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z023

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    Malachite Drake

Everything posted by z023

  1. Can you have the alternate instead of the regular and then treat the regular as an alternate for cost if you want to pick it up later?
  2. Rorx - What language rules are you using for the game? The RAW is the "family per dot" rule, but it sounds like you don't want to do that. However, you've not actually said what rules you do want to use.
  3. She had smiled back, amused that he'd thought it was the violence she'd spoken of that usually spooked people and not the fact that she was technically a hermaphrodite, but then he did follow Chang, so he might not have really even noticed. The smile faltered when he asked about Shen; she shook her head. "I didn't know he was dead," she said softly, "and after he found people to leave me with, I never heard from him again. I only heard about him from Coraline and Darrik. He," she sighed and lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug, "he started raising novas sometime after getting r-...after me. I don't know what changed, but they - those two, at least - they seemed to love him like a father and look up to him." ,, "And I don't know how my mother was able to shift between worlds. She...she was kind of like this world's Divis Mal or Pax, the way people looked at her and the greater power she had than any of the other novas over there. That was part of why the Emperor was so insistent about her marriage into the Imperial Family. It was expected that her children would allow Nihon to stand above the United States, even if it meant allowing non-Japanese blood into the line. He was...a thoughtful leader. A planner, much more so than his son." She hadn't understood these things when she'd been a child, not completely, but sifting back through her memories with an older eye and the enhancements of her apotheosis, she could see them now. It didn't make her love or hate him more, but she did understand better. ,, "What about you, Darion?" she asked after a moment of quiet between them. "Would you tell me your story?" He was a friend, even a confidante, but of all the Anavasi she knew, he was the most adept a keeping attention - and questions - off of himself. Lucrezia could probably run circles around him when it came to outright intrigue, but she did have an advantage of numbers. He was trusted mystery, but still a mystery, and after half a year of knowing him most of what she could say about him would sound like a besotted teen or N! sound-bites.
  4. The honeysuckle smell briefly returned and he could feel her tense, but after a moment she relaxed again. The smell wasn't de-stressing tulip this time, though, it was darker, more like orchids. They stepped out onto a long stretch of pale yellow sand; it could have been a postcard or commercial for that 'paradise vacation': the breeze rifling through their hair, the ocean rolling in and out of the beach a dozen yards away, and the pair of nova's to make the whole scene entirely surreal. ,, "I wasn't born here," she said quietly as they walked. "On this Earth. I came from a different one, one where novas started appearing earlier. Between the World Wars. My mother, she was a powerful nova, maybe the most powerful nova, but she was a woman. So when she started fighting, she got in trouble with the government. She was American. They locked her up for three years and when the war was over they let her out with a pat on the head like some puppy that had misbehaved because she just couldn't know any better. So she left, went to Japan to help with the rebuilding there. The people there loved her. In the States, they'd called her Lady Victory, for the victory gardens women were supposed to grow to help with," she waved a hand, "y'know the food stamps and that sort of thing. She could grow entire crops in days....anyways, in Japan, they called her Freedom, because she made it so that all the restrictions and laws the States put up to keep Japan pacified didn't matter." ,, She stared out over the waves for a moment, lost in the dim memories of her childhood. She hadn't been educated, not formally, but she'd learned how to listen and pay attention and she'd always been smarter than everyone around her, so it hadn't been hard to learn about the wars and about her mother. Not that knowing about her mother was any replacement for actually knowing her mother. She shook the thought away and continued on, "So the Emperor, he decided that he wanted the blood of the Kami no Nigen, novas here, in the Imperial bloodline. He told his eldest son, the heir, to court Freedom and marry her. He did. He didn't love her. He thought she was a gaijin freak, but he would not disobey his father." She drew idle lines in the sand, following them with her eyes and not looking up anymore. "He was good at lying or my mother was terrible at understanding people. Maybe both. She fell in love with him and they were married. When she was pregnant with me she found out about his mistress and my half-brother. He was four at the time." ,, "She changed me, to spite my father and grandfather. They'd wanted a Kami no Nigen to take the Chrysanthemum Throne some day and make Japan a powerful nation again. So she'd made sure she conceived a boy when she got pregnant. When she found out about Mutsuko and Daichi, she changed me to look female. There's a condition, um, complete androgen insensitivity syndrome. It means that you're male, but your body is completely immune to testosterone, so you develop like a female, only sort of more so, since women have some testosterone in their systems." She shrugged a little, still not looking up. She didn't know how much, if anything, Chang or Lucrezia had told the others about her, but she knew that gender and sex were very touchy subjects for most people and she didn't want to see if she was creepy Darion out right now. "She was pretty much full term when she found out, so she induced labor and then left. Without me. She'd given her husband the male heir he'd wanted so much and the daughter he wouldn't be able to use that way." ,, "My family hated me. They couldn't deny I existed, but the Emperor granted Father a divorce and Mutsuko was...I'm not sure the word for it. Cleansed, I guess. Her family history was altered so she would be acceptable as Father's new bride and Daichi was recognized as his legitimate first-born son. He might not have been Kami no Nigen, but he didn't have flowers growing out of his hair or weird colored lips and he wasn't a useless girl-child." She snorted at the memory of her father's ignorance and added, "I only learned what CAIS was here, when I was older, so everyone there just thought I was a girl. I was moved to a room right next to the servant's quarters and the Empress, my grandmother, she made it quite clear that she hated me, mostly by beating me whenever she was angry about something she couldn't change. The servants, they learned that no one would care if they hit me, too." ,, The pain was old and tempered by years of loving adoptive parents, but there was still that little girl inside her that lived in a world of hate and pain and fear; it was that little girl that had formed the seeds of her kindness and her protectiveness, though. "When I was six, the Emperor and Father finally found a use for me. They betrothed me to a cousin. He was....an insult and a way to keep Kami no Nigen blood in the family. He had just enough royal blood and just not enough pull to get out of it. He also had a mistress and several illegitimate children. The arrangement was that I would go to his household when I was thirteen and be kept there until I produced a proper heir for him, then I'd be exiled to some country estate where no one would have to deal with me anymore. And he'd keep his family the way it was, marriage or no." ,, She shrugged, still not looking up, but continuing on. He'd asked for the whole story, after all. "My mother heard about it somehow and came for me then. She...I didn't see everything, but I heard the screaming. I'm pretty sure she killed my father, maybe the rest of the Imperial family as well. Then she brought me here, to this Earth and to a man named Shen. A Eastern-style monk-like man. She left me with him and then disappeared. When she didn't come back after a while, Shen found me a new family. They were baselines, but their son had erupted. He was killed by Michael Archangel fanatics, so I guess I was like a second chance for them. And they became Mom and Dad. We lived pretty far out in the country, in the mountains, because there wasn't a way to really hide what I was and I didn't always have control over what I could do. Or I did have control, but I was a little kid and I threw tantrums just like all little kids do. So we were out where I couldn't hurt people on accident and they couldn't hurt me on purpose." ,, "When I got old enough that I would just be another erupted nova, if a teen one, and I'd learned enough control not to be a danger just because something annoyed me or I got startled, I started going into the small town closest to our house." She smiled a little, remembering her first excited forays into the village, riding the bumpy truck with her dad and watching the people watching her. "I met a boy there, Willem. We became friends - he was the only kid there really close to my age and that would actually get over my strangeness enough to come talk to me. He asked me out on my sixteenth birthday. He was going to propose to me after he graduated high school, but when we slept together on my eighteenth birthday...." She sighed, "It triggered my Apotheosis, which gave me an understanding of what my mother had done to me as a fetus. I could change myself, make myself just the girl I'd always looked like, and go on without telling anyone, but...but that wasn't fair to me or to Willem. He'd never be able to get over the truth if I ever told him, and I didn't want to destroy a part of myself. I made it so I was actually female, too..." She waved back in the direction of the house and the children, "Obviously. But if I told him what I've told you, he'd never see me as anything other than a boy pretending to be a girl, and we lived in a....less than progressive....backwoods. So I left." ,, "Not the most brave move of my life," she admitted, "but it's what I did. I went home long enough to talk to my folks and tell them I needed some time to figure myself out. They gave me the money they'd been saving up for college, if I'd wanted to go, and told me to keep in touch. I sent Willem a letter a few weeks later, just to say that I cared for him but I wasn't able to be the woman he'd want in his life. And I started wandering. Figuring out my powers, helping people where I could, learning about the world beyond the mountains and woods I'd grown up in. I met Anteus, and Caroline, and Andy. Eventually I decided I wanted a family just like all the people that I helped get pregnant..." Her scent wilted into a burnt petal smell, "Then the motherhunters came for me and I fled to the Congo." ,, She did finally look up at him again, the anger-pain scent fading back to neutral buttercups. "The rest I'm pretty sure you know. You were there for most of it," she teased with only an undertone of pensiveness. "So, now you know nearly all my secrets, Darion. All the interesting ones, I think. Have I run you off yet?"
  5. Sakura watched the girls for a moment, trying to figure out how to respond to Darion's story and seeing how well the little ones and bigger ones were doing together. Her expression softened as she watched Zara make friends with Prudence in a way she never would be able to with Sakura herself. She nodded to Meh'Lindi and decided that leaving the room might be better for Darion, at least for now. Old wounds bled deep, especially with matters of family. ,, "Perhaps we could take a walk around the island, as a test-run?" She wasn't ready to be out of at least earshot of the girls yet, but she was trying. ,, Darion had to put an arm around her waist and actually lead her to the door to get her to leave, but they made it all the way outside and even got the door closed. He could feel her vibrating with nervousness, her nova-level perceptions still zeroed in on the house and her children. He took her by the hand and led her away, down the path towards the beach. "They'll be fine, Sakura," he said softly as they passed the treeline and stepped out onto sugar-fine sand. "And An will let us know if anyone's unhappy. Especially her." ,, He smiled and she tried to relax. "You're right. It's just..." She closed her eyes and sighed, visibly making herself relax. "My mother abandoned me. Twice. And my father hated me. All of his family hated me. I guess....I just want to make sure things are better for them. That they have a real family, like my mom and dad gave me after...." She let her head drop onto his shoulder. "Sorry, I can't seem to get out of....of, I don't know, the past and the future, all mixed up together." ,, She was starting to relax now, he could tell by the change in her scent from cloyingly, overpowering honeysuckle smell to a light, airy tulip-like smell. Some people have mood rings. She's got mood flowers.
  6. Sakura stood up and regarded the three Anavasi women, finally settling on Meh'Lindi with the same logic Darion had. "Lindi, would you mind holding An?" ,, The scientist stood up, eyeing the pink-haired infant with both wonder and worry. Sakura deftly made the exchange with her, eliciting another frown and in-drawn breath from Corbin's vociferous daughter; Sakura plucked several blooms from her hair this time and dropped them on An's face. The petals were soft and ticklish, like the feathers had been, and the Blossom Princess motioned for Meh"Lindi to tickle An with him just as Sakura had done with the faux-feathers. It took longer for An to accept someone else's attention, but she only kept her face scrunched up instead of screaming. After a few tense moments she let out a loud giggle and grabbed for the blossom Meh'Linda was holding. ,, Sakura let out a relieved sigh and turned to Darion, now mostly immobilized by Zara's tendrils. Zara had watched An being handed off with curiosity, constantly looking between Meh'Lindi and Darion and moving herself around him like a tree she had climbed for a better view. Some of her tendrils were painfully wrapped around arms or legs or pulling at him in unnatural and very uncomfortable ways. Sakura stepped in front of him and smiled; something in her expression communicated to him her suspicion that this wasn't his first time handling children - and a sympathy for the melancholy she'd sensed in him as well. ,, She wrapped an arm around Zara herself and began slowly but insistently pulling back the tendrils of green-tinged "silk". "Now, be polite," she murmured to her verdant daughter. "No climbing on someone unless they say it's okay and you have to be careful with them. You don't want to hurt them, or they won't want to play with you anymore." Slowly the pressure on his body eased as Zara leaned back against her mother and giggled at him. "Would you like to meet Pru, Zara? She can have many heads and wriggle around with you. That's even better than playing ground hog with the floor, I promise." ,, Zara looked up at her mother and laughed, clumsily clapping her hand together and flailing around in the baby body speak of excitement. Sakura tucked her in her arms and made her way over to Prudence, who was watching the entire exchange with wide, nervous eyes. Sakura laid Zara in her lap and advised, "If she gets too... attached, or it gets painful, just say something. I can pull her off, or if you tickle her, on the belly or the sides, she usually loses strength in her tendrils while she laughs. Okay?" ,, Pru swallowed and nodded, watching Zara with hesitant fascination and waiting for the infant to make her first move. Sakura turned back to Jun, still laying on the couch and watching the room with wide, blinking eyes. "Snow?" She motioned her over to the couch. "This is Jun. She's very quiet and she's the only one trying to speak so far. Perhaps you could read to her?" ,, Once all three infants were paired with one of the Anavasi women, Sakura pulled Darion off to the side of the room where she could speak to him and still keep an eye on everyone. "Are...are you okay, Darion?" she asked softly.
  7. All three babies turned to watch him, An from the safety of Sakura's arm, Jun curled up against her mother's side, and Zara with next to Jun. An was the first to react, reaching out with a chubby little arm to tangle her fingers in Darion's hair; she hadn't yanked yet, but he could feel the inhuman strength as she open and closed her hand, little gurgles of happiness coming from her as she played with the new shiny. An looked at him with eyes far too serious and knowing for a three month old and solemnly declared, "An. Da-on." ,, Zara pulled back on the couch, almost scooting behind Jun, but her tendrils trickled down the couch and nervously poked and tugged at him, as if unsure if he was really there or what he was. While Sakura gently saved his scalp - and possibly his spine - from An's curiosity, Zara continued her exploration, her verdant-green vines travelling over his legs and arms until she decided he was both safe enough and now attached enough to move. She swung herself up over Jun, who gave a huff and irked "Mha!", and landed, only a little awkwardly, against Darion's chest. The vines slithered over him and pulled her farther up until she was leaning against his shoulder, peering at the three women behind him. Like she had with Sakura, she quickly duck back behind his shoulder, then stuck her fist in her mouth and blinked up at her current carrier. ,, An, miffed at the loss of the shiny silver hair and the attention on Zara, scrunched up her face and let out a deafening cry of protest. Sakura quickly formed a cluster of little silver-hued feathers from her own silk and tickled the infant's face with them; at first, An refused to be consoled, letting out another ear-shattering cry, but the feathers were too pretty and the tickling too much fun, not to mention the attention from her mother, to keep her in a foul mood for more than a moment. Sakura gave Darion a questioning look, asking both if he was still up for this and if he needed rescuing from the green-skinned baby slowly turning him into a vine-mummy.
  8. "Just a minute!" came Sakura's own cry from inside. As usually, the peace had lasted for about ten minutes before An had woken up. She wasn't hungry again, but that didn't mean she didn't want attention and entertainment - and if the other two had been asleep, they certainly weren't now. She'd had enough time to grow a lattice of roots over the actual hole in the living room and get some of the water soaked up, but the room was still a mess. She pushed her home-related vanity aside and scooped An out of her crib, settling the darling but trying infant in the crook of one arm. Zara had retreated to the ceiling at her sister's bellows, but skittered down and followed after her mother as Sakura made her way to the front door. ,, She was still divinely radiant when she opened the door, but it was tempered by a bone-deep weariness. She smiled at the gathered Terats and waved them in, yelping in surprise as Zara pulled herself up her mother's backside and popped her head over Sakura's hair to get a look at them. The green-skinned daughter of Anteus grinned and cooed at them before ducking shyly back behind her mother; she was cocooned in her own silk, the tendrils moving her around like a living, spider-inspired, stroller. Darion heard the familiar quiet sigh of amusement, frustration, and tiredness that spelled out new parent more elegantly than any words ever could. "Please, come in. Sorry for the mess, but Zara decided to dig her way from the nursery to living room earlier." ,, The four stepped inside; Snow eyed the covered hole and stepped carefully around the muddied areas of the carpet. "She can dig?" ,, "And climb and skitter. She hasn't figured out walking yet, but..." Sakura shrugged, "she pretty much goes wherever she wants." The pink-haired cherub in her arms peered curiously at the others, still trying to decide if she was okay with the strangers or not. Sakura sat on the couch and motioned for the others to follow suit if they wanted. She lifted An up, rubbing the infant's cheek against her own. "An, on the other hand, simply deafens you until she gets what she wants." ,, She nodded to Prudence and gave her an encouraging smile, "I don't mind helping others learn if and some of how to be parents, if it means they'll be better parents with their own kids." She chuckled, the smile finally actually lighting in her eyes. "I don't know if it'll actually help or just send you all running for the hills, though." ,, She felt Zara let herself back down to the floor and make her way to the nursery, ducking behind furniture where she could to stay out of sight of the strangers; a moment later she slithered back in on the ceiling, her other sister held in a second silk cocoon and looking vaguely annoyed. Zara lowered them both down on nearly invisible strands until Sakura was surrounded by her children on the couch. Once she was on something solid again, Jun wriggled and cried until Zara released her; the mobile infant plopped onto the cushion next to Jun, looking pleased with herself. Sakura looked at each of her guests, ending with Darion, and asked with a pleading note, "So, are you all sure you still want to do this?"
  9. Her eyes roved over the ruined living room as Darion made his proposal, an eyebrow going up at that unexpected list of names. "Snow, Prudence, and Meh'Lindi. Want to babysit?" She skirted the hole and the seeping dirty water and sat down on the couch, her mind still processing that. "I....mhm....have they ever watched children before? I mean, the girls are still very young, but I can't keep Zara in her crib - or apparently above ground," she muttered the last bit to herself, "and An can deafen someone when she's in a bad mood. Jun is pretty quiet and mostly stays put, but...." ,, Above ground? He knew the worried and bone-tired sound. Every new parent had it, especially by three months in, and that was just when the children were baselines and really only waking you up every couple of hours. And one was enough to do it to two parents, let alone three ganging up on their mother. "Sakura, you need a break," Darion insisted carefully. "Trust me. You need to have some time to yourself, to relax and to keep your sanity, and the girls should get to know the people they'll be growing up around." He took a calculated breath and offered, "How about a compromise?" ,, "Compromise?" While the couch wasn't as comfortable as Chang, it was plush; An and Zara had both settled down after feeding, napping against the warmth of her chest. She had to focus on the phone and Darion's voice to keep from drifting off herself, ruined carpet and hole in the floor halfway forgotten already. ,, "We'll come over, spend some time with the girls with you there. Let them get comfortable with the new people and let you get comfortable watching everyone together. Then we'll go out," he winced at the sort-of slip of the tongue and pressed on, "just for an hour or two. Somewhere close, so if there's an issue we can get you home quickly. How does that sound?" ,, "Come over?" The hole wasn't forgotten now and Sakura blushed at the thought of her friends seeing her home in such a state. "Um, well, maybe tomorrow? There's a...um....it's messy. I should clean up, first." ,, Tomorrow and then tomorrow and then tomorrow. "Sakura, you have triplets. Is there really a time when it isn't messy?" ,, "Uh, well, not like th-" ,, "Okay, then a change. We'll come over, help clean up, and then start the babysitting trial." He wasn't letting her cut in and make another excuse or spend the day trying to clean up after three nova children. He could hear how tired she was and if the place was a complete disaster zone, it would let Snow, Pru, and Meh'Lindi know exactly what they were getting themselves into. If anyone backed out or didn't pull their weight just cleaning up, then they certainly weren't ready to actually watch the kids. "We'll be over in a few minutes." ,, The line cut off and Sakura sighed, knowing he'd pushed so she wouldn't keep putting it off and knowing she would have if he hadn't. She sighed again and pushed herself off the couch, delicately unlacing Zara from An and herself as she headed back to the nursery. She managed to get them both settled in their cribs without waking them up - a minor miracle itself -, checked on Jun, who peered cautiously at the sleeping forms of her sisters and gave her mother an inscrutable look before closing her eyes. Sakura thought for a moment that she'd fallen asleep, but her breathing didn't measure out like a sleeping infant's. Whatever she was doing, though, it was quiet and not destroying the house, so her mother left her to it. After all, she apparently had company coming.
  10. An insistent scream echoed over the small satellite island Sakura currently called home. It was close enough to main Anavasi island that a baseline could have made a liesurely swim of the distance, but ever since the An had discovered she could be much louder than her sisters, Sakura had thought it best to have some distance from where at least some of the Anavasi slept. The green-gilded nova mother blinked herself a little more awake and hurried into the nursery, where her middle child was currently demanding attention in her crib. ,, Cyndi had made the cribs after the girls had, one by one, decimated the ones the Sakura had grown for them. The nature nova simply couldn't figure out a way to grow wood that was strong enough to withstand the flailing limbs of little godlings while still being thin enough to function as a crib and not a reinforced crate. So, they had cribs made of a translucent material with the strength of Vitrium but a more lustrous, diamond-like effect. Sometimes the rainbows that would play across the cribs would keep them entertained for a minute or two. An was not entertained at the moment. She was hungry and wanted her mother's attention right now. ,, Sakura scooped up her daughter and held her to her chest, letting the infant situate herself and settle down to feeding. She did a quick look to make sure the other two where nearby - Jun was giving her older sister an annoyed look and then went back to smelling the different colors playing across her crib. Zara was not in her crib. Sakura's heart skipped a beat and she began searching the nursery for her eldest daughter. This wasn't a new experience for her, but every time Zara decided to go exploring, Sakura's mind told her that she couldn't be far away and her heart practically stopped completely in fear that she'd been taken or hurt herself. She wasn't on the ceiling this time, or webbed under one of the cribs. Taking An with her, Sakura extended her search into the hallway, her own bedroom, and out into the living room. ,, Sitting in a pile of dirt and using her silk to wiggle around in it, Sakura's eldest smiled when her mother came into the room and cooed happily at her. The carpeting for most of the room was ruined; beyond the large hole Zara had managed to rip into the floor, there was a mix of dirt, sand, and seawater settling into the lush cream-colored fibers. Sakura had a moment to sigh before Zara's hair-silk reached out and attached to her hip. The muddied infant pulled her way up her mother's side and latched on to her other breast, weaving her tendrils around Sakura's midsection such that she had her hands free and her torso covered in children. ,, She was still trying to figure out what to do to salvage her living room - or at least figure out a Zara-proofed version - when her OpPhone rang from the surprisingly undisturbed end-table. After the first two attempts at bending down in some way to pick it up without disturbing the two infants, she gave up and extended a tendril of her own silk to pick up the phone. She smiled when she saw the caller ID. ,, "Hello Darion," she almost managed to not sound exhausted. She brushed some of dirt off of Zara's head in a vain attempt to keep herself and An at least somewhat clean. "How are you?"
  11. She knew it wasn't 'normal', but Sakura was thankful for the small crowd of people in the room; her heart was fluttering in anticipation and a small dose of fear and knowing that there were others on hand to help out was all that was keeping her calm and focused. A minute of deep breaths passed by as she made the final adjustments to her body and then it began. It was birth - bloody, still a little painful even for a fertility nova, and while a miracle, still a bit disturbing. Sakura was clinging on one side to an arm that Chang wrapped around her and on the other to Darion's hand as she pushed, her hair wet with sweat and her eyes almost all pupils. The first child born was green infant with leaf-like skin and impossibly delicate vines for hair; she stayed in the water for a moment as she absorbed the organic material that had come from the womb with her. Then the tendrils of her hair sought out the edge of the pool near her mother, crawled up Chang's side, and eventually pulled the rest of her along. Once she'd made a vine-hair-hammock with a flower petal lining growing in for herself on Chang's side, she promptly curled back up and went to sleep. Sakura glanced up at Chang with a bemused grimace, but there wasn't time to speak before the next push and the birth of her second daughter. This one plump and pink, far more human-looking than her elder sister, though her eyes were already open and the same intense green as her mother's and her hair curled in red-to-pink wisps, belying her inhuman parentage. She kicked in the water, splashing her annoyance at being expelled from the womb and surfacing to add a healthy, if angry, scream to her tantrum. At a nod from Sakura, she was scooped out of the pool by Cyndi to be cleaned up and wrapped in a warm blanket. The Wiccan Anavasi let out several surprised grunts as the infant flailed against her with enough strength to break bones - or concrete. Her last child decided to make a leisurely exit from the womb; once she was finally out, she settled languidly in the curve of her mother's hip. Her skin was duskier than Sakura's, a light cocoa pattern reminiscent of pale wood; her lips and hair were the same shades of green as Sakura's. Her features a perfect mix between both her mothers and making her heritage immediately recognizable by everyone in the room that had ever met Caroline Fong. She blinked in the air when Sakura pulled her up from the water, showing full green sclera to match her green lips, gaving her a positively fae appearance. She she smiled and cooed at her mother, snuggling in arms as Sakura held her to her chest. She settled down at the sound of Sakura's heartbeat, her tiny hands instinctively kneading at Sakura's breast. After several moments of rest, Sakura stood up and stepped out of the pool. She wrapped herself in her silk, letting it sluice the water off over and not bothering to shape it like clothing at the moment. She ran her free hand across the face of eldest daughter and named her, "Zara." Stepping over to Cyndi, she bopped the squirming middle child lightly on the nose, "An-" The girl reached up and grabbed her mother's finger in a crushing grip, making Sakura wince and wiggle to free herself. "You are definitely Andre's daughter," she teased gently. To the youngest in her arms, she smiled and said, "And you are Jun." She leaned down and kissed her forehead, eliciting another contented cooing sound. "Welcome to the world, my lovely daughters."
  12. October 31, 2027 Setting up the Body Shop had gone fairly smoothly, all things considered. The world was still reeling from Puck's theatrics and departure, though in some ways it had been a blessing - everyone had to adjust, and so the economy and political structures of the world got something of a fresh start to be able to account for everything the Nova Age had changed. Nearly all manufacturing was now automated, freeing up the 60% of the population that was left for other, generally non-menial work. Work weeks were shorter, there was no shortage of space, from homes to storefronts, to just space anymore. The world population was back down to N-Day levels, with the majority of people at working adult or older ages, and with the space stations and colonization going on, that meant far fewer people actually on Earth. Sakura had found herself in high demand for far more 'practical' applications as all population restrictions had been lifted - and even reversed as many countries as families raced to replace the enormous lack of children across the world now, threatening the promise of future colonists if nothing else. She'd also offered a sliding scale on youth treatments so that within a few years 'old' would be mostly a matter of choice or gross ignorance of the alternatives available. Not that she'd made her location known. What was left of the Teragen had fallen mostly into three camps: those Puck hadn't made his offer to, which usually fell into Leviathan's Harvesters and the most fanatical of the Cult of Mal, and the Teragen that had chosen to stay, who now mostly rallied around the Mirror Queen. Sakura still refused to take an official political or philosophic stance, but she stuck close to Chang and her inner circle, and it was through their security gauntlet - primarily Darion - that anyone wanting Sakura's services would have to jump through before they got anywhere near the green-hued nova. With Bounty gone, there would be no unnecessary risks to Sakura or her children. Teleporters, telepaths, and a host of other novas and black-tech were used to ensure the motives and utter ignorance of customers - they were taken for locations all over the world, 'ported about enough that no one could even say for certain if Sakura was still on Earth, received whatever treatment they had paid for, and were returned in the same manner. Speculation had run wild, especially as customers reported on her ripening pregnancy and what the children would be like once they were born. The nova herself was currently ensconced in a pool of warm water in her suite in the Court of Mirrors, trying not to look too nervous. Her children were full term as of today, Halloween for the Western world, and her body was already changing to begin the birthing process. She could have adjusted herself, put it off for another day - or week - but she'd be just as nervous then. It was time to truly become a mother. Andre and Caroline had both gone with Puck, looking to make a better world or universe or whatever Puck had really been offering; Anteus had stayed, but he was still wandering around Africa somewhere. It wasn't that she wanted them there, necessarily; they'd been chosen for their genetic and quantum benefits more than for emotional connections, but some small part of her was sad that none of them would likely meet their children. Anteus might, but he wouldn't particularly care. Her own parents had also gone, after she'd assured them that they should follow their hearts on the matter and not worry about her. That had hurt, but then she'd left them years ago. It hardly seemed fair to tie them down when Puck would need all the parents he could muster for the children he was taking with him. The Teragen were a different matter. Several parties were already going on in the Court of Mirrors, the Court of Shadows, and the Exalt Islands - which had been taken over by a mismash of Terats and friendly unaffiliated novas that had rather liked the idea of a nova-controlled area that wasn't the Congo. Another deep breath and spoke softly, trusting her friends to hear her through walls and across continents if necessary. “It’s time.” Notes I'm leaving this open to have whomever you'd like from the Chang crew to be present. I don't think anyone else that Sakura was close with is really posting with their PC anymore. We can also skim over the actual births as much as you'd like. If you want to PM me (Chat or board) for descriptions of the children, feel free. We can do another time-jump after this, but I wanted to pause here to remark on some changes to the setting because of Puck and to give at least a little 'camera' time to the birth, since it was such a focus for her run in the game.
  13. She shook her head, "No, I think I've got the money covered. The insurance on Forbidden Fruits was quite extensive, and the payment from Dead Rising should be in my account now as well. I'd still like to set up the Body Shop, but I'll need help figuring out how to do that with the security that's obviously needed." There was a touch of bitterness to that, a sign that Sakura's faith in the world was at least a little tarnished after her brush with captivity. "There should be enough money to finish off the few minor pieces of the original crèche and put something into place to earn income for the others. I'm not sure what, if the Body Shop isn't really a viable option now, though. I...I don't think I can rebuild Forbidden Fruits, at least nor for a while." It was a little heartbreaking, to hear the hesitation and fear in her voice now. She was trying to be strong, to move on from what happened and not tie up people's time with watching over her or having to deal with the emotional trauma - but it was still there and ignoring it wasn't making it go away. "So I guess I have a mostly-intact club...and nothing really to do with it. Do either of you have ideas? I don't think there would be as much interest now if I made some sort of private establishment, not after what's happened, but....I'm just not sure." She leaned back and shook her head, "I don't think I could do what you do, Chang. Leading, being responsible for so much and so many." Her fingers played over her womb, "Just the thought of being responsible for my children in a few months is enough to make me nervous, and for the first year they won't even be able to move around much or talk back." She grinned at the Mirror Queen and Darion, her tone teasing, "From what I've seen of most artists, if they're not in the middle of making something, that's pretty much all they do. Squirm around and poke at you and make you think, asking questions - and not the easy ones like 'can I have ice cream for dinner?' or 'is pizza a food group?'" She chuckled at herself, blushing. "All I could think of was questions about food...." Her head tilted to the side as a thought struck her, "I suppose I could sell my city-trees. As an....architectural? firm, I guess. Glow-bugs and some other biological alternatives to standard technology that I was playing with while I was living in the Congo." The thought of the Congo and the disappearance of her friend - or whatever she and Ein had been - made her frown again, her mood as mercurial as the winds at the moment.
  14. "I want to go forward with the Crèche," she said with conviction and perhaps a bit more force than she usually spoke with. Her eyes were dark with emotion and Chang could feel her struggle to stay calm. "Hiding in the Congo didn't work and now Ein's missing. Being in the open didn't work either, and I do understand how lucky I am to be alive and free. I don't know if the Crèche will work either, but....it has to be tried. I won't give birth for a few more months, despite looking like a beached whale already." The last was said with a touch of humor; even with nova-enhanced physiology, it was starting to get uncomfortable and unwieldy to move around. She peered at Chang, still trying to fathom the changes in her friend. "What about you? Do you still want to be involved? You sound...dissapointed...in me, annoyed maybe. And you have the Anavasi to look after now." She spread her hands, not quite looking Chang in the eyes, "We all have priorities and they change as circumstances do."
  15. Sakura rubbed a hand over her swollen womb, her eyes several shades darken green than usual as she considered Chang's words. "We don't," she replied to Chang's question to her. "We can't. All we, baseline and nova, have ever been able to do is tell one another what worked for ourselves and hope that it would translate to the one we were speaking to." She shook her head, "This isn't Jason's fault. I chose to follow her advice. She didn't make me or push me out into the spotlight against my will. It worked for her, but she has one child and can't make others fertile. Or at least hasn't told anyone if she can," she conceded that the beautiful nova actress might have secrets kept from even her friends. "I took a risk, and it proved foolish. Now I choose to learn from it or ignore it, and everyone touched by this whole..." she waved in the air to indicate the entire sordid affair, "...mess, does the same. Some of us grow and change, others resist to remain the same. That is how it goes." She shifted on the couch, her knots of tension shifting as her thoughts did. "As for 'bridging the gap', we talk and share experiences. We find the compromises we can all live with and abide by. We build our culture and our future one interaction at a time, one thought and one deed at a time. I know that sounds trite, but short of some species-wide mental domination, it is the only way that has the possibility of peaceful coexistence." And there was that other Sakura again, the one behind the pretty smiles and peculiar mixture of pristine demure innocent and carnal bedroom fantasy - the one that could be a nightmare goddess of vengeful Nature if ever unleashed from the bonds of Sakura's kindness and gentle heart. The Sakura that Mannes Eikenboom never knew existed or he would have known that to threaten or harm her children would have been a doom far worse than even Snow's untender mercies. And with a smile, she was gone. "So, we keep talking and trying and learning. Like we're doing now."
  16. She shifted uncomfortably, a frown and lines of tension settling over her features. Even after time away from it all and back among friends, she still couldn't stop herself from jumping at sudden sounds or shying away if someone she didn't recognize came around. "A man, Eikenboom, he....he asked me a few years ago to help him build an army of children. I told him no." She sighed, "And I left where I was and didn't think about him again until...." She swallowed and curled up a little tighter on the couch. "He decided 'no' wasn't an acceptable answer, so he kidnapped me." Her tone was strained and took on bitter flavors, "Because novas needed his army, you see. For defense. Because infants make good soldiers and novas are incapable of winning the war he know was coming between baselines and novas. Apparently Nature granting novas quantum powers and a tendency to, y'know, come from baselines wasn't enough for our oh-so-fragile and defenseless subspecies to hold out against the great and powerful homo sapiens spaiens." She glanced away from the other two in the room and whispered, "Asshole." "In the end," she continued after a moment, "he was a nova with too much fear and just enough intelligence and resources to make a very stupid mistake." She deliberately spoke of him in the past tense. No one had told her exactly what happened or was still happening to him, but she'd felt the currents of anger and rage in her rescuers and had little doubt that he would ever be seen again. She had warned him and while the thought of hurting him herself still made her stomach twist up in knots, there was now a part of her heart that couldn't forgive him for what he'd tried to do and force her to do. And that part wasn't asking any questions the rest of her didn't want the answers to. After another half of a heartbeat, she realized she hadn't really answered Chang's question. "He knocked us out at the club. I woke up in a sealed duplex-like apartment on the moon, with another nova that was supposed to make me think Eikenboom had magic control over the place or something." She had asked after Conrad and that had nearly ended in a screaming match with several of her rescuers, whom only relented because of how upset Sakura was becoming; eventually she'd called in favors from all three of the other parents of her children. Conrad and his family were safely ensconced in new lives, new bodies, and the understanding that if they ever resurfaced as their old selves, not even the protection of a member of the Teragen Pantheon would be able to keep them alive. They weren't exactly thrilled about being cut off from their extended family for the rest of their lives, but they were safe and living in far more luxury than even Conrad's death-bonus would have afforded them. "Eikenboom threatened me and the children with permanent imprisonment if I didn't do what he demanded, and his plan was rather well thought-out. I managed to convince Conrad, the other nova there, to help me, and then I was rescued. Not a fun week, but mostly just boring on my end." She smiled at Darion when she mentioned the rescue; Coraline was the one that had delivered her back to Earth, but Sakura had heard from the Anavasi how it was him that had organized everyone, including a number of people Sakura barely knew, into a coherent search and rescue team. Without him - without everyone, but especially without him - she'd probably still be stuck up on the Moon. She'd been confused and hurt when Ein hadn't been there or involved, and then horrified when she heard that he'd been disappeared himself and still hadn't resurfaced. Her thoughts flicked back to her conversation with Morrigan, who firmly but politely (for her) told Sakura to keep her nose out of. And what would she be able to do anyways? She sent out a few creatures programmed to respond to his smell, keyed in to his genetic and quantum signatures, and they were searching Earth, but that was as far as she could reach. She wouldn't have been able to rescue herself without another nova that could brave the Void unharmed, and if the Storm King was still alive - far less likely than it was with her, and even those had been slim odds - he was probably much farther away. The melancholy of how cruel people could be to one another washed over her again as she fell silent. She tugged her silken blanket over her shoulders, chilled by too much reality.
  17. Sakura listened quietly. She'd puzzled out the general idea of the Teragen chrysalis, though not enough to understand exactly how one went about it - mostly enough to know that it was dangerous and could last a long time and was part of the reason Terats came to be so different. Like being a mirror maze when they want to. Or hearing the future.... She pursed her lips and proffered, "You should plan to say something, every day. And sometimes don't, or say something different, but don't decide until when you had planned to say something." She smiled, "And congratulations. It's nice to know you are loved and to be able to reciprocate that. I hope Lucrezia will be happy, too." That earned a brief, if still pensive, smile from Chang; it was no less than she expected from Sakura, and as she'd told the verdant nova, she'd heard her response yesterday. Her friend grinned wickedly, "And I'm going to start writing down Christmas presents, instead of telling people, if you can peek your ears into the future." That got a snort from Darion. "And I think that," Sakura continued, sparing an arch look at the silver-haired nova to show she'd meant what she said about the presents, "hmm....that just because you can hear echos that come true, that doesn't mean we're being controlled or have no choice in things. It's more like...like time or the universe or whatever, just knows us real well. Like a best friend. It's not hard to know what they'll say, most of the time. Think of it like that. A friend whispering in your ear about how things are likely to go, unless you or someone else does something drastically strange. And sometimes," she paused and then nodded with utter sincerity and complete silliness at the same time, "wear earplugs."
  18. It was good to be out, she knew, even if it made her nervous and jump at every unexpected sound. She didn't know how she would have made it through the first few days with Darion's constant, quiet, and supportive presence. He'd talked her down from racing back to her parents farm, pointing out the same arguments she'd used the first time she fled for safety that they couldn't help her, being, at best, middle class baselines, and that she'd be putting them in danger if she was followed or tracked back to them. Until she had a safe place - a truly safe place - it was best that the world continue to wonder where Sakura came from and who her family was. It didn't make her happy; she wanted to curl up in her parent's arms and never leave again, but she couldn't bear the thought of them being harmed or killed or kidnapped because of her, either. Darion promised to get them word that she was safe now and with friends, and that she would see them as soon as it was safe. Now she just had to figure out the 'safe' part again. Her life kept running in circles and the squirming kicks in her womb were a constant reminder that she was running out of time. Darion's suggestion to visit the new home for the Anavasi and see Chang was perfect timing, though she suspected he knew that before he made the offer to take her. Sclader's entrance to the Court of Mirrors was a dizzying puzzle that reminded her of a movie her mother had loved as a child and watched with Sakura when she couldn't sleep for the first few months on this Earth. It was appropriately titled 'The Labyrinth' and had a room in the heart of the castle that was just as disorienting, though this version didn't come with a singing man in heavy eye make-up, huge hair, and tights. She quirked a smile as she glanced over at Darion and mentally dressed him as the Goblin King. Maybe she could even get him to sing? She solved the riddle of the room before she worked up the nerve to ask him, and some of her amusement faded into frustration at how timid she found herself now. People kept telling her that it would get better, but it didn't feel like that now. Sakura trailed her fingers along the surface of the mirror walls after they made their way to the center of the Mirror Court and Darion explained that they were stepping within her eccentric and sorely missed friend, knowing now that Change would feel it as much as her steps on the yielding-but-reflective floor. So, this is what it is to be a Terat, I suppose? Chang, do I even know you anymore? Did I ever, or did I just never see this? She shivered and wondered, too overwhelmed to have any idea if she was in awe or fear of the Mirror Queen. Probably at least a little of both. Her flop onto the couch Change created was as much familiarity as sore feet; the Court was beautiful, but into the second week of August meant she was also several weeks into her third trimester and finally starting to truly feel tired if she walked too far or too long. Her silk slithered around her and made a warm, soft blanket over her, one set in shades of pale green and silver and patterned like frosted ivy. It made a splash of color in the reflective room, but one that somehow seemed to fit. A selfish bit of her wished Chang hadn't made the separate chair, though the comfort of body heat would probably have her napping before they got past the hellos. She nodded to Chang, her expression thoughtful. "It does. It's been weeks, but it's more than that. Strange, how it's little moments that make time seem to stretch, and not all the bits you forget in between." She glanced away from the hooded figure and to the mirrors that made the room. "You seem....more, now. Different." Alien? "And Darion said that Lucrezia is away for a while?" Her brows knit in concern on that; Darion had been vague, but didn't seem worried about Chang's wife. He also wouldn't or couldn't tell her when she'd be back though, and a part of Sakura needed to see and touch her friends, to know that they were safe and remind herself that she was safe again as well.
  19. She didn't pull away from Darion, but did shift so she could nod at Coraline. "Conrad, yes. Please go get him. He helped me, the little he could do, and I don't want to leave him stranded there. His family...they'll probably need help and protection as well." Creases formed on her forehead as she frowned, "Martian facility? Is that where the Dutch man is? I never learned his name...." Darion could feel her shiver and she turned her face away from Coraline, wanting to not have to deal with all the aftermath of the kidnapping yet. Maybe ever. "Yeah," she said softly. "We should...he shouldn't...he needs to be stopped. From being able to do this again...to anyone else...."
  20. The promotional material from Dead Rising (hell, the movie itself is probably out by this point) should provide more than enough visual data on her.
  21. Huh...? The color settings must be different between our computers, then. She is fair-to-olive colored to my view. Either way, she doesn't usually have green skin and in all public appearances has looked Caucasion. I'm not sure Alex has ever personally met her (my pardon if I'm just forgetting), so I'd assume that is what she'd go off of. The green lips/hair/eyes and pregnant nova should still be fairly good set of search criteria.
  22. Max - Sakura does not have green skin. Eyes, hair, and lips, that's all. She looks pretty much like the avatar picture. The only time she tints her skin green is to photosynthesize, and she only does that in private. I think there's only three PCs that have seen/know that she can do that.
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