Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Paks--chapter 24

Paks spends the first day of their new siege watching the siege work. She's torn between being glad she's not doing it and being bored out of her mind. A rider shows up and heads for the Duke. She tries to get close enough to listen in, which means she's close enough to be picked to go get the leader of the Halvarics and drag him back to the Duke's tent for news. It turns out the guy remembers her as the soldier who almost didn't give her parole.

Nobody finds out what the courier brought, so it must be important.

Several days later, one of Paks' recruits tells her he spotted someone coming over the city wall. Paks uses this as a Teaching Opportunity, specificially on Why We Do Not Talk About Things. They haven't had a chance to camp in a peaceful city, so Stammel hasn't had his chance to give the "Don't get drunk and blab" speech, or to beat the concept of operational security into the newbie's heads. Paks quickly explains that winning usually means having a surprise or two up your sleeve, and if you blab to the wrong person--and you never know who the wrong person is--you lose your surprise. The new person is alarmed and even a little insulted, but he gets the point.

About a day later an entire group of people breech the wall from the other side and go to talk to the Duke. Two of 'em get shot by the defenders, so the rest defect. There's a lot of fighting going on within the city, even though the Duke's people haven't make it into the city yet. Sounds like the city itself doesn't like the Honeycat anymore.

The inside people pull the Honeycat's colors down and fly the colors of an unknown party, but it's gonna be either the Duke or the Halvarics, and either way that means Paks and company have friends on the inside. Eventually her troops make it inside, but by then most of the fighting (for the Duke's people) has ended anyway.

After assisting a boy with a lost puppy--no, really. Kid lost his puppy--Paks gets to catalogue the warehouse. Fun. One of her recruits got to raid a jeweler and allows Paks and the other newbies under her to pick a decent helping of sparklies from his haul. Nice of him. The same recruit also wants Paks to pull strings to get him back to fighting. Seems he broke his arm and he wants the surgeons to put him back into play. Paks won't go for it, and Stammel shows up to back him up, then pulls her aside. Apparently they took on new people, and Stammel wants Paks to watch them. And he means watch, not just shepard. They could be good men, but they also could be plants.

That means Stammel really trusts Paks. Not just her fighting strength but her head. You don't give the potential spy to somebody who's got fewer brains than a turnip.

And of course Paks newest charge is a sexist idiot. His first serious question to Paks is "Are you sure you aren't a cook?" to which Paks says "yes" and nothing more. Probably because we don't want to kill him until this plot plays out. Idiot.

I do like, however, how very, very little sexism there was up until we started hitting the southern areas. Yes, there was the Korryn incident, which was really shitty, but everybody came down on him like a load of bricks. Up until this point, women have been treated like fighters. So much so that it hasn't called attention to itself. Paks is here to fight, and that's all. It's only now that she's got something she has to prove, and it shows very well how absolutely unfair that attitude is. Paks is a veteran. She's survived multiple tours on the front line of battle. She made the run from Dwarfwatch to Rotengre and told the Duke what happened. She's the goddamn reason the Duke is down there in the first place... and this little piss-ant is daring to insinuate that Paks is less of a soldier because of her gender.

He also mouthed off in front of Stammal, and it's probably another display of his high opinion of her that he didn't pop the idiot the second he did so. He figures Paks can sort out her own problem. And I think popping stupid would less be a "Protect the woman" gesture and more of a "you do NOT disrespect my friend"...thing.

She takes New Stupid to see Siger, who takes one look, asks a couple questions, and decides that Paks is just the one to put him through his paces. This is probably going to be fun.

It is.

Siger has Paks form a shield line with him, and lets all the newbies line up opposite them. The newbies are all like "it's not fair, it's just one old man and a girl." And the newbies hold their own for a while, until New and Stupid almost gets a touch on Paks and grins at her. Then she cleans his clock for him and gets the "You're not bad...for a girl" speech in return. New Stupid isn't going to improve.

And that my darlings is how you do a girls-can-play-with-boys sort of scene. No dick measuring, no bravado. The girl's got nothing to prove, and she just does her job and does it well and does not give one flying fuck about your opinion. Ah, Paks, how much I do love thee...

It turns out that the Honeycat likes to keep women fighters as a hobby--show them off at feasts, and then do the predictable with them--and that's part of why New and Stupid is so disrespectful of Paks.

Paks spends the last few chapters thoroughly quashing his ideas about the proper role for women, including the fact that she doesn't want to marry...ever, and never has. She adds in that a quarter of Duke Phelani's company are women, which I think is the first time a concrete number has come up.

Idiot accepts this, and the chapter ends.

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