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About Edward Mansfield

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  1. He was quiet for a long moment, long enough that she didn't think he was going to answer her question, either way. But then he let out a small sigh, and she saw his shoulders slump slightly. "I am a stupid fool, still in mourning for people that have never truly existed." ,, Her brow furrowed slightly, confused by his round-about phrasing. "I do not know what you mean. Why would you mourn someone who does not exist?" ,, "Because I was fooled into believing they did." He continued to mash the berries together for the jam she was planning, focusing on them as he spoke. "DEHA had me hooked up to a machine that let them study me by observing my actions in a virtual mindscape. Do you know what that means?" ,, She shook her head briefly, and he continued. "What it means is that there was a machine that was feeding information to my brain, tricking me into believing the experiences it was creating in my mind were real. That included real people - a wife, and children. I've spent the last twenty years or so living a life - several lives, in fact - that don't actually exist, and loving people that were nothing more than figments of a computer programmer's imagination."
  2. Carver, it's totally fine if you want to leave Edward out, I know I hadn't posted for him. In truth I'm a little confused about what's going on, I apologize. If you want to include him go ahead, but I may need to talk to you a bit this weekend or Monday about what's going on if he's going to be involved. I don't quite get what's happening, I'm sorry.
  3. He had remained silent, listening to the others speak in order to quietly gauge their personalities. To figure out who might be helpful, who might be a liability, or who might just plain be in the way. It was good to know your allies, whether you liked them or not, and to get a feel for the ones that might defect to the enemy camp eventually. ,, "Well, we all seem to agree on that, anyway. Whatever we might believe of the human collective as a whole, we all seem to agree on a starting goal. DEHA must be eliminated, and anything you need my assistance for in that regard, David, I would be happy to provide." ,, He kept quiet, for now, on the rest of it - his opinions on humans, mutants, and their place on the social hierarchy. What had had observed, at least so far, was that David was full of anger and rage. And that was good.. that could be channeled. Hatred was a powerful motivator.
  4. Carv, I know I need to get posting in here, but I haven't abandoned this game. I am still interested, and Edward is more than willing to be a public face. I vote yes, and will try to get caught up and start posting.
  5. "That sounds delightful, thank you." He watched her quietly, finishing his cigarette as she completed her work with the leather. He put it out and tucked the crushed butt into the box, the same as he had yesterday. "Is there something I can do to assist you?" "Certainly. Let's see.. you could help cut up fruit and vegetables, maybe mash the fruit and berries together for the jam? Or I suppose if you'd prefer, you could cook the meat. I understand that is something men prefer to do now - the cooking of the meat?" She tilted her head, and he laughed, shaking his head. ,, "Not this man.. not for a long time. The servants did most of the cooking for us, or on the weekends, my w--" He stopped, the smile dying from his lips. She could see the flicker of pain as it crossed his gaze, before he pushed it away with a blink and a deep breath. When he spoke again, his voice was sharp and angry. "That sort of thing has been done for me, for quite awhile now. I wouldn't trust my skills. Best I stick to the fruit." He walked over to the wash basin, picking it up and tossing the dirty water out. He poured some of the fresh from the pitcher in, and methodically scrubbed away the smell of nicotine from his hands. Then he walked over and picked up a knife and began to peel, de-stem, and chop the fruit quietly. He was out of practice, but after a few tries it came back to him, and his cuts got a little more even than they had been to start. Within the span of a few moments, he had gone from a charming laugh and a warm smile to a dark, silent scowl.
  6. He cringed at the heat and the brightness, and held up a hand over his eyes. "What do you mean, that's the computer? Who's David - what's going on here?" ,, “David is an ally of ours”, answered Randall. “But that isn’t him.” For the first time, the asian man’s unflappable calm seemed a little… well, flapped. “It’s a simulation”, he said, “a part of the trap we’re helping you escape from. Not something I was expecting, either.” ,, Edward did his best to shake it off, but the sheer strangeness of the situation was overwhelming. He could no longer deny that something was going on, but for someone who was normally quick on his feet, Edward didn't have the damndest idea what to do. ,,
  7. Edward buttoned the last button on his shirt and rolled the shirt sleeves up to his elbows. It was the first time since arriving that he had woken up early - four-thirty a.m. on the dot, though there was no clock to confirm it. It was the first time he'd woken since being rescued and hadn't to shake off confusion regarding where he was or what was real. He knew his history now, knew when he'd been taken and how much of his life had been a lie. Reading through his file had laid the questions and uncertainties to rest - now all that was left was to regroup, and take action. ,, Of course, there wasn't much action to take at four forty-one in the morning, in the jungles of Guatemala. He doubted there was anyone else awake, and seemed to remember that breakfast had usually been brought to him a couple hours later than this, on the mornings he'd noticed it at all. So he'd gotten up, and taken advantage of the morning quiet to utilize the shared restrooms. He relieved himself, and allowed himself a full two minutes longer than the normally allotted seven-minute shower he usually took. The facilities were crude, but welcome. He'd toweled off, and used the full-length mirror they'd somehow acquired and a razor blade he'd found lying about to shave. Then he'd made his way back to his simple room, behind the privacy of his blanket-draped doorway, to dress. ,, He pulled on his shoes and headed out, through the hallway towards the temple's back entrance. He climbed out of the hole in the ground with a bemused smirk - he'd stayed in worse conditions, but never fully underground before, and it amused him a bit to realize there were still new experiences after over a hundred years of living. Once he was outdoors, in the dim light of the jungle dawn, he pulled out his pack of cigarettes and lit one. He had taken a drag or two of it before realizing that he heard something out of place. The jungle was full of strange sounds, especially in the still of the morning, but he was pretty sure that the soft sound of a woman singing wasn’t normally one of them. He made his way down along the wall of the temple, and then circled around towards Lamia’s hut. ,, The smell of baking bread and drying herbs greeted him the moment he rounded the corner of the temple, Lamia’s stone house coming into view across the cleared grounds immediately around the ancient building. She had a large hearth and gathering area with a stone tables and benches enough to seat as many as Edward had seen here and probably half a dozen more with ease. The woman herself was singing softly in a language Edward had never heard before as she went about her own morning routine: getting the fire started from the evening’s embers, starting the cooking for breakfast, checking on the drying herbs, the smoking meats, and the curing leather. Water had already been procured from the stream and set to heat in the stone cauldron, a light broth set to simmer for the afternoon meal. ,, She smiled as she lightly ran her hands over the buckskin leather she’d been carefully tanning over the past week and picked up a small stone jar, scooping out a handful of fat, spices, and other unknown but pungent ingredients. She began to methodically rub the into the leather, giving the buckskin a glossy shine and keeping it supple as it cured. There was a peaceful practiced rhythm to her movements, the song almost an afterthought to add melody to the beat of her actions. It was soothing to watch and Lamia was herself lost in the comforting repetition of a morning routine older than the stone of the temple Edward was standing next to. He stood and watched quietly for a moment as he smoked his cigarette. It was beautiful to him, her morning routine - he could feel the presence of time in it, like the peace one feels when traveling a well-worn road, or the feeling of sitting down with a cup of coffee and a newspaper every morning. Finally he moved closer, clearing his throat softly as he approached in order to get her attention. “Good morning, m’lady. What a delightful surprise - I didn’t expect to find anyone else up this early.” ,, She turned, still smiling, and nodded to him. “Well met this morning, Edward. I seem to usually be the first one to stir, or at least to I do not much see the others until breakfast is being served.” She motioned for him to join her in the gathering area, still methodically massaging the spiced fat into the leather, working her way from one corner to the opposite one. “Does something bring you out so early today?” ,, “This is my usual time to rise. In my virtual prison, and in my true life before that, I was a businessman. It has always been my practice to keep to a strict schedule whenever possible.. I’m not fond of wasted time. Waking up early allowed me to complete my morning duties early enough to...” To see the children off before work. He paused for a moment, as if he were about to say one thing, but then changed it to another. “...start my day off without rushing.” ,, She nodded, though her glance said that she’d caught the dissimulation, but she didn’t press the question. Edward was still mostly a stranger and it wasn’t Lamia’s way to pry. She had learned, over time, that most secrets came to light and that most people confided in the person who never asked the direct question. “I see. For myself, I find it comforting to see a true sunrise and hear the world waking. In my captivity they made a room with walls that appeared like woods or plains or sand and the ocean, and they made the sounds, but it was never the truth.” ,, She took a deep breath of the fresh jungle air and let it out slowly. “I enjoy the truth of these mornings.” ,, He nodded, with a sad smile. “My prison was too real - created by machines hooked in directly to my thoughts. I never knew it was fake until I was free of it. The truth is indeed a precious thing.” His eyes flickered over her space, as he took in everything she was occupied with. ,, “My father used to hunt, but the servants always took care of the details afterward. I’ve never seen anyone tan a hide before. May I?” He motioned to the jar, and she nodded slightly. He picked it up and sniffed it, his nose wrinkling slightly at the smell. “What's in it? How does it work?”
  8. "Naive, but understandably so, Lamia." He laid a hand idly over the one she'd looped through his arm. "How long, precisely, have you been held in captivity?" ,, "From the reign of Theodosius the Catholic until a handful of weeks ago," she answered, "a little over sixteen hundred years." He glanced at her then with a startled blink. Though her age did not surprise him - indeed, Edward could probably tell Lamia her age with more certainty than she could - the idea that she'd been held imprisoned for such a long time took him off guard. His hand squeezed hers gently, and he shook his head slightly in sadness and disbelief. "How very sorry I am that you've been detained for so very long, m'lady. Another wrong that can never be truly righted. But Anna's outlook is perhaps a result of more modern forms of warfare, in which civilian, and even military casualties are much less common. Assuming that the virtual world in which I was imprisoned for the last couple of decades was based loosely off of the actual world, the technological advances in warfare have done much to decrease the amount of actual death that results. During the Great War, the number of British soldiers alone that were killed in battle numbered somewhere around nine hundred thousand troops. During the recent Afghanistan and Iraqi war - assuming that all actually happened - the combined British and American casualty numbers were closer to a mere eight or nine thousand. During that time, overall world population has increased dramatically, which means that the ratio of reduced death is even steeper than it seems at first glance. That, and the rise of quicker and even real-time media coverage over the last hundred years has done much to change the face of war. It has exposed a population of civilian 'philosophers' to the ugliness of it, where in my youth there was often a 'gentleman's agreement' not to discuss the atrocities that one committed during battle. Now you can see a live stream of it. Currency and public opinion are the resources of modern warfare now, and the messiness is expected to be kept to a minimum." His lips twisted in sardonic amusement at that idea. He released Lamia's arm, and reached into his pocket, pulling out a package of cigarettes. David had been kind enough, after his release, to acquire for him a couple packs and a lighter. He had smoked as a (much) younger man, and it had been his wife's the machine's programming that had encouraged him to give up the habit. After awakening to an entirely different reality, he had felt again the long-abandoned comfort offered from nicotine, and his host and rescuer had been willing to indulge him. "I hope you ladies don't mind," he said, even as he pulled one out and lit it. "Anyway, on the flip side of that explanation, Anna, Lamia is entirely correct. War has apparently changed very little, in the important ways, over sixteen-hundred years. No matter how many or few the deaths, the first to die - and the inevitable - are always the innocents. There's no way around it. It is young men who sign up for battle, full of patriotism and foolishness, and who are the first to die, along with innocence. I remember the moment mine slipped away, in a ditch somewhere in Belgium as I lay amongst my dead and dying comrades and fumbled for a grenade, so that if I were to die, I would be taking those German sons of bitches with me. Most likely, they were thinking the same of us. Civilian deaths, too, are inevitable, no matter how hard one might try to avoid them. Attempts to change the status quo have almost always happened at the business end of a sword or firearm, and casualties are inescapable. The best one can hope for is to use a combination of political and business acumen and strategic knowledge to bring the conflict to as swift of a resolution as possible." He finished the last drag of the cigarette then, and had the civility to put it out on the bottom of his shoe. He slipped the butt back into the box for now instead of tossing it on the ground, and then tucked it back into his pocket. "A degree of ruthlessness often helps. I've never seen a war end as swiftly as the day the Americans dropped a nuclear bomb on Japan, and then did it again with they hesitated too long with their surrender. Damned efficient, if perhaps a bit overzealous. Then again, that was the Americans for you.. back then, anyway."
  9. Edward looked up at the other man, and nodded. He had relinquished the computer to another, and found a place to sit and think for awhile, in contemplative silence. The strange new man's hands on his shoulders had pulled him out of that brooding reverie, and he drew in a deep breath and did his best to put on his conversational face. It wasn't quite as good as he usually managed, which was on a normal day poker-champion worthy - but the anger and heartbreak he had displayed moments ago had been firmly reigned in, and showed now only in trace whispers in his gaze, and the slight frown lines around his eyes and mouth. ,, "Thank you. It would seem I'm not the only one around here who's had it rough." He motioned briefly towards the others, in various states of distress or emotional contemplation. "I'm sorry, I haven't met many people around here. That's my fault, I've been a bit of a recluse since arriving. You are..." ,, "Matt. Matt McShae. It's good to finally meet you, Edward." Matt let go of the other man's shoulders, and held out a hand. Edward shook it politely, his grip firm and business-like. ,, "You as well, Matt. Though you seem to know more about me than I do about you." His tone was polite, but Matt could sense the inquiry in the statement, the desire to know just how much the other mutant knew about him. ,, "I hope you don't mind too much that I've read your file. David is pretty quiet about personal information with the others, but I help with planning the rescues." ,, "Well then, I owe you my gratitude, Mr. McShae. The world they had me trapped in may have been a pleasant prison, but it was one, nonetheless." He stood up, and took another look around at some of the others. "Everyone here was rescued, like I was?" ,, "Please, just Matt. And yes, most of them." He motioned to Jaunt and Idris as they were engaged in their debate. "That is Jaunt, and Idris. We found them in Rio. The others were being held captive, but in a more conventional manner." ,, Edward nodded again as he studied each one for a moment, absorbing what he could about them before moving on. For a moment, he looked as if he were going to speak again, but then his eyes came to rest on the area where Lamia and Grav stood together.. and stopped. He blinked slightly, as if something he saw had surprised him, and his brow furrowed slightly in concentration. Then he drew in a deep breath, and straightened. "If you will excuse me, Matt?" ,, Matt nodded, but noted with a hint of amusement that Edward hadn't glanced at him for a response, or even waited for it, before walking away. He crossed the distance between the tables where he had been sitting, and the wall of the temple. Both women noticed the approach of the dignified and handsome new mutant, but as he drew nearer it became obvious that his focus was primarily for Lamia. ,, "I hope you ladies will pardon me for the interruption." Edward smiled at them both politely, but it the darker-skinned woman who held his attention. "I felt I should introduce myself. My name is Edward Mansfield." He held out a hand to Lamia, palm-up. She placed her hand in his, and he lifted it, brushing his lips briefly across her knuckles in an almost reverent manner before releasing it. ,, She nodded at the gesture politely. She had been watching the bickering with a mother's patient weariness, but now brought her attention to the man standing in front of her instead. "I am called Lamia." ,, "Yes, so it says in my file." He smiled warmly at her, and though his voice was both confident and assured, it also radiated a respect - almost a reverence - that no one else had spoken to her with in a very, very long time. "It is a great honor to meet you." ,, There was a beat of silence, as her grey eyes studied him intently. "I am in your file. Are you some close progeny, or are you the father of some of my children?" ,, "We share both children and grandchildren, Lady Lamia." There was a brief, awkward pause between them, and she blinked slightly as he cleared his throat. She didn't understand the honorific, which was obvious, and the shock of encountering someone like Lamia had rattled him into using it. "Sorry.. old habits." ,, "I am well acquainted with them." She smiled slightly, then motioned toward the recent argument. "And what of you, Edward? Will you allow your kin to anguish in slavery because their rescue might endanger your own freedom?" ,, His eyes narrowed slightly, and she could see a flash of cold anger in them before his expression smoothed into something calmer, and his lips curved in a small, genial smile. ,, "I will not, m'lady. I will do everything within my power to rescue my children, and their children, and their children, if they exist. And then those who imprisoned and harmed us will be made to pay.. no matter how long it takes."
  10. After a little discussion, Idris and I have integrated some interaction in my previous post. Feel free to re-read, if you had already read it.
  11. Access was limited, so Edward waited his turn. He hadn't had a chance to get to know anyone yet, other than Dog, and Tengri, whose inhuman appearance in the real world had come as quite the surprise, as had the reality he'd found himself in outside of the simulation. The jungles of Guatemala were a far cry from the luxurious life he'd lived - or thought he'd lived, anyway. No one except his rescuers and David had really met Edward yet, though they'd seen him a few times when he'd emerged for food, or the facilities - he'd spent the last few days mostly in his room, stretched out on a raised stone platform bed covered in a simple mat and blankets, trying to sort through his memories. He had no idea what was real, and what wasn't. Now that he was out of the simulator, he remembered more conflicting things from his life/lives, things that had been different from one simulation to the next, although the memories of the last one seemed to be the strongest and most cohesive. He wasn't even sure when the real world had stopped, and the virtual world had begun. He had been shown to storage areas by David, where he'd chosen some clothes. Even in the jungle heat, he wore a pair of slacks and button-down shirt, though he'd passed on a tie, and had chosen lighter colors and more natural materials. Right now he was wearing a pair of grey linen dress slacks and a white dress shirt, with the top couple buttons undone, and the sleeves were rolled up to his elbows. He remembered - Hah! - visiting tropical climates on business before, and was used to the heat. Besides, clothing himself as a businessman - admittedly one thrust into the middle of a tropical environment - was the last vestige of his former life, and he wasn't willing to give it up for comfort. Everything about his new life was uncomfortable, wearing clothes that kept him feeling like himself was his only real consolation so far. Edward watching as the odd, feline/human hybrid-looking mutant stood up and walked away from the computer, looking upset. He could feel dread settling into a ball in his gut, and tightening his throat, but Edward wasn't one to shy away from the truth. Several times over the past week the thought that he would have been better off if he'd refused the two mutants who'd come to rescue him, and just kept living in his virtual bubble. But he'd repeatedly shoved that idea out of his mind - it might have been easier, but it definitely wouldn't have been better. He walked over to the laptop Idris had left running, and leaned over it. Without reading any of the text on the screen, he closed out the other mutant's files, and ejected the thumb drive from the computer. He walked over, knelt down in front of her, and after regarding her for a moment, pressed the thumb drive into her hand as he spoke. His voice was smooth and masculine, with a British accent. "Whatever they've done to us.. they will pay for it, I guarantee." Idris looked at the drive. She needed it now. That was her only connection to her only son. "I know. And they.... they will." She curled up tighter, unsure how genuine she sounded. Edward nodded slightly, and squeezed the mutant woman's shoulder gently. Then the devastatingly handsome man stood up and walked over to the man who was handing out the thumb drives. He handed Edward one, and he took it and sat down at the laptop Idris had abandoned. He plugged the drive into the USB port, opening up his own file after a moment's hesitation, and began to read. He read silently, other than the occasional deep, indrawn breath. His fingers drummed firmly on the claw-marked table, the only interruption of the drumming an occasional clenched fist. He did his best to conceal the pain that reading through the files was inflicting on him, but the very emotionally astute would still be able to pick it out of his expression and body language. She never ever existed. All those years thinking I had finally found a woman who I loved enough to risk it, and she was just a figment of a computer program. And these kids.. they look like my kids. That one has Selena's eyes, and this one looks like almost exactly like Trevor, except his skin is a little darker, and his hair is different.. and this one doesn't look anything like me, but she looks just like Mother, and these two twins look so much like me, it's like they're my brothers instead of my children, except they've got Father's eyes... Edward forced himself to read through the entire file. The children he'd sired without knowing it, the ones that had died, the ones that had lived, the ones that had been bred and had children of their own. Some of them had been the age of his children - his nonexistent children that his heart still ached for every minute of every day - when they'd been forced to have their own children. When he got to the part detailing his public presence, and the fact that he had been replaced with a duplicate to carry on his charities and businesses as a source of secret government funding for DEHA, he snapped, and slammed his fist down angrily on the desk, clenching his jaw firmly. Finally, he closed the file, and ejected the flash drive. He slipped it into his pocket, and closed the laptop. But he didn't stand up right away, instead he bent his head down and buried his hands in his hair, his elbows on the table, his fingers pressing painfully into his scalp in an unconscious effort to mimic the emotional pain he was feeling, or perhaps to distract himself from it.
  12. Jordan, I've held off in posting in Extraction, because Dog is supposed to provide the distraction in Extraction. So I kind of assumed you'd be taking the first post there, but if you need something from me please let me know. I'd like to get Edward out of the Matrix so he can move on to real-world postage.
  13. Carver, I assume that Interlude is going to be after Extraction is complete? Also, thanks for the post in Extraction, hopefully that'll get things moving in there, I wasn't sure where to go.
  14. I have a half-complete post for Edward that I fell asleep on last night, I'll get that up later in the day. Maybe between Jordan, Dawn and I we can have that thread to the point of action when Cent gets back.
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