[identity profile] copperbadge.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] originalsam_backup
Twenty-One

"Saturday," Ellis said, as they walked through the dusty landscape, up towards a small cluster of low buildings in the distance. "That's a unique name."

"I was named for my grandfather," she answered in a clipped tone, leading them not towards the lake's edge where they'd gone before, but directly towards the village. "He fought in the Bathurst Wars."

"I'm afraid I'm not familiar with those."

"Yes; they said you were foreigners," she replied. "The white settlers were attempting to drive the Kooris back, when they first arrived here. The Kooris retaliated, with some limited success; the Bathurst Wars were the foundation for a treaty that allowed Kooris to own property and do business, once. Property other than this, at any rate," she added with a bitter smile, one hand sweeping the Res.

"And you're a doctor?" Clare asked curiously, coming up beside them. "You're a woman."

"Well, nice to meet someone who objects to my gender instead of my skin," Saturday answered.

"I don't object to either," Clare replied. "But it's obvious neither are in your favor."

"My mother was a doctor's assistant before the ports closed," Saturday continued. "I was a servant in his household, after. Granted, I don't hold a degree, but then Tribals can't, can they? Libris' father was stripped of his."

"I see," Ellis murmured. "I wasn't aware his father was university-educated."

"What do you know, Mr. Graveworthy?"

Ellis grinned. "A little of this, a little of that. I know how dangerous this game is that you're playing."

"Life is dangerous," Saturday replied. "Especially for Kooris. How much do we have to lose?"

"Your lives," Ellis replied seriously. "That's a fairly significant loss. Your freedom."

"What little we have? When you only have a little money it's easier to bet it all, don't you think?"

"Yes, I believe you're right. But then again I only play when the odds are stacked in my favor."

"Well," Saturday said, as they passed down an alley between two mud-and-straw houses, "let's see what I can do about that for you."

They emerged into a street of sorts, pounded dirt rutted deeply with wheel-tracks. It was mainly empty, but a few children were playing a game in the dust, watched over by a pair of elderly men. Saturday led them to a building which proclaimed itself a general store.

The interior of the shop was a strange mixture of store and cafe; on one side, the shelves had been cleared away and several long tables crammed in, perpendicular to an open kitchen at the end. A handful of Wiradjuri were scattered along the tables, eating or talking, occasionally laughing. They looked up when the newcomers entered and then very pointedly returned to their meals.

"Is everyone on the Res aware of our presence here?" Ellis asked, concerned.

"Aware, or approving?" Saturday replied, walking up to the small table that separated kitchen from dining-room. "Four of the stew, please, and a loaf of bread."

"Either. If Bell heard of this, especially from a servant -- "

"We have rules about these things, on the Res," Saturday answered. Jack had circled around the kitchen and was watching the cook spoon out stew. "Those who aren't involved don't notice those who are. We trust each other. There are informers amongst the servant population, but they tend to be found quickly and -- "

"Dealt with?" Ellis asked.

"In one way or another."

"I was under the impression I might be meeting with the Elders again today."

She smiled. "The Elders have no more need of you. Their only reason for speaking with you at all was to understand your intentions, which I think you've made plain. Now they trust you to my hands."

"And why is that, Dr. Saturday?"

Her head turned sharply, as if she were startled by the honorific; he let her examine his face for any sign of guile or mockery, then smiled when she relaxed slightly.

"What I have to tell you is one of our greater secrets, and if you were able to bring a trained Creationist here it would be a significant weapon in any uprising."

Ellis tilted his head. "You speak very easily of armed rebellion."

"You speak very easily of economic crisis, so I'm told," she answered, as four bowls and a plate with a small, sad-looking loaf of bread were placed on the table. "Thank you," she said to the cook, and offered Ellis a bowl. He passed it to Clare, and then one to Jack before taking the last one and following her to a table.

"What sort of stew is this?" Clare asked, settling in next to Saturday. "It smells good."

"Henry grows rabbits, but he also adds this and that. Kangaroo, bush dog, various birds," Saturday answered. Ellis watched in amusement as Clare deftly hid a grimace. Jack was turning over pieces of meat and root-vegetable as if he could identify them if he got a good look at all sides. Ellis took a healthy portion on the rough wooden spoon provided and ate a huge bite. Saturday looked approving.

"I wanted to wait until William and your other companion could join us, before I showed you our clinic," she said, dipping a piece of bread into the stew. "It shouldn't be long; the Tribal train runs a little faster than the white engineers go."

"They allow them to run a train?" Ellis asked, surprised.

"When only Tribals travel, it isn't as great a concern. They're only taught forward and reverse -- no repairs, no engine theory, but they're not fools. After the trains began to break down regularly, the ones that could read studied up, and now they teach the others. We don't get the nice trains, but these days they run as well as any."

"Nobody noticed the decrease in breakdowns?"

"No. Sometimes we still can't fix it ourselves, if there's a major breakage," she said. "The white men come out in an automobile, swear a bit, fix them, charge us money -- "

"But you don't own the trains."

Saturday chewed on a piece of meat. "That hardly matters. They know that they can take a collection from the paid servants going to see their relatives. You may not be interested in freeing the Koori people so much as you are in beating your little bullies, Mr. Graveworthy, but I think there was enough outrage in that question to confirm your loyalty to our cause."

"Yes, well," he said. "I'm not interested in putting up a Koori government either."

"We shall see," she said. "Miss Fields, how do you find your stew?"

Clare glanced up from where she and Jack were in a quiet conference, smiling. "It's good. Is a bush dog an actual dog?"

Ellis grinned at her.

***

Purva and Libris arrived while Ellis and Saturday were deep in discussion over their empty bowls of stew. Clare had drifted away to examine the wares sold in the tiny shop, most of them obviously well below the standard of quality that one could get in the shopping district of Canberra. Some of it looked like it might be stolen. Jack was chatting with the cook, who had been reluctant at first but was now proudly showing off something obscure and mechanical in the back of the stove.

When Libris and Purva walked in, talking freely, Jack's head lifted and he hurried across the shop to greet them. Clare grinned a little and let them be, waiting for Ellis and Saturday to notice before she dawdled back. Libris and Saturday were talking in low voices, but eventually he turned to the rest of them and smiled a greeting.

"Come," he said. "We'll find somewhere more private to talk."

The town on the Res wasn't large, and it didn't take long for them to reach one of the better-looking buildings at the heart of it, on the northern side of a rough central square, next to a church which was identifiable only by the cross on the front gable.

"The missionaries use it when they can be bothered," Saturday said, noticing Clare's gaze. "Sometimes they help in the clinic, but most of the time they stay away," she added, lifting a small latch and swinging the wooden door open. Inside there was a small room filled with mismatched chairs, with two large doors on either side of the far wall. She led them past the chairs, through one of the doors and into a smaller back-room with a handful of beds in it, some of them occupied.

They crossed quickly through another door and down a short hallway that seemed to lead to the back of the clinic. Saturday stopped and pressed against one of the wood panels on the wall, while simultaneously putting all her weight on one of the rough mud bricks of the floor. The panel swung inwards, leading to a small room.

"We have some clever craftsman among us," she said, when Ellis cocked his head at the secret-door mechanism.

Clare stepped into the room, which was illuminated mainly by a skylight. Ellis followed, crowding against her, and Purva and Libris after them. Jack stopped to study the hinges on the panel, then nodded approvingly to Saturday and joined them. The panel swung shut.

The room was crammed with work tables but no chairs; there would hardly have been room for them. Every surface was covered with small fireproof trays, retorts, glass bottles, and medical equipment. Clare watched as Saturday picked up a small glass tube filled with what looked suspiciously like blood.

"Are you aware of the race to discover the origin of the Dead Island's curse?" she asked, looking at each of them in turn.

"I wasn't aware it was a race," Ellis said, resting one hand on Clare's shoulder casually. "Between Kooris and whites?"

"More or less. I'm not certain they're aware either, but we know they're looking for it. We suspect they know that we're studying something out here on the Res; people have been caught smuggling in medical supplies before. Their major study laboratory is located in Canberra, which is convenient for my work."

"Studying Creationism?" Clare asked.

"As much as one can. Creationism isn't entirely dead -- you know that, you've met expatriates. Nor is every child with the power to Create automatically expatriated. We have had some children on the Res who have proved immune, but of course they're forced to hide it, and it's difficult to learn how to use a skill such as that when you have no teachers."

"LaRoche wrote about that," Clare said eagerly.

"I'd like to keep preachers out of this, if we could," Saturday replied sharply. Clare felt Ellis tighten his hand on her shoulder.

"And what have you found, Dr. Saturday?" he asked. "Or rather -- what have you been looking for?"

"My mother had a theory it was a disease; she was trying to isolate the cause when she died. She thought it was something people ate, maybe, or something in the water. A deficiency in this or that food, something we can't get in Australia, might cause most people to lose the ability. But the Kooris did Create, before white settlers came."

"We have no hard proof," Libris added. "But we have oral tradition that makes it plain. Our great-grandparents remembered. The first explorers dismissed it as mythical nonsense."

"The first explorers to your island kept Creationists as pet witches," Ellis said from behind Clare.

"You make my point for me," Libris smiled at him.

"I'm sorry, can we all please remember who is the doctor in this room?" Saturday remarked.

"My apologies, Saturday," Libris said.

"Thank you. My mother was searching for something in our surroundings that could have caused it, or some disease the white settlers brought with them -- but that makes no sense either. On the other hand, the fact that expatriates don't carry any contagion beyond Australia seems to indicate that it is something unique to our land. When she died, I studied her research notes and then decided to ignore all but the most relevant information." She cocked her head to one side. "Mr. Graveworthy, you look as if you're startled to find a well-spoken Tribal."

"No, that's not it at all," Ellis said, and his voice was rich with dry irony. "The contrast between the two cultures is striking, that's all. You're searching for...a cure for the condition, aren't you?"

"I am."

"The government of Australia seems to be searching for a way to spread it. They want to use it as a weapon."

"So do we," Libris said.

"William -- "

"No, Saturday, you can't really deny it. We want to arm our people with Creationism. If we had powerful Creationists, we could defend ourselves against anything, we could take back control of our land. If a white man raised his hand to a Creationist Koori, he'd soon regret it."

Clare stared at him in horror. "But -- Creationists can't attack people. It's one of the most basic laws -- "

"This is Australia, Miss Fields. There are no such laws here," Libris said grimly.

"Well, there should be! If you can Create and they can't, what makes you any better than someone who wants to destroy Creationism entirely?"

"Clare," Ellis said. "Let the doctor speak. I suspect there's more to this story."

"William, if you don't shut up I'll gag you," Saturday said, at the same time. "Thank you, Mr. Graveworthy, there is. Regardless of how it were to be used, the point is that no cure can be developed, and I suspect no plague either."

"Why?" Ellis asked.

"I've read a lot of history. The white explorers had many accidents, and their Creationists lost their powers. They got sick sometimes, sometimes they were hurt. From what I understand, the reputation spread. When Creationists were sent here, they believed fiercely that they were being sentenced to a life without Creationism," Saturday said. Clare felt a new kind of horror dawning; next to her, Jack stiffened, and Ellis had gone pale.

"Are you saying," Ellis said slowly, "that this disease is Created?"

Saturday nodded. "That's what I believe. It doesn't follow natural laws, not in the way we understand disease. It doesn't spread beyond Australia because they thought it couldn't. It kills the Creationists who fight hardest against it. Immunity seems especially random. None of that is natural, and this is the only explanation that makes sense. This is why it is so vital that you bring a Creationist to us, Mr. Graveworthy. If the plague can be Created, so can the cure."

"But you said you had Creationists -- "

"They can make fire, they can sometimes make little trinkets, toys, nothing very complicated. We need someone trained. Believe me," Saturday said, crossing her arms, "It galls to have to crawl to foreigners for our salvation, but we have no choice. If you can bring us a trained Creationist, I'm confident they could, with some medical understanding, Create a cure. It's likely the only way one could ever exist."

"Yes, well," Ellis said, resting a hand on her shoulder in a subtle signal not to speak. "I should very much like to restore to you what is yours, but I think we must return to Miss Fields' objections. In the rest of the world, Creationists act under enforced pacifism. I might want to bring down the government but I won't put a tyranny of magic in its place."

"When they first met white explorers, my ancestors thought their guns were magic," Saturday pointed out.

"Yes, and look how well those guns have served your people," Ellis retorted.

"The important thing is that you provide us with a Creationist. I know it will be difficult to bring someone here, but that gives us time to come to an agreement on our next step," Saturday insisted.

"What if you had a Creationist to negotiate with directly?" Clare asked. Ellis nearly bruised her shoulder in an effort to make her be silent, but she shrugged off his hand. "What if the Creationist we brought you had conditions of their own?"

"A white man's conditions?" Saturday said.

"What if the Creationist wasn't a white man?"

"White man, white woman, not much difference."

"Clare," Jack said, concerned.

"All right, Jack, I know," she replied, annoyed, before turning back to Saturday. "What if we had access to a Creationist who supported your cause out of something more than Mr. Graveworthy's political expediency? Would your Elders listen to someone who genuinely had the interests of the Kooris at heart?"

"How could they prove that?" Saturday asked.

"Libris," Clare said, turning to him, the blood pounding in her ears. "You said if you sent messengers you could have Kooris come from everywhere."

"Sooner or later. Most of the westerners will have to walk," Libris answered, a guarded expression on his face.

"Do you trust me enough to send for them now?"

"Clare, what are you doing?" Ellis hissed. She turned to him.

"There's something you should see," she said. "But there are more important things at the moment than your curiosity. Libris, send for them."

Libris looked at Ellis. "You trust her?"

"Of course," Ellis said immediately. "But Clare, I need to know -- "

"Please, send for them," Clare said. Libris glanced at Saturday; she hesitated, then gave him a nod. He brushed past Ellis and Jack, out through the secret door.

"Dr. Saturday," she continued, turning back to the other woman. "Are the Wiradjuri Elders nearby?"

"Yes," Saturday said slowly.

"Take us to them."

Saturday shrugged and pushed through them, opening the panel door and holding it for them once she was out.

"What are you doing?" Purva asked, as they walked down the hallway. "You are not Captain here!"

"I am now," Clare replied.

"You have a secret?"

Clare looked at her, then at Jack, who was holding Purva's hand as they walked.

"Something like that," she said.

"Are you sure?" Jack asked, jostling around Purva, falling into step between the two women and neatly blocking Ellis from getting too close.

"What else am I supposed to do, Jack?" Clare asked, in a whisper.

"Well, I don't know," Jack answered, voice equally low. "But it seems like maybe not the best idea and Graveworthy's going to be really angry when he finds out."

"I don't live my life to please Ellis Graveworthy," Clare retorted. There was a cough from behind them. "Ellis, you're out of your depth right now, be quiet."

"When have you ever known me to be quiet when I'm out of my depth?" Ellis asked from behind her.

"It's just, there's a time and place," Jack hissed.

"And this is it."

***

Excerpt of a letter from Ellis Graveworthy to Annie Masters
Original in the Crown Archives, Great Britain

And now, Annie, since you asked so nicely, I thought I ought to share the story with you. You've been owed it for many years. I know I've always been a little coy about it, but it wasn't really something I could tell publicly, not the details anyway.

You remarked to me once -- wasn't it during that weekend Jack kept pestering you about your textbook? -- that there was a certain familial resemblance between Jack and Clare. I admit I hadn't seen enough to convince me they were actually related, particularly since I knew that Clare Fields was an expat, but it was observed by more than just me that they were striking together. That pale hair and those blue eyes they both possessed, and of course they were close friends.

What I hadn't heard in full, back then, was the story of Clare's expatriation. At the time, Britain had struck some kind of political deal with the United States to take some of the expatriate children; a sort of experiment, I believe, which failed fairly quickly. Still, Clare was put shipboard in Australia and taken to America, where she was quarantined in an orphanage for six months. It must have been dreadful, to be so small -- she was only three or four -- and to be trapped away from the world with only a nurse and some cast-off books for company.

At the time Jack's parents were still alive, but the Baker family lived quite close to the orphanage, and Jack -- as you well know -- has always been inquisitive. I believe they met four months into Clare's quarantine, when Jack broke the lock on her window and introduced himself.

It must have been quite a meeting.

Now, come forward some fifteen years and let me set the rest of the scene for you properly. We were on the reservation at the time, and Clare had not only taken over my negotiations but demanded to see the tribal elders. It was a hot day and very dusty, and I was still personally quite shaken by the revelations we'd heard. To think that the plague which not only tempered the Australian convicts but raced through the Tribes and managed to kill quite a lot of them -- to think that it was nothing more than an enduring, self-replicating Creation -- well, Creating something permanent is blasphemy in the church's eyes. I wonder if one single convict Created it inadvertently, or if it was some kind of mass effort. I suppose we shall never know.

Dr. Saturday, of whom you've heard so much, took us down this dry and unpaved street to a sort of lean-to built up against a wash-house, a communal laundry with one of the few functioning water-pumps in the village. It smelled like soap and wet fabric, good clean things. There were a handful of Elders there, most of whom I'd met before, holding some sort of discussion with a group of young men and women; politics, perhaps, or the state of the land.

All of them noticed us coming. You couldn't help notice! Three white folk and a Hindu-Baratarian pirate will make an impression.

Clare was twenty years old and as you recall extremely beautiful. She was wearing one of those inconvenient dresses that were the style in Australia at the time, but she wore it well. She marched right through this crowd of young Kooris, up to where the old men were seated, so of course we had to follow. We were quite surrounded by Wiradjuri tribesmen. I imagine any white Australian would have feared for his life.

"My name is Clare Fields," Clare said to them, very loudly and, I thought, very unnecessarily. They all knew her name. "I am the daughter of a white woman named Miranda Fields and a man named Christopher, who lived in Melbourne twenty years ago."

"There are plenty of men named Christopher," said one of the men. "What does that matter to us?"

"He was a Koori," she said.

You could have shoved me and I'd have fallen over, Annie, I really would have. There wasn't a hint of Koori in Clare from her blonde hair to her white feet. The men mostly laughed and Jack, bless him, said, "Don't laugh at her!"

"You're not a Koori, girl," another Elder said.

"Aren't I?" Clare asked, and she dropped her glamour.

It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen, Annie. Even an old heretic like me knew that glamours were mostly a myth, and not a very important one at that. It was supposed to be extraordinarily difficult. If a Creationist could easily Create themselves up another face, another appearance, it would have been outlawed regardless because Father LaRoche was a great proponent of not telling lies. Yet here was this woman standing before me and a crowd of semi-hostile Wiradjuri, and suddenly her straight blonde hair was turning black and curly. Her skin was darkening, changing, becoming that lovely flawless deep brown you've heard me remark on.

Later, Jack told me that Clare had come to America without a glamour; when she'd met him, in America, she'd wanted to look like him, sandy haired and snub nosed, not like the little brown girl people had stared at on the journey. My heart breaks for her when I think of it -- that she told her quarantine nurse she shouldn't look like herself, and the wretched woman encouraged it. It may have made life easier for the poor child, but it undoubtedly took its toll.

At any rate, it is what it is: she Created a face for herself that looked like Jack's. She picked a blond blue-eyed boy, and hid away all that lovely black hair and those beautiful brown eyes for her entire young life.

Can you imagine it? Hiding behind a mask like that all throughout school, learning to be a Creationist despite so much of her talent already going towards the glamour? She kept the secret through the trip to England, the flight in the airship and our wild days in North Australia, even when I was practically dying of a fever in the bush. She listened to me go on about Tribals as if I knew a thing I was saying, and all the while she was hiding that she was a Koori herself.

I understand why she might have done it, why she might have felt forced to do it, but I wish she could have felt she could show her own face -- if not in public, then at least to me. I wish I hadn't found out the way I had.

When she finally turned to me -- and in my mind it was the first thing she did, though I could be mistaken -- she said, "I'm sorry, Ellis."

Annie, I tried as hard as I could not to fall in love with her. I really did. She aggravated me well before we even arrived in Australia. She questioned my art, she treated my work for the Crown like some light adventure, she was pompous about my admittedly loose morals, and besides all that she was so young. Of course I thought she was beautiful, and she lost none of her beauty in the change, but it wasn't like I hadn't been with beautiful women before.

She was nothing I thought I wanted, and then she turned around and I knew. I was angry with her, but that wasn't new and anyway it wasn't that at all. Everything about her suddenly fell into place, but it wasn't that either.

I was jealous. How absurd, I know, but I was. I was jealous of Jack because he obviously had known for some time, and jealous of the Wiradjuri because it was blatantly clear that she belonged to them, no matter that she'd been raised and educated as a white woman. I was angry and jealous and there are only a few people who can raise that combination of feeling in me, and all of them have been people I loved with a depth of affection that I could scarcely afford for Clare bloody Fields.

People always want to look at it as politics. They want to ask me what it meant for the Kooris, what it meant for Australia, how a Koori woman raised in America changed the course of history. I could go on for books and books about the meaning of that moment, but I haven't, and now you know why.

We weren't political machines. We were people. I can't separate the political importance from the personal. Clare always got through my defenses somehow.

Of course right then and there was hardly the place to drop to my knees and profess true and undying love, so I didn't. I had a job to do. And I daresay the Kooris were quite as stunned by this turn of events as I was.

***

When Clare dropped her glamour, Jack heard Graveworthy inhale sharply. Purva clenched his hand so hard his bones nearly broke.

"What is this?" she asked in a hissing whisper.

"It's a glamour," Jack replied, just as softly. "She's showing her true face."

"She is Tribal!"

"Koori, yes."

"And you knew?"

"Yeah," Jack admitted. "Purva, keep your knife handy."

"Ah, oui," Purva's right hand, the one not holding his, went to her belt. A few paces away, one of the Wiradjuri was standing. Nobody was looking at anybody but Clare.

"May I?" the old man asked, holding out a hand. Clare nodded and braced herself as he lifted it and touched her cheekbone, ran fingers through her hair, picked up one of her hands and studied it.

Jack hadn't seen Clare stripped of her glamour in years, not since long before his parents had died. He didn't think of her as the chin-lifted Koori woman who was allowing the Elder to prod her ribs and study her face; he just thought of her as Clare, and when he looked for her in a crowd it was for yellow hair, hair like his.

He dared a quick look at Graveworthy, and saw that all the color had drained from his face. When he looked back at Clare, the Elder had finished his examination. She turned to give the rest of them a sweeping glance, then met Graveworthy's eyes.

"I'm sorry, Ellis," she said. Graveworthy made some kind of aborted gesture, restraining himself, then nodded past her at the Elders. She turned her attention back to them.

"Well," Libris said drily, breaking the tension, "this is a surprise."

"You are a Koori and a Creationist," Saturday observed.

"Yes," Clare answered, turning to her. "And that makes my loyalties obvious, wouldn't you say?"

"Your loyalties lie with the Crown, Miss Fields, no matter the color of your skin," Graveworthy said sharply.

"And I think I remember you saying something about the Crown offering assistance to these people," Clare snapped back. "Or was that all talk, Ellis?"

"You infuriating woman," Graveworthy retorted helplessly.

"I won't be your bargaining chip. Be quiet and let me talk with them," Clare commanded. Ellis started forward and the rest of the Kooris tensed, but Jack lunged and caught his elbow before he got very far.

"Easy," Jack said, tugging him backwards. He was surprised at how little effort it took; Ellis was tall and imposing but not actually very well-muscled. "Not the time, Graveworthy," he whispered.

"The point is," Clare said to the Elders, "that you need a Creationist to give you power, and we need an army to unseat the warmongers in Parliament. Not to conquer and slaughter the whites, not to destroy the Australia that they've built. Some of it is beautiful and most of it is useful."

"I'm with her," Jack heard himself say, still holding tightly to Graveworthy's elbow.

"I think this can be a bloodless coup, if you're willing to listen to me and to Ellis, once he's calmed down."

"Once I've -- !" Graveworthy repeated, outraged. Clare shot him a quelling look. Jack would have paid large sums of money he didn't have for a picture of that look; it was priceless.

"Maybe we don't want a bloodless coup," one of the younger women in the group said.

"Then you don't get one at all," Clare retorted. "You'll listen to me or you won't have me."

"But you need us," a young man pointed out. "For your plan. And besides, why couldn't we just take you prisoner and force you?"

There was a click. Jack blinked, surprised. He hadn't even felt Ellis move, but the arm Jack wasn't restraining was now holding the revolver Ellis carried, and it was aimed at the boy's head.

"I have six bullets," Ellis said. "And Purva has a knife and an aggressive nature. We probably wouldn't get out alive but I bet we could take all of you down with us, so you go near her at your peril."

"Ellis, for God's sake," Clare said.

"No, he's correct," one of the Elders said. "We have no reason to jail her, Mr. Graveworthy. Put the gun away. You will not come to harm on Koori land. Will she?" he asked loudly. The boy who'd threatened her looked ashamed of himself. "But this is something to think on. William?"

"Sir," Libris said.

"You know them best. What do you think?"

Libris cocked his head at Clare. "These people seem offended by the way we're treated. Before he had good reason to be kind to me, Mr. Baker treated me with respect. Miss de la Fitte understands what it is to be a Koori, perhaps better than Miss Fields. Mr. Graveworthy's intentions aren't pure, but I suspect they never are, and he's been honest about them. I don't think this is a secret Miss Fields shares lightly."

The Elder who'd asked him grunted and nodded. "Very well. Saturday?"

"I," Saturday said, and then paused. "I don't actually know how to ask this. You're a trained Creationist?"

"Yes," Clare said. "I'm not licensed though."

Jack fought down a hysterical laugh. Neither of them had graduated school yet...

"I'd like to ask you questions. We've only had theory until now. If you could -- well, if you could stay," Saturday glanced apologetically at Graveworthy, as if she thought he might threaten to shoot her, too.

"I need to be back in town tonight," Graveworthy said. He looked like he was thinking fast. "I can't make excuses for my daughter and her husband disappearing the night before thousands of pounds pass into my hands."

"Are you certain you simply don't want to leave her with a bunch of rebellious Tribals?" Libris said sardonically.

"Thousands of pounds," Graveworthy repeated. "And a very key moment in our strategy. I'll need you too, Libris."

"Me?" Libris asked, surprised.

"Yes. This is falling into place very fast." Graveworthy turned to the Elders. "If you let me guide you I will help you, but I need today and tomorrow to put everything in place. I can give you Parliament, but you have to trust me and you have to let me take her back with me. I'll bring her again in two days, I swear."

"How will you do this?" one of the few female Elders asked. Jack glanced at Graveworthy, wondering the same thing.

"Purva," Graveworthy said, "Why don't you take Jack and Clare back to the auto. Stay there until I come down, won't you?"

"Ellis -- " Clare started, but he shook his head sharply.

"I won't be long. You'll be back in two days. This is my business with -- with your Elders," he said, stumbling a little over your. "Go on, Clare."

Jack looked back and forth between them, wary, until finally Clare sighed and stepped back. She took Jack's hand and nodded at Purva.

As they walked away, he glanced back over his shoulder. Graveworthy was crouched in the dust, raking one hand through it, the other gesturing as he spoke. Most of the younger Wiradjuri had gathered around him and were listening intently as he plucked stones out of the dirt and arranged them. Jack had no idea what the stones meant, but he suspected when he found out he wouldn't like it.

"Are you okay?" he asked, turning back to Clare.

"I feel a little naked," she said.

"You want to put your glamour back on?"

"Yes," she said. "Can you..."

"Of course." He let go of her hand. "Purva, stop a minute."

Purva trotted back towards them, eyes following Clare as she ducked between two low, shabby mud-brick houses for some privacy.

"She is dressing," Purva said.

"Good way to put it," Jack replied, surprised when Purva slid her hand down his arm and squeezed his fingers.

"You have known, I think, a long time," she said.

"Since we were kids."

"You keep secrets well."

Jack shrugged.

"Do you love her, very much?"

He gave her a small grin. "Jealous, Purva?"

Purva smiled and kissed him -- quick, efficient, nothing more than a press of the lips before she drew back.

"No, I think not," she said smugly, as he stared at her.

"All right," Clare said, emerging from between the houses, pale and blonde and blue-eyed once more. "Come on then, let's go."

Jack reflected, as he followed the women down the hill, that this was not at all what he had anticipated when he signed on to build Ellis Graveworthy a flying machine.

***

They waited with Mary at the auto for perhaps half an hour before Ellis showed up, trailed by Libris. Clare had expected Saturday to come down to see her again, but Libris shook his head.

"She has preparations to make," he said. "She's never encountered a Creationist with any skill before."

"She's trying not to crack up, isn't she," Jack said knowingly. Clare glanced at him sharply.

"Perhaps, a little," Libris admitted. "But such is the case with all of us. We weren't expecting a Koori woman to return home and bring salvation with her, Miss Fields."

"Salvation hasn't come yet," Ellis replied, leaning on the automobile. "There is work still to do."

"Well, there's hope, now, which is sometimes as good," Libris said. "I've sent messengers along the Songlines -- which reminds me. Did your father have a surname, Miss Fields?"

"If it wasn't Fields, then I didn't know it," Clare answered. "Why?"

"I assume you'd like to find him. Do you know his tribe?"

"I would, yes – but I don't know what tribe he was, I'm sorry."

"There are a fair few of us who married white men and women," he said. "Did you have another name before you were Clare Fields?"

Clare shook her head.

"Very well. I'll make some inquiries. Mr. Graveworthy, we'll meet again tomorrow? And I'm sure I will see you again soon, Miss Fields. Miss de la Fitte?" he added, offering her his arm to lead her back to the Res and presumably the train station. Clare watched them even after Mary started the automobile and they began to pull away.

It was difficult to talk as they bounced down the dirt road, and Ellis didn't seem inclined to it anyway. She and Jack had made their peace with her glamour a long time ago; the man she needed to speak with about it was Ellis, and he seemed distracted, unwilling to engage.

Australia was so beautiful, even the scrubby brown fields of yellow dirt, pitted with crude roads and marked here and there by small farms. This was dry, desperate country, but there was a severity about it that appealed to her. She could see why Kooris would choose to move to the lush, humid northern territories where they had more freedom and there were green growing things, but the desert was beautiful too.

None of them spoke until they were back on city streets, rolling through the Canberra suburbs. Ellis looked exhausted when he did speak.

"Libris and Purva will be arriving this evening, probably around eight," he said, as they made their way towards the haze of electric light that signaled central Canberra at dusk. "I'll have work to do then. Tomorrow is an important day, but I don't expect to sleep much tonight. I'm bound for the land office in the morning and then there's a luncheon for my clients. We have that concert Bell invited us to in the evening, and the day after that you and Jack are supposed to be looking for houses in Canberra."

"That's why we have to wait to go back to the Res?" Clare asked.

"We can't flinch, not now," he said, and gave her a strange, curious look she couldn't interpret. "Are you certain you can do what Dr. Saturday requires?"

"How do you mean?"

"Well. If she believes that this curse is something Created, that's fairly powerful, wouldn't you say? To be self-perpetuating the way it is. Are you certain you can Create a cure? How would you go about starting?"

"I don't know. Some maybe depends on how much Saturday can help me. I suppose it's possible, but anything is possible."

"As we have had proof today," he said, and Clare looked away, out the window. They didn't speak of it again.

***

At dinner that night, Ellis cleared off a portion of the table's center, crowding wineglasses and forks and napkins to one side. He set out two saltcellars, a saucer, and a tiny dessert spoon.

"I want you to understand this," he said to them, indicating the assorted tableware. "You don't need to comprehend everything that's happening here, but in case I'm absent for some reason, this will be important to know."

"Why would you be absent?" Clare asked.

"Well, it wouldn't be voluntary. That's not important. This is how the land deal functions," Ellis continued, indicating the salt-cellars. "These are the various banks of Australia, where the rich and mighty do their work. The men involved in the land deal agree to borrow money from the assorted banks, so as not to put undue pressure on any one bank, should the loans go into default. They agree to pay these banks back month-by-month, year-by-year, but the bank puts all the money up front."

"All right," Jack said, looking bored. "So?"

"The full amount of each loan is loaded in cash into a bank box and transferred from the individual banks to one specific bank in Canberra. They note down that it belongs in my account," Ellis continued, spooning salt from the cellars onto the saucer. "The idea being that I'll take ten percent of it out, put it down in good-faith payment for the land, and transfer the rest to the government once the land has been surveyed properly and the deeds passed over. The government is paid lucratively for the land and title is transferred to private hands, who will then sell the land back to the men planning the transcontinental railroad at -- presumably -- a much higher cost."

He laced his fingers together, forming a fist, and rested his chin on them, regarding Jack. "Now, what happens if it's discovered that there is no company building a transcontinental railroad?"

Clare watched Jack frown, considering it. "The land isn't valuable, and everyone who owns it takes a loss, right?"

"And?"

"And...some of that money is gone from the banks and won't be repaid, because people will default."

"And the banks fail. The degree of severity in their failure is dependent upon how many people know this is coming and attempt to get cash from the bank -- " he tapped the salt-cellars, " -- cash the bank doesn't have, having sent it all down to me here in the saucer."

"But if they find out you're a fraud, can't they just seize the money and give it back?" Clare asked.

"Not if it isn't there," Ellis said, grinning and placing a hand over the saucer to conceal it.

"Why wouldn't it be..." Jack trailed off. Clare watched realization pass over his face; she'd known what Ellis meant to do almost as soon as he said it, but Jack always wore his emotions on his sleeve (along with engine grease, and sometimes a few misplaced food crumbs). "Are you seriously going to steal it?" he hissed in a low voice.

"It shouldn't be hard. I opened an account with a very specific bank, chosen for its good reputation but rather lax security."

"How do the Kooris fit in?" Clare asked.

"My hope is that we won't have to actually force the banks to fail; the fear of it should be enough to cause panic in the streets. Enter the Kooris, able to protect themselves and sustain industry with Creationism, and the white population becomes dependent on the Koori one. They hold all the power. They'd be inclined, I think, to listen to reason -- to listen to me. The Australian warships are scrapped, the balance of power shifts, the ports open because the Dead Isle is no longer dead...and we go home."

He smiled faintly on the last few words, eyes drifting away from them, out over the crowded dining room.

"So, no pressure," Clare said. He snorted.

"No, none at all."

Jack went still beside her, then, and Clare followed his gaze; Purva was lurking in the kitchen doorway, returned from the Res. She gave a small wave, then disappeared.

"I think I'll go up to the suite," Jack said.

"Subtle," Clare murmured. Jack gave her a smile as he signed their bill with a flourish, John Parsons, and stood.

"Coming up?"

She saw Ellis open his mouth to agree, but she spoke before he could.

"No, I think we'll take a walk," she said, resting a hand on Ellis's arm. "It's a nice night."

"Ah," Ellis answered. "Yes. Go on ahead, Jack, we won't be too long."

***

They left the restaurant unhurriedly, strolling out into the night; Ellis shoved his hands in his pockets, looking up at the dark sky.

"Have you noticed how invisible the stars are?" he asked, as they strolled. "They're not even as bright as in Boston or Cambridge, and not nearly so bright as the countryside."

He kept his posture relaxed, shoulders down; he wasn't looking forward to this, not to any of it, but he supposed it had to be done.

"The next few weeks won't be easy, will they?" she asked.

"No more for you than for me," he observed. "More than difficult, they'll be dangerous. I'd keep you out of them if I could, but that's no longer an option."

She nodded, turning them gently into the park near the hotel. It was quieter here, less crowded -- a private place to talk.

"Not that I have a large sample to draw from," she said finally, "but mostly when people find out the first thing they ask to do is touch me. Like the Elder did on the Res today."

Ellis stopped, pretending to be fascinated with the low-hanging branches of a native tree. "How many people know?" he asked.

"Not many. My nurse at the orphanage, when I first arrived. Jack, obviously. The school doctor in Boston. One of my teachers -- that was a slip, but she was kind and she liked me, so she hasn't told. That's all really."

"Not the Head?"

"No. I didn't see why he should know."

He nodded. "You know you could have told me."

"There are any number of people I could have told, Ellis," she said. "That doesn't mean I should have."

"Are you ashamed of it?"

"Being a Koori, or lying?"

"Being a Koori."

"I used to be. Some of the children at the orphanage would come and stare at me. I don't know what they thought happened when I started...hiding myself, but nobody seemed to question it." She shrugged. "Maybe they thought Kooris turned white when they left Australia, I don't know. I just didn't want to stand out, not for that. It was hard enough being an expat without being a Tribal expat too. Now, it's second nature."

"It can't have been easy."

"Easier than the alternative. Maybe." She seemed to pull inwards on herself a little. "My teachers always said I could do so much more if I applied myself. And it was hard, if there was a boy I liked...thinking of telling him, thinking of how he'd react. I ended up...very independent."

"You had Jack, at least."

"Yes, for a while." Clare glanced at him. "After his parents died, nobody really had Jack. He'd look after me, he cares about me, but..."

"Yes, I've seen."

"He seems better now, though. More like he was when we were children."

"Clare, I have to confess, at the moment I don't care much about Jack," he said, turning to walk backwards, facing her. "I don't want you to think I pity you, but imagining what it must have been like -- what it must be like now -- I feel as if I should apologize. I'm not even certain for what."

"It doesn't matter. I mean it, you know. At this point it's...it is what it is. It has nothing to do with shame or pride. Well." She tilted her head a little. "I'm ashamed because of the way the Wiradjuri have to live, but I'm not ashamed of them. Being one of them."

Ellis came to a stop, and Clare stopped too, very close.

"What about the Edicts?" he asked, his voice low. "Glamours are a lie."

"I don't think Father LaRoche intended the laws he passed on to us to cause us pain," she answered. "Creationism is a religion of truth, but little lies are necessary."

"This is hardly a little lie."

"Nobody was hurt by it."

"Except you."

"You don't get to tell me when I have and haven't been hurt. Besides, you're a fine one to talk about lying. You're proud of all the lies you tell."

"I'm not scolding you. I don't think I've the right," he said. "I just want to understand."

"What more is there to understand? Nothing I've said or done would have been different if I were wearing a different face," Clare said, clearly a little stung.

"No, but some of what's happened is certainly clearer now." He took a deep breath, let it out slowly. "I wish I had known."

"And now you do. And now I'm your weapon, isn't that right?"

Ellis shook his head. "No more than Purva and Jack. No more than I am myself. That is what it means to be in Her Majesty's service. We are all weapons of the Empire. We strive to be...forces for good, but in the end someone is always going to be hurt."

"This is my country. I want to do the right thing."

"I believe you are. Don't you?"

"I don't know."

Ellis studied her, eyes skating over her face, her hair. She ducked a little, the long blonde strands falling around her in a screen.

"How does it work?" he asked, resisting the urge to touch it, to sift the strands against each other. "Does it cover you, or...?"

"I don't know."

"But you knew how to do it."

"With lots of practice."

He could see, in this face, the remnants of her true face, the one he'd seen for only a few minutes on the Res -- something about the structure of her nose and brow still lingered. Without thinking he brushed a thumb over her cheekbone, let his fingers slide up her temple into her hair. She closed her eyes, and he dropped his hand as quickly as he could.

"I don't think anyone around here would say it's nice -- my real face, I mean," she said, looking away. He touched her chin, but only to tip her face up again.

"Whether it's nice or not doesn't really matter, although for the record you are a fine example of beauty either way," he said. She blinked slowly. "It will always be your choice, but when this is over I must say I hope you keep your own face. For one thing, given your skills as a Creator, imagine what you could do if you weren't holding the mask up all the time."

"I do quite well as I am, thanks," she replied.

"So you do. And the choice, of course, is yours." He let go of her chin and stepped back, forcing himself to put both hands in his pockets again. "We should go in. God knows what Jack and Purva will get up to if left alone."

Clare laughed. "I don't think we need to worry."

"I'm not concerned about any moral issues; I've just been listening with half an ear for an explosion."

They walked back in silence, at least until they reached the suite; he dug in a pocket for his key, but she rested a hand on the knob, eyes scanning the corridor carefully.

"How angry are you?" she asked. She held a strange half-defiant, half-afraid pose, one he'd seen before -- when she confronted him in Boston, when she was angry with him on the airship.

"I haven't any right to be angry," he said.

"Yes," she smiled. "But how angry are you?"

He considered the question. "Not very," he said finally. "And it will pass."

"Good. I've never been happy before, that someone knew. Besides," she added, "did you see the looks on their faces when I showed them who I was?"

He smiled, gently reaching past her to unlock the door, holding it for her. "It won't be the last time you surprise Australia, I suspect."

Chapter Twenty-Two

Date: 2012-05-11 08:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kallaneboi.livejournal.com
"I don't live my life to please Ellis Graveworthy," Clare retorted. There was a cough from behind them. "Ellis, you're out of your depth right now, be quiet."

"When have you ever known me to be quiet when I'm out of my depth?" Ellis asked from behind her.

"It's just, there's a time and place," Jack hissed.

"And this is it."


Who said that last line? I'm assuming Clare, but it could just as easily be Ellis.

Date: 2012-05-11 09:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] catlinye-maker.livejournal.com
"Yes, well," Ellis said, resting a hand on her shoulder in a subtle signal not to speak.

The hand on the shoulder thing happens a lot in this scene, and might benefit from a cleanup, making it consistent. Ellis rests his hand on Clare's shoulder from the start, then tightens it, then rests it again in the passage above, then nearly bruises her before she shrugs it off. I looked hard at that because the passage above made me think briefly that it was the doctor's shoulder he was resting a hand on, since the doctor is speaking just before this.

On another hand, throughout, Ellis is identified as Ellis half the time and Graveworthy the other half, and he's the only character who switches names without what I see on cursory reading as a good reason. There may be a rational behind this but at the moment it seems rather random, and sometimes jarring. It is very likely that there's some reasoning behind the name switches that I am not getting, is that the case?

And on the gripping hand, as it were, may I say how very hard it is getting to read this with critical intent, because I am enjoying the story too much. I was fairly certain that Clare was part Tribal by the hints in the manuscript and in the comments, but I never ever saw a glamour coming. Bravo!

Date: 2012-05-11 10:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rockangel7011.livejournal.com
> I looked hard at that because the passage above made me think briefly that it was the doctor's shoulder he was resting a hand on, since the doctor is speaking just before this.

I had the same response! Needs a little tidying.

Date: 2012-05-11 09:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sanura.livejournal.com
""We have some clever craftsman among us," she said"
craftsmen?

Date: 2012-05-11 09:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] patu-paiarehe.livejournal.com
Eeeeh! I have been looking forward to this chapter since you started posting them! I was too busy enjoying it to look out for any flaws.

Fantastic

Date: 2012-05-11 09:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pippinsalanna.livejournal.com
I know how dangerous this game is that you're playing.
This seems like kind of an odd statement for Ellis to make with a grin. Maybe if his face sobered after the "little bit of this, little bit of that" or something

When did we establish that Purva is Hindu? Ellis describes her as Hindu-Baratarian but I had missed any mention of her religion before this.

Clare was twenty years old and as you recall extremely beautiful
"and, as you recall, extremely beautiful" reads a little better to me.

"She's trying not to crack up, isn't she,"
Mostly I've heard "crack up" to be to crack up laughing, which I didn't think the context was here.

I knew from your clues here and there that Clare definitely was part Koori and I was worried it would make the moment less climactic, but the glamour was still a surprise, so I'm glad that worked out. Also, I read the original Dead Isle (because I couldn't stand the suspense) so I knew there was the scene where Clare dropped the glamour for Ellis in the hotel afterwards. Is there a reason you decided to change it so he's just remembering her real face? I liked the park setting but it seemed more intimate when Clare actually dropped her defenses for him.

Date: 2012-05-11 10:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiena-tesedale.livejournal.com
While I love this chapter, and have been looking forward to it since the start, I didn't like the fact that the big reveal was told in a letter, post-story. It lost a lot of its impact, for me. I understand that you can't show a lot of what Ellis is thinking in the 'normal' narrative, but I really think the actual dropping of the glamour would be better in standard narrative, to give it more punch, with the letter - and further explanation, plus reveal of Ellis' feelings - afterwards. Actually, the focus on Ellis' feelings is part of the problem, I think - it felt like he was stealing Clare's thunder, a bit. The moment wasn't about *her*, it was about Ellis reacting to her. That's how it felt to me, at least.

Also, I agree with others about Ellis' hand on Clare's shoulder - especially the uncertain pronoun of 'she' at one point (Clare or Dr. Saturday).

Date: 2012-05-11 11:54 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I dunno, to me "Clare dropped her glamour and they all gasped" doesn't have as much impact to me as Ellis remembering, "Clare dropped her glamour and you could have knocked me over with a feather!" :D

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From: [identity profile] chicleeblair.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-12 07:04 pm (UTC) - Expand

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Date: 2012-05-11 10:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] belgianqueen.livejournal.com
‘You couldn’t help notice!’
--- This feels a little abrupt. Perhaps ‘You couldn't help but notice!’ or ‘You couldn’t help noticing!’. I like the first suggestion as the rhythm flings the stress onto ‘help’.

The glamour narrative is terrific. So commanding.

Date: 2012-05-11 10:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] beyondthesunset.livejournal.com
ZOMG did not see that coming. At all. You bloody genius you. Must reread now for clues.

Date: 2012-05-12 12:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] revieloutionne.livejournal.com
Having read the explanation of the con, I'd say leave it. The brilliance of the con is that the con isn't the fake railway, "the fake railway is the con" is the con. Plus, I love that Ellis isn't tricking people into giving him money, but that he's tricking people into making perfectly legitimate (if kind of shade re: land price markups) business decisions that, as a side-effect, put a whole lot of their collective money in one place. ...so that he can steal it.

Granted, he could, I'm sure, just talk people out of their money, but that wouldn't ruin the banks when the investors demand back money that suddenly the banks don't have, after the investors find out the railway was a con (but not the con).

So I guess really what I meant in my comment last chapter was that I don't understand what the hell is going on as far as what the business deals actually accomplish as far as business goes, but that's largely irrelevant given that I understand their place in the metacon.



Also, while I really, really like the letter Ellis writes, it cuts into the scene slightly too early to my tastes. Let Clare's glamour drop, let the reader know what that actually means and now that the reader is fully expecting the room to explode, then hit them with "lemme stop you right there. Before we go on, while you are as in this moment as you will ever be, you need to know that this is the moment Ellis fell in love with Clare. Right then, back we go."

Is it is, we get Clare going all determined about something all rising-actiony, and then suddenly we're getting paragraphs about Jack and Clare looking like family which has, to the reader, absolutely nothing to do with the cool scene you just cut away from, before Ellis' letter picks up where the narrative left off, but now with horrifically lost momentum. Even on this read, knowing ahead of time why Ellis would consider that resemblance relevant to the events we just cut from, it's poorly paced.

"Aren't I?" Clare asked, and she dropped her glamour.

It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen, Annie. Even an old heretic like me knew that glamours were mostly a myth...


To my eye, that paragraph break is where you should start the excerpt from Ellis' letter. It's the cut from external events to inside Ellis' head, anyway, and it's also the moment his thoughts advance past the point at which we rejoin the narrative, so you still get Clare Drops Her Glamour: Ellis Version and Clare Drops Her Glamour: Real Version, which I do really like. (Especially seeing both how Ellis is wrong about Clare apologizing immediately, and why he would remember it that way.)

Failing the "here are Factual Reasons for making the cut to the letter there," there's just the fact that that is the moment that screams for it. Clare drops the glamour, the letter cuts in to explain what that actually means, moves immediately to "BTW ILU CLARE <333 - ELLIS" and then we return to the action. I can't see the momentum flagging that way, and the only thing I see you losing from what Ellis says before that is that he'd been told of a familial resemblance between Jack and Clare, and there are so many ways to work that into really any part of the story, what with all the strangers J&C meet throughout, oh, the entire book. Even on the airship!

Everything else in the early part of the letter is, save the bit of narration of events you'd just leave as non-epistolary narration, redundant for one reason or another.

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From: [identity profile] jonaht.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-13 07:07 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-12 05:24 am (UTC)
wintercreek: Silhouette of a person with an umbrella under a multi-colored rain with the text "starshowers." ([misc] starshowers)
From: [personal profile] wintercreek
I LOVE the reveal of Clare as is - I think the use of document excerpts to foreshadow things has been well established by this point, so it doesn't throw me out of the story at all to have Ellis's letter precede the moment Clare drops her glamour in real time. And I love the secret! When I read the first draft I didn't make it this far (I think I stopped somewhere around the point that they initially snuck on to the train), so I had no idea what was coming. But after the reveal, I kept thinking of details that suddenly made more sense, like Clare's remembering interracial couples even though she was only three when she was expatriated - makes perfect sense if she's remembering not just couples she saw on the street but her parents. As does the strength of her reaction to the "No tribals, no dogs" signs, now that I can see why that strikes particularly close for her. (I withdraw my earlier questions about her reaction, now that I can see its function as another piece of foreshadowing.)

The edits I would have flagged have already been picked up by others, so I won't worry about those. Just wanted to say that the structure and substance of Clare's reveal worked for me, in case another data point is useful.

Date: 2012-05-12 02:41 pm (UTC)
minkrose: (Ms Jack Sparrow (me!))
From: [personal profile] minkrose
Saturday led them to a building which proclaimed itself a general store. 

How do we know?  Aren't we on the Res?  Are the signs in English?

"Ellis, for God's sake," Clare said. 

I haven't been paying attention -- do they say God?  Or the Creator?  I thought there was a difference.  Though, the phrase conveys the right tone.  It's used twice in this chapter.

"I suppose it's possible, but anything is possible."

"As we have had proof today," he said, and Clare looked away, 


Seems like there should be an of after proof.


Beyond that, I mostly agree with the other comments posted.

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From: [personal profile] minkrose - Date: 2012-05-13 02:39 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-12 04:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] corbistheca.livejournal.com
Are the church and the clinic one building or two side by side? The description seemed to jump between the two enough that I wasn't sure.

The explanation of the created disease/created cure theory is a LOT easier to follow than I remember it being from the earlier draft -- awesome. And yet at the same time the tension in the room, the urgency and the lack of trust between some of the participants in the conversation, comes across very strongly.

I love the fragmentary conversation between our principle four, when Jack knows what Clare's planning, Purva's shocked by the shift in captaincy, and Ellis is out of his depth.

I have a hard time believing a four-year-old broke into an orphanage, even Jack. By the time he was six or seven, sure -- but four is a little young for that level of both physical dexterity and cognitive follow-through. Unless of course there's more of an age gap between Jack and Clare than I always thought.

I keep wondering about your choice to pull back from the pivotal moment -- to show us Clare's revelation through Ellis's polished writer voice, an after-the-fact telling, before returning to the moment and its reactions. I'm glad we get to see it through two perspectives -- through Jack's eyes and Ellis's memory -- but it keeps poking at me, I keep wondering about it. Also, I suppose I wonder why we never get Clare's experience of the reveal, or the choice, earlier, through her own perspective.

~ c.

Date: 2012-05-13 12:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] maeritrae.livejournal.com
Believe me," Saturday said, crossing her arms, "It galls to have to crawl to foreigners for our salvation

The I in It should only be a capital if it's a separate sentence, and I think it works better if it's not.

I'm not sure what to do with the sentence fragment where he points at the salt.

I do love Clare and Ellis. :D

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From: [identity profile] maeritrae.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-13 09:42 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-05-13 07:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] harkpad02.livejournal.com
"Yes; they said you were foreigners," she replied. = you can use a comma after yes instead of a semicolon.

Clare grinned a little and let them be, waiting for Ellis and Saturday to notice before she dawdled back. > I have to say that I am a teensy bit tired of Clare noticing and finding cute Jack’s adoration of Purva. I guess it’s another example of calling attention to Jack’s eccentricities, which I think I’m set with, twenty-one chapters in. If it were balanced with her own mixed feelings over Ellis it might work better, but for some reason this stuck out to me.

"Yes, well," Ellis said, resting a hand on her shoulder in a subtle signal not to speak. > Clare hasn’t spoken for a bit. The “her” in this sentence is, therefore, vague.

My two cents: I love the letter because it adds an extra reveal (Ellis is in love with Clare) to our big reveal. On the other hand, I did get a bit of mental whiplash when the letter started. I like the idea of moving the letter to a later point.

Date: 2012-05-15 06:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nakki.livejournal.com
"But you said you had Creationists -- " who's talking here?

"They can make fire, they can sometimes make little trinkets, toys, nothing
very complicated. We need someone trained. Believe me," Saturday said,
crossing her arms, "It galls to have to crawl to foreigners for our
salvation, but we have no choice. If you can bring us a trained
Creationist, I'm confident they could, with some medical understanding,
Create a cure. It's likely the only way one could ever exist."

"Yes, well," Ellis said, resting a hand on her (I know this Clare, but it doesn't seem clear.) shoulder
in a subtle signal
not to speak. "I should very much like to restore to you what is yours, butI think we must return to Miss Fields' objections. In the rest of the
world, Creationists act under enforced pacifism. I might want to bring down
the government but I won't put a tyranny of magic in its place."

~~
I think this is my favourite reveal of any book I've read. It's just so badass and fantastic. And Clare is the awesomest.

And cutting away to the Ellis' letter to Annie makes the moment last just the right amount of time.

And even having read this scene multiple times and knowing it was coming, I still got all emotional and shed some tears.

Date: 2012-05-16 12:12 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thkya.livejournal.com
Holy crap, I did not see that coming. Loved it! :D

Date: 2012-05-18 04:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] twirlynoodle.livejournal.com
Jack stopped to study the hinges on the panel, then nodded approvingly to Saturday and joined them.

I hesitated even to bring this up but decided to in the end: something about this seems very stagey to me. There’s nothing to prompt his nod but you take time to note it anyway ... it falls in a gap between ‘character quirk’ and ‘important bit of action’ which sits uncomfortably with me. If Saturday had noticed him studying the hinges and his nod was a response to her attention (a sort of ‘?’ ‘!’ nonverbal conversation) it wouldn't feel out of place and would be a nice connection between the two, though it would be a lot more significant if she had made the door apparatus herself. If he’s not communicating with anyone, then why nod? Especially when it’s Jack ‘Needs to Catch Up On a Lifetime’s Socialization’ Baker. It’s the sort of externalisation of the internal that whiffs of bad acting. This is such a tiny thing to go into such depth about, but this is the second stagey bit of business in this chapter (the first being the sweep of Saturday’s hand to take in the Res at the beginning) and it undermines the authenticity of it in my mind.

"I'd like to keep preachers out of this, if we could," Saturday replied sharply. Clare felt Ellis tighten his hand on her shoulder.

I don’t really understand the motivation for Ellis’ hand – I assume he’s trying subtly to restrain her, but something about it comes off as him tensing up in reaction to Saturday and nothing to do with Clare. Also: why is his hand already resting on her shoulder? It seems a little short of motivation when he put it there, too. What if he just placed his hand on Clare’s shoulder here? That seems more like a gesture of caution/reassurance than a subconscious reaction.

"William, if you don't shut up I'll gag you," Saturday said, at the same time.

I don’t understand why this has to be said at the same time; it’s confusing to try to picture it and doesn’t serve the characters in any way. Besides, if she were saying it at the same time as Ellis suggested there was more to the story, how would she have heard what he said to reply to it?

"Yes, well," Ellis said, resting a hand on her shoulder in a subtle signal not to speak.

There, see? You’ve done it here. But his hand was already on her shoulder! Or else I missed where it left. Ellis and his wandering hands! Maybe it could squeeze here? Then Clare could get more antsy as the conversation progressed – something I am not getting a sense of now – so when she does finally disregard Ellis’s warnings it feels a bit more like a geyser suddenly erupting.

Maaaaaaaaaaaaaan I love this chapter. :D

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] twirlynoodle.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-05-30 04:18 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2012-06-16 10:12 pm (UTC)
ext_14419: the mouse that wants Arthur's brain (Default)
From: [identity profile] derien.livejournal.com
Some of it looked like it might be stolen.

Because....? It was better quality, there was only one of the item on the shelf...? I don't know why, but I feel offended for the Koori at her assumption. ;)

Date: 2012-06-17 12:51 am (UTC)
ext_14419: the mouse that wants Arthur's brain (Default)
From: [identity profile] derien.livejournal.com
So... why did they expat her rather than dissecting her? Is that something I'm going to find out, soon?

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] derien.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-06-19 01:40 am (UTC) - Expand
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