Part of Petticoats & Pipe Wrenches.

Continued from this post on the Notebook Pages.

While the majority of her exposure to mortals had thus far been limited to her creator, her short-lived lover and temporary shipmates, and Thrimble’s brigands, Edelweiss had nonetheless picked up on the idiosyncrasies of mortal expectations. Specifically, how to manipulate them.

The motivations of mortals were often limited to fulfilling one of their bodily needs or another, which Edelweiss counted as far more numerous than her own. Expectations were a more complicated affair, and frequently stemmed from petty illusions nurtured in their fleshy control centers.

Combined, motivations and expectations were limited by the ability of biological sensory organs, less sophisticated and prone to damage, and the capacity of their control centers to calculate. Her creator had enormous calculation potential. The brigands under Thrimble’s command had far, far less.

The smaller the range of variables to account for, the easier it was for Edelweiss to manipulate the expectations of the flesh-bags, and the easier it was for her to assert control and issue orders that were readily acknowledged and carried out.

After Edelweiss had taken command of Thrimble’s vessel, she had seen fit to restrict the crew’s access to intoxicating beverages to increase their effectiveness, and further, limit their access to weaponry with which they might attempt to retake control of the airship. The first of their desperate retaliations had been a calculated risk.

Once she had disarmed the mutineers, careful not to wound them such that they would be unable to perform their shipboard duties, Edelweiss determined that the demonstration would spread understanding of her authority. The fact that her body required neither food nor rest should have compounded the knowledge.

The failure of the crew’s ability to disseminate the revised command structure was marked by a sharp decline in their ability to formulate and execute a successful operation to eliminate her command. She rewarded them by removing the restriction on intoxicating beverages.

Edelweiss had concluded that the illusion of choice was important for the maintenance of a functioning organization of mortals. Once presented with the choice between performing tasks poorly and attacking her person, the pirates seemed disinclined toward the latter.

She was forced to acknowledge an improvement in the overall performance of the crew following the second attack on her, in spite of clear evidence of failing efficiency on an individual basis. She noted the anomaly and moved on with tests.

Creating a control group among the crew, Edelweiss discovered that when she instructed her orders be carried out in a specific manner, the crew performed less efficiently than when simply given a task and goal. The flesh-bags were predisposed to finding the most efficient method of achieving an assigned goal.

By the time the third attack on her person came to pass, Edelweiss estimated that malcontents occupied the minority of the crew, and that only one more attack would occur before the ship made port. The pirates were no longer implementing environmental advantages and were without determination.

Having by that point established her clear superiority in combat, Edelweiss gave the crew freedom to carry openly displayed weapons to complement the concealed weapons they had carried despite her earlier restrictions, a move which served the purpose of removing any motivation to disobey her further.

The fourth and final attempt came from Thrimble’s first mate. Edelweiss had previously calculated that the man was easily manipulated by Captain Thrimble, and she wounded him only when he refused to back down after having been repeatedly disarmed. Even then, she only wounded him only enough to prevent another attack.

Now standing on the platform and looking back on the ship, Edelweiss estimated that were she capable of reproducing illusions like regret, a mortal in her position might presently be harboring that very illusion.

Thrimble’s pirates had proved an adequate testing ground for her to determine the stress limits her body could handle in combat situations, and that would inevitably prove valuable, much as the data she had collated on mortal expectations.