[a / b / c / d / e / f / g / gif / h / hr / k / m / o / p / r / s / t / u / v / vg / w / wg] [i / ic] [r9k] [cm / hm / y] [3 / adv / an / cgl / ck / co / diy / fa / fit / hc / int / jp / lit / mlp / mu / n / po / pol / sci / soc / sp / tg / toy / trv / tv / vp / x] [rs] [status / ? / @] [Settings] [Home]
Board:  
Settings   Home
4chan
/qst/ - Quests


Your name is Shu, and you’ve come a long way at the end of the world.

The world as you knew it is long gone, consumed from without by a ravenous being from beyond the stars. Humanity’s been reshaped into a vicious, feral thing by the Crucible, their bodies twisted into raging beasts of muscle and bone, voices and minds warped into tools of war. The Daughters—combatants elected by the Crucible to fight and devour their fellows to reach even the apex of hideous strength—are perhaps the lucky ones, granted the freedom of choice in a world where most humans, flora, and fauna have been melted down into a carpet of raw biomass that’s pulled taut across our world.

Like every other Daughter in existence, you can feel the pull—gnawing at your bones, pulling every fiber of your being towards the tether between a mutilated earth and an alien sky. You call it the Cord, and it’s said that reaching it’s summit will grant the Crucible’s victor the power to reshape all that is into all that will be.

A siren’s song, beckoning you to the end of all things…

…but you’ll fight it, and anything else that would dare to drown out humanity’s future.

A hive of fist-sized wasps was your first weapon, and by no means your last. Your skin can twist and coil into drills that can pierce through stone, your blood can entangle itself like a noose around those that would inflict cruelty, and the flesh at your feet bends to your will, and your will alone.

But by far your greatest weapon has been the allies, friends, and family you’ve gathered along your way to world’s end…and with them by your side, in just a few short weeks the world now knows your name.

You’ve been a busy bee, no pun intended—you’ve befriended one of the three most powerful Amalgams alive, are currently traveling with a powerful fellow Hive Mistress, and you’re now in the company of a Skintalker whose uncanny base of operations teeters dangerously close to the Cord, yet thrives all the same…

…and it’s on the doorstep of her unlikely settlement that you find yourself faced with a declaration that’s caught you off-guard.

****

Previous Vein: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/5004033/

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

Character Abilities: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1p_asyKKcyCbQieAAXo1oogBucLtzSypx8-M9vqA96zE/edit#gid=1685687578

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

Relics, Ver. 7: https://pastebin.com/kHzW2hbd

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

Character Profiles: https://pastebin.com/eL2zTZ4f

Quest Fan Works: https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1comL20X2jUrPO0p7QMdFinwAwdXHre2F9A5bdXif7_k/mobilebasic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bodyhorrorquest?lang=en
>>
File: Paloma.jpg (177 KB, 1303x2048)
177 KB
177 KB JPG
“E-excuse me?” You stammer, dumbfounded by the words that the girl before you just uttered. She laughs, and it’s a high, joyful thing as her brown eyes shine in the Crucible’s eternal dusk.

“I said that we’re going to help you save the world.” Paloma repeats with a bright smile, her head of security just shaking her head with a smirk just behind her…and lurking behind them both, the Ikea just sits there, pristine and peerless in spite of the alien surroundings. It’s a fittingly stark punctuation to the other woman’s bold pronouncement.

“But you’ve never met me.”

“Oh, but everyone who’s anyone knows you by now! You’re a legend!” She fires back with a playful wink, her fingers threading together as she starts to clench her hands excitedly. “From the Monastery, to Laoc, to the cults, to Arcadia…gah, I could go on. But I won’t! C’mon, I know you’ve all traveled far, so come on in and get comfy-cozy!”

Without waiting for protest, she waves for you and your family to follow her towards the Ikean Fortress, gesturing to a distant side-door to indicate the hangar for the rumbling Metall Geschoss. November turns to you for guidance, and you give the chrome cyborg a cautious nod. Francine hangs back to partner up with her friend while the rest of you march down the valley’s gentle curve, slowly making your way to the sprawling structure that only seems to grow with every step forwards.

“Nerada?” You whisper, garnering the attention of the most out-of-place among you—a pale young child in an antiquated dress, and fellow Hive Mistress with an innumerable swarm of living shadows at her beck and call.

“Yes Ma’am?” She politely replies, and for all your twenty-some-odd years you feel absolutely ancient when she utters those two devastating words.

“Paloma said that the Fortress is pretty busy.” You echo, gathering what’s left of your dignity as you address the girl that’s maybe a third of your age. “Do you want to stay out here while we go in, like we talked about?”

She hesitates, fidgeting in place before she relents with a slow nod. Well at least that bit’s settled…but as for how best to handle your enthusiastic host, well…

…you have a plan for that.

>>Choose a team to take into the Ikea and who should stay behind to keep Nerada company (Write-In).

>>You want to get a better feel for Paloma before you waltz in to her territory—if she’s reasonable, she won’t object to talking outside for a little while.

>>Send a team inside the Ikea while you take a moment to get to know Nerada…and maybe take a lap or two around the Ikea, for reconnaissance’s sake.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Good Morning, Everyone. I hope you had a peasant week and a restful Halloween weekend, and it’s good to be back. I started working from home yesterday, so barring any odd issues I should have a relatively clear schedule with which to post. Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in approximately four.)

(Also, Happy Belated Halloween, Everyone.)
>>
>>5045066
gah, it feels really bad to just leave Nerada outside by herself. I certainly dont want to just abandon her but at the same time its just as rude to leave our hosts waiting too long.

but i thiiink i kinda have a compromise.

vote;
>You dont want to leave Nerada alone and waiting just yet.
>Quietly or at least subtly tell Paloma you want to take a bit to try and figure out a better solution for Nerada than just making her wait alone or wander off alone again, but in the meantime you trust Gina and Rath to get the tour and rundown on your behalf, and you'll meet up for a more in depth discussion soon.
>ask Dorian to join you and see if Amara wants to aswell, though no pressure if she really wants to see the Ikea.
>Use the excuse of wanting to inspect the area around the Ikea to take Nerada on a walk, taking a route that will end at the garage.
>Ask Nerada to join you, saying you think her shadows would be very useful in seeing whats about or if anything suspicious is going on.

>after starting the both legitimate but mostly excuse inspection, start up a conversation with Nerada when appropriate.
>"So... not a fan of crowds? hey, nothing to be ashamed of. ive seen crowds go south too, not pretty."

basically just ice breaking to try and hash out some details, before maybe inviting her to the Roost or something. maybe now we cant really fix her being alone but maybe we can at least leave off giving her something to look forward too instead of just hanging her out to dry.
>>
File: 1635402593899.jpg (145 KB, 782x888)
145 KB
145 KB JPG
>>5045069
it was a decent enough week. alot was going on actually from work on a new setting and system to butchering my first chicken and an ongoing battle with a hawk preying on my younger chickens and driving me up a wall trying to deal with it.

so all and all a very mixed week.

but regardless, happy belated halloween to you aswell.
>>
>>5045066
>“Yes Ma’am?” She politely replies, and for all your twenty-some-odd years you feel absolutely ancient when she utters those two devastating words.
Worse, we're technically younger than Nerada is. We are the youngest person in his group, and ideally we're the youngest person in the entire Crucible because the idea of a genuine infant in this nightmare place is deeply troubling. Like, a pre-verbal infant with the Hunger and biomorphic killing powers would probably wind up indistinguishable from a Hunger-mad Daughter even if it was getting enough food, right? It barely has object permanence, it doesn't realize that it's murdering people. Man, I do not like this mental image I've conjured for myself.

Anyways!

>>Send a team inside the Ikea while you take a moment to get to know Nerada…and maybe take a lap or two around the Ikea, for reconnaissance’s sake.
>>Write-In
>Apologize to Paloma for not immediately coming in. Nerada doesn't like large groups, and we don't want to scare her off. Can she warn the people inside not to crowd Nerada, if we do convince her to come in?
>Have Gina, Rath and Francine head inside. They're our tech girls, anyway, they'll be best to judge the Fortress' mobility proposal.
>Go for a walk around the Ikea with Nerada, Amara, and Dorian. Inspect the foundations, make sure everything is safe, also ask Nerada about herself some more.
>Once we're done with our walk/inspection, ask Amara and Orwell what they know about Paloma. Amara watches her stream, and Orwell might even know her as a fellow streamer (she does, but IC we don't know that). Is she serious about turning the Ikea into some sort of land-ship?


>>5045069
Happy Halloween, BHOP. Glad to hear that things shouldn't be so hectic for you today. And as always, good to be here in the meat apocalypse.
>>
>>5045066
>Send a party of Swarmlings inside the Ikea while you take a moment to get to know Nerada…and maybe take a lap or two around the Ikea, for reconnaissance’s sake.

I need to remember what kinds of Swarlings Shu has, to build an adventuring party out of them.
>>
>>5045101
Knight/Bishop/Rook is already a decent DPS/support/tank setup.
>>
>>5045101
theres a link to that in BHOPs opening post.
>>
>>5045069
Well shit.
Boy have I got a horror story for you.

I had to get a root canal done on one of my teeth over the week. The scary part? I had no insurance and had to pay over $1k out of my pocket.

On the plus side, the muse for Cradleton's being more active and snippets of inspirational dialogue scenes have been making their appearances on the word doc for the rewrite.

I just hope I manage to finish the story before the quest itself finishes.
>>
>>5045118
damn son, that burns.
dont have insurance myself so had to pay out of pocket for new contacts too. it was bad, but not 1000 bucks bad.
>>
>>5045118
Well, damn, that is awful on several accounts. I'm sorry to hear that, anon.
>>
>>5045092
(Oof, hawks are no joke. Back where I grew up, we had to contend with wild dogs and copperhead snakes if you wanted to raise any sort of animal, so I feel you with aggressive wildlife.)

>>5045118
(Oh, I'm so sorry...I do hope you feel better soon, and I'm glad the muse is being more active, at least!)
>>
>>5045151
(Huh, name fell off.)
>>
>>5045066

Supporting>>5045097


>>5045118
Ouch man..... on several accounts. I really hope you will have no complications at least.

>>5045069
week was alright. I retired a Charakter i have been playing for some time now last friday. I really liked her but i no longer liked the way the GM was handling things and was generally losing my fun at that particular game with that GM. The character was crazy enough that she had a dark seducer and a golden saint created from her self inflicted splintering of her soul. but i sill loved her.

And on saturday i had the pleasure to slowly roast my players over the fire as they tried to gain entry into a heavily guarded tomb and trying not to create to much destruction since they will be paid more.

So i say a good week though no one came for halloween.... i even placed candy outside..... and i really dont want to eat it. That would counteract my goals in signing up for a gym membership quite heavily.

>I started working from home yesterday

is this gonna be an arrangement for the forseeable future?
>>
(Finishing up now, everyone. It's been a busy day, but a productive one.)
>>
File: Nerada, Playful.jpg (147 KB, 850x1250)
147 KB
147 KB JPG
>>5045066

“Paloma? A quick word, if I may.”

Your host’s curious brown eyes round on you as you draw near, and with an apologetic tone, you whisper; “Hey, the little one back there’s named Nerada, and she prefers to not be around large groups. We don’t want to overwhelm her or scare her off, so could you warn the people inside to not crowd her, when and if we can convince her to come in? I hate to dela-“

“Say no more!” The other girl dismisses, her smile ever-widening. “Take your time, there’s no rush! I’ll let everyone know to keep a distance so she’s not stressed out, so just come on in when you’re ready!”

With an appreciative nod to the Skintalker, you lock eyes with Gina and silently fill her in on your plan for her, Rath, and Francine to independently assess the Fortress’ mobility potential. Threading her arm through Rath’s, GG takes the lead with the sputtering redhead and most of your Dream Daughters in tow…save for B’ni, that is. The slight, dark-haired girl hangs back, nonchalantly sidling up to you as you beckon for Amara, Dorian, and Orwell to join you in a leisurely lap around the Ikea.

Reconnaissance and conversation. Two swarmlings, one stone.

“Thank you.” Nerada murmurs a minute or two into your initial lap, drawing your attention away from the sheer walls of the fort as you marvel at their peerless edifice.

“Hey, don’t mention it.” You reply with a smile, hands in your dress pockets as you continue your walk—Amara on your right, Nerada on your left. “I appreciate you being upfront with me. I’d have hated to drag you into a place you weren’t comfortable in.”

“Mhm.” She says, her appreciative (and embarrassed) hum barely audible over the rustle of wheat-like hair as a warm breeze flits across the plains that surround you.

“So, tell me a little more about yourself.” You prompt, switching gears as you try to avoid Nerada turtling up with embarrassment.

“Um…what do you want to know?” She asks with a shrug, and Amara’s all too happy to jump the gun.

“Do you have a Halo!?”

The other girl startles a bit, then nods before closing her eyes. When she opens them again, her left eye’s turned a glossy black, a paradoxically dark light pouring from the stygian socket.

“What does it do, exactly?” You ask, and when Nerada blinks her eye reverts to its original, innocent shade.

“Um…it lets me do anything my swarmlings can do. I’ve got all their powers for free. Oh! And I don’t have to worry about that dumb swarmling limit any more. That’s really nice.”

“Quite useful, I must say.” Dorian says approvingly, a kind smile on his face...while B’ni wears a decidedly neutral one, her eyes locked on the child at your side.

“Ohh, I want one like that!” Amara crows with envy before Orwell laughs just behind you.

“Oh, I think you've got enough anime references under your belt as-is, superfan.”

(Continued)
>>
>>5045276

“This place is big.” Your fellow hive Mistress muses aloud, gazing up at the sheer wall that makes up the back of the fort, its stark blue cast a violet shade by the Crucible’s scarlet dusk. “Is it deep, too?”

A good question, and one you’re keen to answer as you tentatively terraform the ground at your feet. The answer; not by much, aside from the foundations. The fact that it’s literally *just* a building is perhaps more unsettling that finding roots, or perhaps some large Amalgam lurking just beneath your feet like a Swedish hermit crab.

“Hey!” Nerada perks up as she rounds on Amara. “Wanna race? Like, around the fort?”

“With powers?!”

“Of course!”

“I can officiate.” Dorian offers, winking at you as he steps forwards, lightning crackling around his sharp frame.

“I don’t know what that means, but sure!” Nerada excitedly replies. The three of them quickly establish some ground rules as you turn to Orwell with a question on your lips.

“So…tell me about Paloma.” You begin, glancing over to find B’ni still observing Nerada in stony silence. “I know Amara follows her streams."

“Subscribes to her story. Paloma posts pictures.” Orwell gently corrects you, suppressing the smile that plays on her lips. “And yeah; Paloma’s up there, as far as Skinternet personalities are concerned. Not so much on account of her content, but more of the fact that she’s in charge of most Daughters’ second-to-last stop on the way to the Cord.”

“Hell of a place, this.” You mutter a half-second before a burst of wind and the smell of ozone heralds the races’ start, with the three participants having disappeared around the building’s corner by the time you look their way.

“I met her once, actually. Paloma, I mean.” Orwell informs you as she shoves her hands in her pockets. “She’s…nice. Really talkative. Get a decent vibe from her, I guess.”

“So why don’t you like her?” You ask, picking up her clearly ambivalent tone.

“Eh, she wanted to team up. I wanted to do more of a solo thing. She’s kinda pushy, but…she’s fine. I think I was just not in the right headspace for it at the time.” The lanky teen replies with a shrug, before a smirk slashes past her lips. “Guess I’m not a solo act anymore, huh?”

“For what it’s worth? I’m glad you’re here, Orwell.” You say honestly, and she just snorts, trucking a strand of blonde hair behind one ear as she tries to distract from her awkward smile. Amara and Nerada dart around the Ikea for a third time with Dorian in hot pursuit, with B’ni’s sharp green eyes following their every move as Orwell cheers them all on.

>>Let Nerada tire herself out a bit more before you head in to the Ikean Fortress.

>>Ask Orwell a bit more—she seems a little more open than usual.

>>Touch base with B’ni…she’s just as quiet as usual, but she’s rarely this intense.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Apologies for the wait, everyone. Just working out some kinks in the work-from-home setup. Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in four.)

>>5045163
(The management was dragging its heels in fixing the mold issue downstairs, so I took over and arranged for a crew to rip out the walls and renovate the basement that flooded. They were all to happy to let me do it, since I tend to get results when it comes to arranging things. So, me working from here is just a temporary thing until my workplace smells a little more like work and a little less like a swamp.)
>>
>>5045278
vote;
>Touch base with B’ni…she’s just as quiet as usual, but she’s rarely this intense.
>"hey... everything ok? you good?"
>"...something about Nerada not sitting right with you... because of you, or because of her?"

>>5045281
always 'nice' when people drag their feet, no?
>>
>>5045276
>“Do you have a Halo!?”
Oh, blunt. Well, okay, neat to know what the Hive Halo does, though. Explains how Nerada can manage to be the endless shadow swarm. I want one.

>“Ohh, I want one like that!” Amara crows with envy before Orwell laughs just behind you.
You do. Your right eye's been glowing ever since you fused Neurotic Halo with Hollow Clone for Joyous Many. You're basically the inverse of Nerada. Go and be shonen anime rivals with each other.

>while B’ni wears a decidedly neutral one, her eyes locked on the child at your side
Huh, that's...worrying. B'Ni, everything alright? You worried someone's going to target Nerada to take her Halo for themselves? Guess that's yet more cause to get her somewhere safe to stay.

>>5045278
>Eh, she wanted to team up. I wanted to do more of a solo thing.
Oh, really now? A "solo thing", despite having a bodyguard? I'm onto you, Orwell. You're not really here, this is your projection!

>>Touch base with B’ni…she’s just as quiet as usual, but she’s rarely this intense.
>>
>>5045281
Well, that sucks that you had to handle it yourself, but I'm glad that it's going smoothly enough. And that your employers trust you to handle things, even if their own passivity must be frustrating.
>>
>>5045278

>>"She does seem pretty zealous...... what do you think the chances are to stop her from throwing this fortress at the cord?"
then
>>Touch base with B’ni…she’s just as quiet as usual, but she’s rarely this intense.
>"What is on your mind? Are you good?"
>"Or is something bothering you? Is it still you know who.... or something about Nerada? Did it bring up any memories?"

>>5045281
good to know but bad since management apparently could not make their mind up when it is fucking vital to make sure their employees do not get sick from mold

>>5045286
oh i really would like to ask her if she would be willing to give us a copy of it........ that seems so freaking useful if we can get everything our swamrlings get........ Imagine Shu with Flamethrowes spinning around on drills
>>
>>5045278
>>>Touch base with B’ni…she’s just as quiet as usual, but she’s rarely this intense.
>>
>>5045278
>Touch base with B’ni…she’s just as quiet as usual, but she’s rarely this intense.
>>
>>5045278
So Nerada has the Hive Mistress halo. I was hoping we'd stumble across it during the quest so Shu could have it, but this is the second best outcome - in the hands of a nice young lady who won't abuse its power.

As for our course of action:
>>Touch base with B’ni…she’s just as quiet as usual, but she’s rarely this intense.

She has something important on her mind. Either something is bothering her (possibly about Sam's most recent interaction), or she has realized something unsettling about Nerada.
>>
>>5045290
>oh i really would like to ask her if she would be willing to give us a copy of it........ that seems so freaking useful if we can get everything our swamrlings get.
It would be nice. It would be kind of scummy to push her on it, though, so best to save asking her for later, after we've built a good enough relationship that it wouldn't be predatory to ask. But if we can get a copy, yeah, I'd love that. It would add yet another thing for Shu to level, but it would be so worth it. Especially if we could get it to max and then hybridize with Trypophilic Hive. Or Spiritus Ex Testa. Or both, see if we can get a working four-way hybrid out of that.

>>5045317
>So Nerada has the Hive Mistress halo. I was hoping we'd stumble across it during the quest so Shu could have it, but this is the second best outcome - in the hands of a nice young lady who won't abuse its power.
Yeah, we've run into nothing but good kids, haven't we? You'd expect there would be at least some creepy cannibal children with no sense of right or wrong, but they've all been super polite and sweet and happy to meet us. I'm glad that the Crucible seems to have only chosen such wonderful children instead of ones that we'd have to kill and wind up feeling conflicted and guilty over. Maybe a prior Mother set that as her rule change, I don't know.
>>
>>5045388
>Yeah, we've run into nothing but good kids, haven't we? You'd expect there would be at least some creepy cannibal children with no sense of right or wrong, but they've all been super polite and sweet and happy to meet us. I'm glad that the Crucible seems to have only chosen such wonderful children instead of ones that we'd have to kill and wind up feeling conflicted and guilty over. Maybe a prior Mother set that as her rule change, I don't know.

I agree! On the one hand, it's good that all the kids we've encountered have been sweet and nice. On the other hand, from a storytelling perspective, it would be terrifying to have a powerful child who destroys or warps everything in their path, like Anthony from the It's A Good Life episode of the Twilight Zone. Imagine an endgame-tier child who can barely be reasoned with and acts purely on impulse, with temper tantrums that can level villages. And they don't feel bad about their actions because to them, it's a game - like putting your Sims in a swimming pool and deleting the ladder for shits and giggles.

...I'm getting an idea for an original daughter.
>>
File: Isabelle.jpg (273 KB, 1280x1920)
273 KB
273 KB JPG
>>5045278

"Paloma does seem pretty zealous.” You admit, taking a step back before the two girls and their minder whizz by you a fourth time. “What do you think the chances are to stop her from throwing this fortress at the cord?"

Orwell’s eyes go wide.

“…fuck I hadn’t thought of that. Uh…shit." She mutters, starting to pace in a tight circle. “No. No, she…maybe? I mean, she’s never posted anything that would run counter-current to just giving Daughters a place to lay their head, but…now that we’re here, I’m not so sure.”

“If she’s planning anything like that, then what are the odds that I can talk her down?” You forward, and Orwell seems to relax a little, at that.

“I mean, c’mon. It’s *you*.” She fires back, as if your success is assured. As if your words held enough weight to sway those whose minds had been made up. But after the Monastery? After Magpie?

You’re not so sure.

“What’s on your mind?”

Your words seem to snap B’ni out of her own spiraling thoughts, and you wonder if you’re just avoiding a similar spiral as you approach your troubled ally.

“It’s…I’m not sure yet.” She replies, pausing when Amara and Orwell blitz by you to complete another lap. Amara’s blasting herself forward with jets of air while Nerada rides a roiling wave of shadow, all the while Dorian hangs back a bit, crackling with crimson bolts as he speeds by.

“Is it still you-know-who…or something about Nerada?” You add, lowering your tone on the second half of your question.

“Just thinking about earlier, really. It’s been a crazy day, so this is pleasantly quiet.” She replies with suspect nonchalance. “It’s nice to see Amara having fun. Feels like a dream.”

You’re about to open your mouth when the emphasis she placed on the last word makes you pause, and when you meet her eyes, a flash of emerald just makes you nod in silent agreement…

…as you open the Dreamscape’s line of communication.

[Worried we’re being listened to?] You start, standing silently beside Isabelle in the real as your voice echoes in her mind.

“Rosa herself said that Nerada's got a reputation as one of the strongest Hive Mistresses around, and her swarm’s small enough to where one of them could be on us and we wouldn’t know it.”

[A fair point] You concede, watching the girls complete another lap as you smile and wave when Amara glances your way for validation. [Aside from an abundance of caution, is there something you picked up on that makes you think she’s being disingenuous?]

“I…back in the city, it felt like she was feeling us out. And not just in a kid-way, if that makes sense? There was a method to it. Testing us, feeling out our defenses. Who takes the lead, who hangs back, and what we can do.” She explains, eyes narrowed.

What she’s saying…it makes a grim sort of sense, but her words carry more weight than the burden of mere suspicion.

(Continued)
>>
>>5045466

[…I want to ask you something, and I’d like to ask it with the understanding that I’m not judging] You preface, and you can feel B’ni go on guard as you speak.

“Just say it.” She demands bluntly, eyes locked straight ahead. “I figure we’re here in the first place because we weren’t straight with each other when it counted.”

You bite your tongue, reminding yourself that there’s likely a clear reason for her prickliness…one whose face you’re currently wearing.

[Okay…are you seeing Nerada doing something you used to do?] You ask, keeping your emotions clear and open as you feel a knot grow in B’ni’s chest. [A strategy you used when guarding my cocoon?]

“…yeah.”

She sighs bitterly, forcing a smile as Dorian waves to her on his way by.

“Before I got stronger, that's what I had to do.” She continues, not daring to meet your eyes in the real as her voice dances in the dream. “Sure, I could regen…but I saw a lot worse than death in the time I was watching over you. Daughters who could make someone wish they’d just slit their throat and be done with it. So I had to be careful. Know what I was dealing with before doing what had to be done. I had to bait them out, and...yeah. That’s what it felt like Nerada was doing to us.”

You nod, considering the last few hours alongside the last few years as you weigh their contributions to B’ni’s current fears.

“Can I ask you something?” The girl beside you says before you can follow up on what she’d said moments ago.

[Of course]

A beat, and then-

“Did you ask Rath to talk to me?”

You blink, then shake your head slightly. [Nope. That was all her. I’d have thought that Uzu-]

“She did.” Isabelle interrupts. “She claimed up and down that it was all Rath’s idea, but…”

She trails off, and you shrug. [I get it. It can be hard to tell where I end and my family begins]

Isabelle finally looks at you, her mouth working to voice a question and an apology all at once before she goes silent in the real.

“...Sorry.” She murmurs, wrapping her arms around herself as another breeze wafts by, cooler than the ones before it. “I just...it’s been a lot. With Calliope, then with Sam, now...it’s bringing up a lot of stuff I think I’m getting over, and then it just hits me twice as hard as it ever did.”

[Two steps forward…]

“...three steps back.” She finishes.

[It really isn’t, though] You offer, and B’ni just chuckles under her breath.

“You sound like Uzu. Or maybe she sounds like you? You’re pretty similar, actually.” The girl beside you muses, watching another lap come and go with no signs of stopping. “Look, about Nerada...she seems like a sweet kid, actually. I’m sorry, I was just worried we were missing the big picture, is all.”

[No need to apologize. I know I’m-]

“The Motherfucking Defiant!” A familiar voice rings out from somewhere high above you.

(Continued)
>>
File: Jackie.jpg (82 KB, 750x900)
82 KB
82 KB JPG
>>5045469

You look up, squinting into the deep red of the sky as an angular silhouette looses a throaty laugh, pulling something from their chest as they stand atop the Ikea’s roof. A flick of the figure’s wrist and space is torn asunder, the gap between her and you parted like a razor through bare flesh.

“Jackie!” You declare, grinning ear to ear as she plunges her obsidian dagger back into her sternum before throwing her arms wide.

“How the hell you been, Shu?” She laughs again as she practically yanks you into a sideways hug, careful to avoid pulling you against the hilt that protrudes from her chest. “Heard you’d been busy.”

“Yeah, but what else is new?” You fire back. “Made friends with one of those Apocalypse Amalgams, too. Hope it wasn’t the one you and the Crew were planning to go after?”

“You bitch! I love it!” She barks with glee, her smile a slash across the poster of a film star. “I’ve got half a mind to kick your ass and a full one to buy you a drink. Get your ass in here.”

“Just need to wait a second while the girls finish their race.” You say, and just as Jackie’s about to ask, three blurs zoom by, nearly robbing her of her jacket with the sudden gust of wind.

“-hiJackieI'mraci-!” Amara says, her explanation fading as her competitive spirit carries her by you faster than you can blink.

“Love that kid. Anyway, I heard from Quinn that your girls and the Doc were seen checking out the stalls, so I figured you’d be out here shooting the shit with someone.” The rail-thin woman says, adjusting her leather jacket to preserve some degree of modesty...or maybe just fashion, given her confidence. “You’re the talk of the appliance department, but Em said something about keeping things quiet?”

“Yeah, we’ve got a friend of Amara’s who’s not great with crowds, so we’re trying to accommodate.”

“If that’s the case, I can get you all in the back way. No need to make a scene until you’re good n’ready.” She offers, tapping the hilt of her jagged blade. The motion sends pulses of black liquid skittering just beneath the skin of her bony chest, and she raises the eyebrow of the eye that isn’t covered with crystalline pock-marks.

A tempting offer, and one you’re considering...once Amara and Nerada have had their fun, that is.

>>Politely ask Dorian to go ahead and call the race, then head inside the Ikean Fortress with Jackie. Given everything that’s been going on, a drink sounds pretty good right now.

>>Let the girls continue their race while you chat with Jackie for a moment. You get the feeling things are just going to get busier from here, so you’d rather catch up with her while things are relatively quiet.

>>Tell Jackie that you’ll meet her and the Crew inside—you’d like to continue where you left off with B’ni.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume promptly at 10AM tomorrow, Eastern time. Thank you for your patience and participation, and I hope that you have a restful evening, one and all.)
>>
>>5045471
well i mean... yeah. Nerada didn't survive by being stupid. Even Amara for all her flare clearly knows to take potential danger seriously and think things through at least a bit.
that said, wish Isabelle had said a bit more about how much she is worrying about Nerada NOW over back in the city, but is what it is. not too worried as i think the Barbers implied shes not outright aggressive to the point of trying to kill everyone she meets, so even if she was thinking about it unless im remembering wrong we're probably in the clear now.

vote;
>Give a look and mental ask to Isabelle to see if shes good or wants to talk more. if she is, politely tell Jackie you'll take the back way once the little ones are finished, and try to not have to bluntly tell her she interrupted something.
>If Isabelle is ok, then talk to Jackie til the kids are done. start off simple, catching eachother up on the details of whats happened.
>>
>>5045466
>>5045469
Hmm. Yeah, Nerada was definitely feeling us out, but I'm not sure there's necessarily anything sinister behind her actions. She's a single kid roaming the Crucible alone. Her being cautious and knowing how to scout a potential threat is a good thing. It's worrying in the abstract for a child to know how to do that, but not something quite worth worrying about. Yet. We'll keep an eye out. And keep Dorian close, his anti-construct abilities would make him devastating to Nerada if she does turn out to be bad. Masque of War's heavy anti-construct damage combined with the presumably-low individual health of her spider motes means that if she does try any shit he can lock her down effectively.

>>5045471
Yeah, >>5045483 sounds good. Supporting.
>>
>>5045471
So I guess the Crew being here explains why Paloma assigned so many rooms to us, though two dozen still feels excessive. Even if the Barbers are also joining us, that's still only sixteen rooms we need. Who's going to stay in the other eight?
>>
>>5045491
Well, we do have a bit of a habit of picking up strays by this point.
>>
>>5045497
I guess. Or maybe they're just way more progressive about Dream Daughters than I am and assuming they should have actual rooms of their own instead of just going back into our brains to rest while we shove their Spirit Shells in the closet.
>>
>>5045491
>>5045497
strays and i guess the DDs.
>>
>>5045471

>write in:

>After we make our decision to either continue the talk with either Jackie or Isabelle:

>when the little ones are almost finished with the race, make a sudden announcement: "Last lap with a sudden twist! Get around the obstacle course and hug me to finish the race!"
>Terraform a few obstacle blocks around you.
>Spawn hundred hands out of your back to brace for the twin impacts of two children hurling towards you at high speed.
>Take the moment to analyze Nerada's hive capabilities through the obstacle course race.
>When they impact, transfer the momentum via Psychica Spiralis, Heavens Drill via hand anchors, and Hundred Hands and swing them around like a carousel circle before coming to a stop and finishing with a group hug.
>If any of them asks who was the winner of the foot race and depending on how close the race was, deflect the answer with sayings like "oh it was a photo finish!" and/or if the race wasn't close, instead compliment both of their abilities, and ask a bit more about Nerada's powers as to how she combined her abilities to "go" as fast as Amara.
>>
>>5045528
>>5045471
Addendum:
>If Amara's being pouty, give her a subtle wink.

Note: this write-in's mainly for flavortexting in having Amara and Nerada finish their foot race.
>>
>>5045528
not sure how i feel about this, mostly in how much Nerada would be ok with that, but ignoring that for a moment i burst out laughing because im an idiot and imagined Dorian being cheeky and winning the race with Shu just unexpectedly just blown like a fucking mile backwards as he suddenly full speed hugs her just for the sheer joke of it all.

just... the look on everyone's face and the grin i imagine he would have.
>>
>>5045528
I'm not keen on the hug part, but I do like giving a last finish for the race. Also a way to judge Nerada's abilities, a bit, that's good. Just sort of comment on how it's impressive she can coordinate her spiders together that well that they're like a fluid she can control. Maybe ask if that's something she learned to do or if it's something she got from upgrading her mutation.
>>
>>5045543
I'm okay with this vote not making the update, the write-in was basically a spur of the muse who had gotten tired of the short bursts of Cradleton inspiration.

>Dorian wins the race
>Both Nerada and Amara pout and call "shenanigans"
>Somewhere Julia's feeling jealous or irritated for an unknown reason.
>>
>>5045553

>I'm not keen on the hug part
It's only there in case if Nerada somehow does win the race and Amara gets salty.
>>
>>5045471
ah dang. Its great to see some familiar faces and its goddamn Jackie. I hope the rest of her crew is here as well. Will be nice to reconnect with them.

Guess we should give her that duel soon. She wont get any weaker any time soon
>>
(An update - between technical issues and work errands that I had to drive to address, the next update will have to go live at 12PM today instead of 10AM. I may shorten voting/posting time frames to account for this is everyone is amenable to the change. I hope your morning is going well, one and all.)
>>
>>5046074
oof, but understandable.
so long as its not by extremes im personally ok with shortening the times a bit.
>>
>>5046074
Ah, too bad. Well, take as much time as you need, BHOP. We'll see you then.
>>
>>5046074
some shortening sounds okay to me.

See you at 12 then

I just hope that i will have the energy to vote after the gym
>>
File: Midnight Crew.gif (6 KB, 650x450)
6 KB
6 KB GIF
>>5045471

[Hey, are we-] You begin, intent to touch base with Isabelle before Jackie takes full hold of the conversation.

“Good? Yeah.” The girl replies as Jackie holds you out at arm’s length to get a better look at you. “Do what you’ve gotta do, Shu.”

“Hey, uh…am I interrupting something besides the race?” Jackie asks, suddenly and keenly aware of what she’s walked into. “I can come back later if-“

“Ha, well…sort of, but I think we’re good.” You admit with a good-natured shrug. “Also, I want to let the girls have their fun racing…so! Catch me up on the latest exploits of the infamous Midnight Crew.”

She looses a laugh that has an uncharacteristic tinge of guilt but as soon as she speaks, it’s gone. “Shoot, where to start. Paloma’s been running us ragged in a good way—keeping us busy with hunting Relics and greasing elbows with other settlements in preparation for her plan.”

“Which is?” You ask, a glace over Jackie’s shoulder revealing a cringing Orwell.

“Ideally, it’s to get this place moving one way or another and scoot further away from the Cord.” The statuesque girl explains, placing a hand on one cocked and dagger-sharp hip as Orwell heaves a sigh of relief. “Daughters have been throwing themselves at the damn thing for over two years now, and the no-man’s land is expanding fast. Paloma’s already tried to warn the other settlement closest to it, but the shot-caller there won’t budge. Now that you’re here, I’m thinking she may want to see if you’d be willing to talk some sense into them.”

“I see…and what’s this about Relics?”

Jackie taps the hilt in her chest again. “She was interested in this thing’s properties, actually. Thought that we could cut a hole big enough to pull the fort through it, but booster Relics don’t seem to enhance…whatever the hell it is that this thing does. Her think-tank believe that only something of a similar caliber can alter or expand its capabilities, so we’ve been using my sword as a sort of dowsing rod for Paloma’s Neuromancers to find other weird Relics like it. I was actually waiting for her to get through with her other meetings so I could talk shop about the next job she’s got lined up for us…that’s when my girls caught sight of yours.”

“And as she’s exploring the weird Relic angle, she’s talking with Arcadia about moving the place physically?” You clarify, and Jackie just smirks.

“Yeah, she’s almost as busy as you…almost.” She winks, leaning close. “So what’s this about you smooth-talking the Apocalypse Amalgam?”

It takes you longer than you expect to catch Jackie up on the whirlwind last few days, and by the time you conclude all she can do is give a whistle of surprise.

(Continued)
>>
>>5046160

“Yeah, tell me about it.” You say, drawing in a tired breath. “Next on our list was to figure out what Paloma’s deal is and then make time to go watch the Disassociated’s launch.”

“So you’ve already got one of the three Amalgams down…but do you figure one of the other two are going to make a run at the launch? Think you’ll have to throw down with one of those big bastards?” The other girl asks, dark eye shining at the prospect.

“It’s highly likely, unless we can get to one or both of them first.” You wearily admit. “I don’t relish the idea of dealing with either of them, though—Ziz was a sweetheart, but they made it pretty clear that Behemoth and Leviathan weren’t the most reasonable sort.”

“Eh, you’ve got a way of sweet-talking even the hardest of asses…hell, *we’re* friends, aren’t we?” Jackie grins, thrusting a painfully bony elbow between your ribs before she gets serious. “But I get it. If you can’t talk sense into them, then taking them to task is no easy feat. That said-”

“You and the Crew were there for Magpie and West Alpha.” You cut off, eyebrow raised. “I don’t want you to feel like I’m pulling in favors left and right.”

“I don’t, and neither do my girls. You’re Crew…same goes for the rest of your family, no matter how friggin’ big it gets.” She counters, eyeing Nerada as she and Amara make another, slower lap around the Ikean Fortress. “Then again, if you’re feeling the need for some kinda balance in this relationship…there’s still the matter of or duel.”

Oh, for-…she’s not going to let that go, is she?

“Very true.” You relent, watching as each successive lap your ward and Nerada make take longer and longer to complete. Part of you wonders if it might be best to just get the duel over with so that you can focus on more pressing matters, but starting a scrap right outside the fortress might not make the best impression...even though Jackie would be thrilled, you’re sure.

>>Relent to the duel at a later date; you don’t want to keep Paloma waiting if she’s got plans to make.

>>Jackie wants a duel? Very well…you’ll give her one, here and now. One more thing out of the way before you venture into parts unknown.

>>Ask Jackie something that’s on your mind…if she’s been working with Paloma, she might prove to be a useful source of info before you meet with the Ikea’s leader in earnest.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, with posting to resume in approximately three. Thank you for your patience this morning, and I hope you day’s going well!)
>>
>>5046160
>“Daughters have been throwing themselves at the damn thing for over two years now, and the no-man’s land is expanding fast."

>the no-man's land is expanding fast

.....So we've got another doom timer to pressure us from faffing about? Shit.
>>
>>5046163
vote;
>Relent to the duel at a later date; you don’t want to keep Paloma waiting if she’s got plans to make.

not one to keep Jackie waiting but she didnt put much of a time limit on it while we are kinda actively keeping Paloma waiting.
>>
>>5046160
Aww, so the Ikean Fortress is not going to become our awesome landship, just a new home base. I suppose that is far more practical and less risking of human life, but it does feel a bit redundant when we already have the Lair. Unless Paloma knows something we don't? Is Mara spying on us through the Lair? I wouldn't put it past her.

>>5046163
>>Relent to the duel at a later date; you don’t want to keep Paloma waiting if she’s got plans to make.
>>Write-In
>But soon. Unless something immediately pressing comes up, we can duel after meeting with Paloma.

I'm open to having the duel this Vein, let's just get our other affairs in order first. Have to work before we can play, even if I'm saying that while we're literally watching children play.

>>5046169
Arguably, faffing about should slow down this doom timer. If we run around fighting Daughters, there will be fewer Daughters to get into all-out war here. I'm sure there's a point of diminishing returns, but we can get at least a few fights (and accordant level-ups) out of it.
>>
>>5046179
The fortress would serve as a home base that's closer to the Cord (and the no-man's land) which would be a really good staging point when we begin our final assault and scale the cord.
>>
>>5046180
Yes, but Escher's Gear makes that a bit less of an issue. It's only important if we're worried about someone finding our spokes and spawn-camping them, which I suppose is plausible but isn't a major concern of mine. Ah, well, either way it's a neat new location to visit and encounter people at, and that's cool. I look forward to actually entering it and saying hello. I was just hoping for a landship. The sheer audacity of going everywhere in an ambulatory Swedish furniture store would have been utterly delightful.
>>
>>5046189
i think he means for the actual last treck. we still have to walk to a place to put down a spoke, so having a place to actually scout from and then prepare for it without the hassle of constant teleporting is at least less tedious for sure.
>>
File: The Silver Key.jpg (224 KB, 1280x853)
224 KB
224 KB JPG
>>5046163

“While I’d rather not keep Paloma waiting if she has plans to make…” You begin, noting the flicker of hope that lances through Jackie’s black eye. “…soon. Unless something immediately pressing comes up, we can duel after we both talk to Paloma. Deal?”

“Hell yes, it’s a deal.” Jackie smirks, her razor-smile only widening as Amara and Nerada skid to a halt at their arbitrary finish line. Dorian coalesces out of undulating crimson paint and arcs of scarlet lightning, and you wonder if the girls realize he’s playing at being winded.

“Who won?” Nerada excitedly asks, the swarm of liquid shadow she’d been riding swiftly congealing back into legs.

“The first to the finish line is…the inimitable Miss Amara!” He declares, and Nerada lunges forward to hug your adoptive daughter as the two practically trip over themselves to complement each other’s technique.

“Alright girls, you two about ready to head inside?” You posit, and the pair excitedly jump to your side as Dorian, Orwell, and B’ni draw closer at Jackie’s behest.

“Head’s up—things are going to look weird for a half-sec, but just roll with it.” The leader of the Midnight Crew instructs you, and before you can voice any sound of protest she’s drawn her abyssal blade with a flourish, raking it down as reality itself parts before your very eyes. It’s every color you’ve ever seen, each shade tinged with a darkness that eats at your eyes as it sucks you into its gaping maw…

…and as the Silver Key flares in your pocket, a white void swallows you whole.

Your perception adjusts to an expanse of endless ivory. The scene before you is the brightest thing you’ve ever seen…your eyes burn, but you can’t close them. There’s nothing you can do to shut out the radiant glare of this place, but the longer you stare straight ahead the more you realize it’s not empty. Pick pricks of light shine in this void…shades of radiance, somehow distinct in their impossible brightness.

Five flicker within arm’s reach, colors piercing into your mind as you shift your involuntary gaze to their piercing light…

A deep-set emerald.

A distinguished ruby.

A fearful onyx.

A savage obsidian.

And finally—two lights that shine as one; joyous blue obscuring a sorrowful brown.

Behind you, you feel a tug. The thing that drew you here, trying to draw you out even as the Silver Key roots you to this place. You can still feel it at your side, bracing you against the pull of something cut from the same cloth as it.

A knife.

A key.

Neither of them were meant to be here.

Neither are you.

>>Whatever this place is, you want nothing of it. Pull yourself past this, and to the other side.

>>Reach out to one of the lights (Choose).

>>Move past these lights, and inspect the countless others that inhabit this place.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for two hours, with posting to resume in three.)
>>
>>5046315
>>5046179
ah well fuck.
i misread that vote and would've voted against agreeing to do it directly after meeting Paloma if i hadn't.
dammit thats a terrible idea.
>>
>>5046316
>>5046318
i think ive mentioned it before but this is the concern with just assuming votes that dont contradict eachother are still good to combine.
>>
>>5046315
vote;
>try talking to the lights, and whichever one racts best try conversing or interacting with it.
>otherwise, Reach out to the joyous-sorrowful light.

these weird dream areas usually have lead to some pretty useful info, so we should be careful but not ignore the place either.
>>
>>5046318
>>5046319
(Ah, a fair point. That said, what Paloma has to say will give you a fairly clear out should you wish to delay the duel. Jackie's itching for a fight, but she's not going to out up a fuss if you end up taking a rain-check.)

(If I'm unsure in the future, I'll explicitly declare the possibility of a combined vote into get the approval of all parties involved - do you believe that would be an appropriate solution?)
>>
>>5046326
(Also good Lord, I can't spell today.)
>>
>>5046326
yeah i assumed if it was important Jackie wouldn't, was more miffed than actually angry or anything(specifically because of the fact we might run into an emergency or a clear 'do now' objective and i don't like breaking promises).

and yes, it would.

>>5046332
hey man my tiredness made me misread a vote and had me saying you're instead of your someplace else. dyslexia is a bitch if your minds not all there sometimes.
>>
>>5046315
Well, that's an interesting development. I think we're seeing some sort of shared mental landscape outside normal reality. That seems like a reasonable assumption given the two Relics whose interaction caused this. The closest lights fit the eyes of people who were warping with us. Green for Isabel, red for Dorian, onyx and obsidian for Nerada and Jackie (probably. Might have it the other way around, if Isabel is right about Nerada), and a paired blue and brown for Amara which breaks my heart knowing that one of her lights is sorrowful.

>>Reach out to one of the lights (Choose).
>The obsidian.

>>5046335
>yeah i assumed if it was important Jackie wouldn't, was more miffed than actually angry or anything(specifically because of the fact we might run into an emergency or a clear 'do now' objective and i don't like breaking promises).

That's why I put in the caveat of "unless something pressing comes up". I agree, breaking a promise wouldn't be good, so I wanted to make sure we had an out if there was something time-sensitive.
>>
>>5046338
eh, fair, but i still don't like the immediate date setting.
I want to give her her fight too but its just not all that important in even the lesser scheme of things, and as much as shes itching for it im sure she understands that too.
its the type of thing i'd 'almost' argue can be an 'after crucible' Shu problem.
>>
>>5046347
I agree with that assessment. But that's kind of why I want to do it now. It's a minor thing, just get it out of the way when we have the free time so that it's not haunting our to-do list forever. We can delay if something else takes priority, of course, but if we have the free time I'd like to take care of it. In-character it wouldn't be more than a couple of minutes, fights are fast. Out of character, yeah, it could be day or two of posts, but I don't think it should take too long. We're not going to be trying to kill each other, the fight should be less intense and driven less close to the edge than our typical combats.
>>
>>5046357
I guess we just have a very different perspective.
because my reasons for not committing and wanting to be more open to waiting are your exact same reasons for not wanting to.
amusing but doesn't leave much left to say i suppose.

actually regardless of when, i forget, did we discuss ground rules with her at all in character, or only among ourselves out of character?
it would've just been a small snippet if we did but i cant remember if agreeing to it in the first place came with any.
>>
>>5046359
>amusing but doesn't leave much left to say i suppose.
Yeah, I suppose so, though I think we'll be better able to discuss on common ground after we talk to Paloma and know more about immediate time-sensitive priorities. Right now our disagreement is in abstractions, making this more concrete should make it easier to debate.

>actually regardless of when, i forget, did we discuss ground rules with her at all in character, or only among ourselves out of character?
We have not discussed ground rules for a duel yet, no. We'll have to do that before any actual fight starts, otherwise we could have some real awkward confusion.
>>
>>5046363
yeah, it really could.
>"Wait, so i WASN'T supposed to stab you through the heart with my reality warping blade at maximum warp output while you're clearly 'tainted' with otherworldy connections? how was i supposed to guess, we dont need hearts anymore so its only important in metaphors!"
>>
(Hello, Everyone. I've been struggling to get the next part out, and I've realized that this mornings events have just thrown off my entire day. I'll update tomorrow morning at 10AM Eastern time,and my apologies for the delay. I think I may go lie down or something, given how I feel.)

(Once again, my sincerest apologies and thank you for bearing with me,one and all.)
>>
>>5046483
take care of yourself, do what you gotta do, and get some good rest BHOP.
its tiring times for everyone and we all understand.
>>
>>5046483
No worries, BHOP. Go, get some rest. Or go eat, I don't know if you have yet. Just, you know, go do things that will replenish your energy so you're not all drained and awful-feeling. We'll see you tomorrow, man. Have a nice night.
>>
just got back from work and... wtf. HOLD THE FUCK UP.

lemme get some dinner in me belly first and then I'll decypher all the symbolism as I think I have a fairly good idea what's going on.
>>
>Five flicker within arm’s reach, colors piercing into your mind as you shift your involuntary gaze to their piercing light…

>A deep-set emerald. (Isabelle)

>A distinguished ruby. (Dorian)

>A fearful onyx. (Nerada)

>A savage obsidian. (Jackie)

>And finally—two lights that shine as one; joyous blue obscuring a sorrowful brown. (Amara)

Behind you, you feel a tug. The thing that drew you here, trying to draw you out even as the Silver Key roots you to this place. You can still feel it at your side, bracing you against the pull of something cut from the same cloth as it.

>>5046483
A knife. (Jackie's Vorpal Knife) Bhop, I now know what reference you're going with. It's either the Vorpal knife from Alice in Wonderland the Subtle Knife from the "His Dark Materials" trilogy

A key. (Silver Key)
>>5046488
>>5046363

Okay. I've had some food, and now I'm gonna summarize what just happened. The Knife and Key were cut from the same cloth. The Key acts as a metaphysical dimensional anchor akin to an immovable rod, while the Knife basically creates a portal by tearing a hole in the fabric of reality (aka creating a vacuum). Nature abhors a vacuum and thus naturally acts to close it by shunting the people traveling through the tear in reality to the other side. However, Shu is in possession of the Silver key, and thus isn't immediately shunted out the other end.

So we have a couple options.

The dimension we're in most likely is in a metaphysical realm of the soul and the souls are represented by the colored lights we see within reach. We can reach out and interact with the souls because of our position within this dimension, we can explore the realm of the metaphysical soul, or we can cross the bridge and re-enter reality. The longer we faff/muck/delay in the meta-space between realities, the more violent our ejection from it, and the longer we make our friends and family wait in reality, even possibly worrying them. If we do interact with their "souls" they would likely feel an unknown influence and get jumpy. We could technically explore the space between spaces, but again, that would delay our return to reality and make our family worry. Jackie would likely have questions regarding as to why it takes so long for Shu to return to reality (as Jackie is likely to be used to instant teleportation).
>>
>>5046709
Yeah, that's my interpretation of it, too. This is where Jackie cuts through to teleport, it's normally instant, but the Silver Key is giving Shu some extra inertia that's keeping her from being pulled through at max speed. And as a result we're seeing...something...connected to Daughters, that's visible on this plane. I'm not sure it's souls, exactly, but something related to people's identities, certainly. Maybe it's just an access point to those people, this multicolored void does resemble the glimpses we've seen of the Nothing. It could be his native plane, and those lights are the openings for him to look in at us.

I suppose it doesn't matter too much. I agree that interacting with the lights will probably cause interaction with the people. That's why I voted for the obsidian light, that's Jackie and I want to ask her what the hell is going on. Though you are right that it might be a more invasive experience that wouldn't allow for real communication, in hindsight maybe it's not a great idea. But I don't want to wander and interact with the more distant lights and risk getting lost, and I don't want to waste the opportunity by just letting the knife drag us back to our reality. So I'm willing to take a gamble on poking her light (or Amara's, as the other anon voted) and seeing what happens. We'll just have to apologize if it turns out to be a bad trip.
>>
>>5046709
>>5046716
seems like a reasonable conclusion. kinda sorta what i thought too, with my only slipup being not connecting the dots to who was who aswell as i should've, mostly because Dorian just does not at all scream 'red' to me. i mean, i get he technically is in terms of power, but in terms of a representation of who he is its not the color id use for him. because of that, i kinda thought it would be 'important' souls, not those around us, but it being those around us does make more sense as like i said only Dorians doesn't really fit to me.

otherwise, thats kinda why i wanted to try talking to them first. wouldn't hurt and might end up being less invasive. otherwise we know these type of places like i said either give answers or are important, so trying to figure out something here i think makes sense. that, and i just have a sinking feeling with how the sword may be, it wouldn't actually be as simple or safe to just turn off the key to leave. I could be wrong, but you never know.
>>
>>5046727
I think it's actually just eye color, and not anything symbolic. Isabel has green eyes, Dorian red, Nerada and Jackie black, and Amara has heterochromia with one blue and one brown eye. That's why I'm thinking it's a connection and not their minds/souls themselves, if it's reflecting physical traits like that. I don't know, maybe our friends have a really strong sense of their identity tied up in their eye color, but that feels weird to me.

I do agree that speaking to them before we try anything is a good idea for minimizing trauma, though. I'm not sure why I didn't put that in my vote, guess I wasn't thinking. So, a note to BHOP >>5046483 : I'm fine with that taking precedence as a combined vote.

And yeah, probably not just as simple as turning off the Key. I think that would let the sword drag us out, but it would also stop protecting us from whatever hazards might be in this place, and I fully expect those to be able to work very fast.
>>
>>5046727
>mostly because Dorian just does not at all scream 'red' to me.

Well, he's a paint-themed flesh artisan and his core is tinted red from Scarlet Terror, which would naturally affect his eye color right?
>>
>>5046768
as the other Anon mentioned i wasn't directly applying the colors to coincide with their eyes necessarily either way.
>>
>>5046315

"Hello?" You say, the syllables prompting the lights to flicker and dance, their colors intensifying at the sound of your voice.

"...They love her. They deserve her. It hurts, but what does that matter when I caused them so mu-" The emerald light echoes sadly before the onyx gemstone flares with contagious anxiety.

"Still not strong enough. I need to know. I have to know if I can stand on my own. If I can't, they're dead. They'll be dead and it'll be all my fault." It mutters to itself, words coming out as though between fingernails, bitten raw as it suddenly shifts tracks. "What if she kicks my ass? What if I win? What the fuck is either of those gonna tell me that I don't already know? It seemed like such a great fucking idea it the time, but-"

"It's settled, then - Rath." A masculine voice reverberates from deep within the shining ruby, his words resolute, decisive. "I should talk to her about it. I have to deal with this if I'm going to be enough for Julia. I need to be clear. I need to communicate. I may have his temper, but I have the tools to regula-"

"So long. So so long. Keep it together. Stay focused." The obsidian hums with a voice cool and clear. "You've fought it this long. Stay normal. They wouldn't like you if they knew what you'd done to get here. They need to like you. They're the first in so long to be kind. They're worth being normal for. Without them, you're no-"

"Smile! Keep smiling! That's what Mom does!"

The sky-blue light nearly engulfs your being when it suddenly quadruples in size, as if trying to drown out its fellows.

"I smile, they smile! Everyone smiles! Keep them busy! Busy people can't be sad!" It continues, voice shaking with an insistent shrill. "Mom keeps us busy so we can't be sad! Mom keeps busy, too! If we keep moving then Mom-"

"She's not your mom."

The brown light that lurked just behind its fellow nearly overwhelms the azure radiance, the blue sparkle fading steadily with every word it's twin utters. "You had a mom. Shu is nice. Shu is patient. Shu is kind. And because of that, she'll leave. To keep you safe."

"She wouldn't do that." The blue light timidly counters, trying desperately to rebuild the edifice that was cut down so swiftly. "I can help her. I've been training a whole lot so I can fight really well, and I know I can show her how mature I can be, so she has to take me! I can show Mom that I won't hold her back! We're going to beat the Cord, and then-!"

"And then she'll be busy." The brown light mutters blithely, countering every burgeoning hope with a hacknife of doubt. "She's busy enough right now. Do you think that'll get any better when she has the whole world to look after?"

(Continued)
>>
>>5047105

"...but she doesn't want to do that. She said so." The azure light murmurs in dejected protest.

"We’ll see...but until then, what do we do?”

“...smile. Keep smiling.” The blue light answers with growing resolve. “Keep training. Keep smiling. Keep growing. Keep smiling. Keep-”

The voices subside, each light flickering low as the effects of your greeting fade. Your perceptions now wholly adjusted, you look around the sea of stars to find a mountain looming large to your left. Atop it thrums a silver-blue radiance, powerful and majestic as it keeps its patient vigil. Ahead of you, a large cluster of lights are gathered with a yellow spark at its heart. To your right flit a trio of lights whose hues set them apart—eon amethyst and white-hot citrine, with a binary star following close behind.

The tug behind you intensifies, but the Silver Key has rendered you an immovable object in this alien landscape. Here, in this interstitial place, you...

>>Hold the amethyst.

>>Embrace the citrine.

>>Reach out to the twin stars.

>>Touch one of the other lights whose voices reached you.

>>Ascend the mountain to meet the patient sun.

>>Loosen the Silver Key’s grip, and go back to where you belong.


>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Good Morning, Everyone. Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, with posting to resume in three as I get back on track. Not sure what was going on yesterday, but regardless I appreciate your kind words and understanding. I hope your day is going well,and that it is a relaxed one.)
>>
>>5047106
vote;
>Ascend the mountain to meet the patient sun.
its the only thing screaming 'of this place potentially', and im very much thinking we uhhh, we may have heard more than we should've and need to make some apologies. mind, i expected we miiight end up in this situation per say, i just didn't expect our voice alone to make them spill nothing BUT their deepest hidden concerns.

certainly if we dont see the mountain light we leave. touching the lights will probably be very much going too far, as just hearing that could be argued to be, even if we didn't think just talking would do that.
>>
>>5047111
adding if people would prefer to leave i do have some ideas id like to put forth for how we handle it, but of course thats only if people end up leaning towards it. guess said ideas will probably be applicable eventually regardless, but still.
>>
>>5047106
>>5047105
Goddammit Bhop. Here in the realm of the Soul, we see the deepest insecurities of our friends and family.

>Jackie's struggle against self-worth in needing to compare herself against Shu in a contest of strength.
>Nerada's struggle against loneliness
>Rath's inner struggles to maintain her temper
>Isabelle's self-torment over her past sins
>Amara's Optimism and hope clashing against the painful pessimism of her past.

It hurst so much.
>>
>>5047115
>Rath
that was Dorian.
>>
>>5047115
(Unlike the Dreamscape, there are no defenses here.)

(Only truth.)

>>5047117
(This is also truth.)
>>
File: hungry evul book.jpg (722 KB, 2220x1080)
722 KB
722 KB JPG
>>5047118
>reality went full True Order on us.
ah shit. if we find a black book with red pages that bleed, dont open it and burn the fucker before it can say anything.

obscure jokes aside these type of places usually dont end well to be in.
>>
>>5047112
>>5047111
We've now have the insight of their insecurities. If anything, we should approach these subjects in a one on one fashion in the real.

>>5047118
>>5047117
goddammit. I knew it was dorian earlier, but mistook him for Rath because of the mention of "temper" being associated with Rath.

>>5047111
>Patient sun

I'm willing to bet big that the Patient Sun is Ozmas on the throne of the Cord.
>>
>>5047118
Also Bhop, There was never any mention of the Amethyst star in the update. Are you sure you've mistaken the Amethyst for Isabelle's Emerald?
>>
>>5047127
nevermind. I see it now.
>>
>>5047106
Amethyst is Definitely Gina
Citrine is Rath
Binary star is a mystery, I wonder who that is.
>>
>>5047128
(No worries!)

>>5047126
(Are you voting to approach the patient star, or were you just quoting?)
>>
>>5047132
quoting.
>>
>>5047126
could be, but really doesn't feel like it fits her personality at all.
Powerful? maybe. but Majestic and Patient? im not seeing it, especially as this is supposed to be their deeper self, not shown persona.

>>5047130
...oh.... OH!
Anon you just fucking made me realize something pretty damn important from that.
see, i was gonna say "Well, its Orwell, she went with them right?"
but obviously, that didnt sound right in my brain.
because she didnt. because shes with us.
except my mind forgot that because she has no soul orb here.
>>
>>5047133
(Okay, I just wanted to clarify. Thank you!)
>>
>>5047130
>>5047134

so Orwell can not be seen with us..... that is interesting and disconcerting.

on the other hand it could be that she is mired in different glows due to getting sustenance from the emotions of other people. Or she is bound to someone or something else.

>>5047115
very true.... though Isabelle is probably still has a lot of feelings for Shu and seeing that she is so busy with everyone else probably hurts her that she can not have us alone with her... not saying that is what she would try when she would come back but something probably gnawing at her thoughts.


and at least i am on time for this one i was just so tired yesterday after visiting the gym i promptly went to sleep after cleaning up
>>
>>5047134
>Silverblue
hmmm....Charon? Likely her because the silver reminds me of how Hexane aesthetics can't really perceive.
Or Marrow Dragoon? Then again, Mara's soul color would be steel grey if the phrase "Eyes are the window to the soul and eye color defines it" holds true in the setting.

>Orwell being with Shu in the liminal soul space
That doesn't really make sense. Only the holder of the Silver key would be able to stay this long in the liminal soul space, otherwise we would've felt the presence of another silver key in the space and would've been able to interact with Orwell.
>>
>>5047134
>>5047139
so that begs the question: Where in this liminal soul space is Orwell physically?
>>
>>5047141
no... anon reread what i said.
I didn't say Orwell herself should be here, I pointed out she was with us but she doesn't have a soul orb here to represent her. that clearly means something.

>>5047139
honestly the reasons could be pretty damn extensive and we probably wont know unless told while were here or we ask her.
it could just be she doesn't have any insecurities shes hiding, so theres not 'truth' to show up. or it could be the Orwell with us is actually a construct. or maybe she has a secret relic or ability that shields her from this.
or it could be Orwell is literally for some reason soulless.

like i said, the list is long as to why. the important thing is for us to remember its a thing.
>>
>>5047144
>soul-less in the realm of the soul
>is physically frail
>feeds on the emotions of daughters to sustain herself
Could...Could Orwell be a daughter who is a hidden "Deprived" class?

like. I know it's probably a joke saying about how "greedy business people have no soul", but if we're in the realm of the soul, it would make sense. Mara can't ascend the cord because she's a deprived. So why hasn't Orwell for all her power and obsession of infosec, hasn't ascended the cord? Instead she opted to entrench herself in human society and feed off of people's emotions.
>>
>>5047142
well, there doesn't seem to be much of a place to hide here, so my guess is nowhere.
her physical self is with everyone elses, she just has something going on to not have a soul orb.

>>5047126
>We've now have the insight of their insecurities. If anything, we should approach these subjects in a one on one fashion in the real.
maybe, but we need to first tell the group it happened in the first place, then leave it open to them after we apologize we're willing to talk to any of them about it if THEY want to, when they're ready. otherwise not our place to push the issue.
with one exception; Nerada.
and i say this because the difference is our family and friends know we can be trusted and all that, and some of those issues arent even exactly unknown.
But Nerada needs to at least be reassured that what we heard and what it means wont ruin her chances of staying friendly with us. its not right we heard without her permission, but its also something that now that its happened we need to make sure its not something that drives her away, due to her having a looser connection to us and our family.
>>
>>5047142
>>5047144

Orwell is not a Ginger is she?

Though Rath has a soul Orb..... so she at least has a soul.... Maybe Orwell is the devil herself........ I am joking

But the theory of her being possibly a construct is something we should keep in mind.

>>5047106
> whisper "I won't leave you alone again if i can do anything to help it my daughter."
>>Ascend the mountain to meet the patient sun.

i think meeting the Sun could be interesting. And with what we know of Ozmas it is that she is not the most patient and also not truly with us. If we could see her from here that would mean we could probably at least make out small motes where daughters congregate between us.... or its just those people we actually have a true connection with that show up and the stronger the connection the more easily we can actually see them.

Also not married to the first bit. but getting reassurance might be something to make Amara truly happy instead of her trying to pretend to be happy.
>>
>>5047148
hrm... I mean that might be the answer to why her soul orb isnt here but im otherwise sure she didn't climb the cord due to figuring like others it clearly wasn't actually a good idea.
we know to some degree people figured out before us the Cord was a trap(with others just having moral issues with it), but it wasn't til after us people figured out openly there were other options if you did climb it, i think.
>>
>>5047150
im not against the first bit but two thoughts
>make sure we actually direct and instead whisper the line to Amaras S.O.
and/or
>Just give a general apology and statement to all of them before heading off.

also the 'my daughter' part im not against per say, it just feels a little weirdly worded or something.
>>
>>5047156
so more like

> use your mind to direct a whisper to Amaras Soul Orb "Don't worry Amara I won't leave you alone again if i can do anything to help it."
>direct your mind to the other orbs afterwards and give them a small apology that you will take just a little while longer
>>Ascend the mountain to meet the patient sun.

the 'my daughter' part is not somethign i can actually truly improve on...... i know it was a bit tacked on. but i think she needs the acknowledgment. which we could possibly give her by calling her the name we gave her.
>>
>>5047158
>>5047156
Making a direct whisper to Amara's Soul Orb with a promise that we won't leave her is gonna be a really big promise that we're gonna have to hold ourselves to. Are you folks sure we'll be able to hold onto that promise?
Childhood can't last forever. Eventually Amara will have to grow up. If anything we need to prepare her to be able to learn and move on for the event we do have to leave.
>>
>>5047158
i think adding an 'And' after 'small apology' would fit better but otherwise sure.
though im unsure we need to or can use our mind to say these things. we can probably just say it, to make sure they actually hear it.

as for the 'daughter' bit, maybe something like.
>"im truly do see you as my Daughter, never doubt that."
or something.
>>
>>5047167
i get the technicality you're meaning, but i thiiink she would understand we mean a more metaphorical or support type idea.
ok, well, re-reading it, i get what you mean.
i interpreted more as the 'you're always welcome back at home' and 'ill always be here to hear you out' and 'ill always support your endeavors'
over a 'i will literally never leave you alone and never expect you to be by yourself or not stand on your own' type deal.

>>5047158
>>5047167
maybe reword it to be a more 'ill always be here for you when you need me' or 'know you always have a place by my side when you need it' or something thats basically means the same thing but is harder to misinterpret?
>>
>>5047173
>>5047158

>maybe reword it to be a more 'ill always be here for you when you need me' or 'know you always have a place by my side when you need it' or something that basically means the same thing but is harder to misinterpret?

Sure, but that vague generality is what got Amara burned once before in her past. It's very clear that she has parental abandonment issues, so issuing the same sort of promise would be a retread of old traumas.
>>
>>5047167
that is the >if i can do anything to help it.
Part.
But i see your point.

>>5047168
>>5047173
Should i write something like

>"I wont leave you alone to learn and grow. Know that i will be there for you when you need me."
or
>"I will make sure that i won't just abandon you after all of this is over and you will always have a place by my side"

WOuld that be better? She does realize herself that she wants to grow and become stronger
>>
Blerg, getting here a bit late, had stuff to take care of this morning that kept me away from a keyboard, let's see...

>>5047106
Yeah, I kind of saw this coming, but was hoping we might get something other than depressing insights into people's insecurities. Sad, that. Well, we should leave. Being here has the same problem as the telepathy we specifically cut off. It's an imposition on the privacy of the people we care for. They deserve better than that.

>>5047130
I think it's the Apocalypse Amalgams, maybe. Binary star fits how Ziz bonded with Amara and her heterochromia, and Amethyst and Citrine would fit Leviathan and Behemoth being potential binding partners to Gina and Rath.

>>5047134
Oh shit, you're right, I forgot about Orwell. Well, that provides some more evidence for the "that's not her real body" theory of mine. Her soul-orb is back at the Panopticon, this is just an avatar so it doesn't have its own here.
>>
>>5047106
for now changing my vote from >>5047150
to just

>>Ascend the mountain to meet the patient sun.

until i figure out something better..... dang i'm hungry..... i just wanted to start cooking but this is a bit more important for the moment.
>>
>>5047176
ehhh, but with that logic we shouldn't be trying to be a parent to her at all, which i dont think is what she needs.
and we're also way too late to not do.

she wants and needs good parents, all kids do, its like extremely important. us being the one she didnt get isnt at all a bad thing. its just a matter of giving her realistic expectations and then living up to them, which so long as we word it right i dont think this will interfere with.
>>
>>5047180
huh...You're right. why didn't I think of that before?
>>
>>5047180
>I think it's the Apocalypse Amalgams, maybe.
i still at least want to double check. in part because the mountain its on seems different than the mountain range said amalgam is supposed to be on, and that it just seems too potentially different that at least checking out if it truly is more of a 'this place' thing cant hurt. we'll just have to not talk i guess, and see if not doing that still allows us to see what it is.

the Amythest and Citrine im positive are Gina and Rath though. too close to be the Amalgams, especially if you're right about the mountain as those ones are nowhere near as big or bright as that one is.

>>5047179
maybe something like
>"Amara, know i will always be here for you when you need me. You'll always have a place by my side, and know you are a Daughter to me, truly."
>>
>>5047182
>>5047181
Hmm... how about something akin to this?:

>"Don't Cry when it's over. Smile because it happened."
Taking a quote from Dr. Seuss here.

The Core message is to cherish the good things in life, even after it is long over. Amara might lose Shu as a parent if the endgame forces separation, but the lesson she learns that she will have many happy memories of her childhood.
>>
>>5047189
eh, feels too off the mark from the core issue shes having.
maybe this is just something best addressed with her herself, or something.
>>
>>5047183
I'd also hypothesize that the yellow light surrounded by a group of many other lights might be West Prime. I can't recall an explicit mention of West's eye color, but her art is Rutile from Houseki no Kuni, whose eyes are yellow, so it would fit. Let's avoid that light.

>>5047188
The thing on the mountain is definitely something unique. If that's anything we've encountered before, it's the Nothing, but even that feels unlikely.

As for the Amara issue, personally I'm against saying anything. Talking to Amara about her worries of abandonment is something to do with her conscious mind, not to whisper in her subconscious through an extradimensional link. It's the same problem as if we had kept our telepathy instead of excising it. It's a weird exertion of power, to say something to them that they can't consciously respond to.
>>
>>5047188
>>5047189
how about we combine these and use them both?


i think Amara needs the reassurance that we will always have a place for her in our heart and that should hte worst come to pass she will still stay strong even if we should onlly remain a memory...

can't stay long dont want the fish to burn
>>
>>5047191
hmmm... sage advice.

>>5047105
>make note of the worries of the Blue/brown binary star, but don't reach out.
>Ascend the mountain to meet the patient sun.
>>
>>5047193
eh, now it feels like we're trying to overbloat the message.
like i said we might be better off just waiting to say anything deep til we see her in person.

>>5047191
>>5047193
>>5047189
yeah, thats a good point.
trying to go too deep here on their souls or whatever might have unintended effects.

after thinking on it more, i think i agree we either stay quiet or just give a general light apology to the group at best.
>>
>>5047106
>>Ascend the mountain to meet the patient sun.
>>Write-In
>Don't say anything to any of the lights. Not here, at least.
>On our way to the mountain, avoid the yellow light. Just in case.

We definitely should do something about our friends' insecurities, but they deserve to have those talks as actual conversations and not subliminal whispers. Though props to Dorian, I guess. He's got some worries, but his subconscious mind is focusing on coming up with mature, responsible ways to address and manage those worries. Good for him. I know my subconscious isn't that sensible.
>>
File: Ash and Dust.jpg (334 KB, 1170x700)
334 KB
334 KB JPG
>>5047105

You reach out to the two-tone light, desperate to—

…No.

No, this is exactly what you were trying to avoid. Your family’s hopes, fears, and dreams—their deepest selves are all laid bare before you in this place between places…and it’s not your place to influence them in a way they have no say in.

There’s a reason you turned your back on the empathic field.

There’s a reason you relinquished control.

Turning on your heel, you start making your way to the mountain as the volume of lights start to thin, a long stretch of empty white space between you and your goal. You walk, and with every step the void shifts to a darker shade of white. It’s a paradox…the darkest shade of white, a hue that defies explanation as your feet begin to shuffle through what feels like soft granules of sand. Ahead of you, the mountain’s base is surrounded by low-lying corona of luminescence, a will-o-wisp haze that serves as your guide in the unknown.

You trudge forward and the sand comes up to your ankles, then your knees, and finally you’re struggling to push through a sea of this strange material that’s almost at your waist. A few meters ahead of you a pair of lights dance about, whizzing this way and that as they dash themselves against each other over and over again. You’re almost upon them when the two lights surge towards each other one final time, and when one explodes into embers you feel fear and regret lance through your heart. The annihilated star’s embers fade to dull ash as they float down to join countless others in this ocean of soot and decay.

You look up to find the survivor darting desperately towards the mountain, and you barely have enough time to focus before it’s snuffed out by a trio of stars what sweep mercilessly past it. They, too, surge to join the haze…the swirl of vicious lights that guided you here revealing itself to be a swarm of hundreds, thousands of lights clashing and burn against one another, starbursts heralding the ends of lives in a display of sordid splendor.

It would be beautiful, if you didn’t know it was a massacre.

The lights ignore you as you push onwards, past the ocean of extinguished lives, past the bursting stars overhead, even as every snuffed light pierces your heart with dreams left wanting. You try to shut it out as the ground begins to slope upwards, and within moments you’re reduced to scaling the cliff face, struggling to find white handholds on white rock against a white sky. Glancing down, the haze is just that—a distant horror, but one that still clings to you. Where you’ve scaled is marked by ash and dust, a streak of grey up an otherwise pristine surface.

You keep climbing.

You have to.

You keep climbing.

It’s a part of you.

You climb.

What else is there to do?

You…

What else are you good for?

You-

(Continue)
>>
>>5047241

You keep climbing, pausing only when you encounter a feeble spark whose descent slows even as you begin to pass it. It stutter-stops in place, and you watch as the light coils painfully, twisting upon itself before its form can’t take the pressure—it implodes under its own self-inflicted strain, the embers flickering into nothingness. You pause for a moment.

Then you keep climbing.

A shadow, in this domain of light and radiance. You first notice it from a distance—first a speck, now an affront as you start to pass it. The thing’s body boils, a fetid, semi-liquid vichyssoise of bubbling shadow with hard lines and jagged shapes floating just beneath its surface. It ascends alongside you like a fell insect, six scrambling limbs helping it claw its gurgling bulk up the mountainside.

It turns to you, and you can feel it smile.

‘Hello Darling’



…you keep climbing.

When you finally haul yourself over the precipice, you’re met with the reason you came here. A sun whose splendor and radiance seems to make this place of brightness pale in comparison. This close, what you took for silver is revealed to be a warm, bright grey that’s marbled with stunning blue. Behind it, the mountain’s peak can now be seen—the sun’s brightness obscured it, but you see now that you have not quite reached the summit. A throne sits, perched haphazardly on the jagged peak…in it, a small, wan light rests, defeated. Ready to be swept away.

A conqueror’s reward.

A Mother’s throne.

A fool’s prize.

“Hello.”

The sun’s voice is as sad as it is warm, tired as it is steadfast. You can feel the smile in its greeting, and it’s a true one, not the baring of teeth from the earlier shadow.

“Hello…” You reply, the familiarity of the presence slowly dawning on you. “…Mara.”

“It’s good to see you’re well, Shu.” Her radiant presence intones. “You’ve taken to the Silver Key faster than I did. And combining it with the Vorpal Knife? You never cease to impress.”

The last time you saw the Crucible’s finest warrior, it was in the aftermath of your greatest victory…one that followed your greatest failure. She stood as a beacon, once…she still does, her influence felt in every step of your journey up to this point. Some good, some bad, but all of it the building blocks that’ve helped you get this far, this fast.

After all this time…

…what do you say?

>>”Is this the Cord?”

>>”What is this place?”

>>”How do you know how I got here?”

>>”…I need to talk to you about Magpie.”

>>Say nothing. Just sit with her here, for a little while.

>>If you're going to talk to Mara, it'll be in the real...tell her you'll be in touch, then let yourself be pulled back to reality.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE BOTH IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in four.)
>>
>>5047245
>You keep climbing, pausing only when you encounter a feeble spark whose descent slows even as you begin to pass it.
Don't you mean "ascent" instead of descent?
>>
>>5047245
>A shadow, in this domain of light and radiance. You first notice it from a distance—first a speck, now an affront as you start to pass it. The thing’s body boils, a fetid, semi-liquid vichyssoise of bubbling shadow with hard lines and jagged shapes floating just beneath its surface. It ascends alongside you like a fell insect, six scrambling limbs helping it claw its gurgling bulk up the mountainside.
>It turns to you, and you can feel it smile.
>‘Hello Darling’
Oh that is definitely West Prime. Only she would address us as 'darling'. And we now know a hint of what West prime's true form looks like.
>>
>>5047245

>A shadow, in this domain of light and radiance. You first notice it from a distance—first a speck, now an affront as you start to pass it. The thing’s body boils, a fetid, semi-liquid vichyssoise of bubbling shadow with hard lines and jagged shapes floating just beneath its surface. It ascends alongside you like a fell insect, six scrambling limbs helping it claw its gurgling bulk up the mountainside.

So.... Prime eh..... well well well...... even her soul feels fetid

And that No Mans Land truly is a place where massacres are commonplace.

>The sun’s voice is as sad as it is warm, tired as it is steadfast. You can feel the smile in its greeting, and it’s a true one, not the baring of teeth from the earlier shadow.

Mara eh i would say good to see you. but that does show that she has a soulpresence even as one of the deprived. So whatever the hell is up with Orwell just means that she is not a deprived that we could find with this method.

And she does seem to be tired.... the great dragon of the crucible. A master of War and the seeker of a way to surpass the hunger with a oceans worth of horrendous things she committed in her search Oh how Avenger would love to devour HER
>>
>>5047245
>A throne sits, perched haphazardly on the jagged peak…in it, a small, wan light rests, defeated. Ready to be swept away.

Heavy is the burden of the throne, and the crown who rests upon the brow. Ozmas, your eternal rest comes soon.
>>
>>5047245
vote;
>blink
>take a moment to let this all set in, to reorient yourself to what this all is.
>then... ask her a simple, straightforward question.
>"How are you? Holding up alright?"
>As she answers, take a seat next to her spark, and if shes interested, fill her in on whats been going on.
>after, ask her what this place is.


also, West Primes soul has become the antithesis of light and what a soul seems to supposed to be. the scary thing is, i doubt thats just a metaphor. at least some of the lights we saw fighting at this point cant have good motives to still be going for the cord, yet still were normal despite all that even reaching the cord alone may imply.
Im terrifyingly positive West Prime probably purposefully did that to her soul, herself, like with science.
>>
>>5047257
*Bamboozle intensifies*

(In all seriousness, I do mean ascent.)
>>
>>5047260
>>5047263

HOLD UP. WAIT A MINUTE. NOTICE THIS

>YOU ARE BOTH IN CONTROL

What and why is this?
>>
>>5047266
... both... so Mara is in Control as well?

intersting. So she can easily choose to end this at a moments notice. Very very interesting.

>>5047263
good start. before we leave we should ask her if she knows of any other such items like the vorpal blade.....

also that name... now i am very very worried for our head. One natural crit and jack just kills us by chopping off our head.
>>
>>5047266
well, it is Mara.
if anyone else would also have control, its her.
probably mostly metaphorical but we're also in i guess the fucking afterlife or something so who knows?
(and i get its maybe not technically or exactly the afterlife but it certainly aint normal reality or the dreamscape and we gotta call it something).
>>
>>5047268
sure, but it would be unusual(though not impossible) for us not to get a chance to ask her more.
only other thing i'd add starting off is if we care about being humble enough to mention this was an accident. but that feels pretty unimportant overall.
>>
>>5047269
well we could call it the Warp. the realm of souls
i know i know not the best thing

or maybe the Space between... this feels like a place that is just between... between atoms between moments

>>5047271
oh absolutely we can probably ask her more later.

i was just throwing things out we might want to ask before leaving.
>>
File: 1598236058029.jpg (1.59 MB, 1536x2000)
1.59 MB
1.59 MB JPG
>>5047245
Vote.
>Sit down besides Mara.
>"I have so many questions, too many. And not enough time."

And not enough time to stay, for I'm leaving for work in less than 10 minutes.
>>
>>5047273
hope work doesn't beat you down too harshly.
i need a nap myself here soon.

>>5047272
I mean any of them work.
speaking of which, its pretty morbid that we just pushed our way through basically a lake if not an ocean of soul corpse. i think thats a 'long shower with a tough scrubber' type moment right there.
>>
>>5047273
(Have a good day at work!)
>>
>>5047273
dang man. I hope that work won't break you and you will have a good day
i will head to bed soon. i feel like i was beaten with a stick over the head


>>5047278
yeah...... not just long Shower with a tough scrubber for me....

If that was me i would probably skin myself to be able to grow completely new skin that was not tainted by Soul Ash.

And to be honest i would Probably call this the Realm of Souls. this does not seem to be the void with Nothing at least... but probably half way there. Definetly better than the Afterlife... Since there is not a lot of living being done here after being killed.
>>
>>5047245
>>sit down next to Mara after taking a moment to reorient yourself a bit
>>"How are you? Are you holding up well?"
>>"Could you see what was going on from here or do you want me to fill you in?"
>>if she wants to be filled in do it and then ask her what exactly this place is and if it could be described as a Realm of Souls or if it actually has a name
>>
>>5047245
Wow. Mara must be mighty indeed, to have such a bright-shining light. I didn't even consider that it might be her. Impressive.

Also, interesting to hear that I was wrong about who the yellow light was. I wonder who that is, then, if West Prime is a terrifying inverted shadow monster? Maybe we'll meet them.

>>Write-In
>"How have you been, Mara? It looks like you're holding down the fort well enough, but I still can't imagine it's been easy. I saw West on my way here, has she been giving you any trouble?"
>"We've been giving her some, if that's any help. What do you know about the world outside the No Man's Land, do I need to catch you up on anything?"
>Let that conversation play out, then
>"Earlier, you sounded as if my getting here by combining the Key and Knife wasn't the expected way for someone to access this plane. What do you know about them? I've learned enough to tell they're something ancient, maybe even tied to the Crucible's origins, but there's a lot that's still vague. Where'd you even find the Key?"

I want to ask her about Magpie. But at the same time, I really don't want to ask her about Magpie until we've recovered Magpie's notes. We need to get on that. We should be in the right area for it after watching the Dissociated's launch, let's swing by Magpie's nest afterward and defeat her traps. Orwell and Amara couldn't do it, but throw in Shu, Gina and Francine to help defuse the defenses and Rath to tank any hits and we can probably get it open.
>>
File: Marrow Dragoon.jpg (486 KB, 1000x1500)
486 KB
486 KB JPG
>>5047245

You simply stand there a moment, and Mara seems content to let you reorient in silence. Finally, you take a seat next to the solar presence and glance up with your best attempt at a warm smile. "How are you? Are you holding up well?"

“As well as I could expect, here.” She replies to your pleasantries with a throaty chuckle. “The Cord’s hardly the most forgiving of places, particularly to those who’d bar the way for others.”

“Wait…you’re *in* the Cord?”

“I am. Just below the administrator’s throne, in fact.”

“But I thought you were just going to wait for me at the base?”

“That was my initial plan, but Sargatanas made it clear that he would not tolerate any attempt to act as a second moderator. After we had a surprisingly pleasant discussion, he graciously relented to me ascending. I’m sure he didn’t expect me to camp out just below game’s end…” She informs you, adding slyly; “…but then again, he didn’t ask.”

"Could you see what was going on from here or do you want me to fill you in?" You ask, still trying to recover from the revelation of her self-appointed task.

“Oh, I’ve been able to keep up with current events well enough. I’d much rather focus on what lies ahead than what’s past.” She solemnly declares, and you can feel her studying your eyes for a second before you speak again.

“So…what is this place, exactly?” You ask, unwilling to broach the subject that’s tugging at you mind as you instead cast your gaze across the bright white void. “It feels like the Dreamscape, but…not, somehow. I don’t know what to call it. It’s like some sort of…realm of souls, I guess?”

Mara laughs, and from the raw sound of it you get the feeling that it’s the first cause she’s had for one in quite some time.

“Ha, well…I suppose that’s one name for it. It is, in essence, the Dreamscape—stripped of the control granted to those that would inhabit it.”

“I…how so?”

“The Dreamscape grants a surprising level of autonomy to Dream Daughters. In my explorations with the Silver Key, I realized that the Dreamscape Phantasmal Conduits and other Daughters are able to casually access is something of an overlay on a far older, baser system. A thing of raw thought and emotion, where those within are merely things to be acted upon rather than individuals to be interacted with. ” Mara explains, her avatar of light lowering itself to sit next to you. “Defenses, rights, and customizability. If this were purely a battle royale, then what is the point of installing a system that grants these by default to those that would no longer be able to participate? I…”

She pauses.

“…I have had a great deal of time to think up here. Too much, for my taste.” She chuckles, this one possessed with a grim edge as she peers over the cliff. “I know that one will be here soon. The thing that West Prime’s become.”

(Continued)
>>
>>5047400

“Can you beat her?” You ask, and Mara merely sighs.

“In a one-on-one fight? I believe so…though I doubt she will give me the opportunity to try.” The older woman intones with an audible scowl. “While ascent is encouraged in the Cord, descending is patently impossible. And believe me, I’ve tried. I presume West will hedge her bets and camp just below me to feed on the steady stream of hopefuls that manage to reach her. A spider with a constant supply of flies…it’s just like her.”

“So…what? Is she trying to starve you out?” You ask, alarmed.

“Oh, I doubt it. I’m fairly certain she’s ascertained the true nature of my Core by now…as, it seems, have you.” The Marrow Dragoon muses. “The Hunger is something that ceased to be a concern for me some time ago. As long as a Deprived can exercise their power, then they feed passively. No, I imagine that her plan is rather similar to mine, in some respects.”

“Which is?”

“To wait for you.” Comes Mara’s chilling answer. “She presumes to be able to defeat you and your family, and then, in turn, kill me and hack into the administrator’s throne to assume direct control of our Crucible.”

A cold silence settles between you two as you stare out into the void, watching the lights below dash themselves against the uncaring wall that is the Cord.

“I’m so sorry.”

Four quiet syllables, so quiet that you might’ve missed them if they’d been uttered in the real world. As it is, Mara’s apology carries the weight of the world on its shoulders…and perhaps the weight of deeds best left forgotten.

“If I could win this, I would.” She continues, softly. “But if it’s you, then…I think I can accept that. Maybe it’s a silly thing, after all I’ve done, but…”

She speaks, and you can feel the wry, sad smile in every word.

“I hope you don’t hate me, by the end of all this.”

>>Ask if there was a reason she decided to back your journey so fervently.

>>If you lose…if you die…what then? Does Mara have a backup plan?

>>Ask her the nature of her Deprived Core...and what influence she's wrought with it.

>>Bring up Magpie…she died trying to undo what Mara had done, and the question remains; why?

>>Tell her you'll decide that in person...because you'll be seeing her soon (Leave the Nullscape).

>>Write-In

YOU ARE BOTH IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume tomorrow morning at 10AM, Eastern time. I do hope that you have a pleasant evening, and thank you for your patience, participation, and enthusiasm.)
>>
>>5047403
vote;
>"I dont hate you. Its obvious, everytime we meet, everytime we talk, that now at least, you do truly care to help me, help others, and help this world as best you can. and im grateful for it, and what you've done for me and mind, and i hope you dont ever let yourself forget that..."
>Turn, and give her an honest, sad, but firm look.
>"...but there are things that have come up, things that make me have to question if that was always the case, things that have made me realize I should've been just looking at you, instead of looking up at you... and answers to those would do alot i think to settle some minds, even if the truth of them isnt what we may want it to be."
>Ask her about Magpie, about the settlement and the strange 'infection' about you and others.
>Ask her what it was really all about, before she found you.
>"...and if theres any last leftovers of hers you may need to look out for, good, bad, or outright strange."
>>
File: FBGQM9vVcAAw-hG.jpg (220 KB, 1372x1498)
220 KB
220 KB JPG
>>5047404
pleasant enough.
thanks for running today and hope your afternoon is a bit better than yesterdays.
>>
>>5047403
Having trouble formulating my thoughts here for a proper write-in. I'm trying to say that we don't really know Mara well enough to hate her. That for all that we want to trust her, she's still very much a cypher to us. What has she done, who has she hurt, we don't know. We can guess that she's killed some people who were notionally innocent, given that she was hunting Kosi, but, and this is sad to say about the Crucible, that's not that evil. I mean, we've killed some people who were notionally innocent, we'd be a hypocrite to say that it's irredeemable. Hell, we're hanging out with B'Ni, even. So what's this horrible evil thing that she feels we might hate her for? Something to do with her settlements? We need to actually know more, Mara, being all "perhaps you might hate me, if you did know" isn't helping anyone. It's just a holding pattern.
>>
>>5047403
>>Write-In
>"I hope so, too."
>"I appreciate all you've done for me, Mara, and I truly believe that whatever decisions you've made it was with the best intentions in mind. But there's so much I don't know about your actions, it makes it difficult for me to judge how I should feel about you. Truth be told, it's why I kept putting off calling you up on that FuzzBuzz I left you. I wanted to find more context before we had this conversation. Whoops."
>"But we're here now, so I might as well ask: What was the plan, Mara? Even with your Core, I'm pretty sure I was a last-minute addition. What were you building up to, and what did you have to do to make it possible? Does it have something to do with why Magpie decided to tear it all down?"
>"I know you've got regrets over this, Mara, and it's painful to drag it all back up. But that's why I want to trust you. If you were just a monster you wouldn't care. So please, talk with me. Help me understand."

Yeah, I'm not entirely happy with this, but I'm having trouble writing today and I'm tired of agonizing over making it perfect. I'll just leave it as something for BHOP to dismantle and use as he sees fit with the other write-in.
>>
>>5047404
>>5047491
i'll go ahead and say BHOP can mix and mash as he thinks is appropriate with these.
still think i like the overall feel of mine better but i get some of the points and such the other anon was going for.
>>
File: 1598247422749.jpg (108 KB, 1024x575)
108 KB
108 KB JPG
>>5047404
See you tomorrow.

I swear, sometimes my progress with the Cradleton re-write feels so much slower to the point where I'm afraid that even if I do finish the story, in-quest time would have advanced so far that the ramifications of Carter's misadventures would feel like "last minute additions" to quest canon.

The storyline is clear, the beats straightened by the muse, yet the words are slow to flow from mind to matter.

Sometimes I wish I could crank out chapters with as much content and speed as your updates.

How's the hive rework coming along?
>>
>>5047403
I'll try to stitch together these two posts:

>>5047408
>>5047491

Into this:

>"I hope so, too. It's obvious, every time we meet, every time we talk, that now at least, you do truly care. You've helped me, others, and this world as best as you could. I appreciate all you've done for me, Mara, and I truly believe that whatever decisions you've made it was with the best intentions in mind. I hope you don't ever let yourself forget that."
>Turn, and give her an honest, sad, but firm look.
>"...But there are things that have come up. Things that have made me question if that was always the case, that have made me realize I should have been just looking AT you, instead of UP at you. There's so much I don't know about your actions, it makes it difficult for me to judge how I should feel about you. Truth be told, it's why I kept putting off calling you up on that FuzzBuzz I left you. I wanted to find more context before we had this conversation. Whoops.
>"But we're here now, so I might as well ask: What was the plan, Mara? Even with your Core, I'm pretty sure I was a last-minute addition. What were you building up to, and what did you have to do to make it possible? Does it have something to do with why Magpie decided to tear it all down?"
>"I know you've got regrets over this, Mara, and it's painful to drag it all back up. But that's why I want to trust you. If you were just a monster like West, you wouldn't care about everything you've done, good and bad. So please, talk with me. Help me understand, while we have a chance to fix things."
>>
(Writing now, everyone. Will be posting shortly.)
>>
File: Marrow Dragoon, Helm.jpg (221 KB, 668x1012)
221 KB
221 KB JPG
>>5047403

"I hope so, too.” You reply, keeping your voice level even as you tread into territory you’ve been dreading. “It's obvious, every time we meet, every time we talk, that now at least…you do truly care. You've helped me, others, and this world as best as you could. I appreciate all you've done for me, Mara, and I truly believe that whatever decisions you've made it was with the best intentions in mind. I hope you don't ever let yourself forget that…"

You shift your focus to Mara, staring into the impossible brightness that you can somehow fix with a long, hard look.

"...But there are things that have come up. Things that have made me question if that was always the case, that have made me realize I should have been just looking AT you, instead of UP at you. There's so much I don't know about your actions, it makes it difficult for me to judge how I should feel about you. Truth be told, it's why I kept putting off calling you up on that FuzzBuzz I left you. I wanted to find more context before we had this conversation.”

She’s quiet for a moment, and you can feel her avatar pulse with brief confusion, then solemn realization, and finally a pulse of guilt before she dares to speak again.

“…When I gave you access to my home, did you find my study?” She asks, and you have to admit that wasn’t a counter-question you were expecting.

“I think so, yes.”

“It was empty, then?”

“…Yeah. I figured you’d cleared it out before we fought the Spiraling Fear.” You confess, and there it is again—that twinge of self-condemnation. “What was in it?”

“The context you’re asking for. Likely stolen by one who assumed you the truth would hamper what I saw in you.” She sighs, and then, with a wry chuckle; “Ha…I suppose this is what I get for being a coward.”

"Look, all that aside—we're here now, so I need to know; what was the plan, Mara?” You press on insistently. “Even with your Core, I'm pretty sure I was a last-minute addition. What were you building up to, and what did you have to do to make it possible? Does it have something to do with why Magpie decided to tear it all down?"

You can feel her open her mouth at the top of the Cord, so many miles away…and then close it, her throat working to explain that which she thought you already knew.

"I know you've got regrets over this, Mara, and it's painful to drag it all back up. But that's why I want to trust you. If you were just a monster like West, you wouldn't care about everything you've done, good and bad. So please, talk with me. Help me understand, while we have a chance to fix things."

“…very well.” She relents, and the radiance that is her soul turns to you, fully. Honestly.

Holding nothing back.

(Continued)
>>
>>5047974

“All my life, I’ve been fighting.” She begins. “Before the Crucible consumed our world, I fought to be at the top. I fought, and I won. In school. In college. In my post-graduate studies. And, finally…in banking. Deposits, returns, investments; the flow appealed to me, made sense. Almost as much as how easy it was to control it. Then the Crucible came, and control became my greatest strength…and the albatross around my neck.”

As she speaks, her form begins to slowly coalesce into something resembling her human form. She’s staring down at her hands, fingers splayed out as she recalls how it all began.

“It started as a small thing, quite weak, in fact—if I influenced something or someone, that interaction fed me and strengthened my Crucible body. The more profound or complex the interaction, the greater the boon. Eventually, as my power matured I found that I could subtly influence the direction events would take if my influence was in a great concentration, albeit in minor ways. But it was enough.”

“You…you draw power from control, itself?” You ask, and you can feel her confirming nod.

“I do. As a deprived, however…I could control everything but what mattered most. It was plain to see the Cord was a trap, but any interaction of a Deprived with any win condition would result in the eradication of humanity as a whole. Everything in my life had built up to this. I fought, I won. And now, when the fate of humanity as a species was a game to be conquered…I couldn’t.”

“So…” You say, realizing where she’s going.

“So…if I could not win personally? Then I would crown the winner, myself.”

Mara looks up, gazing down across the vastness of the null space before you.

“I searched for years, and all the while I expanded my influence. Building settlements as I went and empowering those who showed promise, or a new idea to save the world that I’d never even conceived of. There were so many, Shu. So many people with hopes, and dreams, and plans that could have saved this world. So many worthier than I to direct humanity to a brighter, better future.”

“What happened to them?” You ask, softly.

“They died.” She quietly replies. “Or went mad. Or abandoned their ideals in the face of man’s inhumanity to man. I tried to shepherd a few personally, but when the extent of what I’d done became clear, they became wary. Fearful. Disillusioned. To prevent that knowledge from damaging present or future investments, I began to restrict the range of what those closest to me could…communicate…about my plans and the lengths I went to, to ensure their growth.”

“The geas.”

(Continued)
>>
File: Monastery.jpg (47 KB, 493x600)
47 KB
47 KB JPG
>>5047976

“Indeed.” She admits with no small amount of reluctance. “It was, in retrospect, barbaric. Fueled more by paranoia than good will. It was quite possible to reverse the process. If I’d known what Magpie was planning to do, then I would have removed it personally, without question. She could have simply asked—I would have done it, happily. After what she did, it became clear to me that she did not understand me, fully…and since she robbed you of the files and notes that were rightfully yours, it seems she did not understand you, either.”

“What was she trying to keep from me, then?” You press on. “What didn’t she want me to know?”

“I built settlements. Three different types, for three distinct purposes.” She intones, pushing onwards despite the regret in her voice. “The first were experiments, where alternative methods of Hunger prevention could be tested and observed. The Altered Altar is one such place.”

“I’m familiar with it, yes…it's the reason you were hunting B’ni, I presume."

“It is.” She admits, freely. “The second type were bastions, where Daughters could freely gather and trade information in a defensible location, typically gathered around one or multiple strong personalities. I often installed prospective ascendants there to test their capacity to problem-solve and deal with emergent crises.”

“Like the Monastery.” You forward, and Mara goes quiet for a moment.

“The third were investments.” She continues, resting her hands on her knees meditatively. “Often, I would find a person with great promise, but little power. I had tested giving them Relics, mentoring them personally, forcibly infusing them with strength via the Sparagmos Engines, and even throwing them into difficult situations to speed up their rise to power…the investment principle was a combination of these four philosophies. Places that could serve as both bastions and experiments, until the time came to tip the balance of power in the favor of someone who could save this world.”

She’s staring at you, now. Grey-blue orbs that bore into your skull.

“Investments were designed from their inception to be fallible, where my Core could quickly shift stability into a spiral…one that would create a test that, if conquered, would provide leaps and bounds of power to the worthy. Afterwards, I would bequeath them with a personally-selected stockpile of tools that could help them, and send them on their way. Repeated tests revealed this to be the most efficient method of growth and selection, while simultaneously providing valuable data to ensure exponential growth of future endeavors.”

You just stare at her, your blood running like ice in your veins.

She sounds so much like West, in this moment.

“The Monastery was an investment, Shu...” She confesses.

“…and I cashed it in.”

>>…

>>…

>>…Write-In

YOU ARE BOTH IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in four.)
>>
>>5047984
I want to say this shouldn't of been unexpected, or we already kinda suspected this. or this, or that, or whatever.

but none of that would or is making this hit any less like a punch to the chest or easier to handle.
there is so much to be said or could be said that honestly... im empty handed here. because maybe its just my personal morals but, honestly?

all i can say is.

thats evil. pure, unfathomable evil.
>>
>>5047984
So Mara made sure that the monastery collapsed when she needed it.... not that it might have not collapesed some time in the future anyway..... but she did cash it in as she said.... She forced it so that we could grow stronger. Interesting, disturbing, digsuting and sadly a pretty reasonable thing to do. without it we would have maybe never made it so far or would have been annihalated by Isabelle.

>>5047984
>"You know Mara.... i really really want to hate you right now..... but i can see why you did that. And while i strongly disagree with your methods it was what allowed me to save Gina and make sure Ozmas or someone with her power could not walk the earth again."
>Draw in a deep breath and look towards the bottom of the cord where a sea of destroyed astral selfs roils in the light
>"I can not condone what you did..... and i would have never allowed myself to be used as such if I had known. They say the path to hell is paved with good intentions...... I think that is true.... though we are already all in hell trying to reach paradise."
>lean back a bit
>"I think right now i am just a bit disappointed"


>>5047997
i don't think we can condone this. The pure scope of it speaks of how much of her humanity she has already lost. She truly is a covetous dragon only trying to reach one goal without any regard for how much damage she would cause. I have tried to put my thoughts to text with this write in. I am not particualry angry with her just very disappointed due to her methods even though they allowed us great triumphs they were build on an avoidable tragedy.
>>
>>5047984
vote;
>Take a moment.
>take a few, deep breaths. strong, steady, and just let yourself digest it all.

>Then, quickly turn and slap her. as hard as you can muster.
>no emotion, no boiling of anger, just silent, hard, and fast.

>Sit back down, and let things sit before you respond simply.
>"that was wrong. Unjustifiable. There is no argument possible to make doing that right."
>sigh, and get up.
>"But going on a tangent on you wont change its far too late. You did it, and WE all have to live with it."
>Turn, not even trying to hold back the tears.
>"Im not sure i hate you for it, but i can say this..."
>"my own thoughts on this are irrelevant to the fact that punishment comes to those as they earn it. I can only hope you don't deserve so much it doesn't drag all of us down too... even West."
>Give her her moment to respond, before asking simply how to safely leave, and doing so.
>"Goodbye Mara.... I do hope we can meet again... though why I do will take some time for me to figure out."

i'll admit the 'even west' part may be too much and im open to hearing it be cut, but I both want her to feel a sting aswell as genuinely am trying to get a point across about how big a scope arguably she has wrong things. Even West *technically* longterm wants to "save" Humanity in her own way, sorta. my point being a bit of maybe she doesn't even deserve such a warped view of "save" to happen either.
>>
>>5048009
yeah slapping her might be the right thing though we do not know how that will affect her or us.

the West part is to much. her version of saving humanity is making it into guinea pigs to experiment upon until she gets bored. At least i think that is what she would do before going out and murdering entire civilisations and eventually trying to know everything... and even Nothing and its people.
>>
>>5048007
Im fine with some of the point of yours, but also feel its too lacking in emotion. mainly tidbit like 'a bit' disappointed. nah man, SHU is a person, who is allowed to at least be internally upset, even majorly upset. theres no 'a bit' here. both we and Shu have practically been having an unhealed scar on our heart over the Monastery. This is actually worse than if we had just failed a Friend, or at least very much is an equal side grade. its not a pleasant alternative at all for sure.

I mean... responding to all of it not just the write-in... yeah, we cant condone this. not even a little bit. our whole thing has been 'the ends dont justify the means' and i think we have VERY much proven it CAN work. not gonna say theres no issues, or its not slower, or anything. the point is, we after Mara would never of gotten where we are without that mindset. maybe we still would've gotten SOMEPLACE, but not here, with who we have by our sides and the allies we have.

this is... her simply saying "I am the opposite of all you hold dear." she built everything around 'the ends justifies the means'. she is just a West that lies about it, and im not saying that out of anger. in many ways she is factually that.
>>
>>5048011
you're not wrong but you're forgetting West Primes ultimate goal IS to create paradise for all life.
You can not trust her paradise sure, i dont either, but i do think her end goal is important to why i mentioned her there and my explanation as to why.
>>
>>5047984
That's fucking heavy. To think that the monastery Hunger riot was intentionally triggered.

And this came right on the heels of Isabelle's betrayal.

It hurts. It simply hurts.

>"Mara. I want to ask you one question. Back in your lair, I noticed that you used the restored Sparagmos engine once to revive someone dear to you. Who was she? What happened to her? Was she the catalyst that drove you into paranoia and creating the Geas system?"

>"Mara. I want you to know that there's a small part of me that feels relieved. That you're finally being honest. To know that you've got your own vices and virtues. And yet, there's now a small part of me that can't help but be both disappointed and mad at you for the ocean's worth of sins you've committed to help give people like me as well as the other settlements a fighting chance for survival."

>"You've influenced the events around my life since my birth into this crucible. But I think now's the time for me to cut the cut the puppet strings that's been guiding me so long. I've grown up."

>"When we meet again. I want an apology. For me. And for those who you sacrificed on the altar in your endeavors."

>>5047997
It's a moral horizon to cross. It's Mara's cross to bear. The only thing that's stopping me from going frothing mad is that she's human enough to show that what she did is what she regretted.

>>5048007
>She truly is a covetous dragon only trying to reach one goal without any regard for how much damage she would cause.
The price for power is that it shapes who you are. And for Mara it seems a Dragon who cannot ascend to godhood is the most fitting cost for her "Altruistic Avarice"
>>
>>5048011
>>5048009
Man. This is a hell of a "Broken Pedestal Moment".
>>
>>5048027
Yeah, I mean, I suspected most of this. Getting confirmation hurts, though. Especially because it's actually a bit worse than I expected. I thought she just set up unstable structures and had the good fortune for the Monastery to be collapsing around the time we were there. But actively sabotaging it and forcing that Hunger spiral? Jesus. She owes Uzu an apology that I don't know if it's possible to give.
>>
>>5048017
you do make a good point. To be honest the whole thing with the monestary..... i was there when we fought the spiralling fear... and i did feel quite a few things.

however seeing that Mara truly regrets it.... it just doused that fire of anger i had when i first read her admission and left only bitter Ash. But you are absolutely right. I am not just a bit upset. I am very Very, VERY UPSET with Mara and positively absolutely and completely disappointed in her that she lost her humanity like that.

>>5048027
it kinda okay..... i never actually thought Mara was to be put on a pedestal. After her involvement with the settlements came to light i thought that she was as flawed as any other human with her goals though knowing that she pretty much manipulated causality to make it happen sooner did make me quite angry until that flame got doused to leave only dispappointment.
>>
>>5048022
yeah im not jibing with this one at all.
feels way too emotionless and analytical, and i feel the question and relief statement are misplaced or not the time for.

the puppet parts a nice touch though, and wouldn't mind seeing it weaved in somehow.
>>
>>5048032
It's hard to get emotional into the write-in without going overboard.
I want* to get emotional in the write-in. but lately work and irl events have been eating up so much of my time and energy that I barely have the time to put my proper thoughts into this quest and it's creating a disconnect.
That and the fact that if I *were* to get as emotional as your write-in I fear I would go very overboard in the drama as in "full on essay's worth of anger ranting, burn all bridges and let the world burn in a hunger-madness-meltdown" type emotional.

I dunno. I'll try and spice up my write-in in the time I have left before I have to leave for work.
>>
>>5048027
>>5048031
>pedestal
yeah we all had our reservations about that for awhile now but... seeing it all come together and confirmed as to why she shouldn't have ever had her even remotely on one still stings bad.

>>5048031
nah, im still angry myself. not boiling raving mad, but simple anger.
Been here since the beginning, and this honestly despite being somewhat expected still has gotta hit in the top 3 moment emotionally. expecting something along the lines of it isnt the same as when it actually happens for sure.

>>5048038
ah, well real life nonsense is a fair as hell reason.
that said, just letting the words flow and letting us all see what works from all the options posted has worked wonders before.
>>
>>5048009
>>5048022
>>5048030

>Stand up, draw in a deep breath and look towards the bottom of the cord where a sea of destroyed astral selfs roils in the light of mortal combat.

>Then, quickly turn and slap her. as hard as you can muster.
>no emotion, no boiling of anger, just silent, hard, and fast.

>Sit back down and let things settle for a couple of seconds and give her time to stabilize if needed.
>"You know Mara.... i really really want to hate you right now..... What was wrong. Unjustifiable even. There is nothing that can be argued would make that move right."
>"But going all speechy and on a tangent wont change things. It is too late for that. It happened because you made it happen and WE now have to live with that. You owe Uzu an apology i don't think can ever be truly made."
>Start tearing up a bit
>"I can not condone what you did... but my thoughts are irrelevant. You will be and probably are already being punished even if only by yourself for all that you did."
>"I just hope that it wont drag everything around you with it."

>Give her a moment to respond

>"I am so very disappointed. I looked up to you and now i realize i was little more than a puppet. Mara it is time I cut these strings that hold me to you."
>Breathe in and out once then fixate her with a hard stare.
>"Goodbye Mara. Know that i do not leave with hatred. Though... you will owe all of us a truly monumental apology while i try to figure out how such a meeting in the flesh can every come to be"

Would this be better? It is a lot more emotional without being quite as aggressive.
>>
>>5047612
(The Hive rework is coming nicely, and I completely understand rewrites going slowly. The only reason I'm able to write as much as I do is a combination of a relatively (usually, anyway) light work schedule and the voting times forcing me to write.)

(Having a general outline is definitely key, though. Even a brief sketch of story beats you want to address can help to prompt prompt thoughts to flow.)

(...and in my case, a little bit of scotch never hurts.)
>>
>>5047984
>"do you...have any idea how much the Monastery event has weighed on my mind? How heavy it was to think that it's fall was MY CROSS TO BEAR?"
>"To think that you pulled the strings of causality to nudge Uzu into her hunger spiral?"
>Work up a great deal of energy into an hour long tirade...and then suddenly deflate from exhaustion.
>Lean your head into her chest and beat one fist against her chest in silent anger before going quiet (if possible).
>"Can I ask you one question: Who was it that you revived in the Sparagmos engine back in the lair?"


>>5048046
>>5048040
I can't help but notice that we're missing a very big question: Who exactly did Mara revive back in the lair prior to her handing ownership over? I kinda want to weave in that question in the midst of our response of immense disappointment.
>>
>>5048049
that is a good question.... and something i could probably still add to my write in.......

though what did you thing of that one i made in general? I would like to know if that was closer to the mark or not.
>>
>>5048049
eh, like i said i just feel that questions out of place right now.
was something to have been asked before this, not now.

>>5048046
the part before the 'response pause' is not bad but some changes you made to some lines im not a fan of.

not liking the ending part after at all honestly.
>>
>>5048052
I think you can weave abit of an incoming emotional rant, right after the slap before cutting off the rant and deflating in exhaustion and disappointment before moving on to our next point of response. Because honestly, we're all mad and yet that we can't really hold onto that anger that well before we let go from exhaustion like how the Isabelle betrayal arc left us emotionally exhausted from holding such a long grudge.
>>
>>5048053
any thoughts on my secondary write-in?
>>
>>5047984
>>…Write-In
>"...well, that's...that's...I'm sorry, just give me a moment, please."
>Walk off a slight distance, do some breathing exercises to calm down, then return.
>"I was really hoping I was wrong about that. I guess I was, in a way. I suspected that you had set up your settlements to be unstable. But actively interfering with them, to make them collapse? What the Hell, Mara? What the actual Hell! There are so many other monsters you could have had us fight, you didn't need to manufacture one!"
>Pull yourself back, don't let emotion overwhelm you. Be angry and disappointed, but remain coherent.
>"I can see the logic. It makes sense, in a brutally utilitarian way. But I can't condone it. You've done something awful, and there's no denying that."
>"We have to be better than this, Mara. That line of thinking is the same sort that's led every other Crucible to fail. Billions of worlds gone and every single one of them because somebody thought the sacrifices were necessary, and didn't care who got hurt so long as it all worked out in the end. If things are going to be different this time, we can't think of others as just resources to be spent for the greater good, however we define that. We can't save the world if we don't care about the people we're saving."
>"And I think you know that. You wouldn't be ashamed of your actions if you didn't still care on some level. That's the one thing you've got redeeming you right now. I'm angry, I'm beyond disappointed, but I still don't quite hate you. You've got a lot of making up for this to do, and I plan on holding you to it.

Again, not super happy with this, but I just wanted to say something and get it out while there was still time for other people to critique it. I keep doing this lately, spending so much time trying to work out a perfect response that I ghost out of the thread for hours while other people are debating. So please, tear this apart. I like the part about people having to be better or we'll wind up like every other Crucible, but I think it's a bit clunky in implementation.
>>
>>5048053
>>5048056

>Stand up, draw in a deep breath and look towards the bottom of the cord where a sea of destroyed astral selfs roils in the light of mortal combat.

>Then, quickly turn and slap her. as hard as you can muster.
>no emotion, no boiling of anger, just silent, hard, and fast.

>"You are.... so SO...!!!" let the words hang in the air while your mind races and your face controts with anger while you try and come up with something, anything you could say. No SCREAM at her
>After a couple moments of tense silence breathe out and just shake your head slowly while holding back your tears.

>Sit back down and let things settle for a couple of seconds and give herand yourself time to stabilize.
>"You know Mara.... i really really want to hate you right now..... What was wrong. Unjustifiable even. There is nothing that can be argued would make that move right."
>"But going all speechy and on a tangent wont change things. It is too late for that. It happened because you made it happen and WE now have to live with that. You owe Uzu an apology, that i don't think can ever be truly made."
>Start tearing up a bit unable to hold the tears back before continuing carefully
>"I can not condone what you did... but my thoughts are irrelevant. You will be and probably are already being punished even if only by yourself for all that you did."
>"I just hope that it wont drag everything around you with it."

>Give her a moment to respond

>>5048049
this sounds interesting... but the question is probably misplaced right now.The Uzu part however is something very. Also the leaning into her chest thing is a bit too much for my opinion
>>
>>5048060
just a quick critique before i head out to the gym for an hour or two.

This feels a bit more like something we should discuss with Paloma and our family.

And it fdeels a bit too analytical. Right now she has ripped open the old monastery wound and i don't think Shu is capable of reacting like that. I think i could be but i am not Shu... and neither are you. We are all her advisors and kinda hivemind in a sense to give her direction.

The first part
>"I was really hoping I was wrong about that. I guess I was, in a way. I suspected that you had set up your settlements to be unstable. But actively interfering with them, to make them collapse? What the Hell, Mara? What the actual Hell! There are so many other monsters you could have had us fight, you didn't need to manufacture one!"

This i really like i have to say
>>
>>5048060
There are parts that I like, but the general consensus right now is that Mara's confession has revealed that many of the things she has done prior to her ascension of the Cord has put her past a certain point of no return.

Even if she were to try and redeem herself by pulling on the strings of causality to hold back the consequences, the situation's deteriorated far enough that it might end up as a bigger domino disaster the moment Mara's grip on the strings loosen.

>"We have to be better than this, Mara. That line of thinking is the same sort that's led every other Crucible to fail. Billions of worlds gone and every single one of them because somebody thought the sacrifices were necessary, and didn't care who got hurt so long as it all worked out in the end. If things are going to be different this time, we can't think of others as just resources to be spent for the greater good, however we define that. We can't save the world if we don't care about the people we're saving."

This part is a good line that I like, but that comes after the emotional tirade. It's gonna be hard to squeeze in the general consensus vote.
>>
>>5047984
>>5048009
amending vote;
>Take a moment.
>take a few, deep breaths. strong, steady, and just let yourself digest it all.
>Then, slowly get up, before quickly turning and slap her. as hard as you can muster.
>no emotion, no boiling of anger. just silent, hard, and fast.

>Sit back down, and let things sit before you respond simply.
>"You know Mara.... i really really want to hate you right now..... that was wrong. Unjustifiable. There is no argument possible to make doing that right."
>sigh, and get up.
>"To think that you pulled the strings of causality to nudge Uzu into her hunger spiral?"
>lose control for a moment, your fist starting to raise... before you let it fall limply to your side.
>"But going on a tangent on you wont change wont change things. It is too late for that. You did it, and WE all have to live with it. You owe Uzu an apology that i don't think can ever be truly made."
>Turn, not even trying to hold back the tears.
>"As much as i could have to say... my own thoughts on this are irrelevant to the fact that punishment comes to those as they earn it. I just hope that whatever you deserve wont drag down everything around you with it."
>"You've influenced the events around my life practically since my birth. But I think now's the time for me to cut the puppet strings if you wont do it yourself, and finally find my own way to do things, truly, purely of my own control."

>Give her her moment to respond, before saying your goodbye.
>"Goodbye Mara.... I do hope we can meet again... though why I do will take some time for me to figure out."

>>5048059
I incorporated what i liked about both into this.
>>
>>5048060
>>5048065
ah dang yeah that line at least i kinda like. posted too soon i guess.
>>
>>5047984
ammending vote from>>5048007
to supporting >>5048066
while incorporating this line before the Goodbye

>"We have to be better than this, Mara. That line of thinking is the same sort that's led every other Crucible to fail. Billions of worlds gone and every single one of them because somebody thought the sacrifices were necessary, and didn't care who got hurt so long as it all worked out in the end. If things are going to be different this time, we can't think of others as just resources to be spent for the greater good, however we define that. We can't save the world if we don't care about the people we're saving."
>>
>>5048064
>>5048065
Yeah, I'm not good at writing people having strong emotions. At least not while remaining coherent. My own strong emotional reactions trend towards ranting, so I have to restrain that if I want to get an actual message across and I tend to over-correct. Makes me look all analytical and cold, when I'm just trying to hold it together. I agree that Shu should probably be having a stronger outward response, I'm just not good at writing that. Glad to hear that there's something of use in my piece, though.
>>
>>5047984
>>5048066
>>5048070
ill support adding this in there yeah.
>>
Hmmm... Strings of Causality, huh? Sounds a lot like what Julia's new neuromancer friend is investigating...

Also, I'm curious, what do we look like in this place? Are we still normal looking or some kind of light like the others?
>>
Also, we should definitely find out who she brought back with the engine. That seems very important...
>>
>>5048081
We probably still look somewhat human considering Mara can force a shale onto herself and we have a literal key to stay here if we want to.

>>5048070
I am also this anon on mobile
>>
>>5048081
its exactly what it was. Mara all but outright said 'the weird black smoke is my influence feeding me.'

good question on what we look like.
>>5048048
putting the question forward to the meatball who can answer it.

>>5048083
im actually dubious on its importance. sure, the person may be, but only if they didn't die again.
mainly though like i said before, feels a bit too little too late for that kinda talk.
>>
>>5048081
It's almost certainly exactly the thing that Julia's friend is investigating. I think the only reason that Mara hasn't come right out and said that is because she knows we know about her Core and trusts that we can put that detail together.
>>
>>5048089
>>5048087
>>5048084
Sorry. Bamboozleing a post.
>>
>>5048087
>>5048081
(You initially started out looking very much like a point of light, thrn vaguely humanoid...the way your appearance is shifting over your time here will become explicit in the next update.)
>>
>>5048066
This could use some emotional and narrative rearrangement. So here's my take on this write-in.

>>5047984
amending my vote >>5048022 (You) and >>5048049 (You) to

>Take a moment.
>take a few, deep breaths. strong, steady, and just let yourself digest it all.
>Then, slowly get up, before quickly turning and slap her. as hard as you can muster.
>no emotion, no boiling of anger. just silent, hard, and fast.

>"You know Mara.... i really really want to hate you right now..... that what you did was wrong. Unjustifiable."
>"To influence events and people like puppets on string?"
>"To pull the strings of causality to nudge Uzu into her hunger spiral to test me?"
>"There is no argument possible to make doing that right!"
>lose control of your anger for a moment, your fist starting to raise as you work yourself into a rage... before you let it fall limply to your side and deflate.

>Don't even attempt to hide the tears streaming down your face.
>"We have to be better than this, Mara. That line of thinking is the same sort that's led every other Crucible to fail. Billions of worlds gone and every single one of them because somebody thought the sacrifices were necessary, and didn't care who got hurt so long as it all worked out in the end. If things are going to be different this time, we can't think of others as just resources to be spent for the greater good, however we define that. We can't save the world if we don't care about the people we're saving."

>"But continuing on this tangent any longer on you wont change wont change things. It is too late for that. You did it, and WE all have to live with it. You owe those who you sacrificed on the altar of power an apology I don't think can ever be truly made."

>"As much as i could have to say... my own thoughts on this are irrelevant to the fact that punishment comes to those as they earn it. I just hope that whatever you deserve wont drag down everything around you with it."
>Step back from Mara once pace and put some space between you and her.

>"You've influenced the events around my life practically since my birth. But I think now's the time for this puppet to cut these strings that have guided her, and finally find my own way to do things."

>Give her her moment to respond.
>before saying your goodbyes
>"Hey Mara? Who was it that you revived on the Sparagmos engine? What happened to her? Was she worth the price you paid?"
>regardless of her answer:
>"Goodbye Mara.... I do hope we can meet again... though why I do will take some time for me to figure out."

>>5048089
>>5048084
>>5048087
your thoughts on my rearrangement of the general consensus?
>>
>>5048095
I don't know, asking about her friend at the end after the emotional stuff feels weird, especially since we did functionally just condemn her. I'm not sure it's a good place to put it. But I'm not sure what would be a good place to put it, either.
>>
>>5048095
im still strongly against that question.
it just does not fit, feels jarringly out of place and absolutely ruins the flow, ending, and feel of the entire thing.

otherwise the general order is fine but alot of the changes here and there i dont like.
i also kinda liked Shu getting up and sitting back down over and over. i felt it showed her being internally antsy even if not all the emotion was constantly spilling out.
>>
>>5048101
>>5048099
Fair enough on the question ruining the flow of the response.

my reasoning for not including the constant "sit down and get up" cycle, is because it also somewhat ruins flow of the the initial outburst of anger where Shu just lets it out. If I had her sitting down after deflating it would have felt like she would be more petulant in a way. Instead I opted to have Shu remain standing to signify that She's making her emotional point and taking a stand for her argument of "we have to be better than this." towards Mara and lead into her declaration of independence instead of mumbling her "we have to be better than this" it into the world and not at Mara.
>>
>>5048094
A question. Are we visible from the viewpoint of Reality? Because I can't help but notice that both Mara and West took notice of us while we're in this special liminal space.Because the sight of a visible point of light climbing the Cord with almost nothing barring its way would look prophetic af to the wider world, even to those duking it out in the no-mans land.
>>
>>5048106
I still disagree, especially because i feel some of thats ignoring she takes time to collect herself while sitting, which i think on top of other things helps to show how shes trying not to actually just explode emotionally here. plus she still stands back up(or would) in both versions once shes actually making her statements.

>>5048110
im positive its because both Mara and West have something allowing them to 'see' this place unlike regular people. or something along those lines.
>>
>>5048110
No one else seemed to notice us. Either we're not visible to most people and Mara and West are just special, or we are but everyone was too distracted fighting to pay much attention to this little mote of light zooming past them.
>>
>>5048110
>>5048112
(Only those who have previously entered this plane of existence can see you.)
>>
>>5048114
>only those who have entered can see people in it.
>we have entered it.
oh boy are we gonna have to wear sunglasses all the time now?
>>
>>5047984
Final amendment to my vote >>5048095

>Take a moment.
>take a few, deep breaths. strong, steady, and just let yourself digest it all.
>Then, slowly get up, before quickly turning and slap her. as hard as you can muster.
>no emotion, no boiling of anger. just silent, hard, and fast.

>Sit back down, and let things sit before you respond simply.
>"You know Mara.... i really really want to hate you right now..... that what you did was wrong. Unjustifiable."
>get back up and stare at Mara dead on in the eyes.
>"To influence events and people like puppets on strings of causality that you control?"
>"To pull the strings of causality to nudge Uzu into her hunger spiral?"
>"There is no argument possible to make doing that right!"
>raise your fist as you work yourself into a rage... before you let it fall limply to your side and deflate. and look away, to stare at the astral world.

>Don't even attempt to hide the tears streaming down your face. Take some time to collect your thoughts before continuing.

>"We have to be better than this, Mara. That line of thinking is the same sort that's led every other Crucible to fail. Billions of worlds gone and every single one of them because somebody thought the sacrifices were necessary, and didn't care who got hurt so long as it all worked out in the end. If things are going to be different this time, we can't think of others as just resources to be spent for the greater good, however we define that. We can't save the world if we don't care about the people we're saving."

>Look back at Mara.

>"But continuing on this tangent any longer on you wont change wont change things. It is too late for that. You did it, and now we ALL have to live with it. You owe Uzu and those who you sacrificed on the altar of power an apology I don't think can ever be truly made."

>heave a sigh

>"As much as i could have to say... my own thoughts on this are irrelevant to the fact that punishment comes to those as they earn it. I just hope that whatever you deserve wont drag down everything around you with it."

>Step back from Mara once pace and put some space between you and her.
>"You've influenced the events around my life practically since my birth. But I think now's the time for me to cut these puppet strings you have on me, and find my own way to do things."

>Give her the time she needs to respond to our condemnation and declaration.
>"Goodbye Mara.... I do hope we can meet again... though why I do will take some time for me to figure out."

>>5048112
Made some edits to this write-in while keeping in mind your criticism.

And I have to get ready to leave for work.
>>
>>5048116
Weird thought: How does that interact with Spiritus Ex Testa? We've been told that eventually it would let Shu create Spirit Shells for the rest of the party's Dream Daughters, so it's not limited to those she herself has eaten, just currently so. So what happens when Shu can perceive the bare Nullscape separate from any individual Dreamscape, with every mindstate visible to her? Can Shu just scoop up a dead Daughter's mind and reincarnate her with a maxed-out Spiritus Ex Testa, even without eating her flesh? That would be cool. Probably not super practical, but cool. Would really make Shu come off as messianic, though, she wouldn't like that.
>>
>>5048119
well, dont think so?
people turn into dust here right when they die, so, at the very least there are no 'ghosts' wandering around. does bring up the question then though, where do Dream Daughters come from? it sounds like their souls are destroyed, so is that only them being destroyed here, or do they get reconstructed somehow inside a soul that consumed their remains?
>>
>>5048116
I guess it could be worse.... unless.... we pick up some vampiric abilities then we could become a Vampire bee. Sound spretty cool i have to say.

>>5048095
Also sorry i did not say anything. I was kibda busy wiröth corcle training and that ia pretty crunch when it comes to time.

But i agree with the other Anons.

>>5048118
First off have a good day at work

Secondly. This does sound interesting and a nice edit from before i would say


>>5048119

This is. A trrifying thought.. since we would have unlimited acess to the dreamscape.

The screening rhough would be a nightmare. Dont want to accidentöy grab someone like the nad hatter or the girl that had Rath in her grasp when we safed our favorite and definetly not soulless redhead
>>
>>5048118
(Have a great day at work, and take care!)
>>
>>5048118
Have a nice day at work, anon.
>>
>>5048118
a bit better yeah.
though i still feel the puppet line is a bit off.

otherwise its just a few tidbits like there being doubled up 'wont change' and the 'that' before 'what you did was wrong' stick out.
admittedly im being nitpicky and i make my own mistakes, but i felt like pointing them out more because sometimes BHOP copies our mistakes more than anything. which is equal parts amusing and gut punching because it feels like its throwing the mistake in your face, even though obviously i know thats not his intention.
>>
>>5048121
i do not think we want to become soul vampires. that sounds like a bad route to take.
>>
>>5048119
>>5048120
>>5048121
on mobile, having lunch prior to clocking in.
one catch: Jackie has the Vorpal knife. We don’t own the Vorpal knife.
>>
>>5048126
I did not mean to become a soul vampire. If you read that out of my writing then that is probably my mistake.

I was trying to say that if we had to wear sunglasses everywhere we could go full vampire mode with a cape for us and ever single one of our little Swarmlings since they already could absorb health i think....if i remeber right

>>5048127
Well we can explain to her what it is and what we can do with it. If she wants to keep it i would say that she can. No true loss on our part. Unless we want to talk to Mara again

So it was probably more of an attempt of a joke that did not land right.
>>
>>5048125
Yeah, I'm not super keen on the puppet line, either. Just feels like too much condemnation. I want to tell her we're not happy but not to the point where she sees us as seeing her as an enemy. I don't want her to be an enemy, even if I'm very upset with her.

>>5048129
>I was trying to say that if we had to wear sunglasses everywhere we could go full vampire mode with a cape for us and ever single one of our little Swarmlings since they already could absorb health i think....if i remeber right
That's more Dorian's thing, let's not step on his toes. He's the Relativistic Kinetic Kill Vampire.
>>
>>5048127
thats actually hard to say.
i mean, do we just see them, or can we interact with them? probably just see, but the problem is i actually cant see Mara or West trying to mess with us while here like that.
Mara for obvious reasons, but even West probably knows that even if she could, it wouldn't give her our biomass nor stop our family, unlike if she leaves us alone to confront her in the Cord.
its not proof either direction, only we cant take either of their actions here as proof it CANT be done.
>>
>>5048131
you think just swapping it for the version i have in my current vote would work, or that even that one needs some work too?
I think the puppet analogy at its core at least is a good metaphor to use here, but i understand f the ow needs some work.
>>
>>5048133
Maybe? I think I just disagree that it should be put in there. I just don't like it. I think I'm still too hung up on trying to maintain Mara as a friend, even as we're condemning her. Part of it is that I want to keep thinking well of her, and part of it is worry over having her as an enemy. Makes me second-guess how harsh we should be with her.
>>
>>5048138
>>5048133
make your choice, keep the puppet line or don’t. time is running out. I’m fine with getting rid of the puppet line
>>
>>5048138
I dont think the current consensus or that line would make her an enemy. its not even necessarily outright breaking ties with her even.
sure, probably not gonna be calling her a friend after all that ill admit it, but in my opinion i guess I question wanting to call her one.
Isabelle didn't earn friendship back overnight either, and honestly for all she did? It was done out of emotion and trauma. not trying to suddenly excuse Isabelle, just saying Mara doesn't really have the excuses here that she did. Isabelle also for all her faults oddly purposefully kept her impact and influence small and to specific people. Mara purposefully implicitly tried to spread hers and specifically TRIED to spread suffering.

guess im trying to say in a long winded way, the situations arent the same at all, especially when it comes to the 'outright forgive' scenario.
>>
>>5048138
>>5048143
yeah... actually i just realized there two puppet lines technically and so im not even sure after realizing that if we're all talking about the exact same one or both of them(besides myself, obviously).
so with such little time i think im ok just leaving my vote as it is. the other order might be a bit better but not enough time to finish hashing out the issues with it.

damn, how long has it been though since we last ran the wire down to the end like that though? not gonna say im not still impacted by the emotions here, but otherwise its oddly refreshing to do again.
though im also glad we dont do it all the time.
>>
>>5048148
(Ha, at literally the last second before I posted I was going to have a two hour voting time, and then I looked at what I was about to drop and thought 'yeah, no, they're going to need more than that.')
>>
clocking in for work. see you in 8 hours or so.
>>
>>5048150
take care Anon, hope its not too bad a day.

>>5048149
Well, voting has to end sometime.
but yeah i think we got it done well enough in 3 hours.
maybe not perfect. but hey, maybe it makes sense, Maybe Shus not in a mindset to have things come off perfectly.
>>
>>5048150
Have a nice day, Anon.

>>5048152
Yeah, I suppose that's true. There's no perfect thing to say, here. The time for that has passed, we'd need to have gotten on this issue before the quest had even started.
>>
File: Mara, The Marrow Dragon.jpg (934 KB, 1280x1288)
934 KB
934 KB JPG
>>5047984

You draw in a deep breath.

Then another…slowly, steadily, as you digest Mara’s confession. You’re acutely aware, now, how human you’ve come to look in this space. Your hands are balled tightly against your knees, fingernails sharp enough to bite into your palms as the compressed fire that is your avatar thrums with bright, multicolored light. Rising from where you sit, you stare down at Mara impassively for a long, quiet moment.

When you strike, your open palm sharply snaps her head to the side…your eyes still locked with hers, even now. Neither of you utter a word—your eyes hard and quiet, while hers still burn with regretful duty. Sitting back down, you study her impassive face in silence, composing yourself enough to trust that the words you utter next are chosen deliberately.

"You know, Mara...I really, really want to hate you right now.” You begin, wrestling the rage out of every syllable that escapes your lips. “That was wrong. Unjustifiable."

You rise again, your legs…no…every limb is burning. A fire that starts in your bones and radiates to every extremity. Rage. Indignation. Fury. There are not enough words to encapsulate how you’re feeling in this singular, pivotal moment.

"To influence events and people like puppets? Pulling the strings of causality to nudge Uzu into her hunger spiral? There is no argument possible to make doing that ‘right’!" You scream, your fist cocking of its own accord before you freeze it mid-arc…and Mara hasn’t even flinched. You sigh through gritted teeth, letting the limb drop to your side as you just shake your head at the woman before you.

"We have to be better than this, Mara. Yours is the same line of thinking that's led every other Crucible to fail. Millions…billions of worlds gone, and every single one of them because somebody thought the sacrifices were necessary, and didn't care who got hurt so long as it all worked out in the end. If things are going to be different this time, we can't think of others as just resources to be spent for the greater good, however we define that. We can't save the world if we don't care about the people we're saving."

Another deep breath, as you fight to keep yourself together.

"…but going on a tangent won’t change things. It is too late for that. Far, FAR too late. You did it, and WE all have to live with it. You owe Uzu and those who you sacrificed on the altar of power an apology I don't think can ever be truly made.” You choke out, white-hot tears now streaming down your face as you scowl down at the root of so much pain and sorrow.

You can’t stand to look out her now, and you instead turn your eyes to the endless void before you. Far below, countless lives are being snuffed out as Daughters throw themselves into the grinder that is the Crucible.

How many more have been snuffed out on roads of good intentions?

(Continued)
>>
>>5048169

“As much as I have to say to you...my own thoughts on this are irrelevant.” You finally declare with an embittered sigh. “Punishment comes to those as they earn it. I just hope that whatever you deserve won’t drag down everything around you alongside it. You've influenced the events around my life practically since my birth. But I think now's the time for me to cut the puppet strings if you won’t do it yourself, and finally find my own way to do things. Truly, purely under my own control."

At that, Mara finally rises. You and she stand eye to eye, and it’s here in this inexplicable place that you both look wholly, utterly human. No stars, no radiance…just a warrior staring into the face of defiance.

“Magpie thought you would falter. But I knew you would triumph.” She intones with a pride that makes disgust ball in your chest and rage rise in your throat. “The strings were cut the moment I left you and your family to forge your own path—you are in control. Then, and now.”

"Goodbye, Mara.” You declare firmly, reaching out to accept the pull that’s trying to rescue you from this plane. “I do hope we can meet again...though why I do will take some time for me to figure out."

“As do I, Shu. I said it when we last spoke, and I will say it again…”

The world fades, and the last thing you see are eye grey-blue eyes of Marrow Dragoon gazing back at you.

“…I will see you at the Cord.”

Reality cruelly snaps back into place, a terrible chill washing over every nerve as you’re thrust into the frantic attention of those you were just with. Their fervent queries of your own well-being blend into a ringing din that you can’t parse through. You’re eye level with Amara’s two-tone gaze, tear-filled and terrified. You’re dimly aware of everyone else standing over you, of the fact that you’re sitting on your knees as all the rage and sorrow you just experienced gives way to a numbness that somehow hurts even worse.

Your hands are shaking, even as you reach out and draw Amara into a hug tight enough to hurt you…but you don’t care, right now.

“I’m okay. You’re okay.” You murmur into her shoulder, looking up at your allies. “There was an interaction between my Key and Jackie’s knife that neither of us could’ve anticipated. How long was I gone?”

“Four, five minutes…Jesus, the look on your face.” Jackie breathes, kneeling next to you with her dagger clutched tight in the bone-white fingers of her left hand. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

No.

No, not by a long shot.

You need to…

You need…

>>…Gina, and Rath. You need a quiet moment with your two oldest friends and dearest allies right now before you do anything else.

>>…To tell Uzu the truth. Take B’ni with you, and tell Uzu what she deserves to know.

>>…To keep moving. You’ll tell you family as a whole shortly, but steel yourself enough to talk to Paloma.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Good Afternoon, and I do hope your day is going well. Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, with posting to resume in three.)
>>
argh dang it OP!!!!

Why do you have to make me feel so conflicted about this whole thing.

>>5048170

>>…To keep moving. You’ll tell you family as a whole shortly, but steel yourself enough to talk to Paloma.
>>Reach out to your family and ask them that they don't make to many plans since you want to talk to all of them, after your talk with Paloma for the future of what she is planning, about what you experienced.
>>slowly get up and ask that your family join Jackie and you for the talk with Paloma if they wish and ask Jackie for the way.

something nice and neutral. Time for emotions can be made after business i think
>>
>>5048170
vote;
>You need to... need to...
>You need to explain things, but just as importantly, you need to be what you always are, what you want to be.
>You need to do what Mara refused. Care about others and what it all means for them, not for the scheme of things.

>step back, patting Amaras head as you do.
>"Theres... alot i need to talk to you all about. It'll be important, for everyone, not just those here, but especially so for some people specifically."
>But first... I want to apologize to everyone present. There was... well, to put it bluntly... I think i saw into your very souls, literally, and ended up hearing some things i know for a fact i had no right to. and im sorry for that... It was unintentional, and know that if any of you wish to know what it was about, im more than willing to tell you... but you'll want privacy when we do, im pretty sure on that."
>"But before i explain more... Theres something i need a minute to do, ok?"
>Sigh, and take a shuddering breath, before approaching the one person who you know needs help as much as you do, the one person who you know, unlike you, has no one to unload onto.
>Give the others a look that says 'please give us some space' before continuing.
>once they do, crouch down to look Nerada in the eyes, and then pull her into a soft hug.
>"Im sorry, I know i have no right to have herd what i did, but I just wanted to let you know.... You dont need to hide for us, or pretend to be normal."
> Chuckle, and pull back to look in her eyes, hands comfortingly on her shoulders, trying your best not to cry as you try to comfort her just as much as to comfort yourself.
>"None of us are normal, and we dont expect you to be either. IF you have worries, or something you need help with, we WANT to help you. We're your friends, we Want to be your friends, and we want you to be ours. so please, we wont abandon you, all of us have done things... terrible things we regret. let things happen we wish hadn't."
>"But we have eachother to help get through those, and if you want... we can help you do that too, ok?"
>Try and hold back your tears, but be unable to stop all of them.

i know it may be a bit of a leap, but there really wont be a better time to do this, aswell as i think its a very good way for Shu to try and move forward from what happened; by being herself, and helping with pain. sometimes the best way to help yourself is to help others afterall.

that said, im very open to edits and changes. i will also admit i just find this super important and know if we dont do it now, with all we just learned, it'll just be lost as a chance for a very, VERY long time.
>>
>>5048186
huh interesting to go for Nerada.....

but i can absolutely see it. So i will support it. I am a bit to tired to think much so i still think that this will be the best i think

>>5048170
ammending vote from >>5048179
to>>5048186
>>
>>5048193
well, everyone else is friends or family. they know whatever we heard, they can come to us anytime to find out and talk about it.

Nerada is not. she has no one, and her worries we heard specifically relate(mostly) to whether she can do that with us, more or less. so, at the very least make sure she knows she can, is my thought.
>>
>>5048195
very good reasons i have to say.

even more reason to support this.

anyway. Anon
>>5048171
Op.

I will get some sleep now. The training was pretty intense today i have to say.
>>
>>5048204
(Rest well, and take care!)
>>
>>5048170
>>Write-In
>"No, not really. But it's nothing to do with any danger I was in. Don't worry about that, Jackie. I was perfectly safe, I just had a very intense conversation."
>"Learned some things I need to share to share with everyone. That includes you and yours, Jackie. Can someone go around and gather everyone up? Oh, and apologize to Paloma for me delaying yet again. I know I'm already keeping her waiting, but the sooner this is said the better."
>"But before anyone goes, I think I also need to apologize to you all, too. The place I went...it's complicated, but it was kind of like the Dreamscape. I got a look at your thoughts, a little. I wasn't trying to, it was accidental, but I'm still so sorry for that. Please believe me when I say I'd never do that on purpose."

I'm fine with the speaking with Nerada bit, if the rest of this doesn't get used that's perfectly well. But I think the start, with reassuring Jackie that we weren't in any danger, is important. Jack's probably worried she nearly accidentally killed her friend, she needs reassurance that we're in a bad state because of emotions, not being attacked.
>>
>>5048210
thats fair yeah.

>>5048170
>>5048186
still supporting the bulk of my own post BHOP but if you can find a way to squeeze in the Jackie bit from >>5048210
im very ok with that.
>>
>>5048213
(I'll be more than happy to, its a great addition.)
>>
File: Rath, Angered.png (486 KB, 556x1000)
486 KB
486 KB PNG
>>5048170

As your sense of place slowly returns, you realize that you’re atop the Ikean Fortress, the Crucible’s blood-red sky yawning open high above you as the chill leaves you with painful slowness. The breath you inhale this time actually helps to clear your mind, and it’s as you’re about to address those crowded close that a tremor runs beneath your feet. It’s a warning that comes a half-second before the floor a few meters ahead of you promptly explodes in a shower of concrete and plaster, as Rath leaps skyward to land with Gina held bridal-style in a pair of arms while another four blaze at her muscular shoulders.

“We’re here! What’s wrong?!” The redhead roars as Gina practically vaults out of her arms, the pair at your side in an instant with concern writ large in their eyes as a golden thread darts out of the improvised exit after them.

“Why are we running? WHY are we running?!” Francine demands immediately after spooling herself back together. Irritation promptly shifts to concern when she sees the condition you’re in once you take Rath’s offered hand are hauled into her and Gina’s waiting arms.

“I lost you. It felt like half of me was just…just *gone*, and I couldn’t terraform the stupid building ‘cause it’s not biomass, and…woah. Wait, you talked to Ma-?!” GG almost blurts out as your rekindled bond info-dumps on her faster than she can process. Rath’s eyes flare white as they dart between the two of you, and when Gina’s hands fly to her mouth you just pull them both tighter. “I’ll tell you both everything in a moment, but there’s something I have to do first, okay?”

Reluctantly, they let you take a step back, and you pat Amara’s head reassuringly before turning to address Jackie.

"To answer your question? No, not really. But it's nothing to do with any danger I was in. Don't worry about that, Jackie. I was perfectly safe, I just had a very intense conversation." You say, your explanation only prompting further questions that remain unvoiced as you add; “I learned some things I need to share with everyone. That includes you and yours, Jackie. Can someone go around and gather everyone up? Oh, and apologize to Paloma for me delaying yet again. I know I'm already keeping her waiting, but the sooner this is said the better."

“Yeah…yeah, Shu, I’ll be-“ She starts to mutter before your hand finds her shoulder.

"But before anyone goes, I think I also need to apologize to you all, too. The place I went...it's complicated, but it was kind of like the Dreamscape.” You explain, every word a chore as you draw in another exhausted breath…but you have to let them know. “I got a look at your thoughts, a little. There was...well, to put it bluntly? I think i saw into your very souls.”

Surprise crosses the faces of all present, and while Jackie goes an even paler shade of white, Nerada’s expression shifts as her eyes cut warily between Dorian and Rath.

(Continued)
>>
>>5048271

“I thought you couldn’t read minds anymore.” The young Hive Mistress says quietly, her voice level.

“For what it’s worth, I wasn't trying to.” You continue apologetically, addressing all present. “It was completely unintentional, but the fact remains that I’m sorry it happened. Please know that if any of you wish to know what it was about, then I’m more than willing to tell you...but you'll want privacy when we do, I’m fairly certain."

“I…okay. I’ll hold you to that.” Jackie mutters, hesitating just a moment before she slices open a fresh tear in reality. “Be right back; gonna let Paloma know we’ll be a minute.”

“What did you see?” Nerada prompts, her even tone betraying a sense of urgency that only galvanizes your decision.

"Before I explain more...there’s something I need a minute to do, okay?" You finish with a sigh, and after drawing in a shuddering breath, you take a step forward as Nerada takes one back. Gesturing to your family to give you a bit of privacy, you approach the one person who you know needs help as much as you do. The one person who, unlike you, has no one to talk to.

You take a knee to bring yourself eye-level with Nerada’s taut frame, her hands working to remain relaxed as she watches your family retreat back a little ways. When you reach forward, she flinches as you draw her into a hug, speaking close to the girl’s ear so that only she can hear your words.

"I’m sorry. I know I have no right to have heard what I did, but I just wanted to let you know...you don’t need to hide for us, or pretend to be normal."

She looks so very conflicted as you pull back to meet her eyes, your hands resting on her tense shoulders as you give a reassuring chuckle. It’s a laugh that almost breaks you as you try desperately to comfort this young girl as much as you’re comforting yourself.

“I…you know I’m pretending?” Nerada asks, not quite believing what she’s hearing, and still looking ready to bolt as she glances yet again towards your allies as Dorian whispers to Rath.

"I do…and I want you to know that none of us are normal, and we don’t expect you to be either. If you have worries, or something you need help with, we WANT to help you.” You say insistently. “We're your friends, we want to be your friends, and we want you to be ours. So please, we won’t abandon you, Nerada. All of us have done things...terrible things that we truly regret. We’ve all let things happen we wish hadn't."

“I...I don’t understand.” She feebly replies, clearly unused to what you’re trying to convey.

Your hands tighten around her shoulders, and despite your best efforts of holding back your tears you feel a few roll down your cheeks and into the smile you’ve leveled at the cautious, confused young girl. “We have each other to help get through those, and if you want...we can help you do that too, ok?"

(Continued)
>>
>>5048272

“…Okay.” Nerada eventually whispers, her small voice still uncertain. “I don't really get it, but you're really nice.”

You pull her in again, and after a few seconds she tentatively returns your hug...and she’s not the only one. A pair of small arms loop around your and Nerada’s shoulders as Amara gives you both a tight squeeze, with Sir FuzzBuzz gently lowering himself to ‘boop’ the top of the other Hive Mistress’ head.

“If there’s huggin’, we gotta join in.” Amara solemnly declares. “It’s the law.”

Nerada laughs, the volume indicative of the wave of relief that seems to have come over the young girl. To your right, space warps again as Jackie steps forth from the tear, her blade holding the gap open to allow a trio of familiar figures to step forth.

“Holy shit, you guys!” Quinn cries out, the blonde throwing her arms wide and scooping up both Rath and Gina. Keane squeals with delight at seeing you again, and when she darts forward with a greeting you have to lean back to avoid being smacked in the face by her over-sized witch’s hat. Ace quietly nods to Dorian, and he politely nods back…until Ace opens her armor and withdraws a bottle of wine with an echoing chuckle.

“Hey hey, don’t get too fuckin’ chummy! We got business!” Jackie yells, trying to make herself heard over the chaos.

“So hey, uh…quick question.” Rath mumbles, clearing her throat as she casts a pointed glance over to the still-smoldering hole she made in the roof. “Is that gonna be a problem?”

“What? Oh, it'll be fine. I broke one of Paloma's dinner glasses the other day, and she was cool about it. Anyway!” The leader of the Midnight Crew answers dismissively, turning to you before Rath can voice her reservations about comparing two very different levels of property damage. “I told her about the weird Relic stuff that just happened, so she’s fine with postponing until you’re good and ready. She’s got rooms for all of us and then some, so she said to rest if you need to.”

“No, I’m-“ You barely get out before a pair of voices cut you off in lock-step.

“Love!”

“Dude!”

Gina and Rath scowl at you in unison, and despite the legions of swarmlings you could summon to your side in an instant, you still somehow feel outnumbered.

“Ahem…perhaps they have a point?” Dorian posits, and you can see he’s trying his damnedest to hide the smirk that’s playing on his amused features.

As adamant as your family seems, you still feel bad about keeping your host waiting…

>>While you know a good rest is due, you won’t keep Paloma on hold…meet with her. Then you can relax a bit.

>>…Fine. You’ll relax, but just long enough to catch up with your family and tell them what you need to. You’ll keep it brief, and then you’ll meet with Paloma.

>>Accept your host’s offer, and relax (Choose members of your family to explore the Ikea/rest with).

>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume at 10AM Eastern time on Tuesday, November 9th. Thank you all for your continued participation, enthusiasm, and patience, and I wish you a very restful weekend. I’ll be around, as I’ll be working on behind-the-scenes maintenance over some of tomorrow and most of Sunday, and there’s also some art I’ve been meaning to drop for inspiration’s sake. In any case, take care, and be safe.)
>>
>>5048274
>"Honestly guys? I really need to get what happened off my chest. Ill wait to meet Paloma til after i rest but... I dont think i'd get any til i get this off my chest."
>if the family insists, at last move to a more comfortable place.
>Regardless, tell them everything.
>About the souls and what happened when you spoke to them(but not what they said, of course), about the mountain that was the cord, the ashes and trek there... about West and how she looked... and about Mara.
>don't leave anything out, they deserve to know what she said... and what you said aswell.
>dont hold your emotions back either, let them do what they need.
>afterwards, let them ask what they need, and then take that offered rest.
>>At best maybe send word to Paloma and through Orwell to try and hash out where those 'sacrificial' settlements may be, though you're pretty sure you have a good idea. still though, thats certainly info you want to make sure any still standing have, even if only quietly to their leaders, assuming Orwell and the others think they can handle it.

the last part is kinda optional, but thought i'd put it on the table.
>>
>>5048276
thanks for running.
it was... certainly a damn emotionally intense end to the week as far as the quest goes. hot damn man, you know how to make moment sting HARD at times.

looking forward to hearing how things are going backchannel too!
>>
>>5048276
(Also, I know the player who clocked in earlier today had an eight hour shift, so I'll leave voting open for the next six hours, instead.)

>>5048281
(Ha, you are quite welcome, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.)
>>
>>5048276
Thanks for running, BHOP. This has been a rough one, but rough in a good way. I might cringe to read it sometimes, but only because I'm invested and I know any gutpunches are gonna hit hard. See you next time, man, and I hope you have a great weekend.
>>
>>5048274
>>…Fine. You’ll relax, but just long enough to catch up with your family and tell them what you need to. You’ll keep it brief, and then you’ll meet with Paloma.
>Write-In
>"I appreciate the offer, but rest isn't going to help. I don't think I'm going to feel any better until I've explained. You'll feel worse, though. Sorry. But you need to hear this."
>>
>>5048319
you know?
i just realized.
Uzu is here. this conversations gonna get real fucking shitty real fucking fast, even compared to how bad it already was about to be at first glance already.

thank lord Dream Daughters cant go hunger mad i guess. because i cant see her taking that perfectly and no one will blame her either.
>>
>>5048330
Yeah. Should we take her aside first and tell just her?
>>
>>5048337
maybe? I think its probably fine to still tell her it as a group. but if you think we should add something to tell her to brace herself or anything akin to that extra, im fine with it. middle ground between the two i think will work best here.
>>
>>5048291
Thank you for your consideration. In all honesty, within this time-frame would require more than just the 2 hours I have left to formulate a response as I'm thinking of essentially a "storytime" write-in for the intense emotional episode. I'll post the vote some time over the weekend although I'm not sure if it would count as valid and I'm uncertain if Bhop keeps an open eye on the vein over the weekend.

The Mara thing will be a major highlight for the archives.

In other news. I had a realization as to why progress on Cradleton was stalling: My muse wanted to write Epilogue/side stories of Carter's time in Cradleton post-cult plot. Goddamn plot bunnies.
>>
>>5048531
well while you may be around, and we still have an hour, may aswell ask.

whats your opinion on
>>5048330
>>5048337
>>5048340
this line of thought?
>>
>>5048557
Hmm....yeah. I'm on board with this line of thought. that encounter with Mara is very much emotionally intense and even though Shu's been putting up a hell of a poker face and a brave face at that, shit like this can pretty much overwhelm anyone.

If anything, the ikea visit as well as Paloma's offer to let us use the place as a home away from the Dragon's Roost would definitely be something to be taken advantage of. We're gonna need all the time and conversations with our family to sort out this gigantic emotional mess we've unearthed with Mara.
>>
>>5048568
sure, but i meant on how to handle Uzu, considering this impacts her a bit more than the rest.
>>
>>5048568
Yeah. After this it's going to be uncomfortable living in Mara's old house. We should probably just strip out the Engines and Forge and leave it. Maybe someday in the future we'll be able to go there again, but for now it would only draw up bad associations.

>>5048570
Maybe we could draw her into the Dreamscape, give her a place she feels secure in? Though that could just taint a memory.
>>
>>5048570
ah. shit.
Uzu will definitely need forewarning on how heavy the topic subject will be, as the reveal will be tantamount to betrayal, and likely one of our first people to have a 1 on 1 session immediately after "storytime of Shu's adventures in the soul realm"

Actually, anyone who has past brushes with treachery/betrayal will likely be advised to sit down and actually try to rein in their emotions during storytime while they digest this information lest they do anything rash (glancing at Rath here).
>>
>>5048580
Oh, shit, yeah. Rath is going to go incendiary. Did not think about that. So Uzu, Isabel, Rath, maybe Jackie as well...anyone else we'll have to warn?

Oh, and what are we going to do about Julia? She should hear this, too. I guess we can set a commling as a speakerphone. Maybe bring Andromeda on the line, too, to ask her about the Control Contagion and what, if anything, we can do about Mara being able to influence through it.
>>
>>5048580
>>5048584
see thats kinda my issue.
now we're just making it to where we basically may aswell just tell everyone individually once the list is expanded that much.
im fine with Uzu, as the Monastery is kinda the biggest crux of the emotional issues here, but its just not at all realistic to really forewarn every single person.
>>
>>5048588
I was thinking just warn them that they weren't going to like what they hear and to stay calm, not individual storytimes. Sorry, I think I skipped a step in there. But yeah, if we tell anyone one-on-one it should just be Uzu, while everyone else gets a "hey, please don't literally explode" before we start the group explanation.
>>
>>5048274
>>5048280
amending vote;
>"Honestly guys? I really need to get what happened off my chest. Ill wait to meet Paloma til after i rest but... I dont think i'd get any til i get this off my chest."
>if the family insists, at last move to a more comfortable place.
>Before you begin, give a good warning.
>"Look, Some of what im about to say wont sit well with anyone, but some especially so... please, prepare yourselves... and Uzu? im sorry if you take this the wrong way but... forewarning? im sorry, truly truly sorry... but you needed to be warned more than anyone else."
>them everything.
>About the souls and what happened when you spoke to them(but not what they said, of course), about the mountain that was the cord, the ashes and trek there... about West and how she looked... and about Mara.
>don't leave anything out, they deserve to know what she said... and what you said aswell.
>dont hold your emotions back either, let them do what they need.
>afterwards, let them ask what they need, and then take that offered rest.
>>At best maybe send word to Paloma and through Orwell to try and hash out where those 'sacrificial' settlements may be, though you're pretty sure you have a good idea. still though, thats certainly info you want to make sure any still standing have, even if only quietly to their leaders, assuming Orwell and the others think they can handle it.

not perfect but figured at least get SOME form of it in there with how crutch the timeframe is.
>>
>>5048274
>…Fine. You’ll relax, but just long enough to catch up with your family and tell them what you need to.
>"I won't lie, I really need to get this off my chest. And I need to lie down after witnessing what I've seen and heard."
>"But I want to warn all of you. and I do mean All of you. Each and every one. What I want to recount is very heavy and emotionally intense. Some of it I'm sure will make you angry as I was. So please, when I'm ready to speak, I would like all of you to sit down."
>"And afterwards, if you need anything, even if you want to talk with me, let me know."
>Take several minutes to compose yourself and think back to what you've seen and then begin recounting your tale of your journey through the realm of the soul.
>>
>>5048590
man, this really is not gonna be a fun time for our family, huh? the problem is its not just a new shitty thing, but new making a past shitty day contextually significantly worse too.
>>
>>5048594
Yep. We should do something nice and decisive after we've all cooled down some. Take our minds off of this, and give us something else to work towards. Hunting down those components Paloma needs to get the Ikea moving, maybe, that could do it.

Also, I just thought of something: Do the Midnight Crew know what Deprived are? Well, I'm sure BHOP can work in a little context update for them in the broader relaying of the information.
>>
>>5048595
yeah, after Shu rests(and lets be honest, our family too), we'll need something a bit more lighthearted to do. making an Ikea land boat sounds nice. Rath even made them a place to stick a steam engine chimney out of!

>Do the Midnight Crew know what Deprived are?
well they're about to find out if they dont. not sure this is how they would've liked to find out though.
>>
>>5048274
>For storytime post when we finally find a place to sit down and when everyone's gathered around and sitting down with proper forewarning for the emotionally intense content.

Be warned, I have to split this write-in into 3 parts.

>Take out the Silver key and turn it over in your hands as if pondering its function.
>"It started when Jackie used her Vorpal knife to cut us a shortcut into Ikea."
>"When I stepped into the rift that Jackie made, I thought I was going to come out through to the other side. The Silver key was an anchor for the dreamscape, but what I didn't expect was the Silver Key to work in the space between."
>"Turns out, the Silver Key and the Vorpal Knife were cut from the same cloth. Two sides of the same coin."
>"Where I ended up was a place not unlike the Dreamscape."
>"No. It was older than that. It was an older version of the Dreamscape. One without the dream scenes. It was more like a realm of souls where everything laid bare."
>"And the souls were the twinkling stars that floated and danced around me."
>a warm smile creeps upon your face. Look at the faces of those whose souls you've seen, Rath, Gina, Isabelle, etc. Linger just a hair longer at Amara.
>"Your souls were beautiful stars. Bearing the same colors as your eyes."
>the smile fades as you move onwards towards the next subject.
cont.
>>
>>5048274
>>5048665
>"In the distance in the realm was the mountain, I thought it strange at first, but as I went closer to it, I realized I was looking at the Cord itself."
>"Near the Cord, were hundreds-no, thousands of stars, each of them clashing with each other in the no-mans land. Each soul that died turned to ash that sank deep into the ground that went all the way up to my waist. How many daughters had perished in that place to create ash waist deep in the soul realm I don't want to find out the exact answer."
>"And yet. I kept going. I climbed the mountain. The cord at its base was blackened with soot from the souls of fallen daughters. The higher I went, the cleaner the Cord became. I saw a soul perish from unknown pressures in its ascent when it tried to climb back down. It seemed the Cord punishes climbers with death the moment they back down. Climb or Die."
>"And yet I kept going. I kept climbing. I saw West Prime on that mountain. Her soul was this...Fetid blackened thing with six limbs. And she could see me. She even greeted me cordially."
>your body becomes itchy and you can't help but shiver.
>"How did she know I was there? She must have been to the soul realm before somehow otherwise she wouldn't have noticed me."
>"Still, I kept climbing. I was near the peak. I kept climbing until I was just beneath the peak, the final stretch."
>"I saw Ozma's soul. Her soul wasn't even a star, it looked more like the embers of a dying fire. Her admin abuse cost her heavily."
>"And there beneath the peak, I saw Mara. Her soul was Silver Grey."
>"It's been a long time since I talked to her, and I had so many questions ever since she left. After Magpie's terrorism streak? The Monastery event? Why she was so keen on giving us all these boons? I had to ask.
>take a deep breath.
>"She told me everything. She told me the truth."
>"Do you remember Selene in Arcadia? Her core ability was classified as a 'deprived' class. A hidden 13th class of Daughters who are given terrible powers as their baseline at a terrible price."
>"The boons of the Deprived are that they wield powers that can warp reality. Causality, paradoxes, and maybe even time travel, things that take the laws of the reality and break it over their knee."
>"But the price they pay is that they can't win. They can't take the throne on top of the Cord. Their existence is Anathema to the Crucible, so much so they're instantly deleted the moment they sit down on the throne."
>"Mara is one of the Deprived."
>"And her Core ability is that of influencing causality. To manipulate cause and effect."
>"Mara fought in the Crucible to become the strongest daughter. No one could defeat her. No one could touch her. She was simply winning until she realized she couldn't win because of her core."
cont.
>>
>>5048665
>>5048274
>>5048667
>"What Mara told me next is the part that disgusted me."
>"She couldn't claim the throne because of her core. So she did the next best thing within her means."
>"She played as a kingmaker."
>"She gathered resources, established settlements, groomed aspiring daughters whom were full of hopes and dreams to tackle the Cord as her successors. Putting a Geas on those who she can't trust."
>"The settlements she established? She had categorized into three types: Experimental settlements who operate on the premise of finding out alternative ways to stave off the Hunger like the Altered Altar, Bastion settlements like the Monastery whose purpose is to stockpile and trade resources and information..."
>force the bile back down your throat.
>"And...'Investments'...settlements full of daughters that are sacrificed wholesale through a hunger crisis she engineers through her causality manipulation to "cash-in on her investment" and to test and enrich a potential successor."
>a bitter look of disgust becomes plain on your face.
>"The Monastery was one such 'investment settlements'. And in 'cashing-in', she used her core to nudge Uzu into..."
>Inner emotions roil and conflict with each other. Guilt, regret, shame, anger, sadness, hope, despair, all of it churns within your eyes as you quietly plead Uzu with your teary eyes for calm and forgiveness.
>"I'm sorry Uzu. I don't know what else to say...I...I'm sorry."
>lapse into silence take a moment to take deep breaths and reorient yourself to continue the story.
>"I called Mara out for her misdeeds. Angrily so. I even slapped her in the face. She deserved that much at least, even if she and I were separated by a separate dimension and a thousand miles and a power gap rivaling that of heaven and earth."
>Anger, indignation flares once more within you.
>"She deserved to be called out for her bullshit and for those she manipulated and sacrificed."
>"I left the soul realm shortly after calling Mara out."
>Heave a heavy sigh. Exhaustion settling in as the emotions leave your body. Give everyone an apologetic pleading look, accept any hugs that are offered to you.
"I'm sorry for making all of you worry about me. I'm sorry that you have to hear all of this."
>"I don't know how I feel about Mara now. On one hand, there is a part of me that is forever disgusted. She's no different than West, throwing near countless daughters under the bus. And yet... she's pulled so much for us with what she's given us that we wouldn't be here having this conversation."
>"West won't make it past Mara in a fair fight. So she's going to do the next best thing: Camp out near the peak and wait for us to begin our ascent."
>"They will be waiting for us at the top, West and Mara both. We'll need to prepare for them both."
>"But for now, I just want to rest and sort out my feelings. It's been an exhausting day already."
>Extend an offer to Amara (and Nerada if she wants) to snuggle into your arms rest with you.
>>
File: stronger heavy metal.jpg (146 KB, 904x1024)
146 KB
146 KB JPG
>>5048276

In writing the "story time" write-in, I made a realization:
We're very likely to be facing both Mara and West Prime as both the Ultimate and Penultimate Final Boss of the Quest. We might face both at the same time given how both of them decided to camp near the peak in such close proximity. This is definitely a major upgrade from the "Demigod Isabelle as Quest Final boss" Bhop had planned early on in the quest before we derailed that plotline with our wit and prudence.

Bhop, you bamboozling ball of biomass..You wanted this to happen didn't you?
>>
>>5048668
You know, I wonder if Mara also killed Elder Uzu's proxy? I remember everyone commenting on how weird it was for her to suddenly collapse like that. It would make sense, the Monastery was pretty stable with Proxy Elder Uzu in charge, she'd need to go before Uzu could be driven over the edge.

>>5048674
I'm not sure it will go quite like that. For one thing, Mara might be disgustingly consequentialist, but she does want the world to be saved. I can see her standing aside and just letting us do our work. It doesn't have to be a big dumb boss fight. Let's not just assume that we'll have to fight her. We should still prepare for a worst-case scenario, but we should at least leave open the possibility that we won't have to fight.

For another, given the cosmic origins of the Crucible and our plans to crash the system, I can see there being some final conflict with the Crucible's makers. Maybe not where we physically battle them, but one where we have to debate and argue with them over their actions and the harm they've caused, and convince them to not be jackasses about our attempt to break free of their cycle.

West is absolutely going to be the first fight of however it goes down, though, yeah. I actually find it weirdly endearing that she's determined that our party will be the last thing she needs to eat before she'll have the power to fight Mara. Not all the other Daughters she'll have eaten waiting for us to show up, we'll somehow do more than all of them combined. She's gotten a bit fixated on us, huh?
>>
>>5048898
on the flipside, Mara absolutely seems to be the type who would willingly throw herself against Shu to serve as a "final exam" sort of boss to test our resolve and power like she did when we first encountered her at the city during our rescue mission to save Kosi from Mara. It would likely serve as her own form of atonement for all of the things she has done and give Shu the final bit of "growth" . we'd likely need before we become ready to meet our makers.
>>
>>5048912
Huh, yeah, that is true, isn't it? It fits her pattern of making things more complicated than they need to be. I hope not, though, climbing the Cord and fighting West should be final exam enough.
>>
>>5048912
>>5048926
i think it'll depend heavily on just how fixated Mara still is on finding a way to make this 'her win'.
of course, m sure everyone wants to say 'but shes over that', but is she?
think about it. i kinda couldn't find a good place to mention it, but part of what stings about her and the Monastery is the very fact of when that was. that was it. she left right after that. that means she had to have left still to a pretty damn significant degree still being 'the old Mara' even if you want to argue shes changed. but then... when did she change? she clearly hadn't truly done so then, she had just fucking cashed out afterall. but she spent all her time after that at the Cord, and it sounds like she hasn't really had anyone to talk to during that time. (maybe the Cord Guardian after his pact with the cord was severed by mother? but did she climb before then? or was his pact even one she could sever?).
sure, she seemed regretful when we talked to her, but it sounds like she had known for longer than just knowing us at least somewhat that she was making mistakes, so why assume when we only ever knew the her willing to do that that shes truly changed at her core? what actual evidence do we have to that?
with that, if she decides in the end whatever we have planned or wish to do cant be said to be 'her winning', i think the likelihood of her fighting us is higher than we might hope for. the question is just how likely it is for us to do something she would think that way about?
>>
>>5049220
It's less that I think she's changed, and more that I'm hoping her utilitarianism outweighs her pride. Remember, we're her only option at this point. She said it herself, the Cord lets you rise but doesn't let you descend. The final dungeon is the point of no return, you don't get to exit and go grind some more. Mara doesn't have any more opportunities to find some other heroic Daughter to groom as the world's savior. Even if she did, she probably doesn't have the time for it. So really, her only choices are "stand aside and let Shu work" or "get in her way and be personally responsible for the death of the human species". I'm really hoping she'll make the smart decision.

I'm sure she'll still try to get her input heard, though. Probably argue with us about it a lot. It'll just be up to us to make sure it doesn't escalate. Though if it does escalate, I fully plan on having a "this is not even the slightest bit productive for you, why are you doing this?" dialogue write-in in every round.
>>
>>5049220
>that pic
yoinking that for a secondary reference for a certain parlor owner in Cradleton.

picture aside, it seems like Mara's actions and dialogue post Monastery seems more tinged with regret in retrospect. The pride and joy we felt through the empathy field on that day of the monastery event now feels more like a final flare of hope that's been kindled in Mara and the only thing sustaining her will and resolve is observing us from a distance and watching us grow and progress.

And given that Bhop's a sucker for thematics, I am of the view that Mara might go through with it should she still believe Shu's not up to the task. The amount of pride and trust she's placed in us both implicitly and explicitly despite confession that shattered the pedestal Shu placed her on feels like she's very much expecting to fight Shu and for Shu to fight Mara. It's pretty much something of a xanatos gambit for Mara at this point. If Shu defeats Mara, then Mara dies satisfied knowing that Shu has the stronger resolve and dies for her sins. If Mara defeats Shu, then it confirms to Mara her deep seated sins is stronger than the heroic deeds shes done in her endeavor to save the world and that she justly deserved the slow condemnation.
>>
Hey BHOP, I just found a neat song that I think fits the Midnight Crew really well, tell me what you think!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI7mRKhws2Q
>>
>>5049665
(Just popping in to day that this song kicks tremendous ass, and that it's going on the Playlist. Very much their vibe.)
>>
>>5049665
I agree with BHOP, that's a pretty rocking song.
>>
File: leading the charge.jpg (418 KB, 847x1200)
418 KB
418 KB JPG
>>5049850
Found two songs with titles befitting of its melody. So much so that I cannot help but transcribe the mental images that play out.

Behold: "God Shattering Star". The title says it all.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMfvZmhqW0A

>Location: No-Man's Land

>The ever chaotic battlefield near the base of the Cord. Thousands of daughters fight and wage ceaseless war against one another, in groups or individually while the Gatekeeper Sargatanas watches stoically.
>Cue music.
>A quake that disturbs the battlefield. Those closest near the edge immediately stop to stare.
>A second quake ripples through. The fighting swiftly quiets, the unusual calm disturbing many. Sargatanas frowns as he stares at the horizon.
>The third quake cements the news to those in the field. A new challenger has arrived. A Mighty challenger.
>Everyone now notices the source of the overwhelming presence on the horizon. The Three Apocalypses of the Crucible have gathered. Leading them is the Defiant.
>Shu steps forward from underneath, followed by her family. Soon her friends step forward to stand by her side, allies, associates, those who have been aided or touched by her ideals and presence. They form an Army. A Defiant Crusade against the Heavens.
>Shu begins her charge. A slow walk that soon quickens its pace into a full sprint with each measure of the song mirrored by those under her banner. Those who challenge the defiant begin to gravitate and initiate a counter-charge. Sargatanas Rises to his full height, drawing upon powers bestowed to him aeons-old tradition ready to stop those who would defy it.
>The Defiant Crusade clashes with the Chaotic denizens of the No-man's land with Shu at the tip of the spear.
>Titanic daughters clash against Behemoth's unstoppable bulwark as he strides with focused wroth.
>Leviathan slithers across land as if it were ocean, its world-spanning bulk forming a massive wall that shields the Crusade and shreds those who dare attack it from the flanks.
>Ziz soars across the skies shielding the army below and tearing through the swarms of airborne daughters, cementing its status as the stormlord of the skies.
>Friends, family, and allies clear a path through chaotic terrain and maddened daughter alike as they rush towards the Cord to make way for the one leading the charge.
>And throughout the new brand of chaos, there is a change in the air. Old combatants of the field start to fight alongside the Crusade.
>A slow trickle at first, but as the Crusade makes headway, the trickle turns into a stream, then a river, then a wave. Riding upon the wave of hope and defiance, for both selfish and selfless gain as they charge towards the cord in an advance to overwhelm the Gatekeeper that has barred their entry to the Ascent.
>>
>>5049850

And for the other song: "Apex of the World".
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eq-qUy-a-A

>Location: Near the Cord's peak.

>The final battle presents itself as Shu steps forward to face West and Mara, both seeking to bar her way. Both seeking to test the Defiant in their own individual way.
>Shu reflects upon the progress she has made, those she has saved, those she can save, those yet to be saved, those she failed to save.
>The weight of the world rests heavy on her shoulders, the hopes and dreams she carries upon her back. Friend, Lover, Family, Mother.
>In the lens of the liminal soulscape, Shu's soul is a multi-colored multi-faceted star whose size and radiance contrasts that of Mara's Silver-blue Giant and West's Consuming Black hole.
>It forms a mantle that encompasses her very being.
>She charges and the battle begins in earnest.
>All around the world, everyone looks skywards towards the Cord. Their breaths hitched in anticipation.

I hope these songs strike your muse and playlist with a thunderous chord of inspiration.
>>
>>5049980
ah God Shattering Star a very good piece of music.

and to be honest the charge of the titans in not a bad comparison considering the Bossfight this piece was written for.
>>
>>5049980
It's going to be an epic showdown, yeah. Though I suspect we'll probably get just as many people following us because we're clearing a path and want to take advantage as because they're inspired by us. I'm sure some people are fighting for the Cord because they want the Crucible to end and just don't realize the trap, but there must also be plenty who want the power. And also don't realize the trap, presumably. Unless they've got their own plans for hijacking it, in which case good for them. I mean, I don't want smart opponents, but at least it speaks well for their reasoning skills.
>>
File: Uzu.jpg (413 KB, 1091x1609)
413 KB
413 KB JPG
>>5048274

"Honestly guys? I’ll wait to meet Paloma ‘til after I rest…” You begin with a heavy, honest sigh as Gina and Rath relax a little, their double-barreled protests at the ready in case you tried to fight them on this.

“…because I dont think I’d get any until I get this off my chest. What I want to recount is…very heavy and emotionally intense. I’m sure that some of it is going to make you angry as I was. So please, when I'm ready to speak, I would like all of you to sit down."

It doesn’t take long for your remaining trio of Dream Daughters to join you, plus November after a short wait. Your family worriedly gathers ‘round as you wince, taking an uncomfortable but much-needed seat on the edge of the roof’s lip. A few kneel, a few sit, while Holly, Johanna, Uzu and B’ni stand at the back. Gina and Rath are by your side, and while the latter keeps glancing your way with a worried expression, GG’s just quietly rubbing the small of your back, keeping your nerves at bay.

She knows what you do…and she knows how hard this is going to be for you to put into words.

You glance up at a genteel cough to see Dorian with a Commling in his hands, and once everyone’s settled in he addresses the girls on the other end. “Lady Julia, Miss Andromeda? Can you hear us?”

“L-Loud and clear!” The kindly Flesh Artisan announces. “We’re both here, so g-go ahead Shu!”

"Look, some of what I’m about to say won’t sit well with anyone, but for some others, it...just…please, prepare yourselves.” You caution, before taking a breath. “And…Uzu?”

The young woman startles a bit at being singled out, and a glance to her right makes you lock eyes with B’ni’s…and she just quietly takes Uzu’s hand in her own, sensing your warning before you utter a word of it. “Look, Uzu…I’m sorry if you take this the wrong way but I wanted to give you some forewarning. I’m sorry, truly sorry...but you needed to be warned more than anyone else."

The Monastery’s former director tightens her hand around B’ni’s, and with that?

You tell your family what you know. About the souls that opened up, unbidden, at the sound of your voice. About the mountain that was the Cord, the ashes and trek there. About the climb. About West.

About…

"What Mara told me next is the part that disgusted me." You continue, drawing in a warm breath of air that still chills you to the core. "Because she was a Deprived, she couldn’t claim the throne without dooming humanity. So she did the next best thing within her means."

"She played kingmaker." Francine muses, and you nod grimly.

(Continued)
>>
>>5051504

"She gathered resources, established settlements, groomed aspiring Daughters whom were full of hopes and dreams to tackle the Cord as her successors. Putting a Geas on those who she can't trust." You explain, a knot forming in your chest the closer you creep to the inevitable. "She categorized the settlements she founded into three types: Experimental settlements who operate on the premise of finding out alternative ways to stave off the Hunger like the Altered Altar, Bastion settlements like the Monastery whose purpose is to stockpile and trade resources and information, and..."

Gina’s hand in on your shoulder as you swallow down the emotions that threaten to choke out the words you need to voice.

“…and 'Investments'. Settlements full of daughters that are sacrificed wholesale through a hunger crisis she engineers through her causality manipulation to…to cash-in. Her words and to test and enrich a potential successor."

You can see it—the slow, terrible realization dawning on those gathered before you.

Still, you press on.

"The Monastery was one such 'investment settlement'. And in 'cashing-in', she used her core to nudge Uzu into..."

Guilt, regret, shame, anger…all of that and more churns within you as you meet Uzu’s wide, stunned eyes.

"I'm sorry Uzu. I don't know what else to say...I...I'm sorry."

There’s no breeze, no gasp, no sound in that moment. Uzu’s just…numbly staring out at the horizon, her fingers limp in B’ni’s grasp. She silently turns, walking over to the opposite edge of the roof as her friends stay by her side.

Uzu’s shoulders start to shake with sobs you can’t hear…and then, from close by an overwhelming heat comes, then the familiar tang of ozone. Rath’s entire form flares red-hot, then bright white as Nerada scrambles back, and at that same moment Dorian’s entire frame starts shaking with rage as furious red lightning arcs along his trembling limbs.

“It…it all makes sense.” Orwell murmurs, too stunned by the news to even start her usual pacing. Instead, she shuffles from foot to foot, her eyes darting about as she reviews everything you’ve said, turning it over and over again in her mind. For your part, Rath’s hand finds your shoulder as she takes the seat next to you, the blistering heat that radiates from her palm suddenly shifting to a gentle warmth the moment her skin meets yours.

"I called Mara out. I was angry. I hit her, even.” You continue, and Jackie gives a snort of approval as everyone else hangs on every word. “She deserved that much, at least. She deserved to be called out for her bullshit and for those she manipulated and sacrificed, and...I..."

“What happened then?” Amara whispers, and you realize you’d gotten lost in anger for a long moment.

(Continued)
>>
>>5051507

"She…I left. Came back here, to all of you.” Heaving a sigh, exhaustion starts to pluck at every raw nerve in your body as you shake your head. "I'm sorry for making all of you worry about me. I'm sorry that you have to hear-“

“You…” Dorian growls like thunder, rounding on you as he crosses the four-meter gap between you with a crack of lightning. “…you have no apologies to make, Miss Shu. Not. A. One.”

“Gotta go with Mister Darcy, here.” Jackie groans, rising to her feet. “Mara ran you through the ringer, so what the hell you sayin’ sorry for?”

"I just…I don't know how I feel about Mara now.” You groan, pinching the bridge of your nose between thumb and forefinger to drown out your burgeoning headache. “On one hand, there’s a part of me that’s disgusted. Mara’s no different than West, throwing who-know-ho-many Daughters into slaughterhouses of her own making. And yet... she's pulled so much for us with what she's given us that we wouldn't be here having this conversation."

“All that aside—what’s her game?” Orwell demands, her concentric pacing reduced to her teetering in place on one heel. “Is she planning on taking out West for us? ‘Cause if so, I-oh, cool, of course not. That’d be way too freakin’ helpful.” The teen mutters irritably after you start shaking your head.

"West won't make it past Mara in a fair fight. Mara knows it. West knows it. So she's going to do the next best thing: Camp out near the peak and wait for us to begin our ascent." You explain, this news only inspiring a fresh wave of fury that ripples through your compatriots. "They’ll be waiting for us at the top, West *and* Mara…so we’ll need to prepare to face them both, when the time comes.”

"But for now?” You say, shifting your tone as you shake your sleeping legs awake. “I just want to rest and sort out my feelings…and I’d hazard a guess that we all might need some time to do just that. It's been an exhausting day, already."

“I’m going to research.” Orwell announces, the teenage Skintalker’s brow knit with focus. “I can try and figure out where those sacrificial settlements are. I’m sure there are ones we’ve already discovered could fall into that category.”

“D-Dorian, could you give the commling to Orwell?” Julia’s voice crackles over the skittish construct, still grasped tightly in Dorian’s hand. “If she’s going to sc-scour what we’ve discovered so f-far, then Andromeda’s research m-might be of help!”

“Gotta say, I could use the extra hands.” Orwell admits as Dorian tosses her the Commling. “Dorian, do you-“

“I am going for a walk.” He says curtly, and in a flash of crimson lighting, he’s gone. Amara looks from where he once stood to see Nerada standing uncomfortably at the edge of the small crowd, and she glances back to you with a worried look.

“Go.” You say with a tired smile. “I’ll be fine, sweetie.”

(Continued)
>>
File: The Tick of the Clock.jpg (607 KB, 1280x1774)
607 KB
607 KB JPG
>>5051512

Amara reluctantly trots off to attend to her peer, while Gina gently takes hold of your chin and turns your eyes to meet hers.

[Babe, you need…] She begins through your bond before speaking aloud after glancing to Rath. "You need to rest."

"I'm with GG. You got that look in your eye that tell me you're thinking about everybody but yourself, and we're not gonna let that shit fly." The redhead on your left chimes in sternly. "So, what'cha wanna do?"

"I…" You start,only to find no words forthcoming to your dry, weary lips. "...I have no idea."

"Well...I like to think I know what's best for you, but you feel…scattered." The brunette on your right murmurs concernedly. "So whatever comes to mind, whatever you think might help...we'll make it happen, Shu."

You strugfle for an answer as your eyes rove across those still gathered on the top of this concrete anomaly. Francine and November appear to be engaged in a fervent discussion at the far corner of the roof, while Jackie and the Midnight Crew lurk at the opposite one. Jackie's putting on a brave face, but you can tell she's almost as shaken as you are...a fact that's not lost on the Crew as they focus their attentions on her.

Between them, Uzu sits with B'ni on her right, Holly to her left, and Johanna's powerful frame looming over them like a muscle-bound guardian. B'ni glances your way as she says something to her friend that's well out of earshot, but the emerald-eyed girl just nods appreciatively when you meet her gaze.

Honesty, even when it hurts.

Truth, to who it is due.

...You just wish doing the right thing didn't hurt like a bitch.

In any case, what you want to do next is slowly taking shape in your mind, and when you next turn to Gina, you have an answer.

>>You're already with the two people who can help you relax the most, so go somewhere to talk with Gina and Rath.

>>You need to spend some time around a bit if youthful optimism, right now. Go spend some time with Amara and Nerada.

>>Go check on Dorian...his abruptness belied an anger you've only rarely seen him exhibit.

>>Anger still roils in your chest, and you need an outlet...now's as good or as terrible a time as any for a duel with Jackie. Maybe she needs it as much as you, right now.

>>Take some time to yourself and wander the Ikean Fortress alone. You need to well and truly clear your head.

>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Good Morning, Everyone. I hope you had a restful weekend, and that your week is off to a good start. Mine went well, and I even played a bit of Library of Ruina, which I got on a recent sale. I’m not too far in, but I’m enjoying it thus far. Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in approximately four.)
>>
>>5051516
>Mine went well, and I even played a bit of Library of Ruina, which I got on a recent sale. I"m not too far in, but I'm enjoying it thus far.
OOOH DIS GON BE GUD.

What chapter are you on? Canard? Urban Myth? Urban Legend?

On my end, I'm making steady progress on the Cradleton rewrite surprisingly enough. Work kicked my ass yesterday however.
>>
>>5051514
vote;
>You're already with the two people who can help you relax the most, so go somewhere to talk with Gina and Rath.

this or take some time to ourselves.

>>5051516
weekend was pretty mixed myself. could've been much worse though.
>>
>>5051512

>“I am going for a walk.”

Lets hope it is not the Alucard type of walk... or maybe it will be and her will have slaughtered a virtual army of Amalgams for us to feast on once he is finished.

>>5051514
>>The girls are right. Pushing yourself and worrying about others right not when you are hurting is not the best thing to do.
>>You're already with the two people who can help you relax the most, so go somewhere to talk with Gina and Rath.

Well Shu could really use the springs of Dover right now i think... maybe we can scrounge up a bath for right now.... just to scrub of the soul dust.

>>5051516
Its been pretty good. In an ancient tempted my Players Characters with what they wanted most. Then fought them with an Angel, which was summoned by a vampire spawn priest that then fled. The Angel hurt them pretty good. Strongholds and Followers is a third party book i highly recommend. Then they followed the vampire spawn Priest through a portal right into a small army of zombies where they could not use AOE spells or would get three stone golem to the face.... needless to say they were quite heavily beaten without their extra Warlock there to help....

The raven Queen Warlock had taken a trip to the Ethereal Plane and tried to talk to the splintered mind of a demigod.... they were ignored... which is a good thing since otherwise they would have burned in blue flames and their soul reduced to less than Ash


>>5051518
sorry to hear work was tough. I hope you are feeling better today.
>>
>>5051514
I want to check on Dorian, but let's give him a bit of time to himself first. Interrupting his broody run would probably not be received well, but once he's cleared his head he should have someone to talk to. In the meanwhile, let's clear Shu's head by having her spend some time with her girls.

>>You're already with the two people who can help you relax the most, so go somewhere to talk with Gina and Rath.

>>5051516
My weekend was good. I went to the zoo. It's always a good weekend when you go to the zoo.
>>
>>5051514
>>>You're already with the two people who can help you relax the most, so go somewhere to talk with Gina and Rath
I'm a bit torn between this and going to talk to Dorian, but really Shu needs a few minutes. The kids are fine, I'd honestly rather not duel Jackie in an emotionally rough moment (especially after the quick glimpse into her thoughts we just got). Alone would be alright too,

Probably a good idea to talk to Dorian eventually, but he has a good head on his shoulders, and honestly this is not exactly a bad thing for him to be mad about. It's more than a bit fucked.
>>
>>5051518
(Still the opening chapter. Just fought Finn, so I'm not very deep into it at all. Very fun combat though. I love deck hinders like Slay the Spire and Monster Train, so I'm intrigued. Also, the atmosphere and art direction is top-notch.)

>>5051520
(I hope your next one is better!)

>>5051522
(Your campaign sounds absolutely wild. I hope to run one of my own sometime soon.)

>>5051523
(Heh, I almost went to the zoo this weekend, myself. Glad you had fun!)
>>
>>5051525
>>5051523
>>5051522
On mobile, I do have a big concern about Dorian however, if you look back to when we interacted with his soul, his primary concern/vice is that his apparently poor hidden temper that mirrors that of his late father.
>>
>>5051514

am >>5051518
my vote:
>check on Dorian
>>
>>5051578
True. But that's why I think he needs some time by himself to cool down. Let him run around for a bit and work out that energy safely, probably toss some lightning bolts around, then once he's calmed down a bit we can talk with him. I'm not saying leave him in the lurch, just don't confront him when he's at his angriest and won't want to talk.
>>
>>5051601
honestly everyone probably needs some time here, however they think they need it.

as for Dorian specifically, maybe now he may have that excuse he wanted to talk to Rath...
>>
>>5051570
Am >>5051522

The Campaing is wild. Its a mix of Egypt and the wild west(from movies and such not the real world one)

A near insane soulmerged trio of Queens rules over the country that claims the territory where the campaing takes place tgough they are more preoccupied serving their godess of death, undeath and corruption and feuding with the local Ork empire about proper succession while in the middle of a massive Inquisition against devil whorship and needing to placate an near indestructible dracolich that had a body forged for itself from adamantine so that he shares his magical research with them
>>
File: 90286824_p55.jpg (1.25 MB, 1440x1080)
1.25 MB
1.25 MB JPG
>>5051570
I'm glad you appreciate it. Fair warning though. Receptions in the late game can tricky and down right mean unless you build the proper decks. It pulls no punches in the combat side.
>>
>>5051514
>>You're already with the two people who can help you relax the most, so go somewhere to talk with Gina and Rath.

I think we should talk to Dorian... but not now. He needs to vent, cool down first and Shu is not in the best of shapes right now, mentally and emotionally.
>>
File: Rath, Pensive.png (342 KB, 511x800)
342 KB
342 KB PNG
>>5051514

“…I think I want to just chill for a little while.” You finally say, rising from your seat. “You two mind joining me?”

“Considering I wouldn’t trust you to not get side-tracked?” Rath grins, hand on your shoulder. “Good luck getting rid of me.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself.” Gina adds, waving over to Keane. The group’s formidable supporter darts over to your side, all too happy to escort the three of you into the Ikea, proper. Descending into the hole Rath punched through the roof (much to her chagrin), Keane leads the way into a surprisingly cozy labyrinth of corridors and hallways. The thrum of distant activity can be felt far below, but the upper levels appear to have been converted into an almost hotel-like series of living quarters. Soft carpet’s underfoot wherever you go, the earth-tone design lit by regularly-spaced bio lamps, their hard, bony exteriors crafted to resemble chic light fixtures.

“Okay, you’re right in here!” Keane beams, having rounded one final corner with a flourish at the innocuous door you’ve come face-to-face with. “The master suite is all yours, and our suite is just down the hall, so let me know if you need anything!”

You give her your thanks before reaching out, pulling the door open to reveal a room so impressively furnished that it gives you pause. To your right, a small dining area sit with a fully-stocked kitchenette just beyond it, while to your left lies a cozy sitting area—three couches arranged around a modest table. At the furthest part of the room is the clear centerpiece; a massive four-poster bed, the rest of the space arranged almost in obeisance of the singularly lavish piece of furniture.

“Holy shit.” Rath breathes in awe while Gina gathers herself enough to march all three of you to the bed, arm-in-arm as Rath starts to stammer. “H-hey, what-?”

“Shu? Sit.” The brunette orders, and she doesn’t need to flex any Neuromancy to make your exhausted frame comply. “I’m going to see if Paloma stocked anything tasty, so don’t move. Rath? Make sure she doesn’t try to…I dunno. Give someone therapy while I’m not looking.”

Rath chuckles as you roll your eyes, and while Gina starts rummaging around the cabinets, your brawler turns to you with a sheepish expression. “Okay, so…weird question.”

“What’s up?” You ask, giving the mattress an appraising prod of your index finger.

“Your shoulders are…like…ridiculously tense.” She begins tentatively, as though walking her words on eggshells. “I think I might be able help, if that’s…cool.”

“Do it!” Gina yells out from across the room, not even bothering to look back as Rath nearly jumps out of her skin. “I’m garbage at massages, so put some muscle into it. I got me some tiny hands!”

(Continued)
>>
>>5051687

You’re too tired to argue with either of them as Rath moves behind you, crossing her legs and settling in with a shaky breath. It’s a few long seconds before her fingers alight on your shoulders, and when they do you almost let out an involuntary gasp at their incredible warmth.

Your right shoulder sags, going limp at the much-needed pressure that's expertly applied. Rath works in focused silence, shifting to your stubborn left shoulder as she works at the hard, chitinous plates of your hive. You reach up, fingertips finding the green-black shell's almost covered your entire bicep in glossy, insectile armor.

"Wait, does this hurt?" Rath asks suddenly, recoiling. "Tell me if I-"

"No...no, this is really nice, actually." You sigh, leaning in to the relief as you feel a second pair of hands start to retread the massage of your right shoulder blade. "Heh, four arms. Clever."

Rath makes a little sound of confusion, and then you feel it; the neuromancy at work across the Crimson Cord, an echo of pleasure courtesy of Gina.

She's smiling as she returns with a small plate of some sort of crackers, or maybe they're cookies? In any case, she sits behind Rath, lying down on the bed and scooting the plate next to the two of you, her veins pulsing neon.

"Hey, wasn't there something you wanted to run by us?" Gina suddenly asks, and Rath goes stock still for a moment before she shifts focus, running her thumbs down the sides of your aching spine.

"...Yeah." Rath admits, her voice nearly cracking before she evens out with a small cough. "Yeah, but it can totally wait! Today's been a lot, so I'm not gonna be the asshole who burdens you two with-"

"You're as bad as-" You begin before Gina finishes your sentence.

"Shu." She laughs, and even Rath chuckles to herself.

"Heh, well...thats the best sort of bad to be, isn't it?" She replies, skirting around GG's question…and your girlfriend decides to not push the issue, much to your surprise.

You, Gina, and Rath just sit in silence for a little while after that, and though you can practically feel Rath wrestling with whatever she has on her mind, any will you have to move under your own volition is melted away by your masseuse's alarmingly skilled touch.

This...you can't put into words how much you needed this.

>>Just relax in silence, for now, until Gina or Rath speak up. You haven't felt this relaxed in...almost ever, now that you think of it.

>>Despite her reluctance, prompt Rath to speak her mind…you're always willing to hear her out.

>>...You're worried about Dorian. Relax just a little while longer, then go track him down.

>>As nice as this is, it can't st forever. Assemble your family, and meet with Paloma.

>>Sheepishly ask Rath if she wouldn't mind massaging a place that's in dire need of attention (Write-In)

>>Bring up something to one or both of them that's been on your mind (Write-In).

>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, with posting to resume in three.)

>>5051636
(Duly noted, and I appreciate the heads-up. It's been a while since a banged my head against Slay the Spire's upper ascensions, so I'm looking forward to fighting my way through what's in store.)
>>
>>5051688
vote;
>Just relax in silence, for now, until Gina or Rath speak up. You haven't felt this relaxed in...almost ever, now that you think of it.
>>
File: Spoiler Image (1.08 MB, 799x1200)
1.08 MB
1.08 MB JPG
>>5051691
A hint for you to help survive the Library: Do your Reading. (read the the passives on each enemy as well as the combat cards to get a sense of how each reception and battle will work/pan out). It's become such a meme in the community when other players complain about the game being too hard because they can't be bothered to actually "read" in a game about Ruina's mechanics.

Also. Slight spoilers, but something for you to look forward to as you progress through the game. There are Boss Rush receptions. Multiple Boss Rush Receptions. Yes, they are hard. The rewards are WORTH IT. Be prepared.

>>5051688
>Despite her reluctance, prompt Rath to speak her mind…you're always willing to hear her out.
>Sheepishly ask Rath if she wouldn't mind massaging a place that's in dire need of attention: Thighs and Legs.
>>
>>5051688
>>Just relax in silence, for now, until Gina or Rath speak up. You haven't felt this relaxed in...almost ever, now that you think of it.
>>maybe fall asleep but try to fight it

to be honest i could use a massage myself now.. feeling a bit tense after my workout
>>
>>5051688
Hmm...we really do need to have this conversation at some point. I'm just not sure if now's the right time. It's going to be an emotional conversation of its own, and deserves some time to have it properly instead of cram it in during a "mentor turned out to be mass murderer, need to destress" break. But I feel like a huge coward to put it off until a later date. I don't want to just keep pushing it down the road. I'm not sure what to vote. Thoughts, anyone?
>>
>>5051724
i think Shu needing to Recharge should be the priority right now. She is a daughter like the others so unless she destresses this whole thing with Mara might as well break either her or someone in the family. We could have this conversation after the next Meal... We could ask her to tell us what is on her mind after the next feast?

That would pin a time down and would give her a chance to relax with us now and actually make her thoughts more orderly for when she wants to talk.
>>
>>5051724
make the time or lose the opportunity. We won't have the time to properly sit down once more if the pace of the story keeps pushing forwards like this during our downtime. Sooner or later people in-quest will either start getting antsy or the inner conflicts that our friends and family will have will resolve themselves in their natural conclusion, what we have in terms of choice is being able to nudge and influence how each of these sub-plot conflicts will lead towards their resolution.
>>
>>5051729
"We'll talk at the next meal" might not be the worst date to peg it to. Though that could still be like six months out of character. But yeah, that's the crux of my internal debate. I want to talk with Rath. But it's a weird time and place to have this conversation when it's supposed to be just a quick break before we talk to Paloma, with the priority being getting our head on straight.

>>5051730
Also true. Though it's complicated here by the fact that the character point here is based on Rath's relationship with Shu and Gina, so if it doesn't get brought up eventually that is itself a resolution. It's a much more personal and direct issue with Rath than if we were to, say, have an influence in Dorian's character development. Maybe there's a middle ground I can go for, let me try to write something up.
>>
>>5051688
>Write-In
>Just relax in silence for now, until one of them speaks up.
>But if nobody does, make sure to talk with Rath before we head out.
>"Hey, you know you're not a burden, right? I care about you, a lot. Gina does, too. We always want to hear what you've got to say."
>"It's okay if you don't want to say it right now. But soon, maybe? I want to make the time for us to have this conversation properly, so we don't just have to cram it into a spare moment."
>"And thank you, Rath. I needed this."
>Pull her in for a hug, give her a kiss on the cheek.
>"Come on. We've got gods to hunt."
>>
>>5051688
>>>Despite her reluctance, prompt Rath to speak her mind…you're always willing to hear her out.
Man, we really need just like three hours in-universe to handle some stuff. But that hasn't happened for a while and doesn't seem like it will.
>>
File: Rath.png (332 KB, 511x800)
332 KB
332 KB PNG
>>5051688

For now, you resolve to relax in the comfortable silence until either of your companions speak up, since you haven’t felt this relaxed in…pretty much ever, now that you think of it. It feels like a lifetime ago that you woke up alone, just the hive at your back and a head full of questions in a world of bone and blood. Now, as you release a breath that carries some of the stress that Rath’s coaxing out of you, it hits you just how far you come. First B’ni, then West, then Rath, and Gina. Finding the Halo, then sitting down to talk with Julia, then finding Amara’s pod. Then Dorian’s mansion, then November almost shelling you with the Geschoss. How things were touch-and-go with Francine, and then…

You hear Gina shift on she comforter, and a second later Rath lets out a little yelp of alarm as the other girl starts to massage Rath’s shoulders, in turn.

“Relax. We’ve all had a hell of time of things. Just think of it as, uh…” Gina mutters, then grins. “…a human centipede of affection.”

“Welp, there it is—the worst thing I’ve ever heard.” Rath cringes, and Gina looses a gut-laugh that can’t help but make you smile.

The hell you’ve been through is worth it, for moments like these.

A few minutes later there’s a gentle knock on your door, and just as you and Rath both rise to answer it Gina’s quicker on the draw than either of you, motioning for you both to stay seated as she runs over to greet the new arrival.

“Greetings, Miss Gina. I-“ Dorian begins, ushered into the room before he pauses upon seeing you and Rath, the latter’s hands suddenly flaring with heat. “…if I’m interrup-“

“No, I’ve kept everyone waiting long enough.” You sigh, patting Rath’s hand at your shoulder as you rise from the infuriatingly comfy bed. “How was your run?”

“Much-needed.” He replies with a smile that’s equal parts tired and amiable. “I went back up to the roof, and Miss Em had arrived to let everyone know that Miss Paloma’s cleared her schedule indefinitely, though she wished to make it clear that we were to take all the time we need to recuperate. Miss Em emphasized that we were to attend to our own needs first and foremost before agreeing to meet with her.”

“That’s much appreciated. Thank you, Dorian.” You say, extending your hand to help Rath stand, as she’s just been sitting on the bed since Dorian arrived to see her massaging you.

“Now then—Rath, if I may?”

“Huh?!” Rath startles at being addressed by the young man, her own distant train of thought suddenly crashing into the here and now. “Uh, yeah man, what’s up?”

“Given some reflection, I would very much like to speak with you after we meet with those in charge here.” Comes his polite request.

“Oh. Me? Yeah, of course we can.” She replies, off-guard yet intrigued.

(Continued)
>>
>>5051795

Seeing an opportunity, you fire a quick blurb across the Crimson Cord, and Gina replies with a nigh-imperceptible nod as she ushers Dorian out with a question about Julia, giving you and Rath a moment of privacy as you turn to face the shorter girl.

"Hey, you know you're not a burden, right?” You assure her…and despite the fact that she can topple gods with her bare hands, she seems so skittish as GG swings the door nearly shut behind her. “I care about you, a lot. Gina does, too. We always want to hear what you've got to say."

“I know, I just…yeah. I know. And I feel like I can come to you guys with…hell, anything really.” She nods, fighting to meet your eyes as she stands before you, steeling her resolve. “There is something I want to say, but I just think that now’s not the best time. We have a lot going on, and it might not change anything, but…I still want to say it. I *need* to say it, just at a better time.”

"Of course. It's okay if you don't want to say it right now. Believe me, I get it.” You say, reaching out to place a hand on her shoulder. “But soon, maybe? I want to make the time for us to have this conversation properly, so we don't just have to cram it into a spare moment. You deserve that, and I’m not going to put that off."

“Thanks, Shu.” She smiles sheepishly, and you roll your shoulders to find them blessedly free of the pain you’d just pushed to the back of your mind.

"And thank *you*, Rath. I needed this. All of it—I seriously can’t thank you enough for what you just did." You smile, pulling her into a warm hug.

She tenses, then loosens, her arms looping under yours to tighten the embrace before you turn to give her a kiss on her cheek. Rath looks up at you, and her cheeks flare…but she doesn’t flinch, nor does she make any moves to hide her blush. Instead, she holds her ground, smiling up at you as you hold her in your arms, lost in a haze of relaxation and the warmth that radiates from the other girl. Stepping back after a second or two and pulling yourself together, you promptly jerk your thumb towards the door with a smirk.

"Come on. We've got gods to hunt, Radiant."

Your brawler just laughs, her old confidence striking you differently for reasons you can’t quite place. Rath taps your knuckles with hers, winking as she adds; “Hell yeah we do, Godhunter.”

>>Meet with Paloma with your entire family…it’s time you see what she has planned.

>>Talk with Dorian on the way to the meeting…you just want to make sure he’s okay.

>>Touch base with Uzu as you make your way to Paloma…or just with her allies, if she’s not up to it.

>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume tomorrow afternoon at 12PM, Eastern time. Unfortunately, it turns out that I must attend to something for work that hopefully won’t take very long, but if there are any further delays then I’ll keep you informed. If all holds well, I may compress the voting times to 2-3 as opposed to the usual 3-4 to catch up, but I'll have to play it by ear.)

(I wish you a restful evening, and take care, one and all.)
>>
>>5051799
vote;
>Touch base with Uzu as you make your way to Paloma…or just with her allies, if she’s not up to it.
Dorian seemed stable enough, and i think hes already seeking out the help he might need. Uzu might be ok too but we dont have confirmation about that, so best to at least see for ourselves.

>>5051801
well, is what it is. thanks for the forewarning though.
>>
>>5051801
oh, may be spoilers, so answer as you can, but anyone planning to ask us what we overheard from the ol soul stuff?

also hows background stuff coming along?
>>
>>5051799
>Touch base with Uzu as you make your way to Paloma…or just with her allies, if she’s not up to it.
>>
>>5051801
Yes, interaction with Rath: Adorable. We're going to get that girl to blush so hard she burns the Ikea down. Or would, if it weren't for Sister's Constellation, anyway.

>>Touch base with Uzu as you make your way to Paloma…or just with her allies, if she’s not up to it.
Sounds like Rath is going to provide some help to Dorian, so let's check on Uzu. She doing okay? We can send her back to the Dreamscape for a while if she wants to rest. Or keep her out if she thinks she'd do better with something to occupy her attention. Whatever the case, it's up to her what she thinks would have her in the best mindset.

>>5051801
Sorry to hear you're going to have a busy morning tomorrow, BHOP. Thanks for the heads up. I hope it isn't too rough for you, though.
>>
>>5051807
(Jackie and Nerada are too embarrassed, while Dorian is confident in his decided solution. Meanwhile, B'ni isn't going to mention anything for fairly obvious reasons, and finally Amara may bring it up at some point when she feels like she can.)

(As far as the background stuff, it's coming. This week has been busier than I anticipated with some car troubles that I got fixed today, but trying to do my job and also play tech support for my other associate working from home has been taxing, to say the least. This past weekend was a bit of a wash, so I intend for this upcoming one to be the one where I buckle down and completely update the sheets, and also finish the Hive Mistress cheat sheet to my satisfaction before well and truly digging in to the Relics as they stand now.)
>>
>>5051812
(A name, cast off the edge.)
>>
>>5051799
>>Touch base with Uzu as you make your way to Paloma…or just with her allies, if she’s not up to it.
>>
>>5051812
well, we slightly brought it up with Nerada anyways. I get it for the rest, though Jackie clearly had some stuff to work out. hopefully her pals can coax it out of her. I can imagine Keane actually being a little pest at times when she thinks Jackies needs it.

ah, shame to hear lifes being life, but well, thats life. hopefully you'll find the time you want for it though!
>>
>>5051799
>>>Touch base with Uzu as you make your way to Paloma…or just with her allies, if she’s not up to it.
Deploy the redhead towards Dracula, I trust Rath. Uzu... I can't really predict what she needs right now, whether she wants to stay out here and keep helping or if it would be better for the DDs to form a hugball around her.
>>
>>5051799
>>Touch base with Uzu as you make your way to Paloma…or just with her allies, if she’s not up to it.

We've heard very little from her since the big revelation, and we knew she'd be the person affected the most heavily by this revelation. We need to check in with her and make sure she knows she's not alone right now.
>>
>>5051799

Once you and Rath exit your suite, you find that the gang’s all here—your family, Orwell, Nerada, and the Midnight Crew are lined in the hallway with Jackie the furthest from you, her dark eye lingering on you for only a moment before she beckons you to follow her with a jerk of her head.

“I’m taking you to the conference room the back way.” Jackie yells back before darting around a corner. “Paloma still plans to give y’all the grand tour when she’s done, so be ready for that.”

Dorian quickly finds Rath in the crowd, the two of them hanging back a bit to talk as you note the pointed absence of your Dream Daughters...only Johanna’s in attendance, something you realize seconds before she sidles up to you, voice low.

“Halls and the others are going to sit this one out.” She informs you gruffly as you follow the Midnight Crew through a door and down a winding staircase.

“It’s that bad?”

“Yeah.” The taller woman grunts, sending a pang of grief lancing through your heart as your fingers curl around the railing. “Uzu’s relieved. Guilty. Angry. Confused. It’s a lot. She needs time.”

“I can bring her back into the Dreamscape. Give her and the others some time to-” You offer, your words trailing off as Johanna quickly shakes her head.

“Too easy to spiral. Shut yourself off. Get your time out of sync with others.” She rattles off. “She’ll do better in the real. It was her call.”

“You can get out of step with each other?” You ask, the possibility never having occurred to you.

“Yeah. It’s easy. B’ni almost did. We kept on her enough so she couldn’t.”

“I see...how are you holding up?” You ask, shifting tracks.

“Better than the others.” Johanna answers, simply. You follow Jackie out into a sparse stretch of hallway, the ceiling lined with pipes that your Dream Daughter has to stoop to stay under as she—much to your surprise—elaborates.

“Connecting is...hard. Less for Holly, but she has her moments.” The girl beside you says, her characteristically decisive edge traded for a halting, uncertain cadence. “We did bad things. Me and the others. We had our reasons. Hunger. Fear. Love. Crucible brought out the worst in us. We couldn’t fight it. But now? Because of you?”

She shrugs as you come to the end of the line, the Midnight Crew pausing before a set of oak doors.

“We have each other. Uzu may be hurting right now.” Johanna intones, with a smile. “But I know she will be okay.”

Ace and Quinn open the way for the rest of you, revealing a large conference room with a long wooden table almost as large as the Geschoss. Twelve seats flank either side, with two larger ones mirrored at their end. Placing a hand on the one closest to you, you lock eyes with the leader of the Ikean Fortress, seated opposite you.

(Continued)
>>
>>5052392

Paloma sits at the head of the table with Em to her right—the former’s giddy air replaced with that of a consummate corporate professional, the latter now possessed of a relaxed focus, the casual air of a cat ready to strike when the mood shifts.

“Please, sit wherever you all like.” Paloma says, rising from her seat and gesturing to the empty chairs, her gaze never once leaving yours.

Gina to your right, Rath to your left, and Amara in your lap—the usual positions filled, as the rest of those present get as comfortable.

“You’re a busy woman, so I’ll give you the news and my overall plan in brief, and we can circle back with any questions you and your family may have. Are we aligned on this?” Paloma forwards, her clipped voice a far cry from the giddy young woman you met only an hour or so before. You nod, and with that, she begins.

“Excellent, then I’ll get right down to it. To start, some unfortunate news. The Ikean Fortress was the second-closest settlement to the Cord. As of forty minutes ago, it is now the first.”

“Oh, fuck me.” Orwell mutters, eyes going wide as Paloma’s mouth forms a grim line.

“Four separate factions came into conflict at the edge of no-man’s land, and the ensuing power struggle resulted in a Hunger spiral that quickly engulfed them. The settlement at the edge of the massacre was destroyed in the event, with the Amalgam following not long after. It was annihilated a third of the way to the Cord.”

The petite young woman takes a breath, then continues. “This is, regrettably, a symptom of a far greater issue—our Crucible has dragged on too long. Once Marrow Dragoon and West Prime began their ascent, this knowledge spurred a mass exodus for the Cord by groups that had, until recently, been content to either accumulate power or lay low. Our world grows desperate, and the Crucible demands a victor...no. *Humanity* demands a victor. And that’s where you come in.”

Her brown eyes rest on you, along with the weight of the world.

“You are the clear favorite. Though, statistically speaking, you may not have Dragoon or West’s raw power,, you have a clear motive and enough public support to see this through. However, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the burden of being a savior is a heavy one. In short, you and your family have been weighed down by two opposed tasks—ascending the Cord, and dealing with extraneous public issues. My plan is a simple one; I deal with the humanitarian side of things—picking up things that would otherwise slow you down—while you and your family focus on what matters most.”

Her eyes are like stone, in this moment—hard, and deadly serious.

“Finishing the Crucible.”

>>”I hear you want to move the Ikea...where does that fit into your plan?”

>>”Are you saying you want to deal with the cult, too?”

>>”I like it. One question; what’s in this for you?”

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in four. Things went well this morning, and my evening opened up as well.)
>>
>>5052393
Well shit. We're gonna need to hunt down Leviathan and Behemoth and convince them to help finish the Crucible and rally them under a single banner if we are to have the best chance of making it through the no-man's land.

This feels like we're getting down to the wire on the global doom timer. And at the rate we're going and my own pace of writing. I fear I might not be able to finish Cradleton, it'll be close, but it won't be up to what I deem 'acceptable'. I could technically end the story immediately by something of an after-action/epilogue report, but again, it'll leave a sour spot in my mouth. I'm also having to juggle this with other irl things on my end.
>>
>>5052393

Alright, time for questions.

>How would you deal with humanitarian matters? There are a few groups that have needed our support and guidance, and if you were planning on filling in for us, I'd like to hear what your plans would be.

>Aside from my group, as well as West and Mara, are there any other 'power players' who still need to ascend the Cord? Anybody who you would consider to be a threat?

>Do you think we're strong enough to challenge the Cord now, or do you think we need to grow stronger? (If Paloma answers with the latter) Do you have any suggestions for this? Powerful amalgams in the area, relics to find, or other means of becoming stronger more quickly?

>Why do you want to help us? I appreciate any offers of support, and with the situation as it is, we need all the help we can get, but with all due respect, we met a short time ago. We've had a lot of offers like this in the Crucible, and a few of them have been too good to be true.
>>
>>5052406
Can we also focus on recruiting Behemoth and Leviathan?
>>
>>5052404
>Well shit. We're gonna need to hunt down Leviathan and Behemoth and convince them to help finish the Crucible and rally them under a single banner if we are to have the best chance of making it through the no-man's land.

Agreed. We need nothing but the best, and those would be two big aces to have up our sleeve.

>This feels like we're getting down to the wire on the global doom timer.

Yup. Worst case scenario, enough daughters go up the Cord to feed West, who takes down Mara before finishing off Mother. Game Over, everybody dies - except the one person who deserves the victory least of all.
>>
>>5052393
vote;
>Take a moment to consider her words, before continuing.
>"Any help is always appreciated, and im not against the basic idea. But what exactly do you actually mean by all that?"
>"We're not going to simply ignore problems infront of us- sure, we already try to fix what we can and leave longterm problems to locals, but we wouldn't of gotten as far as we have if we didn't help those we come across, nor would our name mean so much if we didn't, nor tried to push any problems we run across onto our 'organization'."
>"Nor do I assume you're trying to necessarily ask that of us, per say. so are you asking just for our trust and our blessing?"
>"The first ive yet to see a reason not to give, but the second isnt so simple. I mean no disrespect, but the second is something that you need more than trust for."
>"I've never been one after or wanting an organization under my name or connected to me. I see the merits, but it feels like it diminishes to the point a bit. So, to ask me to give a blessing to say you're working in my name and to 'hand over cases' to regularly is a pretty big ask in multiple ways, one that i'll need to hear more of a plan about aswell as maybe see some proof about, over just trusting you have good intentions for doing."

may need some work, but i think it gets my point across at least.
>>
>>5052407
Yup, having those two on our side would help our chances of success tremendously.
>>
>>5052393
>>Write-In
>"What exactly are you offering? Safe haven, rescue teams, diplomatic negotiations? It's hard to say what problems we'll run into, we'd need a pretty diverse set of responses."
>"Also, I know you plan to move the Fortress to safer grounds. How does that impact your offer?"

>>5052404
Yeah. We should bring that up, that we believe we can negotiate with/recruit the Apocalypse Amalgams, and that such a detour would be part of the process of finishing the Crucible.
>>
>>5052397
Hey bhop. this may seem spoiler-y to ask, but are we faffing about too much and in terms of running down the Doom Timer? Or is there enough time to iron out time to help get our ducks in a row and prep everything for the final push with enough time to spare?

Because it seems to me that it's gonna be clear that the Disassociated Rocket Launch is to coincide with the No-Man's Land expanding too far for even safe passage.
>>
>>5052407
I mean we can but i dont think thats applicable to the moment.

>>5052406
>>5052411
i just realized i forgot it in my own vote, but my slight issue is some of these questions feel way too close to us already agreeing. i'd prefer to save some of that until after we actually ask her a bit more in depth about what she really even means or wants to do here. a big part of that too is because this feels a bit too close to the cult scenario, even if its not her intention or exactly the same.
sure, the whole worship thing was a very big deal, but we weren't exactly stoked in having an 'organization' in our name in the first place cult or no cult, which this sounds like what Paloma wants to form.
>>
>>5052404
>>5052416
good question, as it feels like the wanted timeline given before by BHOP was much roomy-er than us already being at the second-to-last settlement from the cord after just passing over a mountain and seeing one city and swamp

though that said, there could be plenty between this and that settlement and this is only talking about a straight line scenario, so he may of bee talking sideways and circling around it.
>>
>>5052417
>i just realized i forgot it in my own vote, but my slight issue is some of these questions feel way too close to us already agreeing. i'd prefer to save some of that until after we actually ask her a bit more in depth about what she really even means or wants to do here. a big part of that too is because this feels a bit too close to the cult scenario, even if its not her intention or exactly the same.

They're just us getting down to brass tacks immediately and not prefacing our questions with all these doubts we're casting on her. We don't need to start with moral philosophizing, let's just ask her what she plans to do and why she wants to do it. Straightforward and simple.
>>
>>5052393
Supporting >>5052409

good balance with us keeping our distance to try and find out more about her motives and intentions without sounding like we agree to it.

>>5052404
That probably just got put up a couple of notches minimum.

>>5052397
also not sure if i will be able to get out Journeys till then.... i just feel kind of stuck right now in my writing.

Though i am glad that your day got less filled
>>
>>5052423
And thats not what im trying to do really either, im just asking her while also making sure she understands there are limits to what we would agree to do or want.
on the opposite, id very much say many of the questions being asked dont fit that either. if thats what you want, then all we should be asking is

>"What exactly are you offering? Safe haven, rescue teams, diplomatic negotiations? It's hard to say what problems we'll run into, we'd need a pretty diverse set of responses."
which sounds way too much like we're on board just wondering what exactly she plans to do

or
>How would you deal with humanitarian matters? There are a few groups that have needed our support and guidance, and if you were planning on filling in for us, I'd like to hear what your plans would be.
which sounds a bit better but still feels like its still agreeing to push aside short-term help we can offer.
>>
>>5052406
>>5052393
Throwing my support behind this one.

>>5052417
Because ultimately their actions and plans are utilitarian and humanitarian in terms of scope: Relocate the settlement, gather other survivors, aid Shu by taking on part of the burden that she has to bear by managing PR so that Shu can focus on saving the world. So we can not worry as much about getting sidequest delayed. Either that or Bhop has deterimined that by pushing the timeline forward and through the quest mechanics rework, we're at a point that he deems "just powerful enough" to begin the march onto the Cord behind the QM sheet. Of course we can delay and recruit the Apocalypse amalgams to make the journey easier, but that will have a cost.
>>
>>5052427
some of that is still assumptions and OOC knowledge, which makes me like asking those questions even less.
on top of that, we're not trying to discourage anyone from being kind or helping people. but that is very very different than supporting an organization with our name attached to it, especially when said organizations point is to specifically somewhat 'replace' us to some degree.
>>
>>5052426
I'm just asking what she's offering and stating that our needs are varied. There's no agreement in that, it's just establishing context.

>>5052430
And that's great, we can talk about that after we have some basic knowledge of what she's offering and wants. You know, she hasn't even actually said she wants her organization to be like "The Defiant's Auxiliaries" or anything like that. She's just stated a simple proposition that she helps us out so we can focus on the big problem. Let's hear her plan before we start poking holes in it on the grounds of not wanting others speaking for us.
>>
>>5052393
amending my vote >>5052427 to

>”Are you saying you want to deal with the cult, too?”

>”I hear you want to move the Ikea...where does that fit into your plan?”

>"How do you intend to keep the public busy and focused on humanitarian efforts?"

Feeling pressed for time right now. This may be my last vote for the day regardless even if I switch to mobile during lunch time.
>>
>>5052432
and as i said here >>5052426
i still disagree with the wording greatly as i disagree thats how you're coming off.

and my point isnt if she actually wants an 'organization', its more of the question of how she plans to do something like this in the first place without doing something we're already kinda against.

I also disagree the other question is really entirely relevant to the point at the moment.
>>
>>5052434
im actually wondering where the cult questions even coming from. it feels out of place as an option to really give us honestly, so im kinda not for it. like, i get the idea of organizing with them but it feels out of place due to the very reason we had a whole thing with them kinda specifically about telling them to just do things as they see fit over trying to do things for us or in our name and all that.
>>
>>5052437
i think it is the cult of personality we have kinde lowkey produced by being nice people and still powerful.
>>
>>5052438
thats... possibly a good point. if thats the case, very rare moment where BHOP could've worded it better.
that said, we have(had?) an actual cult, so theres good reasons my mind jumped to them first if something else was meant.
>>
>>5052437
remember when we first tried to preach to the cult? Even though we told them not to do basic hero worship on us, they're still a group of daughters willing to flock together, support us, and to commit actions in our name.

In a sense, we did a monty python skit of "I'm not the messiah", and the group just said "Shu's the Messiah!"
>>
>>5052439
well... the actual cult that has cropped up is an offshoot of our cult of personality that we project just by being us and how we did things.

To be honest i did not really think of the whole cult thing as just a single settlement. More like it has probably spread pretty far now to many corners of the globe.
>>
>>5052438
>>5052439
tis still a cult by origin and function. They have an idol to worship on a pedestal and we are their idol. And even if we did tell them to take us off the pedestal, they'd still worship us regardless for our personality and actions.
>>
>>5052440
hah, nice mental image there, thanks.
though i do think we got through to them a bit better than that. still see your point a bit though.

>>5052442
i mean maybe but if you remember we literally had a whole interaction with a literal cult that our good friends alien and alien doggo; the preacher duo accidentally made.
So, what i was trying to say is Bhops option there made me think of them first, but i was agreeing its possible(though unconfirmed) he may of meant what you mean, a more general issue of our cult of personality.
>>
>>5052393
Supporting >>5052409
>>
>>5052393
Changing my vote >>5052411 to support >5052406
>>
>>5052463
You seem to have misquoted the second post there.
>>
>>5052475
Blerg. So I did.

>>5052393
Changing my vote >>5052411 to support >>5052406
>>
>>5052424
>>5052420
>>5052417
>>5052416
(An excellent question regarding the timeline.)

(Essentially what is happening is that the rush for the Cord doesn't mean that time is running short; rather that the difficulty of the surrounding area is spiking dramatically. Now, that would be particularly troublesome for anyone actually attempting to enter the Cord in the intended fashion - note that aside from West and Mara, there was only a single other light that tried and failed to ascend. The chaos surrounding the area is making it that much harder for even worthy aspirants to even approach the Cord, much less climb it.)

(In short, it is not a matter of time, but instead a problem that is becoming much, much more resistant to mere brute force and linear thinking. No need to stress too much, particularly when it comes to finishing your own works- both West and Mara's 'win conditions' hinge on you, and you're in control.)

(Let me know if you have any other questions, and I'll be happy to address them.)

>>5052446
>>5052443
>>5052442
>>5052440
>>5052439
>>5052438
>>5052437
(I agree,I could've worded that better but I was running short on space. What I wrote was referring specifically to the cult you spoke with, not the general cult of personality that you've accumulated. Thank you for asking for clarification, and my apologies for any confusion.)
>>
>>5052488
huh, well thanks for the clarification(on both).

funnily enough that almost sounds like we need to spend more time, not less, trying to reach the cord. not necessarily to gain power, but to think the whole 'trying to go through a warzone' thing through.

actually BHOP, if its not too spoilery, how much trouble did people give West and Mara on their approach to the Cord?
>>
>>5052493
(Their march to the Cord was a one-sided slaughter.)

(And yes, the problem of even approaching the Cord is a problem that is meant to be very open-ended.)
>>
File: the_Primogenitor.jpg (373 KB, 1363x1000)
373 KB
373 KB JPG
>>5052493
my thinking is that Mara was probably not botherd due to her powers of chance manipulation.

And west..... i would assume she relished the chance and created a couple more new horrors ala Fabius Bile. A man so violently insane and obsessed with creating the perfect human form that he impressed beings that literally feed on pain and create the most vile things to satisfy this desire.

So i would say that she probably wasn't bothered after her first victims were found.
>>
>>5052488
Ah. That's good to hear, in a way. More difficulty, but still time. And hey, more difficulty just means more dramatic fights to get into and puzzles to solve, should be fun.

>both West and Mara's 'win conditions' hinge on you, and you're in control
I still find it kind of hilarious that West is so fixated on us that she's not going to make a push for the top until she's eaten us. We really got under her skin, huh? She's not used to people she had dismissed as unimportant managing to hurt her.

>>5052499
Yeah, that makes sense. So until we get into, collectively, one-sided slaughter levels of power, we're not ready.
>>
>>5052499
i expected plenty of fools who wanted to stop West probably tried and failed, but even before she was associated with us it seemed like Mara had a rep as not all that terrible a person, so combine that with her clear power i was curious if people left her alone. guess theres still if nothing else plenty of self serving people still out there though.

>>5052510
well thats if we want to try and blunt force our way through. i mean, we will to some degree maybe regardless, but I doubt our only option is gonna be one so... blunt.

as for West, i think you're somewhat right, but i also think its just she simply knows that she needs a power boost to beat Mara, but she might not know 'exactly' how much of one, so she has to decide on some indicator. so ,there us, who if she beats wont only just be a good meal, but will be a demoralization blow to Mara too. perfect time to strike, regardless of her opinion on us.
>>
>>5052514
>well thats if we want to try and blunt force our way through. i mean, we will to some degree maybe regardless, but I doubt our only option is gonna be one so... blunt.
Sorry, I wasn't clear. I actually meant that in reference to West and Mara being at the top of the Cord. We can probably get through to the Cord without every conflict ending in blood, but we will have to fight West at a minimum and possibly Mara. "One-sided slaughter against everyone fought along the way to the Cord" is the level of power we need to match them. Well, our improved action economy of having multiple party members means we might not need quite that level, but we need to be close.

>as for West, i think you're somewhat right, but i also think its just she simply knows that she needs a power boost to beat Mara, but she might not know 'exactly' how much of one, so she has to decide on some indicator. so ,there us, who if she beats wont only just be a good meal, but will be a demoralization blow to Mara too. perfect time to strike, regardless of her opinion on us.
True. Demoralizing Mara would be a good non-obsessed reason to kill us. But she's already planning on getting plenty of power ups from eating every other Cord-climber. She shouldn't need us, we'd be a nice desert but she'll have other courses. Unless she's assuming that nobody but us could make it through the chaos to get to her, but that is in itself a bit of obsession with us.
>>
>>5052406
>>5052409

(Also, as a quick aside; the two votes above are, unless I'm missing a key vote somewhere, currently tied. If the tie persists, would the authors and voters be alright with merging them?)
>>
>>5052529
ah yeah true, though do we get levels while in the Cord? cant remember.
a funny alternative would just be to hack the cord on the level below West. we know its better the higher up we go, but i dont think it was ever stated to be impossible on lower levels.

as for the West obsession? like i said i do technically agree with you, im just more putting forth her excuse/alternatives for the sake of it. if anyone could hide how much ahead of West they are, making her not feel like she can rely on just 'X' number of more snacks, it would probably be Mara.
>>
>>5052533
while i am just a voter i would be okay with merging them. Though a certain Level of distance should be maintained for now until we have a clearer picture.
>>
>>5052533
i think one technically has two votes with a third persons similar but not actually the same, while the other has three.

i guess im fine with the Ikean moving question if it can fit in with how she may respond, but im personally still sorta iffy on the wording and some ideas in the other one myself otherwise.
>>
>>5052533
I'd prefer to start by asking about the details of their plan and then hammering out details of trust and how we assign what roles to who. That's why I voted for the first one. But if you think you can weave them together so they get discussed in the same update, then sure, I'm game.
>>
>>5052533
I'd be more than happy with merging them together, thank you for asking, BHOP.
>>
File: Her Reason.jpg (297 KB, 1305x1865)
297 KB
297 KB JPG
>>5052393

“How would you deal with humanitarian matters?” You counter, voice the first of many questions on your mind. “There are a few groups that have needed our support and guidance, and if you were planning on filling in for us, I'd like to hear what your plans would be.”

“I’ve been in the process of forging connections with other settlements across the Fleshscape to create a unified network of like-minded Daughters who can lend their support to whatever you deem necessary. Shelter, rescue, defense—we’re prepared to offer the type of aid you deem appropriate to the situation at hand. If we here at the fortress cannot capably provide it, then we can bring in teams and experts that we trust to handle it, along with the resources that will allow you to personally vet and sign off on those doing the job.”

"Speaking hypothetically, we wouldn’t simply ignore problems in front of us.” You counter, your tone non-committal as you try to dig past buzzwords and the assurances she’s woven into her pitch. “Sure, we already try to fix what we can and leave long-term problems to locals, but we wouldn't of gotten as far as we have if we didn't help those we come across, nor would our name mean so much if we didn't, nor tried to push any problems we run across onto our 'organization'."

“Of course; it’s through your personal touch that you’ve gotten to where you are. Please know we would only take action at your request—we are a supplement, not a full-blown replacement. The more of an impact you have, the greater the busywork as you try to maintain what you’ve affected…I’m proposing that we help you address that busywork with our network of resources, at your case-by-case discretion.”

“I see. Now, you mentioned ‘shelter’, a moment ago…I understand you intend to move the Ikea?”

“I do. We’ve just resumed talks with Magnus and the Arcadian council, thanks to your work there.” Paloma replies with a smile. “Should his methods prove untenable or too time-consuming to undertake, you’ve also just proven to me that anomalous relic interaction could be a viable alternative. I have an expert on the way that should be able to give us a greater insight as to what Jackie’s blade is capable of.”

Jackie just nods as you glance her way, and while you’re curious as to who Paloma plans to bring in, you have a more pressing query at the ready.

“Aside from my group, as well as West and Mara, are there any other 'power players' who still need to ascend the Cord? Anybody who you would consider to be a threat?

“Most of them have either already perished around the Cord or are smart enough to not throw themselves into a madhouse.” She answers, a look of disgust on her plump features. “The only other person on Mara and West’s level is already aligned with us, and has no interest in ascending the Cord.”

(Continued)
>>
>>5052649

“Who the hell’s that?” Rath demands, shifting in her seat at the prospect of one that could rival those two giants.

“I think you know her as ‘A’.” Your host replies with a grin, a half-second before her expression falters. “Well…I say ‘allied’, but she really does whatever she pleases. She is completely stable, however, and could be counted on if her assistance was needed.”

“Continuing the discussion of power, do you think we're strong enough to challenge the Cord as we are now?” You forward, and you watch as Paloma formulates a tactful answer.

“It would be incredibly difficult in your current state.” She reluctantly admits.

“Do you have any suggestions for us to close the gap, then? Powerful amalgams, Relics, or other means of becoming stronger more quickly?”

“In terms of Amalgams and Relics, I have an action list of both that I’ll be handing over to you after this meeting.” She informs you, adding after a moment’s hesitation; “Regardless of your decision here, of course.”

And now, the one question that’s been playing on your mind this entire time…

“Why do you want to help us?”

Em cocks an eyebrow, while Paloma fixes you with a soft smile as you continue your line of inquiry. “Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate any offers of support. With the situation as it is, we need all the help we can get…but with all due respect, we met a short time ago. We've had a lot of offers like this in the Crucible, and a few of them have been too good to be true.”

“Understandable.” She admits with a tilt of her head.

"I've never been one after or wanting an organization under my name or connected to me.” You admit, leaning back in your chair as you study the girl and her proposition, both. “I see the merits, but it feels like it diminishes to the point a bit. You’re asking for our trust and our blessing, both. Trust? I don’t see a reason to not give it to you, but as for our family’s blessing? That’s a pretty big ask in multiple ways, and one that demands something more substantial than just blind trust in your own good intentions."

“Of course.” She concedes, clearly expecting some level of reasonable reservation from you. “This entire plan was conceived by me, so I would be more than willing to submit to evaluation via Neuromancer, Phantasmal, or Skintalker methods to put you at ease. But if I may…I’ll be the first to admit that my intentions are not noble, Shu.”

“The Crucible took the one I love from me, and I intend to get them back.” She explains, placing her palms flat on the table as she stares you down. “Your post-Crucible plan all but ensures that will happen. So whatever you need to ask or do to let me help you finish this thing, then name it…”

Her deep brown eyes pierce into yours, as immovable and inviolable as stone.

“…because there’s nothing I won’t do to make that happen.”

>>Name it (Write-In).

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, with posting to resume in three.)
>>
>>5052652
Well, the way she's phrasing it as a supplement does incline me towards agreeing more. That's just having some allies that we can call on for help, no different from the Midnight Crew or Barbers or Laoc. The relationship is a bit less well-tested than those, though, that's the crux of it. So, let's think of a way to establish that mutual trust. I don't want to probe too deeply, maybe just use Skintalking and Neuromancy as a lie detector while we ask her some questions? Stuff like "have you ever murdered people, what circumstances can you see yourself murdering people in, do you associate with anyone who has murdered, would you ever betray someone for power, what about betraying if you think we're not getting the job done, do you anyone who would betray if we don't get the job done", etc.
>>
>>5052666
not sure if im for 20 questions, but if we do, we need to be careful what we ask.
she doesn't seem like shes here to do bad, but if shes being honest with us she also isnt the type to ruin her chances here most likely.
its silly, but unless we're only talking pre-crucible 'murder' for instance is specifically illegal killings. well, the Crucible has no laws now technically, so even if shes stabbed whole teams in the back she could technically answer 'no' to that.

off the specific topic of questions, honestly? I kinda want to just give her a passive "lets let time be the test." and get a look around the place. what better way than even 20 questions than seeing and talking to the people she is around and may of gotten help from her or by being here? it kills three birds with one stone. time to think on things more, a legitimate way to look into how well she operates and helps people, and gets us the tour we already probably any anyhow.
>>
>>5052676
It doesn't have to be those specific questions, I was just giving examples. But I do like your idea of rejecting a quick and easy solution of psychic investigation and just working to build trust naturally. It's how we did it with all our other allies, and it's not like they weren't in positions to potentially harm us in the process, if they decided to betray us. And it does feel like a better way to start a working relationship, if we're not treating her like an enemy to be figured out but just someone to meet and get to know.
>>
>>5052681
well i was just using that as an example due to what you used as an example, heh.


>>5052652
vote;
>Decline to force her through any unfair or rigorous tests. you're not saying no, only you want more time to mesh out your thoughts on the idea, and regardless want to let her actions speak for themselves, let the trust she wants here build naturally like it did with everyone else.
>With that, take the simple route, an easy start. ask for that tour you missed out on.
>>
>>5052652
Yeah, supporting >>5052684. I was trying to write something out for actual dialogue, but it felt hokey. I'll trust BHOP to put it to words.

Also, a thought: Did we ever apologize to Francine for treating her like an enemy to interrogate, when we first met? I mean, it was justified, entirely. The last West Proxy we had met vivisected children. But still, a little rude treatment for someone we now see as a friend.
>>
>>5052692
not sure but im pretty sure she understands the difference in circumstance and such.
>>
>>5052694
Oh, sure. I doubt she's carrying a grudge. I'm just wondering if we ever did.
>>
>>5052652
Supporting >>5052684
>>
File: Tumblr_l_234145842323449.jpg (626 KB, 1539x2160)
626 KB
626 KB JPG
>>5052652

“...No.”

For a single, fleeting moment...stone falters.

“No?” Paloma echoes with a quizzical tilt of her head.

“No games. There will be no tests, no trials or anything like that. That’s not me, and that’s not my family.” You clarify, rising from your seat and sitting Amara down on the throne-like chair. “I’m not in the business of giving people the third degree.”

“She leaves that to me. I give ‘em the fourth.” Rath helpfully adds, and Em barks out a laugh that echoes off the stark boardroom walls.

“Regarding your offer...I want some time to mull it over, and give it the consideration it’s due. Amenable?” You declare, spreading your hands as Paloma gives a small sigh of relief.

“Take as much time as you need.”

“You know, I was talking about trust, earlier. Thinking on it now, I realize that it was only with time and patience that my family came together. It was only with actions and conversation that I became friends with the Midnight Crew here...jury’s still out on if that was a good idea or not.” You add with a wink at Jackie, who flips you a good-natured bird as her trademark razorblade grin slashes across her lips.

“That said...I hear we almost missed a grand tour?”

It’s as though you’ve flipped a switch. Paloma’s eyes go wide and she’s practically tripping over herself, excitedly leading the way through the double doors and back out into the hallway you used to enter the dungeon of a boardroom. Em and the Midnight Crew bring up the rear as ascend the starwell once more, stopping on the floor just below the living quarters and in front of a simple door you passed without thought. The Skintalker places her index finger on the handle-less lock and whispers a few short syllables...there’s a series of clicks before she swings the door open, casting her arms wide as your eyes adjust to the sudden influx of light and sound.

Stumbling out into open air, your perceptions quickly adapt to reveal a cavernous, five-tiered market, the hollow space at the center reminding you of a colossal mall and strung with innumerable strands of twinkling lights. You breathe in, and the smells that fill your mind are beyond description. They’re...it’s…

“Are those burgers and motherfucking fries?” Rath growls, citrine eyes like saucers. "And steak? COOKED steak?!"

“Ramen. Holy shit, I smell ramen.” Gina giggles with delight as she leans over the railing to try and determine the source of the multitude of smells. Paloma, for her part, kneads her hands together excitedly as she offers an explanation.

(Continued)
>>
>>5052767

“Okay okay, so here’s the basic layout—shops, kitsch, and novelty stuff is mostly on the first floor, while practically all of the second is devoted to food constructs. It won’t keep the hunger at bay, but I’ve found some Gluttonous who’ve dual-classed with Flesh Artisan and Neuromancy to pluck memories of tastes and smells from patrons and re-create them, made to order!”

“Like Lady Julia's tea.” Dorian mutters approvingly, a wistful smile playing on his lips.

“Oh, speaking of tea, the third and fourth floors have been converted into a library, and we serve tea, coffee, beer, and whatever else we’ve been able to salvage or reconstruct! Ah, it’s so cozy!”

“Tell ‘em about the-” Em begins before Paloma’s eyes go even wider—something you didn’t even think was possible, but here you are.

“The Web! We’ve been able to figure out a way to access the Skinternet with Relics, so anyone can use it for free, even if they’re not a Skintalker!”

“Right above us is the sixth floor, which are more permanent living quarters.” Em interjects, gesturing to the suite of training equipment and rings that make up the fifth level of the fortress, and the one you currently occupy. “We’re on the fifth floor right now, which is devoted to security and combat training, plus it’s where our Forges are. Easy access to the rest of the place, defensible, and good for anyone who needs to let off some steam or get their hands dirty.”

“Noted.” Jackie hums, just before Paloma looses a contented sigh.

“I’ve always loved spaces like this. Things meant for one thing, used for another. Purpose, repurposed.” She grins, staring down at her handiwork for a moment before she turns to face you. “It’s what humanity’s done with the Crucible, really; taken this hell and carved out little heavens, where we can. There’s beauty to be found here, yet.”

An impressive establishment, you have to admit as you scan the various levels, each and everyone one teeming with activity. The entire place feels like it could be some kind of mall from the world that was. Just people spending time, spending money, and going about their daily lives. There’s a pang of something you can’t quite place, a feeling that firms up in your chest as you look at the smiling faces below...one that’s replaced by wry amusement as a familiar figure shakily approaches from the opposite end of the causeway before you.

“Ah! Tinker Tailor, I presume?” Paloma says, striding forward to meet the unnerving Flesh Artisan.

“Iamneithersoldiernorspy,basedes.” The wiry figure replies, a twitchy up-down motion of her gasmask serving as a nod of greeting. “IunderstandyouhadaRelicformetoinspect?”

“Yes, but first, I’d like you to meet-” She begins, though she cut off by Tailor’s sudden bow to you.

(Continued)
>>
>>5052771

“TheDefiantHunterofGodsandIhavemet.YoukeepgoodcompanyPaloma.” The artisan swiftly comments, and you can see your own reflection in the lenses of her inscrutable mask.

“It’s good to see you in person.” You say with a nod of your own at the enigmatic tinkerer...and though you can’t see her expression, you know that you and she share the same thought.

There’s a conversation you’re due.

“I was just giving Shu and her family the grand tour, would you like to join us?” Your host offers kindly, but Tailor shakes her head with nausea-inducing speed.

“Alreadysaweverythingsixtimes.AveryniceplaceIlikeitalotsoifyouarebusyatthemomentmayIseeyourForgesplease?”

“...I don’t see why not.” Em relents after exchanging a quick glance with her friend, escorting the Artisan to the forgerooms and leaving Paloma to attend to you and yours.

“So!” Your host suddenly says with a clap of her hands. “I’d love to show it off in more detail! Where would you like to start?”

>>The First Floor, with its trinkets and baubles.

>>The Second Floor, with its food and drink, fueled by nostalgia.

>>The Third Floor and Forth Floors, filled with books and unfettered access to the Skinternet.

>>The Fifth Floor, with Relics and Forges, and maybe a chance to get Em’s perspective on things.

>>The Sixth Floor, to retire for a while to discuss recent events with your family.


>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume tomorrow morning at 10AM, Eastern time. Thank you all for your patience, participation, and enthusiasm, and I wish you a good and restful evening.)
>>
>>5052771
>“Like Lady Julia's tea.” Dorian mutters approvingly, a wistful smile playing on his lips.
Finally, someone admits that Julia made her tea out of herself. We all knew it, but it's nice to have it out there.

>>5052772
>“It’s good to see you in person.” You say with a nod of your own at the enigmatic tinkerer...and though you can’t see her expression, you know that you and she share the same thought.
>There’s a conversation you’re due.
Indeed.

>>The First Floor, with its trinkets and baubles.
Let's start low and work our way up. And I want to see what people are willing to buy in this post-apocalyptic meat world. Given the Fortress' placement, most of the people passing through here would have been Cord-seekers. What did they want or leave behind them?
>>
>>5052784
Seconded. Start from the bottom, go up one floor at a time. Let's get the grand tour of the place.
>>
>>5052772
vote;
>Start with the Fifth Floor, as you're already here afterall.
>Then, The First Floor, with its trinkets and baubles.

>>5052774
and to you too Bhop.
though not sure how restful ill be for a bit, considering i just handed my car over to my brother to borrow for a bit because he just wrecked his.... im sure it'll be fine, worse case he owes me a car, i guess.
>>
File: 1516068625014.png (153 KB, 419x449)
153 KB
153 KB PNG
>>5052772
Not a vote, but...
>>>The First Floor, with its trinkets and baubles.
Are they (literally) paid for in blood, I wonder?
>>
Hmmm... Don't we have an augment that can help with the hunger? The one we got from the ant queen?

Maybe we can find a way to share that with others here? They would probably be able to put it to good use here after all.
>>
>>5052981
It should be tradeable on a Sparagmos Engine.... not sure if we can replicate the Augment on an Engine that is not completely unlocked like the one in the Lair.

Though giving it to Nerada might just allow her to feed pretty much the entire planet what with her having no Swarm Cap while taking up not more space than a couple of Warehouses.
>>
>>5052990
but is it really that ethical? Back during our foray in the soul realm, we saw that Nerada's true wish is to be a normal little girl. Why would we even give her that augment and have her be used as a portable living food source for the human populace like some crass heartless woman manipulating people for her own and other's gain? All Nerada wants is to be a normal little girl is that not hard to ask and respect?
>>
>>5053032
I do not want to give it to her. I was just pointing out who would be the most suited for it due to powers if we can not replicate the Augment. Though nearly, any swarm type Hive Mistress would be suitable for a time at least.

Is it ethical? Without her consenting out of trust? Absolutely not.

Her powers would just be the most suited from a coldly analytical point.
>>
>>5053037
Then why don't we just make a trade instead of forcing it on her? Give her a copy of the augment, and we get a copy of the hive mistress halo, and that way we can both do the same thing in terms of actual hunger reducing food.

Also, getting to surprise West with a halo outta nowhere would be sweet.
>>
>>5053032
Alternate proposal, then, that should actually be more effective: Having a single point of distribution for constructs is inherently inefficient. What would be best would be if people could raise their own. Constructs that can make more constructs, so you can just be given one and it grows into an entire herd. What construct do we know that can do that? The Joyous Many. Have Amara give Shu a level of Joyous Many, then Shu hybridizes it with a Hive Mistress skill (probably Murderous Flock, since she doesn't really use that). That way communities could farm crow-people, and sustain themselves that way. If that's too weird for people, we could even throw in Violens Tetrastigma to the hybrid to make everything flower mutants and let people pretend they're just plants. Bam, there's a crop that people can cultivate the world over, now.

Admittedly, it would take a bunch of levels. Two for Amara and Francine to have spare levels of Joyous and Violens to give up, then six to raise all the components to level three for the hybrid point. But those eight levels could potentially feed the entire world. I think it's a worthwhile experiment. And wouldn't it be funny to, after denouncing Mara's methods as monstrous, solve one of the problems she was working on without any atrocities? "Oh, hey, remember how you were looking for an infinite regenerator to endless cannibalize? That plan was dumb, I just invented agriculture instead. You're welcome."
>>
>>5053136
>>5053115
>>5053037

Alternatively, you could simply distribute that augment to people around the world. Let people experiment and grow their own food instead of having to spend time and effort to personally tinker with the augment while juggling our responsibilities to stop the Crucible cycle.
>>
(Updating momentarily, everyone.)
>>
>>5053137
I don't think we can copy augments. I remember BHOP saying that that was out of our current capabilities, but that there was a way to unlock it. I might be misremembering, but I'm pretty sure that's the reason we haven't already spread Thousand's Matron everywhere.
>>
>>5053037
>>5053115
>>5053137
not gonna jump into the argument too hard but i do also remember we cannot copy augments/have enough restrictions on it to make it kinda kill the idea (at the moment at least) regardless of any other moral or logical arguments tied to it.
>>
File: Shining Tears.jpg (232 KB, 1280x1248)
232 KB
232 KB JPG
>>5052772

“Let’s start from the bottom.” You decide, casting another glance down the multi-tiered structure as Amara hauls herself up on the railing next to you. “I’d like to experience everything the way a new arrival would.”

Your answer thrills your host, who excitedly leads your family downstairs…though not before the Jackie says that she’ll catch up with you later, leaving with her Crew for parts unknown. You try not to linger on Jackie as Paloma throws her arms wide to showcase the rows of extravagant stalls on the main level.

“I’m not seeing any obvious Relics.” Rath observes, glancing around at the various wares being peddled. “What do people buy and sell here, exactly?”

“Well, since most everybody that passes through here are either headed to the Cord or here out of curiosity, a lot of the vendors trade their wares for things from the world that was.” Paloma explains, leading you past the leftmost row as the various shopkeepers greet her with a smile. “As for what they’re offering? Well, it’s a little bit of everything. Books, baubles…anything, really. There’s a market for anything as long as it can spark a little joy.”

A shimmer catches your eye, like light cast through molded glass. Given pause, you approach a stall that’s laden with what appears to be home-made jewelry, though the gemstones held by wire and bone aren’t like any you’ve ever seen. Their depth of color strikes you as something keenly unnatural, sculpted to be as eye-catching as possible…and you’ve found yourself caught, as the owner nervoudly hops up from behind the counter.

“Hello! W-welcome to Accessories by Aimee!” She stammers, trying to put on her best retail face, but her ill-fitting visage falters when she sees Paloma at your side. “Ma’am! Forgive me, is this a friend of yours?”

“Friend-in-progress.” Your host laughs lightly as she lances about the trinkets on offer. “Ah, your newest pieces are so pretty! The level of color and detail is amazing!”

“Oh, th-thank you Ma’am.” Aimee bashfully grins, turning her attention to you. “See anything you like? I can also make custom pieces, ready in just an hour or two!”

“These stones…you make them yourself?” You presume, and stall’s owner nods happily.

“I’m a Humoral Paladin, so I can make crystals with my fluids!” Aimee explains before promptly going beet-red. “Tears! I make them out of my tears! Happy tears make the best gemstones, so I just read a lot of sappy stuff! It’s not weird! I promise!”

She glances to Paloma before quietly adding. “…Is the offer still open for-“

“Me to help you work on your pitch? Of course.” Replies your host as you turn your attention to the jewels Aimee’s crafted.

>>Compliment the girl’s wares, and explore a little more.

>>Request a custom piece for (Choose one or more allies).

>>Make small talk with Aimee, if just to relax her nerves.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, with posting to resume in three.)
>>
>>5053148
>>>Make small talk with Aimee, if just to relax her nerves.
Oh good for her. I was wondering how she was doing, since A's sidestory. She might be able to give us a little idea of the place, she's been here for a bit now, and seems to have made something of herself.
>>
>>5053148
Oh good, I was wondering if we'd encounter her. How are you doing, Aimee? Been adjusting, since 'A' brought you here?

>>Make small talk with Aimee, if just to relax her nerves.
>>
>>5053148
vote;
>Make small talk with Aimee, if just to relax her nerves.
>Request a custom piece for...
>...yourself! you're allowed to do that, right?
>ask for the sappiest thing you can imagine, a necklace with a gemstone on it to represent each of your family members, and tell her she can take as much time as she needs to make it.
>>
File: Tumblr_l_337579927842236.jpg (414 KB, 2048x1155)
414 KB
414 KB JPG
>>5052961
>>
File: 93410286_p16_master1200.jpg (459 KB, 771x1200)
459 KB
459 KB JPG
>>5053162
oh that letter got me good. Well met!

>>5053157
Man, if only we found a friend with a blue-colored soul, then we'd have a rainbow necklace of soul gems! Wait...
>>
>>5053164
To be fair my mind still sees Dorian as a blue.
fits the 'gentleman' image better. plus theres no one else who really fits a blue color all that much, but we have a few who do or could fit reds aswell so its more unique.
>>
>>5053166
oh yeah. I forgot that Amara is two-toned with Blue and Brown respectively. So we do have an actual rainbow necklace!
>>
>>5053164
actually that would be a cute and hilarious moment.
we get the necklace and its all just colors we didn't expect at all.

>"oh? and this purple is for g-"
>"Yup! thats ones for Julia! was a bit hard to get her personality over the phone, but she sounded nice!"
>"..oh well, it was over the phone so i can understand. and this fiery red is for Ra-"
>"for Francine! yup! her passion for science really spoke to me!"
>"...i guess i see it. and the metallic grey is No-"
>"Amara! shes so stern in her love for her family, all i could imagine was a robot of love and justice!"
>"...its a lovely, well made necklace, thank you."
>>
>>5053169
Amara's very blue, actually. Blue hair, blue eye, blue dress...it's her color.

>>5053171
That would be pretty funny, yeah, seeing what colors other people associate with our party without taking into account their actual color schemes. Like, Shu probably gets white because of the messianic themes, right?

>"Amara! shes so stern in her love for her family, all i could imagine was a robot of love and justice!"
Amara: The Robot of Love and Justice is absolutely the name of the manga made of her life a couple generations from now. Or maybe it's just the name of one story arc where she's interacting with Dissociated. It definitely exists, though.
>>
>>5053173
Shu would be more rainbow colored given the brief glimpse description bhop gave us. Also, it's been bothering me for the longest time but what does Shu exactly look like as a normal girl? We do know she's pretty much a Doppelganger of Sam, and yet I can't remember enough to t have an accurate enough description of Shu/Sam pre-crucible corruption.
>>
>>5053177
well, Bhop leaves the characters look open to interpretation to a decent degree on purpose, but i imagine Sams pretty normal looking.
a long brown hairs, just above average looking girl. Caucasian, probably green or brown eyes(i actually cant remember if our own eye color has ever been said)(also also actually probably brown. green would conflict with the symbolism of Isabelle too much, assuming i just havent forgotten the color that is).
for some reason i imagine a small nose and not unhealthily so, but somewhat thin cheeks, implying Sam didn't starve herself but wasn't exactly the healthiest, even if only via stress.
>>
>>5053180
Just from your simple descriptors I somehow got Hakuno Kishinami from Fate/Extra in my mind because both Shu and Hakuno share the same sort of Quality: Plain, yet somehow instantly recognizable.
>>
>>5053177
Shu's appearance is deliberately unstated. I remember BHOP mentioning once that he meant to give her a defined appearance, but a computer error led to the post being deleted, and he decided to roll with it and leave it up to the audience's imagination. So the only known parts of Sam/Shu's human appearance are that she's tall, with long legs. Everything else: race, hair, build, facial shape, etc. is all up to your personal imagination. Personally, my mental image of Shu tends towards Latinx features. Long black hair, oval face shape, light golden-brown skin, body fairly thin but with tone on her from all the fighting.
>>
>>5053185
i mean thats not exactly it but not too far off. that might fit SHU, but the face is too nice to fit Sam. (also Nero is great.)

>>5053187
i cant imagine Sam as a Latina because she just doesn't have what it takes to be one. being from Texas and having gone to a very mixed school, for once i do actually feel thats something im quite familiar with. she would've been torn apart by her classmates for sure if nothing else.(though to be fair, i guess we dont actually know if that did or did not happen).
>>
>>5053189
Yeah, I'll agree that Sam feels pretty white-coded. I just have a disconnect between my mental image of Sam and Shu. Not sure why I see Shu as being Latinx. Might just be because of her one defined appearance feature being her long legs, and I once knew a Latinx girl with amazing legs. She was a runner, herself.

But yeah, if I'm being reasonable then Sam was probably white, meaning Shu is probably white. There's some potential for her to be mixed race, but even then I'd think she's probably white-passing, looking completely of European descent. And she probably comes from a Christian home, given that she didn't know what an Asura was. Well, okay, she could hypothetically be of any number of non-Asian religions, but she definitely doesn't feel Muslim and all the others are super minorities that would have been mentioned if she was part of them. Like what, you're going to tell me that Sam was Yezidi? No way.
>>
>>5053192
well-
actually, i was gonna mention how Shus been out in the sun alot, so may of gotten a tan but... is that the case? light getting through the membrane is different than UV rays getting through, and considering its skin covering the earth it might actually be absorbing most if not all the good stuff from the solar rays hitting it. despite the heat and light, its actually quite possible everyone in the crucible would be suffering D3 deficiencies and be pale as hell if they were normal humans.
or well... maybe the pale part might still be applicable? really hard to tell just how much the Crucible flesh doe and doesn't do at times.
>>
>>5053196
Wasn't there something about Ozmas being able to make aesthetic changes to the Crucible without using up her authority, and so the simulated sunlight is actually meant to mimic the Hexane homeworld? In that case I'd imagine a lot of UV gets through, with Hexania (or whatever it as called) having two suns and therefore getting a lot of solar radiation. So who knows, maybe everyone's gotten killer tans? Together with all the muscle they're putting on fighting for their lives, everyone's going to come out of the Crucible looking in great shape aside from the freakish mutations.
>>
>>5053200
yeah thats a fair point, but we also dont know what she meant by that. it may just look or feel like it, over being an actual sun. kinda forgot about the artificial sun honestly.
also does that mean an artificial sun isnt standard, and it should actually be perpetual low light from just what little may naturally get through the membrane? man, that would've changed the mood a-fucking-lot.
>>
>>5053203
I figure there's either lighting by default and the Mother just gets to change the settings, or there isn't a default lighting system but most Mothers put one up anyway just to make things simpler.
>>
File: Making the World Anew.png (1.55 MB, 1300x942)
1.55 MB
1.55 MB PNG
>>5053148

“How do you like it here, Aimee?” You ask idly, hoping to take the girl’s mind off her nerves and get a better feel for the Ikean Fortress at the same time.

“It’s…it’s as close to the old world as I think we can get.” She says, looking past you to the other merchants and clientele, the ebb and flow of idle commerce. “There’s a lot of people that probably couldn’t make it out in the Crucible, and it’s a miracle there’s a place for us, here. Miss Palo—or rather, Em—keep any troublemakers in line, but even that doesn’t come up too often. There’s kind of an understanding here, y’know?”

“Sort of a ‘the world’s gone to hell, so don’t be a dick’ vibe, then?” You offer, and Aimee snorts with laughter. “So, about your custom work…up for a challenge?”

“Oh! Of course, always!” She answers, pleasantly surprised as she scrambles beneath the counter, reappearing with a worn notepad and a pen that resembles a gnarled finger. “Do you have a general idea of the piece? I can sketch it out!”

“Well, it’s kind of cheesy, but…” You begin, glancing over your shoulder as Amara teeters atop November’s shoulders, while Gina and Francine converse with bookseller on the opposite side of the alleyway. “…I’d like a necklace, with a gemstone representing each member of my family. Something light, but that puts them all front and center.”

You hesitate, worried at how gaudy that might look before adding; “Think it’s too much?”

“N-not at all! I think it’s incredibly sweet! It might take a while, is that-?”

“Take as much time as you need.” You assure her, a bit embarrassed by your own request. “I know it’s a bit extravagant, but…I think I’d really like it.”

“You’ll love it! You won’t be disappointed, I guarantee it!” Aimee assures you, seemingly emboldened by your request. “So, what name do I put down for the order?”

“Ah, ‘Shu’ is fine.”

She freezes, her confidence and boldness—gone.

“…Y-you’re Shu? THE Shu? L-like…the Defiant?”

“The one and only.” Paloma declares with a grin.

“Oh…oh my God, this is an honor. I won’t let you down!” Aimee suddenly declares, snatching your hand and shaking it with newfound fervor. “This is going to be the greatest thing I’ve ever made, I promise you! I’ll get started immediately!”

“I have no doubt, but please take your time.” You plead with her…though you have a feeling your request falls on her deaf and very excited ears. With that, you leave her stall as she mutters something about ‘all the happy tears’ while you reconvene with your family to find them in the middle of a very serious debate that’s just been sparked by your resident fire starter.

(Continued)
>>
>>5053228

“Okay, so who’s ready for some real goddamn food, for once?” Rath demands, practically chomping at the bit to go upstairs.

“Hey, now; Lady Julia and I made pancakes for everyone just the other day.” Dorian fires back with mock offense, and Rath rounds on him in a fervor.

“A girl can’t live on pancakes alone, my dude!”

“Speak for yourself.” Gina mutters, eyeing the fit brawler up and down while feeling her own pudge hidden beneath her hoodie. “I’m working on my Crucible bod. It’s like my regular bod, but with more cake in it.”

“I could go for a salad. Maybe an oil-based dressing.” November muses, prompting a chuckle from the good doctor beside her, thin eyebrow cocked in amusement as the soldier glances up at Amara. “What about you, kiddo?”

“Three bowls of Froot Loops.” Your ward instantly replies, her determination and focus unparalleled in this singular moment. “I will accept no substitutes.”

“What about you, babe?” Gina asks, turning to you. “What’ll you have?”

“They can make anything, I swear!” Paloma chimes in proudly, standing tall with her hands on her hips—or as tall as she can, given she’s about a head-and-a-half shorter than you. “Just name your favorite, and they can recreate it!”

“Think they have protein powder?” Johanna asks earnestly, and a horrified expression flickers across your host’s face before she can properly recover.

“Fran, what’ll it be?” Gina says, sensing your hesitation and shifting the spotlight to the lean physician.

“I…well, we’ll have to see what strikes my fancy.” She replies hesitantly, and you get the feeling she may be having the same struggle that you are.

You’ll have a…

You’d like…

…Hrm.

You’re not sure if it says more about you or Sam that alcoholic beverages spring to mind with more alacrity than actual food.

>>Venture upstairs and try to let the gourmands pluck a favorite from your ill-remembered past.

>>See what everyone else gets, and then have a bit of everything…besides, you’re interested to see what everyone orders.

>>You’ll make due with an old favorite—order a Bee’s Knees, and see any finger foods would pair well with it.

>>Nothing ventured, nothing gained; you’ll have a (Write-In).

>>Send your family on ahead as you hang back with Paloma on the first floor…there’s one or two things you’d like to ask her, while she’s alone (Write-In).

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, with posting to resume in three.)
>>
>>5053229
vote;
>See what everyone else gets, and then have a bit of everything…besides, you’re interested to see what everyone orders.
>>
>>5053229
>"I could go for a salad. Maybe an oil-based dressing.” November muses, prompting a chuckle from the good doctor beside her
So I get that that's a joke on November being a cyborg who needs her joints oiled, but I'm wondering: Can November eat? I'm pretty sure her old body couldn't, but she can install the Gamma Pharynx so that suggests she does have a mouth now.

>>Nothing ventured, nothing gained; you’ll have a (Write-In).
>A vegetarian (well, not really, but close enough) curry. Vegetables and spices, too things notably missing from Shu's diet. Let's go for novelty.
>>
(Her frame can be modified to hold practically any Relic - the only biomass she has left is part of her brain and her spinal column, but she can still absorb minimal biomass. It's just that she lacks the ability to enjoy it, currently.)
>>
>>5053247
Darn. Poor November. We need to get her some quality of life upgrades, then. Not a lot we can do right now, though. Definitely something to work on for a post-game cyberbody, assuming we can't just reincarnate her as a full-flesh human with the world-revival program.
>>
>>5053229
>>A spicy curry. Mostly vegetables. and try and trade for bits and pieces of the others meals just to get a real palette of what tastes are out there.

I like the idea of a curry and of trying to widen our palette. Its probably muddled enough than it already is and we can probably use the reminder of what real food tastes like.
>>
>>5053229
>>A spicy curry. Mostly vegetables, with a heap of rice on the side. And try and trade for bits and pieces of the others meals just to get a real palette of what tastes are out there.

After so long, doing nothing but CONSUME and eating mostly meat to survive, I'm guessing that Shu's system is screaming for some vegetables.
>>
>>5053266
Shu has subsisted entirely on a diet of mutant flesh and mixed cocktails, for her entire life. I think this is the first actual food she will have ever eaten.
>>
(Finishing the update now, and apologies for the delay - work got a bit busy in the second half.)
>>
>>5053229

“You know what? Spicy curry.” You announce on a whim as you’re halfway up the stairwell to the second floor. “With some vegetables, and a big ‘ol heap of rice on the side.”

“Vegetables? Traitor.” Gina scoffs, taking your arms in hers. “Jail for Shu! Jail for Shu for one thousand years!”

When you finally emerge, the Ikean Fortress’ vast amount of eateries almost makes you re-think your decision, but you stand firm in the face of the multitude of tempting smells.

“Rath, the best meat’s served over at Hellburger, over in the corner. Tell Steak-Hands Jenny I sent you.” Paloma instructs the redhead, who’s about to bolt in the indicated direction before she fixes Nerada with a look. “Hey, you ever had steak?”

The small Hive Mistress shakes her head.

“What about a burger?” Rath fires off, answered by another shake of the child’s head. “Well, we’re getting you both.”

“But Amara said she was gonna share her Froot Loops.”

“You can have both.” Paloma interjects, and Nerada’s eyes go wide with awe.

“Both?” She echoes in disbelief. “I don’t have to pick?”

“Kid, you can eat anything you goddamn want.” Rath laughs, grabbing her hand and leading her over to the restaurant as the little one grins.

“I like this place.” Is the last thing you hear her say before the two of them disappear into the crowd, leaving you and the rest to fend for themselves in this apocalyptic food court.

“What are those?” Francine suddenly asks, intrigued by a nearby stall that’s set against the second-floor railing.

“Swedish Meatballs, an Ikean delicacy.” Paloma grins, ushering for the good doctor to try one before turning to you. “So! If you’re in the mood for curry, I hear that Làzhú just got a great new recipe, and she should be able to set Amara up with some cereal, too. She knows a little bit of everything!”

Thanking her for the tip, you take Amara by the hand as you make your way over to a modest stand, staffed by a girl whose skin flows like paraffin wax. She’d been watching you since you’d arrived, having fixed you with a smile that only reaches a single eye, her left socket filled with a low-burning candle.

“Welcome! I understand you’re Madame Paloma’s honored guests, yes? Whatever you like, it’s on the house.” She declares, leaning on the counter and propped up by thin elbows. “Hell young miss, what would you like?”

“Three bowls of your finest Froot Loops, please.” Your little one informs the owner, and Làzhú gives her a wink before turning to you, the same question in her fiery gaze.

“Your curry comes highly recommended. Spicy as you like, and with vegetables and rice on the side, if I may.”

The girl simply bows, instructing you and your charge to have a seat wherever you like, and that your food will be brought to you promptly.

(Continued)
>>
>>5053375

“So…I have to ask.” You say, staking out a large circular table for when the rest of your family joins you. “Why cereal?”

“Mother. I crave the loop.” She informs you, and you’re not sure whether to be amused or intimidated by just how straight a face she has right now…though she falters after a moment, clearly wrestling with something before she speaks again.

“Can I tell you a secret?”

“Always, sweetie. What’s on your mind?” You ask, and Amara leans in close after muttering a few syllables of her Lexicon for reasons that escape you.

“Nerada wanted me to find out what you heard her heart say. She told me not to tell you she asked, but I felt bad.” She says guiltily. “I think she’s embarrassed that you might’ve heard something she didn’t want you to hear…are you mad I told you?”

“Not at all, Amara…I’m glad you told me.” You assure her, putting your arm around her shoulder and fixing her with a soft smile. “It’s part of the reason I took her aside first—I know she has a lot of worries about fitting in, and I wanted to make sure she knew we weren’t going to judge her. Plus, with you being your sweet self? I think she’ll feel better soon.”

“Okay…so what should I tell her you said?” She asks, glancing around to make sure your family isn’t arriving before adding; “Actually, could I ask something else? I-if you don’t mind?”

“Of course.” You answer, a concern growing in your chest at your ward’s unusual reluctance.

“Wh-…” She starts, then swallows. “…what did my heart say?”

At that, yours sinks.

Taking a shaky breath, you wonder how best to reply to either question under the current circumstances…

>>Tell her the truth, to both. As plainly and gently as possible, with all the care that is due.

>>Tell her to have Nerada come to you with her question, while you answer Amara’s as best you can.

>>As much as you don’t want to, tell her those questions will have to wait until you can give them their proper due.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume at 10AM Eastern time tomorrow morning. Thank you all for your time and participation, and I wish you a restful evening and a good night’s sleep.)
>>
>>5053377
vote;
>First, make Sure Amara is ok with you telling her that in public. you're fine if she is, but you want to warn her some things are best left for private conversations, and you also dont want to risk ruining the fun.
>>but if she insists, tell her the truth. to both, as Nerada wouldn't of asked her to find out if she wasn't ok with amara finding out too.
>>
>>5053377
>>Write-In
>"...are you sure you want to talk about this here, Amara? It could get pretty heavy."
>If she is, then take a breath to focus and steel yourself for emotions
>"Tell Nerada that what I heard was her fear we'd be scared of her. That something she had done, or something she was, would make us not want to stay and be kind to her. I didn't hear what she thought was so bad, just that she was worried, but whatever it is I'm not going to reject her over it. I'm not anywhere near heartless enough to abandon a child who needs me."
>"Which, um...well, which brings us to yours."
>"You had two sparks, talking with each other. One was scared that I was going to leave you. That I'd be too busy for you, or would want to leave you behind to keep you safe, or just that I'd abandon you for no reason. It didn't have a single argument, I think it was just all your fears, even the non-rational ones. The other was a spark trying to keep you happy and not thinking about your fears. Telling the other spark that if you just kept smiling, and staying strong, and getting stronger, then you'd be too busy to be sad and we wouldn't want to leave you."
>"Amara...if you're sad, you can tell me. If you're scared, you can tell me. Please don't mistake my being proud of you when you're brave and thoughtful for wanting you to never show any other emotion. I'm so sorry if I've ever given you that impression. You're surrounded by people who love you, and we all want you to be really happy, not just putting on a strong face for us. We'd much rather you tell us when something's wrong so we can help you, rather than just be blissfully unaware of it."
>"And I will never abandon you. Don't ever think that for a moment. No matter the danger, no matter how busy I am, I will always want you to be in my life. As long as I draw breath I'm going to be there for you, okay? I love you, Amara, never doubt that."
>Give her as strong a hug as we can without squeezing her malleable body in half.

I want to ask her about her birth mom, if she abandoned her, but I'm not sure how to work it in. Anyone else have any ideas?
>>
>>5053413
I can work that in. But goddamn it I've come back from work at such a late time. The whole "heart" thing is the perfect preface to ask Amara about her mother anyways. I just hope Bhop considers my write-in.

Just give me a couple of hours to work my write-in ""storytime magic".
>>
>>5053622
Sure thing, anon. I agree it's a good opportunity to ask about her birth mother, since her heart-spark outright said "You had a mom". Which worries me, is that just referring to pre-Crucible life as the past tense, or did Amara's mother die? I remember we had a theory once that her mother might actually have made it into the Crucible and just gotten turned into a West Proxy, that would be rather horrific if true.

Sorry to hear you got back late, though. I also hope BHOP counts your write-in, you're pretty good at this and I'd like you to be able to contribute your piece.
>>
>>5053413
>>5053633
Thanks for letting me know. I do have a slight nit-pick about your answer though. Even though the answer of reassurance for being Amara's mother in the Crucible-era is a given, I'm somewhat worried that we're overselling that fact and not leaving any healthy room for Amara to learn how to cope and move on in the inevitable chance that circumstances do actually force us to become separate from Amara.
>>
>>5053635
Yeah, that part was a bit weak, I agree. An earlier draft of mine tried to address that, but I couldn't make it not sound all prevaricating, like we were expecting to leave her. I tried to get around it by saying "always come back to you" instead of "never leave you", but it could still make her too dependent. If you've got a better way to phrase it, I'd be glad to go with that.
>>
>>5053377
>>5053380
Sorry for the very late write-in. I hope it's considered when you wake up in the morning. This is a two-part write-in vote due to character limits.

>First, make Sure Amara is ok with you telling her that in public. you're fine if she is, but you want to warn her some things are best left for private conversations, and you also dont want to risk ruining the fun.
>but if she insists, tell her the truth. to both, as Nerada wouldn't of asked her to find out if she wasn't ok with amara finding out too.

Storytime segment:
>Pull both Amara (and Nerada if optional with consent) onto your lap.
>"Deep down, Nerada simply wants to have friends. To be with people who are willing to accept her for who she is. She's been lonely for a long time, and never had the chance to feel content in the way that you have friends and family to look after you and accept who you are."
>"And hearing her heart's true desires? How could I say no? It's clear that both you and Nerada had lots of fun with each other, and look adorable as well."

>"As for your heart's true desires..."
>"You had one wish and one worry. A blue star and a brown one."
>"The blue star was happy, cheerful, always optimistic and hopeful. When I heard your heart speak through the blue star. Your heart wished to stay strong and keep smiling even if it hurts."
>"The brown star was sad, fearful, and full of worries. When I heard your heart speak through the brown star, your heart was worried about how I wasn't your real mom, how I always busy and that I would someday leave you to keep you safe."
>"Amara, I'm not mad, nor am I worried or disappointed at you for having these wishes and worries inside your heart. Both the Blue Star and the Brown star inside your heart are right in their own way."
>"The blue star of hope inside your heart is right in the sense that you have been very mature for your age, and that everything you've done has always been a great help. It is right in the sense that it always looks on the bright side of life. A smile better suits you."
>"But the brown star of worries is also correct Amara in what it said. It's true, I'm not your mother in the sense of being the one who gave birth to and who raised you before the Crucible came along. And it is right to worry in the sense that even if we do manage to beat the Cord, something might come up that will force me to make that hard choice to leave you behind, no matter how strong I am."
cont.
>>
>>5053647
>>5053377

>"Which brings me to my next point. The brown star of worries inside your heart said something that I can't help but wonder."
>"Amara, if you're feeling brave enough, can you tell me what happened to your first mom?"
>If Amara is hesitant: "I know it's a sore subject having to talk about the past. If you're still not feeling up for it, I can empathize. I'm only asking because I'm curious about you. Curious about how life was like for you back then."
>"I only want to know more about you, so I can love you all the better for it, regardless of how painful that past is."
>Regardless of Amara's decision to open up about her past end the conversation with this:
>"Amara, there may be a point in time where it becomes necessary for the two of us to part ways. Be it you growing up enough to become independent or be it me sacrificing my life or making a hard choice to leave you to keep you safe. It's a simple fact."
>"Moms have to work hard to take care of their families. Every waking moment they shed sweat, blood, and tears to keep their family and children safe so that one day their children can grow strong and mature to keep on living and have kids of their own."
>"Your time with your first mom may have been short and I may not be your real mom, but that doesn't mean I can't be a second mom to you."
>"I made the choice to look after you and raise you the best I can when you were born from that pod in the Rusty Town."
>"I will do my best to raise you the best I can AND beat the Cord. If there's a way for me to stay with you after beating the Cord, I will make it so. If I have to part ways with you, I will try and find a way make so that it's possible to be there for you, through time or space."
>"But until then; appreciate the time you have with me. Keep growing, keep smiling, so that even if that day comes, you'll be strong and mature enough to keep on living without me and eventually become a mom of your own kids."
>"You'll always be a daughter to me regardless. That's how much I love you."

>>5053386
>>5053637
If any of you have any objections to this write-in, make it known before bhop opens up his post at 10 in the morn. I'll try to be awake at that point in time to address it. I may have self-criticism on my own write-in shortly after reading this.
>>
>>5053647
>>5053648
And immediately I see typos and grammar checks that I feel I must rectify. goddamn it. Curse my hubris.
>>5053386
>>5053637

the point of the message in my write-in is 3-fold. One is to tell her the truth, then to bridge from that point, address a question that has been fermenting in our minds for a long long time (Amara's past and the trauma associated with her birth mother), we have several big hints regarding Amara's past, but gently nudging Amara to be brave and open up will give us the confirmation to some of our assumptions as well as bring to light the full scope of her heart's true worries. Then the final part is to address those worries. Yes, We're acknowledging that those worries may be true with a bitter yet needed lesson of the inevitability of growing up, aging, and parting ways. but we're also giving an answer that helps her cope with the reality and a needed perspective of appreciation of how fortunate she has been throughout her life.
>>
>>5053647
>>5053648
eh, i dunno.
I just always feel like these more longer form kid story ways to telling Amara things dont click. and its Amaras fault, for whatever that means. shes a kid, and she clearly still likes kid things, but she just shows such a mature knack for truly understanding mature concepts and knowing when to take things seriously that when it comes to serous topics, it just feels jarring and out of place to me to treat her like a kid for them.
typically, people use stories on kids because its easier for them to understand, not necessarily because its 'funner' for them, though that does help. so i guess for me it just feels so unnecessary, especially when its a topic like this we cant spin to be fun. if we could, then maybe, but we really cant honestly. doesn't help its literally about her and her deepest concerns too.
>>
>>5053647
>>5053648
Well, I'm not sure I'd call the blue light "hope". To me it sounded more like a coping mechanism. One that isn't entirely wrong, but whose purpose is still more about keeping her from thinking about the bad thoughts embodied by the brown light than on actually fixing her problem. I think in that sense the "keep growing, keep smiling" idea is potentially harmful for her. Your write-in might be able to change it around, so that she's focusing on positive growth instead of just chasing something to distract her from her worries, but I still have some issues with bringing it up as a positive in the first place.

That's why my vote had Shu saying that we want to hear if she's sad or scared or unhappy, because just putting on a happy mask doesn't help her, and ultimately we want her to be able to work through her problems instead of just cover them up. Genuine smiles, not just one she's putting up as part of keeping busy so she doesn't have to think about her sadness. Arguably it's actually a very good thing that she asked us what we saw, and perhaps we should emphasize that. Not in the sense of "it's good that you came to me for help" but "it's good that you're confronting a worry instead of trying to ignore it".
>>
>>5053657
I see. Any parts that you kinda like? It's gonna be hard to re-word the write-in given the seriousness of the topic if it is even possible in the first place. And I've been trying to tell Amara how it is from Shu's Pov during her journey through the soul realm. Amara's heart did manifest in the form of a pair of blue and brown binary stars after all.

As for it "not clicking", yeah.. you do have a point. It's hard to balance what we sense as Amara's apparent sense of Maturity, to the level of Maturity that Amara actually displays.
>>
>>5053663
You've got a solid argument in pointing out that the blue-light is more representative of Amara's form of coping with the hidden worries.

Do you think we'll be able to compile some sort of composite response? Simultaneously address her worries and her apparent coping mechanism? Because we can't really address one part of her problem individually. Both problems need to be simultaneously dealt with lest the one less addressed fester.
>>
>>5053664
yeah.
should mention i dont blame you for still seeing her as a kid, i do too in alot of ways, only as i said it still feels off much of the time to treat her as one.
>>
>>5053664
>>5053669
as for parts, hrm...
>"Deep down, Nerada simply wants to have friends. To be with people who are willing to accept her for who she is. She's been lonely for a long time, and never had the chance to feel content in the way that you have friends and family to look after you and accept who you are."
>"And hearing her heart's true desires? How could I say no? It's clear that both you and Nerada had lots of fun with each other, and look adorable as well."

>I'm not mad, nor am I worried or disappointed at you for having worries inside your heart.
>you have been very mature for your age, and that everything you've done has always been a great help.
>it is right to worry in the sense that even if we do manage to beat the Cord, something might come up that will force me to make that hard choice to leave you behind, no matter how strong I am."
>"Amara, if you're feeling brave enough, can you tell me what happened to your first mom?"
>: "I know it's a sore subject having to talk about the past. If you're still not feeling up for it, I can empathize. I'm only asking because I'm curious about you. Curious about how life was like for you back then."
>"I only want to know more about you, so I can love you all the better for it, regardless of how painful that past is."
>"Amara, there may be a point in time where it becomes necessary for the two of us to part ways. Be it you growing up enough to become independent or be it me sacrificing my life or making a hard choice to leave you to keep you safe. It's a simple fact."
>"Moms have to work hard to take care of their families. Every waking moment they shed sweat, blood, and tears to keep their family and children safe so that one day their children can grow strong and mature to keep on living and have kids of their own."
>"Your time with your first mom may have been short and I may not be your real mom, but that doesn't mean I can't be a second mom to you."
>"I made the choice to look after you and raise you the best I can when you were born from that pod in the Rusty Town."
>"I will do my best to raise you the best I can AND beat the Cord. If there's a way for me to stay with you after beating the Cord, I will make it so. If I have to part ways with you, I will try and find a way make so that it's possible to be there for you, through time or space."
>"But until then; appreciate the time you have with me. Keep growing, keep smiling, so that even if that day comes, you'll be strong and mature enough to keep on living without me and eventually become a mom of your own kids."
>"You'll always be a daughter to me regardless. That's how much I love you."

mind, alot of this is just ideas or such i like, and i get some of it would not stand as i copied it or such.
I also feel maaaybe the last segment could try softening the 'we may leave you' bit somehow. not sure how we could, but it feels like it needs it a bit.
>>
>>5053377
Amending my vote >>5053647 and >>5053648.

>"Deep down, Nerada simply wants to have friends. To be with people who are willing to accept her for who she is. She's been lonely for a long time, and never had the chance to feel content in the way that you have friends and family to look after you and accept who you are."
>"And hearing her heart's true desires? How could I say no? It's clear that both you and Nerada had lots of fun with each other, and look adorable as well."

>"As for your heart's true desires..."
>"You had two stars that talked to each other. One blue was and one was brown. The Brown one was scared that I was going to leave you. That I'd be too busy for you, or would want to leave you behind to keep you safe, or just that I'd abandon you for no reason. It didn't have a single argument, I think it was just all your fears, even the non-rational ones. The blue one keep you happy and not thinking about your fears. Telling the other spark that if you just kept smiling, and staying strong, and getting stronger, then you'd be too busy to be sad and we wouldn't want to leave you."
>pause for a small steady breath to let it sink in. Maintain eye-contact.
>"Amara...if you feel sad, scared, or mad, then it's okay to feel that way, it's okay to tell me or the others about how you feel. Please don't mistake my being proud of you when you're brave and thoughtful for wanting you to never show any other emotion. I'm so sorry if I've ever given you that impression. You're surrounded by people who love you, and we all want you to be really happy, not just putting on a strong face for us. We'd much rather you tell us when something's wrong so we can help you, rather than just be blissfully unaware of it."
>"I'm not mad, nor am I worried or disappointed at you for having worries inside your heart. You have been very mature for your age, and that everything you've done has always been a great help.
>"There's no shame in having worries, you have the right to worry in the sense that even if we do manage to beat the Cord, something might come up that will force me to make that hard choice to leave you behind, no matter how strong I am."
cont.
>>
>>5053377

part 2 of >>5053684

>"Which brings me to my next point. The brown star inside your heart said something that I can't help but wonder."
>"Amara, if you're feeling brave enough, can you tell me what happened to your first mom?"

>If Amara is hesitant: "I know it's a sore subject having to talk about the past. If you're still not feeling up for it, I can empathize. I'm only asking because I'm curious about you. Curious about how life was like for you back then."
>"I only want to know more about you, so I can love you all the better for it, regardless of how painful that past is."

>Regardless of Amara's decision to open up about her past end the conversation with this:

>"Amara, there may be a point in time where it becomes necessary for the two of us to part ways. Be it you growing up enough to become independent or be it me sacrificing my life or making a hard choice to leave you to keep you safe. It's a simple fact."
>"Moms have to work hard to take care of their families. Every waking moment they shed sweat, blood, and tears to keep their family and children safe so that one day their children can grow strong and mature to keep on living and have kids of their own."
>"Your time with your first mom may have been short and I may not be your real mom, but that doesn't mean I can't be a second mom to you."
>"I made the choice to look after you and raise you the best I can when you were born from that pod in the Rusty Town."
>"I will do my best to raise you the best I can AND beat the Cord. If there's a way for me to stay with you after beating the Cord, I will make it so. If I have to part ways with you, I will try and find a way make so that it's possible to be there for you, through time or space."
>"But until then; appreciate the time we have together. Keep growing mature and thoughtful, keep smiling when you feel happy, so that if that day ever comes, you'll be strong and mature enough to keep on living without me and eventually become a mom of your own kids."
>"You'll always be a daughter to me regardless. That's how much I love you."
>>
>>5053684
>>5053685
Looks good. Sorry for the delayed response, I was trying to write up my own but being tired is slowing me down. I really should go to sleep. One thing, though: Should we say that we're proud of Amara for confronting her fear right now by asking Shu what she saw in the Nullscape? I think a quick mention of that could be useful. A little reaffirmation that yes, this is a good and mature way to handle your worries, instead of just letting them fester. I'm not sure where to work that in, though.
>>
>>5053684
oh well, i didnt mean not to keep the part about making sure Amara is ok with it. my bad i guess, i didnt consider that to be part of the write-in we were talking about.
>>
>>5053377
Amending my vote in >>5053684 to add the following line:

>"If anything, you asking me what I saw in your heart means you're mature and strong enough to confront your fears and face any worries you have inside your heart. And I'm proud of that. "

the additional line should be placed between this line:

>"I'm not mad, nor am I worried or disappointed at you for having worries inside your heart. You have been very mature for your age, and that everything you've done has always been a great help."

And this line:

>"There's no shame in having worries, you have the right to worry in the sense that even if we do manage to beat the Cord, something might come up that will force me to make that hard choice to leave you behind, no matter how strong I am."
>>
(Good Morning Everyone, and I hope you are well. Much like Wednesday, I will unfortunately have to push the start of today's updates out to 12PM, Eastern time. I have to run by the office today to meet with a mold expert for the building's reinspection, but this does give me the opportunity to work in the recent write-in since it looked to be well-received.)

(My apologies for the delay.)
>>
>>5053849
No worries, BHOP. Sorry to hear your day will be busy, but I'm glad the mold is getting taken cared of. See you around noon.
>>
>>5053849
It's all good, BHOP! Do what you need to do, real-world obligations come first. We're happy to wait for the update.
>>
File: Amara.jpg (1.34 MB, 966x1420)
1.34 MB
1.34 MB JPG
>>5053377

“…Are you sure you want to talk about this here, Amara? It could get pretty heavy.” You caution, and the little girl beside you nods firmly.

“I asked the stuff around us to keep us quiet.” She informs you, then frowns. “There’s not much skin-stuff in this place, but the food will help keep things quiet.”

…You have no idea how that even works, but well-played.

"So, to start…deep down, Nerada simply wants to have friends.” You begin slowly, choosing your words with care. “To be with people who are willing to accept her for who she is. She's been lonely for a long time, and never had the chance to feel content in the way that you have friends and family to look after you and accept who you are."

Shrugging, you draw your daughter close as you cast your gaze around the crowd. "And hearing her heart's true desires? How could I say no? It's clear that both you and Nerada had lots of fun with each other, and look adorable as well."

Amara nods, fiddling with her hands in her lap as you draw in a breath, and address the girl’s fears.

"As for your heart's true desires…you had two stars that talked to each other. One blue was and one was brown.” You explain—those stars staring up at you, hanging on every word. “The brown one was scared that I was going to leave you. That I'd be too busy for you, or would want to leave you behind to keep you safe, or just that I'd abandon you for no reason. It didn't have a single argument, I think it was just all your fears, even the non-rational ones.”

“W-…what about the blue one?” She asks softly.

“The blue one kept you happy and not thinking about your fears. Telling the other spark that if you just kept smiling, and staying strong, and getting stronger, then you'd be too busy to be sad and we wouldn't want to leave you."

You pause, drawing in a steady breath as you let your words sink in. Your eyes haven’t left hers, and as her eyes start to look everywhere but your own, you cup her cheek in the palm of your hand before continuing.

"Amara...if you feel sad, scared, or mad, then it's okay to feel that way. It's okay to tell me or the others about how you feel. Please don't mistake my being proud of you when you're brave and thoughtful for wanting you to never show any other emotion.” You implore her, trying to keep your throat from going dry as you speak the words she has to hear. “I'm so sorry if I've ever given you that impression. You're surrounded by people who love you, and we all want you to be really happy too, not just putting on a strong face for us. We'd much rather you tell us when something's wrong so we can help you, rather than just be blissfully unaware of it."

“…You do so much.” She murmurs, hands balled up tightly on her little knees. “You help everybody, and I just didn’t want to make you have to worry about more stuff. Are…are you sure you’re not mad at me? Or…or upset, or-?”

(Continued)
>>
>>5053931

"No. No, not at all. Not in the least.” You comfort her, as you pat her head. “I'm not mad, nor am I worried or disappointed at you for having worries inside your heart. You have been very mature for your age, and that everything you've done has always been a great help. If anything, you asking me what I saw in your heart means you're mature and strong enough to confront your fears and face any worries you have inside your heart. And I'm proud of that. "

“…I hate being like this.” She laments, her fingers curling even tighter. “I hate worrying about everything feel like a baby, when everyone around me is worrying, too.”

"There's no shame in having worries, Amara. You have the right to worry in the sense that even if we do manage to beat the Cord, something might come up that will force me to make that hard choice to leave you behind, no matter how strong I am."

Amara’s eyes go wide, her blue-brown gaze lancing through your heart. She opens her mouth to speak, and you raise a gentle hand to give her pause.

"Which brings me to my next point. The brown star inside your heart said something that I can't help but wonder." You say tentatively, your tone as open and as accepting as you can make it. "Amara, if you're feeling brave enough, can you tell me what happened to your first mom?"

She casts her gaze down at her hands, throat working to shape the words that won’t come. "Hey, it’s okay—I know it's a sore subject, having to talk about the past. If you're still not feeling up for it, I can empathize. I'm only asking because I'm curious about you. Curious about how life was like for you back then."

You take her chin between thumb and forefinger, and raise her up to meet your tender smile. "I only want to know more about you, so I can love you all the better for it, regardless of how painful that past is."

“I…” She begins, sucking in a hollow breath, then exhaling just as quickly. She breathes in again, then out, faster than before. “I…I don’t-“

Her breaths shorten, becoming shallower by the second. Before her panicked breaths can spiral into hyperventilation, you quickly instruct her to mirror your own, and within a few seconds you’re able to get her to a better place.

“That’s okay, sweetie, just breathe. You don’t have to say anything you don’t feel comfortable with, okay?” She nods, clearly frustrated with herself as you draw her into a hug. Your fingers trace small circles against her back, and you feel her breathing stabilize as she relaxes against you once more…even as your own chest tightens, knowing what you have to do.

You don’t relish having to say what comes next, but it needs to be said.

(Continued)
>>
>>5053933

"Amara, what I have to say next is going to be a lot, but I’m asking that you bear with me until the end, okay?” You requests, and she gives you a silent nod of assent. “There may be a point in time where it becomes necessary for the two of us to part ways. Be it you growing up enough to become independent or be it me sacrificing my life or making a hard choice to leave you to keep you safe. It's a simple fact."
Her lower lip trembles, but you just hold her tighter. "Moms have to work hard to take care of their families. Every waking moment they shed sweat, blood, and tears to keep their family and children safe so that one day their children can grow strong and mature to keep on living and have kids of their own."

"Your time with your first mom may have been short, and I may not be your real mom…but that doesn't mean I can't be a second mother to you. I made the choice to look after you and raise you the best I can when you were born from that pod in the Rusty Town."

“Wh-…what are you saying?” She asks, searching your eyes

"That I will do my best to raise you AND beat the Cord. If there's a way for me to stay with you after beating the it, then I will make it so.” You declare, prompting a glimmer of hope in Amara’s two-tone gaze. “If I have to part ways with you, I will try and find a way make so that it's possible to be there for you, through time or space."

She just nods, swallowing her tears as your heart breaks to see her hurting.

"But until then? Appreciate the time we have together.” You smile, taking her face in your hands. “Keep growing mature and thoughtful, keep smiling when you feel happy, so that if that day ever comes, you'll be strong and mature enough to keep on living without me and eventually become a mom of your own."

“You think so?”

You nod.

"I *know* so. You'll always be a daughter to me.” You assure her. “That's how much I love you, Amara."

“…I love you too, Mom.” She sniffles, burying her face against you as you hold her close.

{How is she?} Gina’s concerned voice suddenly echoes in your mind.

[She’s getting there. She’s strong…and she’s opening up, slowly but surely. So, I’m guessing you’ve been keeping the others at bay?]

{Of course} She answers, feeling her kind smile playing at the corners of your mind. {I know how you feel when you’re having a heavy talk, so I wanted to give you all the time you needed}

[I appreciate that, Gina. More than you know]

{Well, do you think you and she are ready for company?} The Neuromancer asks tentatively. You glance around to see that Làzhú’s been holding back, your curry at the ready alongside three bowls of cereal, piled high for your little one.

>>See if Amara’s ready to eat—if she is, then give Gina the go-ahead.

>>Tell Gina you’d like to have a bit more time with Amara, just in case she decides to open up, or if she still needs to talk about anything.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Ah, there we go. Voting shall remain open for the next two hours, with posting to resume in three. Thank you for bearing with my unexpected schedule change today, and I hope your Friday is going well.)

(It's been a *screams externally* kind of day, but thank thank for your patience. I was going to try and make this last update a bit longer, but this seems like a good breakpoint...otherwise given how the day is going it would've taken me another hour or so to push out another post or two of update.)
>>
>>5053936
>>See if Amara’s ready to eat—if she is, then give Gina the go-ahead.
>>If she is not ready stay like that for a while and bring her to bed if she feels to exhausted.

>>5053939
Well your day does seem pretty bad. I hope you can realx now a bit.

I have been trying to get into Blender for the last couple of hours.... So far.... i might be able to make a basic sword.
>>
>>5053936
Ooph, heavy. Thanks for keeping people at a respectful distance, Gina.

>>See if Amara’s ready to eat—if she is, then give Gina the go-ahead.

Also, while this talk with Amara was well-needed and I'm glad we had it, we are kind of getting distracted from our goal of getting a sense of Paloma. We should make sure to focus on that on the next floor. Sorry, Amara, I say we'll try not to be too busy for you and then I focus on another goal we have to work on. I swear it's not pushing you off, it's just allocating different time to different goals.

>>5053939
I'm sorry to hear that, BHOP. I hope things calm down for you.
>>
File: 90354952_p0_master1200.jpg (417 KB, 1104x1200)
417 KB
417 KB JPG
>>5053936
UGH. MY HEART. IT HAS TURNED INTO A BLACK HOLE UPON SEEING THE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT OF THE CONVERSATION.

>Tell Gina you’d like to have a bit more time with Amara, just in case she decides to open up, or if she still needs to talk about anything.
>Take the time afforded to share the silence with your daughter embraced in that hug.
I really don't want to immediately move on, this is an emotionally heavy moment for Amara, and I think we should take the time for Amara to soak in the time spent with her 'second mom', even it it's a quiet hug in silence.


>>5053939
I'm torn between several quests that I'm following, having to get ready for work, working on writing a cover letter for a job posting that I'm interested in applying, sorting through Cradleton notes for excerpts that'll help me finish the rewrite, and getting ready for the horror that is Black Friday and Christmas shipping week.
>>
>>5053936
>>>See if Amara’s ready to eat—if she is, then give Gina the go-ahead.

That's enough for now. No need to push further with Amara, let's enjoy the food and give her time to process everything we just talked about.
>>
>>5053936
>"That I will do my best to raise you AND beat the Cord. If there's a way for me to stay with you after beating the it, then I will make it so.”
>after beating the it

Bhop. Tis a shame. such is the price of hubris. The Great Grammar Ghost will forever haunt us.
>>
File: 1636221914380.jpg (36 KB, 552x682)
36 KB
36 KB JPG
>>5053963
>>
File: Treats and Delicacies.jpg (68 KB, 897x879)
68 KB
68 KB JPG
>>5053936

“Hey, still craving the loop?” You ask with a grin, a quick tickle at her side prompting a giggle from Amara before she gives you a firm nod. Her eyes are still misty, but at least she’s smiling again.

And you can tell this one’s genuine.

[I think we’re ready to be sociable, so come on over. I’ve saved us seats]

It doesn’t take long for your family and Paloma to crowd around with a veritable feast of random dishes. From Rath’s steak-burger-fries combo she’s sharing with Nerada to Gina’s stack of pancakes that Dorian eyes approvingly from behind his own plate of assorted greens, with a glass of wine set alongside it. Johanna has a container of—something—that she’s shaking vehemently with a pleased smirk, while Paloma takes her seat with a simple chicken sandwich juxtaposed with an arrangement of thick-cut fries, steaming with heat. Francine’s next to November with an array of Swedish meatballs before her…and nothing else, which speaks to her newfound love affair with the Ikean Fortress’ specialty. Amara enthusiastically slides one of her trio of bowls over to Nerada before digging in to the remaining two with gusto, and as for you?

It’s just now that you realize you’ve been subsisting on little more than biomass and mixed drinks for literally your entire existence, so you’re not quite sure what to expect when you bring the steaming curry to your lips.

Sweet, then spicy. A sensation that lights up your lips and palate, triggering delight deep in your brain.

This…

…this is perfect.

A bit of rice, and then some vegetables, and you don’t even realize how quickly you’re tearing through your food until Gina’s well-meaning snicker jolts you back to your senses.

“Don’t get too full! Here, want to try a bite?” Your girlfriend offers, a maple-syrup-drenched cut of pancake perched atop her fork.

“Leave some room for a bit of my burger, it’s fucking amazing!” Rath pitches in, and with that the floodgates open to rampant food-swapping between your family members…and it’s as you’re sampling everything on offer that it hits you.

Here, in the shadow of the Cord—a thing so titanic and alien, this towering, insurmountable reminder of where you are—there is a simple sort of defiance, in this.

Good food, with the ones you love.

“Now, while I’d love to continue your tour, if you need to take a break or if you’d like to do something else, we totally can!” Paloma offers as she finishes her fries, though she’s clearly excited to continue showing you around.

>>Continue the tour to the upper level, and try to engage Paloma in conversation while you tour the library.

>>Finish here and explore the third and fourth floors—and maybe even dip your toe into the Skinternet.

>>Try to figure out where Jackie went, and if she and the Crew are alright.

>>You’d thought that Uzu and the others would’ve rejoined you by now…try and find them.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume on Tuesday, November 16th at 10AM. I figure pausing here is a better option than trying to write while banging my head against a surprisingly rough Friday, so I’ll break here for now and focus on getting everything on the back-end caught up over the weekend.)

(That said, I wish you a restful end of the week, and whatever plans you have, I do hope they go well. Rest up, take care, and be safe one and all.)
>>
>>5054043
Thanks for running, BHOP. May you likewise have a restful and enjoyable weekend.
>>
>>5054042
>>Continue the tour to the upper level, and try to engage Paloma in conversation while you tour the library.

I'm still game for exploring. And we still need to get to know Paloma better. Let's ask her about how she and her team built this collection and got the Ikean Fortress started, that seems like a logical jumping-off point while we're in the library. That would give us a sense of the efforts she's had to put in and the difficulties she's faced, which should illuminate more about her character.
>>
>>5054042
whelp, my fault as i had been up since 9pm last night, but i decided to try napping and my body laughed at the word 'nap'.

vote;
>Continue the tour to the upper level, and try to engage Paloma in conversation while you tour the library.
unsure on checking on Uzu, but either way we can give the another floor or two before we do, if we decide to.


>>5054043
thanks for running. hope things go well backend, and your weekend goes at least better than it seems this week did.
>>
>>5054043
>>Continue the tour to the upper level, and try to engage Paloma in conversation while you tour the library.

Thanks for running, BHOP! Have a great weekend, and we'll see you on Tuesday!
>>
File: FDhNKFaakAA1GN4.jpg (383 KB, 1414x2000)
383 KB
383 KB JPG
ive got some bugs to share.
but while im doing so, ill just ask some random but quest related questions.

did we ever visit Olympus Mons? i think we did, but just for like a minute for end-of-vein sightseeing, right? I still have it and two other locations on the 'to do' list, though i dont even remember what the other two are.

those being New Pergamum and Port of Ariel.
>>
File: 1636076185330.png (1.82 MB, 1400x1035)
1.82 MB
1.82 MB PNG
more bug.

I think Gina and Francine had some level of idea of how to use the Amalgam spawning place to help stem the shortages, but did we actually make any progress with that, or did we hand the project off? did we just put it on the backburner and forget it was a thing?
>>
File: 1636593540112.jpg (152 KB, 1000x775)
152 KB
152 KB JPG
last bug. my favorite of the bugs too.

i still have 'Everything', Neuro, and Sound girls on our list of high profile daughters to potentially meet, though i cant recall much about them. anyone remember?

also, we STILL have not tried to flesh out Novembers relic options. I mean, i guess she kinda has needed up not really needing it, but it still feels like alot of potential going to waste for her to only ever get a pick of the leftovers.
>>
>>5055391
I think Sam ran into the Sound girl from across the sea. She had a centaur lower body and a Harp i think.

There was nothing more about the Neuro Girl from what i noticed.... and everything.... well she had a hybrid from all classes in one i think.


other than that i sadly know nothing more.
>>
>>5055386
We never visited any of those places. You're thinking of Olympus because it's supposed to be a mountain you can see the Cord from, while we saw the Cord from an entirely unrelated mountain while crossing the Spine. I would like to visit those landmarks on our list if we ever get the chance, but it's likely we wouldn't.

>>5055388
It was an idea we had as a thread, but I don't think it ever got used in-character. We were busy at the time preparing to fight Snowbird, and couldn't devote the time to investigating its viability.

>>5055391
Everything is most likely the dodeca-hybrid girl that BHOP hinted at way back when. Neuro and Sound we know a bit more about because of Rosa's notes on people she wants autographs from. Neuro is a girl the Skinternet has taken to calling "Revolution", since she also has a big Calcite guillotine. Doesn't pick fights she doesn't have to, Rosa considered it low-risk to approach her. Sounds has been nicknamed "Rammstein", since she's German and extremely trigger happy on her sonic attacks. Beyond that, though, we don't have specifics.

>>5055398
No, the centaur girl is Nuckelavee. She has a harp built into her body, but she hasn't been seen using it for attacks. Sam encountered her fighting some girls who didn't want to leave her alone, we had a much more peaceful encounter with her just before we crossed the Spine, actually. Of course, she headed in the same direction that Ziz landed in, and they hadn't turned their aura off yet, so she may be Hunger-mad now. Shit, I hadn't thought of that until now, that's depressing. She was actually pretty nice, sad to think our big flyer friend might have accidentally fried her brain. Let's hope she got away safely, saw Ziz coming in and managed to speed away before she got the worst of the aura.
>>
>>5055453
>You're thinking of Olympus because it's supposed to be a mountain you can see the Cord from, while we saw the Cord from an entirely unrelated mountain while crossing the Spine.
is it? because i specifically know we teleported to a populated place of some form to look at the cord at the end of a vein. maybe it was a different, non descript town though.

>It was an idea we had as a thread, but I don't think it ever got used in-character.
alright, just was trying to jog my mind as i know we had Gina and Francine investigate it with that purpose in mind, but couldn't remember them actually coming up with a plan. which is sounds like thats just because they didnt.

>>5055398
>>5055453
yeah, we just met the horse girl. i knew she was one from the list but i was somewhat sure i had marked her off from it upon meeting her.
i'd not be surprised if she was strong enough to not fall to the scream though.
>>