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The Way of the Blue [Lantern OC]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by AverusBlack, May 2, 2021.

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  1. ChestBurster

    ChestBurster Making the rounds.

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    By this point. I'm imagining that Ainsley is an emotional sociopath with slices cut out, like a pie.

    Specifically, a blueberry pie with purple jam. Now I'm hungry for pie. I'm quietly ignoring the green flakes sprinkled on top because veggie pies sound weird.
     
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  2. Threadmarks: Temet Nosche - Interlude (The Girl With Wings)
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    High above the fields at the foot of the mountains where Durjak lies, a woman cruises the sky with blue wings.

    Folding them behind her she dives, freefalling towards the ground like a stone and then opening them at the last moment to swoop towards the ground, coming level before hitting the treeline and skimming above it at a wild speed, turning her downward momentum horizontal and riding it.

    The clothing she's wearing is erratic and piecemeal, various bits of different things she's found, scavenged, bartered or stolen. Some of it are colors that don't mix well but have been faded out by travel, time and usage. Her hair is long but close to her scalp in elaborate cornrows shaped into a pattern, something she sometimes spends far more time on than she might admit to others. Her eyes are a bright blue, clashing with her deep, rich complexion. She often gets reactions when people see her eyes. Sometimes good, sometimes bad.

    No one has ever told her that sometimes, a sigil can be seen in them.

    As she swerves to the side to avoid a particularly large tree she reflects a little on the source of her wings, the pauldrons strapped to her shoulders. Despite the fact they're held there by simple leather belts she's never felt that her weight hung against them. Rather, when she opens the wings, her weight ceases to matter at all. She used to fear heights, but now the sky is freedom and she fears it no more.

    As she clears the treeline she swoops in, lazily circling the city to get a good look at it. She's getting a far stronger reaction than usual when people spot her and it gives her pause, unsure if it's a good or bad thing. Sometimes it's a bad thing, if the town is really superstitious and wary of strangers. This place apparently welcomes travelers, but...

    Then there's suddenly a green woman - animal? - in front of her and she swerves hard to avoid flying into her, losing control for a moment and dropping in the air, then doing a flip and arresting herself to flap the wings and hover in place, pointing up at the green woman.

    "Hey, why'd you fly right in front of me? I almost ran into you!"

    She holds her hands up in mock surrender. "Sorry! I thought you were somebody else, at first." The girl blinks when the green woman creates a platform underneath her, allowing her to land, the wings folding and vanishing away. "My name is Elise and I'm a genkit. This is Durjak. Who are you?"

    "I am Fela. I heard that there was a great battle here between people using light as tools and weapons, so..."

    Elise nods slowly, moving to land on the platform with her. "So you wanted to meet them yourself. Do you know what happened here?"

    "Not precisely, no. A large battle of some sort."

    "Tell you what. I really, really want to know about those wings of yours, so why don't we trade information?"

    Fela nods and sits down on the platform cross legged. "Yes, that sounds good. How are you creating this platfoooooOOOOORM?"

    The platform is lowering rapidly towards the ground and she kicks off of it in a mild panic, wings unfurling to catch her in the air as Elise drops down a little further, then looks up and slows the platform. "Sorry! I just wanted to do this on the ground, where I don't have to concentrate." Letting the construct platform dissipate, she matches speed with Fela as they lower to the ground.

    "Ah. Which building?"

    "The one with the red bricks there, you see it?"

    "Yes, I see." Folding her wings she drops, then circles above the building, moving to fly down above the street and land amidst the small space the townsfolk clear for her as she comes down. A moment later, Elise lands next to her, gesturing for Fela to follow.

    Inside the tavern she holds the door open for Fela and crosses the room halfway to one of the tables, sitting down. Fela tilts her head as she meanders in to join the woman.

    "You're glowing green."

    "Yep." She holds up her hand, showing the ring. "Let me guess, you have something that lets you make the wings?"

    Sitting down, Fela nods. "Yes, the coverings at my shoulders, here. How did you know?"

    "Not the first time we've seen artifacts that mimic the rings. I have a friend with a blue ring who uses a power like yours. We have another person here named Aetius who has an artifact like your shoulder plates, that lets him use green light in a limited way. We saw a weapon that uses red."

    Fela nods slowly, looking thoughtful. "I got these from a trader. He claimed he got them from some temple out in the jungle someplace. Gods only know where he meant, it could be anywhere. I didn't really... buy them. He hired me to escort his caravan when we got caught in a storm. Absolutely insisted we try to save some of the cargo and fair enough, he died failing to do it while I didn't." She shrugged. "After, I found some of it and happened to come across the big shiny case he'd been bragging about. Took me about half a day to break it open. I'd hoped it had some kind of food, but instead I got a ticket out of there."

    Elise nods along, tapping the table as she listens. "Right now, my friend isn't here. He's off on a... unrelated mission. If you're willing to let us study your shoulder plates, you're welcome to stay and talk to him about them when he gets back. How far did you travel to get here?"

    "A very long way. I didn't fly directly here, but had to bounce around to various places to either make money or fulfill obligations. I take giving my word very seriously."

    "You're a traveler?"

    "More of an adventurer."

    Elise lights up. "Brilliant! How would you like a job?"
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  3. Threadmarks: Temet Nosche - Interlude (The Nemesis)
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    I look upon my work and know that it is good.

    Below me the entire region burns. The cities burn, the farms burn, the people burn. As I watch, a flame elemental fifteen feet tall, shaped like a minotaur, marches through the ruins of what was once a city, leaving molten slag in its wake. My armies have long since retreated. The sky itself is red, the fires so widespread that the smoke has turned it to blood.

    As I hear a cracking I turn my head, watching the ruins of a skyscraper lose its integrity as the elemental passes by. It begins to lean, then slowly falls, toppling over and breaking apart when it hits the ground. I can see the shockwave ripple outward, destroying other things in its wake.

    Ash falls around me like snow, but it doesn't touch me. The environmental shield makes sure of that.

    Flying forward, I pass out of flaming desolation into another kind of desolation. As I race across the sky the smoke doesn't clear, it's too widespread for that. I can see it from orbit. But the flames in this area get left behind and I pass over what's been left in their wake. The burnt ground, the bare land, skeletons of trees and creatures and people. The weak and the frail, the old and the injured.

    When I land among the encampment the sentries know better than to question my presence or try to stop me. Not since I started torturing the worst of the prisoners. There's a certain schadenfreude to breaking somebody who relished causing pain themselves, a poetic justice. Really, that's what I'm all about these days.

    I don't head for the senior staff. I don't really feel like talking to them, just sort of basking for the moment. As I pass by they try to look busy, useful. Doing their best to make sure my attention doesn't fall on them.

    Punishing the wicked really does give no rest. Of all the darkness I've found on this hell world, nothing is worse than victimizing the weak. The weak have their uses, after all. In large numbers. You can't have a civilization without a population and certainly nothing that makes it here is anything like an empire builder. I've lost count of the number of demons I've destroyed. The abominations, the things that spirits become when left alone in deep space for too long. Nightmares escaped from the Dream, the worst of the wicked. I could have stayed on one of the other worlds, but this place feels more like home than they do.

    Carving out a territory, building it up and destroying anything capable of challenging me has been pretty fun, but I think it's time that I prioritize things a little.

    Letting Ainsley run himself in circles and then stepping in to save his little pets was an annoying distraction, but so long as he's doing that he's not bothering with me. The deaths from this region will fuel things nicely. Few sources of magic are stronger than souls and we've reaped enough now that we're almost ready for the final push.

    I wonder what it'll look like? Feel like? It's not every day you shatter reality, after all.

    Standing with my arms folded behind my back I watch the troops around us lining up into formation, preparing to move out. It would have been nice to have proper vehicles, but enchanted ones will have to do. The limitations on them mean I can't just load them all into a few and move them all at once but several hundred small transports is a lot better than several thousand people having to walk around place to place. When they spot my glow they hurry up just a little. My reputation precedes me. Pleasing.

    Turning away from them I transition and appear in the middle of the command tent.

    "My lord."

    "How close are we?"

    "Perhaps nine tenths of the way. A few thousand more deaths. But -"

    "Go on. Explain."

    "The mages, my lord. Channeling that many souls at once has, um... burnt them out, slightly."

    "How slightly?"

    "I believe we're still mopping two of them off the floor. The others have been chained to the wall until they stop screaming."

    "Only two this time? Good. That's progress."

    "Indeed, my lord." As I pass across the room to sit down in what isn't a throne, but a definite seat of authority, Highlord circles the room, pacing. I asked what his name was, once. He told me it wasn't his anymore. Fucking Sanrome.

    "Well, we'll give them a little time before the final push, then. Tell me, given the choice, who would you visit to harvest?"

    "With the destruction of the entire City of Tears, the demon lords will no doubt want blood. They will ride for us now. It may be better to simply kill them now, before they're in a position to do that."

    "Demon souls are lousy for magic, why would we do that?"

    "Ah, that's true. Their mortal servants, on the other hand... Many Sanrome have been seduced by them. It would be fitting to end the campaign with the extermination of traitors, don't you think?"

    "Trying to permanently kill the demon lords is pointless. I suppose taking their toys away would at least delay them for a bit. We're going to have to babysit this region and make sure they never rise to power again, aren't we?"

    "For a time."

    "Mmm. Yes. For a time."

    But not a long one.
     
  4. NightmareWarden

    NightmareWarden Not too sore, are you?

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    Shatter reality? Someone got two scoops of self-esteem in their Raisin Bran this morning! Hmm. Is Nemesis afraid of what’ll happen when the Lantern temple’s seal dissolves? I wonder if this whole ritual is rushed and aimed at a specific defensive benefit/creation rather than permanent ascension. Just… nothing in the story so far convinced me that Nemesis is experienced and mighty enough to genuinely become an “overgod” or subsume part of the Spectrum for power. How old is he really?
     
  5. AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    What do you know and how do you know it?

    Hmmmm.
     
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  6. Threadmarks: Temet Nosche - 07
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    "Explore!"

    "No!" As we pass through the uneven breaks in the ice, crevices spread out too small for me to fit inside, but wide enough for them. "Danger! Stay with us!"

    I heh softly when Holly - the mother - bats her son in the side of the head with a paw. He's so much larger than her, but clearly doesn't see himself that way. Bowing his head he trots after us, passing by the cracks he wanted to look inside. When we pass through a narrow opening forming a zig-zag, there's light up ahead, but the passage narrows and I'm forced to turn sideways and sidestep my way through.

    Ducking sideways under a narrow space I grab the ledge above, finding a handhold and swinging my lower body through, followed quickly by the two cats. Jay is shaking his paws out. "Hate snow."

    "I... don't think it'll be a problem for long." The ice wall ahead of us is broken by another wall of metal, partially obscuring an opening too small for me to pass through. "Blue ring, scan this for me. What are we looking at?"

    A three dimensional, partially transparent construct map is generated in the air in front of me. Both of the cats startle at the same time, jumping backwards. "It's okay. I can make things. No danger."

    "No danger?"

    "Not from me. I like you."

    Jay hesitates for a moment, then trots back over to me and leans into my leg. "Good."

    The map shows the tunnel we passed through since meeting the cats, but the rest behind it cuts off. In front of us it shows a hollowed out space filled with rooms and large sections of technology, dead space in the structure where large systems are installed. The opening in front of and below the surface we're standing on appears to be something like an entrance, maybe a personnel bay or the access point through the ice.

    Whatever it is, it's huge.

    The ring begins to remove the ice, flickers of blue light shimmering over its surface like light refracting through water as the surface lowers down and flakes away, vanishing in blue flickers as the ring stores and purifies the water. The three of us slide down, using my flight aura to stabilize us. Not that they really need it.

    As we head into the corridors the ice doesn't seem to have penetrated in very far. They're relatively wide, wide enough for three people to walk abreast, so Jay and Holly are spreading out a little to sniff around as I take my time meandering down the corridor.

    "I wonder what this place is supposed to be?"

    "Old smell funny smell. Dust and ice."

    I look down at Holly. "Old, huh?"

    "Weird human place. Don't trust."

    "No, I don't either. Let's be cautious as we look around."

    "Good human. Holly keep you."

    That makes me chuckle. I don't think it's for the same reasons, really. That spatial distortion we encountered before has me wary about where or when we are. Rings, got anything for me?

    A power source lies approximately three hundred and twenty meters behind us. However, all system feeds appear to lead to the front of the ship, nearly two hundred meters ahead. No signs of life so far. The air is at least 30 years old.

    This structure was clearly built with purpose and focus. The remaining power implies there may be something still here.

    Yes, I hope so as well. As we come to a join in the corridor between a parallel corridor and the one ahead, I run a quick scan for anything like a nearby computer terminal. Several quickly dot up, but none of them appear functional. Vexing.

    Doorways in the corridor appear sealed and I'm not inclined to go poking inside them just yet. Not if I can find out everything from the control room ahead. The two cats have taken to following closely behind me and I don't think they like this place anymore than I do.

    As we come up to the end of the corridor it leads out into a wider space which seems to be some kind of mechanical bay. An entire factory line laying dormant. Blue ring?

    Scan complete. Six partially constructed humanoids of robotic origin. One of the models is nearly complete. They appear to be in various stages, with this last one stopped just before the final steps.

    Interesting. Their computer systems?

    Quantum based. It may be possible to extrapolate the designs and create new computer systems based on them.

    That's what I like to hear. I'm sure the genkits will be pleased by it too. Jay hops up on one of the belts, knocking a hand off onto the floor. "What's this?"

    It hits the deck with a loud clang and both him and Holly startle again, Jay falling to the ground and Holly springing upwards. All three of us look around warily, prepared for something to jump out at us at the disturbance. When nothing presents itself, Holly and I glare at Jay.

    "Humans have a story about a character named Pippin who did that once. It didn't end well. Let's not, okay?"

    "Jay sorry. Pickups?"

    I tilt my head a moment, trying to work out what he means. Then I get it and lean down, picking him up and letting him lean into my shoulder with my hand under his feet while Holly walks with us.

    "Funny door." Holly sniffs at what I think might be the control room entrance, which appears to be an iris door. She quickly loses interest, hovering back to Jay to lick him in the head for... cat reasons, I dunno. As I approach the door I run my finger along one of the seams, tapping the head of the indigo staff against it thoughtfully. What's stopping me from opening this door?

    This section does not have power routed to it.

    Ah. Well, go on, do the thing, then.

    Thing in progress.

    Can I make up a personality for that ring too?

    I bow my head and smile as the ring works on the door, providing a local power supply and then forcing the mechanics of it open. The door opens with a hard, repeated clanking as the iris unwinds, sounding a little grindy as the door finishes and stops in its fully open position.

    Let's see what we're dealing with, here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2021
  7. AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    Yeah, I know I suck at updating regularly. Sorry about that.

    If it's any consolation, the times I'm not writing, this story sits in the back of my mind annoying me about the fact I'm not writing. So even when I'm slow to update, at least anybody still reading it can take consolation in the fact I won't be satisfied with this project until I reach the point where I feel it has come to a sufficiently satisfying ending.
     
  8. Threadmarks: Temet Nosche - 08
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    This... isn't the bridge.

    When we passed through the door we stepped into a field. Turning I look behind myself and I can... sort of... make out the door but it's edges are burning in a way that hurts to look at and the effect is static. Even as I watch it shrinks and fades out, leaving more empty field behind us.

    "Door broken?" Holly is looking too, using my flight borrowed flight aura to hover at my shoulder while I hold Jay.

    "Not me!" I rub under Jay's chin and begin walking. "No, not you. I don't really understand what's going on either."

    The weather is fairly warm but the sky is overcast above us, scattering the light. Stretching out in front of us, wild wheat and barley and grass ripples in the wind as it passes around us, leaving waves in the grass that flicker like mirages at the edge of my vision. The air itself smells green and heavy in the way that the air kind of does just before or after a storm. Probably before, judging from the way the clouds look.

    "Rain smell wet smell. Don't like wet. No wet?"

    "Not if I can help it, no." As we round the tree's, the first signs of civilization appear. A house in the distance.

    Wait.

    I know that farm house.

    I stop up short, causing both of the cats to look at me in mild alarm as my body language suddenly changes. Leaning down I put Jay down carefully. "I think I might have been here before, but... I don't know what this is, so stay close."

    "Stay close." I pick it up from Jay as I begin walking again but don't really hear it. Ring, scan everything. Is this real?

    "This is real, yes. There was an anomaly as we passed through the doorway but when I scanned the event horizon, the scans returned errors."

    "What that?" Jay is looking up at me.

    "My ring talks sometimes."

    "That's weird."

    "You're a talking cat."

    "You're a glowing human."

    ... "...Point taken. Is there anybody inside the house?"

    "No. It appears to be locked and secured for the long term. Judging from the dust inside, it has been several weeks since anybody was here."

    I frown. Well, obviously I'm going to go in and look around, then. But what the hell?

    Well, since nobody is here, might as well get on with it. All three of us rise off the ground and fly forward. Holly just sort of hovers next to me but Jay keeps doing a dogpaddle mid-air like he thinks he's swimming and doesn't stop doing it until we land on the grass again, just outside the house.

    "You good, dude?"

    "Air swim fun!" He's already sniffing around the edges of the house though, investigating.

    "Don't go too far, stay with us." Ring, open this house to me.

    Blue filaments snake their way into the lock of the heavy shutter covering the door, accompanied by another click behind it as the ring unlocks the door itself. Leaning down I lift the shutter up, then open the door and walk in, both of the cats following me. This house is old. The wood looks old as hell and the structure has obviously been repaired before. Passing through a hallway lined with firewood we come out into a small anteroom with coat hangers and a pair of spare boots with an open door into what appears to be a kitchen on the right, joined with a dining room and a massive table capable of sitting at least ten people. On the other side of the room across from us is a short hallway with stairs leading up to the left and what seems to be a living room on the far side of the house. The door we just exited shares a wall with another door and as I pass through it I find myself stepping down into a large den with a wood fire oven, of all things. This house really is old.

    As I approach the stove I rise up from the ground, reaching up to touch a tapestry hanging on the wall behind it. Burlap but stained with what might be paint, shapes painted across it. Symbols and stamps of images. A cows skull, corn, a bowl and pestle, abstract designs.

    Something about it feels achingly familiar. A wave of grief, of all things, suddenly hits me as I pull the tapestry from the wall, rolling it up.

    As I do there's a whuff sound from around the corner of the wall, light flickering. Both of the cats run to me and as I pass by them, I see the flames. They're spreading quickly, wildly. Subspacing the tapestry I generate a construct ram and smash the window out, pulling the two cats to me and passing through it backwards as the flames crawl towards us. But no, not today.

    As we reach the outside of the house I find the weather has changed completely. So has the season, for that matter. No longer summer, snow covers the ground around us and on the other side of the house, two men have their backs to us, coughing as they stumble out of the houses front door, where the living room was.

    Then a third man comes bursting out of the back door and I have just enough time to catch a glimpse of his face before I blink and it's gone.

    All of it. The field, the house, everything. We're standing on the other side of the iris door, metal surrounding us again, wall panels torn open and a hundred conduits rerouted across the bridge to what would be the captains chair on a human ship. I turn around, looking behind us, then forward again. Ring, do we still have the tapestry?

    Confirmed.

    "Me confused." Holly says what I'm thinking, sitting down next to me and Jay.

    "Yeah. So am I."

    What the fuck is going on here?
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2021
  9. ChestBurster

    ChestBurster Making the rounds.

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    MAGIC SHENANIGANS!
     
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  10. Threadmarks: Temet Nosche - 09
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    The bridge stretches out before us, a rectangular room with a lowered floor around a slightly raised platform for the commanding officer. The edges of everything look slightly curved with no hard corners anywhere, broken by lines for what are clearly shaped panels which can be removed for maintenance. The control panels themselves appear to be dark, the controls missing due to no power input. Or maybe they're just waiting for someone to come interact with them.

    The front of the bridge is defined by a heavily armored and reinforced wall lined by many screens, all of them dead. A couple are showing static or broken colored lines where the screen still has power but is obviously damaged by some kind of impact. Probably debris, judging from all the crap scattered around the floor. Everything looks like it's been beaten to hell, one of the walls slightly buckled inward, held by the reinforcements. The ceiling is slightly buckled too. Probably all the ice.

    Both the cats spread out to warily explore the room. Many, many cables have been connected to various panels around the room which have been pulled off to reveal the guts of the hundred of control lines underneath the floor. Somebody jury-rigged everything to the central command chair and as I follow the cats inside, I start to get a picture in my head. There's no bodies here despite all the damage, so either there wasn't much of a crew or somebody cleaned things up. My guess is the latter, judging from all the modifications this place has seen. Somebody spent a lot of time doing this.

    The obvious culprit is the corpse still sitting in the command chair. It's still in its suit, or armor, or... I'm not sure if there's a distinction, here. It's obviously an environmental suit but it's also reinforced in places. Space combat suit or something? Not sure. The front visor is transparent and the skull doesn't look human. Blue ring, scan and identify.

    Species unlisted. However, the DNA remaining in the skeletal structure bears a resemblance to genkit gene structuring and contains several shared traits with them. Unidentified genetic traits make up about 0.02% of the genome. Specimen also has human genetic markers native to Homo neanderthalensis populations, but not Homo sapiens.

    More and more questions. "So kids, what do you think?"

    "Metal smells. No soft."

    "Heh. Yeah, a bit bare, isn't it?"

    "See how good you look after being buried alive, dying and being stuck here for two decades."

    I straighten up a little as the voice comes out of nowhere. Ring?

    Audio output is being generated by a speaker in the ceiling.

    So it's the ship. "Hello there."

    "No. No, I am not doing the line, no matter how robotic I sound."

    "I'm sorry, what?"

    "Nevermind. Who are you and where the hell did you come from?"

    "My name is Ainsley. I'm a lightsmith."

    "You're a wh-? No, nevermind. It doesn't matter. Listen very carefully, Ainsley. You listening?"

    "Yeah?"

    "Holly listen."

    "Y-? Oh. You have talking animals?"

    "You get used to it way faster than you might think."

    "Oh-kay then. You three are the first living beings to set foot on this ship in 23 years. I'm the guy in the chair. Was the guy in the chair, I guess. All this you see around you? That was me jury-rigging the ship to interact with my neural interface so I could download my brain into the ships computer core without degradation in the data transfer. If none of that means anything to you, I died and became the ship."

    "No, no. I'm comfortable with technology. Okay then. You got a name?"

    "Yes, but I haven't thought about it in a long time and now that you're asking I find I'm having some trouble correlating who I was with who I am. It doesn't fit anymore. I'll come up with something later. If I give you instructions, will you help me?"

    "Help you do what?"

    "Escape. If you're comfortable with technology, it might be possible for you to take the computer core and rig it to something so I can be in a system that isn't trapped in a glacier with no hope of ever getting out."

    I actually begin to chuckle at that, smiling and tilting my head down.

    "What's so funny?"

    "You know what? I'll let it be a mild surprise. First, do you have the full schematics of how this ship ought to be?"

    "Yes. Of course. Why?"

    "Mind if I have a look?"

    "No, I'll reroute some power to the bridge so you can access the main computer. Just leave the partition alone, that's me. Mess with it and I'll lock you out immediately, understand?"

    "Don't worry, I'm not trying to hurt you." I hold my hands up in mock surrender. "Really."

    Several consoles light up on the far side of the bridge, so I rise up and float over to them while the cats continue to look around. Holly takes a sniff of the spacesuit and recoils a little, shuffling away from it. "Bad smell."

    "It's okay, Holly. It won't hurt you. Does imply the environmental suit is leaking, though."

    "It wasn't in good shape to begin with. I got banged up a bit on the way in."

    Ring? Plunder the computers, but touch nothing of the partition containing whoever-this-is.

    Gotcha, boss. Plundering in progress.

    The designs for the ship, its computers and all the hundreds of small systems begin to unfold in my mind, making me wince and shake my head.

    "No, no, don't make me learn it, just store the information."

    "Okay, cutting off data flow. Sorry."

    Owww. I rub my temple with my fingertips, letting the staff float in place, fixed in position next to me. I glance at it and resolve to work out how to make it hide like the blue battery, but not right now.

    "Unnamed computer voice, here's the deal. I have two supertools. There's a very good chance I can fix you up and free you from the ice while doing it by transmuting the ice into materials to replace and repair you. But what then, hm?" I spread my hands in the assumption it can see me. "You get to have your cake and eat it too. What's your next step after that?"

    "I assume you're going to want something."

    "Yes and no. I know you mean in the obligation for the favor sort of sense, but that's not what I mean. You're a full blown spaceship. I can think of... a thousand ways you could be helpful to us. You get a crew, we get a ship that can tell us to fuck off if we're being stupid."

    "You want to indenture me?"

    "No, I want to hire you. Ring, transfer everything we know about Terra to the ships database. Don't scorch their brain doing it, please. They need to be able to make an informed choice, here."

    "Electronic brain massage coming up. Here you go."

    An indigo packet flicks not from my ring, but from the staff over to the console. There's silence for several seconds while I wait for the ship to process it.

    "Is this some kind of joke?"

    "Nope. Serious as your situation. This place is insane."

    "You understand I'm going to want to verify this."

    "Yep."

    "And that I want a body back."

    "...Uh, okay, but I'm not sure how to do that. It's not like we have a body factory, buddy."

    "It doesn't need to be organic. I'm not picky, I just want to be humanoid again. Judging from these files on yourself I'm sure you can come up with something, with sufficient motivation."

    "Hm. Alright. No promises but I'll do my best to look into it. Deal?"

    "Deal. Provided you can get me out of here, that is."

    "Heh heh heh." I rub my hands together, the blue ring taking over my environmental shield completely and dimming out the indigo. "My time to shine."
     
  11. AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    There's more coming today because it's been a bit since I wrote, I just have to do the posts between other things so it might be a few hours before they're all written and up. Check back later tonight and there'll probably be more.
     
  12. Threadmarks: Temet Nosche - 10
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    "Alert! Spatial anomalies expanding!" / "Warning! The anomalies are growing!"

    I'm focusing on the hope I'll bring to Durjak when I fly back in a huge ship. Of the hope I'm bringing to this ship-mind by freeing them. Security, transport, friendship. Build the temple.

    As blue light spreads out from me and begins to repair things the rings are freaking out about the distortions increasing -

    Violet sunlight flickers in god rays across purple grass-like plants in a meadow of waist-high camouflage that conceals the feet of the trees lining the borders of the fields with a deep burgandy sky hanging above, framing a dark orange moon that fills the sky even in the daylight.

    - while the constructs flicker, interrupted by the breaks as the distortions unfold and writhe like magnetic field lines throughout the ship -

    The tunnel is dark and the air isn't very good, smelling of dust and grime and sitting heavy on the chest. The brake dust is so thick on the walls it forms a black layer that paints anything that touches it for even a second. The wooden coverboard over the electrified rail along the right side of the subway tunnel provides a minor comfort in the knowledge that if a train comes, there is a chance to step over it to the ledge against the wall and prevent a gruesome death. It's the mortal risk that makes the subway tunnel so alluring.

    - passing over me with a dreamlike quality that's disorienting in how smooth it is. As the rings work to identify the boundaries of the distortions -

    The towers rise impossibly high into the sky, forming a citadel-spire that supports the orbital arcology hanging above the planet, millions of points of light from the artificial rings of the planet that block the stars but glitter in their own right.

    - and works to try and force the issue by brute forcing physics back to the way it should be. It's eating up a lot of power -

    Flashes of places. A molten world with a red sky. Jungle with massive, foot-long insects. Towering husks of dead cities wreathed in plants as the world works to return the hives of man to the dirt.

    - but that's what I have two rings for.

    Charge at 10% designated warning threshold. Recharge immediately.

    A life snuffed out, trapped in isolation with no hope of rescue, trapped in the computer of a ship with no body. You're goddamned right I want to help.

    I hold the indigo staff up, the ring on my hand shimmering.

    "You can't take the sky from me!"

    The ice above the ship shatters as indigo light spreads through the ship, powering it directly, juicing the engines. The head of the staff is glowing blindingly and both the cats are hiding behind the command chair, out of my line of sight. We all feel it as a jerk in the floor when the ship begins to rise -

    The ship sheds ice, the rings augmenting my senses as the intense heat of the molten world cracks the ice, the thermal differential snapping it like a glass in a microwave.

    - and the ice slides off the hull effortlessly, leaving it slick with meltwater. At the same time, several sensors wink out as they're cooked instantly and the cooling system for the main reactor has a minor frenzy for a few seconds. Then we're above the ground, finally.

    "Ship, can you show me the site below?"

    "Parts of my sensor grid are missing or destroyed. I'm not certain what happened."

    "Neither am I. Ring, show me."

    The scene below appears as a construct as the ship's power systems begin to take over for the augmentation the indigo light was providing. With the excess weight of the ice off the ship, staying in the air isn't such a chore for the newly repaired reactionless drives. The crater we broke apart in the ice is writhing, twisting in a way that doesn't look right at all. I can see the ice breaking apart as it folds inwards, the construct struggling to create an image mirroring what's happening before the entire thing fritzes like a CRT monitor that got thumped with one hand, the entire scene changing.

    Where the crater and immediate area stood is a hellscape, the crater replaced with a chunk of the molten world we briefly passed through as the rings struggled to correct the distortions long enough for us to get into the air. Already the ice around it is reacting, melting and agitating the lava which has replaced the ground there, billowing steam quickly hiding the sight from prying eyes, but not the ring.

    "I don't understand. What happened just now?"

    "The rings detected some kind of anomalies strewn throughout you as we were making our way in. There was some weirdness. It's how the cats joined me. We're still not sure what's going on, but if I had to guess... I think a piece of another world just got dropped in here."

    "How would you know that?"

    "Not the first time I've heard of this happening. Just the first time I've seen and experienced it. I got the impression it's starting to happen more and more, but that was wild." I shake my head. "One more thing I need to look into."

    "So. Now what?"


    "Now... we plot a course for home." I frown. "Then I need to plan my next move. First things first though." Ring, provide co-ordinates please.

    Will do.

    A flicker of indigo light from my hand to the computer and the ship begins to turn towards Durjak's direction. I turn and look at the body in the command chair.

    "Have you decided on a name?"

    "Yes. Call me Lucca."

    "Alright. What do you want done with the body?"

    "Bury it, if you would. Preferably someplace alive, like a garden. Someplace I can visit when I have a body again."

    "I'll do my best to make sure that happens."

    "I believe you."
     
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2021
  13. mastermenthe

    mastermenthe Mint Thistle

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    I wish I could give feedback, but my brain is kinda stuck being amazed at everything you have written here to be critical.
     
  14. AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    I honestly like hearing what people think of the story. I know I've been a little snappy when people have done it in the past, but part of the reason I've been gone so much is that I'm just straight up busy. Part of that busy-ness is getting some help for the mental health issues I have and I'm a little more balanced than I was a couple months ago due to new meds. Also a bunch of the shit stressing me out irl has recently been resolved so that's always nice.

    While I'm bad at updating regularly I have no intention of just not updating at any point, so even when I'm silent for awhile, there'll be more coming. I'm just bad at regularity of any kind for any period of time. ADHD is a bitch lol
     
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  15. Threadmarks: In Darkest Day - 01
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    Fela sweeps down towards Durjak's walls at the spot where the genkits spiders tanks were concentrated. Blue wings folding to arrest her momentum she brakes hard, then curves the wings slightly to transition into a glide down to the ground, then landing with her hands out at her sides with a gust of wind as she touches the ground and the wings vanish.

    "There's another one about four kilometers south-south-west. I can't tell what it's going to be, I can just see the distortion as I pass overhead."

    "What does it look like?"

    "I'm... not sure how to describe it. Like the light is bending in ways it shouldn't. Like a mirror turned to liquid, distorting the reflection as it..." Fela makes a gesture, struggling for the words.

    "Aetius?" Elise turns to look at the tiger over her shoulder where he's sitting on one of the spider tanks. "Take a beacon and go with Fela? Once you two mark it out we can put a scout on it to make sure we get no more surprises." Behind her, Aetius nods, running off the side of the tank and taking to the air before he can hit the ground. A moment later, Fela sweeps the ground in a gust, following.

    "Fuck." Hanging her head and turning to look away from the maps, trying to concentrate, Elise has little to stare at. Not enough height here, to start with. The breach in the wall needed to be covered, repaired, but the imps or whatever those things were had taken them by surprise. The loss of one of the spider tanks had been pretty hard but the resulting explosion was worse and she found she struggled to build things with the ring unless she really concentrated.

    Concentration is something she's been struggling with.

    Taking to the air, she follows the two other fliers, deciding to see for herself what one of these things looked like. When the mass distortions began near the dawn nobody knew what was going on. She still lacks answers and that really bothers her.

    She wished Ainsley were back so she didn't have to be in charge anymore.

    A flash on the horizon and she speeds up, forming construct armor and having the ring give her targeting data. Some kind of drones are firing at Fela and Aetius and that isn't acceptable.

    Transition.

    She appears between Fela and some of the ground fire, forming a large construct tower shield between them and focusing on it as hard as she can. Fela swoops down and backwards, retreating as Aetius whips around the side of the shield, coming down on one of the drones and stabbing it with a spear. Kicking it into another drone, the two of them explode as the drones split their attack between him and Elise.

    The moment the drones stop focusing her so hard she goes on the offense, chain guns appearing at her forearms as a construct mech forms around her. She begins unloading on the drones as Aetius retreats to draw them into her killing zone, throwing green spears as he flies backwards, impaling some drones, missing others.

    "Other side of the ridge! There's some kind of... it's like a patch of machinery! I'm not sure these are even weapons!"

    "They feel pretty fucking weapon-y right about now!"

    Swooping down, Fela lands inside a furrow in the ground behind them, using it as a makeshift foxhole for cover. "I know but it looks like a mine! It's like somebody dropped a giant strip mine over there, I think these are miners."

    "What makes you so sure? Shit!" The drones split, forming a pincer to avoid her single line of attack and Elise is forced to drop the construct mech. Instead she forms a green burning sword, fist tightening on it. Destruction, annihilation. If willpower is the assertion of my individuality, what's the opposite of that?

    She misses Fela telling her she saw them collecting ore. Her focus is narrowing as Aetius kites the drones in circles, moving just out of reach while she's distracted. She saw once, in a movie, a man slash a sword and kill a fleet of ships.

    In her hand, the sword pulses.

    Be unmade.

    She raises the gladius, pointing it ahead of her as Aetius draws back, passing behind her with the swarm rising in a wave. Then she moves it to the right, viciously slashing it to her left.

    When she does, a paper thin line of destruction follows, unmaking the electron bonds between atoms. A single slash and a flash of green light and 36 drones are bisected, several of them going critical and exploding, causing secondary explosions in their wake.

    She can see the others rising up behind them and for a moment, uncertainty gnaws at the back of her mind.

    "Get back to town! The two of us can't deal with this alone a-"

    The sun goes out.

    Looking up, her initial thought is changed to oh shit as a massive ship looms above them, the air around it misting as though the ships hull were freezing or it was made of a fog machine. Parts of the hull look blistered though, making her wonder what the hell happened to it that it looked both half-frozen and cooked at the same time. Then the ground shudders as the ship opens fire and for half a second, Elise is convinced she's about to die.

    Then she realizes what the ship is shooting at and her heart sings.

    In front of her the swarm is torn apart by burning plasma and some kind of gravity weapon that seems to randomly pick drones and fling them around wildly, smashing them into other drones before switching targets. She can only watch in mild awe as the mining drones are quite literally torn apart in front of her eyes.

    A head appears above her ring, Ainsley giving a look. "Hey, what are you waiting for? We've cleared the way and we'll cover you while you shut down that mining factory. We'll keep them busy while you concentrate on breaking into their computers."

    Elise nods and begins to move, reforming the burning sword.

    Maybe they'll get through this after all.
     
  16. VerBlinkel

    VerBlinkel Getting sticky.

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    I've binged this whole thing in the last day or two, and I've gotta say I love this story!

    So many great ideas and fantastic world-building. The best is the whole 'there are downsides to being just one emotion, even if that emotion is traditionally thought of as a positive one'. Loving the world and trying to figure out what's going on.

    I don't think that it was ever proven that the seal actually was weakening and hooking the CPB's will prevent that, we only have Nemesis's word. My prediction is that Nemesis is tricking Ainsley and linking all the central power batteries is what's required to break the seal.

    Love the characters, you do very well at creating fun and engaging people. Stomach-height-magic-skunk-mom is the best. I've kind of felt that the whole dreaming-magic-shamanism thread got left behind. It'd be nice to go explore some of that more.

    If Ainsley learned how to do magic, he could do scrying. If the ring could be used to supplement casting, he might be able to find a way around the scry blocking metals and just scan this whole place, which would be pretty helpful in getting his own information and not having to rely on Nemesis's.

    Thanks for the great story, and don't worry about your update speed. We'll love what you put out regardless of how long it takes.
     
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  17. Threadmarks: In Darkest Day - 02
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    When we lower down from the sky into the Tovari camp, there is music playing of a style I've never heard before. Or at least, I don't recall hearing it. It's not coming from a single place either; rather, various people in the camp are playing instruments in harmony together while still slightly spread out, giving the music a slightly ethereal quality as it changes every time I turn my head. The yurts and temporary placements are spread out across the rolling hillside, framed by a half-circle of trees that stretches from horizon to horizon to warm the feet of the mountain ridges that border Tovalon and Skal apart. As the weather has warmed in the last two months since my arrival, the summer has been kind, here. The meadow grass itself is nearly a foot tall, providing a soft bed under each yurt which doesn't have the benefit of the unfolding wooden platforms that some of them use to avoid the mud.

    As the land slopes down away from the trees, the trees themselves thin out with a few determined stragglers dotting the hill all the way down to a large creek which follows the slope of the land, then veers sideways for a couple hundred meters before wiggling it's way further downward. It's this fold in the creek that is attracting the Tovari of the camp who are streaming back and forth in pairs or single to collect water for washing, purification and drinking, cooking, to make tea. A little further down river I can see almost a dozen of them naked in the water, laughing and talking as they wash themselves and their clothes. Business as usual.

    I raise my hand to one of the water-collectors while Elise deposits Kuri and Emil next to me, then heads back into the sky to recon the area. She's been restless since I got back, almost eager to disappear for periods of time. I haven't wanted to press her on it, see if she comes around first. I don't know how genkit psychology and human psychology differ and for all I know she's just letting it all out in private or going off to see somebody. Some people handle stress in unpredictable ways.

    "Greetings, travelers!" The Tovari in question is a young girl with hair I can only describe as a mane. It's like somebody shocked her with an electrical charge designed to make her hair curly. It's everywhere. I can't even see her ears because of it, though she has a tail that puts me in mind of a raccoon, or perhaps a red panda. A very deep orange-brown aaaand now she's giving me a look because I've been staring.

    "Uh, sorry. I've never seen a Tovari like you before. I'm Ainsley the Blue, this is Kurishalia - did I say that right?" A nod from Kuri.

    "I'm General Emil of House Tychorus."

    The girl blinks. "Oh. Yes, I've heard of you. I thought you'd be taller." She tilts her head at me. "You're human, aren't you?"

    I nod. "Yep."

    "Poor boy. Humans really got the short end of the stick here." She makes a gesture with her hands, moving her fingers in some kind of warding sign or superstition.

    It is a blessing for luck. She is wishing you well.

    Ah. "Could you lead us to where Saxali is? I understand that Noah is out and about but I really need to speak to somebody in charge."

    "Sure, buuuuut I have one condition."

    Emil smiles, looking amused. "What's that?"

    "I wanna come with you!"

    I nod at that, forming a small construct platform for us to step on. Kuri hops up lightly, then curls her tail under her own butt and sits on it. Cheater.

    "Sure, if Saxali doesn't mind you sitting in. What's your name?"

    "Tiala! Um, no, that's not what I meant though." She climbs up on the platform, looking a little unsure at first, then hopping up and down in place a couple times once she's on. Damn, that's distracting. Tovari don't believe in bras, apparently.

    I clear my throat when Emil pats me on the back, trying to hide his amusement as he does it. "Ah, what did you mean, then?"

    "I want to come with you. As in, away from the camp. I don't have a lotta stuff, I can just pack up and go. Take maybe an hour to get it all ready."

    "If you're so eager to leave, why not go before now?" Emil tilts his head at her.

    "Nothing really interesting to draw me. You wander around awhile, everything starts kinda looking the same. I wanna see something new, but traveling alone is pretty dangerous. Especially now."

    I nod. "Especially now. Have the disturbances been bad in Tovalon?"

    "Kinda. Yes and no. The elements really take exception to anything industrial and we've had two towns like that show up. One of them didn't have any weapons and only wanted to play nice when we showed up but the other tried to fight us off, fight everyone off. They started a fire... It didn't end well for them." She sounds sad about it.

    Kuri hugs her from behind and she smiles faintly, clearly glad for the contact. "Nothing endangering this camp?"

    "No, not yet." We're getting pointed at and calls are going out as we pass overhead, but I'm not going particularly fast either. Tiala has probably never flown before and first-timers don't seem to take well to it.

    "You're lucky, then. Or maybe just better at keeping the peace in your territory, I'm not sure."

    "Saxali will know more than I do." She pffts. "I'm just a herders daughter, nobody tells me anything cool."

    "You'd have noticed this." Emil rumbles, sounding grim. "The patches destroy everything around them. They build up, the air gets... wavy." He moves his hand side to side. "The light moves oddly. If you see that? Run. Run fast, don't stop until you can't run anymore. Don't grab your things, just get out."

    "It's really that bad?"

    "We had a huge automated factory show up near our town and nearly overrun it just trying to 'salvage' our stuff. They didn't seem to mind that we were still using it. In another spot, part of a molten world got dropped in. It's changed weather patterns across that whole region, which only adds to what's going on. Lucky something like that hasn't happened to us, actually." He grimaces.

    "While you're packing your things up, spread the word for us. About the distortions, how little time there is to escape. One of them dropped a ninety-eight foot deep patch of ocean nearly a thousand square feet wide in a slash across a chunk of desert and washed out part of a whole ecosystem. Things are really a mess right now and we're trying, but we can only be in so many places at once."

    Tiala is looking distinctly unsettled, but nods. "Okay. I will."

    "You still sure you want to come with us?"

    "Yes."

    Emil chuckles. "Heh, I like this kid." He ruffles Tiala's hair, making her knock his hand away with a smile. "You got balls, kid."

    "That's a weird name for my boobs, but... thanks?"
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2021
  18. AngelicKnight.

    AngelicKnight. Lewd demon of negotiable affection

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    This story needs more comments.


    Also I like the new girl. She seems fun.

    But what does she mean by this.
     
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  19. AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    It does. The feedback is the best part of writing this. I know I have a fair number of readers, it's just harder to build an emotional resonance to feed my motivation with an abstract. Most of what keeps me going is the fact this story sits in my head giving me dirty looks when I'm not writing it but hearing people spitball about the story back and forth is great.


    All the baseline humans in the story so far are Ainsley and pretty much the people of Durjak with a smattering of randoms who travel around or showed up in different places. There isn't really any big cluster of them except Durjak itself because we tend to build our cities openly, without a clear distinction between city and not-city until you just don't see buildings anymore. Places like that which get dropped in don't have a good time. Durjak is the only one on that continent that wasn't overrun before they managed to find a leverage that prevented it, namely Ainsley himself. In short, they got lucky.

    They're around but there's so many other peoples and races and shit popping off that it's difficult to get a foothold unless you happen to get dropped into the deep end and have enough resources to survive everything else competing for the space you just occupied, or trying to return to the place that used to be where your city just appeared.
     
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  20. Threadmarks: In Darkest Day - 03
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    Saxali's tent is smaller than the one she shared with Noah but I get the sense it's not a diminution of her status in any way. The whole thing sits on a wooden platform that smells of pine and wood varnish, clearly fresh and in good condition. Perhaps made specifically for this trip, even. Rugs cover the floor and where the wall coverings would usually enclose the space, she has unfolded the walls of the tent with a simple hinge mechanism that locks in place, providing shelter from the elements but letting the air flow freely through the tent during the warm summer days. Fresh plants in small grow beds surround the tent and sit on almost every surface, examples of plants I've never seen before but have clearly been collected from far and wide. It seems the kitty queen has a green thumb.

    The lady herself is sitting cross legged on a large, soft-looking cushion-slash-seat large enough for her to sprawl out on if she wanted to. Several smaller versions of it are scattered around the tent, brought out for the visit so we'd have a place to sit.

    "Ainsley, Kurishalia, welcome." I nod deferentially to Saxali as Kuri breaks out into a big dumb grin next to me.

    "You remembered the whole thing! No one ever does that." She looks so pleased about that for some reason.

    It gets a smile out of Saxali too. "Elise, did you lose your ring?"

    That takes Emil aback a moment, making him blink. "Ah... I'm not Elise." The moment he speaks Saxali winces at her own error, his voice clearly different. "I'm General Emil. I'm actually her father."

    "I'm very sorry. I only met her the one occasion and she left quite an impression."

    Emil chuckles quietly. "Yeah, she does that."

    "Please, sit with me. I was about to take my midday meal and I'd be pleased for the company if you'd join me. I dislike eating alone." She gestures at the seat, tilting her head at Tiala behind us. "Yes?"

    I nod, moving to sit down with Emil at my right and Kuri at my left. "Ah, she's with us. Saxali, meet Tiala. She was kind enough to give us directions here and will be visiting Durjak after for a bit."

    Saxali bows her head slightly as Tiala bows lower and tries not to look nervous. Saxali moves over to her and puts a hand on her shoulder. "It's okay, I don't bite. Anybody good enough for Ainsley and his clan are welcome here as equals. Sit with us."

    That seems to get through to Tiala, whose tail visibly begins to un-puff itself as she moves to sit down. When she thinks we're not looking she tries to smooth it down with her hands, pulling it around the side of her hip and fussing with it nervously.

    A pair of Tovari with horns - gazelles, perhaps? Puts me in mind of them - and curled ears enter from the open sides, both of them wearing rich blue robes with silver trim. Each is carrying trays, setting them on the rugs in front of us. Each carries a variety of finger-food, small sandwiches and meat buns, breaded bird meat, vegetable wraps and something that reminds me a little bit of eggrolls. The two make their way back out quickly as Saxali thanks them quietly, then turns her attention to us.

    "Usually it's customary to make small talk for awhile, inquire about family or friends, perhaps trade some ideas." Reaching forward, she picks up one of he rolls, holding it a moment. "However, given what's going on, I think it might be a good idea to break custom and get right down to things."

    Emil tilts his head. "I mean no disrespect to you or your hospitality when I ask this, but if that's the case, why sit and take our time eating as we talk? Though admittedly this all looks and smells very good." The bird meat has his attention. Target locked, commence feeding protocol.

    Saxali takes a moment to swallow her food, putting her hand in front of her mouth and then lowering it to speak. "Well, I'm hungry, of course. But mainly it's because I remember Ainsley eating almost automatically, despite the looks Kuri was giving him."

    That gets me a nudge from my left, but Kuri is still smiling at Saxali and apparently pretending she didn't do that.

    Emil nods. "Ah. Yes, that makes sense. I suppose even during insanity one has to stop and eat once in awhile."

    "Just so." She gestures at Tiala who is just sort of staring at all the food. "Yes, it's okay. You can have at it."

    Tiala nods and nicks several different things, chowing down on them hard. Kuri is kind of eyeballing her now but she doesn't seem to notice, too busy enjoying the rich food. Though the fact her tail is wagging is kind of cute.

    "I assume Noah is out trying to handle things?"

    "You would assume correctly, yes. My husband is many things, stubborn chief among them. He rather insisted on making a personal appearance to some of the places that have been effected."

    "How bad is it here?"

    "The elements work to protect us. They've spent enough time entrenched here that they kind of seep into their chosen places, anchor them. We've noticed that areas rich in... I'm not sure what to call it. Spiritual energy? Pressure? Magic?" She makes a dismissive gesture. "I think you take my meaning. These places are harder to break the way your region is breaking. I have no idea how the eastern tovalon is handling it but they're welcome to keep handling it."

    "Mostly we wanted to make sure the worst of the fires here weren't about to overwhelm you." Kuri's leaning on her own tail like a cushion, taking her time picking things out and then making them disappear with preternatural speed and enthusiasm. "We'll check on Skal next. That might take some time so we came here first."

    "Also, this." Emil digs out the tiny communicator he brought with him. "Radio only works so far and we don't have satellites, but we do have these. They use something called quantum entanglement to duplicate the vibrations used to make noises. Short version, you press this, talk into it, the one we have imitates speech. It won't sound like us, the noise it makes sounds a little metallic, but it's understandable and it works at stupidly long ranges."

    Saxali takes it from him, turning it over in her hands. "This will be highly useful. To call for aid?"

    I nod. "Or just to talk, or call our attention to something. Elise is out doing a patrol around the region right now to look for anything new popping up while we're sitting here talking, by the way."

    "Then I'll have to make sure that my people prepare a meal for you to bring to her. It's the least I can do."

    "I'm sure she'll appreciate that. Skal requires... that you brace yourself first."
     
  21. Threadmarks: In Darkest Day - 04
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    In the beginning, I thought that I'd never really get used to the ring. I've come to the point of using it for lots of things, even mundane things. The blue ring could let me expand my human limitations in a way that let me do things like stay awake for days and days. Since I tend to work alone or with Elise - who has as few limitations as I do, though her focus could use some work sometimes - I sometimes forget things like eating, sleeping, resting between periods of physical exertion. The ring could always just reset me if I hoped hard enough for it, so maxing myself out to accomplish the goal I'd set for myself wasn't too much of a problem in the little downtime I got.

    Which is how I ended up forgetting that while Elise and I can go all day, all night and all day again... Emil, Kuri and Tiala still need to sleep. A reminder that Kuri pointedly gave me by hitting me with her tail and asking when we were going to nap. I'm loathe to sit in one place for the entire night when there's people I could be inspiring and helping but after getting double-teamed by the Kuri/Emil debate firing squad, I finally agreed to 'stop for five fucking minutes and stay in one place for six'. Emil has a way with words.

    While those three sleep in the camp we set up, Elise and I are up on a large boulder overlooking the camp a short travel from where the swamps of Tovalon that border into Skal begin. None of us wanted to deal with the bugs. So, so many bugs.

    In front of me, Elise is focusing on creating a green sigil construct in front of herself about the size of a dinner plate. It slowly rotates in place, probably just so the motion makes it easier for her to focus on it.

    "You can feel it when I make constructs?"

    I run my hand along the indigo staff in my lap, fingertips brushing it. The texture is like polished stone or perhaps metal, it's difficult to tell. Indigo tron lines go up and down the main body of the staff, which is about three inches thick and evenly cylindrical with embellishment at the handle with a texture that reminds me of a bike handle. The head of it burns with indigo light, the indigo sigil shaped out of the stone-metal into a disc about two inches thick at the middle. It's partially transparent, like tinted glass, the indigo light inside glittering and shimmering through it brightly while still somehow giving the impression that its raw power is muted or shielded somehow. The indigo inside it burns in the shape of its sigil, reinforcing the shaping of the head of the staff to give the sigil an intense back-glow with a shimmer when you look at it straight-on.

    I nod. "Almost like when we align the green and blue rings. When we do that, your focus bleeds through the connection and both of us are strengthened. You've felt the way my hope bolsters your constructs, yeah?"

    "Of course."

    "For me, it almost feels like I could make a green construct, but when I've tried it, it didn't work. The touch of green helps me focus my hope. Now it feels... When you make a green construct, how do you focus your will?"

    "I'm asserting myself through it. Self-actualization towards whatever goal I've set for myself. I am my resolve, I just... kind of demand the universe make my constructs because my constructs are an extension of myself."

    Closing my eyes, I try to focus. Willpower, willpower...

    Wait, am I being stupid?

    If green is the color of stubbornness... Ah. I think I get it now. That feeling when you just decide to do it yourself.

    The head of the indigo staff flickers, the color of the light inside changing as I tap into the green light through it. Elise sits up a little straighter as I create a sigil mirror to her own, staring at it. Maintain. Maintain. Maintain. This is taking a lot of my concentration. After about ten seconds my brain drifts and the construct collapses.

    Elise dismisses her own sigil, waving it away. "I felt that."

    "Did you? That was really hard to make. How do you focus like that?"

    "I don't think I'm struggling with it as much as you seem to and honestly? I'm not sure I'm that great at it." She rubs her chin thoughtfully. "Maybe it's more difficult for you because of how you did it? How did you do that, anyways?"

    "When you use your ring I can feel an... echo, I guess? Of it. Through the indigo staff. It doesn't happen when I have the staff in subspace though."

    "Do you think the staff is like one of those glow weapons we encountered?"

    I open my mouth, then close it again, thinking. Could it be? "Maybe? It behaves like the blue battery does, kind of. It's not the same, the blue one doesn't give me the sense of a bottomless well to draw from the way the indigo staff does. With the blue ring I have to worry about power requirements, but with the staff I feel like I'm channeling the light directly through myself to the ring as I use it. Like the difference between a battery and having a plug in the wall, kind of."

    "Can I?" She gestures at the indigo staff and I nod, letting Elise pick it up. The moment she does, the green in her eyes changes to indigo and she gasps. "Powers above, Ainsley. You never told me it would be beautiful."

    I blink at that. "I don't understand."

    "I..." She's staring into the head of the staff, trailing off. Staring. I can see the moment she starts to weep. "I was so wrong." She almost shoves the staff back at me, turning her head away to hide her face, clearly shook up.

    "Are you alright?"

    "How do you stand that?" I can hear the strain in her voice. "All I could feel was... was... this overwhelming empathy, like I was losing part of myself. Crushing guilt for..." She shakes her head again. "Regrets."

    "I don't know. I just... am, I guess. I don't think it effects me like it does you."

    She sniffles a little, then turns back to face me. "Don't you ever second guess yourself?"

    I shrug, putting the staff back in my lap. "No. But... I don't think I'm quite right, either. I really struggle to focus on emotions that aren't compassion or hope."

    Elise pauses for a moment, then slips the ring off her finger, holding it out to me. "Put it on."

    "Elise, no -"

    "Shut up." She puts it in my hand, then closes my fingers over it, holding my hand between both of hers. "You're not keeping it. I just want to test something."

    I open my mouth, then close it and bow my head a little. Opening my hand, I slip the green ring on the middle finger of my right hand, next to the blue -

    Connection damaged. Attempting to compensate.

    Alert! Green light is altering your mental network!

    Warning! The green ring is changing how you think!

    I look down at my hands and blink slowly. I can feel... something... yes. Like recapturing the feeling of a memory and having a moment of déjà vu, I can feel my ability to focus slide back into place as the ring acts as a focusing lense to the green light.

    "Willpower." The construct sigil I create flicks into place easily, the mental image staying in my minds eye with so much less effort. I maintain it for a few seconds, then shut the construct down and pull the ring off. As soon as I do it flicks back to Elise, who holds up a hand and calls it to herself.

    She slips her ring back on, flexing her hand. "Try now." She creates another construct, this time of a cartoon character I don't recognize.

    "Okay." Recapture the feeling... "Get out here."

    When the construct version of Holly appears I can't help but smile.

    Elise nods. "Just like I thought. You try a ring on, you get a feel for it."

    "No, Elise." She looks at me quizzically. "No, this is much, much more than that."

    I can fix myself.

    It's possible.

    I just...

    I just have to somehow convince the others to let me put their rings on. Or take it from them by force in order to fix myself.

    I'm not sure how bad I feel about the second one when I could be whole again.
     
  22. AngelicKnight.

    AngelicKnight. Lewd demon of negotiable affection

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    Silly Ainsley, offer a helping hand!
    Yessss! Embrace the dark side, stare at the the tails.
    Huh, is touching fluffy tail socially acceptable?
    That sounds unhealthy for your brain.
    Yesssssss! Tail...
    Oh a ring already? Oh my, what a sudden proposal.
    I mean I can think of one orange girl who would possibly agree to exchange rings if you lewded her first.
     
  23. AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    One does not chase tail while in the presence of important people, of course.

    Depends on context, I guess? I mean, for Genkits at least, personal space is a lot less of a thing than for us. Casual physical contact is far more common. But with Skal it's all about social hierarchies, somebody with less standing in their clan trying to touch somebody higher up might get shit on for their presumption but the reverse is always acceptable. For western Tovari, it's much like being human, where physical contact is something that one builds up to in a standing social relationship. For eastern Tovari, once you've fought enough for your social standing it's just kind of assumed you can do whatever the fuck you want because really, who the hell wants to try and stop you? But the right to fight for that is something you have to be in a particular position to invoke. One does not simply walk up to another and casually tap their shoulder, lest it be seen as an attack (I'm in your personal space, fuck you gonna do?).

    Well he won't give it a thought after they've eaten his brain.

    Heeeh. Elise doesn't know that Ainsley is emotionally messed up. Like, he told her, but she doesn't grok it. Hasn't internalized that he just lacks certain emotions. To her, making him put the ring on was a moment of vulnerability. To him, it was just a step forward and a realization that the only way to make himself whole is to force and possibly destroy the others. She had a big shining trust moment and he was making an internal resolution bordering on a supervillain goal.

    What makes you think for even a moment Mina would ever agree to giving up her ring, even temporarily? Even the Mina in my head is looking a bit concerned about that. It won't be an easy prospect.
     
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  24. AngelicKnight.

    AngelicKnight. Lewd demon of negotiable affection

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    I think we have very different opinions of important people.
    *Points at politicians, celebrities and such and all the sex scsndles and inappropriate behaviour they get caught performing*
    Interesting!

    And how does rhe fluffieness of tails compare?
    Good.
    So neither of them saw the potential... offer someone you like a ring /marriage connotations?
    Three for one deal? She gets tobusw all three of theirs for as long as he uses hers? Enforced by a Geas?
     
  25. AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    Nah, neither was thinking about that, lol. Elise just wanted to see if he could get a better feel for how she does it if he used her ring for a moment, something she's done with other genkits before. For her, it was really more of a show of trust and inclusion in her in-group, treating Ainsley the way she does her peers. Ainsley's just a dipshit and totally missed it.

    I can't say much about the fluffiness of tails. After all, I'm trying to keep this more or less SFW.

    Next you'll be asking for handholding. You deviant.
     
  26. Threadmarks: In Darkest Day - 05
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    Skal.

    The clearing we've landed in is less of an open field and more of a slightly less dense mass of the trees. "Are you sure this is the place, Kuri?"

    "Yes." She nods firmly. "It is."

    The trees around us are gnarled and twisted, as though they fought each other to grow. Some of them appear to be several massive vines braided together to form a trunk with branches that spread vines and creepers hanging above on almost every surface, adding to the density of the foliage as they make their own leaves to compete for their space in the light. The humidity would be oppressive if not for Elise and I providing environmental protection to all of us, a precaution Kuri recommended lest we 'accidentally touch anything we shouldn't'.

    Apparently some of the flora around here gets really excitable about catching anything that doesn't move fast enough to get out of the way. Carnivorous trees. What a delight.

    That's to say nothing of the predatory and non-predatory insect species and their defense and offenses, some of them as territorial as angry wasps. Others that are less dangerous but operate in colonies of millions in hives buried in the roots of trees capable of being spread out over distances that can be measured in kilometers. Parts of Skal are wholly unexplored simply because none of the Skal who live there would plausibly survive the effort to go have a look.

    Then there's the parasites, which the Skal themselves regularly struggle with and part of why their shamans are so damned important. It's the shamans and their rituals and magic that keep the Skal from being literally eaten alive and capable of forming any kind of society. Tropical diseases, parasites, predation, food security, metal, decent wood (because of course only some of the trees here can be used for building, we're on nightmare mode, after all).

    When I asked if Kuri had ever heard of Australia, she told me she hasn't tried a lot of genkit food.

    Needless to say we're a bit reliant on Kuri to not wander blindly into some kind of death trap. Or worse. The environmental shields will definitely be staying on.

    The trees we're facing have been grown and shaped into the mouth of a green tunnel which leads downwards to stone steps, more of the creeper vines lining its walls and rimming the entrance with green leaves and bright blue-and-white flowers. Following Kuri we head inside, ducking a little to fit into the tunnel due to it clearly being made for Skal with no consideration for us tall people. Starting to get Gandalf-hanging-out-with-Bilbo vibes here.

    When we emerge into a large, carved anteroom almost tall enough for us to stand upright, there are several Skal who are clearly some kind of mustelids. If I had to guess, I'd say badger or wolverine. They jump to their feet the moment they see us and grab weapons at right about the same time they really get a look at Kuri and realize what she is. The weapons don't get put down but are pointed away, several of them glowering at us and not looking at Kuri at all as one of them rumbles at her.

    "Shaman, why do you bring outsiders to our den? It's their kind who are making war with the forest, their kind hunting us. We'd have an explanation. Your standing protects you, but you bring enemies to our home."

    Kuri shakes her head. "Different kind of outsiders. Are you like the wolf clans in the plains, hm?" That makes the badgers blink. "Or my own people, south at the coast? Or the Diving Eyes clan, who openly trade with ships?" She shrugs. "It's the same with outsiders. Lots of different kinds."

    The badgerine or... I need to ask what these peoples names for themselves are. He seems a little taken aback by that, looking displeased. "You haven't answered me. Why?"

    "They're here to help stop the things that are changing parts of the land."

    "Are you telling me they're responsible for...?!"

    "No." She frowns. "You're being foolish." That makes the badgerine hang his head. "They have the power to do something about it and want to. They don't even want anything in return except good relations. You will show the proper respect."

    "Yes, shaman." He even sounds humbled. Damn. Stepping back and away from Kuri, what I think is one of their women touches the badgerine on the shoulder, stepping around and in front of him to take his place.

    "Our apologies, shaman. The days have been long and bloody. It strains us in ways we're not accustomed to."

    Kuri nods. "I know. This is Ainsley, Elise and Emil." She points to us each in turn. "Their names are short but they're surprisingly powerful and cunning. Each of them could defeat every single one of you in single combat, or simply all at the same time to make a point." She gestures at herself. "I'm glad they're on our side. Now, tell us where the worst of it is."

    "Allasfere is gone."

    "What do you mean, gone?" I can't help but pipe up, tilting my head.

    There's some murmuring among them when I pipe up in their own language and the girl speaking to us glances around uneasily. "It is no longer there. One of the... things... tore out part of the mountain and replaced it with some kind of yellow cloud, it's said. Allasfere itself was drowned in the cloud as it spread out. Some escaped, but the forest..."

    Kuri nods. "The forest."

    "We learned this from a group of outsiders who escaped the city before the second disaster struck it. They had been in a sealed chamber when the cloud blew through. It smelled like rotten eggs." She makes a face. "Its stink spread across everything for almost a full day. When they escaped the city, they left by the travelers routes and could still see the face of it when some kind of crystal grew up and out of the face of the city, shattering it. Then it died."

    "Died?"

    "That's how they described it. It glowed bright green until it stopped growing and then just... died."

    We look at each other for a moment, then back at the badgerine. "The others?"

    "A part of the forest where the cheetahs clan grounds lay is now a wasteland. Bare, dead earth made of red sand. Their people who were spread across the plains are gathering to the south-west almost two days travel on foot, screaming for the blood of whoever did this."

    Kuri sighs. "Their shaman?"

    "Gone."

    "Well that's a problem."

    I touch Kuri's shoulder, leaning forward a little to look her in the eye. "Why is that?"

    "The cheetahs are hunter nomads who raid. Usually not much of a problem if you're aware of them being a threat and are on the lookout for them. They attack in small numbers, sometimes pairs but usually alone. A large number of them suddenly deciding to band together means a huge mass of meat eaters looking for food. How do you think that's going to go, Ainsley?"

    I stop for a moment, thinking about it.

    ... "Well. That's a problem."

    Elise nods. "Let's go do something about it."
     
  27. Threadmarks: In Darkest Day - Interlude (City Zero II: Disaster Bugaloo)
    AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    Mimi Liara is pretty certain she's going to die. She's also pretty certain that she'll do it being useful so that nobody can write on her epitaph something like, 'went out like a little bitch'. It's a little difficult to see in the red light the emergency lights are providing but she's doing the best she can.

    "Fuck, fuck. Fuckfuckfuckfuck."

    The others are already out. When things started going sideways they gave the evacuation order but she knew that if they did that then the damn gateway would overload and none of them knew what would happen then. They were playing with technology so far beyond them it was almost unspeakable and she'd been making noise for months about how goddamned stupid it was to be running any of this inside the city, nevermind the question of whether they should be doing it at all.

    But no, Tychorus had to have their way. It had to be protected by the city because the city is obviously the best protected place for this kind of deep research. They made a lot of noise about logistics and security and blah blah blah. Then when it started going wrong, they give the order to bolt.

    If she survives this, she's resolved to find some way to hurt them for this. Hurt them bad.

    Holding the minitool in her mouth, she uses both hands to leverage a panel, pulling hard and falling over backwards when it finally pops off. She loses the tool and has to take a few seconds to try and find it, fixing her glasses as she does it. The large ears her mouse heritage provides lets her hear as the capacitors build up. She doesn't have time for this.

    Finally getting the tool she whips around to the panel, grabbing the stripped wiring she's yanked out of one of the control room consoles upstairs. She frantically begins wrapping it around the cables she's exposed, struggling to maintain the finger dexterity to do it while wearing insulated gloves.

    "Fuck, fuck. Fucking fuck, come on you fucker."

    Finally satisfied she's managed it, she picks up the foaming tool and begins spraying it over the wires. The conductive foam sparks wildly as the current begins running through it, only giving her a couple seconds of spray time before she yelps and scrambles backwards from the exposed panel, which is beginning to crackle and buzz ominously. Scrambling to her feet she bolts for the control room as the gateway begins to get weird.

    A massive, two story tall icosahedron set into a stone base, the gateway faintly resembles a jungle gym or a cage. The inside of it is shimmering, the light distorting in strange ways as the middle somehow glows black. She isn't sure how that could even be a thing but somehow, it's doing it.

    Pull the resistors, open everything. Everything. Fuck it.

    The capacitors, already loaded above their SOP cutoff, suddenly find they have a place to dump their charge. The gateways distortion narrows inside it, almost becoming focused.

    Maybe whatever is happening in the middle just isn't something her brain can interpret? Like magenta not being a color?

    "Please, please work."

    If the massive power input doesn't somehow stabilize the gate, the capacitors will probably explode. Which would be bad, sure, except the site uses radiological materials and it would turn the whole area into a dirty bomb and then they'd lose everything and the city might even be at risk.

    "C'moooooon." She thumps the panel in front of her with a fist, biting her lip.

    Tychorus wanted this gate so fucking badly, they're going to get it one way or another. They set this ball rolling downhill and then ran away from it as far as she's concerned. Nobody better complain about her flicking it sideways, dammit.

    The distortion in the gateway begins to grow.

    "Oh shit."

    Oscillating, touching the bounds of the cage now.

    "Shitshitshitshitshitno!"

    Screaming incoherently she kicks the control panel as hard as she can, causing it to spark and making her flinch at the same moment the distortion breaks the bounds of the gateway -

    There's a sensation of pulling and falling at the same time lasting half a second and then, nothing.

    She falls to the floor and vomits immediately, coughing as the gateway itself sparks violently, several of the bars shattering. Then it, too, dies.

    After a minute of coughing, spitting unpleasantness she pulls herself to her feet, then shakily takes off her lab coat, hanging it over the chair. Removing her soiled shirt takes longer than it might otherwise due to her hands shaking. When she puts the coat back on she ties it up to keep it closed using the tie she was wearing.

    To her left, a blue light on the console begins to blink and a soft ping accompanies it. She turns to look at it, staring. It's the communications console, somebody trying to reach the control room.

    Ping. Ping. Ping. Ping.

    After four or five seconds she reaches over and picks up the headset, bringing it to her ear. "C-Control."

    "Mimi?"

    "Yes."

    "We thought you left another way."

    "No. I didn't."

    "What happened?"

    She takes a deep, slow breath. "I tore the insulation off the spare power cables, plugged them into the capacitor, then tied the stripped end to the gateways main power relay. Then I shut down all the insulators and resistors at once and fed everything into the gate."

    "...You... Mimi, what have you done?"

    "You tell me, Myles. What have I done?"

    "There was some kind of planar shift event, like the one that took the two teams through before. It looks like it encompassed the whole city and most of the mountain. Some of the infrastructure we built to vent pressure from the heart of Mount Erebus is just gone."

    That makes her hitch a breath. Those systems are what kept the molten heart of Mt. Erebus stable. The city drew geothermal power from the magma chamber, which would keep it stable for a time, but without the excess pressure systems the moment the pressure exceeded the power draw, the city would be flooded with lava from the bottom up. Those vents were the first thing ever done to the mountain. They were essential. Nobody had ever planned for them to just stop existing.

    "H-how long?"

    "A week, maybe. Two, if we start consuming as much power as we can. The draw isn't that great. It never was, we never needed that much."

    She closes her eyes. "The humans?"

    "Nothing."

    "What?"

    "Nothing. All their comm traffic has vanished. The internet can't be accessed and when we checked, it's because the cable lines have been cut. The only signal we're getting at all is a signal beacon from the other side of the planet, which, by the way, we can't track because all our satellites are fucking missing."

    "You didn't stabilize the gate, Mimi. You pulled the entire city through to the other side."
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2021
  28. AngelicKnight.

    AngelicKnight. Lewd demon of negotiable affection

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    Ah oblivious protagonist syndrome is truly tragic.
    I also enjoy consensual lovemaking full of mutual respect and affection.


    Also now you've raised handholding I'm considering tail holding. Two cuties lovingly intertwining their tails, sat side by side and watching the sun set, maybe one of them resting their head on the others shoulder.
    Task failed successfully.

    A new home with cute people to first contact. Or... well second contact but that's still fun.
     
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  29. AverusBlack

    AverusBlack AKA Sky

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    "Oops" doesn't quite cover it but when faced with a choice between 'fuck it lets see what happens' and 'set a dirty bomb off in the city', it could have gone worse, in the short term. The real problem there is who let that happen in the first place but they have bigger fish to prevent from frying horribly right now.

    Apropos of that, I'm porting this story over to SV as well. I have no intention of stopping updating on this site, it'll just be on both sites now. I realized that the only copy of this story is on QQ and I don't really have any backups, so it being on SV gives at least a little margin of disaster. It'd be incredibly frustrating if something happened and the data was lost.
     
  30. AngelicKnight.

    AngelicKnight. Lewd demon of negotiable affection

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    Also it is minimally lewd so sv should be okay with it unedited.
     
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