Tam Starling's Questionnaire

1. What town or city do you live in? Why do you live there instead of anywhere else? Describe your home.

Link Answered after Contract 1, Achluophobia

I live in Seattle.  In Washington. As if you'd think of any other 'Seattle' when I said that, but whatever.  Why do I live there?  Because my parents live there.  Dumb question.  I was born here and I'm... probably not going to grow old here, but you know.

Describe it?  We live in a nice, safe gentrified neighborhood.  We have a white picket fence and two cars in the driveway.  I go to an above average school because my parents moved here mostly for the school.

It rains a lot.  I like the rain, though. I go for walks sometimes in it.  And I went up the space needle once.  It's a really nice view.  Food was amazing, too.  But home... home is nice.  Home is safe.

2. How do you get your money right now? What do you spend it on?

Link Answered after Contract 1, Achluophobia

Ehhhh.  I get money here and there...  I get a good bit from scholarships and stuff, being on the fencing team.  There's.. okay, fine.  I guess I get most of it sorta as an allowance.  My parents got me a credit card to teach me the value of money.  I'm supposed to explain what I spend it on every month, but they don't check and as long as I keep doing excellent in school and don't come home all banged up I don't think there will be any questions.

 

What do I spend it on?  Right now, I guess outfitting myself for these crazy adventures. Do you have any idea how expensive a plate carrier is?  But other than that.. I don't know.  A lot of it just goes into my bank account. 

3. Describe your Ambition. What are you striving for? How far would you go to achieve this? Would you kill for it? How close to death would you come for it?

Link Answered after Contract 1, Achluophobia

"I want to make a safe world.  For everyone.  Where the evil and wicked are punished.  Is that so much to ask?"   She shakes her head a little.  "That's all I'm striving for.  One in that evil people get what's coming to them.  But... we don't live in that world. Not yet, at least.  So maybe someone else has to do something to do it.  And that's going to be me, I guess.  What's the saying?  'If not you, who?'.  I guess it's me."

How far would I go?  As far as I need to.  I already faced vampires, or something like them, in the darkness.  How much worse can it get?  And.. it doesn't matter.  Whatever's required, I can do it.  Would I kill for it?   Depends.  Do they need killing?

I don't know if I could like... kill someone innocent who didn't deserve it.  But if they did, I could.

How close to death would I come?

I'd... rather not find out.

4. What was the most defining event of your life (before signing The Contract), and how did it change you?

Link Answered after Contract 1, Achluophobia

Losing my hand.  I still remember that stupid day.  I was arrogant and clever and thought I knew everything.  I was good, too.  And I knew I was going to win. I flourished in a way I didn't need to, and... she stabbed my wrist.  It was illegal, she said it was an accident.  I know it wasn't. She twisted the bloody blade.  I screamed and went down, and... well, after it, my hand was all messed up.  Afterwards... when we were alone, she told me she did it on purpose.And she laughed about it.

So I stabbed her in the back. 

And I realized exactly how badly I'd fucked up while I was doing it.

And I also realized how good it felt to do something about it.

I cleaned up the scene as much as I could, mussed the evidence, but it's hard to hide a crime of passion.

I'm just waiting for the day the police show up at my door...

5. Name and briefly describe three people in your life. One must be the person you are closest to.

Link Answered after Contract 1, Achluophobia

"Three people in my life?  Uhh...

Well, I guess my mom, my dad, and Sarah. "

I guess I'm closest to my mom.  She's sorta always been there for me.  And.. I mean, I do laundry sometimes, but... she cooks most of the meals, and stuff, and... still checks up on my homework and stuff.  It's going to be hard hiding my injuries from her if I do end up injured on one of these jobs.  Which I mean, it feels like there's every chance of that.

But I love my dad too.  He's.... kind of a derp, but he's always been there for me too.  He does his best, and stuff.  He keeps a roof over our heads and us in a nice house and such.

Fuck.  What are they going to think if I get arrested for murder?  I need to make sure that doesn't happen.

Third?  Sarah.  She's... I don't know.  I met her in freshman year, and she's clever, and funny, and puts up with me.  She's special to me.

6. How was your childhood? Who were your parents? What were they like? Did you attend school? If so, did you fit in? If not, why not?

Link Answered after Contract 1, Achluophobia

"In a word?  'Regimented.'  My parents had expectations, and I was expected to meet them.  They weren't ever abusive, certainly.  Just... driven.  I am fifteen years old, and I am.... well, it sounds arrogant.  But one of the smartest people in the world, I think.  I can play three instruments, and am passable on two more.  Anything less than 100% on a test is effectively considered a failure. I'm one of the best fencers on the team.  I can do a lot of things.  My childhood was spent learning things.  Play time was... typically not a big part of the schedule.

So yeah.  Did I attend school?  Yeah.  One of the best in the country. My parents moved specifically to be in its catchment area.   And I did well in my classes, and the fencing program, and the music program..  Did I fit in? Yeah, sorta.  I know how to talk to people and stuff.  I never went out of my way to be super popular, but I was popular enough.

7. Have you ever been in love? With who? What happened? If not, why not?

Link Answered after Contract 1, Achluophobia

...No...

...Fine.  Maybe sorta.  I don't know.  Sarah is... special to me.  I spend a lot of time with her - and.. you know, the time I can spend.  We do homework together, and go out together, and... I don't know.  She makes me make bad decisions.   I guess I never really saw myself as being in love - especially with another girl - but... I think I am with her.  She puts up with me, and I can make her laugh, and I really like the sound of it, and... I like the way she... everythings.

I'm usually more eloquent.  She takes that away from me.

8. What are your worst fears? Why?

Link Answered after Contract 3, There Will Be Blood

Dying, to a degree. 

Mmm.

Maybe not, actually. 

Being arrested is more like it, actually.

At least being dead means it's.. kinda done, right?  Nothing more to worry about.  All of the problems left are for other people at that point. Not that I'm looking forward to death, certainly.  I'm quite happy for that to be a long time away from now.  But it's just... simpler, in a lot of ways.  Plus, if I die on one of these stupid jobs I probably just vanish.  I get to make the rounds on the news for a couple of weeks as a missing white girl before... well.  I'd hate to hurt my parents, and Sarah, and my fencing team, and...

Well, I guess that's why being arrested is worse. It'll still hurt my parents, and Sarah, and the fencing team and everyone, and it's a spectacle.  I hate being a spectacle.  That, and having someone else have power over me.  I hate that. But I'm pretty good at taking care of things I fear, I guess.  Just have to do figure out how to do it without... collateral damage.

I can feel it getting closer, though. I have a feeling I'm going to have to do something soon, one way or another.

9. What is (are) your most prized possession(s)? What makes it (them) so special?

Link Answered after Contract 3, There Will Be Blood

Probably my gloves.

I got them just when my parents enrolled me into fencing, and... well, I've worn them since then.  They're good leather, and my hands haven't grown much and they've kinda stretched a bit so they still fit wonderfully.  And... I don't know.  They just.. they represent a lot to me.  Order, discipline, practice.

And when it comes to it, violence.

The swords maybe, but I've switched swords a bunch.  The gloves have stayed the same. 

I don't really have a lot of other possessions that are super special to me.  My parents are wealthy, and have given me a bunch of stuff, but... it's just stuff, right? I don't know.  Maybe I'm not being mushy enough.  I have a book that Sarah gave me.  Is it bad it doesn't come to mind when asked about prized possessions, but my first reaction is also 'I would hunt down and murder someone who damaged it in front of their family'?

I don't think I process emotions right. 

10. What is the biggest problem in your life right now?

Link Answered after Contract 3, There Will Be Blood

Probably the fact I'm looking down the barrel of arrest.  And.. fuck.  I really do not want to be arrested.  For multiple reasons. I know I'm a minor, but one of the times when they were trying to make me talk they were going on about it being premeditated enough they were going to try and charge me as an adult.  Fuck off.  It has hardly premeditated.  If it was, those idiots wouldn't have found anything linking back to me at all.  It was heat of the moment, and the cleanup afterward was panicked.

I don't have a lot else wrong in my life right now.  I have to pick out a birthday gift for Sarah.  I keep going towards something practical, but I'm pretty sure my instincts are wrong.  Sarah's told me she likes more sentimental things.  And... it's intellectually exhausting picking out something sentimental but meaningful.  That's hard!

11. Describe a typical morning. How do you get ready to face the world?

Link Answered after Contract 3, There Will Be Blood

I wake up to the sun rising.  I don't use an alarm clock, apparently it's better for your circadian rhythm to wake up naturally.  I always feel good when waking up in the morning, at least.  I get out of bed, have a shower, dress, meditate for five minutes, practice until breakfast.  Eat breakfast.  Get ready for school. 

I guess I don't think a ton about it, normally.  I've sorta had that routine for a long time.  The shower's nice, especially given I tend to sweat when I sleep.  Annoying.  Oh well. 

I tend to not drink coffee or anything.  I tried it once but it tasted pretty poor so never got into that habit.  Other than that... what do I really need to do to face the world?  I just get up and do it. Do most people need to do something to get ready to face the world?

12. If you were going somewhere special that you wanted to look your best for, what would you do to prepare? What would you wear? How long would it take you to get ready?

Link Answered after Contract 4, Savage

Well... I'd plan out what the event called for, of course.  Plan out clothing a week at least a week, preferably a month, in advance so I have time to acquire the right stuff and such.  Probably something high formal.  If I could get away with it, maybe my duelist's stuff.     I've been messing with outfits, and... I have a sort of high-noble duelist's outfit that I think looks really cool.   But yeah, getting ready probably takes multiple days doing research and such with how to do it right!  It's...  stressful, really, going on these contracts with so little prep. But I suppose it helps that I'm good working off the seat of my pants as well.

But even the day of, getting dressed, getting everything looking just right takes all day.  Although I'm  getting faster now that I don't have to actually, you know, use my hands... telekinesis is handy.

13. What will you do for your next birthday?

Link Answered after Contract 4, Savage

Ice cream.

It sucks, having to watch what you eat.  I really like ice cream.  And I mean, I burn a lot of calories in practice and stuff.  But.. not that many.  I still have to watch what I eat.  So, once a year...  I get to eat what I want.  That's just sort of the deal I have with myself.

So I'm going to eat enough ice cream to make myself sick on my birthday. 

And it'll be amazing.

Salted caramel praline ice cream is divine.

Other than that... I dunno. No real plans.  Maybe try to win the world fencing championship that year.

Maybe tell Sarah how I really feel. 

Probably not.

That's too scary, even for me.

I don't know what, otherwise.   Hopefully celebrate being done with this stupid police investigation.

But mostly... I'm looking forward to the ice cream.  Who can really object to ice cream?

14. What is your greatest regret?

Link Answered after Contract 6, Minutellus

I... don't regret a ton, really.  I make the best decisions that I can make at the time, and I can't really regret that, can I? I make the best possible choices, and just have to keep looking forward.

Do I regret killing that girl?  No.  I don't.  The only part I regret is doing it as a crime of passion, so it was messy. If I had been calm, if I had had time to think, I wouldn't be in this situation with the police breathing down my neck.

But I guess that's a coop-out.  Greatest regret?

Probably Ellie.  I.. think I made the best decisions at the time.  How was I supposed to know she had a suicide vest forced on her, and someone was watching and ready to detonate it?   I was ready for anything but that, and.. I watched her, and two of my teammates, die in front of me.

That's a pretty big regret.

15. What is the nature of your Gifts? Are they inherent potential? Do harbingers just grant your wishes?

Link Answered after Contract 6, Minutellus

Well.. it's certainly not just having wishes granted.  I shed blood for each one of these powers, and not just on the jobs.  I have to work and practice on them outside of the jobs, too.  My swordwork I practice, my telekinesis.. I use my powers whenever I can, and it's like a muscle. I just keep exercising it, and as I do, it gets stronger.

The electronics work I've been practicing, and it's what I've been trying to do constantly.  Reaching into the circuits and working inside of there, pressing on the electronics itself.  The exact nature?  Hard work and practice.. but maybe also just inherent.  What else can I say?

I'd like to say that it was all inherent, but... is that conceited?  That's fundamentally saying that something about me is just better than everyone else. 

...And is that true?  I'm...

Am I better than everyone else?

Maybe.

16. How do you feel about spirituality? Are you religious? What do you believe?

Link Answered after Contract 6, Minutellus

I don't know what I believe.

Before I started this, I would have said I was an atheist.   That it didn't make scientific sense to believe in anything else, even if we knew there was a bit of... well, I wouldn't say I'd have said it was magic, but.. let's say things not readily explainable by science yet.

And that was comforting.

And then, on the first one of these jobs, I met someone who could summon demons from hell, and, uh.  That threw my world view into a bit of a spin.

I don't know if I'm religious after seeing everything that I've seen, but.. uh, I'm more open to it.

I don't know if I want to be religious.

Because that would mean that I was going to hell at the end, wouldn't it?

And... well, for obvious reasons I'd rather not. 

I think I'd better hedge against it and just not die.

17. How do the events of the Contracts conflict with your worldview? How do you react when everything you thought was true is put in doubt?

Link Answered after Contract 6, Minutellus

Well. 

For one, I thought I was an atheist before starting the contracts.  Not anymore.  I also thought I had grown out of being afraid of the dark - not sure that's true anymore either.

That first job... I've started dreaming about it.  Being trapped in the dark and the cold with things in it that want to kill me. So.. how do I react when everything I thought was true is put into question?

Poorly, really.

I confess, I considered reacting with violence the first time it happened... and probably every time since then, honestly.  I haven't, though, which I think is a good sign.

Any other things that came into conflict.. hmm.  That the world is safe?  I dunno.  I don't know if I ever knew that, despite growing up in a gated neighbourhood.  My mother was always telling me there were dangers out there, that I had to keep myself safe.

Well.  I can certainly do that now.

18. Give a brief description of the other Contractors you see often. What do you like or dislike about them?

Link Answered after Contract 9, Fire In The Sky

Hmm... well, I think I've only seen one person more than once!  Harold Polk!  He's a lawyer!

He's also really weird.  He refuses to let me carry him, and then he tries to jump something, and he falls into it.  The first time it was just kinda funny, falling into the water... the second time was over a pit full of spikes, though, and he.. you know, kinda got impaled.  Which wasn't funny.   He did agree to let me pull him out of the pit though! 

I think he felt in debt or something, he sent me this kit of really nice stuff.   Even if he's weird around me.  Maybe he's afraid of touching people?

Other than that.. people who stand out? 

Loyabard.  No last name.  What a dork.  Probably a pervert. 

Ricter.  He's.. a good person.  I needed help with something, and he came and helped me without asking for anything in return.  I owe him one. 

19. Describe the perfect room.

Link Answered after Contract 9, Fire In The Sky

...The perfect room.  Interesting question.

Square, two hundred and fifty feet to a side.  Nineteen degrees. A roof ten feet tall. Plenty of shelves, and tablespace.  Probably a bed against one wall, a single pillow that has good neck support. Windows along one wall showing.. maybe a starscape.  Being in space would be nice, would need 0.9 gravity, though.  Or maybe just a green field.  Perhaps it would be best if it was just a screen, and I could choose the landscape.

Hardwood floors.  Musical instruments that I play.  A toolbench.  A powerful computer.

Bright yellow walls, bright blue walls. Maybe a bright red door.  Bright green moulding.

What can I say?  I like bright colours.

....

Maybe my pile of stuffed animals.

 

20. Everyone excels at something. What is your philosophy about the thing you are best at?

Link Answered after Contract 10, Skirmish

I excel at a great deal of things.  Music.  Science.  Math.

But what I'm truly best at?  Fencing.  Swordwork.  Violence.

And I'm really good at those. 

But I excel at everything.  That's just how my life is. I'm expected to be the best, and I am. Fencing is an art, though, and it's one I excel at.  One that I am truly the best at.  I was... I was one of the best before, but now..

I'm better than that.  I'm superhuman. My thoughts are... they're the only thing faster than by blades.  I think I can duel even the best swordsmen now and come out handedly on top.  Although... maybe there are supernatural swordsmen now?  Like me.  Perhaps I'm being a touch arrogant.  There must be other supernatural swordsmen out there.  So... to know I'm the best...  I just have to find them. 

And then I just have to beat them.

21. What do your Limits say about you? What would it take to make you break them?

Link Answered after Contract 10, Skirmish

I... that I'm not normal, probably.

I mean, most people find being tortured pretty stressful, the same with seeing terrible things.  I'm normal in that way, right?

But... As I understand, most people... don't want to kill people.  Like.. I've read on the internet. You're supposed to be torn up about killing someone, that you're supposed to have nightmares and such.

I don't.  I just.. I didn't feel anything.

Or maybe it's worse.  Maybe it felt good.

I don't know what to say about that.  Does it make me a bad person?  I.. try to be a good person.  I find it really stressful when I see people escape justice, and people just... escape justice all the time.  Right?  I just saw in the news that someone who was out on bail for three previous violent crimes killed someone.  That's... someone needs to do something about it.  If we can't trust the government to do something.

If not me, who?

22. Create a 7-song “soundtrack” that represents you. Include a brief explanation of why each song represents you.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cSNBGsPSHY - Fur Elise - Tam plays a number of instruments, but her first one was a violin.  It's still her favoured one.  Fur Elise is one of the practice pieces Tam learned, and she plays it regularly.  It is... relaxing, in a way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXRJBK8oJSA - Adagio for Strings - Tam's world changed forever when she was injured while dueling.  There was nothing really to do about it - but it still felt like her whole world was burning.  It took her a while to recover some to start going again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3T3ofoKfEoY - Night Running - Tam gets back into her routines.  Even the beginning of the contracts don't change them that much - she puts her headphones on, and listens, and works. Practices, hones her skills, becoming more than she is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IIniEWky64 - When The Weak Go Marching In - Tam gets back to dueling, and her skills have sharpened even more from the contracts.  She doesn't only duel in the ring anymore, of course.  She crosses swords with other entities every month too, on the Contracts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iHobVQzjw1g - Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) - Tam's skills further increase, her mind growing more.  All secrets reveal themselves to her.  She continues to become more aggressive.  She was already aggressive, but it intensifies.  More and more.  But with it brings a certain clarity of purpose.  She knows what she has to do.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n_Ae9DGC0U - Starship Velociraptor - Tam continues to hunt out great things, and development.  People offer her great things, and she has to decide what choices she makes.  There's so many choices available, and so many things happen. It's exciting, though, and there's always movement, and.. new things that she didn't expect happening.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpnW68Q8ltc - The Only Thing They Fear Is You - Tam is an avenging angel, and is ready to engage the darkness without hesitation or doubt.  When the fighting begins... there's nothing but the Thrill of battle.