Kevin, meanwhile, had recovered enough to handle a few things. Rationally or not, the first item on the agenda – at least as far as he was concerned – was Thralls. More specifically, some of the ones that Limey had wound up recruiting.
It wasn’t that the boy had claimed a harem. Limey was perfectly entitled to claim a harem if he’d hit puberty and could manage it. After all, the fact that Limey had to deal with puberty at all was entirely their fault. Laptop computers – even sapient ones – didn’t normally have to deal with adolescence.
His problem was with the Thralls that were involved! The females mostly had jobs as gate-operators and project co-ordinators and such, and were all perfectly entitled to pick Limey to father their kids it they wanted to – but the males were mostly new Thrall-recruits, with no other tasks! There were plenty of major projects underway that called for Thrall-services. Was there really a group of his Thralls who – despite all the powers and abilities he’d given them – couldn’t think of any better way to serve him than to act as simple child-attendants and household servants for one of Marty’s pets? Were some of them really THAT short of initiative? That was very disappointing! It was one thing if HE asked for it – they were HIS property after all – but it was quite another thing if they just couldn’t see that there were better things to do out there! Having Thralls doing nothing but waiting in a harem for their master to return to his pleasures was a serious waste of their time! Even HIS concubines had other jobs when he wasn’t around, they didn’t just lie around waiting for him to call on them!
Admittedly, he and Marty had thrall-aides and guards – but that was because they were doing things that called for them. Their kids were being looked after by Thralls because they needed special care, were threatened because of his and Marty’s activities, and because – as children of wealth and power – they got special privileges! There was no reason for Limey to need Thrall-attendants even if he was fathering children; Limey’s kids would be normal thrall-candidates eventually, and they would be quite safe enough in Kadia until then – just like all the other Thralls children. If he wanted or needed a dedicated harem for some reason, normal indenture-slaves should be quite enough.
Hm. Eventually he’d have to make having some kids a normal part of a female thralls tasks. That way he could keep the human race expanding perpetually!
Kevin spoke briefly with Marty and the various Thralls.
The girls were straightforward; Limey had been abruptly dealing with human instincts, wolf instincts, and adolescence on fast-forward when he’d never even had an organic body before. He was a close associate of Marty’s, and powerful, and had needed them. They were still doing their gatekeeping jobs; the ever-growing Kadia gateway network was currently keeping some 16,000 Thralls busy – and there were plenty move on caravan escort duty.
The males however… They were a few who hadn’t been handed initial assignments, had not been sure of what to do, didn’t have a lot of initiative, didn’t get recruited by Thralls who were running projects and needed help, and who had desperately wanted to get closer to Kevin – or to anyone who associated with him a lot… Aaargh! The thickheaded ones from out on the end of the bell curve!
Fortunately for them, Marty recognized the signs of Kevin’s darkness-fueled temper rising and promptly stepped in to defuse the explosion before the dummies got assigned to permanent harem attendant positions or to Dr Brenner or something. Defusing Kevin was often a very useful solution! It kept the kid from doing things that he’d regret later on! Even if he had to agree that signing up for harem attendant positions just to be working for an associate of an associate of Kevin’s was pretty silly…
Besides… he remembered how hard being a freelancer had been: being abruptly dumped into the job market could be pretty confusing at first!
He suggested setting up some default assignments for incoming Thralls, so that they didn’t have to look for work. After all, given that some of them came from radically different worlds, it was hard to blame them for finding Kadia disorienting at first.
It was a good idea. Kevin promptly set up some default assignments to initial training classes, followed by rotation through a variety of positions in Kadia until they found one that satisfied them – and assigned a few of those new manager-Thralls to handle it. He hadn’t really considered it before; the vast majority of the Thralls didn’t need explicit directions for everything!
Wait! There was an endless demand for disaster-relief, rescue services, medical aides, and famine mitigation efforts – and that kind of job often led to good publicity and to gaining new recruits as well, which was an extra bonus! Thralls who didn’t show any real aptitude for other jobs, and who didn’t have other preferences, could be routed to those jobs pretty much endlessly. It would be a strike at the Horsemen of the Apocalypse too!
Limey had a request as well; he didn’t actually feel that he needed any harem-attendants (which Marty was quite pleased to hear), but a couple of adventuring-assistants to keep him from being bothered while he cast spells to assist Marty might be handy!
Well, that was easy enough; Marty just assigned him the most physically imposing pair – a couple of kids from the Five Worlds named Antonio and Eduard – and sent the rest back to the labor pool… Hm. It looked like most of them had been from the Five Worlds; they’d apparently been used to waiting for orders before doing anything – and for permission for everything short of breathing. No wonder they hadn’t known what to do when they got turned loose in Kadia with no one to provide directions! Fortunately, it looked like most of the Core Thralls – and virtually all of the ones from the more independent worlds – had a lot more sense than the Five Worlds batch did. Still, the further their operations spread, the more totalitarian regimes they were likely to start recruiting from.
Meanwhile, Kevin had found that there were people wanting to see him – apparently a Core survey group.
Oh blast! Just what he HADN’T needed at the moment, and couldn’t turn down! Well, at least he still had the “recovering from injuries” card to play… It was even still partially true.
He gave them a little time.
The final report was as difficult to compose as Dr Parson’s had expected. Kevin had made more time for them than they’d really expected – but he’d been very hard to read. His habit of multi-tracking all the time made reading his physical responses unreliable; you could never be sure that they were actually related to what he’d just been asked or said.
- Kevin did indeed seem to consider himself an embodiment of “the darkness” – but he also seemed to define “the darkness” as the instinctive human drives to spread, to dominate, to strike back at whatever harmed or threatened, and to have lots of children. Midnight Gardener seemed to be nothing more – and nothing less – than an attempt to claim all of eternity for the human race and the uplifted animals it was dragging along into its future.
- He seemed frighteningly easy to impose on. He had – despite being an Opener and thus almost unbindable – apparently been summoned at least once as a Demon Lord, and had answered. In fact, they had felt compelled to warn him not to simply give everyone what they asked for – and to watch out for would-be mates who wanted to exploit him. So much of his will seemed to be bound up in controlling the more malevolent aspects of the darkness that he seemed to have little capacity left to consider other things – and he was self-aware enough to rely extensively on the judgement and decisions of others. That might be why he so readily gave others what they asked of him, and would explain the one notable exception – his refusal to share, or transfer, the powers of darkness; he was afraid of creating another Hellthunder.
- His Thralls… were adolescents. Like every adolescent, they wanted adventure AND security, freedom from restraints AND firm limits, independence AND someone to love and care for them, the power to act on their own decisions AND someone older and wiser to tell them what to do and take responsibility for it. They wanted skill and power right away, without having to work for it. They wanted all the self-contradictory things that every youngster wanted – and Kevin gave it to them. Their development was indeed being retarded, but they seemed to be in little danger, and were mostly doing work that was useful to the race.
- Gelman appeared to believe that Kevin was primarily focused on containing the darkness, and so was essentially both allowing the will of the race to steer him around and pretty much giving anyone who asks whatever they asked for simply because saying “yes” was easier than arguing – and it would be hard to say that he was entirely wrong.
- Kevin himself apparently felt that youngsters who were silly enough to get themselves enslaved in Kadia – despite all the computerized warnings – were too foolish to be let out in the Manifold without a leash. He also apparently felt that a few decades service in Kadia might suffice to get them ready for the wider world – and that the Manifold was coming into their lives whether their parents, or Core, liked it or not.
- As for his Thralls… his statements indicated that he felt that they had agreed to his contract, were being well paid for their time, and would eventually “graduate” into the Manifold well-prepared for it, able to use many of it’s powers, with a proper appreciation of its opportunities and dangers, and long, long, lives ahead of them to explore and enjoy it. He did not seem to see any real distinction between a Human and an equally-sapient Neodog or Anthropomorph – or any reason why humans should NOT be property. That might be a symptom of being somewhat inhuman himself.
Overall? Kevin possessed enormous power and controlled tremendous resources, but that potential seemed extremely unlikely to become a military threat to the Core Worlds. It was, in fact, far more likely to come to their defense – but he and his operations were certainly a threat to the established ethics and social structure of the Core. Whether that would ultimately be good or bad was beyond their ability to say.
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 140c – A Family Connection (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 140b – Interviews (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 139b – The American Werewolfmobile and the British Umpire (ruscumag.wordpress.com)
- Federation-Apocalypse Session 138d – Family Repercussions (ruscumag.wordpress.com)