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

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

Previous topic - Next topic


Chapter 53

Jakob's eyes opened with a start.  The first thing he saw was another pair of eyes, staring straight into his.  He let out a yell of terror, wings fanning out in panic.

"Daryil?!  What the hell are you doing?!" he exclaimed.

"Bringing you around," the fox said.  "We're in..."

"You are in Fa'Rana clan territory," a voice said, slightly stilted in the manner of the mare androids.  "Please do not do anything rash or you will be harmed."

Jakob and Daryil glanced around.  A female leopard stood there, her arms assuming a defensive posture, her eyes slightly glazed.

"What is your name?" Jakob asked.

"Anja," the leopard returned.

"Anja, I command you to destroy yourself," Jakob said, morphing himself to look like Lady Finch.

"Sorry bud, that trick won't work on me," the leopard said.

"Oh wow," Daryil said.  "Look, she's got a soul!  That'd certainly fix the AI problems, but her reaction times will go down the pan."

"Quiet!  Jakob, Daryil, get up - The Professor wants you."

"Ohhh....!" Daryil said, grinning wildly.  "I know who you are!  Bill!  How are you doing?  Nice to see that you're alive-ish..."

Anja's face contorted with rage and a pair of synthetic wings appeared behind her back, a smaller pair on her head.  "My name is Anja," she snarled.

"Hmm," Daryil said, looking at the leopard critically.  "The Prof still needs to work on facial expressions a bit more, right, Jakob...?  That's not a particularly winning smile."

"Yeah, I think we've still got an edge there with our androids," the wolf said. "I don't suppose it really mattered with Sophie, though.  I mean, she didn't really need an expression seeing as she had no emotions..."

"Never mind, I'm sure he'll get it fixed in the next version..."

"Shut up!" Anja snarled.  "It's your fault I'm like this, Daryil!"

"Mine?  My dear, you and your friend murdered the deputy mayor of Parbury and attempted to do the same to Mayor Dickens.  Many others would have slain you for that.  Had it been a member of my clan you had murdered, I'd have put your soul into orbit.  Instead, I spared your life, which is far more than you deserve.
"But if it's anyone's fault, it was the Prof who actually murdered you," Daryil said.  "Though I'm glad he reversed to process.  The Being-Creature Consortium might not be so happy about it, though... I bet he didn't ask permission."

"Shut up!" the faux-succubus snapped.  "Enough drivel!  You two are coming with me, like it or not."

"Just out of interest, what if we don't?"  Jakob asked cautiously.

"If you cause too much trouble, I might have to kill you.  You concentrated on making your androids comfortable for the souls inside them.  Our K-1400 chassis has been designed from the ground up as a warrior."

Daryil pulled a large gem from one pocket, and began to throw it in the air and catch it.  His hip-wings had become visible.
"Have you ever wanted to go into space?" he asked, glancing at the succubus for a second.  Anja looked at him, looked at the gem and took a step backwards, unnerved.

"Jakob is my envoy," Daryil said.  "My ambassador.  While I'll admit that refusing to go with you isn't exactly a model of diplomacy, he does have a point.  He is one of my Children, and he knows better than to go off with strangers."

"She started it..." Jakob began.

"Hush.  Anja, I'm not sure you were listening earlier, so let me make things crystal clear," Daryil began, holding out the soul-gem in front of him.  "Jakob may not be perfect but he is a very valuable member of my clan and if he dies, I'll make you wish you could."

"Understood," Anja said sullenly.  "Lord Daryil, would you and your ambassador please follow me?  The Professor would like to have a word with you."

"Certainly," Jakob said, and the pair of them followed after her.

* * *

"Well, here we are," Julei said, gazing over the windswept moor, her hair streaming out behind her as she gazed at the dark and forbidding mountains looming in the distance.

"The Hidden Valley is over there," she said.  "It's about half a day's march away, but we don't know who or what lives there yet, so approaching it from a distance seemed the safest bet."

Josh nodded listlessly.

"Are you still brooding over Daryil?" Julei asked, her voice touched with a quiet concern.

"Pretty much," the husky said.

"You must forgive him," Julei and Salomere said in unison, and then glanced at each other in mild surprise.

"Lord Daryil a good man and well worthy of ascension, but he can be trying at times, when he gets in the wrong mood," Julei explained.  "He very much believes in free love."

"Freer than most," Salomere added quietly.

"We'll wait until it gets darker," Julei decided.  "Approaching in full daylight... even with the forest cover, I'm not sure I'd want to risk it.  If anyone's watching, we'll be seen.  Even so, I think we should head for the base of that peak," she pointed, "And when we get there, work our way along the base until we get to the valley entrance."

"Sounds good," Salomere said.  Josh nodded in agreement and Nick didn't say much.

"Julei," Josh began, as they sat waiting for the dusk, "What did you do when you were with Jyraneth...?"

"As I told our youngest clan member not so long ago, I led a long and wicked life.  I was a spy.  To obtain enemy secrets, I infiltrated them.  I seduced many men and some women, and I ate their souls when I had learned all they knew."

"Do... do you regret that?" Josh asked, and then went quiet.

Julei looked at him with a flicker of annoyance.  "Oh, I do wish you hadn't asked me that, Joshua," she said.  The husky succubus was silent for some time, staring at the mountains and thinking.  Just as Josh was starting to think of a way to change the subject, she spoke.

"Do I regret it?" she pondered.  "It sounds like an easy question, doesn't it?  At the time?  No, I had no regrets.  After all, Beings were evil, an abomination in the eyes of the Gods.  So we were told, and so I believed at the time.  If we could not only cleanse them from the universe, but at the same time feed upon their life force to make ourselves stronger and increase our lives still further, why shouldn't we?  At the time, it seemed the obvious choice.

"But do I regret it now?  I'm not perfect, Joshua.  For a long while, I followed Mordrith and his bleeding-heart attitudes, not because I thought he was right, but because I loved him and wanted him to be happy.  Killing people would have upset him, so I didn't.  In time, yes, I came to believe that he was on the right track.
"And looking back at what I did... I realise that what I was doing was abhorrent, even to other 'Cubi.  I would not do it again, and I feel bitter that I destroyed my victims as thoroughly as I did.  So... for all my faults and my sins, yes... Yes.  I do regret doing it.
"But if you mean, do I wish I hadn't done it?  That's a slightly different question, and it has a slightly different answer.  I don't look it, but I'm old, Josh.
"Most of my kind would be decrepit, maybe dead of old age by this point - it is only because I feasted on so many souls all those centuries ago that I am still as young as I am now.  Would I throw all that away if it meant somehow bringing my victims back?  No, I'm not sure I could, Joshua," the succubus said, and looked at the ground for a while.

"Put yourself in my place, if you can," she continued.  "Imagine it, Joshua... you're young, you're beautiful, and justly proud of that beauty.  But soon that youth and beauty will begin to fade away like a cut flower in a vase, like a bowl of pottage left to go cold.  If you knew that you could prolong that youth by the sacrifice of others - others whom you were taught from childhood were your mortal enemies and natural prey... would you not be tempted to do so...?"

Joshua's mouth closed and he found himself staring at the ground as well.  "I... don't know," he said helplessly.

"You are fortunate that you won't have to make that choice," Julei said.  "Every day I am grateful that our race has found an alternative.  But I think you can now understand my... weakness," Julei said softly.

"Yes," Joshua said.

"A wise man once said 'All is vanity'," Julei said.  "But he didn't experience life and emotions the way a 'Cubi does.  For me, for others like me, it's more like 'Vanity is all'."
* * *

"Ah, good," Professor Fa'Rana said, looking up as Jakob and Daryil were led into the meeting room.

"Hello, Professor," Jakob began politely.  "Why have you brought us here...?" 

"Well, I only really intended that we bring Niall in, but I'm not complaining if we bring you in as well..."

"Niall?!  Where is he?  What have you done with him?"

"Indeed.  Where is Niall?"  The Professor asked, glancing at the leopard succubus.  Anja nodded and returned shortly with the fox in tow.

"Here we all are," the raccoon said, "Now, let's get down to business.  As you all know, Niall is Daryil's son..." he hesistated and then frowned with annoyance.  Jakob was laughing hysterically.

"When you have quite finished, Mr. Pettersohn...?  As I was saying, Niall is Daryil's youngest child..."

"But he's mine," Jakob giggled.  "My descendant.  Not Daryil's."

"Oh, do be serious," the raccoon incubus sighed.  "We obtained a genetic readout on him and on Daryil.  The results do not lie, so you can drop the act right now."

"What...?!"  Jakob yelped.  Niall stared, his expression becoming one of horror as he glanced between Jakob and Daryil.

"What?  You mean you didn't know...?"  Professor Fa'Rana stared, and then snickered.  "I took you for a man of intelligence, Mr. Pettersohn.  Surely you didn't really believe that old fae story about Niall being the 'Cubi child of two Beings?!"

"Stranger things have happened than a trait skipping a generation," Jakob protested.  "Do you have any idea of the odds of his father being another Daryil 'Cubi?!  The clan had about 40 other people in it at that point and none of them were known to be in that area!  It's over a hundred million to one!"

The Professor smiled, and expression of vague smugness crossing his features.  "Occam's Razor says that the simplest solution..."

"The simplest solution was that Niall was my descendant and the 'Cubi factor went dormant!" Jakob snapped.  "The idea that my gay clan father just so happened to lay a vixen in a village under my jurisdiction... that's just mental.  He didn't even have the right colour wings, prior to Daryil's ascension.  Mine were dark, Niall's were dark, Daryil's were light!"

"It is mental," Daryil said quietly.  "But I'm afraid it's true."

"You knew?!" Jakob said, aghast.  "Daryil... Daryil, why didn't you tell me?!"

"I didn't know," Daryil said.  "As a Founder I could obtain a complete genetic readout of my entire clan from the 'Cubi Registry, but why would I ever want to...?
"No, I didn't know that Niall was... my son.  But sometimes I wondered.  I was there at the right place at the right time, and yes, I was trying to make the clan bigger..."

"Are you serious?!  Against all the odds, you fathered him?  Oh... Oh gods. Daryil, you didn't... not with Niall...?"

"No," Daryil said.  "For all my talk of seducing him back when you ruled Ha'Khun, I never could bring myself to do that.  It would have upset the hell out of you for a start, but that aside it just felt... wrong.
"No offence intended," he said, grinning at Niall.  "You're a pretty guy, but I guess... I may have realised subconsciously..."

"I..." Jakob began, staring at Niall, at Daryil and then back again.  He looked mortified.  The Professor said nothing, but rolled his eyes, apparently still amused at how badly Jakob had missed the mark.

"Where does it leave us now, Niall...?" Jakob asked softly.  "Now that Daryil is your father...  I won't try to stop you, whatever you decide.  I just want you to know that I've always loved you, I've always been proud of you, I always tried to do what was best for you, and I hope that we can still be close to each other..."

"Don't be silly," Niall said firmly.  "What, you think I'd storm out of Jayhawk and cut you out of my life just because we got confused about who shagged who?  You saved my life!
"Okay, so this is new and unexpected.  I'll admit I'm strangely pleased to find out that I'm the direct descendant of a Clan Leader.  But Dad..." he paused.  Daryil and Jakob both looked at Niall, and then at each other, unable to decide who he meant.

"Jakob, I mean," he clarified, "You never claimed to be my father, you were my great-grandfather, or so we thought.  But then you adopted me.  You became my father then, and this revelation doesn't change that.  It leaves us exactly where we were before.
"Sorry, uh, Dad," he added to Daryil as Jakob engulfed him with a teary-eyed hug.

"No prob," the fox said.  And then grinned lasciviously.  "Of course, since that means that you and Jakob are only loosely related, that opens the door for some nice hot-"

"NO!" Jakob and Niall yelped in unison.

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

Oh, Daryil. Never change.

... And, of course, he won't. Not with the important parts, anyway. ;-]
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Strange, the professor is still in the room. Why is he allowing these heart to heart shenanigans?


Quote from: justacritic on April 27, 2013, 12:02:12 PM
Strange, the professor is still in the room. Why is he allowing these heart to heart shenanigans?

From the next chapter:
"Well, that was very touching," The Professor said, as Niall and Jakob hugged each other, "But it doesn't really alter the fact that I've taken you hostage..."

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


Chapter 54

Daryil gazed around the room, a purposeful light entering his eyes.  Reaching decisively into his desk, he pulled out a pen and added another mark to the calendar, changing the fresh tick into a cross.  This done, he glanced back at Daxxon, Sheila and Sydney, and then the wallscreen.  The display split in two as he dialled, and a leather-winged Alsatian incubus appeared next to Ashley.

"Nigel," Daryil said, "What's the situation?"

"The attackers appear to have left," Nigel said.  "I'm maintaining high alert in case they decide to come back.  I'm organising a roll-call to see who has been taken."

"Very good," Daryil said.  "I realise you may have your hands full, but would you be a dear and make sure that Lady Finch and Hayley haven't been rescued by The Professor?"

"At once, my Lord," Nigel said and his window disappeared from the wallscreen, leaving just the lynx behind.

"Sheila, Sydney," Daryil said, "Could you find Illiath and bring her here please?  Be careful, just in case there are any stragglers."

"Yes sir," the pair of them said, and left quietly.

"Where are they?!" Daxxon demanded.  "Where is Jakob, and where are the people who have kidnapped him?!"

"Underneath Grunmore," Daryil said.  "Find any abandoned house in Kingsfield Road, most of them have some kind of lift system to take you down into the complex.  But I suspect they've armoured it all to prevent Taun's agents getting inside."

The Demon's expression hardened.

"I know, Dax," Daryil sighed.   "But we can probably get in using their jump devices.  Yvonne should have the coordinates.  Ashley, how is our prototype?"

"The copy?  It's experimental, obviously, but so far it has worked well enough in testing..."

"Hello...?" Nigel interrupted, appearing as a new call on Daryil's wallscreen.  Daryil looked at him strangely for a moment.

"Is something wrong?  Did Lady Finch escape?" the fox asked.

"Oh, no, no... Lady Finch is fine," Nigel said.  "I thought you might like to know that."

"Yes, thanks.  Do we yet have a total..."  A blast of sound shattered the already-tense nerves of those present - someone had sounded an alarm.
Nigel looked around wildly, and moments later another call came in, a third window on Daryil's wallscreen opening up to display a rather sorry figure, blood streaming from a gash in his forehead.

"Sh-she got me," injured Nigel stammered.  "Hid and then tackled me when I entered the cell... she must be on the run..."

"No, I think we've found her, haven't we...?" Daryil said, staring malevolently at the healthy Nigel, whose expression was one of horror.  He panicked and looked like he was about bolt, but then closed his eyes and reverted back to his base form, Lady Albeth Finch. 

"Nigel, get to sick bay.  When you're sure you'll be okay, try and get me the missing persons report."

"Lady Finch, you've done a lot of very stupid things lately, but that really takes the cake," Daryil said.  "You are aware that I can think you dead?  That my chief of security wanted you executed even before you assaulted him...?"

"I want to make a deal with you, Daryil," she said.

"That takes a lot of balls," Daryil said.  "Actually, do you still have Nigel's trouser department...?"

"I have destroyed Yvonne," the succubus said quietly.  Ashley froze, Daryil blinked rapidly for a moment.

"That's quite a deal," the fox said slowly.  "How can I refuse?  If you survive through to the end of this round, you'll have won an all-expenses-paid trip to Marlbury Jail, with a special, personalised tour of the execution chamber!"

"Perhaps, Daryil.  But hear me out.  First, where is Richard?"

"Safely in my sanctum," Daryil said.  Lady Finch wilted, looking like she was about to faint.

"Just checking.  Actually your lot took him with them, as you presumably expected."

"Yes," the wolf succubus said, still shaken but rapidly regaining her confidence.  "You want to get into Grunmore, but you need the coordinates.  With Yvonne's brain destroyed, you can only get them from one place.  Me."

"Are you so eager to betray your own clan, Albeth?"  Daryil asked softly.

"They took my son!" she wailed, looking desperate.  "I can tell you the coordinates.  I even can show you how to make the jump device carry several people.  But in exchange, I want to go with whoever you send!  That's all I ask!  What do you say...?"

"I say we kill the bitch," Daxxon snarled.

"But then you wouldn't know the coordinates, would you, Daryil?"

"We don't need them," Ashley put in.  "Part of Daryil is already at your base."

Daryil made a curt gesture and Lady Finch found her audio cut off.  Daryil turned away to prevent her lip-reading, and spoke quickly.

"He's shielded the base somehow.  It's intended to prevent magical teleportation, but it has affected the link between me and my Avatar.  That has the bonus that he won't be able to use it to try and kill me, as happened to many Clan Leaders during the Dragon Wars, but it does mean that my local presence there is greatly weakened.  I can't send people between the two sites by myself, so the only way in is using one of those jump devices..." he turned around, and restored the audio link.
"...which means we probably will want those coordinates," he finished, staring at Lady Finch.

"Do we have a deal?" the succubus asked.

"Not necessarily.  Your position is rather more precarious than you seem to think, Finch," Daryil said.  "I am Lord Daryil - all who oppose me will be turned into a sort of jam-like substance.
"You see the thing is, we have another of your androids here, which Daxxon managed to destroy.  Nice kick, by the way, Dax.  But the point is, although he blew up the capacitor bank for her jump unit, her brain should still be salvageable.  So we don't actually need you at all."

"I... I'm sorry," Lady Finch sobbed.  "I just wanted to be with my son!"

"There, there..." Daryil soothed.  "We don't need you, but it would be a lot quicker if you just told us the coordinates than if we had to repair your horse.
"In exchange, I won't kill you, and you can go with Daxxon.  But I want guarantees, though.  Guarantees that you will not betray us too much, to try and win your way back into The Prof's good graces.
"Understand me, Albeth.  You've caused a huge amount of shit for me and for Taun and you're down to your last chance.  If you betray me again, I will kill you, and I will send you head to Marlbury."

"Thank you, Daryil," Lady Finch said.  She moved as if to cut off the link.  Another Daryil grabbed her from behind and the window disappeared.

"I'm bringing her here," Daryil said.  "I may have accepted her offer, but that doesn't mean I want her running loose throughout our base."

"Are you seriously going to go along with that deal of hers?" Daxxon demanded.  "What about executing her?  You said yourself that she deserves it!"

"I hope it doesn't come to that," the fox said.  "She needs help, not killing."

* * *

"Well, that was very touching," The Professor said, as Niall and Jakob hugged each other, "But it doesn't really alter the fact that I've taken you hostage..." 

"Leave Niall out of this," Jakob protested.  "It's not fair!  He's done nothing to you!"

"Life isn't fair," Professor Fa'Rana said.  "Death is fair, for it comes to everyone, but I digress.  Niall, it really isn't anything personal, I'm afraid you're just caught in the middle.
"All I need is a lever to ensure that Daryil does not interfere with my plans, and that's you, I'm afraid.  But don't worry... soon it will all be over, and you'll be free to go..."

"Alright, Professor," a voice said, and a figure stepped into view.  Leathery dark grey wings finished a muscular build as the alsatian stood there, arms folded, snarling hate at the raccoon.  Behind him, a cowed and ruffled Lady Finch looked on, bracers upon her wrists.

"Daryil," The Professor said tiredly, "I don't know how this oaf got in here, but make him leave.  Now."

"I can't make him," Daryil said.  "I can suggest it, but what he does is largely up to him..."

"Don't be stupid.  He's one of your clan," the raccoon snapped.

"Wrong, Prof," Daxxon said.  "But you've kidnapped my boyfriend, and I won't stand for that.  Let him go, or I'll snap you in half."

"I gave you a chance, Daryil..." The Professor shrugged and pointed at Daxxon.  "Wendy, kill this idiot," he said.  The mauve Alsatian span around, toughening his skin like diamond.  The android mare was a blur, but so was Daxxon.  For a moment, Daryil thought he saw a kick, but before he could be sure, a flash of light and a deafening retort shook the room.

The Demon kicked aside the burst remains of the horse android and glanced around the room for other targets.  Anja stared with terror at the destroyed carcass and backed away hastily.  Dax glanced at the sudden movement and stomped towards her threateningly.

"No, no!" the leopard yelped, "Don't kill me, I'm sentient!"

"Then stay out of my way and you won't get hurt," Dax retorted, and glanced back to the Professor, whose eyes were wide.  He seemed to have lost the ability to speak.

"Hand my boyfriend over, Prof," the Alsatian said, kicking Wendy's head across the room for emphasis.  "...or your clan loses its head as well."

"How did you..."  Professor Fa'Rana spluttered, staring.  "It must have... the power plant, the stored charge for the jump unit... I will have to redesign..."

"I'm going to count to three..." the hound snarled.

"No... you can't have Niall!" The Professor snapped.  "He is my hostage!  I need him to keep Daryil in line!"

"Jakob," the Demon said threateningly.

"Oh, Jakob...?  I don't need him," the raccoon said.  "Just take him and go, and we'll forget all about this."

"I knew you'd see reason," Daxxon said, and grinned at Jakob.  He'd taken just two steps towards the wolf when his eyes went wide and he crumpled to the ground in a heap.

"So, your boyfriend is a Demon, Jakob?" Professor Fa'Rana chortled, green mist still rising from his hand where he'd cast the stun spell.  "Pity you couldn't have picked someone brighter.  Seriously, falling for that old trick...?"

"I'm not sure what you did was smart," Jakob said coolly.  "How do you think he'll feel towards you when he wakes up...?"

The Professor's face fell.

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


Regarding this chapter and some earlier questions, Merlin unexpectedly drew this:

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


Chapter 55

"Albeth," The Professor said coolly.  "I see Taun hasn't killed you yet."

"Indeed, Professor," the wolf said.  "Behind your shields seemed the safest place to me.  Incidentally, I found Yvonne's head.  Daryil and his ragtag band of followers had stolen it, presumably through Illiath.  I've performed a secure erase on her brain to prevent them learning any further secrets."

"Indeed...?" the raccoon said, raising an eyebrow, and looking at her with a new respect.  "I was starting to worry that you had defected to Daryil and his ilk.  Richard shows some worrying early signs, but I think we can nip those in the bud.
"For starters, I've suggested he begin wearing something more conventional for a Creature.  Arm-warmers or long-sleeved shirts instead of those ridiculous gloves," he added, glancing at Daryil disapprovingly.  "I am sure that his father suggested them to make him dress like Daryil, to ease Richard towards that clan without his knowing."

"What's wrong with these gloves?"  Daryil asked, gesturing a shiny black-clad hand.

"They are women's gloves.  Worse, they are whorish things intended solely for the purposes of seduction and sexual arousal," The Professor said, casting a disapproving eye at the fox.
"I know that you have rather loose morals, Daryil, but seriously... what makes you think that shoulder-length latex gloves are even slightly tasteful?  Surely even you must admit that they are particularly unbecoming for a Clan Leader."

"Professor, you're shit at being a 'Cubi," Daryil said.  "We can dress how we like among our own kind, even outside of it in the right circumstances."

"I have spent my whole life learning to suppress such irresponsible whims," the raccoon fumed.  "They are a liability, as is seductive dress."

"It's fun," Daryil objected.  "What's the point in living so long if we can't enjoy it?  Besides, Fa'Lina and her staff certainly wore such things, even with their impressionable young students.
"The real trick is to dress appropriately to the occasion, which I did.  If you feel the occasion is no longer appropriate, that's your fault for kidnapping us.
"Besides," he added, "I like these gloves.  They're sleek, they're snug, they're shiny and I don't need to change anything when I do the dishes."

* * *

"Someone has been here," Josh said, staring into the distance.

"Are you sure?" Salomere asked, peering into the gloom.

"Yes, I'm using infra-red and zoom.  There are footprints, and... what look like vehicle tracks."

"That can't be right," Julei said, frowning.  "There's no way you would be able to bring a vehicle here.  The roads aren't passable, not unless the Kamei'Sin have been trying to develop in the area."

"We could ask them," Josh said.  Julei looked at him with an expression of alarm.

"They're not our enemies," Salomere reassured her.  "Daryil sorted things out between us, remember?"

"That may be, but if I were them I wouldn't trust us completely.  And look... we're hanging around in the area Jyraneth was last seen!  How would you try to explain that away?!"

"We could just tell them the truth, you know." Joshua said.  "We're here to make sure that Jyraneth isn't re-awakening."

"I don't think they'd believe it," Julei said, her eyes narrowing.  "They may well assume that we're trying to awaken her ourselves."

"Even though she'd kill us all as heretics?" Josh said, raising an eyebrow.  "Okay, fine... we ask Simeon.  We can trust him to show us in the best possible light."

"That would work," Salomere said, Julei still looked unconvinced.  With a shrug the doberman pulled out a miniature satellite phone and was shortly rewarded with the face of a purple-haired wolf, wearing similar gloves to the ones Professor Fa'Rana had lambasted.

"Salomere?" he asked.

"Yeah, Hi Simeon.  Is now a good time?"

"Frankly, no..."

"Oh shit... are we interrupting something with Daryil...?"

"Nah, I'd have switched the phone off.  Actually, the Fa'Rana clan attacked us and kidnapped a few people.  Jakob, Niall and one of Daryil's avatars are the ones we know about..."

"....holy shit."

"Yeah.  But I figure this is pretty urgent too, right?"

"Uh, yeah, but I'll try not to keep you.  Daryil told you about the Jyraneth mission, right?  Well, there's some people here.  Footprints, bulldozer tracks.  Are any of your clan building something here?  I mean, they have the closest settlement in this part of the world."

"I'd have to get back to you on that for a proper answer," Simeon said.  "But I highly doubt it.  Not many of us go there anymore, but if the Elders are up to something us peons may not get to know about it."

"Ask if you can, but chances are we'll run into the workers first," Josh said.

"Good luck," the wolf said.

"You too.  Keep us posted if anything important crops up."

* * *

"Enough of this nonsense!"  The Professor snapped, and gestured at Daxxon, who was still lying roughly where he had fallen.  "Anja, take the Demon to the holding cells.  Make sure he has suitable suppression bracers on him."

"Now, you," he added to Daryil, Jakob and Niall, "Will you three behave, or must I arrange a similar inconvenience to yourselves as well?"

"I still think we can come to an agreement," Jakob said, "As long as you don't try to kill us, I'm happy to stay peaceful."

"I don't think there's anything to be gained by force," Niall agreed.

"Daryil?  Do you promise to be good?"

"No," Daryil said.  "But I'll try to behave.  After all, if I wanted to hurt you, you'd already be a smoking hole in the ground."

"I suppose that will have to do," Professor Fa'Rana said.  "Now..."

"Will Lady Finch promise to be good?" Daryil interrupted.  The Professor glared at him.  "That's beside the point," he said.

"No it isn't," Daryil protested.  "She has a whole history of violence!"

"Oh, very well.  Albeth, I'm not completely sure I trust you at this point.  Will you promise to behave yourself, at least in the presence of our guests?"

"Yes, Professor," the wolf said demurely.

"Excellent!  Now-"

"What about," Daryil interrupted.  The raccoon shot him a dark look and he went quiet with a sulky expression.

"Shut up, Daryil.  As I was saying... while you're here, I feel it's only polite of me to show you around," Fa'Rana said.  "Regrettably I will have to keep you all here until things are settled, but I don't think there can be any harm in showing you some of my research projects.
"Indeed, some of them can be considered a warning... of what might happen if any of you do something stupid like trying to escape."


In a wide open area, beneath an array of artificial lights set inside a deep blue sky, The Professor had built a large and beautiful garden, where ornate paths wound between flowerbeds.  A section of lawn was dotted with dandelions and daisies, a large stone slab laid in the centre, with the paths converging upon it.  Niall gasped at the sight, and Jakob just stared in silence, a lump forming in his throat.  

"I give you Beta Project," Professor Fa'Rana said, gesturing at the garden.  "Isn't it beautiful?"

"Yeah, it is rather," Daryil said, "But what is it?"

"I spent a long time studying the mechanics of death," Fa'Rana said.  "From the ending of the body's life through to the passing of the soul, all these things are fascinating, and full of secrets that others may never learn, hamstrung as they are by superstition and moral inhibitions.  I have no such hangups and so I have learned many things in my studying."

Jakob blinked, wondering if the raccoon had heard the question correctly.

"Patience, Mr. Pettersohn," Professor Fa'Rana smiled.  "I'm just getting there.  You know how, when someone dies at their home, that the flowers in their garden grow to tremendous size the following spring?  Have you ever wondered why that happens?"

"Flowers," he said, "They feed upon the soul.  Normally they take but a fraction of the energies released through death, but for many decades now I have been studying the mechanics of it, and experimenting with different varieties of plant.  After a considerable amount of cross-breeding I came up with these!" he gestured across the rows of perfect blooms.

"These are far more efficient.  A Being slain in my Garden of Mystery, their soul will be completely absorbed, harvested by these," he said proudly.  "Then we can grind up the corpse into mulch, which goes back into the garden.  Total disposal!
"And, by the strategic placement of modified soul gems, we can extract most of the energy for our own consumption.  Purified by the flowers and completely safe, with none of the contamination usually associated with consuming another's soul!"

"You're one sick fuckhead," Daryil said quietly.  "That's why you were kicked out of SAIA, was it?"

"Fa'Lina didn't like the idea," The Professor smiled.  "She didn't really see its beauty, the way in which we can use something as innocuous and beautiful as flowers to destroy our enemies, utterly and forever!"

"Like this, you mean?"  Daryil said, and his hands glowed.  A barrier formed at his touch, expanding and pushing everyone out of the garden.  The Professor fixed Daryil with an indignant stare and opened his mouth as if to say something.  A sudden flash of intense blue filled the garden, causing them to shield their eyes.  As he blinked away the afterimage, the Professor uttered a gasp of dismay.  Behind the barrier, the garden began to wither away, plants collapsing and wilting before his very eyes.

"I've always wanted to do that," Daryil said.

"What have you done?!" the raccoon screeched.

"Neutron flux," Daryil said simply.  "A really big one.  I think it's activated the soil too and probably even the air itself.  So I wouldn't go in there for at least a couple of decades..."

"You... all my work... I'll kill you for this, Daryil!" the raccoon snarled.

"I don't think so.  It's still really hot in there.  If you destroy this avatar, the barrier will fall and you'll die.  Even Anja is unlikely to survive the neutron fog in that room.  At a pinch, I could live with losing you two, the snag is that it will kill my friends as well, and that is something I will not tolerate.
"You see, Professor, kidnapping them is one thing.  Holding them hostage is annoying.  But if they die, I will destroy you like the victims you fed to your flowers.  You must understand this, Professor - I can, and I will.  Should you anger me enough, death will not save you from my wrath.  I will hunt down your soul and do things to it that I shall regret for millennia to come.  Do you understand...?"

"Yes," The Professor snarled.  "But after this... after you broke your promise... you can forget about the rest of tour.  Anja... bring me the suppression bracers."

"If you put those on me, everyone here will die instantly," Daryil reminded him.  The Professor froze.

"You can't keep it like that forever, Daryil," he said at last.  "You'll have to leave eventually.  Supposing we do reach an agreement?  Your precious avatar will be stuck here maintaining that neutron shield for the next century."

"Nah, I can make it permanent later," Daryil said.  "Leaded glass or something.  That should keep the radiation level tolerable, at least.  Besides, I'm not sure why you're so upset.  I've removed any possible temptation for you to feed one of my friends to your flowers, with the resulting loss of your own soul!  I think that's quite a bargain."

"You deliberately destroyed more than two centuries of work!  How can you expect me to forgive you for that!?"

"I just saved your life, Prof!  Stuff like those flowers will get our race stamped out," Daryil said.  "At best, they'll just lynch you and your clan.  You can't just breed soul-eating flowers and expect the others to happily sit by and watch, surely?!"

"You're wrong, Daryil," The Professor said coldly.  "And when Epsilon is completed, it will be pointless anyway, because we will be in charge."

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


You know, despite Daryil playing the crazy fool at times, he seems more in touch with actual reality then this Professor is.

That's something to look out for, that's something to be concerned about. I mean, man eating plants are one thing. Soul eating plants are another thing.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Following the progression of the greek alphabet, project Epsilon must be really depraved.


Quote from: justacritic on May 11, 2013, 10:16:16 PM
Following the progression of the greek alphabet, project Epsilon must be really depraved.

Next chapter, you get to find out what it is.

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

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


Chapter 56

"I can't believe you sent her back with them!"  Illiath snarled.  "They've invaded my school twice now, tried to kill one of my clan-mates and you just sat back and let her go home?!"

"Yes," Daryil said.  "In exchange, she gave us some very valuable information.  More importantly, I've sown within her the seeds of doubt.  I honestly think it's for the best."

"We'll see," grunted the Doberman.  "Now.  Where are Syd and Sheila?"

"What?" Daryil said, puzzled.  "I thought they escorted you back here."

"Yes, but only as far as the door.  They said you'd sent them on an errand.  I hope it wasn't anything dangerous.  They are my students, Daryil..."

"I didn't," the fox said, looking concerned.  He closed his eyes for a few minutes.

"Have you found them?" Illiath asked.  "Where are they?"

"I... don't know," Daryil said.

"Seriously?" Illiath looked scared.  "You're... you're not just saying that to protect them or because it's so esoteric that only a Tri-Wing could understand?"

"No, Illiath.  I honestly don't know where they are.  I'm not Fa'Lina," he added with a sad smile.  "I can't see the future, nor everything that goes on inside the base.  I am linked to my Children, and if I wish I can reach out and see what they are doing, but of course, Syd and Sheila aren't my descendants..."

"Do you have any idea what happened?"

"We can check the security system more thoroughly, but it will take a lot of work.  My quick scan just now hasn't shown anything, and I can ask Ashley to look into it.
"But I suspect... and this is just a guess, mind you, but I think they may have gone with Daxxon and Lady Finch."

* * *

"Ah, the Epsilon Project," Daryil said.

"Heard of it have you?  Too bad.  That will not be part of the tour, not after what you just did."

"I know all about it already, Professor," Daryil said calmly.

"What?!  How?  Callahan... no!  We kept it from him!  Finch?!  She dared...?!"

"No, it wasn't Lady Finch either," Daryil said.  "God told me."

"You? an audience with the 'Cubi Gods...?"  The Professor guffawed.  "Don't be ridiculous.  Maybe the Oracles told you.  Ah well, it doesn't matter.  It's already starting.  Even if you were to kill me now, the plan would still be motion..."

"Actually, Epsilon is largely the reason I haven't killed you, Professor," Daryil said.

"Yes, I knew that even you would hesitate and quail before such power..."

"No, it's because it's proof of your insanity, Professor.  Look... at the end of the day, I would prefer to have a peaceful clan, and I would prefer to live a peaceful life, but there are limits and there are obligations.
"Being the Leader of a clan is a huge responsibility and there are many challenges and tests of my resolve.
"At a pinch I could kill someone who was a threat to my clan, one that I can't turn or defuse, but it's really a last resort option that I wish to avoid.
"Someone who deliberately and wilfully murdered one of my children, I would show no mercy to.  But executing someone who is insane, Professor...?  That's just not civilised.  You need to be cured, or put away."

"Who are you to call me insane, Daryil, as you stand here in your shiny gloves like some kind of male prostitute?"

"Oh, can you just shut up about the gloves for just one moment?!" Daryil snapped, and forced himself calm.
"Listen, Professor... Just before the Destania Incident, there was this guy called Daniel Ti'Fiona.  He was actually Destania's son, so his real name was Daniel Cyra, but he didn't know that at the time.  He didn't even know he was a marked man... he was lucky to have survived to see his headwings.  See, he was an adventurer and so he ran into many different races.  If any Dragon had learned of his clan, they'd have killed him immediately."

"Get to the point, Daryil," the raccoon fumed.

"I can do that to you, Professor.  If I tell people half of what I know about you and your projects, you'll spend the rest of your short life running.  And the people who would hunt you would believe they were doing so to protect their race from you.  And it would be every race, Professor.  Including our own.  Is that the kind of future you want?"

"Project Sigma will put me in a position of strength, Daryil," The Professor said.

"Um," Jakob interrupted.  "What are these projects...?"

"Do you want to tell him, or shall I?"  Daryil asked.

"You tell him," The Professor said.  "I want to see how accurate your information is."

"Very well.  Project Sigma is the Prof's attempt to ascend.  Probably using a combination of energy harvested by his Flowers of Doom, our own synthetic soul energy products, and likely he's been trying to make his own."

"Very impressive," the raccoon said, clapping.  "And Epsilon?"

"Project Epsilon is your attempt to bring back the Dragon Race," Daryil began.  Jakob emitted a shrill squeal and stopped moving.  Niall began making small whimpering sounds.

"Now look what you've done," Daryil complained, gesturing at his clan members.

"What I've done...?"

"I'm just the messenger," Daryil shrugged.  "It was your craziness that upset them, not mine.  That makes it your fault."

Reaching down, Daryil tickled the backs of Jakob's ears, and the wolf opened one eye slowly.

"Mmmm..." he said blissfully, wagging his tail.  "I thought I asked you not to do that again," he sighed and then uttered a shrill scream as he noticed The Professor.  "I must have passed out... Did I have a dream...?  Heh, I thought the Professor said he was going to..."

"Unfortunately it's true," Daryil said.  "Besides, you're too old to dream."

"What?!" Jakob whimpered.  "It can't be true!  No-one would dare do that!  The Dragons treated our world like a punchbag, where it didn't matter if it got damaged!  It's said that they created the 'Cubi race by accident and were trying to un-create us ever since!
"They nearly wiped out the Weres, they nearly wiped out us, they actually did wipe out the vampires and I strongly suspect they were behind the Angel race's reproductive issues as well!
"What Destania did in getting rid of them was terrible and it targetted the innocent as well as the guilty, but there's no question that it saved our race and who knows how many others from extermination!  No 'Cubi would be stupid enough to bring back the force which nearly erased them!"

"I don't believe he can do it," Niall said quietly.  "I don't know what Destania did, or if she really was responsible anyway.
"But if she was, it's reasonable to assume that she retuned our universe to either destroy them or to repel them out of it.  After all that effort she would never have left it easy for anyone to reverse the process, and the Prof has far less power and resources at his disposal than Destania ever had.  I'm not convinced he can let them back in."

"I don't need to," The Professor said.  "You see, Niall, I managed to obtain genetic material from Pyroduck, the baby dragon Fa'Lina adopted during the Wars.  Using this and our advanced genetic science, I can create a new organism... a new form of Dragon that will be able to exist in our world once again!  With these by my side..."

"Professor, even if they don't turn against you and then wipe out our entire race, I don't think you've thought about the consequences," Jakob protested.  "There are still harsh laws against creating new races.  I thought we were taking a bit of a gamble when we began designing androids, and those are just enhancements and aids for members of existing races.  What you're proposing is unthinkable!"

"I have done more than just think about it, I assure you!"  Professor Fa'Rana laughed.

"Listen, Professor... if any other clan knew of this they would destroy you where you stood.  Even Dimanika, the pacifist clan.  You represent such a great threat to our survival that even she would eliminate you, Professor.  She suspended her ban on killing once during the Dragon War and she'd do it again right now if she found out about this abomination you're creating.
"If it ever does see the light of day, they will.  And that's just our own race, Professor.  Think what the others will do!"

"You're being rather melodramatic," the raccoon said, rolling his eyes.

"He's being realistic," Niall said.

* * *

"I think we're good to go," Julei decided.  "It's still light enough to see, but by the time we've made it through the forest it should be dark enough to conceal us.  Josh, it might be wise if you go first, since you have night-vision."

They walked cautiously for most of an hour, until Josh suddenly came to an abrupt halt.

"What is it...?" Salomere hissed.

"There's someone in the distance," the husky whispered.  "I can see their body heat.  Quite bright.  Winged.  Wolf, I think."

Abruptly there was a rustling noise and a powerful figure strode into the clearing.  He was a wolf Demon, stripped to the waist and holding a large battle-axe at the ready.  It was made entirely from steel, axe and handle cast from a single mould, leather trim woven around the haft to aid his grip.

Nick fell down, whimpering pleas for their lives.  Salomere stepped forward to shield him and Julei brought out her tentacles.  Josh assumed a defensive posture and so did the Demon.

"What the hell is your problem?" the wolf demanded.

Julei peered at him suspiciously but didn't relax.  "You're wandering around the forest at dusk with a fuck-off big axe, and you think we have a problem?"

"I'm with the forestry commission," the Demon said, lowering the axe a fraction.  "I've just finished my shift."

"That's a war-axe," Julei said.  "Two-handed, machine-forged steel and finished with an enchanted blade.  Do you take us for simpletons?"

"I'm a Demon.  A normal woodsman's axe would snap in half at the first stroke," he said.  "With this puppy I can take down a tree with a single blow.  Or a bandit," he added pointedly.

"Have you ever heard of chainsaws?"  Josh asked.

"They disturb the peace.  Look.  Here's my ID, okay?"

Julei didn't move.  Josh gave a sigh of frustration and went to inspect it.

"It seems legit," he said.  "Kamei'Sin seal."

"Thank you," the Demon said sardonically, dropping the axe-head to the ground and leaning against the haft like a cane.  His other hand hovered, ready to assume a defensive posture if it seemed like Julei might turn violent.  "Now," he said, "Would you care to explain what you're doing out here, harassing foresters?"

Julei relaxed a bit.  "We've heard rumours that someone is excavating the Old City," she said, "We came here to investigate.  There are things there best left untouched and anyone crazy enough to go digging it up is liable to be dangerous."

"Oh, right!" the Demon said.  "Yeah, there were some archaeologists heading that way.  They looked a lot like you, actually."

"Oh shit," Julei said, glancing at Salomere.

"So, uh," the Doberman said, "Was one of them a Doberman?  Female?  Purple and teal?"

"I think so, yes."

"And the other one was a Husky?  A guy?  Black and tan?"

"Yeah, that was them."

"FUCK!" Julei screamed, causing the Demon to jump.  He brought his hand up in a threatening manner, all claws and death.

"W-what's the matter?" Nick squeaked.

"It sounds like it was my wayward son and daughter," Salomere said sadly.

"A rival archaeological dig...?" the Demon said, mystified.

"No, a pair of Jyraneth fanatics," Josh said.  "They're probably trying to revive the Lady."

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

No reason he couldn't get a woodsman's axe built like that. It costs, but... it'd be far better for the blade.

Even if the enchantment copes with it all.
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on May 17, 2013, 05:12:14 PM
No reason he couldn't get a woodsman's axe built like that. It costs, but... it'd be far better for the blade.
Even if the enchantment copes with it all.

Perhaps, but if war-axes are being mass-produced and available off-the-shelf, it would be silly not to at least try one and see if it worked better...

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


"But in so much as I am driven to staine my paper with writing thereon certeine of their beastlie and bawdie assertions and examples, whereby they confirme this their doctrine, I must intreat you that are the readers hereof, whose chaste eares cannot well endure to heare of such abhominable lecheries, as are gathered out of the bookes of those witchmongers to turne over a few leaves, wherein I have like a groome thrust their bawdie stuffe as into a stinking corner: howbeit, none otherwise. I hope, but that the other parts of my writing shall remaine sweet, and this also covered as close as may be."

--Reginald Scot, 'The Discoverie of Witchcraft' (preface of Book IV concerning incubi and succubi)

Chapter 57

"Are you telling me they're captives?!"  Illiath screamed.

"I don't know!" Daryil shouted.  The Doberman looked stunned for a moment, then appalled as she remembered who she was talking to.  She gave a brief sob and collapsed into her chair.

"I'm sorry, Illiath," Daryil said gently, as he calmed himself, "I really don't know.  I don't think The Professor knows either."

"But you said Daxxon was captured!" the succubus protested.

"Yes, but they weren't there," Daryil said.  "Lady Finch has said nothing.  The Prof has said nothing.  Given all the craziness and the Prof's insistence on taking hostages, he would surely have mentioned it if Sheila and Syd were captured.  I don't think he knows.
"In fact," he added thoughtfully, "It's possible that Daxxon acted as a decoy, a distraction to let them sneak off..."

"To what end?"

"I wish I... Richard," Daryil said firmly.  "Ashley is scanning the base CCTV.  Nigel is searching the complex.  Maybe I'm wrong and they're hiding somewhere.  But if not, if they really did go with Daxxon, I bet they went to find Richard."

* * *

Richard sat on his bed unhappily.  Gods, why are you doing this to me? he whimpered mentally.  Mom makes Taun into her mortal enemy... Dad turns out to be in league with Daryil... I finally find some friends and The Professor takes me away from them...

"Cheer up, Richard," said a voice.  The jackal whirled around and stared in open disbelief.

"What the hell are you doing here?!" he hissed, fluffing out in panic.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Sydney said, shrugging.  Sheila entered the room and closed the door, bolting it to avoid interruptions.

"How did you get here?!  They can't have kidnapped you... they'd never have let you roam free!"

"We came with Daxxon and your mother," Sheila said.  "He had one of the jump devices and we hitched a lift.  Dax wanted to rescue Jakob, and we were hoping to rescue you..."

"No!  I... I can't!" the jackal whimpered.  "If I'm missing... The Professor!  He'll go berserk!  He'll think I've escaped... that I've gone over to Daryil!  He'll have me beheaded!  He'll have Mom beheaded too!  He'll make me watch..."

"One of Daryil's avatars is here," the fox said.  "I think he's trying to cut a deal with The Professor.  If the Prof does something too outrageous, like killing you or her, Daryil will go mental.  Even The Professor can't be that far gone as to provoke a Tri-Wing."

"The Professor thinks his projects will give him the edge over Daryil," Richard said sadly.  He glanced at his wrist, and peeled off the shiny black gloves that he always wore.  Sheila was radiating astonishment, and Syd looked a bit nonplussed himself.

"I didn't think.. Di.. didn't you say there was a taboo against removing your gloves?"  Syd asked.

Richard glanced up at them with a sad chuckle.  "Nah, it was just an excuse to cover my clan-mark.  My wrong clan-mark," he added fretfully.  "Dad gave me these gloves, the latex ones, but now the Professor don't like me wearing them," he said.  "He put up with it before, but since... since Dad went over to Daryil, he wants me to wear something 'more suitable' to cover my clan mark."

"But most 'Cubi wear shiny things," Sheila said, glancing down at her own seductive top.  "Latex, leather, PVC, who cares?  It's fun to be sexy!"

"The Prof don't think so," Richard said.

"Is he hiding something?" Syd asked.  "Is he into something a bit kinky himself?  Like how King Ta'Hish decreed that homosexuality should carry the death penalty within his realm, and then ended up at the block himself when he was found in a public toilet with the Prime Minister?  People who rant against things like that are usually in some kind of denial..."

"No, no..." Richard said.  "At least... I don't... I hope not,"  He shivered for a moment, imagining the raccoon in a glossy black miniskirt.
"Yeah, most 'Cubi love shiny things and sexy looks, but The Professor... he's not like most 'Cubi.  See, his father was an Angel..."

"What?!" Sheila yelped, and then looked around guiltily.  "What?!" she hissed.  "That's not what the books say!  An Angel and a 'Cubi... the child should be born to the most magically powerful race, and that would be the Angel..."

"Yeah, but that don't always happen," Richard said.  "It's rare, but just sometimes you'll get a 'Cubi born to a Demon mom or something.  That's why SAIA allowed non-'Cubi students in certain conditions, because every so often a Demon-Cubi marriage or something would produce a 'Cubi child instead of a Demon, and when they went to SAIA their Demon siblings could be offered a place as well..."

"Also the Angel race has been having problems breeding true for quite a while now," Syd added.  "An Angel is more likely to end up with a 'Cubi or Being child than you might think."

"Live and learn," Richard smirked.  Sheila looked angry and glanced between the other two as if she suspected they were having her on.

"If you don't believe me, you can borrow my data tablet and look it up later," Richard offered.  "But yeah, the Prof's Dad was an Angel.  He didn't approve of how 'Cubi tend to become over-emotional and he brought the Prof up to try and denounce his 'Cubi heritage."

"It didn't quite work," Richard added, retrieving a pair of black silk sleeves from a chest of drawers, the kind which Creatures often wore when a shirt would interfere with their wings.  "I mean, the Prof now thinks the 'Cubi race should be on top.  But a lot of it did rub off.  He doesn't approve of giving in to your emotions, and he hates it when 'Cubi dress seductively..."

The jackal glanced up.  "Course, he might be in some kind of denial as well..."

"But the point is, he still wants you to cover up your clan mark, but with something more discreet, is that it?" the Border collie asked.

"For now, yes," Richard said, gazing at the Clan Daryil mark on the back of his wrist and stroking it idly.  "Something less Daryil-like.  But one day... he'll want me to convert into a full member of his clan, and after that the clan mark won't matter... but I... guess I will kind of miss it..."

"But only a Tri-Winged clan leader can convert other 'Cubi," Sheila said, aghast.

"He's got a plan for that," said Richard nervously.  "He wants to become one..."

* * *

"So, do you have a plan?"  Illiath asked, looking desperate.

"Not really," Daryil said.  "Not yet.  My avatar with the Prof is still gathering information.  Look, Illie, I know Syd, Richard and Sheila are your students, and I realise you're in a difficult situation with them, but please try to remain calm.
"In fact, you should probably let the rest of your students know.  If your school is remotely like SAIA, the place will be ablaze with rumours."

"You're right," Illiath said, hardening her expression as she turned to leave.  "Those three are my students, and yes, I am worried about them and would like to help them if I can.  But at the same time... they are not the only students in need of my aid, and I have been neglecting the rest of my school."

"Attagirl," Daryil said.  Illiath hesitated at the door.

"But... if you do learn anything, you will let me know, right...?" she added hopefully.

"Of course," the tri-wing reassured her.  "You just go out there and knock'em dead.  I need to make a call."

* * *

"You..." the Demon said, muscles rippling as he hefted the axe again, "You're Jyraneth 'Cubi...?!"

"No, no, no," Julei said.  "I mean, yes - I was once, and Nick was born into the clan through no fault of his own.  But we both reject her utterly.  I told you before - we don't want her back!  She would destroy us if she found us!  We came here, at great personal risk, to stop anyone from trying to revive her, and it looks like that job just got a lot harder!"

"I'll have to report this," the Demon said.  "Wait here."

"No!" Julei said, almost screaming with frustration, "If those two maniacs are digging up that crazy bitch, we have to stop them!"

"Do you really think they could?" the wolf asked, looking worried for a moment.

"Do you really want to risk it?  Look, we have to get there as soon as we can.  If you want to come too, that's fine.  You can call up your superiors on the way, but please, please don't delay us."

"Fine," the Demon said, and began pulling out a phone similar to Salomere's.

"Are you all Jyraneth?" he asked.

"Ja'Fell," Julei said.  "Technically Nick and I are Jyraneth but as I keep explaining, we have gone our own way.  Josh is robotic and has never been attached to Jyraneth clan in his life. Salomere is my daughter-in-law, and she's of Dynari's clan.  Like Nick she was born after the Fall anyway..."

"And have any of you committed crimes against the Kamei'Sin clan...?"

Julei sighed.  "Strictly, yes, I have.  While our clans were at war, I did horrible things... but that's ancient history.  Daryil got that all straightened out.  We, all of us here, are all in the service of Daryil's Clan.  The Lord Daryil hand-picked us for this mission himself and can vouch for us..."

"I'll have to verify that," the Demon said unhappily.

"Are you sure you're a forester?"  Josh asked the wolf.  "You're starting to sound like a customs and immigrations official at an airport."

"I was a student, okay...?" the Demon complained.  "I needed the money."

* * *

"Nact'larn headquarters," a seductive voice said.  The screen wavered and revealed an exquisitely-proportioned succubus with pale, feathery wings.

"Oh," she said, eyes narrowing.  "It's you again.  How did you get this number?"

"From Tatala," Daryil said.

"The volcanic place with the magic springs?  What about it?"

"The local magic vapours interfere with the mobile infrastructure so they have to use land-lines," Daryil said.  "That means they still have phone booths.  So, I went round all of them and wrote down the numbers marked 'for a good time, call xxxxx', and then I tried them one by one, and here we are!"

"What do you want, Daryil?"

"I'd like a word with your mistress," Daryil began.

"Oh no, no, no!" the succubus interrupted.  "The matter is closed.  You may not open any of your adult flapjack bars in Nact'Larn territory!"

"It's not about that," Daryil said.  "If Taun hasn't told her first, I think she needs to know what I've discovered."

"If you think my Lady will willingly speak to you after last time..."

"I will speak to Daryil," a husky voice said.  "He understands lust."

"She's right, you know," Daryil said, with a sly grin.  "We both like our men..."

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

Quote from: Tapewolf on May 24, 2013, 08:01:53 PM
"Are you sure you're a forester?"  Josh asked the wolf.  "You're starting to sound like a customs and immigrations official at an airport."

"I was a student, okay...?" the Demon complained.  "I needed the money."


Quote from: Tapewolf on May 24, 2013, 08:01:53 PM
"From Tatala," Daryil said.

"The volcanic place with the magic springs?  What about it?"

"The local magic vapours interfere with the mobile infrastructure so they have to use land-lines," Daryil said.  "That means they still have phone booths.  So, I went round all of them and wrote down the numbers marked 'for a good time, call xxxxx', and then I tried them one by one, and here we are!"

*snerk* yay, Dar. Winding people up for the amusement value since....

... actually, he's never been otherwise, has he? ;-]
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Chapter 58

"The loaf," Daryil was saying, in hushed tones.  "The loaf of pain, of bane... of suffering and snuffering..."

"I don't know what you're talking about," Jakob complained.

"Nor do I," Daryil admitted.  "But it sounds good, right?"

"Enough of this nonsense!" The Professor snapped.  "Daryil, you have turned my beautiful garden into a post-nuclear wasteland and your arguments as to why I should cancel my other projects are singularly idiotic.  I truly do not understand how the likes of you could have become a Tri-Wing."

"The Gods liked me," Daryil said.

"Now we're back to that again," The Professor snarled disgustedly.  "Your brain should be peace-bonded, otherwise people might think you can have good ideas..."

"Prof," Daryil interrupted, "We've all been through a lot.  I imagine you're stressed about Taun and the lockdown and me destroying your soul-eating flowers probably hasn't helped.  Niall and Jakob have been kidnapped and my avatar is kind of drained, not least because I'm keeping up the neutron shield.  In short, we're all frazzled."

"You have a gift for stating the obvious," The Professor grunted.

"Yeah.  What I'm saying is... why don't we all head to the cafeteria and have a coffee or something?  Then we can thrash things out, go over our options, and hopefully work out some kind of deal."

"Very well," the raccoon said grudgingly, "But you will make a more permanent neutron shield first as a gesture of goodwill."

* * *

"My clan WHAT?!"  Richard squeaked.

"Your clan is trying to bring back the dragons," Sheila said in a shaky voice.  "The ones who almost destroyed our race and numerous others..."

"Could you persuade him to stop?" Syd asked, urgently.

"But... but... he never told me!" Richard protested, looking scared.  "He must have known I'd disagree... or maybe it's because I'm a Daryil... I'm not part of his clan, perhaps he expected me to go rogue... perhaps he didn't want me to compromise his projects in case I did...
"Oh gods, oh gods, Dragons... what can we do...?"

"I don't know," Sheila admitted.

"Maybe it's not that bad," the jackal said, desperately.  He looked around wildly, and began running in little circles in the middle of the room as if he was trying to chase his tail.  "Maybe he really can control them," he babbled.  "Maybe... maybe it's just mini-dragons, you know, like Drakes or something...  Surely he can't be meaning to bring back the race that nearly destroyed ours..."

"Oh dear, Richard," a voice said.  "You weren't supposed to know about Epsilon.  The white jackal turned around in sheer panic.  Lady Finch stood in the doorway, watching him with a cool expression on her face and her arms folded.

"Don't tell the Prof, oh gods... please, Mom... don't tell him, don't let him kill me... or them..."

"I won't tell him," Lady Finch said, locking the door behind her.  "And I 'didn't see' either of your friends.  I'll try to hide them, but if they are found I will have to deny all knowlege."

"M-mom...?" Richard gaped.  "I... You are my Mom, right...?  You're not Daryil or someone in disguise...?"

"Of course I am," Lady Finch snapped.  "Look, Richard, I..."  The wolf succubus sighed to herself and sat on Richard's bed.  "I know I haven't always been there for you.  I guess... I guess I haven't been that great a mother for you, when it comes down to it.  Recently... between Taun trying to kill me and Daryil trying not to kill me, and The Professor trying to kill your father... well, it's made me realise that that has to change.  I'm only sorry that you had to become an adult before I realised what I've done."

Syd and Sheila glanced at each other and edged towards the door.

"No, you two stay," Albeth said.  "It's not safe out there."

"Richard, the time is rapidly approaching when you will have to choose whose side you are on," she began.  "I realise that you're caught between Daryil and The Professor and that's far from an ideal situation.  Maybe things will change, maybe one day our two clans can come to some kind of agreement.  But right now you can only be loyal to one side - or else you'll end up like your Dad nearly did."

And you're not the only one who has to decide, she thought sadly.

* * *

"So," The Professor said, kicking back in a chair with a cup of white tea, "Tell me about your ascension, Daryil.  Many have tried, but most have died.  What makes you so special?"

"Not everyone who seeks to become a Tri-Wing deserves it," Daryil said, sipping a cup of coffee.  "It's not something to be entered into lightly.  Yes, you become extremely powerful, but that power comes with huge responsibilities towards your Children, the like of which you cannot presently understand.
"Take Jyraneth, for example.  She ascended by eating her Leader, and as a result she had no clue how to run a clan..."

"Be that as it may, there is a lot we can learn from Jyraneth," The Professor objected.  "Yes, she made mistakes, but she had a lot of good ideas as well that we should do our best to take on board..."

"You've certainly taken her insanity on board," Niall said.

"Quiet!" Professor Fa'Rana snapped, sloshing his tea.  "You forget that I hold you hostage, Niall.  Do not presume to push me too far!  And that goes for you as well, Daryil!"

"Oh, all right," Daryil sulked.  To The Professor's dismay, he took a packet of instant coffee, crushed it, poured out a line and snorted some of it up his nose with a straw.  Suddenly the fox's expression changed and he stroked his chin with a rubbery black hand, staring at the raccoon as if he'd just realised something.

"Professor," Daryil began, "I think I see a way out of this for us.  A way to settle our disagreements."

"I had no idea it was possible to get high on coffee," The Professor mused, folding his arms.  "Go on, Daryil... this ought to be good."

"Hear me out," the fox pleaded, holding his hands in a placatory gesture.
"See, your projects all seem to be tied up with force and violence as a way to get our race on top.  But there are other ways.

"In long aeons past, the 'cubi race was far more powerful.  The energies which our race uses were stronger and in far greater supply.  In those days, Ascension was vastly easier and it was possible to do weird things like having multiple Tri-Wings in the same clan or multicoloured clan marks.

"They say that it was the golden age of our race, Professor.  But something or someone turned off the cosmic tap we were drinking from and cut it down to a trickle.

"Professor, if you must see the 'Cubi become the Master Race, why don't you do it that way?  Find out what's crippled our race and fix it?  Or find a workaround?  Fake soul energy will only take us so far, but suppose you can do that?  The other clans will worship you... you'd become one of the greatest heroes of our race!  You can forget all about dangerous stuff like Epsilon because you simply won't need it!"

"That is a good idea," The Professor said, eyes filled with wonder.  "Are you sure it was one of yours?  It seems almost out of character...  perhaps one of your clan told you... No matter.  Yes, I like that idea and I will definitely look into it.  It seems I owe you a debt of thanks, Daryil."

The fox smiled, offered The Professor a shiny gloved hand.  "Then you'll abandon this Epsilon foolishness and let us go home?" he asked, eyes shining with happiness and relief.

"Of course not!"  The Professor laughed.  "Once our race is in overall control, then I will look towards making this universe a better place for our kind.  First things first!" 

"Gods damn you," Daryil scowled, his offered hand becoming a fist.  With great effort he calmed himself and addressed The Professor curtly.  "So be it," he said.  "In that case, I challenge you to a duel, Professor."

The Professor blinked and stared at Daryil, eyes narrowing with suspicion.  "What did you say...?"

"We're at a stalemate," Daryil told him.  "I want you to drop projects like Epsilon that may get us all killed.  I was hoping I could dissuade you, but it doesn't seem to be working.  Each time we come back to the prospect of force.  My avatar is powerful enough to slay you, but I don't want to do that.  Likewise, you can destroy my avatar - which would make me very angry with you, but you cannot easily harm me, and if you are foolish enough to try and harm my friends, it will be the last thing you ever do.  But a duel would make things so much cleaner and more controlled."

"Let me get this straight," the raccoon said.  "To avoid us killing each other you propose... a fight to the death?"

"No," Daryil said.  "No-one has to die.  Given how adamant you are that the 'Cubi race should inherit Furrae, do you really want to risk destroying someone so rare and important to our race as a Clan Leader?  Even if you disagree with their viewpoint?"

"Yes, this is true," The Professor admitted.  "You are part of the continuum of our race, and yes, in time you will surely realise that my designs are the best way and that your opposition was rooted in folly.  Very well, Daryil.  What do you propose instead?"

"A wager... a gentleman's agreement," Daryil said.  "We find some way to settle our differences; a chess match, mud-wrestling, pie-eating contest, whatever.  Or heck, why not all three?  A triathlon!  Whatever.  If I win, you cancel your violent and dangerous projects.  If you win, I'll leave you to get on with them and pray you know what you're doing.  With me out of the way, you could even return your hostages."

"An interesting idea," The Professor said, with a glint in his eye.  "But you are vastly more powerful than me.  It would not be a fair match.  Besides, I don't trust you, Daryil.  You may cheat."

"But you were planning to ascend shortly, right?  Sigma Project, wasn't it?  Why not move that ahead of schedule?"

"No, Daryil.  I will ascend, and I shall do so soon.  But I will not be rushed, and I will not engage in a loaded competition against a Tri-Wing!"

"Okay," Daryil said.  "My avatar is hobbled by your magical barrier, but since you insist, I nominate Jakob as my champion.  The pair of you would be quite evenly matched for a contest of skill or endurance."

"This is true," The Professor said slowly, "But I must think this over.  I will not be rushed into something for the hasty stroke oft goes astray, which I'm sure you're counting on."

"Professor," said a voice.  Fa'Rana spun around to see Lady Finch behind him, with Johan, Syd, Richard, Sheila and several others including the vixen succubus Victoria.  They were flanked by Anja and a number of android guards.

"Ah, Lady Finch... Wait!  You've captured some spies!  Sidney and this... his girlfriend?  Excellent work!  I was starting to question your loyalty.  Now, I would like you to..."

"I'm afraid you misunderstand," Lady Finch said sadly.  "Professor, I am really sorry, but I have to relieve you of command on the grounds of mental incapacity."

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


Seems like Lady Finch is about to step up and end the madness.

Though I'd be surprised if she could manage it. I'm sure that the Professor is no push over, though considering Finch's position in the organization, that might be true of her too.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.

llearch n'n'daCorna

Silly Prof. Doesn't he know you can't get high off of instant coffee? You need the real stuff for a real high... ;-]
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Well, the Professor is non compos mentis, so I guess it should come as no surprise that he'd make that sort of mistake.  Or should that be compost mentis?  I can't decide...  :)  Ah, t'heck with it, he's just plain LOONY TUNES!
|  Space   ||   Space  ||  It's Hard  ||  A Place  ||  Burma  |
|  is Big  ||  is Dark ||   to Find   ||  to Park  ||  Shave  |


Chapter 59

"What madness is this?!" The Professor gurgled.

"I'm really sorry, Professor," Lady Finch said apologetically.  "It wasn't an easy decision to make, but Richard found out about the Epsilon Project.  I was always a little dubious about it, to tell the truth.  And now he has convinced me that it is madness, as was provoking Daryil by threatening his childen.  You've been overworked, Professor, and the stress is taking its toll.  Your decisions lately have made enemies of the other clans, of entire races and that has to stop.  Now, before it's too late."

"And so now you're attempting a coup." Professor Fa'Rana sighed.  "Oh, Albeth... I had thought so much better of you than this.  How many are with you?"

"Enough," Lady Finch said.  "Others have come to decide who they will support.  Professor, we were friends for a long time and I really don't want there to be any bloodshed.  I ask you to surrender peacefully and leave, or place yourself in my care.  I will do my best to repair our relationships with the outside world.  Maybe, after a period of rest and recuperation, you can be given a..."

"You can't do this!"  The Professor shouted furiously.  "It's my clan!  Clan Fa'Rana!  Oh, yes!  I see it all... now it will be Finch's Clan!  Yes, you'd love that, wouldn't you?  Oh no, Albeth.  No, no, no.  I can't let you take this from me, I'll kill you first!"

"He is mad," Johan said.  "Lady Finch, I support your claim.  The Professor is unfit for command and should be relieved of it, at least for the time being."

The Professor looked like he'd been slapped in the face.  Wing-tentacles bristled and Anja stepped forwards to shield the others.  Then the moment passed.  He stood there shaking with rage, doing his best to remain calm.

"Very well, Albeth," The Professor fumed through bared teeth.  "It will be as you say.  But first, let me..."

"No," Lady Finch interrupted.

"He is the head of our clan," Anja said doubtfully.  "We should hear him out first."

"Thank you, Anja," the raccoon said.  "Let me go into my office and pack my things."

"Victoria, go with him.  Prevent him causing any mischief." Lady Finch insisted.  "Yes, Milady," the vixen said.

* * *

"Alright," the Demon forester said at last, "You may enter the site.  But I must escort you."

"Works for me," Julei said.

"You'll protect us, right?"  Nick quavered.  "If someone else attacks us, I mean...?"

"We'll see," the Demon said gruffly, and then pitched over.  Julei rushed to his aid.

"Hello, mother," said a voice.  Salomere turned around with a start to see two figures emerge from the trees, a male husky and a female Doberman pinscher.

"And grandmother too," the husky said.  "I do hope you are going to introduce your friends to us?  That would only be polite."

"I would," Julei said, glancing around.  "But one of them has just fallen unconscious.  Would you know anything about that?"

"He'll live," the husky said.  "Though we might sacrifice him to The Lady later.  Who is he?"

"He's a forestry worker," Julei said, omitting the Demon's connection to the Kamei'Sin clan.  "As for the others, I don't think you met Joshua Oswald," she gestured at the android incubus.  "And the shy one is Nicklaus."

"Nick, Josh," Salomere piped up, "Meet my children, Ingar and Amalia Jyraneth."

"J-Jyraneth!?" Nick squeaked.  "Please... Don't kill me..."

"Ah," Amalia said, glancing at the young jackal.  "So you're still trying to pretend that you're not Jyraneth members?"

"Nick never wanted to be a Jyraneth," Joshua said.

"One day, you will see the folly of your ways," Ingar sniffed.  "Probably quite soon."

"Oh dear," Salomere said sadly.  "You actually are trying to bring back The Lady?"

"Mordrith suggested it," Amalia put in with relish.  "'Flee, and find your precious Red Queen', wasn't that it?  Well, we have."

"May we see?" Julei asked politely.

"Oh, indeed," Ingar said.  "You must come with us, grandmother.  And bring the Demon too."

Obediently, Josh strode over to the supine wolf and effortlessly hefted him over his back.

For a moment, Ingar looked unsettled at Josh's display of strength, but it soon passed.  He held out a hand and a warp-aci landed upon it.

"Very well," he said.  "Mani... take us back to the dig site."

* * *

The Professor returned shortly, carrying a large suitcase.  He smiled at Lady Finch, but the she-wolf simply gazed back at him, eyes narrowing.

"What have you done with Victoria?" she demanded.

"She will recover soon," The Professor said, his eyes almost glowing with vitality.  He flipped the catch on the suitcase and it burst open, spilling a number of large, cylindrical containers onto the floor with a clatter.

"Soul-energy containers," Daryil said.  "Empty."

"Did you just eat all those?!" Lady Finch demanded in a scolding tone, as if she had found an errant child with an empty box of chocolates.
"You have left me no choice, Albeth," The Professor said.  "Sigma Project begins now.  Then, once I have truly become this clan's Leader, you shall find me a lot harder to depose!"

"Please don't do this, Professor," Daryil begged.

"Why shouldn't I?  It will give me all the power I need to crush this idiotic rebellion.  And then we shall see, Daryil.  Oh, yes.  You asked for a duel... and you shall have one!"

"That's not the point," Daryil said.  "Weren't you listening earlier?  You're doing it for all the wrong reasons!  You're trying to ascend out of selfishness and that's completely wrong!  It's more like a sacrifice for the good of your clan!  Don't you get it?  It's not simply becoming a mega-powerful 'Cubi, it's about your family!  There are things you'll never be able to do again!  You mustn't rush into it.. please, stop and think about what you're doing!"

"Oh shut up, Daryil," The Professor snarled.

"Richard, you were not born of my clan," Fa'Rana said, "By an accident of birth you became one of Daryil's children.  But it doesn't have to be that way!  You can leave Daryil clan and become part of mine - a clan with a true purpose in life.  You don't truly want to be allied with the laughing stock of our race?  Join with me, Richard.  Surely you can see that this is the wisest course of action."

"Join you?" Richard snarled.  "You ordered my father to be murdered!  Not only that but you tried to sacrifice my mother to Taun!  Daryil was right, Professor... you are a monster.  I'm staying with him."

"You are still young and foolish," the raccoon sighed.  "Once Sigma is completed, my clan will dwarf Daryil's in power, and you will look back on this with embarrassment.  But there will still be a place for you with us, Richard," he added in a persuasive voice.

"Only if you want to have your power completely gimped," Daryil put in.  "Remember, you're a Daryil Clan member.  It doesn't matter how powerful the Prof thinks he'll be after his ascension - if you switch clan, you'll still be a cripple.  Changing clan costs you half your power and lifespan - it's something you do for your child's sake, not your own."

"I have created a Dragon from scratch," Professor Fa'Rana laughed.  "If I can do that, I can surely find a workaround for this trifling little problem..."

"Is that your offer?" Richard asked.  "Leave someone who still loves me despite my flaws, and become a lab animal for your experiments in 'Cubi metabiology?  Fuck off."

"As you wish," The Professor said.  "I forgive you.  There will still be a place in my clan for you should you wish it."

"Professor," Daryil snapped urgently, "Where are you planning to ascend?"

"Here, of course.  Where else?"

"You can't do that, Professor.  Ascending, especially the kind of fast-burn ascendance you're doing, releases an enormous amount of energy.  It will cremate Grunmore, some of my most valued clan members and basically your entire clan into the bargain."

"Lies!  How could anyone ever ascend if that was the case?!"

"Because they don't do it next to their children!  Surely you remember my ascension?  The explosion in the desert that most people wrote off as a meteor strike...?"

"That was you?!"

"Yes.  It literally melted that patch of the desert to glass for several miles around, though of course the sand has blown over most of it since.  Or Cyra?  Her ascension converted the entire city of Hishaan into gleaming spires of borosilicate.
"No, you can't risk destroying your clan in the ascension - it would break you, Professor.  You have no idea what it is like to be a Leader, what it means to have your clan members linked to you.  Losing them all during the ascension will destroy your mind.  No - what you have to do is go somewhere else and ascend there.  Then return to claim your prize."

"So be it," The Professor snarled.

* * *

"Jeremiah!"  Daryil said, as the video screen in his sanctum cleared to reveal a green-haired husky in armour.  "I didn't expect you'd be back so soon!  How are you faring?"

"Much better," Jeremiah said.  "And thank you for the chocolates, it was a kind gesture.  Frankly I'm not feeling great yet, but I am well enough to resume envoy duty.  My injuries will heal over, but for now the armour will cover my scars.  Caroline tells me that you wanted to speak to me as Taun's envoy, correct?  Incidentally she's really sorry about trying to behead Jakob and it won't happen again."

"It is forgiven," Daryil said.  "But please try to get her to think before acting in future.  Look, Jerry, I wanted to talk to you about Professor Fa'Rana.  He is planning to ascend."

The husky raised a mailed hand.  "Milord, if I may be blunt, Taun Clan's position on ascension is pretty neutral.  We do have a tacit disapproval in that virtually everyone who attempts it ends up destroyed, but besides the attrition on our race, it isn't really our place to prevent someone ascending whose politics we disapprove of.
"After all, if we did pick and choose who should get to ascend, don't you think Taun might have intervened against you?"

Daryil smirked and the blue husky looked nervous for a moment.

"No disrespect was intended, Milord, but you know how Taun disapproves of your frivolity, and your attempts to mimic a Clan Leader prior to ascending still rankle her," Jeremiah added hastily.

"You got me there," Daryil grinned.  "But you aren't sitting there with the Prof listening to his insane plans." 

"...I am talking to Daryil, aren't I?"  Jeremiah asked suddenly.  "Or one of your avatars?  It's not an envoy faking you or something?"

"You're talking to the real me," Daryil said, opening his shirt briefly to show the marking on his chest.  "I've got an avatar on-site with the Prof, and another in a spare office talking to Dimanika.  But frankly my attention is split 33/66 in your favour."

"Who gets the remaining one percent?"  The husky asked politely.

"Dimanika," Daryil said.  "She's been talking about twine for the last 45 minutes.  For the most part I'm smiling and nodding.  No, I want to discuss some of the Prof's insane plans with you and why I think they may be a danger to our race."

"Taun might say the same about you, you know," Jeremiah pointed out.  "And it's fair to say that you have to be fairly crazy to risk ascending in the first place."

"Yeah, but there's different grades of crazy," Daryil said.  "I'm crazy on the outside.  The Prof is crazy on the inside.  Yes, my clan created some androids to help the dying or the dead, which was a bit naughty, but it's safe.
"What The Professor is doing is dangerous.  He looks sane on the surface but underneath, he's so hell-bent on trying to rule the 'Cubi race that he's willing to unleash... well, I don't want to prejudice you against him by saying, but it's one of our oldest enemies.
"Look, Jerry, I'm not asking Taun to mobilise and attack him, but I do think your people need to keep an eye on the situation."

"I'll pass that along, Daryil.  But without specifics, it's hard..." Jeremiah said.

"That's all I ask," Daryil smiled.  "Thanks, Jerry."

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


Wow, the Professor's mad plot sure has Daryil busy.

Of course with the Red Lady possibly making a come back, what really is the worst kind of madness coming from?
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Yeah, compared to Fa'Rana and the Red Queen, Daryil is merely whimsically eccentric.  From what I've read about Queen Jyraneth, she's even worse than Fa'Rana.  I'm no psychologist, so I can't give proper names to their various forms of insanity, but they're both really out there.  (I think I made my opinion of the Professor clear in my previous post. :) )

I would find it satisfyingly ironic if Fa'Rana does try to ascend, and winds up disassembled down to his component quarks.
|  Space   ||   Space  ||  It's Hard  ||  A Place  ||  Burma  |
|  is Big  ||  is Dark ||   to Find   ||  to Park  ||  Shave  |


Two more left after this...

Chapter 60

Jyraneth's inner sanctum stood before them like a tomb.  They gazed at it with a collective sigh, and then Ingar moved forward.

The husky kicked open the massive stone door which swung open for a moment, caught, and then after another kick, pitched over with a crash that reverberated throughout the caverns like the clap of doom.

With a triumphant crow, Ingar stepped inside, brandishing a torch.  He flicked it onto its highest setting and swung it around.  It was not so much a cavern as an immense hall, ornately decorated, the ceiling stretching up some thirty metres.

At the end of the hall, the husky caught a glimpse of something rounded.  He ran towards it, and pointed the light straight at it.  Black and cracked-looking, it was the gigantic form of a jackal, still as a statue.  The light played on her head for a moment, and then suddenly she turned.  Ingar dropped the torch and it shattered, but light came forth from her very eyes.  A hand reached out and swatted him, knocking him off his feet and smashing his body against the wall.  His corpse peeled off the wall and fell to earth, a broken and bloody heap.

Jyraneth reached out again, her hand snaked towards Amalia, who froze and with a mournful croak, fell stone dead and soulless.

"Don't be ridiculous," Ingar snapped, waving his hand dismissively at Julei.

"...But I'm telling you, that's exactly what will happen!"  the husky succubus protested.  "Surely you've seen the cine films!?!  The explorer goes in with a torch, shines it at the statue, the statue turns around and the unfortunate archaeologist is destroyed by the ancient evil.  You think that's just some shit people made up?  The reason it's so popular in the movies is because it happens so bloody often!
"Listen, kids, you may have forsworn our clan, and your crimes may have pushed Mordrith into a killing rage the last time we met, but you're still flesh of my flesh and I don't want to see you die!"

"She is our Clan Leader!" Ingar snarled.  "She will shower us with honour and praise for releasing her!"

"You weren't there!" Julei said desperately.  "Jyraneth heard voices in her head telling her to kill people.  You can't expect reasonable behaviour from someone that far out of her gourd!  Hell, she'll probably just eat whoever lets her out of her prison because they achieved something she couldn't or wouldn't do herself!"

"Look," she protested, gesturing at the digging machinery around the site, "You've used Being technology to excavate her.  If she doesn't assume that you're Being-lovers, the fact that you've released her using Being machinery - that she owes her return to the brainchild of the 'abominations' she swore us to destroy - she'll take that as a mortal insult and destroy you utterly."

"Then what do you suggest we do instead?" Amalia snapped.  "We have not come so close to our Leader just to turn around and go home!"

"Going home would be the sensible thing," Julei said sourly.  "But if you insist on poking someone more dangerous than you can imagine, there is a way we can talk to her from a safe distance."

"What?!  How?  More Being technolgy?"

"No.  Nick here can still dream," Julei said.  "He was plagued by nightmares of Jyraneth until he joined our clan and we taught him to block her influence.  If we can convince him to lower his defences, then when he sleeps, the Lady is very likely to enter his dreams, given how close we are to her.
"I can dream-surf," she said.  "I will enter his dreams, and if the Lady does appear, we should be able to converse without risking her destroying us."

She hesistated.  "Failing that, we could use Being technology.  I could probably borrow Daryil's BigTrack and stick a wireless camera on it, if you really must breach her chamber."

* * *

Nick looked around and drew a quick breath, shuddering.  Even without having read 'Confessions of a Jyraneth' and 'Confessions of Another Jyraneth', he knew more than enough of his Clan Leader's wiles.
Cages full of bones and decomposing victims creaked slowly in the faint breeze, rotting bodies swung from gibbets, decaying heads spiked on poles gazed sightlessly next to a guillotine.  All these and other atrocities left Nick in no doubt that he stood in the Red Queen's Hanging Gardens.

Nervously, the young incubus glanced around.  Salomere stood behind him, glancing around with horrified fascination in much the same way as Nick.  Julei sat upon a nearby execution block, looking thoroughly miserable and more than a little scared.

"Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea," she whispered.

Ingar and Amalia looked around as though lost.  Horror seeping into them as their dreams of the Clan's glory were suddenly confronted with the brutal reality of Jyraneth's tyrannical reign.

Nick glanced around, wondering for a moment where Josh and the demon woodsman were before he remembered that it was only a lucid dream.

"Josh is guarding our bodies," Julei said.  "And if the woodsman comes around he should be able brief him on the situation.  And hopefully prevent him from murdering my grandchildren as well once he realises what they did..."

Nick gulped as the tall figure of a female jackal appeared before him, white and black, the ebony patches of her fur somehow glowing with dark energies.  She had three pairs of wings and stood about twelve foot tall.  As he watched, his Leader raised an arm and pointed a finger at him accusingly.

"You again, ghost!" Jyraneth roared.  "Why do you keep returning to haunt me?  Why?!"

"Um, I brought some people with me," Nick told her nervously.

"More ghosts?!  How dare you..."

"'ghosts?'"  Ingar hissed, looking slightly worried.  "What the hell is she talking about?"

"She tried to eat my soul," Nick whispered.  Amalia looked at the giant jackal uncertainly.  "She thinks she succeeded," the jackal continued, "But it was just a dream.  She's confused..."

"Please, your majesty, they're not ghosts," Nick said out loud, "They're members of your clan, and they wanted to talk to you..."

Ingar and Amalia knelt before Jyraneth, Nick himself edging away from her cautiously.

"Oh, great and mighty Queen," the incubus said, "We came here to free you that you may reign above once again..."

"Traitors... heretics!"  The Lady boomed.  "You may have come here to release me, but you have profaned the gods... consorting with Beings and using their foul, blasphemous machines!
"I deem you heretics, like the rest of your line.  For these and other crimes I must now destroy you."
The jackal pointed at the guillotine, which somehow had two attendants beside it, their bodies enshrouded with black as her Judicators had done.  Only their eyes were visible, and the glowing white of the Lady's mark upon their bodies. 

Ingar glanced at the blade, and back at Jyraneth, his eyes full of fear and disbelief as if he couldn't accept what she meant.
"Yes," Jyraneth crowed.  "Offer your heads willingly if you would die like true Jyraneth!  Refuse, and your end will be far less merciful."

"Oh fuck," Amalia whimpered, and jumped as Julei put a hand on her shoulder.  "I hate to say 'I told you so...'" the elder succubus began.

"But she can't hurt us, right...?"  Salomere whispered.

Julei looked worried.  "This close to her...?  I didn't think so, but now I'm less sure..."

"I repeat my offer once more," Jyraneth boomed.  "Surrender yourselves and your executions shall be swift and merciful.  Otherwise..."

"Mercy?" Julei interrupted.  "You don't know the meaning of the word.  I would have been content to follow your ways, but that you would have executed my husband and destroyed his very soul.  And for being his wife you would have executed me too, never mind that I saw Mordrith's heresies as wishful thinking.  That was what turned me against you, my Lady.  You forced me to choose between my loving husband and a monster who tormented and murdered her own children."

"So be it!  I shall crush you slowly as heretics," the jackal informed them.  "Body and soul, your days are at an end."

"No," Nick shouted.  Julei turned with a start, wings fanning out in disbelief at the sneering, defiant tone in his voice.  The shy, terrified youth was gone, replaced by a heroic warrior in gleaming armour, a sword in his hand that shimmered with ensorcellments.

"Your reign is over, Jyraneth," he said, voice ringing out clearly.  "You will not destroy us - I am come to destroy you."

"You dare threaten the servant of the Gods!?" Jyraneth screamed, her hands becoming clawlike.

"SILENCE!"  Nick commanded.  "I am a true servant of the Gods, Jyraneth.  You have been judged and found wanting.  When they sent your enemies to conquer the city, you could have used your power to crush them and protect your Children.  Instead you fled.  The attack on Harla'Keth was naught but a test of your faith, and you failed."

"Failed?!" the succubus blustered.  "Liar!  Heretic!"

Nick smiled darkly.  "And on top of all else, you threaten your few surviving children with death and worse.  You have twisted the desires of the Gods to suit your own selfish ends, Lady.  They are most displeased with your betrayal and have sent me here to carry out their sentence.
"Your own soul must be forefeit - I shall devour you and fulfil my destiny by taking your place, just as you did to Kafzeil, who was once your Clan Leader.  And once I am become Lord Jyraneth, I shall lead the survivors of your incompetence to a new golden age.
"There is but one way you can avoid this fate - hand the Leadership to me willingly, and the Gods may let you keep your soul.  It is your only chance."

"Never!" Jyraneth screamed, and the dream collapsed.

* * *

Nick woke blearily.  Julei was shaking him, her face lined with worry.

"Nick...?  Is that you...?"

"Is she gone?" Nick quailed.

"Yes," Salomere told her.  "Nick... you didn't... you didn't mean any of that, did you...?" she added, looking distraught.

"What?" Nick asked.  "Oh, about taking her place?  I... I don't think I'd make a very good Clan Leader..."

"I think you'd do better than she did," Julei shrugged.

"Okay, guys," the Demon said, hefting his axe again.  "You'd better have a good explanation for this..."

"Ingar attacked you," Josh said, pointing at the other husky incubus.  "That wasn't our fault.  But I think we've reached some kind of understanding with them..."

"The fuck we have!"  Ingar snarled.  "The Lady has gone!  You robbed us of our chance to-"

"Did you learn nothing?!" Salomere shouted.  Ingar looked surprised, and stepped backwards, blinking.
"She said flat out that she was going to destroy us all," the doberman growled.  "Not 'everyone except Ingar', she wanted the whole lot of us soul-dead, and neither of you have the Ja'Fell shielding.  We might have pulled through, but she'd probably have killed the both of you if Nick hadn't just saved your asses!"

"Mother's right," Amalia said, her expression distraught and her eyes pleading.  "Jyraneth wanted our heads, Ingar... our very souls!  She really does want us destroyed...  J-Julei... you were right.  I should have listened..."

"That's alright, dear," Julei said.  "We all make mistakes."

"Is this true?" the forester asked, lowering the axe slightly.  "The Lady...?  Is she truly gone...?"

"I can no longer feel her presence," Amalia said.  "Maybe she's gone, maybe she's just gone back to sleep to prevent Nick being able to trace her life-force..."

"We won't know without going inside," Julei told the Demon, "And I'm not suicidal enough to try that, even if Ingar is.  If I were you, I'd seal the place in concrete.  It won't stop her if she's determined to get out, but it should help prevent more crazies from trying to wake her."

"I will recommend that.  But if you're done here, I must take you to our capital," the Demon said.

"Are we under arrest?"  Josh asked, as Salomere rolled her eyes.

"No, but there will need to be an inquiry.  At the very least the Kamei'Sin will need a statement from each of you."

"No!"  Ingar snarled, leaping away.  "You're one of them?!  I'll not be taken by scum like you!  Come, Amalia!  We're leaving!"

"No," the Doberman said.  Ingar stared in disbelief, as did Salomere and Julei.  "I'm going with them.  They need to know what happened."

"The Kamei'Sin will kill you!  Mordrith will kill you!"

"Perhaps I deserve it," Amalia said quietly, glancing sadly at Salomere and Julei.

"I don't think it will come to that," Julei said.  "Mordrith would rather have you as a friend than an enemy."

"Fool," Ingar said, and bolted off into the trees.

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


Chapter 61

Daxxon opened one eye slowly.  He was manacled to a wall, the room in darkness barring the soft glow of the bracers that left him powerless.

Dammit, he thought.  Not this again.

"Are you awake?" a voice called out.

"No," Daxxon replied.  "You have a lot to answer for, Professor..." he snarled.  "Like, why you deserve to remain whole.  I'm starting to get hungry..."

"I'm not The Professor," the voice said.

"D... Daryil?!" the alsatian yelped.  "They... they got you too...?  How?!"

"No," the fox said.  "I had come to free you, but I might have to leave you to cool off for a bit first, if your plans involve murdering people."

"Who said anything about murdering?" Daxxon grinned savagely.  "I was just going to eat one of his arms, that's all.  Nothing serious.  Did you say you'd come to rescue me?"

"Well, I can leave you if you prefer," Daryil offered.  "Or, we could call it a 'release', if that makes it more palatable..."

"I may be a Demon but I'm a bit more pragmatic than that," Daxxon said.  "Okay, some of my kind would sooner starve than admit to weakness by being rescued by others, but that always seemed pretty thick to me.  If you want to let me out of here, by all means, go for it."

"It's more of a release anyway," Daryil said.  "Clan Fa'Rana is in a state of civil war.  Finch is leading a coup to oust the Prof.  She's loosely on our side."


"Well, I don't think she has any love for me.  But she recognises that I'm a powerful ally and that the Prof is leading their clan to disaster.  We don't see eye-to-eye, but she is trying to find a peaceful resolution to the problems that we are all facing."

"So your plan is to spring me out of jail in the confusion?"

"Well, you were the Prof's hostage, not hers.  I don't think she'll mind, as long as you don't eat anyone.  Or parts of them.  That would upset Jakob too, by the way."

"But the shield was being maintained by The Professor, wasn't it?  The one preventing us from leaving?"

"You mean, the one that stopped me bringing this avatar into Grunmore?"  Daryil asked.  "Ah, now that took a bit of fiddling."

* * *

Daryil and The Professor gazed out across the desert.

"I think this is where it was," Daryil told him, kicking the sand with a shiny boot.  "It should be safe to ascend here.  Remember, concentrate on the specifications of the clan.  Don't let your mind wander.  Oh, and good luck."

"It is more than luck, Daryil." the raccoon sneered.

"Is it?"  Daryil asked.  "So many others thought they could beat the odds.  If it were that easy, we'd be swimming in Tri-Wings.  Instead there are precious few of us and the bar seems to get higher and higher with each ascension.
"Professor, are you sure you're ready to take this step?  Don't you think it would be more sensible to wait first?"

"Oh no, Daryil.  My mind is set.  I will do this, and you will not turn me aside."

"Why?" Daryil asked simply.  The Professor stared at him.

"You know very well why.  You and Albeth have seduced half my clan..."

"I did not!  Well, only Calahan, but he doesn't count..."

"SHUT UP!" The Professor shouted, trembling with fury.  "You and Albeth... the pair of you have conspired to usurp my authority!  You have engineered a revolt, a civil war, one that can only be put out by force!  My force... the power of an ascended Tri-Wing!"

"That's it?" Daryil said, and shook his head sadly.  "You want to ascend just because of some petty squabble?  You could fork the clan, you know.  I could help you do that.  Then you and Finch could go your own merry ways, without this whole risky..."

"So that you can divide and conquer us?" the raccoon laughed.  "Don't be ridiculous."

"No, no, no," the fox said, impatiently.  "Professor, if I wanted to crush your clan, I assure you I could.  I am trying very hard to avoid that and you are not helping."

"I do not have to answer to you, Daryil," The Professor said coolly.  "I will ascend, and you will not stop me."

"That's true," Daryil said.  "I could, but I won't.  I just don't think you understand what you're letting yourself in for, and the risks it entails."

"Power," Professor Fa'Rana said.  "And yes, yes, yes.  The risks are well-documented.  But are they true?  Is it not, rather, a ploy to scare off those who might otherwise threaten the status quo?
"Daryil, look at you.  You achieved it.  If an idiot can do so, then I..."

"Oh, look!  There's Albeth!"  Daryil said, waving cheerily at a small group of figures who had appeared on a nearby sand dune.

The Professor glanced around with a start.  "What the hell are they doing here?!" he demanded.  "How did they even get out?!  The shields..."

"You had to lower the shield briefly in order to get here, Professor," Daryil told him.  "I used that blip to wedge it open and make a hole in it.  Then I was able to rescue Niall, and bring another avatar in to protect Richard and res... release Dax."

"You tricked me!" the raccoon snarled.

"No, Prof.  You told me that I could cheat, so I did."

"I told you what...?"

"You did!" Daryil protested.  "You said, 'I don't trust you, Daryil.  You may cheat.'  I thought you meant I was allowed to..."

"You swore that my ascending would destroy my clan... and now you brought them here?!  And your own envoy too!?"

"Yes," Daryil said.  "But don't worry.  Now that my avatar is at full power, unhampered by your shield, I put up a protective forcefield of my own to shield them from the blast.  I figured that since this was such a monumental occasion for your clan, they deserved the chance to..."

"Silence, Daryil!  My time is at hand.  When I am done, I shall destroy you."

So saying, The Professor turned away, looked up and raised his hands towards the sun.  Then he fell over.


"Oh gods, no..." Lady Finch sobbed, racing across the sand to where Daryil knelt sombrely by The Professor, feeling for a pulse and shaking his head miserably.  The raccoon's eyes stared sightlessly at the blue desert sky, mouth slightly open, as if he'd died of a heart attack.  Daryil removed his gloves, reached down and closed The Professor's eyes, laying the gloves across The Professor's chest, a mark of respect for a fallen rival.

"I'm sorry, Albeth," he said simply.  "He's gone.  Professor Fa'Rana was a brilliant man.  Dangerous and misguided, but brilliant."

"You..." Anja snarled, staring in disbelief.  "You murdered our Clan Leader!  You'll die for this..."

"No, Anja," Daryil sighed.  "I didn't kill him, he just... died.  I was expecting something a bit more dramatic, I will be honest..."

Anja knelt before the body and began to sob uncontrollably.  Daryil placed a comforting hand on her shoulder, their quarrel forgotten for a moment.

"I suppose we'd better get him back to Grunmore," the fox said at last, producing a shroud from somewhere.  He reached down as if to wrap it around the fallen raccoon, but Anja batted his hand away.

"No, Daryil," she said.  "We are of his clan - it is our duty.  You... you've done enough already," the leopard snarled.  

"I tried to stop him," Daryil said quietly.  "I didn't want him to die..."

"Nah, it wasn't Daryil's fault," an unearthly voice said.  Daryil glanced around and saw the glowing figure of a pine-marten.  Anja and Finch stared at it in fear and wonder.

"Oh Bob..." Daryil said, appalled.  "You didn't... you didn't sabotage his ascension now, did you...?"

"Nah," the apparition said.  "He did that himself.  I simply didn't help him.  Not the way I helped you."

"Me...?"  Daryil looked astonished.

"Yes," Bob said.  "Left to yourself you probably would have exploded in a blast of magical energy.  No-one seems to realise just how hard ascension is these days..."

Daryil knelt.  "I... thank you, Lord Bob.  I owe you a debt that I'm not sure I can ever repay..."

"Oh, that's fine - if I wanted something, I'd have come to collect before now," Bob said.  "I wanted to see a new Clan Leader, and here you are.  If you want to pay me back, just avoid getting killed, okay?  I'd hate to think I wasted my investment."

"Why didn't you aid our leader?" Anja demanded, angrily.  "He was twice the man Daryil will ever be!"

"I could have" Bob said.  "But then he said he'd murder Daryil when he ascended, and that was a bit of a turn-off."

"Daryil," Anja pleaded, her voice full of desperation.  "When you were taken, you threatened to stuff me into a soul gem and put it into orbit.  Do you still have that gem?!  You can use it... you can save The Professor's soul, we can make him live again!"

"I can't," Daryil said, and closed his eyes.  "Anja,  Albeth, I don't know how to put this, but... The Professor's soul... it's not there.  I fear that the attempt... it may have been..."

"NO!" Albeth wailed.

"I'm not that cruel," Bob interrupted.  "The Prof created a feedback loop.  When I saw it was going pear-shaped, I was able to remove his soul before it got too badly fried.  But The Professor is still dead - I have taken him to serve me in my realm.  Perhaps, when he has learned his lesson I can think about letting him return..."

"Why can't he come back now...?" Anja demanded indignantly.

"Because your clan has got a lot to answer for," Bob said. "Professor Fa'Rana was responsible for most of it and he will be called to account for his crimes.  You're going to send him to Marlbury."

"But he's dead!"  Anja wailed.

"Yes," Bob said.  "And when his body is presented to the inquiry, accompanied by testimony from Daryil, Richard and Jeremiah, they'll close the investigation.  With a compensation agreement from Lady Finch they'll accept that justice has been done and return the body to you for interment.
"'Course, if you insist, I can revive him.  After a comparatively short trial, he'll be found guilty, decapitated, incinerated and flushed down the toilet.  It might be kinder to let Daxxon eat him..."

"But-"  Bob made a rude gesture and Anja's voice was suddenly muted.

"Have you considered making a remote control for androids?" Bob asked.  "Mute and Pause buttons would be really handy at times like this."

"Bob," Daryil said suddenly, "What did you do that affected my own ascension?  And why?"
"Why?  I like you, Daryil.  You remind me of myself when I was an incubus.  I figured you had what it takes to become a decent Leader, even if the others didn't see it.
"But... and I hate to put it like this, I wasn't sure if it would work.  So I kind of used you as a guinea-pig.  Maybe you did do more of it yourself than I gave you credit for... I don't know."

"Hmm, okay," Daryil said.  "But what did you actually do?"

"It's complicated.  I'd have to explain a lot of other things, and I'm not sure you're up for it right now, not after all that's happened today.  Maybe some other time."

"Okay, the quick version us this - I live outside your universe, but I can transfer energy to and from yours.  I dumped a lot of energy into you during your ascension to ensure it worked correctly.

"Anyway, I suggest you put The Prof's body into stasis.  We can work out the details with Marlbury later, 'cause you've still got a big problem to deal with first," the mustelid pointed out.

"What problem?" Lady Finch demanded, cradling her late mentor's head.

"The Epsilon Project," Bob said.

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


So in the end, the Professor endsup killing himself.

Not only that, but his ending is the most anticlimactic death for an attempted for a cubi to reach Tri-wing status. Oh, and the Red Queen is still a bloodthirsty, cowardly, Crazy old bitty. But I guess that was already established quite a while ago. Still, there might be a danger of getting close to her hiding place and show any bit of weakness to her. 
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Quote from: joshofspam on June 22, 2013, 01:36:42 AM
Not only that, but his ending is the most anticlimactic death for an attempted for a cubi to reach Tri-wing status.

Originally he was going to explode, but Amber told me that the most common failure mode was that they simply drop dead.  "Magic loves an anticlimax" I believe she said.  So I went with that.  Less cinematic, but arguably more realistic and definitely more personal.

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


Quote from: Tapewolf on June 22, 2013, 05:16:42 AM
Quote from: joshofspam on June 22, 2013, 01:36:42 AM
Not only that, but his ending is the most anticlimactic death for an attempted for a cubi to reach Tri-wing status.

Originally he was going to explode, but Amber told me that the most common failure mode was that they simply drop dead.  "Magic loves an anticlimax" I believe she said.  So I went with that.  Less cinematic, but arguably more realistic and definitely more personal.
It looked good to me.
~~ Gabi a.k.a. Gliynn Starseed, APF ~~
Thanks to Silver for the yappities, and to everyone for being so great!
(12:28:12) llearch: Gabi is equal-opportunity friendly


Chapter 62

"...and it was all just a dream," Daryil said happily.  A muttering broke out, echoing throughout the main hall as the students glanced at each other.  Illiath was staring at Daryil with a strange expression.

Jeremiah was the first to speak.  "If it was a dream, which I doubt because I can't dream anymore, why does it hurt so much?" he demanded.  Jakob pushed Daryil away from the microphone and addressed the assembly himself.

"What my esteemed and very shiny Clan Leader is trying to say," Jakob began, "Is that this will all seem like it was just a bad dream.  Does anyone have any questions before we begin?"

"Yes," Mike said, gesturing at Daryil.  "Why is he wearing a catsuit?"

"It's shiny," Daryil said.  "Anyway, we have reached a peace deal with Lady Finch of Fa'Rana clan, and she's graciously agreed to return the premises of Illie's school..."

"Illiath's", the Doberman growled.

"...Your headmistress' school - back to her control, with a promise that there will be no further attacks or disruption."

"Anyway, I figured that called for a party," the fox said, and with a gesture, several tables of food and drink appeared.  There was a yelp of shock as Keaton appeared behind them, a trowel in one hand and a delphinium in the other.

"Oh, yeah!"  Daryil said, and a number of other figures appeared - Mordrith, Julei, Salomere, Josh, Amalia and several surprised officials from the Kamei'Sin clan.

"I forgot to mention, Mordrith's clan have averted or at least postponed Jyraneth's resurrection," Daryil called out.  "Double celebration!"

"But how did you stop the Epsilon Project?" Nigel asked.

"Ooops," Daryil said.  "I knew I'd forgotten something.  Anyone who wants to hear can go over to that corner and I'll tell all."

* * *

As Jakob watched, Lady Finch and Johan Fa'Rana laid out their clan father upon a stretcher and fashioned a stasis field to preserve his body.  Daryil glanced around the desert, a look of concern on his features.

"Bob," Daryil said, "Can't you stop the Epsilon Project?"

"No," the shimmering figure said.  "I can't see what's happening.  There's too much magical interference.  But I can show you where it is."

"Lady Finch," Daryil said.  "Can't you stop the Epsilon Project?"

"I don't know the details," she said.  "It was The Professor's baby.  The details might be on his computer, but it will take such a long time to find them - his creation may have hatched by then.  They are probably encrypted and I'm not sure The Professor really intended others to take over his work..."

"But can you get into the facility if Bob shows us?"

"I believe so.  But whether I can halt it... I'll have to see."


"I want Death," Daryil said.  Nigel stared at him, appalled.

"No, Dar... you mustn't!" he begged. Daryil stared at him as if he'd gone mad.

"Isildor Death," the fox said.  "You know, the Demon clan?  It's urgent."  Nigel's ears went pink with embarrassment.

"Isildor is in his office in T'Quora City, but I'm sure I can arrange a warp-aci."

"Do it," Daryil said, drumming his fingers against the wall.

"Ah, Milord," a voice said some minutes later.  Daryil glanced up and saw a surprisingly muscular guinea-pig Demon approaching him.

"Ah, Mr. Death," Daryil said, shaking the Demon's hand.  "We have a bit of a problem on our hands, and since you taught Ashley everything he knows about nanofabrication engines, I figured you were our best bet."

"Oh dear, you haven't been making grey goo or something?" he asked worriedly.  "Milord," he added hastily.

"Just call me Daryil," the fox told him.  "Or we can make it 'Dar' if you're up for a quick shag before we get down to business," he offered casually.
The Demon politely declined.


"This is it," Daryil said, gesturing at a large, grey machine, some fifteen feet tall.  "It's a..."

"Series 3700," Death said.  "I helped design it.  What is it making?"

"A dragon," Daryil told him.  The Demon stiffened with horror.

"I'm not kidding," Daryil added sadly.  "Professor Fa'Rana has designed some composite lifeform based on Dragon DNA, and it is being assembled in this machine.  We have to stop it."

"Doing that will kill the creature," the Demon pointed out.   "Are you sure we have that right?"

"The Dragons did terrible things, Isildor.  With the Angels on their way out, and the 'Cubi and Weres nearly exterminated, I have little doubt that Demons would have been next on the list once the races that could help them fight back had been squashed.  I don't like it, but we'll have to.  It's not like the creature is going to be sentient at this point."

"True.  I take it your professor is not going to help?  Even if you broke a few limbs first?"

"He's a bit too dead," Daryil said.  The Demon shrugged and began inspecting the control panel.

"He's locked it out," Isildor commented.  "I may be able to override it, however.  I know a couple of backdoors..."

He typed in a long string of digits and pressed ENTER.  The control console exploded, taking the unfortunate Demon's hand off.

"Was it supposed to do that?" Daryil asked.

"What do you think?!" Isildor screamed, clutching the stump of his wrist.  Daryil winced, and then began casting a spell on him, stemming the bleeding and relieving some of the pain.

"It'll grow back," he reassured him.

"Urrgh," Isildor growled and stomped around the machine.  Furious, he aimed a kick at something on a nearby wall.  Darkness and silence fell all around them.

"I think I just broke the fuse box," he said.

"I could have done that myself," Daryil complained.

* * *

"That was a quick change," Jakob said, holding a wine glass filled with water.  Daryil glanced at him.

"Beg pardon?"

"You're not wearing the catsuit anymore.  Oh... was it shapeshifted or part of your avatar projection or something?"

"Nah," Daryil said, pointing a gloved hand across the room, where another Daryil, still in the catsuit, was chatting with Simeon, Sheila, Sydney, Richard and Dorcan.  "I couldn't decide which outfit would be best for the occasion, so I wore several."

"I suppose you'll want us to leave Grunmore," Lady Finch said grudgingly.

"Yes," Illiath said.

"No," Daryil said.  "Maybe eventually, but for now I'd prefer your clan to stay there where I can keep an eye on them.  Expect me to send an observer or two to make sure you're not causing mischief. Dorcan, perhaps, and... your husband would be an ideal candidate, in fact.  Jerry might want to monitor things for a while too..."

"No!" Lady Finch squawked.

"Lady Finch," the husky said, "While our methods can be a little heavy-handed, Clan Taun's primary goal has been to defuse the threat that your clan posed to ours."

"By murdering me?"

"If necessary.  But for your information, most of the situations I've been called in to resolve have ended peacefully, and that's saying something because I usually seem to get left the really messy ones no-one else will touch.
"The time before last, things got a little messy when the King in question thought to send my head back to Taun as his answer.  I had to slay many guards before he finally saw sense, but we got there in the end.
"I believe the same applies here.  Taun and her council thought that you were the caused of their troubles, but The Professor was actually the greater threat.  With his death, we have a proper foundation to negotiate a peace deal from, and the rest should be easy."

"No extortion?  No more attempts to behead me?"

"I only ever threatened to do so, Lady Finch.  You nearly did," Jeremiah said, glancing at her irritably.  "But yes, so long as you keep your hands off our clan members, I will leave you in peace.  Though now you mention it, a tribute would go down well with Taun.  And you still owe me for that parking fine..."

"I still want my sword back," Illiath interrupted.

"How about Parbury?"  Mayor Dickens asked, glancing from Finch to Anja with a look of extreme suspicion and distaste.

"Daryil, your associates demand too much!" the wolf succubus snapped.

"Daryil has been uncommonly generous in negotiating an amnesty for you and your clan," Jeremiah reminded her calmly.  "Doubly so when you consider how many enemies you have made and how much blood you have spilled.  Would you throw all that away and risk the guillotine at Marlbury, simply because of a few demands for reparation from people you have wronged?"

"I suppose so," she sighed.  "There is always tomorrow."

"We do need to discuss Parbury, though," Daryil said.  "Patrick in particular."

"Patrick...?" Lady Finch looked nonplussed.

"My assistant!"  Mayor Dickens snarled, pointing angrily at Anja, who backed away nervously.  "You sent her to murder him... and me!"

"I think we can fix that," Daryil said.  "Richard, tell me again about the Brain Museum."

"The what?!"  Jeremiah snarled, stepping back from Lady Finch, and reaching for his sword.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," the succubus said sullenly.  Richard made a meeping sound and glanced nervously at the angry dog.

"Jerry won't hurt you," Daryil said.  "He wouldn't hurt a member of my clan unprovoked.  And he won't hurt Lady Finch either," he added pointedly.  The husky grunted an apology and the sword slipped back into its scabbard.

"Clan Policy was that whenever someone killed a Being, or one of the other lesser races..."  Richard faltered under the Taun envoy's cold expression.  "They... they were supposed to cut the head off and return it to Central so that the brain could be preserved and put on display...  It wasn't my idea!" he whimpered, edging away from Jeremiah.

"What this that means that Patrick's brain should be somewhere in the Museum," Daryil finished smoothly.  "Dead, but it would allow me to summon his soul back and into an android body.  Interesting how something so psychopathic as a brain collection could actually prove beneficial, isn't it?"

Jeremiah looked struck, and nervously glanced between Daryil and Anja.  "Uh, Lord Daryil... you're not supposed to do that without a permit, a review..."

"Yeah, it would be a bit naughty," the fox said slowly.  "But supposing The Professor did it...?"

"That's a bit naughty too," Jeremiah said.  "But it would work.  I didn't see or hear anything.  And I'll trust that my Lady won't care about this minor infraction when she next sees my mind..."  

"Good," Daryil said, and then stroked the husky's cheek with a gloved hand.  "Now, how about you and me go somewhere nice and quiet?" he said.  "So we can strengthen the relationship between our two clans..."  Jeremiah backed away slightly, his expression resembling a deer caught in a pair of headlights.

"Granny wouldn't approve," Illiath commented dryly.

"Oh, but you're tempted, aren't you...?" Daryil purred, scritching the husky's ears.  "Come on, I'll kiss you better..."

"Seducing an envoy is the height of bad taste," Jakob pointed out.

"Fine," Daryil said irritably.  "You and Jerry, then!  You're both envoys, your names both start with J, it's a perfect match..."

Jakob and Jeremiah glanced at each other, ears reddening.

"I'll fight you for him," Daxxon interrupted.  Jakob covered his face with embarrassment.

"So, Jakob," Jeremiah said awkwardly, "Your boyfriend's a Demon...?"

"Not in front of my son," Jakob said, as Niall came over, glancing at the husky.

"You're the Taun envoy?"  Niall asked him, shaking hands.

"Indeed.  And you're..."

"Daryil's son.  And uh... Jakob's too.  It's a long story."

"Hi Niall, I was just trying to ship Jerry with someone," Daryil said, causing a flurry of scowls.  "What do you think?  Isn't he bish and pretty...?"

"Ummm," Niall said, gazing at the husky with a wistful expression.

"Daryil," Jakob warned.

"But he is," the fox protested.  "Even Niall thinks so and he usually prefers girls..."

Jerry's lip curled.

"Daryil, stop upsetting the envoy," Jakob said, pushing himself between the two.  He cleared his throat.  "Um, what my wise and bountiful Clan Leader is trying to say, is that you are equally attractive to both genders..."

"I'm beginning to see why Taun lost patience with Daryil, " the husky said dryly.  "All the same, I don't think I've ever had this many offers in a single diplomatic mission."

"It's Daryil's fault," Jakob said, as the fox feigned an injured expression.

"What makes you say that?" Sydney asked.

"Because it usually is," Illiath put in.

"It's true," Sheila said.  "I've read about it."

* * *

"A letter for you, my Lady," Caroline said.  "From Daryil clan."

"Has it been inspected?" the porcupine asked, her face expressionless.

"Many times, my Lady.  There are no spells, no microcircuits.  It is what it seems to be - just a card."

The tri-wing took it, removed the card from its envelope and glanced over it.

"Thank you, my child.  That will be all," she said, and the jackal left.  As soon as she was gone, Taun strode to her innermost sanctum, closed the bulkhead door and set wards upon it.  Once she was sure she was utterly alone, she read the card more thoroughly.

"Happy Birthday," it read.  "57'000 years!  Congratulations!  To Taun, From Daryil"

The tri-wing sighed, and put the card on her desk with a smile.


(Thanks for reading.)

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


Hmmmmmmm...interesting ending.

Either Daryil has a bit more history with Taun or possibly Daryil might be family. It might certainly explain how he accomplished such a feat of destroying a huge piece of another clan.

I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.