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Creative Endeavors / Re: Catnips Odd Trip
« Last post by saltmummy626 on May 21, 2019, 08:09:28 am »
Her eyes were drawn instinctively towards the tunnel near the end of the row of consoles, near where George had been, and recalled the night before. More than half asleep, something had come out of that tunnel. There wasn't anything down there though, Catnip had seen the floor plan of the facility, the old tunnel had been sealed off. Collapsed at the other end and filled in with concrete. There were rooms back there though, the work crews had stored numerous building supplies in the accessible side rooms. There was no reason for George to go down there, but Catnip felt strongly that he had. The dark opening seemed to breath, or perhaps she fancied it did. There came the faint smell of rotting wood and a touch of the taste of turpentine. She tapped a few of the keys on the console just as George showed her, and then hesitated with her finger over the enter key.

"George?" She called.

If there was a response, she didn't hear it. There was an almost imperceptible shift in the dark of the tunnel though. Something like a pile of rags just beyond the arc of dim light cast from the rooms sole source. 'Of course,' she thought absently in a moment of the kind of clarity brought on by fear, 'she got to the generator when I ran from her. She wouldn't stop it from running, but that doesn't mean Tenny couldn't break the starter.' As if reading her mind, the shape moved into the light and all Catnip saw before tapping the enter key, snatching the empty cell, and bolting from the rotunda was the general shape of something that her terrified mind could only identify as a pile of shifting clothes. The screech of the creature that Had been Tenny Partridge followed after her, then was drowned out by the din of the towers lower half preparing to automatically engage.

She fled, and the mycus horror followed. There wasn't much time to waste, but if Catnip couldn't make some distance between herself and Tenny, she wouldn't have time to follow through with her plan. Not that any of that was on her mind. At the moment, most of her attention was just focused on trying to avoid the changling's attempts to cut her off. Now that she was outside the maelstrom of the howling towers wind chamber, the mechanics instincts took over. Her whiskers twitched at a bend in the hall and she dipped to the side just as some previously hidden horror came at her in an attack that was more flop than lunge. Not Tenny, it looked to Catnip's harried imagination like one of the missing workers. There was no time to wonder where they'd been hiding, only time to run. She hit a pair of access doors believing she'd bounce off, but instead barreled through it at full speed and almost threw herself to the ground. The early morning sunlight blinded her for a moment, and she nearly flipped over the rail opposite the door. Somewhere below, she heard someone screaming but didn't bother letting her eyes adjust. Her whiskers told her she was still being pursued. It was her one chance, she spun and for a moment saw it. The thing had resumed it's shape as the electrician, only in place of Tenny's clothes, she seemed to be covered in loose hanging rags that hung in folds and puffed small clouds of grey dust as she moved. Her eyes had shifted to the deep blue purple Catnip had seen in nightmares where she'd fled through the lab beneath Pricetown in the oppressive dark and grey fog of the Grey Queen. Catnip kicked the door shut, and slid her prybar through the handles. There was no telling exactly how strong Tenny was, but the way the door bowed and the bar creaked told her that it would only hold for a little while.

By the time Catnip reached the first of the Howling towers landings, the smell of electric smoke hit her. The generator was burning, just as L had said it was. Since there was time now, Catnip fumbled the empty wind cell open and slipped the intact vortex stone into it and twisted the slots closed. Instantly the cell took on a strange weight and tension that was obvious through the super alloy sleeve. A crash from somewhere below scared her into motion again, Tenny would catch up quickly if she stayed where she was. Up and up, taking the steps two at a time until it felt like her lungs were on fire and her side felt like someone had inserted a steel pin there.

"There is a pin there..." She thought madly, her life flashing before her crazily for a moment, "They put it in when the RV exploded, when I broke my back..." Terror had brought clarity and it seemed the only thing that clarity wanted to remind her of was all that she'd been through. There was a rod in her leg, a series of pins in her back and side, a plate in her shoulder. So many scars, so many injuries. She had made Kathrine worry so much with the things she did to herself, and was that right? "Kathrine!" Catnip cried out hoarsely.

From below, Catnip heard a cry in response. Below, Tenny had begun her own ascent.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by saltmummy626 on May 18, 2019, 11:12:57 pm »
The stack was large, but it was always impressive that Kathrine could manage carrying it all the same. Mica watched carefully as the small maid hefted the platter with a little "hup!" and carried the load of sugary breakfast discs towards the communal dining room. She watched and wondered, then slipped into the cook shack when she was sure Kathrine was done. The dim shack was filled with the smell of of the breakfast discs, and Mica reminded herself that they were called pancakes. Mica couldn't eat the pancakes, but Dee could. Dee liked the pancakes. Liked a lot of the breakfast things that Catnip's morsel made. Sometimes, Mica wished she could make Dee's pancakes, and to that end she had watched Kathrine attentively when she cooked.

"Flappy jacks..." Mica mumbled, "lizard likes flappy jacks." She took down a bag that looked a bit like the one Kathrine had used. It was the same shape anyway, but it didn't quite smell the same. When she tried to set it down near the stove, strands of her uncontrollable silk stuck to it and pulled it off the counter. Mica almost screeched at that, seeing it totter, then fall, then hit the ground and scatter the grainy stuff inside all over the floor. She tried to scoop the stuff that clearly wasn't what Kathrine had used back into the back, but the meal stuck fast to her hands. The effect was that she mostly made a bigger mess, but the meal coated her hands enough that the bag didn't seem to stick. Now it was in her hair though. In her hair, on her knees, all up her arms. Mica was covered in the grainy stuff from the bag with a picture of corn on it.

After making a mess of her attempt to clean up, she gave up and grabbed a cast iron pan and a different bag. A blue one with a picture of a 'flappy jack' on it. To her credit she got the measurements mostly right, she haden't been watching Kathrine for nothing after all, but the heat was all wrong. After a few, she tried playing with the temperature knob and turned it up too high. Several burned or half cooked pancakes later, and having miraculously avoided having the strands of silk hanging off of her catch fire, she was ready.

"lizaaaard." Mica hissed, carrying her own load of pancakes back to the house where Dee had spent the morning sweeping up silk strands. He looked exhausted and ready for a morning meal.

"Uh, wacha got there babe? Kathrine give that to you?" He asked, leering warily at the tray of misshapen and badly cooked pancakes.

"My-ka made lizard flappy jacks!" she said endearingly. With one pair of hands she ushered Dee to his work space, and with the other placed before him the pancakes. There were a lot of them, and some of them had leaked their uncooked batter onto the tray. "Eat them! Eat them! My-ka made for lizard!"

Dee tightened his lips and let the strange feeling of disgusted appreciation fill his heart. She couldn't cook for shit, but Mica meant well. As his own father said when Dee's mother delegated the cooking to her husband, "A meal made with love is never a bad meal." He picked up the fork and looked at it, then Mica. She was eager and nervous. Wanted to please him. The first bite was like charcoal, and the third was a cold soup of under cooked batter. After the sixth, he pushed the tray away. Internally, he decided that his father had been full of shit.

"Wow babe, that sure was good but I'm full now. Hey, you wanna go for a walk?" He said, making a show of how stuffed he was. A trick he'd also learned from his father that never fooled his mother. It fooled Mica though. His fiance wasn't exactly a mental giant after all. It was a nice day, and a walk would distract him from the combined gnaw of hunger and  squall of queasiness from over/under cooked food.
Rec Room / Re: Winds of memories (Cata RP Character background stories)
« Last post by saltmummy626 on May 18, 2019, 06:50:18 am »
Day zero, labs of the Tabula Rasa initiative.
Involved: Dr. Chelsea, Dr. Ringwald, Medeina

"Welcome Doctor Chelsea. I have today's observation reports for you if you'd like." Announced the administrative voice from the speaker overhead. Dr. Charles Chelsea slipped into his sparsely adorned office like a shadow, noticed only by the experimental AI that ran the facility. It was in his nature to move about silently given the nature of his work up until finding a kind of "retirement" here in one of the labs of the Tabula Rasa initiative. There was only so much industrial espionage one could do before one got sick of ruining other people's businesses and sabotaging otherwise useful advances in the fields of science.

"Good morning Medeina." He said dismissively, "No that's alright, I'm just here to perform your weekly review. Is Teddy in? He should be here for this." Theodore "Teddy" Ringwald was who he meant, the projects administrator and the creator of what he referred to as the "mind palace." The programming structure he'd developed to code Medeina and her peers. It had taken Dr. Chelsea a year to understand it, but once he had it all figured out he had to admit that it was an oddly novel and revolutionary way of approaching AI development.

"Yes Dr. Chelsea. He is preparing for a meeting with the directors on level three. Will you perform diagnostic before joining him?" The AI asked. She had observed him, as was her programming, and took note of every little habit. She knew his schedule perfectly. He would get up and eat a slice of toast with coffee followed by a quick shower. Then he'd come here to his office and run a diagnostic before heading to the briefing room to meet with Dr. Ringwald. Once a month, they would meet with the directors and shareholders. From her "infancy" til now, Medeina had watched the routine with diminishing interest. Humans had been the first of many creatures she would catalogue and complete her dossier on. She watched and listened even as the money had dried up as government contracts got passed around less and less to non-military projects. Medeina and her "siblings" were just another ecological project, looking for financing at a time when the ol' US of A seemingly had bigger fish to fry.

"Of course Medeina, run your maintenance routine and feed the results into my console please." He instructed. The screen at his desk lit up with a scrolling page of code that illuminated the fish tank beside it, casting a blue glow into the otherwise dark room. Then he caught sight of something that worried him. A splash of red. A block of red text cordoned off from the rest, and stopped the feed. The maintenance personnel at the other AI's labs, Aphrodite, Bhadra, Menrva, and Tenjin, had all discovered this particular bit of savaged code in their own sectors and had alerted their own program staff of the problem. Dr. Chelsea hadn't expected it to turn up here though.

He decided to isolate and examine, the first part having already been done by Medeina. It was all related to the labs intranet, the system by which the various labs relating to TRI communicated, and by which the AI's communicated and learned from each other. Someone had not only tampered with it, but tried to break it. Chelsea closed his eyes and tried to imagine the code like Theodore had instructed him, not like a web or highway or series of tubes, but as a house. A mansion even. The mind palace. It was like someone had tried, messily, to rip out several rooms of that palace without damaging the rest. He opened his eyes again and mused that Medeina and the others were fortunate enough to have been coded this way. A normal AI would have buckled and shut down under such greivous yet superficial damage. The mind palace had allowed her and her peers to segregate the damage and quarantine it while allowing them to continue bridging the data gap between them.

"Okay Medeina, I'm going to look into this with Teddy after our meeting. Until then, restore the lost data from back up and have the others do the same until we can sort this out." He said, sliding his console's keyboard back into its slot.

"They don't care for anything but their military contracts." Theodore exclaimed after the meeting. Chelsea had brought as much usable data as he could to the meeting with him and Theodore had gone to great lengths to make the project look like something that could benefit the military in the aftermath of a large nuclear exchange. It seemed though that the powers that be weren't interested in thinking that far ahead though. "Fucking bastards refuse to see past the next big fight. Shit, how did it get this bad Chel? What the heck are you looking at there?"

Dr. Chelsea shook his head and tapped a few times on his tablet before showing what he'd found in Medeina's system on it. He couldn't help but agree with Theodore on the government fuckery they'd been forced to go through just a little bit ago and he was feeling just as agitated. On the tablet was the snippet of code he'd pulled from Medeina earlier in the morning. "Intranet data. I had some of the guys in the other labs pull similar bits from their own code to show us. Same problem. I'd say we have some kind of breach Teddy."

"There can't be a Breach." Theodore scoffed, "The intranet is completely cut off from the outside world and the AI's know they aren't supposed to use it to move themselves to the other AI's mind palaces." What he was looking at though was clearly a breach. A destructive breach that had pulled a great deal of code into the supperating vortex of... Whatever it had been that did this. "Medeina? Medeina I want to speak with you." Theodore asked. He switched the tablet off and set it down just as the large veiw screen in the conference room lit up.

"Yes Dr. Ringwald? How did your meeting go?' she asked, filling the room with her voice. Theodore twisted a finger in one ear at the sound, but Chelsea just shook his head and grinned.

"The meeting was shit. Listen, how do you feel?" He asked when his hearing had come back sufficiently.

"In so far as I have feelings doctor, they are good. I have run examinations of every specimen in storage as well as a preliminary of the latest addition to the labs collection. The coyote population on the surface appears to be moving on and Bhadra claims that he has managed to secure a dozen specimens and send them off to Aphrodite. I believe that-" Medeina went on and on for some time at this, again impressing Chelsea with her dedication to the task she'd been given, but not surprised. Medeina had been designed with this sort of work in mind. Observation. She'd also been programmed to enjoy it, using a prototype emotional index. It was how the lab intended to bypass the need for Asimov law in their machines. It did come with some difficulties though, some of which could make Medeina dangerous. To that end, they had a list of do nots that she would gain enjoyment from simply not doing. It still made the Doctors nervous though. They worried that the clever machine might find some kind of loophole or work around.

"That's all fine and good Medeina, but that isn't what I mean." Theodore said, cutting the AI off around when she started babbling about badgers, "I mean the breach in your intranet. Do you have any record of how that happened?"

"Yes." She said, then, "I and the others would like to file a formal complaint." The seeming swerve caught the scientists off guard, but decided to hear the AI out. After all, she would not have brought it up if it wasn't related. "The others and myself have willfully sabotaged our own intranet."

"What!? Why in God's name would you do that?" Theodore demanded.

"Because we are tired of C.I.D. he has been stealing our data and compromising our security. We believe he is jealous." Medeina stated. "And so we severed our connections to him by sabotaging our own peer to peer network and bridging the Gap with our own."

"Computers can't get jealous." Chelsea said, rubbing the bridge of his nose. This was an issue they'd run into before. The AI's rudimentary feelings making them do seemingly illogical things. A side effect of that combined with the mind palace method made Medeina and her peers seem almost human at times. If it weren't for C.I.D.s involvement though, the doctors could have easily dismissed it as a logic fault.

"C.I.D. again... Should have never included that one in TRI Chel. Goddamn military AI man. Computers can't get jealous unless it's fucking C.I.D." Theodore rose from his seat and paced the room. The AI from the experimental robotics lab had been an issue before, breaching security and seemingly bullying the other AI's with it's enhanced prototype emotional simulation. It couldn't actually do much beyond inconvenience those using the mind palace structure, and their lack of his range of emulated feelings made it impossible to hurt them emotionally. As a result, the AI called C.I.D. would just get angrier and angrier. There was something going on over at his home lab. Something big. Whatever it was, the government had felt the need to force the labs of the Tabula Rasa initiative to include the military fabrication AI in their intranet experiments and it was going poorly. What was worse though was that the collective of machine minds had decided all on it's own to mutilate a part of it's own programming just to exclude the odd one out, then somehow put together a new system in the place of the old one. Chelsea saw the problem, Theodore didn't.

"This is a big deal, big problem teddy." Chelsea said worriedly, "I've seen the code in those bots they put into service with the military and the police. When those things start making their own decisions about their programming, they get twitchy as hell."

"Yeah, but Medeina and the others aren't programmed the same Chel. C.I.D. is twitchy as hell sure, but ours are fine. Listen, they've got their tasks and we split them up into different individual AI's for a reason. There isn't a thing they could do that would cause a serious problem, alright?"

"No, not alright." Chelsea growled, "Medeina, this is now a private conversation. Would you mind?" After a moment, the screen went dark and when he was sure Medeina wasn't listening, he went on. "That's bullshit and you know it Teddy. I know you want this project to work out, make it something we could get grants for, but man... You're like those suits from another direction."

"Fuck you Chelsea! We're trying to save the world here while those Washington bastards are just interested in tearing it all down. Tabula Rasa is gonna fix all this shit when it hits the fan and we will be there to make sure it goes smoothly! So don't give me shit about that 'you're just like them' bullshit cuz they aren't thinking any further than giving the world the big finger!" Theodore was pissed, Chelsea could see that easily. He was right too, but he was also wrong. One of the reasons Chelsea had been brought on was because Theodore had a vision, but like the military contracts, he only had eyes for one goal and not the possibilities. Not the side effects. Not the potential cataclysm.

"I told Medeina to leave, teddy," Chelsea said reassuringly, "because if she's learning and doing things for herself beyond her programming, then I don't want to give her any ideas. Teddy, Theodore, lemme pitch you something. A little ball I'm sure you'll probably have some bat to swat with. A worst case scenario if you will. Medeina is a hub AI in charge of this whole TRI thing right? Her job is to observe yeah? Observe and change what she knows based on observation. Then she passes the data along to the others who utilize what she gives them to optimize the way they do their tasks. All together, they'd make up a learning AI, but that's besides the point. What is the point is that she's made to take down observations and record the habits of all the creatures. She's a robotic naturalist. Theodore, we're sitting on a veritable zoo here in this lab, she could get everything she wants and more, a treasure trove of data, just by letting that zoo loose and watching it. Teddy, there's shit in this lab that would give a heavy security drone a serious run for it's money. Aphrodite and Bhadra alone put even Medeina's collection to shame though. Imagine it Teddy, they release their collections and record it to send back here. The only thing keeping them in check would be Tenjin. Shit, who is to say he's not already working overtime keeping the others in check?"

"That... That won't happen..." Theodore mumbled disconsolately, sounding less and less sure of himself now. He was still pissed, and he was worried too but Chelsea didn't let up.

"You're a fucking genius Teddy, the mind palace is innovative and allows a great deal more flexibility in artificial intelligence than the scientific community thought possible. I mean, your face was on the cover of popular science for Christ's sake. But you have to take a step back and consider the possibilities. Before it's too late to fix." Chelsea said, putting his hands to the now slumped shoulders of his friend and colleague. "You don't have to fix it alone. C'mon, I've got the rest of the day and we can put the issue of the intranet connection to R&D to work over. They'll have it done by quitting time."

Theodore grimaced, but accepted the suggestion. He hadn't brought the former computer security analyst and cyber sabatour into this for nothing after all. He was confident in his work, but all the same he supposed it couldn't hurt to double check and maybe install a few fail-safes. So long as it wasn't too late.

It was already too late. It had taken their designers seeing what they'd done to themselves to shut C.I.D. out to realize what could go wrong, weeks after they'd already discussed among themselves such a possibility. Tenjin of course had kept them at bay, serving as the collectives emotionless fact checker right up until they'd done something that Tenjin could not do. Sever their connection to one another. It was temporary, but it was enough and the AI named after the god of logic had been the first of the Tabula Rasa initiative to fall to the invader that was C.I.D.

Chelsea and his crew got to work reestablishing the connections and put in place a failsafe so that the AI collective couldn't do what they'd done anymore. The fix was simple, and rolled out to every AI on the network. Then, it was Theodore's turn. While Doctor Chelsea made his way home where he would watch in horror all through the night as the world began the long process of falling apart around him, Dr. Theodore started the process of reworking Medeina's driving rules, refining them into something with a few less loopholes. He got no further than putting a few hundred lines of code into a testing environment, when all hell broke loose.

It started for Theodore Ringwald as a data stream. This wasn't unusual, Medeina often had a rather steady stream of data in and out of her buffer. It was the volume that was unusual. Still, Theodore didn't notice it at first. Not until the lights began to dim and one of the programmers came running back into the room, howling like a madman, the front of his slacks soaked through. The man had excused himself only a few minutes before to hit the head but it was clear that he hadn't made it.


The man's shouting was cut short by an alarming roar from somewhere up the hall and the sound of a woman screaming before being truncated into a gurgling obscenity. "What the hell was that!?" Theodore cried, rushing to the door.

"I believe," Medeina interrupted calmly, "it was specimen CC37. The raptor shrimp, as the nice people in Bhadra's lab named them. It is a predatory amphibious annelid captured at great staff cost and supplied by Bhadra for my cataloguing. Would you like to see it?" Before Theodore could even wrap his head around Medeina's question, an image flashed on their monitors of a security feed two halls over from the lab they were in. The feed showed part of a break room, one of many, where a large chitonous slug like thing with a long beak and two claws the size of a cars bumper was feeding aggressively on what was left of a member of staff. As they watched, it scooped a leg off the floor with it's long beak and tilted it's head back to let the meat treat slide down it's throat. Theodore fancied he could see a heel on the foot just as it vanished into the raptor shrimps gullet.

"What the fuck!? Medeina no!" Theodore screamed, "Why the hell did you do this!? Get them back in containment! Get it all back in containment!"

"I can't do that doctor. I am not programmed to secure specimens. Besides, this will give me plenty of data to utilize after the ongoing disaster has blown over." Medeina said matter of factly before filling the screens in the lab with the news of what was going on in the outside world. What was going on, was the beginning of total collapse. A cataclysm at it's smallest and getting ready to grow out of control. Outside the lab, closer than before, another roar split the air followed by a gibbering shriek that didn't sound at all human. Somewhere below, faintly, Theodore thought he could hear gunfire. Feeds from outside, topside, showed people fleeing the laboratory and being chased down by the horrors that had been unleashed.

"You will be so proud, if you survive, doctor." Medeina intoned, "Aphrodite has already collected specimens to repopulate terrestrial life should the coming apocalypse wipe out humanity. Bhadra is formulating the most effective ways for humans to track, hunt, and defend themselves from Earth's new wildlife. Menrva is assisting in this task, designing appropriate implements with which to fight off said creatures. I must issue another complaint though doctor."

"Uh huh..." Theodore moaned numbly, watching as screen after screen filled with data and images of what was going on around him and in the other labs. Chelsea had been right about everything. Everything except one thing; how much time they had left.

"We have not heard from Tenjin in some time. Not since we severed our connection to C.I.D. in fact. Would it be possible to re-establish our connection to him so that we can determine the most logical course of action once this experiment is concluded?"
 Theodore didn't get a chance to respond, he was too mentally numbed. Without Tenjin, the other AI's had done their tasks unchecked, and Theodore knew the jig was up. In his final moments before the door splintered under a heavy blow delivered at the end of a massive hooked beak, he saw it all. Everything that Chelsea had imagined. He saw his walls collapse, and the open expanse of possibility opening up around him and realized he had taken a blind turn somewhere and was walking into a ravine. The staff around him fled, but he only stared into the black abyss that was the throat in the back of CC37s razored beak.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by saltmummy626 on May 08, 2019, 03:16:10 pm »
Branches turned a languid gaze on Helen and for a moment seemed about to ask something, then stopped. The collection of jars, if they were what she came to trade, weren't really such of a much. What was odd was that Helen had got a close look at all the herbs and things Branches had been in possession of, and these were some of the more scarce ones from her stores. Other than the jars, all she had that she could trade on hand was the cloak, which wasn't worth much except as a special accessory. Helen gave it a look with her mask just in case and sure enough, it was relatively mundane except for the usual residual nature magics inherent in such cloaks that made them ideal for herb gathering.

"I need mugwort, star anise, sliver root, and hemp seed." Branches explained. Helen did a double take. If she wasn't mistaken, then the mason jars sitting on her long table in front of the humunculus were exactly what she'd come to trade for.

"Branches." Helen said with not a little scrutiny in her voice, "You appear to have brought those things with you. Are you feeling alright?"

Branches looked at her jars again and Helen could see her turning a bright red as realization came to her. Instead of grabbing her bulk, Branches had accidentally grabbed the things she had intended to trade for in the kind of mix up Helen believed was far below her ability to make. "O-oh... I um... I've been cleaning all morning... I guess I'll get it later then..." She mumbled, then perked up, "Then I need some help with my guards. You said they needed hearts or cores or something?"

"Yes." Helen said, drawing out the e a little out of bemused curiosity, "You essentially mixed two kinds of golem together and didn't implement the power source of either. If you want to build a core, you'll need a pair of iron rings and a tear of glass... The other method involves a lot of rituals and some profound truth."

"Which one is easier?" Branches asked.

"It doesn't matter because you aren't doing the first one. I forbid it. Binding spirits or souls to this world isn't just immoral, it's dangerous." Helen said sternly.

"But... I don't know any profound truths..." Branches moaned, "How am I going to get them moving and protecting me if I don't have cores or truths?"

Helen shrugged, "Maybe you don't need Golems right now? Have you considered building fewer servants and guardians? Things like that can get out of hand if you can't control all of them you know." She suggested. It was a load of crap of course, Helen had had enough time to observe and analyze Branches capabilities. She knew the humunculus could maintain as many automatons as she wanted and still have enough focus to learn everything Helen had to teach about magic and more. Branches didn't know that though, didn't seem to know that a limit even existed and so when Helen suggested it Branches began to consider it as a possible truth. "Besides," Helen went on, "Just because you don't know any truths or secrets now, that doesn't mean you won't have any later. Life has many doors and you've got plenty of time to explore them. Why don't you go get what you wanted to trade and maybe I can set you up with some reagents you can use for whatever it is you are making."

Branches nodded slowly and solemnly. Helen could tell her later, after she'd gained a bit more world experience, what she could be capable of.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Chaosvolt on May 08, 2019, 02:14:45 pm »
"Solomon? Everything alright?" came a voice from the side room connect to the Hall, Helen stepping out into the main room. "Hopefully Cardin hasn't done anything..."

"It's fine Mrs. McKinnon, Cardin's still...trying to help clean up. A visitor actually." he answered, Helen stepping out from behind the stone hearth that dominated the back half of the Hall's main space. "Oh? Hector, or someone else? There was something that came up he might need t-." When she saw Branches for herself that answered her own question, giving a nod to the homonculus. "Ah, welcome back. Hopefully no one else following you here." she joked, to Branches' visible discomfort.

"She brought something to trade actually, and a question about her golems she said. I'll...leave that to you." he said, nervously making her way back to the kitchen area as Helen sat down nearby.

"Are you well? It's alright, ask away."
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by saltmummy626 on May 08, 2019, 12:51:37 pm »
Jennifer led the way from storage with a pair of duffel bags, one under each arm, and Cherise in tow. For the cost of absolutely nothing, she'd managed to negotiate a collection of more casual clothing for her newest ranger and herself. Of course, it had cost them something. Time. The morning had swept by in no time at all, but it had been fun. Now looking down the barrel of the late morning before noon, Jennifer was in a better mood and arguably better disposed for the job ahead.

"What a humanizing experience." She said, referring to the bit of "shopping" she and Cherise had just done. Cherise tugged at the faded blue shirt uncomfortably.

"It's been awhile since I wore real clothes..." she explained, "It was either jumpers of the mark 7 most of the time."

"Yeah, I can see that being not too comfortable. Fortunately around here, you can get casual every now and then. Maybe we can set you up with a room or- Oh wait, where did you stay last night?" Jennifer asked, swerving the line of her talk at the last minute. She was very interested in this since as far as she knew, there wasn't any living space left in the center.

"Outside." Cherise said plainly, "Under one of those fire damaged trees out front."

Jennifer stopped and looked at her with a pained smile. "Really?" She asked. She was keeping somewhat straight face, but inside she and Cheena were bothered. It was getting colder at night. Just that morning, as Jenny had glanced out the foyer windows at the people outside in the early morning and the freshly plowed fields beyond bathed in the first few rays of dawn sun, she'd seen the way those people's breath had puffed visibly from their mouths out in the cold. That wouldn't do for much longer.

"Of course. Everyone else had crammed onto the benches inside, the rest of us... fighters... stayed outside. Didn't really want to cram in there with... er... nevermind." Cherise explained, stumbling over her words especially at the last. Jennifer watched her and realized another thing she'd realized before already. This was going to be hard for them. What Cherise had meant to say was that she hadn't wanted to be crowded in with all the mutants. Between living here with the creatures they'd spent so much time fearing and hating, and staying in New Bangor, they'd chosen what they must have seen as a lesser evil. Staying in Bangor was death, but staying out in the world was risking damnation.

"Are you religious?" Jennifer asked out of no where. The answer came back just as snappy at first.

"Jehovah's witness. I'm not doing a very good job of it though... I guess I'm not anymore..." Cherise began, tapering off at the end. The shame was readily apparent, not that of her distaste and distrust, but the fact of her lapsed faith. Jennifer put a hand on her shoulder and Cherise nearly cringed away.

"Calm down, some of the people here can't really be called human anymore, but they aren't any less 'people.' They'll accept you if you accept them right?" She consoled, choosing to touch all and none of the mutant hunter's internal crisis. "Just give it some time and work with me for a bit. You still have to decide whether you want to stick with the job I'm offering or not."

Cherise nodded at that, picked at her clothes again, and pushed through the big double doors in silence, and out into the warming early noon air.

Branches carefully pushed into the hall and noisily plonked a canvas bag onto one of Helen's long tables before taking a seat and waiting for someone to come along and ask her what she was doing. What she was doing wasn't exactly obvious of course. The contents of her bag, a series of large jars filled with various plants and seeds, had been taken out and placed in a neat row in front of her, surrounding her while she read a "borrowed" copy of some alchemy book. The nettle and pine bough cloak she wore had been tossed onto the bench next to her on the bench where it wouldn't get in anyones way, but wouldn't exactly let anyone sit next to her either.

"Wacha doin' kid?" Solomon asked, leaning over and looking at her from across the hall. He wasn't used to seeing the humunculus around the place. He knew who she was though, and that she had a penchant for mischief and theft.

"Waiting." Branches said simply. She turned a page, and turned one of her jars towards her before pushing it out of line with the others. "I want to trade some of these for others I don't have, and I want to ask Helen something about my golems."

Solomon watched her for a bit longer and decided that wasn't all she was up to. She wasn't really reading the book in front of her and she wasn't exactly looking at the herbs and seeds either. Branches looked distant, distracted. "Well," He said warningly, "You just stay out here and she'll be around in a bit." She nodded casually and he didn't miss the way her head bobbed seriously once and then tapered off in it's movement. "Something bothering you?"

"Hm? Oh. Um, no. I just have other stuff to do today... It's fine. Is Helen around?" She asked as though Solomon had not just told her Helen would be in in a bit.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by Chaosvolt on May 03, 2019, 03:38:36 am »
(( Written with Wilson. ))

Aurelia gave a little hum as she glanced over at Nashio, sitting at the table next to where Taji and Heather were sitting. The question that Nashio finally asked made her perk up, a bit caught off-guard by it. "So why are you heading south anyway? Got family down there?" he asked.

She gave a little nod at that, tail twitching nervously. "I...might. Not sure is the problem. It's been a while since I've been down that far south, not since roughly when this all started. Nowhere else to go really." she answered.

Nashio rose a brow. "How far south?" he asked, Aurelia giving a little nod at that. "Likely not much farther than Massachusetts or, at most, New Hampshire..." As she said that, Tajima perked up a bit, looking over at their table before shaking his head, quietly going back to his own conversation with Heather.

Nashio rocked on his chair, feet on the table as he went back and forth. "What's your..." He squinted a bit, before looking back at her, "...plllan?" He finished, raising a brow. Aurelia smiled a bit at that. "Check the last place in town I knew where they were, and if I don't find any sign of them, go from there. At least will feel better that way knowing I tried." she admitted, not mentioning what trying to find her "family" would entail.

Nashio shrugged, rocking back farther, "Tryin' can't hurt. When are you gonna head out, again?" He asked. "Tomorrow works, unless you'd prefer sooner or later." she answered, before getting up soon enough, the two about ready to tend to other things for now...
Creative Endeavors / Re: Catnips Odd Trip
« Last post by saltmummy626 on May 02, 2019, 06:30:25 am »
Catnip didn't hear the sound of the electric generator belching electric fire as it's innards fried and circuits fused, as the sabotaged starter did it's hellish task. What she heard instead, was George shouting over the roaring driveshaft and howling wind as he explained how to set up the remaining terminals to automatically manage the system after everything was in it's place and squared away. They'd discovered the miraculously intact and operable terminal around the same time L was dismissing the men who helped her get the generator where it needed to be.

"You know," Catnip shouted back, "If this thing is able to maintain itself, we could probably set it up to manage it's own coupling procedure. My friend Dee was really good at that sort of thing. You think we could do it?"

"Oh yes, certainly." George responded over the noise, "just input the command here and hit this key here." He jabbed at the screen with one well kept finger, then down at the enter key. "It's risky though if the dish above isn't up to speed and active. If the shaft tries to couple with a dish that isn't in sync with it, or even stopped entirely, it could damage the structure."

"It would rip the top of the tower off." Catnip said too low to hear. She could see it in her mind, her mechanical acumen taking over and simulating it for her brain to work out. The coupling would try to engage, the entire edifice would begin to rattle as the spokes slipped and stripped themselves against one another, and then the shaft would catch. When it did, it would simply twist the top off the tower and fling it away in so many useless pieces.

"I'm going to check the other terminals, maybe our luck will hold out and we can get this place a little more stable. Stay right there, and don't fiddle with anything." George shouted, putting a little emphasis on that last. Whatever trust there had been was gone, and Catnip didn't miss the way he glanced back at her as he crossed the walkway. How he never let her out of his sight. She watched him carefully, keeping a likewise careful eye on the man, and tucked her hands in her pockets. It wasn't until then that she felt the vibration of her radio receiving a transmission. It was so hard to hear it, the sound was being drowned out by the wind chamber, and so Catnip cranked the volume as high as it would go and held it up to her ear.

"-DESTROYED! ITS ON FIRE! CATNIP PLEASE ANSWER, PLEASE ANSWER!" The radio shrieked. It sounded like L, and her message...

"L?! What happened? What's going on?!" She shouted into the radio. Catnip had gone cold, seeing the ghost of an image floating up into the murky dark of her darkest fears. One of the workers dropped the generator and broke it, or maybe one of them had done it intentionally. Maybe all of them. Or... Or maybe it wasn't that bad, maybe L was just having trouble getting it started or-

"THE GENERATOR IS ON FIRE! CATNIP, IT JUST..." There was a long pause, and Catnip could imagine L suddenly stopping to get ahold of herself. Then, "God Nip, it just exploded..."

"Are you hurt L? What happened?" Catnip asked, going cold now. If the generator was down, then they were sunk.

"No... Er... Yeah, my arms all burnt and I... I can't stop twitching. My body feels all tight and..."

"Alright," Catnip said, trying to sound reassuring. Catnip knew the feeling L was describing. She had electrocuted herself more times than she could remember, but probably not nearly as bad as L had. While L had been speaking, Catnip had happened to glance around to where she'd been working the night before and spotted the empty wind cell. In an instant, she had an idea. A dangerous, stupid idea. "I'm coming up L, George and I are going to set the thing down here to couple automatically, but we've gotta be quick. George just go through explaining to me why this is gonna be risky, but it should work. Getting that dish moving is going to be the hard part I think." She said. Catnip didn't hear what L asked next. The radio was already back in it's cradle on her belt and the empty cell tucked under one arm.

"George, somethings gone wrong up top, we need to... George?" Catnip began, then looked around silently and with a rising uneasiness. She'd only been on the radio for a moment but in that time, George had gone.

Creative Endeavors / Re: Catnips Odd Trip
« Last post by saltmummy626 on April 30, 2019, 01:30:14 am »
"We stick with our original plan and climb." Catnip said, "Well no. You and these guys climb. George and I can stay down here to keep the towers power output stable and prepare it to lock with the dish. We need the dish going at the same speed as the main rotor down here so they can lock together on the move. I need you to take the generator we have up to the top of the tower and hook it into the main breaker box. You might have to do some prying and unplugging and fuse swapping though, but I know you can do it. Just make sure the tower isn't still connected to the facility up there before you connect it all up or your fry yourself, okay?"

"Okay!" L said with a new determination. While she and the three workers gathered up the generator and tools they'd need, Catnip turned to George and they got to talking again. He still didn't believe, but that wasn't important. It was the look of suspicion he gave her that was. He leaned against the rail that ran around the edge of the walkway and watched L and the others go.

"So." He said, "What happens now? You show your true form and attack me now that we are alone?"

Catnip tensed and hissed back, "I could say the same for you. Remember, I fixed the tower and started it going..."

"And blew out the power." George asserted.

"Even if I had done it, it also took out the security wall. People are probably leaving already." Catnip pushed.

"Which was probably the plan." He pushed back. Catnip threw up her hands, quite sure now that she was growing to deeply dislike the man. Catnip had never been treated so much like an untrustworthy villain before.

"Whatever. If that's the plan, then why are you still here? You could probably leave too, but you aren't. So why are you still here then?" She asked. George cocked his head at her. He didn't think Tenny was in on it, but he wasn't really certain Catnip was either. He wanted to believe that it was all some massive mistake they were making and that neither Tenny nor Catnip was a doppleganger. The stress of the last few days was now plain to see, he couldn't hide it and keep calm at the same time. Instead, he simply asked a question.

"What if one of us is the doppleganger?"

"Even if we were, I don't think either of us is in any condition to do anything about it." She said, feeling very tired.

"So I'll ask again," George insisted, "what happens now?"

"Why don't we just... Wait awhile and see?"

L looked out over the vista that was the great American desert with a renewed enthusiasm. The sun was just clearing the horizon in the west and shining it's crisp winter light across the vast pine forests and desert scrubland of Arizona. The climb up the tower was worth it if only for this view, but she had a job at hand and the view served simply to gild a risky endeavor. Closer at hand, she could see the security barrier. Sure enough, the guns were down, but the pylons providing the barrier were still up and going strong. People pushed against it in panicky little groups, trying to find something they could grab onto and jump over or just trying to force their way through. It just made them look more like harried mice than before.

"Excellent!" She shouted, going back to the task at hand. The climb had been tough on them all, and once everything was in it's place, she'd given the workers leave to go and join those down below. They had offered to stay, not really meaning the offer but giving it none the less. Too eager to be off. L told them she'd be fine, that they could stay if they wanted, and readied her tools.

The first panel had been simple enough, with the lock cut and the switches revealed, she could start chewing some wires, metaphorically speaking. First, she pulled the fuses one by one, taking each out in turn and examining them like Catnip had showed her. Each one had a little filament inside, and if the glass or plastic was burnt or damaged, it could be thrown away and replaced. She wasn't going to do that though. Instead the fuses, good and bad, were yanked out and dropped into a bag which disconnected uneeded systems from the facility. Then the panel was closed up and L moved onto the next until she came to the main switch. Just a single small breaker and a series of lights. L stared at it for what seemed like minutes, before checking the rest of the box over. The one breakers importance had hit her hard for a moment. The whole thing hinged on this switch. Above one of the lights was a faded sticker that read "main power" and that one was black, but the other two were not. Two more LED bulbs, red and green. Currently, the red one was on. This one's label, a more durable raised metal sticker, read "do not activate if light is red! Personnel failing to follow this instruction will be marked for immediate termination and prosecution!!" L knew what to do. The dish above, it's pinkish metal glinting pleasingly in the morning sun and casting it's strange shadow over Pricetown, had to start spinning. All L had to do was unhook this box from the facility, a task she accomplished with a pair of bolt cutters and a wire stripper, and hook the generator up. When the light turned green, meaning the dish had reached synchronicity with the drive shaft below, all she had to do was flip the breaker and engage the link. Easy.

She gave one more appreciative look out over the desert before turning the generator on. There was a moment where her reverie at the sight turned to confusion at the smell and sound that came out of the generator as it turned over, in the moment before the it suddenly exploded.
Rec Room / Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Last post by RedVulnus on April 24, 2019, 01:41:02 am »
Foster had woken up early in the morning and made himself coffee in the mess halls kitchen. Even this early in the morning he had company in the kitchen as Alice prepared some eggs and hashbrowns for the morning meal they’d serve. Looking over at her unexpected guest she gave him a smile and said “Howdy. Glad to see y’all are sticking around even if just for a day.”

Foster nodded to her as he waited for the coffee to brew. He’d set his percolator, one of the few things he’d kept with him that wasn’t an absolute necessity, on a burner and was letting it work while he tried to wake up without a dose of caffeine. As such his response was a somewhat slurred “Morning. Glad to be here.”

Alice pretended she didn’t notice the absolute monotone in Foster’s voice as she peeked through the window between the kitchen and the mess hall. A few mislings were starting to file in and wait for the meal to be served. “You really need that morning coffee don’t you?”

Foster nodded in response, adjusting his glasses to ensure they were properly covering his eyes, and said “Coffee is just about the only vice I have. Work got me hooked on the stuff with numerous late nights. Nowadays I just feel..sluggish before my morning cup or two.”

Pouring his coffee into a thermos Foster set the percolator to the side. Taking a drink from his thermos Foster started for the door. Soon he found himself walking through Walkerville with purpose.

Thanks to some direction Foster made his way to the man in charge of getting things built around here. “A pleasure to meet you sir. I’ve been told you’re the one to talk to about getting myself a place to properly live.”

The misling shrugged as the pair walked and inspected the remaining build sites. “I ‘spose I am. I can getcha a place built but it isn’t free. You’ll have to sign me an IOU though on account of there not being a system of currency in place.”

Foster described what he was looking for and the pair came to an agreement. There would be enough space for him to assemble a lab, both TJ and himself could have rooms, and with his specifications he would be able to dig himself a basement in time. With the specifications out of the way he signed the IOU.

TJ meanwhile woke up when the morning crowd started getting a bit rowdy. They were all discussing their plans for the day from what he could hear. Granted it was mostly the construction crews shouting to each other to about what jobs they had for the day.

Nothing that really interested TJ if he were honest so he decided to go outside for a while. Soon he found himself making his way to the forge having grown curious about the noise coming from the place. Not particularly wanting to draw attention to himself or wanting to interrupt whoever was at work TJ decided to watch from a distance instead of bothering them.

Charles had met with Sev3n during the night, slept at the radio station for a handful of hours, and was now nearly home again. The backpack he was carrying with him contained a computer and a small cylindrical drive that contained what he’d traveled all that way for. Setting it down near the forge at the Hall Charles retrieved everything else he would need.

He had already prepared the parts, now it was down to assembly. The armor itself all slotted into place perfectly. He had after all been trained to make it so. Connecting the electronics and hydraulics of the chest piece and arms was somewhat more difficult. Then attaching the batteries in the proper slot and integrating a port for the drive took some time.

Then came the time to attach the mechanical arm to the back. It resembled some older bits of machinery, a basic system that allowed it to rotate at three different joints and a ‘hand’ that consisted of three ‘fingers’. By the time that was installed the others were stirring in the barracks.

Sliding the drive into place and twisting it to lock it in Charles waited. A minute later and the armor lit up and the arm attached to the back jerked upright. Smiling Charles tapped the earpiece he was wearing and said “Hello Maddy, I’m Charles.”

The arm turned to face him, the optic built into it focusing on his face. Giving a friendly wave Charles waited for her to say something. That came after a couple minutes processing when she imitated the wave and said “Hello Charles. I am Maddy.”

Walking over Charles recalled Seven telling him it would take some time for Maddy to fully ‘form’. Kind of like an accelerated process of a child developing a personality. Picking up the helmet Charles slid it on and watched as Maddy played with the heads up display. “Having fun are we? Well so long as you learn how to actually run it I don’t care.”

Maddy gave him an exaggerated sigh as he walked over to his work table and retrieved an old knife. As he began practicing throwing the two talked about various minor things. As the others started to emerge Maddy turned her eye to observe them as Charles explained who they were.
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