February 6, 2019 at 4:06 pm #15713
There was no more rumble, but Al now felt the low, steady beating more than he could hear it: The sound of an enormous heart, so vast, it’s beat could shake the massive shape of this pyramide.February 6, 2019 at 4:57 pm #15716
Al did not remove his hand, but leaned his forehead against the cool surface. He suddenly felt deeply tired. He’d been pushing hard for over twenty-four hours now, but that was nothing new. The heartbeat, though….it was beckoning him to just give up….his mind filled with the terror on Magical Mystery Isle, the enormity of That Which Had Sought Entry – not only its massive physical size but the limitless expanse of the malice it brought with it, and the infinitude of the army, the horde lying in slavering wait behind it.
The structure now was an open book to him. Its size was not ornamental but functional – it was just as big as it needed to be to house the Sleeper, gargantuan, and no longer fully inert. At the pyramid’s summit they would find the top open, with the spitted Watchers gazing down into Its resting place – those that were still on the job anyway.
“Peter an’ all the apostles. What the hell ya done cooked up here fer us, Shrikester baby?”February 7, 2019 at 8:54 am #15729
In the end, Preston kept everything in his duffle bag, but added it to the pile to be passed up, along with the goat.
* Gamma: I may be letting the fear of missing what is needed irrationally outweigh the known cost of carrying up extra weight.
* Coleman: Enough stalling, time to get up there.
With that decided, he nodded at Becky that he was ready, and once she’d laced her hands together he stepped in, and was boosted up so easily it felt like he was a child.
* Monkey: In this situation I can’t find that hot. It should be hot, but this place is breaking me.
* Eliza: Fear and depression, things I need to fight, in myself and in the others.
“ Nice lift! Like they say, take things one step at a time …“February 7, 2019 at 12:31 pm #15731
[Morning, Thursday February 3rd, 2078??; Pyramid Metaplane…?]
Jazz looked at the pyramid with some trepidation…the matrix, and more importantly the Resonance, felt very far away here…mostly what she gleaned from her connection to her friends around her and the mesh they formed. The stone sides were shear, and although Becky was bloody strong Jazz didn’t want to risk wearing her out by asking her to help Raksha and Rama to scale this impossible thing. Instead she asked them to back away a little so that they had a ballistic arc to the top of the pyramid. Hopefully their weapons would not be needed but this was the best they could achieve in any event and she drew some comfort in knowing they were watching their backs.
Shouldering her Kalashnikov she joined the line to get boosted on to the first step, wincing only a little on touching the cold stone…Spoiler:
#52February 7, 2019 at 3:39 pm #15736
The ascend was tiresome and somewhat painful: The cold seeped quickly into their bodies, sapping strength they desperately needed. The goat was still bleeding and seemed barely alive anymore. It didn’t help that no-one dared to actually touch it and it had to be handled awkwardly on the improvised stake.
It took over half an hour to rise the whole group to the second highest step. The feeling of an enormous thumping heart had increased with every tier they had ascended. By now they could see the nine spears quite clearly on top of the 4×4 m large plattform above.
They weren’t arrayed in a symetrical order but rather erratical.
And by now they also could make out the figures upon the spears: They all looked like people from a bizzare horror film: Only tatters of ancient withered cloth covered them, although their bodies looked whole and healthy – besides the golden spears that protruded from their butts keeping them aloft and seemed to have made their passage through their intestines up to the roof of their mouths. Cruel spikes at the base of the spears prevented their butts from descending further down. The figures moved weakly, always trying to move their heads, to reach for the stake. But the position made it impossible for them to gain any kind of leverage and the spotless gold seemed to have withstood the test of time rather well.
They all were positioned so that they had to look inward to the plattform. Someone had sown their eyelids up to their eyebrows, forcing them to keep their eyes open.
A subdued stench wafted around them, held at bay by the lack of moisture and the stillness of the air. Of the nine spears, three figures seemed to be lifeless and decaying.February 7, 2019 at 4:31 pm #15737
* Oleg: Of course there is a monster unaccounted for
* : AAAAAAAA
* Coleman: We don’t know where the third monster is, but that doesn’t mean that it is an immediate danger
Preston stared at the stakes for a long moment, wishing he could deny the evidence of his eyes. But finally he had to say it “Three missing their inner monster. One in the goat. One probably in whatever it was in Maria’s house. And one unaccounted for.”
* Oleg: Don’t look at Sam
* : AAAAAA don’t look at SAM!
* Eliza: To look at Sam is to accuse her
Preston couldn’t help it, his eyes slid around to look at Sam.February 7, 2019 at 4:57 pm #15738
Becky’s role in the climb was a bit of hard labor, but she was built for such work. Her chemical seal protected her from whatever drek the rest were breathing. She had a fresh air supply, at least for an hour or so. ”Sam, what happens when mr. Asshole dies? Does he have to choose a new host from the decaying bodies or what?” She had a creeping suspicion that since only three of the spirits were free it was Sam’s doing, her regenerative abilities were explained like that. Though she was not sure if Sam was a Shedim herself or not, her aura was not dual natured – so she must still be herself – right? Why did she need to free so many of them then?February 7, 2019 at 5:04 pm #15740
Al stood on the penultimate tier getting his breath back. The cold of the smooth black stone seeped up through the soles of his boots. He took in the scene as dispassionatly as he could, knowing he needed to keep his wits at all costs.
Preston spoke. It made Al wish they’d had some news from Jazz’s anthroform. And then Preston’s eyes said more than his words had. Al had wondered the same thing from the time the goat had put itself back together, and he’d remembered how Noir had healed her own legs. He’d seen healing witchery and he knew it took a heap lot of it to repair damage like that – and she’d been too weak to use her sorcery to get the block off of her.
Becky must have been thinking the same thing, but she didn’t say so. Not directly. But it spoke volumes that she questioned Noir as if the PI was an expert on these things.
For his own part, he didn’t join the hacker in looking at Noir. His rifle was loaded with wood pulp rounds. But his gut still told him Noir wasn’t a threat, even if…hell, if one of those things was in her, then it must have plans to live in her world – and there had to be a world left standing for that to happen.
Or, it was up t something. Why else come back to the site of millenia of torture, the place where the people around it might want to draft it into service again.
But – assuming this crazy suspicion was even true, was Noir – the real Noir – any longer even a player? Whatever stood there with them sure as hell had her personality. He didn’t know enough about these things to figure whether they could learn and mimic someone that well…..
Which raised another uncomfortable question in his mind…with one of those things in you, what was left of the consciousness of the host? Did it die? Was it asleep? Was it a co-pilot? Or was it a conscious passenger? Looking at the forms on the spears and trying to imagine a few thousand years and he could only hope the hosts were long dead.
But then what did that mean about the pale woman standing next to them?
And still, his gut told him she was on their side. Or, if not theirs, then the world’s.
The voodoo gods were far, very far. As was She.
“Time ta make the doughnuts,” he said. He moved over to Ichante, which had the added benefit of taking him a few steps away from Noir, and facing him towards her. “I’ll turn, an’ you use that witch sight ta guide me, princess,” he said.
They got to work. As Al slowly adjusted the key, trying to sense the fluctuations in the voodoo gods’ juice, he mused aloud. “So we’s here. Now what? We supposed ta git Billy Goat Gruff there back in one o’ the meat sticks there? Any idears on how ta do that? Becky, yer thinkin’ we let it die, then see where it goes? I were it, I wouldn’t be too cooperative about that. An’ would that be even enough if we’s missin’ the other two?”
He’d lived his whole life without much of a plan. And never really regretted it until now.February 7, 2019 at 5:36 pm #15742
Becky replies ”I am still struggling to comprehend how my Katana is not effective, but the broomstick is. I know very little about the arcane.”
February 7, 2019 at 5:40 pm #15744
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Gilga.
“Yeah, Presto baby tipped ta the wood thing,” Al replied, flexing his fingers as he felt some of the usual juice flowing again. “What’s the score, kemo sabe?” he asked the decker. “Vamps can’t grow back wounds made with wood. Leastways not while they’s still touchin’ it. These freaks like that at all?”February 7, 2019 at 9:25 pm #15747
Preston shrugged. “[Color=red]Stories from an archeologist. One of Tanya’s parties actually. Exciting stories to make potential donors feel they were part of a great adventure, I think, but I hoped the part about wood stopping possessed corpses was true. Glad it was. Good thing I listened. There was something about wood being dead but still have memories of life being anathema to things dead with no traces of life, but that just sounded like a guess to me.[/color]”
* Monkey: the archeologist was a red haired elf with clothes that happened to be tight in all the right places. Of course I paid her attention!
*Oleg: Tanya noticed, and teased me about it later. I should have more self control.
* Gamma: In this case, it was fortunate that I did not have greater self control on that occasion.
February 8, 2019 at 6:09 pm #15754
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Beta.
Al’s attention was mostly on Noir now, waiting to see if she offered Becky an answer about how to fix this mess, and wondering whether he’d believe what she said.
But he took time to mutter out of the corner of his mouth to Preston, “‘Things dead with no traces of life’? Sheee-it, creepy apocalypse talk an’ puttin’ itself back together ain’t exactly what I’d call no traces o’ life. Now them three up on the sticks, they got no signs o’ life. These others, they got entirely too much life in ’em, ya ask ol’ Al.”February 9, 2019 at 7:05 am #15760
Noir turned up the corners of her mouth in a mirthless smile: “When the host of a shadow spirit perishes, it is free to choose a new vessel within a certain amount of time, depending on it’s general strength. A spirit as strong as the one in the goat is likely able to survive quite a while in the astral before it is forced to take any available vessel or be forced back to it’s home plane. As long as the portal is open, they have a nearly unlimited choice. Trapped here there are only the spiked corpses. More important: They can’t leave again before their body perishes – unless they do possess a certain ability that allows them to body hop.
But don’t worry about it too much. I think I can fix this, we’ll just need to crest the last tier.”
With that, Noir pulled herself up over the lipp and stepped on the last dais.
“Ah, I thought so…” her words died in her throat and only a whisper escaped her. “No, no, no, that can’t be. They killed you, I saw it…”
The team could not see what was going on, but heard Noir suddenly sob…
February 9, 2019 at 10:54 am #15767
- This reply was modified 6 months ago by Jack_Spade.
“Son of a bitch…”
Al added some voodoo hexes and jumped high and hard. Even with the weight of the Orb, he got his elbows over the lip. The Orb on his chest was getting warmer – a fact he could not forget with it slammed into his sternum as his body hit the wall – but the juice from the voodoo gods was flowing freely. More importantly, out of the corner of his eye he spotted that big white Akita – gone as quickly as she’d appeared. If She was taking an interest, this had to be bad.
An instant after he got his elbows over the lip, he swung one boot over and then he was standing next to Noir….and oh what a view…February 9, 2019 at 2:17 pm #15772
Becky watches the interplay and follows Noir. She asks with an empathetic voice ”Sam?! Are you okay?”. She has a growing suspicion about the woman, but she did not seem hostile. This entire solution of suffering seemed way off to her, plain evil. ”Would a camera be sufficient to watch the Sleeper? Must we let these poor spirits suffer?February 9, 2019 at 5:10 pm #15773
* Monkry: What is going on? I want to see! I need to know what is going on.
* Gamma: No, I don’t need to. I went through this with Sonya — I want to feel in control, but I don’t need to.
* Oleg: I can die down here as easily as up there.
* Gamma: There is an issue that has not been addressed. Sam mentioned that the portal let’s those spirits out. Might let that big nasty out too.
“[Color=red] Ichante, do you know anything about shutting portals? Like if we wanted to lock the door behind us?[/color]“February 9, 2019 at 7:32 pm #15776
Al surveyed the scene in horror. He was trying to piece it all together when Becky bounded up after him. She tried reaching out to Noir, and started talking about cameras…
He stepped up to his friend and spoke quietly. “Cameras, Precious? We got six outta nine o’ these meat-sticks still onna job, an’ they ain’t gittin’ it done no more…..Anyhoo, she probably ain’t even hearin’ ya, Precious. Look at that girl she’s holdin’. Look at her face. That’s her daughter, killed a while back by dracs. How she’s here, an’ alive….”
Al’s first reaction was to assume the girl was some sort of witchery, a mirage, a trick by the freaks to throw Noir off her game. He was sure there was no way that could really be the girl, but he could usually see through these things, especially if he suspected…but having taken a hard look, he was now as sure she was real as he was sure she was impossible.
He called down to the other three. “Okay, we got the Sleeper here – it’s a fuckin’ toddler. Asleep, natch. Maybe four years old, he is.”
Why a toddler? Why not a baby? Or had it started out as a baby, before the Orb was moved?
“Apparently six o’ these things ain’t doin’ enough watchin’ ta git the job done. Thing’s blowin’ off juice like a magical freight train – one that’s goin’ faster by the minute. Magic Eight Ball here’s got the effects tamped down for us, but its overheatin’ quick. We gotta figure out how ta git things back the way they were, an’ do it lickety damned split. Hand us up that damned goat, fer starters.”
He squatted down to grab one end of the shish-kebab. Sure, it needed doing. But it wasn’t the key. Fact was, he was stalling, trying to figure out what to do. Trying to think how Shrike would have designed this thing.
But he wasn’t here. And Noir was. And he was more and more convinced one of those freaks was in her. How else would she know how to fix this crap? Why else would they be focusing their evil witchery on her with this damned Lazarus business? If they were going after her, then she was the threat to them.
“An’ one more thing. Noir’s dead kid’s up here. Only she ain’t dead no more.”February 10, 2019 at 2:16 am #15786
Becky replies to Al, ”Weaknesses of the heart, at least she is a real person”. Having no expert Becky decides to act to the best of her knowledge without thinking on it too much. She impels the goat on one of the golden spheres pushing the decaying body downward. ”Al, help me saw his eyelids, but careful… his touch has paralytic effects, so we stick to business. I survived grappling it so it is no instant, and the effects decay after a few minutes. Preston, I think that your cyberarm would not be affected by the magical ability. “
To the rest, she says ”We need two more assholes… There is one roaming the farmhouse, we’ve seen its claw marks, it is clearly not a goat body. Also, can some of us stay here to watch the sleeper and prevent it from waking up? or does it have to be an asshole?February 10, 2019 at 7:11 am #15788
Looking at the sleeper was harder than expected. The eye did not want to linger on the small form and it was a constant effort of will to keep one’s eye from blinking or tearing up alltogether. On the astral it was worse, as a torrent of raw mana flowed out from the form in all directions, it’s aura so brilliant and bright that more than a glimpse threatened to burn away your sanity. The cheap camera on Preston’s link had trouble too: After only a few seconds or so, the lense began to fog and the image became less and less clear.
On the plus side, now that a fresh bunch of eyes were upon the little form, the pressure seemed to diminish somewhat and the little one seemed bo be more along the lines of a three year old. Still, it was just so hard to keep looking at it’s form.
Noir was still whispering beneath her bubbling sobbs at ther appearant daughter, pressing her to herself like a drowning man would cling to a life ring.
Becky – in the process of desecrating one of the inert corpses felt a slight tap on her shoulder. The tap brought back memories to her time as the intimate servant of one of the mafia bosses. She turned around to stare into the face of her erstwhile master: “Now, now, come girl, you’ve done enough here. This is hardly going to accomplish anything. Let’s go home before something happens to you…” In his eyes she saw an affection that she had always wished he would display and genuine worry about her.February 10, 2019 at 9:16 am #15789
The face was clear, real, and Becky instantly feels her body fades into a more feminine and receptive state. She was conditioned to obey the person. She’ll kiss him right there, and leave this dangerous feat if only he’d really share his life with her. ”I spent my entire life pleasuring you in any way that I could… You always return to her, and every day that you chose Linda part of me dies a little bit. You are the only man I ever loved, the only man I ever knew. I am a free woman, but I am still so yours and I hate it. You are my poison, and I am yours.” Her heart pounded, and her eyes teared.
”Your wife is the one that got me, she understood my pain, and she was the one that showed me compassion.
You were never going to give me what I wanted… Your children are my age now, Mafiosi for their own right… and what am I?
I am nothing… I grow older and you will never give me a family of my own. Nobody will take care of me when I am old, I have no future – and no existence once you die. There is no future for us Roger… It breaks my heart to say that, to only understand it after twenty years together. Now get out of my mind, I will return if I survive and I will again give you anything that I am, and you will again stay with your family… Because family is everything and I am just an asset.”
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