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Interview with Valentine

Valentine

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Perfect happiness would be what my life would have been had I succeeded in my plan for domination of the dimension.  Power, loyalty, and the love of a beautiful woman.  Everything was in my grasp… and then it all slipped away from me.  Now, perfect happiness would just be getting out of this godforsaken desert.

2. What is your greatest fear?

Being insignificant.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Overconfidence.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?

Disloyalty.

5. What is your current state of mind?

I didn’t know what to make of life in Alpha at first.  You hear rumors about this place, but nothing of much substance, so I had little idea what to expect.  The sun, the sand, the guards, it’s all bad, but the worst thing to me is the time-freeze spell.

It’s still a very strange feeling, not aging.  Some days it’s as though I can actually feel my blood moving slower in my veins, the toxic spell in the air twisting and bending the cells of my body, making me painfully permanent.  I thought I’d suffered the worst life could possibly throw at a person and yet this is different.

Some would consider immortality a blessing.  I call it nature’s cruel idea of a joke.

6. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Morality—the so-called morality of ordinary people, which is really no more than an excuse for those in power to impose their values and beliefs on the rest of society.  Morality is a nebulous and subjective thing, not a true virtue in the real sense of the word.  I don’t believe in complete lawlessness, but I also don’t wish to obey an authority that knows nothing of my life and circumstances yet tries to tell me how I am allowed to behave.

7. On which occasion do you lie?

I don’t know if there’s a word more fraught with negative connotations than that one—“lie.”  It’s never used in a flattering sense, even though people tell lies with good intentions all the time and simply frame it in different words to make themselves feel better.

I’m honest with myself—when it suits my purposes to bend the truth, I have no qualms about doing so.  Because really, what is truth but perception?  That’s what separates people like me from everyone else: I’m willing to do whatever is necessary to get what I want.

8. What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My eye color.  Women like it, but even having lived with them for so many years, I don’t think I’ll ever come to like having gold eyes.  It is the sole thing where I wish to be ordinary.

9. What living person do you most despise?

Tamara Kingsley.

10. What is the quality you most like in a man?

Loyalty.

11. What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Loyalty.  Gender makes no difference to me when judging a person’s merit.

12. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Tamara Kingsley.

13. When and where were you happiest?

The years I spent at Ravenwood are probably the happiest time of my life.  Before that, I was concerned only with survival and not truly living to enjoy life.

Of course, I had a few wonderful years with Tamara, but now those memories are tinged with bitterness.

14. Where would you most like to live?

I’ve done a lot of traveling, seen all the sights, the highs and lows of the dimension.  Nothing in particular stands out that much.  What matters more than where you are is who you are with.  Even the most glittering and exciting of cities is cold and lonely when you don’t have anyone to share it with.

15. What is your most treasured possession?

My Ravenwood diploma.  It may be just a piece of paper, but it’s also tangible proof of how far I’ve come from where I started.  Of course, I have no idea where the thing is now.  Probably lying in some Council dump.  Even more reason for me to hate those bastards.

16. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Do you really have to ask?  Alpha.  There’s a reason all its nicknames involve some variation of the word “hell.”

No, I correct myself.  The absolute lowest depth of misery is being in Alpha and knowing that the person you were closest to is the reason you are there.  Knowing that there’s not a single person in the universe missing you.

17. What is your favorite occupation?

I like to read—real, ink-and-paper books, not those damned technological devices.  There’s just something about holding a book in your hand, the smell of musty paper (many of my preferred works are quite old)… it’s a form of bliss only rivaled by the feeling of magic flowing through your veins.

18. What is your most marked characteristic?

Regretfully, my eyes.

19. What do you most value in your friends?

I’ve never had ‘friends’ in the ordinary sense of the word, therefore I’m not quite sure how to answer this question.  But when I was recruiting people to help me with my plans, I looked for those who already had their own doubts about the structure of society and the distribution of power.  And yes, I wanted them to be easily impressionable—what good would they be to me if they weren’t loyal, and questioned everything I had them do?

They can swear otherwise all they want—many of them did in court—but I never forced anyone to join me, or coerced them into agreeing with my way of thinking.  They made their choice, and even though I’m the only one who was given such a harsh punishment, they will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

20. What is your greatest regret?

The obvious answer is “trusting Tamara.”  But even though she’s the reason I’m in this hellhole, I’ll never regret the time I spent with her.  She is the only person I have ever truly loved, the one who taught me what it is to love and be loved.

No, my greatest regret is for her—that she had to do what she did.  Because now she’s left me with no choice.  I do still love her, but that doesn’t mean I’ll excuse her betrayal.

21. How would you like to die?

This is a truly ridiculous question.  Who thinks about how they want to die?

Ordinary people fear death.  I don’t, but nor do I delude myself into thinking I’m invincible.  Early exposure to my own mortality taught me how to push the thought of dying out of my head entirely.  And perhaps the universe repaid me for my arrogance by sending me to Alpha, where the years can turn into decades and I’ll never succumb to the weakness of the body’s natural aging process.

Sometimes I wonder if living forever really isn’t so different from dying.  What good are working lungs and a heartbeat if you can never better your circumstances?  Life is dynamic, beautiful for its fragility.  Without that capacity for growth and change, what is the point to living?

22. What is your motto?

Nothing but death is insurmountable.

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