john_amend_all
Commenting To 
4th-Jul-2017 11:09 pm - Fic commentary: Recruit
john_amend_all: (ulkesh)

[personal profile] lost_spook also suggested I might like to explain what I thought I was doing with Recruit.

I think it originally started when I read the officially canon B5 novel To Dream In The City Of Sorrows. That has a number of scenes where Kosh and Ulkesh are both present and interact, and Sinclair has the opportunity to contrast them. Then a bit later I read the fic The Gardener, which mentions Kosh secretly studying humanity (and other races). That led to the thought that the Vorlons must have been operating covertly on Earth in the 1890s, because they managed to scoop up Jack the Ripper and put him on ice. So I started wondering what their operation would look like from the point of view of a human working for them.

From there, I pretty much jumped to the scene in The Man Who Was Thursday, where Syme meets the Man In The Dark Room. Except that the Chief my recruit would be meeting wouldn't be a celestial being (though he could do a good impression of one). He'd be a Vorlon of the do-what-you're-told-or-else school of thought — to whit, Ulkesh. The recruit would be a woman because what Ulkesh wants to use her for is bait. Have her wander the streets (possibly with part of him lurking in her mind) and see what sort of attention she draws.

That decided, the outline of the fic took shape pretty rapidly. At first I thought that the Vorlon and his minions would be attached to the police force, but I couldn't see Ulkesh settling for that; whatever was going on, he'd want to be in charge. So I made his organisation standalone and the official police useless.

And by that point, I began to realise just how little anyone who wasn't Ulkesh would know about the whole thing. He's got a few loyal (and possibly brainwashed) humans who might have an inkling, but to a novice like Daisy he'd just be a voice and a scary presence in the dark. And from there I decided to post the fic untagged and see if anyone did realise who he was. I've mentioned before that there are some fics that don't play well with a tagging system; if all the characters are OCs except one Myles Tar, then tagging for 'The Master' rather gives the game away. I thought this was one such fic — I was obviously being far too obscure for my own good.

I'll comment on a couple of passages:

"What d'you want?" she asked sharply.

"Never you mind that," the man said. His voice sounded more educated than his appearance would have suggested. "Care to answer a few questions, miss?"

Daisy looked at him more closely. "Who are you? Police?"

"Not exactly." He glanced around. "But we're concerned about this fellow going around killing young women. This Alice Sands, who was she?"

"She was just a working girl. I didn't know her that well." The anger and frustration suddenly burst out of Daisy. "But she didn't deserve to have some toff slit her throat for her!"

The man appeared unmoved. "No, she didn't. So why'd you go to the police? Revenge, was it? Wanted to see him hanged?"

As [personal profile] daibhidc spotted, the first two questions Daisy asks Ulkesh's minion (and his reaction to them) are significant. Note also his first question about the murdered woman, Alice, and the circumlocutions when he's questioning Daisy about her motives and can't ask her straight out what she wants.

Once Daisy had told all she knew, her original companion had brought her a bowl of soup, and then led her to a similarly bare room, a dormitory containing a neat row of straw palliasses.

As we know from Lyta's experience, Ulkesh doesn't like his subordinates to have anything that isn't essential.

I did try to record a commentary track, but...

Daisy: Hi, I'm Daisy, and I play the hooker with a heart. And with me I've got...

Ulkesh: [Heavy breathing]

Daisy: Ain't you going to tell them your name?

Ulkesh: ~No.~

Daisy: Oh, well, he's called Ulkesh. We had some great laughs together in rehearsal, didn't we?

Ulkesh: ~No.~

Daisy: Anyway, this is the scene where he asks me all them questions in the dark. It was pretty tricky, 'cos I couldn't see my mark. Bumped into the door one time. Hang on, Bill's just come in with tea and biscuits. Thanks, love, I was dying for a cuppa. What about you, Ulkesh?

Ulkesh: [Heavy breathing]

Daisy: Come on, there's ginger snaps and custard creams. What d'you want?

Ulkesh: ~Never ask that question!~

[Screaming...]

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