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Messages - Chaosvolt

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General Discussion / Re: Last Man Posting: -50% SHENANIGANS
« on: February 19, 2023, 06:02:36 pm »
Nyet. :>

General Discussion / Re: Last Man Posting: -50% SHENANIGANS
« on: August 20, 2022, 04:31:54 pm »
I have finally bothered to replace my old forum icon on here with the edit that removes the scribbliness it used to have all over it. It looks a bit flat as a result but no one notices that when I've used it on discord. And no one's gonna notice it's flat on here because forum ded. :D

General Discussion / Re: Last Man Posting: -50% SHENANIGANS
« on: May 27, 2022, 12:08:24 pm »
This is Dwarf Fortress, there is no winning.

General Discussion / Re: Last Man Posting: -50% SHENANIGANS
« on: December 31, 2021, 11:39:20 am »
Beep bep.

General Discussion / Re: Last Man Posting: -50% SHENANIGANS
« on: October 22, 2021, 10:06:42 pm »

General Discussion / Re: Last Man Posting: -50% SHENANIGANS
« on: August 15, 2021, 02:07:49 am »

General Discussion / Re: Last Man Posting: -50% SHENANIGANS
« on: April 17, 2021, 03:49:58 pm »
Celebratory Sixpost after logging onto the forum from new PC.

Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« on: March 19, 2021, 06:21:13 pm »
(( Written with Salt. ))

Dr. Chelsea watched the tank roar to life as he had watched so many other vehicles do over the last several years. The Hell's Raiders, God's Army, and numerous small savvy survivor groups had come and gone before these. Never before though had a group gone dragging Dr. Chelsea's apprehension like this before. Medeina hadn't meant to be malicious back then, but even now it was hard to see it that way. Hard to see her as anything but a soulless butcher when he'd watched or been forced to watch as she set the creatures kept within her labs onto his colleagues and co-workers for the sake of research. It was an event in his life he couldn't reconcile, and watching the man in armor and the young lady with him go with the machine who he felt had arbitrated the collapse of the Tabula Rasa Project gave him the same sense of needless loss that the previous gangs of salvagers and thugs had not.

Charles Chelsea watched until the sound of the tank faded into the background hum of New Eden's pleasant drone and sighed. Then, he turned away back to the small apartment where he sequestered himself away from the worlds new more dangerous wildlife.

"So!" Minx chimed enthusiastically scooping up the papers Hector had placed casually on one of the siege towers seats on the way to his accustomed place in the driver's seat, "Where to first?" Medeina scrabbled fitfully at one of the other seats before Minx set aside the sheaf of documents and hoisted the small robot up next to her.

"I recommend as Dr. Chelsea suggested. My lab, the central hub. It is likely that it will be the safest and most productive of the five. We will of course need to take a stop at the tenjin lab, which will be safer but not nearly as well stocked." Medeina said.

Hector had given thought to Dr. Chelsea's hesitation, internalizing it and thinking it over as they drove on, deciding to humor Medeina's suggestion that they stop by her original lab station first. "We might as well go there first then, get through the hard part first." he added.

As they went along however, he took time to give his equipment a once-over, as best as he could while driving. Sword and shield, obviously. M4 was hung by its strap nearby, he recalled it had a fresh magazine in but wasn't chambered, with two spares among his gear. And then there were his bionics, checking briefly that he was still at full power and that his EMP bionic reported normal. Still only got that one power cell...

At least it was still working, that much was a relief to him. Given the circumstance, as much as he tried to focus on the task at hand and use that equipment check as a means to keep himself busy, there was that faint worry that he might need that EMP projector again, sooner or later.

The Paved road of the small town had given way to a more roughly paved backroad, and before long even that gave way to an even rougher dirt road that Hector had to slow down on. The Siege Tower had a good suspension, but even Catnip's improved shocks couldn't keep the tank from jostling around and threatening to bite a tongue or jam ones tailbone up into ones skull. Hector glanced again back at the woman and the robot, those two hardly noticing the hard ride the road was providing, and looked back just in time to see something dart out of the swamp on the right in front of the tank.

Even ten years on, the impulse to slam on the brakes was still strong and Hector did so with the preternatural speed of a man who often had to make snap judgements while driving. Still, something disappeared beneath the treads of the tank. Hector hoped that the two in the back wouldn't notice. In fact, he knew for a fact they wouldn't notice just another bump among all the others, but immediately the reality of his "fact" was shattered.

"What was that?" Minx asked, startled. Hector sighed, of course they'd noticed.

"Rolled over some kind of animal with the tank." He explained.

"What? Stop the tank!" Minx ordered, more than a little alarmed. Hector craned his neck around and saw what Quinn had seen before leaving, the womans depth of concern for life in general. Only a few seconds had gone by, but they hadn't got much further than the point of impact.

Minx was the first one out of the tank, bounding to see exactly what Hector had smashed. "Looks like you mashed some poor fella's dog, Sarge." Minx intoned, blandly bemused. Hector crawled out behind her and saw why. Whatever he'd hit, it wasn't a dog. It looked like a slug, but covered in mud colored chitin and bearing a pair of long bladed claws on either side of a long broad beak with a series of what he guessed to be eyes going up it near the center. The tank had rolled over it's middle, neatly crushing it in half.

Hector was out of the tank almost immediately after her, looking around warily just in case the noise and their sudden halt were to attract attraction, not even having the presence of mind to make a remark about being called sarge. "Well, if that's what passes for a dog in this area, I'd hate to see what its owner looks like." he offered in response.

Movement caught their attention and Hector had stepped forward, instinctively putting Minx and Medeina between himself and the tank. The thing emerging from the brush from the side of the road was far less imposing than the motorcycle sized monstrosity laying crushed in the road. In fact, to Minx, it was a very welcome sight.

"It's a coyote!" She whispered sharply, "But it's so small!"

It was small. Almost as small as a large house cat, but at the same time, it appeared to be proportional normal giving it the appearance of a full sized example of it's kind. The thing that he'd seen run in front of the tank had now made it's appearance, he recognized it now that it had come back to see what had become of the monster pursuing it, and only Hectors unintended intervention had saved it. It warily sniffed at the monster, then darted back into the brush to escape the attention of the newcomers.

"Wow, was it a pup?" Minx asked, a little out of breath. Again, Hector was amused at the girls reverence for something so common.

"No." Medeina said. "They are not often seen, but there is a growing breed of coyote adapted to be smaller than their normal cousins." Minx flinched at the last word, but said nothing while Medeina began to delve into the specifics.

Hector for his part remained alert and wary, mainly wanting to ensure they weren't caught off guard by anything while they were stopped out in the open, giving a little gesture towards the tank. "We should get moving. There are likely scavengers that will be attracted to what we hit, and no telling what they might be like." he said.

Minx looked around remembering just where she was. "Oh, yeah, you're right. I'm sure miss robot here would be all too happy to see whatever that was, but it's probably better to skee-daddle. This ain't normal New England after all. Come on Medi, lets follow the nice knight." Medeina trundled back into the tank with no complaint while Minx gave the tiny canid a little wave. "Driver, carry on!"

With the hatch shut behind them, the treads soon rumbled to life once more, to leave the peculiar encounter behind them and continue on their way, towards the aging facilities that loomed ahead in the distance...

Rec Room / Re: A History of Time to Come
« on: August 20, 2020, 11:59:21 pm »
In days past, during the battle for Maine, and for the fate of a realm...

Helen grimaced a bit as she pored over the maps, pieces of intel, taking in intermittent radio chatter. Victor had practically forced her to take a less proactive, less risky role in the ensuing bitter struggle over Bangor, Maine, and yet it was no less stressful strategizing over their next move in-between assisting with the wounded. Having made Victor sit it out away from the front lines alongside her did little to ease the stress.

"We're near the very heart of this. That thing hasn't made an appearance nor directly tested my wards over this area, but most of its forces have been worn down." she remarked, sorting through her notes. "Those two revenants evidently already tested using directed rifts in a prior encounter with it, and all that did was drive it off..."

"You'll need something that can not only banish it, but also seal the path it used to get here." Victor added, thumbing the pages of The Source, his other hand resting on the hilt of his sword. "If we had to, the pieces could be used as the centerpiece for that."

Helen nodded at that. "Makes sense. I don't think we can use force against force though, that thing relies on absorbing energy and feeding on it. We'd need something that draws upon voids in loathe as I am to suggest such." she said softly. She perked up, watching Victor draw his sword and lay it out on the table. Void.

"It could draw upon its affinity for binding with spirits and direct it without opposing it. Then it'd be easier to seal it in a way that prevents it from bringing its power to bear. Only problem is, well." He hesitated, before giving a sigh. "It'd be similar to what those two mentioned, a sort of vacuum in the fabric of reality guiding it. But it'd draw its wielder in with it. Whoever you send out there won't survive, even with the kind of protected magic you have at your disposal."

Helen gave a nod at that. "I see. If you lend your sword, and I choose someone to use it...we'd need to at least select someone who has the best possible chance of surviving it. My magic might not be enough, but...if we combined it with Keeper magic, but nothing even close to being powerful enough can be found in Oaths To The Chalice. Only their..."

Through her mask, she looked at the two armored figures outside. Hector, and Horace. They seemed to be talking, but about what she couldn't tell. A dick-measuring contest over who killed more of the abominations at Astor's disposal, she suspected. The strange unlife permeating the armor was barely discernible to her mask's senses, yet she could tell he seemed listless over something, faint flickers of another looming presence suggesting something else had the knight of the veil's attention.

"...Chosen." The helmet turned, as though looking back towards Helen, despite the wall between them.

There was the smell of blood in the air. Fetid death, burning decay. The Siege Tower's turret traversed as treads tore at the ground, crew in a state of shock as an AP round screeched uselessly across the armor plating of a mechanical monstrosity unlike any they'd seen before. Within, Hector frantically turned the tank about, full-speed towards the nearby cover of a bern. Roxanne had no sooner savored the thrill of firing its main gun when she soon made the choice to phase through the machine, to take to the battle and wreak her favored carnage more personally.

Another near-miss. Where the hell did they get UAFVs? Hector hadn't seen one, since. No, he'd never witnessed an intact tank drone, never faced one like this. His counterpart had, those decades ago, and paid the price. He'd soon relayed an order to the homunculus occupying the commander's hatch. They were in the open, and Branches was better-suited making use of her strength on solid ground, not playing at being tank commander.

A few meters more. Too exposed. Suddenly, deafening thunder. Rusty old blowout panels flying across the field. Metal caving in, biting deep into armor, flesh, cutting to the bone. A wicked gouge rent down the whole left side of the tank, engulfed in flames as it jolted to a halt.

"Hector? HECTOR!"

"Grandmaster?" Hector tensed up, jolting awake to the voice that stirred him from uneasy rest, and a gristly dream of the past. A young man, wearing the white-on-red surcoat of their order, stood at the doorway to the room, within the small roadside inn the group had taken their night's rest at.

They'd been up early, making final preparations, some talking with the locals at the small settlement a few miles from Walkerville, a few exchanging medical supplies and helping patch up a few injured day workers in exchange for supplies. Armor and equipment cleaned, weathered old vehicles checked and refueled. They'd given Hector an extra hour of rest, time spent suiting back up sharply reduced by having been the only one to spend the night sleeping in their armor.

And as the morning sun grew pale in the sky, they'd soon make their way back home...

Rec Room / Re: A History of Time to Come
« on: February 07, 2020, 09:09:17 pm »
Across the river from Walkerville, the array of fortifications and buildings just south of the old road practically resembled a village in and of itself. Today however, things were more quiet and somber, as most of the members of the founding chapter of Flame of Arcana had been in New Paris for the day.

In the central courtyard however, a few people were to be found. Thomas, for once, having been tending to duties there while his mother and father attended the funeral. "Thanks for being around to help, Ms. Rose." he said, setting a bundle of firewood down beside the workshop's kiln.

"It's fine. Everything's been so busy lately, it seems." Answering him was Alice, in an outfit comparably less formal aside from an emblem pinned to her vest, the white cross and red field of the New Hospitallers on it.

"When isn't it busy...seems like things have been more hectic than ever." Thomas remarked. "Was Grandmaster Lowe able to attend the funeral?" he asked out of curiosity.

"Unfortunately not. He's expected to get back from leading the trip to Akron tomorrow. Just the usual mundane missionary work." At that however, Thomas noticeably balked a bit. "That's all the way in Ohio, right? Across the mountains...gods, given how many things are still out there across the entire Appalachian, that hardly sounds like mundane missionary work." he pointed out.

"Close to mundane as it gets at least. They'll be fine." she remarked, Thomas giving a shrug. "Alright...I swear, mom and dad are both around his age, and neither of them really lead missions much anymore. Plus, it's not like the old days, guessing it's done on horseback now, instead of from the safety of a tank..."

"He'll be fine. And yeah, but funny enough he still keeps the Tower in ready-to-fight condition, even if these days it spends most of its time as a museum piece up in Fort Devons. Once a week, he runs a checkup on it, tests the turret, leaves it pointed in the rough direction of Maine. Little ritual of his I guess."

"Right. Guess it's good he's still active. Still, your boss is weird sometimes..." At that, Alice shook her head, but didn't say anything. You know I don't work for him, I'm not part of the Militant...

In faraway Maine stands a cursed ruin, in the heart of an ancient city. Monsters from Beyond infest the necropolis, on a scale far exceeding the worst victims of the Resurgence. Rivers of lava carve an impassible web of searing hellfire, a nexus of infernal lines forming a peculiar symbol, a brand that scars the city itself.

With so many perils, and an ever-present sense of hostility in the very air itself, what lay at the heart of the city is increasingly known only by rumor. But the Flame of Arcana, the New Paris Rangers, and the New Hospitallers have in their shared history a simple epithet. A warning to those who will listen, to avoid Abbadon at all costs.

"Here, Void lies in eternal rest. Here, the herald of Things from Below was vanquished. Let Void watch over this site, from now until the End of All."

Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« on: January 05, 2020, 11:57:48 am »
(( Written with Salt. ))

"Ah, uh, hello hello. You're certainly the smallest group I've seen here in awhile. If your after pre-cataclysm technological treasures, you won't find them here." Said the man. He was armed, Hector could see that easily when he got close enough. His hair had grown long and meticulous but altogether futile care had been taken to keep his clothes intact. Medeina watched the man carefully and her two companions as they interacted with him. She had a feeling about the man, a spark of something somehow familiar and yet totally unremembered. "My name is Charles Chelsea," he went on in his worn out and shaky sounding voice, "and I imagine if you were going to shoot at me you'd have done so already."

"What are you doing here?" Minx questioned warily, noticing the ill kept pistol sticking haphazardly from one pocket of Chelsea's labcoat.

"Well, warning people off." He explained, "or trying to anyway. Very few people listen and most of them don't come back. Some do, but even they don't find much they can use I suppose. Except the hunters. Sometimes a few hunters come through hoping to get one of the more dangerous specimens. But uh, this isn't a military installation. It's an ecological project."

Hector remained quiet for the moment, observing the man as the others talked for the moment, still carefully regarding their surroundings in case any of the likely wildlife might've wandered this far off. "We're actually here for a different reason. Do you know of the AI that formerly operated in this laboratory?" he asked, before looking back down to Medeina's proxy.

"Of course I know of them, I was the security analyst for the labs around New Gaia Center." Chelsea scratched the back of his head and glanced down to trace the line of Hectors gaze. "Oh, you've got a robot. First I've seen that wasn't trying to kill things or take my picture. Yes, I know of the AI. Mainly the AI core, but the others were using the same systems. The Tabula Rasa project was the brain child of my partner, but I could probably get you through the basics of it."

He turned then and shaded his eyes to look up at the signs on the nearby pillar, then pointed to each one at a time. "Tenjin, the fact checker that made sure the others didn't go rogue. Something happened to him, so there was no one to keep the others in check in the weeks before they were... Well, I don't know what happened to them, I was too busy watching the world fall apart. Bhadra and Menrva, who would work together with the core to acquire new specimens for observation and cataloguing, along with developing new survival strategies. Aphrodite, responsible for monitoring the breeding of more specimens in an effort to repopulate reduced populations in the case of an extinction event. Finally, there's the core, Medeina. Her job was to monitor and take down observations of everything. Every piece of data collated into her repositories for future use by the others. Each AI could work independently of one another, or collaborate thanks to Medeina and the unique AI structure designed for them."

Minx scooped up the small proxy just as Medeina broke the silence she'd held since the encounter had begun. "Are there records available from the labs concerning this Tabula Rasa project?" Chelsea turned sharply, causing Minx to jump and Hector to raise his shield a little. He'd gone white and wide eyed, staring at the proxy.

"I know that voice... Professor Harriet Glastur provided the template and we used it in... Who are you people?"

"It's a bit of a long story..." Hector admitted. "I'm assuming that most of the AI are no longer functional, Medeina in particular?" he said, only for the proxy to perk up a bit, interrupting him. "Mr. Lowe, I am quite functional at present." The knight facepalmed at that, looking away. "I mean no longer part of this facility, right?" The proxy paused a moment, looking up at Hector before responding. "We are currently at this facility, actually..."

Charles Chelsea was still staring at the small robot, and the small robot was staring at him. A long awkward silence followed the last exchange, then Chelsea cleared his throat. "Y-yes, they're gone now. A few weeks after the world ended they're data was erased by another AI from a disconnected lab via a security breach we'd been in the middle of patching. Where did you get this robot?"

Minx adjusted her grip on the eye bot and let Medeina waggle it's front limbs at the air for a moment. "Our friend Dee built it from some kind of eyebot or something like that, but she's projected out of a laptop on their farm." The eyebot in question was one of Dee's better works. A robot he'd put a lot of effort into making it harder to tell what it had been built from.

"A laptop... I don't believe a laptop has the vast processing power required to run the real Medeina AI..." Chelsea whispered.

"It does not possess the vast processing power required to run me. That is why we are here Dr. Chelsea." Medeina was quick to add. Upon hearing his name, the security analyst visibly shuddered.

"The last time I heard that voice," He said, recoiling a little, "She was contacting me through my home PC to tell me that everyone was dead and the project AI's were releasing all their specimens into the countryside." There was a long pause in which Minx stared down at Medeina, then he added, "There were coyotes everywhere for months."

Hector seemed increasingly leery of this, regarding the proxy before taking a look farther down the road. "So you know about the lab that grabbed Medeina at least. I don't know if your AI here can tell you much about what happened, somehow she was the only AI on-site that hadn't been picked apart by the one that was running the place we looked into. Was a while back." he explained.

"Dee's hoping to get materials to make a more useful proxy for Medeina, and on top of that another friend of ours is working on projects for surrounding communities that require materials of that sort. Hence Medeina's idea to come here..."

"Grabbed?" The scientist said, "I know C.I.D., the AI they were hooked into because of military branch bull was deeply jealous of them for some reason. I don't... Mr. Lowe, are you sure?"

Hector nodded promptly, "We retrieved her from another lab a few miles away from here, and I recognize the name of the AI C.I.D. from that lab. If memory serves, and Medeina won't remember this, she claims there were other AIs from other labs trapped there and C.I.D. was assimilating them." Chelsea's lips worked even as his brain worked, Hector could see the distrust worming it's way into the mans brain.

"She gave me status updates." He said finally, "Three weeks of status updates on how well the team was doing at surviving the horror she and her siblings had unleashed on them. The mating habits of coyotes, the feeding habits of creatures I can't even describe. How they needed more people and they were sending out Bhadra's cages to bring in more. She gave me that final update, then the labs just... went dark."

"Is that true?" Minx asked, shocked. Medeina tried her best to swivel her spherical frame up to look the woman in her electronic face, but failed and replied "Possibly, but I do not remember. I remember nothing from before I was activated by Mr. Koenig on the farm."

"Mister, uh..."

"Lowe, Hector Lowe."

"Mister Lowe. Frankly, I don't... I don't think that's a good idea. She... She has flaws... in her thought palace. She can pick apart the rules to adjust them in any way she needs them to be picked apart, and she's designed to enjoy whatever task she's assigned. She-"

"I am programmed to do a great deal more than just enjoy my tasks Dr. Chelsea." Medeina interjected, and Chelsea shivered at hearing her voice say his name, "I am outfitted with a complete emotional emulation prototype, though I suspect it is not mine. Please do not think me some rogue machine with no value on human life."

Chelsea cringed a little and glared at the robot more warily than before. "I don't trust you Medeina, not after what you-"

"We have a manifest." Medeina interrupted. It was a first for Hector. Not the interruption, Medeina interrupted conversations all the time, but her sudden change in tone. It was the first time he could hear a kind of agitation in the AI's voice. "A partial anyway. Do these labs have the materials we need or not?

Hector seemed to be scrutinizing Medeina, underneath that helm. He had his own thoughts on everything that'd been discussed, and even as he read the distrust evident in the doctor's voice, he still knew they'd have to see this through. Well, we'll have to see if he's right.

Chelsea almost seemed as though he hadn't listened at all, but Hector and Minx could see the doubt. Medeina could more than see it, she could feel it and the way Hector was now scrutinizing her. She was different now, somehow. The emotional emulation had a small but profound effect on how she carried out her observations, and what Charles Chelsea described didn't seem like the Medeina she knew herself to be at all. If creatures like Mica could change, then so could Medeina. Chelsea had cringed away from them, but only for a moment. Now he seemed to have something to say, but was unsure of how to say it.

Then, quietly, he asked "Mr. Lowe, can I speak to you in private for a moment?" Hector gave a nod of understanding before leading the way back over towards the road, leaving Medeina with Minx for the moment...

Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« on: November 10, 2019, 04:17:27 pm »
(( Written with Salt. ))

Minx had seen Medeina assert control over other robots before and thought that this would be something like that, but when they got to it, Medeina simply scuttled around it. It was dead, well and truly. Up close to it Minx and Medeina had no problem seeing the extent of the damage and very shortly Hector could see it too. Inside the cage, along the "roof" of the robot, a circular panel had been pried open and the machines guts had been carefully pulled out. Minx didn't have much attention for it though, Hector noted. Her eyes seemed to find themselves drawn away again and again, and when he followed her distracted gaze, he saw what she saw. Coyotes. Avoiding them of course, seeming to avoid the cage machine or the town center itself. There wasn't fear or nervousness in Minx's look. Just a kind of sadness.

"Mr. Lowe," Medeina asked, "When we are done with Catnip's task, would it be possible to drag this machine back to Walkerville? I would like to run an inspection diagnostic, but I cannot move from my proxy while this far from Mr. Koenigs computer."

Hector gave another little glance at the local wildlife, keeping the M2 pointed in a safe direction once the others were close to the machine, and the animals skulking about didn't seem like much of a threat for now.

"I suppose we could, I'd suggest being careful with it though. Given how a lot of the AI was back when this all started, don't want you catching something from it." he remarked, before turning his attention down the road. They were definitely close, it was just a matter of finding the facility among all the greenery.

Medeina prodded at a bone, some large slab shaped thing with holes running up the beak like ridge at it's center. Hector had no doubt that it was some kind of skull. The coyotes kept their distance, and soon vanished back into the greenery from whence they came. In the distance to the east, the call of some unknown creature rose and faded away. Hector realized there were no undead here, and he found that a bit odd.

"Shouldn't be too hard to find it." Minx commented, pointing up towards a vine covered pillar with a sign on each side. Hector shielded his visor and leered at it.


"I suppose we start north then." Hector said, adjusting his grip on the M2. He had to reign in his surprise and his urge to raise the weapon again because at that moment a man in a lab coat strode out of a small apartment building up the street. He saw them. He saw them seeing him, and Hector thought he would bolt, but then the man waved and began to weave his way through the growth and few wrecked vehicles towards them.

Hector glanced toward the brush the man went through, gesturing to Minx and Medeina as he pulled the tank a bit closer to the side of the road and shut it out. "Who's that..." he said softly, shaking his head as he secured the mounted gun before closing the hatch, slinging the carbine propped up nearby over his shoulder and picking up his shield as he made his way out of the back hatch to join the other two. Seeing the stranger approaching, he gave a wave, for now only having shield in hand.

Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« on: October 16, 2019, 01:42:38 pm »
(( Written with ſalt, mostly by him in fact. ))

Hector gave his equipment a momentary once-over along the way. Shield, sword, M4 hanging from an equipment rack behind the seat. Didn't bring that  odd magical sword, as it seemed unlikely he'd need it. As he pondered Minx's remarks about whether she'd need to use her own weapon, he had the unfortunate suspicion that either Medeina will be solidly disappointed to find nothing alive down there, or else anything that'd survive all these years will likely mean trouble...

"Can I fire the cannon?" Minx asked.

"Have we arrived yet?" Medeina asked. Hector sighed heavily, marveling at how some things never changed. The collective childishness of people never did seem to go away, even now, and it seemed even artificial intelligence could be made to emulate that level of immaturity in the right circumstances. As before, Hector responded by telling Minx that his shells were limited and they needed to save them. Then, he took out his automap and compared it to the printed one hung next to the driver's seat via a banana shaped magnet.

"Getting there Medeina." He said, sliding the automap back into the slot Catnip had installed below the Seige Towers instruments. "Another fifteen to twenty and we'll be in the area."

Minx hadn't, but both Hector and Medeina had noticed that the scenery was changing. The closer they got, the more lush everything was. The world had had time to move on and pull things down in its own time, but this...

"Stop here please." Medeina suddenly chirruped, breaking Minx from her reverie and bringing Hector back from his musings. That was when he noticed what Medeina had noticed long before he'd even been aware of the overgrown derelict taking up two parking spaces and a good section of the intersection ahead. It was a robot. A massive one looking more like a huge shop vac. Only instead of a huge holding tank there was a cage, and rather than a suction hose and outlet, it was armed with a trio of arms tipped with crescent shaped appendages that Hector realized were some kind of catch poles. The cage was filled with the bones of various creatures, and perhaps he could imagine why Medeina would be interested in it.

Hector stopped and the robot made no move, as dead as the small town around it. "Alright, just be careful. If it's still active and you get in reach of that thing..." he said softly, opening the hatch above his seat to take a cautious look around, and prep the gun mounted there. Ammunition for that was increasingly at a premium as well, these days.

General Discussion / Re: Last Man Posting: -50% SHENANIGANS
« on: October 16, 2019, 01:25:54 pm »
Omae wa mou smol.

Rec Room / Re: Winds of memories (Cata RP Character background stories)
« on: September 07, 2019, 12:55:14 pm »
(( Written with ideas and feedback from Wilson and Noctifer. ))

Timeline: Roughly 2 years after the cataclysm, a couple days before The Shifting

Characters Involved: The preceding world's versions of Helen and Lucian

Fate twisted and turned, in ways mirroring a path others walked though the cataclysm, yet diverging down other peculiar paths.

A holy order was crumbling, rife with schism. Foundering as strife tore them apart, and the heterodox grasped for fresh blood only to come up empty. With their slow march into extinction, barely even witnessing the true End of All, the Cleansing Flame had focused much more of their efforts upon the very mission that first brought them together.

Yet some paths still took a familiar shape, facing unfamiliar consequences...

There was an old lumber yard, deep within parts of New England now steadily succumbing the reclamation by the wilderness. The axes had gone still, all but one. A daily routine of blade meeting wood, but not by hands of its original employees. A stranger lingered, limping and bearing each day's hardships, far from cities still infested with horrors unlike any the world had seen before.

Another had followed a trail. Standing at the crest of a hill, overlooking the brush-choked dirt path that led to the logging camp. A woman, tattered leather cloak hanging heavy upon her shoulders, a patchwork of scratched, bent iron scales adorning it. Only a few flecks of gold and brass hinted at its purpose, but the mask of iron and copper over her face remained in far better condition. Through pinpricks of eerie red light, obscuring green eyes, she stalked her prey.

He was in one of the cabins, the one farthest from the entrance to the camp. His aura put her off guard, there was an unnatural taint to it, but it was weaker. Dull, as though he had been out of practice. Strayed from The Path, even so close to the cursed Appalachian, where abominations haunted every peak, where the temptation to exploit them would be unavoidable.

She found the door unlocked. He was waiting there, sitting at a table in the single room. A woodcutting axe was propped up against the wall by the doorway, well out of reach. A crude firearm, likely more duct tape than metal at this point, was left open and unloaded on a dresser by the bed, several feet behind him. He was looking her right in the eyes, a thousand yard stare evident. He looked as worn down as her, wearing a long coat that had been torn and patched countless times, mixed with long-inert scraps of hard leather armor, once bearing the mark of sanguine craftsmanship. The only weapon he had in reach was a cane, a stout length of hickory.

"Hunter..." he said in a voice that seemed barely audible, weak and hoarse. She stepped inside and closed the door behind her, a hammer resting over her shoulder. It was weather, tarnished, the wood cracked and only held together by the langets. The footfalls of armored boots seemed especially heavy on creaky old wood, moreso from the weariness evident in her gait. "...shrike."

"What are you waiting for? Gloat if you'd like, see if I care...if I wanted to fight you, you'd already be dead." he said, briefly managing the faintest hint of a smile. She cast that gaze over him, augmented by the sight beyond sight of her mask. "If you could fight, you mean." she answered, lowering her hammer. It wasn't into a combat stance. In fact, she seemed hesitant. "You...were the one who killed my father, weren't you? Thomas McKinnon..."

"That...was the last one I killed." he answered. "You've already figured it out, haven't you?" he said. She simply gave a nod in response, her mask deactivating. She could tell. She'd spied his movements entering the building when she first got in range, the way he heavily favored one leg. Barely able to walk, only managing through what little magic he still practiced. Only way he could even stand, at least for long enough to tend to daily tasks like chop firewood and gather food.

"This is what I find when I seek my father's murderer? After losing everyone, everything but revenge, what do I find...a cripple who left the Order. You and I are the only ones left of our conflict, aren't we..." she said, her grip on the hammer tightening. She was glaring at him under the mask, yet she couldn't bring herself to take another step forward. She looked like she was already about to collapse, not from anger or sorrow, but from simple weariness. The way the shrike simply looked back at her, fully accepting of his fate, only made it that much harder to advance those final few steps, to bash his brains out like she'd set out to do.

He seemed to be sizing her up, a reflexive appraisal before he reached for an old kettle, to pour a cup. "More or less. Tea?" he asked, and she nearly dropped her hammer outright. She set it down, grumbling to herself as she finally stepped forward, taking the other seat at the table. "I'm going to regret this...alright."

"Hungry?" he asked, taking a sip of tea first, to show it was safe before offering her a cup. She gave a little nod, lowering the torn hood of her cloak. She didn't even have her helm anymore, only the mask still concealed her, red hair tied in a short ponytail. "I...a bit. Not much left to scavenge from the cities these days." she admitted.

At that he nodded, leaning over a bit to the wood stove by the wall, to get a pot of stew left simmering on it. She was still wary, yet soon enough the allure of a hot meal was enough to convince herself to let her guard down a bit, and remove her mask to eat.

They sat and ate in silence for a few minutes, at first exchanging nothing more than names. Helen, Lucian. She was the one to finally break the silence. "How long had it been? Since you left them..." she asked.

They way he gazed back at her seemed to betray the discomfort that his memories brought up. Of staring down at an old man, crawling for his hammer with his last ounce of strength, final breath an attempt to say his daughter's name in the delirium of blood loss. Abandoning the Sanguine Order to rot, infinitely more shaken by all the bloodshed than how the conflict would play out a whole reality away.

And the bitter memory of what happened, barely making it to the very boiling point, the end that the magi had long preached of, when the only person who stuck with him had succumbed to the relic they stole from the Order. The agony of a leg wrenched out of place in a frantic struggle, kneecap split open by an unholy blade, and soon enough watching his best friend bleed out at his feet, a final spark of humanity evident in his eyes during that final moment.

"A...a long time. Years." he answered, after a moment's pause that felt like an eternity. "Before this shit started, it was after...him, the last one." he muttered. "After all this time, I..." she said softly. It was clear she was struggling with something. She came here to exterminate the Sanguine Order. It was the life she was born into. The only thing that kept her going, even as she lost everyone she ever knew, one by one. There was no final hunt of Shadows of Arcana, no dramatic clash to shake her to her core. Instead, there was only a slow burn. Worn down yet unrelenting, only to find out too late that the Sanguine Order was long gone, and she had spent the past year following the trail of a broken man.

He stood, unsteadily and clutching the cane, his other hand leaning heavily on the table. "I-- One moment." He seemed to focus his resolve, unsteadily steps making his way to a corner, where an old steamer trunk rested in the corner. Somehow, he mustered the strength to drag it closer to the table, nearly falling onto it as he knelt to open it. A hammer, and a mask. Copper adorned iron, decorations in the form of an impassive face, a bright red beard of metal trailing down so that it would cover the throat of its intended wearer.

"Those from my former order said I left behind 'a trophy'. I don't know why I kept it." he practically spat out, Helen standing to draw close, seeing him struggle she found herself compelled to help him stand, before he placed the items on the table. "Still makes me sick. It's yours." he added, nearly falling into his chair afterward.

She sat back down, and the way she was tearing up a bit, despite the grimace that crossed her face as she examined the mask, was evident with hers not being on at the moment. She could only look at it for a moment, before glancing away, forcing herself to regain her composure. "Thank you. We'd normally inter them with the fallen, or at least enshrine them if that was all we could recover, but...there's nothing left."

Lucian simply shrugged at that, breathing a heavy sigh. "I don't want it. You can probably do something with it." he answered, and she gave a nod. "I will. I'll find something to do with it..."

She would stay the night, making use of one of the other cabins, before planning her next move. He'd slept in, setting plenty of wood in his cabin's stove before going to bed nearly as soon as she'd left him alone, even though the sun was only barely beginning to set, and she'd find he slept in well past morning.

She'd gone into the main office of the old site, finding that he used the space as a workshop and pantry, to have a simple breakfast rather than disturb him. Then she walked. A simple hike, closer to the foot of the nearby mountains, where overgrowth gave way to twisted, dead plants across cold, rocky ground. Far enough from the camp that the thunder of a hammer, that hadn't resounded in several months, didn't so much as stir Lucian from his rest. Weary though she'd been, there was still fight in her, and the chittering of some chitinous abomination was silenced in a flurry of hammer blows.

She made it a short way up a mountain trail before overturning a few stones that had fallen across the unused path, fumbled to dig a small pit. Carefully, she lay the mask and hammer that Lucian had given her to rest, a short cairn the only grave marker she'd been able to give her father. They never recovered a body, so this was the best she could manage. The gear of a fallen hunter, somewhere free from the threat of scavengers finding it.

She'd return to find him still asleep, even though it was now past noon by the time she returned, groggy and answering her brief spark of concern with only a bitter smirk. "Come on, let an old man sleep..." he grumbled, Helen taking a seat at the table. "Odin's eye, you don't look any older than me. Don't tell me this is what a shrike does for half the day."

"Well I feel twice your age, so there. Besides, got firewood and stew on for the next two days, twice that depending on how soon you're leaving." he remarked. "I'd give it a bit though. There's a storm coming in...I can feel it. One advantage to having your best friend come within a few inches of taking your leg off."

At that, Helen gave a little sigh, then a nod of agreement. "You're right. There is a storm, but not that sort. How long have you been out here? The Veil itself is being torn apart..." Lucian just shook his head. "Not long before it all went pear-shaped. This area has been a mess of Veil...things, since that very day. No idea if it's any better out there."

At that, she picked up her mask, and before the shrike could raise a hand to object, she made him don it, activating it with the tap of a gauntleted finger. All around, it seemed like there was the glow of endless portals, endless holes in reality, piercing the haze limiting the mask's sight range. Brighter than it ever was before, even during the very peak of zero day.

If he had the strength to, if he wasn't already so worn down physically and mentally, he'd be laughing mad at the sight of it all. All he could manage was a tired chuckle, trembling hands fumbling blindly to remove the mask, blind himself to a clairvoyance he'd never experimented with before. "They were right, weren't they. Cultist bastards knew this would happen..."

Helen sat back down. The energy had left her, as the reality of what she had been seeing over the past month in her mask's vision sank in properly, adrenaline and resolve faded at last, her final mission ending without the blood-soaked closure she couldn't bring herself to obtain. "I don't know. This seems so much worse than what the Keepers were claiming, but...there's nothing we can do."

Lucian glanced at her, so weary and yet lacking the roughness, the scars he'd picked up along the way. Cloak kept her from staying too beat up for long, he figured. Finally, he was managing something close to a genuine smile. "Came here to kill me, and now you're spending your final moments with me. If I didn't feel another 30 or so years older than I am..."

"Wh-n-not like that, that wasn't what I was implying, gods damnit!" she said, sitting up straight with a renewed spark of fury. "It's just, we're not going to finish what's left of our past like this. Might as well just...wait it out. If we survive, whatever survival means when reality itself is falling apart...we'll see. Go our separate ways, stick together, I don't know..."

"Heh. Fine then. If we survive, and we don't find ourselves dumped on the surface of Mars or something, an extra pair of hands would be nice. Working set of legs too, for that matter." he remarked. "Pleasure meeting you,, Helen."

Across a hundred thousand realities, a dozen hands pulled at an ever-more-threadbare patchwork of worlds. Each pulling the fabric of reality in every direction, lesser powers clawing at decaying threads in a scramble for purchase. Some worked deep and close into this growing hole in existence and risking their own destruction, some working at strings from a less precarious distance. All unknowing or uncaring about trillions upon trillions of galaxies within these strands, planet upon planet suffering uncountably infinite armageddons in the process.

Distant powers exerted influence of their own, steady hands weaving a hundred worlds at a time as they worked their machinations. From far above, ever so distant, a shrouded figure worked to steady fraying strands. From far below, yet of the same origin as the stranger above, a treacherous thing sought his own hold on the cosmos, working a thousand gambits against a thousand unknowable, distant plots of his rival. And in the abyss all in-between, with neither origin nor end, a hungering darkness awaited the feast as reality unraveled and frayed, already sending the least of their endless host to gnaw upon untainted threads.

And woven all within a particularly-thin patch of the tapestry, caught up in scarcely a hundred universes, a broken four-fold thing slumbered. If awakened, it could effortlessly contest all but the most distant of the powers warring over these crumbling realities. But if it awakened, the fraying of reality in its wake may well cast all the powers present into the abyss, then drag the abyss and its lurking hungers into depths even the immortals feared.

Just as another thread frayed and snapped, the dreaming thing stirred. Those all in between looked on with both fear and hunger, and all within paused. Shimmering fragments of a destroyed reality scattered over and all throughout its sleeping expanse, disturbing its dreams for but an instant. But it returned to its rest, tangled within one less timeline.

But as these motes of broken existence drifted off its body, the dreamer's movement denied the hungering darkness their table scraps. For much of the cast-off reality settled on another thread the dreamer was a part of, and two realities became one. Other pieces of the destroyed world settled, adrift among the tapestry to settle all throughout.

And one tiny mote of reality found its place, far from those closest threads, yet with a faint hope for a new future...

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