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Previous Thread >>3887777Archived Threads: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Magical%20Contractor%20Quest
Pastebin for Assorted Things and Past Summaries (no new one this time): https://pastebin.com/u/JuubeyQM
>I’m a very slow writer. Please bear with me. I will update when I can.
I apologize for the delay. It turns out my little stomach bug didn't pass quickly as it was full blown food poisoning. I've been mostly out of commission for the better part of a week. I'm still subsisting on a diet of plain toast, bananas, water and pedialyte, but at least I can write without frequent unpleasant interruptions. Please accept a cute Alice to make up for your inconvenience.[/spoilers]

You slow down your pace to let Jeanette follow along with the articles and give her input on the noted advice. Sometimes it's detached and impersonal—how she, as professional, would intervene in the case of a hypothetical child—other times, she's dismissive and sarcastic. You notice that she seems to act that way when the advice is about listening to a loved one's feelings or on seeking therapy. Also, you can feel her legs tense up whenever you broach that subject. You might be new at this, but you can tell she's...what was the term they used again…deflecting. You force yourself to continue on. The advice says not to confront her in an accusatory way. She needs to want to talk about her emotions on her own, but you know you can steer the conversation that way. In some ways it's like getting a contract out of a reluctant human.

As you switch over to a linked article you finally address the woman in your most charming yet innocent voice. "Jen what's so bad about therapy? It's just talking like we did last night, right? I really don't understand; people like to be understood by others, and I felt better when I opened up to you and Alice about my past. It's the same for you, right?"

"Um, well it can be just talking like we did last night, except you have to talk. I mean they say you don’t have to but they find ways of making you talk…”

“Like torture? Titania…”

She giggles before you can continue with your thought and quickly corrects you. “No, silly, like open ended questions, or stuff that might seem like small talk but isn’t”

“I see” you state as you shrug. “…but I felt compelled to tell you about my past after I realized that you didn’t grasp the gravity of a contract. I felt terrible and…kind of vulnerable at first, but later it wasn’t so bad. I guess you could call it relief that you understood my actions and didn’t hate me for them. The fact that my hand was forced doesn’t detract from that relief. Emotions are so strange; I don’t know if I’m making much sense.”
>Screwed up my spoiler tag, but I don't want to delete the opening post. The show must go on.

“I understand, Octavian, that’s how it’s supposed to work, but it never felt that way for me. I don’t know…I didn’t like being put on the spot like that. Like, everything was out of my control and it just made all the bad feelings worse. It sounds really dumb out loud.”

“Jen, I don’t think it’s dumb…” You pause after that and allow the silence to permeate the room before you change the topic of conversation. “I forced Alonso to talk last night. Was that the wrong thing to do?”

“No” she answers without hesitation. “He’s thinking about eating people. That’s obviously a problem. He’s dangerous to other people if Alice doesn’t keep a tight leash on him…”

“I still forced him to get help. How is that different from therapy?”

“Octavian, I think you actually care. It’s not a just a job to you…”

“I’m still a bit confused. How does that change anything; I mean you care about kids and you were a teacher? Couldn’t a therapist…”

“Octavian, I was just another patient; another number. They were paid to care by the hour. And I didn’t want their pity. Pity didn’t ease the pain and it couldn’t bring Mom back. They couldn’t do anything about it and neither could I. At the end of the day, all the tears in the world couldn’t fix the mess I made. It was all useless.” She slams a fist down on the table as if to emphasize her point.

You give her some time to speak before you take over the conversation. “You lost control of your life, or more like you didn’t have any control in the first place. Yet for some reason, you still feel the need to blame and hurt yourself. Control and punishment…that’s why you do it.” You drop the inquisitive tone in your voice for a more matter of fact one. “Jen, please don’t get mad at me, but I think you just answered a few questions I had about you. I think I understand you better…”

“I knew you weren’t that naïve.” She states harshly. “You were just acting like…”

“A therapist, I know. But I want you to know that I genuinely care and you’re not just another patient to me. I also know I can’t replace your mother’s love, but you have my love, all the same.” You grab at Jeanette’s left hand before she can move it out your reach and plant a gentle kiss on the back of it. “That was a dirty trick, Jen, but I want to help you move past all this. Part of that was figuring out why you feel the need to starve yourself…I think I got the jist of things, but if you want to fill in the blanks I’m always here to listen.”

“You can be a little shit, Octavian, you know that?...But you’ve already got me talking, so I might as well keep going. What do you want to know?”

She caught you a little flatfooted. “Um…how did it start?”
“Dancing and body image—I think you’ve read enough to figure that out, but the specifics…My mom got me into ballet young. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but I’m getting off track. Even back then I was bigger than the other girls—tall and awkward—so naturally, I really wasn’t that good at it. But I knew my mom was a real deal ballerina and I was her daughter. I wanted to be just like her, so I pushed myself to measure up. I practiced harder than the others; I gave it everything I had. I forced myself to be successful, but I couldn’t control the fact that I was growing up. I hit puberty and I got even taller and busty too. I know a lot of girls would kill to wind up like that, I saw the jealous looks they gave me, but that’s not what I wanted. I wanted to be smaller—light and thin—like the European greats; just like my Mom. So, I started dieting to lose a few pounds here and there, from there that turned into skipping meals, then purging when my Mom started to forcing me to eat. She noticed I kept losing weight and she confronted me. I don’t know how I thought I could hide it from her; obviously, she would have met one or two girls with the same problem during her training. I blew up and we had a big argument. That’s what we were arguing about before her Fourth of July party. Mom grounded me, but she begged me to come out of my room and go down to her party. She knew she was dying and she wanted to spend time with me. I decided to sneak out and get myself hurt. You know where things went from there.”

“Jen, I don’t know what to say…” You want to offer her pity, but you don’t want to make her feel any worse.

Jen wraps her arms around you and squeezes you to her abdomen. “Neither do I…I sill kept up my problem. I couldn’t dance and I couldn’t do a lot of things, but I could control my body; I could deny myself. And it was a good way to punish myself for all the things I did in the past and all the little things I fucked up and the big ones like my marriage. That’s how I got my eating disorder…Because I’m a stupid bitch…”

STOP IT! Please, Jen, stop. You’re not any of those things. You made mistakes, but there’s no reason to keep beating yourself up. I don’t want you to feel like this and neither does Alice. We need you and we love you.”

You can feel each breath she takes as her chest hammers its way into your back. “Octavian, I’m scared…I’ve messed up everything else in my life and the minute I was ready to give up, I got a second chance. I scared I’m going to mess this up…”

“You won’t…”
“You don’t know me, Octavian. I hurt people. My Mom and Dad…Dan—He might have cheated on me, but that was my fault. I ruined our marriage.”

“Jen it not your…”
“Sex or the lack there of, was only part of it. I-I’ve got a temper, you know? Work got me stressed out and aggravated. That only got worse when I would come down off my pills and the pain came back. I got really mean with Dan. I really was a bitch. I’d get angry over stupid things; I’d yell and scream. Sometimes I would hit him. I wonder why he didn’t shoot me or put a pillow over my face when I was asleep. I pushed him to do what he did. I contributed to the divorce…that’s why I didn’t put him through the wringer. I insisted everything split up evenly and I didn’t want alimony.”

“Okay” is all you can manage to say. “Yeah” Jeanette offers in reply.

“Jen, look I’ve done some pretty awful things, but I don’t want to keep dwelling on my past. I want move forward so I can make up for that stuff. I want you to move forward with me. You don’t have to be the same person and in a lot of ways you’re not that Jeanette anymore…So stop defining yourself by your past and start looking to your future. You’re Alice’s mom and my girlfriend…I hope.”
You get a laugh out her. That’s a good sign. “Jen, you only hurt the people that love you when you hurt yourself.”

“I know, Octavian, and I really do want to change…”

You nod and finish Jeanette’s sentence for her“…But It’s not easy. That’s okay we’ll be patient with you.”

“Thanks. You know I actually, feel a little better—not quite as anxious. You’re uh, not a half-bad shrink, honey. Maybe you should take some classes. You could set up a nice little practice and I could stay home and teach the kids…listen to me daydreaming like a schoolgirl. You know, I remember reading in one my college textbooks that childhood trauma stunts your emotional development. It freezes you in place. I hated dealing with my co-workers. I have trouble relating to people my own age, but I could get my students as if they were my peers. In a lot of ways I’m just a really big kid. Part of me is still a teenager. Maybe, that’s why I was able to contract.

“Maybe” you say with a smile. “I’ve come up with stranger theories.” You notice the morning light starting to pierce its way between the blinds. “Do you want to wake Alice up and have some mother daughter bonding time, because I want to talk to Sam about my dreams last night?”

“Still hung up on those crazy things…But, yeah, I’d like that…You really trust me alone with her?”

“Yes, Jen, I do.” She bursts out laughing right when you answer.

“Be careful saying things like that, you might give a girl the wrong idea…oh and when you’re talking to Sam tell him to go ahead fix up that other gun. I’m pretty sure, in the eyes of the law, we’ve kidnapped Alice. I might as well throw in a weapons charge while I’m at it…” She places you on the table and gives you a quick peck on lips. “…See ya later, honey”
You repeat the same thing back to her and wave as she walks out of the kitchen. That went better than you could have expected. Hopefully, Jen’s had a breakthrough and she takes some of your advice to heart—now, to find a breakthrough of your own in regards to those strange dreams. You jump down from the table and march your way into the living room to find a half-asleep Sam. You hop up onto the coffee table and make that you land with quite the thud. The old man is startled awake.

"Hello Sam, how are you with interpreting dreams?" You immediately shout out.

"Buh...Oct-Octavian. Dreams. I wasn’t dreaming. I just closed my eyes for a little bit.”

“No, uh, I was dreaming…”

“Wait, you had a dream, Octavian…I didn’t know spirits dreamt. I thought you just went home to your world or something like that.”

“I’ve never had one before, but this seemed peculiar from my limited understanding. As a shaman, could you help me interpret it?”

“I’ll take a stab at it.”

“Well it started off with me as the pied piper—this was the version of the tale were he drown the kids, just like the rats—except he-I drown with them. At the bottom of the river there was this naked woman. Looked like a corpse you know. I can’t really remember much about her…” A blatant lie, but maybe mentioning her resemblance to Jeanette might be too telling. You also left out your seemingly dead contractees and the evil Alice. “…She grabbed me and held me down so I couldn’t get away…Then I woke up at the bottom of a void. It was a lake, but not of water—it was full of a void like substance. When I swam to the top I noticed I was me again. The lake was surrounded by a dying forest the pine trees were all yellow and their bark was falling off. There was some sort of structure in the distance, like a crooked spire, but it was pretty foggy I couldn’t make it out exactly. I felt oddly calm and pretty serene for being lost in the middle of an unknown place. I looked up at the stars and I saw the constellation Taurus and I swear I saw more than one copy of the moon. I couldn’t tell much from that, so I went off into the forest in search of that structure…”

“The first part might just be a bad dream, maybe something upset you. As for the second part, are you sure you didn’t go off to the land of spirits?”
“I don’t know. I don’t remember coming from any place before I was, uh, born for lack of a better term. I just woke up one day and I was in Scotland. But there’s more to it than that. So, I walked in to the forest. I sought out that structure in hopes that it might point me back home. The fog got even worse. I think I got lost. I wound up in a different place. The trees looked healthy and there was a bog. I saw a bunch of men kill a boy and I heard a voice tell me that I should understand what they were saying. It told me I just saw a sacrifice but I blacked out before I heard what the god’s name was. Then, I woke up in a different body like in the first dream. I was more of a monster than a man this time. I was underwater inside of a castle. And before you say it, yes, I know that doesn’t make much sense. I slaughtered a bunch of knights, some of them were people, but I think the smaller ones were fairies. Then a strange woman in white showed up and we got in fight. I think she might have been the same woman I saw in the first dream. We both killed each other. She ran me through with a sword I seemed really enamored with and I choked her out with some sort of spell…” You don’t feel like sharing that being’s twisted thoughts or that you woke up to a re-run of all your life’s misdeeds. “Then I woke up.”

“That’s quite a lot to ponder, Octavian, and it’s awfully disjointed. It sounds like the vision quests practiced among other tribes. Were you in some altered state of consciousness?”

“Jeanette thinks I got drunk off of ice cream because of something she read out of that book Jonathan was hung up on.”

“There’s a faint magic coming off that volume. He stole it from the university library while he was visiting his mother. I don’t know much more about it than that. But you were in an altered state. Tell me the woman she was a noble, a queen or a princess, yes?”

“She was dressed like it She had a little crown thing-y…a circlet. She was barefoot though…”

“And pregnant?”

“No, no…but she did mention having a son. The monster killed him earlier.”

“Well the death of children is the common denominator…” Great, not exactly what you wanted to hear. You don’t let your face betray your emotions. “Maybe it is a vision quest. Maybe you’re called to save a child or children from some great peril or you are to set right some ancient wrong involving children. It could be more than that. We were all children once; you might have a grand destination, Octavian.”

“It might be a little premature to start making me out for some kind of savior. I don’t know if I have that in me.”

“You saved Alice and you empower humans to fend off evil. I think you’re selling yourself short, Octavian.”
“It could just be a bunch of drunken hogwash…” You cease talking as another idea hits you. At times those “dreams” seemed more like memories. And if they weren’t yours…or Alice’s, you had to be reading the mind of something or some things. What it you reached out with your powers in a drunken stupor and touched the mind of some distant being. It could…

“Octavian? Did you just doze off yourself?”

“No” you quickly interject.

“Your talk about forests reminded me of something…a couple things. It something my people speak of in hushed tones. Lots of people close to the land notice this same sort of phenomenon. You see there are dark places on this Earth. Certain places in the forest that feel alien as the surface of mars—just plain wrong. Dead places—I mean that in a both a literal and figurative sense. There’s an absence of life there and an overwhelming feeling of dread. We were told evil spirits lurk there. I’ve been to those places, I felt the hairs stand up on the back of my neck, I felt like I was being watched, but…I never saw anything. Your dream of a dead forest might have something to do with that. Then there’s another thing, back in the Eighties I heard about something that happened on the edge of the reservation. People were complaining about screams and other racket coming from the woods in the middle of the night. Then sigils and pentagrams made out twigs started turning up. A couple of officers went to check things out. They stumbled upon a cult doing something with a naked woman. That’s where the events get murky. The officers swore some of the guys in robes pulled out automatic rifles and started to put down suppressive fire on their position until team robes got out of dodge. The tribal police called in the Feds ‘caue this sounded like something big. Get this, according to the G-men, the cult was a bunch of board teenagers getting their jollies off in the woods and a bunch of yokels happened to feel like going for some target practice on reservation land…all at the same time…in the dead of the night…exactly in the same place.”

“That doesn’t make any sense.”

“No it doesn’t. It was a cover up if you ask me. Shell casings were recovered from the scene, but the happened to get lost the minute the feds stepped in. There’s one other detail that got left out the official report. The cultists did a good job of hiding their faces, but robes didn’t cover everything up—like their hands —and it happened to be a full moon that night, so there was plenty of light. It was defiantly a group of white guys, on the older side. The girl was one of us, a native; she didn’t act like she was having a good time.”

“Sam, how do you know all this?”

“I read the case files and I asked the responding officers. I thought the girl might be Nancy, so I started turning over some rocks. Very quickly I was told to drop the matter in no uncertain terms.”
“You think they might be related to, uh…” you hush your voice to a whisper. “…Alice’s folks?”

“These people weren’t crazy Christians. It sounded more like some kind of satanic shit. I you would have noticed if that Flounder fellow started sacrificing people in the middle of his service.”

“No, but Alice did talk about seeing new farm workers come in from time to time…and how silly they acted before they ‘left’. She mentioned that she always saw new faces.”

“High turnover, and silly—like being stoned out your mind.”

“That could be a possibility…”You can hear a commotion coming from down the hall. “…I think we should continue this later.” Sam nods. It’s not a moment too soon as Alice comes running down the hallway and almost tackles you with a hug.

“Good morning, Octavian, Mother Jenny says she wants to learn how to cook and she says she wants you to help out. I know you remember everything I told you?”

Bloody hell, she’s talking about stuff she told you about while you were half out of it. “Of course I do, Sweet Pea, but you should remind us just in case. Jenny’s a professional lady, who sacrificed that sort of stuff for her important job, and I don’t eat and have a really important job, so we both don’t have much real world experience.” Sam seems to be enjoying himself at your expense.

“Well I experienced, so this will definitely go well…” Alice shouts excitedly. You cringe a little at her choice of words.

Did it? Roll 1d20+2 (for Alice’s help and Sam’s…he obviously doesn’t want you to burn down his kitchen) to find out. Crits are on.
Afterwards what do you want to get up to?
>You made a promise to help Alonso first thing in the morning; you have Sam, Alice, and you’re an expert in modifying souls. What more do you need?

>Jeanette could use that target practice. Alice could use some lesions in firearms safety from a more trustworthy source that a nutty cult (Uh, well possibly, she kind of knows what she’s doing), and you could enchant that Glock for Jeanette.

>You should practice with your powers. You have a couple ideas on where you could start—long distance communication or if you could tune out the haze caused by Alice’s magical aura.

>You’re not going to have as good of place to practice like this in a big city, or a suburb. Have the girls get some practice in while they still can.

>Maybe the news has more insight into that hospital attack.
Cough, cough…or not. Something, something cover-up. Bonus option is still on the table. Switch to Shirley’s POV and get a front row seat to chaos.

>Write in/something else/some logical combination of options.

Also let me know if I should re-post the op without all the unnecessary spoiler text, just in case its a pita on mobile or something.
Rolled 15 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>You should practice with your powers. You have a couple ideas on where you could start—long distance communication or if you could tune out the haze caused by Alice’s magical aura.
Let's start with tuning out the haze.
I'd repost the op text just to be safe.
Rolled 13 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

Supporting >>3927915.
The best roll is currently a 17 (Not bad!)
>but I need at least one more to see if someone causes a disaster at the last minute(crit fail) or if one of our intrepid heroes/heroines is a chef in the making(higher roll)

>Do you guys want to roll again for Octavian's powers or should I just keep the highest roll from this last set?

I'm feeling pretty great for the first time since I got sick. I even had jam on my toast this morning like a rebel. I still need to get to that Flounder POV as I know the hospital thing came out of nowhere and It adds a little more context to the first part of his phone call last thread.
>Here's the OP not boomered up by yours truly. (Also I just noticed this is the second OP with quads. I should buy a lotto ticket or something):


You slow down your pace to let Jeanette follow along with the articles and give her input on the noted advice. Sometimes it's detached and impersonal—how she, as professional, would intervene in the case of a hypothetical child—other times, she's dismissive and sarcastic. You notice that she seems to act that way when the advice is about listening to a loved one's feelings or on seeking therapy. Also, you can feel her legs tense up whenever you broach that subject. You might be new at this, but you can tell she's...what was the term they used again…deflecting. You force yourself to continue on. The advice says not to confront her in an accusatory way. She needs to want to talk about her emotions on her own, but you know you can steer the conversation that way. In some ways it's like getting a contract out of a reluctant human.

As you switch over to a linked article you finally address the woman in your most charming yet innocent voice. "Jen what's so bad about therapy? It's just talking like we did last night, right? I really don't understand; people like to be understood by others, and I felt better when I opened up to you and Alice about my past. It's the same for you, right?"

"Um, well it can be just talking like we did last night, except you have to talk. I mean they say you don’t have to but they find ways of making you talk…”

“Like torture? Titania…”

She giggles before you can continue with your thought and quickly corrects you. “No, silly, like open ended questions, or stuff that might seem like small talk but isn’t”

“I see” you state as you shrug. “…but I felt compelled to tell you about my past after I realized that you didn’t grasp the gravity of a contract. I felt terrible and…kind of vulnerable at first, but later it wasn’t so bad. I guess you could call it relief that you understood my actions and didn’t hate me for them. The fact that my hand was forced doesn’t detract from that relief. Emotions are so strange; I don’t know if I’m making much sense.”
Rolled 11 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>Roll Again
Rolled 2 (1d2)

>I probably should have had you roll 2d20 to start with and manually added the modifier, but not all the options required dice.
>One hour ago at a certain cult compound. A man know as Flounder, to some, is in a hurry.

You hadn’t heard from your men or your contacts for the rest of the evening. It was a curt phone call from the local sheriff that roused you from your sleep and sent you rushing half dressed to your office and the television within. He that there had been some sort of an emergency overnight and he could no longer lend you his officers. The governor’s emergency declaration trumped your bribes. Whatever happened was enough to frighten the sheriff enough that you lost your “grip” over his emotions. After double checking the lock on the door, you flip the old monitor off the live feed from the various cameras in the tunnels running below this place and in lab and on to the local news.

You can only manage to stomach a few short moments of the footage that greets you before you send the clutter on your desk flying and chuck the monitor across the room in anger. Things have gone from bad to worse in the span of a few hours. First the girl disappears into thin air. Then Joseph and Shirley botch your simple orders and make enough of a mess to get the police involved. Finally, the clean-up operation resulted in some sort of conflagration that reduced a hospital to rubble. To make matters worse this reported “attack” seems to be garnering national media attention. Your heart sinks. You’re the weak link in all of these events. Your people lost the girl and couldn’t find her. Your people felt the need to shoot at cops. Joseph wasn’t enough of a man to finish the job and he left Shirley as a witness. Sure she couldn’t finger any of the higher ups but she saw things. It was probably enough to shut down a number of fronts, implicate some prominent individuals along with yourself, and complicate shipping product across the Midwest. Why did you have to send her to Denver that one time? No doubt the masters will mark you for termination regardless of your contributions to the great king’s cause or your mortal benefactors.

You pull a different phone from the top draw of your desk; dialing a memorized number, before placing it on speaker and dropping it impotently on the desk.

“Steven?” A familiar voice answers.

“Not now, is this line secure?” You ask abruptly.
“I assume you saw the news…Yes it is.”

“Why in the ever living fuck did you let that dim-wit coronel blow up a A FUCKING HOSPITAL?” You try to regain control of yourself after the outburst. You know some of your flock might be up early. “Even he should know that’s a bad idea.”

“He didn’t do jack-shit beyond give go ahead to commence the mission. I ordered the blast. My bird dropped the bombs.”


“Steven calm down. I had to shoot a couple of people and I just crashed a multi-million dollar defense asset into Lake Superior. I’m having a bad night too…Look, an explosion was the only option left on the table. Things got beyond fucked in there. All of your people got killed along with all but one of the SF guys and he was a total write off. Poor bastard managed exfiltrate the area down one arm and you should have seen what was left of his face. Shame we had to retire him permanently.

You say the only word that comes to mind. “How?”

“That’s a good question. I mean I know logistics and oversight is my area of expertise, but we had to fast track the Op and I have bosses that aren’t in on the game. I couldn’t score a satellite feed on such short notice. The best I could do was get a Reaper and it’s operator for a couple hour long ‘training mission’. Not to mention we couldn’t wire up the men with the cover story we were using. I only heard the comms, saw the IR footage from the drone, and listen to the half delirious ravings from the only survivor. It’s a pretty confusing picture…”

“Explain” you say exasperatedly.

“We staged everything okay; there weren’t any hiccups there. The Coronel and I didn’t hear any complaints from the operators, so he ordered them in.”

“Did one of the cops call for back up or someone get a call out before cell service went down?” You wonder out loud.

“No, nothing like that. Actually, that leads into the part where things started going off script. There were no cops or security on the first floor. The security cameras where already down. It was like someone did our job for us…because they did. The operators found their targets in one of the back rooms, dead. Somebody turned five state troopers and two rent-a-cops into Swiss cheese.”

“How did they manage that without kicking up a racket?”
“It looks like whoever did it lured everybody there into an ambush. There was no sign of a struggle anywhere else on the first floor and the boys found coffee and doughnuts at the scene. From what I heard it looked like they all went down at once and there was blood and guts all over the place. But here’s the weird part, somebody massacred our targets, but they didn’t use a gun…No shell casings, no stray bullet holes, and one of the operators swore the wounds looked wrong for gunshots—but almost like the sort of gashes broadhead arrows make.”

“So a bunch of archers took out the onsite security, a team of decorated operators, and ten of my men?”

“No, we didn’t find any archers or a single arrow. I was spooked the minute the boys stumbled on the bodies. I wanted to call off the mission, but those were the Coronel had the final say over his troops. He decided to press forward, so I called your people in to do their part. They shot up the lobby; made it look nice and messy—just like we agreed. Then they made a bee line for the elevators while the operators held the stairways and exits. Then everything went FUBAR. Something came up from the morgue and engaged the operators on the first floor. The survivor kept comparing it to some sort of video game character—a Mister X. I’m a bit old for that kind of shit, so I looked it up—some sort of large humanoid with oversized claws. Whatever it was, I couldn’t get it on IR and it shrugged off rifle fire and grenades. To make matters worse your people came on the comms looking for back up. Apparently, they were taking small arms fire from one or multiple contacts…”

“At least tell me they got to Shirley.”

“The room was empty and I’m pretty sure I heard someone screaming Shirley is shooting at us, but there was a lot of conflicting information coming from your people. At first they said the contact was a teenage girl with a pistol in some sort of black ball-gown. Then, I heard the bit about Shirley. Then someone else said Shirley fucking disappeared. Then another speaker said a little kid shot him in the back and he didn’t wanna die. Then came the report of multiple shooters. It was total chaos up there, so I used the drone to get a better look. Your people had fallen back to the nurses’ station. They were all bunched up like they engaging multiple targets from different angles, but I only saw one hostile on IR—it looked the most like the teen, with two pistols this time, and she was attacking them directly across from the station. Then guys on the flanks started to drop like they got hit too, even though there was a solid looking wall between them and her position.”

An idea hits you. “Do you think it could have been a single attacker staging the whole event? I couldn’t pull it off, but I don’t think we could rule out the possibility of a rogue mage.”
“A psy attack? I mean that would explain the jumbled and nonsensical information, but our people weren’t shooting themselves and the survivor said he got his wounds from the thing on the first floor. He didn’t look like he got mauled by a human that’s for sure.”

“And it still doesn’t explain how the cops died…I take it our forces continued to lose the battle.”

“Yeah, The SF boys were dropping like flies on the first floor, but the girl wiped out your people first. She went for the elevator, so I had the drone fly as low as possible. Someone had to watch the exits. The survivor says he saw the girl enter into the warzone in the lobby before he split in one of the vans. Um Steve, you might want to be seated for this next part.”

You take a deep breath and say “Lay it on me.”

“He says the girl tried to talk to the monster. She was trying to reason with it and…he said she called it Joseph.”

“Do you have any way to confirm his story?”

“Sadly, no and he’s no longer able to talk to you.”

“Great, just great!”

“Yeah caught the girl on IR finishing off the operators then she started firing on something else. At that point the Coronel flipped out and stormed out of the room. I was the only one with an asset left in the field. I had to cover everyone’s asses, so I ordered the drone operator to get some elevation and bomb the hospital once he got enough altitude. He started freaking out too, of all the times for him to grow a conscious over civilian casualties, so I put a gun to head. Sadly I’m not charming like you, Steve.”

“So that’s that?”

“Of course not. The second van sped off before the drone was out the blast radius. The pilot was having some stress related issues and he dropped the first Paveway on the parking lot. Steve, I only had one other bomb to play with and I couldn’t tell if a friendly or a hostile was in the second van. So I made a judgment call.”

“I probably would have made the same choice. We’re screwed aren’t we?”

“Slightly, the dis-info people and the Mockingbird plants have their work cut out for them. So far they’re keeping the official details vague—just a shooting a subsequent explosion. I think they’ve went with handling it just like they did with the arms deal that went bad over in Vegas a couple of years ago. They’ll over-saturate the coverage, have the political people screech about terror or guns for a week or two, and have everyone chase their tails till they forget about it. Right now they’re debate is between pinning it on camel-jockeys or some sort of Christian group up in arms about abortions or the coming doomsday.”

“I hope it’s the former. The latter is getting way too close to my cover.”

“We all are called to make sacrifices…but as your friend, Steve…you might want to consider shutting things down and going on the run.”
“The masters are pissed…What about my girl? She’s my insurance policy. If I can use her to reincarnate our true master we can forget about the old men and their games. Even if that goes wrong, there are a number of anomalies about her. We can create some weapon from her.”

“Steven, I handle logistics for a lot of people—including some of those rivals you’re paranoid about. I asked around. No one has your girl—at least no one among the Covenant proper…” You can feel the knot tightening in your stomach. ”…And I know you got some promising test results, but how do you know she’s the right girl. We have a lot of girls…”

“Have you really lost faith in me after all I’ve achieved?”

“I’m not the person you have to convince…the masters were growing impatient before all of this. I’ve heard rumors that they are squabbling again. This mess we’ve got caught up in will only make everything worse…We could all wind up on the chopping block. Once again, if I were you, I would consider running as far and as fast as you can…Anyway I’ve got to work on the on the other half of this cover up. My mundane bosses are going to have a lot of pointed questions about the sudden loss of assets and personnel. If I don’t pick up in the future, one set of masters or the other got to me…Good luck on your end, Steven.”

“You too” You make out before the line goes dead.
>We have one vote to roll again for Octavian's powers(which is more than the zero opposed) So go ahead and roll 1d20 for the attempt or yell at me to use the other roll.
Rolled 9 (1d20)

Rolled 14 (1d20)

Rolled 7 (1d20)

Rolled 20 (1d20)

>I've probably should have closed the vote earlier as I've been working on the update yesterday evening(before I took a nap in my office chair and woke up about five minutes ago).

>In the case of the second roll for dealing with Alice's magical haze--I can't let >>3932896's 20 go to waste and it actually make's a lot of sense in the context of the story. Octavian's had this particular problem for 22-23 years(since he first met Titania) with no luck in solving it and this particular phenomenon played a big role in how Titania was able to kidnap/imprison him successfully. Even regaining a fraction of his magical perception abilities with Alice close by is something of a massive breakthrough.

Anyway I'm up so I'll go back to writing.
good to know. take care of yourself!

You haven't put this force into your powers in decades. The last time you smacked something this hard it was a particularly stupid neighborhood dog, that took you for the animal you resembled. It resulted in a good practice opportunity for little Titania's more non-standard powers. She managed to mostly realign the mutt's jaw and correct the divot near its eye socket, but she had little luck repairing the damage you inflicted upon its feeble brain. It was still alive after both of your efforts—well kind of—it was a bit "vacant" to put it mildly. Titania was a little disheartened by that turn of events, but thankfully, was happy she was somewhat able to help the "poor doggie", that you saw fit to put her up to the task, and she didn't press you too much about the "car accident" that caused the damage. Afterwards, she went back to Jessica's, where you found in the first place, to drink juice and play "the spy game" on that "Sixty-Four" thingamabob.

You can feel the dull ache in your cranium as you pulverize the soft flesh into a messy pulp. Wait you need to watch it—it's wobbling—you almost let it get away. You furrow your brow in concentration as you try to focus on both targets simultaneously. You need to readjust things—let gravity do part of the work—Now, you add force just as both targets collide with one another. Shoot! you think some of the gunk trailed off from the impact and landed scruff of your neck. Sam shakes his head nervously at you as he pours himself a cup of coffee.

You turn to catch the brilliant red sparks that wreath Alice as she swings her hammer in a middling blow. The wooden countertop jolts and you pick up a sharp cracking sound. You can't make her eyes around her veil, but her body language is that of somewhat resigned approval at her own performance. She turns her attention to you. "That's really messy ,Octavian, but without the proper tools, we're all having to improvise."She slips a finger into the pallid goo and then licks the substance off her finger. "The flavor's not as strong as I would like, but they're tougher than I'd like. I'll have to add less vanilla and a smidge more sugar...Octavian, mush up a couple more." A cough interrupts her along, so she turns her attention to the sea of white power spilled across Jeanette's portion of the counter.
You hate the feeling as you peel back the mottled yellow skin with your paws and...
...Raise another banana into the air over the metal mixing-bowl.
In all you're years alive you've faced many trials: bombs, collapsing buildings, submarines, friendly fire, sharp claws, even the machinations of a vindictive magical girl. None of that prepared you for the moment Alice eagerly shouted: "Let's make muffins!" into you your ear.
"Jenny you need to be more careful when you sift flower. Spilling that much is a waste and God doesn't like it when you waste food...You're doing it wrong—like this." Watching Alice try to correct the much taller woman's technique is an amusing distraction from the drudgery of your own task.

"Sweetheart, I don't get why I'm doing this. The bag said it was pre-sifted." Jeanette protests as Alice attempts to guide the woman's arms.

"It's still lumpy and that can mess up the texture."

"Alice, we're still making banana nut muffins, right? Won't walnut bits make the muffins lumpy anyway?" Jeanette asks earnestly.

"No, silly, not the texture of the muffins, the texture of the dough. The lumps of flower won't mix well with the wet ingredients and that's not good."

Jeanette glances over to you and gives you a mischievous look. "I think I've had that problem before in the past, although it could have been my oven. I was never any good at baking...I hope Octavian doesn't mind helping me. I think he can notice little things like that if he tries hard enough—at least gave me the impression he could from some of the things he's said..." Uh, is she still taking about the muffins, or something else?

"I don't see why he can't help you stir the batter. Shirley always gave me a hand, when I was first learning." You suddenly imagine Shirley teaching Alice non-culinary subject—the same one Jeanette taught you last night. Part of your brain recoils in horror and you positively liquefy the last banana with psychic pressure alone. It lands in the bowl with a wet plop.

"Octavian" Alice chides. "You need to be gentler than that. Remember the most important ingredient in any recipe...is love." Jeanette flutters her eyelashes at you when Alice says that particular word. "That should be enough, Octavian. How about you help Jenny measure the dry ingredients why I keep crushing the walnuts? I do like lots of nuts in my batter..." You certainly hope she doesn't! There's no way you'll allow her to follow in her mother's footsteps at her age. "...Octavian are you feeling sick again?" You lost your poker face didn't you?
"I'm sure he's fine, dear. But I'll carry him over to my side anyway." Jeanette remarks as she makes her way towards you. She lifts you up to shoulder height and takes a quick glance to Alice before breathily whispering in your ear. "I'd like more nuts in my batter too..." She lets it sink in for a moment before continuing. "I know baking's a serious subject and really haven't been together long, or if our recipes are even compatible...But if we stick together for a while and things calm down, I wouldn't mind trying to mix up some dough, maybe enough for a loaf or a couple buns. Personally, I could go for a whole bakery, but I'm not sure if you'd like that or if I have enough time for that sort of career change—as I'm getting older. I've got some other questions about this topic, but It might be something I want to ask about in private."

You just stare at her in stunned silence.

"I hope I'm not freaking you out. I know that this kind stuff can turn guys off, but I wanted to be upfront and honest with you. You know I'm a bad liar." She states as she sets you down on the dusty countertop.

"I already gathered that, and I figured you had an inkling for such things from our past conversations. It just came up a bit out of the blue."

She looks over discreetly to Alice, then back to you. "Like I said last night, no pressure..." She says softly. She taps her index finger against her forehead and you feel the tell tale squirming sensation inside your head of a mental connection forming. You allow her in to finish her point with a modicum of privacy."...It's just that book got me thinking. Somehow it worked once upon a time...and I think Alice might like the company. She told me more about her beliefs and about what her family was looking forward this morning. She seemed excited at the prospect of little brothers and sisters running around. That brought the thought back up in my head."

"Her beliefs might complicate things too. Remember, she thinks the world is too sinful for new children. Heck, she thought she might be the only child left on Earth till she was nine. She saw kids on the news on television in Flounder's office and he set her straight."

"Yeah, but we're going to have to contend with all that bullshit sooner or later. I had an idea about that. What if we tried to convert her a more mainline type of Christianity? Look, I'm not really religious myself but my Mom made sure I'm a Catholic, at least I am on paper, and I had to keep up appearances while when I was working for one of their schools...I actually felt like jumping in a couple of times when religion came up, but I didn't know what I could get away with saying without shooting holes in your alibi."

"Thanks for that..." You feel her mind acknowledge you praise, then you jump back to her idea. "It's better than nothing, but I don't know what I think of it right now. I'll keep it in mind."
"Do that...and make yourself look busy. Alice is starting to stare at us. Pass me the sugar and sever the link. I'll say we were confused about how much to put in." You do as she asks and the three of you get back to cooking.
The rest of the process went rather smoothly. You're not sure how much you got out of the experience—You mainly handed the girls things—but Jeanette seemed to really enjoy herself. She mentioned that it reminded her of spending time with her mother, but in a good way. Jen's confidence seemed to improve with each little bit of praise Alice heaped on her. You were at least glad to see that. And Alice seems convinced that Jen has a knack for cooking, but just needs more practice. This could become a regular occurrence if your little family has the time.

You look over the unbaked muffins and decide that their missing something. For some reason, you feel like giving them a personal touch. You grab the container of cinnamon and add a little topping of it on each muffin. Alice looks surprised, but ultimately approves. "I was just thinking about doing something like that...Hey, I like the swirly spiral pattern you're making; that'll look really good when they puff up...Wow, I can't even draw one that neat with a pencil. Did God teach how to do that?"

You shake your head in the negative. You're really not sure how dust the pattern on so symmetrically or why you picked that sort of design.

"Maybe he's just got a knack for them, sweetie..." Jeanette states half jokingly. "...I bet you've noticed he has them on his paw pads too. The spirals are really faint, but they're easy to find once you know to look for them."

You can feel your head throb a little as Alice mentions she noticed them too...It's probably just magical exertion from using your powers on those bananas...There done, for some reason the muffins look better to you now—more appealing, like the tune Alice is humming as the heats up to the desired temperature—400 degrees Fahrenheit. The number just pops into your head without looking at the oven; for some reason you know it's the right number. Yeah no point in worrying about that till the oven dings. You might as well watch the muffins, which are looking really good, by the way. The batter is the right consistency--if you thinned it out a bit, you could probably make pancakes with it. Banana nut pancakes, that sounds appetizing
You like pancakes. No, Alice likes pancakes...a lot. They might be her favorite food. This is wrong. How are her thoughts entering into your head? You scan the room for a mental connection...There isn't one. Your head is really starting to hurt. You can feel something tickling at your paw, but not rubbing against your fur...It's like you didn't have any. You look up and notice Alice has put on a oven mitt with some sort of fuzzy lining. You're thinking her thoughts and feeling sensations from her body. This is just like some of those dreams from last night. You can feel the heat on your upper arms as she puts the pan in the oven. If you could draw breath, you would need to catch it right now...There must be a logical explanation for this, but you're not coming to it. With each new thought comes a burning sensation, throughout your entire body.

Then all of a sudden, it stops—all of it: the aching pains, the intrusive thoughts, and foreign sensations. You're back to normal. You give your limbs a quick once over and pinch your cheek just to make sure. That was new...actually, maybe it's not. Last night you were able to recall how Alice felt when she was first born. You really must have some sort of connection...one that she might not even have conscious control over. Enthrallment—it could be worse. Alice isn't torturing you like her mother. She's pleasant company. You like being around her. (You love her. She's your little girl. Your first daughter; your most precious treasure. You would do anything she would ask of you because)...When she's close by ((YoU FeEL LiKE a REAL ANgeL aNd SHE'S YOUR GOD))

The stabbing pain comes back momentarily...No it feels more like you've been struck in the temple with a hammer, hard. Thinking only makes it worse. You might not want to think so hard about such things for the time being; you might not want to think about anything You slump against the countertop backsplash. "Jen" you mutter. "Can you do the dishes? I'm a little tired again."
After the passage of a little over ten minutes, you're feeling much better—great even. While you've been resting the scent of muffins has been growing more pronounced with each passing second—it's almost omnipresent in a way. It's kind of like what Alice's magic does to your supernatural senses. You can't smell magic with her close to you. You can still see magical objects—barely, but you have to use some of your life to empower your eyes to do so. Not to mention auras, your exposure to such powerful fields rendered you blind to less powerful ones. Titania had the same effect on you as Alice does now...So many of the magical girls you encountered over the years—the ones that you didn't create—seemed very weak to you...obviously they possessed poor magical potential. You always assumed that their contractors were being lazy, shortsighted, or vulgar. Maybe they had a good reason for their selections. They were avoiding the powerful girls. The magic they gave you might not be worth the overall risk they posed, not to mention the complications they caused. Titania imprisoned you, and given enough time, would have killed you. And Alice...

No, Alice isn't a problem. Only her haze is a problem. And you need to solve your problem for her. (Because you need to keep her safe.) What if she can't sense a monster, or Heaven forbid, is incapacitated and can't help you find it. The same goes for Jeanette. The thought of protecting her appeals to you as well. You've tried to solve this problem in the past, but always come up short—even though your life was on the line when you were in Titania's custody. But things are different now, you have people that depend on you, so you're determined to overcome this hurdle.
More time has passed, only a few minutes, but you've tried countless approaches with nothing to show for it. Alice's scent is constant and you've experienced it in so many different ways. The smell of actual smoke, with a hint of wet moss or peat. As a iron or coppery tang—like human blood. Another try yielded mundane scents but in obscene quantities. You thought you would smell the shampoo you bought for her for all of eternity. One time she even smelled like cinnamon, but that could have been the muffins. Wait, a constant, you need a constant—like a scientific constant or true north. Jeanette. You know her magic well. You've smelled it; tasted it. You know her in a different way than any contractee you've had before. Focus Octavian, close your eyes and look for her. Try to smell the sea. A couple minutes pass. You hear Alice checking the muffins for doneness and closing the oven again. Straight ahead, no slightly to the left of Alice. No she's moving. Close by. Almost, no, touching. The sea is right next to your roaring inferno. You open your eyes to catch her whispering some joke into your daughter's ear. You can sense her. You've done it!
They both look at you like your crazy when you jump for joy. You can't help yourself but to parody many a great scientist before you. "EUREKA!"

"What's gotten into you all of a sudden? I thought you were tired." Jen replies sarcastically.

"I have found it." You say with a smile. "To be more precise I found...you..." Alice rushes forward to pull the muffins out of the oven. You leap from the counter and propel yourself magically toward Jen. You grab her shoulders in a sort of hug and give her a discreet kiss on the cheek before Alice can notice. "I can explain later, but I would be over the moon if you would have a meal with our daughter. I'll hold your hand the entire time if it helps." You hastily whisper into your ear.

"Do you get drunk on cinnamon, too?" She mumbles back. "I'm just kidding before you ask. And yeah, I'd like that too. Sit in my lap and hold my hand under the table...man that feels embarrassing to say."

"BREAKFAST IS READY" Alice yells as if she was still on a farm. Some things never change.
>What do you want to do next after breakfast. Remember you have limited time today:
>You feel like you're forgetting something—oh yeah. You promised to help Alonso. You might want to do that.

>You just made a breakthrough with your powers. Maybe you could have another one. (focus on long distance communication OR explore the peculiar feeling of simpatico you have with Alice.)

>Sam keeps looking at you like he wants to ask you something. He looks somewhat troubled so it might be important.

>Jonathan's up. You don't think he's ever bright eyed and bushy-tailed, so now's as good of a time as any to ask him something. (About the fairy stuff or some write in.)

>The sun's up. Jeanette could use some target practice. Alice could use some lesions in firearms safety from a more trustworthy source that a nutty cult (Uh, well possibly, she kind of knows what she’s doing. What she already knows...), and you could enchant that Glock for Jeanette.
>You’re not going to have as good of place to practice like this in a big city, or a suburb. Have the girls get some practice in while they still can.

>Maybe the news has more insight into that hospital attack.
Cough, cough…or not. Something, something cover-up. Bonus option is still on the table. Switch to Shirley’s POV and get a front row seat to chaos.

>Write in/something else/some logical combination of options.
Also thanks anon. I appreciate the concern.
>You feel like you're forgetting something—oh yeah. You promised to help Alonso. You might want to do that.
>Sam keeps looking at you like he wants to ask you something. He looks somewhat troubled so it might be important.
>You feel like you're forgetting something—oh yeah. You promised to help Alonso. You might want to do that.
>You feel like you're forgetting something—oh yeah. You promised to help Alonso. You might want to do that.
>Sam keeps looking at you like he wants to ask you something. He looks somewhat troubled so it might be important.
>Roll 1d20 for altering Alonso. No crit fails.
Rolled 9 (1d20)

Rolled 16 (1d20)

Rolled 10 (1d20)

Rolled 13 (1d20)

>16 takes it. Writing.

>I've already started on a portion of the next update before this, but I'm not sure how much time I'll have to write today. Also, I might have to attend something that could eat up most of my evening. The good news is that I'm free all day tomorrow (Saturday).

I'll see what I can get done by the afternoon and I'll keep you guys posted.
>Sorry about the lack of updates. After dealing with work stuff all day on Friday, I couldn't really get back into the same headspace I was when I was writing earlier. I still remembered the major points I wanted to convey along with the plot, just I couldn't write the characters interacting at all. Rather than force it, I spent most of yesterday tossing ideas around trying to get over the writer's block/doing unrelated things.

>I'm up early again and out of random housework, so I might as well try to get back to writing.
A mischievous idea, uncharacteristically, strikes you as Alice is distracted by plating the muffins. "Act completely natural." You whisper in Jeanette's ear. She's still confused by your sudden state of ebullience, but doesn't bat an eyelash as you circle around her head and hide yourself behind her. You don't have much time to get the posture right...Up a tad bit...No, Jen doesn't seem to like you using her bra as a foot hold. You're just going to have to float...Alice's humming is fading. You're running out of time...Your paws are visible. Hide them...under Jen's collar. Yeah that should work. You bridge the distance between Jen's mind and yours. "I felt like playing a little prank on Alice I couldn't have you ruin it before I had a chance to act." You think a bit more hurried than usual—it seems emotional states have an effect on the quality of your mental connection. Good to know. "If I got everything level it should look like you've got my ears..." Your thoughts have a sort of staccato quality as if each word was punctuated by non-existent laughter. "...Bunny ears—I think this sort of thing is supposed to be juvenile fun."

"Man, you really are in a good mood Octavian. I can feel it in my head." Jen thinks back.

"Yeah, for a few reasons..." You add before changing the subject. "Let me know how you're going to move ahead of time..."

"Like we're dancing." She abruptly cuts you off.

"Yeah, I guess..."

"Sounds fun...speaking of dancing, could we try that sometime? I never got into performing ballroom type stuff and, uh...by the time got really interested in boys and romantic stuff, I couldn't dance if my life depended on it." You can feel her mind start to careen off into a darker direction. "I missed out that stuff in high school and I didn't even have music at my wedding reception so no one..."

"I'll try my best, but I'm quite a bit shorter than you...I don't know how I could make it work, but I'll still try my best."You repeat in an effort to distract her from her depressing memories.

She drops her train of thought. Then, you can feel her trying to mentally reassure you instead. "Well you can float or I can just hold you. I don't really care about putting on a show. I just want to try it with someone and...I want to spend time with you." There's an intensity to the way she thinks—a lingering, quiet feeling of unspoken desperation and something else is hidden beneath that—A clawing sort of self-doubt, self-hatred, or possibly both. "Does she always feel like this?" You wonder to yourself.

"Yes and no..." Jen replies matter of fact. She clearly picked up on your stray thought. "...It's always there in the background. I can distract myself for a little while if I keep busy...or when I got high or hurt myself, but the feelings come right back eventually. I can never shake them."

"Jen, I'm sorry I didn't mean to intrude...please don't...not like Jessica."
"It's alright, Octavian, I don't mind. You wanted me to open up earlier; now you know what it's really like. I let you read my thoughts. After this morning, I'm okay with talking to you about this sort of stuff—Just you...maybe Alice, if she's mature enough..."

"Mother Jenny, can you get the glasses off the top shelf?"

"...Alice's looking at me by the way, if you haven't figured that out. I'm going to tilt my head to the left."
"Sure thing, dear." She says out loud.

Alice is belly laughing almost immediately. "Jenny when did you get those?"

"These..." She remarks as she points to your ears. You make sure to loll your head so your ears sway dramatically. "...I've always had them. Aren't they nice?"

“They look really soft. Have you shown Octavian, yet? He was around here somewhere.” You poke your head out from behind Jeanette’s and make quite the silly face, before retreating back to your hiding spot.

“No, do you think he’ll be jealous of them?” Jeanette says playing along. You do your best to mime another set of ‘bunny ears’ in the middle of yours with your paw. It’s times like these you wish you had human finger. Alice loses it laughing. Pretty soon Jen does too.

“I think this might be worth my freedom. This is all worth it.” You think to Jeanette cryptically. Rather than respond, she just cups a hand to the back of your head. You stay like that for a moment before she thinks back to you: “Of course it is. Any parent would tell you that…” You can think of someone that might disagree. “…Any good parent.” Jeanette quickly corrects herself. The sound of footsteps tells you that you have company—hungry company—and you might need to wrap this up.
The road, if you’re still on one, is a hazy blur. You can’t really make much out with the mixture of sweat and blood stinging at your eyes. You think you can feel it sticking to your cheek and part of your neck too. You must look like a mess…not that it matters anymore. He’s gone.

He’s gone. And you killed him—you finished off what was left of him—and your entire world too. He didn’t give you a choice. He kept swiping at you. He cut your face open. It hurt so bad. You pulled the trigger on reflex…over and over again…And he died for you…you should've died with him. You were his to kill. You gave up everything for him. You made so many sacrifices…Mom and Dad—you killed them for him; those other girls too. And what happened last night—that wish you made…it was worthless. You just wanted everything to go back the way it was fifteen years ago, before this mess started. You wanted to wake up from this bad dream in Joseph’s arms, where you belonged.

Instead, the nightmare got worse and you’re not waking up. Everything feels hollow now.
Why did you decide to run? You could have died back at the hospital. Why did you fight back? You could have let anyone of those men shoot you. Why didn’t you die for Joseph back in that hotel room? You could have died together and that would have been the end of it…What’s stopping you from dying now? That’s a good question. You let go of the steering wheel and try your best to mash your foot into the accelerator. It’s hard to do—you never drove in heels before and you’re too short for the seat. You’re shorter than you remember. You’re hair seems longer too. You cut it short while you were on that God-forsaken farm. You close your eyes and wait for the end to come. The van shakes. You’re not on asphalt anymore. Something is scraping at the sides of the vehicle. You’re probably clearing brush on your way out. You open your eyes again…
Breakfast is proceeding better than expected. The muffins are delicious according to everyone present—which is good. You had no doubt in Alice’s recipe; instead you were worried that you or Jeanette might screw something up. Judging by all the compliments, you didn’t. Also, Jeanette’s eating without too many complaints. She’s still taking small, overly deliberate bites, but she just took seconds—that might qualify as progress. No one seemed to question why you were so keen on sitting in her lap or why her hand frequently disappears under the table. You’ve been squeezing it on and off to encourage her. Sam’s glanced at you a few times, but it’s not a look of disapproval. He’s also looked over to Alice a couple of times. Maybe he’s thought of something he can’t mention around her. Honestly, from how serious he looks, it might be something important.

You can’t help but feel like you’re missing something…like you forgot something. Wait, Alonso! You said you would work with Alice to assist him first thing in the morning. Instead, you made muffins. Knowing him, he won’t hold it against you…err, Alice. Well, at the very least you should save a muffin or two for him.
Another thought hits you. Why end it here? Joseph is gone, but he’s not avenged. This isn’t your fault—it’s THEIR fault. THEY violated you. THEY tried to kill you. THEY MURDERED HIM. THEY must suffer. YOU’LL KILL THEM ALL FOR THAT—just like those sluts—just like Mom and Dad. After that, and only after that, you’ll allow yourself to die.
Your lips curl into a smile just thinking about it. You’ve killed over a dozen men tonight, some of them acted like trained soldiers, others you recognized...you knew them…you trained them? (The time you spent on that farm might as well be a giant blur) You put down that thing Joseph turned into. You escaped an explosion. How can THEY possibly stop you? You’ve felt faster and stronger ever since you saw that bear. You can pull fucking guns from thin air (sure they’re all 1911’s, just like your Dad’s old gun—you think it’s at the bottom of a lake somewhere—but it beats reloading)…then there’s the other thing, where you uh, split into your other-selves. Just thinking about it hurts your brain, but you can do it. You used it to great effect on those people. They couldn’t seem to hurt the other yous—like they were illusions—but all of you could hurt them back.

Yes, you’re going to kill that bastard Flounder. He touched you—when your body is only for Joseph. He messed with your minds and turned Joseph against you…And you’re going to kill his little bitch, Alice, too. He kept you around to raise her, because she was so damn important. How dare she take the place of your child—the one Mom took from you! She had no right to that. Furthermore, you wouldn’t have got into this mess if she hadn’t run away. You’ll find her and kill her right in front of him…actually that’s not a bad idea. You can lure Flounder to you with Alice, and then kill them both…If you survive that, you might even kill that bear thing. He lied to you and he defiled your Joseph’s corpse. He should pay for that. But later, Alice and Flounder come first.

You slam your foot on the break petal as an object, no, multiple objects; loom larger and larger in your hazy vision—trees. The van lurches awkwardly. Momentum carries your body forward. Your head strikes the steering wheel. Everything goes black.
“Good morning, your Majesty.” You suppose the simple nod the former wendigo throws your way counts for a greeting to you, Jeanette and Sam. Sure, you might be an “angel”, but you're still part of Alice's help, just like him.

Alonso was waiting patiently for you, in his tent, the entire time. If your tardiness bothered him, he didn’t express it to you or any of your little group. He didn’t bother to say much of anything. Not that you could blame him; he looked haggard, like he hadn't slept at all. His baggy casual clothes only added to that appearance.

“Octavian, what do we do now? We’ve gotta help him…We’ve gotta.” Alice says innocently.
You’re not sure where to begin. This isn’t like putting a band-aid on scrapped knee. You’re probably going to have to reform a human soul. This goes beyond the type of modification you’ve succeeded at performing. To make matters worse, you mostly splice things together. This sort of job might call for removing material—you haven't had much luck with that beyond pulling small shards from your own soul.

Then there's Alice, she's performed, well, something that borders on resurrection twice now, but her process and the limits of her ability are still mysteries left unsolved. That might change today. You’ve got a better grasp on your magical senses and you have Sam’s eyes.

You decide to lead things off by querying the elderly gentlemen. “Sam, what do you see when you look at Alonso?”
“His aura is blackened with corruption and death. I’ve never seen anything like it in a living being.”

Alice gasps. “Can you exorcise him?” You ask.

“That’s…No. There’s no way I can do it without driving his spirit from his body. He’s too far gone for my help.” You expected that answer. Thankfully, Jeanette is doing her best to reassure Alice. You not sure you could formulate a plan while comforting the girl.

“Well that leaves Alice and I. Sam I want you to keep a close eye and tell me exactly what you see afterwards…”

“Why’s that?” Alice asks

“You see…” You point your paw up authoritatively. “…God’s been rather cryptic with me on the subject of your powers. He hasn’t explained all of them to me, or if there’s a cost to using them. I don’t want you to get hurt by misusing them…Sam here, can see lots of special things, so I think he can clue me in to the information I need.”

“Well, it’s all part of God’s plan, Octavian. If He hasn’t told you it must not matter.”

“I just want to keep you safe…” You sputter out. “It’s my job. I don’t want to mess up, or have you mess up”

“Oh I get it now…” Alice covers her mouth with her hand. “…That thing you told me. I wouldn’t ever do anything like that.” She thinks it has something to do with the story you told her about Jessica.

You feel multiple sets of eyes sweeping over you. “Yeah don’t do bad things or else you make God sad…” A third linger doubt bubbles up in your mind. What if Alonso's soul is already fixed? What if the problem is all in his mind? You're worthless here if that's case. Jessica's fate is proof of that. Even Titania couldn't repair a mind, although she certainly played coy with whatever she was testing her powers on...Well, Alice has done something to you, but you have no idea if she can replicate it. There's a lot of variables here.“…Anyway, We’re helping Alonso right now.”

“Oh, right. What am I supposed to do again?” Alice says, clearly confused.
“The last couple of times you wound up passing out, so this time I’m going to work with you. I’ll touch Alonso, then you. After that, use your magic. I’ll guide you…Remember last time you looked inside of his soul and got rid of that yucky thing…” She nods to you. “…There’s got to be more of it left over, it could be in a lot of tiny pieces. Once we get rid of those, he should stop hurting.”

“So when do we start?” She asks

“Right now.” You mutter as you hop over and place a paw on Alonso's knee. Alice places left hand on your head, and her right in the center of Alonso's chest. She closes her eyes and...

Darkness surrounds you. It's like your sinking into the earth. You can hear voices, but they're distorted and far off. Alice must be around somewhere; you can smell the distinctive aroma of her magic. Everything else smells sweet in an off way, like a cheap air freshener covering up the stench of long neglected garbage. It's the smell of magic—but artificial, for lack of a better term. Where's the soul?

"OCTAVIAN HELP ME!" Alice screams urgently from somewhere. It's like her voice is coming from many directions at once. You don't have time to mull over the paradox.

You want to panic, but part of your mind knows better. You need to be calm, think things over rationally, and help Alice calm down too. "Sweetheart, take a deep breath and tell me what happened."

"I did what you said I-I used my magic. But...But I must'a messed up..." She practically sobs. "God's gonna hate me. I..."

"You know that's true. God wouldn't ever hate you. He doesn't hate me and I messed up really bad..." Your voice betrays something of a lack of confidence in that last statement, but you try to brush past it. "Even if you made a mistake, you shouldn't just give up...Sweet pea, you can fix this, just calm down and tell me exactly what happened..." After a second of silence you add: "I have faith in you" in your best fatherly voice.

"I looked around like last time and I found more icky stuff, so I tried to get rid of it..." She says shakily "...but then there was like, poof, and everything started to unravel. It all happened so fast and I kept calling for you, but you didn't answer, and I...um, I'm scared."

"Alice I'm here now. There's nothing to be afraid of. Let me think for a bit. I might get quiet, but I'm not going anywhere without you." There's a few more desperate pleas, which you answer with more reassures, but eventually you're allowed to think over things. It sounds like Alonso's soul shattered under the pressure. You've seen this sort of thing in magical girls, once their souls went critical, but never bothered to attempt a repair. Focus, Octavian. If something shatters, there must be shards laying around—shards are what you work with.
Your staring contest with the void goes on for some time, before you get results. At first, you can make out dusty specs across the horizon. When you focus harder, those specs shine like stars. "Alice he's fallen apart, but if we work together we can put him back together again. Now look for something shiny..."
You're hair is wet and so is the steering wheel. You're not sure if that's fresh blood from a new injury or if you just aggravated the existing wound on your face. Something else is sticking to you. It feels like lace is draped over your face. Were you wearing a veil this whole time? Black dress, heels, a veil—whoever dressed you at the hospital had a real sense of humor. You’re curious what you must look like and there’s you head wound to deal with.

Of course, there’s no rear-view or vanity mirrors inside this God-forsaken cargo van, just side mirrors. You kill the ignition and stumble your way out of the driver’s seat. It’s clear you’re off the highway, past a ditch, and well off the beaten path—you made your own using the van as a battering ram through the shrubs and undergrowth; coming to a stop just before clipping a group of particularly large maples. The van certainly looks worse for wear, and covered in all sorts of leaves, but it seems to be functional. You’re probably going to have to push it out of here. Besides the plant-life, you’re all alone. If someone was tailing you, they should have made their presence know by now. You still draw forth one of pistols, just in case.
You’re shocked by your reflection in the side mirror. It’s not the laceration, though it really looks bad—Joseph slashed a ragged gash across the right side of your face, down from your forehead to your jaw line. Your eye was spared from catastrophic damage; it seems to be functional (the eyelid might be another story entirely). However, this is going to leave a mark, a big one (you might be able to cover it up with your bangs if you styled your hair differently). Oddly enough, the wound’s puffed up like it’s healing already. You’re forehead’s black and blue too, but that was to be expected—what you didn’t expect was the rest of the face looking back at you. You look exactly the same as you were in high school…Taking a step back, the same holds true for the rest of your body too. It’s not 2004 anymore, Flounder’s Cool-Aid fucked with you sense of time, but it couldn’t cause this. You’re fifteen again; you’ve regressed. You got a twisted version of what you wished for…that thing with the bear really happened. Your outfit is a twisted mockery of what you wished for too. You can recall parts of the design and the veil but in white…from bridal books. You them and wanted them for your wedding—After you ran to somewhere where you could marry Joseph. That little bastard, he put you in this to mock you. He’s definitely going to pay with Flounder and Alice.

You might as well get started on that. If you're going to go down this path you need tools. There's a lot of crates, cases and boxes in the back of the van. You suppose your would be killers didn't bring them along just to sit on. Time to get a look at their hardwa...What the hell was that. You felt something, it was as if the Earth shook beneath your feet, but nothing else moved. Then there was the smell—it was like incense, charcoal, blood, and stale water all converged together. It's distant, many miles away, but definitely coming from the northwest of your position. On an instinctual level, you feel like investigating the source of this feeling. Your instincts led you to discovering your powers and escape the hospital. You'll hear them out this time.
It's been painstaking work, for Alice and you both, but the mess in front of you somewhat resembles a human soul. It won't work properly. You watched enough magical girls 'die' to know that.

"What should I do now, Octavian?" That's a good question, Alice. What do you do now? You're in uncharted territory.
"Try doing what you did the first time you changed him and with Jeanette." You want to say you've run out of ideas, but that's best left unspoken. You can't tell if she responded because the ensuing gust of 'wind' deafened you. This must be Alice's magic at work, up close and person. You felt it; now you can smell it. Finally, you can see it. The red mass reminds you of a liquid pouring from a cup. It pours over what's left of Alonso's soul. Some of it drips down on you...it burns away at your very being. It's unbearable, to you at least. You don't want Alice to hear you scream. It takes so much effort to keep that from happening...

You open your eyes and your sitting on grass and staring up at the sky. "It's over?" you ask to no one in particular.

"I think we did it Octavian..."Alice mutters faintly from right next you. She's flat on her back and she's clearly exhausted. Alonso's curled up in a ball behind the two of you.

"What happened? What was that?"/"Oh my God, are you two alright?" Sam and Jeanette's concerns run together into a cacophony of noise to your tired ears. You can deal with in a moment. You pull yourself to the prone man behind you.

"Alonso...Alonso?" He looks to you glassy eyed. "How do you feel now?"

"I don't feel the hunger or the pain..." He hesitates before continuing. "...But I can't feel anything at all; I feel nothing..."

"Oh, no. I'm sorry." Alice whimpers.

"No...Thank you...both of you. It's better this way..." Alonso says as he shuts his eyes. "...I finally get some shut eye without worrying about giving in to my cravings." A couple of deep breaths later and he drifts off.

You're starting to envy humans and their sleep. You force yourself up on to your aching feet. You direct Jen and Sam to move Alonso inside for the time being—Sam volunteers his bed—while you watch over Alice. She's tired and shaken up, but handling things better with you reassurance. You're not lying to her this time. It might have been messy and a mixed outcome, but she did do a good job back there. There's no way you could have accomplished this without her. Soon, Jen returns. You tell her to carry Alice back to your room and keep watch over your little girl. Which leaves you alone until Sam walks back out.

At first you compare notes. He didn't see anything too useful. Your front row seat trumps his talk of auras. Then, you notice him making the same face he had at the dinner table. So you ask him what's on his mind. He looks you up and down before finally talking. "Octavian, I was thinking over when I first met you and something stuck out to me. You're a spirit, you teach humans magic, it's clear to me that you're not new at this, but you can't see the corruption coming from Alice?"
"No, I couldn't see it over her magic..."

"Even just now? I could see it the entire time you were working with her." he asks pointedly.
"I-er" you don't have a good answer. "No, I didn't see it. I didn't even see it when I made the contract with her...She just seems normal to me."

"Normal..." He repeats. "...to you."

"Yes, she didn't show any adverse symptoms beyond having trouble using her magic at first...Please she means the world to me. I'll..."

"There's no need to beg, Octavian. I'm not reneging on our deal." He sighs. "It just didn't make much sense to me. It's probably no big deal..." His tone changes back to normal friendly one. "You look beat. Need a lift?"

Your legs are tired and you want to see Alice. You don't refuse him.

With a mid-morning nap, you only have time for maybe one more thing before people start arriving. What do you do?
>Your tired and stressed, exactly when you'll need your powers in the real world. It's a perfect time to practice with your powers. (focus on developing long distance communication, Entertain the girls with your illusions, or explore the peculiar feeling of simpatico you have with Alice.)

>You want to ask Jonathan about his fairy research. He could point you to more reading.

>The sun's up. Jeanette could use some target practice. Alice could use some lessons in firearms safety from a more trustworthy source that a nutty cult (Uh, well possibly, she kind of knows what she’s doing. Maybe she really knows what she's doing...), and you could enchant that Glock for Jeanette.

>You’re not going to have as good of place to practice like this in a big city, or a suburb. Have the girls get some practice in while they still can. (Have Alonso join in? Y/N)

>Talk to Alonso about something. (His condition, Exploring Alice's "world", or both)

>Maybe the news has more insight into that hospital attack.
Cough, cough…or not. Something, something cover-up. Bonus option is still on the table. Switch to Shirley’s POV and get a front row seat to chaos.

>Time skip ahead to the ritual.

>Write in/something else/some logical combination of options.
>The sun's up. Jeanette could use some target practice. Alice could use some lessons in firearms safety from a more trustworthy source that a nutty cult (Uh, well possibly, she kind of knows what she’s doing. Maybe she really knows what she's doing...), and you could enchant that Glock for Jeanette.
>The sun's up. Jeanette could use some target practice. Alice could use some lessons in firearms safety from a more trustworthy source that a nutty cult (Uh, well possibly, she kind of knows what she’s doing. Maybe she really knows what she's doing...), and you could enchant that Glock for Jeanette.
>The sun's up. Jeanette could use some target practice. Alice could use some lessons in firearms safety from a more trustworthy source that a nutty cult (Uh, well possibly, she kind of knows what she’s doing. Maybe she really knows what she's doing...), and you could enchant that Glock for Jeanette.
Nice to have you back QM!!!
>Roll 1d20+2 (treat it like a combat roll with crits, ect.)
Thank you. I didn't want to leave you guys hanging, but I was having a lot of trouble writing the last update. There was a lot a wanted to get in there (I planned for a lot of Shirley's character development to take place during the hospital fight. I need to find a different way to pass along that info.) and the split POV between Octavian and Shirley kept tripping me up. I wound up scrapping an entire draft and started over on Monday.

Also, work's really cut into my free time. Things are getting hectic with the holidays coming up. Things might get slow at points, but I'll keep running.
Rolled 10 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

Rolled 8 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

Rolled 14 + 2 (1d20 + 2)

>I'll get to writing.

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