The Stars Are Right: The Irish Rose: Rhyner Interview

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Personal Interview, Hannelore Rhyner and Frank Lovejoy[edit]

2 September 1932

Unsurprisingly he takes you straight back to the building you just left. The boy knocks, then opens the door and holds it for you.

Things are not too different from when you were here before. The dishware has been cleared away, and another carafe of water and new glasses sit in their place. The bottle of brandy is still there, as well as the scattering of papers. The fire has burnt down a bit, and the lamps throw pools of light across the table, leaving the rest of the room in dim shadows. Hannelore Rhyner looks up when you enter, setting aside a pen and paper. Regarding you frankly from where she sits.

"Mr. Lovejoy. Thank you for coming. I wasn't sure you'd accept." She makes a gesture towards the nearby chairs around the table. "Please, be as comfortable as you can." Her voice is warm without being intimate.

Lovejoy tips his hat, not without irony, and slouches into a chair. He makes a little ceremony of taking out his notebook, turning to a fresh page, licking his pen. "So," he says. "You wanted to see me?"

A Difference of Philosophy[edit]

A fleeting expression of bemusement crosses her face, as she folds her hands on the table top. "Mr. Lovejoy, I prefer honesty over politeness, even as I recognize there is a proper place and time for both. I'm going to make some presumptions, and I hope you will correct me any place that I get things wrong. You seem to have little or no personal stake in what happens to us as a whole. I suspect that if you never came back to the Seelie Court - it would be of little consequence to you. As a newspaper man, there must be -- as they say -- 'bigger fish to fry', outside in the Shallow World. Corruption, greed, scandal, wrong doing to redress . . . yet . . ."

She pauses, and the brief smile is disarming. "I find you consistently mixed up with us. Risking your life in some cases to be of value to people whom you have little in common . . . and I suspect . . . probably don't even like much. Doctor Parkhurst sets great store by your integrity. I can understand, and certainly appreciate a man who does not compromise his integrity. What I have a more difficult time understanding is why." She tilts her head just a bit to regard you with open appraisal. "Mr. Lovejoy, why are you bothering at all about us?"

He spreads his hands. "You're not wrong. Most of what I've seen here paints all of you as freaks, crazies, outcasts and monsters. You hold yourself above and beyond people while relying on them for survival in ways that are ... parasitic isn't a kind word." (You see a moment of indignation at this. She starts to say something - but then doesn't.) "Far as I can tell you're a danger to yourselves and others -- but that's okay. That's what I make my living on. I don't like you, but that doesn't mean I can't sympathize with you. And then I'm a journalist. Maybe not a good one, and certainly not a well-paid one, but I try. And partly that means being willing to look, and listen, and delay judgment."

He leans forward. "And you're people. You may not think you're human -- or that you're some different kind of human, I don't know -- but humanity's not a badge you turn in just because you get sick or are born different or on anyone's say so. That makes you part of my crowd, part of everyone's crowd. You -- some of you -- live in my city. You're friends or enemies with some of my friends or enemies. When you pull out your knives and your hoodoo and your claws and go to war with whoever it is, some of that plays out in my city, or my country, or my world. Should I look away from that just because I don't like you?"

"I don't like these Jewish punks and their friends that have been running Detroit into the ground since before Volstead got his bright idea, but should I look away from them, too? Should I not talk to them, listen to them, write about them, just because I don't like 'em and they don't like me? You talk about bigger fish to fry, and maybe they're bigger than you are, or maybe not, but I tell you I'm not the only one covering that particular beat, and I seem to be the only one covering this one."

"You say I've put my neck out for you, and I guess that's maybe true, but it ain't anything I wouldn't do for anyone else. Axler, maybe he'll drop me in the lake and good riddance to me, but if Capone made off with his wife and I knew about it I'd pass the word along. He asks me to come watch the fireworks I'd say sure. It'd wind up in the papers and I'd tell the Hart's boys about it before anything happened, but I'd go. I don't see as how you folks are much different." He leans back. "'Course, I don't know as you're much better, either, but I guess that what I'm here looking to find out."

During the whole of your speech, you feel her gaze. The more you speak, the more intense her attention focuses on you. She leans forward, watching every nuance of your body language, weighing the words as if their content holds some deeper meaning. It is quite flattering . . . and perhaps just a bit unnerving. Silence falls between the two of you for a few moments. She relaxes just a bit, with a small nod.

"Fair enough." the words are soft, yet you hear the strength beneath them. "Your candor is much the more valued for it's lack of varnish . That you don't sugar coat any of it . . . is refreshing." flicker of a smile, quickly gone. "Much of your assessment is correct. The Seelie are insulated here, caught up in their own small circles of social ritual. That people . . . like you . . . " a gesture towards you pointedly, "brand them 'freaks and monsters' is one of the compelling reasons that this place was constructed. A haven, to live in peace and raise their Children."

A sigh, as she looks for exactly the right words. "The many faults that you point out are partially due to the Condition, partially due to past history and traditions . . . and partially due to simple human failings. These are not excuses, they are just facts, just the way things are. Which I assure you - are much better now than ever before. But of course you have no way to judge - having never been exposed to what they were before . . ." She trails off into silence, looking away from you for the first time, to some place that seems to be in the distant past. A blink or two, before she pulls her thoughts back to the here and now.

"I'm not offended that you don't like the Seelie. And I'm not offended that you apparently don't like me either. I think that people can still find common cause, even if their personalities are in conflict. Moreover, I'm not entirely sure that the Seelie need to prove themselves to you. Though your good opinion certainly has value to me. Given that the conflict we face is larger and more sweeping than all of our small concerns put together. There will be opportunity enough then for evidence that the Seelie have not 'turned in their badge'." The turn of phrase evidently appeals to her.

"I appreciate all that you've done, and all that you've risked in helping them. Even if it is something you'd do for anyone, the Seelie have few enough people willing to get involved with their concerns. I hope you find whatever you need to give you a better opinion of them. A certain sense of my own pride is rather tied up in that, I fear." She looks down at her hands briefly, somewhat embarrassed at the confession. Then, eyes up to you again. "And of course, I'd offer to answer any questions you'd like to ask. But then, all of my answers would be suspect on some level - would they not?" You can tell she is perhaps teasing you just a bit.

"Mr. Lovejoy, despite all of the differences between us, there are some things that still remain fundamentally the same. Respect. Truthfulness. Honesty. Someday, I'd like to add friendship to that list . . . but I know that will be a long time in coming - if ever."

Lovejoy snorts. "Don't get me wrong. I don't think you're monsters on account of anything you are, but what you do. Is Dr. Parkhurst less of a monster than Abe Axler? More? Than Capone? Than Chancellor Hitler? Is Farbeque? Vishnevsky?" He turns his hands over noncomitally. "As for trusting you, well, I don't expect you to be any more honest than any other mayor, queen or potentate. You've got more people than just yourself to worry about, and that sort of responsibility breeds its own standards of honesty. You tell me your story and we'll see where it fits with everyone else's." Lovejoy smiles, broadly and toothily. "Pile up enough lies from enough different people and you start to see the shape of things underneath." He spins his pen around his fingers and raises his eyebrows. "So. Who killed Macklin?"

Who Killed Danny Macklin?[edit]

Without missing a beat, she replies, "Vladimir Zavanov. He is an agent working for a woman named Madeline Usher. He has a brother named Anton who was high amongst the Russian alchemists, but Anton was disbarred . . . or thrown out . . . or whatever it is that alchemists do to one of their members they don't want anymore. Madeline Usher is one of the Elders. It's very possible that Vladimir has been given Birthright . . . but I haven't been able to confirm that." It's now her turn to give you the raised eyebrows, watching to see how you react to the information.

"You might as well know - because you'll hear it from someone eventually - that Madeline's brother Roderick was also an Elder. Roderick was also my consort when the Seelie Court was first constructed. It was a marriage of equals and of friends... but nothing more. Together we put in place all of the traditions and rules that govern those who choose to live here.

"Assuming all things stay as they are. It is likely that after the Incursion in October... Roderick's adopted daughter - Nicoletta - will eventually inherit leadership of the Seelie Court. Until then Parkhurst has been appointed Regent, to manage things until she is ready to take her place here." A pause. "Anything else you'd like to ask?" There is, perhaps a tiny sting in the question - though the warm good humor takes most of the bite out of it.

"Why'd Zavanov kill Macklin?"

"Zavanov was sent as a backup plan - to get Doctor Parkhursts' journals. In case the other Russian representative failed to get them by buying them. I suspect that Zavanov thought he could short cut the whole situation by simply getting Mr. Macklin to hand them over. I don't have any sort of proof of that motive mind you - it's just filling in the blanks with what seems logical. Of course - Zavanov didn't have any way of knowing that Mr. Macklin was ignorant regarding the journals - and who 'Katie' really was. I expect you can see how something like that might escalate fairly quickly."

"How'd the Russians trip to Flynn's having the journals?" He pauses, shakes his head. "Actually, hold that thought. Why the theater with the hook and the blood? Some Elder ritual? Or just a cracked Russian?"

This takes her a bit longer to answer. You can see her turning over the proper words, trying to find the correct way to phrase things. Then coming to a decision with a brief tightening of the lips.

She draws in a deep breath. "Mr. Lovejoy . . . I am constantly torn between answering your questions in a way that is consistent with what you know to be true . . . and simply being forthright. It is of course easier, just to tell you the truth as I believe it to be." Brief smile. "However much you've accepted the existence of the Seelie Court as real--" she raps on the table top as if to demonstrate its solidity-- "I know that you reserve judgement on everything else, until given true evidence."

For a moment silence lays between the two of you, while she seems to weigh and measure you against what she knows. "I'll preface this with the disclaimer that I'm only guessing based on what I've heard from others, and what little I know of the Elders. But, I believe, that what happened to Mr. Macklin was both a ritual and a message. A ritual in that Mr. Macklin may have been used to provide . . . well . . . food for Elders that may have been with - or inside - Zavanov. The message is a means of claiming the building and the people connected to it. Warning any other Elders . . . or Fae and Seelie who have the knowledge to understand it . . . that pursuing this line of inquiry too far will have consequences."

"Messages, huh?" Lovejoy grins without an ounce of humor or enjoyment. "Detroit business as usual. Medical formulas or rye, love or mumbo-jumbo, I guess it all plays out the same."

Elders, Birthright, Communion[edit]

He scratches his nose. "You said he might have had an Elder or three riding him like a polo pony, but also that you didn't think he was infected -- that he had the Birthright, I mean. Is that common? Somehow I'd gotten the idea that he Elders needed Parkhurst's virus to clap on to somebody, which is why the Enclave could hop the fence instead of breaking bread with the rest of you. Or is this something different than the deal Rulionoff, Farbeque et al. worked out?"

He blinks. "Though if that's the case... Hey, is Weiss an Elder?"

A little wince at the word "infected" - but otherwise she lets it pass without comment.

"Having the Condition is not quite the same as being granted Birthright. Though from your perspective the two might as well be indistinguishable." And then again, that sharp, measuring look. You realize that behind the calm and the formal mannerisms, there is also a perceptive intellect. "The Elders . . . in their natural form - whatever that actually means - are essentially body jumpers. They have the capability of inhabiting people without the Condition - for a limited time. If they stay too long, it's like passing too much electricity through a fuse - the Elder burns out the physical body.

"The Enclave situation is different. I don't know the mechanism for how it was accomplished. The Enclave folk were already Nightsiders when they chose the Elders over the Queen's Blessing. They reached some sort of stable symbiosis that merged or fused themselves with an Elder . . or maybe more than one Elder . . . again I don't know the details. The result is that both parts - the Elder and the Nightsider are able to survive in the world as it is currently -- without the Queen's Blessing."

She lets you absorb this for a few moments in silence, before moving on to your last question. "As to Mr. Weiss--" a little shake of the head-- "I don't know what may have caused his situation. He is most certainly not an Elder . . . not one of the Fae or Seelie . . . indeed. . . not even a Companion. You might ask him . . . but somehow I doubt you'd get an answer.

"There were a few others who were with him when that change occurred. Emma Hamilton for one. Antonio Grimaldi for another. They might be more forthcoming with information." she finishes with a little shrug.

"Thought I had something there. The black eyes are very distinctive."

Heather Flynn and Gregory Parkhurst[edit]

He flips back through his notes. "Let's double back. How did the Russians twig to Flynn? There's ... some confusion about how she ended up under Parkhurst's... care, so I'm not sure why she had the journals, or where she was going, or how you or the Court thought about everything."

"From what I've gathered, Flynn was part of this Maturine de Bonnevault's circle, probably about the same time you were -- and let me know if this is indelicate, but its either indelicacy or ambiguity, and ambiguity doesn't seem like it'd help either of us -- anyway, about the same time you were going through your... Birthright? It sounds like they were sort of nursing you along through whatever the process was, before the Nightsiders became the Seelie or the Fae or whatever Irish cloak you prefer. Parkhurst wasn't in on that, though he was maybe already researching the," he pauses, delicately, "condition."

"Then a few months ago, Michigan time, de Bonnevault dies, Parkhurst gets infected, kidnaps and tortures Flynn for some reason, then gives her his notes and packs her off to Detroit to hide out from... who? Not from you, since he's already here. de Bonnevault's old people? The Russians or Elders? Farbeque? Van der Veckyn -- who, by the way, the Russians claim was behind the Macklin killing -- and I'm not sure where he fits in. Not an elder? One of your rogue Seelie? If this Zavanov killed Macklin, how'd he get on to him? Flynn was tight-lipped about her past. Who knew where Flynn was going?"

She sighs, and reaches over to pour more hot water into her cup, and with a gesture asks if you'd like either tea or some of the brandy. Then settles back a little more in her chair, with the cup held between both hands.

"I prefer truth to ambiguity as well. And I thank you for being concerned for my sensibilities." She takes a sip from the cup, gathering her thoughts. "Some of what you're asking about is old history to us. And some of it is very personal," she begins quietly. "Some of it . . . to my shame . . . probably reflects poorly on me as well. But, that doesn't change the facts of what happened.

"Let me answer the easy questions first. Vander Veckyn is the nominal head of the UnSeelie . . . in as much as they have a leader. He's not Elder-bound as far as I know. And I'd be surprised if he was involved with the Macklin death. The Russians may have been just trying to mislead you with that assertion. I don't know how the Russians may have found out about Heather Flynn. There could have been many ways information could have reached them. . . a Fae passing through Detroit that recognized her, some Elder ability we don't know about, maybe she even let something slip to someone with connections to them. A number of people had actively been looking for her . . . though I'd add that your article probably was an additional piece of evidence for any one trying to locate her, who could read between the lines."

She looks down into the cup, swirling the liquid inside idly. "Flynn was part of De Bonnevault's Household. The Household had been long established in the Enclave . . . for quite a while before . . the Queen was . . embodied? I guess that is probably the most accurate word for it. The Enclave was aware of what was happening outside their borders . . . but they weren't active participants in that event. Which . . . just to make you happy Mr. Lovejoy . . . happened in October of 1929." She gives you another of those bemused smiles. "Doctor Parkhurst wasn't involved in that either. But you are correct, he'd been researching the Condition since early 1929. He didn't become closely connected to us until early 1931."

Then a long pause, and some subtle shift in body language, in her expression tells you that the conversation is turning to more personal areas. "De Bonnevault was killed in late 1931." her gaze focuses somewhere past where you sit, her voice soft and reflective. "De Bonnevault held me against my will . . . " a shiver runs through her. " . . . and Doctor Parkhurst found Heather Flynn and did what he thought he needed to . . . in order to force her to give up the location.

"It . . broke him, somehow. What he did to find me . . .it changed him from a good man . . . into . . " she shakes her head, blinking a couple of times. Then takes a deeper breath, and draws on that strange, madonna-like calm to quell whatever emotions are beneath the surface. She looks at you again, refocused in the here and now. "Doctor Parkhurst had already been exposed to the Condition previously. De Bonnevault had hurt me. . . my injuries were severe enough to the point of death. Doctor Parkhurst opened his veins to save me. As a result Doctor Parkhurst became . . . 'Irreversibly Tainted'." She gives the last two words an ironic twist.

"Doctor Parkhurst took me to recover in Los Angeles. Heather Flynn was brought with us as well. I only asked once about her. To make sure that she was being well cared for and not further mistreated. Doctor Parkhurst swore that she was . . . and I believed him then, and I believe him now. He never laid a hand on her after getting the information to find me. The next part . . . about the journals and how she wound up in Detroit. That was all the result of my abysmal bad choice regarding whom to trust with my affections."

"How so?"

A couple of things flash across her expression . . . embarrassment, chagrin, hesitancy, regret . . . like the blushes evoked earlier there is something charming in such openness. A deep breath in and out. "This is the part, Mr. Lovejoy, where you have an opportunity to bring all of your world-wise viewpoint to bear. I won't be offended if you call me a fool . . . for I certainly think of myself that way in this instance. In Los Angeles . . . there was someone . . . and a sudden, instant chemistry between us. Like a lightening bolt from nowhere. It was clear that the attraction was not simply one-sided on my part."

She looks down at her hands, unable to continue and make eye contact with you. "Understand . . . it had been a very long time since there had been anyone significant in my life. He knew everything about the Condition, what living with it might entail . . . he wasn't afraid of that. There was only truth, and honesty and the possibility of at last a future with someone laid out before me. And . . . like some school girl in the grip of a first crush, I did not guard my heart. In hindsight I can only say that perhaps all of those years alone made me overly ready to abandon caution."

She looks up at you again, and the cynicism in her next words are so at odds with everything you know of her. "It is of course an old story. He had been seeing someone else before we met. He chose to stay with her." A rueful head shake. "I'm telling you all of this, so that you will understand how it became the catalyst for everything else that happened. Even in a way the very fact that you are here now, talking with me.

"I was. . . in a word . . . devastated . . . by this man's choice to remain with someone else. I certainly was not thinking clearly when I went to Doctor Parkhurst and demanded that he recreate the artificial serum for me. I was so wounded, that I decided the only course of action was to insure that I would never allow myself to feel a connection to another person again. Communion was a risk I could not take. The artificial serum a means of isolating and protecting myself.

"Doctor Parkhurst . . . to his credit . . . refused me."

She falls silent, letting the scratch of your pen catch up with her flow of words. "The problem with being a leader, is that there are always people who will try to make sure that you have what you want. Doctor Parkhurst knew that too. As long as the medical journals were in his hands, they could be used to produce the serum. He gave them to Heather, and set her free, told her to run and never tell him where she'd gone to. Three of the Fae who were with us in Los Angeles took Doctor Parkhurst out into the desert, and beat him to near death in an effort to find out where the journals were. Or perhaps to convince him to produce the serum for me. He probably would be dead now, if Roderick Usher hadn't intervened. Doctor Parkhurst never told them a thing."

She sets the cup back on the table. "So . . . Heather Flynn ended up in Detroit under the name Katie. And eventually . . . you ended up here in the Seelie Court. All due to my poor choice in caring for someone who did not return my affections."

She says nothing more. Letting the silence stretch out between you.

"It's none of my business, but I think you're being too hard on yourself," Lovejoy says. "Seems to me there's plenty of blame running around; I don't see as how your cri de coeur could have forced anybody to murder somebody totally unrelated, unless maybe it was Macklin that spurned you, and even then you're probably in the clear. You wouldn't be the first person to get her fingers burned in a love affair --" he smiles ruefully in memory -- "and try to swear off the whole mess."

"Thank you for that Mr. Lovejoy, I expect we have more in common than we're aware of in that regard. I don't feel entirely responsible for what happened to Mr. Macklin. Though what happened to Doctor Parkhurst is entirely my fault, I was wrong to burden him with that request." She shakes her head. "That's why I no longer allow myself to become emotionally tangled up with other people." The words are murmured, but also clearly a promise.