Killjoys Rewatch: s01e03

Thursday, 21 September 2017 12:14
hagar_972: A woman with her hands on her hips, considering a mechanic's shop. (Default)
[personal profile] hagar_972
The first time around, I was very excited about this ep. It was genuinely good, it moved along and showed character development, the pacing was nice and slow enough to enjoy things, and if the science side was complete bullshit (neither solar flares nor human vision and brain development work this way) then I could ignore that because the rest was on.

Second time around, I already know how this season is going to go: there's going to be more bullshit "science", and not as much good writing, good pacing and the rest of that jazz. So second time around, I get to deal with the disappointment, and it's harder to enjoy what's good because the bad pops out so much more. And yet, at about halfway through the ep, it started Working anyway. And that? Shows how good it is.

Granted, this episode has one of my favorite moments in the entire season, when D'avin and Johnny get to sit down and talk just the two of them: "This time I got to stay and be the responsible one, and I loved it." In early S1, the D’avin we meet sold himself into slavery the first time he was responsible for his own life, wouldn’t talk about the shit he was going through and over which he hated himself to a degree that could’ve killed him, and generally would’ve been screwed if Dutch hadn’t adopted him. Compare and contrast with the D'avin of this episode, who’ll call attention to his fears and insist on it if he thinks the other person doesn’t take it seriously (Johnny's "D'av the magic pony scale line). This D’avin who neither needs nor wants to run, and will openly say he loves the new state of things.

And knowing the show will keep this up, that this thread will be revisited later in the season, and that D'avin'll get something to look after big enough it actually occupies all of his caretaking drive (and given he's got plenty spare even after everything Dutch and Johnny occupy, that's a lot) - that just makes it better.

09/20/17 PHD comic: 'Your Social Parabola'

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 23:06
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Piled Higher & Deeper by Jorge Cham
www.phdcomics.com
Click on the title below to read the comic
title: "Your Social Parabola" - originally published 9/20/2017

For the latest news in PHD Comics, CLICK HERE!

Crossovering: pinch hit needed

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 20:52
galfridian: (Default)
[personal profile] galfridian in [community profile] yuletide
We have one open pinch hit currently open at Crossovering (a crossover fic/art exchange).

Requests are:

Crossover/Fic: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, GLOW (2017)

Crossover/Fic: Harlots (TV), Galavant (TV)

Crossover/Fic: Superstore (TV), Selfie (TV)

Crossover/Fic: Riverdale (TV 2017), Game of Thrones (TV)

Crossover/Fic: The Good Place (TV), You're The Worst (TV)

You can view the full request with details at the Google group here. Please reply at the group or e-mail the mods at crossoveringmods@gmail.com if you are interested. (Please put Pinch Hit #007 in your subject line). Thank you!

Check-In – Day 20

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 21:35
samuraiter: (Default)
[personal profile] samuraiter in [community profile] writethisfanfic
"You turn the page, you wash your hands. You turn the page, you wash your hands."
Rocko's Modern Life

What have you been doing today?

— Thinking. Maybe a little, maybe a lot.
— Writing.
— Planning and / or researching.
— Editing.
— Sending things to the beta.
— Posting!
— Relaxing, taking a break, etc.
— Other stuff-ing. Look at the comment.

Question for today: Do you ever flip a coin, roll a die, etc. when you are not sure what you should do next in a story?
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Dan Evon

According to rumors, the actor told an interviewer that there is no difference between the two entrepreneurs because both are capitalists.
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Kim LaCapria

Blogs claimed "liberals" were offended over Hobby Lobby cotton decor products because a single Facebook user commented on the craft store's Facebook wall.

This Week in Nazi-Punching

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 16:15
jimhines: (Snoopy Writing)
[personal profile] jimhines

A video of a Nazi in Seattle getting punched and knocked out has been making the rounds. Responses range from satisfaction and celebration to the predictable cries of “So much for the tolerant left” and the related “Violence makes us as bad as them and plays right into their hands.”

A few things to consider…

1. According to one witness, the punch happened after the Nazi called a man an “ape” and threw a banana at him. With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, that sounds like assault to me. I’m guessing Assault in the Fourth Degree. In other words, the punching was a response to an assault by the Nazi.

The witness who talks about the banana-throwing also says he was high on THC. I haven’t seen anyone disputing his account, but I haven’t seen corroboration, either.

2.Remember when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and people like Geraldo Rivera said it was because Martin was wearing a hoodie, and that made Martin a potentially dangerous “suspicious character”? Utter bullshit, I know. But if our legal system let Zimmerman plead self-defense, saying he was afraid because Martin was wearing a hoodie, doesn’t that same argument apply against someone wearing a fucking swastika?

We’re talking about a symbol that announces, “I support genocide of those who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t able-bodied…”

3. Buzzfeed presents this as anti-fascists tracking a Neo-Nazi to beat him up. While antifa Twitter appears to have been talking about this guy, there’s no evidence that the punch was thrown by someone who’s part of that movement. And even if he was, the guy didn’t throw a punch until after the Nazi committed assault (see point #1).

Those Tweets quoted on Buzzfeed also suggest the Nazi was armed, which could add to the self-defense argument in point #2.

Is Nazi-punching right? Is it legal? As any role-player will tell you, there’s a difference between whether something is lawful and whether it’s good.

The “victim” has every right to press charges. But for some reason, he didn’t want to talk to police about the incident.

Was punching this guy a good thing? I mean, there’s a difference between comic books and real life. The Nazi was standing in front of some sort of tile wall. He could have struck his head on the corner after being punched, or when he fell to the ground. In other words, there’s a chance–albeit probably a slim one–that this could have killed him.

My country and culture glorify violence. I’d much rather avoid violence when possible. I think most rational people would. But there are times it’s necessary to fight, to choose to defend yourself and others. I think it’s important to understand the potential consequences of that choice.

Multiple accounts agree this man was harassing people on the bus, and later on the street. He was a self-proclaimed Nazi. Police say they received calls that he was instigating fights, and it sounds like he escalated from verbal harassment to physical assault … at which point another man put him down, halting any further escalation.

I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that situation, but I see nothing to make me condemn or second-guess this man’s choice in the face of a dangerous Nazi.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

The aforementioned medley

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 20:17
hagar_972: Woman looking away from the camera, smiling (Me)
[personal profile] hagar_972
Under here. )

And trust me when I say that unless something is seriously biochemically wrong or you try real hard, you're probably going to smile.

No More Child Support After 2017?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 15:13
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Posted by Kim LaCapria

Headlines claiming President Trump and Congress abolished child support were completely false, but massively popular on social media.

Dollar Tree Closing All Stores?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 14:36
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Posted by Kim LaCapria

Neither Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, nor Dollar General is closing all their stores, despite a widespread rumor on social media.

Colorado Cops Search for Poop-and-Run Jogger

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 13:48
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Posted by Associated Press

Police in Colorado are looking for a jogger they say is repeatedly interrupting her runs to defecate in public in Colorado Springs.
meganbmoore: (hwajung: jeongmyung revealed)
[personal profile] meganbmoore
I've been watching MBC's latest sageuk, The King in Love, which is also the latest in the recent trend of youth fusion romance sageuks, though that little subgenre seems to have run its course.  (Hopefully the fact that Rebel: Thief Who Stole The People is the only sageuk this year that's really considered a success will influence future sageuks, though they seem to be over and done with for the year, unless we count Live Up to Your Name, which is very good, but also a time travel drama set more in the present than in the past.)  For the most part, it's been enjoyable, though I'm a couple weeks behind because it looked like it was headed toward one of several endings that I would have considered dealbreakers for the whole show.  (I haven't watched it yet, but I do know it does have my preferred ending, so I should catch up with it this week.)  The one area where it completely fails, unfortunately, is in one of its central conceits:  presenting a love triangle in which a woman loves  two men, and it's unclear which she loves more.  Discussing possible endings with a friend reminded me of the love triangle in one of JTBC's few sageuk outtings, Maids, which also had a triangle in which a woman is in love with two men, but does it much better.



spoilers for both series )
[syndicated profile] snopes_feed

Posted by Associated Press

Kenneth James Gleason is charged with two counts of first degree murder and other charges, following the shooting deaths of two men in Baton Rouge.

Excerpt: Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman

Wednesday, 20 September 2017 10:11
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Posted by Ana

Hello and a Happy Wednesday to all!

Today, we are proud to be hosting an exclusive excerpt from Weaver’s Lament, an upcoming Tor.com novella by Emma Newman, sequel to the excellent Brother’s Ruin!

weaverslament_final_original

Chapter 1

Charlotte was certain she was going to die. She’d thought the threat of Royal Society Enforcers was the most terrifying thing she’d ever experienced, but that was nothing compared to travelling by train. Now she understood why her grandmother had always crossed herself whenever anyone mentioned the rapidly expanding rail network.

She’d been fine in the first few minutes of the journey, when the train had pulled away from Euston station in a stately fashion, even excited. She’d looked out on transport sheds and then houses, with a sense of adventure blooming in her chest. It wasn’t so bad; it was bumpy and noisy as the carriage rattled over the rails, but only a little faster than an omnibus. Quite why her father had looked so concerned when he’d helped her into the carriage, she’d had no idea.

Twenty minutes into the journey, as the city thinned and the countryside opened up, the train had built speed until the greenery at the side of the track was a blur. Surely nothing could go so fast and be safe? No wonder her mother had been so put out by Ben’s letter, asking his sister to visit him in Manchester.

“But you’ll have to go on the train!” she’d squawked. “It’s such a long way! Why can’t he come to visit us here?”

“Because he’s not allowed,” Charlotte had replied, reading the letter from her brother again. It seemed like a simple invitation, but the fact that he’d asked only for her made Charlotte nervous. Surely he missed their parents too? She feared he was getting ill again and struggling to cope. After the success of being accepted into the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts, she could imagine his reluctance to admit any weakness, especially considering the exorbitant amount of money they’d paid her family as compensation. She remembered how proud he’d been, even though it had been her magical skill, not his, that had earned him a place in the College of Dynamics and changed their family’s fortune.

“But I thought he wasn’t allowed to see us,” Father had said. “Something must be wrong. I should go with you.”

Charlotte knew Ben would be furious if she brought anyone else with her. “No, Papa, I’ll go by myself. If there was a problem, he’d have been sent home. We’d know about it. He’s probably missing us and can’t risk the entire family going to see him.”

So much concern over one simple invitation, but it was no surprise. They’d all been worrying about him, and with the six-month mark of his training as a magus coming up, they were all afraid that his previous pattern would resurface; he’d last a few months away from home and then fall deathly ill again.

“I’m not sure it’s proper for you to travel alone, Charlotte,” Mother had said. “We’re a respectable family now. We live in the West End. People will talk.”

She’d laughed. “Mother, no one will even notice I’m gone! Even George is too busy to see me this week.”

Her fiancé’s review was on Friday and he was desperate to earn his promotion to registrar. She was certain he’d succeed; the office of Births, Deaths and Marriages could not have a more dedicated clerk. But there was more at stake than his professional pride; he was adamant that they could not marry unless he was earning a decent salary in a secure position. Not even the offer of help from her parents, now very well off thanks to the compensation from the Royal Society for taking Ben, would dissuade him. “It’s a matter of principle, darling,” he’d said to her. “If I cannot provide a good life for my wife right from the start, I don’t deserve to marry.”

Charlotte would have been happy to live in a tiny terraced house back over on the other side of the city, where they used to live before the windfall, but she was willing to be patient. Life in the west of the city was surprisingly different. Her mother was so much happier there—she’d been able to give up sewing—and the house was larger, with a better landlord. But with the improvement of their circumstances came a strange set of ideas that Charlotte simply didn’t share. Her mother seemed to think that living in the West End meant they had to go promenading in the park on Sunday afternoons after church. The colour of their curtains had to be fashionable, they had to have a maid—even though they’d been perfectly fine without one before—and Charlotte had to take care of her reputation. It seemed that taking the train alone would somehow endanger it. Charlotte was certain that her secret career as an illustrator would not fit in with her mother’s ideas about how she should conduct herself, either.

“I will put her on the train at Euston,” Father had said, elbow resting on the large mantelpiece, pipe in hand. “Benjamin will meet her at London Road station in Manchester. The London and North Western railway company has trains that go straight there with no changes. We’ll make sure he knows which train she will be on.”

“I shall go tomorrow,” Charlotte had said. “Then I can be back for Friday, so I can be there for George after his review.”

“That’s settled, then,” Father had said between puffs. It seemed that, for him, their change in fortune had translated to that particular pose and unfortunately smelly habit.

Now she wished her father had come with her, if only just so she would have someone to talk to. She’d brought her sketchbook, handkerchiefs to embroider and some crochet, but was unable to put her hand to any of them. Even though the terror had subsided to a constant tension and a gasp every time the carriage lurched on a corner, it was still too bumpy for her to do anything save look out the window.

Growing accustomed to the speed, Charlotte was getting used to focusing her attention out towards the horizon. It was a beautiful May morning when she left Euston and she was filled with hope as she looked out over the verdant countryside. The hedgerows were flowering, the fresh new leaves on the trees were her favourite shade of pale green and she could see lambs gambolling in the fields. George would be promoted and they would have a spring wedding and it would be perfect. As they sped through the midlands, the sky darkened and the view was obscured by driving rain. At least she was in an enclosed first class carriage. Her grandfather had told her about the old third class carriage he’d travelled in once, open to the elements during a terrible thunderstorm. She shivered at the mere thought of it.

Daydreaming about her wedding and enjoying the view could only keep her fears for Ben at bay for so long. The compartment was relatively small, seating six comfortably, and had its own door. She was lonely, yet always relieved when no one got in to share it with her at a station. She wouldn’t know what to do if a man travelling alone got in with her. She hoped another young woman would share the rest of the journey, providing company without any fear of unwelcome attention, but she was still alone hours later when the train pulled into Crewe. A comfort stop of ten minutes was announced, but she didn’t want to leave her luggage unattended, so she watched the other passengers instead. She was desperate for a cup of tea and a bun, but she decided to wait until she arrived so she could share that with Ben.

Charlotte was just starting to change her mind when she spotted a familiar flash of blond hair against a black satin collar. She jolted in her seat as she realised the man leaving the compartment next to hers was none other than Magus Hopkins, her secret tutor. The sight of him brought the usual tumult of guilt and excitement. The sense of guilt had started months before, when he’d discovered she’d helped to con the Royal Society into thinking her brother was far more magically gifted than he was. It was a permanent emotion now, reinforced every time they met in secret, even though it was only so he could teach her how to control her own ability without turning wild.

Charlotte watched him stride towards the station café along with many other passengers. Her heart pounded, as it always did when she saw him. She scowled at the back of his burgundy frock coat, silently cursing the perfection of his silhouette. Like every time she saw him, she was seized by the desire to draw him. Charlotte knew she must never give in to it. Bad enough that she even considered it.

When Hopkins was out of sight, she leaned back so he wouldn’t be able to see her through the window of her carriage when he returned to the train. Had he followed her? Surely not! She’d left a note in the usual hiding place, explaining that she couldn’t meet him that week, but hadn’t said anything about the reason why.

A knock on the window made her jump and she felt her face flush red when she saw a burgundy velvet cuff. She pulled the window down as Magus Hopkins doffed his top hat to her.

“Why, Miss Gunn, it is you!” he said with a cheery smile. “What an extraordinary coincidence!”

“Indeed,” she said, trying to hide her delight at seeing his face by frowning most deeply. “What brings you to Crewe?”

“Oh, I’m going to Manchester,” he said, patting his hat back into place. “My compartment is next to yours. We’ve been neighbours all the way from Euston, it would seem.”

She folded her arms. “Magus Hopkins, this is too much of a coincidence for me to bear. Why have you followed me?”

His eyebrows shot up behind the brim of his hat. “Followed you? Quite the contrary, Miss Gunn. I’ve been invited to assist with the design of a new clock tower. The Manchester Reform Club has proposed something quite ambitious.”

It sounded plausible enough; his specialisation in the Fine Kinetic arts was the design of efficient timepieces. The Royal Society held the Queen’s charter for the maintenance, measurement and accuracy of nationalised timekeeping, necessitated by the rise in popularity of the railways. Now that the country could be crossed in a matter of hours, localised time at individual towns and cities was no longer acceptable. The trains, in turn, were a product of research funded by the College of Thermaturgy, and one of their magi would be at the front of the train now, using Esoteric arts to keep the boiler at exactly the right temperature. Between the three colleges of the Royal Society, England—and indeed, the Empire—were evolving at an astounding rate.

No matter how plausible the reason, Charlotte didn’t believe him. But then she considered how she was simply one secret in his life, not the centre of it. She doubted that her comings and goings were of as much interest to him as he was to her. She shouldn’t be so vain.

“May I ask what takes you to the North, Miss Gunn?”

She couldn’t tell him the real reason. Ben could get into trouble if his supervisors knew he’d written to her. “I’m visiting a relative,” she said. “My aunt. Vera. My aunt Vera.”

His lip twitched in that maddening, charming way it did whenever he disbelieved her. “Oh, really? I confess, when I spotted you on the way to the café, I was certain you’d be on your way to visit your brother. He’s been assigned to a mill in Manchester, has he not?”

That was more than she knew. “I have no idea,” she replied truthfully. “Apprentices aren’t permitted to disclose their whereabouts to relatives, as you know.”

“Shame,” Hopkins said, glancing down the platform as other passengers started to return to their compartments. “I’ve heard some rather alarming rumours about a couple of the cotton mills there. It would have been interesting to know if there was any truth to them.”

“What rumours?”

He waved a hand, dismissively. “All hearsay, no doubt. But of course, it’s of no relevance to your dear aunt.”

The twinkle in his eye infuriated her. Must he always tease her so? “If my brother were—purely hypothetically—serving his apprenticeship in one of those mills, would he be in danger?”

“I would not be content if someone I loved were involved in their operation.”

She bit her lip. She knew he was steering her again, as was his wont, but she couldn’t let her pride interfere when it came to Ben’s safety. “Please, Magus Hopkins, if there’s something I should know about my brother’s apprenticeship, do tell me. Is this Ledbetter’s doing? Is it something to do with that awful cage he was involved in?”

Magus Ledbetter was the one who had recruited her brother into the College of Dynamics, an odious man whose marque was embossed on a cage that killed debtors. With the help of Magus Hopkins, she’d been able to save her father from that fate, but not her brother from Ledbetter’s clutches. As much as she feared for Ben’s health away from home, she also feared that Ledbetter would corrupt his gentle heart.

Hopkins became serious. “The mills are the province of the College of Dynamics, you understand. They wouldn’t appreciate the likes of me knowing about any difficulties they may have, let alone my telling another.”

Charlotte slid to the edge of her seat, closing the distance between them. “You said that we would work together, rooting out the likes of Ledbetter and his despicable activities. If there is anything like that cage happening where my brother is apprenticed I insist you tell me.”

“He’s asked you for help, hasn’t he?”

She looked away, torn. “He’s asked me to visit,” she confessed. “He didn’t say anything in the letter, but he asked only for me. I’m very worried.”

He nodded, satisfied with the truth. She hated breaking her brother’s confidence, but Hopkins had not let her down yet. “There have been several unusual accidents that can’t be ascribed to mechanical failure nor to human error. The accounts that have reached me speak of something sinister at play and—”

“Is this gentleman bothering you, Miss?”

Charlotte leaned back as the station guard came into view. “Thank you for your concern, but we are acquainted.”

The guard doffed his cap at both her and Hopkins. “Begging your pardon, sir, Miss, but I like to keep an eye out for any young ladies travelling alone.”

“Most considerate of you,” Hopkins said. “I was simply doing the same.”

“The train will be moving on shortly,” the guard said. “May I suggest you return to your compartment, sir?”

Hopkins doffed his hat to Charlotte again. “I wish you a very pleasant stay in Manchester, Miss Gunn.” He looked as if he were about to go, but reconsidered. “And mark my words, Miss Gunn. You are likely to see things in Manchester that will upset you, and possibly test even a saint’s temper. Best to keep your mind on higher things.”

He was warning her to be mindful of his teachings and remember her own marque. As an untrained latent magus, the risk of turning wild was omnipresent for her. In the months that had passed since Ben’s test, she knew she was getting more powerful, and Hopkins had confirmed as much. He had taught her the technique her brother would also have learned to manage his ability. Like all the magi, she’d developed her own personal symbol, what the Royal Society referred to as a “marque.” It was meaningful only to her, and focusing upon it helped to rein in her latent ability. It would also, in time, mean that she’d be able to influence objects at a distance, even out of her sight.

She wanted to ask Hopkins to come into the compartment with her so they could continue the conversation, but she didn’t dare do something so scandalous in front of the guard. Besides, Ben was meeting her at the station, and if he met her straight of the train, he’d recognise Hopkins. They’d met when Ben was tested. All she could do was give a faint smile and say, “Thank you, Magus Hopkins. I will bear that in mind.”

The guard saw Hopkins to his compartment and gave her a kindly smile as he walked off down the platform. Charlotte wished she’d gotten that cup of tea after all. She needed one now more than ever.

Chapter 2

The crowded platform at London Road station was both a blessing and a curse. It reduced any chance that Ben might have had to spot Hopkins, but it also made it very difficult for her to be seen, too.

It was easy to pick Ben out in the crowd, as he stood at least a foot taller than many of the men there. But no matter how much she waved at him, he simply didn’t see her. She dragged her bag from her compartment and stood on it, taking off her bonnet to flap it at him. At last, he waved at her and made his way over, cutting through the crowd like a tea clipper.

He picked her up and span her around. “Charlie Bean!” he cheered. “Oh, I am so very glad to see you!”

“Put me down, silly!” Charlotte laughed, worried that far too much of her petticoat lace was in plain sight. She beamed up at him when he put her down.

He looked so well! Better than she’d ever seen him, in fact. His gaunt cheeks had filled out and even taken on a rosy hue. His dark brown hair was shining, his sideburns and moustache neatly clipped, his back straight. The coat hanger quality of his shoulders had gone and he filled out his shirt and frock coat with a broad chest. His arms had felt strong when he’d picked her up. He was the very picture of health.

“How was the journey?”

“Terrifying,” she said, and he chuckled. “It improved once I got used to it. Could you wave that porter over?”

“No need,” he said, picking up her bag as if it contained tissue paper. “There are splendid tearooms down the road. Are you thirsty?”

“Parched,” she said, tucking her hand into the crook of his elbow. “It’s so lovely to see you again!”

Charlotte clung to him as he led her through the crowd, Hopkins nowhere to be seen in the throng of passengers. They passed happy reunions and tearful farewells, until at last they made it out onto the street.

Ben disentangled himself from her. “I’m afraid we shouldn’t be seen to be close, out on the street,” he said. “Sorry, Charlie, I quite forgot myself there. I shouldn’t have embraced you like that. Not in public.”

She looked around them, but no one seemed to be paying any attention. “I understand,” she said.

Out on the street, the red-bricked buildings made her feel a world away from the fine Georgian stone and grey bricks of London. The street was pulsing with people and the thoroughfare was clogged with horse-drawn carriages and omnibuses. The skyline was dominated by mills several storeys high, mixed with rows of workers’ cottages and slums. The smell was most unpleasant, and Charlotte couldn’t help but think of miasma. Only two years before, thousands had died here from cholera.

Despite the overcrowding and filth of the city, she was happy to be there. It was such a relief to see Ben well. The ominous comments Hopkins had made about the mills seemed irrelevant now. Ben seemed full of confidence and people moved out of their way as he approached. He wore the red-and-black-striped cravat of a Dynamics apprentice, and those who noticed it stared at him as they passed with looks of envy, fear, and respect. How different it was from the last time they’d walked down a street together and she’d had to practically carry him home. This time she was hurrying to keep up.

She was glad when he guided her towards the doors of the Heywood Tea Rooms. “You must try an Eccles cake,” he said as he held the door open for her. “They are quite extraordinary.”

It was a very large establishment, filled with tables covered in crisp white linen waited on by pretty women in smart uniforms. Along the back wall, there were private booths. Charlotte suspected they were the reason he’d brought her here. When Ben asked one of the waitresses to seat them in the one in the far corner, she was certain of it.

He ordered tea for two and Eccles cakes for both of them.

“Mother and Father send their love,” she said, watching him cast an eye over the room and the rest of the patrons.

Relaxing, Ben gave her his full attention. “Did they make a fuss about you coming to visit?”

“Of course. They’re both well. George, too—he has his review for promotion on Friday. We’re hoping for a spring wedding. And there’s going to be another collection by the author of Love, Death and Other Magicks and I’ve been commissioned to illustrate it. That’s all my news, now you tell me everything!”

The waitress arrived with their order and Ben waited until she’d left again. He sighed at the way Charlotte prodded the Eccles cake. “It’s got lots of currants inside. You’ll like it.”

“When you said ‘cake’ I was expecting a sponge, not something covered in flaked pastry.” She stirred the teapot. “When I got your letter I was worried you’d fallen ill again.”

“I’ve never felt better.”

The first pour from the pot was enough to tell her it hadn’t brewed long enough. She nibbled at the edge of the pastry and took a larger bite, weathering his “I told you so” expression with as much grace as she could muster. She looked at him expectantly, deciding not to say another word until he started talking.

Instead, he stirred the teapot, too, and then poured for both of them. She took another bite and looked at the rest of the tearooms. Perhaps everything was actually just fine, and she’d got herself into a stew over nothing.

“Charlie, I need your help.”

Perhaps not. She looked at him, at his healthy glow, and saw genuine worry in his eyes. “Tell me what’s wrong.”

“It’s all been going so well,” he said. “I was so nervous when I left home, I didn’t eat for the first couple of days. But then I made a friend, and I settled in and . . . it’s difficult, dear heart; we’re not really supposed to tell an outsider about anything we do.”

Outsider? The word stung. She pushed the feeling down as best she could. “I understand. Has something gone wrong? Is it your friend?”

“No, no, nothing like that. It was very difficult at the start, I won’t lie. I struggled terribly but then I had a real breakthrough, and since then I’ve been doing so well, Charlie. Ledbetter says I’m one of the most promising students he’s had for years. Oh, don’t look like that! Surely you’re not still harbouring that grudge against him!”

“He is not a good man,” she said firmly.

“Is this some nonsense about him taking me away from you?”

“Oh, what rot! I’m not a child, Ben!”

“Then tell me what you have against him!”

She picked up her teacup, knowing she could never tell him about that awful debtor’s cage. It would put him in an impossible position, and she couldn’t risk his success. Now that the Royal Society had recruited him, he could never leave. She wasn’t prepared to make his life there a misery, and it would be, if he knew what his mentor was really like. “It’s just a feeling I have,” she finally said, hating the insipid statement. “You’ve been doing well,” she said, trying to bring him back on topic, if only to take the look of exasperation from his face. “So why did you send for me? Are you lonely? Homesick?”

He shook his head, clearly struggling to confess his troubles. He was such a loyal soul. It didn’t stop her from wanting to shake him until he spat it all out, though. She took out her frustration on the cake instead.

“I’ve been apprenticed to a cotton mill,” he finally said, “and it’s been going very well. Very well indeed.”

“Darling”—she reached across to hold his hand—“you don’t have to keep saying that.”

He sighed. “I don’t want you to think I can’t cope. I can, I swear it. In fact, I’ve never been happier.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Ben! Just tell me!”

He pulled his hand back and leaned forwards to whisper over the teapot. “There have been a few . . . incidents at the mill. Not on my shifts, I hasten to add. Looms have been destroyed and none of the witnesses are willing to tell us who did it. They’re all covering something up.”

“Have you spoken to Ledbetter about it?”

“I tried. He just kept brushing me off. I’m only an apprentice, Charlie. No one listens to me and no one explains anything to me except exactly what I need to know.”

“It sounds like it’s all out of your hands.”

“If only it were that simple. I’m being put up to the next level of apprenticeship, which means I won’t just be working the line shaft, I’ll be supervising the running of the mill as a whole. Ledbetter has a system, you see, to push the best apprentices to the top faster. I’ve been chosen as one of the final two. Myself and another apprentice, Paxton, are going to be competing against each other. I cannot risk one of these incidents happening when I’m responsible for the mill.”

“Is there no one you can confide in? Is that why you asked me to come?”

He poured more tea. “No, that’s not it. Charlie, it’s more complicated than that. We believe the looms are being destroyed by saboteurs.”
“Like the Luddites? Darling, all of that stopped well before we were born!”

“Not Luddites, trade unionists. And more than that, socialists.” He looked around the tearoom again, lowering his voice further. “There are secret organisations springing up all over the country, determined to wreak havoc. They hate the Royal Society and want to destroy us. They argue that we have too much power and that parliament values the needs of the Royal Society above those of the common man. It’s dangerous, Charlie. Sedition, that’s what it is. And I’m convinced they have a secret group working at the mill. They have a great number of sympathisers among the workforce, and that’s why none of them will out the culprits.”

Want to destroy us . . . His words widened the gap between them. Sedition? Socialists? It sounded more like sensationalism to her. Was the pressure getting to him? “Darling, is there something you want me to do? I can’t see how I can help.”

He lifted the pot to pour tea before realising he’d only just done that. She steeled herself. What was he finding so difficult to say?
“Charlie, I need you to come and work at the mill.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“I need you to pretend you’re not my sister and just be one of them. One of the workers. I need someone on the inside, and you’re so kind and people open up to you so easily.”

“Good lord! You want me to be a spy?”

He twitched and looked around the room yet again. No one was sitting close enough to them to listen in. “Keep your voice down! I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t absolutely imperative. Please, Charlie. None of them will talk to me because I’m a magus. Ledbetter has said that if neither Paxton nor I root out the saboteurs, he’ll consider us to be socialist sympathisers. Paxton is a snake, and I am certain he’s already trying to pin it all on me. I caught him going through the drawers in my room the other day. He didn’t take anything but it’s clear he aims to win this round and be fully qualified, no matter the cost.” He reached across the table and took her hands. She was shocked to feel them shaking. “Charlie . . . if Paxton pins the socialist problem on me, Ledbetter will have me prosecuted for aiding and abetting sedition.”

“But that’s utterly ridiculous! Why waste a good apprentice on such an exercise when it isn’t your fault?”

“Because he has to make an example. And he has to get to the bottom of it all. Threatening us with transportation is an excellent motivator. In Ledbetter’s opinion, anyway.”

Charlotte felt sick. “Transportation? To Australia?”

He nodded, just as pale-faced as she was. “I doubt I would survive the voyage. You know how sickly I used to be. Packed into a boat with criminals rife with disease, I’d be done for.”

“Shush,” she said, squeezing his hands. “It doesn’t bear thinking about.” Her misgivings about being a spy faded into insignificance, now that she understood the threat to him.

“You’re the only person I can trust completely to tell me who is responsible for the sabotage. I have to root them out, Charlie, before Paxton finds a way to pin it all on me. If I win this round, Ledbetter will pass me for full qualification. Paxton won’t be able to touch me. And when I’m fully qualified, I’ll be able to apply for funding to build my own mill, with his support. Then I can earn enough money to support you and Mother and Father.”

“I don’t need you to support me. I’ll have George.”

Ben leaned back. “You haven’t told him, then. About your gift.”

She dabbed at her lips with her napkin. “I am not going to discuss that with you. I have everything under control. I’ll help, darling, of course I will. But I have heard some horrible stories about mills . . .”

“The London rags exaggerate things terribly,” he said. “And it won’t be for more than a couple of days. You’re such a good judge of character, you’ll spot who the ringleader is quickly, I’m sure you will.”

“So now I’m a good judge of character? Even though you don’t believe me about Ledbetter?” There was a long pause, long enough for her to regret her tone. “I’m sorry,” she said. “This is all a bit of a shock. I thought I was going to have nurse you back to health, not go and work in a mill.”

“I know this is horribly selfish of me,” Ben said. “But I’m desperate, Charlie. Help me to find the ringleader, and I’ll make sure you’ll never want for anything ever again.”

She tutted at him. “I won’t help you for financial gain, you fool. I’ll do it because I love you.”

His relief brightened his whole face. She could see how much it weighed upon him. “Thank you, dear heart, thank you. I promise it won’t be for more than a couple of days. I’ll take care of all the arrangements. Let’s have supper somewhere first, though, shall we?”

Charlotte nodded, feeling bad that she’d made him think she’d only agreed out of love for him. Hopkins said something strange was happening at the mills, and he’d made it sound like something esoteric, rather than political. She was determined to find something that could be used against Ledbetter, something she could take to Hopkins so they could build a case. The hope that it would impress her handsome tutor had nothing to do with it whatsoever.

Copyright © 2017 by Emma Newman

About the Author

EMMA NEWMAN writes dark short stories and science fiction and urban fantasy novels. Between Two Thorns, the first book in Emma’s acclaimed Split Worlds urban fantasy series, was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Awards for Best Novel and Emma was nominated for Best Newcomer. Her latest novel is Planetfall.Emma is a professional audio book narrator and also co-writes and hosts the Hugo-nominated podcast ‘Tea and Jeopardy’ which involves tea, cake, mild peril and singing chickens. Her hobbies include dressmaking and role playing games.

Weaver’s Lament is out October 17 2017 from Tor.com.

The post Excerpt: Weaver’s Lament by Emma Newman appeared first on The Book Smugglers.

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