Faerieland: Part 1

My lab felt cramped, the air warm from body heat, and my sister’s voice cut through the low murmur of people talking.

“Remember when I joked about needing an auditorium? Next time I won’t be joking.”

We’d moved my lab tables to the walls, folded them, put everything I’d been working on into boxes, and it still felt like we had no room. All the chairs had been taken, and people sat on the floor or stood next to the wall.

By people, I meant everyone in the Heroes’ League who’d come to Stapledon, plus Courtney, plus Tara, Rod, Samita, and Amy.

The monitor of my computer showed burning buildings from a distance.

I couldn’t show anything much closer than that, so we were following the news. I’d given Hal permission to send the self-destruct command to the roachbots, and during the last match he’d sent it to almost all of them.

I hadn’t asked why, but I assumed either Turkmenistan’s army or the Coffeeshop Illuminati included a technopath. Maybe both.

A reporter’s voice said, “It appears that an unknown force is attempting a superpowered overthrow of Turkmenistan’s government. We’ve yet to see any of the invaders, but we’ve seen their work-robots, animated creatures that turned into scraps of shredded paper when killed, and even the government’s own vehicles fighting against their owners—“

Rachel shook her head, staring at the screen. “I think it’s safe to say this is worse than if you’d done nothing.”

Standing next to the wall and towering over everyone, Travis shrugged. “You can’t know that. They’ve been killing their people for the last three months.”

Izzy sat on the floor near the back next to Daniel. “We need to do something. We’re responsible for starting this—“

“Nah.” Travis gave a snort. “You guys started watching, but the Coffeeshop Illuminati started this. Have you read their manifesto? They’ve got their head in the clouds, and they don’t understand a thing about the real world.”

Izzy waited until he was done, but no longer than that. “We planted the bots. Hal came up with the plans. They wouldn’t have had anything to work with if we hadn’t. That’s why it’s our responsibility.”

Next to her Daniel’s mouth twitched at the last thing she said. “We can’t. My dad sent me a text telling me—all of us—to stay out of it.”

Izzy’s mouth flattened into a line. “Why?”

Daniel looked at her, and then across the room at all of us. “Well, Dad said that it wasn’t our responsibility, and that we weren’t ready to step into a situation this complex. He’s probably right, but I’m pretty sure I know why he said it. I caught a few things after they turned off the buzzers and the politicians left.”

Everyone stared at him then. This was the kind of thing that made supers grateful to have a telepath on the team, and terrified everyone else.

“It’s no secret that Turkmenistan’s close to Russia. Russia’s government sent our government a message that they’d like the United States to stay out of it. I think that they said more than that, but I don’t know what. The only thing I know is that the Russian superheroes that Izzy… evaded? They’re going in somehow. I don’t know who they’re supporting—“

“Russia,” Vaughn suggested, grinning.

Cassie laughed.

Daniel talked over them. “But if we were to go in in any way, it would become a three or four way fight with major ramifications. So I’d say that we need to stay out of this one.”

Izzy frowned. “So we’re going to sit here and let whatever happens happen?”

Daniel looked her in the eye. “We’re just going to make things worse. We don’t know enough to not make things worse. You know what I mean. People in government have contacts in Turkmenistan and in Russia, and they might be able pull all this back to something less horrible. We don’t know anybody and nobody would negotiate with us. We’d just end up fighting.”

Izzy looked down, took a breath, and looked at Daniel. “I know, but I don’t like leaving this unfinished. I feel like it’s our fault and we should be doing something.”

Daniel nodded. “We can do something. We can actually do something here. Nick’s going to tell us about it.”

Everyone turned toward me. It was unnerving.

“Ah… Yeah,” I said. “It’s like this. A fairy tricked Vaughn into giving our transcripts and plans to Stephanie and through her, the Coffeeshop Illuminati. Rod happened to be there as Adam wished me good luck during the match, and he noticed that Adam smelled of the Unseelie Court—more fairies. It’s not much of a lead, but it’s too much of a coincidence not to investigate.

“The interesting question to me is whether Adam’s using the fey, or whether the fey are using him?”

15 thoughts on “Faerieland: Part 1”

  1. And we’re into the final arc of this storyline… Granted, it’s likely to be every bit as long as “Demo,” but it’s still closer to the climax.

    On a totally different note, I recorded a Pen and Cape Society podcast on Monday night. It was, as ever, fun. I think we might be getting less clueless at doing this.

    Legion’s slipping a bit in the rankings, so please do vote for it if you’re interested.

    1. Hi Jim. First time commenter here, yours was the first Web serial that I read…. I love the realism of the characters and the consequences of their actions. I’ve read quite a few more we serials now and I think that your rank at twf might be dropping because you aren’t generating a lot of new content. The updates are pretty short, and while they are super consistent, which is great, it takes SO long for anything to happen. Months in real time. If you want to get my TWF vote again, you have to find a way to get more throughput on your story.

      1. Thanks for reading. I’m glad you have been, and I hope you continue.

        With regards to the Top Web Fiction voting, here’s the history. I used to ask regularly last year, and eventually stopped. Last month, I started asking again. Last year before I stopped asking, the most votes Legion usually got was around 40-50. Since I started asking again this year, the average votes has been around 80, sometimes getting up to 109 (last week or the week before). The funny thing is that 80 votes sometimes gets you sixth place, but it sometimes gets you tenth (and two years ago it would have ranked first).

        I was saying that the rank is slipping. The votes are fairly consistent, and I have no right to complain. I do ask people to renew their votes, partly because a high rank gets LoN attention, partly because it makes my readers aware of other serials and I want to support those authors.

        As to the amount of story per update… Well, there’s another issue altogether. For a while now, I’ve been thinking that I ought to try to make each update 2000 words instead of the 800-1200, I generally do.

        Here’s why I haven’t:
        1. I write slowly. Writing the 1600-2400 words I generally put out over a week takes me 12 hours or so.
        2. Writing that much has a cost. I’ve fallen asleep at work and been told to stop by my supervisor after a particularly late night. Also, my wife feels ignored on those nights where I spend the entire evening writing.

        In short, if I increase my throughput, I will likely end up unemployed and divorced.

        The only way I’m likely to put more in each update is to make it my full or part time job.

        Thus, instead of increasing the amount of time I put into my serial, I’ve been putting 2-4 hours a week into converting the serial into ebooks. It’s a far better use of my time. The serial costs money (when you consider the cost of hosting) while the ebooks make money. Especially if I make print and audio versions of the first seven books available, I’ll eventually have some sort of base level income coming in from writing, and I’ll be able to consider changing my career. I have to be making at least $40,000 a year to consider that though, maybe $20,000-30,000 if I can fill in the gap with contract programming gigs.

        Until then, the amount of content is unlikely to change, and that’s too bad. It’s taking up the majority of my free time for projects, and LoN is not the only thing I’m interested in doing. I’ve got ideas for other novels, three or four business startup ideas, a couple personal programming projects, musical ideas that I want to try, and some site improvements for LoN that are all on hold.

        Currently LoN a high third on my list of important things after 1) Family (wife and 2 kids) and 2) Paying work.

        With any luck, LoN may get a chance to move into second place.

        Trust me, I’m working on it.

        1. The other thing on the rankings is that Wildbow always takes up 3 of the higher slots now. Not saying they aren’t all well deserved, it just sorta sucks for other writers.

      2. One thing you might consider, wait till the end of a story arc and then read it all at once. I did this with Threat Analysis (the arc before Demo). In the end I didn’t like reading that way and have gone back to reading each as it’s posted. Didn’t work for me but it could for you.

        1. On my list of small programming projects is a WordPress plugin that automates creating a list of people who want to be notified when a section is done and allow them to choose to be notified by week, month, arc, or novel sized chunk.

  2. Everyone knows that whatever pays the bills comes before a labor of love. Even though I said before I haven’t been reading, I still vote, so that’s at least one vote of confidence!

    1. Charles: What I hope people understand is that the best thing I can do is produce a story at a rate I can consistently meet. Seven plus years into this I’ve got a good idea of what that is. I’d rather make some readers unhappy that I’m not moving quickly enough than to pledge to match a rate that I can’t hit all the time (or one that destroys some part of my life).

      This is a marathon, not a sprint.

  3. “everyone in the Heroes’ League who’d come to Stapledon, plus Courtney, plus Tara, Rod, Samita, and Amy.” Is Izzy part of the Heroes League yet? In other news, you are not under any obligation to produce any content, let alone more. Keep doing whatever you need to Jim.

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