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Thread: Hot-Blooded ~ War for Dystopia (IC Thread)

  1. #1
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    Hot-Blooded ~ War for Dystopia (IC Thread)

    Within the City of Flowers, the scent of smoke was always present, under the air fresheners and purifiers. There was always something burning below the surface, behind the eyes of grim-faced Firebreakers and the thin ice exterior of the populace, the city smoldered like cooked meat.

    And with that scent, with that aroma of fuel for the fire, came the predators. Brushfires, raking at the sides of the great Apple of the Arctic, swept along in the wake of their apocalyptic brother the PHOENIX. As was their duty, the breakers went to work, sacrificing more and more of themselves in the efforts to protect, to safeguard, and to shield from what was to all people, the threat of annihilation.

    But you knew better than that, didn't you?

    The flame had been burning long before the Firebird had reaped its toll, deep within your hearts, the Children of Prometheus, it was whispered in dark corners. Rumors, no, hear-say, nothing concrete to be discussed in the land of frozen logic and reason.

    But still, the scent of smoke crept into so many ears, and Anchorage clenched, shuddering, on the edge of something...

    Meanwhile, far to the south, the City of Champions, Edmonton, remained stalwart, girding their loins for what looked like the city on the verge, the well-protected bastion of Firebreak stood tall, and weighed its options.

    They could not lose the north, this was certain, but should they defend Anchorage itself? A ravaged city like there had not been in almost a decade, all signs pointed to dissolution, HECATE remained silent on the matter.

    Eyes turned south to Montreal, dug in as fiercely as ever against the ever-hungry south, to the Pacific Shield-Cities, battered by the Firebird's recent flight, digging in against the implacable tide to the West.

    Attacked on all sides.

    That was it, wasn't it?

    The End.

    Or, perhaps...?
    ARC 1

    SPARK

    James Volhard (Zurvan)
    Anchorage, District 7


    You exhaled steadily, smoke billowing from your nose like some sort of ancient dragon, meeting the cold, seemingly-emotionless eyes of your competitors, your rivals. It'd been harder than usual lately, something hardening the hearts and minds of the people on the brink, that quiet desperation had faded today, for some reason or another.

    Something in the air, maybe?

    The blase, droning voice of the newscaster blathered on about something or another, 'Breakers doing something in the snow-side districts, probably another nest. Which was good, you supposed, at least they were doing their jobs, and hey, if they're out there fighting the good fight, means they're not in here, looking for a certain someone.

    You weren't particularly worried, though, you'd gotten pretty solid at not being found when you weren't interested.

    Plus, Sweetheart Seven wasn't exactly a risky part of town, it was a Cop Place, not a Breaker Joint. Utopia had a habit of not addressing greed very well, and with all sorts of people under some stress, it was an alright place to relax a bit.

    You cast your eyes around, wasn't too busy at around this time, just the four of you at the table.

    One of the regulars, Heinrich Dobble, older guy, bitched and moaned a whole lot about how life was better before HECATE and ASPHODEL and all of that nonsense any geezer would go rambling about if you gave them half a chance. Pretty solid guy, though, never raised more than an eyebrow at you frequenting the tables, aside from a few grumbles about cheating. Currently he was bitching about his arthritis, slowly flexing his hands.

    A girl, you didn't know her too well, flicked through the cards she was preparing to deal with an easy grace, only a light touch of frost to her exterior, to be safe (or so you were told). You think her name was Julie, or Janet, or something. She met your eyes dead on as your gaze passed, smiling blandly.

    Then there was the last guy, who put you on edge the moment you saw him, he stunk of something. His thick face looked moist with sweat and his eyes were furtive, like an animal, his fingers were constantly moving around on the table, drumming, fidgeting, playing with a card. He looked nervous, on the edge.

    Everyone could see it, grumpy old Heinrich was frowning at him so hard you'd think his brows'd stick that way.

    The girl didn't seem bothered, but you caught her looking at him out of the corner of her eye, something glinting behind those glasses.

    Your cards fluttered gently down and you swept them up in a hand, glancing over them speculatively.

    6 of diamonds, 8 of clubs, house card's showing a 6.

    Off to a good start already.

    How do you proceed?

    Bernard Incendio (Eru Erufu)
    District 13, Anchorage


    "Corporal, are your suppressants sufficient?"

    It'd been a pretty common question since that gods-be-damned Firebird swept across the city. Not just for you, for everyone, Breakers were constantly under a high amount of stress, thus contributing to their poor reputations in some places.

    It wasn't easy to win hearts and minds when to most people, you may as well be a soulless husk.

    But they cared, they wouldn't be here if they didn't, you wouldn't be here if you didn't.

    It was a brotherhood, and you all looked out for each other, even if it was in detached, almost clinical ways.

    Like this one.

    A Breaker showing emotion wasn't typically too bad, maybe they were a weirdo, maybe they just needed a higher dosage, or command figured they had enough cojones to get away with it.

    But now? Now it was all hands on deck, an S-Class sweeping across the city, all of those people, Danny, Lauren, all of them, up in so much flame, all under that damned screeching, like a nightmare.

    So, today, when the suppressants had barely worked for you normally, and now may as well not work at all, and you've got your heart on your sleeve, people take notice.

    Case in point, Sergeant Waters, 'Eliza', she'd confided to you when the squad got to head off to French Heaven down south for Leave, looking at you like a judge with a gavel ready to fall. Looking at her, it was easy to see why some of the stragglers, the people between the cracks, were so afraid of you all sometimes. Harsh, cold, unyielding, behind the masks, you may as well be a bunch of soulless robots.

    You'd be seeing some of those people today, humanitarian efforts, but when you were heading out to the Snowside Districts, 13 most of all...

    You shifted in your kit, while it wasn't full on Battle Rattle, you were loaded for bear.

    There was a brief, almost microscopic hesitation, unless you were around people, your fellows, your brothers as much as you were, you wouldn't see it, wouldn't feel it in the air.

    She's worried about you.

    They all are.

    Why wouldn't they be? You're a hero, at least that's what the papers were calling you.

    You'd earned a fair bit of leave, but you'd stayed on for a bit, at least until the Commander himself made you, which, honestly probably wasn't far off.

    It didn't exactly calm fears, however, and there was a lot of fear going around these days.

    "Are you fit to fight?"

  2. #2
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    Rada (Twelveseal)
    District 14, Anchorage


    You shivered under the latest in a long line of blankets, pilfered coats from shelters, and one extremely fluffy hat that occasionally slipped down over your eyes.

    This was District 14, the outer-most district, and the one closest to the fortified walls, the outer-most of the so-called Snowside Districts, the districts that made Firebreak nervous, the ones that needed help.

    The ones that were the most desperate.

    No longer were you so isolated on the streets, workers of all kinds dotted the surroundings, quickly building temporary shelters and heated areas for the never-ending masses of people out in the cold. Up above, you spotted the cold, blank masks of Firebreak troopers, scanning the crowds for something, elevated body temperature, perhaps.

    You didn't know.

    But people were desperate and cold, and suppressants, vital supplies from the fortified inland territories, were in short supply. The increased presence of Firebreak coupled with this lead one to a cold, unwelcome conclusion.

    Anyone could see it, obviously.

    And while there were still enough to go around, to keep people calm, it would be very easy to stoke the flame, so to speak. The Snow-Side districts were a powder keg, ready to ignite. Refugees still piled in from the coastal regions, townships and villages and small cities under siege from the PHOENIX's latest rampage, the array of Brushfire monsters herding them in, like cattle.

    A strand of blonde hair slipped out of the loose hat, and you brushed at it irritably, knocking your pilfered hat askew.

    "Whoa, hey there."

    A hand nudges your hat back into position, leaving you to squint up against the florescent lighting irritably.

    Light hair dangles over tinted spectacles, a thick, woolly scarf mostly obscuring a scruff of beard, he was carrying a case for some sort of instrument, a guitar, maybe?

    He smiled down at you.

    "Don't want to go catching a cold. It's already bad enough out here without people getting sick, hm?"

    His eyes glanced around, noting your face, then squinted, his scarf seeming to bunch up in dismay.

    "Sheesh, I'd heard it was bad up here, but can't even spare some space to look after a kid?" He shook his head, "Breakers are slacking," He paused, "Or it's even worse than I thought."

    Then he blinked, "Oh, sorry," He knelt down, "I'm Roddy, Rodrigo, actually," His voice had a strange accent to it, and he rolled the 'R' a bit playfully.

    "You alright? Got anybody to hang out with?" His brows furrowed, "You look a bit sick."

  3. #3
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    Thalia Vault (Draconic)
    Wilderness - Anchorage Approach

    Even here, in the Alaskan Wilderness, the touch of the society built by machines and cold men still reached. And for all that it had wronged you, had ripped apart all you had known, you couldn't truly bring yourself to truly hate it.

    For all that you felt apart from it, you could not reject it, even now, over-large pack slung high on your shoulders as you pushed through the cleared landscape. You felt more than saw the watching eyes, but, as always, they tended to leave you alone unless you got in their way.

    But they knew strength, and your scavenging ways had kept you decently fed, if not truly without hunger. So you picked your way up along the coastline, trailing behind the wagon trains of refugees scurrying between magways and major roads, picking off the bits left behind.

    You'd made a pretty good haul, considering the cool-headed nature of the retreat, but you'd started to see more and more lights along the roads leading to 'Anchorage', the city where people were heading, homes and lives devastated, like any other animal, they'd find a safe place. A protected one.

    You frowned, eyes narrowing as you spotted one of the machines, the drones that Firebreak used to scout, coasting serenely overhead.

    A few weeks ago, you might've taken a pot-shot at it, but they had a pretty good sense of knowing where these things were, even if they were crushed utterly. It'd just bring trouble, and with how they were all railing to have a go at something, they'd be on your butt faster than lightning.

    So you followed, watched and picked away at the scraps.

    Further inland, before the Firebird came, you'd find some occasional game, tough and lean, badass enough to survive what the world could spit at them. But not anymore.

    Now anything still alive out here avoided you.

    Not that you blamed them, after all:

    Brushfires knew strength, and you were quite strong.

    You could feel their presence, simmering and suspicious, watchful of you.

    Still, as you stood up on a hill, frowning down at the line of people, perhaps a half-mile away, attracted like so many moths to the City of Lights, bright in the darkness that had swaddled the world...

    You wondered what to do...

  4. #4
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    Sean Houston (RacingeR)
    District 2 - Killian Manning School - Edmonton


    As always, after the day was done, the building was mostly silent, save for the quiet humming buzz of the cleaning drones and the occasional quiet whisper of after-school extracurriculars.

    Such as yourself.

    You thumbed through some proposals that had come across your desk from the past week with some small amount of annoyance, a small allocation of funds for this project over this one, a concurrence, a disagreement with the one before with well-spoken and logical arguments and blah, blah, blah.

    You grimaced, brushing the papers aside, careful to not sweep them down the crack in the middle, then leaned back in your chair, controversially (for one of your position), selected for comfort over efficiency.

    The position of President differed from the mostly ceremonial one of yester-year, with the most able student in a calm, structured society pressed to the fore-front, they were expected to be capable of taking up some administrative capabilities, managerial at least, thus allowing faculty to focus on educational matters, and for yourself to focus on student-faculty relations and disciplinary measures, as well as oversight over extracurricular activities.

    Hence, your vexation.

    However, there was one bright spot, one that, given your recent, aha, developments, looks to be a possible way forward.

    As the student advocate, one of your duties also governed over the portion of the student body that was 'self-study', a convienient by-word for those who were deemed risk-factors in the day to day school life, to themselves or others, as you understood. For some time, it was a slightly worrying chore, to view the slow degeneration of a peer to the disease that they, nor anyone else could possibly hope to control.

    But that had changed, hadn't it?

    Now you saw, now it was different.

    They were being chained by this society of frost. Forced to struggle to fit a notion that only benefited those who would sacrifice their own humanity.

    But, soon, soon you would enact your plan to lead the people into a new era, ablaze with passion!

    "Ah, President? Are you alright?"

    Oh, ah, ahem.

    You twitched a bit as you met the eyes of the only other person under your 'command' as it were still present.

    Patricia Ainsworth, 17, Secretary of your Council.

    She was to be your second for the day, a risk management protocol that had a bunch of fancy science-talk but mostly amounted to the buddy system.

    She gingerly stepped into the room, taking a moment to shut the door behind her, a moment which you took to tuck the sheet of paper with her name on it deeper into the pile.

    While not precisely on the 'self-study' list, she, admittedly like many of the student body here in the City of Champions, had family scattered around the country dealing with all manner of riff-raff, Brushfires, Wildfires, and the situation in Anchorage.

    But she was deemed a possible risk, out of others that surely had more at stake.

    Why her in particular?

    Liz McLain (Ark)
    District 6 - Mag Station 7 - Edmonton

    You strummed the strings of your guitar gently as you stretched your fingers out, smiling under the weight of many stares, judgmental and otherwise.

    While you were plenty warm enough, your outfit was bold and outlandish, not to mention your stylish hair, loudly proclaiming your presence and status as a firm individual within the tightly controlled lands you called home.

    Still, the presence of the small, innocuous sheet of paper sealed to the side of the case that swayed open convinced those eyes to turn elsewhere.

    Musicians were policed tightly, the double-edged sword could not be crushed outright, and indeed, was deemed by experts to be a natural facet of human life, but so too could it quite easily lead to out-of-control emotion. So, licensing was tightly controlled, musicians vetted and observed closely for any dangerous approaches they may have going forward.

    Here up north, you were getting some rougher looks than you would have down south, the French Edens and the strugglers on the front more desperate and afraid than at risk for having their hearts stirred too harshly. But the City of Champions was regimented and controlled as you've seen in your travels, so you made it a point to try not to start too much shit.

    Today, you were keeping it pretty low-key, some acoustic stuff, just 'nice' stuff, really, wasn't anywhere near as hard as you'd like, but you knew how to read a crowd.

    And while you were no long-time resident of these parts, you noted the increased presence of patrols, Firebreak marshaling out from their stations, crisp and shining defenders. Looking strong, stalwart and brave.

    But you'd a good eye for people, and a lot of those strong troops looked very similar.

    Under-manned, maybe?

    You frowned as you strummed your way to the end of your warm-up.

    Could be, could be.

    You finished up the little warm-up ditty and stretched out your back, feeling a bit hungry, business was on the slow side today, that underlying sense of distraction growing thicker.

    Thump.

    You opened one eyelined eye to look at the thick bundle lying in the middle of your case/tip jar, above it, its apparently donor stared at you blankly.

    She (He?) was quite pale, dark hair brushing over delicate features and draping down their neck. They, similar to you, were dressed a bit strangely, some sort of pink house-dress draped over too-thin limbs.

    They blinked, but remained silent at your regard, scarcely breathing but for the motion of the dress, in and out.

    What the hell was this?

  5. #5
    Cpl. Bernard Incendio
    District 13, Anchorage


    My breath hitches as Waters calls me out, my body seizing as I come to attention. Ever the good soldier
    (But not good enough to save them), my answer is immediate: “They are not sufficient, sir.”

    And they never will be.

    “If possible, I’d like to request a heavier dosage from medbay. I haven't been feeling well as of late.” And isn’t that the understatement of the year. Part of me just wants to grab her by the shoulder and scream ‘No Sergant, I am not alright. I’m a failure and I’ll never be alright again!’

    But I am a soldier of Firebreak. If suppressants don’t work, I’ll find another way. I must find another way. Fingernails dig into the palm of my hand and I have to suppress a sudden urge for liquor. ‘Later,’ I promise myself within the confines of my mind. ‘When I’m off duty, and nobody is counting on me. When nobody will see me.

    Like it or not, I'm the Hero of Anchorage. My life is a beacon to the people. A symbol that they need. My problems are nothing compared to the Greater Good, my Duty, so I bottle them away. There’s prolly a proverb in there involving pressure and explosions but I’ve managed well enough. At the very least I can manage until the Bird is no more.

    “Aside from that I’m fine, Sergeant. I am fit to fight and more than prepared for my next assignment.” Because HECATE needs me to be. Because the people need me to be. Because the Sergeant needs me to be. Because I need me to be.

    Silently, I wait for the Sergeant’s response. For whatever suppressants she orders me to take. To go wherever she needs me. District 14 and all of its problems? It was always in need of more Firebreak patrols. Or perhaps a ‘vacation’ detail in one of the inner districts like 7?

    Because good soldiers follow orders.

    Because this is where I can do the most good.

    Because I need to avenge them.
    Spoiler:

  6. #6
    James Volhard (Zurvan)
    Anchorage, District 7

    "Gonna be another win for me huh. My luck just can't lose today."

    Or so James said, proudly displaying a wide ass smirk on his face.

    As far as cards go, this hand isn't too bad. There's better pairs out there for sure, but it could've been a lot worse too. Of course, the actual cards mattered little to him.

    The cards are only the beginning. Anyone can react to the hand they've been given and react, but that's not how this game is really played.

    The real game, that is, is the mental art of fucking with your opponents. If you can figure out what other people are thinking, the cards don't even matter anymore.

    Time to play the game.

    "So what's it looking like for you Ol' Dobbles, have your stiff claws managed to snatch something good this time? Or are you going to blame me for cheating again?"

    Probably the most trustworthy guy at the table. He's a good sort, even if he makes himself hard to like with his whining. Still, there's something to say about a guy that doesn't question too much that doesn't concern him. Nice and easy, not looking for trouble. Not the toughest opponent on the table to crack, but not keeping an eye on him regardless would be a careless mistake.

    "And what about you, Jenny? You willing to take your chances with that hand? Or are you deep down as much of a wreck as this bloke here."

    Juliet, or maybe it was Janet? While she may appear to be your average person, appearances can be deceiving. She's easily the challenger that's harder to get a hold on, and therefore should be the one to look out for most. But...

    "Yeah you. You're looking awful shifty my man, what'd you do to look like such a mess? You hiding from someone or something?"

    ...this guy right here, he's the one that deserves attention the most. The wildcard. He could well be a rookie, unsure what to do now that he's gotten here. Who knows, maybe he only drew some really crappy cards.

    Or maybe he's laying low, having lost control before and praying in his heart that this place won't attract unneeded attention.

    Too bad.

    "You can tell me you know, I love a good story. And you my friend, you look like you really need to let a story off your chest."

  7. #7
    A Dragon Once More Draconic's Avatar
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    Approaching Anchorage

    There was no way to go but forward. Chipper had been a nice companion, but sending her back into the wild was inevitable. She might have been a squirrel…or… well… a squirrelly thing… but she was still a brushfire. The poor thing would probably get shot by a Firebreak soldier. Heartless machines. No, there were supposed to be actual human beings in those suits of armor, but jeez, they sure could have fooled her.

    She sighed.

    There was no use thinking like that. They couldn’t all be bad people, could they? She just couldn’t understand how they could possibly be so cruel? Was it cruelty? Did they think they were doing something good by killing and kidnapping other people who were just trying to live their lives? No, they must have thought of it some other way. If they thought they were doing something like that, there was no way they would do it.

    …was there?

    It brought to mind something that Elis had told her once, when she asked why they didn’t live somewhere more hospitable:

    “We live here because a meager life in a small berg like this is better than a suppressed existence in a proper city.”

    There was a connection there. She was sure of it, but she just couldn’t figure out what it was. …It’d definitely turn out to be something super obvious.

    …suppressed… suppressed…

    This was pointless. She stopped straining herself, and she felt the beginnings of a headache start to ebb away. The only way she could get a definitive answer to what they were thinking would be to personally ask a member of Firebreak. Dangerous? Probably. She didn’t have a firm grasp of what it meant to be Promethean, just that she had a strange ability and that Firebreak didn’t like her. But she still wanted to know.

    How would she go about it though? Maybe she could catch one off duty and get them talking? She could save the part where she punched them in the face for the possibility in which they gave her a terrible answer. Of course, regardless of what that answer was, ultimately, she still had to take them down. She really hoped that she wouldn’t feel like getting to know her hypothetical Firebreak ‘friend.’ That would be awkward.

    Her attention was drawn back to the city ahead.

    Thalia didn’t really know why she felt drawn to Anchorage. Maybe it was just one of the few places she'd heard about from the others. Maybe she just wanted to see what a city was like, and it was the closest. And she couldn't deny that she was getting tired. And just because she could sleep in the snow — potentially at least — didn't mean it was a good idea. It looked like most of the aggressive wildlife had either died or fled with the Firebird's most recent advent, but the ones that had been able to hide, or bury themselves underground were still about. She didn't want to run the risk of waking up to some scavenger gnawing on her arm if she could avoid it.

    On that note, actually, her pack was getting pretty heavy. She needed to go through her stuff and see if she had collected anything she didn't need. She had never been to a city before. At least, not one that actually had lots of people in it. Or more than ten, even. Maybe there would be a place where she could trade stuff.

    She hadn't been especially close with her neighbors, but she couldn't help but worry about them. She really hoped that the people she hadn't found were okay. At least alive. Where had Firebreak even taken them? Another rush of savage fury thrilled through her and then receded like the tide. She'd beat them one way or another.

    "Oh, right…"

    She wouldn't exactly be able to use her powers once she arrived at the city. It'd be nice if she could find some means of self-defense. There weren't a lot of trees nearby though. She probably was better off looking for something in the city. If she couldn't find an abandoned piece of scrap, she could probably trade for one.

    Thalia briefly considered trying to wait for a drone to return and try to follow it, but that would just attract suspicion. She'd definitely get noticed. She didn't want to stir up trouble. Err… Not yet, at least.

    The only thing to do was to keep trudging along the path that would take her into the city.
    Last edited by Draconic; February 3rd, 2020 at 10:31 PM.

  8. #8
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Twelveseal's Avatar
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    Rada
    Location: District 14 - Streets; Anchorage
    Time: To steal a watch.
    Date: Not Frabjous Day, 2055
    Mood: Mildly Annoyed (Shut up, it’s cold.)


    What are the odds this guy is a pedobear? Pretty good. Probably.


    Rada sighed, feeling tired and frustrated. It wasn't like this was enough to make her mad, but this guy wasn't entirely wrong. She didn't feel great.


    Things had been rough since they'd been given the Bird. People displaced. Bolt holes gone or watched.


    As it was, the streets were too crowded, tensions too high. She needed time to look around. Having some nosy creeper following her around wouldn't help.


    It didn't help that this guy sounded like he was here to observe the situation. He didn't talk like a local. Probably not an instrument in that case. This guy's gonna be a problem…


    Now, how to handle this?


    I guess for now I'll play along.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rodrigo

    "You alright? Got anybody to hang out with? You look a bit sick."

    "Mhm. Just separated. And I'm not sick. Just annoyed. I trying to find people I know, but there's so many..."


    I'll just follow this guy around until I find someone I know out here.


    "If you want to help, I don't mind."
    Last edited by Twelveseal; January 12th, 2020 at 08:06 PM.
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  9. #9
    アカシャの蛇 The Serpent of Akasha RacingeR's Avatar
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    Sean Houston
    District 2 - Killian Manning School – Edmonton


    Tac. Tac. Tac.

    The sound of his pen hitting the desk in a repetitive rhythm invaded the empty room.

    Usually these habits in the students were suppressed, either through discipline or slightly higher doses. As the one supposed to be the representation of HECATE’s rotten ideals, such actions were quite unsightly in him.

    Well, it was just yet another sign of the cogs in the machine coming loose. Just one of many. Some time, sooner or later, someone would notice the signs of that accursed medicine not working on him, and would report him, and then the mother of all fights was going to shake Edmonton up. But until then, he needed to prepare and do his best to be at his strongest when the time came.

    Well, it was easy to say, but reality had proven quite frustrating. He remembered from history classes quite a lot about the old world, and he now understood quite well why movements that were meant to snap the chains of society had mostly failed and ended up absorbed by said society.

    Hell, the oppressive quality of today’s society made it hard to do much of anything: any movement that exposed his nature would strangle his nascent rebellion in the crib, which was enough to paralyze any plan he could execute by himself.

    Until today, his ambition had lacked even the inkling of a starting point. Well, until today, that is.

    This self-study list did indeed provide an opportunity he had never thought about before. He knew that to uproot the sickened foundations of this society, he had to start with the minds of the young, like himself, and these people would be very open to his ideas, if only he could find a way to start discreetly introducing them…

    Yes. This was good. At least it was a beginning. For the first time in what were probably years, he allowed himself a thin, somewhat stiff smile.

    But his brief moment of happiness was interrupted by unexpected words of concern.

    “Ah, miss Ainsworth.” Sean said twitching slightly in brief and quickly repressed surprise. “Please do come in.”

    While she did so, turning around to close the door, he quickly hid her file deeper within the pile.

    He wasn’t quite sure of why she had a file, in particular. By now, he had started to notice that, when picking his student council, he seemed to have instinctively picked alike souls. But what exactly had made this girl be considered a… case?

    Sean carefully left his pen on his desk, and changed his posture to a less relaxed one. Yet, when he spoke, his tone was pleasant and amiable. “I was merely lost in thought.” He explained while gesturing for her to sit down. “What about you, miss Ainsworth? How are you doing?”

    He had made his career to the presidency of the school with his pleasant manner and his ability to get along with practically everyone, even the students in the self-study class. A combination of a likeable personality with the robotlike efficiency today’s society expected of everyone. That was the Houston brand, so to speak. So, for now, he’d just frame this ‘covert investigation’ as a normal conversation.

    Furthermore, he had to admit he was quite interested. If one thought about the subject, Patricia’s words had been surprising. After all, in today’s society that (in Sean’s completely unbiased opinion, of course) practically fetishized the lack of emotion, words of concern like those were a bit off.

    Well, he could be reading too much into it, but he really wished he could bring at least someone to his side soon.


    quotes
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike1984 View Post
    Besides, I don't see what's so terrible about looting anyway. It's only property, they're not actually harming anyone.
    Quote Originally Posted by lantzblades View Post
    when I say hero I don't mean hero in the spirit sense. I mean a morally grounded, good natured person who doesn't slaughter innocent people. No such person exists in the Nasuverse.
    [00:12] <~Katie> i can't defy my origin
    [00:12] <~Katie> of gay memes

    [16:15] <~Katie> lesbians has always been my gimmick and i will exploit it to the fullest

    [22:56] <@Sei> airen is pegging hero this time
    [22:56] <@Sei> for once airen isn't the uke
    [22:56] <@Kuroyuki> I thought Air was the Woman in the Relationship?
    [22:56] <@Airen> Yeah I kinda thought I was the girl too!

  10. #10
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Cpl. Bernard Incendio
    District 13, Anchorage


    For all that discipline brings on silence when focusing and experienced, it is a non-silent silence, just below hearing there's breathing, the scuffs of feet on the ground, shifting weight and balance.

    After you finish speaking, the silence becomes heavy and suddenly unbearable, unseen eyes covered by visors bore into you.

    Waters' eyes narrow and her lips purse like she'd bitten into a lemon, in a free-er world, she'd be cursing you out or belting you across the jaw for being a mule-headed moron. But in the frost-swept landscape, so muffled by ash, she merely looks at you measuringly, Minos before the Dead.

    The silence goes on for a moment, her gaze is opaque, weighed down by cold decision making.

    "Take a B-Grade, you're my Six. Roberts, you're Bravo Lead. Incendio, you're Alpha-Two now, acknowledge."

    The suppressants used by the society you live in are structured in a series of grades, rating from Delta to Alpha, anything beyond Charlie grade being restricted to official use by Firebreak or by governmental action.

    A Bravo-Grade suppressant would, for most people, result in a cool, zen-like focus, without emotion at the cost of inhibiting most of your ability to act independently of orders, hence the need for a minder or director for your actions, typically the command level position, or, in cases of high stress, a back-line operator over the TACNET with command and control duties.

    In this case, Elizabeth Waters would be your minder, even more so than she would take nominal command over the rest of your two fire-teams.

    You shift, a pang of guilt running through you like a rocket.

    Team 2 was yours, but not now.

    The heavy eyes of the shorter woman fade away from you, something deep back within them, unreadable.

    "We'll be arriving on the scene in ten, make your last adjustments, briefing is on-site."

    James Volhard
    District 7, Anchorage


    Heinrich Dobbles frowns at you, jowls quavering in his displeasure, the old veteran of the tables, his consistency and certain integrity lent him a reputation among the gamblers of Sweetheart Seven.

    "Never should've let you play with the big boys," He says, with a voice like gravel, "Now you're a bigger pain than the ones I already got."

    A delicate sniff from the girl, "There is no need to be so uncivilized simply because you lack confidence, Monsieur Pierrot, simply lay down your cards and accept the inevitable."

    Her voice and diction gives her away, Quebecois, probably money too from how up her own unblemished ass she is.

    She smiles sweetly at you, a dichotomy with the pure vinegar that dripped from her lips, "Do try to make things interesting for me, darling?"

    The last guy, Sweaty, doesn't respond, not vocally, at least.

    There's a grunt from deep in his chest, thin and reedy, like a whine.

    Dobbles gives him the side-eye, "You need to go see the medics about that one, boss."

    Sweaty mumbles something under his breath, then speaks up, his voice strained, irritated, "Leave me alone, fucking walrus, I'm fine. Don't give me that false pity over there either, pretty boy. Just going to play this round, and it'll be fine, just fine."

    He trails off near the end, small, bleary eyes flitting between the center and his hand.

    Hm.

    Smells like bad luck.

    This guy's easier to read then a picture book.

    Dobbles skirts his chair back ever so slightly, craning his neck around to look for the floor boss in between bets.

    The girl looks as calm and unruffled as ever, smiling even.

    Calls and checks go out around, and you are pleased to see your pair rise to a three of a kind and another pair.

    Good fortune for you.

    Dobbles finally catches the boss's eye and jerks his head, the vested man taking one look and veering sharply over, walking briskly towards the four of you.

    Sweaty looks hollow, he's licking at his lips.

    The girl is as prim as ever, but she's watching Sweaty, an almost predatory look in her eye.

    There's one more card to flip.

  11. #11
    Cpl. Bernard Incendio
    District 13, Anchorage

    I quash the pang of guilt just as fast as it rises. Losing command of Team 2 was… unfortunate, but for the best. Me leading any sort of team is just a disaster waiting to happen. It’s for the best to take a break from leadership; at least until I get a better handle on my emotions. It was my failure that got Team 2 slaughtered, and maybe being able to watch Waters will teach me exactly how I fucked up.

    Or so I tell myself. My Team 2 is dead. I barely even know most of the transfers, a fact made blinding clear to me every morning.

    Taking my suppressants, I’m just barely able to stifle a sigh of relief as the medication takes the worst of the edge off. In the back of mind I know that this shouldn’t just be “taking the edge off.” These are B-class drugs; the type of suppressants that turn people into emotionless husks. I’ll have to act even more than usual. One slip and it’s over for me.

    My voice measured and robotic, I respond to my new team lead. “Acknowledged, Alpha Lead.”

    An outsider could never have picked up on it, but as a fellow soldier I could feel her utter disappointment in me. Another pang of guilt hits me as I realize she really didn’t want to order this.

    Tough shit, Eliza. We’re soldiers, and soldiers make the hard-but-correct decisions. Were our situations reversed, I’d have given the same order.

    Taking position behind Waters, I follow as she leads the way.
    Last edited by Eru Erufu; January 20th, 2020 at 12:57 AM.
    Spoiler:

  12. #12
    [DA YO intensifies] arkturus's Avatar
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    Liz McLain (Ark)
    District 6 - Mag Station 7 - Edmonton

    Liz blinked in disbelief.

    It was a slow day, the cold and the suppressants had hardened the hearts of the crowd and kept their purses closed. The increased security didn’t help either. Nothing like several squads of armed Breakers to sour the mood. A show of generosity could lead to suspicion; if a heart was spurred to give then it was a heart that needed another dose of suppressants. Liz was used to the scrutiny--you had to if you wanted to survive in the music biz--but she knew that the last thing most people wanted was to draw the attention of the Breakers.

    Which is why it was such a surprise when someone dropped a huge wad of cash into her case.

    She looked up and was greeted with a sight for sore eyes. Pale skin and soft features framed by dark, raven hair. A slender build with an air of fragility, like they could be blown away with a simple breeze. A beauty that transcended gender.

    Fuck, they’re hot.

    Liz shifted her guitar and leaned in, giving a wink.

    “Hey, there beautiful. Did it hurt when you fell from heaven? Because I haven't seen an angel like you before."

    Jesus, that was awful.

    Attempting to hide her embarrassment, Liz coughed and ran her fingers over the strings of her guitar, producing a few melodious notes. It was a familiar motion, one that she repeated countless times to warm up her fingers.

    “Got any requests? It’s the least I can do.”
    Last edited by arkturus; January 20th, 2020 at 01:42 AM.
    <Airen> I play hetero every once in awhile
    Spoiler:
    <~Katie> dude who gives a fuck about girls being gay, sometimes girls aren't gay and that decision should be respected

    Spoiler:
    [12:21.40] that might be a top tier post[12:21.45] frantic[12:21.47] post of the month, even[12:21.48] this right here[12:21.49] is MC [12:21.56] johnny has nothing on this dude[12:22.00] he's the MC of the nisio half[12:22.12] so wait[12:22.15] [ ] is, after all, my rival character[12:22.16] am i the gag heroine[12:22.20] yes

  13. #13
    James Volhard
    Anchorage, District 7

    Quote Originally Posted by Jane, or maybe Juliet? View Post
    "Do try to make things interesting for me, darling?"
    James gave the girl a cheeky wink. If nothing else she's the only one at the table who is competent enough to play with.

    While his hand become stronger, it could still be better. It's not impossible that she has a strong hand as well, and that last card might be all that she needs.

    But then again, the same could be said for James.

    One opportunity remained. One final card, capable of utterly changing the victor of this little game.

    "Just fine huh. The only time when people say things will be 'just fine' is when things are most certainly not fine. My advice buddy, don't get caught."

    There's no doubt in James' mind that Sweaty reeks of trouble. And while trouble isn't something he's looking for, it's not his problem as of now. In a city that's all too cold and stale, Sweaty is a fun distraction.

    "What do you say Jewel, that look in your eyes looks like you could devour poor Sweats over there. If you really want to up the interest here, wanna make a li'l side bet on this wreck's situation? I'm thinking... pissed off the wrong kind people. And now you got yourself a big debt that needs to be paid. Fast."

    Truth be told the kid's situation didn't really matter. This side bet was more to gauge what kind of person the Quebecois girl really is. The look she's giving is somewhat concerning.

    But the side bet was also done simply because it's enjoyable to make more bets. A nice way to up the excitement.

    "And Heinrich please, stop spoiling the fun will ya. I know you love having me as much as I love having you here. Now, it's time for the final card. You better not start bitching that 'Just fine' over there threw you off game."

    And what better way to up the excitement than to take that final step, and see if the last card is the game changer.

    Four of a kind, show yourself to me.

  14. #14
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Thalia Vault
    Approaching Anchorage


    You kept on your current path, shouldering your burdens both internal and external as easily as you always had. Occasionally other drones would pass by, passing over you, distant from you, near and far alike as you pressed along towards the city of lights in the distance.

    Gradually, Anchorage proper began to slowly come into view, a domed city, like a snowglobe you'd seen when you were younger, encased behind a encased shielding that you'd heard was supposed to shield the denizens within from dangerous Brushfires and filtering the consistently smoke-filled air.

    Of course, it wasn't very safe anymore, given the recent attack. You hadn't seen the great Firebird when it made its assault, but you'd seen the scars of its passage marring the landscape, seen the ghost of its presence in how the scattered groups of people clustered together, but then flinched away when they became too comfortable.

    You frowned, spotting the great crack in the dome, illuminated in the perpetual gloom by work lights.

    Humans naturally clustered together in times of stress, safety in numbers, it only made sense. But that same closeness, the connection, the stress and relief combined in one, emotional overflow...

    There was so much fear in the world these days.

    Fear keeps people like this, makes them lash out against possible threats to that life, because it's kept them safe.

    You clenched your fists.

    Fear has done nothing but hurt you.

    Fear is what shattered your peaceful life.

    Fear is what is probably making them approach you now, your ears picking up the muffled hums of their jet-bikes even from this distance.

    It seems those innocuous drones hadn't just been peacefully ignoring you.

    Of course, it made sense, if you consider it from a peaceful angle, a lone traveler making their way to the city, just like any other refugee.

    But still, did they see the Brushfires, how they avoided you?

    Might they know?

    The lights of their bikes crested the hill, moving swiftly, as was necessity. Even in the wake of an overwhelming threat, technology marched on.

    Five of them, a standard team, you remembered, unwelcome memories glinting like knives in the rear of your mind.

    Armed and ready, arms lashed to the sides and mounted on their backs, blank, implacable visages facing you.

    They see you.

    Two of them slow, stopping maybe 15-20 yards away from you, the others pass, and you watch as they slow behind you.

    You are surrounded.

    One in front of you, the luminescent emblem drawing your eye, moves a bit closer.

    "Afternoon, Ma'am. We picked you up on the drone feed not too long ago, saw you were traveling alone. Are you alright? Do you need assistance?"

    There's a pause.

    "Are you feeling well? Any strange symptoms?"

    The modulated voice's diction is stilted, awkward, not used to doing this, uncomfortable.

    The back of your neck itches.

    What do you do?

  15. #15
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Rada
    Location: District 14 - Streets; Anchorage


    The man, 'Rodrigo', sighs theatrically, pressing a hand to his head, shaking it ruefully.

    "Ay dios mio, people just going and leaving a senorita all alone in the big city like this, puts my heart on edge, let me tell you."

    Then, just as suddenly, his hand spreads across his chest, expression gallant, almost criminally smug.

    "But never fear, this wandering vaquero will put your heart at ease and guide you as gallantly as the Don himself. Not even the devil himself could stand in my way!"

    He laughs, boldly and unabashed, drawing uncertain and uncomfortable looks from those around you, not used to such open displays of emotion.

    Some even look faintly envious.

    But he swirls, pointing boldly in a direction you are quite certain he picked at random, scarfs a fluttering in his wake.

    "Vamanos!"

    He stands there, picturesque for a moment, then something occurs to him and the wind fades from his proverbial sails a hair.

    "Oh, right. Who exactly are you looking for, chica?"

    His eyes glint, "A boyfriend?"

  16. #16
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Liz McLain (Ark)
    District 6 - Mag Station 7 - Edmonton


    They blinked at you for a moment, eyes bleary.

    "Oh, um, okay?"

    The voice is a light tenor, a bit scratchy and quiet, but clearly (probably) masculine, he looks unsure as if to be pleased or a little upset or just confused at your blatant come-on.

    "I liked you, your, uh, music there, um."

    He(?) shifts awkwardly, tugging at the house-dress/robe thing awkwardly, and now that you're taking him in closer, its clearly ill-fitting.

    "Just decided to leave a little thing there, aha, it's, y'know, nothing big, I just, ah..."

    This, you begin to surmise, is not a people-person.

    It's okay though, because you are, and that's what matters, right?

    "sure though ok i guess," He mutters quietly.

    He glances around a bit, looking furtive, wanting to hear more music, but looking like a guy with trouble on his mind and coming his way.

    Fine, pale features have lit up bright red and he's growing increasingly nervous, "Er, um, ah... I, I really like, uhhh..."

    He swallows on a dry throat, then blurts out his request to the concerned and judgmental stares of those around.

    "Despacito!"

  17. #17
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Sean Houston
    District 2 - Killian Manning School – Edmonton


    Patricia looks at you, a bit askance, but nods along agreeably, "Oh, I suppose I'm well enough. I-"

    She frowns, a minor thing, "I suppose I'm a bit uncomfortable with having to go and see these poor people, being so unable to control themselves, even with assistance, it's..."

    Her arms hunch up, cradling herself.

    "It's a bit scary, thinking that you could just end up like that, completely outside of your control."

    She nibbles a bit at her lip, brows twitching together for a moment, then blinks it away, rotating her shoulders like she's under a heavy weight.

    "Don't you think so? I mean, I wouldn't think you would, giving your position and your family, not to, like, assume anything or," She shakes her head, "I'm making a fool of myself, thinking too much about this."

    She smiles.

    "Peace without Passion, right?"

    She lingers near the door, her eyes occasionally twitching to one of the cameras you know is there.

  18. #18
    A Dragon Once More Draconic's Avatar
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    Approaching Anchorage


    This could turn out… really badly.

    The lights seemed to be pointed directly int her eyes. It was her imagination. She just felt self-conscious with all these eyes on her. She didn’t— never mind, of course she knew why. She did, after all, have something to hide.

    Of course, there was that nagging sense of curiosity. These were people. The one speaking to her at least sounded decidedly non-mechanical. Still, for now, at least, better to be safe than sorry. Even if she could probably alter the momentum of a chaingun’s-worth of bullets, this was a fight she’d rather not have if she could avoid it. And she definitely could.


    “Huh? Oh! Um, thank you for your concern,” she answered. She hadn’t meant to sound so melancholic. Still, it hurt not to understand. “Nothing strange. I’ve just been walking for a long time, and I’m tired.” That, of course, wasn’t what they were asking. It was probably a veiled threat. By ‘strange symptoms,’ he obviously meant to ask if she was the type of person they could help, or the type of person that needed to be killed or dragged off to who-knows where.


    “Sorry… if I seem upset. It’s been a long day, and I recently… lost a friend…”


    It was half-true, at least.


    “If you need to accompany me back to the city, I would appreciate the escort, at least. And I’ll cooperate if you need me to go anywhere first. Uh, actually, though, I would like to know if there’s anywhere that I can go to get a piece of legal ID? I don’t remember what happened to mine. I lost track of it …probably over a year ago now… and I lived in a really small town. It’d be nice if I could get it replaced.”


    She might have some trouble filling out the paperwork, though. After all, she didn’t even know her own age or birthday, nor did she have a place of residence. Or line of communication. She didn't even know how tall she was. She could probably cross those bridges when she came to them though.
    Last edited by Draconic; February 3rd, 2020 at 10:30 PM.

  19. #19
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Corporal Bernard Incendio

    Waters, Eliza, nods in response to your affirmation, making brief eye-to-visor contact with your counterpart (and replacement), the aforementioned Roberts.

    He shifts in place just-so, a light tenor replying with a "I copy.", and though you can't quite hear it in his voice, the certain sense of Esprit-de-corps you've garnered through your years of service leaves you with a distinct impression of discomfort and nervousness.

    How long has he even been in?

    You didn't recognize any of the names.

    A low creeping anxiety settles into your limbs, muffled by the suppressant, something that you're thankful for, lest you come under more scrutiny than you already are.

    The troop-carrier, or 'Breaker Bus' as it is colloquially known, hums along beneath you, only the barest shift here and there giving away the brisk nature of your travel.

    The awkward silence fades, slowly, as the familiar non-silence of pre-deployment settles in amongst you all once more. You, carefully, do nothing but sit in an approximation of peaceful, mildly-addled calm, Waters settling across from you, ash-blonde hair swept back into a firm bun, severe and restrained, like her expression.

    She considers you for a moment, something shifting in her expression, before she lets out a puff of breath from her nose and shakes her head.

    The arrival comes quickly, heralded by Waters placing the mask of Firebreak over her pale features once more, a motion you obligingly mirror, as is expected of you.

    "ETA in 60, so here's the sit-rep," Her voice tinged with a synthetic rasp, your commander comes to her feet, "We're relief for the detail around the re-construction around Site Hotel, Brush have already been sited in the area, and resistance is not expected, but guaranteed. Current ROE as as-normal, no signs of organized assault, and the area's been quarantined for a week."

    "It is currently 1710, in 3 hours, we're joining up with the other teams in place at Foxtrot, Golf and Juliet and pushing forward, extinguishing a few scouted hives per drone recon."

    She murmurs something under her breath and your visor lights up with faint azure, white lettering dashing across it briefly, before coalescing into a small map of the area.

    Two points of light appear, one a dull gold, the other a humble-looking green.

    "Alpha, you're on me, on Entry Gold, Bravo, you take Green."

    Sergeant Waters glances around, slowly sweeping her gaze over the members of each team.

    "You all know your roles, Peace."

    ""Peace,"" The lot of you echo in chorus.
    ----
    District 13, Site Hotel

    Firebreak organized the aftermath of Firebird's assault on the city into Sites, ranging along the phonetic alphabet, as per usual, Alpha being the west-most, Zulu being the east.

    PHOENIX had come at a western curve, digging a parabola out of the city proper before your fellows had chased it off, finally shattering the damned thing about 30 miles inland.

    Hotel wasn't quite the worst of it all, Mike was the worst of it, as you knew all too well, but it was the closest the reconstruction efforts had gotten, you'd probably meet with your opposite numbers in Sierra or Tango in another few days, by your best guess.

    The site wasn't as bad as you'd remembered the chaos of the attack being, sanitation and filtration having reduced the ever-present noxious burning flesh-scent of Brush to almost nothing, but the clean, ordered structure of the construction site contrasted harshly with what was on the exterior.

    You stood, like the marionette you were expected to be as Waters conversed with the CO of the out-going team, his suit marred black in a few spots, but his voice steady, unbothered, despite the subtle tells of stress and exhaustion that you noticed.

    You listened to the debrief, nothing you hadn't already noted from Waters, and cast an eye out to the surroundings.

    Burnt skeletons of buildings where they weren't simply reduced to ash, light-posts wilting like dying flowers, embers glowing with that constant seething aura.

    You could see the sky.

    Well, no you couldn't, no one had seen it in years.

    You could see where the sky was supposed to be, anyway, supposedly.

    The site itself was busy, bustling with drones and men alike, pounding rivets, drilling holes, nuts and bolts and things you didn't know the first thing about.

    They had a job, you had a job, and it was to help them do their job by making sure they didn't get-
    screaming melting like ice cream flesh to muscle to bone to nothing at all ashes to ashes can't you see?

    "Corporal Incendio."

    You blinked.

    Waters was regarding you, that strange something you couldn't identify early clinging to her posture.

    "We're taking the right, come on. Suppressant shouldn't have sent you that out of it."

  20. #20
    闇色の六王権 The Dark Six Twelveseal's Avatar
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    Rada



    Location: District 14 - Streets; Anchorage
    Time: To find an adult.
    Date: Not Frabjous Day, 2055
    Mood: Mildly More Annoyed (Shut up, it’s cold and this guy’s a creeper.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodrigo
    "Ay dios mio, people just going and leaving a senorita all alone in the big city like this, puts my heart on edge, let me tell you."
    This guy’s really not from around here…

    “It doesn’t bother me much. It’s just troublesome when it’s something like this.”

    So long as you know people, you’re never really alone if you don’t want to be. I just happen to like it when people leave me alone. The real problem is that I have no idea where anyone is anymore with the damage and reorganization going on… Even without this massive number of new people here, the destruction’s caused some internal displacement.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodrigo
    "But never fear, this wandering vaquero will put your heart at ease and guide you as gallantly as the Don himself. Not even the devil himself could stand in my way!"
    This guy…
    Rada quirked an eyebrow, a slight tremor of concern moving through her mind.

    “Are you…”

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodrigo
    "Vamanos!"
    “... properly taking your medication?”

    Quote Originally Posted by Rodrigo
    "Oh, right. Who exactly are you looking for, chica? A boyfriend?"
    Odds this guy is a pedobear just rose exponentially.
    I hate it when this happens...

    “...”
    Rada sighed.

    “No boyfriend. No girlfriend. Just the usual people who would normally have been living and working here if the Bird hadn’t shown up. Now it’s just kind of… a sea of people. The locals aren’t where they normally would be…”

    Everyone’s routines are off, there’s all these people everywhere…And some of them might not have made it.

    “Basically, I’m just trying to figure out how everything’s changed, who’s alive, who isn’t, and where the ones that are wound up in this mess.”
    Asha Records
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    [16:43] <Twelveseal> Phallus in wonderland sounds like some bad loli-rape KC fanfic
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