Of late when I say I’m going to finish something I’m usually talkin’ out of my butt, because between distractions and being tired, I never get down the sort of wordage I used to sport. But since I know I’m going to have a busy afternoon and evening today, I’d better get the rest of this three-way discussion between The Three Sorceresses and clue everyone in on what’s going down at Salem.
And, you know, I didn’t disappoint–
Not only did I finish, but the second scene came out to nearly the same word length as the first. Now, I think the next scene is going to run a little longer, and the one after that may be longer, and the penultimate one . . . that could run long, could run short. I really don’t know at this point. I’d say, right now, that this chapter will go over ten thousand words, maybe fifteen thousand, and could be the one that pushes the story over two hundred words–which means the story’s almost over, right? Yeah, right.
All that stuff out of the way, what exactly are we talking about here? Well . . . this:
(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)
This was something that Annie had obviously studied. “It’s the term use where someone who is Aware uses magic and technology to project themselves into a homunculus or clone and control it as if it were their body.”
“You know what a remote piloted vehicles is, right?” Helena knew that sometimes it was necessary to drop back into Normal terminology to help Kerry understand some Aware processes.
He nodded. “Sure. Like a drone.”
“Yes, except a puppeteer doesn’t use a monitor and joystick to control their drones: they move their mind into another form and use it like it was their own body.”
“Wow.” Something Annie said suddenly resonated. “Did you say—” He turned to her. “Clone?”
So now the secret is out:
Yes, it would appear that there are clones about in The Foundation world. I mean, we know there are Artificial People, which are nothing more than self-aware androids, so why not clones? That Foundation: they so sci fi. But so is Kerry, and he has questions:
She nodded. “Yes.”
He turned back to Helena. “I didn’t know we could make clones.”
“We can’t here, but The Foundation can.” Helena shrugged as she sat back in her high back chair. “It’s really nothing more than a variation of the magic used to create homunculi, only it uses a person’s genetic material as the template for development instead of magna mater.”
“How long has that been possible?”
“Since the mid Eighteenth Century.” Annie folder her hands into her lap. “That’s when the first experiments happened in Europe—mostly England and Germany.”
“I’m not surprised. So we like . . . go into a homunculus and walk around in them?”
Helena nodded. “More or less. You control the homunculus like it was your body. You see, hear, and feel everything, only if anything happens to your puppet, you’re not injured: your real body and mind are somewhere else, safe and secure in the marionette rig.”
“How far away can you, um, run this puppet?”
“Technically, if you’re good enough, from anywhere in the world. Realistic;y?” Helena cocked her head to one side. “Usually from about five hundred to a thousand klicks, and no further than a couple of thousand.”
Hearing this had Kerry coming up with dozens of questions, but there was only one that seemed important. “Can we do magic while we’re puppetting around?”
If you think about Annie’s comment–“Since the mid Eighteenth Century”–you may have caught a glimmer of where that conversation could have traveled. Annie seems to know a bit about this stuff, and she probably kept it from Kerry just to keep him from getting all geeked out. And now, you know, he may just start thinking stuff like, “I wonder what an Annie clone would be like?” Watch some episodes of Orphan Black, kids, and see just how messed up that could turn out.
But what of his last question? After all, if you look at humuncli and clones as nothing more than the RPVs of The Foundation World, why train anyone to learn all this bad ass magic so they can head out into the field? Nice of you to ask, ’cause there are answers . . .
Annie jumped in with the answer before Helena could. “You can use the homunculus as something of a foci for Far Casting, but it’s impossible to do magic with the puppet.”
“What about when using a clone?”
“No.” Helena stretched, raising both hands above her head for a moment. “Even though a clone is made of your own genetic material, no one really knows how to make it channel energy to Craft the
Art, so really—” She shrugged after lowering her arms. “Even if you get your conciseness permanently downloaded into a clone, only about two percent of those bodies allow you to do magic, so you’re pretty much stuck as a Normal.
“And before you ask, that’s one of the reasons why we—” There wasn’t any need for Annie or Kerry to ask for the identity of the we in Helena’s statement. “—don’t run around in clone bodies while out on field ops. And while we could do magic in a clone body through a Far Casting spell, you’d also find a good part of your memories—actually, nearly all of them—in the clone’s brain—”
“And that’s not good if your connection to the clone is broken.” Annie slid around in her chair so she was facing Kerry. “Then there’s a version of you facing down Deconstructors who cannot craft magic, but knows everything you know.”
He nodded, a grave look on his face. “I can see how that would be bad.” Having faced Deconstructors as a witch, he didn’t want to think what they might do to get information from a non-Aware version of himself.
“You can’t even begin to imagine.” Helena set her tablet to one side as she turned back to the original subject. “Anyway, the Guardians have decided they want to see if you can adapt to a marionette rig—and if so, if you can then puppet a homunculus. Ramona has a couple of rigs in storage in the lower levels of Gwydion Manor and she’ll cook up a couple of puppets tonight.”
Sure, you can send in a clone to do a witch’s job, but unless you’re one hell of a Far Caster your clone will never be as good as you–in fact, it’s gonna be pretty shit compared to what the original can do in the same situation. There are things you can use a clone for–say, you need some warm bodies to act as cannon fodder–but using them to conduct field ops like the The Gang of Four did in Kansas City the year before isn’t one of those things.
And don’t tell Emma about the clones, or she’ll doing he damnedest to get some blood from Kerry . . .
I’ve already stated that Helena is going to be in the next scene and the one after that, so we get to see a lot of the Mistress of All Things Dark dealing with school stuff. And given that the name of the next scene is The Puppeteers, we’re going to see up close and personal how well Annie and Kerry work their puppets–