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/qst/ - Quests


Your name is Shu, and as the smell of a fresh breakfast wafts by you while the Fleshscape’s ever-present dawn shines outside the bay windows of the Dragon’s Roost, you’re sure of one thing;

It’s going to be a good day.

Everyone except Rath and November are gathered at the bar or the dining table, a freshly-carved Amalgam whittled down to the bones by Dorian’s crystalline scythes and now spread among several plates that rest before The Barbers and Francine, seated at the table. Sia and the good doctor are engaged in what appears to be a civil (if heated) discussion, while Rosa and Sugar are eagerly awaiting the plates served up by your artists and Betty behind the bar. Amara’s the first of your family to run up to you since emerging from your room, the past several hours spent engaging in some much-overdue quality time with Gina.

“Hey, what’d I miss?” You ask with a smile as the little girl throws her arms around your waist, nearly bowling you over before staring up at you with her big two-tone eyes and an enthusiastic grin.

“I was training super hard all night, just like you!”

“That’ grea…"

You freeze, a hard lump forming in your throat as the girl’s car-ears twitch.

"...What?"

“You and Gina trained for a long time! You were really lou-!” She begins, just before you feel a burst of panic explode from across the room.

“AMARA! C-COME HELP ME WITH BREAKFAST!” Julia cries out, voice nearly cracking in her haste to interrupt your young ward. Amara just shrugs, dashing off to Julia’s side as the blonde artist sports a thoroughly stricken expression. A flush of embarrassment floods your cheeks as Dorian gives you a curt nod from the bar...and if it weren’t for the swirl of color about his hand, you’d have missed the discreet thumbs up and subtle smirk he gives you before returning to his tasks.

Overloading a plate with the thinly-sliced biomass as you blush furiously, you take a seat near the Barbers only to find yourself immediately engaged in conversation by a very businesslike Sia.

“Fran and I have been talking, and I’ve got bad news and good news in that order." Sia begins, voice terse as she starts her report the moment you sit down.

“I'm not going to sugar-coat it." She sighs, prompting a smirk from the slim, taffy-colored girl to her right. "Bad news is that I’d bet money that West Prime knows about Fran tagging along with you thanks to the Skinternet."

~~~

Previous Vein: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/3894141/

Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Body%20Horror%20Quest

Character Abilities: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/15ctgm_liaNO0e0B6zAcIUrmfDN0tWiXds3L4FvogI2M/edit#gid=0

Trypophilic Hive, Ver. 3: https://pastebin.com/bUWG6TNF

Relics, Ver. 4: https://pastebin.com/c4J9mpPK

Dual Techs: https://pastebin.com/2jZ5Zhyx

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bodyhorrorquest?lang=en
>>
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"I'm afraid there's no way she's not monitoring it." Francine adds, her brow furrowed in frustration. "I...the Skintalker network has advanced rapidly, and I didn't realize just how wide a surveillance net had been cast until I spoke with Sia and Sugar, here. I'm sorry."

“That leads us to the good news, as it were.” Sia continues, leaning over the table on her narrow elbows as her face undulates with unfathomable static. You watch as the black-and-white haze begins to trickle down, creeping along the slender girl’s neck and rapidly engulfing her entire body. She flickers, shifts, then...a mirror of the good doctor now sits beside the genuine article.

“I think we can trick her.” Sia says with through Francine's lips, and you have to admit how strange it is to be able to look the girl in the face, even if it's not one that belongs to her.

“I'm against it.” Francine sighs, leaning back in her chair, arms folded as Sia resumes her normal and incomprehensible form. “We’re putting enough people in danger as-is. If Prime decides to take direct action against me then I have no intention of someone else having a target on their back.”

“Your plan’s just as dangerous, though." Sia counters, mirroring Fran's arm-fold. "I know Neuromancy, and she’ll see right through you.”

“Plan?” You ask, and Francine sits a little straighter as she elaborates.

“Prime knows I’m traveling with you, but I think we can turn that to our advantage." Your doctor explains, ignoring Sia's obvious disapproval. "I believe that I can modify my jamming Relic to allow me to reach out to Prime while remaining untethered from her network, so I’ll tell her I’ve infiltrated your group to keep an eye on you until the DO's launch. Every Proxy is afforded leeway in their mission, so my spying on you is not out of the question. I'll speak directly with the collective and keep their suspicions off us until the time is right.”

“And what I’m saying is that opening yourself back up to the network could make you backslide.” Sia interjects, her scowl practically audible in her tone. “The collective is a powerful thing, and you need to respect the progress you’ve made in stepping back from them.”

Fran turns to you, and from Sia's posture you can tell that she's doing the same, both women awaiting your input as you pause with a mouthful of Amalgam. Swallowing with some effort, you glance between the expectant Daughters as you weigh their ideas, formulating a reply before you voice it aloud.

>>Go with Sia’s plan, under the condition that if any Proxies come after them, then they abandon the ruse immediately and flee.

>>Assent to Francine’s idea. It’s risky, but it may allow you to stay under Prime's radar until the time is right.

>>You’re not a fan of either. One puts the Barbers in danger, the other puts Francine at risk…neither of which you’re willing to chance. Offer a counter-plan (Write-In).

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, I do hope your day is off to a good start. Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume thereafter. I figure that since Mondays seem to be rather work-intensive, today's voting schedule will be adjusted accordingly. I hope you had a good weekend, one and all.)

(As for the system changes that were discussed last Vein; I'm running an adjusted resistance system through some iterations, and I believe I've settled on resistance and immunity being wholly separate. I'll have a full update by this Wednesday, but so far I'm pleased with how it's working out. Thank you all for your input, and I do hope you enjoy this Vein, as there's a lot of ground to cover.)
>>
>>3917567
'Sup BHOP, hope you're having a fantastic day!
>>
>>3917562
>“You and Gina trained for a long time! You were really lou-!” She begins, just before you feel a burst of panic explode from across the room.
Yes. We were training our hand to hand combat skills. Gina has a lot of catching up to do, now that she has a Calcite ability. You are a wise child, Amara, to figure that out just from the sounds we were making. Don't mention it to Gina, though, she's embarrassed of how far behind she is and it would just be awkward.

>“I'm not going to sugar-coat it." She sighs, prompting a smirk from the slim, taffy-colored girl to her right. "Bad news is that I’d bet money that West Prime knows about Fran tagging along with you thanks to the Skinternet."
Yeah, I figured. Cassandra was probably screening for Francine when she was with the DOs, but there's no one running interference for her here.

>>3917563
Yeah, I'm not liking either of these plans. But let's get some elaboration, maybe there will be something workable we can patch together.

>>Write-In
>"I'm going to need more information, ladies. Sia, I'm assuming that your decoy plan doesn't just involve disguising yourself? West Prime would see through it pretty quick if there were two Francines but one of them was still hanging out with us. Can you disguise Francine? Can you hide the rest of your party so that your associating with them doesn't seem suspicious? How would this plan explain the time Francine has already spent with our party?"
>"Francine, what's the experience of being connected to the collective actually like? It's been a bit vague to me how much information is actually shared. What's conveyed across the channel, just communications or memory updates as well? Prime spoke to Isabel through Gamma when they fought, so does she have greater bandwidth on the connection than the Proxies do? And is there anything we can do to help you, minimize the risks you'd take?"
>>
>>3917563
>"I can't assent to a plan that tells me the bare basics. The devil's in the details and sussing it out makes a huge difference."
>"Francine, what's the experience of being connected to a hive mind collective? It's been so vague so far on the details like the information shared."
>"Do you know the numbers and assignments of all other proxies in the collective?"
>>
>>3917562
>

“Hey, what’d I miss?” You ask with a smile as the little girl throws her arms around your waist, nearly bowling you over before staring up at you with her big two-tone eyes and an enthusiastic grin.

“I was training super hard all night, just like you!”

“That’ grea…"

You freeze, a hard lump forming in your throat as the girl’s car-ears twitch.

"...What?"

“You and Gina trained for a long time! You were really lou-!” She begins, just before you feel a burst of panic explode from across the room.

“AMARA! C-COME HELP ME WITH BREAKFAST!” Julia cries out, voice nearly cracking in her haste to interrupt your young ward. Amara just shrugs, dashing off to Julia’s side as the blonde artist sports a thoroughly stricken expression.

BHOP. I THOUGHT WE HAD THAT ROOM SOUNDPROOFED
>>
>>3917604
She's a Skintalker, nothing made of biomass is soundproofed to her. The walls literally have ears.
>>
>>3917604
(You did indeed, though >>3917606 is quite right. Her senses are not so easily dissuaded as everyone elses', I'm afraid.)
>>
>>3917562
One Big question. What would it cost to get enough materials to Skintalkerproof that room?

>>3917563
>"I can't assent to a plan that tells me the bare basics. The devil's in the details and sussing it out makes a huge difference."
>"Francine, what's the experience of being connected to a hive mind collective? It's been so vague so far on the details like the information shared."
>"Do you know the numbers and assignments of all other proxies in the collective?"

>>3917567
It was a good day then i met that one coworker..... and he was extra cancerous today so my day went from the nice afterglow of a great weekend to "Let the Galaxy burn". It got better again after he left around lunch time so i didnt have to see him for the rest of the day....
TL:DR all in all an alright day
>>
>>3917567
>I hope you had a good weekend
I'm sorry but this week's work schedule is working me down to the bone like a dog. on top of that. It's snowing, and I have to shovel my way out to get to work instead of having a nice morning.
>>
>>3917562
I'm new to this board. How does it work? I mean, if it's author-driven, then what's the point of posting here and having routes like some VN?
>>
>>3917642
lurk more pls. it's the point. The Author writes out scenes like a VN and we vote on the choices when the author prompts us to vote. We either write in self-written dialogue, stick to a provided dialogue that the author provides, and discuss amongst ourselves on what's best for the MC, as well as battle plans during combat.
>>
>>3917642
(It's sort of a co-operative effort, driven by both author and audience, ideally. There are many different types of quests, such as skirmish type games where everyone controls their own pieces on a game board, or ones where the players control a single character, like this one.)

>>3917628
(Not too much, and if you wish to do so then I can make it happen.)

>>3917634
(I'm sorry to hear work is rough. I do hope it improves for you, and that you don't have to interact with that particular coworker.)
>>
>>3917651
not that particular anon due to the color id tag being so similar. The anon you're referring to is Jqoyz01y (the one that had a toxic co-worker) while I'm Vmh3bzBU (dreadful work week and getting snowed in)
>>
>>3917563
Supporting>>3917583

Though as things currently stand, I'd probably be against having Francine reconnect. Not just because of whether the collective could notice active non-feral dream daughters and what they'd think of it, but it's for preserving Francine's soul and keep her on the path to wanting to live for herself and with loved ones.

For Sia's plan, I guess it comes down to having a way or plan to avoid the West Alpha Terminator.
>>
>>3917654
(Ah, my color blindness strikes again. My apologies, and I do hope that work goes better for you than you expect.)
>>
>>3917651
(Not too much, and if you wish to do so then I can make it happen.)

Maybe but i would like to get other peoples opinions on that as well

>>3917651
Not much i can do he has the desk right next to me so trying to ignore him is the best i can do right now......
I dont wish him ill just that he learns some gods damned common sense before someone smacks him one day
>>
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>>3917563

"I'm going to need more information than that, ladies.” You sigh, first turning to the face made of haze and soft static. “Sia, I'm assuming that your decoy plan doesn't just involve disguising yourself? West Prime would see through it pretty quick if there were two Francines.”

“Simple solution is to keep Francine here for the time being until you’re ready to pull the trigger on her plan.” Sia explains. “Also, my Neuromancy isn’t just visual. It’s gotten to the point where it futzes with all the senses, so I’ve got enough info on the doc here to make a convincing overlay, even to a Skintalker.”

“Can confirm.” Sugar mumbles, and when you turn to her you shudder, watching her use Rosa’s scalpel to slit open her wrist and drizzle a caramel-colored syrup from the wound over her plate of stacked meats.

“Can you disguise Francine, and can you hide the rest of your party so that your associating with them doesn't seem suspicious?” You press, doing your best to ignore Sugar’s gruesome condiment. “How would this plan explain the time Francine has already spent with our party?"

“Won’t seem suspicious if only part of my group heads out.” Sia replies, pointedly ignoring her companion as she practically inhales a slice of syrup-drowned flesh. “Part of your group stays behind with part of mine, and we act like we’re off doing your people a favor. Also, if you’re worried about Prime figuring out that Francine is here instead of out in the field, don’t be.”

Sia throws her arms wide, tilting her head to the ceiling.

“Sugar and I took a little time while you all were asleep to test your home’s defenses, and I’m happy to report that it’s a doozy.” She continues, clearly impressed. “No idea what Mara did to this place, but it’s a freaking fortress. Neuromancy and Skintalker abilities can work inside, and receiving transmissions is no problem, but if you’re trying to peek inside or send something in then you’re out of luck. Place is kinda like a Faraday Cage, actually.”

“Good to know…the soundproofing could use some work, though.” You grumble, turning to Francine. “Alright, so…what's the experience of being connected to the collective actually like? It's been a bit vague to me how much information is actually shared. What's conveyed across the channel, just communications or memory updates as well?”

“Prime is in control of what information is transmitted, but it typically takes the form of a cloud update on a need-to-know basis. Experiment status updates, important topics, occasionally a flash of the other Proxies’ locations, though the latter is rare.” Francine elaborates, hands folded on the table. “There’s a wide-scale transmission akin to a conference call that addresses all Proxies in the collective, and then Prime quickly runs through any personalized instructions one-on-one. Similar to a debriefing, in that respect.”

(Continued)
>>
>>3917692

It’s at this last part that you notice Sia shake her head, obviously displeased. If the good doctor notices the gesture then she chooses to ignore it, learning forward attentively as you pose your next set of questions.

“Prime spoke to Isabelle through Gamma when they fought, so does she have greater bandwidth on the connection? Also, do you know the numbers and assignments of the others?"

“Prime can, at any time, assume direct control of any of her Proxies. It’s not something she does often, by any means, but…it’s possible.” Francine explains, and as she speaks you can’t help but notice a tinge of worry filter across the empathic channel, like a drop of blood in a pool of placid water. “As far as Assignments and numbers, Prime keeps us in the dark, I’m afraid. My best guess would be that there are two dozen Proxies currently active across the country, though given my disconnection from the collective and my time with the Disassociated, my info may be outdated.”

“Actually, that was something that was bugging me.” Sia interjects, rounding on Francine. “The Skinternet isn’t exactly ‘new’, and you cutting the cord to the collective only happened recently…why are you so out of the loop? No offense, but still.”

“None taken. I…I got the feeling that I wasn’t communicated with nearly as much as the others, or as personably.” Francine answers, eyes glancing down at her hands as they very slightly tighten around each other. “I spent quite some time with the Disassociated and updates from Prime were few and far between, as I indicated to Shu. I…well, I suppose I should count myself lucky in being left out of all that, hm?”

“…Is there anything we can do to help you, maybe minimize the risks you'd take if we decide to go through with your plan?" You offer, and Francine just shakes her head.

“I’m afraid that tethering other minds to mine during the process might show our hand too early. I appreciate the offer, but I must decline.” She replies coolly, and as you finish your plate you take a moment to chew over your options as it were. You’re still not one-hundred percent behind either plan in full, but you’d be lying if you said they didn’t have their merits.

You’re brought out of your considerations when your hive vibrates insistently, a diminutive commling crawling out of your back, unbidden. Its soft, downy fur vibrates clean of the mucus that would normally coat a shell of chitin, and as it continues to hum in your hands a smile works its way across your face.

The Pyreant Leader is ready to meet, face to face.

Queen to Queen.

>>Give Sia and Francine your answer before setting off with a group of your choice (Write-In for both).

>>You’d prefer to consider a third option, an intermingling of plans. Ask Francine and Sia to stay here for a time while you go attend to the Queen, and you’ll have an answer for them upon your return.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, Gentlemen.)

>>3917573

(I appreciate that, Anon. It is going well, and I hope yours does, also.)
>>
>>3917693
>>You’d prefer to consider a third option, an intermingling of plans. Ask Francine and Sia to stay here for a time while you go attend to the Queen, and you’ll have an answer for them upon your return.

>"Sadly i dont have time to think about this right now but i am sure you ladies can think of something to make your plan work"
>Look at fran and Sia
>"I trust you girls to keep out of trouble while i attend the meetign i have just been called to. I will review your plan once i am back okay?"
>Call out to Amara
>"Come here my hard working Darling its time you earn your reward for being a good patient girl and meet the Queen of the Pyre Ants"

>Leave for the Pyre ants with the following party: Shu, Amara, Gina and Rath
>>
>>3917693
>2 dozen proxies
that's almost a single proxy for each letter of the greek alphabet.
>>
>>3917706
>"Come here my hard working Darling its time you earn your reward for being a good patient girl and meet the Queen of the Pyre Ants"
umm...change it up, it feels too smothering.

>>3917693
>You’d prefer to consider a third option, an intermingling of plans. Ask Francine and Sia to stay here for a time while you go attend to the Queen, and you’ll have an answer for them upon your return.

>"Amara! The Ant Queen is ready for the royal visit! Are you ready?"
>Fuss over Amara and straighten out her clothes as well as your own. She's excited, but a good reminder to mind her manners would make good first impressions.
>>
>>3917693
>>You’d prefer to consider a third option, an intermingling of plans. Ask Francine and Sia to stay here for a time while you go attend to the Queen, and you’ll have an answer for them upon your return.
>>Write-In
>"Are you both okay with waiting on this a bit longer? I just got a call from a giant superintelligent ant, and I don't think Amara would ever forgive me if I delayed meeting with her a moment longer than necessary. I'll think about the situation while I'm out and we'll come to a decision when I return, if that's alright with you."
>>
>>3917693
Ammendign my vote slightly from >>3917706
to
>>You’d prefer to consider a third option, an intermingling of plans. Ask Francine and Sia to stay here for a time while you go attend to the Queen, and you’ll have an answer for them upon your return.

>"Sadly i dont have time to think about this right now but i am sure you ladies can think of something to make your plan work"
>Look at fran and Sia
>"I trust you girls to keep out of trouble while i attend the meetign i have just been called to. I will review your plan once i am back okay?"
>Call out to Amara
>"Come here my hard working Darling. Get your best dress. we are meeting the Queen."
>Fuss over Amara and straighten out her clothes as well as your own. She's excited, but a good reminder to mind her manners would make good first impressions.

>Leave for the Pyre ants with the following party: Shu, Amara, Gina and Rath
>>
>>3917693
Amending my vote:

>Party for the Ant Queen Visit: Shu, Gina, Amara, Dorian

>>3917736
Why Rath? I get Gina, but Rath and November are currently doing forgework.
>>
>>3917693
>Give Sia and Francine your answer before setting off with a group of your choice (Write-In for both).
>Go with Sia's plan. The risks of West Prime figuring our plan out when she debriefs Francine or, worse, takes her over as soon as she reconnects is unacceptable. Plus, with the information that West hides from her proxies, there's a good chance that there's something else, some other method of spying on or controlling the collective, that she never let anyone know.
>>
>>3917742
I'd prefer Julia to come with, if we're going to split Julia and Dorian up for the moment. It's been a while since we've spent any significant time with her, I'd like to check in on her.
>>
>>3917698
I'm heading off for work. I'll let you know if I survive they day...or the snow...
>>
>>3917767
(Best of luck, Anon!)
>>
>>3917742
She was the only one i could think off that would be useful in such tight quarters. Call me paranoid but i dont completely trust the ant queen.

And Julia and Dorian would just be distracted fussing over if the guests were comfortable or anythign alright. From a mechanical standpoint sure Julia would be better

>>3917767
Best off luck
>>
>>3917693
Adding to >>3917726
>Bring Gina, Julia and of course Amara.
>>
>>3917778
well, when you think about it, the ant queen had just gained self-consciousness and self-awareness. and despite the newfound humanity, she’s still an ant working off of ant logic, so what we try to convey might not translate perfectly to the other party and the fact that the queen has her own definition of the relationship between her and us.

so please when we talk to the queen, please consider your words carefully and think about how the ant queen would interpret our words with her own brand of logic.
>>
>>3917803am >>3917767
>>
>>3917803
oh i know. I can be very diplomatic i jsut want to make sure we have a plan b if things go south which i will do my best to avoid to do
>>
>>3917698
I'm concerned Francine is just gonna go ahead with her plan if we leave her here with no decision. Neither plan seems all that great honestly, but Francine's plan poses significant danger to her and our family if she gets taken over. Right now, West is leaving us alone, if we start poking her and planning she is gonna know something is up and we need to have the ability to follow through and totally annihilate her. Even in the best case where Prime believes Francine, she is going to start plotting to take us down using Francine. A tangential worry here is that West has some sort of deep programming in her clones that make them desire the network even if they don't realize it.

Sia's plan seems like a good step 0 to a plan, but there's also no follow-through there. Why trick Prime into believing that Francine is acting normally when she could just be acting normally? Does Francine need to stay hidden at home for a significant time to finish some weapon?

Prime clearly has a lot of plates to balance and we have been low priority so far. Until we do something drastic towards her, I wouldn't expect that to change in a way we couldn't deal with. Francine needs to explain the details of how she's planning to kill the whole West network and then that can become the end goal, but without that we are just trying to trick Prime for no reason (and with low odds of success on top of that).
>>
>>3917838
There’s the manchurian agent factor to consider
>>
>>3917838
Yeah, I'm not really sure what Sia's plan would accomplish. She didn't actually give us an explanation for how to account for West Prime already seeing Francine in our presence, so I'm hesitant to use her ideas. Maybe as part of a distraction when we ambush Sigma, but on its own? Can't see it working. On the other hand, Francine's plan is super bad, too. We're not letting you jack back into the collective, Francine, that has too much risk. And just the fact that you're bothering to explain yourself may be seen as suspicious, if you don't normally communicate much with the rest of the Wests. Act like nothing is weird, that's the best way to avoid being noticed. Honestly, even with the greater detail both of these plans sound bad, but I'm not sure what we should do other than Zerg rush Sigma immediately so that it doesn't matter if Prime gets wind of what we're doing. Which might not be the worst plan.

>>3917850
Gina scanned Francine, we're reasonably certain that she doesn't have any Trojans.
>>
>>3917693
VOTE:
>>You’d prefer to consider a third option, an intermingling of plans:
MY PLAN: Screw risking Francine: use a version of Sia disguise plan, then gather a Kill-team with Francine on it, and use her superior knowledge of the West Network to bag & hack another West proxy. Hack it as a manchurian, reprogram it, sedate it and use it as a sonar probe of the network topology, whatever. Even the Francine Manchurian candidate plan would not work when Francine´s cover is so thoroughly burned up.


ALSO, I would like to point at some concerning tells, and my interpretation of them:
> "And then Prime quickly runs through any personalized instructions one-on-one. Similar to a debriefing, in that respect.” - " It’s at this last part that you notice Sia shake her head, obviously displeased. "

> "Prime can, at any time, assume direct control of any of her Proxies."

> "Why are you so out of the loop? No offense, but still.”

> ". I…I got the feeling that I wasn’t communicated with nearly as much as the others, or as personably.” rancine answers, eyes glancing down at her hands as they very slightly TIGHTEN around each other.

SOMETHING is off. I think that Francine is trying to withdraw some information and trying to minimize the risks to herself involved in the proccess. Probably because she doesn´t want us to balk at unaceptable risks to her well-being during the proccess. Also, probably because the informattion transfer used is full memory-syncing, and the contents of whatever experiments the West Network is performing are...VERY disturbing, to say the least, and she doen´t want us to see that, at some point, she was part of the collective, and hence, indirectly complicit into all that madness.

Also, PRIME already suspected her, and one of her Proxies was en route to kill and replace her - If Isabelle did not kill Gamma, Francine would be dead. My guess is that she will get jumped on the second she connects, pumped full of killswitches and murder contingencies, and then set to spy on us discreetly by Prime.... if Prime can get to beat Francine, which is less evident that it may look like. Still, Prime has stupid amount of levels in Neuromancy compared to Francine. It is simply not a fair fight, if it happens. If she does connect, she needs a good minder and a hardware setup that protects her appropiatedly, otherwise she is gambling with her life.
>>
>>3917924
this plan makes some sense considering the original plan was to use the element of surprise to upload a instakill virus through the network. now that our stealth is out the window we can’t use that because prime might have made proper countermeasures against that.
>>
>>3917924
but it needs refinement and more discussion
>>
>>3917693
>>3917924
>>3917710
>>3917838
>>3917850
>>3917858
FRIST: We need MORE information. On how Sia plan works, on HOW FRANCINE¨S PLAN works, and on WHICH skills the West network runs on.
I think that, given the complexity of the situation and the likely elaborated defenses that Prime must have around her clone network, we simply need to examine the hardware - that is, the clones.
Since Francine is our friend and she cannot examine herself, we have to get more samples - which means getting an intact / dead Proxy and see how it works in a controlled environment. If Sia can get to DISGUISE us as a random crew of daughters so we can make it look as a violent mugging for Relics or other stuff, or simply be bait that the curious, curious Proxy can't refrain from collecting, when she gets murdered, it will look normal.... and we can study the network in detail via our bagged Proxy sample.

Prime is busy, she is not going to send a kill squad over a simple violent mugging, as long as the setup is convincing. We are WELL equipped for that (Skintalker (Amara), Neuromancer (Gina) and Sia), and with >24 proxies around only on this country, if we keep our predations small and convincing, we can make it work under the radar. (I would bet FAR more than those numbers, up to the 100-200, taking into account recent expansions, arrival from overseas, and Prime masking the numbers against proxy takeover and interrogation)
>>
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>>3917693
>>3917930
>>3917932
Hope that >>3917941 can serve as a useful starting point. It is not perfect, but since we are trying to outsmart a very smart, yet busy person, let's try to get more information and keep it out of Prime´s confort zone.

Brilliant simultaneous proxy and hacking? Well, you would have to outsmart the INVENTOR of the concept at her own game & confort zone.

Make it look a stupid, senseless crime by violent murderhobos in the fleshcape? Prime and the West network are distractible, and certainly there isn't any interest on investigating a random crime scene of a low-value, recently-created proxy that didn't have time to do anything interesting. Those peasants did not even loot the laboratory!? Certainly seems they were bunch of lowlife thugs.

TL;DR: Let´s not try to outsmart the mastermind from the start. Let's attack from an angle she wouldn't ever lower herself to consider in the first place. AKA bullying low-level proxies for lunch money (and also network samples) and leaving the million dollar safe uncracked to look the part.

What do you think? It is a very rough concept, but I think that you could make something memorable and far better than what it currently is.
>>
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>>3917693

"Are you both okay with waiting on this a bit longer? I just got a call from a giant superintelligent ant, and I don't think Amara would ever forgive me if I delayed meeting with her a moment longer than necessary.” You explain, your plate swiftly carried away by Dorian faster than you can protest. “I'll think about the situation while I'm out and we'll come to a decision when I return, if that's alright with you."

Francine and Sia share a glance, and once they both give you a nod of approval you return to your room, finding Gina slowly rousing from her heavy slumber. She gets ready while you privately explain the discussion you just had via the Crimson Cord, watching her expression as it changes with every new piece of information you impart to her.

{Yeah, no. Both plans are bad…if you could even call them plans} Gina says, adjusting her sweater around her shoulders as she scowls. {I think Francine’s just getting antsy, and Sia strikes me as the kind of person that *needs* to keep moving. She may joke about Rosa stringing everybody along, but staying on the move figuratively or literally seems to suit her just fine. I’m thinking that their nerves just started bouncing off one another’s until they both got restless}

[Yeah, I’d hoped Sia’d be able to maybe help Francine since they’re dealing with similar issues, but I think that may have exacerbated things] You sigh, and Gina promptly sits down on the bed next to you.

{Hey, don’t feel bad or anything. We don’t really know Sia…hell, we barely know Francine} She remarks, making a face at the latter realization. You can’t help but agree, though you choose not to dwell on the fact as the two of you return to the living room in time to meet Rath and November. Addressing marching orders to everyone gathered, you elect to take Gina, Julia, and (of course) Amara to go meet the Queen.

Moments later, when your world becomes whole again on the other end of Escher’s Gear, you find the clearing around the Pyreant hive cleared with a horde of rust-red soldiers standing at attention. You give a nod to one of the asymmetrical Amalgams, and it only has to stamp its battle-axe once against the flesh underfoot before the rest of its kin respond in kind, their stomps becoming a thunderous drumbeat that heralds the ground starting to tremble deep below where you stand.

With ponderous strength the Pyreant Queen emerges from the hive, a grand and hideous monstrosity whose incredible size is held aloft by seven jagged talons, each warped blade twice as long as you are tall. Slowly she lowers herself to face you, mismatched eyes swiveling in too-small sockets to focus in on you and your allies. Compound, humanoid, cephalopod…her multitude of eyes have no rhyme or reason as they regard you passively for a long moment before your empathic field envelops all present.

(Continued)
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>>3918005

“QUEEN TO QUEEN, WE SPEAK, AS I SPOKE TO YOU BEFORE.” The Queen intones, audibly pleased at the echoed phrase. Her eyes swivel in their sockets, surveying your trio of allies for a moment before speaking again. “YOU HAVE BROUGHT YOUR KIN. THEY ARE KIN TO YOU, AND KINFRIEND TO ME. VERY GOOD.”

“…cute.” Amara mutters under her breath, her two-tone eyes wide and complete with an awed smile as she takes in the Queen’s colossal size.

“YOU HAVE BROUGHT A GRUB! SPLENDID!” The Queen bellows, noting Amara’s presence as all of her eyes churn to stare at the little girl by your side. “YOU SHALL GROW STRONG, A WARRIOR THAT WILL BRING MUCH MEAT TO YOUR HIVE AND KIN!”

“This is the best day.” Amara whispers, eyes shining as she just continue to stare at the Queen with a smile so big that it has to be hurting her cheeks.

“NOW…I HAVE THOUGHT MUCH, AND WHAT YOU SAID IS PLEASING TO TASTE.” The Queen continues, turning back to face you. “MY KIN WILL NOT FEED UPON THE DAUGHTERS THAT WALK THROUGH OUR TERRITORY, UNLESS THEY ARE THREATS. I ASK YOUR HELP IN COMMUNICATING THAT WE DO NOT THINK THEM MEAT, BUT FRIENDKIN. I DESIRE THE REUPUTATION YOU SPOKE OF.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” You reply, breathing a sigh of relief. “I’ll be happy to come up with something that will let everyone know that you mean them no harm…if they respect your territory, of course.”

“NOW, WHEN I TOOK TIME TO THINK, I HAD MANY THOUGHTS.” The Queen says, colossal talons digging into the ground as she raises herself a little taller. “ONE WAS THAT WE WILL HAVE LESS MEAT IN EXCHANGE FOR FRIENDKIN. I HAVE BEEN THINKING MUCH TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM, BUT EXPANDING THE HIVE BRINGS THREATS.”

“What sort of threats?” Amara asks innocently, and the Queen’s eyes swivel to focus on her.

“IN ONE DIRECTION, WE HAVE FOUND A DIGGING THING. VERY LARGE. LARGER THAN ME. QUIET AND STRONG.” The Pyreant Queen replies. “IN THE OTHER THERE IS A HIVE OF MEAT-THINGS, GUARDED BY TWO WARRIORS THAT ARE...I…I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO DESCRIBE THEM.”

Amara turns to you, wide-eyed and pleading as she tugs on your dress. Well, her verdict on whether or not to help the Pyreants is obvious, though you can feel Gina and Julia have their understandable reservations regarding the timing of the whole affair. Laoc awaits, though have to wonder if the same can be said for your tenuous new alliance.

>>”We’ll hunt, and bring you food if you keep your territory to what it is now. Maybe in time you can expand more, but that’ll be easier with more friendkin and a reputation.”

>>”You say you wish to expand. We’ll seek out the [Digging Thing/Guarded Beings] and see what we can do. Maybe we can come to an agreement, if they’re like you.”

>>”Let me think on this, fair Queen. I want to do what’s best for both our kin, and to do that I will need to think and plan, like you do. Does this sound fair to you?”

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, thank you for your patience, and voting shall remain open for the next three hours. Additionally, I rolled the dice to break the three-way tie between Rath, Dorian, and Julia as your fourth party member to bring, just as an FYI. I do hope your day is going well, one and all.)
>>
>>3917562
wha!?!?!
well damnit flibber flabber fuck me BHOP said we were not continuing til tuesday....
>>
>>3918041
(I...I just looked back at the 33rd Vein and I'm so, so sorry. You're absolutely correct, and I have no idea how that happened. I could have sworn I said Monday, but you're right. I am absolutely shaken.)
>>
>>3918049
Well BHOP there must be a god because the one thing i did NOT want to miss was the Ant Queen, and i got here JUST in time for it it looks like.

you're forgiven, I wasn't actually mad at you in the first place so much as panicking myself. but ill also say its entirely possible im not the only one that will have affected, we'll see come tomorrow i suppose.
>>
>>3918073

(Actually, in light of my mistake I will be extending voting until 12PM tomorrow, Eastern time. It's only fair, since the mistake was mine and that should give any players/readers that were going by the original time ample time to catch up and vote.)

(Does that sound fair to everyone present?)
>>
>>3918092
Sure. Gives us more time to ponder the Francine situation, too.
>>
>>3918006
ew';few;lgel;g;elr
>No one brought Dorian or November.
i do not forgive any of you fucking dammit i knew i was gonna regret not having been here.

vote:
>test, via directly or Gina and Amara, if you cannot bring forth an Engine, and trade a level or two with the Queen. maybe her status as beyond Amalgam will allow you ti give her a Hive level and her something of hers, to both metaphorically and physically show off your alliance?
>Ask the Ant Queen just how immediate a threat either of these things are.
have Amara send 10 clones with 10 stealthed scoutlings, to go and scout out both threats.
>If the Queen admits it can wait, help her first thing tommorow.
>If it cannot, send your Family to Laoc and go deal with the least deadly threat with a group of Amaras.
>>
>>3918092
well im caught up but yeah, regardless of usual voter count, if even one person isnt here thinking they had more time, i think thats fair and would be silly of me not to support.
>>
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>>3918006
VOTE:
>>”You say you wish to expand. We’ll seek out the [Digging Thing/Guarded Beings] and see what we can do. Maybe we can come to an agreement, if they’re like you.”
ALSO:
> "Queen, you told us that the meat is scarcer - but you have the ability to make more of you. Could you create some cattle that could draw sustenance from the fleshcape, and that you could harvest for meat in turn?" [INTRODUCE THE QUEEN TO FARMING]

ALSO, the QUEEN alliance is more important that you would think. She and her subjects can breed and reproduce amalgams - which, if they create a non-sentient, non-sapient equivalent of amalgam chicken, would solve the greatest problem this crucible has: The Hunger madness meter.

Remember how the Barbers told us that there are very few amalgams left, and even more the only solution to the Hunger is daughter murder, with all communities threatening to devolve into 100 Monasteries? If we introduce a source of fresh amalgams, this would solve the hunger Madness timer, and OZMAs is not in a position to obstaculize our efforts....

It would be an interesting thing to know about the 2 guarded beings. Maybe they are the escaped Hexxane ascendants?! If so, it would be great to see how they are doing. They may have regained most of their sentience and autonomy, and if not... better remove any lingering pawns OZMAs may have left. We wouldn't benefit from being hit by OZMAs out of the left field when we have our hands full with the Proxy network.
>>
>>3918108
im VERY much against asking the Queen to farm and harvest her own kin. family and caring about them is the ONE thing she actually cares about, and makes her human-like. and its just a disgusting idea too that you would never ask a human to do.

>>3918006
>>3918108
Vetoing this guys second part. Vetoing its massively and heavily.
>>
>>3918092
Perfect, dear BHOP. You are a prince amongst men, as always.
Maybe you should also emphasize that the votation for plans on how to deal with the West proxy network still accepts submissions?

Yes, dear BHOP....>>3918049, you made the mistake of setting a grand wedding with a free 5-stars Michelin free buffet... and then celebrating the wedding 3 days earlier ;-)
I ALREADY ATE EVERYTHING, AND AS SUCH I REGRET NOTHING! XDD
>>
>>3918108
>>3918112
>" against asking the Queen to farm and harvest her own kin"
NEVER. It is more about her discovering the APHID farming by slapping the reproductive ability on a non-sentient beetle amalgam, not harvesting her own.

Did I not make clear that in my post?! Dude, please bear with me and read my post a bit slower, pls.
>>
>>3918119
I got that's what you were intending, to create an aphid equivalent, but I'm not sure how to actually propose the Ant Queen do that. Shu doesn't have any knowledge of the Ant Queen's ability to control what she spawns, if she could even create customized spawn in the first place, let alone "creature which is not-hive". It's a nice idea, but we don't even begin to know enough to see if it's practical.

Also, for all we know, that other hive of meat-things may be viable livestock. A hive suggests they might have developed reproduction, too. Provided they're not conscious on the level the Pyre Ants are, farming them might work. We need to scout them out, they might even be aphids for all we know.
>>
>>3918119
nothing about the Actual Vote would not make it seem like you mean her spawning her own to muse as cattle, and if you cant see how then i cannot help you.

i still do not want to ask her that or anything along those lines, especially this early. caring and kinship is the one thing that is allowing her to even become sentient, and allowing her to even see past her own kin and accept others. shes still a pretty new sentience, but has been showing signs of growing. trying to add in and confuse her on a middle ground like cattle could VERY well backfire if she interprets it the wrong way, and lead down a very very bad road. she needs to show us much stronger signs of understanding things on a higher level before we should try anything like that for sure, and she hasn't even shown us yet she actually understands how to give people a chance to leave her territory and such yet, as actions speak volumes over words. maybe once she has done anything akin to a negotiation without us there to help her we can expand ours and hers horizons, but one step at a time.
>>
>>3918092
oh, hows the Relic sheet updates and other things coming along? I apologize if comes off wrong as im not trying to rush you at all, simply just curious. anything we might be able to do to help, or is it coming along and more of just a time issue?
>>
>>3918152
(It's more of a time issue, between work and preparing for the holidays. However, if you'd be able to check and see what Relics need to be added to the sheet so I can run that list against my handwritten ones, I would greatly appreciate it, but it's by no means vital. I just don't want to miss out on anything and then have to go back in. I think I have most of everything ready, but I keep looking back, thinking I missed something.)
>>
>>3918156
ill give it a once over, though, i apologize as i might not catch ever name over 'i know we got this from whoever'.

also, it brings up a question i put forth earlier of... i think only one Relic but it might be two now, but of if it would be easier for things like the journal to say, be listed under Shus 'Other Abilities' due to the fact it was a one time consumption that she cant remove, in order to not confuse anyone possibly by having it on the relics sheet.
>>
>>3918159
(Oh, absolutely. Listing them under 'Other Abilities' just makes sense.)
>>
>>3918117
(Ah, you're too kind. I appreciate your praise, and I do hope any 'late' comers can forgive my jumping the gun.)
>>
>>3918165
>>3918156
right, i... do not THINK im forgetting anything, but hopefully if i am, other anons will pipe up aswell once i get the ball rolling. regardless, even if its just a double check, i do hope it helps BHOP!

>The Two Jars we got from Lepisma(I think both still have at least a single charge left?)
>The Bodyguard Sword we got from Lepisma
>That odd Initiative Box we got from Lepisma
>Silver Bell from Yurei
>We got some shard of an Engine from Yurei
>the Sui Sacrificium(?) that Francine was Repairing
>The orante spheres device Francine was repairing
>Those two(?) Relics we had Rath forge in preparation for Charon and to boost November. It was a flamer and armor i think that worked together?
>The book Shu consumed, though what its description was and should look like once consumed i do not remember.
>Affections Anchor, gotten from the cold doggo.
>The Contender is still not up to date from out Machinegun Level-up.
>Some people have said we have a Koku Serum but no idea when we built it myself.
>The Hydras Heart should probably have [LOCKED] on the levels after the first, as we do not have them unlocked yet.
>We no longer have the General Generator Sauce, though personally i thought it worked out well and would like another, but thats a discussion to vote on, of course.

We also need to figure out what is new with a T5 forge, but id imagne you’re waiting to tell us til we use it. Probably something to put on a document for all the known game rules, if such a thing ever happens

Also, speaking of the Ego and the Ignition Gauntlets, how ‘trapped’ are the daughters in those crystals? Or due to it being both what they and we want, are they/can they be connected to the Dream Daughter Network? Does it only work so long as someone is wearing said Relic? ….can the two sisters at the very least interact with eachother?
>>
>>3918184
(They can absolutely be connected with the Dream Daughter network, if actively reached out to. Also, since the sisters are bound to the same Relic, then they can and do interact. I'd have actually liked to see if the dice had rolled differently and one of them had manifested in the Yurei fight. It would have been interesting, for sure.)
>>
>>3918186
oof, yeah that would've been rough. id imagine sisterly bonds have a strong resistance though, but in which direction would be the problem. glad to hear they do not have to be isolated, especially with the one doctor girl in the Gauntlets. oh! we should let Francine hang onto them, at least when no one else is using them. im sure she would fit right in with Francines headspace.

though, whether we SHOULD continue to add folks like that to it, is another question...
>>
>>3918184
>>3918186
also, if necessary or the way i did it was just too confusing, i can try and dig up the actual names of all of those, just not my strong suit to remember names off the top of my head.
>>
>>3918194
(No need, that's perfect, thank you!)
>>
So a huge digger that lives near the Pyre Ants. Isn't that just the worm that Zahira killed? Maybe there's more than one burrowing monster, but might as well check. It could be that the Queen is going off of old intel, if her scouts haven't been back that way for fear of the creature.

>>3918006
>>Write-In
>"This digging thing, what does it look like and where does it live? My family saw a giant burrowing worm on an island to the east of here. If that was the digger your scouts found, then it's not a problem anymore. It was dead, killed by a Daughter who we then fought."

>If that hunch turns out to be wrong:
>"That's a shame, it would have made things simpler. Well, my grub here has keen senses. If you'll give us a bit I'm sure she could sniff out some more information on your neighbors. Once we know more we can decide which one of them is a greater threat to your hive."
>Have Amara spawn six Joyous Many and don Shalaev's Shawl. Spawn six Subversive Scarlet Jacklings to accompany them, and six Subversive Knights for them to ride so that this goes faster.
>Send three Many/Jackling pairs in the direction of the digging thing, three Many-Jackling pairs in the direction of the guarded hive.
>Use Skintalker senses to keep a wide berth from the actual creatures, sending the scouts out around their locations to triangulate their positions and maximize data acquired.
>Once in position, have Gina and Shu use Neuromancy through the Jacklings to scan the area while the Many use their Skintalking for the same and the real Amara performs the ROUNDABOUT WHISPER Dual Tech with Julia.
>Questions for the zones:
>>What are the appearances of the Amalgam types found in this zone, listed in descending order of their strength?
>>How many of each type of Amalgam are in this zone?
>>What are the resistances and/or immunities possessed by the strongest Amalgam in this zone?
>>
>>3918260
out of ll the things, im thinking the Ants probably keep tabs on when a threat is killed or not. plus, the worm was implied to be pretty far away, and with its size, id actually be very surprised the Ants were even still alive if it had them in its sights.
>>
>>3918260
also, im thinking the 'meat-things' and two guards are not going to be simple Amalgams, so i think it could waste some questions there with what you have.
>>
>>3918260
(It is a different creature than the Worm Lepisma/Zahira killed earlier, just for clarification.)
>>
>>3918267
Good point. I'm not sure how to say it more generally that isn't also too vague to be useful, though. "Entities" is too abstract, "organisms" would have it talking about the fleshscape, maybe "creatures"?

>>3918325
Ah, then I'll just cut that part when I rewrite.
>>
>>3918006
>>3918100
Amending/clarifying/fixing orders a bit;
>test, via directly or Gina and Amara, if you cannot bring forth an Engine, and trade a level or two with the Queen. maybe her status as beyond Amalgam will allow you to give her a Hive level and her something of hers, to both metaphorically and physically show off your alliance?
>have Amara send 5 clones with 5 stealthed scoutlings to each threat, to go and scout them out and gather what info they can safely get.
>Ask the Ant Queen just how immediate a threat either of these things are to her brood.
>If the Queen admits it can wait, help her first thing tomorrow, but offer to use your own Hive at its maximum to help defend her borders if it would put her at ease.
>If it cannot, send your Family to Laoc and go deal with the least deadly threat with a large group of Amaras. Ask Holly and Johanna if they would be willing to assist you, and spend as many turns as you can getting them as stated up as possible.
>If the others complain, Especially Julia, remind them it was You who interrupted their off time, and you wont do it again. they've earned it, and not everyone has to drop what their doing over things like this, even if someone needs to.
>>
>>3918341
hrm...should we offer and explain to her what signs are too, so we can also mark the edges of her territory with them, or do you think the idea of writing and territorial markers might be a bit too advanced for her? though.... the idea of Amara teaching the Ant Queen to read and write is.... something im very much not against seeing.
>>
>>3918006
>>3918356
adding in;
>throw a bone to Amara once other business is taken care of.
>lean in and whisper to the Queen. "a small favor but... my 'Grub' does not get to meet those around her age too often, and has an... affection for her fellow young. i understand if you are not comfortable with it, but i know she would very much love to get to meet your grubs for a bit. i promise she would be more than gentle and caring with them." smile as you shrug, "id owe you something small in return, of course."
>>
>>3918365
Writing might be too much for her right now, but using symbols as a territorial marker should work. She's definitely smart enough to get that. Writing can come later. But yes, Amara teaching her to read would be adorable. Wait, no, Amara teaching the ant grubs to read. Babysitter Amara, watching over the squigly little larva and reading to them.
>>
>>3918372
while im not against that and agree its cute, bugs have a much different child-to-adult transformation than mammals. there might not BE kids with a high enough level of brain functions to be taught. will really depend on how they have evolved from that.

that, and this cute, hyperactive kid teaching this giant, all powerful ant queen how to read and write just has that tick of uniqueness to it that really sells it.
>>
>>3918397
I mostly just thought it was a cute image, not very serious. I'm not sure how intelligent even the adult Pyre Ants are, the Queen definitely seems like the smartest of them. Whoever Amara teaches, though, it's probably going to wait until the epilogue. No real time to do it now. Assuming that friendly Amalgams gets to survive the reconstruction of the ecosystem, that is. I hope they do, I love the image of Amara having all these weird monster friends who she hangs out with and that all the other children in the rebuilding society are in awe of.
>>
>>3918415
maybe, though i can see it being useful before then, but certainly still at best a 'free time' situation for when shes either not on a mission or like days like were doing now. would be up to her too, of course.
>>
>>3918370
>>3918372
>inb4 the Ants grow up to be ninja ants when Amara goes full weeb when teaching them.
>>
>>3918108
Isn't there an Amalgam spawning zone where we can theoretically create custom-order Amalgams that Charon told us about?
>>
>>3918498
there is such a zone and i think that was implied somewhat, but its actual limitations and parameters and whatnot are not known. id imagine there must be some limit otherwise that would be quite the threat to the crucibles want of forcing a winner via the hunger eventually.
>>
>>3918501
My guess is that it has a resource limit. There are only so many levels worth of Amalgam it can produce, once it hits that cap it stops. So you can make a lot of weak Amalgams or a few big monsters.
>>
>>3918509
welp. that just breaks yurei's dream of creating an eternal "Matrix"
>>
>>3918515
Not necessarily. I was thinking a programmed limit, not an inherent one. The Crucible is huge, even if the spawner was limited physically it could just draw on more of the fleshscape. Plenty of biomass and energy to use in making monsters. But a programmed limit to how many Amalgams it can make, in line with the idea that the food supply is designed to eventually run out, makes a fair bit of sense.
>>
>>3918515
im not sure thats true. much as i dont like her idea i do not think hunger is an issue it would have.

>>3918509
that could be the case. honestly i swore it was implied Mother can spawn Amalgams anywhere both safely and unsafely with points, so im wondering why that place even exists.
>>
>>3918006
Supporting >>3918356 and >>3918370


>>3918006
Damn that Queen looks like a unloved hellspawn born from a greater Demon and a Norn Queen
>>
right, so just to get it out of my system, my thoughts on the whole Sia and Francine thing;
both plans are utterly SHIT, however, we might need to let Francine have her way, but we need to have a sit down and private talk with her first.

what i want to do, is get her to open up, and be honest with us. i want to ask her if this is really about trying to trick Prime, or is shes doing this for herself to prove to herself she really has separated herself from the West Network. if to her, this is about proving her individuality to herself. and if that is her reason behind it, honestly? i dont think we have a right to stop her. hell, it might be the only thing that can convince her not to off herself.

but the other issue i want to pry from her, is the truth and depth of this, specifically, the Proxies themselves. so far, she has and does seem to think so, that she is an entity that CAN be fully separate... but is she sure? im not talking metaphorically, or whatever, but literally. is she positive she is built far enough from a Construct to not need outside help to keep and have her independence while doing this? again, i get we have been given SOME info here, but if shes gonna do this, she needs to walk us and herself through all the pieces, as it was.
>>
>>3918006
Editing my write-in here >>3918260

>>Write-In
>"My grub here has quite keen senses. If you'll give us a bit I'm sure she could sniff out some more information on your neighbors. Once we know more we can decide which one of them is a greater threat to your hive."
>Have Amara spawn six Joyous Many and don Shalaev's Shawl. Spawn six Subversive Scarlet Jacklings to accompany them, and six Subversive Knights for them to ride so that this goes faster.
>Send three Many/Jackling pairs in the direction of the digging thing, three Many-Jackling pairs in the direction of the guarded hive.
>Use Skintalker senses to keep a wide berth from the actual creatures, sending the scouts out around their locations to triangulate their positions and maximize data acquired.
>Once in position, have Gina and Shu use Neuromancy through the Jacklings to scan the area while the Many use their Skintalking for the same and the real Amara performs the ROUNDABOUT WHISPER Dual Tech with Julia.
>Questions for the zones:
>>What are the appearances of the beings in the zone, listed in descending order of strength?
>>What resistances and/or immunities are possessed by the two strongest beings in the zone?
>>What are the typical behavior patterns of the beings in the zone?
>>
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>>3918006

“Allow me to scout those threats, and see what we can do to help.” You declare, swiftly spawning a dozen Stealthed Scoutlings, the numerous newborns scrabbling their way free of the holes along your spine, back aching as they emerge one after another. They are matched with an equal number of Joyous Many, Amara’s arms sloughing off raw biomass that pools at her feet, the skin-tone sludge slowly congealing into humanoid forms as they take proper shape. With a nod, two teams of six take off in either direction, each Joyous paired with a scout in the hopes of gathering more information regarding the threats your new allies are facing.

“How immediate a threat are these things to you and your brood?” You ask, turning to the Pyreant Queen.

“I DO NOT FORESEE EITHER BECOMING AN ACTIVE THREAT UNLESS WE EXPAND THE HIVE TO ACQUIRE MORE MEAT.” She explains with some reluctance. “BUT WE MUST EXPAND, IF WE ARE TO TREAT DAUGHTERS AS FRIENDKIN.”

“Alright. If both possible threats don’t seem to be major issues immediately, then I would like to wait for a short while to formulate a plan.” You explain, sending a wave of reassurance across the empathic channel when you feel the Queen grow anxious. “If you’re willing to trust me to come up with a plan, I can bring the full might of my own fa…my own hive to help you. It’s what friends do.”

“YES. YES, I WILL…TRUST?” She replies, stumbling over the unfamiliar concept. “I WILL TRUST YOU TO HELP US, SO THAT WE MAY EXPAND TO MAKE MORE FRIENDKIN THAT IS NOT MEAT.”

“Gina, please use the Crimson Cord to survey through the scouts I sent out.” You request, turning from the brunette at your right to Julia and Amara to your left. “You both have a technique that’ll let you talk to the Fleshscape a little more freely, right? Use it, if you can; we need to know what these things can do, if we come to blows.”

GG promptly folds her legs underneath her and sits on the sandy ground, closing her eyes as the veins along her arms flicker amethyst. Julia reaches out, Amara taking her hand with a smile as they focus, muttering to the Fleshscape around them and not having to wait long before their surroundings reply in kind. Tapping into the Crimson Cord you see through the eyes of your brood alongside Gina, taking a moment to observe the domains of your targets in the order of power, knowledge granted to you by the arcane utterances of the Artisan and Skintalker standing beside you.

>>ROUNDABOUT WHISPER - Activated

Your vision opens to a clearing of calcite trees, torn asunder and scattered around a gaping wound in the Fleshscape, sliced veins and arteries oozing into a yawning abyss at least thirty meters in diameter. Through your hovering scouts you see nothing more than this, but when Amara’s fingers entwine with yours, your eyes are opened to the reality of the thing that dwells deep below the surface.

(Continued)
>>
>>3919149

It is mammalian and amphibian in equal measure, a hunched figure that brings to mind a mole and a toad, thrown together into the pits of hell and covered in matted fur, dotted with sores. Drill-like spines along its back hang with strips of rotting meat, the remains of Amalgam and Daughter alike forming a decayed menagerie of ruined flesh. Whiskers form something like a mane around the creature’s face, devoid of fur and with skin pulled taught to the point of tearing. Eyes like a frog’s are covered with a thick, scarred film as it rests, chipped and worn fore-talons rapidly regenerating after having carved a fresh tunnel, one of countless in the labyrinth it calls its home…one that, slowly but surely, will bring it to the Pyreants’ doorstep.

>>BEHAVIOR: Digs its ever-expanding home, senses prey through vibrations felt through the Fleshscape. Possesses Neuromantic terraforming, freely capable of altering terrain already shaped by its talons. Prehensile tongue, expands to trap prey in tunnels. Drill-like spines are actually parasitic Amalgams that feed on the blood of the host, flying towards predators in defense of their home.

>>RESISTANCES: Heat, Cold, Acid.

>>IMMUNITIES: Stun, Crushing.

Your vision shifts from the unnerving Amalgam to the other end of the area, finding yourself seeing through the eyes of your scouts poised high above a dilapidated, vine-covered school building. The grounds must have once been grand and refined, the remains of ornate statues now entwined with veins of red and blue. It’s the latter of these tendrils that spark your interest, as Julia and Amara’s conversation with the Fleshscape reveals that the azure lines belong to one of the beings that lurks within the basement of the school.

Your senses warp yet again, attuning to the insights gathered by your allies to reveal the pair of beings that dwell in the ruined structure…and they’re not what you expect. An angular, humanoid figure sits in the basement of a large school, legs crossed in meditation with four arms are folded across its broad chest, its torso softly pulsing with teal light. It sits beneath a tangle of blue ivy, and as you observe the scene in your mind’s eye it strikes you that you’re looking at the second of the two beings the Pyreant Queen informed you of. More flora than fauna, a vaguely humanoid form is the origin point for a mass of azure vines and sky-blue feelers, the entire room covered floor-to-ceiling in the unusual tendrils that extend all across the school grounds.

You swallow hard, the visages of the two beings as utterly inexpressive as Hexane faces can be. They’re Amalgams, to be sure…echoes of the two last remaining Hexane Remnants, standing guard over four oblong sacs, bound to the floor and tightly grouped in a corner of the school basement.

A quartet of sleeping Daughters, yet to wake to the Crucible’s limitless cruelties.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3919151

PHALANX REMNANT - NEUROMANCER

>>BEHAVIOR: Vastly enhanced perceptions allow it an edge in martial combat, terraforming the ground around it for unparalleled mobility and uncanny precognitive abilities. A single blow is enough to confound the sense. Exercise extreme caution.

>>RESISTANCES: Slashing, Piercing, Blunt, Cold.

>>IMMUNITIES: Neuromancy, Crushing.

PHALANX REMNANT – UNNATURAL PREDATOR

>>BEHAVIOR: Rooted in place until it is time to strike. Unparalleled area control, incredible speed once vines are interacted with. Stuns foes, then crushes them with tremendous force.

>>RESISTANCES: Slashing, Crushing, Blunt.

>>IMMUNITIES: Stun, Dismemberment.

“Shit.” You mutter, disengaging from swarm and sense alike as you consider the options before you. GG, Julia, and Amara turn to you as you begin to pace, mulling over your options in your mind. The mole-esque Amalgam has the advantage of terrain and a formidable skill set to boot, while the Hexane Phalanges simply appear to be waiting, and you have the feeling that it’s for the sleeping Daughters to awaken…though for what purpose, you can’t be certain.

“Any insight on how long we have until those Daughters wake up?” You ask, and Gina shakes her head.

“They don’t look as developed as Amara’s pod was, so I think we’ve got some time. I’m just eyeballing it, though” GG replies, uncertain. “There’s no way to tell unless I can jack into it like I did the first time we ran into something like this.”

You’re brought out of your musings when Amara tugs on your dress once more, her wide eyes staring up at you with as much seriousness as she can muster. She motions for you to lean down, and when you comply the little one cups her hand around your ear and whispers discreetly.

“I wanna see the babies.”

“…What?” You ask, confused.

“The ant babies. You think the Queen would let me see them?” She clarifies, and in spite of the plates you’re spinning, you can’t help but stifle a laugh. Good to know her priorities are in order, at least.

Taking some time to plan out your next moves would be nice, though the Hexane’s odd vigil over the sleeping Daughters makes you nervous, as does the resting Amalgam that flanks the other side of the Pyreant’s territory.

>>You need time, and you’ll take it. See if you can’t trade gifts with the Queen while Amara meets the Pyreant grubs, then take your family to Laoc…finally.

>>You don’t like the thought of leaving the cocoons with the Hexane without more info. Make a plan of approach…and attack, if push comes to shove.

>>That digging Amalgam just sitting there doesn’t sit well with you. Without knowing when it’ll start moving again, putting it down now is the safest course of action.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, voting shall remain open for the next three hours. My sincerest apologies for the wait, as this morning has prompted a general feeling akin to pic related. In other news, the use of the Dual Tech was thrown in, and to my pleasant surprise both participants rolled extremely well, hence the information revealed. I’m also quite pleased that someone remembered that it existed.)

(Because I certainly didn’t.)

(Also, the last part of the winning vote regarding having Amara meet the grubs is reserved for when you decide how to address the situation as appropriate, so no worries there.)
>>
GAH. JUST AS I HAVE TO LEAVE FOR WORK THIS HAPPENS.

Also, I think the Phalanx Remnants have good reason to guard the pods so we should leave them alone since killing them would kill off Ozmas's remaining tokens.
>>
>>3919152
Oh man, it's the last two phalanges. But we might be able to reason with them as they aught to have regained their memories by this point, won't be under Mother's direct control (who's trying to negotiate something with us when we last talked) and seem to be protecting unhatched Daughters. And we can ask our dream Hexanes about them as well.
>>
>>3919152
>>That digging Amalgam just sitting there doesn’t sit well with you. Without knowing when it’ll start moving again, putting it down now is the safest course of action.

We need a plan to approach it and how to get it out of the gorund gettign caught by it would be very dangerous. Though it might work to our advantage that the parasitic amalgams are Amalgams and not constructs What with Julia being here.

We should leave the Phalanxes be for now and have our chat with motehr first. Maybe she knows something about that we would like to know. there might also be the chance of negotiatign with them if they are intelligent enough. They are clearly protectign the pods
Also i knew it the phalanx Predator was a god damn plant based creeature yes
>>
>>3919152
>Ask Gina if her experiences with Terraforming and all the info we have give her any idea of a timeframe for the Mole Amalgam reaching the Pyre Ants.
>Assuming Gina thinks we can wait a day or more...
>You need time, and you’ll take it. See if you can’t trade gifts with the Queen while Amara meets the Pyreant grubs, then take your family to Laoc…finally.

i think(or hope), we can wait on both, and to be fair, theres two things here;
One, I am unsure our current team is best for either fight.
Two, we might be able to take both together, we have the party members for it.

but assuming Gina thinks we have time, we promised our team a day of rest and we should give it to them. that, and more time to plan for once is not a bad idea.
>>
>>3919158
i disagree with going after either target for now. if we are, at the very least, we need to switch Julia out due to promising her time in Laoc. if we dont take the moment given to us to actually give our party rest, we never will find the time.

technically, if we were to do this, id fall back on my plan for Shu to go in alone with Spiritus and Amara Clones. our family needs rest, not just physically but mentally, and promises are promises.
>>
>>3919153
Sorry to hear your morning has been stressful. I hope it will get better again.
>>
>>3919156
im still unsure they can actually be reasoned with, and am not too worried about saving Mother. the Daughters in those pods, if in danger, deserve our aid over sacrificing them just to keep Mother around.

mind you, that might not be the case, but that is the risk as it might be.

>>3919153
hey man we understand.
>>
>>3919152
Ammending my vote from >>3919158
to
>"So Gina whta do you think ourt timeframe is for the pods. at the least. One week or less?"
>"What do you think about our chances of dealing with that terraforming ability of that one Froglike thing? it has those extra Amalgams on it that could be useful if Julia was with us. And where do you think it will expand to next so maybe we could aambush it somewhere"
>You need time, and you’ll take it. See if you can’t trade gifts with the Queen while Amara meets the Pyreant grubs, then take your family to Laoc…finally.

>>3919163
You are kinda right..... Yeah i am kinda tired due to having a rough night.
Maybe i should go to sleep soon. And some relaxing time at Laoc might be what is needed
>>
>>3919163
I also dotn care if we safe mother. i jsut want to get as much info from her as we can as she will have insight no one else will. maybe we can get a list of patchnotes form her as well
>>
>>3919164
(I appreciate your concern, and I do hope that you can get some sleep to make up for your restless night, as well.)

>>3919166
(Thank you for your understanding, as always. Also, I hope your day is going well.)
>>
>>3919169
hey i understand, my own sleep schedules been wonky, and certain recent instances have not helped.
i sometimes nap between votes when my sleep schedule gets bonkers, can help alot.

>>3919170
eh, i get that, but i was more saying regardless of what Mother can offer us, waiting til those Daughters get devoured or worse isnt justifiable. wild guess here, but if the Hexxane are even just semi-sentient again, id imagine they might be waiting til they are fully developed, then plan to hijack their bodies and consume the rest. they do happen to have the Neuromancer left, afterall.

>>3919171
eh, its cold as fuck and all ive got is space heaters and blankets, but at least i dont live up north and otherwise days been well enough.
>>
>>3919172
oh i tried. its kinda difficult if the game starts for you around 4 in the afternoon and last till like two or three am and i always sucked at napping.

It did work for the last big vote but i still felt very tired for the entire day after(and i only had to attend school so i could nap away most of the day) so i try to avoid it unless absolutely necessary. And i actually have to be attentive tomorrow since i will meet with a friend after work

>>3919171
>>3919171
I think i will take the usual advice people tned to give out here whenever someone complains over lackign sleep.... I will go to bed now. There are probably like two votes left in the day with three hour voting periods so i would only be missing out on one voting period. Which i can live with.

Have a good day/night everyone
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>>3919180
Have a good night anon.
>>
>>3919152
>Ask Cherum if he knows either of the Hexane well (get something we can use to help them recognize us if possible, even just a name)
>Have Amara circle around at a distance to approach from a 90 degree angle to where we are, nonthreatening as possible and try to communicate using either clone or drone (Halo isolation on)
The motivation for them guarding the pod here is important in how we can approach. The way I see it there are three likely reasons: some plotting by Mother, guarding the pods (unclear why they decided this was the best use of their time), or spawncamping for free levels (why haven't they killed the pods already? more levels from a Daughter that was actually born?)
If they are guarding the pods, that seems like possible sentience and we might be able to just talk to them. Depending on the actual reason, we either have to approach it as an extraction mission for the Daughter pods or just a kill mission.

Does anyone remember how long Amara's pod took to open? I know it was at least a couple days so I feel like we should be fine just leaving without fighting for now.
I still want to try and talk to them though.

If we don't need to kill either of these right now, I don't think we should, I'm worried about some of our party losing their minds with the constant fighting.

After that,
>Trade with Queen, Amara talks to grubs, and go to Laoc
>>
>>3919202
what exactly do we have to trade?
>>
>>3919202
>>3919206
(You bring up a good point; trading levels with the Pyreant Queen is certainly possible, with input from Gina. What, if anything, do you all wish to offer to the Queen? Levels, Relics, favors...it's all fair game.)
>>
>>3919206
>>3919211
Thats a good point that I hadn't considered honestly. I just looked through the relic sheet and the ones that someone else mentioned earlier in the thread, none of it seems particularly useful for the Queen.
Levels was what I had in mind originally because someone else mentioned it, its hard to say exactly what because we don't know what the Queen has to offer or how the Crucible will react to her sort of turning into a Daughter. My instinct is that a level of some Hive Mistress skill (Hive or the Ashen Fortitude augment), Neuromancy, or Skintalker would be most useful for protection or better info gathering and more sentience.
>>
>>3919211
QUESTION: Could we try to COPY THE QUEEN amalgam REPRODUCTIVE SKILLTREE via SPARAGMOS engine?


PURPOSE & PLAN:
I know it sounds weird, but the Crucible system seems Specced to ensure ANYTHING a daughter can do is stated as a consumable skill that can be copied & transferred.
IF WE GET the reproduction skill, we can copy it and disseminate amongst people we trust. It has several advantages:

1º) It opens a research path - creation of ETHICAL amalgam chicken when we port this ability to NON-SENTIENT amalgams so they can breed and consumed without ethical issues. This would solve the hunger problem in the Crucible. This is HUGE- One of Mara´s dreams (and almost every researcher in the fleshcape)

2º) It would be a SKILL/AUGMENTATION which would be VERY useful to us as a Hive Mistress - probably would synergize very well with our hive.

3º) Obtaining and copying the skill would MAKE THE QUEEN SAFER: If somebody realizes she has that skill and she is the sole source, people will try to HARM the colony. While if we get it and disseminate it a lot without telling the source, people will work on the copies and never think about seeking the original colony, thinking it was a daughter-born Core skill tree.

4º) Allows to DELEGATE the Amalgam-Chicken project to people we trust for research purposes: The Barbers, Francine, Magpie, Laoc´s major, the DOs.... once we give it to someone we know is decent and skillful, they will put 100% of their focus on developing it, because it is the Holy grail of HUNGER remediation. So we DON¨T need to devote much time or focus to it once the deed is done.
>>
>>3919235
(Copying her reproductive power is quite possible, yes.)
>>
>>3919206
>>3919211
>>3919226
I do agree on the Skintalker core & NEON ASCENDANT; it would be very useful to a colony that is hungry for information and needs to secure their borders, as well as avoid predators. The QUEEN and colony are in a formative phase and as such they need to be able to learn about the world and gather learning materials.
NEON ASCENDANT would be very useful to the Ants: Exceedingly strong terraforming is a boon to tunneling eusocial insects, allowing to expand faster, and the HALO effect would give safety to our beloved friends; if someone consumes an Ant for level, their CORE gets erased! That is a prime protection against greedy psychopaths and large predatory amalgams if I ever saw one.

Queen Crimson would also be VERY useful to an Ant colony fearful of Threats.
>>
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>>3919237
YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEES!
YEEEEEEEEEE......(Head explodes from joy)

Okay, guys, guys, guys and gentleladies. Please let's do it. For Mara and everyone who died from the Hunger mechanics.

Come on. Please.
>>
>>3919240
>>3919235
the only problem that I have with this is in the long term: the possibility of betrayal.
>>
>>3919237
Dear BHOP, last question: Is it a CORE skilltree, SKILL or AUGMENT?

If it is an augment, it is a no-brainer utility to SHU or FRANCINE Hive mistress swarms...
>>
>>3919243
(It's a...very oddly mutated Augmentation, similar to how Francine's Core has been adjusted through force of will.)
>>
>>3919242
Okay, those are good points... but let's face the fact that Mara and several nice. swell people we found in our journeys also faced the same conundrum.

Still, I think that queen Crimson should be quite safe to trade to the QUEEN- Its only uses are defensive, so basically people would need to pick a fight with them on purpose, and we have ways around Queen Crimson.
A normal neurotic Halo, instead NEON ASCENDANT, could make the ants safer without being a so dangerous skill, too.
>>
>>3919246
I'm against giving the Queen a halo. There's potential that she will be hunted purely for that and it's clearly more powerful than we are currently aware. Just a normal level of neuromancy is still immensely powerful for an amalgam that is apparently only based around a single augment right now.
>>
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>>3919244
MY FACE WHEN SEEING IT IS AN AUGMENT.
Did we roll 3 grits in a row for this?.... Oh wait, we did it in the past!
FuzzBuzz is indeed a fuzzy machine machine of glorious plot derailment to surpass Old man henderson ;-)

You made my day, BHOP. May the Dark Gods bless your prose!
(Goes to cackle manically on his basement lab, while heating the P2P servers to distribute the AUGMENT to EVERYONE, WORLDWIDE)
>>
>>3919246
no halos, maybe an augmentation. something that helps the queen but not too much. We’re feeling what is a monster at its base state so keep that in mind.
>>
>>3919244
Soooo......basically the ANT QUEEN is the SAITAMA from Onepunch man of amalgams?
Having developed sentience and rewriting her CORE skilltree from sheer leveling and unbending willpower?

Hell, BHOP. We have got a talent to become friends with all the cool people on the fleshcape, gotta say.
>>
>>3919152
>Ask Gina if her experiences with Terraforming and all the info we have give her any idea of a timeframe for the Mole Amalgam reaching the Pyre Ants.
>Assuming Gina thinks we can wait a day or more...
>You need time, and you’ll take it. See if you can’t trade gifts with the Queen while Amara meets the Pyreant grubs, then take your family to Laoc…finally.
>Note to talk to Silvis, Vultha, Churem and Mulvath about the two phalanges, as to better know what they were like in the previous Crucible and how to better proceed once you decide to confront them.

For trading that reproductive ability with the Queen in order to spread it among the Amalgam population, how about relics? We have plenty of those, or can make new ones specifically to trade.
>>
>>3919263
Your thoughts on Queen Crimson? Maybe Hundred-handed?
In general, something that helps tunneling, info gathering or defence would be cool, while not too useful for offense.

Giving them the Hydromancy augment from bella would help - tunnelers have problems with water and acid lakes, and this would allow them to surpass the problem.
>>
>>3919242
The more the REPRODUCTIVE augment is disseminated, the less productive betrayal becomes: if people thinks its origin comes from a daughter, we crank copies like hotcakes with an engine and release them everywhere, people does not have an incentive to kill or betray - because it is far easier to ask for one of the copies in circulation.

For the QUEEN, she needs to be able to stand for herself, and for that she needs levels. And I have to say that the run of the mill powerful amalgam or High-level daughter is much more dangerous to people than the ANT QUEEN.

Also: If we trade useful skills and tips, we influence which avenues of leveling and skill development the QUEEN does. This way, she does not prey on other people for skills, and we can shape her explorations in something that makes her safe, but does not become a massive threat to everyone on Earth if let unchecked.

Mentoring is the best way to safety, after all...
>>
>>3919275
I’m at work, so I can give limited input. I just want to say be careful and think hard about this.
>>
dangit figures everyone shows up right as im actually catching some shut eye...

>>3919211
Trade our Cores, at least one level, as it only makes thematic sense.
>>
>>3919274
Mayybe a custom-made relic that Terraforms with Neuromancy? Basically, craft the ANT colony relic tools that improve their everyday lives, more than skills that could be weaponized, is a way to assuage the concerns about betrayal....

Which, so far, seem (fortunately) unfounded. But I think the QUEEN should get something very nice. We don't want to face the problem with Pharma and indigenous medical resources - learning invaluable knowledge and offering something that is far less valuable on the long term in return.

As far as we know, this augment is basically the GRAIL for making a functional society that can prosper in the fleshcape, and an efficient way to avoid a worldwide rush to the Chord. Every bit helps, Mara is not an omnipotent god (even if she is a HIGHLY multipotent and skilled dragon banker)

Fun fact, we are in the same position and making the same choices Mara had to face. Much power and influence, but too few time to be able to flex it without delegating...and hoping against hope that you did the correct choice.
>>
>>3919274
>>3919297
you guys are forgetting the Queens "infancy". she might not even yet properly comprehend a relic, let alone know how to put it to proper use.

that, and its way too impersonal, and you are forgetting the entire point of this is to mark her as our allies.
Hive= possible Fuzzbuzz/Bee aesthetics= obvious Defiant ally.

>>3919291
>>3919211
oh, and you did say i think(?) that our breakfast meal would give us one level this time around, s for the sake of making things easy, just trade that one with her, over lowering Hive and spending that level later, if you would be ok with that?
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>>3919303
i’m fine with spending that breakfast level to trade with the queen.
>>
>>3919303
(Leaving Shu out of that pending level-up in lieu of granting the Queen a level of your Core sounds like a good move, yes.)
>>
>>3919303
and i like your suggestions
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>>3919291
Yay, one CORE from each of our party members present, one level each.

Simple and effective. Plus the customary FuzzBuzz, modded for this occasion, of course!
>>
>>3919303
Simple and effective! Consider me in.
>>
>>3919283
I wanna know exactly what the augment is before we decide to spread it around to everyone. We might be better served in trying to contact Mara if it's really what she was looking for and getting her advice.


I've thought about it some more and I feel like giving the Queen a levelable skill (that's not a halo) would be the best choice, even if it's not without risk. She already has the ability to create more drones, so I think Hive might be less useful for her. Neuromancy for mental protection and terraforming or skintalker for more communication seem like the best bet to me. Only one or the other, if she ends up being dangerous or unpredictable I don't wanna start giving her a ton of tools too quickly.

>>3919310
Sorry but definitely not this, way too high risk, not to mention expensive.
>>
>>3919312
Ok, so cut it down to a single core? But please take into account that this augment is potentially priceless - we should not be taking advantage of the QUEEN´s generosity, but instead give her something equally useful.

The idea of contacting Mara is GOOD. It would help a lot to put payment and risks in perspective.
>>
>>3919312
But each of our party members got a level too, so basically it is "free". if we take out of the equation halo-hybridized COREs, the thing becomes much safer - It was NEON ASCENDANT or any halo what people was feeling unsure about.
>>
>>3919307
>>3919309
>>3919311
yay.
honestly im hoping to hybrid this one once our core is maxed out but we'll see.

>>3919312
>>3919310
i do agree giving her a level from EVERYONES core is a bit much right now. but just Shu? dont see the harm and helps us get two issues here done at once, even if one is a bit long term. unlike the other Anon im not actually worried about (purposeful) betrayal, but we can always trade and bond with them more later on as we grow our relationship.

besides, this is a bond between Queens, and most our family isnt even here.

>>3919317
we can get the Augment later. keep in mind we are no researcher or civil planner, and the one person who may be able to do that wants to off herself, and we probably couldn't make proper use of the Augment without her and/or until after the crucible. until we have Francine or someone else stable and some free time the augment wont be put to much use on us anyways, at least for what people seem to want it for.

at the very least it can wait til Francine is no longer suicidal, id think.
>>
>>3919307
for the record BHOP, if a vote is not implying that something like the actual trade will not be its own vote, both please and it might be a good idea to say it should be done now in that vote option. nearly gave me a heart attack there a bit.
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>>3919324
(Pardon, as I do wish to clarify; are you saying that for reference in future votes, or are you asking that I clarify something in the present? I'm having some trouble following, my apologies.)
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>>3919310
nope. veto. one core. only one. core abilities are valuable, and trading shu’s core is as big of atrade as it is a sign/symbol of mutual trust in this odd relationship we have between the two “queens”
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>>3919331
for future votes.
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>>3919321
Yeah I'm not necessarily worried about purposeful betrayal, moreso her continuing to gain intelligence and making some decision we can't abide. I see this as our responsibility to manage now that we have interfaced this much (especially if we trade levels), so I'd like to try and keep it within our ability to contain if need be.

>>3919317
One levelable skill freely given to an Amalgam is immensely valuable to her and otherwise unobtainable, just as her augment is valuable to us. One for one seems like a fair trade to me. We're already planning on helping her expand as well.
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>>3919336
(Ah, thank you for clarifying. Also, I apologize for the suddenness of the change and thank you for bearing with me.)
>>
>>3919339
no problem, just glad i woke up to actually get a word and vote in on it.

>>3919337
fair, though id say our biggest potential concern will be quelled by her agreement already and us helping her expand. its also why i want to take other ideas slowly, like farming, so she doesnt take things the wrong way and us potentially find out she is farming daughters because 'cattle is food you treat like friendnkin/kin til eat eat time, so friendkin can be cattle at times, no?"

i mean, its silly and unlikely, but so is an ant amalgam starting to gain sentience, so.
>>
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>>3919152

"I believe that both possible threats can be dealt with, and I promise you that I will return to do so.” You say, addressing the Queen respectfully. The burst of appreciation that echoes across the empathic channel is a pleasant surprise, and deciding to press your luck a bit, you sidle up the colossal Amalgam.

“Now, I do have a small favor to ask of you, Queen to Queen.” You add, leaning conspiratorially closer to the Pyreant’s baroque leader.” My 'Grub' does not get to meet those around her age too often, and has an...affection for her fellow young. I understand if you aren’t comfortable with it, but I know she would very much love to get to meet your grubs for a bit. I promise she would be more than..."

“YES. YES!” She proclaims, catching you off-guard with her enthusiasm. “AS WE MET QUEEN TO QUEEN, SO WILL THEY. GRUB TO GRUB, LET THEM MEET!”

There’s a sudden chorus of clacking, mandible snapping open and shut in something akin to unnerving applause as Amara trots forward, her eyes wide with absolute and unrestrained joy. Julia accompanies her nervously in the depths of the hive, keeping an eye on the Pyreants even as you calm her through the empathic channel, sensing no desire for conflict among your unusual hosts.

“Gina, odd request, but can you bring the Engine here temporarily? Maybe reverse what trick you pulled with Escher’s Gear to get it back home?” You ask, prompting an arched eyebrow from your favorite Neuromancer. “I have a gift I want to exchange with the Queen…something personal, to show that we’re family.”

Gina takes Escher’s Gear and disappears, and upon her leaving you turn to the Queen, explaining as best you can what you intent to grant her; a distilled part of your own Core, imparted through the device Gina will return with.

“YOUR POWER…IN EXCHANGE FOR MINE?” The Queen muses, mulling over the series of images you’ve imparted to her to help illustrate what you wish to accomplish. “INTERESTING. I…I WILL TRUST THIS, AS WELL. PART OF ME. PART OF YOU. NOT MEAT, BUT…SOMETHING ELSE? SOMETHING MORE, YES? SOMETHING THAT SHOWS WE ARE FRIENDKIN?”

“Exactly.” Comes your reply, feeling the gears turning in her burgeoning mind.

“GOOD. YES, THEN I ACCEPT THIS TRADE. FROM QUEEN TO QUEEN.” She says, the space behind you warping with tremendous force as Gina arrives, the massive Engine startling all present with its sudden appearance.

“Queen to Queen.” You echo.

The Engine hums with untold power, and you initiate a trade that will change everything.

(Continued)
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>>3919382

>>THOUSAND’S MATRON (Hive Mistress Augmentation): Evidence of a bond forged through luck, goodwill, and trust, your swarm now actively evolves and grows the longer they are active. Members of your brood now gain a steadily mounting bonus to HEALTH, BIO, and stats that caps at one week of uninterrupted growth, and may be CONSUMED after three days of existence to stave off Hunger, though this grants not levels. After one day of existence, your swarmlings also gain a number of bonuses related to evasion and tactical teamwork, which is boosted when paired with their other long-living fellows. Subsequent days also grant a variety of other bonuses, but these remain to be seen. Finally, your Swarm maximum has been raised by 10. They are still constructs, true…but in time, they can evolve into something more. (BIO +160%, BIO REGEN +40%)

“FASCINATING.” The Pyreant Queen rumbles, the last several minutes having spent acclimating her mind and body to the arrival of your duplicated Core. “THIS…I MUST THINK ON THIS.”

“Please do, and I’ll spend some time thinking on how to help you with both your threats.” You reply, your own body shifting even now, skin crawling as your hive steadily buzzes with the after-effects of the trade. You focus, calling out to Julia and Amara as they begin making their way back from the depths of the Pyreants’ home as Gina disappears in a whirl of color and ozone, taking the Engine back where it belongs.

“IT SEEMS YOUR KIN PLEASES MINE, NO MATTER THE FORM.” The Queen amusedly intones as Amara emerges from the anthill, covered in dirt and grinning like a madwoman. Julia crawls out behind her, considerably less enthused about the descent into the Fleshscape, and as she dusts herself off Amara stands before the Queen and gives a low curtsy, dust and calcite flakes billowing off her dress when she does so.

“Thank you so, SO much for letting me play with your babies!” She says, beaming up at the Pyreant Matron. “I’d love to play with them again, and if you need some help tending to them, I’ll help! I can make a lot of me, so we can babysit and give your kin some time to rest!”

At this, several of the soldiers glance at each other, and a ripple of good humor floods the empathic channel as the Queen...laughs, in a way.

“THIS IS MOST PLEASING! COME, SIT UPON MY KIN! I WELCOME IT!” She declares, and Amara erupts into a fit of giggles as Gina reappears behind you. You give the Queen a low bow, saying your goodbyes as she surprisingly responds in kind, lowering her massive girth to the ground in a show a respect.

And with that…it’s time to go home.

>>Say your goodbyes to the Barbers, gift them tokens of your friendship and appreciation, and then venture on to Laoc (Write-In Gifts)

>>Take a moment to speak with one of your allies before sending the Barbers on their way (Choose who to converse with).

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, voting shall remain open for the next two hours. I hope your day is going well, one and all.)
>>
(Additionally, you have well over one week before the Sleeping Daughters are set to awaken, according to Gina's estimates. Additionally, the behavioral information you gathered from the Fleshscape indicates that the Digging Amalgam should stay dormant for at least a day before resuming its leisurely pace. It's largely confined to its own area, like most Amalgams of its class. Only the Pyreants' incursions would prompt it to get territorial.)
>>
>>3919386
>Take a moment to speak with one of your allies before sending the Barbers on their way.
>Tell Francine you would like to talk to her a bit, alone, real quick.
>"once alone, sit Francine down and take her hands into yours.
>"Francine... im gonna ask you some... hard questions, and I want you do be honest with me, ok?"
>"...Are you really wanting to confront West Prime to help with the plan... or are you really looking to prove to yourself, that you have become your own entity?"
>Give her time to respond, and you time to further discuss with her, before asking the second question.
>"Now... this one might sting, and i apologize... but from a purely, practical, Crucible standard... what are you? a Construct? a Dream wisp shoved in a body? Its been mentioned that West simply mind wiped other Daughters and implanted a copy of herself, but what does that MEAN here? i only ask, not to lessen your struggle for individuality or hurt it, i mean, is Holly any less herself when bound to a Spiritus? But even with her being her own self mentally, she is still bound to a body under my control. be honest, with me and with yourself here. no matter how mentally separate you are, no matter how much your own person you are or can become... how bound are you to the rules that West used to make you, and thus to her, if you were to give her access?"
>>
>>3919396
oh, ok thats nice to know. does mean the Drill Amalgam kinda needs to be taken down sooner than later, but glad we at least have some time here. thanks for telling us BHOP.

as for the sleeping Daughters, yeah we got time then, or so i hope. we should leave a Amara Clone around to watch it though.

speaking of BHOP, how many Clones does Amara have running about(both those we asked of her and those she without a doubt sent off without us realizing)? or course, avoid spoilers where you wish.

>>3919386
also holy fucking hell that is one kickass Augment. did the Queen just gain our Hive at level one, or did she get an augment version too?
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>>3919389
I missed most of today's update, I thought we weren't doing this until tomorrow? I must have gotten confused. But things went very well in my absence, so I'm happy with it. We know the location of the last two Phalanges, Shu got a ridiculously powerful Augmentation that may make it possible to change the Crucible un a fundamental level, and Amara got to play with some gross squirmy larva monsters. Nice.
>>
>>3919396
>>3919422
wait... as that is a Hive Mistress augment... does that mean it applies to any other Hive Mistress we get, not just Trypophilic? cause damn, that makes it even more utterly kickass.

also, just how out of control was Amara down in there? lemme guess, not one grub went unhugged?
>>
>>3919433
It should apply to our Spiritus Shells, too. And there's little reason not to have the Shells wearing a full set of Plate-Spritelings, so they'll get the coordination bonus for having their armor mature alongside them. Yeah, this is some amazing shit. Ant Queen, you're the greatest. So great that we need to give you a name at some point.
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>>3919433
With that in mind, we should copy that ability over to Francine too. Maybe Gina, but I'm not sure how it would work with Gladiatorial Swarm.
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>>3919440
I doubt Gina would have an instance of Gladiatorial Swarm active long enough for it to apply. No one wants to wear maggot armor for a week. But yeah, Francine could make good use.
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>>3919439
well, thats actually a... a good question. Spiritus naturally gets all our Hive augments anyways, directly on itself... but how does that work on them? i mean, the stat increases and such is obvious, but what about the enhanced teamwork and other things?

does whoever is in a Spiritus basically just slowly have their intellect increased?

>>3919440
We cant copy Augments yet, and honestly i think this one is a 'Crimson Cord' type of treatment.
>>
>>3919433
(Much to the caretakers' chagrin, Amara immediately summoned a massive host of temporary Joyous to let her hug everyone, all at once. The grubs loved it, though...and so did the adopted FuzzBuzz, who also got hugs.)

>>3919422
(Amara currently has thirty-seven Joyous running around at the moment.)

(Additionally, the Queen gained a single level of Trypophilic Hive, without any Augmentations.)

>>3919433
>>3919439
(Yes, it applies to any Hive Mistress ability you possess, so Spiritus is included. Its survivability just got a massive boost, as the stat gains are proportional to the swarmling's baseline HEALTH, BIO, etc. Regarding the 'intellect' boost, that manifests as a small, unique boon to concentration, swarm limits, or whatever relevant abilities come into play with the Daughter's unique powerset.)

>>3919427
(I'm sorry for the miscommunication, but I'm glad you're pleased that things worked out well.)
>>
>>3919386
>>Take a moment to speak with one of your allies before sending the Barbers on their way (Choose who to converse with).
>Francine and Sia, discuss the plan
>No write-in of what to say to her yet, trying to buy time here OOC to come up with a plan. Really hoping for another post of us just going to them and beginning the conversation so another voting period is added. Because both their plans are bad but I don't have anything better.
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>>3919453
>(Additionally, the Queen gained a single level of Trypophilic Hive, without any Augmentations.)
Thinking about it, we just did give them farming capabilities. The Queen spawns the swarmlings every day, and she can consume them three days later every day for sustenance. It's just currently at its first level so it will have a low swarm cap, even if her augment gives it an additional capacity of 10.
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>>3919469
If she can contextualize the bees as not-Hive and as something separate from her children. Given the adoption of the FuzzBuzzes, this may not work. But if it does, yeah, her hunger is done for, too.
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>>3919453
>The grubs loved it, though...and so did the adopted FuzzBuzz, who also got hugs.
thats very cute. and oh? Fuzzbuzz can feel happiness? as much as i love the little guys, didn't think Constructs could actually feel emotions.

>thirty-seven Joyous running around at the moment.
whew, yeah thats alot. alot more than anything we have asked her to do would imply. just what all them Amaras doing, Amara?

>the Queen gained a single level of Trypophilic Hive, without any Augmentations
well a bit less pizzazy but its a good Core and im positive she can make good use of it. hopefully we'll see Fuzzbuzz colors on them soon.

>Spiritus
so... how would that work? would Holly/Johanna have to be in the body for a week, or could the empty shell be sitting around? i only ask as Holly at least made it sound like she didn't always want to be out, and id imagine Johanna too wouldn't want to be, but that would otherwise make it difficult to get the maximum potential out of it for them.

>>3919469
>>3919476
yeah i am unsure she will see them as not-kin. for all we know too she has a plethora of Augments basically making them too much like her Kin anyways for that already.
>>
>>3919468
as i posted in my plan, i want to give Francine her fair time to discuss the points i laid out in my vote first, before we discuss a greater plan with her and Sia.
>>
Okay, so what plan do we present to Sia and Francine? We really need to discuss that. What are we going to do to fool West Prime? Sia's plan puts her in a lot of danger, and doesn't have any great way of fooling Prime about what Francine's been doing up until now, but it would work to distract her. Meanwhile Francine's plan is just awful, completely awful. West Prime's got too much Neuromancy for me to be at all comfortable with what Francine is planning, especially when Prime already has suspicions about her. Trying to convince her that "no, really, I'm hanging out with Shu instead of doing the job you assigned me in order to trick them" does not feel like it will fly. So we need a method that would get Prime not sending out a warning to the rest of the collective/withdrawing one she already sent, anyone got any ideas?

>>3919488
>thats very cute. and oh? Fuzzbuzz can feel happiness? as much as i love the little guys, didn't think Constructs could actually feel emotions.
I think FuzzBuzz is a special situation. Most constructs don't feel emotion because they don't need to, but FuzzBuzz is designed for cuddling and so an emotional response to hugs is beneficial for his purpose.

>>3919491
It sounds like Sia's going to be leaving, though. I'm just trying to get a write-in to stop her before she goes.
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>>3919500
well, i think the whole 'speak with someone before they leave' is implying giving us time to do just that and discuss the plan. besides the fact i do not think Rosie would leave before getting her gift, Sia knows the plan is important and needs to be hashed out before she leaves, and agreed to wait for us to discuss it once back. that should and im sure she would understand, that might include a talk with Francine.
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>>3919500
as for the plan, im withholding that til our discussion with Francine, as that will affect it.

but generally, my idea is... if West is gonna come after Francine... why stop her? we both NEED to get a proxy anyways, and are expecting it. turn her hunting of Francine into an ambush and trap for whatever West comes around.
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>>3919514
That could work. Part of the worry with West catching on to Francine was the Proxies withdrawing away from here and the plan being ruined. But if one comes to us, that would simplify things. The problem I have with that plan, though, is that it doesn't let us control the encounter. We don't know which Proxy would attack, we don't know when they'd attack or where. We could get jumped by Alpha in the middle of Laoc, that would be less than ideal. If we were to do that, we need some way to influence Prime's response. Sia's plan might work for that, maybe. Have two Francines out there, make it so that Prime has to attack both groups, and we'd have an Escher spoke waiting with Sia to teleport to her/teleport her away so that we can control which Proxy is being fought. She can't send Alpha against both of us, so we reconvene the groups on whichever area has the less-dangerous Proxy.
>>
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>>3919453
Waow, that's an UTTERLY kickass augment! I really vote Francine getting a copy for her Primordial School Hive Mistress skill whenever we can spare time and points (and are not disregarding other, more relevant skills - No incentives for the shiny syndrome)

You are aware that, if we distribute this augment to every single Hive Mistress we could reach, the HUNGER problem would be solved/staved?

We could visit Laoc, find somebody we can trust (maybe Magpie, Oozegirl or some daughter we already know and can trust has even taken residence there?), duplicate the augment, and that's one FULL CITY which stands a VERY good chance to not succumb to HUMGER madness, ever.

Still situations like the monastery can happen - HUNGER has a strong component of SANITY checks, so if a daughter is put in a very traumatic situation, she can succumb to it.
But at least, instead of being a guaranteed CITY-wipe in 1 month time, it is a fighting chance.

> Shouldn't we phone MARA for pointers?
She probably has a list of reliable people to which we can copy this skill (Hell, we were in Mara´s phonebook because, so far, we proved her to "not be douchebags", and we know she made her priority to get such a contact list)
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>>3919534
could work yeah. though, wouldn't both teams need a gear for that to work?

oh! we do have a T5 forge now, and it has new tricks too we can check on, though not guaranteed to solve the issue. we'll see how things go. though, now might not be the best time of course to try it, regardless of plan. but putting Francine on house arrest also seems kinda dickish, but i guess it is what it is. maybe the orb could let her go out safely? though then we run the risk of Laoc getting uppity with us....

regardless, i still think the conversation im putting forth is one that will do Francine some good, no matter the plan we go along with.
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>>3919545
Augments cannot at the moment be duplicated nor am i in agreement with tossing something like that out with no regard.

as for Mara, id imagine shes a bit busy, and we only gave her a standard Fuzzbuzz too, so communication would be difficult and she may get the wrong idea, if it even would work.
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>>3919546
>could work yeah. though, wouldn't both teams need a gear for that to work?
I was thinking a communicator and us going over to grab them really fast, but a Gear of their own would make things significantly easier and safer.

>oh! we do have a T5 forge now, and it has new tricks too we can check on, though not guaranteed to solve the issue. we'll see how things go
There's a feature on the T3 Forge, currently locked so we don't know what it does, named Replicate. I'm betting that allows for making copies of found Relics. So yeah, maybe we can make another Gear.

>maybe the orb could let her go out safely? though then we run the risk of Laoc getting uppity with us..
Depends on how small we can dial its projection. If we make it so that only looking at Francine herself gets you seeing the cosmos instead of proper observation, that could work well. Actually, how would West Prime respond to seeing the Void Orrery's projection? Her plan is "no, see, it's fine because I'll just wander space collecting data from other species until I can make the perfect world", but the Void Orrery shows that the majority of worlds have already been consumed by other world-eaters. I'm not sure her plan would work, even if it wasn't evil.
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>>3919562
>If we make it so that only looking at Francine herself gets you seeing the cosmos instead of proper observation, that could work well
hopefully that is the case yeah.

>the Void Orrery shows that the majority of worlds have already been consumed by other world-eaters. I'm not sure her plan would work, even if it wasn't evil.
maybe she knows something we do not, like once a galaxy is emptied out they all migrate to the next? maybe they combine resources so that a massive, singular one has the energy to get to said new galaxy?

or maybe life is just so abundant that despite all the red we saw there is still plenty left to consume. but maybe not, we'll see i suppose.
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>>3919382
>The Engine hums with untold power, and you initiate a trade that will change everything.
Audible "oh shit" moment.
We got an awesome augment out of this though. Combine the augment with Francine's Primordial School and you basically have an infinite ocean of creatures that can solve Hunger. If Francine doesn't want to fight forever and just wants to go back to being a doctor (assumably after we take care of West) this is a good option.

>>3919386
We definitely need to talk to Francine and figure out what the endgame is regarding West before we can progress with any plan.

>>3919389
>>3919552
I thought we could copy any ability/augment at this point but I could definitely be wrong. Can we get word of BHOP on this?

I am concerned with passing around the augment freely, as it seems very strong, especially for Hive Mistresses who took the quality path and only have a few Swarm slots to begin with. If we could find someone or something capable of modifying augments I think that would be ideal.
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>>3919552
>Augments cannot at the moment be duplicated
Buuut....then mechanically speaking, how have we been able to gain the augment? Unless there was an exception I do not understand, we just proved it to be transferable and duplicable by receiving it.

> Nor am i in agreement with tossing something like that out with no regard.
I mean, I get it that there should be some deliberation... But, as the augment is written, it is not something with a lot of potential as a weapon, nor anything. And the HUNGER kills dozens or hundreds daily.
My point is that, at the moment, I am not very aware of negative consequences....excepting that, right now, we and the QUEEN are the only ones with this augment. This means we should spread it around fast, because otherwise we just painted a giant bullseye on our back - people could try to consume US if they know we have this augment, and WEST PROXIES have spectacles that let them see whatever skills their targets have.

Shit, better spread the augment before she manages to sick a desperate mob of daughters onto us, or be really cautious around high-level skintalkers, necromancers, and Relic-crafters.
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>>3919545
I want to create livestock. We know where an Amalgam spawner is. We believe we can customize the creations of the spawner, what if we can copy our abilities to them? Make an Amalgam that's weak and has low aggression, give it reproductive ability, raise them in farms to feed Daughters. Hell, get plant traits off of the Unnatural Predator Phalanx, install those into an Amalgam, make them grow like crops.
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>>3919545
>Waow, that's an UTTERLY kickass augment! I really vote Francine getting a copy for her Primordial School Hive Mistress skill whenever we can spare time and points (and are not disregarding other, more relevant skills - No incentives for the shiny syndrome)
That reminds me that we also need to copy Resilient Spiral over to Gina and Francine.
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>>3919575
>>3919576
>>3919572
(Daughters do not possess the ability to transfer Augments, though it is possible through other means. Amalgams, on the other hand, are not bound by the same rules of ability transference.)
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>>3919575
>>3919576
that is a very good question, but my guess would be that because we did not use Arbiters, combined with the unique situation of the Ant Queen, maybe resulted in an exception?

BHOP has said before the Engine itself cannot directly do it without something else added on/some form of work around, i know that for a fact, so fair point, but its not supposed to be possible.

>>3919453
hey BHOP why were we able to get an Augment, when Engines are not supposed to be able to do that normally?
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>>3919588
>>3919585
oh, sorry, you ninja'd me.

>>3919583
>>3919576
>>3919575
well there we go. we cannot copy it as of now, and id very much argue we do not yet have the Queen at a point to bring others to her to copy it over.
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>>3919588
(See >>3919585)

(I will say that Amalgam-to-Amalgam leveling is unique in that they all essentially work like how you currently do with Arbiter's appetite, able to freely pick and choose which abilities they gain, and they're even capable of trading in levels in one ability for levels in another, allowing them to swiftly optimize without the use of an engine.)

(Obviously, considering how utterly unique this situation is, the Amalgam/Augment workaround you just discovered isn't exactly a thing that can be easily exploited by most Daughters.)
>>
>>3919585
Clever, thanks for clarification

>>3919595
Yeah I agree, I wonder how long she will be considered an Amalgam rather than Daughter now that we have given her a Daughter skill. At a certain point I feel like the Crucible system has gotta go, "ok you've got a lot going on and you're sentient, you're a Daughter now"
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>>3919610
As I recall, Charon said that thanks to her relationship with us, the Pyre Ant Queen is regarded by the Crucible to be an extension of Shu. So she gets all the same administrative protections that Shu does, because trying to mess with her data would count as trying to mess with ours.
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>>3919386
>>Take a moment to speak with one of your allies before sending the Barbers on their way [FRANCINE - DISCUSS SPECIFICS ABOUT WEST NETWORK PLAN; EMPHASIS ON AVOIDING KAMIKAZE SCENARIO]

>>3919410
>>3919468
>>3919500
>>3919534
>WEST-KILLER PLAN: GRAND THEFT PROXY, MURDERHOBO EDITION:
Why don't we DISGUISE our party with SIA´s skill as RANDOM DAUGHTERs, stalk a WEAK West proxy, Kidnap/ HACK it into a MAnchurain/ Kill it to grab its Proxy Network IP ADRESS, make it look like it was a RANDOM, VIOLENT MUGGING done by literal nobodies, and use the PROXY IP address to enact FRANCINE plan?
The rough details were explained in >>3917924, >>3917941 and >>3917956

The essential advantages there would be:
1º) INITIATIVE: We are the ones attacking and controlling the battlefield.
2º) EASIER FIGHT: We can go after a WEAK proxy instead of getting ALPHA or a dedicated kill team tailored to fight us.
3º) HELPS FRANCINE HACKING PLAN: Right now, Francine is on Prime´s spam list and has a lot of Firewalls erected against her. But if we attack the West Network from a proxy IP dress that is reputedly "safe", the HACKING/ MANCHURIAN stands MUCH better chance of success. Hell, Francine could USURP the Proxy´s identity after we kill it, making her plan to deceive West Prime much more likely to work.
4º) MAKES FRANCINE´S SURVIVAL MORE LIKELY: We suspect the attack kills the proxy it is launched from and all the proxies connected to the Network, meaning Francine´s death as it stands now. But if it is launched from a CAPTURED WEST PROXY and Francine is disconnected at that point, she would survive.
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>>3919386
>>Take a moment to speak with one of your allies before sending the Barbers on their way (Choose who to converse with).
>Sia and Francine
>Raise the topic with Francine that we consider her reconnecting to the Collective to be too dangerous, given West Prime's suspicion of her. We understand if she doesn't care about her own self-preservation, that's her right to decide, but it helps no one if she gets her brain fried by Prime before the job is done.
>Then go over to Sia, discuss her idea of impersonating Francine.
>>
>>3919641
Well, that's sort of the plan already. Francine wants to take out Sigma and launch the hack from her brain. But I do like the addition of using Sia's prosopagnosia field to ambush Sigma. Make her unable to recognize who's attacking her, so that even if she sends data back to Prime it won't help her. Yeah, that's smart.
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>>3919552
we gave her a very customized fuzzbuzz that stays fluffy 24/7 and smells of lavender.
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>>3919610
>>3919626
Id imagine still at some point the Ant Queen will become her own thing still.

>>3919641
We'll see what Francine has to say first.
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>>3919650
Thanks. I just want something that screams to WEST PRIME, "Random, stupid crime in the fleshcape! Not related to the Defiant crew at all! No worth sending a kill squad to investigate, it was just a group of scrubs murdering my proxy over 5$ to catch the bus. Happens all the time"
Trying to convey the feel into pic related.

So basically, bullying/ hacking/ murdering low-level proxies for their IP codes, but make it look like we were after their lunch money, and leave the million-dollar safe uncracked to look the part.
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>>3919650
The situation would be even better if SIA could disguise us with the identity of KNOWN PUBLIC ENEMIES. I mean, if we can direct Prime´s retaliation against the worst of the worst of the fleshcape or the likes of the MAD HATTER, that's killing two douches with one single stone, and the resulting furball will only weaken them more, and bleed West Prime from resources and time.
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>>3919605
i guess that explains how Amalgams can so quickly and effectively form a coherent form at times, neat.
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>>3919672
There's a disease related to prosopagnosia, called Capgras Delusion. It makes it so that you're still able to recognize people, but unable to acknowledge their identity. You can still tell that they look and act like themselves, but you interpret that as a very skilled imposter taking their place. If Sia could hit Sigma with that, then Prime would think that rather than us attacking her it's an unrelated group trying to false flag by attacking using our appearance. Which would convince her that Francine wasn't actually seen in the company of the Defiant Fools, but that it was someone else using her appearance to confuse the West collective.
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>>3919582
I LIKE THIS IDEA A LOT! The amalgam factory was a location suggested to us by Charon, and the fact that traits can be transmitted between amalgams means that, once we put the BREEDING AUGMENT into our desired amalgam, we can manufacture it very quickly.

ALSO, if the factory controls the spawning area of created amalgams, we would be able to DISTRIBUTE the amalgams over multiple states of AMERICA, maybe even the world!
Or if not, create a flying, harmless amalgam with migratory instincts, and an instructions manual printed on its skin.

BEHOLD! The MIGRATORY, SELF-DOCUMENTED * , FLYING MIGRATORY CHICKEN! Also know as the IKEA-KFC, MK1.
A man-portable, self-directed, fully-documented solution to worldwide hunger. It even locates angry daughters for practical consumption!

* Languages include ENGLISH+ Whatever number of languages you can fit on chicken´s surface, which is not that large. Don't look at me like that, I couldn't fit the manual in Aafrikans on it!
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>>3919679
Oh god, that's even better! Fully supporting that, if we can pull it off.
>>
(Back home, settled in, and writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3919582
>>3919687
our party really doesn't have the time or resources to devote to a project like that at all though. easiest way to put it is, feeding the Hunger is a stop-gap measure that doesn't matter at all or compared to actually stopping the crucible. i mean, we can try stuff like that after all this is over, as 'worse case' we will need food again anyways.
>>
>>3919679
what if we used that to start infighting amongst the west collective?
>>
>>3919695
Well, the second we manage to find a way to transfer this augment to someone reliable and trustworthy, we instruct them about the amalgam factory and delegate the plan to them.

But yes, I agree that this would be delegated ASAP. On the other hand, we basically have the holy GRAIL on our hands, so it would be our responsibility to ensure it is circulating around. We have no guarantees that we will be able to stop the crucible, so we should leave someone winning cards to solve this problem in case we fail.

I would dump this on one of Mara´s contacts, after a good call with her. If someone knows a way to transfer augments, it is probably her.
>>
>>3919687
anon, I’m afraid to say that you are getting way ahead of yourself.
>>
>>3919701
>>3919679
>>3919688
im weary of trying that type of stuff on the West Collective. there is no way she does not have defenses against things being directly used on them. she clearly values them too much to leave them that vulnerable unless she had other reasons to trust they would be safe.

>>3919703
yeah, nah, im still thinking this plans way too iffy, im not for it. at the very least i feel like you guys are significantly jumping the gun compared to the amount of actual info we have for sure.
>>
>>3919695
Yeah, it's a long-term project, and we have lots of other things to take care of. But if we do wind up going to the Amalgam spawner for other reasons, it's something I'd like to try.
>>
>>3919713
fair, though im not even sure id personally put going there on my secondary quest list myself. even if this potential id still argue its just nowhere near as important as so many other things we have to shuffle through or could be doing.
>>
>>3919650
>>3919672
>>3919679
>>3919701
Oooh, that would be even better! But the problem is that PRIME has access to all proxy memories, so she would be able to detect the trick....unless we WANT West PRIME to spend a lot of time connected to the Proxy memories, trying to sift through inconsistencies. If we get a lot of panicked Wests spending hours a day in memory-syncing calls to try to understand what is going on, FRANCINE´s network infection plan will spread MUCH faster.

Or, even better...Francine puts a Capgras delusion payload into the network attack. When the proxies connect to try to see what is going on, they get infected - turning the entire network into paranoids convinced that somebody has subverted all the other proxies and they are the only original West left.

That's the most evil and clever plan I have ever heard! I approve it wholeheartedly!
>>
>>3919729
im pretty sure thats unnecessary. Francine made it sound pretty instant to destroy the proxies once she got a Proxy to an engine. once we get a Proxy, none of that will really matter anymore.
>>
>>3919695
If you infect the WEST proxies with Capgras delusion, you would functionally turn them into paranoids. INFECTIVE paranoids.

And what do you do when you want to compare your files to see if they are corrupted? You want to compare them with a reference version.
So basically, after a hacking attempt you get a lot of very stressed Wests - which suddenly are convinced that somebody may have hacked successfully into the collective and replaced it with impostors - see their worst fears apparently proven. So the first thing they do is try to reach/probe other Wests, and will be prone to mistakes, which will only transmit the disease to healthy Wests.

Yes, there WILL be precautions, firewalls and quarantines - but you have infected people with what amounts to infective paranoia, and the disease is transmitted by the act of double-checking. Which is a compulsion you would expect from paranoids. And since every infected West thinks she is surrounded by imposters, she won't take as many measures for the preservation and safety of her peers as it should.
So basically, you give a network of selfish sociopaths a reason to think that, from now on, its every proxy for itself. Nice recipe for a bloodbath.
I think that introducing this nice bit of Catch-22 would help to make things more destructive that they would otherwise be....
>>
>>3919733
I wouldn't expect it to be instant - since the memory syncing happens at set intervals like data package transfer, and not in real-time. And I would expect that the process is based in memory-syncing.

Otherwise, you would have a comm channel open in realtime between all proxies, all the time - which is a recipe for a disaster. I would expect prime to be a bit more clever than that, but who knows...
>>
>>3919749
doesn't matter, as i was talking about when Francine initiates things. channel open or not, she made it sound, and i think outright said, it would be instant. so any chance we get to 'infect' the network is wasted compared to just using the opening to delete the proxies.
>>
>>3919756
i feel like we need a back up to the deletion virus. a trojan that activates if the deletion process is stopped. one that severs the proxies from the collective permanently
>>
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>>3919756
> "Any chance we get to 'infect' the network is wasted compared to just using the opening to delete the proxies."

Maybe do BOTH things? In order to attack a system successfully, you need to be sure that the vulnerability is still in. If Prime plugged the "instakill" security breach, ALSO sending a Capgras Delusion payload can be a way to salvage the situation.

It is like nuclear warfare - you don't send a single nuke, you send multiples. Since you will only get a single opening, you try to edge your bets striking from all angles - somethings got to give on Prime´s firewalls, the more angle you attack from, the more chances something will slip through

Nevermind that the "Instakkill" feature could be a honeypot fake feature installed by Prime. What better way to take out rebellious proxies than tricking them into believing such a feature exists?
>>
>>3919768
i think thats just called killing the prime.

but jokes aside, maybe, but Francine would still be the one to actually talk about that to, as we still dont know how she even plans to delete them all anyways.

>>3919769
you are assuming too much.
>>
>>3919773
i just realized a big consequence of the plan. if we somehow kill all the proxies, that’s 24 labs that are full of unethical lab data and dangerous science experiments left out for the world to loot
>>
>>3919782
So we have the imperative to loot and torch a lot of Dr. Mengele-tier research labs!
I see no problem here, Castle Wolfenstein taught us that the remediation process can be a fun and rewarding experience. ;-)
>>
>>3919782
huh, very true. maybe we should have some Amara teams prepared with Raths demo-charges for quick cleanup duty. or maybe Francines has failed to tell us her methods of proxy destruction is more... explosive, than she has let on, or something. doubt it, but still, that does actually bring up the question of what her deletion does here. melt them? detonate them? or just mind wipe them and basically leave a vegetable daughter behind?
>>
>>3919787
Anon. Stop. do you remember the Gamma Relics? They've got West proxies inside them too as well as Daughters who have been turned into relics without consent.

>>3919788
If we're going to strike at the collective and ensure the unethical contents of the labs does not fall into the wrong hands, we will have to strike at all 23-24 labs at the same time. Because inevitably there will be a leak and some of Dr. West's unsculptrous experiments will go mainstream.
>>
>>3919800
probably, though i cant see having the Amara clones staking out the places ahead of time being at all safe is my issue. i agree we need to destroy them and fast, but i dont think we can risk being preemptively ready to charge them so much as be prepared to send out the strike teams. sending word to our allies to help destroy any close by would also do us wonders here once the time comes.

>>3919787
as the other Anon said, there are way too many issues for us to be greedy or take our time here, once we finish off the Proxies.
>>
>>3919800
>Anon. Stop. do you remember the Gamma Relics? They've got West proxies inside them too as well as Daughters who have been turned into relics without consent.
And Cassandra is going to space. Shit. Okay, maybe Gina and Amara can learn a Dual Tech to extract mind crystals?
>>
>>3919807
lets ask Yurei about it. even if she herself doesn't know the process, she might know someone else who can help. id imagine there is at least minor overlap between that stuff, her powers, and her goals.
>>
>>3919800
> "Anon. Stop. do you remember the Gamma Relics? They've got West proxies inside them too as well as Daughters who have been turned into relics without consent."

Aaaw curses. Thanks for the reminder. It is true, if we have to worry about hostages within relics, it will be problematic.
But network-disconnected WEST horrocruxes? Probably with a respawning back box skill? That's another level of nightmare to deal with, with enough redundancy west could have some duplicated proxy survive till the thermal death of the universe....
Unless we had a fully-maxed out Skintalker Core on Amara running "locate_ALL_West_Relics.exe" running panopticon style to find all her relic stashes. That would probably be a reasonably efficient solution.
>>
>>3919808
True, there is some conceptual overlap with Exalted Samsara. Even if we didn't retain that skill, she may know enough theory to show someone how to do it with other Neuromancy skills.
>>
(Posting now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3919386

You arrive back home in a whirl of color, your world righting itself as you're greeted with cheers and well-wishes from your family upon return. Giving everyone a quick recap of your time with the Queen, you note Sia's presence while your in-house physician is nowhere to be seen.

"Hey, where's..." You begin, turning to November as Amara gives everyone a breathless recap and rating of each Pyregrub's 'squeezability'.

"Forge room." The soldier replies, glancing that way. "Want me to bring her out here?"

"Actually, could you tell her I'd like to talk to her in her room?" You clarify, prompting quizzical tilt of November's helm. After a moment she just shrugs, marching off to the Forge as you make your way to the open door to Francine's quarters, a place where you hope to put her at ease before your...

...you blink, eyes roving the space.

You thought your room was bare, but this...there's nothing here, save for a simple cot and a bioluminescent bulb to study by, dangling above the bed and casting odd shadows about the barren space. The books you saw Francine bring with her from the Disassociated's compund are in a neat stack beside her 'bed', but aside from that, it's utterly empty, and it's with a start that you realize the good doctor's spent more time furnishing her workspace in the Forge room than where she hypothetically sleeps.

"You wanted to speak with me?" Comes her voice from behind you, and you turn to see her gently shut the door and note the concern on your face. "Is something the matter?"

You gesture awkwardly to Francine's cot, having imagined there would be a slightly cozier seat on which to discuss matters with her but realizing it's too late to backtrack now. She obliges, a note of tension in her postures as she takes a seat, hands on her knees as you take the space next to her.

"So, Francine. I'm gonna ask you some...well, some hard questions, and I want you to be honest with me, okay?" You begin, adjusting how you sit so you ca face her more directly, taking one of her hands in both of yours. The gesture prompts an arch of her brow, her defenses raising even as she allows the physical contact to continue.

"...Are you really wanting to confront West Prime to help with the plan..." You ask, holding Francine's gaze. "...or are you looking to prove to yourself that you've become your own entity?"

"...Ah." She replies simply, sliding her hand away from yours as she regards you coolly. "Shu, I mean you no disrespect, but we have better things to do than dissect my existence, if you'll pardon the pun. If you're here to dissuade me of my plan, then you can put your fears to rest. I was getting impetuous, as Rath so bluntly pointed out, so rest assured that I'm willing to wait with renewed patience as we work to..."

"Francine." You interrupt gently, pausing her rapid explanation. "I get you wanting to prove you're your own person. It was hard for me when I was dealing with Sa..."

"Why do you care?"

(Continued)
>>
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>>3919830

The other woman's abrupt and harsh question gives you pause this time, the empathic field suddenly flooded with anger.

"Why do you insist on making this entire process several orders of magnitude harder than it has ANY right to be?" She continues, rising to her feet as her gloves squeak, stretched taught over clenched fists. "I have a goal, Shu. A goal that may be the only decent thing I get to do with this ludicrous existence. A goal that involves wiping out, literally, the greatest threat that exists in this world. It was simple. It was clear. So why do you insist on trying to make things better for something that's going to disappear?"

"Francine...I know you're hurting. I *get* it, I rea-"

"No! No, you don't!" She fires back, calm voice shrill with fury as her physical form frays at the edges, fine wires lashing out in every direction. "You know what you are! You know where you came from, and where you're going! You got the chance to get rid of the albatross around your neck, to stuff it in a box and set it loose! I don't have that luxury, Shu! I'm not you!"

You stand and she takes a step back, angrily gesturing to herself as she stays out of arm's reach.

"This? All of this, that you see? This was a girl. She had hopes, dreams, aspirations...and then she met Doctor Francine West, and she was robbed of all of that and more. This isn't my body, Shu. This belonged to a girl who had no say in what a goddamned psychopath did when she snatched her up from hell, scooped out everything that she was, and replaced it with everything that should never be. I'm here because she died at West's hands, and I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen to anyone ever again."

"Francine, please, you're not...you're not a bad person. You're...you're your *own* person, you're-" You plead, only to be cut off by Francine's full-on shout.

"I'M the virus, Shu!" She screams, drowning out your words with her own as they echo in the empty space, hanging in the air for a long moment before silence settles between you both.

"I'm the virus." She repeats quietly, trying to get her breathing under control, face flushed as small gaps open and close along her cheeks, her Core revealing the strings she's composed of. "It's why my Core changed, it's why...the resources that the Disassociated had, I used them to calibrate my own physiology and psychology to attune to another Proxy. To ensure that what's in me spreads to the rest of the network through a forced update via the cloud. Both of us interact with an engine, we attune, and then it's done. No more Proxies. No more resources. Only a dying West...one that you or Mara stand a chance of stopping"

You're quiet as she flexes her trembling hands, still keeping out of arm's reach. You can feel your family through your field, tensely waiting on the other side of the door with Gina and November both holding Rath back from barging in, and Francine's quiet for another long moment as she gathers herself.

(Continued)
>>
>>3919836

"I'm nothing more than a glorified construct walking around in a Daughter's body, Shu. That's not me putting myself down, it's...it's just a fact." Francine softly sighs, folding her arms and wrapping them tightly around herself in an effort to get her shaking under control. "My neurodivergence from Prime is just evidence of a failed experiment. Maybe Prime didn't scoop out all that this girl was, or maybe she just didn't pour enough of herself into the empty mold. There's no telling where West ends and the mistake begins. Alpha came out broken, too. No curiosity, no will, just...nothing. Blank and cruel, like an errant child. I was the opposite. I came out questioning too much, and I was shipped to the Disassociated, where I could be of some use. What I'm trying to do, it's...it's not from me. It's not from West. Maybe it's a glitch, maybe it's the girl who this body belongs to trying to fight back, but...whatever it is, it's not my doing."

You step forward, arm outstretched until she flinches away from you.

"Please, I..." She protests, stopping once you step back. "...You're a nice person, okay? Your family, too. I thought you'd make this easier. I thought it'd go faster, with your help. But it keeps dragging out, and dragging on, and you keep pushing things back, and things keep cropping up, and you...everyone keeps trying to talk to me, be around me, delay me, when I'm just trying to do what's right. The ONLY thing I can do that's right."

You just stand there, uncertain as she folds her hands, steepling them and pressing them to her forehead as she draws in a shuddering breath.

"I don't know who or what I am, Shu. And honestly? Identity isn't a luxury I can afford. I thought I could, but...I can't. Not if it's going to force me to delay the inevitable. Not if it's going to make me keep second-guessing myself every time you..."

Francine shakes her head.

"I'm sorry." She says, simply. "I'm sorry I asked you to get involved. I'm sorry I dragged you and your family into this, I...I'm sorry I've hurt you, with how I've acted. I can go, I can...I can do this on my own. I'll fix this on my own. I involved you, and I...I got greedy. I hoped, I...god, it was all just that goddamned curiosity in the end, wasn't it? ...Fuck."

Silence settles in an empty room, the two of you standing there as you just listen to the sound of your own heartbeat in your ears.

You...you don't know what to say.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, I shall be pausing here for the evening. Voting shall remain open for the next thirteen hours, with posting to resume in roughly fourteen, give or take. I'll be around for a little while longer this evening to address any questions, comments, or criticisms you may have, and I welcome them all. I wish you a restful evening, and take care.)
>>
Shit. This is going to be a hard one. It's one thing to hate West. It's another thing to hate yourself. Francine's suffering from a self-identity crisis.

>"I'm nothing more than a glorified construct walking around in a Daughter's body, Shu. That's not me putting myself down, it's...it's just a fact." Francine softly sighs, folding her arms and wrapping them tightly around herself in an effort to get her shaking under control. "My neurodivergence from Prime is just evidence of a failed experiment. Maybe Prime didn't scoop out all that this girl was, or maybe she just didn't pour enough of herself into the empty mold. There's no telling where West ends and the mistake begins. Alpha came out broken, too. No curiosity, no will, just...nothing. Blank and cruel, like an errant child. I was the opposite. I came out questioning too much, and I was shipped to the Disassociated, where I could be of some use.

That's some deep self-loathing.

>"I don't know who or what I am, Shu. And honestly? Identity isn't a luxury I can afford. I thought I could, but...I can't.

>"I'm the virus." She repeats quietly, trying to get her breathing under control, face flushed as small gaps open and close along her cheeks, her Core revealing the strings she's composed of. "It's why my Core changed, it's why...the resources that the Disassociated had, I used them to calibrate my own physiology and psychology to attune to another Proxy. To ensure that what's in me spreads to the rest of the network through a forced update via the cloud. Both of us interact with an engine, we attune, and then it's done. No more Proxies. No more resources. Only a dying West...one that you or Mara stand a chance of stopping"

Damn.

I think...I think Francine...I think she's committed to this.
fuck. It feels pushing Francine about this subject will only force her down a further path, yet Francine's laid bare the crux of her suicidal issues here and now.
>>
>>3919842
>Sigh, deeply.
>then...
>SLAP HER. HARD.
>while she is distracted, force her into a hug. a tight, deep one, and do not let her go.
>"Francine, you are, by far, the biggest, dumbest fool i have EVER met."
>Squeeze her harder, and chuckle a bit.
>"You can lie all you want Franny... but i understand. Do you know what it was like, to find out about Sam? to find out i was nothing but... but nothing given existence. a mistake born from two idiots breaking eachother."
>Look up at her, and smile.
>"Francine... im nothing too. im just an empty shell, a parasite built on another girls memories and who stole her body. im some thing who shoudnt of existed, who had not real right to exist, who was a mistake."
>"...that was, until I, MYSELF, decided... Fuck. That."
>Shrug, and rub her back a bit.
>"One day, i saw all that shit, all that was forced upon me, all that was built upon and... i saw i existed. that i was making choices, on my own. and i decided, that that was enough."
>"Francine... it doesn't matter where you came from. it doesn't matter what you are. what matters, is that you ARE. you are HERE. you exist, you're something, something that is sentient, that thinks, that worries, and hurts, and loves.... and thats enough."
>"Im sorry you feel this way. im sorry it hurts to know what you are and where you came from... but dying doesn't fix that. suicide wont cleanse you of what was done Francine. it wont undo what West has done, it wont bring that girl back. even if you succeed, even if you kill them all and yourself... it wont fix or save the world. not alone."
>give her a smile, and loosen your grip, but dont let the hug go.
(1/2)
>>
>>3919860
>>3919842
>"What will you dying, if it can be avoided, accomplish Francine? what REALLY? you already are not West, you already fight tooth an nail against her ways and to fix her mistakes. kill yourself wont be getting rid of another west, it will be getting rid of you, Francine, someone who feels guilt, who feels a need to make the world a better place, who helps others without them asking."
>"all you'll do Francine, is make sure in Wests death, she will have brought down one more good soul along with her. Dont let her have that, not another one, and that Includes you."
>"Live. Live to prove her WRONG, to FIX things. live to make sure that poor girls and all the others were not for nothing. use what you know to beat her, to take her image and do something GOOD with it for once. let that be your victory. living on, to tear down everything she stood for and build something decent from its ashes. if that girl, even a spark of her is still inside you... let it burn. let it thrive by making you different. let it inspire you, to make sure it lives, to make sure West cannot claim victory over it."
>Sigh, and lean your head wearily against her.
>"We dont need martyrs Francine... we need friends. family. allies. and you do too."
>Chuckle, and look up to her.
>"Besides, who else is suited to clean up Wests mess after she and her proxies are gone? Rath? do you REALLY want me putting Rath in charge of that? maybe throw Amara on that job too, hm?"

(2/2)

no Francine, you ARE the people person thing, whether you like it or not.
>>
>>3919842
>>Write-In
HUG her, and don't let go. Maybe this is the wrong thing to do, but it feels right.

> "Francine...Most of us are glitches. I am a glitch produced by a dying brain at the time of transference, and EVERY single daughter in the fleshcape can be argued to be glitchy, neurodivergent upload from her original self. Do you think that copying more than 10^14 synaptic connexions can be a perfect process, even before you start factoring the corruption mechanics in?
We are an imperfect copy running around here, while OTHER imperfect one slumbers in the chord. You, me, ALL of us. There was no true "ME" I could live with until I decided to become at peace with this fact. Yes, casting away Sam helped, but it was deciding my identity who freed me and gave me the strength to fight for everyone I care"

> "But we are people. OUR OWN people. Unique, with our aspirations, hopes, dreams, regrets and fears that do not let us sleep at night. And this? You are a decent person, and you DO NOT deserve this. You do not deserve to seek death as a way of atonement. And if there is a facet of your personality that tries to condemn you to a death you DO NOT deserve, we will talk, heal or seek this damned dream daughter remnant and negotiate the hell out of it until you get better again."

> "Because the best way to find a reason to live? It is to have a FAMILY. And we have adopted you, all of us, and we are not going to let you go. Because not letting you go, not letting ANYONE go is what gives us the will to live each morning"

> "So please, give yourself a chance. Give us a chance to change your mind. Do NOT do what "Must" be done, do what YOU wish to do. Give us a chance to become what you need, what you want, what makes you push past this depression and guilt and make you live again. Because you deserve it, and we want to help you."

> "And why do I care? Because the reason i exist, that ANYONE exists, is that somebody cared for them. And caring for each other is what makes the world go round. You saved November, you fought for us, and now we fight for you. As it has ever been, and as it always should be"

HUG her again and let her cry at her hearth´s content.
>>
>>3919845
Damn BHOP. That was masterful. I had a soft spot for Francine since second one, and that has gone far above and beyond my expectations.

Let´s hope we can deliver an epic pep talk fitting the situation, and persuade Francine to live.
>>
>>3919842
Okay, that's a pretty strange sense of her mental gestalt. "I am experiencing this thing, but it is not me, it is an alien thing that just happens to be irrevocably bound up inside me to the point where we're inseparable, but shut up, no, that doesn't mean it's part of me. That's stupid." Oh, Francine.
>>
>>3919860
>SLAP HER. HARD.
Maybe avoid that part? The legendary "histeria suppressing slap" seems to be that, a legend, and her suicidal side sort of WANTS that rather than face understanding. A harsh verbal retort would have the same effect, but far less chance of backfiring.

Otherwise, quite good, I must say. Those two parts stand out:
> "Francine... im nothing too. im just an empty shell, a parasite built on another girls memories and who stole her body."...that was, until I, MYSELF, decided... Fuck. That."
> "suicide wont cleanse you of what was done Francine. it wont undo what West has done, it wont bring that girl back. even if you succeed, even if you kill them all and yourself... it wont fix or save the world. not alone."
>>
>>3919871
we truly got the dumbest of the Proxies on our side... and its a sad but wondrous thing.

>>3919845
thanks for running, and have a wonderful evening yourself BHOP!

for the Amara clones, what is the furthest reaching Shu and Co IC knows they reach?
>>
>>3919872
eh, the point of the slap is more to just, quite literally, get through to her. pain has its uses, even on the ones you care about. she can want whatever she wants but a bit of a red cheek and small adrenaline spike still helps the human body snap itself about. that, and its also to show Shus own anger and frustrations at her, a literal 'fuck you for thinking that' before we console her.
>>
>>3919873
(The furthest West they go is Laoc, while the furthest east they've gone is close to the first West Proxy you ever encountered, not far from where your journey began.)

>>3919868
(Thank you for your kind words, Anon. I'm glad you liked it, truly.)

>>3919871
>>"There's good in you, Francine."
>>"Nah, can't be. Must be mind ghosts."
>>"...Why are you like this?"
>>
>>3919878
hrm, well doesn't help the visual, but i know eastward at least thats gotta be a pretty decent distance by now. id assume shes in that direction due to the Foreign/Released Daughters she may be tracking?

>that writing snippet
hah, good show.
>>
>>3919880
(You are correct regarding the Daughters she's tracking.)
>>
>>3919871
She is an adult, yet an emotional newborn, that has the memories of a sociopath that lionizes dispassionate "rationality" over emotional management.

So when the transfer puts her into a hardware able of empathy and higher emotional intelligence..she doesn't have the resources to face it, and tries to compartmentalize the "emotional" driver for her decisions, because she is supposed to be that highly ideologies west, a proxy, a resource in the obtention of Utopia, instead of a person...

And the worse thing is, maybe more of west proxies are also decent people. damn. West prime, you are an unloving sickbay of a parent. You damn Cronos, eating your own children.
>>
>>3919882
right, gotcha, thanks.

whew, i really need to make a proper list for all this nonsense we have going on... life of the Defiant is a busy one, i guess.
>>
>>3919842
>"What's your name? What. is. your. name?"
>try and prompt Francine into answering the question. Repeat if necessary until Francine says her name: "Francine"
>"Stop, right there. You said it yourself. Your name. The name you gave yourself. Francine. You are not Dr. West. You are not some construct in a daughter's body. You are not Dr. West Beta. You are not a virus of the West Collective. You are Francine."

>"You don't need to worry about the luxury of identity, because you've already forged one for yourself."
>"You've made good friends among the disassociated, you've saved the lives of many daughters: November, Celia, and many others. Already you've become your own person. You alone made the leap to disconnect yourself from the West collective and become your own person."

>"You, are Francine."

>"And you're part of our family. Our lovely little family of misfits and divergences."

>"Martyrdom won't solve everything that West has done. It will stop her, yeah. But what about the two dozen labs that the various proxies have set up? what of the daughters that were forcibly turned into relics? What of the dangerous experiments that are left alone for the innocent world to get their hands on? What of the relics where the proxies have inserted their own images inside like how Gamma inserted pieces of her own mind inside the Spine and the Nail? What if the other proxies are in the same boat as you?"

>>3919878
I think I found a really good theme for Francine.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJMyargwiYU

The translated lyrics are in comments section of the video page. Also, it's such a wonderful song to hear when you think about self reflection and the self-identity because the japanese lines sound like declaration of growing affirmation of self-confidence. The actual translated lyrics however are another story.
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>>3919887
It would help her so much to just stop thinking of herself as Francine West, I think. Embrace the fact that she's a glitch. I mean, she just said that the impulse to question West's actions and make things right did not come from West. And as much as she may say that she shares West's overwhelming curiosity, it's clear that this is the thing that's really most defining to her. So if the thing that defines Francine doesn't come from West, that means she's not West. She's someone else. Maybe not the Daughter that was murdered to make her, but her own person. We could help a lot if we convinced her to see herself not as "West but with morality stapled on" but "a Daughter forced to carry West's sins". I almost think that we should rename her. She already took a step towards that by insisting on being Francine instead of Dr. West, as personal names are considered more intimate and humanizing instead of the detachment of a title and last name. Let's take it further. No longer call her Francine but some other name, clearly indicate that she's not a renegade copy of Dr. Francine Randolph West but her own being. Get her a new look, too. Julia, you go make our girl here a new outfit while we cut and dye her hair. How do you feel about bangs, not-Francine?
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>>3919907
Ask her to choose a family name for herself. No more Francine. No more Francine West.
No, you are more than that. Do you remember Carl Sagan?

>("Ham it up, imitate darth Sidious")

So rise up, Francine, Rise up Darth SAGAN! A powerful Sith you shall become!

Francine Sagan. That has a ring to it, and is a nice perversion of the way WEST PRIME defaced the words of Carl Sagan to sell her replicating übermensch manifesto.
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>>3919907
eh... im unsure about that. its one thing to snap her out of her delusions of not being a person, its another to literally toss everything in the trash while she is having an existential crisis and ask her to suddenly start from scratch.

it also ignores the fact she without a doubt still has SOME West in her in a way we never had Sam, and her necessary step to use that to defeat the network. its a bit less possible to fully disconnect her from things here, or in the same way as Sia or Shu can be.
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>>3919907
>>3919913
>>3919914
also, her stealing the name Francine and making it something of her own i personally think has some pretty good and heavy symbolic meaning behind it.
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>>3919913
I admit, I like that idea a lot. "No, screw you, Prime, you never understood Sagan and your attempt to usurp his words is deeply disturbing, I'm going to properly pay homage to that man."

>>3919914
Yeah, okay, the new appearance is probably too much. But I do think the name could help her. If she wants to acknowledge she shares some bits with West Prime, she could do the last name idea.
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>>3919902
(I love the feel of this song, thank you so much for sharing. It's going under Francine's section of the playlist, as of right now.)
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>>3919916
yep. I just feel that taking a new family name would help the theme " I shall claim back or invent, but I
will build myself as a separate person from West"

A good balance between inheritance and self-determination. She is Francine, she acknowledges that she comes from West, but is not her. Now Crystalize her will to live with a new family name.
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>>3919907
It'll have to be a name that She chose for herself though. It's the reason why I wrote in my response to have her realize that she's her own person by having her state her name.

I think the facial makeover and haircut idea is a great idea, but that's if we somehow manage to calm her down. and have her realize by yourself that she's her own person.

>>3919897
>>3919887
>>3919907
I think we need to refine our messages. It's clear that we're all aiming to help Francine realize that she's her own person because the crux of her suicidal motivation stems from the stigma of sharing part of Dr. West's name and Dr. West's actual face. but the details is where it gets muddied.

From what I've read in your write-ins, it feels like we're preaching the choir to her about this which Francine's already shown that she reacts badly to preaching, the content we're delivering is spot on, but the method could use some adjustment.

>>3919860 is going for the Slap and bear hug and pouring out Shu's shared personal experiences with having an identity crisis

>>3919862 is going for the bear hug and acknowledging the objectivity and trying to motivate Francine to look past the goal and see the forest instead of the singular tree.

>>3919902 is going for coaxing Francine into answering her own question of who/what she is and re-affirming the identity Francine's made for herself.
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>>3919923
that could work i suppose, maybe.

>>3919926
>>3919872
i mean ill get rid of the slap if it'll help people compromise, but i otherwise think she NEEDs the bite and preaching in mine a bit. trying to go about it with less words didnt really help either, so i dont think volume is the issue here.
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>>3919926
> "From what I've read in your write-ins, it feels like we're preaching the choir to her"
You are right, thanks for the summary. Now, all of those themes, presented in that order, actually make for a nice pep-talk:
1) You are not alone sister. I also feel your pain (>>3919860).
2) But look past your current viewpoint. This are the resources and objective reasons that we use to get past those kid of depressive thoughts, and you could use that too (>>3919862).
3) So craft your will to live and a new Identity to go forward (>>3919902). What is your family name? (>>3919913, >>3919916, >>3919921)
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>>3919929
Sure, a verbal bite to get past her defenses is cool. Just put a sudden, icy,angry tone, like "STOP. THAT. RIGHT. NOW" or "DON´T. DELUDE. YOURSELF". The shock and change of tone would get past her defences, and we are back to caring SHU again.
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>>3919929
>>3919934
I'm not saying I'm not in favor of the slap. I think the slap might work, but I think it will help if we did the slap and then asked Francine the question of "what's her name?" bit. That'll help the verbal bite in having her realize the identity she's made for herself, before we go with the preaching.

Making Francine answer her own question is tends to make people realize their stupidity or the delusion that they were under.
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>>3919938
>>3919940
hrm, well gimme a second and ill try and mix things together, though i do think there is some overlap of 'same thing different words' going on at some parts.
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>>3919938
I'm thinking almost an exacerbated tone, myself. "Jesus wept, Francine, you're supposed to be the smart one. How are you deluding yourself this badly?"
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>>3919922
I've always wondered. Does the fleshscape play personal theme songs for each living daughter? Has a skintalker ever discovered that the Fleshscape at large has a playlist selection of tracks specifically tailored for them and had them play aloud?

>>3919943
yeah. verbal overlap common, but it'll boil down to the diction and what specific words that we'll convey to get the tone of the message through.
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>>3919940
>>3919871
>>3919878
>>3919944
VOTE for verbal slap:
>"Jesus wept, Francine, you're supposed to be the smart one. How are you deluding yourself this badly?" (>>3919944)
> "What. Is your. Name?" (>>3919940)
SOLD!
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>>3919947
(I like to think it does, if only because I have a massive playlist that includes practically every character.)
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>>3919922
Now that I listen to it, I can already imagine the 2 dozen West Proxies singing that song as a group choir with Francine as lead singer.

>>3919954
It's a shame no one but the skintalkers can hear them. It would be creepy, so-anime-it-hurts, and video-gamey as fuck if it became common knowledge.
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>>3919842
>>3919860
>>3919861
>>3919862
>>3919902
>>3919944
Best i could do;

>Sigh, deeply.
>then...
>SLAP HER. HARD.
>while she is distracted, force her into a hug. a tight, deep one, and do not let her go.
>"Jesus wept, you're supposed to be the smart one. How are you deluding yourself this badly?"
>"you are, by far, the biggest, dumbest fool i have EVER met."
>Squeeze her harder, and chuckle a bit.
>"What's your name? What. is. your. Name?"
>Coax her, Force her to answer it. To say Francine, to say her name.
>"Stop, right there. You said it yourself. Your name. The name you gave yourself. Francine. You are not Dr. West. You are not some construct in a daughter's body. You are not Dr. West Beta. You are not a virus of the West Collective. You are Francine."
>"You can lie all you want Francine... but i understand. Do you know what it was like, to find out about Sam? to find out i was nothing but... but nothing given existence. a mistake born from two idiots breaking eachother."
>Look up at her, and smile.
>"Francine... im nothing too. im just an empty shell, a parasite built on another girls memories and who stole her body. im some thing who shoudnt of existed, who had not real right to exist, who was a mistake."
>"...that was, until I, MYSELF, decided... Fuck. That."
>Shrug, and rub her back a bit.
>"One day, i saw all that shit, all that was forced upon me, all that was built upon and... i saw i existed. that i was making choices, on my own. and i decided, that that was enough."
> "Most of us are glitches. I am a glitch produced by a dying brain at the time of transference, and EVERY single daughter in the fleshscape can be argued to be chosen because they were not right, because they had something the crucible could twist and use.”
>"Francine... it doesn't matter where you came from. it doesn't matter what you are. what matters, is that you ARE. you are HERE. you exist, you're something, something that is sentient, that thinks, that worries, and hurts, and loves.... and thats enough."
>"You don't need to worry about the luxury of identity, because you've already forged one for yourself."

(1/2)
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>>3919965
>>3919842
>"Im sorry you feel this way. im sorry it hurts to know what you are and where you came from... but dying doesn't fix that. suicide wont cleanse you of what was done Francine. it wont undo what West has done, it wont bring that girl back. even if you succeed, even if you kill them all and yourself... it wont fix or save the world. not alone."
>give her a smile, and loosen your grip, but dont let the hug go.
>"What will you dying, if it can be avoided, accomplish Francine? what REALLY? you already are not West, you already fight tooth an nail against her ways and to fix her mistakes. kill yourself wont be getting rid of another west, it will be getting rid of you, Francine, someone who feels guilt, who feels a need to make the world a better place, who helps others without them asking."
>"all you'll do Francine, is make sure in Wests death, she will have brought down one more good soul along with her. Dont let her have that, not another one, and that Includes you."
>"Live. Live to prove her WRONG, to FIX things. live to make sure that poor girls and all the others were not for nothing. use what you know to beat her, to take her image and do something GOOD with it for once. let that be your victory. living on, to tear down everything she stood for and build something decent from its ashes. if that girl, even a spark of her is still inside you... let it burn. let it thrive by making you different. let it inspire you, to make sure it lives, to make sure West cannot claim victory over it."
>Sigh, and lean your head wearily against her.
>"We dont need martyrs Francine... we need friends. family. allies. and you do too."
>Chuckle, and look up to her.
>"Besides, who else is suited to clean up Wests mess after she and her proxies are gone? Rath? do you REALLY want me putting Rath in charge of that? maybe throw Amara on that job too, hm?"

(2/2)
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>>3919965
>>3919966
Mind if I edit this? There are parts that I like (a large majority) and there are parts that could use some tweaking. Good mix of the three messages that we're trying to convey to Francine.
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>>3920018
you can give it a go sure. thought i got it to flow pretty well but we'll see what you think i suppose.
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>>3920018
I think it might be worth it to play on that "it was just the curiosity, wasn't it?" line she said in her little bit of despair. Feels like something to poke at, that her curiosity was for what it's like to be among a peer group who values her and sees her as a person instead of as a machine, something that both West Prime and the Disassociated did in different ways. Except Cassandra, of course. I wonder how Cassandra managed to avoid the loss of emotional intelligence that the rest of the Disassociated Ones got? Just good luck, or some quirk of her skills? Whatever, I'm getting off topic. Point is, pointing out that she clearly wanted to hang out with us for sane and healthy emotional reasons instead of just the overwhelming curiosity would be an effective move.
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>>3920062
You got anything that could help with that? I'm pulling blanks aside from affirming to Francine that she's part of our family.
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>>3920081
Yeah, it doesn't really work as part of a pre-written speech, needs a flow chart or something. It would start by asking her what she was so curious about, then when she responds we could pull apart her logic and make her confront that she wants to feel like an actual human being.
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>>3920085
It could still work. but it's really hard to finangle that into the pre-written speech, which I slowly realize it feels very hamfisted, but I'll try.

>>3920029
Here's what I've got.

Here's my edited version.
>>3920029
>Sigh, deeply.
>then...
>SLAP HER. HARD.
>while she is distracted, force her into a hug. a tight, deep one, and do not let her go.
>"Jesus wept, you're supposed to be the smart one. How are you deluding yourself this badly?"
>"you are, by far, the biggest, dumbest fool i have EVER met."
>pull back, but your arms on her at arms. spawn another pair of arms to put them on Francine's shoulders. Look at Francine directly in her eyes.
>"What's your name? What. is. your. Name?"
>Coax her, Force her to answer it. To say Francine, to say her name.
>"Stop, right there. You said it yourself. Your name. The name you gave yourself. Francine. You are not Dr. West. You are not some construct in a daughter's body. You are not Dr. West Beta. You are not a virus of the West Collective. You are Francine."
>"You can lie all you want Francine... but i understand. Do you know what it was like, to find out about Sam? to find out I was nothing?
>look down lost in thought, the memories
>"... I am a nothing given existence. a mistake born from two idiots breaking each other."
>"Francine... I'm just an empty shell, a parasite built on another girls memories who stole her body during transference. I'm some ‘thing’ who shouldn't have existed, who had not real right to exist, who was a mistake. "
>Look up back up at Francine.
>"But then I, Shu, decided...Fuck. That. Noise."
>"I saw all of that baggage that was forced upon me, everything that was built upon and... I saw I existed. I saw that I was making choices on my own. I decided enough was enough."
>Pull Francine into a tight hug, rub her back.
>"Francine...Most of us are glitches. I am a glitch produced by a dying brain at the time of transference, and EVERY single daughter in the fleshscape can be argued to be chosen because they were not right, because they had something the crucible could twist and use.”
>"Francine... it doesn't matter where you came from. it doesn't matter what you are. what matters, is that you ARE. you are HERE. you exist, you're something, something that is sentient, that thinks, that worries, and hurts, and loves.... and that's enough."
>give her a smile, and loosen your grip, but don't let the hug go.
>"You don't need to worry about the luxury of identity, because you've already forged one for yourself."
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>>3920112
>"I'm sorry you feel this way. I'm sorry it hurts to know what you are and where you came from... but dying doesn't fix that. Suicide won't cleanse of what was done Francine. It won't undo what West has done, it won’t bring that girl back. Even if you succeed, even if you kill them all and yourself... it won’t fix or save the world. not alone."
>"What will you dying, if it can't be avoided, accomplish Francine? You already are not West, you already fight tooth and nail against her ways and to fix her mistakes. Killing yourself won't be getting rid of another West, it will be getting rid of you, Francine, someone who feels guilt, who feels a need to make the world a better place, who helps others who were in pain like Heather and Celia."
>"All you'll do Francine is ensure that in Wests death, she will have brought down one more good soul along with her. Don't let her have that, not another one, and that includes you."
>"Live. Live to prove her WRONG, to FIX things. Live to make sure the girls who fell victim to West and all the others were not in vain. Use what you know to beat her, to take her image and do something GOOD with it for once. Let that be your victory, your legacy. Living on, to tear down everything she stood for and build something decent from its ashes. If that girl, if even a spark of her is still inside you alive... let it burn. Let it thrive by making you different. Let it inspire you, to make sure it lives, to make sure West cannot claim victory over it."
>Sigh, and lean your head wearily against her.
>"We don't need martyrs Francine... we need allies. friends. family. and you do too.”
>"You're part of our family."
>After the speech, just hang there in silence keeping Francine in a hug. Let Francine vent whatever pent up emotions she may have until she's done.
>“Francine…What was it you were curious about?”
>Let Francine answer. If she answers ‘Oh it’s nothing, darling. Just wondering what being in a…is like.”
>”Were you wondering what it’s like to be in a family?"
> “Tell you what. We find a way to dismantle the West Collective, and while we’re at it, you get to satisfy that curiosity of experiencing the family life.”
>Chuckle, and look at her.
>"Besides, who else is suited to clean up West's 2 dozen labs full of dangerous science after she and her proxies are gone? Rath? do you REALLY want me putting Rath in charge of that? Or God forbid Amara?"

>>3920085
>>3920029
there. part (2/2)
I'm very certain the back half of this needs work since I practically shoved that portion in.
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>>3919842
Supporting
>>3919965 and>>3919966
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>>3920114
>>3920112
for got to link to >>3919842
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>>3920112
>>3920114
good try, but no, im not for it. some of your changes change the point and feeling I personally wanted to get across from a few of the lines pretty decently in my opinion.
sorry for the late reply though, i just sorta... had to get to sleep.
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>>3920219
Huh
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>>3920337
>huh
Huh? what? am i missing something? has my abysmal eyesight finally fucking cracked or has my utterly terrible sleep schedule finally broken my mind. ah dangit lads i think this might finally be it...
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>>3920114
>I'm very certain the back half of this needs work since I practically shoved that portion in.
I'm not sure where to put it, probably closer to the beginning, but maybe something like this?

>"I don't think 'curiosity' is the right word, Francine. Not if you're thinking of the sort that West has and you're scared you inherited. Because there's nothing here that West would care about. Sociopaths aren't particularly interested in social interaction. So why are you here?"
>"You can want to experience something without it being proof that you're like her. Especially when it's something that West would disregard as meaningless. If this is so powerful, so distracting from your sense of purpose, can you really say it comes from her? This is something you developed on your own, Francine. Don't go dismissing it just because you're scared."
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>>3920363
I kinda like this.
Linking this to >>3919842 as an add-in.
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>>3919433
>>3919439
I just realized. The Hive Core that we gave to the Ant Queen pretty much means she gets access to the swarmling classes. But will it be Ant themed or will she crib on our bee theme? And I think Ant Queen is going to be very scary if we are forced to come to blows with her.

>>3919453
Ant Queen reminds me of Zagara from SC2 but more naive and open to new ideas.
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>>3920471
i think the bee/wasp theme is part of the actual ability, aswell as the classes like 'Knight' and such, but the level 10+ stuff is based off your secondary abilities, so hers would all be different once she reaches it.
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>>3919453
>>3920480

>giving a sentient Ant Queen Amalgam the ability to evolve and grow beyond just a standard template with the gift of the Trypophilic Hive Core.

I'm scared yet excited. On one hand, it's scary as fuck since the Ant Queen's own core allows her to infuse the new type of swarmlings with actual Class templates and those will have the ability to Rage and deal lots of fire damage including the bit where the Ant Queen has the personal capacity to grow, learn, and evolve due to the high concentration of daughters in her diet. If she gets out of control, then she will be a handful to deal with. On the other hand it's very exciting to see Crucible Flora evolve to the next step after passing the basic self-sentience and self-awareness.

Mara and Magpie will no doubt flip their shit the moment they learn of this and will have a mighty impulse to just go full deathwing and put the ant hive to the torch.
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>>3919842

No.

No, you know exactly what to do.

There’s a sound like a trapdoor snapping shut when you hand smacks across Francine’s face and she stumbles back, eyes wide in utter shock before an angry scowl manifests in her expression.

“Wh…what the HELL do you think you’re d-“

When you throw your arms around her, she flinches, expecting some form of follow-up only to be stunned again by the hug you’ve wrapped her in, one so tight that her arms are pinned to her side.

"Jesus wept, you're supposed to be the smart one. How are you deluding yourself this badly?" You sigh into her neck. “You are, by far, the biggest, dumbest fool I have EVER met."

“E-excuse me?” She stammers, fighting in vain to free herself. “How DARE you imply I’m-“

"What's your name?”

“…W-what?” She counters confusedly.

“What. Is. Your. Name?" You ask again, squeezes punctuating every word.

“…Francine.” She finally answers after a brief pause, her struggling against your embrace having subsided in the face of the sheer warmth you’re flooding the empathic channel with. “My name is Francine, an-“

"Stop, right there. You said it yourself. Your name. The name you gave yourself. Francine.” You say, loosening your hold enough for you to face Francine, mere inches separating your faces as you hold her gaze with intent. “You are NOT Dr. West. You are NOT some construct in a Daughter's body. You are NOT West Beta. You are NOT a virus of the West Collective. You are Francine.”

She swallows hard, averting her eyes from yours as you continue to speak.

“You can lie all you want Francine... but I *do* understand. Do you know what it was like, to find out about Sam? To find out I was nothing...’nothing’, given existence. A mistake born from two idiots breaking each other.” At the last part of that, you chuckle, tilting your head to let you look in the doctor’s eyes once more. "Francine... I’m nothing, too. I’m just an empty shell, a parasite built on another girl’s memories and who stole her body. I’m someone who shouldn’t have existed, who had no real right to exist, who was a mistake...that was, until I, MYSELF, decided...Fuck. That."

You shrug, noting that while Francine’s not fully engaging with your hug she’s at least stopped fighting you tooth and nail.

"One day, I saw all that shit, all that was forced upon me, all that was built upon and...I saw I existed. That I was making choices on my own, and I decided that was enough. Most of us are glitches. I’m a glitch produced by a dying brain at the time of transference, and EVERY single Daughter in the fleshscape can be argued to be chosen because they were not right, because they had something the crucible could twist and use.”

“I…I still came from something awful.” Francine says softly. “West made me. She hollowed out someone and put part of herself-“

(Continued)
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>>3920485

"Francine... it doesn't matter where you came from.” You interrupt gently. “It doesn't matter what you are. What matters, is that you ARE. You are HERE. You exist, you're something, something that is sentient, that thinks, that worries, and hurts, and loves...and that’s enough. You don't need to worry about the luxury of identity; you've already forged one for yourself."

“Maybe…maybe, but as long as there’s part of West that’s alive, then…”

"What will dying accomplish, Francine? Really?” You snap in forcefully. “You already know you’re not West, you already fight tooth and nail against her ways and to fix her mistakes. Killing yourself won’t be getting rid of another West, it will be getting rid of you, Francine, someone who feels guilt, who feels a need to make the world a better place, who helps others without them asking. All you'll do is make sure in West’s death, she’ll have brought down one more good soul along with her. Dont let her have that, not another one, and that includes you."

“I’m not…I’m not good, Shu.” Francine murmurs, and all of a sudden you’re supporting her weight as you slowly let her to the ground. You kneel next to her on the calcite floor as she just stares at her open hands. “I…I’ve done things. Seen things, that West has done and done through me. I keep…keep fighting, every day, against my curiosity, her hunger for…”

"I don't think 'curiosity' is the right word, Francine.” You offer, placing your hands in hers. “Not if you're thinking of it in terms of what West has, and you’re afraid you inherited. Because, honestly? There's nothing here that West would care about. Sociopaths aren't particularly interested in social interaction. So why are you here?"

She swallows again, eyes darting between your hands as she realizes she doesn’t have an answer, until you supply one. "You can want to experience something without it being proof that you're like her, especially when it's something that West would disregard as meaningless. If this is so powerful, so distracting from your sense of purpose, can you really say it comes from her? This is something you developed on your own, Francine. Don't go dismissing it just because you're scared."

"So live.” You continue in the face of her silence, gently tugging at her gloves fingers as you ease the covers off her hands. “Live to prove her WRONG, to FIX things. Live to make sure that poor girls and all the others were not for nothing. Use what you know to beat her, to take her image and do something GOOD with it for once. Let that be your victory. Living on, to tear down everything she stood for and build something decent from its ashes.”

Sliding the gloves from her hands, you place them next to your knees as you cradle her hands in yours. Her eyes widen slightly at your touch, her last subtle barrier to your kindness gently discarded in an act of acceptance.

(Continued)
>>
>>3920487

"We dont need martyrs, Francine... we need friends.” You stress, seeing Francine screw her eyes tight, blinking back the tears that threaten to escape. “Family. Allies…and you do, too."

You look up at her, a light chuckle on your lips as something occurs to you. "Besides, who else is suited to clean up West’s mess after she and her Proxies are gone? Rath? Do you REALLY want me putting Rath in charge of that? Maybe throw Amara on that job too, hm?"

Francine makes a face, a sharp clip of laughter escaping her at your catastrophic suggestion.

“That…would be a travesty, for sure.” She says, her voice on the verge of breaking as she tries to lean in to your joke. “I, ah…I’m sorry, for all th-“

“Francine? It’s okay. I forgive you. For anything you’ve done, for anything you’ve had a hand in, you’re forgiven. Just keep moving forward, alright?”

She nods, quickly wiping her eyes clear with the back of her hand before she suddenly chuckles to herself.

“It’s absurd, really. Two mistakes, ‘ex nihilo’.” She muses, eyes finding yours. “…You didn’t have to help me. You didn’t have to trust me, but you did.”

“You didn’t have to ask for help. You didn’t have to try and make things right. But you did.” You counter with a shrug, turning the focus back on her. “You made that decision, and no one else.”

You rise, and when you reach down to offer your hand Francine takes it, helping her back to her feet as she clears her throat awkwardly.

“I understand Laoc is on the agenda, yes?” She says, hesitating in the act of putting her gloves back on before deliberately sliding them into her coat pocket, leaving her hands uncovered. “I’d like a moment to myself, but…if venturing out with everyone is still on the table, then I wish to accompany you. If everyone would...if you think they'd...”

“You know what?” You ask with a smile.

“I know they’d love to have you come.”

There it is…where there was once a flicker, now it comes in a wave; gratitude, from one so unused to the warmth of another’s care.

>>Allow Francine some time to collect herself while you speak with Sia alone.

>>Invite Sia in to talk. The three of you a have a lot to discuss.

>>That’s more than enough stress for one day, you think. Say goodbye to the Barbers, and head to Laoc.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, Gentlemen.)
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>>3920490
AAAAAAHHHHHH FUG.
Bhop. my heart. the WAFF. it's too much. That update felt so good.
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>>3920488
>>Allow Francine some time to collect herself while you speak with Sia alone.
>but make sure you invite Francine to join in the conversation as soon as she is ready, and encourage her to think about another route to take here.
>give your family some assurance everything is ok on your way to Sia.
>"sorry about the wait Sia, im sure Francine will join us when shes ready."
>"Now onto the plan... honestly? no offense, but both of yours were kinda shit. it put too many people alone and at the whims of a madwoman... but you gave good ideas to work off of still."
>"now... i propose a different route. If West wants to come for Francine... let her."
>"now, i wont force you or your group to help, and you guys need to discuss this, REALLY discuss this, together.... but we would appreciate the help, and owe you one damn big one if you help."
>"I propose we forge you guys another teleporter relic of some kind. the goal will be this; we send both Francine and you disguised as her out. two different areas. we prepare, and we plan, and we even entice West Prime to send Proxies after us. then, once the trap is spring, we communicate, stay in touch... and whoever has the easier proxy come after them? the other group teleports back and to that group, so both can work together capturing the lesser target while the more difficult one is left flailing about and far from where she needs to be."
>Give Sia a moment to collect her thoughts on this.
>"Thoughts? suggestions? mind you, i think we still have some time before we have to initiate this, so you have some time to think on it and prepare. I know we could use the time on our end too."
>"and if you or your team arent up for it, then you're not. no pressure, no guilt. this is risky, and alot to ask, and im in no position to shoehorn anyone."
>"I... do ask one thing, even if it might hurt our chances here... help because you want to, not because of whos asking, alright?"
>>
>>3920490
yeah BHOP, that was a good scene, you spun it wonderfully. glad we finally got through to her.
how well did we actually do, and how close was she to actually fully breaking here, if you dont mind me asking?
>>
>>3920501
(You actually crit failed the conversation check when you first brought up the issue to Francine, and due to her mounting stress her prompt breakdown was her manifestation of a Hunger check, which she *barely* passed. However, your subsequent attempt stabilized her and had a roll just shy of a crit success, so very well done.)
>>
>>3920488

My heaaaart! Thank you so much BHOP!

>>Invite Sia in to talk. The three of you a have a lot to discuss.

We need to figure out a plan to deal with West that isn't the self-nuke plan of Francine. Plots within plots is West's wheelhouse, and when the terrain favors the enemy do not fight into it... make them fight into you. I'm not sure exactly how, but I think we should lure a West or three to us through the Skinternet. Maybe a Shu-post that flat out states we've got the means to end West thanks to what Yurei had in her basement (full bluff) with a "defiant" call of "you're going down"?

Even if it doesn't get West Prime away from the Cord, it should force her to divert resources to deal with the threat. Once we have a Proxy, we should actually have what we need to do the real deal and net-bomb her... I think.

I'm way open to suggestions from Family or Anons though.
>>
>>3920504
I honestly have no picture to convey my feelings on that. on one hand, dear god she almost shattered to the hunger in the middle of our home, but on the other hand, yay, we stopped that and helped her move forward.

again, well done BHOP.

>>3920506
Cassandra made it sound like Francines plan could still somehow work without her having to suicide, though it could just be she trusted/saw Francine could come up with another solution than that if she wanted to. hard to tell. still, i actually think Francines plan might still be able to work without her Death. all we need is a copy of the 'virus' to upload still, instead of it being directly her, and/or she may just be able to connect and 'infect' the network without having to pour literally her entire self and life into it.

honestly its part of why i want to give Francine time before she joins the conversation. she just went through alot of shit and i think if we let her do what she does best, she CAN think of a way to make this work. but we still do not know HOW she exactly is a virus, only that she is, so its still up to her if she can find another way to utilize it that doesn't off herself.

but i still think capturing a West Proxy is still our best bet going forward, so i think my plan still stands, the issue only becomes what to utilize it for once we capture it, which is still a bit iffy.
>>
>>3920504
Well, I'm glad that worked out. Gonna be honest, I had so much anxiety over this interaction that even knowing from scrolling to the bottom of the page that it turned out alright I'm still hesitant to scroll back up and see what happened. But okay, good to know we pulled it off.
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>>3920514
we almost made Francine cry with our bullying. that help?
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>>3920512
>all we need is a copy of the 'virus' to upload still, instead of it being directly her, and/or she may just be able to connect and 'infect' the network without having to pour literally her entire self and life into it.
We've got an unlocked Sparagmos Engine to spare. We could experiment with that, see if we could make a copy of Francine that has the infectious memetic properties but lacks those pesky things like awareness or self-concept that keeps us from letting the existing iteration of Francine sacrifice herself.
>>
>>3920519
No. Not it does not. Still haven't scrolled up.
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>>3920520
...maybe. id hope we could just like... finagle a Resurrection point from it to do that without actually spawning a vegetablized Francine. it would be worth the point in my opinion to kill off the Proxies, but just dragging a drooling Francine copy around and then basically sacrificing it just sounds... well its not a pleasant feeling, to say the least.

>>3920524
the bullying was a joke to be fair, unless you count aggressive familiar/friendship loving bullying. it was a very heartfelt and touching scene for sure.
we did still slap her though, to be fair.
>>
>>3920512
I posted without seeing yours. It's a good compromise. I don't want to exclude Francine, because I'll not subvert her free will that way. However it's true that she may need some time to recover from the shock of the emotional roller coaster. I also think we agree on capturing a proxy, and just don't have the how down yet.

>>3920520
This gives me creepy West vibes I'm not sure I'm comfortable with.
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>>3920529
well, i dont think i was excluding her? only taking into account she might need a moment but still inviting her to join, while also taking into account Sia is waiting on us. mind you, i get Sia probably isn't in a rush, but still.
>>
>>3920521
(Francine has a good bit of leeway before she'd be forced to make another Hunger check, so she's made some progress in that regard. It was a net positive overall with an opening of Francine's barriers, so she's slowly warming up to the idea of being more open with the family.)

(And literally everyone except Sugar is dog-piled against the door and listening in...Sugar's off by the bar licking all the plates clean.)
>>
>>3920528
>it would be worth the point in my opinion to kill off the Proxies, but just dragging a drooling Francine copy around and then basically sacrificing it just sounds... well its not a pleasant feeling, to say the least.
I was thinking we'd keep it in memory crystal form. A humanoid body is irrelevant for a being that has no eudaemonic experience. It's not even a mind, really, just a program derived from a person. Assuming we can make those modifications, that is.
>>
>>3920532
>everyone's dogpiled by the door.
listen, Rath, Amara... it was a joke but.. c'mon you know its true.

>Sugar's off by the bar licking all the plates clean.
i get the feeling its less Sugar doesn't care, and more she literally cant help herself, both around sweets and because her senses almost make me think shes basically constantly high.

>>3920534
fair, but we'll see what can be done. or, well, Francine will.
>>
>>3920532
>(And literally everyone except Sugar is dog-piled against the door and listening in...Sugar's off by the bar licking all the plates clean.)
Nice

>>3920488
Supporting >>3920498
>>
>>3920532
Sorry about the bamboozle. but I'll repeat the posted question for posterity.
>tfw Shu Crit failed and Francine nearly failed the hunger check and we would've had another Isabelle breakdown.
>pic related

So where does that leave Francine? Back to square one? Or did she gain some development from it?
>There it is…where there was once a flicker, now it comes in a wave; gratitude, from one so unused to the warmth of another’s care.

Oh wait. she's opening up. there it is.

Also. How many daughters are piled up at the door trying to eavesdrop in on the conversation? the mental image of a giant clump of daughters with their ears to the door is somewhat hilarious and yet serious at the same time.

>>3920532
>a good bit of leeway before another forced hunger check.
on one hand, that's nice. on the other hand, it still doesn't bode well. The amped up hunger does no one no favors. So I might as well treat that as a very thin line.

>>3920524
We gave her a wake up slap, had her recite her name, then gave her a cooldown hug full of warmth and care that stopped her from fully breaking down.

>>3920528
>>3920529
Honestly the thing about the whole Virus thing. Instakilling a proxy requires a high price. A life for a life per say. If we don't have the willingness to kill West Prime and the collective by sacrificing Francine, then the most we can do is to destroy the network infrastructure that allows West Prime to control her proxies. We do that and we force West Prime to come out into the open as well as the other proxies.

What if we uploaded a copy of Francine's newfound humanity into each of the proxies? Like the Sigma Virus except it's giving them a full dose of self-awareness and independence? It robs Prime of control over the proxies as well as infusing an extra dose of "humanity" into the blank proxies that badly need it like Alpha.
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>>3920542
im not sure that would work. you have to remember the proxies still ARE self aware and technically separate. Francine was already acting against West Prime and changing who she was long before she actually decided to separate herself from it or had confirmation she had succeeded. the other Proxies still have a choice, and so far have stuck to Wests goals.

otherwise, nothing so far confirms we still cannot use the virus in some form, so lets see what Francine can come up with first.
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>>3920548
It does seem that they have little self-preservation, though. They're perfectly eager to die, so long as it advances West Prime's goals. We may be able to transplant that from Francine, give them a desire to live instead of sacrifice themselves for the "greater good". Which might not be a great plan, now that I say it. It would disrupt West Prime's plans, sure, but it would still leave two dozen mad scientists running around, pursuing their own goals.
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>>3920557
yeah... that, and i dunno. they still are their own person, and made their own choices it seems. i highly doubt Francine is the only one ever capable of thinking or finding a way to break free. but they haven't. it would still be forcing something onto them, over letting them make their own choice it feels like.
>>
>>3920548
>>3920529
>I also think we agree on capturing a proxy, and just don't have the how down yet.
But there's also a matter of what we do with that proxy. And how do we aim to use that proxy to weaken the collective.

I just remembered that we still have to deal with Gemma. Gah. so many plotlines why can't we pick them all up?

>>3920557
Divide and conquer has its merits. the main threat with the west collective is that well...they're a collective. They share resources, they can coordinate, they work together to further a common over-arching goal.

>>3920498
It's a good start, but it generally doesn't have an answer to the "what next" part after we successfully capture a proxy.

>>3920562
So...Do we offer them the luxury of having a moment to their own thoughts entirely? It seems like the guillotine hanging over their heads is Prime pulling a ASSUMING DIRECT CONTROL bit of the network. But it also raise a serious question of "who wants to leave the collective and who wants to stay?" Gamma was perfectly fine with assisting Prime, and Prime frequently tells Gamma things she hasn't told the other proxies such as the fact that Prime's physically unstable.
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>>3920571
>Whats next
well, we arent doing the plan right this second, so that gives us, Sia, and Francine time to figure that out.

>Do we offer them the luxury of having a moment to their own thoughts entirely?
im just not sure its like that or worth it. they arent monitored 24/7, and the from Francines description it both is and feels like they have plenty of self control and could hide things if they wanted to. it just feels like if they REALLY wanted to break free, they could. but how about a compromise? ask Francine for more details on it, so see for sure if its really been their decision.

>Gemma
actually, i have an idea for bringing that up, but it will depend on BHOPS answer.

>>3920532
hey BHOP, how much IC time does it take to make a Spiritus? i wanted to let those inside Shu who wanted to explore Laoc out, and also use crafting them as an excuse to let Shu and Julia bond as Julia helps sculpt them, for obvious reasons, but i also think it would be rude to cut into Julia and Dorians and everyone's Laoc time if it would take too long.
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>>3920582
>hey BHOP, how much IC time does it take to make a Spiritus?
I doubt it takes too long. It's three turns in combat, and while we know a Daughter's abilities tend to "ramp down" when not in combat to conserve energy, it shouldn't take that much longer. A turn in combat seems to be about thirty seconds to a minute, so out of combat I'd guess the Spiritus take maybe five to ten minutes each?
>>
>>3920582
(It takes all of thirty seconds, so it wouldn't cut into time much at all. In terms of real time, then it would occur over the course of an update if you wish to speak and bond more with Julia.)
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>>3920592
oh, damn thats not as long as i expected. when you showed Lepisma doing it, it made it sound like it took alot longer.
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>>3920592
(You said out of combat, I'm a goof. It would take a few minutes to craft, so not long at all. Julia would put some nice personal touches onto it, as well.)
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>>3920531

You weren't, which is what I was trying to say, poorly.

>>3920542
>>What if we uploaded a copy of Francine's newfound humanity into each of the proxies? Like the Sigma Virus except it's giving them a full dose of self-awareness and independence? It robs Prime of control over the proxies as well as infusing an extra dose of "humanity" into the blank proxies that badly need it like Alpha.

I actually love this. If we could sever the control lines of communication they'd have to make their own choices, be their own person entirely. Sure, some would choose to side with West, for various reasons, but they'd get a chance to be themselves, for good or evil, instead of puppets. "No, West. Not you, not me, -they- are in control of themselves." Shu would then get to see awful reality that most seem to have chosen the path of West Prime, which I'm also fine with narratively.

>>3920582
Agreed with the compromise. I got the impression that it was the lack of regular contact/reprogramming that allowed Francine to develop as their own person, but it could just be that, an impression.
>>
>>3920594
(Later levels allow you to take much longer to grant unique bonuses, hence why she was so methodical with it.)
>>
>>3920594
>>3920595
ah, ok yes that sounds more reasonable, but still not detrimental to our outing. nice, alright. yeah, a good little bonding time with Julia and a moment to deal with a thing on our list, sounds good.

still have to hammer this out with Sia first though, then finish up with the Barbers though. not that im complaining though.

>>3920597
oh, ok, looking forward to that.
>>
>>3920597
I'm still looking forward to seeing what happens if you install a Dream Daughter in a Shell with the swarmling modifier that corresponds to the skill you consumed from them. That feels like that definitely should have an effect. If not at this level, then certainly eventually.
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>>3920597
on a random note BHOP, we were talking a few Veins ago about a Daughter making her own 'Mothra'... and now i found this.
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>>3920613
I thought we were talking about a Daughter becoming Mothra. I'm still looking forward to Lara pupating. BHOP said that there were familiar faces at Laoc, I've got my hopes on Mothlara being one of them.
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>>3920601
>>3920609
It also feels like if we do construct a Spirit Shell, we should keep it spawned and kept in a glass case when not in use like Tony Stark's Iron Man suits.

like pic related except Spiritus Shells.

>>3920597
Bhop, is it possible to create "Empty" Spiritus Constructs and insert the Dream daughter inside later? or do they have to be created with the Spiritus in order to work? Because I'm getting the impression that the Spiritus Constructs act like man-sized mecha suits and the dream daughter is the pilot.
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>>3920615
forgot pic related. like pic related but replace the suits with Spiritus Constructs.
>>
>>3920613
(Oh, that's marvelous. Thank you for posting it!)

>>3920615
(You certainly may, yes.)
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>>3920614
nah, well i mean that too, but no, the specific conversation was about how we had seen two Hive Mistresses with butterfly constructs, yet both went the quantity route, and how it was absurd no one had yet gotten moths and gone the quality route. and BHOP said someone had.

>>3920615
well, i asked BHOP if that was possible, and he never answered, so...
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>>3920621
>>3920620
oh, well there we go then.
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>>3920488
>Allow Francine some time to collect herself while you speak with Sia alone.
>But invite Francine into the conversation when she's ready.
>>
>>3920626
>that thumbnail
so misleading.
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>>3920488
Wow huge relief, I was so nervous for this. I'm so glad Francine is sticking around, she's great. Hopefully Francine gives us more science time in the future, the Void Orrery definitely seems like it has more to give.
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>>3920488

Relenting to Francine’s wish for time to herself, you open her bedroom door to leave and find the entirety of your family scrambling back, trying and utterly failing to make it appear as though they were doing anything less than shameless eavesdropping. Closing the door, you quickly and quietly assure everyone that Francine is alright for now, while also making a mental note to thoroughly soundproof the Dragon’s Roost in the interest of everyone’s privacy.

"Sorry about the wait Sia, I’m sure Francine will join us when she’s ready." You say, finding the Barber’s Neuromancer on her way back to the bar where Sugar is quickly and efficiently lapping up every morsel left over on the breakfast plates, unparalleled focus flaring in her sharp eyes. "Now onto the plan... honestly? No offense, but both of yours were kinda shit. It put too many people alone and at the whims of a madwoman... but you gave good ideas to work off of still."

“Brutal…I appreciate your honesty, though.” Sia replies, a hint of amusement in her voice before she becomes all business. “So, what’s your counter-plan? Let’s hear it.”

"If West wants to come for Francine... let her." You reply, and you can tell Sia’s taken aback at the brazen nature of your idea. "I propose we forge you guys another teleporter relic of some kind. The goal will be this; we send both Francine and you disguised as her out. Two different areas. We prepare, and we plan, and we even entice West Prime to send Proxies after us. Then, once the trap is sprung, we communicate, stay in touch... and whoever has the easier proxy come after them? The other group teleports back and to that group so both can work together capturing the lesser target, while the more difficult one is left flailing about and far from where she needs to be."

Sia nods slowly, chewing over your plan as you continue.

“Now, I won’t force you or your group to help, and you guys need to discuss this, REALLY discuss this, together...but we would appreciate the help, and owe you one damn big one if you hel-"

“You kidding me? Just *try* to stop Rosa or Betty from helping you guys out, and see the bitch-fit they’d throw.” She interrupts with an audible smile. “Sure, we’ll take some time to think on it, but you can be pretty sure everyone would be behind giving you a hand…present company included. Anyway, the plan sounds good. Francine’ll probably have some input as to the specifics, but when you’re ready to pull the trigger on all this, don’t leave us out, alright?”

"I... do ask one thing, even if it might hurt our chances here.” You add, reluctantly. “Help because you want to, not because of who’s asking, alright?"

(Continued)
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>>3920680

“Eh, I don’t think you have to worry about that.” Sia dismisses, glancing back towards where Rosa’s conversing with Gina across the living room. “Girl may have had rose-tinted shades when it came to you, but now that she’s met you, it’s less glamor and more…respect, I think. You’re good people, Defiant. Just nice to know that there are still some heroes trudging through all this bullshit.”

“Same to you and yours, Sia.” You reply, giving her a little nod as she returns to her leader’s side. Francine has yet to emerge from her room to rejoin everyone, and finding yourself possessed of a moment of relative peace by the bar aside from the rhythmic sound of Sugar’s frantic lapping, you take a quick second to consider your next moves. You realize that since this is the closest thing to a ‘family outing’ that you’ll have had, you’d be remiss if you didn’t at least extend the offer to your Dream Daughters to accompany you in your excursion. Reaching out into the depths of your mind, you call out to your Dream Daughters…minus one, for obvious reasons.

“Hey there~!” Holly answers sweetly, her kind, warm voice echoing through your mind. “Saw how things went with Fran, by the way! It was super sweet~”

“Yeah, it went better than I expected, honestly.” You reply, surveying the living room. “How’re things on your end? Everyone getting along?”

“Actually…yeah, pretty well so far!” Julia answers after a moment or two’s hesitation. “I helped tidy up Izzy’s dreamspace, Uzu’s talking to her right now, and in the middle of all that Jo and she had a spar. No powers allowed, Jo’s ruling. It was fun!”

“…Izzy?” You mutter, confused. “And what’s this about a fight?”

“Oh, it’s just what I call her. She doesn’t seem to mind!” Holly cheerfully explains. “And it’s just Jo’s way of doing things. She wiped the floor with Izzy, and I think it helped B’ni to work out some frustrations. Definitely paved the way for Uzu to talk to her. They’re having tea now, I think.”

“Huh.” You mumur, surprised at Holly’s report. “Anyway, everyone’s headed to Laoc for a little outing, and I wanted to see if you or the others would be up for piloting a Shell and joining us.”

“Oh! Oh, that’s so exciting!” She exclaims. “Well, I know Johanna’s booked for a rematch per Izzy’s demand, and Uzu’s not a fan of setting foot in the real, at least for now, so…I’m game, if you are~!”

You can’t help but smile at her enthusiasm, and as your eyes alight on Julia, a plan begins to take shape.

>>Bid goodbye to the Barbers and give them some parting gifts (Describe), then have Julia help you construct a Spiritus Shell for Holly, using the time to talk to Julia about (Write-In) and using [X% BIO] in crafting Holly’s new Shell.

>>Speak with the Barbers one more time before sending them on their way [Rosa/Sia/Betty/Sugar].

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours as I close out the work day, Gentlemen. Additionally, Francine is still recuperating from her outburst, so her meeting with Sia will likely not happen at the present time. After all, she has yet to formulate an alternative plan, if any materializes.)
>>
>>3920684
>Bid Goodbyes to the Barbers.
>Thank them for their support, both with Yurei and in general. tell them if they themselves even need a hand with things, dont be strangers.
>Give Betty a bigger, plushier Fuzzbuzz, more cuddly than usual. maybe try and add an awash of scents to Sugars Fuzzbuzz, or flavors, even if she doenst like construct tastes. For Sia, give her a Fuzzbuzz with a built in Hive Phone, so you can stay in touch and communication is with the mature center of their group.
>Finally, give Rosa your best work Fuzzbuzz, signed personally by you with your autograph.

>Once everyone has said their goodbyes and everything is in order for our future dealings with them, move to Julia.
>"Hey, Julia, Had something i wanted your help with, that would be criminal not to do. Holly wants to tag along to Laoc, and i figured, if were gonna give our dream folk bodies, we should make them works of art, the best we can... and well, i thought you could do wonders to help with that, if you're willing?"
>Add as much Bio and Health as we can to it, with our Families assistance. this body is a longterm one meant to be reused, afterall.
>while forming, ask Julia some questions.
>"So... how're things going with Dorian. i mean, its obvious they arent going bad but... anything change with your hangup we talked about?"
>"anything you need to get off your chest? concerns? issues? you're a trooper going along and helping everyone Julia, but know if you ever have things to say, no matter how important, we're all ears."
>Finally, touch on the touchy subject.
>"...had time to talk to Gemma yet? any conclusions on that?"
>>
>>3920688
understandable. id imagine she, uhh, hasn't been thinking much an an alternative, even if it is possible.
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>>3920684
>Bid goodbye to the Barbers and give them some parting gifts (Describe), then have Julia help you construct a Spiritus Shell for Holly, using the time to talk to Julia about (Write-In) and using [X% BIO] in crafting Holly’s new Shell.

>Gifts: Fuzzbuzzes. Sugar's Fuzzbuzz is the type that converts bio into raw honey if given raw bio to feed. Betty's Fuzzbuzz is extra large and has a buzzing feature (it vibrates). Rosa gets a Fuzzbuzz where the Fur pattern has the word "Shu" dyed into the Fur color. It also doubles as a Hive phone. Also. Make it a shiny Golden Fuzzbuzz like something out of Pokemon. Present the Fuzzbuzz like something out of a Gacha.

>Topics to talk with Julia: Laoc in general and any points of interest. Let her gush about the upcoming daytrip. Ask about her sculpting and fashion profession.

>Bio cost: almost all of the Bio.


Found a nice photo. photo cropping the pic would make it a good daytime version of Laoc with all of the bones and whatnot.
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>>3920688
Question: Can dream daughters in a Spiritus shell still access the dreamscape and interact with daughters who don't have a shell yet?
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>>3920715
i personally think making the Fuzzbuzz golden is a bit too much. also im suspicious of why Bettys has extra vibrations.i also trust Sia with the Hive Phone more, as Rosa seems to be their leader more in spirit than maturity.
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>>3920684
>She wiped the floor with Izzy, and I think it helped B’ni to work out some frustrations.
B'Ni just doesn't know how to take a hit when she can't ignore it thanks to superpowers, I guess. That and her fighting style is pretty heavily based around doing weird things with her limbs.
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>>3920684
Supporting >>3920703
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>>3920740
Her fighting style is based on chucking hands and limbs at supersonic speeds and beating people up with their own skull and body parts.
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>>3920747
And getting an extra two joints in her legs for blade-kicks, and she did pretty well with Ozmas' power set transforming her arms into bone drills or cannons or unraveling into wires. Her fighting style is pretty heavily power-dependent, is my point.

Speaking of the supersonic leg-throw, though, that was Hideous Strength at 2100% Health. Rath is currently at 2210% Health, and also has Herculean Force at 1870% Bio. How fast is she chucking her Radiant Boils now? Substantially greater strength, smaller projectile, better aerodynamics, she should be cracking multiple Mach numbers.
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>>3920716
(They can, yes.)
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>>3920770
Question: How does a dreamdaughter piloting a Spiritus Shell eject from the shell? does it require the living host daughter touching the shell in order to provide the dreamdaughter an avenue of escape?
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>>3920790
(To safely eject requires physical contact with her Host Daughter, at Spiritus' current level.)
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>>3920793
Does Dominus Bloodline's "skills requiring contact can be used through the bloodline" effect count for this?
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>>3920798
(Why yes. Yes, it does.)
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>>3920827
Excellent. Can installing them be done that way, too? Because that opens up the potential for some neat tactics, swapping Dream Daughters between Shells on the fly to deceive enemies.
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>>3920837
(The shells are currently customized to a given Daughter at the ability's current level, and are thus static bodies so swapping the Daughter inside on the fly has no tangible benefit...not yet, anyway.)
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>>3920840
Ah, too bad. Well, we can still theoretically pull some neat tricks. Like if a Shell is getting low on Health we pull the Dream Daughter and then convert it into standard swarmlings. Given how much Bio goes into them, we'd be able to spawn a huge swarm from a single Shell. No one expects that girl they were fighting to suddenly turn into forty giant wasps.
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>>3920845
or convert it into a very durable Ironman suit. Not to mention the sheer Bio-nectar bonus that the Spiritus would gather from Gluttonous Brood.
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>>3920845
>No one expects that girl they were fighting to suddenly turn into forty giant wasps.
Holy shit this made me cackle.
pic related
>>
>>3920684
>>Bid goodbye to the Barbers and give them some parting gifts (Describe), then have Julia help you construct a Spiritus Shell for Holly, using the time to talk to Julia about (Write-In) and using [X% BIO] in crafting Holly’s new Shell.
>Everybody gets FuzzBuzzes. An amaretto-scented one for Sugar, a cuddly one for Betty, a signed one for Rosa, and a static-patterned one for Sia that also serves as a Hivephone.
>Put 2500% Bio into making Holly's Shell. Have Amara applying GRA BAUM and Dominus Bloodlines applied to Dorian and Gina to raise Shu's regen and prevent too huge a drain to her Bio. Apply the Spriteling template to the Shell, for an extra 40% Bio.
>Enlist Julia's aid in sculpting Holly's bug-body. Aim for a look that retains some hints of the insectile while still looking gracefully humanoid. Kind of like Shu's own corruption.
>>"Thanks for helping me with this, Julia. I can control my swarmlings' shape pretty well, but I don't have your aesthetic sense. Get a sculptress to help with sculpting, you know?"
>>"Speaking of which, have you gotten the chance to move any of the pieces from your studio into the Lair? I haven't seen your room, yet. Come to think of it, I don't think November or Francine have ever seen your work, we should definitely put something on display so they can appreciate it."
>>"I'm sure Dorian would love to see more of your work, too. How are things going with him? I've been getting the sense they've been going well, but I'd love to hear it from you, if you're willing to talk."
>>"And while we're here on the topic of Dream Daughters, have you talked with Gemma yet? Uzu said that she and the rest of the Dream Daughters were going to keep an eye on her, try to prevent her from causing trouble. Any developments since then?"
>>
>>3920845
funny idea but im not sure thats possible, as the breakdown method is not part of what Spiritus has been said it can copy from Hive.
>>
(Back home and writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3920684

“Thank you. For Yurei, for the Engine, for everything. It’s been a pleasure.” You say, having gathered everyone together to finally part ways with your new allies after working on some personalized gifts for the quirky quartet. “We’ll be in touch about the plan Sia and I talked about, and if you ever need a hand with things, don't be strangers. Now, I think these belong to you.”

Betty’s the first to receive her customized FuzzBuzz, a massive, plushy affair that’s immediately engulfed by the girl’s arm’s wrapping around it, stretching several times their length to practically mummify the swarmling with her silent affections. Sia’s gifted a smaller, more discrete FuzzBuzz with a built-in communicator, allowing you to coordinate with her at a later date while Sugar immediately begins licking the down of her FuzzBuzz absent-mindedly, like a cat grooming it's kitten.

Upon the unveiling of Rosa’s own FuzzBuzz, she gasps so deeply you fear she might faint. Subsequently, the high screech of sheer joy that emanates from her mouth cuts out, having achieved a pitch that makes Amara’s ear tuck back and prompting a patient, if pained scowl on the young girl’s face. You hand over the autographed swarmling, Rosa immediately hugging as Sia steps forward to speak.

“It’s been real. It’s been good.” She says with an audible grin. “Think we can all agree it’s been real good, Shu. We’ll be looking for your call, alright?”

You nod, and as Gina moves to escort the Barbers out via Escher’s Gear Sugar steps up to you, much to your surprise and chagrin.

“Yes. I’ve decided.” She says with confidence. “You’re definitely the tastiest.”

You just glance at Gina, finding her eyebrow cocked in a dangerous mix of suspicion and amusement…one that turns to wide-eyed shock when Sugar goes on her tip-toes to give you a quick peck on the cheek.

“…Yes. Definitely.” She muses, licking her lips as your face starts to go red. “Stay alive. Stay delicious.”

“Uh…I’ll try?" You reply, and with that she just gives you a nod before turning around and rejoining her fellows, Sia’s inscrutable face buried in her hands. Gina just shrugs, and the five girls disappear with the trademark warp of the Relic Mara gifted you. Breathing a small sigh of relief at your home once again being filled with just your immediate family, you approach Julia with an offer you’re pretty sure she’s not going to refuse.

"Hey, Julia, I had something i wanted your help with something that would be criminal to not have your hand in.” You begin, prompting a puzzled expression from the slight young woman. “Holly wants to tag along to Laoc, and I figured that if were gonna give our dream folk bodies, we should make them works of art. I thought you could help with that, if you're willing?"

You didn't think she'd refuse, and as her eyes widen and a happy smile tugs at her cheeks, you're glad you're correct.

(Continued)
>>
>>3921175

"So...how're things going with Dorian?" You finally muster up the courage to ask, halfway through fusing several swarmlings into a humanoid form. "I mean, it's obvious they aren't going badly, but...anything change with your hangup we talked about?"

"It's...n-nice." She replies meekly, peeling a thin strip of flesh from her own arm, then another before testing the difference in tone against the Spiritus Shell's arm. "We, um...w-we talked about it last n-night, actually. That, and o-other stuff."

"...And?" You prompt, Julia trailing off as she re-absorbs the paler of the two strips back into her arm before tearing free sheet after sheet of the slightly more tanned biomass, working on creating a thin layer of skin on the Shell, more on the torso and upper arms.

"Uh...w-well, we started talking about college, and h-how hard it was. Then we worked b-backwards, and started talking about highschool, and I b-brought up my friend, and...I t-told him about how things went."

You watch in silence as Julia traces a delicate filigree along the Shell's chitinous forearm with one finger, helping to keep her focus on the task at hand and allow her words to flow a little more freely.

"H-he listened, and t-then I started rambling about what all I t-told you about." She stammers, and you find yourself having a hard time imagining Julia even being capable of a good ramble. "I s-said that I'd understand if me n-not b-being like other people...l-like that, I mean...if me not being l-like other people would mean h-he wouldn't want to b-be with me."

"So what did he say to that?" You gently ask, and she pauses, bright eyes meeting yours with a small smile.

"He said...h-he said 'w-what kind of gentleman would I b-be if I wasn't willing to c-compromise for the woman I love?'"

You blink.

"Wow." You say simply, and Julia's cheeks go pink as she continues her work.

"Yeah, u-um...t-then he j-just held my hand, and w-we just talked. L-like I said, it...it was r-really, really nice. I m-made some silly jokes, b-but he laughed a lot. I t-though we were g-going to wake everybody up, b-but...yeah."

"Wow, that's...I'm really glad you and he had that time, then." You say, working the joints of the Shell's hand, more to have something to do than anything. "So, not to sound too much like an armchair psychiatrist, but...how does that make you feel?"

Julia giggles, peeling another thin strip of skin from her leg and applying it to the construct's upper torso, swiftly crafting a light tank-top out of the strips of flesh. A small thing, but a personal one.

"I'm...flattered. K-kind of giddy, when I think about it all." She begins, taking extra care as she alters the Shell's eyes with a touch, molding the compound lenses into something far more human, tinting them in imitation of Holly's verdant irises. "I...I said again t-that I wanted to take things slowly, and he agreed. I t-think he's working through a l-lot of stuff, t-too."

(Continued)
>>
>>3921192

"Good. Well, is there anything you need to get off your chest? Concerns? Issues?" You prompt, hoping to capitalize on this pleasant wave of openness Julia's experiencing. "You're a trooper for going along and helping everyone Julia, but know if you ever have things to say, no matter how important, we're all ears."

"Hm...n-no, nothing major. I j-just want everyone to be okay." She replies, which is perhaps the most on-brand response you could ask for from your kind, caring sculptress. "The whole Gemma thing's b-been on my mind, though. I still haven't talked to her, and the other D-Dream Daughters are keeping an eye on her to make sure she d-doesn't broadcast, so...t-that's on my 'to-do' list after Laoc."

"Believe me, I'm intimately acquainted with lists." You sigh, surveying your handiwork. The Shell's been done, leaving Julia to continue putting on some finer details. Thus far, it looks like she's opting to make the torso, upper arms, upper legs, and face as human as can be, complete with a...skin wig, if you were to describe it as you see it? Meanwhile, the lower arms and calves are raw chitin, engraved with a shining filigree that makes them look more like ornate greaves and gauntlets than the Shell's actual form.

You're not sure if you'd have her make any adjustments...or what else you'd like to bring up with your talented artisan before you set your bubbly blonde Dream Daughter loose upon your hapless family.

>>Describe the Spiritus Shell and any adjustments you'd like to make to Holly's new form.

AND

>>Ask Julia about her thoughts on (Write-In) while you have a moment alone with her.

>>Finish up here, re-introduce everyone to Holly in the flesh, and then head to Laoc.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, apologies for the delay. Voting shall remain open for the next two hours. I do hope everyone has had a good day, one and all.)
>>
>>3921194
>Shell; Humanoid parts made in Hollys image, for better or worse, though with Julias artistic touches and quirks. Chitinous parts are like a fine, smooth obsidian glass, a type of black that at the right angle shines with a metallic green. the Chitin has deep green etching into it, in a pattern made to look like swirling smiles.
>The chitin is otherwise kept looking somewhat humanoid, but a mix between doll and armor in its sections.

>Ask Julia about Amara, both in general, and how she feels about her role in the team.
>Admit to your concerns about her safety, but also about how cooping her up might be stifling her growth or lying about the necessity of her learning and experiencing the truth about the world, aswell as not wanting to curb her enthusiasm to help.
>You dont like her being in danger or what has happened to her... but at the same time, would avoiding those situations really do her any good in the long run?

>Finish up here, re-introduce everyone to Holly in the flesh, and then head to Laoc.
>>
>>3921194
>Overall shell looks smooth and non-descriptive like a superhero suit with a smooth Chitin polish.
>body is very similar to Holly, sharing the physique and the face of Holly.
>Hair is platinum white and the eyes change color depending on which dream daughter is piloting the shell.
>A cloak is draped over the body to hide the evidence of the Spirit Shell's true nature, a bone helm is also provided to hide the identity or in-case another dream daughter goes to pilot the Spirit Shell in order to prevent any confusion.

a bit like pic related minus the sword.

>Ask Julia about the roles in the family and how she fits within the team.
>Ask Julia: "Am...I a good parent to Amara? She seems very mature for her age, and she wants to help out as much as she could...I want to do something that reflects how much I care for her... but at the same time I feel there are things she's not really ready for."
>>
>>3921238
honestly i dont see the need for all that. first, with corruption, theres no need to hide it has inhuman features, and said parts are part of the look. were making something here to proudly show off, not hide.
second, Honestly i dont like or see a reason for them to share bodies, so those aspects you listed im against. feels too impersonal and kinda dehumanizng. that, and we plan to sometimes have more than one out at times potentially anyways, and to break down the bodies when not in use, so we easily can and probably should make a body for each Dream Daughter we ever plan to bring out. probably make a side room to store them in too. though, later of course, right now we only have two(three) to ever bring out anyways, though id not be surprised for that to change long term for multiple reasons.

think of the body as a personal gift to each Dream Daughter, if it helps.
>>
>>3921249
figures. I figured to design the Shell to be multi-purpose in case we have to eject the dream daughters from their personal customized ones and have it used as a spare back-up. Something long term and a way to keep track of who's piloting the body and to stop the confusion of seeing Spirit Shell "Holly" talking and acting with Johanna's mannerisms.

in any case, I'll back your design proposal for Holly's body >>3921216


>>3921198
Bhop. are you going to post the stats of the Spirit Shell when you're done? Also. I'm calling it the Spiritus construct a "Spirit Shell" because it's a shell that houses the spirit of a dream daughter, and the name rolls off the tongue well.
>>
>>3921216
I like this description of the body.
>>3921238
Cloaks are also great, makes things more personal than just a body too.

Additionally though, can we make functional modifications to the body? Like wings perhaps? I'm not sure what else might be useful, I barely remember what Holly's skillset was. I thought about multi-lens eyes or something but we have plenty of perception range from Amara or Gina alone.
>>
>>3921266
(Absolutely. I'll post the HEALTH and BIO when it's complete. As for skills, she'll have access to the first five levels of Ravenous Maw.)

(Additionally, Gentlemen; what type of damage resistance do you wish to impart to Holly's new form, and do you also wish to grant her a second resistance in exchange for a weakness?)
>>
>>3921271
id imagine for now at least we are limited to just what Spiritus can do, with things like swamling wings or something those 'extra things' we can add at later levels costing extra time.

>>3921266
im not sure i understand the situation you are talking about, as the only situation i can think where we would need to quickly pull them out would be bodily destruction.

>>3921284
I suppose Acid? we've run into elemental damage but not any singular one enough to pick it, so i guess just go for the most common. and no on taking a second one.
>>
>>3921284
any secondary skills (besides Hive Augmentations) or is it just Holly's core Ravenous maw only?

wait, if it's a Spiritus Construct, then wouldn't it benefit from the Trypophilic Hive's many augmentations? What augmentations are currently active on the Spiritus Shell that we're making on Holly?
>>
>>3921293
>>3921298
(She has access to all the abilities granted by Ravenous Maw's first five levels, in addition to any and all Augmentations that Trypophilic Hive has active that are applicable. For example, Heavensbreak Stinger grants Holly's teeth and tongue armor-piercing capabilities, she's immune to ACID damage and resistant to HEAT, she accumulates healing via Gluttonous Brood, among other things.)
>>
>>3921284
>>3921306
Then give Holly Resistance to a physical damage type. Blunt/Crushing resistance would be a good start.
>>
>>3921310
we cant, it says only elemental damage types.

>>3921306
>>3921293
ill change my vote to Cold damage then, so she at least covers a bigger range of resistances.
>>
>>3921284
How about Electric or Cold. whichever works.
>>3921320
oh. Sorry.
>>
>>3921306
speaking of BHOP, what IS the difference between Blunt and Crushing damage, as you said before they were different? only thing coming to mind is unarmed vs weapon, or something like direct impact vs swinging, though unsure thats really enough of a difference for some only dealing one or the other.

>>3921325
its fine, though unsure why you are apologizing. its a small detail to miss, and we have....well i am unsure the exact number, but quite alot of levels to keep track of.
>>
>>3921330
(Essentially, blunt damage would be melee type attacks that aren't dealing slashing or piercing damage, like Rath's basic early attacks and the like, or Hecaton's moves. Crushing is a more large-scale type of maneuver, typically associated with terraforming or objects with much larger mass; for example, you shaved off most of Lepisma's HEALTH by dealing crushing damage, and Julia almost died to that damage type when the Sad Deer fell on her. It's more a difference of scale, than anything...and it becomes a little more important when dealing with one or two very finicky attack types later on. I hope this helps.)
>>
>>3921338
so difference between Blunt and Crush is scale of the attack. got it. Crushing resistance/Immunity means we can't drop a mountain on someone for massive damage. while blunt is just punches and kicks.
>>
>>3921338
its helps tremendously and makes good sense to me.
huh, so arguably Blunt could be said to be the 'standard' or 'basic' damage type in a way? neat.

as always, thanks for the information.
>>
>>3921343
(Exactly, which is why the Digging Amalgam is immune to it.)

>>3921345
(Ah, I'm glad you asked, and apologies for the ambiguity. So yes, blunt is essentially the most 'garden variety' damage type.)
>>
>>3921350
one more clarification, if you dont mind. at what 'size' would you say something switches over to Crushing damage? and/or is that highly dependent on where the damage is coming from too? (For example, Terraforming attacks would always deal crushing regardless of size, or have a much smaller size necessary to transition over?)
>>
>>3921357
(Blunt transitions to crushing damage when you're dealing with something of a larger scale that the target in question, though you're quite correct in that terraforming's default damage type is crushing.)
>>
>>3921361
ah, alright, awesome. and easy rule of thumb way to remember too. nice going there BHOP.
>>
(Writing now, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3921194

"I did want to talk about Amara, actually." You begin, watching Julia work small, subtle smiles into the filigree engraved on the onyx chitin. "I'm...concerned. About her safety mainly, but I've also been worried that if we kept her cooped up here then it would just lead to bigger problems, and I know she's extremely enthusiastic about helping all of us."

"Ha, you're r-right about that." Julia chuckles, testing the flexibility of the shoulders and elbows before she moves on to the other arm. "Amara, she's...t-there's a lot she's not telling us, I think. She hears things, through the F-Fleshscape...recent things, and things from a long t-time ago. She started to tell me about it o-once, but I think my worry made her n-not want to talk about it after that."

"Yeah, Sia told me some things about how Skintalkers work, so...that's a conversation I'll need to have with Amara soon, then." You admit, making a mental note of yet another item on your ever-growing list.

"You know...you d-don't have to do all of this alone, right?" Julia says quietly, pausing her work to look up at you with her big, dark eyes. You give her what you assume to be a sufficiently quizzical look, by the way she giggles. "You k-keep saying that no-one has to do anything alone, but if there are some things you'd like f-for us to help you with, you know we'd d-drop everything to help ease your mind, r-right?"

"You help us...all of us, s-so much." Julia continues, putting the finishing touch on the Shell's life-like face, the perfect image of Holly thanks to your scultress' expert craftsmanship. "L-let us help you once in a while, o-okay? As much as you r-remind us that we're not alone, just...p-please remember that you aren't, either."

"...Thank you, Julia." You say, a warm smile of gratitude crinkling the corners of your eyes.

“O-okay. It’s d-done.” Julia sighs with satisfaction, stepping back to admire the fruits your cooperative efforts. It’s strikingly human, nigh-indistinguishable from the genuine article save for the small gaps between every joint, pale chitin serving as something almost like a doll’s ball-joints.

Reaching out, you place a hand on the Shell’s shoulder, feeling something that’s very much a part of you flow along your arm and into the skin-coated homunculus before you. You wait for a long moment with bated breath…and then Holly opens her eyes for the first time, and she’s stunning. She blinks, just staring at you for the span of a few heartbeats before looking down at her arms, legs, and torso, then looking back up at you with her luminous green eyes.

"I'm...I'm here." Holly breathes in awe, disbelief writ large across her features. "I'm back."

(Continued)
>>
>>3921606

A grin splits her face, and suddenly you find yourself engulfed in a powerful hug as the first act of Holly's new form. She just starts laughing, a high, joyous echo through your room as she looks to you with sheer, unabashed glee sparkling in her eyes.

"This is the Best. Day. Ever!" She squeals, pulling you back in for a second, even tighter hug.

>>SPIRITUS SHELL: Complete

>>HEALTH: 2,480%
>>ACT 2/2
>>RAVENOUS MAW: Primed
>>RESISTANCES: Heat, Cold.
>>IMMUNITIES: Acid.

"Holy crap, this is amazing!" Holly suddenly exclaims, flexing the doll-like joints of her hands as she mercifully lets you go.

"Oh, it's n-nothing, rea-" Julia begins before finding herself swept up in Holly's arms, falling prey to the blonde's surprisingly powerful grip.

“You're so awesome! Like, so freaking cool!” Holly says rapidly, showering her co-creator with praise before spying the cracked door to the living room. She glances at you, about to bolt out the door to meet the rest of your family before she catches herself, eyes pleading. Not wanting to keep her waiting, you stride over, throwing open the door and stepping aside as Holly practically bounds across the space and skids into the living room, prompting everyone present to turn at the boisterous girl's arrival.

"HOLLY!" Amara screams, eye lighting up the moment she recognizes the Dream Daughter.

"Get over here, you 'lil chunin!" Holly demands playfully, prompting the younger girl to make a mad dash across the living room floor before leaping into a pair of waiting chitinous arms. The rest of your family approach as Holly and Amara's raucous laughter dies down a bit, with you and Julia joining everyone in the center of the living room as you announce Holly's arrival...a bit belatedly.

"Everyone? I'd like you to meet Holly...for real, this time." You say, inviting everyone to introduce themselves, in kind.

"Dorian Gardner, at your service. It's a true pleasure Miss Holly, I assure you." Dorian greets warmly, glancing over to Julia with a proud smile. "And my compliments to the sculptress."

"Oh, it's all her, seriously." Holly says, looking between the two artists with a knowing grin. "You two should collab more often, it'd be super-cool."

"I'm Rath, and this is my Aunt Heather. Goes by November." Your red-headed brawler says, prompting Holly's bright eyes to fall on her.

"The Neesons! Aah, you're both so cool! I can't wait to see you two in action, you're amazing!" Holly gushes, reaching out with the arm that isn't helping Amara cling to her and enthusiastically shaking both their hands. Leaving both niece and aunt somewhat taken aback at the compliments, Holly's eyes fall on Gina at last, sparing not a single moment or word as she lets Amara down to the ground and practically bowls the brunette over with the force of her tackle.

"The Queen to the King, here she is!" Holly laughs as she hoists Gina up off the floor, much to the latter's surprise.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3921613
It's several more minutes before everyone settles down enough for you to address everyone with ease, and after you've herded your proverbial cats you all circle around your outstretched hand, Escher's Gear held before you and attuned to the spoke Francine cleverly left behind. Colors churn, ozone burns, and you suddenly find yourself looking up at the high marbled walls of Laoc, the scarlet sky overhead casting its organic hue across the imposing calcite structure. Julia and Dorian lead the way, and you chance a look behind you as you realize the town is situated at the top of a hill, overlooking a valley of pustule-covered dips and curves in the skin of the land's contours...an easily-defensible position, you note.

Shifting your focus back to the front, you're immediately struck with how many people there are, Daughters of all shapes and sizes shuffling through the sharply-angled streets and around the edged corners of Laoc's imposing architecture. The designs are just short of grotesque, but you have to admit the level of care and skill that went into the design, regardless of taste.

"The market quarter is to your right, down two streets and up a third." Dorian explains, bold confidence coloring his tone despite having only been here a matter of minutes before you interrupted his date with Julia. "Straight ahead is the town hall and tavern, where you'll likely find the Mayor. To the right is the library, and-"

"Library?!"

"Library, you say?"

Gina and Francine pause, staring at each other as their overlapped words hang in the air.

"Well, I guess I know what you nerds are gonna be doing while Aunt Heather and I hit up the tavern with the cool kids." Rath jokes, giving the Fibro- and Neuromancer the side-eye.

"You know, they could have books about firearms in there." November notes, an odd lilt to her simulated voice. "Maybe something about military history?"

"Oh shit! You really think they'd have something cool like...oh, screw you, November." Rath growls, once she sees November's shoulders shaking in breathless laughter. Holly and Amara join the cyborg Daughter in her chuckling at Rath's expense, which gives Dorian and Julia the distraction they need before they slip off by themselves, intent on resuming their alone time.

You don't blame them; as much as you want to spend time with your family, you can't help but wonder if exploring on your own might be the most productive use of your time. In any case, you barely have to flicker your empathic field to figure out where everyone wants to go...so it's on you to decide where to explore first in the sprawling town.

>>Investigate the tavern alongside November and Rath.

>>Peruse the market alley with Amara and Holly.

>>Venture to the library with Gina and Francine.

>>Explore off in a random direction by yourself, and give everyone else time with each other.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
>>3921617
>Where's Amara going?
>>
(Gentlemen, I shall be pausing here for the evening. Voting shall remain open for the next ten hours, with posting to resume in approximately twelve, give or take. I appreciate your time, patience, and participation as always, and if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to post them so that I may address them first thing in the morning. I wish you a restful evening and a good night's sleep whenever and wherever you may be reading this, and take care.)

>>3921620
(Holly intends to take Amara window-shopping.)
>>
>>3921617
>Peruse the market alley with Amara and Holly.
Shopping with a girl who calls us "mom" is the best way to spend the time. What kind of a mother are we if we don't spend quality shopping time with our daughter?
>>
>>3921617
>Explore off in a random direction by yourself, and give everyone else time with each other.
we can always visit them all later, and as much as we all love hanging out with them, Shu still could use a bit of time alone. plus, ill be honest, none of the locations interest me too much, but thats just me. i wanna see if doing this will give us something more interesting ,and worse case Shu can just let off some shoulder weight with random and hopefully safe exploration.

>>3921622
you have a good night BHOP, thanks for another spectacular session.
>>
so, ive been trying to compile a list of everything we have to do, because i guess i hate myself a bit. while im open to discussion of course about the level of importance ive given them, my real point of listing it is to try and figure out anything ive missed, as having it remembered is much more important than where it is in this case.

*not in order of importance per section.*
Major;
>Help the Ant Queen.
>Defeat the West Proxy Network.
>Continue Progress Westward.
>Deal with Gemma.

Secondary;
>Hexxane Statues Situation.
>Check in on and Defeat/Ally with Daughters of note(‘Nothing’ Girl, ‘Everything’ Girl, Hive Girl, UP Girl, Neuro(?) Girl.)
>Meet and assess the Enlightened Ones(?).
>Assess the other Faction.
>Talk to Amara more in depth about being a Skintalker.

Other;
>Watch/Assist the DOs launch.
>Talk with Mother.
>Read Hexxane Journals.
>Scope out the Amalgam Spawning Field.
>Inspect the Hexxane Powerplant.
>Track/Assess/Deal with the 3 Crucible Defenders.
>Pre-Construct your other Dream Daughters their Spiritus Shells.
>Check out the T5 Forges Limits.
>>
(I'm very sleepy so I can't find it, but I also want to thank the Anon who supplied a much better image for Laoc than I had planned. Sorry I didn't give you a shout-out sooner!)

>>3921628
(Thank you for your kind words, truly.)
>>
>>3921708
This one?
>>3920715
>>
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>>3921708
you mean this post? >>3920715
i think it may of been posted in a previous thread too.

either way, you get some shut eye BHOP.
>>
>>3921708
anything to help improve the quest quality and enrich the community.

You're welcome bhop.
>>
>>3921617
>Explore off in a random direction by yourself, and give everyone else time with each other.
> Hand a Jackling to Holly and Rath in case they want to contact you. Be it for emergencys or jus that they have found something that absolutelky needs our attention. Or if we find somehting we think someone of our little family would like to witness.

We may find something very interesting while wandering the streets. I wonder if there is a random encounter table here

>>3921708
Good night OP. Sleep well
>>
>>3921613
Aww, Holly. So cute. I'm a bit surprised that Amara is so excited, though. I guess they've been spending time together in the Dreamscape. Or maybe it's a Skintalker thing, Amara talks to all of our Dream Daughters even when awake and it's just never come up because we didn't think to ask.

>>3921617
>>Peruse the market alley with Amara and Holly.
I'd like to see what markets look like, now. What do people trade with, now? Bio? Probably Bio,
>>
>>3921676
hrm, guess i may of posted this at a bad time then? alright, well im off to bed, so cheers lads.
>>
>>3921834
There's also the disturbing fact that Amara hears all of the deepest darkest secrets of the world of past and present on a minute-by-minute basis because of her core. Ringo even explicitly said that being a skintalker is to take on the burden of being a conduit to secrets like that.

It's probably taking a constant heavy toll on Amara that she wholeheartedly takes any opportunity that's offered for her to engage in an activity that allows her to tune out the dirty gossip be it Shu's story time, training with Churem, or even visiting the Ant Queen.
>>
>>3921843
Sleep well Anon
>>
>>3921843
I actually just woke up, myself. Dozed off before making dinner, woke up now. Sleep well, though, I'll just leave this here for when you wake up.

I think your list is pretty comprehensive. I'm not sure who the Enlightened Ones are, though. You mean the Altered Altar? Also, on the list of Daughters to examine, which one is Hive Girl? I don't remember her. We've got Nothing, Everything, Sonic Generator, Unnatural Predator, and Neuromancy Spellblade. I don't remember a Hive Mistress.

>>3921848
Yeah, Amara's a trooper, and I'm glad when we can find things to do to make her happy. Honestly, it's amazing how positive she manages to stay.
>>
>>3921854
that's because she's surrounded by family members who make her day and take her out to do very wholesome family activities. Activities that she sorely missed out in her childhood.
>>
>>3921917
Ah, yes, wholesome family activities like fighting giant monsters or diplomacy with superintelligent ants. That's the sort of traditional family experience that you just don't see with our modern latchkey kids.

But nah, I get what you mean. The party is a great family environment for her, Amara's surrounded by people who love her and want her to be happy and safe. She's got a bomb-ass new mom, half a dozen cool aunts, one uncle, and a head full of playmates including an actual alien ninja. What better environment is there to raise a child in?
>>
>>3921926
well, while we shouldn't shield her from such a reality, id still argue a world/environment where the world isnt a ticking time bomb death tournament where most left want to kill and eat her would be at least a very slightly better environment to raise her in.

but you work with what you got. my worry right now is her claming up over thinking her worries were worrying Julia. while im sure her reactions and temperament is real, it does make me wonder how much of it/ how much she is ignoring trying not to be a burden, which we need to get through to her she wont be, even if everything is not smiles and rainbows.

I think Julia would appreciate it if we could get her to finish that conversation with her.

>>3921854
>Altered Altar.
fuck me yes thats what i meant(hence the question mark). godamned i do not know why sometimes i have so much damn trouble with names.

>Hive Girl
there was that one daughter of note i thought we were tracking who was a 'hive mistress of the shadows' who used... bats(?), spiders(?) to strip people down to the bone in seconds with her swarm.

>Sonic Generator
im not remembering her at all.

>Spellblade
nor that honestly, only that i was semi-sure one of the big players was described to have some form of neuromancy.
>>
>>3922155
>well, while we shouldn't shield her from such a reality, id still argue a world/environment where the world isnt a ticking time bomb death tournament where most left want to kill and eat her would be at least a very slightly better environment to raise her in.
Well yes, obviously. I didn't literally mean this was the best possible environment to raise Amara in, but it's a good one and we're doing our best.

>but you work with what you got. my worry right now is her claming up over thinking her worries were worrying Julia. while im sure her reactions and temperament is real, it does make me wonder how much of it/ how much she is ignoring trying not to be a burden, which we need to get through to her she wont be, even if everything is not smiles and rainbows.
Yeah, that's an issue. Like, I agree that Amara is probably mostly genuine with the emotions she portrays (and Shu would know if she wasn't), but it's quite possible that's not because she doesn't feel worry and more because she's very good at repressing it. In some ways I think that Shu may have been a bad influence on her, she's modeled her behavior after our eagerness to help others and so is neglecting her own concerns in the process. All she sees is "Shu always looks out for the rest of the party, I should do the same" and doesn't know how to do that while still being open about her own problems.

>there was that one daughter of note i thought we were tracking who was a 'hive mistress of the shadows' who used... bats(?), spiders(?) to strip people down to the bone in seconds with her swarm.
Oh, right, her. Nerada, yeah. Big swarm of mini-spiders, looks like liquid shadow. We weren't tracking her, that was one of the super-cool Daughters that Rosa is a fan of that we heard of from her. We'll probably encounter her eventually, but we don't know where she is now. Still, definitely one for the Persons of Interest list.

>im not remembering her at all.
One of the foreign Daughters. The German, the one that Rosa's fandom calls "Rammstein" after the German heavy metal band, because her Generator powers are sound-based. Creates big sonic shockwaves so intense they melt people.

>nor that honestly, only that i was semi-sure one of the big players was described to have some form of neuromancy.
Yeah, she's got a Calcite/Neuromancy hybrid. We haven't been given any details on what it does, but Gina described her as a spellblade, combining the Neuromancy with melee attacks in some weird fashion. Rosa said that her Calcite weapon resembles a guillotine, but didn't know anything about the Neuromancy part.
>>
>>3922163
alright, thanks.
Guess nothing else at the moment you think im missing?
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>>3922169
I don't think so. Oh, one small thing, the "other faction" you've got on the list is the Apex Sisterhood. The main groups in this area are the Disassociated Ones, the Altered Altar, and the Apex Sisterhood, we learned that from Yurei.
>>
>>3922172
yeah, thts their name.
folks sounded pretty nasty from what i remember, my biggest worry there is they sounded very much not our type, so dealing with them might be more like trying to put down a literal gang/army, which doesn't sound like something we have the time for.
>>
>>3922174
Yeah, Yurei made it sound like they're less a faction and more a group of cannibals (well, more cannibalistic than the average Daughter) who have a common ideology. Not people you can reason or ally with, but a more organized group of threats than most.
>>
>>3921834
there's also probably a large market for the more exotic Bio types due to the Core class system. Like Skintalker class bio would be valuable for it's make in certain relics.
>>
>>3922175
I think the Apex sisterhood would mainly work more like a traveling Wolf pack where they have their hierarchy arranged around raw combat strength and solo battling considering they have the "apex" tag in their group name. So it's safe to assume that each of them may be an apex in their own dedicated field of solo combat. and would have strict standards too.
>>
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>>3921617

“Hey everyone, I’m going to take a look around by myself for a little while, so take these to stay in touch.” You declare, spawning a handful of commlings from your hive. “Empathic channel probably isn’t the best idea with so many people around.”

{Everything okay?} Gina immediately asks, her worry evident across the Crimson Cord.

[I’m fine, I just want to give everyone some time to relax, and I could use a walk] You explain, easing her fears with your own sense of calm, transmitted across your bond. Bidding your family a temporary farewell, you start wandering, threading your way through the wandering Daughter that are thankfully paying you no heed. What you assumed to be sewer drains lining the streets at regular intervals prove to be vents, keeping the thick, humid air of the Fleshscape at bay and providing a gentle breeze that follows you as you stride along the calcite paths. Despite the macabre construction replete with skin stretched taught over storefronts in lieu of paint, the presence of multi-colored lights shining softly from lamps, windows, and even strung between the tops of buildings brings a much-needed atmosphere to the surprisingly cozy town.

You’re admiring the layout of the place when the street opens into a large plaza, a spire in the center of the space looming above all present…save for one tall and curious Daughter, a clear Unnatural Predator from her dusted insectile wings and fuzzy carapace. She towers over the other Daughters present at well over eight feet in height, and while the passers-by give her a wide berth she pays them no mind, a look of utter joy evident even on her insectile features. Her compound eyes reflect the myriad of multicolored lights trailing from the top of the central spire to the rooftops lining the square, and she’s marveling at their beauty when her gaze finally alights on you.

“Shu!” She suddenly exclaims, recognition in her complex eyes as she zeroes in on you.

You briefly panic, having the fleeting fear that you left one of you swarm out for far too long before you dismiss the thought as a rightfully absurd one.

“Shu, it’s me! Lara, from Carroll’s Forest!” She says in the face of your startled expression. “I almost died!”

That last part makes some Daughters glance nervously between the two of you, shuffling past the two of you a little faster and allowing the towering moth-like Daughter to stride over to you on a quartet of long, slender legs, her wings draped around her like an ornate cloak.

“Good to see you Lara.” You reply, the colossal woman kneeling before you and bringing her almost to your eye level. “What brings you here? Is everything alright in the forest?”

(Continued)
>>
>>3922248

“Same! And yes, all's well!” She says happily, glancing about at all the sights and sounds. “Things settled down after you left, and a few hours ago the Midnight Crew came back to the Forest and said they wanted to use a Relic they acquired on a tree or two. They said they’d keep an eye on the Carroll’s Forest if I wanted to explore a bit with my new form.”

“Wow, that’s…sweet of them, actually.” You say, willing to bet money that it was Keane’s idea. “So, you’re…you look…”

“Different?” She supplies, her mandibles curving in an approximation of a smile. “I think my first form was just a temporary thing, since once I hit a threshold, I changed.”

Intriguing, that an Unnatural Predator’s corruption could cause them to change forms entirely. Maybe something like this was responsible for Mara’s transformation, on top of the sheer amount of power she’d accumulated over the course of her journey. Putting that consideration out of your mind for now, you focus back in on Lara to see her head turning this way and that, taking in as much as she can. It can’t have been healthy for her, stuck in that form of hers and feeling duty-bound to the Forest’s limits...which makes the Midnight Crew’s offer all the more a pleasant, if unexpected surprise. A part of you worries that they just wanted Lara out of the way for some reason, or perhaps a new heist…but then again, maybe you rubbed off on them more than you realized.

“I call bullshit.” A harsh voice grumbles to your left, drawing your attention to a pair of girls striding your way. The irritated voice belongs to a tomboyish young woman around Rath’s height and sporting a ratty overcoat and sharp eyes, directed squarely at her companion.

“Oh come on, Ash! Where’s your sense of adventure?” The beauty opposite her teases, arching one thin eyebrow as she walks in lockstep with her friend, wearing a surprisingly pristine white dress. “The Altered sound fun and the Apex got scattered, so we’ve got a clear shot at the Altar. Why the long face?”

At that, the attractive girl reaches out and tugs on her traveling companion’s cheek, the skin stretching out a good half-meter before it snaps back when Ash yanks her head away.

“Cut it the fuck out, Bridget. And getting high’s stupid. You lose your edge, and that’s how you get got.” Ash grumbles back, rubbing the side of her face.

“Aww, worried about ‘lil old me?” Bridget asks in a sing-song voice.

“Told you I’ll kill you myself, first.” Ash fires back.

“Then I’ll kill you second, cutie~” The other girl replies playfully.

They pass you, continuing to bicker as you turn to see Lara’s risen to her full height, eager to continue exploring.

>>Ask Lara a bit more about herself, and offer to walk with her while you talk and explore together.

>>Let Lara explore on her own while you interrupt the two arguing girls about the Apex.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, voting shall remain open for the next three hours, as I have a few meetings today. I hope your Thursday is going well, one and all.)
>>
>>3922251
>>Ask Lara a bit more about herself, and offer to walk with her while you talk and explore together.

>"So how were things after we left? Did other daughters come by to spend time with you or did no one else reach you?"
>"So you can fly now How is the feelign of being able to fly on your own wings? I should probably warn you a lot of things were let loose in the last days. One of them ebing a colossal flying amalgam that was supposed to protect the crucible if it got attacked by another world eater. So be careful while explorign the skies"
>"Do you know anything about the altered Altar? I heard they have their camp relatively close by"

>"Is there any place you want to visit specifically?"
>Walk a bit with her
>>
>>3922248
>I almost died!
pfff haha, i mean, true Lara, but heed the location for what you blurt out.

>>3922251
>Ask Lara a bit more about herself, and offer to walk with her while you talk and explore together.
>Compliment her new form too.
>Ask her about her time with the Crucible, and what lead her to her self positioned duty in the Forest, aswell as against the Hatter. though you can guess why she stood against him of course, how it got to that point interests you.
>Put forth your usual 'question for a question' exchange, if it helps get the ball rolling, though if she wants you're fine letting her ramble on.

huh, the Apex got scattered? interested in how, but we can figure that out later. also sounds... dubious. they sounded like a bad group of girls, but a even as a bad group you would be surprised how much they may of be accidentally holding back some bad eggs from doing worse.

also curious about the 'alter' the 'altered' might have.
>>
>>3922252
Its been good enough.

Sadly i couldnt really vote yesterday because of decicding to write down the events of a game of kill Team for a campaing iam playign at. And had played the game just an hour earlier so i wanted to get it written down while i still remembered the details
>>
>>3922252
hope the meetings dont bore you too badly BHOP! a bit early to tell, but so far days alright.
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>>3922252
also they might just be common names, or i could just be utterly bonkers, but is Ash and Bridget even slightly based on anything? the name-combo is bringing that nagging feeling of familiarity up.
>>
>>3922252
>>3922260
wait, are they a 'london bridges' joke?
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>>3922251
>"Oh Amara would love to see you. And hug you too."

>Let Lara explore on her own while you interrupt the two arguing girls about the Apex.
>"What's this about the Apex getting scattered? What happened? Someone kill their pack leader?"
>>
>>3922260
>>3922261
(I have to admit they do seem familiar together, though I can't quite say why, since they were both made independently. )
>>
>>3922260
>>3922261

Could be. Also they're a pair of female Overwatch characters... talking about Apex... so dunno? BHOP is known for their doubling of references.

>>3922251
>>Ask Lara a bit more about herself, and offer to walk with her while you talk and explore together.
>>Just "be" for a bit. Relax and pick up the tidbits and bobs that come from just being around civilization. Pleasant conversation, and ask about the Apex, if Lara knows, but let's not dash off after street randos.
>>
>>3922266
>>3922269
ah, it was an odd set of circumstances going on.
for one, i was misremembering two nursery rhymes and combining them. But BHOP also managed to put two girls together whos names correspond perfectly with the 'main beats' of two British nursery rhythms.

'london bridge is falling down' in which the most memorable and repeated part, is well, 'london bridge is falling down, falling down.'
and 'pocket full of posies' which ends with 'ashes, ashes, we all fall down.'

it also helps both deal with things 'falling down' which helps mentally tie them together. even funnier, is locally, us stupid kids tied the two songs together too. so, BHOP managed to piles a massive heap of coincidences together, essentially. I am unsure if this is hilarious or impressive.
>>
also, just realized Lara is a giant moth entranced by pretty and bright lights. truly, unnatural predator classes have the most silly of side effects.
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>>3922282
bright lights will be the death of Lara I can guarantee it. She'll be inevitably attracted to Rath if they ever meet.
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>>3922294
>Raths face as Lara creepily follows her around, bright eyed, panting heavily with a blush across her face.
>mfw Rath is the forbidden lamp.
>>
>>3922294
>>3922295

Considering Rath's attraction to taller women the feeling may be mutual. Skinternet FireMoth ship-posting begins.
>>
>>3922298
Now Lara only needs a blockign looking piece of Full Body Armor and a gun and we might have to try to physicaly restrain Rath to stop her from dragging Lara back to the Lair and never lettign her leave again
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>>3922298
>>3922302
isnt Lara old enough to be her mother though?
...or actually, from what we've seen, Rath may not care about that, or even prefer it.
>mfw Rath might be the very permissible lamp.
>>
>>3917562
Great quest...starting at the beginning but hopefully will catch up soon...
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>>3922307
you are in for a ride. We'll see you soon.
>>
>>3922307
always nice to see new folks, though with 30+ Veins it might be better to just understand its alot and enjoy the read over rushing through it.
>>
>>3922307
Hi.

Hope to see you around then. Pack your resitances and something to eat your in for a long wild ride that needs its time to settle.
>>
>>3922248
Haha, yes! Best Moth.
>>
>>3922251
>>Ask Lara a bit more about herself, and offer to walk with her while you talk and explore together.
>>Write-In
>Try to find Holly and Amara. Amara will be so excited to see Lara having turned into an awesome giant moth-lady.
>>
>>3917562
Also are you the Joker Quest GM because this quest feels so similar.
>>
>>3922416
The question's been asked before. They're not the same person, but BHOP did take inspiration from Joker Quest.

Also, welcome to the quest.
>>
>>3922251

"Is there any place you want to visit specifically? I’d be happy to walk with you and catch up, unless you’d rather explore on your own for now." You offer, and Lara’s angular head immediately turns to you, her antennae flailing at the sudden motion.

“Please do! The Forest was…I didn’t get out much, so I’d love company.” She affirms, and at that she begins to wander with you by her side, just talking in the sights at a leisurely pace…at least, for her. You have to work a little harder to keep up with her long strides, but it’s not too much trouble as you both make your way along with brightly-lit calcite streets.

"So how were things after we left?” You begin after waiting a moment for her to initiate conversation. “Did any other Daughters come by, or…?”

“Oh, uh…no. No, the Midnight Crew were the first.” Lara replies, forcing her attentions back on you and ignoring the lights dangling from practically every surface. “But they were very nice…I think it was Keane that offered to keep watch and let me stretch my wings a bit."

"Speaking of which, you look fantastic.” You say, and Lara bashfully flutter her wings at the compliment. “How’s is the feeling of being able to fly on your own wings?”

“Oh, it’s just marvelous!” She beams, lights dancing in her eyes. “I’m still getting used to it, so I can’t go too high, but…it’s like a dream. A good one, though. Not like…most of the Crucible.”

“I should probably warn you a lot of things were let loose in the last days.” You say reluctantly, not wanting to burst her bubble but also impart a pertinent warning. “One’s a colossal flying amalgam that was supposed to protect the Crucible if it got attacked by another world eater. So please be careful while exploring the skies, alright?"

“Oh…aw.” She says, somewhat disheartened. “Well, I planned to return to Carroll’s Forest when I was done here, so I’ll stay to the treetops. I appreciate the warning.”

"Also, this is just a shot in the dark, but do you know anything about the altered Altar?” Comes your question, recalling the two bickering girls from earlier. “I heard they have their camp relatively close by."

Lara just shakes her head apologetically. “No, I’m sorry. Back there was the first I’ve heard of them. I never really bothered with the trees in Carroll’s Forest, so there’s a lot about the Fleshscape I hav-“

You both freeze when a door on the left-hand side of the alley you’re in explodes outwards as two women are flung bodily into the opposite wall to your right. The assorted passers-by promptly scatter in advance of a young woman stepping across the shattered threshold, wild hair and dark skin lit by the gently swaying lights above. The black girl rolls her hands lazily, waiting for the two women to rise shakily to their feet as scarlet tendrils of blood unfurl from the two girls and retreat into her wrists.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3922442

“You know who we are, kid?! We’re the goddamn Apex!” The taller of the two snarls, arms erupting with jagged bone that shreds through her skin like so much wet paper.

“What’s left of them, I hear.” The other girl replies coldly, and you realize that what you first assumed to be a bizarrely-designed shirt to be her actual torso, clear and corrupted skin revealing a length of coiled, softly-glowing entrails within. “You want to pitch a bitch-fit about your cannibal friends getting run out? Want to be a dick? That’s fine…just don’t do it in my town.”

You’re about to speak when the Calcite Armorer lunges, far too slow to outpace the crimson threads that fly out across the space with the swiftness of an executioner. The muscular woman’s limbs are sliced off cleanly, her endoskeleton useless against the sheer cutting force the slight girl exerted without so much as flinching. Collapsing to her knees, the Armorer groans to stifle her scream.

“Leave.” The Paladin intones, her tone leaving no room for argument as the Apex outcasts flee past you down the alley. “Find better friends…or don’t. Your call.”

“Jeraha?” Comes a timid voice from the doorway, prompting the other girl to turn and face an older woman; the owner of the shop, if you were to guess.

“Ruth, you alright?” The girl asks, her cold tone evaporating into one of care and warmth as the woman nods slowly. “Head to the pub, tell Sierra that you’ll have something on me, alright? I’ve been here enough to know where everything goes, so let me clean up”

Rath opens her mouth to protest and Jeraha just raises her hand, accepting no protests from the storekeeper.

“Anything I can do to help?” You offer, Jeraha’s focus settling on you as she ushers her friend elsewhere.

“No. No, I’ve got this.” She replies, glancing between you and Lara before narrowing her eyes. “Shu, right? The Defiant?”

“The one and the same.” You reply, tensing slightly. “That a problem?”

“No problem, just like to keep track of who’s in town, is all. Mayor’s duty…at least, that’s what everybody says I am.” She sighs. “Crew with you?”

“Midnight? No, not now.” You answer, mildly surprised.

“Pepperbox?” She adds, and you just arch an eyebrow at the unfamiliar name.

“Just checking. You seem nice, but I’ve heard you keep company with some rough types…no offense.” Jeraha adds, looking back into the store to assess the damage as she rolls up her sleeves. “Well, I hope you stay out of trouble and enjoy Laoc…in that order.”

With that, she disappears into the store as Lara just gives you a little shrug, and you resolve to not let your companions get too rowdy, while they’re here.

Rath.

You’re mostly worried about Rath.

>>Continue exploring with Lara, as you have a few more questions you’d like to ask her (Write-In).

>>Insist on helping Laoc’s Mayor alongside Lara.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Gentlemen, voting shall remain open for the next two hours.)
>>
>>3922307
>>3922416
(Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you continue to enjoy it. And no, I'm not Joker Quest's QM, though I'm flattered at the comparison.)
>>
>>3922447
>pepperbox
welp. guess they’re canon now
>>
>>3922458
And apparently have crossed several state lines, if Jeraha thinks they might be around here.
>>
>>3922458
(Mina and the rest of the crew in Journeys, as well. It was a little vague, but I alluded that they were the ones that helped Zahira and her friends reach a ship to North America.)

>>3922459
(Waystations are a thing, and she was just rattling off names she's familiar with since the tavern's a hub of info.)
>>
>>3922447
>Continue exploring with Lara, as you have a few more questions you’d like to ask her.

>Ask her about her time with the Crucible, and what lead her to her self positioned duty in the Forest, aswell as against the Hatter. though you can guess why she stood against him of course, how it got to that point interests you.
>Put forth your usual 'question for a question' exchange, if it helps get the ball rolling, though if she wants you're fine letting her ramble on.
>>
>>3922461
I wonder if there are passing mentions of a crazy rabbit or a daughter who wants to be referred to as a ‘boy/man’...”
hadn’t had the opportunity to work on that story. work has been brutal on me. can’t concentrate on it recently since work stole away the muse
>>
>>3922461
>(Mina and the rest of the crew in Journeys, as well. It was a little vague, but I alluded that they were the ones that helped Zahira and her friends reach a ship to North America.)
Ah okay that is interesting. I was kinda guessing that could be the case and had planned to ask you after the Vein if that would be the case. Or could have arranged for Mina to maybe meet that daughter if it had not been her

I have a couple questions written down for after the vein and i wil hopefully have the time to ask them to you as i know you are pretty busy and life hasnt been to good with giving me a lot of freetime to just come up with questions

Also the Mayor is probably like one or two endgame daughters worth on her own isnt she?

>>3922447
>Continue exploring with Lara, as you have a few more questions you’d like to ask her. Offer to buy her a drink if she wants one

>Put forth your usual 'question for a question' exchange, if it helps get the ball rolling, though if she wants you're fine letting her ramble on.
>Ask her about her time with the Crucible, and what lead her to her self positioned duty in the Forest, aswell as against the Hatter. though you can guess why she stood against her of course, how it got to that point interests you.


>>3922469
Sorry to hear that you are having toruble.
>>
>>3922469
I'm sorry to hear that, anon. Hopefully things will turn around soon.
>>
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>>3922447
>>3922461
>Pepperbox
oh neat, glad to see you liked em enough to mention them. 'rough' is certainly an applicable word for them, haha.

>>3922459
my current ideas for them is basically 'wandering looking for a cause' more or less, so undoubtedly so and with a trail of well meaning chaos behind them.
>>
>>3922469
hey i understand, take your time.
my own lifes been pretty brutal emotionally and is only going be be more brutal going forward for awhile, so i understand.
>>
>>3922447

>>"Not looking for trouble ma'am, and looking to enjoy Laoc, so I think we'll get along just fine."

>>Continue exploring with Lara, as you have a few more questions you’d like to ask her (Write-In).

>>Put forth your usual 'question for a question' exchange, if it helps get the ball rolling, though if she wants you're fine letting her ramble on.
>>Ask her about her time with the Crucible, and what lead her to her self positioned duty in the Forest, aswell as against the Hatter. though you can guess why she stood against her of course, how it got to that point interests you.
>>Maybe see about a cup of coffee, and if there's a place to chat about this that and the other. It's our family's day off, and it's nice to do something other than being in immediate danger for once.
>>
>>3922459
actually, amusingly it really is impossible to tell how far they would have traveled for that, as we have no confirmed idea actually of where most places actually are or where Shu and Co actually have been. i mean, we have guesses, but still. especially with the Waystations and teleportation, lordy knows things could get wonky. a casual visit to china quite literally not off the table, and minus ethnicity we actually would have no way of really knowing at first glance we had gone there with how waystations have so far been described.
>>
>>3922416
Welcome to the quest! May you have a pleasant reading. I recommend you read and savor the quest slowly before catching up, BHOP´s writing is phenomenal, and there aren't a lot of other places in the internet that reach that level.
>>
>>3922503
Sure, I was just commenting on them going out of their usual stomping grounds. The distance traveled wasn't what I found interesting, but that they had packed up and moved at all.
>>
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>>3922251
> The two bickering daughters...They are THE PAIR of gluttons, isn't it?
The pair of daughters with a gluttonous core that met, fought for ages, and then decided to team up, since none could kill the other? We all had a good laugh when BHOP told the tale, and anons elaborated on the absurd of the situation. Ah, the good memories....

Fun thing is, if I remember they moved on from fighting each other, to teaming up, to dating on....
Sooo, if I am correct, they are the famous Lesbian Gluttonous daughters that made us have a good laugh some threads ago. Nice to see they are alive and well.
>>
>>3922508
ah, well the last story i wrote was canonly just after Alamath and them moving out, so really wasn't anything else they could be doing.
>>
>>3922447
>>Insist on helping Laoc’s Mayor alongside Lara.
I just want to explore one of the greatest success stories on the fleshcape, and how they have managed to avoid a Monastery situation. I mean, most large groupings of daughters have been said to be VERY tricky to maintain, and even mid-sized parties like our family were considered unusual, so having a CITY that has lasted for long and keeps being functional is a must in my book. Lots of lessons, interesting tales and character exposition to be had here.

Plus, BHOP´s writing & worldbuilding is top notch, and he must have a lot of notes and plot hooks for us to explore. Just look at how detailed the descriptions are, you can almost taste the air! I think it is going to be worth our time, if not because we will be able to hear a lot of interesting tales and meet new people. Maybe get an extra daughter for the crew? BHOP said we had not yet met all of them...

MFW before Lara is actually available to join the party and we have a Rath-Lara crush, aka the "Forbidden Lava Lamp romance" XDDDD
>>
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>>3922282
>>3922294
>>3922295
>>3922298
>>3922302
>>3922304
I....have no problem with that, if it happens. I mean, Rath has been timidly crushing on Shu for a long time and we have been unable/unwilling to reciprocate (for understandable reasons), so maybe she should try to go on a date with other people?

But I think that the image is hilarious. Kudos to the ones spotting its comedic potential! XDD
>>
>>3922537
Laoc is hardly one of the greatest by far, it was described as one of the smaller settlements.

>Lava Lamp
oh dear lord what have you done, you know when you say things like that BHOP isnt afraid to make it canon, even if only on the skinternet, right!?
>>
>>3922540
We will see. For now she seems to be very attached to Carrols Forest so we would probably have to extend a network to there to make sure she could go there whenever. Maybe soem of the Spiritus Constructs could help guard the place and do some casual research on older crucibles.
>>
>>3922540
I thought we were able to reciprocate, we just never made any explicit moves for whatever reason. Judging by some of her fanfics, Gina ships it, and may be interested in her herself. BHOP even originally slated for them to become a couple.
>>
>>3922447
>>Continue exploring with Lara, as you have a few more questions you’d like to ask her
I'm more interested in talking to someone who actually wants to talk to us, even if the mayor is likely to be more useful. I'm really curious on why she is tied to the forest and what has she been doing if not talking to the trees?
>>
>>3922547
would have to figure out why she is so attached to it in the first place.

>>3922551
iffy territory, both on our willingness and her willingness. Gina doesn't count because shes horribly kinky and would probably be down for just about anything it seems. and not something im personally wanting us to go for myself either.
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>>3922555
sure its kinda what i voted for since i am actually quite curious myself as to why she chose to stay there even if it meant madness through the hunger and loneliness with only a monstorus neighbor that she hated

There must have been some strong convictions there to casue her to stay
>>
>>3922551
I've been seeing our responses to the situation as Shu not being against the idea, but being uncertain how to handle it. So she's kind of tentatively leaning into the shipping, but not making a definitive move yet because she doesn't want to accidentally do anything that would hurt Rath or Gina (even if Gina seems to be in favor of it, the reality would be more complicated).
>>
>>3922541
Welp. I didn't want to make any references to THAT lava lamp! I mean, it is just that we have done so many things, that unintended links start to appear!
Sorry sorry sorry....

Still, we have to explore the extent and capabilities of the skinternet (it is important to avoid & ambush West Sigma and other nasty organizations like Apex successfully, if push comes to shove) and our crew is sort of a celebrity, so basically we can estimate how much under surveillance we are by measuring the latency time until the Skinternet starts ship-posting frantically about Shu-Anyone in Laoc or Lara-rath, aka the .....
Sigh...I can't believe it....

"Forbidden Lava Lamp romance". Sometimes, you have to accept that some coincidences were just meant to happen, by the Omnissiah´s will. Let the sacred rites of ship-posting commence!
>>
>>3922510
(Ha, excellent catch. It's absolutely them, and while they're not yet dating and still belligerent to each other, I'm sure that will change.)

(Also, Rath x Lara would be called Volcarona.)
>>
>>3922541

>>Lava Lamp

Oh... oh gods... I'm dying. Especially with the radiant boils kind of wobbling around like the wax. These past two threads have been essentially the "beach" episode of this "season" and I'm here for it.

>>3922551
Gina is an incredible perv and enjoys the teasing, Rath is repressed six ways to Sunday.
It's a set up for incredible sexual tension, but not for a long term intimate relationship like we have with Gina. I personally am not against polyamorous relationships, but I don't recommend them for most folks, plus I know they're a hard "no" for a lot of other folks as well.
>>
>>3922558
sure. though obviously the Hatter was alot of it, interested in why she still feels she needs to stay. hardly seems anymore dangerous than anywhere else in the fleshscape, weird trees or not.

>>3922561
id say 'they have to actually meet first for that', but no, actually, this is shippers we're talking about. they'll ship anything if given so much as a speck of a reason to.

>'she glows and shes a moth. they were made for eachother. ignore they have never met and read my 300 page essay/fanfic about why they were made for eachother. no, this isnt an option, you WILL read it.'

>>3922567
>volcarona
had to look it up, but fair, it fits.
>>
(Oh my word, I just saw 'LavaLamp' and I'm dying. Well played, Gentlemen.)
>>
>>3922447
>>Continue exploring with Lara, as you have a few more questions you’d like to ask her (Write-In).
>What got her started guarding the forest? Hatter obviously was an evil thing, but how did Lara encounter her in the first place?
>Has she seen anything interesting in the trees' visions? Any neat milestones in the Crucible's history?
>What are her interests? Just get to know her as a person some.
>And of course, would she like to see Amara again, because I fucking need Amara's reaction to seeing Lara having pupated, you have to give this to me BHOP, please.
>>
>>3922567
What a coincidence, I've been thinking up a pokemon-themed daughter for a little while.

>>3922571
Guess it'll be up to Rath. We should have a sit down about it with her and Gina sometimes, when we don't have so much on our plate. Or during one of our three-way cuddle sessions.
>>
>>3922577
i forget, did we ever give Lara a Fuzzbuzz?
if not, even if just for aesthetics, im seeing a use for that 'firefly' family tech i posted earlier now...
>>
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>>3922567
Thanks! It is so nice when we have such cameos, makes the world feel large & alive. hen this quest finishes, I would be interested to know how LARGE it was and how many characters were interacting behind the "interaction matrix of doom" you have alluded to in the past.

You know, the one in which you roll for dozens to hundreds of NPCs and is the crunchy number-rolling core to the Crucible, while its fleshy exterior that is the fleshcape hides the glorious madness within ;-)

Hell, that would make for a good Tier5 relic. "The Matrix of Fate". Have a glimpse of the strands of fate, ye mighty, and despair!

TL;DR: I hope that one day, you will be able to tell us till WHICH extent this quest was a madly ambitious attempt at a "Yurei procedural world", rendered in motion by the mighty effort of hundred upon hundreds of hamster-powered dice-rolling machines. Seriously, after everything is said and done, enlighten us, please. There is a LOT to be learned from it.
>>
>>3922585
I think we left her with one as an apology for nearly murdering her but i dont remember anymore
>>
>>3922575
And then there are going to be Shu/Lara ships, too, based off of "they fought by accident but then Shu was so sweet and kind to her, and also float like a butterfly/sting like a bee, it makes so much sense".
>>
>>3922597
probably. what would that be, Lovebugs? BeeheMoth?
>>
>>3922602
Oh, those are both good. I was thinking Ali, because of the butterfly/bee joke, but those work better. BeeheMoth is the best one.
>>
>>3922585

I went back and checked i think we forgot to give her a fuzzbuzz. there was discussion of leaving a joyous clone with her for company btu i think that idea got scrapped as well
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>>3922618
ah, ok. thanks for looking.
then yeah, giving her a 'firefly' fuzzbuzz would be a good gift. or well, a touching gift, now im just imaging her spending like half her time just staring at the Fuzzbuzz like a fool haha.
>>
>>3922619
Maybe it should have an auto-off function so she would regain her sense quickly if she doesnt wind it up again after ten minutes. Or we make it a very gentle soft light that wont be to distracting
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>>3922622
could work. would make for a nice hand warmer too id imagine.
>>
>>3922622
And if it senses a potential threat approaching it starts flashing on and off while buzzing loudly, helps bring her out of any trance.
>>
(Gentlemen, it's going to be a short while before I can update, as some meetings are running late. Thank you for your patience, and I hope your day is going well.)
>>
>>3922660
take your time, and hope the meetings dont bore you to death Bhop!
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>>3922660
Sure take your time. Take care not to fall asleep if it gets to boring
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>>3922660
No worries, BHOP. Sorry you have meetings yet to get through.
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>>3922639
wonder if thats possible without some form of Relic? it would have to basically somehow be able to 'sense' a Daughters intentions and the activation of 'combat mode', technically before Laras even activates.
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>>3922619
>>3922622

It's usually dormant and only glows for a short time when jostled.

>>3922690

If it's also a Jackling that senses movement on/in the Fleshscape it could flash when someone is within its range. Could be an amalgam, a hunting daughter or a visiting friend. Either way it does the strobe flashing if anyone is in range that isn't Lara.
>>
>>3922690
I wasn't thinking it would sense intention, more just a response to sensing physical traits that could mean danger. Something big, or fast, or hot, etc. A FuzzBuzz is still a swarmling, after all, I'm sure it can pick up on things in its environment that could be dangerous.
>>
>>3922706
>>3922700
maybe, just seems a bit iffy on how it would actually work, especially when no longer active by us.

also its based on the assumption she cant actually control herself when necessary. which to be fair, we dont actually have proof she can or cannot yet, we'll see. funnily enough, wrapping back around, Rath might legitimately be a good test for that, seeing as how he eyes are always glowing now.
>>
Well i will be going to sleep now i have to get up in about 6 hours again and i at least try to keep a regular sleep schedule

So good night Anons
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>>3922726
Good night.
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>>3922722
oh wait oh god Raths eyes glow, and Lara clearly at least enjoys looking at lights. that uhh, that might be an interesting meeting for sure, yeah...
>Lara gets utterly transfixed on Raths eyes as the poor girl just wonders why this tall moth girl is practically drooling over here while refusing to break eye contact.
>>
>>3922726
Same for me. Good night anons!
If you can manage to top up the already amazing humor rating on this thread, it will be welcome.
Good night folks!
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>>3922731

This sounds terrible. It should never happen. Ever. For real. The two should never meet, and we should never watch to see how this plays out, all while our faint amusement at the situation and care for Rath slides across the empathic channel. No. Never. What do you mean I'm protesting too much?
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>>3922752
so... you're saying if it doesn't happen you will be upset then? right, ill add it to the list under 'Major' to make sure we know its importance.
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>>3922783

I'm okay with it either way, but I must admit I enjoy friendly teasing Rath. I never want it to be mean, but a flustered red-head is one of life's great adorable things.

Now I'm picturing Rath actually blushing, her skin starting to glow and Lara even more enraptured causing more blushing... until someone breaks the tension.

I'm now a Lara-Lamp ship-poster. Gina would be ?proud?
>>
>>3922828
Kosi probably. Ginas kinky, but its Kosi whos more into that sorta aspect of things.
>>
>>3922843
Kosi has been a bad influence on everyone who has heard her speak, the players included.
>>
>>3922850
truly, the greatest villain in the game has been under our nose this entire time. laughing in the darkest corner of the Dreamscape as she unabashedly encourages harems and aggressively ships with intent at creating actual relationships.
>>
>>3922447

"Not looking for trouble Ma'am. Just looking to enjoy Laoc, so I think we'll get along just fine." You say, a thought occurring to you as you start to realize you’re still a little…tired, despite your rest. “Hey, would you happen to know where we could get a cup of coffee? Or the closest approximation of one?”

“Sierra, at the tavern. She’ll set you up with a good brew.” Jeraha replies, pausing at the shop’s threshold. “Best in town, for sure.”

“Thanks. You take care. “You say, giving her an appreciative nod before she disappears into the darkened store, turning to Lara once Jeraha leaves. “Fancy a coff-?”

Her luminous eyes are wide and pleading, leaving zero question as to her desire for a warm cup of coffee.

“So tell me…” You begin, the two of you wandering back in the general direction of the town hall, catching snippets of the tall, imposing structure through the gaps in the buildings to help lead the way. “…why the forest? What’s your connection to it, even after everything with the Crucible?”

“Carroll’s Forest…it was my park. Well, I mean…I didn’t own it, obviously. I was a park ranger.” She explains, correcting herself. “It was my first big job out of college, and it was really nice. I helped on field trips, kept an eye on things…I was there, when the Crucible happened."

“It was still beautiful, even after it changed.” She adds softly. “There…there were people hurting, and I wasn’t just going to do nothing, even if everything in me was trying to pull me westward. Goodness, I can’t remember how long I spent out there, come to think of it. Heh, that’s a little scary.”

“From what I’ve gathered, it takes a lot of guts to resist the Cord’s pull.” You comment. “I’m impressed you’ve held out. Speaks to your strength of will, I’d say.”

“Oh, um…thank you.” She says, and you get the feeling she’s not someone that’s used to compliments. "It didn't take long for people that were resistant to the forest's effects to try and take refuge there...but after them came people with the same resistances, who saw an opportunity to prey on others. So...I did what I could to keep people safe, like I did before."

"Were Daughters like the Hatter common?" You ask, and a sudden wave of revulsion pulses across your channel.

"Um...yes, and no. There were plenty before her that were ruthless, but none so...predatory." She explains, her voice thick with disgust. "She was...monstrous. In so many ways. If I could have dragged her out in the open, had a full-on fight with her? I could've taken her easily, but she'd never allow that. We fought for...weeks? Months? It's fuzzy, at this point. But yeah, there were a lot of bad people that used the forest...none as bad as her, though. Thank you. Just...thank you, Shu."

"My pleasure...I'm glad you can rest easy, now." You say, shuddering at the very memory of the vermin.

(Continued)
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>>3922969

"...Scared off a bear, once." Lara says, quickly changing the subject. "That was the second-scariest thing I had to face off against in my time there. First was a rabid raccoon that charged me. Had to put the little guy down with my rifle...that was sad."

"You good with a gun?" You ask, the street opening up into a vast area, at the center of which stands the imposing city hall, its windows glowing, lit from within by some source of soft yellow light.

"Oh, I got by. My dad was a cop, and he used to take me hunting, fishing, and all that." Lara replies, glancing down at her hands as you both reach the blocky staircase that leads up to a set of old, massive doors. "Don't think I could work a gun or a fishing pole with these, though. But hey, on the bright side they're an improvement on my little pincers!"

You...you wouldn't call her previous form's scythe-like blades 'little' by any stretch of the imagination, but at least she seems pleased at her development. Striding up the steps, you haul open the heavy oak doors and hold them for Lara to stoop through, and just when you’re about to step into the main area proper when you’re given pause by a large sign standing before you, right beside an odd assortment of bizarre and familiar items.

‘Please leave Relics by the door’ it reads, and beneath it you note one or two items you recognize as belonging to Rath, along with November’s Dainsleif leaning against the wall. Curiously, beside them are a set of matching Relics you don’t recognize; six onyx firearms, consisting of twin semi-auto pistols, a double-barreled shotgun, some compact submachine gun, a hefty revolver, and a long rifle, sans scope. Their sleek barrels and oiled chambers are painstakingly engraved with ornate depictions of angelic beings, giving a heavenly air to the six black guns.

Glancing back up at the sign, you reluctantly unholster the Contender and nestle it among the obsidian weapons, its ivory exterior standing in stark contrast to its fellows as you enter the tavern with Lara at your side. While the mezzanine was cramped the actual bar is cavernous, a long bar with over two dozen stools lined up alongside it to your left, with five or six large circular tables and some assorted smaller ones to your right. A worn, clearly refurbished jukebox is tucked into the far corner, with a Neuromantic interface evident in the strips of glowing skin that are threaded in and out of the gaps in the machine...and that's not the only thing that's glowing in the room. To your pleasant surprise, the first face you see is Rath's, with your brawler sliding off the bar-stool and running over to welcome you with a grin on her face and a pint in her hand.

(Continued)
>>
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>>3922980

“Hey! Guess who we…” Rath begins with a grin, one that’s immediately replaced with an expression of awe as Lara rises to full height behind you. “…w-whoa. Uh…who’s…?”

“Rath, this is Lara, from Carroll’s Forest. She’s…uh…Lara?” You say as you glance between the two of them. The sight of the tall woman has widened Rath’s eyes to the approximate size of Julia’s tea saucers…the sight of which has promptly rendered Lara slack-jawed, the much shorter girl’s eyes radiating a bright orange glow.

“We…we came to get some coffee.” You say, waiting for a break of eye contact that just doesn’t seem to be forthcoming as you wait awkwardly beside the two awestruck girls. “So…so where do we order, exactly?”

“Right here, sweetie.” Says a woman that's stood up from behind the bar, tilting her faceless head in a nod of greeting. She's wearing a sharp top and matching pants befitting a bartender, while her face and limbs appear to be made of some amorphous material, giving her a shifting, pliable form not unlike Dorian's. Her hands and face each possess a single large blue eye, oddly-shaped and unblinking as they stare at you from across the pristine wooden bar.

"Sierra, I presume?" You ask, noting the shopkeeper known as Ruth at the far end of the bar, nursing a full mug of some frothy liquid.

"Guilty as charged." She chuckles, spreading her arms as the misshapen tendrils that are her fingers twitch and coil about each other. "So, what'll it be?"

"Two coffees. Cream and sugar, if you have it." You answer, nothing Lara and Rath's continued silence as Sierra tilts her head at your request, her question fairly obvious.

"Not too picky as to how it's flavored." You add, prompting a chuckle from somewhere within the woman's face.

“Ha, smart girl. Coming right up, sweetie.” Sierra replies, arms undulating as new tendrils begin to prepare a fresh pot behind her back while her torso’s still turned towards you. “Would you like to open a tab, or…?”

“Whatever they’re having, it’s on me.”

You turn, finding the tall, lissome owner of the familiar voice to have fixed you with a smirk, a lit cigarette trailing curls of smoke to the ceiling of the warmly-lit tavern.

“Hey there, kiddo.” Magpie drawls, surrounded by a small swarm of floating forest-green eyes. “Long time, no see.”

(Continued)
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>>3922985

"Hey, yourself. What're you doing out here?" You ask, reaching out your hand for a shake, which the raven-haired sniper obliges as November strides up behind her.

"Could ask you the same thing." Magpie replies, jerking a thumb back that almost hits Heather Neeson's chest. "This fine piece of work was giving me a recap before you barged in. How the hell you been, Shu?"

"Good, actually." You answer, surprised at the honesty of your reply. It really has been a good day, you realize. "Very good. You?"

"Working." She fires back, and you notice the two bandoliers she's sporting; one over her shoulder and one across her waist, each and every one of their slots filled with various types of custom rounds. You're about to ask for some specifics when a burst of rapid apologies erupts behind you, Rath and Lara having finally realized their mutual entrancement and its embarrassing length.

“Uh…what’s up with them?” November whispers, leaning down to your level when she notices the back-and-forth of awkward apologies.

“Moth to a flame, I’d wager.” Magpie grins. Half of her floating eyes trained on the pair, while the other half are aimed squarely at you, their unblinking gaze as unnerving as ever.

"The others are on their way, minus Julia and Dorian." November says a little too loudly, trying to catch Rath's attention. "When I told them an old friend was here, they said they'd run right over once they'd wrapped some things up."

You're looking forward to seeing Amara's reaction to Lara's shiny new form, and having a drink with everyone sounds like it might be nice. Until they arrive, though...you think some conversation is in order.

>>Catch up with Magpie while you wait for the others to arrive…and let Rath and Lara stand in awe of each other for at least a little while longer.

>>Break up the goofy tension around Rath and Lara, since you'd like to keep talking to the freshly-winged park ranger while you have the chance.

>>Let everyone chat while you have a seat at the bar and talk with Sierra. She seems the friendly sort, and you may as well try to gather some info and rumors while you wait for the gang to arrive.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, Gentlemen. Thank you for your patience with the timing of this update, and for the well-wishes; I appreciate both of them immensely.)
>>
>>3922991
>>Catch up with Magpie while you wait for the others to arrive…and let Rath and Lara stand in awe of each other for at least a little while longer.

Hah, never give BHOP an idea, though well written indeed it was.
>>
>>3922980
>Curiously, beside them are a set of matching Relics you don’t recognize; six onyx firearms, consisting of twin semi-auto pistols, a double-barreled shotgun, some compact submachine gun, a hefty revolver, and a long rifle, sans scope. Their sleek barrels and oiled chambers are painstakingly engraved with ornate depictions of angelic beings, giving a heavenly air to the six black guns.
Huh, Magpie went all anime on us. Were these in storage and unavailable for Spiraling Fear fight?

>>3922980
>>Catch up with Magpie while you wait for the others to arrive…and let Rath and Lara stand in awe of each other for at least a little while longer.
>"It's nice to see you again. Even though it's only been...what, four days, five?...since last time. God, so much has happened this past week. I befriended a giant ant, did November get to that part yet?"
>"But enough about me, what have you been up to? You said you were working, got anyone interesting on the bounty boards?"
>Not to be put in sequentially after this, just a question to ask where it would fit in the conversation: "So those guns by the door are yours, I take it? Very stylish. Where'd you get those from?"
>>
>>3923018
(Yes, they were locked away.)
>>
>>3923003
was me out getting food.
chick-fil-a is waaay too good damnit.

>>3923003
>>3922991
adding on;
>"Glad to see you again Magpie. what all's November filled you in on so far?"
>If anything important you think she should know isnt said, fill her in with the post-it notes version, unless she pries for more details.
>"so, what have you been up to? You said you were working, got anyone or anything interesting on the bounty boards? anything interesting happen otherwise?"
>>
>>3922991
>"Sierra, I presume?" You ask, noting the shopkeeper known as Ruth at the far end of the bar, nursing a full mug of some frothy liquid.
Gaah, another plot thread.

>>Catch up with Magpie while you wait for the others to arrive…and let Rath and Lara stand in awe of each other for at least a little while longer.
Is my vote though, she's likely to know something about at least one of the people of interest we've heard about.
I am conflicted on what we should fill Magpie in on though, she seems trustworthy but we're in a public place and the walls literally have ears. I would definitely avoid mentioning hunting West at the least, unless we're trying to bring her to our door right now. Even the ant queen seems like a touchy topic though, you have to assume anything we say is immediately public knowledge. I don't want someone hunting her down for the augment/sport of it.

If we can talk privately using Gina's neuromancy or something, enlisting her help on West could be a big help.
>>
>>3923081
>Gaah, another plot thread.
yeah, BHOPs giving us some interesting sounding characters to get to know, but think of it like this; meeting new people, even under the best of circumstances, is still more effort than catching up with old friends, and we're supposed to be taking it easy.

Hope no hard feelings BHOP, but we have plenty to do and talk to as it is at the moment, without throwing getting to meet strangers into the mix, at least for now.
>>
>>3923081
>Even the ant queen seems like a touchy topic though, you have to assume anything we say is immediately public knowledge. I don't want someone hunting her down for the augment/sport of it.
Given that we met the Ant Queen in an area not occluded from Skintalking, her existence should already be public knowledge. The fandom would know about her from watching the Shu Show. Which actually means that even without that exchange of levels letting her use Trypophilic Hive, people would know "don't mess with the Pyre Ants if you don't want Shu after you". So that's good.

>>3923091
Plus, socially-speaking, it's rather rude to meet back with a friend and then wander off to go speak with this new person you just saw. Not even one that was inserted into the conversation naturally, but someone who you had to actively interrupt the reunion to go talk to. Let's hang out with Magpie, talk to Ruth another time. Maybe visit her shop after the bar time.
>>
>>3923091
>>3923081
>>(That face when you're just trying to preserve continuity by having the woman that was directed to go to the bar actually be at the bar, and you came up with her exactly thirty seconds before she appeared in the Quest.)
>>
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>>3923109
wait? really? that doesn't sound like the BHOP we know!
quickly, everyone! scramble change votes to talk to Ruth, get BHOP to have to hastily flesh her out!

im joking of course.
>>
Oh my god I finally made it, I've been reading these threads from the suptg archives for well over a month and I just wanna say I absolutely adore your writing skill, BHOP. I am however fully new to 4chan in general, so I'm sorry if there's some sort of blood ritual I need to take part in first. Getting the chance to actually comment here takes priority over sacrificing my goat.
>>
>>3923164
nah, the only thing id have recommended was reading this or any other quest before you try and join, but, well, you just said you did that, so moot suggestion. Glad to have ya though. feel free to ask any questions if you have them, bout 4chan or the Quest. id recommend reading the /ast/ stickied thread, though nothing in it is particularly needed for this quest, besides maybe spoilers.
>>
>>3923164
Nope, you can just join in whenever. Welcome to the quest, anon. I'm glad to have you here.
>>
>>3923164
(Thank you so much for your kind words, and welcome to the Quest! If you have any questions then please feel free to ask, and I hope you enjoy where things go from here.)
>>
>>3923173
And it is a goddamn pleasure to finally be here, witnessing this all unfold and maybe, if I get the courage, contribute.
>>3923172
what's this about /ast/? If it's a board, I don't see it around here, unless it's directly under my nose. Aside from that, I'm figuring things out as I explore, but thank you.
>>3922991
>>Catch up with Magpie while you wait for the others to arrive…and let Rath and Lara stand in awe of each other for at least a little while longer.
Also have a vote for now at least
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>>3923199
whoops, i misstyped, that was supposed to be /qst/, as in the board we are on now.
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>>3923203
oshit
I took a peek and everything seems to be legit, also when you have /qst/, do you really even need other boards? Aside from /tg/ maybe.
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>>3923209
there was a great schism back when quests were allowed on /tg/ a few years back which forced the hands of the mods to create /qst/ as a containment board
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>>3923209
depends on your interests really.
honestly /tg/ is kinda shit overall. for being a board mainly about creative endeavors, they the least open to differing ideas and opinions ive seen so far, and boy, I browse /POL/ sometimes.
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>>3923216
I heard about that, and to be honest I can understand. Plus, it gives a tiny bit more leeway with saging threads since it's not competing with /tg/ stuff for space.
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>>3923164
welcome to the crucible. keep your hunger in check and buckle down. you’re in for the wild ride.
care to give us some of your favorite moments that you’ve read in the blood archives?
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>>3923271
Honestly, I can't think of a single moment that I can call my FAVORITE, there were just bunches of moments that all made me feel more concentrated fuckawesome than I expected quantum physics to allow. But if I had to name an iconic few, it'd be the fight versus B'ni in Almath, the siege of Kosi's cancer fortress, and the utter fuckfest that was Julia's 20 ACTs all going off inside Yurei's thoroughly expanded rectum.
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>>3922991

Hope I'm not late for voting.

>>Catch up with Magpie while you wait for the others to arrive…and let Rath and Lara stand in awe of each other for at least a little while longer.
>>Chuckle softly. "Sure, but Rath is always like that with gorgeous amazon ladies. How have things been with you, Mara, and work, unless it's all hush hush?"
>>Nod over to the check-in. "At some point I'd love to compare shooting techniques. Seems I ended up a bit of a gunslinger myself."
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>>3923091
>>3923109
Yeah its only a good thing. Even if she was just created (which is hilarious btw) I know if we all suddenly decided we needed to talk to her it would still be interesting. It's one of the big strengths of the story and the medium.

>>3923107
That's a very good point. Hopefully the level exchange and power of her augment is still on the down low then.

>>3923164
Welcome, I was in the same boat you are like a month ago, no one's asked me for a blood sacrifice yet.
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>>3922991

"It's nice to see you again. Want to grab a seat?" You ask, and the slender woman just nods, following you to the end of the bar closest to the door. "It's only been...what, four days, five?...since last time we saw each other. God, so much has happened this past week."

"Heh, you got that right." She mutters, making a motion with her hand that prompts sierra to uncork a bottle of something caramel-colored and undoubtedly potent, sliding the freshly filled glass to the sniper with one hand while gently stirring your freshly-brewed coffee with the other.

"I befriended a giant ant." You throw out there, cupping your mug in your hands when Sierra presents it to you. "Did November get to that part yet?"

"...Ha, the fuck?" Magpie laughs, and you catch the scent of bourbon on her breath well before she's taken a sip from her very full glass.

"It's true. In the end, FuzzBuzz has got more game than any of us." You chuckle, taking a luxurious sip of your perfect brew. "So, tell me what November *did* catch you up on, and we'll go from there."

She recounts what she's been told, which has some Ozmas- and Francine-shaped gaps...good to know the old soldier's intel game is on par with her field skills.

"So, yeah. Been busy, it seems." Magpie finishes, doing her glass the same favor before motioning for another.

"But enough about me, what have you been up to?" You counter, trying not to make yourself the focal point of your catch-up. "You said you were working, got anyone interesting on the bounty boards?"

Magpie just shrugs as Sierra refills her glass, and the raven-haired woman gives the bartender a tilt of her head by way of thanks before answering your question.

"Couple of good ones. No names you'd recognize, but I'm making progress." She replies, nodding to herself before leveling a long finger in the direction of the door. "How's she treating you? You keeping her clean?"

"Wh...oh, the Contender?" You say, momentarily confused. "Yeah, she's great. Speaking of, those guns by the door are yours, I take it? Very stylish. Where'd you get those from?"

"Made them myself, a while back. Last thing Mara and I made together." She says, her tone surprisingly flat as, just past her, the woman at the other end of the bar squints across the space. "Kinda fuckin' poetic, now that I think about it."

"Um...excuse me? Miss?" Ruth pipes up, trying to be heard over Rath and Lara's conversation. Magpie just cocks her head in the woman's general direction, aiming her ear towards the tired-looking shopkeep.

"There were some Apex girls that were hassling me..." Ruth begins, concern for your companion evident in her tone. "...asking if I'd seen a blind woman with a lot of guns. Said they had some sort of b-"

(Continued)
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>>3923352

"...Good to know! I'll keep an eye out for them, heh." Magpie replies with a smirk as the assorted eyes roll around in the air, and she promptly catches Sierra's attention with a languid wave of her hand. "Her next one&#