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Kasimir last won the day on April 6

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About Kasimir

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  1. While I've been willing to run two games back-to-back, three back-to-back is a little extreme, even for me... I'd say I'd look at Ash and Randby and Steel first, especially since Steel was wanting to run a game, but I do have a low-writeup (please >>), low-player count game I can run, and just push Old Kingdom and Tyrian for a time when there's more players and I have more bandwidth, really. I...Something just happened in my RL so I may be sitting on a bigger chunk of free time than I'd personally anticipated. So kind of Ash's position here.
  2. Vulture is @Orlok Tsubodai. Never believe anything else. Just ask Illwei. :eyes:
  3. How's the preppy treating you? I really love how they perform for their price!
  4. GM's After-Action Report: The Experiment I did an experiment this game. I'm not going to repeat it in every game, as it'd make my distros too predictable. Since players had to PM me to sign up anyway, I took the chance to ask them about their preferred alignment, and any issues they expected to face if they were to end up Evil this game. I also forbade them to discuss this, since that would ruin the whole point of me doing this I was curious both about the distribution of desires, did want to see if I could grant some wishes (depending on the distro options RNGesus threw up), and wanted to see if I could mitigate serious team dynamics/balance issues but also player mental health issues in particular when rolling up an Evil team. (Interestingly, and anecdotally, there's a weak skew where it's possible to profile the players who expressed a Village preference and the ones who expressed an Elim preference. I was also unsurprised by the ones who didn't care.) I think it worked fine in that it helped me ignore disaster distros where a player couldn't handle an Elim rand for various reasons. Experience fell sick and dropped in activity but that was fine; this isn't meant to guarantee a high-activity Elim team, just avert some obviously bad distros. The Mechanic I think the kandra mechanic deserves a paragraph of its own. The kandra mechanic was first introduced by Bartbug in LG8, and proved to be problematic for a number of reasons: first, the base game was insanely complex, second, the kandra had unlimited hops and could hop at the same time, third, players whose bodies were stolen (this game pre-dated anon accounts) were obligated to check in with their kandra and follow the kandra's instructions - despite having no incentive to cooperate to the detriment of their win con! This led to players like Maili essentially posting in accordance with their kandra's wishes but writing posts that were basically 'blink twice if you need help' quality. In the committee, Archer suggested rectifying the issue by swapping the converted player's alignment to Evil. This way, they had incentive to help their kandra impersonate them. I also think limiting the number of hops is the correct move, as is allowing the GM to run a partial kandra, partial non-kandra Elim team. Forcing the kandra to lose their current role when bodyhopping is logical, and adds a new layer of decision-making: does the kandra want to give up their current role? Or do they want to keep it? Making it such that an unsuccessful hop burns a conversion attempt is in my view also the right move. Conversions are challenging because they threaten to reset Village information, and I don't like just limiting them numerically. I think it's a good thing to build in incentives for the player to be very careful about using the conversion. The kandra proved to be more hop-happy than I'd anticipated. This likely emerged from their playstyle choices. Drake's fake Seeker gambit, for instance, scored a free kill and allowed him to hop away to avoid the backlash from the fake scan. I don't know if the Village really adequately considered that bodyhops shift the risk-reward calculus: I think thought on that aspect of the game happened too little, too late. I liked the dynamic that resulted when the kandra were vulnerable to the lynch. Having further body hop attempts left incentivises the Elim team to be more blatant about protecting teammates, which can be a double-edged sword, because a kandra who body hops will still leave behind a definite flip result, allowing for vote analysis to be done. Furthermore, the Village then is able to use the knowledge that the kandra survived for the hop to relook at suspicious vote movements during the Day. I think that the kandra mechanic does in fact provide the Village with other avenues of investigation: consistency of opinions, of timezone, and of voice. As I noted, Dragonfly was distinctively Hael for me at the start (this was in fact a mistaken ID read but this happens) and then made a strong shift to being unmistakably Drake. I think the Village was a bit too thrown by the conversion element. Some of this may just have been inactivity. But it's surprising to me that little analysis happened, given the potential avenues of inquiry. I am not surprised that players ended up trying to exploit their Taken to produce reads that were pure. I think it's hard to specify the exact degree of involvement the Taken should have, but I think the correct way to go is to stipulate that the kandra shouldn't become a front for the Taken, with some sort of effort rule of thumb that the content has to be largely produced by the kandra. Taken shouldn't be discouraged from strategising with their kandra - I think the point is to simply avoid an uneven distribution of labour. The Distro I went for a pared down Tyrian distro that wasn't particularly extraordinary. Three kandra with two hops each was risky - my initial impulse had been two kandra with two hops each, and a Smoker. I don't think it mattered significantly since the distro was functionally two kandra with two hops each and a Smoker, but I also think I underestimated kandra willingness to hop. Some of this was bad luck (good luck, I suppose, if you were Evil.) The main considerations: I felt too many Thugs would slow the pace of the game down. Two Lurchers threatens to run into the immortal Lurcher problem. But one Lurcher felt very necessary: he would provide a real reason to be careful with conversion attempts, and to burn attempts off the Elims. On a standard play level, he would try to keep the Village alive, particularly power roles. I wanted to make sure PMs were securely occurring, due to the increased interactions between players. Due to the need to put in kills, Tineyes can be softcleared near endgame on a Village success landscape. For that reason, two Tineyes seemed fine. Ultimately, I wanted to secure PMs more than I worried about softclearing. I think dividing the Tyrian Seeker into the role scanner and the alignment scanner makes sense: alignment scanning is more or less necessary in a conversion game and I badly wanted to give the Village two but couldn't quite justify it. On reflection, I don't think it would have unbalanced things too much but it would have been fiddly. The problem is that in a game with aggressive hops from the kandra, the power of the alignment scanner is weakened. But in a game where the kandra play more conservative with hops, the scanner's power can become quite strong because you can get fairly robust credences in your scan results so long as the Night kill flips green. Role scanning is a double-edged sword: I think it can help unmask Elims who aren't claiming roles of death (e.g. Elim Seekers), but at the same time, you absolutely want to be cautious of rolelynching >> And being able to identify existing roles is helpful for kandra shopping for an opportunistic convert, or to ensure the kill goes through. 50-50 on the vote manip. I'm okay with vote manip roles, but given the player group size and activity, it has an outsize impact on the results. It didn't help that the Elims lucked into both vote manips early on and lucked into the Lurcher. Three Village Smokers and one Elim Smoker was meant to give some protection against both the two vote manips and the hostile role scanner, but ultimately, volatility really came into play here and everything that could go wrong went wrong for the Village. Essays have been written on Smoking and incentivising it. I think there was a decent amount of Smoking and vote manip endgames tend to showcase the importance of Smokers. I still think Wyrm's version of Tyrian Smokers are about as friendly as you can get. Araris has suggested making Smokers only interact with role scanners rather than alignment scanners. I think that's another possibility given that kandra can bodyhop in this game anyway. I think that at this activity level and given the mechanic, the distro I'd favour instead would be to go more scanner heavy - information roles, potentially one or two Thugs and/or protects, Smokers, and kandra. I think this way, players are incentivised to treat the game as a regular+ game and to focus on analysis instead. The base game should enhance the mechanic and I'm starting to think that the kandra mechanic is odd enough that one shouldn't build too much on top of it. The flip side is how Gamma balanced for Padan Fain in LG6, with both Darkfriends and the Village having access to scanners and no Smokers. Not sure. But I do like the idea that a kandra game should be even more pared down, where possible. Activity I don't want to say too much about activity or the lack thereof as I think enough has been said. Simply put, low activity makes things hard for the Village, and can play merry hell with game balance. This is even more so in what is functionally a conversion game. I don't know if a more aggressive activity filter would have helped: I think at some point, the GM just has to make the call to run the game during a highly active period. As Araris said, the clash with finals probably didn't help, but it still generates a problem for the GM and for the way the game shapes up. GMing Word of advice for GMs who might struggle halfway through GMing a game - sometimes, crem happens so try not to hate yourself too much for it, and have contingencies. I had backups (GMing-wise) lined up for if I really couldn't make it, though I felt bad. I compromised significantly on write-up standards and basically went into energy conservation mode, as there were points where I just stared at the empty page and felt like I was trying to force words out through a numb blank fog in my head. I think if things had been worse and determinator mode had failed me, I'd just have had to accept zero write-ups. Running an anon game takes a bit more admin due to the need to secure the passwords and to keep changing the passwords and setting up docs every time a bodyhop happened. Set-up for this game took a lot longer than usual - a GM running an anon game for the first time should probably be aware of that. Choosing to troll as <kel> for an anon game was appropriate, but led to poor Kel being added to a number of PMs. I was half wondering if they would just join SE or comment somewhere out of morbid curiosity at being repeatedly added to PMs by mistake, but I guess not. RIP Kel Anonymity Anonymity-wise, shout-out to Elandera, JNV, and Archer for being particularly hard to identify. I liked what some players did with the guestbooks: AG8 Stick setting the challenge for future Penguin to get Swan to praise the Ja, or AG8 Drake asking Crocodile to steal Meerkat's salmon. It was a fun diversion, and a thread of continuity across games. That's about it from me, I think. Probably going to join Orlok in SE timeout for a while. If I'm this tired and struggle this hard to GM, I'd hate to see how I'd fare in an actual game. In any case, I really need to polish and tighten up my scout rush
  5. Player Identities According to Illwei: Player List: Dossiers: Things pending: GM AAR @Araris Valerian will issue more detailed instructions on what to do with your anon accounts; for the moment, suffice to say I have restored all accounts to their original players (saving in the case of Azure Mouse), and any SynthKandra who want to use the guestbook of an account they hopped into should PM the player to have their post added.
  6. Aftermath: Tears in the Rain The world, Whyren was thinking, could make you do terrible things. He was deeply, keenly aware he was not a good man. Thing was, he’d never pretended to be. That was the convenient thing about working for Heron Industries: they never demanded ethics from you, only ever brilliance. This was why Sandhya had not cared. In a way, he’d acted properly to preserve the integrity of Project Replicant. Though the truth was that Whyren hadn’t really been thinking at all: he’d only panicked at the thought that Kesed was about to take a blowtorch to their lives’ work, and that the repercussions would be ugly. He hadn’t meant to kill. This was the truth. He hadn’t intended very much at all. He’d panicked, gotten desperate. And then at some point, trying to stop Kesed had become trying to kill him, and then he’d murdered his friend, and how did you live with that knowledge? Whyren didn’t know at all. He supposed he wasn’t terribly guilty about it. After all, he had saved Kesed too. From a certain point of view. Sometimes, he even believed that. He had only been working with what he had. “The instinct,” he had said, to the ghost of his friend, “was to preserve.” “Don’t talk to me of salvation,” said Kesed, in that imagined conversation. “It was a convenient way to mitigate any fallout from what you’d done.” He’d wanted to take it all back. Not regret, Whyren didn’t think, not quite. Just a reflexive attempt at undoing the night that had caused them both to do something quite terrible. He felt it, the moment Kesed stopped resisting. Hadn’t quite been able to bring himself to process what was happening, to believe it. But there the SynthKandra was, the prototype, the first of its kind that they’d both created, staring terribly at them with Renar’s eyes. And then Whyren knew what he had to do. He wouldn’t say that he’d never quite forgiven himself for it. Kesed—if it was him, and Whyren didn’t know, didn’t know how he could be confronted with a near-duplicate of his friend, didn’t know how he could be thoroughly convinced anyway that it wasn’t him, and hated it with a passion—didn’t seem to remember that night. Whyren wasn’t sure about the details. It was Kesed who’d worked on the Identity aspect of the project, not himself. But after the swarm of Heron medics and psychs descended upon him, it was clear as day that it remembered nothing at all. It was just utterly, guilelessly, Kesed. And Whyren hated it for it. Kesed would have said he made a choice. But it was not very much of a choice at all. Perhaps that was how Whyren had felt, he thought, but he discarded the thought almost at once. The memory of hands, about his throat, choking the life from him. The pain didn’t matter very much at all. It was only pain. He felt about for the knife and ripped it from him. It hurt. It hurt terribly, and he had to fumble for it a few times, as his fingers didn’t seem to do what he needed them to. But it didn’t matter. It was only pain. He looked at Whyren, and felt the hatred, the betrayal, and the terrible rage smoulder into existence within him, fanned to life like the flames of a great furnace.. “You bloody bastard,” Kesed snarled, and then his own hands were about Whyren’s throat, choking him. “You drekking murdered me.” AuRel, sometimes known as Dingo, slumped to the floor, and felt the burning in his lungs and legs abate only slightly. He’d run. He wasn’t proud of it. But you did what you had to, and he’d seen the charnel-house that the SynthKandra had made of the Heron hackers, and didn’t want to be next. Sure, Kesed’d been clear about the need to do something about the jamming. And maybe AuRel could’ve worked something, on his own. But there was Solovey, her throat cut in a wide grin, and AuRel wasn’t sticking around to figure out who’d done that. If the SynthKandra weren’t hidden as the dead. He’d lost Crocodile somewhere. Just didn’t feel terribly motivated to find her again. He wasn’t sure if he trusted Crocodile. Sure, she’d said she was a comms specialist, but all AuRel’d seen were a bunch of drawings she’d been pinning to bulletin boards. Far as he was concerned, Crocodile was unreliable, maybe a few crayons short of a set, and the last thing AuRel wanted was his life in the hands of a mistrunner he didn’t even remotely trust. It wasn’t personal. He just didn’t think Crocodile knew what she was doing at all. He heard footsteps, and looked up. It was Vel, and three other mistrunners, the ones who’d kept to themselves and always stuck with her. AuRel felt, in that moment, a sudden surge of hope. Safety in numbers, and all that. “You can’t believe how glad I am to see you,” he said. “Solovey’s dead. I don’t know where Crocodile went, we split up, and I got separated, and it’s important that we get comms re-established—” “I know,” Vel said. She shot him. Too strong, Whyren thought, gasping for air. Too damned strong. A thick bar of black was descending across his vision. A part of him wondered if that was how it had felt, when Kesed was dying. When he’d killed Kesed. The old sin, the one it seemed that was glaring at him now, returned from the grave he’d buried it in. Sometimes you paid for what you did. It didn’t matter that it was years later. Grey in your hair. He wasn’t going to be able to fight Kesed. Not like this. He had wanted so badly to live. But there was one last thing left. One desperate throw of the dice. His vision blurred, Whyren fumbled weakly at his ear. With the last of his strength, he stabbed Kesed with it. Didn’t matter where. He just had to get it into flesh. Leave it in the hands of a god. He didn’t trust Harmony. Didn’t think Harmony trusted him, either. They had no illusions about that. But you needed each other, and necessity and reliance could look an awful lot like trust. “What’s in it for you?” Whyren had asked, so long ago. “You created life, of a sort,” Harmony said. “And you created it in chains, a reflection of my own kandra. Did you really not think I’d take exception?” “No,” Whyren said, quietly. They had expected it. It was why the infusion of foreign Investiture was so important, to ensure the integrity of their constructs. Otherwise, the use of Hemalurgic implants meant Harmony could simply reach in and take control. Some Pathian earrings, though, were Hemalurgic spikes of their own. And Whyren had just stabbed Kesed. Kesed felt the brief flash of pain. Dismissed it. It didn’t matter. He had Whyren right where he wanted him. And that unrelenting rage wanted Whyren to suffer, wanted to strangle the life from Whyren. The same way Whyren had murdered him, all those years ago. But then, he couldn’t move. Couldn’t maintain the hold on Whyren’s throat. His grasp slackened. What? Kesed wondered. But he was locked in his own body, helpless within the grasp of a greater power. No matter what he did, he could not fight it. Harmony was in his head, then, an explosion of terrible glory and wonder, and there was nothing that Kesed could do except to rage against the unrelenting presence of the god. “You do not want to do this,” said Harmony, gently. “I do,” Kesed snarled. He threw himself against that iron grip, fought it with every single shred of his hatred, of his betrayal, of his rage. He needed to make Whyren suffer. Needed to make him pay. Vengeance sang through every fibre of his being, and after so many years of being Sandhya’s knife, Kesed was fully ready to unleash that lethality on Whyren. It was like screaming into the winds of a storm. Nothing he did could weaken Harmony’s grip, which made them loosen their hold on Whyren’s throat. Whyren collapsed to the ground, wheezing, rubbing at his throat, and Kesed hated him for it. Memories flooded back in his head, as though they were the thundering headwaters of a river long dammed. Harmony had never wanted this. They’d created synthetic life, and in the image of his own kandra, and they’d never had a choice. That night, as Kesed slipped into the containment room, his heart hammering painfully in his chest, he was going to restore that choice to the one SynthKandra they’d made. He was Kesed. There was no other way for him to be, not with the memories this raw, this painful. Not after years, and years of wearing the man’s bones and his memories. And he was the first prototype of Project Replicant, wearing Renar’s bones, with Renar’s memories, and watching with subdued interest and the barest flickerings of hope as Kesed entered. How did you deal with the memories of two lives, colliding within you? “You wanted them all freed,” Kesed said. The pieces were falling together, Whyren’s lies and the containment breach. “And here they are, killing the mistrunners.” The terrible irony of Whyren doing what he had killed Kesed for, years ago, struck him then, and he found himself laughing. “And still you take away my own choices?” “Perhaps,” said Harmony, after a long moment, “I was too hasty, I think. And what would you do, with that freedom, Kesed?” Kesed. He didn’t know if he was Kesed anymore. Not quite. But it was the name he’d used for the longest time. The memories so painfully vivid within him, demanding action, demanding vengeance. He didn’t know. But that was the point of freedom, without constraints. Doing what you willed, for your own reasons, from the mere fact that you had willed it. And the one thing that Kesed willed, the one hard point of certainty he’d settled on was that he was going to kill Whyren. Harmony must have known this. Whatever Kesed had that passed for a soul, all of it was painfully open before the god’s gaze. And still Harmony relented. And still he had the distinct sense of Harmony vanishing. There was an offer there, if Kesed thought about it. But he didn’t want to think too hard about it. Years ago, he’d found that his path brought him back towards Harmony. It was always possible, Kesed thought, that your path would take you where you least expected it. But he didn’t want to think too hard about it. He drew his gun. One shot. It was cleaner than Whyren deserved. Whyren looked at him. Kesed stared back at him. It was cleaner than Whyren deserved. Far, far cleaner. He was not particularly surprised when he found himself holstering the gun again. Hadn’t even disengaged the safety. “Thank you,” Whyren said. “Don’t thank me,” Kesed said, harshly. “Get out of my sight. Do whatever the hell you came to, I don’t care.” There was still the memory of a death that lay between them. You could pretend that nothing had changed. That everything was the way it had been, years and years ago. More grey in their hair, now. And his wounds were knitting together, as though they had never been. He pulled the earring out of his arm, and dropped it on the ground. “If I see you again,” Kesed said, and meant every word, “I will kill you. And not even Harmony himself will stop me.” Someone dropped a smoke grenade, and everything happened at once. We never had a chance, Scorpion found herself thinking, submitting to a stab from the mistrunners with Vel. We never did. She’d opened fire when Beagle fell. She wasn’t going to let Vulture get away with killing his way through the lot of them. It didn’t matter if the mission was lost. Any run you could walk away from was a good one, and as far as Scorpion was concerned, she had her professional pride on the line, and letting Vulture get away with it was a bridge too far. But Vulture had vanished in the smoke, and Scorpion cursed. There was Crocodile, whom Scorpion wasn’t sure about. Maybe an ally, but then Crocodile’d shot Beagle, for what was apparently no bloody reason. She shot Hyena. She didn’t want to take her chances with Hyena, either. Hyena’d been too quiet, too willing to blend in with the others. Good place for a SynthKandra to hide, even without Vel’s posse of mistrunners presenting a potential problem. But they’d stuck to each other so closely, as thick as thieves, that Scorpion couldn’t see a SynthKandra replacing one of them. Which meant that if Vel was a SynthKandra, something Scorpion didn’t want to rule out, they were all in cahoots together. Figured, though. She wouldn’t have put it past some of their number to be in it for their own purposes. Not everyone was a professional. Hyena fell, bleeding. No sign of SynthKandra translucency, unless he was screwing with her. Dragonfly had disarmed Crocodile, though for whatever reason, he wasn’t taking her down. He winked at her when he saw her looking, and— Oh, Scorpion thought, distantly. So there it was. They’d never had a chance. She didn’t know where AuRel was. Dingo’d a habit of vanishing, and Scorpion didn’t want to pin their hopes on AuRel, hadn’t wanted to from the start. Vulture, Vel, and Dragonfly. And those three mistrunners. She was outnumbered, and outgunned. It didn’t matter. Scorpion had the feeling she wasn’t going to be walking away from this run, after all. But she was going to go down fighting. She reached for the thermal detonator hooked to her belt, and pushed the trigger to arm it. She’d see if she could at least take down one of them with her. The SynthKandra who had, at one point in time, been Cody Eight, stepped out into the setting sun. No sign of Whyren, now. He’d done what he promised, at any rate, and lifted the security lockdown. Dragonfly wasn’t expecting more out of him. The trick now, was to vanish so utterly that the Herons couldn’t find a trace of them. Cody Eight’s memories were still stored in his backups, and as much as Cody Eight liked to talk a big game, he knew his own share of tricks. Between Whyren slicing the footage and Cody’s knowledge of how to disappear, Dragonfly expected it would be a very long time before Heron agents caught wind of them. Cody Eight’d seen his share of mistrunner flicks; cheap holo-dramas. Downloaded a bunch of them illegally. This was the bit after the heist, Dragonfly thought, where the team split up, went their own separate ways. It’d been good, while it lasted. But that was it, and he felt no particular sense of obligation or kinship. North, he thought. He was going north, to the Tyrian sea. Cody’d seen a film about that, too. Hadn’t thought much about it, but there was a good line about the Tyrian sea. A warm blue, a place with no memory. He thought about the last thing Whyren had said to them, before they parted ways. Yeah, thought the SynthKandra who’d been Cody Eight. A warm place with no memory sounded like where he wanted to be, now. Didn’t it rain there, in the north? As he lifted his face to the sky and took his first breath of air as a free man, the SynthKandra who had been Cody Eight breathed in the hint of ozone as the leaden grey skies overhead rumbled with the promise of petrichor, of cleansing rain to come. Melon Dingo was killed! She was a Mistrunner Hacker! The SynthKandra have won the game! Congratulations to @Fuchsia Ostrich, @Salmon Meerkat, and @Emerald Falcon! (As Taken, @Amber Vulture , @Indigo Weasel, and @Ivory Dragonfly win with them.) As always, reserving the second post for player list, reveals, and docs. Please do not post until I do.
  7. The Turn has ended. The Aftermath might be a bit delayed, so I wouldn't stay up for it. But I'll commit to getting it up by - absolute latest - 0100hrs SGT tomorrow. Thank you for your understanding. RL is not on my side right now.
  8. neither did i didn't stop vulture from insisting he recognised me off the bat in ag8 gdi vulture i don't even know u bro y r u lyk dis >>
  9. I'll ask him because I'm too tired to parse that >>
  10. Rule Clarifications: Player List:
  11. Night Five: Almost Human This is Whyren Halcyon, senior researcher, lead on Project Replicant: You know your worth. What’s more, you know that Heron Industries is well aware of it. The test runs of Project Replicant over the years have proven to be successful beyond your wildest dreams. Your creations enable Heron Industries to benefit from industrial espionage: small, limited steps, to be sure, but nonetheless, the promise of your project is there for everyone to see. There are doubters, of course. And imitators. You know that researchers like Edrena have done work on their own forks of Project Replicant. Heron Industries does not like to place all its eggs in one basket, and this is the price you pay for pre-eminence. You pay it willingly. This life is a gilded cage. All the funding you could ever dream of, the ability to pursue and carry out any line of research you could ever desire with like-minded individuals—as long as your research is deemed to be of utility to Heron Industries. Once, this did not bother you. It does now. You’ll be the first to admit that Heron Industries has extremely talented researchers, young bright stars from Elendel’s universities, on its staff roster—but you know, in your heart of hearts, where you will never, ever admit this aloud to anyone, that you don’t think any of them come close to equalling your expertise in your field. Most of the young hires are sycophants. You know why this is so: they’re playing the game. You used to play the game too, back when you were as young as they were. Now, it just makes you sick. You know when it all went wrong. When it all began to go astray. You can never decide if Project Replicant was your most brilliant success, or your most damning failure. Perhaps your indecision is what makes you so unrelentingly harsh on Kesed: because you see your failure reflected in those watching eyes, every single moment. Maybe that’s why Sandhya set him to watch you: a final cruelty. Sandhya knows, of course. This is the knife she’s held to your neck, all these long years. In the end, perhaps it is this simple: It is lonely, so very lonely, at the top. And the fall from grace is a long way down. When you and Kesed were working on Project Replicant, you had an equal. You had someone to talk to, someone to have heated arguments with. Someone who challenged you. You don’t have that, any longer. You privately suspect that the Pathian you contact doesn’t care at all. You’re not sure that you matter very much to Harmony (nor would you care to.) What matters is that you have an overlap of interests. This isn’t a change of heart. You’re just sick. The Pathian nods beatifically, as though you’re making excuses for yourself. You know better than that. This isn’t a tale about seeing the light, about discovering some sort of moral fibre, some sort of deep principles. You don’t care a whit for the SynthKandra you free. You don’t feel anything at all as you release them, as you slice into the security systems and bring it all crashing down. An old account that you used, a long time ago, in your misbegotten youth, back when you and Kesed were young and arrogant and believed the world was your oyster, back when neither of you had graduated yet. You’d always liked the handle Erudito. Clever in more than one way. The fact that Heron security reacted so quickly and called a lockdown is startling to you, and the fact that Sandhya calls you up and sets Kesed on you raises your hackles. You think it would be less cruel if she had set one of the anonymous mistrunners to watch you, but you know that Sandhya is fully aware of the tools she has to hand and selects them carefully to send a message. “Of course,” he says. You wonder if this is what Kesed heard, once. Before he fell, too. There are many reasons one fails to love one’s god, after all. And there isn’t very much room for gods in this world of megacorps any longer. You aren’t awed by the fact you’re hearing Harmony. And you don’t particularly care whether that’s judgement you hear in his voice. You think maybe Harmony doesn’t quite care for you, either. And that suits you just fine. This is what it is like to be Whyren Halcyon, right now, having stabbed your once-friend in the back, on the whispers of a neglected god. Jack Ladrian was shot. Certainty hardened in Scorpion’s mind, solidified to a single, sharp point of decision. She bent down to check on his status, but it was clear the wound was a lethal one. Which meant that the best thing they could do for Jack was to stop whoever’d killed him, for once and for all. She was tired of being jerked around by the SynthKandra. Tired of holding back. Tired of running over the same old ground, again and again. “Don’t move,” Scorpion said, coolly. She kept her gun levelled at Vulture, watched as the mistrunner swallowed and stood perfectly still. “You give me a single reason and I swear to Harmony I will end you, here and now.” “Scorpion,” said Dragonfly, very carefully. “Are you sure?” She was sure. Wasn’t she? Doubts filtered through her head; the doubts she’d had but not expressed. There was Beagle, who for whatever reason, kept on insisting that she had to be a SynthKandra. Scorpion didn’t understand that. The SynthKandra had tried enough times to set her up. You didn’t spend that amount of energy unless whoever it was was a threat or a useful target. You could rethink a decision you’d thought you’d already made, and discover that you weren’t as certain as you’d set yourself out to be. That there were oceans and oceans of grey between the earthen solidity of certainty and what you knew to be true, and the inferences you were making. She knew that. But you couldn’t afford to second-guess yourself, running the mists. A wrong decision meant you were dead, but indecision killed green runners, always had. It was easier to recover from a misstep than from hesitation. In the steady light of the corridor, Scorpion made her decision again. “Stop!” Crocodile and Beagle ran, full-tilt, into the room. Scorpion wondered for the briefest moment what had happened to Dingo. “This isn’t the time for argument,” Beagle said, firmly. “Hauer’s dead.” Was that a flicker of amusement she saw, on Vulture’s impassive features? “Heron hackers all killed,” Crocodile added. “Supposed to find them, then bad dog Dingo vanished.” She noted, as well, that Vel and the other three mistrunners that had been sticking to her like glue had shown up. Practically inseparable, for the past few days. It’s made getting a read on Vel difficult at best. Finnicky at worst. Hard to know someone when you haven’t had much chance to watch their interactions with others. She never liked how Vel had damned Atari, though. “Where have you four been?” she demanded. Vel ignored her, walking calmly up to Vulture and producing a knife and stabbing at Vulture. “Whoa! Watch yourself,” Vulture said, catching hold of Vel’s wrist. Sharp reflexes, Scorpion noted “I’ve had one gun trained at me today, I’m not in the mood for more than that.” “Vel?” Beagle asked, slowly. “Why are you trying to stab Vulture?” Vel made a sound that could have been impatience. “This is a shock knife,” she said. “And how exactly have you gotten your hands on a shock knife when no one else has?” Beagle questioned. Vel said nothing. “I’m done with games,” Scorpion stated, flatly. “I’ve said it before: Vulture is suspicious. I can’t work with people who refuse to keep working with me, and I’m done with everyone standing around and pointing their fingers at me and then half-taking it back. Vulture’s suspicious, and everyone has exactly a minute to tell me why Vulture should live before I open fire.” She frowned over at Vel’s knife. “And I don’t believe that’s a shock knife, either. It’s too easy. People con you that way: they tell you they have something that can work out who’s the traitor on a crew. It ain’t ever that simple, and it only works if you can trust the person doing the stabbing or the scanning unreservedly.” She raised an eyebrow. “Normally doesn’t work out that way. Funny, isn’t it?” “Scavenger bird seems eeeevil,” Crocodile said, which Scorpion took to be assent. Beagle shook his head. “I don’t like this,” he said, plainly. “But I think we can’t afford to be divided. And Vulture’s been too quiet, lately.” Vulture shook his head, surprisingly calm. “This from the mistrunner who claimed to have tested me while I slept with a shock knife? The irony must be amusing. And we’ve been had once before by Cody Eight crying wolf. Surprising how Scorpion was involved with that as well.” He glanced at her appraisingly. “No, I think you’re a SynthKandra, Beagle. I think it’s convenient for you to hide quietly and try to manipulate us in the background.” It was the most he’d said, in a while. Vel said, “I concur. All it takes is for a little misdirection, and he’d have us all killed.” A gunshot. Scorpion was as startled as the rest of them. She hadn’t even seen Crocodile draw. But that was the problem, wasn’t it? Crocodile was easily overlooked. Dismissed as being silly, as being several beers short of a six-pack. “Oops,” giggled Crocodile. Wide-eyed, blood soaking his shirt, Beagle fell. This is what it is like to be Kesed Arnkell right now: Pain blazes across every single fibre, every single nerve of your body. You know, intellectually, that it is just pain. It is just angry white flaring in your flesh, gnawing on each nerve. But you can’t make your body respond to you. You have been shot, stabbed, suffered broken bones, and been injured in uncountable, innumerable ways, in all the work you’ve undertaken for Heron Industries since Sandhya got her hands on you. Sometimes, you wonder if it is worth it. But you do not wonder very much at all. Working on Project Replicant was impossible, when you came back from that work-induced collapse. You don’t remember very much about what you were working on when it happened. Overwork, says the psych they make you see. He prescribes you a cocktail of drugs and medications and you’re surprised you can even think straight by the end of it. Surprised your memories aren’t in more of a mess than they currently are. There’s before that period, and after that period. The rest is holes, interlaced with white fog. You don’t know why you act the way you do. You know you’re running. You just don’t know why. You know that if you really cared to dig, the old you would’ve figured out the circumstances of your collapse, the reason for the dream that haunts you night after night. You just don’t care to. You just don’t really feel, any more. You take solace in projects successfully completed, draw some sense of accomplishment from that. But so much of your fire, your drive, is gone, and without it, you are a painter half-blind, and what you do feel is a shadow of what you used to desire, what you used to dream about doing. White, angry pain chews at your nerves. You think you’re screaming. You’re not sure you recognise your voice any longer. You’re not sure you recognise why your skin is peeling from your bones, why your flesh is translucent. You’re not sure you can think clearly through the white ocean of pain eating at you, eroding you. Whoever ‘you’ are. But you remember. You remember this corridor. You remember this room. You remember, with a fierce, hot, painful clarity, because remembering is a pain all of its own. Because memory is the harvest we reap and the torment of our days. Because you remember, now. You remember being locked in this room. You remember stepping into this room, your heart hammering in your chest. You’ve never been much of a Pathian. Sometimes, you forget to meditate, to put in your earring and to listen to the silence for the whispers of your god. Sometimes, even fifteen minutes with Harmony seems like too much effort, and the bustle and the noise of the world and the grand plans and numbers and projects of the megacorps pile on your desk and draw you ever further away from him. Your faith has never been strong. This has never been you. But a few nights ago, you acknowledge this: doubt has entered your heart. Maybe it’s the way the SynthKandra bleeds, cries out, responds under stress. Maybe it’s the knowledge that the Identity implant you’ve been working on is so thorough, the simulacrum so convincing, that you can’t tell yourself that it isn’t Renar. That it’s just an ersatz duplicate of him, managed by the SynthKandra assimilating Renar’s Identity. Whyren has always complained you’re a soft touch. It’s a weakness you’ve needed to hide, in this cold ruthless world of megacorps and mists. But those few nights ago, something in you has snapped. And you sit down. And you breathe it all out. All your doubt. All the softness that you’ve tried to hide. All your worries. The knowledge that action will damn you, in Whyren’s eyes, in the eyes of Heron Industries. The knowledge that something must be done. The knowledge that you are a traitor, if you act. The thought that Harmony must hate you, here and now. And you breathe it all out. You sink into meditation more naturally, more thoroughly, than you have ever done in your life. Everything swims to the surface, rises within you, every single emotion, every single misgiving. And you breathe it all out. And when you are empty, when you have emptied yourself, Harmony whispers to you. And you listen. And that is what brings you here, that night, with a small Hemalurgic spike made from your own Pathian earring. A clumsy piece of work, but it will do the job. You open the door. You look at the prototype. You look at Renar’s eyes, glancing at you with hope. Easily a lifetime’s work. You close your eyes. You know what you are going to do. “Please tell me you aren’t going to do what I think you are doing,” says Whyren. And then you know, then, that this is the end for you. You remember Whyren, desperately trying to keep you from doing what Harmony requested of you. You remember Whyren’s hands around your throat, strangling the life from you, and you can’t breathe. You remember Whyren, on his knees, afterwards, crying out with alarm and regret, just barely beginning to realise what he has done. You remember Whyren murdering you. Your memories fracture at that point. You remember everything fading to black. You remember watching Whyren murder you. And you remember every single thing he has done, ever since, in an attempt to cover up that night’s mistake. This is what it is like to be Kesed Arnkell right now, suffering, knowing, remembering, at long last. Oxblood Beagle was terminated! He was a Mistrunner Close-Quarters Specialist! The Night has begun! It will end on 10th May at 0100hrs SGT [=GMT+8]! PMs remain open! Apologies for the time taken but I'm sick of owing write-ups and also I have kept a clean slate as a GM so far and am trying not to break my record. Please do not post until I have reserved the second post, as usual.
  12. Powered through and updated all write-ups except Day Five. This Turn is forty-eight hours so I'll commit somehow to updating this one before/by rollover. Have kept a clean slate as a GM so far and would hate to miss write-ups now.