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The Meld II (12): Fresh places.

The Meld II (12): Fresh places.
So patient the Convergent KVC. Waiting until the Rogue Korvax Traveller Gryll began pushing for an investigation of the previously judged almost taboo remains of the Peak. Waiting until Tor also felt in good conscience he could not let it go any longer. Waiting until, for the sake of everyone, the need to know became dominant in all their thoughts. Else, did they just wait until that Traveller curiosity burned - as burn it must.
Now roughly a month later, Tor felt cut from the loop. The KVC quietly taking over, if mostly behind various fronts. Had they known Tor would ultimately suggest Geskhan work with them? Not that Geskhan need conform to any such scheme. How had he, a Traveller with so many inner doubts about large organisational trustworthiness, become such an advocate of the cursed KVC - once again? It always just better the particular digital devils he presently knew? Why did he work with them at all since they periodically vexed him so much? Although Elder Torrance started the connection, originally hiring them to do science, the KVC had vexed the Elder too. Later it getting swapped around until Tor unsure which body worked for whom, or at least manipulated whom. Tor sometimes feeling deployed by those friends even when things were seemingly his own idea.
Confounding, the rash actions he committed to in the moment. Some actions later torturing his better senses.
Lately, to his consternation, Tor let another Korvax stick him with a needle at some lonely facility. Tor damned if he understood assuredly why, beyond some treasonous betraying need to know, to experience all the options. How dangerous such sporadic reckless whims? How ruinous such vices after so many wiser attempts to keep safe and true to good anti-contagion protocols? Worse he did not know what the Korvax had done, did it inject something into his wrist or take another sample. Though it had hinted at more dire future implications. It made him feel an utter fool for interacting with them at all.
Out there it all bigger wheels spinning. Mighty cogs clunking through their fixed clockwork engagements. The usual grinding mechanisms going through the usual fixed precision movements. Could it be any other way? Deep underpinnings that regulated the broader system unsympathetic to unsympathetic elements, whilst he was just a lone anomaly who occasionally could not even control his impulses - or so it seemed. A speck of dust. Did chaos rule him? Whispers, at the back of his mind, lately mocking that he had fled away again. As he fled Reefee. As Elder Torrance had once fled Euclid trying to outdistance the Overmind of Monopods the madness of The Cull, when culling became too much to endure. Failing - always failing - or at best only winning smaller skirmishes never the bigger battles - never - the war. It hardly surprising though, his Mindwar an engagement of epochs.
Maybe he was wounded inside. The non avenged loss of the Vy’keen 8..., diminishing him in irretrievable ways. Today some matters simply beyond the grasp of his scope of operations. Worse, he was not even positive he was a reliable agency anymore. Why had he taken that needle? What self destructive compulsion occasionally moved him? Where his defences weakening? Where emissions slipping through the gaps? Was the foe toying with him as a plaything? He felt akin to a trapped damned soul in a fantasy novel. Must it always wax illogical ways? He yearned for a better sense of control, even over himself. What had happened to his wiser instincts? What happened to his mental armour? When did he start feeling so weak willed?
Had he any right - whilst so erratic - to meddle? Was it Overmind of Monopod nudges or simpler inner devils disturbing his better equilibrium?
At best I, no - We - were just keys turned, he mused, as the Atlas Interfaces once turned me to make more stars only for it to scream out its??: Frustration, pain, fear, anger and despair into a tattered void. A void whose skin suddenly full of holes: Devouring matter eating wormholes. Were they also breaches in those barriers? Did such events always follow certain choices? The making of stars breeding the proliferation of the consumers of mass? Again, he felt overmastered even doomed. He had forgotten the screams right up until he remembered them again, in the moment of their unleashing. Thus even in the looping - it taking him by surprise - it only echoing back in the instant of too late rediscovery. The inner echo a vexing cosmic balance of loss and recovery, recovery and loss. Could some good decision making almost necessitate later less mindful - whimsical - stupidities? Else had it all been bad choices?
With the needle it felt the speed of it: A lack of more considered thought and discussion. The event flung his mind into confusion. A weird sort of mounting pressure. He knew he did better when he had more time to ruminate - in rasher moments - sometimes he simply leapt. Yet why? Why? What impelled such poor choices? What caused those cursed impulses so counter to his normal thinking? Where did it spring from the outside or within? The mad thing being - he hated it - even as he did it. Almost instantly upon confirming the option feeling it erroneous and discordant, why not before? Was this the miasma of insanity? The divorcing of the wiser self from occasional disjointed impulsive actions.
More recently he had again forgotten the scream - until he dreamed about it - was that the Remembrance Stone at work? Else his vision the shadow sibling of recent log browsing. Taking Gryll’s advice he had forgone his esoteric Dreamer and Blood Cult document studies, drawn instead into reviewing many old anomalous logs instead, slipping back to the Elder T. Trying to figure out if his current recollections had changed, if his demise somehow remade him into a different amalgamation. If he was a new Iteration or at best a sub-iteration? What, if anything, lost in the process this time? The more he read the more he felt certain he diverged more than he had previously realised and earlier than he had thought, though it a general movement not specific things.
He was certainly no perfect clone of Elder Torrance. Though maybe all his personal memories remained intact enough, only needing jogged as memory so often does. It seemed he remembered much or with hindsight did he just remember reading the cursed logs? His questionable recall, especially in this later age, - always a mocker - sometimes even mocking his attempts to plug the gaps with recorded data. What good to read logs to fill gaps if you then misremember the essence of that data?
A foggy marsh of the mind. Biological memory akin to a shifting impression of scent not fixed information. Worse that scent can simply waft naturally into the background. Also, as ever, too easy to be obsessive about such matters, snared in operational cognitive loops. Besides, how could he ever really know what was real in here, it all relative?
Did some memories even leak across the barriers now, memories of other Torrances to add to even greater confusion. Far distant echoes from other existences whispering too. Hell! Sometimes from the logs alone he later seemed to recall being other Iterations, had dreams of other Iterations. Was that a sort of self wrought insanity: A losing of his own mind to the memory of others - all those echoes - so very many other voices spread throughout the infinity of the dimensions.
In shadows of recollection the Atlas screaming changed the entire vibe of that at first glorious birthing moment. The remembrance of that one sending cold shivers down what might be only the memory of his spine. Yet in review it all felt paradoxically real enough. Such events certainly feeling as real as unreal. Yet his existence balanced on a knife edge between solid belief and the nullifying nebulous oblivion of disbelief. Some in the Anomalous Channels believed - I think therefore I am - how gloriously simplistic that clean mantra. Elder Torrance believed he existed before his input into the Great Machine an entire back story supporting it but was that real or another implanted dream? Tor had forgotten about that tale, or only recalled fragments, until he reread those files and already he could feel the story fading. The Remembrance Orb did not seem good for that leaky data if it worked thus at all.
Here you could think and feel yet still wonder if you were just a fractured echo avatar of some far truer person from a higher reality, or even be naught more than a disembodied anomalous meld of discordant whispers of some errant vortex in data streams a digital dream.
The blank visor mocks the unknown self. The shifts of the appearance modifier reminding that what you see far from necessarily whom you are. Your identity no solid reliable rock. The Monopods of the Overmind alter too but only when you are not looking at them. It was all the same slippery identity gyre. Just as reality itself, on the grandest scale imaginable, could Cascade into entirely new forms under the ministrations of hidden Cosmic Engineers. Perhaps being perfectly rational in such fluid existence counterproductive setting you against all the inevitable changes.
Improbably beyond the distorting hall of mirror angst that sometimes threatened to overwhelm him with warped reflections, rested endless wonders of new experiences all waiting to entrance and beguile. Visions distracting in better, kinder - more loving - ways from his more grim personal identity disorder obsessions. To just exist as a floating mote in the breeze taking full joy in that drifting awareness of a grand creation. Surely such boons better for the mental health than to clutch at what cannot be held in any hand.
Arguably some Travellers - thinking too much - whilst no holding to a singular reality. If you cannot hold on is it not better to freely let go? Just drift in the moment. Inner Darks no less perilous than their Outer cousins - maybe worse - as those Inner Darks seed from deep inside as if transgressing spores. Better to move along. Watch the threatening things diminish into ever smaller matters on more distant horizons. See the cares vanish in time and space. Accept you are small, can only do so much, know so much - deal with so much - and that, that much no matter how insignificant judged enough. Yet the Core they said meant a Reset.
Spawn the logs. True, sometimes they help but at other times they only hinder. I am my own Torrance.
Tor moved out of his hardened Communication Centre through a blue light field door, shifting from inner shade to outer shadow, to be precise to the sunken world of the Shadow Copse Caves.
His latest Outpost rested deep underground - a true hideout - nesting in substantial underground stone vaulted voids. Yet it no vile entombing hole of despair, - mostly - the opposite: A site of natural perceptual wonders. The Shadow Copse normally a place of kinder meditations. Was it then Efor’s visit?
Tor had come upon the location looking a suitable Uplift Exodus World. As ever though events had gotten a bit messy. It did not help that the Pentacle Plus One felt it unwise to tell: ‘The truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth’ about certain events in the Grand Warren. “Grrrrr,” he growled as if a troubled Fox.
Actually, as he reminded Nahrl before his last departure from Hellespae: They had not really killed the Dark Dreamer at all. The final deed had been done by little machines thanks to Geskhan. They had simply weakened the remaining Primary Mass. Wounding it at first almost by accident via The Burn, then by planned design during their, in review, - rather rash - assault. It was the revealing of the inner rogue machine nature of the Primary Mass to the rest of the Great Machine nanites that ultimately took the remains of that beast apart. Yet best they not be associated in anyway with a Demigod Slaying - even at a remove - including with the label being somewhat inaccurate. Sadly, people draw their own later conclusions, make their own abiding links with the least bit of informational provocation.
History, in review, too easily warped and now that the so-called Dark Dreamer of Hellespae was gone..., one day some Uplifts might even think of that grossly malformed experiment kindly, or at least as some sort of necessary evil within their ongoing vector to modernity. Folk oft finding odd ways to rationalise their former roles in atrocity. Else, just the former roles of some atrocious ancestors. The Tusks in particular had a lot of dirt to shovel under: ‘It was of course the times,’ they might say or, ‘morality different back then, overall the Dreamer made us whom we are, just as our Father…,’ actually such lists of excuses wax endless. Some finding a thrill in the worst offences of historic wrongdoers. Some embracing villains as antiheroes or even twisting them around into full blown heroic figures and that with zero corrupting emissions or biological body snatching nanite infused spore invasions required.
Tor did not doubt the Dreamer Cult reduced via the removal of the faux Dark Dreamer. Yet he also felt certain some form of that Cult would rise again under new guises among the Uplifts via revised beliefs spinning out to new advantage. Cults akin to stubborn weeds or Grandmaster Gek. Always, some folk willing to spin history and belief to their particular usage when they see an opening. Entire denominations of creeds built on dodgy reworked foundations. The simple mundane lure of opportunities to garner power and influence motivation enough to reseed some ills, and perhaps in some cases - self-delusion - that inner need to fill voids.
When it came to some faiths - fact hardly ever allowed to get in the way of fiction - although ironically specific events too easily became the nexus of the seeming inviolate enshrining of dogma.
A Demigod Slaying just the sort of grim nexus point that could be especially problematic, thus a label Tor felt best well avoided for all concerned. Better most of the Uplifts continue to believe the Dreamer died far more cleanly via the distanced Sentinel bombardment. The Sentinels, as a mass, having far broader shoulders to carry the weight untouched and uncaring. The Wrath easily treated as if a force of nature - a wild passing storm - people simply had to accept. Certainly shooting some Drones in later revenge for example wouldn’t get folk anywhere except into a local combat escalation. Yet if the Demigod Slaying became an act by a small group of people including the digital soul of Geskhan well…
Even Geskhan’s role as an information provider to The Wrath - best - kept well off record. That fact might twist the Uplifts in other ways. Some might think his actions a reason to worship their Father once again, as a Saviour from the Horde, others to actively despise him as a mass murderer by proxy. Neither outcome overly positive at this juncture. Tor hated secrets and deceits but in the Cult Busting Business, (at least with some Cults), the truth did not always serve to set folk free - even if it should.
Tor still struggling to let that matter fully go when ironically standing before the plinth and statue he had installed as a local marker to the existence of the Triumvirate as a unit. Elder Torrance would not be impressed with such attachments. Elder Torrance better at travelling light and letting go, or so it appeared from some logs. The fixture initially a mere decorative whim, yet how would it be read by history if stumbled upon in later ages. That is assuming his makings lasted that long and anyone else ever found this place beyond the closest associates of the Traveller. Tor not being one encouraging non-directly involved visits.
The place glowed beautifully in the gloom though, lit by lamps as if candles on a very large cake in a darkened birthday room. Where did that image emit from? Another Anomalous place? Tor sighed, sometimes he felt he barely knew - his own mind - never-mind the minds of others. He turned his helmet upward to the high rocky roof of the ceiling as if seeking heavenly intervention then gazed down again taking in the rough wall and darkness truncated horizons. The spaced lights in the soothing dimness were comforting even the red walls homely.
He had created his own personal Warren Treasure Spaces with the help of some Vy’keen Interns who had volunteered to assist. Blizathan an Extreme Cold World. The blizzards above even making their way inside some of the largest cavernous hollows, yet that did not bother him or the Vy‘keen. The Vy’keen enjoying every challenge. Tor judging the encroaching storms encouraging the creation of the warm coloured wooden shelters that he favoured here giving the buildings a deeper purpose.
The little almost faux Fox settlement seemed to embrace and defy all surrounding it. The mixed vision suiting his mood - at that time - and now - well enough. Tor a Traveller who often felt both lost and found, sometimes in the same conflicting moment. Who frequently found his deepest sense of community - at a remove - via distanced Anomalous Communication Channels. His existence, in recent log review, founded on clashing paradoxical things others might easily reasonably mock.
It all a delicate balance of confusing oppositions: Fighting a Mindwar in his head against the faction loving Overmind of Monopods, - to unite - whilst decrying lesser factional conglomerations of Traveller Kind. Though some probably misread his revealing of the splits in Traveller society - as divisional - rather than an opportunity to look again at a broader more inclusive - less border defining - direction of community. It too ironic anyway that a virtual hermit lectured on the evils of disuniting competitive faction labels versus embracing all Traveller Kind as a singular unit.
Meanwhile, Torrance continued to feel uncomfortable in other Travellers’ close - physical - company, still haunted by the old ways of earlier Iterations when barriers rested firmly between all. Echoes haunting him of that period when each Traveller seemingly existing in a quieter perfection of their own sheltered reality with but shadowy communications stretching between. Tor liked - his space - his own company, even if he enjoyed some periods of companionship with a few exceptional people. Well all people exceptional, but some folk especially exceptional to him. Tor now finding it easier to work within a cultural remove.
To him mass congregating of Travellers forever a sign of End Times progression. His unities of purpose more unities of thought than unities of anomalous presences, although as stated he made a few rare exceptions such as keeping company with Gryll. Tellingly though Gryll did not believe himself a Traveller and somehow that made it easier for Tor to associate with that one up close, even though at times that made it problematic in other ways. Did Gryll’s disbelief alter the very fabric of reality around him making him Rogue Korvax enough to feel stable in proximity? To Tor it almost felt that way.
Did he put in the triangular plinth that honoured Gryll and Efor as much as himself to better recall? At first he just sited an Anomalous Traveller statue to fill an empty space but passing it made him feel uncomfortably vain. Then he put the triangle plinth to the Triumvirate in with nothing resting upon it at all but that had soon seemed strangely empty. So the statue erected on top, vain again yet no other seemed to fit and overall it looked more balanced. Besides, this was another of his homes.
Never say never.
The caves had called to him, it was perhaps some life within them that defied extinction, most notably a few quiet majestic trees that made the Shadow Copse Caves sing out as if a fortress of mythic Hollow Hills solitude. Something about that combination made his heart soar it feeling emotional.
So he put down a Base Computer, began instructing nanotech construction processes. Building then scrapping, refining his rough ideas, building again. He did not plan it as such, he grew it up out of some dreamy inner vision organically. Organic his preferred means when working creatively - to feel as much as think - his way through some processes: Create, adjust, cast down, create again. Hah, perhaps it was something springing from his embodiment as a later Torrance Iteration also being in many ways an entity created, scrapped and rebuilt.
He found this place almost seeking solace: A new - workable perspective - for this age, after his death and rebirth under the Mountain. Odd to flee from one under-dark to another. Maybe it his way to defy the memory of the faux Goop tainted Grand Warren when still covered in horrid smelling scorched vines with its grimly felt, (not always fully appreciated at the time), subtle emissions.
Could PGS-5C have solved it more easily? That solution seemed too simplistic to work in review. What would the 5C have turned such as extreme mass into? It probably could not work against such a rare and altered form of bio-drone substance. Tor certain Geskhan had done problematic things to the bit of material he separated from the Overmind of Monopods, otherwise it would still have been firmly linked to the broader collective mentality. Somehow, the Dark Archivist and Scientist had uncoupled it but kept it almost as potent as before, whilst the rare 5C benevolent Goop Strain did something very different and to Torrance much kinder. The more natural evolved symbiotic conversion process making specific Overmind Monopod bio-drone mass close enough to what the singular entity pretended its parts of the whole to be: Simple bouncing individual fauna minus the extraordinary rogue nanite based powers of the collective mentality.
What was the KVC doing with Geskhan Tor wondered. Moreover, how many First Spawn Survivors over the years had that odd Convergent Organisation recruited? He was no longer certain that Reefee the first, First Spawn intake. In fact, the more he considered it the more he judged the KVC been there and done such actions often before. The KVC existed long before any Torrance Iteration had contact with them. Maybe they also worked secretly with many other Travellers.
Surely it would be better for the Uplifts to migrate away now not just from their once domineering Maker but also to escape the oversight of the KVC - if that at all possible - Tor feeling guilty about his role in that imposition. Though bringing in the Korvax had seemed necessary cushioning aid at the time and maybe still was. Sadly, how could any of them convince the Fox Elders and so on of the dangers without revealing things they had all sworn to keep deeply secret. The Elders did not even know for certain that an aspect of their Father yet lived, though they might suspect plenty from mending infrastructure alone. Mostly folk simply knew that the Korvax had quarantined the Grand Warren site. The area ironically claimed an unstable and dangerous rogue nanite contaminated Goopspill region. A highly controversial annexation that was breeding a little resentment among some Foxes and Tusks, although most thought little enough about it. Many busy with more everyday matters and long used to avoiding that once grimly ruled place.
Time to go back. It had been a while he had reports on his planet findings to make to Nahrl, Jhasq and Bwathan. His little retreat over. Even more than Efor, Tor certain, Nahrl would enjoy this place, but maybe not the harsh snowy surface. Plus the planet had a few too many predatory carnivores to be an ideal new home for the Uplifts in his opinion. Although Efor delighting in hunting the predators, Efor at best a rather unusual Gek then again what is usual beyond certain stereotypes that most individuals veered far beyond once you got to know them better. Species traits only ever going so far. Meanwhile, Tor felt those among the Uplifts seeking a new home deserved a kinder world than this one, although it was of course hardly his decision to make.
Tor did not mind the storms and the hostile creatures. A part of him enjoyed a little opposition on occasion to keep his skills sharp - his mind alert - well it needed the exercise being full of enough holes already. Also this place had an abundance of Storm Crystals which he found fun to gather, plus a vital product in potentially producing advanced warp cells. If he ever decided to go to the Core…, though it becoming increasingly difficult to imagine making that journey unless the fringes began to collapse first. Yet sometimes that glowing heart still - lured - akin to one of those bad in the moment whimsical decisions that seemed to occur almost beyond conscious better minded control akin to the needle.
Shots in the distance. Efor hunting the hunters no doubt. From the estimated direction probably a few of the local Cave Crabs. The critters Plucky little scamps that scurried out from unseen crevices some on quiet spidery legs. Tor mostly ignored them simply jetting away but Efor no doubt enjoying turning a few into crab paste to spread on his carbon biscuits or for more exotic cooking projects later. The Gek become an enthusiastic Amateur Chef, a downtime hobby when not bounty hunting or travelling with the Triumvirate, the Pentacle or the Pentacle plus One. Funny how Bwathan remained only a plus one. Well making another group label had seemed a bit much, and Bwathan oft went his own way, mostly as part of the Hellespae Surface Militia.
Tor wondered if that Tusk communed much with his spiritual Father, since Geskhan had made that link. Was that something to be concerned about? Was it any of his business? Surely in the end the Uplifts would have to make their own accommodations with their Maker. Yet Bwathan knew more than most and had the added burden of isolating secrecy. Tor wondering how much of that burden his responsibility: The necessary policy of secrets. Briefing the KVC in full but not Tusk and Fox society annoyed him.
Was his faiths and fears part of the solution or part of a broader problem? Was he wrong to so distrust the ability of those cultures to handle the facts? Did people need protected from some data? It akin to the Overmind: Those that knew the truth of the emissions oft forever haunted by that knowledge. The informed worrying that all their: Thoughts, feelings, memories and dreams might not be their own but instead cunning implantation designed to nudge and manipulate. Oddly such things also happen more openly every day in data streams within mundane society communication channels, everything from simple gossip upward to Governmental and Corporate informational broadcasts. It was all a sea of emissions out there, and then the nanites in the brain tissue issues.
Thinking about little machines infesting his brain made him shudder and yet they provided many benefits too the neural nets granting his mental HUD and so on. Life here melded to technology so tightly Tor uncertain it could even exist now independently. Biology and little machines had become one and the same.
It made him think again about his old Torrance prejudice against the purely digital folk. He had always felt them somehow mere shadows of real life - ghostly echoes - rather than as real as substance derived beings. Yet it was all a sliding intermingled scale. For a start, deep down who here did not have a digital soul underneath?
Tor wandered through what he thought of as the Inner Gate. The way judged facing deeper into the cave system although it actually ultimately faced some other exits too. The Shadow Copse an extensive cave system that often bent back on itself in mildly confounding ways. Routes also existing on more than one level, it could seem a mirror manifestation of his own mind at times being a maze of sorts.
Rather than wait Tor marched down one broad if winding subsurface causeway towards his wandering friend. Efor possibly a little lost, although he could just follow the base marker on his own mental HUD. Tor had gotten a little lost many times at first, but he had a notoriously poor sense of direction. Yet he found his way back due to the HUD marker, if sometimes looping around in part via unexpected side passages.
Efor had been visiting for a couple of days. It felt strange having someone here other than the Interns who also just came and went at will. The Interns liking the storms spent a lot of time on the surface hunting dangerous predators and those Storm Crystals, Efor doing a little of that too. It only this morning whilst Tor had been browsing the Anomalous Channels and updating some logs that Efor had said he would do a little lone cave delving.
Lone explorations can be deeply meditative, a fine way to unpack troublesome issues. Although travelling in company had its perks as well: Simple companionship, (people can make you smile just by their proximity), the satisfaction of sharing finds and experiences could be thrilling too. Though Tor managed to find that thrill at a safer remove sharing captured images and stories over the Anomalous Communication Channels.
Efor interestingly quick to laser toxic plants springing up in some deeps here, having an odd look on his face whilst doing the same. Where those things closely related to Goop growth some certainly seemed that way. Somehow Tor never drawn to study the underground sprouting globules of plant matter - that he could recall - merely avoiding or clearing them away. They oft provided quite useful resources when mined maybe that why he didn’t examine them too closely, lest such boons begin to feel tainted and sinister. In truth, laser mining usually sterilised all, granting clean resources even from dodgy sources but psychologically…
Efor might just be clearing toxic plants but then he would probably laser them not use a Pulse Splitter. It soon quiet apart from some sighing wind. Tor moved on. He could link in to his friend over communications if needed, but preferred to embrace some surprises, some random, in some low risk encounters. Thus he didn’t even call ahead via suit speakers. He just moved on listening for other footfalls.
Efor when found however not walking, he was sitting habitually with his back to one cave wall nibbling on some carbon biscuits as a late breakfast. Tor unsure if toppings involved or not in the gloom. The Gek seeing him waved with his freer hand.
“Find anything else interesting?”
‘Secured a few Vortex Cubes, couldn’t resist the impulse. Not a problem I hope.’
“Not at all. I have a study site a level above. They seem to come back in time. Strange things, oft utilised yet not fully understood, not be me anyway.”
‘What is fully understood in this life?’ Efor replied. ‘This is a strange place to flee towards.’
“For you or me?”
‘For both of us. I don’t trust him.’
“Don’t trust who?”
‘Geskhan. Who else? All those machines still mending away. I think Gryll is worried as well.’
“We all worry too much.”
‘I can’t ignore it Tor. Not whilst Nahrl, Jhasq and the rest are still living there. I thought I could go back to just being Efor the free living FlyGek, but not so easy to go back to that old life after Hellespae. Nothing feels the same anymore. They feel akin to spawn kin in peril. Not even leaving the Squad felt this way, not following the whole Reefee affair. Whilst I hardly felt bonded to Reefee.’
“I feel the pull of Hellespae too. It has a certain gravity beyond the norm, without doubt a big part of that our friends. The Uplifts special. Sometimes akin to newborn children: Infants thrust too soon into a crueller Universe. Ironic considering how cruel their own world was and in some ways still is.”
‘An Exodus would be better for them Tor. I fear their history may yet bury them under if they stay put. I don’t believe Geskhan safe company. Then there are your ever scheming KVC allies, plus the far too angry and alert Hellespae Sentinels. Did you know Gravitino Orbs now being found in profusion in the wilds? I am positive that is new. Is that Sentinel doings? Something Geskhan did? Else, I don’t know, Euclid imposing a belated ever deeper normality over the returned planet?’
“I don’t know either. I noticed that happening as well before I left last time. Truly, it is taking on the aspect of an Extreme Sentinel Protectorate, yet who really understands what that means or why it happens? The Sentinels do not talk to us, they explain nothing beyond their own kind. That is even saying they talk to one another - in normal ways - as we think of it. There are old stories out there about a Sentinel vivisection, the hints being it did not end well. Now it seems unwise to poke too deeply directly into those machines.”
‘As a Traveller don’t you ever feel drowning in all these unknowns? I used to ignore a lot of mysterious things - laugh them away - as not my business, now it is not as easy.’
“With deep but rough water you learn to swim, or you stay to the shore, or you drown.”
‘I think the Triumvirate left the shores behind some time ago. Usually us Gek fine swimmers but I feel as if I am getting tossed around a bit recently.’ The Gek sniffed, ‘Can still smell those cursed vines.’
Tor considered his friend, including his cybernetic optics. The result in part of damage, injuries Tor felt more than a little responsible about.
“My fault. I dragged you people into this craziness. I dragged myself in too - in more ways than one. My obsession with deemed earlier or just other Iterations of myself. My following as if a genetic acolyte of the old quests of Elder Torrance. My Blood Cult Gek and Overmind of Monopods feud. It is unfair and unrighteous to involve others in those weird messes.”
‘Tor I was already involved stupidly working for a First Spawn Clone when we met, a self professed one too. I can’t believe I went there after my earlier experience with the Cult. Seems I couldn’t stay away. Some part of me must have known Tor, that Reefee was more than the average Gek con-artist just playing a role for notoriety and units. I think some part of me went there looking an opportunity for revenge or just closure. Perhaps because after I fled the Cult I never stopped running.’
“Sometimes a strategic withdrawal is the very best option.”
‘Been there and done that Tor. Done with that sort of flight. Done with pretending I can forget. Is no forgetting - my brain won’t let it go - like that cursed vine smell.’
“Some battles can only be survived. Seeking closure against the Blood Cults a poor bet akin to seeking closure against the Overmind of Monopods. Does it look like I am winning that fight? Barely holding my sanity together, yet I find I can’t leave it be. Resisting some forces embedded in as part of my identity. So I do what I do, even though it is always not enough and sometimes I worry does as much harm as any good. Yet I too am like an addict, I - can‘t - stop.”
‘That is it Tor an addiction. It won’t let you go, so you can’t let it go. In this we are the same. Perhaps it that old Dark Taint eh? I have done things, seen things, really bad things Tor, if you knew them maybe you couldn’t like or want to know me.’
“Everyone I imagine does things at times they later regret. Hard to live life without errors sometimes even gross mistakes. Not easy to constantly stay true to better ideals. I don’t have any easy answers to that difficulty. Truly I am in no position to call you out for old transgressions - you got out of it - that is enough to me. Really, I am in no position to call anyone out. Yet we all judge. Life messy.”
‘We need to help. Perhaps we can’t save ourselves, we are in so deep, but many of them seem innocents to me. Even some of the Tusks in an odd way now. Now that I have known the Dark Dreamer better, it is harder to judge them as fully sinful for their crimes. As Gryll said, some of the worst of them might actually have been physically contaminated not just mentally nudged - some of them ill - not evil. Now they have a chance to move on, but perhaps only if they get to make a leap of separation. Hellespae has too much history and will even the KVC be able to hide the rebirth of the Shadow Library for long?’
“I don’t know. I feel the Convergent always play longer games of the ages.”
‘I don’t doubt it. Those Uplifts need to escape the fate of becoming pawns in wider power plays or casual accidental victims of the same. Consider the broad damage wrought by The Wrath.’
“Would that we could all avoid some entanglements Efor. I often feel mired in things I barely comprehend. Not just the End Times plots of my foe, but even the oft covert ambitions of the Convergence. Whilst who knows what strange digital dreams haunt the consciousness - such as it is - of the Sentinels. Then there is Nada and Polo with their time and space defying Anomaly. I work for them whilst far too unsure of their intent. Spawn it, I am not even sure of the intentions of my Living Ships or the persona that inhabits my ExoSuit. That one often seems passive enough these days but who really knows. Even the Gek Overseer back at my First Base - whom I deliberately avoid - sorely vexes me.”
“My existence arguably one big conundrum of questionable interactions. No wonder I prefer the wilds at times. If it is the same with most other Travellers no wonder some just keep on going never looking back. Stopping to think and look back brings a whole mountain of issues crashing down on your head. Certain Elder Torrance never freer of mind than when he just moved along. Yet somehow I slowed and the Core Reset bedevils me.”
Efor looked uncomfortable at the mention of the Reset. The whole thing began to make him feel a little dizzy and unwell.
“Yet we go back and meddle some more regardless.”
‘To help the best we can. I can’t abandon them. Can you?’
“No I can’t. Gryll was still there when you left.”
‘He was. I felt watching. He travels a good bit but stays fairly aloof to local events.’
“Gathering data. Makes sense I suppose. Bwathan?”
‘Hunting recidivist Renegades and Cultists - mostly. He seems even more dedicated to that now. I think because he knows those still clinging to the old ways now do so out of wicked choice alone.’
“Habits can be hard to break. Especially when tied deeply into a somewhat rabid subculture. Some of them may be struggling to survive lest former followers or leaders turn on them and vice versa. As much as it would be easier to just brand them all recidivist felons, life a little more complex.”
‘Hostiles are hostiles though.’
“There is that fact. When folk make a living via raids and murder it simplifies reactions a little.”
‘I think we need to explore deeper. Little of modern Hellespae travelled by us. The Atlas alone knows what is going on, on other continents. All our attention been around Geskhan’s Peak and the surrounding hinterlands. I worry some of the most intransigent Cultists may have migrated from our areas of study.’
“Some did vanish off the radar you want to explore other continents on Hellespae for what fresh insights?”
‘It might help. We don’t know what is out there maybe things that could change the dynamics in a good way. Besides, Tor, think of the slight of hand. That big old Mountain Citadel once rather obvious and dramatic and you know First Spawn they are full of layers of deception.’
“Something itching at your instincts as a former Cultist in relation to Geskhan.”
‘Possibly. Something with everything so far, just smells a little off to me.’
“With rogue scents a Gek ought to know. An expedition into uncharted parts of Hellespae - intriguing.”
submitted by Brain_evacuated to NmsMindwarArchive [link] [comments]

More episode premise ideas and innovations (a fair warning: really, really long post)!

This isn't a very original type of post, I know, but since I'm here, might as well chip in a few ideas I have. I'm horrible at coming up with episode names, so I'm just going to paraphrase the plot the best I can as the working title. I'm also really horrible at one-sentence summaries and do apologize for that.
I have to specify ideas and innovations because I realize now that some of these plot points contain elements that are partially based on fanfics I read. One of the great things about The Loud House in terms of ideas is that it's very hard to run out of them. Unless the showrunners manage to do a horrible job with every single one, there's a fairly comfortable room for error in that you can easily discard an old plotline that isn't working out.
Just for the record, I spread out typing up this post over several days.
Also, please critique if you feel like it! And here goes:
submitted by displacedindavis to theloudhouse [link] [comments]

High School Experience from a 2011 Grad..

I graduated HS in 2011 (2.2 GPA) I always felt like everyone looked at me differently. My mother said I had to play sports. I remember before 9th grade started, I told my mom I wanted to focus on school and homework, since middle school was such a struggle for me. I knew I would need all of my attention on education. Guess who swam and played water polo, all four years of high school? This girl. I would always see all of my teammates cramming for tests, rushing to finish homework on the bus to and from meets, reading a book for English class before practice everyday in the noisy hallways. I tried to do that, but I always failed. I would get 3 pages into that English book and have to reread all of them because, some guy was bouncing a basketball down the hallway, or someone was talking too loud which led to me overhearing a conversation I wasn't even involved in. That caused me to not do homework some nights because I wouldn't get home until 10pm sometimes, and I would have to be back at school for morning practice at 5am. Freshman year wasn't bad, but then I started being told I had to sit out of meets and games because of my grades. I was the one on the bench, taking stats if we were playing water polo. Or just cheering on the team if we were swimming. I felt horrible sometimes because grades were something I should've been able to control. I wasn't the best athlete by far. Sometimes I would be pretty good at playing water polo, but sometimes I had trouble actually remembering all of the rules perfectly. I was yelled at a few times during games for doing the wrong thing or passing to the wrong person. Looking back it all makes a lot of sense. I just wish I would've known. The coach told me senior year that he was only putting me on the Varsity squad because I was a senior and every other senior was and he didn't want me to be left out. I had been on Jr. Varsity the rest of the time. I had about 5 really good friends on the team that seemed to like me. We hung out, went to homecoming dances as groups, ate lunch together at the 'Swimmer's Table' in the lunch room, but I always seemed to be the odd one out. I was the only one not knowing the 'inside joke' or everyone would start talking about something they did together over the weekend while I quietly sat and ate my lunch, not being a part of any conversation. People saw me as shy and I was, but some days I would surprise even myself and be outspoken and confident.
It also seemed like everyone was in an AC or AP class, and that's all they could talk about... while I'm sitting here in Algebra 2, or retaking Chemistry. It didn't help that I was constantly being compared to my friends by my mom, "Why can't you be like so-and-so", or "I bet she keeps her room clean".
I didn't go through the college application ritual that everyone else did either. I basically decided on community college without much thought and applied a month before classes started. Mainly, I didn't have a clue as to what I wanted to do with my life.
Now that I'm almost 10 years out of HS this is starting to dawn on me. I was diagnosed Aug 2019, because I just couldn't handle my job anymore and got help for myself. I feel that if I had been diagnosed in HS, I would've been able to succeed and finish college classes and earn a degree, instead of barely passing 4 classes in 2 years, at a community college- I did go through 4 different majors in that time though.
I can be very envious of my HS friends on Facebook, who have nice careers, graduating med school, getting their master's degree. I remember crying in my bed in 2015 because my entire news feed was filled with college graduation pictures and I was stuck waiting tables at a truck stop.
On the positive end, I was promoted from waiting tables within the company, to a Manager, then Kitchen Manager. I was so proud when I did this almost 3 years ago. I felt I had truly accomplished something with my life.
If you made it to the end of this post, thank you for reading. I know it was a long one. I have so many more thoughts from high school that I could talk about. It would take a lot of time.
submitted by cmlrxj42015 to ADHD [link] [comments]

The Meld II (1): After Wrath - a kind of peace.

The Meld II (1): After Wrath - a kind of peace.
KVC three simple letters, representing something less easily defined.
Did they somehow rename the star system and planet as presently logged in the Atlas Database? Where did the presently resident Space Station spring from? In addition, how did it get here? Previously, as now, they blanked queries on those issues - infuriating.
‘We are grateful for your continued support with the Lightspine initiative.’ The figure interjected instead, changing the topic again. ‘Your base footings, uncomplicated delicate local legalistic and logistical matters.’
“Agreeable services for services, keep us honest - as does a little transparency.” Tor added uselessly.
‘We feared you were distancing prior to summoning us here.’
I should be so lucky, Tor internally mused.
‘Having read our latest report and analysis. Do you wish to add anything further regarding present sector operations? We value all input.’
Korvax could so easily be datavores.
“Just my stated concerns about the growing black market, especially with multi-tools. Is there no better way to limit such hidden distribution chains from operating on planet.”
‘Not easily. Anyway Traveller, oft more productive to identify and monitor known criminals rather than to drive their activity deeper underground. We prefer to simply track the flow of questionable people and goods only then dealing, as absolutely needed, with the most problematic of emergent individuals, groups and technologies.’
“You consider you have insiders close enough to this action where necessary?”
The glowing Korvax image seemed to study the Traveller for a moment.
‘I cannot discuss undercover operations - for internal security reasons - even with you. Indeed, some of these matters compartmentalised far beyond my direct scrutiny.’
Tor thinking that too convenient, abiding levels of separation, in part, designed for plausible denial. It irked him a little how well the KVC always hedged their bets. However, operational prudence and discretion was partly what made them ideal policing gatekeepers. A smarter than average first line of outer defence against incursions.
He hated covert operations but long stuck fast upon the edge of such ventures due to his struggle with: The Overmind, the Gek Blood Cults and of course First Spawn survivors. Even sometimes contesting Space Piracy and other simpler criminality led to sneaking about. Naturally, equally having the KVC, (actually a Convergent Korvax intelligence gathering and dark operations organisation), as a long-term ally hardly helped him stay in the light. The KVC technically all murky shadow.
“You consider you have it under control?” At times on the ground, it hardly seemed that way.
The Korvax made no effort to reply. Tor sighed inwardly, whilst their blank masked faces mirrored each other in virtually a contest of inscrutability.
Tor wished Gryll would join him in these courtesy(?) meetings for added cognitive and psychological support. Unfortunately, the KVC made his friend even more uncomfortable than they made Torrance. Often it surprised Tor that Gryll so regularly resident on planet considering the solar system now annexed by these Convergent Korvax.
‘So much more is possible with unity of purpose: Remember Convergence all about mutual support.’
“No doubt.” Tor replied, having heard it all before. Useless too, but he couldn’t quite resist the sarcasm - allies - or not. Probably time to move along.
‘You made the right choice.’ The Convergent insisted. ‘Speaking without personal or organisational ego. I think you know this. These Sentinels Demand Orthodoxy. More brutal forces, let’s say the Vy’keen High Command but even the ever profit hunting Gek Trade Guilds, lack our digital insights. Delicate diplomacy required here.’
Tor wondered if that was a reminder to him to step lighter in his more muddled meddling. He nodded though, most of the last beyond dispute even to a suspicious Traveller. Still, he worried he had sold the Uplifts out to covert dominance by an off world superpower that he never - entirely - ever trusted. Yet better the KVC than larger numbers of exploitative industrial or criminal types, including Blood Cult Gek swarming in. Whilst Tor also judged a Vy’keen Protectorate too severe following the shock of The Wrath even if some Tusks yet troublesome to planetary peace.
Problematically, the Blood Cults would likely never cease to be fascinated by the Planet of Hellespae, as it was now labelled in the system of Hellespawn. Names that again struck Tor a bit close to the bone. Why such labels if it was the KVC did the renaming? Why play it up that way? Sometimes they could be confounding subtle even when seemingly bold out of character overt.
Usually when KVC acted brash it just meant you were missing something well hidden underneath the distracting noise. The Lightspine, in a distant star system, an example. The construct an agricultural laboratory of sorts, yet also a domineeringly stark - madly imposing building - that belied that truth in a virtually aggressive way. In its creation, Tor had just followed their design plan as instructed.
That was the Korvax Victor Company though, a sly disingenuous force. In action his Convergent allies reminded him of his most infamous foe - perhaps in a weird way a good thing. Surely that place could not just be about distracting him, for a time, although the KVC knew too well how to multitask: Those processes built into their unnatural digital nature.
Too sadly, it would not matter that the Cradle Citadel was obliterated, nor that the Mountain mostly gone, (blasted by an interdicting Sentinel Armada), some obsessive folk would still seek after possible surviving relics of Geskhan. A few possibly even taking an unwelcome interest in the remaining Tusks and Foxes as - living legacies - of the famous First Spawn Inventor and Archivist’s work. Worse, Tor feared, some Tusks might even make for willing Blood Cult recruits. A few belatedly judging going from the Cult of the Dreamer to full membership of a Gek Blood Cult a spiritual promotion, despite any previous contention of dogma when the Dreamer active.
Meanwhile, dodgy Black Market Traders ideal Blood Cult infiltrator disguises, the Tusks in particular ever hungry for new tech including presently restricted and controlled devices. The ancient Gek Mystery Cults long using the lure of gifts of one kind or another as a means of recruitment: Drugs, power, wealth, knowledge even access to forbidden Elder Tech all dangled at one time or another before potential recruits. Though the Blood Cults long considered racist Gek institutions, Tusks - given their Maker - potentially acceptable.
Meanwhile, elsewhere - remarkably - Reefee’s hidden Blood Cult civil war apparently raging unabated. Tor beginning to believe the KVC wanted it that way since it kept so very many Cultists preoccupied with internal doctrinal and leadership differences, a bit similar to one Hirk and Nal story. Yet not even that weird Cult internal conflict, kept - all - those Gek recidivists assuredly permanently fully locked down and out of broader mischief, including safely directed away from Hellespae and its Uplifted residents. Therefore rightly or wrongly Tor felt an abiding responsibility to ensure the peace.
“I trust the KVC doing more than just monitoring any - Cultists - probing around in this system.”
‘As I have explained before, those operations are not directly under my jurisdiction.’
“Really? Then perhaps there is somebody else you can redirect me towards?”
‘That wont be necessary or facilitated. I am well placed to forward on any data others need to know from you. We each have our proper place Torrance. Matters of Blood Cult encroachment deemed military. Although I hold a quite senior Company position, to some, I am a glorified Civilian Administrator.’ The Korvax underplayed.
Tor wondered if he might get more out of his Cook back on the Triple V - as a known Agent - then decided probably not.
“So I am fully judged a civilian asset now?”
‘Of course, do you wish to dispute that present designation?’
Tor easily answered that one. “No. I do not.” Yet was it ever that simple. They had ways of folding you in or cutting you out when it suited them. Whilst his Cult Busting, Vy’keen Interns of the Mindwar Archive would probably feel insulted if they knew they were - by association - equally judged civilians, although that designation far better than some attempt to impose a meddlesome KVC operational oversight.
‘You will nonetheless, I assume, let us know if you find anything - actionable - that needs passed on.’
“That - needs - passed on, of course. I am surprised your people though are not all over the archaeology - if that is the right term for this venture.” Had they secretly been all over it already? Surely the Militia - he had assigned - would have noticed even attempts by subtle KVC trespassers..., unless his watchers compromised. Tor let that go quickly deciding down that vector lay madness.
‘We oft prefer not to be the active party. The best oversight that which does the least possible. Not only does doing less avoid - foolish - dependencies, it simply makes less noise, therefore in general attracting less attention including less potential active outside ire and contention.’
“You are like fictional fantasy wizards,” The Traveller scoffed, “all about keeping the balance.”
‘For the Convergent balance is not a bad analogy. When matters are balanced, rash interventions only upset the stability of the equilibrium. We prefer to avoid such straining outcomes that are at best mismanagement. No one wants to make a crisis out of stability.’
“Cooler minds prevail.” Tor replied whilst also thinking, tell that story to Reefee. He could almost feel sorry for the Clone, since it seemed the KVC had gotten the best of him after all - well possibly.
‘If you trusted us earlier with your discovery Tor, the remarkable, (for this age), Sentinel Armada bombardment might have been avoided. The Convergent are not your enemy Traveller - we are your good friends and allies. Not every soul can readily hope to muster our support as you do.’
In other words stop complaining and just be grateful we came to your call. Tor grimaced inside his suit, well it felt as if he worked such muscles under his ever present second skin. That thought making him grimace once again. A bit of a grimacing loop that in turn had him smiling like a loon in self mockery.
Luckily, none of that interplay of facial expression was outwardly visible. Was it true though? Did his habitual distrust and paranoia, including his dislike of great powers help forge what happened? Was his general attitude - as much at fault - as him vainly opening the Portal out of curiosity and shockingly, at first, as a mere distraction for Efor following that punishing altercation with the First Spawn Clone? Tor hadn’t really believed they would find the Shadow Library. Yet from such simple beginnings…
He had long judged Portals by omen troublesome Elder Tech, even striven not to use them - too casually -, yet always exceptions existed such as working for the Nexus. Now, he sometimes felt strongly that all the Uplifts of Hellespae ought to hate him for his trespass, though maybe if they had driven him away in enmity with sticks and stones, it would have been too easy on his guilty soul. That Nahrl and so on still looked up to the Triumvirate, rather than blaming them - in any manner - for what transpired, felt both humbling and vexing to the Traveller.
Nahrl only appeared to blame: The Dreamer, the Horde, (as it had been), the Blood Cult Gek and of course the Sentinels. Yet Tor was obsessed with earlier causes most notably his personal role in the cascade of events. He recalled Elder Torrance claiming Travellers true catalysts within the Great Machine, such ideas nothing new. Wherever Travellers went, things happened. Really they should all be super mindful of the potential consequences of their rash actions, yet somehow it rarely worked out that way. Worse, Tor felt, that often as a Traveller you could only ever hope to know a thing by foolishly going there and once there the deed - irrevocably done - or was that just a retrograde excuse.
“You really think your KVC could have prevented The Wrath?”
The Korvax image shifted slightly as if to better study Tor, as if really physically there. Sometimes Tor felt living in the real all play acting to the machines. Anyway, it paused a long moment, especially long for a fast thinking Convergent. It no doubt a calculated pause, purely expressed for dramatic social emphasis rather than some product of hellish deep convoluted digital thought. Tor knew in potency of mentality he was a flea conversing with a cognitive giant - as ever it rankled him. Occasionally he even worried his relative mental inferiority truly what pained him most about the networked digital folk. Their easy superiority of cognition making him feel slow witted, clumsy and just generally outgunned. Yet to him they importantly didn’t really quite live in the real world they ironically just interloped from the virtual and that mattered.
‘Forgiveness Traveller. I misspoke. History as we all know is destiny. All past events folded into the Base Code of existence. What has happened - in any timeline - could not be any other way, not within its specific thread of reality. I merely wish you to consider - your potential future actions - to self advise and correct your present vector when needed.'
The Korvax studied him again, as if Tor a manifestation of some especially fascinating laboratory anomaly.
‘Further hurts Traveller, in your future, best avoided. Even small stings to the biological psyche can add to an abiding - compounding - weight. Depression dragging down a soul’s passage into dark places, and you Travellers can exist for such a very long time, many burdens to accumulate. Worse, many of you do not have the direct support of being fully immersed in our uplifting Convergence, whence it is possible to share all onerous mental matters to a greater degree.’ The Korvax lectured.
The happy clappy Convergence, just believe and meld into that unity of purpose then all will be well. Tor grimaced internally once again. Many Torrance often preached to Believe Deeper, but they had rarely been fans of, or easy converts to, Digital Convergence that was not their guiding waypoint.
Though trapped in his exo-suit he believed firmly in the sanctity of his biological body, rather than in the elevation of, to him, - fake - ghostly digital copies of minds within some insubstantial version of a - post life - informational heaven. He believed life more than some - base - code. Ironically, even in here, he believed life overall a grand cosmic mystery, sometimes a grand cosmic horror show too but that was another story. He supposed it was something that kept him a little apart from some folk more wedded to the mainstream.
“I doubt you KVC share all your burdens for - security - reasons alone.” He eventually retorted.
‘Perhaps we don’t share them all.’ The Korvax self corrected, Tor sensing the machine doing so in a slightly condescending amused way. He too often felt the Convergent dealt with all non Convergent in a slightly amused manner, akin to owners talking lovingly down to recalcitrant domestic pets. ‘Please do keep in touch.’
Tor resisted an almost manic urge to go ‘Woof’, since he didn‘t have a tail to wag like a Fox. He let it go guessing he had more or less just been dismissed that fact confirmed instants later when the glowing Holo Image of the Korvax Casing winked out of his existence.
Did it really misspeak? Do they ever? As ever, the update from the Convergent Governor Consul or CGC left him feeling a bit ragged on the inside, dealing with any of the KVC too often did. Yet it was not easy to put aside old thoughts and feelings about his uncomfortable allies. Even now, he wondered, if he would rush to inform them of anything interesting he might uncover with his friends.
Even now, despite calling the KVC in, (in perhaps a moment of weakness), he questioned some of their broader motives and methods including their abiding secrecy. Yet, he had called them in nonetheless, and some part of him also felt he owed them a little credit for answering his summons. It did not matter if they responded - ever for their own reasons - he had still been the active summoner.
Curse them for making me do it to myself, Tor mused internally, whilst hating how weak that felt. Sighing again he stepped out, passing with a suit sensor tingle through the glowing atmospheric force field curtain of the blue light doorway.
Gryll was standing outside on a gloriously bright morning, the hot sun glinting sharply in places off his shiny metal head. Efor had said it was a day like that when… Tor struggled to let that go too. Bios might lounge lazily against the nanite prefabricated base module or sit on the springy curly grass, but Gryll as a Korvax stood erect akin to a technological statue near the batteries linked to the stubby solar generators. The collectors panels in organised rows and columns slowly following the burning sky orbs progress with mechanical diligence.
Tor took in the wider scene. So much had changed in recent months. Hellespae apparently had been caught in a - time anomalous - fold. The days spent within did not tally sensibly to the days passing far more quickly without. As such, other almost queued up Reality Shifts had hit them all belatedly hard, bringing a few odd gifts.
A little further out on a bit of a rise, one such gift, the first of his Living Ships throbbed and pulsed even occasionally seemingly grumbling or singing to itself. Tor already had two of these rare assets and felt well bonded to both, if occasionally a little stretched by that added responsibility.
The second one possibly a judgement lapse, curiosity finally getting the better of him. Now he felt a little torn between them, yet he could not part with the other either. Not good to discard living things as if mere unfeeling objects. He thought involuntarily about Artemis then strangely about the problematic Gek Base Overseer back at the Sanctified Basin. Surely, he had no reason to feel guilty about that one.
His ship grabbed his attention again, the shifts almost hypnotic. The creatures of the void also a sign of ever changing times perhaps of an ever changing Torrance. The first Living Ship he encountered appeared to say some alarming things, things that came close to encouraging him to reach for the weapons of his Mirror of Air star fighter rather than thoughts of ready compliance. Yet an odd reticence had kept his thumb off the fire button allowing the mysterious space dwelling entity to live on to continue its mission. Though for a super tense - elongated - moment he had agonised about the options in his mind, his thoughts fairly looping. Perhaps ignorance, indecision and inaction arguably making the final decision for him, the moment of danger simply passing him by or so it occasionally seemed.
With slightly revisionist hindsight he liked to imagine that he opted to not take the worst possible interpretation from what the Ship had said, judging its words possibly cultural and language miscommunications rather than simply an illogically bold expression of nasty facts. One of those occasions when he was not certain of his own motivations until he put them behind him under a belated heavy critique.
Anyway, he had stayed his hand and then taken part in some questionable enough Anomalous Channel ‘Doctor Frankenstein’ style business to create / birth / hatch a new life from a meld of parts: A new Living Ship. The lengthy process starting with an odd egg like casing previously obtained. The purchase of the curiosity occurring at the Machine Anomaly of Nada and Polo, maybe that simple fact had helped stay his hand as well. Although Tor far from completely trusted Nada and Polo they had nonetheless paradoxically - on some levels - become comfortably familiar actors in his ongoing dramas.
Yet again, to him, these all felt, matters of teetering perspective. Nothing about the Living Ship hatching quest entirely clean cut right or wrong. The process, Tor positive, being more complicated and subtle than it might seem especially to any more distant - less intertwined - outsider. Perhaps, he was actually finally growing and stretching as an individual, rather than just following the path of the Elder Torrance or feeling corruptly compromised by some of his experiences. Well the previous true unless conversely, he had become increasingly taint blind and thus judgement impaired.
‘Are they sending some of their people to join us?’ Gryll finally asked perhaps even his digital patience tested.
“No. They have left this little expedition entirely to our discretion.”
‘Really? Too generous.’
That reply about the KVC reminding Tor of Tor.
“Apparently, they prefer not to risk drawing deeper attention. I suppose that we retain an emotional curiosity about the old battle site and so on unsurprising. Our history here well known, even if nothing much remains worthy of deeper study in there. Yet if - they - took any noticeable, even just direct logistical interest, it might well be a beacon of suspicion to others. I think they would rather the site be underplayed lest it ever disastrously destabilise certain abiding assumptions.”
‘Some are always bound to take an interest. Is that not partly why you put a Traveller Base here and before that walled up the openings, whilst having the area under permanent Surface Militia guard.’
“I mostly footed this site for the Terminus access, granting us easy future transit back and forth. Besides Gryll, I like the idea of it later becoming an Archaeological Museum / Institute and Tabernacle of Remembrance of a sort eventually open to all. Even the deceased of the Tusk Horde - as it was - deserves some respect of remembrance. It being the thought that counts, it hardly matters if my Museum ultimately houses only simple historic finds such as easily collected scraps of ragged hull plating. Although I wanted to keep Dreamer Cult remnants away from the place, lest they tried to use it in some staged propaganda coup, a made up Dreamer resurrection.”
“Beyond that what happened here - and why - needs preserved. So much else lost down the long ages to other Sentinel operations elsewhere. For example, during the Great Sentinel Wars with the Vy‘keen much history all but wiped out save a few later words put into Plaques and specific clan texts that might be propaganda reworkings. Whilst the Sentinels tend to leave Traveller Bases mostly unmolested.”
‘You Torrance and your logs and archives against forgetting. So now a Museum, seems an escalation. Do you think me wrong? Do you really believe it all safe - dead - history now?’
“A part of me hopes you might be mistaken. I don’t know what the consequences might be of you being right. Are the others here yet?”
‘Not yet, but I imagine they will be taking the Terminus from the staging point of the Fort soon enough.’
“Strange that we still call it that since the original surface structures got wiped.”
‘Not that strange. As you just alluded history matters. Plus the underdark remains a Surface Militia site.’
“I suppose. Lives matter more though. If the Gladiators had not evacuated our Liberated underground in time…”
‘They followed the general safety protocols we helped establish. You have to let The Wrath go.’
Tor just grunted almost like an angry Tusk to that demand. Whenever he returned here, it all came flooding back. Spawn it! People still too often recovering bodies and body parts to safely dispose of them.
‘Constantly reviewing to mope around will change nothing, only prove detrimental to your present performance and possibly overall group morale. Partly why we need this closure whatever it uncovers.’
“Spoken like a logical Korvax that can switch it on or off. The CGC told me it could not have played out any other way on this timeline, whilst paradoxically hinting that if I had called them in earlier…”
Gryll’s stance stiffened in obvious annoyance at the final comment.
‘Unkind also uncertain. As to Convergent Fatalism that part not necessarily incorrect, similar things said about the loss of Korvax Prime. With history what is done cannot be undone. History a good thing to know Tor, but as you also have said yourself before, 'a very bad place to dwell'.’ Gryll lectured.
“Always easier to give the advice. I suppose there would be no KVC, if Korvax Prime had not fallen.”
‘Even I would not hold that fact against them. I am now positive if they had a choice to get Prime back at the loss of the existence of the KVC they would not hesitate to say goodbye to the Company. For all their faults - and they have plenty - they are firm loyalists to my people. My issue is just that their way is ever the Convergent - machine loving - way. I often ponder whether we learned any of the right lessons from the calamity of losing our homeworld. If we had not gone digital earlier, would we have been so easily targeted in the arrogance of our believed logical superiority? That being one question.’
“A very interesting question.”
‘To which I am sure they would retort, 'that loss our destiny on this timeline'.’
“You truly think biological Korvax would have been less blind to the arising First Spawn menace?”
‘They might have been more emotionally connected to it, less digitally aloof. They might easily have felt fear and trepidation at the growing militancy of an expansionist Gek Empire rather than just retaining colder scientific cultural curiosity. We Korvax also have to take some responsibility for our losses. Mistakes were made, not just trespasses. Some Convergent, I conjecture, don’t want to compute it that way though.’
‘Oh we Korvax can easily emulate all your simple biological emotions but do we really feel them as deeply as you people do?’
Tor guessed that a rhetorical which seemed proven when Gryll quickly continued.
‘Only, I would say, yes when we let that emulation slip beyond our tight control, but is that the Convergent way?, or even the modern Korvax way? I would argue too often it is not. To me, being - overly - emotional is deemed to be out of balance by more dedicated Convergent digital souls - to be malfunctioning in mind - even to be going a bit biological native. Too much Casing time - hardly good form - for a properly integrated digital citizen of Convergence. Generally arguably only Rogues among us Korvax, (living too firmly in the heavy real), dare do such out of balance things, sadly some of us Korvax Rogues take it too far and risk straying into the realms of emotionally instigated insanity.’
Gryll tellingly looked over at the Living Ship when he said the last.
“My exotic friend still bothers you deeply?”
‘Occasionally I think it should delight me Tor. Part of it is arguably - according to you - a kernel of us Korvax, yet a kernel that contrived to be reborn back to the marvel of flesh and such extraordinary flesh it is. Sadly, it seems too extreme to me - in this outlandish form -, so far apart from what I am and have dreamed of becoming again. No arms, no legs, not even really a traditional head, barely speaking, although you said that other one spoke more deeply and traditionally over your communications.’
“The Nemesis of Nomenclature is relatively speaking only just hatched Gryll. For all I know it may still be developing, maturing in far less obvious internal ways than her outer appearance might show.”
‘To my great surprise and embarrassment, I prefer my cold metal star ship,’ the Rogue Korvax stated quietly as if belatedly fearing Tor’s ship might be offended. ‘Those non verbal sounds it makes alone... Also, all the shadowy unknowns yet gathering around it despite all learned so far.’ Gryll shook his head. ‘It is weird Tor, truly I calculate I should be intrigued beyond measure not illogically repulsed. Yet I don’t even really enjoy being this close to it. It surprises me a little that you - of all Travellers - have taken so well to them.’
“I am sorry you feel that way about her.”
‘Although biology, does it even have a gender? Can it reproduce?’
Tor shrugged in his suit. “I don’t know. A manner of speech, I think of all my ships as Ladies.”
‘You biological folk!’ Gryll mocked in good humour before adding more seriously, ‘I am sorry too Tor. Maybe I am not as big an Anti Convergence Revolutionary as I once thought, or even as open minded.’
“Gut reactions strange things and not always right. Still, in a way your disquiet proves you feel deeper than some other Korvax appear to do. To some she would just be a specimen. Whilst they do look and sound alien to normal sensitivities, being made to live in and traverse the void that fact hardly surprises me. It is alive but not designed to familiar planet born blueprints of existence.”
‘I need to master this irrational prejudice. It is not very scientific, I feel it lessens me, I do not like it.’
Tor patted his friend on the arm. “Perhaps you truly should resist such prejudices, but again it is also very alive to feel what we feel, occasionally regardless of opposing better frames of logic.”
‘Eheu Tor, I have inadvertently scored a point for us Korvax in general. Thus for once we are more than just code and machines to your somewhat bigoted biological perspective.’
“Gryll, you will always be more than only code and a machine Korvax Casing to me and I hope I more than a Traveller subject or specimen to you.”
‘Forget exceptionalism, I am not that exceptional as a Korvax, even if you think I am - not even as a Rogue to Convergence. I guess we all have our inner issues to yet work through,’ Gryll added. ‘Still worrying that you are not really in there?’
He jokingly reached out to knock thrice on the armoured chest of Tor’s presently Vy’keen styled Exo-suit as if rapping upon a far too closed up hatchway.
“Let’s talk about something else.”
‘Unless my microphones betray me the noise disturbing the birds probably Efor circling around in his star ship trying to figure out where best to land. No Terminus for that friend.’
Tor looked up.
“He prefers to fly, great freedom in flight.” Freedom from all chains of responsibility and maybe even some of guilt, he added in his head.
Do we keep coming back because we feel responsible for The Wrath even if Gryll denies it? Else is it just folk like Nahrl and Jhasq being here, it not easy to leave those two fully behind or is it yet the Shadow of that cursed Library the mystery of it calling.
Nahrl and Jhasq two other souls to whom he felt bonded. Else was he now more truly welded to all Uplifts because of his role as a catalyst to The Wrath. For a moment he envied being able to turn emotions on or off. Gryll was right, morbid obsession would not help here just hinder.
After the ship dusted down, seeing Efor materialise on the ground made Tor genuinely smile despite his mood. The smile an automatic retort to the FlyGek’s own armour beaked open mouthed grin, not that Efor could see any expression behind the darkened visor of the helmeted Traveller. Still, Tor hoped something in his stance alone would yet convey his plain delight at the reunion.
“How goes the bounties?”
‘Well enough that wiser Space Pirates now avoid this and a few neighbouring systems,’ the FlyGek boasted, ‘nothing like the old days though, back on the Mappae Ascendant.’
“That my friend is probably a good thing.” Tor stated before reaching down slightly to clasp the Gek's upper arm to swing him into a hug.
Efor left often but kept coming back, yet it been a while since Tor saw him. Well Tor also came and went, sadly due to varied commitments and habits returns oft failed to connect up. Tor busy with everything from putting in a few new Bases and farming some units to upgrade his star ships, to hatching Void Eggs. For a long while, almost doing nothing but missions for the Nexus in a verging upon manic manner. The Nexus a Traveller job market of sorts at the heart of Nada and Polo’s space roaming Anomaly.
A lot of the jobs taken tellingly combative, suppressing: Space Pirates, Biological Burrowing Horrors or weeding out problematic spreads of dangerous Carnivorous Plants. It bothered him sometimes that he did less exploration than before, but it possibly just been the times, tomorrow habits could easily alter again. Tor doing things in spates.
Basic combat missions being a welcome means to forget certain matters. Nexus jobs also a less mentally taxing methodology to feel he was doing some active good for a wider community compared to more problematic operations against the Overmind or even the Gek Blood Cults. Righting far smaller local wrongs always a lot simpler than dealing with ancient evils even if new Pirates were almost guaranteed to spring up again. Perhaps Nexus Missions a surrogate for all the matters he could not fix: The history now logged that could not be unwritten plus a justifiable venting of - his - pent up wrath.
Efor chuckled. ‘Nice Armour, going Vy’keen on us?’
“Of late it suits me.”
‘I would say it does.’ The Gek replied. ‘Not so much changed about me or Gryll here though.’
Tor wondered if that was really true or just wishful thinking by the Gek.
Gryll held out his two hands palms forward.
‘Well apart from that restoration.’ Efor corrected.
‘Speaking of bounties, I heard you’ve been throwing yourself into action Tor, guess that has proved bad news for a great many Space Pirates. What is your grand tally at now?’
“I couldn’t say, I stopped paying too much attention to those numbers in the Atlas Database a while ago. The tally getting less important than just the occupation of doing the jobs.”
‘Hee, hee too kind of you keeping it a secret, I doubt I could catch up.’
‘They are all people, not notches on a tally.’ Gryll reminded soberly into the conversation between the louder biological pair.
‘Nope, just Space Pirates.’ Efor mocked.
‘In this, at times, you two are a little too alike,’ Gryll replied looking from one to the other then shaking his head very slightly. It was an old debate.
Efor more demonstrably poked his tongue out at his friend then stated. ‘You Gryll just spent too long slumming with them. They made their own life choices.’
‘Perhaps not always, have you never heard about Atlas Placement Theory?’ Gryll asked.
‘Bah Gryll, it early in the day for deep Atlas metaphysics. Don’t spoil our fun! Anyway, old Korvax Rogue, according to some digital folk no one ever really dies here - remember - and they had a rebirth coming.’
‘Historically their kind shot one of us Torrance down first, it is logged.”
‘You two enjoy such sport a little too much, if they were to go away you would miss that action.’
‘Haa, in these times. If anything Space Piracy proliferating. Besides, always best to enjoy what you do,’ Efor retorted, ‘especially when it is something needs to be done. Biological existence a joy, joy: A fresh feast of scents and flavours that demand taken in and devoured with relish. Otherwise, it just spoils as rotten as those Abandoned Buildings.’
“Ah still thinking with your stomach, Gek. Got plenty of carbon biscuits in that pack?”
‘You can bet I do and other tasty rations and ingredients besides. I invested in expanding my storage, even got myself one of those fancy portable cookers Travellers made popular.’
When the Foxes Nahrl and Jhasq arrived, it along with the Tusk Bwathan on loan from the Surface Militia. A good few of the Fort Liberated a founding core of the Militia. Initial duties everything from search and rescue operations to raiding surviving subterranean Dreamer Cult sanctums to free Fox Slaves, not to mention contesting would be Clan Lords, and other die hard Tusk rabble rousers.
More citizenry survived the bombardment than once thought possible. Partly because the Sentinels, (ignoring the devastation of the Freighter Battle Site), had targeted structures - not people - for eradication. Working their annihilation in a systematic way that forewarned some enough to permit a scramble for makeshift underground shelters. Most Tusk settlement had some underground cellars or other larger subsurface assets. Hellespae rife with caves: Fully natural formations and ancient delved frequently long abandoned remnants of Warrens.
The loss of life still absurdly atrocious the time available to escape, (when available at all), oft more than tight. Nonetheless, the first few weeks post bombardment included digging lots of people out from beneath crater rubble or from beyond collapsed passages. Although sometimes only heaps of dead bodies of Tusks and Foxes recovered.
The Wrath changed everything. Nahrl, Bwathan even Jhasq now bore multi-tools. Nahrl and Bwathan sporting rifle class whilst Jhasq a neat pistol on her belt. Multi-tools whilst restricted to most locals under the imposed Korvax Hegemony some held special licence including Surface Militia and friends of the Triumvirate, obviously including the two old Pentacle members. Although both Nahrl and Jhasq were also considered honorary Militia of commanding rank.
The Militia embraced deep organisational flexibility encouraging individual diligence and responsibility over chains of command although command did exist. Operating more akin to independent Warren Scouts, banding together at need, than say unruly historic Horde clan infantry. A name change being considered to Surface Rangers, some folk judging Militia sounding too militant the matter still under discussion.
The nature of the combined Tusk and Fox force partly an attempt to prevent charismatic Warlord leadership from emerging from inside or outside of the ranks. No one wanted dictatorships. The KVC, if subtly as ever, embracing what the Pentacle started perhaps seeing the group born of rescue operations as a primitive embodiment of natural convergence, Tor certainly endeavoured to sell the organisation that way to his Korvax allies.
Tor pleased to witness how at ease the Foxes looked around Bwathan and vice versa as they made their greetings then prepared for the delve under the remains of - that - Mountain. Helping each other pick out and stow extra last minute supplies from the stores Tor had accumulated. Post Wrath operations assisting integration faster than Tor dreamed possible. Some good coming out of the disastrous Sentinel intervention.
The three newcomers even had technological nanite powered backpacks, armour and shield systems akin to those sported by the Triumvirate. That made Tor wonder again a little about the present level of off world cultural and technical encroachment. Meanwhile, it always a bit funny seeing furry Fox Tails sticking boldly out the rear of virtual exo-suits, or furry Fox heads above the necks of the same.
Foxes in armour, oft resisted any use of helmets preferring to see and scent their world directly bare faced, also rarely using gloves. Tusks embraced everything technological whenever available. The shaped helmet Bwathan wore including built in tailored tusk sheaves gave him a startling even more intimidating appearance. The sharp sheaves actually extending the length of the natural tusks inside and by design capable of acting as enhanced goring weapons.
Post Wrath Tusks, given any opportunity, melded and interfaced with technology like water melds into a cup. Keeping some tech away from some less wholesome Tusks becoming a big problem including for some policing operations by the Surface Militia, thus Tor’s recent discussion about the Black Market with the CGC.
submitted by Brain_evacuated to NmsMindwarArchive [link] [comments]

Invaders and the Chase (Part 3)

Part 2
So last time I posted I mentioned that I heard a car outside. I was surprised so I decided to leave the attic and go to my room. At first glance it was all empty so after getting out of the attic I went to my room and looked out of the window.
It was the new polo in red color rushing through the street, I guess someone was trying to escape which gave me hope that my family is still alive and that I am not alone. But sadly for the driver, he was being chased by 3 Invaders They were keeping up with the speed of the car which was probably over 80km/h at that moment which wasn't half bad considering that he just entered the street from a sharp corner.
So basically my plan of using my car to drive away is out of the question now, I have an issue with clutch on my car where I can't really excelerate that quickly early on, instead I have to build up speed slowlyIn general even if I managed to get to my car which requires me to make a lot of noise and to open up my garage, I'd still need at least 20 seconds to get to 80km/h due to my clutch now.
I watched the "chase" For a bit until I saw one of the Invaders leap over the car and land directly on the front of the car completely crushing it. Engine blew up instantly, front wheels flew away as soon as they were freed.
Shortly after all I could see were Invaders tearing apart the car, and sadly the driver as well.
Even 80km/h was nothing compared to the Invader's jump, they probably could've kept up with even faster speed so driving away is a completely useless idea.
I was in shock that the Invaders were that fast and strong, this was the first time that I saw them chase anything so obviously I was surprised... So much so that I didn't notice one staring at me from across the street... His sky blue eyes and crimson red mouth were engraved in my mind as soon as I noticed it... The Invader stood still... That's odd...?
I backed away slowly until I broke eye contact with the Invader, ran back to the attic and started collecting all the important things in one larger travel backpack.I managed to pack stuff like food, water, my laptop and phone, chargers for themSome tools like can opener, a small kitchen knife that I used to cut up food, some bowls, and some spare clothes that I haven't worn yet.
I knew that it's just the matter of when they decide to strike and I wasn't planning on staying to see when that happens.
After collecting everything I decided to leave through a back exit which leads to my backyard I'd go over a little fence into a backyard of the house behind mine. From there I could go through a series of abandoned houses to get out to the main road, my hope was to see a lot of abandoned cars there which would use as a good cover if there were any Invaders there.
That's as much time as I had to plan I heard a noise from bellow, click clack on floor tiles of my house entrance hall... Suddenly a loud scream was heard.
They are inside.
With no time to waste, my best bet was to leave through a window on second floor, jumping down to my backyard.
Only issue is the height, it might only be a second floor, but the house was built in a way that the first floor is at least 3.5 meters tall...
the whole first floor is elevated for about 3 stairs so at least another .5 meters
In general from the window down I had to jump from around 5 meters height. That's more than double of my height.
It was my only option so I rushed for it luckly for me I noticed a pole on the left (I am not sure what the name is in English, but that metal thing which collects rain from the roof and transfers it to drains and such)
Reaching out through the window I managed to grab onto it. Going down wasn't much of an issue. Once I got down I was about to start running but I noticed an something. My backpack got stuck to a nail in the wall and I couldn't move... Shit I am stuck.After a bit of struggle trying to get it off, I had to take whole backpack off just to remove the nail from it, but shortly after taking it off I managed to remove the nail.
I started hearing a huge ruckus, but it was coming from upstairs. Seems like the Invaders are on second floor, this could be both good and bad.
Considering that the path to the window I came out of is through a closed door which is hardly noticable and almost never used because I just store old things there, my only hope is that the Invaders don't even check that "room"
I bolted to the end of my backyard and right over the fence without looking back. All I heard was them breaking up my house... I suddenly got hit by a realization that I might never be able to come back to my house...
But that realization was short lived Why? Well because I entered a staring contest with one of the Invaders from my house. I froze in fear He was staring at me but it felt as if he was staring right into my soul... His eyes with no pupils reminded me of something eternal, something which no human should ever see...
I started running for my life But that didn't last long either. I fell into a hole, a huge hole at least a few meters tall. when I landed I managed to twist my ankle, now I am pretty much stuck here. In fact I am writing this post from the hole still, I'm just hoping that it doesn't start raining since it has been raining past few days. Though I have to say I haven't seen any Invaders pass near the hole so if the Invader that saw me actually chased after me, he probably didn't notice the hole.I am safe for now but who knows for how long, if any of them see me I am dead for sure.I'll try to get out as soon as my ankle gets just a tad bit better but until then I am practically a mouse in a trap...
If anyone has any ideas please let me know...
submitted by Lexsens to nosleep [link] [comments]

Laughable Half-Elf CYOA

Onii-chan? Otouto-kun?
There’s a problem with being a half-elf: everyone assumes you’re half-human, so they don’t worry about you reaching maturity at the age of 20 instead of 18. What if your fey father or mischievous mother decided to experiment with their love life, however? There are a lot of races where age dynamics take an awkward turn, while you’re growing up. You only just realized this, when you turned 18 and still feel underaged despite the kids you used to babysit now looking like adults in their prime, and some of them are just a bit too anxious for you to be declared an adult as well…
(This is just playing on some of the hilarity that comes from the official ages of maturity determined by Wizards of the Coast and wondering why there’s no parody manga involving these “legal lolis” with as popular as Isekai are right now.)
What kind of tribe did you grow up in? It really could change your life.
Racial Boons
What? You thought I was just going to leave you stranded in a village as the underaged man out and end the story there? Might as well just draw up a one panel comic and leave it at that. Nah. We’re going to at least let you have a few perks to make adulting until you’re an adult easier. Pick 2 from your corresponding village life:
General Boons
Let’s give you one more boon for the road. Well, you have to wait until your twentieth birthday to receive this boon, and you have to preserve your virtue until then. You can forgo one racial boon to take an additional boon from this list, but you might lose some of your hometown flavor in doing so.
After this, I guess we’ll see if your half-elf can live a full life. I wish you the best of luck.
submitted by HarleyKWen to makeyourchoice [link] [comments]

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