Author Topic: A History of Time to Come  (Read 154 times)

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saltmummy626

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Kathrine nodded somberly, she did. The maid knew that it would be needed. Nothing had made Mica and Dee's squishy smile like spice apple pie. There would be baking aplenty as soon as Mona was ready to talk.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2020, 09:59:42 am by Mrnocamera »
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Chaosvolt

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2020, 09:09:17 pm »
Across the river from Walkerville, the array of fortifications and buildings just south of the old road practically resembled a village in and of itself. Today however, things were more quiet and somber, as most of the members of the founding chapter of Flame of Arcana had been in New Paris for the day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2020, 01:00:08 am »
   Before the fall of Abbadon, and the construction of the Brand. A suit of armor stood in the center. He gripped a claymore made up of an exotic white metal, with runes along the blade.
   “...There isn’t any other way?” The Chosen asked,
   A voice spoke up from within himself:
We have failed in our mission. The means to truly sunder the parasite in one fell swoop...but we have the means to bind it. Wound it. Then...look to the horizon. Void awaits...and that which has been smote by the scarring flames can fall prey to it.
   The Chosen paused for a moment, glancing at the Ritual Blade in his hand. “I… See. There was a reason that you had me restore my old blade…”
   He paused once more, “My soul for binding that parasite?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

   The Brand.

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

        An Unaging Gunslinger.

   The Iron Marshal.

   And The Hunter of Hunters.

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

        Then, he lit the fifth, a peculiar blue flame taking to the wick. "And to those who still wander, but are not yet lost..."
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RedVulnus

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2020, 01:26:43 am »
TJ adjusted the bandages wrapped around his body as he leaned against the tree. Of course he had stopped caring if people knew he was a skeleton at this point and wore them more as a formality. It was expected that he hide his ‘grisly’ appearance after all. Of course he could just sit at home and wait for the next assignment of his but Alice had asked him to meet someone on the road to Walkerville.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two of the couriers grabbed the man from behind and started to haul him into another room. Opening the package Sokolov nodded and motioned another over. “Take to Alice. And no water recruit, this is your first walk.” he said before moving to go deal with the cultist straggler.

saltmummy626

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2020, 04:40:50 am »
The whistle over the chapel let loose it's mournful howl, signalling the coming of dinner and the start of the evening break. Not that there was anything keeping the people working in the chapel of Agmen from taking a break whenever they wanted. It was more about keeping the faithful from over working themselves. Long ago, when the workshops had been first completed and Catnip's train had been moved into the chapels berth, the mechanic found that Agmen's adherents would easily lose track of time and work themselves half to death in the pursuit of creation and invention, and so she had installed the whistle to remind them not to do so. Hammers and wrenches would be set aside, aprons and goggles hung up, and welders switched off as Agmen's followers prepared to cool off and unwind for an hour. All except one. In a quiet corner of the chapel, a lone Misling taps away at rivets in a piece of metal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Rosey?" Catnip said finally, "Can I ask you a favor?"
I'm really just a sexy skeleton in a suit.
Fingering techniques are very important
Quote from: Six
Using guns while sober? Sounds like you're a coward.
Yes, little hats for every noodle.
Everyone is forks it seems.
"Everything is fucked forever, and ever, and ever." -Forrest 2016

RedVulnus

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2020, 01:11:13 am »
As Drifter sat down in the booth at the bar TJ finished ordering their food and drinks.The pub hadn’t changed since he’d left a half year ago and neither had the clientele he noticed as he scanned the room. He recognized a few faces, namely the troublemakers that always frequented anywhere that sold or traded alcohol, but no one that he thought would cause him problems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking back outside TJ fell into step beside him. As they made their way towards the gate TJ said “Why do I have a feeling we’re not going to New Paris?” and Drifter sighed. Then he began to explain things.

saltmummy626

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2020, 07:49:03 am »
The Casino was empty today, out of respect for the recently deceased and the young lady he'd left behind. A lot of establishments were closed in fact, even those operated by people migrated to the area after the events that had made the man a hero to the New Paris refugee center, now called the New Paris administrative building. A town had sprung up around that center after the influx of people coming to New England and the establishment of the Big Smoke Caravan Company. In fact, life had become relatively pre-cataclysmic in New Paris. So what if the rare undead lurched its way into town and the world outside had become something not nearly but almost entirely fantastical? Life was stable, and people could still mourn the dead in peace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The man stood quietly behind L, put away the old phone he'd been playing with and reached into a paper bag on the card table next to him and fished out a long object wrapped in brown paper. "Andre, Salami and three cheese on white with mustard." Mohammad mumbled while rummaging, then offered it with a faint, and some might think fatherly, smile.
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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2020, 07:27:53 am »
The world was falling apart. Slowly collapsing in on itself and sinking into a deep dark void into which no light could escape. That was how it felt to Mona Koenig at least. She felt as though the ground was opening up under her feet at every step and in each of those moments, she could feel herself being pulled down. Down and down into an uncertain stygian ocean of black tears. Dean and Mica Koenig's only daughter had spent the last five days crying endlessly in the darkness of the house her parents had spent their final years in, and Dean had spent his remaining ten after Mica's passing. The shades of course had been drawn. No light allowed in this place. No light shed into this tomb of a house that had never felt so empty to the young woman before. Sometimes she walked from room to room disconsolately weeping to nothing and no one, speaking to ghosts who weren't there. She hardly ate. It didn't seem right to her. Looking at all the things in the cupboards that her father had enjoyed. It seemed wrong, even though he was gone, to want to eat any of it. She didn't sleep. Not until the specter of unconsciousness came over her like a wave and washed away everything in a sleep plagued by dreams in which she wandered an empty world in search of something she was afraid she'd never find without the help of her father.

Purpose. The lack of purpose crushed her. Crushed her like a great stone slowly working it's way down onto her to squeeze the life from her. On the sixth day, Mona had no more tears to cry. They'd left her suddenly and inexplicably with the only evidence of their existence being the angry red furrows they'd carved into her cheeks like rivers carving canyons, and the sore irritated scales of her face. She'd touched her face once and winced, but didn't feel the furrows she'd expected. Her upper eyes finally opened. They could not weep, and so when Mona was out of sorts she'd simply shut them to keep them from becoming irritated. With them open, she could see better. The house was dark and empty and cold, but by the seventh day she could start to see it again. She could begin to eat again, but she still felt guilty about eating her father's food. On the eighth, Mona realized she hadn't fed the chickens in a week.

"Oh shoot... She mumbled, feeling more guilt coming on. By now, the chickens would have begun to starve or escape. Where would that leave Mona then? As beshitted as she felt, she still had some small responsibilities. Responsibilities she could latch onto, a small island of purpose in a roiling sea of uncertainty. She tried to turn it into a more robust purpose, but couldn't. The chickens had been kept by and for her mother, but Mica had passed when she was only ten years old. What was the purpose of the chickens if Mica wasn't around to enjoy them? Mona had been headed for the back door when these thoughts occured to her and she had reeled, slamming her back to the wall and sliding hopelessly to the floor as the world once again opened up beneath her, and the tears came flooding back.


A little while later, the back door creaked open. The sound was an ungodly level of loud in the late afternoon air, and many attempts had been made to fix it. Even Catnip though had been unable to solve the age old problem of an overly creaky hinge, so it had stayed as was. The grass was getting long, but not so long that the morning see would soak Mona's legs and shoes when leaving the house in the morning and fortunately the chickens would have had plenty to eat. The light of evening was still bright enough to smart her eyes, and so Mona had squinted at the ground when slipping out. As a result, she didn't see the young rodent featured lady leaning on the high fence post with an empty grain bag until she'd called out to her.

"There you are ma'am. Ms. Arti- we, Ms. Walker was beginning to worry about you."

Mona looked up sharply, surprised and embarrassed at realizing how she must look. The lady winced to see the way Mona's face had been punished by her grief, and the small but noticable impact not eating for a week had done to Mona's figure.

"What... What are you doing here Rosia?" Mona asked after a long time wrestling with her vocal chords. Her voice was muffled and strained. Struggling to hold back the water works in front of others. Rosia was one of Catnips chosen, an acquaintance but not quite a friend. Still, they'd been on friendly terms.

"Ms. Walker asked me to come and help you. I uh, I would have done it without being asked of course but um... I've been we, I mean to say, I... I fed your chickens..." Rosia explained with the nerves if someone who didn't often interact with others. She made a small gesture towards the pen where the Koenig flock pecked at the ground and scratched, greedily snatching up grains to fill their craws with. She stared for a long time at the birds, her mind swirling with the thoughts of the fatherless life ahead of her, and didn't see Rosia come up and gently take her hand.

"Um... Do you want to talk about it?" She asked. Mona's chest hitched a little and her own bucket began to slip out of her grasp.

"No..." She husked, but then after another long silence in the cool evening air and in a much smaller voice she added, "yeah..."
I'm really just a sexy skeleton in a suit.
Fingering techniques are very important
Quote from: Six
Using guns while sober? Sounds like you're a coward.
Yes, little hats for every noodle.
Everyone is forks it seems.
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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2020, 11:59:21 pm »
In days past, during the battle for Maine, and for the fate of a realm...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

"Hector? HECTOR!"

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

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

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

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2020, 07:51:35 pm »
The walk back to his bike took a while. So Drifter retrieved one of his pistols and handed it to TJ “You do know how to use it right? Alice actually did drills with you?”

TJ took the gun and checked the chamber as they walked, followed by checking the magazine. Once he had finished making sure the weapon was in operational condition he slid it into a holster he’d sewn into his jacket. “Yes, and yes. I heard shouting, what were you two arguing about?”

Drifter glanced at TJ, saw the worried look on his face, and decided it was better that he not get between his overprotective adoptive sister and his boyfriend. “Nothing you need to know about. Just..look we’re gonna be in New Paris anyway but I gotta talk to a friend of mine there. Get something sorted.”

TJ nodded as he grabbed his own bike and they started away. Their helmets had a built in two way so they could hear each other. If he had to hazard a guess TJ figured Drifter forgot to switch his off as he said “Hey, I think we might have a bit of a code five. What do you mean..fine, I’ll drop it off at your room.”

A couple hours later and TJ followed Drifter down the streets of New Paris.They’d dropped off the bag at an old house that TJ was pretty sure hadn’t been lived in for at least a week. But now they were making their way to the market. “This place usually has a bit of everything, especially stuff you won’t find in Walkerville.” Drifter said as they walked.

TJ was about to ask just what the place had when they entered the merchant’s plaza. Everything wasn’t an understatement. Everything from weapons and armor to toys and parts was being sold by the various merchants. Drifter was about to tell TJ something when he noticed him walking around staring at everything. “Or just go walk around the bazaar, that works too. Totally can’t just direct you to the spot where stuff you’d be interested in is.” Drifter said to himself as he started to follow.

Meanwhile Heinrich adjusted the scope on the anti-material rifle he always kept with him. He’d noticed that it was firing a bit to the left of center while he’d been looking for a kidnapped child. Now she followed along with the wariness of someone past her years. His mind wandered for a moment to his time as a fifteen year old riding an old dirtbike and sneaking drinks from his parent’s liquor cabinet. Instead she checked the magazine of her pistol for the third time since they’d started their slow trek back towards New Paris.

Several hours later and Heinrich walked into the agreed meeting place. He felt the child stop and tug his arm as the men who’d hired him arrived. As he read her lips while she spoke silently Heinrich quietly pressed a button on his gauntlet. One of the men said something he didn’t really hear as he looked at her father. A deep shaky breath later and Heinrich managed to hear the man annoyedly say that he had the money for finding her.

Heinrich gave a signal to the woman that he’d brought with him for this job. Mila stepped into view with her AK held as it always was in her hands, sideways. The men all put their hands up as she raised an eyebrow at Heinrich, wondering why he’d given her the signal to step out of her concealed hideaway. His response was to grab the man who’d stood closest to him, the one who hired him, by the throat and lifting him off the ground. “Why did you hire me to find her?”

“Boss said she was special. That’s all I know swears it!” The man croaked. Heinrich looked over at the girl and she nodded to him. As he crushed the man’s windpipe Mila shot the other two in the throat. As he let the body fall to the ground he could already hear the police of New Paris rushing towards them. Pulling the man’s pistol from his coat Heinrich tossed it to the ground next to his body as Mila did the same with the other two. Both wore gloves that kept their fingerprints from being left behind.

Pressing the button on his gauntlet again Heinrich put his hands up as Mila let the AKS-74U drop on it’s sling. “HANDS UP!” the first of the cops shouted as they rounded the corner with their weapons up. Sighing the pair of cops lowered their guns as the one in charge asked “Heinrich..what happened?”

The men drew on him, he’d broken the one’s neck and Mila shot the other two before they could fire. The two cops gave each other a look before shrugging. They had enough to worry about. So with that Heinrich, Mila, and the girl started for Heinrich’s old home.

Pushing the door open Heinrich grabbed the bag waiting for him and set an envelope on the counter next to the door. From there the trio made their way to the Bunker. Heinrich’s base of operations for his band of mercenaries. He had business to take care of, including the induction of a new member.

Meanwhile back in Walkerville B-23 felt a subroutine activate. One that he’d shut down years ago since it had never had anything to work with anyway. He could feel his data and even his mind itself being pulled somewhere else, into another system.  Then for the first time in four years he managed to open his eyes.

He could feel the restraints holding him down too as he saw the man sitting beside him. He stood upon noticing B-23’s eyes open and said “Shit! HOLY FUCKING SHIT!”

Smiling the man started typing into a console as he said “I never thought it’d successfully pull your mind along with the data brother but here we are. Oh..oh right. You don’t remember me, but that’s okay.  You really weren’t supposed to, me and you were the first successful prototypes. B units that actually had functioning minds.”

Stepping away from the console he turned to look B-23 in the eyes “The machine is still reconstructing your body, making sure the right nerves are connected to each other around that metal skeleton of yours. That’s what the restraints are for, if you move it could connect the wrong ones to each other and then solidify the muscle, fat, and skin over everything. Then I’d have to start from scratch and that..that would hurt a lot for you. Oh...your voice box is finished, I’ll go ahead and activate that so you don’t have to sit there quietly.”

B-23 could feel it come ‘alive’ as he said “Who the absolute fuck are you and where are we?”

Aleksander smiled as he said “B-28, but you knew me as Aleks in another life. Before we were taken off the streets and used as guinea pigs.Before I uploaded the entirety of the B-series project into my mind so I could work on this little reunion. Do you..remember your name?”

23 shook his head as he said “No. They wiped that part of my memory in order to make me into a killing machine. Of course I broke out with some help, killed a few people, and found...my daughter. I..remember her. I have to get back. She's trying to reactivate my old body.”

Aleksander shook his head “That’s just a robot now, it’ll..fuck! Where were you?”

23 told him he’d been in Walkerville in a basement for the past four years while she tried to rebuild him. Aleksander grabbed a pistol from the table and loaded it as he said “Right, we’re in my mobile lab so I can get us started in that direction. But if she turns your old body on it’ll probably start hunting someone. Probably the last person to piss you off since the programming will rationalize that as being a set target from the control system, aggression towards the target was how they tried to get us to kill without thinking.”

23 asked “And how long am I gonna be stuck on this table?”

Aleksander looked at him “Another hour, maybe two. Oh, your name was Isaac Ward but the old gang, god rest their souls, called you Mister Red. Now I’ll get us started toward Walkerville, hopefully we get there before your girl starts up that killer robot.”

saltmummy626

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2020, 11:11:37 pm »
Branches rose sharply and blinked at the early morning light creeping in through the tiny fogged glass window overlooking the small table opposite her sleeping mat. Sleep had never come easy and when she did sleep, it came in short spates of two or three hours from which she woke feeling not much different except for a strange heaviness in her eye and stiffness in her limbs. Both feelings were quickly and easily adjusted via liberal application of movement. She clambered to her feet as she always had and checked her appearance in the mirror, inspecting for cracks or fissures in the otherwise lifelike surface of her body. There was still shrapnel in there somewhere that no one had yet been able to find through the various methods attempted on her strange flesh, and the inclusions occasionally found their way to the surface and cracked through her skin to be released. There was a crack, a sizable one along the line of her neck the width of a pencil. Looking around with the help of a magnet turned up a fragment of metal the size of a bean mixed into her blankets. She judged it carefully before putting it in the dish next to the door and getting on with the process of mixing dried clay with water to seal up the damage.

"May I come in?" Said a voice from outside. Branches had seen them coming through her automatons standing watch over her territory by the lake. The man, more a boy really, waited patiently outside until Branches finished her maintenance and donned one of the two "uniforms" of her trades. This one was an old spruce and nettle cloak and simple wide brimmed hat of the same material. It suited Branches about as well as the other, her business suit. "Um, miss one-eyed witch?"

"No, stay outside a moment." Branches instructed. She frowned and dug around in her cabinet, knowing the voice and why it was here. Tommy Fletcher was one of Catnip's chosen along with Patricia Baines, Rosia Ortiz, Matthew Kramer, and Missy Renoit. Tommy would be here for his usual, a little something between himself and Patricia. Patricia was someone that Branches good friend Roxanne would have called "a catty bitch" while Tommy was what another friend in knights armor would have referred to as a "mirror gazer." The only thing the two liked more than themselves was each other, and they did well to hide it from just about everyone. Everyone except Branches. "The usual then?" Branches asked from within, already spooning out a dose of goat weed and placebo into a tiny jar.

"Er, no, actually..." He mumbled. That was interesting and new. Branches had gone to both Helen and Roxanne to get the special herb to put that extra bit of ram in Fletcher's rod and had gone to get it from Helen ever since because Roxanne had a habit of making disgusting jokes and lewd innuendo. Helen understood though that the goat weed wasn't for Branches.

"Oh?" Branches said curiously, emerging from her hut in the full foliage getup she reserved for witch seeking clients. Her amethyst eye, the only part of her body visible under all the spruce and nettle, did nothing to show her interest. "Settled your little problem downstairs then have you and come to settle up? Hm?" She went on. The last twenty years had been incredibly kind to Branches, besides the constant need to repair since the Battle of Puller's Reach. She'd started a pair of businesses, one of which would nettle her creator a little, and she'd picked up certain habits and behaviors, several of which would displease Illiana deeply. Roxanne's interest in the affairs of others, and the more malign prankishness of the ghost being chief among them. In short though Branches had grown up, in so far as a primordial homunculus can grow up.

"I-I need something to give me an edge on the other chosen..." Tommy asked reluctantly. Branches half grinned, half sneered, under her nettle cloak. Things weren't looking good for the fragile ego'd narcissist if he was looking for hoodoo remedies and foul tasting tisanes for a solution to whatever the problem was. Branches smirked at him under her cloak and gave the request a cursory thought before scoffing at his need. "What? What's wrong with that? I should have the edge on the others, I deserve it!"

"And you don't have it already? There's nothing I can do for you there, I don't have anything that would help you without cheating. Besides which, I wasn't even aware you could cheat at being whatever it is Catnip has chosen you lot for. I know though that if she knew you were trying to get all clever on it, she wouldn't like it. Why don't you just keep on doing things the way you are doing them and see how it turns out. Go on and live your life according to the teachings of the chapel and making all the good things it produces for New Paris?" Branches suggested.

"I am the best!" He affirmed, more to himself than to Branches, "I shouldn't have to prove it, but now that I must do just that, then I need to go all out!'

"You've already disproved it." Branches said not a little scornfully. If his workmanship was all he was being judged on, then Tommy would be little more than any other laboring under Catnip's strange god of creation. He wasn't though. Catnip had picked them out on Agmen's word, but Catnip would judge them all based on their own qualities. Their own character. It would displease Agmen, but Catnip had not often knelt to the whims of a god she both worshipped and held in such low regard. The chosen were selected, but Catnip would separate the wheat from the chaff herself. The man's shoulders sunk at Branches proclamation, then tensed again.

"How would you know? You aren't even an adherent!" He growled, becoming strident at the last.

"Because your work is good, but you are greedy and self important. You are overconfident and narcissistic. Agmen may have chosen you, but Catnip gets the final word. I have nothing for you unless you want something for that usual little problem of yours." Branches explained, speaking stridently herself. She had turned back to return to her morning rituals when the man's shadow fell over her. Hector had taught her to expect something like this if Lilith or her brood came after her, if bandits ever tried to get the drop on her, or when a desperate client couldn't take no for an answer to some idiotic question. Roxanne had taught her the answer to such. Tommy's hands reached for her neck, an absurd reaction to such a small slight, and Branches responded by grabbing ahold of the mans left hand with both of hers and hauled on it with the tiniest fraction of her strength. Branches had carried the burning wreckage of the siege tower away from the field of battle on her own, could and had carried greater weights even, and Tommy didn't even have a chance when she leveraged the strength of the earth against him. The man flew screaming into the trees beyond the stone fence that lined Branches clearing, crashing through like a launched stone to wind up a broken heap in the forest. He would likely make his way back to the chapel or New Paris and give a heavily edited report of the events to his betters. Branches would likely hear about it from Catnip, and Branches would set the record straight when she went to tea with the mechanic.

"Don't come back!" She shouted after the man missile before settling back to her morning chores.


"I mean, I can't say I know how it feels." Rosia said nervously, "I mean my parents are... um... Nevermind..." She ran a finger over another of the multitude of jars sitting on the table and read the labels for what felt like the thousandth time. D's strawberry, D's waffle flower, D's fish. Things that Mona and Mica either would not or could not touch. Neither the girl or her late mother would dare to so much as eek a single whisper of the sour smelling canned fishes scent from the jars, nor would Mona touch her father's strawberry jelly without permission. As for the waffle mix, Mona had no clue how to use it. Rosia had suggested she ask Kathrine, but the very idea of smelling or tasting them now that Dee was gone brought fresh dry sobs from the young lady opposite her. Now she was sitting there across from Rosia, her glasses set aside for the time being, with only a pile of jars and an awkward silence between them. Without warning, Rosia picked up a jar and twisted the ring off of it.

"What are you doing!?" Mona cried with a shrieky little voice filled with surprise and anguish. What Rosia was doing was obvious of course, she was trying to pry the fiddly metal cap off the top of a jar of strawberry jam with the back of a spoon.

"Why did we get them all out if we aren't going to eat them?" Rosia asked, keenly aware of the trespass she was commiting and feeling hot about the face for it. The jar opened with an audible pop, and the room filled with the smell of it almost immediately. The beautiful aroma of strawberries and sugar long lain dormant and finally free from it's glass prison. Not just the kitchen, the whole house. The fragrance of the preserves ran to riot throughout Mona's empty home, filling every corner with the sweet smell. Mona looked about to start crying again, but Rosia wouldn't let her. She foisted the jar and a spoon on her before beginning work on another. For Mona, the day had been awful, as awful as any in the days immediately after the funeral, but all the same she found herself looking into the jar at the stuff so jealously guarded with a growing hunger. When she thought about it, her father hadn't actually been all that stingy with the stuff, he'd just had a love of it and... And what? Dean had never actually said that Mona couldn't have any. It had been her mother. Her sometimes infantile ignorant mother. Mica had meant well, but at the same time...

Mona didn't notice Rosia digging through her kitchen in search of bread. The Misling had momentarily given up on the new jar to search for missing ingredients. When she finally turned back victoriously holding aloft a loaf of Kathrine bread and a truly ancient jar of still edible peanut butter, Mona was already digging into the second jar, crying gently as she did so.

"So uh..." Rosia said, trailing into a mumble, "You uh... Wanna take these jars into the living room to watch 'The Princess Bride' or something?" Mona nodded furiously, spooning more sugared fruit into her mouth.
I'm really just a sexy skeleton in a suit.
Fingering techniques are very important
Quote from: Six
Using guns while sober? Sounds like you're a coward.
Yes, little hats for every noodle.
Everyone is forks it seems.
"Everything is fucked forever, and ever, and ever." -Forrest 2016

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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2020, 03:01:25 pm »
The convoy of supply vehicles came to a slow halt in front of the trio of armed humvees that were blocking the road. The misling in charge grumbled as a man wearing a black uniform with a wolf skull emblem on the right shoulder walked from the roadblock with a team of four following him. As he approached the window the Team Leader said “Hello citizen. We’re going to search these vehicles for a piece of property that was lost by our organization. Compliance is compulsory.”

As he said that last sentence the machine gunner of the center humvee racked the browning fifty caliber and eyed the convoy. Grabbing his radio the head of the convoy ordered the others to let them search through the salvage and take what they wanted. No point in anyone dying.

The retrieval team searched the convoy for the parts that had been stolen from them. When they came up empty handed the Team Lead waved the humvees out of the way. “Move along citizen.”

Once the convoy was out of sight the TL grabbed his radio “Retrieval Team Alpha to Papa Bear, negative on convoy.” The man on the other end barked a few orders and reminded the TL what was at stake here “Understood sir. And if the unit is in use?” Another set of garbled transmissions “Understood.”

Setting the radio back in the humvee and motioned his second over. “If someone’s installed the unit execute them and retrieve the parts that were stolen. Continue halting the convoys to see if the thief is with them, the tracker lost him in this area. Keep the locals complacent, don’t piss them off too much.”

A large truck rolled up and began collecting the men that wouldn’t fit in the trio of humvees. As the last man entered he shoved a civilian out of the truck towards the TL. Grabbing him the TL positioned him beside the road. “I’m just doing my job, I hope you know that. I’d have let you go if the boss hadn’t given the order.”

The man, his head still covered by the burlap bag, shook his head as he said “You always were a good dog Gambler.”

Gambler pulled his pistol as he said “Strength through order, order through obedience. We brought order to that hell hole in New Vermont. All your freedom fighters ever did was cause a lot more suffering. Or did we forget which side planted that IED in New Port.”

The gunshot echoed over the terrain as Gambler tossed an ace of spades onto the body and a piece of paper. ‘Help the thief, die like his friend’ with a drawing of a man in an altyn helmet. As he mounted the humvee his second asked how it felt to kill another of his former brothers. “Same as the last. I don’t feel shit. Just following my orders, waiting for that helicopter ride back home.”

Closing his eyes Gambler drifted off to sleep. His mind wandered through the decades of his life for a time. The wars he’d been involved in, the powers he’d helped install and take down. Then the amulet he wore faintly glowed as his mind settled on his old home and he began to dream.

Elsewhere a pair of men watched Walkerville hidden in the trees. The cloaks they wore made them invisible to the human eye, their armor eliminated the noise they made, and their radios kept their words strictly between the pair. The time ticked by as they drank water and nutrient paste through their armor’s feeding systems.

Cicada sighed to himself as he watched the place bustle with activity. He remembered his time as a mechanic himself, back before he’d moved to New Vermont for it’s promise of a peaceful life. Now he worked as a tracker, hunting men for the promise of supplies or money. He wished his son hadn’t followed him into the business, but at least they were together in it. And they’d tracked the thief here, now to wait for him to show himself.

Meanwhile The mobile home turned mobile lab was still trundling along as Red joined Aleksander in the cab. It had been an hour and twenty minutes to reconstruct his body and now he sat in his new clothes staring at his face in the mirror. “Goddamn, never thought I’d see it again.”

Aleksander looked at Red from the corner of his eye. After a moment he shrugged “Glad you like my work. Had a couple photos to work with.”

Red watched the road as they headed for Walkerville. Only a couple more hours and they’d be there, he’d get to see his daughter again. “I noticed the armory in this thing.” He said.

Aleksander looked at Red from the corner of his eye. Shifting his attention back to the road he said “Yeah, gotta keep it all with me just in case. Rifles, shotguns, grenades, RPGs, never know what you’ll need. Now get some rest, I’ll wake you up when we get close.””



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Re: A History of Time to Come
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2020, 04:53:32 am »
Mona jolted awake suddenly and with the sensation of a sugary film coating the inside of her mouth and the smell of strawberry jam filling the house to the point where it made her feel instantly nauseous. When her feet swung out over the floor, they encountered something hard and hollow and she realized they were jars. A pile of empty jars. The sound they made reminded her of all of the night before and she felt instant intense embarrassment. Even more when she remembered the half worried, half amazed look Rosia had given her near the end of the night before she finally passed into a sleep that was half sugar coma. Mona vaguely remembered crying herself to sleep with the taste of strawberries on her lips, and even more vaguely the feeling of a blanket being thrown over her.

"Oh my god..." She moaned feeling as though she could just die from the humiliation at what Rosia must think of her. She closed her eyes and lay back, not wanting to see the shades of red her scales would be shifting at that moment. It would be a welcome change from the blues and purples she'd been exhibiting in the days prior, but Mona still didn't want to see it. After a while, when she knew the color would be fading back to it's usual sandy tan, she opened her eyes again and scanned the coffee table for her glasses. Then, slowly, she began the laborious task of cleaning up.

Jars on rack, lid rings stacked to dry, Mona slid back into her usual place at the small dinner table she'd been sitting at for the last twenty years of her life. At first with mother and father, then just father, and now all alone. She felt so alone, but Rosia had showed her she wasn't. Not really. Catnip was still there, along with aunt Kathrine and the others. Not too far away, a few minutes walk at most. Mona couldn't keep being alone, her mind would eat itself with grief if she did. Rosia had taken her on the second step to recovery, it was up to her to do the rest.


Kathrine opened the front door as though she’d been expecting Mona, and she probably had been. The smell of apple pie and apple fritters, already seeping from the house in a spicy miasma, exploded from the door and nearly knocked Mona over with the nostalgia that swept over her with it. It was late summer now, but she smell brought thoughts of late fall and winter to come. Of warm buttered cider and roasting pumpkin seeds.

“Mona!” Kathrine cried in faux surprise that Mona secretly appreciated, “We’ve been expecting you! Come in silly!” She slipped around behind Mona and ushered her into the den of apple spice and the faint aroma of oil and hard work that would never really leave the home Kathrine and Catnip.

She was shown a chair, the big comfortable one saved for special dignitaries which Catnip sometimes met with here in her living room, and Kathrine vanished into the kitchen. While she was gone, as if on cue, Catnip appeared carefully taking each step in turn carefully but purposefully.

“Hello Mona.” Catnip said, “Finally decided to come out and see us hm? Has Rosie been around to see you yet?”

“Yes Auntie Catnip.” Mona said automatically, “She fed my chickens.”

Catnip looked like she wanted to stroke her chin or look musing, but she didn’t do either. Instead, she slid comfortably into her own chair across from the one Mona had been assigned and took a dowel from a jar bar the arm of her chair.

“These aren’t as good as the ones they had in Pricetown.” Catnip commented, “With the path through Texas open we can get the good stuff, if only the cost wasn’t so high.” She wrinkled her nose at the word “cost” and Mona knew why. Her own father had been fine with being paid in New Paris bills, and so did Mica and Mona by extension, but Mona’s Aunt had been firmly against currency of almost any form. Service rendered for service given, and all that. “So, anyway, I’m not going to ask why you came for a visit since it’s only been a week and a few days, I’m just happy you’ve come to visit. Period.”

Kathrine emerged then with a large tray adorned in all the things Mona expected. Fritters, cider, pie, sweets. “We’ve um, been expecting you…” Kathrine explained a little sheepishly while she pushed a small plate into Mona’s hands and placed upon it a slice of pie.

“I um…” Mona began. It was hard to say the words and she knew the color in her scales would just be beginning to shift, but finally she finished, “Thank you.”

Catnip chatted about current events, covering everything that had been going on since the funeral but being very careful not to actually touch on it. Kathrine brought more snacks, all the things Mona liked. After listening for a long time and easing into the company of her aunt Catnip, as Catnip had planned, Mona broached a subject she very much wanted to know about.

“Um, Auntie Nip? What do I do now?” She asked.

“You eat your pie is what you do.” Catnip said cheerily, “Silly head.”

“No. I mean, yes, but… No.” Mona went on hesitantly, “I mean, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now. I’m… All alone now.”

Kathrine looked worried, but Catnip smirked as though it were the silliest question she’d ever heard. “You aren’t alone. You have us, and you’ll always have someone.” It wasn’t quite the answer she wanted or needed, but to Catnip it was true and was all she needed. The look Kathrine shot her told her that she had made a mistake, and Mona’s reaction a few moments later only added to that.

“No! I mean, yes! But but… What am I going to DO!?” She cried, feeling the warmth of tears coming on again. “What am I going to do with myself Auntie Catnip? I don’t know what I’m doing! I’m… I’m… I’m not ready…” Kathrine hugged her and gazed pleadingly at Catnip. She couldn't stand to see Mona in such a state and neither could Catnip. "I can't go to the church, I already tried that before and I just couldn't. I can't do what daddy did because I'm not any good at it. I don't know anything about robots or making things or farming or… or… what am I going to do!?"

Catnip stayed quiet, thinking hard about it. She'd never had this problem before herself, and Mica had been too simple to have it. When she tried to think about it from Mona's perspective, it almost made her want to cry herself. Instead she considered a few other options while Kathrine quieted their niece. Mona had tried the chapel a few years after Mica had passed, but she had no passion for the work of her hands. Likewise, she had no fighting aptitude and no talent for the sort of things Helen's people could teach her. To top it off, Jenny had volunteered to show Mona how to go out and survive in the wide world of she needed to and it had been a miserable experience for both of them. What did Catnip do when she was on her own? Catnip did all of those kinds of things and more, besides the magical stuff. Catnip had put her life on the line for her own benefit and that hadn't been easy. Dodging the undead and wildlife all while trying to find food and tools and materials. It had all been almost too much, now that she looked back on it. It only really got much much easier after she found…

"I suppose," she sighed a bit and realizing what she must do, "Kathrine and I could help. Kat, could you get the keys for my wardrobe? I have some things that have been put away for too long that our niece could probably put to use."
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