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

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

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I've checked the weather forecast Doom & Gloom for the week end.


Things aren't looking to good for Sydney.

Though one has to wonder if Joshua just walking with his once dead friend is such a good idea. If Finch's group was working on their own robots, whats the chances the might have worked out their own androids as well?
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Aw, no comments on that conversation between Daryil and Jakob :3  I was expecting at least a little controversy after Sofox' reaction to it.

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


Quote from: Tapewolf on September 09, 2012, 02:34:50 PM
Aw, no comments on that conversation between Daryil and Jakob :3  I was expecting at least a little controversy after Sofox' reaction to it.

Daddy Daryil knowing what his daughters are up too?

Somehow that paints an image of instead of Daryil waiting at the front door with a shotgun, it would have him popping out of the toilet bowel with it and repeating the same old line of taking care of his little girl.

Of coarse he'd flush himself gone only to have an arm come out of the reservoir and seal the stopper and give one last reminder to leave the seat down for her.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Quote from: joshofspam on September 09, 2012, 05:04:40 PM
Quote from: Tapewolf on September 09, 2012, 02:34:50 PM
Aw, no comments on that conversation between Daryil and Jakob :3  I was expecting at least a little controversy after Sofox' reaction to it.

Daddy Daryil knowing what his daughters are up too?

Somehow that paints an image of instead of Daryil waiting at the front door with a shotgun, it would have him popping out of the toilet bowel with it and repeating the same old line of taking care of his little girl.

Of coarse he'd flush himself gone only to have an arm come out of the reservoir and seal the stopper and give one last reminder to leave the seat down for her.
Somehow that's even more terrifying.


Quote from: joshofspam on September 09, 2012, 05:04:40 PM
Quote from: Tapewolf on September 09, 2012, 02:34:50 PM
Aw, no comments on that conversation between Daryil and Jakob :3  I was expecting at least a little controversy after Sofox' reaction to it.

Daddy Daryil knowing what his daughters are up too?

Somehow that paints an image of instead of Daryil waiting at the front door with a shotgun, it would have him popping out of the toilet bowel with it and repeating the same old line of taking care of his little girl.

Of coarse he'd flush himself gone only to have an arm come out of the reservoir and seal the stopper and give one last reminder to leave the seat down for her.

Oh god I wish I had the free time this week to draw stuff


Quote from: Merlin on September 11, 2012, 08:22:52 AM
Oh god I wish I had the free time this week to draw stuff

Heh, well his daughters are silver foxes, much like him only female.  Not that Daryil is the most manly-looking fox ever to walk Furrae anyhow.

Quote from: joshofspam on September 09, 2012, 05:04:40 PM
Daddy Daryil knowing what his daughters are up too?

Well, the "Free porn - but of your own family" thing was the bit I was most amused by when I was writing it, but yes.

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


Chapter 22

Sydney stared glumly at the walls of the cell.  He could only just make them out, the only illumination was ambient light from the adjacent corridor... his escort had thrown off the light switch in the holding area as soon as the fox was safely imprisoned.

Sydney appeared to be the only prisoner in the place, and while he was grateful that he didn't have to deal with the smell of a dungeon filled with unwashed or diseased prisoners, he was also a little frustrated - being able to talk to someone would help pass the time and at least give him some idea of who he was dealing with.  Perhaps it really was just a holding area, and prisoners were later transferred to other prisons scattered around their facility or facilities...

Or maybe they execute their prisoners, a nasty voice was saying in the back of his mind.  That would also explain why there was no-one to talk to...

Gradually Sydney became aware that it was getting lighter inside the holding area.  He glanced at the corridor... it was probably someone opening the outer door, guards come to retrieve him and take him to the dread Professor's study...

At that moment he realised it was not coming from the corridor, but behind him, inside his own cell.  A pinpoint of light had appeared on one of the walls and it was spreading.  It became a line, the line traced a rectangular arc across the wall and suddenly it opened, a doorway into a blindingly white room.

A gateway to Heaven...? he wondered, and for a moment was scared to enter in case it was, that by stepping into the portal only his soul would go through, leaving behind just a surprised-looking corpse in the mortal realm...

"Hurry up," a voice was saying, "It won't last long!  Just come through, it will be fine!  It won't hurt you!"

The fox dithered for a little longer and then plunged through the doorway.

"Thanks," he said, blinking in the light, "I have no idea what those crazies were going to do to me, but it sounded violent..." he froze as he took in the room.
Richard and Lady Finch were looking at him, faces like stone.  In front of them was a raccoon incubus in a white laboratory smock.

"Hello there, Sydney," he said kindly.  "You've already met Richard and Lady Albeth Finch.  I am Professor Fa'Rana."

* * *

"Welcome to the Arctic, ladies and gentlemen," Jakob said.  "I am Jakob Pettersohn.  Our facility here was originally intended to be a complete research campus, but that turned out to be unnecessary as we managed to solve the remaining problems earlier than expected, so much of it has been left empty.  Daryil suggested that we bring you here since it is safe and secure.  Though I must remind everyone that the restricted areas are off-limits for your own safety as the complex does include a number of industrial facilities.
"In particular I must ask that you do not annoy our security panthers.  They were informed of your status as guests, but they can still be dangerous so do not provoke them.  Now... does anyone have any questions before we continue?"

"Yes," Daniel Kamei'Sin asked, staring at Jakob, who was wearing just a pair of leather jeans.  "Why aren't you wearing a shirt?  Is there a dress code we have to follow?"

"Pants," Jakob said, "You should wear at least trousers or something like that.  Usually I'd wear a shirt too, but Daryil may often steal them," he glanced down at himself briefly.  "I would strongly recommend against going naked as it is liable to send the wrong message to my Leader."

"When will the school re-open?" Sheila asked.  Jakob looked at her with a sour expression and his headwings drooped.

"I'm not sure," he said.  "It can't re-open until the Fa'Rana troops have vacated the premises and it's been swept for traps, which may take a couple of weeks by itself.  So far, they're continuing to occupy it and have only released some of the staff they are holding.  We're not yet sure whether their promise to return the school was a flat-out deception or whether they want to be sure of something first..."

"Like whether it's really Syd they've nabbed, or an impostor?"  Mike suggested.

"Probably," Jakob told the osprey gryphon.  "That's something I'll touch on later."

"So, er, could we continue our education here, then?"  Sheila asked hopefully.  Some of the younger students scowled slightly at this.

"That's being talked about," Jakob said, "But we do have reservations about that.  You see, right from day one, Daryil has been rather concerned that people would see the school as a sinister plot of his, like it was some weird means to brainwash young, impressionable 'Cubi or to drive them into some kind of cheerful insanity.  This is why the school has always been a joint venture with other clans, and relocating the school to Daryil Clan territory may undermine this."

"So how long are we likely to be holed up here?  Could we just go home for now?" a mountain lion succubus asked.

"That's up to Professor Falkirk, I think," Jakob said.  "And/or Illiath herself, when she gets back in touch.  Personally, I think leaving would be unwise, since we have good reason to believe that the Fa'Rana clan kidnapped Sydney in the belief that he was Daryil's son."

"What?!" several voices cried, from students and staff alike.

"That's what I've heard when they tried to capture me, anyway.  It might have been a feint, but if it is true, they will soon realise their mistake and may very well come back for more.  They might even have the balls to try and capture all of you in turn, just to make sure.  Daryil's actual children are somewhere safe, but the Fa'Rana guys don't know that..."

Just then, Niall entered the room and spoke to Jakob briefly.

"Sheila Ketonia," the wolf called out, making the succubus jump.  "Would you come with Niall, here?  Lord Daryil wishes to speak with you."

* * *

"W... what do you want with me...?" Syd gibbered, as The Professor stepped closer.

"You are here because we need control over your father, Sydney," the raccoon said.  "He who must remain nameless for our own safety.  You are the last child he can possibly have, as I'm sure you know, and that makes you extremely valuable to him.  By extension, that also makes you extremely valuable to us."

"Why?" Syd asked, incredulously.  "What's he ever done to you?!  Is this some stupid vendetta?"

"Oh, nothing so trivial," The Professor laughed.  "His clan is an old rival to ours, yes, but he has recently become a major threat to us and our interests.  The work we are doing here is of supreme importance to the entire 'Cubi race, but some factions, such as... your father's clan, are opposed to us.  They seek to prevent our project from succeeding for various petty reasons of their own.
"You see, Sydney, your father is currently one of the key threats to our success, and for the good of our whole race we need to get him to back off until we have completed our research.
"You, Sydney, are the lever we will use against him.  He will not dare attack while we have you hostage and that will buy us time to finish our project, after which we can let you go again.  That's really all we want, and I'm sure he'll see reason.  If he doesn't, well... at the end of the day you're a fellow 'Cubi, so I really don't want to have to hurt you, but as a last resort... well, ultimately it's up to him."

Sydney stared at the raccoon as if he was completely insane.

"What are you talking about?" he said at last.  "I can't believe this.  My dad simply isn't that important in the grand scheme of things.  Why would anyone want to bother blackmailing D-"

"Don't say his name!" The Professor hissed, his eyes widening with horror.  "He'll hear!  The link to his children... he'll attack us and it's too soon... I'll kill you right now if that happens!"

"You're mad," Sydney said, backing away.  "All of you.  I don't have any magical link to him, I can't do!  He's a robot, for heaven's sake!"

"If I'm mad, I should be humoured... What did you just say?!"

"He died about 25 years ago!"

The Professor's expression became wild.  "Lies, that's impossible!" he snarled.  "Your so-called Lord..."
At that moment, the raccoon's eyes suddenly changed, as if shutters had gone down behind them and he glanced at the other two.  "Find it," he said, voice devoid of expression.

Lady Finch took hold of Sydney, gently but firmly.  The fox struggled slightly as she unbuttoned his trousers and her tentacles pinned his hands back.  Richard watched the performance for a few moments and then turned away, his ears turning pink with embarrassment as his fellow student was disrobed.

"It's on my leg," Sydney said sullenly as he realised what they were doing.   The she-wolf's wings fanned out as she saw his clan mark and she stepped back, her voice ringing out in a wordless cry of surprise.

"RICHARD!" Lady Finch raged, "What have you done?!  This isn't him... he's a Jyraneth!"

"Yeah," Richard said.  "Kinda.  They're breakaways allied with Daryil."

"You tool," The Professor said.  "What is it they say...?  Never work with children or animals..."

"What..?  He matched all your descriptions!"  Richard yelped.

"Do those look even slightly like Daryil's wings?!" his mother snapped.

"You didn't tell me you were trying to kidnap Daryil's son!" Richard snarled back.  "You told me to look out for a pro-Daryil fox, who didn't know he was a 'Cubi until recently, who lived by Daryil's Tenets, who was happy to go for another guy and who was brought up by a Being!  Syd is all of those things!"

Lady Finch stepped fowards and for a moment it looked as if she was about to hit Richard.  There was a small cough behind her.

"Can I go now...?" Sydney asked quietly, putting his leathers back on.  The others stared at him as if he'd suddenly appeared out of thin air.

"I'm afraid not," The raccoon sighed after a few moments.  "You know too much now, and if I understand Richard correctly, you're one of Daryil's allies anyway.
"We can't risk you contacting Him so you'll have to remain here for the time being.  But it should only be a couple of months, I think.  I do apologise for the inconvenience."

* * *

"Yes," Haley was saying as they left the bus, "For some time I was dead.  But they put my body into stasis until a couple of years ago, when they had the know-how to restore me to life."

"You mean... they made you into an android?"  Joshua asked.

"No," the malamute said, with a slight chuckle.  "In the flesh.  All they had to do was repair the damage and restart my heart.  Easy when you know how, or so I'm told."

Joshua looked impressed, but all the same a few warning lights had lit up within his mind.  Shortly after his own resurrection, the husky had been through a major mental crisis and had reacted with shock or horror to every little thing like a young incubus, but those days were past and he was able to keep his doubts safely locked away inside himself.

"It must have been quite a shock," he said.  "Did you... have you found someone else?"

Haley smiled nervously.  "I did actually, but it didn't really pan out.  How... about you...?"

"No," Joshua said.  "It... finding you dead was devastating... you wouldn't understand it if it hadn't happened to you...  I guess I never really got over it," he sighed.  "It's one of the things that pushed me deeper into my work, trying to block it all out...  I guess... I guess I had another motive, too."

"I think I understand," she said slowly, and with some concern.

"Yeah.  I figured that I didn't have anything to lose anymore... that," he swallowed, "The more dangerous the missions became, it was a dare against the world.  And that when I was finally called out... well... we'd be together again."

Haley said nothing, but a tear formed in one eye and she squeezed his hand tightly.

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


I feel sad for Josh there's a lot of warning signs saying this won't end well. Also nice fake out on Daryil's son remember to word one's orders more carefully.


A lot of warning signs, yes. But the scene is touching nonetheless.

I chuckled when I read the dress code was "pants". Makes sense, even though PF characters have been shown in their underpants so many times it's almost become a meme.
~~ Gabi a.k.a. Gliynn Starseed, APF ~~
Thanks to Silver for the yappities, and to everyone for being so great!
(12:28:12) llearch: Gabi is equal-opportunity friendly


Quote from: Gabi on September 15, 2012, 01:55:41 PM
I chuckled when I read the dress code was "pants". Makes sense, even though PF characters have been shown in their underpants so many times it's almost become a meme.

In this case he did actually mean 'trousers' rather than underpants...

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


On the road, missed my usual update time.  Have to be fast before the train arrives :3

Chapter 23

Sheila became nervous as Niall led her down the corridor, and she began to do frantic things to her hair each time they passed a window.

"Do you need to go to the bathroom?" the fox asked her, "If you really want to tidy yourself, that might be much more effective."

"And keep Him waiting...?" the Border collie squeaked.  "Not on your life!"

Niall didn't bat an eyelid.  "Calm down, it'll be fine,"  he said.  "You're not in trouble, and it's not a formal meeting.  He just wants a friendly chat with you about what's happened.  He might want to record the conversation, mind."

"I know, it's just...  Well, reading about Him and His clan in the abstract is one thing, actually meeting a Tri-wing face-to-face, I'm not sure I can!  Suppose He takes offence... He'll crush me like bug...!"

"Oh, you're thinking of that business at Mundesberg?" he chuckled.  "Dar was doing that for a very good reason... to try and make them rethink killing 'Cubi.  He doesn't go around stomping buildings flat for shits and giggles, whatever the media might think."

"Thanks," Sheila said wanly.  "I guess... I guess I know, but all the same, he's so powerful it's frightening..."

"Seriously, don't worry about it," Niall said, and held the door open for her.

"...aren't you coming...?" she swallowed.

"I'm sorry," he said apologetically.  "I've got stuff to be getting on with."


Sheila became aware of a strange sensation as she entered the high-vaulted room.  Everything seemed clearer and sharper, but although she could think clearly and precisely, it didn't help dampen the fear.  She found herself closing her eyes as she entered the door, terrified of what she might see when her eyes finally met the Lord Daryil in all his might and majesty.  When she opened them, there was nothing to see but the light fixtures on the ceiling, and one or two crates of what claimed to be toilet paper.

"Down here," a voice called out, and she lowered her gaze down the room.  Far from the titanic figure she was expecting, Daryil could have been any other 'Cubi, maybe just a little taller.  He didn't even have hip-wings.  The border collie stood there quivering and fighting the urge to turn and flee.

In a clearing surrounded by racks of boxes and crates, Daryil sat upon an unremarkable deck chair, expensive knee-length boots resting casually on the table.  He was dressed in a black leather cloak lined with fur and some expensive clothes of leather and silk, which Mayor Dickens could have recognised as being made by the same tailor as Jakob's emissary outfit.  By contrast, the chair, the table and the other items sat upon it were completely ordinary camping equipment.

"Want some tea?" he offered.  Sheila swallowed and made an elaborate curtsey.  "My Lord, it is an honour to..."

"Um," the fox said and she looked up suddenly, positively stricken.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but could we possibly skip the whole reverence thing and get to business?"  Daryil asked her.  "I mean, yeah, it was fun at first, but it's getting kind of old now."

"Yes of course, my lord, sorry, my lord..."

"Daryil," Daryil said.  "Look, if I wanted impress you with my power, I assure you I could.  But that's a rather crass way of doing things, right?  Same reason I'm usually about six foot high instead of sixty - doing that makes my children uncomfortable.  It also makes other people gibber with terror, which is a nuisance when you're trying to conduct some kind of business deal.  Though it can come in handy for dealing with assholes like the Mundesberg government," he added.
"But aside from the shock factor, being that big is terribly inconvenient for actually, well, doing things.
"I mean, when it first happened, I thought it was rather cool.  I figured we'd never have trouble changing the lights in the warehouse again," he said, pointing at the mercury vapour bulbs suspended from the high ceiling.  "It was a disaster.  Have you ever tried picking up a soap bubble with your fingers?"

"The bulbs were like that...?" Sheila quavered.

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

Sheila gave a little chuckle and then looked stricken again.

"Uh, thanks," she stammered, and while it felt like the polite thing to say, she immediately wondered what she was actually thanking him for.  Daryil gave a small wave of acknowledgement, and flicked a switch on a slightly battered electric kettle.

"If it helps, we can just sit here for a while," the fox said, pouring out two cups of tea.  "Sit, and talk.  About any old crap, just to put you at ease.  When you feel calmer, I would like to know whatever you can tell me about Sydney, if that's alright with you."


"Well, yes," Daryil said awkwardly, flicking on a small portable tape recorder.  "If you were of my clan, I would already know everything you know about him, but it won't work with members from other clans, or if they're talking to one of my projections, as I'm sure you know."

"I've read about it," Sheila said.  "But... If you don't mind me asking...?"

"Go ahead," Daryil said.  "Ask anything you like, I won't take offence."

"Don't you have some Daryil pupils at the school?"

"None enrolled this year," the Tri-wing said.  "There are members attending, naturally, but only in later years so they weren't part of the camping trip.  Professor Falkirk is of my clan of course, but he's been a little preoccupied with running the camp.  I've already spoken to him, and he did tell me... Well, he said that you were one of Sydney's closest friends."

Sheila stiffened with panic and her wings fanned out.  "What do you mean... 'were'...?"

"Oh no," Daryil said hastily, his own headwings fluffing slightly.  "I didn't mean to imply that he's dead!  I mean, while you were together, you and Richard spoke to Sydney most, right?  Richard, of course, not being available for questioning."

"Oh, right," Sheila said, and gave a nervous laugh.  "So you want my account?  And anything that he said about Richard?"

"Pretty much," the fox said.  "And actually, yes.  Perhaps you should start with Richard."

"Okay," the succubus said, gradually starting to relax.  "Where do you want me to start?"

Daryil leaned forwards conspiratorially, unable to suppress an eager grin.  "Was he hot?"

"I wouldn't know," Sheila said.  "I don't go for men."

* * *

The Doberman turned off at junction six of the F63 and followed the signs pointing to the town centre.  The helmet he was wearing had a smart visor, capable of darkening itself to varying degrees, and also of displaying maps and other information fed by a signal from the Furrae Positioning System.  For most bikers such a thing was a positive boon, especially on unfamiliar routes, but Dorcan kept his switched off for the most part as he didn't need it.

When Dorcan had first been reborn as an android, there were only two expansion cards to choose from - a mind shield and a cloaking system to conceal his wings.  Now there were many more, including a highly experimental one that gave the user very limited spellcasting powers.  There were other bonuses as well, some of which which made it almost worth dying for.

The android frame which Dorcan and the others were built from had an embedded computer system which was originally intended to run various diagnostic and support functions for their actual brain circuitry.  Niall and Ashley had been quick to realise that it could be made to do other things as well, and had given their 'children' the ability to know the time and perform calculations instantly as a proof-of-concept.

Since then, Jayhawk Cybernetics had released a large number of upgrade packages; one of their old allies, for instance, had a targeting and marksman program which gave him almost perfect aim, though fortunately he didn't need to use it very much these days.  Dorcan had - among other things - his own internal navmap system that put the one in the helmet to shame.  Just by looking at the signs he was instantly able to devise a route in his head, even though he hadn't been in this town for decades.

He parked the Nakami a block away, warded it and removing his helmet, strode past the town centre into a considerably less reputable area.  At Sanderson Street he stopped and glancing to make sure no-one was watching, turned into an alleyway.  Two other canines stood, also in riding gear.  They were watching, having sensed his approaching mind.

"Hi Mum, Dad..." he said, offering a pair of thickly-armoured gloves to them, which they shook warmly.

At the corner of the alleyway, where it led into a dense maze of passageways, a small group of youths had been huddled, discussing something.  Occasionally they glanced at the bikers.  With the approach of Dorcan, they came to some kind of agreement and one of them strode cockily up to Neremath.

"Hey mister," the feline said.  He was maybe 15 years old, and there was a chunk missing from one ear.  "This is Nix territory.  You pay a fee or you get the fuck out."

"Sod off, kid." Neremath told him.  The young cat snarled and drew out a wicked-looking flick-knife.

"Die, urchin," the husky sneered and a pair of wings exploded from his back, becoming a swarm of razor-sharp tentacles.  Their serrated edges gleamed pale silver in the dying sunlight.  The youth's knife clattered to the ground and was swept up by one of the incubus' tentacles.  Another tentacle passed across it, slicing the edge and the point off the blade as though he was peeling some kind of fruit.

By this time the kid was halfway down the alley, radiating sheer terror and filling the two living 'Cubi with a faint but definite yearning for more.  The rest of the gang was long gone.

"Kids these days," Neremath sighed, morphing his tentacles back into wings again but keeping them at the ready.  "No respect for their elders."  He shrugged, wondering whether Lady Jyraneth would have considered these youngsters to be innocent and sanctified.

"So," Dorcan said, glancing behind him to check for any listeners, "What's the news?  You wouldn't do any of this cloak-and-dagger crap if it wasn't important."

"It is," Neremath said, and glanced at Salomere.

"We came home this morning to find the smoke alarm going," she said.

"A house-fire?" Dorcan said, his headwings drooping.  His parents' house held centuries of photo albums, clan heirlooms and other priceless mementos.  Pictures of his dead brothers...

"No, no, no," Neremath interrupted, guessing his thoughts.  "All the photos and documents have been scanned electronically.  We have multiple copies, and the heirlooms are in a fire safe."

"It wasn't a serious fire," Salomere said.  "It was just the kitchen table."

"I didn't think that was terribly valuable," Dorcan said, slightly confused.  He had no idea where this conversation was leading.

"It was on special offer at FMI seventy years ago," Salomere said, "It matched the cupboards and it was such a bargain that... Look, that's not the point.  It... when we extinguished the flames, we saw the message.  Burned into the tabletop with holy fire."

Dorcan's mouth fell open.  "Bob...?" he asked.

"Yes," Neremath said.  "A message from the great god Bob.  He wants to meet you, but we can't talk about it here."  He glanced again at the adjoining alley which the children had fled into.  "Norland Park.  I'll call you this evening with the day and the coordinates.  But you'll need this."

Dorcan looked down to see his father's gauntleted hand, a camera's memory wafer laying upon his open palm.  From long experience Dorcan knew that it would contain an encryption key.

Leaving the secluded alley and walking down the street, the three of them exchanged casual news and chitchat for a while and then, after a long embrace, went about their separate ways.

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


It's rather interesting to see Daryil try to interact with others after his ascension.

In many ways, his personality gives of a harmless (if a little bit eccentric and flashy) impression of who he is. Now with his Tri-wing status, he has to try extra hard it seems to give the impression that he's easy going.

As for Bob, considering they turned down his deal, one could only wonder what he wants now.

[Fixed title, evidently I lost signal while editing the front page -TW]
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.

llearch n'n'daCorna

"I don't go for men."

Ooo, shot down in flames, there, Dariyl. :-/
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Oh sod, I forgot to update again.  It's been a rather disturbing weekend.

Chapter 24

Nick was still dressed in his tattered clothing while they sorted out a room and clothing for him.  It had not been easy for Jakob and company to deal with the sudden influx of 'Cubi all needing fresh clothes and dormitories, and Nick hadn't yet been allocated one.

Wandering around the base he came across a Being dressed in a rather expensive suit.

"Excuse me," Nick said, "Where can I find the gents?"

"Don't ask me," the llama said, "I'm new here too." he cackled slightly and Nick thought he caught a whiff of something alcoholic.  "Frederick Dickens, Mayor-in-exile of Parbury city.  What are you in for?"

"Nicholaus Worthing," the incubus said.  "And what do you mean?  I thought this place was a safe-haven... you make it sound like a prison!"

"That's what they say," the Being said, "But do you really trust them?  Daryil told me that my life was in danger and I had to go into hiding.  Now he's taken over my city!  He even healed the succubus who murdered my aide... I bet she's one of you!"

"A Jyraneth?" Nick said worriedly, and his wings fanned out in panic.  He took a few steps backwards, and so did the mayor.

"Holy gods," he said.  "You mean, you're not one of Daryil's... he's allied with Jyraneth... I should have known..."

"I didn't ask to be born one of those maniacs!"  Nick squeaked.  "They said I'd be safe from my clan here!"

"What's all this racket?"  Nigel said, rounding the corner.  He glanced from the startled incubus to the erstwhile mayor and back again.

"Mayor Dickens, stop upsetting this poor kid!" he snapped.  "He's been through quite enough!  And might I again remind you that if Daryil really wanted your city, you'd never have known about it.  If he took your place to usurp the city, he'd certainly have disposed of the real you by now."

"You say that," the llama said, hesitantly, "But..."

"We say that because it's true," Nigel said irritably.  "If you really want to play Demon Roulette with the psychopaths who had poor Arnold murdered, I'm sure that can be arranged!"

"I guess you're right," the llama said, cowed somewhat.  "But sometimes... Sometimes it all seems too convenient..."

"You'll get your office back soon," the Alsatian soothed.  "Actually, I think Daryil wants to pick your brains about something after he's spoken to Nick."

The mayor leapt backwards.  Nigel looked at the llama as if he was crazy.

"Will you please calm down?  I said 'pick', not 'pickle'.  Gods, it's a shame we don't feed on paranoia."

"Now, Nick?  For future reference, the gents are actually around the corner.  However, your room is now ready, and Daryil would like a word with you if you're up to it.  So, if you'd like to come with me...?"

* * *

Meanwhile, Nick was not the only one with new accommodation.  The Fa'Rana clan had not put Sydney back in the holding cell, but had instead furnished some empty living quarters with an old flatscreen TV set, and a selection of various books... "Confessions of a Jyraneth", a treatise on pain by Destania Cyra, Daryil's Second Book of Tenets and a miscellaneous selection of others, mostly about how the 'Cubi race is really awesome.
They had also provided a wardrobe of clothes only slightly too small for him and an en-suite shower and bathroom.  All in all, it was almost like a room in a slightly cheap hotel or perhaps a guest house - the room was, however, kept firmly locked except for when he was brought his meals.

Sydney was about halfway through a history of Piflak's clan when his ears popped.  Wondering what could possibly have caused a change in pressure like that, he looked up and saw that that a slim figure had suddenly appeared in the middle of the room, holding a device about the size of a lunchbox in two gloved hands.

"What the hell do you want?" Syd scowled.  Richard looked back at him unhappily.

"I wanted to apologise," the jackal said.  "I know it ain't much, but... they didn't tell me what they were doing.  I had no idea they wanted to kidnap you, or any of my fellow students."

"And why should I believe that?" the fox demanded.

"I don't expect you to, but it is true, one 'Cubi to another.  Heck, I shouldn't even be talking to you!  I dunno if you can forgive me, but I'd like to think that maybe one day... we might be friends again," he added hopefully.

"Friends, or bedmates?" the fox snarled.  Richard's ears turned pink, but he held his ground.

"Friends," he said firmly.  Sydney's headwings drooped and he put the book down.

"I shouldn't have said that," Syd said.  "I'm sorry I snapped.  But in all frankness... What I mean is, I have a hard time understanding why you'd want to be my friend now you're back with your clan.  Our beliefs are so very different... wouldn't you be happier among people who share them?"

Richard started and looked around quickly just in case someone else had teleported in.

"Oh yeah," Sydney said.  "Wrong clan.  Touchy subject... sorry.  But I still don't understand..."

"You were the only person I could talk to at the school," Richard said quietly.  "The others all treated me like I was a leper.  You accepted me for what I was and just put aside the things which we disagreed about.  You even came to see if I was alright after that squabble with Sheila.  No-one has ever done anything like that to me before."

Sydney swallowed.  It wasn't just what Richard had said, but the emotions he was broadcasting as well.  If the jackal was lying, he was unbelievably good at it.

* * *

Keaton Jyraneth was making her way through one of the more deserted and ornamental parts of the Munrock district shopping centre when there was a footfall behind her.  Cautiously she glanced back, but there was no-one there.  Shrugging her shoulders, she made a few quiet steps forwards and then stopped again, and turned around.  This time she saw a brief flicker of motion as someone jumped back into the shadows.

Oh hell, she thought, and quickened her pace.  Suddenly a figure jumped out from behind a tree.  Keaton gave a yelp and fled, glancing back occasionally at her pursuer.

Who the heck could it be? she wondered, picking up speed.  The person tailing her was in motorcycle gear, helmet designed for a canine skull.  The visor was reflective so it could be anyone...

Please don't let it be Sethir, she thought and made her way into the very heart of town, and with her wings hidden she blended in almost perfectly, just another black-backed jackal.  So now, if he did try to execute her or claim a bounty, he'd have to do so in a crowd, in broad daylight, in front of several Demon guards and a popular coffee shop.

Ordinarily, Keaton would be a match for anyone stupid enough to pick a fight with her, but the terms of her early release from jail included several restrictions on her powers complete with a tracking bracelet to ensure she abided by them.

The presence of security and the crowd didn't seem to faze the rider much, though he stopped running and casually drew up to the fountain she was lounging in front of.  He removed the helmet.

"Hello Keaton," the white wolf said, a grim expression on his face.  "It's time you paid your dues."  The jackal succubus gave a muffled cry and stepped backwards.

"No," she whimpered.  "You can't do this, you can't kill me!  I'm on probation!"

"Just kidding," the biker said and his face changed slighty, taking on a familiar vulpine grin.

"Daryil?!" the succubus yelped, jumping back in surprise and a little fear.  "Why the hell are you stalking me?!"

"Someone has to," Daryil said.

"Yeah, right.  You're here for a reason.  Why are you pretending to be Sethir?"

"That wasn't the plan," Daryil said.  "I was just dressed like this for fun.  And because the suit is 'Cubi-like, all shiny and snug and nice...  You know, you'd look good in this kind of gear too..." he added dreamily.
"Yeah, originally I was planning to just come up and introduce myself normally, but you were so scared I was a bounty hunter, I couldn't resist.  Sorry about that.
"Don't worry, though - Sethir won't be bothering you again."

"You killed him?"  Keaton asked eagerly.  Then her face fell as she realised that she might be next on the list.

"Of course not," Daryil said.  "But he won't bother you again unless you do something truly awful, and I don't think you're that stupid."

"Oh, so you struck a deal with him."  Keaton said, cocking her head slightly.

"Yes, your slate is clean where he's concerned," the fox said.  "But please, please try and keep things that way - he's more powerful than before and you really don't want to tangle with him.  But that's not why I'm here.  There's something we should talk about, if you're not too busy.  In private."

Keaton looked around the town centre.  One of the guards was watching idly, two patrons of the coffee shop were sipping their brew and ignoring them completely.

"Don't have much choice, right?" the jackal said at last.  "Those guards wouldn't bat an eyelid if you took me by force, would they?"

"I'm afraid not," Daryil agreed.

"Because you bribed them as well as Sethir?  Or because you're that powerful?"

"Powerful," Daryil said.  "I could drag you off kicking and screaming, and they wouldn't remember a thing.  Even the security tapes would only show us walking away... in opposite directions.
"But honestly, I'd much rather you came with me voluntarily.  It's not even like I'm trying to force you into indentured servitude or something, I just want a quick chat with you in the Jayhawk base and then you can go again if you want.  It probably won't take long."

"I'm on probation!" Keaton protested.  "You want me to teleport into the arctic?!  I'd disappear from their tracking... Shit, shit, shit... they'll never let me out again!"

"Oh, don't you worry about that," Daryil soothed.  "I've come to an agreement with your probation officer as well.  And for your information, I don't bribe people.  Raw political power and influence is far more subtle, far more effective and far more permanent.
"You see, the thing with corruption is that eventually it's uncovered and you'd have to start all over again, plus your reputation gets tainted into the bargain.  And in our world, money only gets you so far... reputation is king.
"Oh, and by the way... talking of reputation, if you do flip out and break the law while you're in my care, I will be called to account for it.  And that would make me very, very angry with you.  Got it?"

Keaton stepped back again and swallowed.

"But I digress.  At the end of the day, once someone can be bought, by definition they won't stay bought if someone else makes a higher offer.  No, alliances and favours are so much nicer, and usually more powerful."

"Okay, so long story short, I don't have any choice," Keaton sighed.  "Take me where you want, just make it quick, okay?"

"Deal," Daryil said, and looked around.  "...though, while we're here, we could have coffee and cakes.  Or maybe we could buy you some nice motorcycle leathers?" he added eagerly.

"You wish," Keaton snarled.

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

Disturbing, or disturbed?

Also: Daryil and Keaton, in a tree... ;-]

(although, knowing Daryil, he'd probably spend the time comparing the fit of various bras or something equally silly...)
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Well I have to agree with Daryil that Keaton would look good in a similar biker suit. :)

Though Keaton would probably look just as good in Hell's angels biking apparel. :3
Edit: She definitely could pull off the intimidation factor in that look.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on September 30, 2012, 09:50:47 PM
Disturbing, or disturbed?
Someone was found dead next door a few nights after a terrible commotion.  There's been a murder enquiry and the police would look at me strangely each time I left the house.

Quote(although, knowing Daryil, he'd probably spend the time comparing the fit of various bras or something equally silly...)
Probably arrange them alphabetically by make.

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

Quote from: Tapewolf on October 01, 2012, 09:09:24 AM
Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on September 30, 2012, 09:50:47 PM
Disturbing, or disturbed?
Someone was found dead next door a few nights after a terrible commotion.  There's been a murder enquiry and the police would look at me strangely each time I left the house.

Ah. A friend of mine was similarly upset about 15 years back. A police officer in the fairly small town I was living in at the time apparently tied himself to a chair, threw himself through his window, and set fire to his house to claim on the insurance (not necessarily in that order); the friend comes in as a perfect match for the identikit picture the officer made up out of the whole cloth for the perpetrator. He didn't know anything about it when he sauntered down to the corner store to buy a new pack of smokes, but the guy behind the counter looked at him strangely. Apparently he went through three or four interviews with the police before they figured out what had happened (he was perfectly straightforward about it, and wasn't leaving town or anything, had several good alibis, but the police have to cover everything. Not complaining about them doing their jobs, at all; heck, they let him shave off the villainous goatee he had at the time, when he asked if they'd mind...)

Anyway. He was a gentle sort anyway, despite being 6'4 and heavily built, and inclined to wear lots of intimidating black clothing even in the middle of summer. But I can understand your state of mind, if only from a nearby perspective...
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Another interesting fact to consider is Keaton and Sydney have a clan relation to one another.

Though I think only the Red Queen can only make use of that or maybe Daryil believes he can use that. At the very least we know the Red Queen is still lurking somewhere.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Maybe the Red Queen's title should be changed to Queen of Hearts.   


Aww, Richard/Sydney shipping gets a tease.  And Richie finally grew a proper spine!  And Keaton suffers villain decay, aww.  The story is getting interesting.  I wonder how Keaton will react to Nick, and how Nick will react to Daryil.


Posting an ACK because I like knowing when others have read something I have written, so it's only fair that I do the same for others. However, my brain is burnt out from yesterday's workshop and I still have so many things to do that I find myself unable to think of any relevant comments. Please accept my apology and know that I will keep reading as long as you keep posting.
~~ 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


Thanks to Sunblink for helping with Keaton's lines.

Chapter 25

Daryil staggered, steadying himself against the wall of the corridor just outside his office.  Keaton stared at him, puzzled and not quite sure whether to be alarmed or suspicious.  Niall happened to be heading in the other direction and rushed to his Leader's aid.

"What's the matter?" he asked frantically, and turned on the jackal succubus.  "What did you do to him, you little bitch!?"

"I didn't do anything!" Keaton snarled, glowering at Niall with a mixture of indignation and terror at what Daryil's clan would do if they thought she'd offed their Leader.

"Someone just killed me," Daryil said vaguely.  "I'll be okay... I just didn't think having my head cut off would be quite this painful."

"What are you talking about?"  Niall asked, worried that his eccentric leader had finally lost all grip on reality.  "Keaton killed you?  How?"

"Oh for gods sakes..." Keaton snapped.

"Wasn't her, it was in Parbury," Daryil said, feeling his neck with a gauntleted hand.  "They murdered my avatar, the one disguised as Dickens.  They did the tentacle thing...
"Well, maybe that will show the paranoid old coot that I'm not trying to steal his city or something. I hope he has a strong stomach, though."

"What about you, Daryil?  Are..."

"Yes.  I'm fine now," the Tri-wing said, picking himself up.  "I knew they'd do this eventually, it was just a shock, that's all... no-one's ever actually killed one of my projections before.  Perhaps I should have tried jumping off a cliff or got someone to behead me as a practice.  Anyway, you take care of the Mayor, would you?  I need to speak to Keaton."

"Actually, why is she here?"  Niall asked, eyeing the succubus with a look of suspicion, as though still convinced that she somehow shared responsibility for discomfiting his Leader.  "I mean, I'm sure you have some very good reasons, and it's probably something to do with Nick, but do you really want them together?  Isn't she a bit... evil?"

"She's evil, yes," Daryil said, dusting the knee pads on the racing suit he was still wearing from when he collected Keaton.  "But remember, evil is usually the product of someone's environment, and that's certainly the case with Keaton.
"This doesn't mean she should get a free pass to commit whatever terrible deeds she wants, but you can't rehabilitate someone without understanding what's led them down the path they've taken.
"If it hadn't been for Queen Jyraneth's mismanagement of the clan and the trauma Keaton suffered when her clan Leader's incompetence finally caught up with her, she'd have turned into a happy, well-adjusted succubus with a small museum's worth of stuffed animals.  And there's still time for that," he added, looking at Keaton.

"What do you mean, 'mismanagement'?!" the jackal demanded, hackles raising and wings fanning out.  Niall scurried away to avoid the brewing storm, but Daryil calmly stepped into his office.

* * *

Bike safely parked and warded near the entrance, Dorcan stood in an obscure corner of Norland Park and stared, open-mouthed.  There was a small crowd gathered near the copse where Bob - via Neremath - had instructed him to arrive, a small cluster of trees and bushes which appeared to be entirely surrounded by some kind of giant force barrier that lent the surrounding shrubs and grassland a sickly blue pallor.  Amongst the onlookers, park officials including an Angel and a Being with a trolley full of test equipment were stood in front of it all, examining the blue glowing dome in hopes of learning its secrets.

"No use, mate," someone told the Doberman, "Someone or something has walled off the place with this... thing."

"Gods dammit, I was going to meet someone here," Dorcan said.

"Well, good luck to you," the ranger said.  "It seems pretty solid to me.  Maybe your friend is hanging around outside the barrier somewhere?"

"I doubt it," Dorcan said, and approached the edge of the dome.  He put out a gloved hand out to touch it, but as he came close, a gap opened up as though some kind of ethereal curtain had been parted just for him.  "Holy shit..."

Cautiously, the biker went through the entrance, which abruptly sealed up behind him as he passed through, causing the ranger to face-plant into it.

"Sorry," Dorcan said, glancing back, and then realised that he couldn't hear the others gathered outside.

"Over here," a voice called out.  Dorcan gulped and strode into the thicket.

"Morning," said a small translucent figure, a pine-marten with thick glasses, bat-like head-wings and particularly scruffy hair.  "Nice gear," he added.

"Uh, thanks.  How's things going, your holiness?" Dorcan said, struggling for words.  He knelt, but that only succeeded in drawing his head level with Bob's.

"Not too bad," Bob said.  "And just 'Bob' will be fine.  Hell, you can address me as 'shithead' if it makes you feel more comfortable."

"Uh, yes, my lord.  I'm sorry I'm late," Dorcan said, head bowed.

"I know, the traffic on the F63 was murder," Bob said.  "Doesn't matter."

"You can predict the future?" Dorcan asked, astonished.

"Not very well, no.  But I saw you caught up in the snarl.  For a minute I was thinking of parting the traffic for you like the Vandermayer Seas, but it would be a bit conspicuous."

"Um," Dorcan said, gesturing uncertainly in the direction of the force barrier.

"Oh, yeah.  Like it?"

"It's very nice," the Doberman said, "But I thought... this was supposed to be a secret meeting?  And inconspicuous?  I mean... there's a whole load of people out there studying the barrier and stuff..."

"Yeah, I know.  I guess I made it a little bit too big," the mustelid said.  "Never mind, let them wonder about it.  They won't be able to hear us and anyway, an inexplicable miracle or two will do them good."

"My parents said you wanted to speak to me," Dorcan said carefully, trying to bring Bob back to the matter at hand without somehow offending him.

"Yeah," the shimmering incubus said.  "Listen carefully."

* * *

"You're talking about The Lady!" Keaton snarled.  "She bested Zalantare in single combat!  Her clan ruled the Northern Ridge for sixteen thousand years!  You call that 'mismanagement'!?"

Daryil paused for a moment, taking off the motorcycle gauntlets and boots, and considering the best way to change out of the body suit without disturbing his guest too much.  When he finally spoke, he sounded a little tired and more serious than she had ever seen him before.

"Keaton, Keaton," he began, "Please try and look at it with some sense of perspective.  You grew up in a decaying city big enough to support at least fifty times its actual population.  Your clan's numbers had dropped off sharply and since you weren't permitted to mate outside your own clan or race, the gene pool was... well, to put it politely, stagnant."

The succubus just glowered back.

"The birth rate had dropped well below the attrition rate from your stupid little raids," Daryil went on.  "So low, in fact, that you and your sister were considered a minor miracle - and all this was a direct result of your Leader's broken policies.  If she had only displayed enough wit to open up to the outside world instead of constantly lashing out at it, your clan would have been a wonder of the 'Cubi race!
"Instead, she destroyed any dissenters and that is why your clan fell.  It's been proven throughout history that clans with a totalitarian leader always break down and the most amazing thing is that she kept it going as long as she did.
"Even if the Kamei'Sin hadn't attacked, your clan would have had a revolution by now anyway because the whole thing was falling apart from the inside.
"Listen, Keaton... I'm not trying to be mean about this, but please, just look at it logically.  Can you honestly say that any of Jyraneth's major policies were a good idea?"

"They kept us out of the Dragon Wars," Keaton retorted.

"I'll give you that," Daryil conceded, "But it was about the only real success she had, and remaining closed afterwards was a fatal mistake.  Frankly, you'd probably have been killed in a raid by now.  Do you really believe that her orders were divine commandments?  Would you really have been happy to sacrifice your own life just to wipe out a handful of Beings?
"And for the record, killing Zalantare was probably Jyraneth's crowning moment of stupid, since his lover went completely apeshit and ultimately murdered practically your entire clan simply to get his trapped soul back.  And for what?   How can you not call that 'mismanagement'?"

Furious, Keaton opened her mouth, closed it again and stared at the floor for a few seconds.  "I guess you're right," she said sullenly, lip curling.  "Lesson learned.  Are you done shitting on my clan's memory?  Can I go now?"

"You can go if you want," Daryil said, "But I wanted your help."

"Help?" Keaton yelled, "Sure you did...!  You only brought me here because you wanted to kick me around!"

Daryil's expression soured, and the succubus took a step or two back, heart pounding like a steamhammer.  Oh shit, oh shit... I crossed the line!

"Keaton," Daryil said at last, "This may come as a shock to you and I'm not sure you'll believe me anyway... but I do actually care about your wellbeing.  You're practically an orphan, and you've had a horrific time during that period of your life when most other 'Cubi would have been safely nurtured inside SAIA or some similar institution.
"If you could only settle down and choose a more peaceful way of life like most 'Cubi do in the end, it would please me greatly.  Heck, even adventuring would allow you to channel your dangerous energies in a more beneficial manner.  But if you keep on randomly murdering Beings or otherwise annoying them, you'll just get yourself killed and that would be a shocking waste of talent and potential."

The jackal looked up at Daryil, a picture of surprise.  She felt a lump in her throat and her eyes began to sting slightly.  Blinking for a few moments, she shook herself and stared back at Daryil, levelly.

"You're more powerful than I can easily imagine," she said slowly.  "What sort of help could I give you anyway?"

"Well, it's kind of like this," Daryil said.  "I've recently bought a house in Grunmore and I'm having a bit of trouble with my delphiniums."

"Delphiniums?!  Do I look like a gardener?"

"My dear, this is Grunmore we're talking about.  A gardener in Grunmore needs to have your considerable skill and experience in combat and self-defence.  'Cubi mental powers are a distinct bonus.  You'd be ideal for it, particularly as I heard you studied botany in prison."

Keaton grunted.  "What do you really want?" she asked.

"Oh yeah.  Actually I wanted to tap your expertise on Jyraneth Clan," Daryil said.  "On the Lady Herself, in fact."

Keaton's wings fanned out.  "W-what do you want to know?"

"Later.  But before we get that that, I want you to meet someone."

"Who?"  Keaton demanded nervously.

"One of my Children has come across a young incubus, and I would say that you are closely related.  He's of your clan, you see."

He handed the succubus a small portrait shot... Keaton's heart leapt as she saw the youth.

"T-take me to him," she said, hands trembling as she clutched at the print.

"In a minute, when you're calmer... I don't want you to spook the guy, he's only young.  In the meantime, I can show you the garden, if you're interested in a steady job.  That would score quite a few points with your probation officer, wouldn't it?"

"Yes," the jackal nodded.  Her eyes narrowed slightly as she caught her breath.  "What's the catch?"

"Good girl," Daryil said, flashing a slightly devious grin and putting the boots back on again.  "Well, there's the usual stuff like not murdering people, all the stuff covered by your probation already.  But no, there is one other thing... Never, ever try to enter the house itself, since it's filled to the roof with ten millimetre nylon washers."

"That's fair," Keaton said, and closed her eyes for a few moments, steadying herself emotionally.  Daryil waited patiently until the succubus opened her eyes again.

"Okay," she said, "The trick with delphiniums is that they like plenty of..."

* * *

"So," Haley said, looking at Joshua earnestly.  "I... I don't quite know how to put this, but... well, we could start over," she said.  "If you want... Go back to where we left off..."

Joshua's face was contorted for a moment.  At last he opened his eyes again.

"My last mission," he said, "When you heard I was dead, it wasn't far from the truth.  It's left me changed, I don't know how much good I'd be for you now..."

"What are you saying, Josh?" the malamute said, eyes widening.

"I... I'll never be able to have kids.  I'm... I'm not really a Being anymore."

"You mentioned androids," Haley said.  "They made you into one?"

"Yeah," Josh admitted, head bowed.  "I was dead.  So, you see... I don't know how much that means to you, but I'll never be the same again.  So I don't know... how much that's likely to affect... things between us," he swallowed.
"A lot of water has flowed under that bridge.  They always say that you can never go back to how things were..."

"Oh," Haley said, "But you can."

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


llearch n'n'daCorna

Washers? Exsqueeze me? the hell you want ten million nylon washers for? Other than filling an otherwise obscure house in Grunmore, that is...

And yes, ominous thunder grumbles overhead.
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


I think you have answered your own question: the sound of all those washers working together would be much like ominous thunder, wouldn't it?

Other than that... I could say money laundry, but that's not the right way to do it. Not that there is a right way. :P
~~ 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 26

"Oh shit," Mayor Dickens said, staring at the screen as the two succubi dumped the corpse unceremoniously behind the desk, followed swiftly by what appeared to be his own head.  One of them pointed at it, asking a question.  The audio came through muffled and the only words Dickens could make out were 'brain museum'.

"So, does that mean you owe me an apology?"  Daryil asked the mayor sweetly.  The llama just looked back at him uncomfortably.

"I guess... I'm sorry," he began, but Daryil interrupted him.

"That's okay.  Now the more important question is what we do about it.  It's taken a lot of effort to stop the body reverting back to my form or turning to dust or whatever dead avatars do.  I could bring it back to life, but the jig would be well and truly up.  And it is a problem... if we stop them, their masters will know.  If we don't... well, fuck knows what they'll do now they're in charge of Parbury, but it won't be anything good."

"Could we put some kind of block on them?" the Mayor asked.  "Prevent them from doing anything harmful, but give them free reign otherwise?"

"...and make them believe they've already done the evil stuff?" Daryil said.  "That would only be a holding pattern, but it's a nice idea.  Eventually the Fa'Rana clan would figure it out in the end."

"Could they report to us?" Mayor Dickens pondered.  "To clarify their instructions?"

"Yeah," Daryil said excitedly.  "Let's do that."  He tapped something out on the screen and it changed slightly, the light and positioning jumping as it cut to show the live feed instead of the recording.  A moment later, Daryil vanished.
The Mayor balked as the fox appeared on the screen, holding his severed head under one arm.  The two 'Cubi turned in horror as the apparition approached them, stuck his head back on and then did something which the llama couldn't quite make out.  The next thing he knew, Daryil was standing over their bodies.  He grabbed one roughly, told them something in a forceful manner, before dropping them unconscious back to the ground.
Satisfied, the fox repeated the process on the other 'Cubi before finally vanishing to reappear by the mayor's side.

"They will report to me for clarification whenever they are ordered to do something that would harm others," Daryil said.  "That way, I'll be able to vet their orders first.  I'll keep you in the loop as well."

"Thank you, my lord," the llama said, bowing.  "Won't they know?"

"Nah, I gave them both post-hypnotic suggestions.  They won't remember a thing.  Now, tell me, Mr. Mayor, have you ever considered joining Daryil clan...?"

* * *

Dorcan stared expectantly at the pine marten, gaze only briefly wavering slightly to the forcefield and back to the shimmering figure once again.

"Right," Bob said, polishing his glasses.  "The message is in the form of a poem."

"Any particular reason, your shith... uh, your Bobness?" Dorcan stammered, stumbling horribly over the honorific and cringing as he waited for the thunderbolt to strike.

"'Your Bobness,'" the mustelid said, stroking his chin.  "I like that.  Nice one.  For the record, I'd have accepted 'Your shithead' too, actually.  See, sticks and stones can't break my bones because I'm ethereal and words don't hurt me either because I don't care what mortals think.  If I did, I'd look a bit less nerdy, right?
"Anyway, I usually intervene in the form of poetry because I move in mysterious ways.  It often helps people remember my hints, and I figure that's what I'm supposed to do, anyway.  But what do I know?  20'000 years and I still haven't quite got the hang of it."

"Anyway, the poem," Bob said, clearing his throat for effect.

Seek for the sword that has been destroyed
When they work out the truth they'll become quite annoyed
For the sword they destroyed ain't the sword that you seek,
But the sword that was forged at the end of last week
And the sword that was lost is a foul thing indeed
Which is why it was smashed as the king had decreed
For the sword has been cursed with a terrible power
Not the life, but the soul will the cursed blade devour
So beware when you find what the noble ones hate
Lest it cast you aside and erase you from fate.

"What...?"  Dorcan said, staring at the shimmering figure.

"Do you need to hear it again?" Bob asked.  "'Cause I have it written down somewhere if you want."

"But I don't understand... what sword?  What are you talking about?"

"Oh shit," Bob said, and his head-wings fanned out.  "That wasn't for you, that was for someone else.  Don't tell anyone, okay?"

"How can you make a mistake like that?" Dorcan squawked.  "I thought you were supposed to be a god!"

"Look around you," Bob said.  "You call this dog-eat-dog world perfect?  I've seen the Dragon Wars... nasty shit like that goes on all the time, just not as widespread for the most part, it's just a sort of background noise.  Furrae itself has clearly had more than a few mistakes made by whoever or whatever designed it, and they're far, far more powerful than I am."

"True," Dorcan said.  "I apologise."

"Well, it's my fault, really," Bob said.  "I just hope I can remember who was looking for that sword.  Nevermind, I think I wrote that down too.  I hope so... if it takes more than a week I'll have to change the verse structure again.  Anyway... the message.  I'm not sure I can be bothered to put it into rhyme and anyway I kind of like you, so I'll give it to you straight.  It's about your son, Sydney."

"What about him?" Dorcan asked cautiously.  "He should be safe at Illiath's, right?  Besides, most places a 'Cubi can go around openly and without fear of reprisals."

"Ah, but Illiath's was attacked," Bob said.  "I thought you knew, it's been the headline news on Furrae Today and all of the 'Cubi-run TV channels."

"I've been travelling," Dorcan said.  "But... wait!  How do you know...?  You can demodulate TV signals by pure thought...?"

"Yes.  But it's such a pain in the arse.  Why should I bother doing that when I can have my worshippers sacrifice a TV set to me, or when I could steal one myself from the supermarket in a halo of light and a heavenly choir?  I'm a god, not some kind of luddite."

"Quickly," Dorcan said, "About Sydney... is he safe...?"

"Oh, right.  Yeah, he's being held prisoner," Bob said.  "Clan Fa'Rana have him, and while he's safe at the moment, that might not last."

"What are they going to do to him?" the Doberman whimpered.

"Right now, nothing.  They were trying to use him as a hostage - believing he was Daryil's son - and they've only recently learned of their mistake.  Soon they may wonder if they can use Sydney in the same way as Daryil's son, since he's of a clan allied with Daryil.  It would certainly have some advantages and be less risky to them."

* * *

"I wonder..." The Professor said slowly, "If this Sydney's father is truly an android now, he can have no more children.  Perhaps... Could we use Sydney in the same way as Daryil's son?  Since he is of a clan allied with Daryil..."

"It would certainly have some advantages," Lady Finch mused.  "And it would be less risky to us."

"For example, Daryil wouldn't hunt us down one by one and mount our severed heads on the wall, like he would if something did happen to his own son,"  The Professor said.  "I never did like that idea.  Turning him against Daryil, however..."

"That may indeed be a better plan," Lady Finch said.  "Though remember we only needed to threaten our hostage - killing him would be a last resort, and a last resort only.  In any case, quite how Daryil is going to react when he discovers we've taken over Parbury is going to be dangerous enough..."  At that moment a wall-screen lit up.

"Professor," a feline incubus said.  "Forgive my intrusion, but... you'll love this!"

"What is it, Johan?" The Professor asked.  "If it's another knock-knock joke..."

"No, no!" Johan said excitedly.  "We've found him!  Daryil's son!"

"Are you sure...?" the raccoon said slowly, head-wings fanning out.  "We can't afford another mistake... suppose he's a Taun or something?  We cannot risk alienating any other clans..."

"We used the 'Cubi Registry, did a search by DNA parameters, grouped by probability!"  The eager cat's face was replaced by a screenful of data and charts.

"Are you shitting me?"  The Professor exclaimed.  "The 'Cubi Registry only accepts global search requests from Tri-winged Leaders or by means of a warrant.  Casual enquiries are only open to 'Cubi and are restricted to their own clan... otherwise we would have done this to begin with.  How could you possibly bypass that?"

"Possession," Johan said.  "A charmed bracelet to keep one of their employees under our spell until they had fetched the result for us.  They will remember nothing."

"Well done," The Professor said.   "Very well done indeed!"

"If we can really get hold of Daryil's true son, we will no longer need Sydney," Lady Finch said.

* * *

"What do you mean?" Josh said, confused and struck with sudden doubt.  "I'm an android.  How can things possibly go back to the way they were before I died?  Are you suggesting some kind of time travel?"

"There is a way," Haley said, stroking Josh's hair gently as she spoke.  "All we have to do is find someone who looks like you.  Another male Husky Being about your age."

"And then what?" Josh said sceptically, folding his arms and wondering whether Haley's near-death experience had somehow unhinged her.  "And that's assuming you can find an exact match, which I doubt?"  I don't like where this is heading, he added mentally.

"Well, then I can rip out his soul, convert it into energy and transfer your soul into the empty husk," Haley smiled.  "Presto, good as new!"

Josh's face became an expressionless mask.  Inwardly he was staggered, horror flooding through him.  It can't be real, he thought wildly.  It can't... she can't... this is just a nightmare...

He pinched himself, claws digging hard into his trousers, a desperate attempt to wake himself...

"Are you alright...?" Haley was asking, her face a picture of concern.  Josh shook himself, marshalling his thoughts and emotions and stared back at the malamute calmly, studying her features dispassionately as if seeing her for the first time.

"I don't know who the hell you are, but you're not Haley," he said slowly.  "She really is dead and you're just a succubus trying to fool me.  Well, I'm sorry, but it didn't work.  You must have known I'd suspect."

"Oh, poor Josh," the malamute said sadly, and a pair of leathery wings appeared on the back of her head.  "You've got it all wrong.  I really am the Haley you knew and loved all those years ago.  I don't know where you got your mind shield from, but it's a good one.  Everything I know about you is what I remember from before..."

"It was all a lie, wasn't it?  You never really loved me at all."

"Oh honey, don't be like that," Haley said, head-wings drooping.  "Of course I did!"

"'Cubi are masters of deception," Joshua said.  "How I can ever be sure of anything you say?"

"I did love you, Josh," she said again, with a sad smile.  "I loved you too much, that's why I had to leave you... it was interfering with my work.  Besides, you were only a Being at the time, doomed to grow old and feeble and ugly while I remain young and beautiful.  But now, though... now you're almost one of us... and if we can get you into a new body, you can be!"

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


Poor Josh I feel sorry for him it seems the husky can not catch a break.


Seems like Bob actually came through without asking for a sacrifice this time. Strange and interesting turn around from the last time we saw him and interesting how his last words match up with what the others are saying.

Changing Josh into a cubi?

This is a lot of effort to see Josh again and letting him in on her plans up to this point. I'm guessing this is another one of the projects that Clan Fa'Rana is working on.

Though I do have other suspensions of her coming back into her life. I'm just not sure about them though.
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