February 2, 2019 at 4:10 pm #15627
The goat replied: “Whatever gave you that idea. It was boring… unbelievable boring… but you are going to see him, so you will take our place. Rebecca…
You seem like a smart… being. I am sure we could come to an agreement. We don’t have to be enemies. On the contrary. I could help you end your enemies. We aren’t so different – we want what’s best for us and ours – and we don’t want to be kept in agony and boredom for an eternity. I could teach you. Show you how you can become immortal and able to heal – no matter what damage you take.”
Becky’s question was answered by looking through the portal: Ichante’s commlink icon was clearly visible, albeit a bit distorted by noise due to the distance.February 2, 2019 at 10:45 pm #15631
Becky replies ”I take it this that this is what you did for the sexy moaning witch? Perhaps she is the one to free you?
About your proposal, I am powerful enough and do not seek power from external sources. I gain a modicum of power as I discover my body and improve its limitations.
Yet, nobody should be kept in eternal agony, even if it is for the common good. So I am willing to negotiate for a more respectful collaboration. I may not want to be immortal right now – but a few decades from now once I lived my share, raised a few children and grew old – there is something to talk about. I can perhaps come to replace you here, but I suspect that it will not be enough. Keeping myself in agony just prolongs the evil. Let’s think about a better offer. I will create, an organization of mortals that willingly guard the sleeper. I’ll replace any of your spirits with perhaps four people which would allow them to sleep, eat, and visit their family. Is my suggestion technically possible? If so, I can call a lawyer friend and finalize a binding contract. Would that be satisfactory for you? “
February 3, 2019 at 6:57 am #15644
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Gilga.
“Mortal lawyers are… amusing. No, such contracts have to be signed in blood. How you guard the sleeper is up to you, I’ll grant you my boon in exchange for freedom. But you must hurry, this body can’t take much more of this. Soon I’ll be disrupted and flung back into the chaos.”
The goat’s voice was getting fainter and the blood was flowing more freely now that she had jolted it on the stick around that much.February 3, 2019 at 7:36 am #15645
”What happens to you then?” she asks and then adds how did your previous body survive being impelled for so long? Why can’t you just regenerate the wound? Cutting you in half with my magical katana was undone in less than a second. Surely, you are manipulating me to make me sign quickly.” Then she thought ”Wait also, why do you need me to be free? Aren’t you free right now?”
She texts Ichante asking where she is, and if nobody got a cold heart would follow inside shortly after.
February 3, 2019 at 11:47 am #15647
- This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Gilga.
“You can’t possibly be this… unobservant. Your companion cried out the reason quite clearly. The wood is killing me. This body is dying – in excruciating pain.”
The goat replied.February 3, 2019 at 7:20 pm #15649
Before crossing the portal, Preston messages Ichante “How is the air over there? My gas mask is build into the balaclava I have wrapped around the goat’s head. Not to perpetuate the unhealthy hacker stereotype, but I have lung damage, and if we have to run for it on the way out I don’t want to start out already wheezing and gasping.“February 4, 2019 at 12:43 am #15652
The air was clean and absolute still. The dust was so dry, it clung immediately to boots and trousers with static electricity. Whatever this place was, it seemed to have taken its atmosphere directly from earth – probably when the portal opened the first time.February 4, 2019 at 1:10 pm #15658
Preston looked at the others, shrugged, then said “I guess we should get going?” Despite the question in his voice, he steps through the portal and starts walking at a steady pace towards Ichante.
* Monkey: I don’t like this place. If I’d stayed in Seattle I might be in someone’s bed right now.
* Eliza: If I’d stayed in Seattle, someone else would be here now, maybe making worse decisions.
* Oleg: Walking into a witch-world probably is the worst decision I could make.
* Coleman: Sitting around and doing nothing, when action is required, would be the worst decision I could make.
* Gamma: I’m not apt to be critical in this situation
* Coleman: I’m not apt to be assigned a critical role. That is why I’m needed, any group can need a slack resource.
* Gamma: I’m assuming that matrix support won’t be needed, but I don’t actually know this.
As he went, Preston checked the quality of matrix connection to the others, and then just to be paranoid scanned the …. wherever they were … for any other matrix signals.
* Oleg: As much as hate all the magic mumbo-jumbo around that stone, finding anything in here using the matrix would probably be even worse.February 4, 2019 at 1:14 pm #15660
Walking along beside Preston, Al said, “Hey, earlier today when we was drivin’, ya mentioned the Redmond Barrens. Reckon I spent the better part o’ the last eight years in Seattle. Ya do much work there?”
He asked it as though they were walking to the corner Stuffer Shack for a FreezeyNERPS.February 4, 2019 at 2:01 pm #15664
Ichante sees Al coming through the portal. She decides to pause and wait for him so that she can benefit from the orb’s halo. She takes a moment to crouch down and run her fingers through the red sand.
Where the hell are we? she asks herself. If this isn’t the metaplanes, is this a real place? Of course it’s real, but I mean, like, on Earth? She’s vaguely aware of red sand beaches across the globe, but she certainly doesn’t see any oceans at the moment. There’s the Red Desert in Wyoming, where she’s been many times, but that sand is only red if you catch it just right at sunrise or sunset. Plus she’s pretty sure she would have noticed an ominous black pyramid.
Al and Preston are talking about home, which feels a long way away from where they are now. ”I’ve been in Seattle about five years,” Ichante volunteers. ”Mostly Downtown. I did a job up in Redmond about four months ago which involved sewers and ghouls.” She looks around, the look on her face indicating some uncertainty about whether she preferred the red sand wasteland or the miasma of the Barrens sewers.February 4, 2019 at 2:45 pm #15666
Now that the team had found itself again, they noticed that this place had a very disconcerting geometry about it – the curvatur of this place was much, much stronger than anywhere on earth. And the closer they got to the pyramid the more they realized that it wasn’t so much terribly far away but instead just mostly hidden behind the curve of this place. Looking back they saw the portal as part of a obsidian ring that just sat there out in nowhere land.
The absolute blackness of the sky had given out and instead there were now a few red dots in the sky, like stars seen through a red lense. The temperature was well around freezing and breath began to fog.
Something about that was exceedingly eerie: Faces seemed to become visible for just an instant in the exhaled mist, while all that could be heard was the crunching sound of their footsteps.
By now the pyramide had become fully visible: A towering strukture, easily 30 m high, stepped as those of the Incas. Each landing was at least 2m high and at the top – barely visible against the black sky, a structure of poles with writhing figures could be made out – likely the Thornskate Thicket.February 4, 2019 at 4:10 pm #15668
“Seattle, you too? I’ve been based out of there for around the same time period. This sort of work, I’ve done some, been in and out of it.”
* Oleg: Al is just playing as being a dumb yokel, I don’t know what he really wants this information for.
* Eliza: We are going into danger together, bonding more strongly first is a natural instinct
* Coleman: And the stronger the bond, the safer I probably am with him.
* Eliza: He may also just be trying to distract me from the danger
“I got there in the first place for ‘work,’ but the job went bad, I lost my partner/mentor. I made closing that account personal, made bad decisions before I finished it.” Preston absently rubbed his left arm as he remembered those days. “Then they took away the matrix that I knew, and I didn’t have the tools or training to exploit the new matrix, nor enough resources left to get those. After that it took some years, and some friends I probably didn’t deserve, before I was really working again. But things have been better, and more interesting, the past few years.”
* Eliza: finding we have mutual contacts would help
* Oleg: If he ever wanted to come after me, knowing some of my contacts would give him an in on tracing me.
* Gamma: I have not been living my life in such an anonymous manner that I’d be that hard to find if he really wanted.
* Coleman: Still doesn’t hurt to be careful about which names I give him
* Gamma: We are approaching Ichante, so I can naturally cut off soon
“The city isn’t that big, no doubt we know some of the same people. Do you know the ‘banker’ Geneva? No. How about the fixer Korean Gordo? Or the person in the biz that I know best is Lady Marisart — Tanya”
* Oleg: Like Tanya would make acquaintances with someone like Al
* Gamma: I’ve seen Tanya treat almost everyone with respect and consideration
* Monkey: She’s quite democratic about eliminating people too, when she needs to.
Preston can’t keep a faint smile off of his lips at Tanya’s name, but he stops talking before he says anything more about her.
Not long after they made it to Ichante, and in response to her comment Preston added “The Redmond sewers are a pleasure I’ve missed so far. Although by the smell in much of Redmond, working sewers seem to be a pleasure that a fair part of that city is missing these days.”
And then they were out of distractions, and he had to look at the pyramid, and the sky above it. “I don’t like those stars. I don’t know anything about magic fairylands or whatever this is, but no stars wouldn’t surprise me, or different stars. But having a few starts that are red and tired looking, that feels like particularly dour.”
* Monkey: this doesn’t look fun, not fun at all.
February 4, 2019 at 5:11 pm #15670
- This reply was modified 1 week ago by Beta.
Al had never heard of anyone named Geneva. Korean Gordo he knew by reputation but had never met. But “Tanya? Hah! No shit? Crazy but comes off as posh? Rich but loves ta slum? Too much time on her hands? Tryin’ ta save the world without knowin’ anything about it? Yeah, she said her real name was Lady Marisart, an’ I’ll say this for her – heart’s inna right place, even if her head ain’t. An’ she can hold her own in a fight – all kinds o’ fights, actually.” He didn’t say anything about the work they’d done together, nor about her Song Ai persona, just in case Preston didn’t already know. He was busily congratulating himself on his consummate professionalism when Ichante chimed in about working in Seattle too.
He listened to the ensuing exchange. “Yeah, ghouls an’ sewers – that’s they way of it in most cities, an’ Seattle ain’t no exception. Though I done my CHUD-huntin’ down Puyallup way. Ain’t been ta Redmond much.”
Their conversation was a bold attempt, but grew quiet as they approached the base of the pyramid. They couldn’t ignore what lay before them any longer. And while Al maintained a facade of careless bravado, a keen observer would see a faint quiver in his scarred hands.
“Well, Presto baby, ol’ Al can’t claim ta be no expert on this hokum neither, but I noticed we ain’t changed none. Unfortunate instances I been…uh…elsewhere….seems I always turn blue or somethin’….most o’ my tools disappear or change ta match the venue. But here, ever’thin’ seems relative intact.” As if to underscore his point, as he spoke his hands were stringing all of his grenades together. Without looking down, he made one the master and slaved the rest to its timer – he doubted it was going to be that kind of a fight. But if it was, he’d want the biggest blast he could get.February 5, 2019 at 7:45 am #15678
[Morning, Thursday February 3rd, 2078; Maria’s Farm, Near San Angelo, CAS]
Jazz looked down at the hole that her fellow runners had disappeared down in to. There was no way Shere Kahn was going to fit down there and she honestly didn’t know what he would be able to do even if he could. That said she was seriously reluctant to venture in to the unknown without some fire power. Raksha and Rama scrabbled their way down, servo assisted claws finding some measure of purchase on the slippery edges of the pit and Jazz followed them less gracefully, sliding down in a small shower of mud and rain water.
Inside the impossible portal filled her with a deep sense of dread…but she could see Al and Preston and further ahead of them Becky and Ichante and she was determined that she wasn’t going to be the one to let down the team. She sent an instruction to Shere Kahn to watch their backs at the mouth of the pit and managed to get a message through to Mowgli telling him to protect Maria. Then, settling the rebreather down on her face and rather futilely shaking some of the water off her coat, she stepped in to hell flanked by her two wolf drones…Spoiler:
#51February 5, 2019 at 1:43 pm #15689
“Ugh, climbing that, with gear and all,” Preston thumped his duffle bag for emphasis, “looks like what a former instructor used to call ‘a humble workout,’ because usually it humbled even the most fit recruits. I hated those then, and I’ll have more trouble now — like I said before, the ratio of scar tissue to alveoli in my lungs isn’t quite what I’d like it to be. I can get up there, but I’m going to have to take my time if I don’t want to spend the next few hours wheezing.”
He dropped his duffel bag and looked through it. “Pry bar can maybe stay down here? Chainsaw might be worth taking up, just in case? Survival kit could wait down here?“February 5, 2019 at 3:16 pm #15692
The team had gathered at the base of the pyramide, feeling the cold of the black stone. It seemed that the red sand was all that kept this place from plunging right towards absolute zero.
By now a low pulse of barely perceptible noise could be heard like the steady beating of an incomprehensible large heart…February 5, 2019 at 5:15 pm #15695
Al stood at the base of the structure, sizing up the climb. No steps. Fifteen obsidian-smooth tiers. Two meters each. He could just reach the lip of the first one if he stood on his toes. But then there was a big black bowling ball hanging in its harness on his chest.
Hell of a lot of trouble to go through just to die a horrible death.
“Make a stirrup?” he asked the preternaturally strong Becky. “Once ya git us up, we can pull ya after us. An’ the goat.”February 5, 2019 at 5:30 pm #15696
* Oleg: The chill coming off that thing isn’t natural. I don’t like the feel of that at all
* Gamma: The cold will make the climb even more exhausting. There is a real chance that I won’t hold up to it well.
* Monkey: Maybe I should go guard the gate. From the other side. Where things aren’t so weird.
* Coleman: Assess the obstacle, then make plans — not the other way around. Time to assess how cold.
* Gamma: Survival kits don’t come with thermometers, so I don’t have calibrated means to measure the temperature.
* Oleg: I’m from Edmonton. I’m calibrated for measuring cold.
* Monkey: I’m not falling for the ‘stick your tongue to the flag pole, it tastes like candy!’ trick again.
* Gamma: If it is cold enough, even the moisture in skin could freeze to it
Preston knelt down, bringing his face close to the stone, blew a heavy breath at it, then observed how much it fogged onto or froze to the stone. Then he held his hand mere millimeters from the stone to feel how strong of a cold draft fell along the stone and how little heat was radiating from it.Spoiler:
Finally he touched the back of his cyber hand to the side of the stone.
February 6, 2019 at 2:53 pm #15707
- This reply was modified 1 week ago by Beta.
The stone frosted over, but the thin sheet was gone almost as quickly as it had formed in the dry air. The stone was uncomfortable to touch, but certainly not dangerous – unless you tried to take a nap on it. Still, a slight rumble went through the pyramide as Preston actually touched the stone, but subsided almost immediately again.February 6, 2019 at 3:08 pm #15710
Preston was a smart cookie. The last thing they needed was a bunch of freeze-burns climbing this thing, and checking showed foresight. Apparently the cold wouldn’t be an issue, but only now did they know that.
But the process sent another warning to Al’s mind. The way the stone shook at the man’s touch….” Al blew on his palm and pressed it against the ebony stone, holding it there to see what happened.
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