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Thread: Astronomika - Shooting Down Falling Stars (IC)

  1. #4401
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Well don't go all easy on us just yet, Mr. Kennedy - okay, no, that's too old-sounding."

    Calling him Michael feels weird though. Especially since there's apparently another, more murderous Michael running around. What to do then...? Okay, time to take a page out of a certain annoying girl's book.

    "You can't be too soft on us, alright, Mickey? I might seem put-together now, but that's just 'cus you caught me on a good day. If we'd met on Wednesday I might be giving you the stink-eye and calling you an awful human. The other students have their own hang-ups too. Just 'cus we're trying the whole 'be part of society again' thing doesn't mean we're there yet. It'll take time and we're gonna be a pain in the ass for most of it. So, uh, consider this a preemptive apology if you ever catch me getting into the wrong kind of trouble. N-not that I'm gonna try to or anything."

    "... The real Vier Wolff died a long time ago. So either she's seeing shadows or the past, or we've got an impostor with particularly poor taste in our hands, on top of everything else."
    "Hm..."

    Vier Wolff. Truthfully, I don't know much about her. Nothing firsthand, only hearsay. The closest we got was playing with Tonkori in the sand last week... and

    An impostor, huh... the thought is worrying. There's someone among us, killing in secret. Could it be her...?

    No, too hasty a conclusion. On both ends.

    "Well I've never seen Twilight Zone, but Vier's a classmate of mine. So if you wanna talk to her, just wait after school."

    I stand, separating myself from the smoke, and stretch my arms. With a twist of the handle, the dragon's motor purrs, taking me around to behind the pair of graves, staring at the pondering sheriff like the third of his trio of counselors. With a snap the handle compacts, and I lean forward, elbows on it.

    "Couldn't it just be that the younger Vier is named after the older Vier? Like Vier Junior. Maybe they used to know each other or something. Could even be a connection. Maybe your deputy and the Vier I go to school with both knew the original Vier Wolff. Calling impostor's too soon, right? You gotta do an investigation first! And that means-."

    My finger points dramatically from the heavens.

    "-your deputy should just talk to her!"

  2. #4402
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - Warehouse 2
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    I watched with an eyebrow raised as the small robot skittered down the hallway and out of view, only so that a few moments later the barely audible sound of an electric zap would break the silence, followed by To-Totesh's satisfied nod. Just how resourceful was she, and where did she get the money to build all this in the first place? All these metals, electronics and other delicate devices certainly didn't just grow on trees.

    Well, maybe something to wonder about if we ever get out of this mess.

    With the camera sabotaged, we delved deeper into the underground 'prison' - much to the surprise of the man I've seen in the vision, who was apparently (and understandably) expecting his captors to return instead of us. Meanwhile, while we were already quite aware of who we would find here...Just who exactly was he?

    "We're from Pinefall, though that's not particularly important," I said as I stepped closer to the bars separating him from us, "We've seen what happened to you and came to help...Apparently just in time too."

    The way he looked, he must have been locked in here for a few days now, and no matter how hard someone tried they weren't going to live too long without food, let alone water. But then, his captors likely would have come to torture and kill him before that happened anyways.

    "Though, before we let you out, I'd like to ask a few questions. Just to make sure that we can trust your word, and know who we are dealing with."

    After all, my enemy's enemy is not necessarily my friend, especially not here where everyone seems to be at each others' throats for their own sakes...

    "You can have this while doing so," I continued as I tossed him a small bottle of water and some food through the gap between the bars, "If you deserve to be locked in there, then the Einherjar is going to treat you just the same later, and otherwise, it makes things easier. Now..."

    My stare softened for a moment as I shifted my eyes onto Pyry;

    "Mind taking a quick look around in the meantime? We shouldn't stay for long, but a quick look should already give us a better idea about what this place is."

    Then, they were back on the stranger, with the momentary warmth in my expression replaced by the usual, almost cold blankness.

    "To get to the point, it would be nice to hear who you are, and why the Einherjar put you in here. Then, if you have anything to do with a DDS patient who escaped the hospital a couple of days ago and what the syndrome means in general - along with anything you think could help your case."


    I crossed my arms in front of my chest as I kept my attentive, unblinking gaze on the prisoner;

    "Might be asking for a lot, but probably not as much as the Einherjar, and it's either escaping with us unharmed, or getting killed by them."

    Perhaps not the most selfless, nicest behaviour. Someone like Liana, those who pretend to be 'heroes' likely would have released him without a question, and put their blind faith in a stranger just because they were obviously in need of help. But would that been the right thing to do? Was I wrong for being rational?

    Eh...

    What did it matter, anyways.

  3. #4403
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Elise Pelltier & Lucille Faraday
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "... Miss Lucille. I... I knew my brother. Maybe not as well as I hoped, but I knew him."

    Samuel's voice was, for a moment, far more frail than it had been so far. The dark shadows underneath his eyes told of just how many thoughts must have been running in the young man's head, and just how much the situation he was now in must have been taking its toll on him. Nevertheless, he had soldiered on, focused on what was immediate and present. However, beneath it all...

    ... It was doubtful he even had had the time to process the fate of his brother properly.

    "What we must always remember that ghosts like him... they're our worst, destructive, negative emotions burned to the film reel of this world. The Michael we saw last night, that dybbuk... he was the sum of his worst traits. He held nothing of the conflict or the good he still had in him while alive," Samuel continued. "I'm not saying it excuses or absolves anything. But if you look at it that way, what he said at the very end..."

    His eyes gazed deep into Lucille's own.

    "--- I believe you helped him find that peace already, even in the midst of his own worst nightmare."

    It was not much of a relief, even Samuel probably knew that - but it had to be said anyways. In times like these, when darkness was closing in all around them, finding that light, no matter how small, was especially important.

    "As for Sue, hm... she wasn't a regular inhabitant of this town. She came to visit her relatives every now and then, but it wasn't until she took over the shop that she became a permanent resident. Besides... I believe that Devon has changed quite a bit from back then. As for Isaac, finding him might be tough. From what I remember, he loves his motorcycle, however. You might be able to catch him at the gas station, or perhaps the junkyard," Samuel explained. "However, talking with that doppelganger might be a good idea. If she was mind-controlled, she might have been able to gleam some information from our enemies in turn. And information is exactly what we need at this po..."

    Suddenly, a frown passed by Samuel's face.

    "Information...?" He mumbled to himself, looking lost deep in a thought. "Information... VHS tape... tape... burnt... burnt information on a tape..."

    As if something had dawned on him, he lifted his eyes towards the two girls.

    "Excuse me, but this VHS tape? What if it's creation is not as complex as filming something and then bringing it to a next loop? What if..." Samuel paused for a moment, scratching his fluffy hair and searching for the right words. "... What if it was just the information that was brought over? And later burnt to a VHS tape?"

    He leaned a bit closer and hushed his voice.

    "--- Have either of you heard of thoughtography? Or, 'psychic photography'?" He asked. "It's a form of ESP that's not that 'powerful' on its own, but definitely has its applications... such as reconstructing memories on a picture or a film reel?"

    A troubled look shadowed the young man's face.

    "In other words... could the creator of this VHS tape be an esper?"




    Vivienne Bianchi
    Location: Owl's Nest - Dining Area
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Influential...? Hmm, I guess back in the day..." Rachel murmured, looking like she was half-lost in thought. "Besides, he's my uncle - not my dad. My... my parents aren't around anymore."

    A passing sting of sadness seemed to hit the girl.

    "A-anyways, I would do something if I could. But right now, it's just... well, I'm the heiress of a failing hotel. There's only so much I can do. And most of the old folks are too set in their ways to listen. Maybe when there's a passing of torch, if the town's not ruins and ghosts by that time..." the redhead continued, clicking her tongue. "I mean, this is my home! Sure, sure, it's a bit spooky and kinda sinister at times, plenty of weird folklore and urban legends, but... this was where I grew up. This is where all my friends are."

    Her hand clenched into a soft fist.

    "If it's up to me, if I get a chance, there's no way I'll let this town just fade away...!"

    Having said that, Rachel took a moment to calm down. Instead, she watched the unpleasant-looking man as he walked over to the stranger Vivienne had exchanged a few words with at the coffee station. Even without being close enough to hear, Vivienne could practically feel the snakeoil-salesman mannerisms of the smiling, fox-like government employy. The ashen-haired youth didn't seem to buy it, however, as he folded his arms across his chest and glared back, answering with single words or grunts. He was practically sending every signal imaginable that he was about to punch the fox-like man, but the latter only doubled his efforts.

    It was like a powder-keg waiting to explode.

    "... See there? I'm now absolutely sure that guy's a Kincaid. No way the air force guy would be brownnosing him like that if he wasn't," Rachel continued with a bit of a hushed voice. "It's been going on for a couple of years now... when Pinkerton arrived and started building that damn country club of his, he brought the air force with him. Said they had some other, big project they wanted to build. I guess it never amounted to anything since no new buildings been added as far as I know... but they're trying alright. Air force's always been interesting in our town for some reason, prowling like scavengers outside the town perimeter... and now they have their own. They've even tried to get my uncle to join them, but like I said - it's not happening."

    A bitter grin appeared on Rachel's face.

    "My uncle hates the air force as much, if not more, as Howard McLampet did. And that guy hated them a lot. I think he was this close to annexing the whole town to Canada or something decades ago," the girl said and chuckled a bit. "It was their charisma and the town's united front that kept the military boys out, but now...? My uncle's getting old. The town's dying. People are looking for any straws they can grasp, and Mr. Pinkerton and his country club are one. Too bad the ones owning most of the land are still Kincaids... and I doubt they're gonna sell either. As for why they're trying to get here..."

    Rachel was silent for a moment... and then shrugged.

    "Beats me. It could be about those old WW2 tunnels that are supposedly under the town - might be remnants of an old base there or something. Then again we're a former port, an important one, to the military. Maybe they wanna put up a camp or something. Then there's my uncle's obsession, that damned girl in the painting! I swear, that blockhead probably thinks the air force is after his imaginary girlfriend, the way he acts..." The girl said and sighed rather disappointedly. "The only thing I know for sure is that the one place those guys have gotten their claws on is that listening post out at the mountain side. And as to what they're using it for..."

    Again, another shrug.

    "... Who even knows? What's even worth of peeping on here? The town? The ocean? The sky?" She snorted. "Maybe they're listening to the birdies of the Ghostwood. Trying to catch some elusive cuckoo or something."




    Prushka
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Heh. I suppose you're right."

    Finishing his cigarette, the sheriff lifted himself up from the ground and dusted off his clothes. He drained the remains of his beer can as well and set what remained next to the two tombstones, as if for his father and uncle to share once they were left in peace. Then the older man looked over at Prushka, that same smile on his face - the smile of a man who, during lot of pressure and stress, had found a moment of quiet for himself.

    Even if it was spent talking with a loud kid.

    "There's lot of possibilities. I mean, look at me and my pops. He wasn't the most creative when it came to names," the sheriff said and nodded towards his father's gravestone. "Or maybe he felt that the pun hadn't ran its course yet. Well, whichever the case, it's not uncommon in this world for two people to share the same name. Hell... I think it's more common than some people realize. And bound to cause a lot of confusion at times."

    He nodded to himself.

    "I just hope that's the case with my deputy too. She seemed pretty sure of herself, but... maybe she's just getting distraught over a misunderstanding," the man continued. "You've got a point that the first thing to do is to investigate this properly... and that does mean talking to this other 'Vier Wolff.' Though, speaking of talking..."

    He turned around and looked over the gravestones, with a slightly raised eyebrow.

    "... I take it those are friends of yours? The tall guy and the..."

    He paused and blinked, in confusion.

    "... Err, what the hell is that?"

    The question was understandable. After all, what stood next to rather awkward-looking Ahti was... well... a giant, puffed-up owl. Or a costume of one, anyway.

    Still, it looked like the two of them had managed to finish their job.




    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - Warehouse 2
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    While Pyry nodded and started going through the room - with the help of the rest of the group - the man in the cell leaned forward and hastily grabbed the sandwich and the water bottle that Hisa had through the bars. He tore into the food, barely taking time to remove the plastic wrapping... and barely taking time to chew, as he soon started to choke. Moments later, he managed to ease the situation by washing the bites down with water. From there on out, he tried to hold himself back a little as he ate, though only with great determination... a fact that didn't escape Gradient, who stood next to Hisa and giggled.

    "Lady, I wouldn't care if you were the death squad of Thule Society - you brought me some grub, so you're alright in my books," he finally said with his mouth still half-full of food. "Oh, *burp*, excuse me a bit... oh damn that's good... haven't had a bite since... whev... ooooh boy, that hits the spot..."

    He certainly took his time to enjoy the sandwich, even going as far as to lick his finger before emptying the rest of the water bottle with one long swig.

    Just how starved had this older man been?

    "Aah... yeah, that's definitely better... Now, where were we...?" He asked, leaning back against the cold concrete wall and putting hands behind his head like he was kicking back and relaxing. "Oh, right! Your questions! Now let's see..."

    He smacked his lips, staring at the ceiling for a moment as he put his thoughts in order.

    "Well, first of all: The name's Kagekiyo. Like the Noh-mask. Or, well, codename anyways. That's what they call me these days, more or less. As for who I am, well that's a bit trickier question. Suffice to say, I work for the Rook Company - a mercenary outfit with some lofty ideals of being a peacekeeping force. Well, more or less that just means we're hired for all sorts of missions like this instead of just thrown into some middle-eastern warzone and calling it a day," the man - Kagekiyo - explained with his deep but rather cheerful voice. "As for what Iam, well... Some call me a human, some call me an android, I'd say the answer lies somewhere in the middle."

    He lifted his right hand, and Hisa could hear servos and biomechatronic parts whirl in the silence of the room as he did.

    "--- A cyborg is most apt way to put, I think."

    So neither a man nor machine... someone augmented with mechanical parts, combining both the good and the bad of both worlds. Technically, any rules that would apply to androids should apply to this Kagekiyo as well - such as the need for Vril generator. Though perhaps he had a modified heart that acted as one? It was hard to say without a closer look.

    "As for why I'm here, well... ain't that a story to tell," Kagekiyo said with a sigh, and rolled his shoulders. "A certain philanthropic organization wanted to get a good idea of just what was going on in this town. There were rumours, lot of nasty rumours, outside, and they needed someone to infiltrate - ergo, me. I decided to take a sneaky approach and arrived through the old WW2 tunnels..."

    He pointed his thumb towards the metal door that To-Totesh had just opened, and the girl looked a bit alarmed.

    "... But things didn't go exactly as planned. Something knocked me out, and I'm not even sure for how long. When I came to, I hurried outside and found myself in the town's sewers. So, at least I made it in, yeah? From there, my mission was two-fold. First, locate the so-called WUOTAN. According to Montauk transmissions intercepted by my employer, they have a base somewhere within this area called such, which is where they're researching my second objective..." He tapped his head with his finger. "And yeah, it's the thing you already brought up: DDS, or what they call Delusional Denialism Syndrome. It's... well, even I didn't quite understand what they told me, but suffice to say, it's a theory, more or less - theory that could be weaponized against the Turnside, with massive repercussions. Unless it's not just a theory, in which case..."

    For the first time, an actual frown crossed Kagekiyo's face.

    "... This world is crueler than I thought."

    He sighed a little bit and made a dismissive gesture with his hand.

    "Well, the finer details wasn't what I was sent here to think about. Though if you want to know more, I've got some notes you might find interesting - brief explanations to the whole troublesome thing, as far as I understood," he continued. "Anyways, back to my original point. I was sent here to locate WUOTAN and find out just what they were doing with this whole DDS thing here in this town. 'Them' being Montauk, of course. The boogeyman among goverment boogeymen - the most secretive and dangerous organization that may or may not have gone rogue. Though judging by the fact that they were transmitting to a certain air force base in Washington, I'd say they haven't gone rogue... yet. But, before I could do that..."

    The man fell silent, and for a moment, grimaced.

    "... I ran into this poor woman who'd escaped from somewhere. Hospital, maybe? Perhaps even WUOTAN? Still, I couldn't just leave her there, in the sewers, so I took her and decided to make a run for the forest. Get to the edge of the town landside, and sent her on her way. But before that, I was..." He clicked his tongue. "... Intercepted by Montauk's watchdogs. The Einherjar, that is. Those four captains and their squads of troops. I'm not too shabby in a fight but... yeah, even I can't take out four or five of them at once."

    The man threw his hands in the air as if to say "Them's the breaks!"

    "No idea why they spared me, though. Maybe they wanted to find out who'd be crazy enough to piss in their cereal - or rather, who paid to such a guy to do so. So yeah, if I had to make a guess, they're after my employer's name, and my mission itself," Kagekiyo concluded. "Patch up any leaks they have in this tight boat they're running. Plus, well, they already saw me try to save one poor bastard... they probably figured I'd go Abarenbo Shogun on them if I spotted any more. It's not in my style to leave people to be just dissected and researched upon."

    Gazing at the man known as Kagekiyo and watching his body language, Hisa came to a rather simple conclusion. This man... was almost exactly as he appeared. Or rather, he didn't put on any airs. Sure, he did seem a little flightly, not too serious and even carefree in his demenoar, but at the same time he didn't bother to hide the fact that he was a warrior. His attitude was just his personality, not a ploy to put his enemies off-guard. More than that, he seemed to be one of those people who spoke before they thought... or did it at the exact same time. Impulsive, yes, but not stupid. And what's more...

    ... He definitely meant it when he said he couldn't stand not helping those who were suffering. Not because of any sense of heroism, but rather... the idea seemed to disgust him?

    Strange. He seemed very straightforward, but in a complicated way. A freespirited person out to do good, but only becuase it was his whim - not out of altruism or any personal code.

    "Hey."

    As Hisa mulled over the words and demeanor of Kagekiyo, she heard Pyry's sudden voice from besides her. It looked like the boy and the others had finished up their search through the room. There was a small frown on his face as he started explaining their findings.

    "If I had to take a guess, this is just some sort of holding cell. There's not much here, aside from the camera and the system that electrifies the bars and keeps the locks functioning. Even the alarm system seems to be tied to the camera, so if we can get through the lock without tripping it, we can get him out without problems. Aside from that..." The blonde boy nodded towards the metal door where Mercedes and To-Totesh stood. "... That seems to lead into some old tunnels that lead even further down below. If I had to take a guess, it's the same WW2 corridors he was talking about."

    Pyry made another nod, this time towards Kagekiyo.

    "To-Totesh also noticed some cables running from this room to the corridors and further down, so it's possible there's more stuff over there - but what, we don't know. Probably more cells, or maybe the security room for the cameras of this area? Anyways, I'm not sure if we should delve deeper there unless we really need to - at least not yet," he gave his own opinion. "If I had to venture a guess, those tunnels... they good deep. Very deep."

    Kagekiyo, his sharp ears catching those words, chuckled.

    "They sure do, catboy. It's a mixture of old sewers, WW2 era tunnels and natural caves... and who knows what else?" He said with a sardonic smile. "According to my briefing, some of the tunnels might connect all the way to Seattle Underground... or maybe hide inside them the Raven Rock of West Coast."

    After that, a silence fell... one which was broken by the awkward cough of the older man.

    "So, uh... what's it gonna be? I can talk a whole lot, but not sure if I can assure you any more than this that I'm not exactly a fan of Montauk or their lackeys," he said. "Not that I blame you for being cautious, this is a bit of an odd way to meet but, uh... in case you're planning on leaving me down here..."

    A somewhat sheepish smile spread to his face.

    "... You mind tossing over a sandwich or two more? I'm seriously starving."

    New Person Met!

  4. #4404
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Mellon's Avatar
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    Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building – Cafeteria
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    Anna only half-listened to the conversation taking place at the table. Not that the topics currently under discussion were not important. Some of them she whole-heartedly agreed with. Ilusăo, for example. She had her own suspicions about the green-haired boy. Perhaps not truly founded on anything she had heard or seen, but suspicions, nevertheless. There was far too much prophecy nonsense around these parts, even discounting the faux-clueless semi-Chinese seeress in front of her, but she was liable to trust this “divination” at least.

    There was no reason for her to “be careful” if Inacio truly was a person completely uninvolved with the supernatural world.

    “If you guys are going to go digging around Ilusăo, I’d be careful. Considering how tied everyone in this class is to the Turnside, it is exceptionally unlikely that he’s the sole “mundane” person here.”

    “He is either exceptionally good at hiding his link to the Turnside or there are some other circumstances involved. Multiple personalities, self-brainwashing, possession or some other nonsense like that.”

    “Regardless, none of us are here… by accident, eh?”

    Having said that, Anna’s attention drifted away once more to a completely different conversation taking place in another part of the school.

    That’s where the second, larger, half of her attention span was going.

    …utterly ludicrous. Has Primacelsus completely lost her marbles? What the blasted hell is going on at the Orloj?

    First, she is sent on a mission to hunt down an idea-made-flesh that was apparently treading on the Unbreakable Laws with no backup from the Pentagrammon whatsoever. Perhaps understandable, considering how the lunatics in this country deal with practitioners of magic, but alone nonetheless. Now she is the one being blamed on running afoul on the laws of magic? Nevermind the fact that this bloody Ottoman bastard is here less then a week after she herself arrived. The only way that would be possible was if he was dispatched right after she herself left.

    If they were so bloody free to do this crap they could have bloody sent someone else with her to begin with!

    A set up? Did the damn Crones manage to persuade Primacelsus to sell me down the river? This gig and the whole “you have no option to refuse” horseshit they peddled would make sense, if that was the case.

    No… it could still an extension of the ever-present internal politics of the Zodiac Clock. Maybe one of the other Faculties finally made a move against the Campus of Alteration in earnest. God knows the “Queen Bitch of the Alps” had plenty of enemies that would like to see her knocked a peg down. Either that or meddling in the succession at the Department of Destruction…

    …though if Meretseger actually managed to get someone to support her, I'll eat my hat. The pointy graduation one from the Glass Palace, at that.

    Nikolai Alexandrovich Labzin. Atmos Cube, Serene Silver. No Third Name and a name completely unknown to her, even amongst the Third Corner of the Bell Hall. Not that that was particularly important. They wouldn’t send someone after her who they didn’t think could take her down. It would be a waste of magical heritage and training. Linked to Alexander Labzin and the Умирающий сфинкс? If she had to hazard a guess based on that... some foundation based on Masonic ritual? Gematria or isopsephy, perhaps?

    Judging from the fact that he was asking Lockhart… who was apparently one of those upper-crust Devil’s Den princesses. One with three names, at that. Makes sense why she gave off the air of being completely off her rocks. Maybe it was similar to how it was with Ĺkerblom, where her bloodline caused mental instability?

    Either that or she was naturally barmy.

    Regardless, if the Ottoman was asking a way to view the cafeteria… he probably had established some type of supernatural surveillance already. There would be no way that he would know her precise location otherwise. A sensory Effect Field perhaps or a rapid Atellier? One with a focal point on the roof? But if that was the case, why would he not be able to observe her… the dampening field of the cafeteria?

    A brief grumble escaped her lips unbidden, a nonsensical murmur cutting into the conversation at the table.

    “…and it has to be a blasted Russian as well. A shitty omen of things, if I’ve ever seen one.”

    Seeing the confused looks reflected from the rest of the folks on the table, Anna elaborated on her rather sudden and strange statement.

    “I suppose I found the “admirer” you were talking about.” Anna gave a brief nod towards Zhou, sitting on the other end of the table. “…can’t you predict some good news for once? Nevermind… apparently, Pinefall is now hosting a lovely member of the Office of Censorship and Detainment, who is here to haul yours truly in for the crime of making a mockery of the space-time continuum."

    “Goddamn morons.” The raven-haired witch suddenly rose up from the table, while gesturing at Ramia with her other hand. “I need to deal with this, otherwise we’ll have even more crap laid on our plate by tomorrow. Despite my misgivings about them as soulless bureaucrats, they do know how to fight people. Mind giving me a hand, Indy?”

    Anna flashed the table a joking grin.

    “If I’m gonna have to kill an Ottoman today, I’d rather have it done before evening. It’s easier to bury the body during class, after all.”

    Knowing the personality of the jacketed girl, whether or not that was actually a joke remained an open question.
    Last edited by Mellon; February 19th, 2022 at 10:21 AM.

  5. #4405
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Those are my friends!"

    The tall, awkward boy, and the tall, awkward owl stand there, unsure whether to approach. I give them a wave to say everything's okay. Then I lean in close and whisper to Mickey.

    "They're both shy, especially the one in the owl suit, so be nice, okay?"

    Skipping away from the sheriff, I offer him a smile and a thumbs-up.

    "Keep the town safe as best you can, okay, Mickey? It's gonna storm tonight. And for my part, I'll try to keep my classmates out of trouble!"

    Running towards Ahti and Alpa, I know it's time. For the rain. For me to be the best umbrella I can be.

  6. #4406
    Elise Pelltier
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    Elise looked over at Lucille with a look of uncertainty on her face.

    "If we do have to do this all over again, well, there might be another way to pry loose some of Michael's secrets and figure out who his informant might be: I could try talking to him. He's tried to recruit students to do his dirty work, he's used Sakura, Subaru, and Kean in that capacity. He also seemed to have tried to recruit Vier and Elaine when they ran into him at the Ramshack Thursday night, or at the very least set them against you."

    Elise sighed harshly at herself.

    "Let's be honest here, I'm kind of prime material to be used as a patsy by him," admitted Elise unhappily, "If I didn't know you, I'd have good reason to be worried about you, Lucille-"

    If I met Michael Lowgate before I met Lucille, would I have believed the things he's said about Lucille? I'd like to think I'm too savvy to fall for that, but I'm more than a little worried that I would, so I'm very glad things have worked out the way they have.

    "-and he knows about the prophecy, and, as one of the pieces he needs to knock off the board, he's got good reason to want to keep me close, and, uhm, not try and possess me like he did Kean."

    I'm pretty sure I can't be double possessed, but at the very least I know that LBJ will raise a huge fuss if he tries anything like that.

    "At the very least, I might be able to gauge how much he actually knows, and, whether or not what happened this time sticks with him. That, and stop anyone else from stumbling into the Ramshack and running into him by chance again."

    Didn't end well for Sakura. Wasn't a great time for Elaine and Kean either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel Lowgate
    "Excuse me, but this VHS tape? What if it's creation is not as complex as filming something and then bringing it to a next loop? What if... What if it was just the information that was brought over? And later burnt to a VHS tape?"

    "--- Have either of you heard of thoughtography? Or, 'psychic photography'? It's a form of ESP that's not that 'powerful' on its own, but definitely has its applications... such as reconstructing memories on a picture or a film reel? In other words... could the creator of this VHS tape be an esper?"
    Elise nodded excitedly at Samuel as he proposed his theory on the mysterious VHS.

    "That's been my working theory too! Transferring information across loops seems a lot more plausible than transferring matter does. After all, that's how we seem to be looping, as information. At the end of the loop, our souls seem to carry our memories back to when we wake up on Wednesday morning," explained Elise, "Other than that video tape, there hasn't been any evidence that it's possible to transfer an object across time loops, so it does seem much more plausible that whoever sent it to Alexstraza traveled back in a similar manner that we did, just at an earlier point in time, and created the tape then."

    "Thoughtography though... I wasn't sure if that was real or not, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It'd have to either be ESP, or else, maybe someone in town has some sort of brain-reading machine that lets you record thoughts and memories onto video tape?" speculated Elise.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucille Faraday
    “Talking to that girl seems like a good use of time… should we split ourselves up? One visits the Kincaids, the other interrogates her? Or some other combination of tasks…”
    "Following up on the doppleganger seems like a good lead. Especially since she didn't seem to be a willing ally of Michael's, and might very well be a potential friend and ally. We probably don't need to keep her on ice," agreed Elise, "Seeing the Lowgate Prophecy in its entirety would be helpful, but it's probably not a top priority right now."

    Elise felt a pang of pain and frustration rush through her as she potentially set that aside. So close to answers, yet so far.

    At the very least, Samuel says that it's probably not about me, that's just one interpretation of the prophecy, so I can at least take some comfort in that.

    She glanced down at the napkin, covered in addresses and directions.

    That, and I've got the addresses of both Samuel's house, but also to where there might be a backup copy of the prophecy.

    "The copy of the Prophecy isn't going anywhere, and we can always look it up next week. Whether that's Monday or Wednesday. Plus we know where to find Samuel now!" said Elise, with a grin to the fluffy haired Inquisitor, "And if we do have to do this again, Samuel, Prushka, Hisa and I will be sure to get you out of bed sooner!"

    "As for me... well, there's one lead I'd like to follow up on today, or, at least before tomorrow. I was told that should look for someone named Ashley Xavier. Prushka said that he might be a regular at Big Boy's," began Elise, "Samuel? You wouldn't happen to know of him, or where to look for him?"

  7. #4407
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - Warehouse 2
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    I listened closely to every word that came out of his mouth. Chewed through them in my mind, while also watching his expression with a scrutinizing stare, to make sure that he was to be trusted. Something that became evident soon enough - or, at the very least, I would have needed to dig much deeper to root out any potential lies. Something I couldn't quite afford for now.

    As he finished, my eyes lingered on him for a while still as I contemplated all the things he said, before I finally let out a deep sigh as I rubbed my forehead.

    "I'm not a food dispenser. Nor did I prepare to feed a small army just because we went exploring..." I grumbled slightly as I fished out another sandwich from my bag, "Though I guess I did pack a bit more than usual thanks to the appetite of a certain someone."

    Just like last time, I threw the sandwich through the gap for him to catch;

    "We can also let you out. Just need to figure how exactly. Though, while we do that, there seems to be a lot to discuss still."

    With my arms crossed in front of my chest again, I walked over to the keypad at the side of the cell to take a better look at it.

    "The tunnels seem to be important. They come up often, and seem to connect pretty much every place in the town together - here, the hospital, the school, the beach, and who knows what else," I started, directing my words at Pyry and To-Totesh as much as at Kagekiyo, "As it is, it feels like an unmonitored, unexpected backdoor to use for anyone wishing to get the upper hand, and sneak into places without anyone's notice. It's kind of unnerving, knowing the things that are definitely down there...Like that behemoth. Possibly who knocked you out," I gestured towards our new acquaintance with my head, "But then, I'm not sure what to do about them. If we can't use them, it might just be the smartest to make them unusuable for everyone. At least certain access points. Or monitor them, or something."

    Not that it was exactly an easy option to go through with, even if it sounded good in my head. A simple blockade, someone with Pyry's or that behemoth's strength could just easily break through. Anything more than that would require tools and time, neither of which we had. Meanwhile, monitoring would be more of a double edged sword, and would most likely just delude us into a sense of false safety instead of actually being valuable, considering that there always seem to be someone perfectly capable of breaking through any sort of security without going unnoticed.

    Murphy's law, I suppose...

    "As for the woman, if it's not just a coincidence, then she definitely escaped from the hospital. They are supposedly holding a few DDS patients there, and one of them went missing not long ago," I changed the topic as I continued, "In her state, it's quite surprising she even managed to do so. Sickness, or because of the experiments, but it seemed like her body was...falling apart. Not to mention all the blood and tissue samples they seemed to have extracted from those patients."

    My expression darkened as I thought back about our findings back at the hospital, and now, the people that seemed to be connected to those and the fate they met.

    "She is dead now," I said with a mix of anger and grief in my voice, "Likely would have died, whether or not you succeeded. It seemed that her body would just inevitably break down, probably because of the lack of a monitored hospital environment. However, in her death, she managed to save you. We wouldn't be here, otherwise. So...I guess she didn't die in vain."

    May she rest in peace, free from the suffering and torture she likely had to go through. Sad as it is, at least there is no pain in death for those who passed.

    "It...confuses me how all these groups operate though," I cleared my throat after a moment of silence, "Thule, Gottlieb, Montauk, Einherjar, whoever else is there...Your group included. But then, I don't want to jump to conclusions, and it might be a different philanthropist from what I'm assuming. Still, it's hard to tell the sides apart, and what exactly those sides want with all this. And this DDS, especially."

    I stared down at the keypad with a certain feeling of uneasiness, mixed with curiosity and the excitement of finally scratching the surface of the topic, something that's been looming over us for a while now.

    "Delusional Denialism Syndrome, you said?"

    Delusions...Some sort of a mental illness then. Similar to delusional disorder, perhaps? Regardless, it would imply beliefs in nonexistent things that stray from reality to a smaller, or larger degree. However, drawing closer relation and trying to fit what's known about the evident, non-secretive medical condition would be pointless. Then, denialism...The fact that it's present in the same context as 'delusional' would imply that the target of denial is just that. While denialism has a few interpretations as well...on a baseline, it would imply the refusal to accept reality despite evidence as part of a defensive mechanism, or coping cycle to protect one's psyche from an uncomfortable trurth.

    Makes me wonder if it's the delusion that came first, and the denial stemmed from that to stick with a more favourable, if false reality, or if the delusion was born from the denial of reality in an attempt to escape from it.

    Though, what would be more important to know is what exactly is the delusion, the denial and the reality from the perspective of those who defined the syndrome.

    And how exactly it could be 'weaponized against the Turnside'. Somehow I have a feeling that it might have to do with Patient Zero, with its reality altering capabilities...

    "Do tell more. There's an awful lot of mention of it everywhere, but little tell about what exactly it is. Not to mention that it feels like we were rudely dragged into it without us even knowing."

    Finally, I reached out with my hand towards the console, and one after one pressed the buttons on it to insert the same code we used earlier for the main door.

    "Only thing that's clear to me is who the bad guys in this story are, if DDS patients are being treated like that woman."

  8. #4408
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Liana Skye/Sora Hikari
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Bunker
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    With a couple of grunts, Zane and Jayesh took their places - each at the other end of Jack - and grabbed a hold of the older man. Then they lifted upwards, as gently as they could, but with hurry clearly speeding their steps. As Liana had said, they really didn't have the luxury of taking their time right now. Jack would need proper medical attention, even if they had managed to avoid the worst - especially if he wanted to regain consciousness any time soon. Not only that, but knowing that he had been taken out by someone acting as a hitman for one of the various groups that seemingly haunted this town... it was not impossible that they would come back to finish the task.

    Though, now that she thought about it while keeping an eye on the rear while the two boys carried Jack out of the cell...

    --- Why hadn't that hitman finished the job already?

    Jack had clearly been here long enough that they could have returned and finished what they had started. No, if it was any hitman worth their salt, they should have already done so. Even though Liana had arrived much later, she could notice the older man being still alive, even in the dark. So had Jack been playing dead to fool the attacker? That seemed... unlikely. It was doubtful he would have had the mental capacity and physical strength to do so. So, what then? Had they just left Jack there so he would bleed to death, slowly and painfully? Even though there were people not too far away? People who quite likely knew where he was, as was the case with Jayesh? No, that would be just risking the kill for nothing.

    So why...?

    Did the hitman shoot him but... missed vitals on purpose? So he could be... found?

    --- That couldn't be it, could it?

    But if... if it was... then what did that mean...?

    "---!"

    Out of nowhere, the air grew cold.
    Suddenly, Liana sensed it.

    She sensed it far more than she saw it.

    Her eyes whipped to the direction, and there.

    At the end of the corridor.

    Where the metal door lay.

    Was now an open doorway.

    And in that doorway was...

    Was...

    ... A sneering silhouette with a single eye, cackling at the circles her mind was running.

    Sweat rose to her brow, her brain stung like it had been poked with a red hot needle, she squeezed her eyes shut reflexively, and when she opened them...!


    [...?]

    She saw nothing. Just the closed metal door, that mocking message, and the puddle of dried-up blood. And all she heard was the curious, confused sound of Ciel in her mind - not the laugh of whatever she thought she had seen. The corridor was empty, as it should have been - as it was - aside from she herself and the two boys ahead of her, carrying Jack. In other words...

    Had she imagined it all?

    Was the stress getting to her?

    Or perhaps...

    --- Well, whatever the reason, the corridor still... felt colder than it had before.

    It was definitely time to leave.

    [SCENE END /// Move to NEXT Phase!]

    Liana Skye: Friendship Rank Raised!














    Prushka
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    A cold wind picked up.

    As Prushka skipped away on her trusty scooter, she saw the sheriff that she had left behind give her a wave of goodbye. It looked like he had gotten off what he wanted from his chest, and found some new thoughts to chew on - perhaps even an answer of sorts he had been looking for. Whatever it was, there was now a slight glimmer in his eyes that hadn't been there before. Still, these thoughts, and the revelations that had come about during this small talk... they were best left behind for now.

    Prushka understood that much when she saw the look on Ahti's face as she arrived to where her two friends were waiting.

    "U-um, Prushka... we finished with the, uhm, thing, but..." Alpa hesitated, her gigantic owl head swiveling towards the tall boy. "M-Mister Ahti suddenly started acting weird and now... n-now he's..."

    Looking at the tall boy, it was easy to see the girl's confusion.

    The look in Ahti's single visible eye had changed. Most of the time it was more or less the eye of an human, and everything that entailed. However, now the pupil of his eye had become a slit, almost beastly in its appearance. The ice cold surface of the iris emitted a faint glow, one that became barely visible steam - evaporating mana - and flowed around his head. At the same time, his ears had perked up straight towards the sky, and every single hair on his body was standing up. The tail which he had hidden previously swished back and forth in a waiting, predatory manner, and it was like a soft rumbling - growl - echoed from the boy himself. Without even realizing it himself, he was gripping the handle of the sword at his waist.

    He was the same Ahti as before, but... it was clear that his instincts were suddenly primed for battle.

    And more than that, his eyes... they gazed towards the horizon, where the city stood underneath the clouds of storm.

    Somewhere, to a specific place underneath the skies weeping rain, as if he had always known where this would end up in.

    Without any words, even Prushka understood.

    The time had come.

    Storm unlike the one from the week that never existed was finally here.

    And she was sure, even though she had no proof, that just like Ahti, somewhere out there another boy was experiencing the same - the call of his instincts, like two objects on a collision course that could not be avoided. An inevitability that stemmed from the fact that they existed in the same place, at the same moment. Logic, reason, common sense... they would all say that this was not the time for this. That they could lose more than they could gain. But those thoughts would be lost to these two. After all...

    --- It was in their nature.

    An anger born out of what one felt was a betrayal of those who came after - and an anger born out of what another felt was a threat to the peace he had found.

    One had fallen deeper into the despair, never finding someone to lift him up - while another had been saved and decided to run away from it all.

    One full of anger against the brother who was never there for him - and another full of anger against a brother who he never asked for.

    It was easy for either side, and those standing by them, to claim to be in the right.

    But the ugly truth was... neither had the moral high-ground.

    Excuses could be made, but at this point, they both knew they would not matter.

    After all...

    --- Their instincts were calling them to clash, to sort out these ugly feelings in a way they knew the best.

    One wore his bestial nature on his sleeve, another hid it underneath a cheerful grin.

    But they were, no matter what anyone said, beasts.

    And when two beasts happened upon each other in the same territory, there was only one conclusion.

    "... It's time."

    Ahti's voice was a guttural growl.

    "I know where to go. He knows where to go. Im--- Prushka," the boy continued, his burning eye glancing at the girl. "From here on out... both of us will lay bare our raw selves. What we are without the lies we tell ourselves and to others. So... all I ask is... don't hate us. Either of us. Anyone'd be ugly to look at in a moment like this. And, well... when it starts... when we clash..."

    He closed his eye and drew breath, as if fighting against an urge - or rather, his brainwashing.

    "... That's when our minds will be most vulnerable. You, and that scarred girl... that's your chance."

    And then, his free hand clenched into a fist.

    "That's when you can destroy the remnants of Jukola in both of us."

    A cold wind of far-away northern lands blew through the cemetery.

    "... I'll leave myself in your hands, Prushka."

    That's all Ahti could say.

    From the start, there had been no avoiding what was about to happen.

    For any of them.

    [SCENE END /// Move to NEXT Phase!]

    Prushka: Friendship Rank Increased!








    Alexstrasza Lockhart & Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    The silence of Potemkin continued, though Alexstrasza could definitely sense it was an amused one. It was like the monochrome creature was enjoying her digging herself deeper and deeper into an early grave - which, given everything, was sort of an irony. Of course, it could also be that Potemkin was also being careful around this Ottoman. He might have looked rather unassuming, but they were all professionals, that much was for sure. So it wouldn't be impossible that he had some ways to sense telepathic communication... perhaps even listen in on it. And that would have spelled all sorts of trouble for the vampire.

    However, thankfully, Nikolai only reacted with a sheepish chuckle.

    "Unfortunately, familiars have never been my strong suit. If anything, I'm rather bad at granting any sort of life-force to inanimate objects or lesser creatures. A curse of a mathematician, I suppose..." He said, scratching the back of his head awkwardly. "That's why I've been trying to set up a surveillance system of sorts, to see what Anna Vandemeel is actually up to. If I can observe her without being observed, it should give me some clues regarding her supposed guilt... or so I figure, anyways. That being said..."

    A more serious expression appeared on the young man's face and he folded his arms in deep thought, taking a moment to rub his chin and let out a thoughtful hum. It was like he was pondering what Alexstrasza had just said, taking in the revelations that were hidden amidst the hurried excuses.

    "Still, you as well, Miss Lockhart...? Memories of a time that did not come to pass after all..." He murmured, mulling over the concept. "The more I hear the less do I understand. From what I was told, the situation at Road's End was... precarious, to be sure, but nothing quite this complex. Personally, I'm beginning to wonder if someone of Lecturer Vandemeel's abilities could have even achieved this. M-mind you, I'm not doubting her strength, but rather, her field of expertise."

    A wry smile passed by his face and he looked up at Alexstrasza.

    "A carpenter makes for a lousy seamstress, after all."

    However, once he had said that, the young man's face froze - and his eyes stared at somewhere behind the vampire. As the blonde girl followed that gaze, she looked over her shoulder, only to see that the distant door of the cafeteria was now wide open. No, not just that, but two figures had emerged from it. One of them was a bit unexpected. It was Ramia Ramalsaqr, wasn't it? A dusky-skinned classmate of hers who she hadn't had much in terms of communication. The other one, however...

    --- Speak of the Devil, perhaps?

    It was Anna Vandemeel. And she did not look happy in the slightest.

    "W-well, this is quite awkward..." Nikolai muttered, and as he did, he carefully put one hand in his pocket. "Apologies, Miss Lockhart, but you may want to step aside. I'm afraid I've been made, and knowing her... reputation, this could end badly. Lecturer Vandemeel is somewhat infamous for her temper and her... thoughts on people of certain nationalities. Mine included. If I'm unable to talk her down..."

    He hesitated for a moment.

    "... Well, I'm afraid things might get violent," Nikolai added. "And she certainly does not look like she wants to hear excuses."




    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - Warehouse 2
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Once the numbers 1994 had been entered, the lock let out an electronic beep and the light turned green. Half-a-second later the elecrical hum in the air died down, and the metal door swung open slightly, allowing passage to and from the cage itself. Kagekiyo, who had just picked up the sandwich that Hisa had picked up, looked at it instead of the door however. His eyes were slightly narrowed, and he seemed to be gritting his teeth together.

    "... So she didn't make it..." He murmured quietly, mostly to himself. "Damn it... dammit..."

    Even though it was clear he hadn't known the old woman for more than a few hours at most, it seemed that the older man still felt angry to learn what fate had befallen her. It was true that outside of whatever environment she had been in, the woman was unlikely to survive for day or longer, but still... that didn't make it any easier. Even if you know that what you do is futile, it still hurts to try and fail. And that's what must have been eating at Kagekiyo.

    "... Still. I have to be thankful for her, yeah. I mean, without her, you guys wouldn't have found me and I'd still be stuck here..." the man said, finally forcing a slight grin back on his face. "... And I wouldn't have these delicious sandwiches to eat either. You make these by hand? Man, I'll have to get kidnapped more often if it means getting to eat your stuff."

    While his praise was genuine, it was clear to everyone present that he was forcing himself to be cheerful. Hell, even Kagekiyo understood that others knew it. Still, he put on that smile and that tone of voice, as if not doing so would have made the situation worse. It was a rather simple mindset... or perhaps not. Hisa could practically read the thought of: "If I act gloomy now, it'll just get others down too" from his face. A somewhat naive sentiment, but thoughtful at the same time...

    Still, just what sort of guy was worrying about how others were feeling while he himself was locked up in a place like this?

    "Still, uh, I might be able to help you regarding the groups. Oh, and thanks. A lot," Kagekiyo said as he stepped out of the cell. "Feels good to be outta there! A-ny-ways, where was I...? Ah, right right. The groups. Err, let's see... from what I can understand, from what I can understand, they're more or less interconnected. Montauk, like I said, is the big boogeymen of the Turnside. Think of it like an organization with all sorts of nasty, dubious experiments, and absolutely no care who they hurt in the process of getting what they want. They rarely deal with the mystical and magical stuff though - mostly pure science and Black Tech. Anywho, Montauk's the type to have their fingers in every world domination and conspiracy theory pie on this side of the Atlantic. And this is just one of those for them."

    As he walked out, Kagekiyo was about to show his appreciation by patting Hisa either on the head or on the shoulder as he walked by... but then apparently decided against it, after seeing Pyry frown at him. An awkward chuckle escaped from his lips as the older man walked away, heading towards the pile of stuff in the corner that was his equipment. Still, now that Hisa had a proper look at the man, he was rather tall wasn't he? Not as tall as Pyry, but definitely on the tall side. And speaking of which...

    ... Why was Pyry still frowning at the guy? In an almost... pouty way?

    "Their finger here, if I had to take a guess, is Gottlieb Pharmaceuticals. Sounds like you've heard about them, no? Yeah, they're a really shady company created by the guy responsible for the MKULTRA debacle decades ago, and the real plan behind the official documents they released. Anyways, my employer thinks that they're doing something here, some sorta experiment, acting as a branch of Montauk," Kagekiyo explained as he rummaged through his things. "And their main base of operations is this WUOTAN, wherever it is. Naturally, WUOTAN means Odin, and Einherjar are the soldiers of Odin, so... uh, they're probably the security force of this WUOTAN place? I'm not 100% sure, but that would make sense, right? And their leader is that Valkyrie. Still, if they've got such heavy hitters in place, they must be expecting a lot of possible Turnside resistance - or some exceptionally dangerous thing. Which is never a good thing."

    Finally, after putting on the equipment that had been taken from him, Kagekiyo lifted himself up from the floor. He was now also holding some sort of small brown envelope in his other hand, while the other was gripping the sandwich from before... one that he took a big bite out of next, and for just a moment, smiled blissfully. Then, his face grew back more serious and he continued.

    "As for Thule, well... I'm not too familiar with those guys. But there's rumours, y'know? What Montauk is to science of the Turnside in America, they're to the occultism of Turnside in Europe. That and, well, that they're connected to..." Kagekiyo fell quiet for a moment, hesitating. "... Certain other parties working on a world-wide scale. Some groups that we're better not naming."

    As if to accompany his words, Kagekiyo lifted his arms up and formed a triangle with his fingers... and then put it over his face so that one of his eyes was looking straight through the hole in the middle.

    So, a triangle with an eye in the middle...?

    "... Eh. I doubt that even if that's true that it is something we need to worry about. If I had to venture a guess, the Thule guys are here to 'help' Montauk," Kagekiyo made big air-quotes. "At least so they say. In truth they're here to snatch all the good parts right from under Montauk's noses. You know how evil organizations are, right? Can't resist backstabbing each other."

    He made a repeated stabbing motion with his hand and grinned. Afterwards, he finally held out the brown envelope, as if offering it to Hisa.

    "As for DDS, I think you'll get a better idea by reading this. It's what my employer gave me, anyways. Just, uh, word of warning..." The older man explained. "... According to them, it's something you should only read if you've got strong will and grounded belief in your own truths. That's why it's a weaponized theory. Because it can shatter your whole world-view, and what you believe is real."

    His eyes... they were absolutely, deadly serious.

    "--- I'm not joking."
    Last edited by Verg Avesta; February 21st, 2022 at 01:01 PM.

  9. #4409
    Overly devoted enthusiasm... fufufu~ Ayakashi's Avatar
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    Vivienne Bianchi
    Location: Owl's Nest - Dining Area
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel
    My... my parents aren't around anymore."
    "Oh... sorry... did not think this through... maybe bad idea for me to bring parents up..."

    Vivienne cannot hang her head in shame nor draw the lines of a compassionate expression on her face, but she tries. She gives Rachel an apologetic bow, though it is not raw emotion nor emotive communication, it is at least sufficient to let Rachel know that behind the monotone and robotic, seemingly unfeeling voice, there was a will to apologize; there was something being felt. But in Vivienne's mind, she as always asked herself wherever that was truly the case. She wondered like she did every single time she did her best to convey emotions in these unorthodox ways... did the origin of this come from the heart, or was it merely a logical deduction of necessity from the brain?

    The answer perhaps, was the very existence of the question itself, that she was asking said question even.

    And if this was mere procedure to keep up appearances, why mention what she did after?

    "I love my Mother and Father a lot. Maybe they are part of the reason... why I keep trying... because I want them to be proud... and maybe to become once more, the daughter they lost."

    She pauses, as if reminiscing of the pair she hasn't seen in a while. A father who has lost himself in his travels to find a cure now for his daughter, and a mother who feels responsible for what occurred to her daughter -- she sought to mend the rift that separated them, yet what she had done was merely widen it till none in the family would see each other in a very long time.

    "If I lost them... I don't know what I would do..."

    The quiet girl's unblinking eyes avert themselves from Rachel, and she looks down at the immaculate white cloth that is on the table, her gaze lost within its woven fabric as she ponders what life would be like should such a terrible thing happen. The empty whiteness could be reminiscent of her soul and emotions, but what if instead, it was a foreshadowing of her life should she lose everything that anchors her fleeting soul? Alongside her parents, there were a few things that Vivienne tried her best to cherish every day... she had even made a few 'friends' here, something that she never had imagined she could do. What would happen, if she lost all this?

    She would like to believe that it wasn't something she'd like to know.

    Yet she knew the exact answer to that question.

    It's why she was still here, wasn't she? It 's why she hadn't even considered the idea of leaving Road's End and be done with this mess.

    A desire to protect... and the fear of loss... was that not to feel, and thus, to truly exist as an individual? To fear and want, perhaps the most basic emotions that one can feel -- all that you have done to this point Vivienne Bianchi, is it not a proof that there is something inside?

    Oh right, even though it is there, you cannot feel it. The very same words you told to Prushka. You gasp for air, your lungs scream in agony as you breathe in, hoping for the oxygen of emotion and feeling, yet... all that comes is a burning, drowning emptiness.

    Vivienne shakes her head, realizing her gaze had been transfixed on the table cloth for too long. She looks up and performs the same apologetic bow to Rachel she had done before.. yet the words she then utters are not a bit for forgiveness, rather, they are strangely encouraging:

    "... but I see. Rachel is a very strong person. The town is safe in your hands, I am sure."

    One could think of it as a diversion of sorts, or perhaps, bringing the conversation towards something more interesting, than the feelings of someone who allegedly, could not feel.

    Ah yes, the Horse Blinders. Blinkers weren't they called? Tools to blot out needless vision and let the steed focus on what is ahead; to think only about what is needed to walk forwards. Yet is one truly alive, if they see only the path ahead? Do you have the right to complain about not feeling anything, when you refuse to see everything for what it is worth? Is it not hypocrisy?

    Vivienne does her best to show Rachel a convincing thumbs up. The latter on her end must rely on the power of her imagination to picture what kind of smile and cheery demeanor Vivienne would have put on, if she wasn't condemned to show Rachel these cold, unblinking eyes of blue.

    As Rachel explains herself and gives her own hypothesis on the Kincaids and the Air Force, as well as mentioning some interesting details, Vivienne continues to listen on, but one notable detail spurs her to ask a question once more, and at the same time, make a hypothesis of her own.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel
    Then there's my uncle's obsession, that damned girl in the painting! I swear, that blockhead probably thinks the air force is after his imaginary girlfriend, the way he acts..."

    "Maybe that girl was someone he knew? Does he not... talk to you about it? What is the painting... supposed to represent then? Portrait is... in the hotel?"


    She presses on, to learn more about this mysterious man with the imposing presence. To know more about Mr. Halloway and what he loved was not an opportunity that would present itself often, Vivienne reasoned to herself. Perhaps she should have a good look again at that portrait...

  10. #4410
    Glorious Grammar Master Race Frantic Author's Avatar
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    Alexstrasza Lockhart & Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    P-P-Pooooootemkiiiiiiiin! I know you might just be concerned for my safety, but at times I feel like your insight is deviously invaluable to our continued existence! You don't even know if you can live if I'm not around! Ah well. I suppose some things are best dealt with on our own.

    I listened to the Ottoman speak, tapping the side of my cheek as I heard his words, more then half-focused on the spider atop my head, rather then the conflict likely to emerge in front of me. Nevertheless, a magician's work is never done! While the spider atop my head is important to me, what are humans if not creatures of manners and honesty? While the lies and tricks our tongues may weave are inherently delightful, the conceit of humanity is this: to be honest, and have such honesty returned to you.

    I was the one who had introduced this representative of the Ottomans to Pinefall High, and as such I would have to at least make the cursory attempt of diplomacy.

    "Step aside?" I asked, tilting my head. "Whatever for? We are merely going to have a very enthusiastic discussion about the nature of this time-betwixt-time! And then, we will do something quite similar next week! Although perhaps I will not be there, Ottoman! Or you! Or Anna, or the Nubian, or this precious friend atop my head - perhaps it will be a new story, woven with new pieces and new players that we could not have expected at the forefront!"

    Time weaves as time weaves, and the stars sing the praises of those who can see the weaver. And yet, this weave, this place, this time; all of it feels so terribly, unfortunately, wrong. A distraught time in a distraught place, filled with people who are on the brink. It's a flux, a flux, a flux. A movement that can't be stopped, or predicted, and preventing it is impossible.

    There are too many pieces to predict the pattern, so it can always changes. An eternal, endless period of time - where the pattern only swaps the thread, but never the pattern. What a brilliant piece of sorcery.

    I paused, tapping the side of my face.

    "I must say, it is quite a remarkable craft. The stars themselves reflect the state of man, and yet the stars cry for release from their frozen state! Is it not sad, Ottoman, that we - mankind, our precious star - has been forever frozen in this state? In a week that repeats? Our precious Muse - these brilliant heavens - would they not like to see something more interesting then previously? Alas, I am naught more then destruction. This art of creation that they so desperately crave..."

    I closed my eyes, and my lips struggled to my smile.

    "It's really honestly beyond me!"

    I turned away from the Ottoman - towards my classmates, approaching, approaching. Ramia, did we not speak before? Are we not amongst those that consider each other friends?

    Ah, but perhaps Anna is a better friend then I, better prepared, easier to speak with, and less likely to harm those around her. My apologies, oh brave Nubian; I am fraught with faults and mired in my own insecurities when it comes to others. To be my own person is something that, at times, I'm honestly not sure I'm capable of. My mind is mired up in others thoughts and wants, their hopes and dreams. It was my decision to trample on theirs; by birthright, by talent, by magic. To be connected to Alexstrasza is to connect yourself to death.

    It's sad. I'm sorry. Please forgive me.

    I smile, bright and wide, raising a hand to wave excitedly at Anna and Ramia, cupping another one around my mouth.

    "Greetings and salutations, Ramia! May your wings lift you high, and your heart soar higher! Is it not a most wondrous day to speak to one another, in faith and trust?"

    I twisted my hand across my chest, pinching an edge of my skirt up and lifting it slightly in a minor curtsy as I bowed my head to the ground.

    "And a good morning to you as well, Anna," I said, exiting the curtsy smoothly with a polite smile on my face. "Is there a particular reason you come to stare at me and my newfound friend with such dangerous eyes? Is today not a day of tranquility and calm? Is it, perhaps, a day of violence?"

    In the art of deception, the easiest way to do everything is to play everything face up. To lie is to be inherently deceitful. Words are webs that we willingly weave, and to allow others to walk through them is to allow ourselves access into their minds. I dislike it. I find it frustrating. Confusing. A totally meaningless maze that we weave of our own free wills. It's tiring. It's really, honestly tiring!

    ...Dearest Matriarch, I truly hope you do not plan to do anything drastic in order to monopolize my attention. I assure you, just a little bit longer! I'm not that easily distracted, I once learned three dead languages in naught but four days! E-even if I forgot to eat, is that such a huge problem!? It was really, totally interesting, so it's fine! Hmph.

    Even in my head, I-I can feel the scolding coming... So maybe it's best t-to just delay it as long as possible...

    "Let us come together, and break bread! U-Unless you've already d-done so! I forgot to eat breakfast today, s-so I'm not really sure if you've already eaten... And I don't really have any food on me..."

    As a person raised in a staunchly traditional orphanage, many forms of manners were drilled into me. But, I often ignored these lessons in favor of practicing sorcery. While it didn't really lead to any developmental issues, I do know that there is a proper and improper way of going about thing.

    "Ah, I've got it! Let us come together, and not break each other's limbs just yet without setting out a clear list of rules, justifications, and counter-arguments before doing so! I can be the intermediary! I've always wanted to intermediate something!"

    My teacher really always gave the best lessons.
    in the end we will make thoughtcrime impossible, for there shall be no words to express it

    #THELEGENDNEVERDIES

    [01:05.15] <@Spinach> I can flash gang signs faster than Sasuke can perform ninjutsu and I rap like Medea's High Speed Divine Words.


  11. #4411
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Mellon's Avatar
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    Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Is there a particular reason you come to stare at me and my newfound friend with such dangerous eyes? Is today not a day of tranquility and calm? Is it, perhaps, a day of violence?"
    “Today is a perfect day to bloody mind your own business, Lockhart.” Anna’s voice was hard enough to cut stone. “Your half-arsed incompetent attempts at mediation are neither appreciated nor required. This is an internal matter of the Zodiac Clock. The Devil’s Den has no stake here, so why don’t you just fucking step aside and let me and… my Slavic friend over there settle our differences.”

    The Estonian girl almost spat out that last part of her sentence, contempt dripping heavy from her words. Oh, she was fucking pissed, alright. For many reasons. Astrarium. The Crones, Desk of Gray, and all the other meaningless Pentagrammon politics which had gotten her trapped in this hellhole. This goddamn time loop. Smug “janitors”, airforce officers, and some petty fucking murderers with an ax to grind – all of it was absolute bullshit.

    Thank god that goddamn poro wasn’t here, otherwise, she really would blow a gasket.

    But even setting aside her general irritation over the situation, Alexstrazsa Lockhart wasn’t going to be the one to diffuse the situation. After all…

    …her eyes briefly fell on the “spider” sitting on top of the blonde’s head.

    Anna’s hand twitched almost instinctively, the magical structure necessary to blast that thing to smithereens already half-formed in her mind’s eye. It wasn’t really evident earlier, since her information was all “second-hand”, so to speak, but…

    The reek of “нечистая сила” surrounding that thing was dense enough to cut with a knife. The precise foundation she couldn’t fully pin down… заговор maybe? At the very least, that thing was as Russian as the blond man in front of her. The Labzin bureaucrat would be the first to suspect of course, but… he just mentioned that he wasn’t that exceptional in making familiars. And realistically there was no need for him to lie without her here, so…

    Someone else? Fucking hell, why not? Maybe Vasilisa, that damn hag, finally completely snapped decided to try and kill me herself? Or maybe those bastards from Покро́вское decided to crawl out of their graves? Emulating the Mad Monk like that would be right up their alley, alright.

    That would be a problem for another day, however.

    Her ruby eyes whipped over to Nikolai, blazing with an almost dangerous intensity.

    “You’re in luck that I have a general understanding of the situation at hand, Ottoman. If you were to show up in front of me with absolutely no warning whatsoever, I would probably try to skin you where you stand.”

    Very pointedly, the witch in red made no statements or promises that she still wouldn’t do so in the future. No. There was probably a part of her that fundamentally hoped that things would devolve to that point, simply so that she could lash out against the man in front of her.

    “I’m going to give you this one chance to try and explain things so that we can make sense of this situation. “A brief, cold, pause. “There will not be another. The current situation won’t allow me to leave a live viper in the grass that could snap at my ankles at any given moment.”

    “Well, that and…” A small, bestial, grin flickered on her lips, even as a dangerous glint flickered in her eyes. "I think capturing me will be a fair bit more difficult now that I’m fully aware of your presence as well, no?

    “Now that we’ve dispensed with the pleasantries…” The dangerous aura extruding from the black-haired witch was suddenly wiped away, only to be replaced with intense irritation and anger. “What the hell is Midnight Blue doing? Has she completely lost her marbles? Did that stick lodged in her arse finally reach up to her brain? First, she and the Crones team up to force me to this shithole to deal with someone encroaching on the turf of the Seven, and then she has the temerity to send the Third Corner of the Bell Hall after me?

    “And a Russian member of the Ottomans as well, at that.” Anna’s voice by this point was almost akin to a snarl, even as her temper flared. ”As you have highlighted numerous times, my personal…views are well known in the Zodiac Clock. Why would they send someone who is almost bloody guaranteed to get a rise out of me!”

    “It's almost as if they’re betting on me lashing out and creating a convenient pretext for my detainment.” The witch’s right hand went up to her raven locks, rustling them in a clear gesture of frustration. “If I was less kind in my interpretation of the situation, I might suspect that I’m being set up so that someone can get rid of me, you know?”

    And if that was the case, then it had to be someone with considerable influence. One couldn’t just order around the Ottomans based on their own personal preferences. There had to be a Lord or a Lady behind this. Not one of the two-bit ones either, someone with significant heft in the Orloj. The Crones were the obvious suspects, but it could also be one of the Archmages. That or the Departmental Heads.

    It couldn’t be the head of her own Faculty, for obvious reasons, but that might just represent an opening for one of the others. They had more than enough influence, that much was certain. And political conspiracies at the Orloj ran deep. It could easily be that she had stepped on someone’s well-laid, decade-long, plans by sheer accident.

    “So, please allow me to start from the very basics to assuage my… concerns. Who gave you your orders?”

    “Which Court is backing you, товарищ?”

  12. #4412
    for me, there is (you) Katie's Avatar
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    Lucille Faraday
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Lucille frowns slightly at the words of comfort, but doesn’t say anything to refute them. It is as Samuel says. The specter is the manifestation of the worst things about Michael Lowgate. The fact that even it could come to terms with what had happened was miracle enough. Still, rooted in the back of her mind, was the feeling she could have done more. Done better.

    "In other words... could the creator of this VHS tape be an esper?"
    “It’s possible. The majority of psychics in our class appear to focus on manipulating the mind, not reality, but… As Elise said, they, or someone else, could easily have a device that could engrave thought into a physical medium,” Lucille adds, though she really doubts it is someone at Pinefall. Probably an external element. “It’s probably someone else, not from the school… But who, and for what reason do they wish to taunt Alexstrasza…?”

    Callous as it may be, Lucille can’t find it within herself to be too worked up over the wellbeing of a vampire. It was probably best for the sake of the class’s mental state, but rewind back a week and she’d have easily cut off the other girl’s head, no questions asked. It’s true that Alexstrasza could be a good person—or at least, as moral as an existence that feeds on humanity could be—but she is unwilling to give the benefit of the doubt. Old habits die hard, Lucille muses.

    Elise gives her case on meeting Michael next repetition, if it exists. The unspoken statement—that should anything happen to Elise, the demon will defend her—is hardly comforting, but if the demon was truly of the scale this prophecy stated, then… it’s fine. Not like they have any better plans or ways of approaching it. And much better than if Lucille charged in head first.

    After that, Elise mentions one more thing—finding an Ashley Xavier. Since she can’t contribute meaningfully to that, Lucille thinks about what she can do best, which isn’t much in the scheme of things. Information gathering is not her forte.

    “If that’s the case, you can pursue your leads and I’ll go back and talk with the shapeshifter. We can meet up later and see if anything was fruitful?”

  13. #4413
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building – Cafeteria
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    I listened quietly to the proceedings, frowning at the departing Anna as she begged off to go deal with some Weird Mage Shit, that, honestly, if I listened to my gut, I'd probably be better off not getting involved if I didn't have to.

    Still, I'd keep an ear open for any explosions.

    I frowned, "Oh, and speaking of local history, it might not go awry to check in with one of old families around here, the Kincaids," I tapped the notebook with my newly acquired pencil.

    "Back when we were tangling with the now especially dead Lowgate, he mentioned something about some sort of slapped together Arc-Relic he'd picked up, a shard of what he believed, and given testemony from Samuel Lowgate, recently busted out of End's Mercy as well as," a moment of hesitance, "my own reaction, I believe as well, to be Gramr, as in the sword wielded by the Volsungs in the thusly-named saga, with the dragon and the tragedy and misfortune."

    I clasped my hands, "He referred to a 'boxed garden', which I suppose may be a reference to our current situation, and it being observed by the eye, singular, of the deity which had so blessed the artifact in question, a reference to Odin, no doubt. He said a family from aboard had brought it, and I believe this to refer to that family in particular."

    "An important bit of that: Someone told him, Lowgate's Dybbuk, where to find the shard of Gram."

    Told him a whole heap of things he shouldn't have known, really.

    I cast my eyes around the table, "Anyone pick up on any Odin or Norse shit around here?"

    A half-grin, "All of these one-eyed things, clearly our most valuable asset is depth perception, no?"

  14. #4414
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - Warehouse 2
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    "That I was more or less aware of, but even though you're implying that they are all working together...It feels a lot more like that they are divided, operating in smaller units, all for their own goals."

    While my eyes tracked Kagekiyo's figure as he slowly walked out of his cell and stepped over to his equipment that was stored nearby, my hand reached out to find Pyry's, and once there, I wrapped my fingers around a few of his own. It was hard not to notice his reaction earlier - but it was also hard to tell what he was worried about, and since it wasn't exactly the time and place to discuss, this was most I could think of doing.

    I always forgot how large his hand was.

    Large and powerful, quite suitable for the selfless fighter he was...Yet also warm and soft, quite pleasant to the touch, enough that I wouldn't want to let go if it wasn't necessary.

    "Gottlieb seemed to be responsible for creating a drug called Mjolnir that provided immunity against DDS. If we care about symbolism...Then that would be Thor's hammer, a devastating weapon but also a tool to give blessings. Still, that's something I can't quite wrap my head around...Because neither delusions nor denialism is contagious. The - perhaps false - beliefs created by those can be spread, of course...But that's a mostly voluntary process. That's not quite the same as something that affects you against your will. Though, more importantly, to 'defend' against something like that...You'd need a similar effect, just in the opposite direction. A strong mental conviction, or suggestion, something to make sure that you'd, without questions, deny those delusions."

    Of course, this was all just a theory, a wild guess based on what little evidence we had...And thus, quite likely wrong. Not to mention that propaganda, disinformation and other methods of manipulation give this theory an extra, much more complicated dimension.

    "Not sure which one is worse at that point. Not that I would expect any less from Gottlieb, nor would I really be surprised if that was actually the case."

    They always had a thing for questionable experiments on mental control, after all.

    "It's also either them, or some other doctors who are conducting experiments on the DDS patients..."

    I was immediately reminded of the conversation in that office in the hospital, and my hand inevitably clenched into a fist.

    Probably should have dumpstered his office a lot more. A lot, lot more.

    "But at any rate, they seem to be cooperating with the Einherjar at least, since they are supplying them with those drugs while getting protection. Meanwhile, Thule seems to be trying to sabotage them, while also working on some sort of a...living relic. We had a run in with them, but that didn't shed light to all that much."

    Kagekiyo's gesture, despite his silence, was hard to misunderstand. Or rather, it was enough for certain things to come to mind immediately - like the Illuminati, or the New World Order. Conspiracy theories, and rather mysterious organizations that hardly ever surfaced. It was much telling, at least on a superficial level, which was also pretty much the nature of my knowledge regarding those topics. Would have needed some reading to remember the finer details, but then...like he said, it was likely irrelevant for now, and certainly much larger on scale than what we had on our hands for now.

    "Then there's the air force, with their crystal things. I'd imagine they have a lot more of those, and for different purposes too, considering that they have 'types', but...Based on the ones that were harassing Leena and her family, they are likely up to no good, even if in theory they should be operating together with the other government groups."

    Unless someone just stole their technology and utilized it to materialize those shadow creatures from the other dimension. A possibility, even if it sounds like a rather fortuitous chain of events that they just stumbled upon such a device, managed to steal it, and then utilize it, despite it looking quite complex to use.

    "There are also some wildcards that I can't really put anywhere. Like the Oceandrop Program. I've been starting to wonder if it had anything to do with Dan Cooper...considering that the anagram checks out. More than that, it would give a relevant explanation for the existence of the project, rather than the bullshit premise that brought us here...Which is that Dan Cooper supposedly tried to save the town from Project Zero, which led to that lynching that the townspeople try to forget."

    Letting out a deep sigh, I scratched the back of my head.

    There was just so much to consider, and so little that we could take for granted, to use as a stable footing. Not that there really was any point putting it all out on the table over and over again, just because it was frustrating...And I likely already said too much. It was unlikely that someone who arrived to the town just recently and spent most of his time here in a cell would know too much about what is going on.

    However, he had more information regarding something else, as it became apparent just now.

    With a rather ominous premise, if something - yet, I took the envelope from him without much hesitation, while at the same time, extended my mind towards a certain someone.

    [Get over here. We'll be leaving the warehouse, and I have a task for you.]

    "You've read it, haven't you? Yet you don't seem too shaken," I addressed Kagekiyo in turn, "Though, I can't quite imagine that a simple written document could be so devastating...unless it has really solid, unquestionable evidence. But since you made it so sinister, I have some safety measures, just in case."

    She should be here soon enough.

  15. #4415
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Alexstrasza Lockhart & Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Have to say, I didn't expect to be chewed on like that by someone my own age..."


    A sheepish chuckle escaped Nikolai's lips as he bore the full brunt of Anna's fury. The young man scratched his cheek awkwardly and glanced towards Alexstrasza Lockhart in a manner of a man seeking some solace or help... but realized that none would be found in that direction. Indeed, while the blonde vampire was a trouble all of her own, even the spider on top of her head seemed to be of no use. No, rather, the spider seemed to be cackling silently at the explosive situation, and the crackling tension in the air.

    Finally the blonde youth gathered his bearings and coughed awkardly into his balled fist, trying to bring some semblance of authority to his voice - not that it had much.

    "U-uhm. Well. First of all, I'm glad that you're willing to give me a chance to talk at least, Lecturer Vandemeel," Nikolai said, no hint of sarcasm or irony in how he addressed the girl - if anything, his voice held genuine respect for the title. "As you can probably understand, I can't really divulge the internal workings of Office of Censorship and Detainment - but suffice to say, you are not wrong in your suspicions. When the memo about you landed on my table specifically, I had my own as well. It's far too convenient to be a coincidence, so I'd imagine that someone is pulling the strings in the background. But as the orders were passed down through our department, the name of the individual who gave the order was conveniently forgotten. Mind you..."

    His face grew a tiny bit more serious.

    "... A Writ of Detainment is not lightly given. It would require the signatures of three Department Heads or people of similar rank, such as archmages or heads of other schools. No, more than that, the whispers in the Bell Hall were that originally the task was not brought up as a Writ of Detainment..." Nikolai said, his mouth forming a thin line. "But as Writ of Execution. Whoever is behind this certainly wants you out of the way, Lecturer Vandemeel."

    --- Writ of Execution.

    A legal command on the death of a mage based on their supposed, observed and acknowledged crimes against the Turnside and its safety itself - mostly in forms of keeping up the Facade.

    Something like that is not easy to arrange, and it would require an unanimous decision by a specifically pointed committee. Thus, it was no wonder the whole thing had been degraded into that of Detainment, but still...

    ... Somebody at the Zodiac Clock wasn't just after Anna's titles and reputation. They were after her life.

    "As for what comes to Desk of Grey, I'm afraid your anger would be misplaced if put there. After all, if I had to venture a guess, she is one of the few allies you have in Orloj," Nikolai continued seriously. "Before I headed out, I was approached by her and given the recommendation to observe your actions and personality before making any judgements. 'Look before I leap' as she put it. I suspect that she was banking on me being clear-headed enough to see that things did not click here, and that something was off. Naturally, I only got involved when the order was handed down to me, but even so..."

    His eyes scanned Ramia, Anna and Alexstrasza, before he made a small nod - mostly to himself.

    "... It's easy to see that things are not as they should be, here. No, things have been off from the get-go, but now that I have an inside view, it's obvious that there's far more going on," the Russian mage said. "Indeed, it would be much easier if this could all be blamed on you and my mission were a straightforward one, but alas..."

    With that, the mage fell silent for a moment, hand on his chin. It was like he was thinking deeply about something, mulling over facts that were presented to him and trying to wade the mire of backroom politics and schemes that had landed both him and the people now around him into this mess. His eyes were moving like he was reading some invisible texts or scrolling through his memories, until they eventually closed... and the young man sighed.

    Like he had come to a decision.

    "--- Well. Since I presume that all the people gathered here are involved, let me start with this," Nikolai said as he lifted his eyes towards the three girls. "The reason for your Writ, Lecturer Vandemeel, is that currently the area around town of Road's End - a radius of exactly two miles around the town - has more or less disappeared chronologically. It cannot be observed in any fashion, as if the spherical area itself had vanished from the stream of time. It is a temporal and metaphysical black box which we cannot see into. Even I had to use the old WW2 tunnels to reach the town and slip into the phenomena. Had I gone landside, I might have not simply found the town, or... well, I don't even wanna think about the alternates."

    He paused, letting that nightmarish scenario sink in.

    "And less dramatically... because whether you were aware of it or not, you are not the first Vandemeel to have set foot in Road's End, Lecturer."

    A sudden chill blew through the corridor.




    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - Warehouse 2
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Kagekiyo gave a lopsided grin as a response.

    "The thing is, I'm quite stubborn and set in my ways. Or to put in other words, well... I'm a bit of a moron. So even if I read stuff like that, it's not going to shake up my worldview too much," he replied with a hearty chuckle - though grew more serious immediately afterwards. "I guess I did make it sound a bit overly spooky, but there was a point to it. If a theory can be weaponized against the Turnside... if a thought-experiment, or a new way of thinking, can be dangerous, well... I guess you could liken it to an information virus. Once you take it in, if you can't snuff it out with your own sense of self, chances are you'll lose to it. And since you were nice enough to let me out of that damn cage, I figured I'd properly explain the dangers."

    An information virus... almost like a malignant thought. How ironic that, in a sense, that was almost like a demon - a subject that Hisa had had more than a few brushes with lately. So, in short, whatever was written in the briefing contained within the envelope was dangerous enough that it could be considered a threat to the Turnside. Combined with the name, or rather, what DDS supposedly meant, well... there were already more than a couple of theories that could be crafted from there.

    "... Does it have something to do with Turnside as a whole? Mere information or theories couldn't be that dangerous unless..." Pyry paused, and a worried frown grew deeper on his face. "... It's not necessarily dangerous for us individually, but on a larger scale?"

    A grim grin still haunted Kagekiyo's lips.

    "Bingo. It makes sense that Gottlieb, bastards they are, would choose an isolated place like this to experiment on it. And honestly, I'm not surprised if they went out of their way to find a defense against it in the first place," he replied. "They're in as much of a danger as we are - as Turnside might be. At least, that's what they told me. A strong individual with a mind that's not easy to influence should be okay, but... well, let's see..."

    As Kagekiyo thought about a good example to give, a sound of certain particural footfalls could be heard from the staircase and the corridor beyond it. Soon enough, from that same corridor, the sight of a familiar doll could be seen approaching. They had heard Hisa's call, and now arrived as instructed, to do the job that was presented to them. Quietly, Hisa handed the letter to the doll, who opened it up and worldlessly started reading it - like a bulwark between a mind and the mysterious contents.

    "Think of how information is diffused in a society. Or even amongst animals. Someone thinks something, someone does something, and sometimes, well, those actions spread. That line of thinking spreads. It becomes widespread, accepted and suddenly, it's the norm. There was this thing in the 80's where they talked about a morphogenetic field which contained information which we could access, but... well, the point being - information, once introduced to a large enough sample size of population, can spread like wildfire. And that becomes the new norm. Laws of Reality, the World Logic, whatever you wanna call it," Kagekiyo finally tried to explain, though he seemed to be having hard time putting it in right words. "That's what my employers said they were afraid of. That this information spreads like that. Not just among Turnside population, but regular population as well. Because if it becomes the new World Logic, then..."

    He frowned.

    "Things are going to get dicey for us supernatural folk."

    Ah, so that's what it was. It was tied to the further theories of Laws of Reality, and how they were set by the foremost observer of any closed system... which would be humans on earth, naturally. It was what had caused the collapse of myths and supernatural in the times of ancient past, brought down gods and killed of great legends. When those things became something that existed outside the accepted world view of humanity, they - effectively - had to flee to the nooks and crannies where lies and mysteries could still exist. That is, Turnside. That was how science and progress fought faith and tradition.

    So, was it that this DDS... could be actually weaponized in a similar fashion? A weapon against Turnside itself? Almost like an information-based biological weapon of mass destruction that could spread... or something?

    Judging by Kagekiyo's face, he at least thought it was plausible.

    And he wasn't willing to take risks. And neither was Gottlieb, if how they were behaving at Road's End was any indication. So, to them... was that the point of this whole "experiment" that Dr. Satel was talking about?

    And more importantly, how did this all tie to Patient Zero - Allene McLampet? After all, her powers did seem to be vaguely similar, in a sense...

    While she was left mulling over these revelations, Hisa's doll continued to read the contents of the letter.

    Contents that finally brought light to one of the major questions the girl had been wanting to know.
    What we know about DDS

    Delusional Denialism Syndrome, unofficially known as Disseminated Dream Syndrome or Divergent Dogma Syndrome.

    That is what the scientists of Gottlieb Pharmaceutical have been calling it. To them, it is a syndrome closely linked to the Lasčgue–Falret syndrome. In other words, a shared delusional disorder. However, unlike a typical case of such, the truth is - apparently - much more insidious. Those suffering from this syndrome all exhibit signs of the same delusions, no matter their distance. It is a type of schizotypical disorder where those suffering from it all live within the same 'delusional world' of supernatural monsters, powers and abilites. Their mind rationalizes everything in their everyday existence through the lens of this world, to the point that it can even fool all five senses - effectively letting the patients live in a dream world of sorts. This shared dream has been observed to have strict rules and order to it, almost like a game of sorts. A game where the participants are the patients - and the delusional world in which they live is much more real than the actual one. This syndrome is also, apparently, highly infectuous, capable of drawing normal people into itself. The means of infection are unknown, suggestions ranging from it being a type of mass hysteria to a memetic disease.

    This world, of course, is the Turnside we all now. Therefore, this theory - this 'syndrome' that the world outside of it has discovered, presents two possibilities for us. Either they are right, and we are all delusional. Perhaps we don't even exist. Perhaps the words I'm writing here are just a figment of your imagination, Kagekiyo. Our existence is just the desire of our warped minds, and the world of beauty and danger we inhabit is just wishful thinking made real. Human mind is great at fooling itself, after all. And that's what makes me afraid of it.

    However, the second option is that this DDS is simply a theory... but also a way to rationalize the whole of Turnside from the human standpoint. A way to view our existence and fold it back into the World Logic. Laws of Reality will no longer be broken by our actions, and we will no longer be a secret in the eyes of the Observers. In other words, if this theory would be accepted by the humanity as a whole, and become common knowledge... it would be like injecting a poison into the veins of our secret world as a whole. We would be understood. The mystery would disappear. And Laws of Reality would conform us to this new truth.

    These are both nightmarish options, Kagekiyo. And thus, we must find what the Gottlieb Pharmaceutical is truly after with their experiments at Road's End.

    I'll pray for your success.

    --- M.

  16. #4416
    Glorious Grammar Master Race Frantic Author's Avatar
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    Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    I blinked, tapping the side of my face with a bright smile as Anna spoke to me, taking a mild step to the side to allow Anna passage through. After all, it is most untoward to attack others when they are not themselves attacking you. Even if the countenance they show you may be cruel and wicked, at their heart, are they not kind, Potemkin?

    Are we not kind? I'd like to think we are.

    I listened intently to the Ottoman's reply, nodding along and acting shocked at the appropriate moments. After all, our role in this story is an aside, right? We're not starring in anything at the moment, a simple side player while the main ones take the stage. Too focused on ourselves by half to be a useful ally, and too unfocused by thirds to be a reasonable enemy.

    I clapped politely at his dramatic reveal, and nodded resolutely.

    "Well! Fortune fairs as fortune fairs," I said, clapping my hands together once more with a stern look on my face. "However, it is an ill time and iller place for mage to duel mage, is it not? There are murderers on the loose and time winding so tight its like a spring about to burst! This is, naturally, the state that the most interesting things - at least, in an arcane sense - could possibly occur!"

    I could feel the sides of my mouth twitch as I started to vibrate slightly. Two kilometers of removed space and time, only passable through tunnels! How ridiculous! How amazing! What an absolutely out there, totally absurd conceptual picture of sorcery! It's nothing like anything I've ever read!

    How did they do it?!

    "If you were involved, Anna, I must implore you to at least lend me your notes! I promise I won't mess anything up, maybe just make a few annotations here and there! A-Actually, maybe it's for the best if you don't... I'm not really good with that sort of time..."

    How was it done?

    The why doesn't really matter, in the end - it could be as broad and vast as an ocean or as simple as a puddle. Asking why is a waste of time; you're merely learning justifications when you should be focusing on executions.

    "If we are cut off from time and space," I said, peeking upwards and blowing my hair out of my eyes to see if I could see a set of eight red eyes looking downward, "Can you not simply ignore this for now? Join forces, as it were! Or perhaps just to make sure the people we like don't die! Really, you can go either or!"

    I smiled brightly, crossing my arms and closing my eyes. As always, my plans were flawless and had little in way of holes that could be poked in them. It was simply the nature of being a detector of supernatural happenstances.

    I looked upwards at the fringe of my hair, arching an eyebrow.

    "I don't suppose you have any additional information you'd be willing to impart, Miss Spider? Any insight to deliver to my listening ears?"
    Last edited by Frantic Author; February 24th, 2022 at 05:26 PM.
    in the end we will make thoughtcrime impossible, for there shall be no words to express it

    #THELEGENDNEVERDIES

    [01:05.15] <@Spinach> I can flash gang signs faster than Sasuke can perform ninjutsu and I rap like Medea's High Speed Divine Words.


  17. #4417
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Mellon's Avatar
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    Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    “A Writ of Detainment…Tch!”

    Whoever had done this had significant influence. At the very least to push for three Department Heads to agree with this. Someone who Primacelsus couldn’t directly shut down at that. No, if this had been originally a Writ of Execution then… But why would they even go through with it if the end outcome was a degradation to a Detainment? Anyone with this much influence would be obviously aware if they lacked the political power to force through the Writ in its original form so why even…

    “Ridiculous…” Anna’s mutter was muted, even as her own mind was racing through the potential political implications at breakneck speed. “Why would they even bother with the Detainment? It's ridiculous to expect me to maintain a chronological disruption of this magnitude from another bloody continent.”

    “If I truly was capable of maintaining a chronological “black box” like that, wouldn’t a single member of the Ottomans be a bit milquetoast of a response?” Anna let out a brief snort aimed at the Russian mage. “No offense, товарищ, but something that close to an active violation of the Unbreakable Laws should involve a bit more manpower, no? I can’t imagine the Orloj would just sit out on something like that simply because of American intransigence.”

    “Besides, their case would fall apart instantly if the paradox surrounding this place remained in existence, even while I was sealed, so why…”

    The selection of this particular member of the Bell Tower suggested that they were trying to adapt things in a manner to still force a conflict, but the setup was still too sloppy. It smacked like an off-the-cuff plan carried out to deal with an unexpected factor, rather than something premeditated and planned. Them ending in a fight to the death was just a single potential outcome, after all. Unless killing her was simply a secondary objective and the primary one was simply to remove her as a potential factor from the system.

    But why? Had she inadvertently stepped on someone’s toes in here? Or had it taken up to this point for countermeasures set from the beginning to kick in?

    Well, at least Primacelcus still had a smidgeon of sense left, so there was that, but…

    Lecturer Vandemeel, is that currently the area around town of Road's End - a radius of exactly two miles around the town - has more or less disappeared chronologically. It cannot be observed in any fashion, as if the spherical area itself had vanished from the stream of time. It is a temporal and metaphysical black box which we cannot see into. Even I had to use the old WW2 tunnels to reach the town and slip into the phenomena. Had I gone landside, I might have not simply found the town, or... well, I don't even wanna think about the alternates.
    “…the actual removal of this entire town from the observable timeline?”

    From a magical perspective, it could probably be done. There were magical foundations associated with the dilation of time. Stories and myths based on other worlds were a hundred years passed for each one in the real world. The Japanese tale of Urashima Taro, King Herla, Oisin, or a dozen other legends could serve as a limited foundation for something like this. Hell, no need to go into foreign mythologies. The US itself had the tale of Rip Van Winkle which could be used as a basis, provided that a significant degree of similitude could be established. That was just theory though. The realistic establishment of something like that required…

    Well, the specifics were not important at the moment.

    “As you seem to be aware of already, Road’s End currently seems to be in a time loop, where the events of one week seem to be repeating.” The Estonian witch fell into thought for a brief second, before continuing. “…though perhaps “time loop” is not the correct phrasing here. I suspect that Road’s End is cycling through potential possibilities for this week.”

    “Alternative outcomes, basically. Specifically, the timeframe between Wednesday morning and Sunday evening. The unobservable nature of this town is most likely because the “outcome” of this week is in constant flux. The World is not sure which “result” is the correct one, in essence.” For a brief moment, visible frustration washed over her, as another sound of irritation escaped her lips. “I have no idea on the specific mechanisms they used to manifest this, though considering that it seems to be something more associated with the… “other side” of the Turnside, it is questionable of much I’d even be able to understand the fundamental theory.”

    "Can you not simply ignore this for now? Join forces, as it were! Or perhaps just to make sure the people we like don't die! Really, you can go either or!"
    “Why? There is clearly nothing more important for me to do than to be hunted by the hounds of the Pentagrammon on made-up charges. “The girl in red rolled her eyes, even as her voice was dripping with evident sarcasm. “ I have no intention of complicating things here. God knows they are complicated enough already.”

    Her sharp eyes moved from Zaza back towards the Russian member of the Office of Censorship and Detainment.

    “It's just necessary for me to verify that our dear Ottoman friend here won’t decide to arrest me whenever the circumstances are convenient.” Her voice clouded over with thought for a moment. “… though “making sure people don’t die” might not be too far off from what we need to do.”

    “For the outcome of this place to remain in perpetual flux, they need to avoid having anyone observe how this week ends in Road’s End. If the outcome was to be observed, that timeline would solidify, and the temporal paradox would resolve. They can’t allow that to happen before their particular preferred timeline has come to fruition.”

    “I suspect that is why everyone is killed at the end of each week. It is necessary to “reset” the clock for another potential outcome, in essence. Though…” A tentative question was aimed at Nikolai. “There is no time discordance outside of this loop, am I correct? Is it still September, 1994 in the outside world?”

    And then…

    And less dramatically... because whether you were aware of it or not, you are not the first Vandemeel to have set foot in Road's End, Lecturer.
    Complete and utter silence reigned in the hallway in response to Nikolai’s statement. For once, it seemed that even the normally unflappable Estonian girl was taken off guard for a moment, her features painted over with complete and utter disbelief.

    “…what?”


    It took a second for the raven-haired girl to gather herself.

    “If I'm completely honest that seems exceptionally unlikely. For one, my family line is kind of… sparse, if you get my drift.”

    They had never been particularly numerous, even when they were at their height eight or so hundred years ago. In fact, the entire bloodline had only two people still alive, besides herself of course. One fast approaching eighty and another who was a mental vegetable stuck in a seaside sanatorium. Neither of whom had ever stepped foot outside of Estonia as far as she knew.

    “…well that and travel outside our borders has been kinda tough for the last ninety or so years, but I don’t have to tell you about that, now do I, comrade?

  18. #4418
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Vivienne Bianchi
    Location: Owl's Nest - Dining Area
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "It's... odd. Not just because what's in the painting, but because he's so tight-lipped about it - yet fawns over it when he's alone."

    She frowned.

    "Actually... it's easier to show than to explain. C'mon."

    Rachel let out an annoyed grunt as she downed the rest of the coffee. Then she set the cup on the table, wiped her mouth with a napkin and stood up - only to motion Vivienne quietly to follow her. And not just in the way that told she had something to show to the other girl, but it was something they'd need to do in secret... quiet, and without others at the dining hall noticing. Thus, once Vivienne was done with her own coffee as well, the redhead took the lead, heading deeper into the hotel proper. She passed by the lobby, subtly made sure that her uncle was nowhere in sight, then produced a ring of keys from her pocket which she used to open a sturdy side door.

    A door that led into the heart of the hotel, where the family who owned it actually lived.

    Away from the carpeted floors of the actual hotel, Vivienne found herself in a world of old wood and expensive tastes. Without the typical dressings of a hotel, the building turned out to resemble a massive log cabin more than anything else, with the interior decorating consisting of animal hides, antlers and such. In other words, it was a rather rustic look. The corridor that opened up beyond the door had at least three deer heads mounted on the walls already, dotting the landscape with the doors leading to other parts of the area. Aside from that, there was also the matter of the painted wall-murals that ran through the whole of the corridor. It was a bit hard to see, but Vivienne got the idea that they represented... a pair of wolves and a pair of ravens, engaged in a battle of some sort against what looked to be nature and spirits? All the while some sort of weird figure watched from above...

    "Here."

    Rachel's voice brought her back from her thoughts, and the two girls took the furthest door in the corridor, which led to a large library of sorts. Or perhaps a study? The walls were lined with bookshelves and there was an expensive-looking rug on the floor. A chandelier made out of antlers hung from the ceiling while a massive bear head had been mounted onto the wall near the windows that stared out into the valley below. Stairs nearby rose up to a separate, higher landing, where Vivienne could see a writing desk and a heavy, ornate-looking wooden chair - along with more bookshelves.

    But that all wasn't what Rachel was here for. No, instead, she brought Vivienne to near the fireplace, where two leather armchairs stared into the ashen stone pits. And above it... was the thing they had come to look at.

    --- A painting.

    "See? That thing... there's something off about it," the redhead said, frowning at the portrait. "I just can't quite put my finger on it. It's like, the more I stare it, the deeper I stare it, I..."

    Rachel sighed.

    "... I don't know. It just feels like there's something here that I can't see. But my uncle can, and that's why he obsesses over this... whoever this is," she continued. "Aside from the obvious. I mean, I have no idea where that chapel displayed there is, but mark my words..."

    She frowned at the subject of the painting.

    "--- That's a McLampet. The family we're supposed to hate."

    And while Vivienne looked up to the painting...

    It stared back.
    Last edited by Verg Avesta; February 25th, 2022 at 10:22 AM.

  19. #4419
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Elise Pelltier & Lucille Faraday
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Old Ash? Either Big Boy's, or his shack near the old trainstation, I'd wager," Samuel replied, looking a bit surprised. "Though I admit, I didn't figure him to be an important figure. If anything, he's always been a bit of a loony, ranting about government conspiracies and all sorts of other Coast to Coast type of stuff... then again. Heh."

    A sort of sarcastic smile spread on the young man's face.

    "It's not that hard to believe right now, is it?" He continued. "Still, if it's evening, I'd check by Big Boy's. He usually hangs there during weekends, unless something else important comes up."

    Having said that, the fluffy-haired boy wiped his mouth with a napkin, before starting to pack away his meager stuff after this rather large breakfast. Indeed, they had more or less finished, though at the same time, it was hard to say that they had eaten all that much - at least, considering what a large breakfast they had ordered. Perhaps it had been the subject matter, perhaps the general stress bearing down on them, perhaps it was a combination of both... however, appetite was hard to come by in times such as these. And looking at the nearby empty plate in a booth where that fisherwoman had sat moments ago, it didn't seem they were the only ones. In fact, the blond deputy's booth seemed to have suffered a similar fate.

    "Still. I think Miss Lucille's suggestions is a good one. Though, if you don't mind, while you pursue those leads... well, there are things I need to take care. Albert, first and foremost. Though how I'll explain this all to him..." Samuel let out an awkward chuckle. "... Guess I have that to look forward to. Plus, I should try to find Tris. Lord knows what she has been getting up to while I've been... Oh. Right. She won't recognize me like this. Wonder if I can still..."

    He focused his face for a moment, adopting the most serious expression. And then, without blinking or batting an eye, he stared at the two girls before him and...


    "Pyo~oooon..."

    ...

    What the fresh hell was this?

    Was he... was he trying to achieve the same look with his current, all-too-human face?

    ... And why was he looking at the duo so expectantly, like a puppy expecting to be praised for doing such a great job!?




    Alexstrasza Lockhart & Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Hmh...? But that's...?"

    Looking a bit confused at Anna's statement, Nikolai adopted a thoughtful expression and put a knuckle to his chin, rubbing it absent-mindedly while his mind seemed to be working at a mile per second. Judging by his face, he either had expected a different sort of answer from Anna, was surprised that she didn't seem to know, or perhaps something else... but be that as it may, this revelation had resulted in the young man going off into his own mind palace, trying to piece together everything that it meant - most likely trying to find a way to be as diplomatic as possible in how to proceed, considering he had acted like he had been waling on eggshells so far.

    However, that didn't seem to sit well with someone. Or rather, it seemed like they had had enough about all this wishy-washy action.

    And thus, spurred on by Alexstrasza's innocent question...

    "-----!"

    "Ah-wha---GYAAAAH!?"

    A certain wispy, white spider launched itself from the top of the vampire's head and straight into the face of Nikolai, swatting him with its tiny little appendages as if a mother trying to beat some sense into their kid. The Ottoman, on the other hand, didn't take this surprise assault too well, and let out a scream that was surprisingly high-pitched. He spun around, trying to shake off the assaulter, but to no avail. Indeed, the spider doubled down and bit into his nose, swinging around in the momentum now with all its legs flailing behind it like flags in the wind.

    As this sorry little escapade - thankfully - seemed to quiet down as the familiar then grabbed a hold of Nikolai's face and stared deep into his eyes as if trying to relay some message, one question came to mind...

    ... Was this really who the Office of Censorship and Detainment had sent to capture Anna?

    Really?

    "Aah... haah... g-gugh..." Nikolai breathed heavily, finally calming himself down. "R-right, you're absolutely right... whoever you are. Though, um... could you perhaps ask your familiar to stop biting my nose...?"

    The spider, looking rather smug and satisfied, let go and hopped off of the young man's face, skittering across the floor and straight up the leg of Alexstrasza and into her clothes, making its way upwards to the vantage point on top of her head. Nikolai, meanwhile, muttered something that sounded an awful lot like a relieved prayer under his breath and took a moment to collect his bearings and the fragments of his dignity.

    Finally, he looked back at the two of them.

    "Umm... right. Sorry about that. I have ah, a bad habit of getting lost in my own thoughts. Sometimes for far too long," he said and chuckled sheepishly - only to return back to a more serious expression. "But to take things from the top... yes. I agree with you, Miss Lockhart. This seems like hardly the time for detaining Lecturer Vandemeel, or attempting to. Things are far more than they appear or the divinators predicted - ergo, solving this problem takes precedence. We can worry about the political fallout later, though... Hm."

    A somewhat amused smirk appeared on the young man's face as he glanced at Anna.

    "I presume that having you march back to Orloj, under the protection of the Office of Censorship and Detainment, would be a good way to blow the lid off whatever court-scheming is going on behind closed doors. Mages do love their dramatic outrage when things don't go as planned," he spoke, sounding like he had experience on the subject. "However, as for other things... well, first of all - yes. There's no... hm, 'difference' in time between outside and inside as far as I know of. Naturally, it's hard to say, since this is where things get complicated. After all, it took a couple of days to travel here from Europe, and I certainly wasn't prepared for... this."

    He made a vague gesture at everything around him.

    "It's best to expect I'm no longer a 'trustworthy' when it comes to measuring time, especially if there's a difference between outside or inside - after all, I've been captured by this phenomena as well. This... 'shifting through timelines' as you put it. Though, shifting for what, that is the question... what sort of gold is the one responsible for this after? And what sort of ploy do they have in place in the first place if they want to 'establish' a new truth for this chronological black box? It would have to be an Observer of unprecedent scale, capable of seeing everything and anything withing the radius, almost omnipresent in a way..." He frowned, clearly not liking the idea. "... Well, there's a subject one could speculate about endlessly. And as you've said, it's unlikely it has been activated yet, considering it would solidify this moment in time... unless this way of observation can be 'reset' somehow as well. Still, never mind."

    He shook his head, banishing away the thoughts that were about to start spinning inside his head once more.

    Then, he took a look at Alexstrasza.

    "That being said, what did you say about murderers? As in, people actively killing others? That... seems ominous. Especially if this area is really being looped, or repeated," he asked. "After all, there is no more clear-cut way to 'branch out' into a different timeline than by killing someone in a closed system. The ripples sent out by such an act are extremely strong and potent - like switching tracks on a train. This... does not sound like a coincidence. And speaking of which..."

    Once again, Nikolai's eyes turned back to Anna.

    "I do not claim to know too much of your family history, Miss Vandemeel. However, our records do show that a member of the Vandemeel bloodline was involved in something in here... in the north-western parts of the Washington state in June of 1947," Nikolai spoke, his tone of voice extremely serious. "It was a minor scandal during the time - some saying it was even akin to treason or betrayal, and the man's face and name was scrubbed from many official texts. After all, he had been contacted by agents of a certain masonic organization belonging to this country. They hired him as an... expert of sorts. For what, we don't know, but this job required extensive magical knowledge and research-mindedness, so perhaps they had found something in here that they did not have the personnel and resources to study. And by 'they' I speak of Nathan F. Twining of the United States Air Force."

    Nikolai narrowed his eyes, though he also seemed to worry about what sort of effect this truth was having on the raven-haired girl.

    "The person who they contacted and hired was... Kaspar Vandemeel," he finally said. "Your grandfather, from what I understand."

    That's when it happens.
    Sudden visions in her mind's eye. Memories long buried. Perhaps repressed.

    Sharp features. Sharper eyes. A gravely voice brought down by pipe tobacco.

    The smell of pine resin.

    A hand, stained red.

    Cold and warmth, intermingling and intertwining. Like flames licking ice.

    He stands there, on the cold beach of sand and tiny pebbles, tarring a boat.

    He looks back, at her, and speaks...

    "■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■■■, Väike Kaaren."

    And smiles like he's in pain.


    As Alexstrasza watched Anna suddenly fall into a stupor, almost like a trance, she noticed something else odd as well. The spider on top of her head was waving its arm at her, as if to catch her attention. Then it pointed at the raven-haired mage, as if indicating something about her... and then towards the cafeteria doors in the distance. Hmh? Wait? It wanted Anna... in the cafeteria? But why?

    No, now it was acting out something different. Mimicking... what was that supposed to mean? One arm that was extended high, then pointed to Anna, while another was brought low and pointed towards the cafeteria?

    It wanted Anna to talk to someone shorter than her in... the cafeteria?

    Was there someone that tiny in there?

    --- Well, perhaps she could ask, as the Estonian girl suddenly blinked, as if having come back from trip to her memories, only to see Ramia's worried gaze from next to her.

  20. #4420
    Elise Pelltier
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel Lowgate
    "Old Ash? Either Big Boy's, or his shack near the old train station, I'd wager. Though I admit, I didn't figure him to be an important figure. If anything, he's always been a bit of a loony, ranting about government conspiracies and all sorts of other Coast to Coast type of stuff... then again. Heh."

    "It's not that hard to believe right now, is it? Still, if it's evening, I'd check by Big Boy's. He usually hangs there during weekends, unless something else important comes up."
    "If H.P. Lovecraft has taught me anything, it's that the town's seemingly mad drunkard always knows more than he appears to."

    The old train station? That was one of the places Ms. Popplewell said that Devon Rustfield wanted to explore. Was he looking for Ashley Xavier too? Or was there something else he was looking for there? wondered Elise, Still, Big Boy's seems like a much nicer place to venture to later today than the old train station...

    Samuel discussed his plans for the day, of using his time to visit and reconnect with his old friends. Elise smiled at the thought of some of the long lost friends of the Last Class finally having a chance to reconnect after so long. After that terrible day on that rainy day so long ago that tore them apart. Elise's smile faded, however, as Samuel tried his best to imitate the facial expressions of his marshmallow body.

    The effect was disconcerting at best.

    "That's-that's actually a pretty good impersonation of U-Salem, but it's a little weird seeing that expression on a human face... I don't think you need to worry about though. I can't say for sure, but my gut tells me that Tris will know who you are, regardless of what you might look like," said Elise, "That said, if you do need mimic your old form, please don't attempt to do that tube man flail. You can't move like that anymore. You have bones now."

    It would be truly tragic if Samuel, so soon after his release from the hospital, had to return because he shattered every bone in his body by trying to move in ways that only an inflatable tube man could.

    "Rachel left a get well soon card by your bed, and it looked like she must have visited you at the hospital just a day or two ago. I'm sure she'd be excited to see you up and about again too."

    It hardly seems fair that Samuel finally wakes up from his come after seven years, and then has barely a day to reconnect with his friends before disaster strikes.

    "I wish I could just ask you to meet us back at the school tomorrow morning, but I really don't know what'll happen in the town. They could be in just as much danger. Elaine said the hospital was closed when she got there on Saturday night, and when I drove through town on Sunday afternoon, I didn't see anyone at all."

    Elise sighed. Just how far had the horrors of last Sunday stretched? Was it Pinefall and the First Class that was targeted specifically, or was it the whole town in general?

    "Is there some way we can contact each other if we need to? The phones went down last week, so they can't be counted on. Maybe a meeting or rally point or something?" suggested Elise, "Otherwise, I suppose none of us have a reliable thaumaturgy for communication? I certainly don't. Father Milani has some hyper-sonic messenger pigeons, we could really use one of those right about now..."

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