Sep 29, 2022 4:40 AM
the tyrant in Auradon
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Uma finds this an acceptable form of sucking up. 

Shortly, the messager returns with the information that the other two chosen were Wei Wuxian son of Cangse Sanren and Bern son of Egen.

"They're not children of name villains," Uma comments. 

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Saying "called it" would be being rude to her boss. "No..." 

... "Bern makes sense." Wei Wuxian... does not.

Well. This is going to be fun. "So, first priority for the ten minutes I'm going to be out, magic shit that can blow a hole in the dome, second priority any nonmagic way to do it, third priority, better books on how to build shit so we can work out our own way?" Fourth priority would be better books on how to build and fix boats, most likely.

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"Probably books first? It's harder to take away knowledge, even with magic."

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She nods respectfully. "Sounds good to me, boss." It is also, unsurprisingly, exactly what she wants to do, for exactly that reason. But it rather suggests a slower solution, one that is very unlikely they'll have the time for with one of the local lunatics around to show whatever ivory-tower idiot made this decision (King Ben?) exactly who you can be on the Isle of the Lost if you really put your mind to it.

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"Tetley is useless, but Bern might be a good gang member. --Do you think you'll be able to get Wei Wuxian under control?"

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"Can't win a fight with him, can't call in backup - depends on Bern and on how crazy he is and if I can get any help from the blue-gold-bastards they don't want to give him. But I'm guessing no. Still going to try."

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"Every lunatic has a lever you can use to control them," Uma says, glancing at Harry, "you just have to figure out what it is. --Jiang Yanli can control Wei Wuxian, at least sometimes. Maybe he wants soup?"

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Jiang Yanli helped raise him and Jiang Cheng both. Whatever her advantage is will not be easy to replicate.

"Worth a try." She will attempt to use her posture to suggest that she also wants more ideas if they can be provided. She's not a gang leader, not in the Isle she's not.

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Uma attempts to transfer all her knowledge of controlling lunatics.

The secret is to get them dependent on your approval. Once they're dependent, you can provide swift and certain punishment for misbehavior and intermittent reinforcement for good behavior, always leaving them craving more approval than you will give them. Also, if they have any little hobbies like rape or torture, make sure you give them adequate scope for their impulses in ways that don't hurt you. The "get them dependent on your approval" step is of course the most difficult; Uma is acutely aware of how much of her position is secured less by her own decisions and more by Harry's past whims.

Uma is also, clearly, achingly jealous. Her mother's name has done nothing for her, less than Gaston's for Gil, and she resents it. Her mother humiliates her in front of her gang. She waits tables as if she didn't earn as much through protection money as her mother did through the restaurant. Maleficent and Grimhilde trained their daughters to leave the Isle and take over the world, and everything Uma knows she taught herself. And now she's not going to leave the Isle because of her mother's name. She is helping Alida, but she hates her.

Uma daughter of Gustav wouldn't have a gang, any more than Alida daughter of Gustav does. Uma waits tables because she is far more frightening living with her mother than she would be if she didn't. This is not the sort of thing that would ever occur to Uma, when she's thinking about how mistreated she is. 

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Alida knows that Uma is jealous, considers it completely reasonable for Uma to be jealous, and wants to cooperate peacefully with Uma, who she respects, anyway! She considers Uma to be a valuable team member and will get Uma off if she gets the chance, because clearly this is what you do for your gang members; she will get everyone off the island if she can if only so the blue-gold-bastards have more people to chase, but her gang is the people who matters. Uma has half of what Alida wanted; now the dice have rolled differently and Alida has half of what Uma wanted, and the important thing is to be able to work together however the dice roll.

(Alida's plan for 'how to work with lunatics', in the event she got her own gang, was 'don't; instead, pick people who are not lunatics and work with them.' But Uma was the one who gave her a chance to be something other than a flunky, and so however Uma feels about her, Alida owes her, and that is not the sort of thing that an Alida-shaped-thing will just forget. That Uma did not earn all her power is irrelevant, compared to the fact that, when she had power, she shared it with Alida.)

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Silently and without discussion, Uma ensures that Alida gets the best food tonight. 

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Alida will put that on the long list of things to be grateful for Uma for, which list she will eventually repay.

(Because this is how interacting with sane people works; you make helping you be in their self-interest and they do it, and that is the power that makes organizations not made of lunatics or 'heroes' work.)

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The next afternoon--

Tetley is going to Auradon, which is really exciting! She hears that they have bright colors in Auradon, and music, and food just grows out of the ground. She has also heard that in Auradon people don't hit each other because that's evil, and she's very skeptical of this, but at the very least she's probably going to be hit less!

Everything is great for Tetley.  

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Wei Wuxian is going to Auradon, which is also very exciting! Yanli told him to study hard and not murder anyone and make sure that they wanted to get all the other kids off the Isle, and Jiang Cheng told him to break the barrier and free everyone, and Wei Wuxian is pretty sure he is going to accomplish at least one of these. He is full of Yanli's soup and Jiang Cheng gave him his favorite knife and he's got all of his notes in his backpack. 

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Bern is going to Auradon, which will be terrible. He does not know if it will be more terrible than the alternative, but it probably will, because that's how life goes. He has nobody he cares about and all the stories about Auradon are probably lies and maybe they're just going to stab him as soon as he gets there, he doesn't know, he doesn't care, whatever it is will be horrible. Probably WORSE than what he expects because MOST THINGS ARE WORSE THAN HE EXPECTS.

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And Alida is here, ready to go to Auradon, full of advice and plans and calmly confident and with her armor packed in a backpack instead of worn, because openly wearing armor when you don't have a particular reason to start a fight would be a show of weakness. She's memorized what's in the books she can find and she's listened to Uma's advice and she is going to get her gang out and the only question is which way she's going to do it.

... There seem to be three kids here. Indeed, the other three summoned.

"Wei Wuxian. Bern. Tetley." A sharp nod. "If we screw this up we get shipped back to the island forever and nobody else gets out, ever."

She grins an evil grin. "No pressure."

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Bern does not SEE any boats. How, exactly, are they going to leave the island?

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"It's okay! I'm going to be happy however little time I spend in Auradon. It's cool to see somewhere that isn't the Isle," Tetley chirps, apparently unironically. 

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"There's no one I'd rather go on an adventure with than you, I like my girls beautiful and competent and with the glint of murder in their eyes," Wei Wuxian says to Alina. 

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... How are you supposed to react to something like that?

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"My usual tastes are for reliable discipline, focused intent, and ruthless efficiency, myself. So, Wei Wuxian..."

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Oh seriously no are they flirting why can't he get through ONE DAY without powerful people exchanging threats and/or flirtations insofar as you can TELL THE DIFFERENCE in his vicinity -

 

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"I can get you focused intent! Sometimes! If the problem is interesting and not stupid."

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And now a limo appears in the distance that seems to be flying through the air.

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"So I just need to provide you with interesting problems?" Tone light and bantering. "Well, here's one: How do you think they're doing that?"

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