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/qst/ - Mitsuba Archive


Your name is Shu, and you’ve come a long way at the end of the world.

The world as you knew it is long gone, consumed from without by a ravenous being from beyond the stars. Humanity’s been reshaped into a vicious, feral thing by the Crucible, their bodies twisted into raging beasts of muscle and bone, voices and minds warped into tools of war. The Daughters—combatants elected by the Crucible to fight and devour their fellows to reach even the apex of hideous strength—are perhaps the lucky ones, granted the freedom of choice in a world where most humans, flora, and fauna have been melted down into a carpet of raw biomass that’s pulled taut across our world.

Like every other Daughter in existence, you can feel the pull—gnawing at your bones, pulling every fiber of your being towards the tether between a mutilated earth and an alien sky. You call it the Cord, and it’s said that reaching it’s summit will grant the Crucible’s victor the power to reshape all that is into all that will be.

A siren’s song, beckoning you to the end of all things…

…but you’ll fight it, and anything else that would dare to drown out humanity’s future.

Before you at this very moment looms a living mountain of flesh, a titan wrought of animals both predator and prey. One of three colossi, the most erratic and violent of the Apocalypse Amalgams—Behemoth stands head and shoulder above his kin, and has demanded that you make a choice between two equally unappealing options.

On the one hand, he asks you to step aside and allow him to stop the very thing you came here to ensure comes to pass—a rocket launch, set to pierce through the Crucible’s false sky and carry a fraction of humanity’s future with it to the stars beyond.

On the other, he’s ordered you to finish this hunger game in the way he believes its creators intended—ascend the Cord. Claim the throne. Continue the cycle, presiding over another world’s devastation with a hollow title and a heart full of regrets.

He’s not the first to offer you a binary choice.

He won’t be the last to regret it, either.

++++++

Previous Vein: https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2022/5175718/

Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Body%20Horror%20Quest

Character Abilities: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1p_asyKKcyCbQieAAXo1oogBucLtzSypx8-M9vqA96zE/edit#gid=1685687578

Trypophilic Hive, Ver. 3: https://pastebin.com/bUWG6TNF

Relics, Ver. 7: https://pastebin.com/kHzW2hbd

Dual Techs: https://pastebin.com/2jZ5Zhyx

Character Profiles: https://pastebin.com/eL2zTZ4f

Quest Fan Works: https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1comL20X2jUrPO0p7QMdFinwAwdXHre2F9A5bdXif7_k/mobilebasic

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bodyhorrorquest?lang=en
>>
“So, DEFIANT.” Behemoth intones with a three-hooved stomp. “You have before you TWO options. CONCLUSION…or DESTRUCTION.”

His voice then bellows out a single word, an ultimatum with all the subtlety of a natural disaster.

“CHOOSE.”

Despite the urgency of his demand, in the scant few seconds before you reply you’re granted a brief moment to gather your thoughts. Ziz still towers behind you, yet rendered small by her brother’s chastisement and the sheer overwhelming presence of the largest of the siblings. Leviathan, meanwhile, as yet to make their presence known—content to hold fast to their deal with you by lurking in the river, undetectable and nigh-invisible until the time comes to whisk you out of harm’s way.

Rath, Dorian, B’ni, and Snowbird stand at your side, and given the sudden influx of heat from the redhead on your left, you can already tell which way the winds of conflict are blowing…but the die’s not cast.

Not yet.

The very fact that Behemoth is paused here, looming overhead and delivering ultimatums speaks volumes. A being of his size could have attempted to trample through or past you. He could’ve made no attempt at parley, he could’ve rushed straight into battle without warning…but he hasn’t. Instead, Behemoth’s drawn a proverbial line in the sand, daring you to cross it.

Which means you have a chance.

You’re keenly aware of the dozen allies you’ve brought to bear should things turn sour, but as you take a step forward it’s with the hopes that Ziz knows her brother better than Leviathan.

Behemoth’s given you a choice.

And you give him your reply.

>>Concede to his demand that you climb the Cord—and tell him that while you can’t let the Disassociated launch be interrupted, you’d like to know why he wishes to stop it in the first place.

>>He’s drawn a line in the sand, and so will you. You’re ascending the Cord on your own terms, and if Behemoth wants to stop the rocket launch? Then he’d better explain himself if he wants you to move.

>>There’s still time before the launch, and it’s time you need to waste. Try and engage Behemoth in conversation, both to stall for time and get some insight on the final Apocalypse Amalgam.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in four. It’s good to be back, and I hope everyone had a pleasant past week!)
>>
>>5211276
>>Write-In
>"I wish it was that simple, Behemoth. I want this over with, too. We're not simply dawdling, we're building up power for the climb. There are others who have plans for the Crucible, plans that you would like far less than ours. If Doctor West gets her way, no Crucible would ever again work towards your father's purposes. Just hers. We need the strength to defeat her, if either of us is going to get what they want."
>"But maybe there is a faster way. You said that in Crucibles past, a single Fragment was enough power to ascend the Cord? I'm listening, how does that work?"

I've got other things I want to say to Behemoth, but I think this works as an okay opener.
>>
>>5211276
Gah. I wake up an hour late and I see that the speech craft has been lacking. Man...the other anon's insight would've been wonderful around this time. I'll try and have a go at it.

>>5211327
I don't think Dr. West should be a focus here. The cycle's been through hundreds of iterations and I don't think the ambitions of the doctor would be disastrous enough to warrant a mention unless she herself carries a fragment. Unless there's something about the ascension that Behemoth is worried about.
>>
>>5211364
West wants to reconfigure the Crucibles into her own personal transhuman ascension system. If she gets her way, the Crucibles will fulfill neither the star gods' plan nor Behemoth's father's. She should offend Behemoth at least as much as our not having ascended does. And she's the primary obstacle to our climbing the Cord. I think she's worth bringing up.
>>
>>5211276
>If it were that simple, then I would be happy to climb it regardless. If power alone was enough to ascend the cord, then it should have been simple to complete the Crucible's purpose and allow you and your siblings to return home."
>But it isn't. Like you said, something is wrong. The strain is decaying, Fragments are being revealed, amalgams are gaining sentience, and deprived daughters are popping up. Hundreds of daughters have ascended the Cord, their vessels holding enough power to fulfill the Crucible's primary purpose, and yet the cycle rejects them. for what?
>"No, what I want is to fulfill the crucible's "true" purpose. Your Father's purpose. To fulfill the conditions your father has set up in addition to the Crucible's primary purpose. So that you 'three' can finally reunite with your father."
>"But that itself is not simple. Power alone isn't enough to fulfill the hidden conditions set by your father. And I intend to find out what that purpose exactly is."
>Yes, I could be a prominent example of what is going wrong in this crucible, I am not that root cause. I am merely a symptom of the problem. You yourself said that the emergence of fragments of your father has been an ongoing problem even before this cycle.
>You have said that in Crucibles past, a single Fragment was enough power to ascend the Cord? And that alone was enough to warrant the awakening of you and your siblings in order to quash the threat a fragment bearing daughter poses. I'm listening, how does that work?

currently this is a working prompt for now, will be subject to revision later.

>>5211377
Fair point, but only if it's confirmed that West has a fragment on her person. If she does and Behemoth gives a solid explanation to the mystery, then we may be able to find common ground with him.
>>
>>5211387
>>5211276
Amending this part of my vote:
>You have said that in Crucibles past, a single Fragment was enough power to ascend the Cord? And that alone was enough to warrant the awakening of you and your siblings in order to quash the threat a fragment bearing daughter poses. I'm listening, how does that work?

to

>You have said that in Crucibles past, a single Fragment was enough power to ascend the Cord? Then that condition is easily fulfilled. But that begs a question: How does holding a fragment qualify a daughter for ascension?"
>>
>>5211276
Eh, sure, why not. Supporting >>5211327, sounds reasonable enough.

I also have things that I would like to talk to him about if he does not just attack us for not picking an option immediately.

Like telling him that the main reason we are not making ready to march on the Cord right now is him, possibility of making some sort of deal with him so that he does not attack people, about our communication with his father...
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>>5211387
>Fair point, but only if it's confirmed that West has a fragment on her person. If she does and Behemoth gives a solid explanation to the mystery, then we may be able to find common ground with him.
I just think it's an appropriately punchy answer. Tell him why we haven't climbed yet, explain that it's something he should care about too, then ask him for his solution. I think Behemoth would respond well to simple, straightforward responses. He might not agree that West is something big enough to care about, but that gives us something to debate.

But I do think you're right that we should point out the failure of Crucibles past in our opening statements. I wanted to bring that up later, but I think having it early does work better. Keeps the argument focused.

I'm trying to rewrite it but I keep being unsatisfied with what I'm saying. It comes across as too meandering, too many thoughts in too many places. This is where the quest format encouraging big write-ins frustrates me, I want to keep things succinct here but I don't know how to do that while also getting in what needs to be said.
>>
>>5211422
>>5211408
Hmmm....I had forgotten about that. let me try and reformat my responses to be more succinct.

>>5211276
>>5211387

Amending my vote:

>"Well that makes things simple to straighten out instead of having to fight, being that the reason we are here is because of each other. I sought you out because the Rocket launch would draw you in, and you sought me out because you knew I would defend it."
>"And now that we are here, we can finally begin our negotiations."

>Yes, I could be a prominent example of what is going wrong in this crucible, I am not that root cause. I am merely a symptom of the bigger problem. You yourself said that the emergence of fragments of your father has been an ongoing problem even before this cycle.

>If the power alone was enough to ascend the cord, then it should have been simple to complete the Crucible's purpose and allow you and your siblings to return home."

>But it isn't. Like you said, something is wrong. Hundreds of daughters have ascended the Cord, their vessels holding enough power to fulfill the Crucible's primary purpose, and yet the cycle rejects them. for what?

>"No, what I want is to fulfill the crucible's "true" purpose. Your Father's purpose. To fulfill the conditions your father has set up in addition to the Crucible's primary purpose. I intend to find out what that purpose exactly is so that you 'three' can finally reunite with your father."

>"I want this over with, too. We're not simply dawdling, we're building up power for the climb. There are others who have plans for the Crucible, plans that you would like far less than ours. Others who are far stronger than myself on an individual basis. Others who may have fragments in their own possession and may be currently climbing the tower. Others like Doctor West. If she gets her way, no Crucible would ever again work towards your father's purposes. Just hers. If either of us is going to get what they want, then we will need more than just power."

>You have said that in Crucibles past, a single Fragment was enough power to ascend the Cord? We have multiple fragments present. More than enough to fulfill the primary purpose of the Crucible, and yet I have no idea how it works. Do you?
>>
>>5211429
Yeah, that's good. Less prevaricating, I think Behemoth will better respond to this.

Something I want to say but keep faltering on is that Behemoth sought us out despite having other options. If all he wanted was to get somebody to climb the Cord already, then he could ignore us entirely. Go get somebody else to climb it while we're wasting time saving people. There's no reason to focus on our party unless on some level he recognizes that we're different. That pushing us to hurry up already will have better results than getting anyone else to climb the Cord. I think he knows that our plan is the right one, and is just refusing to acknowledge it because he's frustrated.
>>
(Wrapping up the next post momentarily, everyone.)
>>
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>>5211276

"Well that makes things simple to straighten out instead of having to fight, being that the reason we are here is because of each other. I sought you out because the rocket launch would draw you in, and you sought me out because you knew I would defend it." You begin, taking another tentative step towards the mountain of flesh. "And now that we’re here, we can finally begin our negotiations. Yes, I could be a prominent example of what is going wrong in this crucible, I am not that root cause. I am merely a symptom of the bigger problem. You yourself said that the emergence of fragments of your father has been an ongoing problem even before this cycle.”

Another tremendous stomp of his hooves, and just when you think he’s about to cut you off-

“Do not WASTE my TIME. EXPLAIN yourself.” He demands, and you take a breath before continuing.

“Like you said, something is wrong. The strain is decaying, Fragments are being revealed, amalgams are gaining sentience, and deprived daughters are popping up.” You say, just to list a few of the symptoms of the Crucibles’ slow, steady degradation. “Hundreds of daughters have ascended the Cord, their vessels holding enough power to fulfill the Crucible's primary purpose, and yet the cycle rejects them. For what?”

“I do not KNOW. At first I thought they lacked raw POWER, but that theory has been DISPROVEN.” Behemoth rumbles angrily. “There’s something different about YOU, but I don’t know WHAT.”

“I agree. If power alone was enough to ascend the Cord, then it should have been simple to complete the Crucible's purpose and allow you and your siblings to return home. No, what I want is to fulfill the crucible's ‘true’ purpose. Your father's purpose.” You reveal, and Behemoth’s massive head jolts back with an alarmed huff. “To fulfill the conditions he set up in addition to the Crucible's primary purpose. I intend to find out what that purpose exactly is so that you 'three' can finally reunite with your father."

“…what PROOF do you have of my FATHER have an ulterior motive?” The mountain rumbles impatiently. “Dragging out the Crucible keeps my Father IMPRISONED for longer. FOOLISHNESS at best. DAWDLING at worst. And I have neither the TIME nor PATIENCE for those who would waste my Father’s TI-“

"Behemoth, I want this over with, too.” You gently interrupt, and to your considerable surprise, he lets you. “We're not simply dawdling, we're building up power for the climb. There are others who have plans for the Crucible, plans that you would like far less than ours. Others who are far stronger than myself on an individual basis. Others who may have fragments in their own possession and may be currently climbing the tower. Others like Doctor West. If she gets her way, no Crucible would ever again work towards your father's purposes. Just hers.”

(Continued)
>>
>>5211532

“If either of us is going to get what they want, then we will need more than just power...you said that in Crucibles past, a single Fragment was enough power to ascend the Cord? We have multiple fragments present. More than enough to fulfill the primary purpose of the Crucible, and yet I have no idea how it works. Do you?”

Behemoth considers whether or not to answer for a moment or two before offering a begrudging reply. “There have been MANY who completed the Crucible, but those with Fragments somehow ascend FASTER. I do not KNOW if they allow their wielders to SKIP parts of the Cord or if they’ve been WEAPONIZED. But if there are as MANY fragment bearers as you SAY, then things are WORSE than I FEARED.”

The peaks of Behemoth’s mountainous shoulders suddenly square up as he glowers at you with an eyeless scowl. “You say you think my FATHER had another purpose for the CRUCIBLE? What PROOF have you of this? This entire thing REEKS of Leviathan’s DOUBLE-SPEAK! Of their inane THEORIES that lead NOWHERE. You STINK of my sibling’s HYPOTHESES and FALSE HOPES when the TRUTH is right in front of our FACES!”

“Behemoth, if this theory is correct then finishing the Crucible in the way his peers wanted isn’t-“ You begin before it’s Behemoth’s turn to interrupt with a roar that nearly bowls you over.

“I will take a CERTAINTY over a THEORY any day!” Behemoth counters angrily, a mere two strides bringing his titanic form another half-kilometer closer. “The more TIME we WASTE the more our memories FADE! I WILL get us HOME before all is LOST! I will SEE our FATHER again, and this will be over! Father would have TOLD us if there was something ELSE at PLAY! He would have TRUSTED me with it!”

“Brother, *please*!” Ziz implores once more, sheltering you with her wings. “Shu may be on to something! If what she says is true, then there must be a reason he didn’t tell us abou-“

“I ask AGAIN—what PROOF have you?! If she thinks to STALL for a few SECONDS more then I will CRUSH these Daughters HERE and NOW!”

“…you…you will do no such thing.”

Ziz’s quiet declaration gives both you and Behemoth pause.

“WHAT did you just SAY?”

“You will do no such thing.” Ziz repeats, rising to her full height…and you wonder if her brother can see how her feathers tremble even as she stands against him. “You will not hurt my friends. Not while I draw breath.”

“Well, HUMAN?” Behemoth growls like a volcano threatening to explode. “What PROOF have you that your words hold more weight than Leviathan’s EMPTY air?”

>>”I don’t…but what do you have to lose by letting a single Daughter try something different?”

>>”I may be able to give you the proof, if you let Leviathan examine a Fragment I possess.”

>>”…Let the rocket launch, and join me for a time. I’ll find your proof, but it’s not something I can summon on a whim.”

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume tomorrow morning at 10AM, Eastern time. I'll likely stick to two updates per day at least until the end of next week, since I have family visiting most of that time, but after which my schedule should open up a little. I wish you a pleasant evening, and take care One and All.)
>>
>>5211535
And here it is. The meat of our negotiations. Behemoth asks for Proof. Leviathan wishes to check up on his father. All three siblings are here. They want assurances that they can see their father. Roping Behemoth into the family fragment phone call would probably be the best tangible source of proof we can provide to Behemoth. Direct contact with his father.

And Ironically, the Leviathan play would make sense because Behemoth's simple demand relies on tangible proof of concept. We've met Behemoth's father. A simple gesture of Behemoth's father giving us the thumbs up would be enough to assauge Behemoth.

That play will give certainty, however it would also go against Levi's wishes because he doesn't want Behemoth to go on a rampage from hearing his father be on his metaphorical deathbed.

The problem is that it would also involve leviathan and make things more complicated.

The whole "it's failed hundreds of times, why not try something different?" play requires pure faith on the part of both sides. It would mean we would concede to Behemoth's demands to head for the Cord asap.

Keep in mind of Behemoth's behavior, which is exemplified by this quote here: “I will take a CERTAINTY over a THEORY any day!”

In any case, even if it hurts, getting the three siblings to join in on the fragment phonecall would provide Behemoth the best possible proof to the theory, but it would reveal the big news Leviathan wants to be kept secret. But once the news is out, we can make a more emotive case to appeal to their oncoming grief about their dying parent. Shit sucks, almost everyone affiliated with Shu knows about the grief that comes with the death of a loved one, but it's also the moment that gives the big three an opportunity: a sense of closure and to be able to move on from the endless cycle they're all stuck in.
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>>5211555
>Keep in mind of Behemoth's behavior, which is exemplified by this quote here: “I will take a CERTAINTY over a THEORY any day!”
I think we should attack this. Behemoth doesn't have a certainty. He just wants to think he does, because he's desperate. There's no real reason why he thinks sending the Crucible through more cycles will get a solution, and that's something we can challenge him on. We offer our proof, then ask him for proof of his own beliefs.

I think showing him the Void Orrery could also be a good piece of evidence. Demonstrate all those billions of other Crucibles out there that haven't succeeded. If "the normal way" for the Crucible has failed over and over again, maybe it's time to try a different route. Worst case scenario, we fail and he gets another cycle anyway.

Also something we should challenge him on, why exactly is he so desperate. Okay, so this cycle has run for a few years when most only run a few months. We've been at this longer than normal. But unless he thinks the very next cycle is going to end this, there's no reason to think there won't still be dozens or even hundreds of cycles left to go before someone gets the answer. Why is he so certain that moving on from us immediately will help?
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>>5211555
additional thoughts: Our real strength, the one that makes us what we are as the defiant (our ability to collectively draw daughters under our banner through goodwill) isn't as tangible to Behemoth. Behemoth knows that Shu is "different" from the rest, but can't quite place a finger on what or why.

Asking him to accompany us would mean a long process of teaching Behemoth on how we operate and having him learn what distinguishes us from the others.

We could also provide him proof of a small sort: memories of our encounter with his father, specifically that of his personal endorsement. This would give credence to Leviathan's Fragment experiment, but would also anger Behemoth because Levi's involvement would mean more double-speak.

This is quite the problem/predicament for us.
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>>5211561
>Void Orrey
Good call. I nearly had forgotten about that. But that's only one piece of the evidence that we can array against him. But I do have to ask, what would presenting the Void orrey prove in part of our "working theory"?

Keep in mind, Behemoth's original question of asking for proof is:
>…what PROOF do you have of my FATHER have an ulterior motive?” The mountain rumbles impatiently.

We can disprove that easily on our part with memories of our encounter with his father. And then riposte his argument with the challenge to his desperate idea of the cycle continuing. That idea would also require some trust between us and Behemoth.
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>>5211588
Yeah, that's what I'm thinking of. Start with offering to share our memory, then riposte with challenging his certainty. Leviathan's attempt to scan their father is also a good idea, but Leviathan themself said they didn't want to share it with Behemoth and Ziz. I'm not sure if we should propose it, could be seen as a breach of trust. But if Behemoth is already thinking in the direction of "entropy is taking us all", then Leviathan could be more open to it. Maybe we should get someone on the line to ask him while we're doing this?
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>>5211561
If we want to convince Behemoth, then we need more than just a single piece of evidence to back up our argument. So far we have:

>Our personal meeting(s) with Behemoth's Father. We have met with him multiple times. We can let him browse our memories. That's one source of tangible proof.
>Void Orrey projections. Our strain is one of the many millions of crucible strains. Many not as degenerative as ours, and yet they still have not completed their original objective. Weighing one strain against the amassed collection of the rest.
What other tangible source of proof can we provide that we can throw on the table? An arrangement for Behemoth and Ziz to join the phonecall with Leviathan? That can also provide more proof to our argument, it's risky but it would also reveal the dirty secret of their parents being on their deathbed.

So then, how would we frame our evidence while challenge Behemoth's his desperation and ask for proof on his side.
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>>5211594
There's the fact that "Mother of All" is something apparently encoded in the deep structures of the Crucible. I'm not sure how we'd show that to him quickly, but as a Neuromancer he should be able to go down and read it. Or we could have Sugar show her memories of it?
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>>5211596
that could serve as evidence. As Levi said: Their father had a reason to hide his ulterior motives within the code like a spiteful programmer. Sugar's deep dive into the code would be one example as proof, So lets find all other physical evidence related to the ":Mother of All".

I think Uzu's grandma has a diary entry related to her jacking into the cord and an entry about "Mother of all"

PS: its hard to type with a cat on one's arm
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>>5211596
found the entry in Granny Uzu's journal:
Written testimony from a daughter who has climbed the cord for the purpose of accessing its code.
https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2019/3660660/

You turn the next page, then another, and another, finding their spaces blank until...

Suddenly you're staring at a trio of phrases scratched across the open pages, thick black lines that leap out at you as you find yourself faced with Elder Uzu's last words.

>THE POINT IS MADE CLEAR

>SHE WAKES, SHE FIGHTS, SHE ASCENDS

>THE MOTHER OF ALL

We'll have to argue about the point of the Crucible's goal. The original goal was to create a "Mother" at the top of the cord. But the message hidden by Behemoth's father refer to a "Mother of All". An entity wholly different than the apparent purpose.
>>
Not linking this, because it's just a first draft, but wanted to get something written.

>>Write-In
>Send a swarmling to get the Void Orrery.
>Message Gina quickly to contact Leviathan and ask him if he thinks it would be a good idea to bring Behemoth in on the entropograph plan.
>"For one thing, Behemoth, I've spoken with your father. Only briefly, he couldn't slip his shackles long. He didn't have the time to explain his plans, true. But he did ask my motivations, and he was happy to learn that I didn't seek the power of the Crucible for myself. He doesn't want an all-consuming conqueror, not like all the rest of his species does. I know you're a Neuromancer, would you let me share this memory?"
>"But even those who haven't met your father have noticed something unusual. Delve deep enough into the Crucible, or climb the Cord, and you start having visions. Information, hidden inside the Crucible's structure, that speaks of a 'Mother of All' who can end the Crucibles. It doesn't say how, no, but it does make a clear distinction between the Mother of All and the Mothers who climb the Cord."
>"Finally, I'd ask you to consider something: You said you'd take a certainty over a theory. But do you have a certainty? What makes you think that ending this cycle and proceeding to the next one will find the solution? Think of how many cycles just this one iteration of the Crucible has gone through, without success. Now account for all the other strains floating around the galaxy...
>Turn on the Void Orrery in galactic view.
>"It seems to me like a new tactic is required. Something different than the path the Crucible pushes its host species to walk. Maybe it's the right way, and they've all just screwed it up, billions and billions of times. But if that's the case, if it's an uncertain gamble that it will work anyway...what do you have to lose by doing things different?"

How's that?
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>>5211611
A good start. We can also bring up Granny Uzu's diary about her journey up the Cord and her attempts to peer into the code of the Cord. Read aloud her diary entries specifically the last page. That's one source of tangible proof. Bringing up Sugar to the metaphorical witness stand to give her witness testimony for Behemoth would also work to support that theory. The more evidence we can bring to bear the more solid our argument becomes.

>What do we have to lose for trying something different? That's the simple beauty of trying something different. Either it works or it doesn't.

>>5211537
Also, goddammit Bhop, this encounter has taken a turn for the strange and is not unlike the recent side story that I published in the previous vein. This feels like part of an ace attorney segment where we have a bunch of clues that we've gathered throughout the entire quest and now we're presenting evidence before "Judge Behemoth" in order to object to his ornery assumption of needing to continue the cycle asap.
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>>5211620
(I'd had this aspect of things planned for a while, since I have both a combat and conversation avenues open for each confrontation, with various factors effecting both. Now that you mention it, it *does* feel like a court case...albeit with a judge that is a hair's breadth of frustration away from a meltdown.)
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>>5211641
This almost reminds me of a certain wandering judge. But in Shu's case, we're a fool of a client and am lacking an attorney to be an ass of. Although Shu does have a wonderful ass as Gina could attest to.
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>>5211644
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>>5211535
>>Write-In
>Send a swarmling to get the Void Orrery.

>"The main reason I believe this is because I've spoken with your father. He didn't explain his plan, I will admit. But he didn't have time to. We only spoke briefly, when an interaction with his Fragments allowed a small moment of contact. I had just rejected a power that would let me take control of others, even you and your siblings. And he wanted to know why I'd give up such a huge advantage. He was happy to learn that it was against what I believed in, and that there were lines I wouldn't cross in the name of power. He wished me luck, and said he looked forward to seeing me at the top. After that, I can't believe that your father's plans for the Crucible involve the same all-consuming conqueror the rest of his people want. You're a Neuromancer, yes? Will you let me share this memory with you?"

>"And even those who haven't met your father have noticed something unusual about the Crucible. Dig deep enough into the fleshscape, or ascend the Cord, and you start getting visions. Information, hidden inside the Crucible's structure, describing a 'Mother of All'. Some being that will end the Crucibles. The visions don't explain how, but they are clear on this: The Mother of All is not the same thing as someone who climbs the Cord and takes the throne for themselves. They're something different. And these visions are repeatable, verifiable, not just a single mind's hallucination. I have the journals of a woman who saw these visions, and I know another who could vouch for having had the same without ever contacting the first. And we could always go dig down together and see them for ourselves."

>"Also, while this isn't proof, I'd like to propose something: You said you'd take a certainty over a theory. But do you actually have a certainty? What makes you think that ending this cycle and proceeding to the next one will find the solution? Think of how many cycles just this one iteration of the Crucible has gone through, without success. Now account for all the other strains floating around the galaxy...
>Turn on the Void Orrery in galactic view.
>"It seems to me like a new tactic is required. Something different than the path the Crucible pushes its host species to walk. Maybe it's the right way, and they've all just screwed it up, billions and billions of times. But if that's the case, if there's no guarantee that we or the next cycle or any of the ones after that will succeed, if it's all one big gamble anyway...well, what do you have to lose by trying something new? Worst case scenario, we fail and you get your wish when someone else climbs the Cord. Best case, we finally break out of this pattern."

Okay, I fleshed it out a bit in places. What do you think, other voters?
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>>5211651
It's good, now I've made some edits in your response to make it less..wordy?

>"For one thing, Behemoth, I've spoken with your father, twice. Albeit briefly, as he couldn't slip his shackles long. He didn't have the time to explain his plans, true. But he did ask me about my motivations, asked me why I would forsake an ability that would have brought the three of you to heel with naught but a word. He was happy with my answer upon learning that I didn't seek power for power's sake. He doesn't want an all-consuming conqueror, not like all the rest of his species does. I know you're a Neuromancer, would you let me share this memory?"

>If that isn't enough to convince you, lets look at other pieces of evidence. As your father dissented among his peers but had a direct hand in the Crucible's creation, your father had to leave clues and hints to his ulterior motives while he worked under the supervision of his peers. A series of clues and messages hidden within the code of the Crucible itself. Dig deep enough into the fleshscape, or ascend the Cord, and you start getting visions. Information, hidden inside the Crucible's structure, describing a 'Mother of All'. Some being that will end the Crucibles."

>"The visions don't explain how, but they are clear on this: The Mother of All is not the same thing as someone who climbs the Cord and takes the throne for themselves. They're something different. And these visions are repeatable, verifiable, not just a single mind's hallucination. I have the journals of a woman who saw these visions, and I know another who could vouch for having had the same without ever contacting the first. If that is not enough to convince you, we could always go dig down together and see the other buried secrets your father has hidden for ourselves. The clues your father has hidden is there. All it takes to uncover them is a little digging and knowing where to find it."

"Now, you said you'd take a certainty over a theory. But do you actually have a certainty? What makes you think that ending this cycle and proceeding to the next one will find the solution? Think of how many cycles just this one iteration of the Crucible has gone through, without success. Now account for all the other strains floating around the galaxy...
>Turn on the Void Orrery in galactic view.
>"It seems to me like a new tactic is required. Something different than the path the Crucible pushes its host species to walk. Maybe it's the right way, and they've all just screwed it up, billions and billions of times. But if that's the case, if there's no guarantee that we or the next cycle or any of the ones after that will succeed, if it's all one big gamble anyway...well, what do you have to lose by trying something new? Worst case scenario, we fail and you get your wish when someone else climbs the Cord. Best case, we finally break out of this pattern."

how this?
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>>5211680
Yeah, that's good. I'm struggling with my desire to explain things clashing with the need to keep things from getting too wordy and annoying Behemoth.
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>>5211535
>"For one thing, Behemoth, I've spoken with your father, twice. Albeit briefly, as he couldn't slip his shackles long. He didn't have the time to explain his plans, true. But he did ask me about my motivations, asked me why I would forsake an ability that would have brought the three of you to heel with naught but a word. He was happy with my answer upon learning that I didn't seek power for power's sake. He doesn't want an all-consuming conqueror, not like all the rest of his species does. I know you're a Neuromancer, would you let me share this memory to you as proof?"

>"If that isn't enough, then lets look at other pieces of evidence. As your father dissented among his peers but had a direct hand in the Crucible's creation, he would've had to leave clues to signal his ulterior motives while he worked under supervision of his peers. A series of clues and messages hidden within the code of the Crucible itself. Dig deep enough into the fleshscape, or ascend the Cord, and you start getting visions. Information, hidden inside the Crucible's structure, describing a 'Mother of All'. Some being that will end the Crucibles."

>"The visions don't explain how, but they are clear on this: The Mother of All is not the same thing as someone who climbs the Cord and takes the throne for themselves. They're something different. And these visions are repeatable, verifiable, not just a single mind's hallucination. I have the journals of a woman who saw these visions, and I know another who could vouch for having had the same without ever contacting the first. If that is not enough to convince you, we could always go dig down together and see the other buried secrets your father has hidden for ourselves. The clues your father has hidden is there. All it takes to uncover them is a little digging and knowing where to find it."

>"Now, you said you'd take a certainty over a theory. But do you actually have a certainty? What makes you think that ending this cycle and proceeding to the next one will find the solution? Think of how many cycles just this one iteration of the Crucible has gone through, without success. Now account for all the other strains floating around the galaxy...

>Bring out the Void Orrery, activate it for all to see expand to galactic view.

>"It seems to me we need to try something else to fulfill the Crucible's purpose. Something different than the path the Crucible pushes its host species to walk. Maybe it's the right way, and they've all just screwed it up, billions and billions of times. But if that's the case, if there's no guarantee that we or the next cycle or any of the ones after that will succeed, if it's all one big gamble anyway...well, what do you have to lose by trying something new? Worst case scenario, we fail and you get your wish when someone else climbs the Cord. Best case, we finally break out of this pattern. Simple as that."

(cont.)
>>
>>5211691
>>5211535

>You asked me for proof to give weight to my words. And here it is, right in front of us. Testimonies, memories, evidence. What say you Behemoth? Do you have evidence to back up yours?
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>>5211535
>>5211532
>>5211641

The more I re-read Behemoth's dialogue, the more I see Behemoth's desperation. He's angry he's frustrated, he want's to know if he's a good boi, but the silence is maddening and it's hurting him more than the damage he inflicts upon others. I could almost even read it as if he's within a single step of frustration before turning into a mountain-sized ball of sadness bawling and crying literal rivers as well as crying his heart out, but refuses to let go of his anger because doing so would reveal all that sadness he's bottled up for so long.

He's kinda like a mountain sized Kratos in sort of a sad way. Exhaustively angry, perpetually so, when all that anger runs out it just turns sad.
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>>5211532
Like it also makes sense too. The moment we name-drop Behemoth's father he goes from angry to shocked, and instantly tries to probe Shu for questions, even willing to be a little more patient to see if Shu can provide evidence to hold weight to her words, being even willing to let Shu interrupt his rumblings on the off-chance that she reveals more about his father.
>>
(I'm afraid I'll have to push the next update to 2PM tomorrow, Eastern time on account of the meetings thatve been frontloaded for tomorrow morning. Thus, I'll crack open voting for the next few hours to allow for any adjustments or late votes that may come in.)
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>>5211712
Yeah, it seems pretty clear that he just wants...something. He doesn't even know what he wants, he just wants anything that would vindicate his actions, prove that it's all worth it in the end and that his existence hasn't been one big cosmic joke guarding over a series of failed experiments as he and his siblings and his dad he hasn't heard from in literal ages all slowly decay away. But he can't just say that, because he's supposed to be the tough sibling, he can't come right out and admit to weakness.

Really, I think that all of the Apocalypse Amalgams are a little handicapped by the roles they're expected to play within the family. Leviathan is the smart one, and so doesn't know how to talk to their siblings because they can't admit to not knowing something or actually ask questions instead of making assumptions. Behemoth is the driven one, and so can't ever show the vulnerability or fear needed to really bond with someone and have a real conversation. And Ziz is the innocent one, and has trouble getting taken seriously or treated with respect, because her innocence either needs to be protected or disqualifies her from having a real opinion.

Come to think of it, that's probably why Ziz bonded with Amara so immediately, when any bonding Leviathan or Behemoth might exhibit haven't shown yet. We treated Ziz seriously. Someone who might lack context for some things, but wasn't stupid for it, and deserved to be informed of what she needed to know to form an opinion. It makes sense that she'd open up to and become loyal to us for that.
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>>5211804
Well then that would make looking for the signs of character development more simple. For behemoth, its him being comfortable with showing vulnerabilities and emotions. Even a single tear of joy or sadness and him not being ashamed about it would be enough. A big guy with a soft heart who's afraid of giving or receiving hugs. As for Levi, it would be him coming up with the nerve to answer a question with "I don't know." or even asking someone else a question.

A thought...all of this interactions and how they behave really makes the trio to be rather...I dunno...like children? Triplets who are in dire need of a parental figure.

But back to our write-ins. Any thoughts on letting Behemoth and Ziz on contacting their father through the Entropograph experiment? We'll have to convince Levi to assent to the plan, but the mere thought/gesture of the trio being able to check up on their father's health would be enough to boost their spirits.
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>>5211812
>A thought...all of this interactions and how they behave really makes the trio to be rather...I dunno...like children? Triplets who are in dire need of a parental figure.
Actually, how old are they? Like, in lived time. They've been around since the Crucibles were made, but they only get woken up when something's a world-ending threat to the system, which they end quickly. They might actually be children, still. Obviously, a giant super-monster isn't going to mature at the same rate a human does, but I would not be surprised if they each have less than two decades of lived experience. Huh.

>But back to our write-ins. Any thoughts on letting Behemoth and Ziz on contacting their father through the Entropograph experiment? We'll have to convince Levi to assent to the plan, but the mere thought/gesture of the trio being able to check up on their father's health would be enough to boost their spirits.
I want to see more of how Behemoth reacts to this, first. If he shows willingness to listen and calms down, and reassures me that having a concrete sense of his father's health won't make him act rashly to move forward, then I think we should bring him in. Otherwise, we might want to leave him out. Like you said, we need to check his willingness to be vulnerable. As for Ziz, I'm fine with her listening in. I think we should respect her to be able to handle it. Convincing Leviathan of that might be tricky, but maybe she can make her own case for her big sibling to take her seriously.
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>>5211535

"For one thing, Behemoth—I've spoken with your father. Twice.” You declare, and Behemoth’s gargantuan frame shudders with shock before he takes two thunderous stomps towards you.

“WHEN?” He bellows, and with another stamp of his hooves; “HOW?! WHAT DID HE SAY?!”

“It was brief, as he couldn't slip his shackles long.” You explain slowly, refusing to get caught up in Behemoth’s sudden and frantic urgency. “He didn't have the time to explain his plans, but he did ask me about my motivations, asked me why I would forsake an ability that would have brought the three of you to heel with naught but a word.”

“AND?!” Behemoth snarls, and you just give him a soft, simple smile.

“He was happy with my answer upon learning that I didn't seek power for power's sake. He doesn't want an all-consuming conqueror, not like all the rest of his species does. I know you're a Neuromancer, so would you let me share this memory to you as proof?"

Behemoth opens his mouth to reply, then closes it, his seven legs shuffling in place for a moment as he considers your offer…and while he does, you decide to sweeten the deal.

"If that isn't enough, then let’s look at other pieces of evidence.” You continue. “As your father dissented among his peers but had a direct hand in the Crucible's creation, he would've left clues to signal his ulterior motives while he worked under supervision of his peers. A series of clues and messages hidden within the code of the Crucible itself. Dig deep enough into the fleshscape, or ascend the Cord, and you start getting visions. Information, hidden inside the Crucible's structure, describing a 'Mother of All'. Some being that will end the Crucibles."

“ABSURD.” The titan counters. “HOW is such a thing even POSSIBLE?”

"The visions don't explain how, but they are clear on this: The Mother of All is not the same thing as someone who climbs the Cord and takes the throne for themselves. They're something different. And these visions are repeatable, verifiable, and not just a single mind's hallucination. I have the journals of a woman who saw these visions, and I know another who could vouch for having had the same without ever contacting the first. If that is not enough to convince you, we could always go dig down together and see the other buried secrets your father has hidden for ourselves. The clues your father has hidden is there. All it takes to uncover them is a little digging and knowing where to find it."

Behemoth casts an eyeless glance at his feet, appearing to genuinely consider the possibility of tunneling down right here and now before you keep the pressure on. "Now, you said you'd take a certainty over a theory. But do you actually have a ‘certainty’? What makes you think that ending this cycle and proceeding to the next one will find the solution?”

(Continued)
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>>5212579

“You DOUBT my Father’s CREATION?!”

“On the contrary—I doubt the monsters that forced him to make it.” You reply coolly. “Think of how many cycles just this one iteration of the Crucible has gone through, without success. Now account for all the other strains floating around the galaxy...”


On cue Rath extends the Void Orrery, the star map springing to life at your touch. Rising it high, with a thought it expands before your eyes, a sea of scarlet dots flooring your and Behemoth’s vision.

“This…these are OTHER…” He stammers.

“Currently active Crucibles, yes.” You confirm with a small nod. “Just in our galaxy, and yet none of them have found a solution that suits whatever qualifications that your father’s peers forced him to code? It seems to me we need to try something else to fulfill the Crucible's purpose.”

“Like WHAT?”

“Something different than the path the Crucible pushes its host species to walk. Maybe it's the right way, and they've all just screwed it up, billions and billions of times.” You admit with a shrug. “But if that's the case, if there's no guarantee that we or the next cycle or any of the ones after that will succeed, if it's all one big gamble anyway...well, what do you have to lose by trying something new? Worst case scenario, we fail and you get your wish when someone else climbs the Cord. Best case, we finally break out of this pattern. Simple as that."

The star map flickers and fades as you take yet another step forward. “You asked me for proof to give weight to my words. And here it is, right in front of us. Testimonies, memories, evidence. What say you, Behemoth? Do you have evidence to back up yours?”

You have to admit, you expected that last part to be answered with a stomp, or maybe another growled threat. Instead, Behemoth’s frame goes stock still, his skin fluctuating and twitching as prey animals suddenly dominate the landscape of his flesh. Their faces are stretched to the breaking point, and you catch glimpses of wide eyes and mouths agape, each one caught in a voiceless scream.

“Brother?” Ziz offers, as soft as the titan can manage as she leans towards her silent sibling. “Brother are you-“

“I’m THINKING!” He barks, rounding on you as his skin shifts yet again to s sea of snarling, predatory jaws. “I…memories can DECAY. LIE. DECIEVE. The word of your KIND is HARDLY enough to-“

“What if she could contact him again?” Ziz suddenly asks, and when Behemoth freezes again, his skin follows suit. Rath makes a small sound of confusion, and you turn to see her shaking her head, waving off your concern as she squeezes her eyes shut and Ziz tilts to of her seven bird-like heads down to look at you. “Do you think we could? We could ask him directly! That would solve everything!”

(Continued)
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>>5212582

“NO.” Behemoth says, though the single syllable lacks the bite that was in his other statements up to this point. “ No, there’s NO guarantee it would-“

“But you want proof, Behemoth! “ Ziz insists. “Shu has gobs of it, but you don’t trust her! So you want something more, and we can give it to you!”

There’s no guarantee you’d be able to replicate the event that pulled you kicking and screaming into their creator’s line of eldritch sight, and with all three siblings here? It might be worth a shot, but revealing Leviathan’s presence could cause bigger problems given Behemoth’s vitriol. Would Levy even be able to remain hidden and ‘listen in’ in the event you succeeded in making a collect call to the Crucible’s creator?

All these questions and more swirl in your head as Ziz and Behemoth bicker, and all the while Rath’s brow is knit in a discomfort that she can’t seem to explain. Leaning closer, you ask under your breath; “Rath, are you-“

“Yeah man, I’m fine, I just…” She whispers back, struggling to find the words to express the feeling that’s overtaken her. “it feels like I’m on the verge of a fuckin’ panic attack. I mean, I’m *ready* to throw down, but…it’s the weirdest shit. Just came on all of a sudden.”

“FINE!” Behemoth snarls, snapping you back to the siblings’ conversation just in time for him to thrust his jagged snout in your general direction. “SHOW me your PROOF.”

“What exactly do you want me to-“ You begin, only to have behemoth impatiently cut you off.

“I TIRE of this! SHOW me this proof you CLAIM to have.” He bellows. “I do not CARE what you have. Just SHOW me!”

>>Try to reach out to his father through Fragments…though let’s keep it to just Behemoth and Ziz. No need to let Leviathan’s presence be known until absolutely necessary…

>>Three titans, one stone—try to reach out to the Creator with Ziz, Behemoth, and Leviathan on the line.

>>Press for Behemoth to explore your own memories with his Neuromancy, to show him that you speak the truth.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in four.)
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>>5212585
Hoo, this is tricky. Neuromancy is probably the most likely to succeed, but also the least likely for Behemoth to be satisfied. Reaching out through the Fragments could backfire if we do it haphazardly, so we should probably get Leviathan to help with their plan, but them suddenly showing up would definitely anger Behemoth. I'm not sure what to do.
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>>5212585
>All these questions and more swirl in your head as Ziz and Behemoth bicker, and all the while Rath’s brow is knit in a discomfort that she can’t seem to explain. Leaning closer, you ask under your breath; “Rath, are you-“

>“Yeah man, I’m fine, I just…” She whispers back, struggling to find the words to express the feeling that’s overtaken her. “it feels like I’m on the verge of a fuckin’ panic attack. I mean, I’m *ready* to throw down, but…it’s the weirdest shit. Just came on all of a sudden.”

Well then. Rath's getting ready to attune.

Also Behemoth's just begging for physical proof. Nothing less than direct contact with his father would do.

>“I…memories can DECAY. LIE. DECIEVE. The word of your KIND is HARDLY enough to-“
Showing him our Neuromantic memories would serve well but he's already declared that he isn't one to trust memories.

>>5212585

>To Rath: You're attuning to Behemoth like how Amara attuned to Ziz. It's like a pseudo-crimson cord. Use that feeling to your advantage and try to relate to Behemoth, make sure he keeps his head cool while I bring Levi up to speed. Behemoth and Levi's got some bad blood between them, but for everyone's sake get him to relate how you feel with Isabelle.
vote:
>When Leviathan shows his mug, immediately establish the pecking order, make it clear to Behemoth that Leviathan is the one who asked us for help.
>Work with Rath to find common ground with Behemoth and have the two brothers settle their differences for the sake of their father.

>Gather All fragment holders, bring up the Sparagmos engine if need be to replicate the event. The more Fragments present in the same area, the more power available to attempt for the ritual for the Apocalypse Trio to contact their father.
>Fragment of Hope to provide the power, it is the biggest of the fragments that we have
>Jackie's Fragment of Space, the vorpal knife to open the way
>Tailor's Fragment of Time, to extend the time needed for the three siblings to make the most of the brief window
>Shu's Fragment of Stability, the Silver bell to maintain the ritual.

>Three titans, one stone.

>>5212608
If we're to use the Fragments with Leviathan's help we need to establish the pecking order. Levi's verbosity will no doubt irk Behemoth. If we do have Levi show up, we need to put forth that Levi was the one who asked Shu for help. Levi can't do this by himself because he lacked the means to do so, and we also need to have Levi both apologize and admit in Behemoth's face of his short comings. Rath's also in the process of attuning with Behemoth.
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>>5212629
Oh, yeah, duh. Behemoth just said that he doesn't trust the veracity of memory, because his own are fading. He wouldn't go for the Neuromantic solution at all, would he? So yeah, it's Fragment resonance or nothing. Well, okay, "dig deep underground so Behemoth can read the Mother of All data" is a third possibility, but probably not a practical one right now.

So if we're going to bring Leviathan into this, we need something to keep Behemoth occupied while we explain to Leviathan and get them onboard. I doubt he'll take the delay gracefully, so we need a visible indicator that we're working towards this. We should at least bring forward the Fragments in advance, so he can see us assembling the tools.
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>>5212652
Well I had a thought, given how I took note that the trio are like children? Well why don't we step in and adopt that stern parent tone? Right now, all three siblings are looking towards us to solve the situation. Behemoth wants proof, Levi wants to contact dad, Ziz wants everyone to get along but is also ready for a fight. But none of them have had the experience of a stern parent take a proactive stance in "parenting." In this central moment, all three are looking towards Shu for a voice of authority and direction. This also gives us the authority to help establish a solution that will settle their differences and any squabbles too.

>I doubt he'll take the delay gracefully, so we need a visible indicator that we're working towards this. We should at least bring forward the Fragments in advance, so he can see us assembling the tools.

Lets make the call to bring forward the fragments. All the fragments.
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>>5212652
Leviathan's already present in the scene. the sign of his presence was the river going absolutely still. It's just that he's trying to bank on us to word-smith our way to convincing Behemoth to stand down, but because he hasn't shown his mug, now we're put in this awkward position where we're about to do the fragment ritual without him but he's afraid to show his mug because of the bad blood between him and behemoth.
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>>5212680
Yeah, I can see that. We don't have the authority to threaten them, but we do have authority as giving them the emotional security they're looking for. We can take a sterner, more commanding tone with them, I think. Not entirely a position of authority, but less cowed by the giant fang-monster.

>>5212691
Yeah, that's my problem. We're going to need to convince them to help, and they really don't want to show their face unless they have to.

>>5212585
>>Write-In
>"Alright. I'll try to reproduce the event that let me contact your father. But we're going to take precautions, first. I doubt this is without risk, for either us or him, because if it was then he'd speak more often. I'm going to call on some allies who I think can help. Give me a moment."
>Call Gina to have someone bring the Hope Fragment forward, do this first to assure Behemoth we're not wasting his time.
>Have Rath monitor Behemoth's situation while we negotiate and set this up. She appears to be resonating with him, hopefully that will give her some insight into Behemoth's mood.
>Call Jackie and Tailor, ask them for their help in opening and stabilizing a connection with their own Fragments. This is a risk, but it's less of one working together, and we'd appreciate their help.
>Call Leviathan and ask them to take part in this. We know that they said that they wanted to keep their experiment separate from Behemoth. That they believed that knowing their father's fate would only make him more angry and despondent. But from how it looks right now, not knowing is leaving him just as raging. At least this way he has the potential to act on reason instead of emotion. He can't think if he has nothing to think on. They need to trust their brother to be able to make a decision.
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>>5212585

>To Rath: You're resonating with Behemoth like how Amara attuned to Ziz. It's like a pseudo-crimson cord. Use that feeling to your advantage and try keep behemoth calm, make sure he keeps his head cool while I bring Levi up to speed.

>To Behemoth: There is a way, we can bring it up right here and now, and contact your father. I can't replicate the exact scenario so we're going for the next best thing. This requires gathering fragments, daughters who have resonated with said fragments and you 'three'. Given our circumstances, this can only work once. But we only need it to work once. Which makes things simple."

>Take note of the river's absolute stillness. Get irked in the sense that the giant wyrm has done nothing to help stop the sibling squabble while we've been doing much of the legwork.
>Take on the mantle of a stern parent. You really wish you wouldn't have to show this side in front of Ziz or Amara but this is a necessary moment.
>When Leviathan shows his mug call Leviathan out on any excuses that he makes, re-establish the ground facts and establish the pecking order.
>Extract an apology and an admission from Leviathan in front of Behemoth for acting like this.
>If Leviathan gets verbose, cut him off and establish the "ten word-sentence rule" like how their father did to us when he asked us about our motivations.

>"Leviathan, how long do you plan on slinking under the water's surface while your siblings are a hairs breadth to coming to blows amidst their squabble? I thought you were the responsible one of the three."
>"No Excuses, Levi! You came to me for help with contacting your father, you've put me in this position."

>"Are you afraid of Behemoth's temperament and have simply assumed as nothing but a perpetually angry brother? Because here and now, it is clear that he is capable of rationality, capable of THINKING."
>"And from what I could tell just from conversing with your brother he isn't perpetually angry for no reason. He's angry because he's scared. He misses your father just as much as you do, but given his role, he doesn't know what to do except be perpetually angry. And because of that assumption, that bond between you and your brother has become strained."
>"There is a way to mend the strained bond between you and Behemoth."
>"All you simply need to do is to apologize to your brother."
>"It doesn't have to be a big speech. I'm just as verbose as you and even I managed to give a coherent answer when your father asked me about what I'd do with power in ten words or less!"
>"'Behemoth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for having misjudged you.' That's all it takes."
>"I've done much of the physical and verbal legwork to get your brother to agree to this, and if you can't bear the responsibility to both apologize to Behemoth and settle your differences between you and him, then there goes your one and only chance."

>>5212723
Thoughts on this? Too stern?
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>>5212752
>>5212585

addint this addendum to my vote with this addition:

>Look, I get that from a rational standpoint you believed that knowing their father's fate would only make him more angry and despondent, But from how it looks right now, not knowing is leaving him just as raging in aimless direction. At least this way when he knows about what's going on with his father, he has the potential to act on reason instead of emotion. He'll have a focus, a direction to guide his power. A reason to remain calm. A reason to trust you. They need to trust their brother to be able to make a decision. He can't think if he has nothing to think on. And without your guidance, Behemoth as he is right now is what you get.
>Leviathan, your brother needs your guidance. You need his power.

And editing:
>"All you simply need to do is to apologize to your brother."
>"It doesn't have to be a big speech. I'm just as verbose as you and even I managed to give a coherent answer when your father asked me about what I'd do with power in ten words or less!"
>"'Behemoth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for having misjudged you.' That's all it takes."
to
>"All you simply need to do is to apologize to your brother and ask for help with this."
>"It doesn't have to be a big speech. I'm just as verbose as you and even I managed to give a coherent answer when your father asked me about what I'd do with power in ten words or less!"
>"'Behemoth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for having misjudged you. I need your help.' That's all it takes."
>>
>>5212752
>Thoughts on this? Too stern?
A little, yeah. I mean, we asked Leviathan to hang back while we opened the conversation, it would be hypocritical to scold them for not coming forward yet. We can lean into that more gently, say "Leviathan, this would be a good time for you to show up" and then chastise them some if they're still hesitant. And I don't like that part at the end, the "I've done so much work to get you here and you can't even take the responsibility?" part, that's too much of a guilt trip for me. We don't want to make Leviathan feel too bad about this, you can't humble the proud too quickly or it just makes them resentful.
>>
>>5212752
>>5212585

replacing this part of the vote
>"Leviathan, how long do you plan on slinking under the water's surface while your siblings are a hairs breadth to coming to blows amidst their squabble? I thought you were the responsible one of the three."
>"No Excuses, Levi! You came to me for help with contacting your father, you've put me in this position."
with
>"Leviathan, this would be a good time for you to show up"

and removing
>"I've done much of the physical and verbal legwork to get your brother to agree to this, and if you can't bear the responsibility to both apologize to Behemoth and settle your differences between you and him, then there goes your one and only chance."

>>5212782
thanks for the feedback, any other thoughts?
>>
>>5212789
>thanks for the feedback, any other thoughts?
I think it looks good, though one crucial thought does occur: How much of this is being said out loud where Behemoth can hear it? Because I'm just thinking, the whole "he's not angry for no reason, he's angry because he's lost" bit wouldn't definitely trigger Behemoth's issues about appearing strong. We should have most if not all of this be by FuzzBuzz phone direct to Leviathan's mind. Like, maybe the bit where we say that Leviathan needs to acknowledge that Behemoth isn't just a brute can be out loud, but that's the only bit I'd say where Behemoth can hear it.
>>
>>5212585

>>5212789
>>5212780
>>5212752
>>5212629
Disregard my previous vote edits. below is my final version of my write-in vote:

>Three titans, one stone—try to reach out to the Creator with Ziz, Behemoth, and Leviathan on the line.

>To Rath: You're resonating with Behemoth like how Amara attuned to Ziz. It's like a pseudo-crimson cord. Use that feeling to your advantage and try keep behemoth calm, make sure he keeps his head cool while I bring Levi up to speed.

>To Behemoth: There is a way, we can contact your father directly through his fragments. We already have one here. We have others close by that we can gather shortly. The more fragments present, the better our chances at getting a good connection. But we're going to take precautions, first. I doubt this is without risk, for either us or him, because if it was then he'd speak more often. I'm going to call on some allies who I think can help. Give me a moment."

>Call through the comms get all the Fragments forward for the ritual.
>Contact Leviathan through the Fuzzbuzz. Hold the conversation on a private channel.
>Take on the mantle of a stern parent.

>"Leviathan, this would be a good time for you to show up."
>"Are you afraid of Behemoth's temperament and have simply assumed as nothing but a perpetually angry brother? Because here and now, it is clear that he is capable of rationality, capable of THINKING."
>"From what I could tell just from conversing with your brother he isn't perpetually angry for no reason. He's angry because he's scared. He misses your father just as much as you do, but given his role, he doesn't know what to do except be perpetually and aimlessly angry."
>Look, I get that from a rational standpoint you assumed that knowing their father's fate would only make him more angry and despondent, But from how it looks right now, not knowing just as bad. At least by knowing about what's going on with his father, he has the potential to act on reason instead of emotion. He'll have a focus, a direction to guide his power. A reason to remain calm. A reason to trust you. They need to trust their brother to be able to make a decision. He can't think if he has nothing to think on. And without your guidance, Behemoth as he is right now is what you get."
>"And because of that, that bond between you and your brother has become strained."
>"There is a way to mend the strained bond between you and Behemoth."
>"All you simply need to do is to apologize to your brother and ask for help with this."
>"It doesn't have to be a big speech. I'm just as verbose as you and even I managed to give a coherent answer when your father asked me about what I'd do with power in ten words or less!"
>"Just say: 'Behemoth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for having misjudged you.' That's all it takes."
>>
>>5212827
(Understood, thank you for the clean edits and the linking, I really appreciate it!)
>>
And I have to leave for work. Be back in around 6 hours. I hope the write-in is good enough for the next update.
>>
>>5212827
Looks good.

>>5212832
See you later, anon. Have a nice day.
>>
>>5212832
(Have a good shift!)
>>
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>>5212585

Three titans, one stone—it’s time to reach out to the Creator with Ziz, Behemoth, and Leviathan on the line.


“Very well…give me a moment, and I’ll get you the proof you’re asking for.” You say to the land-bound titan, and to your considerable surprise, he relents. Taking a step back, the ground thunders underfoot as you turn to the red head at your side.

“That panic attack you just mentioned? I think you're resonating with Behemoth like how Amara attuned to Ziz. It's like a…pseudo-crimson cord, in a way.” You explain, the other girl’s eyebrows shooting up in alarm. “Now, you may be able to use that feeling to your advantage.”

She blinks.

“How in the shit is me mind-melding with a fuckin’ mountain ‘gonna help us, my dude?”

“By making sure he keeps his head cool while I bring Levi up to speed.” You reply, and her eyes go even wider.

“So…you’re asking *me* to keep him calm?” She repeats. “Me?”


“Pretty much, yeah.” You affirm with an assured nod. “You’re the only one I can trust to actually meet him on level ground.”

Rath just rolls her shoulders, cracks her neck, then claps you on one shoulder with a grin. “We’ve come a long way, Shu. Wish me luck.”

“Nah…you’ve always made your own.” You fire back with a wink, and she chuckles as you turn back to Behemoth.

“There is a way, we can contact your father directly through his fragments.” You start to explain. “We already have one here. We have others close by that we can gather shortly. The more fragments present, the better our chances at getting a good connection. But we're going to take precautions, first. I doubt this is without risk, for either us or him, because if it was then he'd speak more often. I'm going to call on some allies who I think can help, so give me a moment."


“If this is yet ANOTHER absurd attempt to STALL for TIME, then YOU-“ He roars until Rath strides past you, calling out to the mountain above her.

“Yo, big guy! Name’s Rath! I got a couple questions for you while the boss lady patches us through!”

He rounds on her with no small measure of indignation. “You DARE to-“

“Yeah, I do! I hate standing around while everyone else does technical shit. Don’t you?” She interrupts, planting her hands on her hips with that same cock-sure grin. “Anyway, you’ve seen your fair share of scraps, yeah? You got a favorite?”

“Favorite?” Behemoth echoes, put on the back foot by a being a fraction of his size.

“Yeah, man! A favorite fight! I got this one, not too far from here-“

Not the tactic you’d have tried, but it seems to be working, regardless—and with Behemoth sufficiently distracted for the moment, you make the announcement of your plan across the Commlings. Francine and November are promptly in route with the Hope Fragment, while Jackie and Tinker Tailor begin to converge on your location as you open up a private channel to Leviathan.

(Continued)
>>
>>5212965

"Leviathan, this would be a good time for you to show up." You say sternly, casting a pointed glance at the too-still waters of the river to your left.

“YOUR LIFE WAS HARDLY IN MORTAL PERIL.” Levy replies, adding; “AND I’M NOT SURE IF YOU NOTICED, BUT MY BROTHER WOULD HARDLY BE PLEASED TO SEE ME IN HIS CURRENT STATE.”

"Are you afraid of Behemoth's temperament and have simply assumed as nothing but a perpetually angry brother?” You counter irritably. “Because here and now, it is very clear that he’s capable of rationality, capable of THINKING."

“OH~?” Leviathan hums, and they’re somehow capable of infusing a single syllable with almost as much of a patronizing tone as Doctor West packs in a typical sentence.

"From what I could tell just from conversing with your brother, he isn't perpetually angry for no reason.” You continue. “He's angry because he's scared. He misses your father just as much as you do, but given his role, he doesn't know what to do except be perpetually and aimlessly angry."

“I’D MUCH RATHER HIS ANGER BE AIMLESS, DEFIANT.” Levy fires back. “I’VE BORNE WITNESS TO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HIS RAGE IS LASER-FOCUSED. I’VE MERELY HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE OF MY DEAR BROTHER TYPICALLY POINTING IT IN THE RIGHT AND OBVIOUS DIRECTION—I’VE NO CLUE WHAT CONCLUSIONS HE’LL DRAW IF HE WERE TO LEARN OF OUR FATHER’S IMPENDING FATE.”

“Look, I get that from a rational standpoint you assumed that knowing that would only make him angrier and more despondent.” You sigh, casting Behemoth a glance to find him engaging Rath in a debate he appears to be…enjoying, with some reluctance. “But from how it looks right now, ‘not knowing’ is just as bad. At least by knowing about what's going on with his father, he has the potential to act on reason instead of emotion. He'll have a focus, a direction to guide his power. Not a reason to be angry, but a reason to remain calm. A reason to trust you. You need to trust your brother to be able to make a decision. He can't think if he has nothing to think on. And without your guidance, Behemoth as he is right now is what you get."

In the face of Leviathan’s protracted silence, you add. "And because of that, that bond between you and your brother has become strained."

“…AND WHAT, PRAY TELL, WOULD YOU HAVE ME DO TO MEND IT?”

"All you simply need to do is to apologize to your brother and ask for help with this."

The sudden explosion of laughter from the other end of the line knits a scowl across your forehead, and you try to keep your voice as level as you continue. "It doesn't have to be a big speech. I'm just as verbose as you and even I managed to give a coherent answer when your father asked me about what I'd do with power in ten words or less! Just say: 'Behemoth, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for having misjudged you.' That's all it takes."

(Continued)
>>
>>5212969

“IF I WERE WRONG ABOUT MY BROTHER, THEN THAT WOULD BE A SIMPLE ASK…BUT I’M NOT, SO IT ISN’T.” Leviathan replies coldly.

Fine. If they want to play it that way…

“it’s either that, or Ziz and Behemoth play ball and connect to your father without you.” You declare, drawing yet another verbal line in the sand.

“YOU WOULDN’T DARE.”

“You said it yourself—you can’t resonate with the Fragments like I or your siblings can. The way I see it, you have two options here; do what it takes to make a temporary peace with your brother and see whether your theory is true or not, or else sit this one out and potentially lose out on your shot.”

“ZIZ WOULD HELP ME.” Leviathan petulantly snaps. “IT WOULD BE A SIMPLE MATTER FOR HER TO-“

“Would she?” You interrupt, calling the titan’s bluff. “Seems to me she’s standing her ground against Behemoth today…I’m going to take a guess and say that’s a novelty for this particular cycle. If she’s standing up to Behemoth, how do you think your chances fare?”

A moment of silence, and then-

“…IT SEEMS MY BROTHER’S NOT THE ONLY ONE DELIVERING HARSH ULTIMATIMS, TODAY.” Leviathan flatly declares, and after a moment more, adds; “VERY WELL.”

The river’s surface begins to solidify, the oily leather of Leviathan’s physical form taking shape as they rise from the depths, much to Behemoth’s alarm.

“YOU!” He bellows.

“ME.” Leviathan replies drolly, tilting towards Ziz. “IT’S BEEN, WHAT…TWO? THREE HUNDRED CYCLES, SINCE WE WERE LAST TOGETHER?”

“Two!” Ziz affirms with an audible smile, the excitement of having her family gathered in one spot briefly overshadowing the circumstances of the meeting.

“Too FEW.” Behemoth growls, glowering at his lithe sibling. “I knew this human REEKED of you. NOW I know WHY. Was it YOU who put her up to this RIDICULOUS stu-?!“

“THE DEFIANT HAS COME AS FAR AS SHE HAS THROUGH HER OWN MERIT AND THAT OF HER FAMILY.” Leviathan interjects, the river’s waves undulating around the titan’s coils. “HER DECISIONS ARE HER OWN—I AM, APPARENTLY, ALONG FOR THE RIDE.”

“You’ll get used to it!” Rath yells out with a grin.

“I HAVE NEITHER THE INCLINATION NOR THE PATIENCE TO ACCLIMATE TO YOUR FRIEND’S-.”

“Words, words, WORDS.” Behemoth barks, the seashores flanking Leviathan trembling with unuttered threats. “What are you HERE for, if not to WASTE more TIME with POINTLESS pontification?”

“BEHEMOTH?” Leviathan declares, taking a breath you’re fairly certain is more for dramatic effect than anything. “…I’M SORRY.”

“…what?”

Behemoth’s confused utterance hangs in the air for long enough that, for a fleeting moment, you fear Leviathan will be unable to swallow their pride for long enough to do what you know needs to be done, until-

“I AM SORRY I MISJUDGED YOU.” Leviathan finally chokes out. “NOW CAN WE GET ON WITH THIS, OR NOT?”

(Continued)
>>
>>5212972

“…No.” Behemoth growls, and your stomach drops as he prods his gnarled snout your way. “No, this is some sort of TRICK! SHE put you up to this, DIDN’T she!?”

“EXCUSE ME? YOU PRESUME I’D COW TO THE WHIMS OF A MERE DAUGHTER?” Leviathan fires back indignantly, utterly affronted at the accusation that is one-hundred-percent correct and wholly accurate. “HOW *DARE* YOU SPIT IN THE FACE OF MY VERACITY, WHEN WE HAVE THE CHANCE TO-“

“If it isn’t some LIE then it’s a USELESS theory from you!” Behemoth roars, jumping in place to round on his sibling with a quaking stomp. “Why ACT like you CARE about Father when all you’ve EVER done is IGNORE what he asked us to do and-!”

“ME?! AT LEAST I TAKE THE TIME TO CONSIDER WHAT’S ACTUALLY GOING ON INSTEAD OF BLINDLY FOLLOWING ORDERS YOU *BARELY* REMEM-“

“Enough!”

With a single impassioned word and a flap of seven gargantuan wings, Ziz silences her siblings…and it’s only after a moment of observation that you realize what she’s done to render them temporarily mute. The air around her siblings is distorted, catching the protests of her siblings before they can be hurled across to their intended victims.

“Enough, you two!” She repeats, four of her heads fixed on Leviathan, with the other three aimed squarely at Behemoth. “Look at what you're about to lose! How many chances have we gotten to speak with our Father in all our cycles? None! Zero! And here, Shu’s offering us that opportunity, no strings attached!”

Leviathan’s coils tighten, and Behemoth squares up until Ziz’s shoulders sag. “Can we just…not? Please? Just this once? Can we please just *do* this? If not for each other, then…then for the one we all care about?”

They’re quiet, at that…they have no choice, at least until a tired wave of Ziz’s wing dispels the barrier around her two siblings. A heavy silence settles, broken only when Leviathan turns to Behemoth with a sigh.

“IF YOU WILL NOT ACCEPT AN APOLOGY, THEN AT LEAST ACCEPT THIS…” They say with a low, humble bow.

“PLEASE, BEHEMOTH.” Levy says, without a trace of pride. “I WOULD LIKE TO SEE OUR FATHER. IF WE CAN ALIGN IN NOTHING ELSE, THEN LET US AT LEAST AGREE ON THAT.”

A tense few seconds, and then-

“…Fine.” He relents, tersely.

“Thank you, both. Truly.” Ziz says with no small amount of relief in her voice.

“SO, DEFIANT…” Leviathan addresses you as Jackie and Tinker Tailor approach.

“…HOW ARE WE DOING THIS?”

>>Ask Jeraha to pull in the last piece; the Sparagmos Engine you had her take to Laoc. Once it’s here, you’ll begin.

>>The last piece is a Forge Core…and with Snowbird nearby, she’ll be the conduit through which the ritual will take place.

>>You have what you need. Begin with what you have on hand, and hope for the best.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next twelve hours, with posting to resume tomorrow afternoon at 12PM, Eastern time. Thank you for your patience, participation, and kindness, and I wish you a restful evening one and all.)
>>
>>5212975
Whew, that was tense, but looks like Ziz is making it work. I love you, Ziz, you're the best...bird? I'm gonna go with bird, you're more avian than you are any of the other things mixed into you. Still, looks like we might have burned our relationship with Leviathan a bit, I hope they forgive us after this is all done with. You needed to do it, buddy, maybe you can come to realize that.

Right, so Sparagmos Engine or Forge Core? I think the Forge Core would have better odds. Our first contact with him was accidental via the Core, while the second time was him reaching out intentionally through the Sparagmos Engine. That suggests to me that it's easier to get to his plane of existence via the Cores, if we could do it by accident.

>>The last piece is a Forge Core…and with Snowbird nearby, she’ll be the conduit through which the ritual will take place.
>>Write-In
>With her consent, of course. If she's not up to it, we can rig up a different focus for the Forge Core, or even go without entirely. We've got four relevant Fragments here, it shouldn't be too bad.


>>5212976
Thanks for running, BHOP. See you tomorrow at noon.
>>
>>5212975
I'm wondering... is it possible to use both the Sparagmos Engine AND the Forge Core, to maximize our chances of success?
>>
>>5213179
Maybe. There are a lot of unknowns, here. I think the Fragments will do most of the heavy lifting anyway, given that if we're going for "things that channel the power of the Titans' father" you can't do much better than pieces of him. But adding in more tech designed to interface with him might help.

Actually, you know who would know? Charon. The Hexane built the Sparagmos Engines after studying the Crucible, and Charon was one of the greatest engineers of Crucible-derived technologies the Hexane had. Themis and Veilen could contribute, too, they were scientists with relevant disciplines (high-energy physics and biotechnology). Let's call them up, see what they know.
>>
>>5213179
(You certainly may! The votes I give are more general avenues of approach, and are far from exhaustive. Hence why I always add the write-in option, to allow for any approach to be voiced.)

>>5213203
(You certainly can, if you'd like.)
>>
Alright, how does this look?

>>Write-In
>Ask Jeraha to bring over the Sparagmos Engine we sent to Laoc.
>Put Leviathan in contact with our science peeps, have them explain what we know about the Hope Fragment. Also explain the known capabilities of the Silver Key, and if Jackie and Tailor are willing to take part, explain the Vorpal Knife and Time Fragment as well.
>Call up Charon as well as Themis and Veilen. Ask them what they know about how the Sparagmos Engines and Forge Cores work, and what the ramifications of contacting the force that powers them would be.
>Together, with the best information we have available, as well as access to several Fragments and both a Sparagmos Engine and Forge Cores, work with Leviathan (and Ziz and Behemoth, if they have any ideas they think would help) to contact their father.
>While we're doing this, have Rath continue to keep Behemoth occupied so he doesn't get antsy. Likewise, if Ziz needs someone to talk to while we're at this, Amara can feel free to chat via Skintalking with her, though please don't get too close, sweetie.

Does that look good, or like it would take too much time and get Behemoth upset again?
>>
>>5212975
>>5212972
>>5212969
>>5212965
Back from work.

Oh whew. That was very very close. I don't know how close the arguing came to blows. Levi's pride has certainly taken several bad hits, especially when he had to humbly bow before his brother in order to get him to cooperate.

At least all of them are on the same page.

>>5213227
Bhop. How bad did it get when it comes to behind the scenes dice? Behemoth rolled badly when it comes to accepting the apology from Leviathan didn't he?
>>
>>5213267
We're gonna have to pare down the explanation into simpler terms for Behemoth and Rath if they're gonna standby and watch or ask any questions about what's going on.

We could always ask them to help with building the Cosmic telephone or come up with ideas. The idea of them twiddling their thumbs would no doubt serve to further Behemoth's anxiety.

Getting them involved in the building process would help give Behemoth a sense of progress and contribution in the way that he's going somewhere instead of spinning his wheels. Like maybe have him help with the terraforming process to help with transporting the Engine and the other pieces of the Fragments required for the ritual?
>>
>>5213285
Yeah, that could work. If we need some sort of armature to set this up, he could sculpt it. Though I did include "have Behemoth or Ziz contribute, if they have any ideas" in the vote already. But yeah, let's not just leave it to him, let's give him something to work on so he doesn't feel like this is pointless stalling. Okay, how about

>Get Behemoth's aid in assembling any components that are on too large a scale for us. Make use of his Neuromancy to interface with the devices, if we need to.
>>
>>5213274
(I hope my writing made it hit home, because Behemoth was literally a single digit from going ballistic right then and there. This entire thing is on pins and needles.)
>>
>>5213307
I didn't realize it was that bad. Shit, maybe we should cut out the call to the Hexane, then, not add that extra time and keep Behemoth from getting too upset. Ugh. Behemoth, why you gotta be so angry? You make me nervous, fang-buddy.
>>
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>>5212975
>Get a Forge Core as well as a Sparagmos engine.
>Get a quick consultation from the nerds including Leviathan and the surviving Hexane, ask them to follow the kiss rule (Keep. It. Short & Simple) to the explanations short and simple. Risks, benefits, all that jazz.
>Also get Behemoth and Rath involved in the ritual building process, like using Behemoth's terraforming prowess to either drag Laoc to our location or clear a path/speed up the travel times of our gathering Fragment users and the engine itself, preferably the latter. Have them contribute.
>Ask for ideas from Ziz, Behemoth, and Leviathan if there's anyway they can help with the ritual. Have them adhere the KISS rule for Behemoth's benefit as well as to cut down on dawdling time.

>"Alright, this will be a team effort. We only have one chance. One opportunity to make it work and make the most of the brief minute or so if or when the phone call connects before it's lost forever."

>"Leviathan, Gina, and those with Doctorates, I'm gonna need you to come up with ideas on how to make and arrange our Fragments, Forge cores, and Spragmos Engine in a way that min-maxes our chance of pulling off a cosmic phone call with the strongest wi-fi connection. If you need to explain, adhere to the K.I.S.S. Rule. Keep It Short and Simple!."

>"Ziz, Amara, can you and the skintalkers make a call to Charon, Themis, Veilen, and Jeraha in Laoc? We need their help as well when it comes to Crucible tech. They made the Sparagmos engines, their help would be appreciated. And have Jeraha bring over the Sparagmos Engine.

>"Behemoth, Rath. We need your help. You can help by building the structures needed to make this work and help get the Spragmos engine to this place via Terraforming boost. Can you do it?"

>"And before we set off and make this happen...Ziz, Leviathan, Behemoth. I want the three of you to THINK about what you want to say to your father. As much as it pains the three of you and even though you have a mountain of words you'd like to say, I'd like you to keep your messages short, and simple. We don't know how long the connection will last before either your father willingly disconnects the call or something else forces the call to be disconnected. We could have a minute, we could have 10 seconds, we could have 10 minutes. Make your words count."


>>5213307
>Behemoth was literally a single digit from going ballistic right then and there. This entire thing is on pins and needles.
Goddammit bhop. You could not have made it more stressful. And yet I anticipate even more stress when the cosmic phone call commences. I can already tell all three of the siblings will be rolling stress checks when it comes to seeing their father's true state after 776 cycles of absolute silence.
>>
>>5213335
>Ziz, Amara, can you and the skintalkers make a call to Charon, Themis, Veilen, and Jeraha in Laoc?
I forgot that we have a whole comm center. Yes, of course, we can delegate that conversation. Thank you for catching that, anon. I feel silly, now.

But yeah, this looks good. Delegate the jobs so that we get this assembled as quickly as possible. If there was one change I'd make, it would be to, if we get a moment spare, take Ziz aside to thank her for being able to keep her siblings focused and on track, and ask her to keep up the good work smoothing over any missteps we make communicating with them.

>>5212975
Changing vote from >>5212992 to supporting >>5213335
with the addition of
>If we get a moment where her siblings won't hear, thank Ziz for helping calmer heads prevail, and ask her to keep it up if she can. We're beyond thankful for her presence here.
>>
>>5213307
A question: Is Behemoth's physical description supposed to be evocative of something akin to a 7-legged elephant/cow mixed with a Tarrasque?
>>
>>5213344
I'm still of the opinion that we could still ask Snowbird if she wants to help or is okay with having her forge cores serve as a conduit for the ritual.
>>
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>>5213354
I've been kind of imagining him as a terrifying nightmare kaiju version of the woodcrafters from Serina. I think it's because of the odd number of legs. The woodcrafters are tripods, so have one leg in the back. Add in another two rows on the sides and that gives my mental image of Behemoth. Well, that and their weird antler-arms being much more gnarly and the mouth being even weirder and him having a few dozen other mouths along his body, and of course he's much more hulking and muscular. But that single hind leg is the core of my mental image of him.

>>5213356
Oh, yes, totally. I did have that in my vote, forgot to carry it forward.

>>5212975
Adding to >>5213344
>Ask Snowbird's consent with channeling this process through her own Forge Cores. We have others, she doesn't have to take part in this if she doesn't want to. It shouldn't just be assumed we'll use her.
>>
>>5213354
>>5213361
(More akin to the image that was linked here, though with the unifying theme of all of the siblings having 'skin' composed of a writhing mass of their themed creatures. Avian for Ziz, land animals for Behemoth, and so on.)
>>
>>5213335
>>5212975
Adding an addendum to this:

>"We don't know if he's capable of responding or if he'll even respond. But even if the call connects and he's silent on the other end of the line, speak your piece regardless. If anything, let him know that you care about him. And maybe just maybe, he'll respond with a reply however short or long he's capable of managing in his current state. The three of you will need to mentally prepare for this. Ready yourselves, you may not like what you see or hear. 776 cycles is a long time, even for someone like you three and your father especially."
>>
I can't help but wonder what Morningstar(name still pending) (aka Crucible Creator) is thinking about our particular strain in the Crucible experiment. First Shu wanders into his place accidentally via silver bell and forge core resonance, then a few days later she intentionally wanders into the place to see her core's ability tree via Sparagmos engine where he takes the time to ask why we nerfed ourselves, and now a few days later she blasts that same dimensional door wide open but this time with multiple fragments, a Forge Core, and a Sparagmos engine in harmonious resonance and coordinated teamwork simply to let the Apocalypse Three of that particular strain have a short but wholesome family reunion/phone call.

The sheer escalation in our audacity is quite something to behold from his perspective.
>>
>>5213407
Probably a great deal of exasperation. Here he told us that reaching out boldly was a risk, and then we go and boldly reach out. Oh, these kids, they're going to drive him into entropic decay with how much they make him worry.

...I hope we don't screw this up. We're taking every precaution we can, but we're still doing something risky at something of a rush. I guess we can only hope that having four times the Fragments, an iteration each of his kids, both a Forge Core and a Sparagmos Engine, and the best scientific backup on the Crucible will be enough to avoid any sort of horrible feedback or booby trap.
>>
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>>5212975

“By pulling out all the stops.” You reply, placing a finger to your ear. “Everyone up to speed so far?”

A chorus of affirmation echoes from the swarmling nestled in your ear canal before you continue. "Alright—this’ll be a team effort. We only have one chance, ne opportunity to make it work and make the most of the brief minute or so if or when the phone call connects before it's lost forever. Leviathan, Gina, and those with Doctorates, I'm gonna need you to come up with ideas on how to make and arrange our Fragments, Forge cores, and Sparagmos Engine in a way that min-maxes our chance of pulling off a cosmic phone call with the strongest wi-fi connection. If you need to explain, adhere to the K.I.S.S. Rule—Keep It Short and Simple."

“Got it, babe.” Gina affirms, and through the Crimson Cord you can feel the gears of her mind turning as she takes command of the task at hand.

“I’ll get on the Sparagmos Engine.” Jeraha clips.

"On that note…Ziz, Amara? Can you and the Skintalkers make a call to Charon, Themis, and Veilen in Laoc?” You ask, and you’re treated to a three-wing salute from the enormous avian behind you. “We need their help as well when it comes to Crucible tech. They made the Sparagmos engines, their help would be appreciated.”

“What about me ‘an the big guy?” Rath asks, and you appreciate her follow-through with behemoth more than you can express. “What can we do to help?”

“By building the structures needed to make this work and help get the Sparagmos engine to this place via Terraforming boost. Can you do it?"

“Of COURSE we can.” Behemoth rumbles proudly. “There is NOTHING on the land that is BEYOND my REACH.”

"And before we set off and make this happen...Ziz, Leviathan, Behemoth.” You say, turning to each of the siblings in turn. “I want the three of you to THINK about what you want to say to your father. As much as it pains the three of you and even though you have a mountain of words you'd like to say, I'd like you to keep your messages short and simple.”

“Do you HEAR her, LEVIATHAN?” Behemoth growls, and Levy gives you a pointed look.

“I’LL GET MY ANSWERS BY MERELY BEING PRESENT.” They say curtly. “IF ANYTHING, ZIZ SHOULD BE THE ONE TO ADDRESS FATHER FIRST.”

“…Agreed.” Behemoth says, his solemn tone and agreeableness taking both you and Ziz aback, though unlike her, you try and hide your surprise.

“M-Me? Why?” The aerial titan stammers.

“HE WAS ALWAYS MORE OPEN WITH YOU. IF WE WANT ANSWERS, IT ONLY STANDS TO REASON THAT YOU SHOULD BE THE ONE TO OPEN THE DIALOGUE.” Comes Leviathan’s calculatingly clinical answer.

“Well, th-then…Behemoth, would you be open to going aft-?”

“WHY are we talking as though we’ll only have a SECOND or TWO to speak with him?” Behemoth interrupts with another eyeless glare thrown your way. “Are we SURE this CONNECTION will even WORK?!”

(Continued)
>>
>>5213866

“It will, but we don't know how long it’ll last before either your father willingly disconnects the call or something else forces it to be disconnected.” You ruefully admit. “We could have a minute, we could have 10 seconds, we could have 10 minutes. We don’t know…so make your words count."

At that, Behemoth huffs and Rath takes up the reigns of keeping him on-task while Leviathan wordlessly bows out to convene with Gina and the rest of the think-tank. Ziz spreads her wings just as you open a private Commling channel, for just a moment.

“Hey…I wanted to thank you, for earlier.”

“Huh?” Ziz mumbles, inelegantly. “For what?”

“For keeping Levy and Behemoth on task. For staying calm when they weren’t. For...being yourself.” You say, smiling up at her. “We couldn’t have done this without you, Ziz.”

“O-oh, uh…I d-don’t know about that.” She counters bashfully.

“Well, I do…I’ve kept you long enough. Go help Amara, and I’ll see you back here soon.”

Ziz takes flight, leaving you to turn to the cyborg that hasn’t left your side since this began…and when you open your mouth to voice the question on your mind, Snowbird cuts you off with an immediate answer.

“I’ll do it.”

“…I didn’t even get to ask.” You reply with a tired chuckle.

“You need a Forge Core. A stable conduit. I have two. I’ll do it.” She repeats, firmly.

“The whole reason I wanted to ask is to add the caveat that I can find something else if you’re not comfortable with it. I know it’s asking a lot.”

“It’s…I want to do this. For her.” Snowbird says, tilting her helm towards the amalgam in the distance. “She is…lost. Confused. This may give her clarity.”

“…I’m sure Ziz will appreciate it.” You say with a smile, and Snowbird simply shrugs.

“It will make us even. Ziz was by my side, as I searched for answers. She helped me then. I help her here. It is…” She trails off, and when she speaks again it’s with an uncertainty, a hesitation of labels. “…it is a thing ‘friends’ do. Yes?”

“It is.” You nod.

“…Good.” She says. “I’ll inform Francine of my decision.”

Snowbird stalks off, and just as you’re about to turn to you other three present allies, you catch sight of a pair of new arrivals—approaching from the shoreline and putting a smile on your face.

“Charon! Ringo!” You declare darting down to meet the ashen warrior, the flesh-bound tindalos loping along at their side.

[Always a pleasure, Shu] Charon says with an audibly warm smile,

“What’re you doing here? Is everything okay with the, ah…” You ask, hesitating.

[Cult?] Charon finishes, wryly. [They are in good hands. I caught wind of you meeting with the titans, and we wished to lend out aid]

Ringo looses a warbling echo of a bark, and Julia and Dorian both kneel down to give the tindalos some rightly-deserved rubs as The Hexane warrior continues.

(Continued)
>>
>>5213872

[Ringo and I have seen what’s transpired] They explain, nodding towards the opposite shore. [We arrived shortly before Leviathan made their presence known. I’m told teleporting in is less than ideal during taught situations, so I thought an on-foot approach would suit you best]

“That’s greatly appreciated.” You reply with a laugh, glancing back towards the legion of Daughters at work in making your plan a reality. “You heard what we’re trying to do, then?”

[Indeed, and I may be able to offer some assistance] Charon says, rising to their full height as Ringo hops up to attention. [I trust you can point me to where I may be of use?]

Directing Charon and Ringo to assist with the Sparagmos situation, you give the Hexane a quick hug and the tindalos an affectionate pat as you send them on their way…and you don’t have to wait long before everything’s pulled together. Despite the sheer amount of resources at your disposal, you’re still surprised when everything’s ready to go in little more than half an hour.

The end result is a cobbled-together thing, with a variety of vein-like cables trailing from the radiant Forge Cores in Snowbird’s open chest cavity and down the concave dish Behemoth and Rath terraformed into earth. The lines tie her cores to the thing that lies in the center of it all—the Sparagmos Engine, the Hope Fragment hovering above its onyx pillars it like a jewel just above the tines of a ring. The setup is ensconced between Ziz, Leviathan, and Behemoth, with you, Jackie, and Tinker Tailor evenly spaced around the Engine as per Francine’s strict instructions.

“It appears that everyone is in position, Darling.” Francine declares after her fourth double-check. “It is ready to go when you give the word.”

You take a breath, trying not to let all the ways this could possibly go wrong creep into the corners of your mind. The parameters have been calculated by the best minds available in the Crucible, and if anything *does* go sideways, well…

…you’re surrounded by everyone in the Fleshscape that you love and trust.

Even if you’re not in control, you know it’ll be okay.

>>Make the call.

>>Make one final adjustment before connecting (Write-In).

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume in approximately five.)
>>
>>5213875
>Make the call.

It's go time. Fingers crossed.

If it weren't for the fact that we took the time actually converse with these beings and had actual context, this would like like from an outsider's perspective something akin to a grand Lovecraftian Ritual featuring three Great Old Ones in an attempt to Summon a far greater and Elder Ancient.
>>
>>5213875
>>Make the call.
I can't think of anything else that we could do to improve our chances. Let's call up the Morningstar and hope that we don't fuck everything up.

>>5213891
I'm imagining the skinternet message boards responding to this and it is pretty great. I want Orwell to tell us what sort of ratings she winds up getting for "Shu saves the day by summoning Dread Cthulhu so his kids can check up on him".
>>
>>5213875
Actually, you know what, one last adjustment.

>>Make one final adjustment before connecting (Write-In).
>Spawn a group of Jacklings, and get our Skintalkers to cast concentration-boosting spells on us. Then make contact.

Just a little final layer of precaution. Probably not going to do much, but every bit counts, right?
>>
>>5213994
(It does, indeed.)
>>
>>5214007
Well, that's just making me paranoid. Let's throw in a

>>5213875
>Francine establishes an Asklepian Ward and stands by to stabilize us.

to the precautions, then. Actually, let's generalize it:

>Anyone who has abilities that can be used to enhance, stabilize, heal or reinforce, use whatever preemptive measures you have and be ready to use them in response if things go bad.

Because I don't know what's on most of the character sheets of most of the people here, so let's just make it a general order.
>>
>>5214019
(Consider it done - also, everyone not under your direct control is automatically set to do everything within their power to stabilize and contribute to your plans, whatever they may be.)
>>
>>5214050
Excellent. Thanks, BHOP.
>>
Getting ready for work as is customary. I will however give you a heads up with good news and bad news: I just got promoted at work to a bigger job. Which means my schedule starting next week will be thrown into chaos which while understandable, very much grinds my gears when it comes to participation in this quest. I hope the next update goes well.
>>
>>5214064
Congratulations, anon! Have a nice day, and I hope your new position works well for you.
>>
>>5214064
(Congratulations! Given I have a busy schedule next week updates may be spotty as well, so let me know what works for you and I'll be more than happy to work around it.)
>>
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>>5213875

“Alright, you three…are you ready?” You ask, glancing among the faces that loom high overhead.

Ziz give a series of nervous, yet dutiful nods, while Leviathan merely give you one, slow and solemn.

Behemoth, on the other hand...he, for all his earlier rage and bluster, seems to have made himself smaller. Maybe it’s in the way his shoulders are hunched as though they’re trying to meet somewhere in the middle, or perhaps it’s something in the way he’s crouched low, like he’s trying not to be seen.

In any case, he’s the last to reply—just a small, slight tilt of his head to let you know he’s as ready as he’s going to be.

“Make the call.” You say, and the last thing you see before your world explodes into a riot of color and chaos is the Hope fragment erupting with the radiance of small star, razing your eyes with its impossible light.

Once more unto the breach.

And a breach it is; a wound in reality, a place that should not be. A thing violently carved into the fabric of space and time by a spiteful hand. An undulating field that defies description, an assault on senses that’ve been robbed from you in this place and substituted with intuition, with perceptions that are alien to you, even on your third visit to this anomalous plane. Once more you’re torn asunder, distilled to the very essence of existence…only this time, you’re not alone.

Before you float three diminutive forms, somehow standing out amidst the riot of kinetic color that is the creator’s prison. A fish-like shape flits to and fro before you as though overwhelmed by this new locale, while an embryonic foal hovers far to your left, curled into a fetal position with its seven pencil-thin legs clutched right to its chest. The largest of the three is to your right; an avian caught between a chick—flecks of shell still attached to its seven-fold wings—and an adolescent’s gawky physique.

You feel their Creator before you see him, with a perception that is not pure sight—a vast presence turning its attention towards you as though you’re a krill that’s drawn the attention of a whale…

…or, perhaps, a warship.

and here I thought I’d seen the last of you

but I am made a fool

by you

once again

You’re not sure quite what you were expecting. Exasperation, or maybe something closer to irritation? Anything, really, other than the amused lilt to his tired chuckle of a greeting.

now

as impressive as this is

and it is

quite impressive

I’m afraid I can’t afford to spend what ti-

A realization. A revelation.

A sudden, sharp recognition, of who you’ve brought before him.

(Continued)
>>
>>5214116

oh

you

how

you haven't finished yet

it’s not over

how have you

The colors around you flicker like a sudden, startled peal of laughter.

no

that is irrelevant

what matters is them

my courage

my mind

and my heart

“Is…is that really-?” Ziz begins, unable to believe what she’s sensing until you feel unreality shift, curling around the ungainly chick.

it is, my dearest

it’s been so long

you’ve grown so much

and you’re not the only one

The chaos wraps itself around Levy’s diminutive form, pulling them closer to their avian sibling.

I have missed your wit

how you kept my focus

it is so good to see you

where is

ah

there you are

my brave little one

Their father reaches out towards Behemoth only to hesitate when he shrinks away, the stardust appendage drawing back. You wonder if their creator’s about to ask what’s the matter when Ziz finally speaks up, the first of her siblings to gather herself fully.

“We…we have questions! All three of us. They wanted me to go first!” She declares, fluffing her feathers as she steels her own courage before doubt creeps in. “If…if you have time?”

for you

my children

I will make all the time you need

what would you ask

of little

old

me

Ziz pauses a moment, casting a glance between her siblings before she finally lends voice to what’s preying on both heart and mind.

“Why…why did you cast us out?” She asks, softly. “Why did you really send us out on the Crucible? You could’ve made something else. Something that could’ve protected it instead of us…so…why?”

because

you were

and still are

the best of me

my kindness

my wisdom

my courage

“I…I don’t understand.” Ziz pleads. “We could’ve stayed! We wouldn’t have minded! We could’ve kept you company, we could’ve-“

I would not have

my children

caged

His words fray the seams of his prison, shaking the tenuous foundation of this vestigial reality until he regains his composure.

(Continued)
>>
>>5214117

you three are the best of me

He repeats, softly. With the sort of intentional kindness you yourself have chosen to employ, time and again.

carved out of my very being

and flung into the future

my kind can only cut

only carve

we are very

very

powerful

butchers

incapable of repair

incapable of creation

in making you

I reached into the parts of myself

that had not spoiled with sorrow

had yet to be infested with pride

had not yet learned cowardice

and thus

I made

you

“WAIT…” Leviathan murmurs, their overwrought voice ill-suited for the minnow-like form they’ve manifested as, here. “…ARE WE…FRAGMENTS?”

put simply

yes

but you are so

much

more

“I…I DON’T UNDERSTAND.” Leviathan stammers, bewildered. “WHY COULDN’T WE REACH YOU BEFORE? I DISSECTED MY CORE INSIDE AND OUT! IF THERE WAS SUCH AN OBVIOUS AVENUE TO REACH YOU, THEN WHY COULDN’T I-!”

you were a part of me

once

but you have grown

into your own beings

free of me

and my own limitations

you three are something

wholly

uniquely

your own

and I could not

be

more

proud

(Continued)
>>
>>5214119

Behemoth flinches, at that, while Leviathan just sits in their creator’s grasp, flickering in and out of perception…half in the now, and half searching for the answer to the question that’s their top priority. You feel the creator’s perceptions shift once more to Ziz as he speaks again.

my dear

you said

questions

plural

what more would my children ask of me

Ziz glances to Levy, who in turn looks to you—and though lacking in expression, the intention is clear. Leviathan needs more time to do what they’ve come here to accomplish. Behemoth cowers, fighting with himself in his own moment of need.

it is alright

take your time

I will never

ever

rush you

Silence greets him, and after a moment his attention shifts—like a spotlight of pure intent—to you.

you’ve come this far

you’ve granted me a gift

I do not

and could never

deserve

the offer I extend to my children

I now

extend

to you

You stand…hover?...before a being that is more powerful than you could possibly fathom—and yet, this is the first time his children have seen him in eons. For you, this is your third meeting, and you catch that which escaped you before.

Exhaustion.

Weariness.

The frayed edges of hope.

A smile to mask a slow, steady decay.

It’s all so familiar, yet reflected in a thing so unfathomable.

>>”…what is the Mother of All?”

>>”…what’s buried at the core of my world?”

>>”…where are the other members of your species?”

>>This moment is not yours to take. Allow Levy or Behemoth to speak, first.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next eight hours, with posting to resume tomorrow at 12PM noon, Eastern time. Thank you all for your patience and participation, and I wish you a restful evening.)
>>
https://www.pixiv.net/en/users/22033781
There are some good pixiv artists you might wanna look. I'll share more as I find them. I used to read this quest back on thread 3 when the coolest stuff was the protag having bees on her back and the bunny girl growing a dog-mouth
>>
>>5214126
(Already on the first page of that Pixiv artist and their art is absolutely phenomenal. Thank you so much for sharing, and I welcome anything else you find!)
>>
>>5214116
>Before you float three diminutive forms, somehow standing out amidst the riot of kinetic color that is the creator’s prison. A fish-like shape flits to and fro before you as though overwhelmed by this new locale, while an embryonic foal hovers far to your left, curled into a fetal position with its seven pencil-thin legs clutched right to its chest. The largest of the three is to your right; an avian caught between a chick—flecks of shell still attached to its seven-fold wings—and an adolescent’s gawky physique.
Daww, they're cute little babies when they go to see their dad. Adorable. Interesting that Ziz, of all of them, seems the most mature. Not a fry, not an embryo, but a fledgeling. I guess standing up for herself is doing her good.

>>5214119
>you were a part of me
>once
>but you have grown
>into your own beings
>free of me
>and my own limitations
>you three are something
>wholly
>uniquely
>your own
>and I could not
>be
>more
>proud
Huh. They're almost kind of a proof of concept, then, aren't they? A demonstration to the rest of his species that instead of trying to preserve their current existence at the cost of all others, they should create a new generation that can be even greater than them. Oh, Morningstar, you clever fox.

Anyways, I'm for waiting our turn. We promised these guys that they could talk to their dad, we'll ask our questions after they're done.
>>
>>5214122
>>Write-In
>"If it's alright with you, I think I should wait my turn. I have plenty of questions, but as much as they matter to me, it would be rude to interrupt a family reunion to talk business."
>>
https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/88934757
looking at related works is a great way to check out new artists. It is not easy for me to find one that I like however, because this japanese like to put a cute waifus right next to body horrors. Boring
>>
>>5214122
>>This moment is not yours to take. Allow Levy or Behemoth to speak, first.

Oh boy oh boy. So much to ask, but his own family comes first.

That being said what should we ask when we can? All the given options are good ones of course, but there is more. I would really like to ask - how? How can we achieve what we want? The new, free life for not just mankind, but all the creatures caught in the Crucible? How can we save those already lost, those from the earth, and earlier worlds, before it?

But I am afraid he cannot just give us that answer. After all, if he knew, he would have done it already.

What do you guys think we should ask when we have the chance?
>>
>>5214229
How about "Aside from the obvious physical threats in the Cord, what obstacles are there to ending the Crucible?". I doubt his species will have made it so easy as to just shut the system down. They vivisected this guy to turn him into a power source, with that level of vindictiveness they're probably expecting him to have a way of sabotage. So it would be nice to know if there's anything else we'll have to face when we try to turn the system off. Are we going to have to have some psychic battle with the surviving star gods?
>>
>>5214139
You know what, actually, I phrased this poorly. Not a big deal, but it's niggling at me. Let me try again.

>>5214122
>>Write-In
>"If it's alright with you, I think I should wait my turn. I have plenty of questions, but as much as they matter to me, your kids' questions matter more to them. Besides, it would be rude to interrupt a family reunion to talk business."
>>
>>5214122
>"If it's alright with you, I think I should wait my turn. I have plenty of questions, but as much as they matter to me, it would be rude to interrupt a family reunion to talk business."
>>
Although we should wait with our questions, once the others have gone, I believe there are two questions that take priority over all else.
>”…what is the Mother of All?”
>"This endless cycle, the Crucible. You know it cannot continue forever. You want this to end as much as we do. How can we do so? How can we break the cycle, and end this strain of the Crucible?"
>>
Back from work.

>>5214122
>This moment is not yours to take. Allow Levy or Behemoth to speak, first.

>When the trio are done with their questions ask away:
>"It just occurred to me that even though you know my name, you never formally introduced yourself. Do you have a name for which I and the others can call you?
>(If he doesn't have a name) You don't have a name? Hmm...There's a name that I feel fits all too well with who and what you are and represent: Morningstar. Is that a name you're comfortable with?

>>5214296
>>5214229
>>5214136
Wait wait wait. Hold up. Levi said that the Star Gods had the sterilization problem when it comes to their numbers which was a factor to their long era of self-absorbed hedonism/arrogance, and yet here the solution to their entropic demise and the balm to their species-wide despair in their inability to leave a legacy is right in front of our faces. Fragmentation and creation. Sure it takes literal chunks out of their souls to do so, and the product of creating living fragments would mean the parent would be permanently weakened and the child ever weaker than the parent, but it would solve their longstanding reproduction issues.
>>
>>5214136
Hmm...well it very much speaks to their maturity then.
>Ziz the fledgeling bird who is ready for adulthood
>Leviathan is a child, who is utterly overwhelmed by novelty and acts pompously like a know it all kid who went through an encyclopedia, and has yet to learn humility and respect
>Behemoth's very much the baby of the bunch given how he very much lets his emotions run the gamut and his day.

It also speaks to the strength of their father's character. His kindness was the greatest, while his wit wasn't far behind, but his bravery is very miniscule, yet it took him getting butchered by his brethren to get his act together.
>>
>>5214374
Yeah, it's definitely impressive that he's managed to create new life, when his species is supposed to be sterile. It's not quite the same sort of life that he is, but he's still done the impossible by the star gods' standards. The sense I get is that he's kind of the craftsman god figure of the star gods, the cunning man who studies the world and so learns to craft wonders that his peers can't imitate, but who winds up with an outsider perspective as a result of that and so is mistreated by them. We might consider drawing from that sort of mythology in naming him, too.

Anyways, I think the problem is that while this demonstrates that the star gods can produce a new generation of life, they don't actually want to. Their psychology shaped around them being one-off entities, they're interested in perpetuating themselves, not their species. It might be possible to convince them, but with them having put so much into pursuing personal eternity I don't know where we'd start. Maybe that can be something we ask him. "Do you think there's any hope of peaceful resolution with your kin, or do they have to go?"

>>5214378
Yeah, it's neat symbolism. Also, Ziz has a bit of shell stuck to her still, since she's pushed through the fledgeling status very quickly and so retains some traits of her more immature naivety.

And yeah, I do like this rebel star god. Mostly. The thought just occurred to me as I write this that if he's responsible for the Crucibles not reaching their intended solution after so long, maybe that puts some of the onus for the suffering they've caused on him. If they had found a solution, would they have spread so far? But then again, maybe it would have just lead the Crucibles to compete among each other, as each winning Mother (or whatever the Crucibles without the Tindalos' "no boys allowed" rule would call their winner) were forced to fight to further grow the strength of the star gods' future vessel. Maybe we should ask him that, too, "How would the Crucible project have proceeded without his sabotage?". Yeah, let's ask him that.
>>
>>5214401
>"Do you think there's any hope of peaceful resolution with your kin, or do they have to go?"
Even though it feels prudent to ask that question, Levi stated that his father argued to the point of getting butchered that they should accept their demise, so it would make sense he would still hold that view after being imprisoned. Keep in mind that he referred his other kin as "very powerful butchers".

But more to the point. We should also point out that in him creating his three children, he has proven that it is possible for their kind to reproduce and create a new generation of their populace. Lesser kin, but they are in essence living examples of their legacy. All life forms reproduce as a mechanism to continue their propagation and He's already proven that point.
>>
>>5214401
As much as we'd like to ask away, keep in mind that We're on a time limit and an energy limit. He may be all smiles, but as Levi has suspected and We (aka Shu) have suspected, he's hiding his exhaustion and his metaphorical deathrattle behind a smile. For our gift of giving him a family reunion before his death bed he's willing to ask away and expend the last of his life, and having him drop dead mid-conversation would be deeply traumatizing for all parties involved.
>>
>>5214428
>>5214431
Yeah, you're right. We do need to conserve time. We don't want the guy to die because we strained him too much. That would just be...the worst irony. I do want him to live to see us finish this. So maybe one big question and one minor one, leave him enough energy that he can limp along to the end.
>>
>>5214440
As for the minor one, I would ask for a name, or the opportunity to offer him a name so he could be remembered by.
>>
>>5214374
>>5214122

Editing my vote:

>This moment is not yours to take. Allow Levy or Behemoth to speak, first.
>"As much as I would like to ask questions, I believe the ones your children hold have more importance. I will wait. They can go first."
>If behemoth is still hesitant, offer him emotional support, scoop up his embryonic projection into your arms and ask him if he wants us to ask the question he's holding for him. Get Ziz and Levi to offer their emotional support for their sibling.

>When it is our turn:

>"You know, you never formally introduced yourself. Do you have a name for which the others and I can call you? A name for all to remember you by. A name for your children to refer to when they speak of their parent.
>(If he doesn't have a name) You don't have a name? Hmm...There's a name that I feel fits all too well with who and what you are and represent: Morningstar. Is that a name you're comfortable with?

>Just before the call disconnects give him a farewell.

Dammit. I have a serious question to go with asking him if he has or wants a name to be remembered by, But the serious question keeps evading me, because we lack lots of key critical information that we've yet to gain clarity, and yet there's lots of avenues to pursue our need to attain that "Mother of All" condition that will end the Crucible in this current cycle instead of propagating it.
>>
>>5214440
>>5214401
Just from the question prompts that Bhop has given us, we know we're on the right track in that "the trick is down not up" while our conversation with Levi and Morningstar(name still pending) has given us an impression on the other Star gods but in a biased manner, But we've yet to figure out the true path in getting to what's at the center of the Crucible, nor are we able to figure out what exactly is in the center.

We'll need a question that can hit the general key areas we're lacking but what exactly are we lacking? If we ask for "hints" as to the whole "Mother of All" message he's encoded in the crucible, we miss out on getting a better image of his species and their current condition and hints to prepare for our confrontation with them. But if we ask about his species and their status and whereabouts, we're in the dark on how to achieve the whole "Mother of All" condition he's encoded while getting something of a biased impression of his species given Levi's and Morningstar's personal testimonies.

>>5214461
>>5214122
To clarify, I'm locking in the question vote. but I still want time during the next update to think about our serious question while the siblings get their chance to ask their questions and have that sorely needed conversation with their father.
>>
>>5214461
I don't think we should scoop Behemoth up. I can't see him being a hugger, even in a moment of vulnerability. Maybe especially in a moment of vulnerability. I think "reassuring hand on one of his shoulders" is the best he'd accept.

I know what you mean about the question. There's a lot I want to ask. Maybe "How did you intend for this to go down?" or something along those lines. What were his intents for the path to subverting the Crucibles and leading this benevolent revolution against his peers. That encompasses both what we expected someone to do to subvert the Crucible and how he expected the other star gods to respond.
>>
>>5214461
>>5214122
>>5214374

Yet another edit, below is current up-to-date version of my vote:

>This moment is not yours to take. Allow Levy or Behemoth to speak, first.
>"As much as I would like to ask questions, I believe the ones your children hold have more importance. I will wait. They can go first."

>If Behemoth is still hesitant, offer him emotional support/encouragement, have Ziz or Levi (if he isn't busy with trying to figure out or has already figured out his father's on his literal deathbed) pitch in and give the baby of the bunch the support for him to act on his courage and ask the question.
>"Go on Behemoth, I know you can do it."

>When it is our turn:

>"I only have two questions to ask: How do you intend the entire project to end?
This encompasses the gamut of both the cord climb, the secret, and the confrontation with the other star gods.
>"As for my second question..."
>pause as a long unnoticed fact dawns upon you.
>"You know, you never formally introduced yourself. Do you have a name for which the others and I can call you? A name for all to remember you by. A name for your children to refer to when they speak of their parent.
>(If he doesn't have a name) You don't have a name? Hmm...There's a name that I feel fits all too well with who and what you are and represent: Morningstar. Is that a name you're comfortable with?

>Just before the call disconnects give him a farewell.
>"Farewell [insert name], may we all live to see the end."
>>
(Just wrapping up the next few posts, as they're pretty long. Will be posting as soon as possible, so thank you all for bearing with me!)
>>
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>>5214122

"If it's alright with you, I think I should wait my turn.” You begin, finding that words come easier to you now than your last two forays to this interstitial space. “I have plenty of questions, but as much as they matter to me, your kids' questions matter more to them. Besides, it would be rude to interrupt a family reunion to talk business."

thoughtful

as always

The being’s words curve with audible amusement, and as you meet Leviathan’s fleeting gaze you both know whose turn it is. Looking to Behemoth, you find his child-like form curled even tighter…but before you can force out a word of encouragement, you find yourself beaten to the punch.

“Brother…it’s okay.” Ziz gently offers. “If you want to tell me, I can ask for you if that would-“

“N-no.” He utters, finally. “No, I can ask it.”


A moment more of hesitation, and then-
“...is there a hidden plan?” Behemoth asks, his voice softer than you thought possible. “Is it something called the ‘Mother of All?”

“FOOL!” Leviathan suddenly snaps, rounding on their sibling. “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE ASKED SO *BLATANTLY*. WHAT IF YOU’VE JUST PUT FATHER IN DAN-!”


danger is no longer my concern

little one

the time for fear

has long passed

Then, turning the spotlight of his attentions to Behemoth-

my peers envisioned an existence

where all was theirs to control

exploit

toy with

as they saw fit

but I envisioned one

where we took responsibility

where we used our station

to serve as leaders

paragons

and more

when a Daughter arose

with virtues in opposition to those my people prized

then the source code of my creation

would be theirs to modify

adjust

and control

that is what I intended the Mother of All to be

not a tyrant

nor opportunist

but rather a guiding hand

to exercise the kindness

of benevolent command

…No. You know, at this moment, that you could never be what he’s been looking for. The ‘Mother of All’ is just another name for a would-be god. And that’s not-

and in that desire

I was a fool

(Continued)
>>
>>5214923

I was blinded

by what I was

I thought I was superior

but even I

could hardly shake the idea

that control was a necessity

“But…but there’s a difference, isn’t there?” Ziz posits, softly. “If someone nice had control, then-“

malicious tyrant

or controlling parent

both

are hands

wrapped firmly around the necks

of those beneath them

I failed to consider

that instead

what was needed

is one that would forge a world

where control

lay not in the hands of a god

but in the hands

of all

And, with an audible smile, he adds…

how wise you are

Defiant

“How do you intend the entire project to end?” You find yourself asking aloud, and you’re about to withdraw your query when Leviathan swiftly motions for you to continue. “Climbing the Cord, whatever’s buried beneath the earth…there’s so many unknowns.”

you’ve already triggered

every subroutine I’ve hidden

all that remains

is for you to climb the Cord

once at the summit

you will be able to rewrite

and make a world

where your people have the control

you value so

He pauses for a moment, as if weighing the second half of your question.

as for what lies below

it is

the most tenuous of my creations

you could consider it

a backup

of sorts

“…but I thought humanity was already backed up in the Cord?” You ask, hesitantly. “We’re planning on bringing everyone back, so is what’s buried a redundancy, or-?”

The Cord

is for the current Crucible’s species

what’s below

is a truncated backup

of every species that has felt the weight

through the strains of my accursed creation

(Continued)
>>
>>5214930

“…The Hexane.” You breathe, your mind spiraling with the possibilities. “The Tindalos. The…how is that possible? There’s so much, there couldn’t-“

it is truncated

compressed

and the strain on it grows

with every cycle

it is likely

that much has been lost

but I hope

that at least something may be recovered

“…There have been rumors. A string of Daughters that delved too deep and came back changed. Altered, or driven mad.” You begin, putting two and two together.

a likely side effect

of rampant data leakage

this is

troubling

but you may be able to stem the flow

once you

are in

control

You…you can’t focus on that right now. Not when there are too many other pieces in play.


"As for my second question..." You begin, pausing as a long-unnoticed fact dawns upon you. "It’s a simple thing, but you never formally introduced yourself. Do you have a name for which the others and I can call you? A name for all to remember you by. A name for your children to refer to when they speak of their parent.”

He’s silent for a long moment, and when he replies you can feel the weight of guilt in every word, buried deep in every syllable.


I had a name

once

I wore it proudly

when I was too much like my peers

it carries with it

eons

of cruelty

it is a name

better left

forgotten

“...There's a name that I feel fits all too well with who and what you are and represent, actually…” You forward, much to the intrigue of his three children.

“…Morningstar.”

ah

Morningstar

“…IT IS A GOOD NAME.” Leviathan hums, its guppie-like form giving you a quick, approving nod. “GIVEN WHAT I KNOW…IT SUITS YOU WELL."

(Continued)
>>
>>5214937

then that is all the approval

I need

“Are you sure that’s a name you're comfortable with?”


Morningstar

I think

I like it

“FATHER, I…THERE IS ONE THING THAT IS TROUBLING ME.” Leviathan suddenly chimes in, their form shifting wholly into the present. “I FAIL TO UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR PEERS COULD NOT SEE THE SOLUTION TO THEIR REPLICATION PROBLEM WHEN YOU ALREADY SOLVED IT. MY SIBLINGS AND I, WE ARE LIVING, BREATHING PROOF THAT YOUR PEERS COULD HAVE A LEGACY.”

ah

but you misunderstand them

they never wanted a legacy

they craved power

in perpetuity

though they tried

much

much later

to do as I had done

and carve of pieces of themselves

to forestall the inevitable

“…And…did it work?” Ziz asks, only to be met with a shuddering of color and a cruel, dry laugh.

they made monstrous little motes

ravening abominations

that mirrored their forebears

ones that began to gnaw at their creators

and were promptly torn asunder

my people truly were

a wretched thing

how incredibly satisfying

it was

at the end

“To…what? What do you mean?” Ziz asks, confused even as Leviathan goes stock still. Behemoth’s fretfulness takes a back seat for but a moment, as he notices the shock apparent in Leviathan’s frame—the realization that his sibling’s arrived a conclusion that’s robbed them of words.


indeed

it is how I am certain

that I am not good

that I am not kind

because

it was the most wonderful

most exquisite

spectacle

to watch

them

die

(Continued)
>>
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>>5214939

It’s Behemoth’s turn to go perfectly still, the implications of Morningstar’s words slowly sinking in to him and Ziz, both, as Leviathan suddenly snaps back to their senses

“NO…NO NO NO, THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE. I THOUGHT WE HAD MORE TIME, BUT…BUT THIS MAKES NO SENSE!” They mutter frantically, flitting in a tight, panicked circle. “HOW?! HOW ARE YOU STILL-?”

alive

I’m not quite sure

perhaps it is the nature of my prison

perhaps it’s the simple fact

that I didn’t waste my energy

in a mad scramble

to hold on to power

or maybe

just maybe

it’s because I clung

to the virtue closest

to this one’s heart

Morningstar’s attention shifts to you, his spotlight warm with something that could almost be called admiration.

defiance

It’s silent, for a moment, as the reality of their father’s situation covers his children like a pall. Leviathan’s spinning, mind working in loops to understand, to counter, to think of a way to stop that which Morningstar’s species tried and failed to. Behemoth is turned away, moving not an inch, uttering not a sound.

“How…how long?” Ziz finally chokes out. “How much longer do we…do you have?”

it was my intent

to see this through

to the end

and I will

no matter what

“WE…WE NEED TO CUT THE CALL.” Leviathan declares suddenly, rounding on you. “IT MUST BE BURNING THROUGH A COLOSSAL AMOUNT OF STORED ENERGY FOR FATHER TO KEEP THIS UP. WE CAN’T AFFORD TO-“

no

Morningstar’s words cut through Leviathan’s frantic mutterings like a calcite edge, robbing his child of the urgent momentum that had been building with a voice that carries both resolve and acceptance, in equal measure.

the only currency I have

the only thing of worth

is time

spending it here

with you

so close

to the end

is time

well

spent

Then, to you…

you are so near

to the end

and yet

so far

ask me

what you will

and I will

offer

wh-what

help

I can

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next five hours, with posting to resume on Tuesday, April 5th at 10AM Eastern time. I’m afraid work’s the opposite of the rather peaceful Friday I’d expected, so I believe it would be best to adjourn here for the sake of my sanity. I wish you all a restful weekend, and I hope you have a pleasant day.)
>>
>>5214939
Oh no. Is there some sort of cosmic locust plague, now? Did the star gods wipe themselves out, but create something even worse in the process?

Still, mostly good news. Morningstar (who has a name now) approves of us not becoming a cosmic god-queen, that's good to know. And the memory backup contains not just humanity but everyone the Crucible has ever eaten. I was hoping for that. Though I'm not sure where we'll put them. Unless we can ride this thing backwards along its path and have it rebuild worlds along each stop, we'd have to reconstitute them all in our solar system. Which is possible, in theory, they're plenty of room in one solar system, but oh man is that going to be a nightmare of political organization. "Hey, humanity, you know how you had no unity and constant worries about your neighbors' intentions when it was just you and your own species' factions? Have another seven hundred and seventy-six species, all living in the same solar system as you. Enjoy."

Yeah, we're going to have to find someplace else to put them. Still, the fact that we can put them somewhere at all is very good.

>>5214942
Right, let's not take more time than we absolutely need to.

>>Write-In
>"Any threats I'm not aware of? What about your kin, any interference from them?"
>>
>>5214942
>>Write-In
"Do you have any advice for us? What do we need to watch out for as we climb the Cord?
>>
>>5214942
Damn. I had a feeling this would happen. This is just so goddamn sad. The kids I think will be understandably devastated. And it's gonna put that rocket launch into an entirely different context given that there's a fragment of Morningstar onboard. It'll turn the launch into something akin to a cosmic viking funeral.

Morningstar's a trooper. A prison of his own making, forced to wither away, and yet, he clings on in defiance in an effort to see the project end.


>Have a sad knowing smile on your face as you gently turn down his request.
>Gather the Apocalypse trio and spend the moment in silence as you bring the three close for physical and emotional support/comfort as they spend their last moments with their father on his deathbed. The death of their parent will be heavy upon them as a final lesson: All deaths are final.
>"...No need. You've already done so much for us with what you've given for us all in the now, for those that have come in past cycles, and for those that will come after. To strain yourself will do you and your children a disservice. I believe the time we have have left is best spent with you and yours love saying your final goodbyes, and cherishing the time spent together before it all ends."

>when the call ends and we're back in the Crucible, speak a eulogy through the tears that roll down your cheek for all to hear.

>https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWQrQJCxBYQ

>"It says something about Morningstar, father of the Apocalypse Three, Founder of the Crucible Project, about his true character. That for all the arrogance, corruption, and vile hedonism of his people...that...he still could see kindness, curiosity, and the greatness of spirit in those lesser than the people he was a part of. And he wanted more than anything else to be part of that..."
>"To be part of...something greater than him."
>"We are such stuff...as dreams are made off...And our little life...is rounded with a sleep."
>"Life is and has always been such a riddle, bringing rapture and sorrow. We listen, we suffer, and we entrust unto tomorrow."
>"Life decays and dies. At the same time, its born anew."
>"And yet at the same time, for those of us who are born with life, there is an immutable truth we must acknowledge. We live, we die, And we know."
>"Good night, Morningstar. May your legacy shine as brightly as you did in defiance of entropy. Sweet dreams."

>>5215033
>>5215012

But in terms of help that we can get, we don't have to ask him directly, There's the issue of the No-man's land as well as Sargatanas who guards the base of the Cord that we can consult/look up, but that obstacle can be solved as we go along. We still have Ozmas that we can look to for information as she was the one who climbed the cord and made it to the peak.

As for what to ask Morningstar, I don't think we should ask anything else. We've already gotten the most out of him in terms of his design intent, what happened to his peers, and our next steps.
>>
>>5215055
>>5214942
Bhop. I would like to edit my vote a bit. I'd still like to have the Eulogy bit and the linked song, but I want to save it for the Disassociated Rocket Launch, have the event serve as something of a funeral event for the Apocalypse Three so they can have the interim between his death and the rocket launch to properly grieve and say their final goodbyes in the real while they spend the time in Morningstar's prison being there for him on his deathbed.
>>
>>5215012
anon. He already stated that his kin are extinct, having been consumed and cannibalized by corrupted fragmented creations of their own. And the Apocalypse Trio in all strains and iterations of the Crucible are enough to deal with those corrupted creations of his kin, which is the whole point of the Apocalypse Trio planetary defense. The Trio are the defense mechanisms that destroy the corrupted Fragments.

>>5215033
I think we're already in good hands, asking him for advice kinda ruins the moment. We've got other ways to deal with the Cord. Other sources of info we can tap. Ozmas being one of them as she was the crucible's previous winner and had climbed the cord.
>>
>>5214923
>>5215012
linking the quote for reference in what I was referring to.

>“FOOL!” Leviathan suddenly snaps, rounding on their sibling. “YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE ASKED SO *BLATANTLY*. WHAT IF YOU’VE JUST PUT FATHER IN DAN-!”

>danger is no longer my concern
>little one
>the time for fear
>has long passed

>they made monstrous little motes, ravening abominations that mirrored their forebears. Ones that began to gnaw at their creators and were promptly torn asunder.
Morningstar implies that his kin tried the same thing as he did but when they turned into such horrible abominations, his kin promptly destroyed their creations (save for the few which the Apocalypse Trio had dealt with), which left them no other choice but simply wither and await their death.
>>
>>5215055
Hey, he's not dead yet. A eulogy would be nice, but let's save it for when he's properly gone. He said he was going to limp along to the end, and I believe in him. Especially if you want to cut the connection there and minimize the energy drain on him, that should give him some more time. We should hang on to the kind words until after he's fully passed, not give them in advance.

>>5215069
>>5215086
I'm not worried about the star gods themselves so much as them having left something behind we'd have to deal with. Whether a bigger version of the locusts or a trap they put in place or whatever. Though I suppose you're right that if there is, Morningstar's kids are the ones best poised to stop them, assuming they're a physical threat.
>>
>>5215012
you say that as if implying those threats/traps will be sprung the moment the crucible endsor that we'll live as long as the stargods themselves to see those threats arrive within the quest's scope. drop it. as much as it is wise and far-sighted, its also foolish to think like that. Let the others deal with it if/when it crops up in their lifetime.
>>
>>5215096
>Hey, he's not dead yet. A eulogy would be nice, but let's save it for when he's properly gone. He said he was going to limp along to the end, and I believe in him. Especially if you want to cut the connection there and minimize the energy drain on him, that should give him some more time. We should hang on to the kind words until after he's fully passed, not give them in advance.

fair enough. it doesn't hurt to prepare though. I'll edit my vote to something more appropriate.

Although a question does come to mind: Behemoth said that fragment wielders somehow manage to ascend faster. But we also have the Sargatana gatekeeping as the issue on the fact that he only lets one person in any given party to ascend the cord.

Asking for advice on the Cord might be more useful as the question encompasses hints on getting through Cord Obstacles and any potential hidden threats. But again, he's on his deathbed, and as defiant as he is, I'd rather not press him for too much information. A single question would suffice.
>>
>>5215111
I'm not worried about them being triggered when it ends, I'm worried about them being triggered when we try to end it. These were vindictive fuckers, they might have left one last "fuck you" for Morningstar that activates when someone tries to disarm the Crucibles.

On the other hand, if there were and he knew about them, I guess he would have mentioned it already. So actually, alright, I should change that vote. I still feel like we should ask him something, though. It just feels like such a wasted opportunity if we don't ask for details. But maybe that's just my loss-aversion instinct kicking in.

>>5215115
We do need more intel on the Cord, that's true. Professor Uzu's diary only goes up to what, like the fiftieth floor? Given how big it is, there should be many more floors than that. If we are to ask another question, details about the Cord could be a good one.
>>
>>5214942
Changing >>5215012 to

>>Write-In
>"Is there anything I should watch out for in the Cord?"
>Then, after that, let him spend however much more time he wants to with his kids, but don't take it up ourselves. We don't want to strain the guy. We still have to meet him at the top.

How's that?
>>
>>5215122
Why ask him? why not Ozmas? I can't help but wonder why we haven't approached her after all this time since our last time contacting her. I'm fine with asking for advice in climbing the cord, but what I worry is the amount of energy required that he'll expend trying to answer it as asking for advice is something of a loaded question.
>>
>>5214942

>>5215086
>>5215063
changing my vote to support >>5215135.

But save the eulogy for when Morningstar actually passes away.

>>5215135
seems good. a single question that lets him answer anyway how he wishes, after which we can cut the call or maintain it should he decides he wants to burn more energy to be with the family for a while longer.
>>
>>5215137
I think it's just because no one in our party trusted her. And I'm not sure we could go to her now without her being very spiteful to us for asking for help at this point. Would she agree to help, after we ignored her like this? I guess it's worth a shot, we could try her and see how upset she is with us. Or we could ask Ringo and Charon, they're also an option, Charon climbed the Cord in a previous iteration, and Ringo lived there, so they should know a fair bit about it.

>>5215150
Yeah, let's not pressure him with details. I want to ask him so much, but it's not practical to. You pointing out that we have other possible information sources for the Cord has me worried that even this is too much. But we'll leave it to him to decide how much he shares, and give as much time as we can for him being with his kids. Well, one iteration of his kids. Knowing that the Apocalypse Amalgams are duplicated over and over again across the galaxy does make this a bit weird. When all the iterations meet up after the Crucibles end, everyone is going to be so jealous of this Crucible's version.
>>
>>5215156
Well they do have the option to merge strains, so they might collectively decide that all of them should merge with ours, which would be a whole 'nother can full of writing worms in and of itself.
>>
(Updating momentarily everyone, and thank you for your patience.)
>>
>>5214942

"…Is there anything I should watch out for in the Cord?" You finally ask after a moment or two of solemn contemplation.

it is designed

to break you

crafted with every intent

to shatter wills

you’ve already proven yourself

resourceful enough

to deal with any physical threat it holds for you

but beware

its effects on the mind

“Good to know you think I’m prepared enough to scale it.” You respond with a sigh. “And I’ll be aware of any mental effects that may try and take hold of me.”

defiant

I do not doubt

your resolve

which is why

my warning

is not for you

but rather


those who fight beside you

“…Duly noted.” You say, albeit without the sigh that you’re incapable of exhaling in this void-space. “Is there anything else I should be aware of?”

the pieces of me

the fragments you’ve collected

each one

will allow you to traverse the more

shall we say

unforgiving

biomes

“I see…” You murmur, glancing to Lightbringer’s children as he speaks. Ziz is still wrapped in his arms, large eyes locked on her creator’s anomalous form, unblinking. Leviathan’s frantic back-and-forth has slowed, but not stopped completely—no doubt a whirlwind of considerations and hypotheses still consume their mind, unwilling as they are to admit the defeat their father’s already made his peace with. Behemoth, well…Behemoth’s gingerly been pulled closer and into Lightbringer’s embrace, but he’s yet to summon up the courage to look at his father. Rather, his eyes are instead fixed on his aquatic sibling, who remains oblivious to their brother’s attentions as they continue swimming in place.

“I’ll be honest…there are a million and one questions I want to ask you…” You say, finally. “…but take all the time you need with Ziz, Behemoth, and Leviathan.”

thank you

it is difficult

to hold on to four individuals

would you think ill of me

if I were to let you slip back

to your reality

“Think nothing of it.” You say, bowing out. “I’ll see you at the top of the Cord, Lightbringer.”

I will see you there

and that

is a promise

He smiles, as riotous colors melt back into reality’s concrete hue.

one defiant

to another

(Continued)
>>
>>5219943

When you’re whole again, you drag in a humid breath of the Fleshscape’s air as you gaze up at the three titans—bodies inert, minds still communing with the father for what may be the last time. The Sparagmos Engine still hums, though the hovering fragment’s radiance has dimmed to the point where you can merely avert your eyes to escape its blinding rays.

“Well?” Francine asks, her clipped tone betraying the concern you’ve come to appreciate, and you can feel the allies that’ve gathered around you hold their collective breath as you turn towards them and reply in a solemn tone.

“It worked.” You begin, simply. “Their creator…their father…he’s talking to them now. It may be the last chance they’ll get, so I’m giving them all the time they need.”

“Leviathan was right, then.” Dorian sighs. “Their father’s-?”

“Dying.” You nod, looking back up at the most overtly intellectual of Lightbringer’s progeny. “Turns out he’s outlived his peers, as well. He’s now the last of his kind.”

“Given what we know of them, that kinda works in our favor, doesn’t it?” Gina murmurs beside you, placing her arm on your shoulder. You turn, smiling at her until you catch sight of Rath a few paces away, eyes glowing bright and transfixed, much like yours were, on Leviathan’s dormant form. Her face is taut, strained with an emotion you can’t quite place…and you cross the space, reaching out with a caring hand.

Your wrist snaps like so much charred, brittle kindling when Rath rounds on you with a burning hatred in her eyes, and it’s only the restorative heat that flares from your friend’s body that stops her other hand from tearing through your throat. The roar she looses is raw and bestial, her tears leaving scorch marks as they roll down her cheeks…and then, you see it. Her eyes clear, and the rage and sorrow are both wiped clear by the abject horror that takes its place.

“Fuck! Shit, Shu, I’m so sorry! I didn’t…I-!” She stammers, cradling your broken arm in her hands as you drop to your knees, teeth grit against searing pain. All it takes is a sharp intake of breath from you before a cast of golden threads snap shut beneath her fingers, Francine’s healing swiftly restoring your hand to the way it was.

“S’okay. You’re okay.” You assure a thoroughly panicked Rath, looping your arm around the other girl’s shoulder as she helps you up.

“I didn’t mean to, I just…I don’t know what came over me, I-!“

“Hey, you have nothing to apologize for…” Comes your echoed assurance as you look up at the dormant Behemoth. “…I think I’ve got a good idea of what’s going on.”

>>Hold, for now…the amalgams need to grieve, and you’re not going to interrupt that.

>>Reinforce the terraforming, and be ready for when the trio comes to.

>>You need to get ahead of whatever this is—use your abilities to try and calm Behemoth.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in approximately four, if all goes well with work.)
>>
>>5219949
Shit. Behemoth, being the baby of the bunch isn't taking the idea that his father's dying very well.

>Behemoth, well…Behemoth’s gingerly been pulled closer and into Lightbringer’s embrace, but he’s yet to summon up the courage to look at his father. Rather, his eyes are instead fixed on his aquatic sibling, who remains oblivious to their brother’s attentions as they continue swimming in place.

I'm willing to guess that he rolled poorly on his courage dice rolls and has decided to redirect his rage towards his brother, which is definitely not good, because to him, this will all reek of his brother's scheming as Levi is a fragment of his father's wit and mind given that Behemoth's mentally the youngest and emotionally vulnerable of the bunch.

First thing's first: We're gonna need to ready the arena the moment Behemoth starts swinging when he's back in the real, do this to minimize the understandably massive collateral he will inflict. If Behemoth is anything like Rath at all, then We're gonna have to brace for the storm of his blows, He's gonna be wanting to vent both physically and emotionally. The longer we help Leviathan weather the blows, the more likely he'll lose steam. We'll have to trade off targets to attrit him of both his rage and steam.

Second: we're gonna have to nudge him in a way that helps him vent via talking as well. The more he talks, the less energy he directs into his attacks.

Third: Leviathan. Understandably he's gonna try and talk over his brother when the fists start swinging, while fighting back. And he's gonna bear the brunt of most of Behemoth's attacks. We'll have to have him shut up and listen to his brother. We'll likely have to support him in weathering his brother's blows.

four: The trio will need help in understanding the death of a family and how to move on and accept it. Behemoth's the most problematic as he'll be prone to physically lash out. Leviathan will try to logic his way out, and will likely drive himself insane in the process so we'll need a way to get him to stop thinking. Ziz is arguably the most stable of the trio.

Five: Ziz is ziz. She'll help in her own way.
>>
>>5219943
>Lightbringer

Wait. why the name change from "Morningstar" to "Lightbringer"? Is it a different way to say the name we gave him?

Or was Lightbringer his past name?
>>
>>5219989
(...because I'm an idiot, and completely fried. It's absolutely supposed to be Morningstar. My sincerest apologies.)
>>
>>5219983
>>5219989
(And now the post has been up too long and I can't bamboozle, god damn it.)
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>>5219994
Ironically, Lightbringer is another name for "Lucifer" in Latin, which is coincidentally that same name for "Morning star."

Modern scholarship generally translates the term in the relevant Bible passage where the Ancient Greek figure's name was historically used (Isaiah 14:12) as "morning star" or "shining one" rather than as a proper noun, Lucifer.

So it's still the same name, but he's trading the less "ambitious" connotation associated with "Lightbringer" for the more ambiguous "Morningstar"
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>>5220002
(I guarantee you that's where the brain glitch occurred, as I was actually researching the name...plus, 'Lightbringer' is also the name of an ability used in a game I was playing last week, hence how it ended up sneaking into my typing finger.)
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>>5219994
"Lucifer" (Light-Bringer) is a proper noun and is capitalized in English. In Greco-Roman civilization, it was often personified and considered a god and in some versions considered a son of Aurora (the Dawn).

>>5220000
>(And now the post has been up too long and I can't bamboozle, god damn it.)
oof. Here, have an image that represents yfw you notice the error far too late.
>>
>>5220006
(The fourth panel has been the last five days, for me.)
>>
>>5219943
>the pieces of me
>the fragments you’ve collected
>each one
>will allow you to traverse the more
>shall we say
>unforgiving
>biomes
Okay, that's handy. Transporting the Hope Fragment through the Cord might be hard, though. It is very large. Then again, given that the early floors of the Cord punish spawning constructs, we're likely to spawn a huge army of them before heading in, so I guess they could carry it.

>>5219949
Getting some negative effects from the feedback to Behemoth, I see. Crap. Okay, let's all back away from Behemoth and be ready for if he comes out of this conversation throwing a tantrum.

>>5220003
At least we didn't call him "Phosphorous". It would be technically accurate but sounds really weird to the ear of a culture that's been using that word to mean a substance for the past couple hundred years.

>>5220008
Sorry to hear that, BHOP. I hope things get better for you, soon.
>>
>>5220011
There's also the second half of his advice that Morningstar has given us to consider:

>defiant
>I do not doubt
>your resolve
>which is why
>my warning
>is not for you
>but rather
>those who fight beside you

It's not that we're gonna climb the Cord solo. It's that it's anticipated that we'll climb the Cord together with everyone under our banner. It's very much guaranteed that Shu's got the will and resolve to get past the Cord's trials, but the real trial will be assisting our friends and allies through the trials. We're only as strong as our weakest link in our party. The moment one of our own falls and falters is the moment the chain reaction of inter-party destruction begins.
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>>5219949
>>Write-In
>Everyone who can move without interrupting their call, back away to outside Behemoth's immediate swinging distance.
>Be ready to tether-grab anyone who can't move and pull them back quickly.
>Be on guard to immediately throw up terraforming obstacles..
>Most of all, try not to look like we're expecting a fight, because if Behemoth comes out of this angry and sees us all pointing weapons at him, he might assume this was all a trick and respond even worse.
>Also, see if Rath can send some good vibes Behemoth's way, talk with her and have a nice, relaxing conversation while we wait for the Apocalypse Amalgams to disconnect.
>>
>>5220011
>Getting some negative effects from the feedback to Behemoth, I see. Crap. Okay, let's all back away from Behemoth and be ready for if he comes out of this conversation throwing a tantrum.

What I'm worried about more is that Behemoth's rage may have a "target". And before we left Morningstar's Phantom zone, he was laser focused on Leviathan with a look of wanting to throttle his sibling.

And the fact that Rath and Behemoth are resonating with each other means that we can help treat the issue and blunt the worst of the effects. We can give Behemoth space to grieve, but there's the collateral that we have to consider. He'll need to vent.
>>
>>5220015
Yep. We need to send everyone in our party to therapy before we climb. Only half-joking, we clearly need to talk with them about their issues and get them some mental clarity and resolve before we head up. Like, we've been putting it off because first the fight with Merkabah and then preparing for Behemoth came up, but Amara dropped some serious stuff about her past and why she bonded to Shu so readily, and we need to talk with her about it. Or Dorian, he hasn't mentioned his mother and sister much despite clearly missing them a great deal, we should see if that's something that a mind-fucky Cord could use to manipulate his perceptions and throw him off his game. You need some closure on that, buddy?
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>>5220017
Yep. That's why my orders are to back out of swinging range. Behemoth might calm down before the call ends, but I think he's going to come out thrashing.
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>>5220016
I'd rather treat this as the time we helped Rath talk through her problems back in the 41st vein via punching bag therapy (see link for reference).

https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2020/4168332/#p4179118

If Rath and Behemoth are birds of a feather, then we help Behemoth talk through his problems while he gets to vent physically before he tires out. But we'll have to make it sturdy.
>Also, see if Rath can send some good vibes Behemoth's way, talk with her and have a nice, relaxing conversation while we wait for the Apocalypse Amalgams to disconnect.
Sending good vibes behemoth's way feels counter-productive. How about giving him a suggestion where we help him vent his strength and work through his emotions? We can also help with sympathizing with his pain in the effect that there are several of our members who have lost someone close to them.
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>>5220025
Sure, giving Behemoth something to take his anger out on constructively is a good idea for when he wakes. I was just thinking of this in a preparatory sense. What to do to handle the initial burst of anger, and then write plans to help him cope after we see exactly how he's angry.

And yeah, you're right, "send good vibes" is a little generic and not likely to help. I actually like the punching bag idea, maybe we could terraform one for Rath to punch on and convey to Behemoth the feeling of working out stress hitting things? No, wait, that might convince him hitting Leviathan is a good idea, if he gets that without any other direction. Okay, how about a big FuzzBuzz pillow to scream into? Same sort of cathartic release, less violent.
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>>5220041
>Big fuzzbuzz pillow
Anon. Behemoth's 1 km large. We're gonna need a LOT of Biomass. And he might take the Fuzzbuzz badly. Although now that I think about it...most kids tend to have something of a favorite stuffed doll that helps give them comfort. yeah. The fuzzbuzz idea might work, but it will have to be delivered delicately.
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>>5220045
Delicately...... that i think he would take badly.

He is pretty much a boy. So he should get a boys toy. The limited Edition Battle Buzz! Only one was ever made. He can do poses and is all spiky and edgy. Right at home with a still growing teenager ;)
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>>5220045
Oh, I meant for Rath to scream into and send the feeling of that to Behemoth, but giving Behemoth one would also be nice. So two big fluffy FuzzBuzzes, just one being significantly bigger than the other.

So

>>5219949
Changing >>5220016
from
>Also, see if Rath can send some good vibes Behemoth's way, talk with her and have a nice, relaxing conversation while we wait for the Apocalypse Amalgams to disconnect.

to

>Talk with Rath, help her work through the anger she's getting from Behemoth, see if that can translate back across the link to Behemoth and help him.
>Give her a big fluffy FuzzBuzz to scream into if she needs to work that anger out without hitting something.
>Be prepared to make Behemoth his own FuzzBuzz if it looks like it will help him, such as if he comes out of the call more sulky than raging or if we manage to calm him down and he needs some comfort.

How's that?

>>5220047
Yeah, that could work. My own idea for a customized FuzzBuzz for him was for it to combine features of a hercules and stag beetle, as well. Big horn, big mandibles, very aggressive and imposing. But giving it less fluff than usual could also be a good idea.
>>
>>5220047
Oh my. I love that design.

But I think the Battle-Buzz idea will work as a truce sort of offering, not as a "help a grieving child vent" sort of thing.
>>
(...that's actually adorable.)
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>>5220047
Oh, I just realized that the face is the fuzzy, suggesting it's a more normal bee wearing a suit. That's cute. And actually, maybe those are its front legs poking out around the chest area? Is this a bee mecha? Yes, I'm declaring that it is. Alright, BattleBuzz is a regular FuzzBuzz in a little bee mecha, that's too good not to be true.
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>>5220052
No. There needs to be fluff! The fluff will have to be strategically placed to maximize the coolness factor!
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>>5220066
Right, of course. As >>5220062 said, BattleBuzz should be a completely normal FuzzBuzz that happens to be wearing a little mecha made of chitin.

Anyway, enough designing our toy line, is there anything else that should be added to the "prepare for Behemoth coming out of the call" vote? Maybe have the Skintalkers stand ready with a calming spell? That could be seen by him as being manipulative, though.
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>>5220070
I'd rather let behemoth vent his grief. The best we can do is to prepare for the coming clash and give him the aid needed to help work him through his emotions. interference and intervention will have to be done with his consent. Keep in mind, we're there to support him, not control him.
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>>5220081
Yeah, that was sort of my thinking, too. However effective it might be in the moment to dampen his emotions, it's counterproductive in the long run and sends a bad message. I think I just needed to hear another person say it so I could convince myself I wasn't wasting a potential solution.
>>
>>5220083
>>5220070
Now that I think about it. I think a Kaiju-sized Battle-Buzz would be a perfect toy/target dummy to help Behemoth work through his emotions. The fact that the mecha-bits are mostly Chitin will mean it can take the beating.
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>>5220085
disregard that.
>>
(Alright everyone, I'm going to have to push the next update to tomorrow at 12PM, Eastern time. Work has kept me busy enough to prevent me from writing at all since the last update, and that pressure looks to stay until end of day. My apologies for the delay, and I appreciate your patience with this tumultuous week. I wish you a restful evening, and take care.)
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>>5220159
That's fine, BHOP. I'm sorry your day is going rough. I hope it gets better, and you get some time to rest eventually. See you tomorrow, friend.
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>>5220159
Do what you have to do Bhop. You're not the only one uncomfortable here. My new position at work has left me trying to fight old habits.
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>>5219949

“Everyone who can move without interrupting the call, back away to outside Behemoth's immediate striking distance and prepare for the possibility that one or more of these three are going to come out swinging.” You declare to the gathered crowd. “But try not to look like we’re expecting a fight. If Behemoth comes out angry and sees us rattling sabers, then that’ll make things a whole lot worse.”

While the troops prepare once more for the threat of combat, you turn to Rath, flashing her a smile to chase away the last vestiges of her shame and worry.

“Hey, look at me—I’m okay, but I’m more worried about you right now." You say, reaching out and placing your hand on the shorter girl’s shoulder. “How’re you feeling? Has the link subsided at all?”

“Sort of? It’s…it crept up on me, now that I’m thinking back on it.” Comes the redhead’s guilty reply. “I didn’t even realize how bad it’d gotten, until you…yeah.“

“I see…do you think it could work in reverse?” You ask, seizing the opportunity. “Now that we’re fully aware of just how potent this could be, how comfortable do you feel with trying to just…blast him with good vibes?”

“Heh, well…it’d be easier if-“ She begins, just in time for a FuzzBuzz to pop out from behind your left shoulder, its bright red mane bouncing as it flits over to your brawler’s waiting arms. “Oh yeah. That’s the stuff.”

“Not going to lie, I’m considering making Behemoth one if he comes to in more a sulky mood than a…’destroy everything’ sort of feel.” You admit with a sigh. “I can only hope that-“

You’re interrupted when the trio begins to stir, and you take a step back to watch as consciousness is restored to the mountains of flesh and blood that loom over the ritual site. The siblings stand there for a long moment as they allow the new paradigm to settle in, and you give them the time they need. It’s Ziz who moves first, as you’ve come to expect—the shy little bird boldly raising her head to the skies as all seven heads draw in a long breath of resolve.

“Okay. Okay, so…so I think what we need to do first is-” She begins before Leviathan interrupts, voice chilled with a tone plucked from oceanic depths.

“*THINKING*, DEAR SISTER? THAT’S MY JOB.” The world serpent bites. “NOW, SNAP TO IT—IF WE HURRY, THERE’S STILL TIME.”

“Time? For what?” She retorts.

“TO SAVE FATHER.”

“But…but didn’t you hear a word of what he said?!” Ziz replies, confusion and frustration plain for all to hear.

“DID *YOU*?” Leviathan roars, the river’s burning waters echoing their words. “IT’S CLEAR AS DAY THE DEGRADATION HAS GIVEN HIM LEAVE OF HIS SENSES. NOW, BY CONDUCTING A RITUAL LIKE THIS ONE ON A MUCH GRANDER SCALE, WE MAY BE ABLE TO SIPHON ENOUGH POWER BACK TO-”

You never thought you’d see the day when a mountain moves like lightning.

(Continued)
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>>5221093

Behemoth’s foreleg snaps out with a crack of thunderous movement, catching Leviathan’s face in its annihilating arc and sending the colossus sprawling across the beach, the serpent collapsing with such force that the sand and rocks beneath their massive form are pulverized into glass.

“YOU! You KNEW!”

Behemoth’s bellowed accusation shatters bone and boils blood, you and your allies only spared from the effects of his catastrophic rage by a blessed combination of your own forethought and Ziz’s quick thinking, her wings sweeping low to shield you from the brunt of his fury.

“You KNEW he was DYING! And you TOLD us NOTHING!”

“BECAUSE I KNEW YOU’D REACT LIKE *THIS*! YOU’D FALL TO PIECES, JUST LIKE YOU’RE-AAARGH!” Leviathan howls, their counter cut off by Behemoth’s violent Neuromancy, the shoreline seizing up into a field of jagged spikes. The great serpent’s flesh is shorn away on their spines, loosing a reeking, brackish ooze that spills forth to sizzle on the rocky beachhead…but it’s only for a split-second, before the titan’s regeneration becomes viscerally apparent. The ragged skin hangs flayed for only a second before it writhes, manifesting a legion of aquatic life that practically swim across raw muscle to knit the edges of the wound back together as one.

“NO! You ALWAYS do this! You ALWAYS leave me and ZIZ in the DIRT! You ALWAYS pick SOMETHING so USELESS to focus on! If you really CARED for Father, you’d have TOLD us SOMETHING!” Behemoth bellows with all the rage the earth can muster. “But NO. No, you THINK and THINK and THINK you’re the SMARTEST of us, when you NEVER even CARED about FATHER in the FIRST place! It’s no WONDER he didn’t LOVE a HOLLOW thing like YOU!”

“YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN AN IMBECILE, BEHEMOTH, BUT THIS TRULY IS YOUR CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT. TAKING THE FRUSTRATION OUT ON ME, THE FRUSTRATING REALIZATION THAT YOU CHARGED BLINDLY AHEAD, CYCLE AFTER CYCLE, AND DID PRECISELY *NOTHING* TO FURTHER FATHER’S TRUE GOALS. YOU FEARED YOU WERE USELESS…AND HEY, CONGRATULATIONS! FOR THE FIRST TIME IN ALL OUR EONS…”

The shoreline deepens at Leviathan’s back, the waters receding to wrap around their controller and form a sheathe of roiling acid.

“...YOU FINALLY WERE RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING, BROTHER.”

The two are perched on the precipice of even greater violence…but something’s wrong. Your body isn’t reacting, your hive has yet to thrum with the preparations you don’t even have to think about. Here, in this brief, fleeting moment—the two titans are so wholly consumed with their own feud that you might as well not exist.

You’ve got a chance to turn the tide.

But as for how? Well…

You are in control.

>>Hold back and see if a fight well and truly is engaged.

>>Act now, and attempt to separate the pair with Ziz’s help.

>>Take a side in the hopes of defusing one’s aggression and getting an edge on the other.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume in five.)
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>>5221094
Damn it, you two. Ziz, how have you put up with them all these eons?

Okay, so we should break this up, but I'm not sure how to even start. Maybe trigger the deadfall so that Leviathan can crawl back into the ocean? That might make it look like we're taking his side to Behemoth, though, so we need some way to make it clear we're not. We could bolster Ziz, let her get in between them. Or, here's an idea, can she do Skintalking? Mixing in a Skintalking calming spell with her shouting for her siblings to stop fighting could be very effective. Amara's got a weird psychic link with her, is it possible to channel one of Amara's spells through Ziz?
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>>5221094
Goddammit. I knew this was gonna happen. How are we gonna fix this mess now that the two brothers are feuding?

First off. We have almost no context as to what happened during the private conversation. But we do have ideas. First off, Levi's clearly still adamant in saving Morningstar despite everything. Behemoth's accusing Levi of not being very responsible. Ziz clearly has something to say, but she was rudely interrupted by Leviathan who's clearly working himself up in a tizzy and anxiously trying to "think of a way to defeat his father's death".

>>5221094
>"One moment, the two of you were at each other's throats for the many cycles of petty feuds the two of you have brought upon yourselves and each other, the next you're willing to cooperate because you wish to see your father. And now after having seen your father for the first time in eons, having been told that he's on his deathbed, your first reaction all of this is to both disregard your father's wishes and prepare yourselves to commit fratricide?"

>>5221110
We're lacking context as to what happened.
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>>5221123
>We're lacking context as to what happened.
That's a good point. Let's ask Ziz. We can use neuromancy to speed the info dump.

>>5221094
>>Write-In
>Jack into Ziz with the FuzzBuzz we gave her, neuromantic communications are faster.
>"Ziz, what the hell happened after I left?"
>>
>>5221094
>Hold back and see if a fight well and truly is engaged.

>Ask Ziz for context.

>If the fight is well and truly engaged, let the boys vent their frustration and beat each other up before stepping in at a critical moment that doesn't get both of them killed AND getting Ziz or any one of our allies killed.
>While the two of them are fighting, coordinate with your allies and Ziz to ready a way to separate the two by tossing the two into places wholly out of their element. Get Leviathan into the land-bound pit while stranding Behemoth on an island in the river.

>"Are the two of you done? Or are the two of you fully willing to disregard reason and loyalty in favor of this?"
>"LOOK AT YOURSELVES!"
>"Is all of *gestures to everything here with your hundred hands* THIS worth breaking your sister's heart!?"
>"Is all of the 776 cycles you've endured worth discarding in favor of settling a petty grudge?"
>"The completion of your father's plan and wishes disregarded in favor of ego-driven-rage-fueled Fratricide?"
>"HE. IS. WATCHING. And I can guarantee you that he is roiling and rolling in his deathbed!"

>If the two brothers start playing the blame game shut it down.
>"NO! NO BLAME GAMES, NO POINTING FINGERS, I WILL HAVE NONE OF IT! THE TWO OF YOU ARE GUILTY OF THIS FEUD REGARDLESS OF WHO STARTED IT! I HEAR ONE MORE WORD OF THIS NONSENSE then so help me Morningstar, I will beat the two of you to death's door, and drag your souls back before your father and have the two of you explain all of this to him!"

>"The two of you have two choices before you. Condemnation by continuing your feud and killing one another, or Absolution, where you TALK AND LISTEN to each other and bury the hatchet. Not talk past each other, Not talk down to one another, talk TO each other."

>"And if the two of you think you're okay with condemning everyone and the entire Crucible project to entropy's embrace without seeing its completion. THEN FINE! IT IS YOUR CHOICE. Let it be known that the Crucible project will NEVER see the FRUITS of its eons-long LABOR! Let it be known that the CYCLE will continue AD-INFINITUM until ENTROPY embraces us all! Let it be KNOWN that the WORST of all FATES came to pass because TWO bickering BROTHERS could not bring to themselves the COURAGE and REASON that THEY had a CHOICE to be BETTER than themselves BUT discarded that path in FAVOR of a lesser SELFISH choice! Just like all the other ascendants of previous cycles."

Yeah... the two brothers need a reality check and a stern parental figure. They've never been scolded before, they've never known shame. Now is the time to activate our parenting skills and have them learn humility.
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>>5221110
No. I think the deadfall should be reserved for Leviathan. Given that the feud between the two have been exclusively the two of them, siding with one means that the other will very much be unwilling to cooperate. And when it comes to parenting, they've never known what it means to have someone to show them the wrongs or the rights of a choice. They've never known what it means to make a choice. Given that their father has been absent for 776 cycles, they're very much like childless parents.

Disciplining both of them at the same time on equal grounds of their feud would instill the idea that none of them are above punishment. Both of them know they want to see the project come to completion, but the point of contention is each other's personality. Ironic. For so long we've been given binary choice after binary choice, now it's our turn to subject them to what we've endured, to have them feel the weight of the world on their shoulders, to see what is worth more in their hearts: their personal egos or their collective goals.
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>>5221147
>>5221094
Keep in mind that this is reserved for stepping in after letting Behemoth and Leviathan beat each other silly.
A continuation of our chew out on the two titans:

>"I am not and will not be heading for the Cord. I refuse. Not while the two of you still refuse to come to terms with each other and reconcile your grievances. And if you decide that by murdering one another is a way to reconcile, then I refuse to head for the Cord regardless. I am willing to wait until the two of you have settled your differences. We've got plenty of time. And if either of you think you can force me to Climb the Cord and complete it..."

>"Well...both of you know what happens next."
>>
>>5221129
>>5221110
Any thoughts on the merits of letting the two brothers beat each other up before stepping in and verbally chewing both of them out?

Additionally, we should ask for advice on how to settle a sibling feud. I'm sure some of our allies have "fond" memories of seeing their siblings get into a feud and getting chewed out by their parents.
>>
>>5221147
for clarity's sake
I'm editing this from
>If the fight is well and truly engaged, let the boys vent their frustration and beat each other up before stepping in at a critical moment that doesn't get both of them killed AND getting Ziz or any one of our allies killed.

to
>If the fight is well and truly engaged, let the boys vent their frustration and beat each other up while you, Ziz, and your allies make preparations to intervene at a critical moment. When the opportunity arises to interfere and the two are well bloodied, step in and redirect their attacks that have them end up in places out of their element: Leviathan in the pit that we originally arranged for Behemoth while ends up treading acid in the river.
>ensure that none of our lesser allies get caught up in the collateral while the two brothers punch each other silly.
>once the two of them are out of their element and taking the time to reassess their surroundings after we've put them in places out of their element, we begin the verbal chew out.
>>
>>5221167
Right, sorry, just been sort of musing over it without actually posting anything. I think it's pretty good, but I've got some comments.

I'd like to try to get them to break it up peacefully before they fight. It probably won't work, but I think having offered to let them do it the easy way will make the authoritative act more effective. "I said break it up, children. I wasn't asking." I'm thinking we should terraform a low wall between them, a nice little symbolic separation of the space. Then tell them nice and plain to calm down and to not let this escalate into something they can't come back from. Then when we make time-out zones and get harsh it will really hit them that they've made Mom mad.

I think we should put in some place for Ziz to try to talk to her siblings, too. Someplace after we've scolded them, I think. Turn to Ziz and ask what she was saying before Leviathan and Behemoth interrupted her. We're going to do this civilly, that means everyone gets to talk.

I'm also not super keen on the "if you're going to be like this then I won't climb the Cord at all" bit, because we're not sure what Leviathan has planned. It kind of sounds like they might be fine with that so long as they can do their own thing to rescue their dad, and I don't want to push them on that in case they call the bluff.
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>>5221191
Hmm...you've got good points. I like the idea of drawing the line in the sand that tests them whether or not they're fully willing to set their differences aside, before going fully "mom is angry" on the two.

>I'm also not super keen on the "if you're going to be like this then I won't climb the Cord at all" bit, because we're not sure what Leviathan has planned. It kind of sounds like they might be fine with that so long as they can do their own thing to rescue their dad, and I don't want to push them on that in case they call the bluff.
Fair enough.

let me edit my giant compilation of write-ins.
>>
>>5221094
>>5221147
>>5221160
>>5221190
compiling my write-ins to current edit below:

>Hold back and see if a fight well and truly is engaged.
>use Terraforming alongside with your allies to draw a low wall on the Beach that acts as a metaphorical line in the sand.
>"Break it up Children. I wasn't asking. Now we can do this the easy way, nice and civil where we sit down, calm ourselves down and talk this over. Assess the problem together in a collaborative way."
>"Can the three of you explain what happened while I was away?"

>If the fight is well and truly engaged, let the boys vent their frustration and beat each other up while you, Ziz, and your allies make preparations to intervene at a critical moment. When the opportunity arises to interfere and the two are well bloodied, step in and redirect their attacks that have them end up in places out of their element: Leviathan in the pit that we originally arranged for Behemoth while ends up treading acid in the river.
>ensure that none of our lesser allies get caught up in the collateral while the two brothers punch each other silly.
>once the two of them are out of their element and taking the time to reassess their surroundings after we've put them in places out of their element, we begin the verbal chew out.

>"One moment, the two of you were at each other's throats for the many cycles of petty feuds the two of you have brought upon yourselves and each other, the next you're willing to cooperate because you wish to see your father. And now after having seen your father for the first time in eons, having been told that he's on his deathbed, your first reaction all of this is to both disregard your father's wishes and prepare yourselves to commit fratricide?"
>If the two brothers start playing the blame game shut it down.
>"NO! NO BLAME GAMES, NO POINTING FINGERS, I WILL HAVE NONE OF IT! THE TWO OF YOU ARE GUILTY OF THIS FEUD REGARDLESS OF WHO STARTED IT! I HEAR ONE MORE WORD OF THIS NONSENSE then so help me Morningstar, I will beat the two of you to death's door, and drag your souls back before your father and have the two of you explain all of this to him!"
>"LOOK AT YOURSELVES!"
>"Is all of *gestures to everything here with your hundred hands* THIS worth breaking your sister's heart!?"
>"Is all of the 776 cycles you've endured worth discarding in favor of settling a petty grudge?"
>"The completion of your father's plan and wishes disregarded in favor of ego-driven-rage-fueled Fratricide?"
>"HE. IS. WATCHING. And I can guarantee you that he is roiling and rolling in his deathbed!"

(1/2)
>>
>>5221214
>>5221094

>"The two of you have two choices before you. Condemnation by continuing your feud and killing one another, or Absolution, where you TALK AND LISTEN to each other and bury the hatchet. Not talk past each other, Not talk down to one another, talk TO each other."

>"And if the two of you think you're okay with condemning everyone and the entire Crucible project to entropy's embrace without seeing its completion. THEN FINE! THEN THAT WILL BE YOUR CHOICE. LET it be known that the CRUCIBLE project will NEVER see the FRUITS of its eons-long LABOR! Let it be known that the CYCLE will continue AD-INFINITUM until ENTROPY embraces us all! Let it be KNOWN that the WORST of all FATES came to pass because TWO bickering BROTHERS could not bring to themselves the COURAGE and REASON that THEY had a CHOICE to be BETTER than themselves but DISCARDED that path in FAVOR of a lesser SELFISH CHOICE!"

>"So are we going to talk this out? Or are we gonna watch heads roll as this feud boil over?"

>reserve the time and space after our chew out to let Ziz and our other allies pitch in talking/convincing them into dropping the fight in favor of civil discussion.

(2/2)
>>
>>5221191
Do you think we should spawn Battle-Buzz and have it serve as a figurative carrot for Behemoth as an incentive to drop the fighting?
>>
>>5221229
Not yet. Behemoth probably won't respond well to being bribed with an action figure.
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>>5221250
Point. It'll probably reinforce the point better if it was given as a reward for good behavior if he does gather the courage to do a proper sit-down and talk things out.

Although speaking of this, it feels like we're somewhat back to square one and a half. We've got combat brewing, but this time the belligerents aren't us and Behemoth, it's Behemoth and Leviathan.
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>>5221256
Yeah. It does feel like trying to talk with these people rationally was a waste. But hey, at least we tried. We reasoned with Behemoth, we're going to yell at Behemoth and Leviathan now, and if that doesn't work we'll have to fight Behemoth. There's a part of me that keeps trying to think "maybe we can still reason it out", but I'm trying to write out a less angry version (or at least cold anger) of what we're trying to say and it's not gelling. Maybe some shame and guilt tripping will do the job, I don't know, but I just don't know what else to do.
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>>5221265
Like, does any of this look usable?

>>Write-In
>Get a quick summary from Ziz on what happened in the call after we left, though we can guess.

>Terraform a low wall between Leviathan and Behemoth, symbolically separating them.
>"Alright, you two, break it off. You've said some harsh words to each other, don't let this escalate beyond that. Back away and calm down."

IF they listen to reason, THEN

>"I know you two are upset. You have a lot of reasons to be. But this doesn't help you. We can fix this, save your Father and fulfill his wishes, but only if we work together. There's nothing to be gained by fighting with each other."
>"Behemoth, you're angry at your sibling but there's no need to tell them that your father doesn't love them. You know that's not true, he loves and is proud of all of you. Leviathan, you're supposed to be the smart one, does calling your brother stupid sound like it would help resolve this? You're both better than this, you shouldn't let these arguments get out of hand."


IF they fight, THEN

>Let them vent their frustration on each other for a bit while we work with Ziz and our allies to intervene and break them up. Once they've started to tire, physically separate them, Leviathan on land and Behemoth in the water.
>Ensure that none of our allies get caught up in the fighting, nobody take excess risks.
>"I said calm down. I wasn't asking."
>"What do you think is more important, kids? Saving your father and fulfilling his plans? Or trying to kill each other over this grudge you've been nursing for the last few eons?"
>"This isn't worth it, and you both know it. Don't play the blame game with me, Leviathan fucked up by not telling you sooner but your response was not appropriate, Behemoth. It doesn't matter who started it, what matters is that we do something constructive instead of pointlessly feuding while your father, the Crucibles, and the entire damn universe slip further into oblivion."
>"We have a chance, here and now, to do this right. But it can't happen if you're not able to work together. You don't have to like each other, but you have to be able to get along. To reconcile, even just the tiniest bit, so you can cooperate on finishing this. You have issues with each other, fine. But don't just fight like this. Either find a way to talk to each other and resolve your problems like adults,
>"Now, Ziz, you were saying something, before this?

I kind of like the "What do you think is more important, kids?" part, but that's it. The rest just feels...flacid, you know? Not strong enough, too worried about their reaction to actually say something real. I'm not good at defusing arguments between other people.
>>
>>5221267
A lot of this is usable. Throw it in as your vote because when I did my write-in I went and wrote it in the mindset that they were gonna punch each other anyway and was in the mindset of just writing raw matronly rage and indignation, channeling a side that Shu rarely expresses. I wasn't considering how to calm down and talk more reasonably, instead trying to bank on the emotional weight of inducing shame and humility on the two of them to get them to snap to their senses.

I think we can weave the votes together to something more cohesive, where your write-ins are that of a side where Shu's managed to restrain her emotions into something more manageable after letting her lips fly in anger at the sight of the two brothers basically ignoring the lessons and the reality of the situation.
>>
>>5221278
Alright, I'll add it as my vote, then.

>>5221094
>>Write-In
>Get a quick summary from Ziz on what happened in the call after we left, though we can guess.

>Terraform a low wall between Leviathan and Behemoth, symbolically separating them.
>"Alright, you two, break it off. You've said some harsh words to each other, don't let this escalate beyond that. Back away and calm down."

IF they listen to reason, THEN

>"I know you two are upset. You have a lot of reasons to be. But this doesn't help you. We can fix this, save your Father and fulfill his wishes, but only if we work together. There's nothing to be gained by fighting with each other."
>"Behemoth, you're angry at your sibling but there's no need to tell them that your father doesn't love them. You know that's not true, he loves and is proud of all of you. Leviathan, you're supposed to be the smart one, does calling your brother stupid sound like it would help resolve this? You're both better than this, you shouldn't let these arguments get out of hand."


IF they fight, THEN

>Let them vent their frustration on each other for a bit while we work with Ziz and our allies to intervene and break them up. Once they've started to tire, physically separate them, Leviathan on land and Behemoth in the water.
>Ensure that none of our allies get caught up in the fighting, nobody take excess risks.
>"I said calm down. I wasn't asking."
>"What do you think is more important, kids? Saving your father and fulfilling his plans? Or trying to kill each other over this grudge you've been nursing for the last few eons?"
>"This isn't worth it, and you both know it. Don't play the blame game with me, Leviathan fucked up by not telling you sooner but your response was not appropriate, Behemoth. It doesn't matter who started it, what matters is that we do something constructive instead of pointlessly feuding while your father, the Crucibles, and the entire damn universe slip further into oblivion."
>"We have a chance, here and now, to do this right. But it can't happen if you're not able to work together. You don't have to like each other, but you have to be able to get along. To reconcile, even just the tiniest bit, so you can cooperate on finishing this. You have issues with each other, fine. But don't just fight like this. Either find a way to talk to each other and resolve your problems like adults,
>"Now, Ziz, you were saying something, before this?
>>
Man, this confrontation is definitely an ugly one. The rolls were on pins and needles, we've managed to get them to cooperate, but now it feels like things are once again back on a knife's edge. I'm heading to work soon. New position's beginning to demand longer hours in addition to seasonal shift in business. Take care Bhop.
>>
>>5221332
Yep. It's tense.

Have a nice day, anon.
>>
>>5221332
>>5221338
(Hey, I'll likely have to go down to one post per day until the end of this week - my evenings are stuffed and I have less than half the time I'd normally have e to get the updates in order, so I'll be pushing the next update to tomorrow at 12PM Eastern time. I hate to do this, but it's for my own sanity at this point. Thank you for your patience and participation, and I wish you all a restful evening.)
>>
>>5221358
It's fine, BHOP. I get it. I'm sorry your evenings are so busy lately. Or not sorry? You didn't actually say if they were busy with bad or good things. I hope it's good. Whatever the case, I'm fine with you adjusting the schedule however you need to keep your sanity. Take care of yourself, BHOP. See you tomorrow.
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>>5221094
>Ask Ziz for context.
>>Act now, and attempt to separate the pair with Ziz’s help.

I'll defer to other anons when it comes to how exactly we should deesacalate the situation, since I do not have a lot of time to engage in brainstorming and planning, but I would like to bring up their father and ask them if they think he would be happy seeing how they are acting now. I think that could help.
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>>5221358
I'll agree with you on this Bhop. once a day would work wonders for most of us.
>>
(Still writing, everyone. Thank you for bearing with me.)
>>
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>>5221094

You hold back, waiting with bated breath to see if the titans’ rage will get the better of them…but beside you, Rath’s arms that were previously tightened around her FuzzBuzz suddenly relax, a series of slow, calm breaths mirroring the gentle rise and fall of Behemoth’s shoulders. A single Jackling darts from your hive to Ziz’s leg, its stinger lancing home as the world around you slows to a crawl.

“Wh-what is-?” Ziz begins, bewildered until your voice echoes in her mind.

“Neuromancy, to give you time to give me some context as to what the hell happened when I left.”

“I don’t know!” Ziz wails, staring at her siblings caught on the precipice of an all-out brawl. “He…he told us how proud he as of us, and Behemoth got really emotional at that part. Father asked us to ensure you reached the Cord safely, b-but I could tell what Father had said about being proud of us really upset Behemoth. As for Levy…they just seemed off in their own world. Maybe I was the only one who was really listening?”

“Given those two? I wouldn’t doubt it.” You sigh, turning your attention to her siblings. “I’m going to try and break this up…but I’ll need your help to make it happen.”

“You have it, my friend! No question!” She says, and at that you allow reality to resume as you place yourself between the warring giants.

Of all the lines that’ve been drawn in the sand today, this one is quite literal—a physical barrier that erupts from the earth between the two titans, earning you their attention and ire at this bold interruption.

"Alright, you two, break it off.” You order, firmly. “I’m not asking. You've said some harsh words to each other, don't let this escalate beyond that. Back away, calm down, and we can assess the problem together in a collaborative way."

“YOU’RE TRULY A FOOL IF YOU THINK FOR A *SECOND* THIS ONE CAN COLLABORATE ON ANYTHING THAT ISN’T HIS OWN NARROW-MINDED-“

“Shut up, Levy!” Ziz screeches through all seven heads, her words layered with the tell-tale reverb of Skintalking. “I know you’re hurting! We’re *all* hurting! And you’re just making it worse!”

Two things take you aback, after Ziz’s rebuke. The first is that Leviathan hesitates, words failing them in the face of their sister’s declaration of fact. The second is that Behemoth has yet to make a move, and while his frame still quakes with barely-restrained rage, he’s holding back...and he’s not the only one. You were so focused on Rath that you failed to notice the young man to your right, until now. Dorian’s face is a mask of steely resolve, his liquiform hands undulating with the effort required to…

…do exactly what Rath’s doing, you realize.

Then, Ziz’s Skintalking earlier must’ve been-

(Continued)
>>
>>5222085

"Behemoth, Leviathan? I know you two are upset.” You announce, quickly stepping forward to capitalize on the moment of peace your allies have gifted you. “Both of you have a lot of reasons to be. But this doesn't help you. We can fix this, save your father and fulfill his wishes, but only if we work together. There's nothing to be gained by fighting with each other."

The land titan’s feet shuffle angrily, but he remains silent even as you turn to address him directly.

"Behemoth, you're angry at your sibling but there's no need to tell them that your father doesn't love them. You know that's not true, he loves and is proud of all of you.” You say, and then, to Leviathan this time; “Leviathan, you're supposed to be the smart one, does calling your brother stupid sound like it would help resolve this? You're both better than this, you shouldn't let these arguments get out of hand. One moment, the two of you were at each other's throats for the many cycles of petty feuds the two of you have brought upon yourselves and each other, the next you're willing to cooperate because you wish to see your father. And now after having seen your father for the first time in eons, having been told that he's on his deathbed, your first reaction all of this is to both disregard your father's wishes and prepare yourselves to commit fratricide?"

“ME?! I CAME OUT WITH A PLAN, NOT SWINGING MY LIMBS LIKE A-!“ Leviathan starts to counter before you cut them off.

"NO!” You roar back, advancing on the colossal eel as you stomp down the beach with your allies at your back. “NO BLAME GAMES, NO POINTING FINGERS, I WILL HAVE NONE OF IT! THE TWO OF YOU ARE GUILTY OF THIS FEUD REGARDLESS OF WHO STARTED IT! LOOK AT YOURSELVES!"

You cast your arms wide, a few dozen Hundred-Handed limbs helping you underscore the point. "Is all of *this* worth breaking your sister's heart!? Is all of the seven-hundred and seventy six cycles you've endured worth discarding in favor of settling a petty grudge? The completion of your father's plan and wishes, disregarded in favor of ego-driven-rage-fueled fratricide?"

“BUT BEHEMOTH-!“

"HE. IS. WATCHING.” You shout back, cutting Leviathan off as Ziz backs you up with a decidedly gentler tone.

“Levy, please don’t do this.” She implores the great serpent, then, turning to her right. “Behemoth, I-“

“I’m SORRY.”

“…huh?” Comes Ziz’s inelegant reply as Rath and Dorian simultaneously relax at your side.

“I YELLED at you EARLIER. I’m SORRY.” He repeats, hesitantly taking a single step back from the line you’ve drawn as his shoulders go slack. “I…I don’t KNOW what to DO. EVERYTHING I’ve done, I…it was POINTLESS. Father said he was PROUD of me, and for WHAT?”

(Continued)
>>
>>5222086

“…for keeping the Crucible safe, brother.” Ziz gently answers, shuffling a little closer to the other titan. “For working so hard to make sure we could even get to this point.”

"The way I see it, you both have two choices before you.” Comes your follow-up. “Condemnation by continuing your feud and killing one another…or absolution, where you TALK AND LISTEN to each other, and bury the hatchet. Not talking past each other, not talking down to one another…talking *to* each other."

Leviathan’s still, glancing between their siblings as Ziz gingerly wraps four wings around Behemoth’s shoulders.

"So are we going to talk this out?” You ask. “Or are we going to watch heads roll as this feud boils over?"

“NEITHER.” Leviathan declares, vice as frigid as the coldest ice. “IF MY BROTHER AND SISTER ARE SO WEAK AS TO GIVE UP ON OUR FATHER SO EASILY, THEN I HARDLY HAVE NEED OF THEM.”

“LEVIATHAN, I'm sorry.“ Behemoth starts to rumble. "I SHOULDN'T have-"

“I’VE NOTHING TO SAY TO YOU UNLESS YOU’RE WILLING TO HELP ME RESONATE WITH A FRAGMENT AND FIX FATHER.” They snap, narrow snout pointing accusingly between Behemoth and Ziz. “…WELL?”

“Levy…if Father could’ve avoided this, then don’t you think we would have?” Ziz points out, but Levy ignores her point in favor of rounding on you.

“I’VE SATISFIED MY END OF OUR BARGAIN DEFIANT, AND I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WASTE ON PETTY VENGEANCE.” They announce. “THE FRAGMENT YOU PROMISED, IF YOU PLEASE.”

“But I thought you said you couldn’t interface with it.” You reply.

“I FAIL TO SEE HOW THAT’S ANY OF YOUR CONCERN.” They fire back. “I WAS MADE IN THE IMAGE OF FATHER’S MIND. HIS CHILDREN MAY HAVE GIVEN UP ON HIM, AND HE MAY THINK HIMSELF DESERVING OF SUCH A FATE…BUT I CAN FIX THIS.”

If salvation were possible, then Morningstar would’ve discovered it long ago…but Leviathan’s resolve isn’t the kind that stems from logic. Here, as the titan looms over you, lither frame taut with rage and sorrow, you know what’s driving their demand.

Denial.

“THE FRAGMENT YOU PROMISED, DEFIANT.” Leviathan repeats. “OR I WILL FIND MY OWN.”

A promise and a threat, all in one.

You’re here to protect the rocket, a fact that isn’t lost on either of you…

>>Relent, and part with a Fragment of your choice.

>>Refuse, and be prepared to defend yourself.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next six hours, with posting to resume tomorrow at 12PM, Eastern time. Thank you for your patience with my schedule this week, and I do hope that your day is going well, one and all.)
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>>5222089
>>5222085
>>5222086
Oof. One problem solved. Another arises in its place. This begs the question to Leviathan's problem. We know he's in denial about his father being on his deathbed. We could clearly see that he's desperate to save him. But how to we approach him? And there's one more thing that I can't help but notice: The lack of resonance within our allies with Leviathan.

Who would be similar as to resonate with Levi? I can't put fingers on it. Strangely enough, Isabelle comes to mind when it comes to the parallels between her and Leviathan and the whole fiasco that our relationship with Isabelle caused. So what do we do? We can't leave him alone that's for certain.
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>>5222099
Seriously, these two are going to drive me gray. Behemoth is calm, but not Leviathan is pissy. I wonder if there are any worlds where they're both agreeable. There are billions of other copies of them, surely one version has to have them both be easy to work with. Actually, probably not, if that was the case then some other world would have solved this by now. Maybe it's that Ziz is the problem child on the worlds where Behemoth and Leviathan are both chill, I don't know.

I want to know what Leviathan plans on taking the energy from. If they can tell us, honestly, that this isn't going to hurt us or damage our Crucible or get in the way of saving humanity, fine. We can give them a Fragment and part...not quite amicably, but at least on peaceful terms. But if this is just going to hurt us, then we might as well throw down now while we've got them on the land, a bunch of people gathered to fight, one of their siblings on our side, and the other...well, at least neutral in this.
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>>5222102
Actually, linking those two facts: There are billions of Crucibles. Even if Leviathan drains all the energy from this one, won't that just increase Morningstar's energy reserves by a fraction of a dot? They'd need to get all the Crucibles on board with this plan. Can we use that? Point out that if they really want to save their father, "finishing the game" is the best way to synch with all the Crucibles so we can shut them down and divert their energy back to Morningstar. Or maybe that's too in line with their current thinking, too much trying to fix a problem instead of acknowledge a truth.
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>>5222102
It's par for the course when dealing with family issues. It's just as emotionally draining as it can be physically draining. Right now Levi's just desperate.

>>5222107
really good points. If he's smart then he'll have to aquisce to the reality of the situation. But then that would bring up the other problem to his plan: the other iterations of the Crucibles might object to our Levi's giant plan to try and reverse siphon the energy.

However, we still need to get him to explain his damn problem and his "plan" in order to point out the flaws in his logic. But even if we do, it still won't solve the crux of Levi's core obsession and frankly his problem in dealing with his father's current state. Morningstar's on his deathbed no doubt about it. It's a state that can be maintained via life-support reverse siphoning, but it only forestalls the inevitable entropy by putting a giant energy tax on everyone else. Unless we can break through Levi's delusional obsession with his plan and help him get into the acceptance phase of the 5 stages of grief, things will simply degrade faster if we relent to Levi's plan.
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>>5222107
>Or maybe that's too in line with their current thinking, too much trying to fix a problem instead of acknowledge a truth.
Going with Levi's plan is very much going with his line of thinking of trying to "fix a problem" instead of acknowledging a truth.

And Levi's in denial of that universal truth: Death is inevitable.

How can we convince him to open up and acknowledge it? The only way that I can see Levi coming to terms is if he goes through with his "experiments" and has the results blow up in his face by having reality gut-punch him metaphorically. But that's the easy way of doing that, and it involves a lot of collateral.

We could have others who have had the experience of being hoisted by their petard to try and relate/resonate with him. But that leaves us with the question of "who is the best candidate that has enough commonalities to resonate with Leviathan?" I can only think of Isabelle as an answer given the commonalities/parallels.
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>>5222111
Okay, then, so should we start by just asking them for details? How about something like (not linking yet, still brainstorming and not a vote)

>"You fail to see how it's my concern? Great, share that knowledge, please. You'd have to to drain an immense amount of energy back to your father to have any impact on his situation. Where are you going to get it? If there's a source that wouldn't concern me, please say."

>>5222121
Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. That we don't really want them to try draining all the Crucibles, because that would push them deeper into denial. But I think investigating the thought of "I'd need to drain all the Crucibles to have any impact" could lead them to the right thought.

And yeah, I'm not sure who would resonate best with Leviathan. Maybe Uzu, actually? She's had an experience with trying to deny a harsh reality and winding up causing a lot of harm in the process.
>>
>>5222126

Another way I think would work is that we go full socrates on him, ask him leading questions that lead him to the logical conclusion of the universal truth and the need to acknowledge that there's not much he could do about it. Make it so that Levi himself makes the conclusion and becomes confronted with his own logic.

currently listing down ideas.

>Go full Socrates on Leviathan
>"And then what, Leviathan?"
>"You fail to see how it's my concern? Great, share that knowledge, please. You were in the middle of proposing a solution of yours before you were rudely interrupted. You have the floor."
>"Do I see anyone ready to interrupt you with a hoof to the face?"
>"You'd have to to drain an immense amount of energy back to your father to have any impact on his situation. Where are you going to get it? If there's a source that wouldn't concern me, please say."
>"
>If any of our allies have any experience in getting their pursued delusions blown up right in front of their faces in front of a harsh reality, please step forward and try and relate to Leviathan.
>>
>>5222089

current draft of vote:

>"You fail to see how it's my concern? Great, share that knowledge, please. If it is of no concern to us lesser minded, then surely you won't have a problem telling. If I recall correctly, you were in the middle of proposing a solution of yours before you were rudely interrupted by your brother. You have the floor."

>"Only when I know that your plan can fully work will I relinquish a fragment. All you have to do is explain yourself."

>"Do I see anyone ready to interrupt you with a hoof to the face?"

>If you do not need a fragment for resonance, then what do you need it for?"

>"You said something about performing the ritual on a grander scale. How big would it have to be?"

>"Wouldn't all the energy in this Crucible be not enough to stave off your Father's death?"

>"Then lets say, we use the energy of the other Crucibles. You would have to deal with the other iterations of yourself and your siblings wouldn't you?"

>"What if those other iterations refuse to collaborate? What if they retaliate?"

>"Then lets say, you somehow manage to gather everyone under your umbrella, got everything in place, had every single iteration of the Crucible to donate their energy and rig a galaxy-wide life-support system to keep Morningstar alive. How long would this arrangement last before the entropic strain claims the other Crucibles? Ours?"

>"Okay, then there's one last question that I'd have to ask. Morningstar is the one who hard-coded the crucible and manages the energy flows from all the fragments. And lets say you've managed to arrange everything, got the whole ritual set up for him and the ritual ready to activate, and when the moment arrives, your father for one reason or another, refuses to accept the energy transfer. What then? What now?"

>"Wouldn't you say that this line of thought is similar to Morningstar's initial idea of trying to forestall his people's death? It's like trying to throw hamsters at a giant star in hopes to keep the stellar body burning once you do the math right?"

>"Your plans work best when all the facts are established and the method is verified right?"

>"Then why are you so adamant on trying to go forward with this plan of yours when you know it won't work? You yourself admitted that outright."

>If Leviathan tries to accuse us of mis-leading him: "All I know is that I know nothing about the grand scheme of the cosmos, not of how the Fragments work, not of how you and your father came to wield such powers, nor of your plan to save your father. All I know is that you're smart and love your father very much. I ask because I don't know and wish to know."

If/when Leviathan reaches the logical conclusion of how horrible his plan to *fix* his father is in reality:
>If any of our allies have any experience in getting their pursued delusions blown up right in front of their faces in front of a harsh reality, please step forward and try and relate to Leviathan.
>>
>>5222153
>>5222126
thoughts on my write-ins? it's Socratic in nature, but I don't know if it'll work with getting Leviathan to acknowledge that his father dying. If anything I'm very concerned that this will only further drive him into that obsessive corner of his denial. And I'm also unsure where to slot in the idea of having our allies try to resonate with him on the commonality of having obsessive pursuits blow up in their faces against the harsh reality.
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>>5222126
Gah. Another problem that I haven't considered: Leviathan might not respond to our queries for information. He could simply take a fragment or the nearest one he could snag and not bother to answer, which would definitely be the result of a low roll result behind the screen in the diplomacy check.
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>>5222163
I like the idea of pointing out that just energy alone clearly isn't going to help, or else Morningstar's people could have just drained a few stars for fuel, but Leviathan might have a different plan than just that. If there was any part I'd want to hold in reserve until we know more, instead of putting it in a big Socratic dialogue and letting BHOP insert as reasonable, I'd say that one. Until we know just what Leviathan plans, we can't exactly poke holes in it. We can ask about where they plan on getting the energy, and that it would take tons of energy to do anything, but if we don't know what they're planning we can't say that it won't work.

A better angle, I think, is the bit about Morningstar resisting the help. Leviathan is a big fellow, and plenty strong, but even in his diminished state I think Morningstar is stronger. Leviathan can't force their dad to get better, they can only convince him to. So Leviathan going off half-cocked on a wild plan will probably just see Morningstar rejecting the help. We could emphasize that, that the more impulsive the plan the less likely Morningstar will go along with it. If Leviathan wants to help their dad, we'll help them convince him. But this is clearly a man who has his own particular ideas about "the right way to do things", and that's something that can't be powered through. They need a gentle touch.

Pointing out the foolishness of Leviathan going off impulsively seems like a risk to me. They definitely are, but at the same time, they're in a bad mood and value their intelligence highly and probably will just tune us out if we point out they're not being smart. It was probably a bad decision on my part to do the "you're supposed to be the smart one, Leviathan" bit in the last write-in. I'm not sure we should outright say the plan is illogical and won't work, we should instead focus on our own confusion as to how it could work and let them come to conclusion it's bad by having to explain it. Which most of this Socratic dialogue does, so that's good.

>>5222189
Yeah, that's an issue. We can try to play off of their need to be the smartest person in the room, use that as a way to get them to talk? Start the Socratic dialogue off with some a more vulnerable-sounding expression of confusion. Actually, on the topic of vulnerability, what if we gave them a Fragment first and then asked questions? It would mean we're not trying to delay them and waste their time, we've given them what they want and they are the ones in a position of power. That would make them more amiable to talking. Though it would also leave them with no reason to stay.
>>
>>5222193
Hmm...you have a point. The Fragment of Hope is one that we could part with. Let me re-organize my write-in vote, although this may be the last time I'll get to do this because today's shift starts earlier for me.
>>
>>5222153
>>5222089
This is probably the latest version of my vote before I leave for work.

>"Well you did keep up your end of the bargain. It's time I fulfill mine."

>"You wished for a Fragment in exchange for your aid, and we have a Hope fragment here in the open. It is yours."

>Although I do have to ask Leviathan. Before you were rudely interrupted after your call with your father, you were in the middle of making a proposal of having a solution that could *fix* your father's current condition. If it doesn't bother you, can you mind explaining what you have exactly planned? I'm asking because I don't know if it involves getting others hurt."

>Get him to talk, then act as a sounding board for Leviathan as he explains his plan by asking questions that poke holes in his theoretical plan to save his father. steer the dialogue with leading questions that guide Leviathan's logic train to the conclusion that the plan has many holes and obstacles that can blow the plan right up in his face with the greatest pitfall being Morningstar resisting Leviathan's plan or outright refusing the energy transfer.

>"You said something about performing the ritual on a grander scale. How big would it have to be?"

>"Wouldn't all the energy in this Crucible be not enough to stave off your Father's death?"

>"Then lets say, we use the energy of the other Crucibles. You would have to deal with the other iterations of yourself and your siblings wouldn't you?"

>"What if those other iterations refuse to collaborate? What if they retaliate?"

>"Then lets say, you somehow manage to gather everyone under your umbrella, got everything in place, had every single iteration of the Crucible to donate their energy and rig a galaxy-wide life-support system to keep Morningstar alive. How long would this arrangement last before the entropic strain claims the other Crucibles? Ours?"

>"Then how would Morningstar view this? Wouldn't he disapprove of this? If you're going forward with this plan half-baked as is, he might outright reject your plan to help him with a plan this impulsive."

>"Look, I know you care about your father. Deeply so. The fact that he's on his death bed doesn't deter your determination to help him is admirable. That's why I ask so that on the chance that there is a way to help, I want to pitch in my support."

>"Your plans work best when all the facts are established and the method is verified right?"

>"Morningstar is the one who hard-coded the crucible and manages the energy flows from all the fragments right?"

>"Then what happens if he refuses to accept the energy transfer after everything is arranged. What if he's adamant about letting entropy take him? What then?"

If/when Leviathan reaches the logical conclusion of how horrible his plan is:
>If any of our allies have any experience in getting their pursued delusions blown up right in front of their faces in front of a harsh reality, please step forward and try and relate to Leviathan.
>>
>>5222217
Looks pretty good. I might throw in something of my own, I'm kind of struggling with it, but this is good.
>>
And I'm off to work.
>>5222090
Hang in there BHOP!
>>
>>5222227
Have a nice day, anon.
>>
You know, it occurs to me that we actually didn't bargain with Leviathan to give them a Fragment, but to work with them to use a Fragment to communicate with and assess the health of their father. So, we technically already paid. I don't think Leviathan would consider that a valid argument, though. Not right now, at least. Still, could be funny to bring up. "Actually, that wasn't the deal, but I'd be happy to negotiate a new one now that our last business has successfully concluded." They'd just smash us, though.
>>
>>5222089
I don't have a bigger vote to put this into, I just thought it was worth saying, as a sentiment.

>>Write-In
>"It's not that I don't want you to help your father, Leviathan. He deserves all the time he can get. I'm not asking these questions to demoralize you. I just want to make sure that the path you're headed on doesn't end badly. For us, or for him, or especially for you. You deserve better, too."
>>
>>5222301
I get the logic but keep in mind that the original deal was for his help in exchange for “giving him a fragment that he can call as his own.” We never fulfilled that specific part of the bargain.
>>
>>5222497
Technically, that's not we agreed on, though. After we asked what they wanted it for we agreed to help contact Morningstar. But yeah, they would argue that us still handing over a Fragment was implicit. Or maybe not even argue, just smash.
>>
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>>5222089

"Well, you did keep up your end of the bargain. It's time I fulfill mine.” You admit with a nod before turning to gesture at the stone that still hovers above the Sparagmos Engine. “You wished for a Fragment in exchange for your aid, and we have a Hope fragment here in the open. It’s yours.”

“Although I do have to ask, Leviathan; before you were rudely interrupted after your call with your father, you were in the middle of making a proposal of having a solution that could *fix* your father's current condition.” You forward, earning you an irritated snap of Levy’s head to glare at you. “If it doesn't bother you, can you mind explaining what you have exactly planned? I'm asking because I don't know if it involves getting others hurt.”

“OH, YOU NEED NOT FEAR FOR OTHERS. I, FOR ONE, ABHOR NEEDLESS VIOLENCE.” Levy replies with a sidelong glance at their brother, who—mercifully—fails to react to the barb. “MY PLAN IS SIMPLE. GATHER AS MANY FRAGMENTS AS ARE AVAILABLE. CONDUCT A FAR LARGER RITUAL AND, ONCE THE TETHER TO FATHER IS ESTABLISHED, I SHALL THEN REVERSE-SIPHON THE ENERGY INHERENT IN THE FRAGMENTS BACK TO THEIR SOURCE.”

“How big would it have to be?" You ask, just as the titan’s acidic sheathe of water starts to reach out towards the fragment. “The ritual, I mean.”

Leviathan pauses, studying you a moment before giving their reply. “THAT IS WHOLLEY DEPENDENT ON THE NUMBER OF FRAGMENTS I AM ABLE TO GATHER BEFORE THIS CYCLE CONCLUDES. NOW, IF YOU’LL EXCUSE M-“

“Wouldn't all the energy in this Crucible be not enough to stave off your Father's death?" You interrupt, and Leviathan’s acidic sheathe shudders irritably.

“GIVEN THE FACT THAT WE WERE ABLE TO CONNECT TO FATHER OVER AN INCREDIBLY VAST DISTANCE, AND PIERCE THE VEIL INTO THE DIMENSION THAT HIS LATE PEERS SEALED HIM INTO, IT WOULD BE A TRIVIAL MATTER TO THEN REACH OUT TO OTHER CRUCIBLES VIA THE FRAGMENTS AND FORM A NETWORK THROUGH WHICH I COULD THEN RETURN FATHER’S SPLINTERED POWER.”

"Well, if we were to use the energy of the other Crucibles, then wouldn’t you have to deal with the other iterations of yourself and your siblings?” You point out, staying on the offensive even as Leviathan’s discomfort grows. “What if those other iterations refuse to collaborate? What if they retaliate?"

“THEY WOULD UNDERSTAND. *I* WOULD UNDERSTAND. MY ITERATIONS, HOWEVER DISPARATE, HAVE KEPT THEMESELVES WHOLE FOR THIS LONG, SO IT ONLY STANDS TO REASON THAT THEY-” Leviathan explains before suddenly hesitating, and you catch them glance towards Ziz.

Ziz, who’s changed so much.

Ziz, who’s summoned the courage and poise to stand up to both her siblings, at once.

Ziz, whose recollections have proven Leviathan’s memory is less concrete than they previously assumed.

(Continued)
>>
>>5222968

"Then, let’s say, you manage to gather everyone under your umbrella.” You press on, seizing the initiative that Levy’s hesitation has granted you. “You’ve got everything in place, had every single iteration of the Crucible to donate their energy and rig a galaxy-wide life-support system to keep Morningstar alive. How long would this arrangement last before the entropic strain claims the other Crucibles? Ours?"

“I TOLD YOU I HAVE NO INTEREST IN NEEDLESS VIOLENCE, AND I STAND BY MY WORD. ONCE MY FATHER IS BACK IN HIS RIGHT MIND, THEN HE AND I COULD COLLABORATE ON SOME KIND OF SOLUTION TO THE STRAIN PROBLEM.”

"Then how would Morningstar view this? Wouldn't he disapprove? If you're going forward with this plan half-baked as is, he might outright reject your plan to help him with a plan this impulsive."

“I…NO. HE NEEDS MY HELP.” Leviathan staunchly declares with a quick twitch of their head, as if to dispel the creeping doubts. “I AM HIS MIND, AND IN HIS CURRENT STATE HE HAS LOST SIGHT OF ALL THE GOOD HE CAN DO. OF ALL HE HAS LEFT TO ACCOMPLISH. HE…I *WILL* DO THIS, DEFIANT. I MUST.”

"Look, I know you care about your father. Deeply so.” You gently assure them. “The fact that he's on his death bed doesn't deter your determination to help him, and that’s admirable. That's why I ask so that if there is a way for me to help, I want to pitch in my support."

“NO. NO, I SEE WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO DO. YOU’RE TRYING TO MAKE ME STUMBLE.” The grand serpent spits, recoiling from you as if slapped.

"I’m not…you said it yourself, actually; your plans work best when all the facts are established, and the method is verified, right?" You point out. "Morningstar is the one who hard-coded the crucible and manages the energy flows from all the fragments right? So what happens if he refuses to accept the energy transfer after everything is arranged?”

“HE WON’T.” Leviathan counters, voice barely holding back the anger that’s been mounting this entire conversation. “HE WILL ACCEPT IT. HE HAS TO, IF HE WANTS TO KEEP-“

“What if he's adamant about letting entropy take him? What then?"

“HE CAN’T!”

“But what if he *doesn’t* want-“

“HE CAN’T LEAVE ME!”

Leviathan’s words echo across the field, rippling through the stream that the River of Tears has been reduced to. The titan’s acidic sheath slowly drops away as they tightly coil up as if to hold the world—and reality—at bay.
“HE CAN’T LEAVE ME.” Leviathan repeats, like a mantra. “HE CAN’T LEAVE ME. THERE’S STILL SO MUCH I DON’T KNOW. I *NEED* TO KNOW. THERE’S STILL SO MUCH FOR HIM TO DO, SO *WHY*?”

A crack in the armor of logic, reason, and pride is all it takes for genuine emotion to leak through for the first time since you’ve met Leviathan…and that gives you the opening you were looking for. The serpent’s small eyes flicker, for just a moment, with violet neon and sunlit gold.

(Continued)
>>
>>5222969

“It's not that I don't want you to help your father, Leviathan.” You begin, your words bolstered by Gina’s own, uttered through the Crimson Cord. “He deserves all the time he can get. I'm not asking these questions to demoralize you. Far from it—I just want to make sure that the path you're headed on doesn't end badly. For us, or for him, or especially for you. Because you deserve better, too."

“WHAT I DESERVE IS *IRRELEVANT* IF I CANNOT SAVE FATHER!” Leviathan snaps. “YOU WILL NOT DETER ME! HE HAS TO LIVE, HE-!“

“Shu isn’t trying to stop you, Levy.” Ziz explains, shuffling a little closer to her distraught sibling. “She just told you that she’s trying to help. Because you absolutely deserve to have the sort of life Father intended.”

A pause, and then-

“When Shu left, and Father spoke to the three of us…did you hear what he said?” Ziz asks, softly. “I know you heard the same words I did, but did you sense the hope in his voice? That you, me, and our brother might live in a world where we’d be free to choose the paths we desired? Because all of this…the Crucible, the backups, the fragments…all of this isn’t just for the species that he was forced to hurt. It was for us, too. He wanted us to be free, Levy. That’s why he sent us away. Not because he didn’t love us…but because he loved us so much that he allowed us to carve our own paths.”

“…THE MOTHER OF ALL…” Leviathan murmurs in realization.

“I’m SORRY…you were RIGHT.”

This time, Behemoth’s words are directed not towards his sister, but rather the titan wrapped around themself near the shore. None seems more surprised at the colossus’ sudden statement than its recipient, and when Behemoth takes a step forward, his footfall is soft, barely sending more than a gentle tremor through the ground.

“I was an IDIOT. I was so FOCUSED on making him PROUD that I FAILED to read his true INTENTIONS.” He continues, each step bringing him closer to his tightly-coiled sibling. “Perhaps if we had TALKED, then this could have been AVOIDED.”

Leviathan shoots their brother a scowl; “…IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR ME TO ECHO YOUR REGRETS, THEN-“

“I’m not ASKING for an APOLOGY, Levy.” Behemoth says, interrupting Leviathan’s petulance with his own brand of brusque grace. “You did what you THOUGHT was RIGHT. SO did I. And in DOING so, we HURT each other. We HURT our sister…and our own FATHER, too.”

The land-bound giant leans down, and Leviathan’s about to flinch away before the other amalgam’s intentions become clear. With utmost care, Behemoth softly nuzzles Leviathan’s cheek…the very same spot where his hoof had violently struck only a few minutes before.

“I’m SORRY.” He says, again. “DO what you NEED to. I will not STOP you.”

Leviathan stares at the Hope fragment for a long moment before speaking again, to no-one in particular.

(Continued)
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>>5222970

“I…I NEED TIME TO THINK. MY PLAN, IT…IT IS FLAWED.” They admit, very pointedly not meeting your gaze. “FATHER’S TIME IS WANING, BUT ATTEMPTING TO RUSH A PLAN COULD SERVE TO ONLY HASTEN HIS…DISSOLUTION…UNLESS I HAVE A PROPER STRATEGEM IN PLACE. I JUST…I NEED SOME TIME. TIME TO GATHER MYSELF. TIME TO…PROCESS.”

“Well, then…what if we watched the rocket launch together?”

Ziz’s inspired proposition earns her a double-take from both her siblings, at once.

“It’s not a bad idea, actually.” You admit with a nod towards the thunderbird. “We’re very close to the launch site, and we have…”

You gesture back towards the legion of allies you’ve brought to bear for this bizarre situation. “…literally *everyone* here. Why don’t you join us.”

“CAN…may I JOIN?” Behemoth asks, his meekness reminding you just how young the trio can seem, at times.

“Of course, silly!” Ziz exclaims, throwing her seven-fold wingspan around her two siblings. “I meant all of us!”

“…VERY WELL.” Leviathan relents as their coils slowly, but surely, come undone. “THIS…IS AGREEABLE. FOR NOW.”

You can practically feel the collective sigh of relief exhaled by your assembled forces—and hear it, given the Commling network you’ve established to keep everyone in the loop.

Now that a tentative period of peace has been established you loose a sigh of your own, though you’re not out of the woods quite yet. Leviathan’s not the only one that needs to gather their thoughts, especially after all that just transpired…

>>Gather your friends and family, and make for the Disassociated’s launch with everyone in tow.

>>Confer with your allies about how best to proceed.

>>Speak with Gina and Francine, since you have a sneaking suspicion that they were the ones to resonate with Leviathan.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next eight hours, with posting to resume on Tuesday, April 12th at 10AM Eastern time. Thank you all for bearing with a bear of a week on my end, and please also let me know if any posting schedule adjustments or particular voting times would work best for those of you that actively vote. I wish you a restful day and a pleasant weekend, one and all. Be safe, take care, and I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday.)

>>5222227
(Also, thank you for your kind words. I greatly appreciate it, and it helps more than you know, friend.)
>>
>>5222971
First off. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. Damn this was stressful.

Well then. This is interesting. Francine and Gina resonating with Leviathan. Rath and Dorian resonating with Behemoth. Isabelle(?) and Amara resonating with Ziz.

>>5222972
Gosh darn it Bhop. This was just as is not even more intense than our nuclear diplomacy with Snowbird. This was such an interesting event in terms of both how we dealt with it and how it played out.

I just want to ask: what was your reactions to this encounter/event setup from your perspective?
>>
>>5222971
Whoo. Alright, this had some rough moments but turned out about as well as we could hope for. Good, good. Still, though, so tense at times. Being mom to these giant doom-kids is hard. This is what "Mother of All" really means, isn't it, Morningstar? It's really short for "Mother of All the Giant Monster Children". This was your plan all along!

>>5222972
Thanks for running, BHOP. I hope you have a good weekend.
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>>5222995
>>5222972
Imagine the sheer farce when you boil the whole thing down to Morningstar putting down a cosmic scale advertisement asking for other beings to adopt his children.

>Help Wanted: Responsible being for parenthood. Be prepared for difficult application process and stressful work environment.
>Responsibilities: Taking care of three young children of immense size, strength, and temper. Stewardship of home planet and possibly the cosmos.
>Risks: High likelihood of bodily harm, collateral damage, death, and other occupational hazards.
>Reward: Power beyond measure, numerous benefits, excellent healthcare coverage.
>>
>>5223008
And the weird is that, while we're joking, there's probably some truth here. Post-Crucible, Morningstar's children are going to be a demographic to themselves. If Morningstar wanted the Mother of All to be a good caretaker to the civilizations of the galaxy (universe? How big was the star gods' domain, actually?), then that implicitly means being a good caretaker to his children. There are too many iterations of Behemoth, Leviathan and Ziz to not have them be a factor in the decision process.
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>>5222975

(I’d say pic related sums up my thoughts with all the factors to keep track of, but all joking aside this entire process ended up going very differently than I’d originally intended.)

(You all reaching out to Morningstar wasn’t something I’d even considered until you all started floating the idea, and it gave me such a fantastic opportunity I couldn’t pass it up. Like many things in the quest, I’d intended to keep several of his revelations a secret until later, but I’m quite satisfied with how things worked out in the end to help ‘cap off’ the fact that despite his hand in things, this isn’t Morningstar’s story, and he’s far from some grand, unknowable mastermind—it’s your story, and it was his intention all along to hand the reigns over to someone with a good heart and the strength to see the future through.)

(Now—Ziz, Behemoth, and Leviathan all have boss combat sheets, since any of the three could have failed their ‘Hunger’ rolls [more a 'grief' roll, but it's an easy shorthand] and wound up as a combat encounter…or multiple bosses at the same time, if the rolls had gone that way. Your even-handed conversation with Behemoth ended up granting him the presence of mind and bonus to his rolls to allow him to hold back after his initial outburst at Levy. Meanwhile, the actual order in which you approached Behemoth and Leviathan would have ended up affecting future rolls, since have Leviathan’s ‘stench’ on you was a negative modifier to rolls with Behemoth, though you were able to counteract them with both your eloquence, openness, and having Rath and Dorian in close proximity—two of the four allies capable of easily resonating with Behemoth’s vices and virtues. You’d already done the legwork with Ziz to ensure that she’s coming into her own and feels comfortable being herself, so her superior rolls manifested in her taking the lead alongside you, which only helped her siblings calm down, in the end.)

(All in all? As I’m sure you could tell I was preparing you for the possibility of a massive combat, but as with all things in this quest, it was ultimately your own distinct approach that allowed you to achieve an end I didn’t originally envision.)

(Very well done, everyone. You never cease to surprise.)
>>
>>5222971
>>Gather your friends and family, and make for the Disassociated’s launch with everyone in tow.

I think we shouldn't ruin the moment. We should definitely talk about the resonance issue, but after we've had a nice cathartic rocket launch viewing.

>>5223013
>two of the four allies capable of easily resonating with Behemoth’s vices and virtues
Four, you say? We've been underestimating the resonance, then.

I'm glad we managed to surprise you. Thanks for rolling with it and letting us do this plan, it lead to a very interesting resolution for this encounter. "Shu summoned the devil so that his giant monster kids could have a family reunion" is just a really novel way to solve the problem of a rampaging monster, and I greatly enjoy that this quest enables such twisty problem-solving.
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>>5222971
>>Gather your friends and family, and make for the Disassociated’s launch with everyone in tow.

We also really need to thank our allies that resonated with the apocalypse amalgams (and everybody else that gathered here to help) - I am afraid this conversation would have gone very badly without them.

Loved the way you wrote this tense confrontation BHOP. I really liked it, even if it was nerve-racking at times, and I am happy with the way it was solved. It was a very 'Shu' way of dealing with things. I wonder how the skinternet will react to what happened once it gets out.
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>>5223651
We have a big name skinternet streamer amongst our allies. I'm sure she's live-streaming this at the same time given that violence hasn't occurred.

>>5223029
Well, aside from the resonance, we'll have to talk about Levi's plan. We've already got his logic train to run into the pitfalls of his impulsive plan, but it seems he's still adamant about wanting to keep his dad alive, which is very telling about the parental issues that were plaguing the children.

>Ziz: Listless, lonely. Homesick.
>Behemoth: Wanting to appease/impress dad.
>Leviathan: Afraid of parental abandonment. Wants to spend more time with dad.

>>5222971
>Gather your friends and family, and make for the Disassociated’s launch with everyone in tow.

>Secretly commission Dorian, Rath, and some of the flesh artisans in the creation of Battle-Buzz for Behemoth as a gift and a reward for being a good boi. A Rook class swarmling will be given to the artists as a base model for them to mould and morph as they please.
>>
>>5223029
>>5223651
Shoot. We're also gonna have to fulfill Amara's promise of spawning Fuzzbuzzes for the Pyre Ant Queendom
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>>5223816
>Well, aside from the resonance, we'll have to talk about Levi's plan. We've already got his logic train to run into the pitfalls of his impulsive plan, but it seems he's still adamant about wanting to keep his dad alive, which is very telling about the parental issues that were plaguing the children.
Yeah, there's a lot we need to talk about, now that things are cooling down. Leviathan's plan isn't inherently wrong, accepting death in the abstract doesn't mean you can't prolong life in the short term, but they need to do it in an emotionally healthy way. I agree on the siblings' issues, and I think Leviathan being the "smart one" is a big part of them. Morningstar's interaction with Leviathan focused on teaching them and imparting their wisdom, which means that Leviathan didn't get as much downtime with their dad as their siblings did. Morningstar didn't neglect them, but their time together was more purposeful, so Leviathan still feels like they've missed out on time with dad. We need to propose that Leviathan shouldn't just try to extend their father's life, but to make sure that the remaining time they have together is the best they can. Quality of experience as important as length of importance, that should probably curtail their more impulsive plans.

>Secretly commission Dorian, Rath, and some of the flesh artisans in the creation of Battle-Buzz for Behemoth as a gift and a reward for being a good boi.
Oh, yeah, we need to make BattleBuzz, don't we? We should make sure our friends aren't too busy injection-molding to watch the launch, though. Let's just propose the idea now and let them work on it in the background at their own pace.

>>5223900
That's easily solvable, though, we can mass-produce the FuzzBuzzes. Actually, where are those ants, did they leave completely or are they hanging out nearby? It could be fun to show them the rocket launch. Not that I'd expect them to understand what space is, but it would still be something neat for them to watch. Coming back to the colony to share the story of the amazing flying fire they saw.
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>>5222971

“The more, the merrier.” You announce with a smile that you hope serves to hide your trembling relief at how things played out. “They’re launching shortly, so if you three are ready, we can take everybody and head over there now.”

“Oh! I can fly everyone there!” Ziz exclaims, rounding on you and your allies as those that had previously been at the edges of the battlefield draw near.

“No offense bud, but we got a lot more than the usual suspects this time.” Rath replies, jerking a thumb towards the veritable army you’d brought to bear.

“Then I will PICK up the SLACK.” Behemoth rumbles—then, thrusting his snout towards the legion of Pyreants that start scrambling southward. “YOU there. Are YOU lot with the DEFIANT?”

“Y-yes…Sir?” The one at the forefront replies hesitantly, unsure of what honorific to grant the mountainous being.

“Then WHERE do you think you’re GOING? She extended an INVITATION.”

“We…we were not so bold as to assume our kind were-“

“We’re kin, remember?” You interrupt with a smile. “You’re absolutely invited.”

“KIN, eh?” Behemoth intones approvingly, before lowering himself closer to the ground by taking a knee...or three. “then as many of your KIN that can fit aboard are WELCOME to.”

“I don’t suppose you could do something about my associates’ caravan?” Francine asks, catching her breath after rejoining your side. Behemoth nods, and as the good doctor instructs Cassandra and their fellow researcher in how best to board the living mountain, you open a fresh channel to your artistically-inclined associates as the rest prepare to head out.

“Dorian, Rath, Julia? Do you read me?” You ask, waiting to receive a trio of affirmatives before continuing. “I’ll be giving you each a Rook-class swarmling of mine to work with, and I’d like you and anyone else you want to have join in collaborate on a FuzzBuzz for Behemoth.”

“Ha, I th-thought you might ask for that, so D-Dorian and I were just swapping ideas when you c-called!” Julia laughs, the sound nothing less than music to your ears.

“Leave it to us, Shu.” Rath chimes in with an audible smirk. “How ‘bout we hop a ride on big bird to work on that while you hitch a ride on one of the other two?”

“A good idea.” You admit. “I leave the project’s discretion to you three.”

“Over ‘n out, Cap.” Rath says, and you can imagine her giving you a sharp salute as your focus shifts to the hustle that’s happening around you, like a rushing river around an islet. You draw in a slow, steady breath, letting the relief of all those present wash over you. You came prepared for war, yet now you stand atop the shoulders of the giants…if not as friends, then as peaceable acquaintances.

An odd turn, but one you’re thankful for, regardless…

…because you know the path to the Cord won’t be nearly as forgiving.

(Continued)
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>>5227336

“WHAT are you just STANDING around for, DEFIANT?” Behemoth growls, snapping you out of your reflection. “Come ABOARD.”

Looking up at the colossus, you stifle a laugh to see both the Metall Geschoss and the entirety of Pendra’s forces atop the titan’s massive shoulders. Squinting, you also catch sight of the Pyreants and the majority of your allies, save for Amara, Nerada, Rath, Dorian, and Julia, who’ve taken their place on Ziz’s back…fewer than you expected, though you suspect few had the heart to turn down Behemoth’s demands to assist.

“You’re shouldering enough, Behemoth.” You say, about to turn to the thunderbird when the land-titan scoffs.

“And WHAT is one MORE?” He retorts. A fair point, but-

“Well…Levy, would you let Shu ride with you?” Ziz forwards, reaching out towards the—until now—silent sibling.


“I WOULD NOT BE OPPOSED.” The great serpent relents, and Ziz looks positively delighted until they add; “NEITHER AM I ENTHUSED. I AM NEUTRAL ON THE MATTER.”

“Levy!” She barks, offended.

“If you’re neutral, then I’m sure you won’t mind me and my Crew?” Jackie asks, stepping forward with her own family. “You’ll be taking the river, right?”

“I WILL…AND WHAT OF THEM?”

“Oh, the Barbers?” She asks, glancing back to Rosa and her odd bunch, the quartet trailing in the wake of their idols. “They’re with me. That good by you?”

“We-we’re with *them*! This is the best day of my li-!” Rosa exclaims before getting cut off by her own yelp after her Neuromancer’s fingers are promptly thrust into her side.

“I AM NEUTRAL.” Leviathan shrugs by briefly bunching their coils. “DO AS YOU PLEASE. JUST DON’T EXPECT CONVERSATION. I’M IN NO MOOD.”

At that, Ziz leans over to Jackie, and in a stage whisper that can be clearly heard by all present; “Just ask Levy about Amalgams, and they’ll open up like a-“

“HUSH.”

“Enough TALKING. We have a LAUNCH to get to…whatever THAT is.” Behemoth growls before turning to you. “So, DEFIANT. CHOO-“

He pauses, then says, bashfully; “…WHICH of us would you HONOR with your COMPANY?”

Ziz gives her brother a subtle nod of approval, as you weigh your considerably lighter options.

>>Take flight with Ziz.

>>Join the majority aboard Behemoth.

>>Sail with the Midnight Crew and Barbers atop Leviathan.

AND

>>Converse with one or more allies of your choice in your journey to the launch site.

>>Speak with the Apocalypse Amalgam you’ll be riding atop…you’d like to hear their take on things, now that you’ve got them relatively alone.

>>Remain silent, for now…all this has taken a lot out of you, and even though the launch is meant to be a relaxing affair, you might as well get a head-start after all you’ve been through.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next three hours, with posting to resume in four. I do hope you had a pleasant and restful weekend, and I wish you a good work week, as well.)
>>
>>5227340
Oh dear. Now they're trying to have us play favorites of all things.
>>
>>5227340
>Sail with the Midnight Crew and Barbers atop Leviathan.

Haven't figured out some conversation pieces for now. Will decide later.
>>
>>5227374
I guess this is what we get for taking a parental position with them. Now they're competing for which one we like best.

Right, well Ziz seems like she doesn't care that much. She's growing more and more independent every moment, so while she'd like to spend time with us she's not as needy as her siblings. Though we could send Amara to ride her, I think they'd both enjoy that.

I guess Leviathan should be who we go with? They're having a moment of self-doubt, one we kind of caused, so having some reassurance that way could be good for them. Though Behemoth would probably get jealous, wouldn't he?
>>
>>5227340
wait, them who’s left? Gina? Francine?
>>5227400
we should have at least someone who resonates with Leviathan with us. I do have a suspicion that Jackie could be a possible resonance candidate.

We should compliment Behemoth for asking nicely and being mindful of his manners, though.
>>
>>5227408
(Most everyone is on Behemoth, though you're more than welcome to invite others to go along with you, or break up who rides with whom if you would like.)
>>
>>5227340
>We have a LAUNCH to get to…whatever THAT is
It's when we use a thermonuclear hellstorm to accelerate a building-sized mass to a speed of thousands of meters per second. You're gonna love it, Behemoth.

>>Sail with the Midnight Crew and Barbers atop Leviathan.
>Suggest Amara take another ride on Ziz, if Ziz is up for it. We know those two get along well. She should bring Nerada with her, too. And Anna, if the Hyenas brought her, I'm actually unclear on that. But Amara and her human friends riding her giant monster friend would be nice.
>Thank Behemoth for his offer, it was considerate of him. But it's probably best we space out. Besides, we don't want to get between him and Rath, they seemed like they were getting along and we wouldn't want to interrupt.

>>Converse with one or more allies of your choice in your journey to the launch site.
>Thank the Midnight Crew and Barbers for their help. This didn't end in violence, but it could have, and we appreciate them being willing to throw down.
>Likewise, thank Leviathan for their help. We know this wasn't easy for them, that they had to have some uncomfortable conversations with their siblings. But they did it anyway, and a lot of good came from that. Thanks, Leviathan.
>>
>>5227422
I'd rather have that invitation be an open affair.
>>5227414
>It's when we use a thermonuclear hellstorm to accelerate a building-sized mass to a speed of thousands of meters per second.

I'm willing to bet that the Rocket's gonna look something out of a Macross anime. Especially if it's a Super Dimensional Fortress given their technology level.

>>5227340
>Compliment Behemoth for being mindful of his manners.

>Sail with the Midnight Crew and Barbers atop Leviathan.
>Extend an open offer for last minute swaps for riding on Levi.
>Open a channel for Leviathan if he wants a private conversation where he can talk our ears off and we simply listen and act as a soundboard/therapist for him.

>"Hey Levi. Thank you."
>Thank the Midnight Crew and the Barbers for their help. We appreciate their willingness to throw down with the titans, even though this didn't end in violence.
>>
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Man, looks like today and this week will be one of THOSE weeks, huh.
>>
>>5227505
(Almost done, but at least I'm not nearly as stressed thus far. Also, an excellent picture.)
>>
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>>5227340

“I think I’ll join you and the Barbers, if you don’t mind the company.“ You declare as you turn to Jackie, who just flashes you her dagger of a grin before you place a finger to your ear. “Amara, who are you traveling with?”

“Oh! Me an’ Nerada are on Ziz! I’m waving to you!” She quickly replies, and a quick glance to the thunderbird’s crown reveals your little one frantically waving to you from up on her perch. Returning the gesture, you then fix Behemoth with a smile.

“I think that just about settles it, then…but thank you for your offer. I really appreciate everything you’ve done.” You say, with particular emphasis to the second half of your statement. “Your grace means more than I can properly express, Behemoth.”

“Oi, big guy! If you say you’ve got room for one more, then how ‘bout me?!”

From behind Amara, Rath leaps down from atop Ziz’s head, lunging through the air to land a few meters away from you—and you’re thankful for the distance as the ground buckles beneath her, your brawler’s three-point landing cratering the ground at her feet. You meet her eyes, and her intent is clear—Amara with Ziz, her with Behemoth, you with Leviathan.

This isn’t quite over. Not yet.

“Suit YOURSELF.” Behemoth shrugs, and Rath hops out of her self-made crater to clap you on the shoulder once more, imparting you with a whisper.

“Julia and Dorian are vibing so hard that I figured it’d be best to just let ‘em have at it, y’know?” She breathes, and you just smile as she clambers up Behemoth’s side with her boundless and admirable strength.

You and the Barbers follow the Midnight Crew as they board Leviathan, who deigns to lower their head to ground to grant you an easier climb. The serpent’s texture is not quite as you’d imagined it—it’s a mottled, patchwork thing, for great stretches of it proves to be rough like a shark, and then it gives way to a texture that’s slick and smooth, hearkening to the flesh of an eel. You briefly spawn a few Rooks to help you and your friends in your ascent, in in short order you’ve gathered atop Leviathan’s head as they and their siblings make their own ways to the Disassociated’s domain. You wait until both Ziz’s wingbeats and Behemoth’s tremorous footfalls give way to the gentle lapping of the river’s waves before you turn to the eight other Daughters that surround you.

“And thank you all, for your help. I couldn’t have done this without you.” You say, earning a noble bow from Sia and Ace, while Jackie just smirks. “This didn't end in violence, but it could have, and we appreciate them being willing to throw down.


“Kinda figured this would end well, given your track record.” The Midnight Crew’s leader laughs. “You ‘an violence go together about as well as jello and tuna.”

“Marvelous.” Sugar murmurs, as Quinn and Keane just shoot the bizarre Daughter a dirty look.

(Continued)
>>
>>5227514

“And hey, Levy…I owe you thanks, as well.” You say, kneeling to place your palm against the amalgam’s head.

“HM.” The titan mutters beneath you, and sensing their reticence you switch tack to engaging with the other Daughters aboard. What at first starts as a simple exchange of pleasantries and catch-ups quickly devolves into Rosa commandeering the conversation to grill the Midnight Crew as a whole. To your surprise, Jackie and Quinn seem thrilled to recount their adventures to a rapt Rosa, with Sia serving to moderate the interrogation so as not to let Rosa get too excited. Sugar and Betty have taken up a perilous position as far down Leviathan’s snout as possible, and last you looked you’re fairly certain they were recreating a scene from Titanic, if your reference game is on point.

“DEFIANT.”

Your Commling vibrates with Leviathan’s voice, and you make no excuses for the fact that the sudden greeting gives you a bit of a start.

“I’M SOMETHING OF A HIVE MISTRESS, MYSELF. APOLOGIES, IF I STARTLED YOU.” The Amalgam hums, pausing a moment before they continue; “I AM AFRAID I CANNOT ACCEPT YOUR THANKS.”

“Oh? Why’s that?”

“I ESCALATED THE SITUATION. AND, WHAT’S EVEN MORE SHAMFUL IS THAT MY YOUNGER SIBLINGS SHOWED GREATER POISE THAN I, IN THAT MOMENT.” Leviathan ruefully admits. “I TOOK LEAVE OF MY SENSES. IT WILL NOT HAPPEN AGAIN.”


“It…it’s okay.” You reply, crossing your legs and taking a seat as you star down the length of the River of Tears. “You and your siblings? You’ve gone through a lot in a very short time. I can’t fault you for-“

“WHAT SORT OF WORLD DO YOU INTEND TO CREATE?”

Leviathan’s interruption makes you pause, and after a second or two the titan continues; “FATHER BELIEVES HE WILL NOT LIVE TO SEE THE WORLD YOU MAKE OF THIS ONE, IF YOU MANAGE TO ASCEND THE CORD. MY SIBLINGS AND I—WE WERE APPARENTLY INTENDED TO STAY BY YOUR SIDE TO HELP YOU REALIZE WHATEVER FUTURE YOU DESIRED. ZIZ…WELL, SHE APPEARS QUITE SMITTEN WITH YOU AND YOUR FAMILY. THE BURDEN OF BEHEMOTH’S WISH TO EARN APPROVAL MAY YET BE SHIFTED TO YOU, BUT AS FOR ME, I AM MERELY CURIOUS…”

Jackie laughs, her crew following suit as Rosa chuckles meekly at something you’ve missed.

“…WHAT IS OUR PLACE IN THE FUTURE YOU WOULD SEE COME TO PASS?”


>>”Ideally? I’d welcome you and your siblings into my own family. I see no difference between us…we are all looking for a place we can call home.”

>>”That depends…what sort of future would *you* like to see come to fruition?”

>>”…that’s not for me to decide, Leviathan. The choice lies with you and your siblings, individually.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next eight hours, with posting to resume tomorrow at 12PM, Eastern time. Thank you all for your patience and participation, and I wish you a good rest of your day!)
>>
>>5227515
man, out of the frying pan, into the fire. the perils of being such a forward thinking person.

I have no doubt that we have not even considered seriously about what sort of world that we would like to see grow in the wake of our ascension, but Levi's put a bigger spin on that take by asking about their place.

Now it seems that we've basically become their de facto adoptive parent for the trio. Oh Levi you. What are we to do with you and your siblings...
>>
>>5227515
>>Write-In
>"I don't think I can choose that for you. Ultimately, it's your own decision what you do with your life. It's what your father wanted, and I agree. You and your siblings should have the right to decide your own futures."
>"But ideally, I would like it if we could call each other friend. You're a fascinating individual, Leviathan, and I want someone that fascinating as part of my world. Not as a dependent, but a peer, someone I can have conversations like this with. The same with your siblings, even if you're probably right that Behemoth is going to imprint on me. We'll work on that."
>"And I want the rest of the world to see you as peers. Not some terrifying monster that they can't comprehend, but someone that could be part of their world, too. I'm not saying that you have to integrate into human society, like I said you should be free to decide your place as you choose. But there should be room for you, if you want it. Humans have spent a long time as the only sophont life we knew of. That's no longer the case, we have mutants and aliens aplenty now, and the world is going to have to adapt. It's probably going to be hard, we had trouble accepting our own differences a lot of the time. But if we're talking ideal situations, that's mine. A future where you being a giant sea serpent might make you exceptional, but not excluded."

How's this? I'm not sure I'm getting the point I want to make across, that being that I think Leviathan should have the right to be "just a person" if they want. That they should be free to live however they want, but that for that to be the case we need to give them the full gamut of possibilities, including integrating with human society. And that whatever they choose, I hope to stay in contact with them and with the rest of their siblings, because they're cool and I like having cool people in Shu's life.
>>
>>5227608
It sounds nice, but at the same time, I can't help but feel that Shu's in a weird spot. She's spent so much time jumping from one major point to another in the sense that she hit the ground running full tilt that the rare few moments of peace has been spent with the family that it's almost like she never had time to seriously sit down and consider the future. Even during that one interview with Orwell, she spent minutes seriously trying to come up with an answer to Orwell's question of (what world do you want to make when you ascend the cord) only to come up with something of a blank. And yet for much of her wisdom in seeing the follies of power and her farsightedness, it's ironic that Shu's practically blind when it comes to considering her immediate future and trying to find a place within her own vision of the future.

Perhaps it's probably because the future she wishes to see has come to pass, beings like her, the hexane, the tindalos, and the apocalypse amalgams finally getting along together. And yet for all her verbosity that we've given her. It feels like this is the one question that stumps us the most. We can word our way though many a tense dialogue, but it also feels like we're the most speechless when it comes to ourselves.
>>
>>5227632
I think part of it is that for so long we had so few details about what was possible with the Crucible that we didn't want to speculate and have it prove to be impossible. Another part is that when we've set ourselves as the hunter of gods who would wield power unilaterally, we're afraid to make a position on the future because we don't want to look like we're making a unilateral decision for mankind. And I think part of it is just that with this being a quest and Shu's characterization being by committee, we've all got different ideals of who she should be and what she should want.

But yeah, there are a lot of questions that we've mostly been pushing off until later. I see four main categories of unanswered questions:

>What do we do about the superpowers?
Highly idiosyncratic superpowers are a threat to democracy and equal rights. But they'd also be a real help in rebuilding the world, and a lot of people have grown attached to them as part of their identity. Do we let people keep their powers? If so, are we going to give all the people who were in the Cord powers, to even out the game? How do we handle progression of powers, we should probably get rid of the cannibalism thing but can we make another way for people to strengthen their abilities and get new ones? Should we do that?

>What do we do about all the mutants?
All the people who lived through the Crucible being weird mutants is going to be a serious problem for acceptance of them among the Cord-stored. There's an argument that it would be better off if we just turned everyone back into a human baseline appearance. But a lot of people actually like their mutated bodies Can we make it an opt-out sort of thing, where you have to choose to go back to human? How are we going to convince the baselines in the Cord not to discriminate against the mutants?

>What do we do about all the non-humans?
There are a minimum of three sophont species on Earth, now. Humans, the Tindalos Hounds, and the Pyre Ants. There are also a variety of one-offs or limited populations, like the Hexane remnants or the Titans themselves. How do we integrate them into society so that people don't see them as a horrifying outsider? Also, what do we do with the stored populations in the Crucible's core? Putting another 775 species on Earth is a real bad idea for peaceful relations, and I'm not sure we could even fit them all in the solar system. Are we going to have to expand into space to get the requisite room, will reviving them be the work of generations?

>What do we do about resources?
All infrastructure is destroyed. How do we rebuild that? How do we prevent conflicts over resources from leading to war and constant conflict among the revived humans? Retaining Crucible-derived biotech could help, but that also opens up the potential for misuse of it. Or we could get assistance from the Dissociated, shipping minerals and energy from space, but that puts us at their mercy. How do we solve this problem?
>>
>>5227515
>"To tell you the truth, I don't know. I'm very much in the same spot as you are Leviathan. I was born mere weeks...months? ago? Knowing nothing of myself with only what I have on my person and the ever-present call of the Crucible."
>"It's been one thing to another lately and so much has happened."

>”Ideally? I’d welcome you and your siblings into my own family. I see no difference between us…we are all looking for a place we can call home.”

>"You're a fascinating individual, Leviathan, and I want someone that fascinating as part of my world. Not as a dependent, but a peer, a friend, someone I can have conversations like this with. The same with your siblings, even if you're probably right that Behemoth is going to imprint on me. We'll work on helping him grow into maturity."
>"I don't think I can choose that for you. Ultimately, it's your own decision what you do with your life. It's what your father wanted, and I agree. You and your siblings should have the right to decide your own futures."

>"And I want the rest of the world to see you as peers. Not some terrifying monster that they can't comprehend, but someone that could be part of their world, too. I'm not saying that you have to integrate into human society, like I said you should be free to decide your place as you choose. But there should be room for you, if you want it. Humans have spent a long time as the only sophont life we knew of. That's no longer the case, we have mutants and aliens aplenty now, and the world is going to have to adapt. It's probably going to be hard, we had trouble accepting our own differences a lot of the time. But if we're talking ideal situations, that's mine. A future where you and your siblings might make you exceptional, but not excluded."

>"Even though I it would be ideal for my desires to work that way, ultimately it's wishful thinking. There will always be unexpected elements that will pop up, things that are ultimately out of my control. But that's okay."
>"That in and of itself doesn't mean I can't try to make it happen."
>"But that's enough about me. What sort of future would *you* like to see come to fruition?"
>"I asked not because of your father's wishes, Levi. I asked because as a parent, the first thing to do when helping a child grow is to listen to their hopes, dreams, and wishes, and in turn help provide the environment for their children to mature and become independent."
>"While your sister is on the cusp of independence, and your brother's still immature, right now lets focus on *you*."
>"Is there anything in that vast mind that leaps out to you? You don't have to answer right away. It could be your fears, your worries, your happy memories, the times you spent with Morningstar, or even your hopes and dreams that you want to fulfill."
>"Speak and you will be heard."

>>5227659
Any Feedback on this? I'm angling for a parent-child talk angle between Shu and Levi given our experiences with parenting Amara.
>>
>>5227659
Another major issue we'll have to talk about and consider:

>The Nature of civilization.
So many species, flora and fauna. With the Crucible bio-tech turning everything into a holistic eco-system, this will make the circle of life very complicated when you consider that some species and civilizations subsist on livestock and other species to live. Not to mention the politics given how varied each species will be. The most basic fundaments of civilization will be challenged. And I will have no doubt that some form of PETA will emerge as a major faction.

>Generational and political disputes
With the advent of the Crucible and each subsequent cycle, the status quo will be undoubtedly shaken.
And with the reset of the button and the revival of the human civilization alongside with other species, there will be a clash between the old guard of civilization and the new advant guard.

>Bio-tech versus "clean-tech"
There will be certainly a debate between Disassociated tech and the bio-tech inherent throughout the crucible.

>Civilization and Nature
What will we do with the biosphere? How will we ensure that it stays working? There's bound to be a conflict when it comes to defining the lines of "ecology".

>The unconquerable problem
Long-term wise, there's a matter of energy and entropy, We have the code for re-seeding the entire galaxy, but even the Star Gods had to account for time, space, and entropy.
>>
>>5227676
Looks pretty good, I was working on my own revision that acknowledged Shu's uncertainty, myself. One thing I'd change, though, is get rid of the

>"I asked not because of your father's wishes, Levi. I asked because as a parent, the first thing to do when helping a child grow is to listen to their hopes, dreams, and wishes, and in turn help provide the environment for their children to mature and become independent."
>"While your sister is on the cusp of independence, and your brother's still immature, right now lets focus on *you*."

I think that might come across as a bit patronizing to Leviathan, to set us up in a parental role over them. They might be seeing us as one, but like they said they don't want to themselves be seen as doing that. They probably wouldn't like the presumption that we're in a parent-child relationship with them. I think we should instead appeal to them as having a unique position and insights. Something like

>"I asked not because of your father's wishes, Levi, but because I want to know more of your own. You've had the opportunity to come up with some unique perspectives on the world. That's true of everyone, of course, but your position is a rather atypical one. I'd like to hear what you've come to think in your time with the Crucibles."

Or something like that, something that lets Leviathan open up to us while still holding themselves as aloof and not at all emotionally bonding with us.
>>
>>5227515

I approve of >>5227690's proposal to the edit on my vote >>5227676

in changing the lines

>"I asked not because of your father's wishes, Levi. I asked because as a parent, the first thing to do when helping a child grow is to listen to their hopes, dreams, and wishes, and in turn help provide the environment for their children to mature and become independent."
>"While your sister is on the cusp of independence, and your brother's still immature, right now lets focus on *you*."

to
>"I asked not because of your father's wishes, Levi, but because I want to know more of your own. You've had the opportunity to come up with some unique perspectives on the world. That's true of everyone, of course, but your position is a rather atypical one. I'd like to hear what you've come to think in your time with the Crucibles."
>>
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>>5227515

"To tell you the truth, I don't know.” You admit with a simple shrug. “I'm very much in the same spot as you are, Leviathan.”
“OH? HOW SO?” The Amalgam asks, amused.
“I was born mere weeks...months? Ago?” You sigh, leaning back on your elbows as you gaze downriver. “Knowing nothing of myself with only what I have on my person and the ever-present call of the Crucible. It's been one thing to another lately and so much has happened…so, ideally? I’d welcome you and your siblings into my own family. I see no difference between us—we are all looking for a place we can call home.”
“I… SUPPOSE WE ARE.” Levy admits with no small measure of reluctance.
“Y’know, you're a fascinating individual, Leviathan.” You say, suddenly, catching the titan off-guard as they issue a surprised laugh. “I want someone that fascinating as part of my world. Not as a dependent, but a peer, a friend, someone I can have conversations like this with. The same with your siblings, even if you're probably right that Behemoth is going to imprint on me. We'll work on helping him grow into maturity."

“I SEE…THAT’S ALL WELL AND GOOD, BUT FROM WHAT I’M HEARING YOU’D SIMPLY HAVE MY SIBLINGS AND I…EXIST?” Leviathan scoffs. “SURELY ONE WHO’S LOOKING TO RESHAPE THE WORLD WOULD HAVE SOME DEMANDS OF BEINGS OF OUR CALIBER? SOMETHING YOU’D ASK OF US? YOU’D EXPECT ME TO BELIEVE THAT YOU WOULD SIMPLY LEAVE US TO OUR OWN DEVICES AFTER ALL IS SAID AND DONE?”


"I don't think I can choose your future for you. Ultimately, it's your own decision what you do with your life. It's what your father wanted, and I agree. You and your siblings should have the right to decide your own futures." You softly counter, hoping to round out the edges of Leviathan’s own suspicion. "And I want the rest of the world to see you as peers. Not some terrifying monster that they can't comprehend, but someone that could be part of their world, too.”

“Now, I'm not saying that you have to integrate into human society, like I said you should be free to decide your place as you choose.” You add just as Leviathan’s begins to speak in a huff. “But there should be room for you, if you want it. Humans have spent a long time as the only sophont life we knew of. That's no longer the case, we have mutants and aliens aplenty now, and the world is going to have to adapt. It's probably going to be hard, we had trouble accepting our own differences a lot of the time. But if we're talking ideal situations, that's mine. A future where you and your siblings’ origins might make you exceptional, but not excluded."

“AND YOU BELIEVE YOU CAN FORGE THIS FUTURE?” Levy prompts, and you shrug yet again.

(Continued)
>>
>>5228536

"Even though I it would be ideal for my desires to work that way, ultimately it's wishful thinking.” You confess, hardly blind to the realities of what you’re trying to accomplish. “There will always be unexpected elements that will pop up, things that are ultimately out of my control. But that's okay…that in and of itself doesn't mean I can't try to make it happen."

Looking from the river ahead to the slick, leathery snout that’s pointed downstream, you say; "But that's enough about me. What sort of future would *you* like to see come to fruition?"

“ME?” Leviathan muses a moment before answering dismissively. “MY FATHER INTENDED FOR US TO FIGHT BY YOUR SIDE. WHO AM I TO INGORE HIS WISHES?”

"I asked not because of your father's wishes, Levi, but because I want to know more of your own.” You emphasize, trying to weave your way through Leviathan’s reluctance to strike at the heart of the matter. “You've had the opportunity to come up with some unique perspectives on the world. That's true of everyone, of course, but your position is a rather atypical one. I'd like to hear what you've come to think in your time with the Crucibles. Is there anything in that vast mind that leaps out to you? You don't have to answer right away. It could be your fears, your worries, your happy memories, the times you spent with Morningstar, or even your hopes and dreams that you want to fulfill."

And then, with a kind smile, you add; "Speak, and you will be heard."

“WELL…I’VE SEEN SUFFERING.” Levy begins, coldly. “KINDNESS TURNED RUTHLESS. LOVE WARPED INTO EVERY VICE IMAGINABLE. MY FATHER’S PEERS FORCED HIM TO CRAFT AND ENGINE OF AGONY IN THE HOPES OF MAKING SOMETHING AS BITTER AND AS CRUEL AS THEMSELVES. HUNDREDS OF CYCLES, CHURNING OUT MILLIONS OF MONSTERS. YOU COULD SCARCELY IMAGINE THE SCOPE OF IT ALL.”

“It must have been hard.”

“FOR BEHEMOTH AND LEVY, YES.” Leviathan replies. “FOR ME, IT…I SUPPOSE THE PART THAT INFURIATED ME THE MOST WAS THE SHEER WASTE OF IT ALL. PASTS DISCARDED, PRESENTS INTERRUPTED, AND FUTURES SNUFFED OUT AT THE WHIMS OF SOMETHING MOST DAUGHTERS COULD BARELY UNDERSTAND, LET ALONE FIGHT. THERE WERE SO MANY INCREDIBLE BEINGS THAT I THOUGHT WERE LOST FOREVER. SO MUCH HISTORY THAT WAS CAST ASIDE FOR THE HUBRIS OF A ‘SPECIES’ WHOSE MEMBERS BARELY BROKE DOUBLE-DIGITS. BUT AT THE HEART OF IT ALL…I HAD FAITH THAT MY FATHER HAD SOME KIND OF PLAN FOR THE FUTURE. A VISION ONLY HE COULD SEE.”

Leviathan heaves a weary sigh before adding; “AND NOW? HE’S…FATHER HAS TOLD US WHAT HE’S INTENDED. ZIZ IS ALL FOR IT. BEHEMOTH IS REELING. AND AS FOR ME, WELL…I AM INTRIGUED. CURIOUS, REALLY, AS TO WHAT YOU’LL MAKE OF THIS WORLD AND THE ONES WHOSE FUTURES YOU NOW HOLD IN YOUR HANDS. I’D LIKE TO SPEAK WITH YOU AT GREATER LENGTH ABOUT YOUR PLANS…BUT IT APPEARS WE’VE ARRIVED.”

(Continued)
>>
>>5228537

You look up, realizing with a start that the mountainous terrain that’s looming on the horizon is a familiar sight…the gentle slope of the deadly river, the rocky beachhead, and the jagged cliffs recalling the first time you encountered the Disassociated.

To return here with the three Apocalypse Amalgams leading the charge, well…

…actually, now that you think about it, you might have wanted to warn the Diss-

{Already taken care of, love} Gina informs you, the corners of her smile playing at the edges of your mind. {Figured you wouldn’t want to waltz up unannounced, so I had Cassandra send word ahead that we’d be coming}

[Much appreciated. Do we have a vantage point picked out?] You ask, and you feel her subtly guide your vision to a peak up and to your left.

{Pendra says that’s the best spot, and Ziz said she’d be able to handle the blowback from the launch, since we’ll have front-row seats}

As you draw closer you realize that Ziz has arrived first, the titan’s seven wings wrapped around their perch while Behemoth’s slow, determined pace has brought him and the rest of your allies to where the mountains begin their steep incline. Leviathan slithers out of the river, wrapping their body in some of the water as they make their way through the crystalline cliffs…

…and when you crest the peak, you finally lay eyes on the very thing you came to protect.

It’s a thing of polished chrome and sleek angles, its form and function utterly alien to the place your world’s become. It stands like a spire among the jagged peaks, with the suggestion of frantic movement only barely visible around the base of the rocket. Here, where the air runs still and silent, a low, almost imperceptible hum makes itself known to you after a few quiet moments, a steady pulse of the raw power locked into the thing into which the Disassociated have poured their hopes and dreams.

A fleet of Rooks bring you and your fellow riders down from Leviathan’s head and to the area selected for your launch party—a sheared-off cliff that’s been artificially made into a mesa of vermillion crystal. While the Pyreants stay on top of Behemoth’s shoulders on account of their sheer number, your allies have ample space on the flatted spire to stretch their legs and find their own seating. The last to join you are Julia and Dorian who descend from Ziz’s wing hand-in-hand, and the great avian amalgam gives you a wink when you spy the fruits of your Artisans’ labor tucked discreetly under one wing.

“Ready when you are…Behemoth will love it!” Ziz whispers into your Commling, as your little one excitedly runs up to you.

“It’s so pretty!” Amara breathes in awe as she hugs your side.

(Continued)
>>
>>5228538

“Yeah, it’s…it’s pretty cool, I guess.” Nerada remarks, coalescing into her human form from the shadows beneath your daughter’s feet. Cassandra’s disembodied face undulates up to you on a carpet of animate wires, fixing you with her pleasant smile as she speaks.

“This was once planned to be the site of an observatory before we decided to expand further underground instead of vertically.” She informs you, adding with uncharacteristic trepidation “I do hope you find this locale to your liking, Dear?”

“This is great, Cassandra. Thank you.” You smile back. “How are we on time?”

“T-minus twenty minutes to launch!” Director Pendra announces loudly, prompting Francine to wince considering the two are side by side, with November just behind them.

You…can’t quite believe this is happening, actually. It’s been something you feel like you’ve been looking forward to for a long time, but now that you’re standing here with less than half an hour to go, it feels so utterly surreal. With Amara still latched onto your waist, Gina takes her place at your right hand, while Rath remains silent on your left, giving you a questioning look when she sees your expression.

“I’m fine, it’s just…it’s strange to be here, after everything that’s happened.” You confess as Julia and Dorian join your side, with Francine and November behind you. “If someone told me a few weeks ago that we’d be here—and *who* we’d be here with—I’m not sure I’d have believed it.”

“Well shit man, what can I say?” Rath laughs, clapping you on the back. “You seem to have a habit of making weirdness a reality.”

“Yeah, well…that wouldn’t be the case if I didn’t have you all by my side.” You reply, glancing around at your family, then to your allies, all of whom are talking amicably amongst themselves as you while away the minutes until the main event.

It almost seems like you should say something to all of them, now that the dust has finally settled…

>>Get everyone’s attention—they deserve to know how much it means to you that they’re here, and how lucky you are to call them your friends.

>>In lieu of a speech, you’d actually like to touch base with (Select and ally or allies of your choice to converse with until launch).

>>There’s a time for words, for speeches…but this isn’t it. Just sit back and enjoy the launch with your family.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume in five. I do hope your day is going well, everyone.)
>>
>>5228539
Where's isabelle in all of this? is she hanging back?
>>
>>5228552
(They'll be appearing in the next post, as she slipped away to rejoin the dream team aboard Behemoth and is now nearby.)
>>
>>5228540
Is Orwell livestreaming this event? With all that attention, she's bound to have a feast of emotions and attention given how she's rigged her hunger system to work.
>>
>>5228593
(Oh, she absolutely is. Girl's eating *very* well today.)
>>
>>5228539
>>There’s a time for words, for speeches…but this isn’t it. Just sit back and enjoy the launch with your family.

We've still got some time until the launch, let's just spend it enjoying the company of our friends and family. We've already thanked them for their help, now let's just be there with them while we wait for the light show.

>>5228600
Oh, good. We've given Orwell some pretty incredible scenes, I'm glad she's capitalizing on it. She's probably going to be getting views from this for months, if only because "the episode where Shu summoned Dread Cthulhu so that he could have a reunion with his kids" is something that needs to be seen to be believed. Every so often someone's going to hear about what happened here and just have to see for themselves.
>>
>>5228539
>Ask about the Rocket's destination. Where are they going? the Moon? Mars? or someplace further?

>Give a short speech before spending the rest of the time with the family. It won't do to have a ship launch without blessings.

>Short speech to everyone: "Well, this is it. This is all we've been waiting for."

>Contact the Rocket pilots and passengers, give them a maiden voyage speech to give them your blessings: "This is Shu, do you read me?"

>"To the brave thousands board the interstellar ark, I give you my blessings on behalf of those who look forward to not only survival, but towards a future. I will be honest with you. You and yours will be trading one form of hardship over another, to go out of the Crucible's frying pan and into the fires of the unknown abyss of space. Your journey will be harsh, the consequences unforgivable. But you all carry both the will, the hope, and the defiance required to face and overcome such challenges. Should we fail in stopping the Crucible, know that your escape and survival from this planet is still a victory against the Crucible itself. All we ask from you, is for you to remember who you are, where you were from, and to remember us, and to remember: Remember us that have come before. Remember us who remain. Remember that we once lived. And don't forget to call home once in a while."

>"Godspeed."

End the speech there and spend the rest of the time to enjoy the launch with your family.

>It isn't a rocket launch if we don't participate in the t-minus 10 countdown aloud. Hopefully the infectious energy in anticipation will get everyone, the titans included to participate in the countdown.

>Root for the Rocket as it tries to breach the membrane. maintain constant communication with the Rocket to see if it succeeds in piercing the membrane.
>>
>>5228631
>>Ask about the Rocket's destination. Where are they going? the Moon? Mars? or someplace further?
You know, that actually is a good question. We never asked. I'd assume further, if only because the Jovians are some prime real estate, but maybe the Dissociated don't have the delta-V to take their entire ship out there.
>>
>>5228539
Supporting >>5228631
>>
>>5228537
>“FOR BEHEMOTH AND LEVY, YES.”
you mean behemoth and ziz right? the curse of writer's hubris has struck. fret not, you are forgiven.
>>
>>5228539

“Cassandra?” You ask, a thought occurring to you. “Where are they going? The Moon? Mars? Or someplace further?”

“Well, given the prodigious thrust output of the fragment, we’ve calculated that they should be able reach Titan to make use of its hypothesized resources to ensure further jumps won’t have to rely purely on the Fragment.”

“Titan?” Gina echoes, intrigued. “Saturn’s biggest moon?”

“The very same, dear.” Cassandra nods with the entirety of her form. “The nature of the typical Disassociated frame means that a great many ‘human’ considerations could be discarded, allowing them to focus on how to make future explorations more efficient.”

“So you…rather, the Disassociated don’t plan on settling down close to Earth?”

“Oh, they’ll certainly keep a research station on Titan if circumstances permit, but ever since humanity’s shackles have been cast off through the Crucible, they saw an opportunity to do what it would have taken untold years to accomplish…if true space exploration could have even come to pass, considering our world’s prior state.”

“Hell of a silver lining, that.” Rath chuckles as Amara rounds on Cassandra with all the import she can muster.

“What’s her name?!”

“Pardon, dear?” Cassandra asks.

“The rocket! Every ship’s gotta have a name, right?” Your little one emphatically insists.

“Ah, well…most called it the Arc Veritas. The ‘Arc of Truth’, though despite being the formal name of the project, very recently most started to colloquially refer to it as, well...” Cassandra trails off with a guilty glance your way.

“The Defiance.” Francine finishes, a wry smirk tugging at her lips.

“…bullshit.” You fire back with an incredulous look at the good doctor, who merely shrugs as November comes to stand by her side.

“Don’t look at me, Darling. You’d think by now you’d have realized that you’ve made a far greater impact on this world than anyone could have guessed.” She says as you rise to your feet, glancing around at all present as their eyes shift to focus on you. “Oh? Is it speech time already?”

“What’s a ship launch without one?” You fire back with a wink that turns her smirk into a high, amused laugh. “Cassandra, one last thing—do you think you could patch me through to the rocket? I’d like to address the Disassociated before they leave, if I may.”

“Certainly dear.” She says, her smile crinkling the corners of her metallic eyes. “I can link your little swarmling communicator to my neural link when you’re ready.

Nodding, you leave your family for a moment to walk over to the mesa’s edge, staring off at the Defiance for a moment as you find the words to encapsulate just what you’re feeling in this moment.

Taking a breath, you turn on your heel to address all gathered before you.

(Continued)
>>
>>5228817

"Well, this is it.” You begin, glancing among your friends and family, with the three titans looming around you. “This is all we've been waiting for.”

Nodding to Cassandra, she gives you a wink as your Commling crackles to life in your ear. "This is Shu, do you read me?"

A few garbled voices can be heard before a high, metallic voice answers in a clipped, yet appreciative tone. “Loud and clear, Shu the Defiant. It is an honor and a privilege. You have our thanks for ensuring our lift-off, so do what do we owe your direct address?”

"To the brave thousands board the interstellar ark, I give you my blessings on behalf of those who look forward to not only survival, but towards a future.” You begin. “I will be honest with you. You and yours will be trading one form of hardship over another, to go out of the Crucible's frying pan and into the fires of the unknown abyss of space. Your journey will be harsh, the consequences unforgivable.”

Despite your grave beginning, you continue with a smile; “But you all carry both the will, the hope, and the defiance required to face and overcome such challenges. Should we fail in stopping the Crucible, know that your escape and survival from this planet is still a victory against the Crucible itself.”

A legion of cheers reach you across the connection, human and machine voices forming a chorus of victory.

“All we ask from you, is this…” You impart when the exultations subside. “…it is for you to remember who you are, where you were from, and to remember us, and to remember: Remember us that have come before. Remember us who remain. Remember that we once lived….and don't forget to call home once in a while."

“We will, Defiant. Know that we look forward to telling *you* of how far we’ve come.”

"…It’s a promise, then.” You reply with a grin. “Godspeed."

“Godspeed!” Your family shouts as one.

“To you as well, Shu.” The Disassociated reply, a harmony of robotic voices addressing you as one. “Good luck…”

“…and goodbye.”

With a crackle and pop, the line disconnects, leaving you with the sound of the wind whistling through the peaks and the steady thrum of the distant Defiance. Returning to Amara’s side, you sit down and cross your legs, with your little one all too happy to curl up on your lap with an excited giggle. Gina’s head finds your right shoulder, while Rath edges close enough for your arms to touch. Julia and Dorian are just to your right, the pair staring off at the rocket with their fingers threaded together, while Francine and November stand just behind you and to your left, the duo looking more relaxed than you’ve ever recall seeing them. Isabelle, Uzu, Holly, and Johanna approach tentatively, and Rat beats you to the punch in waving them over to have a collective seat by your side.

(Continued)
>>
>>5228818

Off to your far left, the Midnight Crew and Barbers have beckoned—or maybe ‘bullied’ is the more appropriate term—Paloma, Em, and Magnus enough to settle down between the two groups. Just beyond them paces Orwell, the bedraggled teen’s eye sockets willed with flickering masses of static that lash out with the sheer intensity of all she’s managing…most likely streaming recent events for all to see.

A muffled struggle behind you makes you turn to find Cassandra’s enveloped an irate Director Pendra, no doubt to grant Francine a moment’s rest from her suspiciously insistent peer. Cassandra merely gives you a wink as a few free tendrils form the shape of a ‘three’…not long now, to launch. You feel a thought flash through Gina’s head, her eyes flaring with violet light as her Neuromancy connects all present to her own enhanced vision.

“So we can watch the rocket all the way to the point where it breaches!” She explains aloud, then, turning to the Amalgams; “Hey, would you three like to link up, too?”

“I’d love that!” Ziz immediately accepts, while Leviathan merely nods their assent.

“RATH explained to me what a ROCKET is.” Behemoth rumbles. “I ACCEPT your EYES. I wish to WITNESS the FIRE and FLAMES in all their GLORY.”

With everyone linked to GG’s enhanced sight, all you have to do is focus to bring the distant shuttle hurtling forward into your full field of vision. It’s a wonder to behold, a shining pinnacle of technology whose hum starts to grow in intensity as the seconds while by.

“One minute remaining.” Cassandra informs you, an edge to her voice that she’s trying to hide. Years of preparation, countless calculations, and the hopes of thousands…all leading to this singular moment.

“Forty seconds.” She says again, and Amara squeals with glee as Nerada backs up to rest herself against her friend’s outstretched legs. November folds her arms, Francine’s eyes narrowing at the rocket as Ziz breathes a barrier of wind into existence, the shimmer subtle enough to not disrupt your vision.

“Thirty.” She says, as Rath’s arm grows warm against yours, and Dorian and Julia’s fingers tighten their grip around each other.

“Twenty.”

Gina’s hand finds yours as you wrap your arm around Amara’s waist, while Isabelle and Uzu scoot close enough for their shoulders to touch.

“Ten! Nine!” You begin, everyone present catching on as soon as the second digit is uttered.

“Eight! Seven!” All chant in unison, Amara on the edge of her seat.

“Six!”

The hopes and dreams of humanity.

“Five!”

Pinned on defiance.

“Four!”

One, cast to the stars.

“Three!”

Another, bound to your home.

“Two!”

They will succeed…

“ONE!”

…and so will you.

(Continued)
>>
>>5228819

“BLASTOFF!” Amara and Ziz roar as one, and even though the latter’s shield you can feel the sudden pressure—the sound and fury of the launch held back just enough to allow you this one-in-a-lifetime chance to witness history in the making.

Like a silver spear cast to the heavens, the Defiance begins to rise on a billowing cloud of azure flame and silver smoke. The pit on your stomach only deepens as the Fragment’s power fills you with the overwhelming urge to flee, to rise from your seat and escape as it’s powers reach a violent, but necessary crescendo. It’s climbing straight up, its chrome surface seemingly unable to reflect the raw crimson and violent scarlet of the world it’s fleeing. It’s a shining beacon, and you’re glad for what Gina’s granted you—without her eyes, it’d be impossible to keep your gaze affixed to the resplendent vessel that’s hurtling towards its ultimate goal.

The Crucible’s membrane, the false sky that’s blanketed the earth in eternal dusk.

The tip of the spear is almost there, and your breath hitches in your throat as an unstoppable force is met with an immovable object.

Calculations were made. Hypotheses, tested. But ultimately?

It was a gamble from the start.

The Disassociated rolled…

…and won.

The Defiance slashes through the weakened membrane like so much wet paper, the engines igniting the edges of the tattered wound as it reaches escape velocity. You’re only dimly aware of Gina and Rath hugging you at the same time as Amara leaps from your lap with a scream of utter, undiluted joy. Behemoth and Ziz roar with triumph, the former almost shaking the jubilant Pyreants off his shoulders as they, too, are caught up in the fervor.

But to you, it’s all just numb.

Sounds are muffled, and even as you’re swept up by your family you’re only vaguely aware that you’ve been brought to your feet by their embrace, so entranced are you by what you see.

Stars.

Shining pin-pricks that the tattered cocoon that holds your world hostage has kept from your sight, until just now. It’s night, just beyond the veil, and as the Disassociated’s vessel surges off into their own vision of the future, yet more glimmering gemstones reveal themselves to your augmented gaze.

You’ve seen it before, in memories that weren’t yours to call your own. But here and now, at the precipice of the final push, the final gauntlet before all is lost or won, you’re stunned stock-still by your very first glimpse of what lies beyond this world of flesh and bone.

Your vision swims, the lights swirling into an abstraction of shining water—and for a single terrified second you think that it’s all just a dream, that it’s some kind of illusion until a small hand gently wipes the tears from your eyes, and your world is suddenly filled with a concerned two-tone gaze.

(Continued)
>>
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>>5228820

“Mom? Mom, what’s wrong?” Amara asks, her hands finding your cheeks as she moves your head to get a better look you. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, sweetie. I’m okay.” You chuckle weakly, wiping away the lingering wetness on your cheeks with a sniff. “It’s all okay. It was…it was the first time I’ve ever seen the night sky.”

“Wha-…really?” She murmurs, following your eyes to look up to the wound in the world-shell. It’s slowly piecing itself together, the scarlet flesh creeping across the true sky and finally snuffing the stars from view. Amara turns to you, determination flashing in her eyes as she speaks.

“You’ll see it again! I’ll show you! Just leave it to me, I’ll show you all the night skies you could want!” She firmly declares.

“Hey kiddo, that’s my line.” Rath chides, half-joking as she nudged your shoulder with her own.

“Is it, now?” Gina teases, her arms wrapping around your right. “I thought it was *my* duty to show Shu everything under the night sky.”

“Ahem, ANYway.” Rath promptly coughs, her cheeks glowing white-hot as she fixes you with a smile. “So, your first time seeing the night sky for real, huh? A good first…but it won’t be the last.”

“I’ll make sure of it!” Amara adds, scrambling up to your shoulders as she sakes a fist to the sky. “You hear that?! Imma tear the sky a new asshole! For my MOM!”

A high-pitched peal of laughter sounds from your right, a quick glance revealing Julia nearly doubled over with laughter as Dorian tries his best to not lose himself, too. It’s a tall order, given the relived wave of laughter that ripples through all present...but to you, it’s just what you need.

You’ve got a rough road ahead of you…

…but it’s not one you’re treading alone.

>>Stay here, a while…you’d like to ride this wave of relief and good will as far as it’ll take you.

>>Return home with all in tow…you need to plan for what’s next, and getting your house back in order is high on your ‘to-do’ list.

>>Go ahead and gift Behemoth his FuzzBuzz and Leviathan the Hope Fragment—you want to make sure both know they’re being thought of.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next six hours, with posting to resume tomorrow at 12PM, Eastern time. I wish you a restful evening one and all, and I do hope your week is going well.)

>>5228795
(...*screams externally*)
>>
>>5228821
That was a really beautiful moment. I loved Shu getting to see the actual sky, I've been looking forward to something like that for a while. Somehow it never occurred to me we'd see it at the launch, I figured we'd have to wait until we were standing at the top of the Cord. Getting to see it here was a nice little treat. Especially with Gina, Rath and Amara's responses. Some cute ship-tease and our adorable daughter being the best, always a good compliment to a scene.

>>Stay here, a while…you’d like to ride this wave of relief and good will as far as it’ll take you.

Let's enjoy this for a bit longer. We'll start assigning missions again soon enough, for now let's just take it in. Share in a spirit of good will with all our friends, old and new, human and Amalgam. Besides, going home means we have to undo the Water Temple that Dorian turned the Lair into. I'm fine with postponing that for as long as possible. Especially if the Hassan went there and are upset about it. Can we just let everyone know that the Hope Fragment is in Leviathan's possession, now, so that they go after them instead of us? If people want to try to steal from the Sea Titan, it's their funeral.

Also, just a random thought that occurred to me while I was out: We need to introduce Nerada to Rosa. Rosa still wants that signed tattoo, and now Nerada is right there.
>>
>>5228903
(I'm really glad you enjoyed it! It's always nice to know when something I've written hits home.)
>>
>>5228821
Extending onto >>5228903

>>Write-In
>Talk with our various companions and catch up with what the ones we haven't seen in a while have been up to since we last met. Just make some nice small talk while we watch the sky. Everyone mingle and get to know each other better.
>Afterwards, invite everyone back to the Lair to discuss business and make our plans (and terraform a patio so we can talk to our guests who are too large to fit inside). Make it clear to Leviathan that giving them the Fragment isn't dependent on their coming with, they can take it any time they want.
>We'll give Behemoth the BattleBuzz once we've talked business, so he's not distracted by it, though we should be sure to keep him in the loop of the conversation so he doesn't feel like we're disregarding him before then.

Also, something we should discuss with the Earthbound Dissociated: Do they need a place to stay? Do the Dissociated have any secondary bases they can occupy, or should we look into finding them a new home? We've got that house in Laoc, the Town of Rust has plenty of room, and Orwell's city should be mostly empty. It shouldn't be a problem to get them a new place, but we should confirm if they need one.
>>
>>5229076
It was really good. A nice moment of hope and optimism where everyone comes together to strike a tangible blow for the better instead of just mitigating something bad. Something that united the whole group in a spirit of good will and hope for the future, even the giant monsters who only a bit earlier were disdaining or actively threatening the rocket. It was a really nice moment.

Also, on a similar note, can't believe I didn't say it earlier: >>5228631 was a really good write-in, anon. Great speech bidding a ship launching off into the future.
>>
>>5228825
That was such a beautiful update.

>“I’ll make sure of it!” Amara adds, scrambling up to your shoulders as she sakes a fist to the sky. “You hear that?! Imma tear the sky a new asshole! For my MOM!”
This is utterly hilarious yet heartwarming at the same time.

>>5228821
I do have a question: What was Pendra's reason for staying behind? I have a suspicion in that her reason for staying is because Francine's presence gave her the motivation for healthy competitive oneupsmanship, albeit one-sided. It feels so silly yet very telling about Pendra's character in the sense that she stayed because of Francine.

>>5228820
YAS! no challenger tragedy for us!

>>5229077
There's always the Disassociated's launchpad HQ. Any Rocket will need infrastructure and a mission HQ in order to even be launched, let alone built.
>>
>>5229092
(Even before Francine's awakening to her own individuality, ever since she arrived at the DOs she blew Pendra away with both technical skill and the fact that a great many of her fellow researchers took to Francine very quickly, as evidenced by November and some of your first interactions with the good doctor. Thus, Pendra's overbearing nature is really her just desperately wanting to be Francine's friend and going about that in the most obnoxious way possible because she's just bad at people.)

>>5229079
(I have to agree—>>5229079 this write in was absolutely stellar.)
>>
There's also a matter of moving the Ikea back from the no-mans land given its rate of expansion, but behemoth "should" make it an easy task...if the Ikea mall's eldritch properties allow him to move it.
What else is there on the potential "to-do list"? I'm certain there will be certain daughters and other wandering characters that might approach us if given the opportunity.

Also, I can't help but pity the Hassans.
>>5228821

adding a proposal to the linked vote >>5229077:

>When BattleBuzz gets presented to behemoth, have BattleBuzz "come online" in a "cool" way and strike a pose mimicking pic related. dramatic lightning flare is optional.
>>
>>5229092
>I do have a question: What was Pendra's reason for staying behind? I have a suspicion in that her reason for staying is because Francine's presence gave her the motivation for healthy competitive oneupsmanship, albeit one-sided. It feels so silly yet very telling about Pendra's character in the sense that she stayed because of Francine.
It does feel that way, yeah. That she really wants to both work with and show up Francine, like she really respects Francine's intellect but doesn't know any way to express it other than to try to outdo her. Sadly, Francine has been focused on work and has not risen to the challenge. Maybe now that there isn't an immediate threat of giant monster fight, she'll decide she can spare the time.

>There's always the Disassociated's launchpad HQ. Any Rocket will need infrastructure and a mission HQ in order to even be launched, let alone built.
Yeah, that's what I'm thinking, but there's always the possibility that the facilities weren't designed for long-term occupancy and they'll need something more stable to live in now.
>>
>>5229100
You dropped your trip.

>22:22:22 No.5229100
yee Star Gods. what fortuitous timing.
>>
>>5229102
>What else is there on the potential "to-do list"? I'm certain there will be certain daughters and other wandering characters that might approach us if given the opportunity.
I'm not sure there is anything pressing. We need to talk with the Apocalypse Amalgams about the resonance issues and Leviathan's plans now that they've had some time to think, but otherwise we're free to explore westward again without any disasters to take up our time.

>Also, I can't help but pity the Hassans.
Nah, it's the other girls who you should pity. The Hassans are infiltration specialists, I think they're wise enough to acknowledge when a target is beyond their reach. The Breakers are smash and grab, and have been implied to not be very smart. They just might try to steal from Leviathan.

>When BattleBuzz gets presented to behemoth, have BattleBuzz "come online" in a "cool" way and strike a pose mimicking pic related. dramatic lightning flare is optional.
Oh, hell yes. Let's go full Mazin Power on this. Can we have a FuzzBuzz dock with BattleBuzz like the Pilder does?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grK1I_6k_b8
>>
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>>5229110
>Battlebuzz is a Fuzzbuzz and Rook 2-in-1 combo.
Oh dear. We may have inadvertently started the Gurren Lagaan sequence if Behemoth gets the idea to put BattleBuzz on top of his horned head. It'll be a Fuzzbuzz that docked a Rook who then docked on top of Behemoth. Go for it. It's clearly evident that Behemoth's a hot-blooded star-child-fragment who was excited at Rath's description of a Rocket. Oh...Oh dear. I think Behemoth might stumble upon a new hobby. Building kaiju-sized stuff if he puts his mind to it.

>I'm not sure there is anything pressing. We need to talk with the Apocalypse Amalgams about the resonance issues and Leviathan's plans now that they've had some time to think, but otherwise we're free to explore westward again without any disasters to take up our time.
Well there's something we haven't considered in a long time ever since the 16th vein with the introduction of the Disassociated faction's Rocket side-quest. The fact that we now don't have a grand sense of a gigantic doom-clock that's immediately pressing down on our shoulders. It's been quite a long time since we've felt that sort of burden lighten itself.

>>5229104
>Yeah, that's what I'm thinking, but there's always the possibility that the facilities weren't designed for long-term occupancy and they'll need something more stable to live in now.
There could be some DO technology and other relics left over that could still be of use.

>>5227659
Oh boy, lets not forget about gender identities and inter species relationships. With the bio-tech inherent in the crucible, the gender barrier becomes so hazy that it'll be hard to draw the line or even consider the merits and biological relevance of the gender concept. pic related is a tangentially related example.
>>
>>5229121
>Oh dear. We may have inadvertently started the Gurren Lagaan sequence if Behemoth gets the idea to put BattleBuzz on top of his horned head. It'll be a Fuzzbuzz that docked a Rook who then docked on top of Behemoth. Go for it. It's clearly evident that Behemoth's a hot-blooded star-child-fragment who was excited at Rath's description of a Rocket. Oh...Oh dear. I think Behemoth might stumble upon a new hobby. Building kaiju-sized stuff if he puts his mind to it.
Right, that's what I was thinking. FuzzBuzz docks into the Rook, then it flexes up like Mazinger. Though Behemoth might not like kaiju or mecha shows that much. Or if he did, he'd demand very high production values. After all, he actually is a kaiju that fights space kaiju, he could be a real stickler for people getting it right.

Behemoth using his terraforming suite for crafting could be cool, though. He could make his own giant-scale...well, they wouldn't be miniatures in his case, would they? But making a bunch of neat sculptures of things he likes. Maybe he could sculpt the space monsters he's fought, make a little trophy hall of them.

>Well there's something we haven't considered in a long time ever since the 16th vein with the introduction of the Disassociated faction's Rocket side-quest. The fact that we now don't have a grand sense of a gigantic doom-clock that's immediately pressing down on our shoulders. It's been quite a long time since we've felt that sort of burden lighten itself.
Yeah, we've not got infinite time, we do still need to move at a solid pace, but there's nothing immediately threatening. We have not had that in a long while. Time to explore and adventure and meet a few more of those powerful foreign Daughters we've heard about. I hope we get to meet back up with Nuckleavee, she seemed nice.

>There could be some DO technology and other relics left over that could still be of use.
Sure. Salvage what's of use, even if the facility itself isn't meant for occupation. They can use it to help them get set up somewhere new, in that case. Maybe the Ikean Fortress, if only to make it even more surreal with Cassandra's presence. Nothing like a giant cyber-face on one wall to make a room feel weird.

>Oh boy, lets not forget about gender identities and inter species relationships. With the bio-tech inherent in the crucible, the gender barrier becomes so hazy that it'll be hard to draw the line or even consider the merits and biological relevance of the gender concept. pic related is a tangentially related example.
Yeah, that would be one of the consequences of the body-modification tech, physical sex being more mutable is bound to change our ideas of gender. It could be a big deal for trans people, if the technology was made easily available. It could also see some backlash from transphobes, of course. Nothing we can do about it now, but something for Shu to keep in mind.
>>
>>5228825
>It was a gamble from the start.
>The Disassociated rolled…
>…and won.

What did the bones say when they rolled the dice?
>>
>>5228821

Ultimately, you opt to stay here for a little while longer… you’d like to ride this wave of relief and good will as far as it’ll take you. Realizing that it’s the first time you’ve had all your allies—new and old—in one place, you spy a golden opportunity to make some fresh introductions. Your first touch-base is made after consulting with Nerada, and as you approach the Barbers they pause their conversation mid-sentence when Rosa realizes who you’ve brought with you.

“Oh my stars…Nerada, right? It’s really you?” Rosa breathes with something akin to reverence, half-rising to her feet before she promptly takes a knee, instead. “It’s…it’s an honor!”

“Um…same?” The young girl replies, glancing back up at you before fishing around in her dress pocket. “So, Shu told me that you had this tattoo thing you like? You collect them?”

Rosa nods emphatically as Sia just…you *think* the Neuromancer just rolled her eyes, but it’s hard to tell given the cloud of static and haze that makes up the Daughter’s head. Nerada promptly thrusts a thin, delicately folded sheet of shadow into Rosa’s waiting hands.

“It’s a tattoo, kind of like the ones I saw in malls sometimes, only this one is permanent.” The young Hive Mistress explains.

“I…oh my god. I d-don’t know what to say.” Rosa mutters, completely and utterly starstruck by the gift as Sia steps forward with a beleaguered sigh.

“What we say is ‘thank you, Nerada’.” The Barbers’ ‘straight man’ says, kneeling down to bring her eye-level with the younger girl. “We appreciate it. Seriously.”

“It’s…it’s no problem." She replies, taken aback at their appreciation.

“Hey kid, you’re pretty badass from what I hear!” Jackie suddenly barks, beckoning Nerada over to her side. “We and the Barbers were just swapping war stories—wanna join in?”

“They’re tame, don’t worry!” Quinn hastily adds after you shoot Jackie a look. “I mean, tame for the Crucible’s standards, but hey!”

“Uh…sure. I’ve got a few stories to share.” Nerada shrugs, as bashful as you’ve ever seen her. “But they’re probably nothing special…“

“Great! Have a seat by me!” Jackie exclaims, patting the crystalline ground beside her while shooting you a sly wink. Leaving Nerada to be lavished with attention by Daughters closer to her own caliber, you turn your attention to the titans.

(Continued)
>>
>>5229601

Ziz is listening intently with a quiet Snowbird atop her head as Leviathan converses amicably with Francine and Director Pendra, the latter two peppering the amalgam with technical questions that Levy seems more than happy to address. Behemoth’s also caught up in conversation with an unlikely sort—Rath’s in the middle of a group of Pyreants, and given the snatches of dialogue you catch it seems they’re comparing…fire? Between Rath’s outstretched hands her white flames flare to life at the same time a Pyreant steps forward, his claws erupting into vermillion flame. You decide to let them….compare notes, you guess?...and instead approach Leviathan to address something you don’t wish to remain ambiguous.

“Hello, Darling.” Francine hums at your approach. “We were just exchanging notes on the launch and the stabilization of fragments…are we leaving for the Roost already?”

“Not quite, but I’ll make an announcement once everyone’s ready to head that way.” You explain, turning to Leviathan. “You and your siblings are welcome to join us, but I wanted to let you know that our deal isn’t dependent on you coming with us. You’re welcome to take the Hope fragment at any time.”

“MUCH OBLIGED, THOUGH I BELIEVE I WILL BE ACCOMPANYING YOU BACK TO YOUR ‘ROOST’. FRANCINE TELLS ME THAT SHE’S MADE SOME COMMENDABLE PROGESS ON CONTAINING THE HOPE FRAGMENT, AND PERSONAL INSPECTION MAY PROVE INVALUABLE.”

“I, too, would like to see what Francine’s whipped up!” Director Pendra adds, her chitinous neck slithering out and bringing her head closer to yours than you’re entirely comfortable with. “I understand you’ve given Fran her own laboratory? I look forward to seeing it!”

“You’re more than welcome to, if Francine allows it.” You say, trying to ignore the breach of personal space until Pendra’s head snaps back to her body in time to affix Francine with an urgent glare.

“I…don’t see why not.” The good doctor says, putting on her best—if somewhat unconvincing—smile.

Bowing out from the trio, you seek out Paloma and Magnus to thank them for their contributions, only to find them engaged in conversation with Julia and Dorian…whom you’re amused to see still haven’t let go of each others’ hands.

“…sort out the Roost when we get back, though there’s still the matter of…ah, just the woman I wished to see!” Dorian greets you with a smile, while Magnus gives you a polite bow as Paloma gives you a quick, two-handed wave as you approach.

“Am I in trouble?” You smirk, earning a giggle from Julia as Paloma answers your question.

“Ha, not at all! I was just telling these two that I was probably going to take Magnus and Em back to the Fort and see if our mystery woman’s taken the bait.”

“Bait?” You echo.

(Continued)
>>
>>5229602

“As you well know, Paloma reached out to me to assist with her plan to make the Ikean Fortress mobile, though my work was interrupted by the Arcadian crisis.” Magnus explains, hands folded behind his back. “Well, it appears that before you and she met there was an incident—an infiltration, so to speak. We believe that an old associate of mine may be planning to hijack our efforts, though to what end I cannot say for certain. In assisting you, we were also hoping to prompt any nefarious elements to make their move in the absence of Ikean leadership.”

“Is that something you need hel-?” You almost get out before Paloma raises both hands to stop you.

“You’ve done more than enough for one day, and more in a week than most do in a lifetime.” The shorter brunette assures you. “If we end up needing help then I won’t hesitate to reach out, but I’m hoping it won’t come to that.”

“Speaking of intruders…” Dorian chimes in as he fixes you with his dazzling blue eye. “…we were just discussing the Hassans and Breakers. Paloma tells me that the Breakers were wiped out, and by Proxies, no less?”

“Looks that way.” You sigh, folding your arms. “Not sure what’s up with that, if I’m being honest. It’d be nice if they banded together out of the goodness of their heart, but there’s just too much we don’t know about their motives.”

“Maybe they were just trying to be nice, like Francine!” Amara chimes in, having slipped over to your side with you unawares.

“Maybe…where’ve you been?” You ask, and your little one gestures over to where Orwell’s still pacing, eyes flickering between different shades of static. Just beyond her, Charon and Ringo sit on the cliff’s edge, still staring up at the sky-wound that’s long since healed.

It's been a while since you’ve spoken with them, though given how enraptured they are with their sky-gazing, you’re not sure if you should interrupt just yet.

They’ve had the unenviable task of keeping an eye on your resident cult, and you’re certain they’re relishing the break…though maybe it’s Orwell that needs one, given that the teen’s looking more haggard every time you see her, as of late.

>>Announce that you’ll be moving everyone who’s ready back to the Dragon’s Roost, and send Dorian on ahead to disentangle whatever he’s done before you arrive.

>>Go chat with Charon and Ringo before heading back—you’d like to catch up with your best Hexane and Tindalos friends.

>>Get Orwell’s mind off work, if just for a little while. You appreciate all she’s done, but you don’t want the girl burning out on your account.

>>Try to locate Tinker Tailor in all this…you haven’t seen her since everything settled down.

>>Choose another ally/allies to speak with before returning home.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume in five.)
>>
>>5227659
>I think part of it is that for so long we had so few details about what was possible with the Crucible that we didn't want to speculate and have it prove to be impossible. Another part is that when we've set ourselves as the hunter of gods who would wield power unilaterally, we're afraid to make a position on the future because we don't want to look like we're making a unilateral decision for mankind. And I think part of it is just that with this being a quest and Shu's characterization being by committee, we've all got different ideals of who she should be and what she should want.

Ironically, from the other characters perspective and even from our own perspective, this sort of "ill-fitting moments" makes for great story telling. Shu's this girl who was borne of the Crucible, and is given a near unstoppable drive to end it and in doing so, amasses power and influence at an astronomical rate, and yet, we anons consistently give her reasons to want to turn down power, from the lobotomization of our empathic powers to our declaration or not wanting to rule, to even the general blank we or rather "she" draws up when pressed for questions that involve governance and leadership. And in the same coin, it also puts us and Shu in a position of great risk on the personal, the moral, and the grand scope. Her choices will have massive impact given the amount of power she has accumulated wittingly, unwittingly, and unwillingly.

All of this runs counter to her humble goal of being a homemaker and mother for her adopted daughter and family, and sets her up ripe for a moral failure at a critical point which sort of proves Levi's point and reinforces his share of wisdom. He's seen love twisted into every vice imaginable, and Shu's not that different from the rest of the ascendants that came before her. There WILL be a moment where Shu is forced to make a moral choice, a choice that involves her moving unilaterally against her usual habit of asking for consul amongst her friends, a choice that involves action instead of words and diplomacy. I'm not sure when or where this choice will happen but I'm certain that it will have devastating impact even in the final moments of this quest.
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>>5229609
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>>5229616
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>>5229606
>>Write-In
>Check with Orwell to see if she's in a position where she can take a break, if so then get her distracted from managing her stream to socialize with people. We want to keep her from burning out, but we shouldn't interrupt her if she's doing something important.
>Otherwise, go hang out with Charon and Ringo, see how our alien friends are doing.

Maybe even bring Orwell over to talk with Charon and Ringo, I don't think she's met them and it could be fun for her. You like hearing the perspectives of the various people of the Crucible, Orwell? Have some alien perspectives. What does an N-dimensional space dog think of this?

>>5229609
>>5229616
...yay. Ah, well, should make for an interesting event, even if I am filled with dread.
>>
>>5229654
>an interview with past crucible contestants
wouldn't that mean more work for her if we're trying to get her to relax and unwind?
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>>5229616
goddammit. why did I say that aloud?
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>>5229662
I was thinking something more casual. She could arrange an interview in the future, but for now I just thought she might enjoy meeting some aliens. Really, any of the people we introduce her to could trigger her "I have to get them on my show" reflex. We've got a lot of interesting people here. We've just got to emphasize "Orwell, sweetie, no. You've been working hard, you can afford to spend a few moments just hanging out with friends."
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>>5229676
>>5229654
And there's the rub when it comes to that write-in
>but we shouldn't interrupt her if she's doing something important.
To Orwell, that streaming service she provides is her food and drink, bread and water against the cosmic hunger. Currently she's gorging herself like a glutton on all the attention, but she's probably ignorant of the trade offs she's making. Not to mention the paradox of over-eating. Sure Orwell's having a feast right now, but she's also killing herself with the amount of detrimental devotion she's putting herself through. She needs either a hard reset and some time to mentally unplug herself and recoup her strength or active intervention. Doing so might help, but at the same time this sort of decision has to be done of her own volition. It's clear that she's burning herself out.
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>>5229676
We could compare this to something akin to binge-watching a tv show, or something. Offer incentives that help her slow the pace of her streams and manage a more healthy lifestyle for her streaming services. God this feels so weird given the topic of the talk when it comes to Orwell.
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>>5229654
>...yay. Ah, well, should make for an interesting event, even if I am filled with dread.

Regardless. it does highlight a core question that I can't help but wonder: If Shu's presence is the catalyst and the focus responsible for bringing out the best qualities in our family members, how will they be able to cope in Shu's absence? Will they be able to move on despite the void that Shu leaves in the wake of her absence? Or will they simply collapse and revert into the worst of their qualities in an extreme whiplash reaction? I'm very certain it's a question that's been unanswered in the minds of our family members and we've only just gotten around to addressing that issue when we had that talk with Amara at the Ikea prior to tackling Merkabah, but that still leaves the rest of the family members relatively unprepared or even unaddressed. I'm sure they have their own thoughts about the question, we just don't know what. And even if we do know, what should we do about it?
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>>5229682
>>5229684
That raises the question of what incentive we could offer to keep her more grounded. She sees Amara as a surrogate little sister, maybe we could use time with her as that inventive? Not in a "you have earned five minutes of Amara time" sense, but just giving her a reason to take a break every so often to spend some time with her. We could try to pivot from there to her spending more time unplugged with the rest of us, too. Encourage her to join us in our downtime moments, grab a drink and talk with us before heading off to manage her multimedia empire.

Alternatively, we could finally get her to admit that she's an avatar body for a giant crystalline entity. Go and calm her crystal body down, give it some nice harmonic vibrations. Like a spa day for a living psychic resonator.

>>5229701
I think they'd falter and have trouble, but probably stay on course. We might be the core of this group, but they've made their own connections among each other, and that means that even with us gone they'd still have a support network. Combine that with our friends in the Midnight Crew, Barbers, Dissociated and Laoc, and I think that even if we died they'd be able to support each other and keep from falling into bad habits. That said, you're right that we need to delve further into our party's various issues, help get all their heads on straight before we hit the Cord. From what we know that place is going to be a mindfuck, so let's go in with minds as unfucked as possible.
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>>5229606
>>5229676

>Get Orwell’s mind off work, if just for a little while. You appreciate all she’s done, but you don’t want the girl burning out on your account.
>"Earth to Orwell, this is Shu speaking. Are you there?"
>"I know you're having the time of your life when it comes to this streaming session but I think now's a good time to end it on a high note don't you think?"
>"There's a time to stream, and there's a time to not stream. I'm very certain that this is one of the times for the latter. Come on, I'm sure your fans will understand you unplugging for R&R once in a while."
>"Besides, your latest stream's gonna be the talk of the skinternet for days and weeks. You'll be set for quite a while when it comes to your hunger. I'm sure Amara's keen on playing with you. Can't have you running yourself ragged.You've done a great job. You deserve a moment to yourself."
>Offer Orwell a way off by signing off on the current stream with a cameo.

How does this sound?
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>>5229755
Sounds good. Reminding her that the hype from this is going to remain active for a while should help her relax. She can get back to it after a bit and still be timely, especially when she has the first-hand recordings of the launch and the talk with Behemoth. Other Skintalkers need to remote view, she's got the eye on the ground. Plus whatever details our other Skintalker pals can hand her, I'm sure Cassandra has some great technical reports on the launch, for example. Orwell should be the first go-to for this report.
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>>5229606

“Hey, have time for a break?”

Orwell doesn’t seem to register the fact that you’ve come to stand right in front of her, the girl shifting her meagre weight between each foot in time to a rhythm only she can hear.

"Earth to Orwell, this is Shu speaking. Are you there?"


At the mention of your name, Orwell’s eyes shuffle through four different waves of static before snapping back to something more human, the teen wincing in the scarlet dusk.

“Ow, shit. Uh…yeah? Sorry, I think I’ve got everything squared away to where I don’t have to micromanage as much anymore.” She replies breathlessly. “What’s up? Are we moving out?”


"Look, I know you're having the time of your life when it comes to this streaming session…” You say, reaching out to place a reassuring hand on the younger girl’s shoulder. “…but I think now's a good time to end it on a high note, don't you think?"

Orwell flinches when your fingers graze her, a quick shrug and a step back bringing you just beyond arm’s reach as she quickly stretches her arms above her head. Even through the thin cloth of her tee-shirt, her skin felt exceedingly warm to the touch, but more than that the skin beneath felt…thin, somehow. Brittle. As though you could have push right through, if you’d wanted to.

“Hey, I’ll be fine.” She says, dismissing your implied concerns. “I’ve still got some editing to do, chopping up the memories into some bite-size snippets for easier sharing, so if you all need to go ahead I’ll-“


"There's a time to stream, and there's a time to not stream.” You interrupt sternly. “I'm very certain that this is one of the times for the latter. Come on, I'm sure your fans will understand you unplugging for R&R once in a while."


And then, your voice softening with a smile; "Besides, your latest stream's gonna be the talk of the Skinternet for days and weeks. You'll be set for quite a while when it comes to your hunger.”

“It’s…it’s not just about the Hunger. This—everything you just did—was HUGE. Beyond huge.” Orwell groans, wincing when she rotates her arms and something pops. “You’ve got all three of the Apocalypse Amalgams under your belt, plus you just made sure that the Disassociated’s launch went off without a hitch. The feedback is NUTS, and if I don’t get ahead of the trolls then we’re fucked.”

“…what do you mean, ‘trolls’?”

“World hasn’t changed all that much, Shu. People are still people, and negative press is still going to flood in no matter how noble you are or how much good you do.” She explains with a frustrated sigh. “Best I can do is get ahead of it and keep an eye on anyone who’s trying to slant your story.”

“And by ‘get ahead of it’, do you mean…” You trail off, hoping that she hasn’t already broken the deal you made only a short while ago.

(Continued)
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>>5229933

“No. No, I’m not censoring anyone.” The younger girl assures you as she runs a hand through her dirty blonde hair. “Counter-spin and raw facts are typically enough to counter any bad press, but I figured your ‘freedom of choice’ extended to speech, so…”

Orwell trails off, rubbing her shoulder absent-mindedly.

“You do a lot we don’t even see.” You say, voicing your realization aloud. “As far as this ‘bad press’ goes, I don’t see how anything I’ve done today could be misconstrued in a negative way.”

“Yeah, well…good. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and we’ll be fine.” Orwell replies with a weary smile. “Look, sorry if I brought you down. You’re right, I’ve been running on fumes, here. I need to rest up a bit before the next push.”

“Good. Plus, I'm sure Amara's keen on playing with you.” You point out, and Orwell laughs weakly. “Can't have you running yourself too ragged. You've done a great job, and you deserve a moment to yourself."

“Thanks. I’m going to get this thing back to the Panopticon, but I’ll let Superfan know what’s up before I leave.”

“Hey…want to sign off the current stream with a cameo from yours truly?” You offer, hoping to send the girl off with a smile.

“Heh, I guess a still image to cap it off wouldn’t hurt.” She grins, drawing close and extending her left arm. Her thumb and forefinger form an ‘L’ as static flickers between them.

“Alright, one, two, three!” Orwell counts down with a smile, and as you pull her in with a smile of your own, you have no warning before the girl’s shoulder crumbles underneath your touch.

“Orwell, what just happ-!” You panic, with Orwell darting back as flesh-colored shards rattle down her left arm, gone limp.

“Fuck. Shit. I gotta go.” She hisses angrily, meeting your eyes for a fleeting moment before glancing over the mesa to Amara. “Tell Superfan something came up, I-“

“Orwell…that’s a construct body, isn’t it?” You breathe, keeping your voice low.


“Come on, Shu. Of course this isn’t my real body. You think anyone who’s made it this far would still look like this-“ She groans, gesturing to all of herself with her working arm. “-without a Vitruvian Core?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to…hurt you?” You reply, gesturing to her fractured arm.

“No, you don’t have to apologize. Doesn’t even hurt.” She mutters, an irritated slap of her arm prompting a sound like broken porcelain, hairline cracks running down her left hand and revealing what appears to be a desiccated form under her youthful exterior. “This thing’s not built for everything I’ve put it through lately. It’s just meant to be the face of my brand, not suited for actual field work.”

“Look, can…” She mumbles softly. “…sorry, but can I just go, now?”

>>Let her go.

>>Ask her something you need to know (Write-In).

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next eight hours, with posting to resume tomorrow at 12PM, Eastern time. It will also likely be the only update tomorrow as I’ll be hopping on a plan after work to go visit family. That said, after tomorrow’s update posting will resume at the usual time on Tuesday. I wish you all a restful evening, and thank you all for your patience and participation, as always.)
>>
>>5229938
Aw, vindication doesn't feel as fun as I was hoping. Sounds like she has some issues attached to being a giant crystal entity that needs to communicate through avatars.

I feel like we should say something to address that, but I'm not sure how to say it that wouldn't come across as corny. I just want to reassure her that whatever her issues with her body are, if she feels disgusted or dysphoric or whatever, we'll support her. Just because we're all weirdly positive about turning into bizarre mutants doesn't mean everyone has to be. The point of our positivity is refusing to feel isolated by the mutations. If someone winds up with mutations that they can't feel positive showing, then the way to avoid isolating them is to acknowledge that that feeling is valid. We're not going to treat her like some weirdo for not liking having been turned into a giant crystal. I just don't know how to say that without it sounding patronizing.
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>>5229941
Thanks for running, BHOP. Have a nice evening, and I hope you enjoy your time with your family tomorrow.
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>>5229938
>>Let her go.
>>Write-In
>"Yeah, sure. Go, fix up your avatar, we can talk later. Just remember to take some time to rest, though. I meant it, Orwell, I care about you and don't want you to burn out. I know you're going to be feeling rushed, with this additional thing to work on, but still. Take care of yourself. And call me when you're feeling better, okay?"
>"Also...I don't know if you'd be interested in this or feel comfortable doing it, but if you ever want help making another 'face' avatar, I'd be happy to work with you. My Spirit Shells are pretty durable and I like to think they're pretty stylish."

I feel like that could work. Showing that we don't condemn her for wanting to communicate through construct avatars by offering to help her make one. Might need better phrasing, though.
>>
>>5229938
Shit. I didn't realize the PR war was that bad or rather...intense given our actions.
>>5230064
What if we offered Orwell some skinternet assistance? Have Cassandra or Amara help with skinternet matters on occasion? Because from what I can understand, Orwell's running a one-woman show on the information PR war.

As for the Spirit Shell...what if we commissioned that and gave it to her as a surprise gift?
>>
>>5229938
>"Sure...although about your avatar...Mind if I help you out in that department?"
>"You've done a lot for us. It's fair that I help you out in return."
>If Orwell consents to having a spirit shell constructed for her, send a commission order to the artists to help sculpt Orwell's spirit shell. Amara can deliver it to Orwell when it's ready.
>>
>>5230252
>What if we offered Orwell some skinternet assistance? Have Cassandra or Amara help with skinternet matters on occasion? Because from what I can understand, Orwell's running a one-woman show on the information PR war.
Well, we have had Amara help her at times. She's probably hesitant to have Amara wade too deep into the PR war, though. I doubt Orwell wants to expose her to people making conspiracy troll posts about her mom, so Amara is more helpful on the information gathering front. Still, yeah, we should get Orwell some help, definitely. Cassandra might be up to it, she was some sort of information management expert for the Dissociated, so she probably has the requisite skills. We'd need to compensate her for her time, of course. What can we give a giant robot face that she'd want? I'm kind of blanking. But we could always ask Cassandra.

>As for the Spirit Shell...what if we commissioned that and gave it to her as a surprise gift?
A surprise Spirit Shell gift would be nice, but I want to show Orwell some support here and now. Just that message of "it doesn't matter to me why you feel the need for an avatar, if it's something you do need I will support you. Your needs are valid." Let her know she's not alone. If we did the Spirit Shell as a surprise, I'd want to do something else now to show support.

Also, she'd probably need to make modifications in order to make the Spirit Shell compatible with her own abilities. So best she knows it's coming and won't have to suddenly start making the modifications on her own.
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>>5230266
Well her construct's currently falling apart, and it would be bad if it fell apart during the journey home, so why not construct the spirit shell here and now and have Orwell transfer control/data from the withering construct into the spirit shell? We could point out that her construct might not make it back in its current state.
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>>5230266
Also, I think it's fair to ask about why it's urgent Orwell needs to leave. Because there could be only two reasons why she would need to disconnect: Either she's under impending attack or personal matters have sprung up.

>>5229938
>>5230261
adding additional write-in lines.
>"Is it urgent? Is it combat related?"
>Ask Amara to help Orwell out by sending Joyous clones as protection escorts back to Orwell's base if the matter of urgency revolves around intruders and the like.
>"Be safe Orwell."


>"Sure...although about your avatar...Mind if I help you out in that department?"
>"I know you're in a rush, but with how your Visual Avatar is right now, it would be a terrible thing if it fell apart on the way home with the data it's gathered. And given that combat and durability isn't your strong suit, it would be fitting if you were given the right tool for the right job if you're gonna do some more remote controlled field work."
>"But if
>"Look, I'm sorry for springing this onto you Orwell. I respected your privacy and you respected mine."
>>
>>5230272
Good idea. Show concern for her safety. Though she might not need to maintain this specific link, and can just drop it to return control to her main body. Still, it's worth asking.

>>5230277
I think she's just embarrassed to be seen falling apart like this. For whatever reason she prefers to present herself through this avatar, and with it suddenly collapsing she's feeling mortified by it. She wouldn't want an escort, I think. Just wants to be not seen until she can get herself back together.
>>
>>5230281
>>5230064
Well if Orwell confirms that her worries aren't combat related but more in the sense that her true form is the Panopticon crystal and not the construct right in front of us, then how do we approach her in the sense that it's okay for her to show her true form to Amara? I mean, look at Cassandra. She's a floating SC2 adjutant or a Shodan face and she's not ashamed of her image. I get that Orwell likes and prefers to hide behind an avatar, but sooner or later the truth will be out.
>>
>>5229938
>>Write-In
>"I don't want to pry, but how are you getting back? If you can just despawn, and cut the connection to this body while you make a new one, go ahead. But if you have to physically return it to the Panopticon, I'd feel a lot better if you'd let me armor you up, first."
>"Also...I don't know if you'd be interested in this or feel comfortable doing it, but we could try to make you a more durable 'face' avatar. My Spirit Shells are pretty tough, and I think they look good. We could modify one to be under your control. No pressure, I'm not saying we have to do it now, but if you decide you want that I'd be happy to help."
>"And take care of yourself, okay? I know that with rebuilding your avatar you're going to feel under even more pressure, but please try to find some time to relax. And call me, please, once you're feeling better."


>>5230290
I'm not sure it's that big an issue. If Orwell doesn't want to interact with the outside world without having a baseline human appearance, that's her right. Ideally she wouldn't feel ashamed, but dysphoria is long-term issue and in the short term I'll settle for her just having something that makes her feel comfortable. We can adjust her to the idea that no one's judging her for being a giant crystal monster slowly. Accepting her need for an avatar body is a good place to start, it'll make it feel less like her situation is shameful.

Also, I wouldn't be surprised if Amara already knows that Orwell is using a construct body. She's a Skintalker, has spent time around both the avatar and the Panopticon, and has a construct-spawning ability of her own. And Amara was the one who pointed out that Mara should be more mutated than she was presenting herself as being, and would remember that example of Mara turning out to be a construct. Most likely Amara has put it together but just doesn't care. I'm giving it greater than 50% odds that if we told Amara that Orwell had to leave suddenly, she'd respond with "Oh no, did something happen to her construct?".
>>
>>5229938

>Matters on your personal avatar aside, is there anything we can do to help lighten the load on the PR war? send some assistance in moderating the information network?
>>
>>5229938

“Sure, although about your avatar...” You begin, Orwell wincing until you say; “…mind if I help you out in that department?"

“…Huh?” The teen inelegantly mutters, apparently caught off-guard by an offer you thought she’d have seen coming.


"You've done a lot for us. It's only fair that I help you out in return." You explain with an assuring smile, taking a tentative step closer to the other girl. "I know you're in a rush, but with how your Visual Avatar is right now, it would be a terrible thing if it fell apart on the way home with the data it's gathered. And given that combat and durability isn't your strong suit, it would be fitting if you were given the right tool for the right job if you're gonna do some more remote controlled field work."


Another step, as you add in the face of Orwell’s stunned silence; “Also...I don't know if you'd be interested in this or feel comfortable doing it, but we could try to make you a more durable 'face' avatar. My Spirit Shells are pretty tough, and I think they look good. We could modify one to be under your cont-…what is it? What’s so funny?”

The girl before you has promptly burst into a fit of giggles, her left arm rattling like a hollow thing as the laughter overtakes her.

“I…I hope I didn’t offend y-“

“No! No, the opposite. It’s just…you’re so chill. With like—everything.” She finally chokes out, wiping her cheeks with the back of her still-functioning hand. “I was so caught up in my own stuff that I think I’d forgotten that. But yeah, while I appreciate the offer you and the senpai have enough on your plate, so maybe later? This thing’s got some fight in it, yet.”


"Speaking of ‘fight’—is it urgent? Is you having to go so suddenly due to something combat related?" You ask, concerned.

“No, it’s…” She trails off, more of her left hand falling away as the gnarled fingers beneath the shell twitch, seemingly of their own accord. “…it’s nothing like that. Once I get back to my real body I can put in the work to make this thing a combat-focused build.”


"I don't want to pry, but how are you getting back? If you can just despawn and cut the connection to this body while you make a new one, go ahead. But if you have to physically return it to the Panopticon, I'd feel a lot better if you'd let me armor you up, first…or would you at least accept an escort by some of Amara’s Joyous?” You offer in lieu of a shell.


“Ha, how could I say no to a legion of Superfans?” Orwell chuckles, rubbing her fragmented arm. “Hey, I…thanks. For being cool with all this.”

(Continued)
>>
>>5230756

“I'm sorry for springing this onto you Orwell. I respected your privacy and you respected mine.” You say, earnestly. “You’ve done a lot for our family, and I want you to know that as much as I appreciate that, you’re family, too…so take care of yourself, okay? I know that with rebuilding your avatar you're going to feel under even more pressure, but please try to find some time to relax. And call me, please, once you're feeling better."

“…Yeah. Yeah, I will.” She nods, swallowing hard as she turns away from you.

"Be safe, Orwell."

She shoots you a glance over her shoulder with a toss of her dirty-blonde hair, and an emotion you can’t quite place flickers in Orwell’s eyes before she flashes you a smile.

“Back at you, Shu.”

Returning to Amara’s side, you place your request for a contingent of Joyous Many to escort Orwell back to her base, an order that your little one fulfills with gusto as she promptly summons over two-dozen clones to accompany her idol. You see that Tinker Tailor’s finally shown up, adding her own two cents into the ongoing discussion between Francine, Pendra, and Leviathan. Dorian looks to you with a questioning glint in his eye, and at your nod of approval he gives Julia a quick kiss on the back of her skinless hand before disappearing in a flash of scarlet lightning. Saying your goodbyes to Paloma, Em, and Magnus, you gather your remaining forces—Pyreants included, per your offer—and set off.

The journey back home is a blessedly swift one, made a trifling affair with the speed of the Apocalypse Amalgams ferrying you back to the Dragon’s Roost. You find Dorian with his hand placed against the base of the cliff face that looks out over the rusted town you know so well, each of his fingers well over three feet long and prying into cracks in the stone as he sets your home to rights.

“Disentangling the Water Temple?” You ask, prompting a smirk from the handsome Artisan as a passageway opens before you, the areas just beyond a flurry of movement that slows as he meets your eye.

“Yes Ma’am, just putting the final touches on-“ Dorian starts just before you both catch movement in the corners of your vision that gives you pause.

A figure stumbles out of the darkened corridor that’s swiveled to face you, her light ashen armor trailing wisps of black smoke as she falls to her knees. She looks up and through her dense black bangs, and you can’t even see the color of her eyes for the helmet of hair that seems to complete her shadowy garb.

“Please.” She groans, bowing before the two of you as your allies approach, understandably alarmed. “I just want to leave, my dudes.”

>>”One of the Hassans, I take it? As long as you’ve not taken anything of mine, you’re free to leave.”

>>”Not before you answer some questions—a small price to pay for breaking into my home, wouldn’t you agree?”

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next eight hours, with posting to resume on Tuesday, April 19th at 10AM, Eastern time. Also, a vote or two ago said to give Behemoth his Battlebuzz along with a few other specifics, and those are still cued up for when Shu and her allies finish their business at the Roost, just as an FYI. Thank you all for your patience, participation, and enthusiasm, and I wish you a restful day and a pleasant weekend.)
>>
>>5230758
>“Please.” She groans, bowing before the two of you as your allies approach, understandably alarmed. “I just want to leave, my dudes.”
Oh you poor thing. How badly traumatized are the Hassans as a whole?

>*sigh out of sympathy*
>"Well, go ahead, but take this experience as a lesson for breaking and entering."
>>
>>5230756
Aww, we're her senpai! I'm glad you're okay, little weeb kohai. Just, don't feel bad about using an avatar, there's nothing to be ashamed of, there.

>>5230758
Oh, wow, Dorian. That's actually a glowing review of your level design skills. I'm really proud of you, man. And a little frightened, to be completely honest.

>>Write-In
>"Were you the only one in there? Where's the rest of your team?"

Five bucks says that the entire team is just one Phantasmal Conduit, but we should still ask in case there are other people trapped in there or there were supposed to be people waiting for her and they've gone missing for some reason.

>>5230761
Thanks for running, BHOP. See you on Tuesday, and I hope you have a good weekend.
>>
>>5230758
>Spawn a glob of honey in a honeycomb cup to help calm her nerves and sit her down. getting some sugar into her system will help make her more pliable to conversation.

>"I take it you didn't have a fun time?"
>"I also have to say that in terms of your original job, the fragment you're looking for now belongs to somebody else. Someone far more powerful than myself."
>Check her answers thoroughly to see if there's any signs of geas contracts at play.
>"A few questions: Were you the only one in there? Or are there other daughters or sentient constructs still stuck in the house, physical or phantasmal?"
>"When you accepted the job, were you told exactly who you were planning to steal the fragment from? Or were you left in the dark?
>"Regardless of who you worked for or your past careers in this era, do you and yours have any contingencies or a way to sustain yourself?"

>"Do you have any questions for me?"

>>5230789
Any other questions that we can think of asking? As much as I'd want to grill girl for attempted burglary, it's clear that her experience in our "fun-house" is traumatic for her.
>>
>>5230844
I'd like to know if she has any idea who hired her. They worked through an intermediary, but there might be some indication to those in the know.
>>
>>5230857
I think we should also ask about the general opinion and view about Shu from the Hassan's POV. Her perspectives and opinions from her own circle might give us an interesting perspective about those with opposing opinions about us and our "faction".
>>
>>5230861
Could be good, yeah. We could fold that into the "how much did they tell you about who you were going to rob?" question. If she knew who we were and still thought it would be cool to rob us, that says something different than if she didn't.
>>
>>5230758
>>Write-In
>"Wow, Dorian, what did you put in here? I am both impressed and a little frightened. Good job."
>Turn to the Hassan
>"If you haven't taken anything, then I'm fine calling Dorian's level design punishment enough. But I'd like to ask a few questions before you go."
>"Firstly, were you the only one in there? Where's the rest of your team?"
>"Secondly, what did you actually know about this job? You got any idea who put out the listing? Did they tell you who we were, or just that we had something they wanted?"

>While the Hassan is answering questions, ask Gina over the Crimson Cord to do a quick X-Ray scan to make sure she didn't grab anything. There shouldn't have been anything worth stealing, but might as well check.
>>
A thought: You could replace Shu with Kirby and there would almost be no difference in divergence to the story's outcome.

Just imagine any dialogue where Shu's lines are replaced with nothing but "Poyo!~" to any past conversation and it would somehow still make sense.
>>
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>>5230758

"Wow, Dorian, what did you put in here?" You whisper as an aside to the young man, who just shoots you a look that's half guilt and half a dark sort of pride. "I am both impressed and a little frightened. Good job."

Taking a knee, you spawn a glob of honey in a honeycomb cup, extending it to the trembling Daughter. She hesitates, at least until she catches the sweet scent of what you've prepared and finally takes it with as much caution as her frayed nerves allow.

"I take it you didn't have a fun time?" You open, with the Hassan taking a tentative lick of the honey with her pitch black tongue, leaving a trail of ash in its wake. She quickly nods, eyes still hidden behind the bashful bangs that conceal most of her face.

"If you haven't taken anything, then I'm fine calling Dorian's level design punishment enough. But I'd like to ask a few questions before you go."

"Y-yeah. Completely fair. Totally cool." She nods again, shooting the young man at your side a nervous glance before downing what remains in her cup.

"Firstly, were you the only one in there? Where's the rest of your team?" You ask, a small swarmling slipping out of your hive and hovering over to the girl's cup to give her a generous refill of honey.

"Yeah, I…I'm the only one." She admits, voice tinged with shame. "The rest of my team is probably back at base by now. They scanned and saw what you'd done to the place. Said it couldn't be breached. I…thought differently."


Then, to Dorian; "Were…were the lion seals necessary?"

"They worked, did they not?" He replies with a small shrug, hands folded primly behind his back.

…making a mental note to ask Dorian what the *fuck* he did to your home at a later date, you instead focus on more pressing matters.

"Secondly, what did you actually know about this job? You got any idea who put out the listing? Did they tell you who we were, or just that we had something they wanted?"

"Not enough, or else I…n-no, sorry. The rest of the family said that initiates only had to follow orders." The would-burglar explains as you ask Gina to run a quick x-ray of the Roost, just to ensure nothings missing. "I'm new. Only been running with them for a week, I think? It's still hard to tell time."

"...How long have you been awake, Miss?" The young man to your right asks, suddenly.

"Two weeks…maybe? Almost that, I'm pretty sure." The girl mumbles, about as far from 'sure' as one can get. "Anyway, the big sisters only told me and the other initiates that this place used to belong to Mara, but that she'd left for the Cord and someone else had moved in. That's all I know, honest."

{Roost is clear} GG informs you privately just as you open your mouth to ask your next question. {Nothing's out of the ordinary, but Julia's boo is going to have to clear out the screaming teleporters and the hall of bile rats before we can settle in}

…what the goddamn, Dorian?

(Continued)
>>
>>5235622

"I have to say that in terms of your original job, the fragment you're looking for now belongs to somebody else." You inform the younger girl, hoping your grave tone paints a clear picture of just how dire the new owner is. "Someone far more powerful than myself."

"...like…like Shu, or somebody?" She asks conspiratorially, and for a fleeting moment you think she's just messing with you…at least, until you catch her eye for the first time. The girl pulls her bangs away from her face like a curtain, revealing a doe-eyed kid who couldn't be any older than Orwell, if that. A child, stuck in armor who's utterly out of her depth and woefully uninformed.

"...Or somebody." You nod, extending a hand. "What's your name?"

“Hai.”

“Hello.”

“N-no, that’s my name.” She clarifies with a sheepish chuckle. “Hai.”

"Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Hai.” You say with a smile. “Now, with your permission, I'd like to check to make sure you don't have a geas or anything active on you."

"That's a thing?!" She exclaims, clearly horrified at the prospect as you beckon Gina forward.

“It is, and my friend here can see if you’re under the effect of one…if you like.” Hai fervently nods, and you rise to your feet as a calcite jack slips from the skin of the Neuromancer’s wrist. "Regardless of who you worked for or your past careers in this era, do you and yours have any contingencies or a way to sustain yourself?"

"...the sisters gave me food. They made me stronger, but I think it's just because they wanted my power." She mutters, staring down at her fingers as they dissipate into clouds of ash before snapping back into shape—just in time for Gina’s needle to hit home. "I…what do I do, now? I don't have anywhere to go. The sisterhood won't take me back…not after all this.”

“Gina here will take care of you, so give me a minute to think over our options, okay?” You say, rising to rejoin your other companions.

“So—thoughts?” You ask with a sigh, planting your hands on your hips.

"She's nice! Like a puppy!" Amara chimes in before rounding on Francine with a brilliant idea. "We should adopt her!"

"We don't treat people like pets, Amara." The good doctor whispers to your young ward.

"But then how come I've heard GG call Mom her favorite p-?"

“I can t-take her back to Laoc. I’m s-sure the Barbers would welcome her with open arms.” Julia offers, tactfully stepping in. “If Gina says Hai is in the c-clear.”

As if on cue Gina thrusts her hand into the air, a flicker of information across the Crimson Cord informing you that your houseguest is, in fact, geas-free.

>>Have one of your allies take Hai to Laoc.

>>Her skillset may prove useful to Paloma—send Hai to the Ikean Fortress.

>>Ask Hai something else you’d like to know (Write-In).

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
>>
(Voting shall remain open for the next four hours, with posting to resume in five. I do hope you all had a pleasant weekend, and that your workweek is going well thus far.)

>>5235184
(The idea of all of Shu's passionate speeches being replaced by a short series of 'poyos' but the people she's talking to still responding like pic/gif related just sent me, well played.)
>>
>>5235184
We are shaped like a friend, this is true.

>>5235622
>Then, to Dorian; "Were…were the lion seals necessary?"

>{Roost is clear} GG informs you privately just as you open your mouth to ask your next question. {Nothing's out of the ordinary, but Julia's boo is going to have to clear out the screaming teleporters and the hall of bile rats before we can settle in}
>…what the goddamn, Dorian?
Lion seals, screaming teleporters, bile rats...where did you get these, Dorian? I know you're Dracula, but I didn't expect you to have a full Castlevania you could pull out. Where's the Inverted Dragon's Lair, do we have to be on the watch for that?

>>5235624
>"...like…like Shu, or somebody?" She asks conspiratorially, and for a fleeting moment you think she's just messing with you…at least, until you catch her eye for the first time. The girl pulls her bangs away from her face like a curtain, revealing a doe-eyed kid who couldn't be any older than Orwell, if that. A child, stuck in armor who's utterly out of her depth and woefully uninformed.
Either she is a masterful actor, or she is a horrible victim of exploitation. After Nerada chewed us out for being too trusting last time, let's make damn sure we know which.

>"We don't treat people like pets, Amara." The good doctor whispers to your young ward.
>"But then how come I've heard GG call Mom her favorite p-?"
Gina! She has super hearing! You can't say things like that within a mile of her.
>>
>>5235624
>>Ask Hai something else you’d like to know (Write-In).
>What skills does she have? We're not going to take advantage of her for them like the Hassan did, but we know more than one place that could take her in and depending on her skill set that would change which is optimal for her. Different places have different opportunities to make a living. Not just Daughter abilities, either, does she have any useful skills from the world before?
>Also, she seems to know our reputation, even if she doesn't recognize us. If she needs reassurance that we're not trying to exploit her, introduce ourselves to her and prove our identity via iconic visual characteristics like the FuzzBuzzes.
>>
>>5235624
>Send a reminder to GG through the Crimson Cord to soundproof and skintalker proof the bedroom the next time, while sending Julia a thank you through a commling for sparing us the embarrassment of having to explain the birds and the bees to our daughter.

>>5235653
There's also the Moral alignment and personality that goes along with Hai's core power. Hai's clearly a prime example of a shrinking violet with a core power that soothes her insecurities by letting her literally turn into a cloud of ash/dust.

Core abilities granted by the Crucible were designed to act as crutches to a daughter's core insecurity right? So her ability to scatter herself into a cloud of ash (of bone?) would be telling of her core insecurity...that is...her insecurity compensated by the ability to fade away into a cloud of ash and disappear.

Even if we were to send her to a place where the environment is as hospitable and accommodating, the place would have to then deal with Hai's personality stemmed problem of her shyness. So not only do we have to provide the right nature of environment that can accomodate for Hai's powers, but also the right people willing to provide the nurturing environment to help Hai deal with the personality flaw that her core is stemmed from.
>>
>>5235676
>>5235639
>>5235627

Does Francine have that Spectacle relic on her? We could have her perform a routine doctor's check-up via Strings of Creation to parse Hai's core abilities to see if she's a newbie or if she's loaded. But given that Gina's also done a thorough sweep and confirmed that there's no geas, the lack of geas would be telling.
>>
>>5235686
(Francine does have it, yes. Also, you'd have gotten the gist from Gina that Hai only has her Core, and is still pretty underleveled.)
>>
>>5235676
It's not necessarily an insecurity, but the Cores do reflect on things that were important to the Daughter, so it often is an insight into their personality, yeah. Even something like the Midnight Crew getting a set of matching Humoral Paladin powers speaks of their attachment to each other.

So yeah, she's got something to do with smoke and ash, and seems very timid here, so she probably is the sort to try to hide herself away. However, she also decided to try to brave Dorian's little Castlevania here on her own after the rest of her team decided it was impossible. So that suggests that despite her anxieties there's a stubborn or desperate streak to her. One that refuses to back down, whether because she's unwilling to admit defeat or because she's just too scared of the consequences to not do it. That's something to account for. Ash, with a core of steel.
>>
>>5235701
good points. so maybe we have something akin to a "courage the Cowardly Dog" situation or a cowardly lion.
>>
>>5235704
That, or this is all a ruse and she's only got a low level because she's been edited down with a Sparagmos Engine as part of a con. Which would still make her have some surprising courage, because deliberately weakening yourself so that you could pull a deception is pretty ballsy. I'm still not sure which it is. Let's talk to her some more, figure out if she's genuine. And if we're not sure, send multiple people to escort her to wherever we send her, so that there's less incentive to ambush them. I mean, Paloma and the Hyenas are still here right now, if we're going to send them to one of them we could just have them take her with them when they go home.
>>
>>5235627
I have seen the future of media in the post-Crucible world. It is hilarious as it is macabre.

Image Source: Suicide Girl (Manga)
laconic premise of said title: magical girls fight supernatural monsters in order to prevent people from committing suicide...the girls transform into magical girls by committing suicide themselves.
>>
>>5235727
(Oh, I'd totally forgotten about this manga! I read it when it first came out, but thank you for reminding me it exists! I'll have to catch up on it.)
>>
>>5235727
Yeah, that's macabre, alright. Neat.

It does make me wonder what more overtly horror-themed media will look like, though. How do you use monsters as a metaphor for society's anxieties when society's anxieties involve actual monsters? It's going to be really confusing for horror fans, there will be so much debate over what stories mean.
>>
>>5235742
The other part is that some of the fans' horror fantasies will be granted from the Crucible's arrival, but it would also leave a void because the visceral horror of seeing blood and guts would have become mundane. Not to mention the frontiers of the horror genre would be left relatively barren given. Cosmic horror would be weakened to a degree given that post-crucible, there would be a slow introduction of alien species that humanity would not have encountered and would grow into increasing frequency in terms of contact. Which leaves Existential horror left to a degree.
Also: Muppets singing existential horror.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZ3iOgPR5qE
>>
>>5235624
Supporting >>5235653 + tell her some basic information about both Laoc and Ikean Fortress. She can decide by herself where she wants to go, although we can make recommendations based on what she tells us about herself.

Also this:
>Send a reminder to GG through the Crimson Cord to soundproof and skintalker proof the bedroom the next time, while sending Julia a thank you through a commling for sparing us the embarrassment of having to explain the birds and the bees to our daughter.
>>
(Still writing, and I'll update shortly everyone.)
>>
>>5235786
>>5235742
>>5235697

You know. it feels very weird to be on the opposite side of the table in a sense back when Mara first visited us in the Rusted Town and had that interview with us. You know, back when Shu was still a new girl who boldly stole Mara's prey right in front of her nose and Mara was the old hand in the Crucible world who is clearly at end-game level.

And now, here we are, the tables have turned, we have this doe-eyed new girl who boldly stumbled into our house and we're the one at end-game level.

Oh how the turn-table revolves.
>>
>>5235881
Yeah, that is kind of neat. Though unlike Mara, we're not playing any games. Hai doesn't need to prove herself to us, just prove that she's not a threat. Her experience should involve many fewer giant monsters than ours did. Well, okay, the Apocalypse Trio are right outside the door, and I kind of want to see her response to that, but no hostile giant monsters.
>>
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>>5235624

Returning to where Gina and Dorian stand by Hai’s side, you’re pleased to see that the would-be burglar has regained enough of her vigor to rise to her feet as you address her. “Now that Gina’s given you the all-clear, I’d like to know what skills you have. I’m not interested in taking advantage like the Hassan did, but we know more than one place that could take you in…and depending on you skill set that would change which would be optimal.”

“Wh-…I don’t understand.” She stammers, glancing between you and your allies.

“Different places have different opportunities to make a living.” You explain. “And I’m not just asking about Daughter abilities, either—do you have any useful skills from the world before?”

“Um…all I have is my Core. The other sisters called it a ‘Flesh Artist’ skill, I think?” She admits, as Dorian softly whispers ’Artisan’ under his breath as Hai continues. “I was in middle school before…before everything. I got held back, and...I d-don’t know what I could do to help. I…I knit? I lived with my grandma, and she taught me how…but that’s not use-“

“That’s great, Hai.” Dorian interrupts with a warm, assuring smile. “Skills like that are in high demand in Laoc and the Ikean Fortress.”

“…but…I don’t understand. Why are you all doing this?” The young girl asks, shaking her head. “I broke in to your place, but you’re all so…chill with that? You say you don’t want to use my abilities, and you’re saying all this like you’re trying to find me a place to stay?”

“Because that’s exactly what we’re doing.” You affirm, placing a gentle hand on Hai’s shoulder. “…My name is Shu, and while my reputation may have preceded me, I assure you that my family and I only want to help.”

You have to spend a minute or two calming her down after that little revelation, but it’s not the sort of shock a pair of cuddly FuzzBuzzes can’t amend. Hai keeps the twin swarmlings cuddled under her chin, even as she finally finds the words she’s been looking for after a little while.

“…you’re…you’re serious?” She mumbles, still in disbelief.

“Very. There’s two places that would welcome you with open arms.” You begin, giving the young girl a quick run-down of ger options before you add; “No caveats to joining either settlement, save for you helping out where you can. The choice is yours, Hai.”

She’s quiet for a long moment, until…

“Laoc.” She declares, nodding as she meets your eyes. “Laoc…sounds nice.”

“It r-really is!” Julia declares, stepping forward with Andromeda and Ivey beside her. “My n-name is Julia, and my friends here know a lot about Laoc. We’d love to show you around, if you’re up for it.”

Hai nods again, taking Julia’s hand but turning to you once more before she’s led off to the Waystation.

“Thank you, Shu.” She says, flashing a shy smile.

(Continued)
>>
>>5235908

“Thank you for being honest with me.” You counter with a warm smile. “I’ll be checking in soon to see how you’ve settled in, if that’s okay by you?”

“That…I think that’d be nice, yeah.” Hai admits, still reeling from what’s transpired in the past few minutes.

Bidding her goodbye, the Commlings in your, Gina, and Julia’s ears crackle to life at your behest. “I appreciate you doing this, Julia.”

“Of c-course! Andromeda and Ivey offered t-to, so I’ll be back in t-time for the round-table.”

“…and thank you for the quick save back there with Amara, too.” You add, and Julia just giggles as you round on Gina. “And as for you-“

{Oh, you can be damn sure I’m doubling down on the sound-, skin-, and everything-proofing in our room} Your girlfriend sighs as you beckon everyone to follow you back to the Roost. {And, uh…I’ll try and watch the pet talk. At least around Amara}

[Much obliged] You reply grinning into her mind’s eye, and after allow Dorian a few moments more to put your home back in order, you finally emerge into your living room. The familiar space always sets you at ease, as Dorian immediately steps in to welcome your guests with a drink and a smile. Gina takes point on the central console, cracking open the Roost’s massive windows and manifesting a grant deck so that the Apocalypse Siblings can be involved in the impending conversation, as well.

At this point, though…you’re not quite sure where to go aside from the obvious. You could certainly attempt to tunnel down with Behemoth’s help and investigate Morningstar’s repository of old-world memories, or perhaps even pick your way through Magpie’s old haunt?

Regardless, the Cord still looms, and while you’ve inspired the faith of hundred that you’ll make short work of it, there’s still information to be gathered regarding the trails you’ll face in your ascent...and as much as you hate to admit it?

You know exactly who could give you an edge on the Cord's current layout.

>>Contact Ozmas, and see if she’s up for an interrogation after everything that’s transpired.

>>Sit down with Charon to see what their Cord experience was like. It's likely changed somewhat, but any information could prove invaluable.

>>Explore Magpie’s Nest, and see if there’s anything of value there.

>>Tunnel down with Behemoth, and find a way to sift through the memories of those that came before.

>>Write-In

YOU ARE IN CONTROL
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(Voting shall remain open for the next six hours, with posting to resume tomorrow at 12PM, Eastern time. Thank you all for your patience with my work schedule, and I wish you all a restful evening.)
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>>5235908
Middle school, huh? Younger than I thought. Poor kid. Then again, Amara and Nerada are seven and ten, respectively. I don't know what to make of those kids, they're incredibly comfortable with this world, even with them concealing a large part of their worries. It makes me wonder if the Crucible's mental rewiring has an exaggerated effect on developing brains.

Ah, well, there's no shame in not being as willing to fight monsters as our little warrior kids, Hai. They are aberrations. I hope you're happy in Laoc, it's a nice town.

>>5235912
Right, so, a lot of possibilities here. I'm leaning towards interviewing Charon, but we should set tasks for the rest of our team. We've got a lot of people here, and even if we don't have authority over most of them, we should still discuss each other's plans so we can cooperate and help where needed. I think we talked about getting people contributing to moving Laoc?
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>>5235931
Well if we're gonna do some assignments, Behemoth would most likely be accompanied by the Ants and Rath, but we'd also need to have someone who can interpret the message and memories as well as replay them to us.

Which reminds me, The Ants would want their fuzzbuzzes. Behemoth would want his BattleBuzz They'll help with keeping them calm when the funky memory hits.

As for Magpie's house...Amara and Nerada playdate exploration? Not sure who'll act as the chaperone tho...

What would Ziz and Levi do tho? We know that Levi for sure would want to spend his time with the Disassociated and Francine in doing R&D on finding a way to save Morningstar or at least keep him on enough life-support. Which leaves Ziz and the rest, like Snowbird, the Barbers, and the Midnight Crew.
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>>5235931
Another thing about the Ancient memories side-questis that things like that would require a very strong Neuromantic defense requirement to even brave the data-leaking depths.

So, what's with the Magpie side-quest then? more of Mara's Past? Magpie's past? I know we looked up to her. But it's been so long since that incident when she self-deleted herself via the geas. I guess it would fit as a sentimental side quest to put some closure with us and Magpie.
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>>5235962
Yeah, we should make a list of priorities and important questions. Okay, so starting with your points:

>Repaying the Ants for their assistance by giving the ones here a shipment of FuzzBuzzes to bring back.
>Checking on Behemoth's plans, where he wants to go now.
>Checking on Leviathan's plans, what they intend to do now that they've had some time to clam down and think about their course of action. They said they wanted to see what Francine and Tailor had done with the Hope Fragment, is that their current plan?
>Checking on Ziz's plans. Is she just going to go back to flying around?


and things I'm thinking of

>Securing the Dissociated a place to stay now that the rest of their faction is in space and their base is irradiated.
>What does Nerada plan on doing next? She said she was with us until we got done with Behemoth, where does she plan to go now?
>Do Paloma and Magnus need any assistance with the Fortress, or are they good?
>We need to keep heading west, advancing closer to the Cord and securing our passage through No Man's Land.
>Likewise, we need hunts. We've still got most of our abilities fairly far from the cap.
>It's of lower priority, but I'd like to visit our latest Dream Daughter acquisitions at some point. We also promised to get Karma hooked into our Dreamscape, we haven't done that yet and we don't want Best Gun getting lonely.
>And while they're here, interviewing Charon and Ringo about conditions inside the Cord, to get some advance warning on possible threats.

>>5235965
Yeah, closure, I guess. We'd get to know what she considered worth hiding from us. We have confirmation on Mara being duplicitous, but it could be reassuring to have exact details on her plots.
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>>5235912
>>Write-In
>Get a nice conference room set up. Let's make everyone comfortable for this discussion.

>First, let's talk everyone's plans. General discussion of what everyone wants to do, but with a few topics of note I want to be sure to cover:
>>Do the remaining Dissociated have a place to stay, now that the rocket has launched? If not, where can we get them set up?
>>What does Nerada want to do, now that the immediate crisis with Behemoth is over?
>>Leviathan said they wanted to see Francine and her team's work on the Hope Fragment, is that what they're going to be doing for the immediate future?
>>What about the other two Apocalypse Amalgams? Now that Behemoth doesn't have a target, what's his goal? If he doesn't have one, would he like to help someone else with theirs? Same with Ziz, is she going back to guarding the Peaks, or is she going to continue roaming with Snowbird?


>Spawn a bunch of FuzzBuzzes for the Pyre Ants to bring back to the colony with them, as a sign of thanks for their assistance.

>If any of our friends, most likely Behemoth or Ziz, need assistance with their plans, divide up party members to provide said assistance. Otherwise, split into a hunting party and an exploration party, so we can continue moving westward while gaining levels. Specific party composition can be decided before we go.

>Speak with Charon and Ringo about conditions inside the Cord. They might have changed since they were there, but any bit helps.
>Also, while they're here, it's a minor thing but do they know how someone would hook the Hexane Contender up to their dreamscape? We don't want Karma to get lonely.

How's this? I feel like it might be trying to do too many things, but we do have a lot of people and a lot of things to do.
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>>5236001
>How's this? I feel like it might be trying to do too many things, but we do have a lot of people and a lot of things to do.
seems fine at the moment.
I'll add anything onto this if there's anything that comes back up in our memory.
Man, the expansive bloat is very reminiscent and also very much fits Shu's theme/motif in the sense that she's the busy busy queen of a bee hive.
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