Recent Statuses

11 mos ago
Current Brace for defeat, but savor victory.
1 like
11 mos ago
In case you missed it: The skinny repeal is dead.
11 mos ago
it's probably a mistake to talk about politics here but HOLY SHIT DID ANYBODY ELSE JUST SEE THAT
1 like
12 mos ago
12 mos ago
I'll be okay.
1 like


Don't worry about it.

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OOC: I keep forgetting to come back here. Ah well. Sorry I'm late. Two returns for the price of one.

Jane stumbled slowly from the clothing store, gasping for breath like a wounded beast. He greedily gulped down air, holding his head in one hand and absently staring at the other. He fell to one knee and, with visible effort, pushed himself back up again. He opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was a low, strained moan.

"...What... just happened?" he eventually managed to get out. He didn't look at anyone in particular while he spoke, and seemed more to be talking at people than to them. "I... think I blacked out. What... happened? How long did I... What did... The last thing I remember, the pink-haired lady had gone missing? Been kidnapped? I... What's going on? What's the situation? I'm..."

Jane gasped again, and then sank slowly to his knees. His hand brushed against the hilt of his still-sheathed katana. He looked down at it and his breath caught in his throat. "...Oh God. Oh God. Okay. Wh... Who did I kill? I don't remember who I killed..."
The Conductor waited until RE1 lowered their head in submission, and then twisted their wrist to give the creature a thumbs-up. That done, they lowered their weapon, quickly turned on their heel and slunk back toward their supplies. They uncocked the weapon and carefully set it back in the wagon. That done, they leaned down and began to slowly reattach the tarp, slowly and methodically tying it down to each corner in turn.

But as they reached the third corner, they hesitated. They glanced back up at RE1 and... hesitated, for just a moment. They looked back up at the creature, lying wounded in the dirt, oozing green ichor from its gaping wound, and they stopped. The creature... whatever it was, seemed human enough. From a distance, anyway. It clearly posed a serious threat -- in The Conductor's experience, anything that tries to bite you is probably bad news -- but... seeing it lying there like that almost made them feel sorry for it. This thing was sad, and it was hurt, but more to the point, it was clearly defeated. The Conductor had clearly imparted the lesson that they were more dangerous than this thing. Being forced to dance with a gaping, seeping stomach wound tended to do that. So the worst that could happen was she would try to kill them again, and they were pretty sure they'd made it clear they were a bad idea.

"In a world where everyone has a Gift, what even counts as human any more?"

...damn it.

The Conductor sighed heavily, rested their hands on the edge of the wagon and tapped their foot. What did she want, they thought to themselves. Why had she attacked? She had lashed out with rows of fangs and tried to bite The Conductor, so... she was hungry. And, clearly, a meat-eater. Okay, that was simple enough. The Conductor carefully considered their options for a moment or two, then decided to take the stupid option anyway. They reached into the wagon and pulled out a piece of cured venison, wrapped in a sturdy beige cloth. They waved it in front of their mask for a moment, as if sniffing it, and then tossed it underhand towards RE1. It bounced once, and the cloth unraveled -- conveniently, keeping the meat on top of it rather than having it tumble into the dust. If asked, The Conductor would of course claim that was intentional.

There. They'd done their good deed for the day. Now they could put the tarp back on and keep moving.

The music kept going for a moment or two after that. The Conductor performed a heavy flourish and kick, seemingly only to emphasize how much fun they were having, and only at the end of it did they see exactly what they'd done to RE1. Upon seeing this, they stopped in their tracks and stared down at them for a moment. There were a few more verses to the song, but... no. No, this creature had had quite enough for one day. The Conductor clicked their heels together, stood up straight and snapped their fingers. The sound of a needle ripping across an old vinyl record rang out across the empty wastes, loud as a gunshot.

They took a long, steady breath and looked down at the broken creature in front of them. They tilted their head to the side curiously. The music had stopped now, and so had the compulsion. The only sounds left were the echoes of the vinyl scratch and a distant, howling wind. The Conductor let out a deep, ragged sigh and shook their head. They lifted their weapon briefly and trained it on RE1. With their other hand, they pointed down at her, then jerked their thumb back towards themselves, and then held out their thumb parallel to the ground. That done, they tilted their head to the side, as if to silently ask a question, and waggled their thumb ever so slightly up and down, seemingly unsure of whether it should go up or down.

Combined, these gestures all seemed to form into a very simple question: "We good?"

The Conductor stared intently at RE1 for what seemed like a very long moment. But after a moment or two, they slunk back over to the wagon. Their breathing steady, they calmly removed the tarp and set it aside. With the tarp gone, the contents of the wagon were revealed. It was mostly filled with seemingly random metal and electronic salvage, but there was also several days' worth of food and water in there, along with a not-inconsiderable amount of ammunition. The Conductor calmly reached down into the wagon and retrieved a well-worn handgun. They inhaled deeply and cocked the weapon, and as they did, an ascending whir rang out over the Ashlands.

RE1's heart pounded in her ears, growing steadily faster, except... no. That wasn't her heart.

And then, there was a yelp. Surprise? Pain? No, it was something else. It was a signifier that something was coming, like a punctuation mark at the beginning of a sentence, and come it did. A fast, pounding bassline swept over the experiment, replacing her drive to stand still. Standing still was the one thing she could no longer do. RE1 was swept away by a deep, intense feeling from the pit of her stomach, a feeling that commanded her... to dance. Yes, dance. Let the music claim her. How exactly she danced was up to her, but she knew it was the only thing she wanted to do, even if she didn't want to do it.

The Conductor, meanwhile, danced like no one was watching. They bounded along the dusty road, legs pounding, neck bobbing, keeping perfect time with the rhythm. They twirled their gun along their fingers, stood before the experiment and tilted their head down, giving the impression that they were smiling. And then, as before, they swept up close to RE1 and began to dance... not with her, per se, but closely enough and simply enough that perhaps she could be mimicked. It was almost like they were trying to teach her.

"As he came into the window, it was the sound of a crescendo.
He came into her apartment, he left the bloodstains on the carpet.
She ran underneath the table, he could see she was unable.
So she ran into the bedroom. She was struck down, it was her doom."

Then, suddenly, The Conductor slunk behind RE1 and began to slowly glide around her, weapon at the ready. Their head tilted from side to side curiously, and their mask still grinned its wicked grin at the experiment. Their manner hand changed, perhaps appropriately, to that of a beast stalking its prey.

"Annie, are you okay? Said Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?
Annie, are you okay? Said Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?
Annie, are you okay? Said Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?
Annie, are you okay? Said Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?"

The Conductor leapt backwards, between the wagon and the experiment, and began to dance a complex, intricate dance. They leaned, they bounced, they swept their body from side to side as if they were the only person in the Wasteland.

"Annie, are you okay? Will you tell us that you're okay?
There's a sign in the window that he struck you -- a crescendo, Annie!
He came into your apartment, left the bloodstains on the carpet,
and then you ran into the bedroom! You were struck down -- it was your doom!"

"Annie, are you okay? Said Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?
Annie, are you okay? Said Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?
Annie, are you okay? Said Annie, are you okay? Are you okay, Annie?"

And then, suddenly, The Conductor stopped in their tracks and struck a pose, dramatically pointing their finger at RE1, weapon at their side.

"You've been hit by... You've been hit by, a smooth criminal."

The Conductor passed the creature without incident. Of course, they would be a fool to not suspect an attack from strangers -- they'd been in their line of work too long not to. Still, they would be home soon, and they did not expect trouble. But not expecting trouble was a good way to get yourself hurt out here, they reminded themselves. After the incident back at the settlement, they should probably make sure nothing was going to happen. Just to be safe. And so they happened to glance over their shoulder at just the right time, and they saw RE1 preparing to spring into action. They were no stranger to oddness in their line of work, but that wasn't to say nothing surprised them anymore. But of course, RE1 couldn't tell whether they were surprised this time, because they were wearing a mask.

Regardless, they whirled around as RE1 leapt towards them. In a single fluid motion, they dropped the handle of the wagon, appeared to push off of it and sprang backwards, the creature's fangs whipping just past their arm as they nimbly dodged her opening strike. They landed in the dust a few feet away, feet spread wide, and struck a combat stance. They inhaled deeply and sharply, tasting the acrid tinge to the air. Had that been there before this... person... showed up? Perhaps. Regardless, it boded poorly. Not that The Conductor seemed to mind. In lieu of actually fighting, they threw out one hand, palm up, as if silently commanding the creature to stop.

And as they did so, there was the sound of something building up -- a quick, rising whir -- followed by the sound of several miscellaneous horns, playing a single note. It seemed to have burst forth from The Conductor themselves, as if by swinging out their hand as they did they'd thrown a musical chord at their assailant. Of course, a musical sting would make a poor weapon under normal circumstances. But here, now, it may as well have been the sting of some giant insect, infecting the creature with an intense paralytic. Well, no, that's not what it felt like. It wasn't that she couldn't move, it was that she was being held back -- bound by invisible chains, frozen in place. It was as though she didn't want to move, as though what she wanted to do was being overridden and replaced with a single order that repeated over and over in her subconscious mind as her heart pounded in her ears:

"Stay still."

The Conductor lowered their head, and their mask seemed to glared intensely at RE1, silently daring them to take another step.

Overreach rolled forward, smiling absently as he did so. He inhaled deeply through his nose, tilting his head back as he did so. He held his breath for a moment, and then exhaled sharply through his mouth. And then, without any kind of warning...

"There's a dull, faded haze on the Wasteland, there's a dull, faded haze on the Wasteland. The wand'rers walk on while the raiders are shy... and the shelters are climbing straight up to the sky!
"Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! I've got a beautiful feeling: everything's going my way!"

Overreach, objectively, was not a very good singer. He could carry a tune convincingly, and he did hit the right notes, but his tempo shifted back and forth as he sang. But no one could say he couldn't sing with conviction. It was only once he'd gotten a good ways into the town that he noticed he was being watched, as it were. He hesitated a moment and quickly built some mental barriers around the important parts of his mind. Whoever was looking into him, they'd probably already learned enough.

"...huh. I don't remember how the rest of that goes." He shrugged his shoulders and then continued rolling on. "Oh well. Anyway, it looks like we made it! Way to go, team!" He stretched his arms above his head and grunted softly, still rolling slightly forward with the momentum for a moment or two before continuing. "You folks wanna stick together a little longer, or should we split up, have everybody grab what they need and meet up somewhere later?"

I might be interested in joining this group, but I'm not sure if I'll have the time.
Naturally, Overreach was completely oblivious to the mental conversation that had happened before he rolled in. So instead of responding to that, he just scoffed and threw up his hands in mock frustration. "Oh, well, that's fine then. I'll just roll all the way back around the house and across the street then, shall I?"

With that, he let out a quick chuckle and crossed his arms. "Nah, it's fine, I'll manage. Unless somebody wants to carry me down those steps?" He chuckles again, then quickly turns around and rolls back out the way he came. "Seriously though, don't let me slow you down. I'll meet you over there. Just, y'know, see if you can leave the back door open for me, and I guess we'll roll out in the morning." He laughs softly and, with a twinkle in his eye, adds "Pun intended."

With that, Overreach turns around, rolls around the corner and grins widely, . "Well, this is going pretty well so far. A fireslinger, a flier, a telepath and a doctor. Yeah, this team seems pretty well qualified. We oughta hit town no problem. Plus, nobody knows what my Gift is, so they oughta not try anything for a day or two at least." Suddenly, he gripped the wheels in both hands and skidded to a stop. "Wait, no, telepath. Shit, what's the range on...?"

He hesitates for a moment, then glances briefly over his shoulder and rolls out into the backyard. "Uh, hey, lady? If you can hear me, and you really can see into my mind, could you maybe maybe not... tell people what my Gift is? I'd rather keep that a secret for as long as I can..." Overreach clears his throat awkwardly and keeps rolling.

@EchoicChamber @Hyro
Across the wastes, there came a clattering, an irregular takkatakkatak of rusted metal grinding against itself. The dusty road had gently merged with another in a simple Y, and down the other tributary there came another lone figure. They less pulled and more dragged a rusty child's wagon behind them. Its paint had long since faded, but it was still sturdy, and capable of carrying reasonably heavy loads. Fittingly, that was precisely what it was doing now. It was piled high with something or other, and covered with a stained burlap tarp. The wagon wasn't the greatest thing in the world, but it served its function effectively.

Pulling the wagon was a strange individual. One who, by the look of them, had next to no business being anywhere near the Ashlands. To the outside observer, the injured figure and this newcomer would seem a study in contrasts. Where the first figure was shabby and stained, the second was immaculately clean, and dressed almost like a general. Where the first was featureless and gray, the second was clad in bold, obvious primaries. Where the first shuffled, almost shambled, the second ambled carelessly, their feet gliding effortlessly through the Ash.

In fact, near the only thing that these two figures had in common was that they were headed the same direction.

The second figure tilted its head to the side to observe the first. They were wearing a concealing, tight-fitting mask that covered their entire head. It looked like it was made of some kind of latex that had been made to look like porcelain, and it was carved in the shape of a wide, deep smile. The second figure cocked their head to the side so that their smile, such as it was, caught the sunlight. The most obvious practical upshot of wearing a mask, of course, was that no one could tell whether they were actually smiling or not. Still, it appeared that they were, and so when the second figure raised their arm above their head and waved dramatically to the newfound traveling companion, there was an air of cordiality, even friendliness. They said nothing, but still, the air of friendliness was there. And if they were, in fact, unsettled by the facts that this person was clearly unprepared for the world they found themselves in, hurt and bleeding green, inhuman ichor...

...well, again, that was the advantage of wearing a mask.

Jane stomped off towards the clothing store, threw open the door with a loud bang and stepped inside. As soon as he stepped inside, however, he stopped in his tracks, turned on his heel and leaned out the door. "Well I could have told you that would happen!" he snapped, jabbing a single finger dramatically at Bendy. "I have been saying for years wizards cannot be trusted. Don't like them, never have. You gotta stay alert when you deal with wizards. But take it from me, any trouble they get you into is generally nothing an automated machine turret or a grenade launcher or even a decent bow-and-arrow can't solve! That sorcerer gives you trouble again, just call me! I know what I am doing!"

With that, Jane stomped back into the clothing store and began shoving his way through the various racks of clothing, looking for any sign of a struggle.

@BrokenPromise @Majoras End
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