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A note from Crash Snowdon

And now a brief diversion!

This week had an extra update, so make sure you didn't miss chapter 24!

Also don't miss the surprise project: the new Prelude at the start of the story, if you want to read a flash-forward.  Or you can choose not to read it and wait without missing out.

Divvo eyed the stack of cased resin platters on the desk before him. He was in for a late evening of editing for sure. As a junior cleric, his duties were whatever his superiors ordered, and he had the mixed blessing of having proven himself skilled at this task. The process of resin editing required a great deal of delicate work with intricate machinery, a good ear, attention to detail, excellent memory, and the patience of a mother.

The young man ran a gentle finger down the stack, checking the labels on the cases. While there were more than he preferred to see, this time they were all in order and bore properly time-stamped annotations. He was very pleased to see that, as such details made his job simpler and faster.

Reaching over the editing desk, Divvo carefully flipped a bank of switches in turn. Valves in compressed air hoses were opened, needles on dials turned, clutches connecting wheels to axles engaged, and intricate sets of gears began to rotate, governed by a rocking pendulum. He watched flywheels spin up while waiting for the dials to reach optimum levels. In spite of the great number of moving parts, the sound produced was minimal. The entire setup was very carefully constructed to prevent or dampen any vibrations and muffle all sounds.

Once everything was up to speed or pressure, Divvo pulled on his ear-shells and plugged in their air hose, making sure the output was isolated so there were no deafening surprises. Now ready to work, he slipped the first resin out of its case and placed it delicately on the primary input platter. A push of a button engaged the playback needle.

"And I am her younger sister, Xue Mei," said a voice, unsurprisingly young and female. There was a second's pause, followed by, "And I am her younger sister, Xue Mei!" with slightly more exuberance. "But... Fiiiine. And I am her little sister, Xue Mei. Ugh, really? And I am her little sister, Xue Mei!"

Divvo picked up the sheaf of scrawled paper notes which accompanied the stack of resin recordings. As expected, he found a prominently marked instruction to 'definitely use the fourth version of XM's intro'.

The recording continued with three versions of Xue Mei saying, "And Xue Mei," for the outro. He would have to use his own judgement to decide which one fit best.

The second platter held a few minutes of recordings, also of Xue Mei's voice. "Yes, it is. Yes, it is such a blessing! Yes, such a blessing! That is correct! That is correct. That is just what I was thinking. That is exactlywhat I was thinking! Mhmm. Mhm. Mmhmm. Yes. Yes! Yes, yes. Really? Really? Really? Really? Hmmmmm. Hmmmmm! Hmm. Mmm. Mmm? Hmmm? Huh. Huh? What, really? Really. Really. Severely!

"Yes, tell us. You tell us! You tell her, sister! I was thinking the same thing. Amazing! Amazing, I was thinking the same thing! Amazing, I was just about to ask that! Yes, I was just wondering that too. Oh, really? Oh! Oh? Go on. Oh no she did not! Oh no! She really did that? She really said that? You really heard someone say that? Who says that? Who does that?

"Are you certain? Are you certain? Is that true? Is that so? True! That is the truth! Truth, sister! For certain, the Codex backs all that up. Yes, we can know that from the Codex. Well that is not very Pure of her. Yes, the Great Maker has a great plan for us! Well, the Codex certainly did not say that when I last read it, and we all know the Great Maker's word does not change. Yes, it does. It does! They do! Yes, they do. That would be a problem. That sounds like a problem. That sounds like a severe problem. That sounds like it could become a severe problem.

"No you can't be ser... oh I'm rec— Yes, that is something we ladies should all be concerned about. This is so dumb, I don't even know what I'm respo— How fascinating. How fascinating! How simply fascinating! Make me say 'fascinating' one more time and I'll show you how fascinating my fist— Yes, definitely. For sure, moderation is so important to— For sure, moderation is such an important attribute for women to practice at all times. No, I wasn't being sarc— For sure, moderation is quite an important attribute to women for continue... Ugh, that was awful! For sure, moderation is quite an important attribute for women to continually practice.

"Really, what is that? Oh really, what is that? Oh, what is that for? What is it called that for? Oh, why is it named that? What am I even talking about? Whoop— Yes, so do not miss out! Make sure you do not miss out! Be careful not to miss out. Be careful not to miss out! Be sure not to miss out! I would not want to miss out!"

Divvo groaned. While this was fairly typical, that still meant it would be a nightmare getting all the right takes cued up at the right times. While some were grouped, a lot of the responses were in no particular order, so working out where everything fit best would be a process and a half. Hopefully there would be enough responses to cover all the prompts, or else he would have to dig into the archives for unused clips which fit well enough. And that was always difficult because of variances in quality and background sound and voice changes. But the alternative was doubling up on responses, and that risked people noticing the repetition.

The quality of most of that was sufficient, and now Divvo had a good idea of what he was working with. Now it was time for the main content. He switched to the third resin.

"Welcome ladies and girls of purity! I am your host, Kim Riggs. Welcome, ladies and girls of purity! This is your host, Kim Riggs. Ladies and girls of purity, welcome to today's show. I am your host, Kim Riggs. Maker bless, women of purity! I am your host, Kim Riggs. Welcome to today's episode of Woman Purified! Welcome to today's episode of, Woman Purified. Welcome, to an all new episode of Woman Purified!"

Figuring out which of those takes worked best together and with Xue Mei's rseponse was going to be a nuisance, Divvo could already tell.

"We are so blessed to be able to record together as sisters. But remember, ladies, we are all sisters, united by rail. And now, the show! On with the show! Let the show begin! This is our second episode for this week, which means this is a news episode! As this is the second episode of the week, it is a news episode. Hold onto your hats, ladies! Ladies, hold onto your hats. This is the second episode of the week, making it a news episode, and the news is severely bad."

Divvo would call that a massive understatement. The city had met with death, destruction, subterfuge, betrayal, escape, and likely more evils yet undiscovered. He listened through Missus Riggs' rather dry accounting of the recent days' tragedies. There were no surprises.

"Our deepest sympathies go out to everyone who has been impacted by these tragic losses. Our deepest sympathies are with each person who was touched by tragedy and loss. To those who have experienced loss and tragedy, know that you have our deepest sympathies." By the third variation, the perfectly repeated emotional undertones ceased to sound quite so convincing.

"And that brings us to the main topic for today: friendship. That brings us to today's main topic: friendship. We have spoken at length about the value of strong friendships between women. We have so much to teach one another about how to best fulfill the Great Maker's plan for femininity. However, today, we must warn you severely against friendships with the wrong sort of women." This was a turn Divvo had not expected at all.

"If the current events have taught us anything, it is that rebellion leads to tragedy. The foundation of a good, Maker-blessed marriage is respect. We must build that foundation of respect if we are to have peaceful, happy, and successful marriages. Respect starts long before marriage, when we are small girls. We must learn respect for our brothers and especially our fathers, so we can each truly and properly respect our husband from the moment we meet him. It is very important then, that we watch out for signs of disrespect in other girls. Disrespect and rebellion against fatherly and clerical authority is a serious matter!" Chunks of this rant repeated a few times with varying amounts of fervor.

"I must confess that I have been remiss in this area of my own life. While I would not dare to follow any examples of disrespect or rebellion in my friends, I now realise that I should have done more to report and correct signs of dangerous attitudes in some of my friends. Some, I now realise I should have distanced myself from. It is only by the Great Maker's mercy that I was not caught up in the punishment he dealt them most severely for their secret impurity." Divvo frowned. Was Missus Riggs really pushing her former friends in front of the train? Actually, now that he thought about it a little more, this was exactly what he should have expected.

"Here are some warning signs you should look out for. One: inattention. If your friend regularly fails to pay proper attention to lessons and teachings of the clerics, but is instead lost in her own thoughts, that is a sign that she does not truly respect the Maker's ways. Two: overachieving. Girls who strive to be flawless in too many things may be trying to hide secret flaws and rebellion in their lives. Three: boundaries. Girls who seek knowledge outside the sphere of womanhood are not respecting the Maker's boundaries. Watch out for girls or women who know things you were never taught, who answer before their brothers, who listen too closely to men's business, or who peek in books that are not assigned to them. Four: disinterest. While we have warned you many times about the dangers of obsession, you must also beware its opposite. Total disinterest in homemaking or marriage prospects, complains about feminine attire, aversion to cosmetics and such are just a few examples of this problem. The Great Maker is prepared to severely punish women who do not show proper interest and appreciation for the blessings he has assigned to them."

Divvo hated numbered lists. The numbering actually made it much harder to edit if he had to move parts around.

"Fifth: a tendency to engage in unladylike behaviour. Preferences for running, shouting, and looking at machinery are signs of trouble you should definitely watch out for. Sixth: not displaying a nurturing nature. If your friend refuses to help feed your cat, there is definitely something wrong with her! There are no excuses! Fish are food, not people, Chal— Fish are food, not people!" Divvo appreciated the extra take, as cutting mid-sentence never sounded right.

"Seventh: discontent. If your friend is in a hurry to move off to some larger city, she may be trying to reach beyond her station instead of being happy with what the Great Maker assigned her. Or perhaps she has a problem in her life which she refuses to resolve and thinks she can outrun it. That's a sign that she might completely rebel and betray the Pure altogether! Eighth: clinginess to other girls. A girl should be pleased to see her friends, but acting like they are more important to her than her own family is dangerous and unseemly. Ninth: clinginess to family. A girl will never become a woman if she never leaves her mother's shadow. She must prepare to become part of a new household and start a new family, and that means being ready to let go. Do not let girls who are afraid of change stunt your own vital growth! And ten: trying to find ways around the rules. You know what purity means, and the principles apply regardless— And those are the nine principles we have time for today!"

There had to be a story behind whatever was interrupted at the end there, but Divvo knew he would most likely never find out. There were probably some interesting stories behind all the points in the list, but it was none of Divvo's business. He knew he would not be hearing any of this if a woman could be allowed to operate the editing equipment.

The editing office was growing dim. Divvo removed his ear-shells and stood up to fill the lanterns. This would definitely be a long night.

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Crash Snowdon

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