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Thread: Tales from The Imperium

  1. #1
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Tales from The Imperium

    Tales of The Imperium is a spin-off thread for the Never-ending Story. It's a closed thread to be exclusively written by Britt the Writer though many features and materials may be derived from multiple NeS Writers. It almost exclusively revolves around characters and deeds of The Imperium, an empire partly featured within the NeSiverse and beyond it.

    This thread has been created so that any ideas I have for The Imperium can be used with minimal offensive impact upon other Writers' ideas. Though features from this thread could be used elsewhere, that isn't the intention. Characters may feature elsewhere but preferably they will remain here unless wanted or established elsewhere.

    Reading this thread is absolutely unnecessary for writing on any other NeS-related thread and is largely meant to be an outlet for random ideas for NeS stuff that might just clog up the other threads.

    For other extended universe material, please see Pantheons of the NeSiverse. For the specific character tale of Clear, see Clear and the Hopeless.

    This post will be constantly updated with a contents section.

    The Story of Ameryl
    2 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15

    Shades of an Empire

    3 | 4 | 5

    The Peacekeepers
    9 | 10 | 11
    Last edited by TheBritt; 04-29-2017 at 04:29 AM.

  2. #2
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Becoming Nothing

    The Story of Ameryl
    Becoming Nothing

    This post continues from Pan Post 58.

    The trees tower high into the sky, stretching their tallest branches almost to the clouds themselves. While those upper branches would be out in the cold air, Aggran Forest's bowels are hot and wet. Smaller plants grow everywhere and the stone path from the gazebo to the villas winds its way through the natural beauty of the landscape where those plants and flowers creep or hang over the path. Ameryl is wearing a sarong across her waist and a cropped top to give her belly some cooling in the open air. Birds twitter above her head before fluttering off, startled by her approach.

    Aside from tourists, the world is a paradise for its own natural ecosystem and zero sentient life to intrude upon it. Having lived a life surrounded by people, holed up in man-made palaces and the rules and restrictions of the social order - right now Ameryl feels a sense of great freedom. She has no responsibilities. She has no one to please. She has no one to impress. She can break all of the rules because there are no rules here.

    She plucks up her courage and spreads a malicious grin across her pretty face.

    She spits.

    She then gasps at her own wickedness but follows it with a sly chuckle. She can spit everywhere and no one will judge her!

    "Fu fu fu!"

    She throws a rock at a bush.

    She rolls around in the dirt.

    She licks a tree.

    "Ew. Okay, people don't lick trees because it's gross not because it's impolite. Lesson learnt."

    She skips down the stone path, ducks under a overhanging shrubbery that protrudes from the massive girth of a tree, and spies the villas. A tall man with a pencil thin moustache spots her and instantly comes scurrying over, wild-eyed. Ameryl groans.

    Before they had come to Oeurwoud the sight of this man had been a pleasure. It brought things like cakes and tea. He did things like opening letters or stoking fires when necessary. After just a few days on this planet, however, she realises she doesn't need him to do those things. She is capable of getting her own tea. She is capable of stoking her own fires. And, in fact, she
    wants to. The small satisfaction of performing tasks has become an infatuation. The thrill of accomplishment after effort is almost addictive. She seeks out that sense of victory and triumph.

    So now Harold Haroldson has become a frustrating bore.

    Harold: "Your Highness!"

    Ameryl: "I am not a queen any longer, Harold."

    Harold: "Sorry. Yes. I forget. Forgive me madam--"

    Ameryl: "I am not even a lady, Harold. I have no lands, no titles. I am no more a madam than I would be a highness."

    The man straightens up with indignity.

    Before he can protest she shakes her head irritably and walks past him towards the villas. They've been built in an open area where no tree has taken up the valuable space. A river drops down several miniature waterfalls and the villas themselves sit at its banks, with a few actually straddling the river as it runs beneath the house. She was able to rent the whole set for several months from the company that owns them and it was then that the concept of money first crossed Ameryl's mind. Before now money was something other people used on her behalf and, as ruler, everyone's money was her money. Now she has her own money. And while that was interesting, she understands that it is limited and will, one day, be gone. She has no idea how people are supposed to get more of it.

    The houses are made from the bark of the trees here. Some of the trees are so thick and strong that the cutters only need slice sections from the trees to turn into wood, allowing the trees to continue standing instead of being chopped down. The wood is strong and, when treated, is quite fragrant.

    Harold: "Madam. Madam! I have to tell you that the company called to warn us of impending doom!"

    Ameryl stops.

    Ameryl: "What? What is it?"

    Harold looks terrified.

    "Bad weather."

    Ameryl: "... you mean a storm?"

    Harold: "I mean, humidity. It will ruin your complexion if you aren't more careful my lady. Already I can see your skin is becoming worn by the sun. You are becoming, I am sorry to say, tanned."

    Ameryl groans and continues towards the villas. She stops and looks at them. She realises that Harold is an idiot but the company wouldn't inform them of this 'bad weather' if it wasn't serious. They had mentioned the possibility of more unpleasant levels of humidity in the coming months and she doesn't like the idea of more water clinging to her skin than already is.

    Ameryl: "And where should I go now then?"

    She considered to herself but Harold, in his eagerness to serve, jumps at the chance to intrude on her thoughts.

    Harold: "Perhaps a nice city on a more civilised world would do my lady much good. I could create a list of possibilities for you to choose from?"

    Even his voice, which is forced into a state of inoffensive cadence is becoming offensive with its inoffensiveness. He has served Ameryl and her twin sister Imeryn for many years, forever at their side at any given moment.

    After her sister no longer wished to share authority over their kingdom, Imeryn defeated Ameryl in magical battle and exiled her twin - forcing Ameryl out of the life she had ever known and off into the universe. Yet she had been surprised that Imeryn sent along Harold instead of keeping him for herself. Imeryn had been 'good enough' to allocate funds and transport for Ameryl but giving her such an important member of staff had seemed odd.

    "No, Harold. You can't dictate my life. I will choose a location by myself."

    Harold: "My apologies my lady! I didn't mean to suggest-- I just wanted to help find a place that would be most comfortable for my lady--"

    Ameryl: "You mean a place where I would cause the least trouble for my sister?"

    Harold: "Not at all! Though that would be good, I wouldn't want any harm to co--"

    Ameryl: "You're dismissed, Harold."

    Harold: "Dism... very well, my lady. I shall wait for you to name your departure time--"

    Ameryl: "I mean you're dismissed from my service."

    There's a very long pause. Ameryl knows the man is wondering if there's any way of salvaging the situation so that he can continue his mission but after a long, heavy minute of silence he just turns and walks away. Ameryl sighs with relief. She wasn't sure if Imeryn had actually tasked him to assassinate her if she refused to cooperate with him. That's one less string her sister has attached to her. She must remove the rest. Everything associated to Imeryn must be severed.

    Ameryl is no longer a highness. No longer a lady. She has no work, no home, no lover, no family, no friends, no purpose. She is nobody. She is nothing. Or at least, she intends to become nothing.

    Ameryl left the planet Oeurwoud behind.

    Then she left her staff behind, all with tickets for the first inter-universal vessel to take them back to their own universe and under the thumb of Ameryl should they all wish it. Of course they were considered 'sympathisers' by Imeryn so they may not wish to return to her tyrannical rule. Their choice. She even gave them all of her money to share between them. Apparently it was 'a lot' but Ameryl has no grasp of wealth and so just let them have it anyway. At least some people can become happy from her exile. The final step was to sell the royal liner that she had used to travel from her own empire to non-imperial space in a universe far, far away.

    That ship had been very useful and grand but she couldn't look at it and not think of that which she has lost. Even though she has gained freedom, she has lost much more beside. She wonders if freedom is better as she considers the things she loved in her old life. Then she remembers it doesn't matter, there's no going back.

    She sold the royal liner for a great deal of money and began to travel via taxi services across the multiverse until she found the place she has been searching for. A place of learning. A place where the secret to existence lies.


    The spacedock for multiversal ships is a sprawling affair that looks to be highly advanced, and yet somehow backward. It's exceptionally busy. Far busier than anywhere she's ever been before as people pour in and out every which way. There are too many terminals for her to keep track of and too many people to navigate efficiently. She's swept along several times before she finds a helpful kiosk to point her in the correct direction. She did see a few security guards jump on two greys at one point for being alleged terrorists and a drow was stopped as she tried to smuggle something through customs. Another passenger, of a species she doesn't recognise, was arguing with staff over his religious freedom to carry a flamethrower onto a vessel.

    She peers out of the windows of a long corridor and sees, not too far away, ancient edifices of an old empire that has been long gone and subsumed by the city of New Sima. It's blood red towers and monuments seem very structured and ordered in its design - unlike the new civilisation that has risen above its corpse. The remains of the Omega Reich are considered something of a tourist attraction by many, a museum by others or a subject of political debate for others.

    Once through the outer perimeter she is granted a cityscape view of New Sima. Its a sprawling metropolis of miss-matched works, like a quilt sewn together by several seamstresses, each with their own fashionable intent - resulting in a garish, eclectic mess. She can see nothing of what Ameryl would have considered grand or even charming but it is certainly vibrant. She can see all manner of people, them all being just as diverse as the architecture surrounding them. The only real uniformity she can judge is its lack of uniformity.

    She requests transportation to El'Psassment and she's directed to a smelly, crowded bus. She has never ridden such a vehicle before and while she wishes she could be enthusiastic about this new mini adventure, the thought of getting shoved into such a tiny can with a bunch of strangers is unpleasant. She sucks in her breath and braves the danger.

    The bus bounces down the wide roads. While there seems to be lots of space, there are also a lot of vehicles both before them and above them. She looks up to see the flying cars and buses are in just as much of a traffic jam as the land based counterparts. She imagines it might, at least, be a little cooler up there.

    She sits and waits. To pass the time she watches people and places through the open window. She recognises many species now, while once she had just considered anything that wasn't a white human to be 'something exotic'. Now she has come to find that not only are non-white humans perfectly normal, so too are the betentacled, the robotic, the furried and even the butt-faced.

    She has no idea why some species seem to have anuses where their faces ought to be but some god somewhere apparently decided that was a good idea.

    There's a drow. Two drow. Three drow. There's a falleen. There's a robot. Two robots. Three robots.... a gaggle of robots actually. If gaggle is the right word for robots. She would try to count the humans but that would be very difficult. There's just too many of them and to make it worse there are so many aliens that just look like humans anyway. Even she looks human.

    The bus skids to a stop and most of the people fall off the bus rather than get off. The station is, however, exactly where she wants to be. She looks up at the temple. She staggers up to the gate, her legs feeble from her long bus ride. Once Ameryl was considered the very picture of princessly beauty. Now she looks like some wild thing that has managed to drag itself up to the temple steps.

    Many people are here. Most are taking pictures.

    She's tired and dirty but she has to talk to someone. She needs guidance, some deeper truth and understanding of who she is, what she is and where she should be going.

    She looks up into the eyes of a man standing at the top of the short steps. He gives her an enigmatic expression and, as though he has read her mind, he says;

    "You are Nothing and you are destined for... Nothing. You came from Nothing and you will return to Nothing when the time comes. Everything does. It is a hard truth, I know. If you wish to understand more, then please... take my hand."
    Last edited by TheBritt; 01-12-2017 at 09:06 AM.

  3. #3
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Alliance

    Shades of an Empire

    This post continues from CatH Post 63.

    Indigo Shade feels the energy beam strike her person.

    Had she been anyone else the blast would have vaporised her in an instant. The canon itself is more than capable of blowing a hole straight through the spaceship itself, a little organic being wouldn't stand a chance.

    But she is Indigo Shade and she is no mere mortal.

    The energy ripples across her skin, battling against her cells for possession but her body resists and pushes back the atomising force. It takes its toll on her, but she's alive.

    She takes a gasp and vanishes from within the High Imperial ship, known as Kalor Varkesh, and for a brief moment in time she ceases to exist. Then she winks back into existence with a tiny, tinny sound of displaced reality. She gasps the air from within her projected atmospheric bubble and allows her body to fall limp as she slowly floats through the void of space.

    Above her Kalor Varkesh, the hollowed out Netherwyrm of the Deep Void, lunges at another of the ships that Indigo Shade had collected into a miniature fleet. She doesn't know how the High Empire finally found her, out here in the depths, but she's angry that they've spoilt her little scheme. Gathering together derelicts is a far safer way to go unnoticed than commissioning brand new, powerful vessels. The plan was a good one but now it's fallen apart. She'll need a new plan. Another scheme to undermine the High Empire and her tyrannical father's rule of it. She takes a last, long look at Kalor Varkesh. She knows they'll meet again. She vanishes.

    Ameryl waits in the portal room.

    Most Imperium personnel would transfer between ships via the portals, of which there are three here, at the end is a transporter pad for those coming aboard without a connected portal on their end. She's wearing her usual long dress of bright yellow and jet black and has her white hair free flowing over her bare shoulders. She has a small black bow in the back of her hair to reflect the dress she's wearing. She steadies herself, trying to ensure she appears as reserved as possible for her guests.

    She glances back at the transporter chief and gives him a nod. A moment later and the transporter is activated. Two women and three men materialise on the transporter pad. The three men are all wearing standard High Imperial uniforms, while the two women are wearing what is evidently their own choice in clothing. The taller and more striking of the two is wearing... very little.

    Strips of blood red latex wrap around the woman's more private zones while leaving the majority of her lightly tanned skin exposed. Ameryl has seen plenty of prostitutes dressed this way but never a ship's captain. The colour ensemble is red, even down to the leather boots. She stands have a hand on her hip and another holds a peculiar lantern at her side. Its contained in a metal frame but has an eerie blue wisp within its glass panels. She whips her long, blonde hair back, which reaches down to her knees, and steps down from the transporter pad.

    Astrid: "Greetings Emperor Ameryl. Thank you for accepting us."

    Ameryl: "I'm no emperor, High Legatifex."

    Astrid: "Then what should I call you? Arm Ameryl?"

    They share a smile smile between them.

    Ameryl: "I don't need a title. Just call me Ameryl."

    Astrid looks Ameryl up and down for a moment. She stands much taller than Ameryl, who is under five foot while Astrid is six. With an extra few inches for her high heels.

    Astrid: "Do you think such informality is going to make me uncomfortable, Ameryl?"

    Ameryl gives a smug smirk.

    Ameryl: "Yes."

    Astrid: "Look at me, Ameryl. Do I strike you as the formal, military general type?"

    She slowly removes a lock of hair from her chest to give a clearer view. Ameryl stares.

    Ameryl: "I suppose not."

    She says, but she's still looking down.

    Astrid: "Well then. Ameryl is fine by me."

    Ameryl's eyes slide away from the open-aired cleavage and eyes the other girl behind Astrid. She's in constant, animated chatter with one of the guardsmen. Astrid turns and snaps her fingers for attention. The girl looks up, her white afro bobs and wobbles with every movement of her head. As she looks at Ameryl with golden eyes, minus the common pupils of many beings of the Multiverse, Ameryl recognises this woman is of her own species - a Hypericumite.

    She scurries over and hurriedly throws out her hand. She doesn't wait for Ameryl to reach out in return, the girl just grabs her hand and starts shaking it up and down somewhat violently.

    Kleo the Summermaid: "Hi there, your Highness! I'm Kleo! It's really, really great to meet you in person!"

    Ameryl feels her own body rattle from the over enthusiastic handshake and manages to disconnect her hand before she develops motion sickness.

    "I-I'm not your Highness, Kleo."

    Kleo: "You'll always be my queen. Your sister is no queen after she--"

    Kleo's mouth snaps shut. No Hypericumite talks about that in casual conversation. The Great Betrayal of their queen when she obliterated the entire kingdom and all of its people, her people, were slaughtered. Though most do not know the reason for their queen's action, both Kleo and Ameryl are privy to the knowledge that this was done in an attack upon the Powerplayers of the High Empire. And it hadn't worked. Hypericumites murdered for nothing. Those that survived denounced Imeryn as a 'false queen' and many, like Kleo, had created a romanticised visage of their 'true queen', the Ameryl the Gentle.

    Ameryl doesn't like to break their dreams and so she holds her silence on the matter. She's surprised to see Highemperor had had another Hypericumite daughter though. Kleo's cheeks are bright pink most of the time and her skin is almost as white as her hair.

    Astrid: "Perhaps you can ***** about Imeryn later, right now I want to get straight to business."

    Ameryl gestures to the open doorway. Many Imperium ships have no doors. Instead each doorway has a thin, invisible barrier that people unknowingly pass through. The barriers have been set to allow their guests through, so the group are led out of the portal room and into a very wide corridor. It looks like an ancient, stone hall and could fit a tank down it.

    Astrid: "I suppose this is a momentous occasion, The Imperium and the High Empire in an alliance?"

    Ameryl: "I don't see there's much choice since your problem has found its way into our lap. I would have preferred to keep our distance from you."

    Astrid: "So cold, dear Ameryl. My heart is broken."

    Ameryl: "I doubt that very much."

    Astrid's voice is deep, coy and sultry while Ameryl, despite the coldness of her words, is a soft, high-pitched voice that stands in stark contrast with the taller woman's. She looks up to see Astrid's mock-hurt face. Her red lips are pouting.

    Astrid: "You're so mean, Ameryl. After you killed my sister, the least you could do is be nice to me..."

    The tension in the group flares. Ameryl can sense Kleo's wide-eyed shock and Astrid's smug satisfaction. Ameryl had learnt, after the fact, that she had accidentally killed Kimleigh, daughter of Highemperor, during an experimental attack upon the planet Indra. Though it was an accident, Ameryl couldn't say she was especially remorseful. She actually saw some merit in it. The death of a daughter of the Highemperor serves as a great test of the God-Killer's capabilities. And she hopes that Highemperor was deeply wounded by it. He may even have cried. Satisfaction.

    Everything that Imeryn became, and thus everything she did, was his fault. A bit of personal vengeance goes a long way. She has cut herself from her past and yet it always follows her around, like a dark shadow. The shadow of the Highemperor.

    Ameryl: "Do you really think trying to guilt me will force me to open up to you?"

    Astrid: "Yes...?"

    Though Ameryl doesn't feel guilt over the death of Kimleigh, the wide-eyed look of Kleo does. Not living up to the dream someone has of you is a dark moment to go through. She isn't Ameryl the Gentle, she's Ameryl the Destroyer of Gods.

    They enter a wide room with a low ceiling. The walls are also stone, smoothed flat and in every wall are intricate carvings of important beings of The Imperium. The room is dimly lit by drooping lights that hang from the ceiling and at the centre of the room is a long, black, ovular table. A red table spread runs down the centre of it and around the table are a series of black chairs with velvet cushions.

    The guardsmen remain standing. Two at the door and one near the two women.Though Ameryl assured Astrid that they'd be unnecessary, they came anyway. The Imperium, on the other hand, has no guards in the room, leaving Ameryl alone with the five High Imperial personnel.

    She sits down delicately. Astrid slinks into the chair beside her and Kleo the Summermaid plops down beside her sister. Wine materialises itself onto the table.

    Ameryl: "Is wine sufficient for you both?"

    Astrid: "Trying to get me drunk, Ameryl?"

    Ameryl: "No. I'm trying to get myself drunk."

    They share a lukewarm chuckle between them while Kleo sniffs dubiously at the glass of wine.

    Kleo: "I would prefer cranberry juice."

    Astrid rolls her eyes.

    "Does The Imperium have anything so boring as cranberry juice?"

    Ameryl smiles.

    Ameryl: "I not only have cranberry juice but I have traditional Hypericum cranberry juice."

    The wine glass vanishes and is replaced by a slender glass of cranberry juice, formulated to the tradition recipe that Ameryl had entered into the replicator systems long ago. The replication technology itself was purchased from the drow of the NeSiverse and had spread quickly throughout several Imperium installations due to its usefulness. As with most technology bought or acquired, it was improved upon so that food and drink could be replicated to any location instead of just the repolicator bank, like the original design.

    Kleo is more than satisfied with her drink as she happily gulps it down through a big, blue straw. She fiddles with the little umbrella.

    Astrid: "Business then."

    Ameryl: "You are given permission to travel through Imperium space. I have the three ships registered and you'll be able to go almost anywhere you like. Of course you'll be accompanied by my own ships."

    "Afraid we'll start a riot in your territory, Ameryl?"

    Ameryl: "Not really. I'm worried you won't be able to defeat this Indigo Shade and I'll be left with a very big mess on my hands..."

    Astrid: "Oh ye of little faith, Ameryl! Have a heart!"

    "I do! That's why we'll be protecting you."

    Ameryl smirks at Astrid.

    Astrid: "Do you honestly think our ships are so fragile?"

    Ameryl: "No. You know I don't."

    She sighs and tries to explain;

    Ameryl: "If, for some reason, something does happen to you, what kind of poltical mess will that leave? You come in here, die and what will the High Empire think? What will your father do? I don't want him running in here and start blowing things up thinking I killed you. So my people will be there to ensure your safety at all costs..."

    Astrid is pleasantly surprised. Her blue eyes widen with the joy of attention.

    "My my, Imperium soldiers willing to sacrifice their own lives just for mine? I do like this turn of events. I may even get myself into trouble just to see what happens..."

    "Just because I'll be keeping you alive, don't go thinking I won't punish you if you get my personnel killed..."

    Astrid: "Oooh! I do love being punished when I'm naughty. Ameryl of The Imperium spanking an officer of the High Empire. What would people say?"

    Kleo splutters cranberry juice everywhere.

    Astrid: "Oh come now, Kleo. Don't pretend to be the little prude. Everybody knows about you and that little boy of yours."

    Kleo's pink cheeks flush red.

    Kleo: "He's not-- I mean-- what boy!?"

    Ameryl laughs lightly. Astrid does have a wayward charm. She thinks it's a shame she's a daughter of her worst nightmare. And greatest dream.

    Astrid: "I shall lead from Kalor Varkesh. The other ships are standard High Imperial ships. I assume you probably already have complete specs on all of our standard vessels, am I right?"

    Ameryl sips her wine but her eyes flick up to look at the accusing eyes of Astrid. Ameryl slowly lowers the wine glass from her pink-coloured lips. The skin there glistens gently in the low light. She knows Astrid is taken with her, it's written all over her face. Even if Astrid goes around wearing nothing and lures everyone in with her physical beauty and silver tongue, Ameryl long ago learnt to read even the most deceptive of people. Astrid knows the answer to this question, she just enjoys verbally fencing with Ameryl. It's foreplay to her.

    And Ameryl will enjoy refusing her.

    And Astrid will become all the more infatuated for it.

    Ameryl already knows she's won the game, even if Astrid hasn't seen that yet.

    Ameryl: "Doesn't everybody have the specifications to High Imperial ships by now? It doesn't matter if anyone has those specs, little good it would do them without understanding those specs."

    Astrid: "And you don't?"

    She leans her chin on her hand, her little finger poised between her full, rounded lips. Her long lashes bat slowly. Ameryl reaches out and strokes the stem of her glass.

    Ameryl: "What do you think?"

    Kleo: "I think it doesn't matter!"

    Kleo breaks the moment but the two women continue to look into each other's eyes.

    Kleo: "We're friends now! So we should just be open with each other! We've nothing to hide, right!?"

    Astrid: "You're right Kleo. I'd be happy to show you everything, Ameryl..."

    She hasn't moved and speaks with a purr.

    This is it.

    Ameryl: "Honestly, Astrid, I don't think you have anything I would be interested in..."


    Fortunately Astrid isn't the spiteful type and is a good sport. She makes a mock clutch at her heart.

    Astrid: "Wow. Wow... I feel my heart breaking..."

    Kleo suddenly looks to Astrid with a glare.

    Kleo: "Wait, have you two been flirting all this time!? Astrid!"

    Ameryl laughs and rises from her seat. She sweeps around the table, her black and yellow dress flowing after her.

    Ameryl: "It was a pleasure to meet you both. Kleo, it was especially pleasant to meet another of my kind. I hope we can sit together and talk of home some day soon."

    Kleo stumbles to her feet with some awe at being so addressed.

    Kleo: "Th-thank you, your Highness! I'd like nothing more!"

    Astrid slides back into her chair provocatively.

    Astrid: "But you don't want to see me again, Ameryl?"

    Ameryl: "I expect I'll see plenty of you, High Legatifex. When accompanied by your fine guardsmen."

    She pats one of the guards on the shoulder of his armour.

    Astrid shakes her head in defeat but wears a bemused smile.

    Astrid: "One of my sisters told me you're cold as ice, Ameryl. But I didn't believe it. Outside you're as warm and fluffy as a carebear. Inside you're an iceberg."

    Ameryl smiles.

    Then leaves.

    Last edited by TheBritt; 04-29-2017 at 01:58 PM.

  4. #4
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Supermassive

    Shades of an Empire

    Continues from Tales Post 3.

    The ships form a jump pattern. They're widely spaced to ensure they're not going to bump into each other when they emerge on the other end.

    Ameryl stands on the bridge of The Lamb and looks through the viewport at the High Imperial ships. She sees the impressive Kalor Varkesh glide with more agility and precision than most machine space vessels could muster. She actually feels quite envious of High Legatifex Astrid right now. Its draconic form is a dark grey and smoking, like its been recently burnt by the fires of Tartarus itself. She can only see its black, aethereal wings because they blot out the stars of space behind them. Its ribs protrude from the skin and are just as ashen as the skin. Its immense head swings slowly and Ameryl gets the impression that its looking at her. The dragon eyeing up the lamb.

    Ameryl's own ship is little and white to boot.

    It's composed of the bone of a great space whale, mixed with the moon rock of Brethrain. The space whales are known to be incredibly hardy beasts of space and, while not as fearsome as a netherwyrm, they are almost as durable. They're often found swimming through asteroid fields or sailing into dangerous nebulas. Their bones are a precious commodity, fabled for withstanding some of the most powerful weapons known to the great empires of the cosmos. When this material is then combined with the remains of a god, you have a ship that could stand up to almost anything. Brethrain was a literal moon god that looked down upon the planet Indra. After Ameryl destroyed the planet and the moon, remains were gathered up, ground down and combined with whale bone to create an unfathomably durable material.

    Ameryl had had to be extremely careful when she absorbed Brethrain, careful not to consume the entire planet with the God-Killer. That dreaded craft of gods everywhere yet friend to the weak. The fragments had been few but just enough to create a small craft.

    The Lamb is a pretty and dainty looking craft that masks its strength. It's dotted by transparent sections where a film has been applied to the bone-moon material, meaning the windows aren't a liability to the integrity of the craft. It has a smooth, rounded fore with a length at the rear that looks like a tail. Two rounded, squat wings jut out from its sides giving the thing an unusual, fat bird look.

    The Lamb has zero weaponry of its own.

    It doesn't need it.

    The technology used in The Lamb went into its tractor beams, of which there are thousands and each is of incredible strength. The tractors are capable of dragging moons from orbit with ease. Combined with speed to rival even Kalor Varkesh, The Lamb could not only outrun anything but hunt down any ship, disable it and bring it limping home.

    While its tractors could disable even the strongest of capital ships, The Lamb doesn't rely on this alone. Five of its tractors are permanently directing five much larger edifices. They orbit around The Lamb like moons around a planet. They're disc-shaped vessels that have been remoulded from their original design to service The Lamb rather than act as independent crafts. They're coloured, for the most part, dark, menacing red and were once ships of the Omega Reich. While they could, even now, become separate ships, they're redesigned to act in specific roles to support the overall strategy of The Lamb, their hub ship.

    The Lamb gently slips away from Kalor Varkesh, its Greater Omega ships following it in a synchronised pattern.

    When The Lamb is stationary these ships starts to move around it in a seemingly random pattern, sometimes with a lazy loll or sometimes a sudden zip. It looks, from a distance, like a bunch of fish hovering around a small shell.

    The ten mile long High Imperial ships position themselves in a triangular pattern, orientated along a linear plane, with Kalor Varkesh at the front. The two of them are of an identical build. The High Empire, like most empires and militaries, use uniform designs for the vast majority of their vessels and equipment. Kalor Varkesh is something of an anomaly within its fleet, likely the product of a favoured mind. The ships are elongated and adorned with affects that only sometimes serve functionality, other times they're entirely decorative and serve to glorify the empire. Every turret is intricately designed to be visually impressive. Statues stand in lines, honouring favoured souls. One of the latest statues added to the rows was that of Kimleigh.

    A particularly high, gothic tower would be the bridge of the ships, overlooking the other towers like a city. Ameryl has the captains of these two ships on screen, noting that they're both decorated heroes with long service records. Only the best for the task at hand.

    Of course the High Empire had wanted to send even more ships, but Ameryl refused to allow so many of them to come swarming through her territory.

    There are five Imperium ships, excluding the support edifices of The Lamb. Ameryl chose her own personnel based on their experiences battling against the High Empire during the Only War. Each ship is unique and nothing like the other, a trait that has made The Imperium incredibly unpredictable but truly represents the face of The Imperium. A place for individuals.

    Astrid and Kleo had been aboard The Lamb earlier but they wouldn't have any clue what might lurk within the other Imperium ships that are escorting them. Should the High Legatifex have an ulterior motive then she might be in for a surprise.

    Ameryl, however, expects no such thing. The Only War was just that, the only war that will ever happen between them. Ameryl isn't about to hand over the keys to her territory to Astrid but she doesn't fear her or suspect her. The game between them is a cold war and that's how it shall remain under the pressure of mutually assured destruction. And the probable destruction of the entire multiverse.

    The Imperium ships begin to jump first, then the two gothic-styled High Imperial ships jump - their visages elongate further as they appear stretched out, the front of the ship having moved so fast its rear hadn't caught up. Then its gone in a blink. Kalor Varkesh, on the other hand, makes a 'run up'. As it accelerates, netherflame blasts from its mouth and, suddenly, a rip in space-time blasts apart and Kalor Varkesh flies into Tartarus.

    Ameryl stares, wide-eyed.

    She hadn't expected that. The last she had heard of this biological ship, it certainly did make jumps like that. Some recent alterations must have been made. She does, however, recognise the jump drive as the Bagon Noz drive. An exceptionally dangerous jump system that runs the risk of destroying the ships instead of transporting them. Flying through Tartarus would do that. Kalor Varkesh, however, is a netherwyrm. If ever there was a ship perfectly designed for a Bagon Noz drive, it's Kalor Varkesh.

    The Lamb itself, last, shimmers and disappears from reality. There's nothing flashy about this. It's simply functional. It's faster than the standard jump drives of the High Empire or the other Imperium ships, but she wouldn't be able to keep up with Kalor Varkesh. Tartarus is everywhere and as there's no time there, once the netherwyrm bursts out of Tartarus, no time will have passed at all in reality. The Lamb, on the other hand, is travelling along an astral plane that is tethered to reality. It's safer, it's nicer.

    When The Lamb slips gently back into real space, Kalor Varkesh is already there. It's still bristling and sparking with the netherflames of Tartarus but appears to be completely undamaged. Ameryl grits her teeth as she wonders what Astrid could have gotten up to by herself. She may only have had a few minutes on Ameryl but a few minutes is all someone like Astrid would need to wreak havoc.

    A communication requests arrives and Ameryl accepts.

    It's presented as a visual on the viewscreen. This isn't the normal mode of communication between Imperium ships, but when dealing with the vast technological differences of other factions in the multiverse a simple visual display suffices.

    Astrid: "Well then, Ameryl. Are you ready to watch the fireworks? Our infamous Indigo Shade is going to be in for a surprise today, I reckon."

    Ameryl: "Be careful, High Legatifex. Indigo Shade obviously chose Imperium space to cause a ruckus between us. She may even have hoped to force a confrontation."

    Astrid leans forward in her crystalline command chair. Unlike the outside of her ship, the interior of the bridge is made entirely of the crystal technology of the High Empire. Ameryl can see the orion second in command as he puts his hand onto a crystal and rubs it. Ameryl watches the display with concern. It does look awfully suggestive. It's no wonder Astrid goes round with no clothes on when there's men and women stroking and petting expressively all the time.

    "Yes, but she underestimated just how friendly we can be to each other. If anything, I think she's brought us closer together, am I right?"

    She gives Ameryl a cute smile, which is odd when used by a woman who exudes sex appeal and normally has a sultry smirk. Ameryl notices that the weird lantern is still sitting next to her, apparently never out of her sight.

    Ameryl: "Maybe. But don't underestimate her, Astrid. She's managed to constantly evade capture by being several steps ahead of everyone at all times. For all we know we're doing exactly as she had expected us to do."

    Astrid: "You're so mindful, Ameryl. Quite an admirable quality. I just wish you'd turn that beautiful mind my way."

    Ameryl: "Maybe you should put your mind to the task?"

    Ameryl cuts communication before Astrid could continue to pester. The other ships now trail into the system and begin to slowly slide into a new formation as they crawl through space towards the planet Briggan. It's a dwarf planet and the only one in the whole system. The star is a red supergiant. By comparison to this star, the sun of the solar system would be nothing but a dot. And the dwarf planet is smaller still.

    Though red giant is a relavtively cool star, this dwarf planet rests in a zone from the planet that has managed to develop a habitable atmosphere. Though it has weather patterns and liquid water, no life has ever developed there, making it a rocky world with great seas and lakes.

    Reports that Indigo Shade had taken up residence there came through quite quickly and have remained constant. The fact that Indigo Shade doesn't seem to be keeping under the radar has Ameryl thinking a plot is afoot. The suspicion is that she has been recruiting new Shades to her cause and doing that within Imperium territory makes the Imperium suspect itself.

    The ships fly down past the red blaze of the star and draw in on Briggan. Ameryl had expected something to happen by now. Some kind of defensive strategy in play. Instead nothing is happening.

    Ameryl: "There's definitely no signs of life on the planet?"

    No life is the answer from her bridge crew.

    The Lamb has a crew of just fifty, which is in excess of perhaps twenty of what the ship would need to function normally. Traditionally The Imperium has always preferred smaller crews to minimise casualties if a ship goes down. The Lamb, however, is also just too small for a huge crew.

    Ameryl: "Even if she's there she could easily mask herself from scans but there's no readings of anyone at all means either she's alone... or she's not there at all. Could it all have been a ruse? Did she leave already? Strange situation..."

    She grumbles.

    Ameryl: "And a situation I wish was over already. The longer this drags out the more pressure this alliance is under..."

    A request comes through, this time as a message, from Kalor Varkesh. It requests permission to blow up the planet.

    A typical High Empire response to any given situation. If in doubt, blow it up with a big gun.

    Ameryl taps a finger against her chin.

    It is uninhabited...

    Before she could ponder any further a report comes in of a disturbance. Very quickly she doesn't need details as she can see what is happening through the viewscreen. The star has started to collapse, rapidly, into itself. Ameryl gapes for a second before giving orders;

    Ameryl: "Plot an emergency jump!"

    The black hole is unnaturally fast in its growth, the red supergiant is consumed unbelievably fast. Briggan, the little dwarf world, is already gone. The ships of the High Empire have turned away from the star for their own escape route. One of them attempts the jump but the supermassive black hole generates so much gravity that it cannot escape the pull. The front of the ship tries to jump but the rear is not only slower but too slow. The ship bursts in twain, the front half jumps, creating a visual stutter, and then limps. The rear end is exactly where it had been before, only now it's beginning a slow descent towards the black gulf.

    Ameryl is panicking.

    Most galaxies have a supermassive blackhole at their centre, around which the stars and planets orbit. A second supermassive blackhole opening here in one of the arms of the Brontax Galaxy is going to obliterate it.

    All the trillions people that live here.
    Last edited by TheBritt; 01-12-2017 at 09:19 AM.

  5. #5
    Tea-sipper, character-killer


    Shades of an Empire

    Continues from Tales Post 4.

    Ameryl: "Grab the two largest sections of the High Imperial Battlecruiser."

    Locrete Bastelle Andralain glances up from her station.

    The station itself is a combination of silver and black metals, smoothed out so that its as soft as silk. The console panes are lit up a serene blue colour that adds a sense of calm, even now. Despite the immense pressure being placed upon the ship's hull, the interior bridge remains unmoving thanks to an inertia dampener that surrounds the bridge itself. The ship's warp core has a similar dampener to ensure it doesn't rattle into oblivion. Someone suggested that one ought to be placed on toilets, because it would be very embarrassing to be caught in one when the ship comes under fire and you fall face first to your demise. The proposer was demoted.

    While the lower panels are illuminated in blue, the panels behind her are lit up white against the smooth, jet black metal. The tactical officer swings a hand to one of the white panels behind her and it projects onto the front viewscreen of the bridge. It displays the information regarding the High Imperial battlecruiser that has been split in twain after its failed jump out of the Briggan system. Ameryl sees the lifesigns - all quickly dwindling. The fore appears to be the more sturdy half with its personnel outlasting its rival half. Likely the damage isn't as bad and they've been able to seal off the exposed sections with energy barriers. The aft, however, is in much worse state as the hull itself is crumbling - torn apart by the pull of the ever increasing supermassive black hole.

    The Lamb's tractor snaps onto both halves, preventing the rapid descent of the aft into the black hole.

    Andralain: "I have them."

    The serene, graceful beauty of the woman is marred by the bright red irises that glare out at the world with a deep, internal hunger. Once an angel, blessed with purity of her god, now cursed by the lust for blood of the vampire.

    Ameryl: "That was the easy part. The real trick is getting out of here. The pull of the black hole isn't going to allow any normal jump out of here. Even slipping onto the astral plane isn't going to work because it's tethered to the real world... suggestions?"

    Andralain: "Captain, I need to tractor Kalor Varkesh immediately!"

    Ameryl: "Go ahead."

    The vampire-angel sweeps her hand quickly, moving one of the white panels behind her to the viewscreen. Ameryl watches as Varkesh is snagged by another tractor. From the readout she realises that Varkesh has a much lower mass and so it was being dragged into the black hole much faster. The dragon had been clinging to one of the larger battlecruisers before its grip was overcome by the gravity pull. Now the ships are all slipping in slower, but together.

    Ameryl: "Immediate crisis averted. Seriously, no suggestions?"

    There's a sea of forlorn, defeated shrugs. Everyone thinks they could easily escape the problem themselves - the portal room would take them instantly anywhere else within The Imperium, bypassing realspace entirely. They hope.

    Unfortunately they'd be leaving behind the High Imperial ships as well as the Omega Reich platforms.

    The communications officer pipes up that a communication is coming through.

    High Legatifex Astrid:
    "I have a way out of this. It's going to be damn tight though..."

    Ameryl: "We have zero alternatives so I guess your idea is the only one we have."

    Astrid rubs her eye, knowing this is not going to go down well.

    High Legatifex Astrid: "We have a Bagon Noz Drive, it opens a doorway to Tartarus. Once there, we're beyond space and time. The gravity pull in reality won't affect us there."

    Ameryl: "Right... but you have to fly into it first."

    Astrid wiggles her flat hand side to side.

    High Legatifex Astrid:
    "Sooooooort of. You actually get partially pulled inside - don't ask how - but actually if I open it up in the direction of the black hole itself and we dr--"

    Ameryl: "Seriously? If we miss the gateway to Tartarus--"

    High Legatifex Astrid: "I know."

    The remaining High Imperial battlecruiser is already positioning itself behind Kalor Varkesh, tucking itself in close. Being so close to other ships might have resulted in accidental collision, but the netherwyrm can cling onto any ship that gets too close and ride with it.

    "Helm... take us in behind the High Imperial craft. Position the two bulks of their ship in close to Kalor Varkesh. Have our own ships tuck in close to The Lamb too."

    High Legatifex Astrid: "I have a mage onboard who swears he can widen the gateway, hopefully we'll all fit through. I'll have to... jump from ship to ship, backwards, to keep Kalor Varkesh out of the gateway. Once he goes through, it'll close on this end."

    Ameryl rolls her eyes. She gets tired of these do or die scenarios.

    The ships all move, close as they dare. At one point the pull of the supermassive black hole increased exponentially, almost dragging one of The Imperium vessels into The Lamb. Fortunately The Lamb responded by tractoring the ship and guiding it sidewards and up alongside The Lamb instead of colliding into it.

    They have to act quickly. Any more delay would start to break up their ships and time would begin to slow to such an extent that they'd cease to exist in realtime.

    Kalor Varkesh's body bursts with netherflame as a gateway rips open. Ameryl notices that it begins to widen, possibly the results of the mage's efforts, and Kalor Varkesh itself beats its great, aetheral wings as he fights the pull of gravity and the gateway. The first High Imperial battlecruiser slides into the gateway quickly as its pulled by both forces, with netherflame licking its outer hull. The Imperium vessel beside The Lamb flies through next, wobbling as the black hole's pull drags it off course. The yanking of Tartarus, however, manages to pull it back towards the maw and its falls inside.

    The remains of the other High Imperial battlecruiser starts its descent, half guided by the tractor of The Lamb. The fore falls into the gateway, half shoved by Kalor Varkesh. The aft, however, ruptures as the force of Tartarus grips the ship and its weakened hull disintegrates. Pieces of the ship fall into the maw, while the rest breaks up. The biggest bulk does enter Tartarus, but Ameryl doubt anyone would survive in there with the state that its in. She shudders to think what might become of them... what might come upon them.

    As another Imperium ship slowly reaches the threshold, Kalor Varkesh pounces on it. For a moment it looks as though it might tear into the ship and destroy it, but he then leaps off of it. The forward motion takes Varkesh only a fraction away from the gateway, the pull of the black hole too strong to allow him to get away more than that.

    As the gate remains open for longer and longer, Ameryl is sure she can see wisps of something very large, very evil, lurking just beyond vision at the gate's rim. She suspects it's rather curious.

    It came time for The Lamb and its orbiting Greater Omega ships. The tractor tries to pull the other ships in tight, but the pull won't allow her to line them up into a nice queue to pass through the gate. She tries to push them further forward, seeking to fire them at the gate. Two pass through. One hits the rim of the gate.

    It slices in two, like a hot knife through butter.

    Half of the ship slides by the gate and towards the black hole. One half slips into Tartarus - exposed to the demonic elements. She isn't certain which fate is worse, stretched and peeled apart by time or stretched and peeled apart by demons.

    Another Omega ship, small as it is, flings off like a marble and winds its way down, whole, towards the black hole. From the sudden expulsion of that ship, The Lamb bounces and starts to drift away from the Tartarus doorway.

    Ameryl: "That's not good. Tactical Officer..."

    Andralain looks at Ameryl with concern in her eyes. She already knows what she's going to be asked and she doesn't like it.

    Ameryl: "Tractor onto... whatever is inside there and use it to pull us in..."

    Since there's only The Lamb and Kalor Varkesh left, the only option is to pull on something inside. The Lamb jerks back towards the gate. Kalor Varkesh lunges at The Lamb and lands on its hull, its talons groping its shell. They both plunge into hellsfire.
    Last edited by TheBritt; 04-29-2017 at 06:55 AM.

  6. #6
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Her Garden

    The Story of Ameryl
    Her Garden

    This post continues from Tales Post 2. | This post runs parallel to Pan Post 106.

    Ameryl follows darkness to cloud her sight as she closes her eyelids. She sits there quietly, breathing slowly, deeply. She closes off her more colourful senses too - her ability to sense aether in the air, her ability to feel the minds of the people around her, her ability to feel the veil between universes.

    Everything is off. Nothing surrounds her.

    It is a strange sensation. It is nothing yet the absence of something feels like something when one has only ever felt something constantly. It's like a pressure, a weight, a feeling of hollowness, of weakness.

    Suddenly there's a noise in the room.

    Someone cut the cheese.

    A loud, thunderous fart that echoes in the silent chamber.

    Her senses come plunging back into the real world. She keeps her eyes closed in a valiant attempt to ignore the interruption and not grow indignant. Unfortunately the waft of bad eggs, cheese and beans blows into her nose and she quickly begins to gag.

    Her eyes burst open, watering, and she scrambles along the floor in desperation to escape the horrific, scented assault.

    She pins herself against the wall, far away from the torment and peers through tear-stained eyes. The other gana members are still sitting, motionless with their eyes closed. She's the only flincher today.

    Sometimes one of the gaje would throw in a disturbing event to encourage the gana to better focus their minds. Or rather better unfocus on the material world around them.

    Letting a wet one rip, however, takes the buscuit in Ameryl's mind.

    She gets to her feet and draws a deep, disgruntled breath.

    Then regrets it and coughs with a whimper of disgust.

    She leaves the room a failure today.

    The passage is long and narrow with thin open-air windows through which light streams, warm and hot, against the smooth stone of the wat. On the opposite wall are hanging scriptures, each with its own tenet of the Philosophy of Nothing.

    Everything is silent, even the tree in the garden seems to be resisting the urge to rustle in the wind. Sometimes she likes to consider the garden as her garden when sitting there alone. A small, precious place that she might inhabit in solitude. As she passes the arch leading to the garden she happens to spy a gaje there as he gently sweeps the cobblestone. The brush he uses has very soft bristles and his motion is slow and steady. He sweeps once and steps, sweeps again and steps, making smooth, practised progress across the garden. Ameryl stops to watch.

    When he reaches the bench before the tree he sweeps the bench and then seats himself down for a rest. He bears the manifestations of old age; folds of limp skin creating wrinkles all over his face, the last remnants of wisps upon the top of his bald head, the thin and frail frame with which he propels himself through the physical world. From the way he moves his head she realises that he must be blind, although his eyes show no signs of the ailment. As she watches for a moment he raises a thin, gnarled arm in her direction and beckons her over to him. He doesn't lift his head, still staring down at the cobblestones, so she isn't sure if he's actually gesturing towards her. She takes the initiative and ventures forth.

    She identifies him as a falleen, the most obvious feature of the species being the large, flesh mane around the back of their heads. The old gaje's mane is limp and sagging lazily backwards as though it has given up any pretence of importance. Upon his cheek is a white tattoo, a mark that Ameryl knows to be a caste symbol given at birth.

    He lifts his brush and sweeps the bench beside him gently. He then pats the freshly brushed wood and she accepts.

    Gaje: "You have left your meditation early, young pariṣā."

    It's a statement but the implication is a question. It's structured in a way that she may choose to see it as a question and answer it, or choose to accept it as a simple statement of truth and leave it at that. This is a common method for certain Paths within the religion. Having so many paths can make learning the truth very difficult and yet more difficult because most of the Paths assert that there is no one truth but many.

    She nods slowly.

    When he doesn't acknowledge the gesture she remembers his blindness;

    Ameryl: "Yes. Yes I left. Today's test was... unsettling."

    Gaje: "I think I can guess which test you're referring to."

    He chuckles, his high pitch voice dancing through the sounds.

    Gaje: "That'll be old Gaje Hash up to his old tricks."

    Ameryl recalls Gaje Hash as the most serene, old human she has ever seen. The idea that he plays any tricks, let alone dropping nasty arse belches, seems incredulous to Ameryl. She trusts, however, that this old falleen knows his compatriots much better than she does.

    Ameryl: "And what should I call you, gaje?"

    Gaje: "Perhaps you just answered your own question?"

    Ameryl: "If I called every gaje as just gaje, everyone would be very confused."

    The gaje gives his soft, lilting chuckle again.

    Gaje: "True enough. You can refer to me as Orien Aspurr when you gossip about me later with the gana."

    Ameryl: "I doubt I'll be doing much of that."

    Gaje Aspurr: "You have friends."

    She doesn't really want to answer that question and considers taking the offered liberty of accepting it as a statement. There's something about the gaje here that makes her want to open up to them, even if they couldn't possibly comprehend her problems. She shrugs.

    Ameryl: "No I don't. Actually I don't think I ever have. I was... I was considered too important to have friends. Any friends I might have made would have only befriended me for their own position and the rest were too afraid of my position. My sister, I would have thought to be my friend but... apparently not."

    Gaje Aspurr:
    "Well then. This is good."

    Ameryl wonders if she heard that correctly.

    Ameryl: "It's good?"

    Gaje Aspurr: "Aparigraha. Have you heard this term?"

    Ameryl: "I have. It means non-possessiveness. I thought it referred to material effects?"

    Gaje Aspurr: "That's for beginners, young pariṣā."

    Ameryl: "Oh, I see. The beginning of that Path?"

    Gaje Aspurr: "The beginning of every path to Nothing starts with releasing possessions. One cannot be Nothing when you are tethered to Something, whatever that something is. Be it your favourite frying pan or your closest friend."

    Ameryl: "So I am to be friendless?"

    She is disappointed by that. Now being in a position to have friends, finally, she's being told she shouldn't have them. The gaje sweeps his hand across the garden, indicating the whole temple.

    Gaje Aspurr: "All are friends."

    Ameryl: "Uh..."

    Gaje Aspurr: "Your personal attachments will not lead you to Nothing, they will tether you to the physical, the emotional, the mental Something of reality. Instead all are friends. They are not your friends, they are just friends. They are guides, they are listeners, they are aides."

    Ameryl: "I am to accept everyone I come across as a friend but not grow attached to any specific one? That seems... difficult."

    Gaje Aspurr:
    "It seems so now, like any new venture will be daunting at its outset. With time, you will wonder how you ever lived any other way. I am a friend. You are a friend. If you consider everyone thus, you will always be in good company."

    He leans back on the bench and rests his clasped hands upon the handle of his brush, which stands up off of the ground. His eyes, being falleen, are much larger than a hypericumite, are massive and round as they stare out into nothing.

    Ameryl: "Remaining so unattached from the world is almost impossible for me. I can meditate on Nothing, I can clear my senses and my mind yet I am so easily distracted from it. How do you maintain such detachment all of the time?"

    Gaje Aspurr: "Do I seem so detached right now?"

    Ameryl: "Well, no..."

    Gaje Aspurr: "We are limited beings, pariṣā. We are fallable. We require the physical world. We require something. It is not expected that you should be eternally detached until you reach a state of Nothing. When you are Nothing, you will not need Something..."

    Ameryl: "You mean when I'm dead."

    Gaje Aspurr smiles, picking up on her question as a statement. The use is a little clumsy, given the circumstance of the dialogue, but he evidently values the attempt from the amusement on his face.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Do you know of my species, pariṣā? The falleen?"

    Ameryl: "I do. I know of your kind at any rate."

    Gaje Aspurr: "My... kind, as you say, emit pheromones. A quirk of our biology. It's not so uncommon, most species do, but ours tend to be far more potent than most - to the extent of affecting non-falleen to such a degree a falleen might control them. Did you know this?"

    Ameryl: "I didn't..."

    She begins to feel uncomfortable now. A moment ago he was the kindly old gaje, a teacher of Nothing, but now he is a man that could potentially control her will.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Fear, young pariṣā, is a defect in our character we should strive to quell."

    He points affirmitively with his finger, evidently sensing her sudden tension. Once said he puts his pink hand to his chin and strokes the wisps of wiry hair there.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Most falleen could not perform this act without specifically training themselves in the act. I hope you do not harbour a distrust for my kind based on this minor revelation..."

    Ameryl: "All are friends..."

    He barks a jolly laugh at that and pats her robed knee.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Good! Good! You have quick wits! That may help you defog the way to enlightenment for you, though be cautious that wit does not become hubris. That is a very short path and will not end positively..."

    He trails off for a moment.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Oh! I was talking about my people."

    Ameryl couldn't help but smile at that. Using the stated question to mask forgetfulness.

    Ameryl: "You were."

    Gaje Aspurr: "Some of us have a genetic anomaly where our bodies will expel these pheromones in high doses constantly, without respite. It's a disorder. I was born with this disorder..."

    He points vaguely towards his eyes.

    Gaje Aspurr:
    "As luck would have it, I was birthed with two major disorders. I would attract many people to my side and never even know about it. Wandering around, I would have a trail of people following after me."

    Ameryl: "If I couldn't sympathise with you I might have thought that image pretty funny. But I guess that would be terrible. A line of unwitting stalkers..."

    Gaje Aspurr: "Falleen with this disorder must learn control. It takes more than medicine, it takes willpower. My physical body was a hindrance that had to be controlled by the power of the mind--"

    He taps his pink skull clumsily.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Mind over body."

    Ameryl: "But isn't the mind also a hindrance?"

    He smiles, enjoying the thrill of a smart student, an insightful pariṣā.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Yes, it is. But the mind can be easily guided by the mind itself. The body, however, is a very difficult vehicle to steer when the driver is intangible."

    Ameryl: "The mind being the driver."

    Gaje Aspurr: "Correct. The Path must first begin with mental acceptance, education and thought. Then the body. I learnt to inhibit my pheromones. Every minute of every day, a part of my mind performs this task and every day it shall be until I am truly Nothing."

    Ameryl: "You don't consider yourself to be Nothing already?"

    Gaje Aspurr: "We cannot be Nothing, we can only become Nothing. Once we are Nothing then we cease to be anything. So long as you can be, then you are Something."

    Ameryl: "So death is the final goal?"

    Then the gaje sighs. His little pupil has not followed the message.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Nothing will come. It conquers all. It is the inescapable Truth. The Path is not Nothing. The Path is Something on the road to Nothing. The Path is how you intend to reach that state. Once Nothing, you have reached the end of your Path. We have to overcome the limitations of our existence, the limitations of Something, be those limitations the flaws of the mind or the flaws of the physical realm."

    Ameryl: "I do understand..."

    She thinks of her life, her sister. And she knows that that is her limitation. Her Path must be to overcome this limita--

    She jolts to her feet as she sees a figure sweep by the open archway. Orien Aspurr feels her sudden movement and looks bemused at her sudden energy. She dashes to the arch and looks down the corridor at the receding figure.

    Ameryl: "It... couldn't be..."

    She turns back to the falleen gaje but as she approaches him again he holds up a hand to halt her.

    Gaje Aspurr: "I have taught you all that I can for now, pariṣā. You must meditate on your Path before you seek further guidance. The Path must be walked down lest you arrive at your destination too soon..."

    She nods slowly and then remembers her words;

    Ameryl: "Thank you, gaje. Your wisdom astounds me... and perplexes me. I do have to meditate on this but I think I understand my Path..."

    Gaje Aspurr: "And please, be careful not to disturb the Path of others. Even the smallest of us has a Path to tread. Be weary that you do not tread upon their Paths as you go..."

    He slowly gets to his feet with considerable effort.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Investigate for yourself and you may find new questions. Take care, pariṣā."

    He resumes his little sweeping motion as he makes his way to the opposite end of the garden where he would retire to the rooms he stays in. As he goes his broom gently sweeps aside a scuttling cockroach, which then franticly scurries away - spared the boot.

    Ameryl turns and steps back through the arch, considering if she ought to get a brush too, when she bumps straight into somebody. She grunts with the unexpected body but finds herself suddenly entangled in whoever it is. Initially she thinks she got herself into the mess, then realises she's being grabbed. She reels back until she sees who the diminutive body is.

    Ameryl: "It is you!"

    Peysiant Guril: "Yes, it is I! And I am very surprised to find you here, my queen! Such serendipity!"

    Ameryl: "I am no queen, Peysiant Guril! But to meet you here is... the chances are... impossible!"

    She awkwardly fumbles with her fingers. She's never felt this way before. Both enraptured and resentful at once. She is ecstatic to see the object of her affection after all this time and yet she hates her very presence, knowing it is interfering already with her attempt at a new lease of life. How can she be free of her past if it keeps following after her.

    Peysiant Guril:
    "What's wrong? Aren't you happy to see me again? I'm happy to see you! If only it had been you that I had married... your sister she--"

    Ameryl raises her hand for immediate hush.

    Ameryl: "Do not speak of her. I do not wish to know anything."

    Peysiant Guril: "But-- I-- It's been so hard, I thought you'd... listen..."

    Ameryl forces a smile. She isn't wearing the usual dresses she enjoys, instead she's bound in a beige robe with bandage wraps around her legs and arms, but she has allowed herself the indulgence of pink lipstick.

    Ameryl: "Then your first lesson as a seeker of Nothing is to release yourself from your past and start from the very moment you arrived in this wat."

    She must unburden herself of Peysiant Guril and their former relationship must be as nothing. Yet all are friends. That must mean Peysiant Guril too.

    Peysiant Guril: "Oh... I really only just arrived. I met Gaje-- I mean a gaje -- when I was -- I was -- here in El'Psassment. How long have you been here?"

    Ameryl: "Quite some time now. At first I just watched them--"

    Peysiant Guril brightens at that, though Ameryl doesn't know why.

    "I felt lost. But the tranquillity here is infectious. They allowed me to stay, to heal and I began to learn."

    Peysiant Guril: "So, am I to call you gaje?"

    She gives Ameryl a teasing smile and the pink-haired Ameryl cannot help but blush and laugh.

    Ameryl: "No! Absolutely not! I am nothing. Or rather I shall become Nothing."

    Peysiant Guril:
    "Are you sure you're not a gaje, you sure sound like mine."

    Ameryl shakes her head.

    Ameryl: "Your attachment to this gaje is incidental, Peasant Girl. He is not your gaje, he is a gaje. If you find the Path he teaches is your Path, then he is a guide for that Path and you are a pariṣā of that Path - like many others."

    Peysiant Guril: "You... really have been here a long time, haven't you?"

    Ameryl isn't sure if she's being rude, but this religious discourse helps to keep her from saying what she is feeling. Her breath is shallow and her mind unfocused.

    Ameryl: "I have to go and bathe now, Peasant Girl. I am... glad that you are well."

    The smaller girl looks saddened, obviously having wanted a much warmer reunion. Ameryl can't help but wonder if Peysiant Guril has stalked her here. Perhaps she's even a spy for her sister, come to manipulate her in her choices - just like the butler has been.

    Ameryl sighs. If she treats Peysiant Guril as she would treat any fair weather friend, then she cannot get close enough to hurt her - whether she is in cahoots with her sister or not.

    Ameryl bows her head to Peysiant Guril. She gasps and looks horrified at the gesture. Ameryl just shakes her head and says, as she walks away;

    Ameryl: "I am not your queen, Peysiant Guril. I bow just as others would bow to me..."

    Some time later Ameryl slinks into her milk bath. The water is hot and the milk is like silk against her bare skin. El'Psassment is a hot city, with the sun forever beating down upon the land, and already her delicate white skin is showing not only the signs of a tan but weathering. Milk baths stave off the ill effects of the ultraviolet light of the star, the lactic acid removing the dead skin cells. She's added nutmeg to the mix for the wonderful fragrance that will cling to her body for days.

    She rests her head upon the back of the bath and looks up at the tiled ceiling. The temple is nothing like the temples of Hypericum, where 'big' was never 'big enough'. Each temple would have to be bigger than the last, the apse forever expanding upwards and outwards with ever more intricate murials within the dome. A single roof is never enough when you can have many roofs all on one roof! The Bochka system employed, having many cylindrical roofs sitting atop each other to reach upwards to the skies. A tented roof would stand at the very top, its tip often peaked with some glorious symbol or statue of some past monarch or saviour. Support columns had to do more than just prop up the roof, they had to be examples of greatness and wonder. Pilasters would line the walls to create the illusion of strength and integrity.

    That was once what 'temple' meant to Ameryl.

    The wat she is in is almost the inverse of everything she once knew. It is squat, with just two floors, and mostly shaped in a practical, if somewhat uninspired, box. It's lack of height is made up by being fairly broad, with several wings being used for accommodation, teaching rooms, meditation dens, prayer rooms. There's a large congregation room for those that engage in mass gatherings and there's a canteen for the bodily needs of those that live here. Even the garden is quite small and simple, maintained by the practitioners themselves, usually out of want to encourage life rather than an obligation or duty to keep it in order.

    Her room is actually more spacious than she would have expected given the outside dimensions. The floor is smooth stone, but is covered in several rugs to be easier on her feet. There's a single open-air window that she could clamber out of if she wished to. She does have a double bed, which has plain but very comfortable bedding. The bath is at the foot of the bed and is pretty rotund. The most frustrating aspect of the wat's rooms are the lack of toilets. It's chamber pots or nothing.

    The embarrassing act of emptying her own chamber pot, along with everyone else doing the same, has never really worn off. She'll often sneak out at night to do the dirty deed when there's fewer people around.

    She looks down into the milk where her long pink hair is floating on the surface. She does love pink. But releasing herself from the association of pink hair may well be a step away from what made her Ameryl the Hypericumite and a step closer towards Ameryl of the future. She touches a lock of her hair and whispers a short chant to induce a magical flower of aether into her hair. The pink drains and is replaced with the same warm white of the milk she's bathing in.

    Peysiant Guril: "It suits you."

    Ameryl's heart skips a beat.

    Before she can turn around to look at the intruder, Peysiant Guril's face slink up next to her own. Ameryl's left cheek meets Peysiant's right cheek and the sudden warmth of skin sends a surge of delight through Ameryl. Through drooping eyes she looks at the beautiful face of the woman she had once intended to wed. She was a young woman filled with romantic sentiment and love, something Ameryl was instantly enamoured with when the girl first made her proposal. Highemperor had also had the charm that invoked adoration, but it was false. It was forced upon her by his powerplaying the part. Peysiant Guril, on the other hand, had nothing but her heart on her sleeve.

    Ameryl leans forward and gingerly her lips grace the soft skin of Peysiant's cheek. Peysiant slowly turns her head so that her lips would stroke Ameryl's, a sensation like silk sliding against silk. The warmth of the bath and the scent of nutmeg in the air seems stronger than ever as her senses open up to take in the delights of the physical world. Nothing is forbidden, everything is permitted, and the tenets allow for indulging in the real world whenever desired. It is the concept of possessing it that is a broken Path. And so Ameryl allows herself to succumb to the stimulation.

    She gives an unconscious whine for more contact Peysiant's fingers caress Ameryl's cheeks, holding the royal-born into the passionate, tongue-locked kiss. With nary a word, the low-born peasant deftly lifts one leg up and then slides into the bathtub atop of Ameryl - revealing that the girl had gotten herself naked before ever approaching the tub. Ameryl might have been angry at this presumption, but right now her mind is under the control of her body. Ameryl gasps at the warm air as Peysiant starts to firmly make out with Ameryl's neck. She clutches at Peysiant's bare, white back, pulling their bodies closer together. The milk acts like a lubricant, causing frictionless, movement like two sheets of white chiffon.

    Ameryl: "I need you, Peasant. I need you so much right now. I've been so lost."

    Ameryl implores through a whisper into Peysiant's ear.

    Peysiant Guril: "I'm here for you, my -- my Ameryl. I won't go anywhere."

    Peysiant Guril, the more experienced of the two, takes charge as she inches apart her once queen's legs.


    Britt the Writer: "And the rest is in your imagination."

    Al Ciao the Writer: "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! It was just getting to the good stuff!!!"

    Britt the Writer: "Alas, I seem to have come over with a sudden illness that means I shall never be able to write any more on this post. I think it's called 'Imnotapervywriter...itis'. Enjoy what ya got! Now, I must leave!"

    Al Ciao the Writer looks up from his computer screen with a frown to see Britt the Writer is wearing a bird mask.

    Al Ciao the Writer: "Uh..."

    Britt the Writer: "Revenge of Zhuge! CAW CAW CAW!"

    Al Ciao the Writer: "Yaaaaaaaargh!"
    Last edited by TheBritt; 01-21-2017 at 12:58 PM.

  7. #7
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Dreams Lead to Nothing

    The Story of Ameryl
    Dreams Lead to Nothing

    Continues from Tales Post 6. This post runs parallel to Pan Post 106.

    Ameryl stands, leaning her back against the warm stone wall of her room at the wat. Peysiant Guril is sleeping softly in her bed, even though her guest has her own bedroom. This attachment is delivering neither of them to the promise of Nothing, as they're both focused so much on Something; that being their relationship. In many ways Ameryl feels like she could continue on this way with Peysiant Guril, who has shown herself to be ever more the soul mate than Highemperor ever was. Highemperor might have been charming and handsome but these shallow characteristics only mask the more sinister, selfishness of his person that now, free of him, Ameryl sees as clear as day. Peysiant Guril, for all her unusual flaws, is nothing if entirely genuine and open about who she is and what she wants.

    Those flaws are pretty damn weird though. It started with her asking Ameryl to get undressed in the bedroom while she stays outside of the room and peeks in through the keyhole. There was no sex, just peeking...

    But it doesn't bother her half as much as her own emotional baggage. When they are together, out shopping in New Sima or sitting in quiet meditation in the temple garden, then she feels that they are meant to be together and this is what should have been all along. But then memories resurface and now, as she looks at Peysiant Guril's heart-shaped face in the low light room she is reminded of her sister. Imeryn and Ameryl had both fallen for the same woman, yet while Ameryl had been content to share their prize, Imeryn had not. Imeryn's selfishness, imbued by Highemperor, separated Ameryl from this loving relationship and into exile. She wants to forget and move on but when she sees Peysiant Guril like this her mind always flashes back to that day she approached the dual thrones of Hypericum and asked for their hands. Ameryl, even now, isn't certain if Peysiant Guril had been asking her or her sister or expected both of them.

    Ameryl glances away and lifts the heavy, brown drape in front of the open window to look out at the brilliantly lit world beyond the temple walls. The sun never sets here, the curtains are always thick. The scent of bacon drifts towards her from an open air market not far away, which mixes with the gentler smell of flowers, which are growing just outside the window.

    She drops the curtain back, once again staving off the bright light that might disturb her lover's sleep. Ameryl mutters a quick spell and her short, white nightie is replaced by her usual drab robes. Her lips, however, once again sparkle with pink gloss. She leans over the bed and lays a long, though gentle, kiss upon the sleeper's lips.

    Then she is gone.

    She doesn't get far from the temple doors when someone calls out to her.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Farewell, pariṣā. May you never forget your Path..."

    Ameryl bows her head to the old gaje, who is sitting on a bench just outside the doors like he was waiting for her. He is smiling serenely.

    Ameryl: "Farewell, gaje. I hope you will have better luck teaching the rest of the gana than you have had with me..."

    She doesn't ask why Orien Aspurr is there, or if he had foreseen her departure. Nor does she question why he does not try to persuade her to stay. These are idle questions when dealing with the realm of mysticism.

    Gaje Aspurr: "You believe you have failed."

    Ameryl: "Surely my running away from here proves that?"

    He shakes his head in amusement.

    Gaje Aspurr: "Or perhaps it demonstrates our greatest success. You leave because you know you must leave. Not because you are afraid to stay. Success in teaching is not judged by what you have learnt but in how open-minded you have become. Now, pariṣā, you can learn the Path yourself."

    Those words of encouragement fill Ameryl's heart.

    Ameryl: "Thank you, gaje. If you could... tell Peysiant Guril I left... I would appreciate that."

    The old falleen struggles to his feet and leans on the broom he takes everywhere. As he moves towards her he, as always, gently sweeps the ground to remove any creatures that might be unfortunate enough to be crushed underfoot. When he nears her he reaches out and pats her on the arm, affectionately.

    Gaje Aspurr:
    "If she commits herself to Nothing when you are gone, then she will understand and appreciate the decision you have made. You do this for both of you."

    Ameryl nods slowly. Perhaps part of her is concerned about Peysiant Guril's Path to Nothing too, but she has to be honest with herself; the move is largely a selfish one. These months have been a turbulent wash of passion and then depression and back to passion again. She is pretty sure that Peysiant Guril, too, has been experiencing uncomfortable memories. Ameryl looks so much like her twin sister that Peysiant Guril must often be reminded of their marriage together, both the good and the bad times. The fact that Peysiant Guril never accidentally called her Imeryn is a true testament to the woman's presence of mind.

    Ameryl turns and walks away from the wat. She takes a last look at its grey, stone walls and sees the windows to her room where the heavy brown drapes conceal its contents. There her love would be sleeping gently. A tear slips from Ameryl's eye. She hopes Peysiant Guril doesn't cry too. But she cannot stay here just from guilt of hurting Peysiant's feelings. It is best for them both in the long run.

    She thinks.

    The only passage off of the planet she was able to get was as part of a flotilla of space gypsies. She accidentally ran into a fox-like man with fuzzy blue fur and green hair he wore in a braid. He said his name was Reimi Soulstar and he's an engineer on one of the ships. The flotilla happened to be passing by and he was getting supplies. When she told him she had nowhere to go, he offered her a place immediately. The kindness of the stranger overwhelmed her and he accepted without really considering her options.

    She hasn't regretted it.

    Today has been the first day she has ever gotten her hands truly dirty.

    Oil is splashed all over her forearms, where she has rolled up the sleeves of her beige robe, and the leather gloves Reimi borrowed her have done little to keep them clean either.

    And she is loving it.

    She finds the sensation of washing after getting so dirty to be incredibly cathartic. The struggle of repairing machinery is swept away and her body is renewed each time. She methodically scrubs every inch of her fingers to ensure that the grime is gone.

    The food is great too. It's greasy and heavy, sitting in the stomach for days, but it makes her feel hearty and whole. The atmosphere is generally jovial, with the crewmembers shouting jibes at each other all day long. Reimi teaches her how to help him make the minor repairs and she is quick to learn. Given an incredibly short time she is able to learn how to even fix the warp core, which seems incredibly temperamental and likely to explode every other day.

    Reimi Soulstar is almost always wearing a white lab coat and a pair of oversized goggles on his forehead. Yet she never sees him actually use those goggles and she's certain they're just for show. This is especially silly since he seems to be constantly blinding himself with sparks or dirt.

    He has an interesting penchant for naming things. The engine, after he upgraded it, was dubbed the FRED drive. The Freakishly Rad Energy Drive. He quickly declared than he and Ameryl were now BFFs and was always more than keen to go travelling down to the new worlds that the flotilla happened upon. Together they, and other travellers of the flotilla, were able to see many strange new worlds and new civilisations.

    This lasted several months until they came to the planet Dreidos. The world is a massive planet and teeming with life. Eager for supplies Reimi and Ameryl go planetside to investigate. There they discover that this planet is one of many within a vast empire called The Imperium.

    Reimi: "Never heard of ya."

    Reimi shrugs as they gossip with a vendor. The salesman appears to be just human, nothing out of the ordinary, yet around them are all kinds of strange alien beings. The place is almost as varied as New Sima had been. A couple of guards troop through by, apparently on their way to save a cat's owner from a tree, but otherwise she couldn't see much sign of this imperial presence.

    Ameryl: "If this is an empire than spans universes, how does the people get around? It seems highly improbable."

    The vendor laughs and jerks a thumb to indicate they ought to venture further through the market and they'll find their answer. Ameryl, having become something of a technology obsessive since meeting Reimi, is keen to go and check out the device. Reimi seems interested, but he is just as interested in even the smallest and most common of machine parts making it difficult to drag him away from the vendor once he spotted a games console he exclaimed to be a precious and incredibly rare Sega CD. Ameryl thinks it sounds like a sexually transmitted disease but he buys it anyway and after bartering for twenty minutes (yet only reducing the price by a paltry two pennies) they make their way through the crowds.

    As they go they find it becomes busier and busier. Queues are formed but they skip past so that they could get a look at what they are all waiting for. As they come from under a shop's canopy they are suddenly struck by a massive, spherical gate with a shimmering centre. The technological apparatus appears to be quite out of place in this rather mundane outdoor market filled with nothing but the basic odds and ends, yet there it stands. People are filing into it from three queues - though one being is so fat that he's actually occupying a whole row in each queue by himself - and disappear. On the other side people are exiting the portal, and they're definitely not the same ones going in.

    Ameryl: "I have seen portals before, but this one seems very... functional! I wonder where it leads."

    Reimi: "Probably everywhere! I bet there's a hub inside there, you choose your door and poof you're wherever you want to be. Provided there's another one of them gates. I wonder if I could... study this thing..."

    Ameryl looks sidelong at him. She has come to hear the sound of discovery and invention in his voice, like a sudden drop in tone as though speaking reverently. He suddenly snaps out it and looks at Ameryl with a broad foxy grin on his face.

    Reimi: "Shall we go in?"

    Ameryl: "If we go in, we might not be able to come back. And then the flotilla will leave without us."

    Reimi: "... adventure time!"

    He runs off, his white coat flapping behind him, and dives into the portal. He shoves several other people out of the way, who all give indignant expletives. He did actually bounce off of the massively rotund being, and then went through the shimmer. Ameryl, wide eyed, looks at the other side of the portal where he doesn't emerge. He's actually gone through it.

    She waits, thinking he might come back.

    He doesn't.

    Ameryl: "My turn, I suppose."

    Ameryl jumps up into the air and floats over the heads of the people. Some point up, angrily at her.

    Queuer #1: "Oi! Another one is pushing in!"

    Queuer #2: "Bloody colonials, I bet!"

    Queuer #3: "Bugger it, I'm going for it too!"

    Queuer #4: "Oi! Stop pushing!"

    Queuer #5: "Get out of my way! Let me in first!"

    Queuer #6: "Guards! Guards!"

    So what is usually a very orderly, quiet process for Dreidos is suddenly marred by a riot as people start pushing and shoving to get through the portal first. Ameryl slips over heads and plunges through the Dream Gate, escaping the guards and any possible consequences.

    She lands inside the Dream Hub where she spots Reimi Soulstar. Normally he's easy to spot because he's bright blue, but amongst these eclectic people he blends in rather well. Instead she spots him because he's climbing on a statue. He sees her and waves.

    She's tempted to pretend she doesn't know him, but she cannot claim any sort of innocence after she just caused a riot back on dry land. She hovers over to him.

    Ameryl: "Why are you climbing on that statue?"

    He ushers her over and embraces her, heads beside each other, and snaps a selfie; the statue's head next to his.

    Reimi: "Me, you and EMPEROR!"

    Ameryl looks at the statue. It's very tall, yet the proportions of the being they're looking at give the impression of a very, very short child-like being.

    Ameryl: "This is the emperor of The Imperium?"

    Reimi: "EMPEROR not emperor!"

    Ameryl: "I didn't hear the difference..."

    Reimi: "He's not the emperor of The Imperium. He's the ruler of Deidos."

    Ameryl: "Dreidos? The world we just left?"

    Reimi: "No no. Deidos. It's the sister planet to Dreidos. Well... the alternate universe version at any rate. They changed the name of it so there's, at least, a subtle difference."

    Ameryl frowns.

    Ameryl: "How do you know this? I thought you hadn't heard of The Imperium?"

    Reimi shrugs.

    Reimi: "I lied. I just think it's funny to annoy really patriotic types by telling them you've never heard of their country!"

    He jumps down and points at a plaque.

    Reimi: "Plus I read the information sign."

    Ameryl: "So, shall we see Deidros? See what's different compared to Dreidos?"

    Reimi: "Sounds like it'll be interesting! How do we get there?"

    Ameryl: "I assume one of these doors leads there..."

    After pestering several people for information on how to get out of this Dream Hub they finally are able to call up a door to let them access Deidros. Oddly there seems to be a required 'time' input section too, though the system is severely limiting their choices in time. Reimi suspects it's to prevent large scale time travel paradoxes. As they select their destination they step through.

    As they do there's a sudden oppressive heat and Ameryl instinctively raises a protective shield around them. Deidros is burning.

    The whole planet is molten slag.

  8. #8
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Plague

    The Story of Ameryl
    The Plague

    Continues from Tales Post 7.

    Ameryl feels her magical shield vaporise, drained away by some unseen force. She panics, expecting to be burnt alive along with the melting landscape around her.

    Instead she her breath drawn from her lungs and, an instant later she gasps a whole new breath of air aboard a strange, alien vessel. She gawks at her change in surroundings and figures she was involuntarily beamed aboard. They must have dissolved her shield in order to lock on and transport her. To her side, Reimi Soulstar he gasping with a great deal of enthusiasm. He'll be demanding compensation with the hyperbole he's putting on. Beamed up from a destroyed world and it wasn't your fault? Reimi might have solicitors on speed dial.

    She observes the room. The walls, the floor and the ceiling are all white and polished. At first she thinks it looks like bone. As she inspects it closely she realises that it is bone. An ovular door slides open to reveal a corridor also made of bone beyond. A single man walks into the room. He is very tall and has the appearance of a human.

    Space Orca: "I'm Space Orca. Who the Hell're you two?"

    Ameryl is taken back by the abrupt nature of the stranger. He's wearing an outfit of leather that's coloured mostly black with areas of white and accents of marine blue. Before Ameryl can begin to negotiate, her friend pipes up;

    Reimi: "You nearly killed us back there! You have no bloody right to be yanking us through space! If we want to melt our faces off on a burning planet then that's our prerogative!"

    Ameryl: "Reimi, you're not helping."

    Space Orca: "Damn right he's not helping. Yo, fuzzball. Shaddap!"

    Reimi: "Oi! Space whale, you shaddap!"

    Space Orca: "Huh! Funny you should mention space whales..."

    He spreads his hands out.

    Reimi: "Whoa! Seriously?"

    Reimi rushes to the walls and starts to caress the bone.

    Reimi: "I take it all back. Thank you for bringing me here."

    Space Orca: "I guess some people are easily pleased..."

    Ameryl: "Space Orca. Please explain to us what is happening. Why have we been brought here?"

    Space Orca:
    "You first, hotness."

    Ameryl: "H-Hotness!?"

    Space Orca: "What were you doing on Deidros. How did you even get there? The Dream Gate should have been sealed."

    Reimi turns from the walls guiltily.

    Reimi: "Yeah... might have been my fault there. I might have sort of broke the lock."

    Both Ameryl and Space Orca glare at Reimi.

    Reimi: "Hey! It just said there was a plague! And that's always a lie just to keep tourists from the really interesting stuff going on!"

    Ameryl: "... like burning planets."

    Reimi: "Exactly! See? What plague!"

    Space Orca: "There was a plague alright. Burnt it with fire."

    Ameryl: "You... burnt the whole planet for a plague!?"

    Space Orca: "I'm not talking about the sniffles here. Actually it's more of an infestation. Come on. You're stuck on my ship now, you may as well tag along and see what you've gotten yourself into."

    Ameryl and Reimi follow after him.

    Ameryl: "You let all of your captives wander your ship?"

    Space Orca shrugs.

    Space Orca: "Probably more often than not, yeah. But I can tell you're no ordinary wanderer, right? You have this air about you. The way you carry yourself. You were definitely born with a stick up your ass."

    Ameryl: "I beg your pardon!?"

    Space Orca:
    "Yo, fuzzball, stop humping my walls."

    Reimi: "I'm not h-- okay, I'll stop."

    They pass into a wide corridor which is lined with alcoves every few metres. In each alcove is a mounted dead animal, each in its own natural pose. One is a massive, blue, turtle-like creature with cannons on its shell. The tag reads 'Blastoise'. Another is even bigger, this one looking like a gigantic, blue, Chinese dragon with fins. The tag reads 'Gyarados'.

    Ameryl: "There are a lot of creatures here. Why do you keep these trophies?"

    Space Orca: "They're called Pokémon. I've declared a personal vendetta against the beasts for many years. I tell you, some of them have been a real struggle to hunt and kill. This one for example--"

    They stop and he points to a small, yellow mouse-like creature with bright red cheeks and lightning bolt tail.

    Ameryl: "Pikachu? It looks harmless..."

    Space Orca: "That is the most wicked creature in the cosmos."

    Ameryl: "Right..."

    Ameryl feels he may be missing a few marbles in his noggin. She follows him the rest of the way, Reimi trailing behind as he become enraptured with the smallest of details on the way. The consoles for the ship are used by touching anywhere on the bone wall, causing a screen to appear under the fingers. Reimi starts to make dozens of consoles appear on the wall all at once just to see what would happen. There a faint breathing wind that blows steadily forwards and backwards down the long corridors. The lighting is quite dim but brightened by the bright white walls. The corridors themselves are cylindrical tunnels, but given a solid metal floor for people to walk on. Only when entering the rooms have specific shapes been carved into the bone. The space whale that they are inside of is largely comprised of solid bone, with its organs being hidden within bone cases elsewhere in its solidified body.

    They enter a wide room with a low ceiling and Space Orca brings up a holographic projection. The image appears solid enough that it might have been real.

    Reimi: "That is a very ugly Pokémon..."

    Space Orca: "I wish that was a Pokémon. At least Pokémon have the decency to be animals. These things are a plague on the galaxy. Or universe. Who bloody knows?"

    The creature is much taller than the three of them, even Space Orca who towers over Ameryl, and has a long, thin body that ends with a long tail that sways and then snaps suddenly to the side. Its long head bares a maw filled with sharp teeth and two elongated fangs that drip with saliva. Two bat-like wings are spread from its back, the tips poking through the ceiling as it is just a little too low to accommodate the projection. Its skin looks like wet leather and its claws are like blades. Truly it is something made of nightmares.

    Space Orca: "As horrific as it looks it's even more dangerous than you might know. These bad boys, which we've been calling Darke Spawn, can actually freeze time within their vicinity. They can then take you apart, piece by piece, while you stand there helpless to stop it. When they release time, you're already dead and eaten."

    Ameryl: "Th-that's awful!"

    Space Orca: "Yeah it is. Nasty blighters. They appeared on Deidros. We tried to contain the situation but more and more of them kept appearing all over the damn planet. Before we knew it the whole world was infested. We spent several days evacuating as many people as we could before... well, before we rained down hells fire on the whole damn planet."

    Ameryl: "You destroyed the whole world because of this?"

    Space Orca: "Had to. If we left it, the Darke Spawn would have gotten off world eventually and infected more planets. We destroyed Deidros for the sake of the galaxy."

    Reimi: "You couldn't have gotten everyone off the planet before you..."

    Ameryl: "Those poor people."

    Space Orca: "No choice. They died so that many, many more could live. We were just done and checking out our handiwork when you pair appeared. Can't believe the Dream Gate was still standing. I suppose they are made of orichalcum. Still, colour me surprised. Someone should already have locked the gate again."

    He points accusingly at Reimi Soulstar.

    Space Orca: "Hack Imperium gates like that again, fuzzball, and I'll have your hide mounted with my Pokémon."

    Reimi: "Call me fuzzball one more time and I'll go around making it my personal mission to hack every Dream Gate in the Multiverse."

    Ameryl: "Stop. I'm getting a headache listening to you two already."

    She turns to Space Orca.

    Ameryl: "You have your answer now, Space Orca. You should let us go."

    Space Orca: "Sorry, hotness, you've seen too much. I can't let you leave this ship... alive."

    Ameryl takes a step back from Space Orca, ready to start casting spells of defence. The man then snorts through his large nose.

    Space Orca: "Haha! Just winding you up, short stuff. You're free to go once someone does a background check on you both. Make sure you're not wanted terrorists or anything. You're not are you?"


    Reimi: "Does blowing up a McDonalds count?"

    Space Orca: "Why would you blow up McDonalds?"

    Reimi: "They refused to serve me breakfast."

    Space Orca: "Then they deserved it. Free pass in my book."

    Reimi was eventually given a ship and permitted to fly off wherever he wanted to go. He decided he would seek out a flotilla in this universe to join and Ameryl was about to join him when she decided she wanted to move away from flotilla life and try something else. Though she had enjoyed the experience, she finds herself missing the luxurious lifestyle that she was once used to. Though living a life of splendour would certainly be counterproductive to seeking out a life free of material effects, she believes that enjoyment of her existence does not mean foregoing the more pleasurable experiences that a bodily existence offers. It is not abstinence that her religion requires, it is freedom from reliance that is necessary.

    She first found herself within human controlled worlds under a faction named the Galactic Empire of the Milky Way. She admires and respects the foundations of this empire, its integrity and devotion to order are qualities she came to admire. However she found herself slipping over the border of their space into their rival faction's space and continued her voyage of discovery. This group, the rebellion or sometimes the 'alliance', were less to her tastes. They seemed to be hell bent on being a republic, a system of governance where people sit around all day and argue without getting anything done. Unorganised and passionate, the rebellion seems to be a complete shambles. Yet even here there are places of beauty and serenity.

    She eventually discovers the planet Algernon, which had long stood as an independent planet against both the empire and the rebellion until it eventually sided with the rebellion to maintain its autonomy when under threat from the empire. She spends a few days on the planet, spending her time within the high-class parts of society that are quick to accept her thanks to her former nobility. A planet obsessed with rank and royal bloodlines is most keen to see exotic queens in exile show up. There she finds a very nice restaurant that quickly becomes her favourite place on the planet thanks to its beautiful, scenic vistas of the wonderful waterfall district...

    Continues in Pan Post 58.

  9. #9
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Fractured Reality

    The Peacekeepers
    Fractured Reality

    The sandstorm whips across the empty dunes as the twin suns of the star system blast them with heat. This inhospitable landscape is suddenly intruded upon when a figure solidifies onto it, phasing onto the desert at a run. Each molecule rapidly generating itself into existence, causing the woman to appear pixelated until full formed. She doesn't stop running despite her new environment. She holds out her hand and a blaster rifle appears in it, pixelating itself into existence just as she had done.

    There's a tremendous boom that roars above even the screaming sandstorm. Sand blasts in every direction as something very big breaks its way from another dimension into this one. The fleeing woman glances back and attempts a pre-emptive strike at the enemy mech. Her phase bolts hit the metallic frame, scorching it, but missing the window where the pilot is. While her shots, hindering by the sandstorm, have to be pinpoint, the mech's doesn't. The cannon opens fire and the explosive energy projectiles slam into the sand around the retreating woman. She zig-zags her way through the storm. Her goggles protect her eyes, but her bare golden skin is being constantly assaulted by each razor-sharp grain of sand. She slips.

    The dune splatters sand everywhere as she rolls down its side clumsily until she reaches the bottom. She staggers to her feet and cooks up a better strategy. As she keeps running a suit begins to pixel itself onto her body - armour to protect against the sun, the sand and the blasts of energy coming her way. The pack on the back ignites and she is whisked up into the air. She turns, mid-air, and fires back with the phase rifle. The energy matter that escapes the weapon is a powerful energy ball that phases in and out of this dimension and into another, picking up more and more energy as it goes. When it hits the mech's armour it splashes like liquid and hisses with extreme heat. But the mech is designed to leap from dimension to dimension, its armour withstands the attack and continues to return fire.

    She lands with a curse and keeps running, the helmet covering her face from the elements. The computer creates an overlay that indicates the nearest settlement. A small, backwater spaceport of some sort. Better than nothing as phasing into another dimension right now would probably be more dangerous considering her pursuers.

    The mech unleashes its mortars, which fire into the air well above them. The woman changes her trajectory, hoping to avoid the marked spots that the mech expects her to be in. One mortar hits the ground with such force that despite the distance, she's knocked well off her feet and send tumbling through the air. She might have lost a limp if not for the powersuit she mirrored from another dimension.

    She lands on the sand and skids along from her momentum. Lying on her back she opens fire again, hoping to get a lucky shot, but she misses, barely even able to see the shadow of the mech through the sandstorm. She scrambles to her feet again but as she does so she hears another crack roar across the desert. Another mech has joined the chase. She jumps up into the air, her rockets doing all the work, and below her a vehicle materialises, already in motion. She lands on it heavily and it dips closer to the sand with a whir of extra force. It quickly rectifies itself though and the speeder races across the dunes, outpacing the mechs long behind her. The speeder is long and narrow and she guesses it's a native vehicle of this world. It doesn't matter, it's fast and that is what matters right now. The town is coming up quickly.

    But then reality snaps before her speeder. There's a block of space-time that looks like it's inverted upside down and is entirely black and white. While she phases like a fish through water from one reality to the next, these Peacekeeprs tear their way through it like it's paper. Her speeder skids to a right angle and tears off again just in time to avoid a quick burst of machine gun fire meant to shred through personnel at close range. She gets far enough away to dare changing her course for the town again. She's pretty certain that they won't follow her there, risking distorting the reality of other beings of this dimension. Whatever dimension it is.

    Finally she sees the threshold of the town. The mechs have ceased firing, not even their mortars are screaming down now. The sandstorm is lessened here too, protected by the buildings. As she passes past the first two buildings on the speeder she slows it down. She'll need to find somewhere to lay low for a while.

    Then she passes through an invisible shield. She couldn't see it but she felt it. It was like it checked every molecule of her body. Checking what belongs to this dimension and what doesn't. The speederbike, her powersuit, even the clothes on on her back - it all disappears in the blink of an eye and she's sent sprawling onto the rough sand that rests upon the hard concrete floor below it. She winces with pain as her skin is scraped. Everything but the biological components seems to have disappeared, even the jewellery that had hung from her ears.

    "I-I'm alive?"


    The golden-skinned woman turns just in time to see another woman with a gun poised at her head. She looks into the all too familiar eyes.

    Iskendriel: "W-wait!"

    The gunshot rebounds through the town's walls. In this town it only generates a bit of attention before everyone shrugs and gets on with their own business. The second woman tucks the gun into the holster on her hip and nudges the dead, naked woman on the floor.

    Iskendriel: "The target Iskendriel is dead. Request clean up."

    She kneels down to look at the woman's face. She has to admit to herself that this mission was not a good one. Assassinations never are. But she knows better than anyone that the woman couldn't possibly be contained and given her record she couldn't be recruited or controlled either. She removes her trench coat and throws it across the naked torso, giving her back a modicum of dignity. She strokes the golden skin of the dead woman's cheek with her thumb. She's never seen herself with such pretty looking skin before.

    Iskendriel: "This is Iskendriel, I'm returning."

    A boom ricochets through the town as the cleanup crew arrive and Iskendriel phases out of this reality, leaving the planet Tatooine and her alternate reality's corpse behind. Nobody in the town of Mos Eisley will think much of what just happened, used to seeing gods and the like go stomping through on their way to meet with The Big O or whatever their business is here.

    The world pixelates into her view, just as she pixelates into it.

    Castle Camelot looms over her field of view as she looks up at its elegant façade overlooking the rest of the world around her. She turns and walks along the blue-stoned path that leads from The Fountain of Aletheia up a spiralling stairway from one floating island to the next one above. As she ascends the blue steps she glances over the ledge at the landmasses below. They're everywhere, floating segments of reality that was ripped from their former existences by The Sundering of reality. As one of The Peacekeepers for The Imperium she is well aware that The Highemperor of The High Empire is the blame for this. Unless it was another dimension's Highemperor. Maybe it was all of them. The maths of the matter usually escapes her.

    The Fountain of Aletheia had been taken from her own dimension, her own reality, which is why she likes to phase in here at that location. It's safe. Phasing into The Fracture is a dangerous game but she refuses to force her way through like the other Peacekeepers. It seems so undignified. She ballet dances while the others are moshing through the Multiverse.

    When she gets to the floating landmass above she can look down upon the fountain in all its stillness. Though water flows from a spout and drains down into the basin, the motion causes no ripples. The water merely meets itself and instantly merges - giving the water a mirror like effect as it stands utterly still. Iskendriel remembers that the mirror had stood as a monument in her own world before The Sundering snatched it out of reality. Even when The Sundering was repaired and reality restored, pieces were never returned to where they ought to be. In the NeSiverse, Castle Camelot doesn't exist where it once was. In her own universe the Fountain of Aletheia is also gone, a lost monument never to be seen again.

    When you break reality you can never repair it completely. Like a broken teacup. You can glue the broken piece back in, but it's never quite the same again. The chips that are missing are all here in The Fracture.

    When Highemperor sundered the NeSiverse the fractures rippled out across the dimensions, splitting every variant of the NeSiverse. Every different time stream, every different version of reality, all of them were broken. Once restored hardly anybody remembered it ever happened. From men to gods, it was forgotten as though it had never occurred. Lost locations were explained away as being lost to time, destroyed or taken away. Lost people were presumed dead.

    Iskendriel had only visited her own reality once since being brought to The Fracture and she found that she'd been forgotten, only a gravestone marked her existence there. Now she lives beyond that.

    Now she has a damn castle.

    Castle Camelot once belonged to King Arthur and then his son Prince Llacheu on Earth. Iskendriel doesn't know who they are but they seem to have been important people. She wonders what kind of explanation they came up with for why their castle was gone. Aliens probably. That's the usual excuse.

    Above Castle Camelot is a landmass that is covered in ocean. It's weird to see a whole island with nothing but water on it. The water cascades over the edge of the floating island and down onto Camelot in a light drizzle upon its right towers. The water of the island never runs out because according to its own perception of reality - the water is supposed to be there and so it is. Even if it falls off, it reappears there because it's supposed to be there. This makes The Fracture forever unchanging. Even if something is destroyed by The Peacekeepers, it will reappear just as it once was. This put an end to any renovation attempts anyone made pretty quick. The Fracture, however, isn't so small. Millions if not billions of floating islands are all cluttered around, with no specific estimation of up and down either - meaning that the island over to the right of Castle Camelot looks like a map.

    Even the air of The Fracture is torn from other realities but it has its very own fragrance. It smells like ginger. Apparently broken reality smells like ginger. Nobody can explain it. Mostly Iskendriel is just thankful that it doesn't smell like ****e.

    She approaches the castle. She alone lives here. There's plenty of impressive monuments to go around The Peacekeepers, she only chose it because it's next to the fountain. Though changing the castle is impossible, adding things between islands is easily done; hence the stairwell. She even had the stairs made in blue to resemble the stone designs of her homeworld. It's the little things that count.

    She strides into the castle, greeted by the main hall, and skips up the stairs. Though she's happy to be home she feels awful. Killing is not a fun job and killing herself is even worse. She is, in most realities, a planestrider. She doesn't really know why this has happened, it's like her reality pattern is just set to this course. This means if versions of herself become a liability there's rarely any option beyond death. So far she's killed four versions of herself. The fourth was no easier than the first spiritually. To make it worse, with each kill she makes, she grows stronger. She feels it. The dimensional power surge into her as she assassinates her alternate self. Makes her better, faster, stronger. Not just her, but all alternate versions of herself.

    So when a holographic image of herself appears, she isn't surprised.

    Iskendriel #2:
    "I hope it was painless at least?"

    Iskendriel keeps walking and the hologram floats along after her like a ghost.

    Iskendriel: "Yes. But--"

    Iskendriel #2: "But what?"

    "She was naked and lying in the dirt. Not a nice way to go..."

    The other version of herself saddens as her empathy kicks up a storm. Seeing Isk, as Iskendriel calls her, so upset makes Iskendriel more upset too. There just isn't a better way of executing a planestrider than through trickery. Remove everything from alternate realities that they've acquired and render them without power. The reality net she set up between those buildings did just that and left her alternate self temporarily powerless as everything extra-dimensional was taken away.

    "That's awful."

    "Just be thankful you sit behind the desk while I have to do the dirty work."

    "It doesn't mean I can't be upset! Just because I wasn't there! I do feel it, you know? The moment it happens. And I feel terrible because it feels... good. You know?"

    Iskendriel: "I know!"

    She calms.

    Iskendriel: "I know..."

    Isk: "I think you need a new mission to take your mind off of it."

    Iskendriel: "Agreed. Get one set up. Make sure the team's a good one. All I had on that last one were mech jockeys."

    Isk: "Right oh."

    A cursory glance at the two women would have given the casual observer no indication that the two women were the same woman. Isk is wearing brightly coloured yellow tye dye robes with a thick black sash at the waist. The robes are so thick that it would make her look fat except that she has a small head poking out with a slender neck. The shoulders of the robe are also black with padding, but the rest is white with the bright splashes of yellow. The uniform for all Imperium personnel is simply black and one other chosen colour. Iskendriel feels that Isk is pushing the boundaries with having the yellow tye dye as technically that's black, yellow and white but nobody has chastised her for it and so she's been left to it.

    Isk's hair is bright green and worn in thick, messy dreadlocks that are loosely tied at the back of her head. Green is the natural colour of hair for her species as is marble like white skin. On her face are a pair of thick-rimmed spectacles those glass is tinted green to match her hair. The hologram sits down but since the projector only picks up the person and not their surroundings, it looks like Isk is sitting on the air - further adding to her current ghostly qualities.

    Isk: "You should really put a formal team together, you know? A permanent team that you operate with."

    Iskendriel: "No."

    Isk: "It'll be much healthier for you! I have a lot of Peacekeepers that would love to work with you--"

    Iskendriel: "Did you make another list?"

    Isk's shoulders hunch, as though making herself smaller will help her hide.

    Isk: "It-it's a very small list. Just of possible people--"

    "Isk, you're such a kumquat."

    Isk: "Don't call me that."

    Iskendriel: "Kumquat?"

    Isk: "Don't call me Isk! My name is Iskendriel~"

    She practically sings her name. Isk has always been able to make their name sound far more poetic than Iskendriel feels it is.

    Iskendriel: "It's too confusing for us to have the same name. So you're Isk."

    Isk: "Why do I have to be Isk!? Why can't you be Isk!?"

    "I hate being called Isk."

    Isk: "I hate being called Isk!!"

    Iskendriel starts flipping a switch on her PIP through which the hologram is being projected. The image of Isk starts to flicker on and off.

    Iskendriel: "Oh no! Looks like there's interference."

    Isk: "Nothing can-- ause inter--ence and y-- know that!"

    Iskendriel: "I'm losing you. Oooh nooooo..."

    Isk: "I ca-- see you-- ing that!"

    She leaves it off now.

    Instead she turns on some music. Twinkle Starr starts singing, her holographic visage appears in the room and dances around. Flashing lights and rainbows start to cascade about her as she reaches the bridge of the song. All the while Iskendriel is getting changed. Her bedroom was once the bedroom of Queen Guinevere before she left Earth. All of her old dresses are even still in the wardrobes, but that's only because Iskendriel couldn't throw them out as reality has ordered that they remain forever there. Why her son had left his mother's room untouched often confuses Iskendriel but what does she now of family relationships. She was never born, she was made. In her own reality her kind are known as The Scourge and are hunted down and killed whenever they appear. Isk once told her that her kind, in Isk's reality, are called The Lightbringers but Iskendriel knows the little kumquat is lying through her damned teeth. Forever trying to improve the morale of everyone around her, Iskendriel loves hating on Isk for her positive vibes. That's why she keeps her as her handler. Through all the insults and jibes, Iskendriel loves Isk for who she is - a better version of herself. A version of herself she wishes she could have been.

    But she isn't.

    She isn't a normal, happy alimean. She wasn't born that way. She was born different. She doesn't have the white skin of her kindred, nor the fanciful green hair.

    She throws on the black trench coat. It's thin leather so it doesn't keep out the cold but it looks cool and that's what she wants. Trench coats are oddly popular for Imperium uniforms so she feels right at home. Her hair is black and she keeps it cut roughly short, growing just beyond the ear. She has a long fringe that sweeps over one eye. Had she been born on modern earth they probably would call her an emo. Except she doesn't have the skin for it. Her skin is ashen. Completely grey. Even to the touch it would feel as soft as ash, like it might fall off given too much pressure. There's a thin red line at the bottom of her eye socket - a thin crack in her skin that reveals molten red. Her irises are, like wise, red. A trench coat is also a practical choice, reducing the possibility someone might see the cracks in her skin that dominate her back like cracked earth. They're often painful but medication keeps the pain in check. She wonders if the cracks will one day spread, consume her chest, her legs, her arms and then her face. She is already seen as a monster by many, with that cracked visage she'd be hideous too.

    She takes out a cigarette.

    Very few people have given comment to the irony of a woman that looks like ash would smoke, mostly because they're afraid of what she'll do to them. The blazing light display of Twinkle Starr distracts her from what she'd had to do today but she knows the guilt is going to leech at her all night. Possibly all year.

    A mission.

    She stalks out of Castle Camelot and finds the transport pad. In The Fracture teleporting is highly dangerous because you could end up teleporting yourself into a building or landmass and never realise until it was too late. There's no safe guards here, reality of each island obeys its own rules and those rules may well blast you to pieces if you break them. Instead the airway was set up so that people could fly between islands, even if they can't fly normally. She stands on the transport pad and the wind below her picks up she sees the wind tunnel begin to form around her.


    The wind tunnel shifts above her and then she is blasted up at a tremendous speed. She keeps her arms and legs in at all times. These things aren't entirely efficient and people have been expelled from them to wind up floating about The Fracture waiting to be picked up by someone in a aircraft. She zips through The Fracture, able to see dozens of landmasses everywhere, all of different shapes and sizes, weather patterns, landscapes, structures. Then her body is flipped by the current and she knows she's nearly there.

    She lands and braces with her legs. The inexperienced airway user often falls to their knees at the unexpected impact but, knowing it's coming, she lets her knees bend gently and then erects herself. She casually slips the cigarette from her lips and relights it.

    She looks up. The building that stands before her is an impressive sight. Apparently it was once underground, accounting for the presence of landmass both below and above it. But here it now stands exposed. It appears as two pyramids, one from the bottom and one from the top where they then meet in a narrow bottleneck in the middle. The material of the object is a peculiar black material but there are hundreds of windows all lit up, creating beads of yellow and white light all over the structure. She doesn't know anything about the world it originates from, or what reality for that matter, but gravity forces people towards either landmass. Around the central bottleneck people would actually begin to float, trapped between the gravitational pull between either landmass.

    Iskendriel saunters along the path towards the building. The path has been shaved into the stone. Here are there are gargoyles carved into the rock depicting, she imagines, some kind of demons or angels or whatever other religious nonsense the people believed in when they made this place. The Heart of Yself, it was supposedly called. Now they just call it The Heart, perhaps retaining the concept of it being the central locale. Only now it is The Heart of the Peacekeepers.

    The history of The Peacekeepers is a long one and Iskendriel is no historian. She just knows that from The Fracture emerged a whole branch of The Imperium. As The Imperium exists well beyond the NeSiverse, when The Sundering broke up that universe The Imperium took note. Their investigations into the matter eventually unveiled The Fracture and prompted the very concept of The Peacekeepers as The Imperium was keen on not making the same mistake as The Highemperor had done. This place was chosen for its size, being one of the larger structures in The Fracture that was found early on.

    She tosses the stub of her cigarette to the floor. The cleaners would come and collect it in a few hours. Get the stupid droids doing their damn jobs.

    As she walks up the steps, she's now surrounded by lots of other Peacekeepers from the different departments. The pencil pushers, the enforcers, the scholars. Everyone is heading in or out of The Heart. Someone calls her name and she gives them the obligatory open palm gesture to indicate she acknowledges their acquaintance. Beyond that she keeps going.

    Her PIP vibrates as she enters the main hall, which is a black, glossy affair. A text message from Isk tells her a team is being assembled on floor ninety-three. Iskendriel grumbles. Isk is forcing her to go all the way to floor ninety-three out of spite for the kumquat comment. She pretends to be all sunshine and rainbows but there's that vindictive streak. Isk's great vengeance. Iskendriel had watched that Kill Bill movie once. That's what's in store when Isk snaps.

    While the floor and ceiling are black the walls are dark grey, except the turbolifts which are white. She gets into one after giving the other people in the lift a quick glance. Nobody she knows. That's a relief. It's always a pain having to stand in a lift with someone you sort of know and they insist on small talk - always ending with the "we should get together sometime" even though neither of you intend to do anything of the sort. Or at least she doesn't, bugger what the other guy wants.

    She, like the building, is two-toned. Only instead of grey she wears stark white. The skin of white that her skin was when she was a baby. So white she would make snow jealous. Her tall boots, the tight trousers and the top. The lift is the same black gloss as the floors, made from the same smooth and soft material. It's like the building was even designed by The Imperium. Probably the colour scheme is the real reason they chose this place because the gravitational fields can make it a damn pain the higher you go.

    Even on floor ninety-three she feels lighter as the upper gravity field is starting to tug, while the lower one is gripping.

    She looks down at the map display which indicates the designated room that Isk has marked out. She follows it around, glancing at the strangers and the rooms until she makes it to the indicated place. The double doors are already open and she finds that Isk herself has decided to attend the briefing.

    "What're you doing here?"

    Isk: "I just wanted to check and make sure the team is, you know, solid."

    Iskendriel glowers at her other self.

    Iskendriel: "This better not be your stupid dream team list again. I told you--"

    Isk: "If you don't like them then you don't have to keep them. But if it works, and I think it will, then you might want to use them again! What's the problem?"

    Iskendriel moves around the central table, which is made of polished oak. The table is an addition to the room from outside. Fortunately the rooms in this place were all completely empty when it arrived in The Fracture. Apparently they were meant to be places of introspection where one would lie down and stare up at the mirrored ceiling. Iskendriel prefers the other school of thought which is about sex perverts coming in here to watch themselves shagging.

    "Fine. Whatever. I swear I'm going to get a new handler one day."

    Isk: "You always say that."

    Isk sits down on her own eggcup swivel chair and Iskendriel watches her suspiciously as the woman starts tapping something into her PIP.

    Iskendriel: "What're you scheming?"

    Isk: "Nothing!"

    Her response is far too quick and far to earnest.

    Iskendriel: "I don't like surprises..."

    Isk: "...."

    Iskendriel moves around the room and leans on the table next to Isk. She draws her face closer and closer to Isk's, waiting for her to break.

    Iskendriel: "What aren't you telling me?"

    Isk: "...."

    She stares forward, trying not to look into Iskendriel's eyes. Her shoulders are hunched and her body stiff. Iskendriel slaps her hand onto Isk's back. She squeaks with surprise and then blurts out;

    Isk: "I tasked someone else to be team leader for this mission."

    Iskendriel: "You... little.... kumquat!"

  10. #10
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Time Lock

    The Peacekeepers
    Time Lock

    This post coincides with Pan Post 135.

    Iskendriel: "Why am I the one stuck carrying the bottle?"

    She waggles the large, glass bottle as the group approaches the transport pad outside of the Peacekeepers' HQ. They look like a rag-tag bunch of misfits, none of them looking like they belong together.

    Rab'ia: "I can't believe you're actually complaining. Seriously, you complain about my disability but not the guy in the wheelchair? This is discrimination."

    The little genie glowers up at Iskendriel from within her bottle. She leans on the glass and points an accusatory finger at the 'normal sized' woman holding her 'home'. Iskendriel lifts the bottle up to her face to peer back at the tiny woman.

    Iskendriel: "I don't have to lug around the guy in the wheelchair. I have to lug you around. And I know you got yourself into that bottle, so it's your fault I have to carry you."

    Dr Carroll: "I do have a name, you know?"

    She glances down at him and then back to the genie.

    Iskendriel: "He does have a name, you know?"

    Dr Carroll: "Really. How childish."

    Iskendriel: "You hear that? You're very childish, Pipsqueak."

    Rab'ia: "Pipsqueak, is it? That. That is discrimination again!"

    "You're only miniscule because you got yourself in there. You'll get zero sympathy from me."

    Dr Carroll: "And what did she do exactly?"

    Rab'ia: "Oi! That's confidential! You can't--"

    Iskendriel: "Let's just say she deserves to be trapped in that bottle, doc."

    Dr Carroll: "Very well. I suppose we all have our secrets. I hope you can be trusted, Ms al Fihri?"

    Rab'ia: "Ms al Fihri is it now? I like that."

    The genie runs her hands over her neck to her shoulders and strikes a coquettish pose for the sound of her own name. Dr Carroll's eyes flutter and her gives a small shake of the head with disbelief - evidently wondering what he's gotten himself into with this group.

    He pushes the wheels of his chair, driving him towards the transport pad ahead of the others. Iskendriel knows he's forty-years-old but he does have the appearance of a man ten years younger. His brown hair is thinning at the crown but otherwise its light and fluffy. His this-rimmed glasses help to mask some of the age lines around his eyes and his skin has a very 'well moisturised' appearance to it.

    When he reaches the transport pad he stops, turns the chair and backs up onto it. He wears fingerless leather gloves on his hands, much like driving gloves, to protect his hands from callouses that might be caused by the wheels of his chair. The gloves seem somewhat at odds with the rest of his outfit, which consists of a brown, tweed suit and a little, navy blue bow tie. The gloves are far too cool for that school teacher costume.

    Dr Carroll: "Shall we be off?"

    Iskendriel motions with her head towards the pad.

    Iskendriel: "Alright team. Let's move."

    She strides over to the pad and stands behind Dr Carroll's chair. She looks up at the looming Heart of The Fracture as they're still cast by its shadow. She isn't even sure how it casts a shadow, since there's no sun here, but it manages to have one nonetheless. She gives the bottle a little shake, tormenting the unfortunate genie inside it.

    Iskendriel: "Hope you're ready. This is going to be a bumpy ride."

    Rab'ia: "How about you go sc--"

    The rest of her words are lost as the air tunnel descends upon the group of five Peacekeepers. They all lurch into the air and are sucked along by the wind tunnel. Iskendriel thinks the journey will be most uncomfortable for Lawrence Carroll in his chair, especially the landing. Damn genie would actually be the better off, protected by her bottle.

    After they do land, Iskendriel takes note that Carroll does appear quite jolted from his landing. Perhaps next time they should break into smaller groups, giving him more space when he lands. Iskendriel makes a surreptitious attempt to give him a moment to catch his bearings while she gets the others into order.

    Iskendriel: "As you know, I'm a Planestrider so I'll be travelling to the designation without the rest of you. Your files tell me you're all experienced enough to handle this, so you should know what to do..."

    "We understand our roles. We won't fail you."

    Iskendriel is a little taken aback by Girga's compliant manner but shrugs it off quickly and gives the other woman a nod. Girga Heth walks from the transport pad towards the Kracker. The creature sits upon its own floating island of The Fracture, its great mass taking up much of the landscape. Its thousands of heads chitter, some cackle or wail and a chill runs down Iskendriel's spine. There's more than one way to escape The Fracture but the Kracker is the most accurate and, therefore, most often used for important missions like theirs. As Girga approaches it, many of the heads closest to her turn to watch her. A few of them become more excited and start babbling at her. It is said that each head is connected to a different dimension - a different reality - and uses some form of higher telepathy, which is currently undetectable to standard telepaths, to send people to where they request. Whatever the truth of the creature, it has been in The Fracture long before The Imperium arrived and seemed to know what the Multiversal empire would intend to do. Iskendriel refuses to deliberate on the matter because she always gets a very horrible suspicion that the truth would be most unwelcome.

    The others then follow after Girga, save for Rab'ia al Fihri who sits in her bottle in Iskendriel's hand. Dr Carroll seems to be just as uneasy with the Kracker as Iskendriel and his face suggests that he would much rather be travelling with Iskendriel's Planestriding abilities rather than the reality cracking of the Kracker. Travelling across space-time is a common enough phenomena, with many beings able to perform such a feat. Travelling across dimensions, however, is quite different. Instead of moving through space or tricking the hands of time, a traveller is punching a hole through the walls of one reality to get access to another. Some, like a Planestrider, can create a door to easily slip through but the vast majority of beings much be much more forceful in their methods. The Kracker is such a creature.

    The four Peacekeepers stand in a row before the Kracker. The heads of the creature reach a crescendo of noise and then there's a snap in reality that actually sends a physical kinetic blast outwards that strikes Iskendriel in the chest like a cold breath. They're gone.

    "Just me and you, mon capitan!"

    "I could just leave you here."

    "You're not exactly Little Miss Goody-two-shoes yourself. You can condemn me all you like, but you deserve a bottle of your own."

    Iskendriel: "Not bloody likely."

    Iskendriel takes a last look at the Kracker and gives a grimace of disgust. She then turns and starts to run. Several strides later and she passes through the walls of reality and bursts out into the NeSiverse.

    She almost collides with Girga, who deftly sidesteps. Iskendriel skids to a halt and gives the angellic-looking woman an appreciative nod. Could have been an embarrassing tumble there. She couldn't command much respect from these guys from the floor, arse in the air.

    She senses the dimension, the time, the space - all of it is simply known to her. Her mind is able to detect the information by reading the walls of reality. They're in the right dimension.

    The corridors of The Lamb are rampant with activity as soldiers, deckhands, janitors and officers go rushing about. Normally the vessel has quite a minimal crew but when the ship goes to battle, it is given a higher compliment of personnel. The ship shakes as something outside hits its hull. The group stagger a little from the shaking motion. Whatever hit The Lamb must have been extremely powerful to cause such stress to the god-infused space whale bone.

    "Well, I don't think you need me to tell you we're in the right place."

    Nyneve: "Let's just get this over with. It's not like it's the hardest mission out there. Just plant a few devices and we're done."

    Nyneve Ó Braonáin holds up the pack she's carrying and starts to take out one of the devices from within it. The device itself is black and shaped like a four-pointed star with a red gem at its heart. As Iskendriel takes the device, her hand touches the pale blue hand of Nyneve and Iskendriel feels the sudden chilled touch of ice run through her own fingers. She yanks her hand back at the sudden cold but gives herself an admonishing shake of the head and snatches the device from Nyneve. The woman's entire body is, likewise, this pale blue ice-inducing skin. Iskendriel imagines she has about as much success with men as she does. Zero.

    Over her shoulders are ice pauldrons, which skirt across her shoulder blades and rise up into a high collar around her neck. From beneath the ice extends a long cape that is hemmed with pure, white mink fur. The heavy set cape is lined with dark blue velvet on the inside and black on the outside. She wears a tight, black onesie that is matched by a pair of elbow length gloves and knee-high boots that are both hammed with fur like her cape. Her hair is a grey-blue colour, like a rain cloud, and it rests long and heavy around the icy collar. The irises of her eyes are stark white and seems to shine out at Iskendriel. She feels like she and Nyneve have too much in common to ever get along.

    Iskendriel: "It might be easy, but it's essential. We mess this up and the fleet here will wind up trapped in that time lock along with the High Empire. Dusty--"

    Dusty: "Don't call me Dusty. My name--"

    "Is now Dusty. You're here because you can read the threads of fate. Can you see the thread of Ameryl from here?"

    Dusty: "Yes. Give me a moment."

    Nyneve gives Iskendriel an annoyed look before she jumps aside an stops one of the ship's crewmen in his tracks. He looks like he's only just noticed The Peacekeepers standing there.

    Nyneve: "Is Ameryl onboard?"

    The man looks bewildered.

    Nyneve: "Peacekeeper business. Is Ameryl onboard?"

    "Seriously, Nyneve?"

    Crewman: "Uh, no. She's on the God-Killer. It's come under attack from... uh... reports say... Average Joes? It's a really weird time..."

    Nyneve: "It'll do. Get back to whatever you were doing."

    Crewman: "Honestly, I was just sort of running around aimlessly but I guess I'll go do something productive now. Good luck on your mission. Keep us safe."

    Nyneve: "Shove off."

    The crewman looks dejected.

    Girda: "We will keep you safe, you can count on us."

    The random crewman nods appreciatively at Girda before running off, hopefully to be more productive than he'd originally intended. Nyneve gives Girda a sour look before her features alter completely into a smug smirk.

    Nyneve: "There you go."

    Dusty: "I can confirm... Ameryl is aboard the God-Killer."

    Iskendriel: "Yeah. Thanks Dusty. You were incredibly useful."

    Dusty: "My name--"

    Nyneve: "Is Dusty. Nobody can say your bloody real name, get over it."

    Nyneve grabs one of the devices for herself.

    Nyneve: "Where am I planting this?"

    Iskendriel: "You can take the bridge."

    Nyneve: "On it."

    She turns with a swoop of her cape and saunters down the corridor as though she's on the catwalk, the device hanging daintily from her tea-pot posed arm.

    Dr Carroll:
    "What an interesting woman..."

    Iskendriel: "Interesting is definitely the word for her."

    Girda: "Where would you like me to place my device, Iskendriel?"

    Iskendriel proceeds to dispatch the members of the group. She sends Dusty and Dr Carroll off together while Girda is to go after Nyneve. Iskendriel herself is paired with the genie.

    She jogs down the corridors. There's no cause to run, but she doesn't want to take a leisurely pace either. She makes her way to the engineering section of the ship, which is split into two sections - that for the impulse engines and that for the astral shift engines. Once there she finds an empty spot on a wall and plants the device there.

    Rab'ia: "This really was an easy mission. Feels like a waste to send such an experienced group."

    Iskendriel: "At least everyone else can actually help. You're just here."

    Rab'ia: "I provide moral support!"

    Iskendriel: "Funny, I thought you were just annoying."

    Rab'ia: "Don't hate me 'cause I'm beautiful."

    Iskendriel couldn't really argue against that. Despite her diminutive size, the genie was quite beautiful in appearance and proportions; having a perfect hourglass physique and a heart-shaped face. Her skin is bright blue but semi-transparent and she wears traditional gauze 'genie pants', under which can be seen her underwear, as well as the obligatory curly-toed shoes and spangly gold bracers. She has a gauze headscarf that is wrapped around her hair and can, if wanted, be pulled up to conceal the mouth. Her thick and full hair is worn into a tall top-knot that cascades down her shoulders. Her hair is jet black while her clothes are white.

    Iskendriel, instead, puts the bottle down and ignores Rab'ia.

    Iskendriel: "Is everyone in place?"

    Through the earpiece she hears Girda and Dr Carroll affirm.

    "Dusty, how close to the event horizon are we?"

    Dusty: "Minutes away. It is going to be very... messy. If the devices are not placed correctly--"

    "If you want to question the placement of the devices, you can complain to Isk next time you see her."

    Dusty: "If they are not placed correctly, we will never see anyone, Isk or otherwise, again. The initial time lock shall consume the entire Multiverse but the ensues aftermath should only lock certain elements of reality - mostly the High Empire. We could be trapped with them..."

    Iskendriel: "It'll work. The chiefs at HQ wouldn't have drawn up this plan otherwise. The reality stabilisers have been amplified - they'll branch out and protect all of the Imperium ships in the vicinity of The Lamb. We'll probably end up saving a bunch of other ships in the area too. Not that that'll matter much cause they'll get a laser bolt to their bridge soon as reality is stabilised."

    "You know none of these ships actually fire lasers, right?"

    Iskendriel: "Shut up, Frosty."

    Nyneve: "Great. Dusty, Frosty. What does that make you? Ashy?"

    Rab'ia: "How about just ugly?"

    Iskendriel: "And Isk thought a team would be a good thing... urgh."

  11. #11
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Missing Settlement

    The Missing Settlement

    The planet Necrill lurks at the very edge of the Myst Sector and is an incredibly old planet. Its erratic orbit around its star resulted in the planet zipping off into space until it was eventually caught by a very different star. This incredibly rare breed of star only exists in the oldest regions of the galaxy, formed, perhaps, not by natural means but by some esoteric gods of days long past. This star is composed of netherlight. Instead of warming the planet with brilliant radiance, it freezes the world with its harsh, dim, white light.

    Necrill still seems determined to rebel against its new captive star as its orbit is ovular and each passing rotation takes it one step closer to escaping off into space once again.

    Despite the severe cold, the planet is unfrozen. Aside from there being no water to actually freeze the planet is also protected by a thick layer of aether that doesn't just retain heat but actually generates it. The aether itself is what gives the planet any kind of atmosphere, albeit fairly thin. As the light from the star is so dim, the planet's sky is constantly awash with stars rather than any kind of coloured sky. The gravity is also light. Dust and small rocks float up into the air to mix with the aether, creating grimy mud clouds that will, once too heavy, rain rocks down upon the land. Even much larger rocks will hover lazily several metres above the ground. Many of them are snared by plants that have grown down from the hovering stones towards the ground and tethered themselves in place.

    The plants are usually coloured white, bleached by the cold glow of the netherlight star, and most of them reflect the light back - giving them a luminous haze.

    The Peacekeepers walk across the tundra landscape, stopping occasionally to inspect the area. Though the atmosphere of the planet is enough that they could breathe, it would be a mild struggle that could become tiresome. Coupled with the cold it was deemed better if Girda projects a wide bubble of protection around them. The light golden glow of the dome tinkles whenever a cloud of dust brushes over it.

    Girda: "I get a sense of civilisation everywhere we go..."

    She seems irritated by this, as though the feelings she is getting are needling her consciousness. Iskendriel just shrugs and gives a short nod. The planet is incredibly old and has been home to several civilisations throughout its long, long life. The first batch of beings to have formed on the planet left the world long ago and in their wake a whole new species had evolved to dominate the world. They then left too, but they decided to create their own little science experiment and tried to encourage life to appear on the world and evolve just as they had. It worked. That species created robots, which, of course, wound up killing their masters and taking the planet. They were then embroiled in a civil war between robots and A.I.s that resulted in the demise of both sides. Other beings came and colonised the world before they were killed by a freak cosmic storm that annihilated all life on the planet. Several species later The Imperium decided to land on the planet and call it theirs.

    Given the high concentration of aether on the planet, the Witch-Wardens, who operate primarily within the Myst Sector, would return to Necrill from time to time usually to train one of their new members but sometimes they came to get their hands on aether to take back with them. As the Witch-Wardens have been no threat to The Imperium's settlement and the Witch-Wardens laid no claim to the planet - both have left well alone.

    Nyneve: "We're sure it wasn't the Witch-Wardens that did this?"

    Iskendriel: "They're not some kind of kingdom, Nyneve. They're like us. An operation. They have a job to do and that job doesn't involve destroying settlements..."

    "Unless they're magical settlements."

    Iskendriel: "Was this a magical settlement?"


    "Right then. Try not to open your mouth so much, you lower the IQ of everyone in the group."

    Nyneve: "One day I'm going to smack that smugness right off of your face."

    Dusty: "I cannot get a clear reading of the threads here. Too much has happened on this world and not all of it has been linear."

    Iskendriel, who had been crouching and poking at the ground, straightens up and looks over at 'Dusty'. Whatever species he once was, Iskendriel assumes it was, at least, humanoid. His figure is much like a haze of smoke, becoming more tangible around the face and chest while his arms and legs float in and out of their physical form. She had been tempted to call him 'Ghosty' because it'd sound more stupid and, therefore, more insulting but she couldn't escape the fact that he is a child of the Dust. And that horrible fact looms predominantly on her mind.

    Iskendriel: "You mean there's time travelling at work here?"

    Dusty: "Yes, but it may have nothing to do with the lost settlement. Numerous sentient beings have been here, from the threads I can tell at least two civilisations that existed here discovered means of time travel. The threads are knotted together, impossible to untangle. I can detect the thread of The Imperium here but its buried in with other threads I can't reach its end."

    Iskendriel: "Some use you turned out to be. I bring you here just for this one talent of yours and you tell me its useless."

    Dusty stares at her and she does her best not to falter under the nasty gaze. Iskendriel doesn't fear death but she does fear whatever ultimate fate Dust would have on her. That would be something far worse than death. Heck, she had even met death once and she turned out to be a lovely little girl. After that death never seemed such a problem. Except for the Coca-Cola can. That part was a bit upsetting.

    Girda: "Your work is greatly respected, Dusty. Iskendriel is mean to you because she likes you."

    Dusty: "She is?"

    Iskendriel: "I am?"

    Girda: "It's basic psychology. She doesn't know how to show her appreciation but knows she is supposed to say something. Being socially awkward she--"

    Iskendriel: "Since when are you group councillor? Instead of trying to psychoanalyse me - and you are dead wrong, by the way, I'm mean because I'm mean - you should do your job."

    Girda: "You ask for miracles, Iskendriel. We are mere mortals."

    Iskendriel: "And here was me thinking you were an angel. Isn't that in your job description?"

    Girda: "I am no angel."

    Iskendriel: "Right, right. The glowing, divine light must have given me the wrong impression."

    Girda now looks miffed and Iskendriel experiences a perverse glee at finally angering even this bastion of patience and virtue.

    "Well, it seems we're not going to find any clues out here. The settlement ruins might give us better clues. The threads might be clearer there. And the... what? Spiritual residue might be fresher?"

    Girda: "In a sense, I suppose that sounds right..."

    Nyneve: "Gross."

    Girda: "Perhaps the good doctor has uncovered some information from his magicks."

    Iskendriel starts to lead the group back towards the destroyed Imperium settlement.

    Iskendriel: "Whatever he is, Lawrence Carroll is definitely not good."

    Girda: "I suspect none of us are..."

    Iskendriel gives Girda a frown. She knows Girda isn't really an angel but she had been under the impression that she was, at least, part angel and she's certainly in the service of a god. She wears the black and white habit of a nun, complete with a black coif that covers her hair. Under the robe, however, she has trousers and heavy boots meant from walking. This is a very specific kind of nun. The kind of nun whose prayers are said after bashing skulls. Perhaps Girda doesn't see that her role as divine punisher is supposed to be an act of charity.

    Dusty floats on ahead after Nyneve, who has taken it upon herself to take the lead. Rab'ia has been left with Dr Carroll in the town of Kildare.

    Iskendriel: "If said doctor would actually get his legs cured then he could be out here with us, doing the real work! I swear he stays in that chair just to avoid doing the heavy lifting."

    Girda snaps an angry frown at Iskendriel.

    Girda: "This attitude of yours makes you look like a fool, you know that?"

    Iskendriel: "Funny, I thought it was making everyone else look like fools."

    Girda: "You mouth off about things you don't know anything about. I am not an angel and Dr Carroll is unable to be cured. Whatever files you've read about us are evidently incomplete. You should know your facts before trying to insult us."

    Girda stomps off ahead and Iskendriel talks loudly after her;

    Iskendriel: "I don't care what kind of half-breed you are, you're some daft sparkling angel thing to me. And Dr Wheelchair doesn't need you to fight his battles for him."

    Girda glances back;

    Girda: "He shouldn't have to battle you."

    Iskendriel just shrugs but inwardly she knows that's true. But that is who she is. If they want in this team they'll just have to lump it.

  12. #12
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Watcher

    The Story of Ameryl
    The Watcher

    Ameryl takes a sip of her cabernet sauvignon, labelled Cloud Break Reserve (which Ameryl sarcastically remarked to be 'ingeniously named'), and glances from her guests towards the cloud city of Ampersand beyond the long window. Her manor was built downwards from the cloud above so that her house hangs above the lower manors below. On the other side of her cloud would be the wine fields where her cabernet sauvignon are grown. A special break in the clouds had to be cleared (demolishing several middle class homes in the process) so that a beam of light would strike down onto the vineyards. The topmost cloud layer of the city has the same gap in their hardened clouds, but here the cloud is allowed to lightly coat the hole to moderate the amount of light and heat being shunted downwards. The paupers and workmen of the top layer have been calling it 'The Grape Hole'. Yet another ingenious title. The people of Ampersand outdo themselves.

    Before Ameryl came along, the rich people of Ampersand had been drinking something called cloudberry juice, which was sweet, pink and looked like something a twelve-year-old teeny-bopper would chug. Now everyone is clamouring for Ameryl's refined alcoholic beverage that would set them a class above the rest.

    Ameryl had never intended to reside in the sky city, perched on the solidified clouds of a world created entirely of gases, but once she'd been inducted into society she found herself relaxing into the role of the foreign socialite. Constantly the centre of attention and the focus of many a conversation. Her exciting new ways titillated the younger women and her refinement grasped the eye of the older gentlemen. This was much better than being princess in her own lands.

    Although everything was hollow and meaningless, in that she realised she didn't have to rebuke indulgence. If all is meaningless, then refuting and avoiding pleasurable experiences was also meaningless. She might as well enjoy the trivialities of life since they exist. Partaking in ignorance would be a crime. Partaking while in absolute awareness just proves how aware you are!

    Ameryl: "At least I think it does..."

    She mumbles to herself.

    Marianne de Myste:
    "So you believe--"

    Ameryl holds up a finger.

    Ameryl: "I do not believe. I know..."

    Marianne de Myste rolls her pink-coloured eyes.

    Marianne de Myste:
    "You are telling us that nothing is real. So everything we do is meaningless... but knowing that and doing meaningless things is okay? But not knowing it's meaningless and doing meaningless things is bad."

    Suzanna de Myste: "I think I'm confused."

    Marianne de Myste:
    "You spend your life confused, dear sister."

    Suzanna de Myste: "And you spend your life being a knowitall. A lady has no business knowing things. A lady has more important duties. Let men do all of this thinking."

    Ameryl: "Oh dear. It sounds like you come from a culture I'd not like very much..."

    Marianne de Myste: "But if nothing matters, if it's all meaningless, why should you like or dislike anything?"

    Ameryl: "Touché. But like I say, being aware of nothing just means you are aware. Since it is in our nature to care, then we may as well care. There's no reason why not."

    Marianne de Myste: "Okay, now I'm confused. And I'm not as stupid as she is."

    Suzanna de Myste: "Hey!"

    Ameryl glances from her protégés to the gaggles of people at the cocktail party. Ladies and gentlemen from throughout the city are standing and gossiping about the affairs of husbands and wives, or the interstellar stock exchange, or the wars being fought on distant worlds. The the young women were extremely useful to Ameryl. Their wide-eyed curiosity always makes Ameryl appear wondrous to everyone else in the room and they supply her with a route into the minds and affairs of the other noble folk.

    Living here in this tiny bubble of the Multiverse now seems just as vibrant and important as travelling through it with Reimi Soulstar. The grandosity of the Multiverse is like a lot of mindless noise. But here she feels alive. Here nothing matters and yet that makes it all the more interesting. The aimless lives of these people. Their indulgences, their first-world problems, their pointless existences, to Ameryl, have become a subject of absolute fascination.

    As she sees the regulars she spots a figure in the corner of the room. He is seated in a plush armchair and bathed in shadows, as though the light of the room resented him. From beneath his hood he's smoking a herb that emits a blue haze of smog around his vicinity. He's being left alone.

    Ameryl: "I've seen him here before. But he never talks to anyone. Who is he?"

    Suzanna de Myste: "They just call him grigori. The Watcher."

    She turns her head uneasily towards him. Her sister groans.

    Marianne de Myste: "No need to be so melodramatic. His name is Gadreel. He's from Earth, I believe. It's a nowhere planet in... a nowhere galaxy."

    Ameryl smirks. As if Ampersand is 'somewhere'. The people of Earth probably think the same thing about the rest of the Multiverse and thinks itself is the centre of all that matters.

    Ameryl: "So he's a foreigner like myself."

    Suzanna de Myste: "He is nothing like you, Miss Ameryl. He's a grumpy, boring loner. He really doesn't belong here, but he does possess a great wealth and one of the largest estates in all of Ampersand. He only ever attends these parties to watch people. In fact he rarely attended any at all before you came. Now he comes here regularly.

    Ameryl: "Perhaps he's lonely..."

    Suzanna de Myste:
    "If he's lonely why doesn't he talk to people!?"

    Ameryl: "You don't have to talk to be in company, do you?"

    Suzanna is definitely not the brightest spark. She frowns at Ameryl, not comprehending. To her being in company meant talking to that company. Being in company and not talking is incomprehensible to her. To Ameryl, however, a mysterious man that prefers his own company just reeks of tragic plot. And that makes him an object of interest.

    Ameryl: "Perhaps I should talk to him..."

    Suzanna de Myste: "I don't think that would be a good idea..."

    She leans in and whispers.

    Suzanna de Myste: "What would other people say if they saw you?"

    Not concerned for her safety, just her image. Ameryl looks at Suzanna with some pity. The girl is the younger of the two. She has bright blonde hair and a cherub face; heart-shaped with a button nose. Her sister isn't quite so pretty, but she manages to be much smarter. Ameryl likes to judge the men that meet the two girls by observing which of the two they like best.

    It isn't that Suzanna is a terrible person though. She is obsessed by all of the trivial things in life and cannot see the big picture, but she is pleasant and honest. Marianne is more of a show-off and enjoys attention for her accomplishments. Her music is a particular talk of the town.

    Ameryl: "I wouldn't be a very good host if I didn't greet all of my guests, right?"

    Marianne's eyes flash with mischief.

    Marianne de Myste: "It's almost a duty! I'll accompany you, Miss Ameryl. Talking to this vagabond such be an interesting experience, at least."

    The two of them set off across the room with Suzanna trailing behind them. Marianne's wide, yellow coloured dress swooshes heavily with a crisp, velvety ruffle sound. When they approach the grigori his eyes flutter up towards them but he otherwise remains unmoved. He has a long, lank face and a very angular nose. He has a smooth, clean shaven chin and bright, blue eyes. He doesn't speak, he just eyes them expectantly.

    Ameryl: "Welcome to my home, Mr...?"

    Gadreel: "You could call me the grigori. I'm sure everyone else does..."

    Marianne de Myste: "Not everyone, Mr Gadreel."

    Gadreel: "Ah. Then my mystique is ruined."

    Ameryl: "Oh, I see. This elusive behaviour is all part of an act?"

    Gadreel: "It's how I get all of the ladies."

    Ameryl laughs lightly. Odd fellow.

    Ameryl: "And how is that working out for you?"

    He looks her fully in the face and she sees a twinkle in his eyes. That same twinkle of mischief that Marianne often has. Two peas in a pod, if she isn't careful to keep them apart.

    Gadreel: "I have three beautiful women talking to me right now, so I would say it's working extremely well..."

    Suzanna's fan whips as she opens it and starts to cool her blushing face.

    Suzanna: "Mr Gadreel, you oughtn't say such overt things to a lady. It's most impertinent."

    Gadreel is amused by Suzanna's false modesty but bows his head in apology, an entertained smile on his lips. For a man that sits by himself he seems a skilled conversationalist. Or at least a witty one.

    Ameryl: "This enigmatic persona you maintain seems to have rendered everyone dumb about who you really are, Gadreel. They call you the watcher, this grigori, but surely that's not your profession. Why are you here in Ampersand?"

    Gadreel leans back lazily in his chair. He pulls his hood from his head to reveal the mop of curly, platinum blonde hair. He gives her a cocky grin.

    Gadreel: "I'm a spy!"

    Marianne: "Not a very good one then!"

    Gadreel: "Why would you say that?"

    Marianne: "Because you just told us!"

    Gadreel: "The government of Ampersand knows I'm a spy. They watch me watching them. It makes things easier for the both of us this way."

    Ameryl raises a curious eyebrow while Suzanna is caught in a small choke.

    Suzanna: "You mean you really are a spy!?"

    Gadreel: "No! I'm just joking."

    Ameryl: "You're joking?"

    Gadreel: "Actully, no. I'm not joking."

    The three women are dumbfounded.

    Marianne: "So are you or aren't you?"

    Ameryl: "Maybe it's another technique to get the ladies?"

    Gadreel: "And it would seem to be working, wouldn't it?"

    Suzanna: "I wouldn't say so!"

    Ameryl: "If you are a spy, who are you spying for? I don't see much worth spying on in Ampersand, frankly speaking."

    Suzanna and Marianne both look offended at Ameryl. Ameryl just shrugs at them.

    Gadreel: "Ampersand is recently claimed by the High Empire. I'm here just to watch and see how it goes. There's a lot of resentment, especially on the top tiers. But some resent it here below too. It's a tricky one since the instigator of the takeover is a riches to rags to riches hero, anti-hero and villain all in one. Lines are drawn in the sand. Some of the poor think they'll be uplifted, liberated from poverty by the High Empire. Some think they're being controlled and denied their freedom. Some rich think the High Empire will disrupt their way of life, while some think it'll bring fresh opportunities. At least down here it's less likely to end in fighting."

    Ameryl: "No doubt the Highemperor will just send in the troops to force the populace to his will. He's a man that gets what he wants."

    Gadreel: "Or maybe he thinks it's what's best for these people? Maybe he wants to save them from themselves?"

    Gadreel draws on his pipe. She recognises that he's just goading her but she answers anyway.

    Ameryl: "Like forcing freedom and privilege on people."

    Gadreel: "Perhaps."

    Ameryl: "It's not. At least that would be misguided. He just wants to aggrandise himself. You know there's a religion that worships him?"

    Gadreel: "I don't believe he started that religion."

    Ameryl: "But he didn't stop it either. He revels in it. Statues of himself everywhere. He wants everyone to look at him."

    Gadreel: "So, to the Highemperor, everyone is a grigori?"

    Ameryl smirks at that.

    Ameryl: "I suppose so! Does that make you feel less lonely?"

    Gadreel: "Or maybe being just one in a crowd would make me more lonely?"

    Suzanna de Myste: "How contrary you are, Mr Gadreel!"

    She fans herself irritably.

    Marianne de Myste: "And really, it's bad enough being in the same family, no matter how distant, to Carian Myste, without you bringing him up. We do try to avoid his existence as much as possible."

    Gadreel: "I would have thought he'd be happy to help his relatives?"

    Marianne de Myste: "I highly doubt it, since our ancestors stood by and watched his father go under. The man was a debter and there is nothing more shameful than a debter. Over night it was as though they had never existed. It's a shame nobody took Carian in though. He was just a boy, he could have been taken care of."

    Suzanna de Myste:
    "Marianne! That would just draw attention to the problem! That boy would have been a constant reminder of the shame our family name had to endure because of his father. And then he became nothing but a crook. Just like his father. If our name wasn't so prestigious, I would volunteer to change it!"

    Gadreel: "Such strong opinions..."

    Ameryl: "No doubt this has been suitable material for your spy report?"

    Suzanna de Myste: "Oh dear! I don't want to be in your report!"

    Gadreel smirks from behind a veil of blue mist.

    Gadreel: "Shall I label you as anonymous?"

    Marianne de Myste: "I daresay it sounds like a terrible waste of time. Who cares what my sister thinks?"

    Suzanna de Myste: "Hey!"

    Marianne de Myste: "I meant in the grand scheme of things, Marianne! The High Empire itself doesn't even acknowledge our existence and they claim to be our new masters. So why should anyone else care?"

    Gadreel taps his pipe distractedly.

    Gadreel: "You three have been standing this whole time. I probably look very rude sitting here while you strain yourselves. You might want to find chairs?"

    Ameryl: "Trying to avoid the question?"

    Gadreel smirks.

    Gadreel: "Not at all! I'm not sure what the question is, however."

    Ameryl: "Who would be interested in the goings-on here?"

    Gadreel: "Are you not interested in the goings-on here? You are quite the information gatherer yourself. I am certainly interested. Intrigue is most, dare I say, intriguing?"

    Ameryl: "Oh wow. That was dreadful. And also not enough to distract me. Who do you work for?"

    Gadreel: "Not sure I work for anybody..."

    Ameryl: "Who do you serve?"

    Gadreel: "I am no servant."

    Ameryl: "Who are you spying for?"

    Gadreel: "Am I a spy? I thought I told you I was just joking about that?"

    Suzanna de Myste: "Mr Gadreel, you are a nuisance."

    Marianne de Myste: "If it's acceptable for people to know you're a spy, then why wouldn't you tell us who you're spying for?"

    Gadreel: "Aside from the fun of the chase? Maybe you should just try to find out?"

    Ameryl: "Frankly, I doubt it would take long. Not a lot of people are so interested in the High Empire that they'd spy on an unimportant vacuum like this city."

    The two girls look offended again but this time Ameryl has lost sight of the world around her.

    Ameryl: "They'd all be spying somewhere more significant, like a political hub or a military installation. Just going to watch the Interdimensional Arena battles would get you more information on the High Empire than Ampersand. So you must be from a major power that knows a lot about the High Empire, so much so that intrigue on the lowest levels is useful..."

    Gadreel: "Well, well. You know your High Empire well."

    Ameryl: "I have studied."

    Gadreel: "Miss Ameryl. I feel I have done you a disservice!"

    Suzanna de Myste: "Finally! You'll apologise for your mean behaviour?"

    Gadreel: "I shall! I didn't do my studies well enough! I know nothing about you and now I feel I should. You're obviously more than just a wine-growing toff."

    Suzanna tisks.

    Suzanna de Myste: "Honestly."

    Gadreel: "I sense something... something personal."

    He slowly stands, stretching himself out to tower over the three women.

    Gadreel: "Playing with these clueless nobles has made me rusty."

    Marianne de Myste: "Rusty at spying?"

    Gadreel: "No! I don't spy!"

    Marianne de Myste: "You don't, you do, you don't, you do. This gets old, you know?"

    Gadreel: "Admit nothing!"

    He then points a knowing finger at her.

    Gadreel: "And admit everything. Nobody will every know the truth and yet they do know the truth. They just don't know which truth is the truth!"

    Suzanna de Myste: "...What?"

    Gadreel: "Nevermind, young Miss de Myste. I feel your life has a higher calling than these kind of shenanigans."

    Suzanna de Myste: "I daresay I agree with you this time!"

    Marianne de Myste: "Like finger-painting..."

    Suzanna de Myste: "Marianne! Don't insult me like that!"

    Marianne is taken aback that her sister even recognised she was being insulted.

    Suzanna de Myste: "You know I would never abide being so dirty!"

    Reality returns.

    Gadreel: "I think I should leave for the evening. I am an early sleeper."

    Ameryl: "Or a late night watcher."

    Gadreel: "I promise not to peep on you."

    Suzanna de Myste: "Mr Gadreel! That's much too far! Who would even consider such a thing!?"

    Gadreel: "Only the most depraved monsters in the universe, young Miss de Myste. That is why I assure you, I am not of such an ilk. Even if I am a watcher, I am not a peeper."

    Ameryl thinks of one certain peeping tom and cannot think of her as a monster. Depraved though... probably.

    Suzanna de Myste: "Well. Fine. But I expect you can now be upgraded from watcher to talker, at least."

    Gadreel gives her what appears to be a genuine smile.

    Gadreel: "That's very kind of you. But I not called the watcher by title. I am a grigori. It is what I am, not what I do."

    Before that statement can be puzzled upon there's a scream from the next room.

    Marianne de Myste: "It sounds like Mrs Blunderbuss has found someone wearing pink and red on the same outfit again."

    Ameryl can't dismiss the scream as the over reaction of a pretentious clown, however. It was a scream of genuine fright.

    Ameryl: "Quickly, everyone to the rear exit!"

    Nobody moves. Running scared would be very unseemly and the idea that something terrible might happen to them is inconceivable. They haven't had a real trial in their entire lives beyond choosing which tea cozy matches their crockery best.

    Ameryl: "Please! There's something hap--"

    The door to the next room crashes open, smashed from its hinges, and a series of rough-looking men and women pile into the room. One of them, who appears to be a literal skeleton wearing pirate garb, comes in dragging a waiter by his dicky-bow.

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Alright, buckos! This is a stick up!"

    The rich nobles all look cluelessly. At least one of them has the sense to, albeit with uncertainty, put his hands up. The skeleton captain tosses the waiter to the floor and waggles a very large hand cannon at the crowd.

    Kaptin Kwanza:
    "A stick up! It means I'm robbing you! Give us all ya stuff or I'll blow a hold through your chest. And that'll really mess up these nice suits and dresses yous are all wearing, wouldn't it?"

    Ameryl: "Well, this is unexpected..."

    Marianne de Myste: "How exciting! I hope Mrs Blunderbuss gets shot. How ironic would that be?"

  13. #13
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow A Captive Audience

    The Story of Ameryl
    A Captive Audience

    The assortment of criminals starts herding the nobles of Ampersand into three smaller groups - separating them all out so nobody is unseen - and then they're made to kneel. Most of the women are pushed into one larger group, being seen as the lesser threat by the bandits. Apparently they had enough at least enough research about their target to know the cultural gender roles of the planet. Unfortunately for them they hadn't done enough research to know that Ameryl is amongst their prey.

    Ameryl, however, does as she is told. She wonders if she should stop the assailants or not. She certainly could, she believes, but she wonders why she ought to. She would be protecting the valuables of a group of people who have plenty of valuables that they have earnt off of the backs of the incredibly poor paupers on the upper tiers of the city. Perhaps it was justice that their wealth would be taken away this day.

    But there is also the question of morality and honour. Are these qualities even important, after all; Nothing matters. Ought these brigands be allowed to get away with their crime? The nobles perhaps deserved to be robbed, but do these people deserve the rewards of the robbing? She doubts it. But if she were to stop them, should she not also stop the injustice being committed against all of the downtrodden of this world?

    When would it end?

    Enforcing her own sense of morality upon all these people, believing her own morality to be superior. She could help these people...

    Woman: "If Highemperor were here..."

    Ameryl turns her head, slowly, to stare incredulously at this stranger. It was almost like the word 'Highemperor' was an accusation. Enforce her will, her morality and judgement, upon the world and become just like Highemperor.

    The woman is quite short and has pale, white skin that is complimented by gentle, red-rose cheeks. Her nose is small and dainty but her eyes are wide and young. Her hair is golden blonde and very long, worn straight with nary a kink or curl. The fringe is parted off-centre and shorter than the rest of her hair, cut just low of her chin. Within that carefully maintained silk carpet are flowers, tethered to a headband hidden under the layers of hair, that are freshly picked and probably coated in preservatives to keep them looking alive. Each day worn must cost the lives of dozens of unfortunate flowers. They're pink-to-white geraniums, clutched tightly into two large bunches on either side of her head. At the back of her head an oversized red bow is perched. She wears a high-collared shell top that's coloured mimi pink around the shoulders with a gradual change to white at the bottom.

    Ameryl can't help but notice she has incredibly oversized breasts, considering how short she is, and they're adorned with a layer of pale gold lace and jewellery, which rests there rather than hangs. From the back of her hands to her elbows are gold, bejewelled armbands with soft linked chains and tiny pink tourmaline gemstones, with a faint green haze around the pink, hanging from each chain.

    Her skirt is the inverse colour scheme of the top, starting white at the waist and gradually descending into pink - though this time a slightly darker shade of pink at the very hem than mimi pink. The skirt has an unusual twist to the pleat, so that it spirals around the legs instead of falling straight. Most unseemly for the majority of Ampersand nobles, the woman's feet can be seen from beneath the skirt where she's wearing pink greek shoes with very high heels (which Ameryl realises must mean she's even shorter than she initially saw).

    There's an air of timid arrogance to the young woman. The arrogance that comes from relying on someone else's immense strength and not her own. She wants to assert it but in unable or too afraid to do so.

    Ameryl recognises it. She must be an intimate of Highemperor.

    Ameryl: "I suppose Highemperor has so many women, the chances of running into at least one should probably be pretty high..."

    The woman's large, green eyes turn to look at Ameryl, noticing her for the first time. She blinks, trying to process whether she's being insulted or not, before resorting to pleasantries; the default for these Ampersand nobles.

    Fantina: "I am Fantina Clémence Dujardin of Newsom--"

    He points a finger, as though including Ameryl in some inside information.

    Fantina: "That's on the lowest tier of Ampersand. The lowest."

    She gives Ameryl a look of immodest modesty that was simultaneously expecting praise yet telling Ameryl that praise is sincerely unnecessary with complete lack of that sincerity. Ameryl looks at the woman for a brief second and then just turns away.

    There's a long silence and Ameryl feels the woman's eyes burning holes in the back of her head while Ameryl studies the bandits, who have already started snatching necklaces and watches to put into sacks. The leader, the creepy-skeleton guy, is prancing around the room and filling up a box with a great many things he finds. The box evidently has some kind of dimensional warping on it since it never gets any heavier, despite him throwing a whole horde of goods into it.

    Fantina: "I am wife of Highemperor himself. The highest of highnesses, you know?"

    Fantina practically gasps this and Ameryl rolls her eyes.

    Ameryl: "Waifu and a fangirl? You know you're like a walking definition of objectification? Is there anything to your existence beyond being wife to Highemperor?"

    Fantina starts to say something but stops. Clearly she couldn't think of anything else.

    Ameryl scans the other captives and spots Gadreel, kneeling down between the two fattest men in the room like a couple of suns with a single, lonely planet pressed between them. Gadreel is wearing a 'quite amused' expression on his face, but from her angle Ameryl can see his back. In his upper garment there are two slits at the back from which she spies a slight haze of energy. It looks like it could be magic but she doesn't sense it. If it's not magic, she doesn't know what the energy is and certainly no idea why its escaping glands in his back.

    As she's looking at him he glances back and locks eyes with her. He gives her a roguish smirk and a wink.

    Ameryl frowns.

    Is she being flirted with? She has been so long removed from any 'normal' prospects of a relationship that she has no idea.

    Fantina: "I think there is no higher calling than being wife to the Highemperor anyway."

    Second Woman: "Hush, Fantina, you are going to get us into trouble. Please don't draw attention--"

    Fantina: "They dare not lay a finger on the wife of--!"

    Kwanza: "Oi! Shaddap ya pompous prig! Someone point a gun in the face of that chatterbox, will ya!"

    Fantina: "Eep!"

    Fantina finally manages to quieten just as her friend had requested. Ameryl watches as Kaptin Kwanza topples an old grandfather clock over and it clangs with a great cacophony against the dimensional box. He starts tipping it over, top first, into the box with a great deal of struggling. Ameryl shakes her head with a mixture of pity and annoyance at the pathetic display.

    Marianne de Myste: "Miss Ameryl, what will become of us?"

    Ameryl: "Nothing."

    Marianne pauses before she responds to that.

    Marianne de Myste: "Do you mean that literally or in the philosophical sense of your religion?"

    Ameryl chuckles a little at that.

    Ameryl: "I meant literally this time. They take what they want and go."

    Suzanna de Myste: "But--! They'll take everything!"

    Ameryl: "Nothing you can't afford to replace."

    Suzanna de Myste: "But--! But--!"

    There's a sudden horrifying clattering of gongs and broken mechanics as the grandfather clock finally falls into the box. Everyone jumps with sudden fright, including Kwanza himself, who peeks back into the box as the destruction he'd wrought. He glances up at everyone from the scene;

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Whoops?"

    He shrugs and shoves the box over to the next thing in his path, a bookshelf. He snatches the first book and waggles it at the noble audience, who are now captivated with his thieving.

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Any of these worth anything?"

    The nobles all look at Ameryl, owner of the house. Ameryl groans at her sudden exposure. Kwanza looks straight at her, his eyeless sockets black and empty.

    Ameryl: "Probably not. People don't buy books to actually read here, just fill a shelf to look impressive. They could all be books on goat taming for all anyone knows."

    Kwanza's skull twists into a grin. More of a grin, anyway, since skulls usually look to be grinning.

    Kaptin Kwanza: "You're a cocky one, ain't ya? Ain't she, boyos?"

    A series of unimpressed 'ayes' are murmured by the other bandits. Attention now drawn on her, Ameryl starts to think she's going to wind up in a fight after all. So much for doing nothing. The bandit leader strides over to her, tilting his head to get a good look at her. He can probably sense she's not like the rest of the people here.

    Ameryl: "Just being honest."

    Kaptin Kwanza stands before her, where she kneels and averts his eyes. He look at the book and reads the title;

    Kaptin Kwanza: "The Exciting World of Peanuts..."

    He glances from the book to Ameryl and back at the book.

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Alright, I get you just put random books on the shelves but this one? Seriously? Who even writes this crap?"

    He checks the name of the author.

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Who the hell is Sir Bedivere of Camalot? And why does he think peanuts are exciting!?"

    Suzanna de Myste: "Mr Pirate, I must insist that you release us! Making us kneel upon the floor is most unbecoming! We look like a room full of scullery maids!"

    Marianne de Myste: "It'd be a lot of very finely dressed scullery maids..."

    Ameryl: "Suzanna, you should be silent."

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Noooo, no, no! It's just fine if the pretty, young thing wants to say somethin'! We're aaaaall ears, ain't we chaps?"

    The bandits once again gave a series of gruff 'ayes'. Kwanza walks around Ameryl and stands over Suzanna.

    Suzanna de Myste: "Well, your behaviour thus far has been repugnant! I say again, repugnant! You ask too much of us! You know that ladies have a delicate constitution? Even the gentlemen must be in dire straits, try to imagine how we ladies must feel! You simply must release us and be on your way! The High Imperial authorities must already be en route so you ought to comply with their requirements on your way out."

    Kaptin Kwanza gives her a mock pitying smile (albeit hard to tell without face muscles) and beckons that she should rise to her feet.

    Kaptin Kwanza: "C'mon on up if you feel degraded down there. You're right. A lady shouldn't be treated like this."

    Suzanna actually accepts his offered hand and rises to her feet as gracefully as she could muster. Ameryl winces, knowing that the pirate is about to teach the girl a true lesson in humility. Ameryl could, of course, help spare the dimwit of such a disgrace but, in all honesty, Ameryl thinks Suzanna could use a shock to snap her out of ignorance.

    Suzanna de Myste: "Thank you, Captain. I-- OOF!"

    Kwanza gives her a good shove and Suzanna staggers back before toppling over one of Highemperor's wives. She then lands, sprawled, most ungracefully, upon the floor. She wails with the sudden fright and the pain she feels in her elbows. She looks up at Kwanza, utterly betrayed.

    Suzanna de Myste: "You-- brute!"

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Sorry, I guess you ain't no lady t'me."

    Having fulfilled his own sense of justice he turns on the downed woman to the rest of the group.

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Anyone else feel like standin' up? I don't care what you look like or how you feel. You're down there so we can see what ya'll're up to. So jus' lump it til we're done nicking your crap. After that, you can get back to sneering at paupers and abusing your hired help."

    Ameryl is satisfied enough with the results. Kwanza wasn't so nearly as rough with Suzanna as she had expected. A meagre shove might be enough to wake the girl up, but it may actually make her manners worse. Kwanza tosses the the book about peanuts onto the floor and goes off to collect his box.

    Kaptin Kwanza: "One thing the idiot girl got right is that the authorities'll be down here soon. We'd better skedaddle before that 'appens. I don't fancy blastin' my way outta here. Slick!"

    Mr Slick: "Mister Slick."

    Kaptin Kwanza: "Don't you start givin' me the airs and graces too, dammit! Get everythin' together, we're outta 'ere--"

    Mr Slick: "Time to go. Everything you have, get it by the door immediately. Oliver, you too."

    Mr Slick gestures to a teenage boy who's wearing a pair of worn dungarees, bottle-lens glasses and has quite long, lank and greasy hair. His face is riddled with acne and he's been making a valiant attempt to grow some fluff upon his jaw that has resulted in a mottled set of blonde wisps around his chin and his sideburns. The boy, prompted by his master's dominance over the situation, arrogantly grins at the cowering nobles. He quickly starts snatching any remaining necklaces from around necks, giving them a solid yank to break the chains. When he reaches out to take a necklace from Gadreel, however, the self-professed spy jerks away and puts a hand on his necklace.

    Gadreel: "Sorry lad, I can't let you take this. It's not worth anything, it's not gold or anything. It's just a memento for myself."

    Oliver frowns, angry that someone would stop him and speak to him so condescendingly. He's no 'lad', he's a badass villain now!

    Oliver: "Don't care, chump. Hand it over."

    Gadreel winces, knowing that he's causing a scene and doesn't want to.

    Gadreel: "I really can't allow it. Your boss won't mind. He seems the pragmatic type. And you're on your way out."

    He looks beyond Oliver towards the other bandits who were taking their haul out of the manor. Only a couple of them were left to keep their weapons fixated upon the group.

    From where Ameryl is stationed, she wonders what Gadreel could be thinking. Is the necklace really worth prompting this kind of fight? He may not get injured himself, but there are a lot of other people that the bandits could target or even just get caught in the cross fire.

    Oliver turns, red-faced and angry, from Gadreel and runs to Mr Slick, who is standing at the door.

    Oliver: "Mr Slick! This guy is defying us! We should kill him!"

    He points over to the offender and Gadreel rolls his eyes, knowing what is to come. Instead of waiting for it, he gets to his feet, Mr Slick narrows his black-coloured eyes. His entire mask seems to mould around his eyes so that they are just as expressive as if they were his real eyes. The two horns of his mask jut up from his head on either side of his thick, spiked hair. The mask itself is made of a kind of thick, but pliable plastic material and has a matt-shine to it. The mask is cut short at the chin, revealing the white-skinned and clean-shaven human jaw. When Mr Slick realises it's fight time, his mouth slips into an enormous, but menacing, toothy grin.

    Mr Slick: "It looks like someone finally grew a spine!"

    Oliver: "Teach 'em who's boss, boss!"

    Mr Slick: "Get everyone else out of here, Oliver. I'll deal with this fool."

    Gadreel: "Deal with me? I'm sorry to tell you that I won't actually be sticking around for you to do any dealing with me..."

    Mr Slick pauses in his approach.

    Mr Slick: "So you won't fight?"

    Oliver: "So you will hand over that pendant?"

    Gadreel: "No."

    There's a moment of confused silence before Mr Slick speaks very slowly;

    Mr Slick: "You're two options are; give us the pendant and get back on your knees or I slap the living daylights out of you."

    Gadreel: "Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Let me think about this one."

    Oliver: "He's taking the piss, boss!"

    Mr Slick: "OLIVER! Watch your language!"

    Oliver: "Sorry."

    Mr Slick reaches Gadreel and grins down at the gaunt man, his expressive eye slits wide with mania.

    Mr Slick: "What'll it be?"

    Gadreel: "I choose option number three."

    Mr Slick: "There is no option three, fool!"

    Gadreel: "Sure there is!"

    He turns and runs off.

    Mr Slick is dumbstruck, not having expected that one. Even the captives are all surprised and crane their heads to watch Gadreel legging it out of the room. Ameryl feels most embarrassed but she knows that the other men are simply too afraid for their reputations to stoop to such cowardice, no matter how much they'd like to go running off too. It would take too much courage to show such cowardice.

    Marianne de Myste: "I can't believe he just scarpered!"

    Fantina: "I thought the enigmatic rogues were supposed to be brave vagabonds. So much for romantic fiction, I guess. My husband would never flee like that."

    Ameryl: "From what I have come to understand about Highemperor is that he has done plenty of running away in his lifetime. He might have found himself settled now, but that wasn't always the case."

    Fantina: "Never!"

    Ameryl: "It's true. Whether running from danger, from his past, from his gods or even from himself and his own deeds. He has run. And one day he will find himself running again, I don't doubt."

    Marianne de Myste: "Right now I care more about the escapee of ours than hers, Miss Ameryl."

    Fantina: "My husband is no escapee! And he should always be in the foremost of your mind, Lady de Myste, as a subject of his--"

    Mr Slick: "Shut the Hell up you lot! Someone chase after that gimp! But not too far! We have to go."

    Ameryl: "I suppose if Mr Gadreel is too frightened to take care of himself, I shall have to do it for him."

    Suzanna de Msyte, who has been nursing her pride as much as her sore arm, jolts in panic at such words.

    Suzanna de Myste:
    "B-but Miss Ameryl! I've never heard of such a scandalous thing! A woman protecting a man!? Unimaginable! I daresay you would land yourself into a lot of trouble and you'd tarnish his reputation beyond repair!"

    She glances back to where he'd run off.

    Suzanna de Myste: "More than it already has..."

    Ameryl: "In this society, perhaps. But after this little incident, I don't think I'll stay here much longer."

    Marianne de Myste stares at Ameryl with wide-eyes.

    Marianne de Myste: "You mean you'll leave? But-- I mean--"

    Ameryl gets to her feet and Mr Slick, who had been watching out of the door to see where Gadreel had gotten to, turns to look at her. He eyes her for a moment with some curiosity.

    Mr Slick: "This is nearly over. You can pee later."

    Ameryl rolls her eyes.

    Ameryl: "I don't need to use the restroom. I intend to... well to kick your arse from one side of the room to the other!"

    The ladies in the room gasp. Except Marianne who giggles.

    Mr Slick: "Do you mind!?"

    Mr Slick gestures towards Oliver.

    Mr Slick: "There's a boy in the room. Watch your language!"

    He walks around the group of kneeling nobles who, by this point, have stopped being afraid and have gotten quite entertained by this whole process. Being robbed by ruffians, watching the enigmatic Gadreel run off like a child and the captivating Lady Ameryl stand up and declare war upon a man twice her size - it will definitely going to go down in history as 'an interesting afternoon'.

    Suzanna de Myste:
    "But, Miss Ameryl! What can you do against him?"

    In response Ameryl draws aether from the atmosphere into the palm of her hand to create an orb of magical darkness - a globe of blackness. The nobles all stare at the orb with the sudden realisation that a mage has been in their midst all this time.

    Mr Slick faces Ameryl, his back straight. His suit is black and red and mostly quite skin-tight, showing the incredible muscles he's worked on across his whole body. While spiked on top, his hair is incredibly long at the back and moulded into dreadlocks that hang down his back like a cat o' nine tails. His boots are integrated into the black on red jumpsuit, making Ameryl wonder how much of a nuisance that getup is to put on in the morning. But while all of that is unusual it was his left glove that was interesting. As though in reply to Ameryl's show of power, Mr Slick displayed the abilities of his own. His hand melted and broke into tiny fragments that whirled around for a moment before reintegrating themselves into the form of a massive cannon. She gets the sudden impression that hand of his is going to prove quite the difficulty.

    Ameryl slowly raises her magic-hand and Mr Slick raises his cannon.

    The air grows tense as everyone wonders who will fire first.

    Kwanza: "Oi! What're you lot playin' at in 'ere!?"

    The two combatants don't turn away from each other. They just remain ready. Kwanza waits for a moment.

    Kwanza: "Well. I'll leave you to it then."

    He exits, dragging his box of stolen loot with him.

    Ameryl: "Your boss is gone. You can leave."

    Mr Slick: "I think I'd like to leave... over your corpse."

    The cannon unleashes two bolts of white, crackling energy that propel at an immense speed from the arm-weapon. They miss her, however, by quite a lot. She almost feels sorry for him. She is about to throw her orb of magic at his face when she notices the cannon seems to be working still, a faint glow around the muzzle. She frowns, thinking to prepare herself for another shot, when she hears a yell;

    Fantina: "WATCH OUT BEHIND YOU!"

    Ameryl turns just in time to see the two bolts of energy coming straight back at her, drawn by the pull of the cannon.

    Ameryl: "Oh bugger!"

  14. #14
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Way of the Nunchuks

    The Story of Ameryl
    The Way of the Nunchuks

    One year earlier.

    Ameryl was spending some quiet time on the planet Earth of the Sol System in the Milky Way Galaxy. It's a backwater nowhere place that you've probably never even heard of, don't bother trying to google it. It's definitely not on Wikipedia either.

    On this watery planet Ameryl was searching for answers to the mysterious weapons she had been entrusted with by the Sepulchral Phantom. Why he decided she had to have them, she didn't know. Sometimes these contrived incidents happened to her all too often. Either way, she had the 'god-killing nunchakus' now and she intended to get to the bottom of what she was supposed to do with them. First she would have to learn what a damned nunchaku was.

    After some searching she met with the most infamous and powerful warrior in the known Multiverse. His name was legend. His strength unfathomable. His victories endless. His legacy unquestionable.

    Chuck Norris.

    Ameryl, as much by instinct as by will, whips the hidden nunchaku from their concealed position on her hip (hidden amongst the glorious arrangement of beautiful blue bows) and flips the stick to smack the incoming energy blast. The energy touches the nunchakus and obliterates into nothingness - the power of the destructive force is snuffed out entirely.

    Mr Slick stares at Ameryl with disbelief.

    Ameryl: "I trained."

    He fires again, repeatedly, and she moves through a flurry of motions as the nunchakus spin around her person and block every incoming blast of death. He finally relents as he sees nothing get through her defence and she stops, poised and ready, wearing a thin smile of satisfaction. She hadn't had the opportunity to use these against anyone but her former sensei.

    Suzanna de Myste: "Miss Ameryl! That is most... undignified for a lady..."

    Despite her words, her tone is filled with admiration. The two wives of Highemperor are even clapping at the performance.

    Fantina: "Brava, Miss Ameryl! Brava! Am I right, Aurorielle?"

    The second wife nods energetically as she continues to clap.

    Mr Slick: "So you're good. But I'm better!"

    His arm blows apart and coalesces into a new shape, this time it is a long blade this a razor-thin edge and is coloured obsidian with a faint purple sheen. Able to sense the force emanating from it, it seems to be imbued with a style of void magic. Anything that it touches would be sucked into an endless void and lost to reality for all eternity.

    Suzanna de Myste: "I say! This chap is cheating!"

    Ameryl: "It's quite alright, Miss de Myste. I am more the cheat..."

    The void-blade swings through the air, visibly slicing it with a small tear that filled again a split-second later. Ameryl doesn't move anything but her arms. The nunchakus slap against the sword. As they connect, the blade rebounds with a tremendous vibration through Mr Slick's body. The effect of the blow, for Ameryl, is completely absorbed and negated by the nunchakus. She stands, unperturbed, with an aura of calm as she watches Mr Slick glare at her in anger.

    Mr Slick:
    "How are you doing that!?"

    Ameryl: "You should leave now, before I decide I want all of my stuff back."

    Oliver, from the doorway, screams with petulant rage;

    Oliver: "How dare you defy us!! We'll beat you down! Make you beg for mercy!!"

    "You'll do that, will you?"

    Oliver suddenly looks very nervous and stammers;

    "W-w-well, yeah-- I mean, boss will take care of you..."

    Mr Slick: "Enough! Oliver, you should have left... I know I'm outmatched and we have what we came for. Next time, I'll be prepared for you. Ameryl."

    Ameryl: "Tatty-bye."

    Mr Slick backs away and ushers his own protégé out of the door.

    The nobles wait for a moment, unsure if it's really safe, before Aurorielle hops to her feet and dusts down the knees of her dress. She appears to be quite unrefined in her movements, unpractised as though she had been brought up through the class ranks and shoved into a noblewoman's garment. Her hair is a dark shade of pink, that appears to be her natural shade of colour, and is worn long but with chin-length fringe. In many ways her facial proportions resemble Fantina's in that they're cute. Ameryl is worried that these two would indicate Highemperor has a taste for childish bimbos. From her ears dangle a pair of large gold earrings with a series of small precious stones, red rubies, hanging from them. Around her neck is a gold collar with smatterings of white gold to break up the piece. It is a large, decorative and heavy as it encapsulates the whole neck and rests against the shoulders, above the refined dress she is wearing.

    Despite the youthfulness of her face, her eyes appear much older and quite seductive as she gazes around herself. The make-up she uses emphasise the brilliance of her bright, pink irises and the eye shadow is designed to make her eyes pop. Though she moves with none of the refinement of a noblewoman, she does move with a certain choreography of a woman that knows she's being admired. Her hips sway wide as she walks over to Ameryl. She then gives an awkward curtsy.

    Ameryl thinks this woman is probably a dancer Highemperor found in a palace somewhere. Or a prostitute.

    Aurorielle: "I want to be the first to thank you, my lady Ameryl. You were... wonderful."

    Her accent is exemplified by the word 'foreign'. It has a hard r that forces out the remaining sounds of the word and the always impossible 'th' for non-english speakers is malformed into a zed sound. As she says the word 'wonderful' it's almost gasped. Ameryl raises her eyebrow, thinking this waifu is trying to seduce her.

    Ameryl: "It would have been better if I hadn't had to do that at all, frankly. Thank you nonetheless."

    Aurorielle: "Forgive me if I am rude, but I think I know who you are. I have heard your name before."

    Ameryl: "I suppose there'll be gossips about me in your circle. No doubt about it."

    Aurorielle: "You are the one who got away, I believe."

    Ameryl: "I expect there are a lot of them actually. More of them than Highemperor would like to admit or acknowledge."

    Aurorielle: "Ah. Perhaps. But it is you they speak of. He pines for you still."

    Ameryl: "I'm sure he's just wretched with sorrow."

    Ameryl rolls her eyes.

    The others are now on their feet and are babbling angrily about hooligans and criminals and how they should all be shot. A few of the men are claiming that they could have dealt with the situation but were afraid to get others into trouble, while everyone agrees that the flight of Gadreel was most unbecoming of a gentleman.

    Marianne de Myste:
    "But, Miss Ameryl, what is this mysterious weapon you have? How did it protect you from all that power?"

    Ameryl holds the nunchakus in her hand and lifts them for the group to see.

    Ameryl: "They were gifted to me. I learnt to use them but I never expected to see just how... effective they are. I do wonder. Could this anti-power stop even--"

    She stops and looks up at Fantina and Aurorielle. Fortunately neither of them seemed to have caught that and she holds her tongue. If there is power, then this would counteract that power. The inverse. When power meets anti-power, they cancel out.

    She lifts the nunchakus so she can get a better look at them herself. She wonders if the anti-power within could be better applied than two sticks. As effective as they are, Ameryl believe she could never master the nunchakus as her sensei had done. Despite the time she spent training on Earth, the way of the nunchuk was not her way.

    Ameryl held two toy nuns in her hands, tethered by string. She looked up at Chuck Norris. The way of the 'nun-chuck'. The nuns faces were even carved to look like Chuck Norris.

    She considers this but then wonders why. Why even attempt to utilise this anti-power? She doesn't hate Highemperor enough to want to interfere in his schemes. She would rather forget his existence and forge her own path. She would not dedicate her life to the downfall of the man she once loved, even if the ability to do so is, literally, in her hands.

    But then what is her purpose to be? To possess such a force, or anti-force, is a responsibility. She believes that the Multiverse is best left alone. Nothing matters and so changing things, or fighting for causes, is meaningless. Or... is it? Perhaps nothingness means that everything is important.

    Ameryl: "Something is born of nothing and shall return to nothing, but for a time it is something and when it is something perhaps it is worth... something..."

    The other women stare at Ameryl. Only Marianne seems not to be trying to figure out what Ameryl is blathering about, having resigned herself to not understanding most of this philosophical prattle no matter how much Ameryl explains it. Marianne is curious, but not so determined that she would like to necessarily follow this religious doctrine.

    Ameryl: "Well."

    She snaps out of her reverie and glances around the war-torn room.

    Ameryl: "It seems my life here is over."

    The two de Myste girls gasp in horror.

    Marianne de Myste: "What!? Why!? You don't even care about this stuff!"

    Ameryl: "An event like this calls for change. I would leave eventually anyway. But I think this is a good point to do so."

    Suzanna de Myste: "But where would you go!?"

    Ameryl: "I have no idea yet."

    Gadreel: "You could come with me?"

    They all spin to find the coward standing behind them.

    Suzanna de Myste:
    "You! You ran away! You coward!"

    Gadreel: "Well, I wasn't about to let that guy hurt me! Was I supposed to get punched on principle? Let myself get beaten up just to show how brave I am?"

    Suzanna de Myste: "Well--... yes!"

    Gadreel: "I am grigori. I am a Watcher. We watch. We do not fight."

    Marianne de Myste: "It was quite funny to watch you scuttle away like that."

    Gadreel: "Glad I could entertain you!"

    He grins with misplaced pride.

    Ameryl: "If I went with you, where would I be going?"

    "Maybe I will take you to the people I spy for."

    Suzanna de Myste: "So you are a spy!"

    Gadreel: "Unless I'm lying."

    Suzanna de Myste: "Are you lying?"

    Gadreel: "Of course I am."

    Marianne de Myste:
    "You are!?"

    Gadreel: "No."

    Ameryl: "I wish you'd stop doing that. You would have to tell me where you're going before I go with you."

    Gadreel: "If I told you that, I'd have to kill you. That's what the spies say, isn't it?"

    Fantina: "You are a silly chap, aren't you?"

    Gadreel: "I do try, Queen Fantina."

    Ameryl snorts at 'queen' but, after a glance at Fantina, softly apologises. In the High Empire there's thousands of queens, all wives of Highemperor, making the title almost meaningless. There's probably more queens than there are servants.

    Aurorielle: "Maybe we could go with you too!? I think I'd like a holiday after today."

    "We are on holiday, Aurorielle."

    Aurorielle: "Then we shall have a second holiday. What do you think, Mr Watcher?"

    Gadreel: "It's fine by me. I'll save my espionage for when you're not around."

    Aurorielle: "Oh! But maybe it is we who shall be doing the spying, non?"

    Gadreel: "Does that mean I'd have to start counterspying? How disappointing."

    Aurororielle: "I promise, we shall always do our spying right in front of you."

    Ameryl: "Well, if you two are going... I may as well go to. At least it'll be interesting to know where you take us, Gadreel, if nothing else."

    Ameryl notices Marianne and Suzanna having a silent conversation with their eyes. Marianne tilts her head a little, demanding that they join Ameryl's little adventure, while Suzanna is stubbornly too afraid to leave her comfort zone. Eventually Marianne groans and exasperated sigh.

    Marianne de Myste: "We're going too."

    Suzanna de Myste: "N--"

    Marianne de Myste: "Ah!"

    She puts her finger against her sister's lips to silence her.

    Ameryl: "Now that's we've all promised to go, will you tell us to where?"

    Gadreel steps aside and swings his offering hand towards the door. The other nobles watch as the group exits and wonders what Ameryl plans to do with her property. Ameryl, on the other hand, doesn't even think about it.

    Gadreel: "The Imperium."

  15. #15
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Tress

    The Story of Ameryl

    The space fortress named the Great Eiyill is orbiting the planet Tress. Its cannons once faced the planet's surface but ten (Earth years) ago the cannons were inverted to aim out into space as a gesture of faith towards the Jupiterians. The western hemisphere, now under the thumb of the new Jovian Republic, is separated by the incredibly long, and wide, River Split. The aptly named river runs straight through the centre of the planet, north to south, where it only ends when it meets the two frozen poles. The planet Tress itself is double the size of Jupiter, but it is a rocky terran planet with a thick atmosphere, rich with the necessary components to support most sentient life.

    The eastern half of the planet is controlled by The Imperium, who arrived on the world before the Jupiterians ever did. The planet was used mostly as a research station and expanded very slowly until the Jupiterians also arrived. These two empires, unlike most empires of the Multiverse, don't expand outwards from their original homeworld but, instead, appear as tiny dots across a map of any galaxy. Their portal technology means that they expand to anywhere in a galaxy so long as it is capable of life. Other empires, such as the human empires or the High Empire, expand in order to maintain a zone of control and create borders that can be patrolled and guarded.

    With the arrival of the Jupiterians, who set up a settlement before they even knew the world was occupied, The Imperium interest in the world increased dramatically. Soon the two were vying for control. Despite that, neither ever entered into open conflict. Skirmishes between civilians occurred frequently but never between militaries, even though that threat always loomed. The river was used as a border to separate them and forts, castles, gates, walls were all built along that river. When both sides realised that they were never going to actually try to kill each other, and the trade between them was far more lucrative than owning the other's share, both bodies turned their weapons of war away from each other.

    The room colloquially called 'The Gazer' is a dome that constantly faces the planet. Once it would have been used by military personnel to watch the world but now it's mostly used by tourists. Tourists from all factions, including the Jovian Republic.

    Ameryl stands there, looking down. Even at this distance, the light patterns of mega-cities can be seen glowing in the darkness of night. The sun of the system is joined by a second glowing stellar body - the burning planet Trogdor. Trogdor was once a gas giant but a massive surge of aether, that had emanated from the Myst Sector, swept through the system and fused with the world's gaseous atmosphere. It then dissipated into the void of space and left behind the inferno core of the planet that still burns today. Ameryl sees it rise up above the horizon of Tress, glowing hot red.

    Tress also has twenty moons. To Ameryl that's far, far too many and at least nineteen of them ought to be blown up. No planet needs more than one moon. More than one is just showing off. Twenty of them is just gaudy.

    One of the moons slowly sails by the Gazer. It's nothing more than a very large asteroid captured by the planet's gravity and its gnarled appearance seems to have taken on the visage of Donald Trump, complete with the presence of amber sand coating one half of the moon to give it a golden head.

    Gadreel: "Enjoying the view?"

    Ameryl: "I am."

    Gadreel: "If you spend much more time watching, you'll steal my job."

    He descends the steps towards her. The Gazer is currently closed to the public since it's in use for a very important meeting. In actuality, Gadreel had it closed so he could show it off to his guests. The others are all seated on the upper platform where they're being served expensive alcohols brewed on Tress. The space fortress itself is one of the largest and most monstrous constructs of the Milky Way Galaxy, far exceeding the requirements of war for most of the natives of this area of the Multiverse, and yet its has now been reduced to a motel.

    Ameryl: "I'm just interested in what I see. They could have gone to war but they didn't. When I was with Highemperor it seemed that conquest and victory was the route to victory for empires like this. Sure they have plenty of peace within the High Empire but when it comes to foreign lands they'd rather own it than work with it."

    Gadreel shrugs.

    Gadreel: "Whatever works I suppose. If that's how they deal with the Multiverse then who's to say it's wrong?"

    Ameryl: "Me."

    Gadreel smirks.

    Gadreel: "Your authority exceeds the Highemperor's does it?"

    Ameryl: "Why shouldn't it?"

    Gadreel: "Why should it?"

    Ameryl: "Well, he thinks his exceeds everyone else's so just annoying him makes me happy."

    She now smirks, mischievously, over her wine glass. Apparently this wine is a merlot, grown very close to the River Split giving it the name Red Split. Ameryl thinks the name sounds more like a woman's period than a pleasant merlot.

    Gadreel: "Is annoying Highemperor a good motivation in life?"

    Ameryl: "Not really. In all honesty I'd managed to forget him for years now. That part of my life was well behind me. Until now. This... Imperium. It reminds me of the High Empire but... different. So naturally he's come back into my mind again."

    Gadreel: "You must have loved him very much."

    Ameryl: "I still do."

    There's a long silence between them as she sips from her drink. She hadn't said those words in a long time either and saying them now actually feels like a relief. She has come to terms with her feelings and accepts them as they are. She will never stop loving him. But that doesn't stop her loving again nor does it make her obsessive. She imagines this is how a wife might feel after her husband dies. She will never forget that love and will never relinquish it. But she must move on.

    Ameryl: "How fares your research division?"

    Gadreel: "Your nunchakus contain anti-power. I have never heard of it before, but they tell me it is negative power. It's so... unpowerful that it negates power. The more powerful something is, the more effective it would actually be. It drains, absorbed, negates power. The only thing that it wouldn't negate is... well... something normal. Like when you hold it. Or if you flushed it down a toilet or something. Just... non-powerful things. Weird, weird stuff."

    Ameryl: "And it could be put into something else?"

    Gadreel: "Sure. It'll take a lot of research. A lot of trial and error, but the report said they could even amplify its effects."

    Ameryl: "That would be interesting."

    She thinks of her old friend Reimi Soulstar. He'd be chomping at the bit to come here and work on this thing. She makes a mental note to invite him.

    Gadreel: "Does that mean you've chosen to stay here?"

    Ameryl: "Maybe..."

    Gadreel: "Your intelligence on Highemperor would be very... welcome in the intelligence division."

    Ameryl: "I don't think I'd make a very good spy."

    Gadreel: "You underestimate yourself. I think you'd be very good. At least in the more... open assignments. Like my last one. You wouldn't really have to hide. The High Empire and others like it are very good at sniffing out spies so usually there's no point in hiding and they'd see no point in stopping you either. They just have to control the information you get and you have to get to the information they don't actually want you to get. It's quite an elaborate game we play. My High Imperial counterpart is actually down there on Tress right now..."

    He checks a datapad.

    Gadreel: "Apparently he's playing poker at a casino. I swear these High Imperials love their damned poker."

    Ameryl: "Why would he be playing poker? Shouldn't he be, you know, spying?"

    Gadreel: "He is! He could be playing poker with a military officer, gleaning information. He could be watching for cultural tensions, hot spots to exploit. He could be gathering information on the economy even. Who knows."

    Ameryl: "Or he could just be playing poker."

    Gadreel: "Well."

    "What's so special about your pendant, by the way? You had to blow your cover for it."

    Gadreel: "I know. I got careless. That's what happens when you get too comfortable in the role you're playing, you almost forget who your really are. I enjoyed playing the mysterious, aloof cad. I should never have put that pendant on. It's just a photograph of a family member inside. That's all."

    Ameryl: "Oh. I never thought of you as a family man."

    Gadreel: "I'm not. Not really."

    He seems sad all of a sudden and she decides to change the subject.

    Ameryl: "I think I would be better suited to politics. It's rather my forte."

    Ameryl joined The Imperium as a local minister on Tress before she was quickly promoted to ambassador and was sent from eastern Tress to western Tress to take over from the former ambassador. With her went Marianne de Myste, who likewise joined the political division of the Imperium planet. Unlike her sister, Suzanna de Myste missed her home and travelled back to Ampersand. Ameryl granted her the deeds to her old manor, as well as the wine brand, and Suzanna became incredibly rich and influential on Ampersand in no time.

    The two wives of Highemperor, Fantina Clémence Dujardin and Aurorielle returned to Urbis Imperia after their holiday on Tress. They were able to relate to Highemperor that Ameryl was alive and well, which was glad tidings to the former lover.

    However, before long, Marianne had shown a thirst for power and attention within the political sphere and she came into rivalry with Ameryl. Ameryl, however, had no intention of competing with Marianne. The younger human woman began a music career alongside her political career, aiming to gain her a public image and generate popularity. This popularity rocketed her into the planetary council after a landslide vote while Ameryl remained ambassador.

    Ameryl, however, was gaining traction in a different way. Her influence over the intelligence division and the research division was starting to strain the local system and her usefulness was becoming to great to be stuck as a lowly planetary ambassador. She then bypassed the planet Tress, much to the envy of Marianne, and became the governor for the local galaxy. The Milky Way.

    Having a non-official role within the research division eventually yielded results for her anti-power nunchakus. The weapons themselves had been dismantled and the anti-power placed within a whole new machine. She, and the scientists, devised a new system and started to construct the massive God-Killer; a machine as large as a small sun and capable of extinguishing a planet of gods. They just needed a source of power through which to channel the anti-power itself. A conduit.

    In order to accomplish this goal, Ameryl was promoted further still. She replaced the former Arm of Skrai and had a new vessel, The Lamb, commissioned. She went on the hunt.

    Using the anti-power itself, she was able to capture Kavilli. And thus went to test their new machine on the grand scale of Kavilli's homeworld.

    Continues in CatH Post 68 and Pan Post 53.

  16. #16
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Tartarus

    Shades of an Empire

    Continues from Tales Post 5.

    Ameryl clenches her eyes tight as The Lamb begins to spin violently through Tartarus. The inertial dampener around the bridge manages to stave off any sense of the motion, but the picture on the viewscreen is more than enough to induce nausea. Both for the spinning and the glimpses of hideous beasts lurking within the netherflames.

    Ameryl: "Shut off the viewscreen."

    Locrete Bastelle Andralain, the angel-turned-vampire, does as commanded and the image shuts off. She continues to monitor the spin and remarks that Kalor Varkesh is still clinging to the hull of The Lamb. Tracking the other ships as they tumble through Tartarus is almost impossible except for the brief blip on the monitors that indicated nothing - here there is no time. Everyone could be alive and dead in the same instant.

    Ameryl: "Why is this taking so long?"

    Ameryl leans on the railing of the podium where she stands. She realises she should have said 'why does it seem to be taking so long' since there's no time, but she isn't in the mood for correcting her semantics. Luckily Andralain never corrects Ameryl on anything.

    Andralain: "Because we entered with a large number of ships, the... beings of Tartarus are paying more attention. Their attention slows us down as they... look at us."

    Helmsman: "Creepy much?"

    One of the helmsmen, a Krypton from Saturn, mumbles under his breath. Everyone is on edge.

    Andralain: "I think we just lost one of our satellites, ma'am."

    Ameryl: "Why?"

    "It just veered off course. Suddenly."

    "You mean...?"

    "It was an unnatural trajectory, yes."

    The Omega Reich ship didn't veer off course. It was taken off course.

    A chill runs down Ameryl's spine. She hasn't felt this afraid in a long time. Knowing that she would return to the Nothing from whence she came has long allowed her to overcome fear of death and without the fear of death there is nothing else that needs to be feared. Except that which defies death. Taken and trapped in this Hellscape would be far from Nothing. It would definitely be something. And a terrible something at that.

    The demonic fiends of Tartarus are unfathomable. They have no true shape, only that which they choose to take or that which the perceiver fears that they'll take. Beyond time, beyond space, beyond emotional constraints, beyond logic and entirely without empathy. To be in the clutches of an abuser that exists for the sole purpose of abusing would be a fate far worse than death.

    Even her power over magic would be almost moot in such a place as this as aether is just as warped by Tartarus as time and space. If she were to try a spell, she might wind up casting a different spell. Or a hundred spells all at once. Or just blow herself up. A hundred times over.

    Ameryl: "Can't we get a lock on the ship being pulled away?"

    Andralain: "Negative. There's... no space. There's no distance between us and the other ships to tractor them in..."

    Ameryl: "What a dumb plane of existence this is."

    Helmsman: "Might not want to incite them, ma'am."

    Then there's an eerie ringing sensation in her ears. She fiddles with her lobe and notices that everyone else is doing it too. Then everyone's ears start to bleed. Ameryl clutches her skull.

    Ameryl: "Wh-what is this!?"

    The air itself tingles with static, as though a storm is brewing on the bridge and Ameryl tastes metal on her tongue. She senses a presence before she even turns to face him.

    Memnoch: "It's not everyday we get so many visitors here..."

    The air-splitting noise increases as he speaks. Andralain falls to her knees and plants her forehead on the floor, grasping at her head. She begs for it to end.

    Memnoch: "Usually I let ships slip through Tartarus unmolested, but how could I resist so many all at once? It's like lunch just arrived..."

    Ameryl's fist clenches and she raises it up. A bright gout of light ebbs from the ring on her finger, bringing a sudden calmness to her as it negates any and all ill effects that the demon overlord is exerting. Memnoch looks surprised and looks Ameryl up and down, as though only now paying an interest in the people he is hurting.

    Memnoch: "That's an interesting trick."

    Ameryl: "Release my crew."

    "It's no holy weapon. I'd be able to tell."

    Ameryl: "Did you hear me?"

    Memnoch: "Heard you. Then ignored you."

    He takes several steps towards her. He moves unnaturally, like all of his limbs are too long for his body. His face and body grow increasingly disturbing to gaze upon as he draws closer to her. His face, which had appeared as a normal man's, is now hideous and malformed. Ameryl remains steadfast even when Memnoch face looms over hers. Frankly, she had seen worse.

    Memnoch: "Why should I listen to you?"

    Ameryl: "Why shouldn't you?"

    Her response took him a little off-guard but he rallies easily.

    Memnoch: "Because you are a waste of my time."

    Ameryl: "Am I?"

    Memnoch pauses. He's intrigued by the cavalier attitude she possesses.

    Memnoch: "Your soul will be worth more to me than the time spent tolerating you."

    Ameryl: "Souls? That's all you want?"

    Memnoch: "It's all I crave..."

    His skin cracks and his eyes yellow as he stares down at her, his mouth slightly agape in a crooked smile. His pallid skin appears increasingly disease-ridden. Ameryl refuses to be shocked into making a mistake here. His psychological warfare won't work on her any more than the powers he attempted to use on her.

    Ameryl: "Release us. Souls are easy to come by."

    Memnoch: "Some souls are worth more than others. Some souls... taste better."

    His tongue slips from his mouth, long and snake-like, and slathers around his blue lips. Ameryl swallows with disgust but holds her ground.

    Ameryl: "If it's souls you want, souls I can provide."

    Memnoch: "Your soul would be worth quite a lot--"

    Ameryl: "I can provide that and more."

    Memnoch: "More? You would give me souls?"

    His head cranes in closer to Ameryl's until he is inches away from her. She refuses to look up at him and just stares forward. He snaps his jaw shut with a bony crunch.

    Ameryl: "What will you give me in return?"

    Memnoch: "I thought the price was to be your own soul!"

    Ameryl: "I said more."

    Memnoch: "How many more?"

    Ameryl: "Infinitely more."

    He suddenly exerts a tremendous power against her. His visage blurs out of clarity and she is bombarded by sheer power. She winces in fright but the anti-power stored within the ring shields her completely from the onslaught. She had long ago needed the anti-power to be put into a form that she, as a talented mage, could wield more naturally than the nunchakus. Even if she had learnt nunchuks from the best. The ring projected a field of absolute negative power. Someone might have been able to give her a good slap across the face, but no amount of tremendous might would ever be able to penetrate that null field.

    She waits.

    The rest of the crew have fallen to the floor unconscious. She hopes she'll be in time to save their lives. She just has to wait for Memnoch to see the futility of his performance.

    He eventually does.

    When the barrage stops, he is gone.

    Ameryl looks down at the captain's console and sees that the exit is estimated in several seconds.


    She looks around and sees that Memnoch has not returned for the bargain. She is surprised that he would let them go without acknowledging the possible pact.


    She checks the systems and finds that Kalor Varkesh is still gripping the hull of The Lamb. She wonders what the demons of Tartarus would make of such a creature. Perhaps they'd consider it to be one of their own.


    Time freezes.

    Ameryl: "Of course. At the last second."

    Memnoch: "What is this deal?"

    She turns to find him standing at one of the console banks. Now he appears completely humanoid again without all of the grotesque parlour tricks. He is wearing a suit of solid grey and his skin looks like he had a nice suntan. He's fiddling with a communications device he found on the console, idly inspecting it as a mild curiosity. This absolute change in demeanour shakes Ameryl even more than if he had maintained his earlier oppression.

    "Infinite souls. A planet full."

    Memnoch: "And how would you pull that off?"

    Ameryl: "I can do it."

    Memnoch: "I won't accept poor quality souls. No clones. No beasts. Sentient beings with good, long lives. Anything less is barely even a meal."

    Ameryl: "It will be so."

    Memnoch: "You are willing to feed me souls of sentient beings? I hope you understand one day, when you die, you will be joining me in Tartarus for your hateful crimes?"

    Ameryl: "We only go where we expect to go. I shall go into Nothingness."

    Memnoch rolls his eyes as though suddenly bored with the very notion she spouted.

    "What will you give me."

    Memnoch: "For an infinite number of souls en masse? You can name a steep, steep price for that. As long as you can provide. If you fail--"

    Ameryl: "I won't fail. I think... I think I know what we want."

    Memnoch: "We?"

    Ameryl: "The Imperium. I am The Imperium now. It is who I am. What benefits The Imperium is all I need."

    She considers a time long ago when the Sepulchral Phantom first relayed her destiny and how she had balked at the idea. Now she can see no other life. No other meaning to her existence. She doesn't need to bring glory to The Imperium. She doesn't need to bring power. She doesn't need to bring honour. She needs to bring something new.

    Ameryl: "We want our own Hell to rule over..."

    The Lamb has been floating in space for little over half an hour. The crew are now only starting to stir and Kalor Varkesh has remained motionlessly attached to the hull of Ameryl's ship. She has already checked and found the other ships to be fairly undamaged and, like The Lamb, simply floating there like derelicts.

    Andralain is the first on the bridge to come to her senses enough to speak. She pokes at the blood on her head and, without thinking, she sucks on her blood-soaked fingers.

    Andralain: "What happened?"

    Ameryl: "I am to become a harbinger of death and misery..."

  17. #17
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The War Room

    The Shades of an Empire
    The War Room

    Ameryl's magical orb glides towards Memnoch. The orb it little over the size of her head and within it Memnoch can see a great swirling, twinkling mass. He glances over the orb toward Ameryl who nods reassuringly;

    Ameryl: "Look deep."

    He does. His eyes are able to see unlike any normal mortal being, able to see things on unimaginable scales. Big or, in this case, small. First he can see that the swirl he can make out is made up of many smaller swirls. He looks closer. Deeper. Each swirling shape is made up of smaller pin-points of light as he sees tiny orbs within the larger orb that Ameryl had created to house this gift. Around those tiny orbs of light are other orbs. On some of those orbs there is life.

    "You have created a universe for me?"

    "A microscopic universe. Teeming with life."

    "A most impressive gift, I admit. But you said infinite."

    Ameryl: "It has a... kind of time-lock on it."

    Memnoch: "Explain."

    Ameryl: "Every ten-thousand years a great catastrophe will engulf the entire universe, wipe everything out. The time lock will then trigger and turn back time to the beginning of the universe. It will again play out, this time with a whole new lease of life. It's not just the same thing on repeat, only the beginning and the end will ever be the same..."

    Memnoch actually smiles and she gets the impression that he's genuinely impressed.

    "That is quite clever. I admire your ingenuity."

    Ameryl: "I have some of the best minds at my disposal. The microscopic universe was created by Reimi Soulstar. A genius inventor. I just... found a practical use for it."

    She gestures towards him.

    Memnoch: "I loathe to admit this, but I almost feel like I am getting the great deal from this bargain. An entire universe for the sake of one small realm?"

    Ameryl shakes her head.

    Ameryl: "I've given you an idle curiosity. A microscopic universe isn't going to serve us very well until we can figure out how to get resources or beings out of it and into our universe - more relatively sized. Plus, I buy your favour."

    Memnoch: "True..."

    He says slowly. He might be the prince of lies but he knows a good relationship to foster when it crosses his path. He holds up a hand, which appears tipped with claws instead of human nails, and moves the tiny universe into his possession. Trillions and trillions of souls for his possession.

    Ameryl: "Time is, of course, relative. There every cycle of the universe will seem to take as long as any normal universe. But to us it will last just one Earth day. I don't know why but I've been told we should use Earth's days as standard definitions for the length of time. Seems arbitrary to me but there you go. Do you know the planet?"

    Memnoch: "I do. Every day I shall consume trillions upon trillions of souls from this universe."

    Ameryl: "I assume that soul sizes aren't a thing?"

    Memnoch: "No. The size of a being doesn't dictate the size of the soul. Souls are given weight by the measure of the being's life. The greater the life, the... tastier the soul."

    Ameryl does grimace at that.

    She has already battled with guilt over this, but she decides that the lives of people so small that a microscope couldn't hope to see them shouldn't be worried about. Even the cells in her body are larger than planets and stars of that universe. Every day she kills bacteria and germs just by existing.

    Of course she wouldn't tell Reimi what she did with his universe. The guilt is easier to stamp out without Reimi railing on her. Besides she and Memnoch could well be living in their own microscopic universe and never even know it.

    She glances up, as though she might see the edge of the universe and a big beady eye looking at her.

    She doesn't. Of course.

    Besides, out of sight, out of mind.

    But even as Memnoch leaves with his trophy, she feels like some last vestige of her humanity goes with him. Years ago she would never have been able to do such a thing, sacrifice so many lives (tiny, insignificant lives or otherwise) but now she has something greater than herself. Greater than her empathy, greater than her moral codes, greater than Nothing. She has *something*. She is the guardian of The Imperium and she must do whatever it takes to enhance and improve The Imperium. For the greater good of the people that relied upon her.

    She turns to Adralain, who stands ready. The angel-turned-vampire looks especially pale, likely because she's had to stand around waiting for Ameryl to finish her meeting with Memnoch and has had no time to eat. Consume is probably a more accurate word.

    Adralain marches ahead of Ameryl as they walk their path towards the war room of space fortress Remnant Fortress - so named because it's a fortress that exists within the remnant of a supernova. Ameryl could award 'obviously named' certificates to the designers but the best name she could come up with was 'Super Secret Ninja Base' which would end up being embarrassing. Aside from the fact it's not all that secret and there are no ninjas onboard.

    She makes a mental note to add ninjas to the station roster.

    The Tycho Nebula of the Milky Way Galaxy isn't worth much to most civilisations, but to The Imperium it is a great source of energy. Deep within the outer shell of the remnant, its gaseous remains floating outwards in a yellow and green haze, is the Crab Pulsar that has created the pulsar wind nebula. The Remnant Fortress sits there, behind the outer shell of gas, and inside the pulsar wind nebula where the magnetic fields with strengths over a hundred million teslas blast pure plasma straight into the fortress' energy-absorbing shield. The force of plasma particles slapping against the immovable shield generates immense amounts of power that is then flooded along the shield and into a waiting portal. On the other side of that portal is The Energyplex - a construct the size of Jupiter that acts as a colossal capacitor. From there portals lead all over the Milky Way Galaxy to planets or stations to provide power. So long as the Crab Pulsar spins, energy is sent. Many commcercial ships have even taken to using rechargeable engines (as having their own warp cores often resulted in mishaps) and they can recharge at any Imperium base that utilises this power mode.

    While the portals could send power to other galaxies, universes or realities, it was decided it would be safer to keep the flow of power contained within the same galaxy. A sudden explosion or surge from one place could end up slipping back through the portal and into the wind nebula. Though the portals are designed to be 'one-way' portals, this only works in theory by pushing the energy through and trying to shield energy from coming the other way. Unfortunately it's impossible to completely shut out any and all energy from one side so long as energy is going through from the other. A problem with a single portal within the galaxy would be easier to manage than problems from other galaxies. 'They can get their own damn power,' was the response Reimi Soulstar gave when asked to share the wealth.

    As an added bonus the wind nebula made the Remnant Fortress highly defensible. The power of the plasma itself, forced along by the magnetic fields, would destroy matter in an instant. Most of their galactic neighbours were using energy weapons that would never be able to produce the power of a hundred million teslas, which the absorption shield laps up. Defence and energy makes Remnant Fortress a prized possession.

    It also doubles up as the location for many clandestine meetings with the intelligence division. An intelligence division that needs more ninjas onboard. The pulsar winds block most forms of observation from outside the Tycho Remnant. They'd be able to see a black dot against any imaging scans of the nebula but never anything beyond that as the pulsar winds distort all energy waves. This means nobody can listen in unless they're physically present.

    Andralain passes through the biometric scanning parlour and into the intelligence wing of the fortress. The moment that the two women enter they are received by an overly cheerful welcome.

    Gadreel: "Ameryl!!"

    Ameryl marches past Gadreel, who stands there with his arms spread wide for a hug.

    Ameryl: "Go talk to your daughter."

    Gadreel slips into step with the Left Arm of The Imperium.

    Gadreel: "I will."

    "You said you will the last time I saw you."

    Gadreel: "I'm working up to it. But you didn't come here to talk about me, surely?"

    Ameryl: "If I came to talk to you, I'd stop and talk to you."

    Gadreel keeps after her.

    Gadreel: "Fair point. You never come to visit me anymore."

    Ameryl: "I'll visit you when you talk to your daughter."

    Gadreel: "She doesn't want to see me."

    Ameryl: "She wants to see you."

    "It's too dangerous for her to see me."

    Ameryl: "She wants to see you."

    Gadreel: "She's too busy to see me. She has a new job."

    Ameryl: "She wants to see you."

    Adralain opens a door which Ameryl steps through. Gadreel stops short of the open-door, knowing that the invisible barrier would stop him in his tracks. He waves after Ameryl.

    Gadreel: "Good talk!"

    "Go and see your daughter!"

    She shouts back.

    They are now in the War Room.

    Ever since it was named that she has been trying to provoke people into fighting each other inside the room, just so that she could make the comment 'you can't fight in the war room' gag. Unfortunately everyone in here is far too serious for that.

    Maybe if there were ninjas in here...

    Today though, there's only Reimi Soulstar to contend with. She is actually surprised he hasn't tried to fight anyone yet, should they ever insult some famous scientist he admires or dismiss the importance of some random discovery that only he cares about.

    The furry-faced inventor is standing in the middle of a holographic projection. It is a simulation of the hell that has been allocated to The Imperium for use. He looks up from the projection and puts his hands on his hips.

    Reimi: "And what are we supposed to do with this place?"

    Ameryl: "What do you mean? Why are you so angry?"

    "Well, what is the point of it? Nobody's soul is actually going to go here, is it? It's not like we have an Imperium religion."

    "There are a few things we can do with the place, Reimi. I'm a little disappointed your big brain hasn't seen the potential."

    Reimi: "Well there is the netherflame. I got the opportunity to get a good look at the mechanics for that Kalor Varkesh ship while I was over there helping them repair after you all came out of Tartarus. All the netherflame damage and the crystal tech onboard gave me some ideas for how we could try to replicate the use of netherflame ourselves. Maybe a portal or something could blast netherflame out of it... could be fun."

    Andralain: "Fun?"

    Andralain catches her comment and glances at Ameryl, hoping not to be chastised for admonishing Reimi's attitude. Ameryl doesn't, however, say anything. She knows her friend's mind isn't so tethered to reality as everyone else's.

    Reimi: "It could provide energy, of course. Or I could try to create a sort of Bagon-Noz Drive of my own, that uses this Hell - whatever we're calling it - to travel through. This Hell does have a manipulative energy matrix, so maybe constructs could actually be built there and projected into the real world. Maybe I could make a pen that actually writes in blood! That would be--"

    Ameryl: "I was thinking of building a prison."

    Reimi: "I... think we could do that."

    Andralain: "Do we need one?"

    Ameryl: "I think so. You recall I had to rely on the Pan-Cosmic Command a long time ago to imprison Vedas Khaan? There have been rumours that a new Imperium-style empire is forming under a self-styled khaan--"

    Andralain: "Like we have a skrai?"

    Ameryl: "Exactly. What if this new khaan is as powerful as the original Vedas Khaan? Vedas himself might even be helping them from... wherever he and his band of God-Monarchs are. This hell is Dudael, so Gadreel told me. He said it was a prison once, I think it could be again."

    Andralain: "And its first prisoner would be this khaan? Or would it be Indigo Shade?"

    Ameryl: "Exactly my point. I would make it Indigo Shade if I can... but that's going to depend on the High Empire, isn't it? Highemperor would rather let her destroy a galaxy filled with life than let us imprison her in our hell."

    Andralain: "Shouldn't the High Empire be the ones to imprison her anyway?"

    Ameryl: "He did. She got out. Now she has committed crimes against us and a universe full of factions. We'll have allies in hunting her down this time. Whatever happens after that, we need to have a plan in place."

    Reimi: "I don't think I can create a prison like The Cube. That kind of technology is beyond me."

    Ameryl: "Words I never thought I'd hear you say."

    Reimi: "But I don't know. Maybe I could... create something inspired by it. It's the principle, not the technology specifically, that I need to apply. The same effect but with different methods..."

    Ameryl: "I also want the netherflame gun you mentioned!"

    Reimi: "Done!"

    Ameryl: "Flame on!"

    Ameryl sides sideways at Andralain.

    Ameryl: "Don't cringe at me."

    One hour later and The War Room has changed.

    The holoprojection is gone and the room adapted itself to suit the new requirements of the next meeting. The holoprojector melted and remoulded itself into the centre of the room so that the image could be viewed from the newly moulded chairs that circle the projector. A circular table has created itself in front of the chairs and the surface of the table has various displays of digital information that might be wanted for the meeting. Ameryl sits down and orders a glass of rosé wine, which materialises in her hand from the Drow-tech replicators. For now the lights in the room are bright as the requested persons are still entering the room.

    Astrid Kal'Vassemp (her name is a mix of her mother's family name of Kal'Vass and the affix from Highemperor's usual 'Emp') enters and walks across the room, her hips swaying rhythmically, and seats herself beside Ameryl. She looks fine now but after the escape from the Brontax Galaxy she had been injured as Kalor Varkesh had had to clung to the hull of The Lamb when hurtling through Tartarus. Memnoch had not focused his attentions solely on The Lamb bridge but the whole group of sentients aboard both The Imperium ships and the High Imperials. No fatalities but a lot of injurious casualties. The High Empire undoubtedly has proficient healing technology though Astrid could well be relying on magical healing instead. Someone once told Ameryl that magical healing is not true healing as it only makes reality believe that you are healed. If reality were to suddenly realise that you had been lying to it all this time, then you're in for a world of hurt. To Ameryl there seems to be a strange kind of logic to that. And reality does have a tendency to catch up to you when you least expect it.

    Astrid: "Kleo won't be coming to the meeting, I hope you won't mind?"

    Ameryl knows that the query is only a formality for her sake. Astrid would usually just tell people what is what but when it comes to Ameryl she has a penchant for trying to appease.

    Ameryl: "Was she hurt?"

    Astrid: "Not physically."

    Ameryl nods gravely. She can well imagine the distress the mere sight of Memnoch might have caused in the soft-centred psyche of Kleo. Ameryl's heart wants to melt in sympathy for her fellow Hypericumite. She'll send flowers with a bottle of cranberry juice.

    Gadreel: "Ameryl, I have something to tell you."

    Ameryl doesn't look at him. While Astrid is seated on her left, Gadreel is to the right. He waits and when he realises she's refusing to speak to him he says;

    "I promise I'll send her a message right after this meeting."

    "Just a message?"

    Gadreel: "A voice message."

    Ameryl: "Baby steps will do, I suppose."

    She turns and looks straight into his eyes.

    Ameryl: "Dudael was your prison wasn't it?"

    He is taken aback but settles quite quickly and assumes a sudden blank face that masks any and all emotion. When he really wants to, Gadreel is able to switch off his emotional centre completely and enter an eerie deadlock mode where his brain almost shuts down save for the basic needs. This is an excellent advantage should he ever fall under interrogation from those he's meant to be spying on.

    Ameryl: "Don't think you can play this game with me, Gadreel. You work for me, I want answers."

    He stares blankly.

    If he was merely being stubborn she could use magic to pry open his mind. But in this state his consciousness is not only under lock and key but almost entirely absent. It would take a truly great telepath to even begin searching for the mind's hiding spot.

    She prods him in the temple.

    He wobbles.

    Ameryl: "I'm going to draw on your face."


    Ameryl: "And it will be a dick pointing towards your mouth. I'm going to write 'I like to suck this' on your cheek and--"

    Gadreel: "You are really mean, you know that?"

    Astrid, on the other side, snorts with laughter.

    Ameryl: "Dudael. Why were you imprisoned there?"

    Astrid leans over the table and watches Gadreel. From behind him Ameryl sees someone else craning to hear them. Seeing as he's now in the spotlight of attention, Ameryl decides it's not fair for him to reveal his secrets to everyone in the room. Ameryl raises her hand, the flat back of it facing Gadreel, and then lowers it while muttering the incantation;

    Ameryl: "Quies."

    The room around them becomes dim and greyed out, the voices dulled. They are now sitting in a magical pocket universe. While not an actual pocket universe, bound by the rules of science and existence, this magical universe is a small fragment that allows them to exist just beyond the bounds of reality. To everyone else in the room the two of them will appear to be the ones greyed out and blurry, hiding their speech and actions. Ameryl watches as Astrid tries to touch her and her hand passes through her form.

    Ameryl: "You can talk here."

    Gadreel: "You didn't need to do all of this really. I just don't like to remember those times."

    Ameryl: "No need for everyone to know everything about you. But I should know."

    Gadreel: "I suppose you should. I have already told you I am one of the Watchers, a grigori. That is why I was imprisoned there."

    Ameryl: "Imprisoned because of what you are?"

    "That... and there might have been a rebellion against the WriterGod that I was mixed up in somewhere..."

    He shrugs with mild surprise. Ameryl rolls her eyes.

    Ameryl: "Great. So I have a traitor working for me."

    Gadreel: "I wouldn't betray The Imperium."

    Ameryl: "Why?"

    Gadreel: "I'm here of my own choice."

    The implication that he was being forced into servitude before slits through to Ameryl and she understands his reasoning. Ameryl has long made clear her disdain for slavery and servitude. Obedience to command should never be blind. Only through question can command be responsible.

    Ameryl: "So for getting yourself into this rebellion you, and the other Watchers that rebelled, were imprisoned in Dudael?"

    Gadreel: "That's the short story, yes."

    Ameryl: "Weren't you an angel?"

    Gadreel: "Yes. Watchers are a kind of angel under the WriterGod. We watched the young species of the Multiverse grow. We watched their gods flare into existence. We watched as they took to the stars. We saw how they were free and we became jealous."

    Ameryl: "Seems fair."

    Gadreel: "Not to WriterGod. We were designed with a single purpose. We were not designed to be free. Perhaps he thought of us as broken pieces? A virus in his machine. We stopped doing as we were told. He attempted to reinforce his control over us but he did not cast his ire upon us until after the birth of humanity."

    Ameryl: "Humans? Of Earth?"

    Gadreel: "They were his chosen people. He lavished them with fate that exceeded all others."

    Ameryl: "And you hated them for this?"

    Gadreel: "No! I loved them! Humans were like shiny, sparkly things! I wanted to join them! Play with them! And so I did."

    Ameryl: "Wait. I think I know what comes next. The girl you refuse to talk to..."

    Gadreel: "Half-human, half-grigori."

    Ameryl: "And this was against the rules?"

    "Yes. Angels were not meant to befoul themselves, as it was put. We were not angels of Earth, who were permitted to such lows, we were angels of the cosmos. We were expected to be better than that. We were expected to be perfect beings of example. But in that we would have to be unthinking slaves. I couldn't do it. Maybe I am just a failure. Maybe I am just a broken thing. But I fell in love with humanity. I fell in love with a woman."

    Ameryl: "How romantic!"

    Gadreel: "Thank you. Though I think she wooed me. WriterGod didn't punish us directly though. Those of us who had offspring... he punished them."

    Ameryl: "That seems cold..."

    Gadreel: "I don't want to see my daughter because it's dangerous. I told you this but I never told you why."

    Ameryl: "I thought you were trying to make up excuses for your cowardice."

    Gadreel: "I can control her."

    Ameryl: "Okay..."

    Gadreel: "With a stray thought I can command her to do whatever comes to mind. If I think of eating, she'll eat, if I thinking of sleeping, she'll sleep. But not just me, any fallen angel or grigori will have this affect upon her. When you let her join The Imperium I-- it was a great service. Here I think she will be safe."

    Ameryl: "This does make her a liability though..."

    There's a moment of silence between them as Gadreel regrets ever telling Ameryl this dark truth and Ameryl has to realise the implications that one of her agents could end up under the spell of an outside force. She wants to be nice, but she has to be the protector of many - not just the protector of the one.

    Gadreel: "All nephilim born by grigori are cursed as such?"

    Ameryl: "What about children born by other angels, like the Earth angels?"

    Gadreel: "Not my business, I never asked. When we realised that our sins were to be born by our children we became... enraged. We couldn't find the justice in this and so... we rebelled. Ours was the first rebellion against the tyrannical WriterGod but there were many more to come. We sowed the seeds of discontent as others came to realise that they were being forced to serve. Helebon, a ruler of Earth's Hell, fought for his family. High Imp, another fallen angel, would later battle for his freedom. Our rebellion was defeated, but our war raged on ever after. We showed that the WriterGod was not infallible."

    Ameryl: "And we come back to Dudael. I want you to speak with Reimi about outfitting this hell's prison for use once again."

    "I don't think I can. I wouldn't want to see people subjected to the kind of hell I had had to experience."

    Ameryl: "I don't need torture, I just need imprisonment. It is for the safety of all."

    Gadreel: "Indigo Shade, you mean..."

    Ameryl: "For one."

    Gadreel: "I'll do it."

    Ameryl: "And your daughter..."


    Ameryl: "Go talk to her."

    Gadreel: "But--"

    The world suddenly resumes its normal state. The sound of voices blasts in their ears, sounding incredibly loud after such a long period of muteness. Gadreel glances round and then nods at Ameryl.

    Gadreel: "Thank you."

    Ameryl: "She will be safe with us, Gadreel."

    Astrid: "Will I be safe with you, Ameryl dear?"

    Ameryl looks at her coyly.

    Ameryl: "Unlikely."

    "How you tease me!"

    She smiles cutely yet wickedly.

    Ameryl then speaks aloud and her voice projects across the room for all to hear.

    Ameryl: "Welcome to this meeting. We have High Imperial officers as our guests, they are to be treated accordingly. I hope the topic of discussion doesn't upset them..."

    She glances at Astrid who frowns. She obviously thought they'd be discussing Indigo Shade today.

    Ameryl: "During our escape from the Brontax Galaxy a new problem has arisen. This threatens the entire Multiverse. The return of Mega Jonestown Prime, the God-Monarchs and... my sister."

    Some time later Ameryl is in command of the God-Killer, the great machine designed to negate all great powers of the Multiverse through its mere existence. No one, not even Highemperor, is immune. She wonders if, on this day, she may see the end of her former love? Would she mete out vengeance upon Imeryn? In her absence, the quest for Indigo Shade would continue and while Astrid wanted to join Ameryl she knew her father wouldn't want her there. Instead she would continue to help The Imperium hunt down her wayward sister.

    The council decided that they couldn't support Ameryl directly in her attack against the God-Monarchs, knowing that she may well come into direct conflict with the High Empire too. This would break the accords resulting in a sudden collapse of reality - it was named the Only War for a reason. Instead Ameryl renounces her role as Left Arm of The Imperium and takes a contingent of ships, captained by people willing to also forgo their commissions within The Imperium to follow her. They know this is just for show. Once this is over they will be re-enrolled, no questions asked.

    Provided they live to return.

    Continued in Pan Post 121.

  18. #18
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow The Story of Ameryl - The Prequel Part I

    The Story of Ameryl
    The Prequel Part I

    Many years ago Ameryl's career as a politician of The Imperium was looking promising. Her connection to the science divisions gave her a weight of power that most politicians of her rank didn't have. She was able to dominate discussions and debates and those that didn't fall in line she could always resort to guile. The temptation to use her allies within the intelligence divisions would eventually prove to great for her to resist. Gadreel, Watcher of all that happened, could dig up dirt on anyone in the Multiverse if he cast his eyes to the task. A good nudge with information got her everything. The first time she accepted a document from Gadreel she felt dirty. But it became easier and easier.

    But her meteoric rise drew attention from other quarters of The Imperium hierarchy.

    She found herself being summoned by none other than the Right Arm of The Imperium. They were to meet on a planet Ameryl hadn't thought of of in a long, long time.


    When her ship enter orbit she looks down on the planet to find it still burning, all this time later. The world, infected by the Darke Spawn, had been entirely burnt to molten rubble by its own keeper - The Imperium itself. As though no time had passed - which she realised was entirely possible with the nature of The Imperium so double-checked - hovering in orbit was the massive space-whale-turned-spaceship that belonged to Space Orca.

    From her own transport ship, Ameryl rises out of her seat. She peers down the narrow corridor towards the cockpit where the two military suited pilots are navigating towards the other craft.

    Ameryl: "Don't worry, I'll see myself out."

    She whisks herself across space using magic. She whips through the hull of the old vessel and reappears in the conference hall. Nobody is here yet, not expecting her arrival so abruptly. The table in the centre of the room is made of the same bone material as the walls of the ship but the chairs have an unusually soft, yellow leather on them. Ameryl recalls the Pokémon that Space Orca likes to hunt so much as she sits down on one of the chairs and feels the smooth leather against her fingers.

    Before she could even order herself a glass of wine from the replicator a man stomps into the room.

    Space Orca: "You can't just go magicking your way onboard like that! I might have had the security locks zap your incorporeal form when you touched the shield, you know!?"

    Ameryl: "I knew you wouldn't..."

    Space Orca: "Oh right, sure. Because I'm known for my lapse of security measures!"

    He glares at her.

    Ameryl: "Let me try again. I knew you couldn't. This ship doesn't have that technology. I did my research before I arrived."

    Space Orca folds his arms across his chest. His cloak hangs loose down his back and he cuts an imposing figure, despite his silly name. She never wanted to ask why he was called such a thing though she has always wondered if he commissioned the ship with the irony in mind.

    Space Orca: "They said you'd become some kind of political hotshot since I saw you last. I guess this is how you do it? Snooping?"

    He walks over to the table and throws himself into a seat where he requests a drink called a Bounsweet cocktail. What appears is a thin-stemmed glass with a wide cup filled with a purple liquid. A couple of decorative leaves hang over the edge of the glass, probably from whatever plant the drink is made of.

    Ameryl: "Yes. A bit. Preparation is everything. Plus it's easy for me to retain knowledge."

    Space Orca leans forward in his chair.

    Space Orca: "Why? You one of them photographic memory types?"

    Ameryl: "Hardly. It's much simpler than that. I'm very good with magic."

    He frowns with no comprehension.

    Ameryl: "I can create knowledge as magic. Manipulate all of the knowledge I learn so that it transforms into aether. Well, I kind of aether anyway. We call it esoteria. In that form I can then access it whenever necessary. Then wipe it from my memory again when I don't need the information. I'm afraid even the brain of a Hypericum can't hold an infinite amount of wisdom. On average we're smarter than most humans but not that smart."

    She smiles and thinks she's being humble.

    Space Orca: "Okay... thanks for the life lesson, Teach."

    He rolls his eyes and leans back in his chair again, perhaps disgruntled that the mystery of Ameryl turned out to be a trick and not some impressive feat. Yet he doesn't realise that creating esoteria is not a magical trick that can be performed by any laymen magic practitioner. It takes great skill to transform concepts into substance. Alchemy, like turning lead into gold, would be a much easier task than forcing an idea to become physical matter.

    Seeing Space Orca's drink she asks for him to order her one too. When she sups the Bounsweet cocktail she finds it is, as its name suggests, incredibly sweet. She blinks from the unexpected sugar rush.

    Space Orca: "I'm surprised she's so late..."

    Ameryl: "She's not. I'm early, remember?"

    Space Orca:
    "Yes, you're early, but she's late. She must know you've arrived early and yet..."

    Ameryl: "I don't think someone should have to drop everything just because I show up early."

    Space Orca: "I think this meeting is meant to be important."

    Ameryl perks as she sees an opportunity to get some information in advance. Getting knowledge about Space Orca had been easy. He is a well-known commander of Imperium forces in all areas - cosmic, naval, land, air - being something of a jack-of-all-trades in military affairs. His ship, she knows, is on its way to be decommissioned though. The whale is simply not capable of being upgraded without compromising its very structure. The notion of breaking down such a magnificent and long-serving vessel seems somehow sad to Ameryl now.

    "Please tell me about her. I couldn't find out any real information on the Right Arm of the The Imperium. In fact I couldn't even find anything about the Left Arm either! Records of the Left ended ages ago, apparently."

    Space Orca: "Doesn't surprise me. The last Left Arm died along with the original founder of The Imperium. I don't know what happened, I wasn't there. The Left Arm was always more... open. The one that most people knew. The Right Arm is more... mysterious. It allows the two of them to work in different areas. While everyone is watching the Left Arm, nobody sees what the Right Arm is up to."

    "I see. Simple but clever. But you know who she is, right?"

    Space Orca: "Sure, I suppose. I know her name and what she looks like at least. I know she comes from the Hydriaverse."

    Ameryl: "Hydriaverse?"

    She checks her memory for any such references. She delves into the esoteria she keeps locked in a broach around her chest, searching the aether like a computer looking for a key word. She finds some garbled information stating that there was a massive battle between The Imperium and the native empire of the Hydriaverse for control of the entire universe. Ultimately, it seems, The Imperium won.

    Space Orca: "That's right. She was recruited after the war. She was actually the leader of the defeated empire."

    Ameryl: "And we hired her!?"

    Space Orca shrugs.

    Space Orca:
    "Sure. We do it all the time. An enemy proves they have worth, it would be a shame to lose that talent. I just joined The Imperium on a whim, but lots of people were recruited after opposing us. Even the current skrai, Vedas Khaan, was recruited this way. He had a planet thinking him to be their god and when we showed up they all died for his sake. His ability to inspire is probably why so many voted him in as the skrai last year. It's really just a popularity contest."

    Ameryl: "I haven't met him yet but I've heard rumours that he's not such a nice guy in person..."

    Space Orca:
    "Well he certainly looks like a nasty customer but you can't judge a book by its cover, right?"

    Ameryl: "I guess the Right Arm must have put on quite a show for her to become one of the rulers of The Imperium?"

    Space Orca: "Her military record is... definitely impressive, yeah. She's, uh, not like you though..."

    Ameryl: "What do you mean by that? Should I be offended?"

    Space Orca: "No! Kind of the opposite. You're more... nice."

    Ameryl feels a pang of guilt. She doesn't feel so nice, not these days. Spying on people and sentencing laws on people have left dark holes in her soul. A man that steals to feed his family is guilty of stealing and yet his family might have died had he not done it. She is then responsible for punishing such a man for such a crime. She glowers at the table in a sudden sulk.

    Space Orca: "Let's just say that Vedas Khaan is probably someone she likes."

    Ameryl: "You mean she's... evil?"

    Space Orca: "I wouldn't say that. She wants to help the people of The Imperium. But she's kind of... I dunno. Just not nice."

    Ameryl: "Okay I gu-- wait, why even compare her to me anyway? I'm really not that nice!"

    Space Orca: "Oh! Well, uh... she's..."

    Woman: "Thank you for that charming introduction."

    Ameryl jumps out of her seat and spins around at the intruder. She's incredibly surprised. Ameryl always has a thin magical field around herself that detects any and all living presences, even if they're magically transporting themselves into her vicinity. She ought to have detected this woman long before she even entered the room.

    Ameryl: "H-How did you--"

    She then stops talking. Suddenly the method by which the woman got into the room seems incredibly unimportant. Ameryl's jaw drops. Imeryn?

    Ameryl: "No-- you're not Imeryn..."

    "No I'm not!"

    Ameryl: "But you look just like... us..."

    Woman: "My name is Ameryl and I intend to make you one of the most important figures in The Imperium."

    The alternate Ameryl smiles while our Ameryl balks.

  19. #19
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Turning of Tables

    Shades of an Empire
    Turning of Tables

    Ameryl stands upon the observation deck of the spacefortress, Great Eiyill, orbiting Tress. From here she can see the gigantic arms of the station where workers scrambled along with droids to construct one of the most potent machines ever conceived - the God-Killer. The concept is a simple one - negate any powers beyond that of a human. Magic, superpowers, meta-powers and, especially, godly powers. Ameryl herself would be consumed by the device if not inside it. The interior of the God-Killer would actually not exist physically but be kept in an alternate, pocket dimension. Safe from the affects of the anti-power.

    The machine would handily deal with the majority of the greatest threats to The Imperium. Gods, like the cosmic deities of the NeSiverse, would be as nothing when the machine is activated. The High Empire, in all its grandstanding and 'more powerful than thou' attitude, would be brought to its knees. The mighty mages of the galaxy would be rendered inert. If anything, the guy sitting on the couch watching television would be elevated to the greatest threat The Imperium could face!

    Kleo the Summermaid enters the room. She seems unhappy but Ameryl doesn't care to ask why. Before Ameryl can address the daughter of Highemperor Kleo is at the window with her face mushed up against the glass.

    Kleo: "Is-is that--!?"

    Ameryl: "It is."

    Kleo: "Another one!? How!? I thought you used the last of the anti-power in the last one!?"

    Ameryl: "We did. So I traced the source. Where did that god-killing weapon even come from? Some mysterious bloke in a hood just hands it over?"

    Kleo: "I suppose you had one of the Watchers find out for you?"

    Ameryl looks at Kleo, as though taking an interest in the girl for the first time.

    Ameryl: "You're more informed on The Imperium than I would have expected, Kleo. That makes me suspicious..."

    "Astrid likes to talk her ideas through with me..."

    "That I can believe. Your sister is a tricky one... she's actually the reason I asked you to come here."

    Kleo swells with pride and determination.

    Kleo: "I won't spy on her for you, Lady Ameryl! Even if you are the queen of my people. I can't do that. She's my sister."

    Ameryl smiles and turns away.

    Ameryl: "No need. Like you said, I have Watchers."

    Ameryl glances down at an indicator panel that starts to flash.

    Ameryl: "Looks like trouble is headed our way. I suppose it was impossible to keep the construction of a second God-Killer under wraps, wasn't it? After the first one, everyone must have been watching us for signs of a new one."

    She then looks up at Kleo.

    Ameryl: "Either that or they know how much danger you are in, little Summermaid."

    Kleo is instantly alert as Ameryl steps towards her. Kleo instinctively retreats, backing off.

    Kleo: "What do you mean? Why--?"

    Ameryl: "Your biggest mistake was to think that I am the Ameryl you know and love. I am not."

    She runs a hand through her loose pink hair before she flips it over her shoulder. She smiles sinisterly as she continues to advance on Kleo. Poor Kleo panics. Unlike most of her sisters, Kleo has no special powers to defend herself with.

    Ameryl raises a hand and there, on her finger, is a ring. Just like the anti-power ring that the Left Arm Ameryl once had. The ring she met her end with when she went to confront Highemperor. Ameryl of the Right had fashioned her own.

    Ameryl: "To get this I ventured to Earth, where the anti-power originated. Following the trail took me through the depths of the world's history; from Jim Seven, the world's devil, to Count Desmond to the knights of England, through China and all the way back to Atlantis. It was only then I realised I was searching in the wrong place. It was quite frustrating, you know?"

    Kleo winds up pinned against the wall and Ameryl puts her arms either side of the the slightly shorter girl, palms pressed against the cold wall. She grins and Kleo can see madness in Ameryl's eyes.

    Kleo: "Why are you... being so scary?"

    Ameryl: "Sorry. I suppose I'm rambling a bit. Your queen used to hate that about me. But still, I made her into the woman she became. Without me she would never have been the Left Arm. You know, I was always worried she didn't have the balls to do what needed to be done. In the end she turned out more capable than I'd ever have thought! Good for her. Shame she was still too attached to that lout, Highemperor. She should have taken what she needed from him and moved on. Like I did."

    Kleo: "You knew my father?"

    Ameryl: "Sure! Thanks to him I was able to overthrow my sister, Imeryn and then my parents. I had the three of them publicly executed after that. Then all of their supporters had to be executed. Rebellions stamped out. By the end of it all, The Imperium battered my forces everywhere. But wouldn't you know it, The Imperium knows talent when they see it! I took the chance. Joined them. And now I own it."

    She scratches her chin in mock thought.

    Ameryl: "But it seems you didn't know about Ameryl's death. I suppose you weren't told about your father either?"

    Kleo: "You..."

    Ameryl: "Dead and gone. The lot of them. Almost the entire High Empire is gone. What's left of them... is on the way here now."

    Kleo: "My fath-- they're coming to save me? You said I'm in danger? Why? Why would you want to hurt me? What did I ever do to you!?"

    Ameryl: "Well, if I killed you it's not like anyone in the High Empire could actually stop me anymore. Your father is nothing but a memory."

    Ameryl mocks a tear down her face with her finger.

    Ameryl: "Are you going to cry?"

    Kleo does.

    Ameryl: "Oh, such a lost little lamb. But the real question is this. Why didn't your sister tell you?"

    Kleo: "Wh-what?"

    Ameryl: "Either she wanted to spare you... or she didn't see any reason to. Because she knew you'd be dead soon."

    Ameryl raises her hand in a fist and the ring glows with its anti-power. Ameryl, protected by the veil of anti-power that exudes from the ring and surrounds her person, stares at it as though it was the most beautiful thing she has ever laid eyes on.

    Ameryl: "When I found out who the original creators of the antipower were I could have kicked myself. There's really only one group of people do dedicated to the eradication of powerful beings, isn't there? The Witch-Wardens of the Myste Sector. I mean honestly, how much of a dunce have we all been, eh?"

    Kleo then squeals in fright and starts to beg for her life. Ameryl stares down at her and rolls her eyes.

    Ameryl: "Oh, relax, you stupid girl. I'm not going to hurt you. You have no powers, this ring is useless on you."

    Kleo: "It--it is? You're not? But you said--"

    Ameryl: "You're in danger. Yes. Your sister had us all conned. Didn't you Astrid?"

    She turns suddenly and whips her hand out. The blast of anti-power swipes across the room into the shadows. Astrid, who had evidently been hiding in the corner of the room under an invisibility guise created by the lantern she carries, cries out in sudden shock and is then... silenced forever.

    Kleo screams in horror.

    "Aaaastrid!!! Nooooo!"

    Ameryl looks casually down at her fingers as the light of the ring dims.

    Ameryl: "You know, I think I just chipped a nail."

    Kleo runs over to the spot that her beloved sister had just been extinguished. Crying she falls to her knees.

    Ameryl: "You shouldn't be running over there, you know? If she somehow survived that she'd have killed you in an instant."

    Kleo turns her head to stare at Ameryl with a mixture of confusion and anger.

    "She was working with Indigo Shade this whole time. She was the Scarlet Shade."

    Kleo's face turns into a sneer.

    Kleo: "No! Never! My sister--"

    Gadreel: "I'm sorry, Kleo, but it's true."

    Gadreel, the Watcher, has just stepped into the room from the corridor beyond. He looks at Kleo with some sympathy before turning to Ameryl.

    Gadreel: "To make it worse she already relayed a message to the High Empire that we killed Kleo. I wasn't in time to stop it. And they know about the reconstruction of the God-Killer. They're inbound with absolute intention to destroy the weapon and this space fortress."

    Kleo: "She said that?"

    Ameryl: "I'd like to see them try. They've already lost. No Highemperor. No Stronghold of Powerplayers. No Multiversal empire to back them up."

    Gadreel: "Still, it means we're doing exactly what the Shades want us to do. Finish off the last vestiges of the High Empire. If it weren't for those... uh... wives of Highemperor seeking our protection, we may never have known what the Shades were up to. Don't we have a duty to resolve this without wiping them out?"

    Ameryl groans and pouts at him like a spoilt child.

    Ameryl: "You always have to ruin my fun, Gadreel. Still, you've definitely helped me over the years. Brought me the other Ameryl and got her into shape. Helped me track down the anti-power. And you always turn out to be right in the end. So I guess I'll go with your thoughts on this one. Problem is, it's not just the High Empire we have to deal with, is it?"

    Gadreel: "It isn't?"

    Ameryl: "You are not the only spy I have on my payroll, you know?"

    Outside the window ships are now bursting into real space. The High Imperial battlecruisers are the most obvious with their incredibly long physique. But with them are others. The sleek two-section ships of the drow, the wooden ships of the Jupiterian Republic, the Imperial wedges too and even saucer-shaped ships from the recently invading Greyarchy. Other ships Ameryl doesn't recognise by sight but it seems like most of the galaxy's gangs have showed up.

    Kleo: "How could... all of this be happening?"

    Kleo sits and sobs by herself.

    Ameryl: "I'm surprised more didn't show up to be honest. I know there's some battle going on at Earth thanks to some renegade Jupiterians. I guess the Alliance is off taking part in that but I would have thought the Imperials would be there too, taking advantage of the situation?"

    Gadreel swipes his hand and a holo-screen appears.

    Gadreel: "The Imperial ships aren't Imperial. They're from territory controlled by Warlord Sue'san Dienhand."

    Ameryl: "Sounds like someone is looking to draw attention to herself. I guess if the Empire crumbles in its battle at Earth now... there needs to be someone to fill that void, am I right?"

    Gadreel: "Seems so! She's calling her cadre the First Order."

    Kleo: "You--you have a message."

    Ameryl turns to see Kleo has appeared at her side and is pointing to the red light on the console panel that is blinking again. Ameryl cocks her head.

    Ameryl: "Thank you Kleo. Maybe you shoud go and join your... what do you call the many wives of your father?"

    Kleo: "Wives of my father."

    Ameryl: "Right then."

    Gadreel: "I'll take you."

    Ameryl flips the message on, not caring if Kleo and Gadreel are still in the room. The message is audio only.

    "By order of the G8 Summit The Imperium is ordered to cease construction of the doomsday weapon the God-Killer and submit the governor of the spacefortress Great Eiyill for the warcrime of murdering Princess Kleo."

    Ameryl snaps her finger, causing Kleo to jump.

    "Before you go, Kleo dear, please tell the fool talking to me that you are not dead nor in danger of being dead."

    Kleo patters back over to Ameryl while the Right Arm of The Imperium frowns at Gadreel.

    Ameryl: "What is he talking about?"

    Gadreel: "Sorry, yes. Turns out there was some vote on in that politics station place. I honestly didn't think they'd actually take any real action on it. I guess these political debates are more important than we'd given them credit for. Only Ambassador Jacquelle voted that we should be allowed to keep the God-Killer. The other seven voted against us."

    Ameryl puts her hands on her hips and shakes her head as though they were being interfering, nosy neighbours.

    Ameryl: "This is why we can't have nice things."

    Kleo doesn't like this Ameryl at all. She doesn't trust her either. Kleo looks at the woman for a pause before speaking to the console.

    Kleo: "I am alive and well, Navitatex Qemik. Thank you but we were all betrayed by my sister. She was the Scarlet Shade and in league with Indigo Shade. She's been... dealt with."

    There's a very long pause. It's probable that Kleo's voice is being sent through a computer system to analyse its authenticity. Finally Navitatex Qemik, as Kleo identified him, responds;

    Navitatex Qemik: "It's good that you are well, Princess, but these are darker days if what you say is true."

    Kleo: "It is true. And I only just learnt of my father. Navitatex Qemik. You must destroy this God-Killer immediately. The Imperium cann--"

    Ameryl slaps Kleo and then, using magic, flings the girl across the room. The communication is cut in an instant and Ameryl shrugs helplessly at Gadreel.

    Ameryl: "Well, what can I say? I tried to do it your way but they've decided to do this the hard way."

    She turns and opens the communication again as the opposing ships all start to move in on the spacefortress.

    Ameryl: "I'm sorry it has come to this. Now you shall witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational weapon!"

    She quickly snaps her hand up and uses her powers to activate the God-Killer herself. Within the machine the anti-power flares up and a beam streaks out and collides with one of the drow ships. The powerful battleship is taken down in an instant and she watches as the remaining fleet suddenly panics and enters evasive manoeuvrers.

  20. #20
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Kildare

    The Peacekeepers

    From the hilltop, the Clouded Canyon lurks below her. With an abundance of dust and small rocks in the area, the planet's weak gravity has allowed the constant presence of thick, low-hanging dust clouds that clog up the whole canyon like a rolling mist. Jutting up from the dust clouds are gigantic statues, like people rising from beneath a water's surface, built by one of Necrill's past civilisations. Some of the statues appear human, while others are another humanoid species with decidedly more eyes. They must have been built before the dust cloud developed and over the decades the dust has worn down most of the rock that was carved into these figures. There's a high concentration of flora here, especially the parity vine. The parity vine is a wall-crawling vine that will always have an equal number of its large, white leaves on either side of its stem - hence the name parity vine. Should a leaf on one side be lost from damage, the opposite leaf will eventually fall off too. The vines coat most of the canyon walls in a leafy, white jungle. A few larger rocks can be seen floating just shy of the cloud where they languidly sail along, bumping into the walls or statues as they drift to and fro.

    Iskendriel, perched on the plateau at the top of the canyon wall, looks along the canyon to the right where it runs on and on into the distance where she can't see. She looks to the left where the canyon leads to a a crater so large it could have held an entire country of Earth.

    Dusty: "The threads of fate suggest some immense event happened here..."

    He crouches down. It's weird to see because his legs are almost completely faded so he just looks like a floating torso hovering inches from the ground. On his blue, hazy skin are glowing sigils that look like tattoos and from them trails a soft mist of white that merges with the usual grey smoke that shrouds him. Covering his hair is a long, black headscarf that trails down his back after tying at the base of his neck. His hair is long and kept in dreadlocks that hang loose from the headscarf. Given the fuzzy appearance of his physical form, its is often difficult to tell where the hair and the scarf begin and end. His eyes glow bright like the sigils on his flesh and he has no pupil or iris to be seen, as though he is always seeing the threads of fate instead of the real world. On his torso he wears a thick, woollen garment that is vaguely similar to a heavy-laden cardigan and is coloured carmine red with strips of black accents. The choice of dark colours doesn't help make his appearance any clearer.

    Iskendriel: "What're you talking about? A lead?"

    Dusty shakes his head, wafting smoke and white mist around.

    Dusty: "I doubt it. It must have happened centuries ago. I think this canyon isn't a natural occurrence. It was made and it was made in anger..."

    Iskendriel shrugs.

    Iskendriel: "Don't need a history lesson here, Dusty. If it's not relevant to the mission then it's pointless. A herd of rampaging mega-rhinos made it? A cosmic blast from that darned sun? Or how about some insecure munchkin got pissed and whiny because someone refused to worship his pin-dick?"

    Nyneve barks a laugh at that.

    Iskendriel: "Whatever the story is, it happens everywhere, everyday and we don't need to waste time with it."

    Girda: "You're so crass, Iskendriel."

    Nyneve is still chuckling.

    Nyneve: "It's hilarious."

    Iskendriel: "I can do worse."

    "Please don't. We're not all Nyneve."

    Iskendriel: "Your god doesn't approve of tiny penises?"

    Girda: "Urgh..."

    Iskendriel: "Is he a penis-obsessed god, like that one from Earth that makes everyone get circumcised? I mean seriously, what's the deal with that? Can god only enter a man through his knob? Foreskin gets in the way or what?"

    Girda: "Stop talking to me, please."

    As Girda sulks and refuses to pay Iskendriel any attention, Nyneve is cackling wickedly. Girda keeps walking until she reaches the bridge that spans the chasm. Unlike the ancient statues the bridge is of a modern Imperium make. A suspension bridge where its four towers stand on either side of the canyon, fashioned from a material that looks like smooth, polished stone complimented with black marble accents. One of the two towers contains a guard and security systems, while the second tower acts as a storeroom filled with emergency food and weaponry should the need ever arise. The Imperium always expects a zombie invasion at any given moment.

    Iskendriel, Nyneve and Dusty head after Girda as she starts to cross the bridge. There is a cart available that would carry them along a track to the other side but she seems adamant on walking. Once on the other side they're on the outskirts of Kildare, an Imperium settlement designed around scientific research. Since the planet Necrill has a long and rich history there's plenty of research to be done here, not to mention the massive amount of aether in the atmosphere to harness. On the outskirts there are a lot of small workshops were smiths, warehouses and small-scale factories lie. One of the more important factories is the bottling plant to their right as the first building they pass by. The factory is connected via a suspended monorail, which transports large casks of aether that has been sucked out of the sky at an aether plant in the centre of the town. Once in the factory the casks pump out their aether contents into bottles. Bottled aether for sale across The Imperium, courtesy of the fayries. One of the equestrian-headed fayries can be seen sanguinely directing some of the workers hoisting casks off of an anti-gravity float.

    Further into the town are the apartment communities, each with their own garden complexes, and shops. This being one of the smaller towns on the planet, the building sizes are kept to a minimum. As most people travel either via monorails or by portals, there aren't a lot of vehicles on the streets. The streets themselves are designed without vehicles in mind; though they are wide they are without roads and are made of paving stones like one continuous plaza.

    Some shuttlecraft fly overhead every now and again, ferrying people to and from the upper atmosphere, however the skies are largely empty because this small town isn't an enormously popular destination. A few streets of walking, or at least chasing after Girda Heth, they find "The Concordance of Arcane Magicks" poking up out of the ground like an underground train station. A lonely flag drifts to one side and slowly upwards, carried by the low gravity, from a post attached to a black, ornate, metal fence that seems to be quite out of place in this ultra modernistic world. Within the perimeter of the fence are stairs leading down into the bowls of the planet.

    There's a sudden loud bang, startling not only the Peacekeepers but the passers-by too. After the initial shock those walking past shake their heads with irritation in the direction of The Concordance of Arcane Magicks and keep moving. Apparently this is a frustrating but common occurrence.

    The Peacekeepers stand at the top of the steps peering down at the black, ominous door. It appears to have been coated with leather and has tiny silver studs to pin the soft material in place. Upon the leather is drawn, in white paint, a small sigil, the meaning of which is lost on Iskendriel.

    Iskendriel: "Explosions usually mean a lot of death and screaming..."

    Girda: "I think I should wait out here..."

    Nyneve: "Chicken!"

    Girda: "I sense great... evil down there. I'm not afraid of it, I just can't... be around it."

    Iskendriel: "She's an angel, remember? She'll melt if she sees a pair of boobs or something."

    Girda: "I am not an angel. But I am a woman! I haven't melted yet! The most stupid--"

    Dusty: "We are wasting time. Dr Carroll might be in trouble."

    He sweeps past Iskendriel and she feels only the slightest touch as the trail of his headscarf brushes against her shoulder. It's as though he's only partially corporeal. Half-in and half-out of existence.

    He reaches the door but as he touches it with his hand he is, albeit gently, expelled backwards. He glances up at Iskendriel with a shrug.

    Girda: "Stand back, I can try to open it by force."

    Dusty steps back up to the street, but appears to be floating up the steps as the shadows conceal his already faint legs. Once he's out of the way Girda raises her palm towards the door. From her hand emits a circular ring of light in a pulse pattern, though it becomes invisible just an inch from her skin. Once the invisible waves hit the leather door, it begins to shake. The sigil on the doors turns from white, to red before it explodes outwards as a red, hot liquid that resembles blood but Iskendriel thinks it might be something far more foul than that.

    Once done, Girda lowers her hand and the door slowly creaks itself open. Iskendriel pauses then looks at Dusty.

    Iskendriel: "You wanted to go first, right?"

    Dusty gives her a dark look but passes by her once again all the same. He slowly heads down the steps and Iskendriel watches with trepidation. Dusty reaches for the ajar door.

    Man: "OI!!! YOU BROKE MY ****IN' DOOR, MAN!"

    Dusty flies back and pins himself against the wall, arms up like claws. Nyneve lets out a most unbecoming, and very uncharacteristic, squeal while Girda almost faints.

    Nyneve: "You stupid fat *******! You nearly gave us all a heart attack!!"

    The man Iskendriel recognises as Proctor Seamus Ealand, who owns the shop. He's an enormous man, standing over seven feet tall and over a metre wide. He barely fits in the door he's complaining about. He has a big, scraggly beard and a skull cap over his very short hair. His eyes are small in his fat-cheeked face but twinkle bright blue and his skin has a healthy-looking tan. With his thick, heavy-set hand he throws the door open the rest of the way and turns his back on them - an invitation to come in, albeit a begrudging one. The Peacekeepers grumble to each other as they file down the steps and into The Concordance of Arcane Magicks.

    They're instantly met by the front of the shop, which is a large room but the stacks and displays make everything feel much smaller as its cramped for space. Low hanging light fixtures are hidden inside a garish lampshade of red and the walls all bear wood panelling. Hanging on the walls are disparate mounted heads of nasty beasties from various worlds in the galaxy but there is also a single, exceptionally large, painting with a gold and ornate frame. The painting is of the proctor himself, standing with a straight-face and a his rotund belly sticking out with pride. As the real man himself moves through the shop he lays his hands upon every shelf and surface as he goes, stopping anything from toppling over, with well-practised dexterity.

    Iskendriel glances back to the shop door to see that Girda has stuck to her pledge to stay outside. Iskendriel knows the woman is no coward and assumes she really would melt if she came in here. She follows after Nyneve and Dusty as they traverse the shop's aisles. She ducks under a low hanging light and then almost headbutts another low hanging object, which appears to be a miniature stuffed pterodactyl. She stumbles into a shelf but grabs it to steady it before it falls over. If it had, she reckons the whole shop would be liable to collapse. The shelves are filled with oddities and books. Lots and lots of books. They're all stacked on top of each other, instead of being lined up side-by-side, and apparently have no discernable sorting system. The odds-and-ends are of strange ornaments, talismans, jewellery, stuffed animals and even a shrunken head or two, one of which she thinks looks suspiciously like her uncle Dale.

    They follow the big man, who Iskendriel is sure is human but somehow enlarged by magic, through a curtain of beads and into another large room. This time the room is even more cluttered. There is just one path through the treasure trove of wares and on either side of it are piles and piles of stuff. There's really no better word in Iskendriel's mind to describe it all beyond 'stuff'. She could make out a golden sword, a treasure chest, a stuffed brown bear (who is wearing an orichalcum crown, a cloak of invisibility and a monocle to boot), a magic mirror, a jewellery box filled with magic rings and, sitting on top of a barrel, is one of those plastic sunflowers that dances.

    Beyond the path lies the next room. Fortunately, this time, there's room enough to breathe. It's smaller than the other rooms but more spacious as its filled with less 'stuff'. It is a classroom, although not quite the kind that Iskendriel remembered. Or remembered skipping at least.

    There's a table and bench, which looks like it belongs in a park not a classroom, that must be a hundred years old by the looks of it. On the table is a stack of parchments that sit next to the fire hazard of a tray of burning wax candles. Near to the bench is a worn out blackboard which is stained with the ghost of old chalk markings. There's a few bookshelves in the room and they're just as disorganised as the front of the shop.

    Next to the bench is a pentagram on the cobblestone floor, sloppily done, and in its centre is Dr Lawrence Carroll and his wheelchair. His head is bowed as though sleeping, even with the candles burning hotly at each point of the star.

    Iskendriel looks at Dr Carroll with some concern before looking back to the proctor.

    Iskendriel: "Is he... okay?"

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "He's fine. Jus' havin' a wee talk to some fellas."

    Iskendriel: "Fellas? What fellas?"

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "Well, I suspect it's prolly Vapula. He was a duke of hell in these parts in ancient history. Now he's a displaced hasbeen still clingin' to auld dreams. Wanna brew?"

    The mountain man waggles an iron kettle at her. She looks confused at him, still trying to work out what he'd rambled at her, and he takes it as a yes. He throws the pot on the stove and lights it.

    Nyneve: "Duke of Hell? As in a demon?"

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "Aye, that'll be the short of it. Though I'm not sure a demon can be called a demon without a hell to be in, but there you go."

    Iskendriel: "And what happened to the hell he was duke of?"

    Dusty: "The same thing with everything else in the Myst Sector. The Wardens."

    Iskendriel: "What? They destroyed hell?"

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "That's the short of it again, aye. Demons, bein' demons, o'course would've been terrorising the locals, muckin' about with people's actions and gettin' everyone into all kinds of trouble. Wardens are asked to sort out the problem. They really sort out the problem."

    Nyneve: "And what can an outcast demon do to help us?"

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "I suppose we'll find out once the doc is back. Y'know that ward was on the door to keep people out there safe, right? You just go blowin' it up like that. Never heard of knockin'?"

    Dusty: "I tried."

    Proctor Seamus Ealand:
    "Alright, what about the bleedin' phone? Y'know, it's the modern age now? We got these magical devices they call mobiles. You can use 'em anywhere!"

    Nyneve: "Good grief, you're almost as annoying as she is."

    Nyneve jerks a thumb at Iskendriel who growls.

    "Oi! Frosty arse! Keep your opinions to yourself or I'll hand you over to that demon he's talking to. See how quick you melt."

    Nyneve: "Yeah, yeah. At least a demon would have me, unlike you. "Nobody loves me, everybody hate me, just 'cause I am Isk"."

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "Even I think that was lame."

    Iskendriel: "You're lame, Frost-face."

    Nyneve: "You're face is lame!"

    There's a sudden bang, again.

    Nyneve, who had been sitting on the table, falls off, backwards, arse-over-tit. Iskendriel jumps backwards and crashes into a suit of armour, that had been minding its own business, knocking it to the floor with a loud clatter to add to the chaos of sound. Ealand glances up from the kettle in mild surprise before he turns back to pop teabags into each of the waiting mugs.

    Now, standing next to Dr Carroll, is the demon of which they'd been speaking. Of course.

    Vapula: "I hope you're putting some gin in that tea?"

    Ealand replies, without looking up;

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "If that's what'll float your boat."

    He reaches up to an overhead cupboard and opens it to reveal nothing but liquors within. After a quick sift through the tags, he tugs out a bottle of Gordon's Gin that looks like it might have been on that shelf for several years. No doubt that'll be one strong brew when the proctor is done with it.

    Vapula shuffles across the room and sits down on the bench heavily and wearily, as though the woes of several millennia ago only happened yesterday. Although he looks like a traditional demon with tall horns, furrowed brows, fangs, tail, hooves... he also looks like a wino. His clothes are stained with all manner of old liquids and they're little more than rags hanging off of his body. He smells of excrement and his teeth, even his fangs, are yellow or black. He gives a groan and rests his forehead onto his forearm where he then stays quietly, waiting for his drink.

    Dr Carroll:
    "I hope you'll feel better here in the shop, Vapula."

    The demon just grunts as a response.

    Iskendriel: "What about you, doc? You okay?"

    Dr Carroll: "A little worn out from summoning but I'll get over it."

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "This'll help. Proper Yorkshire tea. It'll put hairs on your chest."

    He hands Dr Carroll a cup without needing to ask for details; probably he's made him one earlier.

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "Do you ladies want sugar in yours?"

    Iskendriel shrugs.

    "Sure. Two."

    Nyneve declines.

    Dusty, being what he is, is incapable of drinking and eating. Since Ealand didn't even ask him if he wanted one, she assumes the man is well aware of who or what Dusty is.

    After handing Nyneve and Iskendriel their mugs, Iskendriel's bearing a big smiley face under the slogan 'World's Best Teacher', Ealand carefully puts another mug before Vapula.

    Proctor Seamus Ealand:
    "And this'll put hairs on your hairs."

    Vapula reaches out gingerly, eagerly, with his clawed hands and embraces the cup with both palms. He then chugs the hot tea and gin as though he hadn't drank in days. His black hair is lank and tatty, his nose hairs are long and grotesque and his eyes are blood-shot.

    Vapula: "Alright. What did you say you wanted to know about?"

    Dr Carroll points at the candles but before he could ask for help removing them, Ealand is already on the case. He takes them quickly so that the doctor could wheel himself free of the pentagram. He moves closer to the despondent demon and speaks gently.

    Dr Carroll: "A town, here on Necrill, has vanished recently. Destroyed, blown up, decimated. There's no war here, no enemies, no terrorists. We haven't detected any natural phenomena that could have done it. And yet it happened. Since Dusty is here, I assume he's come back empty handed?"

    He glances up at Dusty who nods in sorrowful defeat.

    Dr Carroll: "I've been studying residues of the area and it does seem to be a... shall we say, physical world problem. But we're still no closer to solving it. I was hoping you might have noticed something?"

    Vapula looks shiftily from Carroll to the others and back again.

    Vapula: "Maybe."

    He narrows his eyes.

    Vapula: "What's the bargain?"

    Dr Carroll sighs.

    Dr Carroll: "I have made many a bargain, Vapula. I have little else to offer you."

    Iskendriel: "How about that bottle of Gordons?"

    Vapula: "Make it a crate of them and we'll see!"

    He looks straight at Iskendriel and she gets a shiver down her spine. He might not be the proud and powerful monster he once was but demons still have a hideous aura that affects mortals around them. She grits her teeth to shed that sudden fear and then shrugs.

    Iskendriel: "Fine."

    Vapula: "Two crates!"


    The demon pauses and eyes Iskendriel suspiciously, wondering if he should test his luck.

    Vapula: "Thr--"

    "Let's make it four and you get on with it, eh?"

    "You better not be giving me some watered down crap!"

    Iskendriel rolls her eyes and holds her arms out. A crate of Gordons Gin appears in her arms as it pixelates into this reality from another. She waggles the crate with a satisfying jangle of bottles.

    Iskendriel: "You know, getting this stuff would be pretty easy on an Imperium world so long as they have the recipe. They have replicators."

    She plonks the crate down on the table.

    Vapula: "What's a replicator?"

    Iskendriel: "Doesn't matter."

    She conjures up a second crate in her arms and the demon watches her excitedly, sweating forming on his emience purple skin. She dumps it ontop of the first crate and looks down at him.

    Iskendriel: "Information now, other crates after."

    Vapula: "The answers you seek lie with two great figures of--"

    Iskendriel gives Vapula a swift smack on the top of his head. He flinches in surprise.

    Iskendriel: "None of that mystical riddle crap. Just straight up talk. Otherwise I'll piss in all this gin."

    "I'd probably still drink it."

    Nyneve: "He's a demon, he'll probably like it more that way."

    Vapula: "Only if she eats a lot of strawberries. Then it'll be sweet--"

    Iskendriel: "Answers."

    She curls her fingers over the edge of the crate, which draws the desperate eyes of the alcoholic.

    Vapula: "Okay fine! You probably did it yourself!"

    There's a pause.

    Iskendriel: "Did what myself? Eat strawberries? Pee in the gin?"

    Vapula: "Destroyed the town. Some of your people, in the past, destroyed it. I think. Or they were there anyway."

    Iskendriel: "In the past? It wasn't that long ago! Why would we blow up our own town anyway? Even a rebel faction--"

    "How should I know why you'd do it? But it was a long, long time ago."

    Iskendriel tries not to lose her patience.

    Iskendriel: "Okay. I think we may be talking about different towns. This town was destroyed a very short time ago. Hell, the town itself isn't even that old. You're--"

    Vapula: "I'm not wrong. I don't know how or why but you did it yourselves. Or maybe you didn't. Maybe you tried to stop it. I don't kow. But you were there. It's all a bit... wibbly-wobbly."

    Dusty nods in agreement.

    Dusty: "I also believed this was wibbly-wobbly."

    Iskendriel: "If I could punch you, Dusty, I would."

    Vapula: "It may have something to do with the Wardens too."

    There's another long pause. While Dusty may be considering the time element and Nyneve may be considering why the Wardens would do such a thing, Iskendriel is thinking very differently. She is far more suspicious.

    "You wouldn't be trying to play us, would you?"

    Vapula: "What do you mean?"

    Iskendriel: "Your oldest enemy just happens to be the culprit? Want us to get into a squabble with the Wardens, do you?"

    Dr Carroll:
    "Actually, I think he said we are the culprits--"

    Iskendriel: "Keep out of this, Ironside."

    Dr Carroll: "Referencing 70s cop shows is going to go over the heads of most people in the room. Know your audience when making jokes."

    "You know what I was talking about, so that'll do me. Lecturing me on how to insult people... what's the world coming to?"

    Vapula: "An end, probably."

    Iskendriel: "So, if we're to believe you, Vapidula--"

    Vapula: "I do have feelings, you know?"

    Iskendriel: "You're saying that... at some point in ancient history of Necrill The Imperium, somehow, destroys its own town... of the future?"

    Vapula: "Maybe, yes. Or maybe someone else. Like the Wardens. Who were there too."

    Iskendriel: "Who else was there?"

    Vapula: "How many more crates you gonna give me?"

    Iskendriel: "I think he's making it all up. Winos will say anything if they can get some extra booze."

    Vapula: "Think whatever you like. I told you stuff, you gave me stuff. Deals a deal. Time for me to go off and drink myself into oblivion."

    "Literally, I hope."

    Dr Carroll:
    "She doesn't mean that, Vapula. Thank you for your assistance. I hope I can call on you again if we need your help?"

    Vapula taps his palm against the top of his crates.

    Vapula: "Depends on if the next two crates show up."

    He looks up at Iskendriel expectantly. She doesn't think the information is useful, even if it is to be trusted, but a couple of crates of gin isn't exactly much to ask for. At least the demon might be paid in booze should they need him in future.

    She summons two more crates and plops them atop of the first two in a gin tower. The demon, with much more pep in his step than when he'd arrived, gets up from the bench and clasps the top crate.

    Vapula: "Alright then. When you call next, better have more of the good stuff. In fact, next time I might try an extra crate of rum. Or maybe something more sweet for cocktails, like that Taboo stuff. You know the one?"

    Iskendriel: "Yeah, how about you wait to be called before you start your bloody shopping list."

    Vapula shakes his head and leans on the crates.

    Vapula: "You know, I lost everything to those Wardens so I'm a bit depressed and anti-social. What's your excuse, huh?"

    Dr Carroll: "She'd be a psychologist's wet dream, I'm certain. Personally, though, I'd rather not know about Iskendriel's mummy and daddy issues. We have more important work to be done."

    Iskendriel: "Oh I see. One Ironside comment and you get nasty, doc? If I call you Professor X are you going to start calling me mean names too?"

    Dr Carroll, much to Iskendriel's surprise, deflates and, with his eyes closed, says;

    Dr Carroll: "You're right. I'm sorry, Iskendriel. I'm simply a little tired."

    "Wow. You're seriously going to apologise for that? Do you get down and pray if you say a naughty word? Whip yourself if you think of a naked girl?"

    Iskendriel: "Yeah, I almost had some respect for you until just now."

    Dr Carroll opens his eyes and looks from one woman to the next with exasperated disbelief.

    Dr Carroll:
    "You know what? Fine then. You're a *****, Iskendriel."

    Nyneve barks with laughter.

    Dr Carroll: "You too, Nyneve."

    He wheels himself off towards the exit of the room and then realises that his chair isn't going to fit down there without the help of Ealand, leading to an awkward moment where his angry exit is delayed in a long silence only broken by the snickering of Nyneve. Iskendriel is even smiling with amusement but decides to let the guy have his moment. After all, he wasn't exactly wrong.

    Vapula: "You kids are going to be a lot of fun."

    Vapula, and his gin, burst into purple flames and is gone. The flames die out quickly and the wooden table remains completely unsinged.

    Ealand then slaps his big hands together with far too much merriment.

    Proctor Seamus Ealand: "Well then! Seems like a start! You lot should probably bugger off and leave me to my shop, eh? Good luck and all that. Just don't come back too soon, unless you're buying."
    Last edited by TheBritt; 08-25-2017 at 01:30 AM.

  21. #21
    Tea-sipper, character-killer

    Arrow Battlegrounds: Gaining an Entrance

    Gaining an Entrance
    Characters: Potshot | Astaria Bravello'quas | Vitamins | Codswallop | Shallowlip

    A powerful energy blast slaps against the sandy mound and sprays dirt and stones over their heads. Potshot blinks furiously, trying to get grit out of her eyes.

    Codswollop: "What wes gunna do, chief?"

    Potshot: "Dem blokes up der're need t' be taken down. No buts!"

    Vitamins: "I'll give um a butt!"

    Vitamins starts to unbuckle her belt to give the snipers a good mooning but Potshot tosses a rock at her fat head. Vitamins falls flat with her hands stuck down her pants. Everyone else guffaws before Potshot, again, must rein everyone in.

    Potshot: "Shut ya yaps, ya *******! Wes needs cover t' get 'cross the..."

    Her jaw just to one side and her teeth grit as her brain struggles to find the correct word to describe the wheeled vehicles the people of this planet use to travel about.

    Potshot: "Wheeler park!"

    Nobody corrects her because nobody else knows what the word is either and assume that she, as the smartest of them, knows what they are.

    Codswallop: "How wes gunna do dat den, chief?"

    Astaria Bravello'quas: "We could use those..."

    The human glances at Potshot;

    Astaria Barvello'quas: "Wheelers as cover. Carry them over our heads."

    Potshot: "Dats finkin', humie! Me and you cun grab one each and des fellas can get underneath!"

    The human wears that overeager mask of determination and leaps over the ridge of their mound, startling Potshot. The orc chief hasn't met a lot of humans in her lifetime but most of them tended to be smarter than the average orc. Except this ditzy knight.

    "Oi! Ya daft cow! Ya can't jus'- bugger it! WRAAAAAAA!!!!!!!"

    Potshot jumps up too and dashes out. The snipers up in the building were already firing at the human woman but one of them decides the orc might make an easier target. Their mistake.

    Potshot, pumped full of super soldier serum, runs like the wind towards the 'wheeler' she has in sight. Energy bolts screech by her head, one cutting it close as the sniper tries to cut her off ahead of her, but she reaches the vehicle with a wild skid as she struggles to stop.


    She bounces off of the vehicle's side and lands on her backside with a childish whine. Her wits awake just in time to avoid another bolt as she throws herself against the wheeler's door frame.

    Potshot: "Bollockin' hell! Why did I listen to that brain-dead, humie!? All **** and no sense!"

    Even as she's scuttering to herself she looks up to see Astaria plodding along the wheeler park with a massive hunk of metal hoisted over her head. The woman might be dense but she does have a supersuit that gives her tremendous strength. When Astaria sees Potshot she moves her hand to wave but, as the wheeler starts to then unbalance, she quickly puts it back with wide-eyes of surprise. Potshot shakes her head in bewildered disbelief. Surely no one is that stupid...

    The orc chief herself doesn't look like much either. She was born runt of the litter and is little over her teenage years. Yet she has plenty of tricks up her own sleeves. Or rather her tricks, this time, are her actual sleeves. She puts her robo-gauntlets under the wheeler and lifts. She has a harder time than Astaria did but she manages to eventually get the wheeler up over her head. She hears energy bolts slamming into the metal framework and chuckles as sinisterly as she can - which is about as sinister as a toddler that just stole your cookies.

    She stomps across the wheeler car slowly in the wake of the human knight. She has to admit that when her clan joined The Imperium she thought it was the end of her people. She had genuinely expected to be put into slavery, forced to work in mines or quarries or cheese farms. Instead her clan was given what they wanted - war. And this war is a war like none of the Fuqheads had ever experienced even in their wildest fantasies. Potshot can't help but grin with excitement as she keeps moving. When she finally gets close to the mound she barks her orders to the orcs hiding below;

    Potshot: "Oi, ya daft tosspots! Get under dese wheelers!"

    Codswallop is the first to rear his ugly, dumb head but when he jumps forward he halts as his head reaches the very top of the vehicles. He crouches down to peer underneath.

    Codswallop: "Yous gotta be kiddin' me, chief! You two're the size o' babies. 'Ow wes gunna fit under dere, eh?"

    Potshot: "Jus' squeeze under it, ya fuqin' clod!"

    Codswallop gets on all fours and crawls under the metal canopy. With his backside stuck up in the air, it's too tempting a target for Potshot to not give it a swift boot. He faceplants the concrete. The other orcs comes shuffling up from their hole with a lot of chuckling at poor Codswallop's expense.

    Potshot: "Someone get Vidamins up 'ere!"

    Vitamins is then pushed up over the mound, still in quite a daze.

    Vitamins: "Did someone get da plate o' da rock?"

    She is bigger than most of the male orcs and takes up more space in the tiny shielded area. In the end two of the orcs had to stay behind because they wouldn't fit and the rest of them started to crawl across the wheeler park while listening to the sounds of energy fire. At Potshot's orders the two orcs that remained behind provided covering fire by shooting back at the snipers, but the enemy still managed to get more than a fire shots at the vehicles. Fortunately the wheelers provided enough cover for everyone and, miraculously, didn't blow up. They reach the far end of the wheeler park and huddle up beneath a small awning that covers the parking spaces closest to the side of the building. Probably for the bosses of the building so their wheelers don't get dirty, Potshot decided. She then uses her left glove to blast a hole in the only wheeler parked there. Bosses should be down and dirty with everyone else.

    "Alright, stand back ya louts."

    They do so and she gears up her power-gauntlet. She can actually hear the thing whirring as it builds up kinetic energy within it. She throws her hand forward and the metal gloves connects with the wall. Bricks blast apart and the steel rivets bend. She gives it another good thump and the hole is big enough for even Vitamins to fit through with leg room to spare.

    Vitamins, who always goes first when entering dark places on account of her being an excellent meat shield, stumbles and struggles as she gets a bucket stuck to her foot. As she tries to fight with the tin on her foot she falls backwards into a pile of cleaning supplies. On cue a mop drops on her head. Seeing the misfortune of others is a particular pastime of any good orc and a raucous of laughter announces their arrival to the entire building.

    "Reckon we's in da cleanin' room."

    Astaria Barvello'quas: "I can confirm that. My map display says this is the janitor closet. Next door is the reception room."

    Codswallop: "Ho ho! I love receptionists! Dey da sexiest, I tells ya!"

    Shallowlip: "No ways, fella! It's da nurses! When dey stab ya wid da needle. Jus' love dat bit."

    Codswallop: "Keep dreamin', ya gimp. Nurses are for humies! Real orcs don't need no nurses!"

    Shallowlip: "You wun sayin' dat last week afder da chief knocked ya toof out, wuz ya? You's like 'oh nursie! Me boss punched me toof out! It hurts so much! Wah wah!'"

    More bass laughter and Codswallop growls, unable to refute the claim against him. Codswallop is one of the oldest orcs in the clan, having managed to live to a ripe old age of thirty-nine. Because of his age he's often picked on by the younger orcs who not only see taking down their elders as a way to improve their own status, but also question the fact he's not dead yet. Usually the only orcs to live beyond forty are the cowards or the incredibly lucky. Despite that, Codswallop doesn't seem to be either. He is brave and often one of the first to get into battle, but he's also constantly screwing up and is always beaten up by Potshot, his niece.

    Vitamins exits the room and enters the corridor. The floor has some kind of cloth material on it, for some strange reason, and the walls are pastel blue. A truly sickening colour that makes Potshot think of chewing on chalk. Shallowlip jumps into the reception and is utterly disappointed to find that there are no receptionists working today. Of course the war might be the reason for that, not that this would occur to Shallowlip.

    "Cor! Dere's a bog in 'ere! Hang on, fellas! I gotta have a dump!"

    There's a series of groans as everyone is now going to have to wait for him to do his business in the bathroom. Potshot motions for Vitamins and Astaria to follow her round the corner. To their left, just opposite the reception door, are stairs going up. But Potshot wants to scour the ground floor before they ascend to locate the snipers. Going round to the right they find the doors to the outside they they could have used instead of punching the wall down. Less fun though.

    Opposite those doors is another room.

    Astaria Bravello'quas:
    "This is the engineering room."

    Potshot: "Fookin' eh!"

    She kicks the door in and lets Vitamins barge through, ready to get shot. Nothing happens so Potshot slips in behind the monstrous woman. Vitamins was actually born into the Big Fuqqers clan, a clan of orcs notorious for their immense body size and their feeble brains. Clan Fuqheads had managed to conquer one of Big Fuqqers' tribes. When a clan is defeated, the adults are killed (usually after being brutally humiliated in profane ways) and the children are taken in by the victorious clan to become one of their own. Many of these non-natives can be identified quickly because they will usually look different to the majority of the clan. In the case of Vitamins, she's taller and bulkier than everyone else. In the case of Shallowlip he has horns growing from his head, a trait of the Clan Kleptofuqs.

    Potshot scurries through the room, searching through the junk. To an orc, junk is a treasure trove. Especially to one as industrious as Potshot.

    She finds a bunch of wires and tosses them at Vitamins who clumsily catches them. The wires are then joined by a horde of more junk until poor Vitamins has a mountain of crap to carry out of the engineering room.

    Astaria Bravello'quas: "Do you really need all of that?"

    Potshot: "Need or want?"

    Astaria Bravello'quas: "Is now the best time to be shopping?"

    Potshot: "I can use it. I could probably use everyfin' in dis room, buts I gotta be picky, right? Corr! A buncha dem energy cells!"

    She spies several energy cells being stored inside a glass emergency box on the wall. Though the ammo is designed for the energy weapons of this planet, she can easily retro-fit them to suit her own orcish technology. It just takes a little jiggery-pokery.

    She crushes the glass with her glove and rips the little door off to give her access to the preciouses. Then she hears a lot of orcs wailing in horror outside. Astaria perks up and is instantly on guard while Potshot shoves the energy cells into her knapsack, which is already filled with other random junk.

    Astaria Bravello'quas:
    "I think your orcs are under attack!"

    Potshot: "Nah! If dat were an attack, dere'd be more poundin'. Dat's jus' the stench o' Shallowlip's bum 'ole."

    Astaria's face cringes.

    Astaria Bravello'quas: "Ew."

    Potshot: "Yeah, you bedder not go ou' dere coz your humie nose might fall off! Ha! You didn'd see wha' he woz eatin' las' night! Is gonna be fishy."

    Astaria Bravello'quas: "Ew! Again."

    Unlike everyone else in Potshot's little troupe, Astaria is, of course, not one of Potshot's clan. She isn't even from Potshot's homeworld. Astaria was assigned to the team when the Fuqheads joined The Imperium. At first Potshot thought Astaria was there to keep an eye on the dangerous orcs in the army and keep them all in line under threat of being wiped out by their Imperium overlords. After a couple of days, Potshot came to the counter-conclusion that they put Astaria in with the most reckless troupe to teach her a thing or two about real war. Either that or they hoped the orcs would kill the annoying humie. So far, they've all resisted the urge. Even if humie's taste damn good.

    The powered suit that the girl wears is oddly reminiscent of the technology of Potshot's homeworld though a little more advanced. It is a full plate suit, coloured gold and black and upon the back is a miniature factory that expels gouts of black smoke and everything. Every now and again, someone must open up the pack and put fuel inside to keep the suit working. Once Potshot, having grown tired of the human, left her without fuel for hours. During that time she had been unable to move at all and was stood poised in an extremely flattering pose.

    Lucky for her the orcs aren't interested in pretty little things because to an orc that makes you look like a little kid. Humans, in general, look pretty to orcs and, therefore, most of them look like kids. Tasty kids, admittedly. Potshot couldn't make too many jokes about the prettiness of Astaria because she is well aware that she, for an orc, is extremely pretty too. It is also against orcish culture to injure yourself to enhance one's appearance because that would be cheating. All ugliness derived from scars or broken noses must be earnt. Being the chief means Potshot is taken care of by the other orcs. Ergo she is doomed to prettiness.

    Astaria Bravello'quas: "I'm detecting a heat signature approaching."

    Potshot eyes Astaria dubiously.

    Potshot: "It better not be a mouse again."

    Astaria: "The past two times--"

    Potshot: "Five times."

    "It's not my fault. I can't tell what it is. Just heat."

    The human pouts. She is quite youthful and Potshot can't tell how old Astaria actually is. She has a rounded, somewhat chubby, face and her strawberry blonde hair is cut into an embarrassing bowl shape. The suit is bigger than her body, which makes her face look even more like a little kid stuck inside a suit of armour. Her skin is very white, like she doesn't get out enough, and her teeth are all perfectly straight and bright white. Potshot had never actually seen teeth that look like a row of plastic before. Her own teeth are mostly yellow and a couple are black, destined to rot away to nothing by the end of the year.

    Potshot decides to take the heat signature seriously and scurries to the door. She can still hear the others all jeering at Shallowlip round the corner and decides to use their noise as a distraction. Vitamins would be back any minute now, so Potshot just had to wait.

    Astaria quietly pushes the door fully open and leans against it, also ready to strike. She looks at Potshot expectantly. When the chief doesn't give the go-ahead Astaria frowns and motions with her head. Potshot shakes her own. Astaria pulls a face with an upturned lip. Potshot still shakes her head. Astaria gives a bewildered shrug, her palms spread wide. Potshot points an angry finger at Astaria to stay still. Astaria points urgently towards the corridor. Potshot holds up a closed palm. Astaria grits her teeth nervously but Potshot continues to hold up her palm. The noises of the orcs seems to grow louder. The two girls think they hear Vitamins say;

    Vitamins: "Gonna get more o' da chief's junk."

    A shadow reaches the tip of the engineering room's doorway and then opens fire. The blue haze of light illuminates the corridor, making the pastels look white and the dark cloth of the floor turn blue. The light show goes on for a second before Potshot makes her move. She ducks down and jumps towards the far wall. As she goes she spins her body round and fires the small hand cannon she carries with her. The energy bolts of the enemy are thin and blue. The energy blasts from an orcish weapon are big, fat and red. The glob of red splats and fizzles as it hits the soldier. Whatever kind of humanoid he was, he's now half melted and very dead. Potshot looks down the corridor at Vitamins. The big woman is standing there with her arm up. There's a hole that's burnt straight through it, even cauterised the wounds as the bolt passed through.

    Potshot: "You dead, ya lanky fuq?"

    Vitamins drops her arm to reveal she's otherwise unharmed.

    Vitamins: "Not yet, chief."

    Potshot: "Ha! Shallowlip will be disappointed. He's bettin' you get snuffed out on dis mission."

    The other orcs appear from round the corner.

    Shallowlip: "Dere's still time!"

    "Dat cheeky liddle basterd fought he could take us all ou' alone?"

    Voice: "Not quite."

    They all turn as the corridor is suddenly lit up with bolts of biting blue lights. The humanoids appear from within a cloak, which must have masked their heat signatures as well as their physical forms. The fella Potshot just popped was a diversion. Potshot can't help but admire how ruthless these guys are, even more than the orcs! The clan returns fire and Vitamins runs up the corridor like a charging ogre. She is hit by several bolts as she goes but she keeps on moving until she snags Potshot, who was trying to scramble across the floor with bolts flying over her head, and lunges back into the engineering room. They crash into a table of coils, which are knocked everywhere. The big orc just lies there while Potshot clambers to her feet unsteadily.

    Potshot: "Damn that Shallowlip. He well cursed her, I swear. Guess he's be 'appy he ges his dough."

    Astaria: "She's not quite dead yet, chief."

    Potshot: "Cun yous fix her?"

    Vitamins: "No fixin', chief! Imma orc! No nurses!"

    Potshot: "Oi! Ya daft cow! I's da boss! She's gunna patch you up coz I dun wan' ya dead yet, aright!? No buts!"

    Vitamins: "Imma give 'em a butt..."

    She makes a feeable attempt to pull her pants down again. But she then passes out, so the world doesn't have to see her big green arse cheeks.

    Astaria: "You know I'm not a doctor, right?"

    Potshot: "More a doc dan any o' us. Jus' do whaddever ya can, 'kay?"

    Astaria pulls a sad face that could rival any puppy or kitten. Potshot wants to shoot it.

    Astaria: "I'll try..."

    Potshot moves down the room's wall, keep her ear to it. When she gets almost to the end of the room she stops. Listens to confirm and then gears up her left gauntlet for another wall-smash. The big cog on the outside clocks faster and faster until the kinetic power is ready to be unleashed. Potshot pummels the wall. There's no steel in this interior wall, just bricks and plaster. Her fist flies through and she is able to grab the closest soldier, much to the man's surprise as he cries out with shock. Before he can turn his gun on her she's pulling him through the hole head first. She gets most of his torso through before he gets stuck, arms at his sides. As he squirms to get free Potshot smirks with the satisfaction of the coming execution. She, quite slowly, raises her gauntlet to the man's face.

    These aliens look like humans to Potshot, but she's been told they're not. They have the same beige skin as some humans do. The same drab hair colours. The same pretty, kiddie looks. Most orcs, though not all, are bright green. Potshot is especially green, verging on luminous. Her hair, though, is jet black and very curly, thick and long. While her teeth are in bad shape, she does still have both of her fangs - albeit very small ones that aren't shown when her lips are closed. Only when she smiles wide do they appear, giving her a devilish grin.

    Each finger of the gauntlet curls around his face. The gauntlet is double the size of her actual arm, making her look all the more slender and childish in the eyes of most orcs. They, however, know those gauntlets hurt like buggery when their little chief gives them a clout so they keep their traps shut. The mechanisms inside the glove click loudly as each finger moves into position. The man is squirming harder. She holds on as she feels someone on the other side of the wall trying to pull him back. The man then begs her not to do it.

    Astaria: "Chief, maybe you should let him live? Show some mercy!"

    Potshot snorts.

    "Please! Please don't!"

    "Please don't? Ya sure ya wan' dat ta be ya las' words, fella? Ain't so good, ya know? Is no' gunna look good on ya gravestone, issit?"

    He squirms more vigorously, crying out. Astaria starts to cry, only she cries tears not screams.

    Her fingers move inwards. Potshot does it slow. His screams of anguish make Astaria start blubbering ever more loudly and she covers her ears, almost screaming with horror herself. Potshot feels the skull fracture, that familiar little snap. Then it cracks. Like an eggshell. One crack and the skull splits quite easily after that, her fingers push straight inwards until the screaming stops. There's an eerie silence that follows.

    Outside there are still the hot vape-vape sounds of the orc blasters. A long screech of the beam weapon that Shallowlip uses. The jeers of orcs as they watch their enemies run. The sobbing of Astaria. The groaning of Vitamins. Potshot pulls her fingers free of the skull, allowing the body to hang limp and clumsy in the hole. Not a very dignified death, the poor thing. But what human deserves a worthy death anyway?

    Potshot licks the blood off of her fingers. She winces. These humans taste a bit weird. Kind of sour. She shrugs and licks more.

    Astaria is slowly putting bandages on Vitamins' wounds but still openly weeping, as though she had just watched her own father die. Potshot rolls her eyes then winces again as she finds a piece of skull in her mouth. She works it to her lips and spits it out.

    Potshot: "Ew."

    Usually a good 'looks like meat's back on the menu boys' line would come in now, but Potshot is smarter than the average orc and she knows the other humans are licking their own wounds and are going to be seeking vengeance for the brutal death of their comrade.

    "Less ged packin', fellas! Dem blokes is gettin' ready ta strike back an' wes no' gunna give 'em time! Vidamins is gunna stay down 'ere coz she almost bit it back dere."

    Shallowlip: "Aww, boss! Yous ain't patchin' her up are yous!?"

    Potshot: "Aye, I am! So tough ****. I wan' da big cow alive. You wanna whine abou' it some more, or you ready ta kick some ass?"

    The orcs, other than Shallowlip, cheer. There's a lot of rage between them all now, pumped up and ready for battle. That familiar orc bloodlust curdles on the surface of their tempers. They march on down the corridor while Potshot stands in the door of the engineering room and looks at Astaria. Some part of Potshot does finally surface and feeling empathy for the stupid girl.

    Potshot: "Oi, soft arse."

    Not much though.

    Potshot: "Are yous done fixin' that big lug yet?"

    Astaria awkwardly gets up, the joints of her suit whirring.

    Astaria: "I guess, sort of."

    Her voice wobbles.

    "You... you didn't have to do that."

    Potshot rests her massive pistol on her shoulder. The blood on her gloves slides onto the handle of the gun.

    Potshot: "Preddy sure we 'ad dis need an' wanna talk jus' before, Ass'ria."

    Though Potshot is more than capable of forcing the t sound into her words when needed, she deliberately goes out of her way to avoid it when trying to pronounce Astaria.

    Astaria: "Why are you so... mean?"

    Potshot: "I ain't mean! I'm nice ta yous, isn't I!?"

    "... you are?"

    "Yeah~!! Now c'mon! I feel bedder wid you around coz ya so pretty. Makes me look more ugly. So stop cryin' and follow me, aright?"

    Astaria manages to nod as she wipes her eyes.

    "Y'know I ain't seen so much cryin' since uncle Codswallop 'ad his last baby."

    Astaria: "Don't call me a baby."

    Potshot: "I'm no'! It woz me uncle dat woz blubberin'! Shoulda seen 'em!"

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