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Sean Cassidy last won the day on June 13

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  1. In which the trio talks about online gaming in various forms. We’re going to talk about online gaming! Alice is Missing ViewScream and the Ripper FMV Koldunic sorcery egregiously bad? 12 minutes in, Eddy is on topic Matthew was a Moderator A bit on our usage of Roll20 and Astral Some talk about chat-based roleplay New Bremen! We reminisce about early days of computing The olden days of scrambled pornography Audio- and video-based roleplaying Performing a game, versus playing Discord gaming Onyx Path Con A Note: During the podcast, Eddy says the Pugmire Kickstarter was in 2017, which leads to some timeline confusion. It was actually finished in March 2016! Time is, however, a flat circle right now so we forgive Eddy this error. Links: Alice is Missing: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/huntersbooks/alice-is-missing-a-silent-role-playing-game ViewScream: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/187177/ViewScream-2nd-Edition Ripper Wired Story: https://www.wired.com/story/ripper/ Roll20: https://roll20.net/ Astral: https://www.astraltabletop.com/ Gehenna Gaming: https://www.gehennagaming.com/ Onyx Path YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheOnyxPath Onyx Path Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/theonyxpath Onyx Path Discord: https://discord.gg/5uckcBk
  2. Now available in image format from DriveThruRPG: V5 Chicago by Night Desktop Wallpapers! Accept no substitutes: Chicago is the city of vampires. A selection of electronic wallpaper files featuring a collage of the art from Chicago by Night. Chicago by Night Wallpaper sizes include: 800×600 1024×768 1280×1024 1920×1280 2560×1440 Also available in PDF from DriveThruRPG: V20 Lore of the Clans Storyteller Screen! Lore of the Clans is a single volume revisiting all thirteen Clans for Vampire: The Masquerade 20th Anniversary Edition, providing story hooks, character concepts, history, and Clan-specific rules. The Lore of the Clans Storyteller Screen contains three 8.5″ x 11″ pages of collected charts and tables selected to make your Storyteller job a bit easier. Sales Keep the Chronicle Going with 25% off all Chronicles of Darkness titles from White Wolf, Onyx Path, and community content from the Storytellers Vault! Kickstarter Update The Legendlore Kickstarter finished off last week! We ended at $25,092, or 167% of our $15,000 goal, thanks to our 543 backers! We closed out with a couple of stretch goals hit in the final 48 hours: Legendlore GM Reference Screen Legendlore Player’s Companion: Back from Earth Legendlore Digital Wallpaper Coming next to Kickstarter: They Came from Beyond the Grave! Did you miss one of our previous Kickstarters? The following Kickstarted products are still open for preorders via BackerKit: Scarred Lands: Creature Collection 5e Trinity Continuum: Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Realms of Pugmire: Pirates of Pugmire Vampire: The Masquerade: Cults of the Blood Gods Mage: The Ascension: Technocracy Reloaded Exalted: Lunars: Fangs at the Gate Chronicles of Darkness: Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 Chronicles of Darkness: The Contagion Chronicle Chronicles of Darkness: Deviant: The Renegades Chronicles of Darkness: Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition Chronicles of Darkness: Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition 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: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Storypath has been added to the Storypath Nexus in the last week: Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell?
  3. Yes, that’s right, we actually do not have a Kickstarter running this week. Weird, huh? Legendlore just wrapped up with a very strong (and unexpected but delightful) final 48 hours last week, and we have not yet launched the They Came From Beyond the Grave! KS. So instead, let me tell you about the guy I illustrated for the cover shown above. In-universe (or Continuum), that’s Duke Rollo, the gonzo journalist/commentator of the TC: Aberrant setting. But. He’s also Justin Achilli, who originated the character and wrote both small Duke Rollo books – one for first edition Aberrant and now the book pictured for Trinity Continuum: Aberrant. I originally pictured him as Justin appeared back then, piercings and all, and with a very gonzo attitude to life, and work, and especially after-hours playtime. The version above was drawn to still be the same character, but seasoned. More experienced, but still railing against the inequities of the TC: Aberrant world. I bring this up because real-world Justin has amassed even more experience and knowledge since the WW days, and has explored game design in the electronic gaming sphere very successfully, and yet has never stopped applying what he has learned to TTRPGs, and specifically the World of Darkness and Vampire: The Masquerade. His experience with party deduction games led to his working with us on The Prince’s Gambit card game, for example. And his online design theory posts through the years are rife with game design theory that could be applied to electronic games, or right back in TTRPGs. And in fact, he himself, is also right back in TTRPGs with last week’s announcement that Justin is the new Creative Lead for the WoD 5th Edition efforts over at Paradox! Congrats, Justin! Now, I have a long history with Justin, going back to when he was developing the RAGE card game at WW. (A “dragon biting some clown in half”, anybody?) He was developer and I was art director for years on VtM Revised, we worked on the late, lamented, WoD MMO together, and he was the first developer for V20, and then helmed many V20 books for Onyx Path. And yet, even I really don’t know what he’s planning for V5. The Covid situation here and in Sweden, where Paradox is based, has complicated matters, so we’re still looking forward to what’s going to happen next. As they say, more news when we have it! Let the Streets Run Red art by Sam Denmark Surely You Have Something Kickstarter-y? OK. Fair enough, I hear ya! You want to know more about They Came From Beyond the Grave!, especially since that’s going to be the subject of our next Kickstarter. Well, it is the second game in the They Came From…! game line, and this time, rather than being based in the world of Sci-Fi movies of the 50s, TCFBtGrave! is set in two time periods favored by horror movies of the 60s and 70s: the Victorian Era and the late 60s into the 70s. In fact, the game supports either era, or both with players swapping back and forth between the two. Hammer Horror is of course a huge influence, along with Roger Corman horror films, and even the Dark Shadows TV series. Like TCFBtSea!, TCFBtGrave! uses the Storypath System plus Quip cards that allow players to contribute appropriate (or far more often extremely inappropriate) comments and dialogue that is often hilarious, but also can give mechanical benefits to the character. With the cards, the player doesn’t need to be funny, just how they use the quip. Similarly, there are cards for filmic situations appropriate to the genre we’re emulating, like “The Devil Himself!”, or “Missing Scene” which allows for a miraculous escape that players can note as having happened during that scene. It was amazing, just a shame the scene is missing, but at least we’re all OK. Honestly, we should have one titled “Christopher Lee’s Voice”, but that might be too powerful for players. Keep an eye out on our social media as we continue to tease the game, and check out the actual play sessions that are available on our Twitch channel. Pirates of Pugmire art by Pat McEvoy Updates On Previous Mentions: As I mentioned last week, we were looking to hire an out-of-house HR representative as a contact person for anyone with concerns on an HR level with Onyx Path. We indeed did hire Georgina who can be contacted at hr.onyxpath@gmail.com. Scion Companion art by Shen Fei Sorry to say it, but the pandemic is still affecting everyone – writers, printers, shippers – so while we are seeing some folks come back to business as sorta-normal, many others still can’t do that. Sometimes that’s our creators, and other times it’s our manufacturers and shippers. I’m currently waiting for at least five books worth of PoD proofs to get to me for approval so we can start selling them. So, please hang in with us as we maneuver through this continuing alteration in our normal business practices. There’s a lot of things changing all across the world, and our little hobby isn’t in a bubble – and even if it was, we’re still going to be affected like I mention above. Just know that we are doing what we can to get you the materials so you can enjoy our: Many Worlds, One Path! Blurbs! Kickstarter! Next Up On Kickstarter: They Came From Beyond the Grave! And keep your eyes open for: Onyx Path Media! This week: the Terrifically Terrible Trio chat about the Onyx Path Virtual Gaming Convention, and online TTRPG gaming in general! As always, this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/ This week on Twitch, expect to see V5 – Chicago by Night Behind the Screen – Scion They Came from Beneath the Sea! – They Came from Devil’s Reef! Changeling: The Dreaming – The Last Faerie Tale Mage: The Awakening – Occultists Anonymous Scarred Lands – Purge of the Serpentholds Get watching for some fantastic insight into how to run these wonderful games and subscribe to us on Twitch, over at twitch.tv/theonyxpath Come take a look at our YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/theonyxpath, where you can find a whole load of videos of actual plays, dissections of our games, and more, including: #OnyxPathCon | How to Write for TTRPGs [Panel]: https://youtu.be/UKmJQEhInP8 #OnyxPathCon | Consent & Safety Mechanics [Panel]: https://youtu.be/LljJV-TRLWA Legendlore – The Metal Scourge: https://youtu.be/IrhhKnf6dHg #OnyxPathCon | The Art of Onyx Path [Panel]:https://youtu.be/2mG_BqXzkfE #OnyxPathCon | What’s Up with Onyx Path #2 [Panel]:https://youtu.be/GjukejNcCcc #OnyxPathCon | Create Your Best Character [Panel]:https://youtu.be/UZIBL87hu6U #OnyxPathCon | Onyx Pathcast Live [Panel]:https://youtu.be/XxNvUPUtC1o Subscribe to our channel and click the bell icon if you want to be notified whenever new news videos and uploads come online! Did you miss Occultists Anonymous‘ last episodes of their excellent Mage: The Awakening chronicle? Here they are: Episode 108: Car-V Heist While Songbird prepares for a dangerous summoning, Atratus and Wyrd hit the junkyards with an overly elaborate plan to make an overly elaborate gift. How very Mage of them… https://youtu.be/wSy3c74jkfM Episode 109: Crown of Blood Wyrd and Atratus enjoy the joy of a well-made gift and the good vibes that comes with that. Songbird joins together with Hadramiel to summon an Angel of Death to anoint a Vampire Prince in power. https://youtu.be/QxB6Ml6uStY The Botch Pit have released an excellent overview of Mage: The Awakening right here. Do give them a like and a subscribe: https://youtu.be/D-0O1Nun6NA Systematic Understanding of Everything is a new Exalted Explainer Podcast by Exalted Dev Monica Speca and Exalted Writer Chazz Kellner that is breaking down Creation in 45 minute chunks in preparation for Exalted Essence. Their most recent episode in on Creation and its history – https://anchor.fm/exaltcast/episodes/Trackless-Region-Navigation—What-is-Creation-eg2g9d Get past episodes at http://www.exaltcast.com/ Please check these out and let us know if you find or produce any actual plays of our games! We’d love to feature you! 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 Second Edition products to Studio2‘s store! See them here: https://studio2publishing.com/collections/all-products/changeling-the-lost 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, to celebrate the arrival of Justin Achilli, we present V5 Chicago By Night electronic wallpaper and V20 Lore of the Clans Storyteller’s Screen PDF files, both on DTRPG! Conventions! Though dates for physical conventions are subject to change due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, here’s what’s left of our current list of upcoming conventions (and really, we’re just waiting for this last one to be cancelled even though it’s Nov/Dec). Instead, keep an eye out here for more virtual conventions we’re going to be involved with: PAX Unplugged: https://unplugged.paxsite.com/ 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) Adversaries of the Righteous (Exalted 3rd Edition) The Devoted Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) Saints and Monsters (Scion 2nd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Anima M20 Technocracy Operative’s Dossier (Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary) Squeaks In The Deep (Realms of Pugmire) Redlines Dragon-Blooded Novella #2 (Exalted 3rd Edition) Hundred Devil’s Night Parade (Exalted 3rd Edition) Novas Worldwide (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Exalted Essence Edition (Exalted 3rd Edition) Wild Hunt (Scion 2nd Edition) CtL 2e Novella Collection: Hollow Courts (Changeling: The Lost 2e) Second Draft Many-Faced Strangers – Lunars Companion (Exalted 3rd Edition) Mission Statements (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Contagion Chronicle Ready-Made Characters (Chronicles of Darkness) Trinity Continuum: Adventure! core (Trinity Continuum: Adventure!) Dead Man’s Rust (Scarred Lands) The Clades Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) V5 Forbidden Religions (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) M20 Rich Bastard’s Guide To Magick (Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary) V5 Children of the Blood (was The Faithful Undead) (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Development TC: Aberrant Reference Screen (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Across the Eight Directions (Exalted 3rd Edition) Contagion Chronicle: Global Outbreaks (Chronicles of Darkness) Exigents (Exalted 3rd Edition) Assassins (Trinity Continuum Core) V5 Trails of Ash and Bone (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Kith and Kin (Changeling: The Lost 2e) Manuscript Approval Crucible of Legends (Exalted 3rd Edition) M20 Victorian Mage (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) Under Alien Skies (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) N!ternational Wrestling Entertainment (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Post-Approval Development Editing Lunars Novella (Rosenberg) (Exalted 3rd Edition) Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition core rulebook (Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition) Player’s Guide to the Contagion Chronicle (Chronicles of Darkness) Contagion Chronicle Jumpstart (Chronicles of Darkness) TC: Aberrant Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Trinity Continuum Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum) Masks of the Mythos (Scion 2nd Edition) LARP Rules (Scion 2nd Edition) Heirs to the Shogunate (Exalted 3rd Edition) The Book of Lasting Death (Mummy: The Curse 2e) They Came From Beyond the Grave! (They Came From!) Scion: Dragon (Scion 2nd Edition) Scion: Demigod (Scion 2nd Edition) Dearly Bleak – Novella (Deviant: The Renegades) Post-Editing Development City of the Towered Tombs (Cavaliers of Mars) W20 Shattered Dreams Gift Cards (Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th) Cults of the Blood Gods (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Hunter: The Vigil 2e core (Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Aberrant core (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Deviant: The Renegades (Deviant: The Renegades) Monsters of the Deep (They Came From Beneath the Sea!) Legendlore core book (Legendlore) Pirates of Pugmire KS-Added Adventure (Realms of Pugmire) Tales of Aquatic Terror (They Came From Beneath the Sea!) Terra Firma (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) One Foot in the Grave Jumpstart (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2e) Indexing Art Direction from Mike Chaney! In Art Direction Tales of Aquatic Terror – Handed off to Meredith to AD. WoD Ghost Hunters (KS) – KS assets wrapped up. Aberrant – AD’d. Checking with Gunship. Hunter: The Vigil 2e Mummy 2 Deviant Legendlore – KS running. Technocracy Reloaded (KS) Cults of the Blood God – Rolling along. Scion: Dragon (KS) – Waiting on art notes. Masks of the Mythos (KS) – Getting the cover art going. Scion: Demigod (KS) – Art rolling. KS assets AD’d. They Came From Beyond the Grave! (KS) – Prepping KS assets. TC: Adventure! (KS) – Shen Fei cover art finished by end of the month. Geist: One Foot In the Grave – AD’d. In Layout Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad Vigil Watch TC Aeon Terra Firma V5 Let the Streets Run Red – continued working it. Pugmire Adventure – small project, knocking the layout together. Scion Titanomachy Proofing Trinity Aeon Jumpstart – Errata gathering. Lunars: Fangs at the Gate – Page XXs. Contagion Chronicle – Backer PDF out to backers, closing errata. Cavaliers of Mars: City of the Towered Tombs Magic Item Decks (Scarred Lands) Yugman’s Guide Support Decks (Scarred Lands) Dark Eras 2 Screen and booklet Scion Companion – Inputting changes from devs. At Press TCFBTS Heroic Land Dwellers – PoD files uploaded. TCFBTS Screen and Booklet – Files at press. They Came from Beneath the Sea! – Press proofs signed off on, PoD files uploaded. Creature Collection 5e – PoD proof ordered. Traditional files sent to printer. Pirates of Pugmire – Files at press. PoD proofs ordered. Pirates of Pugmire Screen – Files at press. Pugmire Buried Bones – PoD proof ordered. Changeling: The Lost 2nd Edition Dark Eras Compilation – Uploading PoD file. Today’s Reason to Celebrate! I’d really like to get back to needing to pull wacky things that happened on this date, but we need to celebrate the life of a towering giant in his field. Ennio Morricone, one of the greatest film composers, has left this earth he brought so much magic and passion and joy to. The Untouchables. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The Mission. Once Upon A Time In the West. His film scores were the background music I played while illustrating all the way back to high school, and as late as two weeks ago I asked Alexa to “Play Ennio Morriconi music” as I wrote that week’s MMN blog. Not only was he a genius in composing instrumental scores, but he was willing to incorporate single instruments, or non-instruments, or inserted choral sections, or even compose an entire theme using fart sounds. Maybe not to everyone’s tastes, that last example, but my point is, he stretched what could be done with musical scores with a deft hand and a genius’s ear. His like will not be heard again.
  4. In which Matthew, Dixie, and Eddy discuss upcoming projects, horror movies, and play Scion: Origin! N!WE Unleashed! Exalted Essence They Came from Beyond the Grave! V5 Trails of Ash and Bone Hammer House of Horror and Death Line Scion: Origin Actual Play Conclusion LINKS Trinity Continuum – Aberrant: https://www.backerkit.com/projects/200664283/trinity-continuum-aberrant Hammer House of Horror: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammer_House_of_Horror Death Line: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_Line Scion Origin: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/246765/Scion-Second-Edition-Book-One-Origin Onyx Path YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/TheOnyxPath Onyx Path Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/theonyxpath Onyx Path Discord: https://discord.gg/5uckcBk
  5. Almost forgot! This June, with the assistance of the crew at Gehenna Gaming, we ran our first OnyxPathCon, a virtual convention, since all the regular shows in meat-space are cancelled or postponed. It seemed to go pretty well, with a number of panels, games, and actual plays over the three-day event. We’re hoping it isn’t the only OnyxPathCon. Videos are making their way to our YouTube. This month we saw: Scarred Lands: Vigil Watch Chapter 3: Leoni (PDF) Scion: Scion 2nd Edition Storyguide Screen (PDF) Scion: Scion 2nd Edition Desktop Wallpaper (image) Trinity Continuum: Trinity Continuum Desktop Wallpaper (image) Trinity Continuum: Aberrant: Swine and Cheese Party, et al.: Excerpts from the Complete Duke Rollo (PDF/print) Trinity Continuum: Æon: Quantum Entanglement: An Æon Jumpstart (advance PDF) Trinity Continuum: Æon: Trinity Continuum: Æon Desktop Wallpaper (image) Realms of Pugmire: Buried Bones (PDF) Mage: The Awakening: Night Horrors: Nameless and Accursed (print) Changeling: The Lost: Dark Eras: Changeling: The Lost Compilation (advance PDF) Merch Now available from our RedBubble store! Dystopia Rising: Evolution: A New Age (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Your Brothers and Sisters (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Knitting the Flesh (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Rolling the Bones (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Acts of Violence (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Wild, Wild Wastes (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Birds of a Feather (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: What You Believe (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Brain Bleed (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Campfire Stories (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: Threats of the Wastes (shirts, posters) Dystopia Rising: Evolution: The Wasteland (shirts) Dystopia Rising: Let the Dead Lie (shirts) Kickstarter Update In June we (re)launched our Legendlore Kickstarter and wrapped it up just yesterday! Although technically that’s July, it seems silly to pretend and list the current status as of June 30. We ended with at $25,092, or 167% of our $15,000 goal, thanks to our 543 backers! We funded during the beginning of Onyx Path Virtual Con, and we managed to hit a couple of stretch goals right at the end there. Legendlore GM Reference Screen Legendlore Player’s Companion: Brought from Earth Legendlore Desktop Wallpaper Did you miss one of our previous Kickstarters? The following Kickstarted products are still open for preorders via BackerKit: Scarred Lands: Creature Collection 5e Trinity Continuum: Trinity Continuum: Aberrant Realms of Pugmire: Pirates of Pugmire Vampire: The Masquerade: Cults of the Blood Gods Mage: The Ascension: Technocracy Reloaded Exalted: Lunars: Fangs at the Gate Chronicles of Darkness: Chronicles of Darkness: Dark Eras 2 Chronicles of Darkness: The Contagion Chronicle Chronicles of Darkness: Deviant: The Renegades Chronicles of Darkness: Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition Chronicles of Darkness: Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition Community Spotlight The following community-created content for Scarred Lands has been added to the Slarecian Vault in the last month: VTT Token Marker Set (Pathfinder) The Mists of Algos Elven Blood 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 month: The Green Hawk 100 Cats to Meet in the Monarchies of Mau Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell? The following community-created content for Storypath has been added to the Storypath Nexus in the last month: Scion: Scion Art Pack 3: Hero Scion: A Pain in the Dice Guide to Scion Character Creation Trinity Continuum: Tomes of Inspiration Your product could be here! Have you considered creating your own to sell?
  6. Bring the Ninth World to life on your game table! Do you love using minis and maps for your RPG … Numenera Character and Creature Standups Read More » The post Numenera Character and Creature Standups appeared first on Monte Cook Games.
  7. Our Legendlore KS only has days left to run, and actually ends on Thursday this week, so as my final push for folks to check it out, I’m not going to try and convince you like last week. I’m going to let two excellent writers do that! Here’s a great description of Legendlore, written, as only he can, by our own Matthew Dawkins: And here’s developer Steffie De Vann’s excellent take on why she loves the game: In fact, Steffie has been posting examples of the Legendlore characters she mentions above: There you go, and here’s the link to the Legendlore Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/339646881/legendlore-rpg-setting-for-5th-edition-fantasy-roleplaying-0 Let the Streets Run Red art by Oliver Specht Besides Legendlore, What Else? Just a warning, and it may just be a short-term issue, but right now it seems that we can’t ship anything to Canada or Mexico. We haven’t yet heard whether we can receive packages from those countries, but since our most prolific printers are based in Canada, we may experience some delays in our traditionally printed projects. Right now, we’re only having issues with getting the physical printer proofs sent back and forth for approvals, and not the actual books themselves. You’d think after all the panels and Actual Playing I did during the Onyx Path Virtual Gaming Con a few weeks ago that I’d be all talked out. Well, that does not seem to be the case. Ever. Naw, I love telling folks about what Onyx Path is and the game worlds we make! I just can’t help myself, we have so many exciting and fun things going on! Last week, Mike and the gang over at the This Week In Geek podcast interviewed me about WW and Onyx Path, and it turned into a sort of oral history of how the companies transformed into each successive version, and just where game lines branched off to different companies and editions. If that sort of stuff is interesting for you, here ya go: http://thisweekingeek.net/news/interviews/fan-service-interview-rich-thomas-onyx-path-june-2020 Then this weekend, I sat in on a retrospective of the Art of Mage at Ascension Con 2020 along with Satyros Phil Brucato and artists Mark Jackson and Echo Chernik. Echo took on the slideshow duties and we all discussed the Mage art that came up as it appeared. That was pretty great, and it was certainly a treat to chat with folks I haven’t talked to in years. Hopefully, that recording will show up on YouTube soon and we’ll get you all a link. Cults of the Blood Gods art by Thomas Denmark What wasn’t great last week were a couple of issues that we needed to deal with. While we dealt with them as best as we could, we realized that at core our little crew of folks here are simply not HR experts. And more importantly, we shouldn’t try to be. We need to concentrate on making great games and amazing worlds, like we do. Which means that tomorrow, I’m interviewing our current best prospect for an HR point-of-contact for the company. Someone who is HR trained and has worked in HR at other companies. And very important for us, someone who is unconnected to Onyx Path and has never been a gamer or in the TTRPG business. We need someone who doesn’t have the connections or baggage that might make it hard to be objective when they review HR concerns. Hopefully, my interview is the one, and once everything is good to go we’ll include info concerning them prominently on our website so folks know who to contact. I mean, it’s important that our worlds are all about excitement, and fear, and victory, and defeat. What our creators and community go through in the real world shouldn’t also require all those moments. We want everyone playing our games and reading our books to be safe while they explore our: Many Worlds, One Path! Blurbs! Kickstarter! The Legendlore Kickstarter is in its last few days and ends this Thursday, and now we’re really building towards Stretch Goals: the GM’s Screen, and starting the Legendlore Companion book PDF! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/339646881/legendlore-rpg-setting-for-5th-edition-fantasy-roleplaying-0 Grab your friends and escape to another world! You’ve found an enchanted portal — a transition point — between worlds. The portal, called a Crossing, takes you to a world you thought only existed in novels and films: a magical land where dragons roam the skies, orcs and hobgoblins terrorize weary travelers, and unicorns prance through the forest. It is a world where humans join other peoples such as elves, trolls, dwarves, changelings, and the dreaded creatures who steal the night. It is a world of fantasy — of imagination. It is the Realm. It is Legendlore. Next Up On Kickstarter: They Came From Beyond the Grave! Onyx Path Media! This week: the return of the return of the Scion Actual Play as Eddy and Dixie’s characters dig further into the machinations of the gods! As always, this Friday’s Onyx Pathcast will be on Podbean or your favorite podcast venue! https://onyxpathcast.podbean.com/ All our panels and games from Onyx Path Virtual Gaming Convention are still available on twitch.tv/theonyxpath! All you need to do is head on over to the website and subscribe. If you have an Amazon Prime account, you can do so for free and access our entire catalogue of videos! Legendlore‘s Kickstarter is coming to an end, but Jen Vaughn’s actual play is still going on our Twitch channel every week on Friday night! Lost in the Crossing is an amazing story played through by a fantastic GM and excellent roleplayers, and handles the Legendlore world from the perspective of visitors and native inhabitants of the Realm! Make sure you’re tuning in every Friday or catching up afterwards by subscribing. That’s not all for Legendlore, as we have actual plays by Steffie de Vaan and Corinne McCrory over on our YouTube channel, which you can find here https://youtu.be/UaQXSlEatDw and here https://youtu.be/RRvnJOrmNzM! Please give our GMs some support and tune in! This week on Twitch, expect to see: V5 – Chicago by Night Realms of Pugmire – Paws & Claws Legendlore – The Metal Scourge Dystopia Rising: Evolution – Thieves of Old York They Came from Beneath the Sea! – They Came from Devil’s Reef! Changeling: The Dreaming – The Last Faerie Tale Mage: The Awakening – Occultists Anonymous Legendlore – Lost in the Crossing Scarred Lands – Purge of the Serpentholds Chronicles of Darkness – Tooth and Claw Deviant: The Renegades – A Cautionary Tale Get watching for some fantastic insight into how to run these wonderful games. Come take a look at our YouTube channel, youtube.com/user/theonyxpath, where you can find a whole load of videos of actual plays, dissections of our games, and more, including: Legendlore – The Metal Scourge: https://youtu.be/ECRrErPLm64 Storytellers with Coffee – Safety Tools: https://youtu.be/FjG-YbG_Q1k Mage: The Ascension – Technocracy Reloaded: https://youtu.be/9Al7ZdkLGiM Even more Legendlore – The Metal Scourge: https://youtu.be/RRvnJOrmNzM #OnyxPathCon | How to Write for TTRPGs [Panel]: https://youtu.be/UKmJQEhInP8 Subscribe to our channel and click the bell icon if you want to be notified whenever new news videos and uploads come online! Occultists Anonymous continues right here with their excellent Mage: The Awakening chronicle: Episode 108: Car-V Heist While Songbird prepares for a dangerous summoning, Atratus and Wyrd hit the junkyards with an overly elaborate plan to make an overly elaborate gift. How very Mage of them… https://youtu.be/wSy3c74jkfM Episode 109: Crown of Blood Wyrd and Atratus enjoy the joy of a well-made gift and the good vibes that comes with that. Songbird joins together with Hadramiel to summon an Angel of Death to anoint a Vampire Prince in power. https://youtu.be/QxB6Ml6uStY A Bunch of Gamers continue their actual play of They Came from Beneath the Sea! and conclude it with a mini review: https://youtu.be/qIMwcOZmR8k The Botch Pit have released a wonderful new guide for Changeling: The Lost right here. Do give them a like and a subscribe: https://youtu.be/Bd0UZQZt2OM Please check these out and let us know if you find or produce any actual plays of our games! We’d love to feature you! 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 Second Edition products to Studio2‘s store! See them here: https://studio2publishing.com/collections/all-products/changeling-the-lost 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! Available this Wednesday, we present Dystopia Rising: Evolution shirts and posters on our RedBubble store! Conventions! Though dates for physical conventions are subject to change due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, here’s what’s left of our current list of upcoming conventions (and really, we’re just waiting for this last one to be cancelled even though it’s Nov/Dec). Instead, keep an eye out here for more virtual conventions we’re going to be involved with: PAX Unplugged: https://unplugged.paxsite.com/ 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) Adversaries of the Righteous (Exalted 3rd Edition) The Devoted Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) Saints and Monsters (Scion 2nd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Anima M20 Technocracy Operative’s Dossier (Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary) Squeaks In The Deep (Realms of Pugmire) Redlines Dragon-Blooded Novella #2 (Exalted 3rd Edition) Hundred Devil’s Night Parade (Exalted 3rd Edition) Novas Worldwide (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Exalted Essence Edition (Exalted 3rd Edition) Wild Hunt (Scion 2nd Edition) CtL 2e Novella Collection: Hollow Courts (Changeling: The Lost 2e) Second Draft Many-Faced Strangers – Lunars Companion (Exalted 3rd Edition) Mission Statements (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) Contagion Chronicle Ready-Made Characters (Chronicles of Darkness) Trinity Continuum: Adventure! core (Trinity Continuum: Adventure!) Dead Man’s Rust (Scarred Lands) The Clades Companion (Deviant: The Renegades) V5 Forbidden Religions (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) M20 Rich Bastard’s Guide To Magick (Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary) V5 Children of the Blood (was The Faithful Undead) (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Development TC: Aberrant Reference Screen (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Across the Eight Directions (Exalted 3rd Edition) Contagion Chronicle: Global Outbreaks (Chronicles of Darkness) Exigents (Exalted 3rd Edition) Assassins (Trinity Continuum Core) V5 Trails of Ash and Bone (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Kith and Kin (Changeling: The Lost 2e) Manuscript Approval Crucible of Legends (Exalted 3rd Edition) M20 Victorian Mage (Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition) Under Alien Skies (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) N!ternational Wrestling Entertainment (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Post-Approval Development Editing Lunars Novella (Rosenberg) (Exalted 3rd Edition) Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition core rulebook (Mummy: The Curse 2nd Edition) Player’s Guide to the Contagion Chronicle (Chronicles of Darkness) Contagion Chronicle Jumpstart (Chronicles of Darkness) TC: Aberrant Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Trinity Continuum Jumpstart (Trinity Continuum) Masks of the Mythos (Scion 2nd Edition) LARP Rules (Scion 2nd Edition) Heirs to the Shogunate (Exalted 3rd Edition) The Book of Lasting Death (Mummy: The Curse 2e) They Came From Beyond the Grave! (They Came From!) Scion: Dragon (Scion 2nd Edition) Scion: Demigod (Scion 2nd Edition) Dearly Bleak – Novella (Deviant: The Renegades) Post-Editing Development City of the Towered Tombs (Cavaliers of Mars) W20 Shattered Dreams Gift Cards (Werewolf: The Apocalypse 20th) Cults of the Blood Gods (Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition) Hunter: The Vigil 2e core (Hunter: The Vigil 2nd Edition) Trinity Continuum: Aberrant core (Trinity Continuum: Aberrant) Deviant: The Renegades (Deviant: The Renegades) Monsters of the Deep (They Came From Beneath the Sea!) Legendlore core book (Legendlore) Pirates of Pugmire KS-Added Adventure (Realms of Pugmire) Tales of Aquatic Terror (They Came From Beneath the Sea!) Terra Firma (Trinity Continuum: Aeon) One Foot in the Grave Jumpstart (Geist: The Sin-Eaters 2e) Indexing Art Direction from Mike Chaney! In Art Direction Tales of Aquatic Terror – Handing off to Meredith to AD. WoD Ghost Hunters (KS) – Prepping KS assets. Aberrant – AD’d. Sketches from HIVE in. Hunter: The Vigil 2e Mummy 2 Deviant Legendlore – KS running. Technocracy Reloaded (KS) Cults of the Blood God – Rolling along. Scion: Dragon (KS) – Waiting on art notes. Masks of the Mythos (KS) – Pinging potential cover and fulls artist. Scion: Demigod (KS) – Art rolling. KS assets AD’d. They Came From Beyond the Grave! (KS) – Prepping KS assets. TC: Adventure! (KS) – Shen Fei cover art finishing. Geist: One Foot In the Grave – AD’d. In Layout Yugman’s Guide to Ghelspad Vigil Watch TC Aeon Terra Firma V5 Let the Streets Run Red – working layout now. Pugmire Adventure Scion Titanomachy Proofing Trinity Aeon Jumpstart – Errata gathering. Lunars: Fangs at the Gate – Page XXs. Contagion Chronicle – Backer PDF out to backers, gathering errata. Cavaliers of Mars: City of the Towered Tombs Magic Item Decks (Scarred Lands) Yugman’s Guide Support Decks (Scarred Lands) Dark Eras 2 Screen and booklet At Press Scion Companion – Awaiting errata from devs. TCFBTS Heroic Land Dwellers – PoD files uploaded. TCFBTS Screen and Booklet – Files at press. They Came from Beneath the Sea! – Press proofs signed off on, PoD files uploaded. Creature Collection 5e – PoD proof ordered. Traditional files sent to printer. Pirates of Pugmire – Files at press. PoD proofs ordered. Pirates of Pugmire Screen – Files at press. Pugmire Buried Bones – PoD files uploaded. Changeling: The Lost 2nd Edition Dark Eras Compilation – Creating PoD file. Today’s Reason to Celebrate! This coming week is a big one for our household with the birthdays of two of our widdle kiddies (really not widdle at all any more), and the July 4th celebration of the American colonies’ independence from Great Britain! “And just as Tom here has written, we say To Hell With Great Britain!” Sorry, Matthew… In sadder news, we acknowledge the passing of Jim Holloway, noted artist for Paranoia and Star Frontiers and many early issues of Dragon Magazine. Personally, I very much enjoyed his style, and he brought a technical expertise and a sense of humor to the early TTRPG business that it sorely needed.
  8. Sean gave a wry chuckle as he lead Cade back to the main room of The Barn, who returned the firearm to the gym bag, along with the modified gloves. "Do we really need any more insanity in our lives right now, Cade?" Sean pursed his lips in thought, then gave his friend a shrug. "I'll give it some thought, but no promises."
  9. "Maybe not a Danger Room, but I might be able to manage some kick ass VR that would be nearly as good, especially if the Project will share their tech with me - us," Sean countered as he neatly replaced the needle, thread, and glue, and gathered up the unused RFID chips. "Not quite X-men, but likely a lot more convenient and less potential collateral damage." Sean returned the microchips to their cubby, then arched a nonplussed brow up at Cade when he asked him about Homecoming. "Since when have I ever been big on going to school events unless Mom and Dad dragged me to something Teagan or Laurie were doing?" Sean shook his head in apparent exasperation. "Haven't really given Homecoming a thought." That wasn't strictly true. With his friends starting to pair off, the idea had on occasion skirted the edge of his thoughts. He could go stag, but he hadn't ever been one to go to school Dances. And especially with his mates taking their own dates instead of them going as a group, he'd feel like an extraneous wheel. There might have been one person he'd consider asking, but knowing her for only a couple of days, it felt presumptuous to him. Besides, he didn't have anything to wear to something like Homecoming. Last time he'd worn something... suit-ish, it had been at his grandfather's funeral, when he was about eleven. "How 'bout you, Cade? Marissa, hmm?"
  10. DriveThruFiction’s Great Gaming Fiction Sale is live until Monday! Dozens of great fiction titles from Onyx Path are currently on sale, from Monarchies of Mau (Tales of Excellent Cats) to World of Darkness (The Poison Tree) to Scarred Lands (Vigilant) to Exalted (False Images) and much more!
  11. 2019 - Monday, Labor Day noon, lunch They settled on burgers for lunch, and were seated in the Roadhouse Diner waiting for their orders. Jason had been quiet since Sean’s revelation, and Sean likewise had been chewing over Jason’s. “You know that I’m going to see you get to where you need to go.” Jason stated rather than asked, causing Sean to smile faintly. There were worse allies to have when mounting an assault on a shady secret laboratory site than Jason. “Yeah. I know.” he nodded, sipping at his drink through a straw. “Just… don’t do anything precipitous, okay? We’ve got to deal with the other matter first, like Cassie said.” Jason nodded calmly, and Sean grinned as a thought struck him. “Hey. Maybe if what we find can sort out my problem, perhaps it could restructure your DNA too.” “Why would I want to?” Jason smiled slightly. Sean chuckled. “Yeah. After all, you’re ‘superior’.” he smirked, teasing his friend a little. “Yes. But that has nothing to do with being an alien.” Jason replied with a faint flash of teeth as he grinned. Sean made a rude noise as the server brought their well-stacked burgers over. Sean squirted ketchup over his fries and after the server left to see her other patrons, he looked up at Jason, his eyes twinkling in mirth, defiant of their respective issues. “Y’know, you can’t tell Cass you’re an Alien. She won’t be able to resist the headlines.” “‘They Walk Among Us!’” Jason intoned, hand sweeping to indicate a blazoned headline. “‘Shelly Coronet Exclusive: Genetically-engineered love god walks the earth, by ace reporter Cassandra Allen!’” “‘Love god’?” Sean sniggered around a mouthful of fries. “Dude makes out in the woods and now he’s Casanova. Sheesh.” Jason smiled faintly at him, eyes glinting with good humor. “Got to say, though,” Sean admitted, finishing his mouthful and gesturing towards him. “You seem different ‘cause of it.” He was going to say ‘softer’, but the memory of the counter exchange in Walgreens stifled that word. ‘More relaxed’, maybe? A thought occurred and he leaned forward as much as his bust would allow. “What about Autumn? Does she know about…?” He indicated Jason with a wave of a hand. “Yes.” Jason nodded gravely, eyes going distant for a moment as he then smiled a fraction. “I thought it only fair, considering she’d agreed to date me.” “How did she handle it?” Sean asked, fascinated, then blinked as Jason’s eyes took on the gleam he associated with a smirk from anyone else. Sean rolled his eyes and sighed. “Yes, I know. Phrasing. Now spill.” “Didn’t seem to faze her at all.” Jason said matter-of-factly, shrugging before picking up his burger and taking a bite. “Wow.” Sean blinked, again feeling a surge of envy that Jason had found someone who accepted him peculiarities and all. But stronger than that was a sense of happiness for his friend. “That’s some girl. To think she didn’t like you much last week, huh?” Jason nodded, chewing steadily as he examined Sean with his usual, uncomfortably direct stare. It reminded Sean of how Jason had used to look at everyone when he first came to Shelly, before he’d adopted mannerisms and a mask to try and hide himself. “You will have a chance, too.” Jason said quietly after washing down his mouthful with a gulp of soda. “We will get you fixed, Sean. If the technology exists to correct your DNA, then it can feasibly also help you settle on a gender. You might be able to choose male or female, and live and love accordingly.” He tilted his head a fraction, examining his friend. “It would be good to see, I think. This acceptance, the warmth in the cold places I experience - I’d like you to know what it’s like too.” 2014, October 30th, Bunnee’s “I don’t understand why.” Jason was quietly insistent, the closest he got to expressing real worry, it seemed. He was even frowning slightly, lips in a straight line as he peered at Sean from under the messy fringe of his hair. He was sitting in what had become his customary slouch, bent over a burger which he was eating with both hands, chewing steadily between speaking. “I just don’t wanna.” Sean shrugged, trying not to meet that green stare and instead looking out the window. “Halloween is your birthday. You love Halloween.” Jason wasn’t leaving it alone, doggedly hanging on like a quiet pit bull in a death-grip. “You don’t want to have a birthday?” “I’ll be having a birthday.” Sean forced a smile, looking back at his friend. “I just won’t be trick or treating. I… don’t feel like it this year.” Jason stared hard at him, actually lifting his head from it’s lowered slouch and glaring directly at Sean, who shifted in his seat. Jason’s glare wasn’t hostile, but it was definitely a lot. “No.” he said after a moment. “No?” Sean was confused. “No.” Jason reiterated. “You did not want to go swimming. You have been avoiding going outdoors ever since the summer. You avoid sports and PE class with a note.” He pointed his burger at Sean accusingly. “Something is wrong.” Sean scowled, his appetite gone, and let the rest of his burger fall with a plop, a ketchup speckled french fry jumping from his plate and rolling across the booth table. He glowered out the window and went to cross his arms defensively before hesitating, then balling his hands into fists and thumping them on the table. Sean was silent for a long moment, his jaw tight, but he was tired and angry and scared and hadn’t been able to talk to anybody who wasn’t family. Finally, he turned back to Jason, glanced towards the bathroom, gave his head a minute shake, then nodded at the burger in his friend’s hand. “Fine,” Sean ground out in his high, clear voice. “Finish your burger, and I’ll show you. At the barn.” Jason simply nodded, undeterred by his friend’s evident turmoil and finished his burger and fries with quick, economical bites. Sean just stirred his fries with a fork and took a few desultory bites, before pushing his plate to the side and finishing his soda. The boys finished their meal, leaving cash on the table. Jason counted out exacted change and a precise percentage for a tip, while Sean just slapped down enough bills to cover his share without caring about getting any change back. They waved at Bunnee and Max in passing, and then reclaimed their bikes locked up at the bike rack out front of the diner. The boys pedaled back to Sean’s home, dirt and gravel crunching under their wheels the only sound between them. Sean was still using the same bike he had since he was nine, but Jason had a new one - well, new to him, it was secondhand - he’d gotten for his birthday. At the Cassidy residence, Sean led Jason past the rambling, one story farmhouse to the barn that was being converted into a playroom and den for Sean and his siblings, though so far, only Sean was really making much use of it. Sean hopped off his bike before coming to a full stop and let it fall, the back wheel continuing to spin with a slowing clicking sound. Jason was more fastidious, coming to a complete stop and using the kickstand. The sun was an orange ball, still its own height above the horizon when Sean barged into the barn, Jason following at a more sedate, even-tempered pace. The front half of the barn was one big room, but the rear half still had sections separated by half walls, repurposed stalls, though not all the former stalls had found new purposes yet. Sean closed the blinds on each of the newly installed windows as he stalked past them towards the rearmost left stall. Sean reached up on his tip toes and pulled the string descending from the bare bulb. Harsh white-yellow light flooded the stall, their short shadows shifting at the hanging lightbulb swung gently. Sean took a deep breath, then spun around to face his friend. “What do you see when you look at me?” Sean asked. Jason tilted his head slightly, then gave Sean a cursory once over. Sean had hit his growth spurt early and had been one of the tallest boys in class. But now, he was at best only average in height, and that was changing each year, with the other boys in his grade matching and then surpassing him. He had been slim, but seemed to have put on notable weight in the last year, perhaps from being less active. “I see you, Sean. With your recent lack of physical activity, you are getting fat,” Jason replied with blunt honesty. Sean snorted bitterly. “I’m not fat. Look closer.” Jason did. Sean’s hands and forearms were slim, the fingers delicate, his complexion uniformly pale. His bright red hair was less than an inch long, but didn’t disguise the fineness of his features or the attractiveness of the lines of his face, the large, strange eyes with their long, dark lashes. Jason pictured Sean’s sisters, contrasted them with his friend and noted the resemblance between them was more than familial. Where the voices of the other boys in their class were beginning to warble and crack, Sean’s voice stayed smooth and sweet. More than once, he was asked to join the choir. “You have distinct phenotypically feminine features.” It was an open truth, but few ever actually openly remarked upon it except to be mean or cruel. Jason didn’t mean to be either, he was only stating a fact. Sean blinked. He knew what phenotype meant, because of the doctors, but he was surprised Jason knew it. “It’s sooo much worse than that,” Sean didn’t quite wail, squinting his eyes tightly as he always did to keep them dry and tear free when there was anyone to see. He shrugged out of his baggy, zip-up hoodie, then his loose flannel shirt, then the shirt was wearing under that. With each layer removed, Jason could see his friend getting slimmer and slimmer… mostly. Sean’s jeans hung off hips that were noticeably wider than what appeared to be a notably thin waist. And there was something strange about his chest. When Sean pulled off his tight undershirt, Jason found his chest bound tight with ace bandages, but they didn’t hide the white straps going over Sean’s slender shoulders. Sean was almost gasping as he unwound the bandages, hiccuping in his self-consciousness. It was bad enough showing his parents and the doctors. Laurie had spied on him once, and Teagan had made one teasing comment before getting grounded. But this was his friend, the first time he was showing somebody who didn’t need to know. He tossed the lengths of elastic bandages aside and locked his eyes on a point just over Jason’s shoulder as he let him get a full look. Sean was wearing a plain, white bra, and it wasn’t a training bra, as it was filled out with the unmistakable, if unfamiliar, bulges of breasts. Jason had been intensely aware of the growing and developing physical changes of his fellow classmates, especially the girls. Some girls were developing faster and more dramatically than others. Sophia Fingleman, for example, had been receiving particular attention, lately, from both girls and boys, both good and bad, for being as well endowed as most of the underclassmen, and several of the upperclassmen. Remarkably - and for most other people, disconcertingly and/or disgustingly - Sean had been hiding a figure at least as curvaceous. “I’m turning into a girl!” Sean wasn’t sure what he expected. From any other boy his age, shock. Or snickering. Or disgust. Or a mixture of all three. He held his gaze at that point on the far wall past Jason’s shoulder, not wanting to see his friend’s eyes when- “That seems biologically unlikely.” “Huh?!” Sean blinked and looked at Jason’s face. The green eyes were calmly appraising his body and features, and Jason’s own face, as devoid of youthful softness at the age of twelve as it had been when they first met, was smooth save for a slight furrow of concentration on his brow. Jason’s gaze met his. “I said-” “I heard you.” “Because it is unlikely that you would suddenly turn into a girl.” Jason said with the firm authoritativeness of a boy who knew how development was supposed to go. "Gaah! It's not sudden, it's still happening, day after day. It's not really turning into a girl, just looking like one and having the same hormones and stuff." Sean huffed, a little piqued that Jason had, characteristically, totally ignored the dramatised interpretation and gone right for the crux of the matter. “The doctors say it’s called Chapelle Syndrome, or something. Like, my body is producing girl hormones more than boy ones, but it’s still also producing boy ones.” Jason was staring at him, curiosity in his eyes. “That’s interesting.” “It’s really not!” Sean huffed, trying to cross his arms over his chest and having to opt for folding them under his protuberances. “It sucks, and it’s scary. I don’t want to be a girl, Jason!” “But you’re not. You’re neither, and both.” “I want to be me.” Sean felt tears start up, and tried to ignore them even as he felt their wetness trail down his cheeks. Jason’s head tilted to one side, brow furrowing again as he considered something, then he stepped forward and put a hand on Sean’s shoulder. “You are still Sean. What you look like doesn’t change who you are. Not to me.” he said quietly and firmly. “You are, and always have been my friend. I look at you and that is what I see.” The hug was awkward as it was sudden. Sean was torn between returning the hug and keeping his arms folded across his lower chest and opted for returning the hug, regretting it almost immediately as he felt his breasts press against his friend’s skinny torso. Still, for Jason to offer a hug was a major concession, and so Sean endured it for the brief moment it lasted. “Okay.” he smiled wanly as they parted, Jason stepping back without seeming at all perturbed. “One, never do that again.” he joked, smiling so Jason would be sure to get it. His friend smiled fractionally in return. “Two, you can’t tell anyone.” “Won’t they find out eventually anyway?” Jason asked with his usual coldly brutal logic. “Yeah, maybe. But I’m not ready for that yet.” Sean sighed. “And three… can you help me re-wrap these things? My mom usually does.” “Aren’t they sensitive? Doesn’t that hurt?” Jason inquired calmly. “Yeah. It hurts.” Sean admitted ruefully. “But… It’s better than people knowing. And don’t give me the ‘logically that seems flawed, Captain’ treatment.” he pointed at Jase, doing an impression of Spock. “Kirk didn’t have breasts.” Jason replied, a glint of humor in his eyes as he moved to pick up the bandages. “I won’t tell anyone. But I think this is something you need to accept.” “Yeah. Maybe one day I will.” Sean sighed.
  12. Sean pushed off from leaning against his car, giving Kat an apologetic shrug. "I think this is cooler. Like one of those flameless lighters. More efficient, all the heat without the flame" Sean nodded down the length of the strip mall towards Sulli's Electronics at the end, then shifted to Kat's side so the cigarette smoke wouldn't blow in his face. He glanced casually about as they started walking, making sure nobody was paying undue attention to them. "So, it looks like you can do something like Jase, just in a different way. Instead of making flame directly, you might have to agitate molecules to combust." He pointed at the cig dangling from her lips. "And make flame that way." They reached Sulli's and stood a bit away from the door to let Kat finish her cigarette before heading in. A frown appeared on Kat's features as she asked, "Isn't it what Jason is doing ? If I heard correctly," she puffed, "he uses telekinesis, right ? So he'd be agitating the molecules to heat them up. What I did didn't feel like... telekinesis. One moment, the air was cool, and a moment after, it was hot. It almost felt like I had an energy reservoir and I tapped in it to allow the combustion. Took me a while to figure it out..." She rubbed the back of her head, before adding, "Thinking about it, if I had tried too hard, I might have burnt the cigarette to ash." She drew a last time on her cigarette before stubbing it out against the floor, her eyes scanning her surroundings to stop on a public trash. She got rid of the butt and nodded at her friend, who opened the door of the shop. There was an electric chime as the door opened. Sean waved Kat ahead and followed her in to Sulli's Electronics and Computers with a sense of familiarity. The shop was probably the place he had visited most often outside of Shelly and had that aura of welcoming clutter that the best mom and pop stores held, despite it being neat and tidy. Behind the counter at the back the facing the door was a somewhat short man, only two or three inches taller than Sean, somewhere between stocky and rotund, who had probably crested forty years of age. He looked away from the monitor he was looking and seeing Sean, he smiled, crows feet at the corners of his grey eyes creasing his smooth face. "Oh! Sean, good afternoon," he called out cheerily. "What brings you out today? I wasn't waiting on a build from you to put out on commission was I?" "No, not this time, Sulli," Sean replied, with a relaxed ease Kat noticed was rare from Sean. "But I am looking at putting together a gaming rig." He put a slender hand on Kat's slight shoulder. "This is Kat, a new friend and student at Shelly High. She heard I had a thing for computers and decided she needed a new setup. And you're the best for parts, Sulli, so I brought her here." "Sean's too kind," Sullivan said, offering Kat a boyish grin that belied his age. "I'm just diligent and a little compulsively thorough when looking for suppliers. Pleased to meet you, Kat. What do you need?" After greeting the man back, Kat pursed her lips into something close to a cute pout while she thought about what she exactly wanted. If she picked her components carefully, she might get an even better rig than the one she left in France, and for a better price. "I'm looking for at least 4 GB of video memory, a solid processor, 16 GB of RAM, and a soundcard decent enough for music recording. For that last thing, I really don't know if I can get that integrated to a computer or if it has to be external, but I need it either way." As she spoke she raised a finger for each demand, waving her hand when specifying how important the sound card was to her. "I never really liked how my recordings sounded with a laptop, so I wanna make sure I get something nice." With an amused smirk, Sullivan began taking short notes, then his eyes met with the petite redhead's as he asked : "Do you have any... brand preferences ?" Kat shook her head. "I don't really know better than both of you would," she replied, "I'm open to suggestions." "Well, if you're willing to trust us, I'm sure we can get you everything you'd like, and under budget," Sulli with a smile as he began pulling up his inventory on the computer. "Especially with the employee discount, hmm?" Sean said with a grin, arching a brow. "I suppose if I don't, you'll just coincidentally buy the same components, Sean?" Sulli replied with an exasperated tone, but his pale blue eyes twinkled. Sean nodded. "Fine then. Let's start with what I have on sale and clearance and go from there. It was almost like another language, as Sean and Sullivan debating the merits and specs of various brands of components, versus what Kat needed, and what she wanted. Sean was clearly in his element, but made the effort to explain to the more petite redhead what he was talking about. "You could get a better soundcard, but overall, you'll probably be better of with an external DAC," Sean said. "Especially for recording. You'll also want to invest in a good mic or two - that'll help a lot and save you time in sound editing. And baffling for wherever you end up recording - that'll stop echoes. I learned that the hard way." So in his element, Sean completely shut down a guy who had seen the two attractive redheads and tried to mansplain computer builds before Sullivan could intervene. The guy looked to be in his twenties, some sort of tech-bro. He'd given Kat a look that suggested he thought she was cute, but too young, before turning his attention to Sean, or more often, his chest, as he tried to impress him with his knowledge of video games and computers. It didn't take long before Sean had him retreating out of the store with his tail between his legs. In less than an hour, Kat had all the components for a PC, with better specs than she had asked for, and under the budget she had set for herself, giving her leeway to get a new microphone. The components made a surprisingly compact pack, fitting inside a box easily handled by either Kat or Sean. Thankfully, Sean already had a spare computer case, so Kat didn't need to a new one. "Thanks, Sulli," Sean chimed as Kat paid. "And just so you know, I'll probably have Regenesis done sooner than later. Been making amazing progress lately" Kat put her wallet away, and box of unconstructed computer held protectively in her arms, sidled up to Sean, mouth spread wide in pleasure. "Ready to head back and put your new PC together?"
  13. 2019 - Monday, Labor Day morning, on the road “Yeah, that seems good.” Jason mused, taking a swallow of Coke. “Perhaps we can persuade the Aeon people to share that communications tech with us.” He smiled in his usual wry fashion. “At least the stuff they were handing out to Etienne and their other agents - that not-quite-a-phone we found of his.” “I wonder if they work on the same basic principles as the weird radio from the trailer,” Sean added, flicking on the turn signal and shifting lanes with a quick glance in the mirror for the upcoming off ramp to Great Falls. “But what I really want…” There was a lustful burr to the shapely boy’s dulcet voice, “... is some of that holography tech. Gaming night and video games would be so sweet.” As the music changed to a minimalist composition of soft percussion and what sounded like singularly drops of something into some manner of liquid, Sean went off on a tangent about the progress he was making on his video game. Jason let his friend babble on, long familiar with how Sean’s particular brand of genius benefitted from jumping from one topic to another. With greater understanding of his own abilities and how they manipulated software, the coding on FBG (Fallout-But-Good, codename), was taking an exponential leap forward, in efficiency especially. He could get more using less memory, which drastically eased rendering and loading times, and would mitigate crashes and errors - also helped by him not being a lazy coder. “... do away with zoning, and don’t even need to use cinematic cutscenes anymore. I can get it all done using the game engine, just zooming and playing with the camera angles to get the best shots,” Sean explained, sounding almost giddy, as he wove through Great Falls on the familiar route to Sullivan’s Computers & Electronics. Sean had a great deal of respect for what the gaming industry had accomplished, but believed now, imagination and innovation had taken a backseat thanks to the executives and sales folk for the sake of the investors. Games from the biggest publishers were coming out nearly half finished - if that in some cases - and riddled with bugs. He was just one person, he couldn’t write, code, and test as fast as they could, or at least, he shouldn’t have been able too. On the other hand, he didn’t have stakeholders to answer to and publisher executives medling to squeeze every bit of money from the game at the expense of the game and the players. And he now had an insight into the digital world they just didn’t have. He could see a game forming that could be a turning point in the industry, one that could rank in the greatest and most influential game lists for years. One of those games that remained pristine and flawless in nostalgic eyes. “... and picture that in 3D holography, yeah?” Sean finished as he parked in the lot of the small srip mall. “I can,” Jase replied, forming the scene in his mind palace. “Evocative. But do you believe you’ll have the time to work on this with all that is happening with Proteus and Crossroads?” “You still make time for your flowers, Jase. I can make time for this,” Sean countered, his forearms on the steering wheel as he stared out the windshield thoughtfully. “I’m still looking at what comes after Proteus and Crossroads, Cody and Kline and all that stuff. Making video games might be a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a dream that isn’t lost me with everything that’s going on with us. A dream that has actually grown with it instead.” “I get it, Sean.” Jason looked over at his friend with his inscrutable gaze, and enigmatic grin. “Just wanted to know how important it was to you.” Sean rolled his eyes with familiar exasperation, but grinned. Jason had changed since summer, but then again, they’ve all had. Still, Sean was about the most used to him. “You could’ve just said that, man,” Sean groused. “But then, where would have been my fun?” Jason said, the bare curve of his lips deepening faintly, verdigris eyes glinting. The boys exited the Jeep, Jason with economical grace, Sean with more of a hop, due to his modest height. A pair of women, two or three years older than the Shellites leaving a yoga studio gave Jason a casual glance of interest, the blonde giving a shudder when she noticed his eyes. When their attention slid over Sean, who was straightening his hoodie and was once again considering the graphic on it being a little too on point, the blonde scowled, while the snorted a giggle, something sounding like ‘udders’ drifting over to the boys on the air. The hoodie was loose, but not shapeless, and regardless, Sean’s curves were much too pronounced to hide. He didn’t even try anymore. He just shot the girls an arched brow, then led Jason into Sullivan’s. “Hey, Sean!” the pudgy Sulli called in friendly greeting to one of his best customers, and occasional subcontractor for computer builds. “And friend,” Sulli added somewhat more neutrally when he noticed the lanky boy who was clearly accompanying Sean, guessing he wouldn’t have much time to geek out to pop culture and electronics with the intersexed youth. “What can I do you guys for?” “Phone shopping.” Sean told his tech-savvy friend with a grin. “My man Jase here has decided to join the 21st century and leave behind smoke signals and semaphore.” A slight bit of ribbing at Jason’s expense - Sean knew his friend was far from incompetent with technology, circuitry, electronics, computers and the like: he simply didn’t share Sean’s fascination with them to the same degree. Jason merely smiled at the good-natured teasing, his cold eyes crinkling a little at the corners as Sean went on. “I’m his spirit guide on this quest.” “Well, if Sean’s your guide, I’m guessing Android?” Sully smiled at Sean as he got his keys and moved along to the phone display cases. He gave Jase a professional shopkeeper’s appraisal. “What’s your budget look like?” “Money is no obstacle, within reason.” Jason responded calmly as he moved to examine some of the sleek-looking phones. 2013 - March, Weekend, Cassidy Home Sean busied himself with washing the lettuce as a quiet argument went on behind him. Outside, the grill was heating up as the family took advantage of an unseasonably warm early Spring day to properly cook steaks and burgers. Inside the kitchen, things were also heating up. “He bit that boy, and Mr Polanski. They both needed stitches.” Mom said with low, worried severity. “He was defending Sean, Mom.” Teagan said with a dismissive snort. “Mr Polanski lets Chet and his cronies do whatever - either because he’s blind or because he doesn’t care. Jason stepped up, you know what I’m saying?” “Alan’s mother said he still has bruises on his neck and has woken up with nightmares several times.” Carolyn fretted. “You can’t tell me that’s a normal scuffle between boys.” “Good. Alan should keep his hands to himself!” “Teagan Cassidy!” “What?! It’s true, mom. Chet and his friends are little shi- bullies.” Teagan moderated her words, if not her tone. “I don’t care if Sean’s friend gives them all screaming night terrors. Hell, I’ll hug him when I see him.” Sean’s older sister was fiercely protective of her little brother, and it showed. “Heh. He might bite you.” Laurie giggled. “Oh, don’t even joke.” Carolyn said severely. “What if he has serious problems?” “He does, mom.” Sean turned around, facing his sisters and mother, his father at the far end of the kitchen staying out of the discussion. “He’s got no mother, no siblings, his dad is a drunk. He acts like he doesn’t expect any kindness from anyone, but he always sits with me, and talks with me about all sorts of stuff. He’s super smart, just quiet. And he’s not mean at all.” “Tell that to Mr Polanski.” “That was an accident. Jase said he thought it was Chet.” “Oh, so he thought he was biting into a boy’s artery. That makes it so much better.” Carolyn’s tone was heavy with irony as she turned to her husband. “Jack, talk to your children please?” Sean’s dad looked up from the marinade he was mixing, considering his wife, then looking at Sean. “Our son invited his friend to our cookout.” he said in a level tone. “I see nothing wrong with that. Whatever you heard from other moms doesn’t count for much, Carolyn. I trust Teagan and Sean when they say those boys are bullies. Maybe Jason does have issues - but denying him our son’s friendship won’t help with that.” Carolyn let out a small sigh. “I know, I know. I’m just worried about-” “Trust Sean, sweetheart. He knows good eggs from bad.” Jack looked round as the front doorbell rang. “Speaking of…” “I’ve got it.” Sean dried his hands off on a dishtowel and scampered to the door. Opening it he saw Jason on the porch, a plastic container under one arm and with his satchel slung around his narrow shoulders. He gave Sean a tiny smile as the redheaded boy greeted him. “Heya Jase. What’s in the box?” “A gift.” Jason said enigmatically. Sean chuckled and swung the door wider, letting his friend in and leading him to the kitchen. “How’d you get down here? Dad give you a ride?” “My father’s sleeping. I walked.” Jason said as he followed Sean into the large family kitchen, noting the surprise on everyone’s face as his words registered. “You walked?” Carolyn sounded mildly aghast. “That’s..” “Three and a half miles, roughly.” Jason supplied helpfully as he put the blue plastic container on the table at one end. “These are for you, Mrs Cassidy.” “But that’s dangerous!” Carolyn said concernedly. “I’m careful.” Was all Jason replied, with a slight shrug. Teagan came round the table and popped off the lid from the container. “Oh hey, brownies.” “My first batch.” Jason told her with a smile. Teagan shot her mom a meaningful look, then turned and leaned over, giving Jason a hug. Sean saw his stoic friend’s eyes widen a little in surprise, swivelling towards Sean as though seeking answers for this strange behaviour. “Uh. Thanks. But they’re only brownies.” Teagan giggled, giving the skinny boy a slight squeeze, then released him. “No, that was for protecting Sean.” She hesitated, then gave him a kiss on the forehead, making him blink. “That was for the brownies.” “Say, these look good.” Jack peered into the container. Carolyn came forward then, shooing away her husband’s reaching hand. “Off, you. Jason said they were for me. Right, Jason?” she asked him as she put the lid back on the container and moved it to the fridge. “That’s right. And whoever you choose to share them with” he asserted with a faint smile. Carolyn came back over, giving him a slightly awkward one armed hug. “Thank you, sweetie. We’ll share them after dinner.” “If we’ve got any room.” Laurie grinned. Jason glanced around at the various tasks the family were doing, contributing to the meal, and frowned a little in consideration. “Can I help?” he asked. Jack and Carolyn exchanged a glance, and Sean smiled as he saw his mom’s expression. Whatever doubts she had about Jason or his issues, his mom had a huge heart. And it had gone out to his friend. “Sure. Ever grilled before?” Jack asked, getting off the stool he was seated on and bringing over a tray of steaks to set beside the bowl of dry marinade. “I need someone to coat these thoroughly. You up for that?” “I have seen it done.” Jason replied as he clambered up onto the stool and rolled up the sleeves of his sweater.
  14. 2019 - Monday, Labor Day morning, around 7 am There had been a mist hanging low over the fields an hour or two earlier, when he’d first sat down on the porch seat with his satchel and a cup of coffee, watching the rising sun and smiling slightly to himself as it turned the sky a vivid red-gold with hints of rose. Now the mist had been burned away, the sky taking on a richer blue as the sun ascended, and the cup was cold and empty at his side. An observer would have not seen the youth move since he’d set the empty mug down, instead resting his hands on his thighs with his gaze turned inwards, so perfectly still he seemed to withdraw from the present. In truth he was meditating on the Shine, feeling the tickle of it from the tall grass in front of the house, the occasional brighter sense of his father asleep upstairs in the house, the rich glow that permeated himself. The weekend had come with revelations, and the slow-moving moments of quiet reflection allowed him to re-examine them all. The sound of an engine - not the growl of his own Charger, but the whisper-like purr of a car made for more modern sensibilities, intruded on his reverie. Jase turned his head, seeing Sean’s Trailhawk rolling up the dirt track to come to a stop in front of the farmhouse, and raised a hand in greeting as he stood, gathering his satchel and loping down from the porch. His friend smiled at him and waved him round to the passenger side, grinning as the door clicked open and the lanky teen slid into the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Some ambient flute and string music Sean was experimenting with for his current design project filled the car unobtrusively, and a bag of snacks and drinks was tucked down just behind and between the front seats. “Jason Bannon, getting a phone!” Sean’s smile was wide as he glanced at the naturally composed features of his friend. Girlish lips twisted in a smirk. “Anyone else, I’d say it has to be a girl behind such a radical move. For you? God knows. Something nefarious, probably.” “Perhaps it is also a girl - or a boy.” Jason replied softly, one corner of his mouth quirking as the edges of his eyes crinkled, though he didn’t look at his friend, instead regarding Trailhawk’s interior curiously as Sean turned the Jeep around and started back down the track. “Many things may be true at the same time, after all.” “Philosophy before eight am. Great.” Sean mock-grumped, side-eying the inscrutable one. “So is it a girl?” “Perhaps I just feel the need to be able to connect.” Jason returned Sean’s gaze with one of his own fathomless stares, though he was still smiling a little. “Secrets and philosophy before eight am.” Sean pouted, though he smiled as well. There seemed something… relaxed about Jase this morning. More so than his usual unflappable calm. Has to be a girl. Or else he’s developed that bio-plague he’s always ‘joking’ about… “Are you going to tell me at all?” “Perhaps.” Jase sighed as he got comfortable in the plush seat, playing with the reclining controls. He glanced sideways at Sean, lips curving in another sly smile. “Nice car, this.” “I like it.” Sean radiated self-satisfaction, possessiveness and delight in having his own vehicle filling the jacked up SUV in a way his modest stature couldn’t. He turned onto I-15 and headed towards Great Falls, his slender fingers drumming on the steering wheel. “And there was never a chance I’d snag the Tesla. ‘Sides, no way this baby is getting stuck in a Montana winter, unlike that roadster or some other cars I can care to think of…” He flashed his friend a quick, teasing grin. If the Grand Cherokee wasn’t as pristine as Jase’s restored classic muscle car, and wasn’t the latest model, it still had decades of motorive advancement on the Charger. Sure, the interior was kind of worn and it could stand to be repainted after Sara had helped him - okay, he had helped her, at little - with the obvious repairs, but it had most of the modern conveniences, like heated seats, and rearview camera - admittedly, after-market - that Sean had wanted. Most of. He hadn’t been looking for something that could off-road like a beast, but now that he had it, he rather enjoyed it, even if he needed the running board to be able to climb inside it. Jase smiled slightly, shrugging one shoulder even as he let his slender fingers play over the upholstery on the inside of the door, making a tactile connection to add to his other sensory impressions. “If my car gets stuck in the snow, I’ll move it.” It was a great day for driving, the sky was clear but the sun wasn’t glaring, and the wind was light or non-existent. After having to beg or deal for rides or cycle around town on the same bike since he was eleven, Sean loved driving, and took whatever opportunity he could to do so, despite having had Little Bigfoot hardly more than a week. “I know I just got her, but I have looked a bit at what it would take to convert her to electric.” The shapely boy glanced over his shoulder, then shifted into the left-hand lane and picked up speed to pass a languorous landboat going ten under the speed limit, the 5.7L Hemi V8 rising from a whisper into a powerful purr. “It’s pricey, especially for the specs I’m looking at, but considering...” Sean snapped his fingers and an actual actinic spark crackled, “... certain considerations, there would be some great advantages. But I’ll have to finish Regenesis or Annwn will need to go viral before I can afford it.” Jason nodded occasionally as his friend spoke, his sly smile widening just a bit. “Her, hmm?” “Pshaw!” Sean scoffed with a roll of expressive, exasperated, exotically hued eyes. “Appearances to the contrary, I ain’t into riding dudes.” He gave the steering wheel a slap. “Little Bigfoot is simply a big girl.” “So, phone?” He arched an angled brow at his friend, changing the subject “You looking for some ancient Nokia flip phone that can barely find the internet and takes a thousand years to type a text, or something more current, like, from the last decade?” 2012 - November, Morning, Shelly Elementary “We have a new student joining us today, children,” Mrs. Durham said in her gentle, infinitely patient voice. “I’d like you all to say hello to Jason Bannon, who has just moved to Shelly with his father.” Next to Helen Durham’s stocky, solid form stood a slight figure with a mop of brown and downcast eyes dressed in well-worn, oversized clothing. Helen was going to place a comforting hand on the new boy’s shoulder, but she could sense the taut tension in the boy and caught the sudden, watchful intensity in his eyes whenever someone invaded his personal space, and so relented. There was a chorus of obliging Hi’s and Hello’s of various enthusiasm, and a few waves. Sean was one of the ones who waved. In the last few months, he’d had a big growth spurt, and now he was one of the tallest kids in grade four. Unfortunately, despite his vivid red hair cut short, he still looked more girlish than boyish, though his parents promised that he’d start filling out soon. Some of the other kids were starting to tease him about it. It didn’t help that most of the other taller kids in his grade were also girls, like Sara Hutchins, who at least could boast being more solidly built than he was. “There’s an open desk next, Sean. Why don’t you take it, Jason? Sean is a smart boy, and he can show you where we are in the lessons for today?” The skinny figure in the oversized clothing cast one glance at the teacher, then moved without a word towards the empty desk. The rest of the fourth grade class regarded him with the curiosity due to all new things as he passed several rows in a head-down slouch. Todd Asper, from the row behind Sean, snickered. “Watch out he doesn’t think you’re a girl and fall in love, Cassidy.” “Todd Asper! Am I going to have to move you up here again to stop you whispering?” Mrs Durham’s voice rose a little. “Eyes on your book, please. The only people who should be talking are Sean and Jason right now. And if your quiz results aren’t better than last week, Mr Asper, you will be moved to the front of the class for the rest of the school year.” Amidst a chorus of ‘oooh’ from the other kids directed at the luckless Todd, the Bannon kid slid into the seat next to Sean’s, setting a worn-looking leather satchel on ground after extracting a dogeared, second-hand copy of the textbook, a couple of pencils and a notebook from it’s recesses. Sean studied the new kid for a moment as he got situated, finding him odd somehow, beyond the oversized army-surplus clothes and the dire need of a haircut or, failing that, a comb. He was skinny, sure, but his features even lacked the residual childish softness of a normal ten or eleven year old’s, seeming severe and drawn by comparison. Even his mouth was severe - a straight line with no expressiveness to it, as if he never smiled or laughed. His ethnicity was likewise enigmatic - sharp cheekbones and narrow eyes, olive skin and dark hair. “Hey. I’m Sean, but I guess you already figured that out.” Sean essayed a greeting as he leaned over, meaning to break the ice with the apparently shy kid. He wasn’t sure if it was the greeting or the movement, but Jason lifted his head from contemplating his desk then, turning and meeting the effeminate boy’s eyes. Sean had been about to offer his hand, but paused. There was nothing shy in the stare currently scrutinising him. Wariness, perhaps. Watchfulness, definitely. But no nervousness, no shyness, no ‘oh hey someone’s being cool to me’ relief. It was strange, an effect heightened by the icy pale green of Jason Bannon’s eyes. They were reflective, giving nothing away except, as the stare continued, mild interest and curiosity. “You have central heterochromia. Oddly vivid colours.” Was perhaps the strangest introduction one fourth grader ever made to another. It was, however, the first words any student in Shelly Elementary had ever heard Jason say. The accent was also hard to place - American but at the same time not - possessing a sharp precision as if every word was considered for a microsecond before being spoken. The angular features tilted slightly, a flicker of something behind the green eyes indicating a remembrance of correct behaviour. “And I’m Jason.” “Pleased to meetcha.” Sean offered his hand, feeling the bony slender fingers grip it, shake once, then release. “And you know what heterochromia is.” He stated rather than asked, regarding Jason in an assessing manner for a moment as the skinny boy shrugged non-committedly. “Well, let’s get you caught up.”
  15. "Hello there !" Kat's soft voice rang through the kitchen. She was all jeans, blouse and booties, her leather jacket under her left arm, and a discreet layer of make-up adorned her smiling features. She waved at Sean before scooting over the fridge, grabbing the orange juice and pouring herself a large glass. "Sorry for taking so long, I only realized it was 2PM when I, uh, heard your car." She rubbed the back of her head, then swallowed a large amount of her OJ. Tess glanced at the petite redhead, curiosity and mild amusement in her eyes. "When should we expect you to come back? This evening ?" She asked, hiding a mischievous grin behind a sip on her coffee. Still ashamed about the evening before, Kat first looked at her feet, then glanced at Sean, asking for help. "Hey there yourself, Kat," Sean replied, raising his mug of coffee in a greeting salute to the svelte French girl. Sean finished his coffee with a couple of quick sips then slipped off the kitchen stool. He reclaimed his plastic bag and tucked it a bit awkwardly under his arm, his turquoise and jade eyes flicking between Kat and her father's girlfriend. He got the sense there was something going on between them, though didn't know enough to even guess at what. "Weeeell, we're only going to Great Falls to pick up a few things. An hour there, an hour at most to shop, and an hour back, we should be back by five, six at the latest," Sean answered Tess, with a slight bit of hesitancy. "A few hours afterwards to put it all together and run a few tests, we should have it done by this evening." His uncanny gaze shifted back to Kat. "Is that alright? If you have something to do with the family this evening, I can put it all together at home and drop it off tomorrow morning, Kat. No probs." Tess shook her head negatively, hmm-ing over her mouthful of coffee. She swallowed and replied, "It's alright. I was teasing the little damsel over here about last evening, when she arrived two hours late for dinner. Take your time, but please Kat, this time, text me when you're on the way back from Great Falls, a'ight ?" The smaller teen rubbed the back of her head. "Yeah, I'll try not to forget this time..." She finished the rest of her OJ, then turned to her curvaceous friend. "Let's go? Laters, Tess!" "If she does, I won't," Sean assured the dark-haired beauty Kat's dad was dating, giving her a small, two fingered wave. "Later." Sean lead Kat outside to his SUV, unlocking the doors with a thought rather than the fob in his hand. He put the plastic bag of parts behind the driver's seat, then climbed up behind the wheel. Kat climbed up into the passenger seat with more athletic grace than Sean had. Sean brought the Grand Cherokee to life, put it onto gear, and carefully manoeuvred out of his parking spot on the side of the street, since someone had decided to park right behind him instead of using practically anywhere on the rest of the block. Starting on the way to Great Falls, he arched an amused brow at his passenger. "Damsel, hmm? What were you doing last night that you were a damsel? in some sort of distress, I presume, and who saved you?" "Ugh..." The petite redhead sighed. "I was having a great time with Courtney, and at one point, I just... lost track of time, I guess..." The delicate pink coloring her cheeks told there was more to it, but she didn't go on the details, except... "Oh, yeah, right. At first, we were talking about telepathy. She made me a deal: she'll share her insights on... stuff, 'cause she was part of the Project, right? So she maybe trained her abilities a different way than you did, et caetera, but in exchange for her help, I'd get her in the group training session, including the one on Sunday... Would that be... possible ?" "Ask Jason," Sean said a touch sharply, turning his attention fully on the road. "I'm doing something else, tomorrow." He hadn't made definite plans, but he suddenly decided what he was doing tomorrow, so it wasn't really a lie. He could even claim it as a personal training session. Despite himself, noticing Kat's soft blush, he couldn't help but wonder what Kat meant by a great time with Courtney, and why'd she lose track of time. "I'm sure Jase will take your reasoning into consideration, and see the logic in allowing Courtney to attend." His lovely tone turned grudging, his lips pursed in something dangerously close to a pout. "If you want, I'll ask Jason myself on your behalf." The French girl took a moment to compose herself, cherry-red lips still haunting her thoughts. "I'd ask him myself, but I don't have his number..." She'd sensed her friend's change of attitude more than she'd noticed it, as her telepathy was more and more becoming a part of herself rather than a tool. She glanced at Sean, wondering. "Is there... something? Between you and Courtney? I mean... she didn't seem to like you much..." Her curiosity was piqued. "If I'm out of bounds, sorry for asking, but if I'm ever to throw a party some day, it could help to know who hates who. I've had my lot of drama back in France," she added, a hint of weariness seeping through her soft tone. Kat saw Sean's hands tighten on the wheel, his abundant chest rise and fall as he took several deep, calming breaths. His silence was telling, as were the pings of emotion Kat couldn't help but catch radiating off him. "It's... It's okay, you're new here, to the dynamics of Shelly High," Sean said coolly. Kat could tell the coldness wasn't meant for her, just the history. "Yes, there is 'something' between me and Courtney. It's because of her everyone at school found out I was growing these!" Sean arched his back, making the very obvious even more obvious. Not like I could've kept them secret for much longer. "She didn't like me much before, she hated me after, and her and her goons just got worse as time went on. And I haven't grown to like her any over that time either." Getting on I-15, and passing the outskirts of Shelly, Sean gave Kat a level glance when he had a moment. "Look, I have no right to say or even suggest who you want to be friends with, Kat. Just be careful with her. Just because she's part of the weird too, doesn't mean you can trust Courtney. She's always been about herself and her own gratification first and foremost. I haven't seen anything to change that." Sean clearly had emotional wounds, and while they were scarring, they were still tender. Sean's mouth tightened into a thin line. "I'll still call Jase for you and make the request on your behalf, if you want, though." The petite redhead glanced at her friend in realization. She would have never guessed. Teens can be utterly cruel. Still, Sean offering to call Jason and ask if Courtney could join the training session meant something. She offered an apologetic smile to the driver. "I'm sorry they gave you hell." She meant it. The car remained devoid of conversation for a minute, then Kat broke the silence. "You could call him now and put him on speakers. How's that sound ?" "Sure, that's fine," Sean said, only having to feign a little bit of the cheeriness, before shifting the pitch of his voice to make a hands-free call. "Call. Jason. Home." <Did you say Call Jason Home?> "Yes." <Calling Jason Home.> As the phone dialed, Sean returned Kat's apologetic smile with a wry grin. "And thanks, but you don't have anything to be sorry for. You weren't there or involved." "Gar," came a gruff voice through the speakers. "Hello, Mr. Bannon. It's Sean. Is Jason there?" "Gar," Jason's father reiterated for his son's strange, feminine friend. "Jason's out." Pause. "He'll be back this evening. Six. Seven." "Thanks, Mis - er, Gar. I'll try back around then." There was a click as Gar hung up, then a softer blip as Sean's smartphone ended the connection. Sean gave Kat a one-armed shrug. "Guess, we'll call back." Wanting to shift the talk about from Courtney and almost anything Courtney adjacent, Sean switched to something Tess had mention. "So, Tess mentioned you paint and draw? I do a bit too, but mostly work digitally and with animation myself. I've made one game and am almost done another."
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