Dance Of The Cucumber Masque

Remy: We on for today?

Rand: I'm on! Fayola was uncertain.

Rand: I'm working very hard to avert an adventure in which you all explore the wild using a special tablet device while meeting handsome fish princes and conquering megazords.

Remy: Why would you avert that?

Rand: It's possible everybody else is already familiar with the story, and I probably can't beat Nintendo's presentation.

Rand: Although, hm, fish prince.

Rand: Maybe I'll replace Alessandro with one.

Rand: Although, really, "Ponyo's dad" is a perfectly good character concept.

Alex: I arrive.

Remy: I contest your arrival, miraculously.

Alice: You could also say: "not so fast!"

Rand: Are we not starting at 7?

Alex: Oh, right. I keep forgetting that.

Rand: Hm!

Rand: So, when last we met, you defeated the tangerine empress through the power of kindness.

Rand: Or, anyway, you distracted her for a few months while she strives to become the biggest buddha.

Alice: Afterwards we just have to explain how even better than being a buddha is saving all sentient life from suffering and then being a buddha.

Alice: I have high hopes for her opening her inner eye, though, because, vitamin C.

Rand: Logical!

Alice: She can fly around on her little cloud.

Alice: Her citrus skiff.

Rand: Raining orange juice upon the world.

Rand: It will open everyone's third eye, because of the stinging.

Remy: …with a chance of meatballs.

Alice: She will call it Benediction of Archgenesis.

Alice: If people say, "But, where's the pun?" she'll say, "Orange you glad I didn't say banana diction?"

Alice: If nobody says that she will simply give a silent smile.

Rand: :P

Rand: So basically, you've created a monster.

Rand: Good job!

Rand: Anyway, today, you're all doing your thing, etcetera…

Rand: …when you receive a party invitation!

Alice: Oh my God Keanu I told you I'm not interested in your themed dress-as-cars parties.

Remy: Who's it from? Where's it at?

Remy: Remy speeds exposition along!

Rand: For a second I thought it was going to be a party where the dresses were all driveable.

Rand: Anyway, fine, Margaret is hosting a conference-slash-masquerade-ball to determine the fate of the world.

Rand: If you weren't here for that story, Margaret is White's-Regal, queen of all things sheepish, salty, or cloudy.

Rand: It appears to be a very fancy do, based on the quality of the invitation, which is engraved across the surface of a rather large pearl.

Rand: Sent to you inside a great clamshell.

Rand: With musical accompaniment as you open it.

  • Rand has been forced to exposit quickly and must thus add gravitas in reverse.

Remy: "Everything's always fate of the world this, fate of the world that."

Remy: "I think there's a chance that Margaret might just be slightly exaggerating."

Alice: "I do value the world," Alice admits.

Rand: Nobody ever meets a god and says "How delightfully petty!"

Alice: "It's where I keep all my distant hopes for tenure."

Rand: I suppose you can use the pearl to pay rent now that you've read it.

  • Rand imagines the various highly technical signs that Noble invitations use to indicate things like how fancy the party is, how high the security is, and whether you will be shot if your outfit does not perfectly match the theme.

Alice: People love pearls with invitations engraved on them almost as much as they love singing basses!

Rand: There's probably also a sign that means "Oh, and Meon will be there."

Rand: Which, coincidentally, is also on this pearl!

Remy: "Alice, have you met him before? Or anyone in his Familia? They sound like… endboss types."

Rand: Along with the three-leaved floral border that indicates "super fancy" and the ibis, for "the guards will open fire if you aren't dressed correctly."

Alice: Alice shakes her head.

Rand: I'm not sure; is there a fancy trope name for "person who has no purpose in life except to be a dick to protagonists"?

Rand: Not that I really want to encourage troping, when you could be describing your incredibly fancy masquerade outfits.

Rand: Or, I guess, refusing to go, or planning to sneak past the guards wearing a cheap Statue of Liberty outfit you bought in a costume shop.

Remy: It's a well known fact that spinning around at just the right velocity and just the right frequency will send you rotating along the m-dimensional axis, triggering a magical girl cutscene.

Rand: Which did actually happen once, hence my future campaigns enforcing dress code via firing squad.

Remy: Remy's clothes fly off of his suddenly prismatic body!

Remy: NOBLE PRETTY MAKE-UP: GO!

Remy: There is, of course, a cape, in a shade of off-white that straddles the line between deference to Margaret's Estate and encroachment upon it.

Remy: An elf-tailored three-piece suit with miniature stars for cufflinks.

Alex: And of course I forgot the time we actually start.

Remy: The look is completed by the mask, a reflective silver whimsy with the face of a falcon.

Rand: Sadly, Slack does not permit me to do the trick where I pretend to narrate a lascivious scene that a late person has just walked into.

Alex: Alex gets a proper tuxedo with stained oak cufflinks and lapel pin.

Rand: It's not a proper masquerade if people can tell it's you!

Rand: Gosh, anybody would think you guys had never been to a masquerade ball.

Alice: Alice supposes that that means it's time to borrow the engineering department's mecha.

Alice: And a hand-held mask on a stick for it to hold.

Rand: Yeah! Nobody will ever know it's you in there!

Rand: In theory a tiny mask on a stick should disguise anybody all on its own but the gravitas rule means that the dress code takes priority.

Remy: Well, there's only one way for Remy to effectively disguise himself.

Alice: …I am not sure my star quality can be contained by a mere three inches of dvergar-wrought steel to the extent that no one will know it's me, but, we shall see.

Alex: Alex finally has an excuse to hand-carve something!

Alex: He hand-carves an elaborate sun-and-moon mask out of oak. :heart:

Remy: And that is by wearing the sensual leaden lingerie spun from pure Slowness by the nymphs of graduality.

Remy: We're still in magical girl FX mode, so that works out despite wardrobe-based reasons it shouldn't.

Rand: Alex, I know this is difficult, but you may need to make the mask out of… not-Oak… if it's going to conceal your identity.

Alex: Alex is way ahead of you: he is prepared to apply a veneer of ash.

Rand: Hm, that could work… unless someone has some kind of wood-sense.

  • Rand checks his master list of NPCs for wood-identification powers.

Alex: I'm more concerned with evading the dress-code assassins than with actually evading being identified.

Rand: This ability seems reasonably rare.

Alex: Besides, I'm going to be toting an oak stick anyway.

Alex: I can't really not.

Alex: It's a Bond.

Alex: I'll just have to keep the tonfa hidden in a sleeve.

Rand: Logically, the dress code assassins at a masked ball would murder any guest they can identify.

Rand: Although I suppose that has some security implications.

Rand: Maybe you shouldn't pop your invitation for rent money quite yet.

Alice: If they can see through a veneer of ash they're not assassins.

Alice: They're hashashim.

  • Alex throws Fayola into the suuuun. :anguished:

Alice: At least they'd be able to hang your bloodied mask up properly on the wall afterwards, thanks to the old man of the mounting.

Rand: Anyway, I suppose these preparations will be enough to get you into the party without being assassinated.

Rand: Although first you take them off and wait two weeks for the party to actually happen.

Rand: This is useful downtime in case you needed to do any crafting or raise your Essence!

Alice: You could disguise the oak stick as something else, too, like… um… oh, you could make a sword cane!

Alice: It's a buster sword, with a cane inside!

Alex: That's actually a really cool idea!

Rand: Oh, so we do need the crafting downtime after all.

Alice: "actually" as if that were unexpected indeed

Alex: Alex cosplays as Cloud Strife, with a comically large cloud strife mask and comically large sword, toted on a dolly.

Rand: Maybe we'll go with your first idea.

Rand: Lest the gravitas assassins strike.

Rand: It's been hard enough fending them off after telling a two-week story about oranges.

Remy: The Power of Cosplay makes a big deal of these things.

Alex: Alex cosplays as Cuchullain, then, concealing his staff inside a Gae Bolga.

Remy: Ancient Irish Cloud Strife!

Alice: Alice temporarily affixes a nametag on her mecha, "The Trouble I've Seen."

Remy: "Could even Jesus himself see such a mech?" Remy wonders, blasphemously.

Alice: Alice's disguise is immaculate.

Rand: What kind of mecha does the engineering department keep, anyway?

Rand: A Voltron-type animal-themed mech? A Eva-style biomechanical horror?

Alice: I was thinking Patlabor, even though I've never actually seen Patlabor.

Rand: A little hopper suitable for a Korean video-game star?

Alice: Mostly because they don't seem to have been very big, albeit bigger than a power suit, which is what I envision.

Remy: There's probably a Dewey Decimal System but for sorting mecha by fictional inspiration.

Alice: Yeah, the Dewey Decimate System.

Rand: "We sure do!"

Remy: Maybe Alice should star in Aliens?

Alice: Alice does start Aliens, they just abbreviated it for the public title.

Alice: It turned out that "Alicens" polled too well and there were worries about every other movie crashing and ruining Hollywood's economic viability.

Rand: Well, anyway, with time, you figure out what you're wearing, and eventually, the props department is able to wheel together enough pumpkins to turn into a carriage big enough for three gods and a mecha.

Rand: Fortunately one god is still in a state of quantum indeterminacy.

Rand: Thus his weight cannot be established by anybody who knows his position.

Alex: Alex carefully avoids looking at the uncollapsed god.

Rand: So, you arrive at Margaret's party sanctum, which is…

  • Rand tries to think of extremely white places that aren't the Moon or the Arctic.

Rand: Probably not the White House.

Rand: I mean, I guess your Chancel could be the White House, and you just dodge around all the people running America to focus on your important work.

Remy: Cloud kingdom?

Remy: A secret dimension made up of all the sheep in the world put together four-dimensionally?

Rand: Hm, Margaret does seem like somebody who lives up in the clouds somewhere.

Rand: Given that her original characterization was "got so caught up in the murder mystery that she forgot she wasn't the killer and framed you out of sheer enthusiasm."

Rand: Also she employs a cadre of incredibly-deadly dress code assassins.

Rand: So, your carriage rolls up to the cloud castle and you and your mecha get out.

Rand: It's a magnificently-imposing building made of, like, clouds and stuff.

Rand: It's probably very secure, given that at Margaret's whim the floor will just stop being the kind of cloud you can walk on.

Remy: Remy mingles, at a slightly lower speed than the ordinary socialite. He's testing a personal theory that he's read so many comic books that he can automatically figure out people's secret identities.

Rand: Hm, let's test this theory.

Alex: Alex, meanwhile, is doing a frankly appalling job at faking a Celtic accent.

Rand: Remy, mingling, encounters the sun. This one isn't twinned with a moon, but wears rose-and-gold over a yellow suit.

Remy: "Hey! I don't think we've met before, but I really enjoy your work."

Rand: His mask has a rather impressive rotating aura of light as a trimming on the sun's face.

Rand: "My work? Mostly I only get complaints!"

Remy: "Oho—that must explain the sun-guise. Well, isn't that what's fun about a masquerade? To finally be free of your reputation?"

Rand: "Oh, yes. I need to come up with a different persona."

Remy: "I'm something of an expert on the alter ego. Would you like any advice?"

Rand: "Oho, I am the person of sophistication! Let us discuss the politics!"

Remy: "Now, of course, the best persona is tailored to one's true identity, to properly overshadow it, but asking that would hardly be in the spirit of tonight. Let us speak of the fundamentals. The civilian identity. The lantern jaw. The mild-mannered demeanor."

Rand: "Hm, these concepts are familiar."

Remy: "Familiar concepts—the trick is in the synthesis. You have to live it more than you live your own life."

Rand: "Wait, I thought that was my own life."

Remy: "Now you're talking! Tell me, how do you feel about alliteration? You'll need a pseudonym."

Rand: "Something like… Steve Smith."

Rand: "That doesn't really tell me how to behave at this party, though. I feel like poor Steve would just run away, and then be shot by the seemliness slayers."

Remy: "A first rule of alter egos, then: avoid getting shot."

Rand: (Alternately: propriety pluggers)

Remy: "If what you would do would get you killed, stop being you!"

Rand: "Oh, I get it; you're an Excrucian!"

Rand: The sun nods, finally getting it.

Remy: "That… isn't something I can easily categorize as either an insult or a compliment."

Rand: "It's cool. Anyway, I'm going to go seduce that wolf over there."

Rand: He points at a lupine mask across the way.

Remy: "Howl away!"

Remy: Oh, right, masks.

Rand: This claim seems unlikely, since it's hard to seduce someone without eventually finding out who they are and risking embarrassment if it turns out to be Meon, but I suppose he might as well try.

Rand: Or maybe that guy was Meon, I dunno.

Rand: Anyway, you scan the masks for a general rundown.

Rand: You've got the sun, the wolf, a knight, Tragedy, a figure bearing scales and blindfold who is probably Justice, somebody dressed as Hermes, a large automaton man made of stone, a lady magician, a man in a suit that crackles with lightning, and oh, hey, it's Meon.

Rand: Meon is as usual refusing to get into the spirit of the party and is just wearing a domino mask on a stick, which he doesn't even really bother to hold up to his face most of the time.

Alex: Still, no way the assassins are messing with Meon.

Alex: (What's his Estate again?)

Remy: Scorn?

Rand: Desecration.

Rand: As you can imagine he is just a super swell guy.

Rand: But if you grovel enough the swelling eventually goes away.

Alex: Heh.

Alex: Alex doesn't trust his disguise enough to rub elbows with Desecration, he keeps a distance. Who's this scales-and-blindfold guy?

Rand: You hobnob with justice.

Rand: "Have a kebab," says Justice.

Alex: "Thank you," says Cúchulainn. "Well cooked. White spares no expense in these things, does she?"

Rand: "She doesn't, although that one is my own special reserve."

Rand: Alex realizes with distinct lack of relish precisely what kind of meat he is eating.

Alex: "…Am I eating human flesh?"

Alex: Cúchulainn looks uncharacteristically unsettled.

Remy: "Dog meat," Remy mutters in his brother's ear, "that's the one you're not allowed to eat. I think."

Rand: "Heh," says Justice, pleased. "I can always tell someone I have a grudge against, in any outfit. Anyway, the other ones are all regular food, if you're still hungry."

Alex: Cúchulainn holds eye contact and finishes devouring the human flesh.

Alex: "To be made into food is a great insult; but for someone to then refuse that food seems somehow worse."

Remy: "Human meat is regular in several cultural contexts."

Rand: It isn't human flesh; it's dog.

Remy: "That even more so."

Remy: "If Justice has trouble with the most basic of subjectivities, that's a little distressing."

Rand: "Thankfully, I'm only Justice for the night, although arguably that's my job all the time."

Alex: Same deal, either way. "I suppose it's natural that you'd sniff me out, given the nature of your estate. I like your choice of costume. Both fitting and ironic."

Remy: (Remy has, potentially relevant, "Affliction 2: I must protect people from unjust laws.")

Rand: Having people dress as concepts may have been confusing from a narration standpoint. This person isn't actually Justice; she's just dressed as that.

Alex: (Am I forbidden to eat dog for some reason I'm unaware of?)

Alex: (It's Guilt, right?)

Rand: (Cu Chullain died of eating dog, which was against his geasa.)

Rand: (He had two, to always accept hospitality, and to never eat dog, which is why when his host offered him dog meat he was fucked.)

Rand: I'm not sure how you would know if it was Jean or not.

Rand: They have a mask!

Remy: Aspect?

Rand: Masks are mysteriously effective.

Remy: Alex has got a crazy computer-tree brain.

Alex: (Ahhhh, naturally.)

Rand: I am afraid that by the power of my whim no miracle will serve to penetrate a mask.

Rand: Unless you're, like, trying to rip it off or something.

Rand: This rule is probably enforced by Imperial will or something.

Alex: "Do you suppose White has any larger scheme at play here?"

Rand: "Yeah, we're all going to hear about it over dinner. We're gonna flood the Earth."

Rand: "Or not."

Rand: "Hence, the party."

Remy: "Again?!"

Rand: "Well, it's not like global warming stopped."

Remy: "Not a compelling justification."

Rand: "I refuse to have this argument now and then move to a different scene to have it again."

Remy: "Fair point. I would only slow and plod along."

Remy: "I'm notoriously inefficient and devour corpses like a dog!"

Rand: "Instead, let's discuss—"

Rand: But you are interrupted by the dinner bell.

Rand: Thus, the scene transposes to the dining hall, a large and imposing white marble room under strange stars.

Alex: "Nice," agrees Cúchulainn.

Rand: At the head of the table sits a noble Knight in white armor, brandishing a knight's baton, with which she directs the servants as they conduct the meal.

Rand: From her clockwise is Tragedy, the Wolf, Justice, Alex, Hermes, Remy, the Sun, the Stone Man, the Magician, Alice if she emerges from the quantum foam, Meon, and the Lightning.

Rand: Also a lot of other people because this party should probably be bigger than that but I can't juggle that many NPCs talking.

Rand: They sit in between the atoms.

Remy: "We're halfway to being the major arcana."

Rand: "Good evening, all," says the Knight in a voice which Margaret hasn't really bothered to disguise, except to modulate it to sound a little bit like a robot.

Rand: "I am so glad that you could come, for we have weighty matters to discuss."

Rand: "As you know, the planet's ecosystem continues to approach a crisis."

Rand: "I think most of you are familiar with the plans championed by certain parties to respond to the calamity by relocating the greater part of humanity to a new life beneath the ocean."

Rand: "I've also been approached by other parties who felt that our best course was to take a greater involvement in mortal politics in order to steer humanity towards continued collective existence."

Rand: "It seemed like we'd all go on arguing for a while, so I thought it was a great time to have an expensive party and get everybody to dress up first."

Rand: "So, even if some plan I don't like gets recognized by society as a whole as preferable, I still have a lovely evening."

Alex: "I admire this spirit of compromise!"

Remy: "It is more civilized than a fist fight."

Alex: "Who shall first take the floor to offer the argument?"

Remy: "May I offer a preliminary suggestion, to ease negotiations?"

Rand: "The chair recognizes the mysterious tuxedo."

Remy: "Here and now, we have the opportunity of anonymity. Why not divide ourselves up by Song, each take some different dishes to share, and work out group consensus on that level, before we all come to the table and work it out."

Remy: "The mysterious tuxedo is Sung of Heaven."

Rand: "I refuse to be pigeonholed!" cries the Magician.

Remy: "Independents can present individually."

Rand: "I, also, am an individual," agrees Hermes.

Rand: (I haven't really thought about the company in terms of Song affiliation so that won't work.)

Alex: "I, too, never really picked a song," admits Cúchulainn. "Though that's a fair cop."

Alex: "Let's establish opening parameters. Does anyone here want to kill off human civilization on earth, full stop?"

Remy: "Well, we tried. I yield the floor."

Rand: "I wouldn't mind," says the Wolf, "but since that isn't allowed, I'd settle for forcing most of them to live underwater, where they'll be less able to ignore the results of their actions."

Rand: Everybody else seems broadly in favor of not murdering everybody.

Remy: "I'll never get to do a supervillain team-up," Remy sulks.

Rand: (Meon also wants to destroy all humans but he didn't say anything because he assumed that was obvious.)

Remy: He's not gonna team up with Meon!

Rand: Oh, so you're one of those picky villains.

Alex: "I would argue that moving the humans underwater shelters them from the consequences of their actions."

Alex: "Struggling to survive on a dwindling surface exposed to fierce weather created by their own industries is, arguably, a more significant consequence than being magically transitioned to an aquatic life."

Remy: "But the gravest perpetrators of all our already passed from the world—we would be punishing the children of the offenders, unto the last generation of humanity. Retribution is a fair goal, but we need to make sure the people getting punished really deserve it."

Rand: "Punishment seems less important in the medium term than making sure the human race survives in some form," notes Hermes.

Rand: "It's pretty important," says Justice. "Although, banishing everybody to the ocean seems somewhat punish-y to me."

Alex: "Compared to the hazard of nuclear exchange or Excrucian assault, global warming and flooding is of trivial danger."

Remy: "My argument, on the other hand, is that there is nothing preventing both plans from operating simultaneously. They would, in fact, be complementary—the Preservation faction can do our best to maintain human society with political conspiracies and fate tinkering, and the Diluvian faction can prepare for humanity's transplant to below the sea if conservation efforts fail."

Alex: "Remember Libya."

Alex: Of course, Libya is so Alex's hobbyhorse that everyone probably realizes who Cúchulainn is now.

Rand: "We can all agree on stopping total nuclear warfare, is the thing," says Hermes.

Alex: "Yes, but the global flood is operating on very long time scales, innit?"

Rand: "But giving certain high-and-mighty types a license to rule the world is different," says the Magician.

Rand: "Changing the future starts in the present," says Hermes.

Remy: "I suspect I can travel through time, so that may not be entirely true."

Rand: "How difficult would it be to move humanity underwater, anyway?" asks Tragedy. "I don't have a good basis for comparison."

Remy: Not sure if that's distinctive enough to give Remy away or not.

Alex: "It sounds more complicated than the alternative, depending on how much you're willing to operate within the bounds of the Ordinary World."

Rand: The great stone man moves his head to speak. It really is an amazingly complicated mechanical face. "It depends on whether you want them to have always been there or not."

Alex: "Straw poll: Ordinary world. Good thing? Bad thing?"

Remy: "Neutral, I guess?"

Rand: Most people at the table give the hand-waggle of "Well, I'm not married to it, but I don't want to be the one people blame for breaking it when it's useful for various stuff."

Alex: "Within the bounds of the Ordinary World, I think we can agree that moving the survivors under the ocean is going to be harder than minimizing the diluvia."

Rand: "I've got some gene therapy tech I could start releasing that would get the mainstream ready to self-translate to merfolk when the time comes," notes the lightning-man. "Although, I've also got some ideas for machines that could just scrub the atmosphere clean."

Rand: "We are not," says Meon, "in the business of erasing mortal problems for them."

Alex: Alex isn't quite sure what the polite way to agree with Meon is. He wings it. "Truth, clearly spoken."

Remy: "Grace intrudes."

Alex: "It is not given to us to know the future, if only because Foresight never tells anyone else."

Remy: "It is not a matter of erasing problems for someone's sake. It is a matter of sustaining grace."

Alex: "On a more mercenary note, many of our estates would have a reduced relevance in an oceanic context."

Rand: "I would hope we aren't in the business of that, either. Certainly I am not, and I would oppose any measure to simply remove the consequences of human folly."

Rand: "You could grow a stately oak reef," says the Knight.

Rand: "We're certainly going to need new reefs at this rate," says the Wolf, gloomily.

Alex: "Fair. More bluntly: which of these options provides us with the greatest security against the Excrucian hazard?"

Alex: "Existential danger has a way of cutting Gordian knots."

Remy: "Whichever we pick, they'll twist into a weapon against us."

Alex: "Inevitably. But which is a sharper sword?

Remy: "I can't anticipate the battle-strategy of the Excrucian host in two parallel timelines, although maybe some of us can?"

Alex: Alex turns his gaze, respectfully, to Meon, who of the many Nobilis here has no doubt a very long and ugly history in battle with the Excrucians.

Alex: Meon—a thorn of the world.

Rand: "The most dangerous weapon is contention amongst ourselves," says Meon. "So, you would be best to choose one option and not fight about it."

Alex: Alex realizes with an uncomfortable start that he likes Meon.

Alex: "A strong point. I confess much of my reluctance to yield to the diluvian option is that it feels… It disrupts the reasoning of the ordinary world. It's too garish, too impossible. Like self-insert fanfiction, I feel it lessens the internal consistency of the Ordinary World. I cherish the Ordinary World and those who dwell in it. Find a way for the Diluvian option to come to pass within the bounds of the Ordinary World's constraints, and I would yield to it with no tremendous resistance."

Remy: "The Ordinary World already has Sealab. It's not a fundamentally non-Ordinary concept."

Remy: "Domes. Problem solved."

Alex: "There are logistical constraints beyond the conceptual at play here. Someone has to manufacture all those domes."

Rand: "We could squeeze in a new continent of Atlantis going back a few thousand years, if we put in the time," notes the Tragedian.

Rand: "We can justify our actions retroactively, if proper care is taken."

Remy: "I don't think establishing the technology for a submarine human society is conceptually more difficult than Foresight's scheme to rig a perfect government up with probability magic."

Remy: "Lightning has mer-genes ready to go!"

Rand: "And then in a hundred years, the same mistakes repeat themselves," says the stone man.

Rand: "We need to take responsibility as higher beings for not letting such wickedness take place."

Rand: "It's not like most humans even want to ruin the Earth."

Remy: "I agree. Did you have a plan in mind?"

Remy: Remy is trying to think of a gravitas-laden way of saying "we could go all Metal Gear Solid with an immortal secret society," but lacks the capacity to translate that thought

Alex: "Foresight's scheme seemed closer to sufficiently better government than perfect government," pedants Alex.

Rand: "I agree that we should institute more control over human government, at least so that complete destruction is averted."

Rand: "Our disagreements probably prevent action on any topic more contentious than Armageddon."

Alex: "Yes, sadly. If only we could form some useful government of our own between us for these matters."

Remy: Remy lays out the general outline of Foresight's plans for Veronica, in case there's anyone unfamiliar. "Do we want to piggyback controlling society onto that project?"

Alex: "Although I suppose technically this is it."

Alice: "It is possible," the mecha observes, "that attempting to chew humanity's food for it and regurgitate it into their mouths, while occasionally lecturing them on how terrible they are, may not be the best way to realize any value that the species might, ah, have?"

Remy: Remy is going to use a Lesser Divination of Speed to figure out the rate at which he and Alex are collectively changing the others' minds—basically, to figure out if this has been a productive line of argument.

Rand: What are you trying to change their minds to?

Remy: We have conflicting end goals; I'm trying to get a sense of how willing they our to change their current beliefs in response to debate

Remy: It's the journey, not the destination, etc

Rand: "Leaving them alone hasn't really produced a better outcome," notes the stone man. "And frankly, most of the policies Destiny is proposing to support are things the majority of people actually want."

Rand: "I mean, if you care; I daresay some of us don't even if I do."

Rand: Hermes and the stone man seem fairly committed to the Preservation plan, Justice and the Wolf to the Diluvian. The Tragedian, the Sun, the Knight, and Lightning are open to being moved.

Alice: "Ah," the mecha says. "I did not realize that humanity had already had its outcome. My apologies."

Alice: The mecha whirrs and goes silent.

Rand: The Magician is somewhat opposed to Preservation but isn't really allied with the Diluvians either.

Rand: Meon is filled with horrible, horrible wishes.

Remy: When it rains info, it pours!

Rand: Your mind shuts down at the sight of them, which is probably him resisting your divinations.

Remy: Remy isn't bold enough to press the matter.

Alice: It's very difficult to press the energy.

Alex: Alex ponders some convenient third way. "Lightning, I suspect your great interest is in shaking up the bounds of the Ordinary—you desire to expand the bounds of what it encompasses to be more interesting and exciting. Is this so?"

Rand: "I think we could make a lot more things Ordinary without breaking anything, yeah."

Remy: "Proposition. Let's agree that, whichever side of the issue we're on, we'll talk to each other and cooperate when it's in our mutual interest. Like unto the human UN in terms of being a nice pleasantry. As part of this, any controlling mortal society would done for the benefit of both parties. We try to save the world, you can try to break it, and we won't directly interfere."

Remy: "Can we get onboard with that?"

Rand: "It's a lovely sentiment," says the Magician, "but there's more to getting along than just saying you'll get along."

Rand: "I for one certainly won't get along if anybody starts ruling the world too much."

Rand: "I mean, we probably already rule the world too much, but still."

Remy: "We use peer pressure as a means of deterrence. Get caught sabotaging someone else's plan, or ruling the world too much, and you have to answer to the rest of us, your peers."

Alex: "Magician, how do you think the polling would come down on this issue if we asked humanity?"

Rand: The stone man fails to look nonplussed, because he didn't build his face for that emotion. "Isn't that how it already works? Let's have an enforcement mechanism with some teeth."

Alex: Alex glances anxiously towards the mecha. That was a hell of a zinger she dropped, and he's not quite sure how to deal with it.

Remy: "Form a res?"

Alex: "Hang on a moment, enforcement mechanisms…" He pages through his phone.

Rand: "You mean, on whether to destroy the world, or whether to move themselves beneath the sea, or whether to be ruled by magical gods?"

Rand: "Honestly, probably no on all counts."

Alex: "The diluvia/preservation question."

Rand: "They'd probably vote in favor of fixing the problem themselves."

Alex: "I would agree that they should."

Rand: "Only… the problems aren't getting fixed. It's easy to want to fix things, but the systems that should perform the solutions are broken."

Alex: "Yes."

Alex: "Can we ask a man with a broken arm to lift his own burden? Should we?

Rand: "I don't really want to establish our rule over our mortal siblings, since we aren't really wiser than they are, but maybe we could just explode all the really bad politicians and some dictators? Just this once?"

Alex: "As tempting as it is, I think allowing Foresight's geasa to drag villains into misfortune is probably a preferable option. Your proposal violates the Ordinary World too garishly.

Rand: "Plausible deniability is nice and all," the Magician admits (in a way that indicates she doesn't really think this), "but it seems like it would increase the temptation to further meddling down the line."

Rand: "A great cleansing episode of divine fury is easier to contain to a single historical incident."

Alex: Alex feels more comfortable arguing once he's realized that his core ideology here is fundamentally aesthetic: 'do not fuck up the Ordinary World'.

Alex: "Meddling is okay with me, so long as it's a meddling that doesn't ruin the Ordinary World's internal consistency."

Rand: "The Ordinary can maintain its own consistency," says the Tragedian, "or at least, it used to be able to. But if we work in concert and provide history for our changes ourselves… it should probably work?"

Alice: "Ah," the mecha says, shifting slightly. "The ordinary maintains its own consistency. Relevant."

Rand: "Until it doesn't," notes the sun, gloomily.

Rand: "The mask of the ordinary does tend to break at hilariously inconvenient times, lately," agrees the lightning man. "It's a wonderful opportunity for everything to go ironically wrong."

Alex: "Has it been happening more often?"

Alice: "Then is it wise to premise our consideration on the Ordinary? On the situation therein?"

Alice: "Albeit one that is not necessarily transient like words on water."

Rand: "The Ordinary presents the illusion of a world where statistics have no opinions, facts are objective and values subjective," exposits the stone man.

Rand: "As more observations of the world are made, the illusion has had to grow more and more complex."

Alice: Motionless, the mecha still seems to object to the idea that even the Ordinary is able to presuppose that statistics are without opinion.

Alex: "More complex, but more marvelous for it."

Rand: The stone man is an imperfect narrator of the setting's truth.

Rand: Also he has an agenda!

Rand: "True, but the power behind it is limited. The increased demands made by ever-increasing numbers of conscious minds making observations and doing science require impossibly-complex real-time revisions to the laws of physics themselves."

Rand: "It's probably possible to… augment it somehow? But that's a meeting and a century of work all on its own."

Alex: "Thus the breakdowns."

Remy: "Impossibly complex tasks at impossibly high speed, you say?"

Remy: "Overclocking the machinery of reality itself, you say?"

Remy: "If that assists in Preservation or Diluvia, I'm pretty sure I can bear that yoke."

Rand: "If you volunteer your brain to serve as a backup processor for eternity, feel welcome," says the lightning. "I'm in favor of the Ordinary, but I don't care that much."

Alice: "Scenario:" proposes the mecha. "Tomorrow, the Imperator of Butter decides that butter originated in Switzerland. The ordinary world performs a best-fit adjustment of the current state. A fit that allows for the new history of butter. All is revised. Humanity is a wise custodian of the Earth."

Remy: "The Ordinary does serve the important function of keeping mortals from going all dementia animus. I'd rather my efforts at preserving society didn't drive it mad by accident."

Alice: "Adjustment to course of action required?"

Alex: "A market-driven reality revision."

Rand: The Tragedian considers the scenario. "That… is a very complicated state of affairs to consider?"

Rand: I am not sure he understands the drift of your statement.

Alex: Nor I.

Alice: "The next day," the mecha says, "a different Imperator makes another change. Cows are made of chocolate. The Ordinary world now decides that the simplest way to preserve itself is to recast all existing humans as vilest villains to the seventh generation."

Alice: "Extreme scenarios, true."

Alex: Alex gazes in bewilderment.

Rand: "…can it actually do that?" asks the Magician.

Rand: "I mean, the ordinary; I know Imperators can turn cows into chocolate."

Rand: "Which… kind of turns chocolate into this weird milk ouroburos."

Alex: "Don't get too caught up in the hypothetical. And I don't know that it can do that. I think if an Imperator did that it might break the world."

Alice: "The extent to which a least-effort perturbation may appear extreme to our perceptions within our lifetime is unknown."

Alex: "Meon. Would such a gross revision of history fall under your estate?

Alice: "The relevant point is that I am not certain that the state of affairs we are discussing is fundamental in the first place."

Alex: "Well, I'm afraid now I'm caught up in contemplating the existential terror of it."

Alice: "Have we established why humanity is failing in the mythic world, and whether any politicians we wish to kill are actually the source of their own corruption there?"

Rand: "Only if I don't like it," says Meon. "Or, well, if someone doesn't."

Remy: "…human nature?"

Rand: "The systems humanity created to control a hostile world now spiral around them like an octopus," intones the Magician.

Alice: "I do not believe that humans produce greenhouse gases, for example," the mecha points out. "Not in any great quantity. Those come from the machines. Ah, not myself."

Rand: "They now are helpless before the very tools that allow them to survive."

Alex: Alex bites back his impulse to pedantically critique this simile.

Rand: "It isn't a simile," says the Magician. "It's an octopus."

Alice: "Perhaps it is the machines that should be relocated beneath the ocean… ah," adds the mecha. "not myself."

Alex: Alex sighs, wistful for the days when Excrucians kept him sufficiently busy that he didn't have to grapple with the awful responsibility of his station.

Alex: "As a rule, I do not want humanity to perish, but I also do not want them to have to grapple with their terrible impotence in the face of the Nobilis."

Alex: "I am torn between two equally condescending impulses."

Rand: "Is there a middle ground?" wonders the Knight. "Perhaps we should appoint mortals as champions, to mend the world while we play the games of fighting Excrucians and rocket launcher chess."

Alice: "Nobody asked them to eat the fruit of the tree of terrible impotence," the mecha observes.

Alex: "And they in turn can create their own champions, et cetera, littler fleas to bite 'em."

Rand: "Oh, definitely," agrees the lightning. "Let's have redundancy all the way down."

Alex: "It would be nice to foist this problem off to someone else."

Alex: "But then they'll do something we don't like and we'd have to micromanage anyway."

Rand: "I have to admit," says the Tragedian, "that at the end of the day we are vastly more powerful than any mortal, and that any action we take comes in that context."

Rand: "I refuse to be so powerful it makes me useless," snorts Justice.

Alex: "A necessary truth," agrees Alex wearily.

Alice: "We could trust them to organize their own cabals of colorful, powerful characters with competing motivations to manipulate events behind the scenes of the ordinary people?" the mecha proposes. "Oddly they are quite good at this."

Rand: "If everything is to be manipulated by colorful cabals, what separates 'them' from 'us'?" asks Hermes.

Rand: "Why should I be excluded from the cabal?"

Rand: "Nobody is having a colorful cabal and not inviting me," agrees the Knight.

Alice: "Nothing then separates them from us," the mecha admits. "It is a powerful argument to conduct ourselves differently. I may be forced to be convinced."

Alex: "I would like nice things to happen to people for as long as possible before we are all eradicated by the Excrucians," agrees Alex, sheepishly.

Alex: "I just don't care that much about making sure humanity collectively faces the punishment for its collective failures."

Alex: "I would rather err on the side of being too helpful."

Remy: "Anyone read the Old Testament?"

Remy: "Divine punishment and negative reinforcement… can be the same."

Remy: "If we punish humanity, we punish them in a way that teaches them to be better."

Remy: "Not just for the sake of inflicting punishment."

Alex: "Humanity is already punishing itself. It's not getting better."

Rand: "I wouldn't say it had gotten worse." says the lightning.

Alice: "There is very little that a Power can say that is hubris, given our station," the mecha says. "Even less that does not involve belittling an Imperator. But 'punish them in a way that teaches them to be better' hits at least three such points."

Rand: "Humanity is just capable of making collective errors that threaten its existence, even if that isn't a decision any individual would make."

Alex: "If anything, it got better once it found better shelter from punishment."

Rand: "Now there's a contradiction," says Justice, her costume getting more ironic by the minute.

Remy: "Maybe it would be a better proposition if I turned it around. No collective punishments against humanity—or any other species—unless it is done for a purpose that does more than simply inflict pain."

Alex: "That I'll agree with."

Alex: "Humans aren't built to live underwater; the dome solution is, frankly, way too fragile."

Alex: "Altering what humans are to let them survive underwater as natives makes more sense. Who here's read Seveneves?"

Remy: "That doesn't sound like a comic book."

Rand: Lightning raises a hand to that.

Rand: The sun looks shifty.

Remy: "But if we want to make large-scale transformations to the human genome, their evolution could be accelerated."

Remy: "Not towards any particular telos, but just in general. It would let your efforts bear consequence much more quickly."

Rand: Aw, Remy wants to talk them into letting him create an age of supers.

Alice: "Please, not from slowly emerging social consensus. At least do something that risky and terrifying out of love for speed."

Remy: "I was thinking of giving my blessing to whoever's most eager to remake mankind."

Remy: "Humanity 2.0 by committee would just be some messed up orangutans."

Alex: "I feel like this conference is drifting a bit afield of the original topic."

Alice: "That would be mankind."

Remy: "Whoever in this conspiracy is most eager, rather."

Remy: "Lightning, you, me, mer-genes?"

Rand: "I've got the machinery."

Rand: "Humanity seems mostly fine the way it is," says Hermes, "although being able to breathe water wouldn't hurt."

Remy: "I've got the speed. Are there any compelling arguments against uplifting… uh, downlifting humanity to be an ocean-dwelling species?"

Rand: "Only that it might go horribly wrong," says the Magician.

Rand: "We could sidelift some of everybody," notes the Knight. "Possibly alongside the previously mentioned Atlantis revision."

Remy: "Having an experimental population and a control group would be a good way to let both factions try out their own approaches. I like it."

Remy: "Let's make it happen."

Rand: "Still," says Hermes, "there seems to be a vague consensus that we should intervene subtly to at least make sure humanity doesn't kill itself accidentally, and that making preparations for an aquatic humanity would not be amiss."

Alice: "It is tragic to be a human," the mecha muses. "One day you become an orange. The next a fish."

Rand: "The next, a god inside a mecha," notes the Magician.

Alice: "Is this… what it means to be human?"

Remy: "It's definitely not."

Alice: "Ah," the mecha says.

Rand: "You can ask the mermen, and compare their answer to their landbound cousins," suggests the Tragedian.

Alex: "Actually, yeah, aren't there already sea-people in the mythic?

Alice: "I assumed his disinterest in asking was deliberate," the mecha says.

Remy: "I doubt that the Mythic experience of sea-people would map on to the Ordinary experience of living underwater in any meaningfully interpretable way."

Remy: "But, also yes, to the mecha."

Remy: "If I'm going to commit to meddling, I'm not going to be doing it by poll."

Alice: "It's good to have some spine on the matter," the mecha admits.

Alice: "Hopefully humans will keep those," it muses. "To imagine a future where most Powers are recruited from jellyfishoids is unsettling."

Remy: "Just like the High Evolutionary!"

Remy: "I think a good deal of humanity would be into getting invertebrate fursonas."

Alex: "The Coral Regent is an octopus, isn't she?"

Rand: "You're thinking of the Cowl Regent."

Rand: "A vast, hooded squid."

Alex: "I've never heard complaints about them, either way."

Alice: "The concern is visceral," the mecha says. "In truth, I blame Ray Bradbury."

Alex: "I don't think we have strong consensus on much, yet, aside from 'armageddon bad'."

Remy: "Do we have any dissents against Operation Mutation?"

Remy: "I perceived a slight consensus on that."

Rand: "There's plenty of time to object later when any problems arise," notes the sun.

Alex: "Well, that's mostly going to manifest as cancer and birth defects, isn't it?

Remy: "Evolutionary dead-ends."

Alex: "You know your work better than I do…"

Remy: "Fixing those is probably the next step."

Remy: "I don't want to just abandon them. Let's let the shadowy government conspiracy arrange for their care."

Remy: "And maybe sneak in some convenient healing miracles on a scheduled basis."

Rand: "Oh, is that all? I was thinking you'd ignite latent telekinetic powers in 1% of everybody and the world would ignite in psychic war."

Remy: Remy's eyes shine with hope. "Maybe!"

Alice: "Later," the mecha mutters, "just outside the borders of Creation, mysterious figures hold their meeting on what to do about the humanity and the Nobles who are failing the world."

Rand: "Yeah, that sounds about right," agrees the Magician.

Remy: "That's the Valde Bellum. We scheme, we plot, we fight, we make out, we die."

Rand: Meon takes notes.

Rand: Unfortunately, he can't pierce the impenetrable disguise of your mask!

Remy: Ain't no rule 'gainst making out with the enemy!

Alex: Alex sighs. "I'm still more inclined to just… not meddle at all, yet."

Remy: "When do you think we should act?"

Alice: "Nobles will meddle," the mecha says, as if providing the conclusion to a thousand-page argument. "The only question is whether we shall mimic the human cabals or express ourselves with personal integrity."

Alex: Alex drums his fingers on the table, thinking. "There is no shock that we mimic human cabals, as we are largely of human stock, or straight up human."

Alice: "Agreed," the mecha says. "One might equally say, 'humans will meddle; the only question is whether they will set themselves apart in conspiracies and private bastions of the White and resolve to manipulate everyone else together, or, express themselves with personal integrity.'"

Remy: "I've been consciously basing this on the Justice League, tbh."

Remy: "Meon's our Luthor!"

Rand: "This is a calumny," says Meon, "but it's beneath my dignity to suggest the appropriate comparison."

Alex: Alex does not mention that he was mentally comparing Meon to Sam Fisher, in that he is a brutal figure who does terrible things in the service of a nebulously defined greater good who is, nonetheless, kind of impressive and amazing.

Rand: Meanwhile Meon is eating more dog kebabs.

Alice: "Ah," the mecha says. "But humans are not equally efficacious meddlingers."

Rand: It's like nobody here is even interested in the food.

Alex: Alex has been eating the whole time, thank you. He just hasn't been making it a center of the narrative.

Rand: The entree is some kind of pot pie in a bowl that, while of normal size on the outside, appears to be several feet deep on the inside.

Rand: With many different layers and substrata of differing types.

Alice: The mecha has a full-coverage faceplate. Aspect 0 has so far kept it from attempting to eat.

Alice: (In both positive and negative respects.)

Rand: At least you have a bag of Doritos.

Remy: Remy's appetite soured at the dog kebab.

Alice: I've never mecha bag of Doritos I didn't like.

Rand: It's a surprisingly effective revenge!

Alex: "To be honest, tonight is the first time I'd heard the 'mer-people' plan."

Rand: Even if it didn't work on the correct person.

  • Rand forgets if Remy ever actually laid a hand on Jean, if that's who Justice really is.

Remy: "Do you need some time to think about it?"

Alex: "It just seems so impractical. The sea level isn't rising THAT fast."

Remy: "Are you willing to bet humanity on that fact?"

Alex: "Like, it's not like we have a shortage of land. The concern is all about climatological shifts disrupting agricultural patterns. The rising sea level is going to destroy coastal infrastructure but it's not going to leave humans with nowhere to be."

Remy: "If a nettle-rite breaks the universe or a Strategist erases the next century, I want to have a safety net."

Alex: Cuchullain is taken aback. "I hadn't even considered the King Crimson scenario."

Remy: "That's my role in this Familia. To think about the weird time shit."

Remy: "Just as your role is to anchor us in caution and good sense."

Rand: "…it was such a fun plan, though," says the lightning, sadly.

Rand: "If humans aren't to be forced to live in the ocean," grumps the wolf, "what's going to be done to force them to clean them up?"

Remy: "Oh, we're still doing it, Lightning. Unless someone gives it a hard overrule."

Alex: "Alright, I'm convinced. Let's go ahead and set up some long-term sea-people colonies."

Rand: "Then the consensus seems to support forward motion," notes the Knight.

Alex: "Proposal: we reformulate the sea-people thing so that it's a side-effect of a cure for an existing rare medical condition."

Rand: "What is the feeling of the meeting with regard to dessert?"

Alex: "That way, we don't need to worry about finding volunteers, and the universe still gets a little bit better.

Alex: "And I am pro-dessert."

Remy: "Something chocolate."

Rand: Then perhaps we can close on that, as the literal mile-high tower of chocolate is wheeled in.

Rand: I sort of wonder if the masquerade gimmick was a bit forced, given that in most cases it was probably fairly obvious who everybody was.

Alex: I recognized Guilt and White but that's about it. n.n

  • Alex is bad at remembering who all these people are!

Rand: Of course, technically any of them could have been people you've never met but (spoiler) none of them were.

Remy: Finding out who I've teamed up with will be a delightful surprise

Alex: Fun costumes. :slightly_smiling_face:

Alice: Alice ponders what to do about this whole Nobles gathering into cliques to decide other people's fates thing. It bugs her more than individual Noble license, but where to even start?

Rand: Open-source divinity!

Remy: You could reconcile Noble society with respect for mortal autonomy?

Rand: I'm not sure what that means, but it's a phrase you could arrange to have mean something.

Remy: Open-source divinity, by which I mean, reaching heaven by violence.

Remy: Upon apotheosis you Creative Commons the transcendence that led you there.

Alice: It's not really the individual Nobles not respecting autonomy that bugs her. I mean, it's a thing, but she believes in Noble autonomy too and is actually a huge Noble snob and even if she weren't the Nobles are the one on the scene for their Estates.

Rand: The problem with that is that activating wide-scale enlightenment is itself making choices for the people who would have chosen to live in a world where everybody else hadn't suspired off into Nirvana.

Alex: I'm increasingly unclear how the universe holds together at all. X)

Alex: Any one of us could ruin everything at any moment!

Alex: EVERYTHING IS BALANCED ON A KNIFE EDGE.

Alex: Held there by delicious cakes?

Rand: That's why you invented committees.

Alex: Yes, they create useful inertia.

Rand: Although it's less a committee, really, and more "is anybody going to declare war if I do this? Anybody?".

Alice: But all that goes away at parties like this. She can forgive Remy for a massive violation of consent in mutating people if it's for Speed, but has more trouble the more it feels like Remy is doing it because of a party that thought Nobles were better.

Alice: (Which is why she didn't commit to "no, don't do it" either.)

Alice: Reaching apotheosis is an interesting idea.

Alex: Vance reminding me about the King Crimson maneuver is one of those, "Your cautious conservatism doesn't hold water in this world of mindfucking cosmic horror, Alex!" moments.

Rand: I don't even understand how King Crimson works.

Rand: It took me forever just to understand how Bites the Dust works, but ultimately it isn't actually complicated, just unbelievably convenient.

Alex: You erase the time!

Rand: WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN

  • Alex deploys a Greater Destruction Of Rand Brittain's Not Understanding How King Crimson Works.

Rand: oh i see

Alex: Like that, but with time.

Alice: It all holds together because the fundamental structure is sound. Ish. Individual Noble randomness is just a topologically warped presentation of a slice of the same.

Rand: It's like how human society holds together even though any given human can kills lots of people or write Das Kapital at any time.

Alice: Hm, that's definitely part of it.

Rand: There's also a limitation in that Alex can make all the oak trees rise up and declare war on the world of man, but he can't make them slood slood slood slood slood.

Rand: Breaking down history into a bunch of nonsense wouldn't destroy the world, just damage its sense very badly.

Alice: I'm more thinking that it's like, there's a reason that twitching a finger isn't horribly disruptive, but things hardly anyone does like killing lots of people are.

Alice: The world starts as a sort of workable blur of colors, and then you stare at it, and it gets clearer and clearer until you start to see people doing stuff.

Alice: It's not surprising that even though those people could do stuff that would invalidate that relatively balanced blur of colors, they don't.

Alex: The Excrucians might want to, tho.

Alice: Oh, yeah, they're a different matter. I thought we were on Powers.

Alex: It's always infinitely easier to NOT radically reshape the world. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKaijlTs2Ns

Remy: I don't think that holds up from a many-worlds perspective.

Remy: When your capacity to reshape reality has the massive multiplier of being enforced by miracles, inaction is itself pretty consequential.

Alex: It's true.

Alex: One of the upsides and downsides to being Oak is that I can always justify passivity.

Alex: Oaks: They Just Sit There.

  • Alex suddenly fills up the whole sky with foliage and steals your insolation when you aren't looking.

Remy: And I can always justify inconsistent characterization, thanks to 0 MP cognitive hyperboosts.

Alex: HA HA HA THE SUNLIGHT IS MINE!

Rand: Oh, so that's how we start global cooling.

Alex: I suppose thats as good an option as any.

  • Alice ponders apotheosis.

Alice: Open-source apotheosis isn't bad, really.

Alice: Worst case, you apotheosize.

Rand: Well, worst case, the previous argument for color cohesion fades.

  • Alice ponders how to apotheosize.

Alice: I was sort of heading in that direction as a mortal but whether it still applies, hm.

Rand: You could give everybody a reprieve from the curse of mortality.

Rand: Or, arguably, the curse of not being Imperial.

Alice: I think that'd trigger hubris.

Alice: It's only 99% and not 100% because of what humanity is, but.

Alice: I mean, as a project, it might work, but as a project I don't have to phrase it as a reprieve, the fact that it sort of is suffices.

Rand: Well, I mean, things only trigger hubris if I think they should, but I suppose "selling the HG on the idea" is basically the same process as a Project anyway.

Alice: Such cruel words! ^_^

Alice: Free will is so poorly defined.

Rand: It's not really a criticism of the process!

Alex: I need XP to level up!!!

Alex: I gotta get my Treasure from 0 to 1.

Rand: I'm just saying that if you went to the trouble of establishing the possibility you might as well formalize it with a Project.

Remy: Since Alex is participating in Remy's green quest to increase his Domain, maybe he could count it as part of his purple quest project to raise his Treasure?

Alice: Oh, yeah, I'm expecting to do a project if I can figure out what I want and where I start. ^_^

Remy: Our weird soul baby will be a good Anchor.

Alex: Pff, you wish I cared about your baby as much as I loved my cell phone.

Remy: You fool!

Remy: I guess I'll be anchoring the magic sword-puppy that grows out of your third eye in a petal-shrouded display.

Alex: Probably.

Alice: Hm. So hypothesize that a person's fundamental self is a fractal design of ink lines growing in many directions on the surface of the world. It spreads freely and according to its own rules until it encounters an external pressure that distorts and constrains its ongoing growth. Occasionally it encounters ink in other colors or the same color but harmonious patterns that don't constrain it, but rather feed it. To ensure that all such designs can grow indefinitely unfettered, when the pattern meets such a constraining force (particularly exerted by another pattern), the underlying surface needs to distort in such a fashion as to allow them to harmonize.

Alice: So we need to start with a way to properly hear/see the true self/best self, and then get access to its medium.

Alex: what

{* Alex frowns and furrows his brow.

Alice: Hm.

Remy: I think that, in this metaphor, my experience of existence has been constantly being surrounded by ink

Remy: Is it my ink? Is it other people's ink? Sometimes the division is difficult to make.

Alice: <insert pun about the Dark that I'm too lazy to think up>

Alice: So, Kukla, the Dark in 3e was partially affiliated to the id.

  • Alex nods.

Alice: And the way that got expressed was that there was something inside you that wasn't you you, and wasn't your body, and wasn't your life, and wasn't the obvious things you do, something that the Dark liked. Something… not your primal passions because you can't make Magisters out of primal passions, you can't make elegant Powers out of the service to primal passions. Something that was in you, that wanted to be expressed, that was trying to get out of you, past your ego and your superego and your body and your life, this marvelous voice, this song, this beauty, from the Dark's perspective, this path that was leading you somewhere.

Alex: Constrain someone from killing themselves and you aren't saving anything.

Alex: You're only preventing them from completing.

Alex: Disrupting the process of them.

Remy: A telos!

Alice: And some of that was the same stuff as the Wild likes, the deep power of choice, and some of it was just the stuff from the other side of the apple, the self-destructive stuff, but there's also generally… yeah, exactly. A telos. A song. A song that's going somewhere. I mean, not, like, going-to-be-President somewhere. Not going-to-the-gas-station somewhere.

Alice: A song that wants to be sung, and then wants to rest, and then… well, it's done, but another one is appearing.

Alice: Something you're held back from, that's nevertheless you.

Alice: It doesn't actually have to kill you. It's just that people mostly hold back from things that are scary.

Alice: Put a pin in that; possibly Alice just wants to kill Fear.

Alice: Anyway, I can't really figure out what it means to block a song in practice. So I was thinking about music, and spiraling notes, you know, arias over this direction, flutes doing you know what over there, and also lungs, breath, because in Creation everything is about breath, the whole song followed by song followed by song one metaphorical pair of lungs breathing.

Alice: And it seemed like it was really hard to talk about things compressing song or songs clashing. I know Tolkien did and that's venerable.

Alice: But still.

Alice: So I thought, maybe instead of sound, maybe you could draw something sort of like a fractal, and each new bit of music in a consistent theme you'd embroider and stretch that part of the image a little further in and out.

Alice: So you'd get this tattoo, this swirl of ink, this fractal image spreading in curls and whorls and spirals across the endless fabric to the pattern of music. Like a tree in two dimensions, a really fancy and curly tree.

Alice: Like… oh, like instead of playing music, you were ink soaking into a patterned fabric, running along channels in it, that could work too. I dunno.

Alice: That is the explanation of what I was talking about.

Alex: My take is…

Alex: …Imagine if you saw the story of someone's life, beginning to end.

Alex: Imagine someone changes that story to make it longer, but a worse story.

Alex: Like someone else meddling in a narrative, a consistent narrative, like self-insert fanfiction.

Alex: The right to suicide is the right to author our own tales.

Alex: To be our own editors.

Alex: From the Dark's perspective, every foiled suicide is a work of art defiled by outside interests.

Alice: There's definitely something to that, particularly since the Dark views self-preservation as enemy aliens rather than an element of the self.

Alice: And as a supporting point every death that isn't a suicide is ultimately caused by somebody or something else.

Alex: It's a little solipsistic.

Alex: Kind of defiantly so.

Alice: Only autopoeitic suicides have a properly self-contained story.

Alex: "Only you are real!" "That's clearly not true, I mean—" "ONLY. YOU. ARE REAL."

Alice: Otherwise, it's like, you're reading Batman comics avidly, and then you find out he died in a Green Arrow comic while crossing over.

Alice: So irritating! says the Dark.

Alice: "I was the night!" says Batman.

Alex: Yeah. :smile:

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