Chapter 2

Are Paradisians really a higher life form than humans?

Actually, Camille isn’t just being arrogant here. Before the introduction of kanuf, the difference between these species wasn’t so obvious. But after 6,000 years of suffering the progressive genetic degeneration associated with kanuf, the humans that Camille sees in the street below her really are vastly inferior in intellect, strength, agility, and any number of other factors. Of course, the introduction of that destructive force into the human genetic pool was largely her fault, but that fact elicits no pity or guilt from her.

©iStock.com/iulianvalentin

©iStock.com/iulianvalentin

To give you some idea of Paradisian superiority, consider these examples. Although Stan won’t bench press more than 1,000 pounds in front of humans (being very near the world record, this is enough to impress and intimidate them without letting on that he isn’t human himself), he is actually capable of lifting several times that amount, as is Garrick. Camille knows by memory the entire collection of pieces for piano, harp, and flute from several composers, including her favorite, Debussy. Stan can do the same for piano, cello, and oboe. Stan, Camille, Garrick, Frank (their longtime VP for Finance)—in fact, most of the executives at Moden Industries—speak hundreds of modern languages. Tony and Savana learned Rarámuri in a matter of days to carry out their manipulation with Chris; and, as Chris notes, they speak it like natives. All of the management agents complete a series of courses that amounts to a bachelor’s degree within a few months, and they do this while maintaining their fulltime jobs.

What’s this company/entity management thing?

A big part of Moden Industries’ war against Doug is recruiting the humans to their side while discouraging them from supporting Doug. This effort has two arms: the manipulation of groups of people, and the manipulation of individuals. However, the exiles don’t use these terms since humans wouldn’t take kindly to the idea of being manipulated if they were to overhear them. So Camille played around with synonyms until she came up with terms that sound like they could be a normal part of their business. (They do this a lot around Moden Industries, resulting in a whole new vocabulary of euphemisms. Interrogation by torture, for instance, is called an “interview.” Victims being tortured in the dungeon are referred to as “guests” who are “entertained downstairs.”) Thus, the manipulation of groups became “company management,” and the manipulation of individuals became “entity management.”

Stan, whose PhD is in sociology (his DSc is in biochemistry), is the Company Master—the head of company management. This work, which is sufficient to recruit the majority of humans, focuses on changing group attitudes toward Doug. This may include efforts that cast Doug in a bad light (e.g., by causing a famine and blaming Doug for it), that promote apathy toward him (e.g., by spreading the idea that Doug doesn’t exist or that he will rescue everyone anyway), that foster a general atmosphere of fear (e.g., using serial killers or terrorists) or hatred (e.g., the holocaust), and so forth. Company agents may also work to glorify Stan and themselves (e.g., through the occult, Goth cults, etc.), but they’ve discovered that this work, though entertaining, isn’t necessary; anything that discourages humans from maintaining a personal relationship with Doug, whether through overt antagonism or simple indifference or distraction, serves their purpose. Company agents generally function in committees led by Company Captains, who are responsible to either Stan or one of his assistants, Martin, who also holds a PhD in sociology. A Company Steering Committee, headed by Stan, determines which projects to pursue and assigns them to the company committees.

The other arm of this work, entity management, is headed by the Entity Master, Camille, whose PhD is in psychology. This labor-intensive work is directed at those humans who are not won by the more general maneuvers of company management. Anyone who signs up for one of Damour’s races, which is his method of training his recruits, is assigned an entity agent.

Entity agents generally work alone. Nevertheless, they do often cooperate when geographically near each other, and a more senior agent can demand assistance from any lower-ranked agent. Camille matches agents to subjects based on the subject’s risk status and on the agent’s experience with subjects of similar characteristics. Entity agents keep detailed records of the manipulations they’ve used on a subject and the subject’s response to it, thus creating a thorough database of which manipulations work best on a particular subject. Four Entity Captains (all PhDs in psychology; Patric calls them the Quartet) constantly review these records and help the agents improve upon their plans. Camille herself follows the courses of the highest risk subjects, including Chris.

Becoming an agent is now voluntary at Moden Industries. Stan and Camille tried to make it mandatory at one point, but quickly abandoned the idea when it caused a general uprising. An agent carries out management work in addition to his regular duties, almost like a moonlighting job. He receives extra salary for his management work, plus bonuses for successful outcomes. He is also disciplined (the general term for punishments of all types), including the possibility of “correction” (torture) when he makes errors that result in unsuccessful outcomes.

In addition to the financial incentive for taking on management work, agents enjoy a higher status within the company since they are seen as doing the work that is most important to the cause. In fact, the highest level executive positions, including all of the vice president positions, are entrusted only to Master Agents. An agent will enjoy both more money and status as she progresses up the ladder from New Agent to Agent to Master Agent to Best Agent. The level of Probationary Agent, which Camille refers to in Chapter 29, is a disciplinary action accompanied by considerable stigma. Theoretically, there is one Entity Best Agent and one Company Best Agent, but both titles have been held by the same man for several centuries now; we’ll meet him in the second book.

Agents, whether company or entity, are trained by first receiving a fundamental book knowledge of their field. These classes, all taught in-house, are roughly equivalent to the major courses in either sociology or psychology that would be required to complete a B.A., plus some masters-level courses. The prospective agent must then pass a comprehensive two-day exam with a score of at least 85% before proceeding to the field test, which she must pass within three tries. Anyone flunking out of either management training course is generally barred from any further management training for ten centuries.

In the distant past, Stan and Camille have both tried to simply bar individuals they don’t like from their management teams. However, here, as elsewhere, they have learned that absolute power doesn’t remain unchallenged if it’s exercised arbitrarily. Rather, the discontent and brooding created by unfair practices have, through the centuries, resulted in everything from slow work to serious uprisings. This is why the protocols were put into effect, to discourage discontent by assuring that workers receive equal treatment. Stan and Camille still have plenty of wiggle room in their definitions of “successful” outcomes, as well as in their choice of discipline. If Stan had not stepped in to mete out Savana’s discipline here, for instance, Camille would have dealt with her “downstairs” (in the dungeon) simply because she doesn’t like her to begin with. Stan would gladly do the same if it were someone he didn’t like. On the other hand, if he had been dealing with Savana in private, where there was no example to be made for the group, he might have, on a busy day, just given her a meaningful glare and walked away—this being less trouble than thinking up a suitable punishment for someone unworthy of his attention.

 

What are these “flags” Camille mentions?

A subject’s risk status is based on two key elements: their personality profile and their historical profile. (For more on the personality profiling, see under Chapter 7.) The flags are the quick-peek method of summarizing a subject’s historical profile.

There are three types of flags—red, orange, and yellow. Red flags indicate tactical risk. That is, elements of the subject’s history, whether personal or familial, that increase the likelihood that he will be a greater-than-average problem in the war against Doug. Examples of risk factors include being coached by Joshua, descending from a problematic ancestor like Ben Strider or Juan Misi, or having Doug personally intervene on the subject’s behalf (e.g., issuing a hands-off order). Orange flags mark subjects who are objects of vengeance for either Stan or Camille. For instance, because of his hatred of Juan Misi, Stan orange-flags all of Misi’s descendants who become runners. Yellow flags mark subjects who are objects of vengeance for anyone else at Moden Industries. Any Moden employee may yellow-flag a subject, which does contribute toward the subject’s historical risk. However, how bothersome a yellow flag may be to the subject himself will largely depend on whether the flagger has money or status to offer as a reward for his capture.

Although their primary purpose is as a risk-assessment tool, flags are also useful to underlings at Moden Industries seeking advancement. If, for instance, a member of the army wants a promotion, one way to distinguish himself is to engineer a means of delivering to Garrick someone whom Garrick has yellow-flagged. Likewise, when two applicants are up for the same promotion, their comparative tallies of conquered flags is one factor that will be considered. Furthermore, Moden employees can also win sizable cash bounties for orange- or yellow-flagged subjects, as well as those on the company’s Most Wanted List and/or on a List of Guerdon (another Moden euphemism—we’ll see more of this in the second book).

Chris, then, in addition to having a high-risk personality (read: a personality likely to influence large numbers of individuals for Damour), begins the race with the extraordinary sum of four flags; most high-risk runners would have one or two when just beginning the race. Chris’s flags have been assigned for:

1. Red: Coached by Josh (whose runners, historically, do more harm than the average runner)

2. Red: Ben Strider’s son (who is sitting on the Kids’ Klub and has made several contributions to enhance the RABs’ programs for children)

3. Red: Descendant of Juan Misi (who did much damage among the Tarahumara)

4. Orange: Descendant of Juan Misi (flagged by Stan for marring his face)

It is possible for a subject to have a high-risk history but still be of little interest to Camille when assigning overall risk status (overall risk levels: Average-risk; Elevated-risk; High-risk; Priority; Target). This is because her prime concern has to do with the person’s potential for affecting a large number of individuals, and this usually boils down to his personality profile. For example, in the second book, Benny also runs the race. As Chris’s brother, he begins it with three of the same flags that mark Chris (red—son of Ben Strider; red—descendent of Juan Misi; orange—descendant of Juan Misi). Nevertheless, whereas Chris is a designated Target, Camille designates Benny only as Elevated-risk, and he wouldn’t even merit this distinction if not for his flag count. This is because Benny, as a Follower-Laborer, will likely have a range of influence limited to his immediate family and friends. Mike, with the same three flags, is a High-risk subject, occupying an intermediate position between Chris and Benny. As a Supporter-Manager, Mike is likely to have a broader range of influence than Benny (enabling him to do more harm) but not as much as Chris. Leader-Activators like Chris have one of the broadest ranges of influence because they set up organizations/systems that can affect people far beyond their personal circle of associates.

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