The Living World of Faded Magenta

(This is a summary of Faded Magenta’s story during the first part of the Living World storyline. You can see the expanded version by visiting the Living World and browsing through past choices, at the bottom of the character’s banner. You can also see Faded Magenta’s Portrait here.)

With a series of reports about erratic and disturbing behavior of certain Drone series being dismissed repeatedly, Faded Magenta decided to disobey the orders of the Lineages and cull the entire population of erratic series. Interrupted by an unnamed Directorate agent, he was offered an alternative: to leave enough erratic samples alive to observe, while forging numbers in reports to appease the Lineages. His new, mysterious patron offered one of his clones for protection – or, more likely, to monitor him closely.

Regardless of his suspicions, Faded Magenta decided to go on with his observations, as agreed with his patron, choosing to isolate the Flawed population from the non-erratic drones. This, he believed, would allow for the erratic behaviors to develop further. He soon observed that the “Flawed” behaviors expanded beyond his expectation, though he could not explain how or why yet. His efforts were interrupted by the announcement of an inspection.

Fearful that the Inspector would discover his crimes, he acted alone, sidetracking his Clone protector and attempting to keep his patron in the dark about his plans. He arranged for an “accident” with an erratic drone: blocking a Brute’s pheromantic receptors to all but his personal emissions, he had the massive drone delete the Inspector while he remained safe. With his last breath, the Inspector revealed that this drastic action was unnecessary; he too was serving the Faded Magenta’s patron.

Deciding to own to his mistake and attempt to present it as a sign of his capabilities, he kept the Brute alive and readily assumed blame. His patron was less than understanding, promising that one day the Faded Magenta would better learn the politics of the Higher Spire and, with his talents, would eventually excel. But not yet. What was worse, the patron was demanding – in not so many words – that all notes about his unique method of controlling the Brute Drone during the arranged accident were delivered onto them. Torn between anger for being dismissed as a mere Pheromancer despite his accomplishment with the Brute and fear for a prospectless existence in the Underspire, Faded Magenta decided to embrace the image others had of him: a lowly, dimwitted Pheromancer that did not know any better.

Drowning his patron in a series of detailed but largely trivial or deflecting reports, Faded Magenta turned the very system that had buried him in the Underspire against his would-be controllers. Invoking obscure but yet valid bureaucratic concerns, he delayed the termination of the Brute, and therefore the presentation of any meaningful post-deletion analysis, long enough for him to secretly switch carapaces and therefore the Brute’s identity. At the same time, he kept all important notes and methods about his work to himself, until, eventually, his patron absentmindedly dismissed him as a useful tool and his “protector” Clone departed. Alone at long last, Faded Magenta eagerly resumed his old life. Almost. Choosing to ignore the Flawed drones and instead concentrate on his own research: a method of tailoring drone receptors to a specific person’s pheromantic emissions, thus excluding control by others – an illegal field of research.

Eventually, the Brute, named Mass, proved a loyal companion, company and valuable research asset. It’s short life span, extended as much as he dared before venturing into further illegal practices, was swiftly coming to an end. Deciding on the value of a post-expiration above the silent company Mass offered, Faded Magenta allowed his pet-Brute’s existence to expire. In a moment of weakness and sentimentality, he thanked the expired Mass – not realizing he was being watched by Flawed Drones.

Throwing himself to his work, Faded Magenta balanced precariously between maintaining the image of a dutiful but not always successful Pheromancer to avoid drawing attention and secretly continuing his personal research. Progress proved very slow – for, loathe as he was to admit it, he was a lowly Pheromancer – and exhaustion often overcame him, as he worked almost without rest. One such sleepless night, he realized he was being watched. As a group of Flawed drones had gathered outside his laboratory despite their directives, Faded Magenta threw caution to the wind and approached them.

Terrified and barely able to contain his panic, he heard one of the drones attempting to speak, mimicking the words he had once said to Mass: thank you.

Some time later, reports ceased to arrive from Pheromancer Faded Magenta. None knew what had happened. None cared. Without ever attempting to search for him, a replacement, Surmounting Principal, was sent to fulfill his duties. Soon after a report signed by said Pheromancer was submitted, in which it was revealed that Faded Magenta had expired and his equipment had been rendered useless. With the report out of the way, the Pheromancer turned to a drone, addressed him as ‘Faulty’ and underlined the success of faking one’s own death. Officially dead to the Upper Levels and assisted by his Flawed drones, Faded Magenta carried on with his plans undisturbed.

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