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Official HFQ Snippet #24

This fascinating series is a combination of historical seafaring, swashbuckling adventure, and high technological science-fiction. Join us in a discussion!
Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by runsforcelery   » Mon May 11, 2015 12:29 am

First Space Lord

Posts: 2425
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 11:39 am
Location: South Carolina

People —

As some of you may have heard, things have been a little . . . hectic around Casa del Weber the last few days. I more or less collapsed Thursday morning when by a pulse rate bottomed out at around 34 beats per minute. Now, I've always had a relatively low pulse rate, but that was just a tab low even for me. As it happened, two of our close friends who also happened to be EMTs were at the house when this happened, so they hauled out their magic bags, took my pulse, check my blood pressure, listen to my lungs, and then ratted me out to my GP. And he (not too surprisingly, I suppose [he said grudgingly]) sent me to the ER and the ER stuck me in a hospital bed overnight.

They let me go home Friday afternoon, but with a portable cardio monitor that I have to wear 24-hours a day. We have conventions in Canada and Minneapolis coming up over the next two weekends, and we are scheduled to leave for Canada this Thursday. My newly acquired cardiologist understands that it's important for me to make the trip, and he's promised to work with us on that, but he's also made it plain that if the stress tests I'll be undergoing in the next couple of days and the readout from this portable monitor don't make him happy, he's not going to let me go. In which case, these will be the first two scheduled conventions I've missed in 25 years. I am hoping very much to keep my record intact, but things are sort of out of my hands in a lot of ways. For example, Sharon has informed me that she has a hammer and I have kneecaps and they could find themselves enjoying a close relationship if I tried to get on the plane after Doctor Stewart tells me I can't go.

Anyway, here's the next snippet.


Nimue’s Cave,
Mountains of Light,
The Temple Lands.

“Owl and I have completed our analysis.”

Nahrmahn Baytz’s holographic eyes tracked around the faces of the other members of the small group assembled — physically or electronically — at the table in Nimue’s Cave. Actually, only Merlin, Aivah, and Sandaria Ghatfryd were physically present, but this time Owl had generated full holographic images of all of the attendees rather than simply projecting them onto the contact lenses of those scattered elsewhere around the planet.

“As the Sisters of Saint Kohdy had speculated,” Nahrmahn continued, this time looking at Aivah and Sandaria, “the reason he decided to write in Spanish — in Español — was his concern over how far outside the bounds of accepted doctrine and theology his speculations might fall. Even the portions he recorded in English have given us considerable additional insight into what actually happened following the ‘Rakurai’ strike on the Alexandria Enclave, though.”

“Insight not already present in Saint Zherneau’s journal?” Maikel Staynair asked, his sinewy hands folded on the table in front of him. Actually, they were folded on his desk in far-off Manchyr, where it was almost midnight.

“Quite a lot, really.” Nahrmahn shrugged. “Jeremiah Knowles and his friends were hidden away in Tellesberg, Maikel. They had access only to whatever information reached what was basically a very small town at the back end of nowhere. That limited what they could really know about what was happening elsewhere, and their orders from Shan-wei to keep their heads down came into play, as well. There wouldn’t’ve been much the four of them could’ve accomplished, cut off from Alexandria and isolated half a world away from all the rest of the colonists, even if they hadn’t had Shan-wei’s instructions to lie low, survive, and plan for the future. So in many ways, Saint Zherneau’s perspective on the War Against the Fallen was as much that of an outsider as anyone else on Safehold had. Cody Cortazar, on the other hand, was right in the midst of that war. He saw a lot more of it, and from a considerably different perspective.”

Staynair nodded slowly and thoughtfully.

“Thank you,” he said. “I wasn’t challenging your interpretation. I only wanted to be sure I understood the context.”

“With all due respect, Your Eminence,” Sandaria’s expression was as dry as her tone, “I think ‘context’ is something we could all use at this point.”

Several of the others chuckled, and Merlin smiled. Sandaria might continue to nourish reservation over the inner circle’s version of the archangels, but her sojourn here in Nimue’s Cave had soothed those reservations sharpest edges. And she’d obviously gotten over her initial discomfort at holding long conversations with people who weren’t physically present . . . or happened to be dead.

She’d been skittish about Owl when Merlin and Nimue explained that his hologram was that of an individual who’d never physically existed outside the effectively “magical,” confines of a computer. Still, that had been easier for her to process than the idea that the individuals she knew as Merlin and Nimue were actually a pair of machines, both of which contained the memories of a young woman — the same young woman — who’d died almost a thousand Safeholdian years before her own birth. She’d known — or been introduced to, at least — both Merlin and Nimue before that truth had been shared with her, however, and she related to them as the discrete and separate individuals they’d become in a way which pushed the fact of Nimue Alban’s physical death back below the level of conscious awareness.

She couldn’t do that with Nahrmahn Baytz. She knew he’d died, and he had no more of a physical body than Owl did. It had taken her many days to get past the idea that she was talking to a ghost whenever she and Nahrmahn spoke. In fact, for the first five-day after her arrival in the cave she’d avoided speaking to him whenever possible. She’d preferred to address any comments or requests to Owl and let the AI refer them to Nahrmahn if that turned out to be necessary.

Maybe the fact that she’s so much more comfortable with him now is a good sign, Merlin thought. I think her mind and her worldview have been . . . stretched in ways she still hasn’t recognized yet. I sure as hell hope so, anyway.

“Context is certainly critical in understanding what’s actually been said, Sister,” Maikel agreed. “And I suspect Saint Kohdy had a . . . unique perspective, to put it mildly.”

“I think we could all agree with that,” Nahrmahn said. “Actually, I found some of what he said even more interesting because of what it implies about the way in which the colonists’ memories were reprogrammed.”

“What do you mean?” Cayleb’s eyes narrowed intently.

“Well, from the English portions of his diary, it was obvious that at least some of his memories were . . . rearranged a second time when he became a seijin. The references to his waking up in ‘the sacred sickbay’ and the lack of clarity of his earlier memories made that pretty clear. At first, we assumed they were unclear because they were new memories, like the ones Bédard implanted in all the colonists. But after a close reading and analysis, Owl and I came to the conclusion that that’s not really what happened. Instead of new, fabricated memories, it appears the memories we thought Bédard had completely eradicated hadn’t actually been destroyed. There are some passages which appear to contain references to at least partial memories of Old Earth. I suspect —” Nahrmahn looked at Sandaria again “— that those references are one reason the Sisters interpreted his later comments to indicate that the colonists’ souls had been somewhere else before they awakened here on Safehold. They describe a world very, very different from Safehold, at any rate. For example, there’s the one on page ninety which certainly seems to be a memory of a video call. He never actually calls it a communicator or a com — he uses the term keitai, which is apparently the word the Order of Chihiro used when it issued coms to the newly created seijins — but Owl and I agree that has to be what he was talking about. His memory simply wasn’t clear enough to describe it fully.”

“I remember the passage you’re talking about,” Sandaria said. “You mean the one where he’s writing about his wife’s ghost, don’t you?”

“Exactly.” Nahrmahn nodded. “From the way he describes seeing her ‘as if in a mirror that lived and spoke’ it’s obvious he wasn’t speaking to her face-to-face, and the only thing we could think of to explain it was a videoconference of some sort. We also checked the original passenger manifests, and we found Cody Cortazar and his wife Sandra listed as colonists in the Zion Enclave. According to Shan-wei’s documentation, however, Sandra was killed less than three years after the colonists were awakened.”

“Killed? How?” Nimue’s hologram asked.

“By a slash lizard, but Kohdy apparently didn’t remember any of the details of her death. In fact, there are several places where he comments on gaps in his own memories of Safehold, and he had no personal memory of the events immediately surrounding the Alexandria strike.”

“Do you think those memories were deliberately suppressed?” Domynyk Staynair asked.

“No.” Nahrmahn shrugged. “I suppose it’s possible, but I don’t see any reason for them to have done it on purpose. I think — and Owl agrees — that it was probably an unintended side effect of their effort to selectively undo some of the memory suppression they’d done when they turned him into an Adam.”

“I noticed his early references to how readily he learned to control the ‘hikousen’ they provided him with,” Merlin said, “but I don’t recall any place where he actually called it an ‘air car.’”

Nahrmahn snorted, since Merlin — like Nynian Rychtyr (or any PICA) — had perfect recall.

“You don’t recall it because he didn’t do it,” the plump little Emeraldian said. “He always referred to it as either a hikousen or simply ‘my vessel.’ You’re right about how quickly he learned to handle it, though, and the same was true of a lot of the small high-tech items the ‘Archangels’ supplied to him. The med kit, the com, the low-light vision gear, and quite a few others, for example. It looks to us as if the command crew decided it would be simpler and faster — and probably more impressively ‘miraculous’ — for their seijins to simply ‘have’ whatever skills they needed without having to be taught. There could have been several ways to go about that — all the Adams and Eves still had their NEAT implants — but it looks like the one they opted for was to go back into their seijin candidates’ memories and . . . reactivate those skills without any conscious recollection of where they came from or how they’d first been acquired.”

“Well that was arrogant of them,” Nimue murmured. All eyes turned to her, and she shrugged and looked across the table at Merlin. “Remember what Aunt Aeronwen said about disturbing deliberately suppressed memories?”

Merlin frowned for a moment, then nodded.

“You mean when she and Dad got into that knockdown, drag-out fight over the morality of suppressing traumatic memories?”

“Yes.” Nimue returned her attention to the others. “Aunt Aeronwen was my — our, I suppose” her lips quirked a smile “— father’s older sister. She was a psychiatrist, and like a lot of psychiatrists, most of her practice dealt with patients suffering from post-traumatic shock and the crushing depressive effect of how badly the war was going. The technology Operation Ark used to suppress the colonists’ memories of Old Earth was basically an application of therapies available to practicing psychiatrists, and I remember Aunt Aeronwen was very adamant that the proper noun was ‘suppress,’ not ‘erase’ when she and Dad got into their fight. Dad thought it was immoral to steal someone’s memories, even if they’d asked you to do it. Aunt Aeronwen thought he was full of crap, but in the course of the . . . discussion, she pointed out that it was impossible to truly erase a memory. All she could do was to suppress it and, in particularly serious cases, supplant it with a different, less traumatic memory.

“She was willing to concede that the supplanting was liable to abuse, but she was adamant that the suppression itself was entirely moral if the clinician thought it would be the most effective way to deal with the trauma and the patient agreed after a thorough explanation of the procedure. And she also pointed out that the original memory was always in there somewhere. A therapist could recall it if there was some reason to do that later, so you could hardly call it ‘stealing,’ in her opinion. For that matter, it was standard practice for most psychiatrists to make a complete personality record that could be permanently stored and recalled at need as easily as uploading memories of a PICA’s experiences to its organic original.

“What I’m thinking about right now, though, was that she pointed out that one reason for supplanting suppressed memories with manufactured ones was to prevent the patient from probing at a ‘blank spot’ in her recollections. And the reason for doing that was that if she poked at it too long and hard it was entirely possible for her to undo the original suppressing. Aunt Aeronwen would’ve been as horrified as Shan-wei and the Commodore over what Langhorne and Bédard did to the colonists, but if she’d been part of the command crew that signed off on it, she never would’ve gone in and poked those suppressed memories hard enough to bring them to the surface. Not unless she intended to restore the patient’s original memories in their entirety, at any rate.”

“I remember the conversation,” Merlin said after a moment, eyes focused on something only he and Nimue could see, and smiled faintly. “Too bad Aunt Aeronwen wasn’t part of the command crew; she’d’ve put a knife in Langhorne’s ribs the instant he came up with his brainstorm! But I take your point.”

His opened his eyes fully and refocused on the present.

“What Nimue’s getting at is that if they started reactivating selected memories — or, at least, the memories of selected skills — they ran the risk of turning other memories back on, as well. And if they did, then ‘Seijin Kohdy’ may very well not have been the only seijin whose diary contained references to things no Adam or Eve was supposed to remember.”

“That might explain why Owl and I couldn’t find a single original copy of a diary or journal written by a seijin in any of the library catalogs we were able to check,” Nahrmahn said thoughtfully. “If the Church — or the command crew’s survivors, at any rate — realized the seijins were having unexplained flashes of ‘false memory,’ censoring them after the fact would make a lot of sense.”

“And God only knows what mucking around in all those implanted and suppressed ones might’ve done,” Nimue said, nodding slowly. “Especially to memories of actual events that occurred relatively soon after the colonists woke up here on Safehold. That could very well be why he didn’t remember the details of his wife’s death.”

“If suppressed memories aren’t genuinely erased forever, why couldn’t Shan-wei bring back Jeremiah Knowles pre-Safehold memories?” Rahzhyr Mahklyn asked.

“She didn’t have access to the stored memories — assuming Bédard ever bothered to make one,” Nimue pointed out before Merlin could speak. “And from the records the Commodore left, I don’t think they had a trained psychiatrist among the conspirators.”

“That would’ve been critical to the problem?”

“Fairly critical, yes,” Merlin said. “Without the proper equipment, or at least a trained psychiatrist to spend years working with regressive hypnosis, you’d get a hodgepodge of new, artificial memories and the old, genuine ones with no way to differentiate between them. It would be the equivalent of inducing an especially nasty disassociative memory disorder in the patient. From Khody’s journal, it seems pretty clear he experienced at least a mild version of that despite the ‘archangels’ having had someone at least capable of turning the memories and skills they wanted back on again. That’s one of the reasons Nimue said it was a damned arrogant thing for them to have done.”

“This is all very interesting,” Sharleyan said, “but is it really relevant to the contents of his diary?”

“In a way,” Nahrmahn said. “You see, we found him in the original passenger lists, along with a description of what he did before Operation Ark. It seems that before he became Seijin Kohdy, and before he became a simple Adam named Cody Cortazar, he was Sergeant Major Cody Cortazar, Terran Federation Marine Corps, and he’d spent the better part of fifteen years as an unarmed and close combat instructor. He’d been first runner-up in the Fleet moarte subită competition twice and a championship fencer.” He smiled crookedly as Nimue and Merlin both sat up straight, eyebrows rising in unison. “I think they might have been after more than his ability to fly an air car when they started poking around in Sergeant Major Cortazar’s ‘lost’ memories.”

“I believe you could safely assume that was the case,” Merlin said dryly.

“That’s what we thought, too.” Nahrmahn nodded. “But one thing we’re very sure of from having read the Spanish portions of his diary is that no one meant for him to remember his native language. It seems to’ve come back to him gradually, and he comments on his decision to keep that a secret.”

“Because he was already considering the possibility that the ‘Archangels’ had lied to him?” Rahzhyr Mahklyn asked.

“No, it was more as if he was was afraid this strange, unnatural language might have been somehow implanted in his mind by Shan-wei and the Fallen. Or, at least, that his fellow seijins and the Archangels would think that was what had happened, at any rate.”

“What about the ‘demons’?” Sharleyan asked, her expression intent. “Where did they come from?”

Seijin Kohdy’s diary puts a rather different face on the histories of the War Against the Fallen,” Nahrmahn told her. “You can see the same basic events in both accounts, but he fills in a lot of background that’s quite different from the ones in the Writ or The Testimonies.

"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by bigrunt   » Mon May 11, 2015 12:33 am

Lieutenant Commander

Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:34 pm
Location: St Augustine FL

Ahh, my bi-weekly fix, thank you RFC. Now take care of your ticker, the good lord only issues you one.
I am the runt of the litter (Granted it was a litter of really big pups)
Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by ksandgren   » Mon May 11, 2015 1:01 am

Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 342
Joined: Tue Jun 14, 2011 6:54 pm
Location: Los Angeles, California

Thanks for the snippet, rfc.

Please heed the doctors advice. While I wouldn't be around to miss your presence in Canada or Minnesota anyway, I am much more concerned about missing the further adventures of Kenhodan and Gwynna, of Honor, Mike and Abigail, of Nimue and company due to the untimely departure of the author. Not to mention not wanting to share in the loss that that would bring to the lives of Sharon and the kids as well as all us readers. Get well! Or as Spock might say - Live long and prosper.
Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by RunsInShadows   » Mon May 11, 2015 1:23 am

Lieutenant (Junior Grade)

Posts: 47
Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2015 12:12 pm
Location: New Hampshire

Keep that ticker tockin'. I think most of us would agree that we'd rather you were home taking it easy than going to a con if your tickers on the fritz. Give Sharon a hug, and tell her thanks for putting her foot down, or hammer as it might be.

"Ack!" I said. Fearless master of the witty dialogue, that's me.
― Harry Dresden, Changes by Jim butcher
Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by tootall   » Mon May 11, 2015 1:39 am

Captain (Junior Grade)

Posts: 349
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2011 1:23 am

Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by Bluenoser   » Mon May 11, 2015 1:40 am


Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:19 pm

Having had my own bout with cardiac issues some years back and needing to wear a heart monitor for a time, I well appreciate your circumstances, and I chime with everyone else in saying we care far more about your wellbeing and your longevity (both because you are a fellow human being worthy of such concern in your own right and of course for the more selfish we really want lots and lots more fiction in your various series to read for many years to come) than your con attendance record, as noble as that concern is of yours. In any event you will be in my thoughts and prayers and may this be a temporary matter and not something more serious.

Thanks for the latest snippet, I look forward to when I get to read the whole book, which will almost certainly be the day or day after it first publishes, as I have with all your books now for the past couple of decades!
Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by McGuiness   » Mon May 11, 2015 1:41 am

Rear Admiral

Posts: 1203
Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2010 6:35 pm
Location: Rocky Mountains, USA

Oh dear, one of my worst nightmares almost came true! :shock:

RFC, how are we going to know how the story ends if you aren't here to tell us? So please be careful and take good care of yourself!

I side with Sharon - you don't actually need to be able to walk to continue writing... :twisted:

Thanks for a very interesting snippet that sheds a great deal of light on the humans who participated in the War Against the Fallen, and just how disorganized the surviving command team was.

When Merlin read the first paragraph of Seijin Kohdy's diary in the last snippet, I kicked myself for not anticipating that Pei's military followers were the most likely candidates to have rebelled against the survivors of the command team. As much as Pei tried to hide it, I suspect his real attitude towards his wife Shan-Wei and her group of techies may well have leaked through to his closest subordinates. It's too bad they didn't have a trained psychologist to help them with the seijins they enlisted from the original colonists either.

Now RFC, get the rest you need and listen to your wife and your doctor! :?
Last edited by McGuiness on Mon May 11, 2015 4:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

"Oh bother", said Pooh as he glanced through the airlock window at the helmet he'd forgotten to wear.
Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by Bruno Behrends   » Mon May 11, 2015 1:49 am

Bruno Behrends
Captain of the List

Posts: 577
Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2009 11:33 am
Location: Berlin

Awww - I hope you get better soon! Thank you for telling us! And I think we are all on Sharon's and Dr. Stewart's side.

And that you think of our snippet addiction when you have so much more important things going on is awesome.
Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by ayg   » Mon May 11, 2015 2:07 am

Lieutenant (Senior Grade)

Posts: 51
Joined: Wed Jan 01, 2014 7:52 am

Thanks for the snippet.

Now, get some rest, so you can get better.

Sure, we are impatient to get more books as fast as possible, but if you die there won't be any more at all. So we can wait until you are in good health again.
Re: Official HFQ Snippet #24
Post by AirTech   » Mon May 11, 2015 2:56 am

Captain of the List

Posts: 476
Joined: Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:37 am
Location: Deeeep South (Australia) (most of the time...)

Look after yourself RFC. Hopefully your tests will not show a major problem (or at worst, one with a effective fix). This forum would be pointless without you...(we need you to hang round for at least another 20 years to finish telling the stories you have in play to date...)

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