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1 yr ago
Current I'M BACK(?)
3 yrs ago
got coffee, got music, ready to roll.
3 yrs ago
kinda distracted by writing fanfiction whoops
1 like
3 yrs ago
Ever write a few chapters of something you're really excited about, then a few days later reread it and it's boring as hell? :D
5 likes
3 yrs ago
There was a shooting at an art show where I had a painting hanging. I'm so shook.

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I have no idea what I'm doing.

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Yes I am bumping this three year old thread, bite me.
Hhmm we could do something like knock you guys out and take you to the hospital.... 😏

That'd be a prime situation to bring in other Ze to assist.
The Hospital

*OH. You're ALIVE.* Something snide dripped in Fluke's voice, crackling interference in Iris' earpiece. *You didn't just hear that explosion? Archer and Steel Rose were inside. It's over, our leader's gone so what's the point.*

The sun blazed high overhead, shrouded in a film of rising violet smoke that sent the birds spiraling down into the spaces between the great gnarled trees and cracked clay buildings. An echo of screams haunted the streets. Fire sirens wailed in the distance.

Ahead, the dome of the hospital glistened with moving reflections of the smoke. The round door in the top of the roof had begun to slip shut the moment the healers and their stretcher had descended through it. The opening narrowed, nearly closed by the time Iris could complete her approach -- but she could see through the glass prisms of the dome, the rainforest of trees and flowers like a hidden world deep inside, swarming with spots of bright orange where the healers traversed the weaving lanes. The motorbikes landed on a wide stage at the center of the forest, converged with orange robes by the time the motors stopped.

From other angles, she could see more rooms within the hospital: a cafeteria, a waiting room, a hundred patient rooms with pulled curtains.

In the center of a wide empty hallway, an old man stood alone, thin as paper and reeds, leaning like a stick against a walker. He tilted back his shivering head, and though he was so far away, Iris would have the distinct feeling that he could see straight through her, like a needle shot into her soul.

"Hello, Iris," said a gentle voice in her head, the same way she had heard the voices through the ring still in her possession.

*You do whatever makes you feel like a hero or whatever,* Fluke interjected. *I'm leaving before something else happens--*

*Archer! Cedar! Listener, Iris, Fluke, can you hear me?*

The Highrise

Rose's light beam cut like a knife through the roiling undulation of darkness and smoke; a vaporized hole punched the stunned shadows, which recoiled and scattered like a swarm of black wasps for the heartbeat Rose needed to stumble down the stairs. All around her, the walls and the floors and the ceiling were shaking and crumbling as if the world itself was shattering with the pitch of screams that stormed in the roaring smoke that smelled like cinnamon and burned flesh--

The Nox at her shoulder gripped tight despite Rose's thrashings, locked against her arm like a new appendage, but at least it wasn't reaching for her mask, nor making any attempt to possess her, as if it couldn't tell which part of her was the face. Still, Rose was on the floor and her gunblade out of reach, and the Nox weighed heavier by the second, twisting her arm as it pressed her shoulder into the floor and the ceiling cracked and rained plaster upon her while the smoke billowed dark down the stairs toward her feet--

*Finally, you feel like responding.* Fluke's voice in Rose's ear scraped with static. Iris, too, could hear everything. *You sound like you're about to ask for help. Remember you're the one who went off on your own.*

Rose would hear the scrape of her gunblade being picked up off the writhing floor, though the smoke now had engulfed the last shreds of sunlight around her.

"Close your eyes," said Archer.

A beam of light flooded Rose's prostrate body, and the clinging Nox disintegrated with a screech. The air around her cleared, like a bubble of freedom beneath a dome of writhing smoke that would descend again in a few precious seconds. In the sharpened gray clarity, Rose could see the door that would lead outside--

--and between her and the door stood Archer, with Thorn dangling slack in her dark hands. Her mask was gone, and her head was engulfed in the inky black shine of a thousand Nox eyes, like writhing, slurping spiders. She didn't move nor respond again, like a statue, like a doll in her likeness, hollowed of all thought.
💜 Please take care Lucky!!! Hope all will be well soon! 💚💙
Woohoo! wb! 🎉
Please take care and be well drew!! 💜💚
The Highrise

The wall cracked and a deep fissure split the doorframe like firewood. While the roots twisted, the door groaned under strain and pressure. Cracks spidered across the moldy drywall, which shattered in broken chunks to the shifting floor at Rose's feet. With a lightning-strike *POP!* a deep gash cracked the door in two.

A shine of white light glimmered through the gap, then a little shining translucent ball-- no bigger than a lens flare --slipped out of the broken door and dove immediately into Rose's open bag. The left motor skate shimmered momentarily before the light was gone.

"FOUL DEMONS! BACK!" cried Ruskali above. "I WIELD THE POWER OF TRUTH! YOU WILL NOT--"

A sudden hush dropped into stillness.

The roots had stopped moving.

Like the abandoned set of a silent movie, the hallway and the broken doors seemed suspended in time. A held breath.

...tor meht hctaw dna yrd meht knird...

The dry, dark whisper, like black cobwebs, hissed in Rose's ear.

The Nox had attached itself to her back, and crept around her neck like the brush of a feather.

*ka-BOOOOM!*

The ceiling of the far side of the hallway collapsed in a violent billowing cloud of violet smoke that smelled like burned flesh as it rolled and crashed toward Rose like a tidal wave, devouring the hallway and everything in it.

The Rooftops

From Iris' vantage point, she could see almost all of Rig: the gargantuan roots twisting between clay buildings, treehouses dangling from great shaded branches, the spark and flare of bright flags and murals along the winding narrow streets below. A murmur of starlings swooped out of high branches and undulated in the sky to her left, so close she could hear the flutter of their quick wings.

Beyond them, closer on the horizon across the water, a darker cloud shimmered ever closer...

*ka-BOOOOM!*

Behind her, in the distance, a chorus of shrieks and screams accompanied a billowing plume of violet smoke that rose out of the crumbling highrise.

Below, unaware they were being followed, the three orange-robed healers looked back over their shoulders to see the violet cloud rising against the sky.

They said nothing, however, that could be overheard through the ring.

The two motorbikes and the stretcher revved faster over the rooftops, headed straight for the hospital: a round glass building nestled among great twisted roots, shining in the sunlight. They hovered over the center of the honeycombed dome while a wide round doorway opened in the top, and they gently descended inside.

*That's it.* Fluke muttered in the receiver in Iris' ear. *Archer's dead, or something. I can't find any of you and I'm done trying. Maybe you're dead, too. Worst training exercise ever. I'm telling the council you all suck.*
Thanks guys! So sorry it's taking me a year and a half to reply to anything at all -- it's insanity season at work, and I'm perpetually fried. Let's go on with us three! Hopefully later tonight I can get a post going. 😅
Hi all! HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎉

Who's still in to continue? 😄 Should we change things up a bit? Should we conveniently forget some details, or assume others were always true? Or maybe the swarm arrives and everyone dies... ☠ (which could also be a fun send-off 😂)
The Rooftops

*slap-slap-slap-slap!* The healer's sandals smacked the stone rooftop with an urgent beat. He skidded around a smoky greenhouse and dodged an old woman who'd been watering her potted flowers: she looked up with bewildered eyes, first at the retreating billow of orange robes, then at the huge masked woman that sprinted in quick pursuit.

The healer hopped to the next rooftop, vaulted over an arch of clay shingles, and scrambled up the twisting bark of an enormous root that towered into the sky. He crouched in a bend of the wood, craning his neck, listening. His back was to Iris: he didn't know he'd been followed.

He only waited a moment before the rumble of an engine drew closer; two linked airbikes curled toward him out of the sky, carrying orange-robed riders and Ruskali in a stretcher between them. They drew close enough for their comrade to climb on the back of one of the bikes.

"Hey man," said one of the riders in a guarded voice. "Your eyes are kinda... You feeling ok?"

The skinny young man twisted around in his seat, and looked back to scan the rooftops he'd just traversed. His eyes glowed bright neon blue. The veins in his face had begun to bulge dark beneath the skin.

The riders revved their bikes, ready to take off toward the hospital.

The Alley/The Square

While Cedar rushed off toward the empty square to find Archer (who wasn't there at all), Fluke rocked on his heels and watched Listener through the hot twisting pipes and rods of his heavy mask.

"Still can't see, huh?" he grinned, and he spoke into the earpiece radio that Iris, Cedar, and (tragically) Listener would all hear. "I'll tell you then: Steely broke into an abandoned building and Archer went after her. They didn't come out. Some guy just jumped out of a window of that building and Iris is chasing him across the roof. Cedar Plank went back to find Archer, but he's probably gonna end up gone, too."

Fluke grabbed Listener's elbow and dragged her along after Cedar, marching single-file through the narrow alley. "Hey Plank. You wanna, I dunno, maybe move a little faster than a lame turtle, and maybe your friend or whatever won't be dead by the time we get there? Why am I the one in charge? Where's the drone? Rule number twelve: don't split up!"

Once they returned to the empty market square-- where a couple of armadillos skittered quickly away into the dark corners --Fluke pointed out the rotted door of the highrise. The building was barely standing, held up by invading twists of enormous roots and vines. The bricks bulged and rippled, violet smoke drifted in the air overhead, and all the windows gaped dark and jagged.

From between the tattered curtains of a third-floor window, Archer's horned mask looked out. It was empty.

The Highrise

"You're a... Ze? You're a Ze? So you're not dead?"

With every *wham!* of Rose's shoulder against the hidden door, the entire building seemed to shudder.

The floor at her feet began to crackle and shift as a disturbed root writhed like an enormous snake beneath the floorboards.

The Nox had gone quiet. Ruskali had not.

"WHO'S THERE! I HEAR A VOICE BELOW! RUN! RUN BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!"

"Vern, even if you're a Ze it just means the Nox can't see you, they can still get you." Jay's voice spoke urgent, close to the thin wall between them. "Everyone is here. The Nox, they nest in your head until they pry you loose from your own body, and they lock you in here. There's something coming for us. The Ravel said... they said we're evolving. They said we're going to wake Amalgam. They're going after the Light, Vern. They're going to take the Light and do this to everyone. Until there's nothing left of us."

"THE LIGHT IS NOT YOURS, FOUL DEMONS!" Ruskali laughed maniacally. "THE LIGHT OF AMALGAM WILL NEVER FALL INTO RAVEL HANDS! THE ZEPHYR EXTINCT WILL NEVER ALLOW IT! THE SMOKE! THE ROOF! THE SWARMING STORM APPROACHES! BUT IT WILL NOT DEVOUR ME!"

"I think I can control the plants a little, put a crack in the wall. But you need to have something ready for me to... uh... haunt. Like a bottle or something. Genie in the lamp, right?"

The roots in the walls and the floor began to shift; the drywall cracked.

Something dark and writhing skittered along the ceiling out of the far stairwell, like a gruesome spider with too many shifting legs. Its shining eyes seemed to look straight through her, and it would move on over Rose's head as if she weren't there at all...

...as long as she didn't make a sound.
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