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Thread: Astronomika - Shooting Down Falling Stars (IC)

  1. #4321
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Again and again, the shovel digs into the ground. I need to put all my strength in it, and there isn't much to go around. The shovel's not exactly kid-sized either, so leveraging it is awkward. Gotta rear back, get momentum, and stab down with both hands. Then put all my weight onto the blunt edge to drive it down into the dirt. Not too effective when you're this light.

    Ah, drat. This is tough. Of course it would be. People have walked atop this ground, haven't they? It's packed down.

    Getting chilly too. Not quite cold enough for the ground to freeze, but just enough that my fingers feel numb after only...

    Huh. How many times did I swing this thing again? Feels like it's made more of a dent in me than it has this stupid ground. Six feet under? I'll be lucky to get six inches-.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahti
    "----------- Okay, move aside, Imp."
    "Eh-?"

    A massive hand buries another shovel into the dirt in a single smooth motion.

    Ahti steps past, pushing me aside, rough and gentle at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahti
    "...You dig where I've broken the ground. It's softer there. And we'll get this done faster. Unless you have complaints?"
    "...no, it's fine. I appreciate it."

    No sense playing tough. Don't wanna keep everyone waiting on me.

    Besides... that look Ahti's giving me is saying "if you try to act tough I will bully you".

    I dig my shovel into the hole he opened up, and...

    "Y-you're not mad about earlier, are ya...?"

    An awkward sentence comes out. Anything to keep the atmosphere from getting too heavy.

    Aw geeze, what's going on? I'm losing it...
    Last edited by Bloble; December 4th, 2021 at 09:33 PM.

  2. #4322
    Glorious Grammar Master Race Frantic Author's Avatar
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    Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Science Classroom
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Really Potemkin, I fail to see what your ridiculous visions have to do with my current investigative ventures. After all, neither the opinions of Devon nor of Travis have any effect on my current position here, right? It's just a matter of the facts, simply: they are intrigued because magic is amazing, not because of me as a person.

    ...Honestly, the nerve of you to i-imply that they have some sort of... of... l-l-lewd intentions! Obviously they don't! Who goes around making friends with people for the explicit purpose of lewdness!? Nobody, that's who.

    Ignoring Potemkin's foolishness, I walked to the cabinets to peer inside, frowning as I did so. If anything, would I not be the one considered to have strange intentions? After all, my desires, my hopes, my fears... Those are things that I can't control, but I doubt most would approve of. It's the natural state of mages, is t not?

    To be unwanted.

    Staring at the keys, I glanced towards the storage room with a frown of all the places in this room, it was the most likely place to hide thing, and so towards it I went. The key made a satisfying clickas I inserted it, opening the door to look inside.

    ....Hey, wait a minute.

    "...Does everyone think I have feelings for Cesarina?!"

    That doesn't even make sense! Girls can't do that sort of thing with other girls, right?!
    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.


  3. #4323
    approaching euthymia Katie's Avatar
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    Lucille Faraday
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    "I heard that Mrs. Walker's husband died overseas. She caught a glimpse of the Disembodied Man shortly before receiving the news of her husband's passing."
    “If that’s the case, I’d rather not pry,” Lucille says. Doctrine says she shouldn’t get cold feet, but she is not the kind of person who would dredge up memories as horrifying as that. From Samuel’s description alone, the Disembodied Man was already the worst the Turnside could possess. “Ideally, we’ll be spending another year in town.”

    On the other hand, if they died and went back to the beginning, they could do anything they wanted without consequence. And that thought was much, much scarier.

    "For that matter… I've kind of wondered… your class didn't have access to the dormitories like we do. Just where did everyone live anyway?" asked Elise, "That you know of anyway."
    “I’m curious about this too,” Lucille adds on, wondering about the state of the school. “Isn’t the campus too large for a small town like this? How much was added by Mr. Oceandrop’s investments and how much of it was left alone? Likewise, if Jake works there as the janitor, has he been using his position to hide certain things from us?”

    She rattles off a list of questions in her curiosity. The school has always been one of the red flags surrounding their experience at Pinefall, so maybe someone who knew the old could really help them separate what was always there and what should be looked into.

  4. #4324
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    "...Vier just ran into him I believe, and yes... There are some things I'd like to ask him about now myself, since it seems he's making a habit of keeping secrets from me...And now a panic bunker by the statue. Interesting combination of things, right?"

    Liana’s attention turned to Colt, the young man meeting her with a hardened, firm stare.

    "...Did I miss anything important last night? When V and I ran off after the fake?"

    “Keeping secrets, yeah, he sure is.” The boy spoke as calmly as he could, but the frustration found its way into his tone regardless. “Not about his true nature though. That’s on full display, all to bare. I don’t know how you haven’t seen it, or I guess I should say I don’t get why you ignore it.”

    Colt stopped himself there. Anger was running amok, taking a bite at the first valid target it could find. He had to quit while he could, and by force. So he bit the inner wall of his cheek, and sighed.

    “Sorry. I don’t choose who you associate with. Last night…”

    Words from the previous night, the last words Hawthorn said to him before parting ways, passed through his memory and out from his lips. “

    “All I'm doing is destroying an illusion to keep another one up. One that serves my goals, not hers. I'll reset a variable that went wrong, replace a rusted part and start again from scratch. See, what she fails to realize... There are no heroes in this world. No knights. No myths. Not anymore. All that's here are villains with their own motives."

    Colt repeated the words. At some point, his fingers had tightened into a fist at his side.

    “That’s what he said after he took the shots. Make of it what you will, I’ve already come to my own conclusion. He’s not on my side. He’s not on your side. He’s on his own side.” A side that saw every person here as just another variable. “He’s worked for Jack longer than these two, yet somehow he doesn’t know about the bunker? Jayesh says Jack has a condition and needs help being restrained, and Hawthorn tells us none of this. Seems like stuff that might have been useful to share last night, confidentiality be damned.”

    More things to say came to mind. But if he started, it’d be all too easy to slip and tumble toward saying things that he shouldn’t.

    “… There’s no reason to sit around talking it out. Vier,” Colt turned towards the girl, who seemed to be in the process of leaving. “Where is he?”


  5. #4325
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Location: Pinefall High Main Building – Cafeteria
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast



    “…I see,” John mutters following Anna Vandemeel’s commentary on the matter of Ultravania. “I keep binding myself to the idea that there must be a single, definitive answer. Or perhaps I want there to be a single answer because I prefer things to be simple. I shall strive to open myself to the reality that things are never so.”

    Really, what are you doing, John Dove? Are you not supposed to be the guy who has observed the grey people for years? The guy who has absorbed disgusting amounts of occult lore? All that occultism—obtuse, contradictory, vague and pretentious—was written by humans. People whose brains work just like your high school classmates, your psychiatrist and everybody else.

    It is the same with the Turnside. People in the Turnside behave the way they do not because they have become something other than human, but precisely because they are humans adapting to the circumstances of a different, secret world.

    John Dove claims to be the man who does not judge. However, that attitude is neither neutrality nor tolerance, merely disdain. As long as he does not look properly to people as people, he will remain the buffoon who can do nothing else but quote people far more interesting and creative than he will ever be.

    “However, I cannot get rid of the belief that she is a thing of man. A human creation, not some sort of ‘natural emanation’ like a god or a fae. Although, perhaps she is not a creation of conscious intent, but something like…a demon of numen. Something that did not exist yet gained fame and a legend of its own, which allowed it to come into existence.” Catching himself about to dive yet again into the depths of occultic discourse, John chuckles and shakes his head. “But anything beyond this would be conjecture.”

    Besides, Anna Vandemeel has her own ideas.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anna Vandemeel
    “As you said yourself, you want to do something before she becomes a monster to be put down. If she… lets say shows up tomorrow in a blaze of nuclear fire, completely devoid of sense, unwilling to listen to reason, and aiming to wipe us all out. What’s the plan then? Kill her?”
    Is she…trying to provoke me? What a meaningless…no. If she is doing this, then it must have meaning to her.

    “I will always choose life, Vandemeel,” is his prompt response. “Ideally, we would restrain or incapacitate without killing her, but I recognize that is an optimistic outcome.”

    He closes his eyes. For all his years of disregard for others, he is not the kind of person who can feel comfortable talking about killing somebody. John Dove is an ordinary young man who favors peace, and the specter of Ramalsaqr’s callous actions towards Elaine Winters have left a scar that will never heal.

    “In the circumstances you describe, if the only options are living with the burden of her death on my hands, or—”

    Irrelevance.

    “—a death that does not achieve anything, I will choose to live. I do not particularly enjoy the idea of dying, or being killed.”

    His mind instinctively seeks out the familiar weight and shape of Ishtar Irkalla in his pocket.

    “Besides, the deaths of others are not an unfamiliar load to bear.”

  6. #4326
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye/Sora Hikari
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    Quote Originally Posted by Colt
    “All I'm doing is destroying an illusion to keep another one up. One that serves my goals, not hers. I'll reset a variable that went wrong, replace a rusted part and start again from scratch. See, what she fails to realize... There are no heroes in this world. No knights. No myths. Not anymore. All that's here are villains with their own motives."


    "..."

    ---Nothing.

    A dead silence, still body, and the trampled remains of a smile that no longer exists.

    There had been always been an obvious attempt by the girl to always keep smiling, it was in her philosophy after all, smile so that others don't feel as afraid, smile so that people can believe everything is going to be all right, smile so that she can believe it, for her own sake just as much as anyone else, but...

    "..."

    Nothing.

    For the longest time nothing, her expression falls as a mask shatters and no attempt to put it back on is made; for awhile, there's simply no energy left in the young woman at all, the arms that are holding Sierra slacken, and she listens to things she really doesn't want to hear, listens without saying anything in response, until...

    "Hah..."

    A weak laugh, agonizing, as the girl finally attempts to return to her normal self.

    The smile is shaky, strained...

    Obviously painful.

    "Damn... Forgot how much words can hurt... Hahaha..."

    ---It's not funny.

    What does it mean? What do those words really mean?

    The obvious question, one with a mostly obvious answer and yet...

    She doesn't want to think about it.

    That the ending to last night might not have meant exactly what she thought it had meant, that perhaps Nora had been trying to tell her something important after all, that he had his own motivation for silencing the girl, that he had never really believed in her at all, that this poisonous stack of lies can spread back pretty far actually, if she was so inclined to look at things in that way...

    That's the problem with lies.

    They poison the well, once someone does it to you once, it puts everything else into question; what else was a lie? How else had she been used as a chess piece? Was any of it true at all or was he just laughing at her the whole time?

    "..."

    Intrusive thoughts.

    She doesn't want to think about it, but they appear all the same; manifestations of doubt, that Colt was not incorrect in some of his postulations, that Thorne withholding so much information about Jack at such a crucial time was more than enough cause for concern, but...

    He's her friend.

    She still wants to believe.

    ---That makes it hurt more, really.

    Is it old-fashioned to assume that friends don't lie to each other?

    "..."

    ...She'd never had that many, so honestly she couldn't say.

    Even so-

    "...That being said-"

    -she'd gone through poisonous thoughts before, there's no reason to succumb to them now.

    If he was acting as a villain, than as his friend, she had to leash him back in, hear what he has to say for himself and figure out how to proceed from there...

    "-Thorne isn't a lost cause. There's good in him, even if he doesn't believe that himself."

    The words come naturally, from somewhere she can't quite fathom...

    Then...

    "Even if his actions don't seem to reflect that. Just means I might have to beat him up a little to remind him."

    ---Strength returns.

    "I'm going to the bunker now."

    She turns away.

    "It's probably safer to go back inside Sierra, but..."

    Towards the statue, towards the area where she knows the bunker lies, before turning her gaze to Sierra.

    "If you want to follow me, you can. I'll protect you. But don't think you have to, I'm more than willing to drag both Jack and Thorne back here on their knees with me to apologize to you."

    ---If Thorne didn't talk about the bunker, it was either because he was covering for Jack, or planned on visiting it himself at some point while no one was paying attention, in which case...

    "Rest of you, don't do anything reckless."

    ...it might be best to hurry.

    She walks off.

    "Yell for me if you guys find my shady friend."
    Last edited by Airen; December 4th, 2021 at 10:29 PM.
    Exodus (Complete)

    Even if the author is silenced, the performance is stilled and the actors leave the stage, the story will never truly end.

    Regardless of the form it takes, as long as there are memories of it's existence, the story will continue on.

    In a small ward in the heart of a once devastated town, life carries on as it always has...

    Because of you.

    Please, remember it warmly.

    We'll continue to walk down this path for eternity.




    Mugen No Sekai

    "The Illusion Incomplete Memories Produce Are,

    Fleeting, Disappearing into the Future,

    Until the Ruins of Yesterday Overflow,

    For That Which Falls Only to Rise is Simply a--"

  7. #4327
    Konkon Kitsune~ Kuroyuki's Avatar
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    “Vier”
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra
    "P-Papa's...! He's... he's...! J-Jayesh, he knew where...! In the bunker... Papa's... the panic bunker...!"
    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    "The panic bunker? I see... By the statue… Okay. We'll go see him in just a moment. But I need you to not run off on your own, okay?"
    While making sure not to trigger Aleen’s barf reactions, we were intercepted enroute to the kitchen area. And the news that we received was interesting to say the least. Because it solved some of last night’s mysteries. Such as the mystery of where did the owner of the Spade Queen County Club disappear to. If Sierra’s memories were untampered, then the owner was still missing. While there is the possibility that Nora Norumbega was impersonating him, it’s unlikely that Sierra would mistake her father if she replaced him for a good portion of today. However for a short duration and enough observations… Someone can masquerade as others. Enough to get in without question.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cathie Walker
    "... We might have a bigger problem. Guys... does anyone know where that guy Hawthorn went? Because we might need to question him about last night."
    I had to note that the word used was ‘question’ not ‘ask’ implying that Hawthorn was going to have to be coerced into answering the questions. However, why would he need to be coerced into answering when he was forthcoming with answering last night… Unless...

    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    "...Vier just ran into him I believe, and yes... There are some things I'd like to ask him about now myself, since it seems he's making a habit of keeping secrets from me. But some things are clear enough…”
    “Explain the situation.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    “Silver bullets in the boss's safe, claw marks in his office, the type of wounds Jayesh had when we found him, a visitor to the club last night that is basically the manifestation of a certain celestial object and one that I know for a fact Thorne knew was here… ...And now a panic bunker by the statue. Interesting combination of things, right?"
    With the following facts that Liana described, I could postulate several theories. The silver bullets were to be a failsafe against the owner who was most likely a werewolf. Even with a standard handgun, silver bullets would deeply affect it. The panic bunker was to ensure that he could prevent himself from harming others due to the Full Moon’s influence. His usual strategy failing due to the sudden visitation of the manifestation of the moon in his building. Hence why Jayesh Omkara would appear in the grounds with unusual cut wounds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    "...Did I miss anything important last night? When V and I ran off after the fake?"
    Quote Originally Posted by Colt Davin
    “Keeping secrets, yeah, he sure is. Not about his true nature though. That’s on full display, all to bare. I don’t know how you haven’t seen it, or I guess I should say I don’t get why you ignore it. Sorry. I don’t choose who you associate with. Last night…”
    Colt Davin doesn’t seem to get along with Hawthorn. As he clearly takes a moment to compose himself before saying a phrase from last night.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hawthorn's quote
    “All I'm doing is destroying an illusion to keep another one up. One that serves my goals, not hers. I'll reset a variable that went wrong, replace a rusted part and start again from scratch. See, what she fails to realize... There are no heroes in this world. No knights. No myths. Not anymore. All that's here are villains with their own motives."
    Quote Originally Posted by Colt Davin
    “That’s what he said after he took the shots. Make of it what you will, I’ve already come to my own conclusion. He’s not on my side. He’s not on your side. He’s on his own side. He’s worked for Jack longer than these two, yet somehow he doesn’t know about the bunker? Jayesh says Jack has a condition and needs help being restrained, and Hawthorn tells us none of this. Seems like stuff that might have been useful to share last night, confidentiality be damned.”
    Destroying an illusion to keep another one up. If we assume that the illusion he is speaking of is deluding Liana and I into believing that he is on our side, then it would be a powerful move. He has a strong precedent on why we should trust him. Hawthorn has provided accurate, trustworthy information. Saving Liana from an attack from Nora Norumbega. If the current information is trustworthy, then this would explain the reason why Cathie Walker said question and her haste earlier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Colt Davin
    “… There’s no reason to sit around talking it out. Vier. Where is he?”
    I didn’t immediately respond to Colt Davin’s words as I started loading some of the Colt Delta Elite with the silver bullets before racking the slide and flipping the safety on. I went to respond at this time, but.

    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    "Hah… Damn... Forgot how much words can hurt... Hahaha..."
    Liana gave a small, weak laugh. While I’m thinking of removing the possible insider threat in our midst, Liana was just told that her boyfriend or close platonic friend was manipulating us for some unknown goal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    "...That being said Thorne isn't a lost cause. There's good in him, even if he doesn't believe that himself Even if his actions don't seem to reflect that. Just means I might have to beat him up a little to remind him. I'm going to the bunker now. It's probably safer to go back inside Sierra, but… If you want to follow me, you can. I'll protect you. But don't think you have to, I'm more than willing to drag both Jack and Thorne back here on their knees with me to apologize to you."
    “Then we should split up. I was planning on tracking him based on his last known location at the owner’s garage. If that location leads to the panic bunker, then you should come across him anyways. If he’s trying to mind game everyone again, then I’ll come across him.”

    I remove my hand from Aleen’s and instead give her the Colt Delta Elite with its silver bullets and extra magazines.

    “And this is for you. I can’t track someone like Hawthorn and stay with you. If I’m going to keep pace with him, I need someone fast, good at tracking, and stealth on the move at the same time. You can barely move without puking so I need you to stay with Lia's group okay? I promise I'm not using this as an opportunity to run and sulk.”

    I watch Liana start to walk away. I give her a gentle push towards the rest of the group, before running off towards Hawthorn’s last known location to track him down. I need to move quickly, vigilantly, and as quietly as possible if I want to track down this possible insider threat. I also didn't respond to Liana's request to call for her if I find Hawthorn on purpose, because if I do find Hawthorn and he's a threat. I don't want Liana to find the aftermath of that confrontation. She's already on the breaking point, I don't want to add more onto that.

  8. #4328
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Why did he have to be like that?

    It was hard to just walk away when he was expressing such emotions.

    Hard to just ignore them, and not relate to them. Even if he was shady, his actions questionable, and even if he was lying...He must have went through a lot. In the end, he was, one way or another, driven mad as well.

    But...I already made my decision.

    However, just as I reached the end of that line of thought, Mercedes' voice reached my ears, and as I turned back, my hand moved instinctively to catch whatever she was throwing my way. Something that, as I got a better look once it was in my hands, turned out to be a rather old photo.

    A photo of a woman, who...

    Just like that one time, an annoying feeling filled up my mind, the feeling of missing something obvious that was right there. Why did she come up in this context? Did it mean that she was this guy's daughter and apprentice? Did he know of her abilities, and what...No, it was quite unlikely that he was aware of what exactly she was doing now. In the end, it mattered not, whichever the case.

    [Hey.]

    The address did not look familiar at any rate. It likely wasn't from Road's End, and she was certainly not staying there now, so it wasn't telling much. Hence why my mind was focused on bringing the mental connection with Pyry to the front, sharpening the related thoughts and emotions while momentarily pushing everything else into the background.

    [I was going to give the guy some sandwiches, so that he wouldn't have to eat...whatever he was eating. But I forgot, and no way I'm going to run another circle.]

    Objectively true.

    [Also, it's unlikely that you're going to find anything more at the station, since that's where he camps. Unless he is deliberately trying to hide something, but...well.]

    Still objectively true.

    [Anyways, come out.You can talk here as well, and then we can move on to the warehouse once we are done here.]

  9. #4329
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters, Bon Johve & Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building – Cafeteria
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Ramia Ramalsaqr's face fell into a deep, deep frown of thought.

    "To kill an Idea..." She murmured, biting her thumb in what appeared to be genuine frustration. "Red, I dunno if you're brave or foolhardy... but that doesn't change the fact that as mad as that sounds, it might become the only option we have left. That or the even more insane option of restraining her."

    Both Zhou and Subaru looked at each other with some confusion as they heard that. While the former seemed to have some inkling of an idea about the more metaphysical concepts that had been discussed, the latter looked to be rather out of the loop. Indeed, after sipping on her tea for a moment while trying to piece the discussed topics together, Subaru eventually sighed a little and let her shoulders slump.

    "Um... as embarrassing as it is to admit, I have to say that I could not follow the conversation overmuch. I am trained in spiritual, religious ways of what you would call the Far East - and this sounds an awful lot like Greek concepts," she said, turning her eyes towards John and Anna. "But like Miss Ramalsaqr said, it would seem that this does not change the most important fact: that the individual you speak of might be dangerously close to their breaking point - and that if they do break, we should find some way to deal with them before they hurt too many."

    Ramia was the first one to nod, a sort of dark amusement clear in her smirk as she heard Subaru's words.

    "No need to beat yourself, Subaru. In all honesty, I doubt we're making much sense to each other, even," she said, glancing towards the duo of John and Anna as well. "However, what you said there, John... it did make me think of something. Plato, to be exact. You'd be surprised, but that guy... in ways, you could say that much of the way we view and make sense of the Turnside has been influenced by him, at least in the western world. In ways, he's as influental as the Mage-King Solomon. Still, to put it succintly, what the guy here mentioned, his Theory of Forms or Ideas, it's this idea that our physical, tangible world is a pale reflection of the timeless, absolute, unchangeable ideas and their world. If what we have here is a mutable lie, like Laws of Reality, then what those Forms are are Truths - plain and simple. Subjective versus the Objective. And to any world, any fallible observer, objective Truth is the scariest thing there is out there."

    She paused for a moment, took a sip of her coffee... and frowned again.

    "--- To be honest, I can't even begin to guess how it all fits together. Theosophy has always felt crass to me, which I realize is rather ironic coming from me. And the less I say about Blavatsky the better - you never know who is listening. But as for Crowley..." Ramia's eyes narrowed. "... I only met him once, albeit very, very briefly. In one of my previous incarnations. Let's just say that this guy... Something so convoluted sounds right up his alley. Reaching out in all the different ways - or to put in terms already used, use all possible equations available to prove that the answer is three. Make it an undeniable, but completely biased, conclusion. Perhaps the only one he needed to infect with that possibility was himself, and the rest followed naturally..."

    Suddenly, Ramia fell silent, and her eyes widened a bit.

    "In fact... if it's as Red here says, and it shall be in the future as it was in the past, maybe she is some sort of... constant, for a lack of a better word?" The mercenary asked. "By proving her existence, by making her descend into our physical reality, she becomes a truth of some sort and thus, becomes an established rule of her own - essentially retconning herself into having always existed, and always existing going forward. A new rule of being an observer to temporal anomalies..."

    Looking a bit frustrated at how she was going in circles, Ramia groaned and dug into her breakfast, though she did not get far. It looked like all the thoughts running rampant in her head were giving her no reprieve.

    "Well, be that as it may, it makes it feel like destroying her will be difficult. Perhaps not impossible, but definitely hard - and making it stick will probably be even harder. If she's some sort of Truth, we'd need another Truth to oppose her - but those are exceedingly rare in this long lie of a world we live in. Anyways... what you mentioned there, John, was a bit curious. Something she may not have even realized she said," she added, looking at the boy in question. "Hers is a looping corridor, but ours is a straight line with door in the end? So, does that mean that the way she sees it, there is an escape... but only for us, and not for her?"

    Her mouth had become a tight line.

    "... We only need the right key?"

    At that same time, however, the voice of Elaine Winters rang out, gathering attention to a question - or a mystery - of a whole different type. Namely that of their very own Principal, who had apparently disappeared completely off the face of this earth, along with his earthly possessions. While "Stephanie" did not seem to quite understand what Elaine was going on about (and instead simply smiled in a confused way, mouth full of cereal), Hwan raised an eyebrow at what he heard, and another when he heard the conclusion of it all.

    "Faded out of existence... the hell's that?" The white-haired boy asked and snorted. "How's that even possible? Since, judging by how you brought it up, I don't expect he peaced out with a transportation spell or invisibility or anything of the sort - but rather just stopped existing, huh? Hrm, stopped existing... now that's a new one alright..."

    Kean nodded, though for some reason, he was chewing on his lower lip.

    "Hmh. Maybe the probability of his existence dropped below 50%?" The silver-haired boy joked, before shaking his head. "... No, don't take that seriously. The last thing I need is a theory that our faculty is made up out of imaginary numbers or something. I've got enough headaches for one week. Though, that Judas Priest..."

    Kean frowned.

    "... I think he did say something that might have a connection."

    Hwan, upon hearing that, coughed.

    "Oh, actually, before you get started on that - that Hsan Kra guy? I think I recognize the name," the Korean said and nodded. "If I'm not totally mistaken, he's a mercenary of sorts. A Burmese guru of sorts who's all about that left-hand path, yantra and all the stuff that your typical Vedic texts say is bad for you. Also hell of a lot older than he looks. In the Turnside mercenary circles, he's known as 'The Laughing Buddha' behind his back for some reason or another. Though..."

    The boy frowned.

    "Who the hell was he after, and more importantly, who the hell had hired them?"




    Elise Pelltier & Lucille Faraday
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "From what I know about the school, it was surprisingly big from the get go. I think it was expanded into it's current size almost 15 years before we attended there, though - something to do with either the amount of new students back then or how they were or something. I... in all honesty, I'm the wrong person to ask that. All I remember is that we had that huge pool building all to ourselves as long as we helped with maintaining it, and that the dorms were off-limits," Samuel answered. "We all... well, most of us at least... lived in our own homes. I mean, we all were locals. Me, Jake, Tommy, Rachel, Angie, Albert, Max, Remmie, Tris, Devon. The only ones I don't know where they lived where Nevada and Eliya for... well, for obvious reasons."

    A small frown was still constant on the young man's face.

    "As for the possibility of Jake hiding something from you lot, well. He could? Or, at the very least, he would have the possibility for it. The campus is big, as you said, and depending on what keys he has, he could get into a lot of places not available to you," he continued. "I know that the outbuilding was added after by Mr. Oceandrop and his crew. So that's a new one. But I'd imagine he'd have the keys to some older places too, like the second floor of the main building."

    Samuel was right. While it was unsure whether or not Jake was actually hiding something, he definitely had the resources for it. As Lucille had stated, the campus was unusually large, especially for a class of their size - more so for the class of Samuel's times, even without the outbuilding. It was a school clearly meant for a large amount of students, and in a way, it was almost its own separate little world, far away from the rest of the town. So someone with the right keys could definitely take advantage of that, if they had a reason to...

    "As for Devon, well - Rachel. Rachel and Albert. I believe they were closest to him," Samuel suddenly spoke up again. "I think he lived alone. No adoptive parents or anything, so those would be your best bets. Though, approaching Albert may be... unwise at the time. Like you surmised, he was obsessed in awakening me again. That's part of what drove him to the occupation he has now."

    For a moment, Samuel grimaced.

    "... Maybe I should pay a visit to his place later tonight. I'm sure he's besides himself with confusion after my disappearance."

    Having said that, the purple-haired youth leaned back in his chair once more, and his eyes focused on Elise properly, as if one of the questions from before had drawn his attention now that the rest of the immediate problems were answered.

    "And what comes to your inquiry about the gun... I just don't know. I wasn't in a state to answer at that time, but I agree - I don't think it was the revolver. Either there was a person out there who we didn't know about, or..." He paused, his face darkening. "... It was one of us who pulled the trigger. And I'd rather not think about that possibility."




    Vier Wolff & Colt Davin (?)
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Garage
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    The jog back to the garage was not a long one.

    Hurrying across the front lawn of the country club was not a big task, even if Aleen had been initially against splitting up or letting Vier go off on her own. However, the bluehead seemed to have realized she wasn't much use to anyone in the state she was currently in, and thus, she had decided to stay behind at the main building itself. Thus, only Vier - and perhaps Colt Davin, if he decided so - had rushed towards the small building on the eastern side of the area.

    When Vier arrived there, absolutely nothing seemed to have changed.

    The door was still slightly ajar. Inside, the lights were still off. And pushing carefully in while listening to any signs of trouble revealed that there was nobody or anything waiting for her. Indeed, as Vier finally slipped into the garage proper, into the shadows of the two large cars hunkered down there, she saw that the whole room was as empty as it had been when she first arrived there. The only difference was, the door of the safe was still open, and things that had been taken from there were still gone.

    Which mean... that Hawthorn was nowhere to be seen.

    There had been some tracks outside that the girl was pretty sure were leading into the forest, and it could be that they were his, but still... had he just left? Once he had gotten the black folder, had he just skipped town and left without even attempting to return? Or had he somehow known to not take a risk there? And if he had, how? How would he have known that the possibility of his betrayal had come up?

    ... Had he, somehow, anticipated having his memories wiped? Had that acted as some sort of 'sign' to him? In other words, did he know of Vier's ability before-hand? Was that what that smirk had been about?

    Or was he simply extremely cautious, and on the first sign of unknown trouble he had fled?

    The possibilities were many...




    Liana Skye/Sora Hikari & Colt Davin (?)
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    In the end, it had been decided that it was safest for Sierra to stay behind.

    Indeed, things were starting to alarmingly resemble the events of last night once more, and thus, the group had come to a conclusion that most of them would stay behind. Aleen, Cathie, Kajal, Fyrtio and Ferguson would stay and hold the fort at the main building, guarding Sierra. Meanwhile Vier headed out on her own and while Liana had intended to do the same, Jayesh - of all people - had tagged along with her. Perhaps the young man felt need to make up for last night's trouble, or perhaps it was because he was the only one who actually knew where the bunker's entrance was. Nevertheless, he was now walking few steps behind Liana.

    And of course, there was a matter of Colt Davin - but where he went, only he could answer.

    "... There. By the statue. The trapdoor's hidden in the dirt," Jayesh quietly said, breaking the silence. "Just watch out for the roses."

    Ahead of them, the familiar statue of a certain jet-black, sneering figure could be seen. The strange spell it seemed to have felt so distant in the pale light of the morning, but even so, it did have an annoying, dreadful sort of aura in its countenance. One ironic thing that Liana immediately did notice, however, was that the statue... it was still holding onto the spade symbol it had been carrying. In other words, a certain question from last night had been answered once more.

    Not it was just a matter of taking the path through the large, thorny rosebushes and finding the trapdoor, before---

    "--- Where are you guys off to?"

    Suddenly, a familiar voice cut both Jayesh and Liana off, and drew their attention.

    There, standing in the shadows of the rose bushes with his hands in his pockets and with his hood pulled up, was a person everyone had practically forgotten so far. Zane Mitchell, looking as gruff as ever, slowly studied the duo with his inquisitive eyes, as if trying to see what was up by their mere body language. The handyman looked as calm and collected as he usually was, even if this was a bit of an... odd... place for him to be standing about.

    "Oh. Right. The phone-lines are now fixed," Zane grunted. "You should be able to call the cops now."




    Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Science Classroom
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Hmh?"

    Lifting his head up and showing a quiet smirk, Souma peered at Alexstrasza from the other side of the room... and eventually, simply shrugged.

    "........ Heh. Most likely not."

    His answer was succinct and simple enough, though for some reason, the one-eyed youth appeared even more amused than usual - in his own, usual, subtle way. A way that the blonde girl had, more or less, found a way to read to an extent. She did have week's worth of memories of him in the backburner, after all. That being said... why was he being so amused? And why was Potemkin laughing her ass off?

    What was so funny about this anyway?

    "I just did not know your preference. For all I know, it could have been for that," Souma answered. "However, since you poised the question with such a tone and such an expression, I presume I was mistaken."

    So, just a case of confusion then?

    Though what had given him the idea...?

    --- Still, in more important things.

    The door to the back storage room opened, and immediately, Alexstrasza was treated with the smell of chemicals sitting in their bottles, waiting for some unfortunate day the students piling into the classroom would be forced to use them in some experiment or another. In a way, the room was almost like an alchemy lab - with rows upon rows of shelves covering the walls, packed to the brim with things that made no sense to anyone else except for the person who had put them there. There were also boxes that had been stuffed to the uppermost shelves, but trying to get them out without a stepladder was just inviting a disaster. And on the right wall, there was a small desk sitting against the wall with...

    ... Huh.

    With what looked to be a broken telescope sitting on it, as if hastily shoved there. A broken telescope that looked like something sharp had cut through it, bisecting in half.

    "Yes. Judging by your reaction, I was."

    Wait, Souma was still talking?

    "It would seem you prefer the male genitalia."

    What.




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

    "Mad? Why'd I be mad?"

    Ahti's answer was more of a grunt that came amidst his work, swinging the shovel down with rhythmic movement that told this was not his first time using one. And indeed, the boy was making some amazing progress, moving enough earth with each move that they'd be probably done in no time at all. Which was probably a good thing, since the cold and the awkwardness of the situation was slowly growing, permeating into everyone present... or perhaps it was bad, because the faster things went, the closer Prushka was to seeing the thing that awaited them at the bottom of this grave.

    The ice blue eye of the white-maned youth glanced towards the girl, studying her form, her expressions, her emotions for a while...

    ... And then Ahti sighed.

    "... I'll only be mad if you act tough when you don't need to," he continued. "Or act happy when you aren't. I mean, I don't mind if you lie to me or something, but, uh..."

    He searched for the right words for a while.

    "I'll be mad if you lie to yourself."

    What did he mean by that? Ahti had been a bit odd this whole time, and that feeling had just grown once they had gotten here. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of the graveyard that had made him more solemn, more serious or something, but at the same time... that couldn't be all, could it?

    "Besides that, I don't think you've done anything to be mad about, Imp. Or what?" He glanced towards her again. "Do I look like I'm mad or something?"

    Before Prushka could answer, however, there was a loud clank from Ahti's shovel. The tall boy looked down with a momentary confusion, but then a grim understanding spread to his face.

    He started scooping out the dirt away from where he had hit. And there, before Prushka's eyes, it started to appear.

    The thing that was eventually fully uncovered by Ahti.

    An old, simple coffin.




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

    There was a momentary silence at the end of the mental connection. However, soon enough, the familiar mental presence answered Hisa.

    [Mm, you got it. Just let me coax this crazy grandpa outta here,] Pyry answered. [I think we all might need some sandwiches right about now. Might be that people are getting hungry, huh?]

    For some reason, Hisa was rather sure that the boy was smiling when he sent that response. Not in a teasing way or a goofy way, but rather, smiling quietly because of what he had heard - what he had felt - through the message that Hisa had sent. Indeed, it wasn't completely possible to remove all emotions tied to such messages, and with the mental connection between the two having become so strong, some of those emotions naturally leaked out.

    Perhaps that was also why the thoughts Pyry sent always felt so warm when directed solely at her.

    "Hmm... Hisa?"

    To-Totesh's voice suddenly brought the girl back to reality. They had made their way back to the earth mounds near the railroad tracks, and the native girl had sat on top of what looked to be some large, rusted piece of cover from one of the cars. At the same time, she had began to fish out her laptop from her bag, bringing out the heavy-looking piece of machinery out once more.

    "That address... mind if I check it out? I have map of Road's End here, on my computer. It's old, but contains most street names," To-Totesh asked, patting the computer on her lap. "If it's at Road's End, or nearby, I should be able to find it. Either the street or the inn. Other option might be phonebook, but I'd say this is faster, no?"

    She grinned a little bit, looking rather proud of her machine.

    "Still... what will we do about that?" The native girl continued, nodding towards the bones that were now seeing sunlight. "Can you find anything about them through your powers? Or does it not work on human remains? I know that some necromancers might be able to talk with the residual spiritual energies but... that's not really an esper thing, is it? Though it does look like there's something... stuck there, no?"

    Looking down at the bones once more, Hisa saw that To-Totesh might have been right. The skeleton wasn't in as bad shape as some of the other bones, but there were definitely some... splotches that dyed part of the old, bleached bone into a shade much darker than the rest. But what could cause such discoloration of bones? Having as much medical knowledge as she did, the girl could think of few options. Ochronosis, metal deposits, even bone bruising... but there was also the chance of something having seeped into the bone tissue and discolored it that way - liquid most likely.

    A possible chance perhaps...

  10. #4330
    The Time-Governing Twelve Covenants Airen's Avatar
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    Liana Skye/Sora Hikari
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    "... There. By the statue. The trapdoor's hidden in the dirt," Jayesh quietly said, breaking the silence. "Just watch out for the roses."
    "...I see."

    ---Finally, the dark-haired girl speaks to the young man that had chosen to follow her.

    Her march towards the statue had been one done with hands in pockets, with an expression set in quiet thought and ever-long hair swinging in the breeze of a morning that is quickly falling apart. There are lots of things to think about, memories to go over again and again and again, and yet that brief moment of frailty that had appeared but a moment ago...

    Looks like it's been banished outright, at least from her face.

    Neither pain nor joy, no frown and no smile, just...



    "..."

    Quiet contemplation.

    An expression that hadn't changed even when regarding the statue and it's spade; spade different from the one that was sitting on the tables inside even now, a nice confirmation, one that her brain had simply been playing tricks on her to a degree the following evening, and yet...

    After gazing at it for a moment, she had simply shrugged her shoulders and turned her eyes ahead, unable to manifest the same righteous fury that always took hold when observing Dot and her forms, it was just...

    Pointless.

    She wasn't even worth the emotional surge, or perhaps...

    She's simply feeling too drained for it?

    Tired.

    Just like last night, because last night never really ended, did it?

    "..."

    In either case...

    "Sorry about your ribs, by the way."

    She finally does talk to Jayesh, albeit, still in a tone of voice that's far from her normal energetic cheer, one that's tired and somewhat resigned instead, although...

    "Your stunning head-kick was cool though, had to take things a bit more seriously after it."

    ...This line is said with a bit more life, a small chuckle instead of a laugh, and a sincere one as that, as if the praise was actually legitimate.

    "Should show it to me again sometime, maybe we can swap some notes on the subject."

    The remnants of positivity.

    Whatever fragments inside of herself she could manifest under these circumstances, with her heart caught in a vice grip from all the pains that come with that sense of being betrayed by a friend, a bizarrely persistent pain that almost makes it hard to breathe, that has her mind spinning even though she refuses to show it on her face, her sense of hope fighting with a newfound sense of confusion and doubt, a surge of conflicting feelings that have been kept at bay simply by bottling them up as she always has...

    Yes.

    Bottling it all up inside, focusing on other things, understanding that the situation would become painfully awkward if she just continued to say nothing at all, Liana does her best to at least give the young man something to work with here for his sake if not her own, but-

    Quote Originally Posted by Zane
    "--- Where are you guys off to?"
    "Grabbing Jack from the bunker. Probably a werewolf. I'm sure it'll be interesting."

    ...When Zane appears, the slight shift in the woman's overall demeanor becomes apparent, namely...

    She's being a lot more straightforward...

    "And it turns out Thorne might have been in on some of the stuff that happened last night, so everyone's going back into lock-down mode for awhile." She turns slightly to face the red haired youth, brushing the air from her eyes unconsciously, "Not sure if calling the cops is our best move anymore, but you should probably come along with us for now, should be safer then heading back to the club on your own. Don't want anyone else getting hurt."

    ...Yep.

    A lot more straightforward.

    Should probably call Dorothy though...

    "How about you? Why are you just hanging out over here? This isn't where the phone lines were," she raises an eyebrow, hands leaving her pockets as she moves forward to search for the trapdoor hidden in the dirt, "Surveying the damage to the garden?"

    Would make a bit of sense.

    Of course people were making a habit of being suspicious, but considering all the nonsense going on...

    No time to just stop and chat either, chat while still moving forward, get Jack out of the panic bunker, press him for information, then go chase down Thorne before more bad things happen...

    ---Couldn't trust the others not to take things too far.
    Last edited by Airen; December 20th, 2021 at 03:19 PM.
    Exodus (Complete)

    Even if the author is silenced, the performance is stilled and the actors leave the stage, the story will never truly end.

    Regardless of the form it takes, as long as there are memories of it's existence, the story will continue on.

    In a small ward in the heart of a once devastated town, life carries on as it always has...

    Because of you.

    Please, remember it warmly.

    We'll continue to walk down this path for eternity.




    Mugen No Sekai

    "The Illusion Incomplete Memories Produce Are,

    Fleeting, Disappearing into the Future,

    Until the Ruins of Yesterday Overflow,

    For That Which Falls Only to Rise is Simply a--"

  11. #4331
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahti
    "Mad? Why'd I be mad?"
    "W-well, 'cus I've been dragging you around town all week..." Shovels scrape against dirt. For every one portion I shift, Ahti moves ten. "Grabbed your ears twice. Then asked for a piggy back ride. And, um, I've been acting all weird. Especially today."

    We make good progress. Or rather, he makes good progress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahti
    "... I'll only be mad if you act tough when you don't need to. Or act happy when you aren't. I mean, I don't mind if you lie to me or something, but, uh..."

    "I'll be mad if you lie to yourself."
    "Haha..."

    It's strange, hearing that from him. Or rather, being on the receiving end of those words. Isn't it usually the other way around? Aren't I the one who drags out people's true feelings? So why's Ahti... oh. Maybe he's just worried. Darn. And here I was hoping to spare him from that.

    "I used to think... that even if you can't say what's on your mind, or if there's some sort of awful secret you're forced to bear, you can always be honest about how you feel. 'Humans shouldn't lie to themselves!' - it was that sort of thought. But y'know... it turns out being too honest might actually be awful. For example, if you're feeling angry about something and just can't calm down on your own, then letting everyone know about it might seem like the best thing to do, the most honest way. But sometimes it just makes them angry too. Or if you're sad, telling others will make them sad as well. Then instead of one person feeling bad, everyone feels bad. So maybe sometimes it's best to keep quiet."

    Scratch, scratch. Dig, dig.

    "I'm not that good an actor, Scrooge. When I see my friends, I'm happy. When I think about all the awful stuff going on around town, I'm worried. When you're teasing me, I'm angry and glad at the same time."

    With a thud, the latest shovelful of soil lands outside. My hands are already aching, but Ahti is like a machine, not slowing down at all.

    I poke my head out of the deepening hole and give Alpa in her costume a thumbs-up, before ducking back in.

    "And right now..."

    With a clank, the shovel strikes wood. We went pretty deep, huh. Then this must be, before us... Nevada's coffin.

    Staring at it reveals nothing. It's just a box made out of wood. On the other side of the lid of which might be the knot in which all my feelings about Snow are tied up. With one pull, just by opening it, everything might start to unravel. How do I feel? About what could be there? A corpse, or an empty box? Until we look, he is neither living nor dead.

    "...I'm not sure how I feel right now. A bit numb, maybe, from everything that's been going on. Tired. Probably because we didn't get much sleep. Memoire could tell, but... no."

    I close my eyes. Think. Really think.

    Forget about the rest of the week: how do I feel about this moment?

    I ask the girl in the box.

    She replies.

    "...I'm scared. Yeah. I'm scared about a lot of things, but right now I'm scared of knowing what's in there, whether it's really my brother. But it's no big deal. Humans are scared all the time."

    Feelings can be a burden sometimes, no matter who bears them. Ahti, right now you need to save all your strength for this evening. The last thing you should be worrying about is how I'm doing. My sadness would just weigh on you. I could probably throw myself into your arms and beg you sort out everything because I don't feel up to the task and it's too hard to keep going. But that would be awful. Especially when you've already done so much for me and I've barely done anything for you. So I won't burden you with my feelings. It's embarrassing. Relying on others all the time without being able to help them is embarrassing. And it's even more embarrassing when it's you, Ahti.

    "Of course, if you're asking, that means I haven't done a good job of it... but, um, please don't be mad!" I thump my hand against my chest and grin. "If there's any time to be tough, it's now! When things are in a pinch and danger's all around! Tough and brave like... like Major Dutch! Or Rocky Balboa! Or Scrooge McDuck!"

    Ahti will be facing himself, his past and his future. He has to be stronger than ever. Can't I be at least a tenth as strong as him?

    "So, um... don't pile your plate too high, okay, Ahti?"

    I reach down. Run my fingers across the wood. Then drift to the sides of the box.

    The edge of the lid.

    The place where Nevada rests.

    I wrap my fingers around it and pull.
    Last edited by Bloble; December 7th, 2021 at 06:37 PM.

  12. #4332
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Go ahead," I said as I handed the photo over to To-Totesh, "But I'd reckon it's not a place here, and if it was, then it's certainly not here anymore. A certain shoe salesman once told me that the hotel was the only place to stay at in the town, so..."

    I'd imagine he wasn't lying, nor was it just something that he wasn't aware of. After all, an inn that people don't know about is hardly good for business...

    "As for these..."

    Crouching down next to the mound once more, I gave the bones we dug up a closer, more scrutinizing look. However, the more I looked, the less certain I became about what exactly I was supposed to do about them. Not that I really had any clue in the first place...That is, when it came to something that I shouldn't have been able to do before now.

    "You know, I'm really not sure."

    At the very least, there seemed to be more that stood out regarding these than in the case of the animal bones. Or rather, it differed from normal in another sense, but just like with the other bones, I couldn't quite tell the exact cause. There were some possible explanations, simple and quite ordinary ones...However, with the supernatural coming into play, and especially in this place, it was impossible to tell when an answer would be simpler than one would assume or so convoluted that one could never figure until all the pieces come together.

    "I can try one thing at least, but in this case that's a rather hit-or-miss option."

    Holding the bone in my other hand, I turned it around so that the discoloured patch on it would be facing upwards, only to then approach it with the artificial fingers I slowly focused my power into...

  13. #4333
    Elise Pelltier
    Location: Avery's Diner
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    Quote Originally Posted by Lucille Faraday
    “I’m curious about this too. Isn’t the campus too large for a small town like this? How much was added by Mr. Oceandrop’s investments and how much of it was left alone? Likewise, if Jake works there as the janitor, has he been using his position to hide certain things from us?”
    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel Lowgate
    "From what I know about the school, it was surprisingly big from the get go. I think it was expanded into it's current size almost 15 years before we attended there, though - something to do with either the amount of new students back then or how they were or something. I... in all honesty, I'm the wrong person to ask that. All I remember is that we had that huge pool building all to ourselves as long as we helped with maintaining it, and that the dorms were off-limits. We all... well, most of us at least... lived in our own homes. I mean, we all were locals. Me, Jake, Tommy, Rachel, Angie, Albert, Max, Remmie, Tris, Devon. The only ones I don't know where they lived where Nevada and Eliya for... well, for obvious reasons."
    The mention of Pinefall's seemingly oversized facilities reminded her of a conversation she had with John many days ago, during a trip to and from the End's Store and Post and she'd raised similar such concerns. It felt like so long ago now, practically a lifetime ago.

    In some ways, it was literally a lifetime ago.

    "I've wondered about the size of our school too. Given its size, facilities, and location, it almost feels like it was purpose built for the Oceandrop Program before the Oceandrop Program existed. Either way though, that pool is amazing. I don't know what circumstances allowed for its construction, but I'm glad they did. I'm also glad your class got the opportunity to enjoy it too, so far the only time I've had a chance to go in was when I retrieved your wallet from its depths."

    I was really looking forward to enjoying the pool over the winter months too...

    Elise counted the years in her head, placing the earlier school expansion in the timeline she was building in her mind.

    "Fifteen years ago from seven years ago... Twenty-two years ago... so the school was expanded almost a year before the massacre happened? That's... that's too close for it to be a coincidence, and this town is too small for them anyway."

    A sudden influx of new students, and a host of new renovations… Was the massacre planned all along, or was it a consequence of that?

    She looked up and over at Samuel. He knew some odd scraps and assorted bits and pieces of Pinefall High School's strange history, just enough to hint at the larger image. He hardly knew what the big picture was, however.

    "Any idea who would be the person to ask about Pinefall's history?" asked Elise, "Although… Uh, just out of curiosity, beyond being a fictional river in a horror setting, have you heard the name Miskatonic before? I heard it was used as a name for a precursor to the Oceandrop Program."

    Elise glanced around for writing material. She spotted her notepad lying nearby. Its pages filled with images of soda logos and smiley faces left hardly any more room for more writing. Instead she fished a marker out of her backpack, grabbed a napkin and slid them over to Samuel.

    "Also, uh, do you mind jotting down the addresses of your friends?" asked Elise, "It might be helpful later if we need to look them up."

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel Lowgate
    "As for the possibility of Jake hiding something from you lot, well. He could? Or, at the very least, he would have the possibility for it. The campus is big, as you said, and depending on what keys he has, he could get into a lot of places not available to you. I know that the outbuilding was added after by Mr. Oceandrop and his crew. So that's a new one. But I'd imagine he'd have the keys to some older places too, like the second floor of the main building."
    "It's kind of a relief to hear that they built the outbuilding. It's nice knowing that Pinefall wasn't entirely a perfect fit for their needs, although..." Elise frowned for a moment as she considered something, "If the outbuilding was built by the Oceandrop Program more recently, then I wonder how so much of Remmie's stuff ended up there."

    She glanced at Lucille and asked, "You found her old yearbook, her collection of miniatures there and some other stuff there, right?"

    Elise took a moment to consider the matter of Jake, and the possibility- no, the probability, that he was hiding things from them.

    "As for Jake, yeah, I wouldn't be surprised if he was hiding stuff from us, well, I guess I already know he's hiding things from us. On our first day here, I asked him about the old boarded up section of the Dormitory, and he told me that he didn't even have the keys for it, that they didn't give him keys for that part of the school, but given that he opened up the old dormitories for the Test of Courage, almost the very next day, he most certainly does," grumbled Elise morosely.

    Couldn't help satisfy the curiosity of one nosey student, but perfectly fine with the idea of letting a bunch of us traipse about in there in the dark and try and scare each other.

    "That said, I'm sure that whatever he's keeping from us, he's doing so with good intentions."

    She paused as she considered the story Samuel had told them, about the events of that one rainy day seven years ago. About what had happened to Jake and his friends that day, and about what happened to Jake and his friends after that day. Elise sighed sadly.

    "Can't say I blame him, considering what he's been through. Such a course of action is entirely unhelpful given our strange circumstances though, but it'd probably actually be a good strategy if we weren't all neck deep in the Turnside to begin with and seemingly trapped in a time loop."

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel Lowgate
    "... Maybe I should pay a visit to his place later tonight. I'm sure he's besides himself with confusion after my disappearance."
    Elise frowned to herself. Letting Samuel stay at the Dormitories last night seemed like a good idea at the time, but maybe if they'd snuck him back into the hospital they might have avoided a lot of potential trouble?

    Something to keep in mind for later, I suppose.

    "In retrospect, maybe we should have tried to sneak you back into the hospital last night and not worried Dr. Roslin. Although I'm sure if we would've had the time last night, and I'm sure Dr. Roslin would want to run you through a barrage of tests to figure out why you suddenly woke up, and I doubt he'd have let you leave today if that was the case."

    Miraculously waking up suddenly from a coma that defied medical explanation was just as mysterious as the coma itself. Elise had no doubt that Dr. Roslin would be just as obsessed with the cure as he was with the curse. It would almost certainly be some time before he'd let Samuel out of the hospital, and unfortunately they didn't have time to wait for that.

    Something to keep in mind if we have to do this again, and we can get Samuel back on his feet earlier in the week.

    "You really should visit your friends while you have the chance. Time's short enough as is. There's going to be a big storm tonight, and then tomorrow… well, it's not likely to be a very nice day," warned Elise, "Also… uh, I don't know what will happen, but last week Elaine went to the hospital on Saturday night and found it closed, and seemingly abandoned. Having broken in there at night, and seen their security force, I'm more than a little worried about what might have happened. It might be good to advise Dr. Roslin not to go into work tonight."

    Elise considered Devon Rustfield's seemingly lonely home life. She couldn't help but feel sad for the man.

    At least he had friends. At least, until he didn't anymore, thought Elise, I wonder what brought him to Road's End alone then?

    "I'll have to see if I can look up Rachel or Dr. Roslin when I can then, and maybe I'll get a chance to corner Devon himself sometime."

    The thought of friends and family, and their absence, reminded Elise of another question she had for Samuel, regarding the broken shard of a sword his brother had wielded as a spear against them the previous night.

    "Oh, and, uh, one more thing? Your brother, that sword fragment he had, that shard of Gram. The way he described it, it sounded like he was able to track it down by some old town legend after your inherited Ascalon. Any idea where he might have found that thing? Or where he might have hidden it?" asked Elise, "The way he said it made it sound like you'd catch the reference anyway."

    She shot a nervous glance at Lucille as she thought an unkind thought about her former comrade in arms, Of course, Michael could have just been ranting and crazy at the time.

    "I've been meaning to ask Kean if he remembers anything while he was possessed and where Michael might have hidden that thing, although I feel bad asking him to dredge up memories of his experience. Still, if we have to go through all of this again, I wouldn't mind stealing that thing out from under Michael before he has a chance to use it again."

  14. #4334
    Time to burn some dread Daneel Rush's Avatar
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    Location: Pinefall High Main Building – Cafeteria
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast



    “By this point, we might as well stop thinking. Deduction only makes sense when working within a constrained set of rules. If anything is possible when it comes to that being, then it is pointless to try to figure anything out. Furthermore, if she is a living eidos, how do we create another one ‘solid’ enough to match her? I mean, even I can conceive of, let’s say, a perfect vision of a dog, of which Tonkori here is but a mere shadow. That does not make it ‘real’, or at least something with which we can interact.”

    John also has something to say regarding Ramalsaqr’s thoughts on their time prison.

    “I assume the key is connected to the ‘crime’ we are supposed to recollect, or perhaps the identity of the one acting as ‘The Disembodied Man’.”

    After that, a tangent that might not be entirely unrelated comes from the other table, as Elaine Winters brings up Mister Oceandrop’s unnatural disappearance.

    “Ceased to exist…should we get into discussing the nature of existence now? Perhaps he never existed in the first place…or perhaps he went back to the place where he truly exists. Again, trying to deduce anything from what we have will lead us nowhere.”

    Then there is the matter of this person called ‘Hsan Kra’.

    “…Prushka. She told me a man of the Left Hand is after her. That is everything I know, however. Why, or under whose command, she did not say. Now, with that said, it is clear to me by now that you all had eventful nights. Elaine has…curtly made her points already; uncomfortable as it is, does anybody have anything else to add to her narration of the events?”

  15. #4335
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    ...

    ......

    .........

    ............

    ...............

    ..................

    .....................

    ........................

    Wind.

    It howled.

    The earth.

    It waited.

    As the girl pulled aside the creaky lid of the coffing, revealing the contents within, it seemed that all of the world held its breath for just a moment. Like her friend in an owl costume, unable to move a muscle as she peered further in. Like her friend with a single eye, standing besides her. Like the ■■■■■■■■ that had been with them the whole time. It was all... frozen. Just for a moment. Just for one singular moment as they all took in the sight of what lay in the grave, what awaited them after all that digging and cold ground.

    What lay within the wooden box that should have, perhaps, been left unopened.

    The silence stretched.

    Longer.

    And longer.

    And longer.

    Until eventually...

    "------------------ Yeah. I figured as much."

    Ahti's grunt broke it, shattering the spell that had overcome them all for a moment.

    The reason for those words?

    It was simple.

    So very simple.

    The coffin...

    ... Was empty.

    Not just empty. Clearly, it had never held anything within it. It was too immaculate, too clean, too untouched. Nothing had ever burdened the interior of this wooden box, and nothing dead had ever laid within it. The only thing there had been dust and time, and now even that was gone as the wind picked up, making dirt and gravel trickle down onto the soft velvet lining on of the box.

    But while it was empty of corpses...

    ... There was still something within that coffin.

    -------------- A single bullet. A rifle bullet. A hunting rifle bullet.

    As if a message, as if a warning, meant to say:

    "I know what you did."





    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - ???
    Phase:
    Unknown
    Date: Unknown
    Weather:
    Clear

    For a moment, the world had become dark.

    Then, a singularity of light had shone within that darkness.

    Like a blade, cutting through the inky black.

    And then...

    ----------------- Her world was swallowed up by a fire.

    As Hisa's eyes blinked, as she tried to make sense of what she had just seen during the activation of her powers, a sudden heat struck her face and she recoiled instinctively, taking steps back from what felt like a blazing inferno. In her ears, she heard the crackling of fire and wood, the burning of forest, and in her nose, she smelled the stench of smoking wood and nature in flames. Great plumes of black smoke drifted towards a starry night sky above, and though the orange blazes of the wildfire might have created a beautiful contrast to the midnight blues of the dark world, this was no time to appreciate such things. She had no idea how, she had no idea why, but as soon as her powers had activated and she had tried to form a link to the bones and the discoloring she saw... Hisa had been whisked away into some other time, some other place.

    What was around her was not the abandoned train yard.

    What was around her was not her friends.

    What was around her was not the same day.

    --- This was a different time, a different place, a different moment.

    Almost like she had hopped through time and space itself...!

    However.

    Just before a momentary, instinctive panic had managed to set in...!

    ------- A familiar, yet strange, presence calmed down her heartbeat, calmed down her nerves, calmed down her raging mind.

    Even her natural fear of the flames felt now oddly... dulled. As if it had dissipated to manageable levels. And the reason?

    ... If she had to describe it, it was almost as if there was a certain woman, clad in black veils, standing behind her, with her hand on Hisa's shoulders. Like a guardian. Like a guide. Like a mentor.

    Ah------

    So that was it.

    That presence, it had to be The Lady of the Shadows, and then this... this was what she must have meant. What Dorothy Canseliet must have meant.

    --- The Blessing of Dún Scáith.

    Now that she walked in the shadow of the Lady of the Veils, who stood between this life and next, the ability which had given momentary flashes of vision, brief glimpses into moments that had been lost to the past... it had become something else. Something greater. Perhaps it was because she had used in a place where death had seeped into the ground, or perhaps the reason was some other, but now - instead of brief vision - what spread out before Hisa Momoi seemed to be a reconstruction of some sort. A living memory. A travel back to the moment when those bones had been alive - their final moment. That moment between this world and the next. Instead of just peeking into it, she was able to thrust herself into it completely, turning a spying eye into a proper investigation.

    Then... what was this moment that she had dove back into?

    Looking around, Hisa saw that she was not, indeed, at the train station anymore. No, this was some nondescript place in the Ghostwoods, a patch of forest that looked just like any other. The only real difference between it and the rest of the Ghostwood was that this place... it was on fire. Deep crimson flames had swallowed up the trees in a form of a line, like a blazing inferno had shot through the undergrowth akin to a bloodhound making a beeline for their prey. It was not an uncontrollable flame, but rather, a deliberate one - perhaps signs of a battle or something.

    However, one thing Hisa immediately understood. These flames, as accursed as they were... elicited no annoying feeling from her memories. They were not her flames. The culprit was someone else.

    And looking to the roof of the fire, there... yes, there was a group of people there - not far away from where she was.

    Two of them were laying on the ground, looking like they were wounded. One of these two was wearing what looked to be a hospital gown... same sort of tatters that the skeleton she had touched was wearing. The other one's clothes were slightly strange, but since they were still in the shadows, it was hard to make him out. Still, these two looked almost like a pair of rabbits that had been driven into a corner, bleeding heavily and shivering from exhaustion.

    ... So, a chase then? The fire was something that had cut off their escape. Crude but effective.

    But if these two were the prey, then the people gathered around them...

    --- Had to be the predators.




    They... along with that fifth, larger shadow that stood behind them, like some sort of gangly monster out of a urban legend.

    But... what was going on here?

    What were they discussing about, their words nearly swallowed up by the flames?

    And who were the two people they had cornered?

    Well... considering nobody was paying any attention to Hisa, it was quite unlikely this was an interactive vision.

    So perhaps it was best to get closer and see just what secrets the last moments of this skeleton hid...

  16. #4336
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "..."

    "..."

    "..."

    The empty coffin stares at me. Insides untouched, unmarred, uninhabited. Save for a single rifle bullet that could only have been left there as a message.

    "..."

    The bullet, when I reach in and scoop it up, is light in my palm. The metal is cold to the touch. And its scent is...

    "...hah."

    I have it. The scent of the one who left this here.

    "Haha..."

    Because they're the only one who was here. No one else. Not Nevada. Not Snow. Not my brother.

    "Hahaha....!"

    He's out there. He's not dead, not buried, at least not here, not now.

    "Hahahahaha-!"

    I climb up the pile of dirt. Standing atop it, laughing like a maniac. My hand pierces the skies as I thrust it into the air, proudly holding aloft the bullet.

    "He's not here-!"

    He's not here!

    "So he's definitely out there-!"

    Definitely!

    "His scent wasn't here either!"

    Not at all!

    "He's... he's...!"

    He's...

    ...

    ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahti
    "------------------ Yeah. I figured as much."
    "W-wait a sec. Scrooge. Just now, you said-."

    Snow's scent wasn't here. But not his scent. His scent scent. Which means, of course, that there wouldn't be the smell of a corpse either. It would smell just like an empty coffin.

    "Scrooooooooge."

    And of course, someone with a sharp nose, or who wasn't wrapped up in her own feelings, would have noticed that even before the coffin was opened. If we'd really dug up a body, it would've stank like hell the second we reached wood-!

    "You knew already!"

    What the heck! This guy is the worst! A villain to the core!



    "You were just messing with me, Ahtiiiiiii-!"

  17. #4337
    Konkon Kitsune~ Kuroyuki's Avatar
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    “Vier”
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Garage
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    By the time, I got back to the country club owner’s garage. Hawthorn was already gone as expected. If I didn’t see him here a few minutes ago, I would’ve thought that someone broke into the safe and ran off into the forest due to the tracks that he left behind. I nearly left the garage immediately to immediately make pursuit again. But…

    I remembered his smug, assured smile as I left him here. Something about it rang the wrong kind of mental alarms in the first place. Now I was seeing his smile as if he was quietly saying everything was going according to his plan. He knew his cover here was going to end this morning, he knew that I would go snooping around the area to open this safe, and then he probably said just the right kind of words to trigger my worst doubts. My only question was how did he know. Up until this moment, I haven’t used my primary ESP and the only usage of my ESP that I have used in front of him was the unimpressive mindreading of Colt Davin.

    Those thoughts lurked at the back of my head as I ultimately decided that haste makes waste. With a stealthy individual such as him, I needed to be sure of his tracks. Not going off of sloppy guesswork. He could have always gone and double backed on his own footsteps. Even taking advantage of his familiarity with the country club’s residents to choose a common walking path. I carefully started studying the garage and the footsteps leading from it to ensure that he didn’t get away. As well as deciding to ultimately grab one more item that I didn't grab earlier. The satellite phone.
    Last edited by Kuroyuki; December 9th, 2021 at 10:29 PM.

  18. #4338
    Glorious Grammar Master Race Frantic Author's Avatar
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    Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Science Classroom
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    A telescope lay before my eyes, cut in half. I reached out a finger, brushing it across the metal, to see if it was a smooth or jagged cut.

    I nearly stabbed myself on the stupid thing after hearing Souma's ridiculous nonsense. Picking up the telescope, I walked outside with a withering glare, peering through the metal to express my annoyance at Souma.

    "It is not a matter of 'prefer' or 'do not prefer'. I simply think any who are harboring some absurd delusion about romantic intents towards my person simply do not understand that I, personally want no part of it. There are more important things, yes? Such as... evidence."

    I placed the remnants of the telescope on the table, examining where it was cut.

    "Now, this is most certainly a telescope, and most certainly destroyed! Is that not more interesting, Souma, then your incessant prodding into my non-existence romantic entanglements?"
    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.


  19. #4339
    死徒(上級)Greater Dead Apostle Cheetose's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - ???
    Phase:
    Unknown
    Date: Unknown
    Weather:
    Clear

    It took a few moments to calm my mind. The vision...or whatever it was that I found myself in was quite different from usual, and what I could possibly expect from my ability. It was much more than that, which also meant that it was likely her doing...however it even worked.

    But where was I then, anyways?

    Focusing my vision, I turned my head around slowly, taking in the sights one by one as my mind was still a bit sluggish at processing.

    It seemed that I was in a forest - a part of it without any recognizeable features. Maybe somewhere in the Ghostwood. Most certainly, considering that it's unlikely they carried the remains of someone from elsewhere all the way here. There was also a fire...one that felt similar, yet was obviously different from that particular one. Likely a magical fire...after all, no one in their right mind would set a forest as huge as this one on fire, whatever their goal is. Or...at least it would certainly not look the way it did now if that was the case.

    However...who exactly were they then? The way things looked it was obvious that there were two parties involved - one being the hunters and the other the ones who were being hunted.

    Not that it really gave me an idea about their identity, nor did I really have any guesses.

    I guess I had to go closer to find out.

    I took a step forward, only to be more hesitant about the next.

    Was it all just in my head? Was it like the time in the hospital? Or was I moving in the physical world as well? It was slightly worrying that I didn't know what was going on out there, but then...There were enough people to ensure that nothing would happen.

  20. #4340
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Alexstrasza Lockhart
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Science Classroom
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Interesting...?"

    Souma pondered the word for a moment.

    ".......... Heh. Can't say that it is. If I'm honest, both are equally meaningless to me. Unlike John Dove, you seem to still have some misconceptions about me. Any 'interest' I have in this case is mere fakery on my part - I feign interest, in other words," he explained, that quietly smug smirk clear on his face. "It's just a way for me to kill time. Both finding the culprit, and your forlorn love life. But, you seem to get much more flustered about the latter, and emotional responses are always more interesting, so..."

    He ended his little deep dive into his motivations with a shrug, as if to say that whatever Alexstrasza would respond, he would most likely not change his attitude - nor his tune. Whether it was about uncovering the truth about Gabi Bahkauv's death or bringing up stufff that made Potemkin roar with laughter (at Alexstrasza's expense, of course), to him it was all the same. The only difference was in the girl herself and how she took it all.

    In other words, it was Alexstrasza herself who was feeding into this whole thing, wasn't she?

    "...... Still, I do remember reading that love does not ask for permission. You're familiar with yearning, or obsession, no? Even if you tell them you have no interest, do you honestly believe that would snuff out the feeling's of someone, if they were true?" Souma continued, before casting his eye at the broken telescope on the table. "... And more than that, what do you believe happened to this thing? This cut here..."

    He ran his finger across the point where the telescope had been split in half.

    "... Definitely a blade of some sort. But I don't want to even think of a knife or a sword that would cut this cleanly through such a bulky object," he commented, frowning a little bit. "Technique or sheer power... it would take either, and an armanent that's not quite normal."

    He lifted his head up and looked at the vampire.

    "Does anyone who possesses things such as that come to mind?"




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

    Ahti snorted quietly, looking both amused by Prushka's earlier elation, and now the massive pout that dominated her face. He scratched his cheek and shrugged his shoulders, both signs that he wasn't going to even act like he hadn't done that on purpose.

    "... What? You're the one who wanted to dig down all the way," Ahti commented, frowning slightly and waving his hand dismissively. "Besides, Imp, even if I had said something, would you really had believed me? I mean, really? You were so focused on this that I doubt you'd have even heard me, much less believed me. Not to mention you wouldn't have made such ridiculous jumps of joy if I had just spoiled it."

    He paused for a moment, folding his arms across his chest... but then he continued, with a voice that was just a little bit gentler than before.

    "I mean, you had to see it with your own eyes anyways. Otherwise, what would've been the point?"

    That seemed to be his justification. He wasn't actually messing with the girl - rather, he was being considerate, in his own weird way...

    "...... Heh."

    Wait, why did he just turn around, as if to hide that smirk that appeared on his face, as if he couldn't hold it in anymore!?

    "S-still, isn't that a good thing? That he... whoever it is... isn't there?" Alpa's voice suddenly cut into the conversation as the owl-costumed girl wobbled closer. "Unless, of course, you wanted to d-do something with their bones, though... why would you be celebrating in that case...?"

    The owl-headed flopped to the side quizzically.

    "... W-wait. You don't suppose the vultures and other birds got to him, even underground...?"

    A mildly terrifying thought to be sure.




    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard - ???
    Phase:
    Unknown
    Date: Unknown
    Weather:
    Clear

    Seeing no other option, Hisa braved forward - further - towards the roaring flames that were illuminating the dark blue skies.

    As she got closer, the words of the four hunters she could see finally became clear in her ears, though, as it turned out, they were simply arguing. Or rather, the redhead was arguing with the three others, but none of them seemed to pay too much attention to him. Instead, their eyes were focused on the two downed figures. Now that she was closer, the girl could see that they were a rather unlikely pair. The one in hospital gown, who was gasping for breath and looking like she was just about to step over death's doorstep, was an old woman... old, fragile-looking woman half-wrapped in what looked to be a bloodied jacket of some sort. The jacket, on the other hand, must have belonged to the wounded man. A tall, muscular figure with fresh blood over his face - most from the wounds he had all over his body. Yet, even so, he glared daggers at the four who were towering over them.

    --- However, none of them were keeping an eye on Hisa. Indeed, it looked like this was just a recollection.

    "... So?"

    The blue-haired young hunter asked.

    "How's her condition?" He continued. "Did we make it in time?"

    Spitting to the ground, the redhead marched forward and - despite the downed man's protest - kicked the old woman so that she rolled around, revealing her face.

    ".... Tch!" The red-haired hunter clicked his tongue. "Too late. What a bore..."

    Just one glance at the woman's face made Hisa's stomach instinctively lurch. There was something definitely wrong with her. The pigmentation of her skin was all over the place, like big blotches of something sickly had been growing on her skin. No, not growing... no, this was something else. It was almost as if her whole body was suffering from aging so rapid that she could practically see her growing more and more feeble before her very eyes. The discoloration of her skin was merely because it was becoming dead and flaking off.

    "--- The deterioration has advanced too far," the blonde, masked man informed. "Just like all the rest. There's no saving her now - and even if we could, it would be a waste of resources. Better to give her mercy."

    The blue-haired young man averted his gaze, looking like those words had been a tough pill to swallow. The green-haired girl, on the other hand, quietly, almost sadly, shook her head.

    "What sort of mercy is this supposed to be...?" She murmured quietly, before looking at the others. "Why is this happening in the first place? No matter how you look at it, this isn't normal."

    Wait.

    This girl... Hisa had seen her before. Somewhere, only a few days ago. Somewhere at the campus...?

    "Hah!"

    The redheaded young man let out a bark of a laugh, sadistic glee shining from his eyes as he glared back at the woman.

    "How sappy! You really think we need to know - or care - what's up wth these defects!? The only thing we gotta do is to hunt, hunt, hunt them down! Sweep them under the rug before anyone notices! Might as well have some fun while we're at it, hah!" He cackled, licking his lips. "Unless of course... you're saying that you're not up for the task? Not up to being an Einherjar Captain...?"

    Some sort of dangerous current ran in the air, a tension that was as palpable as the roaring flames. For a moment, it looked as if the girl was about launch back verbally at him, or that the two of them were about to come to blows, but then... he simply closed her eyes, exhaled, and adopted an iron mask that betrayed no feelings. It was like she locked them all in a vault, refusing to let any of her true emotions shine through.

    "--- No. I'm the one who said I could do this. There's no going back now," the girl replied, coldly. "I'll do what I must."

    However, Hisa could see that her right hand was clenched into a fist so tight her knuckles were turning white. She had been just about to attack the gleeful sadist of a man.

    "... What about him?"

    The blue-haired hunter's voice cut into the confrontation as he turned back around.

    "What do we do with the intruder?" He asked, his eyes looking somewhere beyond the group. "Eliminate him too?"

    Who was he asking that from?

    No, wait... of course.

    There had been that fifth figure. That lanky, almost hulking black shape against the light of the flames.

    And, as if answering Hisa's thoughts, that very thing suddenly moved again. The girl could hear sound of gears and mechanical parts rumblings, rotating, pistons pumping and hydraulics hissings. She could hear metal groaning and slamming against the soft forest floor as the massive thing advanced, took one lumbering step after another like some sort of steel golem awakening from a slumber. Each step it took brought it closer to the ground, closer to the light - and with each step, it seemed to become more fluid, more agile, more natural in its movements. It really was like a giant awakening from its trance.

    ... But when it appeared within the light of the flames, becoming clear in Hisa's eyes, she could see it was anything but that.


    "Dispose the defective unit. Apprehend the intruder."

    A garbled, modulated, electrical voice rang out.

    "Lock him at the underground holding cells at Warehouse B."

    That seemed to cause quite the stir among the four hunters, each one gazing at the mechanical creature - no, a woman clad in a mechanical armor, almost like an exoskeleton. Only, the thing looked much more like a prison, and the woman much more like a hostage held against her will.

    "What? The warehouse?" The blonde hunter asked, clearly surprised. "We're not bringing him back to WUOTAN? But wouldn't that be much safer?"

    The mechanical armor let out a hiss.

    "No."

    Her answer was cold, like that of a machine.

    "He is an intruder. He came here for a purpose. The only reason he was caught was because he tried to help the defective unit," she announced. "Ergo, he was likely searching for a way into WUOTAN. We shall interrogate him off-site. Prepare the holding cells, and leave him there. Dispose the body of the defective unit at the same time, once you have killed it."

    This made the blue-haired hunter raise an eyebrow.

    "What? Just leave him?" He asked, sounding rather surprised. "We're not going to interrogate him immediately?"

    The robotic creature - woman - let out another cold hiss. It almost sounded like mechanical lungs pumping air into her.

    "No. Lack of food and water shall break his spirits. I will interrogate him personally once his defenses are gone," she replied with machine-like authority. "Is that clear?"

    The four hunters immediately saluted her by placing their left hands, fingers spread, against where their hearts were.

    "Yes! Valkyrie!"

    And the machine-woman simply stared back, quietly, accepting their loyalty. In that sare, Hisa could sense an odd feeling of dread... a cold, computer-esque logic and calculated cruelty that only an inhuman being could achieve. But while, for example, the fae from earlier today had been inhuman in her ways, she had definitely been still alive. However, this Valkyrie...

    ... Hisa couldn't even be sure how much of her was alive in that metal coffin she used as her exoskeleton.

    New Person Met!

    New Being Met!

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