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Writing is a good way to let your alter-egos have a run at the controls.

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Meru & Gilead

As the huddled buildings and voices of Ulysses fell away behind him, the beautiful desolation of the American West opened up, seemingly endless stretches of inhospitable desert and untarnished blue sky. Plum rocked gently beneath Gilead’s feet, sinewed pistons rippling beneath her shimmering pale coat as they tore across the horizon. Samuel was at his best here; perched expertly upon the saddle, legs absorbing the shock, body focused and balanced upon the mare as if they were the same entity.

The frontiersman turned his visage downward, meeting the wild eyes of Meru, the smaller beast keeping an uncannily natural pace with the powerful quarter horse. The mad grin plastered on the creature’s muzzle sent a cold trickle of sweat run down Gilead’s spine, the taste of copper filling his mouth, swirls of disjointed images cascading through mind’s eye. Strange clouds threatened in the distance, as apprehension wriggled about in Gilead’s mind, but it was not born of fear. It came from somewhere else. A place he could not reach. A place perhaps no one was meant to.

It seemed Ulysses was attracting the misplaced and the bold from every walk of life, like moths to flame. He stole another glance at Meru. Or were they lambs to the slaughter?

So enraptured by thought, he scarcely noticed the woman calling out to him before he was nearly on top of her. Plum skidded to a stop, whinnying bitterly at their abrupt change of pace. The mare was a demoness of speed trapped in an equine form, Gilead had often mused. Idly he stroked Plum’s neck, fingers running over the punctuated circular scarring which ran down its length, cooing in the mare’s ear as he circled the undertaker.

Gilead cast an ugly grin at the woman, tipping the edge of his hat and coming to a halt just far enough from her vision to force her gaze to follow him away from the town. Though the significance of this was as amorphous as the intentions of the Coyote which coolly considered Sophia from his spot, planted firmly at the opposite outskirts of her peripheral.

“Izzat so?" Samuel squawked, "Must be yer lucky day, as it be just as ya say, Ms. Wallace.”

He craned across Plum’s neck toward the undertaker, cupping his hand to his mouth. Gilead’s voice slithered out in a ragged whisper. “Between yew and m’self, all money be green, but Meru & I 'ave suspicions yer got little interest in what ol’ Johnny Law has ta think bout dem poor Jefferson Farm, eh?”

He tapped his hawkish nose with a finger, silver eyes twinkling keenly.

Meru took a few cautious steps forward, wordlessly scrutinizing her features for a moment before trotting further down the road, stopping several paces ahead to look back at them.

Gilead squirmed in his saddle, “Says company’ll crash our party afore long.”

Another moment hung in the air, the ghoulish man staring towards the town as if it was no longer there, a look that seemed to reach beyond realms, before snapping back to attend Sophia.

“Can ye ride?” He didn’t wait for a response, rearing Plum in a tight circle, the trio virtually disappearing in the cloud kicked up.

From the billowing folds his chalky voice erupted “Then show me!”
I'm working on my post. I've been working a ton since one of my coworkers has been sick. But I'm going to set extra time aside this evening to finish it up.

I'm really enjoying this character, and our cast, thus far. I'm excited to get into the meat of the adventure with y'all folks.
Ahanu The Ravenous One

~You hear that? Handpicked. By the headmaster himself.~

As if in response a brutal chill swept around the group, dead leaves scraping against the concrete like the giggling of the damned. Ahanu did his best to steal the skepticism broiling beneath his consciousness, though he felt his eyes narrow.

~How long, do you suppose your leash is on this one, Ahanu? They have hellspawn holding your chains, the very energies we have been sent to inspect. Seems an obvious conflict of interest, no?~
Such pointless games. Give in to me.

The arrival of the young wizard assigned to them caused a flurry of activity, rendering the others oblivious to the tremor which rode down Ahanu’s left arm, rattling the enchanted heavy stone bracer against his tanned skin. The lingering magics of this place felt like a great weight strapped to his chest, dragging his will to the pits of his stomach, an endless abyss from which he would never return.

~There is no trust to be found here, Ahanu, look upon how they see you. They let demons run free, but treat you as a monster.~

Ahanu remained statuesque, though a nagging sense of foreboding tugged at the base of his skull. The combination of the mission statement, the dark aura of this place and the strange assembly which stood before him spoke of desperation. A desperation to avoid the end. Not of the end of his story, which would be some kind of welcome relief, but the end of all that was known. This journey they were about to embark on sought to undo them all, cruel tendrils of fate reaching across the cosmos, across realms, to entangle them for their interference.

~We have nothing to fear.~
But they do.

The eager chants of the bobblings rallying towards the derelict home snapped Ahanu from the insidious voice known only to him. Taking a moment to focus his breathing, shaking the scent of cigarette from his nostrils, Ahanu followed to two women into the house.


A home. Or it had once been. Though there were odd shapes burnt into counters and carpet, terrible things spilling from the refrigerator, though heavy dust-riddled webs cluttered every nook and corner, there were still signs. Forgotten family photos lined the walls, a diploma lay smashed, crookedly dropped on the mantle where it fell. A teddy bear and a blanket sat upended on the ugly stained couch in the living room.

Ahanu was immediately struck by the sadness which seemed trapped within the very air they all breathed. This person, whoever they had been, was no evil mastermind. They were forlorn, and lonesome, likely misguided in their notions of savior. A false prophet who would be their undoing.

A tale told a thousand times.

~Your story.~
Or is it mine?

“Can you hear that which was not left behind?” Ahanu wondered in reply to Fei’s observation. “Sometimes…” Ahanu’s voice lowered, as if the words themselves bore the burden. “Sometimes a vessel loses their voice. As if they were not there at all.”

He reached a hand toward the nearest photo, stroking the frame of one which displayed a young woman with child. “A milk carton filled with orange juice no longer retains its identity, despite the form it wears…” He turned, his expression thoughtful.

“We’d likely benefit by investigating the woman who lived here. The ties she formed in life might clue us in to what we’re dealing with. It doesn’t appear she was began dabbling in the arcane until very recently… And where there is one novice, there are usually others, and a leader guiding them.” He nodded towards the bookshelf, lined with occult books and artifacts, pointing out a photo, newer than the others, of the same woman with stony eyed, skeletal man. “Those who seek to peer behind the veil rarely work alone.”

His eyes darted to the other members of the group, clearing his throat awkwardly. “...As I suppose we all know….”
Life was funny. Perhaps nowadays, the notion of an interventionist god plucking the strings of fate echoed hollow across a synthetic landscape which had cunningly replaced religion with corporations, a culture which swapped sermons for VR headsets.

But life was funny. Hell of a sense of humor.

The universe, the algorithms, Murphy's law, whatever you wished to call it, it had a way of keeping even the most competent schemer on their toes. This was one of those moments. A rude awakening where one was left with little to do besides tip their hat to whatever forces, whether cosmic or (more likely) terrestrial, had orchestrated such a colossal shitstorm as had been kicked up across the Trinity Districts of Ghajotia, Troia & Delcos.

Casio’s lips were creased into a hard frown. Video streaming crisply across his vision, crimson stained hands buried in the chest of his final ‘project’ for the day. A cluster of images rolled slowly, dominating his ocular perception. They followed the fiery arch of the falling craft, from different angles, while The Florist’s practiced digits rewired the inner workings of the woman’s body, sightless.

Several angles, hacked feeds he’d received from The Mouth, clearly revealed the vessel lurch like a broken bird from the sky above Arcadia. A metal carcass drifting, hobbled, long before the aug-rattling thud of the Rail-Rounds ripped across the atmosphere. Organic lids narrowed across the glowing inner-workings of Flores’ optics. This stank of corporate interference.

Selecting a high-res playback from a civic building rooftop, he watched again as the craft shuddered suddenly, the engines sputtering weakly as it tilted aggressively off-route. There were plenty of corporations both willing and able to achieve like this. The list wasn’t extensive, but it was only just countable on both hands and toes. But the crash site? Far too much of a coincidence.

Word was spreading. The first hornet’s nest was to be kicked.

Casio closed off the feeds, clicking the final piece into place within the woman’s rib cage. Bios were always the worst. Their virgin flesh was so cluttered, none of their veins or organs had been tidied up, they leaked everywhere without diligent cauterization.

Still, it was a labor of love. And love was messy.

Flores had learned rather quickly that Neanderthals hadn’t earned their nicknames lightly. They took themselves, VERY seriously. It stood to reason the overly aggro oafs were already expecting retaliation for the little stunt they pulled with the delivery girl, Calypso; and their constant inspection of their members would guarantee the new upgrade in this woman’s chest would be detected by the scanners at the first checkpoint of any worth.

The skin of her torso hissed as the NuBio™ FRSHSknSpray© did its work, seamlessly sealing his work inside.

Those ‘pure’ weren’t known for their delicate nature. They’d drag her somewhere secure, away from prying eyes and she’d be torn to shreds in their search for her callous discretion. Even if they were careful, it didn’t much matter. They’d figure out she was telling the truth, that she hadn’t voluntarily gotten any work done.

Epiphany in the form of an explosion.

That nasty little device in her chest, it would detonate, taking a sizable chunk of Neanderthal territory with it. By Casio’s estimation, this was likely to result in another subsequent ‘retaliation’ in the direction of whatever faction the Pure were already looking for a halfway decent excuse to attack.

Little Projects had a way of coalescing into tangible results. Sometimes you just had to give that first domino a little push.

“That’s assuming she can make it back to whatever gleaming Purist rathole she crawled out of.” He reminded himself aloud, face a mask of impassiveness as he washed the copper stench from his hands.

The lockdown changed things. His street was lucky enough to be untarnished by the hail of debris which peppered his district of Delcos, but he would still be suffering the consequences of the increased Peacekeeper presence. Casio brought up a holo-display of the the damage, and the estimated locations of the lockdown checkpoints. Endless chatter clogged the scanners, and the sky was already thick with corporate flies, buzzing over the remains. There was little time to waste.

- Miranda -

Alive? Work to be done. Shut down the sale, we don’t know who is watching. Noose is attempting to close on the Black Queen, she’s likely already gone underground. Those warehouses connect to the old tram systems. Too many corps are mobilizing for direct action. We need to restructure the board.

I'm working on a post, been slow going as I've been quite busy the last couple weeks.

I was wondering if someone might be willing to draft up a map?

Ghajotia has been the current epicenter of the action but I think we could all benefit from having a hard-set, agreed upon orientation to make it a little easier to visualize how the players are moving about / where their home bases are & what factions are butting up against others.
Meru & Gilead

The woman’s nose crinkled in disgust as she replied, flatly shutting the conversation, or what little there had been, down. Seemed she thought the Sheriff was the man to talk to. Though Gilead had his reasons to suspect it wouldn’t be wise to share many secrets with the lawman, rarely was, let alone in a town like Ulysses. Gilead’s flat, dull eyes bore into Lily, mentally willing her to reconsider. His focus was so absolute that the tumult and following gunshot outside didn’t draw so much as a flinch from the slumped husk of Samuel Gilead.

The same could not be said for her, pausing only for a breath as she noticed the animal peering out at her from the darkness. Time seemed to slow and distort as Lily gazed into those golden, sparkling orbs, suddenly zipping reality back into proper speed as she broke the gaze.
As she stood, Gilead could swear he noticed a fleeting wash of hope and expectation stealing across her features. In a flash, she wheeled herself outside, calling after the man with the tarnished star and the rifle.

Gilead side-eyed at the Coyote, still cloaked in shadow. Meru responded by trotting leisurely out of The Leaky Pitcher. Groaning, Gilead slid from his stool, following the coyote as a child might in the throws of a silent tantrum.

Meru perched himself on the edge of the tavern’s porch, paws stopping just short of the sun’s touch, breeze ruffling his ashen fur. Gilead, quietly took up position next to the animal.

“Y’er sure?” Samuel croaked bitterly.

Meru turned his chin upwards to meet Gilead’s reluctant gaze.

Gilead threw his hands up in defeat, shaking his head. “Bah. Fine! Oughtta geyt movin’ den.”

Without another word, Samuel, still brimming with visible apprehension in the gentle din of supply distribution, mounted his horse. The mare, Plum, was still greedily munching on the contents of her feed bag, but begrudgingly allowed herself to be steered out of town. Gilead mounted swiftly, Meru weaving gracefully between the horses legs as they ambled out of town.

“C’mon Girl. Hyah!”

Dust clouded the air as Plum tore at the ground, accelerating in the direction of the Jefferson farmstead.
Ahanu The Ravenous One

The lights of Boston sparkled like an ocean of gemstones against the crude black of the concrete they were cast in. Countless millions of lives, stories which mirrored one another but scarcely intertwined. Untold thousands living in clouds of anger and resentment, with no idea how to reach those closest to them. Tragedy on display before ones eyes, like some cruel, bitter play on an endless stage. How many would die today? How many were lost? How many of those could be saved?

~The stench of this place. It reeks distinctly of all the things humans most despise. Rot & urine, refuse & vermin, stale sweat & excrement ground into the oil stained asphalt. These people, skittering about and over each other like insects.~
Give in.

~Why do you persist in a world that is not your own? ~

The fog encroached menacingly, like a vast, wide pillow settling in to smother a peaceful sleeper. Soft crashes of the Atlantic could be heard over the gentle din of the slumbering city, though its waves remained nestled, hidden behind the fog bank. Ahanu cut a solitary silhouette amongst the machine workings of the rooftops, gazing blindly across the horizon.

~They march in as much ignorance to your efforts as they believe domestic cattle do to their own lives. The same disease afflicting the different beast. ~

Perhaps that much was true. His dealings with the world at large left his mouth sour, his spirit dampened. Humans of this age were peculiar, and the denizens of the Veiled World did not fare much better. Impulsive, reckless, vague and covetous. They largely reminded him of his unwelcome companion.

~A paradigm seen echoed in every manifestable direction within our reality, wouldn’t you say? Mighty generous offer Bain & Hoyle floated your way, eh?~

His eyes clamped shut against the stinging barb which rattled down his spine, his hand flexing closed, teeth grinding.
The hunger knew he was growing impatient. It had been three busy years. Perhaps he could have been more ‘available’ when they first sent word to his cabin. But how long had it been that they left him up there?

It felt like a lifetime. The supplies had stopped at some point....

… How long? ...

The days up north were not like the ones here. Certainly plenty of months spent in unending darkness. Many rounds of the sun holding fast in the sky. Perhaps it had been even longer than a single lifetime....

~This is who you protect. Look around, Ahanu.~

Perhaps it was selfish of him to wait until they promised him a cure. They had already managed to provide the enchantments which bound the hunger within him. Would they truly have lied?

~They are shackles. For this place? You shame us both.~

For a moment, Ahanu felt himself fall inward, his consciousness slipping. The words had found their mark, he felt another piece of his resilience erode away like a castle of sand beneath a wave. Three years of near constant work. And no clearer picture than when he had begun.

He was weary. Not of the situation but of life. What purpose did any of this serve? Near as he could tell Bain & Hoyle had him chasing shadows of ghosts. Despite Ahanu’s successes, answers were strictly need to know and his inquires into the status of his own condition had been utterly stonewalled.
Virtually every member of the company he had met seemed on permanent edge, a soft shove away from plummeting into the abyss of their own minds, or worse. Fear made people, and their veiled counterparts, into piss-poor decision makers. Was B&H immune from such things simply because of their illustrious history?

Ahanu’s handsome features twisted into a grimace as the glowing wisp fluttered into view. The man’s powerful grip snatching the orb from the air nearly as quickly as it had appeared. His mouth turned further as he read across the pretentiously adorned parchment. Another job.

Heedlessly, he allowed the paper to drift from his grasp, the magics within the message reducing it to ash, which scattered in the breeze as Ahanu turned to ready himself.

A long, restless night had bled directly into the grim gray afternoons typical for Boston this time of year. Ahanu arrived shortly after the clock struck 2PM. His towering form cramped in a twist of irony within the confines of an old Jeep Cherokee. The vehicle’s army green paint was splashed with rust and approached with all the stealth of a locomotive, crackling across the gravel of the drive which led down long parallels of ancient trees.

~Ahh. That smell is far more pleasant, wouldn’t you say?~

Like oak, blood, smoke and magic. It permeated and pulsed the air about the dilapidated home, like a foul aura which oozed beyond the sight of mortal perception.

The group which awaited him only added to the bouquet as he wheeled the vehicle along side the building. He waited only a brief moment, eyeing the assembling crew critically before hefting himself from the Jeep. There was a distinct lack of sound as the massive man strode across the loose stone, the gravel seeming to hold his weight as if he were not there at all.
The murmurs of introduction between the others were drowned by the howling winter wind. Ahanu said nothing as he approached, simply giving the others, none of whom he recognized, a curt nod. His rich ebony eyes darted briefly to lock with those of the diminutive female who hung slightly away from the rest of the group, the hints of an amused smirk playing across her lips.

~Ahhh, She is intoxicating. Death lingers about her, she sees you for who you truly are, Ahanu.~

His features remained expressionless, but he turned to the group, finally speaking. “The foul magic of this place is waning. We should not linger, the trail already grows cold.”

I'm working on a post. Have it up either today or tomorrow

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