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Whitt rolls his eyes. "Sure, I'll play along for a bit. I don't really have a lot else going on, so fire away."
He smiles. "What would you like to know? The location of some School facilities? People on our payroll? How many of the Schoolkids you lot have adopted are actually just spies for the School? You may find I'm a wealth of information, if you can find the right key."
Silas blinked as both Kendall and Gale appeared before him via teleportation. Roxy however laughed.
He rolled his tongue in his mouth and then said. "We're making something, Gale you may understand this quite well... it's to help complete an idea."
He held up the hilt. "I am constructing the sign that I am the Mand'alor."
Roxy whistled up and out popped Bishop. "Get in contact with PEFE, we're gonna need some better space, the 3 of them may cause... problems."
Bishop seemed to panic. "Oh no... not on the wing."
Does PEFE have any empty or spare modules? The Captain is engaging in a science project and pulling more people in, we're going to need some properly reinforced space. Especially if it involves lasers and plasma containment.
Mark, Travis, and Chopper would follow Owen without issue, while Tricky was unable to get over feeling uneasy being underground despite following along closely with Travis. <There's dirt literally everywhere, and most of it doesn't conduct. I almost wish I was back in my pokeball...almost...> She growled lowly, with Travis misunderstanding why.
“It's fine Tricky, I'm sure Owen knows where he's going and has done this plenty of times,” He tried to reassure her to minimal effect.
In response to Owen's question, Mark would answer, “Not particularly, but I'm not complaining if we happen to find any star pieces or comet shards.” Travis would respond, “I'm a fan of valuable stones and other shiny things like anyone else, but I'd rather be looking for more useful elements like copper, gold or even platinum. They're all useful for tech, not to mention some of us would like to pay off our debts and have money left over,”
“I'm sure we'll find something along the way, but treasure-hunting isn't the only reason we're down here. We've got places to go,” Mark reminded the group while Travis cycled through some apps on his poketch before Haxx would play his notification sound and inform everyone, “Update successfully installed! User Travis, I noticed you were developing an application for your poketch to function similarly to an item finder. After scanning through other files throughout your system and your inventory items, I have taken the liberty to upgrade this feature with functions from Dowsing Machines, World Maps, and The Global Trade System for added utility!”
“You've got Artificial Intelligence and Creativity Haxx? That's pretty awesome, if not a little scary...but I suppose now's a good time as any to test out a little program I like to call The Valuable Detector,” Travis mentioned before pushing a few buttons on his Poketch to initiate an upgraded version of the Item Finder that included a small-scale map and a central red dot indicating the user's location. From there, the Valuable Detector would begin sending radar-like signal pulse that would detect any nearby hidden items and show them as blips on a short-range map while distorting the pulse.
Before Kendall could get a word in, Xatu reappeared, made eye contact, and blinked away.
"Okay, Xatu told me everything," he acknowledged. "Though, I'm a bit uncertain how a blade, infused with Aura, would turn black," he muttered.
"This is a trap," R n’ L muttered to the party. "But we don't have much choice, eh."
Kamui hummed in confusion before dismissing her train of thought, pleased to see someone who didn't want her head.
"Yeah, that was a… lengthy affair," Kamui eventually offered. "We're all beat," she realized as her legs began to buckle, adrenaline wearing off.
She eventually fell down, forward, catching herself and pulling herself up to sit. "You a friend of hers? I have some bad news," she said grimly, chuckling.
I dunno about a module, specifically, but we have a laser lab in a bunker you can use. PEFE's ships use lasers and stuff to navigate. Lemme pull a few strings and I should get a one of our underused bunkers ready.
Is this for that Star Wars stuff your trainer's been up to? Say no more.
So, remember that favor you owe me? Time to collect. Can we use the laser lab? And your trainer. He's a whiz at these things, right? Does he have time to work for a project with Asimov's Silas Grant.
Oh, absolutely. Throw in an overtime bonus and consider it done. We'll be there as soon as we can.
A poof happens outside the door, indicating that someone had just arrived. They knock on the door.
Voice: Hello, uh. Is Mr. Grant here?
The voice behind the door has a familiar dorky cadence, but one that lacks a je ne sais quoi that indicates they know they're a dork.
-The blue mech's left ankle and calf crumple as it drops onto the landing pad, causing it to fall over into a heap. Deziree pulls the emergency shutoff key, and the black hole drive fizzles out as the microsingularity is allowed to sputter and disappear under the weight of normal physics. She blasts open the cockpit with a Flash Cannon before floating out and transforming back to human form as she's greeting by an incredibly unwelcome family member.-
Janeway: It's about time you made it. I was beginning to wonder if your timekeeping was as horrendous as your engineering.
Deziree: Get out of my way.
Janeway: I'm sorry, but that's not happening. You see, some of us have our priorities straight when it comes to-
-Deziree, without stopping, shoves Janeway aside with one hand.-
Janeway: Ow! Hey!
-She catches herself, barely keeping from falling, and looks up at her two lackeys.-
Janeway: Don't just stand there, stop her you idiots!
-The two look at each other.-
Chakotay: We're... uh... not allowed to.
Janeway: ... What?
Chakotay: Destroying machinery is one thing, but... touching a Daughter? That's a no-go.
Janeway: Even when the Empress told you to do so?!
Chakotay: She told you. Not us.
-Janeway can feel her blood pressure rise as she storms past her minions to grab Deziree's shoulder.-
-In response, Deziree swings back with haymaker that sends a tooth flying.-
-The bar breaks into applause.-
Coyote: ... Something's not right here. She's blind, but she's not stupid... why would she have one of her coddled meat puppets delay unless...
Stranger: Unless she just needed a moment.
-Coyote jumps out of his skin.-
Coyote: Excuse me?!
-He takes a moment to redress his epidermis as the stranger gives him a wry smile.-
Stranger: I hope you have a potential ace in the hole that can handle direct combat.
Coyote: Uh, yeah? That's what Dune's for!
Stranger: I'm afraid his involvement wouldn't do much against an opponent who can fly and shoot lasers.
Coyote: What, like a Dragon Ball character?
-Coyote's condescension comes to an abrupt halt.-
Coyote: But that would mean Lucre... zi... a...
-The stranger leans in and whispers into his ear.-
Stranger: And this is why we haven't been able to touch her in that pocket dimension of hers. She pays attention.
-Coyote leans back, eyes bugging out at the realization as to who the pink stranger with the feathered boa is.-
Coyote: Madame, I must really insist that you do not use a pseudonym at the guest book.
Stranger: Oh, my deepest apologies, I am not quite fully right in the mind. I only just woke up from a long, long slumber. Quite an exhausting affair, the whole thing was, in truth. But, keep in mind what I said. Ace. In. The. Hole.
-She saunters back to her seat and champagne flute as Coyote thinks to the list of backup plans that aren't currently off on some misadventure or another and one particular detail hits him like a ton of bricks.-
-Ludmilla wouldn't mind giving him up for all of a day or two, right?-
Oh, that? Even more expansive, more than Nine Realms in the boughs and roots of the Entree and the pocket realms between, more as many realms as there are stars in the sky.
Dactyl: -Upon seeing us- <...Sorry, Chiyo's not accepting visitors right now.>
She's gotta see someone, Nicky and Kendra told me she's not even talking to them right now. Has she even eaten, apart from when we slip food in?
Dactyl: -Floating slightly ajar- <...You can go in, Tagg, but they have to stay out here.>
-To Apple-A-Day and Percy-
Guess you'll be listening in, if that's okay with Dactyl?
Dactyl: -Floats up and down in the Minior equivalent of a nod-
-they glance at Percy-
Percy: Works for me.
Apple-A-Day: Of course!
-Upon entering the first thing I notice is Chiyo, her hair undone and looking disheveled, curled up while holding Ceres. The second would be the light revealing the barrier separating Chiyo's section of the room from everything else-
Chiyo: -Looking up from her side of the barrier with a clipped tone as our eyes meet- I thought I told Dactyl not to let anyone in.
-Noting that the air of the immediate area in front of the barrier feels warm-
I feel like touching the barrier would probably be a very bad idea.
...Well, someone had to check on you.
Chiyo: -Unimpressed- I don't want to be checked on, I just want to be alone. 😒
-Stepping pretty close to the barrier but not even bothering to try breaking it-
It's been around two weeks, we're all worried, neither Dactyl or the Stormchaser wouldn't have let me in otherwise. You'd probably be skin and bones if we didn't make sure to sneak you something.
Chiyo: -Glaring- I could just push you out.
...But will you?
We're supposed to take care of one another, we promised ourselves that.
Chiyo: -Sighs- You know Tagg, when despite my hatred of needles and jealous guarding of my genetic material we went to that island base of yours, gave the PEFE my blood, and they synthesized those pills, despite my misgivings I actually had hope that this would lead to something good.
Sure, they said it wasn't exactly a cure, that even if it did work according to their calculations it would just halt and treat the progression, at least it would buy us time to make the real cure and give Vana more time to live.
-Gritting her teeth-
-Knocking a fist against the barrier-
But then lo and behold, we were too fucking late and Vana died just a week after we'd gotten the pills, yet another casualty of the School making us to break.
When Curium died of that GI cancer, because they do things to our digestive tracks to make it harder to survive outside, and unlike me she wasn't lucky enough to avoid the worst of it, I was there during her final moments. With Vana, I didn't even get to be there when she died.
-Angrily, as the barrier starts forming spikes-
Curium at least had a decade, Vana barely had a year! Even for us, that's short, she never really even had time to live.
-Barrier disappearing, her back to me-
Maybe Chloe was right, that we're just wasting our time if we think we can beat the School if we can't even save one kid from dying. You and I together, it gave me hope, but right now it's feeling more like a mirage.
Just... what are we going to do now Tagg?
I get it, it sucks, truly, but we can only move forward.
Chiyo: -Glaring, slightly accusatory- Sure Tagg you can say that, you and the other born humans have all the time in the world if you don't have something wrong with you, but so many of us don't get that time, if we're not culled by the Templars first. So don't act as if you can understand!
-As for Percy and AAD, while they can see what's going on, it's at enough of an angle that Chiyo can't see them due to the person standing in front of her-
Edited by rmctagg09 on Oct 12th 2022 at 10:03:53 AM
-Apple-A-Day looks at Percy-
Percy: (calmly) We aren't built to last. Sometimes we get lucky. Sometimes—
-she taps her chest with her cane-
We have our own ways of managing. You don't have to worry about me.
Percy: Or, you know, maybe you do. But not for that reason.
Apple-A-Day: Okay, good.
Apple-A-Day: Is that how you think of us? Born humans?
Percy: -shrug- When I'm feeling especially bitter. I can revive the dead with my mind, you have childhood memories. It sort of evens out.
-Logan politely smiles in turn, warmth diluted by a hint of worry-
Logan: Oh, no worries! I know how it gets. Just, uh...take care of yourself? Hoping for good outcomes.
-they press a bit more levity into their grin for Adelinde's benefit...-
-and manage to keep it up for about thirty seconds after Adelinde leaves-
Addie: -in the same tone- <Yeah?>
Logan: -tapping their fingers together- I really hope that business meeting's nothing that serious.
-Logan orders a piping-hot coffee to go, thumbing through the settings on their Styler-
-Ramona immediately stops thinking about whatever it was she wasn't thinking about to give her full attention to this-
-she strides forward to ascertain—yes, the pen did end up at a different trajectory than the one it started with-
-she turns to Neo, the warm glow of approval writ large on her face...mask-
Ramona: ~Haha, there you go! I knew you had it in you.~
-she gets down as far as she needs to to be level with Neo, which is...not at all-
Ramona: ~This is a good sign, okay? A good sign—but don't let up. It's nose-to-the-millstone time until you excel at this -(boring)- test, yeah? And then we relax.~
-she gives Neo a good pat on the head before turning to PEFE!Every to compare notes and-
-...her face does not fall; she has extensive experience not letting it-
Ribot: -to Neo and Didit- ~Ah, the occupation dance. Don't mind me, just floating by—might I suggest something using that pen? Importance is where you look for it, I find.~
Ramona: -to PEFE!Every, privately- ~Sit back. If there's something you need to tell me, just think it.~
~Decrease the dosage incrementally. Push the bar higher. She needs to break those pathways in if she's going to be strong enough in time.~
-where Ramona was tense around Celeste, she's oddly lax with PEFE!Every—she hands her cues and snippets of memory like she'll know what to do with them, almost on instinct-
Ramona: -fussing- ~If you needed a working knowledge base, you should've told me—I could've gone out and field-stripped some relevant experience.~
-and that's a low enough guard to see this is easily the antsiest she's been, immaculate body language aside-
Ramona: ~Placebo effect is good. Belief that a Psychic can do a thing is the first thing you go for if you want to adjust it...but they screen for this sort of thing, in the trials and after. With their standards, you don't want to be reliant on medicine for what they throw at you.~
-aspirin, for arthritis...-
-Chansey eggstract, for fatigue...-
-zolpidem in a pinch for long nights-
-Haru unloads his bounty, Rhoda familiar enough to recognize the rattle of each by ear-
-that was her, even then: little old lady...Rhoda, tired eyes in a young face-
-crotchety, sardonic, finicky and cynical to a fault...-
-and this man had the nerve to like her for it-
-...oh, he may get a kick out of this-
Rhoda: -chuckle- Melinda at the farmers' market thinks I'm a [cougar].
Haru: -pausing- Oh?
-she can feel the worry in his voice-
-that won't do, this is a funny story. she's being funny-
Rhoda: -grinning a crone's grin, full of perfect teeth- She asked for tips on wooing a fine young man such as yourself. Wondered how I had you wrapped around my little finger—or if there's an inheritance, waiting in the wings...?
-she sets her crochet aside to listen to him cogitate, mouth moving silently-
Haru: -turning back to his bags, continuing to unload- Next time you see her, let her know I'm sprightly for my age.
-and they think he's slow-
Rhoda: Oh, you.
Haru: I am! See this gray hair—there should be five. Er, fifty.
Rhoda: A silver Vulp.
Haru: The men in my family always age well. I'm decrepit by comparison.
Rhoda: -murmur- Cutting their teeth on their coworkers' dreams? You haven't drank working-class blood in a while, you poor thing. Feeling rough?
-it's easy to picture the smile lines in his round face-
Haru: -coming up- Wasting away.
-he rests his arms about her shoulders, pressing against the back of her fully-silver head-
Haru: ...is it time for Haru and Rhoda [n] to retire?
Murkrow: -peers at his face, into warm brown eyes-
-never took much convincing to skip town, did he?-
-once upon a time, she'd be insisting with him—bags packed, fires set, first train as far and fast as it comes, to outrun the terror nipping at their heels-
-now, the thought only makes her tired-
Rhoda: -murmur- Hearthome is a beautiful city.
-she feels him smile, despite his best efforts-
-because it is-
-the Starly singing outside, the Contestants strutting to and fro with their favorite mon and latest Accessory, even the odd Ghost playing pranks on tourists livening up the place-
-those tickets he's pretending he doesn't know she's pretending she doesn't know about, tucked away in the side of the dresser-
-she can feel how he loves it here-
Rhoda: -reaching up, cupping the side of his face- ...I might be up for a stroll today after all. Melinda won't shut up about Amity Square's new fountains.
Haru: ...neither Murkrow nor Igglybuff are among the list of permitted species.
Rhoda: -whispering up, conspiratorially- I've always hated that rule.
-his joy is a bright flare in the head behind her-
-...his hand finds hers, and yet again, they're a veritable pretzel—it's all they can do to keep from laughing-
Haru: ...to not doing as we're told?
-from the tangle, he holds out his pinky-
Rhoda: ...not doing as we're told.
-and she curls hers around his, with her third fully sincere smile of the evening-
-it's a silly little ritual, a relic between a skittish, punch-happy runaway and a strung-out, easily-bruised college dropout with the kindest face she'll ever know-
-back when they looked the same age-
Haru: ...ah, let me get dinner on the stove.
-that's less of a relic, and has her pressing a kiss of her own to the back of his hand-
Bibarel: <Do they ever give it a rest?>
Mightyena: -snort- <Grumpig may fly and Bronzor may fall, and then they'll exit their Cresselia phase, stage left. And on that day I will eat you.>
Bibarel: <Bite me, Lady.>
-they both trod to the kitchen, bickering through setting the table-
To: O Cap'n My Cap'n
Megan's got experience with both magic- and science-based engineering, but she's a little...
Not collab safe atm. ^^;
-Deziree, hauling back to kick the downed Janeway with as heavy a kick as she could muster, is interrupted by the entire free-floating command core shaking violently.-
Deziree: Oh, what now?!
Lucrezia: Normally, there are only twenty daughters per generation...
-She drags a finger across the glass of the display.-
Lucrezia: But sometimes... rules must be broken.
-Her finger traces to a button at the bottom labeled: "Emergency Release". She hits it without hesitation as the screen flashes from green to red as all of the internal inhibitors release and the anesthetic is purged from the tank.-
Janeway: You mean, this isn't one of your explosives?!
Deziree: Do I look like I've got the patience for explosives right now?!
-The door to the command core opens, slowly but surely.-
-Deziree's indignance at Janeway is quickly forgotten as she realizes who she's looking at.-
-But with white hair.-
-And bright, blazing, purple eyes.-
-The golden bracelet on her arm shines for a moment.-
-And in the doppelganger's place is a silver-white and hepatizon Magnezone, pulsing energy that is unmistakably psychic in nature.-
She made a clone?!
A super-powered clone?!
But how? There's no way you can just do that!
-Several puzzle pieces fall together in Coyote's brain.-
Coyote: Oh balls.
-Ludmilla isn't even surprised by the shadow zipping out from behind her bed.-
Ludmilla: What do you want now, Coyo-
-She's pulled from her book and spun around by the shoulders.-
Coyote: I. NEED. YOUR. MALAMAR.
-Ludmilla blinks in surprise as she holds up Mao's Great Ball.-
-Coyote snatches it away and disappears back into the shadows of the bed, a note with the letters I.O.U. left in the Pokeball's place.-
Ludmilla: ... Well that was fucking weird!
Doomsday: <Ludmilla, language!>
Ludmilla: Well it was!
-Lucrezia's voice cackles from a hidden speaker.-
Lucrezia: Go, Daughter 21! Crush your worthless sisters!
Janeway: Wait, sisters?!
Lucrezia: I have little need for a daughter who loses a tooth from a simple catfight.
-Deziree weighs her options.-
-She finds them... well, "light" would be putting it mildly. A closer descriptor would be "anorexic".-
-As the Delta(?) Magnezone approaches, though, Deziree feels a familiar sense of... Topsy-Turvy.-
-Intercepting the Magnezone is a lance of purple and black, with a shock of pink at its center.-
Mao: <Now, now...>
-The Malamar, psychic-obscura buzzsaws revving and grinding around his tentacles, turns to slowly face the cloned Magnezone.-
Mao: <Scientific discussion is so much more engaging when done by equals, yes?>
-The Magnezone blasts him with a Psybeam.-
-He doesn't even deign to fake a wince in response.-
Mao: <No, no illusion here.>
Mao: <Come on, then.>
-They lunge at each other with Psycho Cuts, the scything edges giving a pseudo-metallic clang as they meet.-
Deziree: ... Mao?
deziree: ... Why?
-He barely dodges a Flash Cannon aimed at his feet.-
Mao: <But I like it.>
-He responds by reversing gravity, allowing for a "dropkick" Payback that knocks the Delta(?) Magnezone skyward.-
-Mao himself soon follows, and the two begin trading blows as only two, gravity-defying psychics can.-
Ama: "... I'm surprised they're not watching you every second of the day."
Strontium: ~They've been... trying... a more hands-off... approach... for my batch...~
Strontium's pauses are punctuated with her throwing small constructs at Ama, who is easily deflecting them with obscura augmented hands.
Ama: "I know this is easy for me to say, but try to make your blows less predictable. You pause when you're about to strike, it's an easy tell."
She quiets a little bit and focuses. The psychic onslaught quickens for a few moments, but she seems to lose steam fast.
Ama: "Your form is good, but I think your biggest problem is that you're too straightforward. Your illusions may be different from mine, but predictability is a common problem we both face. Try to rely less on physical attacks."
Strontium dismisses most of her knives, instead focusing on one in her hand. Her attacks slow as she considers her opponent.
Ama: "'Straightforward' is a word for people who can afford overwhelming force. If you're anything like I was pre-vampirism, you can't. Play mind games. Be a nuisance. Trick people into thinking you have more resources than you do."
Almost on cue, Strontium summons up a volley of knives that fly at Ama from all directions. Ama doesn't so much as move while all of them pass through her harmlessly.
Ama: "Well, like that I suppose. I imagine they may have built you with more 'resources' than I have though, right?"
Strontium breathes in and lunges with her construct knife. Ama deflects it again, only to find it dispersing into glowing particles. Before Ama can react properly, Strontium slices up with a second construct in her off hand, straight into Ama's chest-
-which promptly disperses into obscura smoke. Strontium looks around. Too late, she realizes Ama is behind her- and when she turns Ama has a punch aimed right at her face.
...Ama brings her hand to a stop millimeters before the blow hits. Strontium doesn't so much as blink or flinch, but concedes her loss through body language.
Ama: "... Good start, but try not to put what I say into practice right after I say it."
Ama pats her on the head and goes to sit down.
Strontium looks to be pouting, a gesture surprisingly appropriate to her (apparent) age.
Kaden: <She's getting attached isn't she.>
Akira: -snorting- <Oh no question. She'd never admit it though.>
Ama: "I can hear both of you."
-Deziree watches as psychic blades scythe left and right across the Mountain's central cavity.-
-Then she realizes that the weird psychic clone left the door to the control core open.-
-She bolts towards door as fast as her legs will take her, until she realizes something.-
-Who was sweating, and why do they smell so good?-
-Garuda, dodging the collateral of the psychic clash overhead, swings down and Dune drops off.-
-The two rush at each other before colliding into a hug hard enough to knock the breath out of both of them.-
-They don't say a word. They just hold each other, content in each others' arms.-
-And then Deziree remembers the door.-
Deziree: Wait shit-
-She turns to the door to see...-
Deziree: Oh goddammit.
-The purple-haired Deziree clone laughs.-
Pandora: Aaaaaaahahahahahahaha! Be thankful, weakling, that you did not blindly rush straight into me, for I am Pandora, Princess of Chaos!
Wow, she must have really like Deziree's genes.
Coyote: Oh come on.
-A hand rests on Coyote's shoulder again.-
Stranger: No worries, little storyteller.
-She starts twirling her finger, as if spinning a thread.-
Stranger: This one's on the house. A little trick I learned from the dear old Great One.
-A red thread twirls from the thin air around her finger and seems to curl into the icy display.-
-Dune's eyes are less taken by the purple-haired, loud-mouthed clone of his wife and more with the strange red thread that no one else seems to notice coiling around said clone's wrist.-
Pandora: This world will tremble before my thunderous might! Behold!
-Lightning shoots from her fingers, though with a distinctive purple hue - Dune quickly surmised it must have been some sort of electrokinesis rather than true lightning control.-
-Which then raised the question of where he had seen something like that before.-
-He did not have long to ponder, however, as the red string drew taut around Pandora's wrist, and the line extending from it flew forward before...-
Deziree: What the hell?
Dune: What the fuck?
Pandora: What the helling fuck?!
-With a rip and a tear, a near mimic of an Ultra Portal opens up not two inches above the control core's outer platform, and a familiar, yet wholly unfamiliar cheer of joy comes through it as someone jumps out.-
Dune(?): TREMBLE, SERVANTS OF EVIL! BECAUSE THE BEARER OF THE EYE OF JUSTICE AND TRUE PROTECTOR OF ALL OF ORRE IS HERE! THEEEEEEEEEEEEE DUNINATOR!
-Wearing an eyepatch and wielding a massive two-handed cleaver sword, aside from the odd (and obviously dyed) hairstyle and massively different sense of style, both Dune and Deziree immediately identify him as one of Dune's alternate versions.-
Duninator: NOW... uh...
-He looks around.-
Duninator: Who am I supposed to be fighting?
-Dune, who is very, very grateful that he goggles protect his identity somewhat, just kind of points at Pandora.-
Duninator: Who, her?
-Pandora recomposes herself and wipes away something that was running down her chin as she points at the eye-patched Dunnelganger.-
Pandora: That's right, "Eye of Justice"! I am Pandora, Queen of Chaos! And you, and everyone else in this world, will be bowing before me before year's end!
-The alternative Dune gets a look in his eye not dissimilar to the one our original gets when threatened with a good time.-
Duninator: We'll see about that! I eat Chaos for breakfast!
-Pandora's face goes from mostly composed to an absolute blushing mess as the innuendo hits her like a ton of bricks.-
Pandora: STOP SAYING STUFF LIKE THAT!
-Dune and Deziree share a knowing look before they quietly begin making their way around the bantering Hero and Villain.-
Duninator: What? What'd I say?
Pandora: Just- Just stop talking and fight me!
Duninator: But we can't possibly start fighting without a pre-fight warmup!
Pandora: Oh my gosh YOU'RE DOING THIS ON PURPOSE!
-The Duninator tries his best to keep his cool heroic face up but can't help and allow some confusion through.-
Duninator: Alright, if you say so! I hope you like it rough, then!
Pandora: OH MY GOSH!
-Her indignancy at its peak, Pandora fires a full lightning bolt straight at the Duninator, with the arcing energy being consumed by his cleaver of a sword being planted into the control core platform, grounding the charge into the rest of the superstructure.-
Duninator: Now THIS is what I'm talking about!
Pandora: PLEASE STOP TALKING IN GENERAL!
-Dune and Deziree slip inside with no further issue.-
Coyote: You learned how to open Ultra Portals?
Stranger: Only when Palkia isn't looking, and only when I can justify it within my purview. Otherwise nothing happens.
Coyote: So... that was a gamble, then.
Stranger: Love is a gamble, darling. All you need to do is learn how to count the cards.
Rory punched the dashboard, Nico nearly jumped. "Can ya not hurt my van!"
Rory shot her a look. "It's my van, I paid for it."
"Listen long as you and I are workin' together and I'm fixing your fancy toys. Best to just call it mine."
Rory rolled his eyes as they rode. Dante and Vergil in the back playing chess... despite Vergil being an expert player, he was still confused as to how Dante was winning. Rory flexed the fingers of his prosthetic hand and looked to his pokemon.
"So what happened out there?" Nico asked.
"Saw an old bastard, relating to me."
"What yer dad or something?"
The glare Rory gave her could have soured milk in an instant. "Whoa... touchy subject?"
"Ever wonder why I never talk about my childhood?"
Nico shrugged. "Well quite frankly we don' talk much at all. My dad for all I know may have been a evil bug man. He wasn't but... still."
Rory leaned back in his seat. "Well that's just because I literally with the original definition of that word, didn't have one."
Nico blinked. "Like... what were ya a test tube clone baby?"
Rory let out a laugh. "Oh, yeah no."
"That implies an incubator, yeah no I was just vacuum formed."
Nico was staring again and stopped the van. "I'm sorry, the fuck?!"
"I'll explain along the way, I got my ass kicked and the guy responsible had big bastard toys to do it."
Rory pulled out his phone and started to scroll through it. He looked at the contact listing and sighed... "I'll cross that bridge later."
Beck: Thank you for being so, errr... compliant. We'll be the judge of that.
Hemo, meanwhile, tries to get a read on him. Behind the glass were two Kadabras doing the same thing.
Beck: A bit of formal introductions might be in order. My name is Sterling Beckett, on-site security liaison for the Stormchaser. And this is my associate, Stewart. I hear you Templar types deign to call these "truants" of yours by their names, but we here at PEFE are of a different breed. None of that shadow government nonsense that treats humans worse than livestock.
Stewart casually listens in, tuning into the next words that Whitt would say. He does feel a strange presence in the room that is neither any of them nor the staff members currently outside. It wasn't a fearful aura, though it was also hard to describe.
Beck: So, does our big bad templar who tries too hard to sell that edgy kewl nonsense have a name? Tell us more about yourself, and more about who sent you. Stewie here might not be from the same facility, but he'll be on hand to fact check.
A staff member arrives with cart. On it were a sinistea and a few tea cups.
Beck: Oh, thank you, Minerva.
Minerva: No problem. Your father sends his complements.
Minerva exits, while flirtatiously waving to a rather bashful Stewart. Beck, meanwhile, turns his attention back to Whitt.
Beck: Of course, you might be parched. My father's sinistea Freddie makes the best brew back home. I'd rather take it hot, but it's also apparently good even when it's cold. Enjoy.
Freddie: <Ooooh I love to make teaaaaaa.!>
The sinistea pours a cup, which Stewart carefully brings in toward Whitt.
-To the others-
I suppose we shouldn't keep them waiting.
-There's a couple seconds of pregnant silence between us before Chiyo's face softens-
Chiyo: ...I'm sorry Tagg, I'm not blaming you for this. It's just...
For years, for decades, for centuries, so many of us are made, only to be discarded once we've outlived our usefulness. Or if we're "lucky" enough to impress the scientists, we're chosen to be Alumni and remain slaves of the School until death.
-Glaring at one of the walls-
Or if we manage to escape, then it's always looking behind your back for Templars, Alumni, and other, more subtle School agents. You already know, they'll stop at nothing to get what they want, no lines they aren't willing to cross if they think it'll get them closer to their goals. After I met you, I met a couple that were willing to let a runaway stay with them, let myself believe I could have a family I could stay with.
I went out one day, and while I was out a Templar murdered them because they wouldn't give me up.
Chiyo: That's when I knew, us parting ways beforehand back then was for the better, I didn't need your death on my conscience too, one of the folks responsible for giving me a chance to even be here today.
-Forming a disc between her hands-
You know how I learned how to make these, Tagg? When I found the Templar standing over their bodies, taunting me for not covering my tracks? I sliced them apart, the first time I ever killed anyone, because despite their pretensions the Templars are as much flesh and blood as anyone else, and they underestimated me. But as you know, it was hardly the last.
-Does a humorless chuckle-
I'm lucky, I've killed and maimed so many of the Templars sent after me over the past two decades that until recently they just left me alone because I was deemed too much trouble, when I hadn't managed to make them think I died. But not everyone's got abilities useful for combat like me, and even then I'm hardly flawless.
When Gerald kidnapped Nicky and Kendra last August and placed them aboard that flying train, that was the most frightened I'd ever been in my life since then, I thought there was a chance I'd lose them forever.
-Ceres is let go as Chiyo clenches her fists-
All of us truants, we scrap and beg for every morsel of food or shelter we can find, and it's unfair. Unfair that I have to be prepared to uproot myself at a moment's notice in case the Templars find me again and I need to go on the run. Unfair that my Batchmates have to hide from the world even more than I do. Unfair that Ynos is forced to live with that horrid Macraul woman because he doesn't feel safe enough to leave. Unfair that Curium and now Vana have passed.
And all the while, the people who are responsible for our suffering just get to do whatever they want, unpunished because their greatest weapon, more than their strongest Aurics, is the very levers of civilization itself.
Edited by rmctagg09 on Oct 12th 2022 at 5:59:33 AM
Whitt touches the cup of tea. As he predicts, it almost immediately drops to freezing temperature, and he sighs and takes a sip. "One time, I would have liked it to be warm." At the same time, anyone who is currently attempting to probe his mind, at least for now, would only see a looping memory of Ferrum eating a taco and spilling part of it.
"Okay, so, first of all, my name is Whitt," he begins. "I'm a templar from the School. Most of my assignments come to me through Doctor Circhester, but sometimes I just go and do stuff on my own. Let's see, what else? My favourite food is mint ice cream, my favourite colour is royal blue, my netflix password is NitrogenSucks, all one word, and my favourite movie is The Ditto." He smiles. "Love horror movies. Seeing all of those humans getting torn apart is just... fun."
He turns his attention back to his interrogators. "And, what was it you said? 'A Shadow government that treats humans worse than livestock?' That's cute, honestly, that you think you're making some kind of point. Thing is, and you'll probably be surprised by this - humans are worse than livestock. I mean, what can they actually do? Sit around, taking the things that the livestock makes, and using it to become fat on their sofas. Humans are weak, pathetic creatures, and should be treated that way."
Whitt smiles. "Oh, and I forgot to mention, I also cook as a hobby. Should have mentioned that sooner."
Edited by theoncominghoop on Aug 23rd 2022 at 10:02:08 AM
Hemo: ~So that's what your knockoff looks like, Stu. He's... think of a version of you without the charisma or anything remotely likeable and gave him a crazed appetite for pork, I would still want to hang out with that guy than him. Can't even eat a taco right... are those carnitas?~
Stewart, mentally: ~I can tell you this much. The School never lost their touch on finding cruel and unusual ways to torture people. Yeah.~
Hemo: ~Fucking sick.~
Beck: Of course, you wouldn't know what it's like... wait, you? Cook?
Beck: What else do you know about your facility? Where are you stationed?
Beck was careful to leaf through his set of questions. There was a lot that the truants themselves could provide. So far, knowing that the pop psychologist he was the least fond of was implicated (no surprise) was all he's had.
The kadabras behind the scenes do their best to muddle both his thoughts and those of the others in the booth and outside it. Notably, the only thing Whitt can mine out of their heads is rather mundane data about their lives.
"Well, as for my facility," Whitt says. "I can't really give you too much on that one, as much as I'd love to. I mean, I want us to build up a trusting relationship, but if I betray the School to that extent then there's absolutely nothing on earth that you guys could do to keep me alive. You know how it is is, Iron."
"And yeah, I cook. You should try my beef stroganoff."
-Neodymium beams, and goes off to play with Didit-
-who gives Ribot a stern look-
Didit: <Occupy yourself somewhere else. We're having a nice moment.>
-PEFE!Every frowns, but goes to sit down-
-her mind is somewhat of a lab. The information that goes in is taken apart, everything neatly sorted and tagged with a complicated system of cross-reference-
-she's a good extra brain-
I have a working knowledge base. I've been a scientist longer than you've been alive. It's your knowledge base that's not up to code— I've exhausted it and I'm turning to other options.
Sorry about snapping. Thank you for warning me about the screens. I have a few more ideas.
Are you alright? You seem perturbed.
Percy: ...I mean, she isn't wrong.
Apple-A-Day: ...What did you do, before we met?
Percy: Stayed at Pokemon Centers, mostly. Gave about fifty different fake names. Eventually I met Totentanz and she sort of saved my life.
I thought I'd gotten free and clear. I guess I was fooling myself.
Apple-A-Day: Did you ever...I mean...
Percy: Kill someone.
Percy: Sure, yeah. A few Templars when I was getting out. Would've done the same to Adelinde if I could've.
This world is unfair, and not just because of the School, but bear with me, it might be a bit of a ramble.
Chiyo: -Nods- Alright...
The first time I ever killed something, someone that wasn't like subsistence hunting... it was before the J-Team, or even the PEFE, I was 15 and... there was a poacher I stumbled upon who attacked me.
-Twitchy as the memories come back-
He was just about to kill me when I managed to grab a rock and hit him in the side of the head and then I... kept hitting him till the rock was covered in his blood. Then I threw up.
I've never told anyone about that, anyone human anyway, not the other Founders, not Maggie or Ever, nor Pef, or my blood family. Not even Sol and Channah, even though I know they hardly judge me for it. Sol especially, if you knew what she got up to before we met. You know what it's like over here, to kill someone, even in self-defense, is about the same as if I'd robbed and murdered him myself unless my case was really iron-clad. So I shut up about it.
Just like I shut up about what happened in the Under when I was 13, when I witnessed those murders by Cipher and had to run from getting murdered myself. That's when I really started calling myself "Tagg" on the regular, helped separate me from who I was before then.
But the difference between us was I basically exiled myself by my own choices, I didn't have to worry about an enemy behind every blade of grass like you guys have.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is, I might not have exactly the same shared experiences as you, your Batchmates, Ludmilla, Mason, Vana, and all the other Schoolfolks I've met and know of, but I want to help, am going to help you all live the lives you ought to be able to live.
Chiyo: -Eyebrow raise- You've already said that before though, you don't need to say it a second time. I already believe you.
-Arms crossed as I take a seat on Chiyo's bed next to her-
I have, yes, but I want to affirm it. World's hard for you guys, will be hard even if we do succeed in defeating the School, but I want you to know I'll stand by you and the other Schoolfolks to the end Chiyo. Not just because of abstract justice and the fact that they'd target us anyway, but because you're my friend. I'd help you even if I didn't know you, even if we didn't have a history, but you're a person right in front of me. Vana's death will actually mean something more than just another of the School's crimes, that I promise.
Chiyo: -Hugs- Thanks.
-Twitches from the sudden touch (And the knowledge that Chiyo is clearly much stronger than you'd expect from a casual look at her) before tentatively embracing back-
...You kinda smell, you know that right?
Chiyo: -Head against my shoulder- Well I haven't exactly been doing much bathing as of late as you might imagine.
Trying to save the world by saving one person Tagg? An admirable trait, but don't run yourself ragged on my account.
You've helped me out twice and yet I feel like I've yet to pay you back.
I'm not counting, this isn't like, a business transaction or something. We're friends after all, aren't we?
Edited by rmctagg09 on Oct 15th 2022 at 1:58:14 PM
The old hag laughs a little, though it quickly lapses into a cough.
"No, no... No friend of hers. I'm just old enough to remember how the four families pulled the village through the long years before the Inheritor's return... And to feel sorry for the state those last children of the families are in..."
The hag glances at the jar before fiddling with the hat again.
"Did always admire her taste in millinery though; hope she will not mind me... Borrowing this. As for you, I suppose you'll be headed back to the village center after that party. Good enough place to figure out next steps as any I suppose."
She laughs a little and begins wandering off into the swamp at a surprising pace for someone who looks so decrepit.
-Rakash nods and sets to the task of scanning for threats as the party progresses through the corridor and into the chamber beyond-
Shadow James Crowley: Welcome to the heart of this facility, the real brain center of our operations here at Zagan.
-This chamber is at once both the interior of a brain and the pulsating muscle of a heart, further made unsettling by the pair of giant inverted eyes staring into the space from higher up the walls that follow the group as they enter. The conveyor belt the party had been following enters the room by vaguely where the spine would be and makes a beeline to... The amorphous glowing mass of an unmanifested Treasure that is somehow disgorging nondescript meat onto the conveyor belt-
Shadow James Crowley: And this beauty is what will propel us into a cruelty-free future! Of course, it only exists in two places: This here body'o'mine and some hidden bunker somewhere. But don't worry, intruders, because it's just a matter of time till the contract comes due and we can start manufacturing these babies!
-A laugh resounds almost painfully loudly through the room-
Shadow James Crowley: But of course, not literally manufacturing babies. Those poor misguided fools... Whatever, once I have the schematics they can rot for all I care!
Okay, okay I'm kind of seeing it. I guess my next questions really depend on how you want to run this. Like is this just going to be an Auric Focus that you want to bear a blackened energy like say Obscura would give or... Well, I guess if you're going the whole nine yards here I have a question.
-Gale steps over to the forge and drums a few notes against the plating-
Do you have a Kyber crystal or do you need me to figure out a way to get one?
-Pentigan takes a breath as he continues watching and waiting. Whitt was giving nothing but insults and jokes, utterly useless-
Duck, got systems access?
-His phone screen lit up with that illuminated black as the reply scribed itself-
>Yes, the credentials were solid. Good, on my mark flicker the lights.
-He'd give the legitimate interrogators one more chance to get something useful, then Pentigan would do what he could only describe as 'the Batman thing'-
Tough nut to crack, this one. Stewart doesn't appear surprised at the slightest, while a smirk of irritation appears on Beck's face.
Beck: Stewart, I have to ask. You knew this was going to happen, did you?
Stewart: It's pretty standard Templar stuff. They grow up believing they're hot shit all their lives. There was a u word used to describe people with that sort of delusion.
Stewart: Yeah, that one.
Beck: Are they all like this?
Stewart: Some measure of obnoxious? Yeah, pretty much. It goes with the territory. If they're not actively trying to kill us, they're actively trying to kill us while being colossal tools. Back where I'm from we usually try to return the favor since they're that big of a threat; we've never tried to actually catch one.
"How do we bargain with him," Pondered Beck. Suddenly, it hit him.
Beck: About that... condition of yours. The whole freezing things when you touch them? How does that work?
Stewart: I've been asking that same question all day, too. Like, what in tarnation I thought you Templars aren't supposed to have all the defects we were forced to be born with.
Beck: Being frozen all the time. That's not how humans work the last time I was in a biology class. We're endothermic. We produce heat—constantly. How... how are you not dead? Is that some sort of ice-type genetic wizardry they added into your genetic make-up or something?
Beck and Stewart, simultaneously: You can't turn it off, can you?
They stare at one another.
Hemo: ~You didn't copy him for effect, did you?~
Stewart: ~Yeah, no. That his power seems to be always on has been bugging me since earlier. It's been bugging Mr. Beckett as well when he noticed the tea thing.~
Beck: Has this ever been a problem for you?
Edited by MasterJayAM on Aug 24th 2022 at 8:55:45 AM
Rory sighed and sent a text. He'd need some advice, and this guy was connected to the J-Team. Nico gave him a sympathetic look, understanding how rough it'd be to do this.
"That's the part that gets me, apparently it's part of some old Mandacario ritual, but while I've picked up on the faith I still don't fully get it. I can make medium tools sure but this isn't quite that," Silas told Coder.
To Gale he said. "I think that's what this entire thing is about, making the Kyber Crystal that powers the blade. Hence why I need someone with experience and knowledge in the mystic, who better than the gal who lives and breaths universal truths?"
Roxy scoffed. "Careful there, you have a tendency to get easily attached."
Silas shot Roxy a look, before turning back to the others. "Well, regardless I think-"
There was a knock at the door, Silas blinked, Bishop popped out. "Captain I can handle you, I can handle Megan, I can handle you working with others in the workshop... but the statistical probability of something going wrong is now very high and I do not want that on my ship!"
Silas stared at Bishop. "Uh... Bishop... Reel in the rampancy. Now."
Bishop took a deep inhale and said. "So I contacted PEFE, I got us access to a lab, you will be moving your equipment there. That knock is the PEFE contact most likely."
The door opened at Bishop's command.
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