Societas Imperialis Sceptri Coronaeque

The Imperial Society of Scepter and Crown.

    "Explain Yourself"

    Aria Jenneth

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2016-06-13

    "Explain Yourself"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:49 am

    So-- for my penance, for bringing trouble down on the Directrix and the corporation, I've been asked, basically, to explain myself, and what happened, and how.

    It's a fitting penance, I guess. It'll certainly have me thinking over what my mistakes really were.

    The parts of this that are most clearly visible are those surrounding "The Butcher's" retirement, and the efforts to save his victims that followed, but, in terms of mistakes made, the real beginning of this incident came before Nauplius, in the aftermath of the Directrix's fishing trip off Lord Iyhr's holdings at Tzvi.

    To say that the near-miss on the Directrix's life rattled me is really understating the case. Her would-be assassin had come up with the most harebrained scheme to essentially feed the Directrix to a giant squid, and she came horribly close to succeeding. Instead she ended up eaten, herself. The Directrix, however, lost an arm to a severed cable.

    Worst of all, I knew of the threat. I could have recognized the assassin by sight if I'd just checked the crew before we boarded. Because I hadn't done due diligence on the crew, I'd failed to protect the Directrix and failed to capture the assassin-- and I got out with a little light bruising.

    Worst. Bodyguard. Ever.

    The whole business left me in a pretty low place. I offered the Directrix's daughter Maria my life, which, she (eventually) refused. I'm not sure there's any world in which she'd have accepted (she certainly implied that there was). Either way, I'm not sure the Amarr understand what this principle is to more Caldari-ish people. (We don't offer this sort of thing because we want to die; we offer it because we don't. It's about taking responsibility, not avoiding it.)

    Anyhow, I'd been turned down, as expected, and was feeling about ten centimeters high, when I happened to glance at my local assets and saw a few slaves.

    Something I should stress: the Societas is not abolitionist. ... I kind of am, though. Achura and Caldari don't take slaves, and say what you like about "wage slavery," it's not really the same thing as having a collar snapped around your neck and being at the mercy of someone who's fully aware that they get to do anything they want to you with little oversight. Being from a bloodline (well, half) that would be considered "exotic" basically anywhere other than planetside Achura or SuVee corporate HQ might have a little something to do with me being extra-twitchy on this subject. Samira might think I'd be better off in a collar, but I'm pretty sure nobody's going to put in the high bid on me for my brain, much less a strong back, and what followed would likely be really spiritually unenlightening (try "horrid and degrading"). Seeing what happened to Lady R'kard ("Goldfinch") just makes me squirm.

    (But she was freed, you might protest. Not only that, she was ennobled-- her master married her. She has slaves of her own. Suuure she was, I reply, practicing my sarcasm. And if she were to try to leave him, to go and live her own life as an independent and free woman, I'm sure that nothing at all bad would happen to her as a result, right?)

    I stay here in spite of the Reclaiming, and the systems and policies surrounding it, not because I believe in them. So, finding out that I owned slaves? Who I hadn't known about? Who'd inevitably been locked in a hangar, forgotten, for years?

    I spent a few minutes panicking, then did a search of my assets. It turned out I had others-- about fifty, all told, scattered across Amarr space. I couldn't stand to look at the details; I just sent orders to make sure they were extra-well looked-after for a few days and waited for the Directrix to wake up.

    That was a cowardly thing for me to do, really, and the Directrix, when she did wake up, declined to take the problem off my hands. The slaves weren't even Amarrian. My history (with the Angel Cartel), my slaves, my amnesia, my problem. So, after a couple more days dithering over what to do, I contacted the one person I was really sure would take an interest.

    Mizhara "Miz" Del'thul is a lot of things. "Subtle" is not one of them, especially about political matters and especially-especially about slavery. (And yet she works for the Serpentis, who are an Angel Cartel client-power, and the Cartel is who I probably acquired the slaves from in the first place. Maybe she's subtler than I gave her credit for? But whatever.) If anybody would be able to make my moral horror show disappear into a more-or-less happy ending it would be her.

    That? That wasn't a problem. That wasn't, I maintain, actually a mistake. Miz and I made a sweep, I transferred my luckless "property" to her at each stop, and-- here's the mistake-- we chatted along the way.

    Miz has this very black and white view of reality. Substantially, she doesn't think there's any such thing as being "good" and loyal to the Empire, because: slavery. I think she kind of damages her own cause (which, mind, I'm personally sympathetic to) by holding to this kind of view. If you can't allow room for change from within, you're stuck trying to impose it from the outside, and that leads pretty readily to loggerheads, all-out war, and an age of dust and ashes presided over by whichever outer power manages to do the best job looting the wreckage. Not, probably, what Miz, or hopefully anyone else in any core empire, wants to see happen.

    So, I try to talk Miz around to an understanding that there might really be a chance for change from within the Empire.

    During our most recent bout of handling Nauplius's victims, Directrix Daphiti had taken primary charge of the effort to aid the survivors. I was only involved to a very limited degree, but I saw the effect it had. It wore on her, visibly. By the end, she looked tired right down to her soul (a feeling I can really relate to, in hindsight). There had been other, related experiences since, which I also saw but won't go into here. It was plain to me that the Directrix really, honestly, seriously saw slaves as fellow human beings, and, more than that, saw the harm slavery could do. It was one of the reasons I had been willing to enter service to her, personally, to begin with.

    So, when trying to persuade Miz that there were people in the Empire who might help to bring the practice of slavery to an end, without the need for war, it was naturally the Directrix who came immediately and most forcefully to mind. Whether through my own somewhat battered emotional state or simple lack of foresight, I didn't see this as an especially dangerous thing to express.

    And so, before I ever learned that Nauplius "The Butcher" was retiring, I spoke a thing I should not have spoken-- a small betrayal that laid the groundwork for the confrontation that would follow.
    Aria Jenneth

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2016-06-13

    Re: "Explain Yourself"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:30 am

    Nauplius. Oh, where to begin?

    People tend to have this kind of nonplussed reaction when I say I don't hate Nauplius, like they can't figure out what to say. On the one hand, not hating people-- that's basically good, right? Hatred isn't something most people think of as an admirable quality. It interferes with clear thinking and causes trouble. Self-perpetuating dynamics of mutual hatred and revenge are responsible for probably an outsized portion of the world's misery.

    So, normally, hatred is something we look at as understandable, but sad, not something desirable.

    On the other hand-- it's Nauplius, The Butcher. If I mention not hating him, there's this kind of this unspoken moment of, "Wait, really?" like, "Don't you know what he's done?" or "Isn't he the guy who murdered a million people on each of the one-year and two-year anniversaries of the first time he murdered a million people?"

    If there was ever anyone it was going to be a virtue to hate, it would be him. If you don't hate him, the feeling seems to be, there's something wrong with you. Are you human? Do you really have emotions? Are you sure?

    But, I don't hate anyone, at least not for long. And, well, "anyone" includes Nauplius. I've hated him the way I hate anyone-- while the wounds are fresh, and the pain of it is too much for me to see through with clear eyes.

    Admittedly, it's been a little more frequent, with him. And maybe longer lasting, as you might expect for someone dedicated to spreading suffering. But....

    It's not like Nauplius is past understanding. His perspective on God and the world is just all upside-down and inside-out, and he can't seem to think of himself as a fragile, fallible person. "Maybe I made a mistake" isn't something that he seems to be able to think very easily at all. So-- his God, and what he thinks God should be, kind of converge. He thinks he understands God, so his God is one he's capable of understanding.

    Nauplius hates the Minmatar; therefore, God must hate the Minmatar. Nauplius is horrified at the debauchery going on in pleasure hubs; therefore, God must be likewise horrified. God is Nauplius, only on a divine scale, with all human frailty stripped away.

    Even if that means making God something so horrible that, if He existed, there'd be no hope for the world.

    So-- in my clearer moments, I don't think of Nauplius as someone detestable. I think of him as someone really, profoundly sad. He's not someone to hate, any more than a flood or a hurricane is worth hating.

    He's a landslide. He's a fire. He's a chemical spill. He's something to get people away from.

    Also, he's really, really lonely.

    (Being horrible to people seems to sort of lead to that.)

    That Nauplius was (and probably is) attracted to me has been obvious for a while. Aside from occasionally featuring me in his fevered imaginings, he made a pretty sustained effort to coax me away from the Societas and into doing a "Sojourn: Sani Sabik," likely out of a belief that if I tasted the power of his "truth" I'd never go back.

    I wasn't the only one who noticed this, either. At one point someone even approached me, proposing to marry me to Nauplius as method of getting me close enough to him to do him in.

    (I have no reason to think I was the only woman he found attractive. As noted, he was lonely, and maybe not very selective.)

    Anyhow, it wasn't really a surprise when he admitted to Directrix Daphiti that he was smitten with me. The Directrix's instruction that I should avoid personal meetings with Nauplius struck me at the time as a reasonable precaution-- but, even at that point, I kind of doubted he'd harm me, given the chance. He thought of himself as a holy man, after all, and of sex as something profane.

    What did come as a surprise was the point where he admitted to me that he had about thirty thousand people in his possession ... and, since he was retiring, didn't know what to do with them.

    (The Butcher, the man who annually murders a million people and not only doesn't seem to feel bad about it but celebrates it, has thirty thousand people in his possession and doesn't know what to do with them?)

    I wasn't sure whether he was having second thoughts about a career as a professional mass-murderer or whether the neural cluster responsible for answering such questions with, "The usual," was just taking a nap after lunch, but, hardly daring to hope, I asked what it would take for me to take them off his hands.

    "A hug," he replied.

    Bearing the Directrix's warning in mind, I did try to offer a brush painting drawn in my own blood, but, no, he wanted a hug.

    (Add "fair trade for a hug" or else "bait for a trap" to Nauplius's list of possible things to do with thirty thousand people.)

    What is the priority, faced with a mudslide, a fire, a flood?

    If you have it in your power, you get people away from them, even if you have to wade into them, yourself, to do it. So long as you think you have the power to wade back out again.

    Last edited by Aria Jenneth on Sat Jun 18, 2016 1:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Aria Jenneth

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2016-06-13

    Re: "Explain Yourself"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Thu Jun 16, 2016 6:05 pm

    Hugging Nauplius was the easy bit, especially in retrospect, but even at the time.

    It was simple. It was straightforward. I had a mission to emerge from Nauplius's chambers alive, unharmed, and in custody of thirty-odd thousand of his captives, and the highest odds of success lay in simply sticking with the deal, letter and spirit. The Butcher was a complete gentleman, and the most challenging thing about hugging Nauplius was making the decision to go in the first place.

    Thus did I secure for us an instant humanitarian crisis.

    The Nauplius method of slave ownership is a many-splendored horror as written by a merciless hack. Substantially, any method of control and subjugation reputed to be particularly cruel, essentially the list of horribles any Gallentean activist can rattle off on the evils of Amarrian slavery, Nauplius doubles, triples, and quadruples-down on: TCMCs, Vitoxin, brainwashing, savage beatings. The idea is to treat the captives as though they were already in Hell, but Nauplius himself isn't a very creative soul, nor does he really understand the precise nature of the "torments" himself, so any little bit of creativity was left to his underlings.

    Sadly, he did have some kind of creative underlings. The results were horrific, and probably will continue to haunt every survivor for the rest of their lives. At the time, though, most of these minions' handiwork wasn't immediately a major issue because the Vitoxin would make everything else moot if we couldn't address it.

    We'd run into Nauplius's people's methods before: multiple strains of Vitoxin per slave, including at least one strain that had been developed in-house for the specific purpose of making the victim extremely difficult to treat. Since our success in dealing with the victims of a prior tower, The Butcher had ordered additional "Vitoc-stuffing," which meant more strains and more trouble per victim.

    This was pretty manageable if we rescued a few slaves at a time. Thirty-three thousand is an awful, awful, awful lot of people, though. It's not a city; it's pretty modest even for a town. It's a pretty big refugee camp, though. They can fit comfortably aboard a Charon-class freighter, but there won't be all that much extra space if you load them all aboard at once. I know that, because it's what we had to do in order to get everybody to Gottin's Lamp.

    A few other things that thirty-three thousand Vitoxin-infected people can do:

    * Outnumber regular Gottin's Lamp on-duty medical staff by three orders of magnitude

    * Occupy the better part of two full hangar bays annexed onto Medical

    * Consume astounding amounts of food and water, and produce at least equally astounding amounts of liquid and solid waste

    * Run your security personnel absolutely ragged, along with any other kind of personnel you might happen to have

    * Assuming it takes one minute to acquire biological samples from each, require 550 man-hours to take a single run of medical samples from

    * Swallow every bit of energy and compassion you personally can throw at them as a storm-tossed sea swallows a pebble

    * Start developing minor Vitoxin symptoms within 24-48 hours, leading to widespread fear, panic, and potentially, riot. This will make every existing problem worse

    * Demand ever-increasing amounts of care, requiring close monitoring and constant supervision once Stage 2 symptoms set in

    * Display an amazing array of psychological complexes and traumas before you take into account any still-active TCMCs or Vitoxin-induced hallucinations

    * Stand as maybe the most interesting thing a random social communications channel has to talk about for at least a week

    * Attract multiple brands and breeds of sympathy and compassion from multiple cultures and perspectives. This will initially be helpful....

    * Require you to mostly accept help where you can find it, or make you feel like you have to, or, at least, that's how it had me feeling

    And so, amid the sounds of suffering on a massive scale, the stage is set for further troubles.
    Aria Jenneth

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2016-06-13

    Re: "Explain Yourself"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Sat Jun 18, 2016 6:14 pm

    "What I am disappointed by is that you've lied to me. Directly."

    If you ever want to upset me, saying something like that is a good way to do it.

    I'm often wrong, but I don't lie much, if at all. This is partly principle, but also partly pragmatism. A reputation for integrity tends to be helpful in winning trust, and lies tend to be a little delicate. Truth (even partial truth) has this helpful way of being a little hard to disprove.

    The Directrix tells me I'm a bad liar, anyway. I can't remember having lied to or around her, but then, I can't really remember having lied to anyone in the first place. I'd like to think I'd have noticed, if I had. I might even be kind of an extremist about this. People lie. ... I would, I'm sure, if I had to. It's integrity I prize, which is a little different from honesty. I don't remember having actually lied to anyone, though.

    But ... I'd been telling a partial truth loudly, and often, when Miz said that thing to me.

    The partial truth goes like this: Nauplius the Butcher acquires most of his slaves legally from slave markets in the Empire. The Amarr look on slavery as a form of spiritual apprenticeship, and someone who has suffered terribly under a horrible Sani Sabik slavemaster won't necessarily be freed for that reason only. The Societas Imperialis Sceptri Coronaeque is a law-abiding Amarrian corporation, and will live up to its duties under the law. Any slaves able to resume life as such may be returned to that condition, and the question of whether this happens is out of my hands.

    Why say such a thing, considering how much it risks upsetting potential sources of help?

    Well, because I was way up over my eyebrows in refugees and frantically trying to get the personnel and resources in place to provide for them. At the same time, I was terrified we were going to end up just watching thirty-three thousand traumatized people become thirty-three thousand corpses over the course of maybe a month.

    I desperately wanted that help, but also didn't want anyone who sent it to come in with too-optimistic expectations about the way the aftermath would play out. Then, also, I didn't want to make any promises that could cause issues for us from the Amarrian side. With any luck, maybe few or none of the slaves would end up being slaves at the end-- but I couldn't promise that. I didn't feel like I could even very strongly hint at it without risking watching the option disappear.

    I was trying to save lives, avoid diplomatic horror stories, and keep our options open.

    Only, maybe delicate diplomatic stuff like that isn't ideally done when you're so tired you could die. Also, most of our support ended up coming from reliable, expected sources that probably were always going to help anyway, whether I went around yelling across borders or not.

    Not all of it did, though. And, in this case, each additional bit of support did account for lives saved or dying persons comforted.

    So, we had Sanxing, who were able to take a little over a hundred off our hands but made a lot of noise about it on the IGS.

    And, Origin, who sent about a thousand (in retrospect, very, very physically fit) medics and orderlies who ended up having to be ejected after only a couple of days, once it became apparent that Origin had ideas about "helping" our charges with more than just bedpans and IV drips. They were helpful while they lasted. Also, Saede Riordan did send us a very handy, if unfinished, research tool as an apology. I guess she ended up seeing the whole crisis as something personal to me, rather than a SFRIM affair, once she learned how it had begun.

    And, Mengyao Chemineau, also of Sanxing, who was willing to come and comfort the dying, so, I didn't really see any harm in letting him. This didn't result in anything bad that I know of, except that maybe I was a little hasty in making him welcome.

    And, Miz ...

    ... who, as turns out to be her habit and custom, not only took the statement that Nauplius's captives might end up as slaves again at face value, but assumed that meant that they absolutely would.

    "What I am disappointed by is that you've lied to me. Directly. About yourself and the Directrix." This said in "The Good Word" in front of a dozen or so random persons.

    Oh, gods and spirits, Miz. What have I gotten myself into?
    Aria Jenneth

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2016-06-13

    Re: "Explain Yourself"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Sun Jun 19, 2016 5:05 am

    No. No no no. Huh-uh. I am not going to say what it will take to convince you of the error of your ways.

    Idiot blocked after aggressive argument laced with invective and insult.

    (Okay, that's weird. Why is Samira Kernher taking Miz's side?)

    Anyway, time to cauterize the wound.... Only, idiot is now offering aid (via Lt. Kernher).

    We have a full staff now; our actual allies really came through. We have a staff-to-patient ratio approaching 1:1. Except, what idiot has to offer is the Republic's expertise in decoding Vitoc. That's something we don't have, and probably can't easily get.

    Also, people are still dying, at an increasing rate.

    I forward the message to Directrix Daphiti, and open a private channel with Miz, partly to let her know that her offer's being considered and partly to explain that I do NOT appreciate having my dirty laundry so nearly aired in public.

    Miz's rebuttal, which will later turn out to be her standard, boils down to: "But you lied."

    Actually I didn't, but I'm not about to explain that to her. Time to burn the bridge, sever contact, call it a bad job, and if the Minmatar terrorist wants to tell the world that she was told a respected Amarrian and her Achur retainer might have some anti-slavery sentiments, well, that'll be the price I pay for ever trusting her with such a thing the first place. I'm definitely going to owe the Directrix an apology for this, though.

    Maybe more than an apology.

    Only ... we really need those researchers. As it turns out, the Directrix thinks so, too. We're accepting.

    Oh, dear.

    Naturally, the offer's not as unconditional as the ever-honest Ms. Del'thul made it sound. She wants assurances about the fate of the patients. Ah, well-- in for a copper coin, in for an ISK.

    I explain the other part of the partial truth I've been presenting. What I've been saying is the law as I understand it-- but, of course, persons who are unfit to return to service won't be required to. It's the Society's practice to interpret this category as broadly as we can get away with. Nauplius being Nauplius, that's not even very much of a stretch. Avoiding raising doubts makes it possible to avoid confrontation over the issue.

    "You guys keep overcomplicating everything. The Empire knows what you're all doing. For all it's flaws, it's not stupid."

    This statement might explain Miz's disregard for discretion. If your enemy is nearly omniscient anyway, there's no reason to be subtle, right?

    "This is my condition. I will offer the expertise and manpower at my disposal, which is sufficiently considerable that it's frankly overkill for thirty-three thousand people. In return, you 'broadly' interpret your laws, and... The ones who fall outside that 'broad' interpretation will be conveniently tracked and tagged for extraction by less... subtle means."

    I was sufficiently shocked by what she was asking me to do (turn a blind eye while she executed a possibly very violent rescue operation she was telling me about in advance) that a nuance might have slipped by me: I think she might have expected us to do the tracking and tagging, or at least facilitate it.

    If that was going to be the case, I'm pretty sure that would have been a non-starter, and I never said anything to indicate I understood it that way. If she had expectations along those lines, though, it might explain why she reacted the way she did, later on.

    Even at the time, the request was ... marginal? Oh, well. Lives to save, we'll cross that bridge when we get--

    "And frankly, at this point, knowing what I know... protecting the Directrix requires you to maintain my faith in you and her."

    Aria Jenneth

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2016-06-13

    Re: "Explain Yourself"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Mon Jun 20, 2016 3:02 am

    Probably the single thing to understand about both Samira Kernher and Miz is that they hate the world.

    This isn't a personal kind of hate. They don't despise people individually just for being people. It's more like a pervasive sadness over the persistent failure of Creation to live up to what they feel it ought to be like, only that sadness has soured, then bittered, and now they can hardly see through the darkness swirling in their eyes.

    There's an affinity between them for this reason. That it would take almost exactly opposite events to make each of them see the world less darkly makes no difference. They're kin by more than blood.

    One of the effects of this is that neither one will trust in the goodness of a person's heart. I don't think they see "good people" anywhere in the world. They might not believe such people really exist.

    What they mostly see are people whose corruption isn't apparent yet.
    Aria Jenneth

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2016-06-13

    Re: "Explain Yourself"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Wed Jun 22, 2016 2:18 am

    ... ah, this has gotten hard to do.

    The thing is, at this point, the mistakes have all been made. All that remains is to sort of watch it all fall out.

    There are a couple specifics I've left out that, considering the nature of the project, I shouldn't. So, here they are.

    One of the groups I assumed was on the list of people whose attention we were trying to avoid is the Holders in the Societas directorate. I don't know either Lord Raholan or Lord Tash-Murkon very well. Neither strikes me as an awful person, but I wasn't at all sure they were "in" on our habit of construing the rules broadly.

    That's something I did mention to Miz.

    Also, I made clear to Miz that this wasn't us turning against the Empire, directly or indirectly. I did think that could eventually happen, though. What I imagined was a possible future in which the Directrix grew disillusioned with the practice of slavery on the whole-- enough to perhaps work against it. That's actually something I kind of hoped for. I don't know if it is possible, now.

    If not, that's probably my fault. I even worry that, saying this, here, might be doing harm, but ... I'm supposed to really write everything, so....

    I hope the Directrix is right, and it really is okay to write this here.

    Bad as this all might look, it's not like it's hard to explain from the perspective of foolishness or minor skullduggery. I was trying to develop Miz as a contact (true) and she'd already proved useful in the past (also true). I was also ignorant in some of what I thought, and naiive in expressing it to such a person.

    Intellectually, I know a lot, and my life doesn't feel quite as short as it once did, but, I guess it's not enough yet to make up for what I've lost. In some ways I'm still kind of a child. I want to believe that there's hope for people-- even for us.

    Miz and Samira might think we're damned and doomed by nature, that our hands are so filthy that we'll never be remotely whole or healthy. But I think, if I believed that, I'd kill myself.

    I kind of like existing, though. Maybe that's why I don't believe it.

    Anyhow-- all the pieces are now in place. All that's left is to watch this little bit of a disaster unfold.
    Aria Jenneth

    Posts : 24
    Join date : 2016-06-13

    Re: "Explain Yourself"

    Post by Aria Jenneth on Thu Jun 23, 2016 6:06 pm

    "Watch it unfold" is about all I could really do.

    There's a masochism, a quality of self-harm, about exposing one's self to terrible suffering. For weeks, I was surrounded by pain I was powerless, in the immediate sense, to stop; desperation that could be managed, but not resolved. After a while, our patients' faces-- the faces of the people I'd supposedly saved-- were just a blur.

    An awful blur.

    It sounds dreadful to say, but, by the time they were ready to leave Gottin's Lamp, I didn't ask very many questions about where they would go. I knew some of the details involved, but, really, I didn't pursue the matter. Why the Directrix chose to move the patients out of Empire space, to place them out of easy reach of-- well, virtually everyone ... I had some sense of possible motive. By that point, though, I kind of didn't care. My work was done. The Directix would handle the final details, and I was grateful to her for that.

    I trusted Directrix Daphiti. I trust her still.

    Not everyone did, though.

    It might have been better if we hadn't compromised-- if Miz had used what blackmail material I'd handed her, and been done, and we, likewise, done with her.

    (Can we just pause a moment to reflect on the amazement that is a Minmatar terrorist who responds to her belief that a contact might actually be some sort of awful slave trader by threatening to reveal evidence, which she herself believes is a pack of lies, that this same contact has possible abolitionist sympathies?)

    For good or ill, Samira interceded. ... mostly, I believe, on Miz's behalf. Compromise happened. Mutually agreeable arrangements were made. The threat, such as it is, is pacified.

    For me, though....

    If Nauplius The Butcher, proud murderer of literally millions, rewarded my trust, Mizhara Del'thul punished it.

    I want to hurt Miz for this. I want to retaliate, to prove to her that she, even she, has things she cares about, things she can lose, things she should treat carefully, even more than her own life. That even an immortal can be hurt so deeply as to long for death.

    I want to prove that it is not safe to cross me.

    These feelings will fade, with time. At least, I assume so. I'm no good at grudges.

    It has been ... hard, since the event, though. My confidence is shaken. Not in the Directrix, but in myself. I've been made a fool of, or else, made a fool of myself. Cleverness without good judgment is worse than useless.

    I'd wanted to use my gift with language to illuminate things for people, help them to understand each other and the world. Now I'm hiding things, keeping secrets. Is this corruption? Or just, growing up? Either way, it hurts.

    But it's important to me, to be, or become, someone worth trusting.

    There's a part of me that wants to cut this shame away-- to revert to a prior self, one of my backups, from months ago, before any of this ever happened. To end this miserable timeline. To be, again, someone who had never failed in her duty, either on the fishing trip or with Miz.

    That version of me wouldn't have learned these lessons, though. Even if I left a record of these events, that probably wouldn't happen. There are some lessons, maybe, that only failure can teach.

    And next time, it might be worse.

    More than that, I wouldn't want to do that to the Directrix, or to Utari. I don't think they'd understand if I did such a thing. Anyway, that really would be a selfish act, so maybe I wouldn't deserve to have people be understanding about it.

    Maybe I could do something else, though. Before, a lot of what I did to help organize my thoughts was, well, to write them.

    "Sojourn" is done, but ... maybe, if it would be allowable, I could continue to keep a journal, here, instead: something to help me put my thoughts together, and feel a little less lost in the dark.

    That would be good, I think.

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    Re: "Explain Yourself"

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