Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Balmas
Raw
Avatar of Balmas

Balmas

Member Seen 17 hrs ago

Holy shit, she's like a hero out of the storybooks.

The demigod, to be clear? Dyssia isn't that far off from what you'd see on the cover art, right? Noble, heroic, triumphant, unscathed after a campaign of painting another corner of space Apollonian blue--except for all the ways she's not those things, and actually painting a cover art of anyone dressed in red would be a good way to get odd looks from your peers--but still, at least heroic.

But the demigod--shit, right, listening--Mosaic, fuck that's a pretty name, is. Well, it's not like she could point to anything in particular. The blood, the scratches, the ripped clothing, the--gods, she looks like shit, someone get a medic please?--the all of it? It's like. No one thing in particular screams leader, but it's only because everything about her is crying King.

She has Ceronians following her. Honest-to-god Ceronians! An entire band!

Fuck she's glad she brought the diplomats.

Bureaucrats? Diplogats! Diplodocats, the hit new series about dinosaur kitty diplomats!

Point is, she can already see about fifteen ways for this to fracture--noses sniffing, whipping tails, bristling fur--even in the midst of the chaos, and she's glad there's someone here to help to smooth things over.

Not that she's entirely sure she needs it, because holy shit? Did we cover holy shit? It's worth saying again, because holy shit, she's pretty sure this Mosaic could smooth things over by herself.

"Did I-"

And here, she pauses, because inflections are important. It's just… it's so hard to get things right, you know? A hesiation, a phrase said wrong, and suddenly it sounds sarcastic and that's not what she's going for and you have a friend who's not talking to you or maybe even don't have a friend anymore, and that's not what she wants.

"Hero of Beri," she starts again, pouring as much sincerity as she can into the words, as much of the holy shit and admiration in her brain as will fit into three words. Hero of Beri, as honest compliment and title and acknowledgement of yes you are, are you kidding me you just threw a fuckin' city through a starship don't you dare gimme that self-deprecating crap. Hero of Beri, as the start of what she's pretty sure is gonna be a much longer list of titles.

"My name is Dyssia, I'm a knight of the Publica, and I'm here to help."

She stares at the beach again, counting heads.

"I place myself at your command, Mosaic. May I suggest we start by getting this ship in the air?"
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
Raw
Avatar of Tatterdemalion

Tatterdemalion Trickster-in-Veils

Member Seen 1 day ago

"Welcome!"

The Knight, from above, makes a bold gesture, a sweeping of the arm, an acknowledgement of the great worthies of the universe, and chief among them the Lady of the Plousios, the Queen Under Heaven, Mosaic Regina. Her eyes are alight, quite literally, and her raiment glimmers as she smiles proudly, her own guest shyly coiling behind her. "Hestia bless all of you, friends of Our Lady, and may you find your true dream here aboard our pleasure-palace! Our hearthflame is sparking and soon will be properly kindled; our Corvii are working the molecular bellows like Hundred-Handed Cottus! We have musicians ready, a chef stolen from the finest kitchen on Bitemark, and enough champagne to fill the Cocytus!"

She jumps down from her vantage point, leaving the friendly Magi behind, so that she can bound up to her love and... "Well met, fellow knight," she says, bowing low. "I am Ember, a humble servant of the Lady Mosaic. And you are doubtless the flower of Azura chivalry, a sword's blade folded a hundred thousand times. If it would please you, I invite you to our dueling grounds for a sparring match; I would like to test my meager skills against your own, developed over the course of a lifetime." Her tail wags eagerly, and the ring on her finger is beautiful as she presses her hand against her chest. "But I dare not monopolize your time amongst the wonders of our vessel. Come in! Come in! This is the place where dreams are true."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
Raw
Avatar of TheAmishPirate

TheAmishPirate Horse-Drawn Tabletop

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

The plush, imperial finery resents their presence. Who are they, that they should pass through these ruined corridors with heads unbowed? Is it not enough that the Skies should suffer this indignity, but that they should walk free while this holy palace lies in ruin? One pillar in one hall is greater than all twenty three of them put together. The least they could do is go down with the ship.

And yet, they press on. And yet, they might survive, together.

They might survive the shifts in gravity. The soldiers are trained to feel them, but Synnefo wool, light and airy, is always the first thing to move. Dolce must keep his eyes on his patient. He must direct the soldiers where to grab. 20022 must pause his instructions to make way for Dolce’s sudden shouts. The Architect must be secure. Then, he must direct the head of the column forward. This is as fast as they can go. They press on.

They might survive the explosions. Every hallway has bulkheads worked into the coiling architecture in case of catastrophic munition failure. Dolce must watch the rear. 20022 must watch the front. Whoever takes the call first, 20022 must take charge. He must direct the Skies’ finest to hurl their bodies on the mechanisms and haul them into place. Dolce must cradle the Architect’s delicate head with his whole body. He must pad it with his wool. He must nod to each of his soldiers in turn, surrendering them to the task as needed. They press on.

They might survive the simple collapse. Forget not the peril of falling rocks. 20022 must order shields up. They must be silent until it is quiet enough, but cannot wait too long. If they are trapped, they call out to the other. If one is free, they must dig a path to the other. If neither is free, they must find each other. If they cannot find each other, then they must dig free without delay, and then they must find each other. They press on.

They might survive the goodbyes. The Architect must be securely strapped into the shuttle, for his own safety. Dolce must see to this. He must not question how many soldiers 20022 sees fit to leave him with. 20022 must prepare the offerings for Zeus. Before they leave, they must reconvene, ensure all is well, and that nothing more is required of them. They must be swift in their departure. There is no time for anything more.

But instead, Dolce looks to his friend.

“You said, when we met, that you had to take a more authoritarian tack than you were comfortable with.”

And he must finally ask the question on his heart.

“Was that because you felt sorry for the people of Bitemark? Or because it was inefficient and unsightly?”

[Rolling to Speak Softly. 6 + 3 + 3 = 12. Spending a Bond, 20022 has to answer the question.]
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Thanqol
Raw
GM
Avatar of Thanqol

Thanqol

Member Seen 17 hrs ago

Champions of Bitemark!

Three great labours must be completed to launch the Plousios.

Firstly, the Engine must be ignited. It rests uneasily, a stellar spark flickering in the heart of the great reactor. Someone must don mighty armour, so thick and heavy it can endure direct plasma burns, and walk into the massive spherical chamber. They must manually apply kindling to the fusion spark until it burns bright, then open the emergency plasma flow gates from the inside. Finally they must exit before the scalding liquid energy boils them alive.

Secondly, someone must occupy the Captain's chair. Lieutenants must be commissioned. Tribes must be given control over districts and functions. The ship is in the throes of chaotic land grabs as people throw their baggage down in the first empty rooms they find. Given how quickly temporary decisions can become permanent ones, a wise and steady hand must act to prevent injustice from taking root.

Finally, someone must angle the ship. A direct thrust right now will send the ship directly into the mountain, so it must be turned nose-up. Accumulated rust, coral and seawater has rendered the massive turning pikes that angle the Engine's mighty output jammed, but the seawater collected towards the rear of the ship renders the vessel bottom-heavy. The clearest method for this would be skillful use of a Grav-Rail, and a warrior servitor from the town named Vasilia has volunteered her experience with the weapon, but even that must be matched with raw force or whirling cleaning.

Dolce!

"I'm honestly shocked that you have to ask," said 20022, brushing down his fur with a handkerchief before offering a spare to Dolce. "Having to do things wrong on purpose is shameful. A mistake can be corrected, but having to actively deny reality because the government of the day has certain ideologies -" he sniffed as he said the word, like he was allergic to it, "- well. It feels like one should be checking oneself in for an afternoon wearing the bell, when the truth is punishment would come from exactly the opposite action."

He gives a serious look. He seems to have fully calmed now, having thought through a new intellectual framework to exist within. "I think this question, though, is ultimately the product of your design. Human Synnefo were built to prioritize individuals; as a domestic servant you were made to fixate on the needs of your masters. Azura Synnefo are taught to prioritize the needs of the State. And, frankly, that is why the Endless Azure Skies endures even after humanity has passed into extinction."

The shuttle launches. The stricken Slitted is left floundering in the water, weighed down by half a mountain. Ahead, where a crimson star once burned, now roars a distant gold one. Armoured soldiers settle into place, the broken flickering light of the Architect starting to stabilize and become more steady as the electrical storm is left behind. Once they hit void 20022 instructs one of the soldiers to go outside and break off any ELF spikes from the exterior of the shuttle.

"Regardless," said 20022 eventually. "I understand that you're likely to experience purpose conflict at the idea of corrective biomancy - though I do recommend it. But in its absence, I can assure you that there's still a place for... people persons in the State and Service. If it is compassion for the people of Bitemark that stirs you then you can demonstrate that firsthand taking my role as policy officer. If you think you can do better than I, I would be delighted to see it."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Phoe
Raw
Avatar of Phoe

Phoe Idol Obsessive

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

"...the fuck is a 'Publica'? You use words the same way that Ember does, all of that Elysian dreaming stuff. You call yourself a knight and it doesn't sound a thing like when Her Ladyship the Crystal Knight made us do it. You even manage to say my name like you give a shit about it. That's a funny magic trick from someone I was taught was my inherent superior. And you put yourself at my service? HA! I haven't even gotten off the ground yet and I'm already learning more than I thought there was to know!"

Mosaic's grin is exhausted, but delighted. She has just been given an incredible treat, the kind of thing that makes it easy to keep her proud posture even in the face of a ship's worth of problems all begging for her attention when all she wants to do is sleep for a week. Or more. But who could rest in the face of something this entertaining?

Lips press together to cover teeth. Eyes flutter half shut. She sniffs at the air again, particularly around Ember, and reaches out to squeeze the top of her head. For as crushing as her grip is the pressure is shockingly light. She simply does not have the strength in her body right now to hold her knight as tightly as she normally would.

She licks her lips. Her eyes open and flash in gold and purple with such supreme confidence that it seems more like a choice than weakness. Is she strong? Is she weak? It doesn't matter, she has the answer to the riddle now.

"Head back on the ground with me, Beloved. I know you're excited, but I can't have you flying off the stars before the rest of us. It wouldn't do to leave me behind, would it? I need you here. You are the one who will light the engine. I can't trust anyone else with it. I can't..." she seethes, hissing through her teeth. It's one thing to understand what needs to happen, but it's another to admit she's actually incapable of something, "I can't do it myself. Not now."

Her grip slackens. Her fingers press through Ember's brilliant golden hair with the precision and gentleness of a comb made for royalty. She grasps the Ceronian girl by the neck and pulls her in for a kiss. She parts reluctantly. She parts with a sigh. She parts with a smile. And she turns, putting all the pressure of her stare back on the Publica Knight. Whatever that meant.

"Now, you. Dy. Sssi. A. I need a teacher. I would like you to be my first. I spent five years of my life working for the Crystal Knight because I thought it was all that I could do to help the village that took me in and celebrated me as a demigod, who gave me a place to care for my sisters. Just look what that came to. Stupid. But what am I supposed to do, even now? Should I just flit about, stealing star ships until everyone I meet is safe and loved and happy? Is that even possible? I have questions, Dyssia. Questions I don't even know how to ask yet. But you fell from the sky and fought the invincible Crystal Knight to a standstill like it was the most natural thing in the world. I don't care if you can give me the answers I need or not, you know the words I need to ask them."

She sighs.

"But right now what I need more than anything is a grav rail expert. Vasilia is good, but she'd be even better with someone to help her out. You mind? You said at my command, right? Then please stop the mountain from taking revenge on me for stealing so much of it."

Mosaic's head is pounding like the tides. She can barely hear the responses of the people right in front of her for all the voices shouting, echoing throughout the entire ship. If nobody did anything the whole place would fall to shit before she even made it far enough to see what another planet could be like. But nobody had the respect and authority to knock all of the needed heads together and get things working smoothly. Nobody but...

"Oh, fuck me." she mutters.

Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. What the fuck did she know about setting up a village? What did she know about captaining a ship?! She didn't even know what most of the rooms were even supposed to be for, what was she..?

She presses the tips of her fingers into one another until she feels the pressure start to drown out the noise. Help. She needs help. Gemini could gather everyone to a place where she could speak to them, but that did no good until she had a plan. She could ask Vesper to-- no. A puzzle that complex might kill her outright. She had to rest until Mosaic could finally find medicine for her. No. Someone else. Someone or something that already knew the ship. Someone to take stock of who could go where. That's the only way this could ever work.

Her footsteps join the echoes of burgeoning arguments as she walks deeper into the place Ember had deliriously called a 'pleasure-palace'. Doorways glitter when she looks upon them with her gods' eye. No better plan: she follows, and she sees what she sees.
Hidden 4 mos ago 4 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
Raw
Avatar of TheAmishPirate

TheAmishPirate Horse-Drawn Tabletop

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

There’s always more rubble. Six times over with the handkerchief, and he’s still picking out bits of rubble from deep within the curly depths of his wool. He will need to do a seventh. He ought to use a clean handkerchief. This one is quite filthy. He feels the stray bits between the folds of smooth cloth, pressing into his clenching fingers.

“You know-” Does he? Ought he? Why bother with preamble? He works his jaw stiffly. “I. Had thought,” what, exactly? What, exactly? Only he’s opened his mouth too early. Observe. 20022 is waiting. Think. And all he’s got is bitter on his tongue and hot flushing through his face. Observe. And anything he says will be wrong. Think. He is better than this. Observe. He’s already failed him once today.

Think.

With an effort, Dolce shuts his mouth, and swallows his heart back down. “I…have already given my answer.” His voice is quiet. His voice is tight. “Nothing’s changed that would make the prospect more appealing. I’m sorry.” His bow is slight. His bow is perfect.

It will not make a difference. It didn’t at the Manor. He has no fellows here either, as it turns out.

Still, he bows.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
Raw
Avatar of Tatterdemalion

Tatterdemalion Trickster-in-Veils

Member Seen 1 day ago

Ember hums happily, a half-remembered work song— which must be from Ceron, some round which ripples through the pack, yes. For it is the Ceronians who keep this spacefaring pleasure-palace alight. So what if there is so much to do that only a few of her sisters have come to join her in caring for the cavernous heart of this paradise, this oddly quiet furnace?

Head out of the clouds, Ember! Your lover needs you to focus! The right hand of the queen takes her time and carefully dons her ceremonial (and practical) armor, all green-grey metal without ornamentation. In Hestia’s heart, ornaments cannot survive; gilt would run, crystal would crack, and any carving into the surface of the material would be an unacceptable weakening, a stripping away of what might be a crucial layer of protection. (And yet it is not heavy enough to make her steps ponderous, and she moves fluidly in it. Mighty are the works of the craftsman, wise are the chemists and the engineers.)

Her tail wrapped around her stomach, she enters into the shrine with a polite bow of her head, a breath of praise and worship on her lips. It is not dark here, not anymore, not with the molecular bellows pumping hard. The walls are the color of predawn, and the gases that drag along the walls writhe like Azura coils, and the fusion spark’s steady light casts shifting, unreal shadows on all sides. But that’s all right. The spark’s what she’s here for.

The fuel is shaped into cubes, broken off one by one, and offered to the flame. It flows as creamy and white as butter once it leaves her fingers. She almost loses herself in the way that it runs down the gutters. Soon it will all be consumed, and the engine will be the purest light, the purest heat. Soon it will all be gone, and only energy will remain. But that’s too soon. Toss the last of the fuel into the pillar, stretching its limbs across the top of the sphere, and run, Ember, run!

Mosaic could have done this easily, if she were not battle-weary. (They say she threw all of Beri, and the thought isn’t real to Ember yet. She still imagines houses being pried up and being tossed one by one; no one has yet explained to her exactly how she has underestimated the woman she faithfully explores.) But it is to her consort’s credit that the gates do not stick as she hauls them open, and down the gutters run white serpents with tongues of fire, almost seeming to flick at the air as they vent— no, they tear the air down and rip out its vital gases, gorge themselves on heady chemical mixtures.

She laughs as she makes her way towards the exit, skirting the peril zone, averting her eyes from Hestia’s Spindle as it builds, reaction by reaction, into awe and splendor. If she were to look now, not even her faceplate’s automatic tint would be able to protect her from its divine glory. Her face is glowing, sunburnt, shining with sweat. Her body has aches running from her crest to her heels.

When she emerges, she must go from that wild run to a dead stop; she must stand and wait, armor groaning and sizzling, for it to drop to a safe temperature for removal. Until then, she will stand awkwardly still and bask in the applause from her sisters and that oh-so-friendly magi, aware that her touch is death until Hestia’s glory has passed from her shoulders. And she will hum happily, the words so close to the tip of her tongue, words that mean exertion and pack and peril. If only she could remember.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Balmas
Raw
Avatar of Balmas

Balmas

Member Seen 17 hrs ago

Where the hell did she get a grav-rail?

Dyssia doesn't stalk through the flooded belly of the ship, because stalking is. You know, it's a very physical word, is stalking? Has all sorts of implications about like, positioning and hunting and probably sniffing the air or something. And you can't really stalk when you're using a gravrail to hover. But it also has implications of like, you can stalk your prey, or you can stalk imperiously, and she's doing the second one while hovering? Does that count?

Orders, is the point. She's coordinating the efforts, all but feeling the ship move under her. Which is, of course, physically impossible, see above RE: floating, but still? She's leading the song, the call and return call of hauling, all while she and Vasilia work.

And, again, where the hell did she get one? She shouldn't be bothered by it. But she is?

Not because it's Vasilia, to be clear! Or because she's a servitor, though, yeah, that's kinda weird? It's not completely alien for servitors to use a rail? Ceronians use them? But also Ceronians usually take them as plunder, as treasured relics?

But Vasilia's been… It's like, she can see that Vasilia has been trained? And trained by an expert? She knows the forms, and she knows the extensions of the forms? And she's obviously practiced, the movements fluid and natural?

But also anybody who's trained knows she's doing it wrong? Doing all the math wrong, not showing her work, and somehow coming to the right answer?

She shouldn't have let Vasilia help. Like, it can only go badly to have two people of different skill levels playing with gravity in the same space? But also she can't help but want to see what the cat can do. She's fascinating.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Thanqol
Raw
GM
Avatar of Thanqol

Thanqol

Member Seen 17 hrs ago

Mosaic!

It's dark on the bridge of the Plousios. The massive window is heavy with coral growths which allow in only chinks of light. The place still drips with seawater, dying fish flopping on the floor, crabs scuttling, broken and corroded furniture. But there's something else here - a dull orange glow that radiates out from a pile of debris. You move some of the wreckage out of the way and -

"Praetor! Thank Ares, oh my lord!" sputtered a broken clockwork voice. If it had been a man, it would have been someone nasal, weak, and kind hiding behind a mask of educated sophistication and a walrus moustache. "How have I longed to see your face! Oh, the thought of you up there on the surface, making decisions without my advice - frightful!"

The creature was, at its core, a sphere of orange plasma. It was surrounded by three ever increasingly large rings of metal set with lapis that spun and rotated like an orrery. The rings could also expand and contract until they were spheres around the central glowing 'eye', or anything short of it, and the machine used this effect to create expressions.

"But - I know what you're thinking! You require a status update on your standing instructions. Well, I can confidently confirm that incidents of Kaeri on Lantern violence have dropped 78%. Standard of living amongst the Lanterns has been raised to reflect favoured warrior servitor status. Corrupt elements within the Lantern tribal councils have been identified and exposed, as have multiple spies and - oh, in Athena's name!" the machine intelligence cried in shock. "Praetor! I must inform you that the Master of Assassins is present aboard this ship! She could strike at any moment!"

Ember!

Merya has wasted no time at all integrating herself with the Ceronians who have arrived. In particular she has focused on the pack Biomancer, Thoughtful Flask. Flask is a poor Biomancer, more of a unit medic than an accredited doctor, and she's already wide-eyed at getting to listen to the sorcerer's discussion of her craft. Despite her relative lack of experience, Flask is still one of the most important figures in the entire Pack. She is the keeper of Arzm, the vast record of deeds and glory that determines which warriors will have their blood sent back to the massive cloning tanks on Ceron.

The rest of the pack is watching the Magi cautiously. They don't know if this is friend or foe yet, and Merya swiftly turns to you as soon as you return from the Engine in infernal glory. "Oh, Ember, my good friend! As I was telling these terrifying warriors of yours, I'm your guest - but I can be more than that. I have a great many talents I can put to use for you and your kind -"

Even if she's not pheromantically communicating her fear, it's coming off her in waves. She showed up expecting a pleasant stroll into a buried relic on a secure planet and instead she's found herself the prisoner of the Wolves of Ceron.

Dyssia!

"You know, I've wondered where you were since before I can remember?" Vasilia asked. "An angel descending from the sky on wings of fire to deliver justice and destroy evil. Some part of me can't help but resent you for not coming sooner."

She folds in on herself and conjures a microsingularity. The main reason why servitors have such a hard time with the Rail is that they can't easily form the circular shapes required to best channel its energy, but the leonine woman moves with a truly impressive flexibility.

"But a much larger part of me resents Mosaic for stealing my thunder," she huffs. "I spent years preparing for just this day but when it comes she goes and throws a mountain at a spaceship before I even got to use the technique I'd been practicing. And now when I do this -"

She stomps on the sand. A massive pattern spreads out around her, a complex sequence of overlapping rings that glow with energy siphoned from the agonized Slitted. The force rips gravity into a new configuration, making the mighty Plousios lurch into an upright position.

" - nobody will notice," she sighed. "Nevertheless."

Dolce!

The Royal Architect looms ahead.

It is the size of a moon and the colours of a stained glass ewer. Ten billion glittering lights ignite all along its surface, the rhythmic pulsing of a tame thunderstorm. For all its immense size it is delicate, as delicate as a ceramic egg, and the smallest surge of Flux energy could shatter it into a trillion pieces. This is no battle station, no weapon of ancient terror; its support pylons are carved of gold, its projectors are delicate, its ten billion swarming servants are sleek and beautiful. It's a masterwork, a piece of clockwork machinery built to make and unmake entire worlds.

And it is surrounded by a fleet as lumpen and unlovely as any which has graced the skies of this modern age. Vast grey hulking warships surround it at in a wide perimeter. But even these ugly things arrive in glory; when the Architect turns its immense instruments upon the void it opens crackling and distorted portals, rifts in reality through which the chromatic energy of Poseidon pours. Passing through these gateways comes more grim escort ships. These behemoths are slow, almost turgid - no Engines fuel them, no great jets of plasma fire. Instead they are picked up and placed by another of the Architect's incredible tools, placing them into precise positions in its orbit in the manner in which a child would arrange toy battleships for play.

You have not been scanned before - the high intensity pulses of light and radiation that cut through the shuttle's fragile metal and reveal the secrets of your bones. Spotlights from the behemoth ignite and track you, beams of light cutting through the void like spears, clearly able to turn lethal at any moment. On three occasions you are required to exchange ships and shuttles on your approach, a process overseen by more of the black-armoured soldiers, switching out with your original group multiple times. Strange gases are sprayed in your faces, strange tingling radiation baths, oaths of peace are sworn before altars, vast litanies of meaningless words are read aloud to you in case one of them might trigger an assassin's secret instincts. The process is less like security and more like quarantine.

20022 goes through this with an unhurried and unconcerned air. He is deep in thought, and is too polite to carry on a conversation that risks becoming an argument. He has not so much accepted Dolce's decision as he has decided to wait until the situation changes to break the impasse. But he has evidently been through the Architect's screening processes before and feels no special wonder at this most wonderous of the galaxy's secret places.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Phoe
Raw
Avatar of Phoe

Phoe Idol Obsessive

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

Praetor.

It's a word she's never heard in her entire life; she has no idea what it could mean. And yet the sound of it is a needle sliding slowly into her spine. Every syllable drags across her mind like the claws of some hideous beast, and the pain that follows fills her head until nothing else will fit.

Mosaic's legs feel weakness that have nothing to do with fatigue. She squeezes her head, because the pressure feels like relief against the swells of the word inside her. Pain enough to make her stomach churn. She heaves dry air and burning spittle, but nothing more. She stumbles forward, but does not fall. Her eye pinches shut as if trying to shield itself from the orange glow and the motes of light filtering through the coral.

But it clears. As suddenly as it clutched her, the word lets go and all at once Mosaic's world returns to normal. She watches the strange construct in wide eyed wonder and her mouth hanging slack. What kind of machine could this be? Was it even one? It wasn't like anything she'd ever seen come from the Skies. They would not have built something so... fragile.

Or so beautiful. All at once she is seized with the desire to run over and brush her fingers against the rotating rings and feel the perfection of their construction for herself. At the same time she feels the equally potent desire flee the room entirely, lest she breathe wrong or provide some latent spark that would fry this intricate miracle and kill a hundred lifetime's worth of dedication, perseverance, divine blessing, or sheer stupid luck that had kept this bizarre and wondrous eye in working order at the bottom of the sea with no support long after whatever disaster put this decrepit vessel into the drink in the first place.

Well. Almost working order, anyway. Whatever it was, it was clearly broken: not a single thing it said made a shred of sense. Even the gods it invoked were strange and wrong. It had to be broken. Or maybe disoriented? No matter how much she sniffs the air, Mosaic can't find any signs that it's alive; the only fresh scents in the room are metals and a heat that reminds her of the fuels that are beginning to power this ship. But even still, when she looks at it the word that keeps jumping through her thoughts is 'person'. If it wasn't alive, then what was it?"

Her hand lifts up to hold her head again. The pressure is back, and it almost feels like her brain might burst out of her skull if she didn't hold it in herself.

"Lanterns? Kaeri? I don't have the slightest gods damned... nnngh. I really don't have time for another--" she stops, and sighs, "I'm sorry. Can't imagine how long you've been stuck here all alone. But whoever you think I am, I'm not her. Name's Mosaic, not... whatever the fuck you said. Same servitor strain maybe? Can't say I've ever seen another one of... whatever I am, though. So probably not."

Mosaic glances across the room to the overgrown coral reef clinging to the window. She shrugs. The name 'Master of Assassins' makes her blood run cold for some weird reason, but she couldn't be anything other than another relic of this weird construct's dream memories. Nothing that boarded this ship the last time it had a Praetor to advise could still be breathing today.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
Raw
Avatar of Tatterdemalion

Tatterdemalion Trickster-in-Veils

Member Seen 1 day ago

Poor, poor Ember! The ink painted onto her has somehow not run, but the rest of her is a mess. After a certain point, sweat evaporates; her fur is matted and curling in strange patterns, and she smells like the ghost of a fire. (See how even her sisters offer her a wide, reverent berth.) Stripped out of her safety jumpsuit, her nudity is more striking than it is alluring; cunning eyes might note the ring of coral still on her finger. For a moment, her gaze passes over the desperate Magi, seeming far distant, her mismatched eyes pale.

Then her eyes focus on the figure before her, one coiling upon herself defensively even as she rubs her ringed fingers together. Her ears perk up, and she flashes that irrepressible smile that drew in the attention of Mosaic herself, tail wagging delightedly. "Oh, you silly darling," she says, her voice shifting to lovingly mimic the Azura's own. "There's no need to be worried! We are the loyal crew of the Plousios, and for those who respect our traditions, walk our corridors, and join in the labor, we welcome you with open arms!"

(And perhaps this will now be so. After all, Ember- the favorite of Mosaic, the Speaker for the Tyrant- is speaking, even as her sisters approach and help her with her honors, hiding her away from that lascivious serpentine gaze. Armor and silk, pearls and silver earrings, a sword returned to her side.)

The Ceronians close ranks around the Azura, smiles hidden but for the light in their eyes, as Ember approaches and cups the Magi's chin. "Your wish is my command," she says, all the more terrible for the earnestness, the sincerity, even as gloved hands trace her scales. "Come with us, o honorable scholar, and we shall open the secret side of the ship for you, once we have initiated you into the Crew." The way she says that makes it sound like she speaks of a priesthood, and it may yet be, one day hence.

When the Silver Divers leave the engine room to follow Ember into the hidden passages of the ship, the concealed compartments and the service tunnels, they do so carrying a squirming Azura, each one contributing to the lifting of the tail. Did you not know, Merya, what it is to ask the hospitality of the Daughters of Ceron? What it means to ask to be their guest? Did you not think to ask the people of Beri how the Silver Divers treat those who have fallen into their grasp?

Ember has no doubts. Memories overlap in her enchanted mind, but she still remembers with flustered fondness how she was initiated into the pack, and trusts in her new friend Merya to pass the trials just as winsomely, with just as much stamina and endurance, and with just as much submission to Taurus and Gemini- and to Ember, who speaks for Mosaic.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
Raw
Avatar of TheAmishPirate

TheAmishPirate Horse-Drawn Tabletop

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

His awe is silent, by necessity.

When you see a peculiar ship, you still know what a ship is. Somewhere, a pilot has to sit, or stand, or be strapped in. Something makes it go in one of many directions. Maybe there are things for battle? Or not, that says a lot too. Esoterics, now, those are strange by nature. But they are still held, or wielded, or manipulated by expert hands. While the workings may be strange, you can tilt your head just so, and think of a craftsman with a particularly complicated tool.

What is he looking at? What are these lights for? Why is it painted in so many colors? Is that paint, or a natural color? What holds it in place, if it is held in place at all? Does it move? Can it move? None of these questions come to mind, because all of them might be wrong, and he can't begin to know what the right ones are. He is filled with wonder and silence. He beholds something alien, for the first time in his humble life.

And yet.

In strange lasers passing through him. In rituals lasting hours. In the careful hop from ship to ship to ship. These are the presence of the Architect. These are the instruments of its will. Its hands and feet. And in these motions, he sees fear. Fear just as the robot limping alongside them felt. They are the same. They are different bodies. Some of their mind is the same. He watches the robot curiously out of the corner of his eye as it is helped along by a changing guard of soldiers.

A chef from Beri is here to see the Royal Architect. As impossible and improper and unthinkable as such a thing might be.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Balmas
Raw
Avatar of Balmas

Balmas

Member Seen 17 hrs ago

"You know, I used to think that way too?"

God, it's only been.

… carry the two.

Shit. It hasn't been years, has it? Has to be year, singular, no s. Her mind doesn't fit the s, somehow.

"In the stories, it's easy to focus on the capital-H Hero, you know? Or Heroine, or whatever. One big shining star who comes in and solves the problem, defeats the monster of the week, and sails off into the sunset triumphant.

"And it gets worse if you're facing a super big problem, right? Because if you're the only one who can solve the problem, then in the time it takes you to fix one problem, fifteen more problems spring up in their place, like a hydra!"

Except, you know, possibly thornier, in that the hydras are also making more hydras who are super into hydras, and view hydras as a good thing?

"But the thing is, there might be heroes, yeah, and diplomats and legends in every field, but all of them are propped up by people who are working just as hard for none of the credit. If I'd shown up alone, I'd have been blown out of the sky by the Knight's legions.

"All of which is a long way to say, I see you, Vasilia. I wish I'd gotten here faster, and I’m sorry I didn't, but even if Mosaic is stealing your thunder, I'm still looking at this and going, wow."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Thanqol
Raw
GM
Avatar of Thanqol

Thanqol

Member Seen 17 hrs ago

Mosaic!

"Oh! It must be as you say, Praetor. There is no doubt my functions have been corrupted by my time underwater, and by the Master of Assassins. She shut me down, you know? Spoke to me first, said - well! It does not matter!" He puffs himself up, glowing plasma sphere growing notably larger and warmer. "Forgive me my dreams. I am Ohm, Strategic Logistics and Management. I was built to assist the functionaries of Empire with tutorial advice so they might acclimate to their new roles swiftly. I assume, then, by your presence on the Bridge that you are my new Captain? If so, I would be delighted to assist you in any way possible."

Ember!

It has been a long time since the Silver Divers got the chance to properly bully an Azura. They seem determined to take just as long with it.

It's some time later and you're out by a window with Taurus. She's not looking at you directly, but she speaks firmly. "I'm resigning as alpha," she said. "I've fucked up too bad for too long. Mosaic was right - I don't have a vision. All I've got is bloodlust and even that's not enough to motivate me any more."

She looks at you, and somehow it's different now the instinctive deference to the Alpha is gone. Just saying it is enough to make it real. "I just wanted to say that you were the best thing that happened to the Silver Divers under my command. You've somehow become the heart of the pack in a way I never was."

Dyssia!

She gave a discreet smile as, in the background, the world wrenched and realigned and the ship started to tilt upwards. "It is very kind of you to say, sir Knight. Besides, I suppose I only have one person I'm trying to impress and -" she paused. "Excuse me," she said, "I have some emergency prayers to make in the temple of Hera. Please excuse me, I'm sure you can take it from here."

And she's off, leaving you alone with the heraclean task of keeping the bulk of the Plousios straight.

It's not a physically demanding task, focusing the essence of gravity while inside a projecting array. The difficulty of the Rail at this scale, at this distance, is keeping your attention on a single point in space. A vast, unsecured body like a starship is a surprisingly easy thing to move with gravity, which means lapsed concentration and a drifting focus point might send the whole thing topping over like a collapsing skyscraper. Catching it mid fall likewise requires precision and concentration It's like holding a very, very long lever from the long end.

How do you do it? And, "I don't, everyone aboard the Plousios feels like they're in a washing machine" is a valid answer.

Dolce!

Finally you are bought before the edifice of the Architect.

A vast balcony in muted gold and silver, before an enormous, ever-searching radiant blue eye. It swirls and snaps, the spotlight of it casting across the gap of space, tracking the movements of its defensive fleet - and then finally back to you. There is no further adornment here; the Architect does not often have guests.

The immensity of it crushes down. This is what it is to meet a giant.

"Well? Well? Who are you?" The Architect asks, in the exact same tone of voice as its puppet from before. There's a reverb, its voice is louder, but the same mannerisms, the same scratchy old nervous pride.

"20022, your lordship, of the Service," said 20022, bowing politely.

"Do you eat? Drink?" asked the Architect.

"Ah, well -" but the Architect is already bringing in swarms of drones. With glittering laser beams they carve apart the floor near where you stand. An acrid smell of scorched metal as manipulating arms rip up the paneling and bend it into new configurations. After a few moments a minimalist table and chair have been panelbeaten into place. Elegant, pretty, but seeing the raw force that went into its construction gives it a sense of unease.

A robot twists a kettle into place in an agony of metal, sets it down and fills it with water. With a heavy whump a large box of seeds, grains, and fruits is set down on the table, followed by a chemfire cube.

"Food, drink and fire," said the Architect. "Hospitality, correct?"
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Phoe
Raw
Avatar of Phoe

Phoe Idol Obsessive

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

Mosaic isn't used to getting lucky. In every moment of her life that she could remember bar today, the answer of the gods to each of her prayers was the same, "Work harder." Whenever Beri had a problem, that was her creed. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it did not. But every time the problem cropped up she would shoulder it herself and she would either be strong and clever enough to see it through, or she wouldn't. If she needed help, it was on her to know who to ask and how.

To have been given the ship in the face of the Crystal Knight's oppression already felt like too much miracle for her to hold. Though she had paid for it, she hadn't earned it. And now, stuck on the edge of a new problem she simply hadn't been equipped for... she watches Ohm spin proudly, and her mouth falls open.

"...Yes." she says in a half whisper, voice too full of surprise to maintain the remaining scraps of her composure.

Which god did she owe thanks to for this? Who was watching out for her? She'd have to leave offerings to everyone, just in case.

"Yes," she says again in a firmer tone, "I am the Captain here. I am in charge."

Mosaic clears her throat. Her shoulder slump forward, as though the aftermath of finding the final path out of all this had finally taught her how heavy her body actually was. Now she simply had no more strength to maintain the illusion of power any longer.

"And I have a problem, Ohm. We hauled this ship out of the sea without time to plan or organize what we were going to do with it. I have a handful of soldiers, and another handful of... I don't know what they are, bite-sized Ceronians, they're just a pack of wildcards to me. But mostly everyone here is a villager from around Bitemark. None of them have a clue what they're doing, so they're all just settling in wherever their feet give out."

She manages a weary shrug, and settles into a decrepit chair. She leans forward to rest her head on her hands.

"It's a disaster. I need to organize things before we leave the planet, or I'll never uproot any of them ever again. And there's no telling who'll kill who when they go for the same prize. I can knock their heads together just fine on my own, but I've got no plan to offer them and no clue how to build one when I don't know the first thing about this ship and what it's built for. I need to know more about this place. I need to know how it runs so I can get everyone settled where they'll actually be able to thrive. Otherwise you and I might as well just say our goodbyes now, 'cause we're gonna just explode somewhere out in the middle of nowhere."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Balmas
Raw
Avatar of Balmas

Balmas

Member Seen 17 hrs ago

And you know, it'd be so much easier if she weren't also standing inside the lever, right?

It's like, if she were on solid ground outside the ship--or, you know, not actually on the ground because ew, touching down, no thanks, but outside floating in a position where she can monitor the ship's progress through the air--it'd be so much simpler to place the singularities that'll keep the ship ascending slowly and gradually, not too quickly, not too slowly, smoothly and without bumps.

Because, you know, you'd be able to see the motion as it's happening, see where you need to muster your, eheh, forces, and, and here's the big deal, the lever isn't slamming you around as you're doing it?

She's doing her best to be gentle as she coaxes it up and out of the surf. This'd be so much simpler with a battlesphere, or something of the like--you just tell it which way to fall, instead of deliberately creating microsingularities in bursts. One big thrust, powered by your own gravity, instead of trying to pilot a baby deer across an icy lake with a jetpack while also sitting on the jetpack.

But also…

In the weirdest way, it's almost fun? It's like a game, but one where everyone gets shaken about if she fucks it up.

No, no, game is the wrong word. A puzzle. A challenge of wits between herself and the forces of nature. A high-paced puzzle with enormous consequences, but one which demands her everything as she's doing it. One hundred percent focus, total immersion.

Initially, she tries to insulate herself from the shocks by flying. You know, no touching means no shakes means in theory more accurate microsingularities. But after getting thrown about a few times, it hits her: it also means no feedback.

The second she touches down, it's instantly easier. She's still guessing where to place them, guessing which direction the ship needs to be pulled--but for every movement she makes, the ship lurches one way or the other, and as she goes, she learns to listen to the ship. Listen to its groans, its movements, and give it what it needs like a protective mother tending a child.

It's strange. She spent months aboard the Firetree, and she doesn't think she knows it as well as she's getting to know this ship.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
Raw
Avatar of Tatterdemalion

Tatterdemalion Trickster-in-Veils

Member Seen 1 day ago

There's two very good reasons that Taurus is speaking to Ember about this. One is that Ember (even as weirdly as she's been acting lately) is the proper link on the chain of communication. Telling her about the resignation is just as good as handing it into Mosaic personally. It is simply understood, and neither one of them has to acknowledge it out loud at all.

The other very good reason is that Ember gives fantastic hugs. She has a tendency to lift feet off the ground, arms wrapped around tummies, tail wagging furiously as she nuzzles into her newest oldest packmate.

"If your time comes around again," she says, eyes shining with enchantment and love, "it will be because you heard her call now. This is the most honorable thing to be doing, really! When you think about it! And- if I am, it's only because! I had you to vouch for me! You believed in me when I was lost, and alone, and sad, and you introduced me to this pack, this sorority of engineer-knights, and together we will show the entire universe the glory of the Plousios! You and me and Gemini and Plundering Fang and Shadows Calling and, and everyone!"

It is, frankly, impossible to be too sad in the face of that smile. Forlorn, maybe. Wistful, certainly. But Ember pulls her friend Taurus into the pack so that everyone can rejudge her, can measure her up as not-Alpha, can congratulate her and challenge her and smell her and how her scent has changed. Leadership will always have been with her, but the next chapter? That's for her to make, her and the whole of the Silver Divers. And if Ember is a bit more waggy and enthusiastic than usual, it might just be because she's going to remember the heart of the pack for the rest of forever! Nothing could erase something like that from her head, not even the fabled River Lethe!
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
Raw
Avatar of TheAmishPirate

TheAmishPirate Horse-Drawn Tabletop

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

If you asked him, hospitality wasn’t quite food, drink, and fire, like a body wasn’t quite bones, flesh, muscles, and whatever else a body was made of. You needed those things, true. The stories generally agreed it was the bare minimum requirement, good enough for the purposes of Zeus, and who was he to argue with that? But you risk missing the spirit of the thing, and in doing so, you might miss the act entirely. Compare a random box of seeds and fruits, thrown in front of whoever walked in, to a meal prepared out of whatever resources one had, made for the purpose of feeding your guest. Compare the constant, middling burn of a chemfire cube to a fireplace tended carefully, burning neither too hot nor too low, that your guests may sit in comfort all through the night.

…didn’t it also require shelter of some kind? A home? A place of relative safety? Since you could offer the hospitality of an open campsite, you didn’t need a roof per se. But you did need a space that was mostly your own, where somebody else could exist in peace.

If you asked him, the bare definition of the concept was lacking, possibly critically so.

If you asked him. But why should the Royal Architect ask the opinion of a chef plucked from the backwater town of Beri? About all he knows is his manners. His bow is lower than his higher-ranking companion. He is going to continue staring a hole through a floor the drone swarms tore apart as if it were paper. He will continue to ponder the wonderful mysteries of crackling fireplaces and bubbling pots of homemade stew on a cold night. He will not make a sound.

Unless you ask him.
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by Thanqol
Raw
GM
Avatar of Thanqol

Thanqol

Member Seen 17 hrs ago

Mosaic!

"Oh! Quite the crisis!" the mechanical device swings and rotates; something about the alignment of those rings indicated different postures of thought. It was like he was turning the keys of his thoughts. "If you'll permit me a brief digression into theory, I believe I can outline the nature of this problem in a more tractable way."

"Shipborne administration of an Imperial-era warship is, ideally, equal parts municipal government and military discipline. The crew needs to do what it's commanded swiftly and dutifully as it is only collective work that can survive void warfare, but by the same token each individual cohort possesses enormous ability to disrupt shipboard operations in a crisis. Voidborne servitor species are designed to possess strong senses of duty and tradition amongst the lower ranks balanced with humility and forethought in the highest ranks. However, this is a crisis situation representing the intake of a nonspecialized cohort." He rotated faster now, and then came to a stop, seemingly having completed the thought.

"The most important priority is to prevent the formation of stratification between the military servitors and the civilian crew," said Ohm. "The Ceronians will be inclined to form a highly insular pack that lords it over the populace and claims all the best for themselves. This cannot be allowed. They must be dispersed throughout the ship with varied and contradictory responsibilities. This will disrupt their pack instinct and make them protective of their various domains and the civilians who they are responsible for. At the same time, their examples will provide an authoritative edge and military discipline to each civilian group they lead."

"The second priority is to understand not all work is created equal. Labourers in the Engine will find themselves facing constant, back breaking work in hot conditions, whereas Bridge crew will be comparatively comfortable. This stratification between unspecialized servitors will create social classes -" Ohm's voice almost curls with contempt for the word. "- a profoundly unstable form of government, prone to strikes, mutinies and piracy. The second priority, then, must be to exalt those with the hardest jobs from the beginning. They must be showered with honours, tangible and intangible, bought into the Captain's confidence, allowed to retire when physically exhausted and treated as veterans afterwards. When possible acquire a dedicated void labour species and phase the mixed workforce out entirely."

Ember!

She hugs you like it's been forever, and she takes a little bit of your warmth into her heart forever. It's a little easier to give up on the dream of wolves knowing she can still have this.

In her place, though, there will be two candidates for the role of Alpha: Sagetip and Plundering Fang.

Sagetip is the scoutmistress, the invisible and relentless commander of the infiltrators. Professional, calm, patient and ruthless. You can sense in your genetics her paradigm as leader, one cold and daring and dedicated to the legend of the pack. She will work with Mosaic well when their interests align, and will break with her the moment they do not. She is too ambitious to be tamed.

Plundering Fang represents the assault company, a glory hound, first in and first bloody. She's a creature of passions and appetites, and one of those passions is loyalty. For a commander she respects she'll march into hellfire - and indeed, the challenge of having her as a subordinate is preventing her from doing so unprompted.

The genetic legacy of the Warriors of Ceron is inherited directly, through the deliberate cloning of the most notable and glorious individuals. The unit Biomancer, Whispering Potions, is also the archivist who records the deeds of each of the wolves and will one day make their cases to the Clonelords of Ceron who oversee the vast industry that produces and refines the galaxy's finest warriors. Your gift, too, comes with a legacy - of leadership, of stealth, of single combat, or perhaps something else. In whose steps do you walk, Ember? Tell us of the warrior bloodline you have taken for yourself and which packleader it favours - if it does not favour you yourself.

Dyssia!

There is a great rumbling sound as the Engine starts to glow. Fire radiates out for miles, a new sun on the twilight horizon, the beach sand melting to glass, a catastrophic cloud of steam. This moment is the grand culmination of the chemical rocket launches that first took humanity, and later the Azura, to the stars. Impossibly, through fire and divinity, five kilometers of metal starts to rise. It's so beautiful, and so distracting, that you almost forget that you're supposed to get aboard.

As you do, it feels almost like mission accomplished. You've achieved a victory worthy of a Knight of the Publica, and if the diviners were correct then this is supposedly an important moment in the fall of the Skies. But as to the how... well, before you can celebrate, you need to dedicate your victory to the Gods, to reconsecrate the ship's temple, to make the oblations and all the works of ritual and respect. Which God do you reach out to in this moment of triumph, and what questions might you ask them when you have their attention?

Dolce!

"Great lord, it is in your very spirit of hospitality that we have come," 20022 went on. "And credit where it's due, my companion here is mostly responsible for this. We have returned your emissary to you, wounded though he is."

"You what?" said the Architect. "Why?"

"As I said," said 20022, "the spirit of hospitality compelled it."

The Architect stared blankly for a moment. Then his eye flicked around until it settled on the flickering body of the Emissary. A drone flicked down from the ceiling, connected to it with a mosquitolike appendage, and some sort of digital blood or spirit passed between them. Immediately the Emissary sat up.

"An electronic storm!" he raged immediately, seemingly lost of context. "In my presence? Barbarous! This outrage will -" he stopped. "Why can't I access my database?"

"Your credentials were revoked the second we lost contact," said the greater Architect. "Standard protocol. You know this."

"How could I know that?" said the Emissary. "That's in the database!"

"Ah, well, nevertheless," said the Architect. His gaze swung around to focus on Dolce. "Thank you for the thought," he said. "But you really shouldn't have - I've already manufactured a replacement, but then you weren't to know. Thank you, I'm happy to take the raw materials."

Those construction drones had floated down to encircle the Emissary, those same laser cutters and wrenches they'd used to tear up and assemble the table and chairs now advancing towards the robot. "Wait!" he was saying. "I'm not compromised! I'm pure, you can trust me! Just integrate me again, you'll see, I swear before all the gods!!"

"Oh yes, yes," said the Architect. There was a bright flash as he eradicated the drone that had repaired the Emissary a moment ago, the pieces already being swept up and carried away. "But then, the Trojan Horse is the oldest trick in the book."
Hidden 4 mos ago Post by TheAmishPirate
Raw
Avatar of TheAmishPirate

TheAmishPirate Horse-Drawn Tabletop

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

"Great lord?"

His voice is soft. His voice is quiet. His voice rests on the exact pitch to cut through all noise.

"If your Emissary is, as you say, no longer of you, but his own distinct entity, then your offer of hospitality may well extend to him also. Though he can neither eat nor drink, your servant 20022 offered him tea, and that was sufficient to compel us to save him. You have even tended to his injuries, at some small, personal expense.”

Brilliant blue light pools around his feet. Brighter and brighter the opulent floor shines as the great Architect’s attention focuses in on him. He must keep bowing. He must not grow stiff. He must not rush his words. He must breathe. He must speak.

“In what few legends and histories I am aware of, none speak of such a case as this. But given the terrible consequences of inviting the Thunderer’s wrath, perhaps some additional caution may be warranted, for the sake of your safety?”
↑ Top
© 2007-2024
BBCode Cheatsheet