishonour will come of a little frankness.”

While she doesn’t exactly relax, she does resign herself to the situation and resolves to be truthful.

“Well… Your Highness this painting was… made by someone who’s never been in an action like this. It doesn’t… It doesn’t go like this. Lines of strong-jawed heroes in shiny armour standing resolute against the demons and degenerates… It’s insincere. Something someone painted to make themselves feel better about something they ought to be upset by.”

The princess listens with complete and focused attention, her delicate fingers resting on her chin as she does so.

“Then it is true, you do possess hidden depths, Ser Knight. You say that Idolban has never seen his subject, may I infer that you have?”

Farah stiffens a little, unsure whether to admit to her own past. You for your part share the Princess’ fascination. One painting has allowed you to pierce that armour more effectively than a hail of bullets could.

“It is my misfortune to have been involved in situations akin to this your Highness, yes.”

Ser Farah seems to look at the painting again with distant eyes, seeing through the canvas to the street beyond.

“In my experience… in… I have been an officer of the law for some time, sworn to my city and the People. It is my observation that I have never met ‘The People’, your Highness. With riots like this… Well there were plotters, I will concede that much… But never as many as you’d have thought. Some had just been ordinary people who’d had enough. Some were young people with no money who objected to the fact that the world was run by old people who were rich. Some were just in it to get girls… Your Highness when you compress all these disparate souls into one place and put a line of Watchmen in front of them, what you get is just… panic. The people at the front are terrified, being pushed towards an immovable line of steel, shoved forward by people behind them who just want to slip out of the crush into a back-street. Behind them you’ve got people shoving forward, shouting their slogans and blissfully unaware of the impending disaster they are stoking…”

She huffs sadly, seemingly aware that she has gone too far now, but unable to stop. She wants the two of you to understand something you have not been prepared to understand.

“See, none of them turned out to be ‘The People’ after all… I’ve met decent men and fools and people who’d steal a penny from a blind beggar and people who perform silent miracles or desperate crimes every day behind the grubby windows of little houses… But I’ve never met ‘The People’… I’m not sure I care to…”

The long moment of melancholy seems to pass from the knight, and she suddenly regains some small measure of her earlier nervousness. You never stop being amazed at how this creature can turn from an unassailable Goddess to a skittish girl in the space of a sentence.

The Princess gives an intrigued “hmm” and taps her chin thoughtfully.

“What an advanced understanding, Ser Knight! You have quite astounded me with your insight. Quite some food for thought, I quite envy {lord} Calinas having you to keep {him} company. Poor old Dvorkin wouldn’t know good art if it pulled a knife on me.”

You share a titter with the Princess and send a look of sympathy to the still frozen Farah, who is working intently on keeping as still as possible until the conversation naturally passes.

“You are very kind to say so, your Highness.”

Trusting herself to say no more, Ser Farah assumes her ‘at ease’ position and makes it quite clear that she is waiting for new orders. The Princess (as ever) will not be deterred though.

“Oh, that reminds me ${lord} Calinas, I was wondering if I might call in on you at some point this week. I hear that you have recently met the Flautist Ty Barbair, and I should desperately like to hear all you can tell me about the man. Father won’t even entertain the notion of letting him play in the castle, though I shall not bore you with the tawdry details. Shall we say two days hence shortly after noon?”

Now it is your turn to be shocked. You had only set out to tease Farah but ended up receiving a private audience with the Princess, something that Mother will be ecstatic about. You smile genially and bow your head respectfully in response.

“Your Highness I would consider it a true pleasure.”

Princess Echo smiles sweetly at you, demurely clasping her hands together contentedly.

“Marvellous. I shall trust you to make the arrangements, as I am sure I have taken up enough of your time already. Until our next meeting, my ${lord}.”

With that the Princess makes her way towards the other end of the gallery, gathering up her bored bodyguard with a simple hand gesture. Soon she is beyond sight and earshot, and you turn to poor Ser Farah, whose eyes now threaten to fire themselves at you like musket balls.

“Why did you do that?! I can’t talk about art with a Princess! People like me are not supposed to be talking to Princesses!

The words are urgent but hissed through teeth gritted in fear. You remember the original reason you started this little game and decide to play just one more round.

“I think she likes you, you know.”

Farah’s jaw drops as if partially severed, and she darts her head back and forth for a moment to check for anyone who might be listening. She steps in close to you and whispers fearfully.

“Don’t say things like that! I can’t go around getting… familiar with bloody Princesses, ok? Your mother would have a fit if she even thought I was doing something like that!”

You titter amusedly and touch her arm reassuringly.

“Don’t worry, there’s nothing for anyone to tell. We had a nice little chat with someone I hope to get to know better, and we talked about art for a while as my faithful protector watched over us both. I couldn’t make something out of that if I tried.”

You know full well that you could, but clearly Farah has had quite enough teasing for today.

“Besides, you can’t tell me you haven’t at least thought about it, can you? I mean she is a Princess after all…”

Well… Maybe a little more wouldn’t hurt anyone…

Naturally when this scene enters the game, there will be more cutting-edge features such as page breaks and… um… choices.


#2128

Is Farah an RO along with the princess? Certainparties are…interested to find out.


#2129

Certain parties will be pleased to learn that Ser Farah is in fact an RO.

As is Princess Echo.

As are Ser Farah and Princess Echo.

Spoilt for choice being the operative term for this story.


#2130

Do all roads lead back to Arinthas?


#2131

No, not necessarily. I want to keep the three paths distinct from each other, and Arinthas can wait as long as he likes. It isn’t like he’s going to die of old age or anything. He could in theory wait decades before revisiting you.


#2132

Screw everything else. My mother had one of those so this somehow has me all giggly.


#2133

Well, i had to create an account just to say that:

I am dead on the floor mija.


#2134

It still begs the question of when Arinthas will rear his ugly head again no matter what path we go down. If we go down either of the non-Arinthas paths and he never shows up again, it kinda sounds like a plot hole, savvy?

Unless you’re planning on making a sequel later on…


#2135

Watch for the other bodies Ser Farah has left in her wake. I’m going to have to start putting a tarp down in here…

Sequel? Who said that?! Who’s out there?!

We’ll have no more talk of this ‘sequel’ business, whatever one of those is…


#2136

So now that I actually went and played what’s there I’d like to say that -so far- this is a lovely read with no real choices other than looks. I realize this is mostly a prologue but I’ll have to reserve judgement.

One thing I do need to speak out on however and that’s the use of the term ‘android’ which sticks out like a sore thumb to me. Historically, an android is a humanoid robot. May look human but it’s metal and electronics inside. The creation in the forge feels more like 3d printing a facsimile human. The proper term for this would be simulacrum, which would probably also be more genre appropriate (my references being stuff like Dune, Space 1899 or Fading Suns; correct me if I got this wrong). Or a made-up or repurposed word altogether. Humaniform, Approximate (of a human being) , Fleshdoll, Chariot (for a consciousness)… I dunno. Android just doesn’t work for me either way. Though with his enhanced brain my character kinda feels like Marvin the Paranoid Android.

Edit: Since the title of this WiP hints at a Greek motif how’s this for artificially created people?


#2137

I appreciate your reservation, and will be sure to take your thoughts to heart with future chapters.

Actually we already have a term for machine person in this story. Myrmidon. Hence… hence the name I suppose. The Codex will explain in greater detail, but Myrmidons were the soldiers of Achilles who were known (in some regards) for being able and willing to follow any order, no matter how gruesome. The word was revisited in 19th Century London to describe someone who would do anything they were asked, particularly criminals working for crimelords and gangs.

So they are referred to as Myrmidons, not androids. I believe the term android is used a few times in the Forge scene simply to acclimate readers to the concepts, as throwing specialised terms in too early would make an already complex scene needlessly difficult to follow.

Regarding this point:

It is meant to. There is meant to be a clear distinction between the human being and the Myrmidon, who are related only in the sense that they share a face. In the Rebel storyline this is a crucial part of the plot as your ‘rescuers’ come to terms with their friend’s death and your own similarity to that friend.


#2138

Hmm.

I haven’t gone into the codex in great detail, but is it theoretically possible for the Forge to recreate someone who has died? Or went through an “alternative” treatment like the original Flash?


#2139

I regret I have only one like to give, would spam you with them if it was at all possible <3


#2140

Theoretically yes, but there are limitations. You’d have to have access to that person’s body (or a complete engram of their brain, but that is a different issue that is not likely to be visited in this story) and they would need to have died a very short time ago. As in minutes for perfect recall.

In theory the nano-scale machines referred to as Dot-Tech can revive a human being that has been dead for up to three days as long as it has full access to the brain and spinal column (the processing power needed to do so is beyond any artificial intelligence operating within the Three Rings, so its not something that’s likely to come up).

The problem with waiting though is that things start to decay very quickly. While figuring out where everything connects is relatively easy and low risk when you’re talking about bones, muscles and ligaments, neurons however are a different matter. Miscalculate where one went and you’ve just forgotten to add salt to spaghetti and every meal you ever eat will be bland forever more (or, you know… your body forgets how to breathe or whatever…). Brains are both immensely complex and irritatingly personalised, so you can’t just grow a replacement like you would a kidney.

If you get it wrong, they come back wrong.

But if the brain can be scanned and mapped within minutes of death, preferably while at least some mental activity remains, and you’re going to bring them back just fine. Wait too long however and the risk of repairing the tissue incorrectly.


#2141

From Ashes We Rise taught me that not repairing bodily tissue correctly means you’ll come back with the ability to shoot fire at whatever pisses you off.

Frankly I don’t see the problem here. :upside_down_face:

Though I guess that pales in comparison to being a Myrmidon. Eh, I’ll let you win this time.


#2142

… I love that wip…cog version of Batman…I wonder when will be pickup again?


#2143

Oh geez, so many memories of all those searingly depressing headcanons about MC’s attempt to sacrifice themself in return to bring Flash back and all the possible ways it could go wrong… They’re all coming back to me now.


#2144

A bit late to the welcome back party, but what the hell? Welcome back, comrade! It’s good to see you and this WIP alive and kicking.

And you’ve brought us a sexy new codex to boot… Just look at all that sweet, sweet lore. It’s enough to make a man feel all giddy and whatnot. You do spoil us, you know. And you should also know that it’s deeply, deeply appreciated.


#2145

Somebody evidently dislodged my coffin and broke the arcane seal, and after feeding on the first few hapless construction workers I have returned.

I’ll have to reward that appreciation with some new content then, won’t I? Although I have to admit if I had my way the entire game would just be increasingly complex codex entries, feeding into each other in a never-ending Ouroboros of post-human confusion.