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A Dark and Hungry God Arises 15 - Angus [2]

 
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 09, 2020 1:29 pm    Post subject: A Dark and Hungry God Arises 15 - Angus [2] Reply with quote

Billingate...probably a more wretched hive of scum and villainy than any encountered elsewhere in the multi-verse, and like the sign of the Ease-N-Sleaze bar promised, if you could name it, you could find it here.

Angus, in absolute thrall to Milos Taverner (in an ironic parody of his own previous control over Morn obviously), has gone with him to the bar where who should they see, but Nick Succorso.

Angus, for many obvious reasons, and one that would be less obvious if we weren't told how important it was to him, has an instant negative reaction to the sight, and only the fact that he does not have control of himself stops him from killing Nick right there and then.

Even as they greet each other and join him, Angus is fantasising about how he can kill him, but despite his most urgent wish, instead he is scanning the surroundings, identifying bugs and “wires,” or living surveillance agents tied into the system via “welding” technology not too dissimilar from Angus' own, if far less sophisticated.

The opening pleasantries seem largely to concern establishing their respective stories for the benefit of the listening (or at least recording) Bill, although Angus does take some time out to drive off the closest “wire,” and despite Angus' suspicion regarding Nick knowing that Hashi had sent them, some posturing apparently intended to show that Angus was in charge.

With careful timing Angus uses the distraction caused by the beginning of the live act as a cover to disable the closest microphones, and pushes Nick to reveal what he really wants and why.

(I suppose a brief aside is due to the live show here. While it has often been cited as one of the “graphic” parts of the Gap, I must say that, like the rape of Lena, it's not really a scene which made much impact on me at the time. Too focussed perhaps on the story at that point, but even re-reading it doesn't give me a visceral reaction, so much as a “gross” type of thought. Also I don't feel SRD put much effort into making it notable, more just a bit of colour on how “extreme” the available entertainments could be I assume.)

Nick soon comes clean about what the Bill has, what he wants, and what the Amnion want, and Angus is pretty much assuming that he will be forced to stand by while Nick sells Morn to the Amnion.

Milos certainly is not intending to put himself at any risk, and it's hard to tell whose shock is greater when Angus' programming not only does not force him to do nothing, but seems to actively support the very goal that he was told would not under any circumstances be allowed...the rescue of Morn.

At first I was surprised though, because re-reading the chapter, I had expected the revelation of Davies to have more impact on Angus. Of course, in thinking on it, he has no reason to expect the child is in any way connected to him, and it is when they finally meet face to face only that he experiences the shock of realisation.

For now however, Davies is simply a thing...and asset...a means to his rescue, if not reclamation, of Morn, and his almost overwhelming desire to show her that he has been true to the bargain they made each other.

Nick's laughter and Milos' anguish are a nice counterpoint to the possibilities that seem to have just opened up in Angus' welded datacore...


--A
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:40 am    Post subject: ADAHGA 15 - Angus [2] Reply with quote

I like Avatar's remark about Billingate being a wretched hive of scum and villainy (harking back to the words Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Luke Skywalker about Mos Eisley spaceport, in the first Star Wars movie made), for it does come across as a place with little scruples, except for what is enforced upon its denizens by pervasive electronic espionage and considerable military force (both by the Bill's guards and by the Amnion leasing the place). The most loyal employees seem to sadly be just tools emptied of mind and real purpose.

Quote:
The bar itself was a long stretch of simulated wood, old with stains and gouges. Both men working back and forth in front of the ranks of vats, dispensers, and vials had the vacant look of null-wave transmitters: men who couldn't cheat anyone because they'd give up or lost the ability to make that kind of decision.


The idea that this is a scummy place is certainly reinforced by the Ease-n-Sleaze bar having a woman mutilating herself on stage as "entertainment". How she got into that position, we readers never learn. Even if the gig paid well, who would willingly do such a thing? Did the Bill take her family hostage? Is she some hard-core drug addict? Has she been promised a sum that will facilitate all her dreams and ambitions, if only she will submit to doing this disgusting act a few times, while being guaranteed the best medical care necessary to help her heal? Beats me, but the scene certainly gets the idea across that Billingate is a place where norms are discarded and rules are broken, save for those that gain profit for the Bill and the Amnion. So yeah, this certainly seems like an "if you can name it, you can find it" kind of place with regards to entertainment desires.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:46 am    Post subject: A Dark And Hungry God Arises 15 - Angus [2] Reply with quote

The most interesting part of this chapter to me is how Angus finds ways to nullify the Bill's spying infrastructure so that he and Nick can discuss what each really wants. I guess I like those aspects of this chapter because I like spy stories, and seeing how a foe can be outwitted. And while I find what passes for entertainment at the Ease-n-Sleaze bar to be thorough disgusting (who wouldn't?), I have to acknowledge it is an effective distraction for Angus.

Quote:
Entirely against his will, he located the bugeyes, then began scanning the room for wires. He spotted only two. One, a man perched at the bar itself, sat hunched over a pair of mechanical hands as if the fact that they also served as transmitters nauseated him he was out of range to eavesdrop on Nick. The other, a woman with virtually no clothes and an unmistakable EM signature, sat at a table near Nick's corner. She wasn't alone: two men huddled beside her, alternately buying her drinks, whispering in her ears, and fondling her breasts. But they were nothing; she was the only danger.

Angus' datacore advised him to get rid of her. But it didn't say how--and didn't exert any pressure.


Quote:
Angus was busy assessing the dangers of this conversation. The bugeye in the ceiling above him could see will enough, but might not be able to hear accurately. On the other hand, the nearly naked woman and her companions were only a couple of tables away; definitely in range for her pickups. That wasn't a problem yet: he had things to say which he and his datacore didn't mind letting the Bill overhear. But the hazards would increase rapidly--especially when Nick and Milos broached the subjects they were presumably here to discuss.


Quote:
Like the rest of the audience, Angus watched the stage. Without shifting a muscle, he rested the knuckles of his right fist against the wall. While the woman raised her knife into the light, and the audience gasped, he fired his laser.

From between his knuckles, a needle-thin stab of ruby pierced the wall and severed the leads to all the bugeyes in this end of the bar.

A fierce grin bared his teeth as the emissions of the bugeyes winked out.


Perhaps not a moment too soon for Angus, considering the direction Milos and Nick were going with their conversation.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:50 am    Post subject: A Dark And Hungry God Arises 15 - Angus [2] Reply with quote

Milos is indeed not much for putting himself at risk. But, he hasn't had much choice about things for quite a while now, really, other than finding ways to repay Angus for insolence.

Quote:
From the vicinity of the bar, Milos gaped as if Angus had initiated self-destruct. Both bartenders stood like statues: Angus could see their fingers poised over the keys which would summon guards. The wire at the bar remained in his slump; everyone else stared at Angus.


Quote:
Milos came toward Angus anxiously. Ignoring him, Angus turned his back and moved to rejoin Nick.


Quote:
With a shudder, Milos thunked his drinks down on the table. His fingers trembled as he dug a packet of nic out of his pocket, took one, and stuck it between his lips. Trying to sound calm, he said, "I should have known better than to leave you two thugs alone. The next time I turn my back, you'll probably kill each other."

"Oh, shut up, Milos," Angus said. "The next time you turn your back, we'll probably kill you."

Milos' gaze threatened a variety of complex retributions as he sat down and lit his nic.


Quote:
"I just got here," Milos protested through a cloud of smoke. "And I'm on the run. I'm not exactly in a position to help anybody." For Angus, he added, "Neither of us is."


Angus finds these interesting little ways to get revenge upon Milos for his torture, such as not telling Milos he's disabled the Bill's bugeyes while bluntly discussing getting Davies away from the Bill, just to strike more fear into Milos.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:53 am    Post subject: A Dark And Hungry God Arises 15 - Angus [2] Reply with quote

The chapter does make clear that Angus has an almost overwhelming desire to show Morn he's been true to their bargain. Why Angus feels this desire isn't completely clear to me. Does he feel some remorse for how he's treated Morn? Is his insistence to himself that he's kept his bargain to Morn driven by some need to feel he's a good guy deep down? Or is the memory of his being shafted by Nick and Milos and abandoned by Morn, together with losing his ship, so painful that he needs to cling to the idea he has some kind of honor so the memory of losing her doesn't drive him insane? Does Angus feel he's done some good by giving Morn the zone implant control box and keeping it secret until his implants forced the truth, because by doing so he's freed Morn from her version of "the crib" (never mind that he's the one who put Morn in that horrible situation to begin with)? Or is this the continuation of the idea that whatever he does to Morn he is ultimately doing to himself? I don't know the answer to this, and find it one of the most puzzling aspects of the Gap.

Quote:
"I'm on some trouble here," Nick explained unnecessarily. "You may have figured that out. There's a fucking Amnion 'defensive' in dock because of me, and another hanging out there where it can strip us all down to our subatomic particles." He glanced at the stage as if he were waiting for the show to start before he came to the point. "I'm in deep shit, and there aren't any easy ways out of it. I think you could say"--his scars were pale under his eyes, the color of fear--"I've made a couple of serious miscalculations recently. If I don't get some help soon, I'll have to start selling everything I won just to stay alive."

Selling what? Angus wondered. What did Nick have to sell? DA's secrets? His stomach knotted. Morn herself?

The thought that Captain Sheepfucker might sell her to save his ass made Angus want to snap Nick's neck.

We've committed a crime--

Wasn't that what Angus himself had done? Sell her to save his ass?

No. No. He'd made a bargain with her. And he'd kept it.

Until Lebwohl put electrodes into his head and forced the truth out.

It's got to stop.


Quote:
Angus didn't want to think about Morn: he couldn't bear it. Nick was perfectly capable of selling her to the Amnion. Then she would be lost forever. And there was nothing he could do about it, nothing he could do about it, even Min Donner hadn't been able to get his datacore rewritten to let him help Morn. Paresthetic fire flushed along his arms until his zone implants quenched it: rage stung his heart until they denatured it. Morn, he thought, oh, Morn! But he could do nothing; show nothing. His programming held him, as cruel as the dimensional gap.


Considering he feels like this, no wonder he feels hope when he realizes his datacore is going to not only allow but actually facilitate rescuing Morn. And if Warden doesn't want to abandon Morn, after all, maybe his statements to Angus about we've committed a crime and it's got to stop means he ultimately won't abandon Angus to being a zone implant slave, either. Just maybe.
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 21, 2020 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, it's almost like if he can keep his word to Morn, that sorta negates everything else he has done. Is his constancy the clue that he is redeemable?

--A
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 9:26 am    Post subject: Re: A Dark and Hungry God Arises 15 - Angus [2] Reply with quote

Avatar wrote:
For now however, Davies is simply a thing...and asset...a means to his rescue, if not reclamation, of Morn, and his almost overwhelming desire to show her that he has been true to the bargain they made each other.



This desire of Angus' to show he's been true to his word to Morn seems like he is aspiring to be someone more than the thieving, raping, murderer he's been for most of his adult life. I guess that's supposed to be a start for him to become someone better, but it sounds like a really steep hill to climb for him.

I can't really account for it, as he was forced by his zone implants to admit to Hashi that he forced a zone implant on Morn, and could only say he didn't know where the control box was. Angus couldn't really hide what he'd done, and all it would have taken for Angus to admit the whole truth would be for Hashi to have directly asked if Angus gave the control box to Morn.
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