Chapter Twenty-Nine – Part One
I’m back, and it’s time to get straight into The Stone Key again, and see what’s going on with Domick, and to explore this Beforetime complex. Everything looks like we are on track for The Sending to start on the 10th of Feb!
Domick has woken up after the effects of the sleep potion have worn off, and now he and Elspeth talk for the first time. Though once again he reasserts that he is Mika, and now says that Domick was a ‘coward and a fool’. But Domick isn’t gone, and upon seeing Elspeth, he changes and becomes himself again. It is disturbing to see the change between Domick and Mika, and the fight for control of the body (a really strange phrase). It is really painful to know that Domick is still ‘inside himself’ but he has been pushed down, and Mika allowed to be in control. And Mika is a complex character, and has been taught by Ariel a lot of things.
Which makes me believe that Ariel knew there was at least a chance (if not certain) that Elspeth would get Domick/Mika at some point, and ask questions about himself. But if he knew that would happen, then he would know the plague failed. I think that this means that he saw two possibilities, that the plague would work, or Elspeth would save him, so he prepared for both. Or maybe he plague was really a secondary goal of Ariel’s and he just wanted to speak to Elspeth through Mika, without having to be there himself, and he is trying to ‘psyche’ Elspeth out, if he is the Destroyer.
I think that for Elspeth this is a harrowing experience, Domick is not the enemy, Ariel is. And she has to try and get Domick back in control of himself, but that means that there will be a struggle within him, causing him pain. Elspeth uses Kella to draw Domick out for long enough to ask about how Ariel captured them. Rushton and Domick were talking in Sutrium, and then all of a sudden men surrounded them and put demonbands on them, and then they were taken to Ariel. They were taken to Norseland on the Black Ship and to Ariel’s (and possibly Salamander’s) residence. This is big news since we had thought that Rushton was kept in the cloister in Sutrium, but now we know that he was taken to Norseland with Domick, but then why was he released?
Domick continues for a moment, trying to explain that Rushton fought Ariel and would not open up his mind to him, but he (Domick) was ‘weak’ and couldn’t resist Ariel’s torture. Again he is plagued with violent movements, I think a combination of the plague itself and the fight going on between Domick and Mika. A more disturbing revelation is that Ariel is an empath, but uses it in a twisted way to almost coerce people, which lead to him gaining control of Domick’s mind, by making have immense pain.
Then Mika returns, slightly annoyed that Elspeth gave Domick some power, but vowing to stop him gaining control again. Regardless of the change in personality, Elspeth continues the questioning, though the responses have to be taken with a grain of salt from Mika. He tells Elspeth that Rushton was ‘useless’ for Ariel, and ‘went mad’ trying to resist submitting to Ariel. That madness isn’t surprising since he was subject to the torture of Ariel, and explains Rushton’s behaviour since he was freed.
I have to say that Elspeth is a very reader of people and situations, even if she is obtuse with emotions, she knows how to work a situation to her advantage. And she plays to Mika’s ego telling him that he must be strong to have survived when Rushton and Domick did not, and that Ariel trusted him, and it is a good ploy. She says she is obeying her instincts, and they are on the money as they get him to talk. It seems that Ariel knew that Elspeth would be there when he was to attempt to disburse the plague, but still went along with the plan. He made sure that Mika knew not to harm Elspeth, because ‘Ariel needs her’, which is so creepy and disturbing. It gets worse as Mika tells Elspeth that Ariel basically knew exactly what she would say, and tells her that she is nothing more than a tool for Ariel, despite what she thinks and that she will pay for interfering with his plans. How she will pay, is in pain.
Elspeth lures out Domick again, and he seems stronger, but gives her a warning not to enter his mind since it is full of traps, which I think Elspeth was expecting, but hopefully this means she won’t attempt it as she was suggesting. And these traps are there for Elspeth to be dealt extreme pain, not death, because Ariel hates Elspeth more than anything (even more than Malik hates her, and that is intense). Again the news about Ariel is distressing, he is a futureteller who has more power than Dell and Maryon, and sees more than they do, but even he doesn’t see everything, like for instance, Domick being able to communicate to Elspeth without Mika. He elaborates on their capture, and explains that Rushton was trying to get him back to Obernewtyn, but he felt that what Mika had done made him tarnished with blood on his hands, and that Kella shouldn’t have to know what he had done.
We get more information about Ariel’s interrogation techniques, and it seems he has learnt from Alexi, and is using machines to produce mental torture. He himself is a weak coercer, so can’t do much damage himself, but his machines are strong, though Rushton was able to fight it. Ariel found Mika inside Domick, and gave Mika strength to control him. And the ways in which he did that are terrifying, he made Domick take pleasure in evil things, like an anti-empath. Now this isn’t surprising since it has long been said that he gained pleasure from the pain and suffering of others, but I guess it is because of his twisted ability. But it continues to get worse, now in control of Mika, Ariel used him to coerce Rushton, who couldn’t fight against a friend. Rushton continued to fight Ariel, using Elspeth as a source of strength, but couldn’t hold out forever. And everything makes sense about Rushton and his feelings towards Elspeth now since Ariel distorted all of Rushton’s memories about Elspeth to make him feel pain whenever he thought of her. All of this was apparently punishment for Rushton’s defiance, but I think Ariel would love turning him against Elspeth.
The evidence that Ariel is the Destroyer piles up when Domick asked him why he hated Elspeth, and it is revealed that Ariel dreamt that Elspeth would find something he desired, the weaponmachines. He tried to figure out a way so that he could find them, but it turned out that only Elspeth could, so he plans to let her do so, and then take it from her. A side note, Jak must have been far away because they haven’t arrived yet, and it’s been a while since Seely left.
Mika comes back, and again Elspeth plays to his ego with praise, and again he talks openly about how he was once locked up in a dark corner of Domick’s mind, but now Domick is trapped there. Elspeth changes her tack, and starts to present the idea that Ariel used Mika and only wanted him to come to Elspeth to tell her what Ariel had done to Rushton, which is probably true. Mika starts to get agitated, but Elspeth doesn’t relent and pushes Mika with the idea that Ariel is the enemy and that Ariel isn’t as infallible as he thinks. It is hard for Elspeth to be so cruel against Mika who is still apart of Domick, but she decides to go on. Elspeth tries to derail him by asking why Ariel would still infect him if he knew the plague would never spread, but as we know acting on futuretellings can drastically alter things, so he couldn’t change the plan, otherwise this encounter may never have happened.
Mika is weakened and again Domick returns this time reiterating the importance of Ariel’s desire for this Beforetime object, and Domick has figured out it is a weaponmachine. Mika returns for a moment and finishes with a tirade. He ends with a curious statement that Rushton is somehow still working for Ariel, is that true, or just another one of his lies? How could he be working for Ariel? Domick then becomes unconscious after another convulsion and Pavo knocks him out to prevent his heart racing any further.
Jak comes in and tries to assert that it was all just a symptom of the plague, and it was just delirious babble, but that isn’t the case. Domick is now contagious with the plague, and stage one is complete, he will only get worse from here. As of yet, they haven’t been able to identify the plague, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. Jak urges Elspeth to eat, rest and forget about Domick for the moment, and if she has a chance to explore this huge place. He suggests talking to Dell about how she started talking to the computers, which is an interesting revelation, since she is not a tecknoguilder, so how did she do it? And not only that, she communicated with the central computer, which controls all the other computers. Dell has taken the view that computers are a different type of living thing, whereas Jak believes them as things that aren’t alive. The computers in the complex are highly sophisticated, and have the ability to listen to human speech and speak in response to it. Jak continues to type commands, but Dell speaks to the machine, asking questions and seeking explanations.
It is Dell’s communication that has lead to the biggest discoveries and advances in life here, for she has gotten far more information from the computer by asking verbal questions, rather than using typed commands. Dell has even made the computer plant hay and wheat on one of the levels, to provide them with some staples. But the most interesting things, are what the computer does not explain, and what is on the levels they cannot access because they do not have the code works or commands to gain access. And Jak believes they won’t gain access since they can’t learn what these codes are, but Dell seems to think that given enough time conversing with the computer, they will be able to ‘convince’ it to open the levels up and reveal its secrets. But honestly, you can’t convince a computer to do anything, even a sophisticated one as this, it is dictated by logic and reasoning, and going against commands isn’t possible.
Jak seems to think it is possible that Dell will succeed as the main computer learns and integrates knowledge into its databanks. Dell imagines that once it is able to understand why it should open up its secrets to them, it will be able to. It is this sort of overriding, that conventional thinking about computing would say is impossible, but who knows. The main computer, at least according to Dell, has a name, which is INES, and this is shockingly a name Elspeth has heard before in a Beforetime dream. But it gets worse, in terms of the level of eeriness, when Elspeth hears Ines voice, and recognises it as the voice she hears in her recurring dream about dripping water and tunnels. Ines can listen to commands anywhere in the complex, and it will respond. Obviously technology is slightly more sophisticated than what we currently have, but I guess Ines is an advanced version of Siri or voice control. I think it is cool that you can just give commands and ask questions using your voice, but isn’t it slightly disconcerting that a computer is listening to everything you are saying, even when you aren’t giving commands to it, otherwise, how would it know you were talking to it. Even if it is waiting for its name, it must listen to everything, and take it all in, as part of its learning process. I find that a tad too creepy, especially if you think about ‘horror’ scenarios where the computer becomes corrupted and starts murdering people, you wouldn’t want a computer in control of everything, but that probably wouldn’t happen, right?
I guess it, as it always does, is how computers (and people) use information and knowledge. Things in good hands, can do good things, but the same thing in ‘bad’ hands, can do bad things. It is my concern that the computer would listen to your conversation and record them, use them against you or even ‘sell’ that information on to other parties, but maybe I’m being too paranoid. I would be reluctant to get this technology, how about you?