[Story] The Epsilon Project - Final Chapter (2013/06/29)

Started by Tapewolf, January 18, 2012, 03:46:41 PM

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Quote from: VAE on February 15, 2012, 11:17:01 PM
Quote from: Gabi on February 15, 2012, 06:19:19 PM
Deep-frying or pan-frying you can use the same oils. Deep-frying is better, but if you use the same oil again and again it becomes saturated and thus the problem I mentioned (unhealthy and bad-tasting, but people will still eat the stuff).

Saturated? That seems odd.  I mean, where is it getting hydrogen from?
From the air, I suppose. I learned that from my mother while she was studying nutrition.

Quote from: justacritic on February 16, 2012, 12:06:30 PM
Quote from: Gabi on February 14, 2012, 05:09:08 PM
Really? Here people use mostly sunflower and/or corn oil for frying. I use sunflower oil myself. However, most restaurants and fast food chains re-use the same oil multiple times, which is unhealthy and ruins the taste of the food. But lots of people will eat it anyway.
Have you ever used sesame oil? It's quite aromatic and gives a quite indescribable taste  
I have, but not for frying. A couple of drops of sesame oil can give the food a good taste. Any more than that makes me literally sick. My dad learned that the hard way.
~~ Gabi a.k.a. Gliynn Starseed, APF ~~
Thanks to Silver for the yappities, and to everyone for being so great!
(12:28:12) llearch: Gabi is equal-opportunity friendly


Chapter 4

A Being walked down the street, many years of living in Grunmore making a simple act into something furtive, as if every shadow held a mugger.  Things weren't quite that bad, but sometimes they came close and it only took one knife to end you, all over a packet of cigarettes.

A cry of despair made his fur stand on end for a moment - it seemed to be coming from the Jolly Roger fish bar.  There was a blinding flash from inside it.  "No!" the person yelled again, "Daryil, NO..."

* * *

Sheila took off her jacket and let her hair down, for once actually looking like a traditional succubus and not some kind of diabolical stockbroker.  Settling herself into a nearby chair in the common room, she put up her feet and gave a contented sigh, which turned into one of annoyance as she noticed that Sydney and Richard had got into some kind of argument again.

"But," Sydney was saying, "Last lesson!  You agreed!  You agreed that it was wrong to kill Beings like that!"

"It's dangerous and could easily get you killed," Richard said, "I agree with that, but 'wrong'... that's a little steep, isn't it?"

"I think you may have missed the point of professor Jevex' little sermon," Sheila said testily, "That it is evil to murder Beings for their souls."

Richard's head-wings fanned out threateningly.  "Evil?" he repeated, "How dare you?!  I pride myself on following our laws!  I would never, ever do something that was evil!"

A hush fell upon the room, interrupting card games and pausing the Soul Burglar tournament set up on an ad-hoc network in the corner as everyone turned to look.

"So seducing a Being, raping them and then devouring their eternal soul as they beg for mercy doesn't strike you as being 'evil'?", Sheila said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.

"Should it?" the jackal shrugged.

"Then pray explain... no, wait...  What would you consider to be evil?" she asked, changing her mind in mid-sentence.

"Murdering a fellow 'Cubi, maybe an Angel or Demon, depending on the circumstances.  That's wrong.  Killing their entire family, or stealing their souls, that's evil."

"But it's okay to do that to a Being...?"

"Of course."

"Of course nothing!" she snapped, and then looked contrite for a moment.  "Look, just humour me.  Pretend I'm an idiot.  Explain to me why it is perfectly moral for you to murder a Being, but evil for someone to murder, say... me."

"Sure thing," Richard said, with a shrug, and seemed happy to be given something constructive to do.

"Consider a simple food chain," he said, pulling out a tablet device and sketching a hasty diagram with a stylus - his gloves (and for that matter, his fur) didn't work well with capacitive touchscreens.
"You got predators at the top, you got a prey species lower down, probably several layers of prey species.  Finally you got the herbivores, and the plants at the bottom.  Is that evil?"

"In the abstract, no.  But it's a very subjective thing.  However, I don't think anyone can argue that it's evil for a wild animal to kill and eat something that is their natural prey."

"Exactly, it's the natural order," Richard said.  "And Beings don't consider it evil for themselves to eat livestock."

"Largely, no, but not universally." Sheila pointed out.

"Yeah, so you have your animal rights and vegetarian protesters," Richard said enthusiastically and gestured at Sydney.  "And the same goes for Beings.  You'll get people who are squeamish about it or want to be sure that the animals don't suffer before they're slaughtered.  I don't have a problem with that, it's their choice.  But they shouldn't have the power to prevent me from doing what is only the natural order of..."

"Now hold on," Sheila interrupted.  "There's a big difference between non-sentient animals and Beings.  You're saying that it's not evil for, say... a wild fox to eat a wild rabbit.  I agree with that, because the fox is only doing what it's been genetically programmed to do.  That's not to say a feral fox has no free will, but hunting prey is its default behaviour.

"We, being a lot more sentient, have a greater amount of free will - we get to choose what we want to eat and how we go about getting it, that means we are not bound by the natural order of things in the same way as the fox and rabbit are.

"In terms of base form, I'm a large dog, you're a jackal.  I could crack your skull open right now and eat your brains.  But if I did, it would be my decision to do so, not a matter of instinct.  Everyone in this room would see it as an act of pure evil and no amount of protesting that it was 'the natural order of things' could hand-wave that away, or get me out of a lengthy prison sentence."

Richard glowered at her and radiated anger but remained silent.

"See," the Border continued, "Your 'natural order' argument gets even more shaky when both the predator and the prey species are sentient and can make their own choices.  A wild hare can't reason with a fox, but a Being, knowing that I was intending to kill them, would.  They would make emotional appeals and logical arguments as to why they should be spared, why what I was doing is both wrong and unnecessary.  Not only that, but we are empaths.  I would know how much suffering and horror I was causing to my victim, and... and it would make me question it.  It would make me think about how I would feel if I was the one being tormented and threatened with such a horrible death..."

"But you wouldn't be," Richard said.  "You're the predator."

Sheila opened her mouth and then closed it again.

"Let me ask you a question," Syd said.  "If you were a Being, would you consider being raped and then murdered for your soul an evil thing?"

"I guess so," he admitted, "But I'm not a Being."

"Up until your 20s you were identical to a Being," Sheila retorted.  "Would that make it moral to kill you while you were in your 'prey' state?"

"No!" the jackal squawked.  "I had wings!  I'd grow up to be something far more than a mere Being!"

"But if you were killed before that could happen, what would be the difference?"

"Beings aren't fully sentient!" the white jackal protested.  There were murmurs throughout the room, and Sheila's headwings drooped.

"What makes you say that, Richard?" she asked softly.

"They don't experience emotions in the same way that we do.  They can't feel them as strongly, so they're obviously less sentient than Creatures."

"I'm afraid that's not true," she said.  "Demons and Angels feel emotions about the same as Beings.  We, 'Cubi, are the odd ones out, and that's because we're over-sensitive to emotions, to the point where we need special training and mental exercises just to live a normal life."

Richard did not reply, but his head-wings were quivering and underneath his fur the blood had run to his face, making the tips of his ears slightly pink where the fur was thinnest.

"Yeah," Sheila said.  "Look, I'm sorry, but being 'Cubi is a very mixed blessing.  Given the choice?  I'm not sure I'd want to be any other race.  We have a lot going for us, but the fact is, some of it just sucks."

The jackal shook his head and walked out of the room, radiating a wide spectrum emotions that could be loosely described as 'emo'.

Shelia sighed.  "Well, that sucked.  Sorry for killing the mood, everyone," she said to the common room.

"You know what?" the succubus mused, "I think I need something to cheer me up."

"Oh?" Syd asked.  "Any ideas?"
"...yeah.  I'm gonna get laid.  See you later..."

Syd watched, trying hard to suppress a pang of jealousy as the succubus made her way back towards the dormitory wing with a slightly predatory expression on her features.  With a mental effort he wrenched himself back to the present and in doing so noticed some of the other male students were radiating similar emotions.  He gave a sidelong look at Daniel, who turned away with a surge of embarrassment and made a show of adjusting his headwings.  Sydney gave a shrug - that was the Doberman's problem, after all - so he paid it no mind and headed off to try and find Richard.

* * *

The jackal stood back and admired her handiwork with a smile that simply radiated sadistic pleasure and anticipation at the heinous crimes she was about to commit.  She stood there, clad in her favourite evening wear, a black form-fitting suit that either screamed "seductive" or "run like buggery" depending on whether you were more powerful than she was or not.

Like many 'Cubi, the succubus was of the belief that if you really wanted to inspire terror in your victims, you had to dress the part.  Perhaps it was a little cliched, but it worked and that was that... nothing said 'soul killer' in quite the same way as shiny black leather.
The wolf Being, on the other hand, said nothing at all.  He stared up at her, his eyes wide with terror and his shivering limbs bound tightly to the four corners of his own bed.

"This is your last night on Furrae, you little shit," the succubus crooned and stroked his chin with a hand gloved in black, funeral garb for her victim's doomed soul.  Tentacles rose behind her from her feathery wings, capped with little wolf faces that leered wickedly, staring into her helpless prey's eyes.  And once again, that smile.  "The only good accountant is a dead one, and you'll be so very, very dead."

The Being gulped.

"I like souls," the succubus purred.  "And yours is a very nice one.  Nice body, too," she slapped his belly for emphasis.  "Pity you won't be needing them anymore."

There was a muffled whimpering from his muzzle, bound shut with one of his own ties.

"Enjoy your final moment," the jackal said and jerked her head back.  She let out a piercing, girlish scream as a small polystyrene box appeared suddenly in mid air, right in front of her face.  She swiped at it and the box fell, turning over in mid air and spilling battered cod and fried potato across the Being and his bed.

The wolf writhed with a loud "MMMMM!" noise and the jackal panicked, sweeping the burning hot food off her victim's exposed fur.  "Oh shit, oh shit, I'm really sorry," she gabbled.  "Are you all right...?"  Cass froze, bapping herself on the muzzle with one shiny black hand as the murderess act came crashing down around her ears.  "Gods dammit!  Stop that!" she snarled as the Being snorted with helpless laughter through the gag.

"I'm not done with you yet, Being scum," she said, trying to regain her prey's delicious terror and failing miserably.  Daryil's gift had utterly killed the mood.

Cass sat on the bed forlornly sweeping the chips and fish back into the box.  "Well so much for a night of fear," she said sullenly, stabbing one of the soggy chips with a crappy wooden fork and eating it.  Out of politeness she offered a lump of fish to the wolf, who grunted and blinked twice, staring at the binding around his nose with both eyes.

Gingerly, Cass untied the bond around his jaws.  "Ta," he said.  "I don't suppose... Do you think... Would you be able to come back next week?"

Cass just glowered at him.

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


Ahahaha, so Cass is cosplaying as Keaton once again?

As an aside, loved the argument about ethics of killing Beings.
What i cannot create, i do not understand. - Richard P. Feynman
This is DMFA. Where major species don't understand clothing. So innuendo is overlooked for nuendo. .


J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


Yes, it was a very interesting argument... with a weird ending, but I guess that must be a far more common way to end things at a Cubi school.

And the food scene was funny. And the first scene was intriguing.
~~ Gabi a.k.a. Gliynn Starseed, APF ~~
Thanks to Silver for the yappities, and to everyone for being so great!
(12:28:12) llearch: Gabi is equal-opportunity friendly


It's Saturday here, anyway.  Just.

Chapter 5

"Richard?" Syd called.  He didn't yet have control of his powers so as to be able to pinpoint nearby minds, but that would come in time.

"What is it?" the jackal returned tersely.  He muttered something brief into his phone and pocketed it.

"Look, I just wanted to say... I'm sorry about the argument."

"Yeah, well," Richard sighed.  "I guess it was bound to happen eventually, if I'm really so... different.  Still, it's hard... so many things I was brought up to believe.  And I still think that most of them are right," he said, with a sudden flash of defiance.

Sydney put up his hands.  "We'll have to agree to disagree there," he said.  "I was brought up weird too.  Actually it runs in the family.  I've had to re-evaluate a lot of what I was told as a child, and I guess you will too."

"I probably will, but not right now."

"Richard, if you don't mind my asking, why did you come here?  I mean... no offence, but you don't exactly fit in.  It almost feels like you were sent here against your will."

"I wouldn't go that far, but... well, yeah, there was an ulterior motive.  I was in Dresburg recently."

"Wasn't there some kind of disturbance there or something?"

"Yeah, they were gonna hang me," Richard said offhandedly, as if he had been fined for littering.

"What?!" Syd exclaimed.  "What did you do?  No, forget I asked," he said.  Richard looked up at the ceiling with a slightly crooked, toothy smile.

"Yeah, probably best you don't know.  They all had the noose around me and everything.  There was just one problem - the charm they used was designed to subdue Demons and it didn't affect my wings at all.  Out came the tentacles," he said, with a hazy smile at the memory.  Syd took a few steps back, radiating concern and a certain amount of horror.

"Yeah, it was kinda messy, but that's one of the reasons for these," he said, wiggling the fingers in a gloved hand.  "All the blood and wet bits, you can just wash it all off.  It works with the pants too, though not as well as latex does.

"Anyway, Mom figured I should lie low for a while after that, so she sent me here.  Partly to keep me out of trouble, partly to learn more restraint.  I guess... up until I was sentenced to death, she hadn't really appreciated the value of 'Cubi training."

"I thought most clans used one school or another," Sydney queried.  "What is your clan, if you don't mind my asking...?"

"Fa'Rana Clan," the jackal replied.  "Terror based.  Not many people heard of us, though."

"I can't say I have, either.  Are you forked from another clan?"

"Yeah.  There was a disagreement, a schism over how other races should be treated.  Most of the Clan went one way, and some of us... some of us decided it was time to part ways."

"So you branched off?"

"Pretty much.  Now, tell me about yours?"

"It's complicated," Sydney said.  "Please don't tell Sheila.  In fact, I'd prefer to keep it a secret in general."

"I won't tell anyone," Richard said, putting a hand on Syd's shoulder.  "I promise.  One 'Cubi to another, you can trust me - however much we may disagree about Beings."

"Very well.  We're renegades from a larger clan, I... I can't tell you who, not yet.  They weren't nice, they even ate the souls of their own members if they stepped too far out of line."  Richard's eyes widened and he radiated the same kind of horror that his classmates had earlier.

"Our clan father didn't have the know-how to break away properly so he used various tricks to try and conceal our identity and interfere with our link to the clan's Leader," Syd continued.  "There was a major disaster that wiped out most of them, though - otherwise they would have tracked us down and killed us all.   As it happened, they were too preoccupied with the enemies storming the realm to deal with the enemies who wanted to run away.  After that, it didn't really matter what they thought."

"Kind of the inverse of my clan," Richard said, thoughtfully.  "That explains a few things."

* * *

"The take is a lot lower than expected," the lynx said to his three associates.  "Winston is having trouble with his suppliers again, which is disappointing, but not unexpected.  We'll have to get involved ourselves, make them a bit more... pliant.  But right now, I'm more concerned about Balville, I think he's been holding out on us again.  Ron, you will need to pay him a..."

There was a shout from outside.  "Stand by to board 'em, me hearties!" the voice yelled.  There was a muffled thump.

"Ron," the lynx hissed, "Find out what's happening."

Ron made it halfway to the door when it shattered with a splintering crash, knocking the unfortunate camel backwards where he lay very still.

"Hands up, land-lubbers," Daryil said.  He was dressed in an authentic uniform used by the Altlarian Navy about eight centuries earlier, complete with tri-corned hat, an eyepatch and a cutlass that he held with expert precision.

"Who the fuck is this idiot?" the lynx snapped, and then choked as Daryil's enforcers arrived - a Demon panther who grabbed him by the throat with one arm, and his colleague with the other.  Clawing ineffectually at the Demon's toughened skin, the lynx noticed another enforcer, a muscular Alsatian hound in light adventuring armour.  He had the leathery wings of an incubus and had subdued the remaining member of their party, all except for Ron the camel, who was still motionless upon the floor.

"I's the Captain," Daryil announced, and gestured at the lynx.  "Throw 'im down, Bosun," he said, and no sooner was the cat on the ground than Daryil's blade was digging gently but firmly into his throat.  "Nice and easy, lads, or ye'll be shark bait."

"Milord," the Alsatian said, "There are no sharks in Grunmore, milord.  It's land-locked."

"Arr, that it be," the fox said.  "But ye be forgettin' one thing, Nigel lad... the swimmin' pool in Worple Road.  'Tis next on our list to plunder and pillage, and once it be ours, we'll fill it wi' sharks.  They'll walk the plank yet!"

"Very good, Milord," Nigel said.

"Captain," Daryil said, dangerously.   "Aye, Cap'n!" the Alsatian said, snapping to a quick salute.

Ron lay where he was, but one eye was half open.  Slowly and carefully he drew out a flick-knife and threw it at Nigel's back, between both wings.  He gave a grunt of pain and staggered, almost throttling his captive as he went down.  Captain Daryil didn't even turn his head, but Ron flared up in a burst of light and somehow became a rather large pile of camel-coloured sand.

"That were a stupid thing to do," Daryil said and the cutlass moved infinitesimally, drawing out a small bead of crimson that trickled down the blade from the lynx' throat.  "Stabbin' me First Mate in the back..."

The dagger popped out of Nigel's back, leaving it clean and healed.  "Thank you, Milord," he gasped.

"What say ye, my lad?" Daryil asked, "We should keel-haul the lot o' them."

"I agree, my Captain," Nigel said venomously, and wincing with each breath.  "Sadly, this is a council house and it doesn't have a keel.  But hypothetically, if we are going to ignore our usual conventions against harming Beings, could we please hang them by the yard-arm instead?"

"Nay," Daryil said, after a long pause.  "I says they should walk the plank at Worple Road, 'tis more nautical.  But for now, clap 'em in irons, we'll settle their fate later."  As he spoke, a set of manacles appeared in the floor and the wall.  Nigel and the Demon got to work, and none too gently.

Safely restrained, the dealers looked on helplessly as Daryil began to rummage through the desks, sweeping what documents and papers he found into a briefcase.  Nigel watched him for a while, before locating a large plant pot and headed towards Ron's remains, sweeping the late enforcer into it as a sort of makeshift urn.  Resisting the urge to desecrate the powdered camel's remains took all his strength.

"Bosun Istov!" the Captain said, "Fetch me the treasure, it must be nearby!"  The Demon gave a quick salute and ran upstairs, followed shortly by what sounded like some kind of major demolition work.  The lynx arched slightly and struggled against his bonds.

"I found these, Cap'n!" the Demon said, holding up a tea-chest filled with bags of white powder.  The lynx suddenly went limp.

"Booty!" Daryil cried.  "But it bain't the treasure.  Keep searchin'!"

Nigel stared hard at the lynx, studying his emotions.  The Being got more and more agitated the closer he got to a particular desk, so he lifted it up, wings flowing slightly to reinforce his already muscular arms.  The desk was lighter than he had expected and crashed into the wall, shattering.  Underneath it was a small hole cut into the foundations of the house.  Inside it was a small strongbox.

"Treasure, Cap'n!" he yelled, and broke it open as the Demon returned, which he did by assuming a foetal position and rolling down the stairs as a ball of toughened flesh.  The three of them gazed in awe at a fine collection of gold dollars, credit chits and account details.

The sun rose that morning to the sight of a winged privateer, standing upon the roof the house and staring into the distance with an ornate brass telescope.  Beside him flew the flag of Daryil clan.

* * *

"What?" the succubus said as the call came in.  "I left strict instructions I was not to be disturbed."

"Lady Finch... It's him!  He bought number 19.  He's... doing something to it."

"Are you sure it was him?"

"'Course I'm sure.  Who else would be dressed as a pirate with three pairs of wings?"

"Dimanika perhaps, but I'll take your word for it.  If it is him, what is he doing now?" the wolf frowned, her leathery red headwings drooping slightly as worry and uncertainty crept into her voice.

"Mowing the lawn, I think."

"That doesn't mean anything.  You're certain he modified the house?"

"He did.  He cast spells at it, cleaned up the paintwork and things like that.  Then he went inside and I heard a lot of power tools, and eventually he took out most of the kitchen fittings and dumped them on the lawn.  But then the trucks showed up.  Just now.  They were delivering something white, it looked kind of like gravel but there was far too much of it and it didn't sound right when it poured."

"What did he do with it?"

"Holy gods... It's gone!"

"What?  All of it?  Where?"

"I don't know, it happened while I was looking away!"

"He must have done something to... very well," the succubus said.  "You will go inside.  Wait until night and break and enter if necessary but I want you in that house.  Explore it - I can probably drop off a sonar unit.  Make sure he hasn't been digging tunnels.  And find out what he did with all this... 'gravel'."

"You think he suspects?"

"'Suspects' nothing.  Why else would he be muscling in on our territory?  He knows.  He knows about Project Epsilon."

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


It's getting pretty interesting.

I was laughing at Cass's big moment ruined by a gift from Daryil to his clan. Now we get to see him work as a pirate captain. Getting lots of Daryil time this story.

Though I was starting to wonder when that Panther first showed up that Imac might have gotten some newer body type upgrade. Though it is rather amusing to see Daryil pillaging the different criminal elements of his newly acquired town. This is all happening in his new town, right?
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


*objects to the mistreatment of fellow lynxes*

Seriously though, raising a pirate flag above the building was hillarious - I imagined the whole process as similar to the Crimson Permanent Assurance Monty Python sketch.

EDIT: Thanks for pointing out, Tape. *is a dumblynx*
What i cannot create, i do not understand. - Richard P. Feynman
This is DMFA. Where major species don't understand clothing. So innuendo is overlooked for nuendo. .


Quote from: VAE on March 09, 2012, 11:29:38 PM
*objects to the mistreatment of fellow lynxes*

Seriously though, raising a pirate flag above the building was hillarious - I imagined the whole process as similar to the Crimson Accountancy Monty Python sketch.

The Crimson Permanent Assurance?  I hadn't thought of that, I was thinking more of Yellowbeard at the time.  The idea actually occurred to me when reading Treasure Island over Christmas.

And yes, most of this is happening in Grunmore.

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


Whoops, I was so busy focussing on writing later chapters, I almost forgot it was update day.  For those who read the Tenets, this chapter should explain one of the questions raised about it.

Chapter 6

Nicholaus was a cuckoo.  Not literally - he was actually a black-backed jackal - but figuratively, a child dropped into a foster family for them to raise.  This sometimes happened with Creatures - especially desperate ones - and usually the trick was to assume the form of someone's husband and impregnate them.

Those particularly skilled in the art would do so in the night, stunning the husband in their sleep and hiding them until the deed had been done so they would have no idea anything was out of the ordinary until the pregnancy occurred.

Nick was one of these, and while he had no idea who his biological father was, his surrogate father had taken the blow well and brought Nick up as his own son.
As he had grown older, Nick had been fascinated by the fact that he was a Creature and had, at appropriate points in his life, begun to watch for signs that he was coming into his powers.

At 16 he was somewhat disappointed that he hadn't gained the ability to uproot trees like a regular Demon would, but he consoled himself with the fact that Demons tended to be evil, and anyway the whole cuckoo thing was a party trick of incubi and occasionally succubi.  So he waited a bit longer.

At 21 he witnessed a multiple vehicle pile-up and tried unsuccessfully to heal one of the injured, who despite his best efforts, died before the emergency services could arrive.  During counselling, a small pair of wings appeared on the back of his head.

Nick's fascination with discovering his race was rekindled and he plunged into studies of 'Cubi, poring for hours over a list of known 'Cubi clans, reading everything he could find about the race, and wondering when his own mark would appear, and what it would be.

Partly because of his failure at the crash scene and partly to try and activate his clan mark, he took to magic far more seriously than he had in his youth and his efforts were soon rewarded.

Checking himself over one night he found the mark had appeared on his back and his soaring joy turned suddenly into an icy lump of horror as he recognised the clan marking.  He was a member of Clan Jyraneth.

* * *

Richard was on the phone when Syd entered the classroom, deep in some conversation.  "...haven't given me much to go on," he was saying.  "No name, no description...   Okay, fair enough, but you can't expect it to be easy to find...  Okay, call you back later.  Love you, bye!"

Before Syd could ask any questions, the door opened again and a particularly scruffy incubus sauntered in, closing it behind himself.

"Welcome," he said.  "I am Professor Falkirk, and I will be teaching the introductory shapeshifting classes."

The professor was an ungroomed poodle with grey feathery wings.  Some of his fur had been inexpertly shaved and cut back to try and keep it under some semblance of control and in blatant defiance of the clothing guidelines for professors, he was dressed only in a pair of shiny black leather jeans not unlike Richard's but only slightly too small.  This, combined with his unkempt, shoulder-length hair gave him the vague appearance of a gay floor-mop on the prowl.

"Er, professor," Sheila said, "I've seen the dress code, and... well... no offence, but are you supposed to be dressed like that?"

"No," he replied simply.  "Now.  You didn't hear this from me, but I have it on good authority that next week will be given over to a field trip for the freshers, i.e. you lot.

"That is why we will be rushing straight into basic shapeshifting, because we need to be sure that everyone will be able to hide their wings on the trip."

"Why would we wanna do that?" piped up the white jackal.

"Ah, Richard, isn't it?" the professor said, trying unsuccessfully to brush the hair out from his eyes.  "I've heard a bit about you."

"Thanks," Richard beamed.  "But why should we hide our wings?  Why should we conceal our glorious heritage?"

"Well," he said, "See if you can figure it out by the end of the lesson.  Otherwise, that will be your homework for today."

"It allows you to get close to your prey so you can murder them more easily," Sheila said, and the jackal looked extremely pleased.  For his part, the professor gave a particularly convincing impression of not having heard any of this, despite the fact that he had been looking straight at them the whole time.

* * *

"Okay," Professor Falkirk decided, once everyone had the basics.  "I think you've got the hang of that.  Susan, you probably want to hide either both sides of your wings or none at all... having just the left ones out looks kind of silly and it will affect your balance.

"Some of you knew how to do this already," his eyes roamed from Sheila to Daniel and finally Sydney.  "And that's not unusual.  Hiding things is the easiest kind of shapeshifting for a 'Cubi to learn, and that's good as a survival trait.  Indeed, without the ability to easily hide ourselves, the 'Cubi race might well have been wiped out completely during the Dragon Wars.

"Now, it's possible to use meditation to lock the shift in place more permanently, say if you needed to live as a Being for 20 years or something..."  Richard sniffed at this.

"...prevent you from reverting to base form if you lose consciousness.  But that takes some time to learn, time we don't have before the camping trip starts, and frankly you shouldn't need it for this little outing anyway.  So instead, I'm going to teach you a handy trick that is fun and easy to learn, but is likely to prove completely irrelevant to your trip."

So saying, he opened his briefcase, drawing out a bunsen burner and a large cylinder of camping gas, which couldn't possibly have fit inside it.  Setting it all up, the professor turned on the gas and ignited it with a click of his fingers.  When he was sure it was burning steadily, he adjusted the ring at the bottom of the device and set the flame to its most fierce.  Then he passed his hand through it.

"Anyone can do that," Richard said.  "Even a Being.  You're not spending enough time in the flame for it to burn you."

The professor said nothing, but calmly placed his hand in the jet again, and kept it there for about seven seconds.  Then he moved it to the hottest part of the flame and began flicking at it.  There were several gasps from the class, and even Richard seemed impressed.  Finally, Professor Falkirk removed his hand from the burner and grasped a piece of paper, leaving only a small amount of soot on it.

"Element resistance," he announced.  "Specifically, heat resistance.  Don't you try this just yet," he told Richard, "You'll melt your gloves."

"Frankly, I'm not supposed to be doing this," he continued, "But I figure we may as well give it a go and see what happens."  He shut off the bunsen burner, and put it back in the briefcase.

"Obviously, I can't start you off on candles or the like just yet," he said, rummaging around, "Since without some degree of control you'll risk setting your fur alight and we can't have that.  Burnt fur smells appalling and I would probably lose my job or face serious demotion.  Particularly since I'm not officially doing this yet.   So keep it quiet, okay?"

As he spoke, he removed from his briefcase an improbable number of fan heaters, and plugged them all in.

"Roll up, folks," he called out as the heaters warmed up.  "Step right up!  Gather round and witness the amazing secret!  I'll tell you how this is done.  Just concentrate, and you should feel the temperature drop off.  Richard, Kath, Aary, Matt... anyone else with gloves... you'll need to remove them for this."

"Remove...?" Richard seemed appalled.

"Well, yes," the poodle sighed.  "Either you won't feel it, or worse, the heat may damage them."

With strange reluctance, Richard gingerly took off his left glove but no amount of coaxing nor taunts would induce him to remove the other, or even explain why not.

* * *

It was gone ten when Lord Daryil finally packed up and left.  Evan had been watching for some hours, expecting him to leave when the sun set, but no... as the light faded, the incubus conjured up a number of lights which floated above the garden.  He continued to work, trimming hedges, replacing with loving care the crumbling trellises and fencework that had long since succumbed to the rot and ruin of neglect.
Eventually Evan realised that the work was winding down... indeed, there wasn't much left that could be done, even the garden shed had been replaced.  But, he realised, he's never once been in the house since the kitchen fittings were removed.

With bated breath, he waited for the incubus to teleport away, and then, once he was sure he was alone, climbed down from his tree.  Lady Finch had not yet been able to ship him the sonar unit, but there was no reason he had to do the entire mission in a single night.  For now his plan was to quickly - and without detection - break into the house and look around, just to scope the place out and give him some idea of what to expect when he returned for a more thorough investigation.

The alligator took from one pocket a small device, monitoring RF signals from the house - the sort that would be generated by a burglar alarm or similar microprocessor device.  He circled No.19 entirely - the readings were negligible... probably spillover from the adjacent properties.  No lights or any other warnings came on as he completed the circuit and did another pass, this time with a device checking for magic.  If there had been any, it was probably too late, but the magic and electronics scanners tended to interfere with each other so it was a risk he had to take.  But again, it came up virtually blank.

The lack of security was starting to worry Evan now, but even so he made his way to the back door.  Perhaps he spent so long on the garden he didn't have time to set anything up.  Perhaps he doesn't think there's anything worth protecting...

The sole security measure appeared to consist of a simple cylinder lock and a sign saying 'DANGER: DO NOT ENTER'.  Out of habit, Evan took out the scanners again, probing more closely.  Yes!  Some semblance of security at last... a very weak spell on the sign.  But it didn't seem to be powerful enough to do anything useful.  Maybe it lit up when someone opened the door...

He turned his attention to the lock.  Lady Finch had given him the key The Family had used to enter No.19, but whatever else Daryil had or had not done, he had at least changed the lock.  Reassured, Evan took out his tools and began to jimmy it.  Easy enough.  He looked around furtively, and sent a text message to the Lady, letting her know that he was about to enter.

Taking a deep breath, Evan gingerly turned the handle, stepping to one side in case it flew open somehow.  It did, and the alligator was immediately buried in an avalanche of ten millimetre nylon washers.  Though he couldn't see it, the warning sign had changed to read "I TOLD YOU SO".

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


Daryl never ceases to amuse me... To be frank I expected something to do with lollipops, but washers are equally Daryl-ish

(credit: Gabi)


Daryil certainly likes to play his games. I wonder if Daryil even new he was being spied upon or was the trap made for anyone that used that door?

Seems like Richard has has a thing about one of his hands. Maybe an old injury or perhaps a clan mark?

Falkirk seems like a fun teacher, keeping learning fun is a great way to keep the students learning.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.



(credit: Gabi)

llearch n'n'daCorna

Quote from: joshofspam on March 24, 2012, 01:19:08 PM
Seems like Richard has has a thing about one of his hands. Maybe an old injury or perhaps a clan mark?

Can't be a clan mark. He'd be proud of that, wouldn't he?

And an injury seems out of character, since it'd mostly heal itself, what with magic and all. So... yeah. I'm at a bit of a loss as to why that particular item is present, and what it signifies...
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"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on March 26, 2012, 01:17:42 PM
Quote from: joshofspam on March 24, 2012, 01:19:08 PM
Seems like Richard has has a thing about one of his hands. Maybe an old injury or perhaps a clan mark?

Can't be a clan mark. He'd be proud of that, wouldn't he?

And an injury seems out of character, since it'd mostly heal itself, what with magic and all. So... yeah. I'm at a bit of a loss as to why that particular item is present, and what it signifies...
maybe him and his parents are from a clan he looks "down" upon and split off of?

(credit: Gabi)


Chapter 7

Nick had been wandering around the supermarket, piling his basket high with large globes of something brightly coloured and slightly squishy that he couldn't quite identify.

The jackal picked another globe off the shelf, trying to work out whether they were individually priced or sold by weight, and the basket had turned into a shopping trolley while his back was turned.  That seemed inconsequential at the time, but he started to get a bit worried when he couldn't find the checkout and got progressively more and more lost inside the maze of a gigantic hypermart that had been nothing more than a corner shop when he had entered it.

A voice boomed out and the sky turned black, and the supermarket had somehow become a square, ancient and decrepit.  For a few moments he still held one of the soft globes in his hand, but then it was gone.

"A child..." the voice boomed.  "A new child, after so long!" and then her voice cracked like a whip, as if repelled by something.  "But raised by Beings!!  A half-breed... the wickedest of all heresies!  Who would dare...?!"

And suddenly she was before him, a strange and terrible jackal with three pairs of leathery grey wings... on her head, on her back and on her hips.  Her fur was white, but it flowed into darkness and where the two met was a pattern of cracks and fissures... something between the fractured surface of old porcelain and dark runes that almost glowed with malignant power.

"Who are you?" he asked.  Her reply was an incoherent shriek of rage and fury, causing Nick to stagger slightly.

"You were born as one of my Chosen," she said coldly, "You would have, should have grown to be a bold warrior in our holy crusade against the blasphemous taint of Beings... instead you ally yourself with them in defiance of the sacred teachings!"

"How do you know?" Nick asked.

"I can see the sin in your very soul, heretic!  You even tried to save the life of an enemy!" she screamed, as if the younger jackal had murdered her first-born child.  "As an apostate, you are beyond redemption, and so... you shall share the fate of all others who have betrayed me and the gods I serve.  KNEEL!"

Nick gave a cry of pain as a figure - entirely shrouded in black - grasped his hands and pinned them behind him, forcing him to his knees.  Another figure raised the sword and brought it down swiftly upon him as the Lady watched, cackling with malicious pleasure.

For a few moments everything was unreal and hazy as his severed head flew into the air to be caught in mid-arc by the Lady Herself.  His vision was fading to grey as She stared into his eyes... as the life ebbed from him, her eyes flashed and he could feel Her power bursting his very soul, shattering it, shattering him... extinguishing him utterly as She had destroyed so many other unfortunates condemned for heresy, for a crime he hadn't even known existed...

Nicholaus lay in bed, his black and yellow fur matted with sweat and his eyes wide with terror.  He had read that a tri-winged Leader could communicate with their younger descendants while they slept - but he still wasn't quite sure if it had really happened to him or not.  If it had been real and not just a dream, he knew one thing... Jyraneth wanted him dead.

* * *

Daryil stared out from an apartment in the tower block, gazing out over Grunmore.  Ruler of all I survey, he thought.  Well, up to the motorway, anyway.  He turned his attention back to the apartment - it was squalid and generally rather nasty, and he couldn't help but feel a sharp pang of guilt and unhappiness.  So this is how the other half live, he thought.  It was extremely depressing.

Leaning back in the chair, Daryil thought hard, considering the problem at hand.  The mess that was Grunmore was a mélange of so many different factors - poverty, crime, unemployment, drugs - that it seemed almost intractable.  But he had time.

Even Daryil couldn't wave his hand and make everyone happy and rich... not without enslaving the entire district and holding their minds in sway, at any rate.  And that was something which he had not only sworn not to do, but even if he hadn't, it was downright nasty and quite definitely against the spirit of his own Book of Tenets.  One had to provide a good example to one's children, after all...

No, there had been several generations of unemployed here, and that tended to work out badly.  Some of them had children for the sole purpose of increasing their benefits.  And to make matters worse, a run-down area like this also tended to have the problem that the sort of jobs available to the long-term unemployed and the various intertwined benefits could easily mean that you would earn less in an honest job than you would by remaining on benefit.

Back in the days of Ha'Khun, things had not been quite so complex.  What had worked then might very well not apply to the case of Grunmore, but nonetheless, Daryil decided that it was time he had a word with Lord Page, see if he had any insight into an urban renewal project such as this.

Ultimately he hoped to set up a Jayhawk manufacturing plant here, and that alone would benefit Grunmore considerably since a proportion of the earnings from the plant could be fed back into the local community.  The clan's wealth was not infinite and a little more dependent on Jayhawk with its relatively few sites than he would really have liked.  More production facilities and new product ranges would help secure things, but it was a long term project.

One of the other problems with Grunmore was that the plant would need an educated workforce and there had developed an unfortunate belief that education was for suckers.  That was something which Daryil was determined to change, but it would take time...

We'll have to start small, he thought to himself.  Where can we begin?  He tried to call Jakob, but the wolf's phone was turned off.  Oh yeah, he'll be with Dax tonight, he thought, and spent a few happy moments picturing the scene.  I wonder if Simeon's busy tonight?  But he shook himself... there was work to be done first.

Daryil took one last look out across the district before leaving, and his gaze dwelt upon the lush farmland he had mentioned to Jakob during the negotiations.  Porridge, he thought, and a frighteningly toothy grin flowed across his muzzle.

* * *

"Yes," Richard told the phone.  "...With a sort of black and tan pattern.  Look, I'm running low again.  Really gotta get this thing a new battery.  Love you too!  Bye..."

"So," Syd was saying as the jackal returned, "If it's not that, how is the school funded?"

"Donations, mostly," Sheila replied.  "They get a stipend from King Fairwater and recurring donations from a number of clans.  Taun provides about 20% of the funding, actually."

"Who's the largest contributor?" Richard asked, radiating curiosity.

"Daryil provides about 57.18% of their funding, and the clan has a majority stake on the school board."

Richard looked appalled for a second and continued to generate a dull background feeling of horror for some time afterwards.

"Oh come on," the Border scowled.  "Daryil may be mad, but he's not stupid.  Look at Jayhawk, for instance.  A world leader in cybernetics and prosthesis, and it's that which finances most of their donations.
"Look, if the school's curriculum centred on decorating bananas or something equally useless, do you really think so many students would attend?
"No, whatever else Daryil may get up to, his touch on the school has been light.  Where is it...?"  She dug out her copy of the school prospectus.

"Frequently asked questions... here we are.
Q. Clan Daryil holds a majority stake on the school board.  Should I worry?
A. No.  Daryil is on record stating that he supports the school for the good
   of the 'Cubi race as a whole, not to impose his Clan's doctrine upon its
   students.  The school board has adopted his suggestion to ensure that all teaching remains neutral and is not biased towards or against any given Clan's ideals, except where they may endanger the student or our race.
Richard sighed and threw up a shiny gloved hand as the horror ebbed away.  "Okay, okay.  Anyway, we better get packing."

* * *

"As most of you will be aware," Lady Finch began, glancing around the board room, "The so-called Lord Daryil has recently taken control of Grunmore."  Some of the others shifted uncomfortably as the she-wolf's gaze passed over them.

"Is it true that he entered Cash-Fur-Cheques and while yelling imprecations, spilled all their money on the floor and knocked over all their tables and desks before smashing them up with a sledgehammer?" a feline incubus asked.

"Unfortunately, yes.  The employees are still too afraid to return and this has impacted some of our cash flow.  Daryil has also obtained a majority stake in a struggling cafe known as "Arnold's".  It is almost directly opposite C-Fur-C."

"A cafe...?  He's planning something..." a hare succubus muttered.

The head of the table was taken up by a male raccoon who lacked any wings, but somehow exuded the ageless confidence of a Creature.  "What does he know about the Project?" he asked sharply.

"That I cannot tell you, Professor," Lady Finch said. "However, I believe we may at least be able to put a halt to his incursions."

"Indeed...?  What are you proposing?"

"If my sources are correct, believe we have pinpointed his youngest child, the last he had prior to his ascension - the last he can ever have.  This incubus has recently come of age, and we will take him hostage.  If Daryil refuses to cooperate, we will execute his son."

"That's a terrible thing to do to a fellow 'Cubi," one of the others said.  "It's not like the poor sod has any say in the matter himself."

"I know," Lady Finch sighed.  "But Project Epsilon is too important for an idiot like Daryil to interfere with.  If completing it means we have to sacrifice a member of a rival clan for the greater good, then that is unfortunate, but part of the price we have to pay.  Personally I believe Daryil will take the hint and back off, which frankly, is all we really need.  Once the project is completed, we can release the child."

"I don't think we need to go that far," The Professor objected.  "Besides, can you imagine his reaction if his youngest son was murdered...?  He would destroy us all, body and soul!  But I can see an alternative.
"You see, if we take the child hostage as you have suggested, we will have a naive young incubus.  As with most Daryil members, he is likely to have grown up entirely ignorant of his heritage - I believe Daryil considers it to be 'a nice surprise' for when they grow up.  Be that as it may, he will not know the Daryil way of life... and while he is in our care we can teach him our way.  If the project lasts long enough, we will have turned an enemy... into an ally."

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


"foreshadowing as subtle as a steamroller"
Also I presume that child is from fear's child...

(credit: Gabi)


... Wow these people are really stupid. The fact that they're even thinking about using one of Daryil's children in even any of their schemes must mean they have a death wish. I mean the guy had his lover murdered and he declared outright war and ate souls. What do you expect now that he's a tri-wing? Genocidal rampage, Taun gettting involved, dragons flying in formation across the sky, the sun and moon pulling troll faces. Seriously those guys need to shelve those plans.   


Quote from: justacritic on April 06, 2012, 11:13:06 PM
... Wow these people are really stupid. The fact that they're even thinking about using one of Daryil's children in even any of their schemes must mean they have a death wish. I mean the guy had his lover murdered and he declared outright war and ate souls. What do you expect now that he's a tri-wing? Genocidal rampage, Taun gettting involved, dragons flying in formation across the sky, the sun and moon pulling troll faces. Seriously those guys need to shelve those plans.   
Also makes me wonder WHO would be as foolhardy to do that.
also I think the moon making troll faces is something Daryl would do, but really, are they so stupid as too think about kidnapping Daryl's kid? that would basically give away their position ASAP.

(credit: Gabi)


J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


Nicholaus should try and make contact with Fa'lina, he would be pretty safe in saia, and maybe he can even "join" the Ja'fell

(credit: Gabi)


Considering Daryil has a habit of getting the better of people who try to get the better of him. I would have thought the safe thing to do was pull up all their plans and move somewhere else with their project.

From what little they probably would know, they could probably come to the conclusion that Daryil is a person more into productive development that benefits all races. He's basically a person that helps people.

So either there very stupid or this project their working on must be something that puts them at odds. Maybe a little of both.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Umm... Interesting questions, everyone. Mine is probably not as interesting, but it still puzzles me: Cash-Fur-Checks?
~~ Gabi a.k.a. Gliynn Starseed, APF ~~
Thanks to Silver for the yappities, and to everyone for being so great!
(12:28:12) llearch: Gabi is equal-opportunity friendly


Quote from: Gabi on April 07, 2012, 03:53:47 PM
Umm... Interesting questions, everyone. Mine is probably not as interesting, but it still puzzles me: Cash-Fur-Checks?

I wondered whether that would come up, since one of my proofreaders didn't know about such places either, despite living in a country which is economically 'not all there', shall we say.
It will be fleshed out around chapter 9, for what it's worth.  And I could explain it now, but I'm curious to see if anyone else will first.

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


Quote from: Gabi on April 07, 2012, 03:53:47 PM
Umm... Interesting questions, everyone. Mine is probably not as interesting, but it still puzzles me: Cash-Fur-Checks?
I'd also like to know what that is...

(credit: Gabi)

llearch n'n'daCorna

In the UK, there is a historical usage of cash for cheques, that being places that will extend your living allowance by accepting cheques, and not cashing them until after your next payday, and supplying you with some, but not all, of the face value of the cheque in question.

They make their money off the difference between the face value and the price paid. For those who are short of cash, this can be a way of stretching what cash they have until their next payday. Of course, it's not terribly bright, since _next_ month, they're just as likely to end up just as short or more so, since they'll have already spent more than they have earned.

It's a nice little earner for the shops in question.
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Ahh, thanks no wonder I had no idea what those are.. It's a UK thing :P

(no offense intended to any english folk here)

(credit: Gabi)

llearch n'n'daCorna

Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on April 08, 2012, 03:38:47 AM
None taken.
Funny that I have no real nationality, I'm basically a stranger in every country I go.
'tis the life of a wanderer

(credit: Gabi)