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1
Rec Room / Re: A History of Time to Come
« Last post by saltmummy626 on March 24, 2020, 07:49:03 am »
The Casino was empty today, out of respect for the recently deceased and the young lady he'd left behind. A lot of establishments were closed in fact, even those operated by people migrated to the area after the events that had made the man a hero to the New Paris refugee center, now called the New Paris administrative building. A town had sprung up around that center after the influx of people coming to New England and the establishment of the Big Smoke Caravan Company. In fact, life had become relatively pre-cataclysmic in New Paris. So what if the rare undead lurched its way into town and the world outside had become something not nearly but almost entirely fantastical? Life was stable, and people could still mourn the dead in peace.

"Charity!" L shouted across the lobby, "Get your butt over here! Family meeting! And put whatever it is you've fished out of those pockets back!"

There came a hushed "shoot" from the front of the casino, near the always in use coat room, and after a moment a young mouse featured women shuffled hurriedly from behind the Casino's broad crescent shaped front desk to present herself before L along with the other "employees." It was easy to tell, even among their oddly uniform kind, that the boss of the outfit also happened to be their mother. To look at the dour head of the casino's security though, you'd never know he was their father.

"You've all done really well this month, staying out of trouble. Cept' Macie, who isn't here right now because as we all know, she's gone and got herself arrested again. Kurt, Abby, Dwayne, you three can go." L said, giving the last with an approving grin.

"Aw, ma, why do they always get to skip the meetings?" Said Charity. Chyna stood close next to her, picking something out of her unusual black fur. Several of L and Mohammad's thirteen children had been marked out as unusual in such a way, making known to the father some small mutation he himself had no knowledge of until testing for the cause.

"Because Kurt, Abby, Dwayne, and Remington are good boys and girls, and the rest of you aren't. You've all been taking things from customers. You've done well this month, but that doesn't mean you haven't been doing it. None of you are quiet as bad as Macie..." L explained harshly, leaving the comment about her most ill behaved daughter hanging for a moment. Of all the children, Macie was the most overtly criminal. Most of them had small vices, mostly picking pockets or small slight of hand thefts from hotel rooms when the traders were in town, but only Macie had the gall to outright threaten and rob others. A bandit well and true was Macie Stuart. Her recent bit of "work" had landed her in the New Paris big house for two years. Two years, or until L paid her bail. L would pay the bail after all, but only once she'd thought Macie had been punished enough. L could swing the cash for it. After all, the casino had been her finest and most profitable gamble. "But I still don't appreciate it when clients come to me asking about 'lost' property, only to go and find one of you suddenly had more allowance than you should or suddenly come into a fancy new piece of clothing or toy or something."

The children stood nervously in a line, knowing that they'd done wrong but seemingly helpless to stop. L was mad at them, but she still loved them all. After a long moment of silence, she sighed. "What am I going to do with you?" After an even longer silence, one of the children cleared his throat. Andre, one of L's better behaved kids, quietly piped up.

"Uh, ma? I uh, gotta get to work. The next scav crew is heading out this afternoon..."

L grinned again, Andre was a crook like her other kids, but he at least had a job outside the casino. One that won him some favor not just with her, but with the whole family. "Yes sweety, while you are out do you think you could look for new pinball machines?"

"I suppose ma." Andre said, perking up a little. He had his burglary game, but that was becoming less and less of a focus for him. His talents were better put to use in this other more noble trade. "Might have to go further afield for that though. Most of the machines we've seen close by have Auntie Catnip's mark on them."

"Auntie Catnip won't mind if you cover over her marks with the casino's, and if she does then she won't be after you about it. She'll come to me and I'll smooth things over. She owes me a favor anyway." L mused, then said, "Don't forget your sandwich sweety."

The man stood quietly behind L, put away the old phone he'd been playing with and reached into a paper bag on the card table next to him and fished out a long object wrapped in brown paper. "Andre, Salami and three cheese on white with mustard." Mohammad mumbled while rummaging, then offered it with a faint, and some might think fatherly, smile.
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Rec Room / Re: A History of Time to Come
« Last post by RedVulnus on March 22, 2020, 01:11:13 am »
As Drifter sat down in the booth at the bar TJ finished ordering their food and drinks.The pub hadn’t changed since he’d left a half year ago and neither had the clientele he noticed as he scanned the room. He recognized a few faces, namely the troublemakers that always frequented anywhere that sold or traded alcohol, but no one that he thought would cause him problems.

He was shaken from his observation by the feeling of TJ sliding into the booth next to him and leaning against his side. Quietly putting his arm around TJ Drifter enjoyed the quiet moment. For just a second the rest of the world faded away.

That too passed as their waitress brought their drinks and food a few seconds later. TJ handed her a coin before she started off towards another table and the two started to eat. A breakfast of steak and eggs with toast and sausage, TJ with an order of juice and Drifter with an irish coffee.

“So that was my trip, how were things here?” Drifter asked as he cut into the steak and took a bite. He was surprised at how good the steak tasted and took a moment to savor it.

Shrugging TJ finished his mouthful of egg and said “Same old same old. Alice never lets me do anything interesting anymore, just over see the workshops and then makes me check the post office every other day. She doesn’t even want me to go with the scavenging parties..”

Drifter didn’t say anything for a moment, taking a drink of his coffee, but he did notice TJ trailing off and his frustrated tone of voice. Of course he understood why Alice was a bit overbearing with TJ, the two had basically become brother and sister after all, but still it was odd just how overprotective she was.

“But I guess it’s not all bad, things are pretty safe around here. I get to check out all the newest stuff the engineers here make and try some of it out too. Sokolov even let me shoot the fifty cal converted AK he had specialty made for him.” TJ said in a not so successful attempt to sound cheerful.

“Sounds like fun. Tell you what though I’ll see if you can come with me once Alice and I talk about these parts she had me run to go get. A trip to New Paris at least.”: Drifter said, smiling at the look in TJ’s eyes in response.

“Alright, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to New Paris. Wonder how the place is doing.” TJ said before taking a bite of his steak. Drifter was still perplexed by the fact that TJ needed to eat. How TJ explained it was that his system took the food and converted it into mana that his body both needed and naturally produced. Still odd to think a skeleton needed to eat.

They finished their meal in relative silence and then decided to go for a walk while they waited for Alice to get back. As they left Drifter decided to ignore the whispered insults about TJ and himself as they walked by. He didn’t need another fight today.

Alice meanwhile took her leave and made the trek back to Walkerville. She watched birds fly overhead and listened to them sing. Her radio was still turned off as she walked and tried to enjoy the surroundings without thinking about Dee. Eventually she passed through the gates and made her way to her house.

That still stung, her house. Flicking it on she called over the radio “Drifter you better be here by now, you know where to meet me.”

Drifter arrived after only a few minutes and Alice saw TJ stop and lean beside the door. Another few minutes and they were in the basement as Drifter said “So now I finally get to know what this big secret project is?”

Alice walked around the table that lay in the middle of her basement as Drifter stopped at the base of the steps. “Alice..is that what I think it is?”

Pulling the sheet off Alice revealed the body of B-23, which in it’s current state looked like a collection of parts jerry rigged to work together mixed with bits of the human body. What was there that was human was connected to a machine that simulated the normal bodily functions such as a beating heart and breathing lungs. Drifter stared at this for a few moments before shaking his head “Hell no. I’m out and I’m taking this shit with me.”

Alice took the few steps necessary to close the distance and grabbed Drifter’s arm “Oh no you aren’t! I run the organization that pays you Bandit and I paid you extra for this!”

Drifter stared at Alice through the helmet he was wearing and evaluated his situation. The man on the table was similar to her father but he knew he was different. He’d seen the man fight. “Alice, I know you haven’t really gotten over your dad’s death but that guy on the table ain’t him and he never will be.”

Alice said “You’re my friend, I thought you were going to help me!” she shouted at him.

For a moment Drifter questioned himself. But then he remembered what B-23 had done five years ago and shook his head. “I am Alice, even if you don’t think so. And before you think about threatening me with your little postal service I’ve got just as many friends, some of which are very dear to the both of us.”

Alice stared at him for a few seconds. He could see the mixture of emotions in her expression as the two sat there, both quietly moving their hands towards their holsters. Then she let go and turned away cursing Drifter under her breath. “See you around Alice..I hope things get better.”

Walking back outside TJ fell into step beside him. As they made their way towards the gate TJ said “Why do I have a feeling we’re not going to New Paris?” and Drifter sighed. Then he began to explain things.
3
Rec Room / Re: A History of Time to Come
« Last post by saltmummy626 on February 11, 2020, 04:40:50 am »
The whistle over the chapel let loose it's mournful howl, signalling the coming of dinner and the start of the evening break. Not that there was anything keeping the people working in the chapel of Agmen from taking a break whenever they wanted. It was more about keeping the faithful from over working themselves. Long ago, when the workshops had been first completed and Catnip's train had been moved into the chapels berth, the mechanic found that Agmen's adherents would easily lose track of time and work themselves half to death in the pursuit of creation and invention, and so she had installed the whistle to remind them not to do so. Hammers and wrenches would be set aside, aprons and goggles hung up, and welders switched off as Agmen's followers prepared to cool off and unwind for an hour. All except one. In a quiet corner of the chapel, a lone Misling taps away at rivets in a piece of metal.

"Why can't I get this right..." She mumbled, adjusting her die preparatory to bringing down her tiny hammer onto the too cool metal. Tap tap tap, and a sigh. Rose didn't want to use the riveting machine, it could ruin the detailing on the piece, but lacked the talent of her mentors for manual work. Catnip would tell her the problem, but Catnip was busy. Catnip was at a funeral and would be away from the chapel workshop for several days. Visiting her would be out of the question, tactless even. Rose set down her hammer and die, and frowned at the work before her. Steel rivets littered the table with only a few actually in the metal she was working with. It was just a simple decorative plate, and she'd been working on it all day. An embarrassing amount of her time had been poured into it. The filigree she'd worked so hard to get just right was perfect, but the rivet work was less than ideal.

"Steel rivets have to be heated every few strikes Rosey." came a familiar voice from beside her, making her jump a little.

"Ms. Walker! You startled me, what are you doing here? I thought you were going to a funeral?" Rose asked. Catnip had come up on her so quietly that she'd not noticed the low tap of the cane on the hardwood floor of the chapel. The old mechanic rubbed the bridge of her nose where it had been broken and mended and broken again on several occasions and smiled warmly, and a little sadly.

"Dee's funeral ended hours ago. Kathrine and I stayed awhile longer to say our goodbyes, but... Well, we can't linger long. Your details are nice." Catnip explained. The compliment wasn't a surprise, the mechanic some of Agmen's faithful called "artifex" was very free with her compliments. Despite how common they were, such small accolades were still greatly appreciated. More appreciated was the advice that usually came after. "Heat your rivets to red before tapping them down and rounding them off. As soon as the metal starts to turn dark, heat it up again." She watched the young artist for a long time, giving advice here and there on how to strike each rivet, how to hold the torch, and how much heat to apply.

"It's done, I think." Rose said as she set aside the hammer and held up the plate of decorated metal. "Thank you Ms. Walker."

Catnip waved away the thanks and looked at what the girl had wrought. Simple spiraling patterns on a cylinder of super alloy, a purely decorative sleeve of metal for a truly important piece of Catnip's own revolutionary technology. The final part of a vortex engine. Rose was one of Catnip's special few, her chosen individuals, to work on the rare engines. It didn't matter to Catnip that Rose had very little mechanical aptitude, Agmen himself had shown Catnip who to select to replace her. Rose had been one of five. She watched the way Rose moved the sleeve in her hands with a dexterity that belied her lack of skill.

"Rosey?" Catnip said finally, "Can I ask you a favor?"
4
Rec Room / Re: A History of Time to Come
« Last post by RedVulnus on February 10, 2020, 01:26:43 am »
TJ adjusted the bandages wrapped around his body as he leaned against the tree. Of course he had stopped caring if people knew he was a skeleton at this point and wore them more as a formality. It was expected that he hide his ‘grisly’ appearance after all. Of course he could just sit at home and wait for the next assignment of his but Alice had asked him to meet someone on the road to Walkerville.

At first he’d protested saying he could be doing more important things than waiting on the roadside. But after Alice had told him who he was waiting for he’d agreed to the job. After all it had been nearly six months since he’d spoken to the man.

The Altyn helmet that the man approaching was wearing clued TJ in that it was the man he was waiting for. “You’re late Drifter.”

For his part Drifter shrugged and tossed the backpack he was carrying to TJ. Drifter, formerly the drug king Bandit, had returned five years ago and had since began working on a secret project with Alice. “Sorry, Eve kept pestering me to get her some upgrades on the way. Getting ornery about those these days.”

TJ nodded as he heard her voice pick up in his earpiece “Yes, because they’re necessary for our continued mutual survival which you seem to take for granted.”

The two men shared a smile, the glamours that TJ subconcsciously kept up softening his appearance and manipulating it into a more cartoonish and expressive appearance that most could easily tolerate. “Good to hear you two haven’t changed in half a year. Did you get the stuff Alice wanted?”

Pulling the visor open Drifter leaned forward and kissed TJ on the cheek as he took the cigarette. “Of course I did hun. But that talk can wait till the band gets together. For now we ought to catch up.”

TJ turned to follow as Drifter took a drag of the hand rolled cigarette. “How was the trip? I know I’ve asked over the radio but I just..I’m curious.”

Drifter looked over at TJ and couldn’t help but wonder how they’d ended up here. The two had met five years prior and over the first year had tentatively developed a strong bond. After that things had escalated rapidly. Still it struck Drifter just how little TJ knew about the world despite having Alice watching over him like he was her little brother after the ‘incident’. “It was interesting, I had to ride a dirt bike at breakneck speeds through a forest when some Hounds chased me. Ended up in these beautiful caves, crystal stalactites everywhere..”

Elsewhere Sokolov finished topping off the fuel tank of the motorcycle Drifter had dropped off at the courier way station. Alice had established this place as part of her new project four years ago and Sokolov had taken up being it’s caretaker. Waysation ARK was a hotspot for couriers and travelers alike now providing a safe spot to rest and get supplies.

Howard had disappeared shortly after their stay at Walkerville had begun. Sokolov stayed behind as a way to pay penance for his misdeeds in life. Working alongside Alice the community center they’d made in Walkerville he’d decided to move here on a permanent basis when Alice had made it as a stash spot for the couriers of hers. From there it had been built up into the small hub it was now.

But the couriers knew why it really existed. One rule. Unspoken and unbroken by the couriers as it was passed from the experienced to the greenhorns. The last leg of the journey to Walkerville you walked. Ten miles from ARK to walkerville, only one exception that had never been used.

Only Alice knew how the tradition had started and no one asked. The couriers had learned not to. Sokolov didn’t dare ask after he’d seen the end result.

He was broken from his thinking by the thud of a bag hitting his counter. Looking up to see a courier waiting he motioned for him to speak “Package for Walkerville. Just need some water for the walk.”

Sliding it across he noted that a greenhorn had gotten a Walkerville package. “How’d it end up with you?”

Taking the metal canteen the man replied “My trainer got killed by some folk trying to steal it. Miss Rose had a team out to scrounge it and they gave it to us..me.”

Nodding Sokolov eyed the man and noticed the tattoo poorly covered with makeup. “Uh huh..no one calls her Miss Rose.”

Two of the couriers grabbed the man from behind and started to haul him into another room. Opening the package Sokolov nodded and motioned another over. “Take to Alice. And no water recruit, this is your first walk.” he said before moving to go deal with the cultist straggler.
5
Rec Room / Re: A History of Time to Come
« Last post by Wheel-Son on February 09, 2020, 01:00:08 am »
   Before the fall of Abbadon, and the construction of the Brand. A suit of armor stood in the center. He gripped a claymore made up of an exotic white metal, with runes along the blade.
   “...There isn’t any other way?” The Chosen asked,
   A voice spoke up from within himself:
We have failed in our mission. The means to truly sunder the parasite in one fell swoop...but we have the means to bind it. Wound it. Then...look to the horizon. Void awaits...and that which has been smote by the scarring flames can fall prey to it.
   The Chosen paused for a moment, glancing at the Ritual Blade in his hand. “I… See. There was a reason that you had me restore my old blade…”
   He paused once more, “My soul for binding that parasite?”

   Yes. It would've been sufficient to use the axe, but then your essence would be consumed. It is your tie to the old weapon that allows a...third option, of sorts. The Veiled King spoke once more.

   The Chosen undid the chestpiece from his armor, revealing the large sigil on the backplate. He gripped the claymore by the crossguard, the point pressing against the sigil. The Veiled King seemed to gasp at that.

   I hope that you realize, that it will be a long, arduous journey before you will be reunited with the hunter...it will ensure you have earned your penance, but there will be grave risk. If you falter in your crusade against Those Below, your very being will be lost, farther into the abyss than the limbo I first called you from. If you are certain…

   The Chosen pressed the blade against the sigil further. “Absolutely.” He confirmed, driving the sword through himself. The sigil and sword’s runes began to crack with blue energy. The Armor, no, Horace drove the blade in deeper, keeling over. Parts of the armor began to fall off, the left arm, the helmet fell into the chest and a pauldron sloughed off.
   The Veiled King spoke up one last time…

   By this mark of freedom, emancipation from your servitude to me, you enter into a new oath. And with it, draw out the parasite, and forge the chains that others shall bind him with…

   The Leather began to petrify and the armor and sword fused together, before Horace exploded with a concussive blast, blowing away the parts of the armor into the sky. As the ground cracked open and formed a peculiar symbol.

   The Brand.

   Like clockwork, or rather, fate… Three people had a piece of the armor land near them.

        An Unaging Gunslinger.

   The Iron Marshal.

   And The Hunter of Hunters.

   Years after the construction of The Brand, inside of an old and creaking mansion, where hunters of the wicked and otherworldly gathered, an old hunter of hunters lit a quintet of candles, fingers of bronze delicately gripping the match with a steadiness unusual for his advanced age. Four flames, surrounding a candle of distinctly pristine white wax, of a clarity greater than the other four candles. "For the hunters who have fallen."

        Then, he lit the fifth, a peculiar blue flame taking to the wick. "And to those who still wander, but are not yet lost..."
6
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by saltmummy626 on February 08, 2020, 02:27:24 am »
[written by a dragon and a salty boi]

Hector crossed his arms impatiently and grunted in obvious annoyance. "If you have something to say, then say it. We aren't enemies come out of the wilderness to pillage and murder, and I'm not sure what she was like before but Medeina has been perfectly well behaved since we recovered her." At that Hector cocked his head, remembering the vault and the incident with the chicken walker, "mostly well behaved." Dr. Chelsea suddenly looked very tired, but not altogether unwilling to give up on the issue.

"I just..." He began, "I have a hard time believing she doesn't have some kind of ulterior motive. She didn't back then, but things change. She can change. Her program structure is designed to change. Its an evolving system and the only limit to it's growth is how much hard drive space it's got. Mr. Lowe, please, I just need to know... You at least aren't going to upload her back into her old systems?"

Hector shook his head at that. The way he seemed so concerned was worrisome, but from what he'd seen he was at least still willing to give Medeina the benefit of the doubt. "No. Given our current objective entails assembling a proxy she can move around in, putting her in an old network that likely isn't fully-functional anymore would be rather the opposite of that." he pointed out.

However, the tone in his voice did betray that his remarks had given him pause momentarily. "If she does try that however...I'll be the first to put a stop to it, by any means necessary."

Medeina waggled wildly at the implications and insinuations being passed around, but said nothing. Were she an organic being, she would huff and pout at all of it. She couldn't lie and say the promise of possible data wasn't a dire temptation, but if the systems were really as damaged as implied, then it would be dangerous for her to do anything about it.

Chelsea was staring at her, realized she hadn't stopped waggling her limbs, and made herself stop. "Set me down Ms. Minx, please? I'll be waiting in the siege tower Mr. Lowe." To the knight and naturalist, the robot sounded a mix of agitated and unhappy. Minx shot the doctor a withering look, and followed after.

"I'm sorry if I can't put whole faith in your words Mr. Lowe, but I suppose it will have to do. I, um, I guess with that said... You wanted something here?"

Hector gave a little nod at Medeina's remarks, gesturing to suggest that Minx go ahead and let the machine wait by the tank for now. "It was Medeina's idea that we check here for parts needed. Graphene primarily, possibly solar cells for vehicle and the settlement's use. We're from a community named Walkerville, built off an old farm a few miles from here." he explained.

"The storm just about ruined a lot of equipment our main engineer, name of Catnip, had set up there. Between that and a growing settlement in the nearby refugee center..."

Chelsea scratched the side of his face and frowned deeply, a man unsure of what to do about what he saw as a serious problem. Then, with a sigh, he turned away. "I'll get my manifest..."

When he returned, which Hector hadn't been sure that he would, he had in hand a few pages of the kind of thin cheap paper used by government bureaucrats. "The storm stirred up and displaced a lot of creatures... Especially raptor shrimp, so I'd stay in your tank until you get to the core facility. Most of what you want will be in the core facility since that's where the holding cells were. Except solar cells, you could probably find those under a cover outside the Tenjin facility, since he was undergoing expansion." The sheets of paper contained a familiar manifest.

"How did you get this if the facilities are shut down?" Hector asked while looking over each item and noting other things that might be useful to collect.

"Medeina made sure I had a print out copy." Chelsea said with an unconscious sneer, "She made sure I had a lot of information..."

"This checks out, looks to match Medeina's suggestions. Pleasant surprise then." Hector remarked, giving a polite nod. "Thank you, hopefully this doesn't disturb the wildlife too much. You be careful as well, alright?"
7
Rec Room / Re: A History of Time to Come
« Last post by Chaosvolt 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.

Quote
"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."
8
Rec Room / A History of Time to Come
« Last post by saltmummy626 on February 07, 2020, 09:06:28 am »
It had been a somber affair despite how damn cheery the day around it had been. Catnip and Kathrine had stayed long after everyone else had gone home, but not as long as two others. Medeina stood still by the other, letting the light of day play off the matte white finish of her body and reflecting the bluish hue of the others scaled skin off the few more reflective details. Medeina offered a tissue to the other and she took it gratefully, but quietly. She had scales, like her father but bore the eyes and hair of her mother though these last could said to be far more organized than the woman's unlikely matron. Two pair, rather than the mothers multitude of ocular orbs vying for space in one socket while the other filled out with only a single large and relatively normal eye. She was short and plain, comparatively to other mutants her age, and wore a pair of spectacles over her lower eyes.

"Take all the time you need Miss Mona." Medeina said again, feeling a bit foolish but none less saddened by the sudden passing of the girls father. An issue with his cybernetic heart. In the pre-cataclysm, his CBM would have been replaced with something better long before the unit wore down, but this wasn't the pre-cataclysm. The robot glanced around, scanning first the twin graves of the girls mother and father, then the others. Nearby, she saw the grave of the old cowboy. Floyd. Someone, possibly the ranger, the cyclops, or possibly Catnip, had left an offering of flowers in the bronze vase atop the stone marker. A man had come to them seven years prior by the name of Duke. Floyd's brother. He'd come and taken Kathrine prisoner on behalf of some vile benefactor, and Floyd had stepped in. The duel that followed had ended both men's lives, but not before Floyd had given his goodbyes to his children both biological and adopted.

A cloud moved across the sun and momentarily blotted out the light. When it cleared again, Medeina caught the glint of light on brass. A brass star. A Misling police officer was moving up the gravel path towards them. The uniform was different, less blues and browns and more grays and blacks, but even in these degenerate times an officer of the law was an officer of the law.

"Good afternoon Officer Remington. How is your training progressing?" Medeina asked, momentarily forgetting herself.

"Finished up last month ma'am. How are you, besides the obvious?" He asked back, internally kicking himself for the blunt awkwardness of the question.

"Poorly." Medeina said simply and perhaps a bit sharply. Mona said nothing, having not even registered the man's approach or the short exchange that had followed. Remington had missed the ceremony due to extenuating circumstances, but better late than never he had supposed. He put a hand on Mona's shoulder and squeezed gently. A long silence followed, then the officer leaned over and put something on the grave along with all the rest of the flowers and things people had left. A small electric car. At that moment, as though the sight of it had pulled some deep sad memory from her, Mona began to weep.



Jennifer strode into the New Paris Rangers meeting room and slapped her files onto the table before taking a seat and sorting through them, preparing for the coming meeting. The funeral had been hard, especially since even with a crowd of cyborgs and mutants in attendance, it had been just too similar to her own father's funeral. Further, she felt bad for the young lady Dee was leaving behind. So much promise and potential in the girl, but at a time on her life where she was unsure of what she really wanted to do with it. Jennifer had had the benifit of being a marine at the time, Mona had no such anchor in her life. She had friends, of course, but no sense of what she should be doing. Jennifer shook her head to clear it and leaned over to where the fries were before stopping herself. Cheena, the spirit within her, loved fries and demanded them daily. The spirit kept Jennifer healthy and slim, but it was bad for her image to go around gorging herself on fried and salted potatoes. Not that her image wasn't already... Questionable.

The first of her rangers entered quietly and gave her a quick nod. Sylvester "Jannisary" Chetwood, her second 'chosen' ranger. A man ten years her junior with long brown hair tied behind his angular face, smooth tan skin like cappaccino, and slightly angular eyes that made him look determined and a little pissed. Atomos had wanted him for his skill with a rifle, but he'd since shown other noteworthy qualities as well.

"Is Roots here yet?" He asked. Jennifer shook her head and leaned over to the fries again. Rather than take any, she pushed the tray in his direction and he took a handful. Khaki "Roots" Jones was mostly the rangers radio operator and well known to New Paris. Jennifer was quite happy to poach Khaki away from New Paris and it's growing beurocracy.

"I'm here, I'm here," Khaki huffed, "Cher- I mean, Hussar just checked in. She won't be back for another three days. Asked her to send along the news of Mr. Koenig's passing to her client. Ms. Running-Wolf didn't seem to take the news very well."

"Okay." Jennifer said, "Then I guess it's just us today then since Poncho and Cisco are still out on cabbage patrol. Well, us and Guidebook."

"Guidebook never comes to the meetings..." Sylvester grumbled.

"He's not technically a ranger." Jennifer mused, "He doesn't have to come to them..."

"He's a weaselly little piss ant." Khaki spat uncharacteristically.

"He's leaving anyway." Jennifer dismissed, then sighed, "I miss Carrie." Carrie Willinsdotter had been the first "Guidebook," and as Guidebook she had been an exemplary keeper or records and a fantastic partner in the New Paris annual pub trivia event during the spring fair. They'd lost Carrie in the battle of Puller's Reach. The sight of her standing over Sylvester, scared shitless but still shooting, had stuck with Jennifer for a long time after the fight. That and seeing the man the people of New Paris called the Iron Marshall laying in a heap inside his totalled tank after a DU shell had struck the ammo rack. Hector had survived the battle in the end, Carrie had not.

"We all miss Carrie." Khaki husked, "I... Maybe we should just stop trying to find a new Guidebook? Its always felt kind of... Wrong." She slumped into a chair and disconsolately nibbled at a fry. Jennifer felt like she was back at the funeral again for a moment, then shrugged the feeling off.

"Yeah, I think you are probably right. I know Cherise's feelings on the matter, and can guess pretty well on what the others will think. Put it to a quick vote?" The others nodded, the vote was called, and the rangers agreed. After, they began to go over other business.



Catnip hobbled along slowly at Kathrine's side, brooding over the last thirty years of her life since emerging from a lab with a handler named Nathan. The train was not complete, and it had given her a sense of hopeless helplessness, especially after Mica had passed away. Catnip had sunk into a perpetual depression that had only lifted long after when she realized that "finished" was not the goal. Technically, she'd "finished" the train ages ago when she had finally put the finishing touches on the engine. Everything after that had just been... Adding on. She had been so relieved by this revelation that she'd made one of her rare visits to the Chapel of Agmen and gave a sermon.

Then, shortly after, Agmen had punished her (or so she thought) by breaking her back and forcing her to walk on a cane. Fortunately Catnip had already possessed a very nice cane, a gift from her late sister and brother in law and for some reason, using it had pleased and eased her.

"What do you think Kathrine?" Catnip asked the maid. Kathrine's sad expression didn't change and Catnip marveled again in the moment before the words came at just how little Kathrine had aged since they met. Catnip was only thirty now, but she was beginning to gray around the edges. Kathrine had not in the least.

"I think... I think we should help Mona..." Kathrine said. There was more there, Catnip knew, but Catnip wouldn't push it. The passing of their friend had hurt them all profoundly, but there was no question of helping her niece.

"Yeah. Give her time Kathrine. She came to us after Mica... Went. She'll come to us again when she's ready. Do you remember how to make that spiced apple stuff Dee had you make for her last time?"

Kathrine nodded somberly, she did. The maid knew that it would be needed. Nothing had made Mica and Dee's squishy smile like spice apple pie. There would be baking aplenty as soon as Mona was ready to talk.
9
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Chaosvolt 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...
10
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by saltmummy626 on November 29, 2019, 06:13:07 am »
Cole McKinsey and his brother Wade were having a bad day. It had all started the day before when the contract holder had finally reached out to them with instructions for delivery. It was the realization of who they were delivering too that had brought around the first tingles of trouble at the back of Cole's head. Their company had continued in seclusion after the Cataclysm, running as though they had been prepared for the lawless world that would come. From the people at the top to the men like Cole and Wade at the bottom, it was good business. Sort of. Making deliveries to people like Hoyt wasn't exactly what they'd originally been in for, but the men up top needed guys like the candy man to operate here and there. Make money in the foreign markets and all that. God knew they had their fingers in every pie up north already.

The second thing had been the nearly sleepless night of trying to contact Hoyt while fending off the undead, then later trying to contact Hoyt and his army of junkies while fending of Hell's Raiders. They'd managed to fight from street to street with the South's brand of unusually unkempt hordes while keeping their langourous cargo within their armored trailer safe with relative ease and success to find themselves only a few miles later being harried by the men and woman on motorcycles and in startlingly nimble trucks and cars. Stops and starts all night it had been until Cole had made the fatal mistake of trying to plow his big rig between two trucks making up a barricade across the road. On the other side, the rig had met the real trap. The bump. A log, split down the center and laid flat side down onto the road. The rig hit it at only slightly reduced speed, sending Cole's ass bone up into the back of his skull, Wade's teeth scissoring into his own tongue, and the rigs suspension up into the engine compartment. It had been less destructive than the raiders had thought it would be, Cole surmised from the dimly heard conversation outside the locked and armored cab, but it had disabled the semi.

When he came to his senses, Cole saw the man straddling a motorcycle pointing some kind of small automatic at him and slammed his fist into the emergency shutter switch on the dash. A split second later, the first two bullets punched into the seat between the brothers and then the shutter was between the shooter and them catching the rest of the slugs.

"Holy shit Cole!" Wade shouted, throwing an arm over his face. It sound more like "hoewee shid koh" coming from Wade's damaged mouth. Cole slapped the door locks in the same movement, and sealed themselves in. The brothers had been robbed on the road before, you couldn't well not in this day and age as a transporter of goods and services. He tried the radio again and got nothing, then he tried the short range and got the fizzle of static that said someone was transmitting. Every now and then, the ghost of a voice or other sounds would drift through the short waves tiny spraker. The two men sat in the cab and listened to that and sounds of the people outside trying half heartedly to get in. Wade took the time to stuff his mouth with gauze while Cole tried again and again to raise somebody, anybody, on the radio but nothing happened for a long few hours. Then, someone outside was addressing them.

"Excuse me, I need you to come out. We're taking your trailer." Said the voice. It sounded like a woman, good natured enough but authoritative. Next to Cole, Wade was shaking his head back and forth wildly and Cole could understand why. The men they worked for were not to be fucked with and neither was the man they were delivering to. "Hello in there?"

"Fuck off, ya hoser." Cole shouted, then nearly slapped himself.

"Hoser? What?" The woman asked, seemingly to someone else.

"They're Canadian..." Came a mans voice, "Quebec plates."

"Oooh. Okay." The woman quietly exclaimed, then to Cole, "Now come on, if you come out now I can at least make sure these guys don't decide to blow up your truck or cut their way in and string you both up. Your truck may still be running, but I gerauntee you it's not moving. We've already unhooked your trailer and are gonna have to tow your truck out of the way anyway. Make it easier on everybody and just come on out."

Cole could see them through the small slot he and his brother had cut into the armor playing over the windows. A woman with a luxurious fox tail, a taller more well built woman, and a man in a leather jacket. Beyond them was a collection of nasty looking folk smoking cigarettes, passing around a bottle of who knew what, and spitting the shit waiting for the action to start again. The two women were talking quietly to each other now, waiting for his response. "Wade, hand me the rifle." Wade did as he was asked and passed over the hunting rifle he kept behind his seat, but with a look on his face that said "Sure, I'll hold your beer, but you better be sure about this." Which wasn't far off the mark really. Cole did feel as though he was about to do something that warranted a request to 'hold his beer.' "I said fuck off!" Cole cried as he jammed the barrel of the rifle into the driver side porthole and squeezed off one quick shot. The man in the leather jacket dropped while the woman with the fox tail went into a dive/crouch that was too fluid to be anything but trained. The taller woman though flicked her wrist and drew some kind of rod and charged. There was blue fire, shouting, and before the brothers knew what was happening, they'd both been pulled from the trucks cab.

"Y'all right Hussar?" The fox woman asked the taller woman.

"I'll be fine. Burned myself worse when I was a little girl reaching onto the stove. How about them?" 'Hussar' said back. Wade was smoking lightly from his lightly charred jeans, but Cole had come through the still cherry hot cavity carved into the trucks armor with plenty of holes burned into his clothes and blisters forming on seared skin. The bandits checked over the man Cole had shot and determined that he'd be fine, and while they were at it others came and moved the McKinsey brother's semi, thoroughly looting the clients other orders from the back cab.

"Okay, that's good then. Fine work guys, get that other semi over here and hook it up so my me and my fellow ranger can take it back to our people. Send a rep from your clans to the location we talked about earlier and we'll have a cut ready to hand over, like we discussed." She looked around while the bandits went about the work, then let a broad warm smile cross her face. "I'm so proud of you lot working together."

"Atomos, what do with do with these two now? Should we take them back with us or..." Hussar asked, punctuating the 'or' with a little fingering of the rod in her hand. 'Atomos' gave the question some real consideration before asking back; "I mean, technically we are the bad guys here? I think?" Hussar shrugged a little. "Eh, we could just leave them here. It's your call."

"Yeah... Okay, we'll leave them tied up here and as soon as we've gotten a fair distance away, the Sun Dogs can decide what to do with them. That sound alright with you guys?"

The cheers that brought up was enough to tell Cole that the day was only going to get worse.
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NOCTIFER IS A FAGGOT