30 November 2009 @ 09:56 pm
Case Closed, or A Cycle Has No End
[livejournal.com profile] mina_de_malfois has posted the end to her stories, and so with it comes the finale of Case's.

Which isn't to say that I'll never return; Mina has left the possibility of side stories or alternate-universes open, and so shall I. But for the foreseeable future, we leave our observation of the fictional Case here.

I've been writing Case, off and on, since August 2007. A lot's changed for me in those two years. Maybe, if Mina writes that detective alternate-universe story she suggested was a possibility, maybe I'll do a Case-as-lawyer story to match...

But in the meantime, enjoy the finale. And remember what Case said--everything is circular.

Everything settled down, and nothing more happened.

Nope, I can't do it. I'm lying at best, and besides, I've reconsidered. I
think that if that actually ever happened, I'd be bored out of my mind.

That said, things were quieter for a few days. I really had forgotten what
you could accomplish when you didn't have distractions. Well, sort
of. After some consideration, and discussion with Judy, Nancy, Eva, Val,
and several other friends and coworkers, I'd agreed to hire Seldom as a
personal assistant and record-keeper. This was even coming out of my
personal budget, not professional.

We'd preliminarily set up a protocol for cabining the really sensitive
information from him, and I'd asked Judy's lawyer to set up a pretty
wicked NDA, which he told me he'd get to me as soon as I was done. Seldom
bore it all in good grace. When he heard that I'd been in one fandom or
another as long as Judy and company, but had never had anybody really
organize the results of a standard geek pack-rat tendency in all that
time, he got a gleam in his eye.

I emphasized that this was a temporary gig, just so that he could continue
his work towards his degree, and he nodded.

In addition to reorganizing practically everything I owned into a system
that made sense, Seldom was a very good personal assistant. He even
started keeping up with what I was reading and watching, so he could let
me know when the next book, or DVD, or season, or whatever it was came
out. This came as something of a relief, as I was starting to think I'd
need to write an artificial intelligence to do that for me. (Or try, at
least. I have incredible self-confidence, but even I don't think I can do
something like that off the cuff.)

But in the meantime, with everybody handling their own crises, I was
diving back into my day job. Sanguinity Online was running smoothly
these days, and recently, the change requests were slowing down; pretty
soon now, I figured I'd be able to step back from the day-to-day and go
off to do my own projects, at least for a while.

I had to decide who to hand the reins over to in the meantime, though. I
was sorting through candidates, primarily the division heads, when Seldom
found me.

"So, do I get my answer now?"

I looked up. "You really haven't figured it out yet?"

He shrugged. "I thought I'd come up with it at some point, but nothing
rings any bells."

"Oh, right," I said. "You actually dealt with my real name, not my
pseudonym. Is it still a pseudonym if it's more information-loaded than my
legal name? Hm." I pulled a book from a shelf and lobbed it to him. "Go
off and read. I'll see you in three hours."

He was starting in on "Chiba City Blues" even before he walked out the
door. I finished up my work, and decided to put Carla in charge of
day-to-day operations on Sanguinity Online for now.

I was just starting to get into hack mode on what might well have been the
next big thing when three hours ran out. Sure enough, Seldom was storming
back, talking a mile a minute. He had it all figured out. More than I'd
expected, even. He had the obvious part--my identity as Case and therefore
the CEO of Neuromancer, Ltd.--but he'd even figured out who at least one
of the Council had to be.

"Silverman?!" he was shouting.

"You're surprised?"

"But--but--I always thought of her as a particularly terrifying archivist,
nothing else."

"You need to read more Spider."

"Who?"

"Robinson. Come to think of it, Jerusalem too, but for this one,
Robinson. Librarians are the secret masters of the universe, because they
control information."

"...yeah," he said, dazed. I don't blame him. When the scales fall from
your eyes, they can leave you blinking in the brightness for a while.

The day over, Seldom left to ponder the new information, and I reminded
him that he was under strict orders not to talk outside of school. He
hadn't signed the NDA yet, but we had preliminary deals and oral
contracts. He nodded. I figured he wouldn't tell--the enjoyment of being
one of the secret keepers would hold his tongue. Not to mention, I was now
his employer, and he needed to keep his job. Plus I paid better than the
library had.

That's when the call from Jamie had come in. He'd just finished his grand
road trip adventure with that Warr1or character and Judy's Mina, and he
had come back "a changed man." Seems he'd seen something disturbing--I
didn't ask, he didn't tell, and we're all happier for it--and had sworn
off of his latest fandom-of-choice. He was just letting me know, for
posterity's sake.

I started a stopwatch timer on my computer as soon as he said it.

Two hours, thirty-seven minutes, and fifty-three seconds later, I clicked
the timer off. Jamie's second call arrived, and with it, a plea for help.

"I'm getting into a new fandom," he was saying, "and I wanted to get your
help. You were good to me with explaining the basics of steampunk, getting
me interested in the topic itself, so I was wondering what you knew about
this one."

The more things change...

One sorted out fandom butterfly later--complete with some gentle
teasing/encouragement about that friend of his--I was just about to close
up for the night when I got another call. Judy.

"What's new?" I asked her.

"Not a lot," she said in the voice that said "plenty, as usual, but
nothing you need to worry about." Judy knows where my circle of concern
ends. "You heard from Jamie?" she continued.

"Already recovered and on to a new fandom," I said. "I've agreed to give
him pointers."

"Kids these days. Were we ever so fickle?"

"Is it fickle, or just the result of speciation? When you and I started
things, there was a lot less available to us."

"True enough," she said. "I heard what you did for Seldom, by the
way. Thanks."

"I don't know how long it will last, you know."

"Of course," she said, but the subtext said "nice try." Which is fair
enough, I suppose. We'll see. "I hear you pulled the trigger on the big
secrets."

"I just gave him parts he could have figured out on his own. Especially
after I made him my eyes-and-ears."

"He was your source?" she asked, genuinely surprised. "I'm amazed he kept
it from me this long."

"Free food and drinks at the Cath was worth the secrecy."

"I'll just bet. Anyway," she continued, "I was wondering if you're coming
along to the get-together for next year's scholarship kids."

"Hadn't planned on it. Want me to?"

"Yes," she said, which surprised me. Judy's rarely so straightforward with
what she wants. But she had her reasons...and a moment later, I had them
too.

"There's someone I'd like you to meet."
 
 
Velocity: creative
Soundtrack: The Further Adventures of Nick Danger Private Eye - Firesign Theatre - How Can Y
 
 
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[identity profile] the-bumper-car.livejournal.com on December 1st, 2009 02:21 pm (UTC)
Excellent ending. Thanks for the Sanguinity Online reference that I was looking for in the last Mina story! :P
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