Hidden 12 days ago Post by ML
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ML Attempted Polymath

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"Jesus Christ." ET muttered. He'd jumped when Void had shown up, but come on: there'd been no one, and then there'd been someone. It was eerie, and spooked his caffeine-fried, sleep-burned synapses.

"Look," he continued, fixing Stardust with a pointed stare. "Don't be killing anyone. For all the bluster and extraneous acting, the shadowman is right. Going in guns blazing is a surefire way to get Carolex, the other big six, and Envoy herself to shred us into atoms. Nobody actually knows what her powers are, or how they work. We're basically planning this fucking heist in the Garden of Eden."

"He's also exaggerating." ET put a hand to his face and shook his head slowly. Caffeine-withdrawal headache. Fucking great. "Most companies and individuals--even the Big Six--don't have paper-mache nukes. What they might have is a Ritual Circle with a tripwire that...turns us into mummies," he said, nodding acknowledgement to Void. "Usually," he stressed, "magic is weird, complicated, almost impossible to get right, and more trouble than it is worth." Not in this case, he supposed. Carolex Experimental would have devoted plenty of funds to magical safeguarding, especially if Void wasn't the only magical-criminal in the area. Statistically, there might be...two or three others?

He was going off of experience in the MC: Magic was a tempting escape for the...challenges of everyday life. In Midwest City, he'd seen plenty of rituals-gone-wrong, or demons-half-summoned, or Wiccan Sex Magic where the unfortunates had been melded at the hips. But he wasn't an expert--ET figured that had been Hex's area of expertise. He paused, then patted down his pockets briefly. Was it still there?

It was. He pulled out the notebook from Addison's body, and flipped it open. "Fuck," he mumbled, as symbols and ancient languages crisscrossed the pages. "So I've got this fucking notebook," he growled, tossing it onto the table. "Judging from it trying to steal my soul, it was from Hex. Might be useful if we're going to have to deal with magic, since Hex was the closest thing to a magical mastermind I've ever heard of."
Hidden 7 days ago Post by Atrophy
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Atrophy Meddlesome Kid

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Maysah began to think that perhaps getting catcalled into catching a bullet would be a mercy as Void continued to filibuster. This kind of lecture was largely wasted on her, and it was largely based upon assumptions that she knew not to be true. They were going up against one of the Big Six. Any yuppie with slicked back hair and a seat on the board of one of those companies was a lunatic tripping off of a power fantasy. Besides, she had ruined her career fighting corporations like these. She didn’t need to know every which way they’d screw her because she had already been through them all.

Her brow furrowed into a v-shape and it stuck there as Void kept talking hypotheticals upon hypotheticals. Was he attempting to make a point, or did the sound of his own voice mend his precious ego that had been wounded by getting shot down? They had been inventing ways to kill her for over twenty years. She had been shot by guns, blasted by hand lasers, thrown around like a ragdoll by a mutated scientist, and just hours ago was practically hit point blank by a miniature nuclear warhead. Yet, somehow she had survived long enough to ironically get talked to death by this man here about all the possible things that would, yet again, fail to kill her.

A short huff of air, the death of a stifled laugh, escaped from Maysah as Void went on to threaten her with EMPs. She’d love to see if an EMP would be able to counter-out a perpetual EMP. She squinted her eyes shut tighter as a hand went up to cover a smile. Yes, how could big bad Stardust even dare to think about hurting the poor innocent make-believe single mom who had, in this dumbass scenario, just tried to murder her with a magical bomb?

Another hand went up to her face as she started to shake in her seat. Oh, oh, alas, these poor innocent civilians who willingly punched the clock to work for an evil empire, oh, how the world will weep for them and cry out why, Stardust, why!? Yes, yes, this was it, this was her start of darkness, all because she didn’t let a man harass her. What a monster! What a frosty bitch! Damn it, Stardust! Why did she murder this man because he had negative pick up game? Why couldn’t she just take the compliment? Alas!

Arbiter spoke up, telling her not to go killing anyone. Wow, thanks for the support. Glad she followed him to Denver. She shook her head as he continued on business as usual. She couldn’t take it anymore. This was why she never could be part of a team. She lowered her hands from her face. Her cheeks were red. Tears were pooling at the bottom of her eyes. Void was still there, but it didn’t matter anymore. The corner of Maysah’s lips twitched.

And then she exploded into a howl of laughter. It was an uncontained, uncontrolled, full on laughing fit complete with blown out equine heehaws and sharp snorts. Maysah doubled over as she smacked the table and flopped back in her seat. She didn’t know what exactly it was that got her but goddamn did it get her. The lack of real sleep didn’t help. She wiped at the tears flowing freely down her face, caught one look of Void, thought for a second that he was actually about to start fucking talk again, and erupted into another laugh session. It was uncomfortably long for everyone involved. Maysah was in actual physical pain by the time she had wrestled it down to a soft chuckle.

“Holy shit. Holy. Shit! I haven’t laughed like that in ages. Oh my god. Thank you,” she said, mostly to Void. It was the first time her partners heard actual glee in her voice. “Are you sure you aren’t a hero? Because that? That was just an incredible speech. Seriously. Bravo.” She lifted the drink he had gotten her in a mock cheers. “Really, I take it all back. I have seen the error of my ways. I was in the wrong. I’m totally going to fuck you now.”

And with that Maysah sneered, turned the drink, and poured it right onto the floor. She set the empty glass on the table, snatched up Hex’s notebook, and stared Void dead in the eye, “Since you’ve been doing this kind of thing for years I doubt you’ll need to study up. Besides, the lady needs another drink.”
Hidden 2 days ago 1 day ago Post by ML
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ML Attempted Polymath

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"Enough," Peterson said. "I didn't invite you here to fuck around and--"

Void had a smug little grin on his face, Stardust looked about ready to snipe him through the eyeball, and ET found himself wishing to god that he'd just gotten himself suspended when Captain Ong had come calling. He could have been four shots into his happy place back at Midwest Multibar and Grill, or shooting the shit with Andrew and his wife. Instead, he was playing babysitter to a bunch of people who could kill him as easily as blink at him.

All this for a fucking dick measuring contest between Houdini and a walking plasma storm. ET reached out with a sudden vehemence, and before he knew what was happening, he'd sent an executive order down the nightclub's throat. TONDE collapsed. A sudden failure in the power management system sent sparks sizzling across the dance floor's lights. The music crashed altogether, and every light except the one above their table went out in a crackle and a hiss. The robot-controlled bar spun into a haywire fit, shattering the glass bottles on the countertop. Every tuxedo-clad server drone in the building screeched once, and then dropped, lifeless, to the floor.

"Look," he hissed, and pointedly reached out to Stardust's hand holding the book. He plucked it out of her fingers, and leaned back stiffly. "I don't think we have a fucking choice here. We'll have to try and raid Carolex. But it is three in the god. Damn. Morning. Since nobody seems willing to contribute to the mystery of why we almost died, I'd like to get some sleep." The caffeine in his veins would not make that easy, but he was determined and foolhardy. It'd work.

Peterson's carefully crafted face of neutrality slipped as the chaos unfolded around them. His eyes flicked from ET to Tower to Stardust, then back to ET. The four of them were now quite alone in the room. The man's eyes slid down to a ring on his finger, and he relaxed somewhat, but nodded. "Two doors down the street, there is a hotel that I use. Excellent service. I'll put in a request for you all to get separate rooms. Should be ready by the time you get there. We'll reconvene at A Morning Cup in eighteen hours. Will that be enough?

ET did the math. Nine PM. "Yeah. That'll work." He stood, then paused and glanced at Tower and Stardust. "Look," he said. "This is not ideal. If y'all disappear overnight, I won't blame you. I'm gonna see this through, though. For Addison." And so that Captain Ong doesn't excommunicate me. He left without waiting for them.

"Captain, what the fuck have you sent me into here?" He folded his hands in front of him and looked down at the smartDesk in his hotel room. Captain Ong's impassive face looked back at him. He'd just finished recounting everything that had happened, including his probable breach of cover in the nightclub. It wasn't like either of them had actually expected him to keep the cover of being non-powered. It would have come out eventually. But still, maybe they wouldn't notice.

ET snorted. Right.

"Turner, your guess is as good as mine." A shiver of emotion flashed across Ong's face, and she brought a hand to her forehead. "A missile? A coverup? Carolex? You know I can't give you a green light for that, right? Not only are you out of your jurisdiction, we put you under an assumed identity. If it gets out that a MCPD officer was going on raids across the country--" she held up a hand as he opened his mouth. "Look, I'm not arguing the importance. This is a secure channel, isn't it?"

ET nodded. One of his many talents: totally secure, end-to-end-encryption that only he could process properly. Ong smiled tightly. "Right. You almost got nuked out of existence, and clearly whatever was in that bunker was worth risking another regional war between corpos. I just can't given you an official go-ahead. Do whatever you can. I'm not ordering you to, and you can come back if you want. I don't think it's worth the risk, but you're already there. Just know that if it goes south, nobody will be able to cover for you. Remember those old Mission Impossible movies?"

"Yeah." They'd been an old precinct favorite.

"That's you now." Ong nodded curtly, then cut the link.


P R E L U D E T O L A R C E N Y
CURRENT DATE -- 24/05/2047, ~9 AM


A Morning Cup was, ironically, another nightclub, though it was more accurately a jazzhop-bar. It was infinitely more white-collar than TONDE, being near the industrial complexes populated by infinitely more white-collar employees. Having rested, shaved, eaten, hydrated, and not had any alcohol through sheer muscle force of will...ET liked the place.

He settled down at an outside table, waving away a pretty, young waitress with an easy smile. She actually blushed, and for the first time in days, ET felt almost like a man, instead of a sleep deprived lagoon monster.

Honey, you are always a man. Gabbie's voice was thin, refracted through ice. She and Dave were parked near the Carolex Industrial complex in one of the apartment lots. It was public parking, and they had the cloaking engaged. ET had figured it would be safe enough to keep them there.

He'd been the first to arrive, but he liked being punctual. It was time to get this show on the road.
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