Author Topic: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm  (Read 22730 times)

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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5115 on: January 21, 2019, 10:17:25 pm »
At the mention of a physical TJ visibly tensed and shook his head. Foster meanwhile smiled and gave a short wave to the security camera. He seemed oddly comfortable with being surveilled to someone who didn’t know much about him, he’d spent most of his life being watched by some form of hidden camera. Looking back to Jennifer he listened to what she had to say.

Then, as he was about to speak, she pulled him aside to ask about this Hoyt fellow. “I’ve heard the name, some sort of connection to drugs, but I’ve no further knowledge. As for fighting I know some. I can shoot but I’m more..proficient with a knife.”

TJ stepped closer to say “I can fight. I mean I don’t like to but if it will help I can. And I can help scout things out, I’m pretty easy to miss according to some people I used to know.. Just..I’d rather not get an examination. I’m healthy and the last doctor I ran into..”  TJ shuddered as he looked around and pulled his jacket on a bit tighter. “..he wasn’t nice.” TJ’s voice had gone quiet at the end there and his hand reached up to check his neck reflexively.

Foster put a hand gently on TJ’s shoulder as he said “We’d be more than happy to help you with whatever this matter is. I’m afraid we’d need a bit more information though, at the very least whenever you do require us we’ll need to know what we’ll be doing.”


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5116 on: January 25, 2019, 10:41:51 pm »
Catnip bobbed her head in time with the music streaming from the lifeless wreck of a robot that Dee had been rather upset to lose. The speakers inside still worked and so did the little device Dee explained to her was a thing called "bluetooth." This "bluetooth" was, to Catnip, a wonder. It allowed Dee to send music to the dead robot and take control of live ones. She'd seen him do it before, time and time again, but she'd never asked about it until now. She'd always figured it was some kind of remote control.

"It's different than that." Dee explained, not really sure of how it was different, "Sort of." There followed a long silence until finally Dee set down the limb armature he had been working on and asked "What do you need Nip?" Like a switch, Catnip took out the graph paper notebook and flipped it open to the page she wanted. On it she had drawn something that looked like an urn with a window on it's front. Dee nodded slowly and feigned understanding, then shifted the motion of his head into another axis entirely. "Yeah, I don't know what that is Catnip."

"It's a metal melty thing. A furnace!" She explained, "For the super alloy Hector is going to get for me. We need it to finish this ro-butt. If we try to shape the super alloy, it won't work. We gotta melt it and reshape it, but normal heat will just ruin it. Hector is going to find some plates and some graphene!"

"Ok, cool, but what's the graphene for?" Dee asked, turning the book over so he could get a better look. "I suppose it could be used for heat retention or something?"

"No no, it goes in the body. I'm going to shape the graphene into the shapes we want and then cast the alloy over it."



"Okay, I guess that works. We should be working to solve the power problems first though Nip, seriously. I'm thinking some kind of atomic cell, but then heat retention becomes an issue and we don't need Medeina getting radioactive around here..." He said, turning back to the limb. Catnip tugged his sleeve and stopped him though, rummaging through her bag and producing a small object no larger than a soda can.

"I got that solved silly, we'll use this. It's called a 'wind cell.' The howling tower in Pricetown used a larger version to keep itself moving without power. This thing will spin forever and ever and ever and ever. It'll keep Medeina cool too!" Dee took the cell and turned it over. It even looked like a soda can without a label. With a bit of instruction from Catnip, and a little of the mechanic arranging his hands, he had the cell suspended between two fingers. Before long, it started to turn on it's own.

"Woah. So uh, how fast will this thing spin?" He asked. The cell started to turn over faster and his fingers began to grow warm from the friction.

"As fast as you let it." Catnip said, slapping the cell out of his hands and letting it rebound off his work table and fly with it's gathered momentum across the room to strike the robot playing the music. In response, the song changed like a kicked jukebox.

"Well shoot, that'll work." Dee said, the pieces sliding into place in his plan. He thought that perhaps he should just leave the mechanical aspects on all this to Catnip and just stick to what he knew.

"Oh no fighting, hopefully. Like I said, I'll need to get a lay of the land first. Actually meet this Hoyt guy maybe. I can tell you this though..." She said, lowering her voice and motioning the two closer and off to the side of the hall, "If it all goes well and the terrain allows it, the only action you'll see is some theft and maybe some smashed up radio equipment. Are either of you any good with cattle? Nevermind, those details can wait."

Her voice rose, and it was clear she was getting excited. It wasn't mood swings, nothing so severe, but these newcomers could see that something was very different about how the womans enthusiasm seemed to shift up and down from determination to breakneck excitement. Jennifer herself only slightly felt the change from calm and collected to uncomfortably energetic. She'd feel it in a moment though. In a little bit, when she was through with her proposition and separated from the newcomers for the time being, Jennifer would catch herself shoveling down a plate of salty fries while the chef and others watched in mixed fascination and something akin to horror. At that moment though, Jenny was in control and Cheena was only just beginning to think about salted sticks of savory deliciousness.

"Just, stick around. Once I've got all the details I will reach out to you. In the meantime though, if you really aren't down for an examination then I'd say give the introductions to the staff here a miss. I don't know about that Efram guy, but Mr. Dervish will insist. He won't force you, but he will pressure you. Dr. Maskens won't care, but the robot..." Jenny glanced up at the camera again, thankful that their weren't any listening devices (that she knew of) in the center, "If she finds out, she'll just harass you or spy on you until you give her what she wants. She isn't evil. Just... enthusiastic? It'll be fine."

Jenny had intended to stick with these people and speak with them more, they had skills that would be useful and she did seem to be getting along with them, but just then she caught a whiff of something. Something greasy and fried, a smell Cheena had already homed in on. "Do you guys smell fries?"
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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5117 on: January 28, 2019, 01:13:40 am »
Foster and TJ gave each other a glance as they wondered just what was up with this woman. Still Foster believed her to be..harmless more or less. She didn’t seem to be hiding anything from them with malicious intent that he could tell. Smiling Foster said “I’m afraid I don’t smell anything at the moment. Though if we’re going to help you we should probably find out what we’ll need to do to stay here. I can’t imagine they’d let us stay without giving something back to the place.”

TJ meanwhile slid his hands into the pockets of the hoodie he was wearing. He wondered just what it was Foster was planning to get out of this. He didn’t know Foster’s plans to build a lab and continue his old experiments, nor even what exactly it was that Foster’s old work had been. Something to do with magic was all he had figured out based on the depth and breadth of his knowledge on the subject. Now that he was thinking about it he wondered what Foster wanted from him?

Looking up at Foster he frowned under the bandages. In all the time the pair had travelled together he’d never seen Foster do or give something to someone without expecting to get something. Even if the person didn’t realize Foster was getting something out of the situation.

His thoughts were temporarily interrupted by Foster asking “So who should we speak to about getting shelter while we wait for you to formulate this plan of yours?”

Meanwhile Liam sat with the excited wolf pup outside the Hall. The others hadn’t seemed to mind his new pet. Still he couldn’t help but imagine Aaron would try and pull something. He hated wolves after all.

Standing and walking to the forge that was ringing with activity Liam wondered how Charles was doing. Soon he saw his companion doing some basic maintenance on their armor. As he approached he was somewhat shocked to see Charles pick up the piece he’d been fixing and throw it at the wall. As he neared he heard Charles talking to himself quietly “‘oh I’m sorry Charles I broke another piece of armor can you fix it?’ fucking entitled pricks. Like I’ve not got better things to do than this, like loaf around like you lot doing nothing but hunt and spar.”

Looking concerned Liam asked “Is everything alright Charles.”

Glancing over his shoulder Charles paused a moment. Picking up his hammer and walking over to the table his tools were laid out on he returned it to its place as he said “You saw and heard that didn’t you?” At Liam’s nod Charles sighed.

Stepping forward Liam asked “What’s wrong Charles? Something’s been bothering you since we left on the whole affair that got us here.”

Charles sighed again before turning to Liam and saying “What’s wrong? That’s what you’re going to ask me? I’m the only one here who’s not got some kind of bullshit magical blessing.  I’m not blessed, I’m just a smith’s son. I wasn’t even done with my apprenticeship when we left. I was simply counted amongst you so you had someone to fix your armor and weapons when you invariably broke them. And now I’m stuck here, far away from my family and unable to go back because we went along with his stupid plan.”

Liam could hear his friend’s anger growing in his voice as it all came bubbling to the surface. He’d known everyone had been angry and hurt by those events but he’d never seen Charles crack. He’d always done his best to keep the others going when they’d talked about what they were going to do and whether they should actually stay there. “Look Charles we’re all in the same bo-”

He was cut off again as Charles shouted “Same boat? Liam any one of you could survive on your own because of your gifts but me? Don’t fucking kid yourself I’m only the second least capable warrior because you don’t know how to really fight like the rest of us and I can’t use a bow to save my life. My one saving grace is I can use a rifle but even then I’d still last maybe a week. Everyone here but me has something special about them, even Helen has her extensive training and that mask. But me? I have nothing but my tools.”

Sighing to himself Charles lowered his head for a moment. “I..I just don’t know why I’m here. You don’t need me, not anymore. Besides Eino and Anton won’t listen to my suggestions, and Aaron and Gunnar listen to them despite their conflicts.” Pausing for a moment he said “I’m going to go clear my head. keep an eye on that wolf there. Never know what Aaron might do.”

Liam watched his friend walk off. He started trying to figure out what he could do as he knelt down and patted the wolf cub on the head. He’d talk more with Charles later, for now the best thing he could do was give his friend some space.

Meanwhile Charles made his way to Walkerville, and from there to Isaac’s community center. He’d been stewing about things for over a year at this point. The other’s refusing to modernize their approach, whilst in honor of their people’s ways and augmented by their blessings, was a constant frustration for him. But at the moment he was thinking about what he needed to do for himself.

Walking in he was greeted by Isaac, who was currently putting on a smile to hide how he was feeling at the moment. “What can I do for you Charles?”

Smiling in return Charles motioned for them to sit at a table. Once they had he detailed his plans and listened to Isaac’s input. At the end Isaac said “I can get you some of the things you’ll need but I’ve got to ask why this is coming up now.”

Charles sighed as he leaned back in the chair and said “Because I’m tired. I’m tired and I need start looking to the future rather than looking at the past. And this is the first step, where it takes me from there I don’t know.”

Isaac nodded as he thought about his own not to distant moment of clarity. Putting a hand on Charles’ shoulder he said “Well wherever it does you’ll do yourself and your friends proud. I know you will.”

With that the pair parted. Charles went back towards the Hall. Isaac went back to helping Alice with the community center they’d built together. He was going to be there for her when she needed to talk about what had transpired. For now all he could do was wait for that moment to come and prepare himself as best he could.


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5118 on: January 29, 2019, 04:50:53 pm »
Catalina was making her way over to the main entrance of the center, directing a few others who were running around, slinging an M4 over her shoulder and picking up her radio. It was an unusual sight after all this time, vest and helmet on, mask in its usual bag and other gear in her pack. "Larion, I'll want you watching just in case." she said, hearing his calm affirmative before turning to the few others who had assembled with her. "Sargent Branham, if you're ready, you'll take the squad north to intercept and meet with them. All of you are to be at MOPP Zero, limited intel confirms that some of their tricks in Maine have included what would qualify as biological warfare." she said, the others giving a salute before making ready to head out, checking gear beforehand.

The captain was soon enough heading back over to check with Khaki, giving a little nod as the other soldiers had been dismissed. "We should keep the others down in D.C. and offshore informed just in case, possibly get in touch with Walkerville. If all goes well all we'll have to worry about is the risk the Marshal or any of the others might scare them." she joked. "Other than that...who else might be able to help sort this out? I know we sent two to Maryland that might be able to help advise us..."

Khaki felt cold at the mention of contacting anyone in long distance. Walkerville might still be possible by virtue of short range radio. Hell, the AI that often spied on the center could and would probably relay the message, but Catalina didn't know yet that the center was flying blind. A surge the night before, the centers industrial generator having a hiccup thanks to the recent influx of people and the increase of power usage. Just a flicker that had gone mostly unnoticed, and the antenna repeater had been shot to shit. Khaki hadn't discovered the issue until late morning of the next day. She wasn't afraid of telling the Captain, she was afraid of the fact that she was telling the Captain now of all times and not even making her the first person Khaki informed.

"Eeer... I don't want to freak you out Captain but the antenna is fried. I talked to the guys in requisitions about it, but they don't have a spare. I-I'm getting people to see if they can dig one up somewhere." Khaki stammered, throwing the last bit in just to squeeze it in before the explosion she expected.

Catalina gave a blank stare before facepalming at that. " long have we been cut off from D.C. then?" she asked, seeming more concerned than angry, though displeasure was readily evident in her expression.

"A day at most." Khaki said immediately, "I think whatever happened occurred during the power surge last night. The repeater looks like it caught fire and... well, its broken. We're 'incommunicado' Captain."

'So the situation was like this,' Khaki reflected to herself, 'A couple busloads of GA are stalking a group of our scavengers, following them back to the refugee center, and we are completely cut off from most avenues of advice and assistance save the farm.' She wondered off hand if there were other groups in the area. The party coming over the short range had mentioned that the people in the buses were mostly civilians, but that didn't mean much in these degenerate times.

Catalina gave an irritated sigh at that, shaking her head. "Just like old times, it seems..." she remarked. "Well, in that case if we at least have anything short-range, we should have Walkerville standing by and aware that they may be the only asset available. That would also include The Hall nearby, should be in range too if the farm is. Our friendly neighborhood drug-pusher may or may not be an available asset too, if he's in range."

"He's in the right direction at least to notify us if any other forces are following the convoy. Assuming he doesn't decide to charge for intel that might be vital to the only place that puts up with his shit." she added, grumbling a bit to herself.

Khaki would have spat if she was the sort that hadn't been taught at an early age via liberal application of a wooden spoon to her behind, that spitting was incredibly unladylike. It wasn't that Hoyt would charge, oh no, It was that Hoyt wouldn't tell them period. The man was borderline raider, pushing his shit keeping him more than comfortable enough to keep him from just taking what he wanted from travelers.

"I'll get on it Cap." Khaki said, snapping a quick salute and keeping her thoughts on Hoyt to herself. With that Catalina went off to tend to her own business. She knew full well that Hoyt was not well-like by most of the center, and in fact she herself didn't think highly of him either. As Oliver would put it, Hoyt was a person with no class, no scruples, and no sense of good business. Enough that she herself doubted that Hoyt would actually play along even if not doing so was likely to end with him lynched by God's Army.

Hector hummed a bit to himself as he did his usual check on the tank after it was parked, ensuring everything was in working order. It was still missing the solar panels and he knew that the the bio-diesel they were starting to make wouldn't suffice too long, already there were too many things to reserve much for something as inefficient as a tank, even one that had been heavily stripped down and supplemented with an electric engine.

It was afterward, dropping off a few tools in the forge area, that he took a look around, taking notice of Floyd coming along with someone unfamiliar.

Floyd waved and ambled over pulling the young woman along behind. Hector noted the girls pale skin and thin form, and Branches one striking eye taking up the center of her face. This last she tried to hide under her hood, but doing that made it difficult to walk straight and so the effort was unsuccessful.

"Afternoon Floyd, who's your friend?" Hector asked, wiping what felt like grease or oil from his hands. Knowing who used some of these tools and how well she kept them, it was probably a little of both.

"Sister of that girl I told you about with the magic mud." He looked to Branches, expecting her to introduce herself. Instead, she stuffed her hands in her pockets and looked at her bare feet. "She lives over across that new lake Hec'. Name's Branches. This is Hector little lady, if you have any problems with thugs or anything, you can come to him for help."

Hector smiled a bit, giving a polite nod. He'd taken his helm off, and the older, more worn arming cap he'd used in place of the last one would be evident as well, if she'd taken notice of the newer one among the stolen possessions.

"Greetings. You're always welcome here if need be. I hope your sister is faring well?" he asked, seeming concerned. "Should see if anything from the collection Mica scavenged will fit her, might be good to get shoes for her." he said, setting the great helm aside.

Branches squirmed silently for a moment before pulling the strings on her hood tight, practically cutting off her face from sight except for the iris of her saucer sized eye. She was in the Lions den, metaphorically speaking, and frankly terrified now. If L, Mohammad, Sharlene, or even Helen had informed Hector of the incident at Sharlene's Clearing, she would be sunk.

Thoughts of running away or hiding who she was turned to smoke and dropped out of her thoughts entirely when Hector took off his cap and set it aside with his helm. He was handsome. A rugged man with experience and kindness in his eyes. His every move was performed with casual confidence and total control of his strong- Branches shook her head. What had that been?

"W-what? No, uh, no shoes. My name is... Branches." She said, loosening the hood again. The homunculus felt sweaty all of a sudden and a little swoony, but the two men didn't seem to notice. "She's... She's fine..."

Hector nodded and raised an eyebrow at Floyd, then asked, "No shoes? Are you sure? We just cleaned up a lot of old wood and there could still be nails around. Broken glass too." Branches shuffled nervously, and thought fast. Such kindness and concern for a stranger. Branches was new to the world, but as far as she knew people didn't just go around offering charity for nothing.

"No. I don't really like shoes. I'll be ok..."

"You're a bit shy eh?" Floyd observed, "Oh, Hec, our new friend here brought in a cart load of some of the stuff that went missing last night."

Hector regarded the homunculus with what seemed to simply be concern, though at Floyd's remark he perked up a bit. "That's a pleasant surprise. Any word on just how most of it ended up missing? I know we've had a rash of strange mischief before." he said, recalling recent events.

"Bandits, it seems." Floyd said, seeming to be giving Branches the benefit of the doubt for now, even though what he'd seen of the missing items made it seem unlikely for bandits to have made off with so much stuff unnoticed.

"That's...disconcerting." Hector said. "First there was the random food thefts, Helen had a vague guess as to what might've caused that, I think? Then a few days ago there were all those little clay figurines...both events were rather different in character compared to what happened this time."

"Uh-huh..." Branches mumbled, "Little... clay people..."

"Ah, so you've seen them around your place too?" Hector asked, raising an eye brow. Branches squirmed a little more under his scrutiny and nodded.

"I've got more stuff and uh..." She went on. The thought of keeping everything that hadn't belonged to the farm or to Helen had been her original plan now that both Helen and Steinar weren't keeping an eye on her while she had no plan at all for the bandits. The two man would have ended up tied to a tree. Branches would have got bored of their threats and complaining and painted their faces. Now she had an option though. An option that was always open to her, but now it seemed like a much better one. It might even please Hector. "Two bandits..."

Hector hmmed a bit, seeming to regard just how nervous Branches was, though he shrugged it off. "It's alright then, you can go ahead and tell us. We'll go ahead and sort out whatever they took and get them back to where they belong." he said, before her last remark seemed to make him noticably perk up, though he tried to hide it behind his usual calm expression.

"Is that so? Go ahead then, lead the way. There may well be more of them. It's a good thing it was just bandits and not God's Army. Though they've been far less active in the region, it's still good to be careful." he said, taking a look at some of the items in the cart.

It wasn't long before the sampling of items started to concern him, however. "So they...huh. This is a lot of stuff taken right from under our noses..." he said, concerned. "Maybe they took it from whoever did this? Might be why we haven't seen any of those little clay creatures for a good while. The other bunch only ever stole food." he pointed out.

The lies and half truths were beginning to break down and Branches could feel it. She expected the man to hear about bandits and cast off any suspicions in a fit of "case closed" but he didn't. In fact, he'd just grown more suspicious of a combined effort to swipe stuff. She couldn't quite see a way out of this, but if these men went with her to go and question the bandits... Oh boy, question the bandits? If they talked to the bandits, everything would fall apart right away and Branches would be exposed. Not just as the thief, but as a liar. In any other case, she wouldn't care. Helen knew the Homunculus was a tricky one and Illiana knew Branches nature all too well. These men though. The old man was friendly, treated her nicer than most people had and Hector...

Branches gave him a quick glance, one he noticed, and hid her face again. "Oh... Um... Ok... I..." She mumbled, "Ok, follow me then..." She spun and scurried off, the knight and the cowboy following. Before long though, Branches just couldn't take it much more. She didn't want to be a liar. "The little clay people are mine... I... I didn't mean any harm... I just forgot..."

When Branches finally admitted to it after a few minutes of walking along, there was a momentary look of surprise on the knight's face, one that quickly faded to...disppointment, it seemed. "You did that? Why, though?" he asked, a bit leery of her, seeming to be sizing her up, unsure just what her intent was, yet he didn't yet lash out at her.

"I just forgot! They were just supposed to go borrow books and clothes, but I forgot to tell them to stop and they just kept taking things they thought I would need! I didn't mean to..." Branches tried to explain, "They were just supposed to go to the hall, but they started going to other places too... they took so much stuff that some bandit guys came, and then Helen showed up, and... and..."

She had disappointed them, and that seemed worse than the other possible outcomes to her. She stood there on the bridge with them, staring down at her own bare feet and disappointed in herself in a way that Illiana and Helen hadn't been able to get her to be. Not just Hector though, Floyd too. He was disappointed as well. He had the look of a father finding his child stuffing candy into their pockets at the store.

"Please... I just want to return everything and get rid of the bandits..."

Hector gave a little sigh at that. "Well. I'm glad you came forward with it now at least. I'm guessing Helen's already given you an earful, for whatever magic goes into those creatures if not for stealing." he said. "I'll deal with the band-"

It was then that Floyd finally spoke up. "Don't go traumatizin' the kid. She already looks scared half t' death as it is." he said calmly. "I know. Still, attracting bandits out here doesn't bode well. They'll likely escalate things, and it'd be reasonable to do so if she stole from them as well, they might think we did it."

The effect of the reprieve on Branches was internally profound. Floyd's addition compounded the feeling of having dodged a bullet. Or it would have if Branches hadn't been too busy imagining what it would be like to see Hector dealing with bandits. How he'd grab one by the shirt and punch him in the face like an action hero. Branches hadn't seen an action movie before (yet) but that's the sort of things she imagined the knight doing. Action movie stuff, but in armor. And he wouldn't punch people, he would cut them with his sword and hit them with his shield.

"Taste my steel knave!" She imagined him crying as he cut down one unfortunate thug before spinning on another and smashing him in the face with his shield.

"You alright little lady?" Floyd asked, snapping his fingers in front of Branches eye.

"W-what?" Branches stuttered. Her imagination had carried her away for a moment, and that was a new experience.

"I asked," Floyd said, "Do you know where this lot is? You said Helen showed up when these guys were around, I imagine she took care of them. Did they have anything on them we could use to track where they came from?"

"Oh, they're still there. We tied them up and I was supposed to bring them to Mr. Hector."

"Well then, I suppose we should pay them a visit. If they're any of the Hell's Raiders leftovers this will be an...interesting visit." Hector remarked, Floyd already having a bad feeling about this as Branches led the way.

Nashio dug into his meal, which consisted of a flatbread, some sort of homemade, soft cheese, and some stewed meat. When Aurelia sat down in front of him he jumped a bit, swallowing his food. “Oh- uh, Hey. Doin’ alright?” Nashio asked, setting his meal aside for a moment. Aurelia smiled a bit as she took her seat, giving a little nod. “Doing fine in fact. Not too worn out, hmm?” she teased.

Nashio shook his head, “Huh? Nah, just starvin’ ‘cause someone had me sleep past breakfast…” He teased right back, grinning a bit. Aurelia nodded a bit, taking a sip of the cup of coffee she’d brought over. “Suppose you needed your rest.” Nashio let out an amused snort, “Says the gal who wouldn't let me go ‘cause I was ‘too warm’” He joked, poking at his food again.

“Funny, usually I’m the warm one.” she teased, wings giving a little flutter as the two settled down to eat a belated breakfast.

As Nashio finished his meal, he checked his watch. “Shit- The pastor gave me a job, I got five minutes. Unless you wanted to join me…” He trailed off, thinking for a moment. Aurelia gave a nod at that. “To be honest I was thinking about volunteering for something, as it seems I might be around for a bit before trying to head any farther south...” she admitted, though there was a degree of hesitation in her voice as she finished her sentence.

Nashio hmmed a bit at that, “We can talk about what- uh, happened later. And about you heading out.” He said, getting up from his seat. Aurelia nodded as she finished what was left of her cup of coffee, gathering the cup and tray to put things away before following along.

As the two made their way to a yard outside the cathedral, Bigby was giving a rundown of the situation to the Shepherd’s Wolves’ ‘misfits’. “Now. Since you all have been acting like dipshits, and I’ve had it with babysitting you fucks. So the pastor had the pleasure of having one of the newbies teach some discipline into you.” The captain barked, giving Nashio a nod as he left.

Aurelia watched in amusement as Nashio stepped up, giving a little wave to the group that had been gathered there, likely already sizing them up herself. Cyclops, there with the others, gave a little chuckle as he looked over at Aurelia, looking away towards Nashio once he saw that the winged woman was practically looking right through him. “ this is the boy you picked? Thought you’d pick Donny, he in the garage for repairs or something?” he joked. “Even Taji’d be a better choice than this shrimp...”

Nashio glared hard at Cyclops, walking up close until they were eye to eye. “Watch your tongue, dipshit.” He said coldly, the bottom half of his palm striking the misfit square in the nose, the cartilage letting out a soft crack. “You need to adjust your attitude.” He snapped at him.

Cyclops acked a bit, stumbling back and clutching his nose at that, glaring furiously at Nashio, his resulting remark mumbled in a nasally tone. “You fuckin’...” Nashio glared back, “Had enough?” He smirked, clutching his fists and getting into a stance. Cyclops glared at Nashio before lunging forward, taking a swing at Nashio, Bigby promptly facepalming at this. “I’m surrounded by fucking four-year-olds...”

Nashio ducked and weaved under the swing, going for a heavy haymaker and nearly knocking him flat, if not for him grabbing him by the collar of his shirt. He brought Cyclops close to his own face, “Had enough yet?” He said quietly, staring him in the eye.

Cyclops glowered up at Nashio, half-tempted to spit in his face, before finally calming himself, muttering a bit before he spoke up. “Alright...” he grumbled, Bigby grinning a bit. “About damn time we’ve had new meat here with the balls to instill some fucking discipline around here. Pick yourself up Cyclops, and count yourself lucky I didn’t have to hand out the discipline myself.”

Nashio let go of Cyclops’ shirt, “I’ve been sent here to do two things, to teach some of you some actual discipline, and to teach you how to fight properly with your own bare hands.” He said clearly, “And with Fuckboy over here, makes a great example. He was stiff as a board, no flow. He put too much thought in what he was going to do, he was pissed off. I was calm. Be like…” Nashio paused for a moment.

“Like water. It’s not about strength or power, you have to be fluid. Using Fuckboy as an example, again, he applied excessive force, I control that force through fluid motion. So you all gotta relax your whole body so it can react instantly, understand?” He explained further, giving an aside glance towards Aurelia, before looking back at the Misfits.

Cyclops chuckled a bit at that, standing up and looking over at Aurelia. “Right. So ya gotta be soft on ‘em, eh? Guessing your girlfriend there must not be all that hap-” He was interrupted by taking notice of the way Aurelia was looking into his eyes, the other Misfits about to start snickering, whether at his joke or how he stopped himself, before she seemed to cast her gaze over the group, cold blue eyes sizing them up. “The point is using your own energy efficiently. To use his metaphor, water can flow around obstacles, but it can also wear down stones.”

“Use that control and fluidity, so that when the moment is right, your strike is not just immediate, but decisive. That sound about right?” she said, Bigby chuckling some. “Whatever gets this bunch from having their asses handed to them, and keeps them from embarrassing this unit any further like Fuckboy here has. So, the other fresh meat’s joining in I guess?”

Nashio shook his head, “Naw, she’s just here to supervise. Make sure I don’t break any bones or what-not.” He said, and the session continued for a while. There was a point where Nashio was happy with where the misfits have arrived, and he gave a nod, giving his farewell.

Aurelia of course had nonetheless been eager to join in, occasionally remarking on things and at one point being paired up to spar with one of the younger men among the Misfits, getting a few remarks and critique from Nashio about her technique in the process, much to her embarrassment. By the time they were heading back after being dismissed, it had already gotten a bit later in the day. “ mentioned wanting to talk about some things?”

Nashio let out a soft ‘uh…’, “Do you want to be, a uh… ‘A thing’ He asked, looking away for a moment, scratching his chin. Aurelia was surprised by that question, seeming not to expect it, looking away nervously. “I had, well...considered it to be honest. The problem is I did have reasons to keep heading south...” she admitted. “Not sure what your plans are.”[/color] Nashio let out a hmm, “I… wouldn’t mind coming with you…” He admitted back, scratching at his chin.

Aurelia nodded a bit at that. “Wouldn’t mind’s a lot more difficult getting through alone. Though at least the worst of it seems to be farther north anyway.” she remarked. Nashio let out a hmm, “S-sounds good…” He said, awkwardly. Aurelia smiled some, trying and failing to hide a blush. “Fine by me then. We can stay as long as you feel the need to...”

Back at the village on the foot of Mount Katahdin, an assortment of travelers, regulars formerly living in now-ruined houses, and a few of the Canadians assigned to the village. Celine and Abraham were among them, the two talking over coffee, or at least what passed for it eight years after the cataclysm.

"Are you certain your...friend will be alright?" the mage asked, the weathered old gunslinger simply nodding. "I've seen th' bastard look up at the fuckin' space octopus himself and not back down. A bit of snow and some overgrown bugs won't do a thing to th' likes o' him." he drawled.

One of the villagers took a seat at the table as well, an old man with a few noticeable bionic implants. "So long as he doesn't go bringin' the wrath of Pamola down on this place doin' stupid shit like that. Already had one person maybe a week or so ago pull that kinda stunt." the old man remarked.

Abe raised a brow at that. "He make it back down?" he asked, the cyborg nodding. "She, yeah. Dunno what the deal with that was." Abraham chuckled a bit. "So maybe this is it anyway?"

"Old native god of thunder, bird spirit, somethin' like that, supposed to live up on that mountain. Some of the locals think that's why the monsters infesting this part of the Appalachian act like this." he answered. Celine seemed noticeably curious, and was about to ask questions if not for Abraham speaking up. "Well, maybe the ol' buzzard's gettin' tired or summit. Never know with inj-"

It was then that the door to the building opened, bringing with it a brief chill from the wind-driven snow still blowing outside, though by now it had calmed down enough to travel through, if not for the two of them waiting for the figure who'd just now stepped in.

As he closed the door behind him, Horace spoke up. "We'll move on whenever you're ready."


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5119 on: January 31, 2019, 12:51:11 am »
[Written with a dragon while a volleyball watched from the hedge outside the window.]

The walk from where Branches had given her admission was a short one, but to the homunculus it felt like an hour. She was nervous, a bit squirmy, and she'd spent the time after describing how Helen and Steinar had taken them down, leaving out her own part in the whole ordeal or the fact of her strength entirely. The sense of fear and the desire to flee was mostly gone now. At least the need to flee because of being in danger was gone. Branches now wanted to flee because 'he' was just too large. 'He' being Hector. From the moment he took off his helmet, a sensation of awe had come over her along with a desire to be close to him. Listen to him talk and look at him, but when he talked her mind would wander off imagining what he might say for other subjects and when he looked her way she couldn't help but look away. Branches didn't really understand, but Illiana or Helen would. Illiana because she knew things and Helen because she'd been a young lady once and that youth wasn't exactly behind her.

"So..." Branches began during a low in the discussion between the two men, "what will you do when you have these guys? Just questions?"

They had reached the other end of the bridge at this point, and the men had been left tied up just around the next bend on a wide spot by the side of the road where long gone people had pulled off to enjoy the river in the world before the cataclysm. Floyd scratched the chin beneath his bushy grey beard and looked to Hector.
"Maybe question em' a bit? What do you think Hec? From the sound of things, these boys are more dildos than desperados. You think they'll be worth turning in if they don't have any Hell's Raiders connections?" He asked.

It'd been only a short walk so far, Hector already thinking over just how to handle this situation, when he found it hard not to crack up at Floyd's description of the captured bandits. "Now there's a phrase I never thought I'd hear from somebody." he remarked, leading the way towards the bend. "If we can reason with them sure. Clear things up...but if Helen couldn't talk them down then I'm not so sure it'd go well."

Branches mulled that over to herself. Helen couldn't get them to talk because they were either brave or stupid. She thought maybe Hector and Floyd could do better, but before the strange new feelings stewing around in her thoughts could convince her of that, her inherent knowledge kicked in. The bandits would say just about anything if threatened, "confession under duress" as it were. Helen had only pressed them a little, and they'd resisted.

She was going over this in her head, pushing aside everything to try and work her way over the coming interrogation analytically, when they finally rounded the bend.

"God, look at all that underwear! I can't believe Nip hasn't noticed yet." Floyd balked when he caught sight of the carts. Hector ignored him. As soon as the carts were in sight, he'd felt something off. Branches too in fact, but Hector was the first to voice the problem.

"I thought you said there were two of them?" He growled. Branches flinched a little, then ran to the carts and the man laying on his side in the grass next to one. The bandit was grinning like a moron and seemed to be in the process of working his bonds loose.

As soon as he realized something was off, he rushed ahead, shield held up and a hand reaching for his sword. In his mind he cursed himself for having left his helm back at the forge, feeling rather exposed due to not knowing if the other bandit was lurking in the treeline...or worse, if he'd come back with friends.

Floyd likewise followed behind, his longer-barreled gift from Catnip clearing leather with unnatural speed, already keeping an eye on any sign of movement in the treeline around them, but he couldn't quite get a bead on the one bandit left behind. Not only had Branches already rushed ahead, but the knight was close behind as well. But Conquest would prove more than adequate for any trouble lurking in the woods, just as his old pieces had been for countless bandits before The Shifting.

In his fluted plate armor, noticeably bright gauntlets, and a kite shield of different size and pattern to the old mansion find long since ruined. He looked almost nothing like the Hector that any former Hell's Raider would've been familiar with. The only pieces of his old gear to have survived this long were his sabatons, great helm, and sword. The first was hardly a distinctive feature, the second had been touched up with dents and scratches repaired countless times, but would've been distinctive had he brought it.

His sword however...weathered, scarred, chipped and worn blunt time and time again, only to have its flaws polished and ground away, its heat treatment renewed to forge-weld out a crack and a bent blade at least once, that would be the most overt surviving piece of his equipment. A typical replica of the knightly swords so common through many of the Crusades, now pointed at the struggling bandit's throat. "Hold, if you want to keep your head."

Branches took a step back and gave an uncharacteristic gasp. For a moment, she believed the knight was actually just going to kill the man. Instead, he had simply warned him. Put steel to the man and menaced him like Helen and Steinar had not. It was undeniably cool in her opinion.

"Jesus man, calm down. Hey, that's fuckin' cold." The bandit husked, "Who'r you supposed to be? King Arthur and Wyatt Earp?" The man was stupid, the dumber of the two in Branches opinion. The homunculus dropped to her knees behind the man and cinched the loosened bindings back into place and gave them another couple knots for good measure. "Where's the other one?" She demanded gently. His silence was expected. Unlike Helen, Hector was not content with silence and pressed his blade in closer.

"Little lady asked you a question pard'." Floyd growled, not taking his eyes off the tree line. There were unfamiliar forms in the woods, not exactly human ones. Varying shapes and sizes hardly moving at all and somehow familiar. Floyd was old and maybe his hands gave him hell now and again, but his eyes were as sharp as always. He picked out movement in the underbrush and zeroed in on it. Branches noted the movement and put a hand out.

"It's mine, please don't break it..."

"Yeah," The bandit heckled, "don't hurt the little girls little shit dolls. Little girls need their dolls, need-" Hector pushed the sword in hard enough to draw just the barest trickle of blood. "Goddamn, stop. Fuck man."

Hector seemed to be glowering down at the man, something between a reflexive urge to behead the man he barely suppressed, and a form of disappointment altogether less fatherly than how he'd looked at Branches. "Where did your little friend go?" he asked calmly, sword still held right where it'd make every word spoken just the slightest bit uncomfortable.

The bandit tried to move his head back away from the blade, a weapon bearing the scars of use and repair as points of pride to its owner, and suddenly got an inkling of what he was dealing with. He himself hadn't been around when Yellow Jacket and the other chiefs had run afoul of a harder group of survivors than they'd been prepared for, but even the sparse groups in the north from which he had been had heard of the Iron Marshal, The Blade of Sodom, and all the others that followed them.

"You ain't... the Marshal... are ya?" he rasped. Hector smirked, and that was enough for the bandit, "Shiiiiiit..." The long drawn out expletive was enough to convince Hector that the mans hope of getting out of this alive, let alone a shot at retribution, was now dead in the water. "Went to get Yellow Jacket, she's gonna raise some fuckin' hell when she gets here. Nobody robs Yellow Jacket in the night and gets away with it, you'll fuckin' see." There didn't seem to be too much conviction behind his threats though, his priorities had just changed from escaping and getting Yellow Jacket so they could stomp all over the little one eyed freak and her weird friends, to just keeping himself from having his head unceremoniously parted from his shoulders.

"And she won't." Hector answered. "We'll handle disciplining her as needed. Helen especially, no doubt, You weren't the only ones who had things stolen from you." Floyd watched the man, a calm expression on his face as the knight continued his threats. "You have your possessions to return. I'll give you one chance. Do so, and tell this Yellow Jacket who is responsible for this place."

"If you don't, if you return to cause trouble, you've more than just a Marshal to deal with. The Blade of Sodom, as God's Army calls her, makes her home here too. As does..." Hector stopped for a moment, looking back to Floyd. "You know, you would think someone would've thought up an epitaph for you too by now. Have they...?"

Floyd shrugged, "Dunno. Heard a few things, 'steel rider'  seems to go around a lot." He said. Branches could tell he wasn't very interested, but these people being well known enough to have titles was pretty cool. Hector made to cut the man loose but branches stopped him and worked the knots loose again. It was a little annoying, having just tightened them and then having to untie them, but Hector knew what he was doing.

The knight pulled the man to his feet and checked him over for weapons. "If you're looking for weapons then you're out of luck bro. Mask lady already took my piece, only weapon I got now is my meat cannon." The bandit joked, keeping his hands where Hector could see them.

"That's fine," Hector said dismissively, "I can't imagine it's a very powerful weapon anyway."

The bandit laughed, seemingly taking no offense. He couldn't really be offended anyway, they had spared him so he could send a message. It would be shitty having to tell Yellow Jacket what had gone down, she'd almost certainly start screaming at him, but if his partner had made it then he wouldn't exactly be the one getting raked over hot coals would he? The idiots were actually going to let him take one of the carts back. Shit, he wasn't going to get worked over for this. If anything, it would just encourage Yellow Jacket to push in.

The daffy smile that had begun to form on the bandits face died and he glared at the knight. Did he know that? Did he know that the warning might just antagonize Yellow Jacket and get her to come at him? The sneer Hector gave him strongly suggested that he did know. Maybe even counting on it. After a bit of judging, the bandit picked out a cart he knew was filled mostly with his gangs stuff and moved off. Hector watched him go and as soon as the Bandit was out of sight, gestured for Floyd to follow and watch. Branches stopped them with a wave of her hand. She knew what was up, keep an eye on the man and make sure he didn't turn back. One of the little figures, a small clay ape like creature, trundled from the woods and waited at Branches heel. At the giving of some unseen order, the creature took off after the bandit.

"So..." Branches said anxiously looking to Hector and Floyd. Hector hmmed a bit quietly. "They're not to be persuaded so easily. Funny, usually it's Helen that tries talking sense into the enemy first..." he joked.

"Aye, but Ms. Mckinnon is a more reasonable sort. Some people just don't respond to sugared threats and need somethin' a bit harder to think about." Floyd said seriously.

"True. I suppose we'll need to stay on alert. If we're lucky their leader will be smarter than that one was, and moreover that they figure out what trying to retaliate entails..." he remarked, before looking back to Branches. "You doing alright?"

"Hmm?" Branches hummed, snapping back from deep confused fantasies in which a certain knight fought off bandits and monstrosities, "O-oh, yeah. I still have more stuff to bring back to you guys though..." She pointed to the remaining cart. While she'd been at the farm, someone from the hall had stopped by to grab the last load of the Hall's property. After the bandit had grabbed one of the carts, there were just the two left. One loaded with a lingerie stores worth of ladies under things, and the other filled with a mix and match of bandit and farm property.

"Okay then, we can help with that. Floyd, your old back up to the task?" Hector volunteered. Floyd harrumphed and took up the handles of one of the carts. "Alright, we'll get all this put back to the farm where it belongs and you..." Hector went on, "Can make sure it gets back to it's owners." Branches averted her eye with embarrassment and considered silently how it seemed to be getting harder to keep her eye off the knight.

By the time the three had set off with the last couple carts for the farm, Yellow Jacket was just finishing off her interrogation of the bandit who'd slipped his bonds and escaped. The story he'd told was troubling and not a little infuriating. A short woman in a mask, a drunk asshole, and a small freak had got the drop on and captured two of her men. More over, the little weirdo had been the one to steal all of the crap Yellow Jacket and her gang had collected since coming south. To top it all off, the bitch in the mask had recognized the stone pyramids and confiscated them. The rest of the stuff could be burned and pissed on for all she cared, it was the stones that were important. Those things were her and her gangs ticket back into the big time. She had to think about her next move. Yellow Jacket didn't believe a single word about the little mutants "unnatural strength." What was more likely was that her guys were stoned at the time. The woman in the mask though, she would probably be dangerous. She knew what the stones were and that was knowledge Yellow Jacket didn't have herself.

"Yo, YJ, got a sec?" Said someone pawing at the flaps of her yurt. Yellow Jacket didn't answer, she didn't want to talk to Stacy at that moment or in the next moment. Stacy stood just outside waiting before pushing his way through the fabric portal into Yellow Jacket's den. He was the only man brave enough to just barge in like that. Unannounced, no, but whether she wanted him to or not he would come in when he was ready.

"The fuck you want stacy?" Yellow Jacket growled. Stacy was a big man, but Yellow Jacket had laid low bigger than him and the man wasn't trying to intimidate or threaten her anyway. She took a deep breath and let it out, calming herself down. "Okay, what's up Stacy."

"The rest of us are ready to move YJ, but we wanna know what's up. We going in for scouting or we going in for war?" He asked.

She thought about it for a second, then responded, "We go to parley, but prepare for war."

Fosters question to Jennifer's already turned back caught her attention and turned her back around. She'd still get the fries Cheena desperately wanted, but this man's concerns had to be addressed first. It was a part of what she saw as her duty. After a bit of thought, she said, "Well there's always manual labor that needs to be done. All these newcomers need somewhere to stay and they installed a planning office down the hall and to the left there." She told them this with a sour expression. The idea of all these people crowded into a city seemed distasteful to her. All packed together like sardines. It didn't occur to her until houses had actually been built that life in the refugee center was much like that, and that the new "village" wouldn't actually be as crowded as she believed it would be. "There are fields to clear, boards to plane, blah blah blah. If you aren't into that sort of work then you can try the farm. Walkerville or something like that, that place is like a commune for weirdos and Heroes. Er..."

She said that last bit, referring to the farm residents as "weirdos and heroes," falteringly knowing that if she wasn't here in New Paris, Jennifer would very likely be living on the farm herself. As strange as some of the people in New Paris were, none of them save Jennifer "Atomos" Barrowfield could lay claim to the outrageous character that typified the residents of Walkerville. Even some of their most benign resident could boast some amazing feat. Her friend Dean had aided in programming and salvaging various robots and computers in his spare time. In the full time, he kept a dangerous predatory mutant under control. The same went for a rather friendly guy named Nathaniel who kept a likewise unstoppable beast at Bay with no more than a rub of the belly and the sorts of behind doors activities that were he and his "lady's" business alone.

"Yeah, if you're looking to kill the hell out of bandits and undead or doing some seriously dangerous work, go see the folks over at Walkerville." She said, "They boast some of the better mechanics and craftsman too I guess, so if you need something fixed or made then yeah. Go to them. Just remember to bring chocolate, the nice rat girl only take payment in chocolate."
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 09:46:59 pm by saltmummy626 »
I'm really just a sexy skeleton in a suit.
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"Everything is fucked forever, and ever, and ever." -Forrest 2016


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5120 on: February 05, 2019, 12:04:54 am »
Foster felt TJ pull on his sleeve and turned to look at him. Looking up at him TJ said “Let’s at least check out this Walkerville place. We have a radio so she’ll be able to reach us whenever it’s time for her plan.”

In response Foster nodded. He wasn’t quite sure why TJ was interested in the place but he’d go along with it for now. Looking back to Jenifer her told her “Yes, for now we’ll be checking out Walkerville. When you need us just call us on the radio-” He rattled off one of the old radio frequencies Section 1 had used to stay in touch with the retrieval teams, a frequency that had been dead silent since a year into the cataclysm, “- and we’ll come to help out.”

With that the pair turned to leave. Foster hummed to himself as they walked away, feeling like someone was watching him but he couldn’t tell from where. Still he had somewhere to be he supposed so he’d stop and find whoever it was watching him later when TJ wasn’t so antsy to be going somewhere.

Elsewhere Isaac had found a few spare minutes. Not many people were using the community center in walkerville yet so the place wasn’t too busy. So he’d made his way back to his truck to find some of the things Charles’ had asked for.

A vest was easy enough to find, something to carry magazines with adatable pouches. A Battle rifle for mid to long range was next. G3A3, modified to accept a variety of sights, the muzzle could take a suppressor or compensator of the operator’s choosing, and a foregrip that could be removed in favor of a bipod. For closer ranges he picked out a Saiga 12 gauge and a UMP, both designed to be modified for the operator’s comfort.

With the guns he grabbed a variety of components that Charles might want to attach or use in some way. Then he got the other components Charles had asked for. Mostly it was spare parts for his helmets, things Charles was going to integrate into one he was going to build for himself. Of course he also packaged in a power system so that the suit would be capable of prolonged operation.

All in all it took him a half hour to get everything together. As he walked with the duffel bag towards the bridge he called over a younger misling, still an adult but not by much, and asked to call in a favor. One of the perks of running the community center was a few people owed him favors. So upon reaching the bridge Isaac gave the man instructions to deliver the duffel bag to Charles.

Looking across the bridge he saw the pair of approaching strangers. Waving to them he scrutinized the one in bandages before speaking once they were within earshot “Hello! Welcome to Walkerville, I’m Isaac. I..I run the community center over that way, it’s also a library. If you’re looking to stay we’re currently working on some new housing unless that got done while my back was turned.”

Foster smiled as he shook the offered hand and said “Foster, a pleasure to make your acquaintance. This is my friend TJ-” TJ shook Isaac’s hand and nodded to him before Foster continued “-I do hope there’s somewhere we could stay.”

Isaac nodded to that “worst comes to worst you can sleep on a cot in the community center. We’ve got beds, a cafeteria, a couple of bathrooms though we still need to get the showers hooked up, and of course the library. I’d show you around the place in general but I’ve got to get back to my daughter.”

Foster nodded and was about to speak when TJ said “Okay, hope she’s doing well.” to which Isaac just nodded. Foster gave TJ a curious look as the pair continued across the bridge.


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5121 on: February 06, 2019, 06:54:26 am »
A van and a truck rolled along towards the refugee center according to the speed limit on a bullet riddled sign. The van and truck belonged to one of the centers scav crews, and they had a good reason for paying heed to the archaic signs directive. In the post cataclysm world, such signs were just quaint reminders of a world gone by. Not much more than a target for traveling survivors to blast away at. The scav crew followed the speed limit out of a need to seem normal. They were being followed. The pair of buses following them moved along steadily behind, just out of sight usually but occasionally coming into view. Public transport buses overloaded with people and not heavily armored. Gods Army markings had been hastily scraped off or painted over, but it wasn't hard to tell who was in the vehicles. The scav crews had seen the buses first, but the people in the buses had seen them not long after and had begun to follow. One of the scavengers picked up his radio with one trembling hand, too aware that his peers could see the way he was shaking, and pressed the button on the side.

"New Paris, this is scouting party six, we've almost reached the rendezvous point. GA contacts are still following." He said. Those in the truck who had been around for the attack the year before fingered their weapons nervously, but those who had migrated to the Center recently just looked on with interest, confusion, and interest. The radio crackled a simple reply, and the scavenger sent back his own response. Then, to the others, "Sit tight and don't start anything until the cavalry gets here unless these guys come out shooting. You mice get your heads covered. No offense, but these guys get itchy over mutants and we don't want the shit kicking off until we've got support."

As he finished giving his brief instructions, the first of two buses hoved around the bend and came to a stop a mere twenty or thirty feet away and he took note of the front end. From a distance it hadn't been obvious, but now with the vehicle this close, it was obvious. This vehicle had been used as a ram. The other bus pulling in behind it was much the same as well, and both were possessed of flat tires and broken windows. They didn't sound like they were doing too well either, the hissing noise from the lead bus telling the scavenger that the engine wasn't being cooled properly. There was a healthy sounding "swish" and the lead bus disgorged four men. Armed, armored, and looking as nervous as the scavengers felt.

"Eya, you mind awfully calling your uh, leader?" One of them called. The scavenger with the radio took a moment to register the question, then shouted back. "Already done, just... You just stay right where you are, y'hear?" The men from the buses, much to his surprise, stayed where they were and began speaking among themselves.
I'm really just a sexy skeleton in a suit.
Fingering techniques are very important
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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: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5122 on: February 16, 2019, 12:00:56 pm »
(( Written with Salt. ))

To the scav crew, the wait seemed like hours when actually it was only a handful of minutes. Twenty minutes at most. The buses had unloaded their cargo of people, letting those aboard get fresh air and stretch their legs before being ushered back on again. It gave the rest of the fighters a chance to disembark and make the scavengers even more nervous. They didn't show a sign of aggression though. Just looks of fear and suspicion directed at the people they'd been following. The fighters kept their weapons shouldered and passed around cigarettes or lined themselves up along the side of the buses as though waiting for an execution order to be given. When Catalina arrived with her small contingent of last minute fighters, they continued to not make a move.

"They wanna talk Cap'." One of the scavengers said simply when asked about the situation. Captain Sandell looked over the motley crew of possible enemies with a more expert eye than the scavengers. Mooring points on the buses either cut or torn off as through removed in a hurry to make the vehicles lighter. Bullet holes near the bottoms as though someone had been trying to disable them without injuring the occupants. And the tires. Catalina had once seen a troubled recruit who had decided he wasn't down for the army life try to steal a military truck. When he'd hit the checkpoint on his way out of the base, the trucks tires had looked much like the tires of these buses after it had gone over the checkpoint's spike strip. Those that weren't shredded were flat or just about flat.

Catalina nodded at that, looking back over to Nell who'd been directing the rest of the squad, retaining a wary eye. From the look of things, a quick glance over the mangled vehicles at least gave ample reason to believe that it wasn't a trick like they were afraid of. She gave a hand signal to indicate that they'd cleared the vehicles as best as their cursory examination would allow.

"Alright. Tell them we're ready for whoever's in charge here." she said, still marveling to herself at the degree of abuse the vehicles endured. So far the scavengers had given little clue as to what motivated what seemed like a mass defection. Once again making her wish that they had contact with the rest of the Old Guard in Maryland and offshore, especially the handful of defectors that had been sent that way over the years.

One of the scavengers waved to the gathered men, and the first three to disembark broke away from the group. They had been watching and waiting patiently for that signal, the sign that the centers leadership was present and ready to speak. Once they were face to face with Catalina though, the man who seemed to represent them seemed to be having a hard time speaking. One of the other two gave him a light shove.

"C'mon, we didn't come this way for nothing. Swallow your pride already James." He said. The other gave him a glare before looking back to "James" expectantly.

"I'm... I'm gettin' to it, just gimme a sec..." James mumbled. Catalina saw pride in James, pride that was crumbling before her eyes and leaving a man exposed before the people he'd once thought of as the "enemy." Seeing that, she was certain as to what this was about even before he blurted what he said next. "God's Army is dead. The Archbishop... The Archbishop is a monster."

The men to either side of him unslung their weapons, and laid them at Catalina's feet. The other fighters of these people, these refugees, came forward and did the same while James went on. "We're all that's left after the bastards... after his..."

"After his fucking feast!" Someone from the crowd of soldiers shouted. There came a rumble at that, a note of horror tinging it. "He fucking lied to us! He's got his fucking robots now, and he doesn't need any of us anymore. We're just more fucking sheep to that fuckers slaughter!" The crowd was getting agitated now, and Catalina could almost imagine it. The intel Atomos had shared, reports from survivors of raids. The facts of New Bangor fell into place.

Before the crowd could get any more uneasy, James pushed something into her hands and said what Catalina had expected and what he'd had the most trouble getting out. "We... Surrender..." The something he'd handed her was a stack of blue cross patches.

Catalina gave a simple nod of understanding at that, accepting the patches with caution. "It seems we have a lot to talk about, when you're comfortable discussing it, at least." she said, before giving a nod. "We should head inside. Get any injured tended to, interview the civilians you've brought along, discuss what your plan is for now." she answered calmly.

She turned to get back into her jeep and began to signal for her people to move out when a hand found her elbow. At first she suspected some new trick, some treachery, but there wasn't any. She spun back harshly, ready to meet the perceived threat and was stopped by the haunted depth in the mans eyes.

"Are... are you serious? Just like that?" He said. The words dropped like stones from his mouth, "I don't know what to... My... Our people though, you aren't worried about..."

"You're human aren't you?" Nell cut in, "So are we. So are the people living here, even if they look a bit different." Nell glanced at Catalina, and the Captain nodded approvingly. "You aren't beyond scrutiny, don't go around thinking that, but people are people. In times like these, we have to help each other. I'm just sad that it took you this long and going through... whatever happened to you to come around."

James hung his head for a moment and the others couldn't quite see the New Paris representatives face to face, then he took a deep breath and let it out in two words.

"Thank god..."

Hector and Floyd led the way back into the farm, Hector occasionally pointing things out as they passed for Branches' benefit, in particular as they passed by the forge area. That the main opening in Walkerville's palisade took visitors right past the forge area was evident. While being able to observe people coming and going while working on smithing was one side benefit, and perhaps he enjoyed having his smithing be readily visible, the real reason it was still there was simply due to that being more or less the same area it was back when it was tucked away in the old barn, now a distant memory.

Branches ogled the large silvery birch beyond the forge before taking note of the work area itself. Despite having all the equipment needed at a new forge Catnip had set up for him, Hector still preferred the equipment set out near the entrance. For one dreamy moment, Branches could imagine the knight standing at the anvil under the simple cover, hammering away at some bit of hot metal. Sweat trickling down his brow in the heat. She shook her head to clear the strange thoughts, and none too soon. While Hector pointed out the cook shack and Floyd stepped away to deal with a trio of people finishing off hauling furniture into his newly built house, something black and white stumble staggered over to her to fall at the homunculus's feet in a pile of arms, silk, and teeth.

"SSSsssSSS! Dirty one eyes! Smells like mud and earths and green things! Eh? Little tur-nup will be My-ka's friend yes?" Mica hissed, uncharacteristically friendly. She'd seen Branches approaching with the others, and something about the girl appealed to Mica. Perhaps it was the teeth or maybe Branches one eye, reminiscent of Mica's own single "normal" eye. "SssssSSss, what is it? Eh? My-ka can't eat tur-nup, what is it?"

Hector soon turned his attention back to Branches, and went pale at realizing Mica had stumbled out and was now "menacing" the homunculus as best as a pregnant spidergirl covered in silk could. Which still was likely a fair bit. "Easy Mica, this is Branches. She's a visitor here." he explained, stepping forward before offering a gauntleted hand to help Mica back up.

"Bran-chez? Bran-chez? Eh? Tur-nup is Bran-chez? Ssssssss!" Mica hissed. Mica didn't just accept Hector's hand. Of all the residents, only Dee could coax a gesture so simple and gentle out of her. For everyone else, Mica would "climb." A long, web webbed hand snatched Hector's wrist and pulled. There wasn't large amount of strength in the pull but there was weight. A lot of people would have been pulled to the ground but Hector wasn't most people, and so he easily maintained his footing. The next hand came up and grabbed the top of a greave, then a third hand hooked itself over the gorget at his throat while the forth found purchase just below his right pauldron. Floyd broke away from what he was doing rather abruptly to assist, but the spider was already on her feet and looking like some kind of life sucking wraith. The silk in her hair made her look like she was wearing a shredded wedding veil and the whispy gossamer clinging to her clothing brought the "wraith" comparison all together.

"C'mon kiddo," Floyd said, drawling unconsciously, "let the tin can go and we'll go see Dee."

"My-ka don't wanna see lizard!" She barked, "lizard let's My-ka get all tied up and won't help!" She pawed Hector while she spoke and Branches couldn't really tell if she even knew she was doing it or not. Her hands crawled all over the surface of the knights armor, leaving sheets of messy silk that stuck fast. Then, she turned her eyes back on Branches. "Bran-chez will help My-ka yes? Eh?"

"Um... Maybe?" Branches said sheepishly. It seemed that maybe meant yes to Mica, and she gave Hector a gentle push and darted for the Homunculus. The result was that Hector tripped over the iron threads Mica had unknowingly spun around his legs, and he could only get one hand free to catch himself. He hit the ground with a crash, and Mica was already wrapping her arms around Branches. In turn, Branches felt instantly sick to her stomach. It felt like she was being drained of something vital, like the spider really was the wraith like creature she appeared to be.

Hector stood his ground even as Mica clambered upright rather than accepting a hand up, likely one of the few who trusted that she wouldn't intentionally attack her, in addition to trusting his armor to hold up to grasping claws that might otherwise slash him up in her attempt to stand. "Easy Mica, you're going to trip yourself u-"

It was then he himself tripped due to the threads increasingly caught on plates and around limbs, the sound being something like a muffled clatter and the subdued shifting of metal on metal as he was left fumbling with trying to untangle himself.

"Where'd she go?" Hector asked, looking around after Floyd finished giving him a few selective dabs with the brush. Mica had seemingly taken off again, satisfied with her assessment of the newcomer and the minor havoc she wreaked with them. Branches sat up with a bit of a wobble and Hector offered her a hand. "Well nevermind. Hm, I don't remember you being so dark before."

"Dark?" Branches asked. She was darker, slightly, and her skin had changed texture somehow. Small lines like the strokes of fingers had formed, and Branches realized with not a little horror that that was exactly what they were. Strokes left by her own fingers while forming her body. Mica's influence had begun to revert the Homunculus back into the soil she was derived from. She was changing back though and before she took Hectors hand (an act that sent a thrill through her) her skin was back to it's porcelain white.

"My eyes are playing tricks on me I guess." Hector said, "My mistake. Where to next Floyd?"


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5123 on: February 20, 2019, 07:41:49 am »
The story was totally familiar by the end of the day. Person after person was led into the office. "My name is so and so, I was a such and such. I put my faith in the Archbishop and we were misled." They told tales of how the big storm came and things had changed. There had been a burst of light in the eye of the hurricane, and when the storm ended the Archbishop had begun gathering people up. slowly at first, then with increasing frequency. Again, something changed. The earth had churned in Abaddon and some ungodly monstrosity, too terrible to look at, had appeared and just as quickly disappeared. When Astor made his next appearance before the gathered people of New Bangor, he had made a terrible proclamation. New Bangor had been undermined. Corrupted by body corrupters and demons. New Bangor would be purged of it's corruption.

On the first day, fifty three people had been purged and on the second another forty. Then on the third Astor robbed his followers of over a hundred people. It was decided that the remaining would flee. Many had already done so, it would be simple if they all left at once. There would be no one to come after them if they all went together. If they stayed, they would surely die. Astor was a monster, and the robots of God's Army were in service to him alone. They'd started with seven buses, Catalina had only seen the two that made it. The others had broken down or been destroyed. In all, maybe seventy people or so had made it this far.

Catalina and the others assigned to assist in processing gave her reassurances that they wouldn't be harmed. Yes, they'd be watched closely and yes, they would probably be looked on negatively at first. If they had anything that would mark them out as God's Army, they were to turn such things in or keep them hidden. They could stay so long as they did their part.

"Okay," Nell sighed, "That's the last of them. What do you make of all that Captain?" Larion slipped out and closed the door behind him with a perfunctory farewell.

"It sounds like a clusterfuck." Catalina said, "I'm not entirely sure what to make of it yet, but we will have to see what comes of it. It all matches up with some of Jennifer's reports... If you want to take a look at that Nell, go ahead and ask Jenny if you can. Just don't spread it around too much."

"Speaking of Captain... How do you think Jenny is going to take this?"

"She'll be fine." Catalina replied, casually filing away her collection of reports, "Maybe she'll recognize some... Oh."

Jennifer wasn't fine. Jennifer was alarmed. She had just finished her second helping of fries when the first of the New Bangor refugees nervously filed into the cafeteria and took up a position against the wall. Standing against it with their hands behind their backs and glancing around the large room like harried animals. Other people walked past them like they were just more survivors, but Jennifer knew. More people trickled in and she recognized some of them. What had her alarmed was the idea that they would recognize her. Sure enough though, someone did.

"You're a mutant!?" A man hissed, dropping himself in the chair next to and badly startling her. He was tall, old, and a bit scruffy with the perpetual five o' clock shadow and swept back short hair unique to a certain class of late middle aged working man. Jennifer recognized him as the man who ran the bar in New Bangor where she'd spent time collecting information and sharing half true stories of her own. "I'd like to say I feel betrayed."

"I have no idea what you are talking about." Jennifer said stiffly, "What are you people doing here?"

"Sure you do, and I could ask you the same thing. I don't have to though because you're a mutant, and of course you're here since that's the case. What were you doing in New Bangor?"

"Spying." Jennifer said simply. The old barman nodded solemnly. She'd spent plenty of time in the bar and that made sense to him. What better place to keep your ear to the ground than the bar? He hadn't come to indict the woman, he had questions and just maybe she could be a 'friendly' in to this place. Someone who could vouch for them, so long as she could be convinced. The silence between them stretched out to an uncomfortable degree, but no one noticed besides him. The people standing against the wall started to disperse among the tables now, seemingly emboldened by the barman's initiative. Jennifer was glaring at him, and it took him a moment to notice. "You didn't answer my question."

"New Bangor's full of mind controlled undead, devil hunters, and especially robots. The Archbishop started making all the humans disappear..." He told her flatly. Then his lips quivered almost imperceptibly and added, "They took Madaline." Jennifer had to rake her memory for the name and came up with the face of the friendly chubby woman who'd gone from table to table refilling mugs and offering bread or salted mystery meat. She'd had doughy eye's and a pretty face. Jennifer had once noted off handedly how the barman and the barmaid often had their eyes drawn to one another when the other wasn't looking. "These people, the regular folk, have nothing to be afraid of." He went on suddenly steering the conversation away from this subject, "They were just people huddling together against what the world has become. A whole lot of terrified people sticking together for protection. They've got nothing to be afraid of from this place I mean. But them, the fighting men and women who lined themselves up against that wall like a line of criminals in an execution line, they are afraid."

'Of course they were.' Jennifer thought, 'Fighters in the den of the enemy, of course they are.'

"They know what they've done to the people here or people much like them. They don't know if it's safe here for them, if the people here can even forgive them. You understand? It was hard for this people to choose to come here. Some of them are still unsure and some of them just can't let go. I'm a man of the world, I can let go, but in order to get them to do so you have to-"

Jennifer cut him off with finger. "What the hell brought this on? You guys are here for a start, I don't see anybody bullying your people, so what brought this on?"

"I suppose..." He said, "I suppose I'm just preempting."

"Well don't do that. They don't seem to be getting along all that terribly. You could probably tell them to loosen up a bit though." As she said this, she indicated discreetly a nearby table where a woman was sitting stock still and rigid among a group of chattering locals, one of whom sat tall above the others as a prime example of the deeply mutated, a young serpentine woman with a camera and a crayon drawn journalists badge. The newcomer couldn't help but stare at Leslie uncomfortably. It was probably fortunate that it had been that particular mutant, since Leslie could put up with that sort of strange behavior for a long time before losing her cool. Without her armor, Jennifer hadn't recognized her at all until she got a good long look at her face. Cherise Cohen, Templar of the blue flame. One of God's Army's small group of skilled mutant hunters. No wonder she sat so awkwardly. Jenny couldn't help but think that Cherise must have been pissing herself at that moment, but she could see why the barman had seen the need to preempt whatever it was he was preempting. These people knew what they had done and what they were responsible for. The fighters knew well what had happened here little more than a year ago. She thought for a long time, conferring with Cheena. Cheena wasn't having any of it at first. The fox inside Jenny hated these people, but there was a weakness to that hate. For all that had occurred to Cheena and the death wrought upon her skulk, she couldn't force herself to keep on hating. It wasn't a part of her.

"I'm going to go." The Barman said briskly rising from his own seat, "I need to make myself useful I guess."

Jennifer grabbed his elbow, getting a few ideas. "Hold on a second." She instructed. Cheena had reminded her of the little 'job' Jennifer had been planning out, and that she'd likely need more than just the two men she'd already conscripted. "Hey chef!" she called and waited for the chef to emerge from he steaming kitchen, "This guy needs a job, he's got experience pre and post Cataclysm working a bar. You think you have a space for him?"

"Sure thing little lady, always need people to watch the floor and run errands. Can he cook?"

"No," The barman said, "Not well I mean. I can wash a dish though."

Lyle took the barmans details and scuttled back to his kitchen to get him an apron. "In exchange," Jennifer said, "I need you to introduce me to Cherise Cohen, and any of the other fighters you guys brought with you. I'm getting together a group and maybe somebody will want to earn a little redemption."
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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5124 on: February 26, 2019, 06:27:43 pm »
(middle three paragraphs done by a derg)

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

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

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

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

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

Cardin shrugs, his wings mimicking the action, as a response to Solomon's question.  He tosses the used gem, now obviously just a plastic sapphire replica, back onto the table, next to the book.  The avian cheeps quietly before pointing at the book, now flipped onto a completely different page in a language he doesn't recognise.  A few chirps and attempts at charades later, and Cardin just gives up on trying to convey what he was trying to do, his wings fluttering a bit before he settles down again.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2019, 06:52:08 pm by Mrnocamera »


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5125 on: February 27, 2019, 06:50:28 pm »
(( Written with Mrno. ))

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A momentary lesson in mending a disruption that was minor enough it didn't tear a hole in the Veil, and a firm reprimand to be careful and not risk creating a worse one next time.


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5126 on: February 27, 2019, 11:42:34 pm »
Charles examined the helmet he’d already manufactured. It had the space for the new components and already had the inlay to insert the lenses. Setting it back in the metal case he’d retrieved it from Charles put the padlock back in place. Better his companions not know about it yet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The pair nodded in response and decided to peruse some of the books. They needed a bit of a breather anyway,


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5127 on: February 28, 2019, 07:26:45 pm »
(written by derg)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cardin visibly restrains himself from laughing, already clearly having too much fun with this for it to be safe, and pulls his arm back, it coming back through both portals easily enough, and with a satisfying 'pop' that cause both rifts to vanish, seemingly...  Dispelled?  There doesn't seem to be much of a trace that they were even there in the first place, even if the spots were viewed through a mask of insight, although there was still a slight, fuzzy hint of them left behind.


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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5128 on: March 01, 2019, 10:49:23 pm »
[written by a big lizard, a skellyman, and a ball]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Alright," Floyd said decisively, "off to see Catnip and Kathrine then. I won't hear no buts about it. If anybody is gonna lift the mood, it's those two."
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Re: CDDA: Adventures in Cataclysm
« Reply #5129 on: March 06, 2019, 09:33:05 pm »
The day had gone relatively peaceful for Victor. He was currently taking inventory and seeing if the materials he needed for a project in his journal were to be found in his an Helen’s shared arcane storage. Helen was off taking care of some business while Clara had gone off with Christina for some “quality time” in the woods; to each their own he though. Still, things were indeed peaceful right now; furthermore, he had a family, one he now remembered. He had a home, nothing was actively trying to harm his or those he cared about, he had enough resources to pursue his own projects and the general outlook for the future look bright.

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

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

Hello?”, asked Victor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eris wai-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is?

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

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

“Roxanne!”, exclaimed Melody rather exasperated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nah, we don’t want it anymore...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alright, I can respect that...

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

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

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

Just tell her the truth and everything will fall into place. I too will have to let Hector know about this… We’ll see who has more luck in that department.. Anyways, safe travels and see you tomorrow if not sooner.
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Obstruction detected. Composition: Titanium alloy supplemented by photonic resonance barrier. Probability of mission hindrance...0%!

...I wish for airborne rabies.

Granted. A giant box full of bats appears on your doorstep...