59 – The New Paradigm

Stef felt the blue in the tank around her draining away, but she kept her eyes closed, trying to ignore it – just as she had often ignored her alarm when it had been time to wake up for school.

‘Stef.’

Ryan’s voice. Still not a reason to wake up.

‘Stef.’

‘Hmm,’ she managed, wanting to stay in the gentle, easy fugue state that he blue had allowed her.

‘It’s just before dawn,’ her dad-apparent said, ‘but I promise it’s worth it.’

She opened her eyes, and stood as the last of the blue drained away and the tank disappeared. He touched her shoulder, and the Tech Department scrubs disappeared, replaced with a bright-and-shiny uniform – one she was sure she’d have dirty within an hour.

‘Is it a good sign, or a bad sign, that I’m wearing a uniform before the sun is up?’

He smiled his implacable narcy smile down at her. ‘A good sign.’

They walked through the Tech Department – surprisingly, for whatever godsforsaken hour this was, there were people awake, but none seemed to notice her. They stepped into the elevator, and Ryan pressed the button for the roof.

‘No phoenix, right?’ she said.

‘Nothing like that.’

They stepped out into the grey light of the pre-dawn morning. Outside and below, there was traffic noise – part of the world was awake, even if she still felt like going back to sleep.

Ryan put a hand on her shoulder, and they walked to the safety wall that kept people from falling from the roof.

‘The first time we came up here,’ he said, ‘you needed space to breathe. The second, was so that I could show you magic.’

‘And now?’ she asked as he lapsed into silence.

‘Today is the twentieth of November, and due to a little paperwork pushed through by Enforcer Crawford whilst you were asleep, it’s your first official day as an agent. Jones needs to continue to do some adjustments to your code, but from now, you have all of the power and privilege; and the Duty; that comes with your position and your uniform.’

Ryan lifted a hand, and a spiral of blue rose from it, catching the first flickers of the dawn light.

She blinked back tears. ‘I’m entirely sure that that isn’t necessary,’ she said, reaching out to run her fingers through the slowly-turning, glittering blue.

‘I thought you might appreciate a little ceremony,’ he said.

He raised his hand, and the spiral lifted from it, burst over their heads, and rained down as dry droplets which faded like ash before they touched the ground.

‘As your senior agent, I’ll tell you that privilege and Duty define us; we have the power and the need to protect, to make the world around us a better place, and to improve it where we can. You can do good, and I require that you give it your all.’

She nodded.

‘As your father,’ he said, ‘I’m already amazed by you,’ he said. ‘And I know that one day, I hope that one day, you’ll see that in yourself.’

He raised his hand, and she shook it. ‘Welcome to the Agency, Agent Mimosa.’

58 - The Love Story

  36 comments for “59 – The New Paradigm

  1. d3rrial
    March 12, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Finally an Agent… No more freedom, no more life, just protocol! 😛

    The Taylorgnolia situation is going to be awkward, isn’t it…

  2. Stormy
    March 12, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Oh like Stef had a life to begin with. 😛

    Awkward isn’t going to begin to cover it…

  3. March 12, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    no forgetmindmeld this time?

    • Bart
      April 8, 2015 at 11:27 am

      Who got it the first time?

      • Stormy
        April 9, 2015 at 8:09 am

        In the original version, the Agency makes Ryan wipe Stef’s memories of the limit tests.

        Part of it was to help her work with Taylor and his minions without cringing every time she saw time; but part of it was also a loyalty test for Ryan – to see if he could do that to his favourite new pet.

        I avoided doing it in this version, as it always felt like putting Stef at too much of a disadvantage – that everyone knew what had happened except her (well, and Curt, he didn’t know in the original). And I always felt like it was a minor bit of a plot hole that Mags never used the knowledge against her.

        In this new version, she’s just going to have to deal with being afraid of Taylor. :/

  4. Stormy
    March 12, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    It seemed to complicate things last time, so this time…I’m going to live with the consequences of letting her remember everything that happened.

  5. John C Danielson
    March 13, 2015 at 2:19 am

    Does this conclude Book 3, Mirrorshades? Ryan’s last would be a great closing line to the book. And Curt being informed of Stef’s new status (and responsibilities) could be a good place to sneak in some expository text to bring new readers up to speed in Book 4.

  6. Stormy
    March 13, 2015 at 5:30 am

    Yus! This is the end of Mirrorshades. 😀

  7. Stormy
    March 13, 2015 at 5:31 am

    The question is going to be though…who gets to Curt first, Stef or Mags? Who tells their side of the story first?

  8. John C Danielson
    March 13, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I don’t want to step on the author’s prerogative*, but I can imagine you going full Rashomon on Curt with him learning of Taylor’s psychotic break from reality from a number of view points. Starting with Screen (and possibly Raz) followed by Jones with cryptic remarks from Merlin, then Curt attempting to interrogate Applebaum and finally being ‘set straight’ by Ryan. And only then having Stef and Mags attempt to tell Curt their stories simultaneously. You might even be able to work Grigori and the Parkers in prior the big three-way conversation.

    *If I did step over the line, feel free to delete this post.

    • March 13, 2015 at 2:21 pm

      BWA HAHAHAHAHA

      You will just give her ideas! … Seriously don’t give Stormy ideas…. She tortures us enough as it is with the heart-rending soul-encompassing ideas she comes up with on her own….

      • Stormy
        March 15, 2015 at 9:15 am

        But fresh ideas are like fresh meat…eeeeexcelllent…

        • March 15, 2015 at 10:50 am

          *Whimpers and curls in a ball*

        • Stormy
          March 15, 2015 at 6:46 pm

          *gives cookie*

  9. Stormy
    March 13, 2015 at 11:03 am

    …what makes you think I’m some kind of angry god who would pull out the delete-hammer for making a suggestion?

    Hm. I could do Raz first. Maybe him asking Curt for some pointers on how to get away from a larger attacker. And Curt finally getting it out of him why he needs to know.

    Merlin can always saunter through talking nonsense as normal…

    Oh god, what if he sees Stef’s cell before finding out she’s okay?

    And the Parkers do like to gossip.

    • March 13, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      ….. Yuuuuuuuuuuuup She has gotten an Idea…. Poor Curt extra big dose of nightmares coming for him… I just go over here and sob till he finds teh magic lap

      • Stormy
        March 15, 2015 at 9:16 am

        I wrote the end of what I think will be Book #6…so much cry, but so much magic lap.

  10. d3rrial
    March 16, 2015 at 4:04 am

    The limit testing seems kinda strange, now that I’ve had my time to think about it. I get the idea that the point is to break the individual in order to find the insanity subroutines, which are then to be removed later on, but wouldn’t it make sense to at least remove all memories of the limit test? That way the memories can’t trigger any long-term insanity effects that couldn’t be triggered in time for the debuggers to clean up the normal causes for insanity…

    Hmm whatever, thanks for the book, can’t wait for the next one! 🙂

    • Stormy
      March 16, 2015 at 5:34 am

      Well, they aren’t specifically meant to send an individual insane – that’s how Taylor and co have been acting (because they see Stef as nothing but Carol: The Sequel). In a better world, with better agents, it’s more like:

      “Good morning, experimental agent, today we’re going to remove your head several times and experiment with blunt force. Then we’ll break for lunch; and do some elemental testing in our afternoon session.”

      Taylor, instead, is going for flat-out torture cause he doesn’t know how to feel feels. -_- And it’s being allowed because…well, the Brisbane Agency is shit.

    • Stormy
      March 16, 2015 at 5:37 am

      Trust me; right up until I wrote the end of the book, I had no idea whether or not I was going to wipe her memories.

      In the end though…I never felt it was fair to Stef, to have that knowledge wiped from her. It seemed to unnecessarily remove agency from her actions, when everyone else around her knows what happened.

      In this version, because I wanted to involve Curt a little, I decided against it – there should be some fallout from what happened. And Stef should be able to act honestly with people, rather than not be aware that Mags is likely snickering behind her back about how pathetic she is when she begs for her life. -_-

  11. Bart
    April 8, 2015 at 6:54 am

    I just bing-read the three main require: cookie books. Thanks, it was a good read.

    • Stormy
      April 9, 2015 at 8:11 am

      Welcome newwwwbie!

      *showers you in cookies*

      Got a fav character so far? Fav scene?

      I’m going to be starting Book #4 in July – I didn’t like how patchy my update schedule for Mirrorshades was, so I want to ensure I have a sizeable backlog before I start serialising this time.

  12. jms
    April 30, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Wow. Like the other commenter, I just binge-read all three books in the span of like a week… holy shit. Ok, packing my thoughts up:

    I really love what you’ve done with this story. There are a few minor issues I have with some stuff going on but I can justify most of it to myself; like, all the wanton violence is kind of explainable when you have Basically Magic Medicine to patch everything up, it’s not crazy torture if you don’t really feel the pain as much as we mundane muggles… still sort of squick. Initially I was pretty annoyed by Stef’s, uh, issues. So she died as a toddler and was brought back and basically had a neglected childhood with a verbally abusive father, and then got sucked into this world of magic, introduced to it via mass murder from which she was the sole survivor – it sucks! It does! I sympathize! But man, she came across as whiny and panicked sometimes when nothing really terrible was even happening. Later on I definitely felt for her more, but there were times when I wanted to just groan and go “how have you survived this long, being this much of a wreck?”

    Ryan, also. Issues, yo. I don’t really agree with Taylor but that whole part where he was like “So you tried to turn your lover into an agent and she ended up going crazy and trying to kill everyone and nobody knows why… and then you tried to bring me back from dead, returning me to agent-hood, and I’m obviously different and everyone hates me and you wish you hadn’t… and now you’re gonna do it with Stef and just be like ‘OK EVERYTHING WILL BE OK NOW’? Great. Greaaat” – on point. Seriously, this poor guy (Ryan) has not had a good run of things, so I get that he’s clutching on to the daughter he sees Stef as, but c’mon. Similarly, all the comments about how he’s a great guy and a terrible agent – why exactly is he the Director, then? I get that there doesn’t seem to be any better options, but really.

    Also confused about why people are afraid to die in a world where Death is a kindly anthropomorphic personality (who actually offers Stef a choice, like, multiple times) and there’s actually life after death, or at least *existence* – honestly, if I could get into the gates of Valhalla or whatever, I would probs be okay with it.

    Love the play on words with ‘angel’ and ‘agent’. Awesome take on the whole ‘secret society MIB’ thing. There are times when I wish the world/s in general was more fleshed out, because it feels like we’re given an incredibly narrow look at the world, just slivers here and there – sometimes it feels like the Agency isn’t actually doing anything important because we’re caught up in the details of the characters’ lives. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just wanted to note it as something that could be worked on, if you wanted to switch things up. Very character- and plot-driven story, which is fine by me.

    Last thing: So angels basically are… humans. That’s what I’m getting from it. Long-lived, plus lots of tech, made of goop innards, with a ton of the same mental issues as humans, especially when their programming breaks down. What I’m really confused about is where humans come from, then. Were humans made to look like angels? That doesn’t make sense, because there’s no reason for blue goop to “automatically” take the shape of a human. In that case, the ‘human’ form of the angels was made to look like homo sapiens? So where the crap did people come from? Is there actually a God? I’m REALLY especially confused about why Stef never seems curious about this. I mean, I assume she was an atheist before – but regardless of that, surely the first question on one’s mind is “so uh… intelligent creation, yea, nay, do I get to talk to God, is he an AI?” Not to mention “so uh… you were coded into being, does that mean humans didn’t invent programming, but rather came across it because programming is built-in to the universe or what? Speaking of which, what with the faerie lands and other dimensions and things, are there actual aliens out there in our dimension/plane on other planets?”

    I mean, you’d think ONE of the techy geeks would be curious about this marvel of their ‘real life’… or maybe they’re just happy to stick to their comics and movies.

    • Stormy
      April 30, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Hooooly crap dude. Ok, you’ve made my day to start with. Replies to each bit incoming!

  13. jms
    April 30, 2015 at 11:07 am

    AND I’M NOT DONE – I realize I went off on a tangent but really what I want to say is this is great. Well done! I get the sense that your writing’s improved (I think you went back and edited a bunch, at least according to other comments, so I can’t *really* tell) – and anyhow, it’s obviously a labor of love. Kudos!

    • Stormy
      April 30, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      In short: I wrote the first five books, then went back and I’m in the process of rewriting them to release as ebooks (as I’ve gotten a little better as a writer >_>). So you get the benefit of me knowing where story/character arcs are going this time around. 🙂

  14. Stormy
    April 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Wow. Like the other commenter, I just binge-read all three books in the span of like a week… holy shit. Ok, packing my thoughts up:
    *unpacks your thoughts*

    *throws out your dirty laundry*

  15. Stormy
    April 30, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I wanted to just groan and go “how have you survived this long, being this much of a wreck?”
    Basically, pre-Agency, she was a lot more…sedate. She kept herself more contained, so she had less chance of being triggered/overwhelmed by anything.

    With the Agency, and with Ryan, she’s being given chances to try new things, and do things she was too scared to experience or try on her own.

    She was able to keep her emotions a lot more level…by living a lot less. And even then it didn’t always work – she would still have bad days; still hurt herself; still try to kill herself.

    But Ryan’s acting like a safety net, so she has backup for…acting childish.

  16. Stormy
    April 30, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Seriously, this poor guy (Ryan) has not had a good run of things, so I get that he’s clutching on to the daughter he sees Stef as, but c’mon.
    If Ryan had taken his blinkers off; and if Taylor had been able to have a conversation…they really could have sorted all of this out fifteen years ago.

    Similarly, all the comments about how he’s a great guy and a terrible agent – why exactly is he the Director, then? I get that there doesn’t seem to be any better options, but really.
    Reynolds chose Ryan over Taylor; because he saw him as a better option, he was closer at the time…and Reynolds was trying to be kinder to Taylor. (Samuels was never in the runnings, Techs rarely get to be Director).

  17. Stormy
    April 30, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Also confused about why people are afraid to die in a world where Death is a kindly anthropomorphic personality (who actually offers Stef a choice, like, multiple times) and there’s actually life after death, or at least *existence* – honestly, if I could get into the gates of Valhalla or whatever, I would probs be okay with it.
    The simple reason is – not everyone knows Death is friendly. It’s not exactly advertised that Death is this wonderful person (the muggles know nothing, they’re a bunch of John Snows).

    But to the afterlife – not even Death herself is sure of what it is. There’s something – so you could get escorted to the gates of Valhalla (everyone gets a death experience in line with their beliefs – she’d probably appear as a Valkyrie – she’s not a woman in a black robe to everyone), but once you pass through that gate; no one knows what happens next.

    There’s still the fear that there might be nothing afterward; and there’s still the fact that you miss out on life as you know it, and will never see the people you love again.

  18. Stormy
    April 30, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Love the play on words with ‘angel’ and ‘agent’.
    *tips author hat*

    This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just wanted to note it as something that could be worked on, if you wanted to switch things up. Very character- and plot-driven story, which is fine by me.
    The exploration is coming – I just wanted to have a bit of a base for people to hold onto before we go diving into fae culture and the various corners of Faerie. I wanted people to give a crap about the characters, and have some kind of frame of reference before we go…discovering lost fae courts; saving the world from baby phoenixes; or fighting for control of land between the Mad and the Liars.

    …I also just love playing with character-based stuff. If you had any specific questions about the world though (other than what I’m answering), I’m really, really happy to ramble on for paragraphs at a time.

  19. Stormy
    April 30, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Last thing: So angels basically are… humans. That’s what I’m getting from it. Long-lived, plus lots of tech, made of goop innards, with a ton of the same mental issues as humans, especially when their programming breaks down.
    Fairly accurate. Caveats coming.

    What I’m really confused about is where humans come from, then. Were humans made to look like angels?
    Ok, sit back, here’s a brief history of how everything works:

    The primal forces of the universe are Life; Death; Limbo and Time.

    In the beginning. There was nothing. It was boring. Life basically blesses worlds to allow life to flourish there; and a blue phoenix allows magic to be a part of that world. Evolution, then, basically happens naturally.

    Life really doesn’t care if the world has microbes or super-intelligent apes, it’s all life to her. To a degree, there’s certain magical paths that evolution always takes – there’s always nature fae for each environment, there’s always a warden for each animal family, etc.

    There’s no intelligent design as such – humans weren’t designed. Humans in the Cookieverse are the same group of random mistakes that we are in the real world.

    There are gods, there are demons (two sides of the same coin) – they’re basically the Q Continuum from Star Trek – beings that got a couple of billions years head start on the rest of the universe, and no really do nothing but sit around and get the equivalent of high all day. The gods like to interfere with the lesser races (except for a few cases).

    [In short: gods – high all day, and have no interest in doing anything. Demons – same race, but like to interfere, often give up most of their power to essentially live as fae].

    The system (and the agency) was created by the gods to guard against that interference, and essentially serve as an early warning system if someone came to one of their planets to start to mess stuff up.

    (This leads naturally into Jones’ line:
    ‘Angels are about the earliest that the fae remember us. We assume, and they acknowledge that we were…on the sidelines before that, but the forms weren’t memorable. We may have looked entirely human and walked among them; or we may not have looked human at all. We might have been statues or rocks or ghosts.’ Jones sighed. ‘We don’t know.’)

    So two important things: agents (whatever they were originally called) likely didn’t look like humans; and originally served a much different and much-reduced set of duties to what they do now. It’s canonically unknown as to when they started protecting the masquerade like they do now.

    Is there actually a God?
    Not in the sense of an old white dude with a big beard.

    There’s Chaos (father to Life, Death and Limbo) – but he’s dead whilst the universe lives. A lot of people with a sky-daddy background conflate the two (hence Stef’s line about “screwing up so badly god had to fix it), but even then, his interest was in the mirror (part of himself) and had no idea that she was even there.

    I’m REALLY especially confused about why Stef never seems curious about this.
    Information overload? She’s already learning so much that she doesn’t have time to ask everything.

    Speaking of which, what with the faerie lands and other dimensions and things, are there actual aliens out there in our dimension/plane on other planets?
    Yes, there’s actual aliens. 😛

    • jms
      April 30, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      Oh wow, you actually… really went through answered all of that. No more questions for now! Thank you for a thoroughly enjoyable read. I look forward to the rest! 😀

  20. AvidFan
    May 27, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Stormy! I NEED MOAR! 🙁

    • Stormy
      May 28, 2015 at 7:11 am

      I’m looking at launching Book #4 in July (probably on my birthday, cause I’m a softie like that).

      If you want something to tide you over in the mean time, there’s some shorts here that aren’t on the site: http://www.amazon.com/Grace-McDermott/e/B009P8KSCS/

      Or you could write fanfic/draw fanart/work on your shrine to the widdlest Deadpool…

  21. April 8, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    It still fascinates me as to how much thought the readers put into these characters and the world(s) they live. I’ve wondered as I’ve read book after book about the evolution of it all! Did not like the violence in Book 3 and look forward to moving into more interesting developments than beating the life out of someone. The characters themselves are so interesting in this world.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *