Fall Of The Mandarin Mandarin

Rand: When last we got together, certain persons among you had finally attended that murder mystery dinner, at which Tempa was murdered and then, to everybody's mild irritation, resurrected as the latest Power of Destiny.

Rand: I suppose you might as well!

Rand: However, I guess that is now in the future, as we return to the past to finish the story of the Mandarin Mandarin.

Alex: Alex is almost back to full strength, although when he cracks the knuckles on his right hand, they do not pop like fleshy knuckles do, but creak, like the oaken beam of a ship on a stormy sea.

Rand: It's important to be made of wood in moderation.

Rand: So, when last we were dealing with this story, Alice had discovered that your theoretical rival school, under the direction of the Power of Oranges, had been going all-out to win at football, including maybe turning a player or two into tangerbominations.

Rand: I say "theoretical" rival because previously you didn't really care that much and you aren't sure why they suddenly do.

Alice: They probably have advance notice of a new law coming out of Lord Entropy's court.

Alice: Serve your football team above your Imperator, and your Imperator above yourself.

Alex: "I wish I could be sure that wasn't the case," bemoans Alex, who after all these years is still not wholly adapted to the madness of the Noble society.

Rand: It's true; nobody really understands where his whimsy dial is.

Rand: I guess the question is, what do you intend to do about it?

Alice: "Arguments for doing something about it?" Alice asks. "I'm offended by turning people into tangerines but afraid of setting a precedent that we're in favor of Nobles meddling with every time some other Noble wants to do something small-scale."

Remy: "We could do something to prevent or heal the tangerine-ification process."

Alex: "I just want to know why all this is happening," admits Alex, frustrated. "I feel like the longer we go without an Excrucian attack, the more the Nobilis turn on each other in petty politics. Remember how unified, how competent, we were in the wake of the Libya Disaster?"

Rand: Hm, you wonder if that's still going on. In theory, most of the team has left, although supposedly the next game isn't cancelled.

Alex: "Something like that is going to happen again—I want to understand why these weird conspiracies are cropping up now, so that we won't have them itching at the back of our minds when the real work returns."

Alice: "That seems like something easy to ask about."

Alex: "Who do we know who might know why the Tangerine Queen is… doing this?"

Alex: "I feel like asking her directly isn't likely to be productive."

Alice: (What if you add more Will?)

Alex: Rand, what mutual peers do we have with Orange?

Rand: Well, you might be able to get Apples to talk, although you don't know how willing he'd be.

Rand: As for peers, there are certainly several.

Rand: I guess you can suggest one, if you like, from the many other entrants in the ever popular Chancel-disguised-as-university racket.

Rand: (Imperators are known to be above doing things because it's "trendy" and it's polite to ignore any patterns of behavior that cause them to appear to be doing so.)

Alice: "I liked the idea of jumping to the prosaic future to see the endgame, although I don't remember if it was her endgame we were hoping to see when the idea was floated."

Alex: Hmm. Actually, back up a step: what do we know about Orange? Does she have mortal family or peers or other non-Power associates we could bug?

Rand: Hm, Onyeka's been around for four or five years. You aren't familiar with her family, although she may have some. She's involved with… let me see.

Rand: She's a fan of talismanic sempstry, although she doesn't have many accomplishments given that it usually takes a few decades to master.

Rand: It also sucks up huge amounts of CP and is hell on a normal build, although that's a 2e thing. ^_^

Rand: She's involved in fruit trading with various groups.

Rand: Some of that is just high-quality regular fruit, because who doesn't want really good tangerines?

Rand: But you can also get magical fruits grown to spec at great expense.

Alice: "Could she just be testing the fruit?"

Alex: "It's possible. This might not be about us at all, per se."

Alice: Alice ponders. "No, wait, there was an active attempt to win at the end."

Alex: "Mmm, true."

Remy: "If this is all a test, I think we'd be justified in intervening."

Alice: "Pity, it was a good theory."

Alex: "Who else is in the Fruit Cartel? That sounds like a Cammora gig."

Alice: "The First Lord of the Dark's got a stake," Alice admits.

Alex: "And the lord of Hell has pomegranates, doesn't he?"

Rand: I don't know why this campaign is overwhelmingly fruit-themed but even so there is probably not a whole fruit cartel.

Alex: "Technically, acorns are fruit."

Rand: Until I go completely off the deep end and bring in the Lemon Lord and the Raspberry Rajah.

  • Alex sighs. "Okay, no, they aren't."

Rand: The Duke of Tomatoes and the Lady of Tomahtoes.

Alice: "In a way, aren't we all fruit?"

Alice: Alice looks off into the distance, wisely.

Alex: Alex musses Alice's perfect hair.

Alex: "Let's try Apples. Remind me, does he owe us any favors, or do we owe him favors?"

Rand: Hm, how much did you gouge him for getting rid of the remodelers?

Remy: I don't think much, given how little we did

Alex: "Yeah, it was a pretty trivial affair."

  • Alex set the channel topic: "In Which Oranges And Apples Are Compared"

Alex: Alex skips ahead and calls Apple's secretary. He starts pushing for a conference call. Aspect 2 miracle for Level 5 intention.

Alice: Alice ponders. She dimly remembers getting quite angry when she actually heard the story, so possibly she does want to interfere, although she really can't remember the details why. Probably touched a personal landmine? Hm.

Rand: That seems pretty reasonable to get a call through with a reasonable time investment.

Alice: Alice took a three-week vacation in the Caribbean, secretly loved and lost, befriended a singing crab, and uncovered the secrets of the tritons sometime between leaving the guy's house and an hour later when she explained what she learned to everyone else so some of her emotions have subsided.

Rand: These things do happen.

Rand: So instead of demanding that you go through a three-week investigation, you might as well just get it from Ahanu.

Rand: I totally did not have to spend ten seconds remembering what his name was, either!

Alex: Ahanu is Apples, right.

Rand: Yeah, Provost Ahanu Dawson, Power of Apples.

Rand: Healthy fella. Not that great at games of social maneuver. Also not a big fan of chrome.

Alice: Is he related to Hanuman?

Rand: Well, he's never said.

Rand: But he's a big dude of Cherokee descent and not a magic monkey.

Alex: Alex places his phone on the counter between the three Familia. "Thanks for your time, Ahanu. We know you're a busy man, we'll spare you the hemming and hawwing—do you know why Onyeka was so dead-set on winning the football game a couple weeks ago?"

Rand: Except insofar as any Power of human descent is arguably a magic monkey.

Alice: Half-monkey, half-creek, all apple.

Rand: "I'm, uh, not surprised you called," says Ahanu. "People have been asking a lot of questions. Many of them good ones."

Rand: "I think, uh, Onyeka's been making a big push to increase our perceived standing, which, uh, competition, yes."

Rand: "Because it's a competition, that's right, and things got somewhat out of hand, which I am doing my best to remedy."

Rand: This is not a completely coherent statement.

Rand: Although it feels vaguely familiar.

Rand: It's kind of like the speech you had to give after your Imperator ordered you to steal Ananda's stockings so that she could bake them into a pie.

Rand: ie, it has the feeling of someone who isn't prepared to admit to how stupid the actual reason is and is having to cover this fact with blather.

Remy: Remy makes the universal hand signal for do-you-want-this-conversation-sped-up-by-divine-fiat?

Alice: "It must be terribly tough on you," Alice sympathizes. "How are you standing with the competition and the remedying of the big that's right push?"

Alex: Alex grimaces, remembering that whole goddamned debacle. Sometimes Imperial wisdom and utter idiocy are hard to distinguish. "I imagine your student body isn't too thrilled to be shot through with orange pulp, no. Listen, this whole thing is… there's some collateral damage. I know people in our position are often obliged to cause some of that, but it's still… less is better. And this is ruining some lives."

Alex: "How can we help you resolve this situation?"

Rand: Ahanu briefly considers this question before the conversation is sped up by divine fiat.

Rand: You find yourselves at the logical endpoint of this dialogue tree—namely, your favorite college bar, where Ahanu has been persuaded to unload his troubles at the bottom of some really big mugs.

Rand: While that happens you can tell me what sort of bar it is, anyway.

Alex: It's a place that has clearly been a dive bar in the past. But then it found a new owner and got spruced up a bit.

Rand: "I said, I said, she's been really going mad about the football," mourns Ahanu, after you drag out something potent-enough to actually have an effect on his apple-enhanced body.

Rand: Perhaps it was not the speed force that brought you here, but a comedy jump cut.

Alice: Presumably it's scumble.

Rand: "And the giant laser."

Alice: Perhaps the sports bar is even "Are you ready to scumble?"

Rand: Why are you trying to have Ahanu made into a beverage?

Rand: Well, mainly Ahanu.

Alice: In the end, we can only really become drunk on ourselves.

Rand: "I said, I said it's just a game! And people aren't going to care if we win! Well, probably the students will care, I mean, but that's not the, the, the point."

Alex: "Is this an Onyeka thing or an Oranges thing?"

Alice: Alice's eyes are briefly sparkly as she imagines it as an oranges thing. A grand scheme to one day replace footballs with oranges.

Alex: "Like, is Oranges demanding she go mad on the football or is this something coming from her?"

Rand: "Oh, it's very personal. At least, I can't see any reason why the divine madness of oranges would push her to throw a billion dollars at the football team."

Remy: "Let me guess–she wants to become a household name?"

Alex: "Where did she even get a billion dollars? That's a lot of money to throw around even for us."

Rand: "She said Incomparable would be a household, yeah, and that everybody would fear our giant laser, and that we had to make sure we kept out all the svart-elves."

Alice: Alice squints.

Alice: "Can Powers even get dementia animus?"

Rand: "Yeah, that's a lot of money! And we could have used it for the gardening department, or the actual classes, or even to spend it on actual sports instead of just giving Coach Astromundi more money than he knows what to, to, to do with."

Rand: "Poor guy didn't even steal any. It's just sitting there, only Onyeka will notice if I steal it back."

Alex: Alex drums his fingers on the table, rat a tat tat. "That's weird. Very weird. If we were mortal I'd been thinking it was an embezzlement thing. Is it magic money? Will you break some spell if you take it back?"

Rand: "Nah, she just pays attention to that stuff. When she isn't painting everything orange."

Rand: "She even paints apples orange if you don't watch her."

Rand: "She says they can be both at once."

Alice: "Inconceivable."

Rand: "I think," says Ahanu. "I think. I think… this is really good beer."

Alice: "Hey," Alice says. "Was she always, ah, two buckets short of a handle?"

Alice: "Or is this a new thing?"

Alex: "It is good beer," agrees Alex, savoring a mug.

Rand: "Uh… it's kind of been going on for a few years," Ahanu admits.

Rand: "You know, first there was just the painting things orange thing."

Rand: "She'd, she'd paint something orange, and I'd say 'nobody wants orange chocolate', and then we'd fight and eventually she'd probably give in."

Alex: "Had she not heard of chocolate oranges?"

Rand: "But then it started to get really bad, like, sometimes she'd get it into her head to turn all the ink in the textbooks orange-on-black or something, and it went on for weeks."

Alex: "That's… um." Alex is disturbed.

Rand: "I wound up getting her off that by distracting her with the football team, and she's never let that idea go."

Remy: "Have you asked your Imperator?"

Rand: "I'm… a little afraid to?"

Alice: Alice texts Emmony: hey u is there a warmain that like does the test of going totally whackadoodle? xxoo

Rand: "Satrahi is… unworldly? And he tends to be deeply impressed by Onyeka's… uh… air of certainty."

Alex: "No connection to the mortal plane, eh?"

Alex: "I expected a conspiracy. Lunacy is far more unsettling."

Rand: "Oh, you have no idea. I'm not one-hundred-percent sure I'd win that performance review. Fifty-fifty at best."

Remy: "Satrahi's Wild, I'm guessing?"

Remy: "This… doesn't actually sound all that unusual for a Power embracing the Song of the Wild, does it?"

Rand: Emmony replies: "We like to say 'how would you know' but really that's too easy. Would you like to go mad? We've got people."

Rand: True God.

Rand: Imagine a giant squid made entirely of fruit, including your eyeballs.

Remy: "That… doesn't sound totally implausible for a Power communing with a big glop of divinity that encompasses apples and oranges."

Rand: "You don't catch me communing so hard I dunk everybody I meet in sour-apple perfume."

Alice: Alice texts: dont be silly we're all mad here

Rand: "No matter how great that would smell."

Alex: Alex is spending a lot of this conversation quiet, clearly thinking hard.

Remy: "But are we sure this is a bad thing? I don't want innocents exploding into orangestrosities, but if we can mitigate the harm, I don't see why Onyeka shouldn't be allowed to live her theme."

Alex: "Is she a Color's-Regal?" Alex refers, of course, to the collection of Nobles with tremendous power over their estate of a Color and little other peripheral ability.

Rand: I guess she is, if only by extension.

Rand: The orange fruit is her main deal but she's branched out to having power over the color.

Rand: Or at least to being obsessed with it.

Rand: I'm not actually sure how much divine breadth there is in power over the color orange.

Rand: I guess there's a fair amount if you've completely lost it.

Alex: "…I'm not going to pretend the prospect of a deranged Color's-Regal doesn't set me on edge."

Rand: Like, you've met White and Blue and they both have a fair amount of power over, like, "blue stuff," but they run the risk of diluting their brand if they summon blue versions of a bunch of stuff that doesn't fit.

Alex: "I don't think I've ever spoken with Onyeka in person. What's her usual schedule like? Do you think she's amenable to, ah, an intervention? Social pressure?"

Rand: But if you don't care you can do a fair amount of "I summon Tangervakk, the unstoppable matriarch of the orange dragons, who as you know breathe uranium" before it starts to burn you.

Alex: And I'm worried she doesn't care!

Rand: (Specifically the burn point is where people say "does being orange even mean anything any more?".)

Alice: "I've never seen a script where someone starts with amusingly eccentric behavior in act one and moves on to blindly hurting people in act two that ends well," Alice observes. "But technically I suppose that as long as destiny keeps entangling everyone in a sinister web narrative causality won't take over."

Rand: "She keeps pretty busy," says Ahanu. "Doing, you know, stuff. Experimenting with orange super-athlete serums. Building giant lasers. Trying to arrange a merger with Stanford."

Alex: "Tell me about this laser."

Rand: "Uh, it's a laser… and it's giant… and it's supposed to destroy Yale."

Rand: "Originally it was powered by oranges."

Rand: "That didn't really work so she moved on to solar power and metaphors."

Rand: "Which, not so hot, either."

Remy: "…that sounds less benign. We should almost definitely stop her now."

Alex: "How does Oranges feel about this? The Estate, not Onyeka."

Rand: "How would I know? That's completely divorced from my field of knowledge, such that I could never perceive it."

Alex: Alex glances aside to Remy. "Do you remember anything about the… entity… we encountered in the Deep Mythic?"

Alex: "I remember it was concealing its nature behind mirrors. I don't know that we ever got past those."

Rand: "Anyway, I think she's looking to capture fire elementals from the heart of the earth as a new power source, but that's bogged down, too."

Remy: "The one I ate? Yeah. I still don't know if that was a metaphor or not."

Rand: "I've kind of been encouraging her to spend time on it because at least it hasn't turned anybody into orange glorp yet."

Alex: Alex rubs the oak-gall on his forehead.

Alice: "I don't think we're allowed to shoot major Universities," Alice says. "Unless we can make it look like an accident."

Alex: "Alright. And your Imperator is—it's not something you can have a conversation with. We can't ask it about Oranges."

Rand: "I'm just sort of… I dunno, I'm assuming it's an issue. If this isn't an issue, I have to assume issues don't exist."

Rand: "I'd just… it would be nice if I could find some way to demonstrate that maybe she should be quietly put out to orchard."

Rand: "Or at least not given such a huge laser budget."

Rand: "Why don't I have a laser budget? I could build a bonsai ray or something."

Alice: "What would your Imperator accept as a demonstration?"

Rand: Ahanu considers this.

Rand: "Like… if she got hit in the face with a pie? A big pie? In public?"

Rand: …you realize to your dismay that Ahanu has absolutely no imagination.

Rand: "She has this habit of failing so hard it looks like a success, if only because of the size of the crater."

Alice: "I don't know what fruit-squids think of as embarrassing failures," Alice says, and scratches behind her ear. She googles squid embarrassment on her phone, but the only meaningful result is inconclusive.

Alice: "Probably… rot? And… getting eaten? Or… is that just normal? I know loser true gods are normally the ones that get eaten, but fruit-squids might be exceptions."

Rand: Caught on camera eating vegetables?

Remy: "What if you made her question her certainty? Then she wouldn't be the favorite Power."

Rand: Or meat!

Rand: "The notion is appealing, albeit one that describes a completely unprecedented event."

Alex: "I think Remy's right. We need to shake her confidence in her own madness. Coincidentally this is also the least comedy option."

Remy: "I think we can still work some levity into this. Levity is a good antidote to certainty."

Rand: "We could… bake her into a pie?"

Rand: "A tomato pie. The exact opposite of an orange."

Remy: "Yuck!"

Alice: "Can't you just build a closer relationship to your Imperator than she has by not falling quite so far from the tree?"

Alex: "Being a primordial, ancient being isn't something you can just turn on."

Alice: "Spoken like a true Hollywood outsider."

Alex: "If you know how…?"

Alex: "…Actually, you know what, please don't demonstrate. I'm not quite ready for that."

Alice: Alice continues to study things on her phone. "Here we go," she says. "The Asian citrus psyllid. It infects orange trees with the 'citrus greening disease,' HLB."

Alice: "Getting greening disease sounds like it would be extremely embarrassing, thematic, and confidence-undermining for her all in one!"

Remy: "We could also use it to blackmail her into growing cure-fruits for her victims, as long as we have a way to reverse it."

Alice: Alice turns her phone around to display <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/1e/Huanglongbing.jpg>

Remy: "…greenmail?"

Rand: One color-related turn deserves another.

Alex: "I'm entirely down with this."

Alice: "Excellent," Alice says. "You were the one I was worried might be uncomfortable with the idea."

Rand: Tree loyalty for life!

Alex: "No, this honestly sounds good. This kind of thing is useful to remind us we're human."

Alex: "Nothing makes me pine for the days of being a mortal man like having a goddamned oak gall on my forehead."

Alex: "Something to shake up her rabid attachment to oranges might be good."

Remy: "It contributes to your saintly bearing!"

Alex: Alex smiles thinly.

Alice: Alice ponders. "My rough plan is something like this," she says. "I'm good at binding things together. So either I kind of hook together some citrus psyllids with… something better suited to infect a person, or, I crank up an orange tree's personal connection to her and infect her through that. I'm open to ideas involving apple-based science, fey, speed, or whatnot."

Rand: "We could… poison her giant laser? By filling the fuel tanks with, uh, diseases?"

Alice: "Or tree insight," Alice concludes, after using a headcount.

Rand: "Or I guess just coat it with the stuff so that when she rubs her face on it she gets sick."

Alex: "Booby-trap the laser? That's not a terrible plan. What do you think of that, Remy?"

Alex: Alex furrows his brow. "She rubs her face on her laser?"

Rand: "Man, wouldn't you, if you had a laser?"

Alice: Alice ponders.

Remy: "I could just take it apart. Just like Superman dismantling nukes!"

Rand: "I'm always rubbing my face on my favorite stuff."

Alice: "Yes," Alice admits.

Remy: "I don't think I know enough laser science to properly sabotage it."

Alice: "However, I would not be reliable about it."

Rand: "That's why it and all my possessons are so shiny."

Alex: "…like an apple you rub on your shirt?" asks Alex, tentatively.

Rand: "Yeah!"

Alex: Alex lets that one lie.

Alex: "Alright, we'll disease her laser."

Rand: "We'll give it the pips," agrees Ahanu.

Alice: "Huh," Alice says. She squints in thought. "OK, so, I have absolutely no idea what would happen if I just wondrously tied the fates of some citrus phyllids and the laser together, whereas I'm pretty confident that I can make some sort of stable HLB that can be caught by humans to rub on the laser but that has potential unintended consequences."

Rand: "Does it have to be able to be caught by humans? I mean, logically, she's a kind of orange."

Rand: "I mean, doctors are repelled by my presence, is all I'm saying."

Alice: "How solid are we on that? Like…"

Alice: Alice looks at Alex. "Do you, like, can you get, oak diseases?"

Alice: "I've never caught a respite-specific illness except I don't know that I would even know if I did."

Alex: "I can, yeah. It's a Noble-by-Noble thing. Some of us have less distinguishing us from our estates than others."

Alice: Alice squints a bit at the potential paradox there.

Alice: Alice nods. "OK, then that's really easy."

Alex: "If she's as mad for orange as she sounds, she can probably catch orange diseases."

Rand: "If nothing else, it's probably easier to find out than to retrofit an orange disease for humans."

Rand: "Plus you don't start an embarrassing plague."

Alex: "Yes."

Alex: "Plagues are bad."

Rand: "Especially if they can happen to apples."

Alex: "How exactly are you making this disease?

Alex: "Ah, right, the reconciliation."

Alice: "It's an actual disease," Alice says. "We just need Remy to speed it up and … I guess I can reconcile some psyllids with, like, ninjas or glass or something to make them harder to spot."

Rand: "Also you probably have to sneak into her secret laser laboratory."

Rand: "Although, it's bright orange and pointed directly at Yale, so, not that secret."

Remy: Remy takes a second to try breaching the lab's security

Rand: Well, there's an orange disintegration field.

Rand: Natty orange stormtroopers.

Alice: Alice gives a brief lecture on the marvelous Asian citrus psyllid, which also exists in the real world, which is a very small bug that infests orange trees and produces the greening shown in the image before.

Rand: Oh, and some oranges, which you suspect would probably do bad things to you if you picked one off the wall and ate one.

Rand: Or maybe not, who knows.

Alex: "So we just get those in her shampoo."

Remy: Are these the kind of guards that need air to stay conscious?

Alice: "Oh, …that…"

Alice: Alice nods. "Yeah, just getting them in the shampoo, while less poetic, would be smarter."

Rand: The stormtroopers probably do. The disintegration field, probably not.

Alex: "Does she wash?"

Rand: "Our campus is highly shampoo'd."

Remy: Well, Remy can at least knock them out with a superspeed vortex vacuum deal. One of his siblings can handle the disintegrator

Rand: Also there are fruit golems.

Rand: Honestly, the fruit golems don't really look that intimidating.

Rand: Imagine if you folded an orange into human shape and gave it a pike.

Remy: Aww

Alex: Ugh.

Alice: (Orange you glad I didn't fold bananas?)

Alex: :weary:

Rand: :|

Alice: "Let's sneak into her bathroom instead and I'll reconcile the psyllids with her shampoo—they'd probably just die if I stuck them in there—and then Remy can speed up from there to success."

Alex: Anyway. Let's boobytrap her most private place—her bathroom.

Rand: Sounds safe.

Alice: "If we're caught while breaking in, our official story is performance art and the story we tell when forced to admit the truth is that we'd heard her shower was absolutely incredible."

Alex: "…sure, fuck it," says Alex, finally surrendering to madness. "Why not."

Remy: "I don't think she's in a place to pick holes in our cover."

Rand: Well, it's nine-twenty, so… I guess you just do this.

Rand: Some days later, you get notice from Ahanu that Onyeka has locked herself in her chambers and hasn't been seen for some time.

Rand: Now is the time to contact her in the guise of the dreaded Fruit Mafia and do blackmails.

Rand: Wait, fruit vikings.

Remy: Oh, no!

Rand: "Do you have any… secrets… you want to sell the fruitviking?"

Alice: "THUS DOES THE FILTHY GREEN OF MONEY TAINT ALL WHO DARE PROFANE IT"

Alex: "Alice, you're the actress. You take point on this nonsense," he urges discreetly.

Alice: Alice nods. "I didn't realize we were blackmailing her," she admits. "I thought we were just embarrassing her. What do we want?"

Rand: Blackmail is embarrassing!

Remy: "A magical cure to fix the orangesformations!"

Rand: "I was honestly already working on that," says Ahanu. "Anyway, there's only one guy who turned into an orange."

Alex: "Well, let's do it for whats-his-face."

Alice: "All right," Alice says. "How about we want her to not shoot any universities?"

Rand: "The fewer universities shot, the better, it's true. Unless it's Harvard."

Alice: "I mean, I don't really care about that, but I think we're supposed to provide peer pressure against it or something."

Alex: "Anything that stops her from running amok on the populace."

Alice: Alice finds a green oni mask and appropriate clothing.

Rand: Hm, that's no viking. It's an orange ogre!

  • Rand tries to name some kind of goblin that feeds on oranges.

Alice: Alice frowns at her recognizable paraphernalia, but whatever. She holsters a considerate gun on her ankle, wears fake furry hands over her portal gauntlet and… lack of portal gauntlet on the other hand, grabs and activates a radio communicator of some sort, and says, "Right, off I go."

Alex: "If things go horribly wrong, we'll be right there.

Alice: Alice knocks at Oranges' door, with anyone else who wants to be incognito with her and hopefully everyone else just a hall away.

Rand: There is no answer.

Remy: Remy phases his head through

Alice: Alice says, sepulchrally, "GREEN HAS COME."

Rand: The inside of the room is…

Rand: Well, it's green.

Rand: You can still see a few signs of the original obsessive orange theme, but now everything has gone greenish.

Rand: It's kind of like… well, you see the pictures of what citrus greening disease does.

Alice: Alice waits five or ten seconds for a reply, then kicks the door.

Rand: In the center of the room is a giant orange.

Remy: "Huh."

Rand: Well, a giant green-and-a-bit-of-orange.

Rand: A woman's head is sticking out of it.

Rand: (head status: also green)

Remy: "Hello, Lady Orange!"

Rand: Her head slowly rotates to look at you, possibly without actual seeing being involved.

Rand: She wears the expression you wear when you've come down from an extended episode of something-or-other to have a nervous breakdown while stuffed into a giant orange of your own creation.

Rand: As you do.

Remy: "You look like you could use a friend."

Rand: "You intrude into the realm of the Mandarin Mandarin."

Rand: Her affect is flat.

Rand: She can't really muster any real indignation. Maybe you aren't even real!

Remy: "Pardon my rudeness, but she looks more like the Emerald Mandarin to me."

Rand: "Don't tell me what color I am," she says flatly.

Rand: "Only orange things can exist here, in the center of my power."

Remy: "Well, in that case, what we're dealing with is a case of orangemail."

Remy: "Or maybe an orangetervention?"

Remy: "Either way, step one is introductions. My name's Remy; I'm Speed. Want to come out of your bathroom and say hi to the rest of us?"

Rand: Onyeka retreats into her orange.

Rand: Possibly it is her happy place.

Rand: Or possibly not.

Rand: Whatever untouchable cloud she was on before, you guess this isn't it.

Remy: Remy phases his head back out. "She's gone all Violet Beauregard. Alice, want to peel this one open?"

Alice: Alice's oni mask turns to regard Remy for a moment.

Alice: Alice nods. Intention 5 ("People shouldn't be contained" + 2 Will): Kick the door down. Applicable level 2 Bond.

Rand: I mean… it's an orange. How do you go about this?

Alice: … there was a door.

Alice: It didn't open.

Rand: I kind of assumed that it opened when you kicked it.

Alice: I didn't get any reply from you as to whether it was kickable, then realized that Remy was probably standing with his head through it so didn't press the matter.

Alice: Alice walks in, anyway, since the door is now open from one or the other event.

Alex: Yes, now we have a woman hidden within an orange.

Rand: You enter the room. There is an orange.

Remy: How allegorical.

Alice: Alice regards the orange. She says, flatly, "You have brought this on yourself with your greed and your focus on material fame. These things belong to GREEN. You have lost your way."

Alice: "I don't know if you can hear me, because you are not corn. To be corn would be to be yellow. To be yellow would also be to have lost your way. However, if you can hear me, I am about to relocate your somewhat green self to a public square."

Rand: "You speak lies! Soon, my pumpkin currency will be adopted by many major nations! Many!"

Alice: "Ah," Alice says. "I retract the immediate threat, as you have responded."

Remy: "Pumpkins aren't even fruit. You're being thematically inconsistent."

Alice: "To believe that your pumpkin currency will be adopted by many major nations—this is illusion. This is a lie of the mind."

Rand: "Pumpkins are a kind of orange."

Remy: "That'd be like if I tried to shore up my Estate by peddling amphetamines!"

Rand: "All currencies are lies!"

Alice: "To be Orange is to be above the lies of the mind. It is to be above the lies of the world. To be a true Orange is to be… pure."

Rand: "You think I'm not pure! I'm so pure! The purest! It's sad!"

Alice: "There is nothing pure," Alice says, practically spitting the word, "in lasers. There is nothing pure in turning people into monsters, if that is not the thing you mean to do. You have lost your way. If you had not lost your way why have you begun to see orange things as green?"

Alice: "The true purity is within," Alice says. She thumps her chest with one furry paw, barely avoiding triggering a portal that would kill her. "The pulp, Onyeka. The seeds. Not the mortal peel."

Rand: "This is… this is a new shade of orange, which I have invented."

Alice: "Let me wake you from your insanity," Alice says. She extends the paw of compassion. "Let me grant you freedom from the madness that has seized you. Let me grant you the power to really understand that the true orange is within." Gently she pats the giant green orange with the paw of compassion. "Let me free you before it is too late and you fall into the thousand unripened hells."

Alice: "There you will not grow, but only wither. There you will not ripen, and the juice that squeezes from you will be like dust. There they will laugh as they pump you full of meat juice and turn you into meat. But I can save you. I can open your eyes to the truth, Onyeka. You only have to accept it."

Rand: Hm, where are you going with this?

Alex: I'd guess a respite from madness?

Alice: Alice is trying to sell her on the idea that she has fallen into samsara and needs to think more spiritually and less laser/footbally so that when she gives her a respite from green she'll accept it as a spiritual sign.

Alice: Alice can also offer a respite from dopamine/seratonin imbalance but cannot actually give a respite from something as abstract as madness, so she doesn't know if the former will actually help.

Rand: "My eyes are open. So open. Look, I've got my third eye gaping wide."

Rand: You cannot actually see if this is so, because of the giant orange.

Alice: "Then see what I am offering you," Alice says. "See what you can achieve if you set the pettiness of fame and lasers and painting material things orange aside." She turns over her paw and as she does so, even though there's nothing actually in/on it to see, she turns on Glorious.

Alice: It's not as big a deal to Powers who've seen dozens like this—but not hundreds. Not thousands. In that moment there is little in the world that seems more important than the woman in the green oni mask with her furry paw extended. (Major Creation of Emotion.)

Rand: Hm.

Rand: The orange waits. Expectantly?

Rand: It is definitely on the expectant side for a giant orange.

Alice: Alice sweatdrops, but she can handle this. She was expecting that to do it, but she can handle this. Whatever idea she comes up with, it'll come at the right time. Um um um. She just needs to… reconcile… the ephemeral nothingness, the timeless spiritual element of things as indicated by the focus of one's inner eye, and orange.

Alice: Yes. This is wise, right? Yes. Of course it is. Because the show must go on. Threads of reconciliation force whip out. She weaves together orangeness and emptiness. Hopefully contained to the concept of her words, or the space above her hand. Treasure… um… looking up possibilities…

Rand: There is a terrible moment of stillness.

Rand: And of looking things up.

Alice: Treasure 4, 2 TMP.

Rand: And then "Yes! Yes!"

Rand: "I understand."

Rand: "I shall become… a buddha."

Rand: "The biggest buddha. The marmalade bodhisattva."

Rand: "Nobody will be as enlightened as I!"

Rand: Slowly, the great orange levitates into the air.

Alice: "Your eyes are finally open," Alice says, and offers a mudra of benediction, even as she does so sending a respite to the HLB (designed to happen over a few minutes). (Domain 4, 1 DMP)

Rand: "I see eeeeeeeeverything," says Onyeka, although, this is probably not the case.

Rand: Even with miracles it is a difficult thing, to construct a new buddha.

Remy: "You'll have to give up your laser. Buddhas don't keep WMDs!"

Rand: "Well, whatever. I've got the laser of right vision."

Rand: "Eye beams. The biggest!"

Alice: Alice squints, and also reconciles the color of her mask quickly with the respite to the HLB so that it'll turn orange as the HLB fades. This… is two actions so she simply watches impassively until the process finishes. (Treasure 3, 1 TMP, some sort of mundane action.)

Remy: "Just so!"

Rand: "Wait, who are you again?"

Rand: And that was the saga of the Mandarin Mandarin.

Rand: Now more properly known as the Marmalade Boddhisatva, at least until next month.

Alex: Not a well person.

Alice: It isn't easy being green.

Alex: groan

Alice: It's like being a frog in an unwell.

Alice: 5 XP, 4 Noble XP?

Rand: Sure.

Alice: Yay!

Alice: Thank you for running!

Rand: I'm not sure to be glad or sorry that nobody caught on to the Trump reference.

  • Alice immediately spends her Noble XP on mundane abilities.

Alex: Wait. XP?

Remy: I caught it, but suppressed.

Rand: I mean, seriously, she was a giant tangerine empress obsessed with making things increasingly yuge.

Alex: Hee hee hee.

Alice: I'm glad I didn't catch that, or it would have been hard to be so sympathetic!

Alice: I have limitless compassion but limitlessness can only take you so far!

Remy: That's why I suppressed.

Remy: I don't want to do the escape velocity punch just yet!

Rand: Originally it was going to be a story about "you find out one of your peers is just not very good at her job and scheme to replace her" but ultimately that's just too last-resort a scheme to be a good premise.

Rand: Even if getting Veronica to become the orange goddess would be one way to keep her out of politics.

Alex: It's a rare situation, for nobles. Normally you do, in fact, rise to the occassion.

Alex: The office elevates the officeholder.

Rand: Yeah, most of the ways to be noticeably bad at your job require a certain element of deliberation.

Rand: At least, to be noticeable to your peers and not to a trail of hungry Excrucians.

Alice: Yeah.

Alice: Nobles normally care about their jobs, are normally in perfect health and highly competent, and are never notionally underqualified.

Alice: I mean, Aspect 0 alone has got to be so good for getting things done.

Remy: You never won't have the energy to take a shower again.

Alex: Speaking of…

Alex: What's this about XP?

Alex: When did we start getting XP? What can I use it for?!?

Remy: It's a joke.

Alex: :C

Alex: I was hoping to be able to level up my Treasure. :weary:

Remy: I think technically our Domain baby is a loosely abstracted project.

Alex: I try to solve so many problems with phone calls, getting my phone in to an Anchor would be convenient.

Remy: Time for a purple Arc!

Rand: Yeah, this calls for a project! A project to prove your love for your cell phone.

Alex: I endorse this.

Remy: Meanwhile, Remy is probably struggling with weird metaphysical side effects.

Remy: Which probably eventually boil over into identity issues with his Estate.

Alex: You need more pep.

Remy: More the kind of identity issues where he becomes completely disconnected from being a human.

Alex: What's his Persona at?

Remy: 2.

Remy: I… don't remember why?

Alice: Because you unlocked your Persona, and then the Persona of one friend?

Alice: I AM THOU AND THOU ART I.

Alex: Very high Persona is a good way to blur the bounds between you and your Estate.

Remy: Speed is weird.

Remy: Its Domain is Persona-like and its Persona is Domain-like .

Remy: I can use Emulations to shoot fireballs and lightning.

Remy: And zapping my mind with Domain basically lets me be a cosmic overmind.

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