Four beings suddenly found themselves nowhere, able to see one another but nothing else. A synthesized voice came out of the nothing surrounding them.
“Bother. I - I thought I was somewhere else. My apologies, chaps. Anyway, let’s - let’s see if we can’t move on, shall we? What do we have here?
“First off, we have the mighty warrior, Drake Aborith. He is on a mission...from God! Well, a god; the god of prophecy, in fact. This strapping young fellow’s the centerpiece of a fantastic prophecy: that he will defeat a great evil! Unfortunately he hasn’t quite managed to find it yet.”
“And while we’re on the subject of a great evil, meet Lillian, crime against humanity! She’s an absolutely normal teenaged girl, aside from the blowhole, carbon-nanotube spine, twice as many limbs as is generally normal, super senses, super strength, super biological processes, lizard physique...all right, perhaps she looks a little odd, but none of you judge by appearance, you hear? She’s as human as you or...I, I’d suppose. She’s human inside. Also, she tastes nice.”
“Of course, genetic tampering isn’t the only way to achieve transhumanism. Professor Ada Hanmarian is a professor of robotics, and her life is devoted to building robot suits! She carries a gauntlet with her, and from what I’ve heard, you chaps should be careful if she points that thing at you. You’ll end up deaf or dead, is the impression I got here.”
"On the note of dead, Murphy Roths! He isn’t. Dead, that is. It’s going to be a right job killing him, in fact, since he can regenerate quite a bit of bodily harm, to the point where his limbs can pop right off and he’ll grow a new one, as good as the old! There’s a temper on this one, and impulse control worse than a magpie in a treasury.”
Generating Setting... Done.
The four generated characters suddenly found themselves moved, scattered in various locations around an empty factory floor.
“Well, ahem, you chaps, this is the assembly floor of Artificer’s Alley! The workers here aren’t just factory line automatons, oh no - they build things on their own, and begrudgingly sell things on demand! They are all artisans, craftsmen, and...not here at the moment! Get acquainted, but don’t dilly-dally; the morning shift starts soon!
"Of course, I’ll make that caveat I always do - ultimately, you’re here to compete! Fight amongst yourselves! And when one of you chaps end up dying, the rest of us will all go someplace else! Now, pip pip! Off you go!"
Pick Yer Poison: Drake Aborith - #999900
Elize: Lillian - 36536F
some blatherskite: PROFESSOR ADA HANMARIAN - #006400
Solaris: Murphy Roths - #FFBF00 on #770000
Username: Pick Yer Poison Name: Drake Aborith Gender: Male Race: Human Colour: #999900 Biography: The call of destiny for Drake, a simple foot soldier in the king's army, came at a fortuitous moment. The tide of the rebellion was slowly but inexorably pressing the royal army back, and the relative casualties were becoming more and more one-sided. Drake, beaten and bruised, fighting a losing battle with all his might, had no illusions about his life expectancy. Others said he'd led a charmed life, having narrowly escaped several slaughters through a mix of ingenuity and sheer happenstance, but when a swing from his halberd clanged against the enemy's shield and threw him off his balance, he knew his time was up. The foe did as well, and brought his sword down for the killing blow.
Both were caught off guard when a golden shaft of sunlight enveloped Drake. His wounds vanished and divine strength flowed through his veins; acting involuntarily, he swatted the sword aside, ignoring the gash it left on his hand, and thrust his halberd at his foe. Miraculously, it slipped past his guard, and the point pierced his armor and punctured a vital organ somewhere, making him cry out in pain. Drake pressed his foot to the man's stomach and shoved him off, pulling his halberd free in a spray of blood. The fighting around them had ceased as those within view gaped in awe at the brilliant golden spotlight shining on Drake. The lull lasted only a few moments. Drake, acting on an instinct he hadn't had before, flowed smoothly to the next-nearest foe, slashing and stabbing in perfect rhythm, before moving on to the next, and the one after that, and so on, cutting a swath of deific fury through the battlefield, until every foe who had not fled was vanquished.
Before he had even begin wiping the sweat and blood from his face, a messenger from the king's temple to Efneroe, the god of prophecy, arrived and told him that he had been sent three days ago to deliver a summons to the temple. Mystified but hoping for answers, Drake rode back to the temple, and upon arrival was pushed into the altar alone and told to pray for a revelation. He was unsure how to ask for guidance, having prayed to the god of war for nearly a decade now, but fortunately for him, Efneroe was already waiting. Drake learned that the time of a great evil was coming, and Drake had been chosen as the righteous warrior to defeat it. To this end, Efneroe had granted him the use of his right arm, in the form of his now-divine halberd. As he rose back up to the heavens, Efneroe warned Drake that, while he was the only one who would be able to defeat the foreseen evil, to do so would come at a great cost. By the time Drake's thoughts caught up with the circumstances, Efneroe was beyond the reach of his questions.
Drake emerged from the temple a confused but determined man. He spent the next few years seeking out everything resembling a great evil that he could find, only to find himself one step behind each time. Every time he showed up on the scene, he was just a little too late, ranging from would-be necromancer having his own minions turn on him days before Drake even arrived at the tower, to reaching a dragon's lair just in time to see the final blow struck by a determined knight. Each time, he would doubt the prophecy's choice, only to find his determination renewed a few days later as word of a new threat reached his ears, sending him off on another wild goose chase. It was during one such wild goose chase, while he was on the trail of a reported dark lord, that he simply vanished off the face of the planet.
Description: Drake stands at just under six feet, with blue eyes and long, unkempt black hair. His face has a haggard appearance about it, and his eyes occasionally get a very distant look to them. To look at him, one would place him in his early thirties.
Items/Abilities: Drake wears a dark grey traveler's cloak on top of leather armor. However, this is more for comfort than it is for protection - as the chosen warrior of prophecy, Drake cannot die until the prophecy has been fulfilled. However, this does not mean he cannot be injured - just that he will always make a full recovery, regardless of physical possibility.
Drake's weapon of choice, the Arm of Efneroe, is a magic halberd imbued with power by the god of prophecy. In a fight, it generally takes the best of all possible paths - a strike will find the one chink in the enemy's armor, a stab will slip just past the foe's shield, an unlikely block will just barely hold. Many surviving foes have attested that, in the heat of battle, the blade appears surrounded by golden fire. Like most divine weapons, it is unbreakable and never wears out.
Username: Elize Name: Lillian Gender: Female Race: Genetically modified posthuman Colour: 36536f Biography: After amazing breakthroughs in genetic research in the early 22nd century, designer organisms became something of a fad among the eccentric and fabulously wealthy. Lillian was one such organism. She was created by the esteemed rapper, jetski skydiving enthusiast, conservative news pundit, and two-time presidential nominee Kray Billington while he was in one of his psuedophilosophical moods. He intended to answer what he considered to be the foremost failings of human biology and psychology, though in truth she was the biggest crime he had committed against both since at least the week prior.
The designer organism fad was over within a year, and within another year Kray was wondering why he was still paying to keep the little eight-limbed freak fed instead of more important things his money could go to, like research into robots who were even better at sex than the robots he was already having sex with. Lillian was dumped into the Ke$ha Memorial School for Girls, where she grew to semi-adulthood. Like most smart, ugly girls, she channeled her immense mental prowess into learning how to surf the neuralink wireless web without teachers noticing and how to pretend she was too good for all the boys that thought she was too freaky to talk to. Description: The first thing you'd probably notice about Lillian is that she's got about four too many limbs. Each limb is long and gangly, splayed from her body like a lizard's, and ends in a roughly human hand with calloused pads on the knuckles where she walks. The pair of arms in the front are a bit smaller and nimbler than the others, and are the ones she primarily uses to manipulate objects. While she can walk on two limbs about as easily as a human can, she typically walks on four, using more or less depending on whether she's going for speed or more manipulating appendages. Her body is about twice as long as an average human's torso, and is supported by a very flexible naturally-forming carbon nanotube spine. Her face is actually rather pretty, modeled after a famous actress from the time, but that fact only seems to accentuate the weirdness of the rest of her. She keeps her black hair cropped a bit above shoulder-length, short enough to access the neuralink computer she had grafted into the back of her neck, but long enough to hide the blowhole she breathes through.
Personality-wise, she's about what you'd expect from a teenaged girl who's too smart for her own good. She loves drama almost as much as she loves claiming she hates drama. She likes to play video games through her neuralink, but secretly resents the lack of sufficient customizability on most games' human avatars. Her attention span is criminally short and she has a hard time remembering names and faces, especially since she can just instantly look them up on the military-industrial-social-media conglomerates anyway. Breaking from her peers a bit, she's not a very big fan of Electrofuck, the current trendy musical genre among other teens in the 22nd century; she prefers century-old classical music, like David Guetta and Skrillex. But perhaps most importantly, she's got a human brain, which expects a human body. Sure, genetic tampering has unlocked the ability to perform complex mathematical operations in her head, but that's more of a hack of the existing hardware. She still looks out at her human compatriots and thinks, somewhere in a primal part of her, that she's supposed to be like them. She still looks out at the human boys around her school and finds them attractive. And, at the end of the day, she goes back home and looks in the mirror, and she still sees a monster. Items/Abilities: Lillian's got a plethora of abilities that set her apart from normal humans. A high-density, high-efficiency muscular system gives her the strength to lift a car. A skeleton made of carbon nanostructures makes her exceptionally light and durable. Her immune system, digestive system, respiratory system, and everything else has been artificially overclocked, meaning she eats rarely, can hold her breath for extended periods, is more or less immune to disease, and can survive moderately high or low temperatures without harm. Minor cuts and bruises heal in a matter of minutes rather than days, but severe trauma is still life-threatening. Her eyesight and sense of hearing are phenomenal. She's quick and flexible, physically and mentally, but hasn't really made use of these qualities in any meaningful way yet in her life. Her brain is also wired directly to a computer at the back of her neck. This computer's functionality is severely limited in the absence of a compatible wireless signal, but still contains a few useful apps that function offline as well as some of her favorite games, music, and movies.
AUTHOR: some blatherskite
CHARACTER: PROFESSOR ADA HANMARIAN
DESCRIPTION: Aside from her unlady-like physique and tousled brunette hair done in a sort of half-assed ponytail, she seems more or less like an average woman albeit with just enough self-esteem to disregard her personal image. It is true that she could hardly care less what others think of her, but to say she were average would be a terrible mistake.
As a female robotics professor in a society which finds that strange, she tends to hide her occupation and her intelligence behind a well-calculated veil of ignorance and profanity. Actually, to say it were well-calculated would also be a terrible mistake. She just kind of throws that shit together.
Dressed in the forest green coat and curdoroys that speak of her lack of fashion sense, she is ready to face the world.
ABILITIES: She has quite an impressive mind, though she'd never admit it and would probably deal you a more impressive verbal flogging for thinking so. Surprisingly, her denial of her own intelligence hasn't held her back in the field of robotics. Namely she has made landmark improvements in robotic equipment designed to be piloted in combat situations. In layman's terms, she's trying to make robot suits. At the moment her favorite invention is a hulking gauntlet equipped with some basic weaponry and with more than enough support for rough and tumble pugilism.
It also comes with a microphone and sound system, so if you see her talking in your direction, cover your ears.
BIO: PROFESSOR ADA HANMARIAN DID SCIENCE UNTIL SHE DIDN'T BECAUSE SHE WAS IN A BATTLE
yeah might change that later
Name: Murphy Roths Gender: Male Race: Human(???) Color: #FFBF00 on #770000 Biography: "Oh come on now, don't cause any trouble."
"We're beyond trouble, I'm gunna pound this little smug shit's face in!" "Oh come on, I was doin yer mum a favor, I can't imagine someone who birthed yer ugly mug gets alota visits of the sort."
The Barkeep knew that this was going to be it, he tried to diffuse the situation but it looked like once more he was going to clean blood as well as the usual bile, sweat, and tears. He sighed. It's times like these I wish that Murph would just keep his mouth shut. Can't blame him though, not after all that's been done to him.
Murphy, the shorter of the two combatants, and the dirtier of the two, was going on his typical 'drunken' rantings, holding a bottle of beer in one hand, and swinging the other wildly. The other patron, a large bald man, didn't take kindly to the formers laissez-faire attitude to his threats, and decided to take his first drunken swing.
The brute was surprised to see his fist miss, and more surprised to drop to the floor from his momentum. If the drunk had a better handle on his mental functions, he would have noted and questioned how someone who had to be drunker than he was somehow dodged his punch. Instead, he looked at the lazy eyed idiot, and upon seeing his smile, threw another punch.
In retrospect, Murphy should have seen that coming, but as hindsight is 20-20, rather than continue his teasing of the drunks, he was treated to a fist in his face that ended up going a bit farther than the puncher had expected.
As the brute's fist connected, he felt a tinge of satisfaction at an idiot successfully shown who's boss, that moment lasted as long as it took for him to realize that his fist hadn't stopped at Murphy's face. A flurry of emotions, ranging from fear to disgust, filled the brute as he realized that he had punched Murphy's face right off. Luckily, before he could process the scenario fully, someone broke a beer bottle over his head, knocking him out.
After the brute was seated with his face on the counter and a few more beers lying around, giving the impression of him having passed out, the barkeep looked around to make sure that no one saw that, then, upon confirming that the coast was clear, addressed the slightly headless Murphy, "Why do you even come here if you are just going to pick fights with my other patrons? Eventually someone's going to find out, and then where will you be?"
Murphy's head slowly grew back, returning to the ragged, smiling mug that had just been punched, "Hey, I pay my tab and I haven't been caught yet, so I dun see what yer so worried about."
After a few moments of silent glaring, he sighed, "Look, tanks fer all yer help, I really preciate it, I'll try not to be such a bother."
"That's all I ask."
Murphy took his bottle and raised it to the barkeep, "A toast?"
Description: Murphy is a short man with black, long, wispy hair, that covers his dull, brown eyes. He's got a crooked smile and a small layer of facial hair on his chin. His ragged clothes are a white tee under a grey buttoned shirt under a large jacket and ripped jeans. He avoids wearing shoes if he can.
Murphy himself can be called a bit dulled, he isn't always the quickest to respond, and he prefers to think simple and passive. He's usually willing to turn the other cheek but sometimes he comes off as cocky or smug. He has some loose lips, but when he has to keep a secret, he keeps it. For the most part, Murphy is aimless, just getting by, but if he gets it in his head to do something, he will do it. If, god forbid, you get him angry, there is no saving you.
It is difficult to pinpoint Murphy's intelligence level, as he both acts dumber than he really is, and he periodically forgets things, as regenerating your brain all the time isn't very good for your mental capabilities.
Items/Abilities: Murphy can regenerate at an advanced rate, able to re-grow any part of his body almost instantaneously, with no apparent harm. As a result, he is immune to disease, poison, and to his dismay, alcohol. This regeneration comes with two other significant effects, the first being that Murphy can not easily feel pain, the second being that his body parts are physically weak and easy to take apart. In addition to his regeneration, he can continue to control some disconnected body parts by focusing on them.
Murphy has taken advantage of his lack of pain, hiding a few weapons inside his body, mostly in places he can easily take them out. His most often used of these is a small scythe that is lodged in his shoulder. Other than those, he has no worldly possessions, no identifications of any sort, and to be quite honest, he only has a small grasp on who he actually is. Despite this, he can get into virtually any bar anywhere.
Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison. The moment his limbs freed themselves, Drake dropped to one knee, crossing the arm not holding his halberd across it and bowing his head down. His lips moved quickly as he muttered a prayer to Efneroe. "Blessed is thy name, unerring are thy choices, lawful is thy word. Will that my hands be steady in carrying out thy holy work..." After a few moments, he stood up again, surveying the area he'd been placed in. He was surrounded by all manner of curious items housed on shelves and in bins - while some were familiar, most were at best odd and at worst outright bizarre to him. He picked up a curious cube and pressed down on a bump he found on the side, then dropped it in surprise as soft, lilting music began to flow out of it. He quickly brought his halberd down on it, slicing it mostly in half. The music ground to a lurching halt and Drake breathed a sigh of relief - it was good to know that this sorcery was not immune to the metal of men.
As he stepped gingerly around the stores of strange objects, an uncomfortable number of which ticked and hummed quietly to themselves, he considered his situation. He was having a little trouble wrapping his head around exactly what was going on, since he only knew that he'd been abruptly placed in some kind of gladiator match. Who was behind it, and whether it was divine or arcane in origin, remained to be seen.
And what of the others? he mused to himself. Lillian had certainly looked grotesque, and, if the voice was to be trusted, she was plenty strong enough to be a threat to his homeland were she to survive. But, again, if the voice was to be trusted, she was also human on the inside. Perhaps a curse? He would have to question her about that - while staying at a safe distance, of course. He knew plenty of humans who would eagerly betray their own mothers for a few gold coins, although by his own standards they didn't qualify for the label at that point.
Professor Ada Hanmarian...she had looked unusual. Her strange clothing, her confident posture, her unladylike physique, even her utilitarian hairstyle...everything about it spoke of an exiled Amazon. Unfortunately, he was a little fuzzy on his Amazon background - it had been nearly a year since he'd tried to hunt down an abnormally warlike gang of them - and was unable to recall the usual reasons for exile. Perhaps it had something to with her enchanted gauntlet? He made a mental note to treat her with a warrior's respect - and to give her a warrior's death, if it came to that.
The last one introduced had seemed...less visually impressive than the others. Murphy Roths, the voice had called him. However, Drake knew the signs of an undead, and, judging by what the voice had said, Murphy was a particularly strong one - Drake didn't know of any undead powerful enough to regrow lost limbs. Perhaps he was a necromancer who'd succumbed to his own power? Such a thing was not unheard of. At any rate, Drake concluded, the description had been too spartan to determine the needed information about his intents and motives.
Drake rounded a corner and found himself walking out into some sort of market, the stalls vacant and largely empty. He spent several moments staring around, trying to decide on a direction to travel, when he spotted a shape emerge from around the bend. "Halt!" he shouted at it, pointing his halberd in its direction and assuming a semi-hostile stance. "State thy name and intentions!"
Originally posted on MSPA by Elize. Lillian fought against her invisible restraints as she was pushed through space and unceremoniously dumped behind a pile of crates. When the restraints were removed, she struggled instead to come to terms with her new situation.
Surely, this couldn't be real. A particularly aggressive ad campaign for a new game, maybe? She fought through the panic and tried to remember something she could use as a search term. The names of the other three escaped her. Fantasy roleplayer, kind of handsome in a rugged sort of way. Some kind of science woman, looked a lot like that bitch in Lillian's math class. Um... some Pfizer and Gamble regen pack salesman? oh, right! Artificer's Alley, the voice had said. She remembered that name.
Lillian nimbly slunk up and over the crates and glanced around. This "factory" seemed awfully dark and quiet for a public space. No holo ads, no loudspeakers screaming at you to buy things. At least, not continuously. Not since the voice introducing everyone. Glancing around at the work stations and market stalls, there didn't even seem to be a brand name in sight. Whatever this was, it obviously wasn't big on product placement. A period piece, then?
Right, right. Search terms. After making sure the coast was clear, Lillian brought up the search bar on her neuralink. "Artificer's Alley", with quotes.
The results astounded her. Or rather, the lack of results astounded her. "Network not found," it said. "Roaming charges initiated. Thank you for your business!"
The lack of network connectivity scared Lillian more than being told she was supposed to fight three people to the death. Roaming charges? Without the network, she couldn't even call to suspend her account! That was going to hurt her credit score, before she'd even started making any income! Her eyes grew wide and her long body curled inward. She pulled her custom nanodenim jacket against her chest defensively and scurried off on six limbs in search of someone to complain to.
Lillian quickly caught the sound of boots on concrete down one of the lanes of stalls and froze with momentary indecision. Glancing around, she snatched up the heaviest-looking thing she could find from one of the workstations.
Wait, what was this thing, anyway? Big two-foot-long chunk of metal, two tightly wound coils of copper wire sticking out. Some kind of motor? There was a glass tube embedded inside, carrying some sort of blue fluid, and the whole mess seemed to be humming. Lillian pried a small silvery cylinder out of the housing and the humming stopped. Was she supposed to make the humming stop? What was she doing with this thing again?
Oh, right, brandishing it menacingly. It looked intimidating enough. She quickly rounded the corner towards the sound of boots, holding up the interesting heavy thing like a club, feeling glad to be a little scary-looking for once.
"Halt! State thy name and intentions!" rugged spear guy shouted commandingly. He didn't even do a double-take or anything! Lillian was used to seeing at least some sort of initial twinge of disgust on a new person's face, however momentary. She chose to pretend this meant that he didn't think she was entirely freaky rather than that he had seen worse.
Oh, but she came here to complain, and nothing was going to stop her. From his unusual getup, Lillian assumed this man must be playing a part in whatever this scenario was. After all, the other two seemed real enough. She began her introduction with a resounding, "No. No, stop, I opt out. Take my name off this list, I don't want this, take me back to my dormitory. I didn't agree to this! My network's charging me roaming fees! And you or loudspeaker guy or SOMEONE is going to pay for them, and it's not gonna be me! This is completely unacceptable!"
Originally posted on MSPA by Solaris. To say that Murphy's thought process was a normal one would not quite be an accurate statement to make. Upon being thrust into this new place that he'd never seen before by some unimaginable force with three other odd individuals his reaction was not one of panic or of fear, it was instead a simple nod of his head as he pinched his dull skin, feeling nothing.
"Alright, well I can't be sure this isn't a dream yet but that sure is a point against."
While believing the scenario to be a fake one is not the most original of reactions, most wouldn't quite go to suck lengths to prove or disprove it as Murphy was about to, but then again most people didn't have the same luxuries as Murphy did.
Deciding that maiming himself would be the proper course of action, Murphy began to look around the empty lot, noting that everything was very structured. The booths were placed at even distances from each other, and after peeking behind them, he noted that they were clean and ordered, very unlike any of the other, similar sorts of alley's he had seen.
"Well I'm sure that whoever owns these won't mind me using their tools a little."
Murphy shuffled through the booths until he found one with the proper sort of tools that could properly inflict enough pain to wake him up if this was in fact a dream and a thing that was actually happening.
"Ooh, this will do!"
Murphy picked up a hacksaw, the teeth on it sharp enough to cut through the hardest of materials like butter.
"This will do nicely."
Slowly, not because of hesitation but because he needed to do this perfectly, Murphy raised the hacksaw to his face, turned it around, and started on his test.
im thinking that in two or so posts (after anza introducifies) we can go and start the morning shift and stuff???
That was the second thing Ada thought. The first thing was something along the lines of FUCK PAPER.
She squinted at the thin trickle of blood running down her middle finger. Then she almost brought it to her mouth, before remembering some med-school kid telling her she shouldn't swallow blood or suck at wounds. Swallowing blood is bad in general, he'd said. And your lipstick might irritate it. Then she did it anyway. She never wore lipstick. Smartass.
She gripped the gauntlet covering most of her right arm. She knew she couldn't let a papercut get to her. Not now. What had that obnoxious voice said? Fight amongst yourselves? Ah, yes. And when one of you chaps end up dying...
Holy hell, she thought. What a fucking toolbox.
For the first time she looked up from her stinging hand and found herself in an enormous and particularly ornate lecture hall. Fitting, she thought with a grimace. The first thing she did when she entered a classroom she wasn't supposed to be in was to find some kind of schedule. Just professional courtesy. Or maybe she just hated interacting with other professors.
Sure enough, there was a piece of paper-- no, parchment. That was odd-- but it read that the first class in this room started at 7:15 A.M., sharp. She glanced at the watch on her gauntlet. 00:10, it read. No help there. She'd have to find some alternative.
But as she began to take in the details of the room she realized something was off. There were arrayed desks facing a wide blackboard covered with chalk smears of lessons past, and that would have been fine were it not for the ridiculous models hanging from the ceiling and the outlandish diagrams on the walls. To make matters worse, strewn about were strangely organic phials and tubes which looked closer to components of a hamster playground than to honest-to-goodness scientific equipment. On one side of the expansive room was a long bookshelf filled with every size and shape of tome. The Properties and Utility of Electrum, she read. Liquid Alchemy. Annotated History of Alchemy, Volume III. Practical Application of Alchemy...
Ada groaned. What is this, a fucking theme park?
It finally occurred to her that there was a giant translucent paned window on one wall. It was nearly as wide as the room was long, and dull sunbeams of a lazy summer morning filtered through in some places where the window was transparent. She strode fiercely to where the view outside was clear.
This...this isn't a theme park.
Off in the distance, across a Victorian cityscape just beginning to wake up, she saw an old behemoth of a belltower stir to life.
One, two, three... seven times. It rang seven times.
Originally posted on MSPA by Pick Yer Poison. Drake had been prepared for a haughty retort, or possibly an attack. He was even prepared for Lillian to burst into tears, as he might expect any maiden put under such a curse to react. However, Lillian's outburst took him by surprise. He didn't understand a fair number of the words, and what he did understand was still somehow foreign to him. His lips curled as his mind rapidly jumped to a conclusion. "Cease thy witchcraft, sorceress!" he shouted, jabbing his halberd at Lillian, who yelped and jumped back to avoid the pointed tip. "If thou art truly under a curse, surely it is thy own doing or thou art deserving of it!"
"What? Witchcraft? What?"Lillian spluttered, slapping the ground indignantly."That's the best you can do!? Who even wrote this script?"She waved her upper hands in front of herself, ignoring Drake's baffled expression."No. No no no! Forget it! I don't want to know! I don't want any part of your little game. I can't even use my phone! I want to leave!"She clutched her makeshift club tighter, eyeing the halberd uneasily. She was starting to get the feeling that this wasn't the kind of program you could opt out of.
Drake's confusion made its way onto his face. "Phone? What is a phone? Is it thy catalyst?" His heart leapt as the thought occured to him. Without a catalyst to direct her sorcery, she would be unable to cast any spells without risking them mutating and rebounding on her. In fact, he mused, perhaps that had to do with how she came to be cursed. "Though thy dialect is foreign to mine ears, and much of thy speech lacks meaning, I believe I understand what thou means. Didst thou curse thyself? If so, perhaps I can help thee." He coiled a little tighter, as if preparing to spring forward. "But if thou wishes ill upon me, then know that thy end will be swiftly met, and that no mercy will be shown!"
Lillian's mind raced as she tried to think of how to respond. She didn't want to have to play along, but demanding to be freed didn't seem to be garnering any sort of response, and that weapon didn't look like a prop. Fortunately, the sound of a distant bell ringing saved her from having to respond. Or, to be more precise, what saved her was the slow, grinding opening of the large gates on one end of the alley, and the crowd that began to pour into the bazaar as they opened.
Drake Aborith hailed from a land where the existence of gods was not a mystery but a provable fact. Good and evil weren't subjective terms, Drake had a divine mandate to judge which was which, and everyone knew it. In light of this, his response had been perfectly reasonable: he made it clear he was judging Lillian, and also that he would aid or punish her in accordance with that judgment.
Lillian, on the other hand, had a very different background. In her culture, hardship was either nonexistent or self-inflicted, basic needs were met, and effort was frowned upon if the results failed to exceed a comparable threshold of novelty. For example, philosophical conversation was taboo unless the participants were not sober. Thus, when Lillian found herself faced with Drake's judgment, she reacted how anyone from her generation would have.
Lillian shook her head and snorted derisively. "Trying too hard there, bud," she said, eying the point of the halberd but trying to pretend it didn't make her nervous. She lowered the whatever-it-was and nodded toward the opening door. "Oh, they're letting me out. Good! You don't want to hear from my lawyer!"
Lillian did not actually have a lawyer.
She rushed past the warrior towards the opening gates, giving him a wide berth but trying not to be too obvious about it. She stopped in her tracks, however, once she actually took note of who was entering.
Droves of creatures and machines poured in through the door. There were similarities here and there, but none seemed human. Tall and short, wide and skinny, variable numbers of limbs. Some had wings, some had tails. Those with organic heads all seemed to have a similar sort of facial structure, but that structure clearly wasn't human. Tall foreheads, bulging, side-mounted eyes, small mouths on snouts, and scaly skin seemed the norm, though there was much more variation among them than would be expected. Many had cybernetic attachments of varying make, and some were entirely robotic. Unlike the clean lines and simple shapes of the technology she was used to, however, this seemed entirely foreign. Exposed gears, wires, strange crystals, glowing ichor contained in glass tubes -- all were worked into elaborate trim in a seamless way. There was clearly an aesthetic to it, but it wasn't one that Lillian could identify.
Lillian froze in confusion. There were clearly a lot of biosynths here. With the similarities, she had to assume they were produced for the sake of this strange scenario, but that meant a massive amount of money. What the hell was going on here? Why was she involved? How could she stop being involved? She decided she would absolutely pose these questions to the creatures as soon as possible.
"Oh, that's a pretty one," one of the creatures said, pointing to Lillian. Several of them murmured their feelings on this assertion as they swarmed around her.
"Oh, uh, thanks," Lillian said. She didn't mean it, of course. Compliments from those uglier than her held very little weight--a hypocrisy she didn't have many chances to exercise. Still, it wasn't the usual reaction, and that threw her off-balance.
"Which one made you?" asked one.
"What? Rude!" she answered indignantly. She found herself surrounded by bustling creatures.
"Interesting structure," one remarked.
"Yes, very efficient," replied another. "Shame about the face, though." Lillian decided to take this as sarcasm. Her face was classic!
"Similar face to this one," remarked another in a metallic monotone. Several surrounding him in the crowd broke away and started towards Drake.
"If thou make the claim my countenance is womanly to earn my wrath, thou hast made poor use of thy last breath, monsters!" Drake spat back, taking a wide stance and holding his weapon at the ready. Lillian grimaced at his last word, having had it directed at her a few more times than she'd care to recall. Was she the same to him as these gross things? "If thou seek the end of my halberd, search closer hence, but thou shalt not draw it forth in errant haste with thy taunting!"
Lillian would have sighed if she didn't find herself suddenly preoccupied with her growing throng of admirers. She felt conflicted; she was on the receiving end of some not-entirely-negative attention for once, but it felt too manufactured to be gratifying. It wasn't until they started groping and prodding her with measuring instruments that she actually reacted. "Hey! Hands off!" she protested, swatting someone's measuring tape out of her face.
The crowd began to buzz with questions about Lillian's physiology and something about her "humors". She glanced over to Drake and saw that he seemed to be faring slightly better.
"Pointy thing on a stick," one of the creatures said. "It's been done before. You should see Riik's work! Fried meat on a stick! The experimental potential is much more remarkable."
"Art thou cursed as well? Tis no mere pointy stick! My weapon is the Right Arm of Efneroe! Be warned, the light of prophecy doth guide it unerringly!" Drake responded, standing his ground.
The small scaly creature waved its arm dismissively and started to walk away. "Psh. You should read up on Riik's forty-fourth dissertation! He replaced the stick with a Pandaemonium conduit. The meat gave a brief lesson on celestial alignment as a means of measuring leyline intersections and then ate itself! Very interesting results."
The rest of the crowd around Drake began to disperse, apparently bored. Some joined back with the growing circle around Lillian, where the unanswered questions were growing more insistent. They ignored her protestations about roaming fees as readily as she ignored their questions about the purpose of the higher hair density atop her head. However, when one of the clamoring creatures began to inquire about "these extraneous fatty lumps here" on her chest, she started to turn red. "Keep your hands OFF," she shouted. Without further consideration, she grabbed the one groping most intrusively and tossed him over the heads of the others and into the nearest market stall. He hit the cloth roof, as she intended. Unlike she intended, the support poles collapsed and he hit the counter at an awkward angle, making a loud thump and causing a clatter as the counter spilled its contents into the stall. "Ah, crap," Lillian said, brushing the throngs aside and rushing over to the mess she'd made. "Sorry! I didn't mean to-"
Lillian looked over the counter to find the creature she'd thrown scribbling in a notebook, still splayed out in a pile of cloth and unidentifiable machine bits. "Very capable musculature," he remarked.
"Yes, that's new," said another, more mechanical voice. "When can we expect a dissertation on it?"
Lillian groaned in exasperation. Realizing she'd gotten distracted from her goal again, she turned to the nearest standing creature and held out the strange machine she'd picked up. "Here, take this," she said. "I'm leaving. And I'm billing you for my roaming fees!"
"Fees?" asked a panicked voice. "I don't have any more inventions to sell!"
"Leaving?" asked another. "We haven't learned everything about you yet!"
The crowd grew suddenly silent. Even those nearby who weren't part of it stopped what they were doing and turned to stare at Lillian. As best as she could parse them, the facial expressions seemed to be various mixes of confusion, shock, and anger. Drake seemed to be quietly eying the situation, muscles tensed. She cleared her throat. "Yes, I'm leaving. I don't want to be part of this. So if you could just-"
"INTELLECTUAL PARASITE!" yelled one of the creatures. All at once, waves of shouting and motion rushed from the surrounding horde. Lillian screamed and scrambled furiously wherever her arms would take her. She quickly found herself precariously teetering atop a shelf of tools, back arched like a frightened cat, all eight hands gripping her perch hard enough to crush less well-engineered bone.
(This post was last modified: 07-24-2013 07:00 PM by Elize.)
Originally posted on MSPA by Anthano Zasalla. Ada Hanmarian was running.
It wasn't like her to run, really. Or at least that was what she liked to think. She hated cowards and hated being a coward, so whenever the time came for her to swallow her pride and run she always found another word for it.
Smart. That was a good one. Sensible. Tactful, even.
The corridors were no more modest in their architecture than the lecture hall. Everything was brass plated and sculpted and the walls were decorated with paintings. Some were landscapes she didn't recognize, though she couldn't say she spent much time outside anyway. Most were lavish portraits of decorated... people...
She slowed for a second, looking closer. The paintings were certainly people, she supposed. But they sure as hell weren't all human. She even caught a glimpse of what seemed to be some kind of android-- and that wasn't jarring, she'd been building humanoid robots all her life -- but it was giving her the same "cultured" sneer as the rest. And it was wearing a high silk hat and black peacoat.
Harriet Townshend, she read. Esteemed Professor of Electrum-based Alchemy.
It's a woman. Android. A woman android professor. Damn.
"Who are you?"
Ada nearly punched the voice's face in. Then she realized it was a kid's voice. She'd never liked children, but she liked crying children the least. She moved the gauntlet slowly aside, still locked in a fist, expecting to see some pathetic schoolchild making puppy eyes up at her. She was mostly right.
"Are you a substitute teacher?" it croaked. A forked tongue flitted out between scaly lips.
She scoured her mind for words. "I... yes. Er, run along now?"
"Okay!" The child darted off cheerfully on clawed feet.
She finally relaxed. She usually knew what to tell children to make them bugger off, but...reptile children? What was... no, she decided she didn't want to know what was next. She just needed to get out of here, and do it fast. Before she caught too much attention.
She reached the end of a corridor where a grandiose double-door waited, welcoming. She practically smashed it open and sprinted through--
She skidded to a stop, breathing heavily, halted by a sea of faces all three or four feet high. They grinned.
"Substitute teacher!" yelled one. The rest joined in chanting, surrounding her, as if at a grand seance. "SUB-STI-TUTE! SUB-STI-TUTE! SUB-STI-TUTE!"
She searched wildly for an exit. There was none. Okay, she thought. Desperate measures.
"EVERYBODY SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
It was suddenly so silent Ada could hear her own breathing. Her heart nearly jumping out of her chest. In the distance her voice continued to echo throughout every hall.
"Excuse me, madam?"
All eyes turned to look at a tall bearded man in a suit and bow tie, goat horns poking through otherwise perfect hair. "You are coming with me."
Among the children began a crescendo of "Oooh..." as they parted. Ada slowly, wide-eyed, followed him.
She wasn't a coward, she decided. But she certainly wasn't smart.
Murphy thought it was funny, as he began to saw his face in half. Dreams were the only time he really felt anything. As the saw was driven by his hand, making the sweet sounds of flesh being ripped from itself, tearing into muscle, Murphy manged to sigh.
He didn't feel a damn thing.
If he was dreaming, he would have felt quite a number of things, that's how it always was. So that means that this was real.
Well, he reasoned, at least he was in a pretty good position for this sort of thing.
As Murphy began to wedge the saw out of his face, the morning shift began. As the various patrons, personages, and people of the alley rushed in, Murphy realized that the saw was stuck.
He let out a casual "Uh oh," before realizing that now he had a guest.
"OH NO!" said the robot crafter, very obviously worried for Murphy despite him not being too fussed, started to worry all around the disheveled man.
"I MUST TAKE YOU TO THE INFIRMARY."
"Uhm, I'm ok? This is fine, really? You don't need to go through any trouble."
"IF I DO NOT GO THROUGH WITH PROTOCOL I WILL BE DISMANTLED. ACTUALLY, IF I DO GO THROUGH WITH PROTOCOL, AND I TAKE YOU TO THE INFIRMARY, AND THEY ID THE SAW IN YOUR FACE AS MINE, I WILL STILL BE DISMANTLED. STILL. I MUST TAKE YOU."
Murphy wasn't really one for sentiment, but he felt really bad for the little guy, worrying over nothing and being so open to just up and dying. After a few more moments of the robot listing off all of its protocols that Murphy didn't care about, Murphy put his hands on the robots shoulders, this time taking a good look at it.
The little guy wasn't that little, he was more like teenager sized, very lanky, with his limbs hardly being any bigger than the size of bones. Said limbs were attached to a blocky, cubular body. He looked fragile, but as Murphy placed his hands on the joints that were akin to the robots shoulders, he realized that the robot was very well built.
Murphy looked into the amethyst, jewel-like eyes of the robot, intricately attached to it's rectangular head, and said, "Listen man, we can do this. We will make it through this together."
Murphy, really wanting the robot to keep still more than anything else, embraced the robot and gave him a hug.
The robot, never having been hugged before, was still. "Alright, now come on, let's get out of here, you don't want to be dismantled, right?"
Though the robot was unsure, it nodded, and followed Murphy, who still had the hacksaw wedged in his face.