Raphael, the Field Medic - James R

Email: raphael@endoftheline.chaosdeathfish.com

With a medical clinic on the edge of Union territory, Raphael and his many medical 'officers' attend to the needs of anyone who has something to give (equipment, a favour, a good word in the right ears, or just a fine vintage of wine). The clinic's practitioners can offer some of the best non-magical healing available, few questions asked, no secrets betrayed, and all with military efficiency. They bear a red cross, which apparently came from a conflict in a different dimension, and use it in all of their dealings.

Raphael finds Union meetings awkward when he attends at all, struggles to maintain his composure when around those in the business of brutality and murder, and preaches pacifism and non-violent resolutions to conflict. He also carries a loaded revolver, and speaks most candidly when talking with professional soldiers (or anyone that resembles them). Is there some internal conflict present? Regardless, the skill he's shown in building both an efficient, well-organised medical practice and a reputation with the general public suggest he's not just good for resetting bones, nursing wounds and restarting someone's heart with a well-aimed kick.


The month after the end of the war was a busy one for Raphael. His people spoke afterwards about a frantic level of activity which in hindsight was his preparation for leaving the Red Cross and the City behind. He worked closely with Gaius in this time handing over many of the tales of the people he and his people had gathered to the minister. He found some time to devote to teaching Madison a little of medicine, providing her and her travelling university with a fully equipped medical wing, staff, three cassowaries (two of them made of jade) and a capercapallie. He never explained the logic to this but just nodded when asked and told them to ‘ask Madison’. Most tellingly he appointed some of his more trusted staff to senior positions and between them allowed them to take over the running of the Red Cross entirely, including his ‘carpet filing system’ of information. His final instruction to them being to work closely with and listen to Walter Howe should he ask anything of them and to integrate the White Cross organisation into the Red Cross as new research branch of the organisation.

In those last few weeks, Raphael spent much time with Walter Howe, Aki and Gabrielle before finally packing up his few worldly belongings into a small airship and, together with Gabrielle, heading out to explore the multiverse.

Raphael never settled down in one place for long - he and Gabrielle always seemed restless to try new things and see new places to make up for all the time they’d lost staying still before. They stopped in at the Peripatetic University a number of times and Raphael made sure to keep in contact with his old friends from the City - in particularly Gaius, Astriam, Howe and Aki. Wherever they travelled they left something better behind, fixed things (people or machines, it didn’t matter which) and moved on, leaving behind tales of ‘When Raphael came by’.


“That’s it! We’ve done it! It’s perfect.” Exclaimed Howe
“Are you sure this is going to work?” Raphael sounded more dubious
“Yes. Well. No. Maybe?” Howe replied.
“The theory is sound and I followed him every step of the way - this should fix her. The other devices were flawed, each interfering with a different bit of her brain. This one is perfect, at least it should be. It should slot everything back together.” Said Aki.
“Well… ok then. Shall we try it?” Raphael asked the final member of the group. Gabrielle nods, her amber eyes full of trust.

The pattern swirls in front of her eyes. The perfect fractal, down to every detail. It works its ways into the depths of her mind and, stripped of its destructive potential by the protections of the universe, unlocks parts that had been trapped for years.

She stumbles, the worried red cross doctor catching her, as memories, thoughts and ideas come pouring out.
“Gabrielle! Are you ok?” The worry clear in Raphael’s voice
“…Yes.. yes I am. For once, I really think I am… Your turn…” She smiles.

Raphael sighs in relief as he turns and looks into the perfect fractal for himself.


“So where now?” Asks Gabrielle.
“Well, we’ve tried most of the worlds this side of the Triumvirate and nearly all the ones connected to the river network…” replies Raphael
“We could always try Plagaria?”
The doctor laughs “I’m not sure I can cope with that level of colour. Where do you want to go?”
“Well… I’ve been working on this new modification for the ship. A way to map new paths to new dimensions… without needing to know about their existence first. We could find places no one has ever heard of before. See places no one has ever been. If it works…”
“It will work. Since we left you’ve not created a faulty device yet. I don’t see why this would be any different.”
“I don't think I ever thanked you properly for…“
“Don't. You don't have to. I just helped undo the harm I caused.”
“No. Don't say that. That's not fair, and it's more than that. You saved me. You put me back together again in more ways than one.”
“No more than you saved me.”
“I'm glad you asked me to come with you. I wouldn't have missed this for the world - any of them.”
“Shall we?” He motions towards the lever, a smile playing across his face.
“After you…”

They’ve been to every world they’d ever heard of and few they hadn’t. They’ve been home to peaceful fields of poppies where churned earth used to lie and seen old and familiar ruins where towers once ominously stood, now overgrown with ivy. They’ve seen cities and plains and endless oceans. As Raphael pulls down on the lever they prepare for their next big adventure on their extended holiday.

A letter

Dear Gabrielle,

I hope this letter finds you well. I am sorry I have been out of contact for a time; tying up some particularly evasive loose ends has taken longer than I had hoped.

As you may have noticed, I have started making plans for my extended absence from the City. And as you will have guessed, I do not want to travel alone.

I would be delighted if you would accompany me on a vacation. Or an escape attempt, depending on your perspective.

We have been prisoners for too long - prisoners of dimensional barriers, amnesia, and our past. Now we have the opportunity to be free of all of that, if we can only free ourselves from distant history, and focus on the wonders of the present day. So I propose, in the hope of sounding suitably ambitious, an unscheduled tour of the multiverse.

We have been through enough; existence owes us our freedom. We can see the worlds we have only heard tales of, meet people so unique that even the City had no-one like them, and, when it would be pleasant to do so, lend our expertise to otherworldly denizens - people who would see us as questing angels, brilliant and benign.

I do not mean to devalue the past; I know that curiosity will force me to discover the fate of my origin world, and that somewhere out there must be a place you once called home. There is time for those places, and there is time for so much more. We can explore, discover and enthusiastically applaud everything good about all the worlds we can reach. We could enrich people's lives in the process. And when we are tired of travelling, we can rest in the company of old friends, or settle in some pleasant land that avoids most worldly concerns.

I will completely respect your decision if you decide you would rather pursue something else. Please do not feel forced to join me on something you might not enjoy. Furthermore, do not feel this is an all or nothing choice - we can each stop, or change course, whenever we like. Perhaps it is time for you to shape a world with your intellect; if so, who am I to stop you?

But if this sounds appealing, please start coming up with some ideas for places to visit! I have heard good things about this little plane of archipelagos, fjords, and sunsets of deepest violet…

Yours always,


Memory's Minions - retrospective backstory by James R.

About a year before the City's first Riette Convention: in a distant dimension (of no affiliation with the Triumverate Empire), an elderly technician sits in a small laboratory, deep in the confines of a great Tower - a villain's lair.

Memories make us who we are.

Memories are not sacrosanct in the Tower of our empress, and in the lands of those too weak to depose her. Where a lesser ruler would use expressions of force to change people's minds, ours just… changes people's minds.

The memetic lattice generators, subtly shaping thoughts in miles-wide areas, do a fine job of preventing casual rebellion within her dominion. But the true strength of her little Empire lies in the absolute loyalty of her closest minions, those few hundred of us allowed in her Tower. Short of a bullet to the head, nothing will end the hold she has over a technologically indoctrinated subject. At least, that was our assumption.

Everyone in the empire knows that the empress, or her minions, could do something to someone that made them loyal until death. Some know that we could instil far more than loyalty in our victims. Only us unlucky few who work in her Tower understand the nature of our slavery: the 'White Rooms', the psychological trauma, the imperfect fractals which corrupted our minds.

'Traditional' torture methods merely opened doors for the skilled technician. A mind can be made suspectible to trying to comprehend the full depth of a fractal pattern; as their thoughts run deep in their attempts to unfold the pattern's recursion, the thinker allows the intricate image to leave a lasting imprint on their consciousness.

Locking away memories was easy, but usually reduced a minion's usefulness; fabricating whole new memories was extremely difficult, and caused debilitating mental anguish if a minion found contradictions in their own psyche. Subtle modification, ampilification or abridgement of someone's recollection of events could have drastic effects on their outlook, while largely avoiding the drawbacks of the other options - but only the most devious technicians could get consistent, useful results. Putting to one side our use of almost incomparably intricate Inspired Technology in crafting the required patterns (developed by our empress, a technologist almost beyond compare), reshaping a person to be who you need them to be is always more of an art than a science.

More recent developments have allowed our reprogramming fractals to remain potent outside of 'White Room' conditions, much to the relief of those of us who have not been so reshaped as to no longer experience sympathy or fear. (Such extreme reduction in emotional capacity is useful in some circumstances, but has adverse effects on cooperative endeavours.) Nonetheless, every new minion has to visit our rooms of white tiles, bright lights and sharp knives once, so we can shatter their mental defences and leave a lasting impression to build on later.

And there is a limit to what memory editing we can do; no-one truly forgets their night in the White Room. Every time we see a fractal pattern, we remember that first time.

We assumed that nobody could reverse-engineer the portable devices our empress had devised for 'psyche-switching' outside of the Tower; that the fractals our equipment would generate were beyond mortal comprehension. (Perhaps they are; the true nature of the empire's assailant remains unclear.) We were wrong. The rebellion captured me, changed my mind, and reminded me of what was right and what was wrong; now I'm their agent on the inside.

Being a high-ranking technician, it was trivial to sabotage the Tower's major defensive systems, including its diffractional amnesia cannons (permanently stripping attackers of memories of their objectives, allies and loved ones) and its interplanar evasion mechanism (foiling assaults by phasing the Tower into a different dimension). When everyone assumes undying loyalty on your part, they do not bother questioning your motives for shutting down high-priority systems for 'maintenance'.

Making the Tower assailable was the rebellion's only demand of me. However, I worried about the aftermath of the empress's defeat. All of us minions are psychologically shaped to function effectively and without question at the behest of leading figures. Additionally, most of us have been adjusted to see loyalty as an infinitely greater force of good than following the basic common tenets of morality. Every one of my colleagues had the potential to, in the case of their imprisonment or exile, just find a new 'evil overlord figure' to do the bidding of. (I thought it unlikely that the rebels would risk their moral high ground and execute every last one of us.)

I have but one card left to play. My senior position permits me to call in any minion I believe to be performing sub-optimally, for appropriate psychological adjustment. Over the past few weeks, I have been working on fractal patterns for a few dozen of my colleagues. (Every mind is different; the pattern must fit the mind, else it will cause great harm.)

If my calibrations are correct, these patterns will bring out the best in people… their clearest memories will pertain to the virtues of sympathy, benevolence and forgiveness. (In some cases, this required some very creative editing. Unsurprisingly, not many of the people working here have had fair or forgiving lives.) Additionally, they should no longer see the empress as a figure worth fighting for, but will instead seek a new leader whose values align with their own.

If any of my colleagues who I call in think anything is amiss, they do not show it. And in every case, once the visitor views the pattern crafted for them, they are very accepting of the situation - the opportunity to edit somebody's way of thinking before they think to question your motives is a brutally unfair advantage in getting things done, and one which I will miss dearly.

They will all remember the work they did in this Tower, but I suggest to each of them that they keep their previous employment a secret once the empress falls - and, recognising the hatred that many outside will harbour towards us ex-minions even after our defeat, they each tell me my advice is sound, in one way or another. Then they spread themselves about the Tower, pretend to look dilligent, and prepare for their surrender to the rebels.

Having got the simpler, more predictable cases out of the way first, I come to the Inspired arms manufacturer and field technology operator, Gabrielle. She looks at me distrustfully, her amber eyes showing fear too deep-set for mere technology to put to rest. Rumour has it that she was once presented with a pattern incompatible with her mind, and that is why there are now things about her that none of our technology can change.

The things she could make from memory alone could shatter cities just as our technological meddling may have shattered her mind; the pattern I have crafted for her will bury her recollections of designing and using weapons of war. To make the missing memories less incongruous, I blur most of her memories of the Tower - a steep price in experience, for a better chance of psychological stability. Frustratingly, whatever damage that has been done to her mind shields her from the more intricate features I encode in her pattern.

Once she has sufficiently recovered from the adjustment process, I ask her to help in the medical bay; slightly baffled, she nods and smiles a little, apparently relishing the opportunity to do some good, and probably thinking it wise to pretend she knows more than she does.

The wildly successful, devious, and charismatic face of our diplomatic relations, Josiah Kray, does not turn up. It is not entirely unknown for someone to miss an appointment with the memory editing department; for instance, dead minions tend to fail to keep an eye on the clock. Nonetheless, I expect that Josiah is not dead, but has somehow escaped his programming, just as I have; an intriguing possibility, but not one I can act upon.

Mortars begin to rumble outside. I have cut things a little too close.

Finally, the last minion turns up. An accomplished leader, inspirational yet understated; a pragmatic architect, who let our fractal patterns invade his floor plans; a brutally apt surgeon, fixing or breaking people with merciless efficiency. Mentally scarred before we even dug our hooks into his psyche, with a labyrinthine mind that made him a perfect candidate for coordinating our extensive network of spies and informants. He used to tell stories from his past about fighting to save lives, while two gargantuan armies fought for territory and 'honour'. He deluded himself into believing our empire's conquests would at least cause a lasting peace.

Some years back, he fell from grace in mysterious circumstances, but was too useful for the empress to waste; by her orders, we corrupted his recollection of his past to strip him of his pacifism, and programmed him to help win our wars, via unnervingly omniscient logistics. He did not tell stories after that; he just worked tirelessly, and wept, his tear-stained orders helping equip the armies that slaughtered thousands. I am certain he would have ended his own life by now, had we ever granted him the psychological freedom to do so.

He stands in front of me, expressionless, looking just as he did when he used to help in our department, tormenting new recruits with mentally crippling precision. (Eventually we designed torture devices to substitute for surgeons, but they could never break someone as fast he could - they lacked the personal touch.) I want an up-to-date scan, since brains do change a little over time, and I plan on something quite intricate. So I ask him to sit in front of the brain-scanning device, so that I may check for 'coaxial memory corruption' (I do love meaningless technical jargon); he wordlessly complies with my request.

Once I have my mental canvas, I engage the fractal generation mechanism, and set myself to my final task of the day.

I paint an exemplar.

Helping people. Finding violence abhorrent. Refusing to compromise over the immorality of deadly force. Inspiring others to help. Expecting undying loyalty from assistants. Saving lives. Making the world a better place. Forgiving others for their failings. Never forgiving oneself. Achieving great feats, fuelled by regret. Doing all possible good.

Doing No Harm.

Most of his mind is to be locked away. Not just the majority of his memories of this Tower; everything that does not contribute to the identity I require of him will be shut out. More than a decade, to be forever veiled by amnesia; so be it. He will make the world a better place as a result of my meddling, if he survives the rebellion's conquest.

The pattern is generated. He views it, then leaps from his chair like a man possessed. He stares at me without showing an ounce of recognition. I try to defuse the situation: “Raphael, you're needed in the medical wing. They'll be here soon. It is too late to change anything now.”

He calms down and nods slowly, as his mind tries to fabricate some plausible explanation for why he is in a villain's fortress taking orders from a badly dressed technician. He heads out of the room, confused but determined.

I take a few minutes to collect my thoughts. Then the rebels arrive, with swords, screams and calls for surrender. Time is up.

Almost a couple of months after the first Riette Convention: in 'Lo Tea', a teahouse in the City's Floating Market, the ex-technician sits alone, watching boats sail past.

When they told us all that we were to be exiled - even me, despite my sterling betrayal - we feared for the worst. Instead, we got the City.

It was harder on those of my colleagues who still had places they called home, outside of the Tower. It's said that nobody escapes the City, and I believe that. But it is not so bad in this surreal little world of evacuees, castaways, thwarted villains and fallen heroes.

I take a sip from my tea. It's quality is debatable, but I would rather have it than have nothing at all. Perhaps it is an acquired taste.

A handsome, middle-aged man sits down opposite me, facing away from the picturesque river. I theatrically check my clockwork timepiece. He sighs. “Some of us have better things to do than sit in teahouses, watching the world pass us by.”

There was a sharpness in his tone; I began to expect the past year had not treated him too well. Given the effort it took me to find him, it is safe to assume he has not acquired the fame and respect he might have become accustomed to. I try to break the ice: “Josiah, in better days, I would have changed your mind about that…”

He chuckles. We reminisce a little about our work in the Tower; I tell him about all the unauthorised editing I did of his mind to stop him reporting our department's misconduct, and he tells me about all the times he intercepted the empress's orders to me so that I would not discover his schemes. We laugh uneasily, as old rivals reunited. But there is an added bitterness to his words, as if he misses the past dearly. Does he know of my treachery?

The teahouse begins to get more lively, as spectators gather to watch the finale of the Floating Market's boat race.

I tell him about what a number of the empress's ex-minions and I have been doing since the Tower fell. Driven by regret, Raphael (“Yes, the angsty fellow who you helped bring in all those years ago…”) wrangled a building off of the Union lot for a medical clinic, and has been steadily building up a reputation there ever since. Funnily enough, a number of other minions quite liked the idea of playing doctors and nurses, and have been training under him. I figured I should keep an eye on them, so have found myself an advisory role in Raphael's so-called 'Red Cross'.

Josiah looks contemplative. I talk of our recent expansion into new, larger premises, our recent recruitment drive (“You know, if you wanted to work among familiar faces, I could put in a good word…”), and our mad attempts to stay impartial in the recently initiated Pantheon-Union war. Then he cuts to the point.

The mood changes in an instant. “You made him forget everything, didn't you? He doesn't recognise you, or me, or any of us. And more than that, you made him good again. You crafty bastard. But how?”

He stands up and continues. “Your memory hacking does not work here, you know that? I have tried. I smuggled some of your little mind-corruption devices out of our empress's Tower, but none of them work properly.” Uncharacteristically, his voice begins to quiver. “The technologists cannot see how the patterns ever worked; they are all flawed, all broken. They told me I was wasting their time.”

I try to begin explaining my observations about the inexplicable but evident impossibility of mind control in the City, but he interrupts me, raising his voice to unsociable levels. (However, the other patrons of the teahouse appear to be too distracted to care.) “I have tortured people, just like you used to; I broke them, and the fractals still did nothing to them!”

Hoping to quiet him down, I rise from my seat. “Josiah, I think you're -”

Catching me by surprise, he pushes me backwards; I fall over, then begin to scramble away from what I see behind him. The last thing I hear him shout at me is intriguing: “All the devices did was make me remember everything I lost!”

A ship smashes into the teahouse, as Baron von Ranheid crashes most spectacularly out of the river race.

Everything descends into chaos. The most I can do is escape before I am crushed, drowned or burned. When the dust settles, Josiah is nowhere to be seen - I suspect a new corpse is to float down the river tonight.

I vow to avoid the Floating Market in the future.

About a month after the final Riette Convention: the ex-technician sits in a spacious office, high up in a great Tower - an imposing hospital-fortress.

Memories make us who we are.

Memories are valued in the Tower of the Red Cross, and elsewhere in our sprawling medical organisation. Where lesser people would use expressions of force to change people's minds, we have used the power of storytelling, uniting the City with its recollections of the past.

Recent Red Cross efforts have been a resounding success. A less loyal team might have doubted the wisdom of Raphael's attempt to make citizens across the whole City more tolerant and understanding using little more than posters, pamphlets, and the stories of every person willing to sit down and tell us what they remember. But we knew it would work. Well, at least, everyone else did. Particularly the ex-Tower lot, who show complete faith in any leader they respect. And I was cautiously optimistic, which is more than I can say about some of Raphael's previous schemes.

I put the comfy seat in Raphael's office to a thoroughly relaxing test. Dr Howe, one of the City's most prominent mad scientists, is now the head of the Red Cross; however, I suspect he will have little interest in the minutiae of running things, leaving me as de facto leader. Looking around, I begin to suspect that I will need the help of a small army of clerks to make sense of Raphael's paperwork, which occupies most of the carpet.

As I wonder how I can make this office less of a bottleneck for the entirety of Red Cross information processing, the office's old owner walks in, back from Dr Howe's laboratory. Stepping between the remnants of his disorganisation, Raphael looks at me quizzically. “So, it was you,” he declares.

I put on the most convincing look of bafflement that I can muster, but in my heart, I know that the game is up. Besides, I also know he will forgive me for everything I have done - I programmed him to be forgiving. The City's mind control prevention only prevents him from being psychologically adjusted again - his memories may now be complete, but the City prevents the new memories from truly changing who he is. (The exact nature of 'sentient identity', as apparently protected by the City, remains unclear.)

We talk about everything that brought us to this point. His recollection of the past is perfect, unlike mine; whatever Aki's magic and Dr Howe's technomancy did was far more restorative than I thought physically possible. (Admittedly, I should have learned by now that many in the City redefine the definition of 'possible' on a regular basis.) He asks about what I did to the minds of other minions before the Tower fell, especially those among his staff who he finally remembers from before the City; as I explain the full extent of my meddling, he nods pensively.

Once I have told him all he wants to know of my involvement, he asks me straightforwardly: “Do you have any regrets?”

I shake my head. “Of course not. The rebellion figured I would make a better agent if I were incapable of regret.”

We exchange weary stares, each reflecting on how the past has eternally enslaved us. A moment passes, then he turns and leaves without another word. Through the office door, I glimpse Gabrielle, who looks cheerful, but eager to get going.

Finally, the door swings shut, and I am left to conduct the affairs of my little benevolent empire in peace, until time gets the better of me.

bio/raphael.txt · Last modified: 2012/03/16 23:12 by elliew
Except where otherwise noted, content on this wiki is licensed under the following license:CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported