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/qst/ - Quests

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Hornmothers play poker too, they bet snacks instead of coins. There is, as you can guess,
no objective value for a check. Lengthy disagreements spawn about the value of each
snack, halting the game more than once since every hornmother (and every haremhorn, and
every nohorn like you) has different preferences.

Usually, it goes like this:

"That slice has apple, add more."

The hornmother sitting in front of her puff her cheeks and glares, both surrounded by the big
cave-like living room, their knees on wet, green grass. Stones like small hills are scattered
over dirt, as smallhorns try to climb them and haremhorns watch them intently.

"Apples are nice." retorts the hornmother. "Very nice!" she adds, menacingly.

"Apples are /not/ nice." The other hornmother corrects, like an old scholar near a big
telescope. "The skin is dry and it's hard to bite, so put one more."

"But apples are juicy!"

"Apples are gross!"

"Then why do you want more?!"

"To have more to bet, you /dummy/!"

"I check-" says the broken horn Leader, staring at the hornmothers as she sits on a rock next
to Ado, dwarfed by the massive rectangular mirror behind her, "-and add five more to the
one on the left."

"I check, and that's fucking it," Ado says as he sits squats next the broken horn Leader, her
back shining back the light of the sun.

And sitting behind the both of them, you grin while carefully arranging your small picnic and
tea cups, almost mischievously, towards the broken horn. While the hornmother bet among
themselves, Ado and the broken horn Leader made a habit of betting on which was going to
jump the other one first. They bet and bet then check, and wait for the reactions the
hornmothers give as they check in their own game.

You are not particularly fond of it (you can't help being repelled by violence, no matter how
hard you try) but she ever rarely goes out lately, and this strange habit seems to do her

"You are so fucking fucked mi amigo," Ado adds with an ironically bleak face, as she turns
to stare at the broken horn Leader with a wide smile. "I'm the top-man of the hornmothers, I've
grown bullying hornmothers, know more about hornmothers than I know about my daddy."

"I /am/ a hornmother." As the broken horn Leader's words die out, one of the hornmothers
smashes a cupcake against the floor and the other gasps. "Ten to the one on the left."

"Check and five more." The shirtless, muscular blonde says, half his face shining. "You'll learn."
He pauses as the hornmothers stand to yell at one another, drawing some haremhorns to
them. "Also do those fucks hate you or what?"

"Hate is fear of effort; they don't talk even behind my back." She feels the picnic behind
her with a hand as she talks, you quickly get a small carrot square with cheese near it. "Do not
misunderstand, I'm completely okay with this. You can be happy alone, too." She gets the
square to her mouth, chews, and grimaces.

Ado shrugs"I dunno, I didn't say anything about that."

"I check."

The hornmothers sit at once, looking at each other dead in the eye.

"Here comes the river," Ado says, grabbing the broken horn's Leader hand by mistake as he
searches for a snack. Regardless, he brings her hand to his mouth and chews softly, as the
himehorn stares meekly. "Twastes laik sad ffuck-"

You raise both eyebrows, suddenly concerned. The broken horn Leader points at the
hornmothers from Ado's mouth. They are just... fixed on each other, not even moving. "Ten to
the one on the left."

Ado spits her mouth. "Motherfucker." He sits like the Thinker sculpture for a while. Then he
raises his head and long, shining hair. "Go Arma if you are so fucking miserable, the First
is making new ones for free you know."

"Ado!" You blurt out, your eyes wide as you jump to a stand. Yet a small, drooling hand
stops you, and the broken horn Leader doesn't even turn to look at you.

"Let him talk.." She says, turning to look at you blankly. "I've grown... tired of politeness and
mind games, lately. Conversations get turned into laberinths."

"There's no need to be mean either." You add regardless, a high pitch in your voice.

"Hey, it's me." Ado winks at you. "Take it as a vow of confidence, I'm betting she's not
retarded enough to get angry."

"What makes you think I'm sad?" She says, as the hornmothers silently grab their cards.

"You lie and you are on anti-depressants." He points out. "And you hear people dying all day.

"Showdown." Peacefully, the himehorn points at the himehorns; the one on the right grabs the
other by the horns and starts to shake them wildly, as the other sobs and screams. "Now
I'm sad."

The hornmothers are then finally separated by a crowd of haremhorns, yelling and pointing at
each other just like yesterday and the day before. Ado, the hornmother, and you just stare
at the peaceful scenery of green, stone and smallhorns, as the himehorns start to leave the
scene and the sun wanes behind you, to a pleasant orange.

"Think about it." Ado breaks the silence, still staring at the few smallhorns and haremhorns
playing around. "You could be like Happy. Happy."

The broken horn Leader chuckles. "She's called Happy because the last thing she said before
the treatment was 'I want to be happy'." She chuckles a bit more, perhaps a bit too much.
"Thus, her headband."

Ado turns fully to her. "Why are you doing this?" That might be the only time you ever saw
him serious. "You don't care about the hornmothers, and you never cared about the
humans before."

"It's a bet. A gamble." Yet she isn't looking at him. "In Poker, you make choices out of leads.
Vague leads; those are all you've got." She pauses to take a sip from her tea cup until she
finds it empty, then leaves it at her side for you to grab it. "What happens when you run out of

You glance at the cards in your hands, fast enough that a non-Fake wouldn't notice.

8 of hearts
8 of spades

Your orange eyes dart to the flop, almost floating over the clean glass table.

4 of diamonds
3 of diamonds
J of clubs

And finally, you look at Trash. Almost bluntly. You fix your eyes on her, adjusting your optics
as you stop the pulse not only of your face but of your whole body. One of the templar's
eyebrows tilts as she looks at you.

"I feel threatened.” Trash says.

"Sorry!" You blurt out, almost actually sorry.

Yet you do study her; she's concerned. There's no doubt at all about it.

Despite your programming allowing you into sculpture mode, some leak has been left in your
system to prevent you from landing in the uncanny valley. Small little gestures in your
face, slight trembles in your tights and

You wonder if she knows that.

"Raise!" you announce, perhaps a bit too eagerly, as you gently slide another flake next
to you. That makes three of them; that's the most you are willing to bet.

And you can see that the templar hesitates. Like a clay pot against a mild wind, they
wouldn't see it trembling, [s]but you would[/s]. You are.

"Check." Trash finally says, and Vaal lets out another uncalled "oooooooooooooooooooh!",
this time louder than the last. "Break my concentration and I'll break one of your legs."

Vaal giggles. " So mean! You'd have to princess-carry me then."

Trash looks at her. "I'd carry you over my shoulder like a log. Backwards."

"You like my butt that much?"

...Trash silently gets another flake on the table, then grabs the deck and takes another card
from it. It's the J of diamonds. And she's blushing.

You do your best not to grin; that makes it a double pair. A good hand, not a powerhouse but
it might work. Yet, you aren't betting more than three flakes.

"Check!" You blurt out, eagerly.

"Check." Trash replies, still hiding her face under her golden hair.

The turn dies out, and the river is dealt.

It's another J; the J of hearts. You glance at Trash and there's no doubt, for you, at all; her
eye are lit, even if her face is steady.

"Check." You say.

She puts three more flakes on the table, smiling, her face still a bit red. "Heating up the
toaster!" she visibly grins at you.

Trash still seems worried even after this newfound surge of confidence. You notice the
slight trembling, the excitement, the layers. Trash thinks she can win the showdown.

And you are /dead/ sure of this.
Right now we're sitting on a full house, but the odds are good that so is she. our two 8's would have to beat whatever her pair is. unless she has that last jack then we've guaranteed lost. Trash would know these odds very clearly, and despite her best efforts 4 of a kind really is an exciting hand.


We'll get it back next hand, there's a reason we didn't bid more than 3 flakes.

"Fold." You get the two cards to the muck. Carefully, you slide the flakes one by one
across the table; the last one was off the mark, and Trash had to catch it at the corner. She
grins slightly afterwards but has no comments as she passes the deck and the odd button.

You put your flake, deal the hand, and then look at your hole cards;

5 of diamonds
6 of diamonds

Hmm, this could work. Yet as you glance at Trash's poker face (which is pretty solid) you
can tell, again, that the templar has a good hand. Even before the flop. Silently, you check.
Trash doesn't raise. The flop is dealt, then.

6 of hearts
7 of diamonds
Ace of clubs.

As the ace of clubs is dealt, you don't fail to notice Trash subtly skipping a beat. "I raise
you." the templar drop a flake into the others, it bounces and shakes.

"Check." You get your own, reaching your limit.

The turn is dealt; 4 of hearts. Trash takes three flakes from the box with the headless
muscleman and bets them. She then winks at you.

"Fold." You giggle. "You look cute when you wink."

"No. Not you too." One of her eyes twitches.

"She's right, you know," Vaal adds to the fire.

Trash almost snatches the deck from your side, then merrily takes your three flakes. She leaves
the last of yours in front of her, then silently deals the card as you put the two of your big blind. You reach for your cards.

K of hearts
9 of clubs

"Check." the templar blurts out, and you can tell, again, that she at least has some cards.

Not pushing your luck, you deal the flop.

9 of spades
9 of hearts
3 of spades

You glance at your cards, and then at her, intently.

"Check." you say."

"Raise." she drops another flake.

"Check." you drop yours in front of you.

The turn is dealt. It's the ace of diamonds. You can /tell/ Trash is struggling to hold back the
Match her raise or raise it's our bid, any of the Kings or 3s gives us a full house, another 9 gives us four of a kind, and worst case we're sitting on 3 of a kind. If she has the other 9 then the tie goes to who even has the highest card in our hand and we have a king so we have very good odds of winning even then. The odds are much in our favor and Trash doesn't know it. Give her a bit of a stare again and play our raise with confidence, we'll act like we're "calling her bluff" (as she thinks she has a winning hand, but doesn't know quite how lucky we are on this one) to try to get her to bid a bit more. This one might actually come down to the cards if she takes our bait.
It's funny, Trash is in the same position we where in a few hands back, potentially sitting on a great hand but our opponent actually has an even better hand. Trash, unlike us, can't read us as well and thus doesn't have a tell to clue her in on that fact. It's that information asymmetry that is why, in the long run, we'll win. Even if Trash has a perfect poker face the best she can hope to do is break even. If no real information gets leaked the game basically becomes rock paper scissors add wet each have the same odds of getting a "good" AKA better than average. Fortunately for Trash how much we bet tells her something about our hand. Unfortunately for Trash we can manipulate that easily, our conservative play style can easily switch to aggressive with no way to tell that we're "bluffing" in that manner. Trash, despite her pokerface, still leaks some information that we can use to tell if she's trying a similar bluff.

Also, hi Dan! Come for the himehorn poker, stay for the mind games!
*Rock paper scissors and we each have the same odds of getting a good hand
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Did someone say mindgames? And Rock, Paper, Scissors?

... I'll stop now.
Almost missed this completely. Stupid work.

Nyandemo, this is all on you and I have total faith in you. I suck at cards. And dice. And several other things.

Keeping your absolute poker face on (almost absolute, for those with a keen eye), you grab
the box with the headless muscleman. Both Trash and Vaal lean in as you tilt it to your open
palm and shake; one flake, then another, and another one fall in, You drop it in the table,
giving Trash a subtly cheerful stare, making sure the templar notices.

"Raise," you say.

"Check." Even if its concealment is admirable, you read her excitement as if the word was
written all across the white page of a book in bold black letters. Hmm... will you be able to
read Nielly, though? It makes you wonder... Trash deals the river, finally. It's the 9 of

You glance at her. The excitement is still there.
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4 of a kind, king kicker. GG Trash. There's no way for a hand to make a straight flush with this deal, she can't match our 4 of a kind either so it's impossible for her to beat us.

Pick up the box and set it on the table, "All in."
and drop our pokerface, pic related.

How Trash reacts to this is going to be more useful of a test than evaluating her bluffing skills. Will she get wrapped up in her emotions and become vulnerable to manipulation in that way? Is she a risk-seeker (not necessarily a bad thing, but important to know for management)? And will she be able to figure out this is a pretty clear signal she's hosed? Or will she think it's a 3rd level bluff (acing like we've so thoroughly trounced her that we can drop our guard entirely) and match us, ending the game?

You grab the box. The /whole/ box. It's a small box, for a big box, so you gasp as you lift it and
it almost slides out of your hands as you drop it in front of you.

She knows. Trash knows what that means; you can tell, mainly, because her eyes are
completely open. Vaal whistles, sharply.

"My, my!" the older blonde says, giggling. "I though /you/ were going to do it."

The templar stands, much to your surprise and Vaal's. Her chin raised, her eyes stare at you
from above almost in disgust, as the dim light from the kitchen gives her face contrast. You
suddenly feel like a little boy that, carelessly, made a fat joke about the mom of the fat guy of
the class, who's staring straight at him as he realizes.

"Yes." Trash nods at you, slowly... almost approvingly. "Do it. Do it, Toasty."

You, em, blink a few times over. "Oh, oka-"

"Nein!" Vaal rumbles, sharply. She points at Trash, who seems to be glowing. "You first.

"Witness me, Corny." Trash kneels from across the table as if she were to swear an oath to
you, her Lord and Master. "Witness me."

Bending her head down, as blonde hair falls in cascade, she smashes the cards over the glass
table, face up. You lean to look in.

A of hearts
A of spades

Slowly but firmly, the templar raises her face at you. The poker face is gone for good; she's
smiling wildly.

"Full house."

"Four of a kind!" You reply, ecstatic, turning your cards around as you give small little jumps
of joy.

Her smile doesn't fade at once; it's a slow process.
Let ourselves enjoy our win for a few seconds longer before composing ourselves again and asking: "Do you want to keep playing? If you want to try and play your way back into the lead I wouldn't want to deny you the chance to, but leaving Vaal with the bill for your date is a bit tacky isn't it?"

I won't actually take all her money of course, I just needed it to get her to play seriously though the date is far better at that than the money seemed to be (which she's totally going on)
You sink your hand in the box, take a flake, leave in front of you, and just stare into it for a
while, smiling as your body shakes. The process is repeated thirteen more times.
There's no trace of Trash's smile at the end of it, as she sits like a normal person at her side.
Not even the memory.

"Do you want to keep playing?" You blurt out in joy, you high-pitched voice even more high
pitched. "If you want to try and play your way back into the lead I wouldn't want to deny you
the chance..." You manage a sly, yet warm, grin. "But leaving Vaal with the bill for your date
is a bit tacky, isn't it?"

Vaal laughs. "I always pay anyway!"

Yet Trash is silent, her head downcast. Both you and Vaal stare into each other, quizzically.

"Trash?" the older blonde asks, then leans a bit closer to the templar. "...Trash?"

Yet as Vaal reaches the templar's hair with her white, slender hand, the golden hair bursts like
the lights of day through a broken window.

"Alrighty, Toasty. I'll make you sell an arm." She gives you a fierce look, her shark smile at 100%. "Le-"

"Nononono, not so fast my dear.." Vaal cuts Trash, both you and the templar turn to look at
her with raised eyebrows. The older, yet soft blonde points at both cards over the table,
smiling almost bitterly.

"Those two, the ace of hearts and spades; they were in the flop of the first hand." She points
out, politely. "I'm right. Am I?"

One of Trash's eyes twitches. "Yes?" She pauses; then pouts. "Is something being implied
around here?"

"I just thought it was a lovely coincidence!" Vaal smiles, in a dazzling motherly fashion. She
stands and walks behind Trash, then hugs the templar from behind, warmly resting her chin
over her girlfriend's shoulder.

"I don't think you'd mind If i watch from here" she says, her words soft like a blanket.

You notice one of those little details on Trash's eyes as she stares at you; her eyes are very
blank. As if she was in some humble bit of despair.


You slowly take the deck from Trash's side, as she looks at you blankly. You then engage
pokerface.exe, standing at the edge of the uncanny valley with a frozen stare.

You place a flake, she places two. You deal the hole cards:

7 of spades
A of spades.

"Check!" you blurt out, like birds chirping as you put a flake.

Trash looks glances from above her cards. "I'm checking, too. Deal the thing."

You track no noticeable leads yet. The flop is dealt:

3 of clubs
2 of spades
K of spades

This time it's you who looks above her cards; from her poker face, you read wariness,
caution, and eagerness.

"I'm raising... I'm raising four." the templar's voice comes out sharp.
Fold. Our hand is crap and Trash would be super paranoid about a bluff, even if she would have no evidence for it.
Forgot my trip. Also lets pay a bit more attention to Trash's hands when dealing. Vaal might be watching, but she doesn't have 1k fps eyes.
"Fold," you state with a certain joy.

"Hmm". The templar picks up your hole cards and your two flakes from across the table, as
you focus every megapixel of your 1k fps stare into her hand. "If you girls look at my hands like
that they are going to melt."

Vaal giggles, then kisses her ear. Trash puts a flake, you put two. The hole cards are dealt.

Q of diamonds
Q of diamonds

...You study your cards intently. You glance at Trash from over them; the templar is fixed on

"Check." she says, neutrally.
Give them both a look: "Really?"
Flip over the two queen of diamonds in our hand. Vaal and Trash should both be easy to read at the same time and I can't put it past either of them to have been messing with the game, via Templar and/or AD shenanigans.

I'm really off my game right now. I almost missed that. In the reply I had a mention of how I had realized after the fact that cheating a bit would be a stupid move at face value, but it could be a valuable screen by forcing me to split my attention between her hands and her face. Now it's actually a bit of a show off move, given that she (might have) managed to do it without us noticing under high speed footage.

You look at Trash, and you look at Vaal. Then you flip your cards. "Really?" Catching both her
faces is easy; one is between surprise, glee and horror, and the other is between surprise,
astonishment, and relief. It lasts.. one second, at most.

"Corny! What the hell, what did you do?!" Trash is not even /trying/ at this point, she's almost

Vaal just stares her down with a half smirk, then shakes her head as the templar hides her
toothy smile between her hands. "Really? Like this?" the older one says, finally.

"Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww fuck." You hear from behind the hands, yet the voice has shows
neither regret or guilt.

"You know," Vaal adds, sweetly, "you just lost your whole salary."

You see Trash's nose going up and down between her hands. Vaal pats her head,

"So...?" Vaal finally starts.

As the templar drops her hand at the table, two cards slide from the sleeve of her yellow sporty

"Ooooooooh." Vaal grins, as you look at the cards.
"I'm too impressed to be mad, you where actually swapping in cards? I'm guessing while I was too busy trying to get a good read on your face then. Well at least i have an upper bound on what you'll lie for now... that's some valuable information and you've helped me improve my interview process and that deserves at least some kind of reward, so how about a 100% bonus to be paid in monthly installments over this next year. Sound fair to you? I can't say this game was really fair to begin with so I wasn't going to actually keep your salary. Without cheating you had better odds of winning an arm wrestling contest with a muscle-horn, a frenzied muscle-horn If I'm going all out. Though I do expect you to pay up on your date with Vaal, consider it paying back for all your ill gotten gains from playing poker against her."

If either of them asks why the game was so stacked against Trash explain our capabilities, how we where designed to be able to read and understand people from massive amounts of data and inference. They should know exactly what we can bring to the table.
"Yup." Trash nods, slowly taking in the reality. "I'm fucked."

Yet you giggle.

"I'm too impressed to be mad," you say, as you rest your elbows on the table, "you where
actually swapping in cards?"

Vaal squeezes her a bit tighter from behind her, drawing a very faint moan. "Why are there two
Q's of the same suit in the same the deck, that's so..." she starts, slyly.

"I took the aces from the first flop- as you well fucking noticed." Trash does a weird grimace.
"If you had counted the deck afterward and two cards were missing I would have been fucked.
My real bet was that the two filler cards I swapped for the aces weren't going to come in
together at the same goddamned hand."

"But that's so full of holes!" Vaal smirks. "I could have counted the deck face up, they
could have come out at any flop..."

"Best I could do." Trash shrugs.

You find yourself slowly shaking your head, not in contempt but in awe. "How did you even do
that? I was looking at you all the time." You ask the templar, who makes a point by darting her
eyes left and right. "I'm guessing while I was too busy trying to get a good read on your face
then. Well, at least I have an upper bound on what you'll lie for now... that's some valuable
information." You nod, and nod, smiling joyfully. "You've helped me improve my interview
process. That deserves at least some kind of reward, so how about a 100% bonus to be paid
in monthly installments over this next year?" Both blondes fix their eyes on you, as you tilt
your head and wave your hair. "Sounds fair to you?"

Trash pouts. "That's just only like %8.5 more each mo-"

"Thank you! That's so nice of you!" The templar's face is promptly shoved aside by a
slender white hand, as Vaal beams at you. "You shouldn't even be doing this. She lost, that's it,
end of story."

You shake your head, this time firmly. " can't say this game was really fair to begin with so
wasn't going to actually keep her salary. Without cheating, she had better odds of
winning an arm wrestling contest with a muscle-horn, a frenzied one if I'm going all out."

"See? That's what I'm saying!" Trash adds, pleadingly. "I couldn't do jack fucking shit! It's
exactly like playing poker against a real fucking toaster, there were no clues or leads or

"What happens when you run out of leads...?" you just say, suddenly deep in though. Then
you smile. "My poker face isn't perfect, though." You raise a finger. "There is a leak in
my gestures."

One of the templar's eye twitches. "You said you had, and I quote, 'I have absolutely /no/
pulse or nerves since I am, after all, just a goddamned toaster.'"

"Aw, don't be so hard on yourself, Roomba." Vaal winks at you from Trash's shoulder. "You
are a good toaster. A very very good one!"

You laugh.

Vaal laughs a bit with you, then cuts herself short."I do have to say, I'm kinda curious. You
took all the right calls, even if you had to give some flakes." Which Trash is now munching
on. "Is there something we might be missing? Or is that just a Fake thing?"

You shake your head, gently. "The broken horn
Leader was a big liar who ate way more than was good for her. Aaaand... I was commissioned
by Leaderhorn."

As Trash looks at you from below, you can tell she's at least slightly bewildered. "You actually
fucking /read/ people, then".

You nod at her. "I just figured that out when I came here, I though I just got to know well both
the broken horn Leader and Ado. But, turns out," you space out for a bit, "that I'm extremely
good at this."

"So it's not just a Fake thing." Vaal blinks quizzically.

"Nope. It's a Roomba thing, haha!" You blurt out.

"Well, it's a very very good thing then!" Vaal squeezes Trash just a tiny bit more. Her smile
is almost creepy. "You could make really outrageous bets with the interviews, take them
to the very limit, see how they crack..." she giggles. "I don't think anyone of them is going
to stand a chance at this!"

"I stood a chance, thank you very much." Trash deadpans almost bitterly. "Sometimes you just
don't get the right tools, so you gotta make do. Meaning, if our fucks try to cheat their way in
poker, it's actually a valuable thing." Her eyes pass from you, to Vaal, to you, and to Vaal

You pause, all of a sudden, and "hmm..." They both look at you. "Though...," you make a point
by pausing, just long enough to let the templar know you are putting some weight in this, "I
/do/ expect you to pay up your date with Vaal." You wink. "Consider it paying back for all your
I'll gotten gains from playing poker against her."

Trash pouts."It's actually the other fucking wa-"

"Done!" Two slender hands wrap the templar's mouth from behind, as Vaal talks.

"FFFFFFFFFFF-" it's all that manages to come across Vaal hands.

You take your last steps towards the light, and now you find yourself in a wide terrace
surrounded from all sides by a wide wire fence. On a whim, you look up and gasp. The
massive ceiling of the second garden is, at most, just ten meters above from where you
are. Still looking up, you hear Trash and Vaal walking by your sides.

"We aren't going to actually fight." Vaal's voice draws your eyes from the ceiling, towards the
long hair, sly looking blonde. "Trash here doesn't have her armor, so It wouldn't be fair at
all." She glances at the other blonde, who's just... there. "So, we are just going to give you
a glimpse of things to come." The Manager clears her throat. "Let's start with defensive
methods, for example."

In a flash, she slides a small device from her sleeve to one of her hands, still looking at you.
Raising her hand, she presents you a small black stick on it. Her thumb is over a red button
at the top of the small stick, you notice a black wire spawning from the bottom of it that goes
into her sleeve.

"This is a TEMPO device." Vaal says,spinning the device within her fingers. "It's the most
common defensive method. Trash, kick me."

The brutal roundhouse kick was over before you even noticed it started. You blink. Vaal now
stands behind Trash.

"Kick me again."

You engage your optics and study the frames intently. Trash starts a kick, Vaal stays in
place. Then as the kick draws near, Vaal presses the small button and, suddenly, she's
somewhere else.

"And that's how it works!" Vaal beams at you, grinning. "Imagine there's an invisible bubble
around me. If I press this red button just as Trash's kick goes inside it, I'm instantly
teleported to where I'm pointing! Now-"

Two small, metallic balls spawn around her, and start orbiting her frame. You "hmm!".

"Those are AD's right?" you ask.

"A kind among plenty of many. These are called "Parry modules". You'll see why. Trash, kick

This time the blonde stays in place as the kick comes. It's the kick that stops on its own. You
lean a bit from the side, and notice that the small black ball got between the kick and Vaal.
Then Trash kicks and kicks over and over again, even punches, but every time she tries
there's a small ball just right in the way between her and Vaal.

"Take notes, sweety." Even if she's looking at Trash, you know she's looking at you. "This is
the most common defensive method a Manager uses. I'm moving these small spheres though
an artificial orbit around me that spawns from my EKE field. Well, just come closer!"

You do, almost shyly. You are suddenly lifted into the air, and now it's you that actually orbits

"You better hope Fakes can't get dizzy," the templar says.
You are now again standing at a fair distance from them.

"Trash," Vaal asks, melodically, "punch me in the face, sweety."

The templar /smashes/ her first against her girlfriend's cheek... yet, she seems completely
unphased. You lean a bit towards them, actually inclining your body forward.

"This is an EKE field," Vaal says, glancing at you. "I can tell you can't see it. There are
specific optics for that." Trash punches again, yet it's as if the force of her fist vanished. on
the hit. "EKE fields are highly sensitive to temperature, and the only way to wipe one out
is to get such a high degree in one of its spots that it can't hold itself together. Think of what
happens to a balloon after you get a spike far too near. Stop punching me in the face." Trash
stops. "We can manipulate that temperature to some degree, however, and what I do is freeze
the place that Trash hits right before she does. EKEs are used everywhere!" she makes a
rainbow with her hands over her head. "They have complex qualities I'm sure you will grow to
learn, and you can only use TEMPO inside an EKE field. The further the EKE is from you, the
higher is the delay until you move from one place to the other." She smiles playfully. "It's
very technical, you'll see.

You hear a loud clank and look down at the small metallic ball, a bit different than the rest,
that just fell from Vaal. It's suddenly moving upwards, as if on its own.

"This defensive method is unique to me." Vaal says, and you can feel the pride. And now it's
her that's flying all around the ball instead. "AO dodging. Trash?"

Vaal flies from under Trash's kick almost a tenth of a second before this one connects, and
it happens again, and again, and again, her body twisting quickly and freely, almost as if
swimming at great speeds. Vaal stops, and the next of Trash's kicks is then met with some
invisible resistance.

"And this is another common Manager defensive method, AO repel. I'm simply
reversing the antigravity field, and it's pushing Trash's leg back."

"Give me back my goddamned leg, please."

"No, it's mine. All mine." Vaal fakes a pout. "And finally," Trash is slightly pushed
backwards, "there's this one. The usual. Trash?"

The templar hesitates... then kicks, Vaal ducks under her leg, and the whole templar is then
twisted in a sudden judo move. It ends up with Vaal over Trash, both looking straight at you.

"Anyone who wants to hit me has got to go through all of that." Vaal declares. "So when I
say it's perfectly safe, I mean it. Your usual AD user uses no more than three defensive
methods. I use seven."

"We did six." Trash adds.

Vaal kisses her on the forehead. "We aren't doing the last one, sweety, is killing before you

"Ah, alrighty then." Trash adds, pensively.

"Roomba, you've been so quiet!" Vaal asks, cheerfully. "If there's something you want to
know, speak now or forever be silent!" she giggles

How badly does a Trash want her former Templar-plat... I mean standart trash-quality armour back?

Vaal could use the money to get a Hybrid we can use for the fleet. Of course, she is the only one allowed to fly it, it was HER blackmail payment after all. Well, and Trash I suppose.
Then we can go diving for stuff and things.

Want to ask these additionaly to SERIOUS questions?
Nod, taking everything in. "All that is great if you have good reflexes and know an attack is coming, but what about things that are to fast too react to, like lasers or guns? All that should be plenty to test hand to hand combat skills though! I wonder how White Walker's powers interact with EKE fields too... I've got a lot to learn it seems. "

Also fucks only get credit for cheating on the poker game if they don't get caught, a good cheater is a resource, a bad cheater is a liability.
These too why not.

Ask Trash why she ditched her armor too. Is it going to cause trouble if she uses it in public? If Vaal wants to buy something to help us out then she's welcome to, but I don't want to ask that from her unless it's absolutely nessicary.

Also, do we have an idea of what the cost will be to keep Bravado on life support/jumper cables? And how much his full medical/mechanics bill will be?
>if they don't get caught

May want to modify that by what it took to catch them. If all of our processing power was required to notice, then that's worth half marks.
Trash didn't get properly caught until we got an (un)lucky hand, so she's our benchmark. If you're at least as good as Trash you deserve some credit
I've seen it for a while and it seems interesting. Anyone have where I should start and maybe a spoiler-free description of the series?
We always get the new ones to read Test Quest.


It's short, and a good intro to the series. Moreover, this quest is based on this


which is extremely lovely, and this


Just skip the last few pages of HDL if you want to give it a read. =w= Those aren't lovely.

As for the short description, I think my readers would do it better than I could. You came at a
bad time, to, we are just one post away from a hiatus.
Isn't the Broken Horn leader dead? And in deaded than dead o resurrection posible dead?
Yes. Now we follow the adventures of Roomba who cannot kill herself, might be a tyke bomb waiting for the right conditions while we just wait the world to end because this setting is so fucked up it makes Evangelion and Berserk look good.
Couldn't you have linked this several threads before so it was Roomba who died instead of the Broken Horn Leader?

I believe Steve was aware of all this at the time. Do you think it would have changed anything?

I hope you are at least enjoying the ride. D:

I might pull out that final megapost soon! It's been so busy around here lately...!
I mean a hiatus would be a fine time to get caught up I imagine
Go ahead. =w=

I'll try to pop in here often to answer questions in the meantime.
You nod, suddenly aware of the four shadows spawning from all of you at almost even
angles. "All that is great if you have good reflexes and know an attack is coming, but
what abut things that are too fast to react to," you make a pistol with your fingers, "like lasers
or guns?"

"Guns are used to heat by force, when it comes to EKE fields." Vaal makes a pistol of her own,
and points at Trash. Then shoots; "pew!". "Most AD users have heaters and refrigerators
connected to their anima suits. As long as the heat doesn't get too high, bullets will be
useless." She raises both hands meekly, looking at you firmly as she grins. "There are,
of course, plenty of factors to take into account. As for pulsar shooters..." Walking a bit up to
you, Vaal takes out her TEMPO device. "You can set this to automatic. The bubble will react
right as something goes in."

Trash raises a hand. Like in school. "That shi-"

"-If you leave it in automatic," Vaal interrupts, "it will react to anything that comes through with
enough force. And three TEMPO jumps are usually more than enough to leave you dry.
Was that it?" She turns to Trash, who nods.

You find yourself nodding as well, hmming meekly under your breath. "All that should be
plenty to test hand to hand cobat skills though! I wonder how White Walker's powers interact
with EKE field too..." You pause, as you scratch your blonde head between the horns. "...I've
got a lot to learn it seems."

"As long as you can run the goddamned thing you can leave the rest to the Fucks." Trash
deadpans. "To my premium quality, Trash-approved, carefully grown, hand-picked Fucks.
Like Vaal here," the older one puffs her cheeks, and you copy, "who soon won't let me take a
crap in peace thanks to Leateli."

"Sweetheart," The older blonde states joyfully, gently caressing her girlfriend's cheek, then
pinching it gently. "go fuck yourself."

You can't help but giggle at least a bit. "I was wondering," you start, "why did you ditch your
armor?" You turn to Trash, as Vaal's hand slowly falls from her cheek. "Would it cause
trouble if she uses it in public?"

"Nah." Trash shrugs. "It wouldn't. Nowadays, nobody gives a fuck if you are a templar unless
you ran across the streets screaming 'FUCK YEAH ALGIS!'" Both you and Vaal cover your
ears. Trash pauses. "Eh, how where those..."

"Nazis." Vaal nods.

Trash nods to herself. "Those. Nah, it's something else. See, that armor isn't exactly
mine, and it's some pretty powerful shit indeed." She pauses, as if looking for the
words. "Anima armor. It's like one the Judges use."

"Judges, hmm." You get a balled up fist under your lips. "I've heard the term, but all I know is
that Ado seems to dislike them."

The templar rises an eyebrow, highly. "Was your head balls deep inside a toilet all thi-"

"Judges are like the "Leaders" of the big ships." Vaal's voice drowns Trash, who stops talking
as the other blonde simply glances at her. "That's the idea, at least." She winks at Trash.

Who frowns. "It's all a fucking fachade, of course. Take the Hero of Time for example;
they are all grabbed by their tiny soft balls by the big, sharp hand of politi- let's just say they
are steel-clad puppets with heavy armors, the motherfuckers, and leave it at that."

"Oh, I see then." You don't. Your fist goes down, and then it goes up again under your
chin. "Do we have an idea of what the cost will be to keep Bravado on life support, or jumper
cables, or whatever it needs?"

Trash rises a finger. "Not exactly cheap, yet not that expensive either. I did my research.
Patching up is doable, fixing the damn thing would cost us almost as much as the Friend."
She points her finger at you. "And that coming from Mi Abass, given that somehow she gets
the time to do it in between this shitstorm."

"How much for patching it up, then?" You ask, tilting your head.

"Told ya, doable." Trash shrugs. "It's almost it's whole salary. Sansui said he'd be up to it,
provided I'm there to assist him wearing bunny ears. I'm sure he knows I'll beat the shit out of
him afterwards and he, well, they don't care."
*Nod* "At least he isn't demanding you wear a leotard and fishnets to go along with the bunny ears, but as long as we can keep him from getting any worse we can work on getting him feeling better bit by bit... maybe? Getting to meet Mi Abass would be a bonus to getting Bravado back to 100%, assuming she has time of course... and assuming he makes the team.

Speaking of potential, you seem to have a bit of a past with Atma given she has a nickname from you. What should I expect in her practical exams? "Skullfucker" just seems like the kind of name that comes with impressive abilities, though it really seems out of character for her given how sweet she seems... hmmm."
Good to know that cost isn't a barrier on Bravado. We should try to find out more about how he does what he does and any implications about how he does it.

I had not read Test Quest at the time. I wasn't willing to risk Leateli discovering the switch and blowing up the Greathorn in revenge. I hoped I could come up with something as the encounter went on.

You nod, and turn towards the Second's Garden, letting your sight wander amidst the
small towers. It's so quiet up here; the sounds and music from below feel like a gentle lullaby.
There is no wind, of course, since the wind currents from outside tend to be far from gentle.

"At least," you say, "he isn't demanding you wear a leotard and fishnets to go along with the
bunny ears."

"That's because Fakes aren't cheap." It's Trash's voice behind you. You hear both
footsteps drawing near.

"As long as we can keep him from getting any worst we can work on getting him feeling better
bit by bit... maybe?" You "hmm". How do nitroliches even work? "Getting to meet Mi
Abass would be a bonus to getting Bravado back at 100%, assuming she has the time of

"And assuming we somehow get that kind of coin, it'll be a miracle." Now the voice comes
from your right. You glance from side to side, to Trash and Vaal.

"And assuming he makes the team." You finish. You can't help but notice the city feels... sterile,
somehow. Even through its lights and fancy little decorations, like pictures of small animals
in big size that might not even exist anymore. "Speaking of potential," you break the comfy
silence, "you seem to have a bit of a past with Atma given she has a nickname from you." You
turn your horns and glasses to the right, finding a peaceful templar hiding both hands in her
pockets. "What should I expect in her practical exams? "Skullfucker" just seems like the kind
of name that comes with impressive abilities, though it really seems out of character for her
given how sweet she seems... hmmm."

"It won't seem like that soon." You notice she's holding a small toothpick with her teeth, making
the heretic talk weird. "Skullfucker's an LF, mechanic, pilot, and "fuck Algis" incarnate."

"'LF' stands for "Limit Fighter'." Vaal hurries to say. "Basically, they use weapons with their
own dEKE field and add AD's to them just like we do to our anima suits. As I guess you could guess, sustaining two dEKEs at once is a
hassle. They have to constantly switch the anima flow between them."

"'Suicidal motherfuckers' would be the correct term, according to my dictionary. And yet, they
hit like a truck on crack." Trash spits the toothpick. "Sometimes, the true risk is being too defensive."

"This is so peaceful!" You find yourself dragged to your left by hand, and suddenly you feel a
chin over your head and arms flowing down through your shoulders. Vaal just takes a calm,
long breath, as if time stopped just for that. "Um, dear?" You glance upward, towards her
arm stretching towards the city. It ends in a pointing finger. "Is that..."

"What-the-fuck?" Trash's paused sentence lingers in the air like a cloud.

You follow the finger.

Your eyes lit and widen.

It's White. Not once, but at least five or six times, all over the big screens of the small and smaller towers, illuminating the streets of the Second Garden with her scornful glare. She looks... different than you remember.

You look up and meet Vaal's eyes who was just looking down at you, then you both look back at the suddenly white city.

And a mocking voice echoes everywhere:

"Greetings to all of you! I come today with a message..."

You grab the railing as you get just a bit closer to it. And you remember.

"What happens when you run of out leads?" you mutter under your breath, thinking back on that poker game.

It's the broken horn Leader that answers: "You try something else."

End of season one!
YAAAAAYYY!!!! Applause!

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