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Thread: Astronomika - Shooting Down Falling Stars (IC)

  1. #4301
    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

    "You know him?"

    Raising an eyebrow, I looked back at Leena with a hint of curiosity in my eye.

    For that to be the case, they either must have met sometime during the night, when she usually sneaks out. In which case, it could be something that happened just recently, but...The longer he has been here, the more interesting this meeting could potentially be.

    Though, judging by the things he has been subtly hinting at, it was likely that he would know an interesting thing or two regardless of that.

    "At any rate, we aren't after your...food," I said as my eyes shifted back onto the man, "Though, I don't exactly know what you mean by trackers in the food or by IRS blokes. Former sounds like a conspiracy theory if something, while latter something that refers to a wholly different thing than tax collectors."

    After all, human eyesight was hardly based on movement only...

    Just like how it was unlikely that simple tax collectors would bother chasing a homeless guy around.

    "We simply heard that this place had some skeletons in the closet, and that the answer to some norse mythological riddle might be found here. Things that the young mind's curiosity would not be able to resist."

    As I explained, I extended my own hand to shake his. Normally, I was very much against such gestures, and disregarding a habit that was there to keep me safe only made a small part of my mind scream interally. Yet, it would have seemed rude if I refused, and there was no way I was going to start explaining my reasons.

    "A little adventurous roadtrip, so to speak. Though, we only took the young McLampet along with us. Not her shadow, I'm afraid."

    Being so close, I took a few moments to have a better look at the man, from his now rather worn out clothes that once could have been considered classy, along with his large, healthy stature that kept up surprisingly well despite his apparent way of life...all the way to the intense feel in his eyes that I could not quite put anywhere yet.

    "My name is Ougi, by the way," I continued after the moment of silence, "I assume you are then...Ashton? Ashley? Latter would certainly be quite the coincidence, considering that I've also heard about a man named Ashley in the context of this town. Perhaps with a fate not even as fortunate as yours."

  2. #4302
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Second Floor
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    "Alright, then move in with me after we get back."

    Alpa's not safe here, so that's that. I wipe my hands of dust and shrug.

    "It's not safe there either, by the way. Far from it; there might be some Left Hand guy after me and you might get dragged into that. But it'll be less unsafe if there's two of us. Plus Hwan's keeping an eye on it too. And really, the school shouldn't be making a girl sleep in a dusty room like this in the first place! If Ms. Leuzinger were here she'd be on a warpath talking about how the air will ruin your lungs! Did they really not assign you anything? Buncha no-good adults..."

    Now now, enough grumbling, Prushka.

    ...

    Wait, no, always time to grumble.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpa
    "Umm... w-what do you mean?"
    "What he means is: 'I think this kid likes being here by herself, why are we dragging her outside'?!"

    I stand behind Ahti and plant my hands on his shoulders, leaning over his head and staring him in the eyes, my frown turned upside down.

    "Well, Scrooge, how people act and how they feel ain't always one to one. We know that well enough, right?" Both he and I have pushed others away despite being lonely. Hypocrisy is part of humans and Turnside creatures both. The only ones who lack it are animals. "You do have a point though..."

    I skip back, and bow my head.

    "Sorry, Alpa. I've imposed a lot! If you want, I'll leave you alone and stop being pushy. Just say the word."
    Last edited by Bloble; November 24th, 2021 at 12:58 PM.

  3. #4303
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    The hand that shook Hisa's was surprisingly warm. Tough, yet gentle in its touch. The hand of a person who had most likely experienced a lot of things, and not all of them good... yet who also greeted even a stranger with no suspicion unless warranted. It was almost like this old man's whole appearance. His outdated, dusty clothes might have made him look soft... but the intense look of those eyes was powerful - but not threatening in the least.

    That, and his hands... they had a faint fragrance of wormwood and tree bark.

    "--- Well. Perhaps it is. Truth to be told, youn'un, I've all but forgotten. Most of 'em townsfolk just call me Ash, anyways," the old man responded as he let go of Hisa's hands. "But if you say he's someone with a lousy fate, that could certainly be me! Fate's a lot stronger here and it is out there, see. Not so many people to look and decide how things should be. It's like pulling your hat over your eyes, mufufu~"

    He chuckled to himself and took a step back, gazing at the group that had gathered at the station. Then, after staring for a bit, he went and got the can of dog food he had left in the storage room, along with his spoon. Leena took this moment to lean a bit closer to Hisa.

    "Mhm, I've met him a few times while I was out at night," the girl explained in whisper. "Gosh, he scared the daylights out of me the first time, but while he's weird, he's mostly harmless! Mo-- J-Josie seems to like him a lot, too."

    Well, that was a bit surprising.

    "Still, an adventure, eh? A nasty place you've come for an adventure. Nothing but them bones and secrets out here, and big loud helicopters swirling about," Ash continued as he stepped back into the room and started making his way to the main portion of the station. "It's them IRS that's sweeping the town, making sure everyone keeps paying taxes! But no, no, ol' Ash is too clever for them! Hid myself here, right under their noses! That's the only place they aren't looking properly, no! See..."

    With a smirk, the old man pointed his finger towards the ceiling, and the sky beyond it.

    "They've got eyes in the skies, see... falling stars that never drop!" He proclaimed. "It's all like a big glass bottle with them IRS blokes peering in, trying to find what's going on, I tell you. But work like that, it drives a man mad. That's why they're mad - everyone here is! You'd have to mad not to be!"

    With a grunt, he sat down on one of the barely-held-together benches of the main area and started shoveling the dog food into his mouth with his spoon.

    "Still, too many riddles isn't good for the mind - rots the brain from all that thinking. See, even you're no longer all skin and bones, you've started to get some meat on them too!" Ash suddenly exclaimed, pointing his spoon first at Hisa, then towards Pyry. "And you, Garfield! Is that any way to treat an elder!? If you've got some of that nicotine-stained goodness, you should share!"

    Pyry's eyes flew open in surprise, and he almost instinctively took out his pack of cigarettes... before he stopped and shot a confused look at Hisa, as if asking the girl what to do here. But Ash had already calmed down, continuing with his "meal" of sorts.

    "... So? What's them riddles that got you bamboozled, young'uns?"

    He just kept hopping from one topic to another...




    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Second Floor
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "I-I..."

    Alpa, hesitant again, looked terribly shocked at Prushka's sudden apology. She waved her hands, looked around the room for some sort of answer - but found none. Even Ahti's face, although slightly annoyed by Prushka getting into his personal space again, remained like a stone mask. Thus, the fluffy girl stared at her feet for a moment, searching for the right words...

    ... And eventually, she found them.

    "... I-I'm fine with it. If I'll dress in the suit. A-and if we take a route with, um, no people around," she said, quietly. "I-I-If you can promise me that, then... I'll go."

    What had changed her mind? Had it been Ahti's questioning of her motives? Had it been the slowly building bond of trust? Had it been her evaluating her own reasons? Did the idea staying here after all become too lonely for her? It was hard to say. Whatever the reason, the girl had finally come to a decision, more or less, and wanted to see it through... even if she was of two minds of it still. Or rather, even if she was still afraid.

    Alpa seemed like a girl who was always afraid, one way or another.

    "Well, that's fine, isn't it?"

    Ahti's words cut the silence.

    "We all pile a bunch of shields around us anyways, so one suit or another isn't gonna be that strange," the boy said with a grunt. "Besides, where we're headed, I doubt there's gonna be anyone around."

    He paused for a moment, and then...

    "... By the way, you made the right call. She says that, but Imp's definitely not gonna stop being pushy," Ahti continued with a smirk. "Once she gets it in her head, she'll keep pestering you until you give it a try. So it's more painless to just go with the flow once the river starts running."

    Having said that, Ahti leaned backwards, letting the back of his head hit Prushka's chest softly.

    "She's a nuisance like that!"

    And to Prushka's suprise, Alpa... giggled slightly at that.

    "I-I see...!"

  4. #4304
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Kitchen
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    The compliment went a long way with Cathie, who readily, happily accepted it. From her confident display it was obvious that she enjoyed showing off what she's good at. Judging by the result of her cooking, without even tasting it her, Colt could tell this was more than just being good at something.

    Not only that, but he'd tasted her baking before already. Not that Cathie would remember. But Colt knew that the food she'd prepared didn't just look good. It was good.

    "Also, in case you're more of a hot chocolate dude than a coffee guy, there's still some left. Help yourself. Marshmallows, too."

    "Ah, y-yeah." Had she seen? The embarrassing sight of Colt yearning for the hot chocolate of a morose little girl? He scratched the back of his head sheepishly, trying to play it off. "I'm not much of a coffee guy…"

    "Yeah." Kajal the stoic tease chimed in, in a voice that was not much like a chime at all. "Marshmallows too. Fits him, right?"

    "Wait, wassat supposed to mean?"

    Colt quickly retorted, but before either girl could answer, Jayesh, who had been silently contemplating something, spoke up. Lifting his head, Kajal's brother spoke directly to Sierra, who gave him her attention and nodded in turn.

    "Um. Young Miss? If I understood, you all were just referring to your father, right? In that case... he's not missing. He's in the panic bunker. We knew that today might be a bit problematic for him as usual, so I took him there after, eh... calming him down."

    Colt saw Jayesh grimace, likely recalling the wounds he'd been brought in with last night.

    "But since it's morning, he should be alright. In other words, we can go get him."

    "Panic bunker?" Stupefied, Colt repeated the words. "The panic bunker? As in, something people who work for the guy should know about? Then…"

    The shock on Colt's face turned into a scowl.

    "Does Hawthorn know about this panic bunker?"


  5. #4305
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Second Floor
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    "Wahaha!" I laugh along with Alpa's giggle. "Then it's a plan! We're headed to the most depressing place in town. Pack up and suit up 'cus it'll get rainy on the way back. And I'll be pushy every step of the way!"

    It might be too self-centered to think this, but maybe a push or twelve is all a person needs sometimes. Like a roller coaster teetering atop a hill, just a nudge can send it down the path before it. I can only hope that wherever Alpa is headed, it'll be nice and not awful. At the very least, if it's dangerous, I'll make sure she doesn't crash.

    Alpa Bagha seems like a person who is always scared. That must mean she's also the bravest person in this room.

    "Now, Scrooge..." My fingers tighten around Ahti's shoulders and I hug his head to my chest. I drop my voice low. Lower than I've gone before. Dripping down from above.

    "Should I... be a nuisance to you again...?"

    ...

    ...

    ...

    "Hehe... just kidding. That'd be mean, right? Your ears probably can't take anymore anyhow anyway!"

    Time to go. For real now. To face the dead.

  6. #4306
    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



    “What kind of being…well, she is a human. Of that there is no uncertainty, but I guess you expect something more out of me.”

    John closes his eyes, filling his mind with the visage of the one Anna and Ramalsaqr regard as Crowley’s Moonchild. When he opens them, he settles them not on Ramalsaqr, the one who asked for the details, but on Miss Iburi and Zhou Coastrise.

    “To clarify, ever since…an event around ten years ago, my vision only shows shades of grey. I remember colors, of course, so most of the time I can infer the colors of things like a person’s hair or their clothes through association with the colors of familiar things.”

    This is probably not the result of damage to his retinal cones, but it remains to see whether this is cortical damage, a psychosomatic effect, or something else.

    “However, to all appearances, she trapped me in an isolated space outside the normal flow of time. A room of ever-moving colors that shone even through my eyelids.”

    Again, he closes his eyes, to let his mind recall as much as possible, for any detail could be of critical importance, even if it does not appear so to him.

    “Apparently, she is wreathed in the Seven Rays, which she wears like a cloak to conceal herself. When she took it off…she was energy rather than matter. Looking at her was how I imagine the birth of a star may look like. In short, she was too radiant, so much I almost broke then and there. But then she diminished herself, revealing herself as a human. I guess I should call it her Sthūla-Śarīra.”

    Opening his eyes again, this time he looks straight at Vandemeel.

    “She did identify herself as ‘Ultravania’. She may have also declared herself to be the Colour Out of Space, if I understood her correctly. She claims that pursuing space-time anomalies is her fundamental nature, and that as a consequence of arriving here, she ended up in a different loop than our own. She actually had a pair of useful metaphors to explain it, describing her situation as ‘a looping corridor without doors’ against our ‘straight corridor with a locked door at the end’.”

    Leaning against the back of his chair, adopting a somewhat more related posture.

    “She has lost her grasp on reality, no longer able to trust that the events around her are real or the delusions of her shattered mind. Even to the very end of our conversation, she could not accept that I was real. That is why she asked me to prove it by finding seven pages of her diary. Already got my hands on one of those last night, by the way, and I have been told Vivienne Bianchi holds another one.”

    After that, John’s expression becomes, strangely, more serene.

    “As for her abilities, well, your guess is as good as mine. We already knew she wields light and the nuclear force. Her speech was riddled with references; a hodgepodge of hints pointing towards the Thelemic Babalon, the Gnostic Barbelo, the Trinity nuclear test, the Cthulhu Mythos and I-already-forgot-what-else, all of it with a dash of Blavatsky. To be honest, rather than a member, she seems a mockery of the Turnside instead. I guess that’s theosophy for you.”

    Madame Blavatsky’s real triumph as an occultist was in developing a mysticism so bloatedly syncretic and convoluted that it simply cannot fail. Pile up enough crap together and you can make any structure look solid. In the Turnside, where perception is everything, having the appearance of solidity is enough; those who give themselves to it will turn the illusion into reality. That is why all Modern occultism, from Chaos magic to goddamn wicca, derives from Theosophy in some way.

    “I could not figure out whether she is supposed to be Parsons’ moonchild, the homunculus inside the Jumbo canister, or a secret moonchild of Crowley’s making. To be honest, I don’t think I even care anymore; her current situation is more relevant than her magical nature. She did refer to herself as the last of her kind, though.”

    You are not as good a liar as you claim to be, John Dove. There is no way a man like you would be satisfied with a question unanswered.

    “If I am allowed to be wholly honest, it all feels like a smokescreen. All those references feel like they were thrown together for fools like me to come up with all sorts of disparate explanations to make them work. It is like looking for constellations. Where I might see an elephant, another person might see…something else.”

    John Dove just stopped himself from making a rather crude joke.

    “However, there is the one thing; the one sentence she used to describe herself right before disappearing, that might just be the key.”

    Again, he closes his eyes, recollecting the colorful visage of that beautiful, twisted person.



    “Kosmos Noetos - Eidos On Hypothesis.”

    When he opens his eyes once more, John is not aware that he is smiling.

    “I know the term noeto kosmo from Clement of Alexandria: it is the term he used to describe the world beyond the eighth sphere, above all sensible things. Theology is not my thing, though; I only know this much because Clement was influenced by Gnosticism even as he criticized it, and, to a much greater degree, by Plato and his ‘Realm of Ideas’—that is, eidei.”

    Feeling himself a bit parched, John takes a sip of his juice before continuing.

    “Then there is ‘eidos on hypothesis’. This isn’t ‘there is a Hypothesis that there are Ideas’. Rather, ‘each Idea is itself a Hypothesis’.”

    John is thinking about it through the lens of “magic” as it has been explained to him.

    “The hypothesized Idea is itself the instrument of its own transformation into something not merely ‘supposed’, but truly beheld. I guess that goes back to the ‘moonchild’, and to whatever ‘concept’ is meant to be incarnated as one such being. The ‘moonchild-eidos’, let’s say. Plato would encourage us to see not Ultravania the moonchild, but to look for ‘that which allows us to see Ultravania as a moonchild’. The mishmash of powers and references is irrelevant: once the condition of ‘being a moonchild’ is fulfilled, she has an entire spectrum of ‘modern occultism’ to tap into at her will.”

    His frown manifests as he goes into introspection, talking more to himself than to his classmates.

    “Is that within the limits of sympathetic magic? Could an individual redefine themselves as something beyond themselves through sheer will and obstinate imitation? Or does it require the acknowledged perception of vast numbers of people? Basically, could a person make themselves into a ‘moonchild’, or did somebody else ‘infect’ enough people with the ‘possibility of a moonchild’ until it could be realized?”

    However, his expression quickly relaxes into a half-smile that is about as much resignation as it is amusement.

    “Furthermore, while I could discuss this topic forever, we might want to refocus on other, more immediate matters, dangerous as Ultra may be.”
    Last edited by Daneel Rush; November 26th, 2021 at 09:46 PM.

  7. #4307
    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 Aleen
    "Oh no you don't!"
    I went to slip my shoulder out of Aleen’s surprisingly strong grip. It would be easy to break out of her grip however… The second I saw her confident smirk, I knew she had something devious planned.

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleen
    "Like, seriously Vier. Just shut up and have breakfast with us. You have all the time in the world to mope later if you're still into that. Because if you don't, and try to run away now… I'm gonna barf on you. Try to keep yourself hidden from enemies then!"
    “...”

    Quote Originally Posted by Aleen
    "... I'm not even kidding, it's taking a lot of willpower to keep myself steady, so right now I can pretty much barf on command. And I won't hesitate to do so."
    I stare at Aleen long and hard before sighing. I lightly take her hand off my shoulder and keep a hold of it to discourage her from barfing on me.

    “You know I could use the sense of barf to mislead people who are reliant on their sense of smell. Placed in the same area as me, the bile smell would mask mine fairly well. But if you insist, I’ll grab something quick to eat. I wasn’t lying about setting up that defensive point. Because tonight is going to be rough if we don’t do any preparations...”

    Tonight for sure, there will be fatalities. If anything, I should try to assume that our time table for doom has been pushed up with Gabi Bahkauv’s midweek demise. If I’m wrong, then it’s just my pessimism speaking. If I’m right, then we’ll be wiped out even before last week’s events. But seeing as I’m going to be here for a little longer, I should answer Liana.

    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    "Well he still hasn't taken me out for pie, so I don't actually know what our relationship is..."
    “Unofficial boyfriend then.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    "But a safe? That's what he was doing? Was it an electronic lock? I hope it wasn't an electronic lock. Those sorts of things are sort of my whole deal, and dirty my hands...? Sure I don't break and enter or steal if it's not necessary, but considering how suspicious Jack is and all the nonsense that happened last night, it wouldn't have taken much to convince me to help."
    “Dual system. Physical and electrical alarms interconnected to provide redundancy and security. So unless you can defeat both, it would’ve triggered a remote alarm. He provided the keycard for me to break into it successfully.”

    Quote Originally Posted by Liana
    “What else was in the safe besides the folder? Anything important?”
    “Plenty. Granted the items seem to be circumstantially important. I took a map that seems to detail the local sewer lines, an intricate key, and a pistol with silver bullets. At the same, there was a metal shard, a small enclosed box, a lock of blonde hair, and a satellite phone.”

    I took out the cassette tape with no markings.

    “And this. I’m not sure if this was something he wished to hide or if it’s just his favorite songs. I guess I can play this at breakfast.”

    Eat, listen, and probably load the loose silver bullets into some of the magazines that came with the Colt Delta Elite. It’s been awhile since I’ve had a working breakfast like this. It wasn’t uncommon to do the more informal briefs while eating and loading equipment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fyrtio
    "... Oh. I think I know what the reason is. Partially at least. My codename. It's... It's not supposed to be 'Fyrtio'. As in, 40 in Swedish. I-it was supposed to be 'Fer-Théo... A-as in, 'Iron-Théo'..."
    Hearing Fyrtio’s original name, I noticed why she decided to change her name. 40 sounds more normal than… “Iron God” if we’re using the Greek word for Theo or “Iron People” if we’re using ‘theud’ from German. Regardless of the meaning, I think I need to be careful around her. The French and German commands don’t exactly like each other, but they know when to set aside things when required. Like a hypothetical scenario where there are deserting ESPers armed with experimental military equipment. However, for now, it looks like I can trust her and if she is our hunter then I can always assist her until the last minute. I quit musing over Fyrtio when Liana started deprecating herself. I’m going to sound hypocritical… I can tell.

    “Ideally, I should’ve been able to notice that Aleen got replaced. We should have been able to capture the impostor after catching up. The clash with the Omkaras could’ve been avoided if both sides noticed the perception altering. But… Nothing survives contact and hindsight is 20/20. We couldn't predict the events from last night. Yet you managed to identify the impostor even when I failed to notice after pressing people. You saved Aleen from likely dying of hypothermia. Everyone who was wounded was patched up sufficiently. So even if it's not ideal, it's still good enough.”

    So I pointed my head towards the owner’s garage and started making my way towards the smell of food.

    “So go get your unofficial boyfriend, so we can eat and I can get away from this puking time bomb.”

  8. #4308
    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 chill, running up my spine like death itself, reaching around my neck and gripping it firmly as I looked with wide eyes at Souma Nubutama. I listened to his words, and could feel mana start to burn through my veins, a warmth running up my arms as I started to raise it slightly, smiling bright and wide as I stared at Souma, and he at myself - him with dead eyes, I with shining ones--

    And then the moment faded, and I blinked curiously as he began to speak again, as if no words prior were said. As if the feeling he created wasn't real. Just how involved, exactly, was Souma with the supernatural? Was he simply another monster to be devoured by this unreality, like so many others before? Or was he a monster entirely of his own making?

    My curiosity only grew as I pondered on it, listening with a half-frown to Souma's words.

    "Is not love entirely illogical? I highly doubt that anyone would feel that sort of affection for myself, as illogical as love is," I said, crossing my arms with a strangled mutter of frustration. "And no man nor woman would ever stoop so low as to 'fawn over me', as you so delicately put it. I'm simply the incorrect character choice for such things!"

    I smiled, bright and wide, giving Souma a V with my left hand.

    "After all, I am in the end, an inhuman predator! There is no such thing as love between a monster and a human, right? Even were I to become fully human - to, as they say, 'reintegrate' into this half-finished society - the core of what I am still stands at the top of my soul! Were I to play the hero, it'd probably be poor form, right? Were I to play the villain, everyone would go 'how expected', right?"

    I tilted my head to the side, tapping my chin with a frown as I thought it over.

    "...Although, maybe doing a little of both could be pretty interesting in and of itself? After all, as something that is not even a quarter of a human being, can't I just sort of do whatever I want...?"

    Hm. Something to ponder, is it not Potemkin? Or would it be better to strive towards keeping the things we love alive, and killing the things we want dead?

    I slapped my cheeks, shaking my head quickly as I started to peer around the room.

    "Enough of these talks of love and other embarrassing subjects! This room... I can already sense it! It's... It's...!"

    I picked up a stray 'science' beaker, looking through the top of it like a telescope at a blurry portrayal of Souma, sticking out my tongue as I tried to see if I could make him form an interesting shape.

    "It's definitely filled with objects of science!"
    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.


  9. #4309
    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

    "Now, hold on for a moment," I spoke up, a clear glint of frustration and annoyance visible in my eyes, "You're just expecting us to take all this, the things you say and the way you say them in a stride, and chat about our trip while disregarding how suspicious you are?"

    In a sense, he reminded me of a certain "shoe salesman"...Except that he was even worse. Here, it wasn't just cryptic riddles regarding things with questionable relevance, but rather, highly suggestive assumptions - that resembled conspiracy theories more than anything - about things that affected us quite a bit.

    Not to mention, of course, his identity...

    "It's only been a short while but you've already taken vague jabs at about half a dozen shady topics surrounding this town. Trackers in the food? Tax collectors that only detect movement? Tall things being chopped down angering spirits? All this thrown onto the table sounds worse than the ramblings of some conspiracy theorist, and has even less explanation at that."

    Even Barney could provide some evidence, even if sometimes misleading, and tried his best to actually convince people of his far fetched theories.

    "Then, you just go and casually predict the future, even if only just a few moments ahead? Surely, it's not just the smell, because while I'm willing to take the hit about not noticing scents that should not be there in the first place, the smell of tobacco I would notice as well if it was so obviously in the air. I stopped believing in coincidences as well, and considering that I was already unfortunate enough to run into at least two individuals with similar talents in foresight, I'm not going to note it down to nonsense either. Though, whatever you meant by the part concerning me, I can't even tell, and not even sure if I want to know."

    It felt like I was only getting more worked up, even though I was trying to wind down. Yet, there was something about this man that wouldn't let me rest, some details that I was going to make him face, whether or not he would remember them, just so that I could get them out of my system.

    "Of course, there is also the question of your memory. People don't just forget about their past so easily, not willingly at least, and not someone like you especially. Did the townspeople do this to you? Because you were trying to bust into the closet of this town that is filled to the brim with skeletons? Unravel their darkest secrets about the Girl in Blue? Having to remind people of their past is starting to get old, considering that I do not seem to be truly aware of mine either. Yet, I'm not going to pretend that you're just some crazed hobo. You're Ashley Xavier - once the head of Gottlieb who who went a bit too far with dabbling in the supernatural. I stumbled upon your name way too many times already."

    Turning my glare away from the man for a moment, I shift my bag to my side so that I can reach into it, and after just a bit of rummaging, I pull out a set of papers. The old, discoloured letter that's been opened and folded at least hundreds of times now that I brought with myself when coming to this town. The newspaper article about the disappearance of a man. A copy I made of the notes we've found yesterday, the one part specifically containing the musings about a certain Xavier.

    I held them out in front of myself, unwilling to let go of them, but enough for the man to take a brief look as well. They held too much significance to me for me to just risk losing them.

    "I don't doubt that you might not remember, however, closing your eyes to the past does not erase it. You've had your hand in far too many things, and by the sound of it, you still know plenty."

  10. #4310
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Kitchen
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    Jayesh gave Colt a slightly confused look.

    "I... think he should? He has worked with Mr. Pinkerton longer than we have. From what I understand, they met while both were working at Spokane about a decade ago," the older Omkara replied. "Of course, I never confirmed it. However, considering that Mr. Pinkerton did come clean to me regarding this thing after we had established some trust as an employee and employer, I would imagine it's the same for him. Especially if they've known each other for that long."

    Sierra's eye was wide open and the girl didn't seem to even know how to respond to all this. The cup of hot cocoa in her hands was shaking, almost like she had to remind herself to keep a tight grip on it for it to not fall on the ground out of sheer shock.

    Kajal, on the other hand, shot a frown towards her brother.

    "What do you mean?" She asked bluntly. "What's wrong with Boss?"

    Jayesh was about to answer, but then his eyes took in the sight of both Sierra and Cathie, and the young man hesitated. After a moment of troubled thinking, he appeared to come up with a way to explain things in a way that would be passable, as he opened his mouth once more.

    "Mr. Pinkerton is... sick. It's a condition that strikes about monthly. He's not quite... himself during those times. However, he can mitigate it by triggering this episode... early. If I understood him correctly, that was his plan for last night, because I don't know why else he would have been in such a state. After managing to calm him down and restrain him for his own good, I moved him to the panic bunker underneath the statue outside," Jayesh explained. "Of course, when I returned from there was when I met Liana, but that's neither here or there. Mr. Pinkerton should still be there where I left him, and since it's been a whole night, his episode should be over."

    Kajal seemed to understand what her brother was insinuating as her eyes widened a little bit, and she shot a glance towards both Colt and Cathie. And while Sierra definitely looked surprise, Cathie did not. If anything, a frown of realization had dawned upon her face too, and as she raised her gaze to meet that of Jayesh...

    "... Hey. By any chance... Is Pinkerton his real name?" Cathie asked, her tone of voice worried. "Or did he change it at some point in life? Do you know?"

    Jayesh, surprisingly enough, nodded.

    "From what I understand, he chose 'Pinkerton' after moving to Spokane. Before that, he used his old last name," the dusky-skinned youth explained. "That being... Kincaid."

    "---!"

    Suddenly, Sierra shoved her cup of hot cocoa into Colt's hands and took off, sprinting out of the kitchen and into the corridor beyond the doorway. The suddenness of her escape took everyone by surprise, but out of all of them, it was Cathie who managed to get her bearings back first.

    "Sierra!"

    Yelling that, the auburn-haired girl chased after her.



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

    The only cemetery of Road's End was, ironically enough, as quiet as a grave.

    The chilly wind blowing from the west signaled that the storm clouds that Prushka knew were on their way would not take long now. They were like an armada of gunships in the horizon, slowly but surely advancing towards this small town, their cannons of pure lightning and thunder already rumbling. In many ways, this truly was the calm before the storm. A calm that would not last forever. Most likely, in less than five hours or so, it would come time for the storm to hit and then... and then... another storm entirely would finally come a, perhaps, violent conclusion.

    --- But there were things to do before that.

    Namely, the question of Nevada's grave. According to Jake's instructions, it was somewhere here... and it would be up to the three of them to find it. As Prushka had expected, she had found a couple of shovels nearby in a small shed, which was most likely used by the place's caretaker... whoever that person was. Well, whoever it was, they had also stored two red hoodies in the shed, which was a bit surprising. But speaking of surprising things... yes. Unlike the girl had expected, there were three of them here now.

    Even if one of them was in an owl suit.

    "Oh my... it really is quite quiet here," Alpa muttered, her voice coming muffled through the massive owl head. "So there are places like this at Road's End, too..."

    In all honesty, it was perhaps for the best that they had chosen routes that would minimize any danger of running into other people. After all, the owl costume that Alpa was wearing was a rather terrifying thing to behold. It was so old and stitched-together thing that it did not come across as a fluffy owl in a jersey, no... it came across as some sort of monstrous zombie-owl hybrid who would eat you the moment its massive eyes caught the sight of you. And the way its head dangled back and forth as Alpa, far too small to properly use the suit, walked in it... it truly was the stuff of nightmares - something you didn't want to run into late at night.

    Even Ahti had hard time looking at it.

    Then again, Ahti had been somewhat silent during the way here. While it was usual for the grumpy youth to not be the most talkative one, perhaps there was something else going on too. After all, before the group had left the second floor of the main building, Ahti had listened to Prushka's teasing, low voice with a strangely expressionless face, almost like he wasn't quite sure what she meant. And maybe he hadn't. The boy was teetering the line of knowing and not knowing certain things, so perhaps he couldn't read some finer points, but then again...

    --- He had eventually responded by pushing his face close, very close, to Prushka's and whispering:

    "You're the only one who gets to be that to me."

    And then separating from her like nothing had happened.

    ... It really had been a weird day already, huh?




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

    "......... Heh. That they are."

    Souma let out his trademark stunted chuckle. He gazed back at Alexstrasza through the beaker's glass... and then simply turned around, starting towards the back of the room where the bigger cabinets were, holding all sorts of items. Next to them as the teacher's desk. The one-eyed youth took a moment to look through the drawers, as if searching for something. What he eventually turned up with was a set of small keys - keys that he then proceeded to lob over to the blonde girl.

    "A telescope is large instrument. Even broken, it needs a sizeable space to hold it," he spoke up. "Try to look for spaces where one could hide it. And anything else that seems... out of the ordinary."

    There was certainly lot to look through. The walls were lined with cabinets, and while some of them had windows on the doors so you could see what laid on the shelves, most didn't. Then there were also the drawers on the desks, the massive metal shelves at the back wall absolutely filled to the brim with stuff, and a smaller door leading to... hmm, probably the storage space of the classroom itself? Science classes often had one, did they not? Looking at the keys, the blonde girl could make an educated guess that the biggest key would probably open that door, but aside from that...

    ... It certainly looked like they had their work cut out for them.

    But, as Alexstrasza started looking around, she couldn't help but to hear Potemkin cackle over their mental connection. The being had gone quiet as Souma's threatening aura had expanded, but the girl's previous thoughts and words seemed to have shaken it out of its stupor. Indeed, for some reason, it was really having fun now... and the more it laughed, the more suspicious it got. Just what had Alexstrasza said that got it going so much?

    Suddenly, she saw two visions before her eyes - or rather, two memories.

    Two memories sent by Potemkin, no doubt.

    --- First one being of Devon, calling her something quite unlike her true nature thanks to his delirious state.

    --- The second one being of Travis, who was gushing about how 'cool' her showcase of magic had been.

    But just what was the point of reminding her of those times!?




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

    The old man stared at the papers Hisa had shoved in front of his face, his face in a frown and his eyes squinting as if he could not have seen it all too well, and evetuanlly..

    "Hmph!"

    He turned his head aside with a loud harrumph.

    "Heaven's sake girl, we've barely met and already you're drilling me with more fervor than Texans drill for oil! Are all the young'uns this rude today or are you just a particularly ornery lass? Were I not so used to jeering and insults from kids, I'd be offended, I tell you! Offended-!" Ash replied with what sounded like indignation in his voice. "Now, first of all, don't you be doubting the nose of an unemployed vagabond! I've been like a ronin of the woods, my beak can't be fooled by mere human sensibilities! I'll sniff out anything good, no matter how hard you try to hide it... and especially if it's my favorite brand!"

    His squinted eyes turned towards Pyry, who was still frozen mid-gesture of handing over a cigarette.

    "Now, what are you standing there for, lad! Gimme!"

    Not knowing what else to do, Pyry handed the old man a cigarette, and he lit it up with what looked to be an extremely cheap lighter, the type that you could buy from gas stations. And indeed, the words "Big Boy's" were written on its side with cheap-looking letter. Ash then proceeded to take a long drag, letting the younger people around him wait in an uncomfortable silence as he partook in his vice... which finally ended when he blew out a cloud of smoke straight up, making him look like an old steam engine for just a moment.

    "Now then, lass..."

    His eyes levelled a deep stare towards Hisa, and his expression shifted a little.

    "Have you never heard that you'll catch more flies with honey than vinegar? Well if you have, forget about all that! Some flies find vinegar all too attractive, while honey seems suspicious to them. That's just the way the sneaky bastards are! However... if you're looking to talk to people, of all things, you'd do well to keep your temper in check. Nobody's going to be cooperative if the first thing outta your mouth are suspicions, accusations and blame, lass. Not that giving as good as one gets ain't right - if someone's being a right nitwit, fire away. But don't spray on those who ain't done nothing," Ash spoke, his old, grumbling voice surprisingly clear. "Even if what you meet is a rambling old fool, if he's offering to help, don't just start getting angry outta nowhere! You're gonna scare that jittery idiot into clamping up, and then what are you gonna do? We're civilized creatures, so let's act like ones! Even if yours truly ain't completely right in the head, that doesn't mean I'm your enemy either!"

    He took another drag and clicked his tongue.

    "I swear, young'un... you're as bad as Jack when he was but a lad! So quick to jump the gun..."

    Smoke slowly trailed towards the ceiling, and as it did, the grumpy tirade of the old man seemed to wither down as well. Instead, his shoulders sagged a little and he heaved a sigh, levelling another stare towards Hisa... but this time a more searching one. As if he was trying to gauge the girl's true intentions and her true emotions, the ones that bubbled underneath the surface.

    "... Or is the stress getting to you, lass? Walls closing in around you, every shadow seems like a threat, every person feels like they're hiding something or lying... like there's nothing and nobody you can trust? Trust me, young'un, that'd drive anyone up the walls with paranoia eventually - whether it's about the IRS or little green men," Ash spoke with a calmer, much gentler voice. "Time feels like it's slipping between your fingers and down the drain, that sort of water that you can't hold on to no matter how hard you try. Or maybe, running out of sand, huh? Well..."

    The old man's eyes turned down, looking at the floor - and for a moment, he seemed as tired and exhausted as his advanced age would have indicated.

    "--- You've no enemies in this room, lass. It might not be much, but you've got my word you've no need to rush - I ain't running away. And I'll help how I can. That's what we golden oldies are want to do when we meet troubled young'uns. Or at the very least, that's what yours truly wants to do... now that I met you again. Mufufu, not that you probably even remember me. You were still bedridden and unconscious back then," Ash said with an oddly nostalgic smile to his lips. "Not sure if this is a dream or not, but no matter, it's good to see you in such good health, lass. You've come a long way from when you were recovering."

    Finally, he raised that gentle smile and met Hisa's stare with it, not backing away an inch.

    "So, what say you we start from the beginning, lass? Of what troubles you and yours, and how I might be able to help? What I might explain?" He asked. "I'm all ears, so take your time."

  11. #4311
    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
    "You're the only one who gets to be that to me."
    Minutes later, even as we travel through the streets, zooming along on the Dragon with Ahti keeping up through natural speed alone, I still can't get the words out of my head. Because, like, what does that even meeeeeeeean?!?

    I shouldn't have teased him! I went too far! He's gotta be mad now! Prushka, you idiot!

    "Awawawa... I'm sorry..."

    With the haze of confusion clouding my mind, it's not until we're standing at the gates of the cemetery that I realize how far we've gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alpa
    "Oh my... it really is quite quiet here. So there are places like this at Road's End, too..."
    "Mmhm..." The lonely graveyard stretches out before us. As if autumn has come early, there are yellow-orange leaves fallen among the stones marking the fallen of Road's End. "It's not the kinda place you'd wanna visit often. The feelings here must be... regret, loss, nostalgia, that kinda stuff." Only those enamored with such emotions would want to come here. Normal humans would naturally stay away. The visitors must be infrequent at best.

    Stepping forward, leaves crunch beneath my boots.

    "Was it empty like this where you lived, Alpa?" Perhaps that was easier for her. Less people around. I can imagine her on a mountain somewhere, making a cozy home in a cave... "You can take off the head if it's too heavy. No one's around besides us, anyhow. Actually, how are you even moving that thing properly...?"

    Rows upon rows of gravestones. Each one must've been someone's relative or loved one.

    Perhaps one of them is my loved one.

    "...um, Scrooge. Jake said my brother's near the forest. Could we start there? They called him 'Nevada'. That might be what's written."
    Last edited by Bloble; November 28th, 2021 at 05:39 PM.

  12. #4312
    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

    "I have my ways to deal with people, so you needn't worry," I replied after some contemplation with an unblinking stare, "Same goes for my mental health. But I appreciate the concern."

    No, I didn't. He only had himself to blame, and there was just something even more infuriating about how much he exaggerated my behaviour. How he tried to read behind the lines, analyze my actions and emotions, and lecture me about them. When exactly did I ask for some random stranger to be my psychiatrist? Especially when this particular stranger is likely the one responsible for ruining my life.

    He should have been happy that I was being this cooperative.

    I much rather would have shown him what I would have done if he decided to "clamp up".

    To pry every last bit of information out of his mind without any care at all.

    His only saving grace was that I was not alone, otherwise I likely wouldn't have shied away from getting nasty.

    "I already said what I was interested in. Your ramblings, and why exactly it is that you remember me. Of course, if you're incapable of saying anything concrete, then you should just tell us about that warehouse next to us."

  13. #4313
    Click the moon for extra scenes Verg Avesta's Avatar
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    Hisa Momoi
    Location: Old Train Yard
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    Ash did not say immediately anything in response - instead he simply stared at Hisa with those intense eyes of his. Eventually, a somewhat forlorn smile appeared to his face, and he simply nodded. It was hard to say if he had seen through the lie and sensed Hisa's actual feelings of the matter or not... but if he had, his face did not betray it. Instead, he shifted his position on the bench a little bit, leaning slightly back and directing his gaze towards the ceiling.

    "Hmm, well then lass... let's start from the beginning, shall we?" He replied, stroking his beard. "About how I recognize you. It's a weird feeling, ain't it? Not knowing someone but them knowing you. But, again, I can hardly blame you, young'un! You were more or less conked out during the whole time."

    He took a drag off his cigarette and let the cloud of smoke billow towards the ceiling.

    "--- 1988. You were unconscious for six days in total, after Jack found you. Physically, mentally and spiritually, you were like a candle that had burnt to the hilt," the old man continued. "While he and Angelica treated you for the latter two, it remained for me and my apprentice to treat the former. Well, I was a qualified doctor back then, and I knew a little something something when it came to medicine. So, since we were around, we helped how we could - and later Jack told us that you had made more or less a full recovery."

    A slightly self-sardonic smirk appeared on the old man's face.

    "Unfortunately, I was dealing with a teensy weensy problem of my own at the time so I couldn't stay behind, though my daughter - that is, my apprentice, did. She sent me occasional reports of your recovery too, though eventually we lost contact," Ash concluded. "And well, then things happened and yours truly became what he is today - on the run from the IRS and hiding in the woods the best he can. Eventually I heard that the Pinefall High had started up operations again, and well... here you are."

    His eyes once again focused on the girl.

    "So. That's all there is to it. I'm just the old fool who happened to be visiting the manor at the time, and who did what he could while you were stuck unconscious," he said. "Not much more to it, I'm afraid. Though I did know Jack for quite a long while before our paths crossed."

    He gestured with his hand for Hisa to take the reigns of the conversation and ask any questions that she might have.




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


    Ahti nodded quietly.

    "Alright. Let's start there, see if that name pops out anywhere."

    Having said that, the boy heaved couple of the shovels up to his shoulder and started towards the row of gravestones that ran parallel to the edge of the pine forest itself. The trees softly swayed in the chilly wind, and Prushka could see the boy's ears twitch in response, as if he was listening for any and all suspicious sounds. However, all that they heard was the crunching of leaves, their own footfalls and the aforementioned wind that showed no signs of stopping.

    Meanwhile Alpa, still clad in her ridiculous costume, shook her head. As in, she took a hold of the owl-head and vigorously twisted it left and right.

    "N-no, that's alright! I'm quite comfy here, inside this head! P-plus, even if we can't see anyone, there might be someone here...!" She said, looking around the area as if expecting to spot someone. "Hmm... looks c-clear for now, but you never know..."

    Then, having calmed down her nerves somewhat, the girl started talking again, but this time about the other question Prushka had asked her.

    "And, um, yes... it was empty. Very empty. Just me, Arya and the mountains... my house was built on the cliffside, near the old sky burial site," the girl explained. "Everyone else had been tak--- had moved away, so, w-well, naturally it ended up being empty. But I didn't mind. I had what I needed. I found my company in the flora and the fauna. And since I was so high up, if I wanted to see people, I could always just gaze down the mountain and spy on one of the smaller villages down below..." Alpa explained, sounding somewhat wistful. "And in spring, the clouds came down so close you could touch them, the trees bloomed, rivers unfroze and the hot springs welled up and steamed in big, cozy pillars across the vista..."

    The owl-head flopped back to gaze up at the sky.

    "Here the sky seems so far away, doesn't it...?"

    The girls, having been so focused on their conversation, found it rudely interrupted as they managed to walk straight into Ahti who had stopped. The boy let out a grunt and turned around, gazing down on the two of them.

    "Sorry to cut your talk short, Imp, but..."

    He pointed his thumb towards the row of gravestones right next to them.

    "... Isn't that it?"

    And as Prushka looked into the direction he was pointing at, she saw it. A gravestone that had seen better days, but where somewhat old flowers could still be seen decorating the ground before it. A gravestone that was simple, both in the make and in the text.

    A gravestone that read:


    - Nevada -
    May Time Never Keep Us Apart


    And nothing else.

  14. #4314
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Kitchen
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    The true nature of Jack Pinkerton’s “condition,” the significance of his previous surname “Kincaid,” those details were both lost and meaningless to Colt. At least, at present. In the grand scheme of Road’s End and his repeating week, perhaps they would return to the forefront of his thoughts, pressing matters that he had to keep in mind. But for the moment, he had only one thought.

    One simple, to-the-point thought.

    "---!"

    "Sierra!"


    Two of the girls took off.

    “That bastard Hawthorn…” Colt ground his teeth, the words coming out of the grinding with more spite and venom than he knew he had in him. “He’s been playing us like a damn fiddle, hasn’t he?”

    With clenched fists, the boy looked to the door Sierra had flown through with Cathie chasing after her. Colt exhaled deeply, emptying his lungs in a ritual to release the anger building up. The scowl that had made its way onto his face refused to fade even as he let out the last of his air.

    He took a glance at the breakfast feast, and breathed in.

    “I guess my breakfast has to wait.” He hung his head, burying his hands in his pockets. Unclenching his fists he fondled the keys, his ticket out of the Spade Queen, back to the one waiting for him, and muttered to himself. “Sorry, Tris, I think I have to see this one through…”

    His head shot up, and he let go of the keys.

    “’Cause I’m too damn ticked off to just walk away now.”

    With heavy footfalls, Colt Davin followed after the girls.

    Before he had laid all of the blame for the night onto Jack. The man worshiped Dot, the one who set it all up was clearly a pawn of the monster in Muse’s forest. It would have been easy to set the stage for the night’s tragedy, had Jack wanted to. So he had assumed the whole time that Jack was his enemy, and even though he had sympathy, and pity, for Sierra, Colt had no true desire to “rescue” her father. If he helped “find” Jack, it would be to capture him, not to rescue him.

    He passed through the door and down the corridor, his mind swirling with an entirely new line of thoughts, and a new face to place the blame on.


  15. #4315
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Living alone, huh..."

    As we walk, Alpa recounts an almost familiar description. One of the surroundings, the environment, but with barely any people in it. A life on a cold mountain, with everything far away...

    "I spent a few years away from civilization myself," I reply as we walk past rows of gravestones. "In Alaska. It was always either bright or dark. We got a sled to deliver supplies once a month, but otherwise it was just me and Boss. And the huskies. They were great. But there wasn't much to see elsewhere. Just snow and old tanks. Wander too far and you'd be lost in white. The sky was rarely clear; there was always some cloud pressing down on you. Everything was open... but it felt really claustrophobic at the same time."

    Maybe my experience wasn't similar to what Alpa went through at all. She talks of the mountains as beautiful, but to me... the north was just a lonely place.

    "We definitely didn't have any hot springs. Haha, that would've been nice... who's Arya, anyhow? A pet? Or - ah."

    Alpa and I bump into Ahti at the same time. He's stopped, and it's easy to see why.

    - Nevada -
    May Time Never Keep Us Apart
    "...that's gotta be it. Thank you, Ahti."

    We stop in front of one gravestone. Or rather, Ahti's keen eyes pick it out from among the sea of grey.

    My insides numb, I step forward. Kneel down next to it. Run my hand over the smooth stone. Stand again. Step around it slowly, looking at the back and the front. Nothing strange catches the eye.

    ' May Time Never Keep Us Apart' it says... but exactly that happened, didn't it, Snow? You were left alone here in the past, with your family far away under lock and key.

    At the front again. Glancing at the flowers.

    Reach out, touch the decayed bouquet.

    Mémoire, can you still hear me? Even though I can't be sure you exist?

    Tell me who left these here, weeks ago. Tell me... what did they feel, looking at this grave?

    You don't have to tell me how I feel, Mémoire. I don't want to know.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    "...they didn't know what they were feeling either, huh..."

    Stand. Brush the dirt off of my legs. Stretch my arms high.

    Sigh.

    "Hey, Scrooge... could you hand me one of those shovels?"

    It's about time then.

    "And, uh, Alpa... it might get dirty. You don't have to watch if you don't wanna."
    Last edited by Bloble; November 30th, 2021 at 05:49 PM.

  16. #4316
    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

    "That's all there is to it?"

    Standing there in silence, a couple of moments passed as my eyes remained locked onto the man, watching his expressions closely before slowly becoming unfocused as I looked past him, lost in my thoughts.

    "...I see."

    I was certain that he was lying. Or at the very least, leaving out important details, and only presenting the part of the story that did not put him in a bad light yet. How could it be that they happened upon the manor exactly then and there? It wasn't exactly the easiest thing to find, being what it was, and then they just stumbled upon it, exactly when I was brought there as well?

    Who was his apprentice? Why do I not remember her either? Why was there a need to send reports about my health, when my recovery supposedly only took six days? Why is he so content with having lost contact with his apprentice?

    He also calls himself a qualified doctor...But at the same time, someone managing a company most known for mental drugs would likely mostly be versed in that field as well.

    And if that is all there is to it...Then it wasn't exactly all that memorable. How would something so insignificant remain in his memory? It was almost like remembering the faces of every stranger who ever walked past them on the streets, or every shop clerk they ever spent half a minute chatting with while paying for their goods.

    Of course...It could have been true, for what I knew. Maybe I was trying to see things where there weren't any. Maybe it was wrong to take it for granted that the letter was concerning me. After all, no matter how the story goes, if he met me back then, then part of the letter would barely make sense if it was about me. It was all a possibility, but...I had to believe in one or the other for now, and I didn't want to assume that I was wrong.

    Regardless...I didn't see the point of trying to dig further, or calling him out for the inconsistencies. If he was lying to me now, then that would only continue, and lies can only lead to confusion and disappointment.

    Not that anything held us back from getting this over with quickly, and returning to searching for what we originally came here to find.

    "Well, in that case, maybe you could continue this discussion with Pyry. I only came to check, and still had plenty of things to do outside. Besides, I can't stand the smoke. You destroy your lungs how you please, but as a doctor you should be aware of what effects it has on others around you."

    Now, to think about more important matters...

    What exactly were we to do with that skeleton?

  17. #4317
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Mellon's Avatar
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    Anna Vandemeel
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building – Cafeteria
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    “Vandemeel, I think I met your Moonchild. Charming gal, that one. As troublesome as she is interesting, though.”
    “Hmph.” The brief snort that Anna let out in response to John’s words was surprisingly dismissive considering the heavy nature topic in question. “Of course she is. By this point, I’d be willing to eat my bloody jacket if anything in this place was simple or straightforward to deal with.”

    Her tone was brusque and straight to the point, perhaps characteristically so for the Estonian witch, but a certain edge or harshness was hiding there that had not been present during their earlier escapades at the common room. News of Gabi’s death had clearly had an effect on the raven-haired girl… though one couldn’t really call it grief or sadness. Instead, it was something grown out of the very same emotion that she had shown moments ago in the common room – anger.

    Not a raging fury, but rather the cold, calculated, anger that galvanized one towards a particular mindset and outlook – a type of cold battle pragmatism and nothing else.

    John’s tale was wrought with occult references galore. In this particular regard, his knowledge truly was exceptional. While her own talents in esoteric mysticism were not inconsiderable and most likely surpassed those of the average mage, the melancholy boy blew her straight out of the water. He rattled through complex metaphysical concepts at a breakneck speed.

    Perhaps her only complaint would be that he was too eager to ramble on topics just to reference them and not really use them to build a coherent argument… though this was the way of all esoteric knowledge, so perhaps that was an argument in itself.

    A perpetual loop of self-reference and cannibalization of ideas and stories.

    A dozen varying viewpoints and reflections on the same underlying concept.

    If I am allowed to be wholly honest, it all feels like a smokescreen. All those references feel like they were thrown together for fools like me to come up with all sorts of disparate explanations to make them work. It is like looking for constellations. Where I might see an elephant, another person might see…something else.”
    “If she is a manifestation of a fragment of primordial truth, then all of those may be correct. In the end, all of those things may simply be reflections of herself. After all, “Ultravania” is only the name that… she, I suppose, is called in this time and place. However, though their gender, age, and appearance may vary, references to this particular mage and her many, many aliases have popped up all over the centuries.”

    “Many of them predate Crowley and his vendetta against the world, actually.” Anna’s fingers thrummed on the table, her crimson eyes clouded in thought. “It could easily be that she is simply the answer that can be reached through all these particular ritual methods. An idea that is manifested over and over again. Or maybe it is that only a certain type of idea can be incarnated in the world, to begin with.”

    “Kinda how there are countless equations one can use to reach a number… three, for example. The path is different, but the end result is always the same. A particular idea.”

    Maybe she was a corrective force of some description? Spun out by the world to avoid a certain type of calamity or event? It would make sense, considering the discordant pattern of her appearance and unknown motives, but why would she be manifested out here, in Road’s End? Unless her appearance was merely a symptom of something else taking place? Or perhaps a necessary prelude for something?

    …Ultravania’s presence in Road’s End was divined by the Campus of Yellow. Therefore, her presence in this place must predate ours. But if she was a corrective force, why would the Orloj…

    Not preventative, but predictive?

    “Though if that is the case, I have no idea why she would be considered the “last” of her kind. Unless the circumstances of the entire World, no existence itself, shift dramatically, a manifestation of an arche should still be reachable.”

    “It was in the past, so shall it be in the future. Unless the concept behind her meaning would become irrelevant…”

    Furthermore, while I could discuss this topic forever, we might want to refocus on other, more immediate matters, dangerous as Ultra may be.
    Anna halted in her tracks for a moment, her expression momentarily unreadable, before it snapped back to its more familiar surly and standoffish look.

    “You’re right of course. Though I suppose there is one key topic we should cover that remains regarding Ultravania.” The Estonian girl let out a deep breath. “Provided we don’t manage to find these notes and bring some semblance of sense back to her and she does… snap, for the lack of a better word, what do we do then?”

    “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?”

    While her question was addressed to the table in general, her deep red eyes bore down on John Dove in particular.

    “Kill her?”

  18. #4318
    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

    "O-oh, umm... sure?"

    Looking a bit confused, the girl wearing the owl costume staggered backwards, before sitting down on a small mound of grass-covered dirt nearby. From there, her big owl eyes gazed at Prushka as she took a few steps towards the grave. Without saying a word, Ahti handed one of the shovels to the small girl and gave her some space as well, so she could properly start digging. Strangely enough, the shovel felt surprisingly heavy in her hands, and the wind seemed to be slowly scratching the rusted metal surfaces in an unpleasant way.

    Finally, the spade hit the ground.

    It was harder than expected. Not ground frost levels of hard, but still... hard. Tightly packed. Definitely not easy to dig into.

    Yet, Prushka did. One swing of a shovel after another, slowly making the small dent in the ground larger and larger... very slowly.

    Agonizingly slowly, it felt.

    "----------- Okay, move aside, Imp."

    Ahti's sudden, gruff voice broke the silence. Gently, yet without leaving any space for complaints, the boy pushed Prushka aside from the spot where she had been digging. The boy lifted his own shovel and with one hefty move, pushed it into the ground almost to the hilt. Then, with another grunt, he started lifting up the ground and the dirt that he had managed to catch.

    After his first swing, the one-eyed youth turned to look at the girl besides her.

    "... You dig where I've broken the ground. It's softer there. And we'll get this done faster," he said quietly. "Unless you have complaints?"

    While he did ask it, the look in Ahti's eye told a different story.

    Or rather, it was like he was daring for Prushka to start complaining about him helping - daring her to try to act tough at a moment like this.




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

    Ash coughed into his balled-up fist, and a rather self-derisive smirk spread to his old, wrinled face.

    "I suppose you have me there, lass. Still..." He said, before pausing for a moment and then shaking his head. "... Never mind. I suppose you should do what you need to."

    For a moment, he looked like he wanted to say more - talk further about something, but perhaps it was the tinge of coldness in the girl's voice or the expression that she wore that made him back off. Whichever the reason, the old man seemed to understand that if he pressed further, the mood might take a turn for the worse, and for now, he should just let things be. Even if he did seem somewhat saddened by the fact.

    Pyry, on the other hand, gave Hisa a long, searching look that was tinted with worry. The boy might have been able to sense partially the myriad emotions and doubts that were running through the girl's mind, but at the same time, she seemed to have made her decision. Thus, instead of saying, he simply took a step closer to her, gently laid a hand on her shoulder and squeezed it in an encouraging way.

    "... Right. I can take it over from here, give you a run-down later of what I learned," he said. "You're right that we still have lot to do."

    Well, from the looks of it, this meant that the groups would separate again. Few of them would remain behind to talk with the old loony, while the rest would head outside to figure out how to proceed wth the bones they had found. Indeed, just a few minutes later, Hisa, To-Totesh and Gradient exited the ruined station and headed back towards the mounds. Above them, the grey clouds continued their endless march towards some unknown destination and in five or so hours, they'd be followed by the storm that was approaching in the horizon.

    The storm that almost felt like some sort of approaching time limit in many ways. Or perhaps the exact moment when things would really take a turn for the worse. Though this time...

    "Muu~?"

    At least the girl walking besides Hisa, tilting her head curiously, was already with them - and not wandering around the rain-beaten forest, soaked to the bone.

    Still, while the three of them were walking towards the dirt mounds, they did not manage to get far - not before a voice suddenly called out to them from behind.

    "Hey, Nancy! Catch!"

    Turning around, Hisa managed to see in time Mercedes step out from the station and expertly throw something flimsy and flat to her direction. Her hands easily snatched it out of the air, like a card thrower snatching the Ace of Spades, and held it between her fingers. To her surprise, she saw that she was holding what looked to be a somewhat old polaroid picture.

    Mercedes, on the other hand, smirked a little - her expression, however, betraying that she was just as confused about the picture as she was.

    "The old maniac said to, like, give it to you. Something about that even if you don't wanna talk to him, it'd still be of use to you or whatevah," the starlet explained, shrugging her shoulders. "Well, who even knows, right? Just one more shady guy to add to the list in this town."

    Having said that, the girl turned around and walked back inside, leaving Hisa alone with the picture.

    A picture that Hisa then, finally and properly, cast her eyes upon.
    And it revealed...


    A familiar face.

    Familiar cold stare, familiar stoic face, familiar scarlet hair.

    The only thing that was different was that her face...

    ... It was whole.

    Other than that, this woman was definitely a younger version of...!



    That woman.

    For a moment, Hisa's mind was cast on that night she met her the first time.

    Something in her memories lurched painfully, just like that time.

    Just what was this annoying feeling?

    And wait...

    Wasn't there something more on the picture itself? Something, written with permanent marker on the other side?

    Treeline Inn.

    2214 Sycamore Circle.

    She rents room 7.
    ... Now what did this mean?





    Liana Skye, Vier Wolff & Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast

    Fyrtio took in Liana's words with a slightly troubled expression.

    "Um, I think I'm fair bit older than either of you, actually..."

    Still, she didn't say anything else - aside from a slight pout - as the two girls descended into a talk regarding the events of last night and what had just happened at the garage. Upon hearing what had been found at the safe, and how Hawthorn had pocketed one of them items - and how some of his actions had started to seem somewhat questionable, Fyrtio's expression turned slowly into a thoughtful frown. It was almost like the one-eyed woman was trying her best to also think what was up with all those items, and why the vampire had left Liana in the dark about his plans.

    After all, when everything was put together, the light of hindsight and deduction started to cast some suspicious shadows...

    --- However, they did not get very far.

    Because at that very moment, a pair of hasty footfalls could be heard coming down the corridor, and before she even knew what was happening, Liana felt as a Sierra-sized battering ram hit her lower body and clung to it. Looking down, she saw the one-eyed kid with a terrified, pale look on her face. Meanwhile, her lips were quivering as the girl tried to spit out just what had caused this extreme reaction.

    "P-Papa's...! He's... he's...! J-Jayesh, he knew where...!" Sierra stammered while her feeble strength tried to push Liana through the doorway. "In the bunker... Papa's... the panic bunker...!"

    And not a second later, worried looking Cathie arrived as well, having been chasing after Sierra.

    "G-guys! I think... I think we found Sierra's dad," the auburn-haired girl said with a shocked voice. "Or, at the very least, Jayesh knows where he went last night! He hasn't even left the premises, apparently! Though, uh..."

    Cathie then turned to look over her shoulder where the last three of the group were catching up to the two that had run ahead. Jayesh, who looked rather confused. Kajal, who looked as monotone as ever... but a clear tinge of worry in her robotic gaze. And the target of her gaze, who wore an uncharacteristic scowl, like an anger rather unlke him had been coursing through his veins.

    That is, Colt Davin.

    "... We might have a bigger problem," Cathie continued, turning back to look at the rest of them. "Guys... does anyone know where that guy Hawthorn went?"

    She paused for a moment, clearly troubled.

    "Because we might need to question him about last night."

  19. #4319
    S U P R E M E Mormarth's Avatar
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    Elaine Winters
    Location: Pinefall High Main Building - Cafeteria
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast


    I inhaled slowly, then blew out air sharply, clapping myself on the cheeks.

    Focus.

    Don't get so bent out of shape you can't see straight.

    You know perfectly well if you let that bitterness out you'll drown in it without serious help.

    So bite your cheek and reign it in...

    "Heh," I chuckled without much mirth, "That obvious, huh? Well, let's see..."

    I began, loud enough for any interested ears at the other table.

    I figured since I was already overhearing them, may as well return the favor.

    One finger, "Oceandrop ditched me after that detention yesterday, more on that in a second, so after a merry little excursion out to the Overlook, I had to trudge my way all across town in the pourin' rain with no ride, looking for this tall glass of water over here."

    I jerked a thumb at Kean, flicking another finger up.

    "Get sneered at by some Mormon ghost in the old lighthouse, find out he's gotten himself jumped by some crotchity specter with a hate-on for Our Lady of Beverly Hills, Miss Faraday."

    Yet another finger.

    "Back out through the rain where I gotta have a weird chat with some weirdo from Asia, called himself, uh, Hsan Kra, I believe, called himself a weizza, who'd tossed little Subaru up a tree after what seemed to be a failure in communication, looking for someone who wasn't around."

    I twitched a shoulder in a shrug, "I told him they weren't around, not particularly wanting to sell anyone down the river, but not invested enough to outright lie. So with a little more chit-chat, he buzzed off. We got Subaru down, and I formed up a posse to go kill ghosts and save boys. One part splits off to go grab some stuff to help with the exorcism, the rest of us go to scope out the area, in case of weirdness."

    One more finger, with great emphasis.

    "Lotta weirdness, get jumped by some disguised bitch pretendin' to be Minato, along with some blonde bitch from Long Beach with a fake arm, bout roasted my ribs before I kicked her in the teeth a couple times, and Her Holiness bonked her over the head, so then she split, along with some giant scary thing that fucked off with her."

    I tilted my head, "About this time, the other gang showed up, probably helped with them deciding to get gone, quick bit of first aid, then the Shithead Ghost comes crawling out of the Lighthouse with a whole heap of dead shitheads for mooks."

    I straighten, my grousing tone sobering, "And, well, one of them looked to be Gabi, looks like something might of gotten him."

    I pause, feeling a muscle pulse in my jaw, "So, uh, after that, we beat our way through the rest of the ghouls, smack the Big Boss Ghost around a couple dozen times, spit him off into wherever pit he's going to, then shamble back home and drag this guy into bed because I'm not interested in him leaving my sight."

    I pause, inhaling through my nose, "So, y'know, was a great big to-do yesterday, lot of excitement 'n all."

    Then blinked, "Oh, right, and by ditched me, I mean like literally faded out of existence. Poof, gone. Even his car was gone, so I couldn't even jack it. Very inconvenient, I'll tell you."

  20. #4320
    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


    "...Silver bullets huh?"

    ---A certain stillness overtakes Liana's body at the end of Vier's explanations, her expression twisted into a thoughtful line as hands dig unconsciously into the cloth of her sleeves. There's a distinct lack of a smile on the young woman's face, like her attempt to rouse herself from a certain sort of darkness had suddenly proven nonviable, the deluge of circumstantial evidence becoming a seed of thought that can no longer be dismissed, pushed aside and ignored as simple circumstance.

    Yes.

    Poisonous thoughts intrude at the same time as a number of things click into place...

    "Only one real reason to keep those around, fits a certain theory of mine on the matter."

    She speaks in a simple manner.

    "Could have used that satellite phone though..."

    Without real emotion, silent processors spinning their silent song inside of her head; she's so deep in her thoughts that when Fio mentions her age she doesn't counter in the way she had been planning, no...

    "Um, I think I'm fair bit older than either of you, actually..."
    "Physical age isn't always relevant in these matters, my mother was the sort that required a bit of big sistering herself..."

    ...There's no vaguely flirty tone of voice, no wisecrack about how she was always going to look the same as she did right now so how could Fio be sure she was older than her, she just answers the remark absentmindedly, head tilted towards the earth and eyes lit up with the dim light of intense thoughts, until-

    "...!"

    Quote Originally Posted by Sierra
    "P-Papa's...! He's... he's...! J-Jayesh, he knew where...!" Sierra stammered while her feeble strength tried to push Liana through the doorway. "In the bunker... Papa's... the panic bunker...!"
    -Sierra slams into her waist, desperately clinging to her body in that way that frightened children do, face pale and horrified, trembling and broken; it's half-clinging and half pushing, an attempt to get through the doorway while also letting her know what's going on, and in response to that...

    "The panic bunker?"

    Hands come to rest on the smaller girl's shoulders in a calming manner, Liana allowing herself to be the target of this half-hug without a second thought; of course, she's not sure how much of this is a form of security cling and how much is an attempt to push her through the door so she could get to her father, but either way...

    In her experience, human children find hugs comforting, it lowers stress levels across the board if done correctly.

    "I see... By the statue..."

    She seems to come to a sort of conclusion about this panic bunker (and it's location) entirely on her own, as if this last bit of information was all that she needed for something inside of her brain to finally click into it's proper place.

    "Okay. We'll go see him in just a moment. But I need you to not run off on your own, okay?"

    ---Her voice is warm but firm, as are her eyes, gentle but lit up with a sort of newfound clarity.

    "Stay right behind me when we go, things should be fine, but if I'm right... Well, better to be safe than sorry."

    Her gaze flickers to Cathie -who asks about Thorne- to Colt -who seems uncharacteristically angry- before returning to the red-haired girl, her own characteristic smile strained now that all of the stress is coming sprinting back to her mere minutes after she had decided to try leaving all of this behind, even if only for a few minutes.

    But it's impossible.

    "...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..."

    The smile fades from her face, mouth becoming a troubled line as her body continues to gently hold the child pushing at her waist.

    "But some things are clear enough... 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..."

    Her gaze flickers to Jayesh now.

    "...And now a panic bunker by the statue. Interesting combination of things, right?"

    Should have guessed it was something like that... A panic bunker...

    After looking to see if anything clicks for Jayesh, her eyes move to Colt and...

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

    She closes her eyes.

    "Just need the summary, I don't wanna make Sierra wait any longer than I have to."

    Thorne...

    What are you doing...?
    Last edited by Airen; December 3rd, 2021 at 10:42 PM.
    Spoiler:
    Death is nothing but a disease.
    But it is one that often comes from all sides.
    An end like that is coming, and yet here you are.

    Tell me.

    Could you kill someone you love for the sake of everyone else?


    What a cynical worldview, Messiah.
    Real heroes would find a different answer.


    Right, right.
    The power to break through a sad reality—
    I wonder—

    Will they be able to show it to me?



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