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Charlotte

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Everything posted by Charlotte

  1. It’s mid afternoon, towards the end of August, in Prince’s Landing, and all was not well. The town has two major means of trade; mining, assisted somewhat with the town’s exoskeleton, a worn-down patched-together not-fit-for-combat suit from the bad times after the coming of the Rifts. It ran on jury-rigged e-clips and would probably disintegrate if you stared at it for too long, but it could break rocks and lift them, and that was enough to get the local zinc vein mined without back breaking labor from the other miners, who mostly ran the less dangerous parts of the job. Except presently it wasn’t enough – the left hip actuator was out and it had been officially deemed unsafe after the last miner to use it had suffered injury. It was currently up on a rack in the foreman’s house in town, and the foreman – a human named William Marks – stared at it a lot before heading off to work, as the town debated who to ask for help: the more open and tolerant Kingsdale that was finding its political fortunes on the wane with consolidation of Coalition strength in the region, or the more prosperous Whykin, which was putting a lot more skulls on its armed forces lately. The other major means of trade was agriculture. Barley was a boring thing to farm, but it paid the bills – and was assisted by the local hedge mage, a demonic-looking woman called Ianoko. She knew one spell expertly, and it was a spell that blessed fertilizer. It was an inglorious spell compared to shooting lightning or fire, but it helped the town immensely. But recently she was attacked on the street by assailants unknown, the one eyewitness saying that they wore makeshift skull masks and shouted phrases like “you’re not pulling your weight” and “go back to your home planet.” Ianoko is expected to fully heal, but as someone who is pacifist even for a d’norr, she was badly shaken by the incident and there’s rumors that she’s considering taking their advice and moving back to the small town in the Federation of Magic that she was born in. Regardless, it’s true that she’s scared to go outside alone. She lives in a modest house on the far end of down, the interior full of strange knickknacks that are nonmagical but of spiritual significance. Finally, in the local watering hole, where they serve surprisingly good beer made from the local crop of barley, some newcomers have drifted in and out of the town. But there’s two regulars: the bartender Grep, a trimadore of nonbinary gender who is a very good listener and answers to “they” and “them,” and a young woman whose stage name is Glitter Girl and dresses in what she calls “Golden Age glam rock” style, and who is always trying to put on some kind of show to lift spirits… … fairly unsuccessfully, since everyone in the town knows things are bad. The local tavern is adjacent to the local flophouse, which is run by a fairly easygoing older man, named Simon - no last name known - who cooks breakfast for everyone staying there. He's not a great cook, but the food is included in lodging, at least, and he's pleasant enough to be around. He gets nervous around weaponry and open displays of psionic or magical power, though, and the hitch in his step combined with the strictness of his routine lead people to believe that he's an ex-military man who has no desire to ever see another firefight up close.
  2. "I think she's eating it," said Tamika, with some disgust. "I think this is part of the xenoforming process - they feed off a planet's magical fields and convert it into... whatever they use to build with and convert things with, that purple stuff. I don't think it's protecting her, though... it's more like a meal than a suit of armor."
  3. Firanis found quite a number of magical trinkets, artifacts, talismans and medallions on the mage, as well as a few notes - stuck together with xiticix resin and requiring BB to pry the book free from the wall. Tamika readied her frozen shotgun in case the rummaging caused the xiticix to attack. "Mages, especially Federation ones, can be sticklers about techniques they've developed. There's a good chance he's the only one who knows." She didn't sound confident, and lamely added, "I think weapons of mass destruction are bad, for the record, whether they open rifts or just make the area radioactive for ten thousand years." Having gotten all they could from the embedded mage, the group took their final turn, and emerged into the queen's domain. The queen was being attended by several drones, as well as a half-a-dozen warrior-caste guards. She had a bulbous membrane around her abdomen, where the eggs were laid from, that was also glowing with a soft purple energy - the faint outlines of what looked like a sword were inside of her. She was secreting some kind of purple mucus - possibly important to the xenoforming process - and it didn't take a large intuitive leap to say that she was feeding off the magic in the sword in her belly to do it. Embedded in the walls was evidence of other, brave - or at least, foolhardy - defenders of Earth that had fallen, their equipment embedded in the walls of the hive. Some standard-issue Wilk's and Northern Gun gear, and what looked like a rickety exoframe for a power armor suit, make unknown. There would be quite a bit of credits in it for them, if they killed the queen and didn't completely obliterate the hive. While the queen was large, she wasn't formidable - there were easily a dozen vulnerable points on her, and striking any one of them would ensure she'd never lay another egg at the least, and would more likely be stone dead. The problem was what to do afterwards, because killing the queen was likely to finally alert the hive as to their presence, precautions or no precautions.
  4. "Aheh. Yes. Yes, it was Tolkeen, wasn't it. No, I knew of him, more than anything. I knew of the dark things they proclaimed they had to do to prevent the fall, and I knew that the fall happened regardless. And all of us devils had nowhere to go. Well, not at first." He coughed, and a little blood dribbled out the sides of the mask. "Oh, if you're about to reach for a medical kit or a healing spell, don't bother. My own magic is currently making sure that my heart stopping isn't as big an issue as it should be, but sooner or later they'll figure out I'm here and extract whatever magic they can. Should have let go long ago, but I wanted to see it. Not many see the inside of a xiticix hive." He rolled his head slightly to look at the others. "Clever of you to figure out how." He coughed again, and there was more blood. "Doesn't matter. The spell works, albeit, not... haha, not as cleanly for the mage casting it as it should be. The Federation's going to love it. Dropping a xiticix hive out of any nearby ley line will do wonders for our reputation. Let the Coalition spend their soldiers and their silly little guns mopping it up. Might lose a few mages, but one mage for an outpost is exactly the kind of arcane calculus they'll love." He chuckled darkly. "They should name it after me. I demand that they - that..." The mage slumped, and spoke no more.
  5. With care, the adventurers made their way inside the hive. Being inside was eerie - the group had plenty of light, and it was fortunate, because nothing inside was built for a creature that relied on eyes. There were some allowances for those that couldn't fly, but not many - tunnels took strange twists and turns and occasionally, the group wound up doubling back. Squidge felt the onset of a slight headache, while Firanis had to occasionally smack the side of the white noise generator. But they made it in far enough that they were reasonably sure that one more turn would take them to the queen's chamber - and with the queen out of action, the xiticix's ability to breed would be nullified. However, a sight at the turn towards the tunnel stopped the group dead - someone, apparently a mage, bedecked in rune-carved composite plate, was somehow embedded in the wall, in what felt like a combination of merging and teleportational accident. Around the edges of the fusion, the group could see the beginnings of the xenomorphing process that the xiticix used to change their environment. The mage himself was semi-conscious, his face hidden behind a ley line walker's mask. He looked up at the approaching group. "Well, well," he said, weakly. His head rolled to the side, looking at Adam (assuming Adam was present.) "Well, well."
  6. As soon as Squidge found the right frequency, the xiticix settled down somewhat. They were agitated - the death-scent still hung in the air - but the various tricks they'd pulled to blind them had paid off. Instead, they began to fan out in a general search pattern, looking for prey that was right under their noses. As they did, the ports and cracks that they used to enter and exit the hive became apparent, as the hunter and warrior bugs flew into and out of them, and the lowly land drones scurried through. It'd take some flight, some climbing, or some athletic skill to get far enough up the side of the hive to access one of the ports, but once inside, finding and killing the queen should be relatively easy...
  7. As the final tweaks on the white noise generator were started, and as Phere's final distrubtion of xiticix scent glands was completed, insectile forms began creeping out of the hive's exit points, their antennae twitching in the air. "Fi..." said Tamika, nervously, as Firanis pushed the button. Instantly, the xiticix looked confused. They took to the air in an erratic pattern, but that pattern was still a pattern. Phere could sense the after-impression of their telekinetic weapons as they were armed. "Squidge..." said Tamika, still nervously, as the catgirl looked to the psychic. "Can you, you know...?"
  8. Charlotte

    OOC: Starfinder Discussion

    So I looked up the rules on upgrading the ship and it turns out that ship upgrades are on a different economy than our personal pay. However, an emergency share of loot is still probably a good idea. That brings me to my question: what're the stats for our ship, and do we get to upgrade anything now that we're level five?
  9. "Sure, now techno-wizardry is a valid approach to engineering," said Tamika with a bit of a smirk as she got to work assisting Firanis. After a few minutes of bickering about whether or not magic was fundamentally opposed to the notion of good engineering or actually vital to it, Tamika had introduced a few boosts to the broadcast range of the jury-rigged radio that Fi was using as a white noise machine, and a short-term psi-booster in the form of a crystal tied to a rubber band, to help Squidge broadcast a telepathic "jamming frequency."
  10. Telepathy would do in a pinch; it might be at a penalty. Also, for clarity's sake: if someone wants to take point on a means of obfuscation - Squidge with psionics, to use the above example - Tamika will step back and use techno-wizardry in an assistance capacity.
  11. Here's the official OOC thread for the game! Now, what I'd like from folks, for easy categorization, is to post your characters in their own individual threads, to make things easier to track.
  12. Phere's expert marksmanship with the rifle, incredibly, landed all four shots on the remaining Xiticix, overpowering their armor and sending them spiraling into the ground. The field was dead quiet for a long moment, the bulk of the hive still about 90 feet out and with no signs of further warriors. Tamika poked her head out of the field, and whistled. "Hell's bells, when you want to fight you don't fuck around, do you." The group was, apparently, free to approach the displaced hive... assuming all the xiticix they'd just fought were all the xiticix there were. This far out, it was tough to tell.
  13. The fleeing xiticix hunter made a sound like a bug getting splatted as BB's pistol cored a hole through it. It went into a tailspin and faceplanted in the middle of the field. Inside the ATV, Tamika was twiddling with a small radio that was studded with crystals and bits of copper wiring. After a long moment, she held it up in triumph. "There we go!" Phere could sense the magic on it, as Tamika extruded some wires from it. "It uses mystical frequencies to cycle through alternate reality layers to find the one where your weapon's at its most idealized form of itself to - " She paused, and began again. "Stick this to a gun to make it shoot better." She held it out to Phere, offering to juice up a weapon. Then she paused, and wrinkled her nose. She looked at Watt, the small furry critter pawing at its nose as if smelling something sharp. "Aw, frig. Okay, that's the pheromone spray that Squidge mentioned. I guess they make that smell when they died, too. The hive's gonna get angry..."
  14. The gathered townspeople reacted in shock as Kensie took her true form. Simon stammered out a few words. "Re-remember what I - " Grep grabbed Simon's shoulder, their burly arm's weight stopping Simon cold. "If she wants to burn down the entire field, what exactly do you plan on doing to stop her? I move we activate the emergency broadcast." Simon fell silent, and the group departed. Those without means of locomotion piles into the Red Rover, with Kinsie flying overhead, her shadow cast over the field. In the distance, the xiticix buzzed over the hive. Transmitted via text, the group could see on the Rambler's communications apparatus, the town's call for help. MAYDAY XITICIX SIGHTING AT PRINCE'S LANDING STATUS OF QUEEN: UNKNOWN REQUEST IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE FROM ANYONE IN RANGE A SEVEN-STRONG LOCAL ATTACK TEAM HAS BEEN ASSEMBLED - DO NOT FIRE UPON THEM Nothing else came from the several tense minutes that followed. At just over a hundred meters out, the defense team of the makeshift hive took to the air, making clicking noises with their alien language. There were a pair of warriors and three hunters, distinguished by the hues of their chitin. Not overwhelming numbers, but if there were reinforcements inside the hive, that could change in a hurry. Just before contact, however, something unexpected happened: a response to the distress signal came through. AN EMERGENCY RELIEF TEAM HAS BEEN RETASKED. THEY WILL ARRIVE VIA LEY LINE TRANSPORT ONCE IN POSITION. HOLD THEM OFF AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. HAVE HOPE. WE'RE COMING TO HELP YOU. The signal was signed "The Tomorrow Legion." No one had heard of it. And no one had time to ponder it, before the Xiticix hunters sighted and opened fire with purple bolts of force from some kind of techno-wizard rifles.
  15. "If you're putting together a posse, hang on - I'll go get my kit." Tamika then ran into the flophouse. As the group prepared to depart, a few of the elders in the town - the foreman William Marks, the old soldier Simon, and the bartender Grep - conferred. After a moment, Simon hobbled over to the group. "We're going to activate a general distress beacon, and then we're going to prepare the residents of the town for evacuation. We hopefully won't have to, but..." He frowned. "If they spread over that field - or if the field needs to be burnt down to stop them - that's our crop for the year destroyed, and the town might as well not exist anymore between that and the problems in the mine. Preparing sooner is better, in case you... well, hopefully it won't come to that. Be as careful with the crops as you can, but no matter what, those things cannot let a queen start breeding. Good hunting." Tamika emerged from the flophouse in scuffed up armor, a leather jacket and a scarf, with a holstered pistol with a flared barrel and resting a shotgun on her shoulder - she also had some kind of device attached to her forearm. Despite herself, she smiled as she fixed her goggles into place. "Ha, suck it, wizard. Once we've blown these things to hell, you're next." Tamika hopped in the back of the Rambler. "Ready when you all are."
  16. Firanis and BB's quick synchronization of the PIP-Boy and BB's internal clock with the computer system aboard the Rambler confirmed that the displacement had been more or less real-time - that they'd been gone for several minutes and that was the amount of time they'd spent wherever they'd gone. Upon seeing that the others were okay, Simon lowered the pistol, visibly relieved. He nodded to Kensie and Adam. "Sorry about that. I see a couple of travelers around here disappear, and after what happened to Ianoko - " "That wasn't us," said Sy, defensively. "Sure it wasn't. And I wasn't talking to you. But glad to see all is well." He shouted at the bar. "They're out here! We found them." Patrons of the bar came out into the street - including Ianoko, who was relieved to see Squidge and Phere okay, and Glitter Girl, who ran straight at Tamika nearly bowling her over with an embrace. Phere's sniff of the air did pick up a trace of something supernatural that wasn't there before, though it was hard to pin down. It smelt a bit like sour milk. As Tamika gently disengaged from Glitter Girl's hug, GeeGee spoke up. "Hey, I checked in your room, and there was this thing going beep-beep in your backpack. I thought it all didn't work any more?" "I thought it - wait, the thing that goes beep-beep? Not the thing that goes ping or the one that makes the clicking sound?" "Yeah. Why?" Tamika swallowed. "It measures - " Tamika was cut off by the sound of a dull thump in the distance, that caused the ground to shake with the impact. From atop the town's walls, a sentry shouted - a d-bee woman with pink skin. "Contact! We've got contact! Mark seven by two!" "She means ten o'clock," said Simon, hobbling towards the sentry tower. "Her people tell time differently. What is it?" "Getting the seefar - sorry, the binoculars now - " The gate was open, and not far from main street; those with the inclination could make it to the gate to see what it was easily. From a distance, it looked like something had fallen out of the sky and landed in the middle of the field of barley. It looked like a giant chunk of purple colored amber. Those with binoculars or optical magnification systems could zoom in and see a disturbing extra detail - the amber, in fact, looked like a broken-off chunk of giant honeycomb, and already scuttling across its surface were insectoid forms - some of which were taking to the air. They didn't seem to be moving towards the town, but once they were in focus, it was apparent what they were. "It came out of the sky," said the sentry, nervously. "Judging by the angle, it - I think it came from the - " "The ley line," finished Tamika, also nervously. "The device that goes beep-beep measures ley line anomalies." The sentry, to her credit, continued to report. "I think it's a chunk of a hive, ripped here from somewhere else. They look like the worldsweepers. Ah, sorry, the - " "The Xiticix," finished Simon, grimly.
  17. The guide turned to Adam. "Well, purposewise, you got me. If I had to guess it'd be that a rift event happened in your timeline and it caused the equivalent of a Fade Effect - hold on, translation says you know them as fade towns, places that flicker between different strata of reality. Why you specifically and no one else is right up there with 'why this town and no other.' Basically, keep an eye out for anything weird when you get back." She shrugged at Kinsie. "Whether you want to go back or not - and I 100% get wanting to stay - the stabilization matrix is gonna send you anyways. It keeps out a lot of random rift events including any that might, say, open to the surface of the sun and scour all life on Earth - that hasn't happened," she added quickly. "Strictly theoretical, like noetic stringlets." With BB, she made an equivocating face. "Well, it's no secret that in your time they're not on the best of terms. But I can't say more than that. I will say, though... they're not the only threats out there. Keep your optics open. There's a number of ancient prophecies out there that the Coalition and the Federation don't play into. They don't all play out the way you might think." With Squidge, she had a reassuring smile. "Oh, I'm reasonably sure you're either destined to go back on your own, or - if you don't - then you're destined to stay here, since time isn't collapsing all around us. Is it? Hang on." She tapped the side of her head, then nodded. "No, time's not collapsing all around us. We're good." With Firanis, she had a disappointed face. "I can't really give you a number. More than a little and less than a lot? It's been a while, since I need a translation spell and all. But I can't be more detailed than that." To Phere, she beamed. "Oh hey! A fellow Sensitive - ah, that's what we call ourselves now. Sure, hold on." She broke off a piece of fruit bar and gave it to Phere. When Phere tasted it, it was sweet and ripe, and reminded her of the sensation of her knife burying itself into a sorcerer. In the back, Tamika spoke up. "I have a question. The gene splicers, the ones doing their experiments all over Europe. What happened to them?" At that, the guide's eyebrows lifted. "Wow, that's... actually a little outside my area of expertise. Well, I couldn't tell you that much about their history, but they're - oh, wait - " The sensation everyone had felt a few minutes ago repeated itself, and suddenly they were back in Prince's Landing, in the middle of the main road, once again unpaved. Everything was back to more or less the way it was before - with the exception of Simon, who was holding an ion pistol of Northern Gun manufacture to Sy's face. Simon was leaning to one side, his prosthetic leg not quite matching his other leg and pulling him to the side, but he still looked ready to shoot. The young man was getting steamed, as was Simon; Trep was clearly trying to defused the situation. "I'll repeat myself," said Simon, all gruff friendliness gone from his face. "I turn my back for a second and those two are gone. What did you have to do with it, skullfucker?" "Call me that one more time, old man. One more time - " Not far away, inside Firanis' red-painted vehicle, a small animal could be heard, making a noise like "fnurf."
  18. "Well, I've no idea what the rest of you want but I'm as curious as a - I'm curious." Tamika made her way outside. The uniformed woman bristled at being called a psi-stalker, but kept it to herself until everyone was assembled. She ate a bit of the fruit bar, which was a deep pink in color - and Phere could sense a small amount of magic radiating from it. The label on the wrapper read "PPE Bar." It was "noonberry flavor," whatever that meant. "Wow," she said, upon seeing the group assembled before her. Then she nodded. "Okay. Wow. All right. Okay, here is the bad news, good news, bad news and good news, in that order. "So the bad news is you have been displaced in time to a future era that you're 100% not going to understand, and you're in a museum dedicated to Prince's Landing and various other historical events I can't tell you the nature of. I help maintain the place because I care a lot about history. This is the closest you're going to get to a place that you'll recognize. If you go outside these walls you'll get future shock and probably an anxiety disorder and that's bad. Sorry." She shrugged, her mouth an askew 'what're you gonna do' frown. "Now, the good news is that unlike temporal and spatial displacements from before the stabilization of the mana fields of Earth, this is a temporary displacement - anything displaced to this era that isn't through stabilized rifts gets detected and sent back to where and when they came from. You might have sensed the stabilization matrix in the air itself. Usually it acts like - hold on, I'm consulting an appropriate period-specific metaphor..." She rubbed her temple, then nodded. "Like a condom that stops sperm - that's you - from getting into a birth canal - that's this era. The rift event that sent you here must have been something else if it broke the metaphorical condom, even for a minute." She nodded, proud of having explained things capably. "Now, the bad news again is, well: you're getting sent back to your era. I've studied that era, and, well, you have my sympathies. I can't keep you here because it would really mess up the timestream, and that's not good. And I can't tell you much about what's going to happen next in your era for the same reason. But if I'm right about where you're from, I imagine it feels like nothing's ever gonna be good ever again. "But the good news is, this era's just as real as your era, and things are gonna be good again. Better than ever before, really, in a lot of ways. People are more inclusive and tolerant; we've mastered magic and technology in ways that let us live in harmony with the world; we still have our problems but I think we're gonna be okay. Like, I pass out at the sight of blood, so in your era I'd have starved to death with no PPE or ISP to feed on, but someone invented a new type of fruit that stores a small mount of PPE - " She pointed to the fruit bar she was eating. "And now I get to be alive and help curate a museum and research history! If I wasn't here you'd be talking to someone else who might not know about history, so hooray for progress." She gave the group a double thumbs up. "So listen, the stabilization matrix is gonna send you back any second now. You might wanna stick out here so there's less chance of you displacing someone when you get back. So if you have any questions, well: you can ask! If it's gonna mess up the timestream I probably won't be able to answer, but you can give it a shot."
  19. Outside the bar, the woman in the uniform stepped closer, and now BB and Firanis could see that she was a psi-stalker - though a far less feral-looking one than most. She was holding up her hands disarmingly. She cocked an eyebrow at BB's antics, then both of her brows shot up upon hearing Firanis mention a Red Rambler. "The Red - oh, wow. Okay, hold on, I'm going to touch the side of my head again, okay? I'm not going to hurt you at all." She then slowly tapped her head again, listening to a voice only she could hear, her eyes unfocused. Then she nodded, tugged at her collar nervously, and started to speak, her voice raised. Inside the bar, Tamika arched one fuzzy eyebrow at Adam. "So, let me get this straight. You think that the curse that was put on me was designed to undo itself? Bloody hell, I wish it were that simple. And if the Federation's mastered time travel then we're all buggered six ways to - we're all in bad shape." Tamika's accent slipped out of the common medley of accents that was common in this part of North America, but she caught herself in time. "No, I just got pulled along with the rest of you cheery folks - " She was interrupted by a voice from outside. "Ah, excuse me? Hi! I know there's at least five of you in there. Listen, I can guarantee if you come out here you won't be harmed. You're probably wondering what's going on, and I can tell you this much: you're completely safe. I have bad news, good news, bad news and then more good news, in that order. If you come out here I'll share it with you all." The message delivered, she turned to BB and Firanis, looking a little flushed. "Whew! Now, I'm going to reach into my pocket and I'm not pulling out a weapon of any kind, all right? I, uh, I have a fruit bar." Off their askance looks, she shrugged. "I'm hungry."
  20. Inside the bar, Tamika's eyes widened, and at first she didn't seem to hear Squidge - but she found herself soon enough, and nodded. "Hi! Hi. Uh. So..." She rubbed the back of her neck, as her tail flicked nervously. "So, here is the thing. I can see the Spectrum - I mean, we all have a different way of describing it and that's how I describe it." Off the blank stares, she winced, and said "A different way of describing how we perceive machinery, I should say. I'm a techno-wizard. Well, here is the thing: I used to be." ----- Outside, Firanis saw what Adam and Kensie saw, that the town was not destroyed so much as preserved; everything kept the way it would be in idealized circumstances. Her Rambler wasn't there, but what she saw instead was an unusual sight; a woman dressed in a strange uniform, who locked eyes with her from across the street. The young woman looked human at a distance, and upon seeing her, tapped the side of her own skull. ----- "See, I ran into one of the Federation's worst - someone who had a real vendetta against techno-wizards, claiming that the industrialization of magical skill was cheapening hard-earned magical training. Which wouldn't be a problem except he was part of Lord Dunscon's unification campaign, with access tot he Federation's most coveted artifacts and spells, and - this is a long and boring story, but he put a curse on me." She looked to the side, looking like she was reliving a raw memory. "Afterwards, everything I built didn't work, I couldn't see the Spectrum, I didn't even register as a mage. And while I was great at turning a pistol into something that shot telekinetic bullets I never seem to do well with regular machinery. So I wound up playing the guitar for my supper and that's how I met GeeGee. And listen, now that that's done, two important things. "First, there's tiny machines in the air - that's what I was looking at. They're not malicious, at least, I don't think they are, but they're in the air. I think they're just generally scrubbing out toxins and pollutants. That's Golden Age tech if not even more advanced. And these aren't conventional. They're techno-wizard machinery, beyond anything I've ever seen. And secondly..." She swallowed thickly, and licked her own nose out of nervous habit. "Secondly, the condition of the curse was that it would negate my magical abilities until a hundred years had passed." ------ The young woman outside held her hands up, disarmingly, and after a few seconds, Firanis heard a computerized voice speak. "Translation spell complete." "Sorry about that, I had to load a translation spell from the Weave into my exocortex." She winced. "You probably don't understand a word of that, if what the sensors say is correct. So - you look lost. Are you lost?"
  21. The actress playing Magic on stage looked around the room, calling out quietly, and then more loudly: "GeeGee? Where are you?" Then, upon seeing who was left, the person was startled. "I didn't - do - what do you - " She grappled with the prop concealing her face, finally slipping the gas mask of the ley line walker off. She was some kind of d-bee, or a mutant - definitely not human. She was, essentially, a cat girl, with fine brown fur, a small snout, and ears on top of her head. She smoothed the fur on her face back into place, then - a little more composed - tried speaking again. "I'm Tamika. Please, I had nothing to do with whatever - this - is. I'm just a performer, ever since - I'm just a performer. Now where's GeeGee? Where's the rest of the bar? Why's it smell so nice?" Tamika hopped down from the stage - not threateningly, but she leapt down nonetheless. She looked around. "Wait, it's more than a smell. It's almost - as if - " She narrowed her eyes, looking at something in the air in a catlike fashion.
  22. Outside, Trep warmed up to Kensie, as Sy paced behind him. "Born and raised. We're getting out of here first chance we get, though. Don't wanna live and die in the same 40 acres, you know? We figure the army'd be the best way to do it. Ride around in a UAR-1, carry a C20 rifle, you know?" At her blank stare, Trep started to launch into a detailed explanation of Coalition war machinery, with the zeal of a young man getting to explain to a pretty girl the details of a young man's passion. --- Inside, Ianoko regarded Phere with no small amount of fear - it was obvious that Ianoko had concluded that Phere was a psi-stalker, and had no desire to be someone's dinner. As the conversation progressed, her temper flared slightly. "I know it was not those two because their voices were different, and the Coalition doesn't use disguise magic. And that makes it even worse because I have no idea how many there are out there who would do such a thing - or, just as bad, that would stand aside and let it happen. "Do not mistake me. I am happy to have helped with the harvest. I like the people here. But I wound up feeding the ones who attacked me, who looked fully at the work I do and decided that hate would nourish their spirits more readily than food. I can't - " She closed her eyes and held up her hands. "When you say that I am making them dependent on me, that is what they say too. That I'm here to take over and change their way of life. I'm not here to take over. I'm not scouting for the Federation, which they like to say I do when they think I cannot hear. I just farm. I give thanks for a world with six inches of topsoil and rain enough to grow the wondrous plants of your planet. And they will never believe me." She sunk into her chair, then spoke after a long pause. "As for a duffel bag, you can get it at Sy's trading post, in front of the flophouse. Why, are you leaving town as well?" --- On stage, the two performers prepared for mock combat - but then, they both lowered their sticks. Their faces were hidden by the props, but their body language suggested that both were defeated, not by a duel but by dawning understanding. "What does it matter," said Technology. "They're both threats." Magic took a long moment to respond, and then... ... then Phere felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, as something - something large, and unfathomable, and most of all, magical made its presence known, like the change in barometric pressure before a storm... ... and outside, Adam felt the sword at his side vibrate with a heat he had not felt in a long time... ... and then suddenly, everything in the bar - and on the street outside - changed. All the buildings were still there. All the seats at the bar, all the tables, were still inside the building. But instead of the general loud state of disarray the bar was in, everything was neat and tidy and quiet. Outside, all of the buildings suddenly looked in much better care - fully restored and freshly painted. There was a paved road down main street. The town's walls, flimsy before, were suddenly massive, to the point no one could see over them. It was raining slightly, and the air smelled clear and sweet instead of the faint metallic tang of pollution. The sword at Adam's side was still warm, and Phere's involuntary sniff of the air was met with a strange sensation - the background magical field that she could make out was both much stronger, and somehow sweeter and more refined, like water that had been cleansed. And then, the six of them noticed one more thing: there was absolutely no one else around them - with the exception of one person, on the stage, her head hung low and holding a stick with a star taped to it. And the performer was also a mage, of some kind - and hadn't registered as such, until a moment ago. "So we both did it," said Magic, dropping the prop stick and finishing the play. Then she paused, and looked up at the four remaining people in the bar - Squidge, Phere, BB and Firanis, her expression unreadable through the gas mask, headwrap and prop lenses. Outside, Adam and Kinsie's quick look around town revealed one thing of note: a plaque in front of Simon's trading post and flophouse, that described it as "Simon's Trading Post and Flophouse, Preserved As It Was in 109 PA."
  23. A moving-the-plot-forward post is incoming, so if you have anything you want to get posts, now's the time. If you've got nothing to post before the moving-the-plot-forward post, let me know!
  24. Trep and Sy looked to each other, and Trep gave a bit of a smile and a shrug to Sy's mild headshake, and Trep waves to Kensie. "Hi! I'm, uh, I'm Trep, and this is Sy. Are you new here?" Sy found an interesting flurry of dust to admire across the road, as Trep and Kensie talked. Simon was in the back, filling the order, so he wasn't present to react to the discussion. --- In the bar proper, Ianoko gingerly took Squidge's hand, looked to Phere, and then whispered to Squidge. "I do not know if I'll be staying. I know you want to help, but..." The d'norr looked fearfully at the exit. "If it were just those men who want to be the dead-who-walk, that would be one thing, but they are not the ones who attacked me. I feel that the Coalition will inevitably put down its boot, and when that happens, I'll regret staying. I've heard of troubles back in the Federation, but..." She shook her head. "They can't be as bad as this." --- On stage, Glitter Girl and her companion started the play. The siblings in question met, referring to each other as "Sister." Glitter Girl was a born natural when it came to theatre, but her companion wasn't quite as good, taking a while to warm up. Initially they were polite, but soon it degenerated into argument, the two of them gesticulating with their props. The thrust of the argument of Technology was that Magic opened the rifts, ruptured the weave of space and time, and allowed the unfathomable to roam the Earth. Magic countered that the golden age had built enough nuclear weapons to blow the world up twenty times, and the mass deaths that started the chain reaction that led to the rifts was entirely the fault of those weapons being used when they never, ever should have been. "Everyone lived under the threat of death by laser and robot and armor and bomb." Magic waved the stick around for emphasis, getting into the role with enthusiasm if not much skill. "And now everyone lives under that and the threat of demon, of rift, of spell and psionics," countered Technology. "If humanity knew of you, then they would never have used such weapons. You hid yourself from the golden age. No one knew of the threat you posed." "Whereas everyone knew of the threat you posed," countered Magic. "Which is worse, the threat you live under every day or the one you never see coming?" Technology raised her stick, as did Magic, looking as if they were about to duel - the traditional climax of the play, as one would beat the other in the fight and therefore have won the moral argument.
  25. Sy's spine seemed to dissolve upon facing what suddenly looked like a heavily armed bar, and with a sneer on his face, he rose from his stool. "Beer's lousy anyway." His friend looked to Grep for absolution, and found none, and the two made their way towards the door, muttering to themselves along the way. They exited, walking past the trading post, and while Kensie was new to the ways of the world, Simon had heard enough Coalition propaganda to recognize a phrase or two that was getting repeated. "Kids," snorted Grep. They then returned to Firanis. "Looks like you got enough muscle on your own, but couldn't hurt to ask around, I guess." They then turned to Phere and Squidge. "Ianoko, eh? Well, her favorite food's out of season, but it does grown on Earth soil. She likes peaches. She likes books and works of art, especially religious art. You could ask her. She's in the back - oh, wait." Phere and Squire turned to see Ianoko gathering her things as if to leave. Phere knew instantly that she was a mage, and old instincts briefly stirred. ------ Meanwhile, up on stage, Glitter Girl was taking the stage with another young lady, this one bedecked in a cheap gas mask and with various imitation talismans - clearly meant to be a line walker, in contrast to Glitter Girl's blocky, shiny costume which was meant to evoke the chromatic hues of a Glitter Boy. Glitter Girl was holding the stick with the battery taped on, while her companion had the one with the star. "Hi!" said Glitter Girl, tapping on the mic. "Hi. Welcome. We're going to be performing 'Who Killed The World" for you all. Tips are appreciated and we're glad to have you here. We'll be performing the version that - well, you'll see." ------ Outside, at the trading post, Simon hurried about compiling Adam's list. The slightly high pitched noise he made while he walked indicated an artificial limb of some kind, though he hid it well. Simon could see that all e-clips had their safeties on and all grenades had the fuses removed - whoever Simon was, he was a cautious man, uneager to be shot with his own stock. "I should let you know, Winston moves around a great deal. There was trouble with some bandits over where he was staying last, and I haven't heard from him since. I hope he's alive - or barring that, that whatever you're after is something you can find from what's left behind."
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