Monstrous Compendium Ch 13 Ficbit – I Got Better

Kirito tried not to flinch. “So it’s not just whether we want to go or not. It may not be safe for our families if we stay.”

Asuna gripped the bar, then breathed out. “My family will be fine. They have security. Everyone else – Argo’s right, it’s a risk. I don’t think it’s a huge risk, the police will be able to detain people who make obvious threats, but if even one person makes a crazy plan and doesn’t talk before they act… well. Laughing Coffin.”

“That could explain a few things that came up recently,” Matteo mused.

Oh no. Kirito felt his stomach sink. “What things?”

“Ooooh boy.” Matteo pushed her hands through her hair, dark strands catching on one finger before she disentangled it. “You have to kind of read between the lines of what the Taskforce is admitting to, but… bottom line, Kikuoka and his guys may want to keep a good grip on magical research, but they still think we’re citizens, with a right to say no and walk around like anyone else. Only it looks like higher-ups in the government want to disappear – ahem, firmly encourage anyone with sorcery to do their civic duty and join their black ops studies.”

A moment’s silence held the café. Then – Klein wasn’t the only one who growled.

“You know, what scares me is this is probably what they think is being nice,” Matteo grumped. “Work for the government, rather than be thrown into some inescapable pit for being too creepy to live.” She held up her hands at Lightfall’s wounded look. “Hey, I think magic is beyond cool, bro, and I’m going. Most people… special effects in the movies, cool. Realizing someone can actually turn you into a newt? Kind of terrifying.”


35 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch 13 Ficbit – I Got Better

  1. Oh damnit, no. This is not good. Nothing of it. Not the fact that there are some people who would go after SAO survivors and their families, not the fact that people are scared of them, even if that fear is understandable, and most certainly not the fact that some goverment officials want them to disappear to somewhere… where they can experiment on them. I just hope that they don’t try to take their families hostage to ‘convince’ the SAO players, or at least some of them, that working with them is in their own best interest. Although at this point I wouldn’t be surprised. Of course it would be nice if some higher up could remember that people should be judged not by their ability to turn you into a newt but by the content of their character. One can always hope at least.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I do wonder if they would actually be recruited into a “black ops military” program.
      On the one hand, some militaries are prepared to work via conscription.

      On the other hand, it seems like it would be a much better idea to pressure them into an occult law enforcement agency instead.

      1) How much Black Ops does Japan really need to do on a yearly basis? I guarantee they need lots more law enforcement.

      2) If you’re worried about the threat they pose, then it’d be better to train them in “subdual damage” rather than assassination methods.

      3) Black Ops are trained to overthrow/undermine political figures. That seems like a terrible place to put conscripts.

      I can understand the motivation to gain control over a unknown power bloc, but I suspect this is a case where the real life response would be way more boring than movies would have us believe.

      “We will now be experimenting on you! The current plan will be to spend 18 months on Prestidigitation. Please increase the temperature in the middle balloon by 2 degrees.”

      Liked by 5 people

      1. Studies here may be literal in the normal sense, not the studies and observation group sense.

        Looking at how the stuff works so that it can be actual already trained volunteer operators can develop the capability.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This is where the short sightedness of human organizations comes into play.

    The problem with trying to compel someone with even limited access to D&D/Pathfinder magic is…

    …well, bluntly they have more power than you.
    In a real, direct, tangible sense, a sorcerer has abilities no non-sorcerer can match. And he knows it.

    The closest real-world analog to this? Is press-ganging black ops special forces types…into the special forces in the first place. Unless you have /specific/ influence they cannot possibly counter, well. They’re the ones with the guns and workout regime that would let them kick your face in…

    ..sorcery has so very many options beyond mere personal kicking of face.

    It’s really, really hard to say how that would go. The real world has never delt with anything at all like it, and anything that’s been close has gone…variously. Often very badly.

    In MCO? The people with sorcery have been /temporarily/ nerfed. They have expenses. They have social risks that maybe make letting you protect them now in exchange for ‘membership’ in your program look like a very good idea….

    but they also know that lack of power is /temporary/. Study long and hard enough, and they can get at least a lot of the power they know of back. At a minimum /some/. Pressganging the SAO survivors into anything would be a very, very bad idea long term.

    Charm person is spell level 1. Invisibility is level 2. Clairvoyance is level 3. The first ghetto teleportation is level 4.

    it would be terribly embarrassing if a bunch of gamer kids were to take over your black ops program and your government from within.
    Eventually someone in said government would recognize that. It appears the task force already has.
    The rest of the world is a little slower to twig.

    that’s not a good thing.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Main problem is that presumably the SAO government presumably doesn’t really know what to do, in is a semi-state of panic and is failing around randomly right now. Japan’s culture of conformity etc (which the SAOers really don’t mess with any more) doesn’t help

      It’s probably at least part of the reason the taskforce isn’t raising a fuss that a large bunch of the players are at least (temporarily) moving to Aincrad. Gives everybody a chance to calm down, establish some sort of communication with Aincrad and give the government time to digest all this.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. The Taskforce has dealt with enough of what even (currently) low-powered sorcerers can do to extrapolate a likely power curve. And decided hell no, making these people do anything is counterproductive. Kikuoka wants people just as dedicated to protecting Japan as he is. Resentful powerful magic-users are the wrong way to go.

      …Let them choose to go or not, and some of them are likely to stay. And even if those are mostly the low-level players? Who cares, that’s more magical power than the whole rest of the world has. Bird in hand, two in the bush, and all that.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. I haven’t forgotten that Kirito and Argo were able to script-hack a fireball spell into a shaped cutting charge. That Kirito has mused on how magic and draconic had a clear syntax and structure like computer languages. That much of magic components, magic scrolls, diagrams, chants, etc. where more ways to distribute the cost and effort, or serve as symbols to describe the working. These things can be mixed and matched, to achieve the results one wants, if enough thought and planning goes into it.

    Anyone involved in setting up the “Kayaba Contingency” will have been introduced to these concepts, and have actively worked to cooperatively fuse a broad selection of spells (and divine Paladin magic), that was not intended to work together in that way- to work together as one casting.

    What would these magi-script kiddies/elders (they aren’t all teenagers) manage to do with computers and “smart devices”? If they can find a way to, say, use computer parallel processing to amplify a spell to overcome a magic- weak environment, or a network to concentrate magic from many users to power a working. What about finding a way to adapt electrical energy, or even mechanical (rotational) energy to power magic? Something like the psychics did in Mcaffery’s “Talent” and “Tower and Hive” series. Perhaps using mundane means to try to emulate some conditions of elemental manifestation zones would give a boost. Van de Graaf generators in an industrial freezer for Risia? 🙂

    We shouldn’t forget though, that the Japanese government does have an obligation to regulate the use of magic, to make sure it isn’t used to harm other citizens or the nation as a whole, or indeed cause harm/break laws in other nations. Just, premptively treating magic users like they are a danger to society, is likely to become a self-fullfilling prophecy.

    One of my concerns is that its the all-too-savvy Pkers like PoH and the gang that will play along, and end up becoming “trusted”, while they plan a way to use their talents to indulge in mayhem along the way.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. *Nod* I imagine the Taskforce is trying to find out everything possible about PoH and the like. And Kikuoka knows enough about computers to be considering a lot of the above options.

      His opinion: Get us in on the ground floor as the sane and reasonable people dealing with magic, and the players will be much more inclined to say “Yes, laws and regs are a good thing.”

      Liked by 4 people

      1. /His opinion: Get us in on the ground floor as the sane and reasonable people dealing with magic, and the players will be much more inclined to say “Yes, laws and regs are a good thing.” /
        Unfortunately ‘laws and regs’ aren’t going to solve all the upcoming problems. Because this whole magic thing is not going to be able to be kept a secret forever even assuming they don’t get an extra-planer invasion or something.

        And unless they manage to prep/prime the populace to accepting (or at least being civil/tolerating) the magic users, things WILL get nasty.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The difficulty, as it always is with such things, comes not from getting people to agree that laws and regulations are good thing. It’s getting them to agree /WHICH/ laws and regulations are good.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Oh, gads, and just ran into some of my cultural assumptions….

    I’m a small, religious woman who grew up around large animals and fire-arms. I have zero issues coping with the idea that there’s more powerful stuff out there, sometimes I have to deal with it, and there are both tools and tactics beyond ‘destroy it’ or ‘get a protector on your side.’

    That is not, first-world-speaking, a very common thing…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m curious – would the whole “Don’t bother it and it won’t (shouldn’t) bother you” advice fall under the heading of other things?

      …also, I wonder if it’s just because I live in a rural area, but…do people really think that dealing with something bigger and nastier than you really comes down to “Shoot it!” or “Get somebody else to shoot it!”?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Only as a sort of low-level sorting mechanism– those you are supposed to protect (which includes yourself!) require basic paying attention, not the “first punch is free” form of that which a lot of folks go for.

        I think the twist is that for a lot of folks (especially in the city), they don’t notice a possible threat until it’s become an active one, and when they start to recognize possible threats it gets into either the “not a problem” or the “shoot it now” category.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. *Nod* In an oddly related way, one of my main problems dealing with people is I can’t sort out social aggression from asocial violence, and I always expect the second. And apparently I “read” wrong enough to most people to GET the second.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It seems to be that way with a lot of people I’ve dealt with, at least in reaction to animals. It’s never, “oh, wild animal, I’ll keep my distance and we won’t bother each other.” It’s always either “Oooo, so cute, I want to hug it!” or (often after the first) “It’s going to hurt me kill it!”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Just thought of another angle– the (trained) ability to understand ‘bothering’.

        For example, a rattlesnake on the only path of a hill is definitely bothering me, just by existing, if it’s the time when we’re moving cattle– as are most any possibly dangerous animals in “my” area.

        Similarly, some of our neighbors are upset that we do not “respect” them correctly, which would boil down to reindeer games. (Among them, learning Spanish. Uh, no.)

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Indeed. Subcategory of same: “Don’t bother me, I’m working. Yes, writing on the computer constitutes working. No, I can’t be interrupted for ‘just a few minutes’ – that blows my entire flow of thought I spent the last hour constructing – how many times do I have to tell you this?

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Its also important to have the “Mages” of all types to form a consensus on what constitutes “good behavior”, and a willingness to self-police their community. Because the State can not, at this time. This was something of a theme in “To Ride Pegasus”, “Pegasus in Flight”- because non-Talented were ill-suited to deal with Talented lawbreakers, or Talented caught up as victims in schemes to exploit powers.

    I don’t know expect it fits the scope of this story and possible sequels, but the solution in McCafferey’s books was the formation of a formal “Trade Union” organization that regulated and advocated for Talents, giving a central formal body for GOs and NGOs to interact with.

    Also, fear is understandable, even justifiable, in some cases, because society is okay with The State having a “monopoly on force”, in the sense of conventional weapons. Society is pretty confident that the State won’t start to capriciously engage in violence. The State has (as yet) no sanctioned users of magic to counteract those that now exist, and as yet, there is no way to take away, or block someone from making use of magic. So, this is inevitably going to engender fear in the populace. And backlash against those that become suspected of being magic users… SAOvivors and their relatives will do well to keep a low profile, and the Government needs to do all it can to control information. Unfortunately, things are bound to leak…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whose society is pretty confident that the State won’t capriciously engage in violence?

      There is a school of thought, or feeling, in American philosophy that expects that government will eventually capriciously engage in massive violence as long as it is cheap to do so. This is the school that tends to understand places like Chicago as being government using criminal proxies to terrorize a disarmed population. We saw a phenomena similar to that in the deep south during Jim Crow, where useful killers had their crimes concealed by officials who found the crimes politically expedient. In those cases where we can’t infer that the officials solicited the crimes for the sake of expedience.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Any power that can be abused eventually will be, yes. Which is why we have both a Second Amendment and checks and balances set into the government to keep powerful people at each others’ throats and off of messing with Joe Smith who just wants to live his life. Press pundits aside, Congress is supposed to be deadlocked most of the time. So we don’t have constant rules, regulations, and other hassles making so many things illegal only the upper incomes have enough money to pay lawyers to keep track of what’s legal today.

        …Where you run into problems is situations like, say, when over 70% of the American population wants border control and Congress has apparently checked out of paying attention.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Part of the problem (tho I acknowledge her skill at writing) is that McAffrey’s idea of what principles were right, and what the consequences of some of them might be, was flawed. Not as bad as Rowling’s “this story is supposed to be about love winning out, but looks more like promoting date rape drugs and other evils”. It’s all well and good to have the “principled people” win, but what those principles are, and how and why they win, are important too.

        Not that it’s uncommon, unfortunately, but too many modern stories with “the good guys win” seem to be doing it “because the author says they’re good guys, and the good guys are supposed to win”, despite the fact they’re “good guys” being based solely on the author’s claims.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, hey, fiction. McCafferey I think was always an author who had the principled people win out.

        Plenty of fiction with the other extreme.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I enjoy much of McCaffery’s works, don’t always agree with her plot choices but good yarns. After looking at her works, I can give a tentative diagnosis of her being atheistic.

        Support A is the fact that after 2000 years or so on Pern, no religion developed based on Thread and the dragonriders. Human history is a precedent that someone somewhere will at least invent a religion under less provocation then Thread presented. While I am personally religious, there is a reason for the saying that religion is the opiates of the masses. Also, time travel is her go to fix things, which annoys me somewhat, but then again, I shouldn’t get upset that she did her own time-travel fix-it fic.

        Still highly annoyed by some of the directions taken by Todd. First, between has no shape. As a kid, I assumed they were moving through the spaces between molecules. Second, Anne hinted at so many amazing abilities in Lessa in the first book (originally a short story about the Search which is probably why it’s the Pluto of that series) and never goes anywhere with them.

        …What was. I saying in the first place?

        Ah. Yes, enjoy McCaffery’s books. More likely to read Mercedes Lackey, both because I enjoy fantasy and Lackey’s characters tend to be pretty firmly either a good guy or a bad guy and also because her writing reflects the belief in a benevolent higher power. (And a genuinely malevolent opposing power.)

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Haven’t read any of the ones by Todd. While I enjoyed the original trilogy and the Dragonharper one, I kept running up against, “for stories about dragons, why don’t we get more time in the air?”

        …And then I found out McCaffrey originally wrote to get over a fear of flying. It… doesn’t work.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. My understanding is that ‘religion is the opiate of the masses’ comes from Karl Marx, who might be considered a trans-formative religious* figure himself. Modern socialism is quite a different animal from the socialism that predated Marx. If less heretical flavors of Christianity are opiates for the masses, Marxist socialism is the methamphetamine of vain intellectuals.

        *This wasn’t obvious to the John Birchers, and the rest of that cohort of anti-communists, because they came from a culture whose ideas about religion were shaped mainly by a heavy focus on Christianity. Those of us who have studied the issue, and came from American culture after the influence of the New Age movement have a different perspective.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. This is what I meant a few snippets back about Beniryuu winning even those the clearers beat him. There’s going to be people leaving because they’re afraid of their own government and they’re /not/ going to be happy about it.

    Hopefully nobody like the Animu’s/Vathara’s version of Kibao is going along otherwise Beniryuu might get exactly what he wants despite his plan getting cut off at the knees and the people who go to IRL Aincrad knowing what they’re getting into.

    …which means I really, really hope somebody tagged PoH and he’s either dead or locked up in some deep dark hole around the time they go.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Re-reading this I just had a horrible, terrible, probably perfectly in-character for the bastard thought.

      What if Beniryuu allowed (and perhaps under-the-table encouraged) the existence of groups like Laughing Coffin as a way of stacking the deck? As a way of having destabilizing elements in the pot in case something like what just happened, happened and he was beaten before the appointed day?

      Given the kind of shit attributed to Beniryuu, would it really be all that farfetched for him to have taken notice of various bad actors like PoH and kept tabs on them while also setting it up so that those who woke up before the appointed time were just enough /other/ that they’d almost /have/ to leave? And to pull those things together to pull victory from the jaws of defeat following Kirito and the other Clearers managing to beat him and clear the game early?

      Liked by 2 people

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