[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: Gabi on June 02, 2012, 11:52:21 AM
Cubi are far from invincible. We can speculate all we want, but we won't know for sure what happened until Tape posts again. In any case, interesting dynamics between Syd and Sheila, and Nick and Dan!

Thanks.  The next one looks to coincide with Anthrocon, so I haven't decided what to do about that one yet.  I might post it early, in case I can't post from at the 'con itself.

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



A school falls, That doesn't sound to good considering with the cubi history, the school would have probably at least some kind of defence.

Oh boy, things are picking up.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


To be fair, this was the best time to do it - the first years are on a field trip and the later years haven't returned from break yet, so the only resistance was from a handful of staff.

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


Chapter 13

No-one spoke.  Professor Falkirk stared back at the sloth for some time.  Finally he came to a decision.  "Say that again," he said.

"Illiath's School for Incubi and Succubi... it has been attacked.  They overwhelmed our defences and we have lost control of the premises.  The school has been routed.  We're trying to warn the older students that their term won't be starting next week, but that's the most we can do!"

"Who would dare attack the school!?  Beings?  Adventurers?"  the professor demanded.

"'Cubi," Professor Shreve said.  "All in black, like the Jyraneth Raiders of old..."  The poodle's unkempt fur jumped - it was too heavy to remain standing on end and fell back into its original position.

"That's impossible," Sheila said.  "The Jyraneth are scattered.  Most of the known survivors have abandoned their mistress just as she abandoned them."

"I quite agree," Falkirk replied.  "I've met most of them.  It's very disturbing that this coincided with activity from Jyraneth, but I still feel it's more likely the work of another clan masquerading as them."

"That may be," Professor Shreve said, "But nonetheless, the school is closed and we are isolated!  Headmistress Illiath has gone into hiding and cannot be reached.  We're on our own, and if I'm not mistaken, that leaves you in charge.  What shall we do, deputy headmaster?"

* * *

Lady Finch sat in her usual position near the head of boardroom table.  The Professor was at the end as usual, along with a number of key aides opposite her, and a shadowed figure was talking to them all via a video link.

"What do you mean, 'not there'...?" She demanded.  "You had the descriptions for both of them... Rick was there just yesterday!  Where is he now?!"

"The school was mostly deserted, Lady!" the shadowy figure said.  "There were many staff present, but most of them have fled now.  Some of the student dormitories have possessions in them, however.  It's like they've abandoned the place!"

"Interrogate any captive staff and find out what has happened!  If anything has happened to them..." she made a threatening gesture and cut the link.

"How could this have happened?!" she wailed.  "I gave them strict instructions that he was not to be harmed and now... he's gone!  The school... they knew... They've taken him hostage!"

"I doubt he's in any danger," The Professor soothed.  "After all, we can trade his life for the lives of the staff now in our tender care.  All the same, it has caused a lot of problems.  Capturing Daryil's child will be considerably riskier - he will surely have been alerted to the attack by now."

* * *

Daryil stood in one of the expansive rooms of his Arctic palace, wearing only a pair of Wellington boots and some boxer shorts.  It should have been cold, and in some ways it was, but Daryil's body was really an avatar he had created for the purpose and not completely alive, so the fact it was -40 degrees didn't really bother him.

Any other building in the Arctic would have some form of heating to bring it to a temperature approaching habitable, but Daryil's palace was different, being made entirely from out-of-date vanilla ice-cream.  Hence it had to be kept at a low temperature to prevent it from melting.


This room of the palace had an indoor golf course.  Nothing fancy, but it worked.  To make it more difficult he had begun experimenting with unusual objects, in this case, a cherry tomato.  Frozen solid, of course.  He'd tried it with fresh produce but it had got very messy, very quickly and walls made from ice-cream were particularly difficult to wash.  This way was better, because the ball would remain frozen indefinitely...

Daryil beamed as the tomato sunk into the hole.  But then his smile began to waver - he was being called back at base and it was sufficiently important that he needed full concentration.  He closed his eyes and vanished, leaving the golf club to clatter down upon the hard vanilla floor.

"We have a suspect," Nigel was saying.

"Captured, or just a name?"

"Captured," Nigel said happily, wagging his tail.  "One Keith Edmonton.  Being.  Do you wish to interrogate him?"

"Immediately," Daryil said, and part of him was in Grunmore.  His hair became white and flowing, his eyes ruby red.

* * *

"Do you know who I am?" Daryil asked casually.  The Being gave him a listless shrug.  "Lord Daryil," he said.

"Indeed.  Did it occur to you that killing someone under my protection might not be a very clever idea?  That it might shorten your lifespan considerably, and quite possibly endanger your very soul?"

"Yes, it did."

"And yet you went ahead with it anyway," Daryil said.  "I don't have many enemies, and that made it difficult to decide what I should do to you once you were caught.  I had thought of destroying your brain, making every cell rupture itself at once.  Or possibly something slower if you proved difficult... making them rupture in a pattern so you live long to experience your mind dying.
"However," he continued.  "That would be a bit wasteful.  And at the same time I have a number of Demons in my employ.  Unlike 'Cubi, Demons need to eat, and they need to eat a lot, regularly.  So I've decided it would be best if I fed you to them."  The Being looked at the floor and began to shiver.

"I will have your execution filmed and sent to your employer as proof," Daryil declared.  "Maybe send copies to your family as well."

"Enough!" the Being said.  "I'll talk.  Do what you want to me afterwards, just leave them out of this!"

"That's more like it," Daryil said, and produced a small orange lolly which he ate.  "First of all, I need to know who your employer is."

"How did you plan to send them the film if you didn't know?"  Keith asked.

"Oh, I'd have been able to work that out in the end.  But a confession would be much more useful.  And it would put me in a much better mood."

* * *

"Well, we're not entirely clear on what happened," detective inspector Lorraine said.  "As near as we can tell someone appeared in the middle of the Warholtz police building and embarked upon a systematic massacre of all within."

"Were there any survivors?" the husky asked, glancing up sharply.

"Only one, a 'Cubi."

"Not a Demon or an Angel?"

"No, sir.  There were two Demons on staff, but they did not survive the attack - the succubus only did by hiding.  She shapeshifted into a desk.  You can talk to her later if you like, but she's still a bit shell-shocked.  'Cubi being emotionally fragile and all."

"They also used plastic explosives to destroy the photocopier," the inspector added.

"To attract the attention of survivors, I guess.  So, I'd say the intruder was another Demon, who teleported in and killed them all.  Sounds like a disgruntled employee to me."

"No, sir... we've checked the cameras.  They're a two-channel setup, records video and magic simultaneously. We checked both views - the killer was not a Creature."

Joshua Oswald blinked owlishly.  "Then what the hell was it?"

"We were hoping you might be able to answer that, sir."

"Show me the security tapes," Josh decided.

* * *

"Well?"  Daryil asked, bouncing up and down in his seat as Nigel's call came in.

"It worked," the Alsatian said proudly.  "I went to the dead-drop to pick up Keith's money, disguised as him.  You know he was only paid 10 grand for that?"

"Yes," Daryil said.  "They were leaning on him and his family.  Not an enviable position to be in.  I can kind of sympathise with him, to be honest."

"You aren't thinking of letting him go?" Nigel asked, horrified.  "Not after what he's done!"

"No," Daryil said.  "But I think 10 years should be enough.  Suspended if we get Arnold back before sentencing.  In the meantime, see that he's comfortable and assuming he doesn't have allergies, give him some chocolate ice-cream for his good behaviour."

"Chocolate ice-cream," Nigel repeated as he wrote it down.

"With nuts," Daryil clarified.  "And a low-fat dairy topping.  What were we talking about again?"

"I got the money," the Alsatian said, regaining the flow.  "And as you suspected, someone was waiting to silence him when he picked it up.  I guess the idea was to drag him off and kill him somewhere out of sight, probably with their tentacles.  They weren't expecting another 'Cubi, certainly not one with tentacle-heads.  They fled after that."

"Were you able to identify them?" Daryil wanted to know.  "Which clan they were from?"

"I got some feathers," Nigel told him.  "I've sent one off to the 'Cubi Registry, see if they can identify the DNA."

* * *

"What I'd really like to know is why Xanathar didn't foresee this happening,"  Sheila said.  Professor Falkirk spun around to face her as if stung, and his headwings had fanned out slightly.

"How do you know about Xanathar...?" he demanded.  "Who told you?"

"I read a lot," Sheila said.  "It was in the prospectus."

"That busybody... I should have overruled her... knew we should never have listed our security defences in... look, nevermind.  The fact is, Xanathar can only see things the students and staff are likely to do.  It can't foresee external events, nor can it track us when we're outside the academy."

"Um, who is Xanathar?" Syd asked, confused.

"Xanathar is a thing, not a person.  It's a cluster of Jayhawk brains, 2048 nodes, all wired into the students and staff.  It's designed to be non-sentient while still retaining the intuitive and predictive functions normally associated with a higher consciousness.  It taps into your own consciousness through your student union card - or a similar device carried by staff and visitors - and is able to predict emotional states within the school to a high degree of accuracy."

"What for?" Richard asked.  "Why are you spying on us?  Is it because of Daryil?"

"No.  It's because ISIS doesn't have someone like Fa'Lina in the school who is able to know the future.  With a school filled with over-emotional 'Cubi and various rival clans, we need a way to detect fights and harrassment before they get serious, and that's what Xanathar does.  All this information is contained within Xanathar and while we can query it and have it generate reports, it is not self-aware and whatever it perceives is private, contained inside its memory banks and inaccessible to us.  We cannot read its thoughts because it's not sentient.
"The downside is that it requires a month or so to train itself to each student and it can only forecast events relating to people it knows about.  Predicting an invasion would be out of the question... unless one of the students was in on it," he added ominously.

"Now.  Nick, Sydney... We will have to pick this up later, in the meantime you are welcome to stay with the camp, Nick.  Everyone else, we must pack up immediately.  So far the attackers seem to have missed out on the camping trip, but they will find out about it eventually so we have to leave now, before that happens!"

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


So Rich is Daryl's son? that would make sense that he is reluctant to show his clan symbol which is (presumibly) on his hand. But it wouldn't make sense that he hates Daryl, unless he blames him for the fact that he is a Cubi? Hmm, I guess we will find out later *the suspense begins* .

I find the lack of Automated defense systems in schools disturbing. Remember folks, even if non-lethal, you should have some sort of defense mechanism if you have enemies.

If all else fails, Just teleport out and blow the building (with the unsuspecting invaders inside) up.  :explosion

Why do I have a feeling the Unknown entity is either:
A: A robot. (I presume Josh would be able to identify it)
B: A human / being
c: Someone who REALLY hates photocopiers

(credit: Gabi)


Wow. Even more is happening.

Though getting ice cream as a meal?

Daryil sure is generous Jailer.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


For those who are curious, I got a couple of Epsilon Project characters drawn at AC:




...I might point out that this was the first time anyone has attempted Professor Falkirk and as such, I wasn't expecting it to be instantly perfect.  In the story, his entire body is kind of like his hair.  On the other hand, Nyil's design is much more amenable to a comic - having him entirely moplike would greviously upset both me and the line artist if an Epsilon comic ever happens.

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


Chapter 14

Wings hidden, Lady Finch made her way to No.32 and opened the front door with a small, silver key.  Ignoring the contents of the house completely, she drifted into the cellar and drew out her phone.  She fired up some programs, one of which appeared to be a popular remake of Tank War, and tapped out a particular sequence with her stylus.  She promptly lost the game, but as if to compensate, a wall slid open to reveal a shiny metal elevator.

The Professor greeted her when she alighted, his feathery wings visible for a change.  Somehow the raccoon had got into a habit of concealing them.  He offered the succubus a tablet device, the day's headlines displayed across the top in bold letters.  She glanced at it briefly.  Massacre at Warholtz Police Station was the top story of the hour.

"The test went well, then?" she said, walking down the plastered corridor and through an armoured steel door.

"Indeed.  Though we seem to have killed some Demons too," The Professor sighed.  "That wasn't really part of the plan..."

"A shame, but they're common enough and their culture looks down upon reprisals," Lady Finch replied.  "Where is she now?"

"In the board room.  Do you want to meet her?"

"Yes, but later.  But first I need to check my inbox."

"She can wait," The Professor said.  "If there's one thing she's got, it's patience."

* * *

The students from ISIS had made some headway through the forest, tents on backs.  Not completely sure where to go, they had wandered until they came to a small hamlet tucked into a gap in the trees.  Mindful of the fact that some of the younger students needed food, Professor Jevex found the local store and began to purchase what provisions she could find, Falkirk being a little too unconventional in his appearance to provide the right impression.

Most of the students had stayed put, emitting a wide spectrum of feelings from anxiety and fear through to excitement at the fact that the entire adventure was unplanned by the school. 

Not too far from the hamlet, Kevin made a mark on one of the trees with his paintbrush and then entered the details into the tablet device supplied by the Forestry Commission.  There was a faint crackle behind him and he had the horrible feeling that he was being watched.
He turned around slowly, but there was nothing there.  He glanced around nervously for a while until he was satisfied that whatever had made the sound was gone.  When he turned around, there was a white jackal in front of him.

"Why, hello there little soul..." the jackal said, fanning out his wings and advancing with a hungry expression on his features.  The feline made a sort of meeping noise and began to back away slowly.  Richard's wings wavered and became tentacles.  The Being stepped further back and banged his head against a tree-trunk.

"Now you're mine," the jackal purred, and he could almost taste the delicious nectar of his victim's soul.  From out of nowhere a shape slammed into the side of his body and he fell.

"RICHARD!" Sheila yelled and the jackal rolled over, glancing up at the Border collie towering over him, her face a mask of fury.
"Stop doing that!" she shouted as he began to pick himself up. 

Turning to Kevin, she bowed apologetically.  "You must forgive him," she said.  "He's only young, and he'll learn to control it one day.  After we've beaten all the psycho out of him," she added as an afterthought.

"You know what I should do now?" she snarled, as Richard walked in front of her with his tail between his legs, "I should tell Professor Falkirk."  The jackal stopped so quickly that he tripped and hastily recovered, spinning around.  "You... you wouldn't..!" he gurgled.

"Not this time," the border said, "But unless you want to spend the rest of this trip with a chaperone, I strongly suggest you buck up your ideas."

"Alright, alright," Richard sighed.  "I'll try..."

"What were you thinking...?  You haven't even been taught how to trap souls."

"It was practice, okay?  Dad told me the basic principle, I was trying to see if I could work it out from there."

"Can you imagine what the others would do if you came back with a corpse!?  If you're lucky they'd simply turn you over to the police!  And if they found out you were trying to steal his very soul..."

"Did you... oh."  Sydney looked taken aback as he came across the others.  "His soul?!  That's horrible!"

"Don't tell anyone," Richard begged.

Syd glanced at Sheila, whose expression was particularly firm and resolute.  He glanced back to Richard.  "Don't do it again," he said.

* * *

Joshua was once again going through the CCTV footage of the massacre.  It made uncomfortable viewing, but he had long ago lost the ability to become sick and so he was able to just sit through it.

The killer had moved fast, stabbing their victims with what appeared to be some kind of extruded blade.  The lack of magic involved led him to suspect that he was seeing some kind of android, but still... androids were just dead people, and people - alive or otherwise - tended not to be this vicious.  Or was it a Demon's soul inside the thing...?

Once the deed was done, the killer had vanished in a peculiar fashion, the like of which he'd never seen before.  Going through it frame by frame didn't help much either, but it did reveal that the killer appeared to be a mare Being, and then she had left by somehow folding up into nothing.

He was checking the external cameras to see if anything interesting or significant had taken place immediately before or after the event.  What he saw may not have been significant, but it was certainly interesting.

It can't be, he thought, his jaw dropping.

* * *

"My Lord," the jackal said, bowing before Daryil, or as closely as he could manage on the secure video link.  His eyes were red and his wings were grey, and he wore a black leather collar about his neck.

"Well, well," his Leader returned.  "Calahan!  It's been... what, twenty-four years?"

"Yeah, my Lord.  I know my report's kinda overdue, and I'm sorry 'bout that, but it wasn't easy to arrange.  I couldn't make this call with her around, had to wait until she was away."

"Your wife," Daryil said.  "Happily married, then?"

"It's been rocky at times," the jackal said.  "Even now, with our kid... well, we love each other, but I don't think she trusts me completely.  I know the others don't.  And..."

"And...?"  Daryil prompted, after a pause.

"Forgive me, father, for I have sinned..." the jackal said.

"You had to break the Tenets, didn't you?"  Daryil said softly.

"Yeah, my Lord.  I... it was hard."

"I'm glad it was.  But it helped you attain your position," the tri-wing said.  "It helped convince them you're loyal, always remember that.  I don't as a rule believe that the end justifies the means, but at the same time, sometimes we have to bend the rules a bit for the greater good.  Just make sure it doesn't become a habit, that's all I ask.
"And remember that my Tenets are mostly aimed at those who would kill or worse for pleasure... this mission had a purpose behind it.  I don't like it, but I forgive you for that.  I can't blame you for something that I sent you into myself, can I?"

"I guess not.  But it... taking someone's soul... even though I let it go... was this really worth it?"

Daryil sighed and his headwings drooped.  "I don't know.  But it was always a risk when going undercover with folks of this ilk.  You knew it, I knew it.  And remember, I put you up to this."

"Yes, my Lord," the jackal said and straightened up with a nervous expression.  "And now, with respect, I don't have long, and there's a lot to cover.  I don't have the full picture, they don't trust me enough, and if they find out I've made this call, it will all be over.  Though in a way I'd welcome that, since I'd likely pay for my crimes..."

"Then let's make it quick," Daryil said.  "I don't want you to lose your life in my service.  See, there are many sad things in this world, but dead bishonen is one of the saddest.  Just tell me what you've found."

* * *

"What I don't get," Richard was saying, "Is why everyone picks on me, when Syd here's a Jyraneth!"

"Don't say it!" Syd squeaked.  Sheila looked at the jackal with venom and her hands shook slightly as if she was trying really hard not to throttle him.  Her back wings had become unstable and threatened to become tentacles for a few moments.

"He is not a Jyraneth," she said at last.  "His clan broke away because they didn't like the way things were going."

"But his great-grandparents were," Richard said.  "What did they do anyway, Syd?"

"If I tell you," Sydney said, "You must promise not to repeat it to Daniel, or Nick.  It would upset them greatly.  Also, you'll owe me a favour."

"A favor?" Richard looked unsettled.  "What kinda favor?"

"Stop picking on Beings while you're part of the school." Syd said pointedly.

"Okay, okay," Richard said, throwing his gloved hands in the air.  "I promise.  Now tell me..."

"Okay, I don't know them that well," Sydney admitted, "But my great-grandparents were pretty evil."

"How so?"

"Mordrith was one of Jyraneth's Raiders.  He was part of the initial strike team.  He liked the surprise and shock of his victims as he stabbed them or cut their throats.  His wife was a spy... she would infiltrate a town in the weeks running up to the invasion and use her talents as a seductress to extract information from her victims, and usually their souls as well.  Sometimes she would bring souls home for Mordrith to eat too."

"Awesome!  How did they meet?"

"Well, Mordrith had a crush on Julei for a while.  One one mission, Julei slipped up and was caught - she would have been executed but when he found out what had happened, Mordrith sneaked in and rescued her, slaying a number of guards in the process."

"Caught?  By Beings?" Richard sounded scandalised.  "How'd she let that happen?"

"It's not that simple.  But it does happen - 'Cubi are taken down by Beings... it's not uncommon.  Remember, my father was hanged," Sydney told him solemnly.  The other incubus fell silent.  "They had enchantments that rendered him helpless, and our clan has rules against killing.  Not that they gave him much opportunity to defend himself."

Richard stayed very quiet and Syd felt he had a fairly shrewd idea of what was going through the jackal's head... it was slowly starting to dawn on him that he had avoided the same fate only by sheer luck and not through the innate superiority of the 'Cubi race.

"Uh," the fox continued, changing the subject.  "You wanted to know how Julei was caught?  It was nothing to do with her skill, really - just bad luck.  From what I heard, her target was actually a Demon in disguise.  Fed her all kinds of fairy-tales and then stunned her when she tried to remove his soul."

"And your Dad...?" Richard said.  "I remember you saying that you first met him a couple months ago.  And that was after he was killed."

"Dad survived, after a fashion," Sydney continued.  "I guess you slept through that bit, right?  You may have heard of Niall... he tries to save 'Cubi who are sentenced to death unjustly.  He arrived too late and had to transfer Dad's soul into a robotic body, so he's alive but he's no longer strictly a 'Cubi."

"Yeah, I know about Niall," Richard said slowly.  "He's one of those Daryil weirdos.  Came to visit me in my cell, the night before I was to be taken to the gallows.  We had a brief discussion of my crimes and then he left.  I think he was crying."

"You seem to have quite a problem with Daryil," Sheila said acidly.

"Well, yeah," Richard said.  "Daryil's clan was the clan we broke off of."

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


I think I'm getting an idea of why Richard has his superiority complex on beings and such.


Weird point to end the chapter, considering that what Richard just revealed was hinted at many times and was therefore not so surprising at this point.

Other than that, it was quite an interesting chapter. I really like Sheila and how she's trying to bring harmony to the group... not an easy task at all.

The concept of playing a videogame to open a lock was funny, as was Calahan's description of 24 years as 'kinda overdue', and Daryil saying that dead bishonen was one of the saddest things in the world.

As for Joshua's analysis of the footage... I think that if anything can be that vicious, it has to be a person of some sort. Soulless machines just follow a program and therefore can't be vicious, and wild animals can kill but will not cause a gruesome massacre, not even if they're rabid. It requires a very complex mind to be that sick.
~~ 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


I have to agree with Gabi about the attacking android or thing would have to be a person of some kind and for the same reasons she's thinking. But taking into account the A.I.'s of Jakob's and how responsive they can be, I have to wonder if theirs more to it then just being a person in a android body.

After all, if it's a part of the project these cubi are working on, then what makes it different enough from Jakob's own androids that it would need an entire project to be made for it?

Though it was a big surprise about Richard. That might also explain the Brain Museum a little more. That's an interesting way for the Daryil's clan craziness to work it's way through. :erk
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Dibs on human intruder! :D (I really want The "steal tech from humans to backfire" IT would also add another factor to the politcal chain of Furrae

(credit: Gabi)


Quote from: joshofspam on July 01, 2012, 09:26:20 PM
After all, if it's a part of the project these cubi are working on, then what makes it different enough from Jakob's own androids that it would need an entire project to be made for it?

Fa'Rana's like the mad scientist clan, they have quite a few projects.

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


This has been edited slightly since the original text refers to something which has not yet happened in Project Future ;-)
Also, thanks to Chaosmage for some ideas that helped shape Sonia.

Chapter 15

"Clan Fa'Rana broke away from Daryil's clan?!"  Sheila seemed horrified... appalled, even.  Sydney's wings had flared out in surprise.

"Well, yeah," Richard said.  "See, Daryil Clan went through several stages.  First, we were allowed to do whatever we wanted.  Then he published the Book of Tenets, in real Being leather.  It explained how to-"

"Thank you," Sheila said.  "There was a copy in the Little Rare Book Room at Fairwater University.  It was horrible."

"It was great," Richard said, eyes shining.  "Our clan reprinted it.  You wouldn't think Daryil would know so much about torture and murder!  There's a section on tanning the hides of Beings while they're still alive, preservation of heads for display, and how he single-handedly killed the entire Order of Saint Trelenar when they excommunicated him..."

"Daryil had a Being parent," Sydney said.  Both Sheila and Richard looked scandalised.

"He went through a phase where he was trying to deny his Being parentage and youth," Syd said.  "It was a very bloody and nasty time.  But eventually he grew out of it.
"The preface to the Third Edition mentioned how Sorghum's clan was wiped out in a purge by Beings after they set fire to an orphanage.  Daryil dropped out of sight for a century or two after that, afraid he'd lose his clan too, but he'd known for a long time that what they were doing wasn't sustainable.  It was like a petty adolescent tantrum scaled up into genocidal proportions."

"Daryil had his clan scatter for safety," Syd continued.  "And when they reconvened... he realised he didn't want to be evil anymore."

Sheila looked at him approvingly.  Richard looked even more scandalised.

"How do you know this?!" he demanded.

"Mordrith has the complete set of the Tenets," Syd told him.  "My clan, my true clan, are under Daryil's protection, and Mordrith has spoken to him at length on a number of occasions.  Obviously we have to understand our allies' way of life and history..."  Richard sniffed at this.

"Daryil did an about turn," the jackal spat, as if the Tri-wing had personally betrayed him.  "The younger members of his clan were happy to live a less exciting life."

"A longer and less brutal life," Sheila muttered.  Richard glanced darkly at her, but carried on regardless.  "The older ones came around to it after a time.  But the rest of us were left in the lurch, so we broke off to form Fa'Rana clan, just how Daryil broke his clan away from whoever they were before."

"So doesn't that mean you're actually a Daryil clan member?"  Syd asked.  Richard fluffed out and refused to speak to either of them until Sheila and Syd had each delivered a four-minute long apology on the others' behalf.

* * *

Joshua leaned back heavily with a very realistic sigh and closed his eyes.  Why now? he thought.  Of all the times this could have happened...

Rubbing his eyes, the husky pulled himself together and locking his office door, made a secure call to Jayhawk Cybernetics... not their main switchboard, but a private number that Jakob had given him when they parted ways.

The screen burst into life showing a grey fox in a lab coat.  It had not been buttoned at the front, and flapped loosely to reveal glimpses of an exposed chest and some expensive leather pants.  His wings fluffed out for a moment in surprise.

"Oh, it's you!" he exclaimed.  "Hi Josh, what can I do for you?"

"Niall?" he replied.  "I was after Jakob actually, but you could probably help...  Um... if you don't mind me asking, which are you?"

"Niall," the fox returned immediately.  "Daryil asked my... son to keep watch at Mundesberg."

"That's where Dorcan was killed, isn't it?"

"Yeah, there's been a bit of trouble there.  Daryil went to shake things up a bit a few months back, Godzilla-style.  I think they've stopped picking on Creatures for now, but he wanted someone on-site for a while to make sure - someone who could give them a headache if things went nasty."

"I'm a little... concerned about something," Josh told him.  "I'd like to know if you've resurrected someone recently."

"Hmm.  Anyone in particular?" Niall enquired.  "The Commission has put a strict cap on the numbers, so it's a fairly short list."

"Okay.  I'm interested in one Haley Stuart.  Being, Malamute."  He rattled off her national identity number, and Niall ran a database search.

"No-one by that name, I'm afraid.  Not within the last 25 years, which is as far back as our records go."

"Starting with me, right?"

"Yeah, and Azrael as number two."

"Right.  But getting back to the point, you're absolutely sure about Haley?"

"I searched for 'St*' in case she was listed under Stewart or Steward.  Now, it's possible she may have used an alternate name.  Or she may have been raised by one of our competitors, of course.  Whenabouts did she die?"

"2135 FSC," Josh said pointedly.  "Before I did, and way, way outside the usual time limit.  If she was resurrected, it would have to have been a... special job.  Raised from the afterworld by their soul alone."

Niall blinked rapidly.   "We're not allowed to do that anymore.  If Daryil has... well, I'd have to ask him but frankly, I doubt it.  Are you sure this person is really dead?  Come to that, are you sure they're actually alive again?"

"I..." Josh hesitated.  "I was the one who found her body," he said quietly.  Niall stared and his head-wings drooped... he could think of nothing to say.

"Okay," the husky said.  "There is one more thing... I mean it might be... well, it might be me."

Niall looked flustered and confused.  "You...?  I don't under- Oh.  You want a check-up?  Yeah, we can do that if you really want, but I wouldn't worry about it, honestly.
"Even a healthy mind will play tricks from time to time.  You might just have run into someone who looks a lot like her.  Or, heck, she might be a succubus who read your mind."

"I'm not convinced," Josh said.  "This was some film, just some random CCTV footage of her walking down a street.  What I mean is... I wasn't actually there, so it couldn't be a succubus trick.  And I still have Haley's photo in my wallet.  I know what she looks like."

"Could it have been a more conventional resurrection?  An undead?"

"I can't believe that," the husky said.  "If she was alive, surely she would have let me know..."

* * *

"Well, what do you think?" The Professor asked, a hint of pride in his voice.

Lady Finch stared at the blond mare impassively.  The horse's eyes glanced at her for a moment, as if expecting some command, but they quickly reverted to her dead, expressionless stare.  It was eerie.

"What's your name?" the succubus asked.

"Sonia," the horse replied immediately.

"What is your quest?" Lady Finch continued.

"To obey," the horse replied.

"What is your favourite colour?"

"I do not have one," she said simply.

"Did you enjoy your outing the other day, my dear?"  The Professor asked.

"I carried out my instructions fully," the horse said after a brief pause.

"Yes, but did you enjoy it?"

"I do not know."

"Very good, Sonia," The Professor said.  He held out both hands and after a brief incantation, a large cantaloupe appeared between them.  He placed it on the table.

"Destroy that," the raccoon incubus commanded, "as if it was the head of an enemy."

Sonia moved into action faster than most Demons or Angels could react.  A split second later, the board room table was covered in seeds and orange flesh.

"Excellent.  Now, fetch a bucket and cleaning implements.  Clean the remains of the melon off the board room desk," he instructed and the horse got up and began to head towards the door.

"No, wait..." Lady Finch called out.  Sonia paused, glancing at The Professor for confirmation.  He nodded and the horse relaxed into a standing position.  Lady Finch approached her, examining the android in minute detail, staring into her eyes.  The focussing tracked the succubus autonomously but her expression did not waver, and seeing no cues from the Lady's body language her blue eyes defaulted to staring ahead, clear and soulless.

"Very well, you may proceed with your task," the succubus said, and Sonia left the room.

"Very impressive," Lady Finch said.  "And no sentience to her at all.  Even a 'Cubi will not be able to anticipate her actions."

"Indeed.  I have given the order to proceed with Gamma Project."

"Hmm," she said.  "You mean mass-production?  Already?"

"She works well enough for me.  I cannot foresee any flaws which we cannot correct with a firmware update or worst case, rebalancing her neural net.  Remember, most of the physical design is based on old patents from Jayhawk and Jycorp.  The bulk of her is proven technology."

"With an army of these, do we still need to continue with Epsilon?"

"Oh, I think we do," The Professor said.  "A legion of K-1300s will get us a long way, but Daryil and his allies could put a stop to it fairly sharpish.  Once Epsilon is go, we'll be in a completely different league.  But until then, we'll need Gamma Project, and more.
"Mass-production of Sonia isn't going to happen overnight, the K-1300 has a lot of expensive parts as a bottleneck, some of which we'll actually have to purchase from Jayhawk, at least for the initial run.
"To make things worse, Grunmore doesn't yet have the 6-phase power source we'd need to run a nano-forge so they have to be assembled conventionally for the time being.  We have a couple more prototypes and more are on the way, but it'll be at least three weeks before they really start rolling off the line, probably more.  And in the meantime, we still need leverage over Daryil, so we can't let up on that project, either."

"We'll have his son soon," Lady Finch promised, but inwardly she was flinching.  Oh, I hope this doesn't all end in tears...

"Fingers crossed," The Professor replied, sensing her emotions.

Lady Finch paused as she left the board room.  The android, now approaching with a mop and bucket, had slowed down and was watching her.  Sonia didn't do this out of curiosity or self-will, but in case she was to be given new instructions.  Her AI was extremely sophisticated for something not based on existing brain patterns, but she still needed visual cues to make sure that she was being addressed - she wasn't smart enough to do it from context alone.  As The Professor had pointed out earlier, the most reliable way to address Sonia was to prefix the instruction with her name.

Lady Finch opened the door for the mare.  A few seconds later her wings fanned out at the sound of splintering wood and cries of dismay from The Professor.

I guess there's still some bugs to work out, she thought as she headed to her office.

* * *

Jakob tried to call Daryil, but the fox's phone was turned off.  Oh yeah, he'll be with Simeon tonight, he thought, and spent a few guilty moments picturing the scene.  I wonder if Dax is busy tonight?  But he shook himself... there was work to be done first.

The wolf looked in the mirror... he was fairly typical for an incubus.  He had a lithe and trim frame, but not too muscular and it gave a slightly effeminate look to him which was not helped by the shoulder-length hair.  He was wearing some comfortable leather leggings and that was basically it.  The look did kind of suit him, but it certainly wasn't right for a lecturer, so he chose a suitably businesslike suit, and then put on one of his old black trench-coats.

Even that was still a little unusual, but aside from the freshman students the term didn't properly start for another week anyway, so it didn't exactly matter.  This was just preparation - all he had to do now was touch base with the staff, explore the campus a bit so he knew where he had to go, and do a brief rehearsal so he would have everything down pat when the lecture actually took place.

Transport was a bit of a problem, since he'd never actually been to the school before.  That meant he couldn't teleport, and he'd left things a bit too late to go by conventional means.  So reluctantly, Jakob called out for his son's warp-aci.  At least I'll be able to make the return trip myself, he thought.

"Kirian," he said, "Please take me to Illiath's School for Incubi and Succubi."

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


"Danger meatbag, Danger!" Heh a automaton eh? Good grief EMP seems to be the way to go for Daryl. Or a computer virus. So much simpler.

(credit: Gabi)


All end in tears?

What could Fa'Rana clan be up too and why are they so concerned about Daryil's proximity to any of their projects? Isn't also strange their making a fully autonomous robot fighting force? I almost sort of seeing this as aping Jayhawk's beginnings.

It must really be one of humdinger of a plan if they can't even have a tri-wing start any kind of urban renewal in the area where crime was rampant before...
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.

llearch n'n'daCorna

Quote from: joshofspam on July 14, 2012, 11:59:35 AM
It must really be one of humdinger of a plan if they can't even have a tri-wing start any kind of urban renewal in the area where crime was rampant before...

I think it's more along the lines of "dang, we had a lot of stuff there because it would avoid attention" conjointly with "we need to not gain the attention of any tri-wings, because they'll stop us. Particularly the one we split off from."
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


I'm liable to be away Saturday and Friday evening, so I'm going to update early.  Thanks to Sofox for proofing an some suggestions in this chapter.

Chapter 16

"So, Richard," Sydney said, "I'm curious.  What's on your right hand?"

"My clan mark," the jackal said.  "But I can't show you.  It's taboo."

"Some clan rule?" Sheila asked casually.  He's lying, she thought, but it's clearly a touchy subject.  I'll leave it for now.

It was starting to get dark when they got back to camp, and Professor Shreve kept looking at the treeline.  He seemed particularly distressed.

"Where have you three been?"  Professor Falkirk demanded.  He looked a little strained.

"Richard wandered off," Sheila told him.  "We went to find him before he could do too much damage."  Richard rolled his eyes at this.

"I sympathise, but you should still have let me know first," the poodle said.  "We're in a difficult situation, and I want us all to stay together."

"Yes, sir," they replied.

"Professor," Sheila asked, as they started to trudge off into the deeper woods, "Are we really stranded here?  I mean, can't we teleport back?"

"Not easily," he said.  "Where would we go, anyway?  We can't return to the school, they'll be waiting there to mop up any stragglers!"

"Surely your Leader has some kind of safe-house we could lie low until things settle down?"

"Perhaps, but I'm not sure I can get in touch with him.  Most of Daryil's outposts are protected against intruders teleporting in, and I don't have the right pass.  To be certain, neither Professor Shreve or I would be able to teleport such a large body of students.  The effort would be intolerable."

"What about a warp-aci?"  Richard asked.

"The camp contains only first-years," the poodle said.  "We don't teach that kind of summoning until year 15, and none of the staff have one," he sighed.  "I always thought they were for girls, myself.  I see now that may have been a mistake, but it will take too long to summon one now.  We have to keep moving."

"Can't you phone Daryil?" Sydney asked, causing Richard to flinch again.

"We're halfway into the trip," he said sadly.  "Once upon a time you could get a phone that would last three whole weeks, but nowadays, now they all have to be able to play Angry Drakes, you're lucky if you get a whole day out of them, let alone three."

"What about that hamlet?" Mike asked.  "Can't we go back and ask to use their phones?"

"Well, it's a funny thing, actually," the Professor said.  "You see, Professor Jevex had just finished purchasing the supplies we needed, when some forester rushed in saying that a jackal succubus with red and orange wings had just tried to eat his soul.  And the funny thing is, after that, the locals became strangely uncooperative."

"What do you mean, 'succubus'?!"  Richard blurted.

"Oh, I'm just going by what I was told," the poodle said airily.  "I'm glad it couldn't possibly have been you, Richard, otherwise you'd likely be facing a stiff prison sentence.  Or worse."

Richard radiated a spike of fear for a few moments, but the professor said nothing more.

* * *

Jakob's headwings began to fan out slowly as he wandered down the corridor.  Not good, he thought for the umpteenth time.

Earlier he had wondered briefly if he'd got the time-zone confused again, but even if he had, Illiath's School for Incubi and Succubi was intended for students who did not need to sleep much, if at all.  Quite apart from the fact that the reception had been abandoned, there should have been activities going on at every hour of the day, classes or recreational.  It was never, ever closed.

Even during the solstice breaks there was some activity from students who had chosen to remain behind, professors preparing for the next term and so on - the fact that the building was fully illuminated but apparently devoid of people meant that something had gone very, very wrong.  Jakob half expected to see bodies next.

Why did I send Kirian away so soon? he thought, mentally slapping himself.

Then again, Fa'Lina had done something similar to Jakob when he was young - at Daryil's request, no doubt.  However, in this instance Jakob was a guest lecturer and the academy had no business nor reason to screw with his head. Whatever had happened, it had to be real and not some bizarre hoax.

The wolf incubus opened his mind and began to run down the corridors, scanning for minds and trying to cover as much ground as he could.  And then... yes!  There was someone there.  He slowed to a brisk walking pace, turned a corner and made his way to the classroom where the mind was.

"Hello?"  Jakob called out as he opened the door, "Is everything alright?  What's happened?  Where is everyone?"

Something hit the side of his head and he slumped to the ground.

* * *

Back in his office, Joshua fired up the terminal and hesitated as he took out his wallet.  If he'd been alive there would be a lump in his throat as he removed Haley's photograph and put it into the scanner.  As it did its work, he found himself wondering what life would be like if she had lived.

For one, I wouldn't be sitting here in with my name on the door of Ashford's office, he thought.  Losing his fiancee just a month from the wedding... it had destroyed him, and the only thing which had kept him sane was blocking everything else out and putting every waking moment into his work.  Perhaps he could find the killer someday and repay them in kind...  But there was more to it that that.  Part it was a dare... more and more dangerous missions, goading the world into killing him so that he could be with his lover once more.

But even when he had found death, bleeding out in the perimeter of Jakob's Arctic base, it hadn't reunited them... he'd been given not one, but two more chances at life.  Strange that he hadn't thought of her much then, but he knew that Jakob had used some of his mental powers to lessen the shock of transition.  Perhaps he had lessened his grieving for his lost love at the same time, since Josh had never really thought to ask if they could bring her back.

Joshua looked up, startled by a small noise as the scanner timed out and went back into standby.  He put photo back into his wallet, and glanced at his hand and wrist.  Well, for one thing, if I hadn't done the Arctic mission, I'd be old and grey by now, he thought.  Well, lighter grey than I am now, at least.

With a shrug, the husky punched in the command and sat back, waiting.  It would take a long time to run a facial recognition query like this.  With all the upheaval in the decades following the Destania Incident and the loss of several races from the world of Furrae... with all the minor wars that had cropped up in the aftermath, not much technological progess had occurred.

It it entirely possible that the Beings' technical civilisation would have collapsed back to the medieval were it not for the fact that Creatures had got involved.  Jayhawk and numerous other Creature-run firms had kept industries supplied with vital components during the chaos, providing a framework to rebuild from and preserving as much know-how as they could in their corporate archives.

But while Angels and 'Cubi had kept the flame alive, it had also given the impression that only Creatures could design electronics, an attitude that had only begun to change within the last 30-40 years.  The bitter truth was that this was almost backwards - Beings were far better at electronics because they weren't as magical.

Magic interfered with technology, semiconductors with a feature size smaller than about 100nm tended to break down or flip bits in the presence of Creatures and it was also the reason they tended to record things on technologies that would otherwise have been rendered obsolete nearly two centuries ago.

As a result, the mainframe that Josh queried was not significantly faster than ones available at the time of the Destania Incident, and that meant he'd have to wait, and wait, and wait.

As he waited, an icy feeling of horror welled up inside him.  She looks the same age as she did when she was 22, he thought.  How can that be?

* * *

When the staff were satisfied that they were far enough away from their original campsite to avoid immediate detection, Professor Falkirk called a halt and they pitched some of their tents.

"Those who need to sleep may do so," he announced to the group.  "Those who don't need to sleep should rest themselves anyway as we'll need to cover more ground in the morning.  Anyone who needs to eat can do so as well."

"Sir," Sheila asked, "Where are we actually going?"

"I'll cover that in a bit," the poodle said.  "But first, everyone listen up!
"I must warn you all that we can't risk being found, so unfortunately we must not be lighting any fires.  Lights outside the tents are likewise prohibited.  Lights inside the tents must be kept low to avoid them being seen.  Any questions?"

There was a whimpering sound from nearby as torches and lighting spells were promptly extinguished.  Syd glanced over and realised it was Professor Shreve.

"Come now, sir," Richard said, "You're an adult incubus.  You can't be afraid of the dark, surely...?"

"I... I've never been in the dark before," the sloth said.

"With respect, Professor, you're shitting me."

"It's true!  I haven't slept for nearly 800 years.  It was always light inside the Academy because it's open 24 hours, and ISIS is the same!"

"What about when you were young?" Professor Falkirk asked sympathetically.  "You slept then, surely?  What about winter?"

"We lived near the equator.  Went to bed as soon as it was getting dark."

"Could we hypnotise him?" Syd asked.

"Oh, oh!  I can stun him," Richard said eagerly.  "He'll be out of it for eight hours, at least..!"

"Quiet," Sheila said.  "What about just closing your eyes?" she asked the professor.

"Oh, that's different," the sloth said.

"Okay then," the succubus said.  "Try closing your eyes right now."  The sloth did.  Sheila took out a tie from her pocket and gently wrapped it around the professor's head, blindfolding him.

"Now we stun him, righ-" Richard said, and yelped as he received a sharp kick in the shins from the Border collie.

"Can you see anything now?" she asked the professor.

"No, it's completely black."

"That's not so bad, is it?" Sheila asked.

"Well, no... that's just seeing dark, it's not actually being in the dark," the sloth said slowly.

"Do you think you can just go to your tent and wait or sleep until morning?"

"I'll try," the professor mumbled uncomfortably.  "I suppose it's not that bad.  But..."


"Well... could you guide me to my tent?  I seem to be blindfolded at the moment."

Back in their own tent, Sydney was staring despondently at the feeble glow of the lighting spell that Richard had cast.  Well, he's certainly not a robot, he thought to himself, and sighed.

"What's up?" Sheila asked him.  "You feel kind of down."

"Well, yeah..." Sydney said.  "That little recap of how I found I was a 'Cubi and that my ancestors were psychopathic monsters, it's not put me in a good mood.  And to cap it all, here we are, stranded in the middle of nowhere, the school's been taken over, we're on the run and we can't even have any fucking lights!"

Sheila's head-wings drooped.  "Yeah," she said.  "That would be a bit of a downer.  But the one thing you want to avoid is feeling too down.  We're 'Cubi, we're very emotional.  It's far too easy to get trapped in a spiral of depression and you really, really don't want that.  You need something to cheer you up."

"Easy for you to say," Syd complained.  "They won't let us have enough light to read by!"

Sheila looked stung at this, but she shrugged it off after a moment.  "Well, we've got about 3000 years to read in," she said.  "It's not the end of the world."

"Do you have any suggestions?" Syd asked.  "Aside from charades.  Shapeshifting takes all the fun out of it now."

"I'm going to find Kath," she said, and made her predatory look.  "You should consider a brief liaison too," she added.  "It'll perk you up no end."  The Border glanced at Syd, then at Richard and then left the tent.

Richard sat up in his sleeping bag, radiating a confused mixture of embarrassment and happiness.  Sydney stared back at him, headwings fanned out, not sure what to say.

Outside, Sheila smiled to herself.  Well, he did say Richard looked cute.  One way or another, he's going to forget about being miserable.

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


Getting knocked out just as you enter a room? That seems to happen so often I would think people would take better precautions these days. Apparently in this particular history, Destina's actions probably was extremely damaging to the flow of history.


Quote from: justacritic on July 26, 2012, 10:49:38 PM
Apparently in this particular history, Destina's actions probably was extremely damaging to the flow of history.

From Amber's hints, a lot changes after the events of DMFA.  A couple of races vanish in the process and something like that is going to be fairly traumatic to the political world.  Richard's lines about the 'Master Race' hint at my guess as to which ones, but I could be wrong.

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


Chapter 17

Jakob came to slowly, his head pounding.  As the grogginess and pain began to subside, he discovered that he was wearing a pair of briefs and nothing else.  His shirt, blazer, trousers and trench coat had all been removed and the mark of Daryil was now exposed on his thigh.

Bastards! he thought, Why does everyone always want to steal my shirt?  It's getting really old now.

Anger blossoming inside him, Jakob morphed his wings, turning them into a pair of leggings not dissimilar to the ones he'd shed in favour of the business suit.

Niall and most other 'Cubi could have altered the skin and fur of their legs, making an impromptu pair of skin-tight leathers from their very flesh.  This was why 'Cubi preferred tight clothes and skimpy dress, it was easier to conjure up an outfit like that if the need arose.

Jakob couldn't do this properly, however.  The clan mark on his leg would show through and this was bad form as it gave away the fact that he wasn't wearing any clothes.  This mark was the only thing a 'Cubi was not able to hide or conceal by magic - even severing the limb would only cause it to move to the nearest part of them still attached, until the limb had regrown.

What Jakob could do was morph his wings into leggings... covering the mark with another part of his body would solve the problem neatly, though it did mean his wings were now missing.

Exploring the room, the wolf found he was in a small side office.  He wasn't able to teleport, part of the security measures in the building.  Daryil's own design.  You needed a pass from reception except in the dedicated teleport room, or further out in the grounds.  He tried the door, but it was locked of course, and warded against the sort of tentacle trickery he had occasionally used to pick locks in earlier centuries.  Plus, since 'Cubi tentacles were extruded from their wings, bringing them out now would make his trousers go funny and he didn't want that.

Suddenly he felt the presence of a mind-shield and spun around just as the lights came on.

"Good," said a voice.  "You're awake.  A word of warning... please don't try anything foolish.  Trixie here is not to be messed with."

Blinking in the sudden light, Jakob could see a succubus, some kind of hare by the looks, and they had entered through another door which he hadn't spotted in the dark.  To her side was a mare, ostensibly a Being, but with a strangely dead expression on her face.  Jakob was mildly unsettled by the fact that she had no obvious mind or mind-shield and radiated no emotions whatsoever.  Fa'Lina did that too, he thought.

"Allow me to demonstrate," the succubus said, pointing.  "Please remain still, or you may be hurt.  Trixie, fast move.  Stand by that wall over there."

The horse blurred and was suddenly stood with her back to the wall.  Jakob blinked.  "Impressive," he said.

"Why, thank you," the succubus smiled.  "And Trixie is just as deadly as she is fast, so please, please, don't do anything stupid if you wish to walk out of here alive."

"Noted," Jakob said.

"Now tell me, what brings you to ISIS?"

"I was ordered to accompany you," the mare said tonelessly.  The succubus' expression darkened and Jakob watched with fascination.

"I didn't mean you," she told the mare.  "Please idle until you are called by name.  Now then, my good sir," she added to Jakob, "What is your business at Illiath's?"

"Guest lecturer," Jakob said pleasantly.  "I must have missed the memo that the university was due to be ransacked.  May I ask what happened to everyone?"

"Oh, they're quite safe," the succubus said.  "Hopefully we'll be able to release them soon.  But as for you... you're of Daryil's clan.  That's good, for we are in need of certain information about Daryil's son."

"His son," Jakob said quietly.

"Indeed.  We do not intend him any harm, but it is vitally important that we speak to him, and I'm afraid we are desperate.  Desperate enough to attack the school, even though one of our own clan is studying there."

"But you didn't find him, did you?"  Jakob asked.

"No.  Unfortunately he escaped.  It would have made things easier if we had him.  We need him to act as our emissary."

"I'm afraid I don't know where he is," Jakob said.  "Can I go now?"

"And tell Daryil about our invading the school?  It's too early for that.  We need an emissary first, they must be a direct descendant.  His own child!"

"Daryil probably knows what you've done already," Jakob pointed out.  "And if I don't return, he'll know that too.  He also knows where I am now, so he knows where to start looking if I do go missing..."

"Once we have put our proposal to his son, you will be free to go," the Succubus soothed.  "We truly don't wish to harm any our fellow 'Cubi, even if we don't see eye-to-eye with your Leader.  At the end of the day, our clan only wants what's best for our race as a whole."

"And what is best for our race?"  Jakob asked.

"If I told you that, I couldn't return you to Daryil afterwards," the succubus said.  "Some things have to remain secret, Mr..."

"Cross," Jakob said, and made his old smile, the one he used to use to intimidate his enemies during that tyrannical reign of madness all those centuries ago, the reign of Johan Cross.  The succubus just stared at him, her headwings fanning out.

* * *

Sydney's dreams were undisturbed by The Lady, and for that he was extremely grateful.  However, his 'Cubi-borne insomniac tendencies left him a very light sleeper and the sound of the tent flap opening had him awake almost instantly.  Meanwhile, Richard lay asleep in blissful ignorance, hands still clad in his precious gloves.

"Did you have fun?"  Syd whispered, and then froze as he realised the newcomer wasn't Sheila.

"I'm sorry to disturb you," the voice said quietly.  "It's Nickolaus.  The... the professor said I should bed in your tent.  I think it's because of our shared heritage."

"Ah, that's fine," Sydney whispered, curling up on the floor.  "You can use my sleeping bag.  I don't need to sleep much anymore."

"You're most kind," the young jackal said, and promptly fell asleep.

* * *

"Where is he?"  Nigel asked.  Ashley made a sullen face and pointed towards an open door, one of the meeting rooms in the Arctic base.

"You'll need this," the lynx added, handing the Alsatian hound a hard hat of the type usually used by construction workers.

"I take it he's in a playful mood, then?"  Nigel asked, his leathery grey headwings disappearing and his backwings drooping slightly as he put on the helmet.

"Pretty much.  If you can coax him outside, there are a few matters for his attention."

"No shit," Nigel said, and ran inside, clutching a small folder.

The meeting room had been rearranged, with the tables stacked neatly in a corner, leaving most of the room wide open space.  In another corner was a huge stack of cardboard boxes labelled 'Minestrone Cup'O'Soup With Croutons', which had clearly been shaped into a fort.

Standing slack-jawed, the incubus suddenly yelped as something hard slammed into his hat.  Glancing around he noticed it rolling across the floor, a medium-sided marble.

"For the love of the gods," he yelled, "I don't have time for this!"

As he headed towards the crates, a hand popped up and a vicious catapult hurled another marble at him.  Nigel swore loudly, and Daryil's head peeped over briefly, a pair of headphones over both ears.

Nigel folded his arms and ducked another marble.  He remained dodging and weaving for several more minutes until the flow of marbles stopped.

Thank the gods, he thought, He's run out.

"My Lord," he called out... and stopped short, as a tearing sound came from one of the boxes.  It was followed shortly after by a glimpse of the catapult and a volley of crutons, noodles and dried peas.

Nigel went apeshit and swan-dived into the base of the fort, collapsing it.  There was a brief struggle and Daryil lay pinned to the ground, catapult and music player safely in Nigel's belt.  With a sinking feeling, the Alsatian realised that Daryil didn't have the clan mark on his chest, and he hadn't felt Daryil's aura either.  That could only mean that the fox he'd just wrestled was only an avatar, a psychic projection.  The real Daryil was somewhere else.  Causing even more mayhem, Nigel thought with a shudder.

"So you think you've won?" the fox sneered.  "Just look behind you!"

"No minds there," Nigel said.  "You don't think I'm that stupid?"

The next moment he found himself inside a box of cup'o'soup packets.  Two Daryils watched in hysterical laughter as the incubus struggled to paw the box off his head, loosing a small trickle of powder and other fragments of dried soup onto the floor as he did so.

"You bitch," Nigel said.  "With all due respect, my Lord and Leader, I'll get you for that."

"So, was there something?"  Daryil asked him, banishing one of the avatars he'd created.

"Yeah," Nigel fumed.  "Do you want the good news, the bad news or the terrible news?"

"Tell me the good news first," Daryil decided, still giggling slightly.

"Okay.  The good news is that the 'Cubi Registry have identified the feather belonging to the assassin sent to assasinate the assassin who assassinated Arnold," he said.  "Uh, that sounded better in my head."

"I get it," Daryil said.  "Whose feather is it?"

"Well yeah, that's the snag.  See, the bad news is that they won't tell us who it was unless you fill out these forms..."  He plonked the folder into Daryil's hand.  "Only Tri-wings and emergency services are allowed to make cross-clan queries."

"And the terrible news?"

"Illiath's School for Incubi and Succubi has been attacked and conquered.  Yesterday."

"Yesterday?!"  Daryil fluffed out.  "Why didn't you tell me earlier?!"

Nigel gestured solemnly at the base's entire supply of cup'o'soup, some of which still resembled a fort.

"Uh yeah," Daryil said, ears flushing, "But why today?  Why didn't we learn about it when it actually happened?!  Why didn't the staff inform us?!"

"The email server was down again.  I only found out half an hour ago when the queued messages started to arrive."

"Gods dammit.  We need to take that in-house again.  Do we know who has attacked it?  Have they made any demands?  And why, for the love of the gods, were we alerted via email anyway?!"

"We don't know.  If they've made demands, they haven't made them directly - the worldnet site for the school is still the same as before.  There's nothing about it, whoever has done this had hit hard and fast and used a lot of stealth.
"We only found out at all because Illiath herself managed to fire off an email to us and to the later years, explaining the situation.  She's in hiding now and cannot be reached."

Daryil whistled.  "They drove Illiath out?!  But she's of Taun's clan!  She's taken down Demons!"

"Indeed.  So if you decide to visit, my Lord, please take care.  It could be a ruse to do to you what the Dragons did to Siar and her clan."

"Noted," Daryil said.

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


I worry for Jakob even though he has more than a few hundred years of experience, I mean unless he can improve his speed to match that of the mare...


Another interesting installment of the story.

I gues that Jakob's past still makes an impression even after all this time and attempts to show he isn't as bad as he use to be or that his old self was more of a front to intimidate others.

I'm actually finding these robots interesting. Even more is given on how capable they are in combat, but still limited in the thinking department. I'm curious how they would fare against Jakob's Panther's or if Jakob made any spec improvement's to some of their Models?
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Quote from: joshofspam on August 11, 2012, 12:29:24 PM
I'm curious how they would fare against Jakob's Panther's or if Jakob made any spec improvement's to some of their Models?

The Panthers are kind of restricted technology in the post-PF era.  Jayhawk and their competitors are working under a number of restrictions and regulations.

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


"And why, for the love of the gods, were we alerted via email anyway?!" <- That part made me laugh.

I'm sure I could say more things... There's suspense, interesting things are going on in all fronts... But I guess I'm just too tired to focus on the details. :\
~~ 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

llearch n'n'daCorna

"idle until your name is called again"

... now, there's an instruction with a loophole the size of a bus. If I heard that, I'd be thinking about removing Trixie's head. If, of course, I thought that would stop her - which I'm less sure about...
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on August 12, 2012, 05:29:41 AM
... now, there's an instruction with a loophole the size of a bus. If I heard that, I'd be thinking about removing Trixie's head. If, of course, I thought that would stop her - which I'm less sure about...

There are about seven prototypes, from 'Sophie' through 'Zafira', each with various improvements to the AI, but there are still a few '...but no-one would do that!' bugs.  In the chapters I'm currently writing (33 and 34) Illiath finds one which even I have no idea how they can fix.

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


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on August 12, 2012, 05:29:41 AM
"idle until your name is called again"

... now, there's an instruction with a loophole the size of a bus. If I heard that, I'd be thinking about removing Trixie's head. If, of course, I thought that would stop her - which I'm less sure about...
I thought about that too, but I think it would be more effective to neutralize those who would say her name. Then Trixie wouldn't be an issue.
~~ 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


Oh my gollie goshness!  A third Tapewolf story in my lifetime!

All kidding aside, I like this story.  Even though I am truly hoping against hope that Richard actually does something evil, just because there is too many goody twoshoes in this story. :U

The chapters aren't terribly long or short, there's a fair bit of detail, and interesting characters.  Going to read through a couple more times to make sure I didn't miss anything.

Also, don't know if this is considered bad form to do, but if it is say so and I shall put the following in strikethrough or something.  If you ever commit this to a comic, and do a Questions from the Readers bit, here are a few questions I ask of you.

  • Did Simeon ever convert to Daryil's clan, or remain a Kamei'sin?  Why?
  • Did Ashley every get the 'by appointment' removed from his clan mark?
  • How many times has Daryil abused his new giant base form?
  • Are there school rivalries between ISIS and SAIA?
  • Was Daryil Day ever made official?
  • Are the android bodies still being improved upon, or have other projects taken precedent?

I don't mind if you don't answer any of them, but just felt like asking.  Sorry again if I offend anyone.


Quote from: Meany on August 13, 2012, 12:28:44 AM
Oh my gollie goshness!  A third Tapewolf story in my lifetime!

All kidding aside, I like this story.  Even though I am truly hoping against hope that Richard actually does something evil, just because there is too many goody twoshoes in this story. :U

He already has...

QuoteThe chapters aren't terribly long or short, there's a fair bit of detail, and interesting characters.  Going to read through a couple more times to make sure I didn't miss anything.

Also, don't know if this is considered bad form to do, but if it is say so and I shall put the following in strikethrough or something.  If you ever commit this to a comic, and do a Questions from the Readers bit, here are a few questions I ask of you.

Thanks, I'd very much like to.  However, Project Future is going to last at least another 5 years at its current rate, and I don't want to have to wait that long.  At the same time, running the sequel concurrently with PF would be pretty weird.

I already had to drop or obfuscate a few bits of dialogue in chapter 15 and the next chapter to avoid spoiling things which have yet to happen in PF.

One of the things I am considering for this story is switching to a weekly update cycle for a bit.  I won't be able to keep that up forever, but the buffer has got a lot bigger than I had envisaged and is actually a bit of a burden.  What I'm writing now won't appear for something crazy like 8 months at the current update rate...

QuoteHow many times has Daryil abused his new giant base form?

"I mean, when it first happened, I thought it was rather cool.  I figured we'd never have trouble changing the lights in the warehouse again," he said, pointing at the mercury vapour bulbs suspended from the high ceiling.  "It was a disaster.  Have you ever tried picking up a soap bubble with your fingers?"

"The bulbs were like that...?"

"The fittings were like that," Daryil said.  "I didn't get as far as the bulbs."

(chapter 23)

QuoteAre there school rivalries between ISIS and SAIA?
Not in a particularly hostile manner.  They have different approaches, and obviously each one thinks that their way is best.  I have been toying with the idea of student exchanges, e.g. where ISIS students attend SAIA for a stretch to cover subjects which ISIS doesn't teach.
It's important to note that in the post-DMFA world, SAIA has lost a certain amount of its influence and other schools have sprung up.

QuoteAre the android bodies still being improved upon, or have other projects taken precedent?
Yes.  They still haven't quite got magic working properly yet, but there have been a number of improvements.  However, there are also a lot of restrictions which Jayhawk and their competitors are subject to.

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