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Dropped Stitch:

How rude of me to forget that Pink was having a religious experience, while the world turns on its misaligned axis.

Fiona does her duty both as trip sitter and as high priest and lays Pink back on the bed, arms over her head towards the foot of the bed and legs slightly spread, throwing a pillow getting in the way of them, so nothing is touching her.

She closes Pink’s eyes with an open hand, and takes a position at her side in the middle of the bed where she can reach every part without having to move. That’s about to be important.

Fiona draws an eccenric circle with a fingertip along Pink’s forehead, over and over, a calming gesture with a misaligned axis.

“But you are the station.” Fiona whispers. “See? Here are your thrusters,” she runs her other hand along Pink’s thighs and squeezes them, careful to keep always drawing that wobbling circle to center her on the thought of it, “and here is Selene with its airlocks and its portal to the outside,” and she’s sad her touch can’t linger here like she’d want it to, but Pink is too sensitive like this. She makes her case all the same, and the fingertips move on.

“And here’s industrious Hermes,” she drums her fingers on Aevum’s hips like hammers on anvil, “and loving Aphrodite,” looping lovehearts and cursive love notes on her stomach, “and ingenious Apollo”, she rakes sharp fingernails along Aevum’s ribs, “and wise Zeus,” a hand held to Aevum’s breastbone, over her heart, “and nurturing Gaea,” she massages Aevum’s throat like peristalsis, the contraction of muscles swallowing food. “Do you feel it all?”

Spin, spin, spin with the finger.

“How do you feel, Aevum?” Fiona asks. “Why do you think Pink wants to fix you?”

She knows this is a serious risk of a bad trip depending on how Pink thinks the station itself should feel right now, but she’s willing to take it to get Pink|Aevum more of what she wanted from this. Her plan if this starts hitting a sour note is to smooth out the circle and walk her back through what it feels like to be fixed before moving past, and through.
An Interruption in Service:

There is a stutter in reality. Can you feel it? Like the break in a train of thought, like trying to remember what you were just thinking about after you’ve just forgotten it.

This course of events moved like an elevator, upwards, and there has been a stall. For a brief moment the lights cut out, the elevator lurches, and the emergency lights glow. There’s an ominous minute and then, without explanation, it continues on to its destination. Still, something has changed. We can’t feel steady until the doors open again, in a way we didn’t question before.

The trains switch, the PAs broadcast to the station police this is an emergency response. And then:

The train for Hermes is stopped by police, the doors won’t open at the station. Everyone’s trapped and waiting to see what happens now.

The train for Apollo makes it through, waiting for the next round of trains to disperse them from here. Contingent on co-operation with the local cops that let them through so far - this one’s going according to plan.

The train for Ares has been stopped a hundred metres out from the station. The rail is open on both sides to a three story drop. On board, a fight’s breaking out on whether to evacuate the train here, or trust in the plan to try for the station where the next array of trains can come. Some people are looking at up to a 30km walk home from here.

The train for Zeus has made it through to the station, but it’s different here. All the passengers on board are getting booked, ID’d. There’s more than enough lawyers here to represent the group, to make sure this stays legal, but there’s more than enough cops to make a lot of civil rights violations happen before this could ever land in a courtroom.

The train for Gaea has been diverted to a smaller station for processing, just to get them out of the system. It’s not ideal, but unless something pokes the bear here, the police will probably send people home themselves as long as they get to be the ones to do it.

There is a lot to do and deal with here, impossible to be the saviour of all these situations; But nobody is expecting you to be. You are now a general who has committed to the battle, and your ability to manoeuvre your forces is limited. For most of the on-the-ground specifics you have rallied able captains and empowered them.

Wars are won on logistics.

In the cases where trains are blocked, get them onto the platform. In the cases where the trains are on the platform, the focus is to now get through your requisition to get the next trains organised to get people out of there.

Acting directly to requisition trains in the areas where police are acting against you will be a DC 6 Cover Identity check. Acting indirectly, though, depends on what your Mycroft play is going to be.

The police response is being handled at the local levels of forces right now - the cops aren’t co-ordinating inra-district, this isn’t a federal level thing yet, which is why all the reactions are so different. Individually they’re a lot weaker, far less hostile to November’s scheme here because they don’t see the whole of it.

It might be better to hold that up your sleeve for when the connection is made and the scale of what you’re doing is understood. It lets the pot simmer to a point that this is something that Mycroft would justifiably take over, and gives Knightly more of a chance to actually do something more incapacitating when it happens.

In cases of being outright blocked, Ares and Hermes, both were from a team outside the station who didn't hear the PA notice. That might be solvable by just figuring out how to make sure the IT department in those districts get the memo.

This is all very anodyne and technical, because this is the general’s eye view, the matter-of-fact of what’s happening. This is what you need to do to solve and fix this. This is the puzzle, this is the problem, this is what you can do about this. You still have PA access, your Crimson Tower cover isn't blown, and the police have bought this is at least a legitimate emergency action - they're just doing dumb commanding shit to feel like they're still in control of the emergency. Your trains have been stopped, but none were sent back.

Thousands of marginalised people are now trapped, in one way or another, at police barricades in a plan that would specifically antagonise them because of your plan.

In Zeus, a foxgirl has cops accessing her medical records to match her current visual ID to her old photo ID, and asks if the gene mods had anything to do with her three miscarriages. No, they came prior. No, that was not necessary for you to know or ask about.

In Ares, one of the doors of a back carriage has already been pried open and folks are deciding whether it’s worth the risk to chance the drop, because the emergency slides can’t be deployed until they know if the train’s going to stay stuck or not. They’d either be screwing over everyone else making their own break for it, or missing their only chance to not get got in this moment. A cyborg risks the jump, because he can see his apartment from here.

In Hermes the police are trying to ID people through windows for arrest warrants and terrorist charges before letting everyone else out. They’re acting like this is a trojan horse for the riot, like every person in there might be a live bomb. A SWAT team is gearing up to make individual arrests from the group.

They will have to deal with those problems, themselves. We are still in best case scenario territory here for these people getting home tonight, too.


The six gauge her up. This isn’t the fight they wanted, but they obviously came out wanting to fight. They puff their chests out and keep their distance with swagger, every one of the six think they could solo you, which means that this just isn’t fun.

“Look, lady, you’re not who we want trouble with tonight.” A large one shaped like an angry pumpkin says, a solid half-foot taller than Euna and salami fingers. The back of his neck looks like a roll of cheap hotdogs. “So go home, stay out of this.”

“There’s a lot of bad people out tonight, taking advantage of all this.” A stringier one in a tanktop says, a kerchief wrapped around his neck and dripping milk from the end. “You need someone to walk you home?”

Oh shit. Oh shit that’s not sarcastic, he actually means it, and the rest just swell their chests out more when he offers.

Oh shit they think they’re doing what you’re doing.

Chaka Zulu:

Something clicks. “You’re like a teenager.” She says it with the exact opposite inflection that Dudekov did. “That’s what’s messing me up. You’re an overwrite and a half, you ever heard that before, Spooky?”

It’s questionable if Spooky has, it’s a street word more than an online one, even if street people post too. It’s hotly debated which of its three popular meanings it started with; “Overwrite”, when you delete the old files on the system by putting your new ones in. Over Right, someone with a terminal case of being too smart for their own good. Also as in ‘It’s over, right?’, seeing the end of the old ways as inevitable - if not by their hand, then someone else’s.

Lost to time is that it was the first two simultaneously, and the third was a post-hoc observation of the people it applied to. Lenin and Stringer Bell were both overwrites - it’s a compliment applied with both sides of the hand.

“Now that, that I can fuck with. It was just, throwing me you thought you were stopping me jumping off a ledge. And I’m like, sister has to know that standing to take a bullet for someone isn’t the same as wanting to get shot, right? Now I’m like, maybe you just don’t.”

She pulls out a case, stops, and laughs. She flicks it open. “Present for you. Remember how Spearmint fucking told me off about how I was selling shit that could take out a helicopter, and then you took out that fucking helicopter in Zeus right after, because you are the most messed-up hypocrites on the station? That isn’t the kind of thing you should be worried about.”

Okay how the fuck did she know that was you?

The weapon is like a blunderbuss that ends in a toaster, a nixie tube barrel filled with green circuits and batteries. Despite all the electronics, it still has a bolt-action magazine feed which eats slugs of rare metals. “If they’re trying to kill you they’ll swarm you with faraday drones. This angry little shit, aka a vape-stick, aka an e-dragoon, fires charged particles with enough force to slice through that kind of protection and ionize everything underneath. Close quarters it’s a trench gun against security androids. Cone of fire, scatter.” She puts it back in its instrument case and leaves it at the door for Black. “The red shoelace on the case means it’s not for sale. That one’s from my personal collection.”

These aren’t made on Aevum anymore. It’s a twenty year old civil war era military grade piece of hardware, brought up from Earth, heirloom and antique. Irreplaceable.

It’s not the kind of gift she offers because she likes you. It’s tribute, fealty. Because if you’re not Mum, if you’re a kid just starting out, and this is what starting out looks like? This might as well be buying Apple stock in 1980, for her place in that revolution.


She sets Pink on the edge of the bed and wraps her from behind, arms around the top of her ribs and legs around her hips. Careful to squeeze her as much as she can without making Pink feel trapped, legs aching from the lack of her prosthetics. “I think I still have your Dad’s email from that Black Sun book. He seemed nice. Imagine if I told him; Are you sure that’s a not too much for a starting dose? You’ll stay with her the whole time? You’ll keep an eye on her internal temperature? You won’t overstimulate her, will you?” Fiona’s chin rests on Pink’s shoulder.

One hand moves low across her belly, thumb brushing gentle strokes just over where her belly button might be. It’s so much more intense than it should be, there’s no 20 minutes of waiting for something to happen with the LSD - there doesn’t need to be a digestion period. It’s incredible.

Everything is starting to be more as Pink’s brain winds up. So much of this can be explained like a human mania, where the brain starts operating past its safe limits and the changes struggle to fit in the conventional language it has for itself. I will use ‘brain’ as an analogous term for Pink, a useful inaccuracy.

Think how big your teeth feel against your tongue, and how small they feel in your hand. Because you have so many more nerves on your tongue than your hand they have to express in different analogous spaces to hold the same amount of information in your head.

It’s taking the romance out of this to describe it like that, but it’s useful to understand a common thread behind a lot of the experiences. When you feel like things get bigger when they’re closer, it’s because your visual brain is overclocked and having to make things larger to tell you how much more it’s learning than usual. It’s a fingertip learning what it feels like to be a tongue.

Colours are brighter, colours have their own music because there is no more language left in light that can express how they make you feel. Fingertips brushed along your stomach reach deep into your entire body again, as the feeling part of the brain has to borrow the unused empty spaces to fit it all, and they sing from the spillover of use.

But that’s just your external senses. The thing this amps up the most, the thing this really plays up, is the imagination. That rich inner sense expands, too, until the inside of your head is also a fingertip trying to become a tongue. This might be why Fiona suggested more hardware.

For now you are too big to fit into you. You expand past your own borders and move past them, out into the universe around you, pressing at the edges like oil spilling into water. The feeling of floating away is like having swum to the bottom of a very deep pool and, while still feeling the pressure all around you, kicking off as hard as you can from the bottom and soaring towards a distant surface you’ll never reach. This is what people inadequately describe as the feeling of ‘floating’.

This energy can become hallucinations, machine elves, angels, burning bushes. Dream logic telling your brain absolute facts, so that if you spill yoghurt on yourself you might become absolutely convinced you are the yoghurt you spilled on yourself, and pleasantly melt away into the floorboards.

What is Pink’s imagination when it is unfettered, unshackled, untethered, and projects outwards far beyond her boundaries?

Current DC for avoiding a bad trip: 0

Crisis Management:

Orange - DC 5 check to be able to process the information enough to take advantage of an opportunity when it reveals itself. Don’t worry about what that opportunity is yet - this is just to sort the wheat from the chaff in realtime on an information-saturated network.

As to the rest?

It’s just Aphrodite at the station, now. The other trains are about to switch to their real destinations from the fake ones, and everyone’s going to know what you did.

Nobody needs to do anything special to get into position for this, any more than they already have. But one thing I am interested in asking is;

What is November’s prediction for what’s about to happen, here at the last before the plan meets its true enemy?

The problem at this point is that riots don’t inspire situations for lone heroism that easily. A lot of the pins are crowds and cops and cameras and stuff where it’s like sticking your thumb into an arm wrestle.

Here’s one though, looters, they’re trying to stay away from the crowds because they’re taking advantage of attention being drawn away from them. Someone on the street just flagged it, still in progress, you can get there in time to stop it if you’re very quick because they’re trying to be thorough.

This is just property crime, you wouldn’t be saving anyone, the store’s probably insured. Except the owner’s scared, and they’re only doing this now because they know the cops are too busy to respond, and maybe they’ll keep doing it if nobody stops them tonight.

Five minutes further out, someone’s flagged a small gang going through her street, wearing hockey masks and carrying weapons taken from a construction site. Maybe five or six of them, not done anything yet, but ounce of prevention.

What’s the priority?


The tone confuses her, which frustrates her; she doesn’t like that she doesn’t get you, or your deal here. She’s doing her best to be grateful.

“You said after this is done. I counted lying low as part of that. I’d call that a holiday.” She grabs another crate, hefts it, the ammo inside jingles and they’re always the bloody heavy ones. “Since, yeah, I always knew the risk. If I wasn’t ready for it, I’d have run.” She basically throws this crate onto the pod and holds her back with an exhausted sigh when she’s done. “Fuck’s sake, wish that hoist hadn’t broken.”

“I mean you gotta get it though. You haven’t taken your back from a wall or your eyes off the nearest exit since you got in here, you know what getting caught with me means but you still showed up in this heat. And you’re not even a ‘check the doors’ kind of motherfucker, you’re checking if you can reach windows. Y’all sisters keep confusing me because y’all a big ol’ bunch of fuckin’ hypocrites, you’re obviously doing all the shit you keep trying to talk me out of, I don’t get it. I keep worrying you’re narcs but it’s more like you think you’re my Mother or something.”

She’s not planning on going with the cargo, she has people at the other side waiting for it, she’s staying here after it’s sent. She might still be useful for something, even with the train station emptied out.


“Done.” He says without hesitation. He’s in crisis mode, thinking is compromised so go with the heart and the gut. The whole point of being ‘a hero’ is not having to waste time questioning your own judgement in a situation like this, the brain’s entire job is just working out execution. “I’m happy to help pull some kindling out of the fire. Mycroft’s too busy to be distracted, but you can buy some time until she finds out. I think if you use the side channels I made last time instead you’ll get most people you need, and we made those specifically to avoid her. You should already have everything you need there.”

“I’ll keep an eye on it, call me back if you need more, six more calls waiting.” And the line switches.

It’s not much, but there’s not much more he could have done without alerting Mycroft anyway. It’s at least a pledge to react on your behalf later.

The Ares and Apollo trains arrive, fill and depart from Aphrodite. Hermes is almost here. The atmosphere on the station is tense and restless, two full platforms surrounded by the empty ones. It’s a strange feeling, like they aren’t two groups of people, but the last two individuals left alone in the place.

It’s different on the trains, the districts have atomized and the individuals have precipitated out of the solutions again. On the platform, though, the masses are still coherent. It is possible for a crowd to feel lonely and isolated, like this.

Hospital Cafeteria:

No, this is fine, this is good. And if you can tailgate into the staff cafeteria you could even be here a whole 24hr and nobody would bother you! Hold one of the wet floor signs scattered around, lean against a bathroom wall, and you could stand there for days before anyone questioned it.

God, that was almost a problem.


You can’t just make something that does hallucinations or gives weird vibes, or else Fiona could have put on some flashing lights, prog rock, a video about machine elves, and something that just maxed out the ‘happy’ feeling.

That’s like, VR headset drug trip, if you can experience it through your normal perception then it’s missing the point. If it’s using someone else’s description of what the experience conjured from their psyche, it’s missing the point.

This is more like the kind of thing that would get Fiona a guest spot in the break dome.

It’s easy to find android trippers online who did the first step for her, taking the chemical scan patterns of humans and making a digital equivalent, something Pope could suck out of the right kind of vape pen if he wanted to. This doesn’t work for a GAI because they’re not a human emulation, but it does still give her a digital format equivalent. It’s closer to something Pink could actually use.

Then it’s doing a lot of what Sophie did. Running different coloured lights across Pink’s pupils. Sampling touch, taste, hearing. Graphing out emotional reactions to prompts, asking her to imagine things and guessing what she imagines. Holding memories in her head, ideas. At the end of a careful twenty minutes of prompts and observation and triple-checks, Fiona’s content with the end result - a kind of VGA-HDMI adaptor for the highest-rated android-designed LSD to Pink. Even if her brain architecture is totally different, it should have the same effects on it, the same outcome, and that’s what matters here, right?

“Okay, so this is probably a bit scuffed.” Fiona admits. “It’s not going to be 1:1, mapping this was like trying to translate aramaic into esperanto. It means it’s going to be totally unique to you, though, which is cool.” She plugs one wrist into her laptop, internet driver temporarily uninstalled, and still staring at the freshly-compiled code on her screen offers the other fibre-optic tether to Pink. “Here’s your looking glass, Alice.”

I’m going to be honest there’s like, no easy way home from where you are and a mob outside but legging it is probably the lesser of two evils here, yeet. Just means York’s going to be seeing you took over the channel for a bit without him.


“That’s harder.” Fiona admits. “I think… Well. Actually. You did ask if people don’t use drugs to help with meditation, and they do.”

“Okay, so there is one thing I can think of. They first synthesized LSD trying to isolate the chemicals that gave people religious visions, and it’s really well documented. I can’t give you a real dose, but-” She takes her phone and checks Wikipedia. “Not completely understood, shit. Okay but I don’t need to know that I just need to know what it does. Dopamine, serotonin, what the fuck is default mode network activity…? Sorry, one sec, I’m usually better at this stuff, I had to learn a bit to rewire my brain after I fucked with it too much.” She taps the titanium plate at the base of her skull, hidden by her hair. “So I’ve had some practice with this kind of analogous conversion.”

“Oh! It’s the center for daydreaming and mind wandering stuff, okay, that makes complete sense. So this would be… right, okay. Shame you’re not an android-android or I’d just be able to check a forum for something, but we’ve got to go bespoke. Like, you don’t have digital dopamine, so I’ve got to work out how to replicate the outcome of messing with dopamine binding agents rather than replicating the input. Thanks to your friend who figured this out with Red, or I’d have no idea how to start.”

Okay.” She repeats more confidently, she seems to have worked something out. “Okay. So there’s two parts to this. The first is just the code, something that rises and falls like a real trip but it’s got an emergency stop button - very jealous of that one, by the way - and the second is just, if you want to get really wild with it we hook you up to a blank server rack, or lease out some cloud computing space, so you’ve really got somewhere to push yourself into with it.”

“But if you give me about, thirty minutes? I think I’d be able to make something that matches an LSD trip for you.” She reads off her phone again. “Side effects include; feelings of joy, euphoria, an increased appreciation for life, decreased anxiety, a sense of spiritual enlightenment, and a feeling of interconnectedness with the universe.” She grins. “Worth a try, right?”


She’s pushes the crate she’s carrying onto the cargo pod and pushes it right to the back, like someone organizing suitcases in a Greyhound bus. She’s about halfway done now, the left half of the pod full, the warehouse half-empty. Her tail whip-cracks as she leans back out, and she looks thoughtful.

“Hadn’t thought that far, yet. Wasn’t a point to it until now.” She admits. She’s still sobering up, but she is sobering up. She’s kept the rum bottle here, but she needs to jump to a high shelf to reach it. By the time she’s steady enough to make that jump, another swig won’t hurt so much. “Keep doing what I’m doing, I guess. Alice’s ex is a social worker who kept trying to get her thrown into invol to detransition her, last time it was a three night stay. No restraining order because he works with the cops and they just think he was doing his job. If she shot him while he was trying to take her, it’d be a clean case of resisting abduction instead. Habeas corpse his ass.”

She hefts another case and snorts. “I can’t keep watch all the time, we don’t got enough guys to check on her, and if she’s already at the ward then it’s a mandatory watch period. And you know what can happen to a girl like that in a place like that. All i can do is sell ‘em the fucking gun, can’t I? And if I stop selling the guns, then I just got to keep hearing about all the shit I could have done something about, and I can’t live with that.”

“It’s not about the fucking money, so don’t just try and buy me out, Spooky.” This is her nickname for Black, now. Spooky the Spook. “Find a better way to keep these girls safe, and I’d drop this like it’s hot.”

Crimson Tower:

The Femur is fucked. Again, Red made the right call staying in Aphrodite.

So, they’re not dealing with the crisis of the riot itself, no. But the tear gas is creating health issues, there are too many fires, the cops are shutting down train lines for emergency vehicles out of random acts of main character syndrome. They are busy.

It takes ten minutes for a haggard Knightly to take your call. “Make it good, Crimson?” He asks. “I’ve got three, pardon, four other calls waiting, I can’t really afford to be thinking about having enemies right now. I don’t care if you ran a forklift over my son, if you’re holding a bucket you’re a friend of mine.”


The Zeus train pulls into the station, packs, and leaves. Ares will be here in just a minute. Then it's just Hermes, Apollo and Aphrodite to go.

The team retrieves Zhang Ho from the store, and the bald medic immediately starts a saline drip going for her, even in the dark of the store you can see she's severely dehydrated - bad enough with the burns that it could have killed her, if you'd waited longer. The fight's moved on from this spot, steel toed boots and steel-shod hooves crunch broken glass and detritus in the street outside. There are sounds of police lines still moving around, hammering the ground with staves as they walk as a warning to scatter and disperse. It's getting dark, and they don't want to keep fighting if they don't have to.

Zhang's carried out in a stretcher like a palanquin across the shoulders of the ox bouncer and the bald medic as the satyr flies across the rooftops in front again, valkyries come to carry her home. She'll make it, from here.

“It’s all on camera, anyone can see what those guys were like. I think you’ll be fine, and I'll still be there Friday if you are!” Mew says after she finishes bowing back, with the reassuring innocence of someone who hasn’t been caught in the gears of the legal system before, and mistakes that experience as anxiety in Euna. “You weren’t just going to keep doing this all night until you got hurt or arrested, were you? You’ll be safe?”

She holds the glass door to her apartment open instead of going through it at that, tail swishing. Mew doesn’t realize she’s asked two completely unrelated questions, and there are already more map pins on Euna’s phone she could be heading towards instead.

Crimson Tower:

“You didn’t-” Corday starts, but then there’s a clatter as Ms Becerra’s wireless mouse loudly falls to the floor and she bends out of her chair to pick it up. When Corday looks over, the glare Ms Becerra is giving her is enough to startle her into thinking. “Right, sorry, I’m only used to people taking credit for my good ideas.”

I would take a beat here, Crimson Towers, to secure your position. You are about to do some things here that are questionably legal and incredibly dodgy on a very visible system.

There’s a few things you can opt to do - move your side team here to a more hidden area so it’s physically harder to stop you, spend a point of human terrain or similar figuring out and neutralizing the people here capable of stopping you, or use your org chart to blackmail someone in Zeus to kick this up the chain of command and get some official sanction, bring other colours in to support Red here. Or some other thing I’m not thinking of.

Either way, you are about to piss off the cops in every district simultaneously, and it'd be to your benefit to hold on to the saddle long enough to organize the second wave of transfer trains, you can't even fake that requisition until this wave has forced the issue. The Crimson Tower identity is not going to survive this, but the longer it holds up the longer two major government organizations are fighting each other instead of just you.


“I just want to see what happens when you make something for you.” She hugs Pink tight, lets her grip fall slack and pushes away again.

“Okay, so,” she says in that tone of I Am Bracing For A Hard Talk, “I also said I could debug you, but I was thinking… How do you feel about daemonology?”

“I was just thinking, with how Green works, and how Red’s been doing better lately, and worrying about Yellow - I’m not a brain surgeon, I can’t do that kind of subtle tweak. But I could put a partitioned subroutine in there for you.” She fidgets with her oil-stained fingers and looks away. “It’s how people used to do black magic, we can’t access our subconscious very well, but you can train yourself to imagine a little daemon who lives there, and the little daemon can read your subconscious and tell you what’s back there.”

“I was thinking about it before I knew meditation would do anything for you, so maybe it’d be overkill. But it’d give you a way to think thoughts that you wouldn’t be able to think normally, because of how you’re specialized. A second voice in your head. It wouldn’t sound like your own thoughts, so it’s not like it’s deceiving you, it’d be more like… having someone who can read the walkthrough for you while you’re holding the controller.”

She’s overselling it because she knows she’s prescribing a benevolent schizophrenia, the kind of thing that when it goes wrong in people ends with them blowing themselves up in the Nevada desert with L Ron Hubbard. It’s just that, well, the Zodiac engines are built different. And unlike people, Pink could just delete it if it goes bad.

A voice that converts what she’s not noticing about the world into poetry for her. A voice that can do guided meditation when she’s overwhelmed. A voice that can tell her why, when someone hurts her, it’s their fault and not hers. Hell, if she’s practicing willpower and selfishness, Fiona’s daemon could externalize whatever thoughts she’s suppressing so she can have a conversation with them instead of just not thinking about them. Like a White whose only existence was to be bullied and teased.

So, like White.

Train Gang:

It’s funny, ‘jumping the shark’ is a trope term that’s mutated from its original meaning to just when a show got too ridiculous, too absurd, referencing the Fonz on Happy Days literally jumping a shark. An important part of it is that it’s a high point, too, it’s the moment a show stops being able to beat itself. There is nowhere left for it to go from here.

Cyan jumps the cookie shark.

Everyone loves this, the addition of the character lurching about, the threat of the antagonist. It’s fun. But it’s so much fun that everyone loses the cohesion of the chant, the direction of their district leaders. It now just becomes a game of screaming blame to send the cookie cop elsewhere when they get to close, broken mob cries and random instructions all at once.

And that’s fun. Nobody sees the problem in the moment it happens, because it’s just a solid escalation of the bit. But without that cohesion there’s no way to keep it going, and no way to restart the bit when it’s over, and it’s just kind of the end of the game.

The bit peaked, the bit died.

It was probably going to get old soon anyway, and this was a good way to end it.

The first double-decker train arrives for Gaea, the doors open. People start boarding and finding seats even though it’s not going to leave yet, not for a while. Soon the train for Zeus, then Ares, then Apollo, then Hermes will come one by one, based on how far they’ll have to travel. Gaea leaves now, because it has the furthest if it’s going to arrive at the same time as everyone else.

And like the cookie detective, nobody thinks of it this way when it first happens - most are jealous that Gaea are the first to all get chairs right now, and the people packed in them are waving out the window as the train pulls from the station with all the green faces. But this was the last moment of complete community before the isolation of a lesser home than the one they’re coming from.

From fear, to triumph, to distraction, the Gaea train leaving is the first time it starts to sink in - Who actually wants to go home right now?

Who’s ready to not feel safe anymore?

It’s well past sunset now, deep into dusk. It will be true night when all these trains are due to arrive at their destinations - the real ones, not the fake ones they're currently aimed at.

Maybe it'd be less melancholy if Black hadn't made the right decision before, if there was tension and threat and a sense of real siege. This was supposed to be the hard part, wasn't it? The setup is still without a punchline. They're realizing they're not going to be together to face it, when it happens.


He wakes up in the hospital bed and, in the first moment he realizes where he is, slams the call nurse button tap-tap-tap-tap-tap. He doesn’t see Brown yet, or Junta, or much of anything really.

A blonde comes in pretty quick. Service is good here because it’s overstaffed for Junta’s sake. “Yes, Charlie? Mr York?”

“Mmgmfm.” He starts, stops, points to his mouth.

“Right, of course, I’ll get that for you.” She closes the antibacterial privacy curtain around his bed and puts on a pair of nylon gloves, so she can remove the cotton wadding from York’s mouth. He chews at nothing for a second and groans.

“They didn’t use opiates for me did you?” He asks, real fear in his voice. “Do you know?”

“I don’t know, sorry, but I can ask. We mostly use synthetic parblistadones now but,” she looks at him. “I’ll ask.”

He lets his head fall back to the pillow as she leaves. You can get clean from stuff like heroin or dilaudid, but it really is a lifelong thing. A dose of surgical anesthetic can trigger going through withdrawals from the beginning, all over again.

She’s back a minute later and slips behind his curtain. “There was a mix of remiparablistadone and hydromorphone, which is an opioid. There wasn’t anything in your record, do we need-”

“No, it’s, it’s, no.” York interrupts. “Just, uh. Nothing in my record, huh? Good, good to know.”

“I’ll have to make a note of you asking.” She says, half warning and half apologetic. “Confidential to you being here, but if you start having cardiac symptoms or refusing painkillers, that’s going to need to be passed on.” Or asking for more painkillers than you should, she doesn’t say, but he knows she’s thinking it.

“No it’s just, just,” he’s in too much pain to think of a lie as to why he’s asking, so he leaves it, “Can I have my phone?”

“It’s locked in the cupboard here with everything else you had on you, I can get it for you.”


He stays logged off the Anthrozine chat when he gets it though, Brown notices. Or anything really, he’s just clutching it like a security blanket - he can’t see through the curtain, but she can.
Crimson Tower:

Corday thinks, then shakes her head. “That would be like wearing camouflage in front of someone wearing thermal goggles wouldn’t it? They’re tracking the trains through the system, you’re telling them in analogue. They’re going to be flagged about the train routes the second the trains are mapped to their stations.”

She thinks, looks at her quiet colleague, and considers sticking her neck out for this. Ms Becerra shrugs at her with tired eyes, and that pushes Corday over an edge. “Okay, so there’s one way we can push that, if you’re okay with being fired. We can pick less controversial routes that have to map through the central stations, and then divert to them at the very last second when they’re already there. They’ll know it’s bullshit, but it’s going to be bullshit too late for them to stop.”

“You’d be forcing their hand into letting the rest of your trains through from there to get rid of everyone.” She says uncomfortably, looking to Ms Berecca for support which doesn’t come, Ms Berecca cares more about not getting fired than heroism it seems. Corday keeps going, anyway. “I… still think you should do the PA thing, too.” She looks over her shoulder to make sure nobody hears her, they’re all too busy with their own crisis calls - even in these tight cubicle spaces, they are. “Just, maybe say it’s an emergency? They’ll buy any shit you shovel them if you say it’s an emergency.”

Ms Becerra pretends she didn’t hear that. She’s not going to turn you in, no, because she doesn’t want her friend Corday getting fired, but it’s a clear sign you are now acting far outside your remit.


Hands, fingers, tendons; Fragile, intricate, delicate.

He he hehe he.

She does not stop smiling for a single second she works on the arms, they always were her favourite parts.

And then, too soon for her own liking, she’s done. For Pink this has gone from feeling like a good massage to the feeling of shedding about eight or nine biological years.

“You’ve been very quiet.” Fiona says as she traces her fingertips on Pink’s palm - what’s meant to be a medical test to check for restored sensitivity, made sweet by how she’s sketching half-formed thoughts instead of simple shapes. “How are you feeling?”

Thank you for letting me, she scribbles with a fingertip just below Pink’s thumb.

Train Station Gang:

The train station forms a rainbow from its crowds, each district in its own colour. The pink of Aphrodite are waiting their turn at the end since this is already their central station, they’ll have to go out last on their own trains once the first batch headed for other districts is cleared off from the platforms.

That’s it. They’re divvied up and they’re making games of it while they wait for their trains to arrive, some already inbound. Some bright spark has figured out how to jump into the offices and set up the electronic billboards, showing each platform when their commissioned train is due to arrive - the only train on the billboards, a single lonely bar with an estimated time of arrival.

And then; Gaea erupts.

“Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar? We think it was…” There’s quiet as Leon the kilted anteater is hoisted over the shoulders of the crowd to yell; “ARES!” And then, in unison, the Gaea crowd chants; “Ares stole the cookie from the cookie jar!”

There’s a moment of silence. Then Ares immediately gets in on this, they couldn’t have picked a better district to inflict this on, the Ares idiots have been looking for an excuse to barrack their lungs out ever since they didn’t get into a good scrap. “WHO, ME? COULDN’T BE!”

“Then who?”

The Ultimate Werewolf doesn’t wait for the hoist, he jumps on one of his fellow teamleaders heads with arms folded across his chest. “I think it was Hermes.”


It’s a clever little get, to throw up team leaders for this, otherwise the crowd’s confused guessing would spoil the game. It doesn’t matter who’s chosen next, after all, just that the choice is fast and clear.

You want to get in on this, White and Cyan?

This is the most utilitarian part of the maintenance, the one that’s only interesting from the mechanical puzzle solving of it. Most of the motors in bodies like these are centralized, and that goes for humans as well. The torque in your fingers is carried all the way down from your shoulders and biceps. It’s mechanically impossible to get the grip strength you’d need out of your hands from the muscles that would fit in your hands.

Batteries take up nearly as much space as a full digestive system would, motors most of the rest. Coolant pumps in place of a circulatory system, filters and chemical sensors in place of a larger stomach and lungs. And- Huh. Reagents need restocking soon. It’s like seeing the low ink warning in an expensive laser printer, you know it can happen but it’s not something you ever think about.

The problem is, like laser printers, by the time it happens you tend not to be able to buy the cartridge anymore. You’re expected to just update to a new model of printer with a new model of cartridge. The maintenance will help a lot for now, but it’s a sign that parts of these bodies are getting towards their expected end-of-life anyway.

The holdout colours that don’t want to change that much - what are their choices going to be when they start losing their senses of taste and smell? Just… bootleg jerry-rig the reagents themselves, to commit?

All she can really do now is oil and lubricate the friction surfaces, wrap some bright pink electrical tape around the parts of wires getting pinched and caught to give them a bit of protection, and write a little quote on Pink’s heart motor in a glitter gel pen she pulls from the bedside table.

She’s tempted by an Oscar Wilde quote, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live. It is asking others to live as one wishes,” but that’s something she just wants to tell Pink, not something she thinks she should carry over her heart where no one else can see it.

This little heart of mine,
I’m going to make it shine


Just the arms, now.

Train Gang:

Chaka can load her guns from the disused station she’s at - Crimson Tower sits at the ‘disused’ control switch, and it’s still got the hardware there for loading and unloading. It’ll mitigate the problems, will prevent needing to get her in front of the crowd. Again, the real issue is if the train gets intercepted under your orders or credentials.

Chaka would also probably appreciate someone taking one of those trains down to help her with the lifting, it’d help her move quicker, but you don’t need to do that. She’s a strong independent panther who can pack her own shit and come find you on her own, when she’s done.

[Whether the carriage gets intercepted will be a heat roll, made at the end of the operation, with a difficulty based on how much attention Crimson Tower draws to herself with her operations here.]

The first of the Ares vanguard is starting to filter through the turn-off streets all across the block, the more aggro of the forward scouts fanning out and checking everyone’s routes. They wave to the station before turning back to check the streets again. No, there was no resistance here that actually resisted, your numbers were too great and too organized for that, and your plan to draw aggro too effective.

… but the riots weren’t the real crisis and the real enemy here, were they? This was always your opportunity, against your real declared enemy; the state. Seizing the trains for real will be their territory.

The cops have left, and taken their comms line with them. The station is yours for now, pre-packaged with a faraday cage and some other nice defensive goodies the cops couldn’t take with them. Now there are two things to do here;


You just need main public trains for this, now, you’ve got a strong enough decentralized system that people can be sent to the other district central stations and still be organized enough to get onto the right trains fast enough from there. And Fiona’s gotten you most of your address list of what trains they’ll need from there.

That’s easy, that makes this part much faster, this is pure payoff from making right decisions earlier.

Corday gets on it, but she drops the pencil she’s twirling in her fingers, catches it before it hits ground. “Shit. Uh. Sorry. I’m just thinking, what do we do if the cops at the receiving stations are the same was the ones were here? How are you going to stop them from sending things back? We can’t even co-ordinate with the district team right now.”


The decentralized organization structure means it’s going to be about twenty minutes to get everyone into the station off the streets, then fifteen minute intervals loading trains out - just in terms of getting trains here from further and further away, the trains you can use and the platforms you have access to are both big enough makes to make loading times negligible.

Ninety minutes, of fewer and fewer defenders. But with the nearest cops about half an hour away, counter-protestors in the area moving in the opposite direction, and the group from Apollo sharing the scouting information that confirms it…

Everyone’s started having fun again?

LIke, this is just thrilling now. The danger is far enough away that people feel safe from it even though they’re aware of it: The rollercoaster has the safety bars in place, and the crowd has actors and performers and its party clothes on.

This is starting to feel like a game, an adventure to most of them. A story they’ll get to tell later with a happy ending.

How do you feel about that?


‘Mew’ keeps pace just one step out and to the front of Euna, keeping her close to her weaker side. “No, Sabom, nothing good has,” she laughs “Maybe that’s why everyone’s so pent up? There’s nothing good at the moment. Chelsea Windsor’s new album since since she failed out of marketing is soulless, the Snow Owls new thing was showtunes, and Leviticus is doing love songs for teenagers which is worse.”

“Thanks, though.” Her tail swishes left when she steps with her right foot, right when she steps with her left, a hypnotic constant crossover. “I’ll be fine, really, this stuff isn’t even for me, it’s for my roommate. He can get his own milk and Scorchers™ next time. We just didn’t think it was going to be this bad.”

And that’s really it, she’s not that scared, and she’s questioning her sense of judgement because of it - it’s already gotten her into danger once today.

Hidden from Euna, walking ahead as she is, a shadow flashes across the cat-android’s face. Nothing’s happened on the short walk home, even as you take the turnoff at the end of her street. Does she feel like an idiot for wasting Euna’s time over nothing, or is she an idiot for still feeling like this is all nothing?

“Do you think you’d be getting into fights like that, if you weren’t looking for them?”


“What?” Eli asks.

“She hasn’t told me what her plan is. Which means she thinks it’s brilliant, but I’d say ‘no’ to it if she told me, so she won’t give me the opportunity to refuse it.”

“So just say no, then?” Eli says. “Or just, make her tell you.”

“No.” Crystal shakes her head. “No, I’d like to trust her on this. Have faith, as it were.”

“Who are you talking to, anyway?”

“The state religion.” Crystal finds the Egyptian judgement venue of the exhibition. “Here, I think. Your promised interview. I appreciate your help, today, I feel like I’ve rather strung you along.”

“Lady Unicorn, ma’am, Princess,” Eli snaps a quick candid picture of Crystal with the camera around their neck, “I was actually going to ask if you didn’t mind me shadowing you the rest of today. I could say it’s been fun, but really I feel like I’m learning a lot and, uh, I live out of a van so…”

“A van, out in this?” Crystal blinks. “You have one of the rooms we arranged for this last night don’t you?”

“Yeah, yeah, see,” Eli takes another picture of the Egyptology exhibit as they enter, then heads into the middle of the blackened audience area inside. They set a camera up on a tripod and aims it at the raised dias at the end of the corkscrew walkway, where the judgements happened and where the interview will happen and sets it on remote. “So I’m going to be better off here anyway, so just keep giving me stuff to do, I owe you.”

“I feel like we both feel like we are getting far more than we are giving here.” Crystal considers shortcutting the walkway, but there isn’t one, so she commits to going the long way around after all while Eli sets up their camera and plays with lenses. “So rather than argue with you about it, I’ll just say I’m grateful. Where do you want me?”

“You want to be getting judged, or do you want to be one of the Gods?”

“Judged, obviously.”

“Well, there you go.” Eli throws the rest of the camera stuff up on the raised dias at Crystal’s feet and takes a few steps back. They take a running, flying leap at the platform and then scrabble up onto it like a sewer rat dragging itself onto dry concrete. They brush themselves off and collect the gear. “Am I feeling boy or girl mode today?”

“Masc, I think, please.” Crystal laughs. “I’ve had enough trouble with girls today.”

“Guy troubles it is,” he says, pulling the braid out of his hair and letting it fall in messy tangled curls, “Alright, let me get this one from the other angle. I’m recording this, but it’s just to get good stills. Don’t worry about looking good for video, it’ll be a written article.”

“You can use the video if you like,” Crystal glances down to the first camera. “Just… is it unethical to ask that I see the edit first, to see what it’s like?”

“Probably, but we don’t give a fuck.” Eli grins.


She doesn’t ask any questions, yet. If Pink’s not communicating then there are a dozen ways she could show alarm with the systems that are definitely online and working, so if she’s quiet then… well a fisherman shouldn’t scare away the fish.

Instead she unbolts the arms from the torso and begins working on it, as quietly as she can.

The ‘flesh’ is more and less complicated here. It doesn’t need to move like the face does, it’s more about the fit and weight of it. Biological tissue isn’t rigid, but it’s not liquid either, it’s like layers of hard gelatin tethered together sliding across each other. You can’t replicate this with a thin shell, so Pink’s casing is a thick slab woven through with electromagnetic netting, for the senses and nerves. It also makes for an effective heat sink medium, and radiates the heat like a body would. It’s still warm like a body should be.

Fiona chews her cheek for a moment, trying hard not to giggle at the idea that bitch Hazel doesn’t think she knows how to appreciate things like this, just because the pixie thinks everything has to be like this. No, Fiona is careful as she finds the seams and opens the casing, working just with her fingertips. This part can be done without tools, legislation for medical and safety reasons.

Different torsos, different build qualities, put more and less emphasis on this. Some do just go for the straight metal robot vibe, like the guy you found doing freight inspections smuggling Goat to Thrones. Others, like the android that K.O’d the eugenicist at the Lutherans meeting, are so realistic it’s indistinguishable from the “real” thing. Where does Pink fall on this spectrum?

Where would she want to fall on this spectrum?

This doesn’t need to be a conscious thought, Pink doesn’t even need to know she thinks this. This is a question about her while she slowly wakes up.

Train Station Cops:

[November spends to succeed a DC: 4 disguise check]

It’s hard to tell the voices apart, who’s speaking from the outside. The conversation around the poker table bleeds the voices together, confuses the speakers.

“That doesn’t sound like the Captain.”

“It’s his voice.”

“Yeah but, fuck, guess it’s never been like this, has it?”

“You think he’s serious?”

“Sounds serious.”

“Jesus, I don’t want to move.”

“You want to get reassigned to Hermes?”

“Christ, no, that’d be worse than book clubs.”

“Would it? At least there’s shit to do in Hermes.”

“I liked Desert, does that count? That’s anarchist, right?”

“Fuck, I reckon I could debate those little shits and teach them something about the world, anyway.”

“They don’t let you, you’ve got to shut the fuck up and fit in, sit on your fucking hands kind of deal.”

“Shit, really?”

“Alright, train’s in five, we move in eight.”

But at least they’re moving, and it’ll take the march longer than eight minutes to get here.

One extra problem, though. That got these guys to move but they’re right, they’re still the official exit route that everyone else knows about. If a fight goes bad for the cops around here, this is where they’re going to retreat to and find you blocking their escape.

Crimson has an official line of communication with the police to tell them what’s happened. Cyan has this hacked comm while it’s up.

Alternatively, you might just want to not give a warning to the higher ups what you’ve actually done here and hope you can get everyone through the station before anything comes up. This might be better done in stealth.

Also, what’s the plan with Chaka, here? Not to rush that, it’s just that if cops are getting moved around in all this, her whole situation is an active landmine.


The march isn’t meeting any resistance, everything is going well. Kind of.

Okay, so you might have a problem. The reason this is going so well is because everyone pulled everything in this area towards Zhang Ho and the Echidna rallies, in the opposite direction. But that’s gone bad and gotten messy. The problem with using agitators like this is that you’ve guaranteed the location by guaranteeing the escalation, the situation’s hotter than it would have been.

Your extraction team hasn’t gotten Zhang yet. The satyr’s calling in from a church belltower, getting an aerial view as they move in. The cops are moving in overwhelming numbers here, at least two hundred, enough to absolutely shatter and scatter both groups.

If this goes quickly, it creates two problems:
  • The cops will be finished quickly, and they’ll have another target to move on to.
  • When the transphobes scatter, if they run across the train station group they’ll act as a nucleation site for reinforcements.

This isn’t a guarantee. Again, they’re about thirty minutes away on foot, more than that if they move as a crowd. But there might still be things you can do here, now, that make the spillover less likely. Make this less likely to become your problem in an hour or so.

If you think the risk is worth the time, effort and resources, anyway.


Diaochan 3-12, or Diaochan Me-and-You, is a properly committed catgirl. Not just the expressive ears, but muzzle, whiskers, fur and swishy emotive tail. It’s pretty unlikely that these guys were actually trying to hurt her, all that expressiveness and difference makes her someone that’s fun for guys like this to scare.

Not to say you took this too far, Euna. I just mean they weren’t in a rush to break down the doors or anything, these are also the kind of guys to take things too far escalating a ‘joke’ like this. It’s kind of the problem, the world isn’t so awful that it’s just got guys like this set out to hurt Diaochan as their objective, if you asked them they’d say they weren’t gunna do nuffin’ to her, and they’d mean it.

It’s just, Diaochan can’t know that, and she can’t protect herself if they change their mind, and guys like this have a habit of changing their mind little by little as the bit drags on and invites escalation. The outcome to Diaochan is the same whether by malice or by ‘yes, and’.

“Thank you, Sabom,” Diaochan does a quick, grateful bow as she tries to plug the door back in on her side, and the old guy working the counter hits a button for her. He gives a two fingered wave of his own to Euna after doing it. “No, I can-” she starts, stops. “Could you walk me? It’s five minutes from here.”

It’s so good to have you here, you always know how to draw a crowd.

A lot of the common map apps have pins you can put down, like how Fiona marked a below-ground shielded play area filled with lego. Euna could have placed that for the gym, but she can also just… answer some of them.

People flagging turning points, people caught out. One’s just a guy asking for milk from the store since he can’t get ouf ot her apartment and his baby’s hungry. Current top comment is “just learn to breastfeed, idiot” - he’s reacted to it with a laugh emote, so it’s probably a friend and not a random asshole.

Still, while Euna’s gym isn’t a center of protest, it is a center for the kind of people who are going to be singled out for this. Non-human presenting androids are targeted even more than organic furries, for that same intersectional logic that makes it harder to be BIPOC and queer than just one or the other.

If Euna wants to go out into this, that gives her a social media feed for people she can go to and liberate. Because it’s okay if people are asking for help, right?

Sure, this one, this android that comes to the gym every Friday morning before work, barricaded in a convenience store just two blocks away when a group of about three protestors found her and pinned her in there. Probably just wants someone to distract them so she can sneak away through a staff door or something, but they don’t say you can’t solve this by doing a flying spin-kick through all three at once.


Alright, core, head, adaptor plugged into outlet. This should give a lot of senses back, and speech. Still, the way Pink just toggled again is giving her Thoughts.

“I’m going to patch some of these drivers, while you’re disconnected. Since, internet.” She says. “They’ll download but they won’t install until you’re connected again. So you’re not going to connect all at once, it’ll be like slowly waking up, like you said. Probably sound first, then voice, then feeling, sight last. It’ll take about two minutes to go through everything.”

She doesn’t need to do this, and if she was going to do this she could keep Pink hooked up to the phone as well while she did. But sometimes you stand at the edge of the pool because you want someone to push you in.


“Diogenes, a moment?” She asks, and pulls at the robe so it goes over the back of Eli’s head like a wimple. It’s not particularly nun-ish but then again, neither is Eli. “Good enough. Forgive me Sister, for I am about to sin.”

“Hot.” Eli says and makes a solemn sign of the cross over themselves, pauses. “You know I’m Jewish, right?”

“I believe in a more literal kind of higher power, myself.” Crystal pushes the temporary bundle of wimple back.

“Do you mean ‘myself’ as in, you’re the higher power you believe in, or-”

Crystal: I would have her every fantasy met, her every indulgence, her time with my every competitor, so at the end of it she would come back to me and tell me how I was better.
Crystal: That every moment of weakness I feel about someone else, she would have something ready to say about how I was superior
Crystal: I would have her know there were none better, just so she could tell me
Crystal: And I would get to that point without any of the middle steps, where each foray out into experience is a risk that this time is the one I am inferior.
Crystal: All without being willing to sacrifice an ounce of who I am to better suit her. I have so far been lucky the person I want to be is the person she wants to be with, but if that were to change I’m not sure I could change with it.

“I am included in what I mean, yes.” Crystal says. “You can write that one down, too.”

Cyan and Red:

The poker table plays on.

“You think they’re actually going to get IT on us?”

“Probably.” The comms cop shrugs. “Don’t know how they’re planning on getting everyone else to change their routes at the last minute, though. Whistler is a stupid call, smaller and easier to bottleneck, it’s two lines instead of eight. Just ride it out and wait for someone more senior to figure out we’re getting bad orders, don’t bother arguing. Yes sir, no sir, three of a kind sir, eat shi- Huxley you do not have a full house, you wanker, stop lying. Crap.”

(Don't you just hate it when a pair drops in the flop and you have a third card, but they had a pair in hand and got their third on the river? Bullshit.)

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