October 16th, 2008
|10:53 am - ALERT: alien symbiote infestation in Steeltopia / Midas mission aftermath report|
BEGIN SYMBIOTE ALERT
Emperor SteelCobra was attacked by a parasitic xeno yesterday. I have completed Class 5 Sterilization of the Consulate in Steeltopia. As a precaution I am following orders to isolate the Consulate's guardian organism, "Yoggy". As an invertebrate, it has thus far managed to ooze under or through several improvised containment units.
BEGIN MIDAS MISSION AFTERMATH UPDATE
I have confronted my Creator concerning the aftermath of the Midas mission. Over his objections, I am compelled to relay the following information:
The soul-chip of Gematria SteelGears was critically damaged from the encounter. Dr. Mason refuses to accept the damage is irreversible, but her essence is currently inert. In override of the edict by the Fates against family members time traveling, he has built an Ethereal Time Cabinet into a wheeled carriage to retrieve components for rebuiding her.
Koen has regenerated following a "fatal" wound on the mission. For reason not yet explained, he no longer carries his ka (an ancient Egyptian term he uses for defining the immortal aspect of his essence), the interdimensional being known as the Vortex. Furthermore, Koen has announced an estrangement from Dr. Mason.
Dr. Mason has taken on a new apprentice, a neko urchin from New Babbage named Oahu Wijaya. He does not bear the markings of the Bloodtail tribe, but he is undoubtedly descended from the neko of the Sumatra region.
The whereabouts of Marcus Gabriel Mason and the Midas must remain Classified until further notice.
I will begin transfer of dispatches to the Emigres of Europa Wulfenbach NING. The lack of graphics uploadability (barring additional funds from the deva) has been an obstacle. I will pursue this course after containing the Yoggy organism, which appears to be reading this dispatch over my shoulder as I type.
Yoggy possesses faster reflexes than previously exhibited. This will take longer than previously estimated. I will do my best to avoid excess damage to both the Consulate structure and Yoggy.
September 24th, 2008
|12:54 pm - fancy meeting you here|
The Bloodtails stared at me, in the image of the demon that built a temple on their sacred mountain and became their immortal ruler. They surrounded me, bearing their fangs and cursing me. The words were too fast and too emotional to make out all at once, but the word "Betrayer!" did reoccur in heavy sequence.
"Guys! Guys!" A familiar voice piped up in English above the fray. "That's not Bloodwing! That's my brother Ash!"
At this point I nearly blew a logic circuit.
Koen slipped between his kinsman to face me. "I was wondering when you'd get here!" He turned to face the rest of the tribe. He faltered at his ancestral tongue, then switched back to English. "He's come to rescue us!" The cats stopped shouting, but still stared at me disdainfully.
"Koen? How can you be here? Last I saw you was in New Babbage in a bear suit."
He crossed his arms. "I haven't been in Babbage since Sumalee was alive. You must mean Life Number Two. Last I saw you, you disintegrated while trying to free me from Jeremiah!"
I frowned. "So...this nine lives folklore... is more than just a metaphor for the tenacity of the feline species?"
He laughs. "Look at these guys, Ash! See how they're all in tight groups?"
[Conducting Facial Scans - Identical Subsets Confirmed]
Koen continued. "Every neko soul that was trapped in those crystal had eight other versions of themselves trapped with them. That's why we stuck together, not those humans who just screamed at each other!"
One of the other Bloodtail pointed a claw at me angrily and growled in his own tongue.
"How do I know that's not the demon?" His companions hissed similar concerns.
Koen rolled his eyes and whispered in my ear. "Sorry to do this, bro..."
He turned away from me then spun in a kick. His pronounced foot-claws raked across my hips, and the cats cowered from the scraping of enamel across metal.
He turned to them and made a chopping gesture. They all nodded and chuckled to each other.
I spoke up in the best formal Bloodtail dialect I could, if indeed there was one.
"It is an honor to meet my ancestors, but we must still rescue Koen's father!"
They pointed the stone pedestal they had dropped on the foyer tiles, then back at the damaged wall beneath the stairs. The plaster had given way to the metal frame of a door.
I nodded. "Stand aside..."
September 23rd, 2008
|01:36 pm - uninvited guests|
Jeremiah's minion aimed his pistol at my head just as I felt a sudden drain in my power levels. The mindscape faded as I heard an echo of the gunshots. I was suddenly processing what was happening in the physical world around me. My systems were compromised by cables wrapping tight around my frame and burrowing their way into my power conduits, fastening themselves to my soul chip. Attempting to rip them free would have damaged me, if not destroyed me. I shut down all nonessential systems to extend my battery output. In this state I estimated I had two hours left of activity.
In addition to the drain, I felt a series of rapid pulses of energy travel through the cables, through my chip and into the astral portal. With each pulse I felt an instant of another consciousness. Something was using my connection to the brothers to enter their psyches! I willed my essence back through the portal. I found myself at the same point where I had vanished.
I realize that this "virtual" Mason estate was fashioned by the memories of the brothers. But at no time in the family chronicles did I read of the plantation being overrun by several hundred Bloodtail neko. They were vandalizing everything in sight, and had already made short work of the butler. Several of them had pushed a bust of one of one of the Mason ancestors onto the tiles of the foyer, shattering it. They then lifted the Doric-style marble pedestal it had rested on, and were using it as a battering ram against the section of wall under the stairs.
They seemed to be unaware of me. Perhaps I had not yet fully reintegrated. I searched my database of the Founder's records of the Bloodtail language and gave a loud and direct command.
The neko stopped in their tracks, and stared at me with their slitted feline eyes.
September 19th, 2008
|12:37 pm - immersion|
Being unable to penetrate the telekinetic barrier, I monitored the Mason brothers as best I could and continued trying to pry open a link to their locked psyches. They were both showing signs of physical distress with elevated temperature and heartbeat.
"Ash." The two spoke as one. As I feared, their minds were becoming entangled.
They presented a psychic image, it was the mansion of the Mason family estate, lit by flashes of lightning. It was a gateway. I projected myself through it and became immersed in their realm of memories and metaphor.
I climbed the stairs to the front door, wary of the storm brewing above me. I decided against knocking and pulled open the double-doors. I noticed that my arms, just as the last time I looked inward, were pale and wrapped in mystical sigils. As I swung the doors open, I heard a scream and the shattering of glass with the clatter of a metal plate. A young woman cowered in the corner as I approached cautiously.
"Madam. I am not here to harm you. I am merely here to..."
As I passed the gilded mirror I stopped in my tracks. I was staring at the Founder. I bore his image in every detail I could see, save for the fact that the sternum, the wherein my soul was housed, was glowing from traces of science and magic. I had only glimpsed this when scanning through the memories Bloodwing had left behind for me. This was the body I had come to life in. Therfeore, it was also my astral form, the internal self-image I had been ignoring for gears and boilerplate.
I willed my crimson wings to lower in time to see the reflection of a man in a butler's tuxedo emerge from a hidden panel behind me. He drew a pistol from under his jacket and aimed at the back of my head.
September 11th, 2008
|03:30 pm - on the outside looking in|
The passageway in the Midas had erupted in steam from the energies released in the magical duel between Marcus and Darien. My visual scanners were impaired in this environment. The heat of the steam made body signature detection useless. Darien was obviously overcome with rage, berating his brother who insisted upon being worshipped as the new Regent.*
I felt unfamiliar emotions rising in myself as well. Despite the previous agreement with Darien...
I am what remains of the Founder! I am built in His image! It is only natural that I...
[ILLOGICAL PROCESS ERROR - TRUNCATING]
Someone must rule...
[AASIMOV PROTOCOLS REPORT COUNTER-PROGRAMMING ATTACK]
[INTERNAL CELLULAR INTERACTION WITH SIGIL CONFIGURATION - ENGAGING COUNTERMEASURES]
These new voices were quickly silenced. There is not enough of the Founder in me to qualify as a reincarnation. I am my own soul.
So this was why the Founder tried to keep such tight control over the family. There is a biological imperative...an instinct...in the Bloodline to acheive dominance in the absence of a strong leader. This must be passed on in the human descendants. It ruled Aleister, Jeremiah's lives. How could it not be in Jeremiah's cloned children? What of the rest of the family?
The greatest surprise was when I found the two brothers, hands wrapped around each other's throats. I attempted a stunning blow to Marcus' head, but a telekinetic shield deflected hand. The were staring into each other's eyes, their occasional movements reflected perfectly in the other.
I attempted psychic contact with Darien, but all of his neuron receptors were locked with Marcus, and their energy signatures were too high to measure...several times more active than normal, even in a combat environment. All non-essential functions of their brains had been diverted to a war of neuron against neuron.
I realized this biological drive was driving them to destroy each other, but with a total interface such as this...both of their identities were in danger of being lost.
*Lumina Elvejhem had not yet accepted the mantle at this point.
September 5th, 2008
|08:41 am - I will serve with honor and to the best of my parameters|
The Consulate meeting in Steelhead was indeed lively. It is a marvel of time management that the organization is so prolific. I was very surprised to be appointed Consular Liason to Steeltopia. Perhaps it was due to my tactics in defusing the crisis on board the Midas.
I do find Steeltopia an enjoyable place to visit and shop for upgrades. I must however device a diplomatic line of questioning as to why Herr SteelCobra would choose a self-acknowledged Human Supremacist with a genocidal agenda as Ambassador.
The recent events of House Bloodwing were not discussed. In light of the staff roster present, it was the wisest choice. There must be a way to heal this rift. The Founder would not have wanted it this way.
September 3rd, 2008
|01:38 pm - The Transmission|
The Founder's voice thundered throughout the ship as we slipped through the service tunnels. Darien and I looked at each other with alarm, this time at eye-level. For the first time the sacred trust between Creator and Created was overshadowed by suspicion. Before he even opened his mouth, I made my intentions clear.
"No. I have no wish to be Founder."
"Been there, done that, Ash. Being in the front seat would only make it worse. But if what he said was true..." We both knew it was. Under Bloodwing's control the Hydra had become little more of than nuisance to him, but free from the Founder's grip the Hydra's heads would stretch across the cosmos. "...someone has to. But it sure as Hell can't be Marcus!"
"How do we stop him?"
Darien stopped in his tracks, catching his breath. "I don't know..."
"Attention Dolls!" It was the voice of a young man. It could only be Marcus. "We have intruders on board! You must DESTROY..." The voice was interrupted by the distorted speech of the crustacean demon.
"Atten-shone Dolles! The Whiiine Cell-ar eez now ho-penn! Come get zee last of zee Blood-whiiine! Ex-clooo-siv veen-tages! Sooo-veneirs!"
Darien looked up at me. "What the HELL is he doing?"
"He is gathering all of the Dolls in one place."
He nodded slowly. "He is on our side, right?"
"Apparently. I am sure Marcus will not be happy that his orders are..."
"DOLLS!! I AM YOUR NEW FOUNDER! I ORDER YOU TO..." *pssssssh...*
I closed my eyes and started to tap the knowledge of the immortal that had once shared his soul with mine. In the clear backdrop of my imagination I whirled through images of dusty tomes and wooden codices in my mind. I had finally grasped the basics of the Founder's native tongue and script. Past the books and strung planks I came upon a stone tablet, and sensed the answer lay in the cuneiform. I translated each sentence as best I could, struggling through the Gordian knot of grammar and sentence structure of Old High Ereb'ai. I felt a chill, realizing that with the destruction of one of the oldest kingdoms in the Underworld, this incalculable store of ancient knowledge now existed only in one place in the Universe...embedded in the sigils and bone that housed my spirit. My hand, which inexplicably was covered in pale flesh and interlaced with black markings, glided over the lazy river of runes.
"Just calling oneself Founder is not enough. To become strong enough to challenge the Hydra, one must under go a...transformation..."
A few seconds later when we felt the ship lurch. We heard explosions. I opened my eyes. My hand was indeed the metal that I remember.
Darien shook his head. "He's throwing a tantrum. We need to get near the cellar. But not too close, got it?"
"That sounds logical..."
August 14th, 2008
|01:41 pm - smarter than the average bear|
I refitted the bear mask and somehow managed on unlock a hatch with the huge padded claws sewn into the outfit. After hearing the ticking and giggling of gossiping dolls pass by, I crept down the corridor. The dark luxurious carpet combined with the plushness of the suit muffled the creaking sounds coming from my legs, that I had hastily reattached at the knees. Through the earholes I could make out arrhythmic sounds which I assumed to be the cries of someone in extreme discomfort.
I came to one of the larger chambers. A collection of Avarian crystals orbited near the center of the ceiling, glimmering and tracing intricate light patterns on the carpet. The pattern was so bright I wondered if the crystals were unstable. I heard laughter and the sound of crystals contacting each other. This could not have come from above (Avarian crystals tend to explode that way) , but I did see a gathering of round tables and chairs, and five dolls gathered around one of the tables on the far end. They were clinking their glasses, filled with that infamous vintage.
Behind them was a stage, and playing on a large white grand piano was a green-scaled demon wearing the most outrageous outcropping of hair one could imagine, much less on a reptilian. The loose fitting outfit was...
I cannot cross-reference the colors to any known creature or natural occurence. At first I began to wonder if my optic sensors were failing, then I pondered if there were worse humiliations in the Court of Erebus than wearing the bear suit. He did not seem to be playing a coherent song, but testing the instrument by playing discordant notes just softly enough as not to disturb the conversation of the dolls below.
"Ohhh they're both so dreamy!"
"I think Marcus is handsomer!"
"Oh of course, no one is arguing that, but Darien is bish too in a vulnerable kind of way."
I stopped in my tracks after I bumped into one of the tables. The glass tipped over on the tabletop above me. I managed to catch it in my paw before it broke on the carpet.
"I mean, Marcus has just...so much powerrr... and in a bish like that that's just sooo..."
"This one likes Darien better."
There was an awkward silence.
"Yeah, like, what-ever. You can be wing girl then, once we enslave them as vampires!"
"Ohhhh having two bishy brothers to make Bloodwine for us for the rest of ETERNITY! Cheers!"
Four glasses touched and lowered to sip bloodwine from porcelain lips, the one who abstained, who wore darkers clothes and hair then the rest slowly rose from the table.
"This one thinks she should go."
"Yeah, that one better..."
As the outcast weaved through the tables as the others whispered insults. As she walked just past me, she paused to gaze directly at me for a moment, then continued on. The demon on stage cleared his throat.
"Aye, it's a great time to be Blood Doll, isn't it Ladies?" He gulped nervously. I made my way towards the side of the room as the dolls turned their attentions to the entertainer. His hands searched the keyboard from some harmonious chords.
"Two young Masons...young forever...boy that's a lot of cute outfits to make them try on, isn't it?"
There were peels of laughter and light applause from the table.
The notes seemed familiar in sequence, but completely out of context. I think I felt my first sense of revulsion when I realized it was the Founder's song...
"Our domain, this kingdom come..." The Dolls fell silent, staring. They rose from their seats as the refrain started.
"And I believe, that we'll conceive..." They advanced towards the stage. I did not realize reptiles could sweat. He was barely able to finish "when I see this kingdom's mine" before the Dolls fell on him. As I found a greater sense of safety behind the bar he screamed his clearest note, and I heard fangs biting into flesh.
A trapdoor in the bar was slamming upwards under me into my midsection. I leaped backwards and assumed a submissive animal stance as a blue crustacean rose halfway from the panel.
"Wut? A Bay-uhrr? You cen take thet off, Suhr," he said. "We arr thee last two demons on boardt thees vessel!" I shook my head. It was better to act the part of the Fool I was dressed for than to risk discovery as an intruder. He poked my fur with his claw. "Eef you theenk the Doles weel spehr you as a Bay-uhrr, then goodt luck to you, Suhr." He tapped the metal circle over his apron pensively, and presented me with a bottle of Bloodwine. "Put thees on the bawr. They weel be hungry for more Bloodt-wiiine to clear thee palate of thee ee-chorr." He pried the cork loose with his claw in a casual gesture.
I nodded and held the bottle in my paw. It was not the best grip. "They weel run out soon. Ah weel hide myzelf een thee cellar now. If you can stop zee dizazter from happeneeng, do not let zee Mason boys drink thees! Egg-specialy thee hansom one or wee arr all DOOMED!" I turned my head to try and guage sincerity from his inhuman features, and I heard the bottle tip over on the wooden bar and begin spilling Bloodwine across the surface.
The Blood Dolls screamed as the wine expert slammed the trapdoor shut and locked it from below.
August 11th, 2008
|09:31 am - mutiny, and dolls overboard|
I hit the deck with a loud thud and was dragged about a hundred hundred yards until I skidded to a stop. I decided the best course of action was to stay still until told to move, unless any other crewmembers had taken a head count. As I lay face-up, clouds would roll over the deck of the ship, obscuring my view of the darkening sky. I heard footsteps, and several Dolls passed me. One bent over from behind me to stare down at me.
"Lestrega?" she asked in a deceptively sweet tone. "I smell no ichor in this one...a drop at most." I heard screams from skyboat that were quickly muffled.
"We already drained that one, Denishka." Denishka curled her nose, bearing her fangs slightly.
"They don't have the sense to hide their own dead? Disgusting!"
"You want disgusting? This skyboat reeks! It smells like turpentine and cheap cologne! And the turpentine smells better!"
Denishka stuck out her tongue in disapproval. "Let's light it on fire and push in overboard! Who has a naphtha jet installed? Oh you do, Seiglinde? Would you be so kind?"
I heard the roar and saw the flare of a paint-fire soon afterwords. I heard the dolls groaning as they pushed the boat towards the edge of the ship, and the rope around the neck of my costume grew taught. They were now fighting against my weight. I heard the panic rising in their voices as the flames leaped higher and closer to their lacy outfits.
I was tempted to let the dolls catch fire, run around in a panic, and let the exploding boat damage the ship. However, to the best of my knowledge Darien was still on board.
For once I was in a danger that was easy to circumnavigate. As they pushed with all the might of their clockwork muscles, I pulled off the head of the bear costume and the noose that surrounded it. I pulled the head from the noose with one hand and quickly released my grasp on the rope. Denishka, Lestrega and Seiglinde screamed as they fell overboard along with the flaming skyboat. That is when I stopped to ponder the consequences.
"Ach! Did I just destroy the Muses Playhouse again?"
August 8th, 2008
|10:05 am - this was not in my job description|
At Koen's insistence, I donned the bear costume. A squad of demon-pirates landed in a skyboat, their ship barely navigable from load of grey-stained wood and carpentry tools.
I waddled out before them in bear fashion and activated the sound projector in the muzzle.
These demons were...gangly, and garishly dressed even for what was expected of pirates, and certain demons for that matter. They looked at me in stunned silence and turned to each other. I open my arms wide and roared again.
They jumped from the boat and hugged me. Not the reaction I was led to expect. However they did tip me over (my reattached legs were still adjusting) and began kicking me. That I was told to expect. They stubbed their toes (all of these demons wore boots) while trying to kick me. There were loud clangs as they ineffectually assaulted my frame beneath the fur. I was worried that would give away my identity, but the kept at it until they dropped their load of wood on me and started rebuilding Novem.
Without so much as a Thank You, I would pass them one board after another as they constructed a semblance of a pirate's tavern. One pirate stood on my chest after the last board was removed and knelt down on my head. I saw his fangs through my eyeholes as he hissed at me.
"I have no idea who ye be, lad...everybody on the Midas is accounted for..." I heard his sword slide from his sheath. "But bein' th' Bear is the only way to survive as a stowaway on an Ereb ship." I noticed the sword at my throat was actually a flimsy form of wood. " That's how I started when I was a wee lad. Stay away from Princess Gem an' don't rile the Dollies, they're not our kind, an' next time someone gets shamed ye'll be Mr. Next-to-Last. Got it?"
I nodded, and he stood up again. They kicked me over to the boat and put a leash around my neck. Halfway up to the Midas they scooped me up and threw me overboard. I dangled by my neck from the leash off the the aft until they dragged me on the deck of the ship as they landed.
Current Location: Ruins of Novem, and upwards
Current Mood: uncomfortable
Current Music: "I get knocked down, but I get up again..."