Ghostwriter

Ghostwriter
#26
RE: Ghostwriter
Here, Belfry faces a Problem.

Option 1
She can forsake her identity as a refugian, shift into the form of a large bird or other flying creature, take Dime and fly away before disaster hits. They would escape, and their story would continue. There would be doubt, uncertainty. A chapter on discovering who she truly is, while Dime comes to terms with being demonized, the one who destroyed a box and caused a great deal of grief. They could talk about finding their whole world ripped from beneath them, and finding their place in world anew. This path strikes me as a slower, more thoughtful approach. A slow and steady way to both build character and design fluff for the setting.

Option 2
Or, she can solidify her belief that she truly is a refugian, and solidify her prior form. Barring some miracle, neither she nor dime will escape the coming disaster. But, it would still be a satisfactory end, no? She may be seen as a martyr by both the other refugians, and any chiron residents who hear the story. The last stand of a hero, memorialized by those fighting the lizard people. I see this as something of a rougher, shorter chapter meant to capture interest for the next book.

Either way, the book would have its ending. Something followed by a brief epilogue to lead into the next.

Of course, the latter path would end their stories in the here and now, but the setting would continue. We could find new characters to bring into the front.

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Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
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#27
RE: Ghostwriter
I'm quite enjoying this exercise. You're a creative bunch.

(05-19-2018, 12:30 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »As for the unspoken speech, well. How did it go, "Where Gods walk disaster follows?" Or was it "Where there's disaster, a God isn't far behind?".
Regardless, seeds must be sown, watered and nurtured before they can be harvested.

To write a story is to become its arbiter. To let it run its course is to become its witness.

You may know already, but the gods in my universe lack power. They are creators, and have long since spent that energy. Now, all they do is watch. They are immortal beings, and they are spectators.

I believe deities exist. I also believe that if a god may create anything meaningful, that god must also let go of its power.

(05-19-2018, 05:09 AM)Dragon Fogel Wrote: »I think we have a theme here of Belief.

Dime wants to believe - not so much in a religious sense, but in anything. But belief is all but dead in his world.

Belfry believes in a lie. Or rather, her belief was manufactured by the invaders. Yet, she still held it firmly herself. Even now, I would not be surprised if she still thinks of herself as the form she took for all these years.

And our two objects here. Our weapons, of a sort. The beacon and the box. The power in both of them comes from belief.

So here's something we don't have. A specific antagonist, one who reflects our theme of belief in a different way. What if it's not just any lizard alien taunting Belfry, but a particular one, one who she is disgusted by on a personal level. One who has a concept of belief that is anathema to her.

Perhaps a philosophy that there is nothing to believe in. That reality itself can be manipulated, so why care about anything. Being able to shapeshift could easily tie into this, feeding a sense that your own form is mutable and beliefs can be changed just as thoroughly.

And so, the feeling of desperation doesn't come simply from the idea that the invaders will succeed. It's that this particular invader will succeed in embodying their own destructive philosophy. That personal touch adds to the emotional stakes.

Belfry and Dime are consciousnesses floating in a void, as it is. We haven't even dared name the other actors in this play. But I agree that personal conflict brings richness to everything-- even in our own lives, it is hard to understand conflicts with no intimacy to your current life, with no face to them. They don't typically source stories in a nickel from several people, for instance: it's easier if they can blame somebody like me for all the ethical troubles. I am one face. I make for a good antagonist, as it happens.

Our blue-clothed protagonist was not inactive in her youth, far from it-- she was barely old enough to talk when she discovered a battered reptilian who reminded her very much of herself. It wasn't that she saw physical similarity- yet- but that she could see the looming abandonment personified in this barely-alive lizard, not a lot older than herself.

This young, hopeless reptilian was named Yaffenhash, and it was Belfry's only friend while growing up. This is why it's so horrifying for her to find the reptilian on the rooftop once again.

The scene shifts. Yaffenhash is not maniacal, or bitter at all. Her voice is warm, soft, comforting. She knows Belfry, and though she had no hand in the lie which permeates the girl's life, she certainly maintained it.

All three of these characters have seen this world in all its darkness: and like a missing puzzle piece, Yaffenhash represents the last response they could take. Belfry is reactive, fighting the darkness with flashes of light. Dime is attempting to live his own life, pushing away the big questions and waiting for it to be over. Yaffenhash has joined with the reptilians, not out of any true want to hurt Dime's tripodal species, but because she believes it's the only safe place she can be. "Their era is over," she says softly to Belfry. "I don't think they were ever meant to own a planet this big."

"You liar!" the girl shouts, weakly. "You piece of shit! It's your fault that everything's so bad, not theirs!"

Yaffenhash shakes her head softly. "Long before our arrival, they were exhausting their world's power with their misuse of that box. Their society was always a cacophonous mess. I know you can see it, too. We're here to make things better... and you've helped us so much." Now, her scaly hand reaches forth, asking Belfry to join the fold with a gaze that holds bitter kindness. "...You helped me so much, Belfry. All those years. Let me help you. Let's go home."

This is the moment where Dime drops the pack off the roof, and all goes to shit.

(05-19-2018, 12:30 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »Here, Belfry faces a Problem.

Option 1
She can forsake her identity as a refugian, shift into the form of a large bird or other flying creature, take Dime and fly away before disaster hits. They would escape, and their story would continue. There would be doubt, uncertainty. A chapter on discovering who she truly is, while Dime comes to terms with being demonized, the one who destroyed a box and caused a great deal of grief. They could talk about finding their whole world ripped from beneath them, and finding their place in world anew. This path strikes me as a slower, more thoughtful approach. A slow and steady way to both build character and design fluff for the setting.

Option 2
Or, she can solidify her belief that she truly is a refugian, and solidify her prior form. Barring some miracle, neither she nor dime will escape the coming disaster. But, it would still be a satisfactory end, no? She may be seen as a martyr by both the other refugians, and any chiron residents who hear the story. The last stand of a hero, memorialized by those fighting the lizard people. I see this as something of a rougher, shorter chapter meant to capture interest for the next book.

Either way, the book would have its ending. Something followed by a brief epilogue to lead into the next.

Of course, the latter path would end their stories in the here and now, but the setting would continue. We could find new characters to bring into the front.

Death is an interesting thing. The method by which I design nickel universes means it is tough to bring the dead out as ghosts, and even more jarring for the consciousnesses in question. This doesn't mean I'm averse to it. Many great stories have ended with death.

I'm not sure this one should. To see death as the only option embodies hopelessness; it is as Belfry says, that the absence of a choice is a choice in of itself. I feel that, for the purpose of this story, we must go with the first option.

But she does not just grab Dime. She grabs Yaffenhash, too.

...

The island beneath collapses in on itself. The very soil sinks into the sea it came from, like it was never there at all. The shining silver towers, like slim figures which rampage atop their home, slip underwater, and in a moment, all is nothing.

Belfry has, in her avian claws, a still Yaffenhash and sobbing Dime. She is processing this all internally. Not a word is spoken between the three.

After a few hours, the horizon bulges up. Amidst a scattered, moonlit sea, mountainous peaks emerge, and reveal the largest island any of them had ever seen. Buildings and smoke-stacks foreign to them, scattered amidst spikes of rock with snowy tips, all bordered by a rampaging, jeweled sea, still reverberating with the destruction of the Holy Box. Not one of them knows the true consequences of what has just occurred, but they know they are lucky to be alive.

When they touch down on the beach, Belfry immediately morphs back to her natural reptilian form, and falls onto the sand, exhausted. Yaffenhash stumbles for a moment, then sits down, breathing heavily in shock. Dime lands and struggles to stand, holding himself together.

He can't understand his role in all of this, but he thinks that maybe their roles have been thoroughly reshuffled.

His first words to the both of them are...
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#28
RE: Ghostwriter
Wow, you really did a great job building on the suggestions there. That element of sympathy makes Yaffenhash's speech so much more emotional than the previous version. I love it. And now she's a central figure in this next part of the story.

I think Dime's first words are something to the effect of "let's find shelter". For the moment, he's taking refuge in the practical, because he's not ready to process everything that's just happened yet, including what he did.
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#29
RE: Ghostwriter
SpoilerShow

It is interesting to see what is done with the provided material. We provide the paint, the brush. It's what's done with them that makes them interesting.
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Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
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#30
RE: Ghostwriter
I love this stage of working. I typically take some time to myself to play around with the universe when it has so much set in stone. Universes designed top-down like this can be explored, they develop on their own and make their own stories. I can feel myself swing from space to atmosphere, into the world of Chiron, inspect these people and their lives and their thoughts and feelings. I can pause the universe, I can reverse it, I can flip it upside down over and over. This is what it's like to be a true spectator-- without any information revoked.

I can be a civilian in a universe utterly unlike anything ever before. This is why I'm so proud of the work we've done so far, and we're not even finished. For a moment, I'm not sitting here in this chair that depresses me, or this room which makes me feel like a prisoner. I can be anything.

To immerse yourself is not to discover yourself; it's to discover what living another way would be like. I never understood the freakish disdain for people that like to explore 'fictional' worlds, or the implication that they're only there for lawless freedom or hedonism.

Most of the time, we as sentient beings explore so we may understand more things about existence itself.

(05-19-2018, 10:42 PM)Dragon Fogel Wrote: »Wow, you really did a great job building on the suggestions there. That element of sympathy makes Yaffenhash's speech so much more emotional than the previous version. I love it. And now she's a central figure in this next part of the story.

I think Dime's first words are something to the effect of "let's find shelter". For the moment, he's taking refuge in the practical, because he's not ready to process everything that's just happened yet, including what he did.

Thank you. Give yourself credit, too: your suggestions have been fantastic thus far. This has transformed my writer's block to a writer's ocean.

Dime takes a long breath, and instead of descending into diatribe as he thought he might, he simply says, "We need to find shelter."

The rain picks up. The atmosphere has been brought into disarray; even this far from impact, the ripples of what he'd done can be felt. The two reptilians nod slowly, and as Belfry brings herself up from the sand, panting, she transforms back into this false form of a Refugian. It doesn't feel right. Yaffenhash raises a shaky arm to point towards smoke behind the crest of a nearby mountain, and mutters, "There."

They travel in exhaustion. The words between them remain sparse: 'Sinkhole'. 'Might have food there'. 'You OK, Belfry?'

Her breath is heavy. She nods towards Dime, who'd asked, and then keeps moving. He's truly not ready to ask any bigger questions. He just knows that this is a path they're writing on their own volition-- no larger force could have possibly planned for this. Maybe that makes their fate even more likely to be a tragic one, but he's not ready for that implication, either. Walking is all he focuses on.

Walking is all they focus on. Step, step, one after another after another. Time heartbeat and breath with each movement. The downpour is torrential, now.

They reach 'civilization' in the form of a wooden platform under concrete overhang outside a large building: looks like place of residence and/or factory for people they've never met. Dime leans against a wall, and slips down, desperate for a decent seat. The water against the hanging roof above them becomes drums. "This is good enough," he says softly.

But Belfry knocks on the wide, sliding metal doors. Loud knocking. She isn't going to stop here: advantage over Dime, though she wasn't the one to think of seeking shelter initially. "Hey! Anyone! Could you let us in?!" she shouts.

Yaffenhash grasps her shoulder solemnly. Her form is that of a reptilian; meek expression, still nearly wordless. She motions towards herself. "If they..."

"Then morph," spits Belfry, acid in breath.

"You know I can't," Yaffenhash begs.

The three of them are sopping wet, and none seem prepared when the door slides open to reveal a tripodal Chiron resident, sleep-deprived and haggard. He says, "Would you cut it?! You're the third group who's come knocking tonight! Me and my wife are trying to sleep!"

He didn't seem to notice Yaffenhash. Taking this moment as an opportunity, she takes a long breath, steps forth, and offers a hand, to both Belfry and Dime's surprise. "I'm sorry, sir, but the world's on its way towards ending, and we need a place to stay a moment."

He gets wide-eyed. Dime stands up slowly and corroborates: "--So that maybe w-we can stop it from doing that."

"Right," says Belfry weakly. "Or... something."

Something.

The man stands staring blankly for a little while, and then slides the door open further. The rain has become an orchestra against the roof, and all three slip inside while it threatens to drown the world all at once.

Yes, as they'd guessed, it was at least previously a factory-- and the main entrance is hooked up to a small control room. However, this has since been repurposed into a housing complex, and the small bedroom by this front door has been in the way of foot traffic for days, it seems like. The man who'd greeted them is Puffy the Solemn, with his mean-mugging wife, Rocks of the East. Neither one of them likes the look of Belfry, they especially don't like the look of Yaffenhash, and even the tripodal Dime looks like he's got something to hide.

Still, they let the trio enter. Rocks points towards a door further down a hallway. "If you gotta talk some shit to each other, there's a smidge of privacy in the Common Room. Go pick a corner."

"Thank you," says Yaffenhash, offering a smile forth. She doesn't get one in return.

The factory proper is a massive room with ceilings twenty stories tall, at times flat and at times sloped; not quite as wide as it is tall, with dismantled machinery comprising pieces of scrap tables and chairs, recreational equipment and assorted other furniture. Other rooms in the facility have been converted to tiny apartment-like housing, while yet more dozens and dozens of households hang from the walls of the massive main floor, built anew out of whatever materials could be bought up from shoddy cardboard freighters.

Tripodals gaze at them with as hostile looks as they can muster, but they suppose they've all seen worse. They hesitantly pick a corner of the gigantic vaulted room to sit down, and after a solid thirty seconds of uncomfortable silence, they begin to unpack what had just happened.

Let's take a moment.

(05-19-2018, 11:26 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »Ahem. Dime would ask "What now?". It was unnecessary, as Dime already knew. The three of them were all in the same boat, lost, stunned. Shocked. None of them could have predicted the damage the box would cause, the lives lost without ever understanding why. But they would go through the motions anyways, trying to piece together some scrap of reason as to what led to that moment, and if truly had to happen.

"What now?" asks Dime, softly. He is disconnecting himself from what he's done. He is escaping from it. 'What now' is a question he wants to mean something, but Dime doesn't feel like anything he could do now would improve their current circumstances.

As a species, as an individual, Dime believes it's all hopeless.

(05-19-2018, 11:26 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »Yaffenhash would, perhaps unwisely, linger for just a moment. It wasn't too late for Belfry to join her true people, her real home. She saw what the boxes could do firsthand, the danger they held. It would be important now more than ever to take the boxes, far, far away from this world. It couldn't be done in a day, but phasing out the populations reliance on them, that could be done. Now, Belfry may have saved Dime, but Yaffenhash was every much the shapeshifter as Belfry; and so were the other lizard people on that building. Thus there was a decent chance that another may have flown away, and the nearest HQ will want answers as to what happened. If there is one, anyways.

"There's still plenty of our people around," says Yaffenhash, facing Belfry. "We can stop what's happening, altogether. I know the rest of them... must've escaped the island, too-- must've realized they could fly when they saw you doing it."

(05-19-2018, 11:26 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »Belfry, Belfry, Belfry. The last day of your life has been the most shocking, the most traumatic of them all. The rug upturned, your life a sham. Even if your name is truly yours is cast in doubt. You might consider casting away the tatters of your old life, but it's not that easy. To you the memories, the experiences are all real. Or were. Now, it's hard to say which, if any were as they seemed. It would be so, so easy to run away from all this. As a shapeshifter, you could blend in with the masses and try to start a new life. The Lizard people might detect you as one of them, but they would never know who you were. From the moment you enter hiding, you would be lost to them. But you can't. There is still a hope, faint as it is, that Refugia might accept you as one of them. And if they might, then hurting the Lizard peoples preparations for the Refugians might make it that bit more likely.

It's hard for the girl in blue to really, truly bring all these concepts together. It takes her a minute to decide what to reply with. She shuts her eyes, she breathes softly, and then she responds with confidence.

"I'm not one of your people. Refugia is coming for us, and the last thing I'm going to do is let you attack them, too."

Yaffenhash's brow lowers. "We never attacked anyone. We wouldn't ever attack those people, either."

But Belfry raises her arms up, motions to this decrepit place which now holds hundreds of souls in squalor. "Trying to take us over is an attack, too! I don't care how bad things might've been, you never tried to fix them-- you just started making the world into the shit it is now! People just building and... abandoning!"

(05-19-2018, 11:26 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »Dime knew they would have to go into hiding. The lizard people got what they wanted from the beacon, would begin to prepare for something coming. A small blessing in the storm. But, the people would want an answer, someone to blame. The lizard people would release a trickle of information, a snippet here a suspect there. Releasing just enough to keep the population calm while preparations were made. Revealing Dime as the culprit would only be done when the trickled information was no longer enough for the crowd. For better or worse, Dime knew he would have to trust Belfry and, perhaps, whoever Refugia would send. If anyone.

"They don't have the box anymore," says Dime, meekly. "It's not... an option anymore. That was a big part of their plans. And they're going to come after us for destroying it."

"You destroyed it," says Yaffenhash, bitter. "The best chance my people had at finishing this whole thing without any more years of chaos. Now we're flipping a coin as to whether or not we can stop the entire world from collapsing in on itself."

Belfry grows lucid. "We don't have to." Dime and Yaffenhash look at her with some confusion. She continues: "Refugia is our only hope now. For... our species." With one hand, she motions to both her and Dime. "I don't know how long it's going to take for the box to..."

"Weeks," says Yaffenhash. "Meanwhile, every single person on the planet is going to be looking for somebody to blame for it. And we-" -she motions to herself and Belfry- "-will be the ones to fix things."

Dime swallows, and after a moment's consideration, turns to the reptilian, morose in his expression but sure in his words. "Maybe it's better for both our species if we got off this planet. Maybe if we just... got rid of the boxes altogether. Refugia can be a home for all of us."

Belfry faces Yaffenhash, too. "I don't know what they hammered into y-your head after you left me, but the world reptilians want to make is a hell. I'm not one of you if I'm not one with that."

The lizard extends a hand forth; palm up, offering. "You were always with us. I knew it since I first met you. They misguided you because they needed you, but now I need you. To be with me, on this."

"I'd rather watch it all burn than let it die slow," Belfry says. Her eyes tilt to Dime for a moment, who stares off in consideration. In this moment, maybe amidst all the chaos and destruction... she understands what has just happened.

It wasn't a good thing, certainly. But if their species' fate was a pot of slow-boiling soup, Dime's action had turned the bowl on its head. There would be no slow takeover of their culture anymore; something was going to change.

And Belfry can hold tightly onto 'something'.

...

(05-19-2018, 11:26 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »But all of this would take time, and right now the trio simply wished for a spot to rest.

And it seemed their rest would be short-lived.

As they glance up mid-argument, they discover Puffy the Solemn hoisting a scrap rifle, aiming at the trio with menace. The entire room has gathered around in vilifying gaze.

Word travels quick; so does intolerance. There are several routes we can go here, and I'm so excited, I'm not sure which to pick.

Why, in particular, is Puffy and the crowd here to push our characters and their relationships to their limits? Where do things go from here?
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#31
RE: Ghostwriter
"you'd best get to leaving now," say someone. indeed, they do, they trudge on through the night in rain and mud, belfry and yatterhorn bickering incessantly. dime finally snaps like a twig. "this is what happens to refugees, belfry," he says. he's been against the takeover from the start, and for what? to protect his culture? WHAT culture, the one that was utterly supplanted he was never familiar with? or the one he personally destroyed? well now it's useless. now his only hope, as he sees it, is to turn coat and work with yatterhorn and the reptilian shapeshifters
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#32
RE: Ghostwriter
(05-20-2018, 12:18 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »"you'd best get to leaving now," say someone. indeed, they do, they trudge on through the night in rain and mud, belfry and yatterhorn bickering incessantly. dime finally snaps like a twig. "this is what happens to refugees, belfry," he says. he's been against the takeover from the start, and for what? to protect his culture? WHAT culture, the one that was utterly supplanted he was never familiar with? or the one he personally destroyed? well now it's useless. now his only hope, as he sees it, is to turn coat and work with yatterhorn and the reptilian shapeshifters

I have some questions, since this is decidedly a character-defining moment.

Why would Dime want to join the reptilian shapeshifters if they are the ones to supplant his culture and cause the takeover, since he's so against this takeover? He sees hope in supplanting the course that was set hundreds of years ago, even if he doesn't have the same faith in the Refugia inhabitants that Belfry does.

To help the reptilians gain a foothold now and save the planet (while becoming its heroes) would be a different outcome than the slow roll invasion, but not inherently better. The tripodals may be spared, but the world's culture would be shocked violently, and likely not for the better.

This isn't meant to make offense, either. I have admired your choices in this story so far especially, and want to see how we can make this all sensible. Perhaps it's my own short-sightedness.
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#33
RE: Ghostwriter
he just destroyed his whole civilization. if he was simply a bit bitter before, he's utterly despondent now. dime has no more brook for optimism — i said "his only hope," but he has none any longer, this is his darkest hour. and there is a bit of sense to it: the culture he wanted to save is GONE, and yatterhorn is right there telling him the lizard invasion will actually be a good thing. at the very least it's a sure thing, and dime wants some stability to cling to right now, as is his nature. it's not the wisest or most noble course, it's a dark turn by someone who's scared and hurt.
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#34
RE: Ghostwriter
Sorry for the wait. The front office needed me to work with a couple old coins for a moment-- reissues are soon.

(05-20-2018, 12:18 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »"you'd best get to leaving now," say someone. indeed, they do, they trudge on through the night in rain and mud, belfry and yatterhorn bickering incessantly. dime finally snaps like a twig. "this is what happens to refugees, belfry," he says. he's been against the takeover from the start, and for what? to protect his culture? WHAT culture, the one that was utterly supplanted he was never familiar with? or the one he personally destroyed? well now it's useless. now his only hope, as he sees it, is to turn coat and work with yatterhorn and the reptilian shapeshifters

Of course. The armed tripodal isn't here to kill the trio, he never was a man of that volition; his intentions are to clear his home of a reptilian, a guilty-looking businessman, and a complete alien. He says, "You'd best get to leaving, now."

Belfry protests. "Please. It's freezing cold out there, we don't mean any of you harm."

"Yeah," says Rocks, who stands beside Puffy. "and a pal'f ours says he overheard you sayin' he made it that way." She sticks out an arm to point at Dime, who is still wide-eyed. "You reap what you sow. Go freeze to death, for all we care."

There isn't a thing they can do.

The sky outside has become a dingy grayish-black, and the downpour makes the crevices between mountains flood a slurry of mud and dirty water; they consider standing underneath the shelter of the overhang outside the entrance to try and get some moments of dryness, but one more prod from the inhabitants rules this out as an option. Without any willingness, the trio begin to trek down the valley's stretch, their bodies far apart and their minds further scattered.

"You could fly us out of here," mutters Yaffenhash. "You've shown you're capable."

Belfry shakes her head slowly. Her blue hat is drained of color. "Too much downpour."

"Well," the reptilian huffs, "where are we going, then? What the hell's the plan?"

"We find someone else who can take us in."

"We'll still be on this damn island, and it's probably next on the cataclysmic list. We need to get to high ground... find a plane, helicopter, something. My headset isn't working--"

The Refugian grasps her old friend's head and rips the earpiece straight from her exposed earhole, and stomps it into the ground. All three of them stop, with Dime huffing slowly, staring off into nothing. Belfry shouts, "We wouldn't all have to live on islands if my people took us to their planet. No more earthquakes, no more shit! The world ending is the best thing that's ever happened to us!"

Yaffenhash clutches her head in horror-- no more connection to her people. "This is the worst thing that's ever happened to us! All of us, I don't care where you're putting the dividing lines!"

"She's r-right," Dime stammers slowly. His defeated body is only being more pained by the weather, which almost deafens the three of them. They both tilt to face him, confused. "I screwed up. I'm the reason everything is like this. I just... wanted to do something. But..."

(05-20-2018, 01:48 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »he just destroyed his whole civilization. if he was simply a bit bitter before, he's utterly despondent now. dime has no more brook for optimism — i said "his only hope," but he has none any longer, this is his darkest hour. and there is a bit of sense to it: the culture he wanted to save is GONE, and yatterhorn is right there telling him the lizard invasion will actually be a good thing. at the very least it's a sure thing, and dime wants some stability to cling to right now, as is his nature. it's not the wisest or most noble course, it's a dark turn by someone who's scared and hurt.

"I don't know if th-the aliens are just gonna... make everything okay. But I think that she can. A-And... I need something... for sure, right now."

Belfry's eyes are open, and shine a moment amidst the torrential rain, which is only picking up further. "There's nothing sure except that her people want to destroy the last of your culture, of your people." She must shout above the noise of weather; her body is getting tired.

"...but i-it's all gone, isn't it? It's already all gone. My s-species has been sh-shit to me my whole life. She's s-saying there's a way to fix it all, and... we sh-should do that. And then if Refugia c-comes to save us..."

The blue-clothed girl glares. "If Refugia comes to save us, they'll be their next target." She tries to breathe, but there's hardly anything but water; raising, raising, raising in the tiny valley, and while it hasn't reached much past the grass, it's filling the air with moisture and suffocating. "Please, Dime, I don't know what the hell it's going to take you to just believe me! We can't just give up trying to fix things now!"

Belief is hard. Dime sinks into himself, and begins to cry. Nothing seems sensible. "I killed everyone I know," he mutters softly, but it's lost to the wind.

Yaffenhash grabs both of them with force. "If we don't move now, we're going to die! Come on! None of us gets what we want if we're all dead!"

But the tripodal man in sopping, freezing black clothes has no solace. When Yaffenhash begins to drag him along, his legs respond halfheartedly. The trio move in tense and pained silence, and the water is raising, turning the island into wetland, the grass into swamp. It pelts them against their weakened bodies, and as they crest yet another hill with nothing behind it, their situation looks more grim than ever.

The world is collapsing inward, one island at a time, and Dime, Yaffenhash and Belfry get the feeling that their island is next.

...

This is harsh, for our characters. Perhaps this, like the earlier possible event, is one way their stories may turn sour-- death. If we're to take the ghosts now, they will be nothing if not unstable in their conflicts between each other, and their story will be surely unfulfilled.

But it's always an option. We must question now where we can take their story... hopeless as it seems now, many have escaped worse. More complicated is the fate of their respective species, and if anyone will end up safe in the end.

Let's get to figuring this out.
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#35
RE: Ghostwriter
they craft a raft and abandon the disappearing island for the next. but the raft doesn't hold together well, and so they end up stranded on some kind of sand bar, just enough for a picnic.

and here, through the tears, our characters find a camaderie. this is going to be our last day alive, so let's play games and tell stories of our mothers while the water licks our heels

and when they finally sink under... they see that what has been created in all these drownings is an Atlantis situation
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#36
RE: Ghostwriter
Perhaps, by chance, they come upon something that rekindles hope in them, and could solve some problems in the (very) short term. Like rumors of others who have created a boat that'll get off the island soon. Or perhaps that something had survived against all odds. Hopeless moments are fine, but not in excess. Nothing spectacular, but something that is helpful.

But there is a catch. It wouldn't be a good story if all of their problems were immediately solved. While Dime may be okay with this arrangement of traveling companions, not all strangers would be too happy to encounter another reptilian. If they encounter other survivors, they may be guarded, or if they do find a means off the island they might have to get creative to get the small group on it. Something that pushes them from sticking too long in a hopeless spot.
Karies - a forum adventure (Hiatus)
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#37
RE: Ghostwriter
Right now, the pressure on them is immense, but also vague.

This, in a way, only strengthens it. It's much harder to solve a problem when you can't even define it. The disaster is real, but distant and uncertain. With so little information on what's actually happening, everyone is focused on their own personal fears.

What I'm getting at is, bring the problem closer, but also make it more specific. And, consequently, more solvable. We can move away from hopelessness by helping the group discover something meaningful they can do.
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#38
RE: Ghostwriter
There is a temporary solution to their danger.
The lizard people never planned on staying here forever, they had ways to leave set aside for later.
There were vessels made, to take them back and forth from a relay station hidden among the clouds.
Or if a vessel was unavailable, they could fly to it. In a pinch, anyways.
They would even take non-lizard people with them, a sort of truce in this terrible time.
The difficulty was finding a ride there, or at least discovering where the station was at that moment.
If they were lucky, they might even see one such vessel heading off into the skies.
Mysterious unwords were amusing, for a time. But the end goal for them would be... Unfitting, for the story. Back into the word box they go, for another time.
Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
Quote
#39
RE: Ghostwriter
(05-20-2018, 05:39 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »Something blinks. A faint shudder. The crackling of bones. A chain rattles in the distance. A knife is put to the grindstone.

In the moments prior to the beacons destruction, Yaffenhash's earpiece had heard an odd noise transmitted from the beacons bug. A noise itchy to the ears. Those at the local headquarters had only moments to ponder its meaning before the island was destroyed. Was that scratch from the landing?

Mysterious unwords were amusing, for a time. But the end goal for them would be... Unfitting, for the story. Back into the word box they go, for another time.

Well, don't be down on yourself, I/O. While I don't grasp their path just yet, I do find it interesting to have another layer of intrigue underneath. Ghosts enjoy feeling special.

(05-20-2018, 05:17 AM)MagicHats Wrote: »Perhaps, by chance, they come upon something that rekindles hope in them, and could solve some problems in the (very) short term. Like rumors of others who have created a boat that'll get off the island soon. Or perhaps that something had survived against all odds. Hopeless moments are fine, but not in excess. Nothing spectacular, but something that is helpful.

Let's bring it beyond rumors. There are some problems with how I've defined the disaster so far, but I feel a good place to start would be providing a possible out-- like you mentioned, a boat.

As Dime, Belfry and Yaffenhash turn one last corner, beginning to hold onto each other for any form of support in the storm, they spot a sign that this island is likely doomed-- and that they might not be. Rocking violently in the freezing water by a sheer cliff is a vessel of scrap metal and wood, a sailboat, with tripodals swarming around, trying to get on, trying to get off, trying to push out from the island. One of the masts has been caught in a massive patch of vines and sea debris pelted against the hill by the cliff, and is trapping the whole of the thing to the island.

Yaffenhash takes a long breath, panting, and then shouts, "I'll tell the people at the factory there's a boat! You two get on!"

But Dime pokes at her meekly, bringing the both of them face to face, and says, "I'll do it. It's my fault. Please." His expression tells nothing if not sorrow. The reptilian stares at him a moment, and her own impulse to try and be good to these people falters-- there's no way she could bring herself to stop him.

"...Don't die," says Belfry, barely holding herself together.

The two old friends watch Dime begin to run back through the winding valley, pushing with his second and third wind and so on, as the flooding picks up and hope begins to drain. They then turn back to the ship and its orbiting chaos, and approach.

(05-20-2018, 01:27 PM)Dragon Fogel Wrote: »Right now, the pressure on them is immense, but also vague.

This, in a way, only strengthens it. It's much harder to solve a problem when you can't even define it. The disaster is real, but distant and uncertain. With so little information on what's actually happening, everyone is focused on their own personal fears.

What I'm getting at is, bring the problem closer, but also make it more specific. And, consequently, more solvable. We can move away from hopelessness by helping the group discover something meaningful they can do.

The air is a mess as they approach the seaboard, carrying pieces of other wreckage, discarded underwater foliage and even distended trees on the storm wind, pelting people as well as the boat, which barely holds together. Yaffenhash does her best to goad the remaining tripodals not yet onboard-- yelling things along the lines of 'the island is collapsing' and 'get on, or we're all dead'. For some, this is enough; for others, the sheer terror of boarding a vessel so unstable seems less preferable than weathering the storm, hoping it'll pass... somehow.

For others yet still, the reptilian's visage is enough to throw a punch at, and amidst the screeching downpour against stone and soil, insults are hurled. When Yaffenhash looks back, hoping for Belfry's modicum of support to get these people on board, she notices the blue-clothed girl has made her way on top of the deck, and is now ascending one of the masts, hands unsteady and body trembling.

There are no footholds, no notches in the wood; she climbs weakly, and the slippery scrap-wood mast isn't making it any easier. Yaffenhash boards at last, and starts calling to Belfry to stop... but nothing she can say will make Belfry cease. She needs to free that mast.

Not just for her, but for the life of everyone here. She is Refugian. She has to be. No matter how false the pretenses, she has grown up her whole life believing that she was the savior of something-- and it keeps her arms gripped tight around the wood another few meters.

But that could never be enough. For Belfry to succeed, she must further embrace her true role. No amount of belief can change reality; it can only push people to change their reality.

Just as she is about to fall, as her arms are about to fail, as she is about to plummet to a watery death, she morphs again; her reptilian roots are stronger than she could have imagined. In the span of a second, she has grown tendrils, spiked arms which latch around the mast comfortably, and allow her to continue ascending. As she reaches the ensnared section, being damaged by the rocks, her bodily morphing continues-- and her arms extend, six times their typical length, to undo the tangling.

Yaffenhash watches in awe. She doesn't much know what to say. How can the girl be in such denial of her true form while being so adept with using it?

There's no time for this question; just as the ship is flung back to a buoyant position, no longer trapped against the rocks, a massive piece of debris collides with Belfry's place on the mast, sending her plummeting to the deck beside Yaffenhash, unconscious.

...

Dime makes it back to the factory's entrance more worse for wear. His head is hung, his body is worn, and the ground is shaking like there's an earthquake-- but he knows it's worse than that. He pounds on the door desperately, and when he hears Puffy the Solemn yell out, "Fuck off! We're closed!", he just begs.

"Please," he huffs, "the island is collapsing, a-and there's a boat, and you need to g-get your people to it, and--"

"I said fuck off!"

He coughs up water. His body slumps on the metal door, and he pounds again. "I know it's happening because it's my fault, b-but if you let everyone in here die, that'll be your fault!"

The door slides open. People in the factory are huddled up; scared. The weather is making the lights flicker, and Puffy stands at the door, more frazzled than ever, rifle trained on Dime. "I ought to shoot you right here and now, you little cunt."

Dime has met so many people like this; products of their environment, focusing inward because looking at the broad world is too terrifying. He knows no amount of right-versus-wrong will work-- they will always assume he's wrong. His life has been spent at gunpoint. He just mutters, "You probably should. B-But you should also... s-save everyone else, too."

Behind him, a hillside collapses in on itself. There isn't much time.

The people inside look over the black-clothed man for a moment, glance at each other, and breathe in fright. Puffy says, "...Lead us to the boat. Now."

Journeying back through the flooded valley is more tough than ever before; the upward slopes are a slurry of water, flowing down and down and down, with the ground itself becoming watery like the seafloor. Dime leads the group of hundreds with no ounce of stability in his body, sobbing through the rain, as Puffy and Rocks poke him forth with the barrel of the rifle and a heap of 'encouraging' words. This is where Dime makes his decision: he is worth nothing. He is nothing. If he should die right after this, he'd be satisfied.

As they reach the cliff, stragglers from the group have been taken off by the storm, and the swaying boat attracts them like flies to a light: their only salvation. The mass approaches the vessel, with Dime slowing down as he approaches, desperate to be the last one aboard... and as tripodals rush by him to try and get to the deck before it drifts too far from the cliff, he feels a blow to his back; Puffy knocking him to the dirt with the butt of the rifle. No words are exchanged; the man is left face-first in mud, and doesn't make effort to get back up.

This is where it must end for him.

...

Yaffenhash clutches Belfry tightly. Her old friend is breathing-- barely. Limp and with eyes half-open, she fades slowly into her true form, her natural form... a reptilian. The few on deck who had seen Belfry's achievement to free the boat are astonished, confused, frantic, but none of that matters to Yaffenhash in this singular moment. She simply doesn't want to tear herself away. "Belfry?" she asks quietly. "Belfry, please..."

Refugees from the factory flood aboard, and a few slip into the sea three stories beneath to be crushed by the cliffside rocks. It's a free-for-all to get to safety, and as the island collapses in on itself, it becomes clear why. There are minutes to spare. And as the last tripodal from the mass comes aboard, Yaffenhash hasn't spotted Dime.

Terror wells up in her core.

The mountainous island rumbles and crumbles; the peaks fall inwards like they're made of plaster, and the sand descends into sea, drifting, drifting, gone. The cliff face becomes a landslide, and in sixty seconds, all that remains of the landmass is a pile of debris, sinking underwater.

The boat barely remains buoyant through this; held steady through lack of people working the sails, as everybody on board is still struggling for their own survival. Corpses drift amidst the rocks and floating soil, and all slowly, slowly falls further down. Dime is nowhere to be seen amidst the frantic bodies on the vessel, but Yaffenhash spots Puffy, still hoisting the firearm. Did he simply not make it...?

Still grasping Belfry tightly, the reptilian glances back at the disappearing island. Among the dozen bodies floating, distended in the cascading water, she spots one moving body-- it's Dime, squirming against the waves.

She calls out into the black, storming night, towards the tripodals which swarm the deck, for help. "There's somebody in the water-- h-he's still moving! There's still somebody in the water!"

There's an immediate response from people nearby, who heave their exhausted selves towards Yaffenhash, giving her an acidic look... but also spotting Dime, the small blip of black against sea. The one closest to the reptilian says, "There's no way. It's too crazy down there-- he's too far gone." He huffs slowly. "Sorry."

The world slows, for a moment. Amidst the downpour, Yaffenhash spends what feels like an eternity staring into Belfry's weak gaze. She's barely conscious, exhausted, laid flat on her back. For a brief moment, Yaffenhash considers staying here-- letting the man drown. But at the darkest moment of everything, when there wasn't hope, Belfry had saved her. The girl would have moved the world for one life who wasn't even on her side-- and Dime was somebody else deserving of that compassion.

She leans down, whispers, "I'll be back in a sec, kid," and turns to leap off into the water.

(05-20-2018, 05:16 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »and here, through the tears, our characters find a camaderie.

Yaffenhash wades through the water. She never was a particularly great swimmer, but she also never was blessed with much ability to shapeshift, and so she had to learn from scratch-- and she pushes every last ounce of herself forth in the icy surface.

The landmass pulls itself down and yanks foliage and debris with it. One wrong move, and her foot will get caught, and it'll all be brought down into the murky deep, never to be seen again. Still, she moves. Still, she moves. Still, she moves.

The wind beats down. Dime is an infinite distance away, and the stormclouds begin piling on the surface above her, driving her head underwater, forcing it down, down, down--

Still, she moves.

Arm over arm, arm over arm, head under, head over, head under; gasp for breath, get only water half the time, gasp, screech, beg, scream, move. Still, she moves. Still, she moves.

Dime's body is cold and shivering in its coldness. His mouth droops open and no noise comes out. She wraps one arm around him, and with the boat feeling miles away, begins to paddle back, sobbing in pain from the freezing cold, sobbing in terror that this is how it all ends-- this is how it all ends.

Still, she moves.

The towering wooden side of the boat goes up into infinity; she feels her lower half grow numb and Dime hold tightly against her for any modicum of safety, but she can't provide it. The waves crash up against them and put them in cyclical torrents underwater, and they surface for only moments to breathe, and scream, and breathe, and scream. They scream for help in unison, their limbs entangled and their bodies dying in front of their eyes.

A minute passes. The ship creaks as it begins to move. Yaffenhash's vision begins to dim, and Dime becomes completely limp.

Still, she screams. She puts out every atom of energy which has ever existed in her, breaks apart, and keeps screaming a while after that, too.

Finally, their terror is heard.

In those dying moments, Yaffenhash sees Belfry lean over the deck, her form so faint against the darkening everything; her arm extends down, down, down, pushing itself further and further, morphing into the form of a rope, then a rope ladder. The blue-clothed reptilian yelps in pain from the transformation, but in that one, singular, all-powerful moment, she maintains it.

Yaffenhash grips with one weak arm, and Dime wraps his weight around, and the two begin to ascend out of the deep.

...

They are all starved for breath, for anything solid to hang on to. As Yaffenhash leans back on the deck's railing, arms wrapped around Dime for shared warmth, Belfry joins in the embrace. They lack words to speak, and in spite of everything, they hold each other as the only support in an endless storm. The ship picks up, and begins to move from its spot in the remains of what was once land.

(05-20-2018, 05:39 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »There is a temporary solution to their danger.
The lizard people never planned on staying here forever, they had ways to leave set aside for later.
There were vessels made, to take them back and forth from a relay station hidden among the clouds.
Or if a vessel was unavailable, they could fly to it. In a pinch, anyways.
They would even take non-lizard people with them, a sort of truce in this terrible time.
The difficulty was finding a ride there, or at least discovering where the station was at that moment.
If they were lucky, they might even see one such vessel heading off into the skies.

Morning comes.

The ship is a boarding vessel: cardboarding. Much of the surface is occupied with vast, low-level cardboard generators, which face up into the moonlight. Space has been cleared for the several hundred refugees, and the ship's crew roam around, retrieving everybody's information.

When the first mate comes across Yaffenhash, holding a sleeping Dime and exhausted Belfry in the corner of a room by the main tower, she's appalled with the appearance of two reptillians, and immediately draws a baton. Yaffenhash raises an arm slowly, pleading her to stop. "Th-this lady got your ship free from the island," she coughs, motioning towards Belfry. "We're just trying to get somewhere safe. We d-don't mean any harm."

And, for the moment, this suffices, with some uproar from other members of the crew.

An hour later, as the sun begins to enter its midpoint in the scarlet sky, there's some commotion outside, and a mass of people gathers around one end of the deck. Yaffenhash briefly leaves her two exhausted companions to see what it's all about, and as she's on her feet again, she remarks at just how much she exerted herself.

She's never put forth that much energy towards... anyone. And having the man, living and breathing in her arms, was a nice feeling that she never thought she'd deserved. It's not clear to her what this means in the grand scheme of things... but something feels like it's changed.

Yaffenhash limps towards the crowd, peeking over it, and spots something familiar, if a bit jarring: one of her people's Refuse Vessels, for taking reptilians from ground to sky, to bases hidden far in the clouds, in case of an event of this scale.

This is a sizable dilemma. As she walks back weakly to the room in the corner of the ship where Dime and Belfry rest, there's a burning question in her mind:

What next?
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#40
RE: Ghostwriter
she has to get everyone on that vessel, come hell or literal high water. but it's pulse that steps up to the plate
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#41
RE: Ghostwriter
(05-21-2018, 01:52 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »she has to get everyone on that vessel, come hell or literal high water. but it's pulse that steps up to the plate

Pulse? A new character, or am I misunderstanding?
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#42
RE: Ghostwriter
(05-21-2018, 03:18 AM)kilozombie Wrote: »
(05-21-2018, 01:52 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »she has to get everyone on that vessel, come hell or literal high water. but it's pulse that steps up to the plate

Pulse? A new character, or am I misunderstanding?

sorry. puffy. i always get the first letter and number of letters right!
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#43
RE: Ghostwriter
I suppose it's alright there wasn't much response to this one; there wasn't a lot of room given to you all. I will try and give more freedom next time-- this ought not be just my story, after all.

Writing this is fun. However, I think we ought wrap the story up in not too long, here. These characters are rapidly becoming rich with details, and I'm antsy to see them realized. I'm also... losing a bit of steam. You might have noticed-- I went to grab a drink, and took a brief pause.

(05-21-2018, 04:33 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »sorry. puffy. i always get the first letter and number of letters right!

Oh, don't be sorry. I'm honestly the same way; it takes a lot of backtracking to ensure names are correct, especially Yaffenhash. I've never been good with titles of any kind.

(05-21-2018, 01:52 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »she has to get everyone on that vessel, come hell or literal high water. but it's puffy that steps up to the plate

Yaffenhash turns the corner, and raises her voice, entire body perked up. "Hey, hey... both of you, you're gonna wanna get up. We might have to move soon."

Belfry and Dime are in dire straits, but support one another with their weight; stand, breathe, walk. "Alright," says Belfry softly, "just don't ask me to fly again." Her taller reptilian counterpart can't help but laugh, nod, and share in that barely-alive expression for one more moment. She spots Dime grin faintly.

"Hey!" calls Yaffenhash, poking her head over the crowd of tripodals watching the massive, bulky thing escape the sea upward. "Listen! I know what you probably think, but that ship is everyone's only chance, now. That's the reptilian vessel, headed to the skies. We're not safe on the open ocean."

Not many faces tilt to see her. Most discard the words of a snake. Puffy the Solemn, however, turns completely, his bitter form ready to throw a punch... but then he spots Dime, his face meek but his body upright, standing next to the reptilian. He pauses a moment, and locks eyes with Dime, staring intently, thinking so very many things all at once. His gaze dances between the slightly exasperated Yaffenhash to the exhausted Belfry to the blank-faced Dime, and he takes a long breath, putting it all together.

Yes, this is a group of miscreants, and yes, they've been a pain to try and argue with, and yes, he did just try and kill Dime. But he supposes they're the reason he's still here, and as they worked together in frantic unison last night, he also supposes they've all got the same goal in mind.

"...Listen to'er, all of you," he mutters. Isn't loud enough. He turns around, clasps Rocks by the shoulder, and shouts, "Listen to 'er! Get this fuckin' ship moving to that wart in the sky before it's too far gone!"

His wife argues, the captain argues. Puffy argues louder. He's not particularly great at arguing. But amidst his frantic pointing at Yaffenhash and raised, booming, angry voice, he makes some decent points. Even a vessel of this size with cardboard generating endlessly will never produce enough to feed the number of refugees aboard-- and, besides, what if another storm comes? "You saw what happened to the fuckin' island," Puffy shouts. "I don't wanna be on a flimsy boat when the sea gets hungry again!"

"I know you get seasick, drear," Rocks mutters. "That's all this is."

"This is everyone's lives at stake! I don't trust lizards any more than any of you, but if these three little shits wanted us sunk or dead, they'd have already done it."

Belfry lets out a cough, then steps forth. "I freed the mast from the island last night." Dry-heave. Barely steady. "...a-and I don't... really know about this plan, either, but it's a good shot to get out of here."

The people of the ship relent after five minutes; by then, the ship has begun to lift off. However, beneath the waves, more of it reveals itself... the lizards' vessel is tall, and it has been underwater for quite some time. The crew shift the masts, the boat slowly swerves, and they begin to bee-line.

(05-20-2018, 05:16 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »and when they finally sink under... they see that what has been created in all these drownings is an Atlantis situation

Yaffenhash holds herself together.

"Most reptilians aren't great at shapeshifting into mobile creatures," she says, leaning against a mast for support. "Especially not avian. The best most can do is fish-- fast-moving, hard to detect from the surface. So the contingency if anything goes wrong is..."

Dime speaks up, sat on one of the deck's small steps. "S-So you've all been hiding underwater this whole time?"

"Not exactly," Yaffenhash mutters. "But it's a place to rest up before lifting off into the clouds. That one's tall-- we'll make it in time, I think."

Puffy lowers his brow. "Sure. What's the plan after that? What do we do, ram it?"

The reptilian simply shrugs. "That'd probably be enough to breach and get people inside. Somebody would have to get up to one of the higher levels and keep it ascending, else somebody might disable it-- good of the people, or whatever the hell."

"What," Belfry says softly, resting her head against the side of the tall wooden railing, "so y-you just don't care about th-these people anymore? Y-You're just okay with... fighting them?"

"I don't know." Yaffenhash takes a long breath. "...I've got a lot to think about. I'm realizing just how little they've actually prepared for refugees in case of something like this. I think we've got to focus on the people who we've got here, above all else. Once we're up in the sky, we can start thinking of bigger-scale plans."

The boat pushes through waves at impressive pace; sea wind pushes past each person's body, and the bobbing grows in intensity. The gigantic structure continues to lift out of the water, propelled by forces unknown-- but its wide walls can be seen, like a murky-blue target amidst dirty sky.

Puffy huffs. "Okay, so you gotta get somebody to... keep somethin' enabled. Upper floors. There's gonna be lizards in the way?" He pats the slung firearm over his backside.

"Yes," says Yaffenhash. "We'll need somebody to go up to do that, maybe a few people. It'd be great if you didn't hurt anyone, as a note."

After composing himself, Dime speaks out suddenly, lifting up his body and standing on not-too-sure legs. "I'll come."

Behind him, Puffy simply chuckles. "Let's not."

"I'm a cop," Dime stammers. "I... got training. Not much, b-but this is my job. Sh-should've been my job the whole time."

"No shit," says Puffy. His brow lowers again-- textbook move. "You don't look it."

"Yeah, I've gotten that a lot."

The plan comes into focus in the five minutes before impact. The boat's utilities are shifted to act as boarding rails, and the speed of both the ship and treacherous wind picks up. Puffy organizes the handful of tripodals willing to enter first, and hands out some of the ship's harpoon guns-- though Dime refuses the offer with a chuckle, pointing at the holster on his right side. Subtle enough. "Stun gun," he says softly. "They didn't ever let me carry a real one, which was... p-probably good."

"Works even after it's been in the water?"

Dime nods. "People on i-islands like waterproofing, turns out."

They ready at the front of the ship, with the mast facing forth like a battering ram. The gigantic vessel continues lifting, with no apparent notice of their incoming arrival-- and it seems they've got the drop on them.

Puffy stands at the very head, with Dime beside him. After a moment of consideration, he mutters, "Sorry for trying to kill you, kid."

"It's alright," Dime huffs. "Sorry for ending the world."

"Eh, well. We all screw up sometimes."

Belfry and Yaffenhash rest on each other's weight at the center of the ship. It's been some years since they've done something so rash together, and it's exciting the both of them, even through the pain and tension. The vessel rockets through water, and their target begins to loom over the entire crew, all watching in awe, hands ready to do something, but nothing in particular.

"So what do we do?" Belfry asks weakly.

"Get inside and survive," Yaffenhash assures her.

"...But what else?"

The reptilians hold each other close for a moment as the taller of the two mutters, "Hope this works, I suppose."

Twenty seconds to impact.

Fifteen.

Ten.

Five...

...

...

What happens in this ensuing chaos? Where are they going next?

Perhaps more importantly: what is 'endgame'?
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#44
RE: Ghostwriter
well of course they succeed, that's the grand catharsis. but now they're drifting through space, and that's where we shall leave them
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#45
RE: Ghostwriter
There's one question I still have, though perhaps it's outside our scope.

What's on the "other side" of the cardboard? What's sending things out into the world - including the current apocalypse? The vague answer is "one or more Gods", but surely there are more details to be learned.

Maybe our cast will start to wrestle with that question, once they get a little more settled and are able to concern themselves with matters beyond immediate survival.
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#46
RE: Ghostwriter
As you said, it would be chaos.
The ship was already packed with more citizens than it could safely carry, and the sudden hole as the cardboard vessel breached the ship would throw the already unbalanced ship further off tilt.
The crew had enough trouble as it was keeping the ship on course, they would have no time to deal with the hole created.
The ship would still reach the station, but it would be a rough landing.

On the station, there would be a steady trickle of lizard people boarding spacecraft to head home. The stations resources were already being strained to the limits from the refugees, and it was clear that it would take time for the lizard people homeworlds to send aid. Already high tension would begin to raise further, threatening to boil over at any time.

Meanwhile, a vessel sent by the refugians would continue its journey through space, utterly unawares of the events on chiron following the beacon. There would be a lingering concern over the communication silence, the beacon sending only the one message. Concern over who was out there to find and use the beacon. An uncomfortable awareness that it was a very, very long time ago that the only prior vessel to visit chiron was an unmanned drone.
SpoilerShow
Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
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#47
RE: Ghostwriter
(05-22-2018, 03:52 AM)Dragon Fogel Wrote: »There's one question I still have, though perhaps it's outside our scope.

What's on the "other side" of the cardboard? What's sending things out into the world - including the current apocalypse? The vague answer is "one or more Gods", but surely there are more details to be learned.

Maybe our cast will start to wrestle with that question, once they get a little more settled and are able to concern themselves with matters beyond immediate survival.

I... apologize. I enjoy this question very much, but sometimes I can't help but feel it's almost a bit too late to be asking it. It's not that these characters have finished their story-- it's that they are ready to be plucked out of it, at least for our purposes. Of course, the process means they will remain in the nickel, safe and sound, to finish out the arc. And I think it'll be very exciting for them, and they'll have quite the time.

So of course it's an important question to ask-- but, again, I apologize if I seem a bit rushed in answering it, and if the fruits of its labor do not show up in our escapade together.

I think it would be quite interesting if the cardboard was, in of itself, linked to Refugia. Perhaps it's an inverse of some negative force on the planet, or it is stealing things actively from the people there-- but regardless of the exact rules of this engagement, there is great power at stake. It'd be very interesting for the cast if Dime's choice to break the original Box had some sort of a cascade effect, and perhaps leads to a more fulfilling wrap-up at the end.

It is a shame to see him so depressed over... what he did. I'm hesitant to say 'choice'. We were too far in control at that point.

I don't always like to have things end nicely-- feels old hat. But I am an empathetic person, I promise you. Sometimes people believe I am not an empathetic person because of my line of work, but if I weren't desperate to understand and relate to the experiences of other conscious beings, I would not have this job, and I would not enjoy this job so much. I like the small storylines to have basis in reality-- that is, they don't always go the way an unseen hand wants it to.

But for this adventure, it has been essential. Much of the dialogue and scenery I relay to you through prose was developed naturally, but there had to be pokes and prods, here and there. Consciousness, like any organism, needs support when it is young.

Now, these four strike me as rather developed on their own front. They don't need me anymore.

As my impatient parent used to say:

Let's get to the part where the ghosts dance.

(05-22-2018, 12:57 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »As you said, it would be chaos.
The ship was already packed with more citizens than it could safely carry, and the sudden hole as the cardboard vessel breached the ship would throw the already unbalanced ship further off tilt.
The crew had enough trouble as it was keeping the ship on course, they would have no time to deal with the hole created.
The ship would still reach the station, but it would be a rough landing.
(05-22-2018, 03:34 AM)☆ C.H.W.O.K.A ☆ Wrote: »well of course they succeed, that's the grand catharsis. but now they're drifting through space, and that's where we shall leave them

Where we shall leave them, but they shall not leave us.

The ram is a success, but an ugly one. The metallic wall caves in with the force of the boat, and the boat caves forth with the force of the metallic wall; all things being equal, destruction is at its highest magnitude. With a handful of tripodal soldiers, Puffy and Dime storm into the entrance while water bursts forth, encountering a small gathering of half-transformed, terrified reptilians. With weak unison, they progress up ramps and stairs and passageways, threatening though not shooting groups of these lizards, one after another, one after another-- before reaching the top floor, where they take the final smattering hostage, and stand by the generator for the vessel's lifting mechanism.

Yaffenhash and Belfry work beyond their capabilities to hold the boat together and move its crew inside the vessel-- with Belfry expending more energy expanding and gripping the boat and metal together to prevent them from falling apart, to Yaffenhash grabbing two or three tripodals at a time and throwing them into the safety of the vessel before it completely takes off. The ship is lifting up like it's backwards-sinking, now, and the two reptilians do their best to make sure not a single soul is left behind-- as it snaps in half, and begins to descend into the icy, sapphire-colored water. Their efforts are not in vain, but it's a close one-- and dozens of tripodals are injured badly getting on.

The reptilians, besides Yaffenhash and Belfry, are taken hostage. They have few words to say that Yaffenhash couldn't already tell the tripodals, and the six dozen of them crowd together in a large holding cell near the bottom floor, right above flooded levels.

The large gash is sealed by a manual airlock system-- and once again, the immense vessel is closed up to the rest of the world. As the bottom finally lifts out of water, the couple-hundred refugees of a dying planet are safe... and elevating.

But even in this manufactured safety, it isn't over yet. The station has a stockpile to feed its normal capacity- a hundred reptilian souls- for a few weeks, on its way to their homeworld. But with so many new arrivals, and the existing crew, well...

(05-22-2018, 12:57 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »On the station, there would be a steady trickle of lizard people boarding spacecraft to head home. The stations resources were already being strained to the limits from the refugees, and it was clear that it would take time for the lizard people homeworlds to send aid. Already high tension would begin to raise further, threatening to boil over at any time.

The trickle has stopped by now, sure. But as the ship lifts off, Yaffenhash realizes that they won't have a chance feeding so many people. There's some leniency in the food supplies-- but not enough to feel safe about. She orders the vessel stopped a dozen meters above the sea, and returns to the holding cell, where she's stared at as betrayer by so many of her kind.

"Listen," she says. "I know all of you can find another ship to take off. But these people can't. And worst case..."

A small hatch at the back of the cell slides open by Yaffenhash's command. "...you can survive in the sea."

There is protest. There is backlash. But she has dealt with worse, she has managed through worse-- and with threat of more imminent punishment, she manages to goad the lizards off the ship. They won't have great chances out in the world, directionless. For many, this ship was the only one they had any inclination about. But that isn't her problem.

It just can't be her problem, now.

(05-22-2018, 12:57 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »It's difficult to say what the endgame should be.
From the scope of this story, the natural endpoint would be after our characters survive the apocalypse, and find a firm footing once more. The end of book one, as it were.

But were the story to instead continue into book two, there is plenty of room for a story of tension between the tripod refugees and the lizard people.
And of course the refugians arrival at the end of THIS story would make for a workable cliffhanger.
I suppose then it might be a matter of if we need our current characters to partake in book two.
With their survival handled, we could pluck them from the end of book one easily enough.
And if needed, could come back to the setting in the future. As a whole it seems stable enough that with a bit of care, it could produce ghosts for quite some time.

This is my thinking, as well.

Their interactions with the lizard people will not stop, of course. But for now, there is time to rest.

Bedding already existed in the ship, but now it is divvied up and spread out for the couple-hundred people who need it. Tripodals carve out niches in the corners of the ship, and with Yaffenhash's assurance that they'll make it with proper rationing, they take a collective breath of relief.

She sits next to Belfry, at last, sipping at some hot water. Dime and Puffy both rest on an opposite wall, exchanging a few words, largely positive. Yaffenhash says, "We'll be to the moon in a couple of days."

"Thing can't go any faster?" Puffy harrumphs.

"Starships are expensive-- this thing just pushes."

Belfry takes a long gulp, then sets her cup down. "What do we do when we get there, exactly?"

With a shrug, Dime replies. "We n-need to get them to f-fix Chiron. A-And... help the people trapped on i-it. It doesn't s-seem like they were planning on s-saving any tripodals. There's probably lots of p-people on the sea..."

"Boats are probably the only thing that survived," Yaffenhash concludes. "You know, there were a lot of boats around the island you two used to live on-- I'm guessing there were plenty of survivors."

Puffy the Solemn chuckles. "See, Dime, you're not a complete fuck-up."

Dime laughs weakly. Still a bit too early for him to joke about it, but... the hope's nice. The hope is a point of reassurance.

The ship is sailing off into sky. We've done some minor rewriting-- the destination is not in the clouds, but on the planet's glowing moon. Perhaps it acts as a relay for Refugia's power, tilting it to face the cardboard boxes and making them function... it's hard to exactly know, and perhaps it is part of the mystery they will discover in the second half of their adventure.

But I believe, for our purpose, they are ready.

As Belfry, Dime, Yaffenhash, and Puffy all drift off in tune with their typical solar rhythm, we take a moment to decide whether or not to extract these ghosts, here and now. As you all have had a large hand in their creation, I pass off the final verdict to you.

Yes?
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#48
RE: Ghostwriter
I think we're good. I vote Yes.
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#49
RE: Ghostwriter
Belfry, Dime. Those two are, if not ready, very close. They may be extracted.
Yaffenhash will be delayed, but just a bit. She could use a bit more to her character, but I suspect given a bit more time that will resolve itself without needing additional outside influence.
Puffy, hm. I feel Puffy should stay here a while longer. They haven't had quite as much time to develop as a character compared to the other three, and having a semi-familiar character to return to would ease the introduction to book two.
Quiet. Good for an unusual opinion. Doesn't talk much.
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#50
RE: Ghostwriter
(05-22-2018, 07:26 PM)Arcanuse Wrote: »Belfry, Dime. Those two are, if not ready, very close. They may be extracted.
Yaffenhash will be delayed, but just a bit. She could use a bit more to her character, but I suspect given a bit more time that will resolve itself without needing additional outside influence.
Puffy, hm. I feel Puffy should stay here a while longer. They haven't had quite as much time to develop as a character compared to the other three, and having a semi-familiar character to return to would ease the introduction to book two.

As a note, don't worry too much about 'extraction' in the literal sense. For the purpose of the ongoing story, they will continue to exist. Sometimes for a nickel, they are transferred wholesale, but as this is a bit interim, they'll be treated as being copied.

Unless we'd particularly like to remove them from the setting, that is. I am open to many things.
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