Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Machines of Shiloh 17

"The self can be rewritten.  The self can be reborn.  But the self can only belong to itself.  When the self chooses to be part of the group, it surrenders nothing: it adds, without subtracting itself.  When the self gives up itself for the sake of the group, the self becomes the group forever more."
Benjamin "Sighter" Savka
Journal Recovered and Preserved in the Nyx Incident Streams

I led us through the heartwood, my feet light.  The rest of the party kept up.  We were moving to a part of the heartwood I recognized.

The clearing gave way to three cottages, one which burned.  Woodsfolk rushed around the fire, struggling to contain and stop it.  I rushed toward them.

"By storm and heart."  The words echoed from my mouth.  Rainfall fell down onto the burning cottage.

Behind me, the rest of the Heartshields helped to pour water on the fire.

"What happened?" Garok asked one of the Woodsfolk.

The taller human eyed the halfling.  I resisted the urge to giggle.  Garok always took on such a self-righteous tone.

"Who are these people?  Deathwalkers?"  Hanael asked me.

"Oh, no.  These are Woodsfolk like ourselves."  I supplied.  I waved a hand at the nearby cottages.  "Long has the Heartwood been home to many wishing to live life by their own terms, not the law of king, god or country."

"Nicely put." Syren agreed.

"Deathwalkers came through, chasin' one of them fae."  The tall Woodsfolk said.  His left twitched, his dark green tunic stained with ash.

"We were hosting the Spring Prince," a Woodsfolk child explained.  "High lord of the Sidhe.  Promised us new growth for generations if'en we 'elped 'em."

"Felix!"  A woman shushed the child.  "These travelers nary want to hear your tales."

Hanael knelt down to little Felix.  "It's alright, miam."

/Li: w/Sam_Maenad: wow u really r awesome in this Lady Knight vibe

She continued, undistracted as I sent messages to the her player, Sam.  Hanael whispered something in Felix's ear.  The child giggled, then explained something.  Hanael nodded, then stood.

/Sam_Maenad: w/Li: Oh, I guess... Just trying to... um... 'do the right thing' or something like that.

"Nothing I think we can go off of."  Garok snorted.  "Spring Prince.  Really?"

"You don't believe in the fae, Garok?"  Syren asked.  "There are countless chronicles of their influence in the Heartwood."

"Yeah, but we've never run into any sign of them before."  Garok shook his head.  "Whereas, Deathwalkers appear, start a fire, cause trouble.  Simpler explanation."

"Felix tells me that the Spring Prince fears the Deathwalkers."  Hanael explained.  "And he is scared of bigger folk, like his parents.  But the Fae did promise him growth unbound in exchange for protecting him."

"'Growth unbound'?" Garok sounded skeptical.

"A charm, I think."  Hanael pointed at the fire.  "Felix dropped the charm into the fireplace by mistake.  The fire grew several times larger after it fell in."

"Why-"  Syren shook his head.  "How could he do such a thing?"

"More importantly, why would he tell you?"  Garok asked, cocking an eyebrow.  "I mean, didn't he just admit to arson or something evil to you?"

/Charon: w/Li: Who is Hanael?  Where did you did her up?

That made me smirk a bit wider.  Of course Charon would fall head over heels for the mystery of the new woman in the group.  He couldn't stand to not know.  This new character was conflicting often with his.  It was so interesting.

/Li: w/Charon: What makes you think it's a 'she', Charon?

"Oh.  I looked at him, he was a innocent.  And I had a gut feeling about him."  Hanael put a hand on her hip.  "Garok, I think there might be some sort of tie between this Spring Prince and the Deathwalkers.  I don't think they caused the fire at the Tavern."

"But the Deathwalkers always have death and destruction behind them."  I said.  "I mean, hence the name: death-walk-ers."

"There are stories about Fae in the Heartwood causing all sorts of mayhem, though."  Syren added.  He looked pensive, as if deep in thought about it.  "And giving a child a charm seems like the sort of thing they would do."

Hanael took the lead, her stance never wavering from a sense of command.  It wasn't tyrannical, it felt charismatic: one wanted to help her accomplish what she had asked.  "Syren, is there a place in those old stories that the fae liked to hang out in?  Somewhere that we could at least investigate?"

/Kensha_Bodhi: Syren, I'm uploading some notes to you, just going to take a microsec...

School always seemed boring to me.  We learned things, but I knew none of it could match the education those received for being connected to the Metanet.  I have had an excellent education, learning directly from the personality my grandmother had uploaded into our home's machinery.

"Oh c'mon."  I told Angela.  "That is wrong.  The textbook conflicts with what the holo was projecting."

"Well... I don't know."  Angela replied.  A mousy girl, I had preferred her because of her loyalty.  That and she had once punched my brother so hard he walked away with a bloody nose.  "The American Commonwealth's Civil War couldn't possibly have been over slavery.  States' rights seems like the main thrust of what was going on."

Sigh.  I crossed my arms.  "Of course it had to be over it, Angela.  Think about it.  It makes no sense otherwise-"

Down the hall there was a pair of screams.  Augustine was dragging a boy behind him.  A crowd had joined up with him.  The boy was trying to get out of Augustine's grip.

"Aug, honest, IDK!"  The boy struggled with him.  "I didn't know about Samuel, honest!"

"That machine never was my friend."  Augustine growled.  "I got away from his treachery in Roosevelt, just barely.  You ever been there, Aaron?"

Aaron squeaked.  He looked like a mouse caught in a trap.  He knew what Augustine would do.

"Poor Aaron." Angela observed.  "I... know that Samuel... was you-know-what, but at least he kept Augustine contained."

A part of me fumed inside.  This was exactly the sort of behavior we weren't supposed to have.  Yes we were human.  But humans were supposed to be superior.  Augustine just stood there, not realizing he was justifying every false claim Autogov made about our own self-governance.

"Haraam it."  I cursed.

"C'mon... lets get out of here-" Angela tugged on my arm, trying to urge me to come with her.

No.  I'd seen Augustine abuse over and over his friends.  They put up with it, but they thought Augustine had Dad's approval to do it.  He didn't.  My loving father stupidly thought his son was charismatic, not a terror that got his way.

No.  I wasn't going to put up with that.

Not anymore.

I didn't thunder over to Augustine.  I stalked over to him.  My brother didn't notice me.  Like the big lout that he was, he had become fixated on his prey.

My right hand took a tight hold on his hair.  My left held tight onto sharpened pencil.  The pencil was part of my art kit.  Even though most of the town regarded art as useless distraction, they still let it be taught in school.  The contradictions boggle the mind.

Charles watched me, his eyes wide.  He knew what I was going to do.  I yanked down.

Augustine stood three heads taller than me.  The idiot must also weighed a forty more kilos than me too.  So understand, when I pulled down on my moron of my brother, I put my full force into it.  As Augustine tumbled down onto me, I latched tight onto him.

I pressed the sharp pencil into his throat.  Right against his jugular.  Augustine gagged, letting go of Aaron.  The younger boy ran away, his common sense overriding his stupidity.

"Ack!"  Augustine's breathing grew rapid.  I held tight, as though my hand were pincers.

I whispered low into my brother's ears.  I kept it very low, so low I had to repeat myself.  It was quiet, enough to prevent others from hearing what I said.  "What the fek do you think you are doing?"

"My throat-"  He rasped.

"Shut the fek up, Augustine."  Venom dripped from each word as I spoke.  "You need to learn your place.  You need to learn to stop being such a piece of fek.  We could do so much more.  SO much more."

"Amy, you stupid little-"

"Finish that and bleed, jabai."  I replied.  "You're going to learn to shut up.  You're going to be nice, Augustine.  I LET you bully others.  I LET you act like your going to rule my town."

"What are you talking about?"  He gasped for more air.  "I can do whatever I want, Amy.  You know-"

"That dad doesn't give his left testicle about you.  Augustine, honestly."  I pressed the pencil deep into his skin.  "I'm willing to do it.  I don't have to act to impress others."

"Okay.  Now, you guys, I need you to watch the streams on the Nyx Incident."  I clapped my hands.  "It'll wrap up everything on the Unification War, especially since that is regarded as when the Last Renaissance began."

The students in my exam history class got up.  One or two of them hugged me on their way out.  I smiled.  I answered a few questions, but otherwise things ended as they had started.  Eight students left.  I had ended another session closer to my graduation.

/Aki_Academy: @Kensha_Bodhi: You have a visitor, Kensha.

"Oh."  I paused.  The classroom wasn't really mine.  Anyone could use it.  "Um, ok."

A tallish girl walked into the classroom.  She kept her eyes on the ground.  She must've been my age.  I couldn't get a good look at her face.  Her dress was a dark blue, with a scattering of black on it, looking like paint.  Tight to her chest she clutched a holo.  Her dark hair hung over her head loosely, enough that it covered a good portion of her face from my view.  "Um... hi."

"Hello... I'm Kensha Bodhi."  I paused.  "Um, I'm I supposed to know you?  Do you mind looking up?"

"Sorry... I'm just..." She coughed.  "I'm trying something different.  But we've met.  And I thought... um, that I'd talk to you first.  I mean, I hope you recognized me.  But maybe dressing up like this without sending a text or talking to you before hand was a bad idea, although Li suggested surprising you, especially after our dream the other night and I'm sorry if this is inconvenient, I just wanted to me you, uh, IRL, and stuff, to explain things and maybe um, hangout, you know, I need um..."

"Sorry, I need to process all of that." I smiled.  This girl was shaking.  I took her arm.  "Your name.  If we met in a..."

I paused.  The dark blue of the dress was the same shade as Hanael's cloak in the Heartshields game.  I looked her up and down.  I felt a bit of a embarassment hit me.  This wasn't what I was expecting.

I hadn't expected to meet her?  Him?  Zher?  I hadn't expected meet Sam in IRL.

"Sam?"  I asked.  "Is that you?"

"Surprise?"  Sam said, her face blushing.  "Sorry, I didn't mean... uh..."

Sam paused.  Then looked up.  "I'm trying to be someone new.  Sorry, Kensha.  Yes its me."

"Oh."  I shrugged.  "Okay.  So... I like this look at least.  I thought, wait a second.  Did you leave Shiloh?"

"Um..."  Sam winced a bit, like I'd brushed past something sensitive.  "Yeah."

"Oh.  Good.  I was worried about you over there... I mean, Shiloh is, you know..."  I tried to find the right word.

"Backwards?"  Sam supplied.

"Yeah.  You were augmented, so you decided to come all the way over here, to Roosevelt?"

Sam nodded.  She avoided my view, as if trying to find the right words.  "I did.  And I... I need a tutor, or so my Psych has suggested."

"Your Psych?"  I paused.  I checked my internal chronometer.  "Um, you hungry?  I think I need to get some lunch."

"Oh.  You don't mind if I...?"

"Oh c'mon, Sam.  We've dreamed together."  I opened the door for her.  "You're new here.  Everyone needs new friends, or so my dad always tells me."

Excerpt From: Mentorship: The Academy System, Education & Improving Learning
By Aki, Academae Spirit Roosevelt Hierarchy

The mentorship system, other called "Exam Classes" by students, radically shifted the core philosophies of education when it was introduced.  Prior systems placed an emphasis of learning as a process of pure knowledge.  Mentorship prefers to treat academic education in the same manner other arts had been taught for centuries: to pass a subject, you must be able to teach it to another.

Some past systems (including the pathological American Standard Testing system, whose death took so long to come) failed to recognize that rounds of standardized tests fail to teach.  Such excessive testing removes time for students to learn, and worse, it seemed to create artificial stress.  In non-academic settings, learning occured for centuries through different methods.

Apprentices would learn from masters by participating in the very thing they were trying to learn.  Practice in and of itself should be the best test.  Removing any sort of critical importance are tests was a critical step toward the Mentorship system.

Exam Classes were the latest innovation.  Although it is only a century or so old, Exam Classes took another method of non-academic teaching.  Students of martial arts for centuries found often that teaching revealed new insights.  Exam Classes do the same thing: students teach younger students in their favorite subjects.  Of course, Exam Classes have no real "pass" or "fail" to them.

That was the last problem of the old system that took the longest to remove, the idea that education was something that could be failed.  Eliminating that removed the last cruelties of the old system.  It helped to redefine the populace, making them educated for much less of a cost compared to past generations.

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