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  1. Today
  2. Charlie briefly responded to Jason's summary with a sheepish "my bad". Had Kat not come in with Sean, he would have made a quick recap of the three players now active in Shelly. The Fellowship didn't count, since they were trying to figure things out - and since all the other sides seemed to not care about their game board being comprised of a whole town of people - find out how to stop them. Even the fact that they were probably being recorded wasn't an issue, because it's not like he'd be saying anything Cook didn't know. Even if Cook and his spooks didn't know about the Dark, Etienne would have filled him in, right? Etienne couldn't screw that up, right? Anyway, Charlie would have simply commented they had plenty with the Project - hands-off as they currently were - and the Dark driving people to attack them without: assuming it didn't try something new. Instead, Kat had come in, and the byplay had passed for a few moments before Charlie realized he should ask Sean to introduce her, so she didn't feel uncomfortable and rudely ignored. As such, the universe would lose a great moment of drama. Instead, it would settle for making the shift sensation that much stronger. Charlie was instantly worried about Sophia, but Jason had a point. "So we have to draw them after us, away from everyone else."
  3. Autumn and Cassandra The elevator dropped rapidly, but smoothly so. It was sleek and sterile inside the tiny moving room, barely big enough for three adults to squeeze into - obviously a personal conveyance rather than one used for transporting cargo or large numbers of people. The control panel had two buttons arranged vertically - their arrows making their purpose plain - and a red button set further down and to one side, un-emblazoned. Mentally, both girls were ticking off seconds as the elevator travelled - how long for Cook to get into the room, perhaps banter some more with Courtney, and then call for the elevator himsel- The doors hissed open almost before the two of them registered that they had come to a smooth stop. Beyond the doors was a short corridor, a double fire-door at one end and another, single door situated about halfway along. They stared for a moment, then Autumn firmly took hold of Cassie's arm and propelled both girls from the elevator as a soft chime sounded and the door began to close. They looked back at the door closing behind them, then at each other. Someone above had pressed the call code. They had maybe thirty seconds, now. Nowhere to go but forward. They moved along the corridor, Cassie trying the side door and finding it open as Autumn quickly paced up to the double doors and glanced through them in turn. Beyond the single door was another office, only this one had no regular computer monitors on a wood-finish desk as the one above had possessed. The desk here was smooth, glossy and black, the surface underscored with tiny scintillating lights that changed colour in lazy accordance with the holographic displays being projected into the air above. Across the office, on the opposite wall, was another door, currently closed. Autumn, meanwhile, peered through the panels of the double doors at a large, brightly lit hallway beyond. She heard machinery, and voices., and ducked out of sight as two uniformed men walked past. They appeared to be wearing U.S. Air Force BDUs, and though were only carrying sidearms looked tough and competent. The two Airmen turned a corner and went out of sight, and Autumn looked back to catch Cassandra's eye, each girl silently asking the other "Which way now?" Project Argo - Elsewhere "We're ready to go again." a woman in Air Force fatigues reported in a crisp tone. "It took some doing, but the wave-form oscillation matrix has been stabilised. This time the Argo's interference shouldn't throw off the projector and cause a breach elsewhere." Though the woman, a Captain with a double PhD in Astrophysics and Quantum Mechanics, privately mused that she wasn't entirely sure how it had happened last time. It was as though something had reached out and redirected the focal point of the machine - how or why was still a mystery. "Excellent." came the digitised voice of the Doctor from over the speakers. "Proceed with the startup sequencing." "Yes, sir." The Captain said automatically, turning to give orders to the Airmen at the consoles. Beyond the control center's massive observation pane she could see the cavern beyond, containing the Key - the cyclotron-like device which she had helped design and build , currently swarming with techs in radiation suits and, beyond them... A shimmering, white surface that made up one wall of the cavern. A material that defied drills, explosives, or any other means of entry that they had tried over the last decades since it's discovery, it curved slightly between floor and ceiling, continuing into the rock that embraced it. It was just a glimpse, she knew. The thing was larger than the cavern, easily as large as the lake over their heads. No, she corrected herself. Not a 'thing'. A vessel. Caught in some manner of phased-state between the atoms around it, preserved like a fly in amber, outside of normal space and time. The Argo. Cody Sikes / The Horned Man They were trying again. He/they could feel the ripples in the cosmic foundations washing across his consciousness. Good. he/they thought, rising from the grisly remnants of his last meal and staring around in the dark cave-like place which sheltered him, hid him from those who would harm him. The air was redolent with filth and the reek of decomposing meat, buzzing with flies, but Cody paid it no head as he breathed in deeply. When he'd first come to this place, drawn by the Tree in his dreams, he'd been weak, and vomited at the scent of ancient death. But now he was strong, the Horned Man told him. Now he was the Horned Man, and he had to bring home the harvest, water the Tree. He had been chosen, and should be proud of that. The Horned Man had set his eyes on other candidates, but they were blinded by the light that emanated from their own souls and were worthless because of it. No he, Cody was perfect, and strong, and without Light. The Light shone brightly in his minds-eye, a gathering of the brightest currently at the hospital. His pawns had failed, as the Horned Man had thought they might do, but the Horned Man was subtle. The Light that drew them together, the bond they shared, was a weakness. Injure one, and others would come running... And a cluster of stalks of grain were easily reaped and threshed. That was why he had let Cody try his scheme - all ways led to the End of the Path, after all. He felt the ripples strengthen and the Horned Man joined with him - or was he already joined with him, or was he already the Horned Man? It was confusing, but what wasn't confusing was the power. The men in uniform were making a key to a door they ill-understood, but that key could be used... differently. Marias Medical Center - Above AND Below They all felt it at the same time. Cassandra and Devin the most severely, then Kat. But all of them felt it to one degree or another. There was a subtle wrenching in the Shine, the subquantum as Jason and Sean called it. Space from elsewhere was being folded over itself, like a shroud being pulled over a corpse - an apt description as the sensation was accompanied by a bone-deep cold that lasted forever and an instant. The air turned stale within the medical center, the radiance from various light sources seeming... wrong somehow. Muted, throwing odd shadows. The Fellowship looked at each other. "Oh, hell to the fuck no." Devin vocalised what they were all thinking, feeling his stomach dip and roil as space became twisted. Marissa glanced out of the window, noting that the sky seemed to be entirely formed of black, billowing clouds, the leaves and bark on the trees outside taking on a withered look. Charlie glanced out into the hospital lobby, spotting Sophia coming to her feet, looking alarmed. People were milling around uncertainly, looking up at the sky, wondering if this was a storm or a sudden tornado. Dark patches began to appear on the walls, growing from the floor upwards, glistening like oil slicks as they stained the pristine hospital paintwork. Jason pulled off the monitor electrodes he was wearing and sat up, swinging his legs out of bed and grabbing his boots, pulling them on and heedless of his lack of shirt. "We're the target of this." he said tersely. "The Dark wants to kill those with Shine, feed off them somehow." "How do-?" Sean began, but Jase cut him off, his manner curt but calm. "Mr Black told me. Let's move, hmm?" Below ground, for Cassie and Autumn, the effect was much the same, and they quickly realised they were not the only one to notice it. An alarm began to sound in the complex in which they had found themselves. Cassandra clutched at her head for a moment, feeling cold hatred so intense that it made her gasp. Autumn felt a wrongness to the quality of the air, like the air itself was sick, and fought down a feeling of nausea. The sudden change had taken only moments, and the elevator carrying Courtney and probably Dr Cook was likely still on it's way down. That was when the screams started. For Autumn and Cassandra, the first was a high-pitched yell of a man in pain and mortal terror, suddenly cut off, from beyond the double doors Autumn was standing at. For the Fellowship in the medical center's ICU, the screams were of fright, accompanied by a crash of glass from the front of the building and finally, as though punctuating the whole horrible cacophony with an exclamation point, a gargling, shrieking roar that all remembered from the previous Friday.
  4. Yesterday
  5. Cass had been running a little simulation in her head all this time. The "If Cook Gets Back, Here's What We'll Do" simulation. It featured she and Autumn playing it cool, greeting Cook in his office like they'd been waiting a little while and were totally chill about it. They'd say something like, "Hey there you are. About time, we were about to go looking for you." And he'd be confused and maybe a little mad at first, but he wouldn't really suspect them because waiting around wasn't what people did when they were up to no good. But in that simulation, Cook was alone. And also not a murderer. Those things changed the calculation significantly. When Autumn motioned for her to stop talking, Cassandra realized by the clenching of her heart that they were about to be cornered by a murderer in his murder-lair. She immediately went to the keypad and punched in the numbers she'd seen Dr Cook put in during her vision. As the door slid silently open, she waved Autumn over. The redhead's eyes widened and she gave Cass an 'are you nuts' look. Cassie shook her head and gestured around the office, indicating its spectacular lack of hiding places, then back into the elevator as she stepped inside. Autumn hastily followed, and Courtney saying she wanted to get her hands on them was the last they heard as the door slide closed again, and Cassandra pushed the 'down' button within.
  6. ICU Room - Everyone except Autumn and Cassie "You're sweet." Marissa took the soda from Cade with a soft smile. "Thank you." she murmured as Devin set the can bought for Jase close at hand after popping the tab. Everyone else seemed to stop discussing what they had been discussing, which Sean had been expecting as he pushed forward and set the bag of clothing down by Jason. "Sweatpants, shirt, socks and boxers." he noted in response to his friend's raised brow. Jase smiled a little, the uninjured corner of his mouth lifting gently. "Thank you." he replied, picking up the soda and taking a sip. "I think they burned my old shirt." he said with a wry gleam in his eyes, a statement which caused Marissa to snort. "They should torch the rest of your wardrobe while they're at it." she snarked with an expressive quirk of her maroon lips. "Do you even have anything other than grey, white and army green shirts in there?" Jason didn't reply, just smiled a little as he took another drink, Devin chuckling agreement with his sister's assessment of their friend's dress sense. "When do you think they'll let you out?" Sean asked, pondering the nicely flowering bruises on Jason's torso. Ouch. He looked back at Kat, who was being unobtrusive at the moment near the door, and gave her a reassuring smile. He knew first hand that being in a room with this crowd was daunting - hell, being in a room with just Marissa was daunting. Kat wasn't really experiencing that, though there was the usual sense of 'oh hey, strange people. Don't mind me!' in her manner. That seemed secondary to her, though, as she got a feel for the room and it's occupants. There was something else here, a harmonic that seemed to fill the available spaces around the room's inhabitants. Like... Jason, who seemed to have a personal space that took up the whole room, as though no matter where you stood you were in arm's reach. Sean, who seemed to buzz on the cusp of hearing with the activities of his thoughts. Marissa seemed to draw all the light in the room to her, as though moving in her own personal spotlight as she smiled devastatingly at the big guy - Cade - and tossed her hair over one shoulder. And her brother, who seemed never at rest, even while sitting down stuffing his face with what looked like jerky from a bag and chatting to Jason about how someone called 'Lona' would be by later. The sensations weren't intrusive or overwhelming, but there were there nonetheless - and they were definitely sensations, not opinions. Like all of the traits she noted were registering on a sixth sense of hers. It was strange, and so she remained quiet for now as she watched and tried to make sense of this new thing. Dr Cook's Office - Autumn and Cassie The words were breathed rather than spoken, and the tone of them as much as the shocking import of the words themselves was what drew Autumn's attention back from the corridor outside, her blue eyes widening as what Cassandra had said hit home. "Fffuuuck." she said in a similar low tone. "Are you sure? I mean, really sure?" To think that Dr Cook, who was a pillar of the community, had murdered someone... "Etienne came here, he was angry and telling Cook he wasn't going to spy no more. Cook got mad and scared, and pulled the gun on him, taking him back there." Cassie pointed at the secret door, then looking at Autumn's curious expression. "It's a secret elevator. Anyway, when he came back he was alone." "Fuck." Autumn said quietly, less drawn out but more emphatically this time. "What now?" "Now I'm going to try and get into the computer here-" Cassie said, her lovely features still a little pale at the prospect of investigating a murderer's office. Autumn raised a hand suddenly, cutting her friend off. She had heard something, and turned back to the slightly-ajar door. Doctor Cook was walking down the corridor towards the office, and by his side was Courtney, both of them walking purposefully. The pair of them were talking in low voices which carried to Autumn's ears. "...get you back to the school." Cook was saying. "They'll be looking for you at cheer practice, yes?" "Yep. Wouldn't do for the beloved cheer captain to miss practice." Courtney said. "Especially since everyone thinks I'm still there." "Take the underground transit." Cook told her. "Just make sure no-one's hanging around the egress point when you get to the other end." "Gee, thanks." Courtney's crimson lips spread in a smile. "Can I borrow your carkeys next, daddy? I promise I'll be careful handling the stick." It seemed to be an old game between them, Cook rolling his eyes slightly at her blatancy. "Just get back to school, and keep an eye on things." he told her firmly. "This attack wasn't your doing, or so you say. But both young men aren't even sure why they were angry with young Mr Bannon." "They caught the other one, then?" Courtney asked, attentively. Cook nodded. "His mother drove him to the sheriff's office herself. Seems he's remorseful and confused." The doctor grabbed Courtney's arm just as they got to the office door, turning her to face him. Thus far, neither had noticed the door was ajar. "This better not have been you, Courtney. The Doctor was livid when he got the report about you pushing a cheerleader and one of the football players instigate an incident with the Bannon boy. No more games - all of them are hands-off until further notice." The expensively dressed redhead pouted, her dark eyes sullen. "Fine. I got the message. Just so you know, when they're hands-on again, I want in on that action. I know just how I'd tackle it." Cook released her, and the two turned back towards the door...
  7. As Autumn took her position, Cassandra breezed around the room, just giving it a once-over. She took a snapshot from one corner, then the opposite one. At the big print with the mountain and the lake she paused thoughtfully, then took a photo of that as well. She'd seen that before. Might be important. On searching the sports jacket on the rack, Cass found a set of keys...which by the fob went to a car. A Porsche. Her eyes widened and she held them up for Autumn to see...then even took a picture of them in her hand, and put them back. No grand theft auto today. Tomorrow though... Her exploration of the walls yielded a small keypad set into one. At that keypad she hunched over to bring it level with her face, and exhaled onto it repeatedly. When Cass turned to see Autumn staring at her, she blushed a little and said, "It's...supposed to fog up the keys except the ones that have skin oil on them. It, uh, didn't work though." Clearing her throat, she quickly made her way over to the desk. Between the two monitors was something odd. A funny sort of projector that was actually built into the desk itself. She tried wiggling it, but to no avail...it seemed to have been bolted on, or perhaps was poking up through a hole in the desktop. It'd have to be disassembled to get it out, Cass reckoned. She bumped the mouse a little, and the righthand screen awoke to a password prompt. Dr Cook had left his office unlocked, but not his computer, it seemed. In the drawers was a bounty though. The top right one opened to show a notepad upon which was written, 'J.bannon 4oclock meeting. Notes and observations.' In a neat printed script. It was otherwise blank. Her breath caught though when she pushed the pad aside to see what was under it. A gun. She didn't know a lot about guns, so she wasn't sure how big it was, or what make or model it was. She did notice, by chance, that it didn't have the little switch by the handle. The safety. That seemed odd to her. Cass quickly took a picture of the weapon, without touching it, and closed the drawer. The middle drawer of the desk then had just stationary and breathmints and boring stuff. The other drawers were locked. Dead end. Other than he might be planning to shoot Jase. Cass didn't think that'd go well for him. "Find anything?" Cassie looked up at Autumn and shrugged. "He has a gun. And he was planning to see Jase at 4 today. That's like..." she checked her phone, "...a half hour from now? Probably made that plan before the fight though." Autumn nodded, though seemed ill at ease at the mention of a gun. "So what now?" That was the question, wasn't it, Cassandra thought. "I think I'm gonna try something...shiny." She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. In her mind's eye she built Cook's office, just as it had been while she explored it. Cass let the details seep in, the colors fill out, until it was as good as the real thing. Then the shine took over. She felt more of the roomness entering her mental construct...more detail than she'd been able to see, but that was still there, noticed only subconsciously. The smell of it. The feel of the still air. The slight tension that came with it belonging to someone else. And beyond that, a kind of weird intangible sense that her mind didn't really know what to call, but that clearly identified the space as 'Dr Cook's Office at the Medical Center.' And then Cassandra rotated that space, not along any physical axis, but along the axis of time. thewindowslightenedanddarkenedandlightenedandablurofmovementCookandsomeoneelseandothersandthenemptyand...she managed to slow it down in time to spot Cook at his computer, and let the 'playback' go long enough to look over his shoulder and see where his fingers fell on the keyboard. With a gasp she let the vision go and quickly scrabbled at her phone's Note app, copying the code down into it. Autumn was looking at her again. "Everything okay?" the redhead asked. Cassie nodded. "Yeah. Just...had a lot at once there. Why, what did it look like?" "You were just kinda...standing there for minute, and then did a jumpscare. Sort of jerked and..." Autumn sucked a breath in as if startled. "Like that." "Okay." Cassie squared her shoulders and steeled herself. "I'm gonna try again." This time the mental 'construct' of Cook's office came almost immediately. When she started to 'rotate' it, she did so far more tentatively and carefully...and that caution was rewarded. Days sped past, timed by the light sluicing in through the blinds over the windows. She found resistance after a few days, and didn't push it...instead releasing the image and allowing it to move forward normally. "Holy shit," Cassandra exhaled, her eyes opening wide. "Holy shit, I think he killed Etienne."
  8. Cade had left to get Jason a soda, and thanks to having visited his mother here many times, often to bring a fresh cooked lunch when she had a night shift, he knew his way around the medical center. After getting a soda he knew Jason liked, as well as another one he'd seen Marissa drink before, he began heading back to Jason's room, only to run into one of the deputies. "Officer Lennox." he said warmly with respectful nod of the head. Of course all the deputies knew Cade, thanks to his father, and Lennox was no exception, still he seemed abit nervous. "Bringing your mom dinner?" "No, here to see a friend." Cade answered politely. "That Bannon kid?" The deputy seemed abit concerned. "Yeah, Jason's a friend, he got worked over pretty bad by those two. He wanted a soda, so I went to get him one." Cade replied with a thin smile. "You know your dad... The Sheriff..." He didn't seem to want to get involved, but likely had some instruction from his father... Lennox was one of the younger deputies, not too long out of the Academy, so of course he'd do what the Sheriff asked. "I know officer Lennox. My father doesn't run my life though. I decide who my friends are." There was a coldness in his voice that wasn't there before, but he was still smiling, albeit not by much. "Alright then Cade, just be careful. 'S alot of strange stuff happening as of late. Weird reports of impossible occurrences. Most of it's probably pranks, or people smoking bad weed or such, but it's been alot more than just a few calls." The young deputy seemed to back off, knowing better than to overplay it. "Thanks for the warning, seeya later." With that, Cade head back to Jason's room, finding it had filled considerably since his departure. "I leave for abit and the whole party assembles." He smiled as he passed the soda for Jason up so it could be set on the small table by his bed. He handed the other to Marissa. "I thought you might like one as well."
  9. Now available from our RedBubble store: Trinity Continuum: Æon psi order shirts and other merch! Since the Trinity Continuum is ours, we can bypass the usual approval process, so I just activated anything that looks good. Enjoy your shirts, dresses, spiral-bound notebooks, stickers, and more. Trinity Continuum logo (shirts) Trinity Continuum: Æon logo (shirts) The Æon Trinity (2123) (shirts) The Æsculapian Order (shirts) Chitra Bhanu (shirts) ISRA (shirts) The Legions (shirts) The Ministry of Noetic Affairs (shirts) Norça (shirts) Orgotek (shirts) Upeo wa Macho (shirts) Sales Scarred Lands products for Pathfinder (the Scarred Lands Players Guide and The Wise & The Wicked 2nd Edition) are upwards of 90% off from Indie Press Revolution! Both products are an incredible $5 each! Kickstarter Update The Kickstarter for Cults of the Blood Gods for Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition finished last week! After hitting its $25,000 funding goal in just 47 minutes (and doubling it in under 10 hours), we currently at $150,391, or 501%. Thanks to our 2594 backers! We hit the following stretch goals: Trail of Bone and Ashes: The Ties That Bind, a playable Hecata story; Old Wounds, exploring the enmity between the Cappadocians, Lamiae, Giovanni, Samedi, and Harbingers; Open Your Eyes: an examination of Golconda; The Wellspring: wherein the coterie take over an abandoned cult Blood Gods Backer T-Shirt Blood Gods Desktop Wallpaper Forbidden Paths: Pathways to Power: cults dedicated to power through fear, influence, or devotion, including worshipers of the Nictuku, errant houses within the Tremere, and the ancestral obsession of the Ventrue. Dreams of Golconda: A number of cults who believe they alone know the path to Golconda. Eschatological Thought: About those cultists who want to bring an end to everything. Ruinous Beliefs: Infernalist vampires. Faithful Undead: Undead Disciples: Storyteller characters. Cultish Collectives: Sample coteries. Blood-caked Loresheets: Cultish loresheets Art budget increase & creative team reward x2! Coming soon to Kickstarter: Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition Did you miss one of our previous Kickstarters? The following Kickstarted products are still open for preorders via BackerKit: Scarred Lands: Creature Collection 5e They Came from Beneath the Sea!: They Came from Beneath the Sea! rulebook Trinity Continuum: Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Dystopia Rising: Evolution rulebook Realms of Pugmire: Pirates of Pugmire Exalted: Lunars: Fangs at the Gate Chronicles of Darkness: Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 Chronicles of Darkness: The Contagion Chronicle Community Spotlight The following community-created content for Scarred Lands has been added to the Slarecian Vault in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Realms of Pugmire has been added to Canis Minor in the last week: 100 Books to Find on a Monarchies of Mau Bookshelf Reigning Cats and Dogs, Vol II: Cunning Cats Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The Storypath Nexus is now open to Trinity Continuum and Aeon products! The following community-created content for Storypath has been added to the Storypath Nexus in the last week: Trinity Continuum: Conditioned Responses Scion: Rio de Janeiro by Gods & Myths Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell?
  10. Kat was gently following Sean's pace staring amazed at her surroundings. It felt like switching from her grandparents's in Port Navalo, to Paris. She was now wondering if the entire population of Shelly was made of the people who run the hospital. But well, everything felt big to her. That's what fucking Erwann would've said, at least. Fucking Erwann. "I don't mean to sound rude at all, but how comes there's such a big thing in Shelly ?" Sean looked at her, an eyebrow sky high, and as he was about to answer, caught sight of Sophia sat in the corridor, his mouth puckering as though he'd just bitten into a lemon "We're there." They entered in the room, which room looked crowded now that they were in, in comparison to what she would've expected. The slender figure in the bed, she barely recognized him from her Chem class, this had to be Jason. He looked like he had been through hell. Now that she thought about it, the dark-haired girl was in Chem class too. Pretty, she thought, before noticing the resemblance between the girl and another guy in the room. Buy one, one offered. As for the last guy, he was completely unknown to her. Not bad looking, though. I could hit that. Then Jason's last words, she overheard as they entered the room, came back to her. Mr. Black ? She couldn't help but raise an eyebrow.
  11. Tuesday Afternoon Sean arched a quizzical brow at Kat's insouciant grin, but nodded. "Okay, then. I'd have to go anyway, I have an appointment scheduled with my doctor." Which I can't let you sit in on. Sean glanced around the milling students and faculty one final time, the press of bodies starting to break up now that the action and excitement was over, then shrugged a shoulder down the hall. "It's over for now - we should get to class before we're late." Sean tried to be a good guide during their afternoon classes, explaining the quirks and regulations of Shelly High, formal and informal, as they came up, but Kat to see he was fidgety and eager to get out of school. Only a fraction of his thoughts were on class, though he was able to answer any question when called upon. Kat caught him doodling in the margins of a notebook, strange creatures, some indistinct and amorphous, others with features suggesting features derived from rather explicit anatomy. "What're those?" the new student asked with blatant curiosity, pointed at some of the doodles. "Huh? Oh!" Sean glanced at what he'd been idly drawing. He was much better with graphic programs than sketching, but these were better than most of his drawings and he'd barely been paying attention. "Just ideas for a game." It wasn't a lie, but Kat got the sense there was more to it, especially after Sean closed the book with a snap, flashing her an apologetic smile. "Game's still in development." The bell sounding the end of class had hardly started ringing before Sean was up and out of his seat, his satchel over his shoulder, and with an emphatic, "Finally! Let's get out of here." Sean led Kat to the student parking lot at a brisk pace that made his figure move in interesting ways she couldn't help but notice, nor be aware of others noticing too, though Sean didn't seem to see, or was ignoring it. The vehicle Sean led Kat to wasn't what Kat expected, though if she questioned herself honestly, she'd have to admit she didn't know what she'd expect the dichotomous boy would drive. A jacked up, deep forest green Jeep SUV. Both of them needed the running boards to climb into the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk with any sort of grace. It was almost reversing out of the parking space before Sean got the key in the ignition or Kat got settled in the worn but plush passenger seat. "It's... big," Kat offered, looking around the vehicle, glancing inside the central compartment, scrolling through the preset radio stations. "We can get a lot of snow in Montana, and I'm not exactly built for pushing a stuck car," Sean explained, giving the steering wheel a pat. "'Sides, it was what I could snag at the auction." He grinned, he was still getting used to driving the SUV, compared to when he could borrow his mom's Corolla. "I like it. I like driving so high." Uh-huh. Kat noticed something in the back seat. "What's that? A drone?" "Yup! Built that one myself. I also have a DJI one." Sean enthusiastically talked about his drones and their respective specs, interspersed with pointing out the modest features of the small town of Shelly as they drove away from the school. Sean had a great speaking voice, fluid and animated, but his words suddenly cut off with a pursed frown, considering what he had heard about the fight and how badly Jason was beaten. "Can you hang on a sec, Kat? I gotta make a call." Before waiting for a reply, Sean had pressed a button on the central console. "Call Jase, home," Sean commanded. Do you mean Call Jase, home? came a smooth electronic query. "Yes," Sean sighed, already annoyed with the confirmation, even as he was annoyed when the car asked if he was calling some other random name that didn't sound anything like Jase, so the confirmation was necessary. Calling Jase, home. The sound of a call being made filled the SUV... and continued filling it until the answering machine came on. "This is--" Sean cut it off with a sharp jab of a finger and an irritated, "Harrumph!" His nose scrunched up as he considered, then he quickly glanced over at Kat. "Do you mind if we make a quick stop before heading to the hospital? I just thought of something." "Sure! I mean, of course not," Kat replied. Sean took a sharp turn and soon he had pulled into the small lot in front of a clothing store, Larsons Clothing. Sean hopped out of the SUV, Kat following at his side, and a bell tinkled as they stepped into the last of a breed - a small town family owned merchant with great service and excellent prices. "Good afternoon, ladies," chirped the friendly and matronly woman coming out from around the service the service counter, a warm smile on her face. She was one of the owners of the shop, Sandra Larson, as stated on her name tag. "Can I help you with anything? We sell mostly men's clothing here, which may not be a trouble for your slender friend, but it may be a little trickier for something as, hmm, shapely as yourself, miss. But let's me see what I can do..." "No, no, it's okay," Sean assured the proprietor, blinking. He'd been in here before, and recognized Sandra, but realized the last time was when he looked a great deal more like Kat than he did now. "I know what I'm looking for, shopping for a friend." "Ah, of course." There was a twinkle in her eye as she smile grew a trifle. "I'll be at the counter if you need any help." Sean took a quick look around the modest store, then strode towards one corner, Kat trailing in his wake, looking around with more casual interest. Sean knew why women took longer shopping for clothes, and it wasn't just that they generally had a lot more options to choose from. Women were a lot more varied in shape and what fit one didn't mean it would fit another, even if technically there were the same 'size'. Sean had to deal with it and was reasonably good at estimating what fit. He pictured his friend and with a critical eye, picked out a pair of grey jogging pants, a pair of socks and boxer-briefs, and a heavier shirt, with the local high school sports team, the Rangers, on the chest. It wasn't long before he heading back to the counter with his selections in his armed held to his chest. Kat raised a pair of questioning brows. "I tried calling his place, but his dad didn't answer, and I didn't want to nose about trying to get in with nobody there," Sean explained softly, not adding that Jase's dad was part of a survivalist group or something, and had access to too many guns. "I figure Jase will have been all bloody after the fight and could use a change of clothes." Sean plunked his purchases on the counter and Sandra began ringing him out, making small talk. "Shopping for a friend?" "Yes'm. He's in the hospital and could use a change." Sean usually did his shopping in Great Falls or online, and wasn't paying that much attention to retail small talk. "How sweet, I'm sure he'll appreciate it." "Um-hmm." Sandra folded the clothing neatly and placed in a plastic bag and handed it over to Sean. "You and your friend stop by again sometime soon, y'hear?" "Yes, sure, we will," Sean replied with automatic politeness, then was heading back to his Grand Cherokee, tossing the bag in the back, before climbing back into the driver's seat. "Now, the hospital." Sean was well acquainted with the Marias Medical Center, and even if this was the first time he actually drove there himself, it was with a sense of familiarity. Over the last six years, he'd been to Marias more often than most of the most accident prone athletes in school, and so knew the lay out of the place very well. Or at least, the public layout of the Marias Medical Center, now aware there was much more to the place. And much more to his personal doctor, Dr. Cook. Still, Kat noted the blithe confidence with which Sean walked through the hospital, exchanging the occasional greeting with a nurse or doctor he recognized or who recognized him. At the desk for general admissions, he asked for where Jason was - saying he was a friend - and when after giving him the ward and room number, the nurse went to give him directions, Sean waved the offer away. "I know the way, I've been here enough. Thanks, though." Sean pointed the way down the hall with his chin, the bag of clothes tucked under his arm. "This way, Kat. It isn't that far."
  12. Jason, Devin, Marissa and Charlie "You kiddin'?" Devin stared at Charlie, snorting around a mouthful of home-made jerky. "Weren't you at the-?" "No, he wasn't." Marissa sighed, rolling her eyes. "He skipped it after having breakfast with me." "Shit." Devin summarised an entire couple of sentences of general disappointment and disgust with one word. "Well, now you're playing catch-up, Glee Club. There's a reason Jase had us around at his barn, and it ain't for the joys of company." "In short," Jason interjected, focusing on Charlie. "There is a mysterious person, dubbed Mr Black or the Man in Black, who some of us first saw at the post-game celebration at Bunnee's. Since then he has challenged me to an impromptu drag race, wordlessly menaced Cass and Cade, and now appeared here and eaten my lunch while dropping some hints as to what is going on. We're not sure whose side he's on, but my first guess would be 'his own'. He claims not to be on the side of the Dark. And now you know about as much as we do." Jason smiled slightly, though it still pulled painfully at his torn lip. "At least, about Mr Black." ====================== Autumn & Cassandra The further away from the main treatment areas of the hospital they got, the quieter it got. The one time anyone seemed to notice them it was an orderly coming out of the Imaging Department who, looked askance at the two girls before Cassie stepped forward. Autumn tried not to look tense, instead focusing on the icepack she was holding to her face as she glanced over the orderly's shoulder into the room he'd left, seeing machinery and other people moving about. "Hey, the sign said there were vending machines this way. Are we on the right track?" she perked at the orderly, who smiled back almost automatically. "Sure." he nodded. "Right down there." he added, pointing the way they'd been headed. Cassie thanked him, then led Autumn further down the corridor, pausing as they finally came to a door with the words "Dr James Cook, M.D." embossed on the frosted glass that comprised it. They looked at each other, then up and down the hallway, then back at the door. There was a lock. Biting her lower lip, Cassandra reached out and tried the door, her pensive expression becoming a wide smile as the latch clicked and the door opened inwards. Throwing Autumn an excited grin she glanced once more up and down the hall then slipped inside, beckoning the redhead to follow her. Blowing out a breath, Autumn snuck in and shut the door, both girls taking a moment to look around the office of the man who'd claimed to have 'made' the gifted kids. A coatrack by the door held a brown sports jacket and a spare white doctor's coat. The room was sparsely decorated, the carpeting was thick underfoot, and there were no windows, several bright lamps illuminating a couch against one wall, a couple of chairs and then a large, oak-finish desk with a blotter, keyboard and two computer monitors arranged on it, with a very comfortable looking chair behind the desk. The wall behind Cook's desk sported a number of framed certificates and awards, along with a full-length mirror to one side and a huge print photograph on the other. "I'll keep watch." Autumn murmured as Cassie took stock of everything, her eyes bright and inquisitive. Stepped to the door, Autumn cracked it a fraction and peered out into the corridor. "What does this guy look like?" "Tall, dark hair going grey, handsome in a smug-and-knows-it-way." Cassie said as she looked around. "Probably wearing a doctor's coat, too." "Right." Autumn said, peering back into the room for a second and nodding before returning to keeping watch.
  13. Last week
  14. Sean Cassidy stunk. That was Sophia's opinion of her fellow big-breasted gamer. Why, was a subject of the usual teen gossip and rumor, for Sophia had never shared the motivation behind her dislike of Sean to anyone, not even her newly-minted boyfriend Charlie, whom was friends with Cassidy. But that was at most, a 3 on the Bothering Scale. No, the real problem was Jason Bannon. Bannon was shady as fuck, a criminal and Sophia had heard about the Hayhook Incident. Being assaulted by seniors didn't give him sympathy points with her, not for a dope dealer whose junkies turned on him. But it made her wonder why sweet Charlie was friends with Jase, much less sitting worriedly with hands clasped in the waiting room with her. This was the start of a relationship with her crush, so Sophia wasn't going to give him a hard time, and even came along with him. But it was weird. Almost as weird as what happened when Mark Belcher grabbed Autumn Keane and she grabbed him back... assuming her eyes hadn't played tricks on her. Cade came by and nodded. "Jase's looking forward to seeing people." Charlie smiled and got up. "Glad to hear it." His smile dropped itself briefly as he caught the last portion of Marissa, Devin and Jason's conversation. "Looks like you're recovering well if you're back into Sherlock form. I'm happy to see that, but a little miffed too. This is my first time hearing of a Man in Black unrelated to The Princess Bride, but definitely not yours. I'm sure you had a good reason for not saying, but it would have helped to have known." Charlie blinked off the images coming to mind. "Especially if he wasn't so merciful."
  15. Well met, adventurers! Travis Legge here, returning to bring the next round of playtesting for our forthcoming Scarred Lands RPG supplements. The feedback we received on last month’s release of Playtest #1 Hollow Legionnaire Revisited and Goreguard has been processed and the results integrated into Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad! We are already seeing useful and passionate feedback on last week’s rollout of the Blood Sea Pirate and Blood Sea Alchemy playtest. As a reminder, we are still collecting data on that, so if you have not grabbed it yet for testing, please do so today! As our team prepares for the release of Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad and Vigil Watch, we’ll be introducing several rules to playtest through Open Development. Check them out, use them at your tables, and let us know what you think. Here are the details! Thirteen playtest packages in total Each playtest is open for three weeks Each playtest includes a survey for you to enter your feedback and rate your satisfaction with the content Each playtest document will contain a link to a brief survey for feedback. I will post a new playtest each week, with each survey open for three weeks, on the Onyx Path blog. The final Open Development playtest in this schedule will be posted on Tuesday, March 24th, 2020. This week we venture to northeastern Ghelspad and shift our attention to dangerous threats of the Plains of Lede! Follow the link to find rules for the Proud Scout and Unredeemed Orc Hand of Misery. Try them out at your table and let us know what you think! Link to Playtest #3: Proud Scout and Unredeemed Orc Hand of Misery Link to Playtest #3 Feedback: https://forms.gle/7yTokukBHBVREJt48 The next playtest will be posted on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. See you then!
  16. Tuesday Afternoon - Marias Medical Center Directory, directory... Okay, seriously? she grumbled inwardly, pressing the ice pack to her bruised jaw and grimacing as two of the facilities staff rolled past with a cart of cleaning supplies, chatting about the previous night’s episode of “Mindseeker.” It was more or less the same tone the orderlies and deputies had used when talking about the “Bannon kid”- I have no personal investment in this subject, and don’t really care what happens, because it doesn’t affect my life in any real way. It stung, a little, that until recently she’d thought of Jase that way herself, and the realization was enough to quench the nascent flare of indignation on his behalf. Maybe she’d get a chance to check on him before she left, say hi to his dad or something… Jason was in pretty rough shape, and based on their talk at the farm, Gar might not handle it all that well. Autumn mulled that over as they walked, her sneakers quiet on the polished floor. The two girls had been wandering the hallways for several minutes without running into either a reception desk or someone they recognized, and while that meant no one had stopped or questioned them yet, it also meant there was no clearly-designated person to ask directions. It seemed a little odd that, despite the number of people in uniforms busily milling about, no one had offered to help them thus far, or done more than give the teens a cursory glance. Were clueless-looking teenagers such a common occurrence at the medical center that no one noticed them anymore? Maybe everyone was just crazy busy, or just super uncomfortable interrupting someone who was on the phone; for all Autumn knew based on the rumors she'd been told, they were being monitored from a closet stuffed full of computer equipment somewhere, so nobody who worked there cared about underage trespassers. Under the circumstances, it's not that she particularly wanted special attention, but the pointed lack of it seemed either rude, creepy, or both. "Oh, for crying out loud, did they design this place to be confusing, or what?" Autumn muttered under her breath, restlessly scanning the signs and pinboards that occasionally interrupted the otherwise sterile, featureless walls. The whole place was immaculate, clean and contemporary, and if she'd never heard anything about Dr. Cook or the sinister-sounding "Project," she probably would have been impressed with the setup. "Deeefinitely a possibility," the pretty young journalist next to her replied airily, rolling her eyes for dramatic effect and miming a talking mouth with her free hand. The redhead grinned at that, in spite of the twinge of pain it caused, and returned her attention back to scanning the hallway for anything that might help them navigate the maze of white corridors. There was something compelling about Cass's improvised performance, a certain degree of confidence, as well as the aforementioned "pluck;" even if the inquisitive blonde wasn't sure what she was going to find, exactly, she still needed to look, and that was a sentiment Autumn could definitely appreciate. As they approached another intersection, a large, glass-covered rectangle caught her attention and she paused, tapping Cassandra on the shoulder. "Hey, ask if three o'clock is okay," she suggested, meeting the other girl's gaze before darting a glance in that direction: just around the corner was a directory of the ground floor and quick reference of the other areas of the medical center. Holding the ice against her cheek, Autumn took a deep breath and walked over to examine the names and numbers listed there, feeling a tiny knot of anticipation coiling eagerly around itself in her stomach. She was nervous, sure, but it was like the feeling just before getting on a brand new roller coaster, or leaning out to rappel down a ledge- once you started, you were committed, regardless of what happened. And, there it was, near the top of the list, in crisp white plastic letters on a grey background: Dr. J. Cook. Diagnostic Medicine. East Wing. And, conveniently enough, a little further down, Vending. “Think he’s in there?” she asked, slate-colored eyes scanning the board for other useful points of reference as Cass appeared next to her and covertly snapped another pic. “One way to find out,” the intrepid reporter grinned, and the two girls wasted no time heading further into the complex.
  17. Both Jauntsens saw their friend's pale green eyes narrow for a moment, as though he were seriously considering Devin's offer - which, for all they knew, he could well be. Then he shook his head a little, sighing. "Tempting. But they were being pushed and besides, they're already neck deep in shit." "Pushed?" Marissa frowned prettily - she did most things prettily, Jase noted not for the first time in passing. "The Dark." Devin asserted as he plopped into the chair and rummaged through the cold bag next to it. "Oh hey, Bannon's Special Honey Jerky, made from organic locally sourced honey and organic locally sourced hitchhikers." "Go ahead." Jase shrugged. "I'm not up to chewing right now." He gingerly prodded at his jaw, then put a finger in his mouth to feel whether any of his teeth were loose. Apparently satisfied, he glanced at the other two. "I did actually give your idea some thought, Mari. And it's a good one. The only reason I didn't come forward is because popularity doesn't interest me - I am not a social creature and failed to see what clique I could possibly influence... But that was an error on my part. I should have asked you how I could help with your plan, rather than assume there was no place in it for me." He smiled, careful of his split lip. "So, when I'm out of here, show me what needs doing and I'll see it done. Queen or not, you're not on your own." As Devin grunted absent approval around a mouthful of jerky, Marissa's gaze met Jase's, softening slightly even though her arms were still folded across her chest. "You volunteering to be my knight?" she asked challengingly, her smirk a touch coquettish. "I'd hardly aspire so high." Jase retorted deadpan, his eyes gleaming. Devin grumbled something that might have been 'get a room already', but it was hard to say for certain. "There is another thing." Jason stated slowly, considering. Cook and Co knew a lot already, and he was pretty sure Etienne had told them something about the 'Dark'. "I had a black-clad visitor today, before you two got here. Came to tell me that he and the Dark are not on the same side, amongst other things." "You believe that?" Devin asked, suddenly intent. Marissa likewise abandoned the playful demeanour and frowned once more. "I was at his mercy. He's had two chances to kill me that I know of, and I'm still here. All he did was eat my lunch." Jase shrugged. "There's more, and it makes sense with what I've observed... But I'll drop that when most of us are here. Saves repeating myself."
  18. "You're a dingus." Marissa said flatly once Cade had left the room. Her arms were firmly crossed over her chest in the universal sign of distancing herself from whom she she was speaking to. It was obvious that she was both a mixture of irritated with him (when wasn't she), and pleased that he was, at least, alive. Her heels tapped softly on the tiled floor as she two-step paced not from his bedside. "What the hell were thinking? You should have walked away, ran even. This," she motioned to his injuries. "Is nothing more than male ego and pride." She paused long enough to inhale an annoyed breath he knew was laced with a thousand reasons why everything was his fault, despite the odds he was up against. "For what it's worth, I'm glad you're okay. You're still a dingus though." "Duly noted," Jason smirked. "So, what's this?" He pointed his finger to Marissa then shifted it to where Cade was standing. "We're dating, sorta. Kinda." Her faced scrunched. "It's complicated. I got to thinking after you pissed me off-" "Which time," he mused with a smirk. Her eyes locked on him and she pressed on, not finding his jokes humorous in the slightest. "The last time. I tried to get along, I did, but Jason, I'm not designed like they are. Evil isn't born, it's made, and frankly if that's the case, I want to be art. Trying to be a part of the Abstinence by Circumstance Club was seriously damaging my reputation. When I told you guys I would help you become popular and get the school on track, do you know how many approached me and how we were going to do it? None. Because the Nerd Herd doesn't care. I may hate it here, but this is still my town, I worked hard to become the Evil Queen and I'll be damned if I'm going to let something run through and mess that up." "I realized, if I'm going to re-establish my dominance at Shelly High, I'd need arm candy. Chet is now Courtney's thug, so, I found my own. Cade is like my big dumb Rocky, flexing his arms for his innocent damsel, Janet Weiss." She looked at her phone and wedged it firmly back into her tight back pocket. She looked a smidgen more irritated. "My brother is coming. Anyway, I needed to date again, I don't like it, but I can't stay some beautiful princess in a tower my whole life. Cade is weak, malleable and easy to control. Like a puppy. He doesn't talk much, and when he does it makes little sense, he's hot, built like The Rock and as dumb as one too. So, its like dating, with training wheels. He wouldn't know what to do with me if I was naked with tattooed instructions. I feel safe with him. Not too fast, not too slow... I'm in control, you know?" There was a notable shift in the air as it slowly rippled and shifted like a stone being thrown on the surface of a pond, then a sudden purple snap of energy spat out Devin as he appeared in the blink of an eye from nowhere. Teleporting into the medical center was probably not the best idea, but Devin was cocky and at this point was almost living to give Cook the finger every day. "S'up, Douche Strudel." He nodded to Jason. "Where's your girlfriend?" Marissa said with the typical measure of snark involved when she brought up Lona into any conversation. "Where's your puppy?" Devin shot back with a smirk. In unison they both gave each other the finger. It was amusing, but a part of Jason wondered if they shared a noetic link, being twins and all. "So, what? Charlie decide on Stomp the Yard and you just had to audition with your face? How'd that work out for you?" Devin asked Jason. Jason smiled and shook his head. "Don't make me laugh right now." He replied as he tried not to laugh. "Say the word, bro, and they'll wake up in North Korea wearing 'Make America Great Again' t-shirts." Devin offered as Marissa snickered and covered her laughter with her hand. "I gotchu fam."
  19. So, we’re between Kickstarters now that the V5 Cults of the Blood Gods KS is over. And what a fantastic run that was! Over 500% funded and over 2500 backers that produced three additional V5 projects as Stretch Goals! Trail of Bone and Ashes – a collection of playable stories. Forbidden Faiths – expanded information and additional rules for cults. Faithful Undead – new SPCs and their cultish coteries, and LORESHEETS! We were also able to fund TWO pay bonuses for the writers, whose text that we provided to backers really went a long way in ratcheting up everyone’s excitement. Which we feel really great about, as we do about all the fantastic commentary from backers. All in all, it was just a delightful KS experience – a great way to start the new year. Which brings us to the next Kickstarter we’re setting up right now, for Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition. (That’s the teaser graphic for the game up above.) After we set it up, we still need to get WW/Paradox‘s OK on the info presented, so we can’t really give a date yet. If it isn’t obvious, this is a game set in the Chronicles of Darkness, and uses the CofD 2e rules set. (Not the Storypath System, though, which is Onyx Path‘s house system and not one we can freely mix in to WW-owned game lines). Distant Worlds art by Seth Rutledge One thing that came out of discussions during the Cults KS, and from meetings at MidWinter, is that as Onyx Path has evolved our business model during these past eight years, it’s not obvious why we do things as we do them. A lot of stores that carry RPGs still aren’t aware that we are putting books into stores, and other than you fabulous folks who read this blog every week (You do read this blog every week, right? You should, most doctors I know recommend it), there are people out there in our community that also aren’t sure where and how to get our books. KICKSTARTER Let’s start with Kickstarter and how and why we use a crowd-funding platform. We use it primarily at this point to create a up-front buzz, and garner up-front funds, so that we can print more books than backers have pledged for, and then put those books into stores. KS helps us with getting a rough idea of the kind of interest there is out there for a project, and we can use that info in estimating (guessing) the number of books we need available for stores. We’re certainly still learning how to estimate. Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau both went back second print runs as we ran out of copies for retailers. Not immediately, and it’s a great problem to have, but even so. We’re keeping a close eye on V5 Chicago By Night, because that has the potential to shift a lot of our thinking on these numbers for stores. Maybe not. We’ll see. During a Kickstarter campaign, we like to use Stretch Goals to create added “support products” for the game. Usually smaller books that add to the main idea of the KS’d project. Sometimes different sort of projects, like anthologies, or working with other companies so they can create these extra projects. That way, folks don’t just KS a single book, they help us with launching a bunch of connected projects. We advertise all over, I talk about each KS here in the weeks – usually just over four – that it runs, and we have demo and designer streams on ours and others’ Twitch channels leading up to and during the KS. Even so, some folks miss the KS, which brings us to: BACKERKIT Backerkit is one of a bunch of venues that sprang up to help KS creators after the Kickstarter campaign was over. I like BK and what services they offer, but other KS creators use other ones. The advantage to any of them, though, is that they provide us with more tools to get backer rewards out, and help backers and those who missed the KS, upgrade or even get the KS’d project. Since we put up each KS’d project’s BackerKit page about a month after the KS is over, and until the KS shipping process starts at least six months later you can go there and up your pledge or “pre-order” the project, BK serves as an easy and accessible ramp towards our release. But before the release to backers, we have another stage to the project: BACKER PDF Once all the layout is done; text is laid into the format and illustrations and design elements are laid in, and any approvals are OK’d, then we send out links to backers so they can download the Backer PDF. Now, this is not the final PDF. We still want our backer community involved, so we also provide a link to a sheet where interested backers can post any errata that they find. This is an important fine-tuning point in the process, so we truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to review and send us notes about the PDF. It’s up to the dev(s) whether or not they deem any notes as things that need to be corrected, but obvious errors are usually obviously errors once someone points them out, so errata feedback has proven to improve our projects over and over again. We use these corrected PDF files to create Final PDFs, that backers can update in their DTRPG Library, and to create the PoD printing and traditional printing files. If a book of our has been KS’d to get into stores, then it is traditionally printed and bound. That’s really the point of most of our KSs at this point: get them traditionally printed on big turn-y printing presses and bindery machines. Why? Because traditional printing prints a “print run”, hundreds or thousands of books are printed and bound in one “run”. This is far more cost effective than Print On Demand (PoD), which prints a book and binds it after you order it. Then prints another one and binds that for the next order. Then, once the books are done being made, they move into: SHIPPING BACKER REWARDS This is one of the toughest and most expensive phases of doing a Kickstarter, and one I can and have gone into great detail on in terms of the challenges KS shipping presents, but for the purposes of this post, it’s a stage that leads to: GETTING BOOKS INTO RETAIL STORES This is really the newest stage for us, and we continue to fine-tune our best practices. Simply put, our sales partners solicit orders from distributors and stores and then ship our books out to them. This happens after the KS Backer Reward shipments have been sent, but we don’t wait for every single shipping problem, like bad addresses or damaged shipments, to get resolved. So, it’s usually the month after KS Backer Rewards ship. At the same time, we put the Final PDF and the PoD versions of the project live on DTRPG, for all those people in our community that can’t get to stores or prefer PDFs. And many stores do have online ordering of the traditionally printed versions, too. This means that you can go to your Friendly Local Game Store, look for books we have KS’d on the shelves, and either pick them up there or ask your Retailer to order them for you. Please do, because they may not realize we have started to get projects into stores again. Here’s that process in a line: KS => BackerKit => Backer PDFs errata => final files => Backer Rewards => On Sale in stores and PDF/PoDs at DTRPG. Of course, we still create projects that we don’t KS and we don’t put into stores, so their process would be more this: Advance PDF on DTRPG => errata => final PDF and PoD at DTRPG. Hope that all of the above helps folks find our projects out there in the gaming wilderness! Dark Eras 2 art by Alex Sheikman A FEW OTHER THINGS: Still related to Kickstarters, though, we’re not done with them yet. We recently sent out the Backer PDFs for both Dark Eras 2 for Chronicles of Darkness, and They Came From Beneath the Sea! and reaction has been fantastic. Matthew, in particular, has been touched in his cold, dead, heart by the warm reception to the TCFBtS! Backer PDF as it has been his baby since he first pitched the idea to me several years ago. In fact, we even saw Backers wearing They Came From Beneath the Sea! shirts at MidWinter just over a week ago. At MidWinter, in case you missed it, we announced several new games I mentioned last week as well, including They Came From Beyond the Grave!, the next in the They Came From… series. This game will focus on the sort of 60s – 70s horror typified by Hammer Horror films, Roger Corman films, and the Dark Shadows TV show. In fact, there is even a built-in, two time period, part of the game where you can also play in that pseudo Victorian or Edwardian era that those sorts of media loved to play around with. Flashbacks to an earlier life? Prologue for the 70s? Time travel? All possible with this. We also announced Trinity Continuum: Assassins, a parallel setting for the Trinity Continuum core rulebook setting. This is really a great way to start to emphasize the strength of the Continuum concept in the Trinity Continuum. Sort of a dark mirror universe that can be separate from your core setting, or as connected as you want it to be. Stylish, deadly, and often amoral except for one thing – but expert killers nonetheless. There was also an announcement for TC: Adventure!, which is the retooling of the original Pulp-genre game, although set about 10 years later in the 1930s. Most of my favorite pulp magazine adventures were set in that decade and into the 40s, so it made sense to me, plus, now players can find themselves with real opportunities to foil Nazis! Although it was kind of lost amongst all the other hoopla, we are thrilled to be able to let Changeling: The Lost 2e fans know that we are also working on The Hedge for that gameline. As you might imagine, this book features an exploration of that most treacherous and terrifying barrier between our world and, well, a lot of really horrifying and/or beautiful things. Finally, here’s a heads-up that the New Year brought a change and we have ended our Exalted 3rd monthly PDF releases so that we can create the remaining entries for both Hundred Devils Night Parade and Adversaries of the Righteous and get both those books finished and out on DTRPG in PDF and PoD versions. Yugman’s Guide art by Bryan Syme But fear not, true believer! We won’t let your craving for monthly PDF releases go unsatisfied! Instead we will be presenting sections of Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad for Scarred Lands every other month, alternating with chapters of Vigil Watch. Two different ways to learn about the Scarred Lands setting. So there you go! Hoping the info here was helpful as you travel with us on our Onyx Path. A sometimes confusing path as we grow, but it’s still: Many Worlds, One Path! BLURBS! Kickstarter! Next on Kickstarter, we are looking at Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition for Chronicles of Darkness! Onyx Path Media! This Friday’s Onyx Pathcast is a deep dive into the riotous They Came From Beneath the Sea!! Check it out direct on Podbean, or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/ A bumper schedule on Twitch this week with Vampire, Chronicles of Darkness, Scion, Pugmire, Aberrant, Scarred Lands, Changeling: The Lost, Hunter: The Vigil, Changeling: The Dreaming, Mage: The Awakening, and even more Scarred Lands and Vampire besides! As ever, subscribe to our channel over on twitch.tv/theonyxpath Our YouTube channel continues filling up with content, including the Onyx Path News! Do stay subscribed to youtube.com/user/theonyxpath to catch the news when it comes out live! And here’s Occultists Anonymous‘ latest offerings: Episode 74: A Lonely Road The cabal performs some investigative magics in The Town, preparing to leave out on the Golden Road. The Golden Road provides dangers quickly enough… https://youtu.be/ujWouzwjenk Episode 75: Trials & Air Miles The Rookery Cabal continues down the Golden Road after confronting the Minotaur. Further barriers stand before them that challenge more than just their bodies. https://youtu.be/qSd_gymS8FA The Primogen launched a video handling V5 Cults of the Blood Gods right here: https://youtu.be/2JMV_VJrjwQ Do give him a subscribe! Red Moon Roleplaying continue their actual play of Changeling: The Lost, V5 Cults of the Blood Gods, and close their chronicle of V5 Chicago by Night on their YouTube channel, Spotify, their website redmoonroleplaying.com and everywhere else good podcasts might be found! Please check any of these out and let us know if you find or produce any actual plays of our games! Electronic Gaming! As we find ways to enable our community to more easily play our games, the Onyx Dice Rolling App is live! Our dev team has been doing updates since we launched based on the excellent use-case comments by our community, and this thing is awesome! (Seriously, you need to roll 100 dice for Exalted? This app has you covered.) On Amazon and Barnes & Noble! You can now read our fiction from the comfort and convenience of your Kindle (from Amazon) and Nook (from Barnes & Noble). If you enjoy these or any other of our books, please help us by writing reviews on the site of the sales venue from which you bought it. Reviews really, really help us get folks interested in our amazing fiction! Our selection includes these latest fiction books: Our Sales Partners! We’re working with Studio2 to get Pugmire and Monarchies of Mau out into stores, as well as to individuals through their online store. You can pick up the traditionally printed main book, the screen, and the official Pugmire dice through our friends there! https://studio2publishing.com/search?q=pugmire We’ve added Prince’s Gambit to our Studio2 catalog: https://studio2publishing.com/products/prince-s-gambit-card-game Now, we’ve added Changeling: The Lost 2nd Edition products to Studio2‘s store! See them here: https://studio2publishing.com/collections/all-products/changeling-the-lost Scarred Lands (Pathfinder) books are also on sale at Studio2, and they have the 5e version, supplements, and dice as well!: https://studio2publishing.com/collections/scarred-lands Scion 2e books and other products are available now at Studio2: https://studio2publishing.com/blogs/new-releases/scion-second-edition-book-one-origin-now-available-at-your-local-retailer-or-online Looking for our Deluxe or Prestige Edition books? Try this link! http://www.indiepressrevolution.com/xcart/Onyx-Path-Publishing/ And you can order Pugmire, Monarchies of Mau, Cavaliers of Mars, and Changeling: The Lost 2e at the same link! And NOW Scion Origin and Scion Hero AND Trinity Continuum Core and Trinity Continuum: Aeon are available to order! As always, you can find Onyx Path’s titles at DriveThruRPG.com! On Sale This Week! This Wednesday, we will be releasing Trinity Continuum: Aeon symbols – all the Orders, Aeon, and the game logo – on shirts and other merchandise on our RedBubble store! Conventions! More conventions will be listed for 2020 in the weeks to come- And now, the new project status updates! DEVELOPMENT STATUS FROM EDDY WEBB (projects in bold have changed status since last week): First Draft (The first phase of a project that is about the work being done by writers, not dev prep) Exalted Essay Collection (Exalted) N!ternational Wrestling Entertainment (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Contagion Chronicle Ready-Made Characters (Chronicles of Darkness) Trinity Continuum: Adventure! core (Trinity Continuum: Adventure!) 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Across the Eight Directions (Exalted 3rd Edition) Contagion Chronicle: Global Outbreaks (Chronicles of Darkness) Contagion Chronicle Jumpstart (Chronicles of Darkness) Manuscript Approval Scion: Dragon (Scion 2nd Edition) Masks of the Mythos (Scion 2nd Edition) Trinity Continuum Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum Core) Post-Approval Development Scion LARP Rules (Scion) Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition core rulebook (Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition) Titanomachy (Scion 2nd Edition) One Foot in the Grave Jumpstart (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2e) Player’s Guide to the Contagion Chronicle (Chronicles of Darkness) Editing Lunars: Fangs at the Gate (Exalted 3rd Edition) Geist 2e Fiction Anthology (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition) Dragon-Blooded Novella #1 (Exalted 3rd Edition) Legendlore core book (Legendlore) Mythical Denizens (Creatures of the World Bestiary) (Scion 2nd Edition) Pirates of Pugmire KS-Added Adventure (Realms of Pugmire) Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad (Scarred Lands) Trinity Continuum: Aberrant core (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Terra Firma (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Deviant: The Renegades (Deviant: The Renegades) Lunars Novella (Rosenberg) (Exalted 3rd Edition) Buried Bones: Creating in the Realms of Pugmire (Realms of Pugmire) Post-Editing Development TC: Aeon Ready-Made Characters (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Night Horrors: Nameless and Accursed (Mage: the Awakening Second Edition) City of the Towered Tombs (Cavaliers of Mars) W20 Shattered Dreams Gift Cards (Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th) TC: Aeon Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Vigil Watch (Scarred Lands) Scion Companion: Mysteries of the World (Scion 2nd Edition) Cults of the Blood Gods (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Wraith20 Fiction Anthology (Wraith: The Oblivion 20th Anniversary Edition) Hunter: The Vigil 2e core (Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition) Let the Streets Run Red (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) M20 The Technocracy Reloaded (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) WoD Ghost Hunters (World of Darkness) Indexing ART DIRECTION FROM MIKE CHANEY! In Art Direction Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Hunter: The Vigil 2e – All KS art is in. Ex3 Lunars – Art is in. TCfBtS!: Heroic Land Dwellers – LeBlanc working on finals. Night Horrors: Nameless and Accursed – Finals should be in end of month, lining up layout artist. Cults of the Blood God (KS) Mummy 2 City of the Towered Tombs – Had to recontract this, moving along now. Let the Streets Run Red CtL Oak Ash and Thorn – Contracted. Deviant Vigil Watch – Contracted. Legendlore (KS) – Starting to gather art needs for KS. Technocracy Reloaded (KS) – Artwork for KS in progress. Scion Companion – Working on art notes for that with Meredith. TC: Aeon Terra Firma – Getting that rolling out. In Layout Trinity Continuum Aeon: Distant Worlds – Travis doing the layout on this. Pirates of Pugmire – With Aileen. Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad Scion Mythical Denizens – Headed to proofing. Contagion Chronicle – Getting files together for Josh. Proofing Dark Eras 2 – Backer PDF out to backers, errata coning in. Trinity Continuum Aeon Jumpstart They Came from Beneath the Sea! – Backer PDF out to backers, errata coming in. VtR Spilled Blood – Josh finishing. Chicago Folio – Inputting corrections. Wraith20 Anthology – At WW. At Press V5: Chicago – Shipping to backers. Geist 2e (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2nd Edition) – Shipping to fulfillment shippers. Geist 2e Screen – Being printed. DR:E – Shipping to fulfillment shippers. DRE Screen – Being printed. DR:E Threat Guide – Helnau’s Guide to Wasteland Beasties Memento Mori – Awaiting errata for input. Today’s Reason to Celebrate! Here in the US, today is the holiday celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday! History has underscored that MLK, Jr. was a human being, flawed like all humankind, but nevertheless he was a person trying to make the world better. And he paid the ultimate price so often paid by those who dream of such things.
  20. Cade smiled. "Sure man, before we leave I'll get you a soda, and I'll encourage the others to come visit. Maybe we can even hold a small mini session here if you're going to be here for abit. The thought of the Fellowship trying to cram into the room to play a session of D&D was pretty comical. The hint to leave and get him a soda wasn't lost on him, but he'd led Marissa decide if she wanted to be alone with Jase while he did so. Otherwise he'd hit the vending machine before leaving the medical center and get him one. He'd see if he wanted anything for next time, and he could pick it up when he came back.
  21. Will there be a continuation on this? Saw that there was some interest, so I thought I'd ask...
  22. Charlie Cole Charlie didn't really hook up with Emily, he just made up to cover for his homosexuality. Sophia is riding the casting couch with Charlie to get the lead role in Labryinth! Charlie is trying to steal Jason Bannon from Sean Cassidy, the slut! No, dimwit, he's dating Sophia to make Sean jealous. Charlie is banging his dad's girlfriend out of revenge for the divorce. Charlie's only pretending to be upset about the divorce - it's the ultimate drama show, y'know? Charlie has a bunch of body costumes, that let him pretend to be anyone from school. You'd never know the difference. All this stuff lately, with Cody, Bannon, and everyone else at school? Charlie's orchestrating it all, to make his own real life soap opera. He's got the script he's made hidden somewhere in the school.
  23. "Not tried the food yet." Jase said, settling his head back on the pillows propping him up. "And I guess they'll let me out once they're sure there's no serious damage to my brain." Again that quirk of his lips that heralded a smile. "They've already tried to give me an EEG. The head of neurology here, no less. I'm getting the VIP treatment." "They want to scan your brain." Marissa's eyes narrowed. "Cook behind that?" "Probably." Jason nodded. "I refused it as unnecessary." "What if it is, though?" Cade asked pragmatically. "Necessary, I mean. You did have a couple of seniors dancing on your head." Jason grunted, closing his eyes for a moment. "What I need is rest, though visits from my friends could be an aid to recovery." Both Marissa and Cade nodded as they grasped his meaning. Lona could ensure there was nothing to worry about, and take care of it if there was. Jason paused a moment, considering as he rested his eyes. Though the Man In Black had conversed frankly and openly, Jase was not inclined to discuss the man's visit while under observation. Perhaps Mr Black had a way to take care of listening devices, or perhaps he didn't care. Either way, Jason decided, he would be more circumspect. "I could also go for a soda, if the nurse thinks I can have one." = = = = = = = = = = = = = Liam opened his good eye. He hurt, hurt all over, though the morphine drip was helping to numb the worst of the pain to mere aches. It made everything seem kind of hazy and unreal. He'd woken up this morning knowing that Avalon had been there, having heard her voice. He also remembered, through the haze of chemicals, the face of Jason Bannon as he had- No. -as he had- No, that isn't what happened. There were two attackers, large men as big as the sheriff. They had spoken English with an accent. One of those harsh-sounding languages. As the thought came to him, images likewise came to him. Two men, black leather jackets and gloves, wearing balaclavas. His mind whirled as the memory surfaced, conflicting with the sharp, angular pale features of Jason Bannon and the hellish look in his eyes. Two men, yes. They'd worked him over good. Said he owed them money. He remembered being afraid, so afraid that Ban- that the large men would kill him. I should sleep now. Get better. Then tell the sheriff about the large guys, probably worked for some scumbag in Great Falls. Yeah. Liam closed his eyes. When he was ready, he'd tell the sheriff about the two guys who'd worked him over. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = "Well?" Doctor Cook said to Courtney, handing her a tissue for the blood coming from one nostril. The lovely girl dabbed the blood away, looked at him and sighed, brushing her vibrant red hair back over one shoulder. The two of them sat on a couch in one of the Pedriatric Department offices, currently unused. "He thinks two big guys did this to him, saying he owed them money. No connection between the attack and Bannon in his mind now." she replied, her tone subdued as she rubbed two fingers against her left temple. Cook nodded, giving her a pleased smile, and handed her a couple of Tylenol and some water. "That really goddamn hurts to do that, you know. And his memories weren't a picnic either." she groused, crimson lips twisting in discontent before tossing back the pills and the water. "You're a trooper, Courtney." Cook acknowledged, resting a hand on the girl's shoulder. She smiled a little archly at the handsome older man. "Not tonight, Doc. I have a headache." she teased, though she shifted a little closer to him, leaning into the one-armed hug. Cook merely smiled, a considering look in his eye. "Do you think you could get into Jason Bannon's head?" he asked. Courtney sighed, making a tsk sound. "Men! Only interested in me for my mind." she pouted. "As it happens, I've skimmed most of the minds in that band of freaks, and could maybe at least push their thoughts a little, most of them at least. All except two. Devin Jauntsen seems to be naturally resistant. The few times I've tried to 'push' him emotionally or read him, he either gets a headache or just doesn't react. And the other-" "Is Jason?" "I scanned his thoughts once." Courtney said quietly. "Once. On Friday last week, when you said he and some of the others had shown evidence of talent. I pushed him a little - with conversation - and then with my gift. It was hard to do, too. Like I couldn't feel his emotions at first, and then..." Her voice trailed off, and the doctor was aware that the girl was pressing her legs together and squirming slightly in her seat. "And then...?" he prodded. Courtney turned and looked at him, and he was struck by the expression in her eye. "One word." she said. "Wow. It was like I was prodding fog, and suddenly got hit by a freight train. And his thoughts?" she shivered, and it was not altogether in fear. "I gave my report, what he said to me. You read it?" "Yes." Cook stated, remembering. "It was very... graphic." "Yeah, it was. And he meant every word of it." Courtney's eyes were wide and dream-like. Not for the first time, Cook privately wished that the most gifted of the in-Project psions wasn't a hypersexual teenage girl. Courtney's predilections were not easy to manage, and even though cognitive therapy and drugs were able to take the edge off her disorder she could get distracted, especially by dangerous or taboo prospects. Whilst that wasn't a problem when all she was doing was seducing football players or cheerleaders with equal abandon, it could present a problem if she set her sights on other game. "Courtney." Cook's voice took on a tone of stern command. "Focus, please. Do you think you could get into young Mister Bannon's head the way you did with Liam?" "Not a chance in hell." Courtney shook her head, clarity returning to her gaze. "I was able to get into his surface thoughts that one time, when his control slipped. The rest of the time his mind is like a diamond - I'd have an aneurysm trying. The night of the game I tried to make a connection - I wanted him to know I hadn't deliberately gossiped about his unit and tried to 'push' him to believe me more easily. No dice." She sighed. "He believed me anyway, I think. But yeah... Most of that bunch are pretty independent minded, enough so I wouldn't look forward to trying to do to them what I did to Liam. Might be something to do with them being gifted too, perhaps." "Perhaps." Cook allowed. Privately he mused that the 'Fellowship', untaught and unobserved by the Project, seemed to be manifesting levels of psionic ability beyond what the so-called 'test group' were capable. The test group's psychokinetic could just about move a handgun and light a candle - whereas the Bannon kid could throw a grown man around like a rag doll. Something was off with the science of their Project, regardless of what the all-knowing Doctor who ran the show thought...
  24. Tuesday- Marias Medical center Study hall Once it came time for Study hall, which both Marissa and Cade shared, it was decided the two of them would both go to visit Jason. They'd drive separately, she to go home afterwards, and Cade had to go back to pick up his sister once classes let out. He'd mentioned going fishing, that it would give them a chance to talk about things in private away from everyone. "I'll go, but I will NOT be touching the bait, or the fish." Cade had given her a knowing shrug and a smile. "Didn't really expect you to. Don't worry, it will be fun." At the Medical center, they managed to find adjacent parking spots, and left their vehicles to make their way inside. He held his hand down between them, and as their hands brushed, took her hand in his. Without looking his way, the tiniest of smiles curled her perfect lips. If he could adapt and relax, this might not be a total waste. There were two sheriff department Range Rovers in the parking lot, neither of them his dad's, Cade noted with some relief. Though his father had not exactly laid down any strictures about associating with Jason, he definitely didn't want to trigger that discussion on the heels of Jase getting into a fight - a bad one - at school. At least, he thought wryly, his dad wouldn't have an issue with his new 'girlfriend' - like most adults in Shelly, Sheriff Alister regarded Marissa as an incarnated angel, the 'good twin'. The nurse in the lobby directed the two of them toward the room where Jason was being kept for observation, cautioning the two teens not to overstay and tire him out. Marissa gave a small snort at that, and Cade found himself agreeing somewhat - it was hard to imagine Jason as being fragile even for a youth who outweighed him by a good margin. When they poked their heads in, however, the sight of Jason on the bed made Marissa's hand tighten a little in his. His left eye was swollen, and there was blood crusted around his nostrils along with numerous bruises and scrapes along his arms. They'd removed his t-shirt, and a similar number of bruises were colouring nicely on his visible ribs. His pants were spattered with rusty dark patches - dried or drying blood. His eyes were closed, and in the brief moment after they stepped into the room both teens were struck by how young and vulnerable he seemed... right until his eyelids opened and the familiar pale green icy gaze regarded them. "Hey guys." Jase said after a moment, smiling slightly and wincing as the expression pulled at his split lip. He lifted one hand from the bed in a perfunctory wave as he studied them both. "What's up?" "Damn man, they worked you over hard." The words were out before he could stop them. He knew Jase wasn't a fighter physically, he was more cerebral in how he beat people normally, even before getting psychic powers. In some way Cade was actually proud that Jase had the sense to not use his powers to win for him. It would have been utterly unexplainable, and caused even more trouble than it had. "I won't say the cliche "you should have called me." you already know I'd have come if you had, so would Lilly. I hate seeing you hurt like this Jase, you're a friend." Surmising from the fact they were in the medical center, he had to be careful with what he said aloud. "If you want, I can show you some other moves, stuff my dad's taught Haruka and I, that may help you avoid a beating like this. If there's a next time." He'd heard the rumors about what had happened. There probably wouldn't be one, not from those two at least. He leaned down, "That took alot of courage and resolve Jason. I'm just glad you're going to be okay." Cade expected some retort regarding how he, Jase had looked at it logically, and saw this as the only way. Marissa, predictably, was not quite as high-minded. "You should have wrecked those two rather than..." she indicated him with her free hand, then reached down and took his hand, trying to focus on his eyes rather than the bruises and bloody scabs. "I know why you did it." she told him quietly, giving his hand a squeeze. "All three reasons, even. But you should have run or something." "Honestly, that didn't occur to me." Jason said calmly, returning the handclasp gently for a moment before releasing it. "Might be worth considering, though." "Macho idiot." Marissa sniffed, giving him a faint smile. "Not altogether." He shrugged. "It helps establish me as harmless. Well, mostly harmless." "Hardly." Cade grinned at him. Jase met his eyes and smiled back. "To people who don't know better, at least." "Fair enough man, but the offer stands. "he smiled at him. He looked rough, and in his mind Marissa wasn't doing the best job looking like she didn't care about him. "Is there anything we can get you? can't imagine the hospital food is too good. Have they said anything about how long they're going to keep you here?"
  25. In which Eddy interviews Danielle Lauzon and Ian A. A. Watson about Trinity at Midwinter! We discuss our Mario Kart experiences at Midwinter Poop jokes History of the new edition of the Trinity Continuum The evolution of Storypath into the Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook’s setting Juggling between Scion, Trinity Core, and Trinity: Aeon Working on Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Early thoughts on Trinity Continuum: Adventure! Specific rules for a game, but keeping them evocative of other games Changes to the new edition Trinity Continuum: Assassins (working title) Coming support books Ian is a shitposter They Came From The Passive-Aggression Wavelength! V5 Cults of the Blood Gods Kickstarter LINKS Trinity Continuum Core Rulebook: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/260788/Trinity-Continuum-Core-Rulebook?affiliate_id=548232 Trinity Continuum: Aeon: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/260833/Trinity-Continuum-Aeon?affiliate_id=548232 Trinity Continuum: Aberrant: https://trinity-continuum-aberrant.backerkit.com/hosted_preorders In Media Res: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/272162/Trinity-Continuum-In-Media-Res?affiliate_id=548232
  26. Tuesday Afternoon - Marias Medical Center "We're looking for Dr. Cook's office," said Cassandra from behind Autumn as she followed. A moment later she came up even with the redhead as they paced through the cool, sterile hallway. She'd pulled her cellphone out of her pocket and had it held up to her ear as they walked. "I'm going to be talking to you even though I have my phone," she said in that funny sort of disconnected vocal tone people used when on the phone. "I want to have it out and ready in case I want to take pictures or record something in a hurry. Yeah." She nodded and rolled her eyes theatrically as a pair of nurses strolled past from the opposite direction. "No, I'm getting them on the way home." Cass nudged Autumn as they turned a corner and saw the corridors outside the double-doors leading to the Intensive Care Unit as an orderly went through ahead of them. It was a quick reminder of just how big and well-appointed this hospital was for such a small town. And a warning. Standing just outside a man in sheriff's uniform. Farther back were a couple more. "It's cool," she said to her phone. "They don't care about us. Just walk on by and look around for a directory or something." They passed out from the ICU and strolled past the first deputy. The other two were in the middle of chatting with some orderlies, and Cassandra stopped for a second to 'listen' to her phone with an impatient expression. Just close enough to overhear the conversation the sheriffs were having with those orderlies. "...well, he's out of his coma, Eating, drinking. Last I heard his prognosis was good." "Can he answer questions yet? When's he getting released?" "It'll be at least another few days, maybe a week. He was seriously injured. We have to make sure he's fully stabilized. As for questions...you'll have to ask the doctor about that. So...you guys have a suspect?" "You know we can't talk about an open case..." then in a lower, but still audible voice, "...but yeah. And he's in your ICU. If we can get Liam to just give a statement, answer some questions...it'd make our job a lot easier if he'd do it while that Bannon kid's still here. Think about it. Mention it to the doctor if you have to." Cassandra shook her head and explained to her phone, "No, look, here...one second." She quickly aimed her camera at the ICU door, then at the window nearby, then at the deputies and orderlies, taking a quick set of photos. "You have to meet me HERE. Okay? It's easy to find, just follow the signs. Okay." Meeting Autumn's eye, she motioned with her head to the corridor leading away from the treatment center and headed out that way. "Information desk," the reporter said, "or directory. Keep your eyes open. We might not be able to get in, but I at least want to see where it is."
  27. The nurse had brought him two Tylenol, smiling sympathetically and turning the room's lights down at his request before heading out to the nurse station. Jason gave the pills a cursory examination then shrugged before tossing them back with a swallow of water. Though he might suspect Cook and Carter, he couldn't hold every nurse and orderly in the medical center under suspicion. Or rather, he could, but it would achieve nothing. Right now he was within the sphere of people who, whilst they might not be allies, were at least not mortal enemies. Yet, at least. And he needed something to reduce the swelling and bruising to his brain. He closed his eyes against the faint nausea and throbbing ache of his head, pushing the world of the senses aside and withdrawing into his mind. Pain fell away, nausea fell away. Yet even here, in the halls and garden of his memory palace, the damage to his grey matter had a perceivable effect. There was a haze in the air, a faint blurriness to the edges of things. The colours of the flowers seemed by turns too vivid or too dull. The faint subsonic, rhythmic breathing that was always present now occasionally caused vibrations in the structure. He wandered the halls, assessing the damage dispassionately, and was satisfied that nothing had been severely upset, no images or experiences or knowledge had been removed. Finally, he descended a set of broad stairs and found himself at the mouth of the Well. It was a great, dark void, it's depths endless and falling away out of sight below the rough circular edge he stood upon. The breathing was louder here, the exhalations causing the air to move in warm currents. He stared down into the blackness for a long while that, in objective time, would perhaps only be a couple of heartbeats, feeling some satisfaction at having restrained what lay beneath his feet. His capacity for violence was unfettered by fear, remorse, guilt, or even normal human physical limitation, yet his icy reason had contained it. But had that been the right move? What if the two pawns of the Dark had killed him? What if that had been their goal as Autumn had suggested? If she had not intervened, would he now be dead? "I'm too pretty to keep crying over you." Marissa said from behind him, and Jason turned, putting the Well at his back as he regarded the stunning brunette. She was dressed as she had been when she'd come to his home that Saturday morning, and stepped forward to wrap her arms around his waist and hug him. "It seems that you have found a way to stem your tears." Jason replied, stilling the impulse to embrace her in turn, feeling the warm breath of the Well on the back of his neck stirring his anger. "You could have just told me you desired Cade. It would not have stopped me being your friend." Marissa looked up at him, smiling a little mockingly as she shook her head and opened her mouth to speak- "This is tasty." The voice intruded on his thoughts, along with the faint sounds of tapping plastic. Jase's eyes flicked open to see the Man in Black seated next to his bed, fork in hand as he dug mouthfuls of food from a plastic container Jason recognised as being his lunch. Mr Black smiled as the youth's pale eyes met his, helping himself to another mouthful with relish. "Really good. What is it?" "Provencal mutton casserole." Jason replied, quieting the urge to lash out immediately. Now he was back in the world of the physical, the pain and nausea had returned, though the Tylenol was working already. Focusing through the pain, he contemplated the black-garbed figure in the chair. "You got a knack, I'll say that." The man nodded approvingly, sitting back in the chair with the container still in hand as he regarded Jase critically. "You look like shit, boy." "You should see the other guys." "Hah! Yeah. That li'l redhead busted that boy up good." Mr Black forked up more casserole, speaking around the mouthful. "Dunno why she had to, though. You could have smeared those two all over the halls." "And played right into your hands." Jase retorted. Mr Black's head tilted slightly, then he smiled. "Mine? You got me confused with someone else, Jase - you mind if I call you Jase?" He went on without waiting for an answer. "Jase, my boy, I don't want you hurt by the Dark. You or any of your Shiny friends. Any more than you'd want to go around your garden tearing up flowers." Jase was silent, regarding the Man in Black for a long moment as he chewed on Jason's lunch. "You're not working for the Dark." he stated rather than asked, though there was some skepticism in his tone. The Man in Black shook his head, then leaned forward. "The Dark hates those who Shine, boy. It's in the name. I know you've spotted the pattern in the killings over the decades and centuries here. Every generation or so, right? Just enough time to harvest those with Shine or the potential for it." He gestured with the fork. "See, you and your buddies are food to the Dark, and flowers to me. I want to see you guys win." "So tell me about the Dark, then." Jason invited with a smirk as Mr Black shook his head, tsk-ing. "Can't do that, kiddo. Can't just give you everything, or you won't grow." He rose, setting the empty container and it's fork back in the cooler bag. "But you children need to find Cody. And don't let the Dark kill you! It's not just death it wants to eat, it's Shine." He turned and headed for the door. "And what do you want?" Jason asked as the lean figure in black paused at the doorway, turning slightly and grinning back at him. "Why, I aim to cause upset to the established order." Mr Black said before stepping out of the room.
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