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Thread: Astronomika - Shooting Down Falling Stars (IC)

  1. #4361
    el bolb Bloble's Avatar
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    Prushka?
    Location: St. Diane Cemetery
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994 (SAT)
    Weather: Overcast

    "Ooooooooh, cleromancy using the I Ching. And yarrow stalks, I see, I see! You're pretty good, Alpa!"

    Well, no, I don't get it at all. But that's magic for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahti
    "Hey, Imp!"
    "Hm? What's up? N-no, I wasn't slacking off or anything! I'll be right there."

    Beside the grave Ahti is standing stock-still. His ears and nose twitch like a cat's, and for a moment he has this serene but deadly grace about him.

    He beckons me closer. My heart skips a beat.

    He kneels down and whispers to me...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ahti
    "... I think someone's coming. I can smell a human approaching this place. Old cologne. Probably a man. If that bundle of nerves there is doing her thing, can you go distract whoever it is? I'll fill up this grave in the meantime as fast as I can and grab her with me afterwards - move us over to the forest side. I mean, we could make a run for it now too, but..."
    "A-ah. R-right."

    Nod, nod. Of course. He smelled someone coming is all. That nose of his sure is useful, huh?

    "I'll get you as much time as you need," I whisper back. "It's probably just one of the old folks from town. If it turns out to be something scarier... well, just listen for my barking."

    Maybe we should just leave Nevada's grave filled. It's not like there's any sanctity to respect here, and getting in trouble for digging up an empty grave is not the sort of trouble I'm worried about. But the newcomer could be another clue. Or the danger the old lady warned me about. Either way, between Ahti and Alpa, I'm the most normal-looking person here. If anyone's gonna talk to humans, it should be me.

    With a smile, a nod, and a pat on the shoulder, I step back from Ahti.

    "Hey, Alpa! I'm gonna do a loop around, see if anyone's shown up. Keep Scrooge safe while I'm out, okay?"

    The dragon unfolds. I step onto it and rev the engine.

    Grrr...

    Alright, let's have a look-see. If I get there quick enough, maybe I could hide behind a grave and get the drop on our visitor...
    Last edited by Bloble; January 16th, 2022 at 09:01 PM.

  2. #4362
    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

    Hawthorne knew or thought he would’ve been tracked down. The tracks that the vampire left behind were someone who actively trained to avoid tails. The tracks left behind were purposefully misleading to obfuscate movements like soldiers. Yet the pace was closer to a dedicated forester and hunter… Also the lack of noticeable Turnside elements made me come to one conclusion. Hawthorne at some point in time received special forces training. Combined with what I knew about him, it made me more wary. We were likely to be using similar tactics and techniques. The worst part was that he was going to have the initial violence of action.

    However, if that’s the case then why is heading towards Road’s End? If he was trying to ambush or get away from us, then he should be leading us further into the mountains. Heading back into Road’s End, limited both of our options to deal damage and our ability to disappear. The only thing I could assume at this time was that he was trying to reach a boat. But if that was his objective… He could’ve made a clean getaway by using one of the several vehicles after I left him. By the time we would’ve realized his treachery, he would’ve hit his primary extraction vehicle.

    Reassess. Assume that he wasn’t trying to eliminate or get away. Actions only occurred after acquisition of black folder. Asset drop-off to a third party? Stealthy approach to assure that the third party wasn’t traced or they could trace him back to his location as well? Optimistic. Still doesn’t mean Hawthorne is betraying the country club when we take the current information into account. My hypothesis on why ground to a halt once a certain smell hit my nose.

    The smell of iron, but not the worked metal. It was the smell of hemoglobin in the air. I took a quick look at the tracks, my current location, then the direction of the smell. I made a snap decision without consulting Colt Davin. I stepped off of Hawthorne’s created path to melt into the forest and flank around the source of hemoglobin.

  3. #4363
    地獄待ち Spinach's Avatar
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    Colt Davin
    Location: Spade Queen Country Club - Garage
    Phase: Morning Phase
    Date: 10.09.1994
    Weather: Overcast


    The trail wasn’t easy to follow. Colt wasn’t a bred and trained outdoorsman, avoiding false tracks, identifying broken foliage which indicated recent passage, spotting parts in the branches where someone had pushed them aside… Aside from the obvious prints of boots in the mud, he missed it all. Vier had a greater handle on it all, and he followed her lead. Whenever he nearly took the bait, she calmly, wordlessly kept going in what Colt trusted to be the right direction.

    Really a world apart…

    The boy kept his thoughts to himself. Any excess talk now would just get him hushed with scorn. Colt focused his mind on keeping up, making as little noise as possible, and being ready for anything.

    A small breeze, still cool from the rains, carried a smell to his nose. It wasn’t that comforting petrichor which came after a long thunderstorm, nor was it the damp, muddy dirt’s earthy smell. It was metallic. A smell he now associated with chlorine and pain.

    Blood.

    Colt turned to look at Vier, seeking a sign as to how to proceed…

    But saw nothing. Somewhere around him he heard the faintest of rustles, which he assumed to be Vier moving into position for whatever she was anticipating.

    In that case, there was nothing left to say between the two. They had discussed the plan already, so Colt turned back to face the direction that the smell came floating in from.

    The disposable decoy goes in from the front. That was the plan, after all.

    He took a laborious step forward.

    So easily said, not so easily done. It was one thing to put on the act when he was already in the jaws of the beast, it was another to walk into the lion’s den.

    Colt grit his teeth, and forced himself to take another step forward, then another. Soon his pace was back to normal, and he shut his mind off from the what-ifs that might give him pause. He said he would do it. So he would do it.

    At this point, all that’s left for him is to move forward.


  4. #4364
    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 the next lull in the discussion, John groans and leans back against his seat. Yup, that’s headache right there. He cannot keep up. He just can’t. There’re too many lines of thought, seemingly without apparent connection. Too much information, and even more gaps between them. His utterly mundane human brain can’t process everything.

    John already knew this, but he is yet again reminded that the young men and women around him exist in a different realm. They can keep up, while he is already feeling dazed and tired. On the previous loop, he would have just push down this discomfort and ground it to metaphorical dust, but that just does not seem to be an option anymore, right? If he wants to change, he cannot stick to the same old, convenient escape routes.

    He is a mere fool, so he must wade in the mud just like the other fools.

    Only opening his eyes to grasp for his morning juice, he gulps it down without pause.

    Whether I can handle this or not is irrelevant. I must.

    If it is so difficult, then every single minute is a test of his conviction.

    Opening his eyes again, they rest on the “gift” from Anna still on the table. Another burden. Well, at least it’s not a gun (a thought he will wisely keep from voicing in front of Ramia).

    Burden, huh…

    While Elaine shares additional thoughts, John reaches into his pocket for the object that, for so many years granted hope and succor.

    Now you, too, are a burden.

    Yet, he cannot stop himself from smiling at the thought. No matter what, the baleful piece of headwear remains precious to him. A burden gladly born. Of course, there is the fact that it reminded him of Her, and that it apparently indeed came from Her, but such things are secondary by this point. Ishtar Irkalla—no, the trinket—is the symbol of the John Dove who made it this far. It represents ten years of vagaries and wandering and foolishness. Ten years of a void filled entirely by moonlight. Ten years of fruitless longing and detachment from the world around him. Also, ten years of direction, of discipline and mental fortitude, even if built on an uncanny foundation.

    For the same reason the fool keeps pushing forward, that same fool will never decry the greater fool he has been to this point.

    Not a burden. My burden, his mind declares with a fool’s pride as he slowly, carefully, wraps the artifact around his left hand. From now on, if Ramia or anybody else wants it, they will have to chop his hand off.

    The comfortable weight of his burden crushes all other pressure in his mind. With clear, renewed conviction, the fool pulls himself out of his thoughts and starts wading in the mud once again.

    “Thank you, Vandemeel,” he says curtly, finally accepting the box. Half-opening it, he regards the white, crescent-shaped dagger with only a modicum of interest, sparing only a glance to the unclear inscription on its surface. Weapons are just not his thing.

    “…white. Albion. Right, the name is believed to refer to the Cliffs of Dover.”

    For now, he keeps it in the box. This is not the time nor the place to decide on how best to carry it.

    “Now, we seem to have an entire list of issues to address.” And there’s no choice but to go over them one by one.

    “On the matter of Ultra, while it would certainly be comforting to have a solution to her should she become our enemy, I agree her presence is a secondary matter. She proposed I find the seven pages of her diary, I guess as some sort of test of my well-meaning. I already found one, and I know the location of a second one, so I hope to have at least some leverage should I meet her again in less favorable circumstances. I will keep you informed on the matter, but I also request your cooperation should you happen to come into possession of such diary pages.”

    That should be enough on Ultra, if only for now. Of course, he remains curious. If she is really an eidos incarnate, established as a principle, or a rule, of this world by the act of manifesting into reality, then what is this specific principle she embodies, and for what reason? That is, beyond proving the validity of Crowley’s Thelema, which seems a perfectly valid motivation for the ever-self-centered Master Therion. The final purpose of the Babalon Working is, as its name says, to manifest an incarnation of Babalon, the Thelemic archetypal divine feminine. However, what does that achieve? What do we want Babalon incarnate for?

    To “fix” the world, if we’re to take Parsons’s Liber 49 at face value.

    “On the matter of Aleen King, while it is obvious to anybody who interacts with her for any length of time that she is hiding her connection to the McLampets and to this town, she would have to be a prodigious actress to conceal any malice she could harbor towards us. This may be solely my opinion, but I do not deem her a threat or an enemy to any of us. For some time, I thought she might be the daughter of Elias McLampet: the family heiress too young to take the reins when her father disappeared, and who nobody has seen in forever. However, the fact she came with us on the bus implies she lived outside of Road’s End before coming here. Assuming she was taken out of this town at some point in the past, why pick now of all times to come back? She’s not yet of age, so she wouldn’t be here to ‘reclaim her heritage’. Furthermore, why come through the Pinefall program? If she were really the heiress, she would have plenty of means to prove it; no need for an indirect means to make her way to this town.”

    He shakes his head.

    “Nah, I believe her connection is of a different nature. Perhaps she is an illegitimate daughter of Elias or another of the siblings, or perhaps there are other McLampets outside of Road’s End that we don’t know of, and she comes from one of those branches. Only one way to know, I guess.”

    After speaking to everybody and nobody for a while, he centers his gaze on Anna Vandemeel.

    “As for the Mitchells, I unfortunately have nothing to add. I’ve only exchanged a few lines with Zane Mitchell; seemed a decent enough person. Although, now that I remember, I did once see him in the company of another man, one of south Asian features, whom I strongly suspect may be of the Turnside. The man had apparently fended off a pack of ‘wild dogs’, as he called them, and Zane was applying first aid.”

    He shrugs, not really having anything else to add.

    “With that said, it seems we have to devote special attention to the information Elaine received from Mr. Oceandrop.”

    Focus on what makes sense for now. Focus on what you can work with.

    “Firstly, there’s the matter of the number of students. When we first arrived at Pinefall, Mr. Oceandrop declared he had gathered 29 students. I assumed that was the intended number of people, until the Coastrises showed up. Then I heard from Mr. Lewis that the actual number was 32—that is, the 29 in the bus plus the Coastrises. Going by the words of Mr. Oceandrop as received by Elaine, however…”

    John closes his eyes, trying the reconstruct the scene of the bus trip.

    “The right side of the bus was completely full. All the empty seats were on the left side. Sakura…did not have a partner. I remember this the most clearly, because she was just to the left of Elise Marie and myself. Then, there were Elizaveta Vyraj on the seat right in front of her—Xylia Pheme, in the case of most of you, I guess. Elizaveta…Souma, and Mercedes West. Those three were too attention-grabbing; of course I took note of them, and they were all partnerless.”

    He pauses. The rest of the bus gets a lot fuzzier, but…

    “There was another guy with an empty seat,” he finally recalls, glancing towards Hwan Bin. “Was it you? Or perhaps it was Travis; I forgot.”

    He nods to himself.

    “Five empty seats, not counting the one next to Ms. Leuzinger. Three for the Coastrises, one for…the one Elaine called an ‘odd student’, and one remaining.”

    He nods.

    “This matches the list of DDS…patients, that I found in the hospital last night. The ‘odd student’ would be one ‘Alpa Bagha’, with whom I am already acquainted. Unfortunately, the sole remaining name was unreadable; the screen would not display it properly for whatever reason. However, I can tell you two things.”

    John raises his index finger.

    “The list was in alphabetical order, and the name was lodged between ‘King, Aleen’ and ‘Leijonamieli, Pyry’.”

    Then the middle finger.

    “Secondly, based on the length of the unreadable character chain, he or she has a four-letter surname and a seven-letter first name.”

    He is about to bring his hand back down when he remembers a third point, for his ring finger.

    “Actually, I believe we should consider the possibility that our missing classmate may in fact be Ultravania. Food for thought. Moving on.”

    With that, John brings his hand to rest back on the table.

    “…’there is a key in Amber House’. Those are the words I heard in my…strange vision. Based on what I’ve now learned, tis ‘Amber House’ would be either the Mitchell residence or the lighthouse; the reference to the ‘House of Amber Light’ in the statue strongly points towards the latter. Perhaps there is something to the light atop that would be revealed with a proper examination. I also have an interest in examining the Unknown Pioneer. Its location and what I’ve heard about it from Souma makes me think there might be another hint there. The nearby Klallam totem…totems? They might also be worthy of examination.”

    Anna’s comments on the statue further stimulate his thoughts.

    “Break away from within that Eye, escape from the umbra sea…the light looks in the direction of the sea, so both lines could be interpreted to mean ‘look away from the sea’.” He nods to himself. “I think there is worth in examining the lighthouse’s lamp. Maybe something will be revealed by looking inland from there. Alternatively, the first line could even be interpreted to mean there is something important inside the lamp. Furthermore…Souma told me the statue holds a sextant. What if any of either the statue, the poem, or the lighthouse are hints towards a specific location?”

    Again, he shrugs.

    “To be fair, there’s a whole lot of places still in need of investigation, such as the locked upper levels of the main building and the blocked sections of the dorms. Their blockade is likely connected to the tragedies that happened in the past of this school. I’ve heard rumors of unknown people skulking around in the outbuilding; might also be worth checking it out.”

    John makes sure to roam the entire table with his gaze as he speaks, looking at each and every single one of the boys and girls present.

    “And yes, Elaine is right in checking the local libraries; the locals are probably reluctant to part with their secrets, and I certainly do not have the social graces to convince them to do so.”

    John follows this with a sigh. He just got through the easy part.

    “That leaves the matter of Mr. Oceandrop’s disappearance itself. Why he is so limited of action unlike everybody else, and what keeps him from being a more active…well, actor on this stage. I think I would rather leave that to more enlightened minds, but…”

    It’s not as if he has that luxury, does he? He is stuck in this mire with the Turnside people. Anna’s insights on Loinnir’s testimony prove helpful to put aside that topic for which he absolutely has no input. Unfortunately, he cannot think of any esoteric, philosophical, or theological association to the word elision.

    “Well, either he loops and remembers the loops enough to characterize all possible courses of events to determine the exact combination that would get him what he wanted, or he was so transcendentally brilliant that he figured how to include complete strangers like Elaine and Loinnir in his plan on the fly, or somebody fed him the information he needed to do precisely that.”

    While clumsily twirling his fork, John glances at the light-haired young man with new trappings, and from him to Elaine and then Anna and Ramia.

    “Regardless, yours and Elaine’s description brings me back to our discussion in the car about crafting an isolated system. Perhaps the better word would be a ‘process’. Someone, probably multiple someones, have set up a process in this isolated town, and Pinefall High School is part of it, with or without Mr. Oceandrop’s knowledge or approval.” He pauses. “No, it’s more likely that people cooperated to set this up, all the while aiming for different ends. The school may sincerely be aiming for ‘rehabilitating’ us, but the hospital and Gottlieb Pharma are definitely aiming for something else, and who knows what the US military gets out of this. Furthermore, there must have been some support from within the town, to allow…or perhaps encourage the establishment of this school here of all places. To bring us here.”

    Yet another sigh.

    “I do not know if Lowgate was tapping into this ‘process’, or took what already existed and was setting up a ‘process’ of his own. I don’t know how much intellect a wandering spirit retains after death.”

    He turns to Elaine.

    “If the overlook itself is somehow important, well…Bakhauv appeared to frequent it for his celestial observations. Perhaps he found his end there, and that was the trigger. Or perhaps he saw something in the overlook that he wasn’t supposed to see. Or in the sky. We don’t know anything about the process, so it is hard to tell what it is that disrupts it.”

    Placing the fork back on the table along with his elbow, he rests his forehead on his hand.

    “As to the final purpose of this ‘process’, well, your guess is as good as mine. Perhaps somebody’s attempting to summon a named demon; I think I've heard something about that. Perhaps the murderer using the moniker ‘The Disembodied Man’ aims to turn that local legend into a named demon through the sufficient accumulation of infamy and hatred. Perhaps somebody is aiming for the materialization of that other local rumor; the woman with an eyepatch who only exists inside people’s dreams. Perhaps somebody wants to break one of them laws of magic. Perhaps this whole thing was a lure to trap Ultra, and breaking her will is the target. Perhaps somebody wants to weaponize DDS. Perhaps somebody’s trying to resurrect that blue-haired, red-eyed monster from the town’s past. Perhaps somebody’s sequestering time in a loop to prevent the terrible future that will otherwise come to pass.”

    For the last time, he shrugs.

    “Or it could be something a lot more mundane. Like I said, I believe different instigators have different intentions for this little cage in the middle of nowhere.”

  5. #4365
    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

    I frowned, pursing my lips as I tapped the side of my cheek, biting the inside of my lip. I thought hard on it for several seconds, examining the possibilities Souma proposed. He was utterly correct, and his detective senses were clearly at least... slightly superior to my own. Hellfires, hellfires. Dearest Potemkin, how do we prove our endless superiority at detectivecraft? Should we perhaps don some sort of hat?

    "Hm..."

    A faint hint of a familiar smell brushed past my nose, and my eyes flicked to catch mana in the form of an old and familiar friend. Copycat performances are endearing, even if they appear to be so dissimilar from my own.

    "Enough of this deductive reasoning, and theorycrafting, Souma! Did you not see what I have seen, with my suspicious eyes?!"

    I flung my hand forward, pointing accusatorily at where the tiny spider was previously in the corridor.

    "Quick! Let us follow these mysterious figures, instead of you attempting to needle me about my lackluster deduction skills!"
    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.


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