Keeping Up With The Homo Sapiens, Part Five

<Rand Brittain> No Uqbarian tonight, I fear.

<crusher_bob> There was shopping to be done! Or people to be set on fire! Or both at the same time!

<Nentuaby> Probably the last.

<crusher_bob> Now I just have to avoid coming off as the evil stepmother, along with her apprentice in villainy.

<Rand Brittain> Except that your apples actually are poisoned.

<Nentuaby> Hurm?

<Rand Brittain> Well, they're poison-ish. Certainly a drug!

<crusher_bob> Nonsense.

<crusher_bob> Our not-brother ate them, and he is still just as secretly devoted to destroying Creation as he as always been.

<Nentuaby> Perhaps ill-disguised Excrucians are a poor model organism for Noble biology. ;)

<crusher_bob> Well, our alternative test subject was our other brother and he is full of from-beyond-Creation-stuff, too.

<crusher_bob> So it's not like we had a great selection to choose from.

<Rand Brittain> And he wouldn't even eat it!

<Rand Brittain> Where is he, anyway?

<Rand Brittain> Maybe we should just do apple delivery.

  • You are now known as HollyhockGod
  • crusher_bob is now known as Ebba

<Ebba> Since there was just shopping done last time, that would be fair.

<Hollyhock God> Tell me your secret plan!

<Ebba> (I figured we'd just show up at her place of residence and knock.)

<Ebba> (You don't like this plan? :D)

<Hollyhock God> More details!

<Ebba> Well, since I am still wounded from my Word of Command, I probably play the part of the evil stepmother a bit too well.

<Ebba> And am carrying a wicker picnic basket full of apples.

<Hollyhock God> Gingham?

<Nentuaby> (Gingham? I hardly know 'im!)

<Ebba> I think he was asking about a gingham cover over the apples, to complete the image.

<Hollyhock God> No, I meant a dress.

<Hollyhock God> (It's like Uqbarian is some kind of disembodied punning force that will possess another player if he isn't here to crack bad jokes himself.)

<Ebba> I was leaning toward the white hooded robe aesthetic, myself.

<Hollyhock God> I see! And Marcus?

<Nentuaby> Oh, my normal attire, I should think. A proper four piece suit with a dapper bowler.

<Hollyhock God> A bowler hat is your normal attire?

<Hollyhock God> That is so weird.

<Hollyhock God> Anyway, you arrive at Maliq's Chancel, home to some weird Imperator I haven't really detailed.

<Nentuaby> Well, when I'm dressed up.

<Hollyhock God> It is a craggy castle, surrounded by bats, wolves, and ominous lightnings!

<Hollyhock God> As you pass through the main gate, security cameras rotate around to focus on you.

<Ebba> Behold, zer castle!

<Hollyhock God> Ebba's super eyes detect hidden laser arrays just off the path that will trigger if you try to go anywhere that isn't on the road.

<Hollyhock God> Ahead, you see the large, wooden front doors. There is a button on the door.

<Ebba> Is there a big omious door knocker?

<Hollyhock God> Yes, that also.

  • Nentuaby is now known as Marcus

<Ebba> So does it go <boom> <boom> <boom> in a satisfying manner?

<Hollyhock God> Yes! Nobody answers.

<Marcus> "Early Universal Horror. Classy."

<Ebba> "Hmm, but no one seems to be answering. I supposed we should just let ourselves in?"

<Marcus> "Hmmm. They might be trying to tell us to go away, but I think it's more likely they're just setting us up for the door to slam itself behind us. So, yes."

<Hollyhock God> But there's a button! Button!

<Ebba> Never! :D

<Hollyhock God> "Need a laugh? Yes/Hell Yes"

<Marcus> (Intercoms are for servants.)

<Ebba> Fine, I press the button.

<Marcus> (And the other reason for a big button on the door is for, well, boobies. :P)

<Hollyhock God> Snip, crackle. "Yes? <tartly> Who is it? Why are you bothering me? Go away!"

<Ebba> "Apple delivery."

<Hollyhock God> "….what?"

  • Marcus lets Ebba do the talking.

<Ebba> "We are here to see the Domina Invidiae."

<Hollyhock God> "I don't want to be seen! Go away!"

<Ebba> "Then I suppose we'll just leave this basket of apples here in front of your door. And when you're feeling better, you can come out and get them…"

<Hollyhock God> A square in the door opens. A telescopic eyestalk pops out and looks up at you.

<Hollyhock God> "You!"

<Hollyhock God> Then it looks down at the basket.

<Hollyhock God> It does an emote like you do when a "!" appears over your head.

<Hollyhock God> It retracts.

<Hollyhock God> A telescopic claw comes out and grabs for the basket.

<Hollyhock God> Snatch! Snatch!

<Ebba> "Hpmh. Perhaps you should open the door for us to that we can deliver them in person?"

<Hollyhock God> Are you giving up the basket?

<Ebba> Not right away, anyway.

<Ebba> Speed is a device of Shaitan, after all.

<Hollyhock God> "Damn you! What do you want from me?"

<Ebba> "A conversation."

<Ebba> "Hopefully one that doesn't end with someone being set on fire."

<Ebba> "You'll note that my Sister does not accompany me."

<Hollyhock God> There is a pause.

<Hollyhock God> The door swings slowly open.

<Ebba> <to Marcus> "Shall we?"

<Marcus> "Indeed."

<Hollyhock God> The inside of the castle is all ancient, dusty cooridors and huge, empty rooms.

<Hollyhock God> Some of the rooms have been sealed off by glass panels. Behind them, you can see sterile workspaces filled with jars and a general scientific look about them.

<Hollyhock God> Extension cords drape down from the wrought-iron chandeliers, and computers have been plugged into them. They hum quietly as they crunch numbers.

<Hollyhock God> You follow a trail of lights leading up stairs and deeper inward.

<Ebba> (No signs of other people?)

<Hollyhock God> No, although you do see the remains of someone's turkey sandwich left on a desk.

<Marcus> (Poor turkey.)

<Ebba> (Well, I could see Maliq eating a turkey sandwich, so it's not really proof of other people, right?)

<Hollyhock God> You arrive in a small, chapel-like room.

<Hollyhock God> At the far end of the room is a screen, lit from behind. You can see the shadow of a female figure with insane hair cast onto the screen from behind.

<Hollyhock God> "Well? What's all this? Have you just come here to mock me?"

<Ebba> "No, we came to give you these apples; and hopefully have a peaceful conversation."

<Hollyhock God> "Really."

<Ebba> "Unless, of course, you would interpret this as mockery. In that case we are prepared to pursue alternative courses of action."

<Marcus> "Like holding diplomatic dialogue under other circumstances, of course," Marcus clarifies in a slightly repressive tone.

<Ebba> (Hmm, kinda expected her to have run up and been all NOM NOM NOM by now.)

<Hollyhock God> "I see what you're after. You see a thing you want and you come to take it. You're just the sorts to take advantage of a sick woman!"

  • Ebba sighs

<Marcus> "Lady Maliq, I'll hardly pretend we are here solely for the fondness of you engendered by our past dealings. We do hope to achieve a mutual profit, however."

<Hollyhock God> "A symbiotic relationship? One where you play the pusher and I get to be the crack whore?"

<Marcus> Marcus raises an eyebrow. "Very negative of you, m'lady."

<Ebba> "Speaking personally, I would much prefer to help you overcome this problem."

<Hollyhock God> "Heh. Heh heh. Heh heh heh heh heh heh. Hehehehehehehehehehehehheheheh! Ahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Get out! Get out! Getoutgetoutgetout!"

<Hollyhock God> The lights go out.

<Hollyhock God> There is a pneumatic hum as the floor beneath you begins to tilt backwards, creating an increasingly downward slope behind you.

<Ebba> "Well, at least no one got set on fire this time."

<Hollyhock God> The basket of apples falls from the table and fruits bounce out and begin rolling downhill.

<Marcus> Marcus raises somewhat into the air, rather dramatic wings of flame appearing upon his back. "You could have just told us to leave, you know."

<Hollyhock God> The screen falls over, revealing an impressively complex shadow puppet flailing around in front of a light bulb.

<Ebba> (Well that's kinda neat.)

<Hollyhock God> The speakers, however, remain silent.

<Marcus> "Well, that's… interesting."

<Marcus> "This does raise the question of whether we have, in fact, actually conversed with the Domina Inividiae."

  • Ebba neatly restores the apples to the basket.

<Hollyhock God> Ebba, are you treading water or just letting the motion carry you downward?

<Ebba> I figured was I standing on the tilted floor, rather like an octopus, and just watching the furniture whiz by.

<Ebba> "Do you think we should press the matter?"

<Marcus> "Well, assuming that actually was her, I'd think we would want to let her cool off a bit before continuing the conversation."

<Ebba> "On the other hand, the fact that Shame may have created this whole charade is also possible."

<Ebba> "If that is so, then Maliq would have to be in much worse shape than our information indicated."

<Ebba> "Of course, our information was old."

<Marcus> "True. On the other hand, waiting a couple of hours wouldn't hurt much in that case, either, I think, so it might be more prudent to err on the side of caution."

<Ebba> (So I'm tempted to actually go looking for Maliq.)

<Ebba> Caution?!

<Marcus> ((What can I say, Marcus is the black sheep of the family that way. :P))

<Ebba> (And isn't Shame shadow-based?)

<Ebba> (Of course, since we've never seen Maliq at home, we don't know if this is her sort of thing either.)

<Marcus> (You might want to actually say something about this in character? :P))

<Ebba> (But if it was Shame behind it, leaving the apples behind where he can get his hands on them would certainly not help.)

<Ebba> "I think we should attempt to deliver the apples in person. Since Maliq has never shied away from such things in her dealings with us."

<Marcus> "Fair enough."

<Marcus> "Let's see if I can work out where we actually want to go…"

<Marcus> Wayfinder time! Is there an obvious "royal chamber" to this place?

<Hollyhock God> There does seem to be an old throne room.

<Hollyhock God> If you're quite determined to wander around someone else's Chancel after you've been ordered to leave. :)

<Ebba> Indeed, what could possibly go wrong!

<Ebba> We are just pursuing more aggressive diplomacy. :D

<Marcus> ((Marcus does think it's a spectacularly bad idea, actually, but then he's used to his sisters by now. :P))

<Marcus> "Well, if we're doing this, shall we go?"

<Ebba> Charge!

<Hollyhock God> You catch yourselves on a nearby hallway as you fall down and begin navigating down it.

<Hollyhock God> Machine guns fold out of the walls. "Halt," says a robotic voice. "This is a restricted area."

<Ebba> (Look at those ammo counters fly! It must be wall to wall down there!)

<Ebba> (Though I guess Marcus may be bothered by machine guns…)

<Marcus> ((Well, they would kill me. So, mildly inconvenienced, yes.))

<Marcus> How extensive is the network, anyway? (Wayfinder again.)

<Hollyhock God> That's outside the scope of Wayfinder.

<Hollyhock God> If it wouldn't show up on the architect's plans, you can't find it that way.

<Marcus> (Eh? Okay…)

<Marcus> (I thought Wayfinder was just like physically seeing everywhere?)

<Hollyhock God> Knowing everything there is to know about someone else's Chancel would be a bit overpowered for 1 CP.

<Hollyhock God> Have you halted, by the by?

<Marcus> (So you're recasting it as kind of a blueprint-vision, then? Fair enough, I suppose. You're the HG.)

  • Marcus halts.

<Hollyhock God> Blueprint vision of the world-fortress built by something greater than a god with security as the top concern seems pretty good to me, honestly.

<Marcus> "Hmm. This could be inconvenient. I suppose I could turn them into soda cans, but smashing up the defenses runs counter to even our brand of diplomacy."

<Hollyhock God> "Please stand by. You will be… collected."

<Marcus> ((And then there will be cake.))

<Ebba> (Feh, you can't just walk through machine gun fire? I should have brought Ryan instead. :D )

<Ebba> But alas, he has also been mean to Maliq, and so was inadvisable to bring along.

<Hollyhock God> I'm sure she'll blame him anyway. People always do.

<Marcus> Well, he is Supreme Leader of the Light. Responsibility of command, and all that!

<Ebba> "Maybe I should press forward, while you lead the security around?"

<Ebba> (Of course, that would involve splitting up the party!)

<Ebba> (And then I wouldn't really know where to go. :D)

<Marcus> "Maybe it is best if you pressed ahead. Here, take this." He detaches the Scarab from its watch-chain and hands it her.

<Ebba> YAY! Corruption for everyone!

  • Ebba dances off through the machinegun fire trying to keep the basket in one piece.

<Hollyhock God> Ebba dances away; Marcus hears the clanking of something heavy and metallic coming toward him.

<Hollyhock God> It's a tall, thin security robot, that clanks a little more than it should given its apparent mass, and has a strange, oily sheen to its surface.

<Hollyhock God> "Please surrender now, intruder."

<Hollyhock God> It makes a move to seize you in its metal claws.

<Marcus> Marcus deftly avoids the snatch. "Excuse me, that's hardly the way to treat Nobility."

<Hollyhock God> Avoids how?

<Marcus> ((By ducking and weaving with Aspect 2.))

<Hollyhock God> Whoops, not good enough! You are enclosed by a metal claw!

<Marcus> Rude!

<Hollyhock God> "I have you now," intones the robot. "Standing instruction: Use captured intruders to test recent formulas."

<Hollyhock God> A plate in its chest opens and extends a vial of green liquid on a little arm.

<Hollyhock God> "Please drink this sample, intruder."

<Hollyhock God> "My memory banks inform me that is delicious."

<Marcus> "Robot, you will remove your hands from my person. I do wish to avoid property damage while on a mission of diplomacy, but this is beyond the pale."

<Ebba> (It's made out of cute kittens! How can that not be delicious?)

<Hollyhock God> "Subject uncooperative. Use of coercive force authorized."

<Hollyhock God> The robot extends additional tiny arms, specialize for the task of prying your stubborn mouth open and pouring things down your throat.

<Marcus> Marcus sighs. Time for the ol' recycling correspondence… The thing's electronics turn into cell phone processors, unless it happens to be immune to miracles.

<Hollyhock God> Alas!

<Hollyhock God> It would appear that the only thing this bizarre creation recycles into is some bizarre alchemical compound that reacts explosively with basically everything.

<Hollyhock God> Almost as though someone was expecting someone with recycling-based magic to show up.

<Marcus> Again- rude!

<Ebba> (Yes, our Chancel defenses would have covered everything hip-deep in lava by now. That's much more polite. :d )

<Marcus> So it blows up in my face, then. Oh well!

<Hollyhock God> It does! You find yourself covered in rapidly-expanding bits of alchemical compound.

<Hollyhock God> As your limbs start to lock up, you remember why you aren't supposed to get bits of alchemical compounds on you.

<Ebba> But is it delicious?

<Hollyhock God> It is not delicious at all.

<Hollyhock God> Meanwhile, Ebba cartwheels through a hail of bullets!

<Hollyhock God> "Error," says a bullet as it passes by, missing.

<Hollyhock God> "Conventional weaponry ineffective," says the next bullet.

<Hollyhock God> "Bringing antideity rifles online," says another!

<Hollyhock God> The machine guns fold calmly into the wall. For a moment there is quiet.

<Hollyhock God> Then, at the far end of the hallway, the most distant wall sinks down into the floor, revealing a large, circular hole.

<Hollyhock God> There is a faint humming noise.

<Ebba> I'll throw an apple down the inviting hole, so at least my comeuppance tastes delicious when it gets all over me.

<Hollyhock God> There is a plop as the apple hits something in the darkness. Then there is a quite inappropriately bright ray of light emitting from the tube and filling the hallway.

<Hollyhock God> There's the smell of baked apple, and then pain.

<Hollyhock God> Since you don't seem to be dodging, I guess you lose a Deadly, which hasn't happened in a while.

<Ebba> "Hmpf, I think this oven is set a bit too high to make proper apple pie."

<Ebba> "I shall have to invent a different universe to solve this problem."

<Hollyhock God> Your reaction to Immortal-killing weaponry is delightfully blasè!

<Hollyhock God> That said, you're down to the point where you suffer an MP surcharge, so I would advise immediate escape.

<Ebba> Then I guess it's time to flee and collect Marcus from whatever he's gotten up to.

<Hollyhock God> You reverse direction! Alas, you're pretty sure these cooridors have rearranged themselves while you weren't looking.

<Hollyhock God> Fortunately, you still have Worldwalker to find your way around, but you aren't sure which way will lead you to Marcus.

<Hollyhock God> If he's still where you left him, which is unlikely.

<Marcus> Am I conscious at the moment?

<Hollyhock God> Nope!

<Ebba> And no big gouts of fire to lead the way… :(

<Ebba> Does the scarab have any useful advice to offer?

<Marcus> Nope. It's not that kind of artifact.

<Hollyhock God> Brass doesn't match your outfit, it tells you. But you already knew that.

<Ebba> Oh, well.

<Hollyhock God> On the bright side, you can always just teleport out.

<Ebba> And the worst they can do to Marcus is kill him.

<Ebba> He does have a copy of the rebirth Gift that Pandora had, right?

<Marcus> Well…

<Marcus> (Yeah, that's why he gave you the scarab, so he wouldn't be stuck reincarnating wherever he died if he got taken out.)

<Hollyhock God> Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Ebba! When danger reared its ugly head, she bravely portaled home and fled….

<Ebba> (Huzzzah!)

<Ebba> (I can always bring my Siblings back with fire, and a sword, or something.)

<Ebba> (If there were other people wandering around, I could pretend to be one of them.)

<Ebba> (Alas, there appear to be no other people.)

<Hollyhock God> Short on wound levels and long on optimism, Ebba materializes outside the entrance space alone.

<Hollyhock God> See Ebba! See Ebba flee!

<Hollyhock God> Soon, no doubt, Marcus's body will materialize around the scarab. Surely, you tell yourself.

<Ebba> (Hmpf, she thinks. The last time one of us got this scarab, it gave out loads of evil power.)

<Ebba> (This one appears to be defective! :D )

<Hollyhock God> Alas, by the time you arrive again at Eden, that hasn't happened.

<Hollyhock God> Next week: You get to explain to the others how you broke Marcus!

<Hollyhock God> Then he arrives in the Chancel, having been turned into a robot cyborg whom you must save with the power of love.

<Ebba> Yay, now we have an adventure to go on and everything!

<Marcus> Rude!

<Ebba> Alas, now I am down both of my Deadly levels, and have no more AMP!

<Ebba> But that just makes it more of an adventure.

<Hollyhock God> Sorry for making you the damsel in distress, Marcus, but you did wander into the restricted zones of a Chancel run by a Worldbreaker.

<Marcus> ((Er, don't Exemplars have 3 Deadlies?))

<Hollyhock God> I guess her first experiment will involve force-feeding you apple pies.

<Hollyhock God> Isn't it two? I thought they had two of everything.

<Marcus> Two of everything is Legendary. Exemplar is three of everything.

<Hollyhock God> Oh. Well, then.

<Hollyhock God> If you can escape the apple-pie machine while the rescue party causes a distraction elsewhere, perhaps you'll find out Shame's shameful secret!

<Marcus> Marcus will just have to give them a dressing down for their inconsiderate defenses!

<Hollyhock God> I don't think even most Nobles are that uptight about defense systems being disrespectful while you are breaking in.

<Nentuaby> Yes, well, that's because most of them aren't actively trying not to disable said defenses. And also, not Phoenixites. :P

<Rand Brittain> Or I suppose Maliq could just strap you into her new alchemical version of the mind-writing machine and convince you that you're the middle Jonas brother.

<Crusher_bob> Of course, anything too bad will probably lead us to visting her again with fire and sword and stuff.

<Crusher_bob> And turning you into a boy band is cartainly terrible enough.

<Crusher_bob> Of course, if she were to improve you by turning you into a country western singer with a mullet… we would be happy to give her all the apples she wanted in exchange for this service.

<Crusher_bob> :D


<Rand Brittain> He could be Christian Kane!

<Nentuaby> I don't think I've ever seen a black man with a mullet in my life.

<Rand Brittain> Fortunately, her technology can cure you of the high levels of melanin that prevent you from becoming a successful country singer, along with those pesky IQ points and the desire to not do what Maliq says.

<Rand Brittain> Although honestly at Maliq's current coherence level I think being hooked into the apple pie force-feeding machine is probably more likely.

<Nentuaby> Heh.

<Rand Brittain> Admittedly, the pies might make you grow to be fifty feet tall.

<Rand Brittain> Anyway, next week we deal with the fallout of you once again committing an act of war on a Chancel of the Dark.

<Crusher_bob> Yes, we get to test Ryan's leadership and everything.

<Crusher_bob> So everyone has something to do.

<Rand Brittain> Oooh, maybe she uses her subliminal programming machine so that he has an unshakable compulsion to eat apples whenever he sees them.

<Nentuaby> Quick, hide the apples under the dovecote!

<Rand Brittain> Yes, then your pretty friends can reach them easily!


<Crusher_bob> Perhaps I should just show back up at Eden wearing the scarab and denying all knowledge of Marcus… but perhaps that is too much adventure.

<Crusher_bob> I'm sure showing up wearing the scarab and saying Marcus is being held prisoner will be much more fun.

<Nentuaby> I must say, the first idea does intrigue me. ;)

<Rand Brittain> Which first idea? The one where she turns you into a Jonas brother?

<Nentuaby> No, the one where she disavows all knowledge of my existence.

<Rand Brittain> Then the next day the Dark shows up outside your Chancel! All of it.

<Rand Brittain> Then they just wait for everyone to come out, and then slaughter you when you do.

<Rand Brittain> I mean, that's probably what I would do at this point.

<Rand Brittain> Or complain to Lord Entropy until he puts a curse on you as punishment like "can never again wear clothes."

<Nentuaby> That's a relatively minor inconvenience when one is a Noble living in the Garden of Eden.

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