“The demon lord towers over you, his crimson robe fluttering in the ominous wind. He and his attire are decorated in numberless demonic charms and infernal talismans, and you need no spell or special presence of your own to feel that each one is a storied object of incredible magical power. He glides across the burning earth on legs of snakes—vipers that look upon you from underneath the hem of his flowing garment—and you can see some sort of interest in their ruddy eyes and his. But despite his fey curiosity, you recognize the unmistakable, sinister face of a fiend.”Your gaze drifts briefly down to your notes, then back over the GM’s screen, fantasy movie soundtrack softly pulsing from your speakers in the corner. You can’t help but to look first to Beatrice for approval, and she merely smiles back, fingers nervously playing at the chrome dice atop her character sheet. Four-Jean is in the next seat over, but he looks across the table to Nathaniel—who you’re putting on the spot with this scene—rather than you. Past him, Ryan is laughing softly at something unrelated on his smartwatch; his dice are stacked into a tower beside his vape pen, and you’re pretty sure there’s a new stain of something spilled on his character sheet.You make eye contact with Nathaniel last. He adjusts his glasses, then frowns. First, he looks at his character sheet and notes as if there’s some piece of information he’s forgotten that will offer aid in trying times. Then, he looks to the rest of the group.“For the record, this whole quest was a bad idea.” Nathaniel says.“We didn’t really have a whole lot of other options.” Beatrice responds, after giving you a knowing little snerk. “From what I gathered we were going to have to deal with the whole ‘abyssal lords’ problem eventually. Plus, it’s for a good cause, right?”“We had *infinity* other options. We probably could have just left if this was the alternative—we’re only this deep in the hole because we’ve been following orders from his god,” Nathaniel points accusingly across the table at Jean, who affords an impassive shrug as a response, “Who we don’t even know is real to begin with!”Jean snorts, putting on a fake gruff voice. “You dare blaspheme the All-Knowing, heretic?”Nathaniel sighs, taking a moment to collect himself. “Okay, I’m cool. Now, on the subject of knowing, what do I know about this guy?”“Give me Knowledge: Lore.” You respond. There’s the sound of dice rattling and hitting the table, but you don’t bother to look from over the screen.“Thirty-one after modifiers.” Nathaniel responds.“Woah.” Beatrice says, leaning over to verify the dice result. “Lucky.”“Nice, man.” Jean adds.Nathaniel gives a smug look. “If there’s one thing Kelso is good at, it’s knowing things.”“He is called Abraxas,” You begin, meeting him in eye contact over the screen. “The Unknowable.”“God fucking damnit.”> CONTINUED
>>3631697“Alright, that’s it for your turn. Abraxas is up next. With a wave of his claw, the abyssal lord invokes a disgusting syllable which has no equivalent in the common tongue, but may be familiar to Kelso if he’s read any works of demonology. You can feel a dark presence descending upon you…”“Uh, yeah, no. Could I cast Celerity?” Nathaniel interrupts your description.“You could.” You respond. “Give me a Fortitude save first.”“Nine after mods.” Nathaniel says, teeth grit nervously. “Hit me.”“As you wish. Kelso focuses, but finds the demonic power surrounding him overwhelming. As he casts his sorcery he inhales the bituminous vapors of the abyss, and sees his hands slowly withering as if he’s aging years by the second.” You describe, then look pointedly to Nathaniel as if breaking character abruptly. You smirk. “That’s another point of Constitution damage.”“Down to five.” Nate makes a mark on his character sheet.“Geez.” Beatrice looks concerned by your apparent cruelty, but you shoot her a surreptitious wink when her worried gaze turns your way. Her hand is purposefully hanging onto your part of the table, and you reach out and give it a little squeeze behind the screen, which seems to leave her placated for the moment. She turns back to Nathaniel. “That lowers your max HP too, doesn’t it?”“He’s not keeping track because it doesn’t matter.” Jean says, rolling his eyes. “This is a wizard fight. Neither of them are going to die from actual damage. Also, we don’t know for sure that this is Abraxas’s plane of origin, so he technically might not even be able to die at all. …Beatrice, why are you giggling?”“Abraxas’s. Abraxasses.” Beatrice snerks, a little flushed in the face as she turns your way. “Abraxsauce.”“Stop that.” You roll your eyes. “Quit making fun of my demon lords.”“Okay, yeah. Are the rest of us back from wherever we are yet?” Ryan has taken off his watch, unfolding the flexible screen to full smartphone size to probably watch meme videos; you’re not sure where he got the cash for one of those gaudy things, since most people you know in the District are still using bricks. He pauses midway through a shot of a boy crying about dropping an ice cream cone, and peels his eyes away from the screen long enough to look at you over your divider. “No offense to you, dude, but this session is lowkey boring.”“Since when do you care? You don’t even pay attention when it’s your turn.” Nathaniel huffs.“If it’s any consolation,” Jean shoots you a grin. “I’m having a great time watching.”“Okay, well. Out of character for a second, I honestly didn’t expect Nate to actually try to fight the archfiend solo. In my mind, this encounter wasn’t really going to run this long.” You respond.> CONTINUED
>>3631705“I wasn’t sure what else to do, honestly. Spontaneous teleportation magic doesn’t work on this plane, which really limits my escape options. Obviously, my chances aren’t great in a straight up one-on-one arena match on his home turf, but…” Nathaniel begins.“It’s what Kelso would do.” Jean and Bee reply in unison.’“I’m casting Quickened Forcecage. That’s my action.” Nathaniel says. He gives you a resolute look as if he’s made up his mind. “I have the talent that lets me do that once without raising the spell level.”“Are you sure?” You ask, smiling back. “This is an archfiend you’re dealing with.”“Doesn’t matter what exactly he is. He fights like I do.” Nathaniel responds. “If he’s anything like me, Charisma is his weak save.”“Alright.” You roll a die behind the screen, quirking a brow at the result and consulting your notes. “Let me check—oh, wow. Yeah, he’s trapped. He doesn’t bump into the cage, or anything, because he knows it’s there due to just being a demonic god-wizard, but he stops what he’s doing and looks at you. His talismans pulse and glow and you know he’s divining and searching for countermeasures that’ll work against your spell.”“You actually got him,” Jean says. “Now what?”“I dunno.” Nathaniel responds. “I just have to think of a solution before he can. I can’t actually step out of this Globe of Invulnerability or I’m dead for sure, which means I can’t move more than five feet in any direction—and if he gets out of that cage, which he eventually will, I’m also dead for sure.”“Do we still have any resurrections?” Beatrice asks. “From the High Priestess?”“Nope,” You reply. “This is for keeps. Kelso—the archfiend’s voice echoes from beneath his hood, and he makes a point of staring between the invisible bars of the cage. ‘You are an interesting one, little mage. Are you ready to hear my offer?’ He grows more insistent. His words are… burning, like a lash of flame across the surface of your mind. ‘If not, well… the walls that currently separate us are not permanent. I fear the worst for you should we fail to understand one another by the time they vanish.’”“What are you offering?” Nathaniel asks, then corrects. “I ask him what he’s offering.”“’At first I hoped to offer you the same agreement your allies accepted. But you and I are different. We are cut from the same cloth. We know the true secrets of magic and all it conceals. I will grant you my strength, and my knowledge. And in return, you will make my will manifest in the material plane.’”“Uh, dude? We didn’t accept any kind of agreement.” Ryan looks up from his phone.> CONTINUED
>>3631715“Yeah, well, I don’t know that in-character!” Nathaniel shakes his hands. “Aah, fuck. So, he’s offering, what exactly?”“A demonic pact, basically.” You respond. “It means…”“He gives you some kind of powers or special gifts, and in return you basically do whatever he wants.” Beatrice says.“What Bee said.” You nod. “Thanks, Bee.”“Can you two quit being gross?” Ryan asks. You and Beatrice give him a collective side-eye.“Okay.” Nathaniel gives you a resolute look. “Can I… stipulate that I’ll be the sole pact-bearer? Accept under the condition that he frees everyone else?”“Wait, what?” Beatrice asks. “Nate, hello? I thought you loved your character too much to do something like that.”“Talk about splitting the party.” Jean sighs. “There is no chance this ends well but whatever.”You quirk a brow. “Are you sure, Nate?”Nathaniel shakes his head. “It’s actually what Kelso would do.”“…Give me Diplomacy, I guess.” You respond, after a moment of thought.Nathaniel’s voice follows the sound of a die bouncing on the table. “Nat twenty. No modifiers.”“You…” You pause to think. “You can tell that Abraxas is smiling in a more earnest manner. ‘Very well, human,’ He says. ‘I have no need of them now. It’s your soul that I’ll take instead.’ And as you come to that agreement it feels like there’s a weight lifted from your shoulders. But something feels… terribly wrong.”You...> Killed Kelso unceremoniously. Your friends need to know you’re serious—and sometimes, actions have consequences.> Let Kelso live. It seems like kind of an ass-pull, but you’ll figure out how to make it work and maybe make it interesting.> Told Nathaniel to roll up a new character. Looks like his Wizard is becoming your Big Bad; you can’t let the show go on like this.> Ended the session on an abrupt cliffhanger.---This is a character-driven quest about friendship, survival, and the other demons of an uncertain future. It's something I'm trying to see if it gains traction. Updates will be sporadic, and we'll decide more about our main character as we go.
>>3631723>> Killed Kelso unceremoniously. Your friends need to know you’re serious—and sometimes, actions have consequences.MC is vague and I guess that's part of the plan?
>>3631742>>3631807“At Abraxas’s heel, you descend into discord. Corrupted beyond recognition,” You begin, “The power of demons suffuses you. Your contract sealed, you find yourself transformed into something entirely different. The essence that makes you what you are ebbs away as you sink into the abyss.”Nathaniel stares intently at you, and you turn to Beatrice.“Back in the Material Realms, in the Foresthome—Falene,” You say. “Your ears twitch, and you feel a chilling wind pass through you.”Beatrice straightens up her posture immediately, affecting Falene’s elven sensibility. “Something is wrong,” She says.“What’s happened?” Jean asks. He isn’t quite so much of a roleplayer, but he darkens his voice a bit when speaking in character such that you can clearly tell the difference now that you’ve heard it often enough. It might not mean much to someone listening from outside, but it’s distinctly a dwarven paladin’s voice to you.“Your eyes are drawn suddenly to the bracelet of charms wrapped around your wrist,” You manage, improvising a suitably dramatic scene. “The cordis—the heartstring that binds you together as a company—pulses faintly. The light of each inlaid gem glows, then fades. But as they each pulse again in time, the sapphire gemstone remains dull and dark, blackened suddenly by an unknown influence.”“Kelso. He’s…” You’re not sure if she’s just acting, but Bee looks legitimately sad despite witnessing the whole of the last scene out-of-character. You maintain eye contact with her but glimpse Nate’s stunned expression in your peripheral vision. “…Gone.”“Surely not. This is just another wizard’s trick.” Jean replies. “He told me that he had a plan. That if he ever died, it wouldn’t count. I owe that bastard a good kick in the ribs. He can’t be gone.”“Selfish to the very last—yet he sacrificed himself for the rest of us. I swear…” Beatrice’s fingers curl into a fist. “Until the last of the abyssal lords has fallen and thereafter, we will speak the name of Kelso Cain.”“Even as you eulogize your lost ally, dark clouds begin to coalesce above the Foresthome. Something is coming, you know. Something evil. The three of you look out over the horizon, and know that there will be no rest this day.” You respond. “End session.”You tap your phone to stop the music at a suitable moment. There’s a long pause in the conversation.“Damn.” Jean says.“That’s bullshit.” Nathaniel interjects, holding his character sheet possessively. “What were we even supposed to do that one of us wasn’t going to die?”“I don’t think we were supposed to be in this situation right now in the first place,” Beatrice says.> CONTINUED
>>3632165“And even so,” Jean adds. “We knew someone wasn’t going to make it when we got to this point. It sucks that it had to be you, especially because this has been a long time in the making.”“Oh, fuck off.” Nathaniel says, turning to you. “You just wanted to kill someone to make the game more dramatic for the ‘main characters’. The one time I try to do something special, I die for it?”“This really wasn’t how I thought this session would go.” You insist. “I just try to keep the world internally consistent, you know? We can talk about a new character before we reconvene if you want. I don’t want you to feel like you don’t fit in with the rest of the party.”“Yeah, sure.” Nathaniel folds up Kelso’s character sheet with uncharacteristic indifference and tucks it into his pocket like a memento as he gathers his things and makes his way out of your apartment. “How about I’ll call you.”“Heyo,” Ryan says, finally speaking up. “I actually can’t make next week’s session. I got stuff.”“Oh, okay. We can reschedule, if you need?” You ask. “Maybe do it a day earlier or later?”“Maybe. Just hit me up in the group chat, I’ll… let you know if I can make it.” He says, tucking his phone away and heading off. You hear the door close and shut twice as Nate and Ryan depart. Four-Jean lingers around awkwardly, looking between you and Beatrice with notable distress.“Well, that was something.” Jean says, raising a finger.“Tell me about it.” You respond.“Do you want me to leave the two of you alone, or?”“It’s fine,” You suggest. “We’re just hanging out.”“Oh, I getcha. Yeah, it’s—actually no trouble.” Jean replies, bagging up his dice. “I gotta go mesh for a little while. You know where to find me, so. Just message me if you want to do anything late tonight. I’ll be hungry, I think. We didn’t eat today, did we?”You shake your head. “Session ran long.”“Alright, well. See you in a little bit, maybe.” Jean says as he departs.The door closes, and you sigh. Beatrice moves over to sit on the armrest of your chair, wrapping one arm around your shoulder.> CONTINUED
>>3632168“Hey,” Beatrice says. “It’s okay.”“That didn’t go how I planned.” You respond.“It never does.” Beatrice shrugs. She pats you on the shoulder, looking down at you. “But everyone had fun.”“Sure as hell didn’t sound like it. I should have known Nate would blow up like that.” You relax back in your chair, hooking an arm around the dowdy girl’s side; she gives a little bit of a squeak as her weight lands in your lap. “It’s taken him so long to find a character that he really enjoys playing. Kelso dying like this kind of throws a wrench in things, y’know?”“We’ll have plenty of time to work it out. Everyone always has fun. You know that: it’s why we keep coming back for more. And none of us know what you have planned in advance.” Beatrice says, poking you in the chest. “Things never turn out exactly how we expect, and I’m sure right now you’re expecting things to go downhill, so…”“I didn’t expect to end up here, so.” You respond.“Here as in…?” Beatrice asks.“Freeman District Liberal Arts.” You gesture to the space around you as if to indicate your apartment as the whole of the university. “Thought I’d go somewhere prestigious—maybe make it to Concord, or Marion. Or just, y’know. Say fuck it all and go somewhere in the Midwest.”“You’ve been watching too many old movies. Nobody actually wants to leave the Districts.” Beatrice rolls her eyes.“How would you know if you’ve never been to the country?” You ask.“How would you know if you’ve never been to the country?” Beatrice nudges into you as if to emphasize her statement. “Doesn’t Freeman have everything you want?”“It’s got you,” You respond. “So.”“Dorkus.” Bee gives a blushy little pout, turning away as she squeezes your shoulder.“Didn’t think it’d be like this when we met, either.” You grin. “Remember middle school? God, we fucking hated eachother.”“Yeah, well, maybe I still hate you.” Beatrice pokes her tongue out. “What do you want to do, nerd?”> “I was thinking we’d put on a movie—I just want to chill and watch something after tonight.” (Heuristic: Wisdom and Perception)> “Do you want to try a solo RPG? I’ve got some good ideas I need to get out.” (Heuristic: Cunning and Crafting)> “You got your Secrets of the Arcane deck? I’m trying some new tech that needs testing.” (Heuristic: Intellect)> “You know what I want to do.” (Heuristic: Social)
>>3632196> “Do you want to try a solo RPG? I’ve got some good ideas I need to get out.” (Heuristic: Cunning and Crafting)
>>3632196>> “I was thinking we’d put on a movie—I just want to chill and watch something after tonight.” (Heuristic: Wisdom and Perception)
>>3632196> “I was thinking we’d put on a movie—I just want to chill and watch something after tonight.” (Heuristic: Wisdom and Perception)
>>3632196>> “You know what I want to do.” (Heuristic: Social)
>>3632238>>3632242“I was thinking we’d put on a movie. After tonight I kind of just want to kick back and watch something.”“Okay.” Beatrice says. “If it’s a romance flick, I’ll kill you.”“That’s premeditated murder.” You frown.“A crime for a crime,” The girl nods. “No superheroes tonight either.”“Wouldn’t dream of it.” You say, flicking through options on your phone. “Horror or fantasy schlock?”“I’m kind of in a fantasy schlock mood. You?” She asks.“Whatever you’re down for.” You pass the phone up to Bee to let her look.“Yesss.” She responds, hunching down over the backlit screen. It’s no trouble to keep her in your lap until she decides, and even less to move to the couch afterward. The two of you curl up together and mostly watch an indistinct mess of dragons, fireballs, and giant ballistae; you forget the name of it by the time it’s over but somehow manage to end up with a few fresh ideas for your next campaign. You put something else on afterward, and fall asleep together midway through without calling Four-Jean back.The game was a little rocky, yeah. But you wouldn’t dream of complaining about any day you got to spend like this. You’ll set everything else right by next week. Your summer term isn’t too far out, either, and everyone in your group shouldn’t be too far from the university during. It’ll give you plenty of time to squeeze in some sessions and up your game, provided everyone wants to play. Tonight, that’s what you do dream of, and during, there isn’t a shot in any given vignette where Bee is further away than arm’s reach.> Heuristic: Wisdom and Perception – Your senses are keen. You solve problems by being observant, and are more successful when characterizing the big picture; you rely on understanding the behaviors of people and the ways of the world rather than rote knowledge of things.What is your name?> Write-in.
>>3632616>>3632500Things didn't turn out exactly how you expected.Ryan didn’t want to reschedule that first missed session, and his off week turned into two, then three. It wasn’t a significantly large problem story-wise, as he spent enough of the game checked out mentally that his character could be rather easily written out of the plot or turned into an NPC. But it felt a little bit awkward winnowing the group down to three people—especially when Nathaniel wasn’t really a huge outside friend of yours and Jean’s beyond joining you for pre- or post-game meals or stopping by to lounge at your apartment when members of the group were playing other games or if he had a class nearby. He stayed a little bit sour after Kelso’s death, confiding that he questioned your GMing style, and though you worked out some new concepts for a character you imagined he’d enjoy playing he took Ryan’s absence as an excuse not to show. You cancelled the sessions a few weeks after Ryan started ghosting. You didn’t kill the game, but left it in a dreadful sort-of “call me whenever” limbo. Months had passed since you were last able to get your ideas out in the form of a proper game.Game time turned into you and Jean playing Secrets of the Arcane, assuming he didn’t have to back out due to his migraines. When he did, you and Beatrice lazed about, assuming she wasn’t feeling sad. It didn’t take a keen intuition to tell that people, and things, felt a little distant lately. You zoned out frequently, thinking about…“Damon,” Four-Jean interrupts. “It’s still your go.” “Huh? Sorry, spaced out. Did I not say pass?” You ask.“You did not.” Jean responds.“Oh, well. That was it for me. Wait, did I play a Crest?” You snap a card down onto the table by its corner. “I’ll play a Time Crest and end my turn.”There’s a pronounced hollowness that’d usually be filled by the sound of Nathaniel coding on his laptop or Ryan watching a video without earbuds. You’re the only one who seems terribly bothered, though maybe you’re just more aware since it’s your apartment. The weather is overcast; the light from between the curtains seems somehow dull. Four-Jean rubs the bridge of his nose with one hand, wincing briefly as he looks over his cards.“Mesh migraine again?” You ask.“Yeah, this one’s bad.” Jean grunts, setting his glasses on the table and closing his eyes for a moment. “I’ll get out of here after this. Should get better if I get some screen time.”“You know they’ve got medicine you can take for that now, right?” You ask.He shakes his head, leaning back in his seat and closing his eyes. “Puts me to sleep.”“Oh, well. You can bring your VR stuff over here, if you want.” You suggest, flicking your cards. “I think Bee’s going out later, so.”> CONTINUED
>>3632669“Thanks for the offer, boss. I really prefer to be alone, though—sorry, I’ve got weird habits, I know.”“No worries, man.” You respond. “Do what you gotta do. You’re up whenever.”“I know, I know. Uh, draw for turn. Put down a Storm Crest, pay out and exhaust Blazing Acolyte to cast Pyroclastic Surge.” He shows the card, then lays his hand of cards fanned face-down on the table, fingers digging into his temples. “That’s gonna be three damage to everything. Going to pick them up?”You shake your head. “Just hold up. Bee’s gonna counter it when she gets out of the bathroom.”“How do you know that for sure?” Jean asks, leering in your direction between his fingers.“She doesn’t bluff,” You respond. “She’s got two energy left over from her turn, over there on the left side of her board. She always does that when she’s got a counter up, and she always counters Pyroclastic Surge. It’s gonna totally wipe her out if it goes through.”“I guess I haven’t really put any sort of trend to it.” Jean frowns. “Has she been feeling alright, by the way? Is everything going well between the two of you?”“Yeah?” You give him a dubious look. “What do you mean?”“I mean she’s been acting a little distant when I’ve spoken to her outside of your company.” Jean says.“Maybe she’s still sad about the group.” You give a solemn nod. “I know she’s got tough stuff going on with her parents, too. I don’t pry unless I know she’s comfortable with opening up to me about it.”“That might be part of it, I’m sure, but—she’s changed her appearance, has she not? Her hair’s grown out rather quickly in these last couple of weeks, or at least she’s wearing it rather differently, and her makeup and wardrobe…”“Uhm, alright.” You set your cards down with a little bit of an incredulous laugh. “You’re really paying a lot of attention to her. Is there something you’d like to tell me, Jean?”“As someone who prides themselves on possessing an eye for detail I feel comfortable in saying it doesn’t take one to notice such a dramatic change.” Jean folds his arms. “I think you might be a little myopic to it. I swear to God, I’ve seen you pick up on the most subtle things, but you have a giant blind spot when it comes to her. You’re telling me you haven’t noticed anything at all?”“Like what.”Jean’s gaze narrows. “She’s hot now, Damon.”You squint back, pursing your lips just a bit.> CONTINUED
>>3632678You glance over to the door, making sure Jean’s statement wasn’t so loud as to be clearly heard in the other room. “You can’t just say that,” You reply, lowering your voice and turning up your hands.“You’re telling me you disagree?” Jean asks.Okay—you’ve thought Beatrice was attractive since you first met ages ago, but you’ve envisioned her as what someone might call traditionally ‘hot’, provided you are even correctly aware of what that constitutes. Admittedly, she’s always been a little frumpy. But she has changed her hair, and you realize that her selection of attire has maybe been a bit more daring. But that’s never been what you’ve cared about, or what you’ve loved about her. The fact that she’s still here with you—and with what’s left of your friend-and-game-group—gives you life: a reason to keep doing what you do and enjoying what you do.But you don’t disagree. Not just in the sense that you find her attractive, but in the sense that something’s different. She’s been just about the only thing you can depend on, still—but when you put some distance between yourself and everything that’s going on you can’t help but realize something’s wrong.Your bathroom door opens, and you and Jean exchange pointed stares as Beatrice wanders out and scoots back into her seat. You have to step outside of your body for a moment to verify the changes Jean’s talking about. Maybe she’s going through something, you think, but it’s not like her not to tell you.“Did I miss anything important?” She asks.“Yeah, Pyroclastic Surge is about to go through.” You shoot Jean a confident grin.Beatrice picks her hand of cards back up after another couple of seconds and looks impassively at it. She surveys the board with a dull expression, then nods after another moment or so, scooping everything on her side of the field into a neat pile. “Yeah, I got nothing. That all?”Four-Jean raises his eyebrows, and you frown. “Bee, your Ancient Guardian is still alive after that.”“Oh,” She replies, thumbing through the stack of cards to put one back. “Didn’t notice. Sorry.”No one says much of anything for the rest of the game. Beatrice spends her time doing nothing but playing Nature Crests and sandbagging attacks, occasionally forgetting to draw for her turn; without her present to play consistent threats like she usually does, Jean’s control strategy is enough to keep you almost completely off of the board, attacking your resources almost incidentally just so he doesn’t have too many cards in his hand. By the time he’s won by right, it takes him another eight turns to actually win. You can tell he’s dreading it as well; each subsequent game action seems to bring him a little bit closer to scooping to his headache before your last life point is depleted.> CONTINUED
>>3632696"Guessing nobody's down for game two?" You ask.“Gonna have to call it a night early. I’m burning off.” Jean says, collecting himself long enough to give you a pointed look as he gathers his things and departs from the table. You give him a glare that might seem a little bit more rude than you intend. “I'll call you and see if you want to meet up late.”Beatrice’s cards are scattered in front of her. She’s gazing down at her phone with her cheek smushed into her hand.> “What’s been going on with you lately?”> “Are you feeling okay?”> “There’s someone else, isn’t there?”> Other. (Write-in.)
>>3632703"Hey, you know you can tell me stuff right? Is there something bothering you?"But really, deep down, I fear its.> “There’s someone else, isn’t there?”We see the big picture after all, we've been nothing but a bore and we may have bored her.
>>3632703>> “What’s been going on with you lately?”
>>3632703>> “Are you feeling okay?”not being accusatory I think, we just want to hear her out
>>3632718>>3632752>>3632765“Hey, you know you can tell me anything, right?” You ask. “You’ve been really distant lately, you know that?”“I’ve had stuff.” Beatrice says flatly.“You know that’s the last thing Ryan said to me in person?” You frown. “Hey, Bee—are you feeling alright? If something’s going on with you, my ear is open. Let me help.”That hair of hers really has grown a lot in a short time, you realize—though maybe you’re just not used to her wearing it down. Wigs and body-mods don’t really seem her speed, and you haven’t known her to have the spare change for those kinds of things anyway. Your gaze flits up and down; has she slimmed up a bit too? Beatrice affords a long pause as she looks at you, working it over like she’s in the way of saying ‘everything’s fine’, then sighs.“Don’t you think all this is a little childish?” She asks.You don’t know exactly what she’s asking, but the question hits you like a brick all the same.“What? Bee? When people used to talk shit about RPGs back in high school—you were the one that told me that only children want to be adults.” You give her an incredulous look, leaning forward in your seat. “Is—““I know what I told you. Things change.” The stare she sends back is solemn. “I just think it’s dumb that we ended up like this over some boring game.”You frown. “Boring? Was that—my fault? I know it’s been a while since we played a real role-playing game but I figured everyone was enjoying themselves. Do you just not want to play Arcane anymore—I mean, I know your uncle got you into gaming and all that stuff when you were little, so it never occurred to me that you’d wear out on it.”“Yeah, well, he died a few weeks ago, so. Maybe I just haven’t been in the mood.”“Oh. I’m sorry. I had no idea.” You respond, lacing your fingers. “You didn’t tell me anything about that.”“I got busy with some things.” She looks away from you, readjusting her elbow on the table so her cheek rests on her closed fist instead of her open palm. “I’ve been trying to make new friends, too, for once. Just trying to change things.”“…Anyone I know?” You ask. “You could introduce me.”She gives a half-hearted shake of the head. “Probably wouldn’t go over well. They’re mostly Greek.”“Like, Mediterranean?” You quirk a brow.“Like Lambda, Damon.”“That makes more sense.” You nod. “Sorry, wouldn’t have guessed that was your speed either.”> CONTINUED
>>3632918“I’m trying new stuff. I’ve just been thinking that everything that’s happened to us is a sign, you know? Like we shouldn’t try to force stuff to work if it’s not working—things change.” Beatrice turns back to face you. Her expression is an intermediate that doesn’t give away her emotion at a glance, but she affords a measured and thoughtful pause before speaking. “I’ve been thinking maybe we should take a break.”> “I’ve known you longer than I’ve known Four-Jean. You don’t have to change me out too.”> “There’s someone else, isn’t there?”> “This isn’t like you at all. What’s really going on?”> “If that’s what you think is best, I’ll always be here.”
>>3632921> “There’s someone else, isn’t there?”
>>3632921>> “There’s someone else, isn’t there?”crap, how long has she been cheating on us?
>>3632921> “I’ve known you longer than I’ve known Four-Jean. You don’t have to change me out too.”> “There’s someone else, isn’t there?”She didn't even told us about her uncle? Damn...
also, damn, I was happy for once there would be no waifu wars because we already had a girlfriend
>>3632993>>3632992>>3632982“There’s someone else, isn’t there?” You ask.Beatrice begins to speak, but gives a measured pause.Shit. That’s all it takes; you know what that means. How long has she been cheating on you? Or is she just making space for a new-someone to fill?“No,” She shakes her head. “I told you—I think we just need a break, okay?”“What if I don’t agree?” You ask.“Then I don’t know what to tell you.” She responds. “How you think it is isn’t how it is.”“Then how is it, Bee?” You ask. “Because it’s not about changing things or growing up or whatever—I’ve known you longer than I’ve known Four-Jean. You don’t have to change me out too. I’m not a dress or a pair of shoes.”“It’s not you, okay?” The girl snaps at you. Her hand comes down on the table, and the shock topples a deck of cards.“Then who is it? If it’s not me and it’s not someone else?” Your voice raises, and not because you’re trying to raise it. “You’re not lying to me, are you? You wouldn’t come out like this and then lie to me on top of that?”The girl’s head hangs, and she manages a matter-of-fact little laugh pitched with nervous disbelief.“What?” You ask.“I thought you’d take this better. I didn’t cheat on you, Dee. I’m going.” Beatrice says. She takes her bag and departs without gathering her Arcane deck. “…Maybe see you around.”> “Bye.”> “Love you, Bee.”> Say nothing.
>>3633270>>"See you around"how long were the two together?
>>3633302Damon and Beatrice have known one another for about seven years; of those seven, they've been friends for about six (to say they had to warm up to one another is a bit of an understatement, though they were at the age where affection is shown by being mean - and arguably still are). Relationship-wise, they've been mostly-together for four.
>>36333874? and she just walks out, seems odd"What’s really going on?”
>>3633302>>3633288“Yeah,” You say, as the door shuts. “Maybe see you around. Bye.”You wonder what's going on with her. Whether you'll ever find out, and if you even want to know. One thing is certain: things didn’t turn out quite how you expected. > CONTINUED
>>3633483> TWO MONTHS LATERYour name is Damon Peters. You are a 21 year old student of the Freeman District School of Liberal Arts, and are currently midway through a summer term in which you’ve done approximately no work.You have exactly one friend, and in your current state of mind aren’t sure whether you want more or fewer. You first met Four-Jean Sebastien Desjardins around the time you started dating Beatrice. He’s an art student who shares most of your hobbies, and the only person you imagine at this point is going to stick with you until the bitter end. Jean is the fourth and youngest child of a family of French-Canadian neo-liberal techno-fetishists, apparently a trend in the community he comes from; he was homeschooled for most of the time leading up to his secondary education and confides that between the ages of three and nine he spent more time in VR than out. His childhood adjustment to this leads him to experience frequent and intrusive neuromuscular headaches with inadequate screen time.You’re loosely acquainted with the members of your old gaming group. Nathaniel Dorsett Student is a computer science major who occasionally attends the tabletop gaming club to play board games and has spoken to you very little recently; he’s crashed two school databases, one during penetration testing and a second because his name is Student. Ryan Spencer is a business student who attended exactly one tabletop club meeting and joined your game; he regularly insisted he was having a good time, but didn’t do a ton of roleplaying and didn’t really get to know anyone. He looks much older than he is, and seems to have much more money than he looks like he does.And Beatrice Eliza Chambers—you don’t speak her name. But you do think about her when you go to sleep and when you wake up. Though you never knew the nature of the trouble in her proper household, you know she spent much of her childhood with her uncle, who impressed upon her a fascination in roleplaying and card games and had ‘a lot of other weird hobbies’ of his own. You could think of an anecdote about her but you know too many and regarding them would probably take you to a bad place. You haven’t seen her in four weeks or so.You thought you were better than this, but she really messed you up.You need to try to get some work done. Your educational focus is...> Advertising. You’re good at sending signals and interpreting signs and hope to combine the trade with the underlying philosophy.> Journalism. You hoped to exercise your unique combination of a creative mind and a critical eye in your education.> Business Administration. Though you don’t often rise to the challenge, you’re a leadership-oriented big-picture thinker.> A “hard science”. It’s something you struggle with learning, but you came to FD-SoLAr to get a degree to fall back on.
>>3633498>> Journalism. You hoped to exercise your unique combination of a creative mind and a critical eye in your education.
>>3633515>>3633498going to sleep now.just wanted to say I enjoyed the writing up until now and I'll be back for more, thanks for running
>>3633498> Journalism. You hoped to exercise your unique combination of a creative mind and a critical eye in your education.
>>3633498>Journalism. You hoped to exercise your unique combination of a creative mind and a critical eye in your education
>>3633498>> A “hard science”. It’s something you struggle with learning, but you came to FD-SoLAr to get a degree to fall back on.
>>3633515>>3633584>>3633614You’ve been putting off a number of things in your Journalism course load, and spent most of this term so far feeling downcast and not doing much of anything. Still, you think you might be able to slip by for the most part—though there is one thing that will require your concerted attention.RESPONSIBILITIES• Media Law Term Assignment> Details: You’ll need to study and do the requisite research to draft and write a lengthy paper on a subject in media law and ethics.> Time Remaining: 4 weeks> Failure: You will have to repeat this course during an upcoming semester.Seated in front of your computer, you consider how best to proceed, as it stands to reason you should get some study time in—or failing that, get some sunlight. As you prepare to move on, you’re interrupted by the ringing of your phone. Ryan is calling.> Pick up. “Hello?”> Pick up. “What do you want?”> Decline the call.> Screen him through your voice mail.---Also going to bed here soon. Will likely be around later tomorrow.
>>3633683>Screen him through your voice mail.
>>3633683>> Pick up. “What do you want?”
>>3633683> Pick up. “Hello?”
>>3633740>>3634117“Hello?” You lean back in your seat, bringing the phone to your ear.“Damon.” Ryan’s voice comes through after a moment. There’s a very slight echo that suggests he’s talking to his watch. “What’s good?”“Not much.” You reply, but earnestly. “Did you need something?”“Not really.” Ryan says. “Four-Jean told me what happened with Beatrice.”“…Oh.” Your voice shrinks a bit. “He wasn’t really supposed to.”“Sorry, I didn’t think it was a secret.” He responds. “Anyway, listen. I know I kind of did you wrong, but I wanted to see if I could make it up to you somehow. There’s a party in my neck of the woods tonight, and as of a few minutes ago, your name’s on the list. Gonna be drinks, music—lot of good girls. We got real table tennis, too, and one of those drone game things if that’s your kind of stuff.”> “Is Beatrice going to be there?”> “Why this? You don’t really owe it to me.”> “Send me the address and I’ll think about it.”> “Can’t make it. I got stuff.”
>>3634611> “Why this? You don’t really owe it to me.”> “Send me the address and I’ll think about it.”
>>3634611> “Is Beatrice going to be there?”> “Send me the address and I’ll think about it.”We need to get out a little and get some air, and making friends with Ryan again couldn't hurt, better than being depressed and holed up even if we haven't gotten over the girl
>>3634611>“Send me the address and I’ll think about it.”
>>3634611>> “Is Beatrice going to be there?”>> “Send me the address and I’ll think about it.”
>>3634611>“Why this? You don’t really owe it to me.”> “Send me the address and I’ll think about it.”
You let the conversation stall for just a moment. Not so long as to be awkward, of course, but carrying on this conversation over the phone makes it hard to tell whether or not he's being sincere. Ryan has never struck you as particularly bright, but he also doesn't let on much of what he's feeling if he's not laughing about something.“Is Beatrice going to be there?” You ask. “This isn't a loser party,” Ryan says. “Beatrice is kind of a loser, Damon.”He probably hasn't seen her for a while if he thinks as much, based on what you know and what you can only imagine she's been up to. You have half a mind to stand up for her even if you're sure she wouldn't terribly resent the comment if it was said to her face, but you don't presently have a good reason to. Still.. “You know, whatever you think makes her a loser, I've probably got that in common with her, right?” You ask. “Bee and I are… I mean, how is she a loser and I'm not?”“You’re just not. Trust me. You helped me out of a bad spot and that makes you cool. I know we're not exactly friends, but I want to at least try and pay that forward. It's actually the least I could do after I kind of fucked up your game.” He gives a little bit of a laugh. “Plus, you're kind of smooth in your own way. You're pretty fucking clever when you're thinking up stuff on game night, at least. I think you'd run in a totally different circle if you knew how to point that in a different direction.”“Well, alright, then. Send me the address and I'll think about it.” You respond. That's not quite what you expected out of this, but you are grateful for the thought. Maybe you could use a chance to get out and actually do something. Or… meet someone. “I appreciate the invite, Ryan.”“It's no big deal. I’ll get it to you in a minute.” He responds. “I gotta burn off for now. Stay upright, Damon.”The call ends a moment later, and you set your phone down, looking back to your computer screen. A buzz from the table serves as an indicator of Ryan’s message, and you confirm the address. It's at a complex in one of the nicer parts of the District, though not too inconveniently far from university square. You could take a taxi, though it wouldn't be terribly bothersome to walk. You're expected later in the evening, which leaves you with time on your hands now.> Call up Four-Jean.> See if you can get some project research done now. > Send Nathaniel a message and try to make things right with him. > Just hang out and keep your mind off things.--Temporary trip for dirty mobileposting.
>>3635263>Send Nathaniel a message and try to make things right with him.
>>3635263> Send Nathaniel a message and try to make things right with him.
>>3635263>> Send Nathaniel a message and try to make things right with him.
>>3635263>See if you can get some project research done now.
>>3635289>>3635391>>3635414Your social media presence has been rather subdued recently, but you reckon the best way to reach Nathaniel is online as he's seldom far from a computer. All that matters is your approach. Ryan did just tell you that you could be “smooth” were you only to aim your creativity in the right direction. It's not as if you're trying to convince him of anything or even right a situation that you feel has gone horribly wrong. It's just that you don't want to mess anything up. As much as you'd hate to admit it, you need people right now. > Just let him know you're sorry things didn't work out with the group and you're down to hang out again sometime.> Tell him you're putting another group together for a game soon.> Ask if he's ever played Arcane; the programmer-folk you know usually enjoy it and you've got extra decks.> Ask if he knows anything about a party uptown tonight.
>>3635631>Ask if he's ever played Arcane; the programmer-folk you know usually enjoy it and you've got extra decks.
>>3635631> Ask if he's ever played Arcane; the programmer-folk you know usually enjoy it and you've got extra decks.seems like a common interest to get him interested
>>3635631> Ask if he's ever played Arcane; the programmer-folk you know usually enjoy it and you've got extra decks.
>>3635631>Just let him know you're sorry things didn't work out with the group and you're down to hang out again sometime.
Back for just a little bit. Should have an update up shortly.
>>3635643>>3635704>>3635752>> Me: [ Hey, Nate. How’ve you been? I was wondering if you’ve ever played Arcane—that card game that 4Jean and I are always about. I was thinking it might be your kind of game. ]>> Nathaniel: [ I’ve been doing alright, Damon. It’s been a while. I presume you’re alright too. Did you ever get another RPG started? ]Nathaniel’s response is prompt and succinct. These conversations are always the most difficult. For the moment, you aren’t sure if he’s taunting you, actually interested, or just unaware. You make an effort to respond relatively quickly yourself.>> Me: [ Unfortunately, I didn’t. Why’s that? ]>> Nathaniel: [ I was just curious. Your games were rather unusual but I have yet to find one quite as good. That said: no, I’ve never played Arcane. Sounds like something that’d take over my life. Is it hard to learn? ]>> Me: [ Not really. You’d probably catch on quick. ]You give pause, leaving text entered.>> Me: [ If everyone really thought the game was going well, why did no one ever call back? ]>> Nathaniel: [ I had stuff. ]>> Me: [ I hear that a lot lately. ]>> Nathaniel: [ Well, it’s the truth. I did disagree with some of your decisions throughout the campaign, and I’ll admit that left me a bit sour, but I suppose the overall reaction was less than ideal. ]>> Me: [ Well, if you ever want to talk about it over cards I can teach you to play Arcane. Maybe you could even GM something yourself sometime. ]>> Nathaniel: [ I’d like that. I’ll make an effort to keep in touch this time. It’s not a strong point of mine, in case you haven’t noticed. ]That went better than you thought. You breathe a sigh of relief and just sit back for a few minutes.> Ask Nathaniel something else. (Write-in.)> Call up Jean.> Kill some time researching or just lounging.> Head out on the town—maybe check out the party spot early.
>>3635976do we have time to put some groundwork our work before we leave for the party?but anyway> Ask Nathaniel something else. (Write-in.)so what have you been up to these last couple of months?
>>3635976>Head out on the town—maybe check out the party spot early.
>>3635976> Call up Jean"Hey man, Ryan invited me to a private party at his house, they have a name list and everything and he put my name on it, do you think I should go? I was thinking about it, you know, to try to get my mind out of the gutter."Just letting bro know we are going in case something happens, Ryan came out of nowhere.
>>3636011I can change to this
>> Me: [ What have you been up to these last couple of months? ]>> Nathaniel: [ Working. Been very busy with a project. ]>> Me: [ What kind? ]>> Nathaniel: [ Employing artificial intelligence and neural networks in parsing and recognition of symbols, logos, and brands. I think it’s quite exciting but you don’t have to care. ]As you idly chat, you keep your phone ringing to contact Jean. This party thing came out of the blue, and even though it’s an exciting prospect, it’s a bit of a confusing one—and it’d be best for at least someone else to know where you’re going to be in case something goes wrong. You can’t imagine what would go wrong, though; the only parties like this you’ve really experienced have been in movies, and the neighborhood usually gets burned down in those. You don’t think anything is going to burn down the neighborhood tonight.“Hello?” Jean’s audio quality is crisp. When you hold the phone to your ear it sounds like he’s standing right beside you. Nowadays, you can learn a lot from bitrate alone.“Hey,” You respond. “Guessing you’re meshed right now?”“I am.” Jean says. “Just me, of course, as usual—no one’s listening, if that’s what you’re wondering. Why? What’s going on?”“Nothing. How’s street traffic going uptown?” You ask. “I’m thinking about taking a taxi in a little bit.”“One second—okay, not bad. There’s a ten minute delay due to construction off of Forty just north of District Center. If you’re passing that way, just tell it to take all available detours. Or leave early. Could you have not looked that up yourself?” Jean asks, then pauses. “Oh, wait. Damon, are you going somewhere? How are you feeling? You’re certainly sounding better than last week.”“I’m good. I was getting to that.” You respond. “Ryan invited me to a private party just now—at his place or somewhere upscale, I dunno. There’s a list and everything and he put my name on it. Do you think I should go? I was thinking it might… put my mind somewhere better.”“Ryan called you up?” Jean asks.“Yeah,” You say. “Out of nowhere.”“Why’d he suddenly decide to do something like this for you?”“He said he felt like he did me wrong and he wanted to pay it forward.” You reply. “It sounded like he was being pretty sincere.”“Mm.” Jean hums. “Sounds suspicious.”“You don’t think I should go?” You ask.“Of course I think you should go. It’s not often you get an opportunity like this, assuming it’s as upscale as you’re making it sound. Maybe you’ll—actually, never mind.” Jean says. “Just don’t get in too deep with whatever he has going on, okay? I’ve heard stories.”> CONTINUED
>>3636789“Yeah, right. Hey, what kind of stories do you mean?” You ask.“Stories for sharing later, I think.” Jean gives a little bit of a laugh. “Have a good time, Damon. And please, don’t go changing.”“I don’t plan on it. If something weird happens, can I count on you to bail me out?” You ask.“Of course.” Jean says. “You know how to reach me.”Well, you’ve got your friend’s endorsement. You turn your attention to your closet. There’s a few nice articles secreted away for certain occasions—like the rare chance you got to take Bee somewhere ritzy. Conversely, there isn’t anything particularly jaw-dropping, especially where price tag is concerned. As a college student, you don’t exactly have the wealth to your name to dress like a corporate overlord.Mind made up, you… (1)> Put on something sharp, but not too formal. The spot is classy, but the people really aren’t; you’ll fit in just fine.> Dress like any other evening out. This isn’t even a thing to you, and it’s not clothes that make the man.(2)> Ask Nathaniel something else. (Write-in.)> Clear your head for a bit and get a ride to the spot in time to beat the delay.> Try and get some work done and head out whenever.
>>3636793>Put on something sharp, but not too formal. The spot is classy, but the people really aren’t; you’ll fit in just fine>Clear your head for a bit and get a ride to the spot in time to beat the delay.Look good feel good
Feel free to suggest details about Damon's appearance, aside, if you like. I wasn't planning on overly drawing attention to it or utilizing any sort of reference but I suppose it could be agreeable to come by one that I liked and the majority of players did as well.
>>3636793>> Put on something sharp, but not too formal. The spot is classy, but the people really aren’t; you’ll fit in just fine.> Clear your head for a bit and get a ride to the spot in time to beat the delay.play some games until it's time
>>3636798>>3636815You can still look sharp, though. Students and the professionally educated, you realize as you regard your wardrobe and redress for the evening, comprise a small and exclusive middle ground between the Districts’ few “haves” and their many “have-nots”. You manage to show as much mostly inadvertently, settling for dark-colored, slim-fit symmetry: a lightweight shirt with a fashionably-contrasted collar and long sleeves pulled back just so, dark-colored jeans and a clean pair of shoes you haven’t worn in yet. With all of that squared away, you decide to simply relax and try to get your head into a better place until it’s time to go, mentally thanking Jean for warning you about the delay on the road; you might have ended up being a little later than anticipated.You think for a little bit about your Arcane decks, and momentarily consider impulse ordering a couple of cards you’ve had in your head for a while. Without Bee filling the third spot in your multiplayer games, you’ve had to play more aggressively than you’re used to in order to actually take games off Jean, as it’s a rare day that he isn’t playing some sort of control strategy and you tend to be more reactive. Deciding you’d rather keep your money for something a little more important for once, though, you decide instead to plug in your controller and play some video games for a while. You don’t really have anything that’s totally brainless, but you do have a handful of things you can ease into; it fits that you mostly play classic-style RPGs, but side-scrolling exploration games are your speed when you just need something to chunk away at more casually. You make some progress toward full map discovery on the one you’ve been working on; it leaves you a little bit more satisfied, somehow, and you don’t think about much else for the duration.Cooler heads, or some such.>CONTINUED
>>3637016You preempt your arrival at the drive outside the complex by summoning a taxi via app while you’re still in your apartment gathering yourself to leave when it’s about time. It shortens the wait a bit and makes the process feel a little smoother. When a black car with a familiar company logo on the door pulls up, you slide into the passenger seat—looks like you’re riding alone today, thankfully—and key in the destination on the touch-screen display built into the dash, since the ride is already linked to your account. As you’re ahead of the traffic you don’t need to make special concessions for the detours; you don’t listen to any music on the way over, not for lack of preferences, but because you imagine you’ll be getting your fill of loud pop and electronica. The ride pushes through the streets, pulsing neon business lights washing over your face through the tinted windows as you pass through city center; it’s a fine and busy evening in Freeman District, you see, before your ride rounds another couple of corners and slows to a stop in a corporate neighborhood. Not one of the gated ones. Maybe it’s about as ritzy as you’re expecting.You’re arriving at the same time as a handful of others, and the muffled beats from inside, light shining in the windows, and the commotion in the backyard in addition to this lets you know that you’re in the right place. It’s a proper two-story home with asymmetrical modern architecture, lower-floor windows squared away within off-color frames. The building fits perfectly into the space allotted; though the property is plenty wide, the front yard isn’t fenced off from the properties on either side. The door frame is wood—you’re not sure it’s real, but it wouldn’t surprise you to find out it was.“Name?” You approach the front door after a small pack of giggling freshman girls, and a guy who’s built like Ryan—tough-looking and similarly aged-early in the face—bumps you, flicking through a list on a snap phone like Ryan’s, fastened around his wrist. He’s dressed in mostly-black, and you breathe an internal sigh of relief when you see he’s kind of in the same regime as you stylistically.“Damon Peters.” You respond promptly and with whatever confidence you can manage, trying not to be too posture-conscious. “I’m a friend of Ryan Spencer’s. You know him?”“I do.” He says. “Go on in. I’ll let him know you’re here. Enjoy yourself—first floor back hallway is off-limits.”“Got it, thanks.”>CONTINUED
>>3637018The music thumps, bass shaking you in a strangely-pleasant way as you cross the threshold into the environment. It looks like things are just starting to warm up. The foyer’s been turned into part-lounge part-dancefloor, with another one of Ryan’s buddies on DJ duty behind a gaudy AR table hooked up to the speaker system and a psychedelic visualizer playing on all the television screens. The kitchen’s currently serving a minibar, and it looks like the front space opens up into a larger rec-room that’s housing the ‘actual table-tennis tables’ advertised. There’s the backyard to check out as well, when you’ve got a minute spare—but taking in the space, you feel a little out of place without a drink in your hand.> Grab a drink and link up with Ryan—or just wait for him to find you.> Head out back and see if you can find anyone playing those drone games. You’re actually really good at the popular ones, thanks to playing against Four-Jean.> Check out the rec-room. Talk to some people and maybe get in on table tennis.> When in Rome, look for lonely ladies.
>>3637020>Grab a drink and link up with Ryan—or just wait for him to find you
>>3637020>> Head out back and see if you can find anyone playing those drone games. You’re actually really good at the popular ones, thanks to playing against Four-Jean.
>>3637020> Grab a drink and link up with Ryan—or just wait for him to find you.
>>3637261>>3637367>>3637261>>3637367The guys in the kitchen area look askance at you as you make your way in and you can’t tell if it’s just because you’re not acquainted. The normal proceedings of drink-mixing, chatting, lounging back against countertops and spacing out to the enduring electronic beat, or flirting with the girls—a little older, hanging arm-in-arm-sweetheart with some of the tough guys—seem to resume, though, when Ryan slides by to offer you a shoulder-bump and a drink that smells like hard liquor and syrupy sweetness.“Glad you could make it, boss.” He says, wearing a little smirk. He passes the glass into your hand, and you give it a little swirl in inspecting it.“What’s even in this?” You ask. You’re not too much of a drinker, and it might show.“Pfuuh, I dunno. Shitton of vodka, though—me and some of the guys said we were going to handle the handle tonight, and right now it looks like we’re about to open another one. You down to help?” He asks. He’s just a bit flush; you can tell he’s been pre-gaming. “Old friend of mine got a bottle of real good stuff from overseas, so I got that for sippin’ later. Anyway, what do you think?”> “How’d you get the money for a place like this?”> “What kinds of games do you have going on?”> “What’s going on upstairs?”> “Anyone I know here?”
>>3637466> “What’s going on upstairs?”> “Anyone I know here?”Drink a little but then keep on beers, we don't want to get shit faced...yet.
>>3637466> “How’d you get the money for a place like this?”> “Anyone I know here?”
>>3637466>> “What kinds of games do you have going on?”>> “Anyone I know here?”
Rolled 5 (1d20)>>3637482Rolling 1d20 for initiative. Each 1 point means 1 person I'm ahead of in getting to know the others.
“I dig it,” You respond. “It’s a very classy look.”“Classy look yourself.” Ryan nods, shooting you a sly smile. “Remember what I told you: point it in the right direction.”You nod in kind. “Is there anyone I know here?”“Might be a kind of day for meeting new people, depending on how many people you know. You said you were majoring in journalism, right? Carter, and, uh, Evelyn—shit, so many names—I think are in the same major, so you might have had a class with them.”“I think I remember the names from Intro,” You respond. Not really the best, but it’s a good place to start if you’re keen on going somewhere you’ve got a foot in the door. “You know where I could find ‘em?”“They’re upstairs in one of the guest rooms. Playing Shareholder, I think.” Ryan takes another sip of his drink, and you take a provisional sip of yours. It’s sweet and heady, leaving your throat warm on the way down and clouding you for the briefest instant.“Shareholder?” You quirk a brow.“One of those table drinking games.” Ryan says. “The ones that are less ‘games’ and more of ‘excuses’.”“Right. There’s some people playing actual games, though. I saw the ping-pong table, at least.” You respond.“Yep. People are fooling around with drones out back, too, if you get bored. You ever see a drunk guy chase a strobe light on a quad-rotor? Funniest shit in the world.” He says. “We also got a little field set up for the capture-the-flag thing—with the little dudes that look like mini EOD bots.” Ryan says.“I’m pretty good at those.” You shrug.“Go show ‘em up, then.” Ryan says. “We’re getting tacos delivered, by the way. People are gonna get hungry.”“How’d you get the money for all this?” You ask.The conversation stalls for a moment, and he leers at you. “Just enjoy it, my man. It’s here to stay.”> Go play drinking games upstairs.> Head out back.> Chill in the foyer and listen to some music.> Other. (Write-in.)
>>3640300>Head out back
>>3640300>Chill in the foyer and listen to some music
>>3640300>> Head out back.
>>3640300> Head out back.
>>3641278>>3641482>>3640311Pulse grows louder and quiets again as you cross back through the front room, passing under surround-sound speakers and pushing through a group of fresh arrivals heading to the bar on your way to the glass doors heading out back. Ryan’s correct about one thing, you see, as you make your way to the edge of the deck and lean against the metal railing to look over at the activities: drunk guys and quad-rotors are a satisfying combination to behold. There’s a group of boys relaxing on beach-style chairs. Some of them draw on e-cigarettes, exhaling swirling vapor clouds while talking shit and carefully guarding the drinks in their free hands; others are taking turns racing remote-controlled quad-rotors past ground stakes that light up to indicate laps and victories and getting way, way too excited about sharp turns, upset victories, and daring drunken maneuvers.You take another sip. Your alcohol tolerance isn’t the greatest, obviously, but you could probably show these guys up just by virtue of still having your wits about you. A few couples are lounging and lingering around the deck with you, and you exchange polite waves as you notice one another. “Doing good?” Someone asks over the music, and you afford a smile and nod in response.You step down from the deck for a little bit of healthy eavesdropping. In the other part of the yard, there’s a small section cut off for the capture-the-flag game your acquaintance mentioned. There’s just a girl playing against a guy and his friend, though two of the bots are currently set outside of the arena; of the two remaining, one is running circles around the other. The vehicles in this game are capable of “tagging” one another for a brief time-out to make the game of offense and defense more complex than a simple race to the goal. But the girl’s bot is repeatedly tagging the other while slowly bumping the flag out of reach—and the other pair seem to be pretty sore losers.“Obviously this shit’s kind of rigged! That’s OP as hell, bro!” The backseat driver shouts. “You know this is supposed to be a two-on-two game for a reason? Whoever gets to the ball first just wins otherwise!”“Then find me a partner!” The girl teases. “So you can keep losing!”> Go out-race the drunk bros for a while. It’s totally mindless and guaranteed to make you feel better.> Ask the CTF girl if you can join her team.> Try your luck with meeting people on the deck.
>>3642313>> Ask the CTF girl if you can join her team.
>>3642313>Ask the CTF girl if you can join her team.
>>3642807>>3642460>>3642451These toys are hardly streamlined in their design beyond logos and whatever microcontrol adjustments are necessary to make them easy to use by a regular person with a cellphone; they are miniaturized versions of the tools used in industrial applications and corporate warfare alike, adorned with alluring high-visibility paint jobs. It seems like the better the technology becomes, the stranger it is to you to see them so frequently repurposed as childrens’ playthings and side-shows at drunken college parties. Regardless, it’s not as if you’re completely inexperienced. You’ve played around with bots like this during a robotics elective in secondary school and squared off with Four-Jean more than a good few times at social events; you could never really beat a hardware-hippie like him, but just getting the games in with a skilled opponent is good enough to push your game past what any average person might expect to beat so easily.“Hey,” You approach the field. “You guys need a fourth?”“Nope,” The girl says. “But we’ll take one. You know how to play?”“Yep. Put me in,” You respond, gesturing to the spare bots. “Where’s the remotes?”“You sync your phone to these.” She responds. “Just play defense, okay? Try not to block me too hard while you’re learning the controls?”“She’s being smug again.” One of the bros says, looking over his shoulder at his partner.“She’s not drunk, Aaron.” The backseat driver shouts. He finishes his beer as if to prove a point, discarding the can aside. “That’s why she’s winning.”“You can get me another drink after I beat you again.” The girl turns to you. “You got it?”“Yeah,” You respond, putting your drink on the arm of a nearby chair and getting your phone ready. When you’re finished setting it up, you move the bot into position into the ring. “Don’t worry, I’m a quick study.”>CONTINUED
>>3643117The application for these isn’t particularly well-designed, but the controls are responsive enough that you can pull off some pretty neat moves once you adjust to the minor delay. You sit back for the first round, and your bot totters back and forth uselessly beside the goal ring while you figure out just how to make your tentative first steps—which results in the pair of bros scoring on you pretty quickly after the girl’s drone gets knocked out, much to her chagrin. You give a nervous and slightly tipsy smile back to her frustrated look, but your actual defense in the next round is good enough to let her do her thing. It’s meant to be a game of capture the flag, but it plays more like a strange variant of soccer; flaws in the actual design of the sport are compensated for by the quirks of the robots and the mechanical difficulty of actually operating them via smartphone. Once the game’s tied up, the opposing team agrees to a best-of-five—and then to a ‘next point wins’ after you beat them in that. You go on offense in the final round, giving your partner’s drone a bump aside as part of the twofold-blitz strategy. It gets on her nerves, but doesn’t slow either of you down so much that you don’t claim victory.Defeated, your opponents meander off, making excuses the whole way.“Whew.” The girl smirks at you after a breath like she’s actually been exerting herself. She’s pretty excited. “Sore losers, huh? Looks like we beat them. I gotta say: you’re not as bad as I thought after that first round.”“I told you, I’m a quick study.” You shrug, managing the best confident look you can. “Looks like we’re the best.”“Woah. We can’t both be the best.” She says. “How about a quick one-on-one for all the marbles? And *you* can get me a drink too after I send you packing.”> “Nah, I don’t have anything to prove.”> “Sure. Want me to go easy on you?”
>>3643123>“Sure. Want me to go easy on you?”
>>3643123>> “Sure. Want me to go easy on you?”
>>3643132>>3643135>>3643136“Sure,” You reply. “Want me to go easy on you?”She rolls her eyes. “Everyone seems to complain that playing one-on-one isn’t fair when they start losing, so maybe I should go easy on you instead.”“That won’t be necessary. I usually don’t mind a challenge.” You maneuver your bot back into position, and she does the same after removing the extras from the ring.“Hey—it’d be rude if I totally destroyed you before I knew your name.” The girl says. She’s already got her phone ready. “What do they call you?”“Damon.” You respond. “How about yourself?”“Kat.” She nods.“That short for Katherine?” You ask.“Quatorze.” She smiles. “If you must know.”Oh, for fuck’s sake.> “Been nice meeting you, Kat. Ready to lose?”> “You’re a techno-hippie?”> “Your parents had fourteen kids?”
>>3643170>>3643170>“Been nice meeting you, Kat. Ready to be numero dos??”
>>3643170>> “Your parents had fourteen kids?”hum, my knowledge of Portuguese was useful in a quest, would you look at thatthen we> “Been nice meeting you, Kat. Ready to lose?”
>>3643170>> “Your parents had fourteen kids?”
>>3643170>“Your parents had fourteen kids?”> “Been nice meeting you, Kat. Ready to lose?”
>>3643187>>3643201>>3643223“Hang on,” You hold a finger up. “Your parents had fourteen kids?”A sliver of pink fills Kat’s cheeks as she stifles a laugh and fails to hold it, almost doubling over in tipsy hysterics. “Oh God.” She says. “I’m an only. My parents had me on their fourteenth anniversary.”“Oh, whoops. Sorry, I’ve got a friend named Four-Jean, and he’s—well, yeah. I figured there was a pattern.” Picking up on patterns where they don’t exist is also a talent of yours.“Don’t apologize, nerd. Let’s play.” She replies.“Alright. It’s been good meeting you, Quatorze.” You grin. “You ready to lose?”“It’s been good meeting you too, Damon. Your French is worse than mine, by the way.” She pulls up her phone, drone lurching on command for a false start. “Hope you play better than you speak it!”>1D100 Bo3
Rolled 66 (1d100)>>3643239
Rolled 11 (1d100)>>3643239
Rolled 43 (1d100)>>3643239
>>3643255>> [ 66 ]Active play and adaptability—understanding your mistakes and how your playstyle needs to change in a given situation, and making those changes as appropriate—are the marks of skill. Quatorze’s approach to the one-on-one is much more methodical than when she has a plus-one running defense for her. The rounds play out almost as if they’re turn-based, targets moved inch-by-inch toward goal lines between careful tags and defensive plays made by carefully reading one’s opponent’s next move. Even having the hang of it, it’s much more difficult than battling it out with the bros earlier; she keeps her game face on, but you can tell she’s getting excited.It’s coming down to the wire, and she’s a round up on you. If something doesn’t give, you’re going to lose. Your competitive spirit tells you...> You know her weakness. Play the other side of the field so Quatorze has to face the flashing party lights instead of the fence.> Go full defense. You’ve got a little more practice here and you can maybe capitalize on her mistake; even if you lose, you best make her work for the win.> Just give it your all. It’s a party game; whatever happens happens.
>>3643354>You know her weakness. Play the other side of the field so Quatorze has to face the flashing party lights instead of the fence.
>>3643354>> Just give it your all. It’s a party game; whatever happens happens.
>>3643354> Go full defense. You’ve got a little more practice here and you can maybe capitalize on her mistake; even if you lose, you best make her work for the win.
Rolled 3 (1d3)>>3643354>>3643369>>3643402
>>3643402The idea comes to you to exploit what might be your opponent’s weakness, but rather than do anything so underhanded you instead elect to shift strategy for a hard-fought battle. The sudden shift, needless to say, is a successful gambit. Kat takes a full round to adapt to your strategy, as your rocking back into a more defensive playstyle leaves her surprised when her initial offense isn’t as successful as the round previous, allowing you to tag and outmaneuver her for a point that borrows from her style. Tying it up and bringing it to a proper match point feels much better—but she’s much more patient the next round, despite clutching her phone in a competitive death grip, and making sure she’s positive as to what you’re going to do before she executes her strategy.You’re definitely not as strong a player as your opponent, but by the time the game comes to an end you hardly feel defeated.“Yes!” She yells, jumping and throwing up a fist in a victorious gesture.“Good game,” You grin. “Very close.”“I got really lucky in that second round. You almost had me, but I think I might have had the terrain advantage.” Kat confides. “This field isn’t perfectly even.”“Hey, that’s how it goes sometimes. Fair’s fair, still.” You shrug. “I’m supposed to get you a drink, right?”“How about we both go get a drink, Mr. Damon?” Quatorze asks, giving you a little bit of a shove as she makes her way back inside. “I’m probably gonna come back out after, but you can try again later if you still think you’ve got games in you—or maybe we could hustle the new arrivals.”“Sounds fun,” You respond. “I’ll think about it.”“C’mon, then.”The party’s really starting to get underway, you find, as you head back inside. Ryan is at the door with another of his friends—you can pick the guys in his circle out of a crowd as they all have the same roughneck look to them—helping to get the catering brought in. There’s a couple of people bringing silver trays to the rec-room tables. You can smell cumin, cilantro, and something spicy. Kat winces, you notice, as if the music and strobing lights have a weight to them, and hunches slightly low as she maneuvers through the crowd on her way to the kitchen. A few people have cleared some space in the foyer for an impromptu dance party, and you hear someone calling out loudly with hype appropriate to the electronic crescendo.Your gaze is drawn to the stairs as you make your way toward the kitchen. You catch a glimpse of Beatrice heading up, before she disappears around the corner, hand-in-hand with someone you don’t quite see. She’s got a bright smile on her face that’s familiar but wrong. You feel something uneasy in your stomach.> Make your way upstairs.> Head to the kitchen with Quatorze. Another drink or two will get your head in the right place.> Take a seat in the foyer, relax, and keep an eye on whatever’s going on.
>>3643661>Head to the kitchen with Quatorze. Another drink or two will get your head in the right place.
>>3643661> Head to the kitchen with Quatorze. Another drink or two will get your head in the right place.Yes, lets get our mind off the ex.
>>3643661> Make your way upstairsLet's see that and put the nail in the coffin, maybe we will get over her.
>>3643834>>3643932Head in the right place, you insist to yourself. That’s ‘off the ex’, for the time being. The last thing you want is to have her haunting you all the time—sort of like she has been for the past couple of weeks. The whole point of this party is to take your mind off things, so why not do exactly that? You make the resolution as you walk out of the crowded space and into the quieter kitchen, following not too far behind Quatorze.“I thought I lost you.” She says. It’s weird—you’re not sure how much the two would actually have in common, but being around her sort of reminds you of Jean. “So, what do you drink?”“Surprise me,” You respond, rather than reveal your lack of knowledge on the subject.“Alright.” The girl grins, reaching for a tall, translucent liquor bottle. “Gonna make you regret that.”You lean against the kitchen wall, closing your eyes for a moment and sighing. You feel a need to collect yourself after all you’ve been through. You’re altogether not sure how you feel, but the night is still young. You’ve met one person who seems thoroughly decent, and you’re hardly a drink in. Ryan calling you up out of the blue left you uncertain as to what to expect, but it’s gone alright thus far despite being a little bit out of your element.“You look stressed.” Kat asks. “The game wasn’t that hard, was i—”White light of a flashing visualizer screen outside the kitchen assaults your closed eyes, coming through in tandem with blasts of harsh noise that scream the electronic beat to an abrupt silence. You hear glass break in the foyer, as though someone dropped a bottle. The cacophony lasts mere moments, and not a soul speaks afterward. You look around, brow furrowing as quickly as you can open your eyes. Quatorze is staring blankly out into the lobby, while the other kitchen dwellers are in similar states, lingering with dull and glossy eyes. People on the foyer couches are sunken into the furniture as if dragged down by drunken stupor, while some on their feet have collapsed to the ground, frozen off-balance midway through their dance steps.>CONTINUED
>>3644880The DJ is tilted at an angle like a broken statue, held on his feet only by the way his hands brace him on the AR table. Peeking out of the kitchen, you catch motion—the piece that wasn’t there before. A girl is sitting cross-legged in the middle of the holographic visualizer, three-dimensional graph rising and falling with the highs and lows of an unheard beat, silenced under the white-noise of surround-sound speakers. Every part of her appearance, from her brightly-dyed hair to her painted lips—bruised and blushed as though she’s been drinking and fighting—to the asymmetrical designs on her attire and her tattered jeans, is a confused eye catch that leaves you unsure of where to look. You think you catch her flicker faintly, but dismiss it as a trick of the party lights as they wash over her.“Damon Peters.” The alt-girl says, gaze scanning the room for you. “We need to ṭạ̡͇͉͚̞l̫̜̫̦͓̝k͕̥̺.”> Reality check. Your drink must have been spiked; whatever this is isn’t happening.> Run for the front door.> Walk calmly into the lobby.> See if you can wake up Quatorze.
>>3644887> Reality check. Your drink must have been spiked; whatever this is isn’t happening.Pinch ourselves then> Walk calmly into the lobby.Who are you?
>>3645055Right. You're hallucinating. The only drink you've had tonight was the one Ryan had for you, and it took a long time to kick in if anything was really wrong with it. You're not sure why he'd target you with something like that, though, or how he managed to prepare it in advance of your arrival. You pinch yourself to no real effect but a little sting on the arm. Quatorze is still standing transfixed, though her brow furrows and nose twitches with her involuntary neuromuscular reaction to the oscillating lights she's stuck staring into. You find Ryan, frozen midway through walking the last of the catering tins in through the front door. If you're hallucinating, how can you tell what's real and what's false?“Count your fingers,” The girl on the table says, resting her hands on her knees. Her voice glitches and grates. “Look at your reflection. Reach to your hip for the sword you carry in your dreams. I'll be here waiting when you don't find it.”This is real. Cautiously, you make your way into the lobby. Whatever happened was able to immobilize all of these people so easily. You're not sure why you were spared, but understand intuitively that you're probably no better than them. The force that put them under could likely be turned against you without significantly increased effort. You make sure not to bump anyone too harshly or to knock anything over as you walk into the girl's view. There is an unusual depth to the geometric design on her top, and you feel something strange and intrusive creeping through your thoughts as you do your best to parse it. She looks back at you flatly, though with apparent interest.“Who are you?” You ask, keeping your distance. “Call me Eve, or anything you like. Forgive the ų̞̭̠ͅn̦o͓r̻͔͕͚̰͠th̛̬̼̤̜o͎͍͎ͅd̶̰̠̫̭̘̖ͅo͞x approach. I wanted to reach out to you sooner than later.” She says. “On account of our common interest.”“What common interest?” “Haven't we both been b̑͂ͪ̈́ͫ̀͢ẽ̿̽̇̌͝t͗́r͗̀̉̓̈́͒̿ắ̶̈̑̌̀ͫy̧̍e͋ͬ̂͊͜d̍͑ ̑͋͊̀̏̚̚͝b̡̄̎̓ͬ̎̂͒y̆̉ͭ͊̊ͯ̑ ͧ̏́́the same girl?”>”What are you?” >”How do you know Beatrice?” >”I haven't been betrayed by anyone.”>Other (Write-in.)
>>3645227>”I haven't been betrayed by anyone.”but>>”How do you know Beatrice?”
>>3645227>”I haven't been betrayed by anyone.”>”How do you know Beatrice?”
>>3645243>>3645248AgreedSo this is the lady from the "her love is revenge" part, I was curious.
>>3645248>>3645243“I haven't been betrayed by anyone.”“Maybe you say as much with your mouth, but your heart might say otherwise. You are a si̸mp͡lȩ ̛c̢r̀éa̶tur̕ę. I know you still feel love. I doubt you would in your current state you would refuse her back were she offering herself to you. Or perhaps, if you feel you haven't been betrayed yet, ỳ̵̤͔ò͚͖̜͔͚͚ͅu͔̫͉̣̺̯͇̺̙͡ ̧͉͈̻͍͈͔̖w̸͖̥̮̮̱i̛̹͈͓̖͓͍̳̤͎͞l̠͙͜l̫͚̤ͅ ̪̠̮̘͚͙̪́b͔̹͕̦͙͔͙e̡̘̠̹̣̟̕.” Eve says. ”That's a dangerous girl you've fallen in love with. She's going to put you and I both in peril: SoLAr, and eventually, the District.”“How do you know Beatrice?” You ask. “You seem to be acquainted.”“We are. You could say her uncle introduced us. Though we'd never ş̴̡͓̟̮̜̜̫̗̦̻̳̣͉̬̪h̢̦͇̭̤͖̤̳̠́͘͜a̸͓̫̬͚̤̩̳̰̘̙̹͕͠ͅk̺̮͔̼̭͉̬͇͓̮͉̩̣͘͢e̷͉̥̳͚͕̙̱̹͙̦ṉ̸̵̢͉͓̖̤͘ ̵̢̳̙̪͈̹̱͔̼h̷̡̻̠͍͙̥̥̜̟̻̬͈̭̦͕̱ͅa̵͎̙̳̬̣̜͠ń̴̯̙́͘͞d̴̴̨̙̗͙̟̻͇͎̠̝̫̤̠̠͈̤͍͈̼͞͞s̡̧̛̬̮͚̻̠͇̖̱̬̻͙̫̺͡ until just a few months ago.” The alt-girl jitters with the ominous pitch-shifting of her words, eyes glinting and flashing as they scan you for answers. “She has a good heart - or, had, at least. The girl came to me in a time of need hoping to make an a͡g̶ree̕ment. But she betrayed me to another like me. You would hardly believe how she's changed, and what she's capable of now, unless you were to see it for yourself. But if you and I can ù̕n̨̧dęŕ̡͞staņ͜d͢ ͡o͘n̡̛͝e͠ ̴́a̶̛n̨o̧th̴e̶͝͠r͠, you can act against her before it's too late.”> “You're saying Beatrice isn't herself?”> “What are you offering me?” > “What are you if there are others like you?”> “Is this just about protection? What do you really want?”
>>3645443>> “You're saying Beatrice isn't herself?”>> “What are you if there are others like you?”
>>3645451>>3645471>>3645478A dancer starts to topple next to you, and you reach out to stay them so they don't hit the ground too hard. Eve smirks, much to your chagrin. “You're saying that Beatrice isn't herself?” You ask. “She hasn't been herself for a while, Damon. Are you asking if she was acting under her own will when she decided to leave you and otḩer ch̴ildi̢sh̴ ̡t͜hi̢n͘g͘s̡ behind?” Eve leans forward, lending you an indecent perspective of her low-cut top. “Yes, she was. But that will has been corrupted, you could say. She isn’t possessed. The way her mind works has been fundamentally altered.”You're not sure if you buy that, but it's good enough for this very moment. Maybe there's a way to set things right - to get her back. Is that what you even want, though, and is it what she would want? Were something really wrong with her, it would be right of you to try and fix it; that much you can say with certainty.“There are others like you, you said.” You fire back a pointed look of concern. “What is that? What are you, exactly?” “If I told you what I really am,” Eve says, “You wouldn't believe me.”“Try me.”“I'm a d̘̝̰̰̰̮̠̖̹͇̯̺̜͜͡e̴̼̤̱̣̫̖̭͝m̵̡̹̗͕̝͇̟͚͙̖̥̣̹̺̗̕͠͠ͅͅǫ̛͈̯̠̯̳͎̪̟̺̩̳͈̮̙̠̰͓͢͡ǹ̴̛̰̰͙̝̳̝̟͚̣̱͇͎ͅ.”> “I believe you.”> “I don't believe you.”
>>3645577> “I believe you.”Not because we do, but becauss I fear how she would prove it.Also, if she altered Bee's personality, that means that the Bee we know is not here anymore.
>>3645577>“I don't believe you.”
>>3645577I believe you are something.I mean, look around us.
>>3645654Demon is not a very good guess tho
>>3645577>The way her mind works has been fundamentally altered.”By whom?
>>3645606>>3645654>>3647279“I… believe you.” You waver.Eve’s reaction is unexpected: she smiles, just so. “I know.”“Hold on. I believe you’re *something*, if only because I don’t have a suitable explanation for whatever you’ve just done here.” You concede. “I don’t have any reason to argue with you. I can’t imagine what you’d do to prove what you really are if I did.”“You’re wise, Damon. I was right to come to you.”You look askance at the flickering fiendess. Her eyes follow you; making eye contact is unsettling but more palatable than staring at that incongruous insignia on her top.“Beatrice…” Your gaze narrows.“Yes?” Eve tilts her head. “What of her?”“Are you saying she’s gone?” The last word is unsteady. You swallow subtly to punctuate the inquiry.“The truth of it is hard to explain, Damon, and harder to swallow. The long answer is that no ́one͝ you k͟n̸ow̴ is a͎̰̹n͙̗͇y̴̞͕̱̪o̘͘ṋ͈̣́e̩̹̙̻͔, ͇̹͙̤͝r̵e̺̩a̫̘̣̦̟̝l͚l̖̗̹̻̣y̵̳̬̺̥̺.” It sounds like her voice is filtered through radio static. “You could be reduced to chemical reactions and complex probabilistic distributions. There are ways to alter the concentrations, change the variables, and permute the initial conditions of the system.”“Can it be undone?” You ask.“I’m not sure you’d care if you didn’t feel bet͝r͡ay̛ed.” Eve scoffs, teeth catching her tongue. She plants her hands on the surface of the table noiselessly, rocking back on them. She pauses as if giving you time to think before speaking, seemingly unsatisfied when you fail to show her a reaction. “It wouldn’t be a simple process at this point, but it is possible.”“What did this to her, then?” You take another look around the room. The crowd is still stunned—a truly captive audience, though unaware of what’s occurring around them. “Was it you?”“No. I told you—there are others like me. I tried to help her; when she came to me, I offered her an a͡gr͟e͜ęm̴͝e̶ń͜t͝, and she accepted. But she was terrified—and in over her head. Beatrice doubled down, Damon. She wanted out, so she found another that could bail her out and made the problem worse in the process.” Eve says. You can’t pull much from her disposition. “Luckily for both of us, she couldn’t get rid of me for good. I don’t know what she’s been up to this last couple of months, but I’m sure she’s been busy. Have you spoken to her? Well—I suppose we’ll see.”> “Where do I factor into this? What is it that you’re offering?”> “I can see where this is going. I don’t want in.”> “These people aren’t hurt, are they? They don’t have anything to do with this.”> Other (Write-in.)
>>3647315>> “Where do I factor into this? What is it that you’re offering?”And what does she want with us?
>>3645577> “I believe you.”
>>3647315>"What do you want to do with her? I want her to be saved."
>>3647325>>3647340This.Man, was that rpg foreshadowing, Kelso took the deal and died, maybe we contributed for Beatrice panicking after making the deal with the demon, and it looked like such a trivial choice at the time.
>>3647315> “These people aren’t hurt, are they? They don’t have anything to do with this.”
>>3647325>>3647340>>3647415“What are you offering me?” You ask. “And what do you want to do with Beatrice? Because I—want her to be saved.”“I want r͎̖̘ḛ͚̖͙̜̜̟v̡͇̳̼̻̻̳͈̕͘e̸̗̕ǹ̩̩̦g͚̪͎e̵̺̻͈͓͍̺͎ͅ.” Eve’s glare is searing, but lightens after a moment. “But I’m open to negotiation. I can give you the power and the opportunities you need to see the situation from a different perspective, and the freedom to do with that power as you will. Once you do, it’ll be up to you to decide what to do. And I think I already know what that is.”“Why me?” You ask.“Yo̷u͢r ̷hear̛t is ͝i͘n͘ it, Damon. I already told you why.”Eve pushes off of the table and takes a light step toward you, looking like she might dissolve at any moment. You shy back a bit as she extends her hand.“Let’s shake on it, Damon. And follow after my words exactly.” The girl says. “Bear in mind that whether or not you accept, Beatrice and her new master won’t rest.”> Accept. Do as she says.> Decline. “I know how demonic pacts end. Whatever you are, you’re on your own.”> Other. (Write-in.)
>>3648093> Accept. Do as she says.Like Kelso, for his friends, let's see this other perspective and if we want to save or not
>>3648093> Accept. Do as she says.Fuck
>>3648140>>3648172>>3648232Eve’s hand feels like it was made to fit in yours.You can’t hear the words she speaks. Your ears are deaf to the litany, but you recite it back in time with her. With each phrase recited into pattern, you feel something change within you. Your mind is expanding. The words build new pathways that bridge impossible gaps. Volumes of text are forced to fit into the already full space. The sudden mutation catalyzes a cascade of changes, the full extent of which can’t possibly be known. What is she capable of—and what are you?>> [ NEW PACTS AVAILABLE ]>> [ You may only undertake one pact per broker at a time. ]>> [ The abilities you will be granted to complete a task have power proportional to the difficulty of that task and vary based on the broker’s domain. ]• Broker “Eve”, Difficulty: Easy> Details: Get one of your friends or acquaintances a date.> Time Limit: 14 days> Failure: Death.• Broker “Eve”, Difficulty: Medium> Details: Install a program made to the pact broker’s specifications on FD-SoLAr’s augmented reality laboratory computer system.> Time Limit: 14 days> Failure: Death.• Broker “Eve”, Difficulty: Hard> Details: Find and completely destroy the original written copy of Wilhelm Centauri’s memoir.> Time Limit: 14 days> Failure: Death.You glare at Eve, still locked hand in hand with her. “You didn’t tell me I’d die.”“It’s not so bad. The activities, I mean. Dy̵i̡nģ ͝i͠s ve͘r͜y͜ bad.” She says.“How’d Beatrice survive, then?” You ask.“Loophole. Best explained later.” Eve responds.“What do any of these things have to do with stopping—saving Beatrice?” You ask. “It seems like you’re just testing me.”“I am. I have to. The measures that can be used to fight Beatrice’s master can be used against me as well, and you think you know a lot but you have no̵ i̵dęa wh̴at͢ hap͞p̷en̨s a̴͙̤̯f͓͟t̤̮̝̪͈ḛ̬̳r̡̦̟͔̠̤͔ i̳ͅ'̴͈m̸͇̮̹̗̹ g̯̬͎͛̈́̔̽͗͗̑̀͘ó͙̫̩͖̺̠ͪ͛̈́̉̚̕n̨̜͓̰̦͙ͯ̀e͙͍̘̥͉̼̞̒ͯ͌ͮ̏̀.” Eve’s eyes flash, colored artifacts glossing over her irises. “Before I can trust you to seek that out I have to know that we can trust each other at all. I chose these tasks because they will also stop her from gaining too much social influence.”> CONTINUED
>>3648308“You seem to know a lot about influencing people.” You comment. “What kind of powers can you give me?”“I am all man’s superficiality,” Eve responds, growing louder in tone. “The lies you speak in the company of others and the face you show to the camera. The way you choose to appear—the way you communicate.”“Doesn’t sound very useful.” You leer.“Creativity is supp̛o̡s̸e͠d t̨o ͡b̕ȩ one of yo͡ur̶ gre̵ate͟st̢ st͠re̴ng͜t̶h͜s, Da̶mo͘n̨ P͢éters̛.”“And I’m supposed to trust you after a description like that?” You ask.“These are things that would have been best to consider before we shook.”> Ask something. (Write-in.)> Accept the easy task.> Accept the medium task.> Accept the hard task.> Die.
>>3648312>Accept the medium task>Ask about them loopholes
>>3648312> Accept the medium task.
>>3648327>>3648341>>3648575“This program,” You ask, as Eve’s hand finally slips from yours. “You know I’m not a software developer, right? What exactly is it you need done?”“It’s not complicated. The augmented reality technology is turned off and on automatically on a schedule that’s controlled by the facility’s computer system. The specifications of the program are a͢s̛ ̸follows: it should be undetectable by standard system software, able to change the schedule on which the laboratory operates, and accessible by remote. No form of front-end is required.” Eve says. “If you can’t do it, find someone that can and make them do it for you.”“Those loopholes,” You add. “It’s best I know them.”“They aren’t relevant to this task, Damon Peters.” Eve says. “I said best explained later.”> [ This task allots 6 points to select abilities. The same ability can be selected more than once, affording additional uses per time frame. Unused abilities at the end of a pact’s duration are not saved. ]• Media Masking (1 pt – 2 uses) : Think of a person you have observed for five or more minutes. You temporarily gain the ability to affect their idiosyncrasies well enough to perfectly imitate them via any text protocol. This doesn’t make you any better at hacking their accounts or somehow spoofing their devices, and doesn’t let you know any information they know.• Occupation Field (1 pt – 2/day) : Any form of displayed formal identification temporarily takes the form of whatever identification you claim it to be at the time it is displayed. Your student ID could pass for a corporate security team member’s.• Identity Crisis (1 pt – 1/day) : Take a photo of a target you can see directly. Their ability to directly affect their surroundings becomes inversely proportional to the overall awareness of entities able to observe them for the duration; the presence of non-sapient observers has a minor affect, while the presence of one or more cogent people is usually sufficient to utterly isolate them from reality for several minutes.• Roleplay (3 pts – 2 uses) : You temporarily gain a competent level in any technical skill as long as you are actively impersonating someone who has that skill. You will lose your altered proficiency if your masquerade is broken or if your competency is intently questioned by another individual.• Plausible Likeness (3 pts – 2 uses) : You temporarily appear to others as whoever fits their contextual expectations based on your location, the time, and other individuals present. (You are aware of the appearance you affect, allowing you to avoid actions that would break character.)> Consider ability choices. (Write-in.)> Ask further questions. (Write-in.)> Other. (Write-in.)
Also I think we're autosaged. I'll be going out of town tomorrow so I'm not sure if I'll be able to get this thread to a conclusion, little as I'd like to divide the prologue into two parts or start the story proper midway through a busy event. Should be here for a while longer now, so we'll see what happens, but I'm going to go ahead and archive to get it out of the way. I'll say it now, though: very much appreciate all of y'all for reading along. Hope you've been enjoying so far.
>>3648899• Roleplay (3 pts – 2 uses) : You temporarily gain a competent level in any technical skill as long as you are actively impersonating someone who has that skill. You will lose your altered proficiency if your masquerade is broken or if your competency is intently questioned by another individual.To write the program, we can roleplay as Nathaniel• Occupation Field (1 pt – 2/day) : Any form of displayed formal identification temporarily takes the form of whatever identification you claim it to be at the time it is displayed. Your student ID could pass for a corporate security team member’s.To have access to the place where we have to upload the program• Identity Crisis (1 pt – 1/day) : Take a photo of a target you can see directly. Their ability to directly affect their surroundings becomes inversely proportional to the overall awareness of entities able to observe them for the duration; the presence of non-sapient observers has a minor affect, while the presence of one or more cogent people is usually sufficient to utterly isolate them from reality for several minutes.To incapacitate someone that might see us• Media Masking (1 pt – 2 uses) : Think of a person you have observed for five or more minutes. You temporarily gain the ability to affect their idiosyncrasies well enough to perfectly imitate them via any text protocol. This doesn’t make you any better at hacking their accounts or somehow spoofing their devices, and doesn’t let you know any information they know.To try and get the passwords needed by pretending to be a system admin or something.If it doesn't work we can try roleplaying as a hacker to try and find those passwords ourselves too Questions:What mission you asked of Beatrice that made her back out of a deal with you?Who is she dealing with now and what is he asking of her?Why is it important that we stop them?
>>3648934 I really enjoyed your writing so far and I plan on keep playing as long as you do, if you are stepping away please let us know by twitter or in thread when you are coming back so you may have your players around when you do
>>3648899Occupation field x2Identity crisisRoleplay
>>3648965>>3649087“So this is it.” You ask.“You were expecting fanfare? I promise: the power I’ve awakened you to will not disappoint.” Eve smiles. It’s like Ryan said: it’s just a matter of pointing it in the right direction.“And Beatrice can do things just like this, I guess? Who is she dealing with now? What are they asking of her—and why is it so important for us to stop them?” You flex your fingers. You feel unusual, but can’t say why for sure.Eve nods. “I don’t have a reliable way of finding out what master she serves directly; it would be up to you to somehow glean that information. Her motives, as of now, are inscrutable. She’s hidden most of her actions thus far, but a number of other individuals at SoLAr are presently under her direct control or have otherwise been converted to her allegiance. It’s important to me because my continued existence is in danger. And if you really believe she no longer cares about you and your friends—so is yours.”“You said she was threatening the District as well.” You look askance at the alt-girl.“My ilk—we have stakes in a lot of things.” She folds her arms. “Proliferation of the knowledge that these powers exist into the public eye could have dire ramifications for civilization as a whole.”“And you sought me out of your own accord despite this because…” You quirk a brow.Eve leers at you.“…my heart is in it.”Eve nods. “You’re starting to understand.”“So what did you ask of her that made her break the deal with you?” You ask.“She was frightened by much more than what I asked of her,” Eve says. “But I’ll tell you as soon as our pact is complete. This I swear.”The girl’s form flickers. “Fourteen days,” She says, vanishing as the lights in the room and the white noise die in tandem. “Use your gifts well.”The foyer is dark, illuminated only by the lights from the kitchen and coming in through the rec room from the glass doors to the backyard. No one seems to be fully conscious yet, but there’s some groaning from the bodies around you. It doesn’t seem like anyone is hurt too bad, though you might have some concerns.> Check on Ryan.> Check on Quatorze.> Check out the situation upstairs.> Get out before people start waking up.
>>3649407>Check on Quatorze.
>>3649407> Check out the situation upstairs.Run upstairs and check on Beatrice, see if she was affected by this thing too, we better start gathering info
>>3649407> Check out the situation upstairs.
>>3649407> Check on Quatorze.
>>3649407>> Check out the situation upstairs.