a Fortuna fic - Not A Cult

a Fortuna fic - Not A Cult
a Fortuna fic - Not A Cult
This is a story I'm writing set within Fortuna, and there's no reader influence or anything like that. I hope that's allowed in this forum? I didn't see any other non-suggestion fanfics.
Anyway I wouldly greatly appreciate feedback, the more specific the better. I feel like my writing is usually too serious so this an attempt at something more humorous.

Note: This is (quite) loosely based off of a roleplaying campaign I've done with my friends.

Not A Cult

Ah, Cth'leoth. An easygoing planet lit dimly through the constant cloud cover, with gentle showers pitter-pattering against the window. Just loud enough to ease you to sleep. One could relax in quarters of their choice, taking a breather from the hustle of galactic life. Being such a newly connected planet it was free of all the strife that had ripped between star systems in the past, and as for the native Boog? Nobody was friendlier than a person who was trying to sell you something, although you had to mind the (often quite literal) pop-up ads in the middle of conversations with them.
And there, resting his legs in a dining establishment with a peculiar penchant for culinary crafts of the pedal persuasion, was N-502, or "Wiph" as they preferred to be known as to subjects. Having just finished consuming the lower half of some unlucky wildlife, he sat back and took in the sights and sounds that Cth'Leoth had to offer them. It was all so, sooo...

So BORING!! The Notail slammed his hand against the table. He had already been here a few days, and nobody had so much as looked at him funny, much less tried to kill him. Where was the mystery, the pointless intrigue that had people backstabbing eachother over finding out who was going to stop them from helping their allies in furthering their goals to discover who backstabbed the person who helped them in the first place?
This had to be one of the least interesting places in the galaxy, everything cool or important stripped of any significance, grinded into a flavourless paste to attract tourists where the only thing that mattered was how good something looked in a photo.
Sure, there were lots of spooky swamps and ruins where people died or disappeared in interesting circumstances. That wasn't anything special. "Interesting circumstances" covered about half of all extraterrestrial deaths in this day and age. What Wiph cared about was LIVING people, groups interacting with eachother, hidden motivations, agendas, power dynamics, relationships. Intrigue was Wiph's passion, and for a planet that had once held a species devoted to collecting all kinds of knowledge, even if it was dangerous, Cth'Leoth was suspiciously...unsuspicious. Why, even th-

Hold on.

Wiph was distracted from his musings by the occupant of a nearby table, which he hadn't paid any attention to until a sound had caught his ears. It was a Jerce.
Now this was already quite unusual, as Jerce were usually quite timid around people they didn't know, and didn't have much interest in sightseeing, as well as just being quite rare. Mostly they just tried to find a stable source of food and shelter, and that was enough for them. But this one was mumbling something under its breath, and it seemed to be a prayer of sorts, despite Jerces usually not following any gods.
On such a boring planet, this Jerce was a lifesaver to Wiph, who brought all his formidable tac and wits to the fore as he decided to make contact.

"Hey! =u+"
"WHATSFYGY!?!?" The Jerce rocked back on their chair and coughed violently for a bit, as something had gotten stuck in their throat, their revery all but forgotten.
Poor things, he thought. They had been forced to leave their planet by robots, before the Notail had even had a chance at transition. They could have been introduced to the rest of the galaxy in a much more useful state than such a nervous, anxiety-ridden race.
Eventually, they sat back and slowly peeked up at Wiph to see if he was still there. He was.
"Hello there, you may call me Wiph. What is your name? =u+"
"Ly-Lysandre..." The Jerce slowly answered, their startlement turning to confusion.
"Okay Lysandre, how are you?"
Lysandre did not immediately reply, but instead blinked several times as they stared at the Notail in front of them. She had seen Notails before of course, but only from a distance. This was the most words she had ever exchanged with one, and it was going very differently from how she had gathered these conversations usually went.
"I'm, fine?" She said.
Wiph, for his part, was annoyed at how long this was taking and wanted to just demand the answers he desired. But he knew that such trivial exchanges were important in the interactions of other species, for some blessed reason. Besides, this Jerce looked so flightly they'd likely flee the premises if he shouted anything, and he wasn't fast enough to catch up.
"Good, good. I'm also fine. So, Lysandre, I couldn't help but overhear you praying, it sounded like. Could you tell me more about that, please? It sounds interesting, =u+."
Lysandre continued to feel confused, but now they felt a flicker of something else. Was it true? Was this a sign? This might be the opportunity she had been waiting for, maybe she hadn't come here in vain. But she had to be careful as well, giving too much away could be dangerous. She cleared her throat.

"Welll, I was praying to my god, I'm a monk you see-" The Notail interupted her, this seemed to be a topic he was quite opinionated on.
"Ah yes, a quite healthy way to take out your aggression and hate against the universe I've found, always good to know who your targets are. I was almost was a priest, did you know? =u+" Wiph internally smiled, they had common ground! This was going great. Soon she'd probably tell him everything of her own accord without him needing to lift a finger.
"So which god is it? The Creator, the Helper, who?"
Lysandre, quite commendably, only paused for a few seconds after hearing Wiph, before deciding to come back to what he had meant later.
"Well, I'm sort of a special kind of monk, you probably don't know the, ah, god i follow, they're kind of obscure... but I'm here because of a mission they gave me, sooo..." She trailed off.

Wiph paused in his comraderie-building diatribe. An idea was forming in the back of his head. Maybe his stay on this planet could provide some amusement after all.
"This mission, is it important? =u+"
"Will you need assistance from other people? =u+"
"I guess it wouldn't hurt?
"Are there people who will try and stop you, possibly even try to kill you? =u+"
"There, might be???"
"Great!" Wiph jumped out of his chair and clasped Lysandre's hand before she could react. Lysandre shuddered slightly, glad she had taken the most recent vaccinations for her species.
"As your friend, I promise to help you in your goals and further your cause! =u+ Obviously we'll need a name, and a third member no doubt, two-member dynamics stagnate quickly, maybe even a fourth though that does start attracting attention, we'll need some base of operations too, need to get a take on all the nearby PoI, don't forget maps maps are important..." Wiph had trailed off and was pacing next to to Lysandre, who was still stuck on the word "friend".
"Uh, pardon me, Wiph was it? But,-" Wiph stopped his muttering and glanced at Lysandre.
"Yes? =u+"
"What in the world are you talking about? I haven't even told you what my mission IS yet!" Lysandre put her hands to her mouth. She had just shouted at a Notail!
But he hardly seemed to notice, brushing aside her concerns with a wave of his hand.
"I'm talking about our Secret Society of course! Or at least what will soon be our Secret Society. Details can come later, =u+"
"You're forming a, a, Secret Society just, right here?" She waved, indicating the peaceful, happy atmosphere of the restaurant and by extension, the planet.
"Hmm, you've got a point, can't just go around saying "Secret Society" in public," said Wiph, failing utterly to understand what she had meant. "Need some sort of code word, how about... cult? Yeah I think that's fine. If you ever want to mention our "S-S" just use the word cult instead. =u+"
Lysandre felt as if they were trying to stop a runaway train. She attempted one more time to put the breaks on Wiph's thought processes.

"Don't you think that will give people the wrong impression?"
Wiph stopped pacing, turned to face her, and stuck out his hands with the thumb and index fingers extended. She didn't know what it meant, but she could guess.
"EXACTLY!!! =u+"
Lysandre groaned inwardly. Well, she'd tried, and if she'd failed it was only because she'd been meant to fail. After all, a helping hand could only make her goal easier, right? She hoped that this time, she wouldn't fail. Success was all that mattered, and she could bear being around a filthy Notail if it was what would make the difference.
It was only a matter of time, after all.
RE: a Fortuna fic - Not A Cult
Not A Cult

As the self-appointed leader of Cth’leoth’s newest secret society (name yet to be decided), Wiph decided that the next best thing to do was to get their third member, as quickly as possible. You could do without a fourth for quite a while, get around the mill-house a few times, but you could hardly make it up the steps with just two. He considered his options carefully.
He, obviously, was the group’s leader. He’d manage diplomatic arrangements, allocation of effort and resources, that sort of thing. And if worst came to worst, he could always rely on his knowledge in the art of kickboxing, although that tended to leave him with sore feet.
Then, there was Lysandre. While he didn’t know her that well, he was pretty sure from the five minutes he’d spent talking with her that she’d be great at undercover operations, technical assistance and counter-propaganda. Plus she could fly, probably.
But they still needed someone with a bit more… worldly experience, he’d say. Someone who was a hands-on kind of fella, who’d could be trusted to get right into the thick of things, fighting, planning, whatever. He surveyed the remaining candidates around the other tables.

There were plenty of Boog, of course, standing around their projectors and chatting to each other, probably about pharmaceuticals. But Wiph would’ve preferred a member who didn’t have to pick themselves up first if they needed to make a fast exit. Maybe the Metaparxi hanging by the bar? He’d worked with them in the past. But they always fostered this passive-aggressive kind of relationship, which wouldn’t work for the aesthetic he wanted. He needed someone with just the right balance of submissive and tenacious, who’d follow orders but also think for themselves. This cut out most of the other diners, except for…
Yep, there was a Husse at the back, tipping his beverage down his throat cheerfully. He had a backpack slung over his chair and returned Wiph’s look with an easy grin, before returning to his drink.


Now all Wiph had to do was reel him in, get him invested. He stood up and walked over, assuming Lysandre was following (she was. After a bit).
“Hi there, I’m Wiph. What’s your name? =u+” The Husse paused for a moment, before launching into what sounded like a rehearsed advertisement.
“I’m Hawk. Hawk the bard, good for a lark and a song, I run a fast yard, and easily get along.” At the last word, his demeanor broke and he started laughing. “Sorry, sorry, couldn’t resist.” He calmed down and continued, this time with a slightly more serious face. “As I said, I’m a bard. I travel a lot, and it helps if you’ve got a catchy way to sell yourself to an audience, around these parts. Anyway, how can I help you?”
Wiph looked around to make sure no one was listening, before leaning in towards the Husse and speaking with a quiet voice.
“Well, me and my friend here (Lysandre sputtered, earning an odd look from Hawk) are part of quite a secret organisation, and we have a very important mission, very classified. Recently, we’ve started looking into the possibilities of a new member, and we think you might be just the right person.”
“Mm? Why’s that?”
“We’ve been watching you closely for some time now. You’ve passed tests you didn’t even know about. Trust me, you’re exactly what we need. =u+”
Hawk raised his eyebrow at the Notail, who he was pretty sure hadn’t noticed his existence until five minutes ago. But his mother had always said you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. He hadn’t had a gig in a week, and Boogs generally tried to give him pamphlets and dubious-looking bottles whenever he tried busking. This Notail fella looked like a good person, and besides, it might be fun.

“Alright, sure. What’s this organisation called?”
“Oh, we can’t tell you that quite yet.” Wiph thought for a moment before continuing. “But, hypothetically speaking, if you were to give it a name, what would it be? Just asking for… archival purposes.”
“Uh-huh. Well, you sure seem to be incredibly secretive, so maybe something like, hm, ‘The Circle of Shadows’?”
“Ugh, no, that’s a terrible name! People will definitely think we’re evil if that’s our name, it’s way too edgy.”
“And, we’re not evil?”
“Alright, how about ‘The Fellowship of the Night’?”
“No, no, that’s too eldritch, we’re not summoning demons or anything. =u+”
“Umm, ‘The Keepers of Mystery’?”
“Look, it’s not like we’re ancient guardians holding secret knowledge to stop its power from falling into the wrong hands, ok? We’re just… doing things, regular things, that we think are good things to do but happen to be against the law, nothing special. And stop trying to force it into that X of Y format, its very unoriginal. Lysandre, get in on this, what do you think would be a good name?”
“Well its not like you’ve actually told me yet…” Hawk grumbled to himself.
“Uh, well,” she cocked her head, trying desperately to come up with something that might possibly fit Wiph’s approval. “What about ‘The Bone’s, umm… Rose’.”
Wiph and Hawk stared at her blankly for a few moments.
“…What?” said Hawk.
“I was being put on the spot!” They started arguing.
Meanwhile, Wiph was rolling the name around in his mouth. Hm. It’d do, at least for now. They could hash out the details later.
“Okay!” he said, interrupting the others, “That’s our name! =u+ Good work Lysandre, keep this up and you’ll get a promotion in no time. I think I’ll need to talk to you at our next performance evaluation though, Hawk.”
“Wait I thought you guys already had a name?” Hawk felt slightly confused, and indignant. People loved his performances! Except that one time with the pineapple and yoyo. But that was never going to happen again, he’d promised himself.
“Rule number one of being in a cult, always let on more than you know. Maybe we do have a name. Maybe we don’t. Maybe that whole discussion was a test for you and Lysandre was pretending. Always keep your enemies guessing. Which also involves keeping your members guessing. You’ve got to be pretty clever to keep track of these things. =u+” He tapped his head. “I don’t blame you for getting mixed up, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it eventually Hawk.”
Hawk just humphed, and looked away. A second later he turned back again.
“Wait did you just say you were a cult?!”
“Diiiiiid Iiiii? =u+” They couldn’t see it, but Wiph was grinning widely under his mask. This had already been more interesting than the previous three days put together.
“Yes you did. I’ve got a right to know what I’m getting myself into.”
“Oh. Well if you must know, and it seems like you must if you’re going to be a useful member, ‘cult’ is our codeword for,” He leaned in closer, his voice a whisper, “Secret society.” He leaned back again. “Obviously if you tell anyone we’ll kill you, etc etc. But I think that just about covers your initiation! Any further questions?”
Hawk thought for minute, then opened his mouth. “Well-”

Suddenly, a dishevelled-looking Pagepoh burst into the restaurant shouting wildly. Hawk wasn’t particularly knowledgeable in the realm of fashion, but words like “fabulous” and “extravagant” came to his mind as apt descriptions of her attire.
“Somebody, anybody, help! My brother’s been stolen!” She wailed.
Wiph turned to the others.
“Hmm, I wonder what could’ve happened? =u+ ”
RE: a Fortuna fic - Not A Cult
Not A Cult

The Pagepoh, whose name was Celia as it turned out, was incredibly flustered, and it took a short while before she abated her hysterics. After consoling her that, yes, they were definitely going to help her, Wiph and the rest of the Bones' Rose managed to hear her story.

"Ok, so, you know that shop that exploded last week? Well me and my brother were there, and after the explosion, I saw some people come and drag him off! I mean there was a lot of dust in the air, but that's definitely what happened. Everyone keeps telling me he's dead but I know he's alive! He was taken!" Her voice raised again.
"Its ok, its ok." Hawk said calmly, "We can probably help you.
"Especially if there's some kind of reward involved! =u+" Underneath the table, Wiph tapped Hawk's leg. He really needed to get the hang of this thing.
"Oh uh, sure, uh, I'll give you 50,000 points, that's all the money I have on me right now."
Wiph did a mental double-take. That was a lot of money. Not knocking it out of the park on its own by any means, but it definitely got to second base, from just a single job! That was enough to buy a fairly decent ship, if they wanted a mobile HQ, or a bunch of patsies/henchmen. Or five hundred bags of chips. Chips were actually kind of expensive, now that he thought about it. If he bought a bag of chips every day, which he didn't, but if he did, and then decided to stop buying chips, he'd save dozens of thousands of points every year. Unless the planet had a really small orbit.
This line of thought continued for a bit, until Wiph noticed that Celia had stopped talking and was fiddling with a napkin. It appeared to be an I.O.U, denoting the terms of their deal.
"Alright, I guess that's sorted, we'll begin investigating your case immediately and promise to find your brother or a plausibly similar looking person in exchange for the aforementioned reward. =u+" He pocketed the napkin and stood up to go.
"Um, Wiph?" Lysandre looked back and forth between them. "Shouldn't we, uh, ask them questions about things? Like we don't really know where to start looking, or anything..." She trailed off. Wiph slapped her on the back.
"I don't tend to find details all that important, but if you think that's necessary, go for it! =u+ I'm sure your common physiology will enable you to get on fabulously."
"We're not that similar..." she mumbled, but he had already walked away. Hawk was ordering a drink at the bar. Oh well, it'd probably go fine. Celia wasn't a Jerce, but she was definitely flighty enough to be one.

After a short conversation, Lysandre returned to the group. Like Celia had said, there had been an explosion at one of the local storefronts several days ago. The shopkeeper had been a "purveyor of rare goods" and apparently many of their items seemed to have strange and mystical, even magical properties. Most people just assumed it was trickery, of course. Celia and her older brother, whose name was Derin, went there sometimes to while away an afternoon looking at all the wondrous trinkets.
The building was now rubble, of course. Celia didn't have a very clear memory of what exactly had happened, but she didn't recall anything odd before the explosion. It had simply happened out of nowhere. Afterwards, though, she could very definitely clearly remember some people dragging her brother away while he was still reeling. Their faces had been covered, and they'd worn some sort of dark clothing.
The police had been set on the case, of course. However they had dismissed her story as "ridiculous", citing absurd notions like "why didn't any of the other survivors see these kidnappers?" and the like. So (after getting out of the hospital) she had taken it upon herself to go around asking for help, every night. Multiple times.
In retrospect, they probably should have wondered why no one else in the diner had paid any attention when a Pagepoh had run in shouting.
The currently prevailing theory was that the shopkeeper (who hadn't been found yet) had gotten ahold of something a bit too exotic for them to handle, and it had blown up in their face. Some work was being done asking questions and searching archives, but nobody really thought the case was that important.

Wiph digested all this information. Honestly it seemed kind of boring now. He hoped things weren't going to turn out to be as simple as some random explosion. Still, it'd be a nice way to spend the time. Plus, 50,000 points, don't forget about that. Why did this girl even walk around with that much money?
"Well, this sure is interesting. Any thoughts, you two? We'd best go to the scene of the crime and check it out. =u+" Hawk started speaking.
"I had a quick chat with barmen. Apparently that girl is the daughter of a pretty important figure in this town. They do a lot of business, travel places, sponsor people, that sort of thing. That's why they don't really mind that she comes here so often. Usually they give her some food after she gets tired from all the yelling." He looked down and tapped the table a bit before continuing, "He also told me that we shouldn't bother with anything she says. Apparently she makes things up all the time. Her brother was pretty good at getting her to focus, but uh..." He trailed off. "...We're going to help her, right?"
"Hawk, I literally just said we should check out the scene of the crime. Please pay more attention next time. =u+"
As the group got up to go, a Spooper ran in. They seemed to be a rush, and after spotting Celia, went over to her. The group was too far away to hear the conversation that ensued, but there seemed to be a lot of tugging and refusing to be tugged going on. Celia pointed at them several times. Eventually, she seemed to give in, and after a few more words, the Spooper walked over to them.
"Hey there, I know you know what's going on, so I'll be brief. Celia is an imaginative girl. But from what she's told me, you do seem to have her best interests at heart. She could use some friends in these times."
"Are you her caretaker or something?" Hawk asked.
"You could say that. I'm an old pal of her father's, he usually asks me to care for her when he's away. She's quite the rapscallion though, I hardly have the heart to keep up with her."
Hawk laughed. No one else did.
"I actually a priest though. Oh, and my name's Reufeo by the way. Well, I guess I'll be seeing you around." He stood up and went back to Celia. Clutching his bony arm, they left.