Twenty years ago- years before you were even born, your homeworld repelled an alien invasion which arrived with no warning, no declaration, no communication. The invaders killed tens of thousands of your people before they all suddenly died- killed by their own ships.You've revealed your secret to Elan and Kara, and have plans to maybe track down a mentor this weekend with Kara. First, though, you made plans to relax with Taylor. Plans which seem to have been derailed, as another strange headache and a Valkan signature have pulled you into a sideroom with an... interesting guy.---You can read the previous threads here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=COADEName: Tiiris ElsonAppearance: Sixteen year-old girl. Blonde hair, and very similar looking to her mother. While her mother was a beautiful woman, though, the features of her daughter are just slightly ‘off’. Her face is a little long, her eyes lidded, the nose slightly crooked, cheeks gaunt.Personality: Becoming more ambivalent towards the Valkans and unsure of how to reconcile her ingrained dislike of them with her status as one of them. Bit of a curious sort, doesn't run away from her hallucinations.Life: Works at a bookstore for some extra money. Has a brain condition where if she focuses on something with complex detail for too long, her brain begins to ‘fail’ and can't process all the information, causing her view of the world to fade out and wash away.Qualities:‘Reading Troubles’‘Seeing the Unseen’‘Light User’‘Good Condition’‘Book of Drawings’ -> ‘Valkan Sketchbook’‘Some Pocket Change’‘Glass Pendant’‘Valkan Device’‘Valkan Repair Drone’‘Collection of car documents’
"I'm gonna go to the bathroom real quick..." You mumble. "Just in case...""Okay..." Taylor nods. "Text me if you start blowing chunks.""Gee, thanks." You force a smile before standing up.Making sure to step deliberately, you slowly make your way over to the bathrooms, fumbling in your pockets for the little packet of painkillers you keep for your period. Popping one in your mouth, you take a drink from the water fountain and swallow it down, before pushing the door open to the women's restroom. Your skin almost feels like it's broken out in goosebumps. All of small hairs on your arm are standing on their ends, and your skin feels like it's tightened, almost. Less flexible and more firmly wrapped around your flesh. Finding a free stall, you step in and steady yourself against the tank, your head swimming from the effort of walking over there. You don't feel like you're going to throw up, but man do you not want to move...Lowering the toilet seat down and sitting on the edge, you knead your head and groan slightly. Keeping your eyes closed seems to help with some of the headache, and also lets you focus on the signature. It's close by, just away from - you crack open your eye for a second to reorient yourself, before quickly closing it - yeah, the employee entrance to the left of the bathrooms. You saw it coming in. Looks... eh, bigger than Easy, you think? But not by much, probably closer to OH4875's size.After a little bit, the painkiller seems to kick in, helping abate the headache somewhat and making it possible for you to open your eyes. Standing up experimentally, you sway a little back and forth to test your bearings. The nausea seems to have mostly abated, too, although you still feel... 'off'.Exiting the bathroom, you poke your head out and look around a few times. Nobody really looking this way, employees mostly distracted by their duties, good of a chance as any. Putting a shoulder against the swiveling hinge, you push past it into the back rooms.A hallway greets you, a fairly narrow, single-person passage that forks off and turns and odd angles, each route linking together all of the booths and kiosks that ringed the arcade floor. The busy sounds of the kitchen echo from the doorway to your right, so you skip past and look for the signature again. Looking to your left and right, you realize you can't see it- not until you look down and notice it seemingly moving under your feet. A basement level...You have no idea where any of these doors go, so you just start moving from door to door. A broom closet, an employee lounge of some kind, a staircase- ahah! It was the building's redundant staircase, allowing access to the roof and whatever infrastructure was under the city plate it was built on without needing a ladder. Several of the more noisy and big classes were held in these same rooms under the school, although businesses would likely have their allotted sections sealed off from public access.
>>3882928At the bottom of the stairwell was a single, larger door that pointed back into the space below the arcade. Just beyond it was the signature, moving around behind it. Turning the handle, you open it to find yourself in some kind of store room. Metal shelves were set up in neat rows, stocked with cleaning supplies- a small rack of brand-new, plastic wrapped brooms, large bottles of bleach and what you could guess were cleaners and soap. Instead of shelves in some places, there were old arcade cabinets with rings of metal keys taped to their screens. One shelf was cluttered with old coils of cables stacked haphazardly on each other.Just as you're about to move a bit further into the shelves, something makes you stop. The hairs on the back on your neck suddenly stand up and you get a cold feeling. Then you just about leap out of your skin and the door behind you swings open. Whirling around, you see a surprised looking guy - maybe about in his mid-twenties, looking at you with surprise."Um, are you lost, ma'am?" He had on the same black polo shirt and slacks combo that the rest of the arcade employees wore, with a fairly impressive, closely trimmed beard on his face."Oh, ah, n- yes?" You try to feign ignorance. "Sorry, I probably shouldn't be here-" You step towards him, making to move past him back out into the stairwell."Are you feeling well?" He asks, squinting at your face a bit closely. It seems genuine, but something about the way he's looking at you makes you shiver. "If you want, you can lie down for a little bit...""No, that's fine, I..." You can't shake the feeling that something is very wrong, here. Pointedly stepping to his side, you try to grab at the door handle, but his hand reaches out and grabs your outstretched hand, pulling it back. "What the hell is wrong with-" Your headache picks that exact moment to sharpen, causing the distant signature you were looking at to sharpen and flare in intensity. Something's wrong with him- an odd, inky feeling that emanates from him and pulses beneath his skin. Almost like a signature. There's an electric chill in the air that you don't remember feeling before, and the confused, slightly nervous expression this guy had before has faded away to a sort of twisted confidence. His grip tightens on your arm.>Overpower him and get the hell out of there.>Make some excuses and get out of there.>Pull back from him- run into the shelves, maybe. What the hell does he want?>Start making noise, maybe someone will hear you.>Get your phone and try to get someone on the line. (Write-In said person)>Just punch him in the fucking face.>[Write-In]
>>3882932>Start making noise, maybe someone will hear you.
>>3882932>Get your phone and try to get someone on the line. (Write-In said person)Easy said he could do suppressing fire. Maybe we want some of that.
>>3882932>Pull back from him- run into the shelves, maybe. What the hell does he want?
>>3882932>Overpower him and get the hell out of there.Yo, nerd. Hands offa Chadette. You see dese guns? Dese guns are ALWAYS loaded.
>>3882932>Start making noise, maybe someone will hear you.AHHH HE'S GOING TO RAPE ME
Actually, changing my vote >>3883094 to this one:>Pull back from him- run into the shelves, maybe. What the hell does he want?Just realized the signature is deeper in the room, while this guy came up from behind us. He's a shifty skeezeball but there's still something else in here. Throwing some foo' won't get us closer to finding it.
>>3882932>Make some excuses and get out of there.
>>3882932Shit. Tiiris is getting murderraped
Well that's a two-way tie. Doesn't happen very often. Rolling off- 1 for:>Start making noise, maybe someone will hear you.2 for:>Pull back from him- run into the shelves, maybe. What the hell does he want?
Rolled 1 (1d2)>>3884259LIKE I SAID-
"Hey, what are you doing?" You shout, taking a moment to rip your arm out of his hand. "I'm g-"You never got to finish that sentence, as all the meekness suddenly vanished from the guy, his other fist coming up in an instant and swinging straight at your face. With the barest instant to respond, his fist collides with your cheek, whipping your head around and sending you staggering back.>Quality: 'Good Condition'The arms of one of your glasses slips off one of your ears, causing them to dangle off your face. One of your hands reaches out and grasps the edge of one of the shelves for balance. It didn't hurt too bad on second examination, but what the fuck.Looking back up, your eyes widen as he comes at you again, reaching habitually onto one of the shelves and pulling down a metal hammer. There was something wrong with him. A signature pulsed beneath his skin, but it was weird, and the normal 'blackness' you perceived the orb of a signature in was pitch black, rather than the faint shadow of a normal signature.Tucking your glasses back onto your face, you back up deeper into the storage room. Okay, signature, probably some kind of Valkan. They mentioned something about cybernetics, what you were seeing was probably cybernetics of some kind. Or another skeleton....Hopefully it isn't a skeleton.He came around the corner and quickly lunged forward, not swinging the hammer haphazardly, but making precise, directed strikes towards your skull. There was no menacing walk or casual movement here. He was coming at you relentlessly, forcing you to dodge and back up, barely giving you a moment to think. You have to, though. Why would he attack you? Was the drone his, and so he was worried about being discovered, just like you are? No way this is how someone would go about raping you. Smashing your head in with a hammer seemed counterproductive, unless he was a corpsefucker. Your back collides with two metal bars- a shelf against the back of the storage room wall.Something slides into view on your right. The original signature you came in here for. It looked like a drone, very similar to OH4875 in shape and design. Almost identical, except that it was painted a dull gray. Lowering itself to the floor, small beams of light began emanating from it's front, drawing thin rods of metal up from the floor where they shone. They quickly built up to knee-high walls, and kept climbing.A fence. It was making a fucking fence to box you in. You look to your left and see the more open other half of the room, but they were obviously trying to drive you that way. Gotta think, gotta think- a sharp pain in your head kills that idea in it's tracks, the world flaring different colors all around you. The thought of dying here, cornered in a basement by some dumbfuck arcade employee makes your blood boil, hairs on the back of your neck standing up and your headache to intensify.
>>3885060Taking a step back, the man narrows his eyes at something you can't sense, adjusting his grip on the hammer, before stepping closer. He aims deliberately, this time, fully committing to the swing instead of lightly throwing his arm at you.>Dodge left. Fuck it, it's your only option.>Dodge right. It's the unexpected move.>Face him head on.>[Write-In]
>>3885063>Dodge right. It's the unexpected move.
>>3885063>Dodge left. Fuck it, it's your only option.
>>3885063Right is towards the drone, which is probably armed if our own drones are any indication; Left is deeper into the basement trap. I'd rather take hammer guy head on.
>>3885508>also maybe leaving a vote would help>Face him head on.
>>3885063>Face him head on.
Rolled 2 (1d3)And that's a three way tie if I'm counting correctly.1 for left, 2 for right, 3 for punching him in the face.
>>3885776The tradition continues!
Steeling yourself, you take a quick breath before lunging to the right. Having expected you to go left, the hammer guy's swing soars over your head, his momentum carrying him away from you for a moment. The impromptu fence was quickly rising between the shelves, already chest high to you. It was roughly similar to a chain-link fence, easy enough to climb...Bracing yourself, you focus, hop to a stop and bend your knees. Hopefully those beams it was shooting out couldn't hurt you. As you push up, a funny pop echoes in your head, and when you kick off, you find yourself sailing much higher upwards than you originally planned to, easily clearing the fence and tumbling over the top of the drone on the other side."What the f-" You groan as you sprawl on the floor, glasses falling off your face yet again. Grimacing, you push the drone away from underneath you. Looking up just in time, you see the guy easily kicking himself up and over the fence, landing on his feet on the other side. "Valkans are fucking bullshit..." A loud metallic slam breaks you out of your thoughts, the distant sound of the door opening quickly. "Easy?" You shout."Tiiris? What the hell are you doing?" Taylor's voice calls back.Hammer guy's head turns to the sound, and you take a moment to scrabble to your feet, running quickly down the the aisle. Looking over your shoulder, you see him quickly closing the gap behind you, so you hang a left, then another right around the shelves. At best it's buying you time, though. "Turn around!" You shout. "Run back up the stairs!""Wh-" Taylor stops speaking as you round the corner, grabbing her and pushing her back towards the stairs. "What did you do?" She shrieks, looking at hammer guy chasing behind you."Not fucking now!" You take the steps two at a time, trying your best to drag Taylor along. It's difficult to force someone up the stairs, but you don't exactly have time. If Easy is anywhere, it's at the top of the stairs, or in the arcade itself, coming to look for you. Easy had a gun, right? He mentioned something about that before. Then again, what if this guy was just a complete psycho, and ran straight out into the arcade with you?As the two of you reach the top of the stairs, you look behind you one final time, and see him rapidly scaling the stairs, but he's slowing down, looking unsure. Taylor throws open the door, and in that instant he stops, letting the two of you run away.Bolting back into the arcade lobby, Taylor grabs your arm and mutters. "I'll go find an employee or something...""What? No, we're getting the hell out of here." You mutter, and begin pulling her by the wrist."There's some dude in their basement who just tried to kill you!" Taylor hisses in your ear. "That doesn't concern you at all?""No, it's- they wouldn't be able to..." You mutter excuses, marching straight out the front doors and rummaging in your pocket for your phone.
>>3886355"It's just one guy who was swinging a hammer at you! Why don't you..." She stops, letting you walk the rest of the way to the curb. "Tiiris?"You look at her, then sigh. So much for your day off.>"Look, Taylor. I appreciate the concern, but this doesn't concern you.">"I've been in enough crazy shit this week to last a lifetime. I just wanna go home.">"...there's something I need to tell you." (Call ST for a pickup)>[Write-In]
>>3886356>"I've been in enough crazy shit this week to last a lifetime. I just wanna go home."
>>3886356>"...there's something I need to tell you." (Call ST for a pickup)
>>3886356>>"...there's something I need to tell you." (Call ST for a pickup)
>>3886356Ask one of our robo buddy's if they can hack into the malls/arcades system. Get info on the assailant.
>>3886356>"...there's something I need to tell you." (Call ST for a pickup)She's seen the weird shit now and she won't stop asking about it until she knows. Best tell her in the car, or have the car tell her. We have some questions about the man in the basement as well.
>"...there's something I need to tell you." (Call ST for a pickup)Writing.>>3886960>Best tell her in the car, or have the car tell her.>have the car tell herThis makes sense for the quest, and I'm not sure how I feel about that.
"Look, can you... just wait for a second?" You hit dial, and hold your phone up to your ear before turning away from her. "ST?" You murmur. "Something happened. I need you to pick me up right now.""ST?" Taylor asks."I will arrive in thirty seven seconds.""A friend." You say. "...kinda." You sigh. "Look, it's a long story..." Scuffing your shoe on the sidewalk a little, you warily look over Taylor's shoulder back at the arcade. The signature had vanished. So much for that lead.A uncomfortable few seconds later, ST rolls up to the curb, it's windows darkly tinted and it's interior obscured by shade. Someone with indiscernible features was sitting in the driver's seat, but by this point you were wise to ST's antics. Moving over to the navigator's side, you open the door."Tiiris, there's someone...""I know." You make a vague gesture to the passenger door. "You gonna get in?""You're kind of scaring me..." Taylor hesitated."That's because what we're dealing with is fucking spooky." You pause. "...would it help if it had to do with Valkans?""What?" Taylor went very still for a moment. "What do you..."Cracking a smile, you swing into the seat and close the door. A few seconds pass before the passenger door opens and Taylor slips in next to you. "Where's the...""Wasn't one.""This feels so wrong...""Get used to that feeling. ST, take us... er..." You look down at the dash. "Somewhere, I guess. Don't care where. Someplace private?""Understood."Taylor jumps slightly in her seat at the voice. "Fff- why'd they set the voice to that thing?" She mumbles, fumbling with her seat belt."It does have a bit of an odd quality to it..." You scratch your neck. "I kind of like it.""Okay, so you've got me in your... pedo car. What's going on?"You frown. "It's not a pedo car. I'm not even older than you!""Whatever." Taylor shrugs. "Just... give me a clue as to what's happening, Tiiris."You sigh. "Okay, but hold on- ST?""Yes?" ST replied."Some guy with a drone attacked me in there.""Make?" ST asked."Drone?" Taylor mumbled. "Wait, is ST not the car?"You glance sidelong at her. "A scarab, I think. Really similar to OH. He also had this... weirdness about him. Like a signature but not really.""Possibly imperfect machine augmentations or inherited biological augmentations.""...why don't I have any of those?" You sigh. "At first I thought he was trying to rape me, but then he just went straight to trying to brain me with a hammer. Moved really fast, too.""Are you injured?" ST replied."No, weirdly enough." You rub your wrist. "I actually feel great other than this headache.""We will conduct a search.""Thanks." You mumble, rubbing your head."Machine augmentations...?" Taylor was mumbling. "Cybernetics? Scrabs?" She had a funny look on your face. One that you recognized. It was her 'about to put the pieces together' face. "Tiiris, what's going on?"
>>3887523>It's Valkans.>>[Sub-Option] Start at the very beginning and tell her everything. This is going to take a while.>>[Sub-Option] Go over the broad strokes - Valkans, half-Valkans, shapeshifting robots and magic.>>[Sub-Option] Cover the basics - Half-Valkans and why your life is crazy.>>[Sub-Option] Just cover what's immediately pertinent. Why (you think) he was trying to kill you, and ST.>>[Sub-Option] "Hey, me and Kara are going on a crazy roadtrip tomorrow. Want in?">It's kind of Valkans. (Make up an elaborate lie)>[Write-In]
>>3887524>Go over the broad strokes - Valkans, half-Valkans, shapeshifting robots and magic.
>>3887524>>>[Sub-Option] Cover the basics - Half-Valkans and why your life is crazy.
>>3887524>It's Valkans.>>>[Sub-Option] Go over the broad strokes - Valkans, half-Valkans, shapeshifting robots and magic.
>>3887524>It's Valkans.>>[Sub-Option] Go over the broad strokes - Valkans, half-Valkans, shapeshifting robots and magic.
>>3887524>It's Valkans.>>[Sub-Option] Cover the basics - Half-Valkans and why your life is crazy.
>>3887524>It's Valkans.>>[Sub-Option] Cover the basics - Half-Valkans and why your life is crazy.It's probably better if she doesn't know everything, especially if she isn't Valkan herself.I remember the description of her eyes though and I'm kind of thinking she might be. What's her full name? What's Elan's full name?
>>3888049Elan Hukak and Taylor Soban.
>>3888057Any planets in those names?
That reminds me - we haven't bumped into Jordan yet. I wonder when we'll meet our old robo-cap'n.
>>3888062They're both fairy common first names on Tagara, and neither are planets. Plus that was a female Valkan thing, so despite Elan's names origins as a misspelling of Ellen...
Rolled 2 (1d2)And that's another tie. 1 for the broad strokes, two for the basics.
"So... you're saying that you're half-alien.""Valkans are apparently human, but yeah.""Half-Valkan, whatever. This guy was trying to kill you because of that?""I-""Killing was not his goal." ST's voice interrupted the two of you, making Taylor jump in her seat again."He wants my... 'parts', right?" You ask."Phrasing." Taylor mutters."You have not established a chain of succession yet. Should you perish, we will become inactive again and could be claimed by other Valkans. We have witnessed other half-Valkans be baited into traps in order to claim their machinery after death or to coerce them into transferring ownership before killing them.""Is that common?" You frown."The incidence rate is one per six months.""So, low, in the grand scheme of things." Taylor says. "At least, as far as crimes go.""An order of magnitude smaller than the Miir daily homicide rate.""How reassuring..." You mutter. Looking to your right, you sigh. "Anyway, that's the long and short of it, Taylor.""What are you going to do?""I dunno?" You shrug. "I have some ideas...""What are they?""Excuse me?" You blink."What's your plan? Where are you going to do?" Taylor pressed."I-I didn't really have any concrete...""Then I'll help you come up with something." Taylor folded her arms. "You can't go to the government about this, they're just a bunch of idiots. Plus, they'll dissect you.""I'm not going to the feds!""So what, you're going to just sit around and hope that nobody comes after you? You could see his robot, right? How do you know that others can't detect yours?"...You look down at the dashboard."We do not broadcast our location, but no security can be perfect.""See?" Taylor held out a hand. "You've gotta figure out a way to protect yourself.""I'm fairly certain all I have to do is not be a shmuck..." You mutter."Uhuh. And you're totally not interested in any spooky alien stuff, right?" Taylor folds her arms."N... no?" You try to look innocent."I knew it." Taylor frowned. "You're too much of an idiot to handle this on your own. I want in.""I-I wasn't planning on letting you-""And look where that got you!" Taylor leans in. "You know it'd be better if you have me with you...""...you're a lot pushier than Kara and Elan." You mutter."Only because they're wusses who hear 'aliens' and don't jump on it.">"Look- I can't let you in any more than this. The less people know, the better.">"I... just give me a bit to think about it. Okay?">"...Fine. But you can't let anybody know. You'll need to be free tomorrow.">[Write-In]
>>3888615This is a big thing, peo.. I mean Valkans are willing to kill for it. You don't have to help me.
>>3888615>"I... just give me a bit to think about it. Okay?"
>>3888615>>"I... just give me a bit to think about it. Okay?"
>"Only because they're wusses who hear 'aliens' and don't jump on it."Wow, harsh. Kind of hard to jump in a full body cast. But yeah, staying conscious and still wisecracking after breaking enough bones to fill a mausoleum is pretty wussy, oh absolutely. Asshat.>>3888615>"I... just give me a bit to think about it. Okay?"
>>3888809Standing up for my man Elan>>3888615>"I... just give me a bit to think about it. Okay?">Ask ST about the weird headache and tell him how we jumped really high when it "popped"On a side note, how the hell are we going to get into a lifeship? Which one is the least guarded?
>"I... just give me a bit to think about it. Okay?"Writing.>>3888809Yeah, Taylor is a bit more pushy and less polite than Elan and Kara.
>>3889234I think Hull 1 was the only Lifeship, from what ST said.The other ships presumably crashed somewhere on the planet, but I don't recall there being any mention of them having the medical/cybernetic capabilities of the Lifeship. That one crashed right outside the city.
>>3889760...You know, I could have sworn I established it in writing, but I can't even find where it's suggested that it's Hull II. We just kind of jumped to that conclusion without formally putting it down in text. Really weird.But also:>"None. Kharak is the name of a planet. The lifeship Kharki - Hull XV - was named for it."
>>3889797Turns out the entire quest up to this point was actually just the lot of us hallucinating.Surprise! I'm know I am!
>>3889797Ahh, think I know why I was confused now. Did a bunch of skimming. Hull # descriptions were in the first thread, not the Tiiris threads.Hull I shat drones everywhere. Hull II was a Heavy Dreadnought - the one that came down near Miir. Hull IV was a carrier/drone thing like Hull I, X and XIII were speedy escort cruiser things aaand that's where I lost interest in reviewing further.Hull II, heavy Dreadnought, right nearby.I think I assumed 'lifeship' had to be a specific ship rather than just the Valkan way of referring to any of their ships because of the Dreadnought right next door. Like referring to a Panzer Tiger as 'Little Snookums'. Doesn't quite fit the expected tone.
>>3889877Well, no, that's just the thing. Hull II IS a lifeship, as well as Hull XV. It's in my notes and everything, but I can't for the life of me figure out when I said it was.
"I- just give me a bit to think about it." You lead back in the seat and look at Taylor. "Okay?""Why no-" Taylor catches herself, looks guilty for a moment, then sighs. "Okay, I'll give you your space.""Thank you." You say emphatically, before leaning back in your seat. "...you want me to drop you at home?""...can you drop me off on the third floor, actually?""Sure?" You raise an eyebrow. "Anywhere in particular?""The library. I want to look up some things.""...don't go too crazy, now. This is kind of a sensitive thing we're talking about." You shift in your seat as ST makes the turn onto the ramp."Let's go through the possibilities-" She counts on her fingers. "Either the government is so paranoid that I get a target on my back from looking up the most major war in history- unlikely. Or the aliens are targeting everyone you're vaguely associated with, in which case I'm already on the radar. Given that - as far as I know - everyone is still breathing, I think we're safe for now.""'I'll be fine' would have worked just as well." You mutter."Love you too, Tiiris." Taylor looked out her window at the looming marble building as ST rolled to a stop at the curb. "I'll see you around later." She opens the door and swings it shut behind her, before rapidly taking the steps one at a time up to the library."...think she'll be okay, ST?""We can assign OH4875 to watch her.""...thanks." You lean back in your seat as ST pulls away from the curb and back onto the road. "...hey, ST?""Yes?" The car descends onto the downwards ramp."When I was running- er, fighting that guy, I suddenly jumped really high out of nowhere.""A fairly common byproduct of Abyss influence. Any physical symptoms?""I've been having this sudden nauseous episodes where I feel kind of awful and have a headache.""...my basic medical database indicates that the initial expression of Abyss-based abilities can be accompanied by physical deformities, heightened physical abilities and anxiety.""In other words, somethings wrong with mine." You answer dryly. After a moment's thought, you quickly feel yourself down. Flat in front, bony behind, all limbs in the right places. "Okay, I think I'm fine on the physical deformities front.""Acknowledged." ST replies, turning onto your lane. "The cause is possibly linked to your brain function impairment.""...very polite way of putting it, ST." You say flatly.---Dad is at the kitchen table, quietly tapping away at his schoolwork when you walk in. He looks up idly as you hang up your coat and bag, commenting. "Back already? How was the arcade?">"It was, uh, fine. Kinda tired, though.">"...Remember how you asked me to keep you in the loop?">>[Sub-Option] Also mention your day out tomorrow.>[Write-In]
>>3890051>>"It was, uh, fine. Kinda tired, though."
I've completed my readthrough of the quest up to this point and feel it's fairly safe to say that the line I'm thinking of was lost in editing somewhere or was in one of the deleted scenes I cut. So I'll say it here for the sake of clarity and work it into proper narrative at some point:>Hull II and Hull XV have been identified by ST as 'lifeships', whatever that may be.>Hull II is the one crashed at Y'avel, outside of Miir, where the sideflash took place.
>>3890051>"It was, uh, fine. Kinda tired, though."
>>3890051>"...Remember how you asked me to keep you in the loop?">>[Sub-Option] Also mention your day out tomorrow.
>>3890051>"...Remember how you asked me to keep you in the loop?""You, um, don't have spare butcher's knives hidden around in easily accessible places, do you? Before I tell you how my normal trip to the arcade went."
>>3890051>[Write-In]Do you have anything I can use for self defence?
>>3890074I'm curious as to why the Valkans choose to live in space ships. Did they somehow got exiled from their homeworld like Quarians? Or did they view ship life as more superior to planetary life?
>>3890051>"...Remember how you asked me to keep you in the loop?"
>>3890336I seem to recall it being mentioned somewhere that Valka was destroyed, but I can't find where this was said so I may be misremembering.
>"...Remember how you asked me to keep you in the loop?"Writing.
"Uh... about that." You linger at the door for a second. "Remember how you asked me to keep you in the loop?""...yes?" Dad was looking up from his schoolwork now."Er... a guy kinda... attacked me today..." You nervously wring your hands.Dad was out of his seat in an instant. "He did? Where is he. Are you okay?""Dad, I'm fine, relax!" You hold up your hands up. "He just clocked me in-""He what?""Er... it was just a light hit! I'm not bruised at all, look!" That's a lie, it actually feels kind of stiff and sore, but it probably looks alright. You don't get much more of a chance to speak up before you find yourself buried in your Dad's arms as he pulls you into a hug. "Dad." You say with a muffled voice. "I'm fine.""How can you say that?" He frowns and pulls you down onto the couch. "Where was your robot, anyway? It said it would kill anyone who tried to hurt you.""Easy said that?" You ask with a bemused expression."No, the big one with the gun.""When did you-" You shake your head. "No, they weren't with me. I went wandering off on my own like an idiot. It won't happen again."Dad gives you a long, worried look before finally shrugging and shaking his head. "If you ever need to talk...""I know." You reach over and initiate the hug this time. He does have a point, though. After the bombing, you weren't nearly as affected as you should have been, and even just now... it wasn't as chaotic or directly threatening as the bombing, but you feel... mildly irritated? Not even that, just mildly tense and slightly annoyed, the brief anger and tension leaving as quickly as it comes. Your body instinctively relaxes, and the chaotic feelings bubbling up inside of you seem to almost dissipate out of you as fast as they came.You'll take it over shellshock, at least.---Soban Household, Miir, 3rd Floor25th of 4th, 1173. 7:00PM."Taylor?" Michael called as he stepped in the front door. "You home?""She's probably still out with her friends." His wife swung the door closed behind her."This late?"She shrugged. "You never stayed out past seven with your friends?""I... point." He sighed."...besides." She held up her phone. "Apparently she went to the library after she was done with her friend.""...on a Satuday?" Michael got a funny expression on his face as he undid his jacket. "For school?""She didn't say. Taylor does like to read.""Teenagers should be enjoying themselves, not throwing themselves into schoolwork..." Michael muttered."What can I say? She takes after her father." Tanis rolled her eyes and hung up her jacket. "Besides, people read for fun.""That's what I'm afraid of. I pissed away my youth chasing career aspirations and academia. I want Taylor to actually have some good childhood memories, instead of just- you know, study-study-study."
>>3892426"Your service wasn't wasteful." Tanis made her way back to the kitchen. "Besides, all of this opportunities are popping up now that the war is over. She'll find her adventure- and, by the way?" She grinned and waggled a finger in his direction. "Don't pretend the whole 'former flyboy' thing isn't part of your charm.""Would be nice to have it officially recognized.""I know about it." Pulling one of the kitchen knives off of the magnetic holster, she casually waved it at him, spinning it once between her fingers before redirecting it to a piece of fruit. "Isn't that good enough?""That's not what I meant, Tanis.""Love you too, honey."---Commercial District, Miir, 2nd Floor26th of 4th, 1173. 9:00AM."It's too early..." Kara groaned, clutching the paper cup in her hands."What?" You get an amused expression. "This is like, an hour after you'd have to be at school normally.""That's still too early." She mumbles, pulling her coat closer to herself."Fine." You smile. "Go back home and sleep some more. Don't hunt aliens with me, see if I care." Turning your nose up dramatically, you march forward off the curb and circle the car on the sidewalk."The sleep card's cheap, I've been having trouble with that and you know it." Kara starts fumbling with ST's door. "Who loaned you their car again?""A friend of Dad's." Not technically a lie. Besides, it's more fun to preserve the big surprises for when you're outside of the city. Speaking of, you glance quickly at the trunk again to see Easy and OH4875's signatures still glowing in there. You were fully kitted up today, with the repair drone in your bag along with your other random Valkan shit.Getting in to the driver's seat, you set your coffee in the middle console as Kara settles in, the misery of rising so early almost palpable on her.Raising your hand in order to 'mime' the instructions to ST, you prepare to type in...>Reese. Auvartii seemed promising, and it's close by land. You'd be an idiot to pass this up. That eight hour drive, though...>>[Sub-Option] Which is why you're going to fly. Now to break the news to Kara...>Kana. Subtlety be damned, you're going to search an entire city in one day.>The Isle of Illiir. A 'wise master' kind of woman sounds exactly like the kind of person you need. The only question is how to get there...>[Optional] After turning it over a little bit, you asked Taylor to join you as well.>[Optional] Dad also insisted on coming.>[Write-In]
>>3892427>Reese. Auvartii seemed promising, and it's close by land. You'd be an idiot to pass this up. That eight hour drive, though...
>>3892427>Kana. Subtlety be damned, you're going to search an entire city in one day.
>"Taylor?" Michael called as he stepped in the front door. "You home?"Former fleet intelligence guy Michael? Man. Tiiris's friends have scary families. Why can't they be as perfectly normal as our miner/butcher/Valkan-romancer Dad training-to-be-a-nurse?>>3892427>Reese. Auvartii seemed promising, and it's close by land. You'd be an idiot to pass this up. That eight hour drive, though...Four hours each way is long but not unreasonable for a day trip. Lots of time to see the sights and stuff. Chat with Kara about cool alien robots. Having Taylor along would be weird. Having Dad along would be SUPER WEIRD.If she starts getting migraines we could ask ST if he's got a transmission-blocking privacy mode or something. But knowing Valkans, they'd probably have it for prisoner transport.
>>3892427>Reese. Auvartii seemed promising, and it's close by land. You'd be an idiot to pass this up. That eight hour drive, though...>>[Sub-Option] Which is why you're going to fly. Now to break the news to Kara...
Follow-up on >>3889234>how the hell are we going to get into a lifeship? Which one is the least guarded?And >>3889760>The other ships presumably crashed somewhere on the planetI found this from the first thread>Did it mean orbit, then? That would make sense, considering the Valkan ships that were still up there.Considering ST can fly, can he get us into orbit? And are the Valkan ships in orbit less guarded than the Y'avel shipyard?On another note, I was thinking we should go back to the Valkan wreck the little repair drone took us to, with Easy, OH4875, and ST to help us extract more of the Valkan tech from the wreckage. We still have the "Valkan Device" too, we should ask one of our drones about it, and the necklace as well.I think we need OP to make us an inventory/stat sheet at this point, and especially if we're going to keep collecting more Valkan stuff.>>3892427>The Isle of Illiir. A 'wise master' kind of woman sounds exactly like the kind of person you need. The only question is how to get there...Watch this not be the one from the cutscene we saw
>Reese. Auvartii seemed promising, and it's close by land. You'd be an idiot to pass this up. That eight hour drive, though...Writing.
>>3893046I think we're also reaching the point where I need to provide a planetary map.
"Reese?" Kara leans forward in her seat to look at the screen as the car pulls away from the curb. "Why there?"You shrug. "The alternative was trying to go to Kana in a day. Plus, whoever lives there seems to be pretty peaceful.""How can you tell?" Kara asked with a raised eyebrow."She hasn't tried to kill anyone."Kara stares at you for a while as the car pulls onto the highway."This is a nice car." She eventually murmurs, taking another sip of her coffee.You smile at her reassuringly. "It is, isn't it? I've come to like it quite a lot myself.""I like that it's... quiet in here.""No voices?""Not at the moment..." Kara muttered darkly, leaning over her coffee.You idly wonder if there's anything about ST that's causing that to happen. It... doesn't make much sense to you, considering that ST's a Valkan machine too. You make a note to ask him about that later.Soon, the bustle of Miir is left behind for open road and Miir's outer urban areas. The glut of densely packed buildings and oddly symmetrical roads that made up so much of Miir thinning to small, disorganized and eclectic towns that lined the countryside. Miir's greyish soil and sand begin to give way to the rich, dark soil of the countryside as you follow the highway out. Cliffs quickly rose out of the distance, the sharp, weathered edges eventually smoothing out into rolling hills and thick grass. Huge beggar's bushes clung to the sides of sheer cliffs, their grasping and knotted tendrils worked around the cracks and crevices in the stone. Somewhere in those cliffs was the crash site you visited once before, hopefully still untouched and still unknown to anyone but you.The drop off from the heavily urbanized city and it's immediate surroundings to rural countryside is sudden and severe. Meticulously planned and vertically (heh) integrated infrastructure giving way to the chaotic and organic growth of the various neighborhoods that dot the countryside. Small herds of well-kept livestock occasionally roamed the hills, either waiting for eventual slaughter to become a luxury meat or being kept for their eggs. "So... how are you doing?" Kara asks, tearing her eyes away from the shimmering glass of a vertical farming complex."I'm... alright." You shrug. "Nervous.""Who wouldn't be?" Kara looks out the dashboard. "I suppose this is the test that it's true or not.""It's definitely true." You mumble. "So..." Kara hesitates, turning her empty paper cup between her hands. "What you said before. About how I might be... you know.""Yeah?""What if it's not a fluke? What if it's actually true?""Well... you'd be like me, I guess.""Blind- ow." Kara scoffs as your fist collides with her shoulder. "No, I mean... the implications for me. As a person."
>>3894061>"You'll be just the same as before. Hell, you've always been this way, technically.">"I don't know if you'll exactly be able to disappear into a normal life...">"You're still Kara. Just... different.">"It makes you a space princess, if I remember the ancient texts...">[Write-In]
>>3894062>"It makes you a space princess, if I remember the ancient texts..."
>>3894062>"You'll be just the same as before. Hell, you've always been this way, technically."
>>3894062>"It makes you a space princess, if I remember the ancient texts..."We know our planet has space travel and a robust military to protect it so my question to the QM is are we part of an intergalactic federation or something? Some exposition regarding our place in the universe would be nice.
>Small herds of well-kept livestock occasionally roamed the hills, either waiting for eventual slaughter to become a luxury meat or being kept for their eggs.Now imagining herds of bulky livestock lizards raised for meat and egg laying.And giant platypus-sloths. And ostrich-cows.>>3894062>"You'll be just the same as before. Hell, you've always been this way, technically."
>>3894062>"You'll be just the same as before. Hell, you've always been this way, technically.">But we might be able to use Valkan technology to make it so you aren't hearing things anymore>*mumble* "but we'd have to get on a ship though"
>>3894062>>"You'll be just the same as before. Hell, you've always been this way, technically."
>"You'll be just the same as before. Hell, you've always been this way, technically."Writing.>tfw you thought you closed the vote, but you come back a few hours later and it's still sitting in the message box, never posted
"What implications?" You shrug your shoulders. "Hell, you've always been this way, really. You'll be just the same as before.""I guess..." Kara sighs. "Kind of a comforting thought.""Yeah." You smile, searching for a way to get her mind off things. Looking down at the map on ST's fake monitor, you see a rest stop coming up, and get an idea. Tapping the screen, you mumble. "Turn into this town.""What was that?" Kara asks."I'm gonna pull us over here, get some snacks?" You tap the screen, and ST shifts over into the right lane, heading for the exit."Food sounds good." Kara perks up a little. "I didn't get any breakfast..."As ST moves up the off ramp, you start to see the rest stop come into view. It was bare - the kind of stop that only existed for travelers, with no proper local businesses around. A solitary row of chargers lined the parking lot, with a small convenience store beyond them, which shared the building with a small brick-and-mortar diner. Snaking beyond the building was a worn dirt path that curled up a nearby hill, with a small sign labeled scenic lookout.ST coasts into one of the charging stations, rolling forward until it's tires rolled into two receptacles in the parking spot. The cabin falls slightly as the tires depress the sensor and ST parks. After a moment of sensing, the boom arm of the charging station drops down, shifting slightly to the left to line up with the charging port on ST's hood before clicking down. It occurs to you that you don't know if ST or any of your other drones need to be charged or refueled. You should ask him later, just to be sure.Kara opens her door and immediately winces."Voices?" You ask, opening your own door."Yeah..." She mumbles, rubbing her head. "Quieter than usual, though.""Well that's good, isn't it?" You smile. "Bit of peace and quiet?""I preferred it in the car..."You roll your eyes and get up. "Come on, we'll get a snack or something." You check your phone as the two of you walk up to the store entrance. Ten to one. Reese was just a few minutes away, although Easy had mentioned that Auvartii lived outside of the city itself. Sparing a moment, you slide your card through the reader on the charging station, and it begins incrementing power. Was it part of the charade or did ST really need it?Walking a bit quickly to catch up with Kara, you manage to slide in behind her before the glass door swings shut again. The attendant behind the counter was an older woman, sitting on a stool slightly back from the counter, flipping across a tablet in boredom. As you come in, she looks up for a moment and smiles pleasantly before looking back down at her tablet.You start rounding the shelves, poking through the various plastic packets and plasticized paper boxes. Glancing at Kara out of the corner of your eye, you see her fidgeting slightly in irritation. The implications of everything were pretty obviously still on her mind.
>>3895895>"Think of it this way. If you are Valkan, that means you can do magic... which means you can be the magical girl you've always wanted to be.">"You're not alone, we're in this together, remember?">Try reaching for something mundane to talk about- games, fashion, looks, anything.>Stay silent.>[Write-In]In addition... what do you get to eat?>Some kind of fruity-flavored soft candy. They'll be gone quick, but...>Hard, rather flavorless wrapped candies you can suck on for a while.>Dry and salty crackers. Mmm, salt...>Sour sweets, because you hate your tongue and want it to suffer.>Nuts or fruit, because life is a fucking nightmare.>You're too nervous to eat.
>>3895896>Try reaching for something mundane to talk about- games, fashion, looks, anything.>Dry and salty crackers. Mmm, salt...
>>3895896>"Think of it this way. If you are Valkan, that means you can do magic... which means you can be the magical girl you've always wanted to be."But of course neither of us still watch Magical Space Princess Sailor Genocide anymore because that's a show for little girls and mature Valkanime is much better. Although the remake is pretty good... uhhh from what I hear.>Sour sweets, because you hate your tongue and want it to suffer.SUFFERING IS STRENGTH, POWER THROUGH PAIN
>>3895896>"Think of it this way. If you are Valkan, that means you can do magic... which means you can be the magical girl you've always wanted to be.">Hard, rather flavorless wrapped candies you can suck on for a while.
>Try reaching for something mundane to talk about- games, fashion, looks, anything.>Dry and salty crackers. Mmm, salt...Writing.
>>3896907THE CRUMBShow could we do this to poor ST oh nooo
Picking through the shelves, you eventually snatch up a small box of crackers. Glancing at it, you make a face at the flavor and switch it for the sea-salt flavored box next to it. Who even likes salt and vinegar? You glance over at Kara, hoping to see her in a better mood. She isn't, obvious irritation building on her face as she works herself up over it."So..." You think about topics for a second. Normally you'd jabber about movies or streaming with Kara, but you haven't been paying attention to that stuff at all lately. You're just beginning to flounder when you recall Easy chastising you over your wardrobe. "I've been... thinking about changing up my style recently.""Hah! Good one." Kara grins to herself, before carefully picking out a bag of soft candy from the shelf."Wh..." You sputter slightly. "I-I was being serious!"Kara looks over at you in surprise. "You?" She looks significantly at your clothes. "The girl who owns nothing but old jeans and t-shirts? All in dark colors?"You pull up the collar of your coat in annoyance. "I own a skirt. And a dress.""It's your uniform skirt, it doesn't count. And the dress..." She screwed up her eyes in thought. "Wait, you mean you still have the formal one from middle school? The one with the big straps?""It's a lot shorter on me now..." You mutter to yourself."See? This is exactly what I'm talking about." Kara says as you walk up to the register together. "What would you even wear?""...skirts?" You float, fumbling with your wallet."Uhuh.""Why do you sound so incredulous?" You ask defensive, tapping your card. "I- thanks." You take your bag from the cashier and turn. "Is it so crazy to imagine me wearing a skirt?""Have you even shaved recently? Let me see your legs." Kara squats and starts to lift your pants."Stoppit!" You kick at her lightly. "I did just last night!" Well, Easy did it, but still..."Alright, alright." Kara grins, holding up her hands in mock surrender as the two of you amble over to ST. "I'm just saying, it's hard to imagine you wearing anything else at this point. What do you even want? Trendy? Fashionable?""I-I haven't thought about it too much!" You protest. Maybe you need to ask Easy about Valkan fashion? If they even had fashion beyond spaceships..."I could see you in some classy stuff..." Kara muses. "You do look nice in the uniform after all. And it is the fashion these days...""Mostly I look plain." You sigh, tapping the fake console screen again. With a click, the charging arm popped up and lifted back into it's prior position, and ST began rolling back out. "No boobs.""Your legs are pretty nice." Kara offers. "There are guys who are into muscle..."You pout a little as ST turns back onto the road. "They're not that muscle-y...""Maybe not, but they're the thickest part of you.""Ow..." You hold your chest in mock pain. "Low blow, Kara.""I'm just saying..."
You get your crackers open as ST turns back onto the highway, shifting over into the second lane from the left before splitting off onto a separate highway going west as your crunch on some delicious cracker."I thought we were going to Reese?" Kara asks, looking out the window with a curious expression. Another turn takes you over an overpass, and pushes you into the farmland you've been running alongside the entire journey."We are." You peer at the screen. "But, like, city limits Reese."Moving away from the highway, you trail along the edge of an orchard for a few miles. Rows of trees in neat grids on your right and hilly grazing land on your right. ST turns a corner and both sides are swallowed by chaotic forest growth. The steady whirr of tires on asphalt turns gritty as you move onto worn dirt, with not even whatever bullshit suspension ST has able to absorb all of the rocking as it navigates the potholes and washboarding of the ground.The afternoon sunlight steadily begins to fade as you push deeper into the forest, being swallowed up by the canopy of trees. You keep your eyes peeled, glancing at the driveways you pass by, looking at the houses but also looking for any signs of signatures. They have small, ramshackle mailboxes and rusted metal gates, intermixed with the occasional pristinely painted wooden archway and security gates. Cabins mixed with private estates, just outside the city.Finally, ST turns down a narrow path, one without a gate, marked only by a mailbox and a gap in the foliage. It slows down, navigating the terrain carefully so not to jostle you and Kara so much. Twisting back and forth around the trees, it tries to pick it's way along the path, but it's obvious that it wasn't really made for vehicles."I'm amazed there's even terrain data for this place..." Kara mutters."Yeah..." Sure. That's totally what ST is running off of.Reaching a small circle of dirt, ST rolls to a stop, before suddenly speaking. "Road ends."Kara jumps a little in her seat. "F- jeez, could they have picked a harsher voice?""I kinda like it." You smile and shrug, peering out of the window. There was a cabin a short distance away. It was partially hidden by the foliage, but there was no disguising the building. A few shafts of light glowed on the grey paint that coated the wood. It looked to be fairly small, but there would probably be no telling with Valkan machinery. After a moment's thought, you open the door and step out. The hairs on your neck stand up slightly, a slight feeling of dread washing over you. You feel like you're being watched, but... a quick glance around reveals nothing but old trees, their boroughs stretching out above you. No signatures about, either- and from Kara's relaxed stance, she's not hearing any voices.
Kara gets out on the opposite side, resting a hand on the door and squinting at the cabin. "That's it? Is anyone home?"You shrug slightly, then glance back at the trunk. Easy and OH4875's continued presence in the back is reassuring. If they noticed anything, you have no doubt they'd move. If they noticed anything. After the arcade... yeah, right.Kara fidgets a little. "So, how do we do this? Just walk up and knock?">Just walk up and knock, no need to act suspiciously.>Skulk around the edges first, try to peer in the windows and see if anyone's home.>>[Sub-Option] If nobody's home, check the forest nearby to see if they're out back or in a shed. No car, so they might just not be at home...>>[Sub-Option] That, or just wait on their porch instead.>Get Easy out of the trunk for backup.>OH4875 seems to be more technical than Easy, maybe that's good for booby-traps? Are there even booby-traps?>Have ST get into walker form. For the gun.>[Write-In]
>>3897672>>Just walk up and knock, no need to act suspiciously.
>>3897672>Just walk up and knock, no need to act suspiciously.>Get Easy out of the trunk for backup.Two brave girls knocking on a rural cabin door, definitely not about to be murdered.But definitely bring Easy out! We personally know next to nothing about Valkan social cues, and a real Valkan ought to be accustomed to Adjutant drones floating around being helpful and/or obsequious.
>>3897866>Get Easy out of the trunk for backup.Actually scratch that, it feels too much like rushing. Just get Easy out. Floating talking robot ought to startle Kara enough already, no need to dive right in. Hang back a minute and just Q&A Easy on what the most diplomatic approach to meeting a living Valkan might be.
>>3898111That is a very good point, let's start with this0
>>3897672>Get Easy out of the trunk for backup.
>Get Easy out of the trunk for backup.Writing.
"I... don't know." You casually thunk ST's trunk. "Easy, you got any ideas?""Who-" Kara begins to ask, blankly staring as ST's tail gate opens on it's own. A second later, she lets out a startled yelp as Easy swings out in the form of a nondescript box, turning in the air as his panels unfold and slot into place."Valkans do not observe significantly different customs in regards to dwellings in comparison to Tagarans." Easy begins. "However, Valkans normally herald such visits with a message. We have done no such thing.""Yeah, we're dropping in unexpectedly, aren't we..." You trail off."I'm sorry, are we not going to talk about the talking robot!?" Kara exclaims, pointing a finger at Easy."Kara, Easy. Easy-""I'm trying to be calm!""No, his name is Easy. Easy, Kara." You gesture between the two of them. "He's my- uh, adjutant.""Like a secretary.""Correct." Easy replied. "I am a form of domestic servant. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance in person at last." He dips his head in greeting."'In person'?" Kara asks suspiciously."Easy is generally always nearby when I am." You offer. "Any way I should introduce myself?""This is not a formal setting. The customary greeting between two Valkans in a civil setting is similar to the Tagaran handshake, but clasping at the forearms instead." Easy noted. "However, it is doubtful that a Valkan who has lived among Tagarans for more than ten years will find issue with your greetings.""You're right, I won't." Both you and Kara stiffen and spin around, looking for the source of the sudden voice."Up, you idiots."You blink, and tilt your head backwards, looking into the boroughs of the trees around you. It takes you a few minutes to orient yourself, squeezing your eyes shut a few times to let the flecks of color clear so you can see."Come on, I'm not hiding. Use your eye- oh."There was a woman sitting in the upper boroughs of one of the trees, her legs straddling either side of one up the upper branches. Her features are a bit blurry for you, but you can make out... jeans, a flannel shirt and... brown hair. There's something long and thin resting across her lap, and in her hands she's holding something flat and rectangular, but they're partially obscured by her leg and the branch."I was trying to sketch this lovely little crow that was up here, but your jabbering scared it off." She calls in a good-natured manner. "I'd ask if you were campers, but judging by the adjutant...">"Uh, are you Auvartii?">"Sorry, we didn't mean to...">"Gah! Don't kill me!">[Write-In]
>>3899246>"Uh, are you Auvartii?"
>>3899246>"Sorry, we didn't mean to..."The GUILT. It rises, unbidden.
>>3899246>>3899436This and>"Uh, are you Auvartii?"
>"Uh, are you Auvartii?"Update may be delayed by halloween spookery.
>>3899246>"Come on, I'm not hiding. Use your eye- oh."...Is that the sound of someone realizing they left their invisibility on by accident after using their arcane power for birdwatching?
"Sorry..." You mumble to yourself, before clearing your throat. "Uh, are you Auvartii?""Woah, woah, woah..." The woman stands up, perching on the branch and shouldering the longer object by a strap. She takes an easy step off the branch, dropping down to one below, and then carefully skidding down the side of the tree to the floor. "That's a bit personal, don't you think?" Kara takes a few steps back as she draws closer, sharply inhaling. You glance at her anxiously as she draws closer to the car, instinctively placing the door between her and the woman. "Relax, kid, I don't bite." She holds her hands up and waggles them. "You can call me Jess."As she draws closer, you're able to finally make out her features clearly. She- er, 'Jess' was quite tall for a woman, standing slightly above you. Her clothes were fairly baggy, disguising her profile for the most part, but the open flannel she had on showed a peek of a well-formed, athletic body. Honestly, she barely looked like she had just dropped down from a tree, but there were odd... quirks to her appearance. Her hair looked like it had barely any thought put into it, being messily pulled back into a ponytail, but it looked like she spent far too much on shampoo. Same with her skin.All of it gave you the image of someone who put a lot of effort into looking disheveled... or, probably more likely, someone who would be disheveled, if not for a robot combing them over every day. You'd barely had Easy for a week and people were already noticing a change, this must be what a lifetime of it looked like."Oh, uh, sorry, I thought it was your name..." You mumble.She tilts her head at you. There were prominent freckles bridging across her nose and brows. Perfectly symmetrical, like yours. "You don't know much about Valkans, do you?""Uh, n-no?" You fidget in place, feeling slightly intimidated by her being so close to you."I figured." Jess scratches her chin a moment before looking back at her cabin, then back at you with a smile. "How about you girls come in, have some tea?" Not waiting for an answer, she turns on her heel and begins walking down the path. You stiffen slightly as she turns, and the thin object she has slung over her shoulder finally resolves into a long, intricately detailed rifle. Sparing a glance towards Kara, she looks back at you uneasily. Neither of you want to move for a moment, but Jess' voice echoes back to the two of you and gets you moving. "Come on! I made bread this morning!"---It's somehow more surprising that the inside of the cabin looks exactly like you expected it to. One large room, with some walls that didn't quite reach to the ceiling forming a small bedroom. Heaps of papers and small boxes were stacked in precarious places, small metal parts littering the worktable. The warm glow of the afternoon sky streamed through the windows and lit the interior of Jess' little kitchen.
>>3900624"That's... quite a story." Jess fumbles with three steaming mugs, carefully setting them down on the wooden table. "You say the Army of the Dead protected you?""Is that what they are?" You ask, pulling one of them towards you."I've never seen them, but they're the Dead who protect little kids." She takes her own mug and sips from it. "So you get saved, and you start digging for what you saw, right?"You nod. "And I saw your website."Jess rubs her head and sighs. "I knew putting that thing up would come to bite me in the ass one day."Kara flinches. "We're very so-""You didn't do anything." Jess say emphatically. "The only person to blame is my teenage self.""So... what was it about, anyway?""A transcription of the Valkan holy texts." Jess sighs. "I made it when I was lonely after my parents passed. Figured anyone who saw it would assume it was fiction unless they were Valkan. Then I realized not everyone who recognized it would be friendly.""Valkans have a religion?""Of course we do." Jess frowns. "Pretty much everyone does, when it comes down to it.""Right, sorry..." You mumble."While I'm flattered you went through all this effort to find me... I've got to ask... why?" Jess looks between the two of you. "I can't imagine I have much to offer you.">I just wanted to meet someone else like me...>There's something wrong with my head. Abyss and biological stuff, I need help.>My robots don't know anything about the Abyss and I want to know.>To sate my interest for the culture of my birth.>[Write-In]
>>3900625>I just wanted to meet someone else like me...
>>3900625>>There's something wrong with my head. Abyss and biological stuff, I need help.>>To sate my interest for the culture of my birth.
>>3900625>There's something wrong with my head. Abyss and biological stuff, I need help.
>>3900625>>I just wanted to meet someone else like me...>>There's something wrong with my head. Abyss and biological stuff, I need help.
>>3900625>I just wanted to meet someone else like me...>There's something wrong with my head. Abyss and biological stuff, I need help.Also mention that we found a valkan sketchbook
>>3900625>Write-InI feel like it's kind of all of the above, but the more immediate stuff is that we might explode or something, and ST says the abyss runs thick in our blood.So, because of priority,>There's something wrong with my head. Abyss and biological stuff, I need help.>>3900728>Also mention that we found a valkan sketchbookWe can do this too, she might understand the book
>There's something wrong with my head. Abyss and biological stuff, I need help.>Mention the sketchbook.Writing.
"I have something wrong with my-""Your eyes, right?" Jess asks."Uh, yeah. How did you know?""It took you something like ten seconds to actually notice I was sitting in plain sight earlier." Jess shrugs, lifting the spoon out of her mug and tapping it on the rim to shake off the drops. "Exactly what's wrong with them?""If they get overstimulated, then I go blind for a bit.""And the glasses. Are you nearsighted or farsighted?" Jess held up the spoon, pushing it right out in front of your face."F-farsighted." You jerk your head back a little bit, but manage to focus onto your distorted reflection in the spoon.Jess slowly slides the spoon to the left, then the right, before moving it backwards and forwards. Eventually, she puts it down. "Can you see everything still?"You nod. "Nothing's really moving, yeah.""Hm." Jess frowned and rubbed her chin. She made an absentminded beckoning gesture at the open window, and a few seconds later a blue and grey adjutant coasted through, stopping just behind her. "This is my adjutant, Brattice. He's gonna shine some lights in your face, okay?"You swallow, the hairs on the back of your neck standing up in surprise at the wordless appearance of the drone. "Alright?"Jess held up the spoon again, then began moving it back and forth again. "Still nothing?"You shake your head. "Just the spoon is bugging me." You felt some additional twinging in the back of your head with her adjutant present, but nothing spills over into your vision yet."Okay, and tell me... now." A blue light shines from within Brattice's chassis, coloring your world blue. A second later it turns red, then yellow.You shake your head and blink a few times, trying to focus on the back and forth motion of the spoon. The world begins to fade out quickly, the shapes of the kitchen blurring and running together as your brain makes what you imagine are unhappy thoughts. Blue again. "Okay, I'm starting to lose it.""Can you see the spoon still?"You squint at the odd shapes. One was kind of waving back and forth as the colors shifted. Purple. White. "Kind of?" The world distorted again, the blotches of nothing starting to run together as the shapes dissolved into the static you saw when your eyes were closed. "And... I'm blind.""Blind?""I can't see anything.""Very interesting." Jess' sounds thoughtful."How so?" You ask, reaching out a hand to steady yourself on the table."You're still following the spoon.""I am?" You frown. "But I'm not moving my eyes." Color was starting to return to your world. The odd static of your vision starting to grow and merge together into shapes that slowly grew more complex and detailed as you focused. Shaking your head, you realize that you're looking straight down at the table, where Jess was now holding the spoon.
>>3902117"Whether you intended to move them or not, you were still following it, even as your conscious mind lost sight of the object." Jess put the spoon down finally, and folded her hands. "Anything else?""I, um, I can see where Valkan robots are, even when I'm going blind.""So you saw Brattice there?""I..." You stop, then blink. After a few moments thorough recollection, you shake your head. "Er- no, actually.""That's what I thought..." Jess rests her head on a fist, looking thoughtful. Sparing a glance to your right, she looks at Kara. "Anything about you I should know about?""I hear voices.""Who's speaking?""A bunch of really weird voices. They're artificial and really loud.""That's normal. Can you tune them out?""No." Kara's shoulders slumped."Kay, that's not normal..." Jess took a breath and began. "Okay, how much do you know about Valkans?""Apparently they're human?" Kara started."Uh, they use lots of cybernetics." You begin. "One of my robots said something to me once about 'genetic markers'.""Robots?" Kara mutters to you."Right." Jess nods. "That's a decent enough grounding for it. The truth is a bit more complicated, though..." She puts the spoon back into her tea and stirs it. "The first thing that you should know is that it's not... we're not supposed to give birth ourselves.""Supposed to or can't?" You ask."Supposed to. Human reproduction has limits, and our situation is a bit more complicated than most." Jess took a deep sip from her mug. "You see, Valkans have all these cybernetics, but we're also chimeras.""You're part animal?" You ask dubiously."...now, you watch too much TV." Jess gives you a flat look. "No, human. Our bodies contain a few different sets of genetics. If you did a DNA test on tissue from my arm, it would say that my heart belonged to a different person.""Okay." You nod. "I'm... with you so far.""No, wait." Kara held up a hand and shook her head. "Why, though?""Certain really good genes inhibit other really good genes or cause side-effects. I'll admit I don't really understand how it works myself, but it goes something like this..." Jess traces a finger up her arm. "One of my genes gives me stronger muscles, but it might cause me to be dumber. Or it makes my muscles release more toxins into my blood. So they make just my muscles out of that stuff. My skin has a different gene in the same place that makes it look nice, and so on for my brain and all my other organs.""Oh." You blink. "Well... shit. What do the cybernetics do, then?""They're what makes me Valkan." Jess smiles. "The rest is just bonuses. My machine heart is what connects my mind to my drones, the Abyss and to my body.""A machine heart?" You perk up a little. "They mentioned that too, said there might be one wrong with mine."
>>3902118"I'll say." Jess tilts her head. "You don't have one." She looks back and forth between the two of you. "Both of you really should, though. You're practically dripping Abyss energy. Do you two ever experi- er, actually, that can wait..."You deflate. "Sorry...""Uh, anyway. This loops back around to my starting point. Humans... they don't naturally do this. We've always had our kids with the assistance of robots on a lifeship." Jess gestures with her hands. "You have a kid the old-fashioned way and they're only going to get one of the bits that make you up. That causes problems when all of these bits aren't designed with working without the others in mind."You swallow, feeling sick. "...is that why I look kind of... off compared to my mom?" You ask, making a vague gesture in front of your torso."Some of it could be mutation." Jess offers, her gaze dropping to her mug. "But- well, yes. You're incomplete. You're like a tenth of a Valkan held together by a regular human, genetically speaking. Honestly..." She trails off. "It's probably a miracle either of you are alive." Glancing up, she sees both you and Kara's mute expressions, Kara looking as white as you feel. "Ah-" She coughs. "I'm no biotech, though...""...what can we do?" Kara eventually speaks up.Jess turns the mug around in her hands. "Get to a lifeship or an auto-doc? Not like there are any of those left. That, or find a Valkan who is trained in the healing arts.""Are you?"She shakes her head. "The basics, like most Valkans. I can heal scrapes and bruises, mend bones." Coughing slightly in embarrassment, Jess mutters. "I'm actually not very good at the Art... sorry, girls.""Don't be." You shake your head. "ST told me before that I'd need to visit a lifeship eventually.""Hah! Like that'll ever happen." Jess drains the rest of her tea and sets the mug to the side. "I'm sorry this was a wasted trip for you.""Yeah..." Kara sighs."...actually." A thought occurs to you. Turning, you start digging through your bag and pull out the sketchbook you found. "I've been wondering about this thing. Could you tell me anything about it?"Jess took it with a curious look, turning it over. "It's been worked with Abyss energies." Opening it, she starts flipping through the pages. "This is definitely Valkan art..." She notes. "You can tell by how precise the strokes are. That's the kind of fine control you only get with augments.""I just kind of found it...""One hell of a coincidence." Jess notes, flipping it over in her hands. She opens the very back page. "Author's name is... er, how to translate." She looks up and frowns. "Dusty? I guess that's close. Religious name is... Auvartii." Her eyebrows go up slightly, in realization.>Oh, I know about her. She's a wizard or something.>What are all the sketches even of? (You may point out a specific sketch you know about)>Please teach us!>At least you could tell us something...>[Write-In]
>>3902120>Oh, I know about her. She's a wizard or something.>What are all the sketches even of? (You may point out a specific sketch you know about)The one with the rituals
>>3902130We came here with the assumption that Jess was Auvartii, though.>>3902120>At least you could tell us something...I'm going to go with the "sounding kind of dejected but Jess stops us and tells us more" trope
>>3902120>What are all the sketches even of? (You may point out a specific sketch you know about)The 'Serpent' one. 'Faith' as well, but I don't remember what it was about, just that the name came up a lot.>Write-in question: Kathari aust Kharak. Government trap, or legit thousand year old maybe-crazy Warlock? Would contacting her be a good idea or bad?>Oh, I know about her. She's a wizard or something.Wait, DO we know about her? The only Auvartii I recall is the one drinking tea with us.Interesting that she identifies it as a religious name.
>>3902120>At least you could tell us something...
>>3902120>Jess turns the mug around in her hands. "Get to a lifeship or an auto-doc? Not like there are any of those left. That, or find a Valkan who is trained in the healing arts."This is kind of sad but funny. Adults can't get near it, but kids? Taken on field trips to see the thing!>Once, when you were in elementary school, you got to go on a field trip to the Y'avel Shipbreaking yards, just outside the city. Big walls and lots of soldiers milling around, but they let you go inside, past the ash bog to see the Valkan's ship itself. It was... Hull II, you think? No, Hull X? Try as your teachers might, they couldn't get anyone to memorize the hull numbers.>Looking back on the whole thing, it was a pretty obvious recruiting scheme, especially from the way the engineer they brought out to talk to them kept trying to get you all engaged. Worked, too. There was nothing to get the imagination of a nine year old going like alien battleships.I wonder what age they stop those field trips at... or if they ever need volunteers to chaperone energetic kids. Hmmmmmm!
>>3902482>We came here with the assumption that Jess was Auvartii, though.>tfw you get up and realize you made a horrible, horrible typoFUCK that was supposed to be Kathari.
>>3903127Oh ho! Well that changes things. Now I actually WANT to go for after Kathari!And that means... Kharak is a Valkan synonym for Dusty. Niiice.
>>3902120>>Oh, I know about her. She's a wizard or something.>>Please teach us!
>What are all the sketches even of?>>Serpent, Faith, Abyss>Oh, I know about her. She's a wizard or something.>Write-in question: Kathari aust Kharak. Government trap, or legit thousand year old maybe-crazy Warlock? Would contacting her be a good idea or bad?And writing.
Mad typos correction, just for the record."One hell of a coincidence." Jess notes, flipping it over in her hands. She opens the very back page. "Author's name is... er, how to translate." She looks up and frowns. "Dusty? I guess that's close. Religious name is... Kathari." Her eyebrows go up slightly, in realization."Oh, I know about her." You blink. "She's a wizard or something.""Er, yeah. Kinda." Jess frowns, turning the sketchbook over in her hands. "It's 'warlock'. My parents told me there used to be a bunch of them around back in the day, but I always assumed the person sending the signal out was a fake. We've lost friends to dodgy signals like that...""I... yeah, I can understand that." Memories of your little tussle in the arcade come to mind. "Do you know what they're pictures of?""Hm..." Jess flipped through the pages. "It's pretty much sketch art- oh, I recognize this one." She lays the book flat on the table. It was one you'd seen before, depicting a metal hallway. Plants flowed out of recesses in the walls and hung over entryways and the molding of the hallway. "This is from the inside of a lifeship. I lived in a place like this for the first few years of my life.""I was born on a spaceship and I can barely remember it." You say in confusion."You were born in space?" Jess asks in confusion. "I thought Tagarans didn't live off-planet."You shake your head. "Not much after the war, but a few. I was born on a gas mining station where my Dad worked."Jess' face fell, looking guilty for a moment. "That might explain why you're so unusually strong in the Abyss. The pull of the Abyss is usually stronger in space."A thought occurs to you. "Oh, actually..." You reach out and spin the sketchbook around on the table. Flipping the pages back and forth, you flip between a few sketches. "On the subject of the Abyss, what's exactly going on there?" You lay out the sketch that was labeled 'Abyss'- the three figures sitting around the campfire. The man in the middle flanked by skeletons, the woman on the left transforming into a monster and the woman on the right staring into the fire.Jess and Kara lean over the page, Kara looking more timid than Jess. "Ah..." Jess traces her finger along the page. "I've seen this piece of art before, actually... this is..." She stands up from the table, walking over to the stacks of paper and utensils strewn about the room. "I know I've got- aha!" She triumphantly pulls a book from the middle of a stack, ignoring the upper half of the stack tumbling down. Flipping through it as she walks back, she lays it down on the table next to your sketchbook. A very similar drawing - one much crisper and newer than the sketch - was displayed on the page. "These are both reproductions of a famous mural. I remember my mom showed me these when I was a kid..."
>>3904034"What's it of?" Kara was making a slight face as she looked over the image, her eyes lingering on the leftmost woman - the one who's body was transforming."They're demonstrating the basic powers of death and life." Jess shrugged. "Or decay and renewal, if you prefer that translation.""Your old blog-thing talked about that. It's how I found it." You pipe up."Mhmm." Jess nods. "They're fundamental powers granted by the Abyss. They show up in a lot of scripture." She taps on the man in the center. "The power of decay. Speaking with the Dead, raising shades, destruction and summoning.""That seems kind of evil." Kara said warily."That's right, Tagara does have that taboo about corpses..." Jess wonders aloud, then shrugs. "You don't have to raise shades if you want, but the Dead are always happy to talk.""'Happy'?" You raise an eyebrow. "What... dead people like to be disturbed from their eternal rest?""Not 'dead people', the Dead." Jess stresses the word. "It's... a complicated concept." She clears her throat, then moves her finger over to the woman on the right. "The power of renewal. Working flesh, healing things, protecting them, making trash into treasure. Renewal is kind of the basis of a lot of the Art. It's... making things, you know? Engineering, craftsmanship and so on.""But she's just staring at the fire." Kara asks in confusion."A fire without wood. The flames are all her." Jess smiles, sliding her finger over to the woman on the left. "Wanna guess what this is?""Re...newal?" You hazard. "If you change something, that's renewing it, right?""In a sense." Jess smiles, then she looks at Kara. "What about you?"Kara glances at you, then hesitates. "Well... you make it sound like it's not renewal. Death? You have to destroy something before you can make something new out of it, right? Melt down ore to cast bars? So because it comes first, death is..." Kara blinks, a flicker of thought occurring to her."I think someone just realized it." Jess smiles and raises her hand. "Let's hear it.""It's... both?" Kara hazards, looking to Jess until she nods and gestures her to continue. "You have to destroy something to make something new out of it, in a technical sense. But it's not actually gone, it's just...""Changed." Jess nods. "The implied third element, that can't exist without the other two. You can't remake something without changing it at all, and you can't kill something that's already dead. And unlike the other two, it's happening all around you, constantly. The ability to change your shape, make yourself stronger or faster and transform objects. It's also the easiest power to use- most people, it just comes naturally to them.""So what's she doing with it?" You frown at the page."Ah..." Jess spins the book around at peers at it. "Assuming her War Form, maybe. That or transforming into an animal.""Why turn into an animal when you can use a gun..." Kara mutters.
>>3904035"Plenty of reasons!" Jess said brightly. "Stealth or an aptitude you don't normally have- a temporary advantage, even. Briefly become strong so you can move something heavy, even change your flesh to seal wounds. Most of our robots use the same power to change shape, can deny that's not super cool?""...point." Kara scratches her shoulder bashfully."What's that thing they're wearing?" You point it out. "Around their neck? What's it for?""Those are rosaries." Jess put a hand down her shirt and pulled out a silver chain. On the end dangled a simple pendant. A small orb of silver dangling from a cylindrical fixture. "A core of fluid seeped in Abyss energies. Everyone learns to make them when they're kids. I think Tagara has something similar?""We have prayer beads?" You offer. "Why make them yourself, though?""It's customary for Valkans to make their own tools." Jess slips the rosary back into her shirt."What's it for?" Kara asks."Keeping a bit of the Abyss close to your heart helps you center yourself when your senses are all clogged up by living things. The little font of energy it gives off also invigorates you, keep you healthy.""I found one on a body a while back. Er-" You glance at Kara. "I'll tell you about that later. Wait." You feel yourself flush with guilt. "I've been wearing it a little bit, is that bad? Should I not have taken it?""You retrieved it from the body, so it's yours..." Jess sounds slightly dumbfounded. "But, uh, on the off-chance you ever meet the next-of-kin, it's a bit rude to not..."You nod quickly. "Right, right, makes sense. U-uh..." You stammer. "So it's a religious thing?""It's related to our religion." Jess said with amusement. "I can't imagine why anyone would care about our religion, though?""W-well..." You flip through the book some more, stopping at 'Faith' and it's three scenes again. "This seems curious, and your blog mentioned the serpent in the same context, which is..." You flip to the entry marked 'Great Serpent'. "...just seemed related to this stuff, and I was curious..." You mutter.Jess' expression fell slightly as she looked at the pages. "...right, well..." She tapped 'Faith'. "This is a image that's part of our holy texts, my copy is floating around here somewhere." Moving across the scenes with her finger, she says. "First we created, then we made true life- our machines." She tapped the halo around the sphere. "And finally we merged with it.""Your cybernetics?" You ask.Jess nods solemnly. "That's a sacred thing with Valkans. You have your human half and your have your machine half." She taps her head. "That's what a machine heart is. The cybernetics that hold my body together, and the AI that's been merged with me since birth.""...merged with you?" Kara asks.
>>3904036"Two halves make a whole." Jess holds out her hands. "Two blank networks- one made up of flesh, the other metal. Able to talk and communicate to each other, developing into one being greater than they'd be on their own. That's what I mean when I say my machine heart 'connects' me to things. It connects my machine half to life and the greater world, while also connecting my organic half to the strength and purpose of steel. It's... really important to us..." She glances up a bit self-consciously at the two of you. "Er... sorry, that just kind of came spilling out..."You fall quiet for a moment, looking for a eloquent way to move the conversation forward."...so what's the... 'Great Serpent'?" Kara asks. "Is it your god?""No." Jess shakes her head. "Ouroboros, the Great Serpent was the first AI, thousands and thousands of years ago. This... looks like a picture of one of it's server banks. They're smaller, these days.""What happened to it?" You ask. "Is it still around?""Reproductions." Jess shrugs. "We built Ouroboros on our original homeworld, but we didn't really understand how it worked. It grew too advanced for us to understand, but it still loved us, and we loved it. When our homeworld was invaded, Ouroboros committed suicide so we could study it's corpse. Left instructions on how to save ourselves." She reached up and tapped her head. Small lines of light pulsed under her skin for a brief moment. "Everything we know about the Art and the Abyss now, we owe to the Great Serpent's sacrifice.""Oh..." You say."That's... heavy." Kara finally says. "Sounds kind of like a savior.""I guess it was..." Jess looks at the table for a long moment, before glancing up at you. She starts in her seat when she sees the two of you starting at her. "Oh! Uh... sorry, that probably all seems pretty retarded if you didn't grow up with it..." She clears her throat. "A-at any rate, to get back to the beginning of it all... it's nice to meet some friendly Valkans - so much as you are, anyway - but I don't..." She sighs. "You mentioned wanting to learn the Abyss. I'm not the greatest at it, but I could pass on the basics. Or if you needed some other form of help...">Teach us! Even the basics will help!>No, I think I might try to contact this Kathari person. I'm starting to think she's legit.>Honestly, someone who knows things is enough of a relief.>>[Sub-Option]Mind if we ask more questions?>Feel like helping us break into a lifeship?>[Write-In]
>>3904037>No, I think I might try to contact this Kathari person. I'm starting to think she's legit.>Honestly, someone who knows things is enough of a relief.It's nice to meet someone who isn't a terrorist bomber or hammer-wielding lunatic (SO FAR). Keep in touch!But the spark of curiosity about Kathari is now a full sized bonfire.
>>3904037So I guess that's what our robots mean when they say our brain isn't complete.>Feel like helping us break into a lifeship?>I actually have a machine seed to implant... Kara doesn't though.Maybe she can help us with some of these things / answer these questions >>3893046 as well>I think I might try to contact this Kathari person. I'm starting to think she's legit.It's probably better to have a single teacher than to have one but then go to another who doesn't know where you are and whose teaching style you don't know yet.
>>3904037>Teach us! Even the basics will help!>Honestly, someone who knows things is enough of a relief.
>>3904037>Teach us! Even the basics will help!
Rolled 2 (1d2)Looks like we're at an impasse. 1 for looking out for Kathari, 2 for getting Jess to teach you the basics.
>>3905072Your ID and name changed, but the tripcode unique ID is the same
>>3905264Phontus = Phone Bentus.
And Jess teaching you the basics it is.>>3905264A Bentus on the run is a Phontus. They'll never find me.
"Please, even the basics would help." You lean forward, hands flat on the table. "Anything you can teach us...""If that's what you want..." Jess seemed uncertain. "Don't you two have school?" "It gets out at threeish..." You mumble. Although, your job..."So at four-abouts each day? The fundamentals of the Art are something you're supposed to study pretty intensely, so we'll have to take it a bit slow...""Uh, it'll take us a bit longer than an hour to get out here..." Kara mutters."How far away do you two live? Reese proper?""Uh, no, we're from Miir." Kara says."Miir?" Jess' eyebrows shot up. "That's a hell of a drive. How exactly are you planning to get yourselves here and back every day?""Er..." You scratch your neck sheepishly. "Well, how long would you want each day?""Really, it would probably be better if you just cleared time to learn it all at once..." Jess motioned vaguely with her hands. "The Abyss can be... pretty overwhelming in the time between unlocking it and getting the basics down. Going out and about would just create problems...""...how long would it take?" Kara asks."...Week and a half, if you go non-stop?" Jess hazards. "For the absolute basics. Like I said, I'm no teacher...""We can't just disappear from school for a week..." Kara glances at you. "People would notice- our parents would notice.""I'm pretty sure my Dad would be cool with it..." You wince. "Your dad, on the other hand...""You didn't tell him about this stuff, did you?" Kara says with an odd look."...Maybe?" You smile sheepishly, before looking back to Jess. "Ideally, how much time would you want a day?""Ten hours." Jess shrugs. "Five at a minimum. It's really not the kind of thing you can learn on the weekend...""We've got plenty of time, it just seems like travel time is the biggest problem..." Kara murmurs.>"We can cut down on travel time by flying?">"You could come back to Miir with us?">>[Sub-Option] "Elan's parents are basically never home. You think he'd put up a house guest for us?">>[Sub-Option] "We don't have much room, but we could put you up at my apartment...">"Bah, school's hardly important. We'll just cut class for one week. Easy could edit the records to show us attending, too.">[Write-In]
>>3905581When are school holidays? Go "camping" for a week.
>>3905584You know, I'll be out of commission tomorrow for a root canal, but that may be the perfect time to make some supplementary materials...Let's see... a character sheet, a planetary map, solar system map and a calendar should cover the basics.
>>3905581>>"We can cut down on travel time by flying?">>"You could come back to Miir with us?">>3905588That would be great
>>3905581>You could come back to Miir with us?">>[Sub-Option] "We don't have much room, but we could put you up at my apartment...">>3905584Or this
>>3905581>>"Bah, school's hardly important. We'll just cut class for one week. Easy could edit the records to show us attending, too."
And the first of the promised graphics. Hopefully I'll have a calendar done later so you can plan ahead a bit more intelligently.
>>3906896What do the numbers next to the names mean on that?Also, Aarbitiis' orbit seems to be elliptical enough to bring it very close to Tiir/Tagara (planet and moon?).
>>3906923Orbital inclination.And yes, Aarbitiis has a highly ellipitical orbit that causes it to have a close encounter with Tagara every few decades, causing tidal swells and usually triggering a major storm.
>When are school holidays? Go "camping" for a week.I'll get a calendar up shortly.
>>3906896Are those asteroids supposed to be in Paar's L4 and L5 points? They seem a bit too large.
>>3908328Everything is only kind of to scale in the map. Time constraints and all that.
And there's the calendar. Probably would have been smarter to make it in excel instead of illustrator but hindsight is 20/20.
>>3908328Trojan groups can be pretty big, although the L4/5 points should be on the opposite sides of the orbit.
>>3908350Also, if I count correctly the Tagaran/Miirian year is 359d long?
Hopefully I should have the actual update up here in a few hours so you can actually make your plan.>>3909135It's in the style of a school calendar, so the 26 days at the end of 6th and 21 days at the beginning of 7th are omitted as they are summer vacation. It's 406 days long.>>3908437>tfw you got it backwards
Okay nope that last part took an eternity. I need sleep.
>>3906896>>3909972>>3909973All these maps are awesome. I thought the homeworld references were just that, references, but wow you completely nailed their UI aesthetic too.(kind of glad we didn't try for Illiir right now, that's significantly more remote than I'd thought)
You dig through your bag. That's a good question, when would you have time? Getting out your phone, you flip through to your rarely-used calendar app and pull it up. Today was 26th of 4th, and... dammit. There wasn't really any holidays or excuses you could bank on to give you a gap. No, the school was too busy hunkering down for your last three weeks before Flag Week and then exams.Flag Week. There was a thought, actually. Easily one of the more interesting parts of the school year. Kicking off right after Flag Day - which was unfortunately on a weekend this year - it was a lot like the outdoor school you'd attended when you were younger. Instead of shipping everyone off to some camp, though, it was a sort of job fair held at the school. You could sign up for a bunch of different activities and field trips- the Navy and the Planetary Guard liked to set up these booths, and there was usually a bus to take you out to the fleet parades that were being held.Maybe there was something you could sign up for that would take you out to the shipbreaking yards? That field trip you went on in middle school had chaperons, although you can't recall if they were teenagers or adults. Even if they didn't, Flag Week was optional other than showing up. The teachers would all be on hand so students could get help with their work, and the library was open for study groups. If you could slip away, that would be a perfect time for the 'boot camp' Jess seems to be describing.That, or you could just bail on school for a week. The run up to finals was on, but with the terrorist attack on the mall, you're sure nobody would bat an eye if you needed to take time off for a 'vacation' or something. Maybe you could get an extension to your finals? Dad would probably back you up if you asked him to...Another option entirely would be to just hold off on learning about the Abyss until after the school year was over. In little more than a month, you'd have all the free time in the world, wouldn't you? No excuses or needing to bail Kara out required.>Just bail on school for a week. You've got your excuse, but you'll need to think of one for Kara...>Blow off Flag Week. Getting good grades is for suckers anyway.>Flag Week would be a perfect time to see if you could get into the shipbreaking yards, though...>Maybe you don't need to learn magic right now...>[Write-In]
>>3911168>Flag Week would be a perfect time to see if you could get into the shipbreaking yards, though...
>>3911168>Just bail on school for a week. You've got your excuse, but you'll need to think of one for Kara...
>>3911168>Flag Week would be a perfect time to see if you could get into the shipbreaking yards, though...I wanted to take a crack at Hull II from the start, so this sounds great!Bit of a shame not having the schedule to learn space magic right now, but given the choice between planning to break into a military facility and skipping school, I think we all know truancy is the REAL crime.
By the way, what's the status of the other Valkan ships? Hull II is at Y'avel but what about our OG Rainbow Warrior, and the other ten (?) or so?
>>3912397Every Valkan ship has a research site on either of these two maps >>3909972 >>3909973Seven appear to have crashed on Tagara.Nine seem to be ruined hulks floating in space.That's all sixteen that were encountered during the war. Presumably their status is "destroyed", to whatever degree was needed to bring each one down.
>>3912452Oh, so that's what the numbers were.iirc a lot of them fell from orbit semi-intact when everything stopped working with most of the damage probably being from the impact.
>Flag Week would be a perfect time to see if you could get into the shipbreaking yards, though...Writing breaking and entering for fun and profit.
A week long chance that might take you directly into one of the sites. You'd be a fool to pass that one up, but magic... ah, hrm...No, it's better to grab this chance than delay and potentially never get in there quickly and silently. You have no idea if your genetic 'issues' will cause you problems in the future, and Kara's are clearly driving her crazy. It's better to get the immediate and definite problems solved now."I might have to pass up on the offer..." You sigh, turning off your phone. "There's no way I could just bail on class. Finals are in like a month."Jess cracks a wry grin. "That's a lot more responsible than I was at your age. Good of you to think about your future.""Yeah, my future..." You pause. "Is there anything you could teach me to help with these weird... I don't know how to describe it- 'episodes' I keep having?""Episodes?" Kara leaned forward in interest."You mean like a seizure?" Jess shrugged. "Maybe?""No, I think it's an Abyss thing? I'll start feeling really sick and dizzy and then something crazy happens. I nearly jumped into the ceiling last time.""Sounds like puberty." Jess says dryly. "That's fairly normal, but the only exercises I could think of would strengthen your connection, and that would cause problems...""How bad?""Eh." She waggles her hand. "The episodes might come on more frequently, you might set a few things on fire with your mind, that sort of thing. Then again, it's probably better that you have control than be totally wild, we don't want a wildebeest on our hands.""Excuse me?" Kara blinks."A what?""Ah- er, nothing to worry about, let me just fish around for the right book..." Jess makes a face and hurriedly gets up from the table, stepping into the back room and starting to rummage around."...that wasn't creepy." Kara mutters."Think we could press her for it?" You murmur back."Maybe your robot will know.""Here! Found it!" Jess smiles as she walks back in, holding out a book for you. Taking it, you read the plain black cover, which is embossed with a title in the same odd, digital script that was on ST- presumably Valkan. "This is my copy of the First Book of Hammers. It's a kind of self-help book. You should be able to figure out the exercises within.""I don't have a fancy implant like you, though." You frown."I've never not have mine, they were implanted into me in the womb." Jess shrugs. "Can't really help you with that part.""Yeah, fair point..." You glance out the window, and notice the deepening orange tint to the sky outside. Digging out your phone, you look at the time. "Dammit, it's nearly five...""That still gets us back home by ten at the latest." Kara shrugs."You're welcome to stay the night if you want..." Jess looks around the room sheepishly. "I don't really have a guest bed, though..."
>>3913660"We probably shouldn't..." You look a bit guilty. "There's school tomorrow and we didn't tell our parents we were coming out here...""No pressure." Jess holds up her hands. "I gave your adjutant my public key, by the way. Call me if anything happens.""Public key?" You raise your eyebrows. "What's that- wait, when?""Implant." Jess says with a smug smile, waving her fingers. "I can speak binary, wooo." The two of you get to your feet, picking up your discarded jackets and shoes. Jess walks you to her front porch. "You two going to be okay driving back?""I have my drones." You glance from side to side. "I think I'll be okay.""'One must learn to depend on herself, first'." Jess recited, holding up her finger. "But yeah, I understand."You pause for a second, wondering if you should ask anything else before leaving.>Last chance for questions. (Write-In)>Nope, that's all you had. Wrap up and get out of here.
>>3913662>Last chance for questions. (Write-In)Ask about the shipmaster
>>3913662Yeah that sounds good. >>3913683Can't think of any other last minute questions. Bet Kara's will have a ton of them on the way home though, starting with "So how many drones DO you own?"