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

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

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Oh dear, this is a very violent chapter.

Chapter 39

"Hi," Daryil said, sweeping into his office.  Mordrith and Julei found themselves just starting to kneel in obeisance before catching themselves.

"How fares things, my Lord?" Mordrith asked.

"Not bad," Daryil replied nonchalantly.  "Obviously the business with the school was a mess, but most people who are mad about it are mad at Fa'Rana's clan, not us.
"Though... I am a bit concerned about something."

"Anything we should be concerned about?" Julei asked.

"Yes," Daryil said.  "The school outing ran into a young Jyraneth incubus recently."

"Indeed...?" Mordrith said, eyebrows raised.  "Is that good news or bad news...?"

"Which would you prefer?" Daryil asked.  Mordrith and Julei looked at each other.

"Well, The good news is that he was a cuckoo," Daryil said.  "Nick has no idea who his Jyraneth parent was.  And that means..."

"They broke the Queen's law against having a child with a Being," Mordrith broke in.  "They aren't strict, they're probably not a danger to us..."

"Quite," Daryil said.  The bad news is that he was running away from his foster parents to try and protect them.  And before you ask, one of my clan has contacted them and they're safe.  The problem is that he's dreamed about the Lady.  That's who he was trying to run away from."

Mordrith fell against the wall.  Everything went grey.


"Most gracious Lady," the gazelle bleated, "I recant!  I was in error!"

"I am glad," Jyraneth said, "But it is too late.  If it were only up to me... perhaps, then, I could show some leniency to your sorry soul.  But it is not me, it is the Gods themselves whom you have betrayed.
"You know the price, Arleon.  Your twisted soul is a taint, a stain upon Creation itself - only by its sacrifice can the compact be renewed."

"I-" the gazelle began, and faltered.  "I recant my blasphemy and place myself at the mercy of the gods..."

Jyraneth nodded.  "May they accept your soul as an offering," she said, and gestured to Jasmine, one of Keaton's elder sisters and now, Jyraneth's chief executioner.

"Kneel," the tri-wing informed the gazelle, and reluctantly he did.  Jyraneth stared down at him, fixing his eyes with hers and somehow he wasn't able to close them or turn away.

"In the name of the Gods," the Lady intoned, her eyes still fixed upon the gazelle's, and the executioner brought the sword down.  Jyraneth's back-wings flashed out, catching the head in mid-arc and she held it for a moment, staring again into the eyes before clutching the cheeks.  Her hands glowed, and Arleon's soul shattered, bathing the Lady in a flood of energy which used to be her errant child's life force.  She sighed with contentment as the crowd watched, some with awe and righteous fervour, others with fear.  Devouring a soul was something which only happened to your victims, it could never happen to you, could it...?

Mordrith's eyes opened and trembling, he put the scroll down.  Unsuccessfully he tried to banish the terror he felt as his wife approached.

"We have do it," he said.  Julei took a step back.

"So soon...?" she asked, appalled.  "But it's 15548.  We still have nearly two years before the Gathering..."

"She'll know," Mordrith whimpered.  "We won't last until she probes us at the Decennial Gathering.  The Inquisitors will realise before then.  Look at the morale in the city... after Arleon... someone else will crack and there'll be a purge.
"They'll be all around the city, scanning for thoughts of subversion or discontent, I know it...  And we'll be next, the both of us - the next to feel Jasmine's blade and the Lady's Kiss...
"No, no... we have to get out.  We need the Warp-Aci.  We'll have to try summoning it tonight..."


Someone was shaking him.  "Mordrith...?" Daryil said.  The doberman jumped with a start and looked back at him.  Julei was also gazing at him, her face lined with concern.

"I... I was just thinking..."

"About Jyraneth, right..." Daryil said.  "Keaton did exactly the same, and I don't blame you.  It's a funny thing, you know... I've spoken to a lot of Jyraneth and everyone, even the ones who considered themselves loyal, every Jyraneth has some kind of secret sin, some kind of Jyraneth-would-have-destroyed-me-if-she'd-known..."

"She found out Arleon's secret sin," Mordrith said, and Julei flinched at the name.  "He was five hundred years old when he... died.  It took five seconds for the Lady to destroy him forever."

"Even so," Daryil interrupted, "If she has re-awoken - and we're not sure yet - you should be safe, so don't panic.  I'm more concerned about Nicklaus, and of course, Sydney.  It was already your plan to induct Syd into the clan, but I would appreciate it if you could also adopt Nick.  I think he'd make a fine addition to your clan."

"Yes," Mordrith said.  "Though I will want to meet him first, of course."

"Naturally," Daryil said.  "But I really don't think you have much to worry about there.  He is young and was brought up as a Being.  Discovering he was of Jyraneth's clan appalled him."

* * *

"Dr. Handling is here, Lady Finch," Johan said, leading a leathery-winged badger incubus into the study.

"Excellent.  Have you made any headway with Wendy?" the wolf asked.

"I believe so, my lady," the technician said.  "We managed to reactivate her fully, but we were also able to download the black-box log from her brain and replay that too."

"Indeed!" the succubus said, leaning forwards.  "Have you found out how Illiath was able to override our commands?"

The badger paused, swallowed, and glanced at Johan as if seeking reassurance.  The feline nodded back.

"My lady, she shapeshifted into you, and-"

The wolf succubus let out a piercing feral scream, rage so deep that as to be utterly beyond words.  Frenzied, she knocked over the desk, wing-tentacles lashing out with deadly fury.  Johan hit the floor, Handling was not quite so lucky or well-practiced and the vicious thing skewered him through the side.

Johan rolled over, and blasted his mistress with some kind of calming spell.

"Medic," he said urgently over the intercom, and shortly afterwards a warp-aci appeared to remove the unfortunate technician.

Lady Finch clawed the wall, leaving a great tear through the plaster.  When she was done, she pointed accusingly at Johan.

"Where is Doctor Handling...?" she demanded furiously.

"In the medical wing," the feline said calmly.  "I believe he will survive.  It is only fair that his wages be substantially increased after this... mishap."

Lady Finch covered her face and sank deeply into one of the chairs that had not been destroyed in her rampage.  "Let it be so," she said.  "When he is up I will give him a compensatory bonus and a formal apology.  Under the circumstances I should probably do so over a video link rather than in person...  What about you?  Are you hurt?"

"No, my lady.  Though if I may be so bold, you should perhaps consider more anger counselling.  The Professor will be extremely displeased if you kill fellow clan members in the course of their duty.
"In any case, if you feel ready to continue, I can patch you through to Dr. Handling's supervisor, Dr. Fuller."

"Do it," the succubus said.  A few moments later, a meerkat appeared on a nearby wall-screen.  He did not look pleased. 

"I heard what happened," he began sourly.  "Dr. Handling was one of my best and brightest.  You may be in temporary command of the clan, Lady Finch, but if he dies... good luck finding someone to replace us, because you'll need it."

"I am deeply sorry about what happened to your deputy," the wolf began, with a contrite look.  "That will not happen again and I will do my utmost to ensure that he is healed promptly.  In the meantime, there are still questions left unanswered and I cannot wait until upon his recovery.

"He tells me that our androids can be overridden by impersonating one of us," she said and was unable to prevent her face becoming a snarl.  "How come no-one thought of this?!"

"We did," Fuller said sullenly.  "But since The Professor pointed out that all 'Cubi stand to benefit from our great work, Alexandar disregarded the idea that an enemy 'Cubi might countermand our orders.  Besides, they weren't ready to leave the base yet, and the idea of an outsider breaking in was ludicrous."

"But with Johan Cross..." Lady Finch protested.  "The fact that we were trying to kidnap Daryil's son... Are you telling me it wasn't obvious what we were doing...?!" She stared back at him with an air of frank disbelief playing across her features.

"No-one saw fit to tell us that the robots were going to be used in the field," the meerkat snarled.  "They are experimental and they aren't ready for full use.  Naturally we assumed that the initial run were for our own internal testing purposes and an impostor would be a most unlikely scenario at this stage in the project.
"Besides which, we were told that finishing the portable jump device was top priority.  We only had the staff to tackle one of those problems by the deadline given."

"You may go," Lady Finch seethed, and cut the link.  "Johan, if you would, please attend to Dr. Handling.  And offer him my apologies."

* * *

"How's it going?" Daryil asked Illiath.

"All considered?  Not bad," the succubus replied.  "Granny bitched about me contacting her magically instead of in person, but I think she was relieved to hear from me, even if she didn't really show it."

"She never does," Daryil said.  "Maybe when I'm fifty thousand, I'll be like that too, but I'd like to think I'll still have room for a little fun in my life.  I mean, what's the point in living that long if you're just going to be dull and boring..?  No offence intended," he added.

"Stop," Illiath said, giggling slightly and then attempting to assume her usual, businesslike expression.  "My students mustn't see me like that.  Anyway, uncle, any ideas how I can reclaim the school?"

"Hmm," Daryil said.  "Tricky.  I mean, usually I'd call up The Professor and try to arrange some kind of deal to get them to leave.  But I hear he's... unwell.  Apparently someone punched his lights out pretty thoroughly."

Illiath shifted uncomfortably.

"The other option is conquering the school and taking it back by force, but I don't want to do that," he continued.  "It would probably end messily.  So I guess I'll have to try calling up Lady Finch and see what she has to say.  Maybe I can cut a deal with her.  Though I think it would be best if you weren't part of that conversation, since she is probably still pissed at you.
"Come to that, she might not want to talk to me direct.  I might have to ask Jakob to negotiate on my behalf."

"Agreed," Illiath said.  "In the meantime, classes seem to be going well.  If the Fa'Rana guys don't want to give, perhaps we could compromise?  If they'll let us have our students' property back and enough equipment to continue classes here, that would do pretty well."

"I'll make that suggestion," Daryil promised.

* * *

"Are you sure, Parthas...?" the vixen asked, headwings fanning out.

"He took great pains to conceal the calls," the cheetah pointed out.  "It was extremely cunning and it's only by the sheerest chance that we found it at all.  None of the calls show up anywhere in the system... if that's not the work of an undercover informant, I don't know what is!"

"What the fuck are we going to do about this..." the vixen moaned.

"Inform her, I suppose," the cheetah replied.

"Oh nonono.  I'm not doing that.  She practically killed Handling over the android shapeshifting thing and that wasn't even his fault!  Now you want to tell her that the traitor is...  Oh gods, she'd slice you in half!"

"Think, Maderia!  We can't just sit on it!" the cheetah protested.  "She'd kill us for that too... we'd be endangering the clan!  Oh gods, you're right... we're dead whatever happens..."

"We tell The Professor," the vixen said firmly.  "He's almost healed and should be up and about very shortly.  We sit on it until he has caught up, then we inform him.  We keep Lady Finch out of the loop for now.  In the light of Dr. Handling's injuries I'm sure he'll understand and will be able to tell her himself in a way that won't see us filleted."

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


Hmm... wise move. Sorry, I can't think of anything better to say right now.
~~ 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

Killing/blaming the messenger is always a good way to make sure the information you get is garbage.

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


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on January 16, 2013, 05:04:18 PM
Killing/blaming the messenger is always a good way to make sure the information you get is garbage.
...and/or arrives too late to be of any use.

"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"

I'm on deviantART.
Also FurAffinity

llearch n'n'daCorna

Indeed. Usually and - killing messengers means sooner or later they all fail to arrive with bad news, but are free to turn up with good news.

Of course, taken too far, you end up with _no_ news, as the messengers can't tell ahead of time if it's good or bad. Or, rather, if it's what _you_ think is bad...
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Not to mention it kills moral everywhere else.

Lady Finch might lose some of her clans loyalty if she slips up like that again.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Chapter 40

One of Daryil's avatars was sat in his office as Ashley and Niall came in.  Since he was preparing to call Lady Finch, Daryil was dressed formally, while Ash wore his usual lab coat.  Of the three, Niall was the odd one out, dressed only in a pair of boots and his trademark leather jeans.

"Well..?" the fox asked eagerly.  "Did you learn anything from the robot?"

"Oh yes," Ashley said.  "She is a positive goldmine.  We powered up the head inside a Faraday cage, just in case it has some kind of telltale, and were able to question it.  Illiath was invaluable as she was able to impersonate Lady Finch accurately, having met her."

"Apparently the androids have codenames.  Jakob met and destroyed one called 'Trixie', but we were able to find out the names of the others.  The original production run was from S-Z: Sophie, Trixie, Ursula, Vera, Wendy, Xenka, Yvonne and Zafira.
"Apparently, Sophie carried out the massacre.  Yvonne is the head Illiath brought back."

"Interesting, but not really earth-shattering," Daryil said, slightly disappointed.  "It's not that much more informative than what Calahan has already told us.  No offence to your technical skills is intended, of course."

"Ah, but you haven't heard the best bit," the lynx said, smiling evilly.  "Fa'Rana Clan have a security hole the size of the Fae Kingdom and they don't even know it.
"Think about it.  Like all the other mares, Yvonne is just a computer program.  She has no curiosity outside of her watchdog and targetting algorithms, so she hasn't exactly gone around asking about the clan's plans."

"See," Niall said, taking up the thread, "At first we thought that was a problem, but then I realised... Fa'Rana, Finch and the others are so used to thinking of Yvonne and her sisters as automatons, that they talk around them.  Even their movements are unnatural and that has only helped maintain that impression."

Daryil sat bolt upright, a rapturous expression playing across his face.

"Ye-e-es," Ashley said.  "Yvonne has perfect recall.  She can remember and cross-reference everything she has ever heard since she was first activated.  If Illiath teaches you how to impersonate Lady Finch, you will be able to find out everything she knows."

"Excellent work," the tri-wing told them.  "But of course, that cuts both ways.  Yvonne must not leave the lab under any circumstances, and no-one must enter without authorisation.
"We need to be careful what we say around her and ideally she should be powered down or put into standby when we don't need to talk to her." he paused.  "Actually, make up a set of warning signs too, that can't hurt."

"Before you do," Niall said, "I've been examining that jump device Richard was carrying when he arrived.  It's a very slick design, takes a lot of power, though."

"See if you can build a copy," Daryil said.  "It's only fair after they ripped off some of our android tech.
"Anyway, excellent work, guys.  But right now well have to leave it, I'm afraid... I need to call Lady Finch.  The real me is in the library chatting with Sheila if you want to continue the conversation there.  But be discreet, both of you.  It's probably best if Richard doesn't know about this."

* * *

"...and never to take the life of a Being or Creature except in greatest need," Sydney stated, holding his palm out as he swore the oath.

"With the gods as my witnesses," he finished, and knelt before Mordrith.

"Arise, Sydney Ja'Fell," the elder incubus instructed him, and Sydney did so.  Salomere rushed over to the fox and hugged him, and even Neremath found his vision blurred with tears.  Dorcan took Sydney by the hand.

"I'm proud of you, son," he said simply.

"Later, I will teach you to block the Lady's influence," Mordrith said.  "But for now... Nicklaus, are you prepared?"

The young jackal started as everyone turned to look at him.  "I..." he stammered.  

"There's no obligation," Julei said softly, "But it would probably be the best thing for you."

"You don't have to decide now," Dorcan said.  "We can do this another day if you need time to think it over."

"No," Nicklaus said.  Mordrith looked a little surprised and his headwings twitched, but he said nothing.

"Perhaps he wants to try and reform the Jyraneth from within?" Dorcan suggested.

"No!  I mean, I don't want to put it off," Nicklaus added hastily.  "I want to join now."

"Very well," the elder Doberman said, and looked rather happier.  "You have heard the rules of our clan from Sydney's induction.  They are broadly the same as Lord Daryil's clan.  Do you pledge to uphold them as best you can?"

"They are fair and just, and I agree to be bound by them," the jackal said, holding out his palm.

"Good.  Then let us proceed," Mordrith said.

* * *

Daryil hadn't finished dialling when Martha called from the Jayhawk Headquarters. He accepted the transfer gratefully and Lady Finch appeared on the screen.

"Ah, Daryil," she said haughtily.

"Oh!  Hi, Finch," the fox replied, with a cheery wave.  "I was just calling you myself, actually.  How's life treating you?"  The wolf's face screwed up as though she had just eaten a lime.

"You will address me as Lady Finch, Daryil," she snapped.

"You mean Lord Daryil," the fox returned smoothly.  "To what do I owe the pleasure of this call...?"

"I think it is time we struck a bargain, Lord Daryil."

"Oh good," Daryil said, looking pleased.  "You know, I was just thinking that it would be really nice if Illiath could have her school back, and that maybe we could figure out some kind of exchange or agreement..."

"Yes," Lady Finch agreed.  "I think a full-blown peace treaty might be too much to hope for at this time, but I was wondering what we might be able to agree on in terms of a prisoner exchange."

"Well," Daryil said, doubtfully, "My head of clan security believes that our... guest should face justice for the crimes they have perpetrated.  And he does have a point.  Mass-murder is not something we should want the 'Cubi race to be associated with because we have it bad enough already.  Much as I dislike the idea of having even an enemy executed, it would have political advantages..."

"But he is only young!" the wolf succubus protested.  "Everyone makes mistakes when they're younger.  Is it right that his life should be snuffed out so soon over some stupid juvenile mistake..."

"He...?" Daryil looked puzzled.  "Oh!  Did you mean Richard...?  Riight!  I thought you were talking about Hayley."

"I mean Richard," the succubus said tensely.  "He's my son.  I don't want anything to happen to him."

"Well, it's a funny thing," the fox said, leaning back and staring at the ceiling with a crooked grin.  "You see, I heard that someone was trying to kidnap my son.  I don't see why I should..."

"I can set that aside, I will promise we will never attempt that again.  But I want Richard back, today," Lady Finch insisted, her restraint beginning to crack.  Daryil sat up straight and gazed levelly at her, his gloved hands steepled.

"Lady Finch, I'm really, really sorry," he said, shaking his head slowly, "But I can not hand Richard over just like that."

"And why not...?" the wolf demanded, eyes narrowing.  "I can meet your demands, but I want my son back.  I will not have you hold him prisoner like this."

"Richard is not my prisoner, he's my guest," Daryil said.  "He's so happy here that he doesn't want to leave and it would break my heart to force him."

"Do you honestly expect me to believe that?!" the succubus snarled.

"Yes," Daryil said simply.  The she-wolf's eyes bulged and she struggled to keep her temper.  Behind her, a wing-tentacle had appeared and was wriggling blindly around as if seeking the object of her ire.

"Are you stupid?!" she snapped at last.  "Do you think I am stupid?!"

"No," Daryil replied, an edge entering his voice as he began to lose patience. "Though I'm starting to wonder.  Look, it's really simple.  Richard is studying at Illiath's school, or whatever your clan has left intact of it..."

"So..?" the succubus fumed.

"...So he made friends there and now he doesn't want to be parted from them," Daryil said sharply.  "You sent him there, and you didn't inform him of your own wider plans.  What did you expect would happen..?"

"That may be, but his place is at my side!  Not having his head filled with your ridiculous propaganda!"

"Lady Finch," Daryil began tiredly, "Do you think so little of your own child that you would break his heart?  He is rapidly coming into his powers, he has not yet learned to control his emotions and now you want to tear him away from his friends?  That would devastate him.  Do you really think that's in his best interests...?"

"What do you care about him, Daryil?" the wolf sneered.

"I care because he's one of my Children.  Even if he rejects me and goes off to join your clan, I don't care - he's still one of my descendants and that means I have a stake in his wellbeing!"

"Nonsense," Lady Finch retorted.  "He will get over it.  Richard can always make new friends.  They will soon forget about him, and he them..."

"Must I bring him here to convince you that this is a bad idea?" Daryil protested.

"You know I can't believe anything he would say in your presence, Daryil.  Much as I hate to admit it, you are right - you are his Clan Leader.  I know very well the powers that a Leader can wield over their children... in your presence he would be in your thrall, naught but an empty puppet mouthing the words you feed into his mind!"

Daryil's eyes blazed angrily, and Lady Finch shivered slightly with the knowledge that she had pushed a Tri-Wing too far.

"I risked my soul in ascending," he snapped, "I took that risk, and I sacrificed many things that you take for granted in order to help my children, to make their lives better.  Not so I could turn them into slaves."
With a visible effort, Daryil forced himself calm and stared fiercely back at the wolf, choosing his words with care.

"Lady Finch," he sighed, "I am deeply sorry that this exchange appears to have been a waste of time for both of us.  I hope that you will eventually come to your senses.
"In the meantime, I repeat my earlier offer, that Hayley can be returned to you - escaping the trial and likely execution at Marlbury which she richly deserves - in exchange for your clan actually vacating Illiath's school like you promised to do but haven't.
"I offer you that exchange, and I will give due consideration to any other proposals or counter-offers you may come up with.  However, Richard is legally an adult and old enough to choose his own path.  He has decided to stay, and I will not return him to you against his will."

Lady Finch quivered, searing with rage.  The tentacles had come out again.

"This isn't over, Daryil," she said and cut the link.

"Johan?" she asked, calling up her deputy, "How long until the androids are ready?  Daryil refuses to surrender my son.  We will have to use force to bring them in... Both of them.  Richard and Daryil's son."

* * *

"Professor Fa'Rana...?" the vixen said, bowing her head deferentially.

"Yes, Maderia?" he asked.  The raccoon's forehead was still scabbed and scarred from Illiath's earlier attentions and he dabbed at it occasionally.

"If you are well enough, there is something that has come up.  I'm sorry to spring this on you before you have had a chance to get back up to speed, but it is urgent and... sensitive.  It must be for your eyes only."

"Not even Lady Finch?" he asked, mildly surprised.

"It involves her, I'm afraid.  She is prone to rages, as you know... we dare not tell her what we've learned about the potential traitor she asked us to investigate."

"Ah, you wish me to be the bearer of bad news, is that it...?" The Professor smirked.  "Very well.  What have you learned?"

The vixen didn't trust herself to speak, but instead she handed the report to The Professor.  He scanned the first few lines and his expression became strangely blank.

"Thank you for showing me this, Maderia," he said quietly, after he had read the entire missive.  "Bad news is always the hardest to break, and I quite agree, Albeth would have flown off the handle had you gone to her directly.
"You have done very well and I will see that you and Parthas get a substantial bonus.  In the meantime, I will have to take immediate steps," he sighed unhappily, and called the main switchboard.  "Get me internal security."

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



Quote from: justacritic on January 20, 2013, 07:52:36 PM
I see that a bad moon is on the rise.

Well espionage is a risky business.

This is bound to make things more complicated for Daryil if the spy gets caught.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


I think this is probably one of the darkest chapters in the story.  Be warned.

Chapter 41

"What's the deal...?" Richard asked nervously, Illiath by his side.  The succubus had an oddly nervous expression as if she was being brought before the headmaster.  Daryil smiled at them patiently and then addressed Richard.

"Your mother called last night," the fox said.  "She made me an offer to return Illiath's school to her control."

The succubus blinked rapidly and her eyes narrowed.  "What's the catch?" she asked.

"She wants Richard returned to her," Daryil said.  Illiath glanced at Richard, who glanced nervously from Daryil to the headmistress and back again.

"I don't wanna go," Richard said.  "I like it here, my friends are here.  And... The Professor, he'll punish me!  I broke into Sydney's room to see him... I allowed our jump device to fall into your hands..."

"Good," Daryil said.  "Because that was what I told her.  Well, not the punishment part, anyway.  I just told her that you had chosen to stay and didn't want to leave.  She went kind of mental after that, I'm afraid."

"Thanks, my lord," the jackal said, bowing slightly to Daryil.  Illiath's face was impassive.

"Any comments, Illie?" the fox asked her.

"Well, obviously I would have liked to be able to return to my school.  But you're right, I can't possibly do that at Richard's expense."

There was a soft chime from the wall-screen behind them.  Daryil accepted the call, the two guests moving aside so he could see the caller properly. A purple Demon-mare graced his screen once again.

"We need to have lunch together or something," Daryil said.  Martha opened her mouth and closed it again.  "Come again...?" she asked.

"Well, we only ever seem to see each other when you've got a caller on the line," Daryil said.  "That doesn't seem fair to me somehow..."  Daryil stopped abruptly, twitching and wincing as if something very painful had just happened to him.

"Utch," he gurgled, gesturing frantically at Illiath and Richard to move out of the way.  He sounded angry, scared or perhaps both and began snapping orders at the pair of them.

"You two... move.  Illie, stay out of scanner range if you want to stay.  Richard, wait outside.  Martha... give me second and then put Professor Fa'Rana through.  Richard, get out!!!"

"How the hell did you know..." Martha started, staring at Daryil in amazement.

"Nothing," Daryil said and closed his eyes, composing himself.  "Okay, put him through."

"Ah, Lord Daryil," the raccoon said, as the screen switched views.  He wore a headband similar to Illiath's, covering up the wound she had inflicted on him.

"Hi, Prof," Daryil said happily.  "I trust you're feeling better now, after tangling with Illiath?  I spoke to your deputy earlier and I'm afraid things didn't go as well as I'd hoped.  But I'm open to any other offers..."

"Let us skip the pleasantries,"  The Professor snarled grimly.  "I am not here to barter with you, Daryil.  I am here to make sure you know that your attempt has failed.  You will now witness the fruits of your treachery against us."

"Attempt...?" Daryil said, trying to sound nonplussed, but his voice caught.  The view changed, showing The Professor from a more distant angle.  Beside him was a pale grey jackal, with feathery headwings, silver hair and red eyes.  His fur was matted with blood, he was bound and gagged and behind him stood Sophie.  She had Illiath's broadsword in both hands.  The Doberman succubus choked off a cry of dismay.

"Your traitor," The Professor said, gesturing at Callahan.  "The spy you planted among us."

"Don't do this, Professor..." Daryil said, starting to sound desperate.  "What do you want?  Richard?  You really want him back that badly?"

"No deals, Daryil," the raccoon said, shaking his head bitterly.  "You subverted the husband of my second-in-command, turned him against us.  For a betrayal so deep, Callahan must pay with his life.  Sophie, behead him."

The helpess jackal made a muffled cry of terror, which was suddenly cut off as the sword clove his neck.  Blood fountained from the dying young man and Daryil slumped across his desk with an agonised moan.  When the fox finally picked himself up his hands were trembling.  Illiath's were too, her eyes locked firmly on the video screen.  Her lip had drawn back into a curl of disgust and she began to growl in helpless fury like her feral kin.

Daryil's voice was unsteady.  "What makes you think," he began and his voice cracked.   "Why do you think you can murder one of my clan in front of me and not pay the price?  Are you hoping to have your soul blasted into a geostationary orbit around Furrae...?"

"Callahan was a spy, of course," The Professor said, sounding slightly surprised.  He lifted the severed head up by the hair, holding it in front of the camera.

"Callahan - if that was even his real name - was so high in rank that he was placed in temporary charge of our Brain Museum," he said, lip curling.  "Obviously he is now... indisposed, as you have just seen.  So unfortunately I will have to dissect his head myself..."

As he spoke, the camera moved to zoom in on the unfortunate jackal's decapitated corpse, slumped across the floor.  The Professor gently threw the head in its general direction.  It hit the ground with a clunk and rolled on its side, still oozing crimson from his dying brain.  There was a strange whimpering noise from below Daryil.

"Well," the raccoon concluded, "I think you get the point, Lord Daryil.  Much as I dislike the idea of slaying a fellow incubus or succubus, your actions have crossed the line.  If I find any further spies in my clan, you will see them suffer the same fate..."

"Professor," Daryil interrupted, "I think we need to talk about Richard."

"This is the wrong time for that," The Professor scowled.  "Know this, Daryil... we will have Richard back, whether you like that or not."

"You've lost him, Professor," Daryil said quietly.  "You'll never get Richard back now."

"We'll see about that, Daryil," the raccoon smiled.  "Your threats are useless against the forces I command.  Soon, he will be by my side once again..."

"After what you just did?!" Daryil started, eyes wide in disbelief.  "Are you sure you're feeling okay, Professor?  Did Illiath hit you harder than you thought?
"Look, Richard was already scared shitless of you punishing him and now you think... Oh, for fuck's sake!  You just beheaded his dad!  You think you'll be able to kiss and make up after barbarically murdering the person he loved most in the whole world!?"

"I know," the raccoon sighed.  "It was unfortunate and most regrettable, but all of us, Richard included, will have to face facts.  His father was a traitor to his adopted clan, the life he pretended to live was nothing more than a lie..."

"HE WAS WATCHING!" Daryil screamed, losing control.  "You just killed that kid's loving father in front of him!  You zoomed in on his dear Dad's SEVERED HEAD and THEN showed him pictures of the corpse, Fa'Rana!  You have probably just fucked him up for life!  What can possibly be going on in your head to make you think that was a good idea?!"

"You lie!" the raccoon said, his eyes widening in horror.

Daryil stood up rapidly and the dangerous expression on his face caused the Professor to back away involuntarily.  Even Illiath looked alarmed, and wondered for a moment if Daryil was powerful enough that he could harm The Professor over a video link.

Daryil stood aside, making a gesture with both hands and his desk rose a few feet, to reveal the quivering white jackal who had been hiding underneath it, concealed by the woodwork yet able to see most of the screen.  His eyes were wide, staring blankly into space and he made soft whimpering noises.

The Professor gestured wildly to someone off-shot and the screen went blank.

Daryil lowered his desk back to earth, but not before he and Illiath had gently lifted the stricken jackal from his erstwhile hiding-place and into a nearby chair.   

"I'm so sorry for your loss," Illiath said quietly.

"It could have been far, far worse," Daryil said, his voice still unsteady.  "Callahan knew that this might happen and he accepted that risk.  I wish this hadn't happened, but it has.  What I can't stop thinking about is Richard.  This is going to destroy him."

* * *

"NO!!!"  Lady Finch screamed.  She leapt at The Professor and punched him in the face.  The raccoon took the blow gracefully, making no attempt to defend himself or pay the wolf back for what she'd done.  He stared at the floor for a few moments as the wolf succubus collapsed into a chair, sobbing profusely.

"I am sorry, Albeth," he said.  "I know how much you loved him.  But Callahan was the mole, the one you personally ordered to be found and executed."

"I can't..." the wolf wailed, "I can't believe he would do this... why did it have to be him?"

"I liked him too," the raccoon said softly.  "But he betrayed us to Daryil.  All of our recent failures and setbacks can be laid at his door.  We had to make an example, even of him..."

"You're right," Lady Finch choked, "It was for the good of the clan.  But I will mourn his death, Professor.  For a long, long time."

"Do you think he will retaliate?" Johan asked nervously.  "He could wipe us out if provoked..."

"I don't think so," the raccoon said.  "Spies are spies.  Every treaty and convention in the history of Furrae has some provision for the execution of spies..."

"What about my son?!" Lady Finch shrieked.  "Daryil will execute him!"

"No," the Professor replied instantly.  "Daryil wants Richard.  He's not just a hostage, Daryil is trying to turn him.  I think he wants to bring Richard into his own clan.  The unfortunate death of Calahan may indeed make it harder for us to get Richard back now, but once the protoypes are repaired, even Daryil will be hard-pressed to..."

"Professor," the succubus choked.  "What about Richard himself...?  How will my poor child take this news?  You know how much he and Callahan loved each other...  After... after this... it must be broken to him as gently as possible..."

"Um," The Professor began unhappily.

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


I hear the bells of doom tolling and it tools for them both.


Chapter 42

"Must you do this?" Lady Finch protested, her voice wracked with sobbing.

"I'm sorry, Albeth.  But it has to be done," The Professor replied.

"Isn't it enough that you killed him in such a degrading manner?  In front of his own son, no less?!  Why must you now desecrate his mortal remains...?  The Brain Museum was intended only for our enemies, not our friends!"

"He was both!"  The Professor snarled.  "Yes, he was your lover and my friend, but he was also a traitor who took Daryil's shilling!  He sold us out!  We must make his fate an example to deter others.  Do you want to have to go through this again?!  Gods, what if Daryil tries to make Richard his spy?  No... we must have a deterrent."

"Yes, I know... it's for the good of the Clan," the wolf succubus sobbed.

"But I must also know if his brain structure differs from that of other clan members," the raccoon added quietly.  "If we can find potential traitors by means of a brain scan before they... um, hatch, it will save us from having such an unfortunate situation recurr in future.
"If you insist, I can cremate his skull and pelt after the autopsy, but his brains must go on display as a warning to others.  We agreed."

"We didn't think it would be my husband," Lady Finch wailed.

"Lady Finch," Johan said quietly, poking his head nervously around the door, "I realise this isn't the best time, but you have a guest..."

"Show them to my office," the succubus sniffed.  "I may as well see them now.  I can't see how things can get any worse today..."

"It's Jeremiah Taun," the feline added softly.  Lady Finch froze.

* * *

Richard lay in bed, sleeping.  While the jackal was, not as a rule, proud of his so-called 'Being weaknesses', he was not yet at a point where he could do without it entirely.  In any case, his present sleep was induced by one of the clan's medics.

Gently and tenderly, Daryil, the real Daryil, cast a spell upon the sleeping incubus.  It was a blended effect, both to bring him around and also to ensure he remained calm.

"Hello, Richard," Daryil said softly.  "How are you feeling?"

"Strange," the jackal said, his voice drifty.  "I feel... I should feel worse.  Don't seem to feel any grief for my dad... does that make me a bad person...?"

Sydney and Sheila glanced at each other, unsure what to say.

Richard sat up.  "Have you sedated me or something?" he asked.

"An emotional dampner, " Daryil said.  "I've blocked you from feeling sorrow or grief for the moment.  You've had a terrible shock.  You should never have had to see that.  I tried to stop it... I should have made Illiath remove you...  I didn't really believe the Professor would actually go through with it..."

"Yeah, you did try..." Richard said.  "I should have listened to you..."  He blinked and looked around the bed.  Sheila and Sydney were watching him with thin smiles, trying to hide their concern.  Illiath was further back, looking dour as usual.   

"It's not as bad as it seems," Daryil said, drawing confused glances from Sheila and Sydney.  "I look after my clan members, even wayward ones.  I don't think the Prof is idiotic enough to threaten his soul.  I can't make any promises, but it might - it just might - be possible to bring Callahan back.  As an android, of course."

"You'd do this... for me?" Richard asked, eyeing him curiously.

"For both of you," Daryil said.  "Don't forget, Callahan is one of my Children."  He closed his eyes for a moment.  "Was one of my Children."


"What do you plan to do?" Illiath asked, collaring Daryil as he left the medical wing.

"About Richard?"

"About The Professor.  I remember what you said... surely you're not really planning a revenge killing...?"

"Sometimes I wonder if that might be the best option," Daryil sighed.  "But bringing myself down to his level...  I don't want to do that, and it would set a terrible example to my Children."

"No, Daryil, I don't think you should, if you want my advice.
"You could, certainly.  After all, since you managed to get that panther in and out of their base undetected, a stealth assassination would be fairly trivial and unlikely to be pinned on you.
"But I don't think you should take matters into your own hands.  If The Professor has to die, he should at least face trial in Marlbury so that justice may be served.
"But I was really wondering more about a less direct form of retaliation," Illiath suggested.  "Not killing any of his clan members, but..."

"Taking them as prisoners of war," Daryil finished.  "Yes, I think I'll have to.  I'd rather not, but The Professor will be expecting me to react badly and I mustn't disappoint him."

"Are you sure?  He seemed to think executing that poor jackal was something you'd just set aside and forget all about."

"That was before he knew about Richard," Daryil pointed out.  "No, I must put on some show of fire-and-brimstone vengeance or he will get suspicious..."

"I see," Illiath said, eyes narrowing.

"If you do see, keep it to yourself, Illie, please," Daryil pleaded.  "Things are bad right now, but they could still get worse if we don't handle this just right."

"You can rely on me, uncle," Illiath said.

"Thanks," Daryil said.  Closing his eyes, he slumped against the wall and let out an exhausted sigh.  "Ugh, all this stress has really got to me.  I'm going to have to relieve it on Simeon later, if he's up for it."

"What does Simeon do to relieve his stress?" Illiath asked casually.

"Oh, he relieves it on me," Daryil said.  "Sometimes someone else.  We're 'Cubi, we have a fairly open relationship.  Come to that, Jakob has been kind of stressed too..."

"I'm sure he has," Illiath said, looking slightly embarrassed, and trying to change the subject.  Daryil stopped in mid-stride, ears pricked alert and his tail fluffed out slightly.  Illiath stared at him in concern.

"Is everything okay?  What's happened now...?"

"Oh," Daryil said, looking around the corridor as if searching for something.  "Part of me has taken a call.  We've just had a delivery of jam doughnuts in Thorsden office.  Frozen ones.  I need to go there at once."

The succubus frowned.  "Foodstuffs?  Surely you can delegate that to someone else..."

"No, you don't understand," Daryil said, and ran to his office, with Illiath in tow, looking worried.  "I have to get them to the course while they're still frozen..."

Opening the cupboard in his office, he pulled out a pair of golf clubs and handed one to Illiath.  "Fancy a round?"

"You're on," the Doberman said, grinning evilly.

* * *

Jeremiah was already waiting outside the office, dressed once again in his ceremonial platemail.  He bowed politely as Lady Finch arrived and followed her in.

"Greetings to you, Lady Finch," he began.  "I bring good news and bad, I'm afraid.  The good news is that Illiath has returned safely to Daryil territory and is reunited with her school."

"You could just have called," Lady Finch blustered.  "Surely that doesn't require your physical presence, ambassador,"

"Unfortunately, the bad news does," the husky said, gently drawing the sword from its scabbard and balancing it in one gauntleted hand, the tip grating slightly against the hard marble floor.  There was a faint shimmer of blue at the edges of the blade, and he tapped it gently with one finger.  "I hate having to make this kind of visit," he added unhappily.  Lady Finch swallowed.

"Taun is of course greatly pleased to know that her child is safe," he said, fixing the wolf with a steely gaze, a hidden menace that belied his effeminate figure.
"Unfortunately, her anger at the manner in which Illiath was taken in the first place has not yet dissipated, and I'm afraid that Taun - and especially High Command - still want your head as an example.
"However," he said, sheathing the sword, "I have been able to persuade them to accept instead a tribute, amounting to not less than four million gold dollars a year, and well... they'll probably forget all about this ugly little affair in a couple of decades.
"Payment shall be made in the first week of every financial quarter, or annually depending on how your clan's accounting practices work.
"Monthly is an option but the annual total will be rather higher owing to a surcharge imposed on us by our EFT provider.  Obviously, since this tariff is punitive in nature, we are not going to absorb the cost for you."

With a polite farewell, the husky bowed and left the complex.  A small hole was left in the marble floor, where his enchanted broadsword had been resting against it.


Jeremiah made his way up the elevator and through the house which gave access to Fa'Rana clan's secret base.  Not such a secret base now, he thought dryly.  At least two other clans know where it is.
His expression became jaunty as he realised that his mission was successful.  Assuming she doesn't bounce the payment, he thought, but dammit, it should be someone else's turn next.

As he opened the door, the husky's face melted into an angry scowl as he saw someone standing next to his vehicle, an ancient military jeep.  Completely devoid of advanced electronics, the ancient machine was extremely rugged and easy to repair, even spare parts could be made from scratch by any half-competent machinist.  For this and other reasons, they were a popular form of transport for certain Taun members.

Jeremiah's vehicle was TAUN035, not far off three centuries old, though it looked more like 50 years old.  Now someone was writing the registration code into a data tablet of some kind.  The husky's head-wings fanned out angrily at this affront.

"You're very brave," the incubus said and the traffic warden jumped.  "Ticketing a registered military vehicle of Taun's Clan," he continued, staring at the Being with his platemail-clad arms folded.  "And after what happened the last time...?  Must we go through all that again?"

"Please, sir..." the warden bleated.

"I know, you're just doing your job," the husky finished, and climbed in the vehicle.  "Well, so am I.  Send the parking fine to Taun headquarters if you must.  Just be glad you didn't clamp it," he added, gesturing at the sword on his back.

Oh yes, he thought sadly, as he drove back towards Taun's kingdom, What a very messy business, that was.  Even after we stormed the corporate headquarters, it still took a year to agree the prisoner exchange, and all over a 250 gold coin release fee...

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


An interesting turn for clan Fa'Rana.

That "contribution" might curb all their projects. Of course, if they ever figure out how to mass produce a fully functional and reliable robot, Taun might be the first group to get taken out by those robots.

Nice read! :mowhappy
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Chapter 43

"How are you feeling, Albeth?" The Professor asked, face appearing on a video screen.

"About the same," Lady Finch said slowly, her hair dishevelled and her tail limp between her legs.  "I will get past this, but it needs time... not interference and threats by some jumped-up, jack-booted..."

"Who are you talking about...?" the raccoon asked, eyeing the she-wolf curiously.

"The Taun.  Jeremy or whatever his name was."

"Jeremiah.  Who is he, though?  What does he want?"

"He is Taun's ambassador," Lady Finch said, with a listless sigh.  "He keeps threatening to murder me because we kidnapped Illiath and offended Taun or her subordinates."  She sat up, suddenly, fury in her eyes.  "This... Jeremiah... he demanded I pay them four million gold coins a month to avoid being executed!"

"Hmm," The Professor said, "I wonder..."


"Well, it's rare for Taun to make threats against another clan.  They call themselves the guardians of the 'Cubi race, you know.  Even that guy... Aniz, wasn't it?  He had both Jin and the whole of Zinvth after his blood and Taun blocked any attempt to have him face justice."

"Aniz Siar was the last of his clan, though," Lady Finch sighed.  "Taun wouldn't like the extinction of a clan like that, certainly not so soon after the murder of Siar clan's Founder."

"Well, that's the point," The Professor retorted.  "This behaviour is rather unusual for Taun.  But what if he's not one of her Children?  What if he's just trying to scam us?
"In fact... posing as an ambassador from such a high and powerful clan... it's genius!  Using Taun's credentials and threats of war, you could go anywhere that was 'Cubi-run!  What better way to gain access to our facility?"

"You think... you think he's a spy?!" the wolf said, eyes wide.

"It's possible," the incubus said.  "We'll have to follow it up.  If he returns again soon, pay close attention.  And if he slips..."

"Indeed," Lady Finch said, perking up as a savage light entered her eyes.  "But was there something?  Did you call me up just to check up on me or did you have a purpose in mind?"

"Ah, yes.  I'm afraid there was, Albeth," the Professor began, "We need to talk about Callahan."

"Oh don't remind me," Finch said, and began to weep, collapsing back into her earlier, listless state.  "What about him...?"

"It's about his brain, I'm afraid," The raccoon said apologetically.

"I don't want to talk about it!" the succubus snivelled.  "I don't want to hear about you cutting up my poor husband's brain..."

"It's important, Albeth.  Very important.  His brain is... well, it's abnormal."

"What?!" the succubus yelped.  "How dare you speak of my late husband in such a manner!  He was as sane as you or I!"

"Listen," the raccoon interrupted, a new sense of urgency creeping into his voice.  "Outwardly, it's a normal enough brain.  But the thing is, brain structures tend to change size depending on how much they are used.  His forebrain, various structures relating to memory... all the higher functions, they're atrophied, under-developed.  It's really strange... more like the brain of a baby than an adult..."

"What are you saying?!"  Lady Finch demanded.

"I don't think he was real," The Professor said.  Lady Finch collapsed into her chair, unable to speak.  A flux of conflicting emotions flickered throughout the room, though the Professor couldn't sense any of them over the video link.

"We know that Callahan was a traitor," he continued.  "We know that he was reporting much to Daryil.  But as you know, a Tri-Winged Leader can create avatars of himself, projections of his will, aspects of his true self that allow him to be present in several places at once, or enter dangerous situations with less risk of being destroyed.
"Albeth, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense... Callahan was Daryil."

* * *

"..and that's the most basic way to pick a mechanical lock," Illiath concluded.  "It doesn't use any magic or powers, just a simple appreciation of the pins and tumblers.  There are quicker ways, but doing this manually allows you to remain in Being form and it won't set off any spell detectors or wards.
"That aside, most of the more advanced techniques follow on from this, so I advise you study it well.  Next lesson will be the practical."

Niall collared Richard as he left the Breaking-and-Entering class.  Sheila and Sydney had been going to the refectory with him, and hung back, watching with interest.

"Richard," he said, "I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions about that jump device of yours."

The incubus wilted.  "I... I can't!" he whimpered.  "If they find out... they'll murder me!  I was never supposed to have borrowed it at all, and now it's in enemy hands... oh gods, oh gods..."

"You're under clan protection," Sheila said, comforting the incubus.

"I understand," Niall said.  "I... I heard what happened to Callahan.  I'm really sorry, and I quite appreciate that you might want to keep your options open."

"Are you Niall?" Syd said suddenly.  The fox glanced at him, surprised.

"Yes," he said.  "You're Dorcan's child, right?"

"Yes," Sydney said.  "You saved my father."

"I made it my business to try and save a lot of people," Niall said, looking happy but embarrassed.  "Fortunately things are a lot better now.  I'm only sorry that I wasn't able to save his body as well as his soul."

"It's not your fault," Sydney said.  "You did your best and I'm grateful for what you did manage.  If you hadn't... he wouldn't have been able to rescue me, and I'd be dead too by now..."

"Hopefully I'll be able to rescue Richard's father too," Niall said.  "That's going to be hard, we'll have to get part of his body in order to access his soul easily, but we'll do it somehow, even if it means breaking into Fa'Rana's base."

"I was wondering," Sheila asked, "What made you decide to do this?  Why did you put your life on the line to save others?  It's a noble goal, but... was there a reason for it?  Did you... did you lose your own father...?"

"I thought you'd have read about it," Syd said, glancing back at the Border succubus.

"It's too recent," Sheila replied.

"I lost my mother," Niall said.  "But she died when I was very young.  No, I nearly lost me.  If it hadn't been for Johan Cross..."

"He tried to kill you?" Richard said, eyes bugging.  "The Dark Lord of Ha'Khun?  What did you do?!  How did you escape?"

"No, no, no," Niall interrupted.  "He saved me.  I was going to be executed as a Creature, I was about 19 or something when my headwings came in."

"You're just screwing with me," Richard protested.  "You?  Saved by Lord Cross?  Don't talk crap."

"That's what he was calling himself at the time," Niall said.  "And I was his heir.  Obviously he didn't want me to be hanged!"

"You... you're Johan Cross' son?!"  Sydney bleated.  Richard said nothing at all.

"Call him Jakob," Niall said, making a pleading gesture.  "He's ashamed of the Johan Cross era.  Though I'll admit that saying I was saved by Cross makes a better story.  And yes, I'm Jakob's son.  Well, it's a little bit odd, to tell the truth.
"See, after Jakob left the Academy, he did the incubus thing and had it off with some vixen woman in an inn.  Then he was chased away.  She was with child, but she gave birth to a Being, as far as anyone can tell.  But then, a couple of generations later, I was born.  We think that the 'Cubi factor went dormant, skipped a couple of generations and then something re-awoke it."

"That doesn't sound terribly plausible," Sheila said doubtfully.  "No disrespect, I mean..."

Niall shrugged.  "So I'm a freak of nature... it happens.  Magic is fickle and we're magical creatures.  Stranger things than that have happened, like how some 'Cubi end up with traits of Quoar clan despite no obvious connection.  Or how sometimes a Being-'Cubi pairing can end up with just a Being, which all the books say isn't possible.
"I think the weirdest combination is that rare breed who are born without backwings until their headwings would come in.  Only they never get headwings, their backwings come in at that point instead.  They're still 'Cubi, they can shapeshift and read thoughts, but they're weak and strange..."

"I've read about that," Sheila said.  "It's really, really rare..."

"But I digress.  However I got there, I'm here now.  In any case, Jakob felt that calling me his great, great grandson was too much of a mouthful, so he adopted me as his son."

"What... what was it like, being the son of Johan Cross...?  I've read so much about him and his deeds... how much of the legends were true?" Richard asked, eyes shining.

"Depends what legends you're talking about," Niall said.  "The whole thing about him eating thousands of souls and massacring millions?  That's a load of crap.  Seriously... you think a genocide on that scale would escape the attention of the Dragons?  Of Taun's clan...?  If he ate that many people he'd be tri-wing by now and the Dragons would have stomped him real good.  Do you think that he'd invent artificial souls if he was capable of such crimes?  Or that Daryil would have forgiven him for perpetrating such an outrage?  Sure, it was before the Tenets were formalised but Daryil would have gone mental if it was real.
"Talking of which, heh... How about that old saw about Jakob eating Daryil's soul in order to take over the clan?"  Niall giggled, and was unable to continue the story for a few minutes.

"What happened?" Syd asked, when the other fox was able to speak again.

"Oh, he was taken before the Being-Creature Council over that.  If you want a laugh, ask Daryil about that sometime.  Dad had him appear as a witness, and in front of the tribunal, asked him if he remembered being murdered...

"But no, when all is said and done, Dad went a bit crazy after losing Page.  No-one disputes that.  He became a bit ruthless, that's true.  But he wasn't a murderer.  He never killed if he could avoid it.  He did try to instill fear in the general population, though, and he regrets that now, as do I, really.  But that aside, Dad truly believed that most of what he was doing as ruler was for the best of the city and his people.
"And deep down, I think a lot of people agreed.  I mean, if you didn't anger Lord Cross, Ha'Khun was a safe place to be.  Most Creatures were eager to take that chance when the alternative was being murdered by passing adventurers 'just in case they were evil' or 'because they were a Creature'.

"I'd be lying if it was all smiles and roses.  It wasn't.  I can tell you honestly that the disappearances were rigged, though.  There was a group who were planning some kind of coup, the official announcement was that they had been mass-executed for treason.
"Well, I helped him with the 'executions'.  We used a portal.  We marooned the lot of them on a large desert island in the Western Seas.  Occasionally Dad went back to see how they were getting on."

"Bullshit," Richard said.  "You're one of those Cross apologists, trying to whitewash him to make Daryil clan look better."

"I was there," Niall said, with a patient expression.  "Not for many years, but I saw a slice of his rule from the inside.  I saw how he worked.
"Jakob's moral compass may have been damaged by his insanity, but there was a sound reason behind everything he did.  He was not a monster and when he sent me to SAIA, he made it plain that he did not want me to become one either.
"That's actually why he sent me away," the fox added sadly, "He was going to execute those two demons who murdered Azrael.  He didn't want me to see that, didn't want me to think it was a good thing.  He was also afraid that it might go wrong and he wanted to be sure that at least one of us survived."

"Dammit," Richard said.  "Why do so many of my heroes turn out to be frauds?"

"Well they do say that 'Cubi are deceivers," Niall shrugged.

"Does that mean you've just deceived me?" Richard asked hopefully.

"That's up to you," Niall smiled.  "Maybe you should ask Sheila...?"

"I think he was telling the truth," Sheila said.  "I've read about it."

"Gods dammit," Richard scowled.

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


"Dear we need to talk, you've actually been sleeping with enemy general"
Very awkward...


Slightly off topic from episode 43, The scientific progress in your reality is a bit odd, for example neither first or second generation nanotechnology is mentioned to exist, and while I presume fission energy exists, there is no mention of Fusion. Also with all the social pressure/ inequality, one would expect serious interstellar colonization efforts.
I am very curious about how you would imagine scientific progress, and this has been bugging me for some time. Other than these questions the plot is coming along nicely.

(credit: Gabi)


Quote from: Ignuus66 on February 09, 2013, 07:41:03 PM
Slightly off topic from episode 43, The scientific progress in your reality is a bit odd, for example neither first or second generation nanotechnology is mentioned to exist, and while I presume fission energy exists, there is no mention of Fusion. Also with all the social pressure/ inequality, one would expect serious interstellar colonization efforts.
I am very curious about how you would imagine scientific progress, and this has been bugging me for some time. Other than these questions the plot is coming along nicely.

Yeah, the fusion thing hasn't been touched on much (I think it's mentioned once in chapter 9 and later on in 47) because it was covered enough in Project Future / Future History.
Basically, they have a form of miniaturised aneutronic fusion based on a hydrogen-boron reaction, and this is used to power the bikes, along with Dorcan, Joshua, Azrael and the panthers.


The nanotech stuff again has its place, in that they have nanofabrication technologies, used in particular with android construction and maintenance.  However, they have probably hit strict limits in that the magical nature of matter in Furrae will interfere with nanoscale electronics.

Interstellar colonisation is a topic I have been saving for another story (which has been kind of abandoned...).  For one, it's unclear how many habitable planets there are in the Furrae cosmos.  The way the Fae talk, it's like Furrae itself is the only inhabited planet, and if the universe was built by them for a specific purpose, that's entirely possible.

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


Quote from: Tapewolf on February 09, 2013, 08:12:59 PM
Quote from: Ignuus66 on February 09, 2013, 07:41:03 PM
Slightly off topic from episode 43, The scientific progress in your reality is a bit odd, for example neither first or second generation nanotechnology is mentioned to exist, and while I presume fission energy exists, there is no mention of Fusion. Also with all the social pressure/ inequality, one would expect serious interstellar colonization efforts.
I am very curious about how you would imagine scientific progress, and this has been bugging me for some time. Other than these questions the plot is coming along nicely.

Yeah, the fusion thing hasn't been touched on much (I think it's mentioned once in chapter 9 and later on in 47) because it was covered enough in Project Future / Future History.
Basically, they have a form of miniaturised aneutronic fusion based on a hydrogen-boron reaction, and this is used to power the bikes, along with Dorcan, Joshua, Azrael and the panthers.


The nanotech stuff again has its place, in that they have nanofabrication technologies, used in particular with android construction and maintenance.  However, they have probably hit strict limits in that the magical nature of matter in Furrae will interfere with nanoscale electronics.

Interstellar colonisation is a topic I have been saving for another story (which has been kind of abandoned...).  For one, it's unclear how many habitable planets there are in the Furrae cosmos.  The way the Fae talk, it's like Furrae itself is the only inhabited planet, and if the universe was built by them for a specific purpose, that's entirely possible.
Ah alright, thanks, so first generation fusion and first generation nanotechnology is present, however interstellar colonization is barely touched. Which would lead to the question of accelerated terraforming, or the fact that even though terraforming a planet (best case scenario) would take around 2000 years, cubi live for a minimum of 3000 years, and probably more, and a theoretical nuclear pulse drive might be able to go at 7%-10% of C, thus a trip to a planet 100 lY away would take around 1200-1700 years (acceleration and deceleration) which means that a theoretical interstellar colonization/terraforming fits into a lifespan of a cubi. (since the travel time would feel substantially slower for the people on-board due to the theory of relativity.
For beings however, even with a lifespan of 150 years, it would be a project that would take a few hundred generations, thus not ideal.

(credit: Gabi)


In the 'Space War' setting, they had developed the Ashley Drive, which could jump between systems at a particular location away from the sun (think 'Mote in God's Eye').  It also had a distance limit a'la Elite, which meant you had to use certain routes to get from star to star.

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


Chapter 44

Daryil was sat in his office when the call came in.  Accepting it, he waved cheerily to Professor Fa'Rana as the raccoon's face filled the wallscreen.  The Professor did not look particularly impressed.

"Daryil, I know the truth about Callahan," The Professor began.

"You... do?" the fox asked, eyes slightly widened.

"Indeed.  We know he was just one of your avatars.  We know that he never truly existed at all!"

"Good job you didn't try to murder his soul too, then," Daryil said, flippantly.  "That would have got pretty ugly, it would probably have turned your brains inside-out.
"You know... this feud between our clans is kind of silly, Professor, and you know what?  You're kind of cute.  Could we kiss and make up...?"

"Don't be ridiculous, Daryil," the raccoon snarled.

"Oh, you want to go straight to the sex, then...?" the vulpine asked hopefully.  The Professor's mouth tightened and the screen went blank.

With a shrug, Daryil walked across the room to the control panel on his desk and pressed a button.  There was a slight flicker and he froze.

"Interesting," Illiath said, glancing from the image on the screen to the real Daryil.

"Yes," the Tri-wing said, and pressed a button.  On the video screen, the frozen image of him pressing 'stop' vanished and the picture went dark.  "I thought you might like to see that."

"Does he really believe that Callahan was just a projection?" the Doberman asked skeptically.

"I haven't got a clue," Daryil said, an expression of concern on his face.  "I'm not used to dealing with his level of crazy, whatever Taun may think.
"Remember, The Prof doesn't come from a tri-winged clan... he may not know that an Ascended Leader can't have children and that I can't possibly have sired Richard.  The question is... should I let him carry on thinking that?"

"More to the point, should we tell Richard?"  Illiath said, a grave expression on her face.  "I don't know what your game is, uncle, but there's something up your sleeve, I can tell.  If Callahan is alive, Richard has to know.  We can't keep his child in the dark about that, it's cruel."

"I guess we'll have to tell him something," Daryil said slowly and unhappily, as if wracked by doubt.  "But... oh, if only it was that easy.
"It's such a balancing act," he sighed.  "If I tell Richard the truth, there's a risk he'll tell The Professor.  But if I let Richard stay in the dark, The Professor may conceivably tell him things which we're not yet ready for Richard to learn."

Daryil sighed, sat in the nearest chair, got up again and paced the room.

"You're right, Illiath, the boy will have to be told.  It's too cruel to leave things as they are now.  But it's very risky.  I'll have to think about how best to put this to him."

"I'm glad," the Doberman said.  "After all, if he thinks you've been manipulating him, that will cause problems of its own.  You should nip that in the bud first."

"I will," Daryil promised, and turned to face her.  "But before I do, I've just had another product idea for Arnold's Cafe.  Tell me, Illie, what do you think about jam doughnuts made from flapjack...?"

* * *

"Well met, Lady Finch," Jeremiah said, his expression uncharacteristically jaunty, relieved that the business with Lady Finch was finally coming to a peaceful resolution.

"High Command acknowledge that it will take time to set up the direct debit account for your tribute, and are happy to accept the cheque you sent as initial payment until the recurring payment has been set up.

"However, the cheque you have furnished appears not to have been signed.  Would you be so kind as to do the honours?  There is also the small matter of a seventy-five gold dollar parking fine which Parbury has seen fit to levy upon my jeep.  Petty cash will be fine."

"Oh very well," Lady Finch grumbled.  She reached out to take the cheque from the incubus' gauntleted hand.  There was a flash from behind him, a look of surprise on the husky's face, and then he collapsed to the ground with a sound like some kind of accident in a hardware store.

"Well, that's him out of the way," Professor Fa'Rana said, stepping out of the shadows, pale green smoke still drifting slightly from the hand that had cast the spell.  He knelt and removed the unconscious dog's gauntlets, replacing them with a pair of enchanted bracers.  Between the pair of them, Lady Finch and The Professor stripped the young man of his armour and sword, and then frisked him all over, just to make doubly sure he was unarmed.
"He does seem to have the Taun clan mark," Lady Finch pointed out nervously, gesturing at the pink crescent marking that adorned the husky's blue-furred shoulder.

"That doesn't mean a lot," the raccoon remarked.  "It would be a piss-poor impersonation of a Taun clan member if he had the Daryil clan-mark on him, wouldn't it?  No, that's going to be a tattoo or something.  He'd have painted or dyed over his real clan mark."

"But what if..." Lady Finch quailed.

"We checked," Professor Fa'Rana interrupted.  "While there is a Jeremiah Taun, the cheque was sent to a P.O. box which we found was registered to 'Jimmy Tarn'.  Taun Clan would have had it sent to their own headquarters!"

"Yes," the wolf replied, her voice steely with determination.  "Of course, you're right.  When will he recover?"

"Left to himself?  About an hour.  But I can bring him around when everything is in place.  Even someone impersonating a Taun is liable to be fairly vicious.  We may need to use a second android to hold him down, in case he struggles or tries to escape..."

"We'll have to do with just one, unfortuantely," Lady Finch said.  "Sonia is undergoing routine checks, so Wendy will have to take her place.  She has been suitably briefed and I believe everything is prepared.  But I was kind of wondering... who should we actually call?  Daryil?"

"No," the Professor said sullenly. "He will attempt to seduce me again."

Lady Finch cast him a sidelong glance, wondering if she'd heard right.  "So... we go straight to Taun, then?"

"Yes.  The transmission will be recorded, of course.  All we have to do is send Daryil a copy afterwards."

* * *

With quiet confidence, Lady Finch dialled in the address of Taun's headquarters, looking it up over the WorldNet instead of relying on the card which Jeremiah had left her.  There was a short pause, and then a figure appeared on the viewscreen.

"Taun Clan," the jackal said.  Like all Taun members, she had leathery wings on her back and her head, and if that wasn't enough, the shock of Taun-pink hair on her head alone was enough to mark her of Creature blood.

"Caroline speaking.  How may I help you?" she added politely.

"My name is Lady Albeth Finch," the wolf succubus informed her, smiling gently and bowing politely.  "I represent Fa'Rana's clan.  Would you be so kind as to inform your Leader that we have caught a Daryil spy?"

"Inter-clan disputes are not really our business," the jackal said.  "However, Taun Clan urges that all such disputes be settled peacably, for the good of the 'Cubi race as a whole."

"I understand," Lady Finch replied, courteously.  "But this villain was caught masquerading as a member of Taun's illustrious Clan, in order to pass intelligence about our headquarters to his idiot master.  I felt it was only proper that the true clan should be informed of this insult at once."

"Are you certain?" the succubus asked, raising an eyebrow.  "This is a serious accusation.  For all we know you're trying to frame a rival clan in order to use Taun as a club to beat them with.  I presume you do have proof?"

Lady Finch made a gesture with one hand, that Caroline was unable to see and a technician switched camera, giving the jackal succubus a more distant shot.

Behind Lady Finch, Jeremiah knelt on the floor awaiting execution.  The husky's armour was nowhere to be seen and he wore only a pair of rough trousers.  His muzzle was gagged, his ankles were firmly tied and his wrists were pinned behind his back with a pair of enchanted bracers that shorted out his powers, suppressed his wings and generally rendered him helpless.

Beside him, expressionless as a statue and with just as much life in her eyes, an android mare stood.  Illiath's broadsword was held high in both her hands and the robot awaited only a word of command from her masters to bring it down, a single stroke that would sever the hapless young man's head like Callahan before him.  Even so, Jeremiah's expression was stoic and defiant.  

"We had thought to execute the spy out of hand," Lady Finch said sleekly, "But given the nature of this affront to the illustrious Lady Taun, I felt it best that she should be offered the satisfaction of dispatching this charlatan herself, or at least witnessing his execution if she so prefers."

Caroline wasn't listening, her expression a mask of horror.  "Holy gods," she said, and her face twisted into a look of sheer fury.  "Jerry?!"

"MMPHH!" the husky said through the gag, his expression indignant.  Lady Finch glanced nervously at The Professor, but then a sound from the screen distracted them.

"What is going on here..."

Taun's face filled most of the screen.  It contorted and she let out a bestial roar.  Behind her, an incubus at one of the other comms desks reeled in shock.  The picture wavered slightly and went blank.

The Professor swallowed and chose his words carefully.  A single mistake could leave Jeremiah dead and then... Taun.  Beneath the force of her anger everything would be crushed, The Professor, his underground complex, his entire clan... all these things would be left as nothing but fine dust blowing upon the wind.

The Professor began to speak in a slow and clear manner.  "Do NOT harm the husky in any way, Wendy," he began, "Wendy, stand down and sheathe your weapon.  The mission is aborted.  Put the sword down gently and carefully on the ground.  Then step away from the husky WITHOUT harming him, and then leave the room.  Wait just outside by the door until you are called for again."

Professor Fa'Rana breathed a sigh of relief as the mare obeyed, then he went swiftly to the husky, removing the gag and cutting the bonds on his ankles with a wing-tentacle.

"I appear to have made a very serious mistake," he said, voice trembling slightly.  "I am so deeply sorry for the inconvenience and the threat to your noble life..."

"You will be," Jeremiah said calmly.

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

Ah, the madness rebounds upon the owner. How fun. ;-]
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Errors of this magnitude often have similarly impressive - and terrible - side effects for those who made them, Professor. Do try and keep them to a minimum, your life may very well depend on it. Is what I'm expecting or rather the effects of strike number two, just realized that's what this was... disregard my first and second sentences. I expect more than a simple slap on the wrist this time. Yay! More Daryil silly-seriousness! I have greatly enjoyed the story thus far and look forward to the next chapter!


Quote from: Haianel on February 20, 2013, 10:07:49 AMYay! More Daryil silly-seriousness! I have greatly enjoyed the story thus far and look forward to the next chapter!

Thanks.  I am still having writer's block on chapter 52 - if it slips much further I will switch back to the original 2-week update cycle to buy myself more time.

Chapter 45

Jakob quietly entered Niall's studio and stopped to watch as the younger incubus lined up the centrepiece, a large 24-track recorder.  The wolf had seen this exercise before, and done it himself on occasion, but it was kind of fascinating to watch all the same.

Niall sat in front of the machine, which had its front doors open for servicing and adjustment.  He was holding a small non-conductive screwdriver to adjust the trimmers for each track, and staring at a small handheld meter on the floor.  A wrist-strap was grounded against the chassis to prevent his fur from building up too much static and zapping the delicate CMOS components inside the machine.

On the table an oscilloscope sat and one of his wing-tentacles was next to it, gazing at the display with a foolish expression on its little lupine head.  The other three tentacles were also employed, one watching the tape counter, one the channel meters and the other had no head, just a finger poised ready to stop and rewind.  The mixing desk was turned down somewhat, but there was still an irritating whine from the test tape that caused his ears to twitch.

"Was this the one you wanted?"  Jakob asked, placing the tape box he had brought on the table next to the 'scope.  The tentacle-head watching the waveform turned briefly and glanced at the label.

"That's the one," Niall said without turning.

"I'd offer to help," Jakob said, "But you seem to have this in hand.  Oh!  Want me to check the mastering deck as well?"

"I did that first," Niall said.  "Really, it's fine..."

The wall-screen suddenly chimed and Daryil's face appeared on it.  Niall's wing-head turned to watch.

"Yak?" Daryil said.  "Can you come to my office?  Or yours?"

"Can't we talk about it here?" the wolf asked.

"No, I've had a diplomatic call.  They are on hold, but I need you to talk to them.  You probably want to put on something a little less casual," he said, gesturing at Jakob, who was dressed much like Niall - form-fitting leather pants, a pair of the detached sleeves that Creatures often wear, fashioned from PVC.  He was not wearing very much else.

"Who's the caller?  Anyone I've met before?"  Jakob asked.

"Taun," Daryil said.  Jakob fluffed out.

"Not Taun herself," Daryil added quickly.  "Her clan's High Command.  Well, she might want to listen in, which is why I can't take part in the call myself - Taun doesn't like me.
"Anyway, I've asked Illie to be on hand too, since you may need to confer with her."

"I'll be right over," Jakob said.    

* * *

"Well, that was very stupid," Jeremiah said, holding out the enchanted bracers and making them explode.  "I am glad for your sake that you didn't go through with killing me.  Do you have any idea what mother would have done?  What she may still do...?"

"Who..?  What..?" the Professor said blankly.

"That lady who took the call...?" the husky said patiently, exercising his wings.  "The one with the pink hair who got mad when she saw her own son about to be beheaded...?  What do you think will happen?!  Who do you think Taun and High Command will be listening to right now...?  Oh gods, I'd better call them to let them know I'm safe and on my way back..."

"I... can't let you leave," The Professor said, swallowing.

"You're not serious...?" Jeremiah said, in scornful disbelief.  "After all the shit you've just dropped yourselves in, you're still not going to let me go...?  Why are you trying to make things even worse for yourselves?!"

"You've seen too much," Professor Fa'Rana said.  "If you reach Taun, she will know too and that will greatly aid her when she tries to attack.  We can't risk letting you go until Taun has calmed down.  But on my soul's life, I swear you will not be harmed while you remain here..."

"Illie has surely spoken with her already, and she knows at least as much about the layout and defences of your base as I do," the husky pointed out.  "Probably more."  The Professor froze, making no sound.

"I must call my mother," the husky said.  "At least give me that.  I can try to defuse this situation."

"Let him," Lady Finch said.

"But she will trace the call!" The Professor whimpered.

"High Command already did that when you called them," Jeremiah said.  "If you want, I'll keep it short, under a minute.  But I need to let her know I'm safe or else she'll assume I'm dead.  Trust me, you don't want that to happen.  There's a reason mother works on the front desk instead of fieldwork - she has... issues."

"But she's just one..."

"Professor," the husky snapped, "Have you forgotten Illiath already?  I've heard what happened here.  Illie was very restrained and did her utmost to avoid any casualties.  Partly that was because she just wanted to leave, and partly because she's half-Daryil and didn't want to upset him.  What I'm saying is, you got off really lightly.
"Had you actually gone ahead and executed me in front of my mother, Caroline would have come straight here, slaughtered you all, kept on killing until the building was empty and quite possibly killed herself as well to escape the displeasure of her Clan Leader.
"Do you now understand what you will be unleashing upon yourselves?  Please, for your own sakes, let me call her.  I can at least calm her down."

"Do it," The Professor said.

* * *

"Shit," Jakob said, and called Daryil.  Illiath looked rather concerned.

"What happened?" Daryil asked.

"Professor Fa'Rana," Jakob said.  "Taun clan's High Command wanted to know about him and his clan.  It looks like The Professor has gone off the deep end."

Daryil buried his head in his hands.  "Oh hell.  What's he done this time...?"

"Taun sent an ambassador to try and arrange a settlement after they kidnapped Illiath," Jakob said.  "This may have been set in motion before they found out you were safe," he added, glancing at the Doberman succubus.

"Taun was displeased about that, but she takes the long view," Illiath said.  "Losing individuals isn't something she likes, but she's used to it.  The Dragons and others tried to draw her out so that they could destroy her, and they did that by torturing members of the clan to death.  That sort of thing has kind of hardened her, and she has outlived basically all of her clan members anyway.  Point is, she can't afford to react with fire and brimstone to every little incident since that would get her killed.  But she would send someone out to investigate."

"The thing is, the Prof got it into his funny little head that Taun's ambassador was a Daryil spy," Jakob said.

"Oh gods... they beheaded the ambassador!?" Daryil yelped, aghast.

"Fortunately, they called Taun Headquarters in order to show her the execution live," Illiath said.  "I think the idea was that Granny might like to see the impostor die.  Instead, she got mad and they cut the call in a panic.  Last we heard, the envoy is still alive but nonetheless, Taun is... displeased.
"Caroline, the guy's mother, is very, very displeased and is actually howling for the heads of Lady Finch and Professor Fa'Rana.  High Command wanted to know what we knew about Fa'Rana while they decide what to do next."

"So I clued them in on what we know about the clan, and that was basically it," Jakob said.

"Good stuff," Daryil said.  "Well, if that's everything, there is something else I need you both for.  Something I need to you witness, in my office.  Bring Richard and he may need his friends as well.  Casual attire is fine."

* * *

"I'm not so sure that went well," Jeremiah said doubtfully, as he cut the call.  "Mother is relieved to hear from me, though Taun already told her I was still alive, which I should have guessed.
"However, that doesn't mean you are safe.  For while Caroline is no longer demanding a punitive expedition, your refusal to let me return has greatly complicated things, as I warned you it would."

"What will happen?" The Professor asked, in a dead-sounding voice.

"Well, before, Taun thought that you were idiots who might need teaching a lesson.  But now, particularly after a conference call with Daryil's ambassador, she is starting to wonder if your clan might instead be a threat to her long-term strategies and interests.
"If she concludes that you are a threat, she may order the both of you to be assassinated by the Shadows.  That is very rare, but it has happened before."

"How about this," he suggested after a pause.  "You give me back my armour, my sword and you let me go.  As an offering, I take back with me the following things; a signed pledge that you will return Illiath's school to her control and stop your squabble with Daryil, a tribute of at least 500 million gold dollars, the sword you stole from Illiath that you were going to kill me with... and Lady Finch."

"No...!" the she-wolf whimpered.

"It's the only way," Jeremiah said quietly.  "Taun wanted her head before.  If I bring Lady Finch before Taun for a quick and honourable death, my lady will be pleased and she will probably let the rest of you off with a warning, and an annual tribute only slightly larger than the one we had negotiated before.  I can talk her into accepting that, I think."

The Professor was silent, his face covered with both hands.

"You... you can't do that..." Lady Finch whispered.  "I'm your second in command."

"And Johan is third," Professor Fa'Rana said softly, a tear forming in one eye.  "I don't want to do this, Albeth, believe me.  But... Taun is mostly angry with you, with things you ordered.  But given the facts... balancing your life against the lives of everyone in the entire clan... what choice do I have...?"

"She's right," Jeremiah said.  "You can't do this."  The Professor blinked, uncomprehending.

"Lady Finch," Jeremiah said quietly, turning to face the she-wolf, "It must be your decision.  If you go willingly to face Taun's justice, you can save your whole clan.  A noble and selfless sacrifice such as this will please Taun much.  She may even spare your life, and if she doesn't, your passing will be quick and merciful with high honour.  You will not suffer.

"But if The Professor throws you to the drakes to save his own pelt, she'll know.  She'll know he was only trying to worm his way out of his own responsibilities.  An unwilling sacrifice will only anger her more."

"I'm sorry," Professor Fa'Rana said, putting his hand on her shoulder.

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


Ow, so Richard might lose his mother as well as his father.

That's terrible!
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Quote from: Tapewolf on February 22, 2013, 06:14:59 PM

"Taun was displeased about that, but she takes the long view," Illiath said.  "Losing individuals isn't something she likes, but she's used to it.  The Dragons and others tried to draw her out so that they could destroy her, and they did that by torturing members of the clan to death.  That sort of thing has kind of hardened her, and she has outlived basically of her clan members anyway. 

I think you a word out there.

"We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty!"

I'm on deviantART.
Also FurAffinity


I may be a bit forgetting of story details given in earlier chapters, but I wonder if these Shadows are something -other- than a blatant reference to Owona's clan.

Also, not going to lie, Taun is giving off the feel of a police state; but it is entirely understandable in this case.  Would just be nice to see some of the other clans weighing in.  Hail Piflak!


Quote from: Meany on February 23, 2013, 02:53:37 AM
Also, not going to lie, Taun is giving off the feel of a police state; but it is entirely understandable in this case.  Would just be nice to see some of the other clans weighing in.  Hail Piflak!

Considering Taun and her clan are essentially dedicated to protecting (and possibly also serving) the rest of the Cubi race, describing them as police would probably be fairly accurate, actually. 8)

Also, Tapewolf, if you're still having writer's block with only 6 chapters of buffer left, I'd strongly advise cutting back to a fortnightly update.

Icon by Sunblink


Quote from: LionHeart on February 23, 2013, 12:58:39 AM
I think you a word out there.

Thanks for catching that.  I think that was one of the last parts of the chapter I reworked, and clearly something distracted me mid-way...

Quote from: Meany on February 23, 2013, 02:53:37 AM
I may be a bit forgetting of story details given in earlier chapters, but I wonder if these Shadows are something -other- than a blatant reference to Owona's clan.

It is Owona's clan.  It fell out of a discussion with Amber about what Taun would do in this situation.  As did a lot of the Taun stuff, really.  She isn't flowers and roses and she is in fact a 'Cubi supremacist.  Not in a vicious or cruel manner, but she truly believes her race should be in charge.  Her (non-canon) kingdom is something like Zinvth, or even Ha'Khunn under Johan Cross.  Safe and secure, but woe betide you if you cause trouble.

And given the attitude of the adventuring groups as shown recently, I think that living in a strictly-policed area is a compromise many would be happy to make to avoid being randomly murdered.

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

Quote from: Tapewolf on February 23, 2013, 07:55:12 AM
And given the attitude of the adventuring groups as shown recently, I think that living in a strictly-policed area is a compromise many would be happy to make to avoid being randomly murdered.

I dunno. I mean, a police state is all well and good, provided there is a law, and it is clear up front what it is. If Taun can take it into her head that you're breaking the law because she doesn't like your haircut, for example, then it's very hard to make a life in a state like that.

And, given people are people, corruption in a police state is pretty much a given - which is why, in real life, they're to be avoided as much as possible.

In summary: not a decision I'd like to be forced to take. :-/
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"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on February 23, 2013, 10:22:38 AM
I dunno. I mean, a police state is all well and good, provided there is a law, and it is clear up front what it is. If Taun can take it into her head that you're breaking the law because she doesn't like your haircut, for example, then it's very hard to make a life in a state like that.

True.  Though given that she's more than 50'000 years old and that "abuse of any kind is not tolerated" is apparently part of the clan law, I imagine that a city with her in charge would be reasonably fair and just.  Jakob on the other hand, he could get a bit weird but then he wasn't in his right mind.  And he didn't actually kill anyone unless they posed a direct threat to himself or the wellbeing of his city.

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