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Re: Seven Devils

Gatac updated in Seven Devils on 2016-12-10 13:05:50
Toshiba's flight back with Takao is a quiet one, and the roar of the flames that propel them - once so loud and brash that they crowded out everything else - now seem to have faded into the background, much like the endless waves beneath that once took him - too the Oni - took them?

What's the difference?

Toshiba doesn't need to ponder that very long; he could, but that's not his style. He's made his choices, chosen his path, just by continuing to wear the armor, by continuing to pretend to be the Blue Oni, and in the process becoming him. He doesn't know how it was for those who wore the armor before him, how they came into it and what they knew and how they built on the Oni's legacy, but that doesn't matter. There must have been plenty who came into it like he did - the armor feels comfortably like that must be true - and they didn't muck it up, so what does he stand to fear? And it's not like it's changed him, other than cleaning up the looks department, so...no navel gazing necessary.

Really. Aren't you curious?

"What...who are you?"

Exactly. Who am I? Nobody seems to know where this armor comes from, do they. Isn't it time you learned the truth?

"You've been content with vague images and memory flashes so far, why speak up now?"

Right now? It's kind of a long flight back. But I think you mean "Why not earlier?"

"So you're a pedant, is that the first clue?"

Fine. Storytime. Hope you like shadowplays.

---

The Blue Oni - Act One

A hundred generations ago, it all began with a prince, who dreamt of uniting the lands around him into one empire.

[Fade into white. The black shadows of mountains pass in the background as a human shape with fine armor strides through the scene.]

Here comes the prince! Look at him, at his noble stature and grand stride.

[The prince moves from right to left across the screen, but then - another shape rises behind him!]

Wherever the prince turned his back, a knife seemed at the ready. Each time he ventured outside, he gambled his life.

[The prince flips around and raises his sword, doing battle with the ninja shape. The ninja is struck and slides into the ground, but reappears behind the prince. Before he can strike, an arrow flies across the screen and kills the ninja.]

But on this day, the prince had help.

[Another figure appaears, hooded and wielding a bow.]

Who are you, that you would raise a hand to vanquish my foe, the prince asked. Ah, I am but a humble bandit, the bandit said. I came but to hunt, but have no fear, prince; I will take a meager wolf over a ferocious bear for my trophy. All the same I could strike you down like the criminal you are, the prince said, so why reveal yourself? Because you are my better, good prince, the bandit said, and a bandit is well-served earning the gratitude of his betters.

[The prince sheathes his sword as the bandit lowers his bow.]

Your words are well-spoken and may earn you a respite, the prince said, but I could not be grateful to a man without honor. Ah, the bandit said, I've no use for honor, but I recognize profit where I see it; you have enemies, good prince, that approach with honeyed words and yet seek your death. But I, the bandit continued, am a rogue and a villain and I tell you so without falsehood, for while I may not have honor, I have honesty; take me into your service and for but a fraction of your wealth, I will continue to be honest to you and continue to take wolves for my own pleasure, that they may not bother you any longer.

[The prince and the bandit approach and shake hands.]

So be it agreed, the prince said, that you will ever be my shadow, clever bandit, and hunt for my cause, and I shall keep you in baubles and coin such as your heart desires. The deal is struck, the bandit said, and my arrows shall strike true in your name henceforth.

---

"Okay, so this prince guy became emperor and you were the first Shadowguard?"

Indeed.

"Seems like you could have just told me that."

Everyone's a critic.

---

The Blue Oni - Act Two

Years passed and the bandit stayed true to the deal struck with the prince; many men coveted the prince's life, and the bandit slew them all.

[The bandit shooting arrows into one ninja, then another. He is now wearing fine armor himself.]

Such was the bandit's prowess that the prince soon created an empire, with the bandit's help. But not all would recognize their new emperor, and they hatched a scheme.

[As the bandit turns away, a third ninja appears behind him, but rather than attack him, he retrieves an arrow from one of the corpses.]

And so it came to pass that one day, the emperor traveled the lands, when he was struck from afar by an arrow all too familar!

[The emperor walks in front of the mountains, when an arrow flies and hits him in the leg. The bandit rushes to his side.]

What fool I was to believe a bandit, the emperor said, for now that I have an empire, you covet it, and have struck for your own profit. My lord, the bandit said, I have done no such thing; your enemies have done it in my stead, to shame my years of faithful service to you. Your service was never faithful, the emperor replied, you were always seeking your own fortune, and now I have reached the ends of your so-called honesty. Stand your ground or run for your life, it is all the same to me now!

[The bandit turns to flee. The emperor draws his sword, but can only hobble after the bandit, who soon escapes.]

The bandit fled in despair, for while he had thought himself without honor, he found the emperor's words cutting him deeply; he had learned to be a better man through his service, and to see the emperor turned against him broke his heart. But in serving the emperor, the bandit had learned other things, and sought out the one who might help him - an oracle. He knew that whatever he might hear there would be the truth.

[Black background with a little white cutout, a cave. The bandit slowly walks in from the shadows, where he meets an old man standing crooked and leaning onto a staff.]

Wisest of wise men, I beg your help, the bandit said, my lord has cast me out and yet I cannot leave him, so I put to you this riddle: how can I serve a man that will not take me as his servant? You must serve him from afar, the oracle said, as you did once so long ago; his mind cannot be changed by words, but you can still strike at his enemies even if you no longer stand at his side, so go and serve him from afar, for that is the whole truth I shall reveal. And so the bandit left the oracle and ventured forth to fight the enemies of his lord.

---

"Honestly, that first emperor sounds like kind of a dick."

That's how nobles were back in those days. Trust me, he had his good sides, too.

"Well, let's see that third act, then."

---

The Blue Oni - Act Three

The bandit hurried back to the emperor's palace, where an important meeting was taking place. The noble who had opposed the emperor for so long had arrived to negotiate a peace with him.

[A table in the courtyard of the palace. The emperor sits across from a noble, as the bandit climbs onto the roof above them.]

But this was the noble who had hired the ninja to drive the bandit and the emperor apart, and sitting across from the emperor, he saw his chance to strike. What he did not know was that the bandit, risking his own capture and death, had snuck into the palace.

[The noble pulls a knife and lunges across the table, but the bandit shoots an arrow through his arm. As the bandit clambers down, the emperor jumps back and draws his sword, but lowers it as he understands what happened.]

Honorless swine, the emperor said to the noble, your fine words and talk of peace, put to shame by your own actions. And you, the emperor told the bandit, you return despite all; what profit do you seek now? Lord, the bandit said, I seek only to be known by my honesty once more, and to see you safe from wolves and snakes alike; allow me to dispose of this snake for you.

[The bandit aims his bow at the noble.]

Do it, the noble cried out, and know that with my death there will never be peace; for we all fear this bandit who answers to no law but serves you so faithfully above all, and despite our best efforts we could not be rid of him when it mattered. My lord, the bandit said, do not listen to this man; he means you ill. So he does, the emperor said, but I fear the truth in his words; truly I have let a criminal be my right hand, and such is the stain on my throne that men like him may never yield, so while I have gladly paid much for your service, this price may yet prove too steep. My lord, the bandit said, I am yours to command and seek no more profit but yours; tell me what shall be done and it will be so. And the emperor thought, and finally said, I can only answer injury with injury and pray that the next man at this table will speak of a true peace, but I must make right my own mistakes as well; by the morrow there shall be two executions, one assassin and one bandit. And the bandit and the noble bowed their heads, accepting this judgment.

(The courtyard is empty except for the Emperor with his sword; the noble marches in and kneels before the Emperor, who chops off his head. As the bandit walks in to face his own death, he is stopped by the oracle.)

Bandit, the oracle said, I have not been honest with your riddle, and I came to tell you that there is more to reveal; but be warned, if this truth be revealed, you shall not find peace at the edge of your lord's blade. There is no peace without truth, the bandit said, tell me the truth and all of it. There will be others by the throne's side who will do what you have done, the oracle said, but they will not be enough; you must continue your vigil and strike from afar when it is needed, for a hundred generations and more, for there must always be a bandit who will serve a prince. Wisest of wise men, the bandit said, how can I serve beyond death? From afar, the oracle said.

[The oracle disappears. The bandit steps forward, kneels and is decapitated. As the emperor walks away, another man enters the courtyard to drag away the bodies. He pauses over the bandit's body, pulls the armor off him and slips it over his own shoulders.]

There must always be a bandit. And there always will be.

---

Toshiba's still digesting the story when he hears a loud "KIIII!" at his side. Turning his head, he spots his loyal companion Konoko soaring on the winds beside him. The story did not tell of her origin - or even where the name "Blue Oni" came from - but perhaps not all questions are there to be answered. Flying closer to her, Toshiba spots a ship beneath that is just slipping from the capital's harbor - one that is flying Ikishi's flag.

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

e of pi posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2016-12-09 22:31:49
"Clear for now," Luis says. "I'm thinking you don't just leave guys standing around with donkeys full of RPGs. You want to find a new over watch spot, and hang out to see who sticks their head out as we head in, then join us?"

Re: IC 1 - Amsterdam

punkey posted in IC 1 - Amsterdam on 2016-12-08 12:14:06
Mason thinks for a moment. "We don't really know what's on that drive - but it's important enough that it's got a hardware key and some bullshit wannabe Illuminati wants their hands on it." He looks out the window. "We should wait until we know what's on the drive - if it's not worth burning the bridge over, I say we hand it over, see what we can learn about this group."

Re: IC 1 - Amsterdam

Admiral Duck Sauce posted in IC 1 - Amsterdam on 2016-12-08 11:27:17
"Looking for anything in particular?" Tim asks Mason. "A new hat, perhaps?" With a deft movement, Tim pops the side door on a shop that hasn't yet opened and heads inside.

"Got a line on the woman who tried to ice me in Delhi. She turned up here claiming to work for something called 'Fractal', and I managed to get her to break protocol and not kill me. Pretty good name, and it's not their first. I tracked down enough intel to believe that 1) Fractal's real and 2) they are capable of interfering. They want Edil's hard drive too, but they're content to use us as the middle man."

Tim takes a second to catch his breath. "And I can't fuck them over on my own. I don't even know if we should be fucking them over, so... here we are."

Re: Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3

punkey posted in Jade Imperium - Afghanistan, Pt. 3 on 2016-12-07 23:52:26
2d10.hi = 10; 1d10 = 8 / 3d8.hi = 8; 1d6 = 6 NO LONGER NEEDS A HAT

Another ripple tears a seam in the atmosphere towards the target, and FTE can just about see the man's head explode in a puff of blood and gore. The body drops like it was cut from a string, and as it hits the ground, the crack of the round's firing finally arrives over the surviving goats.

----

Marta turns Zaef's way. "I'll take it, it'll be good for me to spend time with the Turai and get experience talking with them, since we'll be working with them soon."
"I think I should get it," Jimmy says. "Zaef and I can set up our Turai with sectors of fire while you stay with Ms. Cavanaugh and help her get everything set up."

----

"Gonna need one of those dresses and scarves for me, too," Ngawai says. "If you think you can keep me out of this game, you've got another thing coming. I'll talk to Swims-the-Black and see if he can take care of his niece."

----

Swims and Rodirr both stand up, and let - well, let three of the MPs in. Even with most of the MP contingent inside, there’s barely any space to move around inside between three fully-grown Wherren and three considerably smaller humans. Rodirr and Swims both swivel their heads to keep the voxes clipped to their ears scanning the humans’ activity, but it doesn’t take but a few moments for one of the humans to call for his counterparts to take a look at something.
’This looks alien to me,’” the human says, and sure enough, what he pulls out from behind Hug’sh’s bag is a Bashakra’i holodisc and set of quantum chipsets in their sealed containers.

The yellow in Hug’sh’s fur is intense but brief - figures that they don’t send in the stooges for a search if they don’t damn well know there’s something to find. ”Call Iro,” he tells Rodirr, then gets to scribbling another note. Not mine. Do not know where it came from.
One of the other MPs steps forward, cuffs in hand. “’Well, it’s not a sharp stick, so it’s not yours,’” he says. “’Hands behind your back.’
’We wait,’” Hug’sh says, making no attempt to move from where he’s standing.
’Are you resisting arrest?’” the MP asks. Hug’sh can read all over him that he’s itching for an excuse to beat him down.

Hug’sh puts his arms out in front of him, bent at the elbow - just about in reach for the MP to try to cuff him. “Try” being the operative word. The MP gladly takes the bait, and steps up to somehow try to put the comically small handcuffs on Hug’sh’s wrists. Hug’sh waits for just the right moment, then he strikes.
(1D8 => 8 ; 1D4 => 2)
His wrist slips around the handcuff chain with speed belying its size and seizes the MP’s wrist, quickly pulling him off-balance and his face into Hug’sh’s left elbow. It’s not quite an instant KO, but it is what the Narsai’i call “getting your bell rung real good”.
(1D8 => 8 ; 1D4 => 3, 1D8 => 1 ; 1D4 => 1, 1D8 => 8 ; 1D4 => 2 / Damage: 2D6 => 2 ; 2D12 => 7 , 2D6 => 4 ; 2D12 => 10)
The three other MPs already had their hands on their sidearms, and before their comrade can even clear his vision, five shots ring out. One of them just discharged his weapon into the floor, but when Hug’sh looks down, he sees four spots of blood welling up through his fur. None of them hurt - it’s more like being punched, and not particularly hard - but those are definitely bullet wounds.
(Swims: 2D10H => 7 ; 1D6 => 5 / Rodirr: 1D10 => 9 ; 1D6 => 4, 1D10 => 6 ; 1D6 => 3 / Damage: 2D16H => 10 ; 1D8 => 4, 2D16H => 13 ; 1D8 => 6, 2D16H => 9 ; 1D8 => 2)
Rodirr and Swims-the-Black don’t waste any time - both of them pounce on the remaining three humans, and between Rodirr grabbing two of them and clapping them both together and Swims simply picking the third up by the neck and slamming him back-first into the wall, all three of them are out cold.

The sole remaining conscious MP reaches for his pistol, still dazed from Hug’sh’s blow, draws it, and points it at Hug’sh - no, Swims - no, Rodirr. “’H-halt!’” he shouts. Hug’sh takes a step forward, which is enough to make the MP flinch - and then Hug’sh simply grabs the gun and rips it out of his hands. While the MP watches dazedly, Hug’sh snorts, drops the magazine and racks the remaining cartridge out of the chamber.

”Rodirr,” Hug’sh growls, ”when you have reached Iro, would you kindly tell our warriors to grab their weapons and assume a defensive posture?”
”Already on it,” Swims grunts, halfway through the haptic.
Rodirr, on the other hand, is more worried about the blood running down Hug’sh’s chest than anything else. ”Chief, you have been shot!” he says as he grabs one of Hug’sh’s pants and tries to stop the bleeding.
”I noticed,” Hug’sh grunts, taking over the process of putting pressure on his wounds. ”Collect our prisoners’ weapons and see to it that they’re in no further danger from themselves.”
”So we are taking them hostage?” Rodirr asks.
”No, we are taking them prisoner,” Hug’sh replies. ”We are soldiers, not criminals. These people are under our care and protection now, until we can sort this mess out.” He turns to the last standing MP. “’You,’” he breathes. “’You wait now.’
‘James Scott, Sergeant First Class, 022 -’” the MP starts, managing to pull himself together to stare something resembling daggers at Hug’sh.
’I do not ask name!’” Hug’sh bellows at the soldier, flashing a bright orange-yellow. That, combined with the four bullet holes in Hug’sh’s chest, is enough that Hug’sh’s muzzle is filled with his fear, and he falls silent. Hug’sh leans in a bit closer and gives him a gutteral growl, just to put a period behind that, then straightens up a bit again and turns to Rodirr. ”Any word from Iro?”
”He is on his way - with a quad of his own to defend us,” Rodirr replies.
”Our Wherren have retreated to their barracks and fortified them,” Swims adds.
”Good,” Hug’sh says. He takes another breath. ”If the Narsai’i want to make this into a fight...they can have it.”
Rodirr and Swims-the-Black both nod. ”...and Iro is bringing a Wherren kauka, by the way,” Rodirr grunts.
”Good,” Hug’sh repeats.

Re: Seven Devils

Admiral Duck Sauce updated in Seven Devils on 2016-12-06 11:57:42
"The mystery of the corpses below decks will grant me little peace," Toshiba tells Homi, "but we must stay our course regardless. Hopefully we will realize how it fits into the puzzle before it is too late. I do believe Nagani is right, however - we cannot let the Ayami grow unchecked either."

They say their goodbyes and with a final "See you in three days' time," Toshiba and Takao rocket skyward - ever a disconcerting sensation.

Toshiba's been away for a while. Time to get back to the others and find out where they were on the whole High Lords thing.

Re: The Kingdom - Born on the Bayou

e of pi posted in The Kingdom - Born on the Bayou on 2016-12-04 23:11:31
Anton watches Ozzy warily as he wipes the ooze off his face, and makes a mental note. When all you have is a hammer..not everything looks like something you want to get into hitting range of. Still, there's work to be done, so he wades in to help distract the beast.

Re: IC 1 - Amsterdam

punkey posted in IC 1 - Amsterdam on 2016-12-04 17:29:41
Mason...well, he paid for the movie, but the Indonesian dubbing and company he was with made paying attention difficult. He remembers enough to get the rough area right, and grabs the discreet grey baseball cap from his things before heading out.

When he gets there, the bench in particular is pretty well crowded with 20-something couples, a group Mason very much does not blend in with, so he instead goes for an annoyed local look and drifts around the bench and looks in the storefronts.

Re: IC 1 - Amsterdam

Gatac posted in IC 1 - Amsterdam on 2016-12-04 13:51:37
"Ja," Ms. Akkermans says. "My mouth is sealed. Until tomorrow, 007."

Just when he thinks he's got a moment to himself, though, one of the burners buzzes.

Meet me where Hazel kissed Gus. Bring a hat. -T

---

Because the park bench from the pivotal kissing scene of 2014's hit teen drama romance (dramance?) movie The Fault in Our Stars is on fucking Google Maps as a tourist attraction, and it's a short walk from where the taxi dropped Tim off while also being a somewhat less short walk from the houseboat, but still far away enough that anyone tracking him by the Fractal phone won't immediately know where they're operating from. Countersurveillance is always a problem - hence the "hat", standing in for a proper change of clothes and a reminder to watch his back - but there's plenty of dark apartments nearby to break into for an undisturbed little talk.

Now Tim just has to hope that Mason secretly likes dramances.

---

Ducking into a quiet corner of the smoker's terrace of the restaurant, Luc and Blake make the call to Visser.

The phone rings. It keeps ringing. And it rings some more.

Then somebody picks up.

"Wat?" the voice says. "Wie is dit?" (What? Who is this?)

That...doesn't sound like Visser. Whatever Visser sounds like, but Luc and Blake are pretty sure that's not him.

"Praat luider, klootzak!" (Speak up, asshole!)