scifantasy: Me. With an owl. (Default)
scifantasy ([personal profile] scifantasy) wrote on December 22nd, 2008 at 12:04 am
Power Conference, or Intersections in Real Life
I honestly hadn't expected a Mina story so soon after the previous, given Mina's busy schedule. Thankfully, this time, the behind-the-scenes work was obvious. I cut off before the scenes everybody thinks comes next, but that's to be expected.

Apologies to Zee's original self--who hopefully knows who he is--but this was irresistible.

I wish I could say that things settled down. They didn't, of course.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I particularly minded what did happen. But just once, I'd like to be able to say "everything settled down, and nothing more happened." Mostly, I think, for the novelty value.

Judy, on a tip from Mina de Malfois, had gone on a long-distance trip. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure she knew why. I'm not sure it was a good idea, and neither was she. About the only thing either of us was sure about was that she needed to go.

Meanwhile, Zee was pulling extra shifts to sort out the mess of the Sanguinity Online economy. We'd talked about a few publicity stunts--a flying gryphon to the Tree to ask for a bailout, that kind of thing--but he'd finally put his foot down and told people to back off and let him work. Everybody was giving him leeway and a certain amount of respect right now, since the "economic stimulus" ideas that had gotten us into trouble in the first place had been passed over his strenuous objections. "Next time," he was heard to tell anybody who'll listen, "before coming up with economic plans, talk to the damn economist!" I'd gently tease him with the typical jokes--"six if one went to Harvard," the West Wing joke, that kind of thing--but yeah, they were listening now.

A few days later, Eva invited me along to a family dinner. The prospect of somebody else paying for a meal and not having it go on the tally board was kind of appealing, so I said yes.

Jamie had been coming along nicely. His pride had been bruised by Warr1or's rant, but he'd recovered, it seemed, ego intact. He even was able to summon up some pity for the man, a remarkably mature and astute emotion.

Beyond that, he'd finally finished up with the McCrumb, so we had an interesting discussion about her virtues and vices. But it had stimulated Jamie's interest in some of the topics under discussion. Thankfully, St. Scholastica's is still one of the world's greatest non-Internet sources for fandom-related media, even from the First Fandom days; I suspected that if a copy of "Ah! Sweet Idiocy!" could be found anywhere, it would be somewhere in Judy's pride and joy.

After dinner, Eva turned to Jamie. "You're going back to your condo?" He nodded, and she shrugged. To me, she said, "it's on the way back, so we'll go there first."

But as it turned out, the condo was where both of us would end the trip. As we arrived, we noticed a familiar figure standing near the entrance. "What's going on?" Eva asked. She didn't recognize him, it seemed. No surprise; she'd been at something more of a remove from that fracas.

"Nothing to worry about," Jamie said, and opened his car door. I made a split-second decision and followed suit. "Thanks for dinner, Eva," I said, giving her a brief hug. "I'll get out here, and get back to my place on my own." I gave her a Look, one she quickly interpreted as "no time now, I'll explain later," and she nodded.

As we got close, Warr1or--who I swear looked as if he'd been crying--started to see it was Jamie. "PrinceC," he said, and I blinked to hear his tone. Apprehensive, I would say. Hopeful, fearful, and not a little bit desperate.

"Help."

------

We got inside and set the scene. Jamie pulled out a mug and started coffee, and I found a tea bag for myself. Earl Grey. Gift from his mother, I bet.

Honestly, my instant reaction to Warr1or's face would have been a large amount of bourbon whiskey, but this was still an underage minor's condo. He had some alcohol on hand, but not what the right image required, and besides, we wanted him to stay together enough to talk at least. So caffeine it was.

As the coffeemaker started burbling, the three of us sat at a table, roughly evenly spaced out.

"What did you want to talk to me about?" Jamie opened.

"First," Warr1or said, glaring at me, "who is this? You look familiar."

"Fair enough," I said, "introductions first. Call me Case." I watched Jamie's face as I said that, and sure enough, he was taken aback. He looked a question at me, and I nodded marginally, enough to tell him I knew what I was doing. I didn't see whether Warr1or recognized the name or put it all together, but then, I'm not as used to reading him as I am Jamie, and besides, he was out of it. Maybe it would click later, but I'd deal with that when it came up.

"Where have I seen you before?" Warr1or demanded.

Time to play it careful. Officially, I didn't know who he was. "I think I recognize you from Wands Across," I said. "Weren't you bidding at--"

"The auction," he finished. "Now I remember."

"That's it. I'm an old family friend of...PrinceC." Whoops. Too used to thinking of him as Jamie. I hoped he didn't notice my slip there. Again, though, no sign. "And you are?"

He straightened a little. Clearly he had his pride, even as disturbed as he was. "I am the Warr1or," he answered, and I had the sudden urge to answer "This is SPARTA!" I resisted valiantly.

"All right," Jamie cut in, "now that we're all friends, what brings you here?"

The kettle whistled, and the coffeepot burbled, so I went into the other room and poured. The upshot was, I listened from the other room as Warr1or told the whole story. He wound down with "and it's all gone. The commentfic. The members are still with us, and we can rebuild, but...it's a disaster."

I placed the coffee in front of Warr1or, who began drinking immediately. No surprise he took it black. I wonder if he actually enjoyed it that way, or was as much a slave to imagery as the rest of us. For all his faults, and self-delusions, he was actually less obsessed with image and appearance than most other fannish types. As I sipped my tea and pondered the mystery of the cowboy, I noticed Jamie giving me a sidelong glance.

Finally I sighed. "All right. For the record? No, and please don't insult me like that again."

Warr1or looked up from his mug and blinked at me. "What?"

"I'm a coder," I answered, "and an occasional white-hat for hire. PrinceC here has been trying to come up with a polite way of asking me whether I had anything to do with your present difficulties, and I figured I'd cut through the bull."

I placed both of my hands on the table and stared Jamie, then Warr1or, in the eyes. "I had nothing to do with the deletion of your archive. I wouldn't do that, as a matter of principle." It was the truth, too. No matter what I thought of Warr1or's He-Man Women Haters Club of fanfic, the appropriate response to stupidity like that was not to cross moral--or even legal, depending on how it happened--boundaries.

I turned to Jamie. "Can you say the same?"

He did, with the same posture. I looked carefully for signs of deception, and I didn't see them. Warr1or didn't seem to either.

So. I knew I was innocent, and I was fairly confident--which was not to be confused with sure--that Jamie was too. I started running down the mental list of suspects. Not that this had to be someone I knew, but just in case. Judy? No way. Nancy was a possibility, but this wasn't really the pirate style she preferred--it was simply wanton destruction of ideas. Nancy would have defaced the whole archive, sure, but I really don't think she could have brought herself to delete it. Eva? That would be getting too involved. Valerie likewise.

Mina de Malfois? I considered it for a second before discarding it. Not because she wouldn't do it--though I didn't think that was likely; she's even more enamored of the glory of ideas than Nancy--but because she probably couldn't. Decent writer, but hacking is just a bit above her skill level.

...Mina's multi-named, multi-gendered roommate?

I realized that Warr1or and Jamie were still talking. Making plans to work to bring the archive back, I think. I tuned back in and found an appropriate entrance. "Gentlemen." They turned to look at me. "Normally my computer skills run at a price, but if you'd like--"

"This is a holy crusade!" Warr1or began. Jamie, thankfully, cut him off.

"Warr1or." He subsided. Jamie turned to me. "At present I think we're going to investigate this on our own. If we need anything, I know how to get in touch with you."

I nodded. "Good luck to you, then. There's more coffee if you decide this is going to run you a while." I finished my tea and put the mug in the sink before heading out.

As I walked back to the metro station, I thought about things. Would Warr1or put "Case," "coder," and "friend of PrinceC" together? Well, I'd cross that bridge when I came to it. Would they get the archive back? Probably, but I resolved to poke around and see if I could quietly make some headway on my own. Who deleted the archive, and was there anything more to it than the indignation of its existence? Another thing to investigate independently.

I shook off the questions and picked up my pace. The metro system wasn't too far away, but it did close eventually. And I had some emails to send.

Hm. Fourteen-odd hours' time difference...I'd be catching them just as they were getting out of bed. How many beds, I couldn't say.

You know, I'm just glad that Mina was busy about the same time I was taking my exams...
 
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