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Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Chaosvolt on March 21, 2019, 11:15:21 pm »
(( Written with Mrno, Wilson, Vulnus, and Wilson. ))

Solomon gave a little sigh as he set aside the tools finally, going to get a washbasin and a couple towels. He'd ended up spending most of the afternoon helping Cardin actually do the task that the avian was supposed to be doing on his own, mostly due to the difficulty those tools had posed, despite seemingly getting the hang of handling a blacksmith's hammer and chisel halfway through it. What was likely meant mostly to leave Cardin worn out and left with the mental image of a properly-made scale burnt into his mind mostly just left them both with sore hands and leftover rust to wash off.

Cardin's issues had largely come from how unwieldy his talons made holding a hammer and chisel properly, scraping his wrist whenever he tried to grip them.   Although, he didn't seem to mind whenever Solomon would help, sometimes helping the avian mutant adjust his grip, something that kept earning surprised little chirps from Cardin.   He rubs at his arms, trying to work out the aches from hammering.

Solomon set the newly-filled basket of feather-like metal scales aside, wincing a bit at the sharp ache left along both arms before helping get them both cleaned up, looking back to Cardin for a moment. "Still have to prepare dinner too...she said to help out with that, but er...can you cook?"

The mutant shakes his head, making a can opener gesture with his hands and then shrugging. Shuffling his wings a bit, he inches a bit closer to Solomon, before shyly chirping and shaking his head again.

Solomon sighed a bit at that. "How about, er...stew maybe. Simple and easy to make, it's mostly just pick good ingredients and the actually cooking isn't much more complex than heating a can would be." he said, trying to make it seem as simple as possible, to reassure the avian as he set a hand on his shoulder.

Cardin chirps quietly, nodding, eyes looking at the hand resting on him for a second before he returns his gaze to the cooking room, looking for something probably suitable to put in a stew and finding...  Canned beans, at first.  He holds the can out, tilting his head to the side and chirping inquisitively at Solomon.

Solomon gave a shrug at that, thinking they had dried ingredients that'd be a better fit, but soon enough the two got to work...

Helen had been just about done with getting things cleaned up after dinner, about to further talk to Solomon and Cardin regarding the tasks of the day, and to check up on them. Not to mention give them some reassurance that she suspected Cardin now needed, only for someone to practically throw the door to the main hall open. Branches. She was starting to get a bad feeling about this already.

Branches was very careful not to break the door, but that was about as careful as she got. She'd vaulted the wall and hid behind a small house that smelled of straw and dog for half an hour before she could work up the courage to move. As 'nice' as Helen had been that morning, Branches was still afraid of her. To her, it was like fleeing from wolves by ducking into the den of a sleeping bear.

She heard Helen say something, heard the sounds of surprise at her sudden noisy entrance, heard a clatter of arms being taken up. Before an arrow or spear could find her though or before a hammer could find her head, Branches flung open a large trunk and climbed in.

"There are mean people looking for me, I'm not here." Branches said through the thick wood. That wasn't much of an explanation, but at that moment detailed explanations were beyond her.

Helen blinked a bit at that, taken by surprise and likely annoyed not just by Branches' sudden intrusion, but now by the confusion of the others, most of which had no idea who this was nor any of the events that Helen already knew of. "Who?" she said, before quickly gathering cloak, mask, hammer, and that symbol of judgement.

She directed the others to get ready, handing over her wraithslayer to Solomon as well. As for others, her intended conversation with Victor was sidelined when, partway through trying to talk Green out of volunteering to join in, a sudden realization hit her. It stopped her dead in her tracks, as she realized the full gravity of the situation.

"'re staying in my quarters, keep Thomas safe." she said firmly, activating her mask and scanning the area outside, through the walls of The Hall itself. She then looked over to Cardin, shushing his excited chirps with a glare from under that mask. "No. We're already risking Solomon and Green, and they seem to be armed." she said, pointing in a couple directions, at what to an observer without a mask of insight on was merely a few different parts of the carved mural on the wall.

Branches sat curled up in the trunk and tried to focus. A tricky proposition from inside the cramped space, but doable. Why hadn't her scavengers warned her that someone was at her shack? Why hadn't they warned her that someone was wrecking her shack? She knew the answer already though. The truth was, they had. She'd been too wrapped up in Catnip and Kathrine's hospitality to notice, not to mention Hector. She wondered if he would come to rescue her and lost her concentration.

"C'mon, focus..." She growled at herself, and that seemed to work. The dark of the trunk seemed to take on a certain incorporeality and then was replaced by the somewhat brighter dark outside. She could see. From the eye of the one scout she had left, the fortunate construct that she'd sent along to follow the bandit earlier that day. It could see the bandits still, a group of them organizing vehicles and setting up tents around Branches clearing.  Scouts departing and returning the camp  to give updates on what was going on over here. Branches didn't know if she'd actually been followed or not, but Helen did. Helen knew and had seen. Scouts coming and going, checking the walls and trying to peek over. "Pssst. Helen. Anybody..."

Liam for his part had been outside with the wolf pup when he’d heard Branches storm into the Hall. Perhaps if he’d been paying attention he might have spotted one of the people observing the place, as is he started humming to himself a bit he walked over to the door and stepped inside. “What’s goin-” He was interrupted Helen mentioning someone being armed.

Sighing to himself he lowered a hand to his hatchet and looked back to the door. “Visitors..this’ll be fun.”

Helen was ready soon enough, catching glimpses of the scouts lurking outside, at the ready as Steinar and Liam followed close behind, Solomon and Green behind them in turn. "Alright. I'll want Solomon and Green to take places at the palisade, stay low and don't expose yourselves from unless things get heated." she said, picking up her handset and gave a sigh.

She hoped that breaking radio silence wouldn't prove to be a bad idea. "This is Helen. We have a situation here."

With most of the prep being carried out, there was one thing left to deal with. Helen gave the trunk a knock and from inside Branches gave a startled mewling noise that made Helen smirk. The trunk lid came up a few inches and the mage hunter expected to see the homunculus's eye peeking out, but it seemed that there wasn't enough room to allow Branches to look out without getting up on her knees.

"W-what?" she said in a hushed tone, "I'm cogitating."

"Hopefully about the consequences of your actions." Helen said, "Get out of there, you can't leave the rest of us to deal with this ourselves." The trunk lid settled back for a moment, then came back up again to disgorge a very unhappy looking homunculus.

"I don't want to hurt anybody..." She huffed, dusting herself off. Helen gave the perimeter another look. The scouts were thinning, but they'd be back. The real question was whether to bring the fight to these thugs, or let them besiege the Hall.

Helen grumbled a bit at that. "We may have to if they won't listen to reason. Moreover, you brought them here, where there are children." she said. Technically one child, one teenager, and two that were just barely adults, but she was still irritated at enemies being brought to her doorstep. At the same time, she realized there would be even more innocents potentially in harm's way had they been led to Walkerville.

Rather soon however, the handset perked up a bit belatedly. "Corporal Ford here. On it." There was the very beginning of Nathaniel's attempts to knock on the farmhouse door to wake Hector up overheard, a moment before he let go of the receiver.

Branches stuck close to Helen, silent. She really couldn't argue with her, since she was right. Branches had been surprised and panicked and fled to the closest "safe" place she could think of. The farm was further than the hall, and the hall had been hidden. Branches just didn't figure on the bandits following her, which was very dumb on her part.

Her scout caught sight of something on it's own short trip back to the hall. A single bandit settling in close to the river gate, tucked into the crook of a large swamp flanked willow. He said something into a small radio, before getting out a small pair of binoculars and peering around the tree to watch the gate.

"Settling in YJ, got the back gate on lock until morning." Crackled the radio in the hall, and that startled the operator. They'd heard his transmission, but it seemed they hadn't heard theirs.

"What do you want us to do Helen?" Someone asked. The mage hunter looked to the back gate and was disturbed by the lack of aura there.

"It could be a bluff, I wouldn't-" She began. Branches tugged at her arm and stopped her with a look. Not a bluff. Helen looked again. There was something there, but her mask couldn't see it. It was just a void. Then it hit her. A void. "What is she doing here? She's in no condition to-"

Branches flinched like she'd been jabbed in the eye and shivered violently, skipping and juttering like she'd got a serious case of the heebie jeebies. If she'd been able to see the man, Helen surmised, then she'd just witnessed what had almost certainly just happened to him and who had done it.

Floyd had been awake, as he often was these days. Slept on and off, short naps through the day. He could see Nathaniel practically hammering on the door to the house Hector and Roxanne now lived in, trying to wake the knight up. Roxanne was awake too it seems, she seemed to never even sleep anymore. He calmly sauntered over, giving a little wave. "Everythin' alright?"

Nathaniel looked back over to Floyd. "Helen radioed in. Said they have a situation or something, not much other than that. Hector's sleepin' like a log and Roxanne is staying here, so..." Almost immediately he grimaced a bit, suspecting the worst. They hadn't heard gunfire at least. "Radio silence, I reckon. Hold up a moment..."

He had an idea though, leaning into the doorway and speaking up. "Wake up, boy! There's a battle t'win!" he called out, and practically the instant he said "battle" the knight quite literally rolled out of bed and hit the floor. Actually does sleep in that damn chainmail, he thought with amusement.

Meanwhile, Helen grimaced a bit at the sight of another aura rather abruptly being cut short, then picked up her handset again. She tried to tune it to ensure that whoever was on the other end would hear them, this time.

"We're aware that you're here. For what reason have you come to this place?" she said into it, Solomon and Green taking their positions crouched at the walkway built into the palisade. She could see that they hadn't breached the gates, but she could see they were surrounded. The presence of a certain "void" complicated things further, as now they had until she either started stalking the other bandits or they discovered what was left of the bandit before they'd be forced into a fight.

There was no pause before the radio crackled back, "I want the one eyed bitch and the amethyst pyramids. Was gonna wait til dawn to start us off, but since you've decided to kick this lynching off already we can just get started now. Bring me that shit in half an hour or we can start shelling your little tree fort."

Helen smirked grimly at that. The woman on the other end sounded tired but ready to go. She also sounded completely unaware of what she was dealing with. She was cocky and pissed, whoever "she" was. Helen scooped up her own radio again and prepared to shoot back some bit of biting wit along with a refusal, when the feed was drowned out by a single pistol shit followed by a womanly screech the likes of which could only have come from the vocal cords of a man. They even heard it from inside the Hall, as it wasn't that far off. Helen knew from the way Branches covered her mouth, and from the sickened look of her, that Mica had taken another victim in rather spectacular fashion. Hopefully the shot hadn't hit the girl.

Remi's trance was broken by that loud screech as he looked back towards the hall. He turned off the electric lamp he was using, turning around and squinting towards the large group surrounding the Hall. "Oh." Remi said rather unceremoniously as he set aside the portrait of Walkerville and took out two smaller canvases, a vial of the magical ink, and his Gunto. He drew a campfire on one, with a smaller drawing with an altar under it, while drawing a larger version of the altar on the other canvas. Remi framed the small mob with his fingers for a moment, before stalking closer and chucking the canvas containing the campfire like a frisbee. He would settle a hand against the 'Altar' canvas, and the ink would glow on both of them.

Helen grumbled a bit and shook her head, giving a hand signal that Green just barely saw in the darkness, though it was Solomon she intended to signal, before again pointing out the closest scouts through the walls. With that she readied to open the gate, right as peculiar flickering firelight seemed to waver into existence, seemingly engulfing the scouts in their immediate vicinity.

Nearly the instant the gate started to open, from the top of the palisade a bolt of green light lanced through the air, leaving an expanding plume and a spray of thin streaks of light after ripping through a tree trunk, burning holes through the person on the other side. And as fire seemed to illuminate the treeline,  this gave Green targets to take potshots at as well, while the others remained behind cover. She'd only need to expose enough to stick that hammer out from behind cover, to cover their advance.

Elsewhere at the farm, there was the faint whine of an electric engine spinning to life, three men piled into the old light tank. Hector flicked a switch, the surrounding darkness perceived through camera displays fading to a slightly-brighter monochrome, the heat of a running generator and a few signatures standing out in the dim view offered.

"We won't be able to get positive ID from just thermals..." Hector pointed out over the crew radio, Nathaniel grumbling as he switched it to radioing out. "Ford here. Keep your men on overwatch, and away from the bridge." he said, before addressing Floyd, having manned the turret. "Gunner, load canister." One of those makeshift shells, Catnip's clever idea from those several years ago. Certainly more useful than AP shells were for 90% of things they ran into.

Though the tank's radio reply to The Hall would've barely been picked up even by the handset tuned to it, Helen's response was still, intentionally in fact, left so that all would overhear it. "Acknowledged. Try to leave two alive." she said, her tone rather cold compared to when she initially attempted to reason with their attackers.

The answer had come back, as far as Yellow Jacket was concerned. The people at that fort in the swamp weren't going to just hand the stuff over. Unfortunately, from her standpoint, that meant they'd called her bluff. Yellow Jacket no more had mortars or shells or anything else to hammer The Hall with than she had confidence in being able to coerce the woman over the radio now that they'd decided to fight back. They couldn't even hold off until morning like Yellow Jacket had wanted.

"Green light in the area around the fort ma'am." A scout reported, "Three men dead cuz a' some fuckin' monster outside the fort too. We should retreat boss."

"Retreat? You fuckin' pussy, just a bunch of survivors in a wooden fort." Yellow Jacket growled, "Get the men organized, we're fighting in the dark. Get-"

"EATER! EATER!" Someone screamed, then, "Holy shit, holy shit." A scream, excited gibbering, and fire leapt up from nothing. The camp didn't see the fires, but they saw the light and heard the screams. Yellow Jackets camp would have descended into confused turmoil then were it not for herself. She wasn't going to have another "Apis" situation on her hands, not again. This was threatening to turn into exactly that, and by the gods that were, Yellow Jacket would not put up with such a total failure again.

As soon as the gate was open, there was a brilliant flash of light cutting the darkness momentarily, alongside a thundering boom. Enough for the woman in her cloak of scales to rush out, Liam and Steinar close behind. The firelight that engulfed the few scouts surrounding the camp had left the two on the ramparts with little left to fire on, Helen checking for any more nearby foes before breaking away from the other two. She had to ensure the perimeter was secure, and find Mica before she either got hurt or attacked the wrong person.

"SKREEE!" came a familiar shriek from the newly erupting firelight as Helen emerged from the gate, and the silhouette of a wraithlike four armed creature scuttled, smoking, towards her. Clutched in one web covered hand was the bloody remains of an arm. "SssSSssS..." Mica hissed, "Stupid fires, stupid stupid..."

"Whatcha got there Mica?" Helen asked, stopping momentarily to make sure Mica was unharmed. The only wound she could find was a fresh crack in the chitin of her left leg. It was already filling in with hardening resin, and Mica didn't seem to be paying it much mind. The strange fire had bothered her more than the bullet being pushed out of her leg.

"Eh? Two-faces Hel-on! My-ka just gettin' snacks before going to see Hel-on's squishy! My-ka wants to see Squishy!" She waved the arm at Helen before tossing it aside. It left the spiders hand tailing a tail red stained silk, and Helen noticed the state of Mica. Still covered in silk, but now it had all been colored a grizzly red with what she'd been eating. Across the river, they could hear shouting.

Branches came up then, tugging on Helen's cloak. "They're organizing over there..." She informed the mage hunter.

Helen gave a nod as she turned towards Branches. "With me, Mica. Steinar and Liam are here too, so careful not to hurt them. Understand?" she said firmly.

"Ssss... but My-ka is hong-ree... sssss." Mica hissed petulantly. Branches shied away from the spider, turning a bit green again thinking about what she'd seen through the eye of her remaining watcher. "Ssss..."

"There's a whole day's catch of smoked salmon in it for you if you don't hurt any friendlies, okay?" she said, before making her way back towards where Branches indicated. They'd need to drive them back and take the road, and she hoped that the other two were doing well enough without her.

The sudden explosion of magical flame erupting among the treeline ahead answered that question soon enough, along the flicker of a magical aura darting across to embed itself in somebody, only to vanish and reappear back in Steinar's grasp.

Steinar led the way as he and Liam split away from Helen. Running full tilt the pair heard the gunfire from the tank a moment before Liam shouted to Steinar “On your left!”

Raising his shield Steinar blocked a handfull of pistol rounds as he charged another of the enemy. Bringing his hand back Liam focused for a moment as he said “Brand!” and brought his hand forward. The fireball that emerged from his hand flew through the air and caught the gunman in the chest.

As he started screaming due to his flesh and clothes burning Steinar swung the shield in his hand. The enemy he’d been charging found the makeshift club he’d been holding flying away from him as his hand shattered from the blow. He was about to scream when Steinar brought his axe into the side of the man’s head.

Rushing past Steinar Liam readied another fireball as Steinar followed close behind after removing his axe from the man’s skull. “Good eye lad, that one nearly got me.”

Elsewhere, the tank sped up, hurrying towards the bridge as they peered out at the woodlands and saw movement, people filtering into the woods and wetlands from a clearing, just across the river. "Gunner, canister, troops, north of road." Nathaniel directed through the radio, a calm drawl answering him. Almost like the old days, the both of them thought. "Identified." he answered, Nathaniel grinning a bit as the tank neared the bridge. "Index four hundred. Fire."

"On the way." The boom of a homemade canister shell announced their presence, fired into the very edge of the clearing as they pushed forward. They could take the bridge and hammer the clearing all they liked, but sooner or later Helen and the others were likely to drive their enemies across the road, and that'd require them to dismount.

The canister in the chamber fired with what Floyd would later call "a hell of a punch" and Hector would call "Way too much punch" as he carefully examined the cannon of his machine for damage later. The primer was struck, and the volatile cocktail of powders exploded violently, shredding the cannister at the tip of the shell and sending it's payload towards the point of the compass that had displeased the tanks operators that day. A cloud of pellets, BBs, gravel, ball bearings, nails, screws, bolts, nuts, and assorted small hard objects flew forth from the cannon and through the tanks viewfinder, the men inside the tank watched as what they estimated to be between fifteen and twenty men and women simply collapsed in on themselves amidst a red mist.

"Jesus fuck Nip..." Hector breathed, "I hope to Christ none of ours were in that." The explosion of the round resounded out across the area as such shots always did, startling up birds and knocking a few bats out of the night sky as well as scaring the living hell out of a certain homunculus who had never heard anything like it before.

"What was that!?" She cried, "Are they using their shells!?"

"No." Helen said, pushing on in the wake of Steinar and Liam. "If they had any, they would have started by now. No, that was probably Hector in his tank. I'm not sure what he'd use against people on foot though. Maybe it was a signaling shot or something to try and spook our foes?" The few scouts who were left hit the road ahead of the men and turned to fire, just in time to see some kind of ragged woman with four arms dart in front and take a comrades head off with a well aimed bite. There were a few left still trying to fight, a man with some kind of blade ran at Helen thinking her an easy enough target only to find himself being rolled over a pale white figure with one eye. This same figure gave a little twist as she flipped him and the move that was simply meant to make him cry uncle instead pulled the bone from it's socket in his shoulder.

"Fuck you!" Someone shouted, spraying bullets from some toy-like automatic pistol. The bullets embedded themselves in Steinars shield and only stopped coming when Mica vaulted over the viking and landed square on top of the shooter.

"My-ka's gotta feed her squishy, gonna be such a good squishy. My-ka's gonna be better than Lil-eth!" She hissed.

"What the f-" He began. No one dared to watch what happened next. They all heard the sound of the bite though. Tooth through bone, and the gurgle of a scream through something that wasn't quite a mouth anymore.

Meanwhile, Yellow Jacket was running. Running as fast as she could. First had been the cataclysm, taking all of her hard work and ambition away just as it took away the rest of the world as she'd known it. Then, that little chit with the black and yellow stripes and a horde of oversized bees. Now it was this. One little one eyed bitch who'd brought ruination upon Yellow Jacket once again. One. Single. Girl. The worst part was, this could have been prevented. She could have just backed down. Turned away. Said "fuck it, I'm not playing this song and dance again." No. It had taken seeing most of her gang turned to a screaming bloody mess in one fell swoop to get her to back down. Would she ever learn?

"Not fucking likely." She babbled madly to herself as she fled, "No, cuz you don't ever fucking learn your lesson do you old girl? No fucking way, not fucking likely."

As if all this wasn't enough, the road cleared for their advance, two more figures made their way down the road. A knight, and following close behind a gunslinger. They'd dismounted from the tank, though at this point there wasn't much left to mop up.

It didn't take long to sort through the dead and dying. For the most part, the bandits were dead. Catnip's canister had done the work Catnip knew it would and it was easy to see why she hadn't made more. Branches little clearing on the edge of the lake was now an abattoir and the homunculus looked at it with a sense of relief, but also a growing feeling of unhappiness. Her house was destroyed and her borrowed possessions scattered to hell and back. Helen put a hand on her shoulder in commiseration. She'd be invited to stay at The Hall until the 'mess' could be cleaned up and everything set to rights again.

The doings weren't such of a mess to Mica though. She watched, languidly relaxing at the edge of the clearing and waiting for the others to leave. The others picked through the wounded, taking any who were well enough to treat and putting down those with enough piss left in them to offer a fight or too far gone to recover. Mica would wait. She was a-hongry, needed to feed her squishy with more than nasty fruits and somewhat less nasty vegetables. Hector and Floyd gave their condolences to Branches as well, the little pale girl Mica thought of as "turnip," then mounted up and headed back to the farm. Likewise, Helen and Branches and the others from the hall squared away their business and made their way home. Leaving Mica in the dark by the waters edge. She waited for some time, then moved from the tree line to the waiting feast.

Helen, for her part, made certain that the others were unharmed, the whole lot rattled from the thunder of cannon fire earlier and the adrenaline of fighting, all too soon it seemed that what was supposed to be a grim affair was increasingly less morbid, between Hector and Steinar trying to one-up each other comparing the dents and other marks in their equipment, and Mica regarding the carnage in the clearing like a buffet just waiting to be sampled.

Helen however did have one very clear objective regarding the men they captured, retreiving the sword Steinar had given her, those years ago. They would have their weapons confiscated, and be sent back unharmed. All except one. She made it very clear to them. She had family here, and would not tolerate an attack on this place. Her thoughts turned to the fact that what she ended up doing was essentially human sacrifice, an offering to Odin. A thought she quickly banished from her mind, as this was a matter of making an example of one of the remaining survivors, not religion.

The blade bit deep into the man's back, separating ribs from the spine, several at a time with each strike, until it was sufficient to draw the lungs out through the twin cuts. What was left of the others would be for Mica to sort out, but the one chosen for the blood eagle was returned to the survivors to be carried back, to be buried or otherwise dealt with as they saw fit.

That just left cleaning up.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Wheel-Son on March 12, 2019, 09:15:54 am »
The trio had purchases a few more supplies, flour and other goods for the journey ahead, sold at cost given the aid they offered to the village in its hour of need, traded away for some of the coin Horace still had on him.

They would find, after getting ready, Abraham just outside the village, snapping branches off dead trees and sweeping up dead leaves, piling them onto a body. That of the sickly old mare that had weathered the journey this far. Whether it was the harsh blizzard or simply old age, the gunslinger wasn’t certain, but he suspected the latter.

Horace looked at what Abraham was doing, “...What are you doing?” He asked. Abraham shrugged, “Ground’s t'hard fer an actual burial.” He drawled matter-of-factly. Celine balked a bit at the sight, looking away in disgust, before she finally spoke up. “So where we headed next, anyway? Guess he’ll be riding in the wagon...”

“West. Across the mountains. We may find what we seek there.” Horace answered plainly, looking back towards the road. “There’s a mountain pass along the way, as well.” he added, Abraham hmming a bit. “Think yer wagon’ll be good enough fer shelter?” Ceiline gave a nod, “Should be… Not a whole lot of space though.” She explained, scratching her head for a moment.

Abe hmmphed a bit at that, looking down the old road. “Right. Better than a crowded chuck down to Santa Fe at least.” he remarked, getting a stare of confusion from Celine, and an amused chuckle from Horace, as he mounted his own steed. “Let’s go...”

They rode onward, along a cracked and worn old country road, running along the way towards one of the major passes in the Appalachian mountains, knowing full well they were in the shadow of a haven for the otherworldly and ethereal, and that way lay beyond was likely to hold even stranger things. The signs of life, at least earthly life, seemed to fade the farther along they went. However, every so often there were signs that some people occasionally still traveled these old roads.

“So why are we heading this way, anyway?” Celine asked, looking down from her position on the wagon at Horace. “Finding a way to deal with a threat we’re after.” he answered plainly, the mage shaking her head. “That...doesn’t explain much.” she remarked, only for Abraham to leaning out the wagon a bit, having overheard the conversation.

“Fuckin’ space shoggoth his talkin’ axe done sent him t’ kill. So what y’find up there anyway?” Abe added, an explanation that just confounded Celine further. Horace gave a little hmmph at that, gaze focused on the road ahead. “Got a few answers. We’re after Astor. The demon controlling God’s Army. There is a way to harm it at least. The artifact can open rifts as well as manipulate them, and that can weaken it...”

“Open rif-are you crazy!? Last big one that opened up made everything almost as haywire as back when this started! What the hell could be worth causing that again?” Celine said, only for Horace to shake his head. “Anything big enough to kill it would likely be at least as disruptive to The Veil as the last one that opened, not to mention take more power to be practical. But a smaller one, a ripple. This thing can open them safely, and close them afterward.” he said, before looking back to the mountains looming in the distance.

“We’re being sent to find something that might help kill it. But for now, we at least have something that can wound it.” Horace gave a dry sounding exhale, as he got as comfortable as one could in that wagon.

Time passed, Horace was left to his thoughts and Abraham dozed off as the wagon found itself onto a paved road. The party neared a roofed small stage on the side of the road. Must have been a part of a bar due to the large pile of rubble nearby. Over a dozen people crowded in front, to watch a man in odd looking motley garb put on a show.

As they neared, the mix of travelers that obverse seemed to include a few of less savory appearance, kept from causing trouble only by the offer of momentary respite and a few words from a silver tongue. Even then however, as the strumming of a weathered old guitar wound down into an outro, one of the men spoke up, heckling the odd fellow with some indistinct drunken shout.

Horace hmmed a bit, hopping out of the wagon and walking ahead as Celine pulled the wagon to a stop, Abraham mumbling groggily as he stretched before practically rolling out of the back, the all-too-brief rest leaving him feeling practically hungover at first. “Never can sleep well in those gatdamn things...” he mumbled, the three of them making their way over to get a closer look.

Pretty much right as the three got to the back of the crowd, one of the more rowdy bandits stepped up, waving a half-empty bottle of probably-stolen alcohol. “Hey Krusty! Do Freebird!” The Jester turned his head towards the heckler, he seemed to start Freebird and strumming the strings before suddenly stopping. “No thanks!” The Jester said, giving a little chuckle as he set the guitar aside. “I don’t do just music, I do magic too!” He stated in a joyous tone, as he took out a deck of cards. “I’m going to need a volunteer, friends! Hm…” The Jester tapped his chin, looking at the crowd. He pointed a gloved hand towards Celine, “You! The redhead! Come on up!” He said, his grin widening as he gestured up towards the stage.

Celine was taken aback by this, looking back to Horace who simply shrugged, before stepping up on stage with him, one of the banduits giving a catcall right up until her nervousness gave way to a glare that promptly shut him up. The Jester nodded, the bells on his hat giving a little jingle as he passed the deck to her. “Alright! Look through the deck, then showcase the deck to our lovely crowd here, then pick a card” He explained, before giving a turn of his hands at her.

Celine regarded the act with curiosity, knowing more of the arcane than sleight-of-hand, playing along with it out of genuine interest. After all, this was something she never thought she’d end up seeing after the cataclysm. Horace meanwhile watched on, his gaze at this point fixed on the jester. Abe glanced over at The Knight, “What? Y’see somethin’?” He asked, as he simply gave a hmmph, “He has got essense on him. Cards are magical too. Can’t you see it?” Abraham gave a nod, “Since I saw ‘im, yeah. But he’s playin’ a show, what’s the worst that could happen?” He answered, which Horace gave a shrug to.

Celine, in contrast, had no innate sense of the odd magic that was afoot, showing the audience the deck as instructed, looking through to pick a particular card, settling on the jack of hearts. “Alright...” The Jester took the deck back, “Thank you! Now, with a quick shuffle…” He narrated as he put a little pinch of dull essence on the cards, before he stumbled a little. “Whuh-” He exclaimed as he fell forward, dropping the deck onto the stage, all the cards face up.

Celine was about to try and catch the jester as he stumbled, though the sight of him bumbling around earned momentary amusement from the crowd, only to stop and stare as she realized what he’d dropped. One moment the deck had been perfectly normal, the next every single card was the same one she’d picked. The Jester did a little sumersault, gesturing towards the cards with a flourish. “Tadaa!””

Celine found herself applauding the trick as well as most of those present as she stepped off the stage, not realizing the nature of the spell and merely assuming it was a stage trick, in which case it was genuinely impressive.

By now the group that had gathered was starting to disperse, a few conversing among themselves as they prepared to continue on their way, when a pickup truck pulled over nearby, clipping a battered old motorcycle as it went, a couple men in similar

garb to the few drunken troublemakers stepping out and glaring at the trio who’d stopped to watch the show. “Now what in the goddamn are you louts doin’, standing around watching a puppet show or somethin’? Ain’t y’ got work t’ do?”

    The Jester grew pale, “Uh oh…” He said quietly, as he slinked off suddenly, snatching his guitar. Horace hmmphed a bit, already keeping his gaze on the group of troublemakers, as was Abraham, a few of the other travelers quite wisely getting out of the way. One of the men who got out of the truck pushed one of his drunken comrades aside as he stepped forward, holding a crowbar in both hands. “And where you think you’re goin’, clown?”

“Those lot look like trouble...” Abraham muttered, watching as Horace started to step forward, Celine glancing back at the group warily. They were just close enough to overhear The Jester, with a shit-eating grin, give the bandit a response. “Ya’know. To see your mother?” he answered. “On second thought, do we hav’ta help the idjit?”

The Jester’s grin just widened, as he held out a palm full of essence dust. He blew the blue dust into the face and eyes of the crowbar wielding bandit, as he threw another handful of dull essense onto the hard pavement. The dust threw up a thick plume of glittery smoke as he backpedaled, giving himself space as the Jester drew a dirk with a black grip.

The man stumbled a bit, crowbar raised defensively as one of the others caught him. “Oi. Y’alight?” he asked, and the man looked around only to go into a panic, promptly braining the bandit that caught him. Everywhere around him, was that same jester, and he simply lashed out at the first one that seemed “real” to him, which just happened to be an image mimicking the fellow behind him.

“Oi! You fuckin’ dumbass, watch where you’re swingin’ that goddamn thing!” another shouted, a few others stepping up and drawing various weapons, mostly knives and clubs, though one had a wary hand on a sawed-down shotgun. “C’mon kid, don’t make us get too rough. Can’t pay us back if you’re dead...”

As this went on, Horace started to step up, hefting his axe as a couple others watched the flank, one of the glaring looking up at the knight. “Mind yer fuckin’ business ‘less you want a few holes in that armor. I swear, a knight, a cowboy, and a girl walk into a bar...” he muttered, pointing a short-barreled rifle at Horace. Quincy of course, quite gleefully spoke up at that. “Hey! I write the jokes here!” he called out mirthfully.

Already the other two quite wisely stepped behind Horace, or at least Abraham pulled Celine behind the armored figure as he drew his revolver, and the bandit fired at Horace’s chest point-blank, expecting the round to go right through him. He had just enough time to realize that the round had hit the strange iridescent steel only to be reduced to a spray of bullet fragments, before the axe cut deep into his collarbone, continuing on through ribs and everything else in its way until it had cleaved halfway through his torso, his rifle dropping to the ground utterly soaked in blood.

Horace struggled to yank the axe out of the bandit’s gushing wound, as he was distracted he was clonked in the back of his head by an aluminum bat. The suit rung like a bell for a moment, the knight struck the man across the jaw with the back of his gauntlet. He followed up with a haymaker that sent the bandit flying.

Quincy chuckled a bit as he twirled the dirk a bit, letting one of the others come at him with a knife before he deftly, swayed and whirled out of reach, letting the man push ahead of the others and isolate himself in his eagerness. The very next moment he was behind his would-be attacker, delivering a pair of quick cuts that opened up tendons along and arm and a leg, ensuring he dropped the knife and stumbled to a knee. At that he vaulted over the bandit, using that added momentum to send the man crashing hard into the pavement. “Heehee, play that tune again, friend!” he said, seemingly in response to the noise Horace’s helm made when struck.

Horace groaned a little, “I’m not a drum…” He grumbled as he stomped on the man’s throat. The shotgunner levelled the sawed off towards Quincy before a shot rang out, splattering the bandits fingers. Abraham drew first, having already cleared leather and fired off two shots. The man clutched his hand as the shotgun clattered the floor, another of the men rushing towards Abraham with a makeshift machete, before a burst of flame struck him square in the chest, charring the leather of his jacket and sending him smacking into the side of the pickup truck.

“What the fuck!?” Between the sight of the flames leaping from Celine’s hand, with at least two men crippled and another two slain, the few of them left were variously either backing away and dropping their weapons, or frantically scrambling to pile into the truck, intending to simply cut their losses and run. Horace grimaced at the sight, half-tempted to give them no quarter until Abraham set a hand on his shoulder, watching the old man still keeping his gun in their direction as they chose flight other what was quickly looking to be suicide. “About goddamn time sons o’ bitches think to quit while they’re ahead...”

Horace let out a little yelp at the hand on his shoulder, raising a hand and nearly backhanding Abraham. “Don’t- Don't touch me.” He rasped out quickly, shrugging the hand off his shoulder. Abraham shrugged at that, while Celine gave a little wave to Quincy as she approached. “Are you okay?”

The Jester skipped over into a bow as he offered a pink tulip from his sleeve. “Better than okay, my dear!” He declared as he held a hand over his chest. Celine blinked at that, a bit surprised as she looked back to Horace and Abraham. “That’s, er...that’s good then.” It was then Horace stepped forward, hmming a bit. “What were they after, arcanist?” he asked bluntly.

Quincy’s entire body seemed to wilt alongside the flower, he got back to his feet and dusted himself off. He stuffed the flower back into his sleeve as he explained, “I may have used a teensy weensy itty bit of magic to- ah.” He cleared his throat

“Cheat in a game of poker.” Quincy admitted as he scratched at the back of his head. Celine was just about to tease Horace for mistaking a magician’s tricks for actual arcane ability, until Quincy seemed to just brush the remarks off without acting like being found out was at all unusual, or if the accusation wasn’t rather weird. “So that wasn’t just sleight of hand, it seems...”

Quincy shook his head, “Kinda-sorta!” He exclaimed. “I still have to hide the essence use!”

Horace stifled a sigh, “...and why did you cheat at poker?” Quincy seemee to perk up a that, “I was strapped for valuables and they seemed pretty stupid!”

Horace uttered an “Of course…” Under his breath as he clonked an open palm against his helmet, which caused Quincy to give an amused giggle. “Hee hee! You make a great chime, friend!”

Celine found herself snickering a bit at that, looking back to Quincy. “You know, maybe between a humorless knight and a gruff cowboy, we could use some comedy. What do you say?” she asked, Abraham giving a blank stare. “So yer basically askin’ ‘can we keep ‘em’ like he’s a stray puppy.”

Quincy's grin grew toothy as he looked up at Horace, who would grimace if he could. “Fine. He better be useful…” He growled as he made his way back to the wagon, Quincy simply gave a mock salute. “Sir yes sir!” as he followed behind him, the various bells on his outfit jingling.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by saltmummy626 on March 10, 2019, 03:15:54 pm »
Now that she was sitting next to her, the person Jennifer was already thinking of as "the hussar" seemed even more vulnerable and nervous than before. Cherise was trying though and in the presence of people she would have spent her time hunting, and the absence of the armor she used to wear, was admirable. Last time Jennifer had seen this woman, the only part of her she'd actually been able to see  was her head. A round unfriendly face topped by a mop of county cork red hair like a load of limp springs. The grim look from before hadn't suited her, but Jenny thought the new look of nervous fear suited her even less. Without the light power armor, Cherise was built like a small truck. Where Jennifer was smooth and feminine, Cherise was lightly muscled and somewhat imposing. The overall impression was a lady who could and would knock the teeth out of the skull of any man dumb enough to try getting fresh with her. It had been her idea to sit close.

"To get used to being near you..." She explained. Jennifer sighed and made a gesture. Nearby, Lolita had been watching and when the gesture was given the new chef ordered the old chef to get out a fresh plate of fries. It had only taken a moment to explain their part in the meeting. To Jenny's surprise though, Cherise hadn't missed it and appreciated the effort as a means of trying to get the woman to be more comfortable around her. So, they ate fries. Jennifer forcing herself to go slow and make sure Cherise got a fair share. When the plate was gone, only then would Jennifer talk business.

"So, I know you. Do you know me?" She asked. Cherise rubbed a cheek and thought. Jenny seemed familiar, but not quite. It took Jenny covering her ears with a hand to bring it back to her fully.

"From the bar! How did you get into New Bangor? Or... did it happen after?" Cherise asked. She was a gentle woman by nature it seemed and that was fine and good with Jenny. It would help her fit in better. What Jennifer knew about her though was what she wanted for her rangers.

"You'd be surprised how easy it is to hide them under a scarf and tuck my tail into a pair of way too big pants. I'm not mutated like the rest of these people anyway, but I doubt that matters much. Cherise- I can call you Cherise right? Good. Cherise, I need you."

Cherise chuckled at something that struck her funny, then said, "Sorry lady, I hardly know you. Besides that, I don't swing for that team anyway." Jenny cocked her head for a moment out of confusion, then burst out laughing. Both of them did in fact, and the tension between them seemed to melt away. Over by the kitchen, New Bangors former barman looked up at the commotion and grinned before getting back to his new work. Things would be alright.

"Holy shit lady," Jenny said when she got her breath back, "You sure know how to turn a girl down gently. Joking aside, that's not what I meant. Listen. I would like your talents for a job."

"My talents?"

"Yeah. Fighting. Tracking. All that stuff. Instead of going after people though, I had something else in mind. Are you in?" Jennifer asked casually, thinking that she'd loosened the woman up enough.

"No." Cherise said, "I just got here and someone is already trying to get me to do something without explaining what's going on. I didn't agree to come here of all places just to start doing more dirty work."

"I'm getting to it, but I need to do some scouting first. Can I at least get a maybe out of you?"

"No. If you want me to help, then your going to need to share some details."

Jennifer squirmed a little in her chair and looked around. She'd been somewhat subtle about this whole thing up to this point mostly because she wasn't sure it wouldn't get out that she was up to something. She didn't want it getting back to this Hoyt guy and ruining the whole plan before it was even formulated. At the same time, she really wanted Cherise. Jenny had never formally met the woman, but her reputation back in New Bangor had been enough to keep Atomos away. Rumors that the huntress could smell mutants. A stupid rumor, but tempting considering all the strange things in the world. Especially when the ranger had been spying. Cherise was watching her carefully, then broke the silence of Jenny's thoughts with a request.

"Take me with you when you do your scouting." She said. That was an idea. Not a bad one either. Perfect in fact, it would give Jenny a chance to get some more personal discussion with the woman and share her plans without fear of it getting around.

"Yeah, that sounds acceptable." She said and offered her hand, "Tomorrow first thing in the morning, I'll meet you in the foyer and we'll move out."

"Well, alright. You've got a deal I suppose, but don't be surprised if I don't show up." Cherise said a little despondently.

"Don't say it like that, c'mon. It'll be fine. I've already got a code name for you and everything."

"Codename? Listen lady, I haven't agreed to anything yet and you're already throwing code names and shit around. Good god, It's like when I- er..." Cherise looked around and lowered her voice, "When I was conscripted..."

"I swear to god," Jenny said slyly, "It's not going to be like that. How does 'Hussar' sound?"

"It sounds dumb. What about you?" Cherise asked, scowling. Jenny didn't know what a hussar was, but liked the sound of it. As for Cherise, her brother had been a hobby historian and absolutely mad about cavalry. The old unit didn't describe her in the least, but if this was how it was going to be then this girl with the ears and tail wasn't going to be dissuaded.

"It's Atomos outside the center, but don't worry about that for now. Just try to relax and meet some of the people you'll be helping out around here. In the morning, things will look so much better."

Catnip stared at her tail and tried to get it to move. She wasn't sure how she sometimes managed to get it to twitch, but she'd been told that it could articulate and she thought that would be just peachy. She stared at it and it continued to not move. 'Maybe I should be doing something else...' she thought, 'It's a nice enough day, maybe Kathrine will go on a walk with me?' Kathrine would go of course, she wouldn't dream of not going. She pushed that idea away as Kathrine was napping upstairs. The maid rarely did anything for herself and so the nap was, to Catnip, a small show of self indulgence on her girlfriends part. A bit of self indulgence Catnip would allow to go on unimpeded.

 It was the first time in quite awhile for Catnip where she didn't feel like working. Meeting with guests, building things, fixing things. It was all fun, but it was work. Satisfying work. Even Catnip couldn't work all the time though. She looked over at Kathrine's guitar sitting at the end of the couch and considered trying it out. No, that was out of the question. Last time she'd so much as plucked a string, Kathrine had come down stairs and assumed that Catnip had wanted to hear her play. No no no. No extra work for Kathrine. Catnip wracked her brain for something to do. Games with Dee? No, he was busy with Medeina and Mica. Cartoons? She wasn't allowed to watch cartoons anymore. See what Roxanne was up to? Roxanne was very likely busy with whatever it was she needed a meeting place for.

She picked up a chew stick from the jar on the table and gnawed it thoughtfully. Through the window, she caught a glimpse of Hector and Floyd coming up to the house with someone new in tow. A social call? An introduction maybe? She went to the door and threw it open just as Hectors fist came up to knock. Perhaps a social call would be fine, so long as it wasn't a business one. Maybe the new person would be fun.

"Hector! Floyd! Who's your friend?" Catnip asked cheerily but a little quietly. She was already going over in her head how to go about the tasks Kathrine usually took care of when there were guests. First, answer door. Check. Next, show them to the living room. That was easy enough. "Come in, sit down guys. Er, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Price, and Ms..." She realized she had asked but hadn't yet got the name of the new girl. "Wait, uh, I've done it out of order. Just a sec."

"Good afternoon Nip, this is Branches. She lives across the new lake. Branches, this is Catnip. If you need someone to fix something, you can come to her and she'll take care of it." Hector introduced, then asked, "Where's Kathrine Nip?"

"Sleeping, just leave her be, I can do the hosp-ee-tality thing." Catnip explained, "Come in, sit down. I'll get you guys some food and stuff." She wasn't quite as adept at house keeping and serving as Kathrine, but Catnip would be butched if she was going to make Kathrine get up and do this. Even if she would be happy to do so. She brought out a bag of stale pretzels and a large mason jar of sun tea. All the while, the wooden dowel bobbed up and down fitfully and Branches watched it curiously. "Want one?" Catnip asked when she noticed the one eyed girl watching her chew stick. There was something about the pale girl that Catnip liked. The wide curious eye and bright rice paper white skin reminded her of Mica. Or rather, Branches visually reminded her of Snowball. Snowball had looked out at the small world the children of lab X7 knew with a worldly curiousity under her golden blond hair. Snowball had tripped up during testing, tripped over a skitter and buried under a pile of stinging metal robots. Then she'd been taken away for christmas.

"Nip?" Floyd asked, waving a hand in front of Catnips face, "Y'all right?" She nodded sheepishly and gave Branches a stick stained a golden shade by the honey that had been soaked into it.

"Yeah just thinkin'." She said. Back in the cupboard under the stair, she found a jar of pink and white frosted cookies shaped like animals. Catnip hated white chocolate, but these animal cookies were somehow acceptable to her. Aside from the hard candies that were always present on the coffee table, these cookies were one of her favorites for casual visits. She took a moment to dust off and consider an eight pack of apple juice when a shadow blocked out the light from the door.

"Need any help Nip?" Floyd asked. Catnip handed him the apple juice and the jar, then added a spray can labeled 'squeezy cheese.'

"I think that'll be good." She said, "But I can handle all this. Gimme gimme so I can carry it back. I wanna do it!"

"Nip." Floyd said in a hushed tone, "I don't think I have to tell you to be extra nice, but that girl in there... The center got attacked recently and she lost her sister." Catnip cocked her head and stopped trying to prise the food from Floyd's arms. She was lost again for a moment, thinking about her own siblings.

"Catnip?" Came the small voice at the top of the stairs above her, bringing Catnip out of her memories before she could sink in. Branches (entirely ficticious, not that any of them knew it) tragedy was something Catnip and Mica were all too familiar with. It was a well she could fall into and have difficulty climbing up out of again, and so it was fortunate that Kathrine had stirred and heard the talking downstairs.

"It's alright Kathrine, we have guests." Catnip said. She took everything from Floyd but the can of cheese and rushed them to the table before Kathrine could snap into "maid mode" and start serving. "I've got it all taken care of, you don't have to do anything." When she looked to the maid, she saw the mix of adorable sleepiness and groggy petulance all over her girlfriend. "Don't be mad k?"

Branches meanwhile gave the stick an experimental chew. It was sweet and splintery, but not horrible. It could certainly keep the mouth busy. Catnip felt right to her. Open and friendly, willing to please but not soft. She'd been described like some kind of business lady or a strict mechanic. From what the homunculus could see, Catnip was doting and sweet. Kathrine eyed Branches from the top of the stairs. In a little bit, when Kathrine had fully woken up and forced Catnip to settle in, she would see that Kathrine was certainly the most spun sugar and warm cocoa of the two. Even if her face didn't show it. Over the course of the visit, Catnip and Kathrine would hold their attention with talk and food and entertainment, stretching what had been intended to be a short visit into a much longer one.

By the time Branches, Hector, and Floyd were allowed to leave, the sun had progressed through it's usual climb across the sky and had begun to sink below the tree line in the west. Catnip had told a harrowing tale from Arizona and Kathrine had got out a board game which they'd gone through several times. In all, the visit had so far been the most enjoyable time Branches had had in her short life. Floyd departed for his own home, rubbing his back and waving, while Hector saw the Branches.

"Sorry it took so long," He said, "those two are fond of guests. Also it seems Catnip really took a shine to you, so that's good. It's not hard to get on her good side, but it's also not easy to get so close so quickly." Hector rubbed the back of his head. He knew about what Floyd had told Catnip in the mechanics snack cupboard and suspected that maybe that had something to do with it. "Anyways, if you want I can take you home. It's still light out, but it's not easy in the dark."

It was an innocent suggestion but all the same, it made Branches feel uneasy and a little embarassed. A little light and flgihty even. Someone as important and strong as Hector would offer to take a simple homunculus back to her mud hut in the woods? She realized that he would probably think she was some kind of savage if he saw where she lived. Compared to the houses on the farm, Branches might as well have lived in a dirty hole in the river bank.

"N-no, I can take care of myself fine..." She said quietly.

"Are you sure? If you want, you can stay around here til tomorrow. I understand that... Well, I mean I can imagine what it must be like to come home and find your house... empty..." Branches grinned at the ground, unable to meet his gaze. She was touched by his genuine concern for her fake loss. Letting him walk her back would just make her feel terrible for making him feel pity for a sad event that never happened.

"No, it's okay. Thank you though. If I can't take it, I'll just go to Helens." She said. Hector bowed, and the spots of red that caused in her face went unnoticed in the failing light. By the time his head came back up, she'd already turned away and was on the move towards the gate and the bridge beyond.

Yellow Jacket and her crew lay in wait just beyond the tree line, looking out at the ruined shack by the lakes edge and watching for the return for the little cyclopian bitch who'd stolen her gangs property and humiliated her men. They'd trashed the little bitches camp upon their arrival, scattering the little dirt statues like bowling pins whenever the things tried to mount a defense. It was dangerous though, earlier in the day her other man had met them on the road with a hell of a story to tell. The iron marshal was in the area and had laid his protection over the girl. Not that Yellow Jacket gave a tin shit. He'd passed on a warning from the dipshit who fancied himself a knight, and that pissed her off.

"Fuck you..." She grumbled to herself thinking about that warning. The sound of an owl down by the river splashed a bucket of cold water in her face, dismissing her rage for attentiveness in an instant. That was the signal. The little bitch was home. Yellow Jacket peered across the lakeside clearing in the low light towards the rough new path the homunculus had cleared at Helen's behest earlier in the morning, and caught a glimpse of her. A young woman with pale white skin and one big eye at the center of her face beneath yellow hair the color of corn silk. Yellow Jacket tensed. Something off about the girl. It was surely the girl who'd done for her men, but she looked odd. After a bit of watching, Yellow Jacket placed the look. The girl was dreamy, just sort of ambling around like a young woman day dreaming. That eased the tension a little. It would make her easy to take when she got close enough.

When the thoughts of ambush started to formulate though, the girl suddenly snapped to attention. The house was wrecked and it wasn't subtle, she'd noticed before getting close enough for Yellow Jackets gang to close the trap perfectly. That was fine, if her men had followed directions, then several men would be coming up the path behind the girl at that moment. When they came into view, Yellow Jacket stepped into view.

"Sup cunt." She said, "I think you have something that belongs to me." Branches eye widened and she spun about to see the men coming in behind her. "Don't even think about it, we've got you-"

Branches bolted right at them, and to Yellow Jackets horror, her men were sent scattering like the little clay people her own men had kicked and smashed upon their arrival. The first to try and grab Branches was socked in the gut and thrown bodily aside. The next received a kick to the groin that lifted him then tossed him five or six feet straight up, a wound that would no doubt castrate him. A broken leg and pulped face later, the girl was vanishing back the way she'd come and Yellow Jacket was screaming after her. They never caught up, but what they found when they followed was a surprise. Not far away, just across the road south of Branches camp in fact, was a thick line of trees. It was the palisade within that line of trees in the swamp that was the surprise.

"So she's gone in?" Yellow Jacket asked. The man who'd scouted the place nodded enthusiastically, he'd managed to keep up just outside visible range and saw the young woman slip over the wall. It wasn't hard to pick her out in the dark. "Alright then." Yellow Jacket decided, "Keep scouting, we go after her before dawn."
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Chaosvolt on March 08, 2019, 04:14:42 pm »
(( Written with Mrno ))

Solomon was noticeably shaken after what he'd witnessed, fumbling to put his mask on and examine first Cardin, then the room the act had taken place in. "Cardin..." he grumbled worriedly, regarding a fading aura that lingered around the limb the avian had thrust through the portal. What residual energy remained at least seemed harmless as far as he could discern, dwindling of its own accord, and the disturbance left was focused, small and narrow such that its aftereffects were barely visible in the slightest.

He sighed, shaking his head as he finally regained his composure, before quietly excusing himself from the lab area. It was obvious what he was going to do though, even though he was just as likely to get in trouble for having played along and even helped Cardin recharge the amulet.

The avian mutant, meanwhile, quickly made to follow after Solomon.  He paused at the door, though, rubbing at his right arm, the lingering numbness worrying him slightly.  He chirps, having decided that following Solomon with some kind of weird magic still...  Attached?  To him wasn't the best idea, and steps back into the lab again, sitting down cross-legged on the floor.

It wasn't long before Solomon returned however, his expression less mortified in favor of the look of a scolded puppy. And following right behind him was Helen, her mask off and therefore making the look of sheer disappointment perfectly clear.

"By Yeshua's palms, what were you thinking? Here, sit still for now." she said, kneeling beside the sitting avian and calmly grabbing him by the arm he'd stuck through the portal. As she did, she carefully unraveled the bandages his prior burns required, retrieving a vial of odd red liquid, and a mote of dull essence. She left it drift into the open vial, shimmering with odd silver light within the red liquid as it seemed to dissolve into the vial's contents.

Then, she poured it along the limb with caution, that odd numbness momentarily giving way to a stinging sensation before fading, the burns noticeably healed up faster than normal, though that seemed to be a side effect of the potion itself. "You're lucky something in-between didn't decide it wanted to keep your arm." she grumbled, looking him over. "What am I to do with you..."

Cardin squirmed a bit at the sensation of his arm healing up, wings half-flaring out behind him, holding them in close enough to not knock anything over still. The avian mutant looked down, a heat spreading across his face as he blushed underneath his already red feathers and chirped out an unintelligable apology. The embarrassed bird deliberately tried to avoid making eye contact with either of them while he did so.

Helen gave a sigh at that, before taking him by the hand, calmly grabbing the mana gem as she shook her head. "You need to learn caution, and that your actions have consequences, ideally before those consequences get you killed." she said, soon leading the two out to the workspace along the side of The Hall.

"Kitchen duty won't exactly be much punishment for Solomon, but perhaps in the late afternoon teaching you to help prepare dinner will suffice, for helping out with this dangerous experiment. For now..." She'd laid out a few tools atop the anvil, along with a bin of thin scrap steel, which she'd cleaned of rust beforehand. A broad hammer, metal shears, file, and engraving chisel.

The punishment was fairly mundane yet menial, and if Hector was present he'd likely laugh at the idea given it was not very different from the making of replacement rings he'd found quite relaxing. Simply working pieces of steel flat, cutting them into a long scale shape as she demonstrated, filing the rough edges smooth, then working the feather motif into one face with the chisel to add detail. The sort of mundane task that used to be a daily chore back in the sanctums of her youth, and frequently handed out to young trainees in need of discipline, or to train a steady hand.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Noctifer-De-Mortem on March 06, 2019, 09:33:05 pm »
The day had gone relatively peaceful for Victor. He was currently taking inventory and seeing if the materials he needed for a project in his journal were to be found in his an Helen’s shared arcane storage. Helen was off taking care of some business while Clara had gone off with Christina for some “quality time” in the woods; to each their own he though. Still, things were indeed peaceful right now; furthermore, he had a family, one he now remembered. He had a home, nothing was actively trying to harm his or those he cared about, he had enough resources to pursue his own projects and the general outlook for the future look bright.

In the back of his mind one thing always lingered: his memory loss. Sure, many of them had been given back from various sources but many of them still remained a mystery. The man he was before the accident, if what others said could be trusted, how he ended up here, what was he working on and who a lot of the people here were. Those questions still lingered but it didn’t matter too much, he remembered enough including Helen and Thomas which right now is what he most cared about. One day he would get his memories back and face his past a new man but even if he didn’t, that was ok. Yes, times were good, he could get used to this.

That had been about an hour ago. Right now he was walking into walkerville for an impromptu meeting. His expression was of annoyance and concern for he realized a few things from this last hour. It had begun with his portable radio he kept on his hip. It perked up and he grabbed it to answer whoever was on the other side.

Hello?”, asked Victor

Heyyy, missed me?”, answered back the well known voice of Eris. He knew how to distinguish the two simply by the inflection of their tone. Luna was more carefree and outgoing while Eris was more cold and calice, and at times, even a bit sultry. Victor gave a deep sigh prompting Eris to laugh. Wow, I just said hello and you already react like this. Is my reputation really that tainted?

Eris, get to the point. What do you want.

Ahhh, what makes you assume I want something? Can’t a girl just talk to her friends?

You and I both know you wouldn’t be using the radio if you just wanted to talk. What’s on our mind?

A bit of silence before Eris spoke up again. “Already picking up on my tendencies huh? Interesting… Anyways, fine, I just wanted to ask you to come to my room for a little meeting. I need to discuss something with you… it’s important so come alone.

That last bit sent a shiver down his spine. With what little he knew of her since the memory loss, that could mean anything. “Important huh? What about?

Can’t say it right now. Please, just meet me in my room in an hour ok? I think what I have to say will interest you… Have to go now, sorry, an hour ok? See ya then!

Eris wai-

Before he could respond, she had disconnected already. Victor gave another deep sigh and put his radio back in his belt. “Jupiter have mercy on me.... Roxanne, you are going to be the end of me one day...

Yes right now he was on his way to the meeting held in Roxanne’s room. But there was something that this little incident resparked in him; a memory he sought to ignore until now: Just who was Roxanne? From little memories she gave him back, and from what others had told him, they were apparently rather close friends. Then way was he always so hesitant around her? Why did her ideas sound so weird and dangerous? Was that really how he was before the accident? What was Roxanne hiding from him?

All this questions and more lingered as he walked. He had tried his best to ignore this calling to find out more and focus in his life but something just kept nagging at him. “Just who the hell are you Roxanne?”, he whispered to himself. Maybe it was the ridiculousness of the whole ordeal, maybe it was how uneasy he felt around her or maybe how carefree she was about everything all the time. Sure, she had explained and reveal quite a whole lot to him, and they had that deep conversation on how much of a fuckup they both were, but he felt there was more. Whatever it was, right then and there Victor decided he would find out the truth; find out who he was and who Roxanne really is.

Soon enough he reach the door of Roxanne’s room. Walkerville was both busy and seemingly quiet in its own way; sure there was plenty of noise as everyone went around their work but it all felt as if it was background noise, nothing stood out. Victor reached out to knock but before he could a familiar voice spoke up beyond the door. “Come on in, its open.”

Melody?”, Victor whispered to himself once more. Yes, the first person he meet after losing his memories. Apparently they were on an adventure that had gone wrong and because of it she lost her sight and her his memories. He was her mentor of sorts as well but no lessons had emerged yet. What was she doing in there?

After a single shrug, Victor opened the door to find Roxanne serving coffee to Melody and the person he recognized as Rey; the 6’2” man nodded his way and Victor nodded back. He didn’t know much about Rey and now he had also gave up giving up on explaining why everyone was here.

Victor! Glad you could make it!”, exclaimed Roxanne.

Got busy hands I see. Anyone else in here I need to know about? Half the farm is in here...”, Victor joked back. His attempts at humor a way to seem normal and not betray how on edge he was.

Roxanne gave a light laugh and shook her head. “Nope, just us. Now we can start the meeting. Coffee?

Victor accepted a cup and found a spot to sit  on the bed next to Roxanne. Rey and Melody had grabbed a couple chairs and sat adjacent to them. “Right, so why did you call me here Roxanne?

My my, so impatient. Don’t you want to catch up first?”, Roxanne asked almost rhetorically.

Victor gave a deep sigh.“Like I said before, if you just wanted to talk you wouldn’t have invited me under such shady circumstances. You would’ve probably just barged into my room; I know that much about you at least.

Roxanne smiled and nodded with her eyes close. “Alright, fair enough. Then I guess we shouldn’t waste any more time then.” She put down her now empty cup of coffee. How she was able to drink it so fast or the logistics of how a ghost could enjoy coffee beyond taste, those were things Victor readily avoid thinking about. “Melody, if you will.

Melody jumped in place as Roxanne called out for her; the entire time she had been nervous and fidgeting to herself seemingly lost in thought. That was quite interesting given the fact she was going to say what this whole thing was about. She cleared her throat, adjusted her blindfold and began to speak.

“Well, it’s hard to explain but I’ll do my best. As you guys know I am the wielder of despair. Because of it a lot of weird stuff has happened to me; I’ve had weird dreams, artifacts appear on me… certain ghosts hit on me…”

Guilty as charged~”, Roxanne said with a smirk before Melody resumed speaking.

“Anyways, the latest weird thing is what I want to talk about… I’ve been hearing voices.” At this revelation Roxanne perked up; Victor and Rey simply listened on. “They been telling me things about a trial and how I must report to get my score. Something like that… And how I must bring the ‘broken man’ with me…”

Ok, but what does this have to do with us? You need help getting rid of this voices?”, Victor asked from both impatience and curiosity.

“Well, not exactly…”, Melody continued, “You see. I was discussing this with Roxanne and Rey before you got here Victor and we came to a conclusion.” Melody went silent seemingly leaving the statement unfinished.

And that is?

You are the broken man Victor and Melody here needs you.”, Roxanne blurted out before anyone else had a chance to speak.

Excuse me?”, Victor asked not sure how to feel about that.

“Roxanne!”, exclaimed Melody rather exasperated.

What? You weren’t going to say it and it needed to be said. Rey here really has no stake in this so he is going to state quiet and mr.mage here is too dense to figure it out. I did us all a favor.

Melody stayed quiet for a moment before speaking up again, her words stuttering, “B-but… you didn’t have to be so blunt about.”

Hold on a moment...”, Victor interjected, “What do you mean by ‘broke man?’

Roxanne tapped a finger to the side of her head as she spoke, “Your memories. We are our memories after all and given your amnesia...

Wait, but wouldn’t that make me a new person then?

It would have but… I did give you a portion of them so instead you are on the path to be your old self. So now you are simply a man with a piece of him missing; a broken man… Don’t look at me like that, it was the voices Mel’ here keeps hearing that said that!

“Don’t put the blame on me like that! That is not fair!”, Melody exclaimed in Roxanne’s direction and Roxanne could swear her eyes were piercing her despite her blindness. For whatever reason this unnerved her so she reached for her wooden mask and put it on; she did so in the same way a someone would hide behind a blanket for comfort. That’s when something unexpected happened that threatened to derail the meeting.

“Huh? Roxanne? Where did you go?” Melody began to turn her head in all directions seemingly looking for Roxanne. Despite not being able to see her eyes behind her blindfold, what was seen revealed her face was full of confusion.

You have to be kidding me...”, Roxanne whispered to herself smirking a bit. She got up and slowly approached the confused girl; her training in SoA came in handy as she sneaked behind Melody and wrapping her arms around her keeping them an inch from touching. Rey simply facepalmed as he was still here in the promise that his participation on this would grant him souls to feed. Victor meanwhile seemed lost in thought and was paying no mind.

“Roxaaaane, this isn’t funny! Where are you?!”, Melody asked seemingly a bit concerned now.

Roxanne leaned in and whispered in here ear. “Right behind you...” At that Melody jumped in place giving a high-pitched squeak but before she could get away Roxanne wrapped her arms around her; Melody trashed about confused and scared. “Stop! Get away! This isn’t funny!”

Oh, I can do much worse...”, Eris whispered. Her hands soon started to trail up her body and sought to grope at her chest. Melody’s trashing stopped for a moment as she realized what was going on and promptly resumed; she recalled being a similar situation back when Roxanne was trying to coerce her into giving up Despair. “I am not giving you the sword!”, Melody shouted.

Nah, we don’t want it anymore...

Rey tried not to look at the scene in front of him choosing to distract himself by examining Roxanne’s altar closer and trying to ignore Melody’s pleas for her to stop. Victor on the other hand was still lost in thought; something was bothering him but he couldn’t pinpoint what. Was it something in his lost memories? Why did this whole thing feel so wrong? It was as if something was screaming for him to get away but another part, something more primal, insisted they saw this through. In his mind the latter idea prevailed and he resigned himself to at least hearing out what it was they needed him for.

Alright, I think I get it now. So what do you need me to do?

Eris looked back at Victor as he spoke and stopped her teasing on Melody who in turned took the opportunity to elbow her in the shoulder so she could get away. “Ow, easy girl. I can feel pain again you know?

“Yeah, that was the point! Do that again and I will do much worse!”, Melody exclaimed to Roxanne as she sat down back on her chair. She huffed and crossed her arms while still blushing bright; it seemed that the whole ordeal was only a mild annoyance to her. Melody then shifted her would-be gaze at  again. “Well, he asked you a question. What are you waiting for?”

Eris smiled at that as she too took her seat taking off the mask.“Me-ow~ Look who decided to become bossy all of the sudden. But alright, I do guess it is my turn.” She took a deep breath to calm her amusement from her previous actions. Her expression turned serious and so did her words; the meeting was back on track again. “A long time ago Victor, you and I found an abandoned building. It looked like a regular house until we reached a particular room; inside said room it looked like some sort of shrine. In this shrine we performed a certain ritual and ended up angering some sort of wanna-be deity. He place some curse on due to it and we have been recovering from it ever since..

Victor was about to ask something; Eris preemptively put out her hand to signal him to let her finish. “I’ll get to that; believe, it’s important to me too… Anyways, so here is what Melody told me happened that day. You took her to explore her first location with magical anomalies; you had Luna scout the place before hand and she gave the all clear but of course what the fuck would she know about properly sweeping an anomalous place? The two of you go in and loot the place then find a mysterious room. Once inside she finds Despair on the ground after apparently Luna lost it to some fuckboy that defeated her in combat. She takes the sword and the place is swarmed by shadows. The two of you fight and some wannabe all powerful deity shows up, gives you a lecture and curses the two of you. Does this sound familiar?

Eris stops talking so Victor could process this; it didn’t take him long and he nods in understanding. “Ok, so that explains why I am needed and what this thing is I suppose. Melody here said the voices told her to report back with me. So we go and meet this asshole and get the curse over with?”, Victor asks.

This prompted laughter from Eris. “Oh Vic’, if it only were that easy. See, none of us know where you two went even is. Besides. This is a trail, the spirit there has to judge you and see if you have passed his bullshit test.

Than what the hell are we doing here? I am getting really impatient, get to the point already!

Woah! Calm down there… Jeez, I’ve only seen you like this back wh… never mind that. I am getting there ok?” Indeed Victor seemed a bit agitated and Eris could guess why but she didn’t know the full story. Melody was a bit confused herself but still following along. Rey on the other hand was enjoying this comparing the mistakes of Eris and Victor to his and Luna’s. After another series of deep breaths Eris continued.

Sometime in our travels together after the cataclysm, before we meet anyone else… before a certain incident… We found another one of these shrines. At that point we knew better than to mess with them so we simply took steps to make sure no one would ever find it and we simply left. It is still there you know? And I know how to get there.” She smirke a bit as the realization of this hit Victor. “You are thinking right. I propose taking you there and getting this over with. I have experience with this you know? I can make sure we do this right and safely; find out about the curse plaguing your mind and Melody’s sight and hopefully end it.

Silence took the room as everyone pondered their own thoughts. Victor looked around and all attention was focused on him. “What about you Melody, are you down for this?

She nodded. “This was my idea in the first place, Eris here was the one who came up with the plan. It is a literal calling! I want to do this Victor, please?”

He then looked back at Eris who simply smiled; it was a sincere smile, something he deep down knew was rare. She spoke up before he could. “Don’t you want to know who you are? Who I am? What this all means? Our curse? I want to talk to you about it Victor, a conversation we needed to have had years ago… but for that I need you back...

I don’t know… are we even ready to face trial to this thing?

One way to find out right? Please? Listen… I can’t believe I am saying this but… I am asking you as a friend. I know you don’t truly know me but you will, I promise. Just this once, trust me ok?

Those words, they resonated with him a bit. Inside of him what seemed like every alarm bell in his body going off. What appeared to be a seething hatred welled up urging him to take up arms and strike her down. However, there was a third feeling, one he didn’t want to even acknowledge but that was present; one that told him he could trust her and to this feeling he clinged on.

I don’t know… give me an hour ok? Just need to think about...

Alright, I can respect that...

An hour passed, and then another. Finally the meeting ended and Melody opened the door. She and Rey stepped outside wandering off together seemingly having struck a conversation. They didn’t bother saying their goodbyes the Roxanne or Victor simply wandering off to the next adventure. The sight of the 5’4”young woman with the 6’2” man was quite amusing to Roxanne. As they walked he materialized a sword and handed it to her in turn handing Despair to him.

Victor exited the room soon after them giving a deep sigh; his shoulders were slumped and he walked seemingly defeated. Roxanne patted him on the back which straightened him up. He looked back at her before she spoke. “You did the right thing Victor, you’ll see.

And how the hell am I going to explain this to Helen?”, Victor answered back

Just tell her the truth and everything will fall into place. I too will have to let Hector know about this… We’ll see who has more luck in that department.. Anyways, safe travels and see you tomorrow if not sooner.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by saltmummy626 on March 01, 2019, 10:49:23 pm »
[written by a big lizard, a skellyman, and a ball]

Walkerville as seen from outside appeared to be an almost medieval kind of palisaded village, except for the fairly modern houses whose roofs could be seen just over the wall. From the inside, it wasn't much different except that the air here thrummed with improvised electricity and the low buzz of the strange jury rigged street lights. Contrary to how it had been a couple weeks ago, Walkerville was now rather calm, leaving the large courtyard at the center of it all rather empty but not abandoned.

"That there is the armory, we mostly stash recovered weapons there. We don't usually take anything out of it, so I guess it's just storage." Hector said, pointing to one of the farms only concrete structures. "Quinn's trailer, though Quinn is gone now. Headed south I think."

Floyd nodded at that, Quinn had indeed headed south. "Aye, just about tore Nip's heart out when he made it clear he was going." He put in.

"Thankfully we have a doctor to tend to the place in his stead, and to kep watch of Quinn's collection. Evidently Helen's supposed to come by and help with storing most of his old artifacts and curios safely." he added, glancing back to Branches to check on her, before nearing the vehicle bay and garage.

To his surprise, he soon saw Nathaniel heading over to greet them, Lilith bounding along excitedly right behind him, though the tigress soon halted, quite clearly glowering at the homunculus. "Hey Nathaniel? What's going on? Just showing a newcomer around. Branches, meet Nathaniel and Lilith." Hector said.

"Huh. Pleased to meet you. I was going to say, you might want to check in with the center soon. They received a large group of people from up north, said a high number of defectors from God's Army. Supposed to keep us informed if anything goes sideways, but things seen quiet for now. Not much else coming in over radio."

In the meantime, Lilith dropped to all fours and advanced on the petite homunculus. The contrast of Lilith's rippling muscles to Branches slim frame made the both of them seem more than they were. The smell was the same, like turned dirt, wild flowers, and unburned ceramic. All the wild things that made up the homunculus, the little smells that creatures like Lilith and Mica could smell.

"thtupid one eyeth. I'm gonna kick you again." Lilith growled. Branches recoiled. Being kicked hadn't hurt so bad, but the crack it had made had taken time to fill in. Then though, Branches face twisted in a cocky scowl. Lilith had picked branches up and drop kicked her last time. If she tried it while the homunculus was firmly two feet, or even one foot, on the ground...

"Jesus Lil, what's that for? Don't be so unfriendly." Nathaniel chastised, tugging uselessly at Lilith's bulky shoulder. Lilith advanced, and he snagged her tail. Where trying to get her attention by pulling on her shoulder hadn't got a result, grabbing her tail certainly did. She spun on him and pounced predatorily, pulling her surprised swipe enough to avoid taking his head off and instead burying him under a ton of fur and flesh. Branches sighed and moved behind Hector for protection. Hector simply put a hand to his face, but smiled none the less.

Nathaniel was left mmphing and squirming in protest as a result, Hector trying not to crack up as he carefully stood between then two of them. "Why do I have a bad feeling about this...Lil, what's going on? Have you met her before?" he asked. Even being aware of her thefts, he still didn't know what she was nor the events that led to Lilith's sudden hostility.

Floyd likewise was a bit concerned as he stepped up, keeping a hand on Branches' shoulder calmly. Most like to pull her out of the way if things got heated again. "Y'said somethin' about the center?" he asked, Nathaniel trying to give a nod, Hector hmming a bit before he spoke up again. "If they need me I'll head over there immediately, otherwise I suppose we should continue keeping an eye on things here..."

"Thtupid clay baby." Lilith purred before head bumping Nathaniel back down when he tried to slide out from under her, "Lilth kicked thtupid one eyeth into the water and broke it." Her statement only confused things a little more. Clay? Broken? The new visitor didn't look like clay, and didn't appear to be broken. A little smirk crossed Branches lips and she stifled it. She considered challenging Lilith to try it again, but such a show of strength would only serve to make the tigress angry, make the men suspicious of her, and possibly tip off Sharlene. Instead, she switched to logic and innocence.

"I don't know what she means... I'm not broken, and I haven't met her before..." She said, moving a little further behind Hector and looking at Lilith over his shoulder with a bit of worry. Lilith narrowed her eyes and growled, but then seemed confused. Branches had been half the size then and completely devoid of gender characteristics. The one eyed creature had the same smell and the same face, but it was different too. She let Nathaniel loose and padded over suspiciously. In response, Branches cringed even closer to the knight. 'On top of being handsome,' she thought distractedly, 'he smells nice too.'

"Can't fool Lilth one eyeth, Lilth know." She menaced.

"You... You're just a big dumb kitty! You never kicked me, I'm not broken!" Branches huffed.

Lilith stared at Branches for a moment, then chuffed a little. "Thtupid. Lilth kick one eyeth later." She chuckled, Floyds grip on her shoulder loosened noticably then and Lilith circled back around again. "Nataleeeeee." She whined, leaving Branches on notice for now. The Homunculus had no doubt that Sharlene would still hear about the encounter later though. Unfortunately for her peace of mind, she clearly didn't know Lilith very well. In an hour or two, Lilith would have dismissed the encounter entirely until the next time they crossed paths.

"Yeah yeah, calm down Lil, we'll get going in a sec. It sounds like they've got things under control Hec, but like I said they thought it was important for us to be kept in the loop on this, just in case. Where are you guys going next? See Catnip?"

Hector, concerned and confused as he was, gave a little nod to Nathaniel as the man tried his best to juggle keeping Lilith from attacking the newcomer with not getting bowled over or dragged along by the tigress. "Yeah, might check on them later today just in case, but for now further introductions might be in order." he said, leading the way along for now.

Lilith watched them go for a bit and quickly lost interest in them, preferring to harass Nathaniel to continue what she saw as her job. She could bully the one eyed clay baby later. Maybe even lump it together with bullying the bug. Lilith gave Nathaniel a lazy satisfied look and imagined what it would be like to knock Mica and the clay babies heads together, and what sort of noise it would make.

Meanwhile, Branches got the grand tour. From the encounter with the tiger, they moved on to the cook shack. The simple structure still looked much like it had when they had moved into the farm. A moderately sized tool shed from the outside, the inside had taken on a decidedly non-toolshed smell. Kathrine's kitchen, Kathrine's domain where she ruled over all with an eye for perfection. Even Catnip wasn't exempt from the small maids shooing once she got started. It smelled heavenly inside.

"Kat's not here at the moment, I suppose she'll be around the cook shack a lot less now that she and Nip have got their own house now." Floyd mused. Hector Nodded and added, "Kathrine can do great things with very little, but the farm tries to keep her stocked with the best we can manage. A lot of times that means canned stuff and somehow she can make it work. Kat's a good chef."

Hector and Floyd extolled Kathrine's skill while sorting through a few of the snacks on a shelf, looking for something to tide Branches over if she wanted, and then there came a bump from under the cook shacks long prep table, and a pot jolted the the side. It slid across the shacks new wood floor and thumped into the side of the stove, then rebounded and made a slow beeline back towards the table.

"Medeina..." Floyd drawled. At that mention and the distinct sight of a certain inquisitive AI practically acting like a scuttling pest, Hector facepalmed, now acutely aware of what this meant. "This can't go well..." he mumbled, stepping forward.

The clattering and shuffling gave way to skittering of a machine trapped under a pot right up until Hector pinned the pot in place under a gauntleted hand, knowing full well that once Medeina caught sight of Branches she'd want to "examine" her thoroughly. Of course, what he didn't know was that such examination might yield anomalous results.

After a long pause, from the pot came a loud "bonk." As Medeina attempted one last try to dislodge the offending kitchenware by trying to push it up and off with a little hop. The proxy really wasn't built for that sort of thing though, so the effort was weak and only accomplished making Hector snort an unintentional laugh.

"Vison zero. Mobility zero. Ms. Price? Are you still there?" the robot asked. Floyd cocked an eye at Hector, but the knight shrugged. It seemed obvious what had happened, Sammy wasn't the sort to do something like this for fun. Mica maybe, but not Floyds girl. No, Medeina had probably got annoying or asked a particularly personal question, and Sammy had trapped the robot under Kathrine's biggest pot. The basin and a collection of cans scattered in one corner suggested she'd tried to weight it down.  "Ms. Minx? I'm under here Ms. Minx."

Hector slid one hand under the pot, and under the robot, and flipped the whole collection of things over. The small robot clonked against the bottom of the pot upside down like a turtle but unable to right itself due to the tight confines of her prison. "Hello Mr. Lowe!" She chirped. Her Camera swiveled and focused, clicking rapidly as the robot took and discarded a series of photographs. "And hello Mr. Price and Ms... Oh, Branches was it? I am glad to see that you are alright, though I believed you terminated in the recent kerfuffle at the center. I am glad to see that I was mistaken."

Floyd stared hard at the robot for a moment, "...What didja' say t'Sammy?" He drawled, somewhat confused as he facepalmed for a moment. "Y'really gotta stop askin' folks these kinda questions..."

"Huh. Yeah, what do you do to get Sammy riled u-" It was then that Hector stopped, glancing back at Branches confusedly, before looking back to Medeina. "...terminated? Alright. Explain what you were doing to Sammy first, then explain what you meant about a 'kerfuffle' at the center. They said there was an incident and that some of the locals from here and The Hall lent a hand, but not much else."

Medeina wriggled in the pot like a beetle stuck on it's back and refocused on Floyd. "Such questions are kept under utmost confidentiality Mr. Price. You know I can't go around sharing the details of collected data with just anyone, not even with a subjects father." She entoned administravely, then back to Hector again, "There was a brief conflict at the refugee center about two weeks ago while the Canadian forces and Smoke Marshal traders were visiting. The results were a lot of injuries but only two fatalities. An unknown woman and Ms. Branches. The unknown woman fired some form of energy weapon, and Branches seemed to have been disintigrated. Ms. D'eva-Dhoris requested Helen bury what was left."

Hector didn't recognize the name at first,  but then remembered the name on a pink slip he'd received in his forge. Illiana D'eva-Dhoris. Before Hector could ask for more details, Medeina kept going. "And you have even since managed to reproduce. A reproductive cycle so quick is unsurprising seeing how quickly you have matured since then."

Silence, absolute silence for many long moments. The only thing changing in the room was the color rising in the Homunculus's face. "I'm sorry, have I said something untoward?" Medeina said, "Have I made an assumption and the earthen men are not your offspring?" Branches shook her head vigorously.

"N-no, I make them out of clay..." She mumbled. Hector and Floyd had seen her command such a creature once already, so that at least nipped that in the bud before all this could get overly awkward, but still left the question of this supposed death to answer for. Hector expected something arcane, that being his main experience with things like this, but Floyd was a father and drew an entirely different conclusion.

"I'm so sorry. Why didn't you just tell us that she..." He asked, putting a hand to Branches shoulder. Hector wasn't certain what to say at this point. There was definitely suspicion, or at least curiosity and concern, but it was Floyd's reaction that halted any further attempt to pry any hidden truths out of the homunculus. Given her silence he started to find his suspicions wavering in favor of worry, and a hand carefully rested on her shoulder in turn, to offer what support he could.

"I wish I'd known..." Hector said, uncertain how to react. This strange woman, Illiana, was clearly up to some unknown trickery, but the few people who'd actually met with her had spoken little of her, other than a momentary whisper that she was behind an early glimmer of intel regarding a local scout's mission, that she knew in advanced it was compromised.

And then there was this madness involving the center, he was certain that Medeina was dismissing arcane happenings in her usual manner, but the true character of it was something he could only guess at. More importantly, he reasoned that no matter what the truth was, it likely hit close to home in a way that'd be uncomfortable to discuss.

And just like that, Branches had been dished up a way out. She couldn't help but feel bad about taking it though, the men were earnest and she could tell they really felt for her.

"I'll be okay..." She said simply. Hector and Floyd looked to each other with a bit of worry, but nodded. They knew where to take a sad girl in need of a good hug and a little friendliness. Catnip would be more than eager to meet with Branches, and Kathrine was a hug champion as well as a provider of treats.

"Alright," Floyd said decisively, "off to see Catnip and Kathrine then. I won't hear no buts about it. If anybody is gonna lift the mood, it's those two."
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Mrnocamera on February 28, 2019, 07:26:45 pm »
(written by derg)

Cardin, of course, immediately ignored what Helen had just told him in favour of grabbing Solomon and dragging him back into the lab, holding up the plastic sapphire he'd been using for a mana gem.  He chirps a bit, gently pressing it into his hand and waiting patiently.  Solomon managed a little squeak of protest, being dragged about pretty much the instant Helen was busy with other things, giving a quizzical stare at the now-depleted mana gem, sighing as he fumbled with a small vial. The occasional straggler undead and otherworldly creature stalking the woods had given them an intermittent supply of essence and blood essence, and Helen had taught him the basics of consecrating it. "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

Cardin shakes his head, chirping an unintelligable response while waiting for Solomon to 'refill' the gem for him.  His wings stretch out a bit as he practically bounces with excitement, grabbing Solomon by the wrist as soon as it looks like he's done and leading him over to the book they were studying, flipping back to the page he was looking at and tapping the line with a talon, starting to cheep out a long-winded explaination before he remembers that nobody besides Melody can understand him.  The avian mutant moves one hand up to rub at his beak nervously as he lets go of Sol's wrist, his sharp talons having dug into his skin a little bit.  He looks a bit apologetic as he gently takes the gem back, holding it close to his chest again, not attempting anything yet.

Solomon sighed a bit at that gesture, concerned as glittering dull essence floated and drifted seemingly by thought, flowing into an steadily restoring that odd perception of radiance to the mana gem. No sooner had he done so then he gave a little yelp of surprise, dragged along back to the workstation in the lab, a bit nervous as he looked back at Cardin.

"Alright, careful, okay? If something happens we might need to ask Helen for help, as I'm not sure either of us can handle whatever might go wrong." he pointed out, a bit uncertain as he tried to puzzle out just what Cardin was up to.

The avian takes a few steps back, bare talons clicking against the floor as he concentrates again, Solomon's hairs standing on end as a strange feeling fills the room, almost but not quite llike static electricity.  Cardin's wings lightly flap a bit as that wind returns again, slightly stronger this time as...  Something starts to form in the air between Solomon and Cardin, not really looking like, well, anything.  The ball of nothing shifts slightly, the 'edge' of it not quite clear.  An identical rift opens up directly behind Solomon, neither of them 'expanding' past being about basketball sized.   Cardin looks surprised for a second, before excitedly chirping and bouncing up and down a bit. 

Without thinking for even a second to maybe realize that this could be a terrible idea, Cardin hops forward, sticking his arm straight through the rift.  He immediately squawks, with the sensation being like his arm, and only his arm, was being dunked into a bucket of ice water, a strange numbness spreading through his limb as it becomes visible from the other hole, feeling around a bit. The mutant gets an idea, leaning in a bit further to be able to reach Solomon's back, tapping him on the shoulder from behind with a curved talon.

Solomon watched warily, nervous as Cardin focused on magic he was rather unfamiliar with. He started to reach for his mask, yet he realized even if he activated it, what would he be looking for, and what could he even do? The need to actually do so however was made moot by the unnatural sensation and the vague image of a wavering mote of unreality, just distinct enough to be perceived with the naked eye.

He froze up, startled by the sight of it as he started to realize what it was. "Wh-Cardin, we really shouldn't be doing things like that, this is exactly the sort o-" He stopped himself only to go wide-eyed at Cardin doing what was probably the dumbest thing possible, jabbing his arm through it. He got about as far as putting a hand on the avian's shoulder with the intent of pulling him back, when he jumped at the hand tapping his shoulder, eliciting an underused fragment of what he'd picked up from studying to translate alchemical texts. "Γαμώ το!"

Cardin visibly restrains himself from laughing, already clearly having too much fun with this for it to be safe, and pulls his arm back, it coming back through both portals easily enough, and with a satisfying 'pop' that cause both rifts to vanish, seemingly...  Dispelled?  There doesn't seem to be much of a trace that they were even there in the first place, even if the spots were viewed through a mask of insight, although there was still a slight, fuzzy hint of them left behind.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by RedVulnus on February 27, 2019, 11:42:34 pm »
Charles examined the helmet he’d already manufactured. It had the space for the new components and already had the inlay to insert the lenses. Setting it back in the metal case he’d retrieved it from Charles put the padlock back in place. Better his companions not know about it yet.

The chest plate he’d made was sitting under his bed along with the plates for his arms. So when Isaac’s runner arrived with the bags Charles took them and placed them on his work table. Opening one he found a chest rig, the guns, and plenty of ammo and magazines. The other contained all of the electrical components he’d need.

Then there was the hydraulic systems as well as the lenses. Everything was here as well as a note. “I don’t have anything for the other thing we talked about but I have an old ‘friend’ who’d probably be able to help. He’s one of the ones running the radio station.”

Making a mental note of the information Charles’ tossed the note into the nearby fire of the forge. He’d be able to hide the bags easily enough but he didn’t need the note floating around. Zipping the bag up Charles hid them under his bed as well before starting to put on his armor.

Sitting on the edge of his bed he stopped for a moment. His eyes looked searched the room until they finally rested on Liam. He was happy to see his friend finally coming into his own and learning to control his powers. Out of all of them Charles remembered Liam being the one the elders whispered about the most. ‘That one will lead us one day’ ‘he may not be strong but he will protect us’ ‘he will be a beacon of hope’.

His eyes turned down to the helmet in his hands. ‘He is hopeless’ ‘he cannot even make a proper sword’ ‘he is a disgrace’. He’d heard those words as well. ‘He will be the ruin of us if anyone listens to him’. Sliding the helmet on and standing he started to walk away when Liam said “Charles? were crying. What’s wrong?”

Closing his eyes Charles stopped in his tracks. “I’m fine Liam.” he said, looking at the sleeping Anton in the corner.

Liam leaned back from where he was sitting on the edge of his own bed and looked over at Charles, grinning in a manner that annoyed Charles as his friend said “Charles you are a terrible liar. So why don’t you just tell-”

Charles’ sigh cut Liam off and the grin fell from his face as Charles said “You ever really believe Anton’s little bullshit about how they won’t take us back?”

Liam frowned at that, staring down at the wolf pup that was sleeping at his feet. “I..never really did. I mean maybe they’d cut him and his brother loose since they vouched so heavily for the old..boss..I don’t even remember his name now. But the rest of us? Nah, they’d take us back.”

Charles shook his head “Liam they’d take you back. Aaron and Gunnar are two hot heads, so’s Eino. Anton’s always been a poor judge when it comes to actions, and me?  You do realize they didn’t like my interest in modern technology right? The Elders were probably going to toss me out if we hadn’t gone on this stupid adventure..”

Charles started for the door when he heard Liam call for him to wait. “Where’re you going?”

Sighing Charles told him he was going ‘out’ and that he’d be back whenever he got back. Soon he was surrounded by the trees. Keeping an axe held loosely in his right hand he started towards the radio station.

Meanwhile Liam sat there staring at the door for a few minutes before shaking his head. He’d heard about how the elders treated Charles, from the sounds of it he was only kept around because his father had threatened to leave if they tossed his son out and he was the best smith they had. He’d always thought that was just rumours but with how Charles sounded he guessed there must have been some truth in there.

Standing up he decided to make his way outside while he pulled an old cigarello from his pocket. Walking out the door with both the puff ball and pup in tow Liam snapped his fingers and lifted his burning thumb to the cigarello’s end. Leaning against the wall next to the door he shook the fire out and watched the pup run off and play with the puff ball of light smiling.

He coughed a little, unused to smoking. Still it was a change of pace from his norm he thought. Change was something he needed if he were honest though. Scratching his cheek he pondered dying his hair, maybe even his beard, while he sat there and took a minute to catch his breath.

Elsewhere Foster and TJ made their way around Walkerville. The people here were nice and honestly kind of fascinating to Foster. That being said Foster, and TJ to a greater extent, was not a social butterfly of a person. So when the children started pulling a bit on TJ’s bandages and one had tried to snag at Foster’s sunglasses the pair had ducked away from people and ended up ducking out of the way to catch a breather.

Adjusting his glasses to properly cover his eyes Foster noticed some of the bandages around TJ’s hand were loose and sighed. Grabbing the hand in question Foster tightened the bandages and said “Well, the people are nice enough I’d say though they could do with better teaching their children. Which will in and of itself come in time.”

TJ nodded as he looked around to see if anyone was watching them. It was an old habit at this point. Nodding in thanks to Foster once he was done TJ said “Yeah, wonder if they’ve got anyone who could teach me how to actually fight. Running’s great and all but it’s not gonna get us out of every situation we get ourselves into.”

Foster nodded in agreement. The only reason the pair had avoided any sort of confrontation was due to the fact neither of them were experienced at fighting and Foster’s pistol didn’t have much ammo. “Yes, hopefully they do. But for now why don’t we go see about that man, Isaac I think it was, and his little library.”

TJ agreed and the pair started for the building. It wasn’t too difficult to make it there and the place was relatively quiet compared to outside. So the pair decided to take a bit of a breather and sip the coffee that Alice brought them.

She’d asked them what it was that brought them there and they responded with what they figured was the usual story. Just a couple of people looking for somewhere safe to stay. She nodded and asked if she could get them anything else but they shook their heads. “Well okay, but if you need anything me and my dad are just around the corner getting the cafeteria setup.”

The pair nodded in response and decided to peruse some of the books. They needed a bit of a breather anyway,
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Chaosvolt on February 27, 2019, 06:50:28 pm »
(( Written with Mrno. ))

Helen hummed to herself as she returned to The Hall, having trusted Branches to Steinar for the time being, though by now he too was on his way back after she wound up with Hector and Floyd.

Solomon had already gone back to regular tasks at hand, and Green was busy reading a a collection of Helen's notes on the texts he was not yet prepared for. A quick question and she was soon headed out behind the building of the Hall itself to check on Cardin, finding him looking around and fumbling to put away the signs of his previous experiment.

She saw little out of the ordinary at first, until her gaze fell on the bone charm. The avian only just now noticed that, and gave a quiet chirp at Helen when he saw her masked face glance in that direction.

The metal mask's features shifted in a familiar display of magic, and almost immediately she seemed to glaring right at him, a concerned look hidden under her mask. He froze, chittering and chirping as she seemed to look right through him. She quite literally was however, regarding the faint shimmer of magic lingering over the table behind him, stepping forward as he nervously shuffled his wings.

"... do you know what happened?" she asked, Cardin giving a shrug before pointing at the lab, Helen quickly taking note of the items on the table, and what was halfway through being put away.

The only answer Cardin could give was a few nervous chirps, but that was enough to provoke her suspicion, leaning forward a bit. "Something here caused a bit of instability, a very faint one, and there's other signs too." she said, holding up the now-mangled bone charm. "The disturbance seems too weak to have caused this directly, so this is more likely due to the source of the ivory reacting to the effect. Now, did you witness what caused this?"

Cardin stood there, looking down as he pondered how to try and explain this. Solomon was better at judging what he was trying to hint at, while Helen was instead better at reading his intent. He fiddled with the bandages covering his arms, already something that had caused Helen of concern lately, before the avian finally gave a nod.

When Helen stepped forward to where he was sitting, now in arm's reach of him, he almost panicked, even moreso as her mask deactivated and she seemed to look him in the eye, green gaze just barely apparent through the eyeholes. "Well." she said with a sigh. "However it happened, it may prove useful to teach you how to clean up minor disturbances like this."

He gave a guilty little nod before standing, only to freeze up as she pulled that strange golden talisman from her belt, which he vaguely knew was a weapon of some kind. To his surprise she reached her other hand out, the avian cheeping quietly before offering his in turn.

In doing so she placed the symbol of judgement in his hand, the weight of it surprising Cardin. He almost dropped it before her hand supported his, helping him grasp the symbol's band, leaving its three winding prods pointing outward. She guided his hand, mask re-activated so she could see the disturbance and trace along its outline with the symbol held up to it. As she went along she pointed out the way the golden talisman seemed to glow, brighter as it trailed along the peak points and critical threads of reality, caught up in the disturbance.

A momentary lesson in mending a disruption that was minor enough it didn't tear a hole in the Veil, and a firm reprimand to be careful and not risk creating a worse one next time.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Mrnocamera on February 26, 2019, 06:27:43 pm »
(middle three paragraphs done by a derg)

Cardin quietly whistled to himself as he worked, sharp talons deftly flipping through pages of the book he was currently trying to study.  As usual, the translator's notes were wrong, but the mutant's grasp on Traditional Chinese still left a few things up to interpretation.  Chirping quietly, he slides his current, mostly-depleted, mana gem to the side, clearing up some space on the table as he moves the book front and centre.  The texts kept referencing something about a 'Path', though neither the notes nor Cardin could figure out the words before it.  Cardin leans forward, resting his beak on his hand, talons gently tapping against the hard material as he continues idly whistling a tune to himself.  After a couple more minutes of trying to figure out the context behind it, the avian mutant decides to just wing it, so to speak.

Shuffling his wings around and tightening the bandages covering some healing burn wounds from earlier experiments, Cardin picks up his mana gem and holds it close to his chest, closing his eyes and trying to focus on 'opening a path' by just removing the space between both points.  The gem starts to glow in his hands, gently at first, but it quickly starts shining brightly, growing hot in his grasp as the air starts to feel heavier, the pages of his study book starting to shift, reacting to winds that aren't there.  Cardin's feathers ruffle slightly as that 'wind' picks up, before everything stops suddenly, the mana gem fading back to a dull blue. 

Solomon had been tending to matters in The Hall proper, the usual daily tasks in between his own studies, mask set aside for the moment. At least things had calmed down since Helen dealt with the bandits earlier. He made his way back to the area that was now serving as an improved workshop for testing and studying magic.

There was a table nearby as he entered, expecting to find the book the both of them had spent time studying, likely left haphazardly on it or elsewhere in the room. He wanted to put it away properly lest Helen have to put the books away for them, again. Or worse, if Isaac stopped by he might give them both an earful over it. Again.

Instead he saw the avian there, experimenting with something. "Hey Cardin. Everything alright?" Without his mask on he had no idea what the bird was up to, though something lingering in the air left him instinctively unease, and something caught his eye on glancing over at the adjacent table. Another of Helen's lessons entailed a small trinket carved of otherworldly ivory, and at some point it'd be cracked nearly in half for Green to practice mending with that stave he'd made. But now the formerly cross-shaped charm had unraveled into a tangle of thin bony tendrils, rewound into an alien symbol in reaction to some abnormality.

Cardin shrugs, his wings mimicking the action, as a response to Solomon's question.  He tosses the used gem, now obviously just a plastic sapphire replica, back onto the table, next to the book.  The avian cheeps quietly before pointing at the book, now flipped onto a completely different page in a language he doesn't recognise.  A few chirps and attempts at charades later, and Cardin just gives up on trying to convey what he was trying to do, his wings fluttering a bit before he settles down again.
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