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Re-probus: A Story of Ferals.
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Wessolf27
 Re-probus: A Story of Ferals.
Post: #1
 

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Posts: 15
Joined: May 2016
--------------
Hello! After a long time of half-starts and uncertainty, I've decided to just start publishing my story here (and also on the Omegaupdate Forums) I'll be posting them chapter by chapter, though there isn't going to be a set schedule for when the next chapter is going to fall. Feedback, questions, critiques, comments, suggestions, and other things are very welcome! Drop a PM if you wish as well!

Note: The story may deal with some trauma, (mild) body horror, and gore. Please exercise caution when reading and take a break if things become too much.

=======

Re-probus

Prologue: The Junkyard Dog

The sunset streaked sky bloomed above the the haphazard corners of the scrapyard. Two children--a boy and a girl--were running from the rabid, crystal-encrusted beast that roared like no other animal they've heard before. They skipped above the rust-caked barrels and glistening oil spills that covered the land in the scent of metal. The boy tripped on a stray pipe, and the girl pulled him back up just as the diamond dog-man snapped its jaws a mere centimeters from his shirt. The girl then drew a rocket-shaped toy gun and shot the beast with pegs, distracting it enough for the boy to roll a barrel towards it. With the monster clawing desperately to get the barrel off itself, the two kids ran into the maze of tire towers and scrapped engines.

They found the old truck they have been using as a makeshift spacecraft and hid inside it. The stench of moldy cushions and the sharp springs that stuck out made them realize how uncomfortable the truck was. And when their exhaustion and hurt finally caught up with them, and the boy began to cry. "I wanna go home! I don't want to be here anymore!"

The girl, barely a year older than the boy, tried to shush him, but only made him cry harder. "Keith! Oh no, please don't be so loud. The Feral might find us!" She tried singing the song of their favorite cartoon, "Stacey Queen: Galactic Explorer" because she remembered how it cheered her up whenever she was about to cry.

"Who's that zipping through the atmosphere?
Oh, oh-oh! Stacey Queen!
Who's gonna save us from the Dr. Machine?
Oh, oh-oh! Stacey Queen!
With her trusty crew of friends they're gonna kick alien tail,
And swim through the nebula, meet some comet whales!

Oh, Stacey Queen! Oh-oh Stacey Queen!
She flies on a rocket 'cross the galaxy!
Oh, Stacey Queen! Oh-oh Stacey Queen!
She fights evil baddies and she saves the day!

When the going gets tough, she never falters
She's never gonna fail, 'cause she knows she'll prevail!"

She sang it as long and as much as she could. She did the motions and encouraged the boy to sing with her. They sang until there were no more tears needed to be shed, and they began to talk about the show, and all the capers of their favorite cartoon adventurer.

"Remember that episode where Stacey had to hide from the Quartians that wanted to capture her? We should keep quiet, okay Keith?"

Keith nodded as he tried to stop hiccuping from his tears. They could still hear the monster's yelps and protests from all the way there, and it only stopped as the first stars began to show in the evening sky.

"Hey June, do you think it's okay to go out now? I can't hear the monster anymore."

June held a finger to her mouth, and Keith clapped his hands on his mouth. When he realized he made a sound, he jumped and tried to stay as still as possible. June gave him a comforting pat on the shoulder before motioning him to stay in the truck while she looked around.

Keith got up the old cushion and pressed his face against the front window, watching for June as she slipped behind the tires. He stood like that till his back grew sore and his heart jumping for him to run after her. So he did.

His mind ran in tandem with him, telling him how June might have gotten attacked by the monstrous Feral, or how the Feral might sneak up and pounce on her. He ran--left, right, left, and left again, until he didn't know where he was any longer. He cried out for June as loud as he could. But he couldn't hear her if she did. His heart was beating faster and faster, and his thoughts wouldn't stop. He pressed his palms to his ears, and he crumpled to the floor and began to cry again.

There was a sudden crash so loud that it made Keith jump up. "June!" he cried, and ran to the direction of the noise.

But rather than find her, he stood face to face with the same ghastly Feral. He tried to run back, but the Feral spotted him. Its eyes shone with wicked malice as the air suddenly grew cold and he found his feet encased in ice along with the ground.

The cold bit at his feet as he tried to pull them out with little success, the Feral moved with arms limply swaying, and its growls began to sound like a voice. "You shouldn't have done that, you know... you shouldn't have been here in the first place."

Keith fell down to the floor, and the Feral jumped at him. He closed his eyes when he heard a yelp and a sick crunch. He saw the Feral collapse on the floor and from the other side, he found June, who had grabbed a pipe and started chipping away at the ice. Keith reached for a rock and started doing the same, until he was freed. June reached for his hand, and he got up. "Didn't I tell you to stay in the truck?" she chided.

"I was scared! You took so long I thought the Feral got you!"
"So you let the Feral get to you instead."

Keith bowed his head, "I-I'm really sorry!" He felt his breath hitch up again, and tears roll down his cheeks. "I-I know I'm always causing you trouble. But I didn't want to see you go away. I was so scared of being alone, that I-I--"

"Keith, watch out!"

June pushed him to the side, before she was pinned to the floor by the Feral, the right side of its face leaking blood that fell to the floor like beads of glass. June struggled to pull the paw off her body, but the Feral slammed its foot down her chest, knocking the wind out of her. The Feral leaned closer with teeth bared. And a second later, June's arm was being torn off from her elbow. But before it could be completely torn away, the Feral was interrupted by another rock that hit it square in the eye.

Keith felt a surge of adrenaline as he realized what he had done. The Feral roared and flailed as it began to mutate and change, crystals sprung from its skin, and the Feral yowled with greater pain, but its remaining eye was focused only at him. It charged at him. Keith grabbed June's pipe, and there was a squelch.

The sharp pipe had pierced straight through the Feral's heart, but at the same time, Keith felt a set of teeth pierce at his left shoulder. He felt them slowly give way as the Feral struggled to stay up. He remembered its accusing eye as it rasped one last word from its jaws.

"...Why?"

Keith's head was pounding, he couldn't keep himself steady as the world around him began to swirl. His feet gave way and he was falling into a jet black darkness.

Re-probus: A story of Ferals
(This post was last modified: 06-28-2017 11:37 AM by Wessolf27.)
06-25-2017 04:03 PM
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Wessolf27
 RE: Reprobus: A Story of Ferals.
Post: #2
 

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Joined: May 2016
Chapter 1: Fugitives

Keith thrashed as he clawed his way back to consciousness from the murky pit of his sleep, taking a huge gulp of air as he woke up. He laid there, staring at the long riveted line on the ceiling that joined the two windows of the small truck. Outside, the wheels bumped and jumped on the pebble-strewn road, and he didn't have the mind to try and think further about it. He sat up and grabbed his chest as a bolt of pain arced across it. He paused, and felt the thick gauze that sharply contrasted the softness of his fur, and looked down to see that white band.

He held his head, much too groggy to want to remember what had caused it. Reliving that nightmare of seven years past was already a headache. He grabbed the bag on the side of his bed and rummaged for a small syringe pen and a clear vial of liquid--Probus, it said on the label. He opened the vial and screwed it onto the pen, and after finding the vein and changing the needles, he injected it right on his thigh, fully waking him up. He always hated doing that. But either that, or risk losing your sanity.

He stretched his arms and let a yawn escape his mouth and grabbed a change of clothes from his bag when he found a soft package covered in parchment paper and bound up in twine. Beneath the twine was a birthday card... with a dog on the cover. Keith rolled his eyes and opened the card, where a small video recording started to play.

"Hello Keith, happy birthday!" his mother said through the screen. "How've you been doing in the Sanatorium? Did you make any friends there? I..." Mom sighed. "I hope they're treating you alright over there.

"Things have been busy here ever since the attack on the exhibit, and the bistro's been getting a lot of customers. Most of them asking about you. And"--she paused, and held her fingers tight--"No, never mind that, we'll talk about it when we have the chance to visit."

"Oh, speaking of--your Dad got this present for you this birthday. I know it's not often that he comes by, but when he heard about what happened, he immediately came to find you. It's the HANSA space jacket you really wanted when you were young. It's got that hi-tech fabric that's supposed to be heatproof, and it's got the logo too! See?" She brought it out and pointed at the jacket's breast where a circular star-speckled logo was emblazoned. "It's one of the jackets the astronauts of Tala 5 wore. I think it was Sherwin Legaspi? Well, anyway. Happy birthday again! And, when you see Sam, please understand where he's coming from. Goodbye now."

The video gave way to a cheesy birthday song played so loud he snapped the screen when he closed it. He opened it again and winced when he realized he had broken it. "So much for watching it again..."

He peeked through the curtains to see if he hadn't bothered anyone before untying the twine, and carefully unwrapped the present in front of him. And sure as the video said, it was the same green and silver jacket he asked for. He took the moment to try it on and check himself out before realizing that it might be better to wear the rest of his clothes before going out wearing this.

After avoiding a potential embarrassing encounter, Keith climbed down the ladder and made his way to the small dining area where a couple others were already eating breakfast. "Oh hey, look who's finally up!" the dog Feral with the speckled dirt-yellow fur said in a much too familiar voice; wagging his tail as he made his way over. "Looking real spiffy there, Keith."

Keith took a step back from the dog before his cynophobia had a chance to kick in. It took another moment before he recognized why the dog's scent was so familiar--it was his little brother. "Wait, Sam, is that you?"

"Yep! How'd you like the brand new me?" said Sam, spreading his arms and turning around. "I look pretty good as a Feral, right?"
Keith shrugged. "I guess so? But--"

"I'd say he looks like he got caught in the middle of a paintball skirmish," said the badger-girl that was examining the back of a cereal box before placing it as far away from her as possible. "Geez, the stuff they put in these things are atrocious."

Sam crossed his arms and turned away from her. "Oh come on, June! Did you really have to be so rude?"

June placed both hands behind her head, her right arm however, was replaced with a prosthetic limb. "I just call 'em what I see 'em. Sorry if it wasn't what you thought it'd be."

"And how about it if I just looked like this the whole trip?" Sam waved his hands in front of his face, and the speckled-dog gave way to Sam's old human face. "That any better for you?"

"Woah, wait up," Keith grabbed his brother's arm. "What are you doing!?"

"Light magic, duh! You've been stuck in the Sanatorium for the magically-enhanced, and you didn't know that Light magic uses illusions?" Sam turned his head to the side, and sure enough Keith could still see the outline of his brother's snout beneath the illusion, which itself looked as stretched out as an ill-fitting texture on the wrong wire frame model. Keith pointed it out. "Well... it still looks odd," Sam admitted. "Still gotta work on the kinks, you know? It might be better if we pull our hoods up first if we use this magic. Oh, and tuck our tails too."

Sam waved his hands a second time, and now he's back to being a scrappy looking dog. "So is it awesome, or is it AWESOME?"

"Yeah... no." Keith said, flatly. "That was dangerous, Sam. Magic is dangerous! Use it too much and there's a real chance that you're gonna end up losing your mind and turning into a Wasteland!"

"A Wasteland?"

"They're Ferals that have completely lost their minds and bodies, turning into nothing but walking disasters," June replied. "You know those reports on the news where some Feral supposedly just turned into some kind of crazy-looking monster with a lot of crystals sticking out of its body and leveling an entire city block with nothing but super-powered magic? Those are Wastelands.

"That Feral in the junkyard? They found that the guy was almost on the course of turning into a Wasteland. So, if Keith didn't stop him, Westfair could've been toast."

Keith was dumbfounded. "Wait, seriously?"

"Yep, but it all worked out mostly fine, didn't it? At least we're all still alive."
"So that means, Keith's a hero?" Sam said.
"I am not a hero," Keith said, rubbing the corners of his eyes. "Look, Sam, please tell me that you took a Probus shot before using magic."

"Don't worry, I already did." Sam waved his hands idly. "Did it really have to be on the thighs though? They hurt like heck."

"That only happens because you didn't inject it properly." Keith said. "I'll teach you how tomorrow. Anyway, could someone pass that cereal over? I'm famished."

"Here you go," June said. "I'll just head over to the bunkers to check up on Lance."

"Oh, how's he doing?"
"Still knocked out cold. Those crystals on his back should start to fade by now though, so I'm hoping he'll be fine once he wakes up. I'm actually surprised that you had that kind of magic in you."

Keith recalled how he was able to make some kind of barrier that sent the larger Lance flying into a tree and knocking him out cold. He couldn't stop apologizing for what happened there. "You know I didn't mean to do that."

June patted Keith on the head, much to his annoyance. "Everyone knows, Keith. You don't have to worry about it."

Keith took a bite of the cereal and immediately came to regret how ridiculously sweet it was. "Yeah, I know... it doesn't make me feel any better though."

"That's probably just the sugar making you feel all that guilt," June said. "Anyways, just holler if you need anything. When that guy sleeps, there's no waking him."

So Keith sat on the table with a half-eaten bowl of lukewarm, soggy cereal partly listening to the songs on the radio, partly watching the scenery of hills and plains give way to a winding forest road. Trees huddled close and tight above the walls of dirt that stood on each side of the road, giving the impression of a tall corridor. Large menhirs carved with serpentine designs dotted the natural alcove, a relic of an old civilization. "Hey Sam, do you know where we're supposed to be going?"

Sam shrugged, his eyes fixated on the game he's playing. "I'unno. I think we're supposed to meet with Auntie Jillian. Or at least Mom told Roddy that we're supposed to go to her place."

Keith had a picture of a slender woman with thick glasses that smelled of sea-scented candles and wheat grass. "Oh, so we're gonna be staying with her till things settle down?"

"I guess so."

As if on cue, the cheery pop music gave way to the trumpets and fanfare of the hourly news. "Now on today's headlines, the country is on high alert today as a group of rogue Ferals had escaped the Rifu City Sanatorium with the help of infiltrators." The radio blared. Keith increased the volume to better listen. "Today, Sanatorium Director, Dr. Fredrick Aster said that they are working in close cooperation with experts from the Laelaps International Peacekeeping Corps to capture and contain these threats before they lose control. It is still unknown if the Terrorist group Alopex was involved in this latest incident."

Sam peeked up from his GoGame Player, ears tall. "Wow, look at that, we're on the news."

"...And that's a good thing?" Keith had gotten up and took his bowl towards the sink. "You do realize that every law enforcement agency is out on a manhunt looking for us."

Sam's ears quickly drooped. "Oh, right."

Keith rolled his eyes as the reporter continued. "Witnesses report that the suspects rode a large white RV with the plate number HRW 585. Authorities are now searching for them as we speak. If anyone has seen the truck, please don't forget to call our hotline and we'll keep track of the progress."

Keith almost dropped the bowl into the sink. "Wait, they know our plate number!?"

"Woah, chill. We're taking a side road to get to Lafta... I think. But nobody takes this road anymore ever since the highway got built."
"And if the police are gonna be waiting for us around the corner?"
"We'll find a way. We've managed to get you out of a heavily guarded Sanatorium, I think we'll manage just the same. Besides, the truck's been covered with an illusion too. So there's no way they'll find us."

Keith crossed his arms. "I wouldn't be so sure about that. They're probably gonna have checks on every road if they're competent enough."

Sam folded his GoGame Player and sneered. "Yeesh Keith, since when did you get to be such a worrywart all the time?"

"Sam, these are our lives on the line! Would it kill you to stop being so careless right now?"
"So what? We're not the ones driving this truck. Roddy is, so if you've got a problem talk to him!"
"That's not the point here, could you just take a moment to--"

"Guys, stop it!" June said, standing between them. "You two are acting like a couple of animals right now, so chill!"

"Hey, he's the one getting antsy about all this."

"Keith's got a good reason to be worried, and it doesn't hurt to be a little more cautious." She turned to Keith. "At the same time, you shouldn't stress yourself over something we really don't have control over. And you should have already known what might have happened if we stayed in that Sanatorium."

The brothers looked at each other for a long moment, then the eye-to-eye became an intense staring contest, they started to close the distance between them wearing such intense expressions that June was ready to split them apart if things got ugly. But then Keith suddenly stuck his tongue out, and Sam couldn't stop laughing. "Oh gods, what the heck?"

"Got you!" Keith replied.

June tried to find the words, but eventually settled with: "What... the heck is going on here?"

Keith scrubbed the back of his neck. "Ah, it's just something we do to lighten the mood."

"We try to see who can make the other laugh first." Sam added, pausing to catch his breath. He slapped Keith's shoulder. "Hey, uh... I'm sorry for not being a bit more considerate. I mean, I guess I did let it get to me." Sam paused. "You know, when Mom brought you back from the hospital, I thought she brought home a new puppy to play with. When it turned out to be you, I didn't really care. You were my brother, furry or not. So when I got turned into a Feral, I just thought how awesome it was that I get to be like you."

Keith felt his ears grow hot. "W-wait you want to be--"

Everyone was jostled off-balance as the truck shook and sped up. The faint sounds of police sirens immediately caught their attention. Keith and the others ran towards the windows. The truck had long since gone past the forest and now made its way through the winding paths of the canyon ravine where a long drop to the forest below was what awaited them. Behind them were a couple of heavily armored vehicles mounted with a large gatling gun. "You are in direct violation of the Feral Custody Act for unlawful transportation of rogue Ferals. Slow the car immediately or we will be forced to open fire on your vehicle."

Sam quickly stepped away from his window. "Wait, did the man say 'open fire'?! This... this is really bad."

"You think!?" Keith said, gripping a scruff of fur from his head. "Look, we gotta tell Marie and Roddy about this." They made their way over to the front of the truck, past the door separated the living quarters from the truck's driver's room. A large, feathery raptor-like being sat on the driver's seat his sharp eyes darting back and forth between the road and the side mirror. Next to him was a human woman nose-pressed against the sprawling road map on the dashboard. "Roddy!" Keith called the raptor. "There's a bunch of cars from the Sanatorium chasing after us!"

"We know!" Roddy said. "Sam's illusion magic should've worked on cameras as well though. I've double-checked it. All I could think is that the magic might've worn off already."

Sam furiously scratched his head. "Well, what did you expect, I'm still new to the magic thing."

"Everyone and their pet rollers are." Roddy replied. "Hey Marie, do you know any other way that can lead us out of here?"

"We're on a long and narrow cliff side road," Marie said, scrolling through the maps on her cell phone as fast as her fingers could take her. "There aren't any other roads out but forward, and it's pretty likely they've already blocked the exit here. So... we're trapped."

"Great, now what? Anyone got some kind of magic spell to get us out of here? Like, I dunno, making the RV fly?"
"I don't think anyone has that kind of magic," Marie quipped.

"If you do not slow your vehicle down, we will be forced to consider your refusal to comply as a sign that the Ferals you are harboring are now rabid and must be put down. This is your final warning."

"Geez, are you hearing this?" June asked. "The nerve of these guys calling us rabid."
"Well, they can't take chances, you know," Keith said, "I mean there really is a chance that--"

June grabbed both of Keith's shoulders. "Keith, they want to kill us, and you're seriously taking their side?"

"N-no! I just wanted to see their side of things!"

June released her hold and noticed the railings that repeat along the stretch on the side of the road, bent and rusted from disrepair, some of them already had gaps. and clapped her hands. "Oh! Keith, remember that barrier you made against Lance?"

Keith tilted his head. "What are you saying...?"

The sound of gunfire and shattering glass made it very clear they had to act soon.

She pointed towards the railings. "Crash into those!"

Roddy muttered a prayer under his breath and slammed onto the gas pedal and turned. The truck crashed and flew through the air. Everyone grabbed onto each other as the world around them began to spin. Sam screamed and Keith felt an oppressive weight on his body. Paralyzed with such fear he couldn't even take a breath. He squeezed his eyes shut as the truck headed for a nosedive. He tried to recall those feelings he felt when he awakened to his magic...

---

The rain poured and beat against their exhausted bodies. Lance had lost control over himself. His senses had given way to something more primal. Thorny, crystalline scales had burst underneath the patient's gown he wore, and blood began to leak from his glowing eyes. And as the transformation continued, his pained screeches grew louder, and as his body convulsed with every step he took, the ground shook along with him.

June slammed her hands at the ground to summon vines that could bind Lance, but the monster simply ripped them out of the soil and crushed it under its heel. It bounded towards Keith, slamming at him with such force that he felt his ribs crack under his weight. June replied by slamming her own body, accompanied by a couple of smaller trees that had sprung from both sides, knocking him over. She then bound him with another set of vines before helping Keith back on his feet.

It didn't take Lance too long to tear the vines apart, and soon it was up again. This time, he lunged for June, and she anticipated the attack with magic that covered her arms in a thick layer of bark. They tumbled to the floor, and June could only hold for so much longer before her arms would give in.

Keith watched. Again, he stood there doing nothing as his friend was struggling for her life. Again, he needed her to save him. Again, and again, he let things go out of control, because he let his fears consume him.

Never again.

He rushed towards the feud, and threw himself between the two Ferals just as Lance was about to slam a claw down on June. There was a crackle of dark energy, and as the claw fell onto them, something black glinted in the air and sent all the strength of that attack straight back at Lance, sending him flying into a tree, knocking him unconscious.

---

Keith took a deep breath and summoned those feelings. He was going to protect everyone. They needed him. He imagined a large sphere envelop the whole RV, his hands moved in tandem with the image. An electric shiver coursed through his skin, as he felt the tips of his fur sway and stand with magic.

The RV continued its descent, gaining speed as the seconds ticked. He thought about every part of the vehicle, every piece and shape he could think of, making sure that their entirety was taken into consideration. He counted the seconds he remained pressed against the door, bracing for impact.

The RV passed through the forest canopy, battered left and right by branches that ran along the length of these never ending trees. Keith held on, but he could feel every impact landed on the barrier until, he passed out.

Finally, it crashed onto the forest floor. And there was nothing left but the distant sounds of leaves in the wind.

Re-probus: A story of Ferals
(This post was last modified: 06-28-2017 11:43 AM by Wessolf27.)
06-25-2017 04:10 PM
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Wessolf27
 RE: Re-probus: A Story of Ferals.
Post: #3
 

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Posts: 15
Joined: May 2016
Chapter 2: The Coming Storm


A few months before that day…

Light streamed from a lone desk lamp onto a pile of half-finished homework on one side of the table, and a stack of documents of all the artifacts for the Westfair exhibit compiled on a folder on the other side. Marie dropped her head onto the middle of the table and let out a long groan. Every one of them had to be finished in half a week's time. She took the small picture frame of her stepfather at the corner of her table. "Why the heck did you let me deal with this mess?"

The past few weeks had been nothing short of chaos for Marie, in between juggling chemistry classes at college, acting as a substitute history teacher at Westfair High, and managing the exhibit her stepfather, Professor Aspen, had left halfway finished to answer a call from a colleague examining the Temple of Fulmina out in the Suurmi Badlands. He left the country with her sister, Amber, leaving her to manage everything else.

"Yes, I'll definitely be okay!" she said. "Yes, I can do it all just fine!" she insisted. "Uugh, why did I say yes?" she moaned. Then again, she was never the type to say no when asked politely. She knew that she shouldn't, but she felt guilty every time she tried to.

She pushed herself off the table and resolved to finish her assignment by tonight when her cell phone began to ring. She took the call. "Hey Marie, it's Amber, how are you holding up?"

"Splendidly!" It was anything but. "How about you? Are you doing alright?"

"Same old, same old. Some of the Therans still don't approve us treading on their sacred ground even though we've already made a deal with their elders. Seriously, there's no pleasing these people. Dad says hi by the way."

"Mhm, so what did you call me for?"

"Switch to video call, we gotta show you something." Marie quickly brushed her hair before pressing the small videocam button. On the other side of the screen was a dizzying maze of shelves filled with a variety of crystals, each of which are stored in small glass cups that would normally be seen holding candles. Amber brought the phone closer to the shelves to give Marie a better look, and each colored crystal polished seemed to move and flicker with images of the lives and memories of ancient Therans.

An old man with a scruffy, graying beard and wearing a button-down vest showed up on the screen. "Hello my darling, it's good to see you."

"Good to see you too dad, what are these things?"

"They're the recorded memories of people from before the Dissonance! Crystallized and preserved for record keeping. We have found the temple's memory archives! Marie, do you know what this means?"

"I'm guessing you're saying if we're able to extract these memories somehow, we'll be able to understand the lives of those who lived in that time, along with the events that led to the Dissonance."

"Exactly! With these aetherlite crystals we are able to shed some light into our world!"


"Don't you mean, 'We'll be rebuilding history!!'" Amber asked in a haughty voice, stretching out her hand as if gripping the air.

"Well, of course," the professor said, adjusting his glasses. "But let the old man make the dramatic gestures, please?"

"This is wonderful!" Marie replied. "The other temples didn't seem to have such an extensive collection like this."

"Ah, that's because the Temple is dedicated to Fulmina the Herald--goddess of curiosity, communication, delivery, and in some sects, retribution. Like all other temples, they intended to portray their deity through the functions and services they provide. The temple is situated in the middle of what was a gigantic crater that had been entirely smoothed out. At first we thought it would some sort of amphitheater, but then we realized the whole structure was part of the temple itself."

"In other words, the crater was a receiving dish, and the temple acted as a giant antenna," Amber chimed. "Especially when you consider how the temple's Mothercrystal juts out from the temple like one."

"Yes, now we don't know why the need for such a large structure, but what we do know is that they have also served as a sort of center of communication and information, relaying information across the planet while simultaneously keeping an archive of the then-current events. But now, we have an opportunity to understand the histories and the cultures of these people! This is groundbreaking research! Oh, I have to show one of these to you."

The professor was about to reach for a crystal when Marie yelped. "Wait, don't touch that!"

"Hm? Why do you suppose should I not?" The professor gave Marie such a coy smile that she felt as if she was studying in his class this time.

"W-well, they're aetherlite! Shouldn't you know what it can do to you if you're exposed to that?"

The professor chuckled. "Don't you still carry with you your mother's locket around?"

She produced the small locket hanging on her neck. Silver and tear-shaped, it had an intricate pattern of water lilies surrounding it and a brilliant blue gem inlaid in the center. "I've always kept it with me."

"That gem in the locket is also made out of aetherlite."

Marie cupped her hands over her mouth when she realized what that meant. Both Amber and the professor laughed.

"Relax, Marie," Amber said. "You won't get turned into some Feral unless you've been exposed to excessive amounts of it."

"And aetherlite are supposed to be inert forms of aether. It shouldn't affect you unless it's crushed into fine powder or sublimated through conducting more aether than it can handle," the professor added. "So my dear, am I in the clear?"

Marie rolled her eyes, but she was smiling nonetheless. "Alright, Dad. You may."

The professor bowed and took a violet block of crystal from the middle shelf. He urged Amber to come forwards. They made their way forwards to what looked like a screen and some sort of console. He placed the crystal on a small platform on the console, and pressed a few of the symbols on it. The platform began to glow and flicker. The screen began flashing several images of what seemed to be some kind of gathering interspersed with broken audio. The machine began to shudder, then it shut itself down immediately. Professor Aspen took the crystal and sighed. "Well, we'll eventually find a way to make it work... somehow."

"It's still good progress though!" Amber said.

"So, what are you going to do with those crystals?" Marie asked.

"We'll try to get this thing up and running," Amber said, facing the phone. "We've already asked around for a way to fix it, hopefully we'll get it running by tomorrow, otherwise we'll have to take a few samples back to Westfair for analysis."

"Alright, I'll be waiting for them!"

"Make sure you do!"

"Oh, Marie, there's one other thing--how's the exhibit coming along?" the professor asked. "Are you doing alright working on it on your own?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. The showpieces are set, the documentation's ready, I've written the opening script and," she paused. "Do you think I missed anything?"

"Have you prepared food for the guests?"

"Wait, we're supposed to prepare food for guests?"

"Of course! It wouldn't be proper at all if we don't entertain our guests on the opening."

Alarm bells rang in Marie's mind, she took out her laptop and typed furiously for the nearest catering service in Westfair. She clicked the first link she found and listed every order she wanted on a separate file. "Ah, I guess you're working on it right now?"

"Y-yeah! I'm sorry I have to drop the call, goodbye Dad, be safe!"

He waved to her. "Goodbye darling, you too."

"Don't be a stranger!" Amber added. "Really, you've been so busy we never hear anything from you."

"I promise I'll call back, see you!" With that, Marie closed her phone and let her head fall on the keyboard. She was way too tired for this.

She picked herself back up and took a good look at the site she entered. "…the Starry Plough Bistro? That's just along the corner of Ganymede and Callisto." She had never been there before, but she heard that it was quite a popular restaurant for the students.

She browsed the menu filled with enticing images of food so beautiful it suddenly made her stomach growl in envy. After boiling some instant noodles and finished listing her orders, she picked up the phone and called the number. "Hello, is this the Starry Plough Bistro?"

---

"…So that covers your lesson on the ancient Theran civilizations before the Dissonance." Marie told her first period class. "Now, before you leave for your next class, Professor Aspen asked me to give you a homework to be due this Monday." The whole class groaned and Marie had to shush the entire room.

"Wait, before you start complaining." She took out a plastic box filled with tickets. "Part one of your assignment is to attend the exhibit at the Westfair Archaeological Museum this coming Saturday." She handed the tickets to each of the students who then passed it backwards to the next one in line. The student on the last row, a lone Feral wearing a cloth muzzle was about to get his ticket when the boy in front snatched it before he even got the chance to lift his hand.

"Marcus, give the ticket to Keith," she ordered. Marcus glared at her before slamming the ticket on Keith's desk, leaving it crumpled. Some students whispered how much of a "teacher's pet" Keith was and started howling like dogs, but Keith tried not to pay it much mind. Marie had to shush the rowdy teens before they do something worse.

After the class had become quiet enough to be heard, Marie continued. "Good, now after visiting the exhibit, I want you to each present a report discussing one of the displays. At least one thousand words. Again, on Monday." The bell rang. And by ones and twos, the students left the room. "Class dismissed."

"Keith can I talk to you for a moment?"

Keith made his way to her. "Is there something wrong, Ms. Willow?" his voice was barely audible with the muzzle on his snout. At closer inspection, the fabric seemed tightly wound around it, just barely giving him enough space to slightly open his mouth.

"No, not really." She organized her papers, and snapped the lid of the plastic box shut. "Tell me, are you often being bullied by those kids?"

"Yeah, but so do a lot of other people." Keith readjusted the straps on his muzzle, as if he's done it a million times. "I'm used to it."

Marie decided it might be for the best to switch topics. "So, your mom owns the Starry Plow Bistro, right?"

Keith blinked. "Yeah... uh, did you want to order something?"

"Well actually, I already asked if she could cater for the exhibit. I've heard that she was the former head of the science department, and she's a big inspiration to me, and I wanted to meet her, so--" she opened the box and handed Keith three more tickets. "I want you to have these tickets. Tell your family that they're welcome to look around the exhibit for free."

Keith took the tickets and gingerly placed them in the front pocket of his bag. "Um, thank you?"

"No problem!" They waved each other goodbye before heading to their respective classes. She thought about the cloth muzzle that Keith wore to school, it seemed quite uncomfortable. Yet if she recalled correctly, that was the compromise given by the school in exchange for letting him study here. She recalled similar measures were given to the Therans that studied here a few decades back before it had been lifted due to protests against it. Considering Keith seemed to be one of the very few Ferals allowed to study within the campus. She doubted that same mercy might be given to them.

After spending much of the morning teaching and the rest of the day on her studies, Marie rushed to the museum to meet with the curator, Mrs. Han, to coordinate on how to present each of the displays as well as to prepare for the opening ceremonies. But before Marie could practice her speech, Mrs. Han had called her over to her office. Two packages had arrived in the museum's mail that was for Marie.

"It's from Professor Aspen," said Mrs. Han, the old lady struggled to lift a pair of boxes plastered with stickers labeled fragile. Marie helped her bring them on top of the table. They opened the packages and underneath the mess of shredded newspapers and Styrofoam peanuts were a number of crystals--the same ones that were from the Temple of Fulmina. "I suppose those are the memory crystals the professor spoke of frequently?"

"Yeah…" she picked up one of the crystals. This one had a surface shaped like the dome of a crystal ball. She peered into the dome and could see faint shapes dancing inside. "I wonder why they would send these here?"

"Perhaps they wish to have them analyzed. It would certainly be easier to do it here than in that dry desert."

Marie wondered if that was really the case. Didn't the professor say that he would have them viewed with the Temple's console before sending them over? Why the sudden change of mind?

Unfortunately, when she called Amber's number that night, the line had gone dead. So too for the camp. She even tried calling the professor's number even though he forgot to carry it more often than not. But there wasn't even a tone at the end of the line. She looked through her network account but the last post from them was from Amber when she had taken a picture next to a couple of crow-like Korven Therans while they all stuck their tongues out at the camera.

"No, you're probably just overthinking this," Marie assured herself. "It's already quite late in the night where they are. So they're just asleep." She could only hope it were true. Just to make sure, Marie took out her phone and sent a text message to Amber.

"Please call me when you wake up."

She took out her mother's locket and brushed her fingers over its grooved cold surface. She held it up to the light of her lamp and gazed at the jewel's shine. The way the light would dance reminded her of a clear spring or the ripples cast by a stone on a calm pool. It calmed her to gaze into it when she felt lost and troubled.

Though she never truly met her parents, only hearing about the from the stories her stepparents would tell her, she still felt like a piece of them was preserved in it. They helped to soothe her troubles away, leaving her alone with thoughts of other things.

A thought flashed in her mind. She had recalled one of the things the professor would tell her on his studies. That aetherlite crystals have a strange quirk of being able to hold memories due to the very thing they're made of, even though Marie doubted that the substance can truly hold such things.

He also told her that her mother wore the locket on her as well. If she could somehow harness the crystal in some way, would it mean that she could find a way to will a memory of her mother from it? She had to find a way.

Her phone began to ring, it was Amber. She quickly picked it up. "Amber! I've been trying to contact you, what's going on?"

"…Marie," came Amber's voice. "The Alopex group demands for the return of the memory crystals that have been stolen from the sacred temple of Fulmina the Herald," her voice quivered as she was made to read the lines given to her. "We also demand for the Westfair exhibit to be cancelled, and for all artifacts to be returned, including the crystals sent that morning. F-Failure to comply before the exhibit's opening…" Amber began to choke on her words when a gunshot rang in the background. "Failure to comply would result in those involved in Suurmi expedition to be executed… sacrificed to the goddess."

Another voice, one deep and rumbling, took the phone. "Do not tell anyone. We have eyes everywhere. You have two days left. Decide."

"Wait!" Marie cried. "I'll comply… just don't kill them." But the call had hung up.

Re-probus: A story of Ferals
(This post was last modified: 07-04-2017 03:16 PM by Wessolf27.)
07-03-2017 05:19 PM
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Wessolf27
 RE: Re-probus: A Story of Ferals.
Post: #4
 

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No chapter right now, but I might as well share some pictures to get a clearer picture of a few things.

Images are a bit huge, so they're under spoilers:

Spoiler :
[Image: XWX9RiG.png]

From left to right: Keith, Sam, and June as they look like in Chapter 1!


[Image: s4V8VFk.png]

And here's the Feral that's chased Keith and June around the junkyard during the Prologue. Poor guy really doesn't look good from his condition.

Re-probus: A story of Ferals
07-07-2017 05:42 PM
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