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 Post subject: Re: The Perfects Return!
PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:59 pm 
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The Perfects - Story 3: Heist {part 7}

"Seriously. Amber. Does your mom trust you at all?"

V, Sammy, Vanessa, Erica, and Evelyn had left for their houses. Only Amber, Marie, and Helen remained.

"I just told you. I don't know. How was I to know my silver bracelet had a tracking device in it? I mean, she bought it for me after I switched schools, but I had no idea she was that concerned..."

She stopped talking. It felt like she was chattering with no purpose anyway.

Helen, like she was used to doing, took charge. "OK. Given what was recorded, and that your mom's obviously seen it by now, erasing the thing's memory won't work. Marie?"

"Let me see."

Taking the bracelet from Amber, she inspected it for a few seconds, then flipped over a secret compartment in the largest link. As she worked, she explained.

"OK. What I'm going to is throw in a module that'll make it appear as if the thing is... what'd you say...? glitching rather randomly. When your mom sees the tracker and you in two different places, it'll be rather obvious that something's up. If it gets detected and pulled out, or your Mom asks you about it, just shrug and say you have no idea—"

She moved a part into position. There was a click from inside the device.

"—how it got there."

"OK. Good luck," said Helen. "Use the earpiece to say if anything bad happens."

Then, opening the door, Helen motioned for Amber to leave, waving as she walked out.
Once she was gone, Marie turned to Helen Gamma.


"Chances?"

"About 60-40," Helen hazarded. "Depending how convincing Amber can be."

"I sure hope it's the 60, then," said Marie.

"You have no idea."

Helen didn't mention that her bedroom had been subtly repainted this morning from the color it had been last night. Jane had her own little subtle ways of communicating with her daughter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Amber got home, her mother was waiting for her. She looked rather stern.

"Amber," Amber's mom said, her voice a bit more halting than usual. "I just wanted to say that... I love you. And I never would want you to get hurt. But...."

She sat down in the nearest chair she could find, motioning for Amber to do likewise.

"Explain," she said. "Your friend's parents (what's her name? Nicole?) have already called me. I know you want to protect your friends, but I'm sure something happened that it would be better to talk about. It's okay. You can tell me. You're safe."

Amber took a deep breath. OK. How to play this? I could tell a lie, or the sarcastic truth... or both.

"Well. Last night, me and all my friends snuck over to the museum, robbed the place, and managed to sneak back in while carrying Nicole, and we're hiding the pirate treasure under Helen's bed."

Amber's mom gave Amber a funny look. After a few seconds she said, "Amber, I understand if you don't want to talk about it. Being kidnapped by a rogue Mad is never a nice experience."

Amber was fortunate in that her experiences with the Perfects had taught her to keep a straight face.
Whaaaaaa.......?!
Carefully, she began to speak.
"Uh... Mom. With all due respect. And knowing you as I do. What the heck are you talking about?!"


"I figured it out," answered Amber's mom, smiling in a strange manner. "It's obvious, really. Sometime last night, you were kidnapped out of your friend's house by a rogue Mad. That's the only sort of person who would do that, if you ask me. Anyway, this evildoer took you somewhere near the museum, and forced you to watch as he wrecked the place. Then—-"

Amber was having a very hard time keeping the straight face intact.
"Mom! I hate to disillusion you, but you're barking WAY up the wrong tree. What you saw was probably one of my friends fiddling with this." She indicated the bracelet, still around her wrist. "And Nicole— she fell down some stairs, Mom. We have stairs at our house! I just came up them!"
She trailed off, feeling as if the excuses sounded hollow. Would her mother believe her?

Amber's mom came beside her, hugging her.
"It's okay. It's okay," she said. "I know it must have been hard on you."

Guess not.

"I don't think you should stay too close to those girls, the Mads? It's nothing personal, you understand, but... all Mads are weirdness attractors. Just... those two. Helen, and the other girl. Marie Electra. For your own safety."

Hmmm. This would take some finesse. Sincere would probably work best here, Amber thought to herself.
Taking a deep breath, Amber looked her mom right in the eye.
"I understand," she said, her voice serious. "And I'll try. It's just.... not always that easy. Or simple. But I'll try to minimize it."

Carefully timing the pause, she took a deep breath.
"Just.... well, Mom........ trust me. I don't need to be tracked everywhere, like I was some sort of spy. I know you want me to be safe. I'll be safe.

I-I... promise."

Yeah, right, the more cynical part of Amber's mind said. You're getting good at lying, by the way.

What Amber said seemed to satisfy her mom. Giving Amber a kiss, Amber's mom got to her feet.

"Thanks, sweetie," she said. "I'm glad you'll take care of yourself— and that we had this little chat."

I'm glad you're not suspicious anymore, at least, Amber thought to herself.

~~~

When Amber was alone, she spoke into her earpiece.
"Crisis over. I think my Mom's been placated. Not that it matters, but your parents believe the excuses?"

"No trouble," replied Samantha.

"My mom seemed to swallow it, but then she's always a little distracted," answered Evelyn.

"I swear, your mom has something all-consuming on the brain. Perpetually," said Marie over the link. "It's almost like she's trying to build something, but can't figure out what to add next."

"Your point is?" said Evelyn.

"....never mind," said Marie. "Everyone else make it?"

"I don't want to talk about it," said V, her tone flat.

The microphone capability of Vanessa's earpiece was toggled on briefly, transmitting a snatch of a fatherly lecture on safety.

"My mom thought it was kinda sad, but didn't press for details," Erica replied.

Mentally counting up the members in her head, Amber said, "Well... I guess that's everybody? Except Nicole, obviously." And, of course, the Mads don't have to bother to explain, her mind noted enviously.


"Yeah," said Helen, over the hidden earpiece. "At least that's an energy bolt dodged. Anyway, me and Marie'll be over here in the park. We're trying to get back into the base now... c'mon over if you want!"

A chorus of voices.

"Gotcha."
"I'll try."
"Maybe."
"I wouldn't wish to miss this."


"It's ea—" "—You simply ha—" "—ay atten—" "—oung lady, are you tapping out Morse code?!"

"I'll bring the Amulet," said Amber. "I couldn't get there last night— anyway, I'll come as soon as I can."

~

By the time Amber arrived (her mom was still a little skittish about her leaving the house, insisting she take her cell phone and call her if necessary), Helen, Marie, and Erica had already made some progress. Samantha and V were standing some ways off to the side, watching.

"How goes it?" asked Amber, watching Helen and Erica tinker with some machinery recessed in the side wall of the 'shed', as Marie opened and closed the door.

"Not bad," Marie said. "We fixed the... well, let's just call it a blown fuse, but that's only the first part."

"Okay, shut the door for about ten seconds," Helen said. Marie did so, then opened it again. There was a flash and a puff of smoke, which left Marie and Amber covered in soot.

"See, that's why we're over here," said Samantha, smiling. Marie and Amber turned to her in unison, saying, "Sammy..."

While Helen fiddled with the machinery and Marie zapped her and Amber's outfits with a device that took them 60 seconds backwards in time, Erica explained what was going on.
"Basically, we're trying to get the door connected with the dimensional space known as Our Base. We've got sort of an anchor on the other end to shoot for, but it's kinda tricky—"

"—like threading a needle in the dark," said Helen. "Okay, try it again."

Amber took a large step off to the side this time. Unsurprisingly, it failed to work again.
Turning to V and Samantha, she said, "I brought it," pulling a bit of the gold chain away from her neck so the others could see the Amulet."

V smiled. "Well, you've got it. That's good."

Sammy nodded. "Yeah. Helen mentioned that she'd had an idea, regarding the whole 'again' thing. I hope it's—"

A muffled THUMP from the shed door cut off the conversation.
"We got it!" came Erica and Helen's triumphant yell. Marie was trying to get the soot off her clothing. Seeing that the newest batch was temporally independent, she resorted to the old-fashioned method of brushing it off.

Helen shut the door and reopened it. This time, there was no explosion, and the space beyond the door, instead of showing the inside of the shed, revealed what looked like a short, dark corridor with a point of light at the center.

Erica and Marie groaned. "I was afraid of this," Erica said. "The pocket dimension that our lair's in collapsed. Someone's going to have to jump into it to reset it."

"What does it involve?" V asked. She appeared to be thinking about something.

"Not too much," said Erica. "Someone has to make a run and jump towards it. Then, we have to wait, because there's a little time dilation involved. Once you get into the base, whoever-it-is'll have to switch on emergency power, then stick this key—"
She searched her pockets, and didn't seem to find what she was looking for.

"Over here," Helen said, holding up a complex, blunt metal key.

"—anyway," Erica said, "stick the key into the keyhole in the wall marked with a 4-D cube, and twist. Then everyone'll be able to get in normally, and we can get it working again.
Anyone interested?"

After a second or two of silence, Amber shrugged, mentally.
No one else wants the job... and it can't be TOO bad.
"I'll do it," she said.

The others were slightly surprised at the speed with which she decided.

"Okay," said Helen, tossing Amber the key. "We won't know when the door's working properly, so come back out when it's done."

"You've got a flashlight, right?" Samantha asked. When Amber shook her head, she tossed her one from her purse.

"Good luck," said Marie. "Just run at it when you're ready."

With that, Amber ran into the dark hallway, jumping at the spot of light—-

—and launched herself through the doorway into the Perfects' lair. All lights were out. Amber tripped over a chair as she came to a stop.

Picking herself up, Amber switched the flashlight on. It was the lair, all right. As complex (and slightly messy) as usual. Heading for the panel of controls with the label "Important Stuff" on top of them, Amber passed by several of the workspaces, containing everything from a pair of plastic sunglasses with tubes sticking out of them (Marie), to a prototype for wearable glitter for a vampire costume (Evelyn, along with Helen), to a replica of the Amulet Amber still carried (stuffed in a corner).

Once she reached the "Important Stuff" panel, Amber shone her flashlight on the panel. The emergency power controls were right at eye level. Amber pulled on the requisite lever for a time, then pushed the button next to it when it began to glow, just like the posted instructions said.

After a second, soft, dim white emergency lights began to glow. It was enough to see by, so that no one would trip over anything. Amber scanned the board with her flashlight. The keyhole with the 4-D cube icon was a bit lower down. Amber inserted the key she had been given, and turned it. It moved through three full rotations, then stopped.

The floor shook for a second, and for a few seconds after that, Amber got the feeling that space had somehow become larger. The cube icon blinked three times, then the keyhole spat the key out.
I guess that's it, thought Amber, and headed back the way she had come.

When Amber opened the exit door, it linked straight to the outside as usual. Amber stepped out.

Then, she stared.

The world around her had changed. This corner of the park had become a tiny alcove of grass green, in a landscape of chrome and steel. A futuristic skyline loomed large over a dusky sky, with flying traffic visible high up as a kind of dotted line. Ground level appeared uninhabited, save for the huge bottoms of buildings, and the occasional robot. No people were in sight.

A small, blinking device stood before Amber in the grass. As she watched, it activated, and a holographic image of Helen stood before her.

"Hi, Amber," Helen said. "It's been about 9 hours and you haven't come out yet. We've got to be at home, but me and the others'll cover for you until you get back. This message'll tell you where to find us and how long it's been since it was recorded. Glad to see you're back."

Helen's image winked out. A robotic-sounding voice iterated, "Right now, the author of this message {{is long dead}}. It has been {{494 years 216 days 19 hours 10 minutes 20 seconds}} since this message was created."

Then the device inactivated.

Amber looked around, face gradually gaining a horrified expression.

So this is what they meant, she thought to herself. And now... I'm trapped in the future!!


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 Post subject: Re: The Perfects Return!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 3:17 am 
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Location: Xyon City
The Perfects - Story 3: Heist {part 8}

Amber looked around once more at the futurescape she had somehow emerged onto. There were no people around, and the spaces between buildings were deserted (and utterly empty of anything but metal-substitute ground). The sun was in the process of going down, and the dusk-stained sky was rapidly becoming devoid of traffic. There was no sound, save the ever-present hum of the city, the swish of wind through the few remaining trees, and the occasional muffled giggle.

Wait... giggling?

Finally, Amber realized what was going on. Hissing in exasperation, she ran forward and jumped out of the illusion (narrowly missing Helen and Samantha, who were holding large, heavy-duty holoprojectors). Most of the other Perfects had arrived, and (except for V, who was fuming some ways away) were trying to stifle their laughter.

"One of these days, I'll have to do that to you, see how you like it," Amber said, glaring at Sammy and Helen.

"Sorry," said Samantha, trying to keep a straight face. "The devil made me do it."
"Likewise," said Helen. She was somewhat better at it.

"Anyway, it's back," said Amber.

"Great!" said Marie, clicking something on her watch. "You were gone for just over an hour and a half. Let's get in there, and start it up."
She moved close to Amber. "Oh, and you can help me work on a little... 'something' that should eventually make up for the thing just now," she murmured.

After rolling her eyes and making one final cutting remark, Amber followed the rest of the group inside.

~

"Okay. Let's figure out who's going where," said Helen. The Amulet was in the center of the table (Helen had just finished examining it, closely), and everyone else was standing around it.
"We'll need a team to pose as school reporters, and read the guards to see what new stuff is going on. While that's happening, another team should look around the museum to see for themselves. Does this sound OK so far?"

Nods.

"Okay. Amber obviously has to be on the newspaper team. Hmmm. Marie, Erica and me all know the most about technical stuff, so we'll explore the museum. That leaves V, Vanessa, Evelyn, and Sammy."

Evelyn spoke up. "May I go? I think having a better grasp of the museum would be a good thing."

Helen nodded. "All right then, you're with Amber. That's——"
She stopped, as she remembered something.
"Oh, yeah, right. Just to make sure, everyone's going in there with a full set of bugs. We'll need someone to sit back here and watch, too."

Helen turned to study the three remaining Perfects. V's face was blank (as usual). Vanessa looked back, cooly. Sammy grinned.
After a second, she shrugged.

"If it helps any, I'm skittish about going back, too.... let's just call tomorrow's outing 'better safe than sorry'."
Helen pointed at V.

"V. I'm really sorry about this, but you're.... kinda... noticeable when you're not blending into a crowd. Is it okay if you stay here?" she said.

V looked back at Helen.
"Under the circumstances, I think I'd be rather happy to."

"Oh, don't worry!" said Helen, brightly. "You do get to come along when we put it back."

Amber was pretty sure that, beneath her dark glasses, V rolled her eyes.
Helen looked at Vanessa and Sammy, and made a snap decision.
"O...kay then. Vanessa, you go with Evelyn and Amber. It's mercenary, but the guards are likely to be male."

Vanessa looked at Helen oddly.
"You're not suggesting...." she said.

Helen stared right back.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to not be suggesting. Why do you think most baristas are female? Because if they are, guys spend about 15% more at coffee shops. On average, anyway. Just imagine you're a reporter-secret-agent. Or something."

Vanessa flipped her blonde hair back, and let out a snort.
"Yeah. I don't suppose I get a grappling hook in a pen, or something?"

"No, sorry," said Helen.

"Okay," Vanessa said. "But you owe me one for this."

Helen turned to the last remaining person. Sammy.

"Okay. Sammy. You and V get to be planners.... sort of. Anyway, if you see anything through the monitors that might be a threat, or you hear it mentioned, or whatever, just write it down. Or let us know. You get it, right?"

"Right," said V.
"Yeah, got it!" said Samantha. "Oh, and next time," she shifted into a girl with sparkly skin and a blonde haircut and batted her eyes unmercifully, "can I come along on the distraction team?"

Seeing Samantha looking— and sounding— like someone from Dusk to Dawn, most of the other Perfects tried hard not to laugh. Most couldn't.
"Only if you don't go as that," Helen said finally, grinning. "Anyway, I think that's everything! Be sure to come here first tomorrow so we can bug each other."

She looked at Amber. "Have you ever worn a FOIST system before?"

Amber stepped back, obviously bewildered.
"Foist?"

"Fiber-Optic Image and Sound Transmission, or something like that," Helen explained. "It's just a cut above your basic hidden camera and microphone system thingie, that's all. Harder to detect, just in case the new security systems are paranoid. I'll explain it all tomorrow."

Amber nodded. Bugs in and of themselves were nothing new to her, not after the Angels incidents.
"Okay," she said.

After that, the meeting kinda broke up. People headed to the edges of the room to talk, or work on whatever project they had going at the moment. Amber headed over to Marie's station (carefully decorated in lime green, to contrast with her blue hair.)

"So what was this 'something' you mentioned?" she asked.

After looking around to check that everyone else was engrossed in what they were doing, Marie grinned, indicating the sunglasses.
"I'm trying to figure out how to modify these to squirt water. As a joke! Turnabout is fair play, right? Anyway, I'm kinda having trouble with the structural integrity—"

She demonstrated, pushing a button on a device hooked up to the whole assembly. Two seconds later, the workspace's force field came on, gradually thinning as shards of plastic slid down it onto the countertop.

Amber said, "Yeah, I kinda see the problem. I'm not exactly a techno-genius, but.... hmmm.... okay, here's one. Have you tried metal? It's stronger, and metal frames are more stylish anyway."

Marie looked at Amber for a second, then smacked herself lightly on the forehead.
"...why didn't I think of that...?" she muttered under her breath. Pulling up a set of fabrication tools from the back of the workstation, she got started reshaping a tiny metal tube to her liking.
"Thanks. This'll probably take a while. Anyway," she picked up the control gauntlet for a telecontrolled welding torch— the workstation's force field darkened and solidified— "do you think'll the whole 'second time' museum thing'll be that much trouble?"

"Last night, I talked to someone who glows and can float in the air," Amber said, in her driest voice. "I have no idea what we're going to be up against."

"Okay, point," said Marie Electra, somehow paying attention to Amber despite not taking her eyes from her work. "I think... well, I'd like to think that it won't be that much trouble. Helen muttered something about making sticky stuff, to incapacitate anything that comes alive. But, we'll find out what's up until tomorrow."

"Yeah," said Amber. "Say, have the Perfects done stuff like this before?"

Marie turned off the welding torch for a second. "Like this? Not... exactly, no. If you mean, like, sorta dodgy, but on a smaller scale.. sure!"

Sorta dodgy? Amber's mind couldn't help adding.

Amber sighed. "Oh. I was just thinking that it'll be a lot nicer when this is over and done with, and all we have to worry about is grinding the general population of the high school under our elegant heels again."

Marie restarted the torch, turning back in part to hide her expression.
"You're starting to sound like Gamma, you know that? Besides, we may have trouble with that, too. Depends on how fractious the Angels get."

Amber thought back to that day, with Kimberly's dancing in bliss. Things would probably get ugly, sooner or later. Very ugly.
To Marie, she said, "I'm sure it'll be fine."

Marie smiled. "Good! Yeah, you're probably right. Hee hee.... we'll cook up stuff that'll keep us ahead. And tactics. And rumors. And all that stuff, too."
A thought struck her. Amber intercepted it neatly and spoke up first.

"Um, that's in a month. Isn't that kind of a while to be thinking about costumes already?"

Marie (who had finished using the torch) turned and mock-glared at Amber. "It is not! Pretty much the entire school'll be at the Halloween party. Us. The Angels. All these cute guys..." She closed her eyes, thinking about guys for a second. Amber intercepted the thought again, raised one eyebrow at the type of guy who caught Marie's interest, and decided not to say anything.

"And we'll want to figure out about costumes. Now that the Angels exist, they'll try to upstage us, so we have to upstage them, and we need costumes that really suit us, and look good, and aren't just something you can buy out of the store, and it really, really pays to think a month in advance." Marie paused for breath.
"We probably should have started thinking about it two weeks ago, but..." she continued, trailing off as she caught sight of Amber's (rather comical) expression.

"Um... yeah. I'm kinda still thinking about the whole museum thing," Amber replied, after a second.

Marie Electra giggled. "It's okay. Once you've been here for a while, you'll master thinking about three things at once too!"

That line pretty much finished the conversation. Amber wandered over to
talk to V.

The meeting gradually subsided, people leaving in twos or threes as they had to be back at their parents' for dinner. Amber concentrated on the fall leaves as they rushed past her, while she walked back towards her house with V (V's house was farther away from the nearest lair outlet, and she'd have a longer journey). V recognized that Amber needed silence, and walked by her silently.
Amber's mind was flooded with questions.

What's going to happen with the museum? It can't be too much harder... can it? And even ignoring that, are the Angels really flattened? What Marie said seemed to imply they weren't going away that easily. I should be happy I have rivals.... right? I'm really not. I almost feel sick to my stomach. Almost. It'll turn out to be simple. Just a straightforward subtle power struggle between the forces of "good" and "evil".
And everything'll turn out well.

Right?


Neither the brilliant leaves, nor V, walking reliably beside her, had any answer.


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:07 pm 
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Wow, I forgot about doing updates!

But there's still updates left to do! Here's a neat story by Hawk. I'll let the story do the explaining, though. Enjoy!

Touch of the Warm Sun

Hi, my name is Touch of the Warm Sun. You may be wondering who I am. Well if Poor Deka dies, I will take her place. Isn't that exciting. Not that we want her to die mind you. I am the daughter of White Lilies Floating on Water and Calm Stillness of Stone. My older brother and I are part of a traveling circus group. That is right, I am part of the act. See after our parents died to disease when I was still young, we managed to sneak into the circus and convinced the manager to take us on. Now the entire circus is our family now.

My brother is now quite strong so he does the strong arm acts for the crowd. He also likes to show off his swordplay. Not a lot of finesse behind it but he is masterful at it. And me? I am the acrobat. I can do cartwheels on a length of rope. The manager does not set it very high off the ground due to the bulky equipment that it requires. Not that I mind. I also have been taking knife throwing lessons from Roaring Wind. He can throw two daggers at once blind folded and hit two separate targets, some of the time. He said if I get good enough, we can do acts together.

We do more then just entertain people though. Sometimes the Manager uses a few of his employees to do certain missions. Mainly stealing an important artifact. He keeps saying I am too inexperienced to do any of the real work so he places me on lookout on the few I do go on. I get bored being a lookout. Nothing to do except to wait and look around. My brother isn't very sneaky himself so he never goes in to do the dirty work himself. He gets stuck with lookout duty as well.

I think the Manager is looking for something because all the items he wants stolen looks old. Maybe even old enough to be from the first age. He always seem to be disappointed at the object we just swiped although he does his best not to show it. To not hurt our feelings I believe. I don't see where he keeps the stolen items either. I don't see them again after handing them over to him.

You are wondering about the Manager? I call him Manager to tease him a bit. He doesn't like being called that even though he technically is one. His name is Kirimoshimo, or Kiri for short. He looks old but he doesn't move like it. He is good with drawing a crowd and entertaining them with his words. I find myself lost in his words at times myself. I wonder how he does that.

And my brother? His name is Flight of Birds Overhead. I tease him about his name at times. Course he teases me about my name as well. He has mentioned that he wanted to be a Royal Guard. He is strong enough and skilled enough with the sword to make it. He can wield a Daiklave as if it weighed nothing. Not that he is super strong, but he knows how to move it around easily.

As for me? I don't know what I want to do besides the circus. They are family but I feel like I should do something a little more grand. I just don't know what it is yet. In the mean time I will entertain the crowd with my daring acrobatic moves.

_________________
We've learned a lot, but this still isn't going to be easy. But I don't think the elder star's confidence in us was misplaced. I know we can do this! We'll set things right! ...somehow.

"There is a fine line between a good King and a Despot. A King is best when His subjects barely realize that He exists. When His work is done and His will is fulfilled, they will say, 'We did it ourselves.'"
-Xin Yun


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 Post subject: Re: The Perfects Return!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:14 am 
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The Perfects - Story 3: Heist {part 9}

Monday

When Amber arrived at the lair (again, with V), everyone except Erica was there. Marie waved hi to Amber as the others greeted them.

"So, ready to get uncomfortably dressed up with fiber-optic cable criss-crossing your whole body?" Helen asked.

"Um...." said Amber.

"Don't worry, then," chimed in Marie, "because it isn't like that at all!"

V snickered.

"Seriously, though," said Helen, "Great job on the outfit. You look like a proper businesswoman. Or, y'know, reporter, too."

Amber checked her outfit in a long mirror laying in a corner. She was wearing her blue business suit jacket and skirt, with a white blouse slightly visible. Samantha had come up with a pair of matching low-heeled shoes from somewhere. Her hair was locked into a shoulder-length, business-like hairdo.

"Yeah," said Marie, coming over. She was holding a case about the size of a cell phone, with tentacles of thin, clear cable coming from it. She and Erica examined Amber's outfit.
"Hmm. This shouldn't be hard. I think we should be able to get by by just binding the whole thing into the jacket. Stiff fabric, so micing's going to be a little tricky, but nothing too bad."

Erica nodded, then asked, "Um... okay. We'll need your jacket there for a second."
When Amber handed it over, Marie and Erica went to work with the kind of speed only given with great practice, expertly placing the case in a secret pocket they stuck behind one of the jacket's real pockets, twining fiber-optic cable into seams, to emerge as barely visible glints. Afterwards, the two checked over the finished jacket, hiding any still-apparent cable points with a dulling spray.

"Okay. That's video," Erica said. "You're wired up for 4 directions. Sound is going to be a bit... different. Hold on."

While Erica readied what looked like two flat slabs of crystal, Marie peeled the backing off of an even thinner case, which stuck discreetly inside Amber's breast pocket. The two girls nodded.

"Okay. You're ready to go. The way it works is, FOIST is a passive data-collection system that takes in whatever, and stores in in these sort of crystal dataslab thingies," said Marie (Erica held up the crystal pieces). "It works by changing the structure of the slab, so you know how photo film is sensitive to light? These are sensitive to whatever's put into them."

Erica spoke up. "Okay. Once you put these two pieces into their slots," she indicated the camouflaged casings in Amber's jacket, "you're recording, and the meter's running in terms of how much time you have left. Don't ever pull 'em out, or that permanently stops it and you have to put in a new one. These should be good for..." she examined a symbol etched into the slabs, "...12 hours."

"Oh, and the other thing is," Marie added, "the outer surface of your breast pocket is now a microphone. So, don't touch it if you can help it, and be sure not to put anything into the pocket that clamps onto the outer surface, like a pen, or it'll ruin the recording."

With deft fingering, Erica slid the two crystals into their slots. They clicked into place. Then, she handed the jacket back to Amber. "Okay, try it on now."

Amber re-donned the jacket. It didn't feel any different, and she said so.

"Okay, good," Helen said over by the monitors. "Still seeking quantum-entanglement signal??... what did you say the ID was?"
"302E9DFBFA146B6D," said Marie.
"Oh, 6D. Got it."

Images began to appear on several of the monitors, and an equalizer meter below began to light up. Erica snapped a small clapboard in front of Amber, which was reflected on the displays.
"It's synchronized," said Helen.

"Okay! You're done!" said Marie. She and Erica turned over to Evelyn and Vanessa, who were watching the entire performance.

"Now for you two..."

Evelyn was wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of dress jeans. She was idly playing with a notepad and pen. After looking the combo over a few times, Helen and Erica set up a screen, and Erica and Marie bugged Evelyn's outfit behind it. The end result was the same. Invisible video and sound capture (albeit with Erica grumbling something about layers of clothing).

Vanessa's outfit was slightly less formal. A scoop-neck t-shirt and a mid-length skirt shouted "ordinary high-schooler", as well as showing off some skin. The digital camera hanging around her neck made her apparent purpose in the team clear. Once again, Marie and Erica did their work behind the screen.

When it was all over, Amber posed in front of the mirror, with Evelyn and Vanessa standing either side. None of the three could resist smiling.

"Team Investigative Reporters, ready to move out!" said Amber, cheerily.

"All right," Helen said. "We'll get ready and arrive a little while after you. If you see us in the museum, we are not anybody you are familiar with. Anything I've forgotten?"

"Nah," said Sammy, lounging in front of the monitors. "We'll be sure to rate any security they've got. On how hot the 'security' is, maybe...."
She smirked.

Vanessa couldn't let that one pass. "How do you know the security system'll be a guy, and not a bunch of wires and machines?"

"Simple!" Sammy said. "It's pretty much obligatory. It's almost a...." (she paused dramatically) "Law Of The Universe!"

Laughter and wisecracks. Amber's team took their leave.

~~~

Outside the doors of the museum, Evelyn had one piece of advice for the team.
"Remember," she said, "we're reporters. Our job is to find things out. We belong here! Just hold on to that thought."

"Uh... okay?" asked Amber.

"Seriously," said Evelyn. "It really helps. You think you're a reporter, you are. You think you're a flirt," she nodded at Vanessa slightly, "you are, so long as you can back it up."

"Hey!"

"And, you think you're a Perfect— then, you're that, too. Anyway... c'mon."

Amber took her place at the head of the group, and walked in.

~

The first thing that struck them was that the lobby had already been cleaned up. The scratched pillar was being patched (though it hadn't exactly sustained damage in the first place). The fragments of statue, chariot, and wolves were all gone. There were, indeed, no signs of the break-in visible. And, in the center display dais of the museum's atrium was—

All three girls stopped, looking up at the huge statue of the Hindu goddess Kali. The statue was seated, but all ten of its arms held a weapon of some kind or another.
It was lifeless.

"We have to tangle with that?" came Sammy's voice over the airwaves.

"What? What is it?" asked Helen. She had obviously left the lair, but had yet to reach the museum.

"Gi-normous Kali statue. Mythologically accurate, ten arms, each holding a weapon. Stone, of course," said V.

"Those stone wolves never looked so good," Vanessa muttered under her breath.

"You know, I think I may have come up with an alternate solution for this one," said Erica. "I'll explain once we're all back at the lair, OK?"

"Got it," said Vanessa, half to the link and half to the group. "I don't suppose they changed the location of the security office since we were last here?"

'They' had, as it turned out. After some basic searching, Amber and company finally found it, in an inaccessible back corner, with a reinforced door.
Amber knocked, readying herself to focus.

After several hard poundings, the door opened. The internal layout of the security room hadn't changed, and two guards were sitting at the desk; one young and mildly tough-looking, one older, looking vaguely British with a mustache and gray hair. Both turned to stare at the two girls, sizing them up.

"Can I, er... help you?" the young guard asked.

"Come on!" said Sammy over the link. "There's gotta be someone hotter than those two."

V's voice followed. "Shutupshutupshutup! Mind reading, remember? Concentration, remember?"

Amber smiled, launching into her spiel. "Hello! We're reporters, from our school's newspaper, the Pesta High School Weekly Herald."

Sammy's voice sounded in their ears again.
"Worst, newspaper name, EV—"
There followed a popping noise, as if a microphone had been switched off.

"We're writing an article on the robbery, for our 'Current Events' section, and we were wondering if we could interview you," Amber continued without pause.

The old guard still seemed a bit slow in adapting to the situation. The young one smiled, in a businesslike manner.
"All right. What would you like to know?"

Amber stepped aside, concentrating on the minds of the pair, as Evelyn began asking questions.

"Okay, we might as well get the simple stuff out of the way first. What exactly happened the night before last?"

Now, the young guard seemed preoccupied. The older guard filled in for him.
"The night before last, someone, or more likely multiple someones, broke into the museum, destroyed the ground level statue, trashed the second floor History exhibit, and stole the centerpiece of the special exhibit: the Amulet of Yendor."

As Evelyn was writing this down, Vanessa piped in in a (deliberately) teenage way. "Does this mean we won't be able to tour the History Exhibit during History Focus November?"

The younger guard interrupted in kind, groaning. "Uuuugh. Don't remind me. That place is sealed up so tight, not even one of the cybernetic cockroaches from the evolution exhibits could get out. The museum gets to do a truckload of repairs, and we have to figure out what happened."

Amber decided it might be interesting to see what they had uncovered so far.
"What did happen on the second floor?" she asked.

The younger guard began to say something, but the older guard silenced him with a look.
"Great chaos and disorder," was his summation of events. "The properties of many exhibits had been moved around, and a number had been vandalized."

"Those ones I shot with the e-crossbow," Erica said.
"If not others," Helen added.

"And... that's all?" asked Evelyn, carefully writing everything down. "No ideas what could have caused such devastation?"

The older guard smiled, in a grim way. "No."

Amber nodded at the other two. She'd gotten what she could there. Time to move on.
"Tell us about the theft of the Amulet," she said, looking the younger guard straight in the eye.

The younger guard leaned back and smiled, soaking in the attention.
"Okay. The Amulet was removed from its case sometime between 2 and 3 AM. The perpetrators evidently both entered and left the upper floor through the History exhibit on the second floor. No camera footage, and no other security devices were tripped, so we're pretty sure whoever it was has a good head for technology. The theft was discovered early the next morning.
At this point, we're still investigating; however, whoever stole the thing is certainly well-informed. The museum—"

The younger guard was stopped by a gray glare. He hastily changed his sentence to end with, "—exhibit was due to open soon."
However, Amber had heard the original ending to the guard's thought; the other's hadn't even needed that to guess it.
"—was due to get a security upgrade within the next few days."

Good. They had security systems on the brain already? Time to steer them into the right situation. Amber shot a look at Evelyn.
Evelyn, pen at the ready, asked.
"So, what do you— does the museum plan to do, to ensure that a disaster like this can never happen again?"

The younger guard didn't even get to open his mouth this time.
"I'm sorry," the older guard said, "but I can't divulge information about the current security measures of the museum." He gave a little smile. "Who knows who might read the article. Why, perhaps one of your fellow teenage girls is the robber!"

Amber thanked her lucky stars that Helen had insisted on a contingency plan for just such an occurrence. She started snickering, carefully appearing as if she was just avoiding cracking up. Evelyn smiled.
And Vanessa burst in, "As if. Most of us are too busy stealing boys' hearts, anyway."
"You mean, some of us," said Evelyn, shooting a 'disapproving' glance at Vanessa. Amber looked over and 'calmed them down' with a glance.

"Any-ways," she said, smiling, "while we're on the subject, do you have any idea what happened to the statue that was in the atrium? You mentioned it was destroyed?"

The rest of the interview passed in a blur of "chaff" questions, subtle mental scanning, and general amicability. When they were done with the interview, the group walked back out to the lobby, watching as Vanessa took pictures. Meanwhile, Amber was writing down everything she had read in the minds of the guards, before she forgot.

With their business completed, they walked out the door, ready to return to the lair.
So far, everything had gone very, very well.

~~

"...and did you see how the older guard looked at me? Blurgh."
"No, no, no, he was just doing his job. I read his head, remember? It's the young guy you'd want to watch out for. He was blurgh."
"Whatevah yah say, boss."

Amber thwapped Vanessa lightly with a rolled-up paper. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Does anyone have any idea where Helen is? They should be back by now."

Right after she finished speaking, the door emitted its usual series of opening clicks. Samantha looked up from the corner, where she was playing a video game on some device or another.
"And there we have it!" she said, mimicking the game's title character.

Helen, Marie, and Erica walked into the lair, carrying a bundle of museum pamphlets between them. Helen looked pleased with herself, but then, she always did. Erica and Marie appeared somewhat worried.

"Well, we've got good news and bad news," Helen said, laying her bundle on the table.

"Same here," said Amber, pointing at her notebook.

V spoke up. "As it happens, we did see a few things good and bad. It was a stroke of foresight that everyone was wired for four-directions video, by the way."

Sammy added, "We already debugged the news team, and put their video into the bin. You're next."

As Erica moved behind the folding screen, Amber set out what the 'reporters' had discovered.

"They don't have any idea who did it, which is the good news. The History exhibit is sealed off, too, so we don't have to undergo a repeat of what happened the last time."

She paused for a second, then delivered the punchline. "The bad news is that the security system just got ridiculous. 'Sealed off' now means hardened-air, and the sensor system is tracking heartbeats. It's decentralized, too... there's these 'nodules' that control local bits of the system. The good news is, I think this is your dad's," she gestured at Helen, "second-best security system, so it's still fallible."

Helen looked at Amber, as Erica stepped from behind the screen and Marie took her place. "Third-best, I'm guessing, actually. I know how to get through everything but the top three. Nothing can beat the top one, and the second one takes all sorts of specialized equipment which I don't think exists. Yet. I've always been kinda curious about the third one.... and I think we can get past it."

V looked at Helen Gamma in a funny way.
"Do you think he knows? About you and the security systems, that is."

Helen laughed. "Course. He knows everything about what's going on. Every so often, I wonder if this isn't his way of encouraging me."
She shrugged. "Or maybe this is all the museum thought was necessary. Who knows."

Amber looked at V. V met her eyes with a worried look... probably. It was hard to tell.
"Anyway," Amber continued, unpinning her business hairdo, "I heard of some really weird stuff. 'Timestop traps'... you enter one, you're stuck. That's it. I wrote the rest down."

She moved her notebook into the center of the table. By this time, Helen was behind the screen, so Marie explained what the exploration team had found.

"We toured the museum. You weren't kidding about the hardened air, either. The second floor's completely walled off."
Nods from the table.
"The thing is, we saw a fixture for a similar barrier around the fourth-floor exhibit. They've just about finished the exhibit— it looks pretty awesome. It's a faux-maze thing, in honor of the dungeon the thing was found in.
Anyway, you know how we went through History last time? Well, if they close off the main entrance of Floor 4, we've only got one option: the Mad Devices Exhibit on Floor 3.
Of course, the problem with this is, the museum'll be alive, and all that stuff'll be trying to kill us. And I know that at least some portion of it is capable. I believe Helen's mom donated a few of the pieces for the 'Covert' sub-exhibit, and I know my mom donated a few things of her own in other areas.
Hopefully, the fact that we're returning the Amulet'll fix that.
The good news... the layout's fairly simple. And we know what's coming."

Nods, and sounds of worried agreement.

Finally, it was V and Sammy's turn. "Okay. We saw a few things of interest. I take it everyone heard about the statue in the lobby?"
A chorus of 'yes'es.
"OK, good, but that's not what... the side cameras for you three," she gestured at Amber, Evelyn, and Vanessa, "picked up some papers on the wall of the security room. Instructions, basically."

Sammy pointed her video-game device at the screen as if it were a remote, and an image appeared, magnified.
"That's them. They should help a bit."

"That's about it for that team's footage," V said. "For you," she gestured to Erica, Helen, and Marie, "We got a map of the Floor 4 layout from your images, so that shouldn't be too much trouble."
She paused, as if contemplating whether to bring up an inconvenient piece of information.
"Oh, there was one other thing..."

With great care, V rewound the tape from Erica's side camera, just as the three were passing by the blocked entrance for Floor 2.

"I saw this."

She froze the frame. Caught there, for just one fraction of a second, the patterns of light and shadow on the wall had merged into a glowing Pi symbol; a symbol that, for some reason, made Sammy leap out of her corner, Erica turn white, and Amber suddenly feel lightheaded.

"It's.... probably nothing," said Helen, sounding more nervous than her words implied.
V closed the video. "Hopefully."

Amber shook off her dizziness.
"Well... we just have to get there, and put the thing back. If we move fast, hopefully we should be able to make it without too much danger."

Marie nodded, looking more seriously than usual.
"Everything'll be fine. I'm sure of it."

Helen turned to face the other girls.
"All right. Now, all that remains is to prepare. For our... anti-heist, if you will."

Everyone else in the room nodded, as the plans began to take shape.


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:48 pm 
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Mad Scientist Unbelievable
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Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:30 am
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Location: Burnsville
Jane Narbon wrote:
Professor Zobot wrote:
2. Write a story about a character from MSW stumbling into the Exalted Universe somehow, and what ensues.


And here it finally is, formatted for the board! I call it, "Fashion, or Jane Narbon in Yu-Shan".

JN

===================

Day 1 [written retroactively]

It all started when I did the wrong thing in my lab.
After the portaling experiment I was working on malfunctioned, I was sucked into my prototype and ended up flailing in somewhere zero-G that didn't kill me instantly for a while. Then, a flash of light and I ended up in a ginormous cavernous room with lots and lots of spiderwebs around the place. It kinda reminded me of the second time I went Mad... still, I'll describe what I actually felt when I landed.

I got up, and brushed the dust off of my clothes; and I took the time to look around. I was in an incredibly large dome that had many intercrossing protuberances and catwalk endings; the architecture was like something out of M.C. Escher. People were standing on ALL SIDES of the protruberances, most looking at the middle of the dome, where...

I looked up, and saw how I had made my entrance. The middle of the dome was a gigantic not-tangle of billions— no, scratch that, quintillions of silken threads, moving back and forth and intersection with each other under the careful shepherding of an uncountable number of metallic spiders as big as my torso. (The Mad part of me, stimulated by the dome, started trying to figure out ways to count them before I dismissed it.)

My entrance had missed the main concentration of fibers, and it didn't look like I had done much damage. Still, a dozen metal spiders were glaring at me.
Then, from behind, I heard the sounds of running feet. I turned around.
Half a dozen people, wearing robes of different colors in asian stylings, ran through an archway onto the very catwalk I was standing on. Several were holding extremely large swords. The rest had glows around them of a sort I recognized vaguely from the time I tried to experiment with alternate power sources for energy guns.

I looked around again. The 'spiders', irate, were still behind me. These people, irate, were in front.

I slowly raised my hands, in the universal gesture of "you got me". This would take some sorting out...


Day(?) 2

Wandering around. A whole lot of explaining has happened.

First things first. The portal apparently blew me to a dimension where— well, they call the area of the whole place "Creation". Where I fell into was an area known as the "Loom of Fate"; apparently, it's a big mapping device that plots everything going on in Creation. We, comparatively, are in "Yu-Shan", aka Heaven (no, I'm not being facetious; they call it Heaven as in the Chinese celestial concept.)

The thing is with the loom, it's also as-above-so-below, in that changing the Loom can affect Reality as is. It is, understandably, something of a secure installation. And I just dropped in.

The only reason I was able to get out of that, and not end up in a dreary dungeon of some sort, was that a goodly number of people, and just about every "spider" in the place, had witnessed my appearance and fall from the roof. I was kept where I was, on the end of the catwalk (I was content to stay there), with a stern admonition not to touch anything, while more people bustled around and examined the area. I was also interrogated on the spot.


After several hours of standing in place, they had done enough looking-around to guess that I wasn't out to do them harm, and least by showing up. I was searched, and a number of sharp objects had been removed from my person, as well as a few devices that I could have used offensively.

Once my unexplained appearance was resolved, there was the matter of my not showing up on the Loom. Normally, the only things that are supposed to do that are very eldritch and spooooky things, and there was quite an argument about what I was (by now, I was sitting down on the catwalk, because standing had become something of a pain.)

With the weapons I was carrying, everyone was generally suspicious; however, after determining that I had a general lack of an "Exaltation", and that I was human... well, the argument grew more frantic. Apparently, they'd figured out that I'd just dropped in here and didn't belong. This went on for some time, until finally the argument was settled by the appearance of an ENORMOUS (~10ft!!) metal spider, made of glittering... honestly, I don't know what she was made of, but it was beautiful.
The appearance of the giant spider shut everyone up. With careful assessment, she (something about her made me sure she was a 'she') looked at me for a few silent minutes, scanning me with multifaceted mechanical eyes. Then, she swung to the nearest wall, beginning to spin a short thread that she trailed along behind her, carefully navigating through the tangle to move the thread where she wanted it.
After a few minutes of directing the thread, she neatly clipped it at the end as she attached it to a far wall, then returned to where I was sitting, with a sort of shrug that seemed to say, "That's that done with."

At this point, my interlocutors looked at me. Then at the Loom. Then at the spider. Then at the strand that had been strung within the Loom. Then back to me again.

Finally, they booted me out of the building, saying, "Just don't come back in here ever again, will you?"

And so I was introduced to Yu-Shan.

~

The first things that will strike anyone who's fortunate enough to wind up in Yu-Shan is that the city is huge. I saw a map etched on the side of a building. If the scale was accurate, the city was measured in hundreds to thousands of miles; or, to put it another way, the entire place is one giant city.

To add to that, I've lost track of time. There's certainly something that determines whether it is daytime, with the sun out, twilight, with the moon, or night, with one or another color of stars glowing above. I do not know what it is, though.

Anyway, there I was. For all intents and purposes, I was {A} a know-nothing tourist, and {B} flat broke. Until I found out what sort of currency they used here, I was pretty much dead in the water.
As I was wandering through the crowds, half-considering pickpocketing somebody, a golden blur came through the groups of people at a high speed, ricocheted into me, and knocked me over. As I tried to get up, the golden figure jumped on me— it was about 3 feet long, and began... licking my face??

I pushed myself up a bit and looked at what had felled me. The creature now standing on top of me, making little sounds of excitement, was a lion cub, made out of some resiliant-looking golden metal. I carefully tried to push the 'little' fellow aside (he was heavier than he looked), and get up. However, by the time I had made it to my feet again, the cub's parents had turned up; two very large golden lions, made of the same metal, were standing protectively next to it. I didn't see a lioness anywhere.

The first lion sniffed me, carefully. It turned to the other, saying, "I can't smell Essence. At all. Not even a trace of god-smell, either."

"So?" said the other lion.

"We've got a real live mortal on our hands," said the first lion. "Mortal," it said to me, "where in Creation do you come from?"

Like I said, a know-nothing tourist.
I could only respond, "Creation? What's that?"

The two lions looked at each other, slowly. I knew that look. I was starting to formulate a reasonable guess that these lions were this place's police force, or some such.

"Mortal," the first lion said, slowly, "how did you get to the Heavenly City of Yu-Shan?"

"Well," I explained, gesturing back at the giant building housing the Loom, "first I appeared in thin air in the dome in there, and was surrounded by grouchy metal spiders and grouchy staff members. Then, there was the whole business about my not showing up on the Loom, but that was resolved when a gigantic metal spider," I gestured to indicate size, "showed up and spun a thread that I think was for me. And then they booted me out of there and told me to go away. And... that's up to where I am now."

Both lions looked at each other, while the lion cub frisked around me. Finally, the first one, very slowly, facepawed, muttering "I can't believe we still get all the crazies...."

The second lion took over while the first one was still mumbling. "This enormous spider," it said. "Describe it to me."

"Well, she was almost ten feet around," I said, gesturing, "and was inlaid with these different metals. There's the same gold as you, and this strange sort of silver, and...."

Once I had finished giving a full description of the giant spider I had met, the second lion turned to the first (who was still facepawing).
"I don't mean to upset your groaning session," it said, "but there's a chance— a miniscule chance, mind you, but a chance— that she might be telling the truth."

The first lion let out a growl/groan, and continued facepawing. The second lion explained, "I'm just going to nip along to the Most Perfect and see if anyone's seen a mortal woman mysteriously fall from the sky, all right?"

No response.

"All right then."

The second lion left, leaving me with the first one (and the cub, who was rubbing around my legs in a very catlike manner).
After about 5 minutes, the second lion came back, looking slightly awestruck.

"You're not going to believe this," it said.

The first lion had stopped facepawing, and was looking curiously at me when the second lion returned. Now it turned to the second lion, caught sight of its expression, and immediately started shaking its head, its metal mane going in all directions.

"No. No, I do not want to know."

The second lion chuckled, with a catlike grin. "They do indeed report a mortal woman falling from the sky. And, the description matches quite precisely.
Oh, and they mentioned that they kicked her out without any explanation, so 'would you kindly help her get her bearings?'"

The first lion shut its eyes, though it didn't facepaw again.
"Why do we always get the crazies....?" it muttered to itself.

~

The two lions took me off to a quiet alleyway, and explained quite a lot. The area I was in was Yu-Shan, a Heaven above Creation, but I think I mentioned that bit already.
Yu-Shan is home to an extremely large portion of the gods, and there's gods for just about everything around here. However, the really important ones are known as the 'Incarnae': There's The Unconquered Sun, Luna, and the 5 Maidens: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. I kept my wisecrack about Sailor Moon to myself.

Anyway, the reason that is important is the following: The gods play games. Not with the lives of men, they just play games. The "Games of Divinity". Whoever's winning is reflected in the sky. Sunny, and the Unconquered Sun's ahead; twilight with moon, it's Luna. Stars are for one of the Maidens. The lions suggested that if I actually wanted the time of day, that I look at the golden boat that skims its way across the sky every day.
When I expressed curiousity about the Games, the lions warned me that as a mere mortal, viewing the games would drive me mad. Maaaad. I decided not to tell them I was already mad. They were looking at me kinda funny already.
With that out of the way, I found out the nature of the local currency. The Heavenly economy runs on prayer! I'm not joking! Generalized prayers form into "Quintessence", and prayers directed at a specific god turn into "Ambrosia". Gods can then make Quintessence or Ambrosia into just about anything they want. Depending on their position in the hierarchy, gods and Exalted (a term I was then unfamiliar with) might well get a salary of one or the other, or both. Ambrosia is also turned into gold-foil-covered coins.

When the lions found out I didn't know what an Exalted was, both facepawed (the cub imitated them). They then told me a lot of history, about the Gods revolting and rising up against the Primordials, who came before them. Kinda reminds me of the whole business with the Greek gods and the Titans... anyway, an Exaltation is sort of a shard of demigodhood that picks strong, determined mortals down in Creation and... well... makes them heroic. Strong, and resilient, and powerful, and able to do magic-y stuff, and... heroic. There's no other real words to describe it, though Andrew would have mentioned something about being promoted to a protagonistic role.

There's several kinds of Exalted, and the ones who work in the Celestial bureaucracy are called Sidereals (this includes several of the entities who cornered me on the catwalk.)

Like the map I had seen said, Yu-Shan is huge, and walking is about the worst way to get around. Apparently, there's aerial vehicles for hire, and dragonboats in the city's silver canals are the way to travel. Unfortunately, as a mere mortal who can't afford all this stuff, I have to make do with praying for and riding clouds, which is still pretty incredible. The lions did explain that I should try not to disrupt or get too close to the vehicles of other gods; apparently, many have tempers.

Once I had called down a cloud for myself by dint of concentrating hard and wringing my hands, the lions explained that I had several options.

"Okay, I do not know how you got here, but as a mortal, you're going to have a hard time making it, and that goes double if you start out flat broke. You have a choice.

1. We give you directions to the Gates to Creation, and you pick one and walk through it. You start a new life, or whatever, and what you do after that is up to you.

2. We show you to a Quintessence fountain and allow you to take some, once. Then, you're on your own."

I thought for a moment. Yu-Shan... Creation... something told me that getting back to Xyon was an unlikely occurrence for now in both places. Still, up here, among the Gods, would be more interesting... more fun.

"I'll stay up here," I said.

And so began my adventure. My first goals were to get the usual; food, shelter, so forth. But there was something else that was nagging at me.

All the clothes I had seen were classical Asian styling: robes and so forth. There was something missing. Something big.

I wasn't sure if I could do this. I wasn't even sure if I could survive here, or if I'd end up walking out one of the great Gates the lions had told me about.
But, if it was at all possible, a certain 'mere mortal' was going to introduce Xyon fashions to Yu-Shan.
Look out, Heaven...


Day 5

Have been wandering the streets of Yu-Shan for some time. Discovered a few important facts which everybody failed to mention.
First off, the amount of Quintessence I was given is not much. Enough for a few days' worth of food, mainly. I've been sleeping on roofs in shadowy corners and hoping no one notices.
No one has, so far.
The second thing is, finding anything better— a job, a place to bunk down— is all sewed up. I don't usually use the term hidebound bureaucracy lightly, but Yu-Shan really is! I'm going to have to do some investigation to get anywhere, but this looks like a slow process.
The good news is, I should be able to find a way in somehow.
Third, most of the Mad stuff in my purse, the stuff that I brought with me, has mysteriously failed to work. I have no idea why— it just doesn't work. It looks like a few of the chemicals are still good, but I don't have great quantities of them— so, I'll have to save them for special occasions, at least until I can figure out what went wrong.
And finally... eavesdropping by cloud is a really bad idea.

I willed the platform into a dive, thankful that the clouds in Yu-Shan didn't let their passengers fall off them. The watchers who were chasing me (what were they? birds?) were good, but flying in chaos corkscrew dives will shake anyone off enough if you keep at it long enough.
I hadn't kept at it long enough.

Time for one final trick. As I zoomed close to some pagoda-esque building, I leaped off, holding on to the guttering, as I mentally made the cloud twirl off in a crazy spiral, then right itself and disintegrate as though I had become unable to control it (I dismissed it). The 'birds', zooming past, didn't notice me hanging on under the roof edge, and eventually turned back.

I hung there for a number of minutes, then prayed up another cloud and made an exit.

I have found out a few useful things in the past few days, eavesdropping getaways notwithstanding. Turns out not everyone here is a god or an Exalted.

Gods are a lot more corporeal in this dimension. They can walk among their mortal supplicants, etc., etc. The thing is, they can also father (or mother) children with mortals! Normally, this results in a kinda-mortal child with attributes of both the human parent and the god (so a fire god's kid might have a ruddy pallor and orange hair, or perhaps something of a temper), but it's not necessarily obvious. The Lions can apparently smell it on you, but not everyone— and there's a lot of gods in heaven. And I doubt it would be too much trouble for me to pretend to be one.

I think I've found my personal way into the system. Now, I just have to pick a god to use as a starting point, and navigate the favor webs of this place appropriately. Which is why I've been eavesdropping. And I think I have a good idea of what to look for.
I need to pick a god low enough in the hierarchy to be describable as 'disgruntled', but high enough so as not to be completely below notice. Then, I need only spin a bit of adventure for him or her. Enough for him/her to agree to provide an introduction for me to a job. After that, the rest's easy.

In a way, it's kinda like the classic-type 'surround' con games I've done back in Xyon. Control the information flow, and....

This is going to be fun.

Day 7

Finally found a god worthy of my talents. Uffaugh, otherwise known as the God of Being Put Upon. I think the best description for him would be "the busiest god you've never heard of". He gets enormous amounts of prayers (and thus Ambrosia— you wouldn't believe), but he has SO MUCH WORK that he's busy 24/24/366. (Gods don't need to sleep.) "Disgruntled" doesn't even begin to cover it.

Better yet, one of his godly tells is pretty easily replicable. The number of arms and the reminders scribbled on every square inch of skin— no, but I can match the exact shade of his green hair with a few pinches of my remaining chemicals. After that, the rest is just posture and attitude.

I hope this works.


Day 9

Finally got in. It took me a while to get past the small hedge-maze of paper that serves as his in-tray. A few runners come down here to deliver extra work, but most of it just appears to... appear. The good news is, as a visitor, I'll be noticed. I've got my story all worked out, and a cloth to hide my hair (for now).
Let's do this!

~

When I got in to see the guy, he was less than happy to see me. His greeting was as follows:
"Yes?"

"I bear a message for you," I said, trying to look serene.

"Oh, no, not another one," he said. "Just leave it on the table. Or the floor. Or a stack. Or something. Anywhere's fine."

So far, so good. Time for intrigue!
"It's not a paper message," I said, smiling slightly. "I am supposed to deliver it to Your Worship in person."

He said nothing, only waited for me to get on with it. He was slightly hard to read.

"The message is:
There is a small group of a few gods who believe it would be a blessing if the great, Heavenly city of Yu-Shan who share a faith in the way things used to be; namely, how, in the distant past, Heaven's bureaus worked much more smoothly, and things ran with perfection in symmetry and order. As things stand now, there are imbalances, and many entities (such as your eminent self) are overloaded support pillars in the great, vaulted temple building that is the city of Yu-Shan, while other entities who have many responsibilities have rapidly redistributed these, and bear no weight in and of themselves, even though they are intricately carved and painted. Er, the columns, that is, to extend a metaphor. As such, the group who sends this message believes its aims and intentions run in parallel, or at the very least, in similar directions, not unlike how the silver and gold canals of the Heavenly City feed into one another; they would like to extend an auspicious invitation in the direction of your esteemed person in the hopes that you will see eye to eye, or at least face to eye, with their selves of varied stature, such that all could help all achieve a common dream, vision, and goal."

Uffaugh looked at me suspiciously. "With all due respect, miss, please go back to your group of gods and tell them I'm busy. And their sales pitch needs work."

"They said you'd say that. In that case, I am to tell you the following message:
As a proof of our good faith, we offer to you as an administrative assistant, the bringer of this message; she is prepared to help in any way necessary. We have prepared an identity for her (namely, she will pose as your God-blooded daughter) to smooth the way for her to assist you."

I took off my scarf, revealing the hair I had dyed the same shade of green, and looked at him, still acting as though I was quoting the message.

"...what say you?"

"....I think you're a liar. But if you're willing to work for me, then I don't give half a damn. And tell Chejop or the Veils or whoever to stop letting their agents go to tacky drama plays. Fill out these forms in triplicate, and we'll see what we can do."

Day 10

Have installed myself in a back room of Uffaugh's office (though 'room' is only defined by the wall of papers surrounding it). I now have somewhere to sleep, and get to use a small amount of Uffaugh's Ambrosia after I pointed out that the gods can go without eating, but lesser entities are another matter. (Technically, any god can work the stuff, but not everybody's good at it. Or has the free time.)

With the Ambrosia, I've been buying food, and got myself a few alternate outfits as a one-off. The rest, however, is going into parts and materials.
I'm going to figure out why my Mad technology hasn't been working here, or die trying. Well, at least grow stale trying.

The work is mostly bureaucracy: forms in multiplus, prayers, documents about prayers, documents about documents about prayers— and its greatest challenge is the amount of it. Still, it's slightly comforting. It reminds me of M, a little. And Uffaugh reminds me of Xerox.
(Oddly enough, Xerox has his own extremely large prayer file here. I have no idea why.)
The work does have other benefits, too— reflected in the paperwork are little bits of information, scattered from all over. Nothing clear, mostly. But en masse, I might be able to pick up a few things about the politics of Heaven.
This actually could work out rather well.

Day 16

The project to get Mad technology working here has, so far, been unsuccessful. It's not like my Madness has been crippled— it still works. The only problem is, everything I make with it doesn't. I've examined the failures, and one of two things seems to be recurring. Either the whatever-it-is isn't able to draw from the power source I've set out for it, or, some part during the running of the machine (or chemical mix) doesn't work quite as it's supposed to, as if it needs one extra thing to bring it all together.

From references to the "five magical materials", I've learned that there's several materials which are unusually durable, useful... basically, magical. All sorts of artifacts are made out of these, or have a tiny bit of the stuff in them as a core. And they're not the only things.
Of the five, orichalcum basically looks like gold and acts like titanium. It is also the primary substance of the Celestial lions I met earlier. I have no idea where it comes from.
Moonsilver looks like silver. It's a bit more malleable and multipurpose, apparently. I think it's refined from moonlight, but I could be wrong.
Starmetal is basically supersteel. It's derived from meteoric iron from stars that fall in Creation, down there. It's pretty rare. I have yet to see any.
Jade is... well, it's not the jade I'm familiar with. Comes in different types, which seem to be color-coded to the old 'classical elements' dichotomy (fire = red, water = black, wind = blue, so on). Apparently, talented gods can turn Ambrosia into this on about a 1:1 ratio. As such, there is a lot of it here. Unfortunately, mortals and such still (it appears) have to pay through the nose.
Finally, there's soulsteel. No one seems to want to mention it much, and when they do, it's usually in connection with the same kind of nasties who don't show up on the Loom in the first place.

I have access to just about none of these, except probably jade. For now, I think the mundane stuff will have to do (though I suspect I might get better results if I could use magical materials...)

The other question is of a power source. Electricity— the old reliable— behaves rather unpredictably here, and most other workarounds have failed. I did find out one intriguing bit of information, however. Apparently gods and Exalted can do "Charms" that they've learned, which sound suspiciously like magic spells to me. I haven't looked into what powers them, but maybe if I could find out what it is, I could get ideas of what could drive my own creations.

Have to get back to filing. There's always filing here.

Day 27

I'VE CRACKED IT!

The answer is: Essence. Essence is the perfect source of energy, of power, for my creations.
The only tricky part is getting access to some.

Let me start this again.
By a random chance, I discovered an old tome dealing with Essence and whatnot while delivering a message for Uffaugh. Essence is... every God and Exalted has it. Exactly what it is, I don't know. But it serves as a source of power on par with nuclear reactions, or with the inner fires of the sun. It's almost an unlimited source of energy— and users get it back after they've spent it. It's even used to power most artifacts (there's a process called 'commitment' where artifacts are 'plugged in' to an amount of the user's Essence, the portion of which is then unusable). The only downside is that Essence is so powerful that most everything that's not a magical material won't be able to stand the strain over time, and tends to disintegrate.

The primary problem I have is getting Essence. I am not an Essence user, and convincing other gods to give over motes of Essence may be tricky.

Still, now I know what I need. The only tough part is getting them. I guess I'll need to save up my stipend for the materials, and for the Essence... I'll figure something out.

I'm baaaaaaaack.

Day 34

I've figured out how to store Essence. If my calculations are right, a small, solid jade block with an orichalcum core should be able to hold Essence cleanly, and release it in a semi-long-term manner, though I've yet to have anything to slot it into. I've been saving Ambrosia for days (weeks, actually), and I think I have enough to get this made. I'll have it made up soon.

Filing never ends here. I've gotten kinda used to it, though... and there's sometimes tantalizing hints that make up for it. Apparently, the Sidereals Exalted are divided into mostly two factions, though officially they're the model of peace and harmony (hah!) The factions are divided in their opinion of what to do with the Solar Exalted— but I can't find any information on them, or the nature of the difference of opinion! [sigh] The squabble reminds me of some of the more fractious Mads, back in Xyon.
...
I miss Xyon. Someday, once I've fulfilled my destiny as a boutique owner, I'm going to see if I can craft up a portal back.

~

When I went out to buy food, I took a detour and got my design made. I was able to get the artisan to charge it with a few motes of Essence for an extra fee. If this works, the thing won't bleed out Essence while I save up for my next item, and the idea came to me just last night: a Glorious Machine of Fabrication. (See, I'm starting to adapt their naming conventions.) Sort of a big metal box, inlaid with magical materials for reinforcement. Quintessence or Ambrosia goes in one end, manufactured goods come out. At least, that would be the idea. I'm not sure how it would handle incorporating magical materials, but we can cross that bridge when we arrive at it.

I guess the next thing I need is time. I think that me and Uffaugh, working in concert, might actually be able to clear up his backlog. I'll put this journal down for a while, and get busy. It might take a looong time, work-wise, but... he deserves a break.
To work.

[the obverse page is blank]

~~~~~~~~

Day 148

Just rediscovered this journal - it seems I had let it get buried under a stack of papers. With my help, Uffaugh's been gradually able to deconstruct the labyrinth in the waiting-room of his office. He's even started looking happy, occasionally.

On my end, I've been hallucinating designs, when I've slept. I've almost got enough Ambrosia saved up to buy the requisite materials (or have them made) to construct the fabrication machine, and I've been getting ideas. The most recent was the most important.

I realized a while ago that I can't run a clothing store and work here at the same time. So, when I leave here, Uffaugh'll need another assistant. It took me a while to get an idea of what such a thing would look like; in the end, I think my subconscious modeled half on a bird, and half on one of the metal spiders that tends the Loom. It should even be better at the job than I am.

Uffaugh's calling. Got to go.

Day 151

The machine is complete!
Finally. This is a major step up. Now, I can make things, without having to pay half again as much Ambrosia to the gods in the Street of Makers (which are rather nice, but they charge steeply). I'll still have to save up for magical materials, and for Essence charges, but I'm in business! I already fed a tiny bit of Ambrosia into the thing, and it output the entirety of the non-magicalmaterial parts for the assistant design. I've got the design set up to use very little in the way of magical materials, so I should be able to have the finished assistant done in a couple of days.

Soon, the time will be right for me to strike out on my own. And, I've learned enough about Yu-Shan localized politics to have a good idea how to get what I need to set up my dream storefront. Hopefully, I can get a space canal-side!

I feel like I'm making progress. And it's a good feeling.

Day 157

The past few days, I've been preparing. I picked out a nice empty building. It indeed is canal-side, in a relatively upscale neighborhood, and I know enough about the local government to figure out how to get it. It's simple, actually. I've already sent a request for a permit to the requisite god, at the same time as another god asks him for a favor (my permit), an event which I set up through a long chain of deals, set in motion by a small bribe to the Goddess of Knives and Cutlery and some name-dropping to the God of Supine Motion.
I got the components for the assistant made yesterday, and today I'm going to assemble the thing. I'll introduce it, and let Uffaugh get used to it, in lieu of me.
Finally, there's one last thing I have to do: save up Ambrosia, so I can decorate the new store. I'll need beautiful furnishings... but also, outfits for my new career: saleswoman.

~

Assembled Uffaugh's new assistant. With an Essence battery, it runs flawlessly, and the starmetal neural net (you don't want to know how much it cost, even for the tiny amouny of the stuff it uses) should help it learn things very fast. I'll keep it inactive until I'm ready to leave.

Day 171

Explaining was harder than it looked at first glance.
"Um, Uffaugh," I said, "I... well, I made you this. It's an assistant for you. It should do the same sorts of things I help you with now.
And... um... well... I made it because... I'm going to have to leave soon. I'm sorry, but...."
I held out the assistant, slotting the battery in place. It began to float above Uffaugh's desktop, ready for instructions.
"...I'm going to be leaving in a day or two, and... I didn't, I mean, I don't want to leave you bereft of..."

I gave in and hugged the god (who really wasn't expecting it). I'd miss him. He'd grown familiar, after a while. I think one pair of arms hugged me back.

Once I pulled back, Uffaugh was silent for a long moment. Then, he said with a smile, "If it explodes, I'm going to curse you."

I smiled at the remark. Was that humor?
"Don't worry. It just needs to have a dozen motes pumped into the Essence battery— that's that bit, there— every few months when it stops floating."

Uffaugh nodded, then got back to filing, as he started to instruct his new assistant what to do.
I went into the 'back room' and started to get my stuff together.

I slept in Uffaugh's office that 'night'; the next 'morning', I left, carrying my belongings and the pieces of the fabrication machine over to my new storefront / residence.

The next step: moving in.

~

I've got the room setup worked out. There's a large front room, which'll be the sales floor. From there, the building sort of divides into two parts, with a mid-size introductory room, branching off to a set of spaces. I'll put the machine, and my living quarters, in one of the parts. It's certainly big enough (I've found that almost every building in Yu-Shan is heavenly, or palatial, or just large with lots of dramatic arching).
I don't know what I'll do with the second half of the building. Rent it out, maybe?
For now, though, it's getting a sturdy locked door instead.

~

I've just finished setting the machine up, and bolting it to the floor. The core fabrication box was almost too big to carry; if I hadn't taken off the ingredients hoppers, removed the heavy-duty Essence batteries, etc., the whole thing would have been impossible to move. I reinstalled them once it was all in place.

Once I finished placing the final touches, I slotted in the battery again, and watched as the machine awoke with a hum. It was almost beautiful, in a way; from the prayerstuff intake tray with precision slicer and Quintessence-impermanence warning light, to the magical material input hopper, to the output window, everything was in place, and glowed in the light from the sun and moon (the Unconquered Sun and Luna had evidently tied). A stack of empty Essence batteries lay off to the side (the only charged one I had was half-full), and the metal plate that I could press my hands to to control the fabrication process stuck out invitingly on the front of the machine.

I'm going to enjoy my new career.

~

Finished decorating my 'apartment' in back of the building. This wasn't hard. The entirety of my furnishings at present are 1 bedroll. I'm saving most of my remaining Ambrosia for decorating the shop and making things for clients— I've got the machine making draperies and parts for tables now.

Uh-oh, there goes the completion bell.

~

Bluuuuuh. I'm glad the day's almost over. I'm tired. Still, the shop looks a lot better.

It's a bit sparsely furnished, but the basics are there: sales podium (a counter was too big for the machine), a few tables of buy-immediately trifles, several mannequins displaying the styles as they were when I left Xyon, as well as a few in popular styles of Yu-Shan (the mannequins are all in my size; this simplifies things should I want to model one of the display outfits), a sign to hang outside the door.... and me. I've recolored my hair (decided on blue, this time), I've practiced with a measuring tape, and I'm ready.

Time for me to join the ranks of Yu-Shan's artisans. Fame, fortune, and success, here I come!


Day 173

Have discovered something about sales: people won't buy from you if they don't know you exist. So far, I've had a few walk-ins (mostly Quintessence sales, too— sigh), but as for being on the verge of introducing new fashions, I am proverbially dead in the water.
I need some way to get known, to get the word out. To advertise, in short. But how?


Day 178

Still nothing. I'm getting a few customers, also still mostly walk-ins. It doesn't exactly pay much, but I'll be at least able to live on it. I'm guessing word will spread of my store, especially as the fashions are for the most part new— still, I'd like to be able to introduce Xyon styles to Yu-Shan before my hair becomes white without me having to dye it.
Something tells me flyers and posters are out of the question, and I really can't afford anything more substantial, advertising-wise.
I guess my only option is to wait for a lucky break.

Day 180

Heard strange sounds up on the roof earlier today. Wary of burglars— or worse— I climbed up there, ready for anything. Instead of a cadre of villainous thieves, I discovered a single Exalted, reading a book and doodling a beetle sign on my roof with chalk. Some secret society thing.
I invited him into the store for tea and cakes. It seems his name is Baoshi. He's rather nice. Reminds me kinda of Andrew...

I don't know what possessed me to offer him a mint. Maybe I was bored; I like to think I knew what would happen. Nonetheless, he accepted the mint, then promptly fell over from both surprise and balance issues.

I say 'balance issues', because in female form, Baoshi has an extraordinary figure. And that's putting it mildly. Once s/he had adjusted, I knew what I had to do. This was my chance.
"How would you like to advertise for my humble shop?" I asked.

"What do you mean?" s/he said, looking at me skeptically.

"Simple!" I said. "I make up clothes for you. You'd look great in one of these," I held up a dress and corset, "and all I ask is that you... wear them somewhere public. Walk around. Be visible. And, if anyone asks, tell them where you got them. You get paid in more custom-designed clothing (whatever you like, for whatever gender you prefer).

What do you say?"

After being assured that I could turn her male once more, Baoshi accepted.
"All right, then... 30 minutes, and 15 minutes at the outside table at the tea shop."

"Deal." I smiled.

After Baoshi had finished trying to balance books on her new cleavage, I sent her on her way. If I can, I'll try to employ him/her twice a week.
I think I've finally cracked the problem of getting known!

Day 184

I think my new advertising has paid off. It's only something I noticed by counting, but sales have begun to pick up a bit.
Turns out Baoshi has a partner Exalted. I met her the other day— her name's Mei. She's sort of ingenue-ish, but something about her reminds me of... well, me. She's good-looking, too, so I made her the same offer— and she agreed! This is working out splendidly!

Baoshi comes again today, and I had a brilliant idea after seeing him.../her... in a corset a few days ago. It's pretty simple. A cloth band that fits snugly below the bust (under your clothes), with a sort of pouch in front. Mess with the pouch to give bigger-inside-than-outside storage, and hey presto! Whenever you want to access your money (or whatever), you just reach in... well, I don't need to spell it out. Not in a diary. Maybe on the promotional materials.

I'll show the prototype to him and see what he thinks.
~~

Baoshi was actually rather intrigued by the money 'belt'. He gave me a business card. Turns out, his aunt, somewhere in Creation, has a high-class house of courtesans. As he explained about his aunt's "refreshment garden":
"Her staff— the ladies. And some boys... I asked about that once, but Tensile Stregth of the Bamboo Grove had his mouth covered by Prowess of the Lion. And Auntie mostly laughed."
He gave me their card. It shows an elegant lady under a tree... well, until you turn it. Then it shows something... else. Charming, really.

In any case, he said his aunt would be interested in my new device, for advertising— and he promises to pass the word along. He also mentioned that Mr. Tensile Strength (that name's certainly shameless) might like a male version, so I should be prepared.

I think I'm getting somewhere.

Day [b]Night 184[/b]

Sat bolt upright in bed just now, and had to write this down. I can't believe this never occurred to me before.

Why do you have to have your front accessible to get into your inventory storage? If you could collapse the outside footprint of the thing to be flat, you could wear it under your clothes and have it Essence-set-up somehow so that you could just bring objects into your hand with a gesture. Or a word. Or a thought....

You know, there's a lot of possible uses for this. And not all of them (let's face it) are aboveboard. You could do all sorts of intrigue-y things with it....

I'm-a going to try and make one tomorrow.

Day 185

Had a good day today. I worked on the new version of the money belt— it looks like it might take a bit more in terms of design than the sort of thing I've made so far. Still, that's not the source of the 'good' for today.

I got my first Ambrosia sale!!!
It was from a god (I didn't recognize the name... Burnished Claw or something or other), and he claimed he "wanted to try something new". And he ordered like, half-a-wardrobe full!
He'll surely wear the clothes to best advantage; he takes the appearance of an extraordinarily handsome man - with a... well, let me explain this one from the beginning.

When Burnished Claw entered my shop, he had a pet of some kind on his shoulder. The whatever-it-was took the form of a small, semi-transparent red blob. Every so often, it made a little sound, like "nom?"

After I had made the clothes for Mr Claw (he was quite impressed by the turnaround time), he picked up a square of leftover cloth that was lying around (I had been testing generating new fabrics), and sort of... tied it... oddly. As he smiled faintly, the finished project came to life: a miniscule bird of prey of some sort, made out of the tied cloth. The bird promptly flapped to him and landed upon his shoulder, using the red blob as a footstool.

The blob didn't like this at all. As it slid around, making angry "nom!" noises, the bird held on, until finally the blob slid out and onto the other shoulder, leaving the bird to fall over. The god regarded to the two creatures with an amused expression, then gently removed the bird and handed it to me.

"For you," he said.

So now, I have a cloth bird, a large pile of Ambrosia (I was able to charge my "exclusive fashion" prices), and the warm and fuzzy feeling that things are only going to get better.

Day 192

It's now been a week since my last entry. Sales have picked up a bit. Unsurprisingly, huge purchases like Burnished Talon's (that's his proper name) are rare, but I have had a few lesser gods of note come into the shop and inquire. I'm pretty sure Baoshi's advertising has been helping, too.

I've named the cloth bird Socks, because I couldn't think of another cloth-related name, and because he does look fuzzy from a distance. Still, he (?) seems to like the name. I have yet to see him eat anything, but he's nice to have around. He does draw glances from customers.

I just finished the new money belt yesterday, and I'm testing it out today. It's really useful to have pens and so on handy at a moment's notice. It's obvious that no one's noticed that I have it on.
I told Mei about it yesterday. She said she might have a few ideas for people who could make good use of it...
That gave me another idea. If my new invention could be used nefariously... why not go with it? There's got to be some sort of demand for the sort of thing I used back in Xyon - ways to hide things, covert recording devices, chemical concoctions, ways to send secret messages.... I could run a nice side business in the part of the building that I'm not using.
Clothes in front, sneaky stuff behind closed doors.

Honestly, it sounds perfect.

Day 196

Still no response back on the sneaky stuff yet. Clothes sales are still rising, slowly— not the utterly slow grind of before, but a slow, steady greater amount of traffic.

I've been furnishing the second part of the building with shelves and so on, as well as making devices. When someone comes in, I'll be ready. I've even started crafting chemicals again: enthralling perfumes, sedatives, and so on. To make them work here, I have to pump in a mote of essence at the very end. Otherwise, it's just the same as making 'em in Xyon.

In some ways, making sneaky devices is actually easier here, because once you attune to your whatever-it-is, you've basically got silent, undetectable mental control over your device if the thing's made right. (And, when augmented with the whole 'Essence battery' idea I cooked up, even mortals like me can use these gadgets. Apparently it's something of a concern.)
This whole business... business is rather fun.
I still miss Xyon City, but it can wait. Maybe, when I go back, I'll be able to set up the portal so it's only been a minute for each day I've passed here, or something like that....

An-y-way, back to work. So many fun plans in the here and now to take care of!

Day 199

Just discovered one of the downsides of business ownership today: I was robbed. Or, at least, someone tried to.
During the later part of the day, two entities dressed all in black, and carrying very sharp and very large swords walked in, and demanded a large quantity of Ambrosia. I let them get close; then, I acted. The first one got a foot to the gut, and then a small fury of blows drenched on him. He flailed (I don't think he knew how to use the sword properly), and I was able to knock him over.

What happened to the second one deserves mention. I had moved away from him, taking on the first one. When I turned back, the second one was on the floor, with Socks flapping victoriously and digging cloth claws into the second one's back.
Socks has officially earned his keep.

~

A short time later, two Celestial Lions showed up— and guess who it was, and who was with them! It was the same two lions who had met me on my first day in Yu-Shan. The cub was there, small and adorable as ever.
Once the lions had safely draged the unconscious robbers outside, they turned to me.
"Well," the first one said. "I never expected you to become a shopkeeper, but congratulations."
"Your hair looks rather nice when it's blue," said the second lion.
The cub merely came up to me and licked my palm.
"Oh, yes... where was it?" said the second lion, fishing around somewhere I couldn't see. Finally, it dragged out a very small orichalcum gong.
"We've been having trouble with a rash of thefts in this area," the first lion explained. "If you have any more trouble, just hit the gong hard and with purpose. It'll bring us right here."

I gratefully accepted the gong. What happened next was something I don't think happens often.
As I was chatting with the lions a bit about my business, Baoshi and Mei entered the store (I was paying them today). The lion cub gamboled playfully over to them, bounding around the pair. He seemed to have a special attraction for Baoshi.

Then, the cub ran back over to its parents (or guardians, I wasn't sure), and made a number of little growls, which sounded like a question of some sort.

Both lions turned to look at the cub. The second lion made a deep growl (I think it meant 'no'). Whatever it was, the answer didn't please the cub, which looked up at its two parents with extra-big eyes.
The first lion started to growl out a reply, then hit upon some kind of verbal snag— perhaps a concept too complex to convey in Growl— and switched to English.

"NO!! I forbid it! Even if this hare-brained idea of traveling with a Sidereal was officially sanctioned, you're still too young to even attempt such a thing!"

The cub responded, "But... he's...." the cub dropped back into Growl for a few long seconds, "...and it'd be so fun and I've read his destiny record and he's not one of those Sidereals, and... come on!!..."
The lion cub ran over to Baoshi, and leaped, landing in Baoshi's arms only because he had them extended. Baoshi was as surprised as the two lions, who came over to him. One of them tried to pick up the cub by the scruff of the neck, but by then, the cub had scrabbled so it was sitting on Baoshi's shoulders.

At this point, I decided that this was going to be going on for a while, and said, gesturing at the door, "Got an argument, take it outside." Everyone trooped out, the lions encircling Baoshi as the lion cub hung on to his shoulders.

I never did find out if the cub got to travel with them, but I did see him, in Baoshi's company, a number of times after that.

Day 202

I finally got a response back from the White Veil Society earlier today. I packed several of my products, as demonstrations, in a package— a vial of sedative, a cloth-and-starmetal hidden dart shooter, several recording devices, among other things— then locked the package and sent it off by a semi-respectable courier service. I also included a price list. I'm charging quite a lot, on the basis that my goods are the highest quality.
And they are. But the markup is my little game, you might say...

Clothing-wise, sales are still starting to pick up. It's been 20ish days since my shop's started to get known. By my count, I should probably change the styles on display every 3 to 6 months or so.
The more important gods are still mostly out of reach, but I'm getting there.

Day 225

The package I sent out came back today. The reason listed for its return: "There is no such entity as the White Veil Society." [sigh]

Sending to the alternate address I got, which was given to me in case of just such an eventuality. I wonder how they knew this would happen....


Man, this journal's running out of room. I'm going to save the last few pages for particularly important events. (Not that running a shop isn't interesting, mind you.) Still, it's amazing. It's been over 6 months since I arrived, and I've done so much....

There's someone on the sales floor. Back later.

Day 252

Sales for my store have really begun to pick up, now. I just made up a suite of dresses for a Ms Flashing Peak (no easy feat— Ms Peak is 8 feet tall and made of living basalt), and she seemed very pleased with them. Ms Peak is apparently a relatively important goddess— her domain is a certain very tall mountain that is directly at the center of Creation, and she's certain to be noticed.
I've been getting more Ambrosia sales, and have been decorating the shop. Just two days ago, I fiiiinally got around to upgrading the fabrication machine. It's much larger.
My store has a nice polished counter now, and Socks is its official mascot.

Checking back through the order book, it's more obvious as to the amount of business I've been getting (from "Marilaq a'Lam, set of satin/soulsteel femme fatale's dresses + accessories (fabric modified for DNA capture on contact — just what is she up to?)" to "Jenzer [God of Pioneers and Explorers], hard-wearing tunic and trousers, 3 of each"). I'll have to keep a close eye on the records, so I can know when to change the styles (pretty soon now). I am the only boutique in Yu-Shan selling Xyon fashions right now, after all (though I have heard the occasional rumor of imitators), and I don't want to become a fad myself...

The back room is doing surprisingly well, as well. The bureacuracy of Heaven has, apparently, quite a lot of intrigue revolving around various persons... and my devices are flying off the shelves. I properly furnished my living quarters some time ago.
It's satisfying, in a way, to watch my shop grow. I hope it will last for quite some time.

Day 276

Finally heard back from the White Veil Society, in the form of a confusing letter— and a large amount of money. Here's a sample.

"If the White Veil Society did exist, it would assess your products as to be of the highest quality, and would purchase more if it were not a mere figment of the imagination. It would not use these items to conduct secret business in all parts of Creation, which would not further any sort of secret agenda that does not exist..."

I get the feeling this is something of joke with them. On the bright side, they ordered an enormous amount of stuff, as well as several custom-design items.
I'm going to be rich! (They're going to be sneaky.)
And this is going to be fun...

Day 277

Just finished updating the displays to the newest styles (that I made up). Loose wraps are out, colorful neckerchiefs are in... to name just one "innovation". The store's been now doing good business among the gods of Yu-Shan, and I'm also planning to add mainline Yu-Shan styles to my store's offerings, for the extra business.

Now that I've got a good idea of the way of the bureaucracy (not to mention that one time I was involved in the intrigue with the God of Parrots—ugh!), I've been slowly realizing what the highest pinnacle of artisanship would be for my humble store.

Someday, somehow, the Maiden of Serenity is going to be seen in a custom-made, blue femme fatale's dress, designed by me. It'd look good on her.
Still, such a day is far off. But I'll get there.
I know I can do it. . .

Uh-oh. Looks like there's only about a little under a page of journal left. I'll save the last entry for something really earthshattering.

Day 730

I just rediscovered this journal... again. I can't think of a more fitting time to have done so. It has now been two years, to the day, since I arrived in Yu-Shan, and almost fifteen months since I opened my shop. And so much has changed since then!
The shop's expanded a bit. Every square foot of the entire building is in use, and it's a lot shinier and decorated in luxury. I'm thinking about installing a second-floor gallery for aesthetics (and for the extra space). I even hired a helper.

My assistant's name is Melody (or, Melody of the Dawn Star for long), and she's a God-Blooded who claims to be half-... Fair Folk? If that's an accurate claim, she certainly looks it. I picked her up out of a rather sticky spot (it seems she was being pursued in connection with the dubious regards of fast-talking her way into free stuff and a fraud charge), and vouched for her. It kinda feels like passing on the lenience the Celestial Lions showed me... anyway.
Turns out, Melody was pretty persuasive to start with. I promptly trained her in both subtle and high-pressure sales tactics. Business has... since gone up.
Me & Melody even do house calls occasionally— and we're now rich enough to travel by dragon boat.

Speaking of business, I probably shouldn't be writing this down, but I can now proudly state that my sneaky-stuff has been used in at least two minor regime-change operations! I won't say which ones, in case someone else ever is reading this journal (hey you out there: GET YOUR NOSE OUT OF MY BOOK ALREADY!!), but the (high) quantities of Ambrosia that I've been receiving in exchange for the things have contributed to the growth of my shop significantly.

Clothing-wise, I've now changed the store's styles 4 or 5 times, and expanded my purview. I now do shoes and custom-design accessories and jewelry (imbued behaviors or abilities cost extra). If I'm not careful, I'll turn into a regular department store!
My policy of updating the styles seems to have kept me popular, and it's paid off. Just the other day, I received an order for a goodly number of thick veils from Nara-O himself. I've yet to attract the notice of the Maiden of Serenity yet, but I feel like I'm on the right track.

The one remaining concern that nags at me occasionally is the matter of getting back to Xyon. Every so often, I see something, and think, "Chic would like that," or "I should tell Andrew about this"... and the memories well up in my mind.
I've looked into getting back to my home. It would take an extraordinary amount of energy to pull off, and I haven't figured out how I'd have to modify the portal mechanics to play with time so that I would arrive in Xyon not long after I'd left. But there's two things I am sure of:

First, that I can return to Xyon City, my home.
And second... someday, after some time has passed... after I've had my fill of life and politics in Yu-Shan, the City of Heaven... and after I sell the Maiden of Serenity that dress... I will do just that.
But, for now, there's business to attend to, and it's Melody's day off.
To work!


The twilight outside /
makes the clothes appear divine /
business is good.


{signed} —Jane Narbon

===================

_________________
We've learned a lot, but this still isn't going to be easy. But I don't think the elder star's confidence in us was misplaced. I know we can do this! We'll set things right! ...somehow.

"There is a fine line between a good King and a Despot. A King is best when His subjects barely realize that He exists. When His work is done and His will is fulfilled, they will say, 'We did it ourselves.'"
-Xin Yun


Last edited by Zobot257 on Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Thu Jan 20, 2011 9:28 pm 
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The final submission is from Tinker, about Grandpa Jan... sort of. I'll let it's awesomeness speak for itself:

Professor_Tinker wrote:
In the long run, he decided, he wished he;d waited a while to re-name himself. Barely out of teenager hood, angry, and running away from home, from his titles, from a fight with his father he could not possibly convince himself he had really, truly won... well, he hadn't exactly been thinking sensibly.

He sighed, and calmly shifted his stance- out of a sort of childish hope that if he trained, really trained, any minute of any day, *it* would happen, finally, and he wouldn't be a disappointment (oh, the irony), he was accustomed to doing his best thinking while lifting something. Which was why he was slowly lifting a decently sized boulder by a rope attached to one leg, carefully- raise, lift, swing, repeat- while considering His Name.

He;d been to angry to consider it when he ran. He hadn't been considering anything. Except what a fool he;d been. He lived his life with his head in books, and gods helped him... he had believed them. The Library had been nursemaid, teacher, and priest to him all in one... and he could not help but feel betrayed when it had all suddenly gone wrong.

But then he;d been there, at the registry, and they;d needed to know his name. He;d given up on being ashamed of his original name. You could only spend so long wincing when you met someone before you realized it was best to just sort of bluster through it- yes, nice name isn't it? First Blossom of Spring- my mothers idea, thank you, and of COURSE you wouldn't *dream* of insulting the Lady, no doubt...

And there was a path of thought he didn't want to follow. If he thought like that, he;d want to go back, and he'd be sold to the merchants guild first.

He grunted- halting the waver of balance that had come with the waver of thought. Water flows- go around it. Take the lessons from nature, not vice versa.

He;d needed to give them a name, and the feel of leaving the family was still raw and bleeding. Somewhat literally. He'd just... said a name that felt the way he did, right then and there.

With a derisive snort, he lowered his leg for the last repetition, rolling his eyes at himself. The anger;d cleared for the most part- some of him wondered if the angry, annoyed fog would *ever*, but he could think clearly again, more or less.

"Fury of the WInter Storms... agh, what was I *thinking*?" he snapped, lowering the rock with a huff, and reaching down to untie the rope.

"Oh, I don't know... it has a certain ring to it. Trust me- there's worst names out there in this world. Especially for new 'ns. I've heard more 'Most Beautiful's and 'Shimmering Jewels' then I care to mention. Winter Storm is practically reserved." For a while afterwards, Fury would often quietly edit out his surprised yelp- only when he was older, and more cynically self-honest did he accept it, with the surety of someone who knows youth is *always* embarrassing.

The stranger's age was hard to place- he could have been fairly young carrying himself as an older man, or an older man who had aged well and chose to act it. He dressed for travel- simple leather breeches, with pockets that clasped for the inevitable tussles and movement, with a well worn heavy tunic, sturdy shoe... and sort of confusing nods to fashion, layered over sensibility sturdy as a stone.

Fury spotted the point of the earrings- he was pretty sure those were the kind certain sailors wore to show which routes they;d sailed. The upwards palm, the silver crane, the three brass loops. and he remembered that outlining your eyes in thick color like that cut down on the suns glare. And the belled sash was a city thing- took a cunning pickpocket not to alert someone wearing that.

But for the life of him, he couldn't place the origin of golden cloth, wound around your arms like that. But thinking on it too hard was shelved for later, as he tugged his foot free of the rope and whirled on them- they might have been sent by the Isle, after all.

"Whoah there, son- no need to bristle~ Just heard someone thumping around and snarling out here- figured I;d see what was going on out here. Scuse me- hope you don;t mind smoke." he pulled a set of brassy pipes out of his pocket, and assembled together a long slender pipe.

"And if I;d been a bear?" the youth snapped, sitting down on the rock he;d been lifting.

"Well, if it;d been a bear, it;d have to be an awfully philosophical one, and that;d still be an interesting use of an afternoon. You mutter a little, boyo. Might ease your mind to talk to someone- or perhaps you;d rather stay mum." he took a long drag, closing his eyes. He wasn't surprised when there was no reply.

Sometimes the silence spoke volumes.

"You're suspicious. Thats a good impulse. I;m a strange man what's come upon you when you probably didn't feel like being found. And you;re young, and angry, and not terribly used to forests. But not many merchants sons have roughness on their hands, or lift up boulders while they think." he snuck an eye open a little, allowing himself a little whirl of satisfaction to see some of the annoyance surprised away.

Ahhh, youngins.

"So... I;m bound to start thinking a Dragon Blooded youth. Out, alone, and hurt feeling, maybe fresh from your second breath... how'm I doin'? Hey! Woah now- I'm telling the truth! I wasn't sent to find you" ...by the isle, anyhow. Ahhh, Maidens forgive him his little white lies~

Fury lowered the rock, letting it thump to the ground to sit on it again.

"...if you say so. Alright, you got me there- what about it? I was... I was a fool anyways." he folded his arms, settling into what he thought then was an impressive scowl- he was fairly mortified later to be told it was a slightly prickly sulk.

"Hmm hmm... I don't know if you were or not.... you seem a smart kid." the Traveler smiled inwardly as the lad snorted- it always took a few minutes to find the key, but oh, once he hit on it. Humility, huh? Wouldn't a guessed.

But it gave him a little hope.

Humility would help.

_________________
We've learned a lot, but this still isn't going to be easy. But I don't think the elder star's confidence in us was misplaced. I know we can do this! We'll set things right! ...somehow.

"There is a fine line between a good King and a Despot. A King is best when His subjects barely realize that He exists. When His work is done and His will is fulfilled, they will say, 'We did it ourselves.'"
-Xin Yun


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 Post subject: Re: The Perfects Return!
PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 1:22 am 
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Location: Xyon City
The Perfects - Story 3: Heist {part 10}

Tuesday

As Amber prepared in her room for the event that night, the words of Helen Gamma came back to her.

"We've only got one shot at this: tonight. If someone can't sneak out of their house for whatever reason, let me know and we'll try to do without you. Amber, that doesn't count for you. Just do your best and we'll bring out the heavy stuff if all else fails."

Amber looked at the Amulet. There was something strange going on regarding it. All of the other girls described feelings of profound unease when they had tried test-carrying it on Monday. Even Helen had grimaced a bit. It was if the thing had identified to her. She would have to return it herself.

The only thing that remained was getting ready.
Amber prepared her backpack with the things she thought she'd need. There wasn't much you could pack for something like this, unless you had a good idea what was coming. Still, a few things were standard. Gloves. Dark clothing. The mythical artifact you were here to return.

She was ready, if she could sneak out of the house. Hopefully, that would be enough.

~
Wednesday
1:22 AM

When the time came, it had been easy. Amber opened the window, did some climbing-down of the route she had looked over in advance (something the Perfects had taught her), and headed for the lair, staying out of the spots of light cast by the streetlamps.

Once everybody arrived, it was similar to the first time, with the job assignments changed; Erica and Evelyn sat at the monitor banks, and checked everyone's headsets. (Each headset had been beefed up slightly, as if to give it a chance of surviving attacks.)
Once more, hoverdiscs came out.
Once more, the Perfects skimmed to the museum.

When they were outside, a little ways away, Helen indicated a halt.

"Gloves on, again," she said. "Me and Vanessa're getting the watch jobs tonight. This'll probably be the easy part."

"Um, if you plot out the relative difficulty, we're the easy part." said Erica.

"Yeah," said Helen. "Well, sorta-easy, anyway."
She and Vanessa moved in different directions around the edge of the museum, hiding in shadows. Her speech continued, over the link.

"Okay. V, Sammy, Marie, Amber. I...."
She paused, not quite sure of what to say.
"You'll probably have to fight your way out. We'll try to help. So will Erica and Evelyn. Still, this is riding on you. If the worst happens, just drop the Amulet somewhere visible and run.
Now....
good luck."


A muffled *click* from the door announced that Marie had completed tinkering with its lock. With care, the four girls entered.

~

The museum seemed spookier the second time. Perhaps it was the memories. Perhaps it was simply darker than the last time.
Perhaps it was the security.

After everyone had gotten in the door, Marie motioned for them to freeze.
Taking out a tiny device, she threw it across the floor. Three seconds later, there was a flash of light.

"What was that?" asked V.

"Jammer," explained Marie. "Knocks out everything for five minutes. Our headsets, too, unfortunately. Come on! We've got to get to the security room before the cameras start transmitting again."

Silently, with Amber leading the way, the four headed to the security room. Marie pressed a device to the lock, and after a few seconds of mechanical grinding, it slid open.

Sammy looked at Marie. "Isn't manually better?"

"Pick the lock, instead? The security system's not that paranoid," Marie answered. "Anyway, this is faster."

Inside the security room, the computers had been upgraded. A few had even been replaced by the clear-plastic-and-stars cubes that were the hallmarks of quantum-processor machines.
Marie took out a flash drive from her pocket.
"Erica told me to just stick this into one of the computers. You think any'll do?"

Sammy smiled, pointing at an older computer in the corner. A half-finished game of solitaire was showing on the screen.
"Let's try that one."

After a few seconds, several of the monitors on the wall banks flickered, and a dialog box with a checkmark came up on the screen. Marie examined the text of the box.
"*snicker* They have all these shiny new computers and the entire system's running off this old one. How's that for security?"

As the link came back alive, Erica explained, "I should warn you that that's only for the cameras on the first floor. The other blocks are running off their own controllers. It's decentralized, basically."

"Oh, okay."

"And, the reason it's only running off the 1 PC is that the rest of the system has its control boxes a bit... nearer to its tendrils, so to speak. Be careful."

"Gotcha."

~

After taking care of a few things in the Atrium, the party headed to return their prize.
As promised, the second floor was completely blocked off. When Amber tried sticking her hand in, she hit up against something solid. Nothing could move it. It was like touching a wall.

The girls continued on, up the grand staircase. Surprisingly, the fourth floor wasn't closed. The frame for a barrier like the second floor's was there, but it was dark.
Amber looked at the others, and shrugged. Before she stepped over the barrier, Marie positioned herself in front of her.

"I have to go first," she said. "I'll let you know if there's any traps, or anything to avoid."

Walking a few steps ahead of the group, she looked around, then moved over to a small box, high up in a shadowed corner. A few seconds' work was all it took to disable the security system's main control unit for the Front 4th floor.

"Okay, come on," she said, once she was finished. "Don't get too near the standalone display plinths, though. There's proximity sensors."

Amber, Sammy, and V walked into the fourth floor gallery. It was now in its final state, showcasing the intriguing things dug up from the 50-floor ruin its archaeologists had jokingly nicknamed "The Dungeons of Doom".

The path lay clear ahead of them. And the museum figures were alive.
It was obvious, when you were looking for them. The preserved imps shifted slightly in their case-cages. The replica grid bugs crackled slightly in a way that mere taxidermy and design could not explain. However, nothing attacked. Yet.
Perhaps, they sensed the girls' purpose.

Cautiously, the group took a few steps forward. Then, a shimmery, crackly sound from behind Amber made her turn.

The barrier of hardened air, the unbreakable bulwark with the purpose of keeping intruders out of the 4th-floor gallery, had closed.
And they were trapped inside.

And, for just a fraction of a second, Amber thought she could see SoItBegins' face, patterned in the corona of light rapidly fading, from the activation of the barrier.
Then, it was gone.


~~~


If nothing else, thought Amber, once we get out of here we'll know enough about ambiance to make an incredible haunted house this Halloween.

When the barrier closed, the other three group members reacted with dismay.

"Attention," V called over the link. "We have entered the fourth floor, but the barrier's come to life and sealed us inside. We're going to have to come out by the third floor."

Only a faint, garbled signal came through.

"** can't hea* you ** ***."
"* ***** *** barrie* ***** *e blocking the signal. Be ca*****."


"What?"

Helen's voice came on. Her signal was just as faint. "This smells lik* * **** *** *rap, wh*** ** **** ***t walked int* ******* *** ****** and get o*t ** soon as *** can. *ver."

Amber, Sammy, Marie, and V all looked at one another.
"Let's just get through this, fast," Sammy said, finally. "I'm really starting to get kind of creeped out here."

With care, the group started to follow the route through the 'maze'.

~

The exhibit consisted of several rooms, with a mazelike layout of display cases and descriptive block-signs in the first room. In every room, the walls were covered with the strange writing found in the ruins (along with translations, for the benefit of museum-goers.)

The 'maze' was simple enough. The second room, however...

Samantha shone her flashlight at the high ceiling of the room, which opened out to display a cave. Somehow, the exhibit creatures (mostly bats and the like) had gotten out of their cages and were hanging to the ceiling, around the edges of the room; all except the ones who were flying in the air above the girls' heads.

"Here goes," muttered Amber to herself, taking a step into the room.

Immediately, the behavior of the bats changed. While most of them continued flying in circles, a fraction of the flock changed course, swooping down towards Amber. Amber tensed, getting ready to duck—

—and the frontmost bat of the flock was suddenly surrounded in blue light, as a strange sigil appeared on the floor beneath it. It had been stopped in time.
Most of the flock turned around, but some tried alternate routes, getting caught in timestop traps of their own. The glowing runes on the floor started to spell out a mazelike passage.

The lack of obstacles in this room was an illusion.

"Temporal suspension," Marie muttered to herself. "Extraordinary. I wonder if I could make something to see....?"

Deciding to trust in the creatures, Amber took a step along the dark path, moving carefully. Sure enough, more bats swooped down, getting caught and lighting up further sections of path.
The rest of the party followed behind: Samantha carefully, Marie tinkering on something as she walked, and V moving in a determined manner.
The traps formed a maze of their own. Almost the entire flock was caught by the time the girls made it to the other side of the room.


The third room was a medium-size space, with a number of display cases containing items. Marie looked carefully at the layout before whispering to the others.

"This room's loaded with more conventional systems. Stay on the light tiles. There's pressure sensors under the other ones. There's also auditory sensors, too, so we'll have to be silent. I'm pretty sure there's control machinery in here, too."
She scanned the room again.

"You know what? Hold on."

With care, Marie walked into the room, making no sound. With care, she dodged around every display case, stopping before the larger one in the center. Sinking down by the bottom of the case, she pulled out some tools, and went to work on a lock embedded in the 'plinth' portion of the case.
Half a minute later, a panel clicked open, revealing glowing electronics inside. Marie did something (the glow dimmed), then closed the case back up and returned.

Once she was back with the others, Marie explained. "Good news is, I just found the security panel for the back half of this floor. That's everything, except for the pressure and audio sensors. And the timestop traps. Now, come on."

As the girls sneaked through the third room, Amber took a look at the display cases. They displayed items; potion bottles, scrolls, and a fossilized Hawaiian shirt, for some reason. Marie was still tinkering, though the tiniest *click* 3/4 of the way across the room (loud in the silence) signaled the success, or failure, of her efforts. V, though it was hard to tell, was tense. Sammy had even visibly shrunk a bit.

Once all four were into the next room, Marie showed what she had been fiddling with. It was a... lens?... of some sort.

"This'll show the timestops," she explained. She passed the lens around, allowing everyone to get a good look.
This room— a short corridor between the third room and the final— had nothing, but a bright blue glow came from the final room when seen through the lens. There was nothing to do but continue.

The final room was in the shape of a perfect circle. Around the edges were cases with force fields of hardened air, showing some of the strongest creatures dug up from the ruin. They looked still, but slight movements betrayed their supposed inaction. The writing had grown thick, and shimmered from time to time, even when only the girls' flashlight beams touched the text.

"How did this room get renovated so fast?" V wondered. "I swear it was rectangular, and had other stuff in it, when you came in to take the Amulet."

"I've no idea," Sammy said, staring at the room with the lens. A single ring of timestops, with one gap, ran around the central, empty pedestal.

Carefully, Amber moved into the room, heading for the gap in the ring as she fished the Amulet out from under her top. The other girls followed her, Marie directing them to make sure they didn't dodge too far left or right into one of the traps.

Finally, the group of four had reached the heart of their objective. Marie unlocked the pedestal, deactivating its force field. Amber placed the Amulet on the cushion in the center.
V and Samantha kept watch, Sammy with the lens, V with her sunglasses put away for once.

The Amulet glinted on its place of display, looking mildly magical. It might have shimmered as it returned to its given place. It might have just been a trick of the light.
Amber touched it one last time, and Marie closed up the pedestal again.

They had succeeded. The Amulet was back. Now, they just had to—

The first hint of trouble was immediate. Sammy, watching the surroundings, said, "Um... I think we may have a problem."

The others took the lens, looking out to the room edges. Where there had been a single ring of time-stopping sigils, with a gap, the entire floor surface was covered with the things. Not even a mouse would be able to get through.

They were trapped.



After a second, V groaned. "So this is what Helen's dad meant."
Sammy examined the spacing of the glyphs. "No good. Can't shift thin enough to get through them. You have any ideas?"
Amber could only shake her head.

Marie looked through her pack, muttering to herself. "No... no good... wrong situation... we don't even know what these are..... oh."

From the very bottom of the pack, she brought out a pair of strange devices. A plug and a cap, with a clear plastic dome on the end of each.

"Oh man, am I glad I packed this," she said, looking at the thing. Then, she spoke to the group.
"Okay. Listen carefully. This thing is a super-strong version of the jammer I used earlier. While it's active, it stops all non-biological devices from working. This'll include the timestop traps, museum security... but also our flashlights, and our headsets too. We're going to have to make a run for the cave room— the door to the stairs is in there."

"In the dark?" V said.

"Afraid so, unless—"

Sammy spoke up. "Ooh! This one's mine."
She concentrated for a few seconds. Then, her skin slowly began to glow, until it was a bright, glow-in-the-dark green.

"Whoa!" said Amber. "We could have used that instead of flashlights?"

Sammy rolled her eyes. "It's not half as bright, in case you didn't notice. Anyway, every time I do bioluminescence, I have to pack three lunches the next day."

Marie looked at Sammy, then nodded. "The device'll block all light for the first thirty seconds or so, but after that, that should work great. Now, is everyone ready?"

Nods.

"Okay. 3, 2, 1..."

Marie plugged the two halves of the device together. There was an overwhelming flash of light, then everything went dark again. Light vanished. Electronics shut down. Force fields disappeared.

And, as the girls started to run towards the door, the preserved creatures around the edges of the walls abandoned their cages and leaped to the attack, shrieking their war cries as they went!!


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:34 am 
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Brilliant (but still Mad) Scientist
Brilliant (but still Mad) Scientist

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I just like writing stories, even if I don't finalize the rough draft. And when the idea is technically stolen from someplace else.


The light magician

The two figures moved between the young woman's hand in a beautiful and in a flowy dance. The children ooh and ahh at the display. While the town was used to mad science technology doing the impossible, she was showing off with flair that excited the children and adults alike. Some of the onlookers where looking for the device that made this display possible, some to copy the design for their own use. The young Magician smiled inwardly at this. This was from no mechanical device, but using the ancient power of magic with some help of mind power. While many Wizards and sorcerers tapped into the ancient forces of the elements, she tapped into the lesser known element of light.

The young woman's stage name is Luminosa, continued with the light show, adding small light balls to fly in between the crowds. The kids laughed with joy as they tried to catch some of the light balls. The few that did get caught, stayed in the child's hand, much to their delight, before continuing on their path. Luminosa smiles more. She enjoyed entertaining a crowd. Especially when some are still trying to figure out how she is doing this all.

After the show, one of the watchers came up to her, making sure no one else was still around. Luminosa could tell he was probably one of the sparks in the area. The man smiled his best disarming smile, which was more creepy then anything else. "Excuse me miss, mind telling me how you did this? I didn't see the device that was doing this and I believe i can use the information to further my 'studies.'"

Luminosa smiled back, more to be polite then to be nice. "I am sorry sir, trade secret." She turned back to her packing when the man grabbed her arm. "I need to know." he said, the smile now obviously being forced. Luminosa has learned that sparks are just as human as everyone else. Only difference is one have illusions of grandeur while the other have the knowledge to try to make it true. But in the end, they are still humans. She could tell this one was not going to drop the subject.

"Sure, I will show you how I do it." She spun the light in her hand into a singularity light ball and flung it at the man's face. He instinctively threw up his hands to protect his face and lets go of her while grabbing for his weapon. The ball was only made of light and therefore completely harmless. But it was enough of a distraction she was looking for as she brought her knee straight up hard into the man's groin. The man abandoned the attempt to grab his deathray and instead concentrated more on protecting his groin as he slumped to the ground, tears welling up from the pain.

Luminosa formed another light ball in her hand. It grew brighter and brighter, bright enough to cast it's own shadows in the mid afternoon. The spark's eyes squinted more from the pain and the light. "Jerk, now please don't bother me again." She flung the ball at the man again. The ball exploded against the man, searing pain covered his body. The combined pain factor from the knee to the groin and the light ball was too much for his system. He yelped out in pain and fell face frist into the ground, passing out.

Later on the man would swear up and down the young woman pulled out a painray and used it against him and grumbled about being outdone by a simple young girl. He worked furious in his lab in attempt to replicate whatever she did to him, with little success. Not that a holographic display was hard to make. But for him, making one small enough to be hidden was just beyond his capabilities.


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 Post subject: Re: The Perfects Return!
PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 1:07 am 
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Location: Xyon City
The Perfects - Story 3: Heist {part 11}

V was the first to get hit. She was running in the pure blackness when something landed on her. Letting out a yell, she grabbed the offender and threw it away. Before she could complete her swing, her arm collided with an open jaw, and sharp fangs. She leaped away, spinning into a roundhouse kick of whatever was out there.

She collided with several opponents on her spin. What were they? Creatures? Worse?

The last thing she hit yelled, "Ow!"

"Sorry, Marie," V said as she ran towards the door of the room. Unfortunately, she had become turned around, and her fingers brushed only blank wall. Shrieks of creatures and sounds of fighting denoted the other girls. V headed towards them—

The device stopped blocking light, and Sammy's glow suddenly became the most welcome ever. The situation was clear now. Creatures lay on the floor in circles around Marie, who had her fangs and claws out (and, come to think of it, was probably the most dangerous creature in the room anyway). Anything that got near Sammy, now that V could see, was met with a barrage of extra-strong punches.
However, Amber was in trouble. She'd run in the right direction, but the creatures had ganged up on her; she was now at the bottom of a pile of preserved flesh.

The others ran over, pulling the semi-living things off of Amber, all three struggling with the body of the golem that made up the greatest part of the heap. Amber had been knocked around, but she was still conscious; her face was locked in a grimace.

Marie held off the attacks of the beasts while V and Sammy dragged Amber upright. She wobbled the first few steps, then began to run, following Sammy in the lead, with Marie acting as rearguard.

The archway between the third and second rooms was blocked, by a display case. Muttering, "Now, how did that get there?" V ran forwards and began to move it.

Then, the case tried to swallow her.

"It's a trap!" Sammy yelled, as Marie charged and gave a massive swipe at the "case", only to have her claws stuck fast. Amber tried to pull V out. The whatever-it-was held her too tight.

"Okay, stand back!" yelled Samantha. "I'ma get nasty on it...."

Amber stepped back. V yelled, "How can we?"

Sammy said, "Just... oh, forget it."
Then, the light of her skin went out. There were a few seconds of grunting and straining in the darkness. Then, the fake case began to make noises of pure agony, in combination with a hissing sound that seemed to come from its flesh.

By the time Samantha willed her light back on, the 'case' had dissolved.

"What....?" asked V.

"Acid," explained Sammy. "Come on!"


The bats in the cave room were swirling round the ceiling again. Sammy ran over to the side of the cave wall, pointing.

"According to the plans, the door's here. How much time we got left?"

Marie looked at the device she was holding.

"Well... about... HOLY—"

She looked around in panic.

"We have about 1 minute before the time runs out— and I'd swear that I remember seeing one of those bats trapped where we're standing, right in front of the door!!"

With no time to waste, Marie handed the device to V, then retrieved a set of manual lockpicks from a pocket, twisting the lock this way and that.
"The number of lights left there is the seconds remaining," she muttered as she worked. "Yell if it gets to 10."

There was nothing to do but wait, as the seconds ticked down. Muffled clicking and cursing from Marie and the door indicated her work. Then, V said the one thing everyone didn't want to hear.

"Ten seconds!"

9...

"**** this stupid.... *click*"

8...

7...

Marie pulled open the door and dived through.

6...

5...

Samantha followed.

4...

3...

Then Amber.

2...

1...

It suddenly hit the group that V was too far away— she wouldn't be able to make it in time. She was in a spring towards the door, but beneath her, the floor began to shimmer as the device shut down....

0.

In the last fraction of a second, Samantha shot out an arm, wrapping around V and pulling her into the doorway, the device falling from her pinned hands. The group slammed the door just as the floor in front of them glowed blue, time utterly stopping for the little device as the door slammed and all four girls collided into a heap.

They were out of the top floor.


Everybody let out a breath.
"Well. What now?" Amber couldn't help asking.

"Now, we boot those headsets back up," Marie said.

"—come in! Are you there? Hello?"

"It's okay. We're here. And we left the Amulet," Amber said over the link.

"Great," said Helen. She was whispering. "What's your status now?"

"We're all here, in the stairs between floors," said V. "We had to cut the power temporarily in order to get off the top floor, but now all that's left is the third floor, and out."

"Great," whispered Vanessa, "but we have a problem. Whatever you did, it got someone to pay attention. There's some guards out here, and they're about to head into the museum."

Uh-oh.

"What do you think we should do?" asked Sammy, over the link.

Erica answered, from the lair.
"Chances are, if something caused during the return of the Amulet is what's attracted them, they'll head up to the fourth floor straight away. If not, they'll most likely go to the security room, or take up a patrol route. In either case, you should just try to sneak out of the third floor."

"Though that may be hard," Helen said.

"Why's that?" Amber asked.

"Okay," Helen whispered. "Get next to the floor-3 door, but don't stand in front of it."

Amber, Marie, Sammy, and V walked down the back stairs. The door for the third floor was soon visible.
No one noticed that the pi-symbol door seemed to have disappeared.

"Okay, what do we do now?" said Sammy. She had switched back to using a flashlight. The others had switched their flashlights back on, as well.

"Now, open the door, still without getting in front of it."

Sammy extended her arm, then pulled open the door from the handle.
A giant, two-foot-long crossbow bolt whizzed by the faces of the four girls, then embedded itself on the opposite stairway wall.

"Okay, now close the door," Helen said.

The four girls looked at the bolt for a few seconds. Back at the base, Evelyn couldn't resist asking the question.

"Ummmm.... how did you know that was even there?"

Helen's voice sounded smug, for some reason.
"I saw it while we were touring the museum on Monday. Fortunately, it only had the one bolt in it, so it should be safe to use the door now."

"So," V said, in summation, "we just have to get through a simple floor layout, full of highly Mad devices, evade any physical guards that are looking for us, and get out of the museum."

"That's about the size of it," said Erica. "Still, we can see what you're looking at now, so we'll help out however we can."

Helen had one last thing to add.
"A bit of a warning: The door comes out in the middle of the 'Covert Devices' section. For your safety, try to get out of that room as soon as you possibly can. I only was able to spot some of the hazards on my 'tour'."

A noise of doors opening came over the link.

"The guards just went in. Good luck."

V looked at Amber. Sammy looked at Marie.

"Are we ready?"

"I... I guess so."
"Yep!"
"We've got to try."

With care, the girls opened the door. It was time to find their way out of the museum.

~~~

"The good news is, there's no security in here," whispered Marie as the group looked around. "The bad news is that the objects themselves are it."

As an example, she gestured at the object directly across from the door. The only object which could have fired the giant crossbow bolt.

It was an old, battered black leather purse, resting on a stand.

"Erica just sent me an image," Helen's voice came in. "That purse is an old model of my mom's. Enough firepower to take down a tank. Funny... I thought it was unloaded, though."

"Wait, that's an old model?" Sammy whispered into her mic. "What can the new one do? A building?"

"Nah. The new model, all the soldiers fall asleep, and Mom gets to have fun with the tank."

"Let's get out of here," Amber murmured to the others.

The group headed for the corridor directly across the room, the one that would take them closer to the exit. Through it all, Samantha kept up a whispered running commentary.

"Wow," came one set of whispers, as they passed a display showing the evolution of covert surveillance technologies, "just imagine carrying one of those around."

"They're lighter than they look," said Evelyn.

"How do you know....?"

"Come on." Amber hissed.

At another display case:
"Oh, wow, they've got the original suit worn by—"
"Come on!"

Surprisingly, the four traversed the large room without incident. Perhaps, the efforts of the museum in making its subjects safe for display had actually worked.

"You got through that room safely?" came Erica's disbelieving voice, as the group set off through the archway that led to the next room. "I can't believe—"

The connection suddenly filled with static, as all four girls walked into, and were thrown back by, an invisible force field generated by what appeared to be two light fixtures.
Wisecracks from over the link.
"I guess you shouldn't believe it."

"Yeah, yeah. Is there another way out of here?"

A pause.
"There is. You turn around, then it's to your right. That takes you through two more rooms, and then the path'll split again."

"All right," said V. "We'll try that."
She, and the other girls turned around. And saw something they hadn't expected.

"Uh-oh," said Sammy, to herself.
There, arranged in a semi-circle in front of them, as if they were animals crowding around a kill, were the devices from the room's cases and exhibits. All were silent. Watching. Waiting.

"Now what?" asked Amber.
"No choice," said V.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking....?" Marie asked.

"Well, there's literally only one way to go," said V. "And, we can't stay trapped here all night."

"You can't be serious," said Sammy.

"Hey, you're the one with the armored skin. We're taking the risks here," said Marie.

"All right...." Sammy said.

"Okay," said V. "On three."
Nods.
"One..."
"Two..."
"THREE!!"

In the same moment, all four girls ran through the forest of dangerous devices. Beams, bolts, and darts flew at them. Innocent-looking items emitted spiked black tentacles that tried to grab them. As they passed the main grouping of devices, the stragglers began to give chase, only to be caught by some of the front-runners. As the team ran, the sounds of pursuit shifted into the sounds of a gruesome device feeding frenzy.
Amber felt something like oil hit her on the back of the neck. She didn't look behind her.
The girls kept going, diving through the archway that presented itself. They were not impeded.

The room they were in was the heart of the exhibit, and also the simplest. Primarily, there was space. At points, one or another of the greatest accomplishments of Mads were commemorated on a plinth, with an understated piece of descriptive text. At the back center of the room, stood a silver cube, glowing and pulsing with a strange energy.

Erica gasped. "They have a silverCube? A real silverCube? We should have targeted that!"

"Um... what's a silver cube?" Amber asked.

"Not 'silver cube'. 'silverCube'. It's a mad-created energy source. There's only like, 5 in the entire world. It gives unlimited energy. No job too big or too small. No one has any idea how it works."

"You know," said Vanessa, "is there anything stopping us from stealing it?"

"Yeah," reminded Helen over the link. "My dad."

Silence.

"In any case," said Evelyn, speaking up for the first time in a while, "There's nothing really that can harm you in here, fortunately. Well, unless the cube were to explode or something. But what are the chances that that'd ever happen?"

"*phew* That's good to hear," Marie called back.

Then, Amber noticed something strange about the cube. It was vibrating oddly, like a washing machine that had been loaded improperly. As she watched, a tiny crack appeared in the side, a sliver of brilliant light shining out.

The other girls were noticing it too. Amber could hear alarmed remarks behind her. Then shouts.
The crack slowly got wider and wider, light forcing its way out as the cube vibrated more and more prominently. Amber was beginning to feel slightly dizzy.

Then, with one wrench, the outer, silver shell of the cube split open and was violently thrown apart. Brilliance was within.

Everything went white.


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:27 pm 
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Mad Scientist Unbelievable
Mad Scientist Unbelievable
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Location: Burnsville
This is just a preview, mostly done as an excuse for me to practice writing. This is a character that may or may not appear in the Exalted campaign at a future date!

The Machine

Essence Manipulation Construct serial number 0054379X.

Booting...

c:/purpose.exe

purpose.exe: "A unit tasked with the maintance and security of the Great Maker's laboratory. S-Class construct with modular weaponry and additional weapon energy chambers."
c:/Hyatom.exe...
Processing...
Hyatom.exe not found.
c:/system_diagnostic_1
Scanning...
Superfical damage to upper regions of outer chassis. Insufficient resources to activate autorepair functions...
Processing....
Con.gce detected. Functioning as normal.
Val.gce detected. Functioning as normal.
Error! Tem.gce not found! Accessessing Hyatom.exe, please wait...
Hyatom.exe not found. Attempt to procede y/n? y
Com.gce detected. Functioning at 54% capacity.
Insufficent resources to activate autorepair.
Upper chassis at 54% capacity.
Lower chassis at 67% capacity. External structure compromised.
Error! Essence chamber breached!
Diagnostic evaluation of functioning systems: Unstable.
Scheduled maintance event overdue.
Attempting to access network...
Network not found!
Attempting aural contact for unit designation Kabuto...
Unit Designation Kabuto not found.
System diagnostic 1 complete.
Final evaluation of status: Oh gods someone anyone help me...

_________________
We've learned a lot, but this still isn't going to be easy. But I don't think the elder star's confidence in us was misplaced. I know we can do this! We'll set things right! ...somehow.

"There is a fine line between a good King and a Despot. A King is best when His subjects barely realize that He exists. When His work is done and His will is fulfilled, they will say, 'We did it ourselves.'"
-Xin Yun


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 Post subject: Re: The Perfects Return!
PostPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 2:07 am 
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Hyperkeeper
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Posts: 1301
Location: Xyon City
The Perfects - Story 3: Heist {part 12}

Amber woke up, dazed, and stared at the ceiling. Where was she?

Then, everything came back very quickly. The Mad Science exhibit. The silverCube. The explosion.

"Oh, good, you're back," said Marie. She was just packing away an empty vial of something or another. "Can you sit up?"

Amber nodded, slowly pulling herself upright. She was in the exhibit room. Everything appeared normal. Nothing was damaged.
Strangely, the Cube itself was unharmed, radiating pleasantly in its own silver glow, by the far wall.

"What...?" she said, not quite sure what had happened.
"It looks like one of those devices in the last room managed to get some sort of hallucinogenic poison into you. You just started staring at the center cube, then swayed and collapsed."

"Oh," said Amber, now feeling rather foolish. She got to her feet, a slight wobbliness leading her to grab onto V's arm for a few seconds until she was feeling all right.

"And then Marie here conveniently had some antidote in her pack, which she used on you. Don't get poisoned again, OK?"

"Sure, said Amber," shaking off the final touches of the poisoning. Whatever that antidote was, it worked fast.

"Just be glad I had it," said Marie. "Otherwise, I'd have had to milk Samantha for it or something."

"I'm not just a freaking walking biochemical factory, you know. It takes—"

"HEY!" came Helen's voice, over the link. "We haven't exactly got all the time in the world here. You should get moving, before— Evelyn? Erica? What's the status with those guards, anyway?"

"Okay. Hold on while we get the camera records."
A pause. Then, surprisingly, giggling and laughter resounded over the link.
"Oh man, you're not going to believe this," said Evelyn. It sounded as if she was enjoying herself.
"So, the guards got into the building. One headed for the security room, and resumed playing solitaire. He didn't even notice the system wasn't working. The other guard headed straight for the fourth floor," explained Erica.
"So, the barrier's open, believe it or not. Not sure when that happened— we were too busy following Amber along— but, in he goes. *giggle*" added Evelyn.
"And so, when he does..." said Erica.
"The barrier closes behind him!" said both girls, in unison. Further giggles were forthcoming.

Helen was taken aback. "You mean that he walked into the same trap as our group....?!"

"Yep. I think your dad may have set that one up, and not mentioned it to anybody."

"I always knew he was a maverick!" said Marie.

"Ha, ha, ha. Just get going, OK?"

~

The 'power source' room the girls were standing in had archways connecting it to other rooms. The first led back to the Covert section. The second, at a right angle to the first one, led into a room with a fluorescent glow emanating from it.

The four headed cautiously in.

This room was full of different plants and creatures. The plants sat under the dimmed white gaze of their growth lamps, interspersed with habitats for exotic, Mad-generated creatures.
The group tiptoed through this room. The Killer Rabbits were all sleeping in their habitats, and no one wanted to be the first to wake them up. The plants reached out and rustled at them as they passed, but they were confined to their pots.
Still, everyone let out a tense breath when the archway was visible to their right.

Through the archway, there was a small intersection. The path to the right was blocked by a shimmering force field. Through it could be seen the Covert section, as well as the remains of the gadgets' war. The passages to the left, and straight ahead, were clear.

"Okay, we've reached the split." called Marie. "What now?"

"Okay. Left fork leads to the display on weapons. I figure that's about the last place you need to be right now. Right is back to Covert, but you knew that already. Straight ahead, though, takes you to the section about Mad inventions that have helped the non-Mad world. That's your best shot at getting out of there. After that room, there's the opening gallery and the way out. Good luck!"

"Straight ahead it is, then," said Marie.

~

The scene in the 'helpful applications' room had significantly less potential to be dangerous than the other halls. Most of the objects in here were roughly normal in appearance in function— prosthetic legs, computers in fabric, and other useful fruits of Mad ingenuity. The centerpiece of the display, a giant, spider-legged multipurpose farm machine, was heavily restrained by blocks of molded plastic locking it into position, at least until someone came along with a massive saw or torch.
It twitched as the girls tiptoed past. None of the other machines moved at all.

"Still no trouble and hazard?"

"I believe the word you are looking for is 'strife', Erica."

"No," said Marie. "One thing twitched at us, is all."

"Good. Now, the front room is...."

"...uh-oh," said V, seeing the archway.

The corridor between the two rooms was completely blocked by a massive barricade of parts.

"Oh, so that's where that got to...." said Erica, over the link. "We noticed that pile of parts had disappeared on our tour of the museum (it was originally blocking the staircase door, remember?), but didn't expect it to turn up here."

"Yeah, but how did it get there?" Amber couldn't help asking.

"............we don't know."

All four girls looked at each other. Finally, Helen intervened.

"There is another way out, right?"

"Oh, there is," explained Evelyn, "it's just that they're not going to like it."

"Well?" Sammy said. "If we can get out of here, then—"

"According to this nice map, the way out is, you backtrack to the intersection, then, facing towards the plants room, turn right and head into the room with the weapons."

"Isn't that the one you told us not to go in?"

"Yeah. There's all sorts of hardware in there, and given the way everything else's been coming alive, you should probably figure out a route first, then just run through as fast as you can."

"All right," Marie said, in response. Sammy had a distinct look on her face, and not an enthusiastic one. V merely looked determined as she always did, but Amber could hear the tiniest degree of uncertainty. Carefully, the group turned around, and returned to the fork.


Sammy, being the team shapeshifter, generated an eye in the palm of her hand and looked into the weapons room, ready to pull back if anything shot at her. She swiveled her hand around, searching.
After a few seconds, she pulled back, puzzled. And worried.

"There aren't any weapons in there," she said, confused. "It's like something came and ransacked the place. Every single stand and display case is empty. Every. Single. One."

Muffled whispering came over the link. Finally, Erica spoke, slowly.

"Listen very carefully. Enter just inside the room. There should be a cabinet to the immediate right of the door. Open it."

The girls did as they were told. Inside were a number of small circular objects, each about the size of a thick silver dollar.

"Those are personal reflection shields. Force fields. They're only good for a few minutes, but the idea of the thing was that if there was any problem with the weapons, the staff could use these to get in there and sort it out. Now, it's our turn to use 'em."

Each girl picked up one. "What do we do?" asked Amber, who wasn't familiar with the devices.

"Okay. When you get through here and into the next room, the way out of the exhibit will be an arch slightly to the left of you. I'm pretty sure that whatever is going to happen will happen before you reach the exit, while you're in that room."

Helen spoke up. "I'm not quite sure where you are, but if the descriptions I'm hearing are accurate, I have a pretty good idea. Get a running start, and activate the shield right before you run into the next room. If you can make it out of the gallery and back to the main stairs, you should be home free."

"All right," said V, with a shield in her gloved hand.

"[eep] Ready," said Sammy, readying herself for a sprint.

"OK," said Marie, bracing herself.

"I guess this is the moment of truth, then," Amber said, readying her shield.

Then, taking a deep breath, all four ran, picking up speed, until they emerged into the final room—

—where the machines were waiting for them.
The things on display in the front room were a variety of interesting devices, ranging from realistic androids to simple tools. There even was a model of one of the Protector Obelisks of the ancient Atlantean civilization.
Now, animated by a familiar red glow, the things waited for those who they knew would come to them.

Amber activated her shield a fraction of a second after the others. Still, something hot whizzed past her eyebrows. Once the girls' shields were activated, the barrage of energy bolts and thrown projectiles that came bounced off, searing the walls and damaging whatever they ricoched onto.

All four ran. The shields performed admirably; most of the machines, under the Amulet's unintelligent control, fired at them, and the shots returned or swerved away, damaging the other combatants.
The 'featured display' room was larger than the others, but at a dead run, it suddenly seemed very small indeed. True to what Erica had said, the archway leading out of the exhibit was to the left, leading to a corridor lined with writing, normally used to introduce the exhibit.

Even by the time the girls were most of the way across the room, most of the things firing at them had been disabled or blown to spare parts by the profusion of redirected shots. As V followed the group into the corridor, the last device standing— the Atlantean Protector Obelisk— decided to try a shot from a powered energy cannon.
The shot bounced off her shield, heading right back at the Obelisk.
The Obelisk exploded into debris.

With no more devices left to fight, the room became silent again. Amber, Marie, and Sammy traded high-fives while standing in the entrance to the corridor.

"Take that, Amulet of Yendor!" Amber said.
"See? It proves that the best offense is a good defense," gloated Amber.
Sammy just grinned and said "Woo!"— but softly.

"Hey! Partiers! Are you seeing what I'm seeing?" said Evelyn, suddenly, over the link. Her voice sounded unusually scared.

The group looked above them, and to the left and right. Walls. They looked behind them. The room, with parts and scattered weapons littering the floor. Then, ahead, the way out.

"Uh... no? What are you seeing?" Sammy asked.

"Maybe it's something about the camera, but I see something like a net, or a force field, right ahead of you. And it's loaded with pi symbols."

"Where? Here?" Amber said, reaching out in front of her.
Her hand swiped something that felt like... the buzz of an electric motor.
Erica and Evelyn had just enough time for a collective groan over the link.
"Oh, man, now you've done it."

Before the girls could ask what they meant, an invisible force grabbed them, and hurled them back, to where they had run into the room. Their shields tried to absorb the impact, and collapsed, the last of the devices' power spent.
The red glow, still faintly hanging around a few of the more intact pieces of machines, was forcibly displaced, as a pi symbol hung in the air for a second, inserted itself into a part, and copied its yellow glow to its neighbors.

The parts began to accrete just as the group got their footing. It was as if they knew what they were coming together to be.
The final pieces connected, and the girls gasped.

The parts had formed into wings, and scales. Jagged edges of metal substituted for claws. Shards of the obsidian Obelisk doubled for eyes. And, within the body of the thing, a flamethrower served its purpose and threw around a long stream of incandescence.

The girls were facing a gigantic mechanical dragon.


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 Post subject: Re: The Perfects Return!
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:42 am 
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Hyperkeeper
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Posts: 1301
Location: Xyon City
The Perfects - Story 3: Heist {part 12b}

Everyone ran in different directions, as the 'dragon' indulged itself in one ear-scraping roar. A claw shot out on a long chain, embedding itself in the wall as V jumped aside in one direction and Amber ran around the thing's frame in the other.

Marie and Amber were already heading around the thing's body, but it wasn't stupid. The dragon pulled in air, as if it was going to shoot flame.
Then, it did— out both sides of its body, in an arc.
Amber and Marie hit the deck, as the flame scorched the wall just over their heads. The displays on the sides of the room caught fire, spilled oil and gas on the floor igniting a wall between the front and back halves of the thing's body.

Amber and Marie could make it to the exit, but V and Sammy were trapped.

The mechanical dragon smiled, a maze of serrated points of scrap doubling for teeth. It had too many 'teeth'.
As all four girls scrambled around to pick up a weapon— anything!— the thing leaned its head forward, looking at the two girls as if trying to decide which was the tastiest.


Behind the thing, Marie had found the laser cannon the Obelisk was using. She hefted it and took aim, lines of light appearing around the cannon's mouth.
Then, she fired; the shot went into the thing's frame, rattling a number of parts. However, the blast was diffused, caterpillars of light skittering off in different directions in the crazy-quilt of the thing's internal workings.


In front of the beast, V and Sammy's luck was slowly draining away. The thing had tried jabbing with its head, and shooting its claws. The two had dodged every time. Sammy had even had the presence of mind to throw a few of the surviving explosive weapons into the claw housings when they extended. Both front claws were now scrap. However, the thing wasn't done yet, and the walls of fire still burned.
Taking air in in a breath from makeshift intake vents, the thing breathed fire at the pair, taking its time, slowly raking the area from right to left. There would be no escape.
V and Sammy ran, but it was a choice between either a stream of fire or a wall of it.
In desperation, V closed her eyes, pushed Sammy behind her, and held the right-hand surface of her trench coat out, like a wing.
The fire splashed.

Sammy stared. "Your coat's fireproof?!" she said.
The area that had been hit smoldered, but stopped just short of burning. "Sorta," V said. "I don't think it can do that again."

Flustered, the pair looked around for more weapons of their own.


Back behind the thing, Marie had tried several devices without much success. Finally, Amber had a brainwave.

"Look," she said, "we don't have to destroy this thing. It can't get through the archway. If we can all get through that, we're safe."

"And Sammy and V?" Marie asked.

"That's the thing. We don't need something to damage the dragon, we need something to put out the fire!"

Firelight dawned on Marie's face. Then, she started searching for something.
"I'm sure I saw a multigun in here somewhere. It's got a fire extinguisher attachment, I'm sure of it. We can use it—"

While Marie began frantically looking, Amber got the heavy-duty silver fire extinguisher located, quite prominently, to the side of the entry archway. Mads!


Seeing that its fire attack had somehow been ineffective, the dragon changed tactics. With its long neck, it began snapping its head out at the two girls, jaw working furiously. It was all Sammy and V could do to dodge.

To the pair's right, the flames fizzled as Amber let loose with the fire extinguisher. "Come on!" she yelled.

The dragon turned its head towards her, and that was all the distraction V and Sammy needed. The two ran, pushing themselves to their utmost as they jumped through the gap in the flames and ran, with Amber, towards the exit.

Marie, still searching, looked up to see the pair rescued. She started for the exit herself.
With a snort, the dragon turned its body, moving so it was facing towards the exit... blocking Marie's path there with its giant neck.
Marie, having just picked up something that was probably the multigun she was seeking, muttered to herself, "Oh #$&#...."

Then, she fired. The first shot, an energy beam, bounced off the thing's hide. However, the second shot, a massive steel rod, pierced the creature's obsidian eye.
The thing let off one more of its ear-breaking screams, flailing for a few seconds and spraying flame in all directions, as Marie discarded the gun and scrambled for the exit with the others.

As the girls ran, the dragon roared, enraged. Ignoring the hangings above it that its random flailing had set alight, it tried to extend its neck into the archway... and the flammable hangings fell on it, setting its insides glowing with fire. It screeched again as its parts began to glow, then burn, then melt.

And, with one final scream, the thing fell in upon itself, a blazing heap of locked metal.


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 1:09 pm 
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Sorry It's a bit long, but it's meant to be read as one whole thing.
-------------------------------------------------------------------
There was a camp. And a campfire. And as is traditional, campfire stories.
It was Axel’s idea. It generally is. Admist the idle talk and roasting of marshmallows, he perked up and suddenly said, “You know what? Let’s tell campfire stories!”
This met with mixed reactions.
“Nah. The same ones get told over and over again, and everyone knows them.”
“Aww… please?” Axel put on the puppy dog eyes and was swatted for his trouble.
“Oh, I don’t know,” said a boy sitting next to the girl who’d spoken. “We could make up our own.”
“We could do like that game where everybody takes turns saying a sentence or something and we end up with a story.”
“No, I just think everyone should take turns telling a story.”
“Nuh uh.”
Sarah sat watching the fire as the idea snowballed. Damien nudged her.
“What do you think?”
“Who’s starting?” she said.
“I think Axel should start, since he suggested it,” said the boy.
“That’s fair,” was the general consensus.

Axel drew himself up and cleared his throat dramatically. He was enjoying being the centre of attention.

“It was a hot dusty day and a man was trudging along a dirt road through an open plain. As he walked, he saw a black speck in the distance, obscured by the shimmering heatwaves. As he got closer to it it finally resolved itself into a car.
And not just any car. A sports car of indefinite make, like a Ferrari/Lambourghini hybrid, sleek black and totally awesome. The kind of car on a poster stuck to a boy racer’s ceiling. But I digess.
Anyway, this man, being a bit of a theif, broke into the car using a coil of wire and some tongs and proceeded to drive it along the dusty road. Thoroughly enjoying himself, too.
After about fifty kilometers strange knocking noises started coming from the engine. He pulled over, got out, shut the door, and walked over to the bonnet and lifted it, leaning in to see what was wrong…”

BANG! Axel laughed. The girl jumped and was extremely cross about it.

“The only thing they ever found,” he said, trying to be spooky, but coming off as cheesy, “was his headless body. Dunh dunh duhnnnnn! Who’s next?.” He grinned at the others.

“How about we go anti-clockwise?” said the girl, motioning the direction with a finger.
The person sitting to the right of Axel vehemently objected, citing “creative sterility.”
Other excuses from the group at large included “writer’s block” to “bad fan fic writer”.

“I guess it’s clockwise then,” said Sarah, nudging Damien, who had been engaged in getting a marshmallow just right.
“Huh?Wha-? Oh come on.”
“Everybody’s gotta do one, you might as well get it over with.”
“I’m hopeless at just making stuff up like that.”
“I did it,” said Axel “Do it! Do it! Do it!”
“You’ve told us that story a million times!”
“But I did make it up!”
“He has you there,” said Sarah.
“Rrrgh. Fine,” sighed Damien. “This is completely on the fly, so it might not be any good, okay?”

“Once there were ways of making gods. Those secrets are now lost. This is why.
The idea came to someone in, appropriately, a dream. The dreamer realized that most of what a person believes to be true is what they have been told or read, but not experienced. Even if a piece of information, once getting past a person’s internal spam filter, is actually false, that does not matter because the person will see it as fact. And will act as if it is fact, because according to them, it is. Barring evidence to the contrary, they will continue to act so, until it becomes an integral part of who they are. Once that happens, opposing evidence will be likely challenged, ignored or explained away. The person will actively seek out evidence for this fact, and pass it on to others. This will happen whether it is true or false.
And eventually it will be true. Because enough see it as true.

(“This isn’t a story!” complained Axel.
“Shut up. I can stop right here if you want.”)

This man acted according to his own idea, telling everyone he met about it. This idea of ideas became widespread. It made sense. And people saw a way to harness it.

The creation of gods.

Of course, it’s kind of hard to pull one of these out of wholecloth. People will have differing ideas on what it looks like, for one thing, which is annoying when you need people to be thinking of the same thing at the same time. So a focus is needed. One object, shown to all, who then has the desired divine attributes tacked onto them, until enough people believe in these and them for the person to actually gain these attributes. Usually a person – they are easier to control. Then they can be put to work.

Many great things were made that way.

Of course, there was a great amount of one-up-manship going on. Then someone else entirely, for the dreamer was long dead, had a third idea. What about a god of gods? Linked to every one of them, with every one of their attributes. Controlled by them. And so they started work with this in mind.

(“Axel, get out of that bag of marshmallows.”
“Mmph mhp mnph?”)

Nobody knows exactly what happened the day that it was complete. The people closest to the epicenter vanished , having never existed. Those slightly further out were completely obliterated. For a large radius around the temple, many just died, their lives snuffed out. Those people were the fortunate ones. Some burned, some turned inside out, some put down roots. A man had his organs turned to glass and his skin to metal. All over that world, people died in horrible and excruciating ways. No one was left.

It’s a constant of the universe that energy cannot be destroyed. A wave of it spread across the universe, changing its denizens in subtle ways. The wave didn’t stop there. It swept through the void and into other dimensions, eventually dissipating. Nothing remained of the idea that killed itself.”

Damien stopped. Everyone was staring at him in various states of stunned. The only sound was the wrinkling of wrappers as Axel filched marshmallows and stuck them on a sixteen pronged stick. He coughed, embarrassed.
“Was there a point to that?” asked the boy.
“It must be weird inside your head,” said the girl.
“Hey!” said Damien.”You wanted a completely made up , spur of the moment story. There you go. One complete fabrication.”
“With maybe juuuust a grain of truth, eh, Damien?” grinned Sarah. He shushed her.
“That wasn’t a story! It was just a rant covered in horribleness!”
“It didn’t even end right!”
“I’d like to see you do better!” yelled Damien.
“I’ll do better. It’s my turn,” said Sarah.
She waited ‘till everyone was quiet. Then she began.

“It was a night like this one, at a campfire like this one, except you could see the stars because it wasn’t cloudy like it is now. And the group around it was doing what we are doing now, telling stories.”

She picked up a stick and began idly drawing in the ground with it.

“It was the turn of a black haired boy to speak. I remember his story, because it was interesting. He said: “One day, I was at the library when I saw a door, normally locked, that had been left open by mistake. So of course I went in. There was nothing that I expected, no treasure, no rare manuscripts. Just row upon row of boxes and files. One box caught my eye because there was a sticker on it saying “To be burned”, and it obviously hadn’t. There was no one there, so I took the box off the shelf and looked inside. There was just a book, titled The Short Stories of - , with the name scribbled over with black marker. The publisher and the author’s names were crossed out too. I took the book, put the box back, and smuggled it out of the library in my coat jacket.
When I was home, I read it. It was exactly what it said on the cover, a collection of short stories. A foreword explained that they were written by a well known writer who had been strangled to death. No one ever found out who did it, because the marks on her throat were not made by hands or any type of rope or wire. Her family had sent all her unpublished work to her publishers, asking them to make one last book. They agreed. Someone was assigned to go through all the scraps of paper and collate them into something cohesive. The foreword was written by that someone.
So I started to read. The stories were engaging and entertaining. Here and there were footnotes by the editor, talking about changes made or aspects of the author’s life that might have influenced the pieces. Stuff like that.
After a while, however, I started to notice something. The tone of the stories started getting more serious. They started to get darker and more disturbing. Some of them brought tears to my eyes, and others made me want to hide. But I kept reading. The grammar and spelling got worse and worse. Sentences would be repeated. Sometimes nonsensical words or phrases would appear in the text where they didn’t belong. The person writing the footnotes appeared to start sharing my concerns. One disturbing page had, as a footnote, a sentence or two saying that it had apparently been written in something like coffee, with coffee stains on the page. Because no one would write in blood. Would they?
I still kept reading. Even as the repetitions of strange words and phrases became more frequent. Even after the page that had nothing on it except the words “Let me go.” over and over again. Even after the page that apparently had been ripped and mauled until only bits of the writing were visible.
The worst part was that this started to affect whoever was writing the footnotes. They too became more and more incoherent. Strange colours and fonts appeared. I was getting seriously creeped out.
I never finished the book. I dread to think of what might have happened if I had. The last straw was a page with “The words are escaping.” repeated on it. I turned the page. The opposite side of the leaf had nothing but “You’re reading them right now.” in large letters on it.
I threw the book at the wall. It hit it and then slowly slid to the ground like a dead thing.
A few papers fell out of the back. One stated the death of an employee of a publishing firm, with unknown causes. Another was a newspaper clipping of a publishing firm that had burned to the ground. Several people had been inside at the time. Most had died, of smoke inhalation. The third and last was a copy of an email sent to all libraries and bookstores who had copies or a copy of the book who had been waiting for the release date, asking them to burn it. So that’s what I did. It wasn’t easy. But I did it.”

The boy with black hair paused for a second, seeming to stare at nothing as if seeing something, then laughed eerily.

“You know the funny thing?” he said. “You’re listening to this right now.””

Sarah looked up from what she had been drawing.

“And you know the funny thing?” she said. “You’re reading this right now.”

She stepped aside to show her drawing. Everyone looked at it, and everyone read:

The Words Are Escaping.

No more stories were told that night.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_________________
In other words, he'll look like he was thrown into a rummage sale at high speed and came out wearing whatever stuck, because to him, "hero" means "costume" and "costume" means "dressup" and "dressup" means "whatever the hell I want".
------
"The only difference between genius and madness is the success rate." - White Wolf Forums


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:52 am 
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I liked your story Sarah. I doubt I can match the deep thinkingness (made up word I know but it fits!) and eeriness of it in this one. I was kinda saving something similar to this for in game but since I needed to drop out for my own sake and everyone else, I guess I might as well tell it here.


I Know You


Lab accidents happen all the time. Mix the wrong chemicals or cross the wrong wires or even push the wrong button at the wrong time can be painful on the best of days. It matters little on how it happens if death is the result. After such an accident, which ended with a flash of light and an explosion, I found myself laying on the grass at a park. The clouds were drifting lazily across the sky. The warm rays of the sun was offset by a slight breeze. I propped myself up and looked around.

The park was of a typical suburban park. A jungle gym with a swing set in the middle of a fairly largish sand pit. Trees dotted the landscape and the sound of passing cars can be heard in the distance. Adults and children alike were having fun and enjoying themselves. The park was very familiar, it was the park our family visited a lot when I was still living with them. I looked over myself to make sure I was still ok, and found out I was in my 8 year body. I was a little girl again.

Not too far from me was my parents sitting on a picnic blanket. mom was nursing little Frank and Marison. Frank is only 3 years old and Marison is barely a year old. I speculated about how much trouble they would be when they grow up. My parents have been telling me how important it is to share my toys with my younger siblings. As long as they don't break my barbie collection I can handle that.

Quickly becoming bored I got up and told my parents I was going to the playground. With blessing of being careful and be safe from my parents I headed for the sandpit. The boys tended to think I was slow or unable to keep up with them due to me being a girl in a skirt but I usually proved them wrong. And today was no different with a game of tag.

On a beach at the edge of the pit and out of the way sat an old woman who kept staring at me all the time I was playing. I would have paid not too much attention if the woman had not looked familiar to me. She looked like my great great grandmother but closer. I stopped and stared back at her, trying to figure out why I get the feeling I know her from somewhere.

She beckoned me over with the hand and I complied. Warnings about talking to strangers did come to mind but she didn't seem like a stranger. "You don't belong here Urza." The old woman said. "It is selfish of you to stay here."

"I can be here if I want to." I replied. Not fully sure what she meant by that or by what I meant.

The old woman shook her head. "I deserve to live too."

"It isn't your life. It is mine. I can do whatever I want to do with it." (What did I mean by that? Of course it is my life.)

"No Urza. It is mine. I am just lending it out to you."

"You can't lend to me what is already mine to do what I please." I retorted. Part of my mind was wondering how she knew my name.

The old woman started to grow angry. She looked a bit scary when angry. "Now look here young girl. If it wasn't for me you would be nothing. Your life would have no meaning. No goals. Nothing." She waggled her finger at me.

I smacked the finger away, getting mad myself. "And without me you would never exist!" (which didn't make sense considering I was 8 and she was a very old woman.)

The old woman stopped at this, taking it into consideration. Eventually she said in a much calmer voice. "You have too much will to live. I still have too much will to live. But remember you are setting the foundation. But you are using the time that I gave up for you. Let me life. Don't cast me away." The park started to fade away into emptiness. But the old woman and I remained. The old woman smiled. "I have invested a lot of time into you. Don't let it go to waste ok." Then she leaned in and whispered something to me.

The old woman started to fade away as well. I was becoming aware of the aches of my body. My 24 year old body. I opened my eyes to the sight of the ruined experiment that went wrong. I ached all over from being slammed into a device that was thankfully had no long sharp edges. My ears were ringing from the explosion. I saw Hawk untangling himself from some debris and rushing over to me to make sure I was ok. The old woman's last words came to mind as Hawk helped me up. "And don't wait forever either."


Last edited by Hawkwolf on Wed Feb 16, 2011 1:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:13 pm 
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Enigmatic and mysterious. I liked it.
...
I just reread my story and got a mental image of Andrew Tinker doing a spit take for some reason.

_________________
In other words, he'll look like he was thrown into a rummage sale at high speed and came out wearing whatever stuck, because to him, "hero" means "costume" and "costume" means "dressup" and "dressup" means "whatever the hell I want".
------
"The only difference between genius and madness is the success rate." - White Wolf Forums


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:41 pm 
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Foigran: Oh yes, that'd freak Tinker out. *grin, getting a bit close for comfort* Now, where is this book now?

Author: Foigran, leave the new girl alone or I'll let The Steve stick you in the carebear dimension again.

Foigran: Hate.

Joe: *@Damien* That's actually not too far off in some cases. I think you caught an echo...

_________________
"When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk" -Tuco, The Good the Bad and the Ugly

10 ghost tackles.

DOOM! and DR.KINESTRO! are both trademarks of the Kinestro co. and are not to be used, displayed, shouted, written, or thought without express permission of the Kinestro co. Perpetrators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, then dealt with personally by DR.KINESTRO!(tm).


Last edited by Demothesis on Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:52 pm 
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Damien: Well, it is partly based on when some people decided to [SPOILER ALERT]
What?
Writer: Sorry, but as that's part of your backstory, I can't let you reveal it now.
Sarah: Told you so.

_________________
In other words, he'll look like he was thrown into a rummage sale at high speed and came out wearing whatever stuck, because to him, "hero" means "costume" and "costume" means "dressup" and "dressup" means "whatever the hell I want".
------
"The only difference between genius and madness is the success rate." - White Wolf Forums


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:04 pm 
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spoilers? heh, you should check out chat some time, you'd be surprised at some of the ideas that originate/get exposed there. And if what I'm picking up on from that story is right, we might have some similar ideas.

Joe:*pokes Damien* You wouldn't happen to know any ancient Sumerians would you?

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"When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk" -Tuco, The Good the Bad and the Ugly

10 ghost tackles.

DOOM! and DR.KINESTRO! are both trademarks of the Kinestro co. and are not to be used, displayed, shouted, written, or thought without express permission of the Kinestro co. Perpetrators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, then dealt with personally by DR.KINESTRO!(tm).


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:21 pm 
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Things do tend to snowball, oh indeedy yes. Welcome Sarah and Rumor! I'm having fun reading your stuff.

_________________
.. not how Science works, love. 1st, you build the machine, then it tells you what it's for.
Do you think I had the 1st idea what a squidhole was when I invented it? Certainly not! I was just messing about! That's when the very best & very Maddest Science gets done. I thought,Why, this alabaster octopus looks like it wants a nice transmission inside it,& fairly soon I had a thing that obviously had a Use, though what that Use could be was a total mystery.
(Sameness Engine) I haven't the 1st notion of what it's for! That's not why I made it-I made it for the sheer joy of making something new! It's getting up to tell me what it wants me to do, though, I can just feel it. It's been giggling a lot at night.
The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland
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 Post subject: Re: The Perfects Return!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 7:39 pm 
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The Perfects - Story 3: Heist {part 13}

Getting out of the museum was easy, after the excitement. They only had one more hurdle to overtake.

Coming down the grand staircase, all four girls' respective attentions focused on the giant stone statue of Kali.
It was there, as they had expected.
It was alive, as they had expected.

It, however, was not going anywhere, due to the thick lengths of steel cable the girls had brought with them— cables with which they had tied up the statue before they did almost anything else.
The statue's face was open in a glare. All ten weapons lay on the dais around it, as it struggled, unsuccessfully, to get free... just as they had expected.

Amber couldn't resist thumbing her nose at the statue as the group passed. The living stone responded in kind, all ten arms forming rude gestures.
Marie took the opportunity to write a few of the more esoteric ones down.

Then, with care, Samantha and Marie slipped the museum's great door open once again. Erica said in the group's ears, "I'll get this so that the security system comes back online a few minutes after you're all out of there."

"Okay, sounds good," V replied.

Vanessa emerged from the darkness once all four were outside. As Marie softly closed and locked the doors, Vanessa called Helen.

"They're outside the museum. C'mon."
"Got it."

After Helen emerged, the call came from the lair.
"You made it out alive?"

"I'm supposed to be the smartass here, Evelyn," Sammy said.

Re-deploying their hoverdiscs, all six headed back for the lair. When they got there, not much occurred; the girls placed their headsets to recharge, and headed for their respective houses. It would be a wonder as to how they would get enough sleep as it was.

The rest would have to wait, for tomorrow.

~~~

The next day, the newspaper headlines screamed.
"PHANTOM THIEF STRIKES AGAIN
RETURNS WHAT HE STOLE,"
Amber read off, talking to V on her cell phone. "How do they know the Phantom Thief isn't a she or something?"

"No idea. You know about as much as I do," said V. Amber was pretty sure she could hear a smirk in V's voice. Or maybe it was her imagination. V wasn't really the type to do sarcasm very often.

At school that day, Amber was floating on air. She wasn't the only one. Things just seemed to go... right for her.
No, not right. Perfect.
Helen and the rest were feeling the same way. They swaggered through the halls (Helen had reshuffled her wardrobe, as if for the occasion), at their most polished in appearance (and their most practiced in condescension). Their heart pins gleamed fashionably as they moved from class to class. The Angels (what there was of them) kept out of the girls' way. In the halls, the tides of rumor rose and fell to the Perfects' whim.

It's entirely possible that one or two of them might have even learned something in their classes that day.

After school, however, the Perfects gathered together in a group, heading for one place.
They had a duty to their own.

~~~
Xyon City Central Hospital
General Injury Building


The girls crowded around Nicole as she lay, her leg immobilized, in her hospital bed. The bone had taken severe trauma; Nicole's leg was broken in pieces, and even those pieces had come incredibly close to shattering. Even with Mad healing technology speeding her recovery, it would be a week or two before she could walk with a cast.

V, upon seeing her, took off her dark glasses, blinking for a second at the brightness. Then, she looked straight at Nicole.
"Good news," she said, as if unsure what else to tell. "We... made it. But Helen's dad made us return it, so we had to go back... and we did. And it's over."

Evelyn spoke up. "We'll be glad to have you back, when you're healed and you're ready. And...." She leaned over to hug Nicole, gently, making sure not to touch the affected leg.
"I'm... we're... glad you're healing."

Marie and Sammy pushed through to Nicole's bedside. "We made you a card!" they said. Inside was a photo of Nicole dancing with the rest of the group members, to some sort of music video playing on the computer. All looked like they were having fun. The card read "GET WELL SOON!" beneath the image.

Vanessa added, from the center of the group, "It'll be great to see you back up again soon. I love it when you do that sweetness-and-light act you're good at. Gets 'em every time..."
Erica pointed out, "It's not like you aren't acting yourself, Vanessa. You just have a differemt image to project."

Amber gave Nicole a photo of the smashed warlord statue. She smiled.

Finally, Helen had moved to the forefront. She stood over Nicole, confident, friendly... and said, "Thanks."


Sammy couldn't resist adding, "Yeah! When you're back walking again and you can get into the 'clubhouse', we'll tell you all about what happened in detail. You'll... well, it's one heck of tale, let's leave it at that."

Nicole grimaced for a second, and not from the pain.
"Um... about that."
She paused, ensuring everyone was listening.
"While I was lying here... I kind of had a- a revelation. I'm not cut out for this."
She paused again, gathering her thoughts.
"Being all evil and all was fun. And pretending. And everything. But... I just realized, all of a sudden. What's it all about? Is this it? Do I stay the sweet evil girl, all the rest of high school? And then college? And what happens when I get older?
It's... it's nothing personal, understand. But... I did realize. I need to concentrate on my future. If I worked a bit harder— honestly, that is— if I could see the path ahead of me clearly without having to wonder about its righteousness— if I really was sweet all the time instead of pretending...
I'm getting out while I still can. I— I— I've had some really fun times here, and all, but..."
Nicole paused again, to collect herself. Her eyes were moist.
"And— and you've all been really, really great friends. But... I... just... can't... I can't. I can't do this any more.
Not any more.

I... want... I'm going to..."
She sat up slightly, wincing. Her face showed a steelclad determination, mixed with a terrible sadness.
"...I have to leave the Perfects."
She raised a hand, blocking the exclamations that were sure to come.
"Don't get me wrong. I don't... not want to be friends any more. I... just...."
Unable to stand it any further, Nicole broke down in tears.


Helen Gamma Narbon moved beside her, towering over her as she stood straight, expression blank.
Then, as emotion started to write itself onto her face, she knelt beside Nicole's bedside, holding her hand. For just a second, it seemed as if Helen's eyes were touched with light; then, her gaze matched itself with Nicole's.

"It's okay," she said, in the tones of one making a promise. "You will always be our friend."

With care, she, too hugged Nicole. "I understand," she said. "Some people just find this... this life not to their taste. So to speak. We'll protect you as if you were one of our own, all the rest of high school. And... well...

good luck."

With care, she rose. Spontaneously, Marie moved close, knelt beside Nicole's bed and hugged her, too. The others followed.

"Good luck, Nicole," said Marie, "and if you ever need help with Mad stuff, you know where to find me."

"Just tell me that you're not doing it to get away from my jokes," Sammy said as she knelt. "Just kidding!"

Evelyn had already hugged Nicole, so she held her hand. "We'll miss you," she said.

Erica knelt and looked at Nicole, instead. "If you develop a sudden interest in computers, the computer club's always open. I know you've got the wits for it," she said.

Vanessa squatted by the bedside and put her arm around Nicole's shoulder. "Just remember: It's not just the mind, or the body that counts. It's what you do with both together."
Sammy almost spoke up, but a glare from Helen silenced her.
Vanessa continued, "Oh, and if you cut your hair a bit shorter, it'll play right into the 'girl-with-glasses' look. Boys love that sort of thing."

V knelt, her black coat falling around her in an arc. "Remember," she said. "I know I look all tough, but... no, that's not right. It's sort of like... just remember: if you have some problem you can't solve, come to me. I'll help. I can always help."

That left Amber. She stared at Nicole. What was there left to say?
As she moved in close, she thought about the events of the past week. About the museum. And the Amulet. And the Perfects, and the Angels, and everything that had happened up to then, and before.

Finally, she reached the side of the hospital bed. Kneeling, she held Nicole's hand, looking at her.
"Nothing lasts forever. Not the damage to your leg, not relics of the past... not even high school. I... guess you have to do what you can while you've got the time... maybe that's what you realized. I don't know. I just... well, like Helen said: good luck.

Oh, and I still owe you for the help with the math test."

As Nicole nodded, saying, "See you," Amber got to her feet. No one's eyes were completely dry now. Helen began to intone something that sounded like a speech.

"Be it here known
that we, the Perfects
count you, having been one of us
to be apart from us in what is seen
but to be still together in spirit.

Uh, yeah, or something like that," she said. Helen Gamma Narbon, the cool, unshakeable leader of the Perfects, was blushing.

Then, slowly, all 8 girls began to file out, slowly, waving goodbye as Nicole waved, a peaceful smile showing beneath her tears.

~~~
EPILOGUE
~~~


~~~
1
~~~


Several Days Later
The Perfects' Lair


"So, the museum doesn't suspect anything?" asked V, mildly incredulous.
"Nope! Even Dad hasn't guessed (or doesn't want to mention, more likely) that the one we brought back was a fake," said Helen. The plan had gone perfectly. Helen had explained the idea to everyone while they were having waffles, now almost a week ago.

Quote:
"Then, on Tuesday, we get ready and do it," Helen said. "Exactly what we're doing depends on what we discover. Maybe day's better, maybe not. Still, we get in, replace the Amulet, and get out. And that's it.
Sound OK?"

Everyone nodded.

Helen looked at the Perfects, seated around the table.
"There's one more little wrinkle to the whole business," she said. "Just suppose, for a second, that we only follow Dad's instructions... most of the way?"

"What do you mean?" said Evelyn.

"Here's an idea. Suppose, just for a second again, that we had a copy of the Amulet. One that looked perfectly identical."

"And...?" said V, her attention suddenly focused, quite completely, on Helen.

"Now, suppose, that when we went back, we returned the copy instead of the original. Then, we'd have the real Amulet... and we'd have gotten away with it!"

"Wait," said Amber. "Does that mean we'd have to fight stuff on our way out again?"

"Hopefully not. But, I think if we could pull it off..."

General clamor and argument, which continued for only a minute (until Sammy pointed out that everyone's waffles were getting cold). Then, a vote was taken. The result was in favor of the plan.

It would be time to see if it would work.



"So now, we're just waiting on our 'buyer'," Helen explained. "I sent him the molecular scan data for the Amulet, so we should be getting a response back from him soon.

"How is it that you know this guy?" Vanessa asked.

"I don't," Helen explained. "My mom does— I just know where to find mom's secret address book. Now, hold on a sec while I go check to see if the response is in."

Cell phones didn't work in the lair. When the girls were inside, they were pretty much off the map. Helen ducked out the door for a few seconds.

When she returned, there was a grin on her face. "He sent back a message!"
All the Perfects gathered around the table. Then, Helen opened and read it.

"Thank you for your interest... blah blah blah... man, this guy's pretty wordy for a text message... yeah... uh-huh.... ... ... .. .. . . . regret to inform it's a REPLICA?!"

The choruses of "WHAT?" from around the table were immediate. Sammy spoke up.
"Okay. As my mom says sometimes, let's think about this.

1) The Amulets got mixed up, and the museum has the real one. We all saw you swap the real and the copy, so I don't think this is it. Still, it is possible.

2) The Amulet in the museum wasn't real to begin with. This doesn't explain all the weird goings on both times, though. The exhibits coming alive, especially the first time.

3) The Amulet itself... did something. Maybe the exhibits coming alive was only the first trick up its sleeve. Er, edge."

She paused, then shrugged.
"That's all I can think of. Anyways, I think the gist of it is, it's gone, and we're probably not getting it back."

V said, "You know... it occurs to me that that might be a good thing. Let's just... be done with the thing. I know I've been turned off of museums in general. Aside from visiting to look at the items in the proper way, that is."

Evelyn said, "And, maybe we can actually write that article for our school paper."

Marie added, "Besides, it's only a few weeks away from October 31! The school Halloween party! I asked Amber, and she says that almost none of you are even thinking about costumes yet!"


Apart from Sammy, ("Maybe we were too busy thinking about amulets?") everybody suddenly sat up, alert. Marie had made a very good point.
They had let the stream of events in Bradford B. Pesta High School run unattended for too long.
It was time for the Perfects to return to their original purpose.

Soon, the girls were in a huddle, discussing their costumes... and brainstorming ideas for what sort of sneakiness they could get in under cover of them.

The Perfects were back.
Look out, world high school....


~~~
2
~~~


Amber's House

Later, when she was alone, Amber dug carefully through her dresser, looking behind each drawer. Finally, she found the flat device that she had bought at the MegaMall.
It was a safe, its normal thickness scientifically compressed to the width of a sheet of paper.

Amber smiled as she entered the combination to the safe. The idea hadn't come to her until she was exploring the Perfects' lair by flashlight, and had seen the replica Amulet. It was the work of a moment to swap the real for the replica; later that day, when Helen had swapped the two, Amber had recovered the real one. On Monday, with the aid of a light dose of infrasound, Amber made sure that she would be the one to carry it back to the museum. Then, the final matter that remained was finding a second replica, to replace in the exhibit— while the real one remained, tucked away in....

Amber smiled, as she finished the last digits of the combination. Opening the safe, she gazed down at her prize: the real Amulet of Yendor, laying there, glowing slightly like it always did these days.

Amber smiled, closed the safe, and stowed it back behind the drawers of her dresser, giggling to herself. It was comforting to think that the full might of the Perfects had been outmaneuvered by one clever teenage girl.
One clever, evil teenage girl.

Heh. Heh. Heh.



~~~
3
~~~


The hospital late at night was a spooky place. There was little activity in this area. Patients were mostly resting, letting their bodies continue what the doctors and nurses had begun.
Nicole was following the trend, asleep on her back, her leg held soft and silently. Still, in the darkened room, a shadow— then two— then three— loomed over her unconscious silhouette.

Voices began discussing, softly, careful not to wake the girl in the bed or let the staff know they were there.

"So, she's left the group?"

"Yes. She'll probably find a place hanging around other unaffiliated, according to my predictions."

"So. Down to eight members, then. They're too tight-knit to be infiltrated, so our options are limited."

"Hmmm... I got it! We could try to turn them against each other. That's an old standby."

"Or we could attempt to recruit one of the members who is more vulnerable or strained. The question is, who?"

"And that is why I had you bring all this stuff here tonight."

{music}

"You aren't thinking—"

"This girl was once a member of the Perfects. She knows the relationships between the group. She's not of any use as a tool, but as a source of information, she's brilliant."

"But, how do you intend to get her to talk to you? She does know who you are. She's not exactly just going to up and spill the beans."

The first girl smirked in the shadowed darkness. "Oh, that's not a problem. We'll get the information out of her."

She held out a hand. A device was placed into it.

"One way... or the other."

And Kimberly, standing above the peacefully unaware Nicole, smiled...



The End?


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 1:32 pm 
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Damien: I'm not that old!
Axel: Really? Cos you sure act like it.
*Damien thwaps Axel*

It will be interesting to see how the stories dovetail, though.

_________________
In other words, he'll look like he was thrown into a rummage sale at high speed and came out wearing whatever stuck, because to him, "hero" means "costume" and "costume" means "dressup" and "dressup" means "whatever the hell I want".
------
"The only difference between genius and madness is the success rate." - White Wolf Forums


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:06 pm 
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Posts: 618
Location: Two steps ahead of you
Heh, that it will be. Of course it'll be a while in coming since that'll be the second chapter that I run and we're still a couple of chapters from my first.

_________________
"When you have to shoot, shoot, don’t talk" -Tuco, The Good the Bad and the Ugly

10 ghost tackles.

DOOM! and DR.KINESTRO! are both trademarks of the Kinestro co. and are not to be used, displayed, shouted, written, or thought without express permission of the Kinestro co. Perpetrators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, then dealt with personally by DR.KINESTRO!(tm).


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:29 am 
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Posts: 473
It has been a while since I have done one of these but I feel like it is time. How do I writer these? Pick a location and situation and literally go from there. SET! somewhere in the deep and unexplored part of Africa that there is so many stories about.... but in an airship! SITUATION! Our intrepid so called heroes are asked to come along the famous explorer/scientist Dr. Iwouldntgothereifiwasyou or Dr. Talliho for short. So sit back and listen to another story brought to you by the RadioPlay Crew.



High Air Adventure Part 1


Excitement! Adventure! Romance! Well two out of three ain't bad right? Welcome to another airing of... ANOTHER DAY AT THE LAB!

Where we last left our loosely termed heroes on on the the D.F.S. Titan's Thunder. A Derigible owned by the famous (Only on the Eastern mainland of Eurobosia) Dr. Talliho who has managed to trick convince our two heroes to join him in his quest for the ancient and lost city of Ion somewhere deep in the heart of Africa. Right next to the place where time forgot and multiple of other lost civilizations. Now to join our "heroes"



Do we need to be here in the open air with little support to look for this supposed lost city with these outdated spyglasses? Although I do have to admit it does fit well with the uniforms you gave Dr. Talliho. I feel like a REAL adventurer! No no Dr. Talliho, I didn't mean to imply you are not a real adventurer. Just saying it is nice to look the part. And you don't need to bring up your manly mustache again either. I know I can't grow one like you but you don't have to keep shoving it in my face.

Froooomp! What was that? Felt like something hit us. Look Dr. Talliho, we are starting to loose altitude! Quick! We need to check for holes.... I really meant from inside the airship. You know where it is safer and less windy? Just because Miss Clay is willing to climbing on the outside of the airship, does not mean I am!.... Don't you dare use that card Dr. Talliho! Gah fine! I will go with you two. Just give me my gear and I will be ready. Wait what do you mean 'what gear?' The one for climbing on the outside of the ship? No riggings on the outside does not count as gear.

You sure you really want to do this Miss Clay? Miss Clay? Wasn't she here a moment ago? Wait there she is! And it looks like.... a tentacle dragging her out? Where did that come from? Don't worry Miss Clay I am coming!




Where indeed did that tentacle come from? What kind of insidious creature could be assaulting the dirigible as we speak?! Are we going too far with the image of a female being dragged away by a tentacle into parts unknown? Tune your aether waves next week to another intense thrilling episode of.... ANOTHER DAY AT THE LAB!


Disclaimer: No actually tentacle monsters was used in the production of this radio play. However an intern is in the hospital due to an attempt to 'enhance the experience' for the female role. No charges will be pressed against Tabitha who happens to be a black belt in Karate.


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:37 am 
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I am starting a New tradition for me! Well not really just renaming it. From weird nights to SICK NIGHTS!
Keep your socks on folks, unless you like wearing shoes without them....



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"When are you going to make up your mind?"
"As soon as I find the brain cosmetic set."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If literalists took over the world:

-Everyone is expected to be a Timelord for all the seconds and minutes a person asks for.
-Restrooms would have a bed for rest.
-duct tapes would have to be redesigned to tape ducts
-Controversially they could also make a duck made of tape
-The right to bear arms will be reinterpreted to keep arms bare at all times. AS a result people in cold climate have increased rate of frost bite in the arm regions as a result.
-A weather machine would be invented to keep the pacific ocean calm and peaceful as the name suggests.
-Birthdays would be renamed "yearly celebration of the day you were legally born."


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The real reason why medicine given from your parents taste bad? It is to Encourage you to get better faster.



The difference between a delusion and a daydream is what you make of it. So please put down those soap filled pantyhose's and step off the roof Mr. Anderson.



Ha! I got the perfect plan to get these drugs past the border guards. We just shoot them over in a catapult! They will NEVER see it coming! Mwahahahahaha! (Note: Having an evil laugh does not make your plan perfect, but it sure makes it fun!)



And remember kids, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, unless you got DNA seeking bullets. Then it is worth a million in the bush!


When your left hand is keeping secrets from your right hand you got to ask yourself. How did you get the short end of the stick by being in the middle?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ok the internet has Chuck Norris to be the end of all things if you belive all the things they say about him. I say we need a mad scientist Equivalent! May I suggest Dr. Vortex?


Dr. Vortex does not wait for lighting to strike, he stares at the clouds until a bolts falls out dead.
One of Dr. Vortex doodles on an napkin is the reason why Frankenstein went mad.



you get the idea right?


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:39 pm 
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Location: Xyon City
Sarah was playing with a toy on the floor. Dad had made it for her, out of wire and bottlecaps, a little mechanical knight that could walk and turn its head when you turned the crankshaft. Dad and Mum were talking in the next room. She cocked her head to listen.
“Dear, you know your family and I don’t get along.”
“It’s only for a few days, KT. And then we can have absolutely nothing more to do with them for ten more years, eh? And we can take Sarah.”
“Are you sure? If she-“
“She’ll be fine. She’s a clever girl. And I’ll have a talk with her before we go.”
“… okay. The slightest sign of trouble and we leave.”

Her father came through the door. Sarah looked up, and ran and hugged him.

“Are you going somewhere Dad? Can I come, please?!”
“Oof! Remember Daddy’s back, poppet!” He hugged her back, then turned serious.
“Sarah, you can come with me, if you promise me a few things, okay?”
Sarah nodded, emulating his seriousness. “Okay.”
“There’ll be lots of people at the place we’re going. And some of them may not be nice to you. If they do something mean, let me know okay? I’ll stop them from doing anything after.” The last sentence was growled with a determination that implied that their inactivity would be the stillness of the dead.
“So if they ask or order you to do something that looks dangerous, you refuse. If they ask or order you to eat or drink or touch something, you say no. If they laugh at you, or make jokes, ignore them and walk away, hard as it may be. I want you to promise this for me, okay?”
Sarah nodded again. “I promise.”
“Thank you.” He tugged her pinky with his, then stood up. The atmosphere lightened.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Let’s get packed!”
Sarah ran off eagerly.

………

Sarah was at the gathering. There were indeed a lot of people. Most of them were adults, talking about boring things. There were a few kids her age, but she didn’t like the way they looked at her, so she had made a point to avoid them. She yawned, and rubbed an eye where her hair went across it. Then, as she was wont to do, she slipped away from her dad, who was talking loudly to another man, who was nodding vehemently and making agreeing noises.
After a while of aimless wandering, she came across a ladder. Climbing it, she came to a network of tunnels that eventually turned into a series of catwalks high above the main hall. A boy wearing a backpack was lying on one of them, watching the proceedings with a strange kind of bored interest, and eating potato chips. She walked over to him.

“Hello, my name’s Sarah. What are you doing?” she smiled at him.

The boy started, and very nearly fell off the platform. The chips went everywhere, some landing amusingly in the drinks of people below.

“Gah!”

He recovered himself, and sat up, looking at her suspiciously.

“I’m ‘sploring.” He folded his arms. “Got a problem with that?”

Sarah was puzzled. “No. What’s your name?”
He looked surprised. “Damien.” He said, with a mix of resignation and defiance. He watched her carefully.

Sarah held out a hand. “Pleased ta meet ya!” He shook it, looking both surprised and relieved this time.

“Sarah, right?”
“Yes.”

There was a bit of conversational deficiency.
Damien pointed a thumb over his shoulder.

“Hey, wanna explore with me? There’s a bit that can only be got to with climbing gear!”
He beamed proudly and tapped his backpack. “Which I have!”

………

“I think we’re lost.”
“Lost?”
“Yeah, I can’t ‘member which opening we’re supposed to take to get back. This is gonna be embarrassing.” He slumped.
Sarah pointed. “It’s this one. And the left, then that bendy bit, down, right, another right and we’re there.”
“How do you do that?”
“It’s just the way we came. What’s so hard about it?”
There was mutual incomprehension.
Damien reached into his bag and gave her a chocolate bar.
“What this for?”
“You can be Expeditional Mapmaster. They get an extra choccit a day.”
“Huh.”
They continued walking.

……….

When Sarah emerged back into the hall, she was practically tackled by a worried mother, who lifted her hair, checked her eyes, and basically fussed.

In the background, Damien dithered a bit at the entrance to the hall and then left.

“Are you okay? Did anything happen? You shouldn’t go just go off like that, you’ve practically given your father and I a heart attack!”

“I’m okay, mum!” whined Sarah, in the manner of kids embarrassed by their parents everywhere. “Damien didn’t do any mean things like dad said (except maybe give me a choccy bar, but I din eat it) and we explored with ropes and pitons and things and I was Expeditional Mapmaster and it was really fun!”

Her mother paused. “Damien? Damien Lux!?”

“He didn’t say his last name… why is it important?”

“It’s not sweetie. Don’t worry about it. By the way, we’re leaving now, so let’s get your stuff, okay?”

KT practically stormed off towards Sarah’s father, trailing a very confused Sarah behind her.

It was only ten years later that they found out they were cousins.

_________________
In other words, he'll look like he was thrown into a rummage sale at high speed and came out wearing whatever stuck, because to him, "hero" means "costume" and "costume" means "dressup" and "dressup" means "whatever the hell I want".
------
"The only difference between genius and madness is the success rate." - White Wolf Forums


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 1:42 am 
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Just a thought....



Centerstage.
The actors perform and the audience watch.
Poppies scatter across the stage and rolling hills behind.
Enter stage left.
The spirit of puzzlement and possibilities.
Enter stage right.
The father that never should have.
"Why art thou here?"
"Isn't my condition enough reason?"
"Your condition is of your own making. A cage you built with fear and regret."
"It is a cage I cannot escape"
"Then dream, dream of a better world. Reach and it shall be yours."
"A dream of many dreams. Where does one reality stops and another starts. What if reality is but a dream and a dream is reality?"
"All shares a reality. One shares a dream."
"My dreams, I can make them reality. What of when I force all to share a dream and only I in reality?"
"Only you can answer that."
"And I shall. Fare thee well, and may we meet again."


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 Post subject: Rocky.
PostPosted: Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:51 pm 
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...And that’s when Damien’s dad turned up. Aaaawwwwkward. Damien and his dad don’t get along. Between them there is a void of chilly silence, the starry depths of Not Talking To Each Other. And that’s an understatement. The conversation went something like this:
“Damien.”
“Cortez.”
“...”
“...”
“...”
“...why are you even here?”
“I’m your father! I need a reason?”
“Generally, you never not have one.”
“Hmmm... interesting point. Have you decided to come back yet? You’ve proven yourself able to hold the position.”
“No. I am not going to.”
“Come to the daaaark siiiiide, Damien.” Cortez wriggles his fingers in a faux spooky manner.
“That reference got old the third time.”
“It never gets old. But sure, okay.”
“Wait, what?”
“You keep saying it’s your choice, right?”
Damien gives Cortez a suspicious look. Cortez is apparently talking to the ceiling.
“It is... but usually you’re more insistent.”
“Hey, I might as well cut you a break. True, I didn’t think the “rebellious teenager” stage would last this long, but I know you eventually won’t be able to resist the power. Why rush it?”
“... you think this is a phase?!”
“Heh heh. Finally got you angry, have I?”
Damien starts to shout something, then stops and leans back in his chair.
“Stop goading me.”
Cortez raised his hands.
“You’re doing most of the work yourself. Your mother says the offer is still open, by the way... so if you ever, you know, want to see what it’s like...”
“No thanks.”
Damien sighs. “Look, you’ve basically repeated what you say every time. If there’s nothing more, I’m going to leave. Axel’s probably trying to set himself on fire again.” He turns to go.
“Ah, yes... Axel, eh? Hmm hmm hmmhmm hmm.”
Cortez sips a drink. “Neat. Brings me to why I am here: Damien, I know what you and Sarah did.”
Damien does this sort of whole-body twitch. It’s quite entertaining. He turns back again slowly.
“The family knows!?”
“We’re not stupid, Damien.”
“You? Wh-? ... Why am I still here, in the fresh air, with all my limbs attached? Why isn’t Sarah being forced to listen to feedback continuously? Why’s Axel still even alive!?”
“Well, only your mother and I know. And seeing how I destroyed what evidence I found, no one else is likely to find out.”
“That still doesn’t answer my question.”
“Huh? You think I’m...? – Oh, that’s cute. The reason, Damien, is because your solution worked.”
Damien looked at him quizzically. “What do you mean?”
“Well, he hasn’t done it again, has he?”
“Nobody’s taken Buggy away from him again. That was the trigger last time.”
“He still used to make WOMD’s every other week (Ahhh... good times, good times...). He used to like to torture people to hear them scream. On one memorable occasion, he tossed someone off a building just to see what blood looked like when it splattered. Perhaps, more tellingly, he can’t seem to make sentient AI anymore. I know you stopped things before they got too far... but...” He twisted and turned his glass back and forth, watching the light play on it. “Admit it. You’ve managed to make Villian Decay In-A-Bottle. Now he’s more likely to injure others (and himself) accidentally due to wacky hijinks rather than any malicious intent. And that helpful streak too... it’s become emphasized. And yet, he is still Axel. It’s... interesting.”
“All I used was something to suppress his spark’s “style” so the family couldn’t recognize him! I knew about the AI bit... but... it caused all that as well?”
Cortez grinned.
“That conscience of yours getting all cold prickly again? Happens a lot, does it?”
He leaned back.
“I’m exaggerating a little. Remember correlation is not proof of causation. It might just be natural personality drift due to your and Sarah’s influence. But that’s part of it. Tell me... what was the death toll?”
Damien closes his eyes. “526. All to blitz one person. 525 people who’d done nothing to him. And even a thief has family.”
“You don’t seem much to care for family.”
“I care for Sarah. And Axel’s like an annoying little brother. Of course, the rest of you can go hang.”
“Charming. Imprinted, have you?”
“I suppose...”
“Well, I’ll see if I can get him HFM status. Shouldn’t be too hard... everyone reckons he’s like the son I never had. They all quite like him.”
He dodges a punch. Damien snarls.
“Do you all watch my life for fun? Eating popcorn, betting on the outcome? Y-.”
“Hee! Quite the paranoia inducer, aren’t I? No. We respect your privacy, rude as you are. But, you know... surveillance cameras, newspapers... Axel gets everywhere, doesn’t he? And I don’t think that’s the only reason you’re angry...”
“Go away with your Mad mind games and leave me alone. I’m not playing.”
“But... come on! Hypnosis combined with medication for a similar but not the same mental disorder! Genius! I can’t believe I didn’t think of it!”
Damien snorts. “I’m more surprised that Mum didn’t think of it than you.”
“Oooh! A touch! A touch, I do declare! Finally some activity on the front! Okay, okay, so my field is neurotech. Sue me, if you please.”
“Gladly.”
“Funny, though. They do say necessity breeds invention. Perhaps no one in the family thought of it before because they didn’t have such high stakes riding on their decision?”
“It’s not perfect...” Damien muttered. “And resistance will set in eventually, unless I up the dose, and that’s dangerous.”
Cortez clapped him on the back.
“Oh, well, keep at it and all that. Let me know how the experiment goes. And your mother says she wants to see your notes when you’re done.”
“Bu- ? Notes? Experiment?! Dad, Axel’s not some kind of... of... test subject! This is a matter of life and death! His! If I don’t get it right... “
“Hey, indulge us, we’re used to thinking this way.”
“Much as I hate to say it...could you help?”
The Lux Imperative. The desire to protect family members, to help them. This manifests in different ways, but we all have it. Imprinting is when a Lux “adopts” a person as family, treating them in the same way.
Cortez looks, for the first time, serious and sorrowful.
“...no. I’m sorry. I appreciate what it takes to get you to ask but... if we’re discovered, you know what will happen. Betrayal to the family, punishable by... punishment. And you know we’re not given to the slap on the wrist type – cutting off the hand’s more our style... And I’m Head Lux. That makes it worse.”
He sighs, pinching his nose.
“When it’s complete, I can take it to the Board and present it as an alternative option, maybe even get that law revoked. But I can’t do anything that suggests I have complicity, otherwise I won’t be able to. You’re what you like best – on your own.”
Damien looks down. “Fine. You’d probably just turn Axel into a shambling monster anyway.”
Cortez lets the insult to his work pass. “What I can do is cover up what you’re already doing. Feel free to use the family bank account for any equipment you need, I’ll make sure it isn’t connected to you.”
“I don’t need the money... I just need... neuroscience... there’s not much relevant sane research on it. I’ve trawled through Mad notes before... do you have any applicable ones? That you can send to me instead of me having to walk into the Library, which may start unnecessary enquires?”
Cortez feels fired up. A challenge! And yes, he does remember before. Showed them all... sanely. Which was icing on the cake. “Hmm... Poindexter’s Untransferrable might have some good stuff in it... I’ll send you a list.”
Cortez is enjoying this. It’s the longest conversation he’s had with his son in five years! And it’s about SCIENCE!
HIS science!
Damien looks reluctantly grateful. It’s an odd expression. “Yeah... okay.”
“So, about those offers...”
The door slams shut again. “No.”
“But –“
“No.”
“Being Mad would really help with this project of yours...”
“No!”
“I wonder what your Specialty would be? I mean, your first project was genetic... like your mum, but this one is more like mine except more biologically than technologically based... and both have to do with madness... maybe you’d Specialize in study of Madness? That would be interesting, no records of anyone with that. And –“
“Okay, that’s enough.” Damien gets up and storms out.
Cortez watches him and sighs. He dials a number.
“Hey, honey. Flubbed it.”
“No, I did talk to him.”
“Yes, for more than five minutes, it was actually going really good actually, not sure what happened.”
“No, I did not tell embarrassing tales from his childhood in front of his friends.”
“Again, not sure. Taunted him a bit, complimented him on his work, hinted but not outrightly stated I’ll help, and then... Boom! Nothing!”
“I complimented him on his work!”
“Well, if that’s the case, then how should I know? I don’t have many Sane friends!”
“It’s a veto on those notes by the way.”
“Meatloaf? How about something more... romantic?”
“Well, there’s this place I know... they let you shoot the waiters for shoddy service...”
“I’ll be there at eight. Love ya, hun!”
Then he spent the next five minutes making a bomb that when exploded, would cause anyone in the immediate vincinity NOT wearing a certain device to randomly switch bodies. The party was about to get a lot more fun...

_________________
In other words, he'll look like he was thrown into a rummage sale at high speed and came out wearing whatever stuck, because to him, "hero" means "costume" and "costume" means "dressup" and "dressup" means "whatever the hell I want".
------
"The only difference between genius and madness is the success rate." - White Wolf Forums


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 3:06 am 
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Posts: 1324
Location: Behind you
Jason, the Hero of the Story
Story #1 : The Champion of Fun, or Tedd's Angels
Part 1: The Note

The town I come from is a strange one.
On the surface, there's nothing to suggest it's too out of the ordinary, with its two high schools and normal amenities. But something about it acts as a sort of haven for a low level of unusual events. Even though I've left my hometown behind as I study, here at the university in this city, pieces of it sometimes break through and follow me. So to speak. And when the message appeared on my homework paper, I didn't give it much thought. I just dialed the number, and my adventure began. And I found myself facing mad Presidents, spirits of Fun, twisted bureaucracies, and racing against incredible odds to save the happiness of a substantial portion of the world, all the while guided by a mysterious benefactor.

Just a typical adventure back in my hometown, really.


Anyway. I should probably introduce myself properly before I tell this story, instead of starting in the middle. My name's Jason. Jason Embries. And the adventure I've just been through began in college, when I wrote down the assignment for the Narrative Theory class I've been taking (it's only a few weeks before finals). My paper looked normal when I wrote it down— but when I got back to my desk, in my room, it looked a bit different.
The assignment was still there, but under it, extra writing had appeared in a strange purple ink.

Jason—

We have never met before, but I need your help. Your assistance is requested in saving humanity from a dire fate. You have been chosen for your set of skills and abilities, and I'd like your help right away.

Should you require a motive or reason based on self-interest, this will be worth substantial credit on your college grades.

When you are ready to begin, please call this number:
(958) 875-6463

Tedd


I was about the last person who you might expect to receive a letter like that. I was an ordinary college student. After staring at the letter for a few seconds, I made my decision.
I was an ordinary college student (who had a significant amount of homework due, no less). I'd been doing well in school, and didn't really need the boost of credit. The phone number was from my hometown, that hotbed of unusuality and weirdness. Someone from there would be ready to handle it. And I didn't know anyone named Tedd.

I ignored the extra writing, and got started working on the paper I had been assigned: a comparison of the effects adapting the literary technique known as the Hero's Journey for different types of fictional media.
The rest of that day was uneventful.

That night, though, everything changed.

_________________
"My conscience is feeling all prickly."
"A bit of absolute power can remedy that."
Kid Radd


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 12:00 am 
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Location: Behind you
The Champion of Fun
Part 2: Trouble


It's well-known that low-cost restaurants cluster around universities. Students do have to have some time off, after all (though I've heard from some of my friends who are majoring in math that the amount of time you spend relaxing is roughly inversely proportional to your final grade).
Me and my friends have a habit: Every Friday night, we band together into a loose group, and go do something fun. Depending on the average age level of the week's group, it might be anything from a bar to a concert to... well, you don't need me to tell you ways to have fun.

It was early twilight, and our group-for-the-week had assembled. Myself, Shannia and George (who have been a couple for some time, but don't call them 'Georgannia' unless you want to get a dope thwap— twice), Emily, and Will were all standing in front of a local theater. A new play— "The Detective, the Maharajah, and the Squid" had been running for a week or two, and people were saying it was pretty good. Now, we just had to pick up our tickets, and we'd be set. Emily had gone inside to get them; the rest of us were watching the sunset. (That, and I was trying to decide whether I should ask Emily out for Saturday— by ourselves— or to wait another week.)

And that was the moment when a nondescript gray metal box placed unobtrusively outside the theater chose to come alive.
The box began to glow, a strange gray radiance appearing around it as a 10-foot-high hologram projected from the top. The hologram displayed the most prim-looking woman you've ever seen. From slightly greying hair tied into a stiff bun, to glasses, to stern expression, to clothing not a hair out of place, the woman looked like the old cliche of the stereotypical "stern librarian". Shannia and George took a few steps backward, while Will moved in for a closer look at the box.
(All the accumulated studying for Narrative Theory had left its mark on me. A textbook-sounding voice in my head pointed out that whoever was being projected had probably arranged their appearance into a cliché on purpose.)

The woman's voice was stern as well, and commanding.
"People of this city!" she said, crossing her arms. "My name is unimportant, but I am known as The President. I have come for a singular mission.
"I do not wish to rule or govern your city, or any of the other areas that are now seeing this message. I assert jurisdiction over one thing only: all leisure activities, colloquially and collectively known as 'fun'. From now on, fun is outlawed in this area."


As the woman continued on about how fun was banned, the gray radiance was slowly expanding. When it reached Will, he turned to us, his eyes somehow dulled.
"Um... you know, guys," he said, "I'm... not really interested in this play any more, and I have got a lot of work to do... look, I've got to go."

Just like that, with a faint yell of "I'll make it up to you!" floating behind him, he was gone. And, as we stared, my cell phone rang. Pulling it out, I pressed it to my ear. A voice came through.

"This is Tedd."

_________________
"My conscience is feeling all prickly."
"A bit of absolute power can remedy that."
Kid Radd


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 Post subject: Re: Tales of Madness
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 1:15 am 
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Location: Behind you
A quick explanation: At one time in Xyon City, no less of a luminary than Jane Narbon (darkluminary? darkinary? shadowsiren? dunno) decided to lecture on the many facets of villainy, before a select live audience. These lectures are transvisualized here, for your pleasure. Also included are Jane's annotations on the lectures' results.

Jane Narbon's Lectures on Villainy
1: What is a Villain?

"Good afternoon. My name is Jane Narbon. I am a Mad scientist— and a villain. It is the last of these that I plan to lecture upon today.
Now, I'm sure most of you have your own preconceptions about what a villain is, or does, or looks like. In fact, let's do a little test.
Will everybody who took one look at my attire and thought, "Oh, she's a villain!" please raise their hands?"

{75% of the audience raises their hands}

[faint grin] "*tch, tch, tch* So many of you? Don't you know that you can't judge a book by it's cover?
Oh, don't worry about it. I'm here to inform you, quite simply, 'what is a villain'? So. Let's begin.
What is a villain? The term means many things to different people. If you ask half-a-dozen people in the street, they'll give you half-a-dozen different answers.
Some will speak to you of hatred, and some of crime. Some, of laughter atop buildings, and alluring black clothing (not unlike what I'm wearing now, but I digress). And some will tell you of loss.... and fear.
None of those things is what being a villain is truly about. I, and those like me, serve a higher purpose."

"Imagine your daily lives for a moment. In particular, imagine what you do just after you get up every morning. Go on. I'll wait.

Done? Now, think about what you do in detail. Does it ever change from day to day? Oh, I'm sure you have your variations— you, in the second row, eat toast every Wednesday and waffles every Sunday. And the lady at the back alters her exercise routines week-to-week— don't you?" [grins warmly]

"Still, these segments of your day in particular illustrate one simple fact: If no change enters a person's life, he— or she— will settle into fixed habits. Life will become... bland. Boring. Dull. The stories of your lives become uninteresting, to the point where some theoretical omniscient Reader would go put the book away and go watch TV; and the reason for this is because you are protagonists acting unopposed.

Your lives need someone in them to provide contrast. A foil. An antagonist. A... villain.
And that is exactly what we are here to provide.
Think of it not as an impediment, but as... a service. Whenever your life becomes uninteresting, we, the villains are there to help."

"Now, I know what you're going to say. You're going to say something about criminals. Please, do not get me mixed up with a common burglar, or some such. Anyone with the right knowledge can do something so gauche. Villainy is nothing like that.
Villainy is about style, about glamour, about placing yourself in an archetype. When you're a villain, you're an antagonist— and you're proud of it.

Imagine for a moment. Imagine you had the power to act just ever so slightly outside the rules, acting as the disruption to the thick, stifling fabric of everyday life. Imagine what you might do with it. And while you're imagining that, I'm going to let you in on a little secret.

It's fun.
That's right, you heard me. Being a villain is fun! I can personally attest that maniacally laughing on roofs of buildings is quite the stress reliever."

{laughter}


"Really, villains have always been painted as monsters to some degree. It's one sad side effect of being on the losing side throughout the ages. But despite that, villainy has its points in its favor. We villains provide opposition, someone to strive against. We fill our rolés with style, even a certain... panache. And, though the road is hard for us at times, it is still very fun.

So, the next time you see someone with a fearsome laugh and an evil grin cutting loose somewhere, you can feel secure in the knowledge that we villains are helping the balance of your world."
[waves] "Good luck out there!"

~~~

Jane's Postlecture Notes

Not bad for an opener. The audience reacted about as expected— there were a few times they were wavering, but the plants' reactions helped keep them thinking along the right lines. I wonder if I've convinced any of them to take up villainy? The two people whose personal details I called out seemed to be mulling it over, after they got their little demonstration of the power available. We'll see if she's back at the next one.


Next Lecture: So You Want to Be a Villain...


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