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

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

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Chapter 32

Illiath awoke to find herself lying in a small prison cell.  Well, she thought, At least I have woken up.  Enough of my kind have been stunned and ended up with their heads lopped off or their throats cut while they were unconscious.

Her sword was missing, and they had replaced her armour with a plain shirt and trousers, which stood to reason.  Around her wrists were a pair of bracers, leeching at her powers and preventing her from properly studying her prison.  Illiath stared at them for a moment, closed her eyes and began rerouting the lines of force that ebbed and flowed around her wrists like some kind of ethereal spaghetti.  There was a bright flare as the spell crashed, and her wings reappeared.  That'll teach 'em to skimp on the restraints, she thought.

Without delay the Doberman studied the bars and bricks of her cell - the door itself was warded and alarmed as she had suspected, but the rest of it wasn't.  Stupid! she thought to herself.
The bars seemed the best approach, so Illiath morphed her wings and began to gently bend them out of shape.  Just as the bars were starting to come loose, she became aware of a bright light behind her.  Some kind of portal.  How cute!

With a shrug, Illiath concealed her backwings and turned to face the gate.  The succubus cautiously entered, shielding her eyes from the bright light, her posture, face and emotions radiating a kind of scared bewilderment that she didn't really feel.
Two people stood waiting, a wolf succubus and a raccoon, also 'Cubi.  Instinctively she sized the pair up and headed towards the raccoon.

Professor Fa'Rana smiled in a friendly way as the cowering dog approached, and held out one hand as if to help her up.  As she came closer, he opened his mouth to say something.  Instead there was a sharp crack as the Doberman punched the side of his head, and he collapsed unconscious to the ground, oblivious even to Lady Finch's screams for assistance.  Illiath punched her too, carved a double-crescent mark into The Professor's forehead, and finally kicked down the door for good measure before storming out of the room.

Now this is what it's like to be alive, she thought, a savage grin spreading across her face.

* * *

"Well Richard," Daryil said, his arms folded and his face expressionless, "We meet at last."

"How do you know about me...?" Richard quailed.  "What are you going to do to me...?"

"That depends on you, Richard," Daryil said impassively, adjusting his black travelling cloak again.

"How much do you know about me...?"

"I know everything," Daryil told him.  "I know your whole life, I know every time you found someone attractive, your whole sex life.  I know even things you don't remember consciously yourself."

"How!?" the jackal whimpered.

"You know that little symbol thing on your wrist?"  Daryil said, "That represents me.  As you stand here in my admittedly kind of awesome presence, I know everything you've ever done, Richard.  And I must say, I'm very proud of you."

"What?!" the jackal croaked, gawking at his Leader, wings fluffed out.

"Just kidding," Daryil said.  "Actually I'm kind of disappointed, but we both knew that already, right?  Frankly, given your upbringing you haven't done too badly.  I mean, sure, you're a murderous little oik who's broken the Second Tenet more than a dozen times, but I can't really fault you for taking your parents' teachings to heart.
"You're still very young, Richard, even for a Being.  There's plenty of time to soften you, for you to grow into someone I actually can be proud of, or at least find a less harmful way to burn off your aggressive energies like Cass does."

"But-" Richard started,

"He didn't," Daryil said.  Richard blinked foolishly.

"You mean-"

"Well, yes.  Your link to me is very much alive."

"But that..."  Richard fluffed out in terror.

"Nah," Daryil said.  "I'm not going to hurt him."

"Please stop reading my mind like that," Richard begged.

"Oh, all right," Daryil said.  "But yeah.  Your father didn't succeed in blocking his link to me.  Or yours.  But I'm easy... if he really wants to ally himself with dangerous crazies like The Professor, that's his prerogative.
"See, I figure he'll probably see the error of his ways sooner or later, and come back into my family.  He will be required to do penance for his crimes, after which it will all be forgiven.  But at the end of the day, he's perfectly free to leave my clan if that's what he really wants to do.  The same goes for you too, by the way."

"You... you wouldn't kill him?"

"Not unless he starts murdering fellow clan members, no.  It's always better to redeem than to punish," the Tri-wing said.

"Thank you, my Lord," Richard said quietly, looking up at Daryil earnestly for the first time.

"I'm not a monster," Daryil replied simply.

* * *

Lying sleek upon his bed, with the bracers jamming his powers and hiding his wings, Professor Idris James still had that indefinable something that gave him the look of a disguised incubus.  Following his incarceration, the wildcat had given up on maintaining the official uniform for members of staff, discarding his top to reveal a lean and attractive torso.  Now, if only there was someone else here to practice with.  It's so hard to plan seduction classes on your own...

He looked up with a happy grin as the intruder entered.  My prayers have been answered!

"Oh damn, it's you again." he said irritably.  "Still no deal.  And where's your fine friend?"

"Oh, you mean my clan leader?" Lady Finch said, curling her lip cruelly.  There was a bruise on the side of her head.  "The Professor is indisposed at the moment.  In fact, I'll level with you... he doesn't even know I'm here!"

"Ah!" James said brightly.  "So you've decided to torture me now?  This should be fun!  Just don't expect to get any decent results."

"We'll see about that," Finch purred confidently.  "But before I begin, just tell me one simple little thing and I'll go easier on you.  Who else do you think is being held prisoner alongside you?"

"You mean you don't know?" the wildcat sneered.

"Ah, but I want to find out how much you know.  You see, if you won't cooperate, then I'll torture your fellow staff in front of you.  And if you prove particularly stubborn, I can force you to watch while they're executed," she smiled sweetly, and made a looping gesture with one of her wing-tentacles as if she was using them to remove someone's head.

"Illiath?" James said, blinking.  "Is that you...?"

Lady Finch scowled and became blue in the face for a moment, showing a flash of her true colouring.

"You weren't supposed to realise that," she snapped, dropping back to Illiath's voice.  "But dammit, yes.  How did you know?"

"You overdid the whole psycho thing.  Finch may be nuts and she may have anger control issues, but she clearly didn't go around killing people as a hobby," he said, wrinkling his nose in disgust.

"I did that for a living, dammit!"  Illiath snarled angrily, giving in to one of her emotional affinities.  "I'm a Taun, not some high-school dropout with a sword!  Granny expects us all to serve as mercenaries or adventurers to give us combat experience.  And for your information, I've killed people in honest self-defence, but I never once killed a target unless I was sure they were guilty, sure that they had a proven track record of killings and they refused to surrender!  Now, do you want to be rescued or not...?"

"I'm sorry, headmistress," James said quietly.

"Yeah, I know, you come from a pacifist clan," the succubus sighed.  "Now tell me, any idea who else is being held prisoner?"

"I'm not sure.  I saw Neve go down, though... she should be here, probably Stephens as well.  I think Shreve got away, though."

"Yes, I sent Shreve after Falkirk and Jevex.  I hope they're all safe..." she said, and looked uncharacteristically worried for a moment.

"Headmistress," the wildcat said, "Assuming we find the others, how are we going to get out of here?  Where are we, even?"

"I don't know," Illiath said, switching back to Lady Finch's voice.  "I'm hoping to find out where we are and how to get out of here first, and then rescue the others then.  Having a group of us wandering lost around the complex will increase the risk of detection."

"Do you have a warp-aci?" the professor asked.

"Lord Daryil always said they were for little girls," Illiath said.  "Taun did as well.  So I never saw much point once I was old enough to actually summon one.  I suppose it's peer pressure to some extent, but still... it's hard to do a covert operation to bring in a fugitive when you have this little glowing thing floating about and constantly demanding ice-cream."

"We could really do with one now," the wildcat said.  "We should probably have had a few to act as messengers on campus, like they do at SAIA..."

"Are you questioning my judgement...?" the succubus asked haughtily.  James took a step back, convinced for a moment he really was talking to Lady Finch.  Then wondering whether he might be safer off with Lady Finch if the headmistress was pissed at him.

"Uh... no," he stammered, "I didn't mean..."

"Well I have been," she sighed.  "But yes, the school didn't really seem large enough to merit them.  If there still is a school after this fiasco, it's one of the first things I'll change.  If nothing else, it will give us better evacuation facilities.
"Now, we'd better get going.  I can probably deactivate those bracers, but you'll have to keep your wings hidden and keep wearing them.  We'll pretend it's a prisoner transfer or something."

"I've decided to cooperate, but you're not quite convinced," James said.

"Works for me," the wolf succubus said, and began to neutralise her colleague's restraints.

* * *

"So, I was wondering," one of Daryil's avatars was asking, "Whether you have any idea what Jyraneth actually did when she disappeared."

Keaton gave a shrug.  It could have been far more insolent than it was, but she was still rather shaken by the idea of her Leader making a comeback.  It's all very well cherishing her beliefs and my old clan, she thought, But fuck, Jyraneth scares me.

Once upon a time, when Keaton had been in her early teens, she and her sister Lianna had enchanted their favourite marble, a simple spell that made it return to the person who had last thrown it.  Proud of their work, they had showed it off to some of their friends, and word of it had spread around to other youths in their city.  A day or so later, the marble went missing.

By means of the enchantment, Lianna discovered that it had been stolen by an older boy, and desperate to retrieve it, Keaton had borrowed a large and wickedly sharp knife from her father's smithy.  Her threats to gut the thief like a Being quickly convinced him to return his prize, and the knife was duly returned to its place with their father none the wiser.

Not too long afterwards, a number of 'Cubi turned up at their door, cloaked entirely in black, their faces hidden.  Queen Jyraneth's secret police.

The Judicators took Salem away with them, fighting to maintain his calm in the face of the terror he felt.  She would never forget that moment just as he left, turning to look at them both with a sad smile, and the words "Keaton, Lianna... if... If I don't come back, I want you to remember that I loved you both."

Jyraneth's doctrine was that children were considered to be innocent and pure, and slaying a child was a crime that would cost the perpetrator their very soul.  For one child to threaten another's life in that manner could only mean that her parents had corrupted her with some baleful influence that defied the Red Queen's will.  Keaton's mother had once been a Judicator herself, so the fault must have been Salem's.
Had Keaton actually harmed the bully, it could easily have robbed them of her loving father's existence.  When he had finally returned, pale and shaking, he had told his childen, gently but firmly, that they must never, ever, ever threaten to harm another child again, and promptly collapsed into the nearest chair, head cupped in his hands.

Keaton and Lianna had gone to their rooms in tears, and even now, so many centuries later, the fear of Jyraneth and the Lady's justice sent an icy chill down her spine as she remembered what had nearly happened that day.

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



Quote from: Merlin on November 23, 2012, 09:21:59 PM
It's true; Illiath is the best

She certainly has been fun to write.  I should find something new for her to do since she's been a bit quiet in the chapters I'm currently writing.

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


If you missed chapter 32, go back and read it, otherwise the Illiath business won't make sense :3
This chapter should answer a few of llearch's questions from before.

Chapter 33

"Keaton...?" Daryil said and reached towards her face, patting one of her cheeks.

"Whuz!?" the jackal said, panicking and looking around in case Jyraneth was there...

"Are you alright?  You spazzed out for a while there."  Daryil looked worried.

"Sorry... I was thinking about something..."

"Jyraneth, yeah, I figured.  Look, I'll shield you from her sight, just temporarily," he said, and his hands began to glow slightly.  Keaton felt a pressure somewhere in the back of her mind easing up very slightly.

"I don't really know what happened when she disappeared," she said slowly, sufficiently wrapped up in her own fear that she forgot to be awkward.  "The Kamei'Sin never found her, or they'd have destroyed her too.  She must have dug herself some kind of bunker and hid there."

"Supposing she did," Daryil mused.  "She'd have warded it, right?  Made it so that only her children could get in..."

"That really worked well for the city itself," Keaton snarled.  "But yeah, I guess she would.  Holy shit... you think..."

"Someone dug her up?"  Daryil said.  "It's possible."

* * *

"Lady Finch," James said, after a while, as they went through the corridors, "You're one of the toughest people I know.  How did you end up here?"

"Oh, I was invited by a mare," the succubus replied casually.  "It was such a good offer, I really couldn't refuse."

"Ah, Sophie?  Or Trixie?"

"She didn't say," Illiath shrugged.  "Oh!  In here," she added, as if she'd just walked past the door she meant to enter.  "I hope," she muttered as an afterthought, and began picking the lock.  Professor James obscured her actions from view, searching through his pockets as if looking for something, but no-one disturbed them and in any case, Illiath taught the breaking-and-entering classes herself and the lock proved little match for her.

Walking inside, the succubus gave a muted gasp and radiated happiness as they switched on the lights in the armoury. 
"Come to mummy," she said eagerly, spotting her own armour neatly folded on a shelf.  "Hmm, no sign of my sword, though.  See if you can find it while I change."

"Must we?" the incubus asked, plaintively.

"I'm a skilled warrior," Illiath grumbled, losing her Lady Finch appearance and voice.  "I can use a broadsword for a lot more than just killing someone.  Besides, it's mine and I want it back.  You might also look for some protection yourself."

The wildcat hurried away, returning a few minutes later.  "I couldn't find yours," he said, once Illiath was comfortable in her armour again.  "But there is this, if it helps.  There's also a few stun gems.  Couldn't find any body armour that would fit, though."

"Hmm," the Doberman said, taking the broadsword and weighing it.  "Yes, I think it will do for now.  You might want to stand back."  James did.

So saying, she adopted a fighting stance, hefting the weapon and practicing, getting a feel for the blade and its balance.  Professor James shielded his eyes in horror as she did a vicious side-swipe at neck height, and turned away.

"I doubt I'll need to do that," she said, picking up his emotions.  "But it's best to be prepared for anything."  She jumped in the air, using one of her wings for extra thrust, and the other to block a sword strike from some imaginary foe.  Professor James watched quietly, as if deeply preoccupied about something.

"Illiath," he said eventually, and the succubus turned for a second, slightly surprised at the use of her first name and the soft manner in which he'd uttered it.  "It's something I've never... well, I guess I never really had the courage to ask before, but... well, what does Daryil think about your career as a warrior?"

"Granny would say 'Who cares what Daryil thinks?'," she replied, turning her attention back to her exercises.  "And yeah, you'd think it would be awkward.  And sometimes it has been painful, having parents from two clans with such different goals and beliefs.  Whatever Granny may think of him, I like Daryil and I do my best to accommodate his and my Dad's wishes.  I mean, urgh... can you imagine Taun hosting a Yule party...?  No thanks."

"I hope I'm not prying too much," the wildcat said hastily.

"Nah, it's not something I keep a secret.  And yeah, I like Daryil a lot.  But at the end of the day I was born into Taun's clan, not his, so my loyalty is to her first and foremost.  Dad knew what he was getting into, having a child with someone from a warrior clan.  He knew that Taun would expect me to have warrior training, as did Daryil himself."

"Did Daryil ever try to prevent that?  I mean, killing people is against his Tenets, isn't it?"

"If you want to protect people by becoming a guard or a sword-for-hire, go ahead but please be very careful about who you kill," she quoted, twisting suddenly in a manner that would have killed or seriously injured multiple enemies had she been cornered.

"The Tenets are decrees against soul-stealing and murder," she continued.  "Killing per se is acceptable in the right circumstances, same as in most jurisdictions.  Self-defence, a licensed operative bringing in a rampaging Creature or gunman, things like that.  You don't get a free pass, but they'll usually clear you after the investigation.  That's all above board.
"But going on a rampage, or if I'd decided I wanted to be an executioner when I grew up...?  Oh yeah, Daryil would be pissed about that!  And I don't think Granny would like it much either," she added.  "Flagrant abuse of any sort is not permitted, be it abuse of the mind, body or soul."

"I was kind of wondering whether it was Daryil's influence that drove you to become a headteacher," Professor James queried.  "Whether it was the Daryil side of your family that pushed you to to take a less bloody career..?"

"A bit," Illiath admitted.  "But at the end of the day, it was my own decision.  I'll be honest, adventuring and mercenary work was getting dull, and that's the worst of all worlds.  It's still liable to get you killed, even more so if you stop paying attention and it doesn't even have the thrill to make up for it.
"So no, I didn't take much persuading, and Daryil was thrilled when I told him I wanted to quit and start a new school.  Granny was less enthusiastic, even less so when she found out who was supporting it.
"But don't get me wrong, I haven't given it up completely.  Granny would never forgive me if I let myself get rusty.  We're kind of like her army and she wants us combat ready at all times... you may have noticed that occasionally I leave the school for a few weeks a year?  Some of that's training - the rest is adventuring missions with my old group."

"You know," she added, with a grin, "It's all very well for you to bitch that I'm some kind of cold-blooded killer, but at least a warrior is an honest job, Mr. Professor-of-Seduction.  'Cubi have far too much of a bad rep for deception and evil plots.  Sometimes I wonder why Daryil wanted it in the curriculum at all."

"Now wait a minute," the wildcat growled.  "I teach my pupils to use their skills responsibly!  It's a seduction class, not rape..."

"A pulling class," Illiath smirked.  "Now how about-"

"How about you put the sword on the ground?" a new voice said.  "And don't make any sudden moves.  Ursula and Vera here can be very dangerous, as you both should know very well."

* * *

"I'm so glad you're back, Sydney," Sheila said, her tail swishing gently behind her as she led the fox down the corridor, Nick trailing behind.  "You don't know how much I've missed you.  Richard as well..."

"Even though he caused this mess?" Sydney asked, raising an eyebrow but still smiling.

"Daryil seemed to be relaxed about it all," Sheila said.  "If he's easy with Richard being back here, I don't see why we should give him a hard time over it.  What do you think of the complex so far, anyway?"

"It's kind of sparse," Sydney said.

"Yeah, well, there were only about a dozen people on-site before we came here."

"I need to use the bathroom," Nick said, and wandered off.  Syd leaned against the wall, waiting, but Sheila didn't seem to be able to relax.  Syd knew that it was rude to pry upon the thoughts or emotions of others nearby, but he couldn't help noticing that she was somehow on edge.

"Sydney," the Border said suddenly, "I wouldn't usually ask this... but I... I was wondering..."

Sydney glanced around at his friend, and his eyebrow raise slightly as she was clearly having some kind of internal struggle.  "Take your time," he said.

"I was wondering... would you like to go to bed with me...?"

* * *

"Very well," Illiath said, raising one hand, and slowly placing the sword on the ground with the other.  "I don't need a sword to deal with the likes of you anyway," she added, as the wolf incubus came up to her and kicked it away.

"Don't be a fool," he snarled.  "My androids are watching.  Fa'Rana Clan doesn't want violence against other 'Cubi, even our enemies - but they'll protect me with lethal force if you make them.  Would you want to take that risk?"

"Ooh, look over there!"  Professor James said, pointing at something in fascination.

"You must think I'm an idiot," the wolf spat, disgustedly.  Behind him, the two robot mares followed James' gaze, and there was a sharp crack from beside Illiath.

"Oh shit, are you okay?" she said, reaching down to examine the fallen wolf, her eyes wide with surprise and pity.  "He banged his head," she told the two mares, who watched impassively.

"We must now take you prisoner by ourselves," they said in perfect unison, stepping forward slowly.  "Please do not struggle or you may be harmed."

"Please don't do that," Illiath said quickly, and the robots hesitated for a moment.

"You are not authorised to countermand our orders," they said, and the next thing Illiath knew, her arms were pinned behind her back.  The succubus shapeshifted, taking on Lady Finch's face once more.

"I command you to release us, back away and then destroy yourselves," the succubus barked.

"Self-destruction requires a priority override code," the two mares replied, but released their captives and moved away a couple of steps as ordered.

"Accept priority override Alpha," James added helpfully, but it didn't work.  Illiath-Finch smiled, an evil light entering her eyes and making the professor quail.

"Ursula, Vera... I order you to destroy each other," she commanded, and the two horses quivered, collapsing to the ground with their central processors skewered by each other's retractile blades.

"They really are fast," Illiath said, looking impressed.  "Alright, that's enough fun for now.  Let's get out of here before laughing boy wakes up."  So saying, she scooped up the plundered broadsword with a wing-tentacle and dragged James along with her as he stared, open-mouthed at the two destroyed robots.

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


Illiath is very impressive.

Also to have dual lineage with Taun and Daryil is an interesting fact.

Though the possibility that someone has uncovered the Red Queen's hiding place is a terrifying prospect to think about. I suppose you could use a Tri-Wing for many things, including another cubi using the soul for an ascension. But their also something that seems to take either Fae or a dragon to beat. Maybe another Tri-wing would be able to beat one too. If someone has found the Red Queen, let's hope they're close to a hospital.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.

llearch n'n'daCorna

Quote from: Tapewolf on November 30, 2012, 04:09:31 PM
This chapter should answer a few of llearch's questions from before.

Erm... Looking back (4 pages or so, to August 20) I can only see two questions, and one of those wasn't really a question, it was more on the order of a thought experiment.

The question was "what does Daryil want with ten million nylon washers?"

The thought experiment was about authentication - even the correct authentication code, as shown here, is open to security issues, as you have to _say_ it to them - and that means anyone else around can hear it, so you have an open door policy there to start with. I presume that was what you were talking about - and the loopholes in the design.

I should point out, I'm not _complaining_ about any such loopholes. I'm just saying, the guys building the furrae-form machines (I can't call them androids, because that's already been taken by the soul-gem machines that various of your characters are using; I'm trying to be clear between the two, when I'm comparing them; and "anthropomorphic" is loaded, in this particular community, with all sorts of other meanings...) have a serious problem on their hands, and I'm pretty sure they haven't managed to resolve the issues. At best, they've compromised various parts, and that's going to turn around and bite them.

And I'm going to be amused to see how - for example, the flaw here when you have two of them. Or three - takes more setup, but the same basic flaw is present. "When I say to go, I want machine 1 to destroy machine 2, machine 2 to destroy machine 3, and machine 3 to destroy machine 1. Go." Splat.

On a totally different subject, would you object to me collating the various chapters of this story into an epub or a pdf or something? I'm thinking something I can drop into my ereader, but I figure others might be interested in it as well, hence asking.
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on December 01, 2012, 06:34:04 AM
Erm... Looking back (4 pages or so, to August 20) I can only see two questions, and one of those wasn't really a question, it was more on the order of a thought experiment.

Yes, I was too tired to look up the precise wording.  And yes, it was the fun with the authentication business.  At the time it was discussed I had already written these chapters...

QuoteAnd I'm going to be amused to see how - for example, the flaw here when you have two of them. Or three - takes more setup, but the same basic flaw is present. "When I say to go, I want machine 1 to destroy machine 2, machine 2 to destroy machine 3, and machine 3 to destroy machine 1. Go." Splat.

Well, next chapter they have a bit of a problem because they encounter a lone unit.

QuoteOn a totally different subject, would you object to me collating the various chapters of this story into an epub or a pdf or something? I'm thinking something I can drop into my ereader, but I figure others might be interested in it as well, hence asking.

That would be cool, it's something I'm trying to do myself.  I had a version which I took with me to AC - I was able to annotate it on the Kindle.

I have a shell script which converts the raw chapters into HTML, but converting that into PDF is a bit more awkward.  I ended up using LibreOffice, haven't yet worked out a way to do that automatically.

If you want I can make available the collated text/htm versions, though note that they may change slightly in future (this morning I had to fix a problem with one of the android-mare names, fortunately those chapters are still unpublished) and also note that the current 'collection' runs to up to ch.42 (41 and 42 have not yet been proof-read and will likely change).

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


Chapter 34

"It's possible that someone or something has caused Jyraneth to wake, or whatever has happened," Daryil said, glancing back at Keaton.
"But to investigate... well, I'll need to know where the Hidden Valley actually is," the fox concluded.  "Would you be kind enough to clue me in on that?"

"I'll want something in return," Keaton said, pleased with the fact that she held some kind of bargaining power over the Tri-wing.

"Your sister?"  Daryil said.  "Getting into SAIA... that won't be easy.  Fa'Lina may not be running it anymore, but it's still warded against me.  I could probably break the wards, but it would be very, very rude."

Keaton faltered.  "I... I didn't mean that.  But you... you have contacts with the Kamei'Sin.  If anyone can find out, it must be you..."

Daryil put his head in his hands.  "Oh no.  Oh no no no.  Keaton, please don't go there.  Don't ask me about Noah.  You don't want to know what happened to your brother."

"But I have to know!" she snapped.  "He's my brother... he's of my clan!  The Kamei'Sin tortured him to learn where the Hidden Valley was themselves!  Don't you understand how important this is to me!?"

Daryil winced.  "I understand more than you do, Keaton, and I don't mean that in a nasty way.  You're still upset about Nick," he reminded her.  "And how disappointed you were that he doesn't act like a Jyraneth member of your youth should.  What you're asking for now... that will be much worse.  Trust me, you'll be happier not knowing."

"You can't know that!" the succubus retorted.

"Please... remember Nick.  Remember what I was saying yesterday.  The clan you knew is dead and gone.  You've lived an evil life, Keaton, but no-one deserves to lose their family the way you did.  In some ways I think of you as an adopted clan member."

"You're fucking kidding," Keaton said, wrinkling her muzzle in disgust.   

"Yeah, I know, it's irrational," Daryil said, his ears blushing where the fur was thinnest.  "I feel a bit stupid saying that at all.  But it's true, and I'm trying to explain why I've taken an interest in your wellbeing, and why I'm doing what I hope is best for you in the long run, even if it doesn't seem like it now."

"Hypothetically," the Tri-wing continued, "And purely as an intellectual exercise, let's imagine your brother is alive and well, but the reason you've never heard from him is because he despises you and never wants to see you ever again..."  Keaton opened her mouth to say something and Daryil gestured for silence.  Her mouth closed again and she just stared back at him, concentrated essence of pissed-off jackal.

"Look, I said this was hypothetical," Daryil reminded her quickly.  "But if it was true, would you be happier knowing about it, or would it be kinder to let you carry on believing he was dead?   If he was alive but changed that much... doesn't that mean that the old Noah you knew from your childhood is dead anyway, in a sense...?"

"But I have to know!" the jackal whined desperately.  "I just need to know... did he suffer?  Did his soul make it through to the afterworlds?  That's a simple enough question, isn't it!?"

"No, it's not," Daryil.  "If it was I'd have told you as gently as I could.  This... might be worse.  The Kamei'Sin may not have wanted to tell me how to get to the Valley, but they were pretty forthcoming about the rest of your history.
"You see, when he was captured, Noah was beaten and tortured cruelly.  Once they had roughed him up enough, he was promised a swift and painless death if he cooperated, or that his soul would be destroyed if he refused.  I think you know most of that, of course.  But the thing is, once he'd told them the secret of entering Harla'Keth's hidden valley, the Kamei'Sin decided not keep their promise."

"They... they did destroy him after all!?"  Keaton's eyes widened, and tears began to well in them.  "Oh gods... oh no..."

"No no," Daryil said quickly.  "They were so pleased that they changed their minds and let him live.  And after they had crushed the Jyraneth, they needed a way to keep him on a leash, and they found one.  But you won't like it, trust me on this.  He's alive and well, Katherine.  But he's changed.  I've already told you more than I should have done."

"You're just trying to stop me looking for him," the jackal snarled.

"Yes," Daryil said simply.

"I knew it!"  Keaton sneered triumphantly, placing her hands on her hips.  "So how much of what you've said is actually true...?"

"All of it.  Don't you understand?"  Daryil was starting to look frustrated, desperate even.  "I want to stop you looking for Noah because you're not ready for it yet.  If you went rampaging after him right now, you would royally fuck things up in ways you can barely imagine.
"You could very easily end up getting him killed, getting killed by him or making yourselves lifelong enemies.  Do you want that to happen...?  I am trying to prevent it, and you are not helping."  Daryil's voice hardened and he stared directly at Keaton with an intensity she'd never seen before.  She quailed slightly, suddenly remembering what Daryil was and how dangerous he could be if angered.

"Listen to me, Katherine.  If you truly love your brother, if you really want to see him again, you must first lay aside your vendetta with the Kamei'Sin.  I don't expect you to love them, but understand that Noah has been living with them for a long, long time.  You will need their co-operation to find him."

"But they..."

"Are you familiar with... Sergenholt Syndrome?" Daryil asked.  "Where someone kidnapped by ne'er-do-wells and held against their will can eventually bond with them, become part of their group and sympathise with their views...?"

Keaton just stared at him, aghast.

"I'm sorry, Katherine.  I was trying to break this to you gently, I swear."

The yellow jackal barely noticed as Daryil gently sat her down in a cushioned chair.  He just sat with her for a few minutes, and when he was sure she'd be okay, left her alone to come to terms with it as best she could.

* * *

Sydney looked at Sheila with surprise, his wings fanning out very slightly for a moment.  "Um," he said, looking at the succubus nervously.  "I didn't think you went in for... well, guys."

"As a rule, no," the border sighed, taking off her business suit and revealing the seductress outfit that she usually sported beneath it.  "But sometimes... Sometimes losing something or someone makes you realise that you didn't appreciate them before, right...?"

"What about Nick?" Syd said, alarmed.

"Oh, he's not my type," Sheila replied.

"That's not what I mean!  He'll be back any minute... do you really want him to see this?"

"We're 'Cubi students," Sheila said, with a nervous smile.  "This sort of thing happens with us all the time!  He'll get over it."

"Okay, Sheila," Sydney began, and then stopped, closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he tried to figure out what to say and how to put it.

"Okay," he began again, "Don't get me wrong on this.  I mean... I like you, I like you a lot... and yeah, I got jealous when you went off with other people, but...
"Well, I'm not quite sure I want our relationship to go in this direction.  I mean, it's too soon... and anyway... you might not be thinking clearly, right?"

There was a burst of surprise from behind them, making Syd jump.  Syd turned, to see Nick looking embarrassed.

"Shit, I'm sorry," he said.  "I can come back in fifteen minutes or so if you want..."

"No," Sheila said, "You stay, we'd better finish the tour.  And Sydney... I'm proud of you.  Most guys would be all over me, but you stood your ground.  And yet you were trying to be nice about it."

"So, uh, shall we show him the dormitories?"  Nick asked, awkwardly.

"Yeah, we'd better do that," the succubus said, putting her jacket back on.  "But Sydney," she added quietly, turning to the fox, "If you do change you mind, don't be afraid to let me know..."

* * *

"Aw shit," Illiath muttered, as another mare headed towards them with a smoothness and grace that betrayed her artificial nature.  Fortunately Illiath was disguised as Lady Finch, or things would likely have turned ugly.  Instead, the robot came smoothly to a halt before her, with one hand outstretched.

"I am ordered to arrest the intruder, my Lady," the android said.

"Professor James is now in my care," Illiath said haughtily, perfectly mimicking Lady Finch's voice and mannerisms.  "There is no need to carry out your mission now."

"Then I must accompany him," the android said.

"What is your name?"  Illiath demanded.

"Wendy," the mare replied.

"Wendy, I order you to destroy yourself."

"Self-destruction requires a priority override code," the mare said.

"Then I order you to tell me a valid priority override code," Illiath-Finch said.

"I do not know.  I can only validate given codes."

"Damn," James said.  "They thought of that one.  Can't we just tell it to sit in a corner or something?"

"Wendy, I order you to render yourself harmless," the succubus instructed.

"I do not understand," the mare replied.

"Destroy your internal weapons.  Make yourself safe."

"Self-destruction requires a priority override code," the mare insisted.

"I only need you to destroy part of yourself," Illiath wheedled.

"Self-destruction requires a priority override code," the mare replied yet again.

"Come on, we're wasting time!"  James whispered.

"No, we can't risk it telling them where we went," Illiath said.  "Wendy!  I command you to stand exactly where you are.  Stand completely still and do not move until you are told otherwise.  This order takes priority."

"We'll have to do this the other way," she muttered, taking out her broadsword and reverting to base form.  Bracing herself, she swung the blade around in an arc above her head, building up the momentum and suddenly bringing the last foot of the sword home against the mare's neck.  The body jerked once as her head came off, sailing through the air and bouncing off the wall.  The corpse tumbled upon the ground and lay there, the tail quivering slightly.

Professor James was staring at the robot on the floor, his eyes wide and his face utterly still like a deer caught in headlights.  His mouth was open slightly and he didn't seem to be moving at all.  Oh shit, Illiath thought.  Looks like that struck a nerve with him.

Illiath looked at him pityingly, her face uncharacteristically concerned.  "It was just a robot," she said gently.  "Not really alive, it had no mind or soul... it's just a hollow object."

"You... you've done that to people," Professor James said, pushing her hand away as it was offered.

"I won't deny it," Illiath quietly.  "And I know... it's not nice.  And I know too, that it's one thing to talk about it and another to see it happening, even to an automaton.  But I promise, I didn't do that to anyone who didn't have it coming."

"Please, James," she entreated, "We can talk about this later.  We have to get out of here!"

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


Do the androids have anti-paradox machines? all I would have said "Attempt self destruct and if it requires a code then repeat attempt self destruct until it no longer requires a code" and then say "the previous command has priority over all others"

(credit: Gabi)


Quote from: Ignuus66 on December 07, 2012, 07:45:59 PM
Do the androids have anti-paradox machines? all I would have said "Attempt self destruct and if it requires a code then repeat attempt self destruct until it no longer requires a code" and then say "the previous command has priority over all others"

I think they probably have some failsafe against that.  Illiath told Wendy that her order took priority, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it did.  For instance, it probably took priority over previous orders, but newer orders could take priority over it.

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

See, if it was me? The central processor would be in the chest. Easier to protect it there.

Which means that beheading a robot merely pisses it off. "Identified: you are an intruder. Alerting the base." or equivalent.

I'll admit that's harder to write around, though. ;-]
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Chapter 35

Once he was satisfied that Keaton was reasonably okay, Daryil went back to his sanctum and sent a note to Nigel, asking him to check on her and make sure the jackal didn't run amok in her grief.  He was about to discorporate his avatar when the private link rang.

"Callahan?" he asked.  The jackal looked kind of flustered.

"Got to make this quick, Milord.  There was some kind of commotion.  Apparently they kidnapped someone and it went wrong.  The captive kicked the shit out of Professor Fa'Rana and then went on a rampage.  The Prof is still comatose, but last I heard Finch was stirring."

"Who was the kidnap victim?"  Daryil said, his expression wide-eyed, and nervous.  "If it's one of mine, I'll... damn!  I was hoping we might be able to broker some kind of peace agreement with the Fa'Rana clan, but this would really throw that pie out the window."

"I didn't catch the name," the jackal said.  "But I think... well, The Professor had a chunk cut out of his forehead from what I saw.  It was all bandaged up, but you could see the shape of the cut in the bandage where it was bleeding.  It looked a hell of a lot like Taun's clan mark."

"Illiath," Daryil muttered.  "Gods... The Professor must be even more spaced out than I thought if he's trying to piss Taun off."

"They seemed to think she was your daughter.  I think they thought she knew where you're keeping Rich-  Oh shit, I'd better go," Callahan said.

"Wait!  My offer to relieve you is still open."

"I can't!" the jackal said desperately.  "If I leave now, they'll suspect me for sure!"

"I'm sure I can sort something out," Daryil said.  "But if you have to go, go.  Just... take care, okay?  I need you, and your son does too."

Daryil watched the screen go blank as Callahan nodded and cut the link.  Almost immediately another call came in, this time an internal one.

"Daryil?" the Alsatian hound queried.  "Were you on a call?  I was trying to get through... this is kind of urgent."

"So was mine," Daryil countered.  "But what's yours about?  Oh gods... it's not Keaton, is it?"

"No, she's fine.  But I had to delegate that to someone else," Nigel informed him.  "See, Joshua's arrived.  With an old friend of his.  You'd best come soon, we need to decide what to do with her."

* * *

The first thing Haley saw when she came around was Daryil, Niall, Nigel and Joshua arguing over her fate.  She tried to speak, tried to move, but they'd drugged her or cursed her somehow, and she could only watch helplessly from the couch in which she lay.

"Look, she's coming around," Josh said, and went over to check her.

"I'm sorry about the restraints," he said, "And about having to bring you here.  But really, you should be grateful... Marlbury would have had your head off by now if you were caught there."

"I don't usually say this," Daryil said slowly, "But in her case... Well, maybe she should meet her fate in Marlbury.  I'm sorry, Josh, that you brought her all the way here only to have to take her back again..."

Niall started at Daryil, appalled.  "You can't do that!" he wailed, "I've spent nearly two centuries of my life trying to save 'Cubi from execution!  Just because she's a Fa'Rana... What's she done to deserve being guillotined?!"

"How about mass-murder?" Daryil suggested.  "I mean look, Niall... she murdered Josh's childhood crush and took her place.  Okay, fair's fair... 'Cubi often do things in the heat of the moment which they then regret and not all of us know how to cope properly in the aftermath.  Something like this might have been a crime of passion that she handled badly in the panic afterwards...
"But Haley didn't stop there.  She went on to help perpetrate the deaths of everyone in the police headquarters in Marlbury, hung around outside to check the massacre was going to plan, Josh says that she mentioned murdering other people and taking their place.  And she was fully intending to eat someone's soul in order to provide Josh with a new body," Daryil said testily.  "And then, after all these things she tried to murder him when he confronted her about the massacre.  And all of that... well, those are only the ones we know about."

Niall looked like he was about to throw up.  "I... abstain," he choked and left the room.

Nigel stood in the background, leaning against the wall and watching the proceedings darkly.  "She's cruel and dangerous.  I think she should stand trial," he said, lip curling slightly.

"I don't know," Josh said desperately, as Daryil turned all his attention to him.  "She was my girlfriend, for a while she really did love me.  That's all past now, but I don't know that I want to see her die, especially not like that... and besides it was almost certainly Professor Fa'Rana and Lady Finch who actually organised the massacre..."

"Fine," Daryil said, and turned to glance down at Haley, his expression not exactly bursting with warmth.  "It's your lucky day," he told her.  "You're going to stay here for now.  If you keep your muzzle clean, I'll make sure you get a fair trial in Fairwater and maybe some kind of plea bargain if you're really good.
"But let's get one thing crystal clear - if you step out of line in any way, I'll ship you straight to the Marlbury Department of Justice with enchanted restraints around your arms and a pretty blue ribbon around your waist.  Oh, and Haley...?  If that happens, you won't be needing a return ticket.  Understand?"

The malamute nodded feebly, still too weak to speak or move.

"Good.  We've prepared a couple of secure rooms for... unruly guests.  It's not fancy, but I'm sure you'll find it comfortable.  Security!" he barked suddenly, and a couple of black panthers appeared a few moments later, their feral bodies polished and shining, eyes glowing red, fangs and claws sharp as razors.

"Yes, Lord Daryil?" one of them asked politely, forelegs stencilled with the designation E-ZRA.  Haley stared at them, amazed.  Warrior robots! she thought.

"Yes," Daryil said to her, gesturing at the panther to wait a moment.  "They guard the base.  A highly controlled technology, and infinitely smarter than your master's creations, if Josh's report is anything to go by.  Please don't upset them or we'd have to ship you to Marlbury in a couple of buckets."  Daryil looked at her critically for a moment.  "Well, four buckets.  Maybe we could fit you into three, depends how finely-chopped.  What do you think?" he added, turning back to one of the robots.

"Um," EZRA said.  "Four buckets to be safe, I'd say."

"You're right," Daryil murmured.  "Having some left over would be... unpleasant.
"Anyway!  This young lady is Haley Fa'Rana," he continued, gesturing at the canine succubus.  "She's evil and dangerous, so guard her well.  I'd much prefer to keep her alive as a bargaining chip, but if she tries to escape or turns violent, you have my permission to kill her." he paused, glancing at Haley to make sure she'd heard.  She had.

"And if she does anything suspicious, inform Nigel or myself at once.  In case of immediate danger, you may use lethal force if necessary."

"Will do," EZRA said, and tilted his head slightly.  "Uh, about that... you were kidding about the buckets, right?  I mean, it makes disposal easier 'cause she'd fit down the sink, but still... You don't really want her all blended up into paste, do you?"

"Well, I'd much prefer to keep her alive," Daryil said, headwings drooping slightly.  "But if she does have to die, I want the remains to be identifiable, okay?  We'd have to release her corpse to the Marlbury authorities, so try to keep it intact if you can."

"Yes, Dar," the panther said.  Nigel's headwings fanned out and he glanced sharply between EZRA and his Clan Leader with a puzzled expression.

"'Daryil,'" the fox corrected, "We'll get some very odd rumours going around if you keep calling me that."

"Sorry, Lord Daryil," the robot said, a note of embarrassment entering his voice and posture.

"Do you want regular reports, Milord?" the other panther asked.

"Not for me, but Nigel might," Daryil said, gesturing to the Alsatian hound.  "Work something out with him."

So saying, he touched the succubus' head gently, a spell seeping through her and replenishing some of her strength.

"You'll still be weak for a bit," he said.  "Should be fine in half an hour, though.  And Haley...?"

"Yes...?" she croaked.

"You're grounded.  No internet for a week."

* * *

Professor James stumbled along as if in a trance, Illiath in front, leading him along.  They had encountered two more horse androids since, and they had both met the same fate as Wendy.  The severed head of 'Yvonne' was now tied to Illiath's belt by the hair.  She glanced down at it guiltily.  Dammit, the Doberman thought, that can't be helping Idris get over the whole decapitation thing.  But uncle is going to need to see this.

"James," she called softly.  "Wait here."

So saying, she morphed one of her wings, tried to pick the lock, but failed.  Sod it, the Doberman thought, and cut through the door with her wing-tentacles.

"Okay, James," she told the feline, as if addressing a frightened child.  "That seems to be the exit.  Come along now..."

Inside was an elevator, and a few moments later, they found themselves in the cellar of what appeared to be a dusty council house.  Thinking quickly, the succubus picked up a stool left lying nearby and jammed the lift door open to prevent it going back down, and then checked her phone, bringing up a map of the area.

Grunmore...  She thought.  Where the hell's that?!  Oh, wait... Uncle has some kind of presence here.  What was it...?   A coffee shop?

Glancing sharply around, she turned to face the wildcat.  "James...?  How are you feeling...?"

"You didn't just behead her," the incubus said, his expression blazing with fury and venom.  "You took the head with you as a fucking prize!  Just like my family!"

"Oh gods," Illiath moaned.  "James, can we deal with this later?"

"Oh that's right... brush it under the carpet, you..."

"It's not like that, dammit!  These things are dangerous!  We need to get one of the heads to someone who can study it and find out more about them!"

"I don't care about the robot, it's how you treat people that I have issues with!  You'd be perfectly happy to drag one of your victim's heads around too, just like that!  You said so yourself!  Look how easily you did it!  You've done this before!  How does that make you any different to the bastards who murdered my parents in front of me!?"

"I'm a Taun!" Illiath snarled.  "We're the guardians of the 'Cubi race, not murderers!  We have a code of conduct and mine is stricter than most, coming from a Daryil parent!  I've done regrettable things, but wanton murder is not among them!"

"You mean you don't regret-"  Professor James said, and was silenced by a blow from the headmistress as she slapped his muzzle.

"Idris," she said fiercely, staring back at the wildcat with a fiendish intensity.  "Things have improved massively in the last two centuries, but we still live in a cruel, violent world.  These kind of things still happen.  But understand this - I am not a Demon.  If I have to kill someone, there's always a bloody good reason for it.
"You are entitled to your opinions," she said coldly, "And I will overlook this little spat with regard to your teaching position.  But I will NOT let you endanger both our lives while we're stuck in fucking enemy territory!  Do you understand?  You had better get your act together right now and concentrate on escaping or I will leave you behind.  Is that clear?"

"Yes, headmistress," the wildcat spat, staring back at her with ill-concealed loathing.

"Good.  We can argue morality afterwards, if we survive.  There's a... coffee shop or something down the road.  It's called Arnold's.  We'll try to-"

"Hands up!" someone yelled, jumping around the corner and covering them both with a small handgun.

"I hope you're bloody satisfied," Illiath snarled, raising her hands.  Professor James began to sob quietly.

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


Seems like some of the Panthers might be getting a little more chummy then others with Daryil.

Well when you give them the ability to think personalities of all kinds are bound to appear.

I wonder how all of the A.I.'s there will react if Illiath manages to bring a head back?
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Quote from: joshofspam on December 15, 2012, 08:47:59 PM
Seems like some of the Panthers might be getting a little more chummy then others with Daryil.
Well when you give them the ability to think personalities of all kinds are bound to appear.

Fortunately not in the way Nigel was thinking.  That would be... bad.

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


Posting early since tomorrow will be disrupted.

Chapter 36

"So, Richard," Daryil said, "To sum up, I don't want to push you into properly joining my clan, that's a decision for you and you alone.  You and your father are welcome to join us if you wish.  I draw the line at your mother, however - unless she choses to defect for some reason.
"If you fear that she or Professor Fa'Rana may think of you as a traitor, you are of course welcome to stay under my protection indefinitely, so long as you obey my Tenets while you are here.
   "If you would prefer to return to your parents, that's more difficult, but well, I'm sure I can find a way to parley with them, and I can return you at that point.  I don't expect you to come to a decision immediately, either."

Daryil paused for a moment and glanced at the young jackal.  "Do you have any questions?" he finished.

"No, sir," Richard said politely.

"Very well.  Feel free to ask me about it if you do," he said, and stared at the doors for a few moments.  Then Daryil waved his hand and the doors opened of their own accord, just as Sydney, Nick and Sheila appeared around the corner, jumping slightly at the sudden movement.

"Excellent timing, if I do say so myself," Daryil said.

"You paged for us, Lord Daryil...?" Sheila asked, with a faint bow.

"Yeah," the fox said, "Richard and I are done for now.  Could you show him to his room?"


"So, Richard," Sheila said, as they led the white jackal on a similar tour to the one Sydney had just been given, "What did you think of Daryil?"

"I'm not sure," Richard admitted.  "He seems nice enough, and so far he ain't been anything like the stories I was told by my clan, but, well.... I dunno how much of it is an act.
"And my own clan... what'll they do when they find I've been hanging out with him!?"  Richard looked scared again.

"They sent you to a school that's half run by him, what can they expect?" Sheila shrugged.  "Besides, Daryil will be able to make it look like you were held against your will or something."

"Yeah," Sydney said.  "I'm sure he can cover for you if you need it, or 'take you hostage'..." his headwings drooped slightly, and Sheila glanced at him.

"Something the matter?" the Border asked.

"Not really... well..." the fox sighed.  "You've had a one-to-one with Daryil, and now Richard has too... it feels like I'm the only person he hasn't taken an interest in."

"That's not true!" Sheila said, headwings fluffing slightly.  "Half of the first talk we had was all about you!"

"You're kidding!" Sydney said, his own wings fanning out.

"No.  Daryil knows your family well.  He takes a keen interest in the Jyraneth clan, though I have no idea why.  I'm surprised he hasn't asked to see Nick yet."

"He did," the yellow jackal said shyly.  "But we didn't say much...  I think it was one of his avatars.  I was still a bit scared, maybe he was going easy on me..."

"What... well, what's he like...?" Sydney asked suddenly.  "I mean, what impression did he leave you with?"

"He wasn't what I expected," Richard admitted.  "I don't know... I guess... I was afraid that he'd kill me for betraying him... and my Dad...  But he doesn't even seem to care.  My... my other clan... I've been told tales of how he couldn't take anything seriously, how he'd do anything to amuse himself, no matter who got hurt and how he ate Lady Ti'Nera's soul on a whim..." the jackal looked around hastily.  "Perhaps he's just toying with me..."

"He lost it when Lady Ti'Nera murdered his boyfriend," Sheila said.  "I think that kind of reaction is to be expected if you wound him in that manner.  And yes, before you arrived, Daryil took me aside, he wanted to know about Sydney and about you, Richard.  I was still a bit scared then, I thought he might want to punish you.  But he doesn't.  He thinks of you as a potential ally, as a way to help smooth things out with Fa'Rana and his clan..."

"That would explain a lot," Richard said, but there was still some doubt in his eyes.

"I was scared of him at first," Sheila said.  "And make no mistake, he could be terrible if he was angry.  But for me... he knew I was scared, he tried his best to calm me down.  I think that we're seeing him on his best behaviour because he knows we're not used to him.  But he asked if you were hot... there were a few more things like that.  I think he let his guard down, and that was what he's usually like.  But I don't mind."

"He was very friendly," Nick said.  "He was saying that I couldn't help which clan I was born into, that he'd make sure my parents know I'm safe and that they're protected, he'd and do his best to protect me from my Leader.  He offered to let me join the school and said that he knows some ex-Jyraneth who would be able to help me..."

"That'll be my clan," Sydney pointed out.

"So yeah," Sheila said, "I'm sure he'll want a word with you at some point.  Don't feel left out."

"You make it sound like a bigger deal than it was," Sydney shrugged.  "What did he talk to you about, Richard?"

"Well, we discussed... well, my father and me, and our options for rejoining Daryil Clan if we wanna.  I'm not sure yet," he said, looking around.  "I mean if Dad is committed and Mom is committed, I can't really leave them, right?  But he said I'm welcome to go back to the Fa'Rana clan if I want.
"And the rest of it was about whether I wanna continue studying at Illiath's school."

"And do you?" Sheila asked.

"Yes," Richard said decisively.  "You guys have stuck up for me, despite my... differences.  I want to carry on studying here.  It's just... I'm not sure my mom will."

* * *

Illiath stared at their assailant, an ibex.  His hands were shaking and the gun wavered in his grasp.  "Professor Stephens...?" she asked, incredulously.

"Oh shit," the incubus said.  "I-I'm sorry..."

"That's quite alright," Illiath said.  "Now put the gun down, okay...?"

Hesitantly the ibex did so.  "That's better," Illiath said, and punched him under the chin before he could react.  Professor James uttered a very feline hissing sound, his face livid.

"Is that your answer to everything?!" he shrieked.  "What the fuck was that for?!"

"Would you prefer I decapitated them?" Illiath asked quizzically.

"That's not the point!  He was one of your own staff... oh gods... how could you..."

He cut off suddenly, as Illiath rolled the fallen incubus over with a kick.  He had grown a pair of breasts, the feathers on her wings were congealing into a leathery mass and she was rapidly turning into a kangaroo.  "The aura was wrong," Illiath said.

"Oh... oh shit," the wildcat replied.

"Yeah," Illiath agreed.  "Now, can we please get to the coffee shop before her friends come after us?"

"I'm calling you to account afterwards," Professor James said stiffly as he struggled to calm himself, "But I agree.  We have to get out of here."

Illiath quickly rooted around the house and found a carrier bag which she used to conceal the android's severed head.  When she was satisfied, she un-jammed the lift and the pair of them sped out of the house towards the shopping district.


Their wings and headwings were concealed as the Doberman and wildcat approached Arnold's.  Illiath floundered for a moment as she suddenly realised there were two branches of the shop, on opposite sides of the street.  Her phone's map had had one of them marked as 'Cash Fur Cheques'.  Must have changed recently, she thought.

Both branches had a large queue trailing out from them, and for a moment or two the succubus despaired.  Then, with a sigh and an old children's counting game, she picked one of them and pushed her way gently but forcefully through the queue to the door, amid snarls and cries of protest from the crowd.

"We have a queue," one of the staff said pointedly as she marched in and strode up to the counter.

"I need to speak to Daryil," Illiath told him simply.  The Demon just stared at her.  "I beg your pardon...?"

"I'm Illiath Taun," she said.  "I need an audience with the Lord Daryil urgently.  Tell him it's Illiath, he will understand."

The staff debated for a few moments and shortly afterwards a feline incubus appeared from the back office and ushered her through, along with Professor James.  His wings were yellow and charcoal grey, unusual for a Daryil clan member.  His fur was mostly white, but with a number of muddy yellow splotches here and there including a large one across his muzzle. 

"Conrad D'Aryil," the cat said.  "Well, Ms. Taun, this is a bit unconventional.  And to be fair, this is a coffee shop, not a taxi serv..." the incubus' expression suddenly changed.  "Holy shit," he said.  "Illiath... of course!  You're the headmistress of Daryil's school!  You went missing!"

"Now we're getting somewhere," the Doberman said.  "This is Professor Idris James.  We were captured, we're on the run and I need to get to Daryil and find out what happened to the rest of my school.  Rescuing the other professors would be a definite plus too, but I want to get James to safety first."

"Indeed.  But how do I know you are Illiath and not some assassins trying to break into Daryil territory?"

"Nigel's chief of clan security," the succubus said.  "He can vouch for me.  Taun would too, but since she refuses to talk to Daryil at all there's not much point..."

"Well," the incubus said doubtfully, "Couldn't you go to her for sanctuary instead...?"

"And abandon my first-years?  Get real!  Besides, Grandmother... well, she'd look upon it as a weakness.  Look.  I have part of an enemy android here and Daryil will want to study it.  It'll be important to him, but I doubt Granny could give two shits."

"Very well," he sighed.  "I'll send for Nigel.  Happy?"

"Thanks.  Though, uh... while we're here, that porridge did smell good..." Illiath added, holding out a small debit card.


"Well, James," Illiath said in a subdued voice, as she took a bite from a fresh porridge baguette, "While we're waiting for Nigel, I guess... I promised we could discuss my warlike outlook on life... I guess now is as good a time as any, if you want to talk about it."

"Very well," the wildcat said, scowling slightly.  "I believe you used excessive force back there, to the point at which it would likely upset your students if they became aware of it."

"I disagree," the succubus said airily.  "You will note that I used non-lethal means each time I encountered an enemy 'Cubi."

"That's not what I meant," the wildcat snapped.  "The androids... the way you... you didn't just kill them... you executed them.  You were enjoying it!"

"But they weren't sentient," Illiath pointed out reasonably.  "They were just automatons running a relatively complex control program.  Beings see and do far more violent deeds in any modern videogame these days.  So what if I got a little carried away on what is effectively a training dummy?"

"So you were practicing... practicing to execute a real, flesh and blood opponent just like the Beings did to my parents!"  Professor James snarled.  "Right in front of their child!"

Illiath put down the baguette with a pained expression and collected her thoughts.

"I didn't know you lost your parents that way," she began slowly, "And I'm sorry.  I'd have taken more care if I did."  James opened his mouth as if to reply, but the Doberman interrupted. "And see... there was one time... I did kill someone right in front of their kid.  I've always regretted it."

The wildcat choked, and took a step back.  "Why... what made you do it?  I thought you said that you took people alive when you could!"

"I do," Illiath sighed, "But it... it was a hostage situation.  Some crazy guy, fell out with his ex... he had the kid at gunpoint, his own son!  I... I lost it, you know how that sometimes happens with 'Cubi... took his head off with a wing-tentacle.  It probably messed the kid up for life, as if being about to be murdered by his own Dad wasn't enough...  But it did save him.  The guy was going to do it."

James looked appalled, but the anger in his eyes was gone.  As he watched, Illiath buried her face and cried for a few moments.

"It sounds like you did your best," James said, "And I'm sorry about what I said earlier, I was out of order."

"Doesn't matter," Illiath said, looking at him miserably.  "It was a stressful experience.  I can't blame you and it was never anything personal.  I just wanted... I just wanted to make sure we could get home."

"I don't want to jinx things, but it's starting to look like you've done that," the wildcat told her.  "I can't say I agree with all your methods, but I have to admit that it could have been a lot worse.  So... well, thank you, Headmistress."

* * *

"My Lord," Nigel began, as he entered Daryil's study.

"Oh, Hi Nigel," Daryil said.  "Is Keaton alright?"

"Yes.  I've found a spare room for her to stay in."

"Well, I'm hoping she'll be earning her keep soon.  We should probably get her a house in Grunmore at some point.  But there's something else, isn't there?"

"Yes, Daryil.  I was wondering, could I have a quiet word with you...?  It's about Hayley."

"Oh dear," Daryil sighed.  "You still think I should have sent her to Marlbury, don't you?"

"With all due respect, yes."

"You really want her dead that badly...?" Daryil asked.  "That's not exactly in the spirit of my Tenets, you know."

"It's not that," Nigel said, "Though I do think she deserves to pay for her deeds, with her life if necessary.  But taking her away, keeping her here...?  The people at Marlbury are beside themselves with grief over the massacre and the relatives of those taken are howling for justice.  Some of them literally so.
"And now... now a vital piece of evidence that could help them find peace just fell into our lap and you're shielding her and ruining their investigation!  Why...?  Do we even have that right?"

"What goes on in Marlbury isn't really our business," Daryil said.  "If any of us here has a stake in the investigation, it's got to be Joshua and he's not exactly working for Marlbury anyway.  But you're right, interfering is probably not in our best interest."

"You mean you will hand her over...?" Nigel asked eagerly.

"Not if she behaves herself, no.  She may be psychopathic in ways that even Keaton would balk at, but I'm not convinced she'll get a fair trial at Marlbury.  No, I'm giving you and Joshua free reign to question her yourselves, so long as she suffers no permanent harm and she stays within the complex.
"If you prefer, we can hand her over to Starfire if we can get a promise she won't face the death penalty or be extradited to somewhere which does carry it.
"Either way, I do want to ensure everything we know or learn about the case gets passed on to the Marlbury police force.  It's only fair."

"Thanks, Dar," Nigel said, looking somewhat mollified.

"Oh, Nigel - I have a task for you," Daryil said suddenly.  "Part of me has just taken a call from Arnold's."

"Oh gods... is everything okay?" the German Shepherd said, his wings fanning out slightly.

"Yes, it was Conrad.  Two people barged into the shop claiming to be Illiath and Idris.  He thinks they're spies and wants you to check them out.  Would you mind?"

"Right away, my Lord," the incubus said and summoned a warp-aci.  Daryil smiled dreamily to himself as Nigel vanished and then he shook his head.  Stop thinking that, Dar, there's work to do.  But damn... why do so many of my clan have such nice butts...?

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



Really wonder how Hayley will work out... Poor Josh!


Interesting ending. I'd never imagine a porridge baguette before. Do people actually eat that?

And I wonder how Haley felt when Daryil and Ezra were casually discussing slicing her up in bits and putting her remains in buckets, only to end up grounding her from the Internet. >.>
~~ Gabi a.k.a. Gliynn Starseed, APF ~~
Thanks to Silver for the yappities, and to everyone for being so great!
(12:28:12) llearch: Gabi is equal-opportunity friendly

llearch n'n'daCorna

Yeah, I was wondering about the porridge baguette - I'm really not sure how that would work. >.<

Also, surely James should be saying "Thank you, Headmistress."?
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on December 27, 2012, 05:43:43 AM
Yeah, I was wondering about the porridge baguette - I'm really not sure how that would work. >.<

Thick and sticky porridge, spread like jam.  I'm more worried about how we'll draw it if things get that far.

QuoteAlso, surely James should be saying "Thank you, Headmistress."?
I was sure I had fixed that.  It'll have to wait until I reach home now...

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


Quote from: Tapewolf on December 27, 2012, 07:06:07 AM
Thick and sticky porridge, spread like jam.  I'm more worried about how we'll draw it if things get that far.

I have a very nice recipe for porridge! Made with yoghurt, grated apple, honey, a cooked egg yolk... cat food and cod liver oil. And meal worms if I'm feeling generous.

OK maybe it's not a recipe for human consumption. But poultry love it, trust me.


Chapter 37

"Uncle!" Illiath cried as she ran to hug Daryil.  Professor James looked utterly bewildered as the stony-faced headmistress practically turned into a kid before his eyes.

"Illie," the tri-wing said happily, "I'm glad you're safe."

"I'll have to tell Grandmother too," Illiath said, and fumbled with the shopping bag, drawing out the severed head of Yvonne by the hair and holding it proudly in front of Daryil's face.  The mare's blank eyes stared back at him, wide open and sightless, mouth slightly agape as if to protest at her beheading.  Daryil lept back with a yell, wings fluffed out.

"Oh Gods..." he said, dismayed.  "Oh Illie, you promised you wouldn't do that again... Oh." the tri-wing cut off as he realised how clean the thing looked.  "Android, right?" he said, calming down.  "I trust they weren't sentient."

"I need my head examined," the Doberman said.  "And yeah, it was only a robot.  I wouldn't be so happy about it if I had murdered someone," she said, casting a quick look at James.

"So, this is one of the robots the Fa'Rana clan have been working on, is it?  That will be very valuable intel, thank you for bringing it."

"Right again, Uncle," she replied.  "How are my staff and students doing?  Nigel told me that most of them escaped here.  Where's John?"

"Professor Falkirk is taking a class at the moment," the fox told her.  "But he'll be delighted to see you.  I don't think he'll object too much if you interrupt him, and anyway it would do the students good to see you back as well."

"I have to go back, Daryil," Illiath said.  "I managed to get out with Professor James, but there are at least two others still held in Fa'Rana territory."

"No," Daryil said firmly.  "You've done quite enough.  Your place should be with the students.  We need to organise their continued tuition - in neutral territory."

"But my professors...!" the Doberman exclaimed, horrified.

"Don't worry about them," Daryil said, and glanced at the door.  "I'll see they're taken care of."  A few seconds later, a large, robotic panther strode into the room.  It bore the insignia D-ARL on its forelegs.

"I will rescue them," the panther told her.

"I don't remember seeing you before," Illiath said, looking a little concerned.  "A new panther...?  Daryil, are you really supposed to have made him?  I thought they were forbidden under the New Life regulations..."

"We were forbidden from creating more lives," the robot said.  "But this body you see is neither sentient nor even a programmed AI like the head you brought.  I am the Lord Daryil."

"A robotic avatar...?" the Doberman exclaimed.  "That's cool!  But... Oh gods, I hope Granny doesn't hear about this.  She's a real traditionalist..."

"I dunno, a remotely-operated armoured war-robot might be right up her street," Daryil said.  "For situations like this, where they might try to kill me or destroy my projections, it's ideal.  I don't know if you know this, but with a conventional avatar, a powerful enemy out to destroy me could follow the link back to me, breaching even a heavily-protected sanctum.  But with a robot, the link is only radio waves rather than my own sentience so that trick won't work.

"Either way, Taun will no doubt see this in your memory next time you meet her," he concluded. "Oh!  And talking of which... Respectful greetings to you," Daryil said, bowing deeply before Illiath.  "I hope that one day you will be able to look beyond the japes of my earlier days and consider some kind of formal alliance.  Until then, I remain your respectful servant, Ikaarion Daryil."

Illiath blinked for a moment, then realised that what he'd just said was addressed to her Clan Leader, not to her.  "Are you sure you don't need my help rescuing the Professors?" she asked, slightly put out.

"No, I'll do it," Daryil said.  "I won't have you risking your life going back to..." he trailed away.  "Actually, how did you get from their base to Grunmore...?"

"That's where it is," Professor James blurted.  "It may be protected, but we didn't encounter any kind of portal or space-warping.  Their complex is built underneath Grunmore.  We used a lift in Kingsfield Road, number 32, I think.  It was built into the basement."

"Oh," Daryil said, his avatar's form wavering slightly with the shock.  The panther beside him stumbled and then lay down.  "Oh shit."

* * *

There was not a sound in the board room as Lady Finch entered.  By force of habit she took her usual place next to The Professor's chair at the end of the table.  Then she changed her mind and sat in his seat instead.

"As most of you will know," Lady Finch said, in the air of someone having immense difficulty forcing themselves to be calm, "A routine confinement operation intended to help locate my son has gone disastrously wrong.  All but two of our captives on site have now escaped and Professor Fa'Rana has been seriously injured in the fighting.  As his deputy, I will be in temporary command of the clan until he recovers sufficiently to resume command.
"Obviously there will have to be a review of our procedures and a tightening up of security... but this incident will have other consequences and knock-on effects on our core activities... in particular, the viability of the K1300 series of androids, codenamed Gamma Project..." the succubus paused, her eyes screwing up as if in pain.

"HOW DID THEY DO THIS?!" she screamed, her wings morphing and bristling into tentacles.  "They've destroyed nearly all the K1300 prototypes!  They knew all its weaknesses... they must have had inside information!  A spy!  I want a complete investigation... both into the K1300's logic unit and also an internal investigation.  I want this traitor found... and I want him executed!"

"Lady Finch," Johan began, quietly and cautiously in case the succubus turned on him, "What do we do about Gamma Project?  We're about a week away from mass production.  Should we continue?"

"I don't know," the wolf snapped.  "De-prioritise.  Have production continue, but at a reduced rate.  Do a test run - gods know we'll need to replace the first prototypes - but don't go into full production yet.  Oh!  And I want Sonia and... who's left...?"


"That's all?!" Lady Finch shrieked, "Just two of them...?!"

"Wendy, Yvonne and Xenka were beheaded," Johan said, in a quiet yet forceful manner.  "Bringing them back online shouldn't take more than an hour or two.  The problem is the others, though - they had their brains destroyed and that... well, it may not be economical to replace them.  Speaking of which, Yvonne... we haven't found her head at all yet.  She may have to be scrapped for parts."

"Well, that's something," the succubus sighed.  "Right then.  Once you've repaired the ones you can, I want all operational prototypes upgraded to the very latest firmware.  The others will be replaced from the test run.  Are there any known problems which would prevent that?"

"Well, we'll probably have to redesign the neck, at least," a frilled lizard succubus said thoughtfully.  "And strengthen a few more areas.  Other than that the basic chassis is great, and I think it should go into full mass production.  It's the AI I'm more concerned about, but I'm sure we can come up with something..."

"And if the AI can't be fixed?!" Lady Finch snarled.  "What if we're left with thousands of electronic retards?!  What can we do with them all then?  Tell me that!"

"We can still use them as scouts," Johan said soothingly.  "That doesn't need much in the way of outwitting an opponent.  Manual labour? Tending crops?  We can definitely find some use for them.  Also, remember that the K1400 is based on the K1300 chassis and that particular variant will not have the problems of our current AI.  Besides, at the end of the day, weren't they really just a stopgap for the Epsilon project anyway?"

"That is true," Lady Finch said, calming down slightly.  "But Epsilon is necessarily on hold until The Professor is well enough to resume his researches.  That said, your point about the K-1400 is well made.  Very well, we shall decide what to do with Gamma when we have the new run of prototypes.  But I want research started into an alternative AI scheme as soon as possible."

"They won't be as fast," Johan pointed out.  "The speed and reflexes we get now are a direct product of using a programmatic AI.  I'm not convinced we can achieve that level of performance in a true machine sentience."

"That is something for the research team to investigate," Lady Finch countered.  "In the meantime, is there anything else I should know?"

"Not much," a lion incubus said.  "Daryil's porridge business is still going strong.  They've partnered with strip clubs to provide some kind of adults-only flapjack as a subsidiary, and their core business has also launched a delicious gooey substance that our labs have not yet been able to identify."

"Great," Lady Finch snapped.  "But we will deal with that oaf in due course when we bring in his son.  Oh yes, Johan... we'll definitely need those prototypes for that.  Make sure they all have the latest jump unit installed."

"Couldn't we just bomb the restaurant?" the frilled lizard suggested.

"No.  Remember, Daryil has Richard hostage!  An attack like that, and he would execute my poor child for sure!" the succubus wailed.  "We can't do anything that might risk his life until we have Daryil's true child safely in our grasp.  Seric, how is our rival chain doing?"

"Well, I think we're still on track to launch," the lion replied.  "Our trial run of hashbrowns was very successful, but obtaining sufficient quantities of hash for continuous production is proving more difficult than anticipated.  It is likely that Daryil has interfered with the supply chain himself and our normal suppliers are not cooperating."

"When we have some more androids we should be able to solve that problem," Finch decided.  "Their AI may be compromised, but I doubt a bunch of drug dealers will know how to deal with them.  Anything else?"

"Yes, Lady," Johan said.  "Haley has failed to report twice now.  Should we send an agent to check up on her...?"

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


It's interesting to see how differently Illiath interacts between the two Twi-wings she's related to. Sometimes I wonder if Illiath is the only member of Taun's clan to persistently call Taun Granny?

Daryil's method to beat using his avatar's to track him is interesting. Though I worry because I'm sure there are things that can block radio waves. Wouldn't be so good if Daryil walks all that expensive and advanced material right up so they can try to reverse engineer it.

Also sounds like the possibility of smarter horse A.I.'s might be in the future. I'm still hoping for a Panther VS Horse battle in later chapters. That would be an awesome battle! :eager
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.

llearch n'n'daCorna

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


Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on December 29, 2012, 01:42:19 PM
AO flapjack?

Erm. You what?

Chapter 11, second section.

"Ah, Nigel," he beamed.  "How's things going at Grunmore?  Actually, I need to pick your brains for a minute.  I've been looking into plans for expansion for the next phase of the project... we need to pick some other innocuous and cheap food produced in Grunmore and promote it as a lifestyle accessory.

"I'm thinking about that mush you get when you leave the cereal in the bowl for too long... we could even come up with a trademark name for it.  But we probably want something else, maybe interestingly-flavoured mashed potato...  Blancmange sandwiches... no, flapjack!  That'll do.

"See, my plan is to open up a chain of strip clubs, which serve the stuff as a staple.  That way, we can associate flapjack with sex and promote it as a forbidden delight..."

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

Quote from: Tapewolf on December 29, 2012, 02:04:25 PM
Quote from: llearch n'n'daCorna on December 29, 2012, 01:42:19 PM
AO flapjack?

Erm. You what?

Chapter 11, second section.

"Ah, Nigel," he beamed.  "How's things going at Grunmore?  Actually, I need to pick your brains for a minute.  I've been looking into plans for expansion for the next phase of the project... we need to pick some other innocuous and cheap food produced in Grunmore and promote it as a lifestyle accessory.

"I'm thinking about that mush you get when you leave the cereal in the bowl for too long... we could even come up with a trademark name for it.  But we probably want something else, maybe interestingly-flavoured mashed potato...  Blancmange sandwiches... no, flapjack!  That'll do.

"See, my plan is to open up a chain of strip clubs, which serve the stuff as a staple.  That way, we can associate flapjack with sex and promote it as a forbidden delight..."

Sure. I have no problems with that plan.

I'm still going "wtf?" about it. ;-] It's my blinkered existence, I can't see how a flapjack could be sexy in any way. Go figure.
Thanks for all the images | Unofficial DMFA IRC server
"We found Scientology!" -- The Bad Idea Bears


Chapter 38

"How are things going anyway?" Niall asked, as he led Julei and Mordrith through the base.  Aside from his usual choice of expensive and form-fitting leather jeans, he had gone bare-chest and was wearing arm-sleeves.

"Not too badly," Mordrith said.  He was dressed similarly to the fox incubus but his wife, ever the succubus, had chosen some kind of catsuit, the ceiling lights reflecting in her seductive black form as they followed Niall down the corridor.  As they passed through one of the trunk routes, they ran into a handful of students, milling around or on the way to classes.  One or two of them cast admiring glances at the husky succubus' shiny outfit, others barely noticed.  Some were dressed in a similar fashion themselves.

"Of course," the Doberman continued, "This whole business with Sydney... that has kind of shaken us a bit.  I mean, we thought he'd be safe there.  It's come as a major blow..."

"He should have been safe," Niall said, bitterly.  "We have a strict clause about inter-clan grievances... Richard's parents broke a legally-binding contract by invading!  Even so, we're looking to tighten security up in the wake of this, believe me.
"The whole fiasco will cost Daryil some prestige.  Of course, right now the students are under the protection of Lord Daryil himself, and we are considering whether we should create a hyperrealm to protect the school going forwards.  Even so, we expect to lose some students as a result..."

"Niall," Julei interrupted, "We don't blame Daryil for what happened, and we certainly don't blame you! You saved our grandson's life, never forget that.
"And for that matter, we do not want Sydney removed from the school, not unless he wants it," she said.  "Under Daryil's wings is probably the safest place to be, his whole family is agreed on this."

"By all accounts Illiath and the school's staff have done everything they could," Mordrith pointed out.  "We can't ask for more than that."

"Thanks," the fox said, and became far more relaxed as if some great burden had been lifted.  "That means a lot to me and I am sure Daryil and Illiath will feel the same...  This should be it," he said, pausing outside the door to the Tri-Wing's study.  He knocked three times and marched in, but Daryil wasn't there.

Keaton turned around with a start as the door opened.  "You!" she blurted, her wings fanning out in panic as she saw Mordrith and Julei.

* * *

There was a knock at the door.  Nick turned around as it opened, still a little on edge.  He almost fell out of his chair.

"Hello Nick," Daryil said.  "You know, I liked the goth outfit better, but you're still cute, even with less shiny."

"Er, thanks," the jackal replied, flustered.  "You haven't come to... I mean... it's not some hidden price for joining the school, right...?"

"Of course not," Daryil said.  "I didn't come here to talk seduction with you.  Unless you want to...?" he added hopefully.

"I'd rather not..." Nick said, the insides of his ears turning red.

"Fine.  What I really wanted to know was... have you had any more dreams?  About The Lady?"

"I... I'm not sure," the young incubus stammered.  "It might have been..."

"Tell me about it," Daryil said, sitting down on a chair that hadn't been in the room previously and looking slightly concerned.

"I was in Harla'Keth again," Nick began.  "I was dressed... I was wearing that goth outfit again, and I was... powerful.  It was like I knew everything... I had hip-wings... I was Jyraneth," he said at last.  "I was Lord Jyraneth, like I'd taken her place..."

"What happened...?" Daryil enquired gravely.

"I... I had one of my Children, another Jyraneth... I forced them into my chamber, I was going to take them for a... a liason, as my concubine or something... But he refused and then... I... I ate his soul," the young man wailed.  "He begged for mercy but I just laughed... while I destroyed him..."

"What then?"

"I woke up... I was so horrified..." Nick sobbed.  Daryil put one hand on the incubus' shoulder and began picking at his hair in a gentle manner.

"Chill, Nick," he said, "It's okay, it's okay.  It was just a dream.  I mean yeah, the part where you were going to bang one of your clan members was kind of hot, the soul-eating bit not so much.  But I don't think it was real, I don't think it was any kind of an omen or a message from that crazy old bitch.  I think your subconscious was blending us all together... you, me and Jyraneth all bundled up into one."

"You do..?" Nick said, eyes wide with hope and relief.

"I think so.  Just let me know if it happens again, that's all."

"Yes, my Lord..."

"'Daryil' will be fine," the fox said, "Unless... unless you want to make it 'Dar...'", he purred seductively.  The jackal blinked at him and edged away slightly.

"You know, that's one of the drawbacks of being 'Cubi," Daryil said thoughtfully.  "As your powers increase, it starts to play hell with your libido and every time you see someone remotely good-looking you want to... Oh well, just make sure you take the self-control classes, okay?"

"I will," Nicklaus said.  "Was it just about the dream, though?  Was that the reason you came here?"

"Yes, but there's also someone else," Daryil said, "Uh, I mean something else... oh sod.  Forget it.  Look, you know Syd, right?  His Clan Father has come to induct him into Ja'Fell clan.  I figured that you should meet him too, while he's here.  You might want to join it as well, since he can hide you from the Red Queen and shield you from anything she might do to try and get into your mind."

* * *

"Settle down," Niall said, somewhat alarmed.  "Keaton, remember your probation..."

"I know, I know," Keaton snapped.  "These guys are protected by Daryil and they're... Well, they may be oath-breakers," she spat, "They may have betrayed The Lady, but..." she sighed.
"Mordrith was a friend of Dad's.  I saw him around.  We might not like each other, but they're still the closest I have to family..." she shivered, thinking again of her brother.

"What are you doing here?" Mordrith asked, looking her over suspiciously.

"Daryil invited me," the jackal replied in a sullen tone.  "He wants to make me his personal gardener.  How about you?"

"We're here to see our great-grandson," the Doberman said, with a slight sniff of skepticism.

"Oh, so that... jackal is your doing...?"

"They don't know about Nick yet," Niall said quickly.  "I don't think.  Daryil was going to tell Mordrith about it himself.  Keaton, please.  I don't know what Daryil said to you, but you look a mess and you're acting even more paranoid than usual."

The succubus flinched, glanced down at her hands, which were shaking, and then looked back at the fox.

"I have a room prepared for you if you want it," Niall said, coaxingly.  "I really think you should get some rest."

Keaton shot one last venomous glance at Mordrith, who glowered back, and at Julei, who remained impassive as Niall led her away.

"What do you think Salem would say if he could see her acting like that?" Mordrith asked, shaking his head.

"He usually saw the bright side of things," Julei said, "Yeah, he'd be a bit distressed that she was that shaken up.  But he'd be happy that she's survived."

* * *

"Has any progress been made on finding the traitor?" Lady Finch asked.

"Not yet," Johan said.  "Nor have we heard from Haley so far.  It seems highly likely that she has been captured by Daryil."

"Damn him!  Can we arrange a prisoner swap...?  Illiath and her staff for Haley...?"

"Illiath hasn't been recaptured either, my lady," Johan pointed out nervously.  "Our remaining two prisoners are missing, all we found were holes in their cells the shape of a large wild cat.  We don't know what happened as the security cameras mysteriously went offline - we found the holes in the walls while investigating that.
"So, I'm afraid we don't have any prisoners to exchange.  Though we do have Illiath's personal broadsword.  Do you think they might swap her for..."

"I hardly think so!" the wolf snapped angrily.  "Don't you have any good news for me?"

"The technical division have repaired Wendy and should have some idea of how Illiath managed to slay her and the other androids," Johan said.  "I'm expecting a preliminary report tomorrow morning."

"That's something!" Finch said, a note of triumph in her voice.  "I want the results presented to me personally as soon as is practical..." the succubus looked up as there was a sudden pulse of emotion near the entrance to her study.

"What are you doing here...?" she snapped as a feline succubus entered the room nervously.  "I said I was not to be disturbed..."

"You have a visitor, Lady Finch," the succubus said quietly.  She was flanked by an incubus of medium build, a pale blue husky in full armour.  A shock of long, green hair and leathery brown wings topped his head, and his face bore a slightly crestfallen expression as if he didn't want to have to carry out his mission.
"I... I strongly advise you to speak with him," the feline added lamely.

"Who is this?  Why have you let them in...?" the succubus demanded pettishly.  "I have a clan to run, as well you know..."

"My name is Jeremiah," the incubus said, bowing politely with a faint clank of what appeared to be ceremonial platemail armour and a large broadsword strapped to his back.  "I speak for Taun," he added gravely.

Lady Finch wilted, her headwings fanning out.  "That's nice," she babbled.  The incubus pretended he hadn't heard.

"I am one of her troubleshooters," he added, casually.

"Do you find trouble... and shoot it...?" the wolf quavered.

"In field testing we have found decapitation to be far more reliable," he replied.  "Let me be frank, if I may, my lady.  My Mistress is of the belief that you have kidnapped a member of her clan and this does not please her.
"Taun is of course resigned to the fact that a clan made up of warriors will have casualties from time to time, but this offence was committed in front of her very face and as such my lady considers it a most grievous insult to her authority."

"In short, Taun demands her lost child be returned to her immediately, but I managed to prevail upon her to wait for one day before any hostilities commence."

"I will order his immediate release," Lady Finch said crisply.  "This kidnap must have been a mistake, we would not knowingly have kidnapped a member of your clan.  I would not wish to make an enemy of Taun, not when our clans have such similar aims - the supremacy of the 'Cubi race..."

"A wise decision," the ambassador said smoothly, and he looked a lot happier.  "Bring her forth - I will accompany her back to our Lady."

"Remind me," Lady Finch said, "What was the name of your comrade?"

"Illiath Taun," the incubus replied.  Lady Finch sagged back in her chair.  "Illiath?!  She... was a Taun?" the wolf gurgled.  "Not Illiath Daryil..?"

"What's happened...?" the ambassador sighed, with a tired, slightly waspish edge to his voice.  "Sadly, if Illiath has been harmed as a result of your actions, I have orders to carry out your immediate execution..."

"On my own clan territory?!"  Lady Finch snarled, in spite of herself.

"Yes," the husky said.

"Of course, I hope it doesn't come to that," he added, "I would by far prefer to seek a peaceful resolution than to have to put you to the edge of the sword.
"But if you do kindle my Leader's wrath, my honest advice is to meekly surrender yourself to your fate so that your clan may retain its honour.  Otherwise there will be a state of open warfare between our clans, and to be completely honest, we'd win.

"And much as I hate this unpleasantness, I feel obliged to point out that Taun's present anger would be as nothing compared to her fury should her ambassador should somehow fail to report back.  She would feel my death, she would know..."

"Illiath has escaped," Lady Finch admitted at last.  "She is no longer in our custody."

"My Lady will be pleased," the incubus said, and brightened for a moment.  "Unless, of course, something has happened to Illiath after her escape.  In which case... well, it will be over quickly," he said, fingering the broadsword with the solemn, resigned expression of someone steeling themselves to perform a mercy-killing on their favourite pet.

"What...?!" the wolf yelped, staring at the envoy and involuntarily fingering the back of her neck.  "We don't have her!  What do you want me to do... recapture her..?  Drag her kicking and screaming back into our dungeons just so she can be turned over to you?!"

"Of course not," Jeremiah replied.  "But I do expect you to find out where she went and report her location back to us," he said, handing her a business card with the twin crescents of Taun on the back of it.  "I will inform you if she contacts us first."

"Very well," Lady Finch said frostily.  "It shall be as you say.  Send Taun my respects, if you will."

"Thank you, my lady," the husky said, with a grateful smile, and turned to go.  He stopped at the door and turned back for a moment.  "Lady Finch... I will be back tomorrow morning."


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


The supremacy of the 'Cubi race?

I always thought Taun was more in line with Judge Dredd then some mad dictator. Though I guess quibbling such points with Lady Finch would be a waste of time when there are more important things on the line.

Like getting back one of Taun's children, an entire clans collective throats  from being placed on the chopping block and making a point of not to mess with the Taun's. Gosh, just a message from Taun can be intense. One can only imagine what getting a in person meeting with her can be like.
I perfer my spam cooked on a skillet.


Quote from: joshofspam on January 05, 2013, 10:08:19 PM
The supremacy of the 'Cubi race?

I always thought Taun was more in line with Judge Dredd then some mad dictator. Though I guess quibbling such points with Lady Finch would be a waste of time when there are more important things on the line.

I'm told that Taun isn't necessarily very nice.  And that yes, she does think that the 'Cubi race should be on top.  Not in a cruel way, but definitely in charge.  However, she's not fanatical about it in the crazy way that some of the Fa'Rana clan are.

QuoteLike getting back one of Taun's children, an entire clans collective throats  from being placed on the chopping block and making a point of not to mess with the Taun's. Gosh, just a message from Taun can be intense. One can only imagine what getting a in person meeting with her can be like.

It should be noted that (in PF canon) Taun herself does not rule the clan day-to-day.  The clan has a command structure (which is canon).  While she is obviously in overall charge, the majority of decisions are made by High Command who are alluded to in later chapters, while she concentrates on the long-term planning.

And finally it should be noted that while I have gleaned a fair bit about Taun to write this, it's not canon...
"Hopefully I will not mangle your character too badly."
"You will anyway.  I always do."

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

llearch n'n'daCorna

Quote from: Tapewolf on January 06, 2013, 08:00:58 AM
Quote from: joshofspam on January 05, 2013, 10:08:19 PM
The supremacy of the 'Cubi race?

I always thought Taun was more in line with Judge Dredd then some mad dictator. Though I guess quibbling such points with Lady Finch would be a waste of time when there are more important things on the line.

I'm told that Taun isn't necessarily very nice.  And that yes, she does think that the 'Cubi race should be on top.  Not in a cruel way, but definitely in charge.  However, she's not fanatical about it in the crazy way that some of the Fa'Rana clan are.

And that makes her much more effective.

Not even taking into account her sheer capability - after all, she's got the clan full of battletanks. Put them all together, they're going to make a mess, even if they go down. Unless you pull a Hizell on them, I guess. Still... not something I'd expect.

Interesting. I see Lady Finch is wetting herself now. And realising just _why_ Illiath went through them like a bandsaw through a stick of butter...
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