This conversation took place on Sunday night but my iPod was acting up so I had trouble posting it. For your viewing pleasure:
Me: -I enter the living room- I just read your post. Eulogy was here?
Thage: -she looks up from her book- Yeah, about a day before they captured Jeff and Cheska.
Me: I gathered as much, yeah. I'm sorry, Thage.
Thage: What most of them aren't getting is that by letting them have Jeff, my hands are untied for moving other pieces into position.
Me: It's easy to criticise from where we're standing, Thage. Most of the people involved in this are still where you were a little over a decade ago and where I was a little over four. They're not used to the idea of necessary evil yet.
Thage: I'm not criticizing, Reach. -she searches for the right word- I'm just... not savoring being the one who has to get them to realize the object of the game isn't to defeat the king, but to remove all his pieces from the board and leave him alone again.
Me: I understand what you mean. It's hard to be the one to tell them that the game isn't going to end.
Thage: That's the thing. The best we can do is keep it so it's only the king. Right now, it seems his pawns and Knights are more a present threat than he is. The Bishop, though. That should be our main target. Redlight, or Redlights.
Me: To be honest, I'm still not sure whether Robert was right or not. Ava only interacted with one and it was the same one she had the date with and the same one that was at the asylum.
Thage: Regardless, he's the one we need to outmaneuver.
Thage: The Revenants are a threat, but they seem more straightforward and secondary.
Me: Except for those working with Redlight, obviously.
Thage: Even so, they're just pieces being moved on the board.
Me: I'm not sure the chess metaphors will work on a three-sided board.
Thage:Three players just means you play from the corners rather than the sides. Chinese checkers, if you will.
Me: Not familiar with the game myself, but I'll take your word for it.
Thage: -she makes a rough sketch of a Chinese checkers board-
Me: Ah, I see. Makes sense.
Thage: Back to Eulogy, though.
Me: I was just about to say. Did he want anything else other than Jeff?
Thage: Not so far, Jeff alone was a high-profile target.
Me: I can imagine. An uncontrollable Revenant.
Thage: Like I said, I should be rather unfettered in my dealings with everyone else for at least a month with that information.
Me: How unfettered?
Thage: More than I was two weeks ago, less than I'd need to be to get into the player's seat.
Me: What would you need to do that? Or who, as the case may be.
Thage: -she shrugs- I'm not entirely sure, but if I get into the player's seat it would mean the deal's off.
Me: True, true. Out of curiousity, were you able to glean anything from Eulogy?
Thage: -she grins and hands over a notebook- Names of every proxy in the United States government, as well as detailed information on the ones working in state governments on the East Coast. Most of it's information I'd gleaned from others, simply confirmed by him. He doesn't seem very concerned that I know this.
Me: -I frown- This is alot of people. Why so much effort?
Thage: Well, think about the sort of benefits having Knights in the country's power structure would have, especially when it comes to silencing media, politicians, and the law, either through gag orders or intimidation. Only a few are likely to be Revenants. A chunk of them are almost defninitely Renfields or standard proxies.
Me: In that case, I think we can safely assume he hasn't increased the Revenant ranks. That's in line with everything I know about Eulogy. If anything else was happening, I'd be a lot more worried.
Thage: -she nods- Regardless, they're infiltrating governments and legal systems, which makes me think they're trying to keep a media blackout on our friend's activities.
Me: I've always wondered why he didn't want his existence to be widely known.
Thage: You get used to something, and it loses the fear of the unknown. If people got used to him, they wouldn't fear him. He'd be another inconvenience of life
Me: I think if he ripped people apart with his tentacles while bullets and missiles bounced off him like ping pong balls, he could bring the fear back.
Thage: -she nods- But, if people got used to him, government resources could be invested in finding a way to kill him. If he was widespread knowledge, the government couldn't justify not doing anything about him.
Me: They'd just be wasting their money, though. I honestly don't think he can be destroyed. The Heel would have been a temporary measure at best and that was the most powerful weapon we had. If the governments of the world spent billions trying to destroy him and failed, he'd be more feared than ever. It just...doesn't make sense.
Thage: -she frowns and turns a page- But on the flip side, if they keep knowledge of him secret, people remain as they are when he enters their lives--scared, scattered, no plan of action. At least if he were public people would have a support net of some sort, no matter how poorly-funded.
Me: But he's unstoppable! Unless his plans don't have anything to do with being feared.
Thage: Now you're on the right train of thought. Imagine the fear as... his way of having fun. It makes his job less droll, but it's not by any means a requirement for success.
Me: Then what is success to him?
Thage: -she shrugs- You're the one that had direct contact with him.
Me: He compelled me to do things but he never told me why. -a brief silence- I've felt his mind. It's...alien.
Thage: Exactly. For all we know, M might be right--he might not be terribly intelligent. It's the proxies that make up his varying intellect that we see.
Me: He's definitely intelligent. It's just not an intelligence we can understand.
Thage: -she nods again- Now, imagine he were without his proxies. We may well see him revert to the creature that was bound by M's rules because he has no middle man to comprehend us and our reality with.
Me: I don't think he was ever bound by M's rules. I think of them as useful guidelines. After all, if you and Jean have thought us nothing, it's that Slender Man was around long before M. You do raise an interesting question though. If he needs proxies to interact with our reality...who or what was the first proxy, and how was it made?
Thage: I wouldn't say he needs them to interact with our reality. To understand it.
Me: The question still stands.
Thage: -she shrugs- Nothing I've found broaches the subject.
Me: Even with our combined knowledge, there are so many holes...
Thage: It could be worse.
Me: True. We could be Jack Tyler.
Thage: -she chuckles- Or we could be mistakenly attributing him the mantle of one of our gods.
Me: Or we could be wrong and the wackos could be right. -I shudder- I don't really want to think about that idea.
Thage: -she shakes her head and turns a page- If four out of five psychopaths agree on something, it's the duty of the fifth to disagree.
Me: Why do I have a feeling that was said by the fifth psychopath?
Thage: It's actually a quote from World War Z, by a character who was an Israeli intelligence analyst. "If nine out of ten of us agreed on something, it was the duty of the tenth to disagree and dig deeper, to find out the truth.'
Me: World War Z?
Thage: It's a bit pulpier than my usual fare, but it's well-written and funny in spots nonetheless.
Me: What's it about?
Thage: A zombie apocalypse and how various people from a blind Japanese gardener to the former Vice President handled things.
Me: Sounds interesting. How realistically is it played?
Thage: Quite, though some artistic liscence is taken here and there.
Me: Isn't it always?
Thage: If something were played entirely realistically, it'd be educational, not entertainment.
Me: I don't think the two are mutually exclusive.
Thage: Wait until you watch 'edutainment' childrens' shows.
Me: -I grimace- They don't count. They're neither educational nor entertaining.
Thage: -she chuckles- My point exactly.
Me: Do you have any ideas on what Eulogy is planning? Other than normal Revenant operations, obviously.
Thage: Couldn't get a read on him, actually. Slate had a bunch of nervous ticks.... Eulogy doesn't.
Me: Still has some of his old priestly skills of deception then.
Thage: -she wags a finger teasingly- Easy there, Momma raised me a good Irish Catholic and I haven't forgotten that yet.
Me: Mam raised me a good Irish Catholic too.
Thage: Regardless, though-
Me: Let's just say I have issues with the Catholic Church and leave it at that.
Thage: ...fair enough. Back on topic, yeah. I used to be able to read Slate--he had this twitch in his cheek when you had him dead to rights. Can't get that sort of reaction from Eulogy.
Me: Eulogy is a subtler operator than Slate. Much more manipulative. His assassination technique in particular was all about trickery.
Me: Eulogy liked to play a long, cruel and convoluted game. He'd use a variety of methods to convince the mark that they were the Messiah and then reveal the truth and crush them. He liked the feeling of power one gets from utterly destroying a person phsyically, mentally and emotionally. I pity the Conduits he killed.
Thage: -she nods again and scribbles down some notes-
Me: I'm worried about Ava.
Thage: No improvement?
Me: Sometimes I catch her looking at me with utter loathing and then she breaks down crying because she's realised what she's doing, then when I go to put my arms around her, she shirks me off and upsets herself even more.
Thage: From what I've gathered, it's going to be a long road.
Me: What I really want to know is why Redlight hates me so much. What have I done that he made my girlfriend loath me for shits and giggles?
Thage: You turned your back on the king and you did it without layers on layers of intrigue--you did what he couldn't.
Me: It wasn't easy. I still heard his voice in my head. Sometimes I still feel like I can, but it's just remembering. The things he's saying don't make sense.
Thage: -she nods- Still, that would be a sore sport for anyone like Redlight, wouldn't you think? Sort of spitting in the face of all the effort he's gone to form a secessionist bloc.
Me: Maybe. It raises a lot of questions about him though. I was one of Slender Man's top lieutenants. What kind of hold must Slender Man have on him?
Thage: -she frowns and fiddles with a glass of fizzy orange- No idea. The question should be why is his hold that tight?
Me: Tight enough that he can't break away immediately but not so tight that he can't break away eventually...
Thage: There might be some credence to the theory that he's Jay. The one that did those experiments.
Me: Where did that theory arise from, actually?
Thage: I don't know, but it's floated around. If he is Jay, it would make sense why the King kept him on such a short leash.
Thage: -she frowns again and takes a sip of her drink- Of course, we always need to consider the option that we're completely wrong.
Me: About what?
Me: Could you elaborate? There's a lot of everything.
Thage: Well, if we always keep open the possibility that we're wrong about a given theory, it keeps us from getting too wrapped up in it and freaking when it turns out to be false.
Me: Of course. The real problem is that we know so little that there's a hell of a lot to theorise about.
Thage: It helps keep life from getting dull.
Me: A dull life. I'd kill for one of those.
Thage: It's really not all it's cracked up to be. Though... I suppose you do have Ava so you'll have something to do to pass the time. -she winks-
Me: -I smile back weakly- If she ever stops hating me.
Thage: She knows something's not right, Reach. She just needs a lot of support.
Me: What if she needs more than that? God only knows how deep into her mind Redlight went.
Thage: There's only so far you can delve into someone's mind and change if they aren't willing, in such a short period of time. Otherwise she'd be a drooling wreck.
Me: I guess. -an audible scream pierces the silence- That'll be Ava waking up from a nightmare.
Thage: -she drops the epeé she had just produced from behind the chair and settles down again- Then it's best you go to her.
Me: Aye. I'll talk to you in the morning, Thage. And I'm still sorry for the position I've put you in.
Thage: If you, Cathy, and Tony keep that up I'm going to start smacking you people in the heads with a frying pan.
Me: There's a bit of a difference between Cathy and Tony involving you in a love triangle and me forcing you to aid the enemy.
Thage: Cathy doesn't realize I divulged information on Jeff before she came. I don't want her to know I've been doing this for that long.
Me: Will I leave that bit out of the conversation when I post it then?
Thage: No, she'll find out eventually. Now, it's rude to keep a young lady waiting, shoo.
Me: Fair enough. Night, Thage. -I run upstairs to Ava-