Reviews for We're All Mad Here
Alexeij chapter 14 . 12/15/2019
Ha, lovely. Despite the deluge of events - or maybe due to it - the chapter felt a little less focused, and could have perhaps benefited from being split into two, but it was still a treat to read.

We really delved into Cross's character here, and in facets that I'd have never associated with her before. Double points for organically meshing the various aspects of character exploration into one general direction - motherhood, or at least a soldier's close approximation. If anything, the shocking (in a heart-warmingly way) behaviour in Little Lamplight runs the risk of obscuring the more subtle ways Cross's attitude towards Amari shifts throughout the chapter - the concern, the good humor and protectiveness, and blunt life advice that Amari could really use, but that I reckon she'll interpret and make hers in the worst possible ways. Stupendous character work. Now let me borrow some of it for Spark :P

Little Lamplight was just precious, although far less "bucolic" than the game portrayed. MacCready's initial spiel paints a quite dreadful picture of the troubles and concerns of a group without any forms of higher education or any adults to give them the talk. It's also clear that, without the kindness of well-meaning outsiders (if with their own purposes), they wouldn't have last this long. Being so close to Raven Rock also makes me wonder if the Enclave would one day consider "uplifting" those poor kids by force. Or if the Brotherhood Amari's comments foreshadow will.

How many ripples would a single bullet have caused, I wonder, for this whole universe? Indeed, a crossroads of fates. Should Cross have shot, anyway? Food for thought, though the character work in this chapter makes her reasons for not to clear. On an unrelated note, I wonder if the six Enclave soldiers were out training for a certain mission.

Next chapter, we descend into the madness. That's going to be a trip.

Sincerely,
Alexeij
Alexeij chapter 13 . 12/15/2019
It's funny, in a way: I remember reading through the first half of this chapter at the beginning of this year, and struggling mightily. Now, I've breezed through it. Shows the difference a year can make.

Show Don't Tell is a great rule, but also a problematic and inherently contraddictory one. Depending on its definition, it discriminates implicitly or explicitly against Telling, but I think there it misses the point. Ultimately, it's not about details or body language, it's about controlling the reader's immersion into the setting and the characters, and my was this a nice example of that.

You paint the Brotherhood in wide, polychromatic brushes, and then take the time to detail this bit or that. Abbott, the scribe, Cross, young Arthur - they are all distinct, humane characters, but they also provide some insight into their faction through their attitude and how said faction reflects on their identity and their behaviour. Cross brusquely emerges from the shadow of the man that recently preceded her, all the more distinct for the subtle comparison with Richard, and all the more likely to make Amari miss the Courser dearly. On the other hand, Arthur's childish enthusiasm and his ambivalent sense of duty casts a long, long shadow itself, and yet makes one wistful thinking "what could have been".

There are inklings here of the Amari we'll find much later on in Boston - the numbing of emotions attached to old memories, the coursing along, the skittish paranoia, not yet tempered but an outward coldness and a brutal addiciton - but here after a long while, she has a few moments in the light. How long has it been since she genuinely wanted to laugh, if at the expense of a child forced to grow ahead of time? How long until she will again, if ever?

Richard's schizophrenic exploration of his humanity was fascinating. He's a literal loose grenade, bound to explode at the slightest stimulation, tempered by a quasi-sociopathic (or mechanic) examination of his emotions. He's unpredictable, even to himself, and yet there's a coherence inherent to his actions. The final reasoning steering him back towards Amari may be a little forced, if you squint, but that's alright, and the insider's irony there at the end ends the chapter on a high note.

/endgushing. Sincerely,
Alexeij
onegiantdinosaur chapter 16 . 12/9/2019
Good chapter. I was excited to see the update. I still enjoy your take on Braun’s simulation and how different it is from other tellings. I’m excited also to see where Amari goes from here.
Von Remington chapter 16 . 11/24/2019
Goodness that's a lot of realism and disappointment in one chapter. ( not my disappointment, the character's)
DocMarten2525 chapter 3 . 11/23/2019
Oh, this is good.
Guest chapter 2 . 6/15/2019
Good
onegiantdinosaur chapter 15 . 6/15/2019
This is a good take on Vault 112, a unique one and more interesting than the situation in-game. There's an extra sense of urgency and angst here, and I love it. Good chapter, as always. :)
onegiantdinosaur chapter 14 . 3/5/2019
A great read, as always. I'm enjoying watching you weave the bits and pieces of your stories together here, and I'm excited to see where it all leads.
Von Remington chapter 14 . 2/27/2019
You really do capture something here. Some of the feeling that the game should have, and maybe has in bits.
And I really like what you've done with cross
Alexeij chapter 12 . 2/27/2019
Ho boyo, way for Three Dog to steal the scene there at the end, cranking up that "exploiting bastard" lever to levels that somehow make the canon, flat-out blackmailing of canon look tame and in good faith. And I had such high hopes for him after that rousing broadcast.

But let's proceed in good order (spoiler alert: I won't). Future Star Paladin Penny(hence shortened to FSP Redding) reminds me a lot of many a Lone Wanderer I've read of across various Fallout fanfics. Allowing for parallelisms, she's an idealist BoS recruit with a troubled past, more than decent skills, condescending in a well-meaning way, and now she even has a fridged love interest. Scratch Lone Wanderer, she could probably fill in for many a Sole Survivor, but put in the context of the Brotherhood and the wasteland, it works. Sounds like the beginning of a self-made-woman story. Very Amurican.

FSP Penny's also right about Amari and her priorities, or at least on the right track. Survival is Amari's highest criteria, or at least it ranks higher than it does for FSP Penny, and that's showcased in a beautiful way when Amari keep the tapping going on through the madness and hallucinations and physical exhaustion, while Penny succumbs faster to Despair. I wonder what FSP Penny was seeing, once her stubborn hope for Oscar's survival shattered down there.

It's also bittersweet to see Amari try and show FSP Penny she's wrong by trying to be selfless in a mixed-bag sort of way that swings from genuine to affected across the scene, with the former peak being when she tries to remind the rescuers.

Amari's "cruise-passenger" mode started strong in this chapter, as sort of expected from her character in an action/threat heavy environment and without Richard to provide the muscle. Ironically, it's when the freedom of movement is taken away from her, literally, that she finds some agency back. I'd pinpoint the moment to when FSP Penny starts losing her cool, with the peak when FSP Penny has completely given up. Again, Amari's motivation may be (mostly) selfish, but I like to think that she puts on her big girl undies easier when there's someone she feels is depending on her. If it's so, it's some nice foreshadowing for when she'll get back to the Vault.

Proceeding with an order is shot. Speaking of missed shot's, that Fatman's so frustrating in the game, has some pretty dire consequences here. The detail and images showing Amari's spiraling down and stubborn lapses was so suggestive and kinda endearing in a lonely way, like when she says the darkness is her friend and keeps hold on her favorite rock to the point of harming herself.

And now we loop all the way around to Three Dog again. As the stakes on the CW are higher than in canon, it's logical that the two-legged propaganda machine has upped the stakes as well. I bet he'd give some Enclave mooks a run for their money, and then some.

Sincerely,

Alexeij
blueandie chapter 12 . 12/15/2018
I’m pretty certain this chapter has my favourite title so far, and I loved how that tied into the next part of Amari’s journey with her being left without Richard or Deacon. Liked this line -
“Without Richard's prowess to balance out her utter lack of skill, she was a net liability, and everybody knew it.”

[Far from the majestic creatures of myth, these were horrid, bulbous chimeras, made so much the worse by the vaguely man-like faces nestled among the tentacles and splayed-out limbs. Had they really been human once?]

I really like how you give these initial impressions of a new place, tying in more of the Fallout universe into the setting and gosh, the introduction of the referenced centaurs (as part of this universe) was unexpected as well as incredible. The above description was amazing and I loved Amari’s reaction to them, also really liking this part – “she didn't even like to think of the process that would turn a person into a misshapen monster like one of these.” This added to the impression I have of Amari, with her kneeling beside them and imagining that at the very least their suffering would have ended in death.

The discussion with Penny was well done, and I couldn’t help smiling when she kept going (I quite like Penny) in answering Amari’s question. She had some good points though, especially in pointing out that Amari was “terrified of your own weapon and it shows." Amari’s response of “We've established that I'm terrible, Penny” was also well done. The qualifications for a scribe were entertaining, especially the mention of Amari being clean and I really enjoyed Penny’s reaction to the “doubts” questions. It was a good reminder as to how sheltered Amari has been, and the naivety of others having choices in where they end up - that sometimes an uncomfortable option for one can be a live-saving opportunity for another person.

[Like a drowning swimmer, she'd taken every opportunity to save herself; this had been a natural thing to do, but she couldn't shake the feeling that she'd climbed to safety at Moira's expense.]

Ooof, I’m pretty certain this was my line of the chapter. I loved the imagery here, the benefit of hindsight in appreciating Moira and the realisation that she had done things to save herself in the past whether or not that had been apparent at the time. Really nice use of the drowning analogy as well. Her life experiences are shining a new light on those initial memories in Megaton and I like how you’re showing Amari’s learning curve on what this life is really like for those that have always lived it.

Brilliant escalation of action. Enjoyed this bit – “She'd never had the perspective to study mutants without the blurred perception of terror, and was interested to note that they were organized, strategic creatures”, particularly the use of “the blurred perception of terror”.

[Stooped and lumpy, it wore no clothes, no real armor, but only scrap tied to its back and chest. Its weapon was a crude club fashioned from a light pole, cement and asphalt still clinging to its base.]

The introduction of the behemoth was excellent, loved this description, as well as the “the knotted veins under its yellowish skin”. The scene in the tower was tense, and you captured the confusion and Amari’s struggle to get away really well. Liked the use of “an ominous whistling sound preceded a shattering explosion which brought the whole world down” and “Then came real, desperate terror” when she started to realise where she was.

[Tumbling out of a troubling dream, Amari awoke to confusion, cold, and pain.]

The trapped scene was brilliantly done. The use of two people who can’t see each other, with limited resources and a small chance of being found was paced perfectly. I really liked Amari’s reaction to realising it was Penny there – “Relief made her giddy. It also made her feel lazy” with her no longer feeling like she would need to be in charge of the situation.

[The longer she was submerged in it, the more Amari believed that the darkness pressing in on her, seeping into her eyes, ears, and mouth, was alive - more alive, even, than the woman lying a few feet away. Thirst, pain, and discomfort threatened to drive her mad, but the darkness was a constant companion, a friend that would stay with her to the end.]

The slow degrade in camaraderie was realistic with both of them getting increasingly weak and frustrated by their situation. Some fantastic descriptions throughout this scene – my absolute favourite being the passage above, with the personification of the darkness and feeling more attached to it than Penny.

Also enjoyed “Penny sounded like a dull, lifeless version of herself”. For her part, Penny was such a brilliant contrast to the enthusiastic person we have previously seen. There was a wonderful mirrored effect with the conversation at the beginning of this chapter and these followed-up conclusions as they spent time stuck a few metres from each other. The absolute standout for me was her "You can't even tell us apart?" and telling Amari that this is “all a probability game for you”. Good touch having Penny be the one to refuse to work any longer first, and to succumb to frustrated complaining at the noise. There was a brilliant sense of horror in the line about the complaining stopping, and then tying that back into Amari’s repeated efforts.

I remember this scene! The range of motion and clutching the rock painted a distressing portrait. I still really enjoy this line – “Every new tap on the pipe sent an electric trickle of pain through the bones and up the nerves into her pinned shoulder”. You really nailed the feeling of being completely trapped and hopeless in this scene and the use of a repeated motion making her slowly crazy was well written. [She couldn't do any more.] – there was a great finality of this line at the end of this part of the scene, a real sense of hopelessness - that they may not get out and whether, if they did, they both would. Liked the description of her tongue being like jerky and the lack of memory regarding drinking the last of her water.

[Really, though, she thought it was just a last gasp of lingering survivor's guilt. People died out here. That was just a fact of life.]

This was a great bit and I liked the matter-of-fact response from Penny - "You didn't really know him. But yeah. He was" when Amari said Oscar had been a good man – good choice keeping that relationship open-ended. It was hard to judge how Penny now views Amari.

And Three Dog! I remember this scene too. The "Hello, Mr… er, Dog" was gold – classic Amari. He was an interesting character – liked that he wasn’t openly surprised by her admission – and this was a fantastic portrayal of how propaganda works. Both of them were outstanding in this and I think this was one of the strongest exchanges of dialogue in the story. I reread it a few times and continued to just be stunned both how strong Amari was and how fascinating Three Dog’s response to her reaction was.

I loved all of this from Amari – “I'm going to be selfish, safe, and happy, do you understand? Pick. Someone. Else.", her listing all the thing she could do to ruin her reputation and “You've painted a target on my back”. The way Three Dog reads her, knowing she is bluffing was well done.

["If I die because of something you say over the radio, will you feel bad? Say a nice eulogy for me over the airwaves?"

His reply chilled her, cutting off everything else she had wanted to say.

"Already got it written."]

What a phenomenal ending. The ruthlessness, realism and brilliance of this was just so so good. I adored the themes of propaganda here – the use of puppets and fall-guys where faces of a cause can be reluctant and vulnerable, but it doesn’t matter - who the public roots for is not the one pulling the strings at all, they are being used as a symbol to allow others to benefit without any risk. And of course, the death can still be utilised and even ascend the cause. Your dialogue at the end - so simple but chilling and very effective. Brilliant chapter!
Alexeij chapter 11 . 12/14/2018
It's good to get back to this story.

Amari's hesitancy is accepting Deacon's "tall tales" about humanoid robots is very understandable when examined in context, and her hesitance, even her embarrassment at trying to not harm Deacon's feelings when she believes he's bonkers, are somewhat endearing. She's a rational woman, or at least a woman of science to an extent, and it's good to see that she can link the dots together and accept the evidence she's eventually presented, however.

Deacon's reaction to Moira's humor was oh so precious.

Nice little bits of worldbuilding with Pinkerton's mind-jobs being somewhat second-hand due to limited personnel and means, and with the Railroad keeping the BoS appraised of some of their activities. I don't believe F4 actually explains how Maxson and the BoS linked the energy readings with the Institute, but here is the simple explanation: the Railroad tells the BoS enough that either doesn't step on the feet of the other.

And there we see Amari first getting acquainted with Synth tech and memory tech. Nice little bit of foreshadowing.

Oh look, more moral quandaries! It's honestly a bit troubling how easily Amari gives consent for Richard when it comes to the initial sedation and surgery, despite her conflict and hesitancy when it comes to ordering him around. It's framed further by how everyone has this big talk and takes bigger risks to give Richard the right to consent to a personality override, but Zimmer's death kinda shows that they may have taken the whole "give Richard a soul, self-awareness, and freedom of choice without any real preparation" a bit lightly. It's clear when Richard wakes up that the new development confuses him greatly - maybe even scares him a bit - but everyone is just too terrified - and in Amari's case, a bit guilty - to try to stop him and give him some frame of reference, or just walk him through the tutorial to personal freedom.

Kinda reminds me of a potential John, should he have woken up in the middle of the desert with no Doc Mitchell and Goodsprings. And who knows where Richard has got himself to.

Sincerely,
Alexeij
blueandie chapter 11 . 12/6/2018
“Black specks swam in front of her eyes, drowning out whatever Deacon was saying to her…” – great description.

The opening was so exciting – seeing the absolute fear from Deacon, who so far has been a fairly calm and collected character was such a “what have you got yourself into Amari” moment. Two parts stood out to me – the “Who the hell are you?” directed at Amari and the comment about not even taking off his armor and glasses, indicating that Lyon’s Pride hadn’t recognised it and raising the stakes in this town. Showing that danger through Deacon’s horror was a great way of revealing how much trouble she could be in. Loved the "Oh, so now you care?" from Amari when Richard emerged.

“That was Moira's suggestion. Knew it was an inside joke for her amusement” - …and ours! Deacon’s mumbling just made me happy, as did the “glaring moodily down at a pair of security guards as if they had personally affronted him”.

“I understood some of those words.” – ah, Amari you get me (*hand is removed from searching “synth” in google* Deacon, please continue). This – “He's a marvel of modern engineering.” – made me super excited though! Also, this was absolutely wonderful – [Amari had always known that Moira was a little crazy. That Deacon might be as well was something she hadn't previously considered.] – and I also adored the thought process of how to say “you’re insane” in a nice way. Enjoyed the lesson with picking between Coursers and humans.

[“Muscles there is yet another Courser on this boat right now - isn't this fun? - and they're here after some lost property.”

"You don't believe you're a robot, do you?"]

The dialogue in this chapter was just impeccable. Absolutely loved the humour coming through, and definitely lived up to my expectations of seeing the two of them in the same place again! They play off together really well, and it brings out a sassiness in Amari that is just delightful. Both of those lines above were my favourite, but I had so many other little bits that I enjoyed (the reference to Pinkerton doing surgery on you to prove the point was another highlight). The tone of the conversation flowed really well between confusion, explanation, amusement and sarcasm. Liked how you phrased the indications of Deacon’s backstory.

"And the shades, old boy” – ah, the three of them are going to make such an interesting combination. Gah! The interaction with Harkness was so intriguing! Don’t tell me, but I really want to know…a ridiculous part of my mind leapt to repressed memories but I think it’s going to be more simple than that… *reads one more paragraph* AHHHH! Well that makes sense, you muppet, read till the end of the scene before thinking about crazy theories. Amari’s realisation and Deacon’s suspicion were both great fun.

I recognise this! This is the first CC I did for this story (I think my first one overall was a Courier one)! I had forgotten about this, and you patiently explaining that Amari had only just figured out he was a robot. Great first description of Pinkerton to follow on from Deacon’s comment about him – “Pinkerton himself was a haughty, unlikable person who seemed positively gleeful to have a subject to work with.”

[That he landed on a protective behavior pattern is part luck, part design. It was probably meant to make him easier for a real Institute operative to retrieve him from the field.] – I really enjoyed this logic, and then the consequence of that reveal with Amari feeling lonely, and loss of her ideas of their relationship. Especially with Pinkerton’s following comment that Richard was actively fighting against the impulse. Her innocent comment about Richard being another damaged person was really quite heartbreaking as well.

“Sidelined for now, Deacon was a study in physical agitation.” – I remember this! First comment about Deacon. Ah, memories. I still love how you’ve phrased this line. And I thought “overweening” was my word of the day from your chapter but “mindless thrall” wins – so perfect. Enjoyed the discussions about whether to give Richard autonomy with “Hell, if Pinkerton throws in an emotional upgrade too, he could have a great time doing it” being my favourite quip. Interesting comment about there being new connections and defining himself in relation to others.

"Very well, then. Mr. Deckard, welcome to humanity..." – excellent line. I quite like Pinkerton. His comment about whether Amari would even understand what he was doing to stop him from doing something wrong was well done, great mix of ego and exasperation coming through. Really liked how you played out the conversation between the awakened Richard and Amari, with him setting off to ponder some more (Deacon and Pinkerton’s comments were great).

Interesting ending! I’m dubious as to whether the answer is as clear-cut as it appears but I love the mystery this has thrown up! “I can't stay to micromanage that.” – ah dammit Richard, you made Deacon leave. This is why you can’t have nice things. I feel like we’re moving into another section of the plot now – Deacon’s gone, Richard’s gone and Amari is “alone” again. She brings such a fascinating perspective to the cutthroat dynamics of everyone else in this world (although she increasingly understands where they are coming from) and it continues to be a joy to read. The array of personalities you have introduced in each chapter are so wonderfully eclectic, even when they don’t hang around for very long – Pinkerton was my obvious favourite in this chapter. So intrigued to see where this is heading next!
blueandie chapter 10 . 12/4/2018
Deacon’s back! Deacon’s back! *cough* I mean, obviously other stuff happened in this chapter, and I definitely didn’t make anyone jump when I squeaked. Nope, responsible reader right here - very considerate of others.

Loved the opening of this one – the comparison of those that followed the teachings of the Vault to herding behaviour linked in with Marilyn’s increasing frustration with the system she was born into. Great moment of realisation with that segue back into the present and noting Amari’s weakness when compared to her companions.

The discussion about priorities and how the Brotherhood was not “a civilizing force for the wasteland” was brilliant. This whole post-apocalyptic environment makes a very fascinating arena for various definitions of morality and who the “good guys” really are – not that the Brotherhood have come across as the “bad guys” at all at this stage. That stance makes sense though - it wouldn’t really be in their best interests to fight a war against a larger force even if there was a chance of victory, followed by the fact that it wouldn’t be a unanimous decision as those within the Brotherhood have different ideas of where the focus should be.

Enjoyed the exchange with the woman with the box especially this bit - ["You have your mother's coloring," she said uncharitably, "but you truly don't look much like either of them. It's a pity. She was a beauty."] – so wonderfully blunt. This – “Anger finally mastered surprise, and left honesty by the wayside.” – was also a great line. And good on ya Amari! That outburst was brilliant. I liked this line – “Who the hell are you to lecture me about what was safe?” as well as the reference to “remembered pain” and Amari listening “with the half of her mind that still cared”. The "Well, not for nothing. You're here, aren't you?" was painful, as was the holotapes. Man, the encounter with James is going to be brutal. I just know it.

Wow, the comparison of the fathers was tough, especially that mention of the authority her father had and the lack of action to find her – I hadn’t even considered that he would likely have access to outside the Vault. Telling herself that he must be that committed to lie seems like a decent defence mechanism with a hint of possibility about it – I wonder if there will be a reunion of sorts for them as well at some stage.

Loved this bit – “Who could forget about Richard?” and the "Please don't. It's creepy." Great use of “languidly” – you always give him some entertaining descriptions.

["Uh... there's cold broth with half an inch of congealed grease on it, but we're saving it to jump-start the flavor on tomorrow's soup. I recommend booze. We don't really do food after 7 or so."]

Enjoyed the bartender – just cutting to the chase and suggesting alcohol instead. And then her exasperated “For the last time…” Eeeek! I liked the reminder of the timeline since Megaton, and that Amari was able to get some of that feeling of guilt off her chest.

Glad they both perked up after the initial commiserations though, because the exchange about the room number was brilliant. Loved this - "Besides, I have a roommate. A very strong, very awkward roommate who doesn't get social cues." and Deacon’s reaction being “both pained and amused.” I’m so glad someone has pointed out to her that she’s made her own reputation out here, no one here knows either Marilyn or Amata out here. The “How tantalizingly vague” was great, as well as “Almost everybody I work with has some sort of personality disorder. You would fit right in.”

But as much as I loved Deacon being back, I have to admit Amari stole the show for the best lines in this scene. Highlights for me were – “Lone Wanderer…That's a stupid title. I haven't done much wandering. I'm not alone…” and “Uhhh… maybe I'm the wrong person to ask. I kind of helped Moira brutalize an eyebot for science.” Loved the discussion around AI sentience – felt very Black Mirror! I am so intrigued to find out who Deacon is tracking and why he is asking about this in particular…and whether this relates to Richard directly at all (based on the ending of the chapter, I imagine we are about to find out).

[This came out sounding like an accusation, but she didn't really mean it that way. Deacon was well on his way to becoming her favorite living person in the world. She almost wished that she hadn't preemptively declined to sleep with him.] – have I mentioned how much I love Amari’s inner monologue… well consider this further adulation. She is wonderful.

[Deacon stood in the hallway, a shiteating grin pasted on his face. "Morning, sunshine. I'm so glad I caught you before you started in on your very important to-do list. You made it sound so urgent that I knew I just had to get here early."]

Ugh, I love him so much! Adored the morning scene – so entertaining and then such an interesting ending! Great last line. What does it all mean?! I mean, obviously Richard and Deacon are going to be the best of friends. But other than that? At the very least I can imagine Amari (and likely Richard) is about to find out quite a lot more about who Richard is. And as I said above, I’m so intrigued to see if this ties in with any of Deacon’s previous ponderings or if there is another reason for those. Surely he would have noticed if the window he was watching was her room though so unlikely to be tracking Richard in particular. Hmmm.
blueandie chapter 9 . 11/22/2018
[Her first thought was one of terror - for a second, she knew she was back in the tunnels, laying among the gruesome remains of the mutants' savagery, awaiting a terrible fate.] - Gorgeous opening passage – great sense of claustrophia during her awakening, and the detail with the wrappings as well.

Liked our introduction to Penny – drugged-up and gun toting but casual about their situation (adored the use of "If anything tries to snack on us in the meantime…") and the prattling. Oh, and their name – Lyons’ Pride - is just awesome! Penny’s repeating “We’re the good guys, silly.” makes me a little wary of them though.

Amari’s inner monologue was as great as always - Don't know what day of the week. Did I know it before? and I loved that Richard “wisely declined her dazed offer of help.” Her comment about thinking that she had been asleep but figured she must not be anymore was hilarious and so true. Such a frustrating feeling when that happens! Also enjoyed her discussion/interrogation with Lyons, especially this – “I don't know what his 'normal' is, but I suspect this is... not it”.

The scene between Lyon and Olin with the Pip-Boy was entertaining – all the politics between these different factions are fascinating, and there seems to be some nasty history between them. Olin’s snarky “You do know it's potentially fatal, right?” was well done and I liked both of them playing off their intelligence against each other. Amari trying “not to bother the angry woman by breathing too loudly, let alone by throwing up on her” was great as well – she is such an enjoyable protagonist to follow through this and there are moments like this one where I find myself agreeing with her reaction to the situation. I adored her saying "Oh. Yeah. It's probably right." in response to being told she’s concussed. Brilliant! Also loved that she wondered if Richard felt as lonely among these people like she was.

Oh the concept of the simulation was surprising, but so intriguing! Is it a playable part of one of the games? Her immediate fascination with the snow was beautiful, and I loved Ben’s reaction to her exploring what she could ask him. I was thinking that she reminded me of how I play games and then there was this – [She watched him climb out of sight, scaling the cliff with ropes and tools, and then started building a snowman.] – and I laughed. Man, Amari is just fantastically entertaining. Inevitable ending to the simulation but at least she almost finished her snowman. Liked the idea that they could all tell she only moved ten feet from the starting point and the detail that being shot in the simulation brought on unpleasant, numbing signals to her brain and that there was a physical reaction in the real world from her attempts.

["Is it because you chose to?" she asked hopefully.

"No, that's not it," he muttered. "You don't fit the profile. You're not important. You're not goal-oriented. You don't interact with me correctly."]

Ahh, Richard’s growled “Questions” as an answer was wonderful. Loved the irritation that her prompting had caused him to try and think about his history, and the “You’re not important” bit above. The relationship between them is really captivating. He clearly remembers enough to know the underlying nature of his role in the world, and his frustration that she won’t dictate terms or fit into the role that he expects of someone who interacts with him adds into why this dynamic is so interesting. Also, the concept of a pondering Richard is just lovely.

These first impressions of Lyon’s Pride were really cool – particularly liked the comment about the air of cohesion, and Amari linking that to a family but one that was not like hers. Amari’s comparison with Sentinel Lyons was a little heart-breaking, that lack of self-confidence coming through again. I appreciated that her interactions with each of the members were not easy – the harshness of some of their feelings towards her felt very realistic with the suspicion of those living in this world and the uncertainty figures like Amari and Richard would bring into a group. However, I loved this line and completely understood Amari’s desire to justify why she hadn’t succeeded - I wasn't raised for this world, she wanted to tell the woman. I expected to live and die in safety.

Other highlight was Colvin being a “bizarrely-religious sniper”. The mini history leading into the Lyons’ group taking the armory was well done. Loved the use of “violent schism” (great word by the way) as well as “the survivors were subdued, sullen, and grieving” and “She might not win, but she would lose as herself for once, not as a failed imitation of others.” The idea some of them were betting on her ability to finish the simulation seemed appropriate and I was impressed she made it 9 days! I presume someone wouldn’t get hungry or need rest in the simulation considering it is only an hour and a half in real life. The hints as to how to presumably get around the soldiers in the actual game was really clever. Liked the last line of the chapter and I’m intrigued to see where this journey heads next now they’re hitting the road again!
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